Scott Ihrig and Shannon Morrison literally put the I and M in IM Creative, an event design and production firm that prides itself on creating integrated and interactive in-person experiences that reverberate long after they’re over.
IM Creative works with corporations, governments and non-profits, and its work covers a spectrum of live experiences, including internal training and sales meetings, employee recognition events and trips, marketing and public relations events, and celebratory galas.
“We believe there is spontaneous magic that is only possible when people gather in the same space,” says Shannon Morrison, creative director at IM Creative. “In an age when connecting has come to mean a mouse click or text, we’re old school in our values and new school in our approach. We believe actually being together creates community, connects us, and changes us like nothing else.”
IM Creative’s principals believe that live experiences have the most profound effect when they are produced in the context of, and in alignment with, their clients’ overall goals.
“Our professional and theatrical backgrounds compel us to think about live experiences as important statements in the larger conversation our clients are already having with their key stakeholders,” Morrison says. “We are the storytellers who can integrate these statements into the larger experiential arc and, in doing so, fulfill business or societal goals more effectively.”
To learn more about IM Creative, including how The New York Times real estate section prompted the company’s move to Columbus, what’s the biggest challenge it has faced since relocating, and which big name corporations are among its clients, read our interview with Morrison below.
The Metropreneur: When was IM Creative founded?
Shannon Morrison: IM Creative was founded in 2000. I had been working producing Broadway shows and writing musicals on the side, while Scott Ihrig, the company’s executive producer, had transitioned from a law career to working as a producer for the Radio City Rockettes. We met, discovered an amazing synergy in our working styles and skill sets, decided to embark on this endeavor together and the rest is history. Scott and I have 12-plus years experience producing face-to-face events in corporate/business settings around the world, based first in New York City and currently in Columbus, Ohio.
[M]: Why did you decide to relocate to Columbus in March 2010?
SM: After living in New York for ten years, we were simply burned out by how expensive and limiting New York can be for anyone who’s not a Trump. We decided to take our business and our lives elsewhere.
We were reading a column in The New York Times’ real estate section and saw a home in Victorian Village among the offerings. Even though we had never been to Columbus, our interest was piqued. Looking at that column, we realized that for the price of a 200-square-foot apartment in New York you can have a beautiful home in Columbus.
So we decided to check it out. We were completely charmed when we came for a visit and immediately felt at home here. So we packed up the dogs, moved into a house in the Victorian Village, and now we visit New York for fun.
[M]: How many employees does the company have?
SM: IM Creative prides itself on providing clients with creative, fully customized solutions, and doing so in such a way that is affordable and scalable. Our salaried staff is small by design. We have five full-time associates and we pull from a deep bench of talent for specific projects. Our ability to stay nimble in the face of an economy that has been unkind to larger companies has allowed us to flourish and enables our clients to receive the best solutions available in the event market.
Our years of experience have allowed us to identify the best and brightest talent in the industry, and to utilize that deep bench of experience to our clients’ advantage. The collaborative philosophy of bringing the right partners to the table to create amazing face-to-face events has served as a solid foundation for growth from a small startup to the agency of choice for clients including UPS, CISCO Systems, and AstraZeneca.
[M]: Other clients include Microsoft, Canon, GQ, L’Oréal. Do you work with smaller companies, too?
SM: As completely independent small business owners, we have a deep respect for other small companies slugging it out in this economy. While our end clients tend to be larger organizations, not all of our clients are household names. We also partner with companies of all sizes to form an ecosystem that includes ad agencies and public relations firms that need our specialized services, to the various behind the scene experts that make an event come to life.
[M]: You’ve said IM Creative wants to use local resources whenever possible. Can you explain what you mean by that?
SM: Columbus has an amazing wealth of talent in its business community and we actively support local businesses by using their services whenever possible. The positive effects of using local resources transcend beyond the business community into areas like education and the arts, too.
[M]: What’s been the biggest challenge to relocating the company to Columbus?
SM: Explaining our 212 area code to people. Seriously, it hasn’t really been that challenging. We’re new kids on the block, so there’s the challenge of meeting folks and getting our name out there in the community, but that’s just a matter of time. We’re laying down strong roots here, so we’re very optimistic about our future in Columbus.
[M]: So far, what has been the best aspect of working in Columbus?
SM: Honestly, we feel like we are in on a secret that most of the world hasn’t yet figured out. Columbus is this centrally located, urbane city filled with creative people from incredibly diverse backgrounds. It’s the perfect place for an agency like ours to call home because we still have constant creative stimulation without all the hassle and expense of the big city.
It really is the best of all worlds, both for us and our clients. We still get those funny looks from people when we tell them we went from NYC to CMH, but its clearly because they’ve never been here. If they had, they’d know why we’ve made this our home.
[M]: Is there anything else you think I should know?
SM: It’s just such a busy time at IM Creative! Amid all of our client work around the country, we’re also trying to finish outfitting our sexy new office in the Short North and plan our wedding− all at the same time! And let me tell you, when you’re an event professional planning your own wedding there are some high expectations to meet!
We promised ourselves that our wedding wouldn’t just become another project in our office, but it has. We now have stage managers, prop lists and [audio-visual], in addition to a caterer and a florist, and all that wedding stuff. And did I mention the drag queen?
No joke! Scott and I are thrilled to be tying the knot here in Columbus, so that all our family and friends can see what an amazing place Columbus is for our business and our life.
To learn more about IM Creative, visit I-M-Creative.com.