If you’re a creative freelancer, constantly being on the lookout for your next gig is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job. Having an agency that’s advocating for you and ready to call if they find a position that fits your skills? Invaluable. That’s the concept behind niche staffing agency, Portfolio Creative.
The firm is celebrating a decade of successfully pairing clients with just the right creative talent for everything from temporary to full-time positions. President & Co-Founder Catherine Lang-Cline says staying nimble and evolving to meet clients’ needs have helped the agency reach the milestone.
In their 10-year span, Portfolio Creative has also expanded to a second office in Pittsburgh with additional locations not out of the question. Below Lang-Cline shares more about her agency’s specialized services and what the next decade holds.
[M] Briefly tell us about your background and how Portfolio Creative was started.
In 2005, I founded Portfolio Creative with Kristen Harris. Prior to that we both worked in corporate advertising and marketing as designers and in related roles. I also worked as a freelancer, so we were very familiar with how clients hired for their teams and how freelancers found work.
We noticed that a lot of the time it was hard for clients to find help and freelancers to find projects. So based on that knowledge and experience, we created a staffing firm to fill a need in Columbus and now Pittsburgh – by understanding the importance of getting the right person in the right creative role.
[M] How have your services grown and evolved over the last 10 years?
In the beginning, it was all print. Designers, copywriters and production roles were the main positions we would fill. In the last 10 years everything went digital. Not only were we getting requests for entirely new skill sets, we need to find people who had those skills sets. It was new and it has been ever evolving in that space ever since.
[M] Why is it important to offer such services to creatives?
What we do is very important to creatives. As I mentioned, I was once a person in need of such help. When creatives work, they focus on the task at hand. Rarely are they continually looking for their next project. And, marketing themselves is one of the toughest things to do because the work that they do is very personal. It is all based on style and creativity and vision. They are not selected because they can get the numbers to match in two columns. Sometimes talking too confidently about their work can come off as having a big ego.
What we can do is call them when we have a project and then talk to clients about how fantastic they are. We can negotiate rates for them, which can also be a challenge for a creative person. They want the opportunity, but need to be paid for their excellence.
[M] Ten years is a significant milestone for a small business. What factors do you believe have contributed to your success?
We always hear the statistics of small businesses failing after five years or 10 years. We try not to think about that too much. A big part of our success has been a willingness to make changes if something doesn’t seem to be working. We ask a lot of questions. We talk to mentors and advisors. We never believe we know everything. We’ve always been willing to learn because that is how we can grow and change and stay current.
Also, we want to serve the creative community for a long time, so we try to always do what is fair and right for both our clients and the people we place. Being meticulous about trying to provide excellence keeps us challenged.
[M] What does the next 10 years hold? Any other expansion plans outside of Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is definitely our testing ground for expansion. When we are fully satisfied with the formula we have created there, we would love to take that to other places. We believe so much in how we are helping our clients and our placed talent that we want to expand and help others. We have looked at offering other services, but we want to make sure that we stay within our wheelhouse of expertise. Our roots are quite deep in design and providing innovative creative solutions and we want to always stay true to that.
For more information, visit portfolioiscreative.com