Fulcrum Creatives LLC −a new enterprise that caters specifically to arts, environmental, and caused-based organizations− was eight years in the making.
Jason Moore and Jamison Pack founded Fulcrum Design Corps LLC in 2002 in an attempt to capitalize on the former’s experience as a creative director and the latter’s public relations and marketing work with arts and human services organizations.
In 2008, in the midst of pursuing a master’s degree in non-profit management, doing freelance work for Fulcrum and building her own client base, Liz Samuelson and Moore discussed merging their businesses.
“We decided to come together with the goal of being more than we would on our own,” Moore explains.
To all parties concerned, it appeared to be a winning combination and in January Samuelson’s firm, Genuine Creative, merged with Fulcrum Design Corps to form Fulcrum Creatives.
“Today, we are communicators and more,” says Moore. “We are visual artists and marketing advocates, community activists and non-profit board members. We found our business on the mission of providing creative leverage for the greater good, with a focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. This reflects our personal values of social and environmental responsibility.”
Partners Moore, Pack, and Samuelson consider Fulcrum’s current incarnation a “full-service creative studio” offering brand design and development, marketing and creative strategy, photography and video production, Web design and development, print design and environmental graphics, identity systems and guidelines, copywriting and positioning.
Read our interview with Moore and Samuelson to learn how they got Fulcrum off the ground, why they decided to become part of the Sandbox coworking community, and how they plan to prove great design can positively impact society.
Melanie McIntyre: First off, do you think the types of organizations Fulcrum works with face specific challenges? And if so, how do you address them?
Jason Moore: Our client focus is social. This could be a social enterprise, a business that works to be as environmentally conscious as possible, a solar panel installer, higher education, or non-profits. A lot of our non-profit clients face the challenge of budgets. We continually strive to design solutions that fit budgets, create economies of scale by grouping printing together, and determining whether something should even be printed to begin with. We also inkind our own time to multiple non-profits throughout the year.
MM: When you launched Fulcrum, what were some of the first steps you took?
Liz Samuelson: We spent a lot of time getting on the same page in terms of our ethics and the direction we wanted our business to go. It took us months of conversations before we agreed to make the leap.We wanted to do something different that was out of the norm for design agencies in Columbus.
JM: As Liz and I joined together, we made financial assessments, then we moved into Sandbox to get into the same space, remove the perceptions of ‘home-based” business,’ and expand our networks.
MM: What resources did you utilize to get up and running?
JM: The advice of contacts and friends who’d been there, working with an attorney to create the entity, a Certified Public Accountant, SCORE. In general, the best way to get going was to suck it up and jump. Both feet.
LS: We take advantage of a lot of networking opportunities and try to volunteer, and be active in the community as much as we can as a way to give back and to meet new people.
MM: Did you have any local advisers, role models, or mentors you relied on for advice and input?
JM: Pete McGinty, who was at the time with Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, helped me write Fulcrum’s first business plan back in 2002.
LS: My mother is an amazing saleswoman and my father has many years of experience with management. I have looked to both of them for advice.
MM: How have your work experiences influenced the way you do business?
JM: It helped to shape my desire to do, and work, with ethical clients and pursue social cause clients. I’d always wanted to work for myself since before graduating Columbus College of Art & Design and because it was a small shop −four to five people− I had to wear many hats. I learned to estimate, work with vendors, project management, presentation, and client relationships.
MM: Why did you decide to house Fulcrum in the Sandbox Short North location.
JM: We were a virtual studio for seven years, working out of homes and coffee shops. We were doing larger projects and had completed branding work across the country, and even an identity for a Belgium-based [Voice over Internet Protocol] company. Moving to an actual location −Sandbox− was to remove the perception of ‘home-based’ and ‘freelancers,’ which we were well beyond, and allow us to work in the same space to strengthen our creative.
MM: You’ve told me Fulcrum has “invested in employees” and rebranded itself. Can you explain that a bit further?
JM: We previously worked with subcontractors remotely on an as-needed basis. As Liz and I came together, we hired an e-marketing major to come onboard for part-time hours, so that we could have someone working on our own work along with helping out with client work. This quickly became full-time hours. This increased our bandwidth and allowed us to do more, and we’ve since brought on a design intern who’s part-time hours and a developer who, in combination with our roster of subcontractors, has allowed us to do so much more− and more quickly.
MM: What are your near-term goals for Fulcrum?
JM: To build our reputation as the local cause creative/marketing studio.
MM: What are your long-term goals?
JM: To work anywhere and have a national reputation for cause creative/marketing.
LS: To generate enough profits to foster further entrepreneurial projects as part of Fulcrum, such as community arts projects. To actually prove that great design can have a positive impact on our world.
MM: Is there anything else I should know?
JM: We are all artists and through this we bring creative solutions to problems, not just visual aesthetics.
LS: We love Columbus and love to have an opportunity every day to creatively contribute to the visual culture of this city!
To learn more about Fulcrum Creatives, visit FulcrumCreatives.com.