This post was written by Payge H. Kerman, CEO, as a reflection piece.
Today is extremely bittersweet. 3 years ago, I decided to start my own creative agency, and today was supposed to be the party to celebrate this.
3 years is a big milestone for us. It is supposed to be the time when we reflect on how hard it was to develop a stable business, and how lucky we are to have a business that's thriving.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 took away both the party, and the feeling of security.
So, as we sit here today and celebrate #alonetogether – I can't help but to remember the really amazing things we have accomplished in 3 years, as well as the really painful experiences we had.
April 18, 2017: I filed the paperwork to start Blooming Pixel Creatives, LLC.
April 20, 2017: The paperwork was approved! We had a business!
April - October, 2017: I spent these months networking my butt off, trying to meet as many people in Portland as possible. I was working about 12 hours per day, and making next to nothing.
October, 2017: I met Matt Cain online, and I had no idea that he would become one of the most important people in my life.
October - December, 2017: We got our first big project, which we wildly undercharged for. Lesson learned, but definitely repeated.
December, 2017: Elise joined our team. We ended the year earning less than $35,000. I was absolutely determined to keep working to achieve the BPC vision: to become a full-scale marketing agency.
April 18, 2018: We had all of our local clients (about 30) to my house for a 1 year anniversary party.
May, 2018: We hired our first two interns, as well as our copywriter Kat Guerrero.
June, 2018: I had a knee surgery that took me out of the office for 2 weeks. This was the longest period of time I had taken "off" in over a year.
July, 2018: We got our first big retainer contract that allowed us to hire one more person full-time.
October, 2018: Michelle Parent joined our team as our graphic designer, and became one of the most steadfast people I would ever meet.
December, 2018: We ended the year with a 700% increase in sales. #proud
January, 2019: We got slapped with a nasty law-suit. Made me question why I decided I should open my own business. But, Matt had faith in me, even when I didn't, and asked to be partner in the company. We hired Katie Dover as our outreach coordinator.
March, 2019: We finalized the partnership agreement, changed to an S Corp, and became Echo & Apex Inc. dba Blooming Pixel Creatives. Also in March, I went to mediation with the man who sued me, where he screamed at me and got escorted out by security. I cried more in March than I ever had before.
April 5, 2019: We went to civil court with the man who sued us. I showed up with a 250 page binder of all evidence against him. He showed up with only a copy of a sample contract we had sent over. He violated discovery laws, and sprung things at me that I was appalled to see. The judge, though, looked through all the evidence and called a witness from another agency who defended all the work we had done, calling it "nothing short of amazing". The judge, ultimately, agreed with me, and we won the entirety of what this company owed us.
April 20, 2019: We had our local clients and partners (about 75 people) over to our office to celebrate our two year anniversary.
September, 2019: We hired Isabelle Lussier as our web designer, and Lisa Exterovich as our office manager.
October, 2019: The team traveled to Las Vegas on a 22 hour drive (each way). We exhibited at Wedding MBA, and I spoke about web design trends in the wedding industry. We met many people here who would become friends + clients.
November, 2019: We hired Darius Moore as our content strategist.
December, 2019: We increased our sales by 85%.
January, 2020: We begun working on our biggest contract to date. This contract will continue for the next 9 months, minimum.
February, 2020: Went to Vegas with with a client for market research. SXSW was cancelled. We began hunting for our new office space.
March, 2020: Hired 4 new members of our sales team (Colleen Cleary, Kalyana Algrabeli, Michael Hammack, Meghan MacDonald), despite being in the middle of a pandemic. Started negotiating the terms of our lease for our new office. We adjusted our whole team to be #wfh and dealt with the emotional and environmental impacts of COVID-19.
April 11, 2020: We signed the lease on the new office. For 5 years, we will be found in the heart of NE Portland.
April 16, 2020: The PPP ran out, and for the first time since COVID-19 began, we had to think more seriously about how to prevent the downfall of BPC.
April 18, 2020: Matt and I raise a glass to the rollercoaster BPC has been, and to the rollercoaster it will continue to be. We now have an exceedingly competent team of 12 and over 1000 clients worldwide.
To everyone who has supported us over the past 3 years by being a client, a friend, an industry partner, or a team member, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. We could not have gotten here without you.
Cheers to many more years. *Clink*