Sophie (left), Dawn (center), and Yuki (right) all met in college during their time at USC. Little did they know that they would end up building a business together after college working with clients such as Fenty Beauty, ColourPop Cosmetics, Youtubers and Twitch streamers.
The start of something big.
Dawn was a freelance designer straight out of college when she started her own business. She began growing a following working with Youtubers on graphics for their Youtube channels and social media. As the demand for her services grew, she had to manage multiple aspects of the business that took away her time spent on designing where her job became more about administrative tasks and managing her clients.
Since Dawn’s strength is design, she knew she needed help managing the operations side of her business. Dawn decided to ask her friend, Sophie if she was interested in a job opportunity. During one of their post-college meetups, Dawn approached Sophie to help her manage the business side of her design business. At the time, Sophie was in a corporate career but it was lacking creativity and opportunities for growth. Dawn spoke to Sophie about everything that was required for the role, and Sophie made the decision to leave her corporate job.
“I really wasn’t happy in my job, and I didn't feel fulfilled."
As afraid as she was jumping into this startup opportunity, Sophie was also excited. “I really wasn’t happy in my job, and I didn't feel fulfilled, but ever since working with Dawn, the first week when I turned that corner, I was really looking forward to work. Something was wrong in my life, and I wasn’t in the right place. Now, I feel like I am in a place where I can really thrive.”
With Sophie on board, Dawn was able to go back to designing and Sophie could focus on the things she’s good at. “I wasn't at the capacity to execute client relations, communications, and business deals. So I partnered up with Sophie to co-found DLD.studio, and then from there, we noticed that our business started to grow and we were getting more clients, and operating at a bigger capacity.”
Growing the business.
Business continued to grow and now Dawn and Sophie needed more help. Yuki joined the team as Head of Education and Digital Marketing in order to spearhead their efforts to create an online course. Although Yuki still works in real estate now, he knew there was an opportunity to grow with DLD.studio. “I saw an opportunity to create a digital product that could potentially impact the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people without being limited by our time.”
“I saw an opportunity to create a digital product that could potentially impact the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people without being limited by our time.”
“We realized that there’s a high demand for people who wanted to learn how to start their own design business, and how to negotiate deals with clients so that they don’t feel like they’re getting screwed over. Yuki had an idea to create this online community for a bunch of aspiring designers, and to also create a program that can facilitate their needs because we felt like there wasn’t enough courses on how to start a design business.”
However, convincing Dawn and Sophie was met with some resistance, but it made them reevaluate how they worked. The team knew they could only work so many hours in a day to fulfill what they needed to get done. An online course was the best way to serve the topics their audience wanted most while maintaining the business’s client work.
And so...DLD.academy was born.
When the team was ready to create an online course, the thought of it just made sense, especially with the growing demand of their business but also the amount of mentorships they were receiving. Dawn, Sophie, and Yuki could generate passive income and create more time to dedicate to other areas of the business. Yuki began doing some research and found Kajabi.
“The reason why we personally want to go forward with Kajabi was that the user interface and quality of visual presentation stood out the most, and because we are a premium design agency that sells digital assets, people are essentially paying us to make things look nice and aesthetically pleasing. The presentation and being able to host all of our information felt like it would be a better representation of the quality of services that we offer.”
DLD Academy & Kajabi.
With Kajabi, the DLD team was able to create a course for designers wanting to build their own design business. They were able to build an engaging course that lead to a successful five-figure launch. Now post-launch the team has been gaining traction for the course and they are still in their very first run of students and are continuing to grow and build their course as they get ready to run marketing campaigns for the growth of their programs.
Building a business as a one-person, two-person, and even a three-person team isn’t easy. Going into business with partners you know personally has very obvious advantages but comes with its fair share of challenges. “Pick teammates who have similar values and have the same long-term vision. Be able to have respect for each other. Being in entrepreneurship, it’s not about collecting the right skills and talents to make it happen, especially in a startup situation, there’s a lot of ups and downs and things to get through as a team. There needs to be a sense of trust that we’re all on the same page.” In the end, this three-person powerhouse managed to create financial freedom and band together to change how designers work and build their own businesses.
Connect with Dawn, Sophie, and Yuki!
DLD Academy: https://www.dld.academy/