Studio Incline was born as Incline Design Group was born as Spaceboy Creative in 2014 when I was sitting in meetings with clients for other people i was consulting for and realized I could do this on my own. The idea actually came about several years before that when I was still in the throws of a struggling retail business during the last big economic collapse in 2010. It dawned on me that running a service based business with minimal overhead was the key to a happy and healthy work-life balance (which i somehow can’t ever find despite my instagram feed). I took that business model to a friend that I had worked with for the past five or so years, we pulled in a couple big rock-star clients and we were off and running.
So here we are several years later. Business is taking off after a couple severe speed bumps (the kind that make you spill your drink and overcorrect your steering), I have some really exciting projects in the chute (stay tuned for more there), and I am genuinely busy and much more relaxed because of it. It is exciting, refreshing, and relaxing all at the same time. I know I have a work-life balance issue that i’m sure is a genetic hand-me-down from my grandpa who instilled in me from the time i could walk that you never throw the first punch (just the second and last) and that working hard was always the right thing to do.
One of my main life-priorities has always been being outside as much as possible. It has been since i could barely walk (i figured out how to climb a stool to unlatch the extra tall lock my parents put on the front door to try and contain me), and continued to me being pulled out of kindergarten because all i would do was stare out the window. Needless to say, I am much more comfortable outside than I ever am inside. I’ve lived in trucks and vans for years, and have spent weeks and months at a time outside sleeping on the ground. My banner, all-star year was 1998, a year that i slept outside more nights than i slept inside thanks in large part to the carport of my rental house with an incredible view of Mt. Olympus every morning when i rolled over in my sleeping bag).
That has been a driving force in every business decision I’ve made in my life. I have always insisted on doing jobs that I love, and that get me outside as much as possible. Design began to fill that need for me about 20 years ago when i realized spending dedicated hours indoors at a computer could actually translate to more hours outside not working. What a revelation. The other thing I’ve done since i was a young kid was draw pictures (my mom having the annual conversation with my teachers that she wouldn’t support them insisting i not draw in the margins of my homework definitely helped). So when drawing pretty pictures turned into a career (gasp- i hate that word) that could also get me outside more often, and get me deeper into the outdoor industry i’ve worked for so many years in, it was game on.
So what are we having this little conversation…?
I have had this fantastic studio space in downtown Salt Lake City for the past 2 1/2 years. At it’s height we had a photographer upstairs in a naturally lit studio, and a full compliment of designers and project management to handle our diverse client list. We were small and scrappy, but we were charging ahead. Rewind back to that speed-bump that made me spill my drink earlier, and I had to restructure. We lost control a bit. Lost focus. We were getting pulled into multiple directions and not keeping a handle on the projects we were trying to service. Three of us were regulars in the Urgent Care or ER for panic attacks and thinking we were having heart attacks. Stress was a little overwhelming and I had had enough.
In a strange series of events over the past year I restructured the business. Downsized the studio so i could really focus on the outdoor/cycling and science/tech worlds that I wanted to work within. I pulled in some fantastic clients, said goodbye to a couple that were taking advantage of my generosity and willingness to work all hours of the day.. and then… the owners of our building came in one day and told me they sold the building. There was a week (or two) of mild panic. The studio definitely lends me and my business some legitimacy. With a deep breath i decided not to panic and to just take my time so i could find another place that i liked as much as this place, and with that i decided to work from the home-office i work out of on the weekends for a couple weeks to see how it goes.. and it went great! And then, the studio plumbing backed up, flooded the kitchen, took out a third of the ceiling panels in the conference room and clinched the deal. Sometimes the universe offers suggestions… sometimes she kicks you right in the nuts. The studio is done. Will i have another office someday? I am sure- i have an insatiable appetite for building; for making businesses bigger and bigger and for supporting my employees and contractors. Inevitably we will have a global headquarters close to an international airport that allows our employees, contractors, and clients to easily fly in and out for work and play.
So I am excited to announce- that for the time being—Incline Design Group is sans terre. We are a people in the wind. And actually—i’m really excited about it now that I’ve had time to wrap my head around it. I have been working day and night in this office space in a quiet corner of downtown SLC for the past couple years, but it’s time to say ‘au revoire’. Not spending the money on that space from month to month definitely opens up the budget for more marketing of my own business, gives me more opportunities to get out and about, and to be seen out in the world. I mean- for a business that does design and marketing for the bike and outdoor world- what better place can i be than out in the hills, in campgrounds, or trailheads!? My contractors (i love every one of you) are a distributed work force, and most have opted not to work from the office anyways. I do have a couple clients here in Utah- but for the most part they are all on the West Coast or in Europe.
We live in an enlightened age of chord-cutting and being able to work remotely. Internet is fast and cheap, computers fit in our pocket, and i can generate enough electricity to run the computer for days off of a solar panel on the roof of my truck. So what have i been waiting for? I think just a little nudge. Get ready to see a lot more of us out and about, and to see what our work can look like when we’re fired up and inspired on a daily basis!