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Reflecting on 10 Years in Business

What does a decade in business feel like? Amazing, at times frantic, exhilarating, exhausting, educational, the best fun you can have.

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten whole years, honestly. We’ve seen a lot of change, in technology, our industry, the economy, the world. Our field continues to evolve and it’s hard to believe that when we first started Dowitcher we weren’t all carrying iPhones around with us. I like to think we’re young enough to be hip and old enough to be experienced.dd-b-day-pic-2

I’m trying to remember what I did for my 10th birthday, with no luck. I’m sure cake and balloons, and, if I had to guess, roller-skates were involved (they usually were when I was a kid). I can’t really picture a bunch of dowitchers rollerskating at the beach, but I did just consider asking our team if they could mock that up, just in case. And you know what? They would have. Best team ever. I don’t stop to reflect on the past too much. And yet it’s kind of marvelous to do. To think we started out of the corner of a one-bedroom apartment seems crazy. I mean, now that seems less impressive (we all know Facebook started out of a corner of a dorm room, and we’re no Facebook), but still. Ten years ago this month our business was a small home-based endeavor. I still worked part-time at UCSB (you know, just in case) but we were so busy I had to quit quickly. Our 2am mornings convinced Jill to come in full-time as well, and we kept growing.

I got really good at deciding which coffee shop a client might like and tailoring my suggestions. (I also drank a lot of coffee, though I can’t say I’ve broken that habit yet….) We soon expanded first to a shared office, then a private space. We found out that the technology center we were in was closing, and that same day we found our office on State. We’ve been in our spot on lower State Street in Santa Barbara for about five years (something else I can’t really believe — time flies). We’ve since opened a satellite office, grown our client base, and expanded our team.

Offices are great but more important are the people. Our Dowitcher team is my family and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. Lyn joined us in the early years and we grew and learned from one another. (Anyone who can deal with me for that long deserves major kudos!) She taught me all the important things, like trying to learn bars the way I knew coffee shops (I’m a work in progress). We grew to have more designers, marketers, and programmers, all of whom bring their skills and panache to make us who we are. They’ve created amazing projects, won awards (10 of them!), made each other laugh, and pushed one another. And I feel like a proud parent who loves and respects them. (And sometimes has to scold a little.)

We’ve also had the support of mentors and great organizations like Women’s Economic Ventures and National Association of Women Business Owners. There are too many to mention — causes, non-profits, mentors who asked me out to lunch just to tell me, hey, you actually can’t wear hiking boots to a networking event (really? even new ones?).

I love how much we’ve learned and I’m excited about how much more there is to learn. This month marks one year after graduating with my MBA and I find myself asking, what else can we learn and do? And there are so many options. We opened a small office in Orange County. We’re taking on new exciting projects. We’re revamping our own branding and messaging. We’re partnering with some amazing non-profits. And we’re loving it.

This is an incredible journey that’s still continuing. I’m so proud to have built the team we have today. I’m proud of our amazing clients, especially those who took a chance on working with us in the early years and have been with us through it all. We have the opportunity to partner with individuals, companies, and organizations who inspire me daily. We’ve crafted clients’ stories, become trusted advisors, celebrated successes, and learned from mistakes.

Some things have changed, some haven’t. The marketing landscape is vastly different, digital continues to evolve and yet many of the fundamentals still guide decisions we’re now making on new platforms.  My desk, on the other hand, remains messy. (I like to call it creative chaos).

So what do the next 10 years hold? Self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, all kinds of things! For us? It’s hard to say what paths might appear, but I’d bet on continued collaborations, learning, and fun. Oh and a 10 year birthday party this fall, when everyone is back from their summer travels. Expect dowitchers, probably no roller skates (but you never know). We’ll be celebrating here for a while and hope you’ll join us. Cheers!

 

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