Creative directionCreative project manager of Imogen Design Studio, Israel Mallett, explaining why he became an entrepreneur. (Picture by Ricardo Leacock.)
By Natasha Beckles | Sun, July 22, 2012 - 10:00 AM
He was described by Caribbean Development Bank president Warren Smith as being “representative of a growing breed of young Caribbean entrepreneurs”.
And indeed, 25-year-old graphic designer Israel Mallett is quickly making a name for himself both in local circles and throughout the region.
The creative project manager of Imogen Design Studio told the SUNDAY SUN he never wanted to work for anybody else.
“I just knew from the start that I wanted to have my own business and I always had a passion for art. From CXC my art teacher told me [I] should do graphic design,” the former St Michael School student said.
While pursuing his degree in graphic design at the Barbados Community College (BCC) six years ago, he and another student got together to form the company.
That young man is no longer a part of the operation but Israel employs one full-time administrative employee and works with two individuals on a subcontracting basis.
The company offers a full range of graphic design and marketing services including logo, package, advertising and promotional design as well as magazine layout.
Mallett admitted that in the early days the co-founders didn’t take the business very seriously and therefore they did not capitalize on the pre-recession opportunities.
“As a self-employed person you think you can get up when you feel like and you can go into the office when you feel like; then you’re working well into the night,” he said.
That is all in the past, though. Israel now does design work for both small businesses and medium-sized associations. For example, the design studio recently completed a major project with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.
“Many of our clients are start-ups or small entrepreneurs. We work with Island Fusion Foreday Morning Band. We do their artwork and we’ve done their themes every year for the past, I think, three years,” he said of the home-based business.
Israel, who holds a certificate in marketing, public relations and advertising, also sits on the advisory board of the Caribbean Growth Forum and the logo he designed for the June 18 to 19 event in Jamaica was a major focal point.
Having initially been asked to give “creative direction” to the design process, he was then asked to produce some options.
“They actually chose our option as the logo. I was pretty pleased with that. It didn’t pay monetarily as I sit on the advisory board but it paid by exposure.
“I really didn’t expect it to be so major but when I turned up, I saw they had animated the logo. They had the logo on everything – on folders, on the welcome signs at the airport,” he recalled.
As to how he even came to sit on the advisory board, he explained that the forum’s steering committee had asked the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT) and other regional youth business trusts to each nominate a young entrepreneur.
“All their credentials were evaluated and I was chosen out of the group,” he said.
Asked whether he thought he was a positive role model for other young people, Israel said others had seen him in that way.
Although he is being mentored through BYBT, he has found himself mentoring two young men who are also interested in graphic design.
“I try to be as open and honest as possible. There are a lot of people who feel that if you give away too much information, that people are going to come and they [are] going to steal your business right out from under you, but I’m not of that view.
“At the end of the day, what separates us is how we do what we do.”
Israel has lots of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, including urging them to work for at least one year before they branch out on their own.
“Don’t just be a teller at a bank. Work in your industry, learn about it, make contacts and then get into the industry from there.
“When you work in the industry you develop an understanding of how it works; you don’t go into it blind,” he stressed.
“Then you can save and you can have finances that you can then put into getting the requisite software and hardware you need.”
Interestingly, this was not the path Israel and his former partner took since they started their business while studying at BCC.
“We were fortunate. We met a lot of good opportunities. We met people who were scrupulous, not unscrupulous, whom we could do business with and they would give us pointers along the way. Not everybody will meet those people so that’s why I always encourage people to work within their industry,” he said.
As for the future of the business, Israel plans to retrofit his home so that employees can work from one location.
“I’m not going to go out and rent just yet because, for me, that is a significant drain. Once I have a laptop, a cellphone and an Internet connection, I can do business.”
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