Block 81 Turns 17

July 15, 2020

Seventeen years ago Block 81 was "founded". Wow.

I use the term "founded" very, very loosely because although I formally started this studio seventeen years ago, I had zero long-term plans for it. My studio (which was called something entirely different back then) was, in a way, an experiment. I had outgrown my design job at the time. Interview after interview and nothing panned out. I came really close a couple times, but I'm sure I was missing something. So, for better or worse, I decided to take the plunge into freelancing full time. I should note here I did very little freelancing prior to this. I guess you could say I dove into the deep end of the pool. Ah yes, the decisions you make in your early to mid-twenties. 😉

So yeah, it was an experiment that I was going to give a good, solid try for three months and see it where it lead. Yes, I was super fortunate to have a bit of a financial cushion that allowed this to happen. But I worked my butt off. Three months eventually turned into four, then 6, and then a year.

Reflecting on seventeen years brings a smile to my face. Oh sure, there are lots of ups and downs, but the truth is, even those downs make me smile (well, all but one very nasty one). But however small, large, nasty, or meh, those downs were lessons that helped me grow as a person, a designer, a developer, an entrepreneur, or some combination of those.

I also can't help but think of the work I've done over the years. From tiny one-person startups to non-profits to larger businesses to government entities. Oh and that one time I created a brand and a website in exchange for company equity. (Hey young designer/developer: don't ever do that.) 😆 Whatever the project, I can say with complete honesty that I put my heart and soul into each one. People talk about passion so much it's a become a bit of a loaded word. Yet, it's an accurate one to describe how I feel about my job. I'm incredibly fortunate and grateful to be able to design and code for a living! And to be able to do it on my own terms is the extra icing AND the cherry on top. 🍰

There are two words that keep coming to mind as I think about the past 17 years:

I'm grateful to be able to do what I do. It gives me so much more than a job or career. It gives me freedom that, for better or worse, only in the last several years have I truly begun to enjoy.

I'm thankful to a of key individual that has impacted me and the way I look at things in my business that I can never repay. I'm also incredibly thankful to the people I've partnered with over the years, and to my clients – past and present.

I wonder what the next several years will bring... 🤔☺️