Tamara Olson is the owner and head of operations at Studio Simpatico, a creative design studio based in New York City. She tells us how they market the studio and the specific tools and software they use to manage the company.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Studio Simpatico.
Tamara Olson: I’ve been building websites since the mid-90s. After tinkering with a variety of technologies while obtaining my Master’s from ITP (Tisch, NYU), I enjoyed stints at Apple (HQ, out in Cupertino), the New York Observer, and Google (first in Ads, then in Classroom) before launching my own studio is 2014. What started as a one-woman shop has grown to a full-time team of nine incredible employees. We specialize in branding and visual identity, UX/UI design, website design, and WordPress development.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Tamara Olson: I love learning new things (particularly when it comes to building websites and digital products) and don’t wait to be taught—I’m a voracious researcher and self-teacher. Since I was small, I’ve loved listening, observing people, writing, and telling stories in creative ways. Over the last few years, especially, I’ve become excellent at task prioritization. All of these traits and habits have made an impact on my career and business trajectory.
How does Studio Simpatico market its product/services online?
Tamara Olson: I invest time and effort into our site’s SEO. I also keep our studio’s Clutch profile up to date. (Clutch is an agency directory that features interviews with our clients.) I direct prospective clients there; I think it’s helpful to read honest accounts of what it’s like to work with us. I’m so proud of our team and the work we do, and I find in business when you’re proud of the product, the marketing strategy ends up pretty straightforward.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Tamara Olson: Our website is our company’s digital front door. As a design agency, it showcases our capabilities (both via our portfolio and the design of the site itself). We host our site on WP Engine (as do most of our clients). Internally, we use Slack, Basecamp, Confluence, 1Pass, and Harvest. The design team lives in the Adobe Suite and Sketch, and the devs use VSCode, Sublime, and Beanstalk App.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Tamara Olson: We’ve spent a lot of time understanding and defining what it means to be simpatico; our hiring process (including how we interview) is designed with this in mind. I would describe our company vibe as intellectually curious, unpretentious, hard-working, witty, and kind. Most employees come to Simpatico having already decided to seek a small, collaborative, caring studio environment where they can nimbly do great work. I think our culture is the biggest factor in how we retain talent.
How are you funding your growth?
Tamara Olson: The clients pay our bills, and profit is reinvested back into the business. We mostly do project-based work but also offer design and development retainers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tamara Olson: There are so many design and development agencies and studios doing fantastic work, which is great—it pushes us to stay relevant. Staying in the game is straightforward: do great work, stay on top of technology and best practices, set aside time for creativity and experimentation, and listen to your clients.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Tamara Olson: Last summer, we rebuilt AmpleHarvest.org from the ground up. The site (which is a nonprofit organization founded by the amazing Gary Oppenheimer) offers an online directory for gardeners to find local food pantries to which they can donate surplus produce. Our redesign features a modern, responsive design with custom illustrations that add some playfulness and whimsy. With the new redesign, the organization recently established a successful partnership with Home Depot. I’m so proud of what the site does and Simpatico’s contribution.