Ash Stephens has a vision: to offer premium design solutions based on authentic relationships and thoughtful design. On moving to Tauranga early this year she set up her own graphic design company, Finick Creative to advance that vision.
Ash is an architecture and industrial design graduate with a passion for graphic design. Her early work experience involved the creation of logos, brand identities, marketing campaigns, websites, annual reports and everything in-between. “A graphic design business is the perfect space for me to combine my creative talent with the more structured and technical approach that architecture gave me,” Ash says.
So what brought her to Tauranga? Ash was born and raised in Taupo and once she had experienced travelling overseas it suddenly felt too small to come back to. “I am not a city person so Auckland wasn’t a place I could see myself,” she says. “Cue Tauranga, the ‘in-between’ place for me to call home.” Tauranga also offers coastal lifestyle choices that are important to Ash – whale watching in particular. “Anyone who knows me knows that I have a slight obsession for whales,” she explains.
Ash says. “When creating my brand, finding the right name was so important for me. I wanted it to feel like a creative agency but also the embodiment of me.”
“My business combines two things I love, design and whales!” These twin passions are reflected in her company logo, ‘Finick’. ”Having ‘Fin’ form part of my brand name was a way to connect business with my personal passion,“ Ash says.“‘Finick’ also derives from the word ‘finicky’, which refers to someone who is detail-oriented.”
Ash is keen to work with any business wanting to engage with the design process. She loves being able to tell their story through visual communication. “Each client is a new learning experience,” she says. “Hearing my clients’ stories and understanding what they want to communicate is the first step to creating a successful brand. The brand must resonate and it must be authentic to the client.”
Ash has a positive mindset about the rigours of setting up a new business. “I keep reminding myself that I don’t know what I don’t know, and I see the challenges as an opportunity to grow my skill set.” There are frustrations, she admits. “Not yet having an extensive portfolio under the Finick brand can make it difficult to grow my client base.” Those clients who have been prepared to give Finick a shot have not been disappointed “I am currently working with a woman starting up her own business. After a coffee catch-up with her and immersing myself in her vision and brand, I sent her a proof and it turns out I had nailed it! Getting that sort of feedback when you’re just starting out is so important and gives you the confidence boost you need to keep pressing on.”
For Ash, success is all about business culture. “I want to make sure positive values are deeply ingrained in the business, from the way I communicate with clients to the internal systems no-one else sees. When it comes to expanding I will be looking for people who share my values and would be a strong team fit.”
Ash has benefited from a network of supportive friends who have kept her going. Those friends have encouraged her to embrace risk in pursuit of her vision. Her best advice to start-up businesses: “Keep focusing on the ‘why’ to get you through the hard times.”
Samples of recent work by Finick Creative.
If you would like to learn more about Ash and Finick Creative you can connect with her here: