Co-founder, creative director and chief designer of Chykalophia, Ari Krzyzek implements powerful branding strategies to provide distinctive designs for maximum impact via web, mobile and/or print. Additionally, she founded and hosts Creative Women’s Co., serving as design consultant, mentor and professional peer in support of fellow female entrepreneurs. Read our interview with the lovely Ari below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
There’s a backstory on what inspired me to start my own business. My fiance at the time (now my husband and business partner) suggested that I should try freelancing after he found out that I was only paid $250 per month. This is when I was still living in Bali, Indonesia. I followed his advice and started freelancing in 2009. After freelancing for a few months, I realized how I loved the flexibility and the variety of design projects that I could work on. It was another thing that inspired me as well. When I move to Chicago in 2011, my husband and I decided to incorporate both of our skills into one company, Chykalophia.
Tell us about your business.
My husband Peter Krzyzek and myself founded Chykalophia as a full-service design shop to meet every need for maximum brand impact via web, mobile and/or print. In fulfilling each design request, our studio provides stellar ROI – top value for every dollar of our client’s investment. Moreover, mentoring and guidance in marketing, coding and website building are available for DIY entrepreneurs.
Peter is a master programmer and seasoned Internet marketer; I contribute extensive professional experience as a designer sensitive to the demands of multiple media channels. Since each partner brings unique talents, training and mastery to every endeavor, our studio is able to provide a range of services – all at the highest level. So, clients can count on the team to expertly address every aspect of each project. In fact, the alchemy of their combined efforts creates amazing results: a whole much greater than the sum of its parts, indeed.
- Red Eye Big Idea Award 2016 Finalist in Community Development & Civic Involvement
- 1st Startup Weekend Women Chicago Top Honors 2014
- The Best Product Packaging Design on The Annual Design Awards 2010
Where is your business based?
Evanston, IL with primary market in Chicago and secondary market globally.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Launching our website, listing our company and services in a few online directories, and networking were the first few steps we took to get our name out and to start building our network.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Networking both online and through local events has been the most effective way for our business. The thing about networking for us is that we often go to smaller networking events and genuinely building relationship with people that we meet. Every networking events that we go to has a purpose, whether we would like to meet with people in the industry or trying to connect with a few influencer that we admire. So far, our leads and new customers come from the referrals we get from the connections we build overtime. This lead me in building my own intimate networking events for creative women that I started in Chicago called Creative Women’s Co. (http://creativewomens.co) which is now also grow in Seattle, Orlando and Miami.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Communicating the value of a project to some clients.
How did you overcome these challenges?
During a discovery stage of a certain project, for example a brand identity design project. We often shared our approach to the project, along with the design process that we have done for other client’s brand identity project. Usually, after understanding how we applied design process on other client’s case study, we were able to communicate the value of the project and help guide them to a more streamlined design process. Each project is an investment for our clients and we want each project to be a success for both parties.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
There’s an advantage in having my husband as my business partner. Through difficult times, he will be the one who supported and motivate me to keep going. Without having a great support from him, it might be challenging for me to keep myself motivated through difficult times that I’ve had.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Through education, at Chykalophia we love guiding, educating our clients and getting our client up to speed on the latest resources they should know for their project. We aren’t the type of studio who prefer a one-off project. We rather guide our clients from an idea through brainstorming session and execution until the launch.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
This is a quote that my entrepreneur friend posted the other day which I found inspiring, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Burle
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Related to the quote I shared above, opportunities doesn’t always come when you want them. Instead of waiting for it to come, you need to create your own opportunities. It can be by building your network, create collaboration, or plan your own event to get your name out, you have the control to start anything. From there on, you never know what opportunities might come or waiting for you 🙂
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
- Adobe Creative Suite
- 17Hats (17hats.com?r=pdvdgpwwhf)
- Dapulse (dapulse.com you can use 20kalophia for 20% OFF)
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @chykalophia @creativewomensco
Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/cwcevents/
Website www.chykalophia.com www.creativewomens.co
Hashtags #cklph #creativewomensco #chykalophia
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
In the last week, I had a discussion on making mistake or failure moments I had. We talked briefly about our past failure and how we grew to get stronger from it. I have a cool article that I’d love to share with you and hope it will help you on that: Five Ways To Make Peace With Failure on Forbes.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Community building and leadership. Having to build my own community through my side project Creative Women’s Co., I found myself being eager to learn more on how to build a community and improve my leadership skills.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I want to start planning for my design/branding workshop for 2017 as well as launching our company resources for DIY Entrepreneur on our Chykalophia Academy (http://academy.chykalophia.com) website. I’ve met with a few other local entrepreneurs and we’re teaming up to bring the workshop as a collaboration in the next year.