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Couple Turns to Crowd Funding to Kickstart Graphic Design Biz

Couple Turns to Crowd Funding to Kickstart Graphic Design Biz
Young newlyweds Brendan and Randi Plake began Grand Street Creative with a “now-or-never” attitude and a modest Indiegogo goal of $3,000.
By Cassandra Day | August 13, 2012With eight days remaining in their crowd-funding bid, city residents Brendan and Randi Plake, both 24 years old, of Grand Street Creative in Middletown are taking the leap into small business ownership and are looking to the public for startup funds. “This is our big dream,” said co-owner Brendan Plake. “We have put in our time at ‘real world’ jobs and are ready to branch out on our own. This is what you have to do in today’s economy.” The couple has already raised $620 of their $3,000 goal. “We just finished a design project for a client, a party invitation, and we just signed on with a QT Productions, a children’s ministry here in Connecticut,” says Randi, who left her full-time job at a small public relations firm in Farmington on July 1 to pursue their dream. Brendan, a landscape architect by day, has a portfolio that includes video work and promotional material for Catalyst Church.

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The idea to take the plunge, into devoting themselves seriously to this business, was less about daring and more about their experience. “For me, just seeing what other places that are similar to us are doing and knowing we have done it all before and knowing it’s not extra years of experience,” Brendan says. “We’re young, we can bring it a fresh perspective.” “I’m young, I’m crazy about social media,” Randi says, “I’m pretty much raised on it.” She’s not kidding. Randi is fluent in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus.

Grand Street Creative specializes in church crisis management. The couple is passionate about teaching churches how to protect themselves in the event that a crisis strikes. “Our specialty in church crisis management is what sets us apart from any other firm here in Connecticut,” said Randi, who has a master’s degree in public relations from Quinnipiac University. “Churches are far behind the rest of the world when it comes to having a crisis management plan in place.” Grand Street Creative also offers other services including public relations, social media, graphic design and marketing. The Plakes hope to raise $3,000 by Aug. 20 through Indiegogo, an international crowd-funding site. Donor are offered perks ranging from free bumper stickers to free services, depending on the amount given. The great thing about graphic design is, in a virtual age, you can be based in the North End of Middletown, in a third-floor apartment on Grand Street, and compete with the best of them. “We could be virtual, we could go anywhere, we could do anything,” Randi says. Brendan’s artistic style meshes exactly with the current steam punk aesthetic of some Middletown artists. “I describe it as a modern Victorian style. Sherlock Holmes,” Brendan says. As far as not having enough funds to start their dream themselves, they’ve gone the crowd-funding route. After all, they are newlyweds with college debts. “We want to start this business without going in debt,” Randi says. “We want to start out right.” Randi says she likes the idea of perks that are offered by using Indigogo as a crowd-funding source, such as gift certificates, bumper stickers or other “bartered” services for a donation of $10, $100 or $1,000.

“I used to work at Gamestop, so I like the idea of video games a lot and I read a lot of game blog so a ton of video developers, instead of going to major publishers to make their games, they crowd fund them and they don’t have to answer to anybody,” Brendan says. “It cuts out the middle man. It goes straight to the fans and then you can help them and please them with your products.” For information, visit grandstcreative.com or indiegogo.com/gsc. Find them on Facebook here.

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