Danielle Hunter - Creative Genius
Meet Danielle – a creative genius whose story had me laughing out loud and emphatically nodding my head in agreement. Read on for nuggets of wisdom, inspiration, and validation of the female entrepreneurial experience.
Tell me about yourself and your journey.
I’m Danielle Hunter, I’m a Boston bred, ice cream loving, design nerd who recently left the big apple after an eight-year stint, to finally settle down and start my own business in Connecticut.
Some background: Before taking the leap into full time freelance, I worked in New York for over eight years as a graphic designer. After graduating, I was able to get my foot in the door at the (then) New Jersey Nets, through alumni connections. I was only with the organization for about four months before they officially moved to Brooklyn. It was an unforgettable experience to be part of such a large re-brand as a young designer. I worked on things like in-game programs, arena signage, and digital graphics for both games and events at Barclays Center. After spending over three years with the Brooklyn Nets, I had an opportunity to work for a media agency as a social media designer. Instagram was still new and I jumped at the chance to work on brands like Stoli Vodka, Cape Cod Potato Chips, and Pop Secret. Most of my days were spent planning photoshoots, styling shots, and re-touching images. We created a lot of lifestyle product shots, short videos, and stop-motion animations for clients Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts.
You have so many unique experiences. What were some of your most creative projects?
When I finally made the jump from agency life in New York to full-time freelance, it was mid-December. As much as I wanted to scream from the rooftops that I’m more widely available for design assistance, I figured that might not do the trick. Instead, I decided to send a custom “Seasons Greetings” box with a hand written note to past clients, people in my network, and companies I wanted to work with. The box included a hand lettered design written in cinnamon, because who doesn’t love a good food pun? It was a little bit of a crazy idea, and definitely a tight turnaround, but this gave me a handful of clients to hit the ground running with in January.
Watch a short clip of how she made this project, quite literally, out of cinnamon!
If I wasn’t such a design nerd, I would probably start my own bakery called Glutton without Gluten or maybe just Glutton, “Life without gluten, not without glutton”. It needs some work, but unfortunately, I can’t have gluten anymore and I’ve always had a major sweet tooth. I’ve caught myself day dreaming about potential logo designs in my head, but it’s really just a pipe dream – for now.
When I first found out I had to avoid gluten back in 2016, I started a food blog called Allergen Free Foodie to track all the new recipes I was trying out. I haven’t had a chance to post in a while, but the Avocado Brownies are always a hit (weather you’re gluten free or not)!
That is absolute genius! Can you tell me about your current design studio?
I own a small graphic design firm called Hunter Design Studio. We’re based out of Connecticut and work with clients locally across New England, as well as, remotely around the globe. We specialize in clean and purposeful graphic design solutions, including branding, website design, and product photography. I always say “design is all in the details” and I love the process of bringing those details to life for new and emerging brands. In addition to branding, print will always have a special place in my heart, which is why I also have a small paper goods shop called Hunter Supply Co.
How did you get started? What inspired the idea for your business?
This [quote] was on Diane Von Furstenberg’s Instagram a while ago and I printed it out for my desk because I loved it so much. It’s from her book The Woman I Wanted To Be, and for anyone who’s in the thick of it or just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey, this always brings me back to why I started.
“Focus on intention, if you focus on power, you fail. If you focus on energy, you stagnate. But if you focus on intention, you get the power and the energy.”
When I first started Hunter Design Studio, my main goal was to get back to doing the things I love about design. While I had great co-workers and I generally enjoyed work I was doing at the agency, it was a high stress environment and I couldn’t ignore the feeling that I wanted more. I longed for more control over the types of clients I worked with, more flexibility over my schedule, and the fulfillment of building a more sustainable lifestyle for myself.
It took me a little while to come around to the idea of being a business owner, let alone a founder. Even if that is what I am, I feel like having that title as a millennial comes with some sort of stigma. If you asked me today, I would say I’m self-employed. I think that best describes how I’ve approached the past year. If an opportunity intrigues me, I try to say yes, and so far that has open doors for me that I could have never imagined. One of the bigger things that I’ve said yes to, is teaching. Now that I have a more flexible schedule, I couldn’t say no when one of my former professors asked if I would like to teach a visual design course at Quinnipiac University. Classes officially started the last week in August and while I still have a lot to learn, it’s already been so rewarding to have a chance to work with and mentor younger designers again.
What was your favorite live, in-person event that you attended?
I’m going to be attending the Create & Cultivate Small Business Summit in New York on October 19, which I’m really excited about, but obviously haven’t attended yet.
One of the organizations that I joined earlier this year is called Rising Tide Society. They hold meetings on the first Tuesday of every month and there are groups around the country. It’s free and the main idea is: community over competition. It’s small business owners and entrepreneurs who come together to discuss topics like how to optimize email marketing, what hashtags to use on social media, or best practices for your website.
How does your local Rising Tide meet up impact you personally and professionally?
I’ve learned so much about how to run my business from the ladies of Rising Tide. (Shout out to West Hartford’s fearless leader, Alexandra Beauregard!) It’s always inspiring when we meet every month. As a remote one-woman show, it can get isolating sometimes. It’s always inspiring to chat with other women who are so dedicated to going after their entrepreneurial dreams.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Danielle!
Check our stories on Instagram on October 19th. While Danielle is attending the Small Business Summit in NYC, she’s going to give us a LIVE look at the event!
If you’re looking for intuitive, creative design by an experienced entrepreneur who totally gets it, please connect with Danielle at Danielle@HunterDesignStudio.co