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Meet Leo Estevez of Small Green Door

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leo Estevez.

Leo, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Small Green Door started in 2008 by accident. I was building these concrete planters as a personal art project when they caught the eye of a few different people in the furniture industry. I met Cisco Pinedo of Cisco Home who ended up really liking the product and as it turns out grew up in the same neighborhood as me.

We talked more about what I do and the kind of art I like to make, and he ended up inviting me to move down to LA from Oakland to work on his branding. The Great Recession just hit the country, and he really wanted this fresh perspective from someone who wasn’t a part of that whole world.

After working with him, we started meeting more people and getting more offers to do branding, photography, and design work for other sustainable businesses.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think the biggest challenge we’ve faced is finding a way to make these big ideas we have financially viable. There are a ton of different events or projects we want to host or get involved in, and we’re constantly looking for ways to balance all these cool things we want to do with having or finding the money to make them happen. We try to have an event in the studio every couple of months, whether it’s an art exhibition, movie screening, immersive theatre, or coming up this month, turning the space into a brewery.

It was also hard figuring out the transition from working on all of these projects on our own to hiring new people to join our team– and hiring the right people too. When we brought on more people, we wanted to move into a bigger space. So a few years ago, we left our first studio in South LA and moved into our Commerce location. We remodeled most of the studio on our own and are still working on making it better to this day. We’ve definitely come a long way, but there’s still so much more to do.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Small Green Door story. Tell us more about the business.
Small Green Door provides a platform for professional and artistic development. We work closely with all of our clients, most of which are eco-friendly, sustainable businesses, to guide them through the complete branding process. We develop their visual identity, design all aspects of it, develop the brand’s website and voice, and grow the business through social media campaigns, custom content creation, or interactive events held in our studio.

We also incubate local artistic talent. I have a background in Fine Art which allowed me to make some really good relationships with other artists in the LA-area. I like to offer a space for them to come and develop their own skills and style to keep movement flowing in the studio. It breaks up the day-to-day design or web development work we have going on.

Our 5,000 sq. Ft. space is completely modular. I built most of the desks and furniture we use, and all of it has wheels except for a few pieces. We wanted to have a space that can be transformed into whatever the need is. I think that’s something that really sets us apart because we have an open space that can be used for so many different things, not just traditional exhibitions.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
What I see is a bigger integration between brands and the community. Businesses need to start going beyond traditional email blasts and other types of marketing outreach.

People know when they’re being marketed to and want something more than just a cool picture or video to connect with their message.

I think implementing greater educational components and tangible things that a person can experience will be a larger part of this industry in the coming years.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dunja Dumanski, Small Green Door’s senior photographer

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