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Meet Troy Farmer and Katie Frichtel of Raven + Crow Studio in Arts District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Troy Farmer and Katie Frichtel.

Troy and Katie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Raven + Crow Studio is a Brooklyn-born, Los-Angeles-based creative agency that specializes in not being jerks.

Also, non-profit, corporate and small business branding; logo development; design for screens and print; web design; marketing strategy; illustration and art direction.

We like to say we make the world a prettier place in two ways — first, by being good at our job, creating beautiful, effective designs that grab an audience’s attention and communicate our clients’ goals. The second way is making an effort to work with clients who we think are actively making the world a better place. We enjoy partnering with non-profits that work in the environmental realm, sanctuaries that rescue mistreated animals, human rights groups, vegan-based businesses and locally run, responsibly minded ventures. We love what we do day-to-day, but what keeps us going is knowing that we’re doing it all for a greater good.

In terms of actual history, the two of us met in college, way back in the mid-nineties, started dating in the late nineties and then started moonlighting on design gigs together shortly thereafter, first in DC, then in New York. We eventually made the leap with the company in 2007, quitting out respective day jobs in the non-profit world and going all in with our design studio + creative agency. Back in 2014, we moved our home and office from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, in search of endless summers, gentler winters and non-stop vegan tacos.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
First off, it is *hilarious* that you guys ask small business owners if it’s been a smooth road. If nothing else, running our business for the past 10+ years has given us mad respect for anyone who’s gone out on a limb and started their own creative agency, bodega, boutique, non-profit, coffee shop, tv repair shop, restaurant, anything. It is hard, hard work, especially today, when — despite all the pro small business talk in this socio-political climate — it seems like the big corporations are the only ones that can survive. So, honestly, to any small businesses that can make it last even a year, our hats off to you.

One thing that was important to us starting out was that we never wanted to be in the red on the long term or reliant on business loans; no shade being thrown at those who make that work for them, we just really never wanted how quickly we *could* grow to dictate how quickly we *should* grow. And, for us, it’s always been a very personal thing, this business. We put our heart and soul into the work we do for our clients because we believe in the work they do so much. That’s always meant letting things grow organically — often through word of mouth from other clients — definitely pushing ourselves in the creative field, but never straying too far from why we were doing this just to keep the lights on. That being said, operating in such a way makes it tough some times to do much more than keep the lights on. But, at the end of most days, any financial worries are usually far outweighed by the work we do, who we’re doing it for and the freedom we have in running things on our own terms.

raven + crow studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Over the years, one thing that we’ve learned is that we’re really good adapting to the needs of our clients. With any new relationship, our first task is to come in, get to know the people behind the business or organization, and really get at the ‘why’ in what they do. Once we know the ‘why’, we can define the direction of whatever the project is and bridge the gap between intention and public perception. Because, when it comes down to it, this work is all about communication — whether it’s a branding project or a website or public health campaign, it’s all basic human communication in its beautifully variant forms. Everything beyond that is a simple matter of defining the tools best-suited for each particular situation.

I think we’ve been most gratified as a company in the moments where we’ve seen direct correlation between the creative work we’ve done for a client and the furtherance of their cause. Those moments where we’ve had a client tell us how our work has made a difference in the way they do their work, for the better, means the world. It might seem small, but those are the moments that keep us going; when you can link the day-to-day creative work to actual positive change being made in the world around you, those moments are what make the late nights and 17th final versions of something worth it.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Honestly, just making this work at all, in every meaning imaginable — as an intentionally small business, as a company that works to keep values at its core, as a partners in the both professional world and the personal for the past 11/20 years, respectively, we’re simply proud (and slightly surprised) we’ve made it work as well as it has. Plus — and we get that this isn’t for everyone — we love being able to share both of these facets of life together, the professional and the personal; we just really enjoy collaborating together and feel lucky for having so many opportunities to do so.

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Image Credit:
raven + crow studio

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