In 2005, Susie Fife founded Red Orange Studio, which began as a freelance graphic design gig and is now a boutique creative branding and marketing agency in Richmond, Va. This is her story (aka the “Herstory” of Red Orange Studio).
One summer when I was about 10 years old, I took some of my drawings to my dad’s office and made a bunch of copies, bound them, and went door-to-door to sell the bound copies as coloring books to my neighbors. That memory came back to me one night about 15 years ago as I seriously contemplated leaving my full-time job to turn my freelance design work into a legit business.
My husband and I had recently married, and I suppose our red and orange themed wedding was still on my mind. Both John and I were a bit crazy about our favorite colors…red was the primary color of his home country flag, the color of his car, the color of his home décor and favorite sports teams. I was an orange fanatic – the color of the ball I bounced and shot for endless hours to earn my VCU college scholarship, the color of my backpack, the color of my office walls.
Red is associated with energy, strength, and courage. Orange represents joy, sunshine and creativity. Those are words that describe the last 15 years of this brand – a creative agency rooted in love and overflowing with creative juice…a marriage of art and technology designed for long-term collaboration.
They are also words that represent our beloved client family for whom we are tremendously thankful for. Hundreds of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits invest in our services and trust us with their brilliant brands and ideas. They stuck with us through growing pains, referred us to more amazing clients and allowed us to experiment with new concepts and tools.
We are incredibly lucky to be working collaboratively alongside each of our clients.
There’s a slew of people to thank who have supported me along the way. My parents always believed in my creative talent and bought me the computer and software to start my business. My husband has been my biggest encourager, believer and supporter – a true partner who has shared in the greatest role we have as parents…often playing daddy daycare so I could grow my business. I’ve had mentors like John Robinson, Michael Thaler, Jeff Street and Calvin Duncan who may never know how much I was watching and learning from them.
My heart is full of gratitude for each family member and friend who has encouraged me along the way.
And finally, Red Orange would not be where we are today without our amazing team. What began as a freelance design gig, has evolved into a small team making a big impact for a lot of brands! In 2017, I merged the company with one of my colleagues, Theresa Ceniccola, which added copywriting, account services and marketing strategy to our capabilities. Together we’ve had the opportunity to watch many junior-level teammates come in and quickly grow into senior designers and account managers. We’ve seen our team learn, grow, fail, rebound, make a client happy, be promoted, impact their community and impact our bottom line. And we’ve also watched some teammates move up in their careers and onto other great opportunities. It’s been such a blessing to work with so many great people who truly care about their work, clients and community.
As we celebrate 15 years of the Red Orange experience, we are excited to discover what happens next!