I have always believed that our reaction to design is deeply personal, whether it’s in interior, fashion, or graphic. When I discovered Saturday Studio, a comprehensive creative firm based out of Charleston, SC, their aesthetic really resonated with me. Founded by Brittany Davis and Kathryn Whyte, the firm offers a full range of services from brand development and naming, to web design, to packing and print collateral, to photography and styling. Not to mention, consultations on products and interiors. Early this year, I had the pleasure of working with these two creatives on a personal project and I was so impressed. Not only is their design eye impeccable but they’re the most organized and efficient gals around! I loved how easy it was to communicate with them, how quickly they made updates after receiving my input, and the way my vision was understood and respected. I appreciated their crisp, clean portfolio — and while many of their projects are totally on trend, you can tell that personal elements have been added in to truly reflect the clients. (You can see their work firsthand in our slideshow.) I wanted to know more about their process and career journey thus far:
How and when did you meet?
We met in 2013 when we were both working in the same office. We became friends pretty quickly!
How did you know you would work well together?
We have a lot in common, and while we share a similar sense of humor (which we think is an important part of working together) we have different strengths—both creatively and in business. We also admire each other’s work, which is a huge part of working well together. We push each other to be better.
Tell us how you arrived to the decision to start your own firm together?
In getting to know each other we realized we have similar design histories. We both did a lot of freelancing, had both worked as in-house designers for different food & bev businesses, and were working full-time at a design firm when we met. The next step seemed obvious—let’s team up and do things our own way!
What did you study in school?
We were both graphic design majors in school. Brittany has always been interested in photography, and how it relates to design, and Kathryn took pretty much every illustration and printmaking class available. All of those things factor into our process and work.
Brittany, what is Kathryn’s biggest strength?
She is constantly striving to do her personal best, and doesn’t settle on the first idea or obvious solution. We have to be our biggest critics! Her ability to step back and look at the big picture, then seamlessly bring details and elements together to create beautiful designs, is like magic! She just has that natural knack for design. Kathryn is also a very talented illustrator—hand-drawing everything from type to river otters—which allows us to offer unique solutions to our clients.
Kathryn, what is Brittany’s biggest strength?
She never gives up! When she puts her mind to something she does it, and she’s constantly learning and teaching herself. That’s an invaluable quality when it comes to design, because she can make anything happen. She’s also our resident photographer and gets better every time she picks up the camera. We love being able to offer photography as a service to our clients.
How do you handle creative disagreements between each other?
We mentioned before that we push each other to be better, and we hope we always will! The tough part, though, is sometimes you might not feel like being pushed, or you might be pushing in different directions. There is probably no single solution to every creative disagreement, so we rely on communication—we talk things through, even if it’s hard!
What would people be surprised to learn about running a creative services business?
It might not be a surprise, but there are a lot of non-creative aspects to running a creative business—scheduling, bookkeeping, meetings, etc. Social Media can seem like a job in itself, but it’s more fun than paying taxes!
Describe a typical work day at Saturday Studio.
One of the perks of owning a business is being able to make our own schedule, so a typical day isn’t always 9-5. Brittany and her husband recently opened a carry-out pizza shop (Luke’s Craft Pizza), and a flexible schedule at Saturday has been a big help to their venture.
We start most days around 9am. Before diving into design and deadlines we catch up on emails, review our schedule for the day/week, and delegate tasks. Brittany makes coffee, Kathryn plays with the dogs (Brittany’s Golden Doodle and Jack Russell/Dachsund mix), and we work until lunch, which we usually forget about until around 2:30. We used to have a daily dilemma about what music to listen to, but lately we’ve been working to a podcast called “My Favorite Murder”—it sounds worse than it is.
Brittany has to be at the pizza shop before it opens at 5pm, so we usually wrap things up around 4:30. Then, if we need to, Kathryn works from home and Brittany works between taking pizza orders.
What is the biggest business lesson you’ve learned since starting Saturday Studio?
There have been a lot of lessons! The biggest so far would be to have patience—with ourselves, with the design process, with getting our name out there. There are so many talented designers and studios we could compare ourselves to, but it’s important to remember that everyone has a different process and appeals to different audiences. We can only be ourselves, and do what we do best, and we’re (learning to be) fine with that! We’re also glad to be in this together. There are a lot of successful solo designers, but we definitely like being a team.
Top 3 pieces of advice for anyone interested in starting a graphic design career?
Be organized—clients appreciate organization, especially if they’re new to working with a graphic designer. Explaining our process, and letting them know what to expect goes a long way towards making life easier for everyone.
Be confident—have confidence in your skills and your work, and speak about them confidently. It can be really hard, but the more you do it, the better you’ll be at it.
Don’t take yourself too seriously—confidence is good, but it’s ok to laugh at yourself, and to ask questions if you don’t know something. Graphic design is important, but it’s not brain surgery—it’s fun and creative and collaborative. It’s good to step back and remember that sometimes.
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
We love comprehensive projects—something with multiple phases that we can see through from start to finish (naming, branding, print, photography, website, etc). We really enjoy working with clients in the food & bev industry, and love print and packaging projects, especially when we can translate those designs to the web.
Any trends you are seeing in the graphic design world?
Always! We’re mindful of trends, but try not to rely on them too heavily. We don’t necessarily want our work to be trendy—we want it to hold up regardless of what’s “in” or “out.”
Besides actual design trends, we like to follow the types of projects that seem to be trending at any given time, especially tangible products in an “online” world. From candles to natural skincare lines, print magazines with minimalist design, beautiful day planners, pre-prepped, cook-it-yourself meal delivery companies, craft coffee and beer, designer/ceramacist collaborations—the list goes on. The challenge for us as designers is to create graphic solutions that help clients find their voice and stand out in potentially saturated markets.
How does living in Charleston spark your creativity?
Charleston is growing really fast, and is full of entrepreneurs and creative start-ups. There is no shortage of ideas or inspiration, and there are a lot of opportunities to collaborate. The juxtaposition of busy downtown vs more remote beaches helps keep our wheels turning, too. If you’re not inspired in the hustle & bustle, you can go out to the beach and brainstorm in the sand.
What makes a dream client?
Someone who trusts us and the design process, but is also engaged in it. We like to work with people who are passionate about what they do and are excited about design. We love to see the results of our collaborations out in the world.