Young Entrepreneurs 2010: Michelle Gustavson

Less than two years out of university Michelle Gustavson founded her own graphic design agency and has since diversified her skills to target website development.

Joined by husband Ben in 2007, Shell Graphix services more than 40 clients including retail buying group Frontline Stores, Marcom Projects, MDA Consulting Engineers and an array of restaurants.

“For the first few years in business I specialised in the whole corporate design range around logo development and branding,” says Gustavson.

“I also did graphic design like building video covers for ABC and SBS, magazines and later on large platforms like billboards and signage. I entered website design at a good time in 2005, just as having an online presence started become an essential part of marketing.

“When Ben joined the business in 2007 he brought more advanced IT skills including writing code from the ground up and the website development side of the company really went up to the next level.”

With rapidly evolving technology, Gustavson says the biggest challenge for her boutique agency is keeping abreast of the latest technology.

“It seems a new way of doing things is released every week,” she says.

“We have to make sure that when a client comes to us and wants something new, that what we deliver is fresh and different to what we were doing two years ago. There is a constant need for self-improvement and growth.

“You can’t just rely on only one style of web development – clients today require designers who can offer them multiple platforms including blogging, Facebook and every category that comes under e-news.

“Often I work seven days a week from 9am until midnight. The demand is there to do that but being so visual and creative it’s very interesting work and doesn’t seem like a job.”

Since founding Shell Graphix Gustavson has thrived on philanthropic values and made a rule of dedicating 10 hours a month to non-profit organisations.

While she has donated her services in the past for the RSPCA, National Breast Cancer Foundation and Wildlife Queensland, a rising number of charities employing in-house designers led her to dedicate her altruism to the local community.

“We built myormeau.com.au to better promote and service the Ormeau community,” she says.

“The website is very well supported by local businesses, politicians and community groups and along with a business directory of more than 450 companies that service Ormeau, it includes news on local events, entertainment, sporting teams and education providers.”

Shell Graphix has grown revenues by $50,000 each year and Gustavson expects FY11 to buck the trend and deliver the biggest growth year on record.

Michelle Gustavson
Shell Graphix
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Age: 29
Business Est: 2001
Staff: 2
Growth: 30 per cent
Turnover: $280,000

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