Today we’d like to introduce you to Helen Young.
Helen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a native of New Zealand but grew up in Urbana, IL, a university town. My dad was a professor of civil engineering, and my mom a botanist and master gardener who designed beautiful public gardens. We lived on a brick street near the campus and I had great freedom to explore and play with the neighborhood kids. Every summer, we’d pack up the station wagon and discover another part of the U.S.A. I was good in school, especially math and art, and was exposed to graphic design in high school when I had the opportunity to serve an internship with a small local design firm.
That experience put me on the path to a creative field. I earned my BFA at the University of Illinois in my hometown, then began my career in Chicago at a large design firm on Printers Row. After four years of the big-city grind, I moved to Denver and, three years later, founded EnZed Design. I was very fortunate to work for two small, well-known agencies before going on my own. Both were run by strong leaders in the creative arts, so I was able to see the power of design in community. In 1996, a small business owner offered me a part-time job to help her start an in-house department, which was the perfect opportunity to launch my own design practice. With her work and another regular client or two, I was able to leave my job without a lot of risks. For over two decades, I’ve kept my firm small so I can continue to design and work collaboratively with my clients—both aspects of the job that I enjoy most.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Owning a small studio is no cakewalk. You wear all the hats—creative director, designer, production guru, account manager, plus all the uncomfortable things like CFO, HR, and IT. You also have to continually motivate and educate yourself—learn about new media and software, develop new skills, keep up on the socials—all while having good billable hours. It’s hard to balance all those demands on your time, but you do get used to it. My biggest challenge these days? So many ideas and things I want to do; so little time in the day.
Creativity is the easy part for me. Ideas flow out of collaborations and connections with clients, writers, and the creative community—through AIGA, Modern In Denver, and all the museums and experiences available here. Travel recharges my creative juices, so I make time for adventures. I’ve had some great design ahas! on the streets of Tokyo and lots of little epiphanies on the beaches of New Zealand. Tennis is also a big passion that helps me reduce stress, expand my social circle, and live a balanced life.
EnZed Design and Paperie Z Boutique – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
EnZed—named for the N and Z of New Zealand—specializes in integrated print design for corporate and nonprofit clients that value originality. So along with our work for their publications, branding and custom promotions, we create or direct the materials and services they need to support their total communications effort. Online content, social media, tailored animations for social media, greeting cards, product demos—whatever best meets the marketing or public relations objectives. Our clients are mid-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations who seek engaging content and design that really resonates with their audiences. Our custom promotions work started about a decade ago when I created a wrapping paper kit for a commercial printer. It was through this project that I discovered a talent and passion for creating surface patterns and stationery products. Those have become the focus of my next chapter.
Last year, I launched PaperieZ.com, an online boutique to sell these products directly. Many of the items—CurliCues, Tiara Tags, To-Do Ta-Da! Notepads—were originally created as promotions for EnZed, but clients asked if they could buy more. So, with the help of my web partner, Studio Nomad in Denver, I launched the shop. I also added a “Licensing” page to my EnZed website, where I showcase curated collections of surface patterns from my library of 100+ designs. In 2020, I’ll be adding wood items to the shop. (Going straight to the tree, you might say.) This is through my collaboration with Maria Garcia of 600 Grit fine wood design (@600grit). We’ve created charcuterie boards with my patterns routed into hardwoods and filled with colored resin. Working with her has been really easy and interesting. I love seeing my patterns in three dimensions, and how she works with wood grains is akin to how I develop patterns.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is defined by a life made up of rich experiences in my relationships, collaborations, travels, designs. If I’m on the right track, I’m inspiring myself and people I connect with.
- PaperieZ.com offers unique stationery products starting at $9.
- Our new charcuterie boards, launching in 2020, start at $150.
- We have a local pick-up option or Voyager readers can use promo code SHIPFREE.
- Website: enzeddesign.com / PaperieZ.com
- Phone: 303 765 2500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @paperieZboutique
- Facebook: EnZedDesignLLC
Lynn Clark Portraits, Annette Slade Photography