In June of 2008, I moved into what I considered to be my first “adult” New York City apartment. Now what I mean by “adult” is I didn’t have roommates, I had slightly over 450 square feet of space, my floors were no longer slanted, I ONLY had to walk up 4 flights of stairs, etc. A wise man once told me that “...you can’t put Buick hubcaps on a Beemer (BMW)...” so I went to Restoration Hardware to furnish my new palace of opulent grandeur. The leather club chairs, the roll arm sofas, the reclaimed wood side tables – I wanted them all. Shit, even the color of the walls was perfect!
Me: Wow, I guess I’ll take this.
Sales Associate: Sure – which piece would you like?
Me: The room. Can I just get this room?
Sales Associate: I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand…
Me: Can I, like, recreate this room? In my apartment? Do you know the paint color of these walls? Do you sell these overhead lights, or are these the store’s lights?
Sales Associate: Um, let me find someone else for you to speak with...
Walking into the Savannah office to meet the gang at Focus Lab for the first time brought me right back to that kid-in-a-candy-store Restoration Hardware feeling. I wanted my site to be as slick as theirs. I wanted my logo to look as cool as theirs. Maybe they design office interiors… yeah, definitely need them to help me with that. Everything about Focus Lab, from their branding to their corporate culture and values, was totally and completely representative of them as a company, them as individuals. I needed that.
I remember sitting with Erik and Will Straughn that morning, waxing poetic about how Recitate was going to redefine how, when, and where students learn. Another founder convinced that his vision was going to change the world. They sat there listening to me, genuinely interested and engaged, never once feigning interest or blowing the proverbial smoke up my ass. They understood what I was telling them. They understood the things that I was struggling, rather unsuccessfully, to verbalize.
While I was certainly encouraged that they understood my vision, I was beyond excited that they actually BELIEVED in it.
Now I could dedicate the next –umpteen thousand words to talking about the jaw-dropping design work Chase and Bill did, or how spot-on Summer’s work was in helping us find our “voice”, or how Will Kesling and Alicja managed to capture the Recitate “feeling” on film, or how Shabnam was able to help us turn our scattered thoughts into cohesive ideas that the creative team was then able to run with, or how Charisse made sure that the entire engagement and creative process ran with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine… but I’m not going to. There are lots of agencies out there that do fantastic work. Do I think that any of them could have done a better job than the crew at Focus Lab? No. But that’s not the point. While we looked forward to each week’s deliverables with great anticipation, the thing that my partner and I were consistently most excited about was our weekly Monday afternoon call with the team. You can’t help but REALLY like these people. The team that Erik and Bill have built is comprised of talented, energetic, creative, responsible, GOOD & DECENT people. People that sincerely care about each other, care about the work they do, care about you…
I went into my first meeting with Focus Lab hoping to forge a solid business relationship. Little did I know that I would come out of it with something so much more meaningful and important – a handful of REAL relationships.
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Make Some Noise