He likes his design bold, coffee black and bourbon neat. After honing his skills at some of the leading agencies in town, this local designer launched a business that crafts work for clients, highlights its own creative expression, and gives you a super sleek place to shop.
For some people, the typical 9-5 job just doesn’t quite cute it. Whether it’s because you’re passionate about something else, the hours just aren’t flexible enough, or you need to express your creativity in another way, the standard job we always thought we’d have growing up isn’t always enough.
That’s how it was for Austin Dunbar. The husband and father has always been passionate about design and creativity, but his 9-5 didn’t quite quench the thirst.
“I’d work the normal hours, come home, play husband and father, and would start my third shift job freelancing for other agencies around the globe or work on my own personal design work,” he says.
His freelancing lasted for two years and took him on quite a bit of travel working for other agencies, but it didn’t offer the stability and security he was looking for in a career. That’s when he decided to take the idea of a design business a bit more seriously and open a brick and mortar location.
And he did just that. He launched Durham Brand & Co. (DB&Co.) based in downtown Covington, in 2014. Today, it’s a brand-building design studio, coupled with a retail shop, located in downtown Covington. “The studio builds brands from the ground up for profit and non-profits, local to national, and large and small clients,” says Dunbar.
“Since then, some people have referred to the studio as having this ‘hardworking, blue collar’ aesthetic to the work, which I can appreciate, but I mostly equate that to the catalogue of work I’ve been fortunate enough to partner on and create with great clients,” he explains.
Dunbar runs DB&Co., but he gets help from his wife Ashley, who helps with the day-to-day, back-of-the-house work.
Dunbar strives to make his work at DB&Co. unique in every aspect. He doesn’t have a lot of quick, flash in the pan clients, he says. “Most of the clients of the studio, if new, become long term partnerships for well over a year,” he explains. “That’s something I’ve been proud of. From a look, tone, feel perspective, I think the clients the studio has partnered with, whether corporate, independent, pretty, or gritty, all have a sense of boldness and bravado to the work.”
Dunbar says that he’ll never let a client leave without a brand that doesn’t give its business long enough legs to stand on.
In addition to creating branding for other businesses, the studio creates its own line of branded apparel and lifestyle products to sell. This, Dunbar says, allows the studio to treat itself as its own client and provides an excuse to stay sharp on its design ideas.
Dunbar says there are a lot of big projects coming up for DB&Co. in 2017, which he’s looking forward to seeing the roll-outs of toward the end of the year and into 2018.