Monthly Feature // November 2020
From organizational and managing hacks to founding and running an all-girls design studio — here's Bhavika Shah, the founder of BeyonDesign!
"I'm a blend of my mother Bhavna who is a watercolor artist and my father Deven who is a business man, it has made me what I am today. My achievements would not have been possible without the loving support of my husband and In-laws. I truly owe my success to my family and the Beyondesign team!"
Bhavika founded Beyondesign over a decade ago and it has consistently been an all women's team, very consciously she says. Her kindness and humility was so evident in the way she talked about her team! She is an amazing human being and we had so much fun getting to know her. She is passionate about design, and has a strong belief that minimal design makes for maximum impact.With two decades of experience in the industry, she has extensive teaching experience and has been a jury member at design awards. As the founder of an all-woman design company with prestigious clientele, she believes that design should be Real, Relatable and Relevant.
On creating Beyondesign
“I started out by changing 6 jobs in 6 months. I had just returned after completing my masters in design from the Savannah College of Art and Design and realised that the entire industry had moved from analog to digital tools. And I kept skipping jobs. There was a big shift from analog to digital tools in that year and hence every job I switched I was helping people get familiar with digital tools and that's when I realised that there's an opportunity out there.” This opportunity was welcomed with open arms and it was the beginning of a new era. “The concept of a design studio was fairly new in my family and I was encouraged to pursue a job for a few years to get the experience and networking. But I was keen on moving forward with my ideas. So, I approached my grandmother for a loan of Rs 25,000 and started out from my bedroom with one client and it took off from there.” And what an amazing journey it has been! Look at the wonderful work these women have created here.
“We are an all girls studio and very consciously, it was purely to give opportunity. When I started work, my parents expected me to be home by 7:30 or 8 PM at the latest. And, it was impossible. Because ad agencies and studios we would only start getting feedback at 7 or 8. And then you're expected to work when the creativity flows.” This is true for most of us living with our parents and it becomes difficult to commute late at night. “So I decided to work like an MNC and said, we work the 8 hours and we take the breaks, we keep a clear mind.” Set timings always help with a healthy work-life balance.
Bhavika added “I wanted to give opportunities for women with families to continue their journey. In my generation, women were taking a hiatus from their careers to take care of their families. So, I thought it’s really important to give them the opportunity. Even today if one of my employees have to be with their kids or families, they can as long as the work is getting done. A lot of the girls moved on, worked elsewhere and come back to work with us, which is a very rewarding feeling.” Oh, how we would love to work with this team!
An all women’s studio?!
We were excited but at the same time we were curious about the challenges they had faced, and the answer was pleasantly surprising. “It’s been an exciting journey. Everywhere we've been, people have always appreciated us and compliment us saying, women are diligent and can multi task very efficiently. It’s also because we are punctual and disciplined throughout the process. We always stick to schedule and deliver effectively. People have come around to accepting us as an all women's team that stick to specific working house and never miss deadlines!”
On Task management and Team Morale
“We start at 9:30 and all of the work gets delegated. And at the end of the day, everyone shares updates. I work through the night, so my team doesn’t have to. They get feedback on all the work before the next working day.” Bhavika has a very organised system that works effectively for all employees and clients. “For our clients in hospitality, we have made charts and put systems in place for them where they just have to fill them monthly and we have everything organised for the deliverables. There's always a work list and there's always a 'if you have extra time' list so we can complete all tasks before or on time. It helps to stay organised because it saves so much time and energy.”
Because most of us work from home now, this situation comes with a new set of problems. Creative blocks, stress and sometimes procrastination. Bhavika is very aware of these issues, she says, “I have been overly sensitive to that. I do feel like it is a big issue, and it is hard to keep working 8 hours a day in front of the screen. I keep the team morale up by sending personalised letters and goodies, I feel very connected to them and their families. It is really important we stay connected right now. Apart from that, they always get to choose the projects they work on. There are 2-3 projects to catch up on everyday. And that can be overwhelming. But better overwhelming than underwhelming at this time because you will have a feeling of accomplishment.”
On the design process and the importance of minimalism.
“When we started it was really small, we designed visiting cards or a poster, the goal has always been minimal, clean, communicative design. Though I draw inspiration completely from Indian design, because we do have strong roots in design and we have the most beautiful colours. Cleaning up Indian design motifs and still using them effectively was what we leveraged on from the beginning and I still think its our language.” This is so interesting to hear! We love the art that hails from our country and everything it has to offer.
“Initially we did a lit bit of everything. We made a lot of wedding cards and invites and stationary, we don't do that anymore. We're purely a branding and packaging studio. Even in wedding card space, we were the ones that created watercolour painted cards, very soft cards (experimenting with materials). It was when I started teaching communication and strategy I realised that, that was what I wanted to do as we transitioned. And The process has evolved a lot! Today, we do a lot of mood boards, brand questionnaire and so much more. The process is very organised. We are a very story and communication focused studio right now.
One of the companies Beyondesign has worked for is the goodness company. A brand based out of UAE. “They said, it’s an organic and natural brand that sells products that are 'good for you’ and approached us saying that because it was all clean and natural products let's make a green and brown logo. Then we pointed out that green and brown had been done too many times and we wanted to work on something different. You are natural and organic but you are also Honest. So I insisted on making a black and white logo but for them it was a complete shift. But the branding turned out to be phenomenal and every product had an amazing pop of colour.” “A more recent one, is open secrets for their nutty chips. We tasted the product and wanted to give an honest depiction of what it was. We kept sketching and drawing it and tried to show the product as it is. Everything on the packaging is extremely honest. Thats the route we want to go in and we have done this with many brands.”
“I will continue doing what I do, I love it. I used to avoid interviews before, but now I embrace them purely from an educational point of view. I've been doing a lot of interviews and talks hoping to reach a lot of students. So that’s something that I definitely want to do. I also want to create work that is meaningful and see the bigger picture. And, I want to understand and create an entire brand rather than work on the smaller snippets.”
Takeaways for creatives
“Concentrate on the story, on minimal and meaningful design. Decorative design, I think people don't have time for, with social media and overall attention spans becoming shorter, I think that we have very little time to communicate the story. So be very direct and strong communication is important. You don't need to clutter. A quote we have followed for years now, is 'Design is what is left when everything unnecessary is taken away. P.S - Don't copy from Pinterest.”
A little more about Bhavika
Top 3 Inspirational Indian Creatives? Divya Thakur - my first mentor, Preeti Vyas Gianetti - carved a space for women in design in India, Kutchi embroidery - Indian arts & culture has been my biggest inspiration! Favourite art movement? Minimalism. A font you swear by? Gotham. A show you recommend binging? Grey's Anatomy. Your top 3 dinner guests? My daughter, Husband and first family.
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.