Studio & Entrepreneurship – Week 1: Planning, Strategy & Management

Duke Street Design

Thoughts on Week 1 Lecture & Resources

Key factors & things to consider when setting up a design business:

  • Clients (who they are/who you want to for for/with, as well as how you will get them)
  • Cashflow + Finances (also keeping good records)
  • Where you will work
  • Networking / support network / peer network
  • Being passionate about what you do
  • Good communication
  • Delivering on promises + commitments
  • Transparency, e.g. being upfront about costs involved
  • Flexibility
  • Self-promotion: finding a platform to show off your work
  • Putting in place good structures / systems
  • Trusting your instincts
  • Putting contracts in place (to cover legal aspects + agreements)
  • What type of work you want to undertake

Research: Case Studies


Pentagram is one of the world’s best-known design agencies, run as a co-operative by a collective group of partners. They have a multi-disciplinary approach and operate with no “middleman” between designer and client. Each partner effectively runs independently but can draw on their global network of creatives and other experts.

I think this is a really interesting model, where in a sense, they have the best of both worlds – each of the partners have creative freedom and agility, running as an independent business, but can easily tap into a wider collective, which I could see being of huge benefit.

Leith Agency

Revisiting one of the creative agencies I looked at in Week 2 of the Contemporary Practice module, I investigated how they portray the business and their work.

I like how unpretentious and straightforward the “about” page is for Leith (see screenshot above). They kept things simple and I think it works really well, whilst visually linking to the maritime heritage of the area they are based in. Their ethos is: “bold ideas that make a difference” – again, it’s to the point and you get the impression that they would be approachable and easy to work with. The agency also talks about promoting diversity and inclusivity, as well as how keen they are to work on local projects that make a difference.

Human After All

This agency keeps things simple by being really transparent and stating clearly what their raison d’etre is – see image below with a screenshot of the homepage their website, where this message is front and centre. They also talk about building lasting partnerships with clients that grow from the projects they take on.

Image via Human After All.

The Gentle Jaunt

Looking outside the realms of design studios and businesses, I found a website for a bike shop based in Berlin called The Gentle Jaunt that summed up their ethos nicely: “We believe in laid-back bike riding, having a good time and fooling around. No competition, all recreation.” Their mission, simply stated, is to encourage people to get out on their bike with friends.

I think this is interesting, because sometimes bike shops can feel like an intimidating, competitive space to someone who is interested in getting started. From their website, you get the impression that the retail environment they have created is welcoming and inclusive – and that the people there are approachable. Cycling should be fun, after all.

Workshop Challenge: Elevator Pitch

Cat McLaughlin is an independent designer based in Scotland, with a background in textile design and interactive media. As Duke Street Design, she brings together these influences and her decade of graphic design experience to offer a bespoke and multi-disciplinary approach to creative projects, from the digital to the tangible – everything from eye-catching posters and album artwork to tailor made brand design, print advertising and beyond. To find out more about how Cat can help you realise your ideas, get in touch at / IG: @dukestreetdesign.

Initial draft for Elevator Pitch

Cat McLaughlin is an independent designer based in Scotland, with a background in textile design and interactive media. As Duke Street Design, she brings together these influences and her decade of graphic design experience to offer a bespoke and multi-disciplinary approach to creative projects.

Rationale for the name

I chose the name Duke Street Design, partly because it’s the name of the street where my business ideas started to galvanise, and partly because it’s got a nice rhythm to it. It’s also a lot easier to spell than my surname! In theory it could additionally allow for future growth if I decided to branch out and hire other people.

Ethos and Values

  • Transparency, clarity & honesty
  • Integrity
  • Personal approach (working directly with clients)
  • Working with clients to create something that genuinely works for them and does what it needs to
  • Conscientious approach to design, always considering ways to reduce impact on the environment and the most effective way to use resources where possible
  • Good design doesn’t need to cost the earth (literally + figuratively!)

Services offered

  • Brand identity & logo development
  • Design for print
  • Design for web, digital & interactive media
  • Design consultancy/advice

Projects I would *love* to work on:

  • Graphic designs for music (e.g. album artwork, video graphics, animation, imagery and posters)
  • Brand identity + logo development
  • Design projects for charitable & not-for-profit orgs

Clients I want to work with:

  • Creatives who run their own small business (e.g. artists, jewellers, textile/fashion designers, ceramicists, printmakers, designer-makers)
  • Bands & musicians
  • Charities & organisations that care about sustainability and minimising our collective impact on the environment
  • Mental health charities & organisations
  • Charities & not-for-profit organisations in general
  • Small, independent businesses
  • Cultural sector organisations such as museums & galleries
Initial thoughts on the task.

Reflection on the week

I found this week’s task challenging in the sense that I have often struggled to define what I do, as I have tended to work across multiple creative disciplines over the years – and in the process, these have “bled” into each other or influenced the way I work in each, in different ways. In the end, I came to the realisation that this was actually one of the things which makes my approach quite unique and could be considered one of my strengths as a designer, so I decided to weave this into my elevator pitch.

It was a useful exercise to actually question myself; in doing so I have a much clearer idea going forward of what I want to do, who I’d like to work with, and what my values are. Importantly, I also did not want to paint myself into a metaphorical corner by being too prescriptive, so I deliberately allowed breathing room to encourage the diverse types of work that will continue to keep things interesting for me as a creative individual.


Computer Arts. 2016. How Pentagram works. Available at [accessed 02/06/2021]

Human After All. 2021. [accessed 02/06/2021]

Leith. 2021. ‘Leithers.’ Available at [accessed 31/05/2021]

The Gentle Jaunt. Available at [accessed 02/06/2021]