Today marks the day that I gave birth to my baby monster 15 years ago. Yes, it’s true, many a time I have referred to IMAGEHAUS as my baby monster. Why, you ask? Because for 15 years it has needed my constant care and attention, and the baby monster is always hungry for my time and resources. Like all growing babies, boy can it eat! And with eating, comes the lovely need to change its diapers. Yes, on a regular basis my baby monster makes a mess that needs to be taken care of. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

When I started IMAGEHAUS, I had no idea of what it would take to keep a strategic design firm alive and healthy for 15 years. I often said if I had to do it all over again, I would never do it. But just like deciding to have a baby, once you start there is no turning back.

Like most businesses, for the past 15 years we have had our highs and we have had our lows. But one thing remained consistent: our ability as an organization to launch, grow, and reinvent brands that have made a big impact on our community and for our clients. Despite all the ups and down and daily chores needed to take care of the baby monster, it is the desire for passion and results that I find most rewarding.

In my original business plan, I had five lofty goals that I wanted to accomplish, and it makes me happy to say that these goals were met before our 10th Anniversary. One of the goals was to provide over 1 million dollars in creative services to our community. Today, I am very proud to be able to say we have exceeded 2 million dollars in creative services that have impacted Minneapolis/St. Paul. To name a few of our accomplishments, we:

• Helped Open Arms of Minnesota raise 2.8 million dollars to build a new facility.
• Worked with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to launch a campaign called MN Girls Are Not For Sale, raising 5 million dollars.
• Created a brand for Project 515, the organization that started the movement to change Minnesota law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

These are just three of the 56 stories I could share. I believe 4C, The IMAGEHAUS Giving Program is one of the services that make us unique in our industry, and an accomplishment I am extremely proud of. This program is a strong and healthy component of our baby monster today.

Another early goal was to develop a process, philosophy, and solid approach to using strategic design to create strong brands. In my career, I witnessed many methods for developing ideas for clients, including large agencies’ use of rank and order (which stemmed from the military). As a creative thinker, I always felt there had to be a better way. Inside the walls of IMAGEHAUS, you’ll find titles do not exist and everyone on the team is equal when we are in the creative process. We prefer to use the word “shaping” over creative direction because we feel every person has ideas to bring to the table. The creative director can’t have all the right answers; more heads on the baby monster will always outperform one.

On this exact day, 15 years later, I am being honest and sincere when I say it has not always been easy, but I can say it has been very gratifying. I am thankful for everyone who has helped IMAGEHAUS achieve these goals, and if you are reading this you know who you are. I recognize this required many partnerships: the employees who believed, the vendors who had our back, and the clients who put their trust in our baby monster, IMAGEHAUS. None of this could have been achieved without you.

My baby monster is growing up—now a young teenager. It has become more independent and confident than in those early years. But to me, it will always be my baby monster.

OK, gotta run, the baby monster needs me. I realized today that I would not have it any other way.

Happy 15th Birthday, baby monster!