My life as a graphic designer has undoubtedly been a long and winding road. I started many years ago studying art and graphic design at Tyler School of Art at Temple University. I was fortunate to study with some of the most renowned designers, such as Stanislaw Zagorski, known for his album covers, including Cream's Wheels of Fire. I also studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts with Milton Glaser, founder of Push Pin Studios and known for his unusual and influential graphic design style and creator of the Big Apple logo. They gave me a strong design foundation, so I pay much attention to fonts, colors, composition, and design, whether doing a package design or creating a website.
Upon graduating from college, I moved to New York during a significant recession and finding a job was tough. Eventually, I found employment and worked in various design-related positions. I was a graphic designer at ABC Sports, an Editorial Artist at King Features Syndicate, and a Textile Designer using my illustration skills. After a few years, I moved to Boston, where I got a job as Director of Marketing for a chain of stores similar to the Gap. Not long after, I decided to start my own design and advertising boutique. There, I specialized in retail clients offering everything from graphic design to media buying to sales.
Part of my business was working with radio stations and buying airtime, which led me to a shift in my business. I realized that the radio stations could benefit from my services in creating promotions in conjunction with the retail clients. This birthed Woman at Work, an international marketing company creating promotions to boost listenership for radio stations. I was a bit of a pioneer because, at the time, it was pretty much a male-dominated industry, and all of my employees were women. The company grew and, after several years, became a multimillion-dollar company with around 13 full-time employees. Now keep in mind that this was all pre-computer/pre-internet, so life was completely different.
When QuarkXPress came out in the late '80s, I thankfully transitioned from manual graphic design to computer design, an incredible asset. Then, Adobe was released, I taught myself how to use all of the Adobe Suite Products, which I have continued to use and are assets in designing websites. A large portion of my business is still graphic design: logos, packaging, brochures, and anything requiring design.
Marketing in radio required knowledge of demographics and lifestyles as different radio formats appeal to various demos. My understanding of this has helped me today in social media, targeting audiences, and designing for specific audiences. I moved my company to the New York area due to changes in the broadcast industry and deregulation, but many things were changing in radio. I decided to redirect my marketing efforts back to small businesses, and in 2004, I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.
Around this time, the internet was booming, and web design was flourishing. With my design and marketing background, it was a natural match. I briefly worked for an arts organization as Director of Marketing. I quickly connected with the community and built many valuable relationships that have been instrumental in growing my business. As a born entrepreneur, I soon left the organization to restart my marketing business, this time keeping it small and hiring freelancers as needed.
I built my first website on iWeb, Apple's platform, around 2006. Boy, do I wish I had a copy of that site! I can only imagine what it must have looked like. As new platforms came out, I tried them to gain knowledge. I worked with several outlets, including Dreamweaver, Squarespace, and WordPress, but finding Wix was a dream come true.
I first used Wix in 2009. I didn't know much about it, but taught myself how to use it and connected with customer support in Tel Aviv. There was no large Wix Community then, and my primary contact was Yael in charge of client relations, and since we were all so new at it, we talked a lot. I became what was known as a Wix international Advisor. She would ask for feedback from me about the product, client requests, and issues building websites. A lot of my input was implemented and still part of the Editor today. There was even a forum where Wix users from around the world posted and communicated about their experience, jobs, questions, and support.
It has not always been a smooth road. The economy and industry changes have sometimes made it difficult. Still, the main thing I learned was to be adaptable and flexible and to continue to learn and keep up with trends and technology. Now, my business's focus at The Marketing Works of Palm Beach, is to create branding and marketing to improve my clients' visibility. What sets me apart is that I have a background in graphic design, art, and marketing to offer an aesthetic approach and a business approach to clients. I can look at the whole picture and not just make an attractive logo or website, but also has a marketing strategy behind it.
I still like to think of my company as a boutique. Why? Because I offer personalized services to my customers, whether they be holistic practitioners or real estate agents. Having studied yoga since high school, I am part of the holistic community. Much of my business focuses on alternative medicine and holistic lifestyle. However, I belong to many networking groups, so my clients also range from IT companies to pre-schools to cosmetics.
I have designed over 100 sites and no two of my sites are the same, each one with their own personality. As a Wix Partner, I can create websites worldwide and have clients from as far as Israel, Africa, Argentina, and locally. I am most proud of the integrity of my work. I am honest and blunt. If a client requests something that I don't think is professional or makes sense with their marketing goals, I let them know. I always try to do what is best for their business rather than just doing what they think they need.
Currently, I am a Wix Legend (I love saying that as it sounds so funny!) Agency Partner and have been a part of the WixCon planning team.
I work with many product managers and often Zoom with them about various new products, what clients are looking for, and my input on workability. I love the Wix Community and the support it offers and how we are such a family. As the old lady of the group, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I might be able to answer or advise on running and growing your business. I've had my own business since I was 27, and it has been an incredible and fulfilling journey.
Some takeaway tips are:
Network, network, network!
Find your niche and become an expert in that field or area.
Use the community for support and ask for help.
There is so much opportunity out there with businesses continually moving and new ones popping up. Now, more than ever, websites are an essential part of any business.
Additionally, I am an artist creating in photography, mixed media, and installations (www.ileneadams.com). I'm also the co-director of Art Synergy, an art non-profit (www.artsynergy.org) supporting artists in South Florida. I am married with two daughters, who are both soon to be mothers, and I am excited to be a grandma!
Ilene Gruber Adams
The Marketing Works