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WillDo Designs

Detroit, MI 48202

Willie Donwell II

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I've taken business classes at Wayne County Community College. Currently, I'm enrolled in the Detroit Creative Corridor Center's Business Acceleration Program, called Creative Ventures, which is located inside of the College for Creative Studies' A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.  

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
My first customer was the manager of a friend. I went to bring her lunch at work, and she told me that her boss needed a logo of a dragon for her dinner party group. I was genuinely excited to do the design for it, I completely misquoted her a price and learned first hand how complicated a commercial logo design can be.  

Where did you find your first employee?
WillDo Designs doesn't have any hired-in employees. We try to maximize the fact that graphic design firms don't need large amounts of overhead. Currently, WillDo Designs consists of myself and my two business partners.  

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Due to the fact that we haven't had any interns to date, we've never promoted any interns. We'll begin to search for interns at the beginning of January. There's already a few people who have shown interest in being interns who would be great fits. I could see them possibly being long-term, hired employees and we're interested in seeing them develop as designers.  

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
Actually, I've turned to previous employers. I wanted to find people who recognize and are familiar with my work ethic, whom I know on a personal basis for capital to grow our business. Utilizing previously built relationships has allowed for more time to focus properly on producing work for our clients.  

Name an idea, policy or mindset from elsewhere that you would like to see this region adopt?
There's a place called the Slowdown in Omaha, Nebraska. It was began by two entrepreneurs named Jason Kulbel and Rabb Nansel and it's an entire industrial complex that's tailored towards young creatives that includes places to work and play. We have some really great places in Detroit that are working to change our city from inside the creative community, as well. However, Detroit has always had a thriving cultural center and art is everywhere here, so when people hear about art or design events in Detroit, they aren't as impacted as when it's heard about in less artistic cities. The beautiful thing is that we're repurposing the way we utilize city space, such as North End Studios and the Russell Industrial Complex, as well as how we organize and assist the creative community, like the Detroit Creative Corridoor Center. The overall concept that  I would like to see is connecting the dots from the creatives to the community at a residential level. I think we can learn a few things from not only Omaha, but from ourselves.  

What could local leaders do to help attract and retain more entrepreneurial young people to Metro Detroit?
Speaking of working to gain more young creatives, the city needs to be more involved in that community at a political level. Detroit is changing from the river upwards by the hands of 20-somethings. Cities across the U.S. are currently working to attract this same crowd and, though we have made progress in doing so in the downtown and Midtown areas, we can't let ourselves fall behind the curve. Yet, part of that does fall on the shoulders of those same 20-somethings. It's pivotal that local government knows what interests them so that Detroit can make the right type of progress.

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