Cody and I met in 2006 at Herron School of Art & Design. I was fresh off of an abusive relationship with an attempted Biology Major and rebounding by diving head first into a graphic design program. Cody was interested in an illustration degree (something that, luckily for me, wasn’t available at Herron). By chance, we ended up in the same Visual Communication cadre at Herron and spent the next few years working together on class projects, grinding away on whatever freelance work we could pull together on the side and bonding over this new thing called “craft beer.” A lot of said beer was consumed sitting in my old Jeep on the roof of Herron’s parking garage (in-between, after, and sometimes during class time). We were more hood rat than design luminaries, but we were good kids.
Late junior year, we started talking about opening a design shop. Why not, we have laptops, how hard could it be to run a business??? Internship experiences that he and I each had solidified this idea while also giving us a battle flag. We each saw the creative industry creating a barrier between clients and designers. There was, and still is, a pervasive dogma that clients don’t know anything about design (or even their industry) and that a designer can come in as a panacea and fix all of their problems better than they can. It’s the unfortunate Don Draper myth that will. not. die.
We saw this create myriad problems like blown budgets and deadlines, unhappy clients, and subpar work. Design firms were more concerned about tracking billable hours than they were with getting shoulder-to-shoulder with clients to get to know them and what makes their business special. We felt then, and even more so today, that if we put collaboration at the center of everything we do, we could create better work; that if we engaged our clients as passionate subject matter experts, we could create better work, together.
That idea in mind, we graduated on Saturday, May 10, 2009 and founded CODO the following Monday (though our official anniversary is July 25, 2009 according to when we got our state paperwork wrapped up).