Small Business Spotlight: Going Green with jvm Design
We talked with Sharon Tisher about jvm Design’s dedication to being a sustainable website design and marketing agency and the importance of eco-friendly business practices. Learn how small-business owners can easily make the commitment to go green, too.
Tell us how jvm was founded?
My interest has always been in photograph and visual arts. I earned a degree in visual art from Ohio State's School of Art. I did freelance work in the beginning while still studying. When I graduated, instead of taking a traditional design job, I founded jvm in an attempt to start a small ad agency.
Back in 2002 the internet was very different from what it today. The focus then was traditional graphic design and printing. However, we were active in the internet even in the beginning. I remember our first internet client, who we launched a website for. I knew then that the internet would change my business and the graphics design business forever. As the internet expanded, we focused on custom website design. We are proud to have a large and diverse set of clients, to include Amazon as well as many local Dayton businesses.
How is jvm different from other web design and graphic companies?
We specialize in custom design - we never use stock or canned solutions. Each one of our products or services is unique from what we have done before, or that exists in the market. Our competitors use standard templates and pre-made commercial designs to shorted the the process; however, we never use pre-made anything. Our work is one-of-a-kind.
We have also deliberately stayed small, believing we can provide better products and service to our clients with a smaller business footprint. Our smallness allows greater focus and clarity in our work, and we can provide our clients better design and marketing solutions than a standardized large corporate approach. Our clients have responded to this approach in referring us to other businesses.
What were the first steps in going green as a business?
Essentially it started with the philosophy and efforts to reduce our physical and energy footprint. Instead of renting additional office space, we opted to adopt a work-at-home policy. This was really our first step into reducing our carbon footprint, but also had the added benefit of allowing our staff to better balance work/life.
Later we relocated to Yellow Springs because we discovered an opportunity to create an incredible workspace with sustainable pine flooring, tons of natural light, and none volatile organic paint and wall coverings. We were very excited to not only talk "green" but live and work it. We also adopted an extensive recycling program - we recycle all of our work papers, printer cartridges, older computer equipment, and even furniture. We were also first adopters of using electronic proposals and contract agreements. We eliminate all of our filing cabinets full of this paperwork, and now have cloud-based solutions that service all of our document needs. We have truly gone paperless.
What advice would you offer other companies considering a green approach?
We are not so narrow-minded to think all business are the same, in terms of their ability or even desire to go green. However, there are different green solutions right for every business - if even just a few steps in that direction. It is critical to research what is available for your business and how it can work for you employees. I would just encourage any business considering adopting more green approach to their operations to consider what is the right level of commitment for them. Start small and grow you green footprint as you become more comfortable with the concept.
How does being green help you business grow?
I believe our clients and prospective clients appreciate our environmentally-minded approach to business. While it may not be exactly right for their business, I think they appreciate a partner that can do green things we do. However, we don't do it as a selling point. We respect our clients' right to consider going green in their own way and time frame.