How I started my agency: Ross Vandenhoeck & Amelia from View Source
Welcome Ross and Amelia :) Tell me about the origin story of View Source. How did you get here?
Ross: If we rewind back to 2019, Jen, Andrew, and I were already working day and night on behalf of a few major design agencies in the Shopify space. We were fortunate to share a creative social circle with an ambitious, risk-on attitude, which opened doors and allowed us to begin operating under our own identity. Our true formative period came with the pandemic. There couldn't have been a better moment to launch a digital studio. Everybody needed a website, and that’s where we thrived.
Within a year, we reached a point where we couldn't manage all of the demand. Amelia was our first employee to help us graduate from doing everything ourselves to directing a talented team of strategists, designers, and developers.
What were some of the challenges you overcame when scaling up?
Amelia: We realized very quickly that we needed a process in place. Ross, Andrew, and Jen had an existing synergy, but we needed that to extend to the greater team. Learning how to transfer that knowledge to other designers and developers was ultimately what allowed us to scale.
What are the projects you’ve put out into the world that you feel best represent your skillset?
Ross: Bandit Running is a favorite one to mention. It was our foray into full-service projects. We partnered up from day one, crafting their strategy and brand identity. That eventually translated into the wild eCommerce and editorial platform they have today, as well as some fun video campaign work for their product launches. We remain close collaborators to this day.
What’s on the horizon for you at View Source?
Ross: From a technical skill-set, we’re always learning. That's just the nature of development. We’ve been playing around a lot with headless and Sanity (as a standalone CMS but also to make marketing sites). Regardless of the current tech out there, our team is always digging into how to elevate creativity, maintainability, and conversion.
At the same time, we’re evolving from a web-focused studio to a full-service partner, now having launched a few a-to-z projects (strategy, branding, web, and content). We’re even in the midst of building a giant cyclorama to shoot campaign and lifestyle content within our own walls!
Client profiles are also evolving given the uncertainty in eCommerce this past year and with investors tightening their wallets. No one saw it as a surprise, but we certainly see a shift in our leads, with larger and more established brands seeking our help over the younger startups.
Let’s take a step back: What’s one thing you got wrong at View Source?
Ross: Well we didn’t necessarily get this dead wrong, but I do wish we reserved more time for ourselves and reflection. Last year – and even most of this year – we were so deep into production that we’d habitually kick the long-term strategy of the studio down the road. I think it's important and surprisingly productive to define that upfront. But that requires you to have time to breathe (read: potentially turn down some clients).
Amelia: Another big learning has been around identifying good and bad clients. When you’re a new agency, you’re hungry to please everyone and you want to make every lead work out. Eventually, we learned that our preferred approach is not always the right-sized solution, and that some clients are a better fit for our studio than others.
Last question: Any predictions in eCommerce?
Amelia: We're seeing a tremendous rise in the success of user-generated content, where customers are finding brands either on TikTok or Instagram. Making that transition from social platforms to your online store seamless is something we’ll be focusing on in 2023.