The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. Hazel Imogen is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, I'm Hazel Imogen, and I'm the founder and creative director of Two Parts Studio. We are a collaborative studio that partners with our vetted agencies to provide comprehensive creative and strategic solutions for small to mid-sized businesses, usually start-ups.
Our goal is to help bring businesses' ideas to life and find ways to connect those ideas with their target audience to create authentic connections and brand loyalty. We take pride in being creative problem solvers who love to work with go-getters. We approach every challenge with an open mind, always searching for innovative and effective solutions that exceed our clients' expectations.
Our passion for creativity is what drives us to deliver exceptional results that truly stand out in the market. Ultimately, we aim to empower businesses to achieve their goals and stand out in their industry. Whether it's crafting a brand identity, developing a marketing strategy, or designing a website, we work with our clients to deliver results.
What did it take to get your first handful of customers?
Landing our first handful of clients was a surprisingly seamless process. During the Covid lockdown, I began actively posting on TikTok, sharing my design work and insights into the creative agency world. Although my goal at the time wasn't to get clients (as I was a creative director at another agency) I started getting traction, and a few significant freelance projects came through as a result.
Not long after, I was abruptly terminated from that company and I found myself between the idea of finding another agency to work for or starting my own. I decided it was time to become my own boss and started Two Parts Studio. Once I committed to the studio, I relied on my network and relationships with other professionals in the creative industry that I had built over the last decade. I reached out to everyone I knew, personally emailing them to let them know what I was starting and offering incentives to encourage them to refer people they knew to work with us. I received so much encouragement and enthusiasm from my community that it really amped me up.
I also put some more focus into building a stronger online presence. We developed a website that showcased our portfolio and services, and we actively engaged with potential clients on social media platforms. When we started getting our first clients, we prioritized providing exceptional service and delivering high-quality work. We made sure to build strong relationships with our clients and over-deliver on their expectations, knowing that these clients would be crucial in helping us build our reputation. As a result, we often received leads from these satisfied clients.
Have you had to pivot the business to get to where you are today?
There haven’t been any major pivots, but small ones which I think are to be expected when starting a business. Within the first month I made a significant pivot in the business strategy. Initially, I was speaking to a lot of creatives and aspiring designers on TikTok, acting as a mentor and providing tips and advice for them.
I quickly realized that we needed to position the studio messaging towards business owners and startups to attract the type of clients we wanted to work with. So there became a clear separation between my personal entity online and the studios entity online creating resources specifically tailored towards business owners. Another challenge we faced in our first year of business was some legal issues that made it difficult to promote our studio.
As a result, we had to pivot to rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing to get our name out there. While it is something that seems more challenging, it allowed us to focus on building stronger relationships with our existing clients and to prioritize their satisfaction with our work. On top of these external pivots, I also made some internal shifts to create the type of studio environment I wanted.
In the past, I had been a workaholic and was consumed by work, completely exhausting myself and finding myself in major creative slumps. I wanted to create a studio that prioritized work-life balance for creatives, so we are able to work fewer hours, travel and put the creatives first. This has been a significant pivot for me personally, and as a studio has allowed us to create a better work environment and produce even higher-quality work.
What drives/motivates you on a daily basis?
Ultimately what drives me is the opportunity to create meaningful connections and make a positive impact on our clients' businesses. As a big idea person, hearing our clients get passionate about their vision and ideas really gets me going. It's inspiring to be a part of their journey and help bring their ideas or products to life. Working with businesses that share the same values as us is also really important.
When it feels like we are all aligned and working together to create positive change, I get excited to do the work. We love helping businesses that are passionate about making a difference in their industry and are willing to take risks to make their vision a reality. I mentioned before the importance of work-life balance, which I’ve found allows us to put 200+% into the work we do while also avoiding burnout and keeping inspired. I’m currently working remotely in CDMX for the month and I’m freshly reminded of how motivating it is to be somewhere out of your normal routine or environment and getting immersed in new art and creativity.
The last piece of that daily drive really comes from reminding myself that this is my business and that I'm the boss and I’m no longer working for anybody else. It's empowering to be in control of my own work and create a studio that aligns with my values and vision and can be exactly what I want it to be.
When will you know that you've "made" it as an Entrepreneur?
This is a funny question to me because I have an entirely new perspective on “making it” since I started my studio. Admittedly, in the past, I used to constantly be chasing the next best thing whether that be the next title promotion, salary jump, award ect. I moved quickly up “the ladder” but I never felt like I had ‘made it' because once I got that thing, there was always something else that I had to strive for. When I left the corporate world, I realized that this way of thinking wasn't sustainable and it was taking away from the joy of the present moment and my love for design and creativity.
Now, when I look at where I am: I work for myself, work with amazing people, make good money, foster ideas, mentor others, provide resources, can travel and keep my business running, have an actual life outside of work. I am very content with the progress that I've made and where my business is at today. And by all means, that’s not to say that I'm not constantly striving to improve and do better, but I believe that it's important to appreciate the journey and the successes along the way. Shit’s good, I feel like I've already 'made it'.
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
One of the hardest parts of my journey has been the actual business side of things. While I learned a lot about these systems at my past agencies, things like sorting out filings, S corps, how to hire people, taxes, financials, and other “business-related” tasks were challenging and not fun.. These are all things that I have learned to offload to other people or hired out agencies to help and allow myself to focus on the parts of the business I actually like doing.
Additionally, the stress of running a business while going through a lawsuit in my first year was really tough - both mentally and emotionally. However, it became a constant reminder to myself that I'm obviously good at what I do, or I wouldn't be in this situation. So, I pivoted that stress into motivation and learned to handle the challenges that came with it, not allowing myself to get bullied out of what I love to do. While I’ve had my setbacks, I try to look at the difficult times as obstacles to get stronger and know that I am better for it. Overall, these challenges have helped me grow and learn, and I am proud of how far I've come.
Who or what has helped you the most in your journey so far?
I would say that my 10+ years of experience at various agencies have been the biggest help to getting me where I am today. The exposure to different industry categories like shopper marketing, advertising, branding, marketing, packaging, and digital, in both small and large agencies in both B2B and D2C markets has given me a strong foundation. From these experiences, I was able to pinpoint what was working really well at these agencies and what didn't. I have been able to take all these personal experiences and curate an experience for my clients that reflects that knowledge and cultivates a studio culture that I’d actually want to work at. In addition, my time at these various agencies allowed me to build a vast network of incredible hard-working and talented creatives, many of whom I still work with today. Having this network of creative resources has been so so valuable to my business. I know that I can tap into them to help me with any deliverable I need, and that level of trust and support is immeasurable.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
There are a few resources that I would recommend to anyone looking to learn and grow in their journey as an entrepreneur or as a creative director. I'm an avid reader and believe that books have been an incredible tool in terms of learning about business, leadership, and the craft of creativity. I actually started a bookshelf specifically for these kinds of books, and I would highly recommend checking it out (https://tinyurl.com/3r86w43v). Another resource that I would recommend is finding a mentor in your field that you can work directly with or have some 1:1 time with on a regular basis. I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to have someone who's been there and done that and can offer you guidance and support along the way. I've been fortunate to have had several mentors throughout my career while working at agencies, and they've played a big role in my success today. If you're looking to find a mentor, start by reaching out to someone that's doing what you want to do and see if you can have a chat with them over coffee. It's amazing how much you can learn from someone who's been there before. Of course there’s also platforms like Tiktok and Youtube which can be great resources for learning. While I wouldn't solely rely on these platforms, they can be excellent sources of inspiration and can help you with pieces of the whole thing (or maybe could find you a mentor). I gear my Tiktok account towards aspiring creatives and share bite-sized pieces of what I’ve learned in the industry. (https://firstname.lastname@example.org)
List the founders
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
30-50 It really ranges
# of Employees?
1 Full time, 4 contractors, 4 partner studios
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
Any call to action?
Work with our studio
STUDIO: website: www.twoparts.studio IG: @twoparts.studio PERSONAL: IG