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The Island Current
May 2018, The Island Current, Page 9
Web Designer Finds a Home
— Creative and Otherwise —
By BILL STUTTIG
Katie Geddes, who runs a successful website and business design practice from her apartment on Fordham Street, loves City Island, and she credits the online world for making it possible for her to both live and work here and be successful. “I think there are more and more people like me living and working here,” Katie told The Current, in explaining how she has the best of both worlds. “Because of the online world, that is why it is possible.”
Not only does the digital universe make it possible to work from her City Island home, but it makes it possible for her to work at all. Katie defines her profession as a “spiritual business designer” who “takes her clients on a journey of self-discovery” as part of the process of creating websites, graphics and marketing copy that define the business, its goals and its offerings to their potential customers.
Katie Geddes (above, left) designed the wine labels for City Island wines (above).
Katie said that the journey to what is now her successful home-based business was long, winding and not always easy. She graduated from college with a degree in religion and came to New York to pursue a career in acting. “I started out as an actress, but i never loved it. It is a very competitive business, and you feel guilty when you decide you are no longer going to pursue it,” she recalled. “But we are all here to figure out why we are here. I am a really good designer and writer and communicator. I love technology and I love design passionately. The one thing different about me is that I am equally strong in all of these.”
So she left acting and took her communication skills to the corporate world and found work as a communication consultant for the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse. She left that firm after five years to expand her horizons, start her own business and work her own hours, but she soon found out that the ebbs and flows of self-employment can take its toll if you are not prepared.
While Katie was living and working in Manhattan, she says, “I literally woke up one day and realized that I only had 46 dollars in my bank account. I don’t know how I slept at night, but we all get through these times in our lives.” Her plan to get through this particular time was to fall back on her secretarial skills. She accepted a job as a secretary with a Manhattan-based music publisher, and just as she was due to start, her own business landed a client. She was offered the chance to design the art work for employee benefits packages and materials for Pepsi Bottling. Pepsi would go on to become a long-time client of hers, and designing packages to accompany corporate employee benefits explanations became a niche that she has since brought to other firms.
Katie reports that she was still making a living at this kind of work in Manhattan in 2005 when the community of City Island, which she had never heard of, came to her attention three times in the space of one week. She thought of that as an omen. “At the time I had just learned how to drive and I realized that because of this, I could actually live somewhere besides Manhattan.” So she got in her car and drove to City Island for the first time. She liked what she saw.
“It is so important if you are artistic to nurture whatever makes you feel creative. I came to City Island and I said, “I like it here. This is the place.” She rented one apartment but soon moved to the one she lives in now, which she says gives her the space to both work and practice her essential yoga.
Katie’s client list began to expand, and so did her strategies for serving clients. “My request for my clients is for them to work with me,” she says. Each initial consultation involves at least one two-hour session, which she calls “Vision Work.” “It is marketing combined with psychology which helps me get to what lies underneath — the why, the what and the how. And what matters the most is the why. Without this, you are groping in the dark.”
Her business has its own comprehensive website — www.embodyart.com — which markets her approach and lists testimonials from her past successes. Firms she has worked with include Sikorsky Aircraft, a British firm promoting butter, and clients who are what she calls “brick and mortar” businesses operating out of an established location, such as a Canadian orthodontist and a New Jersey-based veterinarian.
“Today, nobody in business should not have a website,” she claims. “It is not only a marketing tool but it also creates a system for entrepreneurs to have a regular flow of revenue.” Even though her clients come from all over, she has also done work designing websites for Islanders and Island businesses.
“I like to design and I like to write,” she says. Among her most visible local designs is the label of the popular and affordable “City Island” wine at J.G.L. Liquor store.
Recently Katie began advertising her resume-writing skills in The Island Current. “That little $6 ad has been so awesome,” she said. “I love the work and I am really good at it. I have a 100 percent success rate. Everybody gets an interview and a job from my resumes.”
She recalls that once a middle-aged man wanted to start working as an actor even though he had no prior credits. He came to her for help, and she was able to frame his previous experiences in such a way as to begin getting him a foot in the door and work in films in small parts.
“I have people tell me things about themselves you would never know,” she claims. “I can present and put people’s best foot forward. The method is relatively contained and simple. A very clean layout and a good cover letter will get you an interview.” For this service she charges $598, which may seem high to some, but other resume-writing services charge much more and don’t have her record of success. She also said she likes and has designed business cards and that she would love to delve into designing menus for local restaurants. She also designs and sells rugs and is looking into the possibility of renting space in one of the Island storefronts to showcase her work.
A typical work day from her home on City Island includes four or five hours of design work and writing, but as she puts it, “I really never stop working, creating and thinking. Ideas come to me at all hours of the day and night.” When she is not working, she says, “I really do love City Island. I like to go down to the beach just to look at the water. This place is definitely unique.”
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