How Creatives Used Collaborations to Support their Business in 2020

2020 was a challenging year for all, especially small business — and three out of 10 small businesses are still worried about staying afloat this year. Here in the Creatives Roundtable, collaboration is part of our core values and 2020 inspired many of us to take it up a notch in a variety of ways to support and grow our businesses.

The Creatives Roundtable group meetings have always been virtual but in 2020, CR founder Nancy Ruzow of Ruzow Graphics launched a Slack group as an additional way for members to stay connected, share job opportunities and resources, and offer encouragement and support. Nancy also implemented a LinkedIn pod where CR members collectively share, like and comment on each other’s posts — leading to a big bump in post engagement.

Here are more inspiring collaboration stories from Creatives Roundtable members:

For me, collaboration is a mindset — all of my projects are collaborations and every client is a collaborator. I have found the best results come from this way of thinking. Both parties are teamed together to solve specific problems. When everyone is invested and open to ideas, feedback and opinions, everyone seems more curious, and innovative solutions arise. Alternatively, when either party comes to the project in a different frame of mind, the outcome is less inspired and the process is painful for everyone.  — Wendy Wood of Wendy Wood Design

I have always collaborated with colleagues but 2020 really showed me the power of building a team. After growing my business’ creative and strategic team, I was able to take on several large client projects. I also regularly called on friends to help with design and production to help ease my workload. Instead of feeling like I have to do it all, I now actively seek out creatives whose skills complement mine and who can bring added dimensions and points of view to a project. Plus, after working solo for many years, it’s nice to have “coworkers” again! — Lidia Varesco Racoma of Lidia Varesco Design

When stay-at-home orders went into place, I suggested that my local DC freelance group do more frequent Zoom calls (similar to our Creatives Roundtable happy hours). We call them coffee hours and have them weekly. Attendance ranges from week to week, but it’s created a space for people to talk through issues unique to self-employment and has strengthened relationships within the community. — Cara Capizzi, Capizzi Designs

Sharing and Collaborating

I worked with fellow Creatives Roundtable member Libby Ventura of Ventura Graphic Design on a client prospecting project. The client loved it and two other clients have signed on for this type of project. The Creatives Roundtable is always the first place I look for sharing the workload. — Nancy Ruzow of Ruzow Graphics

I love to collaborate and bounce ideas off others. In 2020, collaborating helped me decide the best direction to take my design business during uncertain times. This pivot helped Crème de Mint win two AMA awards for digital marketing campaign and agency of the year! — Lauren Casgren-Tindall of Crème de Mint

I love collaborating with talented designers, writers, and creatives to craft custom, responsive WordPress websites. In 2020, one of my most exciting and lucrative projects involved the collaboration with a marketing team, event team, and corporation to create a virtual conference using WordPress. The result was a customized attendee experience that was reflective of the company and felt special, authentic and seamless while eliminating face-to-face interaction and staying safe. It was so successful we are gearing up to do it again later this year. — Jill Anderson of Jill Lynn Design

Prior to the pandemic I co-worked with a lot of creatives but rarely collaborated. During the past year, switching all my meetings to digital has really changed the way I work with others. I believe this past year has really encouraged people to connect on another level which has led to a lot more genuine collaboration.  — Emma McGoldrick of ESM Creative Studio

The Power of People

My personal tagline is “the power of people.” But if 2020 proved anything to be true, we needed one another more than ever last year. 2020 was truly a crazy, collective experience. The lines of business and personal were being crossed and blurred for all of us. The understanding, compassion, and appreciation I experience with online friends, colleagues, clients, and family, was a testament to my personal tagline, when we are working together, there’s a bit of magic that can make the darkest days just a bit brighter.  — Laura Cheek of Insperience It 

As CR member Laura Cheek says, “the power of people” is more important than ever right now for small businesses. Do you want to get inspiration and support from fellow creative business owners? Learn more about joining the Creatives Roundtable at

I help corporations and nonprofits turn their intellectual property into polished articles and white papers. As such, I am not the author of the content, I am the writer who shapes and articulates their knowledge and vision. For the best result, I collaborate not only with subject matter experts from the client, but also with copy editors, marketing & branding professionals, video producers, and senior client leaders. While those collaborations prolong the process and are sometimes frustrating—the proverbial ‘too many chefs in the kitchen’—the result is always superior to what I would have accomplished alone or with just one author. In particular, good copy editors have been my saviors on many occasions and have always helped me improve my own writing. I’ll always choose a collaborative approach because it produces a better result and has also enabled me to expand my professional network, thereby creating both more business leads and personal fulfillment. — Carol Marie Tuite

Over the past few years, I’ve occasionally worked with other designers to help me out when my plate became too full. In 2020, I was fortunate that projects continued to flow in at a steady (or sometimes frantic) pace. This, combined with the new role of home school teacher (among other daily changes to our world), made for challenging times. I relied more heavily on my network and was able to keep my current clients happy and even work with new ones. — Nadine Noble of IDEA NEST

The year 2020 brought me more opportunities to support my business via online seminars or conferences. Since it was the first-time large conferences were held online, I learned from a number of industry experts in various categories and expanded my technical skills in software applications by learning new techniques and tools. I also took a seminar to increase my knowledge in search engine optimization and have met more people online than in previous years. — Jeannine Papelino of IntreXDesign & Associates

2020 was the year where I expanded and nurtured my relationships mostly virtually due to the pandemic and as a result, I grew a network of great collaborations with copywriters, fellow designers and other creatives. — Karla Pámanes

2020 was a tough year for iKANDE. We were about 50% below our normal billings. With the extra time, it allowed us to step back and re-evaluate processes and future goals. And now, 2021 is looking great. We’ve always partnered with other creatives to complete website and design projects, but we’ve also added content collaboration for social media projects as well. For example, we are part of Underground Beaver’s Content Club, a partnership started by fellow Creatives Roundtable member Cassie Brkich of Brkich Design and Joline Atkins. It helps us do even more in-depth social media growth work for clients. This has added another layer of value that iKANDE brings to its clients. — Damien Golden of iKANDE

2020 was the year of collaboration for me. I recently joined forces with 3 other companies, each with their own specialties in marketing, brand identity, social media and graphic design to better serve an area of expertise we all share: the packaging industry. Collaboration and partnership is such a great way to be able to offer more services to the businesses I work with and allows me to add capacity with trusted partners to take on larger projects. A great opportunity for growth! — Jennifer Leonardson of Oxyjen Design

As soon as the lockdown began, we jumped into action, partnering with organizations around my county to help support the small businesses in our area. The partners included several chambers as well as government and community organizations. From this, Rooted Locally was born! We created a FREE marketing campaign to encourage people to shop locally and gave the businesses free downloadable materials to use as their life changed daily! We are currently printing posters, vinyl clings, and stickers for over 500 Beaver County businesses. We have done free training on how to use them as well. — Cassie Brkich of Brkich Design Group 

I could never have completed the projects I have without the talent of others. Collaborating is key in my design studio. From building websites to using custom illustrations incorporated into packaging, it’s always an exciting team effort. Mallory Greener of Slick and Slicker

By Lidia Varesco Racoma of Lidia Varesco Design.

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