After returning to campus from co-op in the fall of 2013, seven other students and myself realized the need for (1) a venue for non-Art and Design students to participate in design, (2) a stronger, more engaged community of designers and (3) a process for recieving, vetting and completing large-scale projects. Classes give us theory and principles...but interdisciplinary collaboration, a system for tackling multi-faceted design projects and a forum for critique outside the classroom was needed.
This is how it happened: I assembled the team of eight and scheduled weekly meetings to figure out processes, people, what this thing looks like; we got buy-in from the Department of Art and Design, and eventually the College; got over the fact that I had no idea what I was doing or why anyone would listen to me; I was granted a full time co-op as CEO of this 'agency' (it took us four months to come up with the name Scout).
With sixty hours a week of practice, lots of coffee and the support of the team, I started becoming a leader. Scout took on its first clients—New Grounds Food, Our Marathon and Genius Box. It was my first dive into the "business stuff" so I spent many days writing drafts of project proposals, business plans and budgets. We were fortunate enough to get set up in our first office, which was great for having client and administrative meetings. We figured out what processes work for our type of studio, who the next six designers would be and what we can do beyond just projects to build a community...
Public events. We started planning out topics and speakers that interested us, making a loose schedule of what's to come Fall 2014. That summer, we had a table at every orientation and activity fair, getting students excited about design. We also took on our next set of clients with larger projects than before, began branding our organization and moved into a new, larger office, now affectionately known as "Scout HQ." It was also the summer of org structure as we recruited more students and set up an Advisory Board.
And then this happened:
Our first event of the Fall semester and boy were we not expecting that. Over 160 students from all majors and grades came to learn more about design and what Scout is. Our mission to spread our craft to the rest of campus never looked so promising. We used this momentum to host six other events and grow the studio team to over 20 students.
Being back in classes made a few things tricky to figure out, but we managed. Scout Studio completed twelve projects in four months, which is definitely not sustainable for full-time students but is an incredible feat nonetheless. Our Management Team was in place, now, and we awarded our first Scout-funded co-op position to our Design Director. More processes, more critiques, more culture-building, more presentations to faculty and staff. The usual.
Spring 2015 has been a bittersweet semester. On the one hand, we're continuing the trend of amazing work and events with new clients, speakers and fresh faces on the team. Club Scout, our newest program, is an informal weekly meeting for anyone to get work critiqued, connect with designers, eat snacks and talk design. It's been hugely successful in building our community.
On the other hand, and with graduation around the corner, our focus is on solidifying processes and structures that will allow the next Management and Studio team to flourish. Yes, we went from zero to a fully-operational studio with programming and events in a year and half. But the sky's the limit so long as the passion is still burning. Here's to you, future Scout.