Building a Moat: Starting Toil
Fortifying Creative Ventures in the Face of Industry Flux
Toil is a creative production and design studio, designed in New York & produced in Los Angeles
At the end of 2021 I lost my job unexpectedly. I felt deflated and logistically it meant I had around a month to find something new before my visa expired too.
I had survived all through Covid but now with my visa running down it felt like I had no plan b.

I had no moat to protect me. Too many of my eggs were in the same job basket and I felt stuck.

But big deal right, cry me fucking a river? Lots of people have lost their jobs, especially recently.

But it's felt increasingly like the creative industry has been pretty volatile in recent years. I know my business partners Alejandro and Danny have felt it too.

We know that marketing jobs (which I'm including design and production more broadly) are usually the first to be cut under any sort of economic uncertainty.

And when you think about it there's been a lot of turmoil in the last few years.

A once-in-a-100-year pandemic, bank collapses, the biggest war on the European continent in half a century, trade wars with China, Brexit, tech layoffs, and a job-eating technology (AI) that promises to be 'different' this time.

I talked a little about how I think a strong personal brand can help insulate you from job wobbles last month in Grafik Paragraph.

But to expand on that, I've become convinced that you need to build your own things in combination with another job or side hustle to avoid the volatility inherent in the new creative industry.

Build a moat that protects the castle.                                                

'1. a deep, wide ditch surrounding a castle, fort, or town, typically filled with water and intended as a defense against attack.'

I think the word 'attack' is a bit dramatic for the context I'm using here— but you catch my drift. 

Building your own things: a business, a studio, a passion, a personal brand, a product, a drawbridge. In tandem with other jobs or pursuits is a great way to insulate your castle from broader economic turmoil. 
With that in mind and a passion for doing great creative work and collaborating with clients, Danny, Alejandro and I decided to start Toil.

Why 'Toil'

We wanted a name that was short, snappy and memorable (and avail as a domain name, of course). Toil is a bit of an old-fashioned word, and one of Oxford's definitions is "exhausting physical labour." That's definitely not the vibe we're going for. 

But we were partial to this idea that the extra work all 3 of us have done over the past years—the extra time, energy and 'Toil' we've put into honing our craft has paid dividends on the projects we've been a part of. And this work continues to make our creative work stronger and more finely sharpened. 

We'll try anything once, twice, or a hundred times. But what we're really good at is Design, Strategy and Production.

So with that said we're open for business in 2024 and excited to dig this moat, who knows one day maybe the moat will become the castle.

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