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Interview: Jessica Dimcevski
Jessica Dimcevski's path—from finding her true calling and embracing entrepreneurship's freedom to shaping the future of branding with innovative ventures through Blurr Bureau.
Jessica Dimcevski is a Creative Director and Brand Strategist and the founder of Blurr Bureau, a Design and Venture Bureau working with ambitious founders, marketers and creators

MK:          Just to get people up to speed, I’d love to start by hearing a bit about your creative background?

JD:          My journey started when I went to one of the top universities for Visual Communication in Melbourne, and it wasn’t cheap. I don’t come from an affluent background, so I had to finish at the top of my class in my first year of study to reduce my massive student debt. I’ve always been extremely motivated to create, however I wouldn’t say graphic design specifically was a naturally gifted talent. I’ve had to work really hard at honing my skills over the years. I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years now and I finally feel like I’m ‘good’ at what I do — I’m sure many creatives can relate.

My career has taken me many different places and I’ve learnt so much along the way. My first Creative Director Mick Whelan at Cassette (a marketing and print agency in Melbourne) had incredible patience and would sit with me for hours, teaching me about design. I’ve lived in New York and worked at award winning agency Redscout. This is where I really began to hone in not only on my craft but the craft of strategy and storytelling, I was surrounded by genuine geniuses who were not only head smart but also charismatic storytellers. I always look back to this time as a defining moment in my creative journey.
Throughout my whole career, I've looked for workplaces which have a great culture and are people first. I have many creative interests outside of graphic design including: floristry, architecture, interior design, food, experience design and fashion. I believe interests outside of design keep the inspiration flowing. 

MK:          What was the catalyst that made you want to branch out and start your own thing with Blurr Bureau?

JD:          I’ve always known I wanted to start my own creative business, even from a young age. There have been so many different occasions over the years where I would muster up the courage to branch out on my own, however the serendipity of life would always take over. When I was living in New York, I was offered a promotion that would have been a pathway to a role that I used to dream about. I had visions of a high-rolling Chief Creative Officer, working on global brand projects with smart people and traveling the world. But I could also see that I would be miserable doing it, on someone else's terms. 

These are the things I don’t think enough creatives talk about — I was getting paid well, I loved the work, the ambitious people and the projects, but I was the unhappiest I had ever been. I was struggling to balance my relationships, work and creative outlets. I had to really question what I wanted in my life and my career. In a nutshell - it was the classic scenario of being offered the opportunity to make your ‘dream’ a reality, and realizing it's not what you want.
Not long before that, an old friend (now best friend) Erika Geraerts (Co-Founder of Frank Body, Willow & Blake, and Founder of Fluff Cosmetics) was also in New York. She was visiting for a pop up she created for Frank Body. In a split light bulb moment, she made me realize that that's what I wanted to do — run my own agency and have the freedom to visit New York for exciting new creative ventures, on my own terms.
I left New York so I could have the brain space to imagine what kind of studio I wanted to bring into the world. But I knew I wasn’t done with New York. I felt I could live out my highest potential in that city, and it would be the place that would keep me somewhat relevant even when I'm an old lady.
When I left, I promised myself that if I was leaving opportunities, it would only be for my own thing. And that I'd be back there, like Erika, for my own business, on my own terms and my own time. And here we are… I’m back in New York, building out a team here, we’re onboarding new US clients and I couldn’t be prouder.

MK:          The Blurr website mentions the studio is a ‘Design & Venture Bureau’, by venture are we sort of talking about founders and start-ups? And what made you want to work within that specific vertical?

JD:          I love business almost as much as I love design and strategy. I love working with founders from start to finish, molding something that is yet to exist into a meaningful, tangible product or service. It started with my partnership with a beauty brand that’s now in Sephora, globally. And most recently with Flings founders Ben & Dino as an investor and creative advisor.

Working with founders has taught me a lot! It helps Blurr stay relevant, move fast and help businesses of all sizes. We learn in real time with them which at times has its challenges. However, it sets us up for better systems and ways of working with the next gen of founders.

MK:          The structure of Blurr sounds unique, more of a network that grows and shrinks per project, can you talk a little bit about that?

JD:          We definitely are unique. We’re a network of 50-60 people around the world who come together to create brands with purpose. I curate custom teams, built specifically for the founder, brand or marketer we’re working with. I believe the same people who will benefit from your brand/service, should be the same people building it. 

Without sounding like a cult, to be in the Bureau you need to have worked with someone in the Bureau prior. This ensures we attract those who have similar work ethics and standards to the founding core team who inspired its existence. We also prioritize senior roles, people who have min 5-7 years of experience in their specialty.
Although we work with many contractors, we also have a multi-talented core team in Melbourne and New York who work on the projects. But our Bureau model allows us to always have top and relevant talent on projects. Different to many agencies and how they allocate resources, where you just get whoever is free at the time.

MK:          You’ve mentioned there was a period of time when Blurr didn’t have a website and the clients were still streaming in, how much importance do you place on networking, relationships and word-of-mouth?

JD:          We didn't have a website for the first 2 years of Blurr launching. We’ve only just finished our first full year with a website.

I don't like the word ‘networking’ and what it conjures in my mind. To me - networking feels forced, and involves transactional conversations that are inauthentic. So when I hear people talk about networking, I cringe a little. It’s not something that I've consciously gone out of my way to prioritize. But I realized after coming home from New York in the past, that ‘like attracts like’. I’m fortunate to have manifested inspiring people in my life — passionate, energetic and ambitious people, who aren’t afraid to challenge the norm or what they see.
Blurr would not have existed without our bureau partners and every client we’ve had to date. We have never advertised. All of our clients have come from word-of-mouth. Compassion and kindness goes a long way — just don’t be a dick.

MK:          What’s it like running a business between two continents? Australia is super far away and the time zones are almost opposites.

JD:          I wanted to create the business that I wished existed not only when I started as a graphic designer, but also when I was 8 years in and wanted more flexibility as a senior. I wanted to be able to work from anywhere, with different talented teams, on diverse projects. 

Working on the opposite sides of the planet allows us to essentially have a 24 hour team, 6 days of the week. Our US team can handball a project to the AUS team to hit tight deadlines. This has forced us to tighten our systems to ensure this works smoothly. Running 14 hours ahead of New York in Australia means we’re working from the future.
It has its challenges. When we have both US and AUS team members working on the same project, our meeting times can sometimes be during odd hours. But we work this out before starting a project to make sure it works for everyone. A lot of our clients are also working from all around the world. We’ve worked on a project for BMW where we ran a workshop across 4 countries - Germany, US, Australia and England.

MK:          Last time we chatted we talked a bit about value-based pricing, I think a bit of it went over my head as it's such a departure from how I’ve seen agencies bill clients. But what do you see as the upsides of this approach? 

And how could other people in this industry go about navigating it in their projects? Confidently putting it forward?

JD:          It was an approach I tried and I've since departed from. It requires MANY hours of research and referencing. It may work for the bigger agency models out there who have the people power and margins built into projects for people to spend hours of resourcing on scoping. But it was cutting into my time spent on new business. It also often requires very transparent clients who will give you numbers and budgets upfront or work with you on that. It's also very tricky to do with existing clients who are used to a certain scoping format.

Instead I've been focusing on our Sprint Menu, which is essentially packages that will get brands from A to B. Our sprint model allows clients to know what they are in for, pricing wise from the very beginning, and we’re able to test an output before entering the next phase of work for their brand. It allows us to shape the following sprint with previous learnings, while staying nimble and collaborative along the way. It also means they can pause easily if they need to if they hit a road bump which will affect our work. It also allows us to move super quick when required.

MK:          Upcoming projects that you are excited about?               

JD:          We are working on very exciting projects with Live Nation Entertainment in the USA. They’re exciting because they allow the Bureau to not only work on the classic visual and verbal branding projects, but to reimagine what the future of venues across America could look like. How the whole brand could come to life through naming, strategy, interiors and full experience design.

I’m still excited about eatflings.com which has recently launched in the US. We worked with founders Ben and Dino for over two years, helping them create the future of toaster pastries. 
We’ve also been working closely with founder Sophie McGrath, from Sophie McGrath PR. When Sophie first came to us she just wanted a lube brand. We evolved this concept into a sex and sleep brand we named and branded The Department of Bed Intentions, which explores the evolving spectrum of pleasure. Brands in the bedroom are fun and the lab meets lifestyle brand world we landed on is one of my favorite brand identities to come out of Blurr to date.
Working with founders to build a business from the ground up, and seeing the results our work brings to them and the world, is what brings me the most satisfaction. Flings website sales superseded $70k USD in the first month of launching! The founders constantly tell us how grateful they are for finding us and the brand we’ve created. That’s the kind of stuff that gets me jazzed! Making work that works.

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