Meet M. Kendall Ludwig- President and principal designer at CurlyRed, an initiative that provides design, branding, print and web solutions for numerous companies and non-profit organisations.
After starting CurlyRed in 2007 with the desire to create art, usable art, M. Kendall’s vision included the following statement: “…to lay bare the beauty in ordinary things is a great challenge.” According to her, she still believes that, and it still drives her to create the best work she can. However, it has taken her several years to realize that creating “usable art” is only one half of the challenge.
As her business has grown and she has developed deeper relationships with more clients, she realizes that there is an even more important challenge ahead- she sees, over and over again, other design firms and advertising agencies holding work ransom for sums impossible for anyone to afford – except the largest and wealthiest companies. “Something seems fundamentally wrong about that. There are far too many small businesses and nonprofits with great vision, but limited marketing budgets. Don’t they deserve the same access to good design? We think so,” she says.
Since its inception in 2007, CurlyRed has provided fresh, captivating and timeless design, branding, print and web solutions to various organisations. At present, it is a virtual team of local talent that includes designers, developers, writers, photographers, illustrators, videographers, public relations managers and social media experts. It tries to align its deliverables with its clients’ budgets and requirements and develops creative ways to make their services as affordable as possible. Whenever the team meets to discuss a project, it tries to discover who the clients are and then bases its custom and unique design around their needs and preferences. It thrives over the belief that a creative process like this ought to be a relationship, a dialogue between two parties. In 2011, CurlyRed was officially certified as an MBE/WBE business by the State of Maryland, and in 2017, became an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm.
Talking about her initial days of struggle, she says: “I started my business at 27, with no clue how to start a business. I was a graphic designer, looking for more creativity in flexibility in my life. In the early days, people took advantage of my kind nature and not-strong-enough contract. I ended up losing sleep, money and almost my whole company. However, I have a loving and supportive family that encouraged me to pursue my creative and leadership goals and here I am today- much ahead of all my previous fears.”
As the saying goes like ‘slow & steady wins the race’, her business has grown year by year, little by little. Today, she has an array of consistent clients and a host of positive testimonials from satisfied customers. Though she doesn’t hold a lot of interest in awards, she finds her reward in helping others achieve their goals. Apart from this, serving as the president of the Garrett County Arts Council in Western Maryland is also something she feels proud of. Her sole belief that everyone, regardless of business size and budget, gender, race and sexual identity, deserves a good design with care and respect and made CurlyRed reach where it is today. Here is a message from her for every female professional: “Work/life balance is possible when you set clear boundaries and expectations with yourself and your clients. Women are extremely capable of balance and excel when they are passionate about the ‘why’ of things- which makes them better than other professionals.”