Business | 3 May 2013

An abundance of Bel Biv Devoe references, or building a personal brand

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When I set out to start a business I didn’t even realize that I was, in fact, doing just that! In the Spring of 2004, I had just graduated from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Photography. Looking back I now understand my parents’ horrified facial expressions when I told them I was dropping my art education major for a major in photography. Whhhhhaaaat?

But as I journeyed out into “the real world” I took with me some basic web skillz that I had picked up in college. Like any narcissistic artist, I wanted my own website to display my sassy, feminist photography. But that single self-promoting endeavor led to my very first commercial client. I don’t remember exactly what I charged but I’m guessing it’s about 10% (if that) of what I charge today.

I remember trying to come up with a name for this little side business. I struggled with something clever for months and basically just gave up and tacked design on the end of my name. Little did I know that my giving up would ultimately prove extremely helpful in the future as I could work as a sole proprietor under my own name and social security number for years! I’m pretty sure I decided to name the business Beth Blinebury Design while drinking at a bar (not much has changed in nearly 10 years); and so BBD was born! (In 2012, Andy and I established BBD as an LLC so now we are all legit and what not.)


Although it was unintentional at first, I have created a business and a brand around myself. It has evolved into something more that now involves my business partner and husband Andy, our neighborhood (once Fishtown & now Kensington, although we are Ftown hangers-on), our interests, our love of beer and of course our dogs. I am always surprised and delighted to hear prospective clients ask me how Buckus is doing (after seeing him on our website’s about page) or telling me that they loved my hot pink and white wedding dress (which I agree was amazing). In short, every aspect of my business and my life are intertwined – from this blog post to a meeting with a client. I can’t imagine my business functioning in any other way and I think the almost-accidental naming of the business set the tone nearly 9 years ago this month!

Another bonus of the business name? Lots of Bel Biv Devoe references in meetings.

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