A new kind of graphic design business is in town. Young Ae Kim and Joe Schaeffer welcomed 605 into their studio to explain Made by Thaw’s process. Their strategy gets beneath surface levels to solve problems for clients.
The duo set to work after opening their doors approximately four months ago. Schaeffer and Kim started out as student and teacher. Kim taught at the University of South Dakota while Schaeffer pursued his undergraduate degree.
“Young Ae reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in opening up a studio together,” said Schaeffer. “Of course I said yes.”
Reaching out to Schaeffer was calculated for Kim. The designer and current South Dakota State University professor owned a business in Korea before moving here 13 years ago.
“When I hire designers, there’s a few things that are really important. One is work ethic and another is honesty. The third is a mindset of growing at all times,” said Kim.
Made by Thaw’s setup lies within Kim’s own home. An open floor plan, natural lighting, and warm smiles greet visitors. The location fit needs of accessibility and wanting to merge their cultures with the Midwest’s.
“I’m half Mexican, Young Ae’s Korean,” said Schaeffer. “Within these cultures, family is very important. We’re taking that approach, inviting people into our house and making them feel comfortable.”
A team of two proves to be all they need to succeed at this time. The studio may expand its team in the future, but manpower isn’t an important factor in delivering quality graphics.
“These days, it’s not about size. I would say that we are very customizable for the clients,” explained Kim. “We have the capacity to do all requests with a very different approach.”
Keeping a balance allowed expansion already. Made by Thaw opened a small studio in Los Angeles as well. Purchasable items also accompany self-initiated exhibits and past projects on their website.
“We do a lot of self-initiated work that we’re either interested in or that’s research-based,” said Schaeffer. “Different ideas and experimentation filter into our work professionally.”
The designers believe even unsuccessful projects fuel growth of their skills. Kim says that some designs were never destined for a price tag.
“Not everything’s made to sell. Some are limited editions or remain online,” said Kim. “We also sometimes do pop-up events and randomly send out to a couple of people a surprise gift.”
One of these events focused on the now official Sioux Falls Flag. The board that introduced the design included Schaeffer. Made by Thaw gave away posters of their take on the flag.
“We sent out five posters to people in town. If we want to do it, we don’t hesitate,” explained Schaeffer. “That’s another nice thing about being small.
So what’s next at Made by Thaw? Kim and Schaeffer plan to keep expanding their influence on the area.
“With this speed, we hope we can do more contributions to the community, such as hiring interns,” said Kim “The biggest goal we have is to make our footprints in the community.”
The pair already completed projects for Sanford Health, USD, and a video production. There’s several more in the works.
“We’re aiming to solve the problems of our clients with solutions that aren’t typically like anything you’ll see,” said Schaeffer. “It’s about redefining what design is in the Midwest.”
For more information, visit madebythaw.com.