In 2020, we were a scrappy young “startup” fighting tooth and nail to solidify our presence in the web design and development industry. We had a reputation for pushing the boundaries of the web and established ourselves as one of New Zealand’s first Webflow partners. Having finished my studies in design and web development studies, Psychoactive Studios felt like the land of infinite opportunity.
I was brought onto the team as an intern and transitioned into an account management role during my first week on the job. Looking back, the entire situation felt surreal. However, that was the moment I became hooked.
Hooked on growing the business.
The studio was sink or swim, and everyone wore multiple hats. As a young boot-strapped business, there weren’t many roles available, and the only way to secure a long-term future at the studio was to roll up my sleeves and lean into the gaps that needed filling. Taking notes, writing emails, and managing the studio’s production pipeline became my responsibility. The work was gruelling but essential.
I wrote contracts til midnight and answered emails on weekends. I was determined to do whatever it took to grow the company and create a full-time role for myself on the team. Deep down, my biggest aspiration was to become a designer. However, I relished the freedom and responsibility that Andrew (Founder) gave me within management and helping to build the business from the ground up was immensely gratifying.
Like most young companies, our trajectory was extremely volatile. We developed an incredibly tight-knit and supportive team, with each member bringing their own unique set of skills to the table. These are the people I credit for our success as a studio and the culture we’ve created over the past five years. Keeping the business operating was incredibly challenging, and the work was fast-paced. We found camaraderie in each other's presence, respect for one another skills, and solidarity in our joint vision for the studio.
A year and a half into my journey, Andrew and I were having lunch. We sat on a pair of rickety chairs, my laptop balanced on a table. I walked him through the diagram I had drawn; it was my five-year vision for the studio.
I waved my hands animatedly, sharing my thoughts on the structure of the business. During that discussion, Andrew offered me the role of General Manager. From his perspective, I was the most suitable candidate for the role. I knew the ins and outs of operations and loved working on the business like it was my own.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised my vision for the studio was bigger than the vision I had for myself as a UI designer, so I accepted his offer and never looked back. Growing the studio would require a lot of energy, and it made sense for me to contribute in an area that would help propel us forward.
A few months down the line, Andrew asked me to be his business partner, offering me equity in the process.
It’s been three years since I started as an intern, and most days, it still feels like building a plane mid-flight. Since starting my career, I’ve helped to launch 50+ unique websites and been blessed by the opportunity to work alongside clients such as Wrestler, Radar Ventures, Adidas and World of WearableArt.
It’s been an incredibly transformative journey, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Yet, the reality is I almost quit the path to Managing Director 100+ times. Building a business can be incredibly isolating, requiring tremendous discipline and sheer determination. I’m so grateful that I never gave up. I invested a lot of my personal time into the studio, and admittedly, that wasn’t easy for the most important people in my life. I’m thankful for the incredible support network that believed in me and helped to uplift me during difficult times. The journey is far from over, and I’m excited for what the future holds. To me, growing the business is the ultimate design challenge.
My vision for the next three years is for Psychoactive Studios to become a household name within the Webflow market and build out our WebGL capabilities, resulting in a suite of more experimental projects. Through this work, I hope to create a playground for creatives and help champion our mission of pushing the boundaries of the web.
It’s important for me to acknowledge that even though I’ve worked incredibly hard to accomplish my goals, the educational opportunities I’ve been afforded in life have been instrumental to my overall success. This would not have been possible without my incredible support network of family, colleagues, friends, and mentors who have been present throughout my journey and helped to uplift me during the difficult times.