Juno, a design studio led by two Northeastern alumni, is making its mark on the Boston design scene. Founded earlier this year by Molly O’Neill AMD’18, and Brennan Caruthers DMSB’18, the firm now has a diverse client base and a growing portfolio of projects, including strategic branding, print and packaging design, web design, publication design, and more. It was recently named one of Boston’s “Most Recommended Graphic Designers” on the 2018 Boston Founders’ Short List – and is earning a name for itself in Boston’s competitive design landscape.
Juno’s collaborative approach to design and ability to successfully tackle a diverse array of projects are just a few of the factors that set the studio apart. It is also multidisciplinary by nature, combining design and business strategy. With Brennan’s business and entrepreneurship background, he focuses most of his time on business strategy and development, while Molly leads the design direction. They bring their unique skillsets together to collaborate on projects, and offer clients a holistic, strategic approach to design.
“We are able to help clients with both visual design and the strategy behind it,” Molly explained.
Molly and Brennan had worked together as undergraduate students on Scout, Northeastern’s student-led design firm. With Molly’s goal to start her own design firm and Brennan’s desire to lead a business, coming together to found Juno right out of college was a natural next step. While being young business owners comes with its challenges, Molly and Brennan actually attribute a portion of their success to this timing.
“Being fresh out of college, we are up-to-date on the newest and latest design tools and trends – and we are well-equipped to stay on the forefront of new industry technology and best practices,” Brennan added.
In addition to this up-to-date know-how, Juno’s size makes it very nimble and flexible, able to adjust schedules and accommodate whatever is most comfortable and convenient for their clients.
This type of collaboration with clients is nothing new to Molly and Brennan, who both have experience doing so from their time working on Scout, which was an experience that offered them exposure to what running their own firm may be like. CAMD design classes were also helpful, where they learned about the importance of teamwork and how to talk professionally about their work. And of course, their co-op experiences set them up for success, with Molly having worked as an in-house graphic designer for Boston Public Market, an organization she still continues to freelance for, and Brennan having served as an Associate Co-op at a strategy consulting firm.
“There is a fair amount of overlap between what that firm did and what design studios do,” Brennan explained. “Strategy is such a huge part of what everyone is doing. My co-op experience was in the private equity space, but a lot of what I learned is transferrable to running a design studio.”
This exposure and experience is proving very useful, but as they are learning the ins and outs of running their own business, there are plenty of questions that crop up along the way. Luckily, Molly and Brennan are finding themselves completely surrounded by supportive Northeastern faculty members and design alumni to help navigate the industry.
“We have been leaning on people at Northeastern quite a bit, and picking their brains and getting advice whenever possible,” they said. “Our Northeastern network has been such an incredible resource.”
Northeastern connections, like the ones Juno is exploring, are deeply embedded in the design industry.
CAMD faculty member Margarita Barrios Ponce, who Molly and Brennan have stayed in touch with, is the Owner and President of Plural: Brand Strategy and Design,while the managing partner at Ronik Design is a Northeastern alumnus (where CAMD also sends co-ops). Many other Northeastern alumni have started their own businesses – so Molly and Brennan, as Northeastern alumni, are truly in good company.
“We have found that our colleagues are more than happy to share what they’ve learned,” said Molly and Brennan. “People have been willing to share documentation, and even give advice on rates and other sensitive topics. It’s been really heartwarming.”
They have plans to pay these Northeastern connections forward; right now, they are considering the possibility of eventually working with a co-op student as their firm continues to grow. This continued growth is one thing that Juno Design founders are looking forward to over the next year and beyond. They recently secured an office on Newbury Street, joining other creatives in a community-focused co-working space.
“We are so excited to have a designated office to work from every day, and to be a part of a community,” said Molly. “This will be important as we look to potentially grow our team.”
Right now, Molly and Brennan have been working with contractors as another resource and learning tool on some projects, but depending on what types of projects continue to stream in, will likely need other full-time hands on-deck.
It has been an exciting and productive few months for Juno, and when asked what starting their own business has been like, Molly and Brennan kept it simple: “It’s challenging and it’s exciting,” they said. “Some days, it can be a roller coaster of emotions – from panic to sheer excitement! But even on the tough days, with late nights and long hours, it is totally worth it.”
We look forward to seeing how the future unfolds for our two alumni (and friends) over at Juno. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on their latest work!