RGD Virtual Community for Firm Owners: New Beginnings, New Chapters and New Careers
RGD Firm Owners
Ian Chalmers RGD, Design Director and Principal at Pivot Design Group, shares notes from the latest Firm Owners virtual meet-up!


RGD Virtual Communities bring together Members working in similar areas and/or who face a particular set of challenges to share knowledge, discuss experiences, propose solutions and support each other. The RGD Firm Owners Community is comprised of Members who own a  communication design studio or agency with employees. Ian Chalmers RGD and Alison Garnett RGD lead this Community.



The past 3 years did not just change the way we work, but also the way we think about work. In the March meeting of the Firm Owners Virtual Community, our conversation focused on design transitions.    

It started with Alison Garnett RGD, Founder of Field Trip & Co. speaking about her transition through the challenging years of the pandemic to falling out of love with running a design business. She is excited to wind down her role and transition the business to the employees. Alison is also thinking about what her next career iteration should be.
Lionel Gadoury RGD, Principal at Context Creative, spent many years debating how best to evolve his business, business succession, achieving life-work balance and looking at merging the business with another firm. Recently, he found a suitable partner in the US: Modop, which has acquired Context CreativeModop has 10 offices in the US; Canada is their first international acquisition (Imagine that, we're international.) The new business relationship is a success and Lionel and his life partner will be transitioning out over time. Lionel is hoping eventually to go back to his roots and become a painter. Break a brush!
Marin Hudson Provisional RGD, Partner & Creative Director at Kitestring, commented: “Interesting to hear this perspective. We were set to close in February 2020, but then we offered the agency up to employees to take over (seemingly more as a joke that then turned into reality). My now business partner and I took the leap a couple of weeks pre-COVID. Still at it three years later!” 
Wendy Gray RGD, Creative Director at Gravity Inc., retired from the biz at the end of January 2023 selling the business to her staff. A win-win; no one is out of a job and clients are cared for. Wendy is available as needed. Wendy says she will miss the team more than the work! 
Jay Wall RGD's firm RallyRally merged with Briteweb a year and a half ago. Before the pandemic, Jay looked at different ways to transition his business. They collaborated with Briteweb on a project and it went really well — they said, why don’t we do this all the time? Briteweb is a west coast firm offering new opportunities. East meets West. 
With renewed energy about the business Peter Scott RGD is looking forward to keeping busy. As of December 2022, q30 and Pivot Design have been successfully sharing office space which has been reinvigorating and presents an exciting time for our teams and design businesses — especially in this hybrid work era. Coffee Time!
Robert Smith RGD, Chief Creative OfficerChief Creative Officer
Greenmelon inc., spoke about how the pandemic era was a time of self-discovery and creativity for him on many endeavours — teaching, coaching, mentoring, writing and publishing his second book (Stop Looking for Zebras). Robert is feeling optimistic about what the future holds for him and his business.
Stephen Boake RGD, a veteran design business owner, appreciated hearing the many ups and downs and perspectives while trying to come to terms with what’s next for his business.
Elana Rudick RGD, Creative Director, Graphic Designer at Design Is Yummy, spoke about post-pandemic burnout, running the business and raising a family. She’s been thinking about where to take the business next, what kind of work fuels her the most and asking many questions about the business’s future — 2023 seems to be a good time for reflection.
Gavin Barrett RGD [ गैविन बैरिट ] spoke of his firm’s ups and downs over the last three years. The pandemic was tough on all our businesses. Gavin is always looking at ways to evolve and energize his design offering.The community's newest Members from Tardigrada Design Studio are going to connect with Gavin for some sage advice. 
This meeting was quite cathartic, helpful, engaging and reassuring — we heard great stories of running and maintaining a business while discussing different perspectives. We can’t ignore the adverse effects the pandemic has had on our community and how we are individually impacted. For better or for worse, we are different because of it.
Thank you to all who opened up their firm owners’ lives to the benefit of the group. We are all the better for this experience. Designers helping designers, and firm owners helping firms owners is a theme of a community worth continuing.
We wish Alison and Lionel all the best with their transitions and hope we will see them again soon.

Get Involved

Virtual Communities are open to Certified RGDs, Provisional RGDs and Affiliate Members who meet the criteria for the specific group. To express your interest in this Program, identify preferences and/or volunteer to be a Community Leader, fill out this form. Details on becoming a leader of a new RGD Virtual Community here


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