Mary Holste is an adventurer and she takes her clients’ stories to the next step on their journey to reach wider audiences. Her graphic design career began at Pacific Lutheran University, and continued at the Grand Cinema where she worked as Marketing Director. After a few years she launched her own company – Mary Holste Designs. Operating from a home office and coffee shops, she kept her business small, focusing on local organizations while offering an array of services including naming and branding, comprehensive marketing plans and social media campaigns.
Over the years, she worked beside her partner Erik Hanberg who has written not just one but three books for nonprofits. Erik’s long career in nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and business management gives him first-hand experience when leading branding and strategic processes for clients. Always community oriented, he’s served on many local boards including First Night Tacoma. He was elected Metro Parks Tacoma Commissioner in 2011. Hanberg’s intimate but knowledgeable writing style complements Holste’s vibrant imagery. They’ve collaborated on book launches, web design, and crafting content for their clients on a project-by-project basis.
In 2012 this now wife-and-husband team decided to work together full time, rebranding Mary Holste Design to Side x Side Creative, which reflects the close, mutually invested relationship they develop with their clients. With more capacity to tackle projects, Holste and Hanberg expanded their firm to cater to bigger organizations, and looked for clients beyond Tacoma. The business kept growing. But to step it up to a new level and expand their economic footprint in Tacoma and beyond they needed room to grow.
“We found we were reinventing the wheel on every project. We had to do something,” reflected Hanberg. Although both owners had extensive business experience they participated in Spaceworks Creative Enterprise Tier I training program. The program reinforced their existing knowledge and most importantly, provided a framework for further growth and development. In 2015 they were matched by Spaceworks with a space at Courthouse Square.
Working from a formal location breathed new life into the business. “Having a space where we can focus and meet clients has really helped a lot,” commented Hanberg. Spaceworks property connections gave these business owners the chance to try it out and after six months they independently signed a lease with the building’s landlord. This relationship went further as the company was hired to rebrand the building giving it the present name and logo.
In 2016 a new program provided Side x Side Creative with custom-tailored business coaching along with peer-to-peer support among Spaceworks alumni. Identifying their needs for sustainable growth, Spaceworks Creative Enterprise Tier III program has helped the company navigate through developing a clear and repeatable process for finding new clients and streamlining projects. “Our coach, Miriam, helped us systematize our business. To have that support is wonderful,” said Hanberg.
Outfitted with office space, expanded network, and custom-tailored coaching, this design company is drawing bigger clients to Tacoma. They’ve done work for clients like Legal Foundation of Washington and Saint Martin’s University and they offer valuable learning experiences to interns. “It’s rewarding to help organizations that do good work so that the rest of the community can experience it too,” says Holste. “We want Tacoma to be a strong city and we have a lot of resources to offer our clients, from small businesses to large non-profits.”
Photo by Patrick Hagerty
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