Russ Perry is the founder and CEO of Design Pickle, a flat-rate graphic design and creative services company. Pulling inspiration from the idea that everyone should have access to seamless graphic design — a problem he often faced at his creative agency — and his love of pickles, Perry set out to build the pickle-themed company with zero outside funding in 2015. Under his leadership, Design Pickle has grown its creative team from 2 to over 600 team members globally, completing over 900,000 creative requests since its inception. Perry resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Mika, and their 3 daughters.
What is your business and what do you do?
Design Pickle is a flat-rate graphic design and creative services company. Essentially, we help businesses fulfill their design needs in a streamlined, reliable way. No matter how many requests, revisions, or projects a company has per month, they pay the same fee. With that, businesses are guaranteed no interruptions to their creative workflows — if their designated designer is on vacation, they automatically have another designer at their disposal. We understand that creativity is a sensitive area for many companies, so we strive to ensure the experience is a positive, collaborative one that helps the business scale — no matter what industry or how large their marketing team is.
What sparked your vision to launch your business?
Like many business owners, I created Design Pickle out of my own need. As a creative consultant, I was having a tough time finding professional and consistent graphic designers; my clients had the same issue. I started thinking about what it would be like to have software that could automate the design workflow. Unbeknownst to my clients, I tested out a business model on them — and I realized that was the whole point. It should be completely seamless and easy to get your graphic needs met. Throw in my love for pickled foods and designpickle.com being available, and well, we launched as a subscription service in January of 2015.
What has been your favorite failure and what did you learn?
In college, I auditioned for musical theater — which, at the time, was something completely out of my comfort zone. I was not at all involved in anything like that prior, so instead of a show tune, I sang What I Got by Sublime. It ended up coming down to me and one other person for the lead. The role ended up going to the other person, but it was such a cool experience. It helped me get over the anxiety that comes with being in front of an audience, and I definitely learned how to be more comfortable with putting myself out there.
What was your most memorable day of your career and why?
It actually happened recently here at Design Pickle. Our creative team is based around the world, and as you may have seen in the news, a typhoon hit the Philippines pretty hard this November. The way our team came together — around the world and no matter the position — was truly memorable. We had team members in Customer Success make sure the customer experience was uninterrupted. We had Operations team members ensuring our creatives in the Philippines had the support and resources they needed to weather the storm. We communicated across the globe with ease, and I couldn’t be prouder of how much the team has grown to be able to manage a disaster like this in such a strong, professional way.
How do you continue to learn so you stay ahead in your industry?
I read a ton. I tend to seek out books written by people that have disrupted their respective industry, like Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings. His book, No Rules Rules, is fantastic. Brands like Peloton and Fiverr also provide continual inspiration, even if they exist outside our specific niche. They are constantly evolving and creating exceptional brand experiences, so I look to them for ways we can continue to improve our platform and stay ahead of the curve.
How do you manage stress from running a successful business?
It’s really nothing revolutionary, but I do two things: meditate and time block. Meditation is an obvious one; it allows me to take a beat between meetings, reset my brain, and feel refreshed in order to create more. Time blocking is something I’m meticulous about. I block things down to the minute, even in my personal life. I find this helps maintain the work-life balance so many entrepreneurs strive for — if I have pizza night with my 3 daughters blocked out on a Friday night, I know I have to leave the office by 5 to get there on time, and it forces me to step away.
What is some bad advice you hear in your industry or with entrepreneurship that people should avoid?
To be completely frank: most advice is “bad” advice in regard to entrepreneurship. Everyone’s experience is unique, so following someone else’s exact blueprint will not necessarily yield the same results. I think a lot of people have unrealistic expectations about this due to how others tell their stories. My advice to combat this is take what’s out there (we all know there is plenty of it) and make it your own. Make it applicable to what you’re creating and building. That becomes significantly more meaningful (and helpful) in the long run.
Where can readers find you on social media?
I’m not on social media, but you can check out my newsletter at designpickle.com/under. Each month, I share long-form stories about the Design Pickle journey and life as an entrepreneur. And, of course, you can check Design Pickle out on social — we’re @designpickle across platforms.