Betsy & Francis

We catch-up with Byron Bay design studio Betsy & Francis, co-founded by Nicole Coburn and James Knipe. These guys specialises in working with conscious small businesses and create some beautiful, organic work for their clients. Read on to hear about how Nicole's first job was to design grave stone plaques (eeeek!), how much they adore their clientele but hate admin, and how important it is to promote yourself and grow an online community!  

What’s the worst design job you’ve ever had and how does that make you a better designer?

My first junior graphic designer job was designing plaques that attached to tomestones, it was as depressing as it sounds. I managed a whole 10 months in that job before I had enough “design experience” to get another. They say creative people aren’t very good at spelling, well that was true for me. During my time there I realised that I can’t spell Daughter. Within my first month there were 3 plaques up in graveyards with my spelling mistakes. I’m a better designer now because I don’t send anything off to print without spell checking!

What are some of the best and worst parts of your job, day-to-day?

Best parts are without a doubt the creative work for our clients and the marketing of Betsy & Francis. Because we only specialise in working with conscious small businesses, our clients are the most caring, understanding and supportive humans, they are an absolute joy to work with. The worst part is juggling everything else, we spend a lot of our time on admin jobs and managing the less fun parts of running a biz. We have recently moved over to a CRM which has been a massive time saver and means we can spend more time doing the things that we love!

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

Betsy & Francis was founded by the two of us so we wanted something that would beautifully represent the story of us going into business together, something personal to us. We have both been blessed with middle names that we love, so from very early on it was clear that we wanted to incorporate these into the business name. Betsy is my middle name and Francis is James’ middle name. There was something quirky and fun about Betsy & Francis, we loved how completely unique it was and how much it meant to us and tell our story.

If you are looking to start your own business or go freelance, get your work out there across as many channels as possible, don’t just share your work, document your journey.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

We are lucky enough to live in Byron Bay, the community here is unlike anything we have ever seen. Having come from a city, we were blown away by the support of a small town. There are so many amazing small businesses and entrepreneurs in the area, it’s an energetic bubble of ideas, creations and connections. We always refer clients to one another and use each other’s services, it’s been invaluable to our business’s growth.

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

At the moment it’s just James and I in the business. James is an amazing digital designer, he designs the websites, helps create the brands and manages all the beautiful social content we put out into the world. I handle all the communication between the clients, project manage, help create the brands and illustrate. We are hoping to expand our team soon so that we can expand our offerings and help more conscious businesses.


What advice would you give students graduating in 2020?

If you are looking to start your own business or go freelance, get your work out there across as many channels as possible, don’t just share your work, document your journey. Utilise instagram to grow your brand awareness and build a loyal following and client base. Having just a website is not enough anymore, you need to grow an online community and stand for something you believe in.

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