Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
My Name is Kenneth Wilfong, a.k.a., Wil. I am the owner of Mountain Laurel Studio, a graphic design studio with a focus on identity, print and sign graphics.
I grew up in Waynesboro and after high school attended the School of The Arts at VCU. I majored in Typography and Exhibition Design. After design school, I was a member of several independent and corporate creative firms in the Richmond Metro area.
What inspired you to open your business?
I started my own business to be in control of my time and creative processes. As a designer, the time I give toward a project is what I am selling. I wanted to be able to control my time while giving value to the projects I work on. I opened my business for the freedom to create an environment that I could feel at home in, an environment that had organic boundaries to allow creative/critical thinking. With that said, you still have to remain disciplined with budgets and time management. A sense of urgency is key, too, but I wanted the key to the door.
Why did you choose Waynesboro?
Being from Waynesboro, choosing to open my business here was a default decision. But I welcomed the familiarity of moving back. One of the things I love about Waynesboro is its location near national parks and waterways. There are endless streams, rivers, and lakes to get your line wet in. Aside from the natural environment, in doing my research about the design and sign industry in this area, I felt that there was a void in firms that offered creative value.
What was your biggest challenge getting started?
As a green business owner I wanted to work nonstop on projects. Push them. Experiment. It took me a few years to find a balance between work and family.
What do you wish you had known before you started your business?
One thing that I wish I would have spent more time thinking about while developing my business was renting my space versus owning. After spending years paying rent you realize that all that cash could have been invested in a property. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time weighing the options and looking at specific properties to own versus leasing space.
What has been your biggest reward?
Knowing that clients trust me to develop the variety of projects they bring in the shop has been very rewarding. Whether its a brand identity or simple sign, giving my experience to create it has been rewarding.