Hi, I am Kanchi Mehta, founder of Blcksp_ce Studio, and a creative nerd for life. By this I mean, I am a constant sucker for good design, creativity and problems that I can solve. I founded this studio to promote good design amongst small-medium businesses who struggle to tell their story, creatively.
FALSE! I started this studio because after 7 interviews, most design studios in my city could not afford to hire me. Not their fault, neither do I take pride in it. Yes, the intent got clearer and I did want to promote good design but basing my entire story on that would be wrong. Not being able to find a suitable job is what led to Blcksp_ce Studio.
Here’s my success-struggle story!
I graduated from Ecole Intuit.Lab, Mumbai, a french college of Graphic design and visual communication. Here, I explored every bit and piece of graphic design. Initially, I wanted to become an illustrator as my drawing skills were decent enough to earn monies. After being introduced to Branding and visual merchandising, I wanted to get into luxury branding. I wasn’t sure if that’s even a thing. But then I soon realised, it wasn’t my thing. It restricted me. I was answerable to the audience and I was not okay with that. I mean it’s a nice logo, what is so difficult to understand? Such were my arguments. Most of the times, I was humiliated, questioned or judged for not having a solid answer. My take away from those lectures— always have a reason behind every line you draw for the audience. Justify, justify and justify! It’s not art. Design can never be art. But thats another topic for another day.
Soon after, for my last year internship, I chose advertising. I grew up seeing my mother in Marketing and Sales and confused that with Advertising. But that was one hell of an experience. After rejecting an offer from HBO (didn’t like my senior who interviewed me), I joined Havas Worldwide as a design intern. To summarise my 5 month internship— I learned what office politics can look like and how to be careful. I learned to take ownership and get the job done (thanks to my dean who always asked us to figure a way out to get our things done). I learned that you have to make some decisions and never stop exploring. I had the chance to learn copywriting when I didn’t have much work in office, build long lasting friendships and connections that still remember me for my work.
It was this experience that made me realise that things would have been much different had I left when majority of the people left the company. I wouldn’t have learned any of it had I not stayed back. For my graduation project, I chose a 360 degree campaign for a hypothetical bar based on Dexter, the serial killer. It involved everything— branding, advertising, copywriting, packaging, app design, marketing, and lastly, strategy.
After a year of working with agencies and studios who either copied work or didn’t help me grow, I joined my mentor, Radhika Chopra. Not only did she teach us in college but also helped me through my graduation project. I worked with her and gained experience in print design, strategy, writing, and exploring a side of me that found comfort in aesthetics, history and minimal design. I knew I wanted to become like her. Deep down, I just wanted to clone her brain and fit it in mine. I realised the experiences she brought to the table is what reflected in her designs. After two years
of working under her, due to health issues, I decided to leave. I suppose, I was getting too comfortable. I was in a cocoon where I felt secure. While I was evolving, I was also reaching my saturation point. I needed more.
Soon after, I found myself in an agency called 3 Minds Digital. I joined them as a graphic designer and switched to content writing within a month. I didn’t leave design, but I liked writing better. After becoming the project manager, I was also creating content, planning, scheduling for a social media client— ShortsTV India. I enjoyed that process of strategising, planning a launch, engaging with the audience, etc. I thought social media was my thing. Still unsure of my designation, I was pretty much building a team for content writing as we got more projects. In 9 months, I transformed from a Graphic Designer to a Content Strategist and then a Brand Manager.
I had the most supportive team I was working with. They were keen learners, researchers and loved the way their brain was put to use. Having switched so many places and designations, I had lost myself. I was only aware of what was happening on the design side, but left clueless when it came to actually knowing the trends. I missed designing in the process of strategising.
I never intended to leave that job. It was comforting, challenging, and I loved the people I was surrounded with in that office, not a fan of the management though. But I had too. I voiced my opinion. I raised the questions that made people uncomfortable in their pants after my mental health was questioned by one of the co-founders. I started revolting, subtly but evidently when the HR would interfere in a discussion that had nothing to with her. In fact, I asked for my overtime dues when they questioned my 4 days leave and when I couldn’t clock-in 9 hours on particular days. While fighting depression and anxiety, constantly struggling to keep things at calm between personal and professional life, putting in more hours so that the work is never affected, when the management raised fingers at my integrity and accused me of spreading negative vibes, I knew I was done with the place. While I was in dire need of a job, the monetary support it gave me, I knew my self respect was worth much more than that.
I have always believed in one thing— make space for new things to come your way. And that’s what I did, I made space. I served my notice period, left the job with no other job in hand. I had no direction of what I wanted to do next and what I would do if I don’t get through any interviews. I felt unstable, like on a shaky ground, with no beams to support. One day before my last day at work, 27th June, 2019, I sat down with my parents and discussed a plan. I told them that I was keen on starting my own studio and stick to this plan because now only seems to be the right time. With a financial crunch, I was ready to take on a new challenge and pursue my dream of being my own boss and continue being the support I have been to my family.
They only encouraged me and helped me plan my road map even better. We thought of multiple names for the studio— CMYK, Blckspce, Abstract, and what not! This was confusing, new and exciting! It felt refreshing! Even my therapist was happy to see me be so excited about something in months! And finally on 29th June, I let Blcksp_ce Studio come into existence. A studio that believes in nothing but good design. A design that is a solution to the problem and not just art. It believes in
function over form, quality over quantity and process over outcome. A story of evolution was finally designed on paper.
Two major things that have stayed with me and would recommend: Be self sufficient. It is important to get decent experience in your field, explore and learn and don’t stop doing what you feel like doing. Be it a design or a plan, explore as much as you can. Refer, read and apply. You will not only learn to develop your skills but also learn to work with a team, meet different people who will teach you something. These experiences will teach you to be self sufficient. Climb up from the bottom most rung of the ladder and gather those ideas, experiences, document it if you are forgetful. When you start your own business, all these things will only help you become a better leader, not just a boss.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you suck. I believe that when you fail to teach someone something, it’s not them who suck, but you do too. While my last job gave me opportunities to grow, my bosses failed to see the progress and questioned my integrity and made me the Voldemort of the company. Don’t live under the fear of losing a job, not at the cost of your self respect. They need you as much as you need them. Always remember that we live in a co-dependent world.
I would like to introduce myself, again. Hi, I am Kanchi Mehta, founder of Blcksp_ce Studio and a creative nerd for life. By this I mean, I am a constant sucker for good design, creativity and problems that I can solve. I founded this studio to promote good design amongst small-medium businesses who struggle to tell their story, creatively. I am still growing, learning and exploring. Hope you do, too.