Q+A: Frank Collective
A business as in love with DUMBO as we are, Frank Collective is a Branding and Content company in their sixth year, having grown from a startup with two employees in DUMBO to a bicoastal company that is still maintaining its blue collar work ethic and art school ideals. We sat down with founders Jiffy Iuen and Mike Wasilewski to get the scoop on this dynamic and dexterous collective.
Tell us about Frank Collective!
Jiffy: Well, we started out in DUMBO. We love Brooklyn, and that was always where we were going to start the company. We got our start in January of 2011. What we do is perform the same role as a smaller agency, combined with a production company combined with a strategic positioning company. So, we like to work with emerging brands from beginning to end, creating their branding as well as the different touch points of their branding. Whether that’s their advertising, their website, their app, their collateral. We really work across the board.
Mike: It all starts with the brand and how it’s positioned. We do all the different types of brand communication, whether that’s an explainer video, a website, or even a flyer for an email blast. We do it all, because all of that threads back into the core brand. All of that helps position new and emerging brands, or even brands that want to replatform or reposition themselves to reach a new audience.
You participated in the DUMBO acronym challenge; did the whole office participate?
Jiffy: Oh, yeah. As a collective, we are totally staff oriented versus working with a bunch of freelancers. We opened it up to the group. The designers, producers, and our administrative people. Everybody came up with ideas, and then we voted on which ones we liked best, and pushed those down the line.
What are the benefits of being a collective?
Jiffy: Well, you get a lot of different perspectives, and a lot of different answers to the same question. I think what we’ve created is essentially a familial business. If you’re a part of a family and you start dating someone, that person has to learn the entire organization, and they may or may not culturally dig that. Even though each person has a different role, a different personality, or a different background, the objectives are still the same. We’re a really nimble group, and we like to work efficiently and quickly. There’s not a lot of downtime, but it’s super duper teamoriented.
Mike: Everyone’s considered creative, no matter what role they play. Creativity is a part of everyone’s job description. Everyone can contribute to a project, whether it’s pushing pixels or writing copy or making a video. Whether that’s on a large scale project, or we decide to keep things as scrappy as possible, see how it all works, and make it fun.
You worked on the DUMBO Art's Festival, do you have any favorite outcomes from that?
Jiffy and Mike: The logo!
Mike: The logo was just something fun to do for the neighborhood. We love DUMBO, and that was one of our first projects in the early days. Our logo was an abstraction of the archway, turned on it’s side to make a D. It was just so great to create this really meta identity for DUMBO that was inspired from the neighborhood itself. And we were familiar with the Art Festival before we even became residents, so it was exciting to create that logo for the festival and to work on that for three or four years. The only problem is that the festival was so successful that it grew to be too big for the neighborhood. We’ll definitely miss it, because evolving that identity was one of our favorite projects.
Jiffy: It’s also just nice to be in the DUMBO community. We really mean it when we say we’re huge fans. DUMBO is so intrinsic to supporting the existing community and bringing everyone together, with all the different events that happen under the archway and around the neighborhood. Definitely more than any other neighborhood I’ve ever been a part of.
Do you have work relationships with other businesses in DUMBO?
Jiffy: We do, actually! We've worked a lot with Two Trees. We've done a lot of their collateral.
Mike: When you’re going down the highway, there’s actually a parking garage with signage that says “Welcome to DUMBO” for Two Trees. As the neighborhood is changing over and all those painted signs are kind of disappearing, that particular sign was in an effort to add those back into the visual vernacular.
Jiffy: We’re also big supporters of Brooklyn Roasting Company. We have really friendly relationships with companies like Breakfast, Huge, Big Spaceship. We have staff with family that works in this building and with other businesses in DUMBO. It’s definitely friendly. I wouldn’t even say competitive, although we’re all competing on similar projects. It’s a very communal and supportive environment.
You have Business Dogs! Tell me about them!
Jiffy: We do have business dogs! They are actually out on a sales tour right now. There’s two in L.A., Larry and Bruce. Then, in DUMBO, we have Lorenzo who, to be honest, we’re going to need to talk to about his performance. He’s been slacking off at home, but he’ll be in next week. We are creating a separate website for them, so that they can be profiled a little bit better.
What's the benefit of having dogs in the office?
Jiffy: Oh man, what's not the benefit? it just relaxes everybody, I think it gives a nice break in the day to have dogs in the office. In our office in L.A we have probably half as many dogs as we do people. As long as they're well-behaved, our employees can bring their dogs to work.
Michael: We have a guest dog coming next week, a pug named Rocky.
What does being in DUMBO offer your company?
Jiffy: A sense of community. At one point, we were looking outside of the neighborhood, because we were afraid that it was becoming a victim of its own success, in terms of pricing. We looked really long and hard at our own culture, and realized that our own company culture is so tied to Brooklyn and to DUMBO. We got our start here. We got a lot of our start through other startups who were coming into the area that needed our services. So, between the architecture and the park and the accessibility of getting in and out of DUMBO, we’re big fans. That and we just love the denizens that live here, you know? We feel like you’re able to say hi to strangers just because you see them all the time!
Mike: And when you see them outside the neighborhood, you’re like “WHOA!” I like it, because the creativity just feels so intrinsically woven through the entire neighborhood. All the public art and installations are so ingrained in every little Belgian block and piece of brick in these buildings.
Jiffy: It’s exciting to see different things pop up, like the Paparazzi Dog sculpture and all the different murals. You feel like you turn the corner, and the neighborhood is constantly evolving and changing even though it’s staying true to its roots.
Favorite place in DUMBO?
Mike: I'd be lying if I didn't say Brooklyn Roasting and 68 Jay. I don't stray too far from there.
Jiffy: I love the waterfront. A lot of times, we have summer Fridays, and just going out there to take in the waterfront and picnic is awesome. Our entire office helps support Brooklyn Roasting Company by going over there probably three times a day. Olympia Wine Bar is great, and 68 Jay is a staple.
Jiffy and Mike: And Superfine!