In a world of trends that come and go, Studio AMIE remains firmly, intentionally dedicated to timelessness, simplicity and elegance. Founded in 2017 by Victoria McAbee, the branding and design agency focuses on the art of storytelling — the beauty of building specific narratives and worlds for different partners. With this emphasis in mind, we asked Victoria about her career path, advice for young founders and where she hopes to take AMIE in the future with Breef.
Q: What or who inspired you to enter the branding + design space?
VM: I've always had a love for creating business concepts and art, so when I discovered the terms "branding" and "brand identity," I knew that that was the career path I'd been looking for. Building brand identities allows me to constantly evolve, work in challenging environments, and learn new techniques and art forms every day. I love being able to immerse myself in new, unique projects without ever feeling boxed into one style or persona.
Q: Tell us about the early days of AMIE — what were some early struggles and highlights?
VM: I dropped out of design school to open my agency, and in tandem, I quit my job with only $2,000 in my checking account (no savings). My main struggle at the time was imposter syndrome! Luckily, I kept moving forward despite my fears and insecurities (which included money), the biggest highlight was proving to myself that I did have what it takes to build a successful design studio.
Q: AMIE is uniquely focused on "the art of storytelling." Tell us about the development of this perspective and how it sets the studio apart.
VM: When we craft and develop brands at AMIE, we're building an experience that allows the consumer to fully immerse themselves into that world or creation. So, the tagline "The Art of Storytelling" simply means that we're here to share something deeper than what meets the eye. We're fully dedicated to creative excellence, and while that may be subjective, we will never create art that doesn't feel robust and impactful in some shape or form.
Q: What does AMIE look for in brands / prospective clients? Do you have any dream clients?
VM: We heavily gravitate towards clients who are excited to explore co-creation when it comes to their visual identities and beyond. We're artists, not mind readers, so the collaboration aspect is imperative; we value the opportunity to see inside the minds of our clients. We want to understand an overview or baseline idea and expand it to new heights – not just play it safe or produce what the client has predetermined that they want / need. At this phase, our dream clients are e-commerce and brick-and-mortar brands (think hotels, restaurant/bar concepts, etc.). Building an e-commerce line is so intricate because there are so many touch points to consider, especially when it comes to the customer journey. For brick-and-mortar, it's exciting to collaborate with interior designers and others who are helping bring a space to life.
Q: What's a project you're most proud of, and why?
VM: I will always hold a special place in my heart for our partnership with Gracious Minds. We've played an integral role in the brand from pre-launch to present over the last 2 years. Being able to help ideate the brand concept, bring it to life and then consult as the brand grows and expands is so special. Typically, we see the most rapid success when the client is dedicated to an ongoing partnership. And as a perk, Gracious Minds has amazing products, and the founder Kat is such a stellar human being. We've never steered her wrong, and in turn, she's a happy client because her brand is ever-growing.
Q: What's one thing you wish you'd known when first starting AMIE?
VM: Network! Stop waiting for clients to come to you organically, especially in the early days. Don't be afraid to create passion projects that demonstrate your quality of work and value as a creator. There's no shame in building a fictional portfolio before you have real clients. If I had done that, I'd probably be even further along than I am today.
Q: Why Breef?
VM: Breef is filling a white space in the market, and we're so grateful to be a part of the community and to see new opportunities coming our way each month. Discoverability is a huge part of marketing, so it's really special that Breef is on a mission to build that for both brands and agencies.
Q: Who's your brand crush (a brand whose marketing / social you love)?
VM: I loveeee Emi Jay!
Q: Your design aesthetic in three words?
VM: Timeless, premium and transitional.
Q: Favorite social platform?
Q: Favorite design tool?
VM: Adobe Illustrator always and forever!
Q: The future of marketing is...
VM: Customer and community-focused rather than influencer-focused.