“Achieving client happiness is the goal. ” - Caliph Rasul
Having to do it all can be a struggle for every entrepreneur. Caliph Rasul has been working as a freelance graphic designer for seven years, acting as a one-man show for both mom-and-pop businesses as well as larger corporate clients. He takes on a vast array of work—past projects include designing book covers for a few authors, developing branding for a local film festival, and building a website for Men of Value, a Christian men’s magazine. Caliph’s eclecticism is both his greatest asset and greatest frustration. “Having to maintain [such] a high degree of creativity—your brain takes a hit,” he says.
Yet helping clients achieve happiness through design is Caliph’s passion. “Each client has a different version of what success looks like to him or her,” he explains. “My success is based on clients achieving the end results they want.” It takes a certain resiliency to withstand the demands clients place on designers, especially when several parties are involved in the creative process, from marketing directors to communications staff to end users. But this is more challenging still for the freelancers who lack the budgets and staffing of larger firms.
For Caliph, freelancing wasn’t optional but a necessity. He entered a tough job market when he graduated with his design degree back in 2007; getting passed up for several positions led him to strike out on his own. Things started slowly, with him taking on mostly “micro-jobs” for friends—a logo here, a t-shirt there—charging next to nothing for his services. The occasional contracts with larger corporate clients, like Procter & Gamble, helped his business stay afloat. But subsisting on nickel-and-dime jobs was placing strain on the household budget; Caliph lives as a single father with his three children on the South Side.
He came to Sunshine Enterprises and went through the program, graduating in spring 2014. More than anything, he describes the training as providing clarity on how to operate more effectively. His plan over the next year is to take on the right mix of business, relying more heavily on a few corporate accounts to help with cash flow while continuing to work with a handful of smaller outfits. He also wants to increase capacity by adding a few part-time staff to spread around the creative burden.