Coffee Break Chat: Entrepreneur and Graphic Designer Caslyn Fox
by Karen Rollins Apr 8, 2019
Caslyn Fox never wanted to be an entrepreneur but when she struggled to make a living as a freelance graphic designer, she was forced into starting her own business Kreative Inx as “an act of survival.”
Since its inception in 2013, Kreative Inx has grown into a reputable company offering a range of design services including custom t-shirt printing, business branding and signage. It also allows Caslyn to use the creative talent she believes she was born with.
Yello Antigua and Barbuda asked Caslyn to share her story. She told us about her childhood split between Antigua, St Croix and America; the challenges she faced starting her business and what she thinks makes Kreative Inx stand out from the crowd.
Describe yourself using three words.
Strong; determined; creative.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Antigua, migrated to St Croix at the age of six and lived there until 11 when a devastating storm left the island so badly damaged that I had to migrate to New York. I lived there until I returned to Antigua in 2010.
I attended a high school in NY called ‘Julia Richman’, where I majored in nursing and graduated with a Nurses Aid License by the age of 16. I’d auditioned for a prominent art school in NY, but at the time art-related careers were pretty much non-existent so I went with the practical choice of nursing.
I entered Lehman College in the Bronx as a pre-med major but soon found that I really had no passion for it.
I attended the advertising programme at Michigan State University for two years before returning to the Bronx to finish my BA in Art and Design.
How did you discover your talent for design?
I would venture to say that I was born a creative. I have memories of being very young in Antigua and my grandmother buying me drawing books and other art supplies from a store on Newgate Street.
As the years went by, I found I enjoyed creating things and watching people react to the finished product.
How / when did you launch your business Kreative Inx?
Kreative Inx was launched because I couldn’t find a steady job in Antigua, so I had to create a job for myself. In September 2013, after buying a t-shirt printing machine, I designed a few t-shirts and created social media pages to get the word out.
My first big order was making 12 t-shirts for a baby shower. I was so grateful for that job because everything took off after that project and my business gained popularity.
What services does Kreative Inx offer?
Kreative Inx offers various graphic design services such as logos, business cards, flyer designs etc. As well as custom t-shirt printing, business branding, custom vinyl decal printing for signs or cars and interior walls etc.
I have also recently started to decorate glasses, tumblers, and trays. I can pretty much customise anything, and I introduce new services frequently.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
No! Becoming an entrepreneur was more an act of survival.
Being a graphic designer, it never even crossed my mind to start my own business. I’ve always worked for companies, or freelanced, and my craft was really just something I did on the side.
When I arrived in Antigua, I went to work for someone who was basically exploiting my talents and did not want to pay me what I was worth, or even on time, which was difficult when you’ve just arrived in a country. Although I was born here, I didn’t grow up here, and being on your own as an adult wasn’t easy.
After leaving that job, I ended up working for another graphic agency as an independent contractor which started out great. I got to do what I loved, learned new skills and got paid nicely. However, after a few months the jobs/hours became few and far between, and I realised I was spending way more money on transportation every week than I was getting paid.
I knew had to do something, but what? Antigua is a country where most jobs are either hospitality related (of which I had no experience) or are heavily plagued by nepotism (it’s not what you know but who) and since I didn’t know anyone, I found myself in yet another pickle. During this time, I was still doing projects for clients in the U.S. to stay financially afloat.
In 2013 I was on vacation in the U.S. and created a logo for a young lady who was opening an eyelash bar. I sent her the logo just hours before I arrived at her shop and when I got there she’d already had it printed onto a t-shirt. I was blown away!
I thought, how did she do that? Because at the time screen-printing was the only t-shirt printing method I’d heard of.
She was nice enough to give me the contact details of the designer who printed the shirt. I went to see him, and he introduced me to the wonderful world of vinyl and custom t-shirt printing. I bought a machine a few days later and returned to Antigua with it.
What is your typical working day like?
There is no typical working day. Some days are so busy there is no time to eat. Other days things are so slow you can binge watch shows on Netflix. Some days start out pretty slow but then you end up staying extra late to finish projects.
You just never know what kind of day it will be when you wake up in the morning.
Who are your clients? How do they find you?
My clients range from high school students wanting custom shirts for birthdays and sport days to brides needing invitations designed. New businesses that require branding or older businesses needing their brands refreshed, to moms wanting birthday shirts for their children, or the bereaved wanting to memorialise lost loved ones.
My clients find me via social media where I am quite prominent, and I get a good chunk of new business via word of mouth from other satisfied clients.
What makes Kreative Inx different to other businesses offering similar services?
I go above and beyond to make my customers happy.
My customers and their needs come first and I will go out of my way to accommodate them. If they have an emergency, I will come in on a day off, or holiday, or stay late if I am able.
I’m also not stagnant. I introduce new services and fresh ideas very often.
What are some of the challenges you faced starting your own business?
Having to do everything on my own. I didn’t take a loan out or anything. Everything came out of my pocket and I built my business very slowly, juggling between financing my business and personal life.
How did you overcome these challenges?
By never limiting myself to being just a graphic designer. I’m also a bartender for around three different companies and still do freelance work for other businesses as needed.
What are your plans for the business over the next five years?
I plan to expand into offering more and more creative services to the island. Investing in different pieces of equipment etc.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
The freedom it gives me to create my own schedule and sometimes skip work to hit the beach on a whim :-)!
What do you love about Antigua and Barbuda?
Besides it being the land of my birth?! I would say the beautiful scenery. I feel much closer to my Creator here; everywhere you turn you see beauty and something to be thankful for.
What do you do on your days off?
On any given day off, you’ll find me at one of our many beaches, either alone or with kindred beach spirits.
What advice do you have for other budding entrepreneurs?
Do you and do not give up! Don’t become stagnant, keep learning new skills and improving the old ones.
Is there anything you’d have done differently when you launched the business, knowing what you know now?
No, I think everything turned out as it should.
What is your philosophy / motto in life?
Live each day as if it were your last, one of these days it will be!