Successful Graphic Design Agencies Owned By Women ‘Not’ Men

By Aamina Suleman , Aug 15 2016

Feature Image Source: Freepik

Women aren’t worth a penny! Is this what you’ve been hearing all your life? Well, that’s not true if the haters wish to know. These mentally strong and emotionally anchored individuals are exceptional at whatever they do.

The notion that the graphic design industry is male dominated is in fact a bitter truth, although women are as compatible and capable as men. Despite the discrimination and barriers, some females possess the valour to bash stereotypes and criticisms stirring against them and rise to fame.

Yes, I’m here to talk about the women who broke through the prism of negativity and have become a gleaming star in a man’s world (so to say).


And before I get to the crux of things, I’d like to mention that when I say graphic design – I am including firms that specialize in branding, advertising and marketing. This may include web design.

Let’s begin. Tell me if these women motivate you to chase your dream.

Blok Owned By Vanessa Eckstein & Marta Cutler

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From the geographically vivid landscape of Argentina, Eckstein abode the vibrant Canadian city, Toronto. After practicing design in Mexico for eight years, Eckstein founded her graphic design agency in 1998, which has now become not only a lucrative source of income for her but a channel to disseminate creative ideas and creations.

Her partner, who joined Eckstein in 2011, Marta Cutler is undoubtedly a design addict. Her role in the partnership revolves around brand identity development for clients from diverse industries.

Blok is a design platform with over 80 notable clients including Nike, Pepsi, Ogilvy & Mather, Toyota, and Canadian Paralympics. It has exhibited distinguishing aesthetic sense that has won the agency several noteworthy accolades.

Also Explore: 24 Brilliant Female Graphic Designers Who Rock On Tumblr

Studio Proba Owned By Alexandra Proba

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An inspiring German woman, Proba is a multidisciplinary designer with expertise in art, illustration, graphics and furniture design. Prior to founding Studio Proba, she worked diligently as an art and design director, lead senior designer and product designer at different agencies.

Her Poster A Day campaign is display of her design aesthetics on a vertical canvas. Each poster resonates a sound minimal conceptualization of an effort to discover herself by portraying unusual visual juxtapositions. In her interview with Co.Design, with reference to this creative journey, she said “I found my own identity in it”

As a startup owner, her work received recognition from famous publications including NYTimes, Print Magazine, It’s Nice That, Dezeen, Design Milk, Mashable, Design Taxi and several others.

Clean Design Owned By Natalie Perkins

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The American Advertising Federation Triangle Chapter presented Perkins with Silver Medal Award in 2016, the highest honor at Triangle AdFed given to individuals with exceptional careers and contribution to the creative design community.

Perkins is the leader and CEO at Clean Design, an award winning design and branding firm ranked constantly at #1 position in the Triangle for six years.

With a bachelor in marketing, Perkins constructed new self-enhancing talents including brand identity, graphic design and interactive advertising. At the start of her career, she worked at Wrangler jeans where her fascination with consumer behavior and brands soared. This allure lead her to run one of North Carolina’s accredited agencies.

Willoughby Design Owned By Ann Willoughby

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Willoughby, from Kansas City, is a communication design mentor for national and international graphic designers. But success didn’t come to her the easy way, it never does for anyone. In 1972, after her graduation, she connected with Milton Glaser and shared her vibes to quit this field. However, Glaser advised her not to, and this near breaking-point was enough to persuade her to accelerate her career.

Six years later she founded Willoughby Design, an agency with a diverse and effervescent portfolio, with a belief that “great design is timeless. It illuminates life and satisfies the human soul.”

To the boys, who say it’s not a girl’s thing – Willoughby was fond of the idea of constructing thing. This initial attraction ‘to build’ made her a woman who now creates identities for well-known brands that “connect with her (and him)”.

Also Explore: Mom Graphic Designers Who Know About Work/Life Balance

Oblique Design Owned By Janice Ferrante

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For some people, women especially, the expedition to prove themselves isn’t easy. Along the way, their skills are extracted and scars are exerted, yet they survive and get the opportunity to celebrate victory. Remember this is true for all female designers willing to convert their creative cravings into a triumphant business.

Ferrante from New Jersey, is a woman unlike the typical descriptions of this gender. She’s a self-motivated individual who is not afraid to take risks and who loves to explore, learn and observe. A key quality design entrepreneurs should have despite their gender.

After the millennium struck she founded Oblique, portraying an internationally acclaimed daring visuals communication designs. It is a design company that serves clients from diverse fields such as technology, healthcare, and education among others.

Also Explore: Truly Inspiring Quotes From Female Designers

Marquis Design Owned By Julie Vail

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The world of design cannot outcast a certain gender simply because some people assume that only men can create. Women are equally courageous and imaginative as men. And it doesn’t matter who makes a design, what matters most is that ‘how’ that design was made and what it finally became.

Vail is among those extra-ordinary women who strive to make not only prove that they’ve got entrepreneurial quality and an aesthetic sense to design stories for brands, but she is a woman who wants to provide quality to clients.

She founded marquis in 2003, with an ambition to use her project management and brand development skills to cultivate meaningful identities. She’s a recognized professional individual who has received awards from AIGA and Print Magazine. Moreover she is a member of an organization, The Boston Club, which is a hub of female executives.

Carin Goldberg Design Owned By Carin Goldberg

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Graphic design started from print and moved onto digital canvases. Despite the fact that many people doubt the power and impact of print design in this modern world, print is captivating because not only can you see it, you can feel it.

Carin Goldberg founded her design firm in 1982, and over the decades has fashioned several book jackets for major publishing houses in America including Harper Collins, Alfred A. Knopf and Simon & Schuster. In addition to this, she has designed album covers for prominent artists such as Madonna, Susan Sontag and Kurt Vonnegut.

The scope of her design expertise grew over the years into brand identity design and consultation. In an interview with The Book Designers, she shines light on her life and career. It wasn’t an easy journey to study printing and start off working for eccentric man. But she found her way when she began working at CBS Television Network.

So struggles come and go. We should never be afraid of them. If we’re passionate and enthusiastic about our ambitions then no noise can shudder our forward footsteps.

Women Empowerment Is Not A Myth!

A recent #StartUpChats on Twitter by Startup_Canada and Moxie Trades generated a discussion on Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship. It irradiated issues that constrain females to rise to the top, and aimed to garner solutions to help them capitalize their passion and talent. I participated in it and found it undoubtedly engaging and informative.

Ahead of pausing my journey to discover empowering women in the graphic design world – let me tell you, success is a tricky word. Most people link it to the trickling of money in their bank accounts. This is not entirely true. Success is also defined by the path you take, the struggles you overcome, and the confidence you gain in yourself. So the next time someone taunts you for not being a “successful” woman, give ‘em the look!

Do you know of more graphic design agencies owned by women?

Share them with us.

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A marketing design enthusiast, super passionate about the evolving scope of visual communication. With 3+ years of experience in content marketing, Aamina is driven by insights, inspirations, trends and creativity. She loves to travel, eat khowsuey, sip coffee, and watch mysteries.