Wild. Canyon. Creative.
Central High School graduate Sarah Phillips was intentional as she welded those words together.
“I named my business ‘creative’ instead of ‘design’ or ‘branding’ or something like that purposefully so I can encompass all creative aspects,” she said. “I can do anything when it comes to design, photography, social media and advertising.”
That mentality and a little hometown inspiration is what it took for Phillips to start her own Colorado-based business.
Phillips, then Sarah Diede, graduated from Central in 2008. Eventually, she’d weave a path toward studying graphic design. The goal wasn’t business ownership though.
“Honestly, I thought I’d just work for an agency and work my way up the ladder. It wasn’t until probably just a year ago that I realized that I can do this, that I could start my own business rather than work for someone,” she said. “I already had clients (from freelancing) so I built my website … and just kind of went for it.”
While she makes it sound easy, Phillips candidly describes herself as a shyer-than-most introvert. But sometimes a person has to just go for it, make changes and take risks, she said.
“I had to tell myself I could do it, that I can do anything. I hold back a lot, but not with this,” she said.
During college, Phillips worked for Production Monkeys.
“Travis Schaunaman was my boss. He really took me under his wing and taught me a lot of things in the real world,” she said.
Schaunaman is now the mayor of Aberdeen.
Entering the job market was scary at first, she said, but seeing how Production Monkeys was run inspired her.
After getting married, Phillips moved to Fort Collins, Colo. But her hometown ties still have her supporting Aberdeen businesses.
Recently, Wild Canyon Creative has helped with logos and branding for Paisley Tree Photography and Ashley’s Bed ‘N’ Biscuits.
Having strong relationships and friendships has actually helped her business a lot, Phillips said, as she has been able to sustain it from word of mouth and referrals. Her next step is to grow and market Wild Canyon Creative and, once she gets more clients, she’ll look to contract out some search engine optimization and website work before hiring designers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed some businesses, Phillips saw an increase in demand. Clients within the real estate industry slowed, as they were not able to show houses and people have been hesitant to buy and sell, she said.
But on the contrary, future entrepreneurs have the time they need to launch their own small businesses. They’ll tell Phillips, “You know that business idea I had. I’m going to go for it.”
Just as Phillips did — a true leader by example.