Fresh Looks from Fondren: Creative Distillery

originally published Winter 2016

by Abbie Walker | Images by Frank Farmer

Creative Distillery’s handprint can be seen all around Fondren. From Rainbow Co-op and the Sweet & Sauer kombucha they carry to Orange Peel consignment boutique, the Creative Distillery team is helping Fondren businesses put their best face forward.

Creative Distillery helps produce branding material such as logos, website design, social media, and publications for businesses and non-profits. But CD is more than just an advertising agency. Founder and principal of Creative Distillery, Darren Schwindaman, says their mission is to help bring to life the ideas of local creatives and entrepreneurs. As their website says, “We care and branding can help.”

Schwindaman adds that their goal is to create fun and meaningful work. “We really care about what it is we’re designing,” he says. “We’re bringing something into the world and we want that to be good.”

Some of Creative Distillery’s clients include Deep South Pops, Mississippi Museum of Art, and Mississippi Cold Drip, as well as non-profits such as Goodwill of Mississippi, Faith and Reason and Methodist Children’s Home. Schwindaman says it makes him happy to see CD’s work around Jackson, especially in the Fondren neighborhood.

Creative Distillery developed from Schwindaman’s freelance graphic design business back in 2008. After expanding to include social media and web writing components, he eventually had to take on more staff. “It became bigger than me,” Schwindaman says.

The Creative Distillery team now consists of diverse millennials with a variety of experience levels. While it is a group effort, each member has their niche. “Everyone owns their seat,” says Taylor Lesser, CD’s brand strategist and project manager.

“It’s like a family,” says Rohit Sharma, the team’s web developer. “We are more like friends than coworkers.”

Schwindaman says he wants CD to be a place where the staff can experiment and push their creativity to new levels.

“Every project has a purpose,” says copywriter Julianna Pardue. “We’re passionate and proud about what we’re doing.”

“I’m not really alone when working on a project,” adds graphic designer Kaiyla Barber. She appreciates how they can bounce ideas off each other.

Creative Distillery is celebrating a successful first year in their Fondren historic district location. They acquired their first office space in Banner Hall in 2011. By 2015, CD and its team had grown enough to move to an office suite in the 3000 Old Canton Road building last October. They turned what was a doctor’s office into a space that reflects their fresh, modern feel with white walls and wood throughout.

Schwindaman, a Fondrenite, says he loves the location. “It’s my favorite place.” The team often ventures out for Fondren Fro-Yo or tacos at Babalu. Schwindaman adds that Fondren has a “great creative energy” that they can feed off and also contribute to.

Within the past year alone, CD has had its hand in a variety of local projects, including completely revamping Repeat Street’s brand for its ten-year anniversary, as well as creating a more modern look for the Mississippi Department of Health branding campaign. But they also keep busy with numerous design jobs, such as creating a poster for a Dia de los Muertos event at Salsa’s Grille.

“We do a lot of important work that we care about,” says Lesser. “But we have a lot of fun.”

No matter what the project, CD strives to make a real-world impact. Through creative and consumer research and taking time to get to know the heart of each client and what they do, they aim to create a brand that helps the business or non-profit make a difference in the community. “Clients are going to feel like we genuinely get them,” Schwindaman says.

While he would love to get to design all day, he enjoys working on his own terms. “I come to a space that looks how I want it to look, and work with people that I like, in a neighborhood that I like, on projects that I love,” he says.

For the Creative Distillery team, they aren’t just designing a company—they are helping design a more dynamic Fondren.

Find out more about Creative Distillery at creativedistillery.com. Their growing team just added two new members, Natalie Thomas as a graphic designer and Drew Henry as a copywriter.

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A freelance writer from the Deep South with a love of reading, writing, dramatic storytelling, indie music, and her corgi pup.

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