Setting the Standard in Website Design - by Nathan Hursh
In a market where common words are thrown around with no regard to their actual meaning, Trio has established standards to ensure their clients know exactly what they are getting.
The old adage that “opposites attract” may seem like the wrong saying for two people who have grown up together, but for some reason it seems extremely appropriate for the sister duo that started Trio Web Design, Allison Thiessen and Jannah Craig. Opposites attract is usually in reference to how two people can be so totally different that their uniqueness brings them together and with these two, it’s no different except for the fact that they haven’t spent much time apart.
Born in Saskatoon, but raised in Yorkton, the sisters worked together as long as they can remember. “We always started little businesses together when we were younger,” reflects Allison. “My parents’ philosophy in our development was to emphasize that no matter what happens in life, Jannah and I would always have each other to count on. So this propelled us to be the closest of friends. Our friendship was something my parents really nurtured.”
Celebrating each other’s unique traits was also encouraged from an early age and this has given them the foundation of being really great business partners. Before even being out of grade school, the girls had come to the realization that they should be in business together. “Allison was always organizing the products, and I was always making the space look good, whether our pretend business was a restaurant or clothing store located in our playroom,” Jannah laughs while Allison adds, “and these characteristics carried over into our young adult life, as we were always looking for opportunities to work together.”
As life goes, the sisters embarked on different paths with Allison, the older of the two, attending the University of Saskatchewan first, and obtaining a degree in marketing. Jannah followed her passion for art and attended the
University of Saskatchewan, starting in the fine arts program and then branching off to obtain her diploma in graphic design at McKay Career Training. During this time, the desire to work together was still very present, but Allison travelled for some time before coming back to Saskatoon to work for a junior mining company, while Jannah found work with a graphic design firm.
“We hadn’t planned it at all,” explains Allison, “but I was approached by a business owner in Saskatoon who was interested in having me consult for his company on their current marketing strategy. At the age of 26, I didn’t think it was something that I was necessarily qualified to do; however, with my growing interest in internet marketing and my experience in brand development and promotions, he was eager to have me review the business’ marketing strategy. This created an opportunity for Jannah and I to work together, because of the potential re-branding strategy for the company’s print and online material.”
With Jannah’s experience in websites and print design, it seemed like an opportune time for the girls to work together, especially since only a few months prior they met the final part of their trio, Tristan Rawlings. “It just kind of happened,” remembers Jannah. “We met him at a social gathering and casually joked around about the three of us creating a company together.”
“Our conversation was really casual and I think that’s how businesses can sometimes start,” says Allison. “It’s a casual conversation with no pressure, where people can easily talk about their passions, what drives them, and what areas they have expertise in.”
Tristan’s background is in website and database programming and IT support. His experience as a programming specialist with the federal government, and the fact that he also owned a local Saskatoon website hosting company, made him a great addition to the sister duo. “After I was approached for the re-branding opportunity, the three of us revisited our ‘casual conversation’ and we were all really open to working together on this project,” states Allison. Trio grew organically from that moment on.
In the beginning, some of Trio’s initial projects came from Tristan’s web hosting clients who were looking to upgrade their websites. It didn’t take long for the people who had their websites redesigned to start recommending Trio to everyone they knew because of the service they received and the quality of the websites. Trio’s continued growth has almost completely been based on referrals from clients. With this type of organic growth strategy, the business partners found themselves fighting through a few lean months during the beginning stages of the business. “There were days when we would sit and ask each other hard questions about our business growth strategy,” explains Allison. “We would take out our business plan and remind ourselves of why we started Trio, what kind of foundation we were committed to building, and the type of web design company we wanted to become. We all knew the value in the product and service we were offering to businesses and by the end of these talks, the three of us were more committed to seeing the company through lean and robust times.”
“We also had our parents,” declares Jannah, “who were eternally supportive of us. My dad would quit his job and be our personal driver if we would let him.”
It all boils down to three things: a solid business model that puts the customer first, a top-notch product, and a passion that fuels everything. Trio is one of the few web design companies out there that starts every project with a blank page, literally. Jannah will not use a pre-made template or a design that she has created previously; she is creative to the core. She starts with nothing, except for the market research that Allison has done to get down to the heart of the client’s company, by pinpointing the target audience, analyzing the product or service being sold, and thoroughly understanding the message that the client would like to convey online.
Opposites attract, there is no question about it. Allison is the marketing extrovert, Jannah is the artistic introvert. Decisions in the company are made based on each person’s area of expertise and that decision carries authority, and is respected by the other people within the business. “I think why Jannah and I like working together is because we become our best when we work together, which is how it’s been since we were little,” Allison laughingly exclaims. “It’s absolutely huge that Jannah and I don’t compete with each other. We’ve always grown up hearing from our parents to compliment one another and be each other’s biggest supporter. We know one another’s boundaries and we honour each other’s strengths. The same goes with Tristan; he is very gifted at what he does and we respect his area of expertise.”
Since being in business together since 2009, Trio has accumulated over 50 clients and offers each of those clients the same support and service regardless of the business or organization’s size. With Trio’s foundation of producing quality websites and trusted customer service, a plan for expansion beyond Saskatchewan’s borders is a strategy they are carefully assessing. “First, we are focused on grow- ing a dynamic web design business here at home. Now this isn’t to say that we aren’t interested in setting-up Trio outside of our borders, but we believe that you have to build something right the first time before you can successfully export it,” describes Allison. With that being said, Trio is currently expanding here in Saskatoon. They are looking to hire another designer and an administrative assistant to support their business growth going into the 2013 fiscal year.
Allison and Jannah are working hard and are seeing the fruits of their labor. Trio however may not be the only business venture these sisters do in their professional lives, as they are always dreaming and looking towards the future. “Dreaming big dreams is a gift that we all have, and we dream a lot,”explain the girls. “But we know that you can’t only set your gaze on the future, because you will miss out on the greatness of the here and now. It’s keeping our attention on the present that will enable us to one day achieve our dreams. Over fifteen years ago, we had a dream to work together and now here we are business partners and owners. We can’t help but be excited about the future of Trio, but we are even more thrilled about the success of Trio today.”
Regardless of whether Trio is their only business to grow and nurture for a long time to come or if it’s a stepping stone to something else, the one thing that rings true is that whatever they end up doing, it will be done together as partners.