Riveter Design started as the brainchild of creative mastermind Jordan Hegyi in 2012.
A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Hegyi sharpened her skills working for some of Buffalo’s top advertising agencies. But when she wanted a more personal relationship with her clients, she launched Riveter Design, a microagency that enables her to scale her services to the precise needs of the organizations she works with. The name reflects the company’s core concept—making clients’ work so riveting that their target audience can’t take their eyes off of them.
Like many entrepreneurs, Jordan was a one-woman show when she founded Riveter. Designers are "makers" and work best with consecutive hours of work time, but in starting her own company, she immediately had to add the role of manager to her responsibilities. As she grew the business, adding clients and projects, the management-related tasks grew proportionately, resulting in less time designing and more time project managing, estimating, invoicing, and responding to phone calls and emails.
Around the same time, clients that she had gained some traction with were starting to request more diversified marketing services in addition to design work. So Jordan began to look for freelance partners to help manage those relationships. Although Riveter's clients were satisfied, Jordan's workload was becoming unmanageable, and she wasn't able to focus on doing the design work that she really loved to do-- which was the entire reason for launching Riveter in the first place!
Her desire to be able to focus on design while offering more of a full-service approach to client service led Hegyi to bring Lauren Molenda on as a partner. Handing off all of the client communication and business management to Molenda allowed Hegyi to refocus her energy on creative endeavors, and allowed the agency, as a whole, to take on more work and offer more well-rounded services.
Although both women have years under their belts working for some of the larger agencies in Buffalo, neither initially considered becoming entrepreneurs. However, they both loved what they did and had a passion for finding unique and different ways to do things. Starting a business, and operating it their way, seemed like a great opportunity to find out what worked and what didn’t, crucial lessons for any startup.
“We’d make almost every mistake over again, because we’ve learned something valuable every time,” they said.
One secret to their success is “peer mentorship,” they note. Rather than employing full-time staff, the women have a dedicated group of independent contractors that they call upon, most of whom are former agency workers themselves. It helps them keep their overhead low. While they work with individuals who might be considered competition, there are plenty of clients and work to go around, they said. In fact, clients have been recommended to Riveter from other businesses, and they have returned the favor. It’s one of the best ways they’ve grown their network, they said.
Another key to Riveter’s success is the supportive community the women have built around them through involvement with local boards and organizations. They note that it is important for entrepreneurs to gain the respect of people within their industry, because “those are the people who are going to back you, hire you, and spread the good word about you,” they said.
With a special focus on the nonprofit community in Western New York (they like to work for a good cause, they said), Riveter counts the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, and the SPCA Serving Erie County among their client base. They are proud to note that they helped rebrand the SPCA to coincide with the opening of its new state-of-the-art facility. Outside the not-for-profit space, Riveter works with organizations including Sanderson Wealth Management, Mongoose, Sunrise Medical Group, Delaware North, Fisher Price, New Era, and Great Lakes Cardiovascular.
While they’ve enjoyed considerable success thus far, the two women are focusing on growing their company even further, although not necessarily in terms of the number of clients they serve or the projects they work on. Rather, they are looking to refine their client base, collaborators, and opportunities as they look toward the future.