Our (back) story

We specialise in the health and wellness industry, because our business started in an MRI machine (for real). Here's the full story.

Hey 👋 I’m Kristy, the shorter, older (wiser) sister in the pair! 

I’ve touched on a few times now how Design Bug came to be but I thought I’d dig a little deeper into the medical journey I went through that led to the birth of DB. 

It was the 6th May 2009. The day started like any other morning – I had brekkie after a full night’s sleep (no kids) and was excited to get to work as I loved the position I had as the Senior Designer and Studio Manager at a local company. I was with my partner (now husband) driving to work and we were stopped at traffic lights. We were car no.2 in a 4-car “pile up.” Everyone walked away from the accident seemingly unscathed. Our car was a write-off so I jumped in a taxi and went to work. 

As the day progressed my back became increasingly sore so I went to a GP after work. He prescribed painkillers and told me to take a couple of days off as it was most likely a mild whiplash injury. I went home to lay on the couch – and an hour later I couldn’t get up again. 

 

We were car no.2 in a 4-car “pile up.” Everyone walked away from the accident seemingly unscathed. Our car was a write-off so I jumped in a taxi and went to work.

The next 6 months were filled with pain killers, physio appointments, nerve conduction studies, more pain killers, ultrasounds, different physios, acupuncturists, pain clinics, driving all over the country-side for specialist appointments, being followed by private investigators (to make sure I wasn’t faking it – they followed me to the GP on both occasions). I tried psychology, hydrotherapy (I was the youngest in the pool by about 60 years) – I owned a TENS machine, took every natural pain and inflammation pill on the market, and more painkillers. I had nerve endings burnt in my spine and discovered audiobooks (as looking down at a book was too painful.) I bought a stand-up desk before they were cool. 

As the day progressed my back became increasingly sore so I went to a GP after work. He prescribed painkillers and told me to take a couple of days off as it was most likely a mild whiplash injury. I went home to lay on the couch – and an hour later I couldn’t get up again. 

For the first few months, I wasn’t allowed to work at all – and then this slowly increased to 16 hours a week. As you can imagine it wasn’t sustainable for my current workplace so I found myself unemployed. 

Long story short (kind of) I ended up in *another* MRI machine and it came to me. Although I felt too young, inexperienced, and broken – I needed to start something for myself. And Design Bug was born. Right there in that MRI machine at the end of 2009.

If you believe in “things happen for a reason” I guess you could say that’s what happened – maybe a gentler nudge towards opening a business may have been a little kinder than the 5 years I lived in chronic pain but that’s how my journey was meant to be I suppose.

Business as a 24yr old with no training in anything other than my field of expertise meant a pretty steep learning curve. I worked whenever my back was feeling up to it (sadly this was fuelled by pain killers) and often my husband would rise for work and I would still be at my computer. 

I did however score my first client within the week to follow… a childhood friend of mine was a personal trainer in Brisbane and one of his clients was about to go on maternity leave. She asked him “you don’t happen to know any good graphic designers do you as I have a really big client I need to hand on?” and as you can probably guess – I was that graphic designer 😜I flew to Brisbane, met with the marketing manager of a major international bank and came home with a harddrive full of files to begin work on immediately. 

Business as a 24yr old with no training in anything other than my field of expertise meant a pretty steep learning curve. I worked whenever my back was feeling up to it (sadly this was fuelled by pain killers) and often my husband would rise for work and I would still be at my computer. 

I had to keep ridiculous deadlines – I once received a phone call at 7pm as the marketing manager was about to board a flight overseas and say “We’ve just had this idea for a new campaign – can you brand it, design all the marketing collateral, show me how that will all look in the branch and pop it into a proposal that I can present to the CEO at 11am in the morning?” These phone calls were not unusual.

Enter Bec stage left. 

By this time she had moved to Newcastle to complete a degree in Graphic Design at Newcastle University and was living across the road from me. I would call her after one of these phone calls and she would run across the road in her pyjamas to work on a laptop next to me to somehow pull together everything we needed to impress this client.

Fast forward 14 years and we have moved office 5 times, employed several staff, served hundreds of clients, opened a second business (Swell Magazine) and are about to design and fitout a brand new office space in a brand-spankin new building in Newcastle. We’ve narrowed our focus to only serve businesses in the health and wellness space, added brand strategy to our repertoire and about to launch a course to help start-ups in health and wellness reach their dreams sooner. 

And my back? I manage it through exercise. I found a gym where movement is their mantra (thanks TMC) and I’m back to doing handstands and backflips like I did as a competitive gymnast in my youth. It keeps my body moving, pain-free and motivated to tackle work and family life with a smile on my face (mostly.)

Who knew all of that could be prompted from a car running up your backside?

So that’s our origin story.

Now here we are 14 years later, with a small studio that designs with the same kind of heart and soul our amazing clients have for their businesses.

Wondering if we’re the right designers for your business?

We’re right for you if…

  • You don’t want to look the same as everyone else
  • You value the transformative power of a strong, consistent brand presence
  • You are ready to get clear on what you stand for and what makes you different
  • You agree that coffee is a health beverage

But the best way to tell if we’re the right fit is to chat with us. We’ll let you know how we can help (even if you’re not sure what you need yet).

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