Konstantin Vulkov: You have a great history of creating something for other brands in various fields. Ever had a dream about creating your own brand for something that is completely different to Fuzzco? A restaurant? A shop? Anything?
Helen Rice: I dream about doing something that is just mine - like pottery or painting - making art - I don’t know what I want to make yet, I just want to play with things until I find something that I really enjoy. I don’t want any deadlines or direction, I just want to make things, whatever I want, whenever I want. We’ll see where that ends up - it could turn into a small shop or maybe I keep doing it just for me.
Konstantin: Do you like to work with music turned on or off?
Helen: It depends on what I’m doing. When I got really busy with Fuzzco I stopped keeping up with music - I really stopped choosing to listen to music. I’m just listening because it’s on - it’s almost better that I’m not that into it anymore - it can be very distracting. I’m sure one day I’ll be excited about music again but right now I really like to work in quiet, especially when I’m writing and coming up with ideas.
Konstantin: Favourite part of the day for generating ideas?
Helen: Mornings are generally the best time for me - my mind is clearer, fresher and I’m usually drinking coffee in the morning which helps. :)
Konstantin: What do you think about fame? Can fame impress you?
Helen: Fame is weird, I don’t know how I feel about it. I am very impressed when I meet normal famous people - people who you know are very busy but they aren’t stressed about it or acting like they are above doing normal things with normal people. Fame and success can really change a person and their relationships and it’s important to keep a level head and really appreciate your situation and the people around you.
Konstantin: You are doing things that others consider as really good. How do you seek other’s opinion? Do you seek praise or criticism?
Helen: Oh sure, what other people think is very important. I wish I thought about this less. I’d maybe be happier if I cared less about what other people think BUT this is a business and caring about what other people think is a big part of how everything works. I really do enjoy pleasing people. It’s the best when you can please people and be very proud of the work.
Konstantin: When you were approached by a client - do you immediately know that something will work out just fine or it takes time?
Helen: I usually can tell from the outset of a relationship how things are going to go but there are always surprises. Sometimes it takes longer to get to know someone or to establish trust. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you think and that can be fine too.
Konstantin: What are the main three stages of building a brand that the client doesn’t see?
Helen: Um I don’t know exactly how to answer this question but I will say that one thing that a client doesn’t always see is how important establishing the design, tone and behavior of a brand is, in a holistic way - nothing should be left out. Sometimes clients think that lesser pieces of a brand system can be treated differently or with less care and that is what eventually erodes brands. We do a lot of thinking about how everything is connected and we do things very intentionally - a client is not always privy to that process.
Konstantin: Do you like to keep around you a small team or dream of a really big agency?
Helen: Small team for sure. I like getting to spend time with everyone. I think we will grow a little in the next couple years but I’m not interested in anything huge. We built the Charleston office with 25 desks max for a reason.
Konstantin: I was always amazed by the brief process - I mean the moment you are getting to know your client. Some photographers spend hours with people before making a portrait. What about you? Do you go out for a drink, lunch or just sit down and talk?
Helen: It really depends on the client. Sometimes the project is really intense and in that case we’ll want to meet a lot before we start. Sometimes people come to us with really vague ideas and it’s up to us to figure out what needs to be done. We really love those types of projects - where you get into the mechanics of the business and find ways for design to really change the way a business can operate and perform.
Konstantin: How are your friendships connected with your professional life - I mean do you work with friends or it is better to not mess up the two things?
Helen: We are very careful when we work with friends. We want to be sure that the work isn’t putting any stress on the relationship. It’s something that we will check in about through the course of the project so that everyone feels like there is a very open line of communication to welcome any kind of conversation.
Konstantin: How much time do you take off per year?
Helen: Not nearly enough. Really maybe a few days? I don’t know, we are always working.
Konstantin: Summer plans?
Helen: Working! I have big plans to bike more this summer. I want to be outside as much as possible.
Konstantin: Favourite song for the summer?
Helen: A bicyclette, Bourvil
*** Helen Rice is the co-founder of Fuzzco, a creative agency specializing in branding, web design and development, photography, video and original content development. She is based in Charleston, South Carolina.