Working at a creative agency is notoriously stressful. There are tight deadlines, demanding clients, and a neverending pressure to grow as fast as possible. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In 2012, Anthony and Natalie Armendariz picked up their lives in New York City, moved to Austin, and quickly started Funsize. It’s not the “typical” arrangement you see with successful agencies. It’s not in San Francisco or New York. The owners are a husband and wife team. And the company is centered around a focus on work/life balance — where Anthony and Natalie could build their agency in the way they wanted, be close to family, and have plenty of time for their young child Julian.
That’s why, in partnership with InVision, designer and filmmaker Dann Petty profiled Anthony and Natalie Armendariz’s story for episode two of Greater Than Avatars.
Inside Design: Why did you participate in this film?
Natalie: I think the series is really powerful. In the land of Twitter and Instagram a lot of people fabricate what they expose to the public. It’s really easy to carry out your life and your words to give yourself this persona online. But I’m human, right? We’re all flawed.
Anthony: We’re supposed to be empathetic as designers, but we’re the first to judge.
ID: I was struck how purposeful your journey was. You choose the place you wanted to work and the lifestyle you wanted. And you made it.
Anthony: We didn’t have a desire to own an agency. We really wanted to leave New York, go to Austin, and do a husband and wife duo freelancing team that took one or two projects a year. We would refuse to work late. But very quickly we realized we had the opportunity to build a business.
ID: There’s some real issues with employers calling their employees “family,” but that seems to be the mindset you have while building Funsize.
Anthony: Because our culture is important to us it takes a lot longer to make decisions. People might hire someone after a half hour when we might take a month.
Natalie: We take the “family” mindset to heart as much as we can. Anthony and I can’t even imagine laying people off, you wouldn’t lay off your brother or sister. We jump through hoops to prevent those kind of grueling decisions. We do profit sharing. We make sure people don’t work late. We try to make the care is there.
Anthony: We have to consider what size we need to be to help people grow. It’s not uncommon for us to have hard conversations whether they are still aligned with our mission here. People that quit here, we help them get jobs.
ID: What do you wish the design community talked more about?
Natalie: I wonder: how can we create a safe space for people? A lot of folks I talk to say they don’t know if they have the right mentors or leadership to help them through certain life situations. It goes back to our life outside of work, a lot of people are afraid to talk about that.
Watch all episodes of Greater Than Avatars on Dann Petty’s YouTube page and be sure to subscribe to get a heads up when new episodes are released. (And watch episode one, featuring Matt D. Smith, here.)
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by Sean Blanda
Sean Blanda is the Editorial Director for InVision. Previously, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Adobe’s 99U and a founder of Technically Media. He currently resides in Philadelphia.