Movers & Shakers: Enlisted Design’s Beau Oyler on the importance of collaboration

Movers & Shakers: Enlisted Design’s Beau Oyler on the importance of collaboration

We’re all about people doing cool things with Breather. From innovative startups to creatives to amazing business minds, this section highlights all the ways Breather fits your work life. Meet Beau, the SF-based designer, entrepreneur, and founder of Enlisted Design.

Describe your work.

In a nutshell, I’m a design entrepreneur. I help companies create branded product experiences. Enlisted is a design agency where we partner with our clients, from small startups to massive corporations. Essentially, a company comes to us and says, “We have an idea. Help us create the brand positioning, the name, the mark, the packaging, and ultimately, the product itself.”

Tell us a little bit about your team.

I have a team of industrial designers, visual designers and brand strategists, who work collaboratively to create a cohesive brand experience with multiple consumer touch points. The big thing for us is bringing our client into the creative process, and actually having them be enlisted into our creative team. This unique approach to collaboration enables co-creation.

The Enlisted Design team.

How did the Urbio project come about?

We started and incubated Urbio at Enlisted. We had this idea of small-space organization and gardening, so we created the brand. Our thinking was this: we do all of this great work for our clients, when are we going to do it for ourselves? So, we went through the strategy process, the positioning, the naming, the branding, the prototyping, and ultimately, manufacturing.

And then, you were featured on Shark Tank!

Yes! After raising money on Kickstarter we could hire a team, and Shark Tank reached out to us. That was a phenomenal experience. Unbelievable. It really launched the company! And we sold it this past February. To be able to launch a product, have an acquisition, and close that circle, we now know what it’s like to be in our client’s seats. To be able to experience putting our own capital, our own sweat, our own time into a project allows us to have an empathetic approach to what we do as designers.

An Urbio wall unit

With all of these projects happening simultaneously, is there ever an average day for you?

I don’t sleep well [laughs]. I go to bed late, wake up early. Let me pull up my calendar and see what today looks like… This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m., and cycled 42 miles, got home, ate breakfast with my wife and kids, and came into the studio. Throughout the day, I had reviews with my different teams.

What is your role as a founder of the studio?

My role is sort of three parts: executive management over the leadership team, making sure that they have the resources they need to effectively run the projects. As the principle designer, I come in as a high-level creative director. I have design directors who run the programs, but I make sure that we’re headed in the right direction, and validate my director’s decisions. I really trust the people I have in place, they’re phenomenal designers. The third part is business development. I manage client relationships and vet the projects coming into the studio.

The Enlisted Design office.

Why Breather?

I’ve got a cool story for you, actually [laughs]. We partner with Punch Cut, an awesome UX agency in SF. When they land a project with a industrial design component, we come in; when we have a project with a UX/UI component, they come in. It’s a pretty special relationship. So, we had a project kickoff in San Francisco and we booked a Breather. It was from 11–12, and I had a pivotal business call at 12. I could tell the meeting was running late, so I took my phone out under the table to see if there was a Breather close by. The next unit over was available! So, I book it at 11:55, and say “guys, I’m so sorry, but I have a call at 12 I need to take.” I run in, hop on the call, and it went phenomenally well. I was totally comfortable — I even had the whiteboard to make notes. The client then asked me about Breather, so I tell them all about it. I even emailed them a picture with a link [laughs]. It was a pretty cool experience. You guys hooked me up!

The photo of the space Beau emailed to his client.

You mentioned you’re based in Oakland — what’s your favourite thing about living and working in that area?

In the last four years, Oakland has blossomed. It’s really exciting to be ‘the’ design and creative agency of Oakland. I love being in the Bay Area because there’s so much happening and there are so many smart people — these people are freaking brilliant! It’s great for our creative model of true collaboration. We invite our clients to the design table and say “hey, let’s do this together.”

Go do something amazing.

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