The following is a personal story written by Rebecca Shostak, founder and owner of Galler.ee Inc.
The only thing harder than coming up with a new business idea is taking an old one and making it new again. After 5 years in business, I was starting to struggle with where my company Galler.ee Inc. should go. When I started Galler.ee, the kind of graphic design that was in vogue was the Portlandia-inspired, mustache-laden hipster throwback aesthetic. It was a very loud and over-the-top design style, easy to define and easy to recreate. As time went on, however, this style fell out of fashion, and I found it difficult to pinpoint where exactly design was headed. After all, my biggest job at Galler.ee is to figure out what design style(s) are going to be considered high-end and cutting edge, then bring them to our photographer audience so they can add value to their brand. I felt lost; what did photographers want these days? Where is ivory tower graphic design headed? Was I losing my grip on the design world? I didn’t know what to do.
There were other issues, too. When we opened in 2011, there was competition in the photography template industry, but nothing like there is now. Galler.ee designs were pirated right and left on torrent sites while other competitors took what we did and nearly copied it, offering it for half price. More template companies popped up on Etsy, Creativemarket, etc. Deal sites kept running template files for cheaper and cheaper, until they were devalued to tenths of what they were 5 years ago. But that’s business, right? Things get competitive. You have to be cutthroat. But it disheartened me. To be honest, I almost gave up.
Almost. But Galler.ee still had plenty of customers, and some of my closest friends and advisors suggested I try new avenues. A new look. Fresh ideas. So many photographers were asking Galler.ee for “minimal” design, and although I saw so many other template companies tout their designs as “minimal”, I asked what that really meant. Being a design academic, I took this “journey to find the next wave of design” very seriously. I looked for inspiration in San Francisco, went to the design bookstore here in Japantown for the very latest books on the subject, went to modern art museums, and had many late-night chats with fellow creatives in the city. I saved menus from high-end coffee shops and restaurants, dissecting their typography choices and color theory. I read blogs, pinned endlessly, and chatted with lots of photographers, artists, and designers. I didn’t look for ideas within the template industry; I looked for them in the highest echelons of design firms around the globe.
After filling my head to the brim with the concept of “the new minimalism”, which is considered to be the next wave of popular graphic design, I got to work with my team. In order to make a big shift in our vision and aesthetic, I had to pause our weekly releases for the Summer. We worked harder than we ever have in the history of Galler.ee to come up with 30 new products, design them, and style them in a fresh way. I was tired of styling with florals and “rustic” elements, gold staplers and turquoise office products; everyone is doing that now. I wanted modern. Really modern. We looked to 1950’s office aesthetic, 1970’s color choices, and classic Bauhausian minimalism to inform every choice we made for the new Galler.ee. Everything from the font on the website to the pens displayed in our product photographs had this intent behind it. Some days it felt like we were feeling around in the dark. Lots of questions about what was the right thing to do. But we kept going to meet the self-imposed deadline of September 15. It became our mantra, and every second of every day I couldn’t stop thinking about Galler.ee. I didn’t know how it would all come together either; you never fully do until you have it all right there in front of you. I wanted to create a design world that photographers could buy into and make their business look next-level. I wanted to create something of an Ikea for photographers, where although each design piece is unique, they would all have a level of consistency when sat side-by-side together. And I wanted to bring photographers the kind of design firms pay tens of thousands of dollars for, for just $25/month.
Finally, September 14 rolled around, and we launched. What happens next is still untold, but I feel amazing about the new Galler.ee. It’s some of the best work I’ve ever done in my life, and I’m thrilled to share it with photographers and the rest of the world. I’m confident that the new direction Galler.ee is pursuing will give photographers an edge in their business and branding. And most of all, I’m thrilled that I answered my own question about where design is going next.
You can see our new website and products now at www.shopgalleree.com!