About the author: Patrick Webb is the founder of Preferred Altitude, LLC, a Spring Valley, MN small business that provides branded aviation apparel at PreferredAltitude.com.
In a small office within a historic building in Rochester, the eyes of Jeff Bell, Owner and Founder of Fuse Digital Creative Services, are opening to the surprising size of the Rochester economy. As a newer small business owner himself, he's now part of this environment. It's energizing him to put his creative design experience to work for small and large businesses alike.
“The culture of entrepreneurism and creative entrepreneurism in Rochester is just bubbling and moving! I'm tapping into it as a newbie and [. . .] I had no idea this existed. . . . It was like I was blind and then my eyes were opened in a wonderfully creative way.”
Fuse was launched by Jeff over one year ago and is anchored by design and branding services. Fuse also provides a wide range of business assistance from brainstorming facilitation, to brand analysis, to visual note taking. Jeff can help, as he puts it, “interpret visually.”
Jeff says that Fuse “is really me getting back to the things that I love to do.”
“There's just so much that can be done with it and it touches everything; it touches products, it touches systems, it touches of course aesthetics and usability.” Design, Jeff believes, is applicable to everything.
“Every problem is a design problem. Every business problem is a design problem,” he said. “What I try to bring with people that I work with is, yes they get aesthetics. They'll get that. And they will get top shelf aesthetics. But I believe that I bring [. . .] this kind of thinking about how to [. . .] look at something a little differently,” he explained.
Formerly in charge of creative services at Mayo Clinic, Jeff has years of experience that can benefit large and small clients in sometimes unexpected ways. “Sometimes people are trying to solve a problem and they don't have that problem, they have a different problem,” he said. Jeff feels that he can come into a situation and illustrate, perhaps literally and figuratively, things from his perspective.
Jeff is also an admirer of Rochester. He has coupled that admiration with his decades of design experience into a form of expression that supporters of Rochester can now take advantage of.
“I love Rochester. My wife and I have been here for fifteen years. …And in the last fifteen years all I have seen is Rochester becoming better, and better, and better,” Jeff said. “It's just like this town is on this trajectory.”
After doing some work for Destination Medical Center, Jeff got thinking about Rochester itself needing some brand work. “Mayo is branded well […] but the city is not,” he said. “I already have ideas. I might as well just put it out there.”
Jeff designed a mark, or a brand, for Rochester, and now offers different forms of “Rochester Wear” apparel via his online store, Spirit of Rochester. Numerous products including hats, shirts, phone cases, and even women's leggings are all available to those looking to show their Rochester pride.
By starting Fuse as a new business in Rochester, Jeff has first-hand experience with and understands the challenges of growing a business. This knowledge provides him with a great deal of respect for anyone starting a business. “If someone's trying to start something, to me that is so noble and so admirable, and so brave. . . . I admire my clients,” he said.
“I would tell anybody who has even thought about starting something on their own, and I would tell them encouragingly in a very positive way, before I even met them, ‘You have no idea of what you are capable of yet. You don't even know. You don't have a clue. In the best way!’ In other words, there is so much more in you than you have any idea.”
Fuse Digital Creative Services, Jeff believes, can help any company, large or small. “It's rewarding to do good work, but the response that I've seen from the smaller customers that I've had has been really rewarding to me personally,” he said.
Jeff also feels strongly about relationships and their importance. If he doesn't provide the exact services his client needs, he can tap into his network and get someone who does. That also extends to large projects, where he can assemble a team of the right people for the project.
“You will only be successful insomuch as you can build and maintain and encourage relationships with other people. I don't care how talented you are. And I believe that.”