Written by Emil Beckford
Photos by Najee Person
We sat down with David Beckford, who co-founded Logo Graphics Design & Advertising in 1993. Since then, he has served as the company’s creative director and has spread into print with Insight2Incite Magazine and radio with Praise 99.5 FM.
Emil: Why did you start Logo Graphics?
David: I was 25 at the time, and I’ll never forget that as... one of the marketing reps, I was working on the back page ad of the St. Louis Yellow Pages and asked them if they wouldn’t mind telling me how much it cost. He told me that that ad cost $37,000, which is what I was making at the time. So I decided that, from an entrepreneur’s perspective, I had an opportunity to jump out there and do it on my own.
E: Where did the money to start the business come from? Did you have to get a loan?
D: I used the money from my 401(k) at the time that I had accumulated over about a 7 year period. I got a small loan from my parents of which we repaid back. I also got a loan from Bishop Wilfert Lee... I saw his car on the highway and asked him to pull over and asked him for a check for $2500 and he gave it to me.
E: How has your role in the company changed over the years?
D: When I first started, I was the graphic designer. My partner Rochelle Davis, at the time, was the [administration and] business side... Over the years, my role has changed more into a management role over all of the processes as well as, I’ve become... the person who goes out and gets the business.
E: Why did you expand into print and radio?
D: I decided probably about 5 years ago that to give clients a true return on their investment, we needed to create more opportunities for them to get exposure. So, if we had our own mediums, I could put my clients out there everyday, which create the opportunities for increased outreach and expansion of the message.
E: What are some of your greatest successes?
D: Getting the clothing line, [Iceland], into Macy’s would rank up there. Starting Insight2Incite because I’m very connected to the thought of us controlling the narrative. So, if we’re writing the articles and we’re taking the pictures and we’re shooting the videos, we can’t help but tell our own truth and it be a representation of ourselves. Just getting the business off the ground was tremendous. Getting to year 10 was tremendous.
E: What are some of your biggest failures?
D: With the clothing line, we raised $100,000 and did a test run into a Macy’s. I realized that to do a test run, you need $200,000 so you could say it’s a failure, but not many people can say they’ve been in Macy’s. So, it’s hard to answer that question without [saying that] success and failure are synonymous. They’re the same thing.
E: Do you have strategies for saving money?
D: Pay yourself first… As an entrepreneur, especially as an artistic entrepreneur, it’s easy to take this money to feed the next company. If you don’t have an opportunity where you are taking your salary out first, you will spend all the money, literally, on new business ideas. And that’s as frivolous as not saving money at all.
E: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs that are just starting out?
D: Get as much money together to do your idea as possible upfront… Don’t be afraid to deviate from the original plan because ideas are just framework, they’re benchmarks to get to where to where you wanna get. Don’t be afraid of rejection, because rejection is just an opportunity to get to a “yes.” I have probably talked to 100 people to get the 3 people that actually believed enough, so “no” is part of being successful... Hire, on day one, a good operations and administrative person… And don’t start a clothing line.