Lauren Gotard, an intern at the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, interviewed co-owners of Digho image marketing, Diane Palma and Maria Misko, about their personal experiences that lead to their foundation of their own graphic design company and entrepreneurship in Huntington Village.
Lauren: How did you formulate the name Digho?
Diane: Yeah that’s a popular one. I don’t really know how it started, but it’s a combination between my name, Diane, and our third partner. We just liked how Digho sounded.
Maria: I think it was because we couldn’t find anything we all liked! It took us a long time to create the logo, over a year. I think with the name we all just heard it and loved it and we were like, “That’s it!” I don’t think we knew this at the time, but later we realized we had created something unique, which is exactly what we represent. We create things that are completely unique, in the design form, in the art form, through the communicative form. We were actually doing things before our time, but it felt right so we knew it would get to this point eventually. It just stuck.
Lauren: Even just examining your website, I began to notice how creative your business approach is. You both have an arts backgrounds and have actuated your passions for creativity, which clearly permeates your work in design. Were there any specific experiences in your time in college that forged your tenacity and clear vision to found a graphic design company at such an early stage of meeting each other?
Maria: This did start in college. Diane and our third partner came up with this idea and approached me about it. We met in drawing class and we knew we wanted to work together. We all loved the field. We loved the art aspect of it and then bringing in the design and communicating through it.
Diane: I think the connection that the three of us had and the commonality we shared was with fine art and creating. We were really finding who we were together, so that’s what really created that bond. We all felt the same way about art and I think we all kind of just fell on design because we liked the mathematical “figuring it out part,” and it had rules that you actually had to follow, but you could also be creative so it also allowed us to build a business, but also stay in the arts and stay with each other.
Lauren: How did you balance your passion for the arts and other schoolwork throughout your secondary and collegiate studies? Did you enroll in more arts classes than core study courses or did you join clubs in which you could devote some recreational time towards your artistic ambitions?
Diane: I think a mix of both. When you go to art school you’re really lucky. You basically only have to take arts classes and you have to take just a few core classes. Extra-curricular wise, Maria started her own art club. We just kept ourselves in the arts in school, after school, and on the weekends. We would go into the city constantly and go to shows. When you’re in college you really don’t have many responsibilities, so you can really dive yourself into the one thing you love and that’s what we did. We literally slept, ate, and breathed art, with each other.
Maria: Yeah we went with each other to Chicago just to go see art and architecture. I worked in the art lab and the computer lab where all the digital artists were. You kind of just live the life and absorb as much as you can on all levels. Like the yearbook committee and the newspaper which needed layouts and designs to be done for one thing or another, so we just kind of embraced it as much as we could. We use that mentality today and we approach businesses in Huntington and try to help as much as we can, and we get into all the aspects of their events, and we approach it the same way, where we want to be completely involved on the art, creative aspect.
Lauren: Did you find it difficult to found your own graphic design company on top of immense personal milestones like marriage and having children? Did your involvement in Digho ever hinder your personal relationships or were you able to easily divide up sufficient “home” and “work” time?
Maria: We had to set rules where when we’re at work, we do work stuff and we can’t complain about certain things. Diane and I were together all weekend, and we start like sixty-five conversations and eventually we will finish one. We’re lucky that our personal lives and our business lives intertwine so much, so we don’t have to hang out with anybody else! But it’s hard and we say it all the time, this business grows with our families and as our kids mature and get older we get to let go a little bit of them and then pursue something else, but it is a challenge. We’re moms. We’re attached to our children and our husbands and they’re very supportive, but it’s very hard. I’m going to make today work anyway.
Diane: That’s why it works, I mean, I’m leaving early because my sister’s in town with her twins and all my family. We used to be like ‘do you mind if I leave at one’, and now it’s like ‘Maria I’m leaving at one.’ It’s just the dynamic that is natural for us.
Maria: We’re moms first, then we’re best friends, then we’re business partners and we both respect that and we just make it work. We do what’s important first. When it comes down to it, we’re lucky that we have each other and we respect our personal lives and our friendship and the business. It’s like another baby that we have to take care of. We’re growing as business women, but we’re artists first too.
Diane: We knew nothing about business when we decided to start this business.
Maria: Then we had to take those steps to become business women. We put ourselves in the position of joining the chamber and they helped us to become business women, so that becomes easier to juggle, so it’s one less thing we have to stress about because they’re okay with us growing with them. We actually had an office in the chamber building and we grew out of it. We couldn’t believe it and now we’re here. They helped us grow out and we joke about how the bird had left the nest. They say it takes a village to some degree and everybody does support and help and if someone is not really down with that, then that’s okay. Then they can go and find a very structured office, but I think that’s what people like about us. We’re honest, we do have families.
Diane: I think you get what you see and you see what you get. We’re really open and I think that that’s really what people respect about us and really do want to work with us because they support what we’re building and what we’re doing. I think when you’re really true to yourself and you’re really doing what you love, everybody wants to support that. Together we’re creating something that everyone can be proud of.
Look out for part two of this interview, next week, to find out more about the faces behind Digho Image Marketing!