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Meet Eileen Riestra of Depict Brands in East Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eileen Riestra.

Eileen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I still remember the day I designed my first piece of graphic design. It was in my third-grade class in 1990. Computers were introduced in my classroom and the teachers asked us to play with the software Paint already installed in the Apple Macs. I came up with a fish made out of big pixels, and I remember the teacher showing it off to the rest of my classmates. I went home proud and gave my mom my first computer generated artwork. Throughout high school, I often helped my friends design covers for their presentations. And by the time I was applying to college I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer.

It was not so easy for me. It was in the year 2000, and there was only one university in Puerto Rico that offered a degree close to graphic design. It was actually a graphic arts program, and they didn’t even have any computers. So together with a friend, we decided to create our own project on image and communications. It was a hit. Our thesis project took us to Rome where we were recognized among other finalists from around the world. It was then that I realized that I had a future in design. But first I needed to leave Puerto Rico.

In 2001, I enrolled in the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University and was determined to succeed. I would nerd out daily in the school’s library, spending hours reading through designer bios, Communication Arts, and books on typography and design. It felt I was getting close to a world that was tailor-made for me. During this time, I found my voice as a designer. I learned that cultural perspectives and social impact were important to me. When graduation rolled around and a professor asked us to come up with one line to best describe our motto, mine was that I wanted to change the world through design.

Within six months, I landed a job working for Saatchi & Saatchi-Puerto Rico in their public relations department where I gained exposure the agency world. For three years, I was working full time at the agency while also doing freelance design projects for friends and families. When I decided to dedicate myself full time to design, I called all of my connections and told them that I was officially going solo. It was super encouraging to hear from a good client and mentor who told me that they had been waiting for me to make the jump. Fast forward to today, and I am happily celebrating the 10 year anniversary of my design business, now known as Depict Brands.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not. Running a business is not easy. Especially when you’re first starting out in anything, it’s normal to have self-doubt and easy to let other people’s opinions affect your view of yourself. For example, I had a terrible experience during my first job interview after graduation. I showed the creative director my resume. He took one glance at the objective and burst out laughing before telling me that, in essence, I didn’t belong there if I wanted to change the world. I felt totally embarrassed and thought I did something wrong. Now looking back on everything I have accomplished, I understand that his opinion of me actually had nothing to do with my worth as a designer. It’s important to value your unique and personal voice and to recognize all of the experiences that have molded you.

As an artist without a business background, I had to quickly learn how to juggle the creative and business aspects of my work. After five years in the business, when the company had grown to more than five employees, I decided to enroll in an executive education certificate program at the Yale University School of Management. That’s where I realized that I needed to expand to the US.

That some of the issues I was having with my company Puerto Rico had to do with targeting the right audience. I decided to come back to Boston to specifically target my services to the Hispanic market, and that, of course, came with its own learning experiences in trial and error. East Boston was a neighborhood that was developing then and the opportunity to provide design services in English in Spanish was appealing to me. My first client was Ecco Boston, it was down the street from my house, I would go there every time and became friends with the general manager she then hired me to handle the branding and marketing of the restaurant that job was the start of my journey and new chapter for designing in the food & beverage industry.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Depict Brands – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Depict Brands is a creative design firm in East Boston that specializes in brand development. We use strategic thinking to come up with innovative ideas and help solve business problems. Our results are measures through digital marketing. Our clients are from all around. We have a remote team that helps us meet with anyone, anywhere. In East Boston, we are known for restaurant branding but we have also served other business in the neighborhood and I like to say we are known for helping immigrants entrepreneurs shine by helping them brand their product or services.

What I love about my company is the sense of pride and confidence that we bring to the table. Clients come to us with a variety of needs from design to branding and marketing solutions and leave discovering a whole new scope of possibilities for their products or services. We listen to learn and work with inspiration from each client’s background and culture, values, and business goals.

What sets me apart from other designers is my cultural sensitivity and training as an artist. I help clients discover and embrace their unique cultural voice then connect the dots back to the vision they have for their company. And I always strive to make the design process a collaborative effort. In the end, I truly believe that the only way to create a compelling brand story–one that strengthens a company’s industry presence and sets them apart from the competition–is through empathetic listening and transformative concept design. In the words of a client, I “take what’s in [their] head and makes it come alive. [I] am able to get out of [myself] and into the client’s project.”

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Most of my work is heading towards the food industry, with several restaurant branding jobs on my plate right now, I will continue striving to change the world through design.

I am looking forward to Boston and what this city has to offer, especially to young entrepreneurs. Boston is a great place to start a business, the youthful voice of the city combined with its love for arts, creative, and technology helps my business to stand solid. There is always value for a designer here. I would recommend Boston to anybody no matter what stage they’re at in their career. It’s a great place for growth. You can connect, network, and learn from like-minded individuals with almost unlimited access to cultural diversity. From international college students to young innovators in tech and the sciences to seasoned healthcare professionals, Boston has it all. I like to say that the only thing that Boston is missing is the sun –in Puerto Rico, its summer year-round– but I always joke that I think I’ll die here. And as long as I’m here, I’ll be sharing some of that Puerto Rican sun with Bostonians by giving my best as a designer for social good.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jenny J Taylor

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