Five minutes with… Sophie Karaer, SOKA Studio

CityX took five minutes to speak to Sophie Karaer of SOKA Studio to find out more about her business and its plans for the future.

Tell us about the business, what is it you do?

SOKA is a graphic design and website development studio. We specialise in creating beautifully designed and highly effective branding, websites and promotional content. 

When was the business formed and how has that changed over the years?

The business was formed in late 2015. For the first two years, the business was made up of myself, working in collaboration with a website developer. It has since grown to a team of two talented designers, one incredible developer, an administrative assistant, and solid relationships with external illustrators, animators, printers and copywriters. 

Tell us a bit about what the business has done in the past year?

The past 12 months have been hugely successful for the business, we’ve been nominated for and won awards, we’ve successfully designed and developed websites and branding for over 30 different clients from across the UK and worldwide, and we’ve gathered 35 5-star reviews on Google that just proves our effectiveness and the quality of service we provide. 

What are your proudest moments within the business?

Winning Micro Business of the Year in 2019, taking on my first full time member of staff and opening my first office space away from home.

How has the current coronavirus pandemic affected your business?

We’ve focused on creating the highest standard of design output for our clients, many who have depended on us during this time to produce efficient, high quality informative graphics for their client bases. We’ve also been using the time to work on the business, refining our own branding, and developing our brand new website, which is due to launch in July.

Are you doing anything to diversify your business in response to the pandemic? If so please give details.

We have offered all of our new and existing clients 12-month payment plans on all new branding and website projects. We understand the uncertainty that everyone is facing, and we can do our bit by helping people to drive their businesses forward, whilst ensuring affordability. We have also been working on our collaboration with a local animation company, to extend our range of client services into this field. 

Can you offer advice to businesses struggling during this time, whether they are in the same industry as yours or not?

Stay in touch with clients, let them know you’re there for them and offer your assurance that you can provide the great service they’ve been used to. If client work has gone quieter than usual, think about how you can spend this time fine-tuning your own business. Our current website was launched four years ago, and so has been well due a redesign, this quieter spell has allowed us to focus our attention on it, and to ensure we’re still delivering our brand values as effectively as possible.

What are your future plans for the business?

We love that we have a diverse range of industry clients, from construction to cosmetics and all sorts in between! it allows us to be always working to completely different kinds of briefs, and thinking in new and creative ways. However, over the past 12 months, we’ve really grown our portfolio of work in the cosmetics, skincare, wellbeing and coaching sectors, we’re certainly building a niche here, and we’ll be looking to expand on our range of services for these industries. 

What do you think the future holds for your industry?

There are plenty of self-build website tools and online ‘logo maker’ tools on the web which some people in our industry are wary of, however I don’t really believe that they are a threat. The training, talent and experience that graphic designers and website developers have to truly understand a brand ethos, and to translate that into a intuitive user experience with aesthetic consistency and appeal, cannot be achieved for a ‘fiver’ spent online. Our clients understand the value of the work we develop and craft for them. Their ongoing satisfaction with the work we deliver is what we thrive on and what makes our future as a company strong, resilient and a cut above.