After graduating from the multimedia productions program at Confederation College, Trevor Waytowich did what a lot of grads his age did: he moved to Toronto to find work.
Several years later, when the hectic lifestyle took its toll, he returned home to Thunder Bay, but work in his field was limited. So, he and other like-minded creative types decided to make their own work.
Titan Studio is a collaborative of similarly skilled young professionals coming under one business model. Amongst the members are a copywriter, graphic designer, marketing guru, web designer, and branding professional. Soon joining them will be a photographer and someone with event management and planning experience.
All are employed elsewhere, but they formed the company to supplement their other sources of work and income.
“I think we’ve all found trying to start something off on your own, especially in a place like Thunder Bay, or anywhere that’s a little more remote, there are a lot of established businesses that have a lot of the big contracts in town,” Waytowich said. “So it can be hard to find work that is going to be able to sustain you throughout the year.”
Waytowich, not entirely coincidentally, is the winner of a logo contest hosted by Social Entrepreneurship Evolution (SEE), based out of the NORDIK Institute at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie.
SEE aims to encourage Northern youth to consider social entrepreneurship as a career and puts in place the infrastructure to assist them. Social entrepreneurs use innovative principles to find solutions to pressing social, economic and environmental issues.
In the case of Waytowich and his colleagues, finding clients has been challenging. Though much of the work they do can be performed long distance, it’s not always a realistic goal, because so many prospective clients still appreciate and want face-to-face contact.
But Waytowich predicts SEE will open up more connections for young entrepreneurs, and present new ideas for finding work in the North.
“Especially in these Northern communities, having these resources is going to be really excellent for anybody trying to start or maintain their own business in this kind of environment,” Waytowich said. “Being able to draw on other people’s experiences and get mentorship will probably be pretty invaluable.”
Opportunities for volunteer work and word-of-mouth referrals are other ways in which SEE can help, he added. The hope is that word will trickle through the North and companies will support home-grown talent.
Too often, he said, big name companies can offer cheap pricing, but at the loss of better communication and service. By supporting local companies like Titan Studio, it’s creating more opportunities in Northern Ontario so that fewer people like Waytowich have to move south to find employment.
“I would hope people would understand there’s a lot of local talent in the places that they live and, like the whole shop local thing, when you hire local, I think it’s a good thing for your community as a whole,” he said.