Black-owned agency Crafted Studios believes that design should create change — and that change starts with a more compassionate approach for both clients and employees.
Founder and Lead Designer Dexter Washington created Crafted Studios with the goal of building a talented team that has the space to creatively express ideas through websites that cater to each client’s unique needs. Webflow enables the team to cut development timelines without sacrificing quality. Crafted Studio’s strategic process empowers the team to deliver for clients and still feel empowered to explore their creative ideas.
We chatted with Dexter and Crafted Studios’ Lead Developer, Chris Loggins to learn about how Crafted Studios got started and continues to thrive.
Here’s their story.
Creating Crafted Studios
Chris and Dexter took different paths to get to Crafted Studios, but their shared love of creative, quality work brought them together.
Dexter’s career started in marketing but he quickly got into learning graphic and web design. After freelancing for a while, Dexter worked full-time at an agency, but found the environment to be too toxic. “They were so focused on just getting work out really quickly and focusing on profit, profit, profit without any consideration for anybody’s mental health,” says Dexter, “It just wasn’t the place for me.”
Chris, on the other hand, got started with graphic design when he was only 8 years old and landed an internship at a web design agency at 15. After tinkering and evaluating various web builders, Chris found that Webflow worked best for his clients and eventually became a Webflow Expert, which is how he met Dexter.
Past experience showed Chris and Dexter that many agencies value speed and profit over quality of work for clients and quality of life for employees. So, when Dexter decided to build his own agency, he wanted to take a different approach.
“We [wanted to] make it more human-focused,” says Dexter, “Focus on paying people right, focus on caring about quality of the product.”
And so, Crafted Studios was born.
Building a human-focused agency
When Dexter started building the Crafted Studios team, he sought out talented developers, designers, and strategists. Because Chris had already worked with Dexter on a few projects, he was a natural fit who helped bring the full team together.
According to Dexter, “Creating an agency from a holistic standpoint really just starts with giving people autonomy and paying people properly.” Dexter settled on three main core values for the agency: let creatives be creative, build a team around your skills, and always deliver quality work to clients.
Here’s how he was able to bring these core values to life.
Leaving room for creativity
For Dexter, creative freedom was paramount for his agency.
“What I’ve learned over time is to let people have creative freedom. Creative people thrive when they have more autonomy to make the best decisions that they know are possible within their area of expertise.”
So, instead of policing his team’s ideas, he gives them room to explore. According to Dexter, encouraging exploration is what keeps creative people — like the Crafted Studios team — happy. “[Creative freedom] keeps people motivated to continue working on the project without feeling like their work is underappreciated.”
Building a team around your skills
Many new business owners make the mistake of trying to wear too many hats instead of focusing on what they do best as an individual. For Dexter, seeing Chris work on the development side helped put things into perspective. He realized that when you hire people based on their specific skills, you need to trust them to use their knowledge to do the work — otherwise you’re not using your agency as efficiently as you can.
“You need to play to your strengths,” says Dexter, “everyone has something special about them that they can carve their own lane out of. Figuring out that part helps you understand your place in the market. Once you understand that, you can start to outsource and build a team around that.”
Making quality work a top priority
Crafted Studios serves a diverse range of clientele, but they often get inquiries from tech companies and creative studios that want to go beyond a typical SaaS website or landing page. Clients often come to the team looking for bespoke websites that look unique and have custom solutions — and the Crafted Studios team is dedicated to prioritizing their needs and creating quality sites. As Dexter puts it, “the care you put into every single client is what matters most. It’s not always about looking cool or what’s going to win you an award, it’s about serving your client base.”
For Chris, this is why Webflow is the perfect solution for them. Clients often want a certain level of flexibility that can be difficult to deliver when web builders have constraints that don’t serve client needs. With Webflow, Chris and the Crafted Studios team can create websites that provide a great editing experience on the client side — allowing them to make design changes on their own sites without much hassle.
“Those are the most important things — giving freedom and flexibility to the client however I can. And I’ve found that Webflow has been great for a lot of clients.”
Balancing profit and passion
After launching Crafted Studios, Dexter and Chris realized that they attracted a lot of potential clients that didn’t have the budget for the types of builds the team took on.“We’re definitely passionate about helping small businesses, but we reached a limit with Crafted Studios and had to build something out,” says Dexter, “it’s hard to [help others] when there’s no structure centered around that.
This led them to create Crafted Essentials which bridges the gap between great ideas and small budgets with simple websites that don’t cost thousands of dollars to create. This offering caters to small businesses (and budgets) in often-underserved communities with three options: landing page, business website, and ecommerce. Sticking to these three packages allows the Crafted Essentials team to create a templated workflow which keeps timelines shorter and prices lower.
“Everybody wants to talk about getting paid your worth…all that stuff is necessary, but I do think there’s a time where we can step out of that mindset for a second and help others.”
Sustainability Champions is a great example of why Crafted Essentials exists. When Sustainability Champions came to the Crafted Essentials team, they had a large Instagram following — over 127,000 followers — but no real avenue to receive the benefits of that community. Sustainability Champions was producing emails, podcasts, and articles, but none of it was easy for their target audience to find and explore. There was a disconnect between the community and the resources available — Crafted Essentials aimed to build that connection.
Soon after launching the new website, Sustainability Champions noticed a difference — website traffic grew, email sign ups increased by 85%, and affiliate clicks rose by 25%. And while everyone loves positive metrics, for Dexter and his team, the positive impact is just as important.
“I think an underrated metric that you can’t put a number on is the ease you give the client. Or the clarity of the pathway to their next step…to take that weight off their shoulders so they actually have room to grow their business” says Dexter, “…when you build for scalability, you open the door for clients to try new things.”
What’s next for Crafted Essentials
Establishing Crafted Studios and building a reputation for delivering bespoke websites gave Dexter and his team a solid foundation. Once their revenue stream was steady, the team had the opportunity to build out Crafted Essentials. Now, Crafted Studios and Crafted Essentials exist together, but have their own workflows that balance time and resources differently. Scaling intentionally helps both teams continue to prioritize clients and quality work while also leaving space for fun and creativity.
In 2023, that space means different things for Chris and Dexter. Chris plans to focus on building out technical processes at Crafted Studios for clients with complex technical needs. Meanwhile, Dexter wants to double down on making an impact through Crafted Essentials and help more minority communities bring their visions to life with simple websites.
Interested in hiring Crafted Studios? Reach out through Webflow Experts.