We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara + Troy DeRose and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sara + Troy, what makes you happy? Why?

Oh, so many things are on this list!  We’ll answer this about our work, since we’ve thought a lot about that over the years. What makes us the absolute happiest is seeing our clients be reinvigorated about what they do after working with us.  Design should impact people, and so much of our work is strategically designed to reach audiences and client goals effectively — but we find that the impact it has on the client themselves internally is what really gets us up in the morning.
The number of times in the last decade plus that we’ve had our clients tell us how excited they are to finally have a brand that expresses their work; the energy created in their company as they experience the growth from a rebrand; the relief they feel to finally be empowered to market better; or just see the sparkle in their eye when they see their vision come to life in a mural, product, digital or print design we’ve created for them — it’s too numerous to count.
Whether it’s a rebrand, a new brand, designing a customer experience or marketing campaign — we’re pretty invested in all of our projects and have really honed a thoughtful process in order to design work that is meaningful, useful and delightful for our clients.  Design can easily be reduced down to just aesthetics, but we feel like when we do our work well, it shows that design can be transformational and have tangible impact. And ultimately, that’s what keeps us happy and fulfilled.

What should our readers know about your business?

Brands are successful when they are have to be strategically designed, thoughtfully crafted and executed consistently — and if any one of these are missing, any amount you’ve invested in branding isn’t worth it.
Our strength as a boutique branding company is that we believe that thoughtful, strategic design should be accessible by businesses and organizations at various stages of growth — from new brands, rebrands, start-ups, pivots, initiatives — not just the “big guys” (although our process scales well to help them too!)   In order to achieve that belief, we’ve stayed small by design, so we can be nimble and accessible to tackle different and unique projects, but because we’ve identified that our “secret sauce” comes from the unique alchemy of our complimentary strengths as a partner team. On many levels it helps that we are married because we’ve had over a decade of working, living, and parenting together which means we know how each other works and thinks and how those things compliment each other.
While we both definitely pull in the same direction and co-creative direct every project together, we’ve got very different roles on each project. Sara is the brand strategist and process person and intently listens, plans, and senses what a project needs to ensure our clients feel heard, understood, and have clear expectations AND that we’re meeting their goals. She is also a great communicator and creative editor, and even though she’s not a graphic designer, her concepts, input and aesthetic understanding makes everything we do better.  On the other side, Troy is a thinker and maker. With a superpower of extreme focus and a deep knowledge of design, art, and production, he helms the visual side of FIXER. Moving through research, concepting, sketching, designing, prototyping, and execution, he’s able to originate and produce our work.  We have a deep bench of specialists we pull in on various projects, but we’re always at the helm.
We’re most proud of our branding projects where we get to engage with a brand holistically throughout the whole process. We will always love working with existing brands and developing new projects and campaigns, for sure, but we love projects where we are involved in everything from the ground up — signs, the interiors, the art, the apparel, the messaging, all the things that make a seamless customer experience.
You can have a great logo, but it’s things like your first impression online, the way you’re greeted, the ease of purchasing, and the feeling you get in a space that people fall in love with. When all of those brand experiences are singing in harmony together, it will attract the right audience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Colorado Springs is pretty obviously known for our iconic outdoor recreation, so of course you can’t visit without doing at least some of those things. But — shhh, don’t tell anyone — while we love the outdoors, we’re city people at heart, so if we have a friend visiting, we’d take them on our city itinerary.  (We’ll admit, this is a slightly biased list since so many of these are also our clients, but you asked us for our recommendations, right?)

First, where to stay:
Kinship Landing is an amazing new boutique hotel in downtown Colorado Springs that is hands-down our top recommendation.  It’s truly an authentically local experience — owned, designed, built and run by Coloradans (including FIXER as the Creative Directors.)  The rooms combine hostel-type bunks with suites and are unique, beautiful and cozy with hand-picked art for each room, and the first floor is designed to be a public basecamp for everyone, with a spacious, plant-filled cafe and bar called Homa anchoring the space.  It’s really like nothing else here.
Next stop, food:
  • Stellina Pizza Cafe – a charming neighborhood spot in a historic grocery for handmade pizza, pasta, risotto, and gelato.
  • Ivywild School – a refurbished elementary school built in the early 1900’s that has been converted into a food hall. It features Bristol Brewing, Principal’s Office Coffee & Cocktails, Axe and the Oak Distillery and several food options that continue to grow. Our personal favorite is the Detroit-style pizza of Decent Pizza Co.
  • Bingo Burger – a homegrown favorite from Pueblo with delicious burgers that feature patties with Colorado Pueblo chiles. The handcut sweet potato fries and dips are so good.
  • Shuga’s – An institution. Their funky little cafe has been the place to go for 19 years and it’s still just an amazing spot. We actually rented out the whole restaurant for our rehearsal dinner, that’s how much we love it. Get the Brazilian Shrimp Soup, it’s to die for.
For the beverage scene, it’s so hard to narrow down but here’s some classic don’t miss places to start:
    • Loyal Coffee – community by way of coffee, with great people, toast, and cocktails. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful coffee shops we’ve ever seen with equally beautiful souls who staff it.
  • Switchback Coffee – our neighborhood coffee shop that has great coffee and food. The best part is the huge patio where you’re guaranteed to run into someone you know and how much they really give back to the community.
  • The Wild Goose – eclectic restaurant that’s a cool community hub. It’s got great atmosphere, food, drinks, and live music. Check out sister shop Good Neighbors too.
  • Distillery 291 – THE. BEST. BOURBON. We didn’t even really like bourbon until we had there’s, now we can’t get enough of the stuff. The local distillery has a tasting room where you can sample all of their whiskeys.
With your appetite satisfied, time to take in some art!
  • First Fridays Downtown – we have such a great art community, and this is the best way to get a taste of them all. Our old studio stomping grounds at The Machine Shop, as well as Cottonwood, Kreuser Gallery, and Modbo + SPQR in the arts alley would be our first stops, but really there’s so many more.
  • The UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA) — GOCA is a contemporary art gallery with two galleries, downtown and at the Ent Center for the Arts, and increasingly with outdoor exhibits and installations all over. The shows they bring in are intriguing, thought-provoking, and beautiful. In addition to GOCA, the Ent Center for the Arts is also home to Theatreworks and a robust schedule of music and dance performances. We’ve seen some truly inspiring plays and performances and we can’t wait for live performances to start up again.
  • Fine Arts Center at Colorado College – The Fine Arts Center is an institution in the Springs. The FAC opened in 1936 and is in a beautiful art deco building. They have a great collection and bring in some amazing artists from around the world.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

We wouldn’t be anywhere without our families, friends and colleagues who continue to give us so much love and encouragement — too numerous to name.  For this shoutout, though, we’d love to acknowledge some excellent teachers we’ve had who hold a special place in our hearts for the ways they indirectly and directly influenced what we do at FIXER.
For Sara, two teachers really stand out — her high school debate coach and math teacher who helped her not only get to the National competition, but more importantly how to think critically, articulate a point of view and to overcome shyness to be comfortable talking to anyone; and in college, her History of the English Language professor at University of Colorado who taught her the amazing power of words which translates into every part of her work.  For immersing her unknowingly in art, design and culture through books and magazines on many a Saturday shift, a special shoutout to her jobs at bookstores (RIP Borders).
For Troy, his high school art teacher who let him have free reign to be ambitious and explore but also instilled a professional attitude about art that helped him take it seriously deserves a shoutout, along with his painting professor at Colorado Mesa University who drilled the fundamentals of art that still inform his practice of image making and his printmaking professor who encouraged him to view art as concept + execution, something we use constantly as branding professionals.

Website: fixercreative.com

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Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.