Building an Agency as a Creative Entrepreneur, with Taja Dockendorf

Episode 54:

This week on the Progressive Agency podcast, I welcome Taja Dockendorf to the show. She’s built her agency, Pulp and Wire, into one of the fastest-growing, 100% woman-owned consumer packaging firms. Taja shares how to start and grow an agency as a creative rather than an entrepreneur, and the importance of fostering client relationships. Hear insights about:

  • Why it’s essential that creatives are directly involved in the process with clients
  • How to own a room and secure clients by putting yourself out there and being authentic
  • Why not carrying debt is the most important financial lesson that Taja has learned
  • What new agency owners can do to build an agency led by creatives
  • How to hire and replace employees strategically
  • Why tracking hours helps determine profitability and impacts cash flow

Creative Entrepreneur

More and more agency owners began out of need, rather than a desire to be an entrepreneur.
My guest this week on the Progressive Agency Podcast, Taja Dockendorf, is one of those agency owners. She began her firm, Pulp and Wire, as a designer without a business background. Now she’s built her agency into one of the fastest-growing, 100% woman-owned consumer packaging firms. Taja shares how to start and grow an agency as a creative rather than an entrepreneur.

Creative Entrepreneur

Clients & Creatives

When starting Pulp and Wire, it became clear to Taja that most agencies have a disconnect between the creatives and clients. With clients being handled by an account manager, those executing the creative work are often siloed. During our conversation, she explains how she approaches this challenge by bridging the gap between the creative and the client to produce better work long term.

Growing Slowly

Often an agency owner’s goal is to achieve rapid growth. Taja has spent 20 years slowly growing her firm to the force that it is today. She explains that while exciting, rapid growth requires a level of infrastructure that many new agencies don’t yet have. Taja explains why she prioritized growing Pulp and Wire slowly, and how it’s allowed her to build strong relationships with clients. Listen to the episode to learn more:

How to Connect with Taja Dockendorf:

About Taja Dockendorf:

Taja, a graphic designer by education, has built Pulp+Wire into one of the fastest-growing, 100% woman-owned consumer packaging firms, with a focus on natural and organic CPG brands, in the U.S. Her accessible creative style and intuitive marketing instincts have made her a natural fit for organic and natural foods, lifestyle, and cannabis CPG brands seeking to launch new businesses or accelerate current growth.

The collaborative workflow she administers within the walls of Pulp+Wire from strategic brand ideation, to packaging, to digital marketing and revenue growth is scaled to meet each client’s unique needs, with both humor and insight. Taja’s working style is that of an eternal optimist while being grounded in reality, a combination of futuristic, optimistic, and realistic that brands and clients deeply appreciate and look to maximize when working with her. When not guiding brands or her team of twenty at P+W Taja also writes for Forbes focusing on team culture within the creative space and retreats to the woods and lakes of Maine with her husband and two kids, some rescue animals to stay grounded.

Versatility allows Taja to manage multi-million-dollar marketing accounts while also creating award-winning designs for small businesses. Her talent has built P+W into one of the most in-demand, most-referred design houses in the Northeast. Honing her creative skills in both New York and Boston, Taja’s unique approach to a client-centric (and holistic) business model has been vital in consistently earning P+W graphic design and advertising awards over the years.

Taja has also garnered numerous awards and accolades for her work and has been featured in: The Dieline, Graphic Design USA, Food Manufacturing Magazine, Packaging Magazine, American Package Design Awards, InTouch Magazine, Saveur, GDR UK, and L’Odyssee Du Pack — both Innovation trend forecasting magazines and The Dieline to name a few. Additional to this, her clients have also earned media attention on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Fox Business Morning.