Gianna Williams has worked for big companies and small companies, but what she really prefers is working for herself.
That allows her to put her ideas into action, like when singer James Taylor’s sleek black tour bus parked across the street from her business, Flamingo Ink, last month.
“I hung a sign in the window saying ‘Is that you, James Taylor? Welcome to Wichita,’” Williams said. “Darn if he didn’t come in.”
Taylor had Williams make prints of a photograph of his dog — and dropped off free tickets to his show at nearby Intrust Bank Arena, she said.
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Williams opened Flamingo Ink, which offers digital printing, graphic design and website development, in May. That was about six months after she tired of working for another print shop in town. “I didn’t feel like my ideas were being listened to,” she said. “I was able to put those things into practice over here.”
Williams took art classes at Butler Community College but describes herself as “a little more self-taught than education taught.” She owned a photography business called The Burning Image from 2008 to 2013, while also working off and on at Cargill. There, she did everything from photographing the company’s holiday parties to graphic design, recruiting and administrative work.
“It was musical chairs, but it paid the bills,” she said. “Then it got really boring and I didn’t want to do it anymore.”
She added website development to her bag of freelance skills as clients asked for help in that area.
William said she decided in February that it was time “to make it or break it” with plans for Flamingo Ink, a name she describes as “lighter and easier to remember” than The Burning Image.
She invested about $25,000 in a Xerox printer and other equipment and found space to lease on the ground floor of a city-owned parking garage. “I like what is going on down here and wanted to be part of it,” she said.
She employs two people. Williams said Flamingo Ink is happy to fill print orders for famous entertainers and anybody else who walks in, but she’s focusing more on landing accounts with businesses and nonprofits.
“We kind of think of ourselves as more of a mini ad agency rather than just a printing company. We want to serve all of their marketing needs versus ‘Hey, I need a hundred flyers.’”
Her previous experience with The Burning Image has helped in her new venture, she said.
“I kind of knew where my weaknesses are — accounting and payroll — and I knew what my strengths were, which was design and the business running of things.”
She and her employees “are super excited. We’re ready to take the city on.”
Address:360 E. William, Suite 101
Owner: Gianna Williams