Friday, June 17, 2011

Return Design and Wicked Tasty Cookies

If you’re a burgeoning nonprofit with a limited budget, the last thing you want to think about is hiring pricey graphic designers to brand your new outreach efforts. This is where Gordon College’s student-run, pay-what-you-can graphic design agency, Return Design, can step in. “Return Design gives students real design experience, and hooks them on work with nonprofits. With good design, you can actually affect people in tons of different areas,” says creative director Tim Ferguson Sauder.

SPIN (Serving People In Need) is a Lynn nonprofit organization that provides an already wide array of services to low income families. But recently Caleb Isabella ’08, a case manager at SPIN, felt like his organization could be doing something more: They could be baking cookies.

Caleb is pioneering SPIN’s latest endeavor, a new baking company called Wicked Tasty. “Through Wicked Tasty we are working not only to create jobs in the community but also to teach culinary and workplace skills, and even to secure housing and teach good financial management to our employees,” he explains. The nonprofit bakery will be staffed by low income individuals who would not have had the resources or experience necessary to find consistent work elsewhere.

Over the past few months, Isabella and his colleagues have been brainstorming, compiling and testing recipes, and preparing for the launch of Wicked Tasty’s summer jobs program on July 7. “It’s like trying to invent the bike while I’m riding it,” he says. But without any meaningful branding, the ambitious social enterprise wouldn’t be able to market its products. So in hopes of a little design help, Caleb contacted Return Design, and Gordon’s student designers delivered.

“I can’t say enough good things about the work Return Design did for us,” Caleb comments. “They designed our logo, they conducted product testing and researched packaging for our products—they put us way ahead of the curve.” Now, when Wicked Tasty begins to churn out its cookies next month, their product will have a face (and a smiling one at that).

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