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Thyme for Design – An Accidental Web Design Success

The Podcast Episode with Thyme for Design

Success Story from Thyme for Design

When you look at awesome scientific discoveries, you will observe that most of them were made by accident – from Newton’s gravity to Spencer Silver’s Post-It notes. Gretchen Cawthon and Trina Fisher of Thyme for Design also consider their entry to the web design industry an accident – a successful accident at that.

Calling themselves the left side and the right side of the brain, Gretchen and Trina didn’t foresee a career in the web design industry. Gretchen was a music major preparing to become a percussionist while Trina worked as a high school relations officer educating kids which college major and career path to pursue. Although both of them dabbled in computers and design, they never thought that it will lead them to web design and development.

The most remarkable thing, however, is how they were able to discover their niche and make it successful despite their obvious differences in personality. How can two smart and creative women manage to work harmoniously and successfully without getting into each other’s throat?

That is what this success story is all about and much more than that.

Embracing Differences

There’s a pervading belief that women are competitive and can’t get along. Women are competitive, period. The idea, however, of women not getting along might have a degree of truth in them, but it is not true in these women’s lives.

It is also a fact that differences between two people, most especially creatives, can become a scourge when it comes to collaboration. However, Gretchen and Trina have used these differences to create something positive and income-generating.

By being different, they are able to bring different and exciting perspectives to a certain project. According to their own words, the clients are getting double the brain power with Gretchen, the left side of the brain, taking on most of the technical side of work while Trina, the right side of the brain, takes care of the more creative aspects of the business.

It also helps that they are able to forge a friendship outside the workplace first because it allows them to understand other areas of each other’s life. By understanding each other, they are able to embrace their differences and balance their partnership.

Finding Their Niche

One of the dilemmas a web designer faces is the niche they would focus on. Some choose the niche where they would focus on while others discover it along the way. Gretchen and Trina belong to the second group. In fact, the story of finding their niche is as consistent as how they become involved in this industry – by accident.

A client who was not in any way not part of the niche they are in right now introduced them to someone from the health and fitness industry who wants a website. The collaboration and rapport was amazing and soon they discovered that they are comfortable doing business with people from the health and fitness niche.

From this experience, the pair advise their fellow designers who are trying to find or still do not know which niche they would focus on to look for people they are comfortable working and doing business with. Once you are comfortable, you will be able to effectively communicate with each other. And effective communication yields better results.

Teaming Up for Success

Teamwork is a big thing between Gretchen and Trina. It is what balances their partnership. It is the product of embracing their differences. This culture of working as a team reflects on how they deal with their clients as well. It is one of the factors that make their web design business thrive and succeed. It is what made them sit down to re-write and refine the process they present to their clients.

How did they get there?

Being graduates of the 10K Boot Camp, the pair experienced a mindset shift in viewing web design as a business and not just a job. Part of that mindset shift involved conveying the value of what they do to their clients. However, before they can convey that value, their clients need to see the process involved so they can understand what the value is and where it is coming from.

That is what the dynamic duo did – rewrite and refine the process they have so they are able to go with their clients every step of the way. After communicating the process, they meet with their clients on a weekly basis so that they (the clients) are always aware where they are at in the process.

This is what they want their clients to feel – that they are part of the team. That they are willing to go with their clients beyond the launch of the website. They want to help their clients grow their business.

On Boosting Sales and Rejecting Clients

Like most other web designers, Gretchen and Tina started in the industry accepting work that is below the real value of their work. They didn’t know how much their value really is. That means accepting a $500-rate for maybe a thousand-dollar worth of effort.

That was their story. Now, they have a client who is willing to invest $12,000 without any second thoughts.

How were they able to do it?

The greatest question, however, is – Are you able to do it?

One of the things Gretchen and Trina learned from their experience and also from the classes they had during the 10K Boot Camp is value. In fact, you will hear and read about value in all of our podcast episodes.

Everything starts with value. How you value yourself, your work, and your client. If you realize this, you are able to focus on your goals which eventually lead to success. That is because value will help you think outside the box.

For Gretchen and Trina value means being means reflecting the voice of their clients and presenting it to an average person in the most relatable way. This area is much easier for them because they can give a different view of the niche to their clients – they understand the language but they are outsiders of the health and fitness industry.

Value also means being honest with a client if they are the best fit for the job or not. Gretchen said that their goal is not to really land a big project or celebrity client but to help their clients get where they want to go. If they feel they are not the best fit after talking with their clients, they honestly reject the client and refer them to another who can do the job best.

With this attitude, they are letting their clients feel that they are an investment rather than an expense.

Another way of showing value to their clients is to delve into their client’s pain points. Why does a certain client want to build a website? Based on their experience, a lot of their clients are clueless why they want a website in the first place. ‘Just because others have, I want one’ is the usual reason. For the pair, this is not enough because it defeats their purpose – to help their clients grow their business.

This step is the most important because once they understood their client’s pain points, they are able to create a customized solution to help each of their clients reach their goals. The best thing, however, is their clients become much more willing to invest once they understood the value.

Lastly, avoiding technical jargon when talking to their clients is also one way of showing value to their clients. Every web designer/developer should keep in mind that most, if not all, of their clients do not speak the same language as they do. Which means that they don’t care about the technical tools or strategies you will use to build their website. What they care most about is the end result – will the website serve the purpose they want it to have in the first place?

Parting Words

Getting back to the question – Are you able to do it?


For Gretchen, giving your clients hope that they can do it and be able to stick with it is the key. However, she added, you must have the capability to back up your claim. In short, you need to walk your talk.

For Trina, it’s about taking chances and not being afraid of taking chances. Every success undergoes trial and error. It also about being a better communicator. How? By asking questions. Your clients talk, you listen and identify their pain points.

Finally, becoming a life-long learner is the key to success. Change is constant, especially in the web design industry where new tools, techniques, and strategies are dynamic. Aside from keeping abreast with the latest, becoming a life-long learner also makes you humble, smart, and relatable – very important elements when it comes to value.

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