After living and working in some of the country’s most popular cities for young and creative professionals, Greg Lutze, 33, decided it was time to move home to Manitou Springs and launch his next venture.
Lutze is trained in graphic design and continues to do work for national clients through his design business, Must Warn Others, which he founded while living in Seattle.
He is also concentrating on growing and developing his newest venture, Visual Supply Co., out of an office in Old Colorado City. The new firm builds tools for creative professionals.
After living in Portland, Seattle, New York and San Francisco, Lutze said he was happy to get home to Manitou Springs.
What made you decide to make the move home to Manitou Springs?
Family, sunshine, cost of living, mountains and nostalgia. And Manitou Springs just happens to be the best place in the whole world! There is something about community that you’ll find here that you can’t find in Seattle, San Francisco or NYC. I love dropping in to the Swirl Wine Bar late at night, or playing Skeeball with my daughter at the Arcade after enjoying a breakfast at Adam’s Mountain Cafe. It’s a fantastic place to live and grow up. My wife Gabrielle and I wanted that for our daughter Edmée and son Arrow.
How and why did you get into business for yourself?
I had great experiences working for some amazing design and tech companies like Asterik Studio, BWKLD, RSR/NYC and Microsoft Xbox, but felt a desire to branch out and try something new. It’s been fun to be able to start a company from the ground floor and build it into something you want it to be. I love the challenge starting a new business creates, as it forces you to be agile and make intelligent decisions at a rapid pace.
Tell us about your newest venture, Visual Supply Company
Visual Supply Co, or VSCO (pronounced Visco), creates digital tools for modern creatives. I started it about a year ago with my friend Joel Flory and we’ve grown to be 10 employees with 4-6 contractors working with us at any given time. We are based in the East Bay outside of San Francisco with smaller offices in Old Colorado City and New York City.
We create software and apps that streamline workflow and create beautiful results. Our first product, VSCO Film™, emulates classic analogue film stock for digital photographers.
We’ve also recently released an iPhone camera app, VSCO Cam™, that aims to make phone cameras a real photography tool, rather than just a “toy.” In the two weeks since its launch, VSCO Cam has been featured on the Apple App Store’s New & Noteworthy, What’s Hot and peaked as the #1 Camera App and #7 Overall Top Paid App. Additionally, Gizmodo selected VSCO Cam as it’s App of the Week.
In the near future, we will be releasing a website platform that businesses and individuals can easily create a site with, as well as manage their content and tie into social media outlets.
How is this new venture different from your last business?
My previous business was a graphic design studio called Must Warn Others and was composed of my sister Christina Rouse and two other designers in Seattle, WA. The biggest difference between the two is the ability to make the final call, to have more input on the finished product. With Must Warn Others, usually we worked with/for larger design or ad agencies for their client. And while I’d have a lot of say with the creative output, ultimately the final call rested in the clients hands. VSCO is our baby, and therefore we have control over how it looks, works and promotes itself. We are our own client, and that’s a fantastic opportunity and challenge.
What are some of the unique challenges and advantages of working remotely?
Communication is far and away the greatest challenge. We utilize video iChat like crazy. At times we literally have video chat running between all three offices the entire day. We also use a great app called Flowdock to stay in touch and Pivotal Tracker to manage projects and to-do lists.
How do the opportunities and challenges young professionals have in Colorado Springs compare to those you experienced in some of the other cities where you have lived?
I’ve lived in Portland, Seattle and spend a lot of time in San Francisco and New York City. Naturally, these cities are really different than the Springs and the challenges will be different.
The biggest challenges for young professionals in the Springs are opportunity and influence. At least for the creative professional, there are not a lot of places to gain experience and exposure. It’s a relatively small market for creative work and therefore creative jobs. There are definitely some great firms and individuals doing solid work here in the Springs, but the opportunities are not as readily available as in larger cities.
The other challenge is influence, or possibly a better descriptor would be inspiration. The internet has helped this a lot as the world becomes smaller. That being said, it’s easy to get in a mindset where the only inspiration and influence you have in your professional life is from people or media locally. No matter where you live, I think that’s a dangerous thing to become tunnel-visioned. The world is a big and beautiful place with lots of great things to discover!
As for opportunities, it’s important that young professionals find ways to carve out new roads and frontiers for themselves. Cost of living is really good here compared to say, San Francisco, and that affords opportunities to push hard and take risks. While there may not be as many creative jobs in town, there is no shortage of opportunities to create amazing work and products, especially with the internet leveling the playing field.