We had the good fortune of connecting with Naika Malveaux and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Naika, why did you pursue a creative career?
I feel I was raised to be either a doctor or lawyer type. I wasn’t the greatest in academics. To be frank I didn’t understand the point of being ranked via tests during school. I wanted to blend in and not stand out. Who wants all that attention, the pressure? I enjoyed science, journalism, writing, languages and many other things in school. However I never liked formats. Standards. I was very good in art and technology. In early high school I remember I use to collect t-shirts, blue jeans, overalls, and jackets along with a $20 bill or so. I would always take home these items from other students that wanted their girlfriends name airbrushed on the clothing, or pictures of their favorite musicians, game logos and other sorts of imagery. I was more interested in making money from my talents. I didn’t feel I’d ever waste the money going to college to be a lawyer or doctor. My father was in the military. I understood I had the option to go if I wanted but I wasn’t passionate in those subjects. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. Meanwhile I’d sit at family gatherings drawing pictures of everyone, listening to the music and watching people from a corner of the room. At this time I had NO idea the possibilities of an artistic creative career. Art was my escape, my expression, my thought outlet. Finally I was in my Senior year of High School. Nearly graduating 1 year after my dad retires from the Army in a brand new town I’d never lived in. I’d lived in places like Germany. I hadn’t realized many people didn’t have as broad perspective of the world. Cultures. A person, lady or man I can’t remember came to my school near graduation time. There were several that week. Most didn’t really appeal to me. But one did come that mentioned the Art Institute of Houston. The first word being “Art” my ears perked up. They spoke of various types of art, music, culinary and fashion classes. What? An art college? I had never heard this existed. Art was always an elective class. I never imaged there was an entire school dedicated to those subjects. I was floored. I watched the slides of the students art and various creative works. A seed was placed that very moment. No one had ever told me there were careers in art. I’d read about art in History books and seen it from my overseas travels but never in a million years did I understand there was an entire industry of valid jobs for creative minded people. It was that moment by the end of that presentation that I knew where I wanted to go to school.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
TrioCollective Advertising. I established my company in 2002 I believe. For 6 years I had had various jobs after graduating the Art Institute of Houston. I had scaled a salary range from $25k/yr working at a college text book company all the way to a .DOTCOM in the oil and gas industry topping off over $80k/yr One thing I learned is everything I’ve done in my career I could be doing for myself as my own company. I had never stopped freelancing. As I said, even from jr. high I was doing artwork for people as side money. I never stopped. It helped me through college as a third job. The Art Institute even had a system for it where you could find clients looking for student work. And that work is constant. One thing I’ve always learned from working with other people is that work isn’t stable. One day a company is doing well and one day it’s not. Layoff after layoffs. Something many of us have experienced. I was never fired for my skills, it was always something with the economy or bad business decisions, yadda yadda. It was in 2002 I decided to get my DBA and go into business for myself. It was always my goal to work for one of the BIG Advertising agency’s. I tried Manlove Advertising, Freed, and my dream goal at the time was Goswick Advertising. Those agencies had clients like NIKE and big brands. They loved my work but I was too unexperienced at the times I approached them. I marveled at their studios and conference rooms, portfolio materials on the walls that had won top advertising awards. Addys and more. In between one of these employment waves I was given a space inside a massive night club in exchange for doing all their graphics. It was my first office space. Back door key to a massive warehouse that had 5 independent dance rooms of various music, a food area and more. The place even had a small library with an aquarium for kids that wanted to take a chill break. All the books were donations. It was here that I learned the nightclub business and helped produce MANY of the night club flyers you would see on cars and parking lot ditches. We had an amazing operation out of the back of that place and did flyers so fast and often for every event the following weekend. Club Space was amazingly successful and many clubs in those days like the Roxy and Sams Boat kept people like me very busy. I designed billboards, flyers and a variety of things for nightclubs and restaurants. I never worried about losing my day time job any more because I had my Trio Advertising side business to keep me busy and fed with a roof over my head. I met other small design company owners and we worked together to produce bigger and better projects. We each had different clients and talents. It was a community. There was so much work we didn’t really compete. I think we only competed in design styles. More of showing off to each other new skills and talents. It’s all a blur but it still reminds me of the days of doing artwork for various people in high school. I even was doing hispanic club flyers. And what I loved most it’s an industry where your clients mostly appreciate your work and knowledge. Sometimes a client just wants you to produce something in their mind that they don’t have the ability to do themselves. Actually that’s most the time. However you get clients that want you to fully use your experience and knowledge of marketing and that’s where the real fun is. No it’s not easy pleasing everyone. And marketing is very much about getting as close to going viral as you can get. Or at least getting increased responses. It takes a large amount of understanding people, cultures and trends. Predicting social expectations and habits. I love marketing. It applies to almost every business, culture and has direct influence on peoples lives. I’d want people to know that I have worked with board members of major oil and gas companies, finance industry executives, advertising talents, hair care industry moguls, military leaders, technology giants, real estate companies and more. And at the same time I freelanced with TrioCollective for mom and pop companies, new small businesses, service industry personalities. I love taking my big time experience and talents and utilizing it with individuals without that corporate experience. Those without the ability of hiring the big Nike firms. It makes me happy to have a variety of specific clients that I use these skills with to enhance their image and business. Though the market is always changing I’ve loved that people and companies always need art and marketing. I also want people to know I like the ODD clients. The non traditional businesses cutting a niche into an industry or just getting off the ground. These clients usually enjoy the most creative freedoms with their image. It doesn’t always pay the most but it’s often worth the enjoyment of the project in difference to the budget available. Overall I’m still that artist that loves to make his clients happy with a personalized touch of creativity. As I do this interview I’m working with a mom and pop plumbing company, a brand new chocolate company that’s about to kick off starting in Texas, a home remodeling company, and a worldwide outdoor leisure pool accessories company and more. My goal is to become one of those big marketing agencies I wanted to work for so many years ago. I don’t really care too much if the client is NIKE or that mom and pop company doing their logo for the first time. I don’t want to be wealthy from it. I want it to continue to broadly reach a wide market. Have my designs and work seen by people in different areas of the world, different cultures and many different industries. As a marketer I get to still be that quiet boy in the corner doing his artwork while watching people have fun. Nothing beats the smile of a customer that gets to see their vision of their company made real. I’ve had the opportunity to redesign pizza boxes that appear in the homes of many people, design logos for apartment complexes for families just starting out for their first time, images that lead to the entertainment of people in clubs and restaurants and so many other things. The reward overall is my portfolio. There is a story behind every design. I can’t imagine working in too many other industries that reach people as broadly.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
OMG so easy. I’d take them to one of the great restaurants in town, there are so many. I use to pride myself at trying out the latest restaurant opening. To see if they were a hit or miss. It was also partially to look to see what their marketing was like and if then needed any help. Then I would take them to see sites like the Astrodome, Reliant Stadium, Memorial Park, Nasa, Galveston, the Galleria, the freeways alone. Show them montrose and the eclectic shops with have around. Absorb them completely into the culture and diverse lifestyle. We’d end up probably hitting a minimum of the best 3 nightclubs before ending the night at a Whataburger. I do this often for guests no matter where I live. They know if they are visiting my their first day itinerary will be to see as much as possible from the time they awake until the sun starts raising the next morning afterwards.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I can’t say I’ve ever had a mentor or one specific person that pushed me towards success. Overall I feel every person who has ever hired me for my art and talent from as far back as jr high have been my mentors. My support. It makes me happy to create for others. To use my marketing talents to promote individuals and businesses. Those people have always been my support and encouragement. The Art Institute itself was an amazing school. The teachers there were so talented, frank, direct and unyielding. Each of them had a role in shaping me into who I am now. No one specifically mentored me that I
can think of. They all had moments of molding. The students I was around was great too. They were all so much better than me but welcomed me into various circles where we exchanged tips, talents and the stresses of having 2 jobs while trying to complete projects.
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DJwhisperwish https://www.facebook.com/TrioCollective https://www.facebook.com/clubhavok