Research Associates of South Florida specializes in quality & ethical pharmaceutical clinical trials. Their logo needed to represent their emphasis on the health of their patients as its top priority. The addition of nature helps to portray their mission of promoting the growth and nurturing their patients.
Santa Fe Hydes’ brand reflects the quality of craftsmanship apparent in this new collection of leather goods. The font of the logo was chosen for its contemporary and simplistic feel. The clean lines will withstand the test of time and weather the many seasons of the fashion industry. The dashed line that travels through the letters’ crossbars is an allusion to a thread along the seam of a garment.
CMP Consulting came to us needing a rebrand for their Miami – based computer service business. Softshell collaborated with Carlos Perez, the company’s owner to create a logo which uses the hex shape and simple mathematical graphics which exemplify efficiency and allude to technology.
Softshell updated the SFSPCA brand image to reflect the ‘Helping Hand’ they lend to animals in need of rescue, rehabilitation and love. The bold font face was kept for the ‘SPCA’ in order to retain recognition of the original logo.
Hello, my name is Jessica Santa-Cruz and I am the Owner and Art Director here at Softshell Design. I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and to let you know a little more about me and my business.
I would be remiss if I didn’t immediately mention my right-hand woman, Lucía García. Softshell and I would not be where we are today without her joining us almost ten years ago.
She is an integral part in most facets of the business. I look forward to sharing more about Lucía in the future, but this post is more about me – Consider yourself warned.
I am a native New Yorker, and proud of it, like most NY transplants down here in South Florida.
I was born in Queens and grew up alongside my twin brother, Charlie. I have always been a tomboy, so seeing me among a group of boys trying to hold my own, was the norm back then.
We didn’t have a lot of money, so I learned quickly to do chores and anything I could to earn some cash. Here you see Charlie and I selling iced tea on the corner – raking in the dough at 10 cents a pop!
In fifth grade, my parents moved us to a little town called Central Valley in the lower Catskill Mountains, 70 miles north (just north of Suffern for all my New Yorkers out there).
At eleven years old, every Sunday, I began to babysit a little boy while his mother worked an 8-hour shift, earning myself the sum of $20. Now we’re talking! I liked the feeling of working to earn my own savings and becoming independent. It was from that time on that I continued to work many a job during my school years to buy and pay for things myself. By the time I began college, I was used to juggling sports, education, and work.
I commuted to SUNY New Paltz enjoying my classes while working full-time. I was thankful for my graphic design education but was eager to graduate and get my degree so that I could move out and concentrate on working in my field. At that time, the internet was just emerging and only one class within my major focused on web design.
I knew I needed to get into the workforce to really learn this new skill, which supposedly could be done from the comfort of your home! That sounded very appealing, especially since I hoped to also have a family of my own one day. How fortunate I was to have been a part of this fascinating and revolutionary way of communicating and doing business. The internet had already begun to lessen the “distance” between us worldwide!
Since graduating in 2000, I have been creating and producing websites.
I moved to Santa Fe for a short time after college and met many talented individuals in the tech industry, some of whom I still collaborate with today. After only a year, my yearning for a faster pace took me to South Florida, where I already had extended family.
I moved to Miami just before 9/11 and immediately began working with a small web firm. At this company, I was eager to be a part of all the aspects of the business and did my best to learn all I could. As fate would have it, the stars must have aligned that day, because I was lucky enough to be seated right next to the best partner I could have asked for, the programmer. He, Ivan, would also become my best friend and later my husband (and IT guy). Being in a group of men in technology was no different than how I chose to surround myself as a young child. While being the only female in the room does not intimidate me, I am ecstatic to see that more women are emerging in this industry as times moves on.
Spending time in Miami with Ivan, I also dove headfirst into the Latin (more specifically, Cuban) culture which now surrounded me.
His grandma, affectionately called Abuelonga, basically took me and my meager Spanish education and helped me learn how to speak the language almost fluently. What a gift, but it was only the second best one she’s ever given me. The first being how to make croquetas! If you’ve never had one, you MUST give it a try next time you are in Miami, although it probably won’t compare to the ones Aba made. Here I am with my daughter Eva, many years later, carrying on the tradition.
In 2007, I moved out on my own and founded Softshell Design.
Not completely coincidentally, we were also going to have our first baby, so working out of a home office would be convenient if nothing else. Always grateful for my network, I continued to collaborate with existing contacts and clients both in New Mexico, locally, and internationally. I have always been pretty driven and disciplined (thanks Mom!) so working from home was doable. I am also a dreaded ‘people-pleaser’, but I venture to say that this attitude has assisted me in acquiring and retaining clients over the years. After all, I have the knowledge, skills and ideas, but I work for you!
Fast forward fifteen years (and one more child later) and I am still working out of my home office, now in Palmetto Bay (just south of Miami), and juggling mom life instead of school. It’s not much different though – I am careful to divide my time in an effort to succeed in both areas of my life (overachiever – I know). I try to give Lucas and Eva (now ages eleven and thirteen) tools to help them help themselves and this independence benefits us both. For example, making their own lunch allows them to feel self-sufficient and gives me the extra twenty minutes at night to connect with them instead of doing for them. It’s not always easy, in fact it’s almost never easy, but I reap so many rewards from being dedicated to both home and work life.
A successful small business, a beautiful and capable family, and a feeling that helping other small businesses succeed is at the core of my purpose. I feel good knowing that I am showing my children that moms can kick butt at both their professions AND making dinner!
I love meeting all kinds of new people and learning about their businesses.
I relish the work of creating tools and designs that will serve growing companies and help them succeed. This job inspires me to collaborate with individuals and small companies to provide the best possible product our teams can produce together. This is our objective at Softshell Design, to give you and your company the marketing tools you need to thrive.
Softshell & South Florida SPCA
The past year has been trying for us all.
While we consider ourselves deeply grateful for the health of our families and survival of my business over the past thirteen months, the emotional toll of the pandemic cannot be avoided.
Recently, Softshell Design was lucky enough to work with the non-profit organization, the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). As a small business owner, this project benefited both me and my company in many ways.
Working with the South Florida SPCA has afforded us a respite from the daily worries in a way that has been more fulfilling than other project we’ve worked on in the past twenty years of developing websites.
The board, staff and volunteers at the South Florida SPCA give of themselves ceaselessly on behalf of animals suffering from cruelty and neglect. Driven by the need to serve abandoned and starving horses and with the vision to create a safe haven for them, the South Florida SPCA was formed.
The mission of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is to rescue, rehabilitate horses and other livestock in Miami Dade County and safely rehome them across the country.
The SFSPCA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was founded in 1992 by Laurie Waggoner.
The last year has afforded us the opportunity to become partners with the SFSPCA. Working with them has been a salve to our souls over the past months.
The new brand has evolved into a pet project of ours. Lucia and I willingly threw ourselves into this endeavor and worked to create a professional brand that speaks of the changing mission of the SFSPCA to include livestock.
To have had to the chance to work with Chris Septer, SFSPCA’s Executive Director has been a honor and pleasure. There is no question that this industry attracts selfless and compassionate souls. While the animals have the very good fortune to be under her wing, we also felt the abundance of her considerate nature. We needed that this year. Chris is passionate about building a network in the local community and we are gladly a part of that circle now.
We’ve been beyond fortunate just to have work during this pandemic, but to have been fatefully paired with the SFSPCA makes us even more appreciative.
We hope that this is the beginning of a long partnership where we can help the South Florida care for their rescues, make the most of their website and market their brand in a more effective and productive manner.
Softshell Design is eager to expand its local clientele in South Florida. We will work tirelessly and meticulously to provide you with the design tools that will help your business further its goals.
Going Digital in a World of Social Distancing
What will the ‘new normal’ look like for small business entrepreneurs? The days of shaking hands and exchanging business cards may be over, but how can we compensate?
We need to leverage the opportunities available to us in order to increase exposure, clientele and business.
While Coronavirus has had a negative impact on traditional purchasing, online shopping is doing better than ever. Users are not only buying products, they’re searching out services, entertainment, and scratching that social itch.
An omni-channel retail marketing strategy (implementing several online avenues for customers to browse your services and/or products with a cohesive customer experience) will yield a greater benefit to your bottom line.
As always, in order to stand out among competitors, your brand needs to have unique representation with a sound foundation. Online users strongly value brand image and identity, ease of functionality and social media activity.
A few things that should be considered when embracing your omni-channel approach are:
- Exposure Online
- The Right Software
- Social Media Networking
- Getting & Keeping Followers
Whether you are looking to sell a product or a service, the most important way to transition your small business to reach an online audience, is with a professional mobile-first website that delivers. Accompanying social media accounts, apps and printed materials with consistent branding and messaging will create a successful omni-channel marketing approach.
A distinctive design and professional brand will help to solidify a customer base and increase your return on investment. Consumers rely on the brand image of your site to be unique, consistent, concise and attractive. Your brand speaks to your audience and if you don’t take the time to develop something inspiring, you will lose users.
When gathering and writing content, be sure to take the time and effort to properly and thoroughly describe your business and its services. Remember that search engine robots read the text on your site in order to get to know your business. It is imperative that your copy use terms and syntax particular to your industry in order to improve your chances of being found online via organic search engine optimization.
Your website, ecommerce store and/or app should incorporate seamless functionality for ease of maintenance so that you can concentrate on your passion rather than struggling with poor design.
In order to fully flesh out a digital marketing campaign, the right software is necessary so that you get the most out of your investment. Depending on the size and existing budget of your business, you may choose to implement your omni-channel strategy in phases.
The CMS best suited to your company will depend on the functionality needed both internally and externally. Software is tailored to the specifications of different clients and in most cases, there is a solution out there that will fit your needs. Whatever option is chosen, analytics and reports are necessary to help you gauge where your site needs improvement or enhancement in order to increase profit.
It’s extremely important to consider any existing requirements before ascertaining the best platform to build your website. For example, if you need an ecommerce site and want to use the same payment processor as your brick and mortar storefront, that can help to wildly narrow your choices and facilitate management of your inventory and sales. If you want your online forms to automatically add users to certain newsletter subscriber groups in order to reduce the time invested, there are out of the box integrations which can ease this.
Social media platforms may be our best option for networking in the future. It has become a legitimate and respected avenue for marketing. With almost half of today’s buyers searching for products/services via social media, now is the time to take advantage of these marketing channels for greater exposure.
FB has 1.13 billion daily active users and is intended for connecting with friends. When friend’s comment and like (or even better – love) your posts, they stay active on timelines which could allow for a longer period of exposure. The FB audience is more advanced in age than Instagram, so you are reaching a different demographic. FB can be used to promote your brand, market your services and to sell your products.
Instagram also enables your business to promote its brand as well as market its services and products. IG has 500 million monthly active users and has better statics in engagement and sharing than FB. Users follow businesses and pages that are not friends and they expect to see your business post to tout success or products via this avenue.
LinkedIn is an outlet for professional networking and the perfect platform for posting articles and business updates in order to retain industry relationships. Staying active on LinkedIn encourages collaborative projects with complimentary businesses.
Consistent and relevant content that is reliably posted creates a relationship with the consumer that builds loyalty.
Compiling subscriber lists from users that have opted in to receive your digital communications is the first step. More importantly is the need to develop consistent email marketing campaigns that continually spur involvement from your subscribers. This avenue opens doors to increased exposure with which to market sales promotions.
Paying attention to specific consumer needs and creating a personalized communication through social media and website customer groups will help to boost participation. Consumers want to feel that they are special, and your communication should make them feel first and foremost, that they have been considered.
Boost your clientele by incorporating subscriptions, reviews and writing blog posts that allow for comments. Create newsletter campaigns with eye-catching graphics to bring users back to your site. When needed, chats and support options can be integrated into your website to help assist users in order to ensure a positive customer experience.
If you want customers to engage and interact with your business online, it is absolutely essential to invest in a solid brand image, responsive website and omni-channel experience which will create the foundation for success in this new normal.
Simon Cooke, managing director of full-service digital agency BozBoz, states it succinctly when he says, “The point is, what you do now will set your business up for stability and success in the future.”