Kristen Harris and Catherine Lang-Kline are modest about their success. What they’ve managed to do, namely leave their day jobs behind and start their own company (one recently named the 326th fastest growing in the nation by Inc. magazine), is impressive and gutsy, especially in this lackluster economy.
The duo’s company, Portfolio Creative, links designers, photographers, writers and others in the creative industry with firms who are searching for temporary or permanent hires to work on projects.
“Kristen approached me with this idea: ‘What if there were a service in town that found creative people for you?’ She spent a lot of her time doing that, and I thought it was a great idea because I knew Columbus did not have it,” Lang-Kline says.
The two women set up shop in Clintonville in 2005. Between 2005 and 2008 they experienced growth of 741 percent. “There were places like this in other larger cities, but here we’ve sort of created an industry that wasn’t there and invented something that didn’t exist before—and clearly people needed,” Harris says.
The co-founders first met while working in the creative department at Bath and Body Works, and later at Express, where Harris was the art director. Harris is a numbers person, while Lang-Kline likes communicating with new people. During their former careers, they’ve worked on both sides of the business: Harris as a client looking for creative talent, and Lang-Kline as a freelancer, looking for creative work. This insight compliments the founders, and also assures their clients that they know who will work best.
Years of industry experience and business savviness have gotten them far, but it is successful matches and a quality service that are attracting new clients. “We make an effort to do a really great job and to understand what our clients are looking for and what our associates are looking for,” Harris says.