By Nina Silberstein
When the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, not only did some of Nemo Design’s clients put their creative needs on hold, but the agency had also seen a lot of their favorite local businesses shut down.
To help ease the pain, Nemo launched the PDX Creative Support Club in May 2020, offering free design services to Portland’s small businesses affected by COVID-19 to help them generate revenue during this difficult time.
The support club connects local businesses with Nemo designers to create limited-run apparel. Nemo employees submit ideas for local businesses that they feel passionate about and want to support. They then reach out to those businesses to offer the program. For those who accept, Nemo creates three different designs that can be applied to T-shirts, hoodies and tote bags.
The businesses select a design and through a partnership with Pacific North Press, the designs are printed on merchandise. Nemo supplies the businesses with the social media assets to promote the merchandise and sell it through Pacific North Press’ online store. Proceeds from the sales go directly back to the partnering small businesses to help with pandemic relief.
Portland-based Nemo Design offers a variety of branding and design services and specializes in outdoor and active lifestyle brands for clients such as Nike, Alterra Mountain Company, MasterCraft, Danner, Rossignol and Sonos.
The agency was started in 1999 by three partners who worked together in the marketing department of Morrow Snowboards. The snowboarding industry was going through changes then and the trio decided to start their own design and marketing agency with skills they acquired through their experiences at Morrow.
Trevor Graves is president and co-founder of Nemo Design. In the ‘80s, he was drawn to the snowboarding community and discovered he had a talent behind the lens of a camera.
For the next 15 years, he shared the excitement of snowboarding around the globe through his photography, creating features for leading magazines covering the sport.
Some of Graves’ other accomplishments include helping Nike break into mainstream action sports with their Nike 6.0 brand and leadership in the marketing evolution of MasterCraft and Smith Optics.
Co-founder Jeff Bartel’s talent as a designer helped revitalized the Smith Optics brand, allowing the company to launch product lines in helmets and military eye wear.
As an art director, Bartel was instrumental in Nike’s athletic training line, helping it maintain its number one world ranking in the athletic training category.
Mark Lewman has been creating stories since starting his career as a journalist at 17 years old. As an editor, he has taken the helm at influential publications including Freestylin’, Dirt magazine and the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal.
As writer, Lewman has penned episodes for “Jackass” and “Wildboyz,” and co-authored BMX legend Mat Hoffman’s autobiography, The Ride of my Life, which he then adapted as a documentary for ESPN. Lewman is a partner and executive creative director at Nemo.
Nemo Design has been thrilled by the response of those who have embraced the PDX Creative Support Club. So far, they’ve raised nearly $12,000 that has gone directly back to these businesses.
Nemo has done a significant amount of pro bono work over the years and says their next venture will be helping a local nonprofit organization that focuses on voting, democracy, diversity and equality efforts.
Visit tinyurl.com/pdxcreativesupportclub to explore the collaborations that help support small businesses in Portland affected by COVID-19.
1875 SE Belmont St.
Nemo building exterior photo by Nemo Design