Dotun Abeshinbioke is the founder and owner of bik Studio in New York, a company she started while studying graphic design at the Parsons School of Design.
According to her, she started freelancing as a way to build out her portfolio; doing design work for T-shirts and flyers before designing sets to showcase her photography. She then went into small-scale installation work. By November 2020, she decided to turn her hobby into a business by launching bik Studio.
“bik Studio was inspired by my traditional Yoruba name, which means ‘born to treasure’,” she noted on Business Insider. Her creative studio is into branding, web design, and experiential design for clients across creative fields. Abeshinbioke said the company has grown through word-of-mouth referrals and today, it is a six-figure business.
Noting how her journey began, Abeshinbioke narrated, “for a while, the work was mostly for me, and initially, I hadn’t imagined doing it for paying clients. My funds were very limited as a student, so if I wanted to shoot something, I’d seek out cheap alternatives to the sets that inspired me, like the curtains and checkered flooring that the Malian photographer Malick Sidib uses.
“I found materials, like peel-and-stick flooring and fabrics, at discount and hardware stores and purchased things I could return later to keep my overhead low.”
She said the help of community members and social media followers is what shifted her transition from passion to profession. She gained traction when she started sharing more of her work on Instagram and connecting with industry peers there.
“I used to go live on Instagram to show the process of building out my sets, then shared the images on my page the next day. My followers loved this content, especially during the pandemic. These posts would be sent around and eventually shared with people who hired me for jobs later on,” she said.
Some of her friends started referring her to other creatives, including artists who needed help with sets for music videos. For instance, one of her friends referred her to the production studio working with the artist Fabolous.
“He had a song with Davido and Jeremih, and the video shoot was in New York. They needed a set and had seen my work. They gave me a budget up front, which I divided up based on the cost of materials and labor,” she noted.
From music videos, she started working on work events, album covers, and brand activations before joining Creative Collective NYC, a networking platform for creative freelancers. Through CCNYC, she built sets for major brands like Foot Locker.
Abeshinbioke attributes the success of her company to her organizational skills and diligence. According to her, it helped her serve the people she worked with.
“This became valuable as I merged all the freelance work that I was doing into one distinguishable brand. I still lead most of the day-to-day work, but I now have two graphic designers who I hired in 2022 and a project manager. On a project basis, I bring on other contractors and freelancers to collaborate on branding and web design,” she said.