What started out as a gift for Stacy Schaffer-Helmer’s Siberian husky inspired the professional graphic designer to pursue a new career opportunity as owner and lead designer of Gozo Dog Collars.
“My husband had recently returned from a business trip and brought home a new collar that he purchased at an expensive boutique in Southern California,” said Schaffer-Helmer. “I was impressed with the unique color scheme and that it looked nothing like what the ‘big box’ store offered. This moved me to design and assemble my own collar.
“One year later, after countless trials and tribulations, I had my first batch of designs to share. I’ve made these available online (www.gozodog.com) as well as through a local dog training business ( Fido Training), which has allowed me to create exclusive designs that the owner can sell to her clients.”
Prior to launching her own business, Schaffer-Helmer worked as a graphic designer at CBS Outdoor, one of the world’s largest out-of-home media companies. In 2008, she received the CBS Big Crayon Award for billboards designed for Asian Marketplace, an award that is only given to one artist or creative department across the US and Canada each quarter. Her position at CBS Outdoor gave Schaffer-Helmer experience ensuring clients’ advertising messages connect with consumers in a powerful, direct way while facing challenges associated with speed, distance, size and the surrounding environment of billboards she created.
“Originally, I went into this business because I though it would be fun,” said Schaffer-Helmer. “But eventually it became the challenge of catching the viewers’ attention that intrigued me the most. Sometimes, part of that challenge involved balancing the needs of the client with what makes good outdoor advertising.
“For example, I’ve worked with clients who think that because we design with such a large amount of space, we can include a lot of information. But as consumers pass by billboards on the freeway, they don’t have time to understand the message, yet alone connect with it. In many cases involving out-of-home advertising, less is more.”
In addition to designing and promoting Gozo Dog Collars, Schaffer-Helmer has worked as a freelance designer on several projects. For Prop Art Studio, she completed a redesign of their website and produced postcards for their recent projects. She’s also been involved with local initiatives on the Detroit area.
“Over the last few years, I’ve done several non-profit projects,” said Schaffer-Helmer. “As part of the Tiger Town Street Art project for the Children’s Charities Coalition held in Birmingham, I designed and constructed ‘Tee Off Tiger.’ The stripes on the tiger were created from golf tees. I had to drill thousands of holes into the molded figure in order for me to insert them. The tail was reconstructed to create a golf tee. The base was wrapped with artificial grass and a club in hand.
“I also did a project for the Detroit Artists Market called That DAM Box Show. Each artist received one film reel-shipping box and was expected to create something. I turned mine into a mini Koi pond/structure. I transformed the bottom of the box into a glass mosaic of a Koi pond, and the top of the box became a roof that housed the structure around the pond. DAM boxes were auctioned and proceeds benefited the Detroit Artists Market.
“As you can see, my range of design experience ranges beyond just graphic design/advertising. I sometimes like to get my hand dirty.”