At the beginning of Karma, we tried to pinpoint exactly who a typical Karma customer would be. Now that we are a few months in, we’ve come to realize one thing: there is no typical Karma customer. In order to express just how unique they are, we’re going to highlight some of them in a series of interviews. First up: Kingsley Harris, partner at Freshthrills.
Kingsley Harris, a Jamaican native, wasn’t always interested in design. He describes it as a “dormant part of me that eventually woke up.” Being a mostly self-taught designer who spent time in various positions, he knew he had to gain a deeper understanding beyond his improvised skill set. He eventually ended up at Pratt Institute, where he learned two significant lessons he still cherishes to this day:
- The importance of a strong foundation.
- The ability to go with your gut.
He then moved on to R/GA, an award-winning digital ad agency, where he really flourished.
“R/GA is by far the place that I learned and grew the most. The agency environment there taught me the value of mentorship and gave me the motivation and confidence to strive for the next level. I worked with a lot of amazing people, and I’m extremely proud to have had the opportunity to work there and grow so much.”
One thing he took away from R/GA was the confidence and tools to start his own studio. Running a design studio has many aspects to it beyond design, such as development, sales, and management. Kingsley credits his mentors and peers for this expanded set of skills.
After teaming up with his friend John, who also went to Pratt, the design studio Freshthrills was born.
“After I felt like I was ready to do something else, I was tempted to go to another agency and rise the ranks. Instead, John and I decided to take both our experience, his in product development and mine in digital advertising, and try to make a go at a studio that could blend the two.”
Freshthrills is currently focused on helping early-stage companies. When asked about the continual emergence of design and how it has recently become an integral aspect of startups and companies alike, Kingsley replied,
“A couple of years ago, the idea of democratized design started gaining prominence. It was a turning point and consumers started becoming more exposed to design. They became enabled with tools like iPhones, Tumblr, etc. to create. I think that raised the bar, of design and user experience, to a level that now must be attained in order to send the right signals to consumers. It must be clear that what they are being sold is going to be a long-lasting, honest and useful product, service or company.”
Kingsley was one of the very first Karma customers. “You were one of the finalists in Techstars, and my company wasn’t”, he jokes. As a consumer, Kingsley is always on the lookout for businesses with disruptive ideas. “Once I saw the product design I was sold. It just fit into my designed life. I measured it against what I think is good design: simple, honest and consistent.”
Kingsley refers to an article in Fast Company about how getting out of your normal work environment is good for you. Recently, at Freshthrills, he started Café Days.
"We pick days where we just café hop with Karma, be inspired, and work. If I can live in a world where I never have to worry about getting a wireless connection wherever I am, that would be a great thing."
We agree. Make sure you’re on the lookout for Kingsley around New York. You just might run into him. But if not, check out the newly designed Freshthrills!