Growing Your Design Business

Loie fuller panel

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses invites you for cocktails and conversation with local prominent designers about how to grow your design business. Our speakers are three design business owners who graduated from the 10,000 Small Businesses program, Christine West of Kite Architects, Dan Wood of DWRI Letterpress, and Aja Blanc of Ben & Aja Blanc. Our host, Bryan Gibb, co-owner of Knead Doughnuts and Bolt Coffee, is also a 10,000 Small Businesses alumnus.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at CCRI is a no-cost 12-week program that helps small businesses grow through a practical business education, increased access to capital, and a support network of advisers and peers.

Over 7,000 small business owners have participated nationwide and in the U.K., and the program continues to expand. With a 99% graduation rate, business owner participants are translating the knowledge they gain from the program into increased revenue and job growth — within just six months of graduating, 69% of participants have increased their revenues, and 48% have created new jobs.

The educational curriculum, developed by Babson College, focuses on practical skills that can immediately be applied by business owners — including accounting, negotiating, marketing, human resources management, and much more. Business owners also receive one-on-one mentoring from a dedicated business advisor, and develop a growth plan specific to their business.

Eligible applicants must be the business owner, have at least 2 employees (can include the owner), have been in operation at least 2 years, made at least $100,000 in gross revenue in the most recent fiscal year, and must be located in Rhode Island. See full program details here.

These events are being recorded and photographed. By attending, you give your consent to be photographed, filmed, taped, and/or recorded.


Christine M. West

KITE Architects

Christine M. West, AIA is a Principal and Co-Owner of KITE Architects in Providence, a full-service architecture firm founded in 1974. Along with her partner and co-Owner Albert Garcia, AIA and their talented and growing staff, they look for opportunities to steer their work towards projects that have a positive community impact and make progress toward a more resilient Rhode Island.

She moved to Providence to join KITE Architects and started a fruitful collaboration with Albert in 2003. After 9 years working as an architect in Washington DC, Christine had felt frustrated with the lack of innovation and movement toward more sustainable efforts in architecture, so in 2002 she undertook post-professional studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where her focus was how small architectural practices and business systems can foster innovation.

Locally, Christine currently serves as Chair of the Providence City Plan Commission, President of Providence Revolving Fund, is the architect member of both the State Building Code Commission and the Providence Building Board of Review. She serves as chair on accreditation visits of the National Architectural Accreditation Board across the USA and abroad, and previously has been president and board member of American Institute of Architects RI chapter (2010), trustee of the Providence Preservation Society, and the Providence Downtown Design Review Committee. As a longtime supporter of DESIGNxRI, she has devoted energy to promoting thoughtful and innovative design, including moderating the opening session of the 2018 PVD Ideas Conference.

Dan Wood

DWRI Letterpress

Dan Wood is an artist, printer, and the founder of DWRI Letterpress in Providence, Rhode Island. After studying history at McGill University in Montreal, he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994 in printmaking. He began his printing career immediately after, working as an offset press operator for 10 years in commercial print shops up and down the East Coast, while simultaneously printing letterpress and offset lithographic stationery and fine art projects for himself and others. In 2002, he re-inaugurated his shop as DWRI Letterpress, and has been working collaboratively with other artists, designers, individuals, and businesses looking for their distinctive blend of fine letterpress printing, commercial letterpress work, and fine art editions. A critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, he continues to make and show his own work, which is represented in collections including Wheaton College, The New York Public Library, and the RISD Museum of Art, as well as working with local non-profit and social justice organizations to share the knowledge and possibilities of letterpress printing with as broad a population as possible. He recently completed the Goldman Sachs 10ksb Program at CCRI with Cohort 5.

(Photo credit Natasha Moustache Photography)

Aja Blanc

Ben & Aja Blanc

Aja Blanc is a designer and studio owner, who along with her design partner and husband Ben Blanc, produce sculptural lighting, furniture and objects for the world’s most sought after interior designers and discerning consumers of contemporary design. Their objects are reflective of a rich personal creative practice - infusing their work with a stark, modern style paired with handcrafted technique. Since founding their own studio, Ben and Aja Blanc have caught the attention of buyers and critics. Their work has been featured in the “WILD” exhibition at Paris’ Maison & Objet, NYC Design Week and at the Architectural Digest Home & Design Show. Their unique aesthetic has been recognized by a range of top-tier publications including The New York Times, Elle Décor and Sight Unseen, where they appeared in the 2015 American Design Hotlist.