Dotun Abeshinbioke is the owner and founder of New York’s bik Studio, which she created while studying graphic design at Parsons.
She started freelancing to build her portfolio, doing graphic design for T-shirts and brochures before building settings to display her images. She then started creating small-scale installations. She chose to turn her pastime into a business by starting bik Studio in November 2020.
“bik Studio was inspired by my traditional Yoruba name, which means ‘born to treasure’,” she noted on Business Insider. Her design firm specializes in branding, web design, and experiential design for clients in a wide range of creative disciplines. The company grew through word-of-mouth referrals, according to Abeshinbioke, and is now worth six figures.
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 credited the help of community members and social media followers for her transition from passion to vocation. She gained traction after posting more of her work on Instagram and connecting with others in the industry 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.
Several of her friends began referring her to other creatives, such as musicians in need of help with music video setups. One of her contacts, for example, recommended her to a production business that works with the rapper 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.
She began her career in music videos before moving on to work on work events, album covers, and brand activations before joining Creative Collective NYC, a networking platform for creative freelancers. Using CCNYC, she developed sets for large brands such as Foot Locker.
Abeshinbioke owes the success of her company to her organizational skills and diligence. It benefited her in assisting the people with whom she worked, she said.
“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.