Kendra Beavis: The Psychology of Design
For Kendra Beavis, CEO of MOKA Creative, great design begins with understanding the client’s core motivations and operating from a place of mutual trust and respect. “I really enjoy understanding why people make the choices they do,” said Beavis. “I like doing a deep dive into the psychology behind decisions and understanding their influence and motivations.”
Beavis is a bit of a Renaissance Woman. She dabbles in podcasting, writing, and promoting female empowerment and representation in the design world. She also runs MOKA Creative. “I am passionate about helping women find joy in life and their careers,” she said. As for Beavis’ own successful trajectory, her formula is deceptively simple and effective. “I make decisions that are in alignment with my life goals and basic core beliefs,” she said.
She knew she wanted to be a designer at a young age, following in the artistic footsteps of her grandmother and mother. “I was always creative. I had stacks of sketchbooks and was always drawing or painting,” she said. Her memorable introduction to fine art came when her grandmother took her to the Frick Museum in Manhattan. Although Beavis was too young to enter the museum properly, she saw Edgar Degas’ ballerinas paintings in the entrance. It was a game-changer. “It makes me emotional now just thinking about it,” she said. “I became a lover of all creative mediums. Music, painting, sculpture, acting... I was obsessed. I knew I had found a world that I wanted to be a part of in some way.”
Beavis attended UARTS, Philadelphia College of Art and Design, and immediately found herself captivated by the city’s artistic and creative vibe. “I was there in 1998, which was a great time for the city,” she said. “It was brimming with culture and being an art student, a perfect place to be inspired and nurture creative talent.” Her graphic design program was heavily influenced by the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, which focuses on perfecting the basics. She was also able to interact with many innovative and cutting-edge designers like Debroah Drodvillo, Richard Felton, Hans Allemann, Chris Zelinski, Inge Druckrey, and Chris Meyers. Beavis’ education gave her both a stable design base and the critical thinking skills needed to make her mark on the design world.
She already had acute customer relationship skills from a childhood spent working at the family business. Beavis, a Long Island, NY native, learned about client care at a young age at McCarrick's Dairy; a family-owned milk delivery and deli built by Beavis’ great-grandfather. Her youthful work at the family business gave Beavis both the insight and drive to succeed in running her own. “Growing up, my cousins, local kids, and I worked at the store,” she said. “It was here that I learned about customer service, business management, team development, and so much more. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I also knew that someday I would run my own business.”
Beavis’ childhood impacts how she deals with clients today, and she even uses some of the language of her youth when referring to customer care. “My dad always said, if someone came to the store to complain about their milk being sour, you listen without stopping them. You let them know you hear them and solve the problem. This is exactly what I do in the case of a client criticizing something.”
Beavis also employs her expert people skills and psychology to smooth out client relationships and set expectations. “Being a great designer is part creative talent and part psychology,” Beavis said. “I once had a client fly off the handle because the color blue I used reminded her of the color her ex-husband painted their dining room.” This nuanced and perceptive approach coupled with Beavis’ natural talent truly helps set MOKA Creative in a class of its own.
She also believes in digging deep right off the bat. “I ask a lot of questions upfront. My goal is to understand the problem from all sides and then come up with a solution that lives at the intersection of form and function,” she said. “The idea of less is more is the basis for my design practice. If you don't have a reason for an element in the design, it doesn't need to be there. Design isn't decoration; it’s the most eloquent visual expression of something.”
Beavis’ star is just beginning to rise. She’s publishing a book this year and has her sights set on doing a TED Talk in the future. She believes in taking immediate action to get what you want. “Take charge now. Get laser-focused on what it is you want and create an action plan to get there. That's all there is to it. It's all inside you. You just have to pull it out and find the confidence to follow your gut,” she said.
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