Suburbia Studios began as a solution to a challenge. The founders, Mary-Lynn and Russ, were busy growing their careers at multinational advertising agencies. All was well until they had children (amazing how that happens!). Long commutes and demanding hours made the idea of balance and meaningful time with the kids impossible. In 1989, after much discussion and planning, Suburbia was born (yes, in the suburbs), and it became one of the first home-based, virtual communications firms in Canada.
Business flourished, but in a way that enabled the partners to spend quality time with their kids and be part of their lives. The years flew by and the kids grew. Business continued to grow, the team expanded, and Mary-Lynn and Russ decided that to manage the growth, they had to move out of their home and into a “real office.” The next adventure was to build a building in a spectacular rural setting.
Once settled into the new space in 2000, another challenge emerged—the need for more talent to support the growth of the business. In the early part of the decade, Suburbia strengthened its team by bringing on board several other senior team members with experience in an array of categories and markets, and most importantly, the ability to generate, develop and implement fresh ideas.
Another challenge that emerged during growth: the need for better management tools to help run the company more effectively. Mary-Lynn searched for a management tool designed specifically for the needs and budget of a smaller creative company, but to no avail. Perfect—a challenge! Suburbians always love finding new ways to solve problems. Therefore, why not build a product from scratch? Suburbia went to work and the entire team contributed to creating a new online management tool. FunctionFox was born and launched in 2001. Today, FunctionFox is a double-digit growth company doing business in 93 countries around the world, and is the leading online software tool used by small creative companies in North America.
As the agency continued to thrive, it became clear that an expertise in working with clients from the retail, shopping centre, financial and health and wellness sectors was forming. A commitment to developing and implementing fresh, strategic ideas has led to a long track record of meeting and surpassing client expectations, to recognition for marketing effectiveness by leadership groups such as the ICSC, GDC and AIME, and to many wonderful longstanding client relationships.
What's ahead for Suburbia? Always ready for the next challenge, it continues to carefully grow its client mix and areas of expertise. Work hard, play hard continues to be important. And of course, it always has a couple of “pet” projects percolating. After all, it's what Suburbians thrive on, and we're willing to bet that at least one of these ideas will be a hit in the years ahead.