Passion projects can lead to success. Look at Dotun Abeshinbioke, owner of Ábiké Studio in New York, whom Insider says turned a college hobby into a six-figure business.
“Three years ago, I was studying graphic design at the Parsons School of Design, and I started freelancing as a way to build out my portfolio,” Abeshinbioke said. “I initially started doing design work for T-shirts and flyers, then I started designing sets to showcase my photography.”
After transitioning to small-scale installation work, Abeshinbioke moved into her creative brand in November 2020, inspired by her traditional Yoruba name, meaning “born to treasure.”
With limited funds, Abeshinbioke sought out cheap alternatives for the sets that inspired her, using materials from discount and hardware stores.
“The help of community members and social-media followers is what shifted my transition from passion to profession. I gained traction when I started sharing more of my work on Instagram and connecting with industry peers there,” she said, adding that she would go live to show her building process.
The posts circulated and businesses started to hire Abeshinbioke for jobs in addition to her friends who would refer her to other creatives seeking design for projects such as music videos.
“One of my followers referred me to the production studio working with the artist Fabolous. He had a song with Davido and Jeremih, and the video shoot was in New York,” Abeshinbioke shared. “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.”
Following the project, Abeshinbioke’s efforts expanded to album covers, work events, and brand activations, leading to higher rates.
“As the work progressed, the budgets of set design projects began to range between around $5,000 and $10,000,” she said.
Business escalated for Abeshinbioke in 2021 after connecting with Creative Collective NYC (CCNYC), a networking platform and production agency for creative freelancers to connect with partners. This opened the door for her to build sets for Foot Locker.
Abeshinbioke’s other work includes designing for the #REELJOLLOF Ghana versus Nigeria basketball game, the Billionaire Boys Club, Pokémon, the New York Yankees, and CCNYC’s 2022 CultureCon event.
Abeshinbioke has hired two graphic designer, a project manager, and collaborates with contractors and freelancers on branding and web design for projects.