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Behind a design studio

By OLEEN FLORENDO, The Philippine Star Published Jul 23, 2021 6:00 am

How many of us have dreamed of putting up a business with our friends? Chances are, most of us have gone through the motions of talking and planning it out, but the real challenge comes in solidifying these ideas into reality. It’s tough and requires a lot of grit, but this design studio proves it’s more than possible.

What seemed like a passing conversation during their university days became a window for brands to tell their stories through meaningful visual impressions. The story behind Simmer Studios proves how paths to our goals may be non-linear, but somehow come together at the right time.

Inside the world of brand identities, design revisions, and client meetings, Simmer Studios, with a core team that hails from Miriam College, is shaping up to be a mover in their field. In just a few years, they have served branding to key media personalities, publications, and lifestyle brands.

For 24-year-old CEO and creative director R.k. De la Rosa, her one-year stint in her former office job wasn’t solely to jumpstart her design studio — it established her work ethic, and equipped her with the mindset to work towards her creative dreams. And more than Simmer Studios making a name for itself, R.k. has been unwavering in building a community for creatives. 

We talked to R.k. to learn about their studio’s beginnings and her personal motivations to keep creating.

YOUNG STAR: Tell us about how Simmer Studios started. What made you take the leap to start your own design studio?

R.K. DE LA ROSA: The idea started when I was in college. We were a group of friends. We used to work in groups, so we know how each one of us works and what our specific skills are. I was the one who said, “This is already perfect. This is a team that can work in the future.” But that thought didn’t hold much for a long time. After college, I wanted us to experience what it’s like to start from the bottom, which means working for other companies. 

 R.k. with Simmer Supply co-head SJ Gulmatico

In my one year in corporate, I learned a lot in terms of how to run my own design studio. I was also transparent with my bosses, (explaining) that I’d be leaving soon. When I started Simmer, two lang kami na walang full-time jobs. Then recently, my college friends resigned from their work and it was just a perfect time when we came together. 

Can you share the idea behind Simmer Studios’ branding?

The name is a fusion for my love for food and design. We decided to connect design terms to cooking, which you can see in our tagline: “Serving Brands that Suit your Taste.” We consider design as an artwork, an intricate dish. Like cooking a dish, it takes time, precision and creativity. We also connected it to a menu. We offer a main course, appetizer, and if you want solo design services, you can get our à la carte service. 

What was your biggest insight, from your transition from an office job to handling your own team of designers and interns?

I’d really recommend that if you want to start your own studio, you start from the very bottom. It builds your discipline. You learn to listen, you learn to follow others’ suggestions, eventually learning to listen to your clients. They’re your bosses now.

If ‘di ako nag-corporate, I’d probably start na mataas tingin sa sarili. It felt important to begin that way, so when we would have our own employees, we would know how to empathize with what they feel. There’s something to learn in first being an employee before becoming an employer. 

In one tweet, you wrote “Community over competition.” How did you build this type of mindset? 

This is a very personal thing for me. Since I’m a self-taught artist, I don’t really have anyone to talk to about design. On Twitter, ang daming magagaling and I’m just stunned at how great the artists are. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone. 

When Simmer got stable and we had more on the team, I set another goal, which is to create a design community. I wanted to make it personal so I used my @rkreate account. Not a lot of people share their knowledge when it comes to branding so nauna ako.

I wanted to teach branding fundamentals using the work I made for “The Nerdy Derma.” When she retweeted it, I received messages where I learned that a lot of people wanted to get into branding. They were asking “How can I learn more, Ms. R.k.?” With their requests, I started putting out more design threads, so they wouldn’t be locked in this “Ano gagawin ko next?” mindset. 

With the toxic side of social media, do you think creatives should still build their online platforms? 

Socmed is important. It can be toxic when you use it to compare yourself to others. Simmer had no followers at all when it started. I started posting for @rkreate during #PortfolioDay. It didn’t go viral but it got noticed by some personalities. Dra. Gia Sison replied with an invitation for a collaboration. She was Simmers’ first client.

After attending to her design and passion projects, she was so happy about the results and, in turn, we got a lot of connections from her. From one social media post, it branched out to different opportunities. So, use it with a purpose. Don’t obsess about getting a lot of engagement agad. Learn to be patient and not compare yourself to others who are already in their Day 100 while you’re only on your Day 1.

Where do you pull inspiration from?

I used to look at design every day and look at artists that I’m inspired by. It doesn’t matter what kind of platform or software they’re using, their output is always inspiring. I just immerse myself in, “Oh, this is what good design looks like.” Natuto ako by doing that and aaralin ko, “How did they make this?” I go to Google or YouTube and search, “How was this specific design created?”

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring designer/ artist, what would it be?

If they want to have their own studio, I’d really encourage them. We start our businesses, not because we want to get ahead of someone else. People would ask, “Ms. R.k., what’s my first step?” When you put your heart into something, with the intention to build great visions, you can manifest great things.

See the works of Simmer Studios at and of R.k. at