We had the good fortune of connecting with Dustin Claridy and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dustin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Honestly, I never had an actual thought process. One day (I think it was around 2010), I literally sat down at my computer and taught myself how to use Photoshop and the rest is history. I’ve never taken any official classes or anything. Just watched tutorials on Youtube. And, I’ve been designing ever since. It’s been a journey. A journey that I never ever imagined. Growing up, my dream was to live in Los Angeles (it shall come to pass) and being a Pastor and Mortician. I remember as a child, I used to have church in my bedroom every single day. I was the praise team, the musician, and the preacher. I would make my younger brothers sit there as if they were my congregation. I never planned on or even thought about being a graphic designer. However, since I’ve started it has been an amazing journey. And the journey has brought me in front of major church and secular individuals. Some of my highest honors have been designing for my denomination, the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. (COGIC), I designed the official funeral programs for the late American soul and R&B singer, Betty Wright, Gospel music legend, Bishop Rance Allen, Bishop J. Delano Ellis, and various other men and women around the country. Every day, I thank and praise God for the gift that He has given me. My gift in graphic design has taken me to places and in front of people that I never imagined. Wow. What a journey.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a graphic designer, I am most proud of how my work has evolved over the years. Sometimes I find myself sitting and looking at flyers from when I first started like, “Ewwww. What were you thinking, Dustin?” LOL. But again, it’s been an amazing journey! I haven’t always dotted every I or crossed every t, but I’m grateful for the many chances. I’ve learned so many lessons during these last 11 years. One of the most important is communication. Being a graphic designer, you MUST communicate effectively and be timely. I haven’t always been good at either one but I’m working every day to perfect it. I often think about the many opportunities I could have missed out on because of the lack of communication.

So many people have told me over the years that my gift with design is more than a gift, it’s a ministry. I never really paid any attention to that until lately, especially when I design a funeral program. The best feeling in the world is designing a funeral program that brings the family to tears and comfort because it’s so beautiful and fits a person, who most of the time, I’ve never met in my life.

Success is never easy and you’ll have bad days. Just get back up and do it all over again but better than yesterday. Learn from the mistakes of yesterday. One of my favorites quotes says, “Turbulence is the price you pay for flying high.” – Bishop J. Drew Sheard

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite places in Dallas would be Deep Ellum! I love Deep Ellum. I love the culture, the vibe, the live music. It’s just an amazing area. I love eating at Razzoo’s, Shell Shack, and weekend brunch spots! And of course, you must check out my church when you’re in the city of Dallas… THEE Grace Cathedral Church Of God In Christ with Pastor Nathaniel Green! Dallas has been good to me and taught me some amazing things about myself. Thanks to Dallas, moving from home has caused me to grow up and evolve. Thank you, Dallas! Next and final stop, Los Angeles!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to shout out a few different people. Number one, GOD! Whew. I wouldn’t be here without Him. Number two, being my family. Man, I have the best family in the world. My mother and brothers, my late family that has gone on before us (Grannie, Gran, Grandma Glo, Aunt PatPat, and Aunt Melissa), my Aunt Marion (aka AuntieMama), all my cousins (these are more like sisters, Marion, Meredith, Carmen). They have always supported and encouraged me and tried to push me to be the best I could be. They always pushed me to leave home (Akron, Ohio), and moving to Dallas has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My extended family – The Bradfords, The DeJournetts, Ohio North First Jurisdiction, my home churches, Unity, Greater Holy Trinity, and St. Ashworth Temple. Next, would be my denomination, the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. (COGIC). Thank you for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities to make the church look good. I love this church with my whole heart and that will never change. Thank you for allowing me to work in just about every department in the church. Thank you to every department leader and our former Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. for allowing me to serve and our current Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard. I will never forget this memory… I was on vacation in Los Angeles, that Sunday night I attended West Angeles COGIC, pastored by Bishop Blake. After service was over, someone came to me and asked if I wanted to meet Bishop Blake… OF COURSE! They took me back to his office, we met then walked in Lady Mae Blake. We started walking around and talking, we passed a bulletin board that had one of my flyers hanging on it. I stopped and said, “That’s my work!”, she said, “really?”, I said, “yes!” Her next words blew me away and have stuck with me ever since… She said, “Oh my gosh! We’ve been looking for you. Bishop and I love this flyer and your work is impeccable.” I was just so shocked that they had my little flyer hanging up in their office. I would also like to shout out my amazing group of friends… Man! Every last one of you are amazing! You pushed me to be where I am and to be better at what I do. Thank you! Shout out to every person who had any and everything negative to say about me. You made me better. You made me keep pushing even when I didn’t feel like it. You made me love what I do even more. And to EVERY single client that I’ve had in these last 11 years… THANK YOU!

Instagram: @dustin.claridy @suite_1741

Facebook: Dustin T. Claridy or Suite 1741, LLC

Other: Email: suite1741@gmail.com

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