When Chris Duren, owner of Invisible Ink, decided to take the leap and start his own company 10 years ago, he never imagined his list of clients would include some of the Yakima Valley's most recognizable businesses.
Duren went into the business of helping other businesses succeed in 2008, offering web design services, branding strategy and print design. Since then, Invisible Ink has worked with the Capitol Theatre, Cowiche Canyon Kitchen, Columbia Valley Fruit and Bale Breaker Brewing Co., to name a few.
"We've been really fortunate to form such great relationships with our customers and work with them over the years," said Duren, a 1999 Selah High School graduate who attended Yakima Valley College and Central Washington University, focusing primarily on fine arts.
But after landing a job doing website work out of college in 2004, he realized he could go out on his own once he gained a few years of professional experience.
"One of our first projects was redoing Perry Tech's website," he said. "We landed big clients from the start, and that has kept moving us forward."
Even with all of their big-name projects, the company remains rather small, with just Duren, his wife and a programmer on staff. Sarah focuses on site support, product photography, billing and everything in between, while the programmer assists Duren on the technical side.
From the beginning, the goal of Invisible Ink was to build a platform that could offer customers exactly what they wanted in their website design.
Oftentimes, with development platforms such as WordPress.com and Wix.com, the user can be interrupted by program restrictions, limiting what they are able to accomplish. Duren said he wanted to avoid that altogether.
"We developed our own backend tool so that we wouldn't run into a conversation telling a customer we weren't sure if we could do something or not," he said. This way, we know exactly what we can offer, which means more customization."
Once a website is developed and designed, Duren then turns the reins over to the clients so they can update the content if they wish. The business owner is also encouraged to send edits to Duren's team if that works better for them, maximizing back-and-forth interactions between Invisible Ink and its clients.
In addition to designing websites, the company also offers hosting, search engine optimization and custom programming services. Their offline design services include logo design, the production of business cards and custom letterhead, product label design and more.
To maximize his effectiveness, Duren works with a skilled network of local photographers, videographers and other freelancers in the Valley. That way, if he can't complete a specific task, he has resources who can help complete the project.
"We have a network of creative people we can rely on," he said. "We know that Yakima prefers local. With these
connections, we're able to finish a project and have it be completed by a totally local team." Having a local web design firm is a big draw for many clients, Duren added.
"They don't have to worry about the time difference of working with a company on the opposite coast or in another country," he said. "We're right here in the Valley with them if they need help."
Duren's goal over the past 10 years has been to focus on local clients and stick with them as their businesses grow.
One of Invisible Ink's industries of focus has been agriculture, whether it's working with a large fruit company like Borton Fruit, redesigning a website for Graham Gamache's hops and apple farm Cornerstone Ranches or designing labels for a new winery, Bosma Estate Winery.
Continuing to work with Valley companies, such as longtime client Bale Breaker Brewing Co., has helped Invisible Ink keep growing. "We've been lucky enough to work with Bale Breaker since before they even opened," Duren said. "It's been amazing to see their well-deserved growth and to be a part of it."
Now with more than 100 clients, ranging from fruit conglomerates to taco trucks (such as Tacos Don Chayo), Duren can offer something valuable for any business owner.
"We've been unbelievably fortunate the last 10 years," he said. "Word of mouth has been incredibly powerful for our business. We owe a lot of it to the great clients we've been so lucky to work with."
Article written by Molly Allen at Yakima Valley Business Times
Posted December 07, 2018