Today marks a big day in the history of Oxide Design Co. — we’re celebrating fifteen years in business! It sounds cliché, but it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. I can still clearly recall those first days of sitting in the big, empty Oxide office at 4013 Farnam Street, wondering how I was going to keep myself busy.

Commemorative poster for Oxide Design Co.’s 15th anniversaryCommemorative poster for Oxide Design Co.’s 15th anniversary

I’m not even sure what I expected Oxide would be after fifteen years, but I could hardly have dreamed of being where we’re at now. Oxide has grown to five full-time employees, we’ve won every design award I could hope for, and we continue to improve voting across the United States as a nationally-recognized expert on ballot and election design. (And the last few years have taught me that five people is the perfect size to accomplish everything we want to as a firm, but still allow me to be a part of the day-to-day design process.)

I won’t drag you too far down memory lane, but suffice it to say we’ve had our trials and tribulations, along with unexpected surprises and joyous successes. We’ve generated a lot of design work that I’m immensely proud of, and I continue to love coming to work every day. We’ve even accomlished the honor of having our work featured in the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt design musuem. Even more importantly, the great team we have at Oxide makes me excited for what we’ll be able to accomplish in the future.

A few different people have asked me what I’m most proud of having done over the fifteen years (other than simply keeping a small business running and vibrant for well past the national average). For me, it’s being able to do something I love in support of the causes I believe in. I’m happy to say that it’s becoming more fashionable for service-oriented businesses to donate some of their time to charitable causes, with some national movements suggesting design firms give 10% of their time to non-profits. But since the very first days of Oxide, employing design in support of others has been about more than meeting quotas or doing the bare minimum.

I’m very proud to say that over half of Oxide’s yearly business is pro bono — design work we do for free or at reduced rates for charitable organizations we think are doing great things in the world. Over the years we’ve worked with a wide range of non-profit organizations including Nebraska AIDS Project, Omaha Community Foundation, Film Streams, Refugee Empowerment Center, Project Interfaith, Citizens for Equal Protection, Omaha Performing Arts, Nebraskans for Civic Reform, Omaha Zoo Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Word Made Flesh, Maha Music Festival, and too many others to list.

I’ll also note that Oxide would not be where we are today without a great set of corporate clients, from one-person startups to Fortune 200 companies. Their trust in our abilities has allowed us to create effective design solutions to help them achieve their business goals.

Thank you to all of our clients, partners, vendors, supporters, and friends who have helped us achieve this great milestone!