About This Project

Carly Ayres is a writer, creative director and co-founder of HAWRAF – a New York based design studio that created work for brands like Google, Hasbro, Facebook and Buzzfeed. Carly is very good at getting attention online – which is how we discovered her work a while back (and put her on the list of people I’d like to interview).  When we knew we were taking the show to New York we looked her up again and saw that she and her partners were very publicly closing their studio, so this was a super interesting time to grab Carly and talk about her journey, becoming a freelancer, setting up her own business and then shutting it down, even with a million dollar deal on the table.




“I always say half the challenge is just reminding people you exist. Because again, people are busy, they have a lot of fucking emails// I used to use boomerang and I’d have certain emails that pop back into my inbox every six months and just remind me to check back in on certain relationships or people. You’d run in to people at parties who’d be like “Ah! I just hired a digital agency. I was trying to think; who makes cool interactive work and totally forgot about you!” And you’d just be like; cool, cool, cool, cool cool, thanks for that. But yeah, people are busy it’s just constantly reminding them and getting that awareness back up.”


“For us, in starting a studio there was so much we didn’t know and it was so hard to find that information. Even in conversations I think a lot of people play that stuff pretty close to the vest. And the point, like creative process, like that A-Z project was born out of the idea that all these studios had this ‘Creative Process’ (in quotations) and they wouldn’t put it online but it was like this ‘marketable’ skill set that you could only go to them and get it and it was behind closed doors and all this yada yada which I think a larger conversation would be;  it damages our industry to make design so inaccessible and treat it like it’s some sort of magic bag of skills that you can only get if you work at one of these elite design studios or you have this super fancy schmancy design education and it makes it really hard to advocate and negotiate for the very real tangible value of that skill.”


” I still get angry about it and I shouldn’t get angry about it but I feel like starting out I had this idea of this bar that was so high and I was like; the bar is so high. How do I get to that bar? And I’m talking to other design studio founders, I’m talking to all these other creative practitioners, talking to them about what we’re working on and taking notes at all these coffees and meeting and I think it was like a year later I met back up with one of them and I was like “well we got the health insurance, we did this, we’re making this much per year” and he’s like “you have health insurance?!” and I was just like; “you motherfucker..! Are you fucking kidding me? You don’t have health insurance?”// I thought the bar was here and the bars on the floor and we’re somewhere in between, we’re doing fine.”