If you ask Kristen and Ryan Bunnell, owners and operators of Ignition Graphix, how their business came to be they’ll tell you “it’s a love story.” It’s not quite a love story you would see on the Hallmark channel about a boy and girl falling in love, but there is that too. Rather, their story begins when they fell in love with the Heber Valley.
“We didn’t choose to start our business in Heber. We fell in love with Heber and consequently we started our business here,” says Kristen.
When Ryan and Kristen moved to the valley they didn’t know each other. As outdoor enthusiasts, they were drawn to the Heber Valley. Kristen loves the mountain views, the small-town feeling, and being outside. Ryan as an experienced ski instructor and fly fishing guide found the valley to be the perfect place for both of his passions.
Here’s where the Hallmark story comes in. Kristen and Ryan met in the Heber Valley and as they dated they fell in love. They were married in 2009, and if planning a wedding wasn’t stressful enough later that year they ventured out on their own to start a new business: Ignition Graphix.
Some people tried to dissuade them from starting a business together, but they have found they can make it work and be successful at it. Like most marriages, each spouse brings different strengths, and working in those strengths creates unity. It has been similar in their business life.
“We have designed the company so that we really have unique roles,” says Ryan. “We’ll brainstorm together and we do collaborate on certain projects, but we have different responsibilities.”
Dividing up the areas of work has helped them find the right balance. Kristen, who spent six years as a freelance graphic designer before Ignition, handles all the design and artwork. Before Ignition, Ryan spent years in retail learning a lot about business management and web design. As much as a sports team has different players and roles, so do Kristen and Ryan which gives them a strong partnership and marriage.
Life as business partners and husband and wife has its challenges. Ignition Graphix started in their home in 2009 in a small 10 by 10 room. Kristen recalls times when the tight office would cause some tension. Having more space at the Heber Main Street office has made things easier on their relationship says Kristen.
Operating a business out of their home worked for a while, but disrupted the work/family life balance.
“During our home office days we’d start the day at 5 am answering emails and ended the day at midnight answering emails,” says Ryan.
They found other challenges to operating out of their home. Producing a high-quality product with quick turn arounds has always been at the heart of their business. Operating out of their home with their team in a virtual workspace wasn’t working either. After a few years they took steps to create a space where they could gather as a team and help separate work from home life. In 2012, the Bunnells purchased and began renovating an office space on Heber City Main Street where they are now currently located.
The impetus to start Ignition Graphix came from Kristen and Ryan’s desire to help other businesses in Heber Valley succeed.
“We love this valley so much. There is so much talent in this valley we want to see others succeed,” says Kristen.
For Kristen and Ryan attention to detail, producing quality materials in a timely and economical manner has been their mission. Today, Ignition Graphix has grown to seven employees and provides design, web and print services. They have grown from a company that serves the Heber Valley to serving clients throughout the Wasatch front and back.
Though their love story isn’t ending any time soon, as long as the Bunnells are in the Heber Valley doing something they love - it looks to be happily ever after.