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AIGA Event Series: INSIDE

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Unveiling Methods Behind Studio Growth, featuring The Charles Group founder Aaron Edwards

On October 27-28 at Parsons, The New School, The Charles Group founder and CEO, Aaron Edwards joined a select list of speakers at AIGA’s INSIDE talk.

As part of an event series, this INSIDE talk focused on how up-and-coming creative agencies can develop a vision to reach their next stage of success, with all proceeds donated to AIGA’s nonprofit organization.

Whether audience members were agency veterans or curious about media work, there was plenty of valuable insight to inspire any level of leadership or stage of company development. Over the course of two days, guests were treated to behind-the-scenes stories from industry influencers and break-out stars. As experts in the ever-shifting media landscape, Keynote speakers shared the origins of their businesses and how they solidified their own business plans. 

When asked about the very beginnings of The Charles Group, Edwards recounted building an agency from the ground up, starting with only one designer–as well as how he and his sister initially came to work together: 

“My sister and I always wanted to work together but never knew how that would come about. She being a creative person, me being a business person. And when I had this idea that we could start an agency called The Charles, after our grandfather, she was like, “Yeah, sounds great! How the hell are you going to do that? You’re a finance guy.” 

Edwards emphasized the importance of setting things in motion by creating a business plan–a tip that he said can be used by anyone looking to see how well they understand a topic. 

“What’s fantastic about writing a business plan is it really allows you to understand what you don’t know. We don’t know what we don’t know until we start, so if you think you know something, write a business plan because that will tell you if you’re correct.”

Edwards chatted about the process of finding new brands to partner with, choosing new projects and the highs and lows of studio life.

When first contacted by AIGA to speak at the event series, Edwards was asked to share what first drew him to digital advertising:

“As a kid, I was always trying to figure out how to beat the AI in video games. I grew up playing Donkey Kong on my Atari, and I’m still an avid gamer. I have always challenged myself to beat gaming algorithms, and I guess that’s why I love digital so much because there is no set formula for success. It’s trial and error, it’s iterative and it’s unforgiving.”