Our Story: How two creatives built a multinational web design agency.
We are people creating websites, developing brands, and building e-commerce stores for people like you.
We are the little agency that could.
Lots of caffeine
A dash of attitude
A pinch of luck
Combine ingredients in a large studio, mix well and simmer until creative sparks fly.
It took blood, sweat, and tears. Still, we followed our dream and turned a small freelance design studio into a multinational WordPress web design agency working with global businesses and product brands. Along the way we made a lot of friends, and learned a lot about ourselves, and the creative world all around us. Ganbatte, ne!
It all started with four cats.
It all started more or less as a joke. Our founders, Japanese and German photographers and designers lived with their four cats in Seattle in the 1990s. We did freelance photography and design jobs for friends and neighbors to earn extra money.
One day we discussed a name for our little startup and settled on Hungry Cats Imagine. As in hungry cats imagine you hiring us so we can earn money to feed them! The name was an immediate hot. Our friends and clients loved it!
it's now or never
Fast forward to 2004. we just moved into a beautiful (and huge) loft in Seattle's Pioneer Square district. Plenty of room for our photo studio and design agency. We even named our new business after it: Studio 5.
Then one of us got laid off from a big creative agency. Well, the timing seemed right to start our agency. And we could rely on each other's support. "You did what?! Are you out of your friggin mind?!" Well, we got our first big client and never looked back.
who the hell is Studio 5?
Our first big design project was the design of a new property brochure for a hotel in our neighborhood. The project included taking pictures of local attractions and businesses. It seemed like a great way to meet potential new clients.
Our client suggested that we donate an item for the annual holiday raffle. Great idea! Let's do it! We came up with what we thought was a great design package and eagerly awaited it being raffled off. But we were not well known at the time. The first words from the MC when she announced our item were "Who the hell is Studio 5?"
a chance meeting
One day we ran into our upstairs neighbor at the local print shop. We had passed each other on the stairs, but never talked very much. He needed a CD cover designed, which the print shop could not do. Eager for business, we offered our services. What we thought was simply a quick job was the start of something big!
It turned out that our neighbor was a big shot in the marketing world. The chance meeting in the print shop led to working on projects for Nike, Quiksilver Roxy, and Pony International! And the start of a unique and lasting friendship. Thank you, Richard!
expanding our skills
Initially, we focused strictly on product and location photography and graphic design for print applications. But that did not last long. Our growing list of clients meant providing new and additional services.
For many of our clients, we became their trusted go-to resource for all their creative needs. Soon we managed their projects, developed partnerships with vendors and service providers, and expanded our reach. Press checks at 6 AM and developing brand style guides became routine.
the coffee shop days
We often met with our clients in coffee shops at a mutually convenient location, preferably with easy freeway access and plenty of parking during these early days. By being flexible and willing to meet clients at or near their location we made it more convenient for them, which led to more business for us.
Soon we developed a list of favorite coffee shops across Seattle and Bellevue, and became known as the "highly caffeinated agency!" There were other "tasty" benefits as well; at one meeting the client bought an entire box of French pastries to take back to our team!
wearing big boy pants
Over time we grew into a small but innovative professional web design agency from our humble beginnings. Our service offerings quickly expanded to include web design and development services. As a result, we attracted a more extensive and diverse range of clients. And soon, we began to work with clients from across the US and beyond.
As our clients asked us to help them with different aspects of their creative projects, we also had to expand our service offerings. From copywriting and content editing to website hosting and support, and even social media marketing and search engine optimization we did it all.
time to refocus
Being a big agency was fun and exciting, up to a point. But soon, we were so busy managing teams and projects that we had little or no time to focus on what mattered to us, great design! As a result, much of what we did had nothing to do with creativity.
Instead of offering all services in-house, we decided to focus strictly on web design and development, including related services such as web hosting and SEO. Everything else we outsourced to specialized service providers. The results included better service for our clients, and more fun for us!
a new type of agency
Over the years, we faced many challenges and exciting opportunities. And as a result, we had to reinvent ourselves a few times. When another creative agency nearby had a similar name we decided to rebrand. This allowed us to stand out in our market as a unique, innovative agency.
Being a big agency never appealed to us. Designing 500 websites that all looked the same was not for us. Nor did we want to work with every type of brand or business. So instead, we carefully selected the clients we work with and created elegant solutions tailored to their audience and expectations.
In 2018 our founders moved to Japan and established a second studio in addition to our team in Seattle. Most Japanese businesses have outdated websites in a modern and advanced country. Being multilingual gave us the advantage of introducing Japanese brands to audiences in North America and Europe.
Two years later, we formed a strategic partnership with a European design agency to expand our reach. Today our web design agency works with clients in the US and Canada, SE Asia, and Europe. And we are not done yet! The story continues...
We invite you to help us write the next chapters of our story!
our desire to produce good work runs deep – that’s what lets us handle every project with fresh energy and enthusiasm.
while we share our knowledge and experience, we listen hard to understand your business and your needs.
we are united with you in the drive to get the best from your project – think of us as extra members of your team with all the skills you need.
PixoLabo designed and developed a brand-new website based on the user experience I wanted to have. The revamped site now allows easier posts and minor internal updates. PixoLabo’s developers showed strong technical expertise and accommodated all feedback promptly; their grace and patience paved the way for a strong collaboration.
Hsuan-Hua Chang - Owner, Coach Seattle
They know what they’re doing and they want to make sure that they are performing well. PixoLabo was always on top of their game, providing timely communication, readily available to talk in person, and shared constant updates of the work being produced. As a result, there was a clear uptick in traffic of unique, organic visitors to the site.
Erin Anderson - Director of Marketing, Greg Anderson Painting
They are not a one size fits all, they are not a cookie cutter. They really take the time and energy to figure out what the person wants out of the website, and they try to deliver on it. It’s really a gift.
Terri Ebert - Owner, Talent Excellence