Courtney Meredith is a classy and classic textbook example of non-textbook entrepreneurial smarts—with positive energy that is unmistakable in her conversation, often with an affirming “yes” here and a self-assured “we can make a difference” there.
This dynamic—and sometimes rapid-fire articulating—2008 graduate of the Truckee Meadows Community College Graphic Communications Program was named Ad Person 2016 award recipient on June 22, at the 2017 annual ceremony of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Reno chapter. It's one of the top awards in the region—presented to an advertising professional who also is committed and highly engaged with his or her community.
“In our team, what we say is to be humble, kind, and creative—we tell this to ourselves in every project we do,” she said. “It’s about making a significant impact in the community through our work.”
She is the Co-Founder and Creative Lead of Design on Edge, together with her husband Chris Meredith. He is also Co-Founder and Creative Lead, although he handles more of the web development aspects of the business and she is strong in customer and community relations.
“Everything Design on Edge does is connected to charities and nonprofits,” Meredith said. “We’ve been in business for about eight years, and have made that our mission. We always say ‘community over competition.’”
Past winners of the Ad Person of the Year award include Tim Miley, Steven Aramini, Esther Isaac, Casey Strachan and Jeff Dow, among other respected names in the region’s advertising field. Meredith wrote and delivered a speech for the celebratory luncheon program at Atlantis Resort Spa Casino.
“For me, the award, it’s incredibly significant,” Meredith said. “The fact that I’m at that level with the people I’ve admired and respected for 20 years—to see I’m falling in line with all of these individuals is incredible.”
“Wild River Grille is a client, and we work with them on their animal cause-related marketing efforts, in addition to the rest of their design and public relations,” she said. “One example is called ‘Dinner with Your Dog,’ where a portion of that check goes to an animal charity. It’s on Mondays, and every month they change it up for a different animal charity.”
The Riverwalk District Reno is another client of Design on Edge.
“The Reno Wine Walk has given close to $80K to nonprofits in the last five years,” Meredith said. “We also work directly with non-profits.”
The Ad Person Recognition award directly reflects the areas Meredith is most passionate about; graphic design, advertising and helping others.
“I come from a long line of entrepreneurs,” she said. “When we can see the results of our work, the creative ways we can give back, it makes it a life’s work.”
A Solid Start at TMCC
Meredith was a student member of AAF Reno when she was at TMCC. She joined again later as a professional member when she was hired for her first agency job after college. Meredith opened her business and strengthened her participation in the organization, serving for two years as a board member representing marketing and design.
Her interest in graphic design began when she took an introductory class, purely by accident—after she had earlier developed her interest in photography.
“My sister was modeling in New York and we lived in New York City for four months,” she said. “We were going to her modeling jobs and I got to meet the photographers and stylists, and they let me help as an assistant in the studios. It was so cool, and that was the hook.”
So, she took photography in high school and learned to use Photoshop. But when she changed high schools to start attending TMCC High School, the photography class was full and she was instead enrolled into a graphic communications class.
“I loved the graphic design class,” she said. “I stayed in the lab for hours and took every design and communications class in that field.”
Does Meredith think that her path to success begin at TMCC?
“Absolutely, my studies at TMCC contributed toward my path that led to this award—for a class, we had to put together a campaign for a nonprofit,” Meredith said. “I picked a women’s shelter and I got so into the project, seeing the impact I could make with design for a nonprofit organization. I was really proud of that project for its meaning.”
Design on Edge is a thriving agency, and the future looks entirely promising with new clients and a growing staff.
“We have 127 clients on our roster, and about 40-50 consistently a month, including the downtown Reno Redevelopment Agency and the City of Reno,” Meredith said. “Dan Bouweraerts is a huge mentor. He’s still a mentor to my whole team. We brought on a TMCC student about a year ago and now he’s won two national awards for us. TMCC has so much to offer.”