From humble beginnings come GREAT things
Let’s look back and reflect on how Zen Den Web Design first started. I have 2 passions; surfing and music and at the time I was surfing as often as I could at Ocean Beach and playing bass in a local bar band. I needed a website for for my surf photography and the band. This was 2001, websites were still being created with tables and CSS was in its infancy. So I bought a copy of Dreamweaver on Craigslist and taught myself how to make a website. After several months and countless hours of HTML tutorials I launched my first website, NorCalWaves.com. It certainly wasn’t going to win any design awards, but I could now call myself a web designer. Why not? I had built a website. I posted an ad on Craigslist and started taking on freelance projects.
With this lesson in hand I began to put the pieces of the team together. Financially challenged, I built the team one player at a time. My goal was to create and build the highest quality websites on the Internet. Although it sounds simple enough it was quite a fete. I hired someone part-time and got my first clients through Craigslist. At that time the web designer I was working with came to my Hayes Valley apartment 3-5 days a week to sync up on projects. Slowly, but surely our book of business started to expand. People were drawn to our minimalistic clean designs and our knowledge of WordPress.
Fast forward a year and we’re still working out of my Apartment, but I needed to expand the workforce due to the demand we were receiving. I then hired our current COO, Vivian Wang, whom I had met in MBA school. Vivian is very organized and has an attention to detail. Skills that aren’t my strongest. She helped create our business model and client communication structure. Zen Den grew modestly to 3 full time team members and a couple local Bay Area contractors.
After my original web designer left for another position, Clayton Kemp joined the team as Creative Director bringing expertise in UI and UX design. His creative thinking and experience as a sole proprietor himself really got our gears turning. We started thinking outside of the box and expanded our e-Commerce offering with Magento, Shopify and WordPress. In addition, my SEO efforts over the past 5 years finally paid off and Zen Den catapulted to the first page of Google search results. Almost overnight our clients got bigger and better. Now on the heels of our 5th year anniversary we’ve grown to a 6 person team adding Mae Demdam, an SEO and Content Strategist, Dan Bernardi, a front end developer and designer, Kenny Hoang, a web developer, and Geoff Pavey, a web designer. team.
It’s unbelievable to see how this business and industry has grown and how it continues to be a learning experience. We’ve had the opportunity to work in a very humbling environment and have experienced the slow and steady growth of a start-up. But with this humility comes great things. We’re pleased to announce that we’ve moved offices to SOMA. Although it saddens us to leave our intimate and cozy space in Hayes Valley we’re looking forward to our new office just around the corner from AT&T park. We want to focus on creating an innovative, fun, and professional work space to create the best websites on the Internet. We’re looking forward to this new chapter at Zen Den. Stayed tuned for photos of our new office, it’s currently a work in progress.