Who We Are

Scrappy as a startup. Seasoned by sophistication.

Our ideas amplify your ideals

We are thinkers.
We are artists.
We are book nerds.

We get a little political. We avoid conformity. We can be a little scrappy because experience has taught us that substantive change and progress originate from lively, open minds.

But above all, we listen so we understand where you are and where you should be.

Our team has been carefully curated to meet head-on the challenges facing small to mid-sized businesses and non-profit organizations whose purpose surpass bottom lines and budget projections.

Our team members are lifelong learners, agile problem-solvers, spirited contributors, and fiercely committed.

Together, every day, we build unity and progress.

Pledge 1%

People like us.

We don’t just build brands; we form partnerships with our clients that span years. Whether we’re re-envisioning identity for a staid brick-and-mortar in a small town, crafting strategic direction for a non-profit, or imagining possibility for a giddy startup in the big city, we identify challenges and solve problems.

Since 2009—since before it was trendy to be socially responsible—we have operated around the belief that business can uplift our society by showcasing the unique talents and strengths of independent, pragmatic people in supportive teams. We work with brands who hold those same ideals.

Leaps & Bounds: The 816 New York Story

SARAH M. WILLIAMS
Founder & Director

I wanted to write the Great American Novel…

At 19 years old, I begged my way into a job as a gopher for a book publisher, set up in a former strip club along a frontage road in Charleston, South Carolina. The idea was: Learn the industry, learn what to expect.

While juggling a full course load in pursuit of a philosophy degree, I spent my afternoons packing and lugging 60-pound boxes to the post office and poring over forgotten manuscripts.

By my mid-20s, I had risen to executive level as managing editor and head writer for an educational publisher, leading a team of copywriters, production artists, and editors.

But outside the office: I wasn’t writing—I was barely reading—because the very sight of written content triggered the (exhausting) auto-response to perfect it. I was bored and burnt out. 

Since college, in the evenings and on weekends, I had studied digital design and freelanced. I fell in love with the flexibility of digital media—especially web design. It could always be tweaked; there weren’t 500,000 physical copies of it waiting to be pulped if it wasn’t perfect. More and more, I was being drawn toward that path. Read on 

Save our small towns

Upon returning to northwest Connecticut, I discovered that the towns I had known as a child were dilapidated and struggling.

Mega-corporations like Wal-Mart had turned charming Main Streets into desolate, empty-plate-glass wastelands. Chain restaurants had killed family-owned establishments. Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble had eviscerated indie bookstores. And regulations and taxes had driven job-producing businesses out of the state.

At the same time, my mother owned and operated a preschool with a 50+ year reputation for excellence. Like most private early childhood education centers, she personally earned little, doing it for the love of teaching and for the children. Yet state programs offering subpar, free options depleted annual enrollment until she was forced to close her doors and end a 35-year career—not without a little shame and anger.

I felt compelled to offer local businesses intelligent strategy, high-quality content, and timeless design solely available to larger enterprises at the time—and to restore pride to individuals and communities like these. Read on 

Doing my civic duty

I couldn’t have been more green in my first pitch to a non-profit: a housing authority. I sweated and stuttered through the presentation. The boardroom felt vast, over-populated, and suffocating.

Yet against multi-person firms (who likely hadn’t printed their proposals on their personal Canon inkjet), I won the gig.

Why? According to the executive director: Because I’d cracked wise at something he’d said and made him laugh. He thought they would enjoy working with me. (West Hartford Housing Authority remains our client to this day.)

That gig taught me about the rewards and challenges facing community organizations: budgets, time restrictions, internal conflict—and spirit. Mostly spirit. I had never before witnessed commitment balanced with humor in such perfect harmony and against such odds.

I wanted more.

I wanted to support civic and community organizations with strong ideals, solving problems despite built-in limitations. Read on 

Big risk, big reward

By 2009, I knew it was sink or swim: Either I was going to build this business or live two lives (and never sleep). A little over a year later, with a collection of loyal clients but neither a safety net nor a sure-fire plan, I quit the 9-to-5 for good. The risk was exhilarating and galvanizing. And it worked.

On August 16, 2013, I decided it was time to leap again. Several months later, I relocated to New York City and relaunched as a full-service strategic branding and marketing firm. Hence the name: 816 New York.

Today, we serve dozens of clients, many from our earliest days. Because while our capabilities have grown, our principles haven’t changed one bit.

I am prouder of 816 New York than anything else I’ve built in my life—well, excluding my book collection, which is more-than-slightly out of hand. Every bleary-eyed, sleepless night, every gut-clenching moment… it created this business.

Conversations with small business owners, community leaders, and individuals motivate me every day to not just ‘do work’ but honor human potential. I live in amazement.

816 New York’s Core

An Agile Team Motivated by Social Consciousness

“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.”

Aldous Huxley, The Art of Seeing