Get to know Featherlight
Raise your hand if you're a small business owner or employee looking for a better way to run your subscription based website. Good news! There's a local way to create and revamp your website or ecommerce site - Featherlight! Learn more about this service from our Q&A with owner Tyler Doornbos.
Q: What is featherlight? What makes this service unique?
A: Traditionally, you have two ways to get a website: pay through the nose for a web development firm to build you a custom site, or use a DIY builder and (usually) hate what you make after spending too much time making it. Featherlight Websites is a white glove service that gets you a custom website, on-demand support and updates, hosting, email, and a lot more. It was created to give people who are busy building a career a way to have a truly excellent, hands-off website that builds their business.
Q: What is the relationship between Well Design Studios and Featherlight?
A: Well Design Studios is our original company, and is a full service strategic communications and creative studio. We've been around for going on 7 years. Featherlight was born out of a need that we heard over and over again from small business and solopreneurs - they needed a website fast, with lower capital investment, and managed (because they simply don't have the time for it). They generally don't need the level of input and branding that go into our full Well Design Studio websites, but instead are focused on having a presence that helps build their brand and makes them findable. To make Featherlight go, we've worked on developing tools and a process over the last few years that massively streamline our approach for simple, customized sites.
Q: How have your products and services changed during the pandemic?
A: We have been fortunate in that our services have been very in-demand during the pandemic - we've done a lot of work around community health with our partners at Kent County Health Department (as Well Design). But the value proposition of Featherlight has been very popular for small businesses who are realizing just how key their websites are and how much they can offer bolstering business during this time. The services themselves haven't changed - they've been a great fit for small business since their inception - but folks' need for them has. We're really honored to be able to help support and build small businesses during the extraordinary time.
Q: Tell us about a time you or your business experienced failure and a time you experienced success.
A: You can't run a business without getting very familiar with missteps, mistakes and - sometimes - outright failure. When my partner Josh and I first started our agency business, way before Well and Featherlight, I did the websites and Josh did the marketing and branding. When Josh left to become the Communications Director at a local nonprofit, I took on his work - and failed spectacularly. I was not able to keep it all up on my own. I brought in contractors that didn't work out. I painted myself into a corner that left me feeling like an unconditional failure. It was a mess.
I learned a lot from that, but nothing more than the value of a good partner - it just cannot be overstated. When Josh came out of the nonprofit world a couple of years later, we got the band back together and started Well Design. Having a good partnership has proven to be extremely fruitful in every area we've worked together.
As far as successes, I always look back to a watershed project for Well Design - our work with Grand Rapids Community Foundation's Challenge Scholars program. At the time, it was our most visible project in the community and one where we would be putting ourselves out there with a possibility for very public failure. We beat our some big competition to get it, as a then-unknown firm in the area. That project, and our success in the concept and execution of it, is the foundation on which we built Well Design into what it is today. I look back with immense gratitude that the folks at GRCF gave our firm a chance (they're still a current and favorite client today), and with nostalgias on the small, scrappy group at Well Design that took a risk and built something really wonderful for our client.
Q: How can Local First members get in touch with you?
Get to know Tyler
Neighborhood: Alger Heights
Q: How long have you lived and worked in the West Michigan community?
A: I've lived in West Michigan all my life (going on 38 years), save about a year living and freelancing in Montana and Portland, OR.
Q: What are your favorite West Michigan activities/experiences?
A: I absolutely love anything I can do on the lake - surfing (harder to do now than it used to be!), walking the piers, beaching it, and generally just drinking in the sublime beauty of the coastal landscape.
Q: What odd habits have you picked up during the pandemic?
A: Not so much an odd habit, but like many people, my wife and I started outdoor get togethers with our neighbors. For nearly a year, they were our only social contact. We spent nights in single digit temperatures around a fire pit (socially distanced, of course) and drank cold beverages. It might have been freezing, but it was the highlight of a tough year, and helped get us through. Things may be a littler easier now, but we're still at it!
Q: Do you have a favorite local business memory?
A: When I was growing up, my family lived on the SE side, near Hall and Fuller. We all walked to school every day down Hall to Oakdale. Once a week, our parents would give us fifty cents each to stop on our way home at Mr. Smoothie - a tiny responsibility for an elementary school kid to be able to buy something independently (albeit with mom and dad's money), be with friends, and just enjoy it together. We'd all get soft serve and mosey home in the balmy May weather together. It was just lovely.