Amanda Shepherd and Kelly Willmott are the co-founders of Green Fox Studio.
Green Fox Studio is an award-winning, full-service creative agency with a difference. They not only provide graphic and digital design services for businesses, but they also operate a not-for-profit training studio, called Green Fox Training Studio, where they train people from a place of disadvantage.
Green Fox Training Studio is centred around Amanda and Kelly’s focus towards doing more social good. It’s Australia’s first not-for-profit creative agency operating a training facility inside a high-security prison. Since 2019, Amanda and Kelly have employed inmates through in-prison internships, training and working side by side with them in graphic design, desktop publishing, 3D animation and more.
Green Fox Training Studio had provided more than 4,560 hours in training to almost 170 prisoners and employed or contracted numerous former prisoners upon release.
We chatted to Amanda and Kelly about their creative agency and not-for-profit and their journey as Queensland female founders.
What inspired you to start your business?
After more than 20 years in the design and media industry, we really wanted to do something that gave back to the community, and in doing so identified that we could really make a difference by providing training and education to people who hadn’t had that opportunity before.
Many of the people we work with didn’t even know that there were careers such as ours in the creative industries, and this realisation really turned their lives around.
We realised that in order to donate our time, we need to also make an income, so we started our creative agency. By using the skills we developed during our career, we were able to divide our time by providing high quality graphic design to our clients, and on alternating days each of us would go out to the prison to train the prisoners in our training studio.
What milestones have you reached?
Our social enterprise creative agency has donated more than 4,560 hours of training time to our charity organisation, which has trained almost 170 prisoners and employed or contracted numerous former prisoners upon release, as well as provided employment references to more than 50 prisoners released back into the community.
In the 12 months prior to September 2021, we welcomed 29 of our trainees back into the community, with only one returning to prison. This is a remarkable reoffending rate of 4% when compared to the 47% currently experienced in the Queensland community.
What business achievements are you most proud of to date?
Green Fox Studio has built a reputation of delivering high-quality corporate and creative collateral for more than 140 clients over our four years of operation. This client list has continually expanded year upon year due to the quality of work being delivered in conjunction with our social impact model. Our client list includes numerous blue-chip clients as well as other social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations.
The studio has been shortlisted for or won numerous awards, including the Chivas Venture Global Competition for Social Impact, Coralus Venture Semi Finalists, Finalists in the Ethical Enterprise Awards, Westpac Social Change Fellowship National Finalists, ABC Community Spirit Awards and Winner of Queensland Community Group of the Year.
What’s your advice for other female entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their entrepreneurship journey?
Do not be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. As frustrating as they are, you learn more from them than you ever could if you continually err on the side of caution. And have fun – we have had lots of fun along the way!