Hands-On is a digital design shop ran by Austin design extraordinaire, Chelsea Fullerton Jones and Oakland creative powerhouse, Emma Brooks. Providing creative accommodations for entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, photographers, and more, Hands-On makes ordering great design as seamless as going through a Whole Foods. Take a virtual walk through their website and find organized options and an overarching promise, great design available for all budgets and requests.

What were you doing before Hands-On?
Chelsea: Full-time graphic design and photography for my Austin-based studio, Go Forth Creative.

Emma: I was working as a freelance graphic designer for my individually run studio, Emmadime. I was also blogging, running The Hannah House in Oakland, and taking on a few styling / art direction roles with small brands.

Austin Design Hands On

Austin Design Hands On

How did Hands-On come about / what made your mind up to go all in?

Chelsea: Emma and I met in 2012 at a design retreat in Palm Springs, California. Since then, we’ve become close friends and have served as each other’s sounding boards over the years. We were both ready to try something new and came up with Hands-On as a way to help more people than our respective studios could allow.

Emma: As Chelsea said, we felt very limited to what we could accomplish on our own. We kept hearing sentiments of frustration from small business owners ( small budgets, low on time, etc. ) and wanted to come up with a way to help more of them, faster! Hands-On does exactly that. Our product is filling a hole in the marketplace and we’ve seen a wonderfully positive response since our launch in April. When you’re as passionate about an idea as we are with Hands-On, it’s hard not to go all in.

What’s the range of your customers? How do you think it will evolve?

Chelsea: Almost all of our customers own or plan to own a small business. They’re photographers, calligraphers, restaurant owners, jewelry designers. We love finding out what our customers do! We’ve talked about eventually expanding our products to serve students and recent grads.

Austin Design Hands On

Photo Credit: Hands-On

Emma: The thought of growing and evolving is really exciting to us! Up until now, Chelsea and I have only offered a service so to have an actual product is very new and foreign. We expect to learn a lot from our customers — how can we design more flexible and unique templates? What projects do they need that we’re not providing? What information can we share that will make the overall editing process easier?

We did just start offering a service called Hands-Off, that allows you to hire us to edit the templates for you. We’d also love to eventually offer printing. We have a pretty long list of ideas we’d like to explore and issues we want to improve on. Stay tuned!

Austin Design Hands On

Austin Design Hands On

What’s been your favorite, most original, and/or difficult design challenge thus far?

Chelsea: Designing a style, like the Grace Collection, for an imaginary customer was interesting. We dreamt up detailed avatars for each of the collections so we could approach them just as we would a full identity project for an actual client.

Emma: Our customers are creative hard-working business owners that value uniqueness. To support that need for individuality, we have to design templates that are flexible and can adapt to many different types of businesses and markets. So far, so good, but it’s a lot harder than you’d think!

Anything you wish more people would know about design, designer contract work, and or Hands-on?

Chelsea: The Hands-On designs can change dramatically and can look much different than the samples shown on our site! If you buy the Billie Stationery project, for example, you don’t have to use black & white paint textures and orange paper. We want our pieces to be a jumping off point for your own one-of-a-kind design.

Austin Design Hands On

Austin Design Hands On

Emma: I think Chelsea hit the nail on the head with her answer! We have loved seeing our customers take these templates and make them their own. They really can transform and shift more than people realize. One aspect that I love about our product is that we provide all of our files in black and white as well as full color. We did this because we recognize that we all work differently, especially when it comes to creative tasks. We’ve done our best to set our customers up for success!

Any advice and or motto you live by that’s helped you with your entrepreneurial endeavors?

Chelsea: This quote by Mark Cuban has stuck with me — ‘It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business.’

Emma: We should get this tattooed on our foreheads because we’ve said it so many times: “The devil is in the details… The devil is in the details…” This circles back around to your first question about going ALL IN — whether it’s how many hours you work, obsessing over your Instagram grid, or making sure that light gray backdrop is the perfect shade. We believe that every single detail is as important as the next, and want that to shine through our product and overall brand!

Austin Design Hands On

Austin Design Hands On

What has been a shining moment thus far with Hands-On?

Chelsea: The morning our website launched and announcing that to our newsletter. I can’t put into words the release I felt that day. It was surreal.

Emma: When we got our first round of sales! Realizing that our files would actually be opened up on a stranger’s computer and come to life was… oh baby… unreal! We’ve also been receiving such an incredible amount of praise from our creative community. We feel so loved and supported.

What do you think your next shining moment will be?

Chelsea: Emma and I have a fun trip to Mexico planned when we meet a certain sales goal. Sitting on the beach with a cold beer together is going to be soo rewarding.

Emma: Hmm…. It’s hard to say how we’ll measure “success” moving forward. Will that be more sales? More features and press? More Instagram followers? I’m just excited to continue to get our name out there and see what comes from it. Oh! We’re both pretty excited to launch our Hands-On blog in the next month or so. We were craving another platform to share our thoughts and ideas on — voila! We plan to interview customers, share design resources, feature our favorite customer designs, lots of good stuff.

Austin Design Hands On

Austin Design Hands On

If you had unlimited professional resources for a year, what would you do?

Chelsea: That’s fun to think about! I’d want to bring on a marketer to set up a strategy and timeline and a copywriter to perfect the Hands-On voice and tone.

Emma: I agree with Chelsea’s picks, for sure! Developing more projects and styles is something we plan to do in the future, no matter what, but help with that would be awesome. I would love to offer printing in some capacity. Having an in-house print shop would be dreamy. We’ve also toyed with the idea of designing physical products like stationery, posters, etc. We think that would be a blast!

If you could have coffee with any 5 people, who would it be?

Chelsea: Hillary Clinton, Ellen Degeneres, Paul Rudd, Gia Coppola, aaand Beyoncé.

Emma: Michael Scott ( to clarify: Michael specifically, not Steve Carell ha ), Baz Luhrmann, Wes Anderson ( sorry, can’t help myself ), Chip Kidd, and it’s a toss up between Billie Holiday or Edith Piaf.


Learn more about Hands-On: Hands-On Everyday
Their Instagram is a must follow: @HandsOnEveryday