As the co-founder of Grilli Type, other questions are in the foreground. We’re a small company but we do have employees and type designers working with us. That requires a certain amount of leadership, empathy, and also exercises some pressure – people’s livelihood depending on our success is not something I take lightly.
At the same time, we’re sometimes also the last people our customers want to deal with, as dealing with us involves reading an EULA. Who likes to do that? I definitely know I don’t enjoy that side of it too much. But I get to put a product out into the world and then designers create wonderful things with it. And that’s a wonderful gift. We don’t deal with companies that we don’t want to deal with for custom work, but we don’t prohibit sales to specific industries or companies, either. One of our guiding principles has always been to treat all of our customers the same – at least to a degree that makes sense.
Lastly: we’re designers, and while all decisions are political and I think everyone has obligations as citizens and simply as humans, it’s also important to know your place in the larger scheme of things. We design and sell typefaces.
So, over the years, we’ve always approached running Grilli Type with a focus on building a sustainable, fun hub for our and our friends’ (type) design activities. It being sustainable involves selling typeface licensing on a continuing basis, which I interpret as making products that other designers want to use, but also promoting them in a way that we ourselves would want to see typefaces promoted as.
A few years ago, that lead us to designing extensive minisites for each release, but also for example to design and produce a wooden children’s toy that was never going to make a profit. For me it’s about balancing things I need to do with things I want to do, and Grilli Type has been a very generous opportunity to do just that.
I do think it’s my job to run my own business in a way that is ethical and fair. It’s my job to run it in a way that respects all stakeholders: the customer at hand but also our type designers, our employees, ourselves, and then of course consider the larger contexts like our societies and the environment.
Ethical behavior is simple in theory, and often much harder in practice. It’s easy to be behave ethically when there’s nothing at stake. By applying some common sense guidelines to our own company’s behavior, we try to treat all of our customers the same and avoid some of the tougher decisions – because we’ve already made them. Our pricing is set, and everyone gets the same price. The way how we sell is set and everyone plays by those same rules. And so on. We’re quite Swiss about these aspects: take it or leave it.
But it’s cheap to preach to just be lucky after you’ve won the lottery. Just do the best you can.