For me, it has always been JAZ; life without JAZ is unimaginable. Just as the other half of everything I lived, breathed and experienced as a child was James, to a degree, so was JAZ – it’s a part of our foundation, and has played a significant role in my growth both personally and professionally.
When JAZ was born, before I knew or could ever really understand it, JAZ was shaping up to become like a third sibling to me. It may seem strange to speak of a business as a sibling, but in many ways that’s how I identify with JAZ. When I reflect on the beginning, I have memories of my dad taking me with him to a pokey office in Nedlands on the weekends (presumably to give my mum a break from two kids under under three).
As I grew, so did JAZ. The office upgraded, we got a light box (which to me as a kid was the best thing ever), and colour Apple Mac computers. I remember one of the graphic designers taking a scalpel off me whist I was using it to hack at bubble wrap and insisting I didn’t touch it again (clearly lacking in OHS rules). The glitter and italic pens and textured paper were a childhood dream. See, back then it was all about print and illustration, so office supplies were lush. As one of our first corporate Christmas gifts, I remember delivering melted Minties in branded JAZ mugs to a long list of clients out of my mum’s small white Suzuki, and rummaging through hampers gifted from printers to pick our favourite treats. I remember the years of Christmas parties I attended; from lawn bowls to boat cruises, lunches to dinners, and trips to backyard picnics. When I was in my final year at high school, I even had a casual job at JAZ, coming in on Saturdays to file and complete admin work.
JAZ was with me through my whole childhood; it took and it gave just like any sibling. In the early years it was the reason I wouldn’t see my dad all week, as he left before we rose and returned long after we were in bed, which taught me that time with him was something to be valued, and also how to memorise phone numbers… It left my mum with the responsibility of us 24/7, which showed selflessness, strength, endurance and unconditional love for my dad. In reflection of this whole journey, I think my mum’s trust in dad’s dream is truly one of the most beautiful things about JAZ. Dreams don’t just happen, you have to work for them, and they take sacrifice and commitment. Her bold decision to back my dad’s dream and allow him to put that above all else is the essence of JAZ. It fills with me with pride to see JAZ turn 25 and my parents celebrate their 30th year wedding anniversary in the same year.
JAZ was the late night security phones calls (because a moth had triggered the alarms), client calls on the weekend, late night press checks, and the reason for dad falling asleep at his desk in our home office each night (interestingly, dad painted his first home office light blue… his current office is bright yellow! On a side note, Cam has authored a great blog on colours and their meaning). JAZ was the reason we renovated our house, it was the reason for the trampoline on Christmas morning, the reason for private schooling, international family holidays, school trips, my first car and a comfortable lifestyle. I don’t want the focus of what JAZ has given to be material, as JAZ has made money and lost money. It’s taken time and it’s given lessons. Money comes and goes, and JAZ has most definitely taught me that.
I was always proud of JAZ. I was proud of my dad for taking the risk and starting a business in a recession; he’s a visionary and an ‘ideas’ man. JAZ feels a part of me, and the part of our family that makes us, us.
Thinking about JAZ as an adult exposes so much coincidental significance, almost like a TV show I’m re-watching and understanding links that I missed while it was happening right before my eyes. When JAZ first started, each letter was one of three primary colours: the J was blue, A was Yellow and Z was red.
Over the years JAZ has changed, just as life flows and presents us with obstacles to overcome, lesson to learn, and people to love. So too does Small Business; JAZ has changed its look and feel (thankfully it never went through an Eminem stage unlike my brother), and even its name. It’s been JAZ Design and Marketing, to JAZ Design and Multimedia, JAZ Creative, JAZ Visual Communication, back to JAZ Design and Marketing again… and now finally back to JAZ Creative. It’s been blue, yellow and red, to now just a solid, united and bold red. I often wondered why the red stood out of those three colours. Over time, I think it was all a part of life’s influence. My Dad’s mum’s (my grandma) favourite colour was red, and it seemed to appear more present in JAZ after she passed away. It’s comforting to have her presence live not only through us but through JAZ too, even in the smallest of details.
I have countless stories about JAZ, memories from my life and insights on how this company has been one of greatest lessons; however, I think the most important message about JAZ for me is love. JAZ truly was a dream, and just like a seed that was nurtured, loved and cared for, it too grew to care for us. When I think of JAZ, I think of the underlying love, commitment, and passion that my dad taught our family to share in. It’s the moments where I’ve gone to a house party to see a JAZ stubby holder, where I’ve been visiting close friends interstate and they educate me on signs or graphics completed by JAZ in their hometowns (my dad has chatted to them about such projects over a family barbie), it’s times my brother proclaims to be a major shareholder of JAZ to pick up girls at a bar, it’s all the times that the story of the name has been told, all the invitations for friends and family of the most special life events, and it’s my dad wearing the title of Managing Director for 25 years. JAZ is us.