A courageous design works
Woman turns I always wanted to into reality

By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News

June 10, 2015

Cari Ciriacks sits at her desk at designworks Friday afternoon in Hartford. Ciriacks recently started a design business in her parents basement.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD Its been five years since Carianne Ciriacks beat breast cancer and she has started a new chapter in her life by fulfilling a dream of opening a graphic design firm.

It wasnt until her dad, Roger Neu, encouraged her to do it. Now designworks is a big part of her life.

I dont think I would have started my own business if my dad hadnt retired and gave me that push that I needed, Ciriacks said. He said we can do it. I will help you. I dont think I would have done it on my own. I was just so scared to take the leap.

Sitting in the basement of Neus home near Allenton where Ciriacks has an office, Neu said a little help goes a long way.

Its kind of scary, Neu said. Shes got plenty of experience to do the job. Its just a matter of getting the background and some financial help.

Well help her make her first million, if we get around to it, he said jokingly.

Neu said because he was retiring he needed something to do.

I have a background in sales and marketing, Neu said. I think I can be beneficial to her.

A name plate designed by Madeline Ciriacks, 10, for her mother, Cari, posted below another name plate at designworks Friday afternoon in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Ciriacks has owned the business since April. The thing she enjoys most is having a good balance between family and work. Ciriacks and her husband, Matthew, have two children: Madeline, 10, and Samuel, 8.

I beat cancer five years ago, Ciriacks said. To be able to do something I always wanted to do, which was go out on my own and be there for my kids and my husband, its a dream come true.

Ciriacks said designworks creates everything from monthly magazines, to direct mail pieces, to corporate identities, logos, invitations, advertising pieces, books and book covers.

Ive worked with lawyers. Ive worked with some construction companies. Ive done some pro bono work, Ciriacks said. Its a melting pot of people. Whoever needs something I will work with them.

Examples of Cari Ciriacks work hung on the walls at designworks Friday afternoon in Hartford. 
John Ehlke/Daily News

Phil Dahlberg, owner of Dahlberg Law Group in Jackson, said Ciriacks prepared graphic design and marketing for the firm. She designed their logo and all of their marketing materials.

It was wonderful, Dahlberg said about working with Ciriacks. I would say its one of those services all small businesses need, but dont know how to obtain.

Ciriacks has been thinking about a career in graphic arts since her days at Hartford Union High School, which had a graphics program. Ciriacks earned a commercial art degree from Madison Area Technical College.

I worked for some smaller firms in Madison and moved back home, Ciriacks said. I got my first job at Northwestern Publishing House out of Milwaukee. I stayed there for 15 years. I have been freelancing for the past four years and always wanted to go out on my own.

She said the most challenging part of opening designworks has been getting everything set up, but the most rewarding part is when her clients are satisfied.

The rewarding part is when I get an email from someone that says these postcards are rockin. Lets do another one. Ill do whatever it takes to make sure theyre happy.

Ciriacks said she would like to have a building or lease a space.

Five years from now it would be awesome to have 10 employees. I would love to keep it family oriented, Ciriacks said.

Ciriacks said she would encourage people who need a graphic design firm to consider designworks because she ensures the client is 100 percent satisfied.

Im very open. I like to listen to people to see what their style is, Ciriacks said. I think thats very important in designing something for someone. I think customer service is one of the most important parts of any business.

For more information about designworks call 262-629-1716 or email .