Cari Ciriacks sits at her desk
at designworks Friday afternoon in Hartford.
Ciriacks recently started a design business in her
It’s 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 wasn’t until her dad, Roger Neu, encouraged her to do
it. Now designworks is a big part of her life.
“I don’t think I would have started my own business if
my dad hadn’t retired and gave me that push that I
needed,” Ciriacks said. “He said ‘we can do it. I will
help you.’ I don’t think I would have done it on my own.
I was just so scared to take the leap.”
Sitting in the basement of Neu’s home near Allenton
where Ciriacks has an office, Neu said a little help
goes a long way.
“It’s kind of scary,” Neu said. “She’s got plenty of
experience to do the job. It’s just a matter of getting
the background and some financial help.”
“We’ll 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
“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.
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,
it’s 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.
“I’ve worked with lawyers. I’ve worked with some
construction companies. I’ve done some pro bono work,”
Ciriacks said. “It’s 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
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
“It was wonderful,” Dahlberg said about working with
Ciriacks. “I would say it’s one of those services all
small businesses need, but don’t 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. Let’s do another
one.’ I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they’re
Ciriacks said she would like to have a building or lease
“Five years from now it would be awesome to have 10
employees. I would love to keep it family oriented,”
Ciriacks said she would encourage people who need a
graphic design firm to consider designworks because she
ensures the client is 100 percent satisfied.
“I’m very open. I like to listen to people to see what
their style is,” Ciriacks said. “I think that’s very
important in designing something for someone. I think
customer service is one of the most important parts of
For more information about designworks call 262-629-1716