Founder and President, Uptown Studios
Tina Reynolds has a mantra for life and work: “How can I help you?” Reynolds owns Uptown Studios, a multimedia design firm that does website design; graphic design; video production; and social media and marketing campaigns for nonprofits, government entities and other organizations dedicated to social change. She lives by that mantra to keep her own and her 19 employees’ work-life dynamics as balanced as possible.
“When I opened Uptown in 1992, I realized that I was responsible for my own work as well as the health and wellness of my whole team,” Reynolds says, which led to her current business model of open space and open work ethic. “Everyone is self-managed. We have no titles, and we work on teams — the web team, design team, video team, marketing team or focus group team. Each team has a project leader, but they aren’t a boss; they’re in service to the team.”
If this method sounds utopian, that’s intentional. Uptown is Reynolds’ second business venture; she founded a graphic design firm in Sacramento in 1976 that worked mainly on corporate accounts. As a single mom with three children at home, Reynolds realized the long hours and high pressure weren’t working for her, so she shut the business in 1992 and opened Uptown as its antithesis. With no time clock to punch, employees pick up kids for soccer games when they need to, bring babies or dogs into the office, and enjoy a work environment where they’re treated like responsible adults.
When she opened Uptown, Reynolds decided to focus on working with organizations working to make Sacramento better. “I was born with a core that needs to do good,” she says. “I want to be involved and create change.”
Reynolds says she’s especially proud of the work her team did for Life Looks Good on You, a campaign for Sacramento County Parks and Recreation that raises awareness about the importance of wearing a life jacket. “We were brought on in 2015 because there were 16 drowning deaths in our rivers that summer, so we dug in and created a fun campaign that was also working to save lives,” she says. “In 2016, there were zero drowning deaths, and we have done the campaign each year since, and the average drowning deaths over the life of the campaign is only two per year. Our team feels like we are actually saving lives with this campaign. It is wonderful to feel like we are doing so much good.”
Reynolds also donates her time for speaking engagements to share her hard-won wisdom in the hopes it will help others achieve their goals. “I like to say, ‘Here’s what I did. It took me 28 years to get here, but maybe you can do it in eight,’” she says. “You can rise up, build your business, do what brings you passion if you always move forward with intention.”
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