Kristen, speaking to the managers of Strange Solutions. First and last names?
How long has Strange Solutions been in business?
We have been in business since spring of 2019. Official document was filed in April of that year. LLP.
How do y’all split the company duties? What are each of your primary tasks?
Sean: Kielen is the business manager of Strange Solutions and I am the client manager: What that entails is that I seek new clients and handle communications with them and discuss the needs of the clients and payment. Kielen drafts up all paperwork, keeps tabs of the clients responsibilities as well as ours to make sure that contracts fulfilled.
Kielen: That’s right. Most of my focus is on the functional side on what we have to get done. "Have we communicated X to the client?" I go behind the curtain and worry about paperwork and bank stuff. Has everyone been paid. For me it’s mostly nuts and bolts.
How did you get started in the business?
Sean: As most people know I come from a background in the comic industry. Having spent 8 years at things from another world and Dark Horse comics, I worked in the industry as the regional manager. During my 8 years I handled purchasing, marketing, HR, sales. When I decided to leave the company I still had many connections and many people sought my expertise even though I didn’t work there. People still kept emailing me for business advice. It was at that point I decided I could turn this into a lucrative career and started to research how to take on clients, and then I reached out to Kielen. I knew that while my strengths are network and connections, I knew Kielen would have the skills to handle the business aspect.
What kind of services do you currently offer?
Sean: What we are trying is a consulting firm with a wide network and affiliates. We offer consultations, website review, social media platform reviews, content management GUIDANCE, event coordination, logistics, sales strategy, and sensitivity reading. Front end/back end.
What sets you apart from other consulting businesses?
Kielen: What sets us apart is I think the number one thing, and this is my personal view, we typically work hard to keep people from getting in their own way. A lot of times Sean and I have convos where we say this isn’t the best idea for our client and we try to keep them from shooting themselves in the foot. I say this in the sense that they are coming to us for a reason, and it’s on us to point out we see where you are trying to go but let’s find an optimal way to get there. We work hard to help folks succeed with their ideas. As human our enthusiasm gets in the way and since we have their best interests at heart, we will work hard so that they don’t fall into that.
Sean: What also sets Strange Solutions apart is that we only focus on nerd industry business and that being said, being a black-owned business, we tend to focus on the underserved groups as much as we can. Not just black nerds, but any other marginalized groups within nerdom that does not always receive the service that is needed. We also only serve clients that have products, properties, or goods that will serve the nerd community by helping it grow and diversify.
If you’re stranded on a desert island and you can have one book/omnibus/collection to have with you, what do you pick?
Sean: Starman, published by Vertigo, written by James Robinson, art by Tony Harris
Kielen: Farscape Omnibus, Rockne S. O'Bannon and Keith R.A. DeCandido. Art by different people
What were some of the more fun and exciting aspects about going into business for yourselves, especially relating to comics and nerd culture?
Kielen: Personally, I like having the ability to choose what we get to do. I like having that ability to say “I don’t have to do this because I am being paid”; I can make active choices about who we work with. There is not a lot of good that comes out of being paid to do something. In our 2.5 years the thing I have enjoyed the most is the autonomy to say "yes we will help" or "no this doesn’t jive with us."
Sean: Being able to take my own direction and to decide what I want to help put out into the world. Seeing a lot of cool stuff way before other people do. And free shit.
Some personal information about you that you would like to share? Kielen, I know you are frequently working on many different things. Want to talk about that?
Kielen: The short answer to that is the thing that puts us in a great position to assist others is that we are not necessarily in it to be the person paid to tell you what to do. We are also creatives. When we get involved with your creative projects, we get to use our creativity to help your creativity to succeed. Yes, we are compensated but we are creative people helping other creatives succeed. The focus is not about us. We genuinely do this shit because we want to see other people do awesome shit. Not because we are trying to boost our own egos. Our reason for existing is to say look at what THIS person did!
Sean: When not helping others achieve, Kielen games and goes to cons. He dabbles in so much of it. It speaks to [his] character. [He is] so well rounded. [He has] been a part of many creative processes from start to finish.
Kielen: I am a jack of all trades, but I am a master of some of that shit. I put my time in music creation, doing Kickstarters and most of those endeavors were solo projects. It’s easy for us to help those people coming to us because I have done it alone. There are these spaces that come with each of these. These spaces allow me to jump in and learn so many pieces. Even if I am not the expert but I have the opportunity to learn. This all helps because even if I am not the expert, I have dabbled in these things, and I can find the resources to help them. We have people that have done things that can bring that to the table. The folks on the Strange Solutions team have done some of this and figured it out. People don’t typically want to share their info. We are here to give people the info they need to be successful. We don’t have room for gatekeepers. We are the antithesis to gatekeepers.
Sean: I am addicted to the following things: action figures, independent comics, diversity, Korean dramas, and comfortable footwear.
Kielen will absolutely never take on another web design client.