Dazu Creative: The Evolution of Carolyn Mueller Design

DAZU Creative is a graphic design company based out of the INCubator at the Hamilton County Business Development Center in Chattanooga. Originally named Carolyn Mueller Designs, the company’s founder Carolyn Mueller started the company to help businesses create brands that encompass who they are through designs, logos, websites and more.

Trend recently spoke with Mueller to learn more about what it takes to run a graphic design company.

Mueller began as an international affair major at the University of Boulder, Colorado. Shortly after, she took a role at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington.

She then went to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York and started her graphic design career after graduation. She held multiple positions prior to becoming a business owner, including working for Selldorf Architects and later a signage company.

“I wanted to change the world and make it a better place. The best way to do that was by making my own life beautiful and go from there,” Mueller says.

After the company sold, Mueller started freelancing under her own name and Carolyn Mueller Design was born. She grew her portfolio with companies like Stella & Chewy’s Pet Food, The Barrow Group and Northshore Insurance — helping them capture their essence through beautiful and engaging designs.

Mueller and her family relocated to Tennessee from North Carolina after her husband received a job offer at Volkswagen Chattanooga.

In Chattanooga, Mueller was introduced to local programs Co.Lab and Co.Starters that helped her launch an employee engagement app, DAZU World. Mueller continued working with this tool for a few years until she restarted growing her graphic design clientele.

Despite growing pains caused by the pandemic, Mueller employed her first part-time illustrator and designer in 2021.

With her team growing, Mueller felt that the name Carolyn Mueller Design no longer painted an accurate picture of what the business was becoming. Wanting to represent her business as something bigger than just one person, Mueller looked for ways to showcase the creativity and individuality of her employees within her brand. She wanted her team to have a voice inside the agency and rebranded the company to represent the inclusivity and collaboration within her team.

Carolyn Mueller Design is now DAZU Creative, based on Mueller’s employee engagement tool, Dazu World. The word dazu stems from a German phrase meaning, “to be a part of something without losing your individuality.”

“I find that so important. I am not generally a joiner. I like being part of something, but I want to remain authentic. I want people to feel that way too,” Mueller explains.

The inclusive workspace that Mueller is building in her business allows her employees to work as a team while maintaining their individuality. The rebrand incorporates a new logo that shows eight multicolored shapes displayed in a circle representing diversity and inclusivity within their single team.

The logo also symbolizes that we are part of a bigger world and promotes responsible stewardship of our natural resources. Mueller works with brands that are environmentally progressive and encourages clients to use eco-friendly alternatives in any avenue possible.

Whether it’s by creating a friendly work environment or helping sustain our natural environment, Mueller builds everything she does around being kind, inclusive and creative.

To learn more about Dazu Creative, visit the new website, here.

Photographs courtesy of DAZU Creative and George Brown.

At the top: DAZU Creative offices inside the INCubator. Next: Carolyn Mueller, left, and Steph Lutz.

Logo image courtesy of DAZU Creatives.

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