Written by The Business Journal Staff
James Collier, Owner and chief strategist
Paprika Studios, LLC
What we do: Online strategy and communication, website and email campaign development
Education: B.A. in Communication Studies from University of North Carolina, Greensboro; M.A. in Leadership & Organizational Studios from Fresno Pacific University
How did you come to establish Paprika Studios?
I started learning how to use online tools and build websites to carry out my own ideas — one of those being TasteFresno, which has grown into a large community of local foodies. That led to freelance projects, which led to more ideas. With the rise of social media several years back, I realized there was a need for helping businesses and community organizations navigate the web’s ever-evolving communication channels, so I created Paprika Studios.
What were you doing before that, James?
I was in fundraising — for Fresno Pacific University, and for Community Food Bank before that.
What sparked your interest in web marketing, James?
It started with an idea of how to use the web for connecting people with a shared interest in local food. With each project I took on, I realized more of the web’s potential, and I was hooked.
You’re the driving force behind such promotions as the Frebby Awards, TasteFresno and the Best Locally Owned Business (BLOB) awards. What do all of these have in common, James?
Collaboration, a celebration of what’s found in Fresno, and a desire to help grow our creative assets.
Many of the ideas start with me, but they’re executed by our team in partnership with other businesses and community organizations. The BLOB Awards are different, though — that project started with the Fresno Regional Independent Alliance (with which I’ve also been involved).
What other local efforts or groups are you involved in, James?
I’ve served on the board for Creative Fresno, am a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and currently serve on boards for HandsOn Central California and Slow Food Madera.
What would you say Fresno has going for it in terms of its creative web and marketing community as well as education in those fields, James?
There are creative professionals here that are dedicated to constantly being better — at design, at communication, at utilizing the evolving set of tools the web offers. And that community is growing; as it grows, we collaborate, and we challenge each other.
Is there still a place for print marketing and how can it stay viable as the Internet becomes ever more useful, James?
Of course there is! Print is tactile—no matter how engaged we feel online, we can’t touch the Internet, so our experiences and interactions with online information are different than they are in print.
I’d be a rich man if I could outline a path for print’s long-term viability, but as with most things, I’m sure the answer lies in understanding the differences between print and the web, and in emphasizing those differences.
What are some key components that every business’ website should contain to make the most impact on their audience, James?
This may change, depending on the nature of the business, but almost any website should answer common questions from a customer or consumer: What services are being provided to meet that customer’s needs? What expertise does the business offer? Perhaps most importantly, how does an interested or existing customer get in touch?
Besides being an avid blogger, you’re also a photographer. How did you get into that and why, James?
I’ve had an interest in photography since childhood, but started really exploring it when I began sharing food experiences; a photo shows off a good meal much more than words can describe. I still take pictures of food, but have broadened my photographic interests, and look for ways to tell stories through photographs.
What three words best describe you, James?
Tenacious, independent and crazy…I mean creative.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
I started my first unofficial job working under the table for a carpenter, helping with various construction projects. He skipped town and abandoned his customers, teaching me a valuable lesson in integrity.
What are your roots in the San Joaquin Valley, James?
I moved here a few weeks after I finished my bachelor’s degree. One relationship led to another, and I picked up a temporary gig, which then turned into a fulltime position at Community Food Bank. That’s where my interest in the valley’s food culture really began.
What do you do in your spare time, James?
What spare time? Ha!
Honestly, when I’m not working, I’m either working on a photo project or crafting a new idea.