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Now full-service, company eyes new projects

Part-time collaboration pays off for Mudpie Media

COLUMBUS — Mudpie Media’s Patrice Anderson and Daryl Fazio began collaborating when Fazio was hired in 1999 as senior Web developer at Peavey Electronics, where Anderson had worked since 1997. Soon afterwards, the pair began moonlighting nights and weekends as freelance Web site designers on selected projects.

“Daryl and I quickly found out that we were a great team while working together,” said Anderson. “She’s a solid, lightning-fast designer, and I was good at taking her designs and implementing them into different media formats.”

“I’ve always wanted to go into business for myself so it seemed like a good first step towards that goal,” Anderson noted.

The sideline business’ first big break came a few months later when the two began working with Slater Barr and Frank Thompson at the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation in Meridian to put together a multimedia presentation for bidding on the location of the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center.

“They were making a bid for the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center to be located in Meridian at Bonita Lakes, and they needed to put something together that really showcased the beauty and quality of the location they were proposing,” Anderson said.

After five weeks, the fledgling Mudpie Media put together an interactive CD-ROM presentation, complete with content material from Sela Ward and an animated fly-over over the Bonita Lakes area, provided by Tony Boutwell of Meridian. Shortly thereafter, the project was awarded to Meridian.

After almost two years as a sideline venture, Anderson felt enough confidence in Mudpie Media’s business fundamentals that she left her job at Peavey in 2001 — flying in the face of the decline in dot-com fortunes and the general economic malaise.

“I feel a lot of the ‘dot.com meltdown’ was probably the result of companies jumping in head first before truly testing the waters. They grew too quickly, borrowed or invested too much money, and didn’t have returns needed to maintain that rate of growth. They didn’t give themselves time to build a foundation,” said Anderson.

One of Mudpie Media’s first clients after launching its Columbus-based venture was the Columbus Arts Council. Heather Rowland, executive director, met Anderson through mutual friends and now does all the Council’s publicity through Mudpie Media.

“She has really helped us get a new identity package — not only the Web site but also designing a new logo,” said Rowland. This year, members of the CAC received a mini-CD of information about the CAC, including its upcoming season schedule, provided by Mudpie Media, according to Rowland.

While 95% of Mudpie’s business is the traditional design and development of business Web sites, the company offers new services such as CD-ROM presentation, CD-ROM business cards and DVD presentations as well. Web services range from simple business informational sites, maintained by Mudpie Media, to more complex e-commerce sites that allow the client to maintain their information online through links to an administrative Web site.

“I believe one of our strong points in Web development is the addition of functionality to our Web sites through the use of database interaction and client-side administration,” said Anderson.

Now, with a five-member team including Anderson and Fazio, along with creative director Chad Anderson, sales representative Bryant Perkins and artist/designer Bryant Worley, Mudpie Media boasts a client list that includes law firms, florists, healthcare providers, composers and media outlets, as well as six Gold Medals in the local ADDY Awards and a Best of Show award in the local competition for the Web site of Bella Bridesmaid, designed by Fazio.

“She is still my main designer and does a great job keeping up with the growing pace of work we have,” said Anderson, who noted that Fazio now telecommutes from Truman College in Missouri, where she is a graphics design instructor. Interns from Mississippi State and the Mississippi University for Women round out the firm’s stable of designers and programmers, according to Anderson.

New avenues for the company are in the offing; in November 2001, Chad Anderson’s jazz performance group, the Chad Anderson Quintet, released an album under the Mudpie Media name, titled “People Here.” The group included musicians that Chad Anderson had toured with for the preceding three years; the album is available from www.mudpiemedia.com and www.cdbaby.com. Another Chad Anderson project is in the work for recording in September.

“In the future, the Mudpie Media label may function as a catalyst for upcoming projects,” said Anderson.

Another venture Anderson is excited about is the collaboration with Kelli Burton of Columbus to revamp Vantage Magazine, an arts and entertainment monthly for the Golden Triangle area. Rowland brought Anderson and Burton together with the suggestion that the new Web design firms could use benefit from advertising in the publication.

“I was thrilled with the response and with the magazine!” Anderson said. “After the first few issues came out, I started receiving a lot of inquires about Mudpie Media based on my ad in Vantage.”

In June 2002, Anderson and Burton announced a joint venture that would give Vantage Magazine a permanent base in Columbus and an online presence, www.vantagemag.com.

“I think it’s really a perfect match,” said Rowland, citing Anderson’s business experience and Burton’s connections in the arts.

Rowland is glad to see Anderson continue to work in Columbus and support so many businesses and nonprofit organizations with her skills.

“She’s a very talented lady,” said Rowland. “She’s just really made her mark on Columbus in the short time she’s been here.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer at Julie Whitehead at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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