#SmallBusinessWeek Spotlight: Franklin Marval

Photo by Alvaro Lucena

Born in San Tome, Venezuela, Marval is a graphic designer, muralist, sign-maker, and community activist and works as both a fine artist and a commercial artist, depending on the project. Located in Humphreys Street Studios in Uphams Corner, Cyanta specializes in graphic design, in-house print production for a variety of products, and crafting strategic visual communication solutions.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Everything related to the advertising industry and all its departments has always caught my attention from an early age, from the brainstorming process, sketches, graphics production processes, and the final product, be it print, video, or web. And personally I have always drawn and painted. I love Art and Signs making, and everything around it. Let’s say that’s how “Cyanta Studio” was born.

What prompted you to start your business?
I have an entrepreneurial spirit – and what’s better than producing, selling, and having a company doing what you have always loved.
I grew up exposed at an early age to graffiti and hand-painted sign making. Of course that evolved over time. When I had to decide what to study I decided to study graphic design, while I was studying I did my best to participate in everything that would serve as knowledge for my career, from community work, events, unpaid internships, and part-time paid jobs. Upon graduating I worked in advertising agencies, printers, tshirt making workshops, event companies, and simultaneously doing freelance jobs. Over time I had the opportunity to have my own company. All this while I lived in Venezuela until 2000, then I moved to the United States, and the adaptation process began, with ups and downs and also many experiences, and like learning a new culture. 23 years later, here I am testing everything I know, and open to continue learning, with my wife, my two children, and now part of this culture.

How did you hear about the Dorchester Bay Neighborhood Loan Fund?
Through a friend who works in finance, I told him that the regular banks did not lend me money when I knocked on their doors. He told me: Go and talk to your local banks like Dorchester Bay. And so it was when in 2013 my relationship with you began and hand in hand with Deidra MacLeod Loan Officer, and today with Brenda Bobadilla Associate Director of Small Business who helped me with my second loan. Definitely, I will always be grateful to both of you for your patience, and for guiding me through the process, that for many starting is not such a friendly process.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
It was and continues to be the most difficult thing I have experienced personally and at the company level. I had to request a loan from the “SBA.” I lost many clients and pending jobs that I could not complete. And some other challenges.

How did you pivot your business during the pandemic lockdown?
I kept a positive attitude constantly, I was very active in the community, we saved the building where I work that was about to be gentrified, that was great. In constant communication with clients, conversations and planning future projects. I was working during that time with a coach from “Score Boston” who were and still are my virtual support partners. I have a lot to thank Elizabeth Brown my Coach for the constant work we have done, and continue to do. And it was thanks to Dorchester Bay that I was introduced to Score Boston at one of the many events they offer to support small businesses. Thank you.

What other difficulties have you faced as a business owner?
I normally don’t see difficulties, I only see processes that I have to learn and implement. But if I tell you that there have been many, from: Administration processes, learning to hire and everything that means… To be accurate and intentional, with everything I do in the company.
To realize that I don’t have to have thousands of products or services to be a large and successful company. To focus on the most productive products and provide good service.

What advice would you offer to anyone who is thinking about starting a business of their own?
I definitely recommend being clear about who you are as a company, defining your products and services, being clear about who your perfect client is.
Always maintain your quality.
Enjoy the process, create real and short goals. That will help you to be stable and grow.

What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your busy day-to-day schedule?
Create a system of processes that are easy to follow and implement. Define the departments and responsibilities of your company, be clear about your position, find a way to fill those positions and most importantly learn to delegate.

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