NAME: Ursula Kothgasser
ACTION/SECTOR: Business founder
POSITION: Lawyer, Head of Consumer Protection
ORGANISATION: KoCo Graphics, book design and photography
My Background and Career
A love of nature and a great desire to be active in the artistic field - these two notions have accompanied me throughout my whole life. I began by studying biology and then afterwards became a graphic designer and photographer.
While studying biology I worked at the Institute of Analytical Chemistry in Graz as a laboratory assistant, and after my college graduation (1990, Dr. phil.) I spent a few years as a biologist with a nonprofit organisation.
While on maternity leave with my son Fabian (born in 1993), I took the opportunity to do a computer course. This was the foundation for my career in graphic design. Building on these new skills, with the support of my then-partner, I then spent a lot of time familiarising myself with computers, graphics and layout and taught myself a lot. The field of computer graphics was at this stage still in its infancy, colleges etc. did not exist. Having now developed a passion for the field, I spent every free minute after my part time job and attending to my two young children “supplying” my friends and relatives with all things graphically designed. In this way I learned more and more - "learning by doing". My first order, which came from Graz’s “women’s scene” soon followed, and when I received my first major order from a golf club, I made the decision to register myself as a graphic design business. After a while I was able to give up my job as a biologist and although at the beginning it wasn’t much, I was able to make a living from my own little company.
Making the move from my home environment to an office was the first step towards professionalism. A fellow graphic designer was a great help to me in this regard by letting me take a room within his communal practice. Being within a group of 7 likeminded people, all of whom were active in similar lines of business, provided me with a very nurturing environment which also allowed me to learn a great deal professionally.
As my children became bigger and more independent, I was able to develop my career step by step.
My completing the Prague School of Photography in Austria / Applied and artistic photography course and my daughter Lena (born 1986) joining the Company have been milestones in achieving our current success.
Our company "KoCo graphics, book design, photography" has become a fixed part of Graz’s agency scene. We work with the arts and culture sector, a variety of companies, publishers, institutions in the social sector, individuals etc. – in Styria and beyond. Our range of high-quality design, photography and text is extensive: we design books, brochures, advertising and business notepaper and create reports on diverse topics. We always carry out our work with dedication and great enthusiasm!
Creativity, great imagination and the desire to make things are at our roots. Our ability to offer a "total package", i.e. the combination of graphics, photography and text from a single source is an important factor in our success. The fact that we are experts in using the latest technical "tools" and keep ourselves permanently up to date with current developments within the industry goes without saying. We strive to provide a very personal service to our clients, work with great accuracy and reliability, and often go above and beyond in terms of customer service. This is reflected in the high level of customer satisfaction that we achieve and is confirmed by the excellent feedback that we receive.
Extremely important and absolutely necessary: accuracy in all financial matters – keeping regular and detailed records, complying with all tax deadlines and having a good tax advisor.
Hints & Tips
Be brave! Don’t let yourself be beaten. Don’t let yourself be distracted from your projects or ideas. If you REALLY have a goal, then you can think it out and achieve it. The most difficult thing is setting the goals themselves.
Put a sum of money aside at the beginning of each month to create a financial cushion so that the tax and social security payments won’t be the end of you. Do not confuse revenue with income!
The road is rarely straight, but the detours and obstacles you meet on the way allow you to grow. Have faith, sometimes it is only in retrospect that you can see how it all came together and that it all actually made sense. Take good care of yourself. The art of rest is as important as the art of working.