Inventables Interview Series: Stephanie Battista

Great ideas always seem to come to us when we least expect them. How many times have you scribbled or sketched something on a napkin, trying to capture the details of your brilliant new concept while it’s still fresh in your mind? Often times, even after we experience these flashes of genius, it’s difficult to translate them from concept to reality. That’s where Stephanie Battista comes in.

Stephanie started Laf, Inc., a Florida-based industrial design firm, in 2002. Many clients have walked into her office with such napkins in hand, hoping to turn their rough sketches into finished, sellable products. She’s worked on everything from packaging for an organic line of soap to designing promotional pieces and advertisements for a fashion label. She says, “Every day is a different challenge,” acknowledging that her diverse array of projects keeps work from becoming boring.

It’s that spirit for embracing new challenges that has driven Stephanie throughout her life. She left business school to pursue her passion for design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, starting her company shortly after graduating. And she takes on these varied projects, even though they can be difficult and unpredictable at times. In order to introduce structure into her exciting and ever-changing schedule, she’s developed a distinct 12 step program that she uses for each design project that she takes on.

Stephanie’s process includes defining the project concept with the client, coming up with branding, packaging, and advertisements, and prototyping and manufacturing the products. While much of the design work comes naturally to her, there’s one part of the process that always presents a challenge – finding materials to make the finished products. She says, “Material sourcing is its own ballgame. The most difficult part is having enough time to source the materials.” She says that many of the traditional avenues for finding these resources aren’t efficient, especially for small businesses like Laf, Inc.

At Inventables, we’ve recently started selling small quantities of materials and technologies online in an attempt to help designers like Stephanie explore what’s possible. We believe that if we can create an easily accessible catalog of materials for a vast array of projects, we can make material sourcing simple and efficient for Stephanie and other passionate designers that are driven to find the best solution, rather than the available solution.

As we continue to develop our online store, Stephanie’s business continues to blossom. She has multiple new products hitting the market at the end of 2010. And eight years after starting Laf, Inc., her passion is still evident. “You only live one time, and you should do it your own way. Who doesn’t want to design and make people happy?” And she is definitely making her clients happy, one scribbled napkin at a time.


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