Photo: David I. Muir

Few people stumble into their dream career, yet it was a chance acquaintance that would lead Karen Vick to find her true calling. Vick is the founder of Guiding Brands, a trailblazing marketing agency, offering services in digital media strategy, as well as web and graphic design.

In 2000, Vick was five years deep into a retail management role for the famous American company Toys “R” Us, when one of her team members unknowingly lit a fire in her.  

The student at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale would often show Vick fascinating design projects created as coursework. Vick became enamored with the idea of pursuing her budding love of digital art, so when Toys “R” Us instituted a college reimbursement program for team members she jumped at the opportunity. “I went to one orientation and my mind was blown,” she said. Three years later, she had her degree. 

Over the following years, Vick’s fascination for the crafts of digital design and marketing grew. She worked for a small agency that created web pages for local businesses and then found herself in familiar waters, developing layouts for a toy company. Feeling ready to strike out on her own, she partnered with a friend to start a small business that built websites for online educational programs. But she felt the need to pivot, drawn to a more personal purpose. She knew something was lacking within the Caribbean community and felt called to help minority-owned small businesses. “I wanted to elevate [these] companies,” she said. “Help them bridge the gap to be on the same playing field as everybody else.”


Karen Vick, Guiding Brands
Photo: David I. Muir

By 2007, Vick had made a mark with her one-woman company, Island Design Studio, known primarily for amazing web design and trustworthy service. She dedicated herself to the community — doing workshops, partnering with organizations like the Tamarac Chamber of Commerce and Jamaican Women of Florida, and working with local businesses, whether Caribbean-oriented or not. 

She lights up thinking about past clients including one couple whose franchise, after implementing Vick’s suggestions, made it into the top 5% for a large Florida franchisor.

After nearly 15 years successfully running Island Design Studio, Vick relaunched in 2022 as Guiding Brands. The name change was accompanied by an expanded portfolio, a handful of new services in her already impressive repertoire, and the chance to hone in on the specifics that made Island Design Studio great, like taking a more strategic and educational approach to web design for clients so they don’t just get a great website, they also understand exactly how it functions. “A big component of what I do is the teaching part. There’s a ‘why’ behind the way things are done and I’ve worked hard to educate people [on this],” Vick explained.

As Guiding Brands expands, Vick continues to evolve, working with new technologies to make sure her clients continue to get the best service she can give. 

To get in touch with Karen Vick or to learn more about Guiding Brands, visit guidingbrands.com

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