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Firebelly is the real deal. We push ourselves to excel at our craft and work together to make each other better.

Every day is an adventure.


We’re smaller than some, but bigger than others. (14, if you’re counting.) A few of us work remotely; communication—and lots of it—is key. We care about how our files are set up and how we manage our time. We nourish our minds and our bellies everyday, with help from our in-house chef.

We show up for each other and our communities. Many of us teach, speak, mentor and volunteer.

We’re dog-friendly do-gooders who believe in honesty, equity and collaboration. No egos allowed. We’re all in this together.

Open Positions

Studio Director

As we reflect on our past and look toward our future, we find ourselves redefining our path and considering how the next 20 years of Firebelly will be guided. Integral to this progression will be the passing of the torch to a new Studio Director. This is where you come in.

About Firebelly

Founded in 1999, Firebelly is a full service brand strategy and design agency. From building brands and sustainable strategies to designing custom fonts and killer websites, we lead with a whole lot of love, intention and tremendous respect for our clients’ values and ideas. Our capabilities span from strategy and naming through final execution of print, digital and experiential design. While we have a wide variety of clients from almost every industry, all have one thing in common: they are actively working to make a positive impact on humanity.

As a community-centered design agency, we are committed to diversity and inclusion, with the goal of creating a more equitable, just world. We understand diversity—across age, gender, race, religion, citizenship status, ability, sexual orientation, education, class and culture—builds perspective and empathy, which are critical to responsible design.

We create brave spaces where all voices can be heard, biases challenged and solutions arrived at together. We strive to live our values in all that we do, encouraging honesty, collaboration, generosity, gratitude, courage, and a commitment to doing the work. We pursue positive outcomes for and stronger relationships among our employees, partners and the communities we serve.

This work is unending. We remain steadfast in our dedication to use our collective power and platforms to dismantle inequity, promote diversity and inclusion, and together, design a better world.

About this Role

We believe in change and are constantly evolving—we look very different than we did in 1999 and we continue to learn and grow. As we reflect on our past and look toward our future, we find ourselves redefining our path and considering how the next 20 years of Firebelly will be guided. Integral to this progression will be the passing of the torch to a new Studio Director. This is where you come in.

We are searching for a leader. Someone who can drive the next phase of our legacy. This individual will be the primary driver of day-to-day success, working with our leadership team to define and build a new level of achievement. We are looking for proven management experience but see this as an incredibly unique growth opportunity.

Studio Director Job Purpose

The Studio Director’s primary responsibility is business success—from operations to creative excellence.

This role is responsible for direct income generation through identifying and winning new business. The Director is tasked with ensuring the business is profitable and requires a sharp focus on developing and delivering projects of both a strategic and creative nature for a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit clients.

This position demands considerable proactivity, a flexible working style—and a leader who acts quickly and decisively. The Studio Director works for the benefit of the whole company while simultaneously focusing at a high level on client needs. Our ideal candidate truly understands the unique intricacies of a creative business, at the same time balancing the financial realities. This role requires deep integrity and intuitive people skills—always keeping the bottom line top of mind.

Duties of the Studio Director


  • Plan and implement an overall strategic direction that stays true to Firebelly’s mission and is informed by market research and analysis.
  • Discover and implement opportunities to increase efficiencies and improve processes for the whole company as well as across and within each team.
  • Review, adjust and implement company policies based on the strategic plan.
  • Set qualitative and quantitative performance goals for the whole company and each team.
  • Manage resources, including attracting, hiring and retention of personnel.
  • Interview for all positions and sign-off on all employment offers.
  • Create a plan in collaboration with leadership to ensure the hiring of BIPOC—with an explicit focus on hiring Black individuals. Conduct proactive outreach to ensure goals are met.
  • Provide clear communication and decisive leadership while delegating duties among team members as appropriate.
  • Set company budgets and forecasts in collaboration with the Owners and external financial team.
  • Continually monitor the budgets and goals, meeting with the financial team on a monthly basis to ensure that targets are on track.
  • Ensure that strategic plans reflect the longer-term objectives and priorities agreed upon with the Owners.
  • Hold quarterly and annual Owners Meetings to ensure all efforts are in alignment.


  • Maintain a strong public profile and reputation for Firebelly, via personal engagement or support of team member engagement. This currently includes speaking at the local, national and international levels; writing articles; and providing commentary on current issues.
  • Research and implement new initiatives to drive revenue and lower operating costs while maintaining Firebelly’s exemplary reputation.
  • Build strong relationships and contacts with clients, potential clients, key industry influencers, allied professional organizations and others to help secure ongoing work.
  • Identify, build and support an effective team of high quality partners, consultants and freelancers as well as identify opportunities to utilize collaborations and partnerships for potential projects.
  • Direct, supervise and provide guidance to team directors.
  • Make yourself available to provide guidance to all team members.
  • Promote the wellness of staff, including support for mental health.
  • Support all employees by encouraging professional development opportunities.
  • Ensure directors are moving in the same strategic direction to achieve company-wide alignment.
  • Directly manage key client relationships, external financial team and service providers.
  • Take remedial action where necessary, informing the Owners of significant changes.

Required Qualities + Background

  • A proven track record of strong people management skills and experience in leading, motivating and developing professional, diverse and creative teams.
  • Experience working on new business development on your own or within a team.
  • A history of adapting processes and projects to achieve success within time and budgets.
  • A strong client focus with experience developing and delivering services that meet or exceed internal and external expectations.
  • Experience working to strict, demanding deadlines in a pressurized environment; including managing critical projects to time and budget while ensuring quality and value.
  • Highly developed leadership, communication and organizational skills as well as goal-driven and results-focused.
  • Analytical with a high level of problem-solving expertise and business awareness.
  • A natural leader and motivator with a pragmatic approach in getting the best out of your team and collaborators.
  • Evidence of and/or commitment to continuous professional development and personal improvement.
  • Strong appreciation and understanding of sensitive financial issues and the ability to apply this to operational planning.
  • Undeniable ability to inspire trust.

Preferred Qualities + Background

  • Relevant industry experience and knowledge of key client markets (philanthropy, education, health, civic, cultural).
  • Evidence of working with boards and committees—and appreciating the requirements of good governance within the nonprofit sector.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of handling external public relations—to a general audience and with specific partners.
  • Strong crisis management and conflict mediation skills.
  • Strong interpersonal, professional and influencing skills, including contract negotiation and management.
  • Achievement in company growth projections and targets in a dynamic environment and economy.
  • Proven experience and understanding of potential for new technologies and platforms.

While the above background is preferred, we expect that the new Studio Director will impart their individual fingerprint on our business and culture. A goal for this new leadership is to find someone who doesn’t simply follow the past (or tradition), but defines the future of Firebelly.

Key Challenges

  • Continually changing environment requires flexibility and quick decision making.
  • Highest level of autonomy, which can feel lonely and thankless at times.
  • Work is mostly independent, but requires daily support for various internal and external stakeholders, which can be demanding.
  • Continual collaboration with team directors who have unique needs in order to meet cross-organizational needs and goals.
  • Can be difficult to balance demands of the clients, staff, external groups and individuals.
  • Under our current—mostly remote—work environment, finding ways to ensure company culture and personal connection are not lost.

While the role has its challenges the Studio Director will not work alone. Firebelly works as a team and support will be available from the studio as a whole and from the discipline Directors with subject matter experts as needed.

Compensation + Benefits

Firebelly’s compensation and benefits package is highly competitive, especially among companies our size. From mental health and education stipends to financial planning guidance and daily in-studio lunches, our benefits far exceed the standard paid health insurance, retirement contributions and unlimited paid time off (which of course, we offer as well). But it’s our culture that truly makes the difference.


While Chicago has been our homebase for the past 21 years, we are open to the possibility that the new Studio Director may reside elsewhere. With the current state of the world in flux and employees scattered around the country, no time like the present to reset.

How To Apply

To be considered for this position, please submit your resume, letter of interest and relevant work samples before September 28, 2020. The ideal candidate will be in place before the end of the year.
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Even if there isn’t currently a spot for you, we always like hearing from talented folks, especially those from underrepresented communities. You never know when the stars will align!

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Apprenticeship Program

A rare, but rad opportunity. Every few years, we welcome one hungry protégé in the early stages of their career to join our team for a paid 6-month contract.

This is an opportunity to do real, meaningful work, with potential to grow into a full-time position. Whether you’re a budding designer, aspiring strategist or up-and-coming developer, we want to hear from you.

We love thoughtful listeners who enjoy a bit of chaos and a lot of collaboration. We look for raw talent, strong communication skills and a promising portfolio. Think you’re up for the gig? While success in this position doesn’t guarantee a full-time offer, it’ll put you on the right path. On-site only. No remote. Monthly stipend.

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