WGU Indiana alumnus Dustin Brenton is no stranger to hard work. Recognizing his passion for graphic design at an early age, Dustin strived to integrate creativity into his career. After teaching graphic design at Ivy Tech Community College, Dustin and his business partner started their own advertising agency, where he served as creative director for 10 years. While at this agency, Dustin decided to pursue his education further to maintain his teaching role and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the marketing industry.
For Dustin, pursuing an online marketing degree at WGU Indiana was the perfect fit. Finishing his degree virtually offered him the flexibility he needed to pursue his passions while simultaneously making a living. After completing his degree in 2015 and merging his agency with another in 2018, Dustin launched a new business in October 2020, Brenton Creative, and is an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.
Can you share a bit more about what drew you to launch Brenton Creative?
My previous experience owning my own business, Eclipse Marketing & Advertising, propelled my venture to start Brenton Creative. After Eclipse was acquired by a larger agency, I took a job at a local publication where I worked for two years. It was mostly a sales job and didn’t allow the creative freedom I wanted, which pushed me to pursue other options. I looked for a lot of other jobs but nothing stuck. All the while, the idea of starting another agency was always in the back of my mind. Finally, after gathering as many clients as I could, I made the leap.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for Brenton Creative?
Short-term, I want to continue to make a living and produce high-quality work. Long-term, I want to keep Brenton Creative as small as possible. I like the idea of a small agency — a handful of people at most. Maintaining a smaller staff allows for more personal relationships with clients, and it also gives me time to do things like volunteer at my son’s school or enjoy a day with my family at the zoo. If Brenton Creative becomes too big with too many moving parts, I won’t be able to have that same balance and benefit.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in owning their own business?
The most important thing is to learn the ins and outs of client relations, or more specifically, learn how to find and manage clients. It’s also important to recognize that starting a business doesn’t happen overnight. Investing enough time into your business before you launch is integral to success. I developed and planned Brenton Creative for almost a year before launching it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with fellow WGU alumni, students, or prospective students?
If you’re coming to WGU or you’ve started taking courses, stick with it. I had a family and a business, and I still earned my degree. It’s going to take time and you’re going to have to work at it, but it is possible. I’m lucky to have my amazing wife who’s been able to help take care of the kids and support me when I have work to do. I know not everyone has that support system, but there is always a way to make it work. Bottom line: Once you start, stick with it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
For students like Dustin who are interested in furthering their education, WGU Indiana has recently partnered with Ivy Tech Community College to implement WGU’s “Onward with Learning” (OWL) Transfer Program, which supports students seeking bachelor’s degrees after completing associate degrees. The program is designed to remove common transfer barriers through early engagement with students and provide guaranteed credit transfer and admission to one of WGU Indiana’s 13 bachelor’s degree programs in the fields of business, IT, education, and health professions.