We had the good fortune of connecting with Ray Sarno and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ray, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I have a strong general love for learning and strive to always be improving in everything I do, especially my work. This has served me very well, and has become a core value of my company’s culture, allowing us to grow. I know that today I am a better designer, developer, and CEO than I was a year ago, and a year from now I will be better still. This benefits my team, my company, our work, and our clients. There is always an opportunity to learn at any moment. Whether you are doing something for the first time or the thousandth, whether you succeed or fail, there is an opportunity to learn and grow. In fact, it may be impossible not to learn in at least some small way from everything you do. But by consciously incorporating self-reflection and awareness of learning into every task or project, one can maximize this growth, which compounds over time. There is a flip side to this ongoing improvement that I am sure everyone in a creative or constructive career has experienced: frustration when reviewing your past work. I used to become bitter whenever I happened to look at an old design, or some code from a past project, and would inevitably think “What was I doing!? This is terrible! I would do this so much better now.” I thought this way for a long time, until one day I realized that these thoughts are hard evidence of the fact that I have grown, and I am better today than I was yesterday. This realization turned these moments of frustration into ones of reassurance.

What should our readers know about your business?
My company, ONYX Design, is a digital agency specializing in web design and development services. We design experiences and engineer systems to solve all manner of needs for a wide variety of clients, ranging from individuals to businesses of all sizes. What sets us apart from others in our industry is two-fold: Firstly, we are able to do everything surrounding web design and development, and we do it all in-house: cutting-edge design, eCommerce, custom integrations, custom development, database architecture and management, site optimization, conversion rate optimization, SEO, etc. The internet is a complex world with a lot of interplaying factors. Even the simplest of websites deserves considerations spanning many different realms of internet expertise. If a website is beautifully designed but not optimized well, it might take forever to load on mobile devices or slow connections. If it doesn’t observe SEO best practices, it may never be found in search results. If its code isn’t properly written to be cross-browser compatible, it might look great in Chrome but be completely broken in Safari. By pooling all of this expertise in one place, we ensure that all of these considerations are made for each client and project. The second differentiating factor is the degree to which we empathize with our clients and their interests. This ideology is heavily linked to our holistic and thorough approach to design and engineering, but is perhaps more important. Clients constantly ask “Can we do [xyz]?” to which my reply is nearly always “Of course we can do it, but should we? Is it reasonably feasible? Is this the best option for you and/or are there better options available?” We identify opportunities and anticipate problems for our clients, and always try to build robust long-term solutions rather than quick cheap ones even when our clients may not know the difference immediately. This might not always make us the most money in the short term, but we believe that it is the right way to do things, and the fact that our clients keep sending us more work and more clients tells us that putting their needs first is also a reliable long-term investment for ONYX.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Disclaimer: this list is based on a pre-COVID world, hopefully it will be possible to enjoy all of these places and experiences to the fullest again soon. Hiking Paradise Falls – Thousand Oaks Temescal Canyon – Pacific Palisades Griffith Park / Hollywood Reservoir Restaurants Night + Market – West Hollywood (the original one) Peking Tavern – DTLA Everson Royce Bar (a.k.a. ERB) – Arts District (try the biscuits, burger, and cocktails) Bars In Sheep’s Clothing – Arts District The Edison – DTLA (go when it’s not busy, walk around) Clifton’s Cafeteria – DTLA – (see the whole thing, aim for the Tiki Bar) Spire 73 – DTLA (top of the Korean Air building) Broken Shaker – DTLA Good Times at Davey Wayne’s – Hollywood

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s difficult to highlight any singular influence in my life to which I owe credit for my accomplishments, as I have been fortunate to have many mentors and inspirations. But I can definitely attribute much of the recent growth of my company as well as the survival of my sanity to my friend and business mentor, James Creech. I have known and respected James for years. He is my age and already a successful serial entrepreneur. His current company, Paladin, is a SaaS platform which provides much-needed solutions in the emerging and fast-growing world of influencer marketing. Along with his co-founders, James has grown Paladin to a team of over 25 employees with offices in three countries. After a casual catch-up lunch last year, James asked if I might be interested in his input as a business advisor. Needless to say, I accepted his offer. Since then, we have regular weekly meetings to discuss short and long term strategy for my digital agency, ONYX Design. I quickly realized how entrenched I was in the day to day chaos of agency work, and how important it is to set aside time to reflect and take stock of the bigger picture. Since then, my company has grown significantly and my work/life balance has improved dramatically, much of which I credit to James.

Website: https://onyxdesign.net
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raysarno/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raysarno/

Image Credits
Portraits by Nogen Beck

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