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Creative Studio Opens on Pike Street in Newly Renovated Building

On the heels of what has been a frustrating and disappointing week for Covington following reports that construction on Hotel Covington and chocolate shop Fortvna will be delayed indefinitely, the city received some good news on Saturday when creative agency Durham Brand & Co. (DB&Co.) announced plans to open a second-floor studio in the newly renovated mixed-use building at 2 West Pike Street
 
DB&Co. was founded by Austin Dunbar, a graphic designer and brand builder who has spent the past few years crafting brands and experiences for many of the major players in the beer and spirits industry. Previously, Dunbar held roles at various global agencies and boutique studios across the country working for some of the most recognizable consumer brands as well as pioneering start-ups, musical artists, and non-profits. 
 
A husband and father of three girls, Dunbar lived in Covington for four years before leaving to work in Chicago in 2011. Now back in Northern Kentucky, Dunbar launched DB&Co. to “provide unfiltered, top-notch creative work for companies, brands, agencies, and start-ups big and small.” Dunbar says he decided to open in Covington because of the “witnessed change and new spark that is happening in the city.”
 
“(When I came back) there was a different kind of mood in the air and people have started to make change happen versus just talking about it,” he says. “That kind of attitude shift is attractive, especially for an inquiring business looking to set up shop.”
 
DB&Co., which will open in the coming weeks, will be located on the second floor of the building at 2 W. Pike which has undergone a major renovation over the past two months. 
 
Dunbar says he spent over six months looking all over downtown and Northern Kentucky for a location, weighing options while figuring out exactly what he wanted. 
 
“I never really felt that ‘this is it’ moment during the search,” he says. “Then, out of nowhere, another shop owner in Covington reached out to me to discuss taking charge of designing a new project he had been working on. During the chat, I started telling him about my search for a permanent brick and mortar shop and he mentioned a friend of his had recently purchased a building on Pike. We walked over to the space after our meeting and I guess the rest is history so to speak.”
 
Dunbar says the space, which fills with natural light and features a unique floor plan with designated creative and client-facing areas, was exactly what he was looking for.
 
“At the end of the day, I wanted to be excited and inspired to walk into a studio space and be able to share that with others and I was lucky to find that in Covington.”
 
DB&Co., which Dunbar describes as a “multi-disciplinary creative studio,” joins a growing group of businesses that have opened along Short Pike Street including pioneers Old Town Café, Klingenberg’s Hardware, and Olde Towne Tavern and relative newcomers Pike Street Peddler, 3 Kings Bar, and District 78. This end of West Pike Street is also home to art studio Covington Clay and the national award-winning branding agency BLDG.
 
Dunbar says he is excited about the potential of both Pike Street and downtown as a whole.
 
“Pike Street and the surrounding area have so much potential to grow and attract local, regional, and national attention. Not all businesses have to be creative focused of course, but downtown Covington could easily foster a culture of creative collaboration across different business models – restaurants, retail, galleries, and various boutique shops – all targeting like-minded clientele and lifestyles while still working together,” Dunbar says. “Covington has a good city-town mix while keeping that community feel and that is something I have always loved. Putting a studio-stake in the ground here was always something I talked about and (Covington) was a natural choice when the opportunity arose.” 
 
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the workers at the Mutual building get stopped by passersby asking questions then leave the studio feeling pumped about the developments and growth happening in the area. That kind of positivity is contagious and exciting, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of this new wave of business to call Covington home.”
 
Written by Jerod Theobald, Managing Editor of The River City News
 
Photo: Dunbar with wife Ashley and the couple's youngest daughter