Eben Greene ’91 quickly became a familiar face at Evergreen. Perhaps most famous for his South African pillbox inspired hats and t-shirts, Greene started his first business, E-Dog Clothing, as a student. While E-Dog didn’t grow far beyond Evergreen, Eben Greene has owned his own business ever since.
Eben grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and came to appreciate the reformist ideas of Horace Mann, the first president of local Antioch College. Greene describes Mann’s philosophy as a guiding factor in deciding to apply an environmental scholarship to attend Evergreen. Greene credits his mother’s health and wellness business in Ohio as a motivating factor in studying promotion. It may also have been his grandfather, the commercial artist responsible for the Yellow Pages “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking,” who was his first introduction to the power of graphic design.
Right away, Greene got involved with Earth Day and balanced courses like Health: Individual & Community with an Individual Learning Contact to learn how to manage an art design business. After graduating, Eben leased space for E-Studio, the name of his first marketing and graphic design business. Moving away from merchandise to graphic design, Greene leased a space in the iconic Security Building in downtown Olympia, across from the Harlequin Theater. Green participated in traditions like Arts Walk, and used the space above Mix96, one of Greene’s first clients and at the time an upstart effort by two Evergreen graduates. It was during Arts Walk that he met fellow alumni Pablo Shugurensky, who he credits for getting his first booth at Seattle arts and music festival Bumpershoot; Shuguresnky was also a collaborator on a line of 24 greeting cards. Greene became entrenched in the Olympia community, and many of the clients and the network he created in three years of business in Olympia have stayed with him to this day.
Eben’s career went in a different direction three years after graduating during a trip to Oregon’s Breitenbush Hot Springs, where he met a representative from Nike, who got his foot in the door at Brooks Sports in Seattle. Eben developed a strong (and enduring) portfolio at Brooks Sports, creating logos still in use today. But it was satisfaction from working with his independent clients, including ones from Olympia, that prompted the decision to focus on his own business and leave Brooks Sports in 1996.
Green’s business has changed names a few times over the years. Just recently, Eben Design became United Creations, which Greene describes as more than a marketing and graphic design company. Instead, he describes it as a change agency, uniting brand culture to help companies market smarter. Greene’s philosophy “Be You More” is a way for people and organizations to more fully realize their vision, voice, and values. Greene has been doing organizational development work as part of the branding process for years, and perceives that’s where other companies are headed.
Despite having worked with clients including Washington State Ferries, Bartell Drugs, AT&T, Google, Microsoft, Haggen, and the City of Olympia, Greene cites the 2008 recession as a time that all designers struggled as companies cut back. Things are picking up again for United Creations, but that doesn’t mean Greene will expand his company. Instead, the vision for United Creations is to build relationships and work with socially and environmentally conscious companies and organizations.
Eben sees the power of leveraging culture to build brands for his clients. To that end, his company will launch their own “positive brand for change” in the coming year. One of the concepts Greene is most excited about is one he conceived soon after he graduated Evergreen. He credits a financial planning class providing the necessary boredom to start thinking about the symbols people identify with, like the Peace Sign. Ever since, Greene has been motivated to develop symbols for people’s values. United Creations has developed forty two of what they call ValYou symbols, which will be first displayed at this year’s Bumpershoot festival. Which do you connect with most? Soon, Greene predicts that will be a common question.