My name is Duaine Murtoff and I’m the sole proprietor of Project Dragonfly.
My journey to this point (starting my own business and writing this for you here) started when I was a child. I had an ability to see stories in my mind, mainly plot and movie-type camera angles while playing with G.I. Joe toys. There were certain characters I liked more than others due to their unique costumes. I also liked the artwork that was on the packaging.
I remember being in a local Giant grocery store and seeing a Connan book cover–I was fascinated. I couldn’t tell if it was a photograph or a painting. I believe it was a Frank Frazetta, but I’m not sure. These few moments began to shape an awareness of how the things I saw impacted me. They made me feel an emotion or want to jump into the picture and be part of the action.
I began to notice how the color of clothing could make a person seem intimidating, inviting, or strange. What a person dressed themselves in said something about them and their personality.
As I entered high school, I had collected photos of sports players I liked and made collages and miniature poster ideas. I began to seek a way to express my creativity. I took down and repainted my basketball backboard and included Air Jordan logos as part of the design. That backboard is now a coffee table in my living room.
I looked into interior and graphic design after high school, but was too insecure and undecided to pursue it. I bounced around from job to job, trying to find something that fit me. During this time I started making picture frames. This was a hobby that grew and before I knew it, I had more frames than walls. Friends and family liked them and I began to have some commissioned.
My multiple job experiences served me well as I was exposed to being an assistant manager, a salesman, a carpenter’s helper, as well as some time in a welding shop pursuing another dream of mine: custom motorcycles. With each job, I gained more perspective and self-awareness. I saw businesses being run different ways–some good, some not so good. I tried to see what made a business succeed and what made it fail.
- What kind of person was running the company?
- What kind of character did he or she have?
- Were they honest with themselves and with others?
- Were they willing to trust the people they employed to do the job they were hired to do?
- Were they people of character living by principles they could trust even in tough times?
- How did they treat the people they worked for and with?
- What made one owner tick and be more functional than another?
I learned a lot from these questions and from observing others.
- You must be honest and fair to yourself and others.
- You must follow your passions–doing what you love makes it easy to put in the extra effort and maintain a quality product
- The journey of a business is a personal one as well as a public one. Your fears and faith will be tested, but you must be willing to change at a personal level in letting go of your fears, increasing your faith in others and in God.
- Don’t try to be too big too fast, live within your means as a person and a business, in order to create stability and confidence. Growing at a steady pace allows you to produce consistently.
- Know your limits and don’t put others at risk while you try to “land the big one” without the strength to reel it in.
These principles guide my personal and professional life and I believe they will lead to personal and professional fulfillment, steady growth, and a reliable product.