Women Making History: SEGD’s Women Business Owners

Read Time: 6 minutes

In honor of Women’s History Month, SEGD is sharing stories about “women you need to know” who are practicing in the field of experiential graphic design. Did you know that many SEGD member firms are owned by women? The following post includes profiles of 12 women members who run their own design studios. The list includes newbies like Rina Alfonso of Studio Aorta to veterans like Paula Rees of Foreseer, former SEGD President, SEGD Angel Award Recipient, and author of the recent
Forbes article about Sara Little Turnbull, pioneering designer, design consultant, and consumer advocate.


Did you know that 52% of SEGD’s Membership is women? You may also be surprised to know women make up 55% of our Chapter Chairs and 63% of our speakers over the past year! Get to know some of SEGD’s women members and women-owned firms …


Gladys Brenner, AB Design, Inc.

AB Design is a minority and woman-owned business located in Richmond, Virginia, and established in 1997. Gladys Brenner, born in Argentina, is owner and lead designer with an architecture and graphic design background. “We work exclusively in EGD. Our clients include cities, counties, parks, trails, hospitals, universities, schools, hotels, courthouses, and a wide range of federal, state, and municipal clients,” says Gladys. “We help people find their way in the environment and hope to use our creativity to make this world a better place.”

(Ambitious! And making our world a little easier to navigate!)


Ellie Byrom Haley, Gecko Group

Gecko Group is a communications design firm. “We believe good design is good business. It can change perceptions, create excitement, stimulate conversations, and clarify issues,” says Ellie Byron Haley, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Gecko Group. “Our creative approach employs multiple disciplines to help our diverse clients achieve a singular objective: clear communications.”


Sarah Huie Coleman, Huie Design

Sarah Huie Coleman founded Huie Design, a registered FBE, in 1996. “At Huie Design, we create experiential graphic design that attracts and connects people to the essence of a place or experience,” says Sarah. “It’s about weaving diverse ideas and elements into a singularly compelling presence that says ‘You are here.’”

“Early collaboration is the key to designing a dynamic user experience,” adds Sarah. “It’s the collaborative process—where architects, developers, lighting, landscape, and experiential graphic design professionals concept as a team—that creates a compelling, seamless experience.”


Abigail Honor, Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is an experience design agency integrating physical and digital design to deliver dynamic and connected experiences. “We are a multifaceted agency with capabilities from concepting and design to multimedia production and fabrication,” says Abigail Honor, Founding Partner of Lorem Ipsum. “Founded in 2000, we have offices in New York and London.”


Cynthia Jones Parks, Jones Worley

Jones Worley (JW) is an Atlanta-based agency with a national reputation for integrated marketing, communications, branding, wayfinding, and signage design. Cynthia Jones Park founded the company in 1990 and continues to be JW’s President and CEO. “For over 30 years, our agency has provided both marketing communication services and EGD design services in a lot of major industry sectors, including education, aviation, transportation, retail, performance arts, hospitals, corporations,” says Cynthia. “JW also has a female lead of EGD practice, Alejandra Thomas, who has led this portion of the practice since 2016.” JW is DBE Certified in more than states across the country.


Cris McCarthy, Dodge-Chrome, Inc.

Dodge-Chrome is a certified women-owned small business with locations in Silver Spring, MD, and Washington, DC. “We offer exceptional imaging solutions to graphic arts communities ranging from design studios and ad agencies to museums, direct to corporate clients, universities, architects and interior designers,” says Cris McCarthy, Vice President of Sales of Dodge-Chrome. “We provide a comprehensive line of custom photo, digital and graphic imaging services that are unequaled in the Metro Washington, DC, area and are committed to maintaining a high level of customer support, on-time and on-budget for every project.”


Carol Newsom and Lucy Gonzalez, Newsom Gonzalez LLC

Newsom Gonzalez, a certified WBE, is owned by business partners Carol Newsom and Lucy Gonzalez. The firm was formed in 2018, taking the place of Newsom Design, a 30-year old environmental and graphic design firm founded by Carol Newsom, with Lucy joining in 2001. “We’re located in a small storefront studio in the heart of Los Angeles, where we design sign programs for transit hubs, parks, colleges/universities, cultural centers and mixed use projects,” says Carol. “We feel fortunate to contribute to the urban picture.” 


Benedetta Nissotti, Form-A Studio

Form-A Studio, founded by Benedetta Nissotti, co-founder, is a practice based in Sydney, Australia, that specializes in architectural wayfinding, environmental design, place strategy and branding. Born and educated in Italy, Benedetta admires her surroundings through an international lens, keeping “inspiration alive through real-life dialogues and random off-the-street conversations.”

“Our multidimensional background urges us to be inquisitive about the creative journey we take, re-shaping our form when needed and having the ability to listen to multiple voices,” says Benedetta. “We’re guided by the impulse to infuse purpose; we design to move and surprise, drawing design stories that are deeply linked to visions. We want to use design to move people, restore memories and go against common thinking.”

Margo Puffenberger, Design by m.e.p.

Design by m.e.p. is a WBE Certified and EDGE Certified graphic design firm ready to create what you need for your business. “We focus in many areas of design including but not limited to logo design, print design, signage, environmental graphics, corporate identity, place branding, advertising, podcast graphics, email design, and package design,” says Margo Puggenberger, Art Director and Owner of Design by m.e.p.


Janelle Slivka, Little Lucy Creative, LLC

Established in 2016, Little Lucy Creative is a small, woman-owned, experiential and environmental design firm based in Akron, OH. The firm was started by Janelle Slivka (Owner/Partner and Environmental/Experiential Creative Director) and Kenneth Stoltz (Co-Owner/Partner and Graphic Design/UX Creative Director. “We are currently in the process of becoming WBE certified,” says Janelle. “Little Lucy Creative specializes in environmental and experiential design, graphic design and branding, architectural and interior-related design services, signage and wayfinding, experiential graphics, renderings, illustration, and user experience. We love to tell a brand’s story with clients in all sectors!”


Lauren Stern, Studio 618, LLC

Based in Charlotte, NC, Studio 618, LLC is a boutique woman-owned Experiential Graphic Design consultancy founded on June 18, 2021—a transformative day in Lauren Stern’s career. Lauren is the Owner and Principal Consultant of this one-person consultancy and brings more than a decade of experience to every project awarded. “Studio 618 focuses on wayfinding, signage, branding, and experiential graphics,” says Lauren.”But my experience with fiber art, digital illustration, and watercolor brings an edge to the consultancy, and I try to add an artistic spin to every project.”

“Our projects are all over the country and range in size and scope,” adds Lauren. “Our clients include design firms, signage fabrication companies, residential developers, commercial developers, and independent creators.”


Cynthia Torp, Solid Light, Inc.

Founded by Cynthia Torp in 1999, Solid Light is a 100% woman-owned business and is certified as a WBE by the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC). For over two decades, Solid Light has transformed client vision into unforgettable immersive experiences. A nationally recognized firm located in Louisville, Ky., Solid Light has delivered award-winning visitor experiences for museums, tourism destinations, corporate environments, and public spaces across the country. Moving Hearts. Moving Minds. Moving Experiences.


Check out these SEGD women members and their firms:






















  • Debra Parker, DS Parker Design, Inc.







  • Heather Watson, Pernot and Tatlin






For this article we reached out to the community via our SEGDTalks listserv, but we would like to continue to identify women leaders, women owned firms, and minority owned firms in our industry. Please help us to do this by adding yourself or a colleague to our list here.