Digital boutique Layer One Media enters local market

Brody Buss, president/founder, Layer One Media

When the owner of a growing Milwaukee digital boutique felt it was time to expand into a big market, he moved his residence to Chicago and spent the next three years digging into the market.

Early last December, Brody Buss’ Layer One Media officially opened its doors at 311 S. Aberdeen in the West Loop: a 5,000-sq. ft. loft that comfortably accommodates its growing business.

The 11-year old digital shop specializes in creating, developing and executing strategic digital marketing tools, concepts and user experiences for national brands. 

In Buss’ moving to Chicago, explains Ryan Janecek, Layer One Media’s Milwaukee-based director of development, “We have access to collaboration with large, established agencies and brands and talent.  We didn’t want to be someone with just a satellite office in Chicago.”

Buss, a Milwaukee native who started his company at age 26, would have invested in an office here sooner if the economy hadn’t put the brakes on his plan.  The delay gave him time to learn the city, network among agencies and determine the right spot to put down roots.  

Ryan Janecek, Layer One's director of development“We looked around the West Loop and I felt this is a place where something is happening.  I liked being the midst of the creative vibe around us,” Buss says, noting that the area is similar to the Milwaukee office’s location in the city’s historic Third Ward.

Renovation, fully built-out from the studs at a cost of $100,000, only took six weeks.  The office was designed by Angela Finney, a furniture and set designer for the building industry,.  “It feels like a sister agency to us in Milwaukee,” notes Janecek, who has been with the company for five years.  

“Chicago’s time is now” as a tech hub

Currently, Layer One/Chicago has a staff of four – and jobs are posted for at least four more, a creative director, a designer front end developers. 

“Chicago’s time is now,” says Buss of the explosive technology industry, and the new company has been “well-received in Chicago,” Buss says.  “We bring the right talent to the table.” 

Its first project was the high-traffic Facebook app for Seattle’s Best Coffee, a client Edelman PR’s Zeno division. More social media projects are in the pipeline that Janecek says they can’t talk about yet.

If business continues to grow as rapidly as it started,

Buss ambitiously anticipates a Chicago staff of 15 by this time next year. “The Chicago market is perfect for a creative, niche, ahead-of-the-curve, digital shop like ours,” he says.

Milwaukee office has with 20 employees

Their Milwaukee business is recovering from the economic slowdown and it’s good right now, Buss says.  It operates with a staff of 20, many of them with the company almost since its start-up in 2011. 

The staff includes creative director Jason Reimer, 15 years of interactive, design and marketing experience, formerly a CD with Hanson Dodge Creative; Scott Hill, director of operations, earlier general manager at Constellation Web Solutions and Janecek, previously business development at Cisco Systems and Omni Tech Corp.

Among its clients are Dean & DeLuca, GE Healthcare, Kohler, Sargento Foods, Northwestern Mutual, Marcus Theatres, Briggs & Stratton, Concordia University and Subzero.