How Phil Lee and Darryl Manuel Made Spin Artist, Inc. Work


Chicagoans Phil Lee and Darryl Manuel took a leap of faith in 2009 when they started their post-production business Spin Artist.

Spin Artist launched as a full-service production company, but they mostly focus on the post-production aspects of major advertising campaigns.

Lee is the director and Manuel the executive producer. Their client roster includes major advertising agencies that produce commercials for McDonald’s, Coors Light, Sears, AT&T, U.S. Army and Jeep. Spin Artist has also produced videos featuring Cicily Tyson, Jay-Z, Kanye West's Watch the Throne Tour and Magic Johnson’s urban brands and Union League Club of Chicago.

How did they make it work? 

A Simple Roll-out

Overhead was kept way low: they worked from home and only rented space when the need arose to accommodate a large production.

The partners were compatible in their core values and work ethic: accustomed to working long hours to finish the job.

"I was already used working long hours in the production field. There is no 9-5, only a project and when it gets done," said Phil.

Cash is King

They elected to use their own money as the start-up capital. It gave them more freedom and something even more valuable: accountability when it mattered.

"We had been working in this industry for many years and we had developed relationships with people. We felt that business would come in the door based on reputation and that the Venture Capital route might not have worked for our concept."

Have a Real Plan

Know how much is coming in and how much is going out. Spin Artist waited to move into its River North loft space after keeping overhead way down in the beginning.

"Once you get a plan, take another leap of faith,“ adds Darryl. Once the partners spun off into the Spin Artist experience, clients responded favorably. Customers kept coming back for more.

The partners follow a solid plan of sustainability, customer service, new client development and eventual growth.

Darryl says, “We are grateful to clients who have stood by us. The longer we stay in the game and continue to do great work and be consistent then; it’s all going to work out."

Milana Walter is a writer/communications entrepreneur who recently was editor-in-chief of Chicago Minority Business Report. Her passion includes sharing insightful information taken from conversations with entrepreneurs who seek and pursue their dreams. She won an Emmy as a producer for a business magazine series.

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