Austin-based branding and creative studio, In-House International, is committed to finding creative solutions that work.

Led by co-founder and Creative Chief Michu Benaim Steiner, this international team works in six different time zones at once.

Michu’s encouragement to experiment, along with the influence of various cultures and environments, is the signature of In-House International’s unique designs.

We were drawn to Michu’s desire to collaborate–the core of her design practice–which is perhaps why we wanted to collaborate with her so badly in Issue 19 “Make/Do.”

Read ahead as she shares insight about her process and advice on how to launch a business.

How Did you get started?

When we started the magazine, the angle was to make something that could be a part of the global conversation and do it with talented people that were making cool stuff elsewhere. We made it a point to include people from as many countries as we could.

Our ingenuity came about because of where we were when launching the magazine. Being in Venezuela, in a place that was increasingly constrained, you either make stuff work or you don’t do anything.

“We collaborate in a way that enables artists to make work that they are proud of.”

What is your design process like?

A lot of our process is reaching out to people whose work we’ve seen or who we’re excited to work with. Once we’re briefed by a client, it’s good to have these relationships already started.

We’re transparent from the get-go.

We fully embrace a detailed timeline, go over our expectations and from there, we can just talk about the project. We try to collaborate in a way that enables artists to make work that they are proud of.

Troptical font designed at In-House International, led by Alexander Wright, inspired the cover of Issue 19 “Make/Do”
What kinds of projects are your favorite?

The ones that have a great deal of creative latitude and intense business strategy. Design, storytelling, copy writing are all in service of a strategy that we have to come up with.

Like with branding.

The first question for the client is: why do you need a brand? Then, why now? What are your values?

The process of asking these basic questions leads people to discover the whole picture. Through these projects, we find that sometimes the direction is too similar to a competitor, or not everyone is on the same page. Aligning everyone is a strategic conversation.

“I have a proclivity for jumping into new things with both feet.”

Is there a time where you had to “make do”?

Everything from our origin story to now is an accident of trying to figure things out and do something that we structurally wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

I have a proclivity for jumping into new things with both feet. Ultimately, it boils down to wanting to explore a lot of things. It gives me the ability to think laterally.

“Mural Pledge” is a collaboration between Michu (creative lead), Carlos Lugo (graphics) and Kimie Flores (mural) created in support of Countdown – TED’s global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. It was partially painted with heat sensitive paints that change color based on temperatures outside.
When you’re stuck, how do you motivate yourself to work through it?

It depends on the thing.

Sometimes I look for kindling of inspiration that sparks something within me. I go on Behance, listen to music and look through artist portfolios. Walking also helps.

Other times, I try to step away from it if I can, but I have a hard time doing that. I’ll keep smashing my face against the problem if I can get through it.

Sometimes having a small emotional breakdown is a way through. It’s not advice, but it’s true.

“You can figure out more than you think.”

Any advice for people starting a business or launching a project?

I took a detour and went to business school and the question I got most often was, “how did you launch a magazine?” And I said I just did it.

You’re not going to know what it will be like until you’re in it, but you should do it anyways. You can figure out more than you think.

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