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Last Update: Sunday April 11, 2021

Key Idea: Say No To Some Opportunities

You may be tempted to take work just for the money.  Owner Ashley Postlewaite and her partner Darrell Van Citters would advise against that practice. They've built a solid business by saying no to projects that don't fit their mission. 

Key Question:


Focus on what you do best and only take the work that will generate the profit margin you need to grow.

Q: Why do most small businesses try to take all the work they can get?

A: Cash flow, ego, or, they're not clear what the goals are. Ashley and Darrell started Renegade with some cash in the bank. They found affordable office space and they have kept their payroll under control. With this positioning, they don't have to do work just for the money. They both left Warner Brothers to start Renegade and Darrell is a graduate of the prestigious Disney School of Animation. They don't need to take work to build their personal self esteem. And, they know exactly what kind of work they want and at what price point. Ashley said, "We do turn jobs down when we feel like they don't play to our strengths. Because we have a feeling that eventually the client would not be happy with what we were giving them. And we would rather turn it down than have a bad experience. Because they'll come back to us when they have something that is right. some just don't have enough money to do what they want to do. And we're not going to take a loss on a job. And we're not going to cheap it out and have them be unhappy, because then we've lost them forever."

Think about it

What work are you doing now that may not be generating the profits you need to grow? What customers do you need to fire? Can you craft a smaller and more profitable niche ?

Clip from: Renegade Animation - Beating the Big Boys

Burbank, California: Back in 1992 Ashley Quinn Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters left  Warner's studios to start their own business, Renegade Animation. They truly were renegades.  Their first challenge was to produce a 90-second spot for Nike.  They did it.  Called Aerospace Jordan,  it aired on the Super Bowl. Now, that's real talent.  And, that 's an incredible start.

This episode of the show takes us inside flights of the imagination, fantasy, and stretched metaphors. Today, among their customers you will find Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney,, Leapfrog, Toyota, Mattel, Barq's Root Beer, Campbell Soup, Dow, NIKE and more.

In their first year they did $1.4 million in sales. While the sales have held steady over the years, they have also have been able to do their work with four or less full-time employees.    

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Renegade Animation

Ashley Quinn Postlewaite, Executive Producer

111 East Broadway
Suite 208
Burbank, CA 91205

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
Business Services; advertising, marketing, pr

Year Founded: 1999

Say No To Some Opportunities

HATTIE: How much do people pay for a 30-second animated commercial?

ASHLEY: One hundred twenty to $180,000 for 30 seconds.

HATTIE: Those dollars don't all come to you, though?

ASHLEY: Yes, that would be just us. That's just the animation.

HATTIE: That would come to you for your part. That would...

ASHLEY: Yeah. So we have, over the years, kind of honed our skills into saying, `OK. This is that kind of job. This is the kind of job where it's only one character or two characters. It's simple backgrounds. It's no tones and highlights,' which are effects levels that make it more complicated. `So that's a, you know, $3,800 per second job,' vs. one that comes in and we see the storyboard and we go, `It's with live action. It's got effects. It's got six characters,' blah, blah, blah. `That's going to be about $5,000 a second.' So you get, sort of--as you go you get, as in any business I think--to recognize what slot things fit into. And then I get on the phone with the producer. And I like to start by saying, `How much do you have? Because we can also creatively solve problems for you working backwards from your number.' Where I don't want to try and sell you a Mercedes if you can afford a Saturn. I mean--but we can give you a really, really cool-looking Saturn.

ASHLEY: (Voiceover) Say that we're looking at the PSA, the Don't Drink and Drive PSA. We know we don't have any money, and we have a great concept which really doesn't need any bells and whistles because the concept is so very strong. We can do things like, `Let's put him on a white background. Let's not color him in.' The only thing that's colored in is the brain and the beer, which is really the gist of the whole concept, anyway.

(Graphic on screen) If You Let Him Drink And Drive, You're Brainless, Too. (End of excerpt)

ASHLEY: So we save money in ink and paint. We save money in scanning. The animation is quite limited. If you notice his body will be what we call a held cell, and only his eyes will be moving, or only his head will be moving. That's a much smaller drawing than redrawing his whole body each time. So we can look at something and say, you know, `This is what we can give you for that.' And it's not less. I mean, I'm committed to the idea that, aesthetically, that was the best way to do that commercial even if you had a million bucks to do it. ASHLEY: (Voiceover) So then you look at Chester Cheetah, and he is beautifully--what we call rendered. When we composite with live action what we do with the characters is we give them a tone and a highlight on their faces and bodies which match the shadow that's on the live action. So if I were animated sitting with you here, I would have shadows on me the same as they are on you.

CHESTER CHEETAH: Cheesy! Announcer: Cheetos, dangerously cheesy. (End of excerpt)

ASHLEY: We do as much in-house as we can.

HATTIE: But on the Chester Cheetah which parts of it are we seeing that you had to outsource?

ASHLEY: Right. On Chester Cheetah, what you see that we outsourced is the compositing, which is taking our animation and putting it together--marrying it we call it--with the live action, or with the computer-generated imagery. And that is machinery that we don't need to own, except for that little part of the process. And so we can't justify in our own minds going into that part of the business. But more important than the cost to us is it's not what we're good at, and it's not what we like to do. So we're not going to do it. And quite frankly, even if it was slightly more expensive to outsource it, we would still outsource it because the quality of our lives and our experience in the work and what we have energy for is focused on what we want it to be focused on.


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