"The response has been overwhelming, in a good way," said Mr. Hainsworth, who plans to hire six people at the outset. While he declined to name clients on his initial roster, Mr. Hainsworth said of previous employers, including Starbucks and Nike, "I'm certainly letting them know that I'm available."
Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.
Highly visible legacy
Mr. Hainsworth had been with Starbucks since 2004. During his tenure, he oversaw creative aspects of the coffee chain and its associated brands including Hear Music, Tazo Tea and Ethos Water. He led illustrators, designers, writers and program managers on initiatives for new products, packaging, seasonal promotions, brand campaigns, advertising and collateral materials. His final project was the rollout of Pike Place Roast and the return of the "new old" logo in the white-and-brown cup.
The native Kentuckian has a venerable marketing resume. Prior to joining Starbucks, Mr. Hainsworth was global creative director at Lego in Denmark from 2001 to 2004. During his tenure, he directed a brand overhaul including packaging, retail and web. From 1989 to 2001, he was a creative director at Nike, working on projects as varied as hangtags and the Olympics.
Mr. Hainsworth said he made the decision to leave the company, and that he did so "on the best of terms." His last day was April 18.
On to the next stage
"Starbucks was the most incredible experience I ever had," Mr. Hainsworth said. "It's an amazing company with amazing people, but it was about the next stage in my career."
As for the decision to start his own company, Mr. Hainsworth said he was looking to combine all of this experience under one roof. "I could have gone to another great company, I could have gone with an agency, but in the end I thought I would do everything I've always wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to create my own company where I can explore all of the things I ever wanted to do in one place."
Mr. Hainsworth is also planning a retail component, selling a few objects in the front room of his space in the Seattle gallery district. "There might be three pairs of shoes, a bike, CDs and some artwork," said Mr. Hainsworth, who trained as an actor before becoming a marketer. "So it really is like a design or creative gallery."