Interview by Hannah Sprouse
Christian Dunn is the general manager of Hip Hues, a screen printing studio where customers can print their own swag, t-shirts, and party favors as part of an interactive event experience. Born and raised in Upper Arlington, it was an easy decision for the Golden Bear alum to open up the company’s second location in Columbus after working at the Hip Hues in Nashville while attending Vanderbilt University. Christian is loving the challenges and chaos of running a new business with his eyes on the future noting the people, the optimism, and the rapid transformations that come along with doing business in Columbus.
Name: R. Christian Dunn
Profession: General Manager, Hip Hues Columbus
Neighborhood: Upper Arlington
Connect: Facebook | Instagram
As a Columbus native, what is it about the city that endears you to it the most? I am originally from Columbus, born and raised in Upper Arlington. I left for Nashville, TN to attend Vanderbilt University and upon graduation returned to Columbus to manage our new branch of Hip Hues. What endears me most to Columbus is the people. Columbus is an extremely collaborative and inclusive community; we’re passionate about our city and to seeing to its continued development.
Give us a snapshot of your career path: My past employment history includes working as a staffer for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, working for Hip Hues in Nashville for four years, and a number of smaller jobs pre-college. This is my first major job opportunity post-graduation and it has been an insightful and memorable experience.
Tell us about your current role as GM of Hip Hues Columbus: I am in charge of both operations and sales. I train and manage a large team of employees, execute the majority of our events, and am in charge of client management and new sales.
Hip Hues started in Nashville. What made you decide to bring it to Columbus, and when? How
has the Columbus market treated you so far? Any surprises? Hip Hues enjoyed rapid success in Nashville and within a few years our ownership began eyeing cities for a second location. Columbus was always the top choice as both of our owners are from Columbus (as well as myself). Considering I was coming on full time to run our second location, that we had existing contacts and familiarity with Columbus, and that we all considered it our home, coming to Columbus was an easy decision.
So far the Columbus market has been very receptive and enthusiastic about our concept. There was always a question of how our business model would be received in a city with less familiarity with screen printing than Nashville, for example. What we have found, however, is that people are extremely receptive to new ideas and businesses and Columbus really fosters a collaborative economic community.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? The excitement, challenges, and demands of running a new business and advancing my own professional experience, as well as my friends and family, are what get me up and get me through!
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges. How do you achieve success in spite of the
hustle and bustle? Chaos and weird hours are a part of growing a new business, but maintaining a schedule and sticking to it and putting boundaries around time for work and time for personal endeavors (whenever possible) is very helpful.
Where do you go to unwind? I enjoy any of a number of local bars in the Grandview area, with a special shout out to Byrne’s Pub on 3rd. Local coffee shops and the library are always nice as well.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I play guitar, piano and the ukulele!
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? President of the United States
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell and This American Life are both great podcasts. I am currently reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and finishing up a fantasy series!
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to
Columbus: A trip to Easton is always fun and a walk down High Street in the Short North is a cool glimpse of Columbus. Fox in the Snow is a favorite for coffee and breakfast.
Which organizations are you involved with around the community? I am a member of the Columbus Young Professionals, and we are active members of the Tri-Village Chamber and Experience Columbus. I am also a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish. As a recent graduate and having recently moved back to the city, I hope to become more involved in different organizations!
Tell us about a community initiative that you’re most passionate about: The new Columbus Crew Stadium starting construction soon in Arena District!
What’s the most exciting thing about Columbus right now? The growth, the change and the new businesses! Columbus is rapidly transforming, but there is a lot of excitement and optimism about its future.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? The pulse of Columbus is in its small businesses, local bars and hangouts, and, of course, Ohio State Football.