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While not the official birthdate of the company – this 9/9/2017 will mark our 9th year of operation. What a incredible ride with blessings along the way. Lets recount what its all been about these nine years:

Its been about dreaming and working with my best friend and wife to build a company that cares for this world through humble service.

Inger and Michael Schafer Plan design company

It started here in my Brookland condo with my two creative muses who visit me often with ideas.

Brooklander Condo
The Schafers

As friends and family helped bring in business, the hardest working designer in town, Vince Lewis joined me at the condo office — sorry I have no photo of his face but he has one and recently started his own company!

Vince Lewis Designer

To my amazement and delight the talented designer and inspirational speaker Ashleigh Axios bravely joined us in the tight makeshift bedroom turned office. Later our amazing intern Hannah Hudson joined us full-time. Take a minute, 3 humans in one small room with kids going through potty training feet away. That’s bravery.

Ashleigh Axios
Hannah Hudson

Its been about wonderful clients such as Nathaniel Axios at NWF and 9marks, that gave a small team a chance to work on big ideas. With clients like them extending their trust, we moved out into an office space one block away… still has that homey feel.

Nathan Fussner Designer
Michael Schafer designer

Which meant we could get joy spilled visits from our awesome clients like Amy Boles (Whose actual birthday is 9/9)!

Amy Boles visits

And we (now including the creatively dunked Nathan Fussner) could receive gracious edible gifts from our clients! There in the background is Alex Fogg the dynamic intern who did two summers with us.


The office does have its dangers, like our spooky basement

Spooky openbox9 basement

While our office spaces have been part of our story, the 9 years have always been about the kind-spirited creative people I’ve had the honor to work with. Such as the thoughtful and creative Mary Crocamo and the keen eye for branding Josh Cutherell… and I get to work with my Mom whose book-keeping skills and moral support is priceless.

My longtime colleague of 14 years, Joe Tan, is talented beyond measure in building our websites. Sadly he’s been in Vancouver for years now so I stole a facebook photo of what he would be like here at the office – chucking a frisbee.

Joe Tan Developer

Our master blaster of a project manager and web strategist Claire Kennedy, whose wit keeps us going! Yes, that’s me creeping up on her and taking a priceless photo and I make no apology.

We have fun, like that time I rented the back of Hannah’s head and she shaved the number 9 into it. Or when we bottled gin.

We’ve also been about animals, not just working on projects to protect them but I got to meet Bo Obama during a company outing and Ryan wore Ranger Rick’s head!

Ranger Rick

More recent fun,, here’s our great Design Director Ryan Han and creative wizard Sonia Polyzos teaming up to build the tallest stack of doritos.

Ryan Han and Sonia Polyzos

Its been about family since the beginning and still is – Hello baby Summer!

Ryan Han and Summer

Its been about eating together and discussing a wide array of topics but mainly I talk about cannibals and zombies. Thanks to our commando creative developer Charlie Duong we also know where all the best places to eat in DC are!

Charlie Duong slurpee

These 9 years have been an outstanding story of so many people making this happen through sweat, creativity, humility, and prayers. May the next 9 years be as good!

Team openbox9 designers
Michael Schafer
Michael has spent the past 25 years applying his experience and superpowers to further the missions of social-good organizations, and has no plans to stop.