From design student to president

Alumna Soonduk Krebs is the president of SK Designworks, Inc.

Tyler professor Soonduk Krebs and graphic designer Brendan McAuliffe converse in Krebs’ studio. | Greg Frangipani TTN
Tyler professor Soonduk Krebs and graphic designer Brendan McAuliffe converse in Krebs’ studio. | Greg Frangipani TTN

Tyler School of Art professor Soonduk Krebs, owner of SK Designworks, Inc., said that growing up in South Korea set a high standard for her life, in which excuses are unacceptable.

After moving to America when she was 20 years old with no family, Krebs decided to attend Tyler.

“South Korea has such a vigorous push for success … ultimately, having grown up with such a high standard and coming from that kind of environment, it pushed me to have a dedicated work ethic,” Krebs said.

Krebs described Tyler as being very intense.

“I hardly slept and was constantly just thinking and working,” Krebs said. “It’s a real boot camp.”

After graduating, Krebs landed a job at a design studio right in the city and worked there for about four years. She had been teaching graphic design and typography at Tyler since 1992.

Her company creates graphic designs, logos, invitations, promotions and a variety of designs. Its client base reaches out to commercial, educational, public service and nonprofit institutions including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington; Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. Krebs started the company in 1996, with no family around to help and no open doors for her.

“I had to do it by myself and work with complete strangers, yet working with strangers, it’s amazing how they help you through,” Krebs said.

Krebs said her biggest challenge with running her own business has been marketing the design company.

For the company members, getting the right clients and the clients they want to work with has been tough. Many of her employees come from Tyler. She said many of them give off good energy because they are young and eager to work.

“Most of them like working here,” Krebs said. “We prep them for the jobs that are more harsh.”

In addition to being the president of her own company and teaching five-hour classes every Wednesday, Krebs juggles the responsibility of being a mother.

“I have a 20-year-old daughter, and by the time she was in high school I had to calm down my career to be [more supportive for her],” Krebs said.

Krebs said there was a period in her life when it was a challenge to be a mother, run a business and teach all at the same time.

“I have a very supportive husband, however, it is a huge challenge for women to balance their career and child care … and easier for men to focus on their career over childcare,” Krebs said.

Thus far, Krebs said her life has been successful in maintaining a balancing act between her work and home life.

“I feel like I have it all because I was able to still maintain my career,” Krebs said. “I have this great kid right now, I’m happy with the business and I’m still teaching, so when you look at it like that, yes, I do have it all.”

Ramona Roberts can be reached at

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