- Zaheen Chowdhury
Muslim-owned Memphis Businesses: Ashir Kirk's DPWS
In today’s digital age, it is crucial for businesses to have an online presence. Design Pro Web Solutions (DPWS), a Memphis-based creative agency, aims to help businesses do just that. The company, founded by Adrian “Ashir” Kirk, provides clients with web development and design, branding, graphic design, mobile-app development and more. Kirk is a Quran and Islamic Studies teacher at Pleasant View School and the Midtown Mosque. He studied Arabic, Quran, and Islamic Studies in Syria and Morocco.
When asked about the creation of his company he says, “What motivated me to start my web development company, initially, was… after I came back from overseas…I found myself in a situation where I needed work.” Before launching DPWS, he attempted to create a business, but it was not successful. At 22 years old, newly married, Kirk felt like he needed to do more.
He says he started to go on YouTube and teach himself new things. When recalling his experience, he laughs as he says, “I don't remember how I landed on web development and graphic design.” When someone told him about a free software related to graphic design similar to photoshop, he began to learn how to use it on his own. He describes his first designs as “horrible, horrible, horrible… you couldn’t call it a logo.” He sold a few logos to businesses, but it was not very serious. Kirk also began to experiment with web design and says, “I got pretty decent… and got a couple [of] decent little projects but it just wasn’t sustainable after a while.” After getting a job offer as a Quran and Islamic Studies teacher in Ohio, Kirk left the business alone for a while until he moved to Memphis.
In late 2016, Kirk restarted his business when he got a new idea and states, “It was like a lightbulb went off.” He wanted to find and hire some people experienced in web development and graphic design while he himself would find and deal with the customers. He tried his idea out for the first time and was beyond impressed and asked both a web developer and a graphic designer if they would be interested in joining his company. However, he says, “I was just breaking even from the business…I was about to quit…last year, I was really heavily contemplating whether I should quit the business.” But for Kirk, 2020 is the year for his business. His business began doing so much better and bringing in more revenue.
“I absolutely love seeing the logo printed, finally printed… I like to see it be used,” Kirk says when asked about his favorite part of working at DPWS.
One of Kirk’s more famous designs is for the brand, Browndages. Browndages is a company founded by friends of Kirk’s which creates bandages for people of color. The brand attracted many after actress Lupita Nyong’o’s posted a picture showing herself with a Browndage on her knee.
Throughout his journey, Kirk has learned about the basics of business, customer service, and employee management. But most importantly, he mentions his increase in empathy towards others. For his advice for young Muslims, he states, “A lot of people say business isn’t for me, but I would say consider it…give it a shot… without trying, you’ll never know.” Kirk also says, “I definitely recommend starting your own business… if you have passion, you’ll be able to do many things.”