Willoughby Design Announces New Ownership & Client Additions

Written By

Megan Stephens



Posted On


Megan Stephens - Willoughby Press Release
Zack Shubkagel - Willoughby Press Release
Nicole Satterwhite - Willoughby Press Release

Leading Brand Design Firm Positioned for the Future

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI — Willoughby Design, Inc., a nationally-acclaimed brand strategy and design firm based in Kansas City, MO, and San Francisco, CA, announced today that Megan Stephens, Zack Shubkagel and Nicole Satterwhite have purchased the company and assumed key leadership roles.

Founded by Ann Willoughby in 1978, Willoughby has a long history of designing brand identity systems, communications and retail experiences for a large range of national brands and entrepreneurial startups.

“We learned that it’s rare for a firm like ours to seamlessly transfer ownership to the next generation of employees. There wasn’t a best practices guide to follow but, together with Ann, we did it. As we move towards our 40th year in business, our leadership team is securely in place. We will continue pushing the boundaries to design the most effective and evocative brand experiences in the categories of food, fashion and wellbeing,” said Megan Stephens, Managing Principal.

Megan Stephens, Managing Principal, is a 19-year veteran of the company. She became a partner in 2009 and has served as President for the last 5 years.

Zack Shubkagel, Principal, is a 12-year veteran of the company. He became a partner in 2009 and moved to San Francisco in 2012 to open the company’s first satellite office supporting west coast clients.

Nicole Satterwhite, Principal, is a 20-year veteran of the company and has served as design director in the Kansas City location for the past 10 years.

Ann Willoughby, an AIGA medalist and active leader in the national design community, will continue serving as a consultant and ambassador for the business moving forward in her role as Founder.  In 2015 Ann was awarded an AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the design industry.

“When I founded Willoughby Design, I was committed to creating a culture of creativity that would attract and retain the most talented designers to do world-class work that matters. Megan, Zack and Nicole are committed to that same vision. I’m confident that the future of Willoughby is in great hands,” said Ann Willoughby.

Willoughby is also proud to announce several recent client additions including AMC Theatres, Taylor Farms and Russell Stover Chocolates. They continue to provide ongoing work for Panera Bread. The firm serves a variety of design and strategy roles for these clients.

“We are focused on the future of business, the industries we serve and leading the charge as the design industry responds. The Communication Era has brought rapid changes and disruption in our clients’ markets and our own. We are constantly exploring new ways of working and solving problems. Willoughby has always been at the forefront of strategic thinking and will continue to do so,” said Shubkagel.

The company will remain a woman-owned business enterprise that is dedicated to bringing a female perspective to clients. Its current flagship location at 602 Westport Road in Kansas City and its west coast location at 25 Stillman Street in San Francisco will be maintained. All 17 employees will be retained, many of whom have long tenure with the company and have played an integral role in the company’s success.

About Willoughby Design

Willoughby Design brings a vital female perspective to business in a world where 80% of all purchases are made by women. Established in 1978, it is the oldest, continuously operating design firm founded by a woman in the United States. It remains a WBE business, owned and operated by a creative leadership team of tenured women and men who are highly passionate about helping clients create vibrant brand and retail experiences in the categories of food, fashion and wellbeing. More information the the company, clients and community impact can be found at willoughbydesign.com
February 8, 2017

Contact: Jon Stephens
Rockhill Strategic