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‘Nobody is doing this’
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jun 11, 2013 | 1100 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo -- Total Creative Solutions, a Sparks-based design business, specializes in augmented reality for branding and marketing. To see how it works, download the free 'tcsAlive' app to your smartphone and scan the picture above with your device's camera.
Contributed photo -- Total Creative Solutions, a Sparks-based design business, specializes in augmented reality for branding and marketing. To see how it works, download the free 'tcsAlive' app to your smartphone and scan the picture above with your device's camera.
SPARKS -- If it was not for an office in the basement of the City of Reno’s Community Development building, Sandra Silva and Michelle Calloway wouldn’t have met. And ... they wouldn't have found their calling as small business owners.

Silva, CEO and printing expert, and Calloway, Creative Director and Partner, applied for the same city job in 2001 where they were each able to unleash their respective talents. By 2010, both had left the City of Reno, Calloway to re-enroll in college and Silva looking for a new working life. Upon collaboration, the pair’s goal was to take mobile marketing applications to the next level.

“We really believe that we are put in certain areas for a purpose and a reason,” Silva said. “We both have kids in school and we were tired working with the city and seeing that Nevada is last in everything and that Reno is a dirty little city. We were tired of that because we know how hard everybody worked to make it as phenomenal as it is -- and it really is.”

The result was Total Creative Solutions (TCS), a Sparks-based design studio, specializing in augmented reality for branding, marketing and multimedia outreach. Augmented reality allows for live viewing of a real-world environment through computer-based sensory, input including sound, video, graphics, etc. The simplest way to explain it is download the free ‘tscAlive’ app and use it on the picture above.

“On our app, we have what we call channels,” Calloway said. “If we did a job for someone their stuff would go on a channel on our app so it didn't get mixed up with someone else's stuff using another app. It is a lot more proprietary than QR codes.

“Augmented reality uses an image recognition software, and it is not a QR code at all. The pattern on your shirt can trigger a response if we connect it that way.”

The image recognition lies in the camera of a smart device which, with the TCS app running, can bring to life any image and induce a flurry of music, video, 3D imaging and much more. Silva said business meetings with companies in northern and southern Nevada proved to the team “nobody in Nevada is doing this yet.”

Silva and Calloway have a purpose deeper than earning a profit with emerging technology, however, and it stems from deep roots in the community and region. Being a new member to The Chamber, both partners agreed that helping local business, families and students in as many ways as possible is the foundation for their business.

“You will not find two women more passionate about supporting their community and keeping it local,” Calloway said of she and her partner. “Another one of the reasons why we are doing it in Reno is we want to keep it affordable to anybody. There aren’t many boundaries to this. What wouldn’t work?

“We are hiring a lot of younger locals because they are like sponges and they are absorbing this stuff. Their mindset is already geared towards that. Within two years, I bet you anything, you will see people walking along and they will be holding up their smartphones for this.”

Silva said allowing newly graduated students the chance to find a career with TCS only gives them a reason to stay in the region and help the prosperity of northern Nevada.

“We want to give those kids a chance to chase those tech skills and then provide the workforce and the jobs for them here,” Silva said. “We don’t want them to leave this region. If they want to leave they will, unless there is a good paying job giving them a reason to stay.

“We want to see this whole area succeed because it is our kids too that are going to be employed by (potential businesses using their app). This is mainstream. It’s inevitable. That is why we are so vocal that this was brought to us for a reason, and the reason is to get it out there.”

Sara Borland was recently brought on to the TCS team as a social media expert. She said managing multiple platforms of social media at TCS, and being engaged in daily design conversations, has given her more experience than she initially planned.

“I have learned so much and a lot of this stuff I can apply later on,” Borland said. “I can use it here and at school and apply it to my outside life, so I am getting a lot of knowledge.”

Jennifer Ortiz, a creative assistant, said the informal nature of the small office allows her to feel comfortable when asking questions and looking for feedback.

“I like that it is a little more relaxing because I feel like I can ask for help,” Ortiz said. “It is not like being put into a place where they say ‘you should know this already.’ I feel that I can find help when I need it and it takes the stress off me. And now when I am out of the office, I find myself looking at a logo or something and thinking ‘We could make that a video.’”

Total Creative Solutions is available online at and the ‘tcsAlive’ app is available from the Apple App Store and Android’s Google Play Store.
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