The self-taught business owner creates custom vinyl graphics, signs and other creations from his home — witnessing a surge in sign creation during 2017.

At the age of 16, Josh Stealey dug into the world of computer coding and website design, never dreaming his hobby for technology and creativity would turn into a family business 18 years later.

Stealey said his mother always encouraged his creativity through gifts of art supplies. The self-taught business owner creates custom vinyl graphics, signs and other creations from his home — witnessing a surge in sign creation during 2017. For 2018, he plans to take care of legal details and find a suitable building — all thanks to his wife pointing out that his creative endeavors could become a family business — D.o1ne Designs, a name that combines Stealey’s nickname “Digital One” with the creation of his own designs.

“When things started picking up a bit more, it’s turned into a family business,” he said. “My wife’s helping me, I’ve got my kids stepping up — they like doing it, so they’re helping me.”

Josh Stealey referred to his wife, Elia, as “my backbone,” crediting her for inspiring him to build the business as a family. His children, Mariya, 9, and Joe, 15, are part of the team, too, and the new year brings Stealey hope that he can continue to expand into creating more signs to go along custom vinyl graphics for windows, tumblers and many other items. 2017 marked a surge in creations, including the black and gold sign at the Powder Room, signs for Crazy J’s Swag, Crazy J’s Smoke Shop, The Strand, America’s Hometown Essentials, and VFW Post 2446.

So far, the Stealeys’ business has been growing through word-of-mouth. He said there are financial challenges ahead like pursuing a business loan and locating the right building. But Stealey is backed by the support of his family, and he noted that a lack of formal education has never stopped him from letting his creative vision show through.

When he was 18, Stealey recalled bringing a floppy disk filled with his web designs and graphics to the art director at Lewis and Clark Community College in Alton, Ill. Although he wasn’t able to enroll in classes, the road to the burgeoning family business had already been laid out during the visit.

“I couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘Save your money, and your hired,” he said. “Really, after that job, I’ve been feeling it ever since.”

As he chatted with Pedal’rs Bicycle Shop owner Bobbie Altiser, Stealey said he enjoys helping local small businesses — noting he’s beginning to tackle the same challenges that fellow business owners faced. He said he donated the window sign at Pedal’rs, which incorporates pinstripes and vintage lettering that was exactly what Altiser had in mind.

“I just said, ‘do something,’ and he did it,” Altiser said with a smile. Stealey said the sign reflected his role as an “illusionist.”

“You make something appear, but it’s really not — it’s a visual effect,” he said. “You’re adding smoke effects to a picture and you can animate it where it looks like smoke.”

As spring rolls around, Stealey said he is eager for more jobs in the area and opportunities to grow. He said he hopes to obtain direct printers for clothing and vinyl in the future— which would allow him to create custom clothing and perforated signs that portray an image outside but present a lightly-tinted appearance inside. Each day, Stealey said he strives to hone his craft through the constant support from his family and their shared goal of building the business together throughout 2018.

“You’ve got to constantly grow, you always have to leave room to grow and learn,” he said. And Stealey said he wouldn’t be where he was today without his wife and children’s support.

“They’re all helping me invest in my dream,” he said.

To find out more about D.o1ne Designs, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Do1ne.Designs/ or call 573-719-3211.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com .