Seeking New Land: Local Business Owner Expands Horizons

On prominent display in Riley Brown’s office, which is in the Cedar City Small Business Resource Center, is a model canoe. The canoe, called a Vaka, is used in the Cook Islands where Brown served an LDS mission. The canoe is the namesake for Brown’s business, Vaka Studio. Brown hopes to use Vaka Studio to explore new horizons.

Brown grew up in Cedar City and attended Southern Utah University for part of a semester before choosing to focus on his career in video, something he had always been passionate about. Vaka Studio offers video, photo, web, graphic design and online marketing services.

“For the most part, I already knew what I wanted to do,” Brown said. “I didn’t necessarily need a degree … there were people that already wanted to hire me, and work that I could do for myself.”

Photo courtesy of Riley Brown – Riley Brown with his wife Aubryelle Brown and their newborn son.

Early on in his career, Brown did graphic and web design for Dr. Robert Barrick, a dentist and business owner in Cedar City, which has helped him find success locally as a means of supporting his wife and son.

Brown credits much of his success to friend and client Tayson Whittaker. Whittaker is a local business owner who has found success with Outdoor Vitals, an online company that sells outdoor gear.

“I can’t talk about where I am today without Tayson Whittaker,” Brown said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunities he’s given me…He gives me all the freedom that I need to do what I want to, and I can get behind his dreams as well.”

Recently, Brown decided that he also wanted to break into creative film. He is searching for people to act, write and produce a short film. Brown’s work in advertising has allowed him to do that to a point, but with this project Brown hopes to inspire genuine emotion in his viewers, rather than promoting a product or business.

Photo by Megan Fairbanks

“In a short film, you only have a certain amount of time, and you have to make people feel something,” Brown said. “We’ve been telling stories since the beginning of time, and it’s all about sharing emotion. There are a lot of eerie, weird short films out there and that’s because it’s easier to get the viewer to feel things like fear. I want to inspire those higher emotions like compassion or charity. I want it to be my best work, and I can’t do it alone.”

While several people, including some SUU students, have expressed interest in the film, Brown encourages anyone with an interest in this project to contact him. More information about Vaka Studio can be found at To find out more about Brown’s short film, email him at

Story by
Megan Fairbanks