When sis said I should meet Kim Brundage, I browsed her website and thought, "Oh, a beautiful woman taking beautiful images of other women, got it." We exchanged some emails on the topic of e-newsletters, which was the project Kim was considering at the time. Even when the working relationship is project-based, such as e-newsletter campaign, meeting the client to learn about the business is an absolute must. So we set a coffee date. In the West End. At a Starbuck's. At 8 AM.
I spent 11 years in traditional and formal business environment till 2010. I wore the corporate uniform - full on business suits, dresses, hosiery and sensible business shoes. I had my signature Starbuck's formula. I played the office politics, climbed the ladder and strategized how I would succeed. I did well but I did not feel well. The field I was becoming an expert in on a national level, did not give me joy.
One day I made the transition. This side of the fence, the crazy, unpredictable and unstable life of an entrepreneur, is where I feel I belong. I've built and helped others build brands and businesses where my contribution was meaningful. I can't wait to do bigger and better things and know that I can.
But every so often, I still catch myself thinking, "Are you CRAZY? What are you doing? Get a JOB!"
I held onto all my corporate wardrobe until recently in case I ever needed to get a job-job again.
So the internal struggle is real.
I write about that because that internal struggle explains why driving on 64W at 7:30 AM, getting a spot at a Starbuck's in the middle of the West End business annex, surrounded by business people waiting for a beautiful photographer that takes beautiful head shots of business women made me uneasy.
I looked around and suddenly thought, "Why didn't I get up 15 minutes earlier to put face cream on my blotchy face? Am I wearing too casual of an outfit on purpose?"
Then in the next breath, I would tell myself, "EFF THAT, that's not important."
You know, the struggle.
It is real.
6/3/16 I drove on 64 at 8 AM and am sitting at the busiest Starbuck's with a drive through.
Six baristas behind the bar. Tinder dates and meetings on the floor. This is a whole different Richmond!
Seeing Is Believing
The first marketing agency I worked as a project manager, I learned rather quickly my drawing skills come handy when communicating with graphic and web designers and clients who are visual communicators.
Talking about a design project is tedious and there is a lot of grey area left to interpret subjectively.
Of all the marketing related projects I help manage, I find client-designer mismatch the hardest to navigate. Conceptualizing and giving feedback to design drafts in written format, as an email or text comment is often painfully inefficient to me. I'm quick to put a pencil to paper in an attempt to draw out what I'm trying to say, which I find designers are a lot more receptive to. Over the years, I've adopted a few helpful tools I use depending on the purpose. Here are some of those tools and how I used them.
Paper, Pencil and Flipagram
Talley's Meat and Three
When Shoryuken Ramen partners Jessica and Josh Bufford opened Talley's Meat and Three, they had to explain to me what "Meat & 3" meant: classic Southern style supper comprised of one meat/protein, three side dishes and bread.
Using Paper app and Pencil stylus, I put together social media notes and suggested hashtag campaign #mymeatandthree to engage audience to share their unique dining experience. I wanted to write text and use drawings to show examples as I go. But I also searched and found inspiration reference photos on Instagram and screen captured them to share as well. Here is a page of my note:
Another strategy I proposed to showcase the concept of Meat & 3 was a stop motion video showing how different each meal combination could be, reinforcing #mymeatandthree idea. On a snow day in December hanging out with my neighbor Ariel eating tiny M&Ms, I made a Flipagram video to show Jessica how it would apply for Talley's Meat & 3.
Ariel is a product designer, so she helped a lot in troubleshooting and styling. A few things we learned in our first try:
1. Take all photos in Square photo layout (for Instagram) to avoid cropping.
2. Mark plate position so it doesn't jump from one shot to another.
3. Add more time for a shot (ending shot here) by using copies of the same photo.
Six months later, Talley's Meat & 3 video series came into fruition. Instead of hiring a photographer or videographer, Jessica designed her own special tripod for photo taking, edited and produced all of her videos herself. This was the aftermath of our photo shoot:
And here is one of the videos for Talley's Meat & 3! Keep following Talley's Instagram (@talleysrva) to see the rest of videos in the series or better yet, go and order your own #mymeatandthree plate!
Here is another example of Paper and Pencil just for fun! I made this to explain how a ramen bowl gets assembled to new servers at Shoryuken Ramen. To achieve this in any other way would have been step-by-step photos, then captioning them individually. Much faster, fluid and effective this way.
Next week, more design tools for non-designers and how I used it for LivingSwellRVA.com, more specifically, to capture my sister Seo's personality perfectly in the logo.
Questions? Comments? Let me know what else you would like to see by leaving comments below. Want to work with me to grow your business? Email me and let's have coffee.