Day late and a dollar short, like always. But per my last post, I’ve been cutting back a bit. Taking time to do quality > quantity, ya feel me? And focus on a few other things, like my sanity and more relaxing time. Enjoy what’s left of the summer and such.
Any who here are a few lovely digital finds from the past week:
I hate most zoos because I love animals and think they should be roaming free in their natural habitat, or in a sanctuary if they are injured or endangered. That said, this is a very cute orangoutang. I want to be his best friend.
How is everyone doing? I’m doing decent. Kero‘s feeling a bit under the weather though and woke me up at 4:45AM and 5:20AM this morning, so I’m feeling a bit exhausted from that.
But per my thoughts last week, I’m really trying to take a step back and chill the F out too. And that means evaluating what is and what isn’t working in my life; what contributes to my happiness and what subtracts from it.
As much as I love this blog, I’m not so sure I can follow the typical “blogger guidelines” of posting daily and sharing on all the social platforms and engaging with other random bloggers online and networking and backlinking and doing the chicken dance… If you haven’t noticed, I’m already pretty bad at all of those things. And while I still want to try and make this little blog as awesome as possible, I want to take the pressure off a bit too. To check in with myself and make sure that I’m sharing things I’m excited about, instead of simply sharing “content.” To stop worrying about taglines or content themes.
TBH, I’m not sure what all this rambling means. I guess it’s just to remind myself to stop using numbers as a gauge for success or failure. And to just do something because I like to do it.
Just think it’s important to check in with yourself, and make sure you’re working on things that either bring you happiness or bring you closer to your other, bigger goals. Food for thought, peeps.
On that note, here are my digital finds of the week! Hope they brighten or inform your Sunday and the rest of your week:
Instagrammable foliage, cozy sweaters and all the candles my arms can carry out of TJ Maxx (#Maxxinista lol).
I really think Fall is my new favorite season. I used to be a semi-typical Midwesterner and say that summer was my favorite season–it’s pretty outside, it’s warm and it’s my birthday (July 26 in case you were curious), but I always forget how disgustingly hot the summers can get here. Or maybe that’s just global warming. Either way, I’m such a sweater/cardigan/layers girl that I am WAY too excited for the temps to start dipping. But only a little bit. High 50s, low to mid 60s. That’s my jam. Below that though? Um, nothanksbye.
Hmm, well what else is new with me? Nothing much really. Been doing a lot of work on myself, if I’m being honest. Just trying super hard to take better care of myself. Trying to take more time to chill the F out.
It’s weird how as an adult you begin to identify all the little habits, behaviors or beliefs you pick up from your parents, or other influential people in your childhood, and how they help or hinder you as an adult. Most people probably don’t enjoy digging up past experiences, good or bad, but it’s such an important exercise to do. Whether it’s with the help of a therapist (woohoo for therapy! really need to break the stereotype with that, btw), meditation or journaling, I think it’s always good to take a look back and challenge why you think or act the way you do now. Not only does it make you a happier, more well-rounded person, I also believe that the most successful people are the ones who don’t just accept their circumstances or beliefs–they’re constantly challenging themselves and trying to be better. And that’s what I’m doing.
I just realized I’ve been to the gym every single day this week, which feels awesome. I’ve been doing a mix of yoga, strength training, cardio and #BBG. So either tomorrow will be a rest day…or not. Going to listen to my body and see what I can do (Ladies Days has me feeling a bit lethargic and lacking in energy). But aside from that, I’m really trying to develop a healthier relationship with my food, especially now that I’m stepping up my workouts. Guess it goes with my whole “working on taking care of myself” theme. Which, the colder seasons are kind of awesome at–forcing you to be inside and sort of care and take account of where you are, emotionally, physically or otherwise.
Any who. That’s all I have to say today. Oh, and download these desktops because they’re pretty cool, don’t you think?
Hey guys. I’m pretty damn tired right now. Not really sure why. Just feeling a bit lethargic and lazy, which probably isn’t the best thing since it’s a Sunday and I’ve gotta be back at it tomorrow! Oh boy…
I guess until then, I’ll drink my red wine. Eat my parmesan crusted chicken. Watch this Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix (have you watched it yet!?) and maybe read a book before bed. Hope you all have a lovely, relaxing evening as well.
Maybe it’s the Lady Times, but this ad almost made me cry.
Arguably, this summer hasn’t been the best for my reading (a million apologies, Good Reads). But it has been pretty damn good when it comes to movie viewing! #winning
While I’m excited to see what comes out in the next few months, here are a few movies I’ve seen lately worth note (or worth..not a lot):
The Secret Life of Pets: Yes, this was cute and clever, which definitely qualifies it as a “love” movie this month. However, I personally was a little disappointed. Maybe I’m a diehard Pixar fan? Or maybe my humor’s gotten too dark? Because some of it just seemed a little too…predictable and cheesy for me. That said, it’s still a very cute, fun movie to see and seemed like a crowd-pleaser, based on the theatre attendees I was with.
Finding Dory: As mentioned, I’m starting to become a huge fan of Disney-created animated movies. And this second film did not disappoint. Of course, pieces may be slightly predicatble, but for the most part it was cute and maintained the essence of the first film. Highly recommend (and–sorry but–I recommend it over Secret Life of Pets).
Popstar: Has anyone seen this? I totally missed it and now I’m sad and don’t know where I can watch it… I love Andy Samberg though and feel it my civic duty to see anything he stars in.
The Accountant: I know Ben is a bit of a mess right now (and I totally take Jen’s side in…whatever is going on with their family), but he’s SUCH a good actor and The Accountant looks amazing. Already scheduling this for date night.
The Girl on the Train: We’ll see if this movie is as good as the book (which I highly recommend, btw), but I’ll see it nonetheless because I’m really loving thriller lately. And Emily Blunt.
Now You See Me 2: Ugh, I can’t with this movie. I *wanted* to like it. It had all these major stars (Harry Potter!) and I was surprised by how much I was into the first movie. But take 2 on this was no good at all. HARD. PASS.
Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates: I love Aubrey Plaza and really wanted to see this. But then I did…and was disappointed. Went with my friend though, and she liked it. So I might have to chalk it up to my inability to appreciate simple humor.
I am not doin’ so hot still. Woke up feeling great, but as the day’s worn on, I’ve started to feel worse and worse. Now I’m just trying to breath through my nose…
While we wait for that to happen, let’s review all the things I’ve been listening to recently, shall we?
I’ve been on the Podcast game HARD as of late. Of course, I keep my Spotify going constantly (that membership is worth all), but have really been trying to so my audio “reading” while doing chores, going to work or going for walks with Kero. Here are a few of my faves:
Lady Lovin’: This podcast grew on me. Hosted by Lo Bosworth (you know, starred in Laguna Beach, The Hills and basically my entire high school life) and a few of her gal pals who discuss everything from beauty and health to sex and relationships. Originally, I thought the ladies chatted a little, ahem, too much. But now I love this podcast. It’s relatable and has tons of incredible takeaways.
Monocycle with Leandra Medine: I love Leandra. She makes it okay to be weird, which is a huge thing for me (fun fact!). My favorite episode is this one because it’s so raw, emotional and unedited. A drastic departure from what your typical podcast has become. Every human in the world needs to listen to it.
Oh Boy by Man Repeller: Surprisingly not all about fashion or the team at Man Repeller (though I wouldn’t mind if it was), this podcast is a series of interviews with noteworthy creatives, movers and shakers doing cool things. Always great if you’re looking for #inspo on your commute.
Modern Love: Recommended to me by a co-worker, this thoughtful podcast explores the various ways people define, fall, thrive and deal with love in the “modern age.” Perfect reminder that one size does not fit all when it comes to love and relationships.
Schoolboy Q’s album: Basing this purely on hype and this piece.
Frank Ocean’s album: Because, duh. *Update: Have listened, and LOVE! Now on Spotify… #justsaying*
Spent: Downloaded this forever ago, when I was on a “NEED TO SAVE MONEY” bender. Which, I’m arguably still on… Either way, I like the style of the podcast, from what I’ve heard, now I just need to dedicate the minutes to actually listening to it…
Myleik Teele’s Podcast: Myleik Teele is the creator of Curl Box, and I love everything about her. She’s a straight-forward, successful and stylish entrepreneur. The 3 S’s basically. She just kick’s ass. Also highly recommend following her on Snapchat.
The Tim Ferriss Show: I wanted to like this podcast because I think Tim has some good #ProTips, especially for bloggers, creators and biz owners, but…I can’t. It’s so long. And bro-y. PASS.
The #AskGaryVee Show: Again, a podcast I *really* wanted to like. But after a few listens, I just feel annoyed. And usually I love his books and other materials, but hearing his voice…in that way…and then the tips or subjects they explore aren’t even that interesting? Yeah, no thanks.
GirlBoss Radio: You may be sensing a theme but, yes. I did want to like this podcast as well. However, she raddles on for the first 10 minutes and I just don’t care enough. Depending on the interviewee, it can be really interesting, but for the most part, um..no thanks.
WELL. Let me tell you. This weekend was not what I expected.
What do I mean?
Well, I got a little thing commonly referred to as a “cold” or “flu.” Literally started feeling symptoms on FRIDAY AFTERNOON. It’s like the little cold planned to completely fuck up my weekend. Like, thanks.
Praying that I feel a bit better by tomorrow AM and can get in a morning and start the week off better than my weekend’s been. What’d you all do this weekend? Minus read the below links, obvii.
Quick story: At my last job, I happened upon a rebranding proposal pitched to one of our clients by a Chicago-based branding agency named Knoed.
Hopefully you know this by now, but I’m kind of an art and design nerd. So here I am, at work, flipping through this gorgeous graphic design book created by this awesome company and I’m dumbstruck.
There’s just something in me that lights up when I see people doing incredible creative work. Whenever I run into someone that strikes me like that, I’m nearly compelled to reach out and introduce myself. And that’s exactly what I did–I reached out to Kim Knoll and said if they were ever looking for a copywriter, I’d love to help.
While she didn’t take me up on that specific offer, we did end up reconnecting later when I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed for this blog.
Now, full disclosure, this post is long. But it’s juicy. And inspirational. And I’d love to continue creating pieces like this because THESE are the people that give me life and fuel. They’re the incredible, creative people doing awesome things in the Midwest–something that I personally believe gets overlooked when people think of the heartland.
But enough of my babbling. Without further ado (as they say), please say hello to Kim of Knoed Design…
DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY TO THIS POINT.
I went to school for graphic design. I always knew I wanted to be a designer, even in high school. I was in a lot of art programs and my teacher told me to pursue graphic design based on my style and what I liked doing in class. Though, it really wasn’t a hot thing to do at the time.
I’m kind of a planner, so when I went to college, I started working part time as a receptionist at a design firm to try and get a feel for graphic design to make sure it’s what I wanted to be doing. Because you’re going to college for 4-6 years, and I thought to myself, ‘What if I get out and I don’t like any of this?’ Ultimately, I was able to see the behind the scenes, which I really enjoyed, so I pursued it.
I completed college in 6 years and left Chicago as soon as I graduated. I just picked up and moved to Arizona, where I lived and worked as a designer for the first 3 years of my career. I started out as an in-house marketer for a senior citizen fitness program, where I designed tape and CD cassette covers and posters for really bad senior citizen materials. It’s not glamorous whatsoever, though it makes a great story now and I gained a lot of the skills I needed to eventually get a better job.
From there I went to a graphic design studio for about 6 months, where I did quite a bit of boutique client work, which I really enjoyed.
However, I was homesick and wanted to come back to Chicago. So I came back and got a job as a designer at Tom, Dick and Harry Creative Company. Really great people. I would say David Yang completely turned my career around. They were producing really great work, and my book wasn’t the best at the time, but I was really eager to learn and just needed someone to give me a chance and take me under their wing, and he did. I was there for a little under 2 years and we worked our asses off, creating a ton of different things, and my portfolio did a complete 180. I feel like that was a pivotal point in my career; when I started to produce better work. I understood things better. I got more passionate about it.
Those guys were really great. The only reason I left was because advertising just wasn’t my thing and they did more of that then branding and print. And I really wanted to get into a design studio where there was a greater focus on identity work and things like that.
So I left Tom, Dick and Harry and went to a shop called BrainForest, that no longer exists. I was there for about a year, doing print and web for boutique companies. However, you could tell the company wasn’t doing so well. So I left and went to this place called Jones–a really small ad and boutique identity shop–and I worked there as a senior designer for a year. But I could tell they were ready to sell to someone bigger. And at that point, I had experience, felt ready to take on my own clients, and really wanted to work on projects from beginning to end. So that’s when I left to start freelancing.
I’d been working 6 years total when I became a freelancer. And I did that for a year. At the time I was freelancing, my husband Kyle was also freelancing. We were working back to back in the second bedroom of our house, but we each had our own clients. Our own agendas. We were competing for work. It was kind of silly. Then, we started helping each other out. If he was too busy, I would take some of his work and visa versa. We made a really great team, which led us to the realization that we should combine portfolios and start a company together, with one name and clients we both worked on. And that’s when we started Knoed, about 5 years ago.
Eventually we got enough money to rent desks at a co-working space, where we worked for about a year. It was a really great setup and nice baby steps leading up to renting a studio of our own, which we eventually did and are still here 3 years later.
WHAT REALLY DREW YOU BACK TO THE MIDWEST?
Well, I met Kyle when I was in my second to last year of college. I went to school with his younger sister who was in the design program with me. He would come up to visit his sister, and since we were friends, we would all be hanging out with these big groups of people. At some point, he noticed me and that’s how we met—through his sister.
I immediately knew he was amazing. And we ended up having a fling for four months–every time he would visit his sister, we’d hang out. Then I’d drive down to Champaign and hang out with him. It got to the point—he didn’t have a car—and we were entering our last year in school and shit was just nuts with our projects and studio time. And we’re thinking, ‘What are we doing? Are we going to take this seriously or not?’ and ultimately we both decided to call it off. We graduated, I moved to Arizona and I didn’t talk to him for 3 or 4 years.
Then, when I was working at that in-house marketing job, I got an email from an old roommate of mine. She said Kyle was trying to find me and forwarded me his email, so I wrote him back. We were both single and started talking over email, and then phone—just catching up and basically getting back together.
I flew home for Christmas, we met up and spent the whole day together. And I knew I really wanted to be with him, but I didn’t want to move back to Chicago just to be with a guy.
So I head back to Arizona, walk up to my apartment and see a big notice on my door saying they’re turning our apartments into condos and my lease, which would end in two months, would not be renewed. That same week, my best friend told me she was moving to Seattle in two weeks. And then the company I was working for—the boutique design firm—ended up going under. Essentially, within a month’s time I didn’t have a place to live, I got let go of my job and my best friend moved. Taking these things as signs I should not be there anymore, I packed up whatever I could fit in my car, drove back to Illinois and moved in with my mom to save some money. I got the job at Tom, Dick and Harry two days after I moved back, then Kyle and I started dating for real. Six months later, Kyle and I bought a house together and three years later we got married.
HAVE TO ASK, HOW’S WORKING WITH THE HUBBY?
In the beginning, it was a little harder because we were both working out of our house and it was tough having your work and home all in one place–we never got a visual separation from the two. And you know how you’re at work too long and you start getting agitated by it? We were feeling that a lot. So as soon as we got desks at the co-working space, it helped create a visual division between work and home. We would get out of our PJs, get dressed and go to place with normal working hours. And when it was time to leave work, we would physically leave it and come home and chill as a couple, which really helped.
Another thing that’s helped is to define very specific roles, so we don’t step on each other’s toes and we can create stuff that we can own. While we’re both designers and do all the work 50/50, Kyle does a lot of new business–he’ll do all the proposals, writing people back about inquiries, billing and bookkeeping. And I do a lot of the scheduling, client management, social media, entering our work into things, or writing students back about questions they have and stuff like that. And then when it comes to design, Kyle manages most of the web design projects and I manage most of the print design. It really helps that he does his thing and I do mine, but we come together for brainstorming or critiquing, things like that.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED OWNING YOUR OWN COMPANY?
When we first started out we would take anything we could get. We would do anything. If someone wanted a logo, package, website, we would say yes. But we realized we were constantly creating new relationships and bringing some new designer on board just to do a logo, and then that designer would go away. Plus, it was a lot of work trying to get to know someone and their business. And we were getting really tired of constantly pitching new people. We also realized we would rather build a design identity from scratch, rather than being handed a pre-existing identity.
All of these things led us to focus more on branding because we could form one relationship and get 5-10 projects with that person and do everything; it’s all your vision. We only showed branding work in our portfolio in hopes it would start to attract more people interested in branding and 360 identity work, and it did.
DO YOU LIKE BEING YOUR OWN BOSS? EVER DO YOU MISS THE 9-TO-5?
It’s love/hate. It gets lonely for sure. I’m the kind of person where I need to talk during the day. I can’t sit at my desk all day, but Kyle can. I also miss being able to bullshit with a coworker or go out to lunch, because it’s not something we do. But collaborating? Kyle’s one of the best people I’ve ever collaborated with, so I don’t feel like there’s anything lacking in that. It’s always fun to collaborate in a big group, but I feel like I still get that here—even if its just him and I. It gets a little lonely sometimes.
HAS IT TAUGHT YOU TO TRUST YOUR OWN OPINION MORE, THOUGH?
I got to the point of trusting my opinion right before I started Knoed.
Luckily, as far as design goes, both David (at Tom, Dick and Harry) and Scott Manee (my boss at JONES) taught me how to get out of my head, put it to the side and start over, and just keep doing that. I would get my work done pretty fast and we’d still have a couple days before the presentation. And they’d be like,”That’s great, but what else could it be?” So I’d start over or try to push the idea further. They just drilled that mentality into me.
Now, being on my own, I just automatically keep doing that and I almost feel like there’s a CD (creative director) over me saying, “That’s great, but lets see what else you have,” because I’m so used to hearing that. And I’ll tell Kyle the same thing: “That’s great, but what else do you have?” So we’re always pushing each other and then we’ll narrow it down to the best ideas from that pile.
In our position, we just have to trust what we’ve done. But, we’re also at a point in our careers where we can [trust what we’ve done] because we’ve been doing it for 12 years now and the more you do graphic design–practice graphic design–the better and faster you get and the more ideas you have. At least, that’s how it is for us.
Design is less of a struggle that it used to be. And it used to be a struggle, but then, if you keep doing it over and over, you get better and you get there.
WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING IN CHICAGO? HOW’S THE GRAPHIC DESIGN COMMUNITY?
There was nothing out in Arizona. There were no good [design] firms. No good work. It was just a ton of corporations who needed in-house designers. There was no community for artists or designers, which was one of the reasons I left. But I think here [in Chicago], there’s a huge community. I have a lot of friends who own their own studios or work at some of the big ones.
As far as getting work, I feel like there’s more than enough to go around. We get inquiries all the time that we say no to because it’s not a good fit for us, so that work goes to someone else. Luckily we don’t have a problem getting work, and I think it’s because we’ve been doing this long enough that we’ve made a lot of connections, our websiteis out there and our clients come back, which leads to a lot of repeat work.
One of the negatives I’ve noticed, however, is that you seem to hear about the same creatives over and over again. I don’t know why, but it seems as if there’s 20-30 people that I hear their name in a lot of exhibitions and things like that. There are so many great people doing great work and they’re not being recognized, and I wish there was more of an opportunity to uncover those people instead of recognizing the same people over and over again.
YES, SO YOU HOST CREATIVE MORNINGS FOR CHICAGO. HOW DID THAT START?
Swiss Miss launched Creative Mornings out in NY in about 2008. She was just doing it for Studiomates (her co-working space/office) to bring someone in and inspire the office and her team. Eventually more and more people wanted to attend, and she started getting venues to host these speakers so that more people could attend. Then someone from Studiomates moved—to Sweden or Stockholm—and wanted to bring it out there. So he requested a guidebook and that’s when she put the whole thing together. And that was the 2nd chapter, now there are over 130 chapters worldwide.
Chicago was #5 and started back in 2011, when Mig Reyes(a designer at Basecamp) applied to start the chapter. He ran it for a year and a half, but wanted to teach at Starter League and didn’t have the time to balance both. Kyle and I happened to be speaking at Creative Mornings in 2012 and he asked us at the end of 2012 if we wanted to take it over. And me, being the planner I am, was stoked about the opportunity. We officially took over Creative Mornings in February of 2013 and we’ve been doing it ever since–over 3 years now.
Because Knoed is just the two of us, Creative Mornings is a nice way to get out and just talk with people; get in the inboxes of some really great people and get a peek inside their minds. And I really love the vibe Creative Mornings gives off. I like that it’s free. I love seeing all the people there every month. I like that there’s no catch. You just kind of go and get inspired. And I was a huge fan of it before we were speakers at it—we would just go and sit in the audience–so it was a no brainer to keep it going.
One of my favorite parts is in the morning, I say, “Okay everyone, we’re going to started in 5 minutes and in those 5 minutes I want you to turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself,” and you can hear the room go from this silent buzzing to this big boom, as everyone turns around and the chatter goes way up. And every month that makes my heart skip a beat.
In the beginning, when Mig hosted, there were a lot of designers that would attend and speak. It was almost strictly for designers. So, naturally, it drew that crowd. But about two years ago, Creative Mornings HQ came out with themes for every month to better unite all the chapters. And once we started getting those, it pushed us to start thinking ‘Who would be good for this theme?’ and look outside of the graphic design community.
Since the start of those themes, we’ve had architects, tattooists, toymakers, obviously graphic designers, murals, street artists, photographer, filmmakers…all kinds of people.
Right now the audience seems very mixed–it’s designers, photographers, a lot of creative directors. And then we have people like knitters; people in the textile artists. We have people that are in college all the way up to age 55 who come. And then you have people who aren’t professionally creative at all, but have creativity in them and attend to get that part out. Really, it’s all different lives and ages now.
HOW DOES LIVING IN CHICAGO (OR THE MIDWEST) INSPIRE YOU?
I think what I love about Chicago is that there’s such a utilitarian, hardworking, rugged work ethic here. And I think it shows in a lot of the visuals. Just going downtown you see a lot of the old, hand-painted brick walls from businesses that no longer exist. And it’s all weathered. That whole feeling is in a lot of design in our community, and in a lot of things that inspire us.
There’s this whole movement to go back to hand-painted signs, and every designer is having their logo or mural put up on a brick wall now and it’s kind of like the new Chicago; the new old.
We [at Knoed] have a very minimal, almost European aesthetic, but then we like texture. We always apply some sort of texture to whatever it is we’re working on. And I think those textures are inspired by being here–seeing things that aren’t pristine; are a little worn and have some authenticity to them. For me, when I look at a design book, I can tell–without even looking where the designer is from–what’s generally done in the Midwest versus the East versus the West. Because I think we totally have a style here, or at least a look.
FAVORITE PLACES TO GET INSPIRED?
I just like going to a park and lying down on a blanket and staring at the sky. I know it sounds really cheesy, but it really helps me clear my head. I’m an outdoor person, so being outside is just a great feeling for me–not in the winter, because its freezing, but when it’s warmer. A lot of ideas come to me when I’m outside–when I’m at a park or walking my dog. When you’re on autopilot, it allows you to think about whatever you’re working on; it’s in the back of your head. A lot of my ideas come out that way.
I know for Kyle, his ideas come out in the shower. We even have a waterproof notepad in the shower for him to jot ideas down on.
There isn’t necessarily a specific place, but we try to do these things we call “Mental Health Days” and go to the MCA or gallery—somewhere with artwork or sign work—to get inspired.
WHAT DOES YOUR STANDARD-ISH DAY TO DAY LOOK LIKE?
We get into work around 10am. Usually on Mondays we’ll have a status meeting, where we’ll go over what each person is working on and the plan for the week. Then, I usually have to go through emails from 10 to noon–I have a lot of emails to go through. Same with Creative Mornings–I try to get that stuff done by noon.
From noon till about 6 or 7pm, I just do design work and client management kind of stuff.
I’m sure Kyle’s day probably looks different than that, but we’re pretty much at our desks all day, working. And if we’re not at our desks, we’re out at a meeting, learning about someone’s project or presenting our work. But for the most part we’re here.
HOW DO YOU BREAK FROM THE SCREEN?
When I’m in brainstorming mode, I sketch in my sketchbook. Even if I’m brainstorming a website design, I like to sketch out ideas before I go to a computer. And there’s a couple things that we do that are hand-drawn, so I’m doing that too. But for the most part it’s sketches, or I’ll sit at the worktable just brainstorming.
HOW DO YOU BREAK AWAY FROM WORK WHEN YOU GO HOME?
Work never turns off. We’ll be out at dinner on a Saturday night, and it’s really romantic, and then the conversation will turn to improving our process. It doesn’t ever turn off and we’re okay with that, because we really love what we do. And when it’s your business, all you want to do is work on it and make it better. And its just him and I; it’s all up to us. When we leave the office, it feels good and we can go home and chill out, but there’s so many times where we have to talk about work even if we aren’t at work.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? DO YOU WANT A TEAM OF 5 SOMEDAY?
We’ve intentionally stayed small. We really like this niche that we’re in. We’re bigger than freelancers, but smaller than a Firebelly. We’re the ones who talk to and do the work for our clients, and there’s not too many places out there like that, so I think there’s something that makes us different in that way. And we still like doing the design work.
A year or two ago, we had one employee for about a year, but it turned us into managers, where we were trying to bring in work to keep that designer busy. And Kyle was starting to jump on more of the biz side of things than the design side, so then it was up to me and that other designer. And Kyle and I work so well together, but with that additional designer, things started changing, and not in a way that we wanted them to change. So we ended up having to let that person go because we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were doing a good job of what we were doing, but we weren’t happy. So we just had to make that call.
I think we would probably grow, but we’re just not ready for that. And whenever we do, we have to make that commitment that we’re going to step back from the design. Because as soon as we start hiring, we’re going to have to be the managers of everything.
But I do think at some point we’ll get there because we’ll be burned out.
WHAT KIND OF LEGACY DO YOU HOPE TO LEAVE?
I would hope my legacy would be inspiring people to be true to themselves, with what they want in their career or life, and having the courage to go get it. That’s why I love CreativeMornings so much, and why I put so much of myself into organizing these events. Sometimes all it takes is to hear someone speak to something you’re struggling with or be inspired by another person’s journey, to put a fork in your road and choose a different path…one that leads to changing you and your life forever. I believe staying true to who you are—no matter what anyone expects of you—is the only way to experience true happiness.
ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO BE A DESIGNER?
I talk to a lot of students through Creative Mornings and Knoed and I’ve noticed there’s almost this feeling of entitlement. Young designers think they can just graduate, get a job and be put in a vice president position at the age of 23. And I just want to say: be prepared to be at the bottom of the totem pole and stay there for a few years. Work on really shitty projects and work your way up the ladder. It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience, but you have to put in that time if you want to go somewhere.
A lot of people are eager to get the best title or the best job right away, but if you did that, what do you have to look forward to? You’re going to be working for 4o years, till your 60? 65? So if you get that title in your 20s, then what? I guess you could start a company and go that route too, but there’s nothing wrong starting out as an in-house designer working on senior citizen materials. It doesn’t mean that’s shaping or dictating who you are as a designer. You can always start over. I had a great portfolio coming out of college and a terrible portfolio after two years of this profession. But you can keep working on things on the side, get into a great job and then you can throw all that shitty work out and start over.
Keep going after what you want. You’ll get there, but you have to put that time and effort into it. And have patience.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNGER YOU?
For my younger self, I would tell myself…that’s hard. I think it’s very similar. Because I was one of those people who felt entitled. I would go to interviews and think I was the shit like, “Isn’t this work great?” and expect a job. I had a really hard time and my ego got bruised, but I think it was a really good thing.
It’s hard when you’re in school and your professors are telling you you’re good, then you win a scholarship and an award at this show–it’s really hard to keep your ego in check. But then you get out into the real world and it’s not like that at all. There are so many great people doing great things out there and you’re just one in a million. So you have be a little more humble.
I would say I should’ve been more humble then I was.
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE CREATIVELY SATISFIED?
I think so. I feel really fortunate. I’m really happy with the kind of work we [Kyle and I] get. And we put our heart into everything we do, but we work a lot of hours to get things to where they are.
I feel really fulfilled, and this is by far the best job I’ve ever had. And the longest. I also have things to look back on and compare it to. That older adult fitness program, I could be working on stuff like that. But when I stop and I think about being able to work on Tru Studio or Hannas Bretzel, it’s so great. And it’s people we love working with, work that we love doing and businesses we love supporting. I feel great about all of that. I only hope that we can keep working on that kind of stuff because there are always people out there who are better than you, and could take that client out from under you. So we just feel happy with where we are now and hope it keeps up.
Thank you so much for letting me interview you Kim! And side note, sorry it took me so long to get this published, but super happy I finally did. To all you readers: please comment with any further questions or anything this interview sparked. I’d love to know! // P.S. This interview has been edited for clarity & time. // P.P.S. All the beautiful images were pulled from Knoed.com.
Maybe it’s the cooling of the weather, but I feel like I’ve been staying in and watching even more shows than usual. Is that possible? Apparently so. Because I have the below roster and it’s about to blow up with even more good fall shows coming to TV in the next few months. Oh, did I mention we recently got cable? Yep, we did. Pretttyyy excited about it. If you guys have any recos for me for the next month (because it does seem like I have no life at this point, doesn’t it?), please leave them in the comments below.
Shameless: I may be late to the party, but I’m obsessed with this show. I tried to watch the UK version awhile back, but the characters had such thick accents it was hard to understand. On a whim, a month or so ago, I needed to pick up a new show on Netflix (after finishing Jane the Virgin, which I also highly recommend) and I haven’t stopped watching it since. Great character development, interesting plotlines annnddd it takes place in Chicago! I swear I’ve even walked by filming of the most recent episode a few weeks ago. No, but really.
WAGS: WAGS (season 2, btw) is an acronym for Wives and Girlfriends of high-profile athletes. While I’m a major feminist, I can also be traditional and am semi-obsessed with how different women act in different types of relationships and marriages. Also, money and pretty people are always fun to watch, right?
Teen Mom: They’re back, baby! Been watching 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom since they first came to TV, so at this point, watching this show is almost like visiting an old friend. That’s a normal thing to say about an MTV reality show right?
Atlanta: This is Childish Gambino’s new show and…I just can’t say enough good things about it. The way it’s shot, the writing, the topics they cover and how authentic the whole thing feels? It’s a must-watch. Seriously. It’s only one episode in (second episode debuts tomorrow night), so get on it NOW.
American Horror Story Season 6: I’ve been hot and cold on this show since it came out. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I thought the first few seasons of AHS were really well done, so I kept watching. However, there have also been a few seasons where I was like, “Um, no thanks. Hard pass.” And other seasons where I only watched it because the actors were hot (last season). Crossing my fingers this season is better than the last few. Stay tuned…
JonBenet Ramsey CBS Special: Apparently it’s the 25th anniversary of the JonBenet Ramsey disappearance, which explains why every network is diving back into this investigation. However, the one I’m most interested in watching debuts next Sunday on CBS. Who’s watching with me?
Ridiculousness: This isn’t new, but am I alone here!? How does this guy have his own show where he watches YouTube videos and provides commentary? His commentary isn’t even good! And this is coming from a girl who openly watches Love & Hip Hop (a non-scripted-but-clearly-scripted-with-terrible-actors-and-actresses reality show). I know this is a random one to throw in, but it’s been a long time coming. Please take your Ridiculousness and go away now.