DESIGN@WORK

Connecting the dots between business and design.

Recent Posts

What, No Blogging in May?

Here we are at the end of May already! Phew, it’s been a busy and fulfilling month @ work — so much that I did not have any spare time to write the blog. I was super busy being the a new business owner and your design consultant as I worked with my partners to launch our new enterprise The Dog Studio at the National Stationery Show in New York last week.

This was a unique experience mostly because aside from designing our greeting cards, I’m in charge of the other look-y stuff too like the trade show booth, catalog, and marketing materials. So if you’ve been to a trade show, you know how many details pop up at the last minute. And then, you stand. For eight hours a day for four days. Luckily, I was released on the third day so I could go home and get work done.

MT at NSS

Our booth at the National Stationery Show

As most of you know, launching a new business can be painful in the details, luckily I have great partners: my sister, photographer Amanda Jones, and her husband Chris Jones. While Chris is in charge of our wholesale accounts, partnership and the details of running the business, Amanda is great with customer relationships and keeping us all on track. Plus, she ran our Kickstarter campaign, which was an amazing way to crowdfund our first print run!

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Amanda on Press with our first run of greeting cards

At the show, we had some wonderful firsts: our first wholesale order; our first introduction to card companies who’s success we aspire to; contacts at big stores like Hallmark and Walmart (eeps!); and international distributors who expressed interest. Mostly it was great to get feedback on our products and begin to learn how to best move forward. It was a successful launch!

Amanda & Melissa at the stationery show

Amanda & Melissa at the stationery show

If you’d like to follow our progress, please join our mailing list, or like our Facebook page. We’ll be sure to blah blah blah our experience. Our website is www.thedogstudio.com, which will be open for business this fall.

Inspiration: 10 Great Business Card Ideas

Aren’t you so bored of your 3.5″ x 2″ 4-color business card? Well, let’s push it out of the rectangle! Print doesn’t get much attention in these days of the Interwebs and Facebooks, but there are a few places where putting the effort into something really unique is worth it. Especially if you actually hand your business card to another person, making it remarkable will make you memorable. Here are some inspiring examples. See more on the original post »

1. Make-up Artist

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Advertising Agency: OpusMúltipla, Curitiba, Brazil

2. Framing Company

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Advertising Agency: Piko, Moldova

3. Fitness Trainer

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Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

4. Sommelier

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Caserne

5. Bike Technician

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Rethink Canada

6. Dentist

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7. Smoke Shop

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Advertising Agency: Bos, Toronto, Canada

8. Investment Representative

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Advertising Agency: Rethink Canada

9. Yoga Center

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10. Divorce Attorney

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via Bored Panda

Introducing The Dog Studio

Introducing The Dog Studio

AJ-MT-Shopped-SMA fresh approach to greeting cards and social stationery for dog lovers.

I’m excited to finally share my big news with you! For the past few months, I’ve been working hard at starting up an exciting venture with my sister, renown dog photographer Amanda Jones, and my brother-in-law Chris Jones. Our new company, The Dog Studio, pairs Amanda’s stunning dog portraits with my enthusiasm for beautiful design to create contemporary stationery and cards — and eventually gifts and home items. Very soon we will be releasing products that dog lovers (and lovers of dog lovers) across America will go crazy for! We hope.

Ultimately, we want to influence the quality of dog imagery used on products everywhere. And make beautiful cards and gifts. Our goal is to create products that are unique, smart and beautiful while giving back to the dog community. For that, we have created a “Royalties to the Rescue” program that makes financial and product donations to groups that help shelter dogs.

Here’s an example of our cards…

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

We will be launching to the resale trade in May at the National Stationery Show in New York City. In September we hope to launch our online store so everyone can buy one! Or two or twelve.

We hope you’ll come along for the ride! Learn more about it and how you can keep up with us at www.thedogstudio.com.

The Workshop Workshop: “Facilitation by Design”

Facilitation by Design Workshop

This week I attended a workshop on…workshops. A part of AIGA‘s Design for Good initiative, “Facilitation by Design” was led by service design superstar Renna Al-Yassini of user experience firm Adaptive Path. With loads of experience under her belt leading diverse groups to successful solutions, Renna led us through her process of how to prepare and execute a productive collaborative session.

Workshops can help with…

…gathering information
…making decisions
…clarifying direction
…generating new ideas
…building consensus
…creating compromise
…making a plan
…gleaning knowledge
…engaging teams
…boosting morale

Why a Workshop?

Collaboration. Workshops (like designers!) are by nature collaborative. As opposed to a regular old sit-down meeting where people may discuss a topic, a workshop is designed to resolve a specific challenge question by engaging invested participants. Problem-solving is approached with pre-conceived activities designed to gain perspective from diverse participants. It’s the perspective of the participants that brings the most value to the session. Whether it’s designed for morale-building or to conceptualize improvements for the staff onboarding process, getting the right people in the room who can speak to the details of the problem and offer constructive insight toward a solution is key.

Problem-solving. Workshops solve problems, or at least one specific part of a bigger problem. They can be used to bring different community groups together for consensus-building and planning (like building a local dog park), or strategic planning for companies or nonprofit organizations. They can be used in the very beginnings of a project, such as the start of a new design initiative, or checking in on the progress of a longer-term project to see if the roadmap is on track. Or it can be used at the end of a project to set final deliverables and a launch plan.

Flexibility. The beauty of the workshop is its flexibility of application. Once you get that the collaboration can be designed to target any specific challenge question (that is, what do we want to accomplish by coming together?), you can see that it can be used to approach any business problem…or community or organizational challenge, for that matter. The problem can be big or small, involving many participants or just a few. Which brings us to…

Who Needs a Workshop?

Workshops are not limited to launching a new design initiative. Here are just a few examples of who can benefit from a workshop:

  • Nonprofit organizations for strategic planning
  • Banks for new line of business ideation
  • Community coalitions for creating a roadmap
  • Marketing departments for successful brand rollout
  • Corporate mergers for information gathering
  • HR departments for troubleshooting internal processes
  • Product development teams to review & refine product design

What’s your main business challenge right now? Maybe it’s time to reach out to an objective facilitator to create some structure and collaboration around tackling it.

For more information:

Launching a Film for a Great Cause: The Noble Spirit

I’m going to tell you a little story that helps explain why I haven’t posted in several weeks.

On a beautiful, sunny but windy day in July, I was sitting on a beach in Rowena, Oregon, with my laptop working, of course (what else would I be doing on a beach?), when an older gentleman in a wetsuit sat down near me. Near enough to say hello and ask me what I was working on. We struck up a casual conversation — as strangers do on a beach — about the strength of the wind (very popular topic in the Columbia River Gorge), the kite surfers (also popular), and my boyfriend-at-the-time who was out there windsurfing while I was working on the beach. I had no clue that 14 years later, this stranger would be struggling to live with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or that I would be doing my darndest to promote a documentary about him in order to help him reach his goal of raising as much money as possible for ALS while he was still alive. Over the years, he had become one of my dearest friends — my family on the West coast, in fact. I discovered that during this hardest part of his challenging life that I’d do anything for him, because he’s always done so much for me, and the many friends he’s made across the world.

Melissa & Fred on my  Birthday Party in Portland, 2003

Melissa & Fred at my Birthday Party in Portland, 2003

Before Fred was first diagnosed, we knew something was going wrong with him — he was tripping a lot and had difficulty walking. But he’d had a terrifying paragliding accident a few years earlier that almost killed him (3 times) and cracked his pelvis in half, so we thought the problems were complications from that fall. In December 2010, he got the news that it was ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I can’t tell you what ALS stands for, and no doctor or scientist can tell you exactly what causes the disease, nor what will cure it. It’s a terrible diagnosis, not only because of what it does to the body but because there’s no fix for it. It’s a slow deterioration and suffering until death. Fred’s body has slowly been shutting down on him over the last three years while his mind stays sharp as ever.

Fred Windsurfing in Brazil, 2002

Fred Windsurfing in Brazil, 2002

For Fred, this is the worst thing that could happen to him — worse even than a fatal drop paragliding,  a deadly crash while wilderness skiing, a murderous confrontation while traveling in an exotic land, or a life-ending fall from the tall towers that he spent his working life building, climbing, repairing. Fred is a do-it-yourself, super-capable kind of guy. When you’re Fred’s friend and you find something that you can do for him that he needs help with, it’s supremely satisfying. In these last years, he’s had to learn reliance on others and to let them take care of him. I suspect that this has been the hardest challenge of all — letting go of the idea that he can do anything himself. When you’re bound to a wheelchair and you lose the ability to feed, clothe, bathe, relieve yourself…you’re forced to face this. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier. As Johnny Cash sings, “It all goes down in your mind.” That can be a steep mountain to climb, especially when people stop understanding what you are saying because your speech is so impaired.

Melissa & Fred, July 2013

Melissa & Fred, July 2013

Once Fred accepted that he had ALS and this was the way it was going to go, he got busy making plans. Not plans to die, but plans to do as much as he possibly could while he lived. He met up with the local ALS Association chapter and decided to put on a fundraiser that was close to his heart — Ski to Defeat ALS. The event has raised $500,000 in three years. Although Fred is no longer able to ski on his own two legs, he’s already mastered the sit-ski which is evidently as much a blast. He trained for the fundraiser by heliskiing in the The Bugaboos. On the sit-ski.

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Fred wilderness skiing, 2012. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

Next, Fred decided it would be cool to make a movie that documents his experience with ALS so that it could be used for additional fundraising after he is gone. Thus, The Noble Spirit was born. A film crew followed him around for three years and made a beautiful tribute to him, designed to inspire courage and generosity in others — traits we can learn to cultivate from Fred. Here’s the trailer:

That brings me to the point of this post. For the last three weeks, I’ve been working my tail off to pull a website together for the film release, www.thenoblespirit.org, update Fred’s blog, organize the Facebook page and connect it to the Twitter account, create posters and flyers and other promotional material, and of course create the email campaign. All those things I do every day for my clients, but in this case they are the most important things I could ever do. To honor my friend.

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Fred at our annual summer BBQ. He is a total chick magnet. Still.

Fred’s lived his life by the mantra of “never say no,” and it’s been chock full of fantastic adventures, wonderful friends across the globe, satisfying successes and a few painful accidents. By all accounts, his has been a life to be envied and modeled. I myself learned that I don’t have to work while I’m sitting on the beach. It’s OK to put the laptop down and have a friendly conversation with a total stranger. Who knows? He may just be one of the best people you’ll ever meet.

The film The Noble Spirit is slowly rolling out, mostly on the West coast right now. You can keep track of screenings here, or follow our Facebook page and we’ll keep you updated. And remember, as Fred always says: Every day is a gift. Enjoy!