So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Couple of eggs in a wrap with whatever happens to be in the fridge.
Lunch:
Grocery store salad bar.
Dinner:
Puttanesca/Hobo red sauce.


Morning ➛
I usually wake up for the 2nd or 3rd time around 6:30am, since Ike likes to keep his sleeping habits unpredictable. I change him, hand him off to Emma for his breakfast, then make a pot of coffee for us. Coffee, these days, has become a necessity. After I hit the showers, I take Ike downstairs for our exercises. I’ll stretch and show him how to do push ups. Then we work together on rolling over…but mostly he just laughs and chews his fingers. Currently, Hoofcase headquarters is a 13 minute drive through rural Ohio, from Apple Creek to Wooster. The only traffic concerns are Amish buggies and the 20mph school zone, patrolled by our one and only village cop, Woody. Woody and I attended high school together and we always exchange a friendly nod and steering wheel wave when I pass. Our office is a spacious loft that spans the entire second floor of an old brick building in downtown Wooster. It has high ceilings and tall windows, and is situated atop a butcher shop and deli market. It’s the kind of space that would be $50,000 a month in Brooklyn, but we get it in trade for graphic design. One of the many perks of a small town. At any given time, I’m usually working with about 5-8 clients. I bounce around from project to project all morning, while answering emails and listening to podcasts (Marc Maron, Adam Carolla etc.). Podcasts are reserved for my design work, while music or silence are choices for composing emails or writing copy. Hoofcase clients are very diverse-both as companies and geographic locale. Our current roster includes a burger restaurant (Ohio), a boutique hotel (Astoria, Oregon), a make-your-own chocolate shop (New York City) and a wine aerator company (San Diego).
Noon ➛
A quick 4 minute drive and I am at our local YMCA. I typically run on the treadmill to try keep belly in check and then conclude with some gratuitous flexing and posing in the mirror. Afterward, I hit the only salad bar in town and back to the office. My friend Adam, the butcher from downstairs, pops up to the office and shoots the shit. Since I’m the only one in the office these days, it’s nice to have a friendly neighbor to fill the gaps of staring at computer screens. Plus, Adam always has a sample of some new smoked meat for me to taste. It seems you can’t talk about a butcher without it sounding like a sexual innuendo. The wife and I usually chat around lunchtime and I get any marching orders: packing supply requests/kid needs/dinner requests etc. to bring from “town”. Since the kid showed up, Emma has put the event production arm of Hoofcase on hold and has been tending to him and simultaneously preparing for our move to Los Angeles the first week of April. No small task after filling a house over 5 years.
Night ➛
Another 13 minute commute back to the farm at about 6pm, and its time to start making dinner and drinking wine. My 94-year-old grandmother lives about a half mile away on the west side of our farm and we often visit her in the evenings before dinner. She loves holding Ike, even though she hates “his good-for-nothing name” and she’s super pissed we’re moving to California - and isn’t one bit shy about telling us so. Once the vegetables are chopped and sautéed, I add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer. Right about then Ike will start getting cranky so we take him upstairs for a bath, nursing and off to bed. Emma and I eat the puttanesca and finish off the wine while watching The Daily Show - and try not to fall asleep. We still have a shitload of work to do before leaving. But, we’re very excited to be heading West. Winter can suck it. We’ll miss our good friends, having family so close, and living on this farm surrounded by fields and Amish. But we’re looking forward to all the new opportunities awaiting us in Los Angeles. Oh, and Thai food delivery. Mainly Thai food delivery.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the suit? Pretty formal for a designer.
I think that being a dad has given me license to be corny and silly. The truth is, a suit goes a long way in setting the tone in the beginning of a relationship with a client. I have a lot of conversations with company founders and CEO’s, and they need to know that I take their business as seriously as they do. I don’t want them to see me as some guy who can make their logo pretty. I’m the guy who can help them build a brand strategy that will improve their company’s revenue.
2. Moving from NYC to a small town to live a quiet life is a dream for a lot of people. How did you manage to get clients and have a successful business being in a little town in Ohio?
I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Back in 2000, if you knew what a computer was and could spell HTML, you could get a design job. I happened to reply to a post on Monster.com for the Everlast gig and because I didn’t attach my portfolio to the email, it downloaded faster than the other 634 applicants and I got an interview. I showed up in New York from Ohio a week later and after two interviews they asked if I could start the next week. Which was the week before Thanksgiving. I said yes, if you can pay the $457.84 for my moving truck rental. I was the entire creative department for the first 4 years of my career, and I made a shit load of mistakes. But anytime they asked if I could do something, I said yes. Can you take photos? I lied and said yes. Next thing I know I’m flying to Vegas with a 2.5 megapixel camera and a duffel bag full of extension cords and shop lights and I’m shooting the then pound-for-pound champion of the world Sugar Shane Moseley in a boxing gym. From then on, I was the photographer. Can we get this 100 page catalog to print by next Tuesday? Yep. So I spent 4 days and nights at the office, taking product shots and cat naps in the small boxing ring we had in the lobby. Climbing out the window and smoking cigarettes on breaks. Usually the first person in the office would wake me up and I’d get back at it. I always said yes, and it always got done. And my salary was $34,000 a year. In New York. Often we would get stock options, rather than a cash raise, which at the time was frustrating since our stock price was $1.75. But I loved working there, and have lifelong friends from that time, because we all worked so hard for each other. My last year at Everlast we worked together with a consulting firm and rebuilt the brand from the ground up. Research, brand strategy, vision statements, logo refinement, product redesign, packaging redesign, web site rebuild, etc. I had a front row seat to the entire process and soaked it all in. The company was purchased soon after, and those $1.75 stock options I was pissed off about before, were all of the sudden worth $32.50. I had enough to take a year off, but not if I lived in New York. So I went home to our family farm in Ohio where the living is cheap. I was completely burnt out and done with design. I spent a few months fantasizing about making furniture or surfboards or anything that didn’t involve a computer. Eventually a friend asked for some help with a company he was building, and I begrudgingly said yes. Once we got started, I had a revelation. I’m really fucking good at this! I had gained so much knowledge by keeping my head down, saying ‘yes’ and plowing through work that I didn’t have time to realize how much I had learned
3. So, what’s your first thai food delivery order once you’re in LA? You can choose three dishes.
Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and something spicy with peanut sauce.


Brandon lives in Los Angeles (as of last week) with his wife and son. He owns Hoofcase, a company that leverages business strategy and well-honed creative instincts to build strong emotional bonds betweens brands and consumers. hoofcase.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Couple of eggs in a wrap with whatever happens to be in the fridge.


Lunch:

Grocery store salad bar.


Dinner:

Puttanesca/Hobo red sauce.

Morning ➛

I usually wake up for the 2nd or 3rd time around 6:30am, since Ike likes to keep his sleeping habits unpredictable. I change him, hand him off to Emma for his breakfast, then make a pot of coffee for us. Coffee, these days, has become a necessity. After I hit the showers, I take Ike downstairs for our exercises. I’ll stretch and show him how to do push ups. Then we work together on rolling over…but mostly he just laughs and chews his fingers. Currently, Hoofcase headquarters is a 13 minute drive through rural Ohio, from Apple Creek to Wooster. The only traffic concerns are Amish buggies and the 20mph school zone, patrolled by our one and only village cop, Woody. Woody and I attended high school together and we always exchange a friendly nod and steering wheel wave when I pass. Our office is a spacious loft that spans the entire second floor of an old brick building in downtown Wooster. It has high ceilings and tall windows, and is situated atop a butcher shop and deli market. It’s the kind of space that would be $50,000 a month in Brooklyn, but we get it in trade for graphic design. One of the many perks of a small town. At any given time, I’m usually working with about 5-8 clients. I bounce around from project to project all morning, while answering emails and listening to podcasts (Marc Maron, Adam Carolla etc.). Podcasts are reserved for my design work, while music or silence are choices for composing emails or writing copy. Hoofcase clients are very diverse-both as companies and geographic locale. Our current roster includes a burger restaurant (Ohio), a boutique hotel (Astoria, Oregon), a make-your-own chocolate shop (New York City) and a wine aerator company (San Diego).



Noon ➛

A quick 4 minute drive and I am at our local YMCA. I typically run on the treadmill to try keep belly in check and then conclude with some gratuitous flexing and posing in the mirror. Afterward, I hit the only salad bar in town and back to the office. My friend Adam, the butcher from downstairs, pops up to the office and shoots the shit. Since I’m the only one in the office these days, it’s nice to have a friendly neighbor to fill the gaps of staring at computer screens. Plus, Adam always has a sample of some new smoked meat for me to taste. It seems you can’t talk about a butcher without it sounding like a sexual innuendo. The wife and I usually chat around lunchtime and I get any marching orders: packing supply requests/kid needs/dinner requests etc. to bring from “town”. Since the kid showed up, Emma has put the event production arm of Hoofcase on hold and has been tending to him and simultaneously preparing for our move to Los Angeles the first week of April. No small task after filling a house over 5 years.



Night ➛

Another 13 minute commute back to the farm at about 6pm, and its time to start making dinner and drinking wine. My 94-year-old grandmother lives about a half mile away on the west side of our farm and we often visit her in the evenings before dinner. She loves holding Ike, even though she hates “his good-for-nothing name” and she’s super pissed we’re moving to California - and isn’t one bit shy about telling us so. Once the vegetables are chopped and sautéed, I add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer. Right about then Ike will start getting cranky so we take him upstairs for a bath, nursing and off to bed. Emma and I eat the puttanesca and finish off the wine while watching The Daily Show - and try not to fall asleep. We still have a shitload of work to do before leaving. But, we’re very excited to be heading West. Winter can suck it. We’ll miss our good friends, having family so close, and living on this farm surrounded by fields and Amish. But we’re looking forward to all the new opportunities awaiting us in Los Angeles. Oh, and Thai food delivery. Mainly Thai food delivery.

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with the suit? Pretty formal for a designer.

I think that being a dad has given me license to be corny and silly. The truth is, a suit goes a long way in setting the tone in the beginning of a relationship with a client. I have a lot of conversations with company founders and CEO’s, and they need to know that I take their business as seriously as they do. I don’t want them to see me as some guy who can make their logo pretty. I’m the guy who can help them build a brand strategy that will improve their company’s revenue.

2. Moving from NYC to a small town to live a quiet life is a dream for a lot of people. How did you manage to get clients and have a successful business being in a little town in Ohio?

I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Back in 2000, if you knew what a computer was and could spell HTML, you could get a design job. I happened to reply to a post on Monster.com for the Everlast gig and because I didn’t attach my portfolio to the email, it downloaded faster than the other 634 applicants and I got an interview. I showed up in New York from Ohio a week later and after two interviews they asked if I could start the next week. Which was the week before Thanksgiving. I said yes, if you can pay the $457.84 for my moving truck rental. I was the entire creative department for the first 4 years of my career, and I made a shit load of mistakes. But anytime they asked if I could do something, I said yes. Can you take photos? I lied and said yes. Next thing I know I’m flying to Vegas with a 2.5 megapixel camera and a duffel bag full of extension cords and shop lights and I’m shooting the then pound-for-pound champion of the world Sugar Shane Moseley in a boxing gym. From then on, I was the photographer. Can we get this 100 page catalog to print by next Tuesday? Yep. So I spent 4 days and nights at the office, taking product shots and cat naps in the small boxing ring we had in the lobby. Climbing out the window and smoking cigarettes on breaks. Usually the first person in the office would wake me up and I’d get back at it. I always said yes, and it always got done. And my salary was $34,000 a year. In New York. Often we would get stock options, rather than a cash raise, which at the time was frustrating since our stock price was $1.75. But I loved working there, and have lifelong friends from that time, because we all worked so hard for each other. My last year at Everlast we worked together with a consulting firm and rebuilt the brand from the ground up. Research, brand strategy, vision statements, logo refinement, product redesign, packaging redesign, web site rebuild, etc. I had a front row seat to the entire process and soaked it all in. The company was purchased soon after, and those $1.75 stock options I was pissed off about before, were all of the sudden worth $32.50. I had enough to take a year off, but not if I lived in New York. So I went home to our family farm in Ohio where the living is cheap. I was completely burnt out and done with design. I spent a few months fantasizing about making furniture or surfboards or anything that didn’t involve a computer. Eventually a friend asked for some help with a company he was building, and I begrudgingly said yes. Once we got started, I had a revelation. I’m really fucking good at this! I had gained so much knowledge by keeping my head down, saying ‘yes’ and plowing through work that I didn’t have time to realize how much I had learned

3. So, what’s your first thai food delivery order once you’re in LA? You can choose three dishes.

Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and something spicy with peanut sauce.

Brandon lives in Los Angeles (as of last week) with his wife and son. He owns Hoofcase, a company that leverages business strategy and well-honed creative instincts to build strong emotional bonds betweens brands and consumers. hoofcase.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Smoked salmon and avocado on sprouted rye.
Lunch:
Kale, chicken and white bean soup.
Dinner:
Black bean, squash and chickpea curry.


Morning ➛
Up at 6:45, just to make sure I can squeeze in a beach walk. We’re fortunate to live in Venice, only a few blocks from the beach, so I try and get out there as much as I can. Hearing the sound of the waves tumbling out and pulling back into the sea helps me feel grounded and open to the day. Shortly after breakfast, I have a quick online lactation consult with a client in New York. Then it’s off to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite weekly stops. I’m usually picking up produce for my postpartum clients, but make sure to stock up on a few things for myself and my fiance, Jordy, if I’m not in a rush. Today, it’s a client run. This afternoon, I’m preparing a kale, chicken and white bean soup and my soaked super-grain porridge, so I take my time picking out baby kale from Maggie’s Farm, colorful fingerling potatoes from Weiser Farms and ruby red strawberries from Pudwill Farms. I rarely leave the market in a bad mood.
Noon ➛
I spend the afternoon cooking and caring for my clients, a new mother, her husband and their 5 day old baby girl. Having a child is an incredible period of deep joy and change. Lots of new information, very little sleep and tons of questions and fleeting thoughts on everything from breast-feeding to how one can promote swift healing after birth. As a new parent, having support and good information makes the world of difference. It’s a such a special and intimate period. Honestly, half the time, I just feel lucky to be a part of their transition process. While I make lunch, we chat about her birth story, swaddling and potential names — they’re still trying to decide — and I tell them to take their time, no point in rushing it. When it’s right, it’ll feel right. Once lunch is ready, we sit and eat together, I recommend a few herbal remedies for sleep and pain relief and then show her how to ‘babywear’, which basically means, wrapping a baby on your chest with a stretchy piece of fabric. It’s wonderful for bonding and helping a mom get hands-free quickly. She gets it right on the first try and then jokingly says “I should try this with you”, pointing at their puppy. I laugh, and suggest that she try it out a few more times at home, before a big outing so that she feels comfortable. I quickly soak the grains for the porridge and head home.
Night ➛
It’s one of those rare evenings than I have don’t have something scheduled, so I catch up on a few emails, check in with another client about her midwife appointment earlier that day and take a long bath, scented with an old favorite, Moroccan rose oil. After that, I start making dinner. I like to watch television while I’m prepping and cooking (I’m a multi-tasker!), so I put on “New Girl” and get cracking. Just before 8:30, Jordy walks in the door, and we eat dinner on the kitchen counter and unpack the day. Then I slide into bed, spend a little time on Instagram. Jordy gets in next to me and asks me to listen to some old Sun Ra song he’s really into at the moment. I turn my head, smile and nod drowsily, listen for a few seconds and fall asleep before the song has finished playing.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with your cool room? Do you live in an attic or something?
We live in a darling 1925 craftsman bungalow with a lot of quirky touches, like the redwood-paneled loft where that photo was taken. Our bedroom is actually downstairs, but when we need a little break or some thinking space, one of us will sneak up there. Sometimes we sneak up there together and just hang out.
2. You gotta share how you got into the baby/chef game? It’s a super unique career.
I used to work in fashion pr. As much I loved the vivacity and aesthetic trappings of that world, I was not fulfilled by it. I found myself craving more personal/human interaction. I wanted work to feel less like “work” and more like a vocation. My quiet desire, was to work with women and the body and somehow thread it back through my culinary skills. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen. So I just sat on it. Eventually, doubt wasn’t enough to keep me tethered. I quit my job and started volunteering at a women’s community clinic. It was the best decision I ever made. I gained a broad knowledge of the women’s health world, which prompted my interest in midwifery. En route to learning more about midwives, I discovered the role of the doula. It was as if a switch was turned “ON” — I knew it was for me. Being able to educate and support women and their families throughout such a transitional period, felt so right. I completed my doula training under an incredible midwife in San Francisco and I’ve never looked back. Over the years, I’ve found a way to blend all of my passions into a cohesive offering, which is The Mama Circle.
3. So, let’s say you’re a new mom…your baby is crying like a maniac, you feel fat, and you can’t seem to get caught up on work because of it all. What’s your top three tips for getting your new mama groove back?
Good Support + Good Information: You don’t have to do it alone. There are so many trained professional available, ready to support you. So reach out, weather its for breastfeeding issues, questions about parenting, stress management, or help revving intimacy with your partner. If you’re not sure where to turn, try asking a friend, express your concerns and they may have resources. Otherwise, your current care provider will probably have a referral network, that they connect you too. My biggest piece of advice would be to take everything you read on the notorious online “mom forums” with a pitch of salt, most of it tends to anecdotal, not fact. Trust your instincts.
Eat Well & Regularly: Getting the reigns on your diet after having a baby can be challenging, but do your best to eat mindfully. Try and make sure that whatever your putting in is serving your body. I advise my clients to graze their way through the day. Small high-protien and high-fiber “mini meals” can seem more manageable, especially when you’re super busy. You’ll stay energized and feel more capable. Food apps like The Whole Pantry are great, they can help you come up with ideas when creativity is in short supply.
A Little Bodywork Goes A Long Way: Most women don’t realize how important bodywork is after having a baby. Labor, no matter how it happens, take a toll on the body — it’s very physical. Deep tissue massage, chiropractics and acupuncture blended together or used individually can make a big difference for a new mom. Find time for it. Have your partner watch your baby and get to it. Make it a monthly or even weekly appointment if you can afford to. Time for you is time well spent.


Erica Chidi Lives in Los Angeles, California. She’s the founder and owner of The Mama Circle a resource for expectant and new mothers, centered around helping them gently navigate their journey towards and through motherhood. When she’s not helping to bring babes into the world, she’s usually working out a new recipe or in her vegetable garden. themamacircle.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Smoked salmon and avocado on sprouted rye.


Lunch:

Kale, chicken and white bean soup.


Dinner:

Black bean, squash and chickpea curry.

Morning ➛

Up at 6:45, just to make sure I can squeeze in a beach walk. We’re fortunate to live in Venice, only a few blocks from the beach, so I try and get out there as much as I can. Hearing the sound of the waves tumbling out and pulling back into the sea helps me feel grounded and open to the day. Shortly after breakfast, I have a quick online lactation consult with a client in New York. Then it’s off to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite weekly stops. I’m usually picking up produce for my postpartum clients, but make sure to stock up on a few things for myself and my fiance, Jordy, if I’m not in a rush. Today, it’s a client run. This afternoon, I’m preparing a kale, chicken and white bean soup and my soaked super-grain porridge, so I take my time picking out baby kale from Maggie’s Farm, colorful fingerling potatoes from Weiser Farms and ruby red strawberries from Pudwill Farms. I rarely leave the market in a bad mood.



Noon ➛

I spend the afternoon cooking and caring for my clients, a new mother, her husband and their 5 day old baby girl. Having a child is an incredible period of deep joy and change. Lots of new information, very little sleep and tons of questions and fleeting thoughts on everything from breast-feeding to how one can promote swift healing after birth. As a new parent, having support and good information makes the world of difference. It’s a such a special and intimate period. Honestly, half the time, I just feel lucky to be a part of their transition process. While I make lunch, we chat about her birth story, swaddling and potential names — they’re still trying to decide — and I tell them to take their time, no point in rushing it. When it’s right, it’ll feel right. Once lunch is ready, we sit and eat together, I recommend a few herbal remedies for sleep and pain relief and then show her how to ‘babywear’, which basically means, wrapping a baby on your chest with a stretchy piece of fabric. It’s wonderful for bonding and helping a mom get hands-free quickly. She gets it right on the first try and then jokingly says “I should try this with you”, pointing at their puppy. I laugh, and suggest that she try it out a few more times at home, before a big outing so that she feels comfortable. I quickly soak the grains for the porridge and head home.



Night ➛

It’s one of those rare evenings than I have don’t have something scheduled, so I catch up on a few emails, check in with another client about her midwife appointment earlier that day and take a long bath, scented with an old favorite, Moroccan rose oil. After that, I start making dinner. I like to watch television while I’m prepping and cooking (I’m a multi-tasker!), so I put on “New Girl” and get cracking. Just before 8:30, Jordy walks in the door, and we eat dinner on the kitchen counter and unpack the day. Then I slide into bed, spend a little time on Instagram. Jordy gets in next to me and asks me to listen to some old Sun Ra song he’s really into at the moment. I turn my head, smile and nod drowsily, listen for a few seconds and fall asleep before the song has finished playing.

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with your cool room? Do you live in an attic or something?

We live in a darling 1925 craftsman bungalow with a lot of quirky touches, like the redwood-paneled loft where that photo was taken. Our bedroom is actually downstairs, but when we need a little break or some thinking space, one of us will sneak up there. Sometimes we sneak up there together and just hang out.

2. You gotta share how you got into the baby/chef game? It’s a super unique career.

I used to work in fashion pr. As much I loved the vivacity and aesthetic trappings of that world, I was not fulfilled by it. I found myself craving more personal/human interaction. I wanted work to feel less like “work” and more like a vocation. My quiet desire, was to work with women and the body and somehow thread it back through my culinary skills. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen. So I just sat on it. Eventually, doubt wasn’t enough to keep me tethered. I quit my job and started volunteering at a women’s community clinic. It was the best decision I ever made. I gained a broad knowledge of the women’s health world, which prompted my interest in midwifery. En route to learning more about midwives, I discovered the role of the doula. It was as if a switch was turned “ON” — I knew it was for me. Being able to educate and support women and their families throughout such a transitional period, felt so right. I completed my doula training under an incredible midwife in San Francisco and I’ve never looked back. Over the years, I’ve found a way to blend all of my passions into a cohesive offering, which is The Mama Circle.

3. So, let’s say you’re a new mom…your baby is crying like a maniac, you feel fat, and you can’t seem to get caught up on work because of it all. What’s your top three tips for getting your new mama groove back?

Good Support + Good Information: You don’t have to do it alone. There are so many trained professional available, ready to support you. So reach out, weather its for breastfeeding issues, questions about parenting, stress management, or help revving intimacy with your partner. If you’re not sure where to turn, try asking a friend, express your concerns and they may have resources. Otherwise, your current care provider will probably have a referral network, that they connect you too. My biggest piece of advice would be to take everything you read on the notorious online “mom forums” with a pitch of salt, most of it tends to anecdotal, not fact. Trust your instincts.

Eat Well & Regularly: Getting the reigns on your diet after having a baby can be challenging, but do your best to eat mindfully. Try and make sure that whatever your putting in is serving your body. I advise my clients to graze their way through the day. Small high-protien and high-fiber “mini meals” can seem more manageable, especially when you’re super busy. You’ll stay energized and feel more capable. Food apps like The Whole Pantry are great, they can help you come up with ideas when creativity is in short supply.

A Little Bodywork Goes A Long Way: Most women don’t realize how important bodywork is after having a baby. Labor, no matter how it happens, take a toll on the body — it’s very physical. Deep tissue massage, chiropractics and acupuncture blended together or used individually can make a big difference for a new mom. Find time for it. Have your partner watch your baby and get to it. Make it a monthly or even weekly appointment if you can afford to. Time for you is time well spent.

Erica Chidi Lives in Los Angeles, California. She’s the founder and owner of The Mama Circle a resource for expectant and new mothers, centered around helping them gently navigate their journey towards and through motherhood. When she’s not helping to bring babes into the world, she’s usually working out a new recipe or in her vegetable garden. themamacircle.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Eggs, black beans, and roasted tomatillo salsa on a corn tortilla. Chai tea with honey. Black-eyed peas.
Lunch:
Banana-chia-almond butter smoothie. Arugula with roasted beets and pumpkin seeds.
Dinner:
Roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with greens. Dark chocolate. Bourbon on the rocks.


Morning ➛
Wake up at 6:30am, shower, and read a few books to our 14-month-old son. Make breakfast, feed the baby, and watch as part of it ends up on the wall and floor (though he’s getting better at it all, as they do). Clean up the fray, get dressed, help get my husband and the baby ready for the day, water the ferns, and head over to Berkeley for my early-morning volunteering shift at the Edible Schoolyard. Being in the kitchen classroom with middle schoolers is one of the highlights of my week. During today’s lesson in the kitchen classroom at ESY Berkeley, my class of English-language-learning students is learning to make a recipe for Ghanaian black-eyed peas. My group has students from Spain, Norway, Mexico, and Brazil, and I spend a little extra time with the newest student in the class, who seems overwhelmed. He does a great job with measuring the spices, however, and bonds with two other students who are stirring the pot on the stove. After we set the table and enjoy the meal together, I help with cleanup and talk with one of the kitchen teachers about a few ideas. Since deciding to leave my full-time job a few months ago working with large companies and brands on the for-profit side of things, I have a bit more flexibility for volunteering and for starting to connect more, as I’m looking for a position that will merge my work experience with causes I’m passionate about. I’m connecting with people at nonprofits and not-just-for-profits to hear about their experiences and thoughts about the space. My goal is to help shift consciousness through strategic problem-solving and using technology for social good, all of which makes for some thought-provoking days right now.
Noon ➛
Meetings with a connection who’s working to bring healthy food to schools and with another contact who’s driving strategy at a nonprofit. Conference call with a contact in the environmental space. Respond to emails from more fantastic friends and contacts who are graciously offering to connect me with people they know doing this kind of work. Research a few organizations in food justice, environmental advocacy, and women’s rights. Make progress editing a guide for developing business plans that’s part of a consulting project for social entrepreneurs. Pick up the baby late in the afternoon, and since it’s 74 degrees and sunny, we head to Golden Gate Park to run around and burn off energy. During this transition period, I’m taking him on little adventures late in the afternoons and savoring that time with him. The sunshine reminds me that we’re so lucky to live in a place where we can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of winter. We take a spin on the carousel - he’s a little hesitant since it’s his first time, but he soon warms up to it, and then we run around picking up every stick and leaf in sight, which is his current favorite game.
Night ➛
Head home to have a few good rounds of playing with blocks, banging on mixing bowls with a spatula, and tickle fights. Chop vegetables and roast them for dinner. Prep the baby’s dinner: sweet potatoes, green beans, and broccoli are the favorites this week. My husband and I take turns feeding him while we eat and catch up on each other’s days. Give him a bath and read a few bedtime stories all together in our bed. A few more snuggles, then lights out for the baby. Spend a couple of hours relaxing with my husband, listening to records and looking at some options for hikes this weekend. Wrap up in blankets and relax with a bit of bourbon, which is our ritual at least a few nights each week. We used to make more cocktails, but that’s become more simplified since having a baby and expending energy chasing him around. Sipping a bit on the rocks seems to be both easier and gets right to the point – and taste – of the bourbon. Why muddle it up at home? I’ll save that for a proper drink out… Which reminds me that we need to book the sitter for next weekend. Bedtime!


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with your time machine? Your photo looks like it was pulled straight from the ’70s! Is that your favorite era?
Ha! Well, it’s impossible to not live in the moment (literally!) with a toddler, but as far as style, music, and fashion goes, I’m definitely a bit steeped in that era. There’s always a bit of nostalgia for the music you heard at a young age, and I remember my parents putting a lot of CSNY and Fleetwood Mac on the turntable. The vibe in our house is, hopefully, a bit more relaxed-canyon than lava lamps or disco, though. It’s funny - a friend of mine visiting our house for the first time said, “So I get it - you tried to re-create the forest in your bedroom.” And I’d never actually thought about that before, but I suppose the plants and wood and fern-printed duvet do point to that. Until I live in my dream ’70s cabin in the redwoods, this’ll do!
2. When you wrote this post, you were looking for a job….and then you got one. And pretty much the exact job you wanted! Are you a believer in the idea of “putting it out in the universe” or can you share your secrets for landing a dream job?
I very much believe that the right things happen at the right time, whether they’re good, bad, or somewhere in between (and with time, those perceptions often change). It’s the whole Rilke notion of living the questions, because it’s not for you to know the all of the answers right away. But as far as looking for a job in a different sector, I’ve absolutely been trying to “put it out” in the universe, and after making the decision to leave my last job a few months ago and find a way to transfer my experience to something I was passionate about, I’ve been connecting in every way possible. Not so much in a traditional networking sense, but more to learn about the interesting work others are doing, hear about their ideas and experiences, and understand the different ways that I might be able to bring value and create impact. What’s worked well for me isn’t any secret, but just a blend of tons of hard work, openness to what might be ahead, and keeping positivity and gratitude at the forefront of the whole experience. I try to always remember the idea that Conan O’Brien simplified so well: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
3. So, how do you make Ghanaian black-eyed peas?
Oh wow, it’s sooo delicious! I’ve made this at home, too - the spices make it smell incredible, and it’s awesome to have a pot of it simmering on the stove. Plus coconut milk just makes any dish so wonderful. The Edible Schoolyard actually adapted the recipe from a Marcus Samuelsson cookbook and incorporated it into a lesson on the journey of the black-eyed pea during the Columbian Exchange. The recipe and lesson are all available via this link - I always add sweet potatoes and kale, too!


Kristen lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. She is a marketing consultant for the Social Good Guides. And since writing this post, she’s accepted a position as Director of Business Partnerships at the Sierra Club, working to further its mission of “exploring, enjoying, and protecting the planet” sierraclub.org edibleschoolyard.org socialgoodguides.com photo credit: Rachel Keenan 

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Eggs, black beans, and roasted tomatillo salsa on a corn tortilla. Chai tea with honey. Black-eyed peas.


Lunch:

Banana-chia-almond butter smoothie. Arugula with roasted beets and pumpkin seeds.


Dinner:

Roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with greens. Dark chocolate. Bourbon on the rocks.

Morning ➛

Wake up at 6:30am, shower, and read a few books to our 14-month-old son. Make breakfast, feed the baby, and watch as part of it ends up on the wall and floor (though he’s getting better at it all, as they do). Clean up the fray, get dressed, help get my husband and the baby ready for the day, water the ferns, and head over to Berkeley for my early-morning volunteering shift at the Edible Schoolyard. Being in the kitchen classroom with middle schoolers is one of the highlights of my week. During today’s lesson in the kitchen classroom at ESY Berkeley, my class of English-language-learning students is learning to make a recipe for Ghanaian black-eyed peas. My group has students from Spain, Norway, Mexico, and Brazil, and I spend a little extra time with the newest student in the class, who seems overwhelmed. He does a great job with measuring the spices, however, and bonds with two other students who are stirring the pot on the stove. After we set the table and enjoy the meal together, I help with cleanup and talk with one of the kitchen teachers about a few ideas. Since deciding to leave my full-time job a few months ago working with large companies and brands on the for-profit side of things, I have a bit more flexibility for volunteering and for starting to connect more, as I’m looking for a position that will merge my work experience with causes I’m passionate about. I’m connecting with people at nonprofits and not-just-for-profits to hear about their experiences and thoughts about the space. My goal is to help shift consciousness through strategic problem-solving and using technology for social good, all of which makes for some thought-provoking days right now.



Noon ➛

Meetings with a connection who’s working to bring healthy food to schools and with another contact who’s driving strategy at a nonprofit. Conference call with a contact in the environmental space. Respond to emails from more fantastic friends and contacts who are graciously offering to connect me with people they know doing this kind of work. Research a few organizations in food justice, environmental advocacy, and women’s rights. Make progress editing a guide for developing business plans that’s part of a consulting project for social entrepreneurs. Pick up the baby late in the afternoon, and since it’s 74 degrees and sunny, we head to Golden Gate Park to run around and burn off energy. During this transition period, I’m taking him on little adventures late in the afternoons and savoring that time with him. The sunshine reminds me that we’re so lucky to live in a place where we can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of winter. We take a spin on the carousel - he’s a little hesitant since it’s his first time, but he soon warms up to it, and then we run around picking up every stick and leaf in sight, which is his current favorite game.



Night ➛

Head home to have a few good rounds of playing with blocks, banging on mixing bowls with a spatula, and tickle fights. Chop vegetables and roast them for dinner. Prep the baby’s dinner: sweet potatoes, green beans, and broccoli are the favorites this week. My husband and I take turns feeding him while we eat and catch up on each other’s days. Give him a bath and read a few bedtime stories all together in our bed. A few more snuggles, then lights out for the baby. Spend a couple of hours relaxing with my husband, listening to records and looking at some options for hikes this weekend. Wrap up in blankets and relax with a bit of bourbon, which is our ritual at least a few nights each week. We used to make more cocktails, but that’s become more simplified since having a baby and expending energy chasing him around. Sipping a bit on the rocks seems to be both easier and gets right to the point – and taste – of the bourbon. Why muddle it up at home? I’ll save that for a proper drink out… Which reminds me that we need to book the sitter for next weekend. Bedtime!

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with your time machine? Your photo looks like it was pulled straight from the ’70s! Is that your favorite era?

Ha! Well, it’s impossible to not live in the moment (literally!) with a toddler, but as far as style, music, and fashion goes, I’m definitely a bit steeped in that era. There’s always a bit of nostalgia for the music you heard at a young age, and I remember my parents putting a lot of CSNY and Fleetwood Mac on the turntable. The vibe in our house is, hopefully, a bit more relaxed-canyon than lava lamps or disco, though. It’s funny - a friend of mine visiting our house for the first time said, “So I get it - you tried to re-create the forest in your bedroom.” And I’d never actually thought about that before, but I suppose the plants and wood and fern-printed duvet do point to that. Until I live in my dream ’70s cabin in the redwoods, this’ll do!

2. When you wrote this post, you were looking for a job….and then you got one. And pretty much the exact job you wanted! Are you a believer in the idea of “putting it out in the universe” or can you share your secrets for landing a dream job?

I very much believe that the right things happen at the right time, whether they’re good, bad, or somewhere in between (and with time, those perceptions often change). It’s the whole Rilke notion of living the questions, because it’s not for you to know the all of the answers right away. But as far as looking for a job in a different sector, I’ve absolutely been trying to “put it out” in the universe, and after making the decision to leave my last job a few months ago and find a way to transfer my experience to something I was passionate about, I’ve been connecting in every way possible. Not so much in a traditional networking sense, but more to learn about the interesting work others are doing, hear about their ideas and experiences, and understand the different ways that I might be able to bring value and create impact. What’s worked well for me isn’t any secret, but just a blend of tons of hard work, openness to what might be ahead, and keeping positivity and gratitude at the forefront of the whole experience. I try to always remember the idea that Conan O’Brien simplified so well: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

3. So, how do you make Ghanaian black-eyed peas?

Oh wow, it’s sooo delicious! I’ve made this at home, too - the spices make it smell incredible, and it’s awesome to have a pot of it simmering on the stove. Plus coconut milk just makes any dish so wonderful. The Edible Schoolyard actually adapted the recipe from a Marcus Samuelsson cookbook and incorporated it into a lesson on the journey of the black-eyed pea during the Columbian Exchange. The recipe and lesson are all available via this link - I always add sweet potatoes and kale, too!

Kristen lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. She is a marketing consultant for the Social Good Guides. And since writing this post, she’s accepted a position as Director of Business Partnerships at the Sierra Club, working to further its mission of “exploring, enjoying, and protecting the planet” sierraclub.org edibleschoolyard.org socialgoodguides.com photo credit: Rachel Keenan 

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Egg and chard scramble. Roasted potatoes. Wild sage tea with sage bitters. Glass of Vitamineral Green.
Lunch:
Chickpea and peanut Salad. Half an avocado. Glass of Vitamineral Green. Kava Kava Tea.
Dinner:
Pizza. Milk Stout. Whiskey. Fernet.


Morning ➛
I wake up at 7am to my dogs sitting at the side of the bed staring at me, as usual. Once they see my eyes are open Butler begins his usual slow, low barking that gets louder and louder until it’s a shrill demand to be walked. I didn’t sleep well, so I give them both a bone which buys me another hour or so of sleep. I’m up for real at 8:30am, slightly agitated at my boyfriend Brady because I just dreamt he decided our 1880’s bar should be “India” themed and replaced all the saloon tables with colorful pillows and ottomans. In my dream I rip them from the inside of the bar and throw them into mainstreet. I shake it off, make some tea and pretend it’s coffee (I gave it up this year because it was stressing me out beyond control) and I get to the computer. This morning we’re working on a newsletter announcing our 2 new products to our wholesale and retail customers-Black Bitters and Colorado Pine Syrup. I make breakfast for the two of us and we go over last minute edits to the newsletter and things we need to get done today. We clean up our living space a bit because my little brother is coming to stay the night, he’s baby and wifeless for the weekend and I can tell he’s really excited. Brady heads to the bar/workshop to get the wood fire started. It’s the only heat source in the ancient building so starting it first thing is a must.
Noon ➛
We take our daily hike and head up the highway to a pullout where we see cars parked in the trees all the time. We find a new series of trails which is really exciting because we feel like we’ve hiked the whole county already. Hiking is part of my work, and probably my favorite part. In the summer they are forage hikes. It’s important for me to get out there and search out new forage locations so we never over harvest a wild stand of plants. Winter has set in up here, so all I find on the trail are some very tasty juniper berries and shriveled rose hips. I make a note this area is plentiful in these two plants for next season. I’m currently working on a Juniper Rose Syrup so it feels like a good omen. Today is a busy day so we head back to Silver Plume to conquer other tasks. We have a light lunch and then I head over to our bar/workshop. I make 2 batches of Black Bitters, a batch of Honey Chamomile bitters and I strain and bottle some Wild Sage Bitters. The holidays are around the corner and our gift sets are extremely popular this year so I put together a bunch in anticipation of the weekend.
Night ➛
The bar opens at 5pm and we have a few locals drinking whiskey and beer while a new man in town named Jerry plays some tunes on his harmonica. This has become a regular Friday night event as we are the only business in our tiny “living ghost town.” My brother shows up around 6 and wants pizza for dinner since he’s a bachelor for the night. We order some and pick it up in the next town over while Brady mans the bar. We have a few drinks together, gossip about our family and then play 3 rounds of pick up sticks. My brother loves games because he always wins, always. He helps me bottle another batch of bitters before we close up shop for the night around 9. We take the dogs on a brisk walk around town and it’s beginning to snow. Silver Plume is unbelievably gorgeous and ghostly when it snows. We drop the dogs at home and then head downstairs where our landlord has a secret BYOB bar and a substantial collection of strange antiques. We play a few games of pinball and shuffleboard and chat a bit with the locals and then head upstairs to tuck in for the night. I crawl into bed, fall asleep and wake up at 3:30am to the sound of a single chord being struck on Brady’s mandolin….our building was once the headquarters for the Knights of Pythias Secret Society in the 1800’s and needless to say we have frequent visitors from a time now passed. The ghost music doesn’t wake Brady or Derek but the dogs hear it and jump up which makes it even worse. The rest of the night is a long one, spent with the covers pulled up over my head.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the Vitamineral Green stuff? What is it?
Vitamineral Green is basically whole greens, veggies, herbs and pro-biotics in loose powder form. It’s very hippy dippy stuff produced by folks who care intensely about what they put in their bodies. For me it’s great because with such a busy schedule, my diet is usually the first thing to suffer. This stuff keeps me going and feeling like I did at least one thing to care for myself during the day. I just mix a bit in with some grapefruit juice and gulp it down.
2. An herbal alchemist is such an old school yet new school career. What led you to it? And can you explain what bitters exactly are too.
I’m not sure exactly where my career began, that’s just how life works, I believe what you are meant to do will find you eventually. In college I studied Food Science and Ecological Agriculture and I would take crash courses in Herbalism over the summer. I was really interested in plant medicine and folklore but being a clinical herbalist just seemed awful, much like a therapist or nutritionist, I didn’t want to sit in a room all day listening to people’s problems. I was a bartender in the evening all through school, and after I’d made my millionth Manhattan for a customer I decided to read the ingredients on the bitters label. I was shocked to see the popular Angostura bitters were synthetically dyed and flavored and I guess in that moment a little light went on in my head. From there I fused my knowledge of bartending with herbalism and eventually DRAM was born. At DRAM we make bitters the old fashioned way- using wild and organic dried herbs steeped in pure alcohol. Bitters were historically a way to preserve the summer harvest of medicinal plants and worked their way into cocktails during the temperance movement and prohibition. Although the purchase of alcohol was illegal, you could still go to the local Doc or apothecary and procure a bottle of Bitters-pure alcohol with herbs. It’s believed people began mixing these aromatic bitters with the basement hooch folks were cooking up to take the edge off. And poof, the birth of cocktails.
3. Your night sounds terrifying! What if the Knights are just poking around because they’re looking for you to make them a drink? What do you think you’d serve them back in the 1800s?
At our bar we try to keep the focus as historical as possible-so being the 1800’s we have a large selection of whiskey. Right now our Rock and Rye Toddy is very popular. It’s a take on the “cough medicine” you could purchase from a local apothecary at the time which was a blend of rye whiskey with rock candy dissolved in it, with a touch of citrus. We serve it hot with Chai Tea.


Shae splits her time between Denver and Silver Plume, where she owns DRAM Apothecary. DRAM produces craft bitters, syrups, and tea using Colorado plants and opens as a bar/tasting room every weekend for a few hours. dramapothecary.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Egg and chard scramble. Roasted potatoes. Wild sage tea with sage bitters. Glass of Vitamineral Green.


Lunch:

Chickpea and peanut Salad. Half an avocado. Glass of Vitamineral Green. Kava Kava Tea.


Dinner:

Pizza. Milk Stout. Whiskey. Fernet.

Morning ➛

I wake up at 7am to my dogs sitting at the side of the bed staring at me, as usual. Once they see my eyes are open Butler begins his usual slow, low barking that gets louder and louder until it’s a shrill demand to be walked. I didn’t sleep well, so I give them both a bone which buys me another hour or so of sleep. I’m up for real at 8:30am, slightly agitated at my boyfriend Brady because I just dreamt he decided our 1880’s bar should be “India” themed and replaced all the saloon tables with colorful pillows and ottomans. In my dream I rip them from the inside of the bar and throw them into mainstreet. I shake it off, make some tea and pretend it’s coffee (I gave it up this year because it was stressing me out beyond control) and I get to the computer. This morning we’re working on a newsletter announcing our 2 new products to our wholesale and retail customers-Black Bitters and Colorado Pine Syrup. I make breakfast for the two of us and we go over last minute edits to the newsletter and things we need to get done today. We clean up our living space a bit because my little brother is coming to stay the night, he’s baby and wifeless for the weekend and I can tell he’s really excited. Brady heads to the bar/workshop to get the wood fire started. It’s the only heat source in the ancient building so starting it first thing is a must.



Noon ➛

We take our daily hike and head up the highway to a pullout where we see cars parked in the trees all the time. We find a new series of trails which is really exciting because we feel like we’ve hiked the whole county already. Hiking is part of my work, and probably my favorite part. In the summer they are forage hikes. It’s important for me to get out there and search out new forage locations so we never over harvest a wild stand of plants. Winter has set in up here, so all I find on the trail are some very tasty juniper berries and shriveled rose hips. I make a note this area is plentiful in these two plants for next season. I’m currently working on a Juniper Rose Syrup so it feels like a good omen. Today is a busy day so we head back to Silver Plume to conquer other tasks. We have a light lunch and then I head over to our bar/workshop. I make 2 batches of Black Bitters, a batch of Honey Chamomile bitters and I strain and bottle some Wild Sage Bitters. The holidays are around the corner and our gift sets are extremely popular this year so I put together a bunch in anticipation of the weekend.



Night ➛

The bar opens at 5pm and we have a few locals drinking whiskey and beer while a new man in town named Jerry plays some tunes on his harmonica. This has become a regular Friday night event as we are the only business in our tiny “living ghost town.” My brother shows up around 6 and wants pizza for dinner since he’s a bachelor for the night. We order some and pick it up in the next town over while Brady mans the bar. We have a few drinks together, gossip about our family and then play 3 rounds of pick up sticks. My brother loves games because he always wins, always. He helps me bottle another batch of bitters before we close up shop for the night around 9. We take the dogs on a brisk walk around town and it’s beginning to snow. Silver Plume is unbelievably gorgeous and ghostly when it snows. We drop the dogs at home and then head downstairs where our landlord has a secret BYOB bar and a substantial collection of strange antiques. We play a few games of pinball and shuffleboard and chat a bit with the locals and then head upstairs to tuck in for the night. I crawl into bed, fall asleep and wake up at 3:30am to the sound of a single chord being struck on Brady’s mandolin….our building was once the headquarters for the Knights of Pythias Secret Society in the 1800’s and needless to say we have frequent visitors from a time now passed. The ghost music doesn’t wake Brady or Derek but the dogs hear it and jump up which makes it even worse. The rest of the night is a long one, spent with the covers pulled up over my head.

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with the Vitamineral Green stuff? What is it?

Vitamineral Green is basically whole greens, veggies, herbs and pro-biotics in loose powder form. It’s very hippy dippy stuff produced by folks who care intensely about what they put in their bodies. For me it’s great because with such a busy schedule, my diet is usually the first thing to suffer. This stuff keeps me going and feeling like I did at least one thing to care for myself during the day. I just mix a bit in with some grapefruit juice and gulp it down.

2. An herbal alchemist is such an old school yet new school career. What led you to it? And can you explain what bitters exactly are too.

I’m not sure exactly where my career began, that’s just how life works, I believe what you are meant to do will find you eventually. In college I studied Food Science and Ecological Agriculture and I would take crash courses in Herbalism over the summer. I was really interested in plant medicine and folklore but being a clinical herbalist just seemed awful, much like a therapist or nutritionist, I didn’t want to sit in a room all day listening to people’s problems. I was a bartender in the evening all through school, and after I’d made my millionth Manhattan for a customer I decided to read the ingredients on the bitters label. I was shocked to see the popular Angostura bitters were synthetically dyed and flavored and I guess in that moment a little light went on in my head. From there I fused my knowledge of bartending with herbalism and eventually DRAM was born. At DRAM we make bitters the old fashioned way- using wild and organic dried herbs steeped in pure alcohol. Bitters were historically a way to preserve the summer harvest of medicinal plants and worked their way into cocktails during the temperance movement and prohibition. Although the purchase of alcohol was illegal, you could still go to the local Doc or apothecary and procure a bottle of Bitters-pure alcohol with herbs. It’s believed people began mixing these aromatic bitters with the basement hooch folks were cooking up to take the edge off. And poof, the birth of cocktails.

3. Your night sounds terrifying! What if the Knights are just poking around because they’re looking for you to make them a drink? What do you think you’d serve them back in the 1800s?

At our bar we try to keep the focus as historical as possible-so being the 1800’s we have a large selection of whiskey. Right now our Rock and Rye Toddy is very popular. It’s a take on the “cough medicine” you could purchase from a local apothecary at the time which was a blend of rye whiskey with rock candy dissolved in it, with a touch of citrus. We serve it hot with Chai Tea.

Shae splits her time between Denver and Silver Plume, where she owns DRAM Apothecary. DRAM produces craft bitters, syrups, and tea using Colorado plants and opens as a bar/tasting room every weekend for a few hours. dramapothecary.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:
Coffee. Plain yogurt. Figs. Flaxseed. Granola.
Lunch:
Quinoa salad with spinach leaves, almonds, and dried blueberries.
Dinner:
The chef’s choice at Kai Zan (sushi).


Morning ➛
My whole family knows that I’m a night owl, which means I am NOT a morning person. I wake up pretty groggy with my eyeballs still stuck to my eyelids, so my hubby brings me my coffee cause he knows that will lure me out of bed. He’s successful, and I have time to do a few minutes of yoga. I walk my son to school by 8:30am and then dash back home, eat breakfast, and jump on the computer. I work from home on the 4th floor in a sun-filled office with a view of my rooftop garden; it’s a great place to start the day. I’ve been really excited about my new project “Get Fueled”, so I usually get the latest feature up on the site in the morning. As Creative Director at Large for Vosges Haut-Chocolat, I meet with the creative team once a week to review all the current projects and provide mentoring to the Sr Designer, Wesley Webb. Today we are meeting to review the catalog campaign and imagery for a new line of super dark chocolate bars. My next meeting is a brainstorm with the owner, Katrina Markoff, about a new chocolate sensory experience that will be part of their new manufacturing facility.
Noon ➛
This week is Chicago Ideas Week so today I packed my lunch cause I’m spending my lunch hour at a lecture about food and how it brings people together and transforms experiences. It’s a little research for an upcoming project I’ve got brewing. Afternoon is my own design time. After a busy morning, I’m energized and excited to have some time to myself to be creative. I’m currently working on the branding of a new restaurant (A10) for chef Matthias Merges (yusho) and his wife, architect, Rachel Crowl (fcstudio). I’m also helping to produce a luxury line of candles for Linnea Lights, and a book about an outsider art/guitar maker. I have to work efficiently because my workday ends at 3:30 when I pick up my son from school.
Night ➛
On most evenings, I simultaneously answer email while I make dinner and he does homework or builds wondrous Lego structures. But this evening I have a date with my husband and some friends to go to our favorite sushi place, Kai Zan. Before we leave for dinner though, we have a little family time along with a cocktail. We love fancy cocktails but I don’t want to get all fussy tonight, so I’m making a quick and easy Gin & Tonic. I used to think G & T’s sucked, but then my husband made me one using Old Ransom Gin & Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, and now I love them. I have to admit, this whole trend has really turned me into a cocktail snob. I’m not a snob about anything else, so I guess it’s ok. The babysitter arrives, we hug goodnight, and off we go. My best brainstorming happens late at night, like I said; I’m a night owl. My husband and I are watching Boardwalk Empire; we fall into that category that watches an entire series all at once. I’d watch 3 or 4 episodes til 2 am but my hubby always turns the TV off after one. I usually whine a little bit and try to convince him to watch more, but he’s smarter than me in that way. One episode, lights out. I usually have the laptop on my lap in bed while we’re watching, but I’m trying to break that habit. I also keep a notebook by the side of the bed and it includes a ridiculous number of lists. I find that list making allows me to let the thoughts flow, and late night thinking is when I’m the least judgmental but the most analytical.


Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with that headboard? Where are you?
I’m in our bedroom and the back wall/headboard is my husband’s doing. He designed and built it. He covered the entire wall with wood a built a recessed shelf just above the bed. He also wired lights (on dimmers) directly into the shelf and into the wall so that everything is seamless. It adds a wonderful sense of warmth to our bedroom.
2. Creative directing at Vosges, working with Linnea Lights, AND branding projects for Matthias Merges…not everyone has this special gift to connect with such cool brands and people? What’s your secret?
I love hearing other people’s perspectives because I never thought of myself as having this gift. In fact, selling myself has always been the part I don’t think I’m good at. It’s the basis for my fears of owning my own business. I’m not a good salesperson because it’s hard for me to toot my own horn. It feels funny to say ‘hey, I’m a really good Creative Director, you should hire me’. I have to work hard to over-come that funny feeling. I think part of the trick though, to get clients I want, is to be specific when people ask what I do. I don’t just say that I’m a designer, I tell people that I love to create for music, fashion, food, etc. Maybe I’ll even tell them that I dream of designing for Henry Beguilin or the Joffrey Ballet or being part of the Kinfolk Team, cause you never know who someone’s best friend or aunt might happen to be.
3. The guy behind Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic (Brooks Reitz) was actually a guest on SHWYD. Crazy, you mentioned his line! Seeing that you’re a “cocktail snob”…if you and Brooks were to battle head to head in a cocktail competition…what would be your winning cocktail and how would you serve it?
Oh my, really? This is intimidating. I’m not really a mixologist, I just play one on TV. Ok, here goes. I’m thinking that Brooks probably believes in simple ingredients that are high quality. So, I could do a thing with egg whites, chartreuse, and light it on fire. But if I’m going head to head with Brooks (what? Seriously?!!!), then I’m gonna go the simple route here, which might be a bigger challenge cause there’s no ‘wow’ factor. I’d make a Mezcal Mule, using a small batch Mezcal like Del Maguey, Q ginger beer, fresh squeezed lime juice and maybe a dash of grapefruit bitters. I’d serve it with a big hug, and maybe with my favorite ­goat cheese fundido recipe from Elote Café.


Brenda Bergen lives in Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and son. She’s a creative director, brand strategist, and passionate about creating sensory experiences. Her latest project, Get Fueled, explores the creative process. get fueled.com  winkdesign.com

So, How Was Your Day?

Breakfast:

Coffee. Plain yogurt. Figs. Flaxseed. Granola.


Lunch:

Quinoa salad with spinach leaves, almonds, and dried blueberries.


Dinner:

The chef’s choice at Kai Zan (sushi).

Morning ➛

My whole family knows that I’m a night owl, which means I am NOT a morning person. I wake up pretty groggy with my eyeballs still stuck to my eyelids, so my hubby brings me my coffee cause he knows that will lure me out of bed. He’s successful, and I have time to do a few minutes of yoga. I walk my son to school by 8:30am and then dash back home, eat breakfast, and jump on the computer. I work from home on the 4th floor in a sun-filled office with a view of my rooftop garden; it’s a great place to start the day. I’ve been really excited about my new project “Get Fueled”, so I usually get the latest feature up on the site in the morning. As Creative Director at Large for Vosges Haut-Chocolat, I meet with the creative team once a week to review all the current projects and provide mentoring to the Sr Designer, Wesley Webb. Today we are meeting to review the catalog campaign and imagery for a new line of super dark chocolate bars. My next meeting is a brainstorm with the owner, Katrina Markoff, about a new chocolate sensory experience that will be part of their new manufacturing facility.



Noon ➛

This week is Chicago Ideas Week so today I packed my lunch cause I’m spending my lunch hour at a lecture about food and how it brings people together and transforms experiences. It’s a little research for an upcoming project I’ve got brewing. Afternoon is my own design time. After a busy morning, I’m energized and excited to have some time to myself to be creative. I’m currently working on the branding of a new restaurant (A10) for chef Matthias Merges (yusho) and his wife, architect, Rachel Crowl (fcstudio). I’m also helping to produce a luxury line of candles for Linnea Lights, and a book about an outsider art/guitar maker. I have to work efficiently because my workday ends at 3:30 when I pick up my son from school.



Night ➛

On most evenings, I simultaneously answer email while I make dinner and he does homework or builds wondrous Lego structures. But this evening I have a date with my husband and some friends to go to our favorite sushi place, Kai Zan. Before we leave for dinner though, we have a little family time along with a cocktail. We love fancy cocktails but I don’t want to get all fussy tonight, so I’m making a quick and easy Gin & Tonic. I used to think G & T’s sucked, but then my husband made me one using Old Ransom Gin & Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, and now I love them. I have to admit, this whole trend has really turned me into a cocktail snob. I’m not a snob about anything else, so I guess it’s ok. The babysitter arrives, we hug goodnight, and off we go. My best brainstorming happens late at night, like I said; I’m a night owl. My husband and I are watching Boardwalk Empire; we fall into that category that watches an entire series all at once. I’d watch 3 or 4 episodes til 2 am but my hubby always turns the TV off after one. I usually whine a little bit and try to convince him to watch more, but he’s smarter than me in that way. One episode, lights out. I usually have the laptop on my lap in bed while we’re watching, but I’m trying to break that habit. I also keep a notebook by the side of the bed and it includes a ridiculous number of lists. I find that list making allows me to let the thoughts flow, and late night thinking is when I’m the least judgmental but the most analytical.

Three Last Things…

1. What’s up with that headboard? Where are you?

I’m in our bedroom and the back wall/headboard is my husband’s doing. He designed and built it. He covered the entire wall with wood a built a recessed shelf just above the bed. He also wired lights (on dimmers) directly into the shelf and into the wall so that everything is seamless. It adds a wonderful sense of warmth to our bedroom.

2. Creative directing at Vosges, working with Linnea Lights, AND branding projects for Matthias Merges…not everyone has this special gift to connect with such cool brands and people? What’s your secret?

I love hearing other people’s perspectives because I never thought of myself as having this gift. In fact, selling myself has always been the part I don’t think I’m good at. It’s the basis for my fears of owning my own business. I’m not a good salesperson because it’s hard for me to toot my own horn. It feels funny to say ‘hey, I’m a really good Creative Director, you should hire me’. I have to work hard to over-come that funny feeling. I think part of the trick though, to get clients I want, is to be specific when people ask what I do. I don’t just say that I’m a designer, I tell people that I love to create for music, fashion, food, etc. Maybe I’ll even tell them that I dream of designing for Henry Beguilin or the Joffrey Ballet or being part of the Kinfolk Team, cause you never know who someone’s best friend or aunt might happen to be.

3. The guy behind Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic (Brooks Reitz) was actually a guest on SHWYD. Crazy, you mentioned his line! Seeing that you’re a “cocktail snob”…if you and Brooks were to battle head to head in a cocktail competition…what would be your winning cocktail and how would you serve it?

Oh my, really? This is intimidating. I’m not really a mixologist, I just play one on TV. Ok, here goes. I’m thinking that Brooks probably believes in simple ingredients that are high quality. So, I could do a thing with egg whites, chartreuse, and light it on fire. But if I’m going head to head with Brooks (what? Seriously?!!!), then I’m gonna go the simple route here, which might be a bigger challenge cause there’s no ‘wow’ factor. I’d make a Mezcal Mule, using a small batch Mezcal like Del Maguey, Q ginger beer, fresh squeezed lime juice and maybe a dash of grapefruit bitters. I’d serve it with a big hug, and maybe with my favorite ­goat cheese fundido recipe from Elote Café.

Brenda Bergen lives in Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and son. She’s a creative director, brand strategist, and passionate about creating sensory experiences. Her latest project, Get Fueled, explores the creative process. get fueled.com  winkdesign.com