REAL TALK: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
i was listening to a cool podcast called design matters and they were interviewing simon sinek on good leadership. in the conversation he brought up his “start with why” theory a lot. it basically focuses on WHY we do what we do. which got me thinking about my own career, how i got to where i am, what lead me here, what were the early signs of it. so today, we are going to look into all of our way back pasts and encourage you to look into yours too. it’s a fun topic to discuss and think about.
Q: looking back, what is a memory from your childhood that is an early indication that you would be well suited for your occupation?
bri: (title: CEO/creative director of designlovefest): definitely a huge indicator was that huge journal i lugged around with me everywhere, documenting and writing all my feelings and inspirations. that was my teenage blog at the time. but i remember even further back than that, i was obsessed with the visual aspects to a school project. i remember we had to write a bunch of poems in english class and put them in a binder. i made sure i designed the cover of the binder perfectly and each poem had it’s own graphic theme. i probably would be annoyed at myself if i was another student haha. i just really enjoyed making my projects tell a story visually. i was also obsessed with my xanga journal, cutting out pages in magazines, collaging my closet doors with teen bop magazine photos, kid pix. i liked imagery, that’s for sure! ha, tell me this doesn’t take YOU right back…
and look at me teaching my little sister about computer programs (ahem, blogshop teacher in the making?? ha)
and then my giant high school journal…
natalie (title: art director at designlovefest): if i look back at some of the earliest indications that all of my actions would lead me to this job there are definitely a few that stick out. when every kid in middle school was reading tiger beat and seventeen magazine i had subscriptions to vogue and bazaar, which i shelved and cataloged with so much seriousness. neither my parents nor my peers had much interest in fashion so for me it was something that i could really make my own. i also kept a journal where i would just make lists of different shades of colors, i think this started when i saw my first j.crew catalog in the late 90’s. green was always the longest list, leaf, mint, kelly, i remember thinking grape green was so clever. lastly, i got involved in photography very young, both taking pictures and studying photo history. i had an amazing high school teacher that taught us both technical aspects and also about how photography was invented. it’s still the primary source of my visual inspiration. I love looking at photographic images and reading about the context in which they were made.
erika (title: a managing editor at designlovefest): i was obsessed with design since i was super young. when i was 12 i taught myself photoshop and made a bunch of websites about all of my favorite bands (if only i could see them now!). i would design graphics, make desktop wallpapers, and write updates about everything going on, ha! fast forward 10 years and i was doing graphic design full-time, and now i’m doing practically the same thing i did as a kid. pretty much all signs from childhood pointed to my future.
joanie (title: business manager at designlovefest): i don’t know if there was a time when i thought all signs pointed to getting a business degree. to be totally honest, it just sort of happened, people told me that it was versatile and to study something that i could actually get a job in after i graduated. i had a lot of different interests and i thought if i got a business degree i could blend everything into one, and that is true on a lot of levels but i also think there should more thought put into what you study. deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life when you go to college at age 18 seems a little silly. it’s too young, i didn’t know enough about the world yet. i do remember thinking that if i studied “international business” maybe that meant i would get to travel all the time, haha. but i don’t regret getting a business degree, it has opened up a lot of doors for me and i’ve been able to have some really cool jobs because of it.
Q: what’s the most exciting part about your job?
bri: i think the most exciting part of my job is the diversity. i’m not quite diagnosed with ADD, but i definitely have some of those restless tendencies. i like that i can get my ideas out quickly and then move on. i like that i can share what inspires me and connect to people. every project feels different around here and i love that!
natalie: getting to be creative with all kinds of people. no project is ever the same thing twice and i love getting to go from one project to the next and the challenge of approaching each one as it’s own thing. I like the challenge of trying to reinvent the wheel. i also really, really like meeting new people and seeing what kind of expertise they bring to a job.
erika: i basically live on pinterest. for someone who had thousands of inspiration folders packed with fashion, interior and design photos on their desktop pre-pinterest, it’s pretty exciting.
joanie: that it’s always changing and evolving. no day is the same and that is really important to me, i like variety. and that the possibilities are endless. when i first met with bri about working at designlovefest she told me to make a job for myself and i could have it and that’s what i did. having that freedom to grow and expand feels exciting.
Q: what is a surprising task at your job that people wouldn’t expect?
bri: hmmm… sometimes people are surprised to hear that i still do all of the social media for designlovefest, with the exception of a few scheduled facebook posts.
natalie: i’ve spent days on set sweeping sand on the beach with a broom, also sweeping wall to wall carpet with a broom. brooms are underrated.
erika: that i’m the resident green thumb and keep all the plants at the studio (aka jungle!) alive.
joanie: gosh, a lot of things, maybe that i’m involved in almost every cooking/baking/recipe post that we do? and, i never work past 6pm.
Q: what did you think you were going to be when you grew up, and what is your title now in your career?
bri: i wrote in my journal at 16 that i wanted to be a graphic designer for Nylon magazine. i tried my hand in graphic design for a few years until i realized i actually enjoyed the more conceptual part. i am now a creative director.
natalie: i was obviously going to be a photo editor for a major fashion magazine in new york city. i was definitely wearing high heels everyday and very chic business fashions, but i was also somehow extremely arty and living in 1970’s, andy warhol/ velvet underground era soho in a loft. i now do art direction and set design, which in someways combines all of those things in a practical way.
erika: as a kid i made lists of my dream jobs obsessively. to combine my huge list into one it was basically a graphic designer/magazine editor/shopkeeper. and in this digital age i’m doing all of those things as an editor, graphic designer and online store owner. pretty amazing! i love the time we live in!
joanie: i think i always thought i’d work in fashion, and i did for awhile but i needed to find a balance with my business degree and my love for style and that’s why i started pursuing careers that were business focused in a creative environment. i’d last about two weeks in a traditional business role due to sheer boredom, but somehow being able to work in a creative environment and manage the business aspects works for me. it’s the right amount of right brain/left brain transitions throughout my day. my current job title is business manager at designlovefest.
Q: what’s the most rewarding part of your career?
bri: i think my answer here is pretty simple. i love my job. i wake up most days very excited to start working. i feel very grateful for that.
natalie: getting to manifest ideas into reality. taking a concept and being the person that actually brings it to life. and working with other creative people. i get to spend a lot of time brainstorming with others and that always leads to more ideas. knowing that creativity is endless rather than finite is probably the biggest reward of them all.
erika: working with artists i believe in and helping them get the exposure they deserve. it’s so rewarding to source all the awesome work talented people make and share it with the readers at designlovefest. there’s a whole lotta love involved!
joanie: seeing and experiencing growth. it’s really rewarding to work hard, have a vision for something and see it actual come to life. the social media/blog world moves quickly so it will be an idea one day and then two weeks later it has already been executed. that’s exciting. i also think creating a relationship between the brand and the blogger is pretty cool. two different sides of the coin, with two different sets of expectations and for both parties to be happy in the end, that feels rewarding.
now we gotta ask you, why do YOU do what YOU DO? we wanna hear about it!
(photo: Guy Bourdin Vogue May 1969)