Easy and Breezy: Fashion, Production, and Creative Serendipity

Last night DSM Magazine unveiled the May/June issue to a full house at the Kirkwood Hotel. The chardonnay was flowing, the buffet from Vivan’s was divine, and the weather was balmy perfection. While I always enjoy a good DSM Magazine event and catching up with arts and culture appreciators from around town, this one was really special because it had my production on the front cover!

This was such a feel-good effort all around — one of those blissful projects where there are absolutely no hiccups and everything clicks from planning to on-set dynamics.

Here are some love notes and special mentions for the people that helped bring it all together:

  • Annabel Wimer and Christine Ricelli for being an outstanding design and editorial duo at DSM Magazine. I always learn so much working with Annabel and Christine – they are tough, smart, and nurturing professionals that inspire me to always submit my best versions.
  • Austin Hyler and Andy Sommer for outstanding photography. I cannot recommend Austin enough for his thoughtful, collaborative process and meticulous attention to details. From planning to photoshoot to editing, his eye for beauty and composition is perfection.
  • Kelsey Bulat for being an ethereal model for this concept. We completely skipped hair and make-up styling for this production, because Kelsey embodies a look and vibe that is fresh, natural, and beautiful. Kelsey is also an amazing, accomplished food stylist in her career and a mama to many plants at home (#jungalowstyle :)), so she brought a spectacular attention to the little (but very important!) details.
  • Jeff Naples for being everything and my favorite production partner. I could write pages and pages about being married to another creative, and working with Jeff on-set is one of my favorite things we do together. He has countless ideas for bringing things to life, and when I’m thinking about all the production details, it’s nice to have his balance of vision.
  • Lindsay Berger for being a dear friend and stylist mentor. I am so glad Lindsay came to help on-set — having her confidence, experience, and supportive and happy personality is invaluable always.
  • April Goode and the team at Goode Greenhouses for being so accommodating and letting us take over their greenhouses on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. As a plant lady too, I really appreciate the extensive collection of heirloom blooms that the greenhouse offers.
  • Mary and Gabrielle at Silver Fox — these ladies thought of everything! I so enjoyed visiting Silver Fox on Ingersoll and talking fashion and styling with these two. There is a thoughtfulness and care in what they do, and you can tell by all of the neighborhood women and their repeat clients that keep coming back to them year-after-year (for decades!) for all of their wardrobe needs.
  • And the stellar boutiques that generously allowed us to borrow gorgeous garments and accessories for the production, including Preservation, Domestica, Sahar’s, and Velvet Coat.
  • Last but not least, Henna by Maggie! Maggie’s henna magic showed up in the photos and lent a bohemian detail that accentuated the organic beauty of the shoot.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read the latest issue of DSM!

The Women’s March and Activism in 2017

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain.

– Susan B. Anthony

In the early days since the inauguration, the world has overwhelmingly responded. I woke up on Saturday morning to pictures and headlines of Women’s Marches happening from every corner of the globe — hours before our Des Moines, Iowa rally was to kick off. It was so heartening to see demonstrations of solidarity from other nations.

The Women’s March drew impressive numbers: 2.9 million participants in the United States alone — the largest in U.S. history! I was struck by the 26,000+ participants at the Iowa State Capitol and how kind, accommodating and positive the crowd was. Chants of “Women’s rights are human rights!” and  “Every nasty woman here: Roar!” filled the balmy-for-January air.

Since the election, it has been hard not to feel alone, frustrated and helpless. Yesterday was an antidote to all of those negative emotions.

It’s More Than Just Feel Good, It’s Democracy in Action

Our founding forefathers knew that the road to democratic progress is filled with many types of people from different backgrounds with different belief systems. That’s why they began the Constitution with the First Amendment – freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

Yesterday was an impactful day that sent an overwhelming message to Donald Trump and his administration that he would be held accountable for his words, his actions and his policies. Messages from the Women’s Marches were wide-arcing as they called for human dignity and decency, respect for women’s voices and bodies, access to healthcare and reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, Black Lives Matter, and more. All messages shared the central theme of respect and inclusion — two things that Trump has struggled to reassure all Americans that he cares about based on his past behavior and the ongoing thin-skin defensiveness and attacks that permeate his communications/Twitter feed.

There is room for everybody’s opinions at the table. Just because we don’t agree, doesn’t mean that we can’t be civil. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from friends and from strangers that say that it was “women bashing men” and a lot of copy-paste generalizations that allude to extremism and that “liberals should go get a job.” Bottom line: That’s ignorant and it’s divisive. It was not just women at the rally, it was not just liberals. It was a wide and varied group of people – women and men – standing up to a bully that has made no secret of his disdain for others not like himself or that question his motives.

Caring about our leadership is not extremism, it’s about accountability and exercising American freedoms. When my daughter reads about the 2016 election in her history classes, I want her to know that her parents did not stay home and complain.

It Doesn’t End On January 21st

“Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as President. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever and I hope the same is true for you. We will not forget, we don’t want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure we fight harder, we fight tougher and we fight more passionately than ever.”

– Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

By showing up to marches, rallies and school board meetings, calling our legislators, signing petitions and helping fundraise for causes — it keeps democratic principles in action and doesn’t allow fear to dictate progress and action.

Now, more than ever before, there are organizations that need your support, advocacy and attention. Whether its attending the Planned Parenthood fundraiser or door knocking for a city council candidate or gearing up your own campaign or mentoring at an after-school program or donating art supplies to a local elementary school — there are many ways to get involved and positively impact our communities. And yes, by showing up yesterday, and adding my presence to the 26,000+ gathered at the Iowa State Capitol, I was part of the message and the progress.

The Importance of an Authentic Brand Voice

In brand writing, it is often tempting for companies to fall into a trap of industry jargon and to attempt to use the most savvy, “SEO-driven,” “social media-friendly” language as possible. And while there is an undeniable strategy for crafting copy that checks each marketing item on a list, there is also an undeniable need for authenticity in a brand’s presentation.

Every couple of years, as technology changes and consumerism evolves, there is a shift in marketing expectations. What companies need from their marketing staff or consultants changes. The job description pivots. Activities like cold-calling are archaic; blanketed mass emails also seem impersonal and ineffective. According to Simply Measured, “Engagement” (e.g., likes, shares, etc.) is considered the most important metric for evaluating social media marketing success, with 80% of marketers identifying it as one of the top three metrics (the other two include, udience size (61%) and website traffic (56%)).

Part of the participative engagement process is customers’ need to hear a good story. They don’t want the same generic, feature-driven language. They want to hear about the impetus behind the brand, to hear the vulnerability and the passion in the founders’ voices, to read all of the vibrant and real human interest nuggets that go with the story. It is not something that can be faked, it has to be legitimate and experienced.

“Be yourself. The world worships the original.” – Ingrid Bergman

People are really good at sniffing out copy that lacks true enthusiasm and consistency. Just like we are hard wired to screen calls from unknown numbers, we are also getting better and better at denying companies that don’t speak from the soul.

One of my favorite writing projects this week has been developing brand copy and messaging points for Natalie Fox – NYC – a collection of luxury, knitted bags for ambitious, on-trend city women. The founders have worked tirelessly to bring this collection to market, but they do not want to hurry or scramble the copy development so close to the finish line. The founders know exactly the type of woman they have designed the bag for, and have done hundreds of hours of research, development and strategy over the past year. This intrinsic understanding takes time, patience and reflection. You would not rush the development of your product or service, so don’t rush the foundational messaging.

The next time you sit down at your computer: visualize the people you wish to speak to, take time to craft the language to truly resonate, and communicate without pretense.