Branding: Field Notes

When I first met Joan and Kyle of Field Notes, we were still in a February deep freeze. I shuffled over a very solid layer of Hudson Valley ice to the Lansing Farm greenhouse, where it was nice and warm and smelled like dirt. Joan and Kyle pointed out all their varieties of newly started plants, which naturally flowed into their many plans for Field Notes’ second season of farm dinners: the seedlings were destined to feed many mouths this summer, after all.

Field Notes was established when the two chefs came to Colonie, New York from Vermont, looking to gain a better appreciation of where the food they were cooking came from. They did this by teaming up with the Lansing Farm family to establish a farm-to-table restaurant, using crops grown right on the farm to serve weekly meals on the same land. The first year was a success, with many delicious meals and memorable evenings against the backdrop of wildflowers and farm sunsets, and they were looking forward to expanding in their second year. They knew it was the right time to refresh their brand, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

We wanted the new logo and branding to not only reflect the beautiful experience of a rustic dinner on the farm, but also the hard work that goes into harvesting and preparing a meal. Joan and Kyle are big believers in understanding what goes into growing and raising the food we eat, and aim to tell that story with every meal. Their branding should of course do the same.

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In developing the logo, I wanted to give significance to the elements of those meals, as the ingredients journey from soil to plate. This approach really gives the details of that process an elegance, and makes it clear that there is a whole lot that goes into a well-prepared feast.

In the branding process, we expanded that concept even further, making the illustrations of the farm, kitchen and table elements front and center, translating them well into secondary logos and pattern, all in deep eggplant and leafy green colors that evoke the pallet of a late summer harvest.

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This really came together in the menu design, which showcases Field Notes’ ever-changing and artful preparations of the freshest ingredients available.

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And, because we didn’t want the warm, intimate aura of a summer farm dinner to be lost, this additional illustration is going to work in concert with the rest of the branding to call to mind those late moonlit evenings filled with laughter, good food, and great company.

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I am so pleased with the way this project came out, and am grateful to Joan and Kyle for inspiring me with their vision and then turning me loose with it. It was a fun one to work on and I can’t wait to see it come to life as they kick off their 2019 season!

Branding: The Belmont Inn

Maine is the New England state I’ve unfortunately spent the least amount of my time in. Who knows why; everyone is always raving about the beaches and the forests and the quaint towns with their lobster rolls. This is probably a side-effect of being a child of Cape Cod; summer vacations rarely strayed far off Route 6 growing up. We did go to Kennebunkport once! If I were to spend some time in Maine though, the town of Camden would be first on my list to visit; and I’m pleased to say I will be doing so in July!

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This came about by way of The Belmont Inn, a historic bed and breakfast which is under new ownership this year - a perfect time for a brand refresh! I was so excited when the proud new innkeeper, Kim, reached out wanting to give the Inn’s look a facelift. The elaborate Victorian script and lilac illustrations she had inherited were feeling a little dusty.

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The Belmont Inn is a big, gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian home tucked away among bursting gardens on a quiet street just a stroll away from the ocean, and I wanted to make the logo all about that iconic structure. Kim agreed. Making the Inn the face of the brand seemed obvious; it was the image that welcomes vacationers first to their home-away-from-home, and what they anticipate returning to summer after summer. So, I made a little drawing of the Inn and it quickly became the logo.

Kim didn’t want to lose the nautical culture and tradition of the location as well, so we complemented the logo with seaworthy blues, whites, and greys, as well as a fun sailboat pattern that really brought the branding together.

This is best seen in the Inn’s print suite, where the logo, pattern, and pallet come together and really shine on business cards, letterhead, a postcard, and note cards. The envelope is actually my favorite part, with sailboats peeking through in the lining.

I can’t wait to see The Belmont Inn’s new branding be put to work this season, welcoming new travelers from around the world. Including Jake and I, when we venture out to coastal Maine at the end of July!

Some logo outtakes for your consideration: still love that fly fishing gal!

Branding: Keeler Concepts by Design

Branding for an interior design firm was a first for me, so I was thrilled when Brittany and Robyn of Keeler Concepts by Design in Chatham, New York got in touch. I genuinely loved the style and designs of their spaces, as well as the process behind each project: every room begins with hand drawn plans that reveal thoughtful, informed design and an artistic eye. The branding process is always easiest when I am excited about the client, and I was immediately tempted to ask the mother-daughter team to have a go at my outdated kitchen. I just loved their work.

Photo courtesy of Keeler Concepts by Design

Photo courtesy of Keeler Concepts by Design

Robyn Keeler’s kitchen and bathroom designs have been featured in Better Homes, Women’s Day, and more, and she is well sought after in the Berkshires, Hudson Valley, and beyond. We wanted to create a logo and brand that spoke to that high quality, but also conveyed the warm, intimate feeling characteristic of her spaces, totally refreshing their look. I noticed that it was keen attention to details that really made these spaces deeply personal, and wanted to bring that into the branding.

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The logo was built from pattern details I pulled from a piece of antique wallpaper, cleaning them up and arranging them around a wordmark. I love the elegance of the arrangement balanced with a boldness - the brand has a definite presence while remaining very stylish.

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Bringing in secondary marks, pallet, pattern, and texture, I wanted to keep things very bright and clean; I love the contrast of nude pink with a deep, rich turquoise for this. Complemented by an earthy green and white marble details, this branding speaks to many of the elements of interior design while remaining very versatile.

I love the way the business cards came out in particular: clean, stylish, and professional!

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This brand was a pleasure to work on, and I am so excited to see Robyn and Brittany put it into action. I’m thrilled we could collaborate towards branding that well represents such beautiful and intelligent interior design work.

A few logo design outtakes too, always like to show a little of my own process behind the final results:

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Branding: The Gilded Oyster

When Quinn’s Fine Jewelry closed its doors in my hometown of Wilbraham, everyone was sad. No more little green boxes under the Christmas tree! My father was perhaps the saddest, as Denise Quinn, the owner, had made anniversaries and birthdays very simple for him for years - he knew to always check my mom’s wish list for the perfect sparkly gift.

So Dad was awfully pleased when I told him Denise had gotten in touch with me about some branding - for her new shop on Cape Cod! After relocating to Falmouth, she and her husband Brian had the itch to have a storefront once again, this time embracing the heritage, culture, and aesthetic of the Cape that they love so much. They settled on the name The Gilded Oyster, in reference to an all-time favorite golden oyster piece her son had created. I rejoiced: gold foil EVERYTHING, please.

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Denise wanted the logo focused on the oyster for which the shop was named. I played with that symbol in a few different ways, including adorning a little mermaid illustration with an oyster necklace (I had to try it), but the design Denise chose combined one of my all-time favorite script fonts with a simple line drawing. It reflects the elegant, natural designs characteristic of the shop’s jewelry collections, and nods to that timeless Cape Cod nautical aesthetic.

Developing the branding and website was just as fun, and allowed me to gild to my heart’s content. Denise was after a calm, beachy look and feel and loved the combination of sea glass aqua with gold, so we brought that in to most all elements of her shop.

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My favorite piece was the business card - gold foil oyster! The sign for the front of the shop is going to look just like these; it’s in production now and I cannot wait to see how it comes out.

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I love the way all these pieces came together to bring a fresh, classy brand to Main Street in Falmouth. Now I just need to get over the bridge to check out the shop - Denise opened the doors just before Christmas! This was so much fun to work on, and I’m excited to see the Gilded Oyster flourish when visitors make their way to the shore this summer - my dad included.

Oh, and a couple logo outtakes!

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Anyone want a mermaid logo???

Interview with T.E.L.L. New England

Just before the craziness of the holidays, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jenn Bakos of the wonderful T.E.L.L. New England and talk a little bit about my business. Jenn and T.E.L.L. do such a great job of celebrating the local businesses and people that give New England its heart and soul, and I was so honored to be included in their mission.

T.E.L.L. put together a blog post on The Homegrown Studio, interviewing me about what I do, how I do it, and why the New England community has been so essential to the growth and success of my business. Click here to read the whole post.

More than anything, it was such a pleasure to chat with Jenn, and learn more about the important work that T.E.L.L. is doing to grow community. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2019, and am hoping to contribute to their efforts in whatever way I can!

Thank you Jenn and T.E.L.L. New England for this fantastic opportunity!

Special Offer for CISA Local Heroes!

CISA has been doing some incredible work in the Western Massachusetts community for 25 years, providing resources and support for the local farmers that feed us all. Most notably, they’ve established the Local Heroes campaign, which is the country’s longest running and most comprehensive “buy local” program for farm products. Farms, restaurants, retailers, and more join together to raise awareness and sales of locally grown products.

Good news if you’re part of that awesome movement - The Homegrown Studio has partnered with CISA to offer Local Hero members 15% off any graphic design or branding project! Let’s work together to tell your story, and tell the larger story of what it means to farm, buy, and eat locally.

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Send me a note if you’re a Local Hero and want to take advantage of this offer, I’m booking projects for January. Winter is the best time to develop your branding and marketing, and prepare for a bountiful 2019 season!

AND, I’ll be teaching a branding workshop through CISA this February! Stay tuned for details.

 

One Month Into Full-Time Freelance, Here's What I've Learned

As of today, I’ve officially been calling The Homegrown Studio my full-time job for one whole month. Making the leap to freelancing full-time has been exciting and sometimes uncomfortable, but ultimately I can say I am feeling a whole lot better, happier, and more fulfilled than I was a month ago. Heck, I’m even making money. I’m surprising myself in new ways every day, and thought I’d share some of the things I pushed myself to do as I set out on this new chapter.

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1. I asked people to tea. (I don’t drink coffee!) The first thing I decided to do when jumping fully into freelance work was to turn the networking way up. I did this for two reasons: 1.) I felt in need of advice and work and ideas, and 2.) I was terrified of being lonely - about two days into freelancing I realized that this could easily get very lonely. So, I reached out to mentors and smart ladies I’d met along my career path and asked if they would meet up with me. They had nothing but great ideas and sound advice, and it was great to catch up. I threw invitations out to local people I admired and was curious about, but had previously only made contact through mere Instagram likes. Why stay behind the screen? I gained new perspectives and new friends in this case, which was so exciting. Here’s the awesome thing: no one turned down my invitation. Everyone I had tea with seemed genuinely happy to sit down and chat in person, and real, engaging, pleasant conversation always resulted.

2. I started something new. Out of this urge to connect with others originated the idea to bring a Ladies Drawing Night to Western Mass. I put the idea out there, set a date, found an awesome host, started an Instagram account, and put up posters. I was thrilled to see tons of women I barely knew were excited about this, and said “see you there!” it’s been fun learning how to make a community event happen and create all the branding around it as a neat personal project. I can’t wait for November 8 when we can all just meet up and draw!

3. I set measurable goals. At my corporate job, the practice of setting clear and measurable goals was hammered into me. It could get annoying, but there’s no denying it consistently worked.  Freelancing, I found myself going back to that ritual and making lists to prioritize tasks for the day, week, and month. Every Monday, I identify one thing I nailed last week, and three things I absolutely need to nail this week. Long term, I’ve started thinking about where I want to be in a year – three years – and I’m setting a timeline as to when I need to achieve smaller goals to make it all happen. I’ve been trying to stay disciplined about this, even as I’ve thrown a lot of my corporate structure out the window.

4. I reached out to dream clients. I’ve realized quickly how important it is to be cultivating new opportunities even as I’m working on the here and now. When I was freelancing by moonlight, I could kind of get away with being passive about this and rely on clients coming to me, no big deal if they didn’t. Full time, I really want to make sure work that I’m excited about is coming in consistently. I took some new tactics such as sending out postcards to people and businesses I would love to work with. I’m finding myself busier than ever, and with more of a plan to make sure it continues.

5. I set a schedule for myself. Well, still working on this one. The line between work and life has become blurry, although I’m loving the flexibility of working from home on my own terms. Knowing when to sit down and do nothing but work, when to run errands, when to go to the barn, when to visit my grandmother, when to schedule meetings with clients, and when to watch American Horror Story with my boyfriend has been challenging. I wonder at the end of each day did I do enough? I’m finding it difficult to shut off my brain and relax, something I had no problem doing with the corporate job. Setting those measurable goals has helped with this, and as I get a feel for this new lifestyle I’m getting a better picture of what ‘normal’ looks like, and when enough is enough. It’s an adjustment, and something I suspect I’ll always grapple with as so many other freelancers have advised me.

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There are still plenty of things I am wrapping my head around and learning (Quickbooks anyone???) but I’m feeling pretty darn good one month into the game. I am thrilled to be able to finally devote myself fully to my dream, focus my work entirely on my clients, and give this my best shot. I’ll update you on how it’s going at six months, and in the meantime, just let me know if you’d like to get tea!

Ladies Drawing Night Western Mass

I’ve been feeling like talking in real life with other local creatives; exchanging ideas, learning about others’ processes, getting feedback, and enjoying a laugh together at all of this. I’ve long been inspired by the original Ladies Drawing Night movement in Brooklyn, and loved the book by Julia Rothman, Leah Goren, and Rachael Cole. So I put a little idea out there on Insta, and was thrilled to see an enthusiastic response both from people I know and don’t know, and local businesses offering to host. I fleshed out the idea a little more from there and came up with Ladies Drawing Night Western Mass.

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The first LDN will be Thursday, November 8 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Holyoke Hummus in Holyoke, Mass.! It will be a fun, casual atmosphere for local creative women to make some art, share ideas, get inspiration, make new connections, and enjoy the best falafel in the Pioneer Valley.

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And, this will all be in benefit of the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, which provides low cost artistic instruction to the Holyoke community and beyond. They do a lot to support local arts and foster creative thinking in the community, and we’d like to show our support in return. Please consider donating when you come out to Ladies Drawing Night.

So, put LDN on your calendars, and I’ll look forward to seeing you on November 8! Can’t wait to meet you!

Logo Design: Riverwood Farm

The day I met Diego, I hopped in his farm truck and he drove us down a winding wooded path in Haydenville, leading to his one-acre plot of farm land along the Mill River. Riverwood Farm was in the August thick of it’s first full growing season, and it looked to be going well: tomatoes hung full and ripe from their vines, corn reached towards the towering trees above, and baby fall greens were already popping up in straight rows.

Diego had reached me through Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, CISA, which is an incredible resource for farmers in the Pioneer Valley. He’d been receiving support towards developing his business through their Beginning Farmer’s Program, which had guided him towards effectively branding his farm. That begins with a memorable logo, and I was so glad to hear from him when he saw my work and felt like it’d be a good match.

I was impressed by how much Diego was accomplishing on his acre in the woods; Riverwood Farm is truly a one man operation. He runs a no-till farm, as a means of keeping the soil healthy and fertile. The farm supplies vegetables to several local restaurants like Bistro Les Gras and The Freckled Fox Cafe. He also runs a farm stand up at Valley View Farm, making his fresh vegetables available to the community throughout the growing season.

Diego wanted his logo to be deeply personal, speaking to the hands-on, sustainable, small-scale operation he was running. His connection to the community and to his land needed to come through. So, what better way to do that than to put the farmer right in the logo?

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This illustration came to me first and most easily when I first began the process for this logo. I just drew what I had witnessed when I visited Riverwood Farm: Diego working his land by hand, under the shade of the forest by the river. Paired with a friendly hand drawn font, it instantly became full of personality. I was so glad he went with this option, I felt it suited his vision for the farm so well.

I won’t soon forget the other concepts for this project, though - here are the other three I presented to Diego.

They all paint a picture of Diego’s farm in their unique ways, but it’s the farmer in the chosen logo that really lets all that is at the core of Riverwood shine through.

I’m excited to see what’s next for Diego now that his brand is coming to life! Beginning farmers: make sure you get in touch with CISA, they have some incredible resources and grants that can take your farm and business to the next level. Take advantage! I’m looking forward to doing more with them in the future.

Images courtesy of Riverwood Farm

Into The White Mountains

I have a collection of vintage AMC trail guide books and maps, charting routes from Georgia to Maine. I’m no Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, but Jake and I have thumbed through the pages many times researching paths up and down the East Coast. 

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The White Mountains Guide is heavily earmarked by Jake, as he recounted family hikes up the Presidential Range as a kid, dutifully hauling the peanut butter and jelly supplies up steep trails. He’d described to me the rustic AMC huts that dot the ravines, offering warm bunks, thick oatmeal, and chess matches to weary hikers. 

So naturally, we had to plan our own expedition to the Lakes of the Clouds AMC hut, situated between the peaks of Mount Monroe and Mount Washington. And what better time than early September, squeezed in between the final heat wave and the first frost. 

Backpacks strategically loaded with the bare essentials, we drove up to New Hampshire on Friday morning. I saw the blue Presidential Range growing in the distance after a few hours, and began to wrap my head around the hill I was about to climb. Mount Washington is a big one, the highest in the Northeast, actually. And his co-patriots are no shrimps either. I got a little nervous but thought back to the time I concurred Camel’s Hump and the time I hauled up Zion and all the preparatory Berkshire hikes we’d done this summer, and figured I’d be at the top soon, one way or another.

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We set off on the Jewell Trail, waving goodbye to senior citizens aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway, chugging so, so slowly up the mountainside (I think I can, I think I can). The Jewell is an instant entry into deep, cool forest covered in moss, mushrooms, and alpine trees. It smelled like Christmas the whole way up. The route twisted and turned at a consistent grade up the west side of the mountain. The first hour was tough – this was my first serious hike shouldering a full backpack, and I was feeling the added weight. I adjusted as we made progress though, and things got easier. 

About halfway to our destination, we broke through the tree line, welcomed with sweeping views. It was a clear day, the wind was thankfully light, and blue mountains faded into one another for all of eternity. We took it in while picking our way up the steep, rocky trail.

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Veering right along the ridgeline, we took the Gulfside Trail over to the Crawford Path – the oldest maintained hiking trail in the country. We could see the hut as just a glimmering speck in the distance, and watched it slowly, slowly come into view and get closer. 

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We arrived at Lakes of the Clouds ten minutes before dinner was to be served at 6:00 sharp. We claimed our top bunks in room seven, and took our seats at the long tables as The Croo began clanging on pots and pans with their chef’s spoons; a mountaintop dinner bell. The menu was announced and large bowls of steaming food were passed happily around as the glowing sun set behind us. Chicken, cous cous, corn and peas, black bean soup and cheesy garlic bread were devoured, the clean-plate policy hardly an issue.

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Reenergized, we bundled up and took a walk outside to take in the stars. The wind had picked up, but the sky was perfectly clear. The hut’s naturalist pointed out constellations, galaxies, and clusters, offering a peer through his telescope. You could see it all, and for miles. 

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Sufficiently exhausted, we maneuvered the bathrooms and crawled up ladders into our sleeping bags, headlamps guiding us through the dark cabin. I read some Annie Dillard and listened to the winds howl outside, having picked up to 50 mph.

Jake and I were up at dawn; neither of us had exactly had our beauty sleep that night. We bundled back up and shuffled around the cold hut, listening to a chorus of breakfast sounds coming from the kitchen. We were soon served oatmeal, nutmeg pancakes, bacon, and eggs, well-fueled for the journey back down. We’d be setting off on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, the most popular and direct route to and from the hut. 

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This trail was absolutely beautiful, stimulating from beginning to end to make the time pass quickly. It brought us under tree cover almost immediately, which we were grateful for with winds still whipping. The trail follows the Ammonoosuc River, so there are no shortage of waterfalls and scenic stops along the way. It was steep though; my quads and calves were aching, but things are always a little more pleasant coming down. We cheerily greeted oncoming hikers making their way up to the hut, recommending they put on a jacket soon. 

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We emerged at the train station a few hours later, gazing at the slope and distant peak well behind us. Now that is a good feeling, second only to the hot shower that would soon follow.

The road back brought us luckily upon Lonesome Woods in Bethlehem, an antique and apothecary shop I’d spotted before on Instagram. We browsed their vintage backwoodsy cabin goods, and I came away with one of their handmade candles that smelled just like the piney Jewell Trail. 

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We burned the candle at home last night, the weather having turned like clockwork to chilly New England autumn. We rested our tired bones under layered blankets, heads still up in the clouds.