Archive for February, 2019

Our February 2019 mixtape

I don’t know about you, but we’re jonesing to get out of the wind/rain and step into some sun. The first track on this month’s mix should help. Click it (or crickets) for tunes from Lizzo, Rose Droll, Cuco, and more.

Image by Eric Nopanen

Listen on: Apple MusicPandora | Spotify

SoundCloud bonus: Sofia Wolfson – Nothing’s Real

12 Newsletters I highly recommend. Aka here’s how I stay relevant.

Leaders who don’t have time to read are leaders who don’t make time to learn. Not me, I’m obsessed with staying connected. It not only keeps me fresh but it’s a competitive advantage that enables you to relate, inspire and empathize – all qualities us creatives need to continue growing. And while information is flying at the speed of social, there’s a ton of great resources to keep you on top of your game. My daily routine includes a heavy dose of Flipboard, Twitter and newsletters. Yes, newsletters. Forget inbox zero, I get psyched when one of these nuggets of old-school electronic mail shows up. Here’s my top 5 12:

Thingtesting by Jenny Gyllander – Jenny is a VC by day and emerging product tester by night. She’s single handily reinvented product reviews and her emoji game is fire. What started as IG posts has now turned into an amazing roundup of some of the most interesting consumer products on the market.

Dense Discovery by Kai Branch – Kai’s previous venture, Offscreen was a staple on every office newsstand I ever curated but is currently on holiday. Thankfully, Kai launched Dense Discovery and it’s become a weekly favorite amongst nerdy creative types like myself. It’s chock-full of interesting apps, tools, tips and recommendations – I often find myself clicking on multiple links that provoke curiosity. Even the classifieds feel relatable and that’s a testament to Kai’s thoughtful, transparent approach.

Glimpse – Discover exploding trends before the take off. That’s the motto behind Glimpse and I gotta say, it’s been quite effective. I signed up for their free newsletter which sends a monthly report on a few industries you want to track. In just a few months, I’ve upped my game on reverse image search, VPN’s, hyper-growth consumer shopping insights and more. I can only imagine how valuable their paid-reports must be as I’m left feeling totally inspired.

Sidewalk Labs – Just as the way we work is changing, so are cities. Sidewalk Labs offers an excellent newsletter that speaks to how we reinvent our future cities. From urban data and mobility to creating more public spaces that foster community, each issue has me feeling like an inspired citizen ready for action. Plus, urban planning never felt so cool.

The Awesome Farm by Rashid Zakat – Rashid is a creative genius and his newsletter is pure fire. I’m not just saying that because he’s an incredible storyteller, filmmaker, internet-junkie, photographer, DMX impersonator or that he DJ’d my wedding. Nah, this guy has more creative firepower in one email than most people dream of in a lifetime. Know this, when The Awesome Farm drops, you better block off your cal for a solid hour.

Forerunner Commerce News by Forerunner Ventures – Named in Time’s 100 Most Influential People, founder of Forerunner Ventures, it’s safe to say Kirsten Green has made smart investments in some of the most exciting, visionary brands this decade. Her portfolio counts Glossier, Away, Warby Parker, Hotel Tonight, Hims, Stadium Goods totaling nearly 80 investments. Impressive? You bet. But even more, her team puts together a weekly newsletter on key trends across the commerce landscape (the most recent issue included live-streaming shopping and concept stores) that leave me feeling empowered as both a consumer and experience designer.

Design Dispatch by Surface Magazine – I’ve long admired Surface Magazine for their gorgeous cover portraits but their daily newsletter has become my new secret weapon. Think of it as your cheat sheet to all things design. I typically wake up and read their daily dispatch in bed. It’s easily digestible and includes my all-time favorite section, “Today’s Attractive Distractions.”

Antler Update by Red Antler – Many of today’s top direct-to-consumer brands were strategically launched by Red Antler. Along with Gin Lane, they’ve helped design (and sometimes invest in) startups such as allbirds, Brandless, Casper, Keeps, Burrow and more. They’ve definitely locked in on a successful formula that gets consumers talking and while their newsletter contains a healthy dose of “check out our clients” the real gem is “What We’re Reading” and “What’s On Our Mind.” Super insightful links from the master architects shaping our new relationship with brands.

Good Measure – If you’re like me, you want to continually know how to be a better human and Good Measure offers just the right dose to help get after it. Subscribing to Good Measure means you’ll get links to thought-provoking articles, trends, reporting and more — on social impact, design for good, sustainability, and how to do good with what you’ve got. Staying informed is a magical thing.

Design Dept – Design leadership takes ongoing creative practice and thankfully, Design Dept helps bring all the wisdom straight to your inbox. In addition to their masterful publication, Within Magazine, I find a tremendous amount of advice, resources and empowerment from their monthly newsletter.

First Drought by M.G. Siegler – There’s much to love about M.G.’s brain-dump of thoughts around tech, beer and more tech. His newsletter reads like a conversation on the couch, which I find totally refreshing. It’s a fresh perspective on our constantly shifting industry and his predictions are almost always on-point.

Magenta by HUGE – Show me an agency that cares about design and technology as much as their merch and swagger. There’s little not to love about HUGE. Their brand is bold and you should expect nothing less from their content – it’s presented with fresh graphics and raw commentary – just how I like it.

These brands are throwing shade at your content game.

Netflix, Apple, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, Showtime, Facebook, Disney…there’s never been a better time to create content. Subscription wars are heating up amongst the corporate giants but if you look a bit deeper you’ll find a small army of creative brands investing in content. Shopify, MailChimp, WeTransfer are all delivering gorgeously shot, thoughtful stories. And their goal? To connect with us. That’s right, personalized, relatable storytelling is flying off the shelves and when done right, it’s an influential marketing tool that’s moving us beyond double-taps into full-on purchase mode. I, for one, am totally on-board with this trend and have no doubt more tweets like this will be showing up. In fact, I’m hoping brands will continue to up the creativity and experiment with new formats – perhaps an Everlane or allbirds cartoon teaching kids about sustainability? Or maybe Etsy pop-up crafting shops in airports or The Sill coloring books given out at community gardens? Shift those marketing dollars because eliciting an emotional response through creative storytelling is something I’m willing to pay for. 

Brands We Love (Issue 01)

A writer, designer, digital marketer, and creative director walked into a bar, scrapped the punchline, and discussed what brands they admire right now. Take some notes. Here’s who you should be paying attention to and why.


The Sill – Sure, their products are gorgeous, but they’re running a clinic on brand development and engagement. From their Instagram stories and beautiful website, to their mastery of intelligent and relatable tone of voice, I seriously have fallen in love with The Sill through their branding superpowers.

NotPot – I mean, this is cleverness at new heights. They know their market and play right into it. Game set match.

Away – While their branding doesn’t stand out much from the pack of direct-to-consumer brands, the thing I admire most is their commitment to storytelling. They invest in great mediums such as podcasts, print magazines, and programming in their stores and even experimented with a pop-up hotel.

Burrow – I’m not in the market to buy a couch but when I am, Burrow is where I’m going. Red Antler is the genius behind their new leisure and comfort ads, and my, they should win all the awards. Every other furniture brand needs to take notes. This is a brand who knows their audience and isn’t afraid to experiment with creativity.


Boy Smells – I’ve mentioned this brand once and I’ll mention it again because I love their candles. Their products meet all of the criteria I have for candles: beautiful, simple packaging, affordable (but still high-quality), and damn good smells. Buying these took my home to “your house smells nice” levels and for that I am eternally pleased!

Buffy – In late 2017, I added a garlic press to my wish list, and at that moment I acknowledged one of many shifts in my late 20s: my “wish list” has morphed into a “necessities wish list”. Gone are the days when I added frivolous items to my online shopping carts until the urge to buy them passed. Now I just want quality houseware items I need and use every day — including a bed comforter. I bought one from Buffy because their marketing and branding convinced me to, and I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m buried underneath the comforter as I write this (it’s hard to escape).

R+Co Haircare – I love this brand for the same reasons I love Boy Smells, and more. It’s the packaging, the product names, the smells, the quality, the commitment to mindfulness about ingredients, their online shopping experience, and the delight of cutting open their packaging to scoop out every last bit, so no product goes to waste.


Orange & Park – Our buds at Orange & Park have been bangin’ out the classics for years, but their quality product line gets fresher each season. Minimalist maps yes, but they also make the most perfect prints for classic carcamera, and comber enthusiasts too.

Big Bud Press – From bold basics to badass attitudes, I love everything about Big Bud Press! After backing their Kickstarter last year, I became more familiar with the duo that pours everything into this brand, and my admiration grew stronger. Things didn’t go super smoothly with the Kickstarter production, and instead of hiding or pretending everything was OK, they shared transparent updates and owned up to it (“I know waiting sucks, you have no idea how much I know that waiting sucks! We stop in on the factories and shops working on these pieces multiple times a day, 6 days a week.”), reminding us all about the humans behind the brand.

Small Batch – Two wonderful San Diego babes are bringing more lovely goods to La Mesa, and everyone (including me) is about it! The shop opened late last year and favors products from local makers and shakers, like letterpress stationery, pretty plants, and delicious candles. Try visiting and NOT leaving with at least 5 fun things, I dare ya.


Imperfect Produce – It’s not the most polished brand nor does everything always go smoothly, but Imperfect Produce is winning me over with its mission, customer support, and by feeding me delicious organic fruits, veggies, and snacks that make me feel alive. Giving me a compliment when I log into my account is just the rutabaga on top.

Soapbox – My first experience with a Soapbox product was taking an open-air shower in the middle of a redwood forest, so kudos to them for getting involved in experiential marketing. The product packaging feels premium and I love that this college kitchen project gives back each time I make a purchase. On the back of each product is a “hope code” you can enter on the website to find out who you helped.

Sub Pop Records – I’ve always liked their band roster and there’s a certain humility I admire when they say “We’re not the best, but we’re pretty good.” But what really enchanted me was the experience they created in at Sea-Tac Airport. I loved everything, from the merch, to the history, and the Polaroids of bands that stopped by to say what’s up.

The California Sunday Magazine – A few years ago when Pop-Up Magazine branched out to create a digital and print mag, I was stoked. They’ve done nothing to hamper my enthusiasm since. Hell, I’m not even sure the NY Times would be my goal anymore. The fresh stories and film-like photography make getting published in California Sunday part of my life list.

You made it to the end! Think we should make this a quarterly thing? Got a brand you love to share with us? We’re listening.

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