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.

Dave

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.

Catrina

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.

Monique

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.

Kiran

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.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work [book review]

“We don’t have to live that way.” It’s a plea from Sean Nelson’s Born Without A Heart, but also something I like to remember when I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. And it happens to sum up what Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Hansson remind us in It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work.

What’s the gist?
Fried and Hansson believe the modern workplace is a sick, vile, chaotic place. But it’s not beyond salvaging. You don’t have to work at a frenetic pace that creates anxiety and burns you out. Instead you can choose calm (and still be damn successful). They spend the book describing what a calm organization looks like and what they’ve learned through trial and error at Basecamp.

Should I read this?
If you’re interested in breaking the status quo of long workweeks, endless communications, unrealistic deadlines, and more — then yes. If the term “hustle” sounds like a basic buzzword to you — absolutely. While you may not be able to implement everything Basecamp does, I’d be shocked if you can’t do something that your organization and employees will benefit from. Also, if you prefer calm like I do, it’ll give you a nice rubric of what to look for in a future job search.

Notable quotes
Holy shit, lots of them. I went overboard, but…

“What’s worse is that long hours, excessive busyness, and lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for many people these days. Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it’s a mark of stupidity.”

“In almost every situation, the expectation of an immediate response is an unreasonable expectation. Yet with more and more real-time communication tools creeping into daily work—especially instant-messaging tools and group chat—the expectation of an immediate response has become the new normal. This is not progress.”

“Yes, it’s perfectly okay to have nothing to do. Or, better yet. nothing worth doing. If you’ve only got three hours of work to do on a given day, then stop. Don’t fill your day with five more just to stay busy or feel productive. Not doing something that isn’t worth doing is a wonderful way to spend your time.”

“Open-plan offices suck at providing an environment for calm, creative work done by professionals who need peace, quiet, privacy, and space to think and do their best.”

“We’ve found that nurturing untapped potential is far more exhilarating than finding someone who’s already at their peak. We hired many of our best people not because of who they were but because of who they could become.”

Buy it on:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

>> More Holiday Matinee book reviews

January 2019 mixtape

There’s no Pearl Jam on this month’s mix, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love this quote from frontman Eddie Vedder:

“I think music is the greatest art form that exists, and I think people listen to music for different reasons, and it serves different purposes. Some of it is background music, and some of it is things that might affect a person’s day, if not their life, or change an attitude. The best songs are the ones that make you feel something.”

It’s our hope that one of these tracks can be that for you. Click it or crickets!

Listen on: Apple Music | Pandora | Spotify

Bonus songs:
CONTACT – Contact
Cool Calm Pete + Sharon Jones – Sweet Nothing Mix

Think I found my soul mate in a wallet

I’ve had some wallets I fell in love with, but they just haven’t held up to what I put them through. Now a few months in, I’m thrilled to say that my Pioneer wallet is everything I was hoping for. It’s simple, functional, and can even withstand me accidentally putting it through the wash. This small SF design studio is bringing it.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

With sales starting weeks ago, you may have already completed your holiday shopping. But is it really just about finishing? Here are a few picks from our team that will have everyone dubbing you gift giver extraordinaire. Pass this gift guide along if you’re feeling it.

Gregory’s picks

Poketo 2019 Wall Art Calendar – Grace any space in need of an artistic touch.

Classic Books and Modern Art Print – For bibliophiles and graphic designers alike. Available in two color options.

Maze Infiniti Puzzle – For science geeks and nerds. This is a fresh new type of jigsaw puzzle inspired by topological spaces that continuously tile. There is no fixed shape, no starting point, and no edges. They can be assembled in thousands of different ways so it’s truly a puzzle for rebels.

Soil + Sun Herbarium Poster – Add some nature to your walls. We are one.

Italian Herb Napkin Rings – Add creativity, craft, and class to your next dinner party.

Catrina’s picks

Bad Vibes Sticker Pack – I love cute things. I love mild self-deprecation. This sticker set is a manifestation of the two!

Hers & Also Hers Embroidered Towels – Two important homemaking things happened in 2018: 1) I installed a magnetic knife rack on my kitchen wall, and 2) I got a sudden urge to hunt for quality bathroom hand towels. This towel set is the best one I discovered.

Votive Candle Set – My commitment-phobia to just 1 scented candle PLUS my love for nature-scented candles TIMES my admiration for candles in understated glassware EQUALS this petite votive candle set from Boy Smells!

Dave’s picks

Awesome Sticker Statements – Slap these on to anywhere that needs a bit more personality.

Culk Sweatshirts – I’m digging pretty much anything from Culk, but especially these NYC and California sweatshirts.

Dutch Apple Pie – This pie from Julian Pie Company is next level, mouth-watering delicious.

Tuft + Paw Modern Cat Bed – Not your grandma’s cat furniture.

Reggie Jackson Tee – He might be Mr. October, but this Reggie tee is always in style.

Monique’s picks

Party On Ankle Socks – They’re excellent!

TOPO Accessory Bags – Never lose your keys, wallet, and cellphone in your backpack again!

Felt Coasters – From one of my favorite San Diego (formerly LA) makers, Cotton & Flax.

Baby Clydesdale Hot Sauce – Keep your holidays spicy.

Dip-dyed Macrame Plant Hangers – Delightful hangers from an Ocean Beach creative.

Yeah Right Press Bandanas – Love them all but especially the Native Plants of California.

SANKAT CO Wallets – They fade into the perfect shade of brown leather.

Kiran’s picks

Kodak Patches – The classic film company got hip to our interest in all things vintage. This is a great stocking stuffer for your analog friends.

NeuYear Calendars – These large format calendars have been a staple for me the past few years. The one year I didn’t pick one up, I felt kinda lost because sometimes digital is no substitute for pen and paper.

Bookniture – Furniture that folds up into a large book. Use it as a chair, footrest, table, stepstool, and more.

reMarkable – A digital tool for paper people.

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