Posts Tagged ‘creatives near you’

Creatives Near You: David Lord [Air House Music Academy & Recording Studio]

Creatives Near You: David Lord [Air House Music Academy & Recording] | Bringing Design Home

Cale and I have had the pleasure of collaborating with David Lord for several years now. Together we branded The Wonder Revolution, designed The DOTS Album Design, and more recently hosted a private show on our own front lawn for his solo project; Francis Moss. David is the kinda of guy that you could talk with for hours about music, creativity, and life’s deeper topics. He’s the kind of old soul and free spirit that you just really want to get to know. One of the most genuine people we’ve ever met, David Lord is truly someone we admire. Trained in classical guitar he launched a music academy from his very own home!

Today Air House Music Academy has expanded into two East and West locations in Wichita, KS. Hosting classes of mixed genres and instruments, Air House also is a recording studio, and a private venue space. Through his love for music David Lord has created a special place where creativity, music, and good technique is truly celebrated.

Q1) What inspired you to open Air House Music Academy?

I had a vision of creating a music academy and recording studio that promotes creativity. The aspect of music that I fell in love with early on was writing my own music. I also studied jazz and classical guitar in college, so I saw the benefit of learning music theory and learning proper technique. So in conceptualizing a music academy in Wichita, I wanted to include both the creative aspects as well as the technical and theoretical aspects. I saw the need in Wichita for a music academy focused on producing proficient, creative musicians. I also had dreamed of building a recording studio, both to record my own music as well as produce quality recordings for the creative music of Wichita.

Q2) How does your casual “go with the flow” attitude towards life influence the way you run your business?

Haha. That is pretty much the way I run the business as well, for better or worse. Air House feels more like a community of music educators, rather than a business with me as the boss. I like the relaxed, friendly atmosphere. I couldn’t really imagine doing it any other way. I try not to make much of a distinction between the way I approach life and the way I approach business.

Q3) What makes Air House Music Academy different than it’s competition?

It’s the only music academy around town that has such a broad scope. Air House is a music academy, a recording studio, a record label and a music venue. We offer private lessons, classes, ensembles, recording engineering training, recording, mixing, mastering, clinics, concerts, recitals, etc. Also, we have a truly exceptional faculty of teachers, including college professors, teachers with their doctorates and masters degrees and teachers specializing in songwriting and creativity. And our recording engineer and instructor recorded two albums with Bob Dylan.

Q4) What has been the most rewarding part when it comes to teaching kids about music?
When a student discovers his or her own sound and own approach to music, that is incredibly rewarding. It is great to provide the students with the tools to play music, but when they take those tools and create something of their own, that is very rewarding. The times that has happened have been highlights of my life. It is a beautiful thing to see someone use music for self discovery and self expression.
Q5) Most artists are great at being creative, but struggle with the structure needed to run their own business. You seem to have found a great balance. What advice do you have for others who might need help in this area?

Yeah, that’s a hard balance. I personally just do what I need to do for the business, then try to spend my free time with music and working in the studio. Everybody has their own way of doing things. Sometimes the business feels like too much and I fantasize about living in a small house in Sweden, spending all my time writing music and exploring the forest.

Q6) What has been the best tool you’ve found to help promote classes and events locally at Air House Music Academy?

Word of mouth has been the best. I try to bring on established, high level teachers that have a good network of their own. That helps a lot. Then I just promote events through social media and brochures and posters. I don’t spend much money on advertising.

Q7) How do you use your business and your creativity to give back to the community around you?

I hope that our efforts in music education are having a positive effect on the community, both for the students and for the teachers. Also, our record label tries to reach out to talented local musicians and give them a chance to record quality albums. In the past 10 years or so, there hasn’t really been a quality recording studio/record label in Wichita with the aim of supporting creative Wichita music. We are hoping to improve the musical culture in Wichita. We also released a  benefit compilation for Muscular Dystrophy and Stem Cell Research that was curated by our friend, Ryan Benton. The compilation included several national bands like Thee Oh Sees, Elf Power and Cave Singers as well as Wichita bands. I also perform around the community frequently with my solo guitar project Francis Moss and my band The Wonder Revolution.

Q8) List three ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?

1) I try to work in the recording studio every day. I love making albums and it has become a daily practice. 2) Lately I’ve been writing 15 second micro songs and posting them on Instagram every day. That is a fun way to compose every day. 3) I try to practice or work on my live set every day.

Q9) Between running your own business, producing, and writing and touring yourself you definitely are a busy guy! How do you balance it all, and maintain a happy and healthy home life?

Don’t really know about that! Haha. Don’t have much of a perspective of what is normal in regards to a home life. But my preferred way of spending time with friends or relaxing is to work on music or a creative project. So it’s just a constant part of my life. I think the only time that I get frustrated is when I’m not spending enough time working on my music. As far as the effect on my relationships, I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. Haha. But I tend to surround myself with other creative people that are also doing their own projects. My fiance  Lindsay is a creative artist and raw food chef. She likes her space and creative time also, so we’re a good match.

Q10) Outside of music what is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?

Pet the cats.

David is a true musician at heart with a beautiful creative process that is all his own. Air House Music Academy and Recording Studio has given him the flexibility to pursue his own process on his own time and schedule. Although we are sure there are days where he’d love to run away from the “business side” of running a business… we think it’s just wonderful how he has discovered a creative way to make a living while doing what he loves.

Through your music, your creative business, and your heart you inspire us David! We can’t wait to see what is next for you and all your musical endeavors.

From the Farm

Keep up with David via Air House Music Academy, The Wonder Revolution, and/or his solo project; Francis Moss

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Creatives Near You: Krysta Masciale [Branding Expert & Blogger]

Creatives Near You: Krysta Masciale [Branding Expert & Blogger]

Our Creatives Near You Series is seriously becoming one of my favorites. Month to month I continue to be inspired and blown away by creatives that are doing what they love and going after their dreams. They are everyday people that I get to call friends and can’t wait to introduce you too!

I have secretly been hoping and praying to feature Krysta for quite some time now. When she instantly replied to my email request I was super stoked! Krysta and I met years ago in Wichita, Kansas. I can’t quite remember if it was through our Church, University, or the fact that she was dating a good friend of mine at the time, but either way we became friends. From the very beginning I remember Krysta as a go getter. She might be tiny in stature, but I promise she makes up for it in wit and drive! ;) Right after college I remember her still struggling to find her creative nitch. She always put her whole self into her work, but it just never seemed like enough. Something was missing. It was at that time Krysta decided to throw all caution to the wind, sell most of her possesions, and jump into a new life in Los Angeles! She went in with both feet and no real plan (at least that is what it seemed like to me!) other then a hunger for change and a willingness to do whatever it took.

Krysta’s been in LA for several years now and thanks to the internet I’ve been able to follow along as she’s met new friends, gotten married, and become the CEO of a branding agency called B!G DEAL BRANDING. Through her blog Stilettos On The Rocks I’ve been able to watch her develop her balls to the walls creative voice (which I love), grow as a business owner and a wife, and become the truly confident woman that you see today.

She’s the real deal folks and I’m really excited to share with you some of her story, her process, how she balances life with a husband who freelances in the film industry, and a few lessons she’s learned along the way.


Q1) What was is it about marketing and businesses strategies that made you want to pursue it as a career?

It never seemed right to say, “I’ve been doing branding since I was a kid.” It’s not like singing or dancing. What I can tell you is that I have a journal entry from middle school where I wrote “What they’re saying isn’t what I’m experiencing. Shouldn’t there be some consisistency?” (Yes, I’ve always been this critical and nerdy.) From that point forward, I would dream about being in the center of the action, driving cultural conversation and finding the most compelling way to get them to the right audience. When I got to college and realized I could actually be graded on strategic thinking and talking, I knew this was the right field for me. That was just the beginning of what would evolve into my absolute love for building stronger brands through leadership development.

Q2) What are the most challenging, and the most rewarding parts about being your own boss?

The most rewarding is meeting the people who are attracted to our company. My team is so kick ass and the culture we’ve created brings in a certain kind of clientele that makes my job so much more stimulating. Quite a few of my client relationships turn into close friendships. I love that. The nature of what we do is so personal that it’s easy to pick up at the end of the process with plans to meet in person and just hang out. The challenging piece is being patient. I fully believe in elbow grease and sweat equity. There are just days when I wish I could snap my fingers and be on the cover of Forbes… that’s normal right?

Q3) How has your “no BS approach” toward life shaped the way you run your business?

Well, I can tell you it serves as a great filter. There isn’t a single person in my life who doesn’t challenge me. That goes for my team as well. I never wonder what they’re thinking and am proud that, as a culture, we are honest with one another on what’s working and what isn’t. I think that openness has attributed to our success.

Q4) You work with clients of all shapes and sizes. What advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?

For networking, we started with where we had the most connections and chose strategic aliances with leaders in that industry. Doing trades with them in the early days was a win-win. We not only got goods we couldn’t afford, but also exposure on their platform with our ideal audience that filled our docket quickly.

As we’ve matured, we’ve been more intentional about investing in clients who have networks that will take us to the next level. We’ll do in-person meetings instead of Skype and do what we can to go above and beyond. The more time we spend in their space, the more apt we are to meet their friends. I usually offer to do a free workshop for a handful of their industry colleagues to add value. This is such a natural crowd to step into since our common denominator is my client. They’ve already heard about the process from someone they trust and have seen the transformation first hand. Our clients are great at filtering who they introduce us to, so I’m always honored to be a part of their community. It may be a slow way to fill the pipeline, but we get to be more selective and I feel the experience overall is more transformational.

Q5) You and your husband both work for yourselves. How do you balance running two separate businesses while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?

Uhhh. Great question. I’m pretty good at not checking email or answering the phone outside of business hours. I’m terrible at letting my phone be a distraction though. Hellllooo Instagram! Vince’s career is a little more tricky. If he’s working for a network on a tv show, then he has to use nights and weekends for his other projects. I can say that having scheduled date nights have been so helpful. All of our friends know that Fridays are off the table. That’s a sacred time slot for us. Right now, our motto is quality over quantity when it comes to time spent together.

Q6) How does Vince’s career in film influence yours?

I think it greatly influences the way I think and perceive the world around me. He is highly creative and strategic which helps me see things in an entirely new way. I appreciate his feedback and love the opportunity to get his input on how to craft our message with more clarity. His expertise in that area overlaps what we do in such an interesting way. The unique perspective keeps me from getting tunnel vision and challenges me to the point of ugly crying. True statement.

Q7) How does your business culture and your lifestyle tie you to your home city of LA?

It has been said that L.A. has a way of bringing out who you really are. I never thought I was the entrepreneur type. Disgruntled employee constantly fighting the status quo … totally. Run-my-own-business? Never. I like complaining too much. This city … man … it gets you. There’s a scrappy nature to it that I really connect with. People are constantly hustling and pushing themselves in ways they never anticipated. What I think makes this city different than say, NYC, is that people here know how to relax. The hustle is met with some sort of outdoor activity: beach time, hiking, running, eating at an outdoor café, etc. I’ve come to appreciate that cultural value for balance in this town.

Q8) List 3-5 ways you keep creativity alive in your day to day?

Running is huge for me. It helps clear my brain and lets me go uninterupted for a chunk of time (at least until I get the iWatch!). I also love exploring new parts of the city. I have a colleague I meet with once a month to set goals and explore a new parts of town that we’ve never been to. It’s often centered around architecture, food, coffee and/or some kind of physical outdoor activity. For Vince and I, we absolutely love to travel. Both of us are fueled by weekend getaways. The best combination is a trip to NYC for work and play. It’s a sweet spot of ours.

Q9) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home as a family?

When Vince is working for a network, we love our mornings. We get out and run together and then come home and have coffee on the couch with our pups while we catch up on the news. Surprise lunch dates are super awesome when our schedules permit. And when we’re both working from home we shut down at 6, have happy hour and cook dinner together. If it’s not too hot, you’ll find us in the jacuzzi after dinner; Vince with a cigar and whiskey and me with an Old Fashioned.

I love that even with Krysta’s kick ass and take names approach toward life she’s still found a man that can make her “ugly cry”. It just goes to show that there is a piece of realness and vulnerability in us all! Even those so called “tough gals”. ;)

Krysta, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story, advice, and piece of your life with us. Keep it up girl!

From The Farm

Follow Krysta via her blog, instagram, and twitter. You can also hire Krysta for personal goal setting and strategic planning… or as she likes to call it; ” Good old fashioned ass whooping’”! ;)  

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Creatives Near You: Tamara Staples [Commercial Photographer]

Gourd: Tamara Staples Photographer Interview | Bringing Design Home

The crazy thing about social media is meeting people online that inspire you, that you get to actually chat with and follow their life on a daily basis, but yet you may never actually meet in person! Tamara Staples is one of those people in my life. She first stood out to Cale and I when we featured her beautiful Chicken Photography as an Everyday Design Blog Post. When I reached out to Tamara to ask for her permission about using her photographs we started emailing back and forth and following each other on Facebook. I love it when you reach out to an artist or maker and they actually have time to engage in real conversations with you. No matter how much traffic your feature may or may not send to their site, you can just tell when someone is genuinely thrilled that their work caught your eye and that you want to showcase it. I immediately felt that response from Tamara and have since then really enjoyed following her work as an artist and a commercial photographer in Brooklyn, NY.

I asked Tamara to give us the low down on what exactly it is she does when it comes to photography and her day to day life as a professional, mom, wife, woman, and friend.

“My usual schedule includes regular photography assignments such as book covers, magazine photo illustrations and other assorted jobs, for instance, a non-for-profit shoot about organic-raised chickens.

When I’m not in the studio, I play mahjong with a group of ladies, run 15 miles a week and enjoy time with my 8 year old son, Emmett and my husband, Bill Newell.” – Tamara Staples

Q1) What was is it about photography that made you want to pursue it as a career?

I’ve loved photography since childhood when I pinned a picture from a box of Girl Scout cookies on my wall. In this photograph, a young girl kneels in the sand behind her tripod and camera, staring out into the distance waiting for something to happen so that she might capture it. This girl struck me as a confident person, the kind of person I’d like to be, who was able to observe life around her in a non-threatening way.

Q2) What are some of the key factors that helped shape and develop your photographic eye?

I’ve always loved Irving Penn as a key source of inspiration, but for me, I need a variety of inspirations. All of life’s rich experiences influence my work.

Q3) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about being a full-time freelance photographer?

Free-lancing has its ups and downs.  At times I’m so busy I can barely keep it all straight, and then there are times when no one is calling no matter how much I reach out to market myself. I can get a little blue, but my husband is always reminding me not to equate my self-worth to the momentary lack of work. The upside of the free-lance gig is setting my own schedule. I have the freedom to be with my family when I want or need to be.

Q4) How have you found balance running your own business and maintaining a healthy family life?

My husband works a healthy 75 hours a week so he’s not able to contribute to the day-to-day domestic duties. My photography hours pale in comparison, but when you add the care of my 8 year old, the domestic chores, my fine art work, marketing, my weekly Mahjong game and a 15 mile-a-week running schedule it can get very hectic. I’m incredibly independent, so it works for us, but not without a lot of juggling.

Q5) As a freelancer what advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?

Finding new clients outweigh the actual work by a wide margin, so when I get new business, it’s gold. The best advice I can give for building a consistent client base is to service each individual client with the best you can give, no matter the circumstances. I hire a lot of other free-lancers and if they are on set complaining about other clients, I generally won’t hire them again.

Q6) How has being a mom changed or shaped you as a creative person?

As a parent, I’ve become particularly efficient. And because I adore being a mom, I’m a happier, more fulfilled person. But being a parent is a difficult job. Figuring out how to be a good parent is ever changing, there’s so much to consider. When I go to work, I almost feel like I’m on vacation!

Q7) What are some tips for approaching publishers for a book deal?

There are many ways to get your projects in front of publishers. The most popular way lately is to attend a Portfolio Review. They are seemingly everywhere these days, but beware: they are expensive. However, you will meet face to face with the very people who could help you. Exposure is very important. Submit work to contests and the research to find the right people and contact them directly. I find the shotgun approach works best for me.

Q8) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?

We live in Greenwood Heights on top of a hill that happens to be the tallest point in Brooklyn. This apartment is new to us in that we purchased it in May of 2013. The reason we chose this apartment is because of the large balcony on the top floor with sweeping views of the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, a huge chunk of Brooklyn (including the BQE) and all of Manhattan. Every night after dinner, we rush to the balcony and watch the sunset. This is our favorite family activity. Nothing to do but watch the colors collect in the sky and the lights coming up in the city.

Q9) How do you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?

Lately I’ve been shooting with a tungsten light that will focus. I love how the subject matter will sparkle and I especially like the sharp black shadows that instantly create a sense of design. Most of these images are “experiments” or “tests”, as we call them in the business. I’m showing my clients how this lighting looks great for the right project. It’s so important to try new things, to stay fresh and to challenge yourself.

Now, let’s all take a breath and savor each of these beautiful photographs! I just love the layouts and the way she makes you wanna study and see the art forms in ordinary objects. Truly amazing!

Thank you Tamara for taking the time to share more about your life and your work. I hope our paths do cross Tamara and maybe you can teach me how to play mahjong sometime?! I love card games. We play a mean game of pitch here in Oklahoma! ;)

From The Farm

Keep up with Tamara’s work via her website or blog. And just for fun, make sure you checkout her Pretty Chicken Photography Project too!      

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Creatives Near You: Jana & Vanessa [Vintage Whites Market]

Creatives Near You: Jana & Vanessa [Vintage Whites Market]

When I started to reach out to different creatives about re-launching our Creatives Near You Series Jana and Vanessa were at the top of my list! I first met Jana two years ago at an evening party at Altitude Design Summit. We instantly hit it off, and although we’ve never been able to meet up since then, I’ve enjoyed watching Jana’s creative businesses grow and change from an Organic Soda Company to running The Vintage Whites Market with her best friend Vanessa. Over the past year I’ve been impressed and inspired with their beautiful blog posts highlighting their homes’, favorite vintage finds’, yummy recipes’, and of course the latest on their Vintage Whites Markets’. Through their love of antiques and the thrill of the “hunt”, they’ve created a truly unique experience that customers look forward to every year. Named one of the top 25 markets to visit in the United States by Romantic Homes & Flea Market Style The Vintage Whites Market is filled with live music, the best vintage vendors around, door prizes, and great food and family fun.

“The Vintage Whites Market started in 2010 in a garage with 5 vendors, and has grown to be one of the most well-known and attended shows in Montana, with over 100 vendors and markets in 3 different states.”Vintage Whites Market

Planning an event at this scale, with both coordinators living in different states, can be quite the challenge. I asked Jana to share how they break down the different tasks between two best friends and business partners;

“Vanessa takes care of managing vendors, Jana takes care of marketing and managing the website, and we both decorate and brainstorm the pretty stuff!!” – Jana

Q1) How did the two of you meet and develop a friendship?

Jana: Vanessa and I met at church when we were very young. We grew up together! It wasn’t until I moved to Montana that we realized what a great team we make. I love being in business with my best friend!

Q2) What inspired you to start your own vintage market?

Jana: Originally, we were wanting to open up some sort of vintage business, but it was so expensive! Vanessa had a booth at an antique mall and it just seemed like we could do something that would be exciting and make us some money. We started out as a monthly garage sale…literally out of her garage with about 5 other vendors. It was so small, but right away we realized that people were hungry for that type of event!! Within a year, we had outgrown her garage and moved to the field down the road with about 50 vendors. This year, we’ve expanded to three states…over 100 vendors, and growing! We are so excited!

Vanessa: We both were into selling vintage finds. Jana mentioned she had heard of someone who transformed their garage into a store. I knew several vendors that I thought might be interested in selling at a monthly sale. Then the ideas just came spilling out.

Q3) What made you decide to organize a vintage market instead of running your own vintage shop?

Jana: The cost! Eventually we would love to have a storefront of some sort, but for now, the markets are cost effective and so much fun! We love the excitement that our markets bring. I think we really have some of the BEST customers around!!

Vanessa: Its so much easier! And I knew from having a couple of my own “shabby chic” yard sales that people will spend money so much faster at a yard sale…because it’s only there one day. Plus we could spend the time between markets rebuilding our inventory.

Q4) You two live in different states, what advice do you have for building a business with a long-distance business partner?

Jana: Communication! Transparency! Humor! My advice is just to talk. Have regular dialogue with your business partner on how things are going, what you can do to make your business better, and have fun with each other! Finding someone whose business strengths are your weaknesses helps a ton too!

Vanessa: We are always texting about everything. We know that the each other work hard on the market AND have busy lives, so we both know to pull our weight. And we know how to disagree. We voice our opinions, debate, and we each know when to give in a little.

Q5) What has been the best promotional tool you’ve used to get the word out and drive traffic to your events?

Jana: Well, it used to be Facebook! They’ve made it a little bit harder to reach our customers, but in the beginning we relied on that to get the word out! Now, we use Instagram and LOVE it. We post pretty pictures and tell people about our market. It’s so fun!

Vanessa: I think having very attractive promo materials in stores was a huge help. And in the beginning, word of mouth.

Q6) We like the art of bartering, what are some tips for doing it respectfully?

Jana: Be polite, and by no means insult the item hoping that you’ll get a better deal on it. I just don’t understand it when people say things like “well it’s not exactly the right color, and there’s some dirt on the bottom. You didn’t get the paint in ALL the cracks…will you take less for this?”

Q7) What is your all-time favorite vintage find, why?!

Jana: The hardest question ever!! I think for me, it would be this gorgeous wooden shoe mold rack that I found at our market two years ago! It fits in any style of decor that I’ve had, it is SO versatile. I’ve had everything from plates to shoes to clothes on it!

Vanessa: I’ve always heard of these amazing finds that people found for next to nothing or free. Well I finally found my own one day in a habitat for humanity Restore. It was a crystal chandelier for $25.

Q8) List a few ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?

Jana: I browse Instagram to keep my creativity fresh! Pinterest, blogs, magazines, music, and traveling also spark ideas. Vanessa and I have text conversations that just spiral into new ideas for shoots, blog posts, party concepts, you name it. They go on for hours!

Vanessa: I seem to get more creative when I have to…when we are brainstorming for something. I look at other ideas…on Pinterest usually, and something I see sparks an idea.

Q9) Describe a typical best friend date night?

Jana: I would have to say a movie, some kind of sugary treat, and a comfy couch! Give us a copy of Austenland and some ice cream anyday!

Vanessa: Shopping side-by-side at The Vintage Whites Market ;-)

Creative businesses come in all shape and sizes. It’s amazing to be me to see how an idea can spark from a monthly garage sale, into a full-scale event, on a national level, highlighting all kinds of local vendors and goodies.

Now, it’s time to pack up the gals and a big trailer for a weekend of treasure hunting! Mark your calendars for a show near you!

2014 Vintage Whites Market Schedule:

  • July 5th – Downtown Somers, Montana
  • Sept 6th – Downtown Somers, Montana
  • Nov 8th – Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Montana
  • Jan 9-10th – The Ranch in Loveland, CO
  • March 13-14th – Utah State Fair Park in Salt Lake City, UT

Thanks for inspiring us Jana and Vanessa! Wishing you all our best as you continue to grow as creatives, business owners, and best friends of course! ;)

From The Farm

Follow The Vintage Whites Market by visiting their Website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter Page.

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Creatives Near You: John & Cate [The Photo Bus]

Creatives Near You: John & Cate [The Photo Bus] | Bringing Design Home

I can’t tell you how excited I have been to share our latest Creatives Near You Interview with the ADORABLE and lovely couple behind The Photo Bus. I randomly met Cate when I was in KC for a girls work trip. Instantly I was taken back by her beautiful smile and outgoing demeanor. Honestly, we only visited for a few moments, but I’ve been following her and John’s creative business ever since and I can’t get enough of this inspiring couple. Their Photo Bus is a photo booth inside a vintage VW Bus! Serving the Kansas City area The Photo Bus provides a unique and fun way to capture events with professional photography equipment, lighting, and unlimited printing!

I asked Cate to share a bit about the roll she plays with keeping The Photo Bus alive and well

“John DePrisco, the owner (and my fiancé) likes to call me “the boss”. He was the brain behind this incredibly creative idea and he drives the bus to the events/runs the booth, but I do all of the behind-the-scenes from the booking to the prop making to the marketing. The whole idea started because of his wedding photography business (to be described below!) so that is also what we do when we’re not running The Photo Bus… wedding and portrait photography (and everything else behind-the-scenes that goes with it).” – Cate

Q1) What inspired you to create a photo booth out of an old VW BUS?

John came up with the idea when he was looking for a way to market his wedding photography business in a way that set him apart from all of the other wedding photographers. He grew up with vintage Alfa Romeos, and he really wanted one of those (just to have) but it was out of the price range. Joking with his industry friends one night he said he should put one of his photo booths in an old Volkswagen Bus. Well, they pressured him to turn that bar-talk in to reality and here we are today!

Q2) What’s the best business advice you’ve received that has helped grow The Photo Bus into what it is today?

As we were just about to launch The Photo Bus in two new metro areas (St. Louis and Dallas/Ft. Worth), we ran into a DJ friend of ours. He asked us to attend an event he was hosting and we told him we were unavailable (as people) but we could find someone to run the bus. He said, no thanks, because he’s not only hiring the service for what it is but the people to go with it. That really made us realize just how important WE as PEOPLE are to this business, as is our story. We can’t just hire anyone to help us run it as we keep growing… we need the RIGHT person with the RIGHT personality who can become part of our story… which happens to be part of the business. Some other advice we’ve been told is to keep work work and home home. We are SO busy and I feel like there are never enough hours in the day so if I’m not away from home or away from the office, I WILL keep working. (In fact, I’m always responding to emails from my phone or posting to social media… so really, I’m always working). With that being said, we have to schedule time just for us so we can spend time together and take the dog on long walks and plan our wedding. As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy never to shut down… but seriously, shut down.

Q3) In your opinion, what makes a photo booth photo great?!

Oh my gosh, I just love photo booths. They’re great at events because they give the guests something to do. They’re great for friends and cow-workers because it’s a perfect opportunity to let loose and be silly. And with our company we provide quality images and everyone gets a print… so not only is there an opportunity to be silly photobooths send the guests home with a physical memory from the party to put on the fridge or in their cubicle, etc.

Oh, now that I’ve said that, I realize I mis-read the question (but I like what I said!). I think what makes a photobooth photo series great is mixing it up… different props each time, maybe even different spots. The best photos are the ones which don’t look like photos I can take on my phone or “party pics”.

Q5) How do you balance running a business with your finance while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?

That’s a really good question, and we do find ourselves struggling with it quite often. We used to have our office at home which meant I was ALWAYS working. However, we always had a coffee date at our local coffeeshop a block away (which just so happens to also be our first date). Because I wasn’t ever relaxing we decided to move the office to our photo studio, also a block away from home. While we still find ourselves working late sometimes, we finally have a separation between the two locations… and we don’t work when we are home. We take breaks when we need to clear our heads and go on walks, and we always eat dinner (and usually lunch, too) together.  Spending almost every minute AND running a business together has its challenges, but I don’t think either of us could imagine it any other way. (Even when we argue about it! Lol!)

 Q5) Photo or not what has been your favorite Photo Bus memory thus far? Why?

John proposed to me in The Photo Bus (see video above!), so that’s by far my FAVORITE memory (we met at his 2nd public event with The Photo Bus 2 years ago!) With that memory aside, they all kind of seemed to blend together for a bit… there were 2 ½ other proposals (one was outside the bus, hence the half!), first ever family photos with newborns, first dates, many years of marriage, VW story after VW story, etc…. but then something happened the other day. When John first started this business he has always run it with the philosophy that he’d rather someone experience The Photo Bus VW Photo booth than walk away because they don’t have a dollar in their pocket. With that being said, we never charge the event guests for prints (either the event pays for us to be there and covers the cost, or we put out a tip jar asking for donations if it’s an event we are choosing to attend in our free time). I’ve been PERSONALLY criticized by a couple of people who claimed that is a silly business plan and there’s no way to make money that way (um, ok.). Well, just last week we were at one of those public events where we put out a tip jar. A man (who let’s just say probably doesn’t have a home and hopefully has seen better days but that day wasn’t one of them) came up to me to ask me about the bus. He was curious about the Volkswagen as it was, and then he was curious about the photos. I encouraged him to get in and take 4 photos (like I always do). He smiled, got in, took the button, and took 4 photos. I made him a print… and before he walked away he took a handful of change out of his pocket and thanked me. It was the perfect reminder of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it… and why we have no intention of changing it.

Q6) Who’s the better VW Bus driver?!

There is no question John is the better VW Bus driver. To date, I’ve only driven Mary Lou Blue (the blue bus, she’s mine!) once, and it was a block… because our mechanic made me. I’ve driven April (the red bus) twice… and it was terrifying. I can make it happen, but it’s not a pretty site as I’m swerving in the lane.

Q7) List 5 ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?

Oh man, this is really hard for me as I’m doing 50 million things all day long. There really is only 1 answer I can give, and it’s taking a break. If I never let my mind relax, I struggle with being creative. (Sorry that’s not 5!)

Q8) Describe a typical John and Cate date night?

A typical John and Cate date night is centered around food. Either we’ll cook (ie, John will cook, I’ll clean up!) or we’ll go to dinner. Our real dates happen when we’re on vacation (physically on vacation, as in a completely different place with an auto-reply on email!) because we’re actually shutting down from work. In that case, our dates are still centered around food. HA!

Please tell me you watched their Kickstarter Campaign Video before question 5!? If not you need to scroll back up and watch it! I love everything about this couple. Sometimes our ideas lead us down unusual paths, but it’s always fun to hear stories of people who took that journey in stride and made it work for them. Makes you wanna just push that random idea you have a little bit further and see where it takes you!?! You never know, it might just be that one thing that separates you and gives you a creative edge in your own market.

Thanks Cate for sharing more of your story with us and how you balance running a full-time photography business with everyday life. We wish you both the best in married life and hope maybe someday we can catch a double date at Quay Coffee! ;)

From The Farm

Keep up with all the The Photo Bus happenings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Shout-out to our mutual friend Ali with Gimme Some Oven who introduced us! I’m jealous you two get to be neighbors! :(  

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Creatives Near You: Tom Jackson [Staff Chef at All Things BBQ]

Creatives Near You: Tom Jackson [Staff Chef at All Things BBQ] | Bringing Design Home

I can’t tell you how excited we are to be bringing back one of our favorite series; Creatives Near You. Once a month we will be highlighting some of our closest creative friends, or people that we hope to get to know a little bit better, and see how they juggle their creative careers and family life. Some of them are married with kids, while some of them are single. Some of them are working full-time pursuing their dreams, while others are building capital and experience to take the leap and leave their more corporate jobs. Either way, we hope you come away inspired, equipped with some tools that might help you on your way, and the realization that
“creativity” comes in many different shapes and sizes.

It’s hard to believe that I (Meg) have known both Tom and his wife Kristy for nearly 11 years! Throughout that time we’ve shared some awesome and awkward high school prom memories, dorm room drama in college, marriage, and kids… oh my have we grown! ;) The thing I respect about Tom and Kristy is that they have not let married life get in the way of pursuing their dreams. From traveling the country while Tom chased his music career, to up and moving everything and everyone to live in the Northwest, they’ve made sacrifices that although I’m sure were tough at times, have strengthened their relationship and given them so many different life experiences.

It’s these experiences that shape you as a creative being so when I found out that Tom was pursuing a career in the culinary arts I was super pumped to see how it would all develop. Although Tom and Kristy don’t live in the Northwest anymore, they’re a little bit closer to family (which I’m sure the Grandparents LOVE!), and enjoying Tom’s new position as a Staff Chef at All Things BBQ (ATBBQ) in Wichita, KS. All Things BBQ is a family run business that offers professional grills, smokers, outdoor kitchens, accessories, barbeque sauces, rubs, injections, marinades, and fuels. I asked Tom to share a bit more about what new services and products ATBBQ will be offering to customers now that he’s on staff:

“I do a lot of the legwork for our cooking classes; creating and testing recipes, planning menus, shopping and prepping for the classes. I’m also documenting a lot of this recipe creation/experimentation and building content for our All Things BBQ blog, The Sauce. As we move into our new kitchen this month, which is attached to our retail store, I will be able to cook for and talk to our customers on the weekends, and show them what they can create and produce at home with the products we carry in our store. As well as a new teaching kitchen, we are adding an outdoor kitchen and patio, where we can use the grills and smokers we sell in the store and further interact with our customers.” – Tom Jackson

Q1) Describe your process for developing a new recipe?

The internet is an amazing resource for inspiration. I often find myself browsing food blogs, like your friend Ali’s “Gimme Some Oven,” and something will strike me, or send me in a certain direction; be it an ingredient, a combination of elements or a specific technique. From there it’s just using what you know about food and cooking technique, trusting your instincts, and experimenting. Sometimes it’s a disaster. Sometimes it’s a home run.  Some other blogs I enjoy are Homesick Texan, What Katie Ate, and the Saveur website. I really believe creativity births creativity, and other folks’ art is sometimes just what you need to spark a new idea.

Q2) List a few factors that played a key roll in the growth and development of where you are today?

Years ago my wife and I shared a one hundred year old home in Grand Rapids, MI with four of my best friends and bandmates. That old house was so cold in the winter that we hung blankets from the doorways and used space heaters to heat small areas. I began baking pizzas and breads from scratch, in part for something to do while home from touring, but also to heat that freezing house. When the band called it a day, I needed to pick a new direction, and cooking and baking seemed to be calling my name. Kristy and I headed to the Pacific NW, so I could attend culinary school. I owe a lot of my growth and passion for food to my time in Portland, OR. I was blessed to spend time at Oregon Culinary Institute and study the technique and creativity of some very wise chef instructors. My fellow classmates became a network of friends and cooks who are so creative and ambitious that it pushed me to want more for myself. I learned a great deal working under a few guys at Ken’s Artisan Bakery, as well. That place really shaped my desire to put out the best product I can, and always put my best foot forward.

Q3) What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts?

Get in the kitchen, and get out of your comfort zone. Learn from others, whether it’s in school or on a line. It’s all about putting in time and effort and stretching yourself.

Q4) How do you balance working a lot of evenings and weekends while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?

This question may not suit my new life well. The beautiful thing about my new gig with ATBBQ is that, for the most part, I don’t have to sacrifice family time for work. This is the first time in about six years that I’m working a “normal” schedule. The toughest part about kitchen life is probably the hours. I’m feeling pretty good about this new schedule, as are Kristy and Thatcher.

Q5) Between you and your wife who does most of the cooking at home? Who does the dishes?

I do most of the cooking, and we both do dishes. She does more than her share of work in our home, and I’d never complain. I’m a lucky man!

Q6) What is your favorite grilling gadget/utensil, why do you like it, and where do you get it?! 

ThermaPen. It’s a quick read thermometer for your meats. It’s probably the easiest way to improve your cooking. Hitting the right temperature on any type of meat will instantly make it better. Plus they look pretty sweet. They come in a variety of colors.

Q7) List 3-5 of your favorite family-friendly food related hangouts? 

In Portland, a couple of our favorite family friendly places were Fat City Cafe in Multnomah Village and Lucky Labrador Brew Pub in Northwest Portland. Fat City does straight up diner food. It’s all comfort, and all about the fam! The Lucky Lab has killer beers that you can’t buy anywhere else, and great pizza. And my son LOVES pizza, just like his old man. Here in Wichita, we’ve been hanging out at Wichita Brewing Company. Good pizza and beer. Also, The Monarch in Delano. Great from-scratch food, good drink selection, and pretty family friendly during the day.

Q8) What is your #1 guilty pleasure food?!

I don’t know how guilty I feel about it, but I have a hard time turning down a slice of pizza, ha! I guess that’s just pleasure food…

If you are near Wichita, KS look for Tom at Amber Waves, Friday, May 16, 2014. It’s a beer walk and tasting tour through the Delano District. All proceeds go to support Starkey Inc. and ATBBQ will be cooking on the patio while folks enjoy the beer tasting and live music. I’m also really excited about their weekend grilling classes and think they would make a great Father’s Day gift, or fun groom gift for the future! ;)

Thanks Tom and Kristy for letting us into your life a bit and hearing more of your story and about how you got to where you are today. We’re very excited for you guys and glad you are back in the Midwest! ;)

Keep up with Tom and All Things BBQ by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

From The Farm

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CNY: Tim & Kara [Kara Paslay Designs]


This week we are super stoked to be sharing with you another talented and fun loving couple! Not only are they practically our neighbors, living in Tulsa, but they are one super cute and powerful team that truly enjoy working together. In fact, you might have seen some of their fun projects in magazines, blogs, and even TV with their easy DIY’s and functional decor affordable for any budget!

Meet Tim and Kara Paslay with Kara Paslay Designs:

“We do a lot of different creative jobs, all which fall under our business “Kara Paslay Designs.”  It is a full time, all consuming business and we love it.  Basically, we will take on any job that involves creative design.  We do or have done interior design for residential homes, retail design for Anthropologie and other Tulsa boutiques, window displays, we write a daily blog, we host DIY classes, we serve as art directors/set decorators for commercial, TV shows, & movies, and we are in the process of developing our own design TV show! :) Basically we love creating and will take every opportunity to do so!”- Kara Paslay

Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting Kara Paslay Design?

A1) Kara- Growing up I promised myself that no matter what I ended up doing that I would love it. I refused to work at a job that I dreaded every day. There was a problem though- my college days were focused on playing basketball. Around my junior year, I realized that I wanted to do interior design after my basketball days were over, but my college didn’t offer the major. So, I went about the rest of my college days trying to squeeze in furniture redo projects and small things I could take on in my apartment. After college Tim and I bought a home. Tim took a job at a construction company to learn the basics of construction/building so that we could apply that knowledge to our home and one day our business. Meanwhile I worked at home honing different skills- designing and redesigning rooms to create a portfolio for myself. We looked at our home as a hands on learning university where we could get the education that we needed to eventually start our own business.

Tim- I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do out of college, but I knew I needed to try things to figure out what I did and didn’t like. I took on the responsibility of bread winning while Kara was getting established and now the rolls have reversed a little bit. I still pitch in, but with a better understanding of what I enjoy doing, I am working on some projects that aren’t necessarily making money yet, but will one day be an enjoyable (and hopefully profitable) business of my own.

Read More…

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CNY: Tim & Erin [Pippin + Pearl & CooperHouse]


Ever since I met Erin, a few years back, I have been inspired by the way she balances her full-time mom and creative career. Erin’s resume includes a wide list of experiences as a handmade shop owner, an artist, a blogger; Pippin + Pearl, and last but certainly not least she also runs a design studio with her husband Tim; CooperHouse.

“We’re a two man (or man/woman, if you prefer) creative studio that specializes in web development and branding for creative businesses. We’re learning that there is a creative side to almost every business and we definitely don’t discriminate, however most of our clients are designers, artists, bloggers, interior design industry etc. I handle all the art direction/design/project management and Tim handles all the development/accounts/hosting/maintenance.”

Together, from the comfort of their home, they take on clients from all sizes and still maintain time with their two daughters, date lunches, and vacations to see family on the West Coast.

Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting your own business?

A1) Tim was the first to strike out on his own. when the agency he was working for in Colorado closed its doors 8 years ago, he felt it would be a good time to try his hand at freelance web development. He worked on his own for a few years before luring me away from my design job to be his partner. I was inspired by his vision, but was also just really craving some independence after spending 8 years working in the Air Force design department. We both have always wanted autonomy in our careers and the freedom to work from anywhere, so that is the main reason we started CooperHouse.

Q2) How are your personalities alike and how they are different?

A2) We are both creative types. I’m a painter, he’s a sculptor & musician, so I think we understand each other very well on that level especially. I’ve never worked with anyone who is as respectful as he is of my creative process and the effort that I put into my design. I spent years learning Web design and so I also have an appreciation for his abilities. I know that this company needs both of our skills and talents in order to function well. Also, I think our personalities started out as more opposite and have grown to be a little more similar. I’ve mellowed a bit, and he’s become more social. I think our strengths are helpful in our business… Good Cop vs. Bad Cop and all that. ;)

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Creatives Near You: Ryan & Chelsea [Lovely Indeed]


I first met Ryan and Chelsea this past January at a special dinner prepared for ALT Summit attendees. They arrived all sleek in their New York attire and to be honest it made me wish that Cale could have attended the conference with me. It’s always amazing to me to see other couples who work together creatively. I love hearing their process and how they balance work and life.

When Ryan and Chelsea first met, they were both full-time actors; actually they were doing a national tour of a show. Since then, Ryan has mostly left the acting business and started his own web design company, called Roundhouse Designs. He specializes in designing websites for actors and creatives while Chelsea has continued acting and has added blogging to her plate. Together they take on DIY projects, designing and re-designing Chelsea’s DIY blog; Lovely Indeed, auditions, and all that a New York City life has to offer!

Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting your blog Lovely Indeed?

A1) When Ryan proposed, I knew that I wanted our wedding to be very DIY, so I started reading DIY and wedding blogs regularly. After a while, I realized that I had a lot to share, especially while planning our wedding, so I put together a blog of my own. We documented all of our wedding projects and planning stages. I’m so grateful for it now; it’s almost like looking at a scrapbook of our engagement. I’m still so surprised and grateful at how it’s taken off – even though our wedding has passed, the blog has grown and transitioned into something that I hope is long-lasting.

Q2) What about your lifestyle inspires your work or makes it better?

A2) We’ve been so blessed during our time in NYC. While Ryan was still acting, we had the opportunity to work together on two U.S. tours, and to work together on a job in China. That kind of travel is so inspiring and eye-opening. In each new place, we’d be sure to try new foods, hunt down local shops, and go on photo tours. Those are memories that we both absolutely treasure, and seeing so much of the world together has exposed us to so many beautiful, inspiring things.

Q3) It seems you and Ryan work very closely together. How do you balance a healthy home while running a blog, graphic design clients, auditions, shows, etc.?

A3) For us, everything sort of runs together. One day may be filled with three auditions plus two client meetings and seeing a show in the evening; the next day might be staying home to get the laundry finished before we go to a rehearsal for something. To be honest, we know that it’s not necessarily something that’s a long-term lifestyle; but in the theater world, you have to somewhat roll with the punches and fit the puzzle pieces together however they will fit! And while we’re living in the city, we’re trying to soak up as much of it as we can.

Q4) In your opinion, define what makes a great DIY Project?

A4) To me, photos are key. If the project is attainable and the photos are quality, there are times when you almost don’t need instructions. I think that it’s easy to want to push through a project without taking the time to make sure the photos are beautiful and descriptive; but the truth is that much of the blog world is image-driven, and people want to see beautiful things – even if it’s a DIY tutorial.

Q5) What advice do you have for others interested in starting a DIY blog?

A5) Be ready to invest the time to make it great! DIY blogging is extremely time consuming once you add everything up – you have to conceive the project, shop for materials, do the project (do it again if you mess it up), photo it, edit photos, and put the post together. And that’s just one project. So you’ve got to be ready to work. But on the flip side, it’s so rewarding to share ideas with people and see your work making the world a little more beautiful!


Q6) If you could co-star with your husband in any show what would that be? Why?

I’d probably go with us playing Robert and Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone (even though I’m so wrong for that role!). The show is kind of old-school, and Ryan comes from an old Vaudeville family, so he’d be hysterical in it. That, plus I’d get to wear lots of sequins!

Q7) What is the DIY project you are the most proud AND the one you will NEVER do again? Why?

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Creatives Near You: Allison [Barta Bailey Retail Consulting]


For the last few years we’ve crossed paths with Allison Bailey as we’ve dropped off product at Shop Good and other places around OKC. As a retail consultant we’ve seen first hand some of the projects and shops she’s been involved with and we can honestly say that she’s been an intricate part in planning some of the biggest community centered events for the local districts around town. If Allison is not the brains behind the operation and organizing the entire event, you’ll also find her volunteering her time when it’s something she truly believes in.

What I love about Allison’s perspective is that she’s not just a girl who likes to “shop” (don’t let those blonde curly cues fool you) but everything she does is smart and strategic. Her passion is to truly support local retail shops by helping them establish a shop philosophy that they can continue to grow from and create a shopping community like culture that customers want to be a part of again and again. What originally started as a love for supporting local retail in the form of the blog Shopcrawlr has now become Allison Barta Bailey a full fledged retail consultant business for independent shops and districts.

Q1) How does one become a retail consultant?

A1) Honestly, I’ve only met one other retail consultant that works with independent retailers. We both took different routes to our careers. She started as a shop owner. Although I did work retail, I started from a completely different angle. I began recruiting shops to my start-up website, and gradually transitioned into managing marketing efforts, events and promotions for some of the shops that I became familiar with.

After consulting on weekends and evenings while I worked a corporate job, I had a revelation and decided to quit my full time job and jump into consulting for small shops full time. That was over two years ago and I still get excited thinking about that moment.

Q2) When a potential customer walks into a store what are the three key elements that can make or break their purchase?

  1. Environment: Does a customer feel welcome in the shop space? Is a shop owner friendly without acting like a salesperson? Candles, music, wall color, walkway space… all add to the initial perception. For example, Black Optical (in the image featured above) pays close attention to detail and makes it easy for a customer to feel comfortable trying on dozens of pairs of glasses.
  2. Product Rhythm: Product arrangement, how do the products’ prices and purposes translate to a customer’s path through the shop? How is the shop philosophy shared?
  3. Although this actually occurs before they enter the shop… Availability: Is your shop open when customers want to shop? If you aren’t open, does your window indicate the next time that you will be open?

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High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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