what's in my bag: kari

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1. Notebook(s). I need them for everything. Doodles. Notes. You name it. 2. I’ve always got snacks on hand. 3. Give me all of the washi tape! 4. Lipsticks! A fave. 5. You’ll never see me without a water bottle. Not pictured: my computer(s), Tandem business cards, two more lipsticks and my headphones.

I always, always have a water bottle in my bag. Hydration is so important when it comes to feeling your best. (Can someone point me to the bathroom?) Same goes for lipstick. I’ll swipe some on before meeting with a client and it takes my look from blah to #babestatus.

Quality pens and paper are must-haves for me. You never know when you’ll want to sketch or doodle or take notes. Katrina and I always argue about what coffee shop to go to but I didn’t earn my Starbucks gold card by frequenting the competition. Ha! Regardless of what’s inside, I usually always have a backpack/bag/purse with me. Where else am I going to store all my items?! 


what's in my bag: katrina

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1. Deodorant, because you never know. 2. Rode SmartLav+, so I can get good audio on the go. 3. I LOVE notebooks. This one is from Thailand and about 15 years old. 4. Two (?) sets of earbuds so I can listen to depressing hipster music without bothering Kari. 5. Necessary! My hands get SO cold. Not pictured: my water bottle, phone and the pile of receipts/paper scraps/gum wrappers that are usually swimming around in the bottom of my bag.

Besides my power cord, I can’t live without a quality pen nearby at all times. I like UniBall and InkJoy. And a good lipstick. Honestly, I’m surprised there’s only one in there. It makes me feel put together, even when my life totally isn’t.

I’m notorious for not using a purse/bag at all. I’ll stuff my phone in my pocket and then juggle a billion things in my hands. It drives Kari nuts. But I need to get better at it, because I’m often working from a coffee shop or library, and my bag is my office.

Often, my bag is as eclectic as my life. Sometimes there’ll be a diaper in there, or a library book, or just this morning, a fresh banana muffin. I rarely have snacks in there though, which is something that needs to change!

here's to you, ladies...

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A special shoutout to our fellow female business owners, entrepreneurs, adventurers and cube dwellers today and the rest of Women History Month! What kind of mood are you in right now? Motivated? Dejected? Surrounded by business pals? Feeling like you are in this thing all alone?

However you find yourself today, we’re glad for you and the work you do. The world we live in is brighter and more vibrant because of it. Keep putting your smart and thoughtful works out there. We need them.

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In the spirit of womanhood, a few fun links from around the web:

2019’s Best & Worst States for Women. Where do you live?

We don’t know about you, but we want to dream crazier.

If things feel off-course, you need to listen to this.

A collection of beauty that inspires.

Just the right color to brighten your work day.

Giving back.

Wishing we could check out this collection.

A badass woman.

Fall Special - Business 101 Package Deal!

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The air is starting to feel a little more crisp while the sun is setting earlier and earlier. You know what that means...fall is coming! 

Fall is a good time to take a look at your brand and give it a little love. To help you do that with ease, we're rolling out the Business 101 Package. For new clients, $750* gets you a new logo, business cards and social media posts to brag about your updated look and feel. Hurry up and snag this deal, because it's only here until October 31st, 2018!

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What are you waiting for?! And, if you're feeling extra ambitious, add on some new slide decks, letterhead, postcards or brochures to round out your new brand.

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*For all of the details on what's included, click HERE.

Book Learnin'

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There’s just something about September that has us feeling like we should be heading back into the classroom after a long, hot summer. Maybe it’s that stores are peddling school supplies again, or that our normal commute is full of school buses and kids walking to school, but whatever it is, it’s got us in the mood to pull out our #2 pencils and get down with some book learnin’. We’re always on the hunt for books that will help us hone in on both our business and creative knowledge base. Below are several we’ve got our eyes on:

1. Building A Storybrand, Donald Miller

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For any business, it takes time to really hone in on the “who” and “why” of the company. We often work with clients who are still asking themselves these questions: Why would someone be compelled to buy my product? How do I stand out from the crowd? How do I effectively promote myself on my website and social media? Miller tackles this and more in his book, as he helps guide readers in finding the unique value that they bring to their customers.

2. Crafter’s Market, edited by Abby Glassenberg

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Whether you have a physical product you want to sell in a storefront or if you’d rather find your home in the digital marketplace, this book is chock full of resources for running a successful craft business. We love this book as a resource for craft shows (inspiration/networking), online communities, and tips and tricks for working with customers and managing the behind-the-scenes aspects of small business life.

3. How Women Rise, Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith

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Women are doing more with their careers than they ever have before, but old habits can die hard when it comes to women in the workplace. This book helps shed light on the patterns that may be holding us back from our successes. A recommended book not only for the ladies, but also for the men who work alongside them.

4. Business Model Generation & Business Model You, Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

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So maybe you have a business, but you need to get organized, and the way you’ve been doing it hasn’t worked for you in the past. Or hey, maybe it’s time to wrap your brain around how to make a change in your career. Both books help you get creative in your brainstorming, and leave you with an actionable game plan on a single sheet of paper. We love the hands-on approach in these books, and the illustrations and worksheets don’t hurt either (cred: Alan Smith).

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5. The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall

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Whether we realize it or not, we are all drawn in by stories. It’s what compels us to resonate with someone, buy a product, donate to charity, or pursue a new life path. This book celebrates the ways that storytelling makes us more human and connects us to each other. As videographers and designers here at Tandem, we know that our work would be dull and lifeless if we weren’t sharing the real heart and stories of our clients. A definite must for musicians, photographers, designers, filmmakers, writers, marketers and the like!

(Photos: Amazon)

Summer Lovin' Freebies!

What could be a better way to enter into summer fun than with a new computer or phone wallpaper! We created a few you can use that were inspired by a pineapple themed party invitation suite we created. Download them, then unplug and get out to the pool, with a cocktail in hand of course! 


Beach Don't Kill My Vibe Wallpaper

Summer Sweetness Wallpaper

Palm Tree Wallpaper

Lockscreen Wallpapers

Our Fave Organization & Productivity Tools

The beginning of the year always has us trying to find ways to be more productive, organized and efficient with our time. Here are a couple of our favorite tools to do that. How about you?

Google Excel Sheets

We use Google Suite all. the. dang. time. Being able to work on the same document is super convenient, and it’s nice for both of us to be able make changes on a project in real time.

But more than any of Google’s other awesome features, Google Sheets is our #1 when it comes to tracking a n y t h i n g. Seriously….anything. We’ve got spreadsheets for our clients, our social media calendar, income, expenses, pricing guides, to-dos, “dream big” projects and well, you get the idea.

Here’s a peek at our blog post spreadsheet. A brainstorming session a while back gave us a bunch of ideas for future posts, so we’ve captured them here, where we can track what we’ve done and what we want to post in the future.

Bonus: We love this little feature in our Gmail account:

By utilizing the promo and social tabs, it lets us focus on our clients in the main inbox without being overwhelmed by all of the clutter. Yay!

Dropbox Mobile

Not only is Dropbox super nifty for sharing projects with clients or between us (in fact, you probably already have one), but it has a nice little mobile app that helps us do our work more efficiently. For example, we like to save our created social media images on Dropbox. Then, when we’re ready to post something to our Instagram, for example, it’s as simple as a couple of clicks.

Presto!

Evernote

I (Katrina) use the Evernote app all the time. I like that I can have it on my desktop AND on my phone, so wherever I am, I can jot down interesting ideas, lists, quotes, etc. I’ll use this app to keep track of personal tasks, but I’ll also use it for taking notes during a client meeting or taking a photo of something I want to remember for a project later.

The checklist is a nice feature, as are the notebooks (which help me keep different parts of my life separate). You can also share lists with friends!

So, if you’re like me and constantly writing things down on scraps of paper, this is the app for you.

Trello

This is how we stay on top of our current projects. We have a board for general Tandem tasks (marketing plan, renewing subscriptions, connecting with future clients, etc.) and a separate board for each client we’re working with.

Here’s how we arrange our boards:

At a glance we can see what we need to be working on next, what we’re waiting on, etc. Within each task, we can create checklists if there are smaller tasks within the bigger task to complete. We can also write notes back and forth to each other so we know what the other person is working on.

Once we’ve finished with a client, we can archive the board, cash our check and high-five each other for another project completed!

StayFocusd Extension

Nothing’s a bigger work killer than the internet, amiright?! This extension can be added to your browser and allows you to set a time limit on certain websites (Facebook, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Zappos, Anthro, etc.) or block certain sites altogether. If you go over your set time limit for any website, it will be blocked for the rest of the day. Say “see ya later” to endless scrolling on Facebook. Boom.

Brainstorm Like A Boss

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Business and brainstorming go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t matter if you design greeting cards or work in a science lab, because sooner or later you’ll be tasked with coming up with a fresh, new idea for a product, logo, program, activity, etc.

Here’s how we tackle this in our own business, and we hope you can use these tips in your work too.

  1. Purpose, Baby - Before you do anything else, have a specific and manageable purpose in mind. Are you brainstorming a new name for your product? Thinking of three new marketing campaigns you want to roll out it 2017? The clearer and more concise your purpose, the easier it is to stay on task when the ideas start running amuck.

  2. Diversify the Guest List - As much fun as it is to be in a room full of people who have the same interests and passions as you (80s movies + crafting, anyone?), it’s important to invite team members who will come to the table with a different angle, whether it be age, gender, lifestyle, work experience, etc.

  3. Heads Up, Buttercup - Don’t spring a brainstorm meeting on your team 10 minutes before it’s happening. Give enough time to let the ideas percolate. You never know where they’ll show up - on a walk, at the water cooler, in the shower.

  4. Use A Timer - Your baking skills may be sub-par, but you can still put that egg timer to good use. Set the timer for an hour and let the ideas run wild. A set time frame will create a sense of urgency and will help your team avoid burnout from brainstorming for too long.

  5. Put It On Paper - Hand a team member the Sharpies and have them capture the ideas on paper. Sometimes ideas get lost in the air, and this way you’ll be able to have a visual representation of everything your crew has talked about.

  6. Don’t Kibosh Bad Ideas - We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating, don’t slam on the brakes on a bad idea. Why? Three reasons:

    1. Shutting down a bad idea could shut down a team member from participating further in the conversation.

    2. Getting bad ideas out there means they’re not clogging up brain space.

    3. A bad idea might actually hold a few nuggets of awesomeness that could be combined with something else to make a really great idea. See #8.

  7. Let It Flow, Let It Flow - Your creativity that is. Don’t be afraid to let your team doodle, create mood boards or do a little word association to loosen the mind. A picture or a word has the power to take your team in a whole new direction.

  8. Franken-idea - Don’t be afraid to pick out the parts you love from various ideas and mash them into one majestic beast.

  9. The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here - Now that the hard work is done, don’t just let your good ideas languish in the dark. Follow-up here is the key to success. Set some concrete next steps - a meeting to flesh out 2 or 3 of the best ideas, a call to a designer about your new logo concept, an email to a photographer to capture your hilarious Christmas card idea.

Now go ahead and wash, rinse, repeat. Let’s get some amazing things out into the world, people!

#FunFridayFinds

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A few finds from the good ol' internet as we ease our way into the weekend.

1. Halloween Costumes for Designers - the Notorious RGB costume is calling our names!

2. Messy Desk, Don't Care - Turns out messy spaces DO bring out the creative best in us.

3. 10 Perspectives To Get You Moving Creatively - love #8.

4. Perry Smith shares how brokenness made him a better photographer in this Creative Mornings talk. 

5. If you're local: A Mpls Food Truck Finder so you can join us on our quest for the perfect #fallfridayfoodtruck

6. Not too late to join the month-long drawing challenge that is Inktober. (Or to creep on the hashtags like we are: #inktober #inktober2016)

Happy weekending!

3 Tips to Making Your Clients Feel Comfortable in Front of the Camera

We've all been there, the location has been picked, the camera battery is charged, the lighting is superb, the stars have all aligned for the perfect shoot and then, the client gets in front of the camera and freezes up. Their smiles are unnatural. All their limbs protrude in awkward and uncomfortable ways. And now the hardest part of your job is upon you, to make them relax and get comfortable so you can get the money shot.

There are a lot of reasons why people get uncomfortable in front of the camera. They range from things like feeling self conscious about their weight or that blemish on their forehead to never having been part of a professional shoot and not knowing how to pose. While not every client will feel 100% comfortable by the end of your shoot, there are a few things you can do to put them more at ease thus making it possible to get those perfect shots.

1. Keep them engaged in conversation.

Before the shoot get to know them a little bit. Ask them questions about themselves and find out more of who they are and what they like to do. Tell them more about who you are and what makes you tick. Find places of commonality and bond over them. Talk about everything except the shoot. This will help shake off the nerves they undoubtedly came with. Continue the conversation throughout the shoot. If they are thinking about their favorite Super Bowl commercial they won't be so focused on feeling uncomfortable. 

2. Make sure to keep them moving.

Giving your clients something to do will take their focus off the camera and may even help them forget you are there for a moment, which gives you the opportunity to capture natural smiles and interactions. Playing on the swings, straightening a suit jacket, or giving dad a high five will all help bring natural movement into your photos and can relax your client.  It's also a good idea to keep the shoot moving by not spending too long in one location. This doesn't mean you have to drive all the way across town, simply walking to a new area of the park or around the side of the building changes things up. 

3. Give them a quick posing "tutorial" before you get started and then continue to guide them throughout the session.

People become really self conscious when it comes to things like what to do with their hands or their feet. Taking a couple minutes before you get started to show them the basics of posing can be really helpful. While you're practicing, take a couple shots to show them how great they look. As you get started, continue to guide them by telling them where to place their hands, how to position their feet, and where to look. It can also be helpful to actually demonstrate the pose for them if they are having difficulty with it. 

 

Little things like the three listed above go a long way in helping you to capture that perfect shot. 

Celebrate!

Throw the confetti, sprinkle the glitter, blast the Pitch Perfect soundtrack all day because...it’s our birthday month!!!!

Yep. We’re officially one year old. (Well, Tandem is.)

It certainly hasn’t been a year of roses, sunshine and walks in the park, but it’s been an oh-so-good and challenging year of learning who we are as Tandem Creative, and who we want to be moving forward.

We’ve learned that owning a creative business doesn’t necessarily mean you get to play with watercolors all day. It also means figuring out invoicing and scheduling meetings. Some days have felt overwhelming, and some days have felt exhilarating.

There have been projects that we’ve done well, but realized it really wasn’t something we wanted to offer in the future. There have been other projects that we’ve loved and can’t wait to do more of. We’ve realized the importance of dividing and conquering tasks, and how to walk the line of friendship and business partnership.

Looking ahead, we can’t wait to establish good rhythms in our work, tighten up our personal branding and the services we’re offering, take on new challenges that expand our skill sets and schedule regular happy hours with other creative minds.

This is just the beginning of our big dream…..

….cheers to year ONE!

 

House Rules

Every start-up has to navigate how they are going to approach their work. Who will take the lead on certain projects? What hours do they work? Is wearing pajamas okay?

Over the last year, we’ve had to ask ourselves these same questions. Here’s a couple of our own “house rules”:

  1. Weekend Cut-Off - We do our very best to finish up our work by Friday so that weekends are “our” time. We’re sign off our email and social media, so that when we come back on Monday, we’re refreshed and ready to tackle our work with renewed vigor.

  2. Happy Hour can’t start til 3 pm on Friday. (For real though, sometimes it’s a struggle.)

  3. We were friends first and business partners second. So, if we’re hanging out as friends, we don’t talk shop. Sure, we might need to discuss our work schedule for a minute or two, but intentionally focusing on our friendship helps us maintain a balanced relationship.

  4. Always stop for lunch. We like to take a break everyday to step away from the computers, reset the day, touch base with each other, and if we’re being totally honest, watch an episode or two of New Girl.

  5. We understand that we always want the best for and from each other. Whatever the current project may be, we’ll routinely give positive feedback. It’s not about criticism, but rather about asking further questions and pushing each other create our best work.

What should we add to our list?

And for the record, we’ve nixed pajamas as appropriate work attire.

In Our (Virtual) Backpacks

It’s been a long time since we were filling our Lisa Frank backpacks with glitter crayons and construction paper in preparation for going back to school. Things have changed a bit since then, but one thing still remains - we love to learn! We’re doing less long division now, and more reading, and these are just a few of the books we’re dying to read. 

Creative Confidence - David & Tom Kelley

The Kelley brothers combine their vast knowledge in innovation, design, and creativity to help readers tap into their max potential, whether they work in a “creative” field or not. We’ll be taking notes on what they have to say about productivity and creative problem solving.

Creativity, Inc. - Ed Catmull

Ok, we’re really excited to read this one. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, tackles the topics of originality, communication, creative culture and taking risks within the setting of one of the best animation studios in the world. 

The Art of Non-Conformity - Chris Guillebeau

This book has been out for a while, but is still on our “to-read” pile. Chris writes about embracing a counter-cultural life, whether in work, travel, or goal-setting. Unsatisfied with a status quo life, he sought a change and hopes you’ll follow. 

The Fringe Hours - Jessica Turner

We’re all looking for more hours in the day - for work, for friends, for creative projects. In her book, Jessica shares how she made the most of the “fringe hours” in her own life to pursue the things she was truly passionate about (like writing her book!). 

Personality Not Included - Rohit Bhargava

We love the brands we do because of their unique voice. Not only is this book a good reminder for us to stay true to our own fun and quirky personality, but also a helpful reminder when working with clients who are still trying to capture that voice.

Worth Every Penny - Erin Verbeck

This book gets into the nitty-gritty of pricing your work well, building lasting relationships with clients and continuously putting out top-notch work. A must for any small business!

There’s our summer reading list. How about you? Any great career/creative work book recommendations?

On Mentorship...

A year ago I spotted an adorable clay mug in a Fort Collins boutique. Shocked at the price tag, I decided to take a pottery class and make my own. I showed up for the first day of class and rolled my eyes as the instructor, Steve, meticulously spent the first hour teaching us how to roll out even slabs of clay and seal joints together properly.

"Let's get on to the wheel throwing," I thought impatiently. After all, I was here to make a mug that would soon be filled with cozy beverages sipped by a warm fire (never mind that I don't even have a fireplace). 

Next week's class, Steve shepherded us over to the wheel where he walked us through centering the clay, positioning our fingers correctly, and building up the sides of our pieces. I only half-listened, eagerly smushing my off-kilter ball of clay into an even more off-kilter vase/bowl/alien monstrosity. My clay flew off the wheel in a frustrated lump.

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Again I tried, again I ignored the instructor, again I made something unrecognizable to the naked eye. Steve attempted to reiterate the finer points of his earlier lecture, but I was convinced that I knew best and that my pottery techniques would work just as well as his.

Weeks later, at the end of class, I left with several small bowls, some art pieces, a plaque, but no mug. It was starting to look like I'd be drinking cozy beverages from a mason jar after all. 

I learned from that experience that it's okay to admit that you're not the best and that you really don't have all the answers. I could have humbled myself and learned how to throw a mug the right way, but I wanted to try it on my own and it didn't work out.

I'm a big proponent for learning from your blundering mistakes but I'm also an advocate for learning from mentors and experts that have put their time into their work. At Tandem, we design and film in a way that makes sense for us, but we're always learning new tips and tricks that make our work better, more cohesive and more effective.

So...don't be afraid to admit that even though you know a lot, you still don't know everything and it's okay to reach out and ask for help throwing that mug. 

Client Spotlight: The Center for Spiritual Formation

The Center for Spiritual Formation offers retreats, workshops and resources that support the spiritual growth of attendees at a local Minnesota church. The Center's two-year program offers space to learn and grow, to retreat and rest, and to be challenged to live more fully. 

We created this promo video to highlight the ways that this program has benefitted and challenged current participants and to encourage new participants to sign up for the next session of the program.