Jun 22 2017

Local Business Spotlight: Tori Tissell

Tori Tissell, founding owner of Storiarts, maker of literary soft goods, has the kind of internet success story that entrepreneurial dreams are made of.

It started with a personal project. For holiday gifts in 2011, Tori created her first run of book scarves — an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice silkscreened onto a square of super soft, off-white (think the pages of a classic book) fabric. She gave most as gifts and listed a few for sale on Etsy.

Tori in her home workshop cutting material for a scarf.
Tori Tissell cutting out some Alice in Wonderland in her workshop.

Tori had been living in Portland since 2008, when she moved here in pursuit of a career in fashion design. She was working four days a week at an office job in the dental field, and worked on her creative projects with her time off. The book scarves were the first item she’d put up for sale on the peer-to-peer e-commerce site, which focuses on handmade and vintage items.

As a fashion accessory, the scarves were a perfect statement for Tori and some of her friends. One of the things that she likes about designing wearables, in addition to the utilitarian aspect, is that “no matter what, what [a person wears] expresses aspects of one’s personality.” A self-identified bibliophile and introvert, Tori liked that she could spark connection over one of her favorite things though her apparel choices, and keep her neck warm in our cool PNW winters, too.

Screen printing a scarf with Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.
Screen printing a scarf with Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.

The Pride and Prejudice scarves sold quickly on Etsy, and Tori received many requests for more. The scarf got shared on Pintrest as well, further boosting interest. After three months, Tori was able to leave her office job and make scarves full-time.

Rising Action

Since 2011, Storiarts has expanded their catalog to celebrate more than 27 titles on scarves, fingerless writing gloves, t-shirts, pillows, and baby hats. Staying rooted in the Pacific Northwest is a key value in the company, and most of their products are printed, cut, sewn, warehoused, and shipped in Oregon, with some milling and cutting happening in LA. All of their products are handmade in the US, even though production has scaled up quite a bit since Tori made everything by hand in her garage. Now that the manufacturing is off her plate, Tori can focus on design of new products, as well as drawing all of the illustrations for their scarves, writing gloves, and t-shirts.

Though Storiarts was born through e-commerce sales and continues to sell through several online retailers, it wasn’t long before they expanded into sales at brick-and-mortar stores. The Library of Congress shop was the first to approach Tori about carrying book scarves, and today you find them in the New York Public Library as well, along with dozens of other libraries and boutiques across the US, and in Australia and New Zealand. 

To Be Continued…

Woman reading a book outside a coffee shop.
Amber modeling a lightweight summer scarf outside of our neighborhood coffee shop.

Upswept Creative does much of the marketing photography for Storiarts, from clean product shots to lifestyle photography like this one featuring Amber Nicotra, wearing a new scarf from their Spring 2017 collection. 

We love working with Tori and her co-owner and husband, Chris. Their company embodies so much of what we value in working with independent businesses — from their commitment to keeping it local, to the thoughtfully-crafted, pleasantly nerdy products they sell.

What’s your next creative venture? Let’s talk about discovering your authentic and compelling brand story that will help you connect with your ideal audience. The first step to schedule a free clarifying consultation is clicking ➡︎ here. ⬅︎


Jun 08 2017

Social Media Management 102

A few weeks ago, we talked about some basics of social media marketing. In that post, I went over how to set goals, decide which platforms to use, and urged you to stick to the plan. Now I’d like to get into another aspect of social media marketing that’s just as important… what the heck do you put out there on social media!?

SET YOUR TONE

It’s part of our brand to be a little cute and cheeky, so I’ll often make fun posts like this one.

Deciding on the tone you’d like your social media presence to embody is a fundamental aspect of any online strategy. It’s also one of the most difficult things to nail down. Tone comes across through word choice in your posts and profiles, the actual content of your posts, and how you engage with followers, comments, and private messages.

While the voice you use on social media should be similar to the tone of your website, it shouldn’t be a carbon copy. Social media is social after all. Find a voice that encourages engagement, whether that’s a “like”, comment, or click-through to your website.

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000… LIKES

Across all social media platforms, posts with pictures get the most attention by far. This blog did an informal study that showed tweets with images garnered 89% more favorites than tweets without images. But you shouldn’t just attach random images. If you can, create or commision your own visual content by taking product pictures, crafting digital graphics, or snapping some thoughtful photos while at a work-relevant event. When using images created by a third party, make sure you have permission!

Giving a peek into the behind the scenes of your business can be very engaging. This is a shot Sarah snapped during a recent photo shoot.

 

The benefit of having in-house visual content is that you can make sure it’s all on brand. It will naturally feel a part of your overall brand identity.

GET THAT GOAL

Social media platforms are fantastic for bringing your brand’s tone and personality to the fore, and getting your name out to a lot of people. They aren’t so great as a place for information dumps, or straight-up advertisements — those fit better on a company website, and something people will be more prone to absorb if they’re already interested. Cast a wide net with your social media presence. Strike a tone that’s personal, use visual content that’s on brand and engaging, and craft content that makes people want to click that link to your website, ticket sale, or product page.

I like to think of a social media presence like a digital storefront, and the overall strategy as the decorations and window displays. The goal is to get as many people in the store (onto your website, online store, etc…) as possible. Once they’re inside, it’s much more likely that you’ll make that sale!

 

At Upswept Creative, we’re a one-stop-shop for branding, web design, and social media marketing. You can get all the elements you need for a successful online presence from our small-but-fierce firm. Check out our variety of service offerings, designed to meet the needs of business owners at different price points. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!


Sep 26 2016

Building a Nest for a Happy Brand

When we first met with Emily of Happy Nest, she had a busy day-to-day of running her professional organizing business and caring for her young children. She had the start of an online presence, but her brand didn’t feel like a good fit. “It’s just… not awesome,” she told us. So, we made a plan to turn her disappointment into excitement, and rebuilt her brand from the ground up.

Photography: a view into a brand

Professional Headshots Portland
Professional headshot of Owner, Emily (hair/makeup: Jessica Belknap)

Our photography session was a great opportunity to get to know her work and what drives her. When I moved through the spaces she’d organized, I could quickly see how her organizing work could make an entire lifestyle more orderly. And, as a mother of three (including twins!), she clearly had to be smart and creative with her solutions to keep her own life running smoothly.

Emily’s work is about creating balance and ease, rather than rigid rules. So, “helping you create a more calm and peaceful nest,” was a great way to capture that ease and show that her solutions are designed to fit your life.

Logo Design: making a nest modern

Finding the right look for Happy Nest’s logo was no small feat. The first logo had a flat, illustrated look to it, but we soon learned that Emily craved a cleaner look that wasn’t quite so literal. After a few rounds of design, we arrived at a logo that felt like just the right fit for Happy Nest.

Website Design: simplicity and structure

The Happy Nest web site didn’t have complicated needs, but, “simple,” doesn’t mean, “boring.” We wanted to create a clean look that echoes the structure that Happy Nest can bring to your life, and we’d learned a lot about Emily’s personal style and aesthetic during the project. We saw pleasing colors and clean geometric patterns in her own decor. So, we let photos from our photography session set the tone on her homepage, and framed it with patterns and colors that spoke to her.

Then, we did rounds of testing to ensure that the site worked well on mobile devices, because her clients are often busy, on-the-go people. The end result is a site that communicates her brand more strongly, and makes details about her services easy to find. (and really, if there’s anyone should have a well-organized, easy-to-use web site, it’s a professional organizer! 😉 )

Desktop web site
Desktop web site

Mobile site
Mobile site


Jul 06 2016

Take Better Product Photos and Make More Sales

Can Better Product Photos Help You Make The Sale?

IMG_1354You have a killer product, and you know how much time and sweat you put into making it just right. But, making your product amazing is only part of the battle. Showing off your products with beautiful, high-quality photos can also make the difference between getting that sale or losing it.

When you’re selling your goods online, perceived value helps you make that sale. When your product photos are of good quality, you build trust in your customer. And, if you’re selling on marketplace sites like Etsy or Amazon, or selling via Pinterest, you need to stand out. A good product photo makes online shoppers want to choose you over all the others.

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales with Product Photos Made Simple.

Team Upswept is working on Product Photos Made Simple, a whole collection of simple, do-it-yourself tips that anyone can use to create better product photos, more consistently, and in less time. Even if the only camera you have is a smartphone, you can get photos that make your products more crave-able, so you make more sales!

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales!

Get Product Photos Made Simple! »

This guide is designed for you–not for pro photographers.

This guide is NOT for professional photographers! Product Photos Made Simple is a How-To for busy small business owners and creatives who want better-quality photos with minimum fuss.

We’re working on Product Photos Made Simple because we know how it can be when you’re just starting out. We’re thinking of Etsy sellers, startups, small businesses, emerging fashion designers, creatives who do custom commissions… the list goes on. A lot of you out there may not be ready to buy fancy photo gear or hire a professional photographer yet, but we want to help you get there, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

That’s why Product Photos Made Simple is designed to give you the knowledge and techniques to get cleaner, more consistent product photos in less time. Even if all you have is a smartphone, you’ll get tips you can use to make better photos easily.

Here’s a sneak preview of just some of what you’ll get:

  • Lighting basics to help you get great shots without equipment
  • Do’s and Don’ts for getting consistent results
  • Ways to control or even build lighting without stressing your budget
  • The best photo apps for your phone, and how to use them to get the best possible results
  • Tips on how to do product styling when you don’t know where to begin
  • Knowing when it might be time for you to hire a professional, and where to start

Support the Product Photos Made Simple IndieGogo campaign, and you’ll be among the first to get this super-helpful guide! Click the button below to get the details and reserve your copy, or pick up one of our extra-special campaign rewards!

Get product photo tips that help your business grow, all in one place!

Pre-Order Product Photos Made Simple! »


May 12 2016

All Work and No Play Makes Dull Creative Work!

It’s all too easy to get stuck in work mode. Working long hours, rushing to the gym, then going home to eat something and fall asleep. Only to wake up early and do it all again. But as a creative agency–or any type of business, really!–it’s important for us to remember take play breaks.

Design Week Portland helped us take a break a few weeks back. This year’s opening party featured fun and games to help creative types unwind. For me, it can be hard to silence the little voice in the back of my mind, reminding me to send that email or make sure I did that thing I was supposed to do (remember that thing?!). But it was impossible to be distracted by projects and to-do lists while I was snuggling a 5-week-old puppy or defending my Jenga champion crown.

The next day, I felt a little lighter thinking of that adorable puppy and that silly 60-second portrait drawing. Those happy memories brought a smile to my face when I needed a boost, and I felt more ready to take on the creative challenges of my day. A little excitement can go a long way in replenishing those creative juices. People are like cars: we all need to stop and refuel from time to time.

This week, find time to play more. See what happens when you give yourself a recess. Does it make you a happier person? More creative? More inspired?

Creating something fun in a different medium can recharge you for your everyday work.
Creating something fun in a different medium can refresh you for your everyday work.
There's nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!
There’s nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!

When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.
When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.



May 06 2016

Bringing strong brand to web design for Random Order Pie Bar

The "Before" Picture: Random Order's old site didn't incorporate their updated branding.
The “Before” Picture: Random Order’s old site didn’t incorporate their updated branding.

When a once-humble pie shop gains a worldwide audience, a lot of eyes will suddenly be looking for it, especially on the internet--a lot of business dream of that level of fame, but not all of them are ready for it! It’s easy for a potential new fan to see you in a magazine or on TV, pull out their smartphone, and go online to find the best pie in Portland. That means the pressure is on your web site to make a great first impression, and give them what they need to find you.

Random Order Pie Bar was more ready for fame than some, when Travel & Leisure magazine first rated their Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie among “America’s Best”. When the owner of Random Order reached out to Team Upswept, they had updated their signage, menus, and other brand assets with a bolder and more polished look, and they also wisely gathered high-quality photos of their beautiful and positively scrummy pies!

But, even with all of these assets in their hands, their brand refresh was far from complete. None of their new brand imagery was being used effectively in their online presence, and they were also losing potential customers because of their not-so-mobile-friendly web site. The overall look-and-feel of the old web site felt heavy and staid, which didn’t fit at all with the welcoming and active environment of their cafe. That’s where Team Upswept came in!

Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order's updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)
Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order’s updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)

Our first order of business was designing the new web site to make the best use of their brand assets. Their updated logo now shows front-and-center with a gorgeous, full-width photo of their now-famous pie, and brand fonts are also used prominently, to tie in with their printed menus and advertisements. Their “Pie to the People” tag line also appears in multiple locations throughout the site, so this clever catch phrase can stick in the minds of future tourists and customers.

We also updated their menus to highlight both their pie flavors and cafe selections, with prominent calls to action for special ordering your favorite pie, or visiting the shop for a coffee drink and a slice. And, of course, we incorporated more of the lovely photos of the food, drinks, and cafe space throughout the site, to share the quality of their hand-crafted treats, and the community they’ve built over the years.

Random Order's new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.
Random Order’s new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.

And, now that Random Order’s reach extends far outside of its Portland, Oregon home, we made sure their web site would be easy to use for visiting tourists and local enthusiasts alike, by building a web site design that displays gracefully on mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices to learn about their pies–especially when traveling in from out of town–it’s absolutely critical that Random Order Pie Bar have a mobile site which is easy to use.

The new mobile site for Random Order achieves the same goals as the desktop version, and brings the brighter, more welcoming look to people on-the-go, and folks who are looking to sample a slice or a whole order of their famous pies can easily find their location or contact them with questions or special orders.

If you know me, then you know that I get more than a little excited about pie, so working with people who make some of the absolute best pie in Portland was a total blast. My only complaint? Looking at all of those photos made me so very hungry pie. Maybe that’s my cue to head up to Alberta St. and grab a world-famous slice for myself! 😉

Portland branding and web design by Upswept Creative


Feb 12 2016

This Weekend! Photobooth at Valentine’s popUP!

12627964_618424141640355_1148175536_nCome see us at the Valentine’s popUP event, and get in on our festive and fun photobooth for Valentine’s weekend! Stop by on Friday for the kick-off cocktail party, or visit us over the weekend and browse some super-amazing locally-made goods. Pick up something special for your sweetie or yourself, or share the experience with someone you like.

And, we’ll bring the fun in our photobooth! We’ll have some fun Valentine’s-y props on hand, and we’ll be ready to make some lighthearted and fabulous photos with you!

Valentine’s popUP at UP Design Lounge
4048 N Williams Ave., Portland 97227

PHOTOBOOTH HOURS:
Friday: 6-8pm (or later!)
Sat. & Sun.: 11am-3pm

12669502_827305957379570_2761030660314064990_n


Jan 27 2016

A Pie-Filled Peek at Smarsh Week 2016

We were pretty pleased to return for Smarsh Week this year, to capture some of the happenings during their activity-filled multi-day event! Employees from the many global offices of this tech company converge in Portland every year, to engage in a variety of events and mixers in and around their Downtown PDX headquarters.

A special treat on the Smarsh Week 2016 agenda was a pie smashing event, done to support fundraising for the Movember Foundation, to help them in their continuing fight against cancer. A dozen-or-so employees offered themselves up as tribute–including several members of their Leadership Team–and together raised over $1000 for the Foundation.

We couldn’t resist this incredibly GIF-able moment featuring CEO Steve Marsh, braving his pie-in-the-face like a champ. Big ups to everyone at Smarsh for being all-around lovely people, and for doing good in the community!

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.
Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Jan 19 2016

On Keeping Projects Moving and Shifting Gears: an interview with Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner

Writing a book is no small undertaking, and neither is being a parent. Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner didn’t shy away from either of those things, though–she resolved to write and edit her first book throughout her pregnancy, and publish it before her little one’s due date! Now, she’s created Roller Derby for Beginners, a definitive roller derby resource book for new skaters that’s available as both a paperback and an e-book, and even maintained a companion web site of resources to go with it.

Now, that companion site is taking on a new life: RollerDerbyForBeginners.com has become an ongoing blog of tips, information, and resources for new roller derby skaters, “to help new skaters be better athletes, make sense of their new world, and get the reassurance that though their derby journey is their own, there’s a lot that we have in common.” It wasn’t the easiest decision to shift gears and find a new purpose to the site, but things are looking bright for the new site.

We checked in with Frisky to pick her brain on how to keep a long-term project moving, and on shifting gears and making changes to your original vision.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book.
Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book. (photo courtesy of author)

UPSWEPT: Roller Derby For Beginners was your first published book–what parts of creating and promoting it were the most important to you?

FRISKY: I think the most important aspect of me making a product was to make sure that it was worth buying. I mean, I’d rather make zero dollars and help someone than make a million dollars by bilking people $14.95 at a time. My volunteer early readers were absolutely essential to forming the book into something that was useful to all kinds of skaters with all kinds of experiences. I’m just me, and I skated for two leagues. Getting feedback from my beta readers and learning through their lenses was just as important as hiring good editors. (Hire good editors.)

UPSWEPT: Longer-term projects can be tough to manage. What did you do to keep the book project moving, and keep yourself motivated?

FRISKY: I had this kinda big deadline looming over me in the form of pregnancy. Then, I had a successful Kickstarter, so I HAD to finish, or else [I’d] be that jerk. Luckily for all those Kickstarter supporters, Baby Sour came a week after his due date, and I’d planned to take that time off anyway. I absolutely cannot recommend trying to figure out the finer points of formatting and page breaks in Word on four hours of sleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

UPSWEPT: Writing a book isn’t easy! What were some of the bigger challenges of creating and promoting your book?

FRISKY: What with the baby and all, my promotion plan became kind of helter skelter. I thought I’d have time to market after the kid was born, but, um, no. No one ever has more time later, least of all when they suddenly get a 24-hour on-call job.

Writing the thing was just work. I had a plan, and just chipped away at it slowly. People are impressed by that part, but it comes naturally to me as a writer to put words on a page, edit, edit, ask for help, and edit again. Knowing how to pitch this book and reach my very particular audience was the problem, especially with a pretty small marketing budget.

UPSWEPT: What made you decide to shift gears and turn your book companion site into an active blog? Is there anything that made the transition from book to blog difficult?

quotation_goal-settingFRISKY: It was a path that should have been obvious [to me] a few years ago, but it was hard to let go of my old roller derby blog. It didn’t even have a roller derby name or URL–it was personal blog that just sort of evolved to being about roller derby. It became a place to blog for beginning skaters, so it only made sense to kill off the old blog and really focus on making one site that served all those needs.

I still have to figure out a few details, like whether to transfer some old content to the new site. The only problem is that I’m learning more all the time that I wish could be in the book! That’s the beauty and the detriment of digital publishing. I hope I can just cover the basics in the book, get people rolling, and then bring them to the blog for the details. (Of course, I’m hoping to draw new [book] readers via the blog as well.)

The new blog concept is an experiment at this point, to see what kind of content people want. I want to keep putting out useful information and paying writers for it.

UPSWEPT: Do you have any advice for people who might want to publish or blog in the future?

FRISKY: I’m a professional blogger and writer, and the most common problem I see is starting without a clear goal or focus. Do you want to share your story? Sell a product? Get more exposure? Focus on a goal as early as possible, so you don’t spin your wheels in a million directions. But at the same time, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are just different strategies for accomplishing your goals and catching those dreams. Messing up and learning along the way is part of the deal.