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!


Apr 27 2017

Cherry City: A Case Study in Design Work

Working in web design can be a complicated process. A lot of creative decisions need to be made while working under a deadline, and within a budget.  Both functionality and the client’s needs have to take  priority, all while looking prettier than the previous iteration. So how do the pros do it? We’d like to give you an example from a recent web design project we completed for Salem, Oregon’s roller derby league, Cherry City Roller Derby.

STARTING OUT

Cherry City came to us with an outdated website, in terms of both content and design. The platform on which their site was built made it difficult for league leadership to post updates. Key information for a roller derby league would get buried in the design. Upcoming events like fundraisers, bouts, and recruitments  were hard to find. League sponsors were also not prominently featured, making sponsorship a less attractive prospect. That can be a big problem for a non-profit!

ROLLIN’ UP OUR SLEEVES

We knew we wanted to build the site on WordPress. This would be a big usability upgrade for Cherry City, and would help them keep  the site’s content fresh and up-to-date. But, we also had to consider how to organize the content in a more beautiful and less confusing way.  Upcoming events needed to be easily accessible, and presented in a consistent visual format.

All of the important elements, front and center on the first page.

We drew on our experience working with Portland’s roller derby league, Rose City Rollers, to find approaches that we knew worked with this kind of content. We knew that public bouts needed to be at the forefront of their online presence, so we made their games the star of the show. But, Cherry City also puts emphasis on recruiting, and makes a special effort to be a welcoming league that keeps its members and volunteers engaged, so we created space in their Events area to highlight Recruitment events as well.
Keeping track of Sponsors at different levels would be important to growing their sponsorship base. We also knew that the same individuals could be involved with multiple teams or committees. We created structures for both Sponsors and Team Members, so Cherry City could easily manage those details all in one easy-to-find place, instead of updating multiple pages.

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Make sure your site works on mobile, too.

To get the visual and functional improvements we were all looking for, we communicated regularly with Cherry City’s all-volunteer Board of Directors about our design inspirations. We shared with them our wireframes and graphic mock ups, ensuring that we were persisting in the right direction on the project.
After many rounds of feedback, and all of our tweaks made, we were happy to launch their brand new website near the beginning of April!  Their league leadership is quickly gaining comfort with the new structure we’ve built, and they’ll be able to keep their fans, future skaters and volunteers, and sponsors engaged with ease.


Apr 13 2017

Portland Business Spotlight: Katie Proctor, Owner, Books with Pictures

Portland’s Katie Proctor is on bold mission to bring comics to everyone. Her nearly year-old shop in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood, Books with Pictures, has quickly become a community hub with an explicitly inclusive mission: to be a space that is welcoming to people who love good stories without regard to age, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability status. We loved collaborating with Katie in creating branding assets for the shop in support of that mission, and we’re such big fans of her shop that we wanted to shine a light on our favorite local comics seller.

Books with Pictures Logo by Upswept Creative, 2016.

On Radical Inclusivity

The shop — it’s spacious layout, bright lighting, and friendly displays — the diverse stock, and Katie herself are all tuned towards making entry into comics an easy and stress-free experience, making it OK for adults to not know anything about comics when they come in, or for parents to come in to get a comic for their kids and not know what they are looking for, or should be looking for. You don’t have to feel like you are already part of the “in” crowd, is the thing. Because at Books with Pictures there is no “in” crowd, just folks who like to read books and connect with each other about it.  

Heroes are for Everyone Sandwich Board
Recently shared on Books with Pictures Instagram Feed

Katie says that comic books have forever been full of stories of misfits overcoming the things that set them apart from mainstream culture to find their own power, and there is a lot happening in terms of diverse content, identifiable storylines for people who feel like outsiders. Most of her customers are new to comic book stores, and it’s clear that a big part of Katie’s passion is in creating a safe and welcoming space where there’s a book for anyone who comes into her shop, whether they are looking for the mainstream offerings, or something else.

Katie has a diverse background which includes information design, bike advocacy, biomedical ethics, sales enablement programs, computing cultures, and history of science. She has been reading comic books since since adolescence, but really got into them after having children, who are five and seven now.

On Being So Much More Than a Bookstore

Katie Proctor Headshot
The One and Only Katie Proctor. Headshot by Upswept Creative, 2016.

It’s a daring thing to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore, but Katie says the key to being successful and vibrant is to be a resource for the community that it can’t get online. In addition to carrying the less-mainstream titles (Yes, she has more than one book for kids in which the princesses fall in love with each other), a big part of this mission is fulfilled by the many events the shop hosts every month.

There is some kind of lecture, signing, panel, or class every Wednesday night, Yarn with Pictures, a monthly knitting group, as well as events and programming in partnership with University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Helioscope Studios. In keeping with her community-oriented theme, Katie is excited to foster synergy between our city’s comics luminaries and its up-and-comers.

Books with Pictures is the kind of local business we love to work with, one with a clear message of inclusivity and positivity that makes a real effort to be present in the community it serves. Katie Proctor has built something beautiful for all fans of comic books, and we are proud to highlight her talent and hard work.


Jul 01 2015

Open Source Bridge Day 2: You Are Not Your User

Day Two of Open Source Bridge encouraged us to look beyond our own experience, and try to see the world through a different lens. Not only does it help us be more compassionate as people, but it also helps us create and code better design and user experiences for everyone we want to reach.

Algorithms Can Have Powerful Consequences

Open Source Bridge Keynote: Carina C. Zona talks about using data insights responsibly.
Carina C. Zona talks about using data insights responsibly.

Carina C. Zona opened Day 2 with “Consequences of an Insightful Algorithm” and talked about the incredible number of things we can learn about people through data, and subsequently, the potentially hurtful actions that can stem from it. Zona brought up several examples of big-name companies who have used their data less-than-responsibly, such as FitBit’s public exposure of sexual activity on profile statistics, or even more disastrous, Target’s advertisements towards pregnant women exposing a teen pregnancy. Big companies can learn a great deal about their customers by gathering and analyzing customer data, but they can easily fail at using that data responsibly.

Inadvertent algorithmic cruelty–a phrase coined by Eric Meyer–is, “what happens when code works in the majority of cases, but fails to take other use cases into account.” These types of things often happen because the consequences of how data is being used aren’t being thoroughly considered, which is easy to do when you assume that your customers and users are similar to you. That means that people outside of the assumed majority can get hurt.

We all have biases, whether we’re aware of them or not, so it’s important for us all to consider what motivates our choices, and how that can affect others who don’t share our biases. Data can be an extremely powerful tool, but it’s up to us to be honest and trustworthy, to use data responsibly, and to actively counter the biases that exist in ourselves and our culture.

Good User Experience Means Seeking Other Perspectives

With the Day 2 keynote fresh in my mind, I attended multiple sessions that encouraged all of us in tech to reach outside of our own perspectives, to think and learn about users who are different from us, and use that knowledge to create better user experiences for everyone.

Amelia Abreu facilitates a session about creating better design with user research.
Amelia Abreu facilitates a session about creating better design with user research.

Amelia Abreu and Rachel Shadoan facilitated a longer-form session, Dog Food is for Dogs: Escape the Crate of Your Perspective with User Research,” which focused on escaping the limitations of our own perspective through user research. We know our own projects inside and out, but our users don’t have that same advantage, so it’s part of our job to do the research and learn more about the people we’re designing for.

The session focused on a couple of different strategies to help us learn to see beyond our own experience: first, we looked at a photograph and brainstormed about everything from the circumstances and feelings of the people in said photo, to potential solutions to their problems. Later in the session, we broke up into several groups and explored different scenarios, so we could strategically think about the different types of people who might work with our projects, what’s exciting them about our work, and what their struggles might be.

The clear message here was that we need to consider a variety of people when we create user experiences. People tend to congregate with others who are just like them, so that can easily lead us to assume that our experience is the only one that matters. Our user scenarios should be based on field research, or we risk falling into tropes and our own biases.

In a similar vein, David Newton tackled the topic of making web design more inclusive in Universal Web Design: How to create an awesome experience for *every* user.” Newton looked at successful examples of universal design in the real world–such as curb cuts to improve accessibility for wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes–and then expanded on the concepts of universal design and how they can apply to Web Design.

Creating web design that’s intuitive, flexible, and easy to use in a variety of situations was a big topic here, and it’s one that I loved talking about. A good universal design works for us, and we don’t really think about it until it’s not there when we need it. No matter what type of web site we’re building, be it business, personal, or community, our number one goal? We want people to use the site. If you have a web design that’s confusing, or that isn’t easy to use for all of our users, then your web site is falling down on the job.

Newton went into a detailed run-down of tips, concepts, and best practices for making web designs more accessible. And, he also stressed the importance of listening to and considering a variety of users. Diversity is not only about the user, but also how they access the web, what devices, connection speeds, and so forth. We were encouraged to listen to our users, respond to their email feedback, do focus groups, and do our best to learn what they need, so we can create a better web site experience for everyone.

In short: “Remove barriers. Make things easier for users, even if it’s a little harder for us [as designers and developers].”

Did you miss out on the conference? Look back at Day 1 of Open Source Bridge, and take a look at some of our photos on Facebook.


Jun 25 2015

Open Source Bridge Day 1: Everyone In Tech Matters

We’re spending a big part of our week at Open Source Bridge, both taking in wisdom and taking photos! On Day 1, I spent a lot of time wishing that I could be in multiple places at once, but I did make it to a couple of different talks which drove home the message that tech needs to strive to be more inclusive, more socially aware, and more collaborative.

Stepping Towards True Diversity in Tech

Kronda Adair opened the Open Source Bridge conference by talking on what we really need to do to encourage diversity in tech.
Kronda Adair opened the conference by talking about what we really need to do to encourage diversity in tech.
Kronda Adair kicked off Open Source Bridge with “Put Up or Shut Up: An Open Letter to Tech Companies Seeking Diverse Teams,” which gave direct talk about the problem of diversity in the tech industry, an industry that continues to be dominated by white males. One startling statistic: “50% of women in tech quit the industry within 10 years.”–not simply their jobs, but the entire industry. Hiring more women and other underrepresented demographics into tech companies does help, but as Adair stated, it is simply not enough.

Adair emphasized the importance of companies throughout tech stepping up and putting real weight behind their stated desires for diversity.  Empathy is key to creating an environment that is welcoming to all, and a supportive work environment is key to retaining people from those underrepresented demographics.

In short, it’s important to create a space that’s safe for everyone, and that allows diverse groups to flourish. It means not allowing members of your company or community to act badly without consequences. Value interpersonal skills as well as technical skills. Give access to tools and education, and inclusive healthcare. It can even be as simple as taking the time to learn an unfamiliar name. When you think on diversity, don’t simply wonder, “how do I add diversity?” but ask, “how do I make things better for everyone?”

When Fear Takes Hold, Reach Outward

Adam Edgerton shares what happens when fear hits on a project, and how to handle it.
Adam Edgerton shares what happens when fear hits on a project, and how to handle it.

In an afternoon session, Adam Edgerton looked at what happens when the project management cycle gets scary in “Project Fear.” He touched on the very real issues of burnout in all facets of tech–Edgerton suggested that burnout is one major contributor to why people quit the industry–and the feelings of uncertainty that come with joining a new project or a new company. “Impostor Syndrome is most strongly associated with high achievers,” so even those who are expert and capable, and performing well, may feel the fear that comes with uncertainty

New hires can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to gain the background knowledge about a company that’s needed for them to perform well, so patience is key. Edgerton suggests reaching outward to help combat uncertainty–asking questions and doing research to gain the background you might be missing can help you find the “a-ha” moment of understanding. It’s also important to balance your gut feelings and your logic, much like our friends Kirk and Spock. And, allowing yourself to talk about struggle and share it with others can help relieve the pressure that leads to burnout.

Your Job Impacts Your Community

Kelsey Gilmore-Innis talks on the surprisingly long reach of tech dollars in politics.
Kelsey Gilmore-Innis talks on the surprisingly long reach of tech dollars in politics.

An afternoon session with Kelsey Gilmore-Innis, “Your Job Is Political,” dove into the long reach of tech dollars in politics. Using her knowledge of tech leaders in the Bay Area, she went into extensive detail about venture capitalists in tech, the surprising number of tech companies they’re tied to and invested in, and most importantly, where their political interests lie–and subsequently, where their millions of dollars are going.

A sad truth of our political system is that money continues to command a great deal of power, and the work you do as an average tech worker contributes to advancing political interests that you may not support. If you don’t take a position, but your bosses invest revenue from your labor in politics, you are not impartial. Be aware of who is at the top levels of your company, and what they are doing (or not doing) to benefit your community.


Apr 29 2015

Athletes into Superheroes: Conceptual Photography

Photography is a powerful way to make an impression, and creating unique conceptual art is just one way of doing it! A couple of years ago, I absentmindedly scribbled down the idea of shooting skaters from the Rose City Rollers’ all-star team, the Wheels of Justice, in superhero-inspired poses and settings. Seeing these people as heroes wasn’t much of a stretch, in my mind: at that time, I was a Fresh Meat skater without a team to call home, and I’d go positively starry-eyed watching these top-tier athletes do amazing, powerful, even gravity-defying things on skates.

So, when the team announced a “Heroes’ Ball” Fundraiser Party and Art Auction, it felt like the perfect opportunity to donate my time to support this team of inspiring women, and bring a concept to life. Over the course of two short weeks, we photographed four different Wheels of Justice skaters in unique Portland settings, and then edited and designed them into posters inspired by movie posters and superheroes. I researched and scouted locations all over Portland, recruited helping hands for lightning-fast lighting setup, and made the shots happen in record time. Together, we explored rooftops, busy downtown streets, and deserted industrial neighborhoods, and each skater brought grace and enthusiasm to the set.

We printed out the final posters at 18″x24″, framed them and had them autographed (both by the skaters and the artist), and they were then put up for as one-of-a-kind auction items at the fundraiser. The super-excellent DJ Agent Meow even queued up the appropriate superhero theme music as the posters were unveiled! I was excited to learn that the posters raised ~$1000 for the team at the fundraiser party and art auction, and I’m SO happy to help them on their way to becoming world champions.

The Wheels of Justice will be showing the world what they have to offer at The Big O tournament in Eugene this weekend, and I’ll be cheering my face off for them from Portland! We owe a big thank you to each of these skaters, for inspiring us and for making time to work with us. Now go get that Hydra! 😉

Chestnut #127 as Batman
Chestnut #127 as Batman
Scald Eagle #50 as Captain America
Scald Eagle #50 as Captain America
Moffatt #2 as the Incredible Hulk
Moffatt #2 as the Incredible Hulk
Gaither #26 as Superman
Gaither #26 as Superman



Apr 02 2015

When April Fool’s Jokes Become Smart Branding

I’ve never been one for pulling pranks, but I can’t help appreciating the creativity that April Fool’s Day seems to bring out in some parts of the internet–especially now that businesses are taking part in clever ways. Instead of being a terror-inducing and mean-spirited occasion, it can become a neat project for the business and a smart move for their brand to have some harmless fun with an April Fool’s Day joke.

Because we love Portland businesses here at Upswept, I’m taking a look at a few local, independent businesses who had a bit of extra fun with their April Fool’s Day.

Ground Kontrol “Artisanal Artcade”

gk-artisanal-artcade
This April Fool’s Day homepage shows what Ground Kontrol might be like if it got a makeover from the staff of Portlandia.

Portland’s own “barcade” Ground Kontrol, normally offers you pints after 5pm, plenty of classic arcade games to keep you entertained, and a dramatic interior with gaming-inspired details. You’ll see sleek seating and tables with lighting elements inside, Pac-Man tiling in the bathroom, and a general atmosphere that makes you wonder if you’ve stumbled onto the set of TRON.

On April Fool’s Day, however, Ground Kontrol unveiled a parody version of their web site with a sharp change in direction: “Ground Kontrol Artisanal Artcade” traded contrast-y, retro-modern design for wood grain textures and old-timey type, and their homepage copy boasted a fancy new menu and craft cocktail menu, and a “de-modeled” interior that rolled back their futuristic look to its original, 1900s-era architecture.

Why it works for their brand: Ground Kontrol is one of the places that makes Portland unique, but much of what the world thinks of when they think of Portland is the opposite of what Ground Kontrol offers: people in flannel shirts, riding fixies, eating an artisanal vegan/gluten-free lunch from a food cart you probably haven’t heard of. 😉 Any good parody is born from a love of the thing being parodied, though, so this ends up being a clever way for GK to say, “no, really, Portland, we like being here.”

Fort George Looks to Purchase Anheuser-Busch InBev

I couldn’t help but giggle when we saw this April Fool’s Day press release from local beer crafters at Fort George Brewery. When Anheuser-Busch InBev recently purchased Elysian, another local brewery, there were plenty of alarmed and horrified reactions. With that in our recent collective memory, Fort George’s April Fool’s Day announcement that they were looking purchase InBev made an amusingly perfect response to the buyout of Elysian. The announcement shared quotable lines about their proposed buyout, such as, “‘Bud Light Lime-A-Rita would definitely fill a niche Fort George does not serve,’ explains Jack Harris, co-owner and brew master at Fort George.”

Why it works for their brand: I’ve sampled many a Fort George brew in the past, and uniquely-delicious beers like their Hellcat Trippel prove their far-from-macro approach to brewing. With this fake announcement, Fort George gets to poke some fun at big corporate beers, and remind us that they’re happy being a smaller brewery, and committed to creating beers the best way they know how.

Powell’s Discovers an Exciting New Author

A look at Blue, Minnesota--a made-up book release from Powell's Books.
A look at Blue, Minnesota–a made-up book release from Powell’s Books.

The folks at the world’s largest bookstore definitely planned ahead for this April Fool’s Day: if you were following Powell’s Books on social media yesterday, you saw multiple postings creating buzz and excitement surrounding a new book called Blue, Minnesota: reportedly the first novel ever written by an exciting new author, Todd Furlong.

The team at Powell’s gradually unveiled the joke throughout the day, sharing photos of their staff enjoying the book, and even a Q&A with the author. As the day went on, things got weirder–the author photo featured a suit-and-bowtied body with a cat’s head, and pages of the book were revealed as being nothing but a series of meows. Finally, in the late-afternoon, the Powell’s Facebook page announced, “BREAKING: We’ve been catfished. Todd Furlong’s new novel Blue, Minnesota is in fact just a series of meows transcribed by his overzealous owner.”

Why it works for their brand: Powell’s had a chance to play with the online buzz machine, by generating excitement about something goofy, silly, and 100% made-up. It’s a cute reminder of how easily we can get swept up in the “hottest” new Thing Of The Moment, but underneath that, Powell’s is also reminding us: they’re excited about books, and they want you to be excited about them, too. Even when they’re written by cats. 😉

If you parked near Sizzle Pie, you may have gotten a parking ticket with a surprise inside: it's a couple for a free slice of pizza!
These parking tickets held a surprise inside: a coupon for a free slice at Sizzle Pie!

Sizzle Pie: Parking Tickets with a Surprise

Portland purveyors of pizza deliciousness Sizzle Pie did a great job of taking a shocking prank and turning it into a happy ending. Little yellow envelopes that look nearly identical to the ones the City of Portland uses for parking citations appeared on cars parked near Sizzle Pie locations.

Upon closer inspection, however, there are telltale signs that this is no ordinary parking ticket–like the, “Pizza Alert System Headquarters” address on the front. Pranked victims then pull out the citation, and see a slip of paper formatted like a City of Portland parking citation… but it’s actually a coupon for a free slice of pizza!

Why it works for their brand: This might be my favorite prank of the day: it’s good exposure that will stick in the memories of locals, and it works because what looks to be bad luck turns out to be a good gift. Sizzle Pie won’t shy away from a bit of mischief, but really, they just want Portlanders to enjoy delicious pizza. The down side? We seriously hope those who were hit by this prank took the time to look at the ticket, rather than throwing it away in anger and missing out on the payoff.


Jan 20 2015

Making the most of your headshot!

Portland professional headshots Rachel Edidin
Just be your authentic, awesome self, and we’ll do the rest.

One of the things that seems to stay the same, no matter the year, is our relationship with the things that are currently impacting our lives, the things that are happening now – the bus you’re about to miss, the date you’re about to go on, the bill you forgot to pay. If you’re a busy Portland professional with a million things happening, thinking about your headshot may not the first thing on your mind. For us at Upswept Creative, it’s not so very different – we’re busy thinking about our clients, our projects and the plans we have for this year!

But we know all too well that the day will come when you wake up and realize your headshot is completely out of date–let me guess: you are working on updating your LinkedIn because you feel you need a better job? You need help. When you need to step up, professionally? Let a professional help you.

Here’s how you go from awkward mirror selfie to professional-level portrait in three easy steps.

1. Book an appointment with us at Upswept Creative!

Whether you are an aspiring manager, model, project executive, actor or a wellness coach, we can make your headshot work for you.We are local to Portland, Oregon, and have years of experience doing what we do. We have a flexible schedule with morning, daytime and evening hours, and a convenient Old Town location you can reach by car, bus, or bike. We have a private bathroom you can change in, so feel free to bring more than one outfit. If you are looking for professional hair and makeup, we can organize that too! Our headshot packages are affordable, and allow you to order extra high-resolution photos as well as physical prints. Go ahead and make a commitment to going pro – you can book and pay for your headshot online with just a few clicks.

Is the world going to end if you're not smiling in a photo? We don't think so. :)
Is the world going to end if you’re not smiling in a photo? We don’t think so. 🙂

2. Tell us a little about yourself.

Start by thinking: “What do I want my photo to say about me?” For many small business owners, you are the product. Consider the environment your photo will be used in. Take a look at other people’s headshots, both those you like, and those you don’t. Don’t be shy to show us examples or tell us specifically what you’re looking for – the more information we have, the easier it is for us to make you happy.

3. Get in the zone.

A lot could be said about preparing to get your photo taken, which is why, in the past, we have taught entire workshops such as Make the Camera Love You in 2014. But a lot boils down to some very simple rules:

  • Wear something that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and completely awesome.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – i.e. the blemish on your chin, or that you might blink when the shutter clicks.
  • You don’t have to smile, if you don’t want to. Just be your authentic self, and let us do the rest.

We look forward to seeing you in the Upswept Creative studio in NW Portland!


Apr 09 2014

Fashion photography for Clair Vintage Inspired Spring/Summer 2014

There are some clients that make us stop and think, “Is this REALLY my job? It’s too good to be true!”. Alyson Clair, from Clair Vintage Inspired, is one of them.

We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with her on her Spring/ Summer 2014 collection lookbook. Alyson creates garments for a wide range of body types. From full-figured to skinny her silhouettes are always flattering and stylish with an emphasis on fit.

Amelia, and her fur-child Bambi, were nice enough to let us invade her local Boutique located in NE Portland called Amelia. The bright natural light, stark white walls, and unlimited supply of swoon-worthy jewelry made for the perfect shoot. Throw in some tropical blooms supplied and styled by Upswept Creative + adorable senior citizen dogs, Max and Bambi, and we were set!

We had a blast working on this Collection Session and can’t wait to make more fashion magic with Alyson!

portland-fashion-photographer_clair-spring-2014 portland-fashion-photographer_clair-vintage-inspired-spring-2014 portland-fashion-photographer_clair-spring-summer-2014 SLG_7060_social

 

Shoot Location: Amelia
Makeup/ Hair: Heidi Cuthbert
Models: Cheryl and Coco
Floral Styling: Upswept Creative

Portland Fashion Photography – Portland Web Design – Upswept Creative


Mar 27 2014

Your Brand is Something to Lean Against

Branding is an important part of running your own business, but it’s hard to do when you’re first starting out. Your vision might not be 100% in-place, but don’t let yourself believe that you’re “not big enough” to build an effective brand! There are plenty of reasons to start putting the pieces of your brand together sooner, rather than later.

portland-rebranding-agency_branding-lean-againstI had the privilege of sitting in on a talk by prominent designer Frank Chimero not long ago, and he briefly touched on the challenge of designing when you have no constraints, and how designing for particular platforms–such as tablet e-readers, in his case–can actually be helpful, because the constraints of those platforms can give you, “something to lean against.” It helps give you direction, when you otherwise might not have one.

Your brand can be a lot like that, too. Branding is more than just design: it’s also how you talk about your business, how you communicate what’s unique about and important to you, and how you make sure that your potential client hears it and remembers it. It’s everything from color and style to the words you choose, and when you use them.

Have you ever been asked about your work, and felt completely unsure of what to say about it? “Oh, I make bags, all kinds of bags, shoulder bags and also little clutch bags… oh, and I make them all with recycled materials, because I really believe in upcycling and making the most of all materials! And I’m at some shops around town, but I also have an Etsy store, and…”

If you don’t have your brand outlined in your head, you might come out of it feeling scattered, and realize you haven’t even told them the name of your company, so they can actually find and buy your work!

This is a time when having constraints can really help you, rather than hurt you. When you have too many options, it can be paralyzing, because there are so many directions to go in. Something as essential as a color choice on a flyer, or a 30-second elevator speech, can feel like stumbling through the dark blindfolded, when you have no constraints and nothing to frame your thinking with.

By starting to outline your brand, you can identify the key issues that are important to you, and important to your client, and give yourself that Something To Lean Against. Even when you’re out of sorts, you’ll have those key points to fall back on, so you can share your work with someone effectively, even in hectic moments where you don’t feel 100% prepared for it.

If you haven’t put much thought into your brand yet, now is the time to start! Then, whether you’re planning for your future, or spontaneously sharing what you do in the present, you’ll be able to rest a little easier–you’ll have something to lean against.

Portland branding design – Portland web design – Upswept Creative