The art of newspaper design

By Andrew Vowles

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  Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Matt French tells stories not with words but with design.

An award-winning page designer and assistant art director for The Globe and Mail newspaper, he aims to create eye-catching page layouts that give readers a clear idea what the story is about before they read a sentence.

“The designer is there to make the message as clear and effective as they can,” says French, adding that a skillful design draws attention to the article rather than to the design elements, including graphics, photos and typography.

Take the Globe’s front-page coverage of last fall’s final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The story was illustrated by oversize numerals that punched out the key points: numbers of victims, witnesses and deaths associated with the country’s former residential schools.

“The story was the numbers, and the numbers are the impact,” says French, B.Comm. ’07. “It’s not about any highfalutin’ image or fancy colour.”

Most days, French, 30, helps design the newspaper’s front page, working with a “cast of many,” including editors, headline writers and the paper’s creative director. Over the past year, he’s designed more than 300 front pages and thousands more inside.

French’s design skills are self-taught, but his career path started at U of G. Always driven to do creative work, he pursued a commerce degree thinking he could “make a living doing something creative in business” such as working for a marketing agency.

During a summer job in a marketing department, French took a stab at creating promotional material for trade publications. Back on campus during third and fourth year, he then worked at Guelph’s student newspaper, The Ontarion, as photo and graphics editor, and layout editor. Recalling those days, he says, “You were able to cut your teeth doing what you wanted. Learning from your mistakes gave you the freedom to make mistakes.”

Following graduation, he worked at the Woolwich Observer. After three years there, he worked for 24 Hours, a Toronto commuter newspaper, and the Toronto Sun, among others.

French got called up to the “big leagues” in 2011. Up to 400,000 people read The Globe and Mail’s weekend edition.

Among his notable Globe projects, he points to an “Unremembered” series of articles last year about the suicides of Canadian soldiers and veterans who fought in Afghanistan, as well as the 11th-hour package of reports covering the 2015 federal election that vaulted Justin Trudeau’s Liberals into power.

Another favourite was the 2012 Remembrance Day cover, with the word “Remember” stamped over a soldier’s image. “It did what it was intended to do: cause the reader to pause and reflect.”

A fan of the Washington Post and the Guardian, French brings what he calls a simple and subtle but graphic approach to his work, as well as a refined sense of visual literacy — all without getting in the way of the story.

Sitting down to assemble a page, he knows that reporters and editors might have put months of work and passion into the article. “At the end, I’m the person responsible for taking it over the finish line, making it sing so that people connect with it.”

 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

Alumni Husband-and-Wife Collaboration A Success

By Jennifer Ammoscato

Everything in life is a process.  Just ask University of Windsor grads Tristan Boutros BComm ’06 & Jennifer Cardella BA ’06

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  Photo credit: Steve Biro

Photo credit: Steve Biro

Boutros, who majored in business, and Cardella, who focused on psychology, not only collaborated on their book, The Basics of Process Improvement—they even applied its principles to planning their wedding.

“Life is full of processes, whether you’re talking about how a business functions, or how to make sure your wedding goes off without a hitch,” says Boutros. “The idea of process improvement is something that goes far beyond the corporate world.”

When it comes to business, Boutros suggests thinking about every company as an ecosystem where everything is interconnected to a wide variety of touch points, both inside and out.

“Process connects it all. How a company operates from day to day within itself and with its suppliers and customers, including people, process and technology, he says. “For example, how an order is placed, right through the entire order to cash process. My job is to make sure things are being handled as efficiently as possible.”

Boutros serves as chief operating officer, Product, Technology & Design, for The New York Times. In that role, he spends his days considering ways to optimize how the 165-year-old news organization operates, and develop solutions which allow it to maintain its high-quality, well- respected product while saving costs.

Boutros, who began in the position in January 2016, brought to it more than 10 years of business, technology, and management consulting experience at such companies as DTE Energy, IAC, BlackBerry, and Warner Music Group. He also holds more than 10 professional designations.

“I’ve always been a process-oriented person,” says Boutros. “Very analytical and organized. It’s in my DNA.”

In university, he focused on marketing and advertising with a minor in computer science.” As a student, he ran his own e-commerce business selling DVDs, Books and CDs. He says that experience was the basis for where he is now.

“I learned all about business processes. I dealt with orders, kept track of revenues, and learned how to automate. I was learning about process management without knowing it.”

In his current role, Boutros focuses on the digital side of The New York Times—its robust website and the consumer products it offers, as well as its internal systems. It must compete in a difficult environment in which most newspapers are undergoing large, digital transformations in the wake of declining ad revenues and increasing market pressures.

“My specialty is to come into those difficult transitions, where companies want to be excellent and efficient, and find a way to increase quality while increasing agility and efficiency.”

Jennifer Cardella says her “passion” for process management was ignited courtesy of UWindsor psychology professor Ted Vokes.

“He was a phenomenal professor,” she says. “I took one ofhis courses and we had a great conversation about organizational psychology. I immediately connected to it. I saw how psychology and business go hand-in-hand. He had a large influence over where I am today.”

Post-graduation, Cardella held positions at some of the same places as Boutros, including Pernod Ricard, IAC and Blackberry. Her roles evolved from the accounting department, recruitment and business analysis to project and process management.

Today, she is Vice President, Strategic Vendor Management, and Project Management Office for Viacom, an American media conglomerate that’s home to such brands as MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, CMT and Comedy Central. She joined the company almost two years ago.

In her role, Cardella is responsible for the vendor management and project management offices. On a day-to-day basis, that might mean making sure that the departments within Technology have the process, tools and services available to execute their projects whether that be internal initiatives or an award show.

“I’m not the project manager delivering the solution,” she explains. “I’m making sure they have the right agile project management tools for both planning and execution. I oversee the greater portfolio.”

Cardella considers herself “in love” with “agile methodology”—a disciplined, project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.

There are several different software methodologies thatcan achieve this. Cardella is an ardent fan of Lean Six Sigma,a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste. The training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through the belt-based training system—white belts, yellow belts, green belts, black belts and master black belts— similar to judo.

Earlier in her career, she acquired her Green Belt and then continued to earn more certifications. “It was really important to me and I paid for it on my own.”

She brought the green belt course to Viacom. “I want people to recognize that we want to invest in them. At the end of the day, it’s the people who make the company.”

Cardella volunteers as a mentor to young women today and is looking forward to volunteering in co-ordination with Viacom as a part of Girls Who Code, a national mentoring program in the US meant to encourage young women to consider technology as a career.

“Tech jobs are part of the fastest-growing in the country but girls are being left behind,” she says. “The job is to close the gender gap in technology. I want to help women succeed and to be fully integrated into that.”

The decision for husband and wife to collaborate on a book about process management was a natural one for them. But it wasn’t Boutros’ first book on the subject.

In 2013, Boutros and his mentor, Tim Purdie, published the award-winning book, The Process Improvement Handbook:A Blueprint for Managing Change and Increasing Organizational Performance with McGraw Hill. “It was much more of a textbook about process management,” he explains.

The second, The Basics of Process Improvement, in collaboration with Cardella, came out in 2016. “It’s much more of a practical read. The feedback we’ve received is that it is very easy to use in day-to- day jobs,” says Boutros. This book has also received critical praise, and has been a finalist in both the USA Best Book Awards, and Book Viral Awards, while being nominated for several others.

Working together had its challenges, the largest being how to divide family responsibilities while writing. “Some days I was largely with the kids and other days Jennifer took the lead,” says Boutros. “I think the toughest thing was dealing with the amount of timeit took to write the book with a young family, as we had deadlinesto meet.”

The Basics of Process Improvement was featured at a January 2017 conference with the Process Excellence Network in Orlando, Fla. The couple gave the keynote address. Cardella is also slated to be a panel speaker in April at The Workfront 2017 Leap Conference.

They plan to launch a new book in summer 2017, Agile Process Management. “It won’t be focused on process improvement as much as how a company can be agile—more responsive to needs and changing situations,” says Boutros. “It will be for people who want more innovative and newer methods of product delivery.”

So devoted is the couple to the value of process management that they incorporated it into their wedding planning.

Says Boutros, “We planned a destination wedding in three or four hours. We prioritized, assigned duties, and largely completed any needed tasks within a four-week period.”

“We had sticky notes all over the walls,” says Cardella. “It was our wedding war room.” The wedding went off without a hitch.

This approach has continued into their marriage and daily lives. “We look at every aspect of our family and assess if and how we could improve it. Things like, outsourcing certain household chores such as having groceries delivered directly to buy us more time as a family together. We also use visual management, like having a family board with chores and tasks on it.”

Although Boutros and Cardella are in the same field, Boutros admits that they differ on how rigorous to be about planning. “Jen is more relaxed. She’s accepts shifts and evolution more so than me.I push execution a bit much sometimes.”

“I know when to slack off a little,” adds Cardella. “But, he’sthe one who gets us back on the right path. He’s definitely had an excellent influence over my path and I attribute a lot of my success to him.”

The Basics of Process Improvement (CRC Press 2016)  Agile Process Management (CRC Press 2017)  Available on Amazon

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of VIEW, the University of Windsor Alumni Magazine

Western University Alumnus Forging Success on ‘Atypical” Career Path

By Krista Habermehl

If there’s one thing Travis McKenna didn’t want to do with his life, it was work a regular 9-5 job.

A career in aviation seemed anything but traditional, so out of high school he applied, and was accepted to the Commercial Aviation Management (CAM) program in Western’s Faculty of Social Science.

“I wanted a career that was atypical and I thought piloting was the answer for me,” said McKenna, BMOS’15, “but as I learned more about the industry itself, I discovered there were a lot of factors I didn’t like – from the increased automation of planes to the seniority system.”

Although he carried on with flight training in spite of his reservations, McKenna spent his summers dabbling in various entrepreneurial opportunities with friends: first a painting business, then a car detailing venture and, later, an app endeavour he admits failed commercially.

While those experiences showed him there was money to be made outside of a traditional career path, McKenna ended up taking a job in a corporate setting after finishing flight training.

“Even if you know you want to work for yourself, there’s a lot of external pressure – from your parents, from your program, from your friends. There’s a lot of pressure to go the normal route. I found it very hard.”

It was a repeat concussion injury, however, that forced him to reconsider his options.

“The job (post university) was intense. The hours were long – 12 to 14 hour days sometimes – and I just couldn’t do it. It was really hard on me and at the end of my contract, I had to call it quits.”

This turn of events gave McKenna the freedom to pursue a different path, and he joined a group of friends from Western who had recently launched an e-commerce bracelet venture, called Wrist & Rye. The company sells accessories and markets itself as a “social lubricant company,” tying its product line to names of popular drinks. Its purpose is “to deliver intoxicatingly beautiful accessories that incite social conversations,” according to the Wrist & Rye website.

“When no one was expecting anything of me, I was able to work for myself and make my own hours. I could bring a lot of expertise and knowledge. As my health started to get better, I took on more and more responsibility with the company,” he said.

Today, McKenna is the company’s CEO, a role he formally stepped into in April of 2016. Since that time, he’s worked to legitimize the business, establishing supply line management, inventory, manufacturing, legal and accounting systems.

In addition, he brought the company to Western’s Propel Entrepreneurship – an initiative that provides co-working space, mentorship, seed funding and acts as an advocate for local startups in the community.

McKenna said assistance and expertise from Propel helped the company navigate rough waters and set them up for success at a time when a major dispute between the company’s partners had the potential to implode the business.

“We pretty much have Propel to thank for helping us through the transition. When you’re a struggling entrepreneur, no one gives you respect. Propel helped legitimize the path. Instead of saying I was working on my business, I could say my business is part of an ‘accelerator’ that believes in us and is giving us grant funding. It legitimized it. Even my parents were proud of me.”

McKenna said the financial support Wrist & Rye received, as well as access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, through Propel was priceless.

“They held us to our milestones. We learned a ton from the workshops,” he said. “It also gave us a network of people who were doing the same things. People our age, all in different stages of business, but working toward the same thing and going through the same struggles.”

Since the launch of the company, the majority of bracelet sales – in the range of 50,000 – have been online through organic and celebrity marketing. Wrist & Rye has recently landed a wholesale contract, signed with a Canada-wide sales team and is now selling its product in select retail stores. These changes have the company poised to make sales in the hundreds of thousands range, said McKenna.

The company also sells a special bracelet, called the “Mustang” at The Book Store at Western, which provides students with a $10 Uber gift card when they purchase the product. The goal is to encourage students to make safe choices and avoid drinking and driving.

“We really want to take a proactive stance on students drinking responsibly,” said McKenna. “We’re hoping that if the bracelet is successful at Western and has an impact, we’ll roll out the concept nationwide.”

While McKenna admitted he finds it odd when aspiring entrepreneurs ask for his advice, since Wrist & Rye hasn’t quite attained commercial success, he does have a few words of wisdom to impart: “Start a business when you’re at school. It’s the perfect place. You have a large social network. A test market. School resources. There is no better time than university to start a business.

“The other thing is, don’t wait for that perfect idea. That million-dollar idea is never going to just come to you. Get to work on an idea. Learn a lot. Don’t get emotionally attached and blow all your money. Just start working away and you’ll learn. Then find a job close to, or in a similar field as your idea, so you can get mentorship and get paid to learn.”

Wrist & Rye bracelets are available at The Book Store at Western, or online at wrist-rye.com.

Posted with permission, Western News

Canadian Cool: Illbury and Goose putting the hip back in the Great White North

by Jason Winders

Everybody has that story – that time at a cottage, that time at the beach, that time where waves lapped at your toes while a bonfire warmed your back. Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips want you to remember those times every time you think of their brand.

 “We want to be a Canadian heritage brand, a lifestyle brand meant for every Canadian,” Kraft said. “People want to be proud to be Canadian, but they don’t want a tacky T-shirt to do it in. We have given them that opportunity to be cool and hip and trendy and socially responsible – all things Canadians are.”

Kraft, BSc’14 (Animal Behaviour), along with Phillips, a Fanshawe College graphic design graduate, are the creators of Illbury and Goose, a Canadian clothing and lifestyle company.

Today, the company is gaining attention not only for its style, but for its commitment to produce clothing, accessories and apothecary items for Canadian in Canada, all toward a mission of taking the definition of Canadian beyond “campfires and dogsleds.”

And it all started a handful of years ago with a couple of T-shirts.

In 2012, a gap in the “cool, unique products for guys” space led Phillips to design their first handful of shirts – one design showing a skull among geometric shapes, another bombers dropping wasps from their bays. They were cool, but perhaps not as deep as some thought.

“People thought we were sending this huge, huge political message,” Phillips laughed. “Honestly, we just thought they looked cool. I really just wanted a shirt with a skeleton on it.”

And so did a lot of other people.

The company – then known as dpms (Dan Phillips Media Studio) – was a face-to-face business from the start. It grew thanks to hustle and chutzpa.

Customers connected with them over a rented table at the Western Fair Farmers and Crafts Market or countless summer festivals across the region. Strangers came by the pair’s apartment to pick up orders. They sold beaded bracelets straight off their wrists in bars around town.

“We pretty much traveled anywhere where we could influence people in short time spurts. It was such a cool thing. We got to test market our product in this really organic way,” Kraft said. “We never forced it; there was no plan. We did something, people liked it and we decided to keep doing that.”

As the company grew in popularity, so did the product line – hats, leather goods, even personal care and apothecary items.

The breakthrough came when they were recruited into Biz Inc. (now Propel), Western’s business accelerator, and opened a popup store in the basement of the University Community Centre in November 2012. “That was the most inspirational, most important thing that ever happened to me at Western,” Kraft said.

The following academic year, she deepened her connection to Biz Inc. She lived there in many ways, using the space to study and work on the business. Today, Kraft credits John Pollock, former Director of Biz Inc., for the company’s biggest push.

“Our business would not be the same without him. He really started pushing us to figure out who we were, what we wanted to do,” she said of the man she still calls “one of my greatest mentors.” “We were forced to write our business plan, create some goals and really figure out our company’s values. We didn’t know any of that going in because it was an experiment until then.

“All of the pieces started connecting together at that point.”

In 2014, Kraft and Phillips won the Seed Your Startup competition and used the prize money to incorporate the business. With incorporation came a name change as the dpms name was shared with an American gun manufacturer.

Enter Illbury and Goose, a name honouring businesses run by their grandparents, Illbury Furs in Woodstock, Ont., and The Country Goose in Strathroy, Ont.

“We feel it is a really, strong Canadian heritage name. I feel like it could be comparable to Abercrombie and Fitch. It sounds so Canadian; the history behind the brand is unbelievable. That has led us to what Illbury and Goose is,” Kraft said.

Today, the company continues to sell via its website, illburyandgoose.com, and now boasts two physical locations, one opened at 884 Dundas Street in London in August 2015, a second on Queen Street West in Toronto in August 2016.

The signature product is its logo, a maple leaf fused to the top of an anchor. Not only is it the top-selling item, but it ‘anchors’ the company’s brand story better than any other single item.

“We get to hear these amazing stories from our customers wearing the brand around the world,” Kraft said. “It is absolutely crazy. We were selling T-shirts in a park and from our house, and four years later, we have all this.”

This article appeared in the Fall2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission.

An Inside Look at Tara Oram Interiors

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Not so long ago, Tara Oram’s career consisted of “50 percent music and 50 percent television”. After her run on Canadian Idol in 2007, Oram had her own reality show, The Tara Diaries which chronicled her journey as a country singer/songwriter. She also went on to be a judge for other singing competitions and has released two albums, Chasing the Sun and Revival.

However, Tara said that she can now be found, “coming up with design concepts, colour schemes, shopping for furniture pieces/accessories and finding inspiration…” during a typical day in her new career as an Interior Designer. While still pursuing her education, she is also the proud owner of Tara Oram Interiors, located in Gander, Newfoundland.

“Music will always be my happy place, as it is for so many, but, at the moment, I'm solely focused on my new business. It's all a part of the creative process and I'm always listening to music while I'm working…. I left the music industry three years ago, and just this past year, I went back to school for another passion of mine, which is Interior Design” Tara explained.

“The only real transition from music to interior design was when I actually started my design business. That's when it became real for me…. I had always decorated for family and friends, but never took it seriously. My family always told me that I had an eye for it, so one day, I took it to the next level -- I went back to school and started my business.” Tara mentioned that much of her childhood was spent watching Martha Stewart on television, which is where she got her inspiration “for all things regarding the home”.

As she got older, Tara also became fascinated with the designs of people like Debbie Travis, Candace Olsen, Sarah Richardson and the late Chris Hyndman. “[They] were designers that I had always watched on TV…. Sarah Richardson's concepts are perfection. She always has a beautiful balance of traditional, contemporary and cozy with her work.” Tara’s own style may have been influenced the most by Richardson, however she credits all of these professionals with “training” her eye for design. By following in their footsteps, Tara has felt very fulfilled with this career:

“What I love about my job as an Interior Designer, is that I get to make people's every day environments not only beautiful, but functional and organized.” Tara enjoys doing things by hand, which includes creating floral arrangements and accessories. “I strive to make a client's design budget go as far as I can, with creating things myself and creating a space that is to unique to them, while putting my personal touch on the space” she continued.

 “My most rewarding experience so far, has been going into clients’ homes and them saying to me, ‘I just don't think there's anything that can be done and I don't enjoy my home anymore’. Once I'm finished, the look on their faces is worth every hard-working minute spent. There's no greater satisfaction than to have someone enjoy their home. My business motto is ‘Making your house feel like a home’ and I've always believed that a person’s living environment is a reflection on all other aspects of their lives. I believe that an unorganized home is an unorganized mind. Your home should be your escape from the everyday world-- a place that you can unwind and feel at peace.”

Throughout her life, Tara has lived in Newfoundland and Ontario and has incorporated the unique qualities of each province into her work: “I was born in Newfoundland, but raised over half of my life in Ontario. I grew up in Brampton, just outside of Toronto, but fell in love with local agricultural land. My favourite pastime was to get in my car, drive and find small towns and visit their antique/country shops. This gave me my love of country living and decor. I love eclectic design and rustic pieces, and especially refinishing antique pieces.”

When I moved back to Newfoundland, I fell in love with how organic my surroundings were. Old untouched boat sheds, churches and Salt Box houses became my new favourite things to photograph (I also love photography and it is another one of my pastimes) and [they] also gave me new design inspiration.

According to Tara, choosing between her passions is the struggle of her life! “My friends and family call me the ‘Jill of all trades’, and sometimes it's hard to choose one passion and stick with it. I've always liked to dip my fingers in different things, but you have to go with what you're good at. Sometimes, it chooses you! (Even if it's more than one thing!)” Interior Design has chosen Tara Oram and she has many long term goals and dream projects that will take several years to complete:

“Oh! I have so many ideas, that some nights, I can't shut my brain off! One is to open my own little country store. I have the concept and name, but I need to figure out where I'm going to live for at least 10 years, to open it! Another idea I have, is to open a small, 5-10 cabin oceanfront resort in my beautiful, native Newfoundland. It would be important for me to design the resort with local inspiration and tradition, in my own unique concept.”

To see how these and many other ideas will unfold, please visit Tara Oram Interiors on Facebook. You can also connect with Tara here and on Twitter

The Girl with a Passion for Fashion: Nicole Snobelen

By Veerta Singh, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

nicole.jpg

When Nicole Snobelen was 8 years old, her Nanny gave her a designer game where she could draw and color outfits. Nicole knew right then and there that this was something she wanted to do with the rest of her life and she made her dream a reality!  Nicole Snobelen is the owner and designer of Evelynn by Nicole Snobelen and the Founder of the Abby Girl Fund. She studied Fashion Design at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario during the years of 2009 – 2012.

Evelynn is a Canadian fashion line based in London. The collection is targeted towards young women who love to stand out in a crowd! Nicole also founded The Abby Girl Fund, a fundraiser that started in 2015 to help lift the spirits of girls suffering from illness. Volunteers with the Abby Girl Fund visit girls in the hospital and work with them to design and colour their dream dress. In the days that follow, they secretly fabricate the identical design and make the young girl’s dream dress come to life. A few days later, they surprise each girl with her very own custom dress!

Prior to seeing her dreams come to fruition, Nicole indulged herself in many different experiences that really gave her a better sense of the fashion world and helped her get to where she is today. She was the marketing captain at The London Tap house, where she was put in charge of customer relations, marketing the business, running Friday nights, planning events and getting people involved with the company. She also trained new employees – both servers and members of the marketing team. 

Nicole also assisted fashion designers at Toronto Fashion Week, where she furthered her knowledge in the fashion industry. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, Nicole put together over 23 fashion shows to raise money for charity organizations like The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes, Lupus Canada, Cystic Fibrosis, and MS Research.

So what does a day in the life of Nicole Snobelen look like? “Being an entrepreneur, I typically start working when I open my eyes and, until I close them, I am never really not working—I am my business. I start my day off by checking and replying to emails, followed by updating social media outlets. This usually includes updating my website, prepping orders to be sent out and mailing them. I try to get in 3 to 5 hours of sewing—new inventory or custom work. Some days I schedule trips to the fabric stores. I like to set aside an hour a day to spend time on the Abby Girl Fund submissions—whether that would be patterns, making the design they came up with or actually putting it into production to sew”.

Nicole says that four things are very important when working in this field. “Passion is so important. If you’re going to run your own business, you need to love and be passionate about what you are doing”. She stresses that patience is also key because you cannot expect to be successful right away—things take time to grow. Dedication is also important. “It not only takes a lot of work to create a job where there wasn’t one, but to actually wear every “hat“ (run and control every part) in your business from the start can take a lot out of you. I have sacrificed a lot of things in my journey, like having a fixed income. When I first started Evelynn, I was living dress to dress in order to get where I am today”. Last, but not least, creativity. The fashion industry is very competitive and you need to be able to find inspiration easily.

The reason Nicole is involved with fashion design is because her favourite thing to do is brighten people’s days or bring them out of their situation. “I am very passionate about what I am doing and who I have become in the process. I wanted to use my talents to help people, which is why I started the Abby Girl Fund. I use my gift to brighten the days of little children going through a hard time. To not only see, but be a part of putting a smile on the children’s face, it fills me with so much joy. I can honestly say I have the best job I could ever imagine. I get to wake up every day and live my dream, choose the people I want to work with and be a part of something amazing that I created”.

Nicole has some great advice for people who are relatively new in the workforce. “Don’t give up on your dream! Things will get tough and you will feel discouraged but if this is your dream, fight for it! Listen to people; you can learn something from everyone you meet. Be a good person and help people when you can”.

To see some of Nicole’s fantastic work from Evelynn, visit her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/EvelynnByNicoleSnobelen/

To get more information on the Abby Girl Fund, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/abbygirlF/

 

Stylerunner: Julie & Sali’s Fashion Story

Another entrepreneurial sibling story!  Australian twins Julie and Sali were looking for workout clothing with fashion and style – all in one online shop.    Finding nothing that fit the bill, they made some decisive career moves and launched Stylerunner!  Sylvia Pennington tells their inspiring fashion story!

“…It was a business opportunity that couldn’t be passed up, says Julie Stevanja, who was living in London at the time. She packed in her job with a film streaming technology start-up and hotfooted it home to Sydney to team up with sister Sali, a recruitment consultant, in getting the venture off the ground.”

For more about Julie and Sali, have a look here and here.

Enrich and Endure: Sarah & Lorcan’s Story

Love this story of designer / entrepreneurs, Sarah and Lorcan, the 20-something Irish brother and sister duo who took career path U-turns to revive – and reinvent ­– the production of gorgeous Irish linen in their hometown.  Karl West describes their inspiring journey

“…brother and sister Lorcan and Sarah Quinn aim to breathe new life into the sector with  their fabric firm, Enrich and Endure. They want to carve out a niche at the top end of the market by eschewing the traditional, starched textiles of rivals and wooing a younger generation with snazzy designs and colourful fabrics.”

For more about, Sarah and Lorcan, check out here and here.  

 

A path to make-up artistry…

By Monica Pavez

Goblins. Werewolves. Aliens and beauty queens. Pretty much any character’s look you can think of in any movie (or TV series) has been created or worked on by a makeup or special effects artist. If the job has been right, you won’t even notice the immense amount of work that has been done.

Growing up, like most other people, I didn’t really give much thought to the people working behind the scenes to bring stories to life on stage or screen.  I knew of course that there must be people who’s job it was to make movies, but it seemed like this unrealistic dream job that a few lucky people got to do. Like oyster divers or panda cub babysitters, we can’t all do that for a living. Not to mention, how does one learn those jobs? Do you need schooling, or can you learn on the job? Do you have to know someone who can get you “in”?

Towards the end of my high school career, I, like the rest of my classmates, was feeling the pressure to decide on a postsecondary program.  I had been an artisitic person my whole life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would be a good artist. The problem was that when I started to go over the university materials and programs lists, nothing really jumped out at me. I decided instead to enroll in a 2 year art program at H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, where I could take arts courses that were in many cases equal to or better than taking the equivalents at an arts college. After graduating from that program, I worked for a while before deciding that I could see myself doing costuming work for theatre as a career. I applied to the Fashion Techniques and Design Program at George Brown in Toronto, intending to specialize in Costume Design afterwards.  The program wasn’t quite for me, and I ended up dropping out. I spent the next several years working a few different jobs, but still feeling like I was waiting for the next phase of my life to start. I knew I wanted to go to postsecondary school, but I was at a complete loss as to what I should study. 

Around what is now roughly two and half years ago, I began to hear about a school in Toronto called C|MU College of Makeup Art & Design. It was and is a private college that offers courses and programs for aspiring makeup artists. My girlfriend at the time knew someone who was attending the school, and so I booked a tour and info session at the school.  Almost as soon as I finished the tour I knew that I had finally found what I was looking for in a school. It would give the skills, techniques, and contacts I would need to become a successful makeup artist. I immediately applied to the school, and I was accepted into their Complete Makeup Artist Program, which gives you a two-year equivalent diploma and you learn everything from beauty and fashion makeup to makeup for theatre and film, as well as prosthetic and creature makeup. During the program I was able to gain experience in the field by way of the job posting board that the school oversees.

I graduated from the program in early June, and am now in the process of building my freelance portfolio and hopefully a career as a makeup artist for film. If I learned anything over the years while trying to figure out my life, it is that you have to know yourself. Know what you are good at and what you are not; know what you do want out of your career and what you don’t. It will at the very least help rule out what you don’t want to study. I guess most of all, don’t panic, everyone has their own path to take!

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The Right Fit: BCom grad Kendall Barber finds startup success with Poppy Barley, a made-to-measure boot design company

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Think of a great idea, turn it into a business and spend your days passionately serving that idea—it’s a task on any entrepreneur’s bucket list. Kendall Barber’s (BCom ’05) boot design company, Poppy Barley (poppybarley.com), is undoubtedly a product of this vision. However, it is only after recounting the story of how she came to design handcrafted footwear, that this wide-eyed fashionista suddenly morphs into a seasoned executive, reminding us of the difference between those who simply draft bucket lists, and others who stomp on said bucket to hoist their way to the top. Kendall Barber is in the latter category.

The light bulb moment came shortly after Kendall’s younger sister Justine Barber travelled to Bali last February. When a local shoe store associate casually asked if she wanted to be measured for a custom pair of boots when in-store sizes didn’t fit, she was in awe. Justine returned to Alberta and shared her experience with Kendall, and they began to investigate whether custom-made footwear was something Canadian shoppers might appreciate.

After combing through survey results and focus group data, Kendall and Justine found that over 60 per cent of women struggle to find boots that fit properly. They also learned that a large number of shoe manufacturers that supply the U.S. are based in León, Mexico. The sisters decided it was time for some first-hand research. “We ultimately made the decision to buy plane tickets, go there and figure it out,” says Kendall. “We were two girls from Canada with an idea, looking for a partner who believed in us enough to commit to making some samples.”

Kendall and Justine eventually formed a relationship with a manufacturer willing to work with their requirements, such as using an eco-friendly tannery and monitoring where the materials came from. Environmental concerns have always been important to the sisters, as has maintaining a close connection with suppliers and employees in León. This is what pushes them to make frequent trips south, instead of relying only on email and Skype.

Named after poppy seeds and barleycorns, the original elements used to make made-to-measure footwear, Poppy Barley launched in November 2012. With prices starting from $450, the company strives to supply handmade boots that fit perfectly and are built to last, while providing exceptional customer service.

Poppy Barley has been open for less than a year and Kendall says the experience has been a whirlwind. That said, she is reluctant to take credit for the company’s initial success. “I think that sometimes the founders of companies get too much credit. I feel like there have been so many people that have made Poppy Barley what it is today.”

Some of Kendall’s biggest supporters have been fellow UVic business alumni she has kept in touch with since graduating. Many of these colleagues have been valuable resources while getting Poppy Barley off the ground. Kendall is glad to have chosen the UVic program—smaller class sizes allowed her to form these lasting relationships with her classmates. “I went to school with some amazing people who have gone on to be incredibly successful entrepreneurs,” she says.

Judging from the enthusiasm of Poppy Barley fans, avid followers on social media platforms and the decision to expand the product line in the upcoming months, it is safe to say that Kendall can now count herself as a successful entrepreneur—one who will keep checking off items on her bucket list.

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in Business Class Magazine, a publication of the Gustavson School of Business

Making a Splash: The Entrepreneurial Story of DrawSplash

By Shirley Chen

A friend of mine once jokingly said that the most successful place to produce prominent business leaders is in a garage.  And, surprisingly, the founders of some of the most successful businesses, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, and Google did start their initial operations in their own garages.

Similar to those success stories, the co-founders of DrawSplash, Gary Rodrigues and Hyunbin Lee, two ambitious business students, started their company as a small scale T-shirt printing operation in their garages in London, Ontario. Within three years, they quickly learned about the entire distribution network and challenged the inefficiencies in the industry. They have now transformed their original operation into a one-stop solution to schools’ merchandising needs, offering a much simpler and more user friendly ordering system to their customers.

When the operation first started in 2009, Gary and Hyunbin had very little help, so the two of them were in charge of every aspect of the operation - ranging from acquiring sales contracts to printing T-shirts. Leveraging their social network on campus, the two best friends first secured orders from student clubs; then they were able to gain orders from student councils and eventually became the supplier for Western University’s Orientation Week.  

Since the transition from a small printing company to the current version of DrawSplash, the tasks of everyday work have changed for the two founders. As the company grew, so did the need for more high-level coordination and leadership. Now on a typical workday, Gary and Hyunbin are likely to be booking meetings and talking to team members, and occasionally traveling to various cities for sales meetings.

When asked to reflect upon the best part of his job, Gary replied that it’s “[the] freedom and the satisfaction from being responsible for your own success” and knowing that “[you are in] total control over your future”. Indeed, unlike many office jobs students get after graduation, where much time could be spent idling, the job of an entrepreneur requires the two founders to be highly focused. They spend every minute of their working hours trying to be efficient and productive in order to reach their goals.

Although experience is not necessarily required to be an entrepreneur, Gary recommended starting early. By starting while still in school, you will have something to fall back on if your business tanks. Additionally, starting early will give you the ability to learn about the industry before fully committing yourself to it. One of the perks of being a student entrepreneur is that you could talk directly to your competitors and find out what they are doing without being perceived as a threat or as a serious competition.

Finally, some direct advice given by Gary: “Make sure you are doing what you want to be doing. Think about the job you are in and see if you would do it for less pay. If you’re doing it only for the paycheque, it’s not going to be worth it.”