Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interwoven Threads blog is live

I launched the Do Better Blog this week. Check it out. Comment. Tell me what you think. Add it to your blogroll.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thank you, Iceland

Dustin posted on Reyka Vodka's new website, which i am enjoying the heck out of as i eat my lunch (and wishing i had a nice, heavy cocktail glass with a few cubes of ice to pour some vodka into). i'm a believer that the little things make a big difference for brands...from integrating brand personality into the subtlest of places to infusing a website with copy that tells an unwavering brand story. Reyka does this darn near perfectly. explore this site - you'll treat your eyes to some amazing copywriting and brand storytelling. the site is the adult-beverage version of the masterful glaceau site.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why give back? Because if feels good.

seriously! check out this report, via Citizen Brand, on why it feels good to do good. if you're looking for a reason to give to charity, or just give of yourself, well, we've got some biological back-up now. love it.

in the same do-betta vein is a great post from the always-on olivier blanchard at Brandbuilder (olivier, you're gettin' some link love this week.): olivier posts on a great site, which i've been enjoying for a while: Design for the other 90%. moreover, he ends his post with a poignant question: "what are you working on today?" ouch. that sting you feel is reality.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Brand erosion

olivier blanchard's brandbuilder blog put one of my biggest brand pet peeves into the blogsphere very eloquently today: brand erosion...check it out. olivier puts it this way: "Every company I've ever worked with (or for) that shifted its focus from innovation and market leadership to playing it safe and letting their competitors take chances with new technologies, designs or business endeavors saw their brands erode faster than beach-front property in a hurricane."

do you work with such brands? or worse yet, people? the sheep-like folks who invest crazy amounts time and money in following and patching holes, rather than leading and building.

the only group of people who react more strongly to brand erosion than agency folks are consumers. scary thought, but it's true. we can get all riled up when clients stay in the right lane, when we propose a helluva ride (or even just a quick sprint) in the passing lane. at the end of the day though, at the store register, consumers pass by those brands at lightening speed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I'll see Once, again and again

i saw the movie Once last night and it was simply amazing. i really don't know how to describe how great this movie is, you just need to see it. the kansas city star gave it four stars in a good review here.

the plot is pretty simple: street-performing songwriter (and daytime vacuum repairman) who isn't given a name in the film meets a czech woman (also without a name). using her broken hoover as a catalyst to hang around him, they end up finding their musical lives fit perfectly together: his guitar and songwriting and her piano playing and singing. within the first 10 minutes, the film features one of the most raw, emotional and beautiful scenes i've seen in a long time and the audience seems to settle in to the fact that it is now going to be rewarded for choosing Once over Silver Surfer or Knocked Up. check out the trailer (won't ruin the ending!) - the scene i speak of is shown about halfway through (the two of them playing together in the music store).

Once does everything differently, from its non-formulaic screenplay to its continuous soundtrack, which works better than any movie "musical" format i've seen. it's simply stripped down to the barest of emotions and actions, sounds and expressions. when it ended, no one moved.

"the guy," as he's called, is Glen Hansard and "the girl" is Marketa Irglova (she's only 19, and an established singer songwriter). the movie soundtrack is understandably phenomenal (buy Hansard and Irglova's duets on iTunes by searching for "The Swell Season"). Hansard is of The Frames fame, as is the filmmaker, John Carney.

go see this movie. or, give me a holler and we can go together.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What the world eats

a nice follow-up to my week of eating on a food stamp budget: time magazine's photo essay, what the world eats. the pictures paint a better picture of the world's consumption than words could.

Here are a couple shots:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interwoven Threads

i have been a bit quiet about a side project i've been working on (for almost a year now!), but after a web re-design and updated functionality, i want to share this with my little corner of the blogosphere.

i started a company about six months ago. not to get rich or quit my day job or any such motive, but to experiment with a new type of business model and, simply, to try and make a difference in my community. i found a way to combine some of my passions, and the result is Interwoven Threads.

check out the site to get the meat and potatoes of Interwoven Threads (and to buy!), but here are a couple sidenotes to guide you:
  • Interwoven Threads is built around the mission of looking good and doing better through the simple purchase of a T-shirt. Currently, for each shirt purchased, we donate one shirt to someone who truly needs to be clothed. your purchase encompasses a nifty shirt for you and a quality (and equally nifty) donated shirt.
  • Because of the consumer purchases during the spring's soft launch period, we've already donated about sixty shirts, most of which have gone to reStart, a homeless advocacy organization here in Kansas City. reStart has distributed ALL of these shirts (within a day or two of the donation), so i'm hoping the new website will invigorate another wave of sales. other shirts have been donated to specific individuals because of specific requests. sometimes i just hand out shirts on the street. however it happens, a donation is made per purchase.
  • i hope to introduce two new designs this summer (one pretty soon), and possibly feature shirts of local bands (all of which would have an element of donation). so bookmark the site and check back!
  • the threads are created by emerging artists and printed on 100% organic cotton, American-made T-shirts.
i'm constantly thinking of ways to grow the company's positive impact. i'm networking with good folks across the country to find new ways to donate, aid in or provide a medium for doing better. From working with individual organizations to act as a vehicle for awareness and donation to providing a place to sell clothing to artists and organizations without the means to create an online sales feature, i really see the opportunities to help - by being a hub for empowered consumers - as endless.

building this company has been exciting, scary, stressful, inspirational, all at once. i have learned so much about business and even more about the challenges that small business face and the absolute mountains "green," socially-conscious start-ups can face.

i hope you dig the concept. if you have ideas, feedback or would like to help out in some way, give me a shout. it's an evolving effort, but one i'm excited to share with all of you.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Random weekend thoughts and the Food Stamp Challenge

i was a spectator for the kansas city hospital hill half marathon today. it was hard. i am never going to spectate again...i wanted to run too badly. unable to reconcile my non-half-marathon shape, i biked the route (and more) following friends and cheering them on. it was fun to support people i care about, but it was no match to running it. if i'd have swallowed my pride and just run it - even if my time wouldn't be up to snuff - i would have felt better. life lessons, i guess. the good news is, while riding the sidestreets from downtown to midtown to brookside, i saw some amazing things in my amazing city that i hadn't slowed down to view before.

if you aren't subscribing to good magazine, you should be. i keep being surprised and overwhelmed by the content.

i got completely cut off while riding on mission road on thursday...i'm staring at my bare, bruised and scraped knee right now and wishing i could spend some time with the dork driver who looked me in the eye, then accelerated at a stoplight to cut me off at the turn. i did what i had to do and spilled to the curb. bruised hip and knee, and scrapes to show.

so i bought my weeks worth of groceries today, according to the 38 bucks i had to spend for the Food Stamp Challenge. it was not hard at all, and thanks to harvesters' talented dietician stephanie, who searched the sales and planned meals for the week, i really am not going to eat all that differently from how i normally eat. (minus a bottle of chardonnay for tonight's backyard relaxation session and some dog treats and swiffer refills, i spent 30 bucks flat on food for the week - 8 bucks to go out?)

what i did notice is that with my allotted 38 bucks (the average a Kansas household with one person gets with food stamps), i was basically unable to buy the organic and local food i am used to purchasing at the store. many things i purchased were very healthy and mostly fresh, but none were organic. normally i buy all organic produce and as much cheese/beverage/snacks as i can find. my breakfast cereal is always organic. my snacks - from tortilla chips to salsa - are organic. but i have now, after my food stamp challenge, absolutely nothing organic to eat next week and that freaks me out. i also, according to the rules, am not allowed to drink my organic coffee at home (because it was not purchased according to the plan) and now must drink the bulk we have at the office all week.

this is just not acceptable in my opinion. not only is it not acceptible for my palate and values, it's a pretty clear picture as to why irresponsible companies and practices thrive, while local farmers, organic and socially-conscious companies struggle, and the working poor have no real opportunity to voice what may be very passionate opinions on food quality and food origin.

i'm being careful not to get on a soapbox here. the food stamp challenge taught me that i certainly can eat and be full with the allotted amount - though it's humbling and difficult - but my sense of self is what is stripped away. i am proud of my ability to walk past certain aisles in the store and pay an extra dollar or 50 cents for something that is more in line with my ethical makeup. but when strapped - i just plain can't exercise that power of consumerism. and that - in my opinion - is where the inequality lies.

if you're curious as to what i bought, here's the run down (keep in mind some ingredients will be part of shared meals with other participants). the stars denote what i'd buy in organic form normally:
New potatoes*
Whole chicken*
Jonathan apples*
Rice cereal*
Orange juice*
Soy milk (can't take me from my Silk)
Swiss cheese
Deli turkey
Eggs* (this killed me...normally i buy cage free, responsibly fed)
Diced tomatoes
Baby Portobello mushrooms

This is basically my weekly list, with a lot more fresh produce added and some meat choices, but you can see how many items suffered because of my inability to afford organic versions.

if you aren't registered, there's still time. do this. learn about life outside your own. you're not going to starve. you're not going to get off your diet plan. you just might have to be a bit smarter, more frugal and savvier to reach your goals. and in the process, might be more thankful for what you have to spend on food each week.

the good folks at brains on fire (it's been too long since i posted on their musings) have a great post on client relationships, in particular, on pro-bono work. but the gist of the post speaks to all clients, paying, pro-bono or deadbeat :)) as always, way to stick to your company's ethics, personality and ideals, guys. good things come to those who do good.