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Behind the Scenes

Unpacking after 99U – Part 1

It’s been a little over a week since I left for New York City to attend the 99U Conference but it feels like a lifetime. I had such a great time exploring not only the city but also the far flung reaches of the other folks who identify themselves as being part of the design/creative industry. I’ve tried to organize my thoughts into two parts  – the City and the Conference. This is only a peek into everything I took away from both but I hope it sheds some light on an amazing few days.

Part 1 | The City

I made sure to arrive a couple of days before the conference to give me a little time to get out and explore as best as I can. Some of my goals included meeting up for dinner and drinks with a great client, Ty, from Dr. Harvey’s, sitting down with Steven from Brooklyn Roasting, and wandering through Brooklyn in search of amazing shops and packaging design – all of which I accomplished.

Dinner & Drinks

Getting to know clients on a human level is so important so when you have an opportunity to unplug and just discuss life over food and drinks you jump on it. We started at Westville East – a great little restaurant in the East Village. From there we ended up at the Summit Bar, another East Village establishment. I was amazed at the creativity exhibited in the cocktails. Ingredients from all over the board. We ended the evening at The Wayland, a great little juke joint that made this southern boy feel right at home. We discussed current projects, got some work done, but also got to learn a lot about each other which I believe is helpful when I need to do my job solving problems for his company.

Brooklyn Roasting

My first stop in Brooklyn was with Steven Jewett, bookkeeper(among many other things) for Brooklyn Roasting. Steven showed me around the roastery and gave me a unique peek into the business, all while I sipped on a cortado – my new favorite coffee drink. I was able to hang around and watch the roaster run and chat with some other patrons about their love for Brooklyn Roasting. —insert pics—-These folks are beyond successful and do a great job bringing the gospel of great coffee to the masses. I was able to glean a lot of learnings to bring to my client, Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters.

Brooklyn & Beyond

After getting properly caffeinated and devising my final game plan I hit the streets in search of cool markets and packaging. My first stop was just checking out the views:

After wandering around like a legit tourist I made my way to Foragers – a really cool market with a ton of interesting products from Brooklyn and all over. I went way over my R&D budget buying up innovative coffee, granola, and chocolate packaging just to name a few. The interior of Foragers is really inspiring too with a great aesthetic and vibe letting everything speak for itself.

 

I wandered farther down into Brooklyn and found The Greene Grape – another great market. The store design was really nice and each department had its own vibe. I picked up some pretty and tasty goods and sat out on a bench in front and chatted with Brooklynites having their lunch and hearing their perspective on their neighborhood and the kinds of products they find themselves buying these days. Ginger shots kept popping up so who knows- that might be the next big thing.

 

The rest of the time in the city was spent attending the conference (see Part 2) and taking short little trips on foot – here’s a few of my favorites:

Great Coffee Shops:

Lucky Goat

Annex | The Greene Grape

Rex Coffee

Favorite Lunch Place:

The Meatball Shop

Favorite Area to Wander:

Central Park

Favorite Bar:

The Wayland

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss the conference and some of the takeaways I learned.

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

This is a series of posts about our recent website redesign. Click the links below to learn all about it. 

Every project starts with the simple words: “I’ve been thinking- we should…” or something along those lines and then grows exponentially from there. In our case it was “We should redesign our site.” To which we thought no problem! We’re designers – we can do this in our sleep. Plus it’s our own site! How hard can it be? Well it turns out quite hard.

Redesigning a site is not just a logistical decision that’s made, its also a deep down almost spiritual, inward looking path that is taken that requires some soul searching. We asked ourselves questions like: Who are we? Why do we exist? How do we present ourselves to the outside world? How do we present our work? These and many other questions are important to think about when you have this opportunity to refresh your look online.

When we started investigating who Buttermilk is we started to finesse certain aspects of our studio’s personality. We’ve always thought of ourselves as a “packaging design studio” – but what does that really mean? Well to us it makes perfect sense, but to many of the folks we met out networking it wasn’t clear what “packaging” actually is. Is it the substrate products go into? Are we product designers? Are we printers? So we tried to really dig down to the heart of what we do and that is:

“Helping brands speak to customers from the shelf.”

We really feel like this statement sums up the work we create at Buttermilk. And speaking to customers isn’t just limited to a product on a grocery shelf. All brands have “customers” and a “shelf” they sit upon and whether we’re collaborating with you to create a logo, a website, or our favorite; packaging design, we will help you speak clearly.

We also looked at how our work is presented and wanted a more uniform and elegant display of our portfolio. We pour a lot of heart and soul into our work and want to make sure we’re putting the best face out there for each piece.

So as you can see the decision to redesign your site is not one to take lightly or without preparation but if you use it as an opportunity to refine your presentation and your message it’ll be a success!

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss putting together a great team to help with the epic undertaking of a redesign!

Welcome to our new site!

Its been a long hard road but we finally have arrived at our destination and have a redesigned site! It took a lot of time, energy, and effort from not only us but helpful friends in the community. Over the next few posts we’ll share insights into the redesign process, what’s new on the site, spotlights on our collaborators, and other bits of knowledge we’ve gained on this journey. We want to share all of this because we feel like it will be helpful for folks thinking about heading down the redesign road.

Below are the sections we’ll be covering over the next few weeks:

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

Part 2: The process behind the redesign

Part 3: The importance of assembling a good team

Part 4: Spotlight: Our developer and domain host

Part 5: Spotlight: The importance of amazing photography

Part 6: Learnings

As you can see we’ve got a lot of ground to cover but we’re excited to share this experience with you. Our blog is a weekly post so look out for new posts every Monday morning.

Enjoy!

BUTTERMILK GOES TO BOSTON – PART 2

“Buttermilk Goes to Boston” is a four part blog post about our journey to speaking at this year’s The Dieline Conference. We’ll post an update every month leading up to May when we finally head north to present “Oops, I Became a Packaging Designer” at the conference.

Click here to read Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 1

If any of you have ever been in situations which involve public speaking on a large scale (even on a small scale), then you may understand the wave of terror and excitement that washes over you and submerges you leading up to the event. We started riding that wave as soon as we got the phone call and the nod from Andrew and Ivan (of the Dieline).

Are Andy and I excited? Oh yeah, for sure! Are we also terrified and nervous? You bet. And even though we had a defined topic and a description of what we want to address in our presentation, we still need to come up with the details and organize our thoughts and create a presentation around it all. Not to mention the task of figuring out how to make all of that information interesting and most importantly helpful to the hundreds, if not thousands(maybe? who knows?) of faces that will be glaring back at us. *gulp*

So, we shut ourselves away in a room for a couple of hours and began to really look at our design process. How we interact with packaging design. Where we get hung up, where we thrive and how we can ultimately be better. We emerged with some solid direction, an outline and a really great idea… it involves Bruce Springsteen. And, that’s all we can share at this point.

But, do you remember that wave we talked about a few minutes ago? The wave of emotion that takes you from terrified to excited, from paralyzed to heart-racing? We are experiencing the whole gamut as we prepare for this conference. Coming up with the major outline for our presentation gave us a giddy high. We let out a big sigh of relief. Even though we are not even half way done with the work we need to do, we are feeling more and more prepared every day.

Click here to read Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 3

Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 1

“Buttermilk Goes to Boston” is a four part blog post about our journey to speaking at this year’s The Dieline Conference. We’ll post an update every month leading up to May when we finally head north to present “Oops, I Became a Packaging Designer” at the conference.

When we first saw the call for proposals for the 2014 Dieline Conference we didn’t really think too much of it. We had the amazing opportunity to speak in 2012 at the very same conference and didn’t think we had much of a chance to present again. We had a blast presenting, but also really enjoyed attending in 2013 as spectators. But something deep inside of us said “Go! Send in an idea!” So we decided to try once again to speak at our favorite conference.

Our initial ideas weren’t very good, or should I say MY initial ideas weren’t very good. I usually need a little reigning in. Then Alex had a brilliant notion of how most of us become packaging designers out of the blue without a whole lot of training or guidance. Whether its the case, like us, where your company was working with an outside agency and decided to give you one of those packaging projects, and you did a great job, so you got more and more until packaging design eats up a lot of your daily work. Or maybe you sought out a career in packaging design and were lucky enough to find that dream job. But for most of us, it just happened. I remember listening to Andrew Gibbs (founder of The Dieline) speaking to Debbie Millman on her Design Matters Podcast about how theres no “Packaging Design” Major in college. If you’re lucky enough to design packaging, you learn on the job and through real world experiences.

Brainstorming about great session topics got us thinking back on our first HOW conference in 2009. What kind of presentations were most inspiring to us? What type of session do we think attendees would find most inspiring/enlightening/useful and able to relate to? What do today’s designers need to hear?

We settled on this idea of the “accidental packaging designer” hoping attendees will be able to relate if they, like us, are struggling to find their voice, be heard, make a mark and figure it all out. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we do love to share our story and inspire other designers to go for “it”. Whether “it” is taking on the packaging design that your company is currently outsourcing or starting your own business or presenting at the biggest packaging design conference in the USA!

So, Ivan and Andrew loved our idea. So much, in fact that even though the presentation time slots were already booked, they managed to make a spot for us (insert major ego boost here). After quite a bit of back and forth about whether our topic was more suited for a workshop or a general session, Andrew and Ivan got on the phone with us and formally invited us to present our topic as the opening session for The Dieline Conference.  

I think our exact words were “Ohmygosh… WOW….are you sure?!” Followed by a series of “yesses” and “thank yous”. If Andrew and Ivan, the experts in our field, had faith in us, then how could we not put every bit of ourselves into this presentation? And so it begins, the preparation of the presentation.

Stay tuned for:
Buttermilk Goes to Boston: Part 2
What in the world are we presenting?

Click here to read Part 2