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5 Things to Do When Attending the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York

We’re New York City bound for this summer’s Fancy Food Show! Are you? Do you want to go somewhere new while in town for the show? We wanted to share five of our favorite places to visit when we’re in NYC. Try one or a few of these hot spots while you are in town––we promise you won’t regret it!

We would love to meet up during the show and chat about how we can extend your on shelf presence. Click here and we will reach out to set something up!

1. Thea Grant

Whether you are looking for a unique gift to bring home, want a one-of-a-kind statement piece of your own, or want to be inspired––head to Thea Grant in Brooklyn. This charming design-and-lifestyle store is family-run by a talented husband and wife team and offers high end, handmade jewelry and intricate metal pieces. They specialized in uniquely beautiful antique and estate pieces that tell a story, you never know what gem you will find. We could not leave without purchasing a custom stamped brass keychain that they made right in front of us.

BONUS: While in DUMBO, make sure to check out mexican hot spot Gran Eléctrica. We love their fresh eats and unique cocktails, especially on a hot day in the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, sample a few of their speciality tequilas and unwind while dining al fresco.

2. Two Kids and a Dog

While in Brooklyn, stop by Two Kids and a Dog at the Pearl Street Triangle. We stumbled upon this sweet children’s store when searching for the perfect authentic (yet fun) souvenir for our son––a NYC garbage truck toy that was a HUGE hit! The store is perfectly curated with unique toys, children’s clothing, gifts, and speciality items.

3. New York Water Taxi

Looking for a different way to explore the city? Head to the water! The New York Water Taxi to be exact. This is the perfect way to see different parts of the city and its surrounding areas, especially if you are short on time. We suggest buying an all day pass to explore and stop along the way, then hop back on and venture to another part of the city. Our favourite route is to go from Midtown/Hell’s Kitchen to Battery Park to view the exquisite gardens, then head over to South Street Seaport for waterside shopping in unique, restored wharfside buildings from the early 1800’s. From there, we like to head to Brooklyn/DUMBO for some more great shopping and good eats. Then, travel back up to Midtown via the State of Liberty and Ellis Island. Pro tip: bypass the long lines to see the Statue of Liberty, and drive by it while on the water taxi. You get super close and stop for about 10 minutes for some quick photo opportunities. The water taxi guides are very friendly and provide a wealth of knowledge about NYC while ferrying around the city.

If you want to explore art galleries, we love to start at 28th Street in Chelsea and snake our way between 10th and 11th Avenues taking in the different art along the way. The galleries are free to enjoy and most are open Monday through Saturday. Make sure to check out this interactive gallery map to see which artists are showing and plan your trip. The last time we gallery hopped, we happened to stumble upon a Damien Hirst exhibit by spotting one of his famous formaldehyde sharks in the gallery’s front window. Cue fanboy/fangirl moment! You never know whose art you will run into. This is a great way to recharge and get inspired by all of the creativity around you.

It’s hard to believe that the High Line was set to be demolished in the 1990’s! During the 1930’s, the city built this elevated freight rail line above the streets of the West Side in response to the dangers of pedestrians walking on the street level tracks. After dwindling train usage, this space became an unused wasteland. Thankfully, the community pulled together to save this now beautiful 1.45-mile public space that is home to over 500+ species of plants and trees. We love getting fresh air along the greenway and stopping for refreshing treats such as an Italian ice or even pop into a local bar for a quick pint.

We can’t wait to see you at the Summer #FancyFoodShow.

Drop us a line and let’s chat about how we can help amplify your brand’s voice and on shelf presence. Click here to learn more about what we will be doing at the conference or use the form and we’ll reach out to you!

 

Wanting to try somewhere new to grab dinner after the show? Check out our 5 favorite places to eat while in New York.

Want to meet up and talk branding?




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Expo Insights: Our Top 3 Trends from this year’s Expo West

Early in March i made my yearly pilgrimage to Expo West, the largest natural products trade show. I go to discover new products, get inspired by innovative packaging design and meet the amazing folks behind some of our favorite brands. Below is a recap and insights of some of my favorite finds – enjoy!

1. Kombucha is still king (or queen)

We saw (and sampled) a lot of the fizzy stuff. What we’re noticing is flavors are getting more subtle and nuanced and the potent “vinegar” reputation have all but gone away. Kombucha brands are innovating and really growing into their own. This is partly to push the boundaries of how we define kombucha but also to differentiate between the insane amount of brands on the market.

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The packaging design of Better Booch is what caught my eye. The colors were very inviting and looked great as a family. As I sampled the flavors they were all quite tasty but my favorite is Golden Pear flavor. I also really appreciate the use of the boston round bottle (a familiar sight in the category) paired with their solid branding.

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The folks at Flying Embers were great to chat with while I sipped on their tasty Ancient Berry flavor of hard kombucha. Their perspective is as millennials become more and more focused on health and wellness (but still want to have a good time). They’re looking for alternatives to beer – enter hard kombucha – a light fizzy probiotic way to get a buzz. Based on the rising popularity of ciders I think they’re onto something. Design-wise I love their can design with the bold foliage illustrations along the top and bottom of the can.

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Wild Tonic was the first hard kombucha out in the market we sampled at last years Expo so it was fun to check in and see what they’re up to. They highlighted their new seasonal selection: Strawberry Blood Orange – super refreshing and tasty. Wild Tonic’s design is very distinctive and recognizable – from their bold logo to their blue distinct bottle.

2. Unique & ownable vessels

As I walked the show I was stopped in my tracks by some amazing packaging substrates. These ranged from little pots containing plant based yogurt to baby blue powder coated bottles. These brands understand that it’s a crowded and busy world out there and if you want to stand out you need to look different on every level.

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Culina Yogurt was by far my favorite product of Expo. I literally was stopped in my tracks when I saw these little crocks that look like pots for plants. Not only does the little pot look amazing and so different from other yogurts, after you’ve eaten the tasty plant based yogurt you can use it as a planter!

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As I approached the Sunwink Beverage booth I was drawn in by the baby blue bottles assuming they were just full wrap labels. However As I was chatting with them and sampling their tasty tonic I learned they were powder coated! They really went above and beyond with this treatment and it matched their minimal flavor illustrations perfectly. I’m not sure how scalable powder coated bottles are but here’s hoping they can make it work.

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It’s hard to top all the great chocolate bar packaging at Expo however Elements Truffles definitely showcased an innovative but also handmade packaging in their Ayurvedic Inspired Chocolate bars. Embellishing each kraft box is a hand stitched fabric label highlighting the item name and a nice little illustration. Having the hand stitched label really drives home the attention given to their products and their specialty nature.

3. Redesigns

Expo is a great time to spot redesigns and new looks launching and a few caught my eye. What struck me about these particular redesigns is the boldness in each – stepping out of their brand’s comfort zone and creating something that is quite exciting.

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If you are a fan of bitters I’m sure you’ve come across Hella Cocktail Co and their bespectacled bowler hat packaging design. I’ve always enjoyed their old-timey barkeeper look however their redesign is a big jump into a more serious, established brand that is an authority in all things cocktail. From their refined chiseled logo to their flexible design system across their family of products the new look is a great upgrade and helps to build their reputation.

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Compostable picnicware is not a category you’d think would be all that exciting – necessary and extremely important- but not super exciting from a packaging point of view. Well the redesign of Repurpose is here to blow all our minds and make us question why we’ve accepted boring packaging from picnicware all these years. Their old packaging was fairly basic and standard for the category, but their redesign features bold colorful illustrations and clever copywriting (Strong as F*rk, Kind to the Earth is the item name for Forks.) Repurpose shows us that you can have asense of humor and save the world at the same time!

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I’ve loved Sir Kensington’s ever since they came out with their dapper packaging and their redesign is paired with the launch of some new products including a line of Vinaigrettes. The redesign focuses the attention on the iconic Sir Kensington with a simple bold blue background, fun ingredient illustrations, and simple clean typography. It’s great to see an established brand with a great personality continue to evolve.

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buttermilk creative

Defining Your Brand’s Personality Through Illustration

Color, shape, movement, imagery, emotion, brand recognition, sales- illustration is a great solution for capturing and conveying the unique qualities, feelings, and emotions of your product on its packaging design. Whether you chose to be literal or abstract and expressive, illustration can be a great way to help your product to stand out, differentiate your brand from competitors and create brand recognition with shoppers.

While we can talk about illustration all day, we know less talk and more pretty photos are what you crave! So let’s dive in and take a look at a few different examples of illustration in the marketplace including one of our recent projects which features rich, expressive drawings to capture a sense of place.

Bold Characters

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Burnt & Salty create bold and unique flavor twists on traditional condiments like mustard and glazes. To capture their daring, irreverent take on traditional cuisine they’ve chosen to highlight a fun illustrated character for each of their flavors with stark silhouettes, crazy eyes, energetic shapes, and bright colors. The playful characters speak to the brand’s personality and adventurous products.

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Sauer Frau bills itself as the first ever squeezable sauerkraut, kicking up the bratwurst game a few notches! Sauer Frau’s illustration style feels like something out of a comic book with restrained, formed lines. The “Sauer Frau” character as part of the logo pulls you in with her serious, no nonsense expression. Each flavor in the family has a simple yet bold color associated with it creating an unexpected billboard that still feels relevant in the condiment category.

Literally

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Epic Provisions has always done an amazing job showcasing their products through packaging design. One of their latest products, Pork Cracklings, feels like its been pulled from the pages of a mid-century kid’s adventure novel complete with a limited color palette and vintage inspired typography and shapes. The pig illustration is realistic and feels scientific or from a veterinary textbook. The illustrations on their packaging speak directly to their ‘back to basics’ view of food and their desire to utilize the simple yet powerful diets of our ancestors.

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Roland Foods is an importer of more than 1500 foods from around the world. They have a variety of packaging design within their product catalog, but the style that caught our eye is the realistic representation of products on their canned food. At first glance it almost reads as a photograph because the illustration is executed so pragmatically, yet upon further inspection you start to see little splashes here and there which add a layered homemade artisan feel to the restrained style.

Our Latest Project – Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters Packaging Redesign

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When we first started working on redesigning Virgin Islands Coffee Roaster’s packaging we knew we wanted to find a way to feature the lush colorful views of the Virgin Islands and try to create a sense of place.

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We drew inspiration from Dorothy Draper’s iconic tropical floral wallpaper and merged that style with a coffee plant and bananaquit, a bird that is part of the Virgin Islands story and the brand. Wanting the plant to feel wild and organic, we allowed the coffee plant illustration to climb up one side of the front of the coffee bag then spread across the gusset and around the back.

We worked to create the feeling of looking through a coffee farm and discovering this packaging nestled in the leaves. The coffee labels each feature a scientific line drawing behind each coffee name in the product family, which provides a contrast to the more fluid coffee plant. Fresh, exotic, energetic and memorable we feel this packaging redesign captures the spirit of the brand and the product that lives inside.

Click the button below to view our Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters Redesign project and many more ways we’ve helped client’s define their brand’s personality through compelling design. 

VIEW MORE WORK

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Why We Joined the Specialty Food Association (It’s not just because we love food!)

We recently joined the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a trade group that represents the specialty food industry. Sure, we LOVE to eat and are always on the hunt for new foods and beverages to fall in love with, but the decision to join was actually in an effort to further educate ourselves on all aspects of the industry, increase our company’s expertise in the specialty food packaging realm and in turn, give us the ability to help more clients realize their success.

Why We Think It’s Important

We’ve been familiar with the Specialty Food Association for many years, learning about their importance in the industry back when we worked in house for The Fresh Market. Their sofi awards – think the Oscars of the food world – have been informing grocery buyers and and industry professionals of innovative and trending products in the current market for the past 46 years. We remember helping with the submission that would lead to The Fresh Market’s 2011 sofi award win for Outstanding Specialty Food Retailer Award. There was also the bi-annual buzz throughout the office when the buyers and executives would prepare for SFA’s Summer and Winter Fancy Food Shows and return with tales (and sometimes samples!) of exciting new products and trends they experienced at the show.

When we set out on our own to establish Buttermilk Creative as the premier specialty food and beverage packaging design agency we already understood how essential keeping a pulse on the industry is to the success of our clients. Since the launch of our business we have attended several food shows throughout the year each year, including SFA’s Fancy Food Show. However, this spring we took it a step further by becoming official card carrying members the Specialty Food Association! Woo hoo!

What Our Clients Stand to Gain

While we appreciate all the warm fuzzy feelings associated with being a part of this organization, we also recognize that this is a great asset for our clients and the enhanced services we can offer them. We will continue to annually be in attendance at the Summer Fancy Food Show. In 2017 the Show featured more than 2,600 exhibitors, with representation from 57 countries around the world and showcasing more than 180,000 specialty food products. The Show is the largest marketplace in North America devoted exclusively to specialty foods and beverages. These shows provide us with an opportunity to see the near future of specialty food and beverage, meet the makers and founders, connect with many of our clients and stuff our faces with some of the most amazing food and beverages (we told you we love to eat)!!! Yet the true highlight is that we are able to observe what is trending in the marketplace in all areas of packaging design including advances in sustainable materials, cutting edge printing techniques and diverse interpretations on what resonates with shoppers (plus we geek out on a lot of amazing packaging design!). We also gain new perspective on the challenges and struggles unique to the specialty food and beverage world and learn how we can help alleviate these hurdles for our clients.

Yet the true highlight is that we are able to observe what is trending in the marketplace in all areas of packaging design including advances in sustainable materials, cutting edge printing techniques and diverse interpretations on what resonates with shoppers

Becoming an SFA member also allows us to become further immersed in the community as well as get in the inside track of the industry. We hear about every policy update, headline, or cutting edge trend. That means we can build on our knowledge and continue to speak specifically to our clients needs and opportunities that relate to production, consumer trends, shopper insights, and learning about overall strategies that will help drive sales and lead to their success.

Here’s to more knowledge, more connections, more food and of course the most success for your brand!

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Our insights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC | Trend 1: Gourmet On the Go

About a month ago we headed up to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show to walk the many aisles and see the best & brightest amongst specialty food and beverage. The Following posts run through our insights we’re excited to share.

 

Trend 1. Gourmet on the Go

Gourmet goodies are not relegated to fancy restaurants any more, which isn’t necessarily a new trend, but we loved how these brands elevated conventional food with tasty results. With more and more folks strapped for time but wanting better, quicker food this trend isn’t going away anytime soon so we’re anxious to see how other brands innovate within trend.

Mac & Son:

Remember Sunday dinners over at Grandma’s house? Home cooking at it’s finest with an array of yummy sides more than likely including Mac & Cheese?  Well Mac & Son makes bagged mac & cheese taste like homemade, with quality, thoughtful ingredients. When we sampled our little cup full it took us right back to those Sunday dinners. We learned that the Mac & Son folks have worked hard to recreate that homemade flavor spending a lot of time developing their recipe and identifying key ingredients that are simple, flavorful but also deliver a hefty, homemade side in a convenient pouch.

Boonbox:

Imagine never having to worry about a filling, healthy, well rounded meal on the go? Forget fast food – Boonbox makes it easy. We loved the fact that Boonbox was so simple, just a container with everything you need – and better yet you don’t have to cook it – just dig right in. Think of it like super powered trail mix. Plus the container is small enough to fit in any type of bag.

Zupa:

Zupa Superfood soup makes sure you get all your veggies in an easy to carry bottle. We need our veggies but don’t always have the time to hang out at the juicer and crank out a cup or two. Plus what’s the right recipe that tastes good but is also healthy? We loved how Zupa delivers everything in a bottle – no excuses for not eating those veggies – even if you can’t sit down for a meal. And forget conventional flavors – they’ve got sophisticated combos like: Beet Orange Basil, Cucumber Avocado, and Tomatillo Kale Jalapeno just to name a few.

And of course we can’t forget dessert –

The Konery:

We think gourmet on the go should apply to all courses. The Konery has dessert covered by making amazingly tasty gourmet waffle cones. With bold and innovative flavors, The Konery’s cones pair nicely with different ice cream flavors and play a bigger part than a standard sugar or waffle cone. They’ve got wild flavors with even wilder cone colors – for instance a deep red “Red Velvet”, a blue “Salted Blue Corn” and our fave: a confettied “Birthday Cake.”

Read our Trend #2 Post.

Unpacking after 99U: Part 2

In our Part 1 post distilling our experience during the 99U Conference, we shared what we encountered around the city and some of the interesting things we saw. Part 2 is all about our conference takeaways.

Day 1

Studio Tour: Verdes

We started the first full day of the conference at a great little coffee shop called The Jolly Goat on our way to a studio tour with Verdes, a small offshoot of the larger studio Mother NY. The folks from Verdes shared with us how to create a common language around expressing our ideas to clients and helpful tools for facilitating the discussion. A super useful topic and content and a great start to the conference.

Conference Sessions:

We made our way back from Verdes down in Hell’s Kitchen to Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to start the general sessions.

Session 1: Ryan Carson, Treehouse

Ryan Carson shared with us a bit about his unique management and company policies (he doesn’t have any managers and they encourage lots of balance) – all of which came from his realization that we really don’t have very long on this earth so we need to spend it doing important things with the most important people in our lives. Ryan had us imagine who we want at our funeral and what we’d want them to say about us. From there we create a “Personal Mission Statement” outlining our different roles (father, business owner, son, husband, etc.) and check in on our mission statement every week and make sure our lives are still on track.

Session 2: Kristy Tilman, Society of Grownups

Kristy Tilman, in addition to having beautiful and inspiring design work, talked about not waiting to be invited to the table – to just invite yourself. She shared her own experiences where she created her own opportunity based on what she felt was needed in the world and built success around it. This is such an important idea to keep in mind: Don’t wait to be invited! Other folks out there aren’t going to wait for you and the most successful people create their own opportunity.

Session 3: Jason Fried, Basecamp

I was very excited to hear from Jason Fried who created Basecamp. Jason talked about “creative destruction” and really stepping out of your comfort zone, habits, and processes to discover new solutions. He’s challenged his teams with weeklong projects, which keeps everyone sharp but also gets the client to pay faster for example. Creating seasonal change is also important – for instance work 4 days a week in the summer and go back to 5 days in the fall. When the changes come you are refreshed and can look at everything in a different way.

Session 4: Tristan Walker, Bevel

Tristin Walker created a men’s grooming product that rethinks everything we’ve grown used to. His products are simple and refined, both visually and functionally. I mainly was inspired by his company, Bevel’s, packaging design.

Master Class: Scott Belsky, founder of Behance

Scott Belsky spoke about the journey in-between and how to keep projects alive and thriving through every cycle. Scott talked about being mission centric and medium agnostic and really focusing on the core of the project, not letting the medium drive the solution. The playbook changes over the lifespan of the project so what worked at the beginning wont work in the middle or the end so we should be aware and course correct when we need to. He discussed why projects lag in the middle – hint – it’s in our human nature! We learned to make sure we focus on new users as well as existing ones and to step out of our assumptions and step into the shoes of someone who has never interacted with our product or project.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a rainy walk to a cool little event space called Lightbox to hear Brennan Dunn discuss how to optimize our businesses. I popped in a great little coffee shop called Rex Coffee and had some yummy Counter Culture coffee and a tasty Egg & Cheese on Brioche.

Offsite: Brennan Dunn, Double Your Freelancing

This was probably the most helpful and actionable sessions of the whole conference. Brennan walked us through what makes freelancers successful, things such as mindset and knowing that you are equal to you client counterparts, not just a “vendor.” He discussed really easy ways to qualify new clients and how to provide a ton more value to existing clients. We learned about tips and techniques to help uncover the true business problem behind design projects and to become an investment for our clients, and not just an expense.

Conference Sessions:

Session 1: Dan Mall, Superfriendly

Dan Mall walked us through why and how he uses an apprenticeship model at his design studio. This was such an interesting and inspiring talk and I will be exploring ways to create something similar at Buttermilk. The most fascinating thing about Dan’s apprentice program – he only spend 30 total non-billable hours working with the apprentice over the span of the 9 month program. The rest of the hours were spent with self directed instruction by the apprentice or actual billable time on real life design projects. So something that seemed way out of reach sounds very doable for any business owner.

Session 2: Cap Watkins, BuzzFeed

My main takeaway from Cap Watkins was how he started to develop “Designer Principals” at BuzzFeed and those turned into “Leadership principals” because he discovered that really it all boils down to the same thing, no matter what your job or discipline is. He also talked about designing everything, not just design projects and to treat organizations and clients as user experience problems – a very interesting point of view.

Session 3: Yuko Shimizu

Yuko is an incredible illustrator that decided to go into the field later in life. She discussed setting goals really high and to take one small risk everyday. She also shared a lot of work and some of the stories behind it. Very inspirational.

Keynote: Tobias Frere-Jones

Tobias Frere-Jones closed the conference with a discussion about how he arrived at type design and walked us through the details and nuances of redesigning a font to be used in the stock pages of the Wall Street Journal. What I learned is that projects can always use a bit more adjusting and work before they are completely finished, but to also step away from projects for a little while too so you can return to them with fresh eyes.

Closing Party

What’s a great conference without a killer party and 99U was no exception. The venue was incredible – the vestibule of the MOMA and the music was provided by DJ Windows 98 (aka Win Butler from Arcade Fire). I had to keep pinching myself – here I was in this iconic space listening to an iconic artist with all these inspirational folks I’ve spent the last couple of days with. It was such an incredible time.

Parting Thoughts

99U was an awesome experience I will definitely consider attending again next year. I was amazed at how few traditional “designers” i encountered and the wide array of disciplines and people I learned about and met. The speakers and sessions were so varied and everything I learned makes me look at projects and my own work in a completely different way – something I think is invaluable. What makes me even more excited is all the new value and knowledge I get to share with my clients helping them solve their business problems and making them even more successful!

 

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.

Heading to 99U Conference

In about a week I’ll be heading up to NYC to meet some folks and attend the 99U Conference. If you don’t know about 99U or their annual conference it’s basically a place to learn the business side of things that we didn’t learn in design school. Learn more: http://conference.99u.com While there’s a ton of stuff to be excited about, below is a roundup of some of my top things I’m looking forward to.

What I’m excited about:

Going to NYC!

New York City is the hub for everything and you get a sense that things you see on the street and in the shops is on the cutting edge and totally fresh and new. There’s such a creative force that can be felt just wandering around that is infectious. I’ll be finding amazing and inspiring places to look at, eat, shop, and just take in.

Meeting new folks!

I’ve set up some intro meetings with some great folks. But I’m also looking forward to the chance meetings with people I didn’t even know about. This can happen on the street or in a more controlled setting like a networking party for 99U. Either way – nothing beats making a new connection and chatting it up with someone interesting and hearing their story.

99U Conference!

It would take way too long to talk about everything I’re excited about with the conference – so I’ll just hit on a couple of the special sessions I’ll be participating in:

Supercharging your Freelance Business by Brennan Dunn

Whose business doesn’t need a good shot in the arm every once in awhile? I’m excited to hear Brennan’s insights and strategies.

Learning the Right Language to Convey your Ideas to Non-Creatives by Verdes

This was a no-brainer for me. I love working with our clients and while I wouldn’t call them “Non-Creative” there still sometimes seems to be a language barrier/gap. So I’ll be looking forward to some tips and tricks to guide us through those tough conversations. Plus this session is offsite at Verdes, a beautiful NYC agency.

An Ode to the Journey In-Between: Insights from Start to Finish by Scott Belsky

Another no-brainer for me. Scott Belsky is the reason there is a 99U in the first place and is an all around amazing speaker. I love the start of the project, and I love sending them off, but the in-between is tough. I’m excited for Scott to shed some light and help us keep the flame throughout the project.

I’ll be traveling with two awesome guys: Elliot Strunk from Fifth Letter and David Horne from Honestly. I’m excited to download and share info with these guys every evening and learn from them during the trip as well.

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!