Katie’s Corner: All Hands on Brand

A non-creative’s take on navigating the creative branding process.

Originally posted on Medium. This is part of a 12 month series by Underclub founder, Katie Fritts

I’ve been quiet the last several weeks because we had all hands on deck to launch our OFFICIAL UNDERCLUB BRANDING!

Untitled designUnderclub: Join the club that’s all about U.

A few months ago I received an incredible opportunity to work with the President of Berlin Cameron and her creative team for a holistic development of our brand for the first. time. ever. For those of you who know me, my background better lends itself to tackling financial and operational challenges, and Underclub’s very first logo looked like this:

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.19.22 PM.pngUnderclub’s first logo designed by yours truly in PowerPoint.

Working with Berlin Cameron throughout the full creative and branding journey was incredible. I got to flex new decision-making muscles that didn’t involve excel formulas and I learned to trust my gut more with big decisions.

Here are my 5 takeaways from the branding experience:

1. The creative process is surprisingly linear:

The first step was picking a logo, and then each design decision informed the next. I imagined we’d consider the logo and the font and the colors all at once as interchangeable pieces, but it was more like building a physical structure where you establish your foundation and build up from there.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.40.23 PMThe very first round of logos.

2. Stories are powerful

The new branding helped me clarify our story of the Underwomen. I feel a new kind of confidence making business decisions that build upon what we stand for and our personality- not only with questions around design and marketing, but also how we structure partnerships and allocate our merchandising buys.

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3. Trust your gut

I rely on math for 100% of my decisions and constantly feared that I would feel the wrong feelings when it came to making design decisions. At first I would wait a few hours after every meeting to give any indication of feedback, but eventually came around to trusting (and speaking) my gut reaction to colors I had an immediate connection with or images that didn’t do it for me.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.31.07 PM

4. Creative execution is calculated:

As we progressed with the design process, I delighted in seeing numerical guidelines to make our designs look good across every customer interaction with our brand (site, packaging, email and social media)- like our text tracking (how far the letters are spaced) and the exact hue of #UnderBlue.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.31.25 PM

5. It takes a village

To bring the brand work to life, we scouted a photographer and model, re-sourced packaging vendors, and implemented, tested and optimized the website. Pulling together these components moved at 100x the speed compared to when we didn’t have our branding under wraps.

IMG_2658Our amazing photographer and model, JT and Emily.

I am beyond excited about sharing the Underclub brand with everyone after all this hard work. Want to watch our brand in action? Here’s how:

Thank you SO MUCH to the Berlin Cameron team and everyone who has helped get us to where we are today. If your startup or company is interested in working with badass creatives, please reach out and I can put you in touch with the phenomenal team at Berlin Cameron.

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#FemaleFounder Series: Julie Sygiel of Dear Kate

dearkatefounder

Ever wanted go-to “period panties”? Julie Sygiel found the solution with her company Dear Kate, which impressively emerged from her college entrepreneur class project. With a unique background in Chemical Engineering and fashion, Julie developed Underlux- a silky-soft wicking and leak-resistant fabric. She caught the entrepreneur bug long before that though, as she was able to sell a shocking 10,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies when she was younger. We look forward to collaborating with the real-women focused brand in the near future! Scroll for our interview with Julie…

Our Top 3 Questions with Julie Sygiel 

Describe your first feeling of success.

The day we launched our Kickstarter campaign in May 2014, our goal was $15,000. We had no idea how much we would raise and that morning we met our goal one hour after launching the campaign. It was a crazy feeling. Isabella went out to buy mimosa ingredients so we could celebrate and we went on to raise $158K in the entire campaign.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

“You can find evidence to support anything that you believe, so might as well believe that you’re amazing.”

What was the most difficult challenge you faced?

There are too many to name! Naming the company was one of the earliest challenges that I struggled with for several years before finding Dear Kate. We went through several names, including Sexy Period, Underbrella, Eulie, Blink, and Sage & Silk.

Share your thoughts on our interview below!

#FemaleFounder Series: Degelis Tufts of TribeTats

degelis_tufts_arianna_huffingtonDegelis and her role model, Arianna Huffington

We bet you’ve seen celebrities and stylish girls flaunting eye-catching metallic tattoos around town. This female founder is one of the leaders of the trend that is taking over music festivals and Instagram photos, and we were fortunate enough to snag an interview with the busy lady! After making the tough decision to leave her finance job, Degelis Tufts started TribeTats. The move paid off because in just a short year the brand has hosted events with both Victoria’s Secret and Rebecca Minkoff! Scroll to learn how Degelis garnered her success…

Who are some of your role models?

I am a big fan of Arianna Huffington, who I was able to meet recently. She is an incredible female entrepreneur and an evangelist for life balance after nearly killing herself of exhaustion growing the Huffington Post. Her book Thrive provides a framework for the new definition of a successful life – we need to go beyond “titles and paychecks” and build a life mosaic whose components reflect our true values.

I am also an enormous Tina Fey fan – being able to laugh at yourself to maintain perspective is immeasurably important, and she is the poster child of that (and also a UVA alum!). Just love her – check out her book Bossy Pants if you haven’t already.

tribetats interviewDegelis (left) applying TribeTats to a Victoria’s Secret Model

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

My dad has always reminded me that failure is not defined as trying and failing, it’s defined as not trying. I actually saved this from an email from him: “You have failed when you don’t follow your driving force – when you become complacent, going with the safe, no bruising involved. To be fair, that works for some, and that is fine – but not us.  I know by failing occasionally that without it, success would not taste so sweet. When I am out of my comfort zone, that’s where I want to be.” Let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree :).

What are your essentials for a productive day?

First, a good night’s sleep – I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am a better version of myself in every way possible after a solid 8 hours. Second, to-do lists organized by urgency and priority – every morning I wake up and ask myself: what do I absolutely need to do to be successful today (which is typically a very long list), and what can wait?

Share your thoughts on our interview below!

#FemaleFounder Series: Giorgia Rossi of LookBooker

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Giorgia Rossi is the Co-Founder of LookBooker, a platform where people can book all their hair and beauty appointments online based on neighborhood and availability. Makes total sense to us! Born on a leap year in Sydney, Australia, Giorgia and her Co-Founder, Renee Robbie, dreamed up the idea for LookBooker while doing global management consulting on rural mining sites in the country. It didn’t take long for the pair to realize they’d be happier running their own business rather than stay in the corporate world. Interesting fact about the duo: Rossi works out of New York, whereas Robbie is based in Singapore! Read on for insight and advice from Rossi as a modern female founder…

Our Top 3 Questions with Giorgia Rossi

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

It was from my Co-Founder! We both knew we wanted to work together from almost the first time we met in our former jobs and we used to always talk about how we had a vision for an online marketplace for hair and beauty as big as OpenTable or Airbnb. However, we kept on convincing ourselves of experiences or skills we’d need, books we had to read, things we’d need to know or people we’d need in order to start our company. It took us a bit of time to take the jump and Renee’s advice was so simple yet powerful, “you’ll never have everything in place, it will never be the perfect time, you’ll never feel ‘ready’ so let’s just do it”. That combined with my Mum’s advice that, “experience is what you get when you’re not getting what you want.”

What was the most difficult challenge you faced?

It’s not necessarily our most difficult challenge, but certainly one of the most surprising challenges: what it’s like to be a woman in the very male dominated tech industry. I came from a corporate background, which had seen huge progress in terms of parental leave, flexibility, alternative promotion paths and the development of more infrastructure to make sure there were fewer barriers to making women successful. There are challenges associated with being a female founder that continue to surprise (and outrage!) me, particularly when it comes to securing the funding women need to grow and scale businesses. Hearing the experiences some women have had fundraising can be like listening to a series of horror stories.

Similar to LookBooker, we’ve seen so many of our female peers who are building businesses that they or their friends use. They make a lot of sense until you come to the point where you imagine pitching that sort of idea to an all male panel of VCs who may be less likely to be pained by the inconvenience of booking their bikini wax on the phone during office hours or in an open plan office. We are in a world where so few venture firms even have female representation among their partnership (<4% of senior VC partners are women) and the industry has been accustomed to what a ‘typical’ entrepreneur looks like. It’s easy to see why more than 95% of venture capital currently flows to male founded teams. These outcomes make it pretty scary to be a female founder at times, but being smart about it makes the situation less insurmountable!

Describe your first feeling of success.

When we first launched LookBooker we were adamant about it being a marketplace that could serve both men and women – we knew that men were inconvenienced by offline bookings and had their hair cut even more often than women and are chronically underserved by the hair and beauty industry. One day in our early weeks of launching I was on the subway in my LookBooker t-shirt and a guy came up to me and said, “do you work there?”. I told him about how we’d created the idea while working together in rural Australia (of course trying to convince him to get his hair cut) and he told me that he’d used it to book his hair appointment the week before. I couldn’t believe it (when you’re a severely under slept founder, you look at any customer as the greatest part of your day every single time) and then he told me that not only was it his first LookBooker booking but his first ever appointment – he’d always gone to a walk in barbershop. It’s the stories of customers who are actually engaging in and using your marketplace that make you feel like a success – even if the moment is fleeting.

FUN FACT: the only things Giorgia can cook are eggs!

Share your thoughts on our interview below!

#FemaleFounder Series: Tracy Osborn of WeddingLovely

underclub_interview_tracy

We are happy to present our first interview in our #FemaleFounder Series featuring Tracy Osborn, founder of WeddingLovely – an extensive wedding planning directory aimed at making weddings stress-free. Based in San Francisco, but frequently working remotely abroad (right now it’s Croatia), Tracy is also the author of Hello Web App. When she’s not working, you will most likely find her tackling an impressive outdoor feat. Last summer, Tracy solely hiked the John Muir Trail (200 miles)! More on her story…

Our Top 3 Questions with Tracy Osborn:

 What was the most difficult challenge you faced?

Losing a co-founder — I’ve gone through it twice. The first time, it spurred me to learn programming myself so I didn’t have to rely on partnering with someone to build a startup. The second time was devastating. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have seen it coming, but having a close partner give up on my startup and myself threw me into a months-long depression. I basically moved WeddingLovely into a run-itself state and kind of gave up on it for a bit. Eventually the sting lessened, and I was able to jump back into the business and work on it full time again… but it was as close to startup-death I’ve ever been.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given on starting your venture?

Never give up! I’ve been complimented on my tenacity before — I feel like I’ve been through so many moments of “failure” with WeddingLovely and I’ve just kept on trucking. Never give up, never surrender. But every now and then I wonder if I’ve kept on for too long — but I think that’s my self-deprecation talking. You do need to know when to quit and when to keep going. Generally though, the moments you feel like quitting are the moments you really need to keep pushing forward.

Describe your first feeling of success.

I had just learned how to code, and launched my own web app, the precursor to WeddingLovely — WeddingInviteLove. I visited a prominent design blogger and offhandedly mentioned it, and she blogged about it a few hours later. My inbox blew up, and I had that amazing moment of feeling like I built something that people needed and wanted. It’s such a great feeling to have something that you built blow up like that!

Share your thoughts on our interview below!

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