Make Welcome The Wild

boneyard sunrise

A while back we had the incredible opportunity to reimagine the branding and website for our friends at Coastal Expeditions. Our first meeting with husband-and-wife owners Chris and Kari Crolley was full of all the energy and excitement we hope for and seek out in clients. A few days after that initial meeting, Kari stopped by our office with a box . Inside it was a universe of things: sharks’ teeth, shells, dried plants and sea life, maps, animal skulls, postcards, and ephemera of all kinds. It was like a museum exhibit out from behind the glass, a work of art, and a deep look inside Kari and Chris’s hearts, minds, and souls. As we stood in amazement, pulling things out of the box, and naming them, Kari smiled and said, “I want you to make our website out of this box.”

I will always remember the power of those words and that gift.

In the work we do, we sometimes forget about the immense trust people put in us — to tell their stories, to rethink and reshape their brand, marketing, and businesses. When Kari gave us that box, to me she was saying, “Here is our livelihood, our passion, our family: please take them and us where we need to go.”

What an honor.

As I often do, I wrote a manifesto for Kari, Chris, and their incredible team: a story that speaks to more than just what and how they do what they do, but why it matters.

We study Lowcountry tides, flora, fauna, and history. We explore. Make maps and routes. Care for our guests. Refine our skills. Nurture our fleet. Feed our curiosity and sense of adventure. And work always in service of the natural, the mystical, and the magical.

We can’t summon the sunrise or sunset. And while we can’t beckon the blue heron, the osprey, or the dolphin, by virtue of our lifelong fascination and love for them, we find the route to be in their company, again and again. Which makes us devoted students of a particular discipline. Practitioners attuned to a particular frequency. Guides on a particular journey. Called to safely and securely put people in the path of beauty; then, step back, and witness what unfolds.

What moves you? When, or how will it manifest, we can’t predict. Is it sunlight shimmering along the water’s surface? Paddling toward your own strength? An ancient shark’s tooth in the palm of your hand whispering of millennia? The rush of air through a pelican’s wings as it takes flight?

Only you may know in that instant – when you move outside yourself – and into the wideness of the universe. On a soulful journey to become more than just aware of the beauty around you, but part of it. So that seeing a dolphin rise in the water beside you is no longer just a personal, glorious sight, it’s an exchange between another life and yours, a story to share, a feeling you can’t quite name. We believe that’s the exact place where want and wish fall away – and awe and wonder are revealed.

To us, that’s the connection we’re born for – the stimulation we long for. It’s the stuff of earth and sea and stars. Of people and animals and plants. Of natural and human history entwined. The understanding of our precious smallness in the largeness of the world and the rhythm we do not make, but are made of.

That’s the gift, and it belongs to all of us.

Coastal Expeditions
make welcome the wild

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Read label. Drink wine. Repeat as needed.

About 95% of the work I do is for the web, and I love it. But, as a writer and lover of books and words on paper, print projects hold a special in my heart. Perhaps even more exciting are the opportunities when I get to help create something that exists out there in the world. Product, people, product!

My talented Blue Ion friends called on me a while back to help with the renaming, new identity, and website for a Napa Valley winery. The new identity included new labels for the wine bottles, and I was psyched. Remember, I’m a reader and a writer, which means I’m also one of those people who actually reads packaging, labels, invoices, etc. Let me just say: a little humanity or humor on any of the aforementioned pieces can make a huge difference in the customer experience. Promise.

The larger website for Mira Winery  is still in development, but friends, the wine bottles have arrived! And I could not be more jazzed with the results. Major kudos to the Blue Ion team (shout outs to Katie, Josh, David and Robert) for the beautiful design, and stay tuned for the website awesomeness to come. Here then, is the back label of Mira Chardonnay.

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Truth in investing & STDs!

There has been much writing in this sultry summer thus far, and it shows no signs of letting up. Thanks to my amazing clients who keep my fingers flying across the keyboard and happily pondering this incredible diversity of subjects.

This is Questis, a team of financial advisors that are bucking the financial advisor stereotype by offering these novel ideas: truth, ease, and lower fees! Check out the super-fun teaser site that my friends at Little Highrise designed, and stay tuned as there’s much more to come.

And friends, let me offer you this piece of advice. If Gil Shuler ever asks you to help him out on a project, say YES! I have long professed my love of Gil Shuler Graphic Design, and my love was recently elevated to a new level when Gil called to ask me to help out with some syphilis prevention posters. Yes, really.

Turns out syphilis is running rampant on local Charleston campuses. (EGAD!) As usual, Gil came up with an amazing (and hilarious) concept, and I had the pleasure of writing some copy. The kicker to this project? The email Gil sent with the two posters: subject line: syphilis. I will let you guess how interesting my email ads were for the next several weeks. Get the facts, y’all!

Image courtesy of GSGD.
Image courtesy of GSGD.

Did you choose to be human?

I just love it when a plan comes together. Here then is the final piece of the Alliance For Full Acceptance’s media campaign. Billboard design by Gil Shuler. The video below comes courtesy of Liz Oakley and Ed Bates of IVS Video and the sassy, unstoppable Jessica Mickey. Copy/script by me. If you like what you see, please share it. Thanks.

Angie Hranowsky & James Plummer

It’s such a buzz to work with people whose work you admire. I met designer Angie Hranowsky about three years ago and instantly fell in love with her work. She created an incredible brochure for a historic Charleston waterfront event venue that I was helping promote.

Fast forward three years, and I’m having drinks with friends at Enoteca, an intimate, handsomely decorated wine bar just down the street from Trattoria Lucca (owned by the same folks). We were all so intrigued by the interior design that we asked Christy, the manager, who had done the work. None other than Angie, who’s now bringing her keen design eye to interiors in truly amazing style.

The next day I sent her an email to congratulate and compliment her on Enoteca and catch up.  Before I knew it, she graciously asked me to rewrite her bio for new website. Here’s a taste:

In 2005, Angie launched her interior design firm, reinterpreting her print design sensibility and color acumen for dynamic, three-dimensional spaces – and quickly vaulted onto the national interior design scene. Driven by a passion to engage and nurture each client, Angie crafts beautifully balanced, inviting spaces that are both personal and timeless.

Find the rest here. Congratulations, Angie. You continue to amaze.

Should your interiors need help, do give this talented lady a buzz.

In other fun designer news, my pal, UX designer and front-end developer, James Bergen, recently launched his solo gig. I met James a few years back, and he never fails to make me smile. He’s also crazy talented and warm. You can’t really beat that.

James asked me to help out with his bio as well. Here’s a snippet:

Fueled by a seemingly endless stream of iced coffee, James pairs his design skills with solid technology to create beautiful, high performing interactive experiences for clients large and small. Equally at home in the print universe, he digs deep into his clients’ brains and hearts to craft identities and print materials that tell a story and inspire action.

Peruse the rest of his bio and the rest of his super fab site here. Thank you, sweet baby James!

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A porch named Poogan

Super designer and pal Jay Fletcher (He also makes great pies!) hit me up a while back to help with a project for the folks of Poogan’s Porch. Named for the lovable neighborhood dog that made the establishment’s front porch his home, Poogan’s Porch is one of Charleston’s most celebrated culinary haunts, serving up homemade Southern favorites since 1976. Jay crafted an incredible new identity and rack card that speaks to the restaurant’s vintage vibe and rich history while artfully blending in modern elements and the dog that started it all. I had the opportunity to write copy. Thanks, Jay. It was another pleasure!

A bit of the copy I wrote:

We believe in conversations on porches, Sunday brunch, old Southern dogs, ghosts, seersucker, biscuits, homemade and handmade, sweet tea, handwritten recipes, friends old and new, great stories, gracious hospitality and our Moms. Not necessarily in that order.

And…breathe: a public service announcement

Part 2 of the Alliance For Full Acceptance’s media campaign. Billboard design by the one and only Gil Shuler. And the video below comes courtesy of Liz Oakley and Ed Bates of IVS Video and the seriously awesome talents of one Jessica Mickey. Copy/script by yours truly.