June Playlist

In-between my day job + freelance projects, I make monthly playlists that reflect what's blaring into my headphones while pixel-pushing. As a Spotify user since 2011, I was so excited when they implemented a new feature this year: uploading your own album artwork!

So I decided to create artwork that accompanies each monthly playlist, too. I'm always down to play with type! There's more to come, but listen to this one if you'd like.

Moroccanoil Digital Art Direction: The 12 Days of Gifting

Before the 2016 Holiday season officially began for consumers, I had been thinking about it and planning for months. This was because I was tasked with implementing the creative + design direction for Moroccanoil's 2016 Digital Holiday campaign.

From start to finish, I brainstormed + purchased props, spent hours doing crafts + scouting the prettiest glitter, designed an extensive creative brief for the project, then finally led a 2-day photoshoot with a photographer and stylist. I also handled giving retouching notes to the photographer and finalizing the files for web so they could ultimately be used for e-commerce, social media + our website. And it was honestly such an amazing learning experience. I had a blast!

For each day of the 12 Days of Gifting, when a customer spends $65+, she will get a free gift with purchase. I had to be mindful of the order of each free gift, especially in terms of the backgrounds, so that there weren't days back-to-back that both had blue backgrounds, for instance.

I strived for this shoot to include fun, playful + bold pops of color to lure the young Moroccanoil customer into our product line. The campaign was very successful and generated 30% more sales than the previous year's 12 Days campaign. Feel free to dive in + explore each colorful image below! You can view other assets from this campaign in my portfolio.

Photography: Gregory Reid; Art Direction: Kaitlyn Richert; Prop Styling: Angela Campos.

The New York City Marathon: Run the Mile You're In

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.

I ran the New York City Marathon, my first full. After 16 weeks of training, I took off through the five boroughs — Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan — to say that I did the damn thing. And by that, I mean running 26.2 despite the hiccups the last 4 months throughout my training: a knee injury, work + freelance commitments, canceled social plans, weekends out of town, wilted motivation to meet my goal. Everything. But at the end of all these excuses, I just ran for myself. I ran through tears of joy, pain, self-doubt, nostalgia, pride, and fear. And it was incredible and beautiful to do all that in my favorite city in the world.

- - - 

Before I graduated high school, I created a bucket list. It was stupid, I didn't know what to add. But for some reason, I wrote: "Finish a marathon." I remember laughing at the time and saying, I'll never do this, but I'll put it on here anyway because it would be cool. After all, I was a track runner at the time and not a serious one.

Flash forward to 2013 and a friend convinced me to sign up for the Pittsburgh Half. I didn't think I could finish 13.1, but decided I was up for the challenge. After crossing that finish line, I was hooked on distance running. It was a time that I really needed some confidence and I just got tangled up in how amazing it felt. I continued to run after that race because I realized that it was the only time that my mind was a blank slate. Nothing else, no one else mattered; in my everyday life, my moderate anxiety was turning severe. This was the only time I could shut my brain off.  I started to learn what my body was physically (and mentally) capable of and eventually channel my stress, anxiety and the inevitable uncertainty of the next few years into just running, step by step. The rhythm got me good.

After running 3 more half marathons, I knew I needed a new challenge. But the full always scared me. During some half marathons I've done where some runners are doing the full distance, there comes a point where a sign pops up that says something like, "Half marathoners go this way, you're finished" and another that says "Marathoners, go that way, you have 13.1 more miles to go." I would always laugh to myself and think, Thank God I'm not going that direction... that would be brutal.

Boy, was I right. But I'd learn the hard way.

- - - 

The NYC Marathon is the largest, most in-demand marathon in the world. And somehow I got chosen to run through the lottery system; I threw my name into the drawing where apparently 15% of the entries get accepted. It seemed like a miracle, and I was excited. And yet, I didn't feel ready for it. It seemed so colossal, so out of reach. I guess what I'm saying is that I knew that I was going to have to work my ass off from July to November.

The race starts on the Verrazano Narrows bridge, which connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. The views of Lower Manhattan were breathtaking. I felt like I was in a helicopter viewing the city. I smiled the entire first 3 miles and well into Brooklyn, where the crowds surged and strangers cheered for me and I high fived them, flying on 4th Avenue. Before I knew it, I saw my friends and felt more undeniable happiness. By mile 8, I realized I wasn't out of breath and my knee was holding up well. I was killin' it. This was a BLAST. Marathons are FUN! AHHHH, energy!! I even ducked into a port-a-potty at mile 9 with no line. All was smooth so far.

Exiting Brooklyn got tougher. I cheered out loud when I saw the 13 mile mark, but realized I was slowing down on the Pulaski Bridge (which connects Brooklyn to Queens). I knew that the dreaded Queensboro Bridge was coming up at mile 15 though, so I had to conserve energy. It was so quiet on that bridge. People around me were walking, but I tried not to stop, thinking about the roar of the crowd I knew we'd hear nearing First Avenue. I thought I was still on pace to break 4 hours, a bonus goal besides finishing.

First Avenue was not disappointing. The people were LOUD. My mom and boyfriend met me at mile 17, where this photo was snapped. How are you?! They asked as I hugged them. I'm FINE! I said, too excited. But I was on that runner's high from the drunken crowds. Up until mile 20, I thought about how I was really feeling. Am I fine?

I tried to focus mile-by-mile, but by mile 22 in the Bronx, I was not fine. I was past the distance of my longest run ever, and my knees killed. I felt my pace drop even more. What are negative splits, again? There was no way I was going to finish this thing faster than when I started. Hell no. But at this point, I still thought I was on track to make it under 4 hours. Until I saw the runner carrying the 4:00 pace marker in front of me. Wait, what?! I thought. My Nike+ Running app and Nike watch were both telling me I was running faster than I really was. I caught up to the pacer and kept up until mile 23, when he took off on Fifth Avenue. I still didn't believe I was behind the mark. But I knew the race was ending because we were in Central Park now.

Everything hurt. Every goddamn thing. My calf ached even though it never bothered me before in my life. My knees swelled and my ankles wobbled. My hands were frozen because the sun went away. And yet, I knew that if I stopped to walk even for a second during mile 25, I would not run again. It was that physically painful, but more mentally so. Because I had to tell myself that even though my lungs felt that I could go faster, my body could not.

Nearing Columbus Circle at mile 26, I started to feel relief. Only 0.2 to go! Oh wait, it's uphill? WTF? I tried to remember to smile at the finish line for the photos. But immediately after crossing, I sobbed like crazy as they put my medal around my neck. I was disappointed that my time was 4:04 and not sub 4, but I knew that wasn't why the tears came. It was because I didn't want it to be over.

Not the run, I mean. I just love chasing long-term goals. And this was a tough one to let go once I knew it was complete. I found so much happiness and strength and humility in the journey that the marathon training took me on. I found pieces of myself that I never knew I could unlock and trust and love. I found solace in the 6 a.m. workouts in the gym and the sunrise runs under the bridges. I fell in love with doing this awesome, huge thing for the first time ever. And I realized, with that gorgeous medal around my neck, that I would never get to experience this for the first time ever again. Even if I ran another NYC marathon.

The mental exhaustion was real. Physically, I limped for the next mile the finishers had to walk to get out of the park. I wasn't even hungry, just kind of depressed. I felt such a high the entire race until the I crossed the finish line. How did that happen? You'd think it would be the opposite; a feeling of relief at the end. But I really just felt kind of distraught.

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Today, I feel so proud (and SORE. Watching me go down stairs has got to be hilarious). I got my medal engraved and will be spending the rest of the day in bed, stretching and icing and just smiling because of how beautiful this experience was. Sure, it's over, but I can find another race or goal to tackle next. Sub 4 next time? Hmmm. Tempting.

I don't know, guys. It was the best, to do this in New York, my new home. Finishing this marathon changed my life, OK? And besides, now I get to cross it off that bucket list that I never saved...

Thank you all for your support throughout my journey, it means the world to me.

xx

2016

3 weeks into the new year, and I finally feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. It's been gradual for me, but I hope everyone had a nice time relaxing over the holidays!

As someone who is goal-oriented, I get excited to make resolutions every year, even if I'm not perfect about sticking to them (Where's the fun in that, right?!). I like to strive to get better, but not get caught up in the possibility of falling short.

I prefer to aim high.

Here's a glimpse at what goals / ideas I'm thinking I want to focus on this year:

1. Run my first full marathon. Where? I'm not sure yet. All I know is that running keeps me inspired; it keeps me creative and awake and alive. It sounds very cliche to non-runners, I get it. But the electricity I feel when I am gliding through the cold air outside has changed my life. I always run at least one half marathon every year (and I intend to this year too), but why not step into full territory this year? I have nothing to lose and I am motivated to train and do this. 26.2, I'm coming for ya!

2. Continue to freelance + build my design business outside of work. 2015 was the first year I made a serious income from freelance design work, and I really want to continue that. Now that I have a new computer with a working trackpad (hallelujah), I will strive to push my creative limits in my work. I want to create wedding collateral, web materials and start learning Sketch + more about UX design. At my day job, which has been going wonderfully, I've been learning SO much about web and digital design, and I feel very comfortable in Photoshop. I hope to build on that too so that I can eventually make a bigger leap to designing for digital platforms + experiences. 2016 is my year to grow more as a digital designer, as well as build up more of a client base on the side. Practice, practice, practice! I'm proud of how far I'm come since I started working.

3. Explore more cities + states. I went on several trips in 2015. It was the first time I ventured up north to Connecticut and Maine, down south to Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as out west to several parts of California. I would love for 2016 to bring new cities and states into the mix for me, too. This means putting away more money than usual, but I know it's worth it to spend on travel. Experience > Things. I have yet to visit places such as Portland, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, Austin and even Canada. Maybe one of those will be a trip this year for me.

4. Read + watch + listen more. I always want to educate myself, and 2016 is an important year to do so because of the election in the fall. I want to watch more documentaries and listen to more podcasts regularly, too, to keep up on issues I am passionate about, such as public health and women's rights. I'm not in school anymore, but I never want to stop learning, listening, engaging. I want to spend more time learning and less time binge-watching shows at Netflix. OK, so there's a time and a place for that, too. But there should be more of a balance!

5. Be more present. I'm not very good at this. If it's 2016 and you have this down pat, I really am jealous. After being out of my apartment for 12 hours a day during the week (commute, work, gym, commute) I'm just happy to eat dinner, take a shower and pass out at the end of the day. In the middle of all of the commuting, working and craziness, I'm constantly on my phone or my mind is elsewhere. I need to actively shut down my phone and my brain sometimes. Maybe at the beginning and end of each day I will get better about this, but I think it would improve my anxiety in general.

There are several mini-goals I haven't sprinkled into this post (learn to play guitar better, cook more vegan food), but you get the idea. Reflection and striving are good, and they're where I'm comfortable. I like fresh starts. You should, too.

Next Steps / A New Gig

Happy almost Thanksgiving time! I just started a new job this week at Moroccanoil, where I'll be working on the design team for the marketing side of the beauty brand. Digital + print projects are coming my way already. I'm so excited to dive in and soak up working on the client side of design at a gorgeous, well-known brand!

See you after the holiday, when I will probably still be dreaming about eating copious amounts of sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and stuffing :)