It's the end of an era! Hope you'll join us!

We've had the pleasure of being part of am amazing (and free) networking group called B'More Creatives, since the very beginning. M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer of CurlyRed, was also had the honor of serving on the board of directors for the past 5 or 6 years. But Kendall, along with fellow leader Jessica Watson of Points North Studio, had come to the difficult decision to close this group at the end of the year.

Jessica wrote a beautiful note about our decision behind closing this group:

“[B'More Creatives was] established at a time when other creative groups were not very active. Professionals and students in our industry were hungry for ways to connect. Over the years we’ve hosted countless networking events, seminars, educational panels, a mentor program and more. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some very dedicated board members and advisors who helped bring these ideas into fruition.

But, by being involved for this long, I’ve also seen the way the tides are changing. For example, we started losing sponsor funding in 2013 and never fully recovered. We could’ve closed then, but instead we wrangled new ways to keep us running. Also, other professional groups in the creative space have become remarkably active over time. We’re all vying for the same audience. Lastly, we’ve lost good board members over the years (this is normal as members complete their terms) and were unable to secure a strong plan for the future of the group.

The decision to close was not an easy one; we had several conversations internally before announcing this to the public. But, I do not view closing as a bad thing. I think it’s a strong indicator of the pulse and vitality of the creative community in Baltimore, that many individuals and groups are thriving. We have forever left a mark on this city and we don’t discount the value we’ve had in helping each other grow.

We are working on a contingency plan for those who want to continue the conversation and stay connected beyond Dec. 31st.

B’More Creatives is not a group that fizzles and fades away. You won’t wonder “whatever happened to....?” We will go out with as much passion and intention as when we started, and we hope you’ll celebrate our legacy with us.”

Jessica and I (along with our board) have decided to throw a huge, Masquerade-style celebration at The Elephant in Mt. Vernon to celebrate this incredible group and what it's meant to the design community in Baltimore. I hope you can all make it on Dec. 6th at 7pm.

Tickets at $40 and here's what's included:

• Chicken Sates with Plum Sauce
• Zucchini Fritters
• Signature Bacon Straws
• Shrimp Toast
• Mushroom Caps with Ricotta and Spinach
• Baked Brie in Filo Cups with Raspberry Chutney
• 1 Official B'More Creatives Cocktail (or first drink of your choice)

Buy your tickets here: https://bmorecreativeslegacy.splashthat.com/


CurlyRed President Interviewed This Week on "Birds in a Tree" Podcast!

Our dear friend, Bridget Manley, created the Birds in a Tree podcast about parenting. The good, the bad, the hard and the glorious, all from the perspective of different parents each episode.

From left: Mark Ludwig, vice-president, CurlyRed;
daughter Juliette; daughter Margot;
M. Kendall Ludwig, president, CurlyRed

She asked M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer of CurlyRed, to be her guest, and Kendall (of course), said YES! Kendall's episode aired this week, and here's the summary of the interview (as written by Bridget):
Kendall is the mother of two girls, and is one of the bravest boss women I know. Before becoming a mother, Kendall decided that instead of working for a company, she wanted to start her own graphic design business.  So she took business classes, got mentors, networked, and taught herself how to become an entrepreneur. Ten years later, she and her husband run an incredibly successful graphic design company.  Kendall admits that after the birth of her second daughter, she had a lot of mommy guilt about not being able to do it all, and after the sale of their house in Baltimore, made another drastic change for the health and well being of the family.

And because I am unashamed of plugging of my friends and their endeavors, if you need some graphic design work done, visit their website at http://www.curlyred.com/

You can listen to this fantastic episode here: https://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/5944859/tdest_id/546093

Thanks again Bridget, it was an honor to be part of what you're doing in podcast-land!


Nominate Your Non-profit for First Fruits February!

Yes, we know—it seems like February is a lifetime away—but it will be here before you know it!

We’re so thankful to be in business for 10 (almost 11) years and do what we love everyday. So, in that spirit, last February, CurlyRed started a new thing called “First Fruits February.” We chose to give the first ten percent of CurlyRed's income for the month and donate it to two very worthy non-profits. The Baltimore recipient was The Community Crisis Center, and the Garrett County recipient was The Dove Center.
This is an ad CurlyRed designed for The Dove Center this past year.
This upcoming February of 2018, we'd like to donate the full 10% to one Maryland-based non-profit, suggested by you!

So if you are a part of a worthy non-profit, and you’d like to be considered, please email us with the following information:

• Your name
• Your email
• The name of the non-profit you'd like to nominate
• Why your non-profit deserves to be chosen

Please submit your nomination by December 1st, 2017 to be considered.
We look forward to hearing from you!


Featured Client: The Slippery Mermaid

From the moment we learned about The Slippery Mermaid Sushi Barserving colorful, unexpected and funky sushi rolls in Navarre, Florida and Sewickley, Pennsylvania—we KNEW we could design something really special for them. Our CurlyRed team set out to create a fully custom and responsive Wordpress website that would showcase the sushi rolls and fun eating environments. 

From the website: "The Slippery Mermaid Sushi Bar offers an inspired mix of creative sushi for purists and adventurers alike, offering value and variety without sacrificing quality or experience. “The Slipp” offers a dining experience full of creative flavor, combined with a casual, relaxed atmosphere. A large menu offers something for everyone, even land lovers!"

We proceeded to pair the beautiful, vibrant photography with a "tiki" style typeface and messy, rough borders in a color palette of teals and salmon. The end result is a bold, fun website that's also easy to navigate.

Working with Chad and Karen at The Slippery Mermaid to bring their vision to fruition was also a joy. Apparently, the feeling’s mutual:

“Kendall and the team at CurlyRed are nothing short of prompt and professional, keeping us in the loop through every step of the process and not resting until our website was to our exact specifications. We can’t thank them enough!”
—Chad Lawson, Manager of The Slippery Mermaid (and wonderful photographer!)

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind website for YOUR business or organization? If so, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Western Maryland Happenings

October is a wonderful month for Western Maryland—especially in Garrett County. Here are a few things we are excited to be a part of:

Oakland, Maryland is being revitalized. And CurlyRed (now located in Mtn. Lake Park, considered Greater Oakland) is very pleased to be on the GOBA Marketing Committee, to help promote what's going on in and around Oakland.  

But it takes funding to make a real impact. The Go Greater Raffle is all about making strides toward building a bigger economy and a downtown lifestyle that invites more hustle & bustle, and inspires our new Arts & Entertainment District to grow & flourish.

Paper Tickets for the 50/50 Raffle will be sold by service clubs and nonprofit organizations before and after The Autumn Glory Feature Parade on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 and at many venues around Garrett County on Autumn Glory Weekend.

Tickets will also be sold in Downtown Oakland on the night of Octoberfest on Thursday, October 12, 2017, during and after the Fireman’s Parade.

Online Tickets will be sold, through this website. Buy your ticket to win big now!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 

From the website: “The annual Autumn Glory Festival is a five-day celebration of autumn that celebrates the beauty of the local fall foliage. From Wednesday through Sunday, the area offers a wide variety of things to do indoors or outdoors. The Festival includes two large parades, concerts, band competitions, art exhibits, antique & craft shows and much more! 

Garrett County’s annual Autumn Glory Festival landed in the international spotlight in 2007, when the popular travel website, MSN.com listed it tops among fall festivals in the world and this year, Good Housekeeping lists our Oakland, MD among the Top 50 Small Towns with the Best Fall Foliage. And in 2014, Travel & Leisure listed the Autumn Glory Festival and our own Oakland, MD as America's Best Town for Fall Colors”

CurlyRed is thrilled to be attending this fabulous event for the first time, happening October 24th, 2017!

From the website: “Technology at the Gap is a one-day conference for web developers, system admins, network and security specialists, managers, and others in, or around, the IT industry. Hear from engaging and informative speakers and spend time sharing ideas as you enjoy a little bit of fall in Western Maryland.”

If you're planning on attending, please contact us so we can meet up! Looking forward to meeting and connecting with new folks in the Tech space.


P.S.: BONUS EVENT: Kendall and Mark will both be performing in a super creepy Ghost Walk, presented by Our Town Theatre in Oakland, MD, October 19, 20 and 21! Hope to see you then!


What I've Learned: Part Three

Happy Wednesday, friends! That is the last installment of a three-part series (you can find part one here and part two here). 

These are some of the most important things I’ve learned since moving our family and my business 200 miles west, from Baltimore to Mountain Lake Park, MD (near the West Virginia line). I hope these small tidbits of wisdom are helpful and inspiring.

So on to my last 5 life lessons (for now): 

1. Our new home is perfect for visitors, but even that can become a burden. What a joy it is to have to the space to have not only one, but two guests bedrooms, plus a large yard, etc. Over the past year, we have had the privilege of hosting a cast party for a play I was in, an end-of-the-season softball team party, a large 4th of July family weekend, several groups of friend weekend getaways, a 3-day middle-and-high-school retreat, and much more. 

Most of my favorite memories in this house have come from these various events. But hosting is tough work, and I realized that even opening our house to guests too frequently would not be a wise decision for my sanity. We now ensure that we have a balance of “empty weekends,” when we’re not hosting out-of-town guests or a gathering of some kind.

2. Instagram has done wonders for my brand. Doing my one-photo-a-day project was not only good for my inner life, but it’s helped me find a social media outlet that is really in line with my personal and business brands.  Instagram has been a great place to share discoveries in my life, my work portfolio, and work-related announcements to a strong following of friends, family, and others that share my values. You can read more about what I've learned about Instagram here.

3. Husbands and wives can work together to create amazing things (without killing each other). When Mark began working for CurlyRed full-time in February, it all could have gone horribly wrong. I mean, we already spend a lot of time together, given that we’ve moved to an area where we’ve had to make new friends, find new babysitters, and people tend to go into hibernation in the winter.

A husband and wife team wouldn’t work (understandably) for many, many people. Work roles and responsibilities need to be firmly established in advance. You need to take steps to create boundaries to divide time into work, and when work shouldn’t even be discussed.

But for us: it's been a wonderful 6 months. Mark is not only extremely talented and knowledgeable at what he does, but our work styles very much compliment one another. We both like quiet times. We often have brief internal meetings over coffee in our living room before our work day begins to discuss projects and to-dos. We now collaborate on much more—which gives me the freedom to hand off more of the day-to-day items that I didn't enjoy, and has resulted (in my opinion) in stronger, more balanced work. I can think of worse ways to spend my days than with my best friend.

4. I still find plenty of reasons to return to my hometown. Next week I’ll once again be in Baltimore for a few days—and I’m really looking forward to it. From a work perspective, visiting in person with my clients and presenting at conferences has been extremely valuable. But spending time in Baltimore with family and old friends, going to weddings and Orioles games, visiting our former home church, etc., has done so much to make this move easier. It fills up my tank and gives me more perspective and appreciation of my life in Western Maryland. (Listening to books on CD from the local library makes the long drive pretty painless as well.)

5. Taking calculated risks often make sense if you’re not too tied to the expected outcome. Let me explain: Last summer, we held our hands wide open when we decided to make this life change. We went into it embracing the possibility that IT COULD BE A HUGE MISTAKE.

At the end of the day, would that be such a terrible thing? Either way, it would be an adventure, a cool story to tell. Two years down the road, we could always throw in the towel, move back to Baltimore, find a different path. Not going into this move with these high expectations of what this change would bring made all the difference. At the end of the day, life really is too short to be stuck on doubt and “what-ifs.”

A small side note: Sometimes you have no choice but to be attached to the outcome. For instance: marriage. When you marry someone, I think most of us deeply desire to be with that person for a long, long time. Otherwise, why would one make such a commitment?

But if you have the choice to not be attached to the outcome of a decision, it is so freeing! And in most life decisions, even big changes, you can choose to keep your hands and eyes wide open and know that it’s rarely about the outcome, anyway. Real life happens in the process, the journey, the transformation that occurs when you’re brave enough to imagine a different life for yourself.

So go on. Try it. I dare you.


What I've Learned: Part Two

Thanks for following along, everyone!

Here's some more tidbits I’ve learned over the past year since relocating my life (and CurlyRed) 200 miles west to Garrett County, MD:

6. It’s easy to become overcommitted anywhere. As I shared last week, being overcommitted and having little or no margin in my life was a driving force in our move. 

But even before we moved, as I was thinking about our new lives here, I realized something about myself: I’m an oldest child, and a people-pleaser by nature. My inclination is to say “yes” to anything anyone asks of me, even if it's not the best fit or may be emotionally/physically/mentally draining.

When you move to a small town, folks quickly figure out what you’re about, what you’re good at, and what you might be willing to do. So I needed to do the work of really evaluating each request that came my way, and be extremely selective about the things I say “yes” to. This book really helped me in this area.

7. Business dynamics in a small town are WAY different from doing business in and around a major city. Ahhh, yes. I could talk at length about this, but let’s just say: Garrett County is a very small community. Every person I’ve met here has long-time, deep connections with folks in every industry. Everyone has strong opinions about the best accountant (I'm looking at you, Brian Boal!), the best dentist, the best internet provider. 

CurlyRed has plenty of clients, both nationally and in the Baltimore area. But I was also hoping to grow locally. Being completely new to the area put me at a disadvantage (I am married to a quasi-local, so that does help a bit). Locals here are slow to trust outsiders. But I was also not privy to local businesses and their backstories—good and bad relationships, reputations, etc. So when I (blindly) stumbled into a sticky situation with a client and the competition of said client (with a complicated backstory), I remember feeling like this wouldn't have happened if this business was located in Baltimore. It's been a steep learning curve, to say the least. 

8. It hasn't gotten easier to not have family around. I hadn’t realized just how fortunate I was to have both of my parents and one of my two siblings less than 30 minutes away for so many years. Family is so incredibly important to both of us, so we’ve needed to increase the texts, phone calls, emails, and plans to visit for weekends and/or holidays to make up the difference.

9. A tight-knit network of neighbors and friends does make the absence of family more bearable. We’ve been so blessed to land in a neighborhood of some incredibly awesome folks (and several of them have kids the same age as ours). Our kids love spending time together, they have great taste in food and drinks, and make great conversation around a fire pit. But even better, they’ve helped out countless times when Mark or I have had meetings, doctor appointments, or a ride to pick up our car from the shop. And we’ve, in turn, been able to serve our neighbors in this same capacity. 

As I talked about last week, having friends nearby has been a great answer to homesickness. In the isolating wintertime, it became even more important for me to seek out community. I planned girls’ nights out, had friends over for coffee or dinner, and auditioned for the town play in order to meet even more like-minded folks. 

10. At the end of the day, most people don't care where CurlyRed is located. I worried about this so much when we moved. Now it seems almost silly. I mean, I had set up my business to run from anywhere, and my clients have become accustomed to see me in person maybe once or twice a year. As long as CurlyRed could continue doing creative, unique work while providing great customer service and maintaining those client relationships, all I really needed was reliable high-speed internet and time to take phone/video meetings. 

Now that Mark is working for CurlyRed full-time, we have this unique opportunity as a family to physically be wherever we want and do our work. We’re hoping this will lead to even more adventures moving forward. We’re already talking about taking a month, maybe the summer after next, to drive across the entire county. It's something I've always wanted to do, and now it won’t require winning the lottery or using 5 years of vacation time—it will only require a little advance planning. 


Thanks again for reading! Stay tuned for more life lessons next week.
good design for everyone