Things that are true about acting AND business

by M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer, CurlyRed

Tonight is opening night for a production called Almost, Maine at the quaint playhouse Our Town Theatre in Oakland, Maryland. We're even featured on the cover of the local newspaper!
photo courtesy of Our Town Theatre (I'm on the bottom left!)
A few months ago, notices for open auditions came across my social media stream, and I thought, “Wow. It's been ages (6 years, give or take) since I've been on-stage. I miss it. Maybe it would be good for me, to meet some new people in this new town, and give me something to do on these cold winter evenings.” And that was the extent of my thought process before walking into auditions.

In the past 6 weeks, I feel like I've learned so much about acting as a craft. Then I began wondering how much of what I've learned on-stage translates to running a business. Here are some things that are true about both acting AND business:

1. Humility is key. This is my first attempt at performing in a non-musical, which meant that I really did have a ton to learn: pages of lines to memorize, working on facial expressions, learning to convey and shift from one emotion to another, learning how to make dialogue with another actor flow easily and naturally, and so on. It would have been easy for me to waltz into that first rehearsal with a huge ego given my past experience, but that wouldn't have served me, my director, or my fellow cast members at all. So I tried to keep my mouth shut, ears open, and asked for feedback regularly.

2. Unbiased opinions can be game-changing. My mom (who has directed theatre in the past) was in town, and I asked her to come to one of our rehearsals, when we were running through my toughest scene. This particular scene has the largest range of emotions, going from sadness to irritation to full-on rage. I was completely unsure of how to approach this scene. But right after rehearsal, my mom was able to give me verbal cues and moments to watch for, and even helped form an overall trajectory in my mind from where I needed to start emotionally and where I needed to end. Her comments were immensely helpful, and I'm extremely grateful she was there.

3. Building relationships and trust take time and consistency. I knew no one in the cast or crew at that first practice. No one knew me or my story. This was in some ways refreshing, but also daunting, considering how intimate acting can be. I needed to gain the trust of my cast, espeically my co-star Cory, with whom I share all 3 of my scenes. This required asking questions, being open and transparent about my own life, making the occasional silly comments, and simply trying my best to be kind and considerate. Now I think of everyone in the cast and crew as a friend of mine, and what a blessing that is! 

4. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does build strength. Learning my lines was WAY more difficult than I imagined it would be. Perhaps that's because I'm 35, or just out of practice. But the only way I was going to become confident in knowing my part inside and out was hours and hours of practice. There's no shortcut, but now that I've completed the hard work, my roles have become almost muscle memory—I no longer have to panic about what line comes next, it's just there, waiting for me.

5. It's all about listening and genuinely reacting. This was what makes a good actor. Knowing my lines was essential, but then as soon as I did, I needed to “forget” my co-star's lines. I need to pretend like I have no idea what he's going to say or do next, and instead, really listen and react to what he's saying as if it's for the very first time. Man, it's so hard. And yet, that's what the authenticity comes in. My ultimate hope is that what I do on-stage will be so believable, that for a moment the audience will forget that they are watching me, and only see the characters I play.

Set for Almost, Maine | photo courtesy of Our Town Theatre
In my 10 years of running CurlyRed, I've seen so many of these things to be true about owning a business as well. Humility and willingness to receiving feedback from others is essential to my growth. Building relationships the right way has served me very well. Practicing my craft keeps me on top of my game. And really listening and reacting with integrity helps me do my best work for my clients. For those who are in the Western Maryland area, please come out and see me do some serious acting! Reservations can be made here.


Featured Client: The Institute For Integrative Health

It's hard to truly articulate all of the amazing things our client, The Institute For Integrative Health in Baltimore, does. So instead, we'll share how they describe themselves on the website:

“Despite great advances in medical knowledge and technology, chronic disease affects one in three Americans, leads to 70 percent of U.S. deaths, and accounts for 75 percent of health care costs. The United States spends twice as much as other modern nations on health care, yet the health of Americans is poorer and our lifespans are shorter.

To provide an environment for innovative thinking and action that will help to reverse this crisis, Brian Berman, MD, founded the Institute for Integrative Health in 2007. A charitable nonprofit organization, the Institute aims to create a wellness and medical model to shift our society’s focus from managing disease to promoting lifelong health.

Valuing the power of interdisciplinary collaboration, we pursue bold ideas that challenge the status quo and use cutting-edge science to understand the dynamic processes that affect our well-being. We incorporate this insight into actionable programs for individuals and communities.”

Quite noble work, right there. So we were delighted to begin working with Robin Yasinow, Imani West, and the entire team at TIIF. Over the past few years, CurlyRed has designed annual reports, invitations, newsletters and flyers for TIIF. Working with them has been a delight. We truly love creating good design for organization that has done so much good. Here are a few of our favorites from the past few years:

If you're looking for print design help for your company or non-profit, please contact us!


Upcoming presentations, right here in Garrett County!

Over the past decade, M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer of CurlyRed, has done a decent amount of public speaking about design, branding, marketing, and owning her own business.

In the next few weeks, you'll have two opportunities to see Kendall present (if you're in the Western Maryland region—or just feel like making a long road trip):

1. Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 8:30am. Kendall will be presenting to the Greater Oakland Business Association (GOBA) on “Why Social Media Needs to be Part of Your Marketing Plan.” The meeting will explore what social media options are out there, what simple steps any business can (and should) take to get started, how to make a plan to be most effective online, and how to avoid time-consuming social media mistakes. Any business owner or organization director with questions or concerns in regards to social media should find value in this presentation. The meeting will take place at the Oakland City Hall. 

2. Friday, April 28th, 2017, Time TBD. Kendall will be presenting at the Power of Possibilities Summit on “How to Create a Dynamic and Powerful Website.” This talk will explore the different options one has when creating a new website, and things every website should include. Kendall will also talk about the crucial steps in the process of creating a website that's user-friendly, responsive, easy-to-navigate, visually compelling, and drives the viewer to a call-to-action. This talk is perfect for business owners or heads of organizations that don't yet have a web presence or are considering a re-vamp of an existing website. The summit will take place at Garrett College.

We hope to see you there!


Monthly Pinterest: Everything Zelda Fitzgerald

Is anyone else just in love with the Amazon series “Z: The Beginning of Everything”? Christina Ricci and David Hoflin (playing Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald) are both magical and compelling. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in their lives: the fashion, the art deco style, the blissful words they wrote, the jazz music and flowing champagne.

We’re feeling inspired and wishing we could attend just one all-weekend-long party at Gatsby's mansion. 


Featured Client: Twin Tails Event Farm

Twin Tails Event Farm is our second local client here in Garrett County, Maryland—the venue is located about 12 minutes north of CurlyRed. When we got a chance to see the property in person, we were inspired to create branding and a web presence that was as beautiful, elegant and rustic as the location itself.

The “cow tails” branding was inspired by the venue name, as well as our client’s other business (Karen Hineman is also the proud owner of the successful Slippery Mermaid sushi restaurants in Navarre, Florida and Sewickley, Pennsylvania).

The fully responsive, custom Wordpress website we created for Twin Tails showcases drone video footage of the property, as well as information about the venue spaces and catering options.

Here's what Ms. Hineman had to say when the Twin Tails Event Farm site went live:

“Oh my goodness....I just looked at the site and it is gorgeous. Can you say that about a web site? I ran it by my sister in law, who will be participating in the venue, and she got teary eyed...It is really very well done!....The web site is so stunning and way above and beyond...”

Contact us today if you want to be “wow”ed by your web presence!


Only 13 days left of First Fruits February!

Have you been thinking about beginning a new branding, print or web project with CurlyRed? Now is the time!

You see, all month long, we want to give thanks for being in business for 10 years by donating ten percent of what we bring in back to the community. We have chosen two charities: The Community Crisis Center in Baltimore (our hometown), and the Dove Center in Garrett County (our new community). 

 The Dove Center, in Oakland, Maryland provides “safety, advocacy, and counseling to individuals whose lives have been shattered by domestic violence and/or sexual assault, and strives to expand public awareness of those issues.”

The Community Crisis Center in Baltimore “is a nonprofit 501(3)c human service organization dedicated to the prevention of homelessness for residents of Reisterstown, Owings Mills and Glyndon (in Baltimore County, MD) through the provision of emergency food items, personal hygiene products, school supplies, financial literacy, and monthly grants for eviction-prevention and utility assistance.”

Thanks in advance for helping us give back to these two wonderful organizations. 


CurlyRed Appoints New Vice President and Principal Developer

Ten-year-old design and marketing firm expands to meet growing digital demand

Mtn. Lake Park, MD - CurlyRed (curlyred.com) announced today that Mark Ludwig has joined the CurlyRed team. Mark Ludwig comes with a wealth of experience within the marketing industry, having spent the last fours years at Warschawski, a full-service PR and marketing firm in Baltimore. There, Mark served as the Director of Design Development, managing the creative team at Warschawski and creating beautiful, fully-custom, responsive websites, email newsletters, branding, annual reports and more.

Mark Ludwig, Vice President and Principal Developer, CurlyRed
Mark joins CurlyRed as Vice President and Principal Developer, where he will be instrumental in furthering CurlyRed’s vision in creating “good design for everyone.” Mark will be responsible for the planning, development, execution and implementation for CurlyRed's internal website as well as all client websites. Mark will plan, organize and lead CurlyRed's developers to meet the firm's standards and strategic goals and ensure design and functionality consistency across all sites it creates. Mark comments, “I'm thrilled to be working with CurlyRed, and M. Kendall Ludwig again. CurlyRed consistently produces excellent work and truly displays caring and thoughtfulness to all of its clients. I fully believe in the mission of ‘good design for everyone’ and I hope that I will continue delivering amazing results, with integrity, to our clients.”

M. Kendall Ludwig, President and Principal Designer said “I’ve referred to Mark as a ‘web guru’ for years, and I couldn't be more pleased that CurlyRed will now have the full benefit of his expertise. Mark is creative, driven, and adored by clients and colleagues alike—thanks to his problem-solving, sense of fairness, and articulate manner. I look forward to see how
CurlyRed will continue to grow with Mark acting as second-in-command.” 

About CurlyRed: Since 2007, CurlyRed has provided fresh, captivating and timeless design, branding, print and web solutions for numerous companies and nonprofits across the country. CurlyRed is a virtual team of local talent including: designers, developers, writers, photographers, illustrators, videographers, public relations and social media experts. In 2011, CurlyRed was officially certified as a MBE/WBE business by the State of Maryland. In August of 2016, CurlyRed relocated from Baltimore to Mtn. Lake Park, and looks forward to working with more businesses and nonprofits in Western Maryland.
good design for everyone