12.04.2017

We've Chosen our Recipients for 2018's First Fruits February!



First off, thank you to everyone who submitted their non-profit for consideration for CurlyRed's 2018 First Fruits February! 

We had several great choices, and two extra-special organizations to stood out to us. We couldn’t choose between them, so we’ve decided on TWO non-profit recipients, one in Baltimore, MD and one in Garrett County, MD. 



Congratulations to Simple Sacrifice (visit Simple Sacrifice's website here) and I Can Swim (visit I Can Swim's website here), as our 2018 First Fruits February recipients! We’ll be sharing more of what each of these very worth organizations are up to in the coming months. 

Thanks again and we hope you have a wonderful week!

11.29.2017

One week left! Join us at our End of an Era party!



Have you gotten your ticket yet? Next Wednesday night is going to be an epic time!
_________

SHOW US YOUR MASK & CELEBRATE OUR HISTORY
DEC 6TH, 7PM AT THE ELEPHANT

At the end of this year B'More Creatives will be closing as a networking group for women in the creative profession in Baltimore. Join us for a private celebration on the 2nd floor of The Elephant in Mt Vernon as we celebrate the end of an era.

True to form, we want you to get creative with us. Come wearing a masquerade-style mask of your choice. Of course feathers and glitter are always welcome.

OUR HISTORY:
B'More Creatives was started in 2004 and came into the Baltimore scene at a time when there wasn't a lot of activity for creative professionals. We've hosted networking events, learning seminars, round table discussions, fostered a mentor program, and more. It's been an amazing journey. Now Baltimore's creative scene is more than thriving and our time is coming to a close. We are ready to go out in style and hope you'll join us.

WHAT'S INCLUDED WITH YOUR TICKET
- 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)

TICKETS: $40 - https://bmorecreativeslegacy.splashthat.com/


11.28.2017

Happy Giving Tuesday! We're still accepting nominations!

#givingtuesday is a wonderful day of giving back to organizations that desperately need it! Our favorite global non-profit is Compassion International, where you can sponsor a child in need and change his or her life!
 

This upcoming February of 2018, we'd like to donate the full 10% to one Maryland-based non-profit, suggested by you. We've heard back from a few of you, but there's still time to nominate your organization!

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 THIS FRIDAY, December 1st, 2017 to be considered.
We look forward to hearing from you!

11.20.2017

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/

11.15.2017

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!

11.08.2017

We've Chosen our Recipients for 2018's First Fruits February!


First off, thank you to everyone who submitted their non-profit for consideration for CurlyRed's 2018 First Fruits February! 

We had several great choices, and two extra-special organizations to stood out to us. We couldn’t choose between them, so we’ve decided on TWO non-profit recipients, one in Baltimore, MD and one in Garrett County, MD. 



Congratulations to Simple Sacrifice (visit Simple Sacrifice's website here) and I Can Swim (visit I Can Swim's website here), as our 2018 First Fruits February recipients! We’ll be sharing more of what each of these very worth organizations are up to in the coming months. Thanks again and we hope you have a wonderful week!


10.11.2017

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.



10.04.2017

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!

9.20.2017

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.

9.14.2017

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.

9.06.2017

What I've Learned: Part One

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

Now that my year-long experiment of positing to Instagram once a day is over, I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned. In both my personal and professional life, some things have changed quite a bit, and some things haven't.

I figured I'd start by sharing a few life lessons for you:

1. Even wanted change is hard. If you’ve ever read this fantastic book, then you already know how much we humans fight even really good change. You get set in a pattern, for better or worse, and breaking it can feel like a major loss. I spent the first few months living in Garrett County alternating between being thrilled and terrified. Will I make friends? Will I fit in? How will my kids do? How will this affect my business?  And yet, change forces us out of our comfort zone, and to grow in new ways. Looking back, the “pros” of relocating have certainly outweighed the “cons.”

2. Every part of my being was craving more margin. Another wonderful book describes margin as a spiritual discipline of leaving space in one's life intentionally empty. Every day since moving, there have been moments standing at the bus stop, or sitting in a cafe, or looking out from my porch, and just being present. And it wasn't until this became my new normal that I realized how much I used to suffer, mentally and emotionally, from my lack of margin. Rushing from thing to thing is no longer part of my daily life, and I don't miss it one bit.

Day 365 from my Instagram feed.
3. Unscheduled downtime is extremely underrated. This is similar to point 2, but I’ve found just having open spaces of time, either by myself or with my family, is crucial to my well-being. Having fully-planned weekends (even full of fun things) would often leave me even more drained. Having the flexibility to go for a hike or go take a nap gives me that beautiful feeling of freedom, and has very much increased my joy.

4. Homesickness is valid—and shouldn't be downplayed. I remember one Sunday shortly following my move, when I was not only missing the Ravens game, but also two other Baltimore happenings—and my heart hurt. A lot. Instead of pushing those feelings away, I shared them (over some shed tears) with Mark and a neighbor who has become a good friend (even though I felt a bit like a whiny child). I immediately felt the sadness lift, but not disappear. I know I'll continue to experience bouts of homesickness—and that's very much ok. 

5. CurlyRed has amazing clients. The amount of support, well wishes and grace that has been extended to me and my company over the past year has been nothing short of remarkable. It has made this transition infinitely easier to know that so many of you have stood by CurlyRed, and continued to work with us. In turn, we’ve been able to do inspired, creative work with fresh eyes and refreshed spirits. To say “thank you” for this gift will never be enough.

Please stay tuned over the next few weeks to read more.

8.22.2017

Fall 2017 Web Internship Available!



CurlyRed Inc. is a local branding, print and web graphic design company that is looking an intern for Fall 2017.

This internship is open to college students working on their degree in website or digital design and/or development. It is an unpaid position, preferably for college credit. The days/hours for this internship are very flexible, CurlyRed will work around class and work schedules. This internship is on-site, but some hours may be able to be completed remotely. The internship will start in September and conclude in December of 2017.

Intern duties:    
• Assisting Ms. M. Kendall Ludwig (President of CurlyRed) and Mr. Mark Ludwig
   (Vice-President) with the 
production (and possible design) of digital projects, including
   but not limited to: custom websites, emails, 
web banners, and social media assets.
• Scanning images, color correcting or modifying images, and updating design files.
• Providing administrative office support, including file and database management,
   answering the phone, 
and other office-related tasks.
• Possibly accompanying Ms. and Mr. Ludwig to occasional client meetings and/or
   networking events.


Candidates should have:    
• Proficiency with the following graphics programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat,
   and the Google Suite.

• Basic working knowledge of the following coding languages: HTML, CSS, PHP,
   JavaScript, and jQuery.

• Basic working knowledge of CMS platforms, including WordPress. 
• Some samples or a portfolio of design work.
• Reliable transportation—CurlyRed is located in the Mtn. Lake Park, MD area.
• Excellent communication and organization skills.
• Ability to work independently.
• Desire to learn about the business side as well as the creative side or owning a
   creative business.


If you fit the bill, please fill out a contact form or call us at 410.878.2068 today! Together, we can work to bring good design to everyone.


8.16.2017

Featured Client: Ojas Wellness Center

A client CurlyRed has enjoyed working with from quite some time is also the best place in Baltimore to go for a facial or massage: Ojas

We wanted to feature them today because they are celebrating the opening of a brand new location in Cockeysville and we've loved watching them grow! 



We adore the philosophy they speak of on the Ojas website

We’re here for the same reason.

Because we believe in our potential to live a better life.

Because we choose power over pain.

Because we want to thrive, not merely exist.

We know the value in drinking water, taking walks, finding quiet moments for ourselves.

We know that personal growth starts with positive thinking.

We are miracle-minded.

We practice an attitude of gratitude.

We recognize happiness is the gift we give ourselves.

And we are all part of a great circle of wellness – where the healed become healers and the healers become healed.

Where when you feel better, we feel better, and on, and on, and on.

Together, we are Ojas.

At CurlyRed, we help Ojas with creative visuals (including custom signage, vehicle wraps, social media assets, emails, and even in-store decor) to achieve their mission! Here are some of our favorite pieces we've created for them over the years. 

Cheers to many more years of success, Ojas!

8.05.2017

CurlyRed Office to be Closed Until Friday, August 11th


We’re closing up shop to spend some fun family time down the ocean, hon!

Our office will re-open Friday, August 11th. If you have any immediate needs before then, please contact our office assistant Alandra at 410.878.2068 or office@curlyred.com.

7.12.2017

CurlyRed named now been named an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm!



We have a special announcement today: In addition to our Certification as a Minority Business Enterprise with the State of Maryland, CurlyRed has now been named an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm!


Why does this matter?

The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

This means that CurlyRed can now assist companies that are doing business with the Federal Government in reaching their HUBZone requirements!

If your company, or a company you know, has the need to connect with an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm, we want to hear from you! Please contact us today to set up a free consultation and to receive our Capabilities Brochure.

7.05.2017

Featured Client: The Maryland Book Bank


We’ve worked on so many fun projects this year! And this one was no exception, because it combined three things we love: in this case, The Baltimore Ravens, reading and helping children.


The Maryland Book Bank is a Baltimore-based non-profit that distributes over 150,000 free books to children, teachers, schools and organizations each year! We worked with The Maryland Book Bank a few years ago to help them revamp their branding. Then they reached back out with us with an interesting challenge: to create a bookmark that featured that Ravens, would appeal to kids, and would be able to be colored.


We had a blast creating this piece that features reading tips on one side, and books full of a crazy patterns on the other side. Here's what our client had to say:

CurlyRed was fantastic to work with. They interpreted our vision very well and were very accommodating when it came to changes. The turnaround was quick and the finished product was incredible. The children love the bookmarks and we will be working with CurlyRed on other projects soon.”
—Mark Feiring, Executive Director, The Maryland Book Bank

6.21.2017

How to Use Instagram to Elevate Your Brand



A few folks have asked for the notes from my presentation from last Friday for The Baltimore Business Journal. So I've done one better—here are the take-aways from my talk.
_____


This is my car, the one my husband found for me last October. It's a red Mini Cooper Countryman, and as I soon found out—it's the only one like it in all of Garrett County. I told the story of how I was stopped by a gentleman in a restaurant and asked about the car. He proceeded to tell me he had “seen me around.” This has now happened to me several times!

Creepy, right?!?

The reason I told this story is because, as anyone in marketing can tell you, we all have brands. We have personal brands, and we have company brands. My Mini Cooper has become part of my personal brand in Garrett County, but also is in line with my CurlyRed brand, because, duh, it’s red, but also it’s well-designed and memorable.

Instagram can be used much the same way.


When we moved, I decided, without a lot of intention, to post one picture a day to my Instagram feed. Now I’m up to day 294. Each day I find something beautiful or interesting to photograph. As you’ve seen, I even add a quote in Photoshop from time to time. Posting each day to Instagram helps to remind myself why we moved here, espeically on the days when the weather is less than ideal or I find myself face-to-face with homesickness.

Capturing new sights and adventures on my Instagram feed has led to the doubling of the size of my following. So I also occasionally feature CurlyRed work we create that I’m especially proud of—like this new website for a custom woodworking shop in Maryland.

Ok, Kendall, that’s nice and all, but what about me? How can Instagram help me?

I adore Instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform by far. I love that it’s primarily visual. I love that (for the most part) it has side-stepped much of the nonsense you find these days on Facebook. Over 600 million people are currently using Instagram, with 400 million of those users on the site daily.  55 percent of all 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States are using Instagram, but the platform has a broad age range in usage, unlike some other platforms.

BUT—I DON'T love that Instagram allows advertising. I don’t like how it messes with my user experience. Every bit of building my following has come organically from my content.

That being said, In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad. So it clearly works. If you are interested in building your brand or investing money on Instagram, let’s look at some best practices:



 This might go without saying, but your content MUST be visually compelling.
The copy should be the support, but the photo or video content must tell the story.




Tag People Involved. If this is a collaboration with other individuals or companies,
tag them to increase exposure and share the love.


Use Hashtags Often. This is the best way to get discovered by others,
and should be related to your content. A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s
unique to your business. It can be as simple as your company name, tagline,
or the name of one of your products or campaigns.


Use Geo Locations. This is another way to get discovered,
espeically if you're a small business local for local customers.
Image Carousels. If you’re going to advertise,
it’s a great way to feature multiple products. 




Instagram Stories ads. This feature changes the way Instagram
users interact with ads—allowing users to feel like they’re in the ad.


Instagram Insights (business accounts only). 
Analytics are good for tracking what's working and what's not working.
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I hope these tips have been helpful! If you need additional help taking your
Instagram presence to the next level, please contact us.

6.06.2017

Client Spotlight: W.C. Bird

In CurlyRed's ten years of business, I had a first last week:

I attended the funeral of a client. 

W.C. Bird, passed away unexpectedly on May 22nd, 2017 from heart complications. I had only known him a few short months. We were paired together after he invented and secured a patent for a baseball/softball training tool. W.C. was taking an Entrepreneur class at Garrett College and was hoping to win the business plan competition that was a part of the Power of Possibilities conference, just a few weeks before he passed away. 

Although he didn't win that competition, it was a joy and honor to work along side him. He was kind, caring, always smiling, extremely hard-working, never condescending (even though he could be my dad!), and full of integrity. 

A quick snippet from his obituary shows what an incredible human he has:

Walter Clifton WC Bird, 72, of Morgantown WV died unexpectedly May 22, 2017, from heart complications. WC was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church. A man of great compassion and personal caring, he was a trusted advisor and mentor to many. He had a particular expertise in helping people prepare to enter the workforce. His outreach went well beyond the career and employment spectrum. He touched lives in many different ways. 

Born in Morgantown, WV and a graduate of Morgantown High School he was a 1968 graduate of West Virginia University School of Journalism. While attending WVU, he was inducted in membership to Mountain, Sphinx, and the Scabbard & Blade honoraries. He was a 1965 initiate of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity which he continued to serve throughout his life. He is the immediate past President of the James Cochran House Association. He was a member of the WVU Letterman Club having earned his Varsity Letter in Tennis, a sport which he enjoyed his entire life. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Signal Corp. He served a full tour in Vietnam where he earned the Bronze Star. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. 

After his service to the country, WC began a career with Scott Paper Company starting in sales and progressing through various management assignments. He retired as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Along with his wife, Madonna, his first venture after leaving the corporate world was to develop Ash Mill Farm, a bed and breakfast in Bucks County, PA which they operated for 7 years, welcoming the public into their home. He returned to Morgantown where he could enjoy a varied number of passions. 

He was an artist, architect, and inventor at heart. He was known for his carved and painted gourds. He loved designing and building a variety of things. Inspired by his grandchildren, he engineered a training device to help young baseball and softball players learn to hit and pitch for which he was awarded a patent. He took great pleasure in his affiliation with the Friends of the Art Museum. He tended his garden with the same love and care that he tended to people and his garden always flourished.

As I sat through the service, I was overwhelmed by emotion—not because we were very close, but because I wish I had known him longer. What an incredible legacy to leave behind—to be known first and foremost as someone who loves and serves others.

__________

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

This beautiful hymn called the “Hymn of Promise” by Natalie Sleeth, was written for her husband who had recently died. The lyrics resonated with me and seemed to be a perfect end to celebrate W.C's life. W.C., you will be very truly missed.
 
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