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I listen to a lot of business podcasts, and the most common guests are people who’ve been successful in some way: successful entrepreneurs, successful writers, etc.

The Successful Guest usually shares the story of their life from pre- to post-success: they look back and reflect on the hardships and lessons and struggles. Hindsight makes it easier to understand why all those things happened, and how that led them to where they are (success!) today.

But lately, I’m more interested in hearing and reading people’s stories while they’re still on the road to something bigger. What does it look and sound and feel like when you’re still in the middle of the hardships and lessons, with no guarantee that success is the end result? How does mindset help or hinder the journey? What are the thoughts going through your head immediately after a project goes wonky or a potential opportunity comes up?

So, this is me reporting from the middle. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know the How. I can’t guarantee success and I’m not 100% sure what it looks like. But I know I’ll keep going.

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It makes me a little nervous, but I have to be honest: I really like being on camera. So when the #CincyExperience asked me to be part of a video series about a day in the life of a Cincinnatian, I immediately said yes.

We filmed for a few hours on two separate days, and even though having to come up with dialogue on-the-spot felt a little awkward, doing multiple takes made me think “this must be how the Kardashians feel!”

Check out the video and let me know what you think: am I ready for reality TV?

Cincy Creators - Tamia Stinson - YouTube

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Project Management // Brand Development // Graphic & Web Design // Campaign Development

The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce wanted to shake up its decade-old brand and message. They’d started working with an agency at the end of 2017, but with just one full-time employee, hadn’t had time to complete the full rebrand. They brought me on to manage several projects and provide creative direction for a cohesive new brand.

I worked with design studio Jabeen Patrick to put the finishing touches on the new branding. They developed a helpful Brand Guide and some really fun elements to play around with.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Over-the-Rhine Chamber (@otrchamber) on Nov 27, 2018 at 2:12pm PST

We had an opportunity to put the new branding to use right away! I designed an ad for Cincinnati Gives, a new Sponsorship Packet, envelopes and letterhead, and materials for Second Sunday on Main. I also worked with the Chamber’s freelance designer to develop and lay out a new OTR Map + Guide—this one is folded for convenience!

HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN

I presented several concepts for a holiday campaign, and we decided on “Meet Your Maker”, a cheeky play on the #OTRMADE awards and hashtag they’ve been pushing for the past year or so. I developed an overall strategy and timeline, and wrote and designed the campaign materials.

WEBSITE

The website needed to be updated to reflect the new brand too. I created wireframes, wrote and edited copy, and designed the layout, which I then handed over to a developer.

As a long-time resident of the area, it’s extremely rewarding to be a part of bringing the OTR brand to life. If you need help launching your brand or developing marketing campaigns, get in touch!

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Welcome to Holiday Season, when buying gifts for people you love is encouraged if not mandatory. While gifts can be a wonderful gesture (receiving gifts is my Love Language; I wear a US 7 shoe…), last year I had a personal epiphany:

I’m over the obligatory gift-giving madness of Christmas.

Chalk it up to aging, but I’m completely uninterested in the holiday shopping rat-race. It’s increasingly difficult to think of what gifts to ask for, because if I want something, I buy it myself (adulthood, amirite?). I don’t want presents, I want presence. I just want your extra TIME.

I’d much rather spend a wintry afternoon with people I care about instead of racing around a crowded mall by myself, feverishly hunting down stuff that will likely end up in a landfill at some point. Even online shopping has lost some of its allure—yeah, it’s easy, but it’s so impersonal.

While I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they open the perfect present, those moments are fleeting. I keep asking myself: do I really want to spend hours running the gauntlet of capitalist consumerism just for a 30-second reaction?

So my compromise is this: I’ll buy you a gift, but we have to shop for it together. If you don’t want a gift, I’ll treat you to coffee/lunch/dinner. We get to hang out, you get what you want, I get some quality time. Sure, we lose the element of surprise, but we gain the memories we’ll make together.

Last time I checked, you can’t buy that on Amazon.

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I’v had several opportunities to get dope photos taken (see herehere and here), but when the team at Studio 821 offered to help me out with new headshots, I jumped at the offer.

Rather than the traditional smiling-with-my-arms crossed photos, I wanted to do something more colorful and beauty-focused. My usual MO is neutral colors and a basic facebeat, so I was counting on the genius of makeup artist Trina Paul of Pout Studio and photographer Michael Matzko to bring me to the next level. And man, did they deliver:

Big thanks to Trina, Michael, and Studio 821 for this fun shoot! You can find them and over 100 more talented image-makers in the Tether Directory—check it out now!

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Have you ever thought about the amount of engineering that goes into making sewn-together scraps of fabric perfectly fit your body? It’s kind of magical. And it feels like the ultimate wardrobe indulgence.

Romualdo is a bespoke tailoring business that’s been around since 1968, so when my friend Micah of Fallon Thatcher invited me to be part of a campaign for their new line of women’s custom blazers, I jumped right on it.

If you’ve ever had custom clothing made, you know how special it is to have a piece that’s been created just for you. It seems like it would be intimidating to get measured and fitted for clothing when you’re used to trolling the “just in” section on The Outnet (just me?), but the process is a lot simpler—and more fun—than it seems. It only took two trips!

The first fitting was super easy and surprisingly interesting: they took measurements for things I’d never even thought of before. Everyone knows the usual bust-waist-hips, but how often do you think about how your back curves when you’re standing or how much space you need to bend your elbows? Tailors do!

Once I was measured, I got to do the fun stuff: picking fabrics and trims and details (oh, my!). I picked a beautiful textured purple material—of course—and decided on a single-breasted style with a notched lapel, flap pockets, tortoiseshell buttons, and navy blue lining. Bonus points for the inside coin pocket (women’s clothing doesn’t always have useful things like pockets, so this is exciting to me) and my name stitched in the lining like a boss.

For the campaign, we had a photo shoot promoting the new women’s line at Aaron Conway‘s studio, and Lyndsey of Glossa did my makeup*. It was hella fun, and reminded me how much I enjoy being on set.

When you order a bespoke piece, you have to be more patient than you would be buying something at Zara or whatever, but it’s definitely worth it. Because LOOK HOW COOL WE ARE. You can be, too.

A post shared by Romualdo (@romualdobespoke) on May 31, 2018 at 7:24am PDT

Book an appointment at Romualdo here, and follow @romualdobespoke on Instagram.

*I always have to do my own hair. Where are the folks who can do natural hair??

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It’s been a while! For the past year and some change, I’ve been busy creating Tether, a community and agency for creative image-makers like photographers, stylists, producers, and more. It’s been a fun ride and I’ve learned a lot about myself, building a brand, and the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.

As much as I’d like to have it all figured out, I don’t—which is very uncomfortable for me—but I’d like to share what I have learned for the sake of documentation and in the hopes that it helps someone else. The biggest lessons so far:

1. Planning the work is not doing the work

I am a true planner at heart. Give me a calendar, kanban board, spreadsheet, or timeline and I’m in heaven. (Srsly, have you seen Airtable? Obsessed.)

But while making lists and setting dates and determining goals is useful, nothing is as useful as actually doing the work. If that means jumping in without a prioritized to-do list and carefully planned blocks of time, do it. If that means you start with the easiest thing instead of “eating the frog” first, do that. If that means doing a fun low-priority Instagram post before getting to a scary high-priority phone call to boost your productivity self-esteem, do that.

The point is to DO. Doing makes the difference.

2. Perfection is a myth

Look, I deal with the “you have to be twice as as good” mentality (it’s true.) I read and re-reread emails and texts before sending. I spend too much time scooching a logo over millimeter by millimeter to ensure it’s perfectly aligned. I research pretty much everything until I’m blue in the face to make sure I’m doing things “the right way.” All of the above is in pursuit of perfection.

But perfection is a myth. Most everything can be improved upon, and the best products are continuously being updated and enhanced. Remember how long Gmail was in beta?

The point is not to create something perfect, the point is to get something out there. You can “perfect” it later, once you have actual data about what’s working and what’s not. My favorite rule:

Ship when it hits B-.

Get your offering to the point where you like it enough to give it a slightly-above-average grade, and go live. The point is to get it out there!

3. The team makes the dream

I’m still working on this, but one thing that’s made itself clear to my overly-independent self is that you can’t do everything.

You need people around you to help, to counter your ideas and offer up their own. I’m not saying you’re not smart, but like Sway, you ain’t got the answers—at least not all of them. And that’s okay.

The team is heavily weighted in startup culture for a reason, and for new ventures, team members who are like Swiss army knives—people who can do a bit of everything and wear many hats—are invaluable.

Finding the right combination of people takes time and energy, but can make all the difference to your stress level and the quality of your product. Start pulling other people into the fold sooner rather than later; it’ll make a big difference.

Want to hear more?

I shared this advice and more on a recent episode of the Creative City podcast featuring the 2018 Haile Fellows. As a trio of type-A women, it got real when we started talking about the ins and outs of making ideas happen. Listen here:

Creative City #40 - 2018 Haile Fellows Nicole Armstrong & Elisa Hoffman - SoundCloud
(2455 secs long, 85 plays)Play in SoundCloud

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