I've been working in marketing communications for over 20 years, researching for almost 10, writing stories and baking since I was seven or eight, and making and selling pots for just under two years. I built my marketing career in California and British Columbia in a wide range of industries - technology to entertainment to large consumer brands. But it has been making and selling pots that has given me a new joy for marketing communications and an understanding of what artisans and very small business owners face when it comes to communicating about their products. So I really get it, what it's like to balance making and creating with all the demands of business in today's world. I'm passionate about teaching and training, and love seeing artisans empowered when they know how to use social media platforms and other marketing tools to get their work noticed.
The Longer (but not complete) Story
Once upon a time there was a little girl who was cheeky, curious and charming and who just knew that whatever she put her mind to she could achieve. She knew, before she knew the idiom or even what an idiom was, that the world was her oyster and she was going to find lots of pearls… Wait, this isn’t what you were expecting? It does say “my story” up above after all. Perhaps you were thinking you’d find something more traditional. You’re here because you want to get to know me, my experience, and just why you can trust me to help you with your precious creations. I want you to know me just a little bit because I want you to be excited to work with me.
First and foremost, I am a storyteller. I love telling stories. I love hearing stories. When I was a kid I looked forward to summer vacation not just because I could play all day but also because my mom would take me to the library and I could check out as many books as I wanted and stay up as late as I wanted reading.
It was THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD!
I come from a family of storytellers. My dad would make up stories. My mom even wrote and illustrated one just for me called Tabitha and the Dragon, about a fearless girl-knight and a dragon. I still love stories about dragons. Give me a book with dragons and I'm sold. My grandmother made up stories for me, too. I wrote my first non-fiction short story about her and her life as a dancer. And I illustrated it with some really awesome crayon drawings of ballet shoes on construction paper. It was quite the undertaking.
So my story is, I love hearing stories and telling stories. I write because it's what lights me up, it's what gets me excited, it energizes me. It keeps me at home with my fur babies - I'm unabashedly dog crazy and I’m building a life so I can spend more time with them walking on the beach and chasing sticks when I'm not in the studio making pots or working with amazing artists.
Today I’m a marketing coach/trainer, writer, website builder, ceramics artist, and pottery studio assistant (so I can keep learning and get terrifically dirty), but it’s been a long and curvy road with lots of stops along the way. I've been working in marketing communications since I was 16. My first two jobs were as a marketing assistant at a small boutique Sonoma County winery and as a public relations assistant at a boutique PR firm that served the California wine industry. I honed my communications teeth writing press releases and those handy shelf talkers that tell you all about how delicious that bottle of wine on the shelf is. I learned first-hand about what happens when you have a communications plan that is disconnected from a brand - trying to market very low-end sparkling wine to passionate home chefs who buy their products from premium retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Dean and Deluca? That's a plan that's destined to fail and I experienced that failure, albeit as a lowly assistant whose primary responsibility was to send out boxes filled with cheap sparkling wine and cheap-looking aprons to leading food writers around the country.
My corporate marketing and branding career includes work for Sonoma County wineries and for leading technology companies, entertainment, education and design, all in the San Francisco Bay Area. The job that really started it all, after those first jobs that put me through university, was a total fluke and I got it because of who I knew. Because that's the way it happens, right? A friend of my then sister-in-law worked for a small (350 people) software company in the San Francisco Bay Area. They needed an entry-level copywriter for data sheets and brochures. I could write, I was intelligent and presented well. They loved me. I was back from a year in Japan and holding on to a crumbling marriage that wasn’t much fun to go home to. They wanted a go-getter who didn't mind working long hours. And they were going to pay me to write, even if it was about obscure, very complex software. I was sold. Flash forward a few years and that same company had grown to close to 3,000 people, acquired companies around the world, I was regularly charging $3,000 dinners for 7 people on my corporate AmEx, hotel chefs were catering private dinners for my team at midnight as we prepped for a major press conference in the morning and then massage therapists came at around 4am to give us massages to "de-stress" us as we worked all night. The dot com boom was my oyster and but instead of pearls I had a big designer shoe collection. I flew around the world, leading brand training in our Asian offices during the day while the head of our Asia-Pacific sales team took me and my agency team on a late-night foray through the back alleys of Seoul to meet in a tiny, empty apartment where guys dumped out huge garbage bags full of counterfeit/stolen Prada and Louis Vuitton bags and wallets. My agency guys were stoked because they could bring their wives home the latest must-have bag. I got one of those Takashi Murakami-Vuitton wallets for about 50 bucks. The wallet is long gone, but the story and the memory? Well, what can I say. Those are still fresh and rich in my mind.
What about the dot com crash you ask?
Yep, I was there too and I weathered the storm, held on to my job, and even got promoted. However, like so many people, the more “successful” I became, the unhappier I felt. At the peak of that career I chucked it all and moved to a tiny town in the mountains of British Columbia to work with a group of uber-talented Gen Y guys with an ultra cool design firm. When that diversion wasn’t enough I fulfilled one of my fantasies and went to work in an indie bookstore for a year. I spent most of my salary on books. It was awesome.
The bookstore was fun, but not much of a challenge so I went back to school for a PhD in anthropology. I studied local food, community, neo-liberal economic policy and sustainability for seven years, just for myself. And in the process I rediscovered my love and passion for writing and what it can mean for small businesses, not only big global corporations.
What else defines me? I’ve lived overseas several times and much to my chagrin forgotten the lion’s share of four different foreign languages. I’ve traveled all by myself because none of my friends could join me at the time and while sometimes it was lonely it was also amazing. I love to create with my hands as well as my mind and have become, much to my complete surprise, a ceramics artist actually selling my work (what!). I live on a small island in British Columbia that is beautiful, cozy, and infuriating all at the same time.
You could say I’ve reinvented myself numerous times, and I’m sure I’ll reassess where I’m at many times more in the future. This much I know for sure – a life stuck in a rut is not really worth living.
That’s me in a nutshell, although there’s a whole lot more nutty goodness where that came from. So what’s your story? Because I’d really like to know. If you haven’t figured it out from my mini-novel above, I really love to tell stories. I’d love to help you tell yours.