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Design

CrossFit Fringe

By | CrossFit, Design, Exercise, Featured, Freelance | 2 Comments

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Health and Fitness Voices program and have been provided with the Motorola Razr HD and six months of service in exchange for my honest review and opinions about the product.

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So if you’ve managed to keep up with us the past few weeks (hard, we’ve been everywhere but nowhere at the same time), you may have noticed that we’ve been talking about our gym a lot. And not CrossFit United, but CrossFit Fringe. What is CrossFit Fringe? Did we open a gym? What is going on!?

I’m sorry we’ve been totally absent and not good at updating and explaining what’s going on. Some of it was intentional, other parts were unintentional, and then work got crazy, we built our deck, and we just dived right into being at CrossFit Fringe without a lot of answers. So now that things have quieted down a little bit, I really want to catch you all up with what’s going on.

A few months ago, Neil and I were brought into a meeting with the ownership of CrossFit United to talk about a website redesign. We were pumped. A new CrossFit gym had just opened across town and we were eager to help CrossFit United not only improve their ability to reach people online, but to offer some ideas on how to give them an edge and refine some of their brand/presence. These are the types of consulting jobs that we live for. We love small business branding and consulting.

As it turned out though, we weren’t being hired by CrossFit United, but CrossFit Fringe. Half of the ownership of our gym (the people we were used to seeing every day) had decided to open their own gym with one of our other trainers. Only a few people knew, and we signed a non-disclosure, adding ourselves to the secret. The plan was still unfolding, but they had a name — CrossFit Fringe.

Well, and they had this:

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Someone had put together a logo for them, and they wanted to design a website and identity for CrossFit Fringe around it. I was immediately honest with them that I found the logo to be a little… underwhelming. All I could think of when I looked at it was a swamp. It just felt “meh.” So I asked if I could take a stab at it, and they said “sure.”

I took two weeks to kind of sketch out some ideas and wrap my head around what I thought the new box would be like — and what I wanted it to be like. I think I watched nearly every CrossFit video on YouTube (the above was my favorite). We didn’t have a location at that point, just ideas. And members. When I thought about our community, and how we all live day to day, CrossFit is certainly something we wear on our sleeves. It’s a source of pride and a constant presence in how we embrace all of life’s moments — both good and bad. Even if life is treating me badly, I still feel strong and resilient, and that goes far beyond just getting in shape and feeling good about how I look. I wanted our brand to represent the collective strength and power of our community, our affinity for one another, and our place in a greater community of athletes. We’re parents, siblings, police officers, students, lawyers and grandparents, but we’re also athletes. I also wanted our brand to give us each the feeling of being part superhero — something a little fanciful, while still being legitimate.

In all those thoughts, this emerged:

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And from there it just sort of snowballed into colors, secondary marks and badges…

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Within a week, the owners had found and leased a new location, and in secret we started putting all the details together. They tackled all the physical labor, while Neil and I focused on the branding and website. There were a lot of late nights, many (many) beers, and ideas constantly being tossed back and forth. Meanwhile, the secret continued to get bigger, and increasingly hard to keep from the community. It was so hard to keep from them. Our existing gym flooded, the new CrossFit gym across town was getting a lot of media, all while we were hurriedly trying to get all the details together without losing our minds. It is definitely the hardest secret I have ever kept, but it was worth it.

Here are some pics of the place the day the lease was signed:

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What do you think, Captain America or American Gladiator? That red made me ragey…

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Managing projects for me usually involves notebooks, lists and post-its. Since I’ve been testing the Motorola Razr HD as part of my partnership with Verizon, I decided to download a few apps and see if it improved my organization and streamlined my workflow. And did it ever.

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While I got the owners of the gym set up on Do, which allows them to share project management tasks collaboratively, I have totally fallen in love with Wunderlist. It is not unnecessarily complicated or too simple to be useful like a lot of apps, and it integrates seamlessly with my other devices, so I’m not tethered to just my phone. I also used the Dropbox, Flickr and Evernote app as well.

We also set up QR codes around the gym so our members could access the website, wireless and if they’re new, the waiver. They can all be tracked using scan.me. How cool is that!?

We launched last Saturday to a completely packed gym. We put over 120 athletes through our first two WODs, and almost completely sold out of all our t-shirts. The website, which we designed to be completely responsive, generated over 1,000 visits the first day, and has now been visited by people in over 15 countries. In our first 24 hours on Facebook, we generated over 200 likes (443 now and counting), and in just a week we have 70 Twitter followers, which for a local business is pretty good. I can not convey to you the amazing response we received from our members — but I can tell you that we worked for months hoping for just a fraction of it.

So how about a tour?

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8,000-square-feet, two workout rooms, huge lounge area and plenty of mobility space. Is it not heaven!?

We have to thank Ben, Tyler and Nate for involving us in this project. It’s still ongoing, we still have a lot to do, but it’s been a complete honor to give back a fraction of what they’ve given us. I’m excited to not only act as a consultant, but train and train others here as well. Once a week I will be teaching a “Girls Night” class, and we’ve already got a full-session of On-Ramp that begins next week that I can’t wait to be a part of.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Health and Fitness Voices program and have been provided with the Motorola Razr HD and six months of service in exchange for my honest review and opinions about the product.

2013: Doing Stuff…

By | Backpacking, Books, Camping, CrossFit, Design, Jessica, Neil | No Comments

I won’t lie. I love giving the new year time to settle in before writing resolutions, which are really more like goals — or if we’re talking about our house, a frightening to-do list. I feel like it gives me time to be introspective for a hair longer, and also read what other people have written about their year ahead. While some people don’t like the idea of New Year’s resolutions and choose not to make any, we kind of savor feeling of setting intentions and having a little list of things to get excited about.

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Last year we kept our goals pretty simple, and while we accomplished quite a bit (I totally rocked the 5 unassisted pull-ups and Neil is stringing together up to 5 unbroken muscle-ups at a time at CrossFit), a lot of things didn’t happen. We had really hoped to get out more — do some backpacking and splurge for some kayaks — but triple-digit temperatures this summer literally scorched our ambitions.

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We tried to escape to northern Minnesota, but it was even hot there! We’re realizing now that if we want to get out, it’s going to have to be earlier in the season, possibly even winter. So we’ve purchased some better sleeping bags and hope to try again in 2013.

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Bad weather aside, we managed to accomplish quite a bit. Neil is one upgrade away from a finished race car (progress slowed because it was too hot to race anyway), and I managed to read at least two non-school books a month (hot weather actually helped this goal).

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I think it’s safe to say that I look neither pretty nor happy while running…

I ran not only my first, but TWO half-marathons (Neil ran one too!) and a few 5 and 10k races. We’re still doing CrossFit religiously 3-4 times a week, and we’ve made huge progress from where we were a year ago. A goal to “get to the gym” is definitely not on our list this year.

So what does 2013 hold? Gosh where to begin? Neil jokingly said he wants 2013 to be the year of “doing stuff” since so many of our plans were hampered by the weather last year. Deciding that we probably needed to expand that theme a bit to make this post worth reading, I made up some prompts to answer.

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Jessica

I want 2013 to be the year I simplify a bit. I don’t want to do less, I just want to better organize my life in such a way that I eliminate mundane decisions and save my energy for things that rock my world.

I would like to take my fitness to the next level by achieving… 5 handstand push-ups. I have an irrational fear of breaking my neck, so these have been really hard for me to check off my list. I finally achieved headstands back in November, and I have the strength for the body-weight push-up, it’s just putting those two things together and putting my fear aside.

I really want to travel to… Colorado. And do Estes Park or any number of other wonderful parks they have. No fires this year, only s’mores!

In my professional life, I’d really like to… become a project manager for a client within my firm. Huge goal, lots to learn yet, but I’m getting there. For our own little business, I would really like to finally get a website up. It’s been 3 years, we still don’t have one, and even though we’ve been booked solid since the moment we started taking clients, it’s getting a little silly now. That being said, it’s a good problem to have.

In my off time, I’d like to learn to… knit and crochet and create something worthy of giving as a gift. This goal has been on my list several times, but I’m as serious as a heart attack about achieving it this year. Despite being a designer, I am NOT crafty.

This year, I’d like to spruce up the house by… installing a new deck, and if the stars align, I’d love to replace the stove in our ongoing kitchen renovation. However, I think the washer and dryer might end up needing to be replaced first.

This year in the kitchen, I’d like to make…Kombucha. I’m so tired of freaking myself out about this goal.

If I had one crazy goal that I’d like to accomplish this year, it would be… to get my CrossFit Level 1 Certification.*

*Apparently my wildest goal was the one I’m on track to finish first. I signed up for the course and test this week! Here we go!

And Neil…

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I would like to take my fitness to the next level by achieving… strict muscle-ups. They’re hard, but I want to be able to string them together. Aside from that, I just want to keep CrossFitting. We’ve been going consistently 3-4 times a week now for the past 1 1/2 years, and I do not plan on stopping. I’d even be willing to try competing for fun or for charity. Aside from CrossFit, it’d be cool to do another adventure race.

I really want to travel to… anywhere we can hike or backpack, but I’m kind of interested in maybe exploring some big cities as well. I hope our big purchase this year will finally be a set of kayaks. There are so many places I’d love to kayak, and the dogs love floating. Overall, more R&R in 2013!

In my professional life, I’d really like to… achieve my CCNA/CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Associate/Professional. A year into my new profession, I believe I’m ready to get certified. I just need to study the formal guides or enroll in a boot camp to get ready. Like Jessica, I’d also really like to get a business website up. We are so overdue for one, it’s ridiculous.

In my off time, I’d like to… race! Racing season is just around the corner and the car is ready! Hopefully the weather will literally take a chill pill. I’d also like to do a little more gaming. I love playing DOTA2, and I’d like a racing setup (wheel, pedals, chair, etc.) to practice on in the off-season.

This year I’d like to spruce up the house by… giving our home network a makeover. Now that we have a server rack in the basement and our house rewired with CAT6e ethernet, I’d like to get a Cisco ASA5505 router in place using our Linksys router as a wireless access point. Eventually I’d like to replace it with a real Cisco Access Point. I’ve just finished giving our storage system an upgrade with a NAS (Network Attached Storage) from Synology.

Overall, my plans are to… continue to eat as healthfully as possible, while still enjoying some of the good stuff. I’d also like to branch out and meet more people in Columbia. I’ve been here four years, and am still missing having a group of friends like I had when I lived in Springfield.  Finally, I want to keep challenging myself to accomplish things that feel difficult or out of reach. I know I can do them, sometimes it’s just a matter of taking that first step.

We’re definitely ambitious in our goals, but having talked about these for a week or so now, we’re definitely angling for some down time too. Taking on fewer projects, focusing more on learning rather than doing. Not less work really, but maybe something a little more rewarding and soul-feeding. It’s hard to know how it will all unfold, but hopefully it nothing else, we’ve set some good intentions down for the year. That’s really what this is all about isn’t it?

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

By | Design, Freelance, Goals, Jessica, Web Design | 18 Comments

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I took a stroll around campus today as groundskeepers were filling every pot, planter and bed with the most beautiful summer flowers I’ve ever seen. So many colors, life bursting forth everywhere. Our campus is a botanical garden, so every change in season brings a new scene of new and changing life.

On Monday, I turned in my notice to the University. I will be leaving in a few short weeks to pursue the opportunity of a lifetime, working for an amazing team in an agency that specializes in interactive learning environments, user experiences and instructional design. I had sworn up and down after graduation that I was going to take this year and decompress before thinking about changing careers, but an email appeared in my inbox a few weeks back and the rest is history.

This is not only a new field for me professionally, but a new way of working as well. I will be working almost entirely from home. No office, no time clock. I don’t know how to put into words how exciting (and a little scary!) this is all is after spending 7 years in a brick and mortar public institution. I’ve watched for years as some of my favorite designers have left traditional jobs and have always been completely envious, but never brave enough to pursue such an opportunity for myself. I’ve always been so safe and conservative, to a fault. I keep telling people I feel like I did when I moved out of my parents house to go to college. This is new and exciting, and a little scary and right now it all feels a little like a dream.

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Although I’m not really leaving to work on my own, I feel like this opportunity also gives me the flexibility to really grow and revive my own creative spark. In addition to designing and developing, I love working with clients, talking, writing and sharing stories and experiences, so I hope this new opportunity will also give me the energy and focus to grow our blog and share more.

So that’s my big news. I have to thank Neil, my parents and in-laws and best friends Rachel and Patrick. They are all the voices of reason, encouragement and rationality that I need probably far too often. I also have to thank those who spoke so kindly of me and the work I’ve done while here at Mizzou. I’m sure my new team is relieved to hear I do well with sexual harassment and that for several years I’ve consistently misspelled the word definitely. I also have to thank you guys, for your continued motivation and inspiration.

Have any tips for the newly-working-from-home?

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread and Winter Camping for One

By | Backpacking, Breadmaking, Camping, Design, Food, Freelance, Jessica, Neil, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I’ll admit, I’m a complete brat when it comes to Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread. I have standards. The swirl to bread ratio has to be exactly the way I like it or I just don’t enjoy it. Nothing is more annoying than not enough raisins or cinnamon swirl! I know, I’ve got issues. As I’ve been completely obsessed with breadmaking lately, I decided to make a trial run of swirl bread at around midnight last night.

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Having read Eat a Duck I Must’s review of Martha Stewart’s recipe, I decided to use it for the trial. With only a three-hour total rise, it was a lot quicker than a no-knead slow rise. For whatever reason though, it seemed to call for an obscene amount of raisins. I was happy to oblige, love raisins, but it was more than a little perplexing trying to get them all to stay in the dough.

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Despite the raisin overload, I got two perfect loaves of bread. Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one piece for breakfast. Neil will be packing up both loaves and leaving town after work. The un-nibbled one will be a gift to my mother-in-law (we enjoy sending stuff back and forth to one another), and the other will be snackage for the first camping trip of the year with Neil’s brother and some friends, which unfortunately I will not be going on.

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Because I’m just coming out of the woods with the cold and blegh I’ve been battling for two weeks, I decided it was too soon and too cold to be camping and hiking outdoors. Very adult and responsible of me for sure, but I’m really bummed. REALLY. BUMMED. But I know there are plenty more weekends to get a winter-ish camping trip in, and it’s a good opportunity to tackle some design and homework, as well as some projects I’ve been meaning to do around the house. Like the out-of-control pantry:

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…as well as some window treatments that need to be fixed, and some bedding that needs to be cleaned. Always tons of stuff to do, and I’ve resolved to have a little fun too. I’m definitely making another loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread, but will use a slow-rise approach to see how it changes the flavor. I’m also going to make a few other treats for my bachelor weekend. What are they? You’ll have to check back in on Monday to find out! Neil will also have a recap of his weekend in Arkansas and a few tips for planning the perfect winter camping trip.

What are your weekend plans?

Be My Frugal Valentine: Valentines to Love for Under $20

By | Art, Cool Stuff, Crafts, Frugality, Illustration | 2 Comments

I think I knew that that I would grow up to be a designer before I even knew what a designer was. As a kid, I plotted the look of my Valentine’s Day cards all year. It was my chance to show people my art, and my Valentine’s were always unlike anything anyone else gave out. With a full-time job and super-busy freelance schedule I rarely get around to designing them anymore, but I continue to look forward to the designs and colors that remind me spring isn’t too far away.

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Plantable Mini Valentines via Louveteau, – $15

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Printable Valentine’s Day cards and DIY candy bar packaging
via Benign Objects – $4.50

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Letterpress greetings for the web nerd in your life via Dingbat Press – $3.50

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Assorted Valentine’s Day Set via Rifle Paper Co. – $16

Even if you choose not to buy Valentines, resources and pictures like these are all over the net and serve as great inspiration to endeavor to make your own. You don’t need a lot of expensive materials or any special talents. The great thing about sentiment is that it creates the message, not your ability to use a glue stick or cut out shapes that actually resemble something. For more inspiration, I highly recommend Paper Crave and iDiY. Tons of ideas, printables and more!