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posted by Apprentices Sep 30,2011 @ 06:00AM

On birthdays.

What's your most memorable birthday? Why?


Kevin Smith
My 30th. Springtime in New York City, a visit from my Mom. Great restaurants and meals outside. Hauling a new TV set across lower Manhattan on a dolly.

Kathryn White
My 16th. Surprises for days. A huge party with all my friends. A beach trip with my best friends. A walk in the pouring rain with my highschool boyfriend and first love. And! Sugar cubes tied in pink ribbon from the chandelier -- sweet sixteen.

Ryon Edwards
Birthdays weren't that big of a deal in my family growing up (unless you were my older sister who got A NEW CAR for her 16th birthday). I do remember that pretty well.

Jody Piland
My 18th birthday. I had just graduated from high school and a family friend gave his vacation condo in the Outer Banks to me and my friends for a week.

Pete Anderson
12th birthday. 1998. Got a Nintendo 64. Pretty nerdy, but I had a lot of fun at the sleep over parties that followed, staying up all night to play GoldenEye.

Julie Turner
I have two very special birthdays. One was my first date with John Turner. Then two years later when he asked me to be his wife.

What's your most memorable birthday? Tell us in the comments!

posted by Teresa Coles Sep 28,2011 @ 07:00AM

CreateAthon 2011 Work: A Look at Literacy

We all have the opportunity to learn, and the inability to read only affects a few people in the community. It’s really not my issue.

Overcoming this all-too pervasive insight formed the basis of the brand strategy we developed for Kershaw County Literacy Association during CreateAthon. With a staggering 23% illiteracy rate in this area, KCLA needed to bring the issue to the attention of community leaders in a way that would allow them to understand the truth, consequences and imperatives for action behind illiteracy.

So we set about the time-driven task of creating a brand platform for KCLA that could help the organization speak to the impact of illiteracy in very clear and certain terms. Punctuated by a rallying cry targeting community leaders in local business, civic and faith-based organizations.

An important objective was to align KCLA with the strategic work being done in the Midlands through Literacy 2030. Our work is designed to connect KCLA to this regional initiative, while giving them the opportunity to tell their story in a way that is indigenous to Kershaw County.

After 24+ sleep-deprived hours, we joyfully presented a new identity, brand handbook, and presentation targeting community leaders to Paula Scarborough, chairman of the KCLA board. While we felt great about the work our team presented, it was the first tear down her cheek that put a night’s worth of madness into perspective and reminded us of the Great CreateAthon Promise:

Good will come of this.

KCLA CreateAthon team: Allison Caldwell, Teresa Coles, Kelly Davis, George Fulton, Michael Powelson, Peyton Rowe.

posted by Apprentices Sep 27,2011 @ 11:35AM

Can't Judge a Kindle by Its Cover

Recently, while roaming the aisles of Barnes & Noble, I came across a shelf of beautiful leather bound books, foil stamped to perfection and classically styled with a timeless design. The edge of every page was painted to compliment the well-purposed colors of the cover. The vintage marbled endpapers looked as though they could have been torn straight from the walls of my grandmother's circa-1970's bathroom. The type was exquisitely crafted by hand, subtly extending into gorgeous swirling swashes shifting and flowing in space, creating shapes that even Mondrian couldn't have arranged with much ease. Bordering patterns evenly embellished every edge and corner, giving balance to the frame of the book.

There was no New York Times quote, no rave review, no, dare I say it, Oprah Sticker; just a beautifully crafted piece of literature (or art, really) that enraptured me. I knew I had to have one—if not to read, then to keep on my bookshelf so that I could one day show my future grandson what a real book looks like, hopefully inspiring in him a nostalgic longing for the preservation of the past. Because after all, that's what they'll become. With the invasion of the electronic book—they even sell them in bookstores now—I fear that the real books so many of us love and cherish are soon to be forgotten.

However, as long as there are people writing books, I get the feeling there will be people like Jessica Hische (the illustrator of these brilliant book covers) to design them into something beautiful and lasting. If you ever find yourself roaming the aisles of a bookstore and you find a beautiful book, pick it up and admire it for the weight of its cover, the design on its face, the smell of its pages, and the spot on your bookshelf that it will soon take.

As I said before, the books I'm describing here were illustrated by the sickeningly-talented Jessica Hische, who never ceases to amaze me with her super-human typography/design/illustration/money/life/nunchuck skills. PLEASE check out her work if you haven't before. She's truly inspiring.


-Kevin Archie, Design Apprentice

posted by Cathy Monetti Sep 26,2011 @ 03:30AM

We Think This Must Be A Very Good Sign

posted by Apprentices Sep 23,2011 @ 05:17AM

On rainy day music.

What's your go-to rainy day record?


Kevin Archie
Greetings from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens

Kevin Smith
Sugar Tax by OMD

Teresa Coles
Rain, by Patty Griffin, of course.

Ryon Edwards
It's been The Cave Singers this week. Specifically the newest "No Witch" album. Refreshingly gritty.

Cathy Monetti
Live in Paris by Diana Krall

Julie Turner
Glee, Guster or anything else that starts with G apparently.

Kathryn White
The Creek Drank the Cradle by Iron and Wine

Your turn! Leave a comment and tell us what you like to listen to on a rainy day.

posted by Apprentices Sep 22,2011 @ 10:55AM

Course Correction

Nothing quite tops a perfectly written letter. I’m drawn to letters, so I stopped to read a letter from Dennis Pence, the Co-Founder and Chairman of Coldwater Creek, printed on the cover of the most recent catalogue.

He retired after 26 years. He came back a year ago and found something was wrong. He refocused the brand on what it once stood for. He asked former customers to come back. He did it graciously.

In stark contrast is the recent e-mail and blog entry from Reed Hastings, Netflix’s Co-Founder and CEO. Hastings began with: “I messed up. I owe you an explanation.” His blog entry addresses viral customer complaints about price increases. It then abruptly announces that Netflix will focus on streaming video and a new company, Qwikster, will offer DVD service by mail.

Reaction to Hastings’ letter has been vehemently negative. The company stands by its decisions. CFO David Wells stated: “We have a long history of having been transparent with our customers… We’ll take our licks as we get them.”

There is a lesson here. People hate drastic changes, particularly given today’s uncertain environment. Coldwater’s leadership is course correcting, acting as a brand steward on behalf of its customers, and Coldwater is in control.

I get that Netflix doesn’t want to go the way of Blockbuster. Its leadership acted boldly to evolve the company, and I hope they succeed. Still, their actions were on the company’s behalf, not its customers’. As a result, its customers, or former customers, are now dangerously in control of the brand.

I understand that change is sometimes necessary, and sometimes wise. This week’s letters just make it clear to me that the more selfless a brand’s motive, the better.

posted by Apprentices Sep 20,2011 @ 08:23AM

Love Talk: be useful or be interesting.

I follow Anthropologie on Tumblr. (And yes, someday I’ll stop talking about Anthropologie. When they stop being so cool.) Here’s why: their Tumblr blog, etymologie, reads like great editorial content, because it is. Each week, the folks maintaining this blog choose a word: “pet” or “garden” are recent examples. Then, they feature a variety of content – sourced from employees, customers, ordinary people – that expresses the essence of the word. The tone is casual, conversational. The photographs aren’t always styled. It feels like a community effort.

The only marketing that ever appears in the blog is a small “shop anthropologie” link in the top navigation. So what makes the Tumblr blog such a smart marketing strategy? It obeys the two essential rules for communicating in our world today:

Be useful or be interesting. Bonus for being both.

Consumers are overloaded with information. Messages – of all kinds – fly at us from every channel. Still, organizations somehow believe that simply moving their marketing communications to Facebook or Twitter means consumers will listen to them. Nope. The reality is that none of us can process all the information that’s thrown at us everyday, forcing us to become more and more selective about the content we consume.

If brands hope to be heard, they must create communication that actually offers something of worth to their customers. It should instruct, inspire, ease, entertain. A few forward-thinking fashion brands have been quick to grasp this concept and have created their own editorial outlets – like the etymologie tumblr or like The Journal, an online magazine produced by men’s clothing brand, Mr. Porter. Consumers are attracted to the content for its own merit. It’s like going to a smashing party given by a cool host – your brand.

Granted, if you sell jet engines or potting soil, creating a lifestyle publication is probably not your best communication strategy. The question to ask yourself, then, is how can I give to my customers? How does my brand fit into their lives?

Perhaps the only “marketing strategy” that matters is simply love your customers.

When you love someone, you make a concerted effort to please him. You consider her needs, and how you can meet them. You listen. You pay attention to what he likes.

And when you open your mouth, that's what you talk about.

posted by Julie Turner Sep 19,2011 @ 01:19PM

The Unsung Heroes of CreateAthon

As we look in the rearview mirror at CreateAthon 2011, we are compelled to share the many minds and hearts that make all this magic possible. A lively band of volunteers. The schedulers. The planners. The creative brief writers. The production donors. The Tweeters.

CreateAthon has many heroes and we don’t want any to get lost in the shuffle.

Riggs Partners’ Tom Barr not only built an impressive schedule and project matrix that kept order in sleep-deprived madness; he was a workspace ninja. He shoehorned 33+ volunteers in a space that normally accommodates about half that, and everyone had a desk, chair, Internet, printer and server access. Not to mention a convenience store’s worth of snacks.

The lovely and talented folks at Emulsion Arts saw fit to document the entire experience for us in an amazing video we hope you’ve already seen. And even more jaw-dropping was that they took the CreateAthon modus operandi to heart. They filmed and edited the video during CreateAthon, presenting it to tears and squeals just moments after the last client left the WECO building.

Our friends at Crowson Stone printing have again kindly donated their services to print the collateral materials developed for CreateAthon clients. It’s simply not possible to thank them enough. They have provided this gift to CreateAthon for ten years. Combined with gifts of paper from Domtar and Wausau paper mills (made possible by Frances Grosse of Mac Papers), this donation makes actual production of CreateAthon materials possible.

With full hearts and tummies we also thank Moe’s Southwest Grill and Yesterday’s Restaurant and Tavern. Their healthy fare helps counteract the over consumption of a vast array of bad food choices made in 24 hours including cookies, doughnuts, Tootsie Roll Pops, sausage biscuits and every kind of potato chip known to man.

Two newcomer volunteers this year made gifts that went above donating their time and talent. Photographer Jeff Amberg donated a bank of imagery for one project. You guessed it: shot, retouched and donated during the day of CreateAthon. Mind Over Matter Films’ William Huang filmed and edited a five-minute video for one CreateAthon client. Miraculously, at some point in the wee small hours of the morning, William also secured an original score for the video from composer Vincent Parrish.

As we reflect on the magic that happened and the people who made it all possible, we’re sure there are important folks we are leaving out. We hope you’ll forgive us. We’re extremely humbled and grateful for everyone who lends a hand to make CreateAthon the wonderful experience it is.

Thank you and see you again next year!


posted by Apprentices Sep 16,2011 @ 07:30AM

On allnighters.

What's your most memorable allnighter?

(In honor of CreateAthon 2011, happening here at Riggs as you read!)

Cathy Monetti
The 1992 C.C.Rigg's Christmas Party at my house in Greenville. It was my
first social since giving birth five weeks earlier, and I do believe Tim
Burke, Jay Coles and I were standing in the driveway when the paperboy
delivered the newspaper the next morning.

Pete Anderson
The night before my senior thesis was due. The fatigue was nothing compared
to the sense of relief I felt upon completing a semester's-worth of work!

Kevin Archie
When I was at the design program at USC, I distinctly remember the night before portfolio review day (aka Armageddon) because it was the end of my first "trial" year as a graphic designer, and I would soon find out if I could continue studying in the program. In other words, the rest of my life hinged on my ability to mount ten pieces of paper in a book. Fortunately, after spending the entire night cutting and pasting, I turned in my portfolio on time and found out the next afternoon that I was accepted to the program and would be "allowed" many more sleepless nights to come.

Kevin Smith
Determined to use my frequent flier miles, in the Paris airport, where hotels clearly insisted that every chair have arms.

Rebecca Jacobson
If I could remember that far back, my guess is it wouldn't be something to
write about publicly!

Teresa Coles
The all-night ADPi house party at North Myrtle Beach during "first week"
after my freshman year. I left the beach house at o-dark-thirty, snuck into
my parent's house for a shower without being seen, and went straight to a
job interview with a local bank. Then back to the beach in time to lay out
at 11:00 am!

Kathryn White
I've pulled more allnighters in my life than I'd ever care for my mother or doctor to know. Most memorable: the time I did two in a row -- when after staying up all night to write papers, a boy kidnapped me the next night for a spontaneous trip to a legendary 24-hour restaurant several hours away. I still think that four a.m. "dinner" was worth it.

Ryon Edwards
Probably shouldn't answer that question. My Mom reads our blog occasionally.

posted by Guests Sep 15,2011 @ 12:47PM

All Work, But Not Always No Play

Well, CreateAthon 2011 has officially begun. Everyone is busy working on their computers or in meetings, creating incredible things in the short 24-hour deadline. Moe's has been consumed and everyone has seemed to have had their recharge after about six hours in.

Unfortunately, I was unable to be here bright and early at 8 a.m., because I happen to be a student and had class. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Morgan Tucker and I am a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, majoring in Public Relations. This is my first time ever experiencing CreateAthon, and I am thrilled to be here!

Today, I am an outsider looking in. Not only is this my first time at CreateAthon, but also my first time in a work environment like this. I know this may seem hard to believe with my polished writing skills and high school diploma, but it's true. Growing up, you always think that a job would be so much work and no fun at all. You thrive on the younger years, wanting more time to play and never grow up to become a boring adult. Today is very exciting to me, yet nerve-racking, because I am able to get a preview of what life post-college will look like. It's never comfortable to take your next step in life. Your next step is always much tougher than the previous. College has been so much more difficult than high school, and it hasn't been the least bit comfortable! I know what you're thinking...poor college student. Trust me, I hear it from my parents all the time.

When I first arrived, everyone was hard at work. My job is to keep up with the social media for the day so I was busy doing that, when the most amazing thing happened...Peyton pulled out her Razor scooter! I quickly jumped up, grabbed my camera, and had to capture this moment.

This was such a refreshing sight to see! You can still have fun and work at the same time! Needless to say, this has given me some relief to my anxiety I have built up over the years.

CreateAthon has been a great experience so far, and I am excited to see what the rest of the day entails!

posted by Apprentices Sep 12,2011 @ 11:32AM

CreateAthon 2011: The Roster.

We've been counting down for weeks, but it's finally here: CreateAthon week. This Thursday, we'll roll up our sleeves, ingest a little too much caffeine, and get creative for ten deserving nonprofits who inspired us this year. As you can see, CreateAthon season is a little like Christmas for some of us.

Here's the 2011 roster of the nonprofit organizations we selected for CreateAthon this year.

Youth Corps

Vital Connections

Columbia MSA Talent Dividend

Congaree Land Trust

Walker Foundation/SC School for the Deaf and Blind


Mental Illness Recovery Center (MIRCI)

Haiti Orphan Foundation

Kershaw County Literacy Association

Memory Matters

Wanna see the magic happen? Follow us on Twitter and stop by the blog. We'll be dropping in to update during our 24 hours of creative goodness.

posted by Cathy Monetti Sep 08,2011 @ 07:30AM

New Work: The Good Life Blog

We recently launched a cross-channel communications plan for Goodwill Industries of the Upstate/Midlands. In order to sustain and grow Goodwill, we recognized the importance of engaging a younger generation of shoppers and donors. We developed a digital strategy to make the brand relevant for modern lifestyles. The foundation of this social strategy is the creation of a thrift-inspired lifestyle and design blog, The Good Life blog.

This isn't your average corporate blog. In fact, it's not corporate at all. Goodwill hired an independent blogger to work her design and thrifty magic on finds from Goodwill stores all across the Upstate and Midlands, and then write about them in an interesting and useful way. The blog is targeted to reach a younger, more diverse audience--those consumers who are interested in building a creative and sustainable lifestyle, especially in this post-Recession economy.

We've been delighted by the strong show of interest the blog has already received this soon after the launch. This early success just reminds us, once again, that there's no substitute for great content that proves to be meaningful for consumers' lives. To read the blog and be inspired yourself, click here.

Creative team: Cathy Monetti, Ryon Edwards, Kathryn White, Kendra Schaefer (, Kendra Ardis.

posted by Julie Turner Sep 07,2011 @ 06:00AM

Maryland's Gridiron PR Grab

Anyone who watched the University of Maryland/Miami University game on September 5 had an instant reaction to the Terrapins’ new uniforms. Even former Gamecock collegiate authority Travis Haney noticed the chatter all the way in Oklahoma tweeting, “Maryland’s unis just broke Twitter.”

The uniforms created quite a stir. Several trending hashtags on Twitter. The subject of many a Facebook status and comment. They even trended on Google. A day later they were still a hot topic on countless national news shows and segments.

The uniforms generated a level of buzz that Maryland’s football team has never managed to pull off.

Maryland beat Miami. But what else did they win that night?

You can bet they didn’t care what millions of Everyday Joes and Janes with no connection to their program thought. More telling will be the reception from Terrapin fans, potential recruits and college football fans in Maryland.

The Terrapins put their Maryland pride on the line and on their sleeves. And a good chunk of the college football nation is still talking about it.

posted by Cathy Monetti Sep 06,2011 @ 10:26AM

Time to Shine

When you’ve spent years in the creative business, you learn that most ideas – even the best of ideas – peak. Then, in order to keep them relevant, you reinvent. But once in a great while, you develop a gem of an idea with a life bigger than its time.

Fifteen years ago, Teresa Coles and I started CreateAthon simply out of a desire to give back. We joked that we worked in an industry with no redeeming social value – so we put our industry talents to work round the clock for local nonprofits. It was a good idea. It was ahead of its time. And we couldn’t have imagined how it would grow.

Of course, the world has shifted in the last fifteen years. Pretty dramatically, I’d say. From economic downturns to natural disasters to new digital connections, there’s a new attitude of we’re all in this together. The result? The role of nonprofits is more elevated than ever before, because we recognize the need to create good in our world. The Millennials, the most civic-minded generation America has seen in a long time, are leading the way with their passion, commitment, and willingness to volunteer.

The advertising industry has shifted, too. I’ve watched digital communication repaint the landscapes we were accustomed to, clearing the way for a new spirit of collaboration. It’s an exciting time to work in this business. It’s even more exciting as I’m getting ready to roll up my sleeves for this year’s CreateAthon.

What’s remarkable is not that our little idea grew into a national CreateAthon network providing pro bono marketing to hundreds of deserving nonprofits across the U.S. What’s remarkable is that CreateAthon has become a movement. In a world that’s embracing powerful movements to impact our communities for good, CreateAthon stands ready to grow faster than we’ve seen yet.

It’s time to shine, baby.

posted by Apprentices Sep 02,2011 @ 05:30AM

On seasons.

What's your favorite season?


Jody Courtney

Hands down it's Fall. What could possibly be better than football, Halloween and Thanksgiving all wrapped up in one season?

Kevin Smith
Bare feet and coming into an air conditioned house make summer pretty swell.

Cathy Monetti











Julie Turner
College football. ESPN Game Day. Three hotdog corndogs at the SC State Fair. Fiske fries. Cool morning air. Steve Spurrier quotes. Shaking my fist at Lee Corso. Oyster roasts. These are a few of my favorite fall things!

Yanti Pepper
Fall -- sweatshirt and jeans weather, football season, and Thanksgiving - my
favorite holiday!

Ryon Edwards
Fall. When the leaves are changing and the humidity is low. More time outside the better.

Kevin Archie
I think every season offers something magical to look forward to, especially in Columbia. Whether it's the smell of the fair food at a football game in the Fall, the annual 5-minute snowfall that inevitably shuts the city down every Winter, the brisk wind biting my ears with the whisper of a flowery sunlit Spring, or the the blazing Summer sun burning holes in my eyelids on a lazy afternoon by the pool, the season I love most is the one that's coming up.

Kathryn White
Fall. When the clothes are the most interesting, the sky is merciless blue, and every day feels like anything is possible.

Pete Anderson

Fall -- college football, MLB playoffs, browned-out rough on the golf course and a crispness in the air that lends a sense of urgency to life.






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