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posted by Apprentices Nov 25,2011 @ 02:30AM

On brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a vital step in the creative process. How do you do it?


Cathy Monetti
I think you have to take apart an issue. Strip it down until it's bare, then see how it can be rebuilt in a new way. Having said that, I have to say my best ideas come in the shower. (I think that's kinda funny.)

Kevin Smith
Outside the office, I walk my dog or find retail/branding inspiration. In the office, I draw diagrams on our dry erase board.

Julie Turner
Wildly, caffeinated and on a white board with colored markers.

Peter Anderson
With (FDA approved) chemical stimulants, a greaseboard, and poor illustrations.

Ryon Edwards
Gather team
State the objectives
Ask questions
Encourage collaboration
Know that any idea is worth consideration/discussion
Encourage crazy ideas
Write on whiteboards/sketchbooks
Sketch out
Ask more questions

Let the ideas incubate for day or two and gather as a team again to:
Ask questions
Bounce ideas off of client (or better yet, include them in brainstorming)
Have fun

Kevin Archie
I stare at a blank screen/page until something magically appears.

posted by Cathy Monetti Nov 23,2011 @ 09:32AM

Thanksgiving, Creativity and Reuse

We love all of the above. So we are thrilled to share with you a wonderful post from our friends at Goodwill Industries of the Midlands/Upstate, on their lifestyle blog The Good Life.

Blogger Kendra Ardis has a wonderful way of bringing beauty and practicality to everything she does. Take look at her ideas for the perfect Thanksgiving table. We especially love the "thankful card" from Jones Design Company.

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy.


posted by Apprentices Nov 22,2011 @ 08:05AM

In With the Old

I recently acquired a "new" camera from someone in California via Ebay. It's called a Yashica T4 and it's ugly, used, and requires FILM. Why would I waste my time and money on such a thing? Because being the good graphic designer that I am, I have a passion for all things print and I couldn't bear to see my life pass before me on a screen. I wanted my memories to be something more than pixels on a facebook page—something tactile that I could hold in my hands and keep with me in a shoebox or a hand-made photo album. The Yashica T4, with its sharp Carl Zeiss lens and its waist-level "super scope" viewfinder, was my answer. It's a compact camera that takes beautiful photographs with one click.

So having finally received it in the mail last week, I committed to shooting a roll of film to test out its quality. I was not disappointed in the least. The photos below are some samples from my first roll. The scanned quality doesn't come close to the actual prints, but I'm ok with that because the Yashica is ultimately fulfilling its destined purpose: to capture my life in print.

-Kevin Archie, Design Apprentice

posted by Cathy Monetti Nov 17,2011 @ 07:35AM

Big RP Party Today. Join Us!


posted by Apprentices Nov 15,2011 @ 12:37PM

CreateAthon: Flying High

To say that it’s been a big month for CreateAthon is an understatement. When CreateAthon officially became a 501(c)3 last month, we knew big things were coming. But, I don’t think anyone at Riggs Partners could honestly say they knew just how huge November would be.

We’re only halfway through the month and CreateAthon has already traveled to Washington, DC to help launch the A Billion + Change initiative. There they joined forces with companies like Starbucks, Capitol One, and Microsoft to promise to create $1 billion in pro bono services by 2013. To add to this already incredible month, AIGA highlighted CreateAthon in their Design for Good movement as a way to get involved in pro bono designing. The support from these two initiatives will do wonders in helping spread CreateAthon’s message.

Just when we didn’t think November could get any better, Peyton Rowe, CreateAthon's Chief Evangelical Officer, brought Andrea Goulet Ford to our team. It has only been a few weeks since Andrea joined us, and she already has our heads spinning with her amazing ideas. With her help, CreateAthon is on the path to even greater success.

It’s exciting to see how much CreateAthon has grown this year. What’s even more exciting is seeing how many people want to help CreateAthon succeed. Today is only November 15 and I am overwhelmed by how much support our program has gained this month. I can’t wait to see what the rest of November has in store for us.

by Jody Piland



posted by Kevin Smith Nov 14,2011 @ 11:50AM

Turning Empathy into Action

Monday mornings are the busiest time of the week at Riggs Partners. We gather first thing and recap the upcoming week’s meetings and deadlines, as my to do list looms over me. I chew through my e-mail in box trying to delete everything I possibly can. In short, this is the single worst possible time to message to me.

Yet this morning, Sustainable Midlands, a local nonprofit did just that. Not only did I stop to absorb their content this morning, I wrote them a check.

I’ve been getting e-mails from Sustainable Midlands for some time. Years, even. I’ve stood by, quietly siding with their attempts to make my city a greener one. Yet I’ve never contributed, attended an event, followed them on Facebook, or forwarded one of their E-mails. I’ve been a passive ally, all empathy and no action.

Every cause struggles with peripheral supporters. If only 20 percent could be converted to active supporters, that’d be huge. Here’s how.

Sustainable Midlands took advantage of a local controversy to become immediately relevant. Wal-Mart is proposing a large location near downtown Columbia. City Council has tabled discussions momentarily, allowing time for anger to build.

Urban planning is but one small part of Sustainable Midlands’ advocacy. Nevertheless, they are serving as the central conduit of communication on the proposed Wal-Mart development. They keep me updated through e-mail and links to a dedicated page on their website. They’ve demonstrated leadership, and made themselves a vital part of an issue that is front-page news. That’s not just smart, or even just much appreciated. It’s worth supporting.

Nonprofits should be mindful of events that make their causes relevant and timely. People give their attention to those who lead and demonstrate a commitment to a future vision. Find a way to engage in meaningful dialogue with those on your periphery, and you’ll find them gravitating closer and closer.



posted by Apprentices Nov 11,2011 @ 05:00AM

On burning houses.

Your house is on fire. You can take five things. What are they?

(for more inspiration visit

Kevin Smith
1. Cloud painting I bought when I couldn't afford it
2. Mixed media collage over my mantle I found at a junk store in the Village
3. Landscape painting I knew was of the South when I saw it in New York (turned out to be a field in Decatur, Alabama)
4. Green lamp from Chelsea flea market
5. As many of my dining room chairs as I could carry

Jody Piland
I would take my camera, laptop, cell phone, mom's pearl necklace and old family photos that I have not yet made copies of. Actually, I'd leave my phone behind so I could get the new iPhone.

Kathryn White
1. the Bible I've carried (and written in) since 2006.
2. all my old journals.
3. a series of small, abstract paintings done by my uncle, a slightly famous Cuban painter.
4. my computer, because I am terrible at remembering to back-up.
5. my grandmother's quilt.

Kevin Archie
1. My first Bible.
2. My MacBook - it has ALL my work on it.
3. My Weblos hat - because randomly finding it at a thrift store after my mom gave it away deems it lucky.
4. My bike James - he's technically inanimate, or so I'm told.
5. My iPhone - I've had it for less than a month and I'm already addicte

Ryon Edwards
kitchen table built my great grandfather - (would need help getting that out of the house)
family photos/album
framed artwork from my daughter
framed artwork from my son

Julie Turner
The flying pig painting
My kids' stuffed animals, Lamby and The Ghost Bear
The Haywood-Wakefield chair that's closest to the door

Teresa Coles
Box of Julian's baby pictures
Wedding photos
Laptop and external hard drive
File box with stuff that should be kept in the safe deposit box
Black jewelry box

Pete Anderson
As long as I could grab my phone, keys, and wallet, I'd be just fine. I don't really own anything all that great. Thanks for reminding me, Kathryn!

Cathy Monetti
1. portrait of Eliza, age 5
2. my mother's china
3. my grandmother's silver
4. my old journals
5. the file box with the folders "Things I love" and "Eliza"

posted by Cathy Monetti Nov 09,2011 @ 11:00AM

A Good Night's Sleep

This is quite a special day for me. After a great morning meeting with our spectacular Greenville-based client, Goodwill Industries of the Upstate/Midlands SC, I am spending the afternoon/evening enjoying one of my favorite locales on earth: Main Street Greenville, SC. What's more, my daughter—a college student I no longer see often enough—is driving from Clemson University to meet me for the night. We shall stroll the West End, windowshop, eat a fabulous dinner somewhere along the way (Who can say where? There are so many remarkable options along this famed route.), then enjoy Gavin DeGraw and David Cook at The Peace Center.

Later, perhaps after coffee and dessert, we'll make our way back to the Poinsett Hotel, where we'll talk late into the night about all the goings-on in her life, which has no doubtedly changed significantly since she made the transition from high school student to college girl this fall.

When I planned this outing, I recognized what a Life Moment it would be for me, and hopefully, for her. I intentionally chose this historic hotel, and sitting here in the room, waiting for her to arrive, it feels just right. The bellman was courteous and helpful, check-in was a breeze, and the room is Exactly What I Wanted.

Even the ride up the elevator was worthy of note. A sweet lady who had been working in the lobby rode up with me and offered this perspective:

Wait 'til you feel that bed. It is heaven.

Here's what I find interesting. How many centuries did it take before the hotel industry realized a comfortable bed is a vital part of their offering?

Today there is a comfortable bed war going on between many national chains. Not only that—many, including Hampton Inn, now sell their own branded linens, pillows and comforters. The Westin has gone so far as to brand theirs the Westin Heavenly Experience and describes 10 layers of pure comfort, 1 extraordinary sleep experience.

I think a hotel branding the bed, and the sleep experience, is a smart, smart move. And I'll let you know if their promise holds true—assuming my Eliza and I don't stay up all night talking.

posted by Teresa Coles Nov 07,2011 @ 04:58AM

Nonprofits Must Position Themselves for Pro Bono

I had the opportunity to attend a thought-provoking session in DC on Thursday hosted by Taproot Foundation, one of the nation’s strongest voices for pro bono service. It came on the heels of the launch event for a Billion + Change, a national movement to mobilize a billion dollars (now 2 billion) in pro bono services from American corporations by 2013. I sat on a panel alongside leaders from global corporations such as IBM, Dow Corning and HP who talked about their corporations’ pro bono and skills-based volunteering efforts. I was there to talk about CreateAthon® as an example of what a small company can do to build scale around its pro bono efforts.

In the Taproot session that followed, there was much discussion around the fact that companies are sometimes reticent to develop pro bono programs for nonprofits because the nonprofits are not ready. That is to say, nonprofits may not have seriously considered or strategically planned for receiving pro bono counsel from professional organizations.

Why on earth would a nonprofit not be ready to accept pro bono services? Consider these stark but unfortunate truths:

The nonprofit has not developed a strategic plan of any kind. Professional service organizations will be wary of committing their employees’ valuable time to work for a nonprofit that has no idea of where it’s really heading or how it can possibly get there.

The nonprofit is not ready to execute the recommendations provided to them. Companies that provide pro bono consulting services to nonprofits offer highly sought-after, professional solutions, and nothing is more frustrating than to see smart planning sitting on a shelf. A nonprofit must have adequate resources —time, money, manpower — to carry out the counsel delivered to them.

The nonprofit is scared of letting “outside” consultants critique their work. Let’s face it: some people just don’t want to hear they have been doing it wrong or could do it better. Could it make them look bad in front of their boards? Heaven forbid.

The pro bono tide is rising, as evidenced by the commitment of A Billion + Change movement. Nonprofits will be wise to consider how they can strategically position their organization to be a worthwhile investment of time for companies that are actively seeking pro bono opportunities in their community and throughout the country. Don’t let tactical shortsightedness get in the way of what can be transformative progress for your organization.



posted by Teresa Coles Nov 04,2011 @ 01:07PM

A Billion + Opportunities for CreateAthon

Twenty-four hours have passed since Peyton Rowe and I attended the launch event for A Billion+ Change, the national campaign to mobilize pro bono services. To say we are still reeling from it all is the understatement of the year. All day long, we tried to talk about what was going on around us, and we could barely form a sentence. The words simply would not come. You know when Teresa and Peyton are rendered speechless, something big has happened.

And large it was.

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We were asked at the end of the day to share an interesting takeaway. I’ll start with my response to that question, but I just can’t limit it to one. Instead, here are five takeaways that illuminated the day for me:

  1. There now exists a whole new professional sector of people who are trained and committed to seriously pursuing corporate social responsibility, not just managing donations. I think that’s amazing.
  2. The opportunity to experience the vibe that exists among these people. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, other than CreateAthon: open, selfless, joyful. “Let me know what I can do to help” ended every conversation.
  3. The willingness to readily connect with others. Never have I been approached by so many people who wanted to trade cards, connect online, stay in touch. There’s a sense that we can all benefit by upholding each other, and it’s readily embraced.
  4. The chance that pro bono can become a permanent fixture of corporate culture. Jean Case stated it repeatedly, and I had never thought about it in those terms. Imagine if pro bono service became a given in every company in America.
  5. The grace that filled every corner of the room, be that a handshake, a smile, a hug. The opportunity to meet and develop relationships with so many incredible people dedicated to doing incredible things will carry me for the days and weeks to come.

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My heart beats a little faster today with the promise of so many good things to come through A Billion + Change, as well as the opportunities for CreateAthon. I truly believe the new relationships that have been formed will impact our ability to help CreateAthon grow in leaps and bounds. Today, Peyton and I are off to tell the CreateAthon story to friends at the ONE Campaign. Just imagine where that conversation could go: CreateAthon International?

posted by Teresa Coles Nov 03,2011 @ 05:30AM

CreateAthon Goes to Washington

Not once in the last 14 years did I ever dream of doing what I’m about to do: Go to Capitol Hill to talk about CreateAthon. It comes in the form of the launch event for A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize $1 billion of pro bono services by 2013.

This morning, I will attend a kick off breakfast in the Russell Senate Office Building hosted by Sen. Mark Warner, honorary chair of the initiative. Later on, I’ll participate in a panel discussion alongside leaders in corporate social responsibility from companies who are also involved in the program. I’ll be asked to share our experiences with CreateAthon as a model for how a small business can generate large-scale probono impact.


So how does a Billion + Change work? Participating companies define a pledge amount toward the cause and report on their progress throughout the initiative. A majority of the companies involved are major corporations with significant CSR programs, like HP, Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, and Discovery Channel.

On behalf of CreateAthon, we’ve pledged to more than double the number of partner agencies, universities and professional organizations involved in the program. Our estimates tell us if we reach this goal, we will move from generating approximately $2.3 million in pro bono services each year to an annual impact of $5.6 million.

As if it couldn’t get any better, I’m joined today by none other than Peyton Rowe, Chief Evangelical Officer of CreateAthon. She’s just in from Richmond, and we are truly beside ourselves with the prospect of meeting so many folks who are committed to sharing professional talents for social good.

So know that today, the CreateAthon story will be told from the one place in America that was most meant to inspire servant leadership. Who knows? Maybe some good karma will rub off down the street.


posted by Kevin Smith Nov 02,2011 @ 12:42PM

Persist or Advance

Occupy Wall Street is proving to be the definition of persistence. Meanwhile, the European debt crisis continues one week after the next. In a better world, crises would at least be short, especially such severe ones. The congressional stalemate continues despite national frustration. I can’t imagine anything worse than being on a “Super Committee.” A regular committee is painful enough.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola does something beautiful. They turn their cans white for the World Wildlife Fund . This profound gesture reminds me why I love the business of branding. Amidst all the chaos, Coke’s Arctic Home campaign feels like a refuge. A company doing something good, just because it is a good hearted company.

Coke’s white can inspired our marketing strategy for our client Moe’s Southwest Grill. Moe’s is incredibly supportive of schools and children’s charities, and we’re working on ways to further deepen their support at a neighborhood level.

Moe’s reminds me that we have to continually raise the bar. They are constantly tweaking their menu. They were the first retailer in town with Coke’s incredible new Freestyle machine. Better training, improvements to the prep line, and monitoring measuring customer feedback all followed a discussion about marketing strategy.

As the economy continues to strain business, brands easily fall into a mentality of persistence spawned by risk avoidance. I would argue that today’s challenging business climate demands constant improvement and innovation. I invite you to share a Coke with a colleague and start exploring how you might change things for the better.




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