Be gentle with your light

I have always had a big personality, a ton of energy, a loud voice. I grew up in a funky ass small beach town (which I later moved back to because DUH, funky ass small beach town!). I mean this place was full characters. One of them, who was callously referred to as the town drunk, was kind of a wise old sage, until he hit a certain point in the day (after which- NO eye contact). One day when I was probably in my early 20’s, back visiting home for the summer, he caught me mid-hollering and said, Hey. Kelsey. Be gentle with your light.

The honesty and intention of this apt sentiment took around a decade to fully appreciate. Between age 16 and 35 I probably had about six thousand people, parents, coaches, teachers, managers and friends, all try to get this same message to me. It was delivered in the form of detention, bench-riding, passed snarky notes, full-fist punches to the face, and performance reviews displaying my very limited sphere of influence. They were all saying please shut the hell up.

My ‘light’ has not always been appreciated, and I have not always been able to harness it as the town drunk suggested. I have always had natural leadership abilities and a fierce loyalty and commitment to my teams, but have only recently realized the power in holding it back. As I sit here this year, quietly working on projects, focusing on other parts of my life, I realize the light is more powerful when I control it.

I also realize that people with different strengths are drawn to and gain energy from my light, which can be powerful as well. I have done some interesting consulting and taken on some new clients and a couple patterns have popped up.

  1. All the things that caused me to have huge HR headaches when I had a corporate design job are de rigueur now. I mean, all of the speaking up, push for accountability, team building, girl power, flexible schedule shit that I was always pushing for used to get hand slaps. Whats up now, bitches. I bet those managers I had aren’t harassing the ladies for talking in meetings these days like they did when I was younger. And don’t even get me started on #metoo.

  2. The way I market my business has been as a graphic designer, and some of my clients hire me for that and it stays the scope. But many, probably even most of my clients, begin to appreciate and use me for a much higher level of consulting and energy: they like my light, my experience and my point of view. And I put on a brand strategy hat, or a consulting hat, and shine my light in their brand’s direction. Consulting is something I like to do, and it turns out I am pretty good at it; in fact, have been doing it for some time now, but have been getting paid for just the graphic design.

All of this adds up to a slight shift in my business to focus on more consulting work. I have experience with brands large and small, inside and out, from core brand strategy to ad campaigns to packaging design. I can do the hands on design work— but I can also influence from a much higher level.

I am a great consultant, probably a better consultant than I am a designer. I have all of the energy and passion and history and frankly, humor, to bring a lot of life to your strategy.

If you need some light, let me know. I have a lot to share.