Five year pin, you guys.

Five years. It could go fast or slow, depending on how much you have going on. I tend to always have too much going on, so it snuck up on me hard. And as busy as this time of year is, and as much as I like to always be looking forward, I thought I would take a moment and reflect.

I left Starbucks and started Vocal for a few reasons; a combination of being beyond fed up with corporate politics and needing to find a way to spend more time with my kids and less time commuting. All it took was reading a couple Seth Godin books. I distinctly remember my last day because my VP said the Studio would need to get “What Would Kelsey Do” bracelets in my absence. Since leaving, I have worked for 60+ clients, travelled, hosted a podcast, built a house, contributed to a book, opened a shop, volunteered, learned French, and spent a lot of time with my kids. Being able to spend afternoons coaching little league or acting as art docent in classrooms and still have a full plate of interesting design work has been amazing, not a work/life balance but a work/life blend. 

My work has varied, from lettering to art direction, packaging to interior design. I haven’t said no to much, and I have gathered experience, which is my favorite part. A lot of work I do can’t be shown off, but the relationships I have gained from the project partnerships mean the world to me. Every personal referral for work is a win, every client that calls that appreciates the qualities that forced me out of corporate is a glorious moment. Wrapping 5 years by having the honor of being asked to design a commemorative book for the leader whose studio I had quit to start it all was pretty sweet.

Looking forward, I am not sure the current path is the right one for Vocal. The sacrifice of working on large teams and having clearer paths to leadership opportunities in order to work this way has been hard for someone with my personality. The landscape around me has changed, everyone has a podcast now, bitches with leadership skills are trés a la mode.

Time to plan for what’s next. It’s a good time to set goals, clear paths and focus. I’m looking forward to spending the next couple of holiday weeks sleeping off hangovers, wrestling with my kids and planning for the future. 

Making work work around my life has saved me. Shout out to everyone who has been a friend, a client, a contractor, a partner, a supporter, a drinking buddy, or maybe all 6 along the way. Cheffettes, Blackmouth, REI, Soul Training, Eagle Harbor Wine Co., OK Bro, Design Trifecta, LeafWerx, ABCo., Riley Sexton, Receptor, Joe Coffee, Malibu Cookie Co., Borrowed Kitchen Bakery, AHB, STO, Fox’s Seattle, Amazon, TSET, Tweed, ViaRosa, BIO+D, Pleasant Beach Village, Ultalink, ORB, akaNRG, Fierce Femme, Arbor Dynamics, several teams from inside Starbucks, etc, etc. I love learning about all of the businesses and industries, and turning clients into friends. It doesn’t feel like a job very often. I’m a lucky kid.

Maybe there is too much yelling going on all around us, but I’m not in the yelling mood right now. Look for more yelling Kels in 2019;) Cheers everyone, Happy New Year, and go big or go home.


love, kels