17 Great Reasons to Visit The Columbus Zoo

Home to more than 9,000 animals and hundreds of species, the Columbus Zoo welcomes more than 2.3 million visitors each year. [1]  Last weekend I bumped that number to 2,300,001.

It wasn't my first visit to the zoo, but it was my first visit in a long time. It was also my first field day out with the new camera. Saturday morning I trekked across town, popped in my earbuds and took on Saturday through the scope of my lens. No Facebook. No texting. No Instagram, even. Just a girl and a camera traveling continent-to-continent, creature-to-creature on a grand afternoon adventure.

If you're looking for a reason to visit the zoo, they've got thousands. Here are 17 I discovered last weekend...

17 Reasons to Visit The Columbus Zoo

It's the perfect place for family bonding.Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

And nobody cares if you're having a bad hair day. Or a bad beard day. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

While you're there, you'll probably want to plan a lunch date with this calorie-conscious, salad-loving gorilla. Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

Or schedule a hike with this shy guy. Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Any way you look at them, elephants are incredible. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

And you've got to know what these bears are whispering about. Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

You'll definitely want to welcome this bitty baby to the world. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

And find out where this guy gets his nails done.  Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Mud runs are a daily thing at the Columbus Zoo. (But sometimes they're less of a "run" and more of a "flop.") Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

As well as demonstrations on the proper posture for "downward dog." Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Really, The Columbus Zoo is the purrrrrfect way to spend an afternoon. (And these guys had a ™ on roar long before Katy Perry.)  Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Photo Mar 14, 4 13 18 PM

While you're there, you can audit a class in confidence from this cocky little fellow. Photo Mar 15, 12 09 24 AM (1) Or learn how to strike a pose courtesy of these judgmental flamingos.  Photo Mar 15, 12 09 21 AM (2) Photo Mar 15, 12 09 22 AM (1) Photo Mar 15, 12 09 22 AM (2) Photo Mar 15, 12 09 22 AM

You'll definitely want to give this guy a hug. Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

And check out the twittering and tweets going on in the aviaryProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhoto Mar 15, 12 09 17 AM (1) Photo Mar 15, 12 09 17 AM After a long day of walking around, you might be ready for a nap. (But that's okay, you'll fit right in.)Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

And you'll leave feeling loved, because when it's time to go home, this pouty bear will miss you big time. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetI

Learn more about The Columbus Zoo at ColumbusZoo.org. Better yet, buy yourself a membership.

20 Columbus Instagrammers You Should Be Following

20 Columbus Instagrammers You Should Be Following

columbus ohio instagram
columbus ohio instagram

If you're new to the Instagram game -- or just looking for a few locals to follow -- I've put together a list of Columbus instagrammers worth a look and a like. Though their followings vary in size, this bunch is the best of the best when it comes to celebrating our community and all the reasons we're proud to call Cbus home. -Amy


Amanda Hamman | @girlaboutcolumbus Amanda's feed is pretty much perfection. A Columbus-focused dash of delicious and a sprinkle of lovely with the occasional pup shot peppered in. If you don't live here already, viewing our community through the GAC lens will make you wish you did.

Nom Life
Nom Life

Ewa and Jeromy | @Nom_LifeI have yet to cross paths with Ewa (or Jeromy for that matter) off Instagram, but I kind of feel like she is my sister from another mister at this point.  From savories to sweets, the NL feed is a visual smorgasbord of the culinary greatness emanating from every nook and cranny in Columbus. The #foodporn alert is high on this one, friends, but never fear. NSFW just stands for "not safe for waistlines."

dan baker
dan baker

Dan Riesenberger | @danthebakerThere are two kinds of people in the world: people who love bread so much and people I have basically nothing in common with. If you love delicious carbs and pretty photos of delicious carbs, you've found your feed. Dan Riesenberger, owner and founder of Dan the Baker and Toast Bar, puts the "art" in artisanal. His images may leave you sniffing your screen in hopes of catching a whiff of that "just-out-of-the-oven" goodness. (And let's be honest, who can resist a man who bakes bunny bread? Not this girl.) 


Kathy & Sophia | @kasuallifeLifestyle bloggers Kathy and Sophia have a special gift for showcasing the softer, gentler side of Columbus. Whenever I scroll their feed, I feel instantly transported to a sunny Saturday with nothing on my agenda but enjoying the ultimate Girl's Day with my closest lady friends.  


Michael Noon | @noonerblast  It's fair to say that you'll find good things around every corner in Columbus, but Michael Noon has taught me that sometimes the corners are the good thing. His feed is a visual feast of form, color and style that highlights architecture and urban pops everywhere from the soaring heights of our landmark skyscrapers to the subtler gems that often go overlooked. 


Alicia | @alicia.wanders A new friend in my feed, Alicia's IG is a continual stream of local food and fun with the occasional cat thrown in for good measure. (You know how the internet loves cats.) Besides inducing some serious stomach growls, her shots are great inspiration to get out and explore Columbus.


Robert W. Tobin | @robertwtobinAs an antique photo collector, I have a soft spot for the beauty and mystery of the unfinished stories of people and places I'll never know. Robert's feed is the closest thing I've found to the living version of an antique photograph. He has a true gift for revealing sometimes-broken, always-beautiful stories one snippet at a time. And he captures the city around us in a way that leaves me constantly wondering, "Wow. Where is this?" 


Amy | @amytellmewhereGreat name aside (I'm admittedly partial), Amy is basically the Columbus food whisperer. No matter where I am, one look at her IG is all it takes to leave me wishing I was where she is. Amy takes "I'll have what she's having" to a whole new level, because what she's having is always delicious.


Experience Columbus | @experiencecolumbusWith a mix of org-generated and fan-generated photos, the Experience Columbus IG feed is kind of like a visual version of the daily news. Spoiler alert: the headline always reads the same: "BREAKING NEWS: WELCOME TO COLUMBUS. AWESOME THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE." (Tip: tag your IG photos with #expcols and #cbusfoodscene to give EC permission to repost.) 

death to stock
death to stock

Death to the Stock Photo  | @deathtostock With a mission to change the way the world (literally) views stock photography, it should come as no surprise that the Columbus-based DTS Instagram serves up a steady stream of swoon-worthy eye candy. The lovelies you find on IG are just a small sampling of the full DTS archive. Sign up on the website to receive free monthly collections or go premium for access to the whole shebang. (And follow founder @alliepal while you're at it!) 


Candis Jones | @thejonesmarketWhenever my sister and I look back through old family photos, we often find ourselves commenting on the necklaces that have accompanied us throughout our lives. From the plastic classics of childhood to cherished family heirlooms, they've accessorized our story. Candis Jones, founder of The Jones Market, has created what I consider the modern heirloom necklace. Simple and simply beautiful, this fashion-forward, Columbus-based brand offers up beaded lovelies that are both mama- and baby-friendly.


Jonathan + Sandra | @therusticlifeYou'll find @therusticlife sitting squarely at the intersection of rustic-inspired lifestyle blog and home decor shop. This sweet Columbus couple has mastered the art of merging old and new to create modern-meets-vintage magic. Their IG feed regularly leaves me debating ditching my current digs, buying a country cottage and starting over from scratch. Forget the bigger boat. We're gonna need a bigger farm table.


Jolie Ankrom | @brimpaperyArguably the most darling and classy human alive, Jolie Ankrom  is the creative sauce behind Columbus' Brim Papery. Her feed invites you to fall in love with a world of words. I'm not talking pixels on a screen. I'm talking real, paper-to-pen, swoon-at-the-curves-of-your-y words -- one print and sassy coffee mug at a time. (Girl crush alert!)


Fox in the Snow Cafe | @foxinthesnowcafeLots of people claim coffee is an art, but Fox in the Snow Cafe proves it. Scrolling the mishmash of savories, pastries and frothy foam on their IG feed leaves me feeling like I've just cuddled up under a cozy blanket with a favorite book. (A sentiment that is immediately followed by the realization I need to put on real pants and go get me summa that.)


Edible Columbus | @ediblecolumbusIf there were such a thing as a bucket list for food, Edible Columbus would be the equivalent of leaving the firehose of inspiration running. From chocolates to crostatas, tacos to tapas, this spotlight on the Columbus food scene may leave you drooling as you scroll. (No judgment shall be passed.) 


Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams | @jenisicecreams Jeni's tends to make all of my Best-of-Columbus lists. Why? Because they're just so darn good at being good. From the way they do business to the ingredients they source to the instashots that remind me it has been far too long since I last spooned with Goat Cheese and Red Cherries, they're setting the bar high. Their Instagram is a vibrant celebration of the way #TeamJenis does things from start to scoop to smile. 


Pistacia Vera | @pistaciaveraMeet the local masters of the macaron. PV's crave-inducing Instagram feed proves you don't have to go all the way to Paris to indulge in a sweet treat and the perfect of pastry. You'll find it right in the heart of German Village. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.27.22 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.27.22 AM

Curio at Harvest | @curioatharvestI cringe a little when I hear people say that Curio has the best drinks in town. It's true, of course. They do. They really, really do. But it seems almost flippant to refer to the cocktails Curio mixes up as "drinks." They're more like sippable stories told by a clan of artists and historians who pull pages from the past and serve them up in the appropriate glass. Forget the pudding. The proof is in the pour. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.02.13 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.02.13 AM

Kittie's Cakes | @kittiescakesYou know how whenever your mom or grandmother makes a recipe it always tastes so much better than when you do, like they've got some magical ingredient secretly stashed up their sleeve? That's the Kittie's Cakes experience. (And I'm pretty sure the magical ingredient is love.) Some of nicest sweets slingers you'll ever meet, Kittie's feed tempts the tastebuds with snaps of their daily offering (with the occasional cameo from @linus_the_golden_retriever). If you see something you like, don't delay. They sell out regularly, and longingly staring at Instagram shots pales in comparison to chowing down on the real thing.  

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.46.58 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 2.46.58 AM

Amy Taylor | @ohiogoodDo you know what time it is? Shameless self plug o'clock! I recently launched @ohiogood as a home for my regular adventures throughout Columbus and occasional journeys throughout Ohio. If you read this post all the way to the bottom, kudos to you! Tag me and say hello! I'd love to connect with you. 

So, who did I miss? We've got way too much local talent for one list. Which Columbus instagrammers would you nominate for Part Two of this Cbus local Instagram series? Name drop in a comment below or tag me on Twitter @NoMeatballs or on Instagram @OhioGood.

ABOUT THE AUTHORAmy Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based Marketing Strategist + Copywriter. She likes lunch for breakfast, wine, social media and dogs. (But not necessarily in that order.) Tweet her @NoMeatballs.

A Run Through the Sprinklers

Women Wearing Colorful Bathing Caps I'm just going to say it. I'm so over winter. I'm over lugging around a full-length wool coat wherever I go. I'm over ruining my shoes in dirty slush. I'm over risking my life trying to traverse the ice. I'm over it. O-V-E-R.

Thankfully, I have a week-long, nothing-but-beach vacation coming up. The sun-and-sand light at the end of my proverbial winter tunnel, if you will. It was the looming of said vacation that prompted me to spend my lunch hour in a place no woman likes to go: the swimsuit section. Seriously. Apparently 70 percent of Americans would rather go to the dentist, do their taxes, sit in the middle aisle of an airplane or visit their in-laws than go shopping for a swimsuit. (And I'm one of them.)

The fitting room was packed yesterday, and the conversations flying back and forth were a chorus of self deprecation:

"This is probably as good as it's going to get for me." "I shouldn't be seen in public." "I hate my body." 

The chatter shook me from my own mental trash talking. (What, exactly, is that weird little armpit chicken cutlet and what exercises will make it go away?!) 

mean girls

But then it happened. I told my inner Mean Girl to stuff a sock in it, and this guy chimed in...


It seems that when it comes to fearlessness and priorities, we were all so much better off as kids.



Our five-year-old selves didn't worry about what jiggled or rolled, bumped or lumped. We had bigger things to focus our energy on. (Like pretending we were mermaids.)

The next time you find yourself facing the dreaded mirror, every bit and piece of your precious self cast in an unforgiving light, I hope you will dial down Regina George and crank the volume on perspective.

Be thankful for legs that offer you the gift of a stroll along the shore at sunset and toes that can wiggle their way down into the cool sand and hands that construct sandcastles and arms that are happy to oblige when you summon them to take you for a swim. Give thanks for ears that know the shouts of seagulls and eyes that have borne witness to fifty shades of sunrise. Be thankful for the freedom to wear what you want, show what you want and let down your hair whenever you see fit. Be grateful for the opportunity to experience the splendor of creation and the chance to unplug so you can plug back into the things that matter.

E.E. Cummings once said, "There's a hell of a good universe next door" -- it's waiting to delight in you. Don't let a poly-lycra blend become the deciding factor between your "no"and your "yes." Your fearless, inner five-year-old invites you to run through the sprinklers. She invites you to get out of your head and out of that dressing room.

After all, everyones knows a fitting room is no place for a mermaid.

A Letter to my 10-Year-Old Self

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 12.07.35 AM Dear 10-year-old self,

Hi there. It’s me. You. I've been challenged to write a letter to my ten-year-old self, so here I am. And here you are. And this is what we do. And here is what I know:

You’re going to be an awkward kid. Bad bangs, weird last name, more sensitive than most. You’ll soon be plucked from a place you love, and thrust into the alien north where you’ll be the only one sporting cowgirl boots and a seriously heavy accent. While the other students spend half the year making fun of the way you pronounce “pen,” you’ll spend it trying to convince yourself they’re just really into school supplies as you seek refuge between the covers of cherished books.

You’re going to be tall your whole dang life. Pants are never going to fit you quite right, so you might as well start getting used to it now. Whatever you do, don’t shrink away from who you are or shrink away from opportunity. Promise you’ll always remember that any person who asks you to be less than you are is no one you want in your heart or your life. (And just so you know, on that fateful Halloween a year or so from now, when that old lady accuses you of being “too old to trick-or-treat” just because you’re the tallest of your friends, you’ve got my support. Go ahead and flip her the bird, because you’re really going to want to do it.)

The 90s will be chock full of life lessons. (And you’ll get to relive them all over again when the 90s become retro-cool sometime in the 2010s.) What it really comes down to is this: Lunchables are horrible. No matter how deprived you may feel at the moment, you’re really not missing out. Stock up on Clearly Canadian, though, because it’s set to go extinct. And Britney and Christina from the Mickey Mouse Club? You’ll be hearing from them again.

I’m not gonna lie. Things are going to get rocky in junior high. Puberty is going to be a train wreck. Growing boobs will traumatize you. Starting your period will traumatize you. Changing for gym class will traumatize you. Being asked to dance will traumatize you. (Believe it or not, you'll turn down an invitation at the seventh grade dance, and residual feelings of lingering guilt will bubble up any time Toni Braxton comes on the radio throughout the duration of your adult life.)

High school will be fun. You should try harder in your classes than you will, but you’re going to learn way too early that you can do just fine with minimal effort, which will free you up to focus on fun. (And that’s something you’ll never regret.) Everything – and I do mean everything – with your friends is going to feel like the center of and end of the world. Zero percent of it will matter in the long run. But those friends are still your friends today.

Little self, stand up. Stand up for yourself. Stand for something. Take a stand. You’ve got opinions and a voice – use them at your discretion and to your detriment.

Don’t ever miss a chance to take a midnight swim or splash in the ocean. The universe doesn’t care how you look in a swimsuit, and you shouldn’t miss a single opportunity to revel in creation and all His glory.

Say yes more than you say no. Accept the invitations that come your way as often as you can. A decade from now, you’ll look back and long for just one more country drive, one more night at the park, one more conversation, one more night at Burnham, one more Italian soda at Maxwell’s. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Wring every last drop you can from your marvelous existence.

You’ll be bad at being bad – and that’s never going to change. The things (and parents) you’re going to push against will keep you out of so much trouble. And you’ll be so grateful for that one day. Trust me.

Sometime around 1998 your friends are going to take a lunchtime vote. They’ll decide you’re going to be the first to marry because you’re that much of a romantic. They couldn't be more wrong. You’ll still be holding out at 33 – because you’re that much of a romantic. Stay hopeful. Stay patient.

Spend less time writing code names for boys in secret notebooks. Spend more time telling them how you really feel. Be vulnerable. Be brave. I know it's scary.

That DIY dye job the day before senior pictures? It's a bad idea that’s going to make a great story.

No matter what anyone tells you, a Manhattan isn’t a good starter drink. But that’s a lesson you’re going to have to learn the hard way.

Take sensory snapshots and file them away, because change is coming and it’s just a couple years away. Memorize the beauty of red dirt, the song of cicadas and the smell of mesquite trees on a hot Texas day. Soak up the sun from your little world of inner tubes, sunscreen and chlorine. You won’t want to go, but you’ll know you can’t say. And one day you’ll look back to realize your first love wasn’t a person – but a place.

Eventually you’re going to begin to realize you hit the family jackpot. The years and the miles will try to pull the ties that bind apart the seams. Don’t let them. Weddings and funerals will fling you back together from far corners from time to time over the years. And when you find yourself in same room once again, you’re going to quietly marvel that these are your people. And they are such wonderful people. Really.

You will make mistakes. You will have regrets. You will hurt people. You will hurt yourself. Challenge yourself to find a solution. To learn a lesson. To apologize and mean it. To forgive and let go.

Let the seed of faith grow. It really is the root of everything.

Pet all the dogs you meet. Be happy. Have fun. Go barefoot. Refuse to let the world tame you. Say a prayer of thanks every night as your head hits the pillow. Get up early enough to welcome each new day.

Never lose sight of who you are, little self. And I promise to do the same.

See you soon, 33-year-old You


Why the Future of the Workplace is No Workplace at All

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 1.15.03 AM Lately, I have been sifting through an endless stream of posts about the things that influence workplace happiness and theories about what employees really want. From the perks of good coffee to the merits of standing desks to the endless debate about whether open offices are amazing or awful (I tend to be in the latter camp on that one), there are a lot of studies and a lot of opinions floating around.

Niceties are nice, but at the core, I think this entire conversation is spiraling and sidestepping a much larger reality. We're standing on the edge of a huge and inevitable cultural shift; a shift I believe will have at least as large an impact on American culture as women forgoing stay-at-home motherhood in favor of entering the workforce.

Quality of life is no longer limited to a simple matter of income. For years we've been told to strive for a work/life balance, but people are finally waking up. They're realizing that balance is bullshit, and life shouldn't take a backseat to their jobs. The result?  A slow and steady  workplace evolution is taking place to match the shifting priorities of the talent companies are looking to hire and keep.

The single value that's driving it all? Autonomy.

This is the part where I tell you I'm clearly biased on this topic. I work for an agency that grants me the ability to work remotely from 500 miles away. They put their full trust in me -- and I do my best to show my gratitude by working hard and doing everything I can to make sure I never give them a reason to doubt our arrangement. (But I'll save the lessons and learnings on remote employment for  another post.)

Over the last couple years of remote employment, I have learned it's a topic that currently gives a lot of people (primarily people in leadership positions) serious indigestion. How does that work? How do they know you're doing what you're supposed to be doing? And while there are many parts and pieces to the logistics (from Skype meetings to workflow systems), the crux of those polite inquiries really boils down to this: How can I have a 100% guarantee that a remote employee is doing what they're supposed to be doing? 

The bad news is: you can't. The good news? That reality is nothing new or different.

From a recent post on Quartz:

“We have this factory model, and we think someone’s working if they show up in the morning and they’re not drunk, they don’t sleep at their desks, they leave at the right time. But that has so little to do with what you create. And we all know people who create a lot without fitting into those norms.”

Research indicates employees greatly value autonomy. This is part of what’s driving millennials to leave traditional offices and go out on their own. “It’s a cultural phenomenon,” says Alex Abelin, co-founder of Liquid Talent.“Everything is pointing in that direction. We care more about mobility and independence.”

As my dear friend Heather Whaling once said, if you can't trust people to work without you standing over their shoulder, you've hired the wrong people. That's a people problem, not a process problem. So, that nervous feeling you're getting in your gut as you read this? In the wise words of a tundra princess, let it go. That thing you're fighting against is already happening and it's happening fast. You've only got two choices: embrace it and thrive or push back and find yourself way behind the curve five years down the road. (Remember all those people who once claimed the internet was just a fad and email would never catch on? Yeah, nobody wants to be those guys. And nobody wants to work for that company.)

Don't worry. I'm not going to leave you feeling exposed in the harsh light of a new dawn. I've put together a few thoughts on why this is all really a good thing for business:

Remote allows you to tap into a bigger, better bucket of talent. Hiring is hard. Finding that perfect person who is a great cultural fit with the just-right skill set is hard, hard, hard. When you do find that person, the chances they'll live locally are rather slim, which leaves you with a couple options. You can try to woo them and pay for relocation expenses or you can settle for whoever you can find locally.

In many instances, embracing job relocation isn't as simple as saying "yes" to a great offer. The reality of spouses, children and home ownership all factor into the equation for job candidates. And rightfully so, these things often take precedence over a new job.

I do not believe geography should be the determining factor when it comes to new hires. If I'm a client, I don't care where my designer or copywriter sits -- I care about the creative talent they bring to the table. Whether they are bringing it from Baltimore, Bakersfield or Bangladesh makes no difference to me.

By offering employees a more flexible working arrangement -- the ability to work from anywhere -- you open yourself up to welcoming new and stronger talent onto your team. Instead of just hiring people who can get to your office, you're suddenly able to hire people who get you and want to be a part of what you're doing.  You're building a better, stronger company, not just a "based-in-wherever" company.

Early adopters will become the winningest brands. Times are changing -- fast. The companies currently getting cultural and technological infrastructure in place to support the forthcoming era of the "mobile workplace" will have first dibs at the best talent. I predict the autonomy offered by the mobile workplace will be a part of the culture of all brands on the Top 100 list within the next few years. Why? Because it's a perk that is going to appeal to top talent. And top talent is what drives the creativity and innovation behind top brands.

More people in more places means more new business opportunities. Your employees are some of your best ambassadors. They're a living, walking, breathing extension of your brand. Whether they're volunteering in the community, chitchatting on a cross-country flight, attending a gallery opening or striking up conversation in the grocery store line, they carrying your brand's message out into the world every day.

Local has become a big thing -- even beyond the riveting land of local kale. Many brands are now placing a high priority on partnering with agencies who have people in their local community. That becomes a problem when all your people are located in one city -- and your client is across the country. A remote workforce expands the number of locations where the message spreads simply by increasing the number of pinpoints your people dot on a map. When you've got team members embedded in Houston, Omaha, Bismarck, Columbus, Portland and Charlotte, you can cover a heck of a lot more local ground. More people in more places = more opportunities to start the local conversations that lead to new business opportunities.

Remote teams reduce overhead costs. The thought of centralized offices going extinct is a big pill for many to swallow. But in reality, as the workforce decentralizes, the expense of retaining and maintaining space for exclusive use is going to make less and less sense. Energy costs will likely continue to climb, and leases in desirable areas will keep rising. With the advent of technologies that allow incoming calls to be seamlessly forwarded to mobile lines, even ease of communication is no longer a compelling argument in defense of a permanent office.

Having said that, the need for employees to gather and meet as a team (or with clients) will endure. If I had a big chunk of change to invest, I go all in with coworking spaces in creative communities. Not only do these spaces provide affordable place to gather and groove, they offer the ability to collaborate and connect with people beyond your team. Win-win-win.

What are your thoughts? When it comes to the remote workplace are you eager to adopt or hesitant to embrace? If you're a remote employee, what do you like about it? If you're an employer, what are the pros and cons in your mind? 

Design Is a Time Traveler

vintage design I recently visited a friend's house to discover a canister of Cafe Bustelo sitting on their countertop. With its bright yellow and red design, it stuck out like a sore thumb in a space  I lovingly (and accurately) call the epitome of a hipster haven.  A quick Google of Cafe Bustelo history makes me think their branding hasn't changed a whole lot since it was founded in 1931. And maybe that's a good thing. In a neutral, Pinterest-worthy space, that misfit canister was elevated to an unintentional statement piece -- a functional work of art.

Industrial designer, S. Balaram once said, “If there is shit all around me, how can I eat my ice cream?” What his delivery lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in truth. We can exist without form, but why would we want to? Could we fully appreciate function of an object if there were no element of beauty? (Would Christmas magic exist if we stripped away all the wrapping?)

I've always been a fan of old things. I like rehoming baubles and bits whose stories have been surrendered at an under-market fee. One man's castoff is this woman's treasure. Part of me wonders if this affinity is a silent rebellion against the style that defined my generation. By the time I was old enough for advertising to imprint on me, the homey kitsch of the late-70s/early-80s had given way to a certain kind of neon-laden, ADD-priming marketing hysteria. (When I think back to the heart of those advertising years, the images in my mind are set to a soundtrack of laser light FX and the Kool-Aid man bursting through a wall yelling, "OH YEAH!")

In a word, 90s branding felt very frantic. It wasn't trying to tell a story, it was just screaming at you, trying to be the loudest box in the room. I'm sure it worked to some extent, as I can recall more than one grocery-store meltdown over Dunkaroos and Lunchables.







Over time, 90s branding went the way of slap bracelets and "The Rachel Cut," quietly slipping into oblivion. In the decades since, it seems the children of the 80s/90s are now championing  a new age of design. And while it's fun to joke "just put an ax on it," I really like the work that's being done these days. It's thoughtful, functional and beautiful. It reminds me that design is really a craft, not a profession or an industry or a skill. As for the people propelling the design engine forward? They just might be the closest thing we have to modern-day modern artists.

Good design doesn't have a shelf life. It says something about its era; the culture, the people, the priorities. It's one part nostalgia, one part dream. And decades down the road, it still has the power to make you stop and take notice.







8 Badass Columbus Female Founders You Should Know

female founder collage Columbus has been named the seventh best city in the country for female founders, a top 10 city for small business and the best city for working mothers. Whatever you call it, there's no denying that we have some mighty talented, badass, creative female founders in our midst -- and they're not only doing great business, they're doing great things for the Columbus community.

If you haven't met these ladies, you should. If you don't know them by name yet, you will.

Allie Lehman, Death to the Stock Photo Something about Allie Lehman's photography makes me feel like we're all living in an eternal state of autumnal bliss on a never-ending Saturday morning. She has such a gift for capturing the subtle, intimate, meaningful moments of daily living most people miss by rushing through life. Not only is Allie a super-talented photog, she's also an author, an entrepreneur and the founder of Death to the Stock Photo, a movement that is changing the way the world views stock photography.

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Lisa LaMantia, Willow & Wren Color Free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor (aka: the really bad stuff) Willow & Wren is doing nail color in a newer, better way. Alongside classics like Sticks + Stones (a creamy, vampy red) and the perfectly peachy Fizzy Pop (a personal fav), you'll discover an ever-evolving palette of now-inspired shades that rotate and retire with the changing of seasons and trends. From All That Glitters (a gorgeous, glittering rose gold) to Maine Attraction (a vibrant, emerald green that will make you want to get in the car and hit the road), W&W offers a signature color for every style and taste. The passion project of Lisa LaMantia, a local City Planner (and good friend), Willow & Wren has become a permanent fixture on my toe tips and my go-to gift for lady friends. 

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Allison Chapman, Igloo Letterpress If you've never had the opportunity to lay your hands on a letterpress, drop what you're doing and head to Worthington. Look for Igloo Letterpress situated squarely at the intersection of history, wordology and design (39 West New England Avenue). Allison has brought a magical thing to the central Ohio community, and invites visitors to put down their technology and take a step back in time by creating something beautiful and meaningful with their hands. 

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Heather Whaling, Geben Communication Thought leader. Crisis averter. World changer. Do gooder. Of all the things I could call Heather Whaling, I'm most thankful to call her my friend. As Founder and President of Geben Communication, a German Village-based boutique public relations firm, Heather leads a savvy PR team that is kicking ass and taking names on a daily basis. (And moving the needle in a big way for their clients in the process.) With a guiding mantra of "Doing well by doing good," you'll find Heather giving of her time and talent as a tireless philanthropist, mentor to many and friend to the community.

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Danielle Evans, Marmalade Bleue As I mentioned in a recent post, when it comes to my list of likes, food and typography rank near the top. So it should come as no surprise I’ve got a serious creative crush on the woman who brings both of these things together to create magical, storybook-worthy works of art. If your brand is a foodie brand, drop what you’re doing and call Danielle. If your brand isn’t a foodie brand, after you see her work…you’re gonna wish it was.

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Mollie + Kelly Fankhauser, Kittie's Cakes There are cakes...and then there are Kittie's Cakes. It's easy to tell the difference. Kittie's Cakes are the kind of thing that compel a person to get out of bed, put on real pants and drive across town on a Saturday morning because you know the rest of the city is going to see today's Instagram and race to German Village to buy up whatever is left. (Not that I would know anything about that.) When it comes to these former-golfers-turned-bakers, it would be easy to love Mollie and Kelly based solely on their product, but the love doesn't stop there. This duo somehow manages to run an awesome business, support several community initiatives and rule the Instagram world on behalf of both Kittie's and their golden child, Linus. Living proof that you really can have your cake and eat it too...and have a meaningful impact on the world in the process.


Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams No list of Columbus female founders would be complete without mention of our Patron Saintess of Creativity, Jeni Britton Bauer. What can be said about Jeni that hasn't been said before? (Probably not a lot, given that her name yields over 91,000 hits on Google.) As she suggests in her book, anyone can make great ice cream. Inspiring an entire city to fall deeply in love with a better way of doing things, however, takes a special person, a tireless spirit and a true passion. For those of us who live in Columbus, we've bought into Jeni's story and better way with each scoop and spoonful. Jeni's isn't just a story about great ice cream; it's the story of the spirit of our community -- innovative, creative, passionate, fun and relentlessly focused on doing, not just being, good.

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AUTHOR /// Amy Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based Marketing Strategist + Copywriter. Learn more about her at WriteHuman.com or follow her on Twitter @NoMeatballs.

5 Awareness Campaigns That Got The Art of War Right


Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” is chock-full of brilliant insights. (So much so, I feel like it should be a required read for every marketer, entrepreneur and business person.) And while we, thankfully, don’t have to stand on the frontline of an actual war each day, we are immersed in a form of war. We fight for attention. We fight to be remembered. We fight to break through the noise. We fight to not only make people give a damn, but to give enough of a damn they take action and do something.

A tidbit of wisdom from The Art of War…

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” 

A couple days ago, I clicked a video that popped into my Facebook feed. With the flurry of pre-Super Bowl ads floating around, I assumed it was another pre-release for SB XLIX. (I was wrong.) Upon hitting play, the spot led me down a familiar path. Then along came the thunderbolt.

Not only did this PSA get the fight right, they even followed another of Tzu’s tenets:

“When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

Some of Us called PepsiCo to the floor, leading them right to the only open escape hatch. They’ve been called out. Now if they want a way out, they’ll have to change their ways. 

Here are a few other examples of PSAs that got the thunderbolt right…

(Warning: Trigger alerts.) 

- See more at: http://www.brainsonfire.com/blog/2015/01/15/5-psas-got-art-war-right/#sthash.maFcrWDZ.dpuf