The Kitchen — After Moment

What makes a kitchen remodel worth it?
Being able to use it every day! Entertaining family and friends is another joyful way to celebrate the hard work.

Steve did work on the Kitchen through the early morning before the friend’s kitchen party.

The simple modern kitchen came to life and I’m excited to share with you, the before and again and AFTER to this 2 month project.

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Kitchen before on hawthorne

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before cabinet area

 

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Kitchen before and after

Functional and simple modern design, in-eat kitchen perfect for entertaining, additional counter-space and storage.

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Well worth the year wait! The process made us even more knowledgable to help friends and clients with their house buying and house planning adventures.

Onto the next!

Thanks again and as always, reach out with any questions or comments.

Keep your chin-up during renovations,
Tricia Jo

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Who’s ready for a Kitchen remodel blog post?

Many of you know, as a first-time home buyer selecting your home, (almost) everything needs to feel perfect, the curb appeal, neighborhood, the master bedroom size, your closet, the outdoor space—but in my case that kitchen did NOT cut it.

Steve and I waited until 1 year after owning our home to gather the right plans, data, specs and funds to start on our kitchen project.

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Roll those

Vision pictures please

from my Pinterest… throw me a follow

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Of course, curiosity of our SpaceCrafters

Kitchen before on hawthorne before 2 before

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I mean, we like bowling alleys, but this was a bit too extreme. I still remember when the real estate agent showing me the home said, “Well these look new, they look gray from afar and are kind of neutral”.
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A good friend, had told me before buying the home, do not start one room without having another room be fully finished.

We were prepared to not use our kitchen for 4-6 weeks, OK maybe even 2 full months (we don’t have any pets or kids, so going out to eat is our thing).
So we gave ourselves 1 year after our closing to prepare, save and plan. Then when October 2015 came around …on the 19th the wall came down, literally. 

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I wasn’t aware of the exact #demoday until I walked in from work early to this.

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excited little girl

(MY REACTION ABOVE PLAYED BY AMY ADAMS OF COURSE)
Clearly I had been waiting to take that wall down for a long time!

 

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It was clear to us early on, we would not be doing everything ourselves. We did try to learn from Home Depot, Menards, tradeshow booths (too many of those) and it came to picking out materials and designs ourselves, then let the experts install, wire, place etc. I mean come on, we are a Millennial couple both with full-time jobs, volunteer in our community and have our share of good friends.

Our plan was to do nothing to the kitchen ceilings though, to AVOID adding an additional layer of cost. That eliminated some of my projects that dealt with lighting and beams, however we did make some incredible alterations to save.

So we are started testing out counter sizes.

Kitchen Goals:

  • MORE counter-space
  • MORE storage, particularly getting the pots and pans OUT of the plastic round-about in the corner
  • BAR / entertaining space with at least 2 person seating

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For countertops and the sink we used Bob’s Wood Specialities in Burnsville, after bidding out over 5 different big and small companies. Bob’s is a locally-owned company and the Son ended up coming by to help measure the first time.

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We used a LOT of blue tape to create the custom island this MN Design Gal had in her head and Bob’s had to make it come to life through their work.

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The cabinets themselves were ordered during the 11% Menards sale. Most cabinet brands have every few months a sale of 10-15% off. If you aren’t in a hurry, shop and wait.

Reminder if you want those soft closing slider drawers and garbage pull-outs, they are CUSTOM CABINETS.
You can buy inserts for in-stock cabinets that could work OK, but we wanted this to be seamless and work well for our everyday use. REMINDER to allow 4-6 weeks for cabinets to come in. So once that wall came down, we had to order quickly to keep up with our 2 month timeline…

RANDOM ADDITION TO THE KITCHEN PROJECT—this appeared to be something we wanted to fix after thinking of the potential elevating the use and appeal of the storage area. It also is the 1st thing you see when walking in the house from our garage.

before cabinet area

With a few measurements, and having to let the custom wine shelving go bye-bye…we decided to purchase the Menards’ cabinets for that area as well.

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Be aware, cabinets come in huge boxes!

I guess fun for Kids later—we just had them flat in our garage for well, weeks!

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Pardon the mess.

Did I mention that all items need to be removed from the lower cabinets when you have countertops done?

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A little bit of configuring happening here.

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With countertops planning, they will come to measure (after your cabinets are mounted properly to the floor.)

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In your Kitchen remodel, did you check your dishwasher and how that is mounted between the floor and countertops?

In our case, our 1992 dishwasher had the original flooring underneath, so it wasn’t the same level as the kitchen floor which is marble. So meanwhile, the dishwasher quoted-out—so we bought new and raised the dishwasher so it could be pulled out in the future for repairs and friendly new owners of our home in 2021.😉

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Notice above, the existing cabinets has filler wood, that we painted white later.

TIP: paint the filler wood BEFORE installing the countertops.

Filler wood (or just filler) is there so there isn’t a gap between the NEW and OLD cabinets. Seamless transition countertops.

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To the left, the final design of the custom eat-in bar with more storage underneath provided by Bob’s.

Did you notice in our Kitchen we have 2 large windows behind the sit-in area?
That is why it was tricky from the start.

#ProblemSolvedbyTriciaJo

Meanwhile, remember the additional storage project? Steve had the brilliant idea to cut the wall to have an easier transition from the garage to the kitchen. It opened it up again about 20% and was worth the $400 investment.

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IMG_7752Steve did agree to put the Menards’ very trendy Leather color tile up (bought them with the 11% fill your bag sale folks)—the day before we were having a Kitchen-Warming-Party (so serious) Just so you know, he had 3 weeks folks to start and finish and instead decided to wait until the day before. #TrueStory

He did pick the peel and stick, but they do not warn you, that you need the proper tools to CUT the glass.

Just think about that one for a minute.

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Notice the working glasses! Great job babe! 
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IMG_7935Did Steve get the backsplash done in time for the party?

What did the Kitchen project look like in the end?

Did the couple regret using any of their materials or vendors?

Stay tuned for Part II to the Kitchen Blog Post.

Got to run and take my Real Estate Exam test. (For real wish me luck folks).  

Always thinking,
Tricia Jo

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Kickin’

The last two years I have immersed myself in cereal boxes, dog food brands, k-cups, beanbag chairs and talented creative people.

My final days at Kick I reflected on the learning of packaging re-brands, new product development and successful account strategy.

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Rewarding? So much!

I have been able to help the local Minneapolis nonprofit People Serving People have a brand refresh and strategic website approach to spotlight their amazing mission. Kick was able to lead an online and social media audit to help craft messages, which led to revamping the newsletter and many collateral items. We introduced Jay Larson to this nonprofit as the lead photographer to stock-up their high quality images that showed emotion and breath of services. It makes me smile and understand how important it is to do awesome things for incredible local nonprofits.

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Bone Broth anyone?

Changing the way the consumer drinks from their Keurig machine, along with the innovative-fresh shelf appearance made Lono Life one of my favorite clients going into the second half of my Kick career.

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Every wanted to own an Emoji Bean Bag?

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Kick led the naming, branding, all online engagement, web and community management for this Walmart exclusive brand.

  • 6 week launch = over 15K likes and active community engagement
  • Reaching close to 500K people
  • With 62K total post engagement increasing week after week
  • Our posts are getting 30 shares organically on average // Most Facebook pages at 3-5 share on a post
  • Average “LIKE” price is at 7 cents // the industry average can be 90 cents to well-over one dollar
  • Product continues to sell reaching over a million dollars

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Did I mention I met Lucky Dog’s host Brandon McMillian while at Kick?

I attended a handful of out-of-state pet conferences that featured the best brands in all things pet food, pooper-scoopers, training balls, collars, toys and so much more. I also met a lot of awesome entrepreneurs and brand marketers.

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Did you know my 2nd week at Kick I visited a Dog Bone Manufacturing plant in California?

I learned about the process of making dog bones from human-grade materials also about the entire packaging process on the assembly line. This was in result to better lead a few dozen of bone projects and brand strategies for private labels and new brands that went into SuperValu, Target and Walmart.

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Did you know that I was part of more photo shoots starring dogs than for products or humans?

I have made so many furry friends and collaborated with amazing clients the past two years that I just had to show a few of them.

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On-location in Wisconsin with Cargill client. We had a great day with over 15 animals on-set!

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Remember next time you pick up your favorite product, there is a full team behind the design and brand strategy.

I am thankful for my years at Kick—Mary and Stefan seeing something in me to help continue to grow their business and partner with their amazing clients.

Need a shelf-kicker idea? Call Mary and Stefan from Ideas that Kick of course!

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Until we meet again…more to come!
Tricia Jo 

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May Flowers…

Moving through the Spring cleaning motions: weed-picking, branch-busting, deck-staining, closet organizing—thoughts of selling your home come right before Summer. This being my second Spring and soon to be Summer in my home, I can tell why people may get the itch when the buds start to grow to sell!

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People’s reasons for selling and then buying again are numerous, but they mostly relate to life transitions and changing needs.

Top 5 reasons for selling right now:

1. Want to be in a different neighborhood (40%)
2. Need a home with different features (28%)
3. Need a bigger home (22%)
4. Want location with better weather, views, and/or lifestyle (19%)
5. Need to lower cost of living (17%)

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Enjoying our Spring Snow Crab Apple Blooming Tree early May!

I don’t think I will be able to throw the sign in the front yard quite yet—I just got my kitchen the way I have wanted… (also stay tuned for that photo-filled blog post)

Remember to stop and smell the tulips, buds (or roses), 
Tricia jo 

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Realtor.com reports. Original source.

 

Travel with your partner

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Recently my husband and I went to Maui, and through all the hikes, drives, tee-times, beach-bumming-moments and amazing fish tacos I realized I wasn’t sure what our “couple travel brand” was.
Why do I even ask this question?
I’m a born-marketer and I keep seeing branded Twitter handles, websites and blogs with couples traveling and doing amazing things.

To be exact two stellar couples I can’t get enough of, are traveling and documenting their travels for us to enjoy:

CARL MARTIN and his wife ANNA OLSON are the founders of this incredibly smart way to spend a year-long, cross-country documentary project as newlyweds. They are taking the 52 weeks of this year and using them to make a short film about 50 states US Anywhere. Give them some travel tips when they visit your favorite city @usanywhere. It is only the beginning for this couple!

I also met last year onset MICAH KVIDT. He mentioned him and his wife’s branded travel project Wander The Map. It is where him and his incredible travel partner JENNA document their experiences. They take on world-wide adventures and even get paid for (some) of them! Digging’ their Instagram too, but seriously check them out and tweet them hello @WanderTheMap. Keep them book-marked folks.

There experiences inspired me to rethink how I brand going on travels with my partner in crime Tee Off With Steve. Since our travels will never match-up to the themes of these two talented couples, I had to think of our niche. I came up with a few options related to the golf course experiences around the U.S. we share. So tell me what one you think could stick as our branded travel theme:

  • This Gal and his Golfer (does it make you think of Tiger Woods too much?)
  • Tee off with Steve plus Tricia
  • The Greens of the USA (wait a minute, like those kind of greens…)
  • FORE! by the two of us 
  • Bye Bye Birdie—By the Leangers. 
  • Hole in one. (not sure if that will be the best SEO)

We may need to work on the brand vision a bit more but here are a few moments documented from our Maui Golf day at the Plantation Kapalua.

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Brunch before hitting the course!

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Don’t be intimidated by documenting or branding your travels too much folks. Just snap pictures and video of your experiences and keep track of them the best way possible—so when you are 95 years old it’s an easy way to thumb-through those experiences, even if there is no such thing as Facebook or Twitter.

Couples who travel together stay together,
this MN Design Gal and Tee off with Steve

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Tailored Tweets

Did you know that Twitter crafts sponsored content based on your browser history? They say it so casual Tailor Twitter to your interests.

I stumbled upon this while weeding through some of the new Twitter releases last week.

There is an option to turn this off, and I was quick to want to uncheck-mark the personalization—then realized I actually enjoy that my content is relevant to my recent website searches.

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Depending on what I am browsing in, I am searching items for clients and that keeps my content relevant to me.

I wonder how much data they have on me?

Twitter honors Do Not Track (DNT), which is a privacy preference that you can set in most web browsers.

Many browsers do not educate their users on this issue, here is CHROME’s take on it.

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Do Not Track:
For Windows: In the App list, tap Settings, flick left to Applications, tap Internet Explorer, and then tap Advanced Settings.

​Chrome. To turn on or off DNT in Chrome, go to Chrome menu > Settings > (Advanced) Privacy, then select your preferred option for “Do Not Track.” …

On the flip side, if you are looking for relevant content within your Twitter HOME FEED please enable it or leave it as is.

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Always thinking, here is my home office desk

Stay focused and in the loop on your personal data,
MN Design Gal

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Consumer Packaged Goodness

Do you drive to the grocery store and think to yourself, how fast can I get in and out of there as quickly and efficiently as possible?

That is the exact opposite of this gal.

I am a marketer that takes in the entire shopping experience from start to finish.

Did you notice this week’s FSI?

How about the new in-store take-over messaging above your head while grabbing your cart?

Like the new end cap feature between the coffee and cereal aisle?

Did Campbell’s really just launch a K-CUP Soup brand and have it in 3 places in-store?

Why have I not ever seen this Rachel Ray brand before—am I part of store-test or is this really a new thing?

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I have been part of a talented team where we managed several projects from concept to the retailer shelve. The entire experience and the many hands, ideas and logistics that goes into making it big into  big box stores. Each store has their industry traits and insider info to learn. Most have huge excel sheets to fill in product info after selling it in to the buyers, others just need the crate of product and an internet generated UPC. Stores need in-store rail-strip product photos and web images (with two totally different strategies) to be delivered within a blink of an eye. Will they create and manage the printing process of the POS? Did I budget for this or factor this in with the price per piece?

Participating in trade shows, buyer meetings and even an intense sales blitz session, really opens this marketer’s eyes to the entire CPG world.

Starting on the design side and now working with brand strategy, makes me surely that well-rounded marketing creative.

So next time you walk into your favorite store to just grab a 1/2 gallon of soy milk, or are discouraged by your endless Sunday shopping list, take a minute and experience the consumer packaged goodness!

your MN Design Gal

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First Year as a First-Time Homeowner

The first year of owning a new home, there is a lot of mixed emotions and many ups and downs. Since this Fall was the 1 year anniversary of owning my first home, thought it was perfect time to reflect on the experience and provide some possibly helpful new home owner tips.
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The house closing was near the end of October, which was helpful to view the home during the prime Summer months and then to start to see the home turn into Fall, so if questions arise they could be answered at the closing by the current owners.

If possible, do allow for 4-5 days for preparing your new home after the closing date—before having to bring the U-Haul.
This allows for a deep clean prior to boxes flooded all over your home and may help eliminating some additional stress.

Steve and I worked on prior in our 4 day before move-in window:

  • Removed all the green carpet in the upper level ourselves (maybe I need to re-phrase that Steve removed all the carpet)
  • Hired a contractor to place gray dura ceramic tile
  • Hired a professional cleaner to deep clean entire house
  • Painted 2 main bathrooms that were Pink and Purple (classy right?)

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Once we moved in we concentrated our energy on simplifying our life (continuing to go through items that we actually need) and setting up the main areas to live in, kitchen, living and our master bedroom.

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Before — 2nd Bedroom with layers of paint and original wall paper border.

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After — the beadboard aka wainscoting was a hugh success and made the room even bigger!

Recommendations and candid MN Design Gal advice:

  • 1 room at a time. It may sound like a good idea to jump into every room and do 1 small thing, but in reality in most cases, take it literally 1 room at a time.
  • I started with my office, because it was important for me to have a place that was completely finished and where I can relax and make some freelance money…for more house improvements.
  • Planing for anything kitchen, start prepping your budgets for a range of costs…
  • Don’t fuss over the bathroom athletics right away. Bathrooms are more work than you think once you start to dive into them and a simple handle or two can be changed out over time.
    Start a house Google doc log. This will help you when starting to think about how much money you have put into your house. Log paint, brushes etc that go into improvements too.
  • Document your paint colors, when that bucket is gone, you will be kicking yourself later.
  • Open a credit card at the nearest home improvement store (this I do regret) get 5% off at Home Depot by just mentioning at check-out each time to get it (they do this because of Lowe’s 5%).
  • Take pictures! Pull the before photos off the MLS and remember to start a “Hawthorne home” folder on your phone for making that 1st home book.
  • Don’t fuss on the yard the 1st year. Watch everything grow-in and take notes. We had gotten back from a 5 day trip and our entire backyard was a white dream full of blossoms because of our wonderful tree we never knew we had!
  • Meet the neighbors—It helps with the awkward encounters later on in the year when you need them most or when you are in a jam.

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Have fun with your partner or family and friends. The best part about owning a home is to learn about house construction materials (paint, wood etc) and have fun updating and making it your own.

Year 2 brings on the Kitchen remodel! Stay tuned for updates and before and afters…Here is a first look of the wall coming down.

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Your First Time Home Owner,
Tricia 

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California Vaca – Studio Tour Reco

California—Fuel Your Dreams (brought you to by VisitCalifornia.com).

Going way beyond what the travel websites may say, I’m super lucky to have my sister residing in California—this Fall we visited the Warner Brother’s Studios. WB is one of the big 6 in LA area for film makers.

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Trina, Mom Candee, Me

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Recommendation is to buy the ticket the night before (or plan way ahead if need be) through the Warner Brother’s website. Then use the [  AAA  ] discount code for $5 off a ticket. Notice NO handling fee.

Arrive for the 9 am – 11 am tours if your schedule allows. When we left at 2 PM the line to get in was way out the door and the California inland sun makes it a super hot tourist day.

Your tour guide random, and every day is different, so no tour is the same! Fridays is when less TV shows are filming because of having the day off. This can be good or bad for trying to get into particular studios and star-sighting. The backlots and soundstages all vary to who books them, while some are consistent with standard shows having their home-base.

Ellen films in stage # 1 (now officially called Ellen Studio 1 after her 2,000th episode).

Stage 23 is a new movie ‘The House’ starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s.

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IMG_6284We just so happened to be there when Fuller House was beginning to film and also Vampire Diaries took over some of the street so we couldn’t walk through some main areas. Ellen DeGeneres was doing a special on QVC in her TV studio, so we couldn’t get in to peek, like most tours do.

Be prepared to shout-out what favorite shows and movies that are produced through Warner Brothers. You guessed it—we did our homework and shouted out:

F-R-I-E-N-D-S!
Sex and the City!
Gilmore Girls! 
Batman!
My Fair Lady!
E.R.!
The Hangover!

…..

The tour guide will then will craft the tour with special facts as they come to his or her head about those movies and shows. Did you know that E.R.’s helicopter pad was actually just in the WB parking lot?

Did you know that FRIENDS actually didn’t film much at all in NYC, even though being based there? The cast would report to the WB Studios in Burbank every week and the 3 main sets where the Central Perk, Rachel / Monica’s apartment and Joey / Chandler’s place. All other sets where just walls that would be placed and decorated to look like the set. The scenes filmed in transitions were just s

The Big Bang Theory has surpassed FRIENDS weekly viewers by being at 14-15 million. FRIENDS was closer to 12 Million weekly viewers.

The end of the tour the FRIENDS set is up for grabs for a quick photo. There is an attendant that offers to use your phone or camera and take a photo.

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IMG_6329TIP: Forget about the video upfront with Ellen talking and run to the FRIENDS set. Have more time looking at the set before the crowd follows you and your photo-opt is only for 10 seconds.

Trina and I acted out a few Central Perk scenes before we were kicked-out of the set—I had picked-up Febe’s guitar on the stage and was about to start to belt-out Smelly Cat.

IMG_3904-24Three green screens are set-up to act out a few popular scenes from movies. Gravity was first, then Batman and ending with Harry Potter. Be prepared to then wait and see the video clips for 3 seconds before they try to sell you the $49.95 videos.

Don’t forget to grab the Oscar and take a quick picture. That will have a guard and it’s super heavy!

Thanks for reading through this tour tip and share your experience with me. Love hearing from readers and travelers, like yourself.

Your Traveling Gal — Tricia

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Judge at the Shelf

Think of going to the bookstore—do you judge a book by its cover? Well “depends on the book” will probably be your answer. But it’s true, I know I do.

When scanning the magazine shelves at the check-out, think about the words, pictures and color that is screaming at you. The mag editors know 1 out of 5 people love Jennifer Aniston or Taylor Swift and that well sex still sells.

What I have learned over the past year is that the product packaging design and hierarchy strategy is extremely important. It really sets your product up for success! The product must stand-out on the shelves to be sold, and the product must be something that the consumer is excited and proud to buy, ideally over and over again. Depending on the audience, Millennials and Gen Y think differently than Boomers, so it matters what it says in the fine print too.

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The message hierarchy on a product is crucial to the success of the packaging, because too much messaging sets up your design for an epic fail. Think about if GLUTEN FREE shouted at you before you even knew what the product was or what you were shopping for.

Ideas that Kick, the branding agency I work at, is super talented at finding ways to challenge the current packaging hierarchy and introducing solutions that will kick the competition off the shelf, literally.

Starting with the company operations is key to any business success. If you can’t keep up with the demand or the quality of the product—you are set-up for failure, no matter what the name or what it looks like.

So go ahead, judge that book by its cover. Grab that frozen pizza out of the freezer at Cub that has a new look, or throw in that box of granola that has beautiful packaging that makes you smile—give the brand a shot. Then follow-up with reviewing it, sending positive or constructive feedback, I may be working on it and would appreciate your feedback!

Always looking out for your brand,
Tricia

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