In 2020 I put a call-out to graphic designers on Instagram to see if they wanted to chat live. It was time to humanize the beautifully curated grids. The response was overwhelming. We turned the chats into a podcast, super creatively called Designer Chats, and after three seasons I chatted with 32 designers from all over the world with a variety of backgrounds and talents.
From the legendary Hoodzpah sisters to game designer Deon Nixon, we slowly started to chip away at imposter syndrome. Everyone has humble beginnings, major road blocks, growing pains, and so on. But there was one thing that continuously stood out to me. The struggle we all go through to create our own branding. More specifically, running a business behind a rushed brand that didn’t really fit. 👋🏻 Been there!
So now it’s late 2021 and I’m well aware of designers struggle to do for themselves what they do for their clients, but what to do about it? Separately, I had been pondering about my specific talents and how to incorporate them into Jelly more: Branding, Teaching, Event Planning, Community, Gift Giving, Entertaining. BOOM like a mouth full of pop rocks, the idea hit me… a retreat.
We’ve all seen courses, master minds, coaching, but a retreat for designers to work on their own brand, nothing. Was I onto something or had the pop rocks gotten to my head? I knew I needed to turn to my brand strategy, community building, say it like it is designer friend (who I had never met in person) Melissa Perkins of Sweet Daddy Designs. Before I finished the first sentence, she was in. And to seal the deal, I had to share the idea with my local bmore design bestie, Jess Langley of White Coffee Creative.
Now that I knew I was onto something and had support, I got to work. Within weeks Jolt was announced and launched! I was confident, but nervous. If you’ve ever launched a new product or service you know that the marketing side is no joke. I honestly didn’t know if designers would trust a whole new concept that hadn’t happened before.
But one person trusted me, then someone else, then another from out of state…we celebrated them all! Now it’s time to tell you about JOLT 2022!
After months of prep, lots of Slack messages and voice memos, and getting to know the first ever Jolt designers, we headed to Kent Island, Maryland where our amazing retreat house awaited us. I know how hard it is to step away from your business for 4 days, so it was really important to make sure the space was relaxing, calming, and had those getaway vibes. The bay views and large rooms did not disappoint!
We had designers come from all over Maryland, as well as Texas, Ohio, and Connecticut. Some had met before, some I had been chatting with for years but hadn’t met, and other were brand new friends. Let’s just say I was like a little kid with my party dress on, favors by the door, french onion dip out…waiting for her friends to arrive to her 10th birthday party.
After sometime hanging out, exploring the property, and settling into the ginormous couch overlooking the bay, we got to work. The first half was solely brand strategy, which we’ll share more about in Part 2. With the help of Melissa, designers broke down everything they thought they knew about their business and started creating an insanely sturdy foundation for their brand.
The last half of the retreat was all about creative direction, our bread and butter! With a strong focus on what their target audience will be attracted to they created style scapes, choose colors and picked fonts. All the designers are so talented, but they all lacked the same thing; IN PERSON collaboration. It was magical watching someone in their flow of genius hit a wall and be able to look up, turn their screen around, and ask a room full of designers for feedback.
Some other highlights including making brand attribute lists together, spontaneous group brainstorming, 1:1 moments, group dinners and conversations over morning coffee.
Stay tuned for our next retreat re-cap where we’ll share more about what the strategy sessions looked like and what the designers actually did. In a few months you’ll get to see the brands that were made and hear more from the first ever Jolt designers themselves. For now, I’m going to go dream of bay air and Pimlico cake.