I signed up for this awesome gift exchange called the Goody Goody Gift Swap. It’s a simple concept but a great one none the less. All the participants are paired up to send gifts to each other. Who doesn’t love getting a gift from another fellow creative? I was lucky enough to be paired with Nole of Oh So Beautiful Paper. I happen to look at her blog on a fairly regular for inspiration in my graphic design work, so I was thrilled, and then a little panicked. I better make it good! I wanted to design something a little special to send along with the gift, so I came up with this super simple DIY sparkly typographic gift tag. Nole said she can’t resist anything sparkly so I knew I needed to make it gold!
1/32″-1/16″ thick plywood
printed letter stencils
gold spray paint
piece of scrap cardboard or paper
newspaper for spray painting
small hole punch or awl
6″ of twine
cutting mat or surface to cut on
1. Download and print sheets of letter outlines. Cut out desired letter(s).
2. Gently tape paper to piece of wood.
3. Cut out letter using x-acto knife, being careful to not press down too hard. Go over cuts several times until letter is released easily from wood.
4. Clean up edges carefully with x-acto and punch hole in top.
5. Lay out newspaper for spray painting (in a well-ventilated area) and use scrap paper to cover part of the letter that you don’t want painted.
6. Holding can about 6″ away, spray letter. Do multiple lights coats allowing each layer to dry to the touch (about 30 seconds) before next application.
7. After dry, thread hole with twine and tie a knot at the top.
8. Affix to present or hang on tree.
I spend a lot of time at my desk, doing work that, while fun and inspiring, doesn’t always keep my brain active, like editing photos or cleaning up and preparing files for clients. That’s when I turn to podcasts to keep me in my seat. Podcasts have become an interesting source of inspiration for me. I usually turn to visual stuff for inspiration, but since I started listening to podcasts, I am finding hearing the stories and interviews of other like-minded people to be an unexpected source of motivation and inspiration.
1. Woolful: I wanted to introduce a few of my favorites that I am listening to right now, starting with the most recently launched series called Woolful. I had the pleasure of being interviewed for episode 2, which was such a kick. I was thrilled to be a part of such a great new series. The creator of Woolful is Ashley Yousling. She is a blogger, designer and all around fiber enthusiast. Besides the podcast, she has an incredible blog that chronicles all things fiber and her adventures with building a fiber mill in Idaho. You can also follow along on her day to day adventures on Instagram.
2. After-the-Jump: this popular podcast series is run by the always amazing Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. Her career as a blogger is a constant source of inspiration to me. With this series, she not only interviews some of the most successful creatives and entrepreneurs but she also has episodes dedicated to sharing some of her experiences and tips and tricks for life and business. A couple of my favorite episodes are episode 23 and episode 34. In episode 23, she shares her top ten business lessons. For someone just starting out, her knowledge in running a successful blog and business is invaluable. Episode 34 is an interview with Rena Tom of Makeshift Society. I greatly admire Rena for everything she has accomplished. I loved hearing a bit about her experience starting then selling Rare Device, then going on to found Makeshift Society. I was living in San Francisco at the time Makeshift opened and I remember thinking what an incredible concept it was for a business. In this world of blogging and social media, the human connection is so important and having a space where you can meet others and learn a craft is genius.
3. The Splendid Table: I have been a long time listener of this series. I used to listen to hours upon hours of this show when I was a full-time designer working in an office. It was just what I needed to keep me going. Lynn Rosetto-Casper is a wonderful host who is always welcoming to her guests, whether they are top chefs, cookbook authors or even listeners calling in with questions. My tummy usually always starts grumbling after listening to an episode. A couple of my favorite episodes are “Old Vines” (I designed the cover of Cooking Slow, the book written by the guest in this episode) and “Fake Vegetables” with Jim Gaffigan.
4. Serial: I just discovered this incredible series about a young man who was convicted while in high school for a murder of a classmate. It is a fascinating journalistic story with interviews of people involved in the case to try to figure out what really happened. I haven’t finished the entire series so don’t give it away if you have listened!
5. The Lively Show: This series is hosted by Jess Lively. She interviews all sorts of different people about living a life of intention. One of my absolute favorite episodes is the interview with Jen Gotch of Ban.do. They talk about relaxation, creativity, and her winding path to starting Ban.do. For someone who has tried so many different career paths to find the right one for me, I relate so much to what Jen says about her career path.
Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites?
During my recent trip to Portland, I had the pleasure of visiting the Salt & Straw flagship shop in the Alberta Arts District. It was snowing and hailing out that day but that didn’t deter us from enjoying more than our fair share of ice cream.
I knew that the company was something special just based on the creative flavors, but I didn’t know quite how special until I had the chance to talk with the lead flavor developer, Tyler Malek. He has been with the company since the very beginning, when he and his cousin, Kim, sold their ice cream from a push cart. Salt & Straw was founded just three years ago, but is already a Portland institution. They also just opened a Los Angeles shop this last summer. It was fascinating to hear the story behind the business and I am thrilled to share another “Meet the Business” interview with you all today.
Can you tell me about yourself and your background, and a bit more about starting Salt & Straw with Kim?
I was moving back from Asia in 2010. I was getting to a point where I really wanted to be a part of a community and build something special for the community. And I felt Portland was the best place to do that. So I had my heart set on moving here and at the same time it was almost serendipitous because Kim, my cousin [and owner of Salt & Straw], also had plans to move here. We ran into each other at this really cool point in our lives where we wanted to work together, or at least I was desperate to work with her. She told about this idea she had and I begged her to help her start it. So we started making ice cream in her kitchen and selling it in a little push cart. It was special.
We started realizing this city had a lot to offer in the sense that there was a lot of people doing really cool things on their own. We wanted to use ice cream as a way to showcase local farms and we realized it was more of a way to showcase local community, because ice cream is so celebratory, welcoming and approachable. It’s also very basic. You can go in a hundred different directions with the flavors and showcase a thousand different partners or artisans. What if we could make beer ice cream? Instead of buying beer and pouring it into the ice cream, we actually went into breweries and we worked directly with the brewers. I would spend a day in the brewery learning about the flavors of the malts and the hops and the yeasts and talking about how we can recreate that in our cream. Eventually we found a name for it. We started calling it our collaboration series, but it was actually more of a necessity from the start than anything because I had no idea how to make ice cream! So it was this cool serendipitous thing that the city welcomed us in and we just went with it and had fun. We tried to build a culture where everyone can feel included.
Besides the obvious of eating lots of ice cream, what do you feel has been the most rewarding part of being a part of Salt & Straw?
We just opened our fourth shop in Los Angeles this last summer and all together we have about a 120 employees. We invest about forty hours of hospitality training into each person. That’s more than just how to scoop ice cream for forty hours. We try to bring people in and allow our company to be a jumping off point for anyone looking to get into the hospitality industry and the same in the kitchen, a jumping off point for people wanting to get creative with food. On top of that, because we have been received so well in the community, everyone in our company qualifies for health insurance. We have a really amazing PTO program. All these things are really important to taking care of each other. It seems like it has been able to grow very organically and I think that’s what I am most proud of.
What advice would you give someone looking to develop their own product or start their own business?
One thing that we really tried to focus on is not making decisions based on fear. It’s not that we are not frugal or conservative with the way we run our business, it’s more that when you know you need to hire someone for a position, bring it on and bring someone good in. Know when to take those risks.
When you are developing new flavors, where do you seek inspiration?
The evolution of the whole collaboration that I explained earlier is that basically, we started creating monthly menus. I like the idea of doing a monthly menu. It’s very set and cohesive. It makes us unique to any other ice cream company. This menu of seasonal flavors tells a story. Right now we are serving Thanksgiving flavors. The cool thing is this cohesive story of sitting down with your friends and family and sharing a meal together. You come in and wait in line and you build up this excitement and then you can taste through all of them from start to finish, the side dishes, the turkey, the stuffing, and then there’s the pumpkin pie and so it is very experiential. So we have a menu like that every month. In December, we will start telling the story of really classic holiday treats, from around the world. In February, we tell stories of different chocolatiers in the area. I think that is really special to us.
We start with the idea of what story we want to tell. It’s based on what is in season and what is salient to the food community at any given time. Cocktails, for example, are really important to Portland right now. Bartenders are just killing it. We wanted to showcase that, so last June, we partnered with five different bartenders in town to create flavors. Again it’s identifying what story we want to tell and reaching out to friends around town.
Has developing flavors for the new Los Angeles location been any different?
Honestly, the flavor development process in LA has not been very different from Portland. Local farmers in LA have been incredibly welcoming, artisans have been eager to work with us, and chefs have opened up their kitchens. It’s pretty amazing how much it feels like Portland down there in Los Angeles!
Have you experienced any significant road blocks or hurdles in developing flavors for Salt & Straw?
When we first opened three years ago, there was one flavor in particular that still rings in my head, and it was a great learning experience. It was called Berries, Beans and Barbecue Sauce and I would venture to say it was the worst ice cream I have ever had! It was a very pivotal point. We are not going out to just be weird. We really wanted to create these cohesive flavors. If we are creating something that is out of the box, why are we doing that? It’s not just to throw up a really cool alliteration on the menu.
We sort of touched on this already, but Salt & Straw has become a Portland institution so what do you think is unique about Portland that allows for such success?
In the food community in particular, it is a very dense community. We are close and looking out for each other. We are always looking for ways to give shout-outs. Everyday, I have to make sure to go to a new restaurant or I haven’t been to this one place for six months, I gotta go say “hi” and support each other. It is incredibly unique that we are all in it together.
For fun, what has been your favorite flavor to develop? Can you pick just one?
There is kinda a dark horse on our menu. Eating ice cream for fun, which every once in a while I do, I eat a lot of ice cream for work, but for fun, I always order the same thing. It’s our Sea Salt and Caramel ice cream with our hot fudge. I think our hot fudge recipe is really good. It’s kinda a secret. It’s barely even on the menu. I have shared a lot of recipes with magazines and different people, but it is the only recipe I refuse to share. It’s very special.
What is your favorite way of relaxing after work?
My girlfriend and I just moved into a house, so I have been working on that a lot. I built a table for it, out of Oregon Black Walnut. It’s beautiful. That’s a good way of using creativity in a different way.
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