The Partnership Podcast is all about falling in design together: creativity, business, and makin’ it happen. We’re especially keen on creative teams that do unusual and compelling work. Our latest episode is a conversation with West Virginia-based designers and spouses James Hersick and Laurel Webster, about their creative partnership, Hersick+Webster.

Welcome to the Partnership Podcast! My name is Keir DuBois, designer and co-founder of Tight Ship Design. My partner and co-founder in Tight Ship is designer Julia Sevin. Together we create branding and design for events and conferences.

As event brand designers we’re curious about the unique challenges of professional creativity. We like learning how other partnerships of our size approach unusual creative projects.

Our latest episode is a conversation with West Virginia-based designers and spouses James Hersick and Laurel Webster. Their creative partnership, Hersick+Webster, uses design and leadership to make positive change.

Listen in here:

Keir: We are online with James Hersick and Laurel Webster and they are Hersick+Webster, Creative Partners. Thank you both for making time for us today!

Laurel: Super glad to be here!

James: Yeah, thanks!

Keir: I think to start we’ll just jump right in. We’d like to know about how you met and formed your partnership.

James: That’s like the whole thing, right? We’ll be done after this—this will take the whole hour. We actually met in Phoenix at the [October 2011] AIGA conference.

Laurel: Pivot.

James: Yeah, pivoting. I was doing the Design for Good stuff. I was on the committee at the time and we had the pop-up museum for Design Week there and some of the projects I’ve been working on, were in that.

Laurel: I was there because I was taking a group from Cal State Fullerton, getting them exposed to more of the design world as well as exposing myself to some bigger networks. And lo and behold, same place, two people…

James: Yeah, I think we started talking on the last day of the conference and didn’t stop talking until I had to go get on an airplane. We just kind of stayed connected over the next couple of months and then around May we decided to start dating from 2,400 miles away.

Laurel: Airlines are expensive dates.

James: So we did that for almost a year. I think you officially moved out here in March and then we kind of worked together but separately on some stuff just to kind of see if we were gonna like it. I mean I’ve been running my own studio since 2003 and so that was—we were gonna see if it worked, until we decided to go full in and did, and here we are.

Laurel: Move cross-country, move in with boyfriend, start working together.

Julia: Did you like levels of confidence about how things would work out romantically and creatively as partners, or did you feel like one was more likely to succeed than the other?

Laurel: We went into it—initially before I even made the move, I had started looking to get out of  California anyway, which was just, I suppose, serendipitous that we met because it made that more of a direction towards where I wanted to look, like in the Baltimore/D.C. area. So I was looking at jobs out here, having the interviews, and we were also talking simultaneously about, “okay, well what does this look like if we work together too, cause I like what you do, you like what I do, this kind of seems like a natural thing—but like what if it ruins everything?” And um, we went into it with the mode of, “okay, well you know what, we can try it out and if it doesn’t work, we know that you can go get a job.” Because I had plenty of interviews to go around with it. So we wanted to place our relationship, our personal relationship above, prioritize that above our working relationship. And aside from a few rough Spotify playlists and Pandora stations here and there…

James: Yeah, it’s been good!

Julia: Y’all don’t agree on music?

Laurel: Only occasionally, only occasionally.

Julia: Do you work together in the same room at the same time? And what music do you play or do you both have headphones on?

Laurel: A combination of both. A day like today, which is pretty normal, were in the same room working together. But tomorrow for instance, he’s going to be going into meet with a client at a coworking space along with a couple of other appointments and errands. So he’s going to be working out offsite, but I’ll be here.

James: So you’ll listen to Katy Perry instead of jazz tomorrow and it’ll be fine.

Laurel: [laughs] Guilty.

Keir: So is that like a loose way of how you guys would divide up the roles and duties of how you run the business together, or how does that shake out?

Laurel: I think in some ways, initially because Jamey was the, the head if you will, of the partnership originally, he was definitely taking more of the lead on that. But then over the last, what, four years, I think once we became the true Hersick and Webster partnership, we’ve explored just kind of organically what that looks like, particularly like this last year, for instance, he was leading this big Gulf state park project, which required travel and his really full investment, energetically speaking, from research and copywriting to all the other nooks and crannies of that. So then I took up the breadth of the rest of our client work, as well as some more of these administrative running a business side of things. But we bounced back and forth on that and since that job has been completed, I would say it’s probably more of an ebb and flow of it. Like some weeks I’m doing the billing and he’s doing the bills and then other times he’s handling all of it or whatever it is.

James: I think we’re both sort of like we need to be able to do multiple things to stay charged up. So when we start to burn out on one thing, the other one picks up at the time for a little bit. And we found on, like a lot of projects, there are definitely some things where we just sit down and crank them out and say, what do you think about this? But then we found like a lot of the stuff when we’re doing something that’s really, really awesome, generally it’s because like we have no clue who did which part of it. Like, you know, one of us will come in and mess around with it for an hour or so and then someone will come in and pick it up and it’s like, I don’t know where it—how it got where it got to, but we got there because we were just bouncing it back and forth.

Laurel: And that’s where the really badass stuff comes out, too. This last week we were working on a new logo project for a new client, and doing the initial bringing our first drafts of logos that we wanted to present to her. It was some of his sketches, some of my sketches and some hybrids of those two brought together, along with some hybrids of the typography explorations that I was doing, and by the time I was completely brain dead and mushy on that, you jumped in and finished off that. I think by the time I was putting together the final presentation to send off, it was a fairly healthy division of the awesomeness that came together.

Keir: You had mentioned that you were both excited about each other’s work, and that’s something that we’ve observed too—that like I get way more excited about brilliant stuff that Julia will bring in. If I’m sitting there stagnating with a project it’s so helpful to have somebody else come in with fresh eyes and experience and opinions to say “No no, you’re doing fine. Have you considered trying this or this or this?” And we’ve done that for each other umpteen bazillion times since we started our partnership. It seems like it’s the healthiest way to create together.

Laurel: Kind of like, um, you may get up and go take a walk or go work on a different project and the other person has their eyes on it and will be like, “Ooh, what about this?” And that’s exactly what happens when either he has me review something for him or vice versa.

Julia: I guess as an individual designer and you can sort of trick yourself into thinking you have a fresh brain, but there’s nothing like having an actual fresh brain right next to you.

Laurel: Exactly.

Julia: You said that you both do a lot of different jobs within the business. Do you find that satisfies something for you that working at an agency doesn’t? Even though it means less creative work, you don’t mind the additional work of running a small business?

James: I had, early on, had gotten a little taste of agency life. When I was like 25 I got put in charge of a department where I had 15 employees and I wasn’t designing anything at all. So I moved to, I actually ended up moving to a smaller agency in Bethesda, Maryland, which I ended up owning in 2003 so I’m basically, I’ve had the same job since 1998. So that scale, I like the scale and you know, running a small business is challenging, but you can make it as streamlined as possible. So we have, it has been nice to have been able to like divide and conquer as far as like, “hey you handle the quick books, and I’ll handle this bit of it.” But you know, the very first thing I did was hire an accountant—I don’t deal with that crap. I mean, I make sure that the numbers are in there and then they handle the rest of it.

But because of the type of work we do, we do a lot of work with nonprofits and we do a lot of work with big companies too. And I always wanted to have a small overhead so that we had the ability to scale up or scale down to be able to match that. Because we had, I had the experience of working with these larger national, international clients, but I also love to be able to help the farmers market down the street, right? And so they’re, they might not have the budget, but because I don’t have a huge overhead I could still take that work on because it satisfies me. And so we’ve had it—our business isn’t that complicated, I guess if you were looking at the business model, it’s pretty straightforward. So it’s not really that complicated and having the ability to say, “Hey, can you handle that this week?” Or most of the time she does the billing and I handle keeping the things balanced on this end. That’s how we divide and conquer it. And she needs me to pick up, I pick up and do it.

Laurel: But we’re always talking about what’s going on too. I think the blessing and the curse of being work partners and life partners is making sure we have a division of church and state, if you will, like close the door and be done when you need to be done, and try not to talk about work over dinner. Easier said than done some, some meals. But I mean usually like even like this morning, like we were checking in with each other like, okay, well where are things with this? And we do have once a week production meeting, like just going over where everything’s at alongside our project management software that we use.

James: Yeah. But for the most part, for me, I always found the idea of designing the business was just another project, right? It was like, okay, I have to do this. I, you know, no one taught me how to be a business person, but I help businesses be successful in their business all the time. So I need to figure this out. And it was basically like, “all right, well how would I do this if I was going to do that? That didn’t work. Let me try this. That didn’t work.” So I mean, over the course of the last 20 years, you know, I figured things out and that can be good or bad. And that’s why having Laurel come along in the last few years has been nice because it’s like, “Hey, I know you’ve been doing this for 20 years, but what if we did this?”

Julia: What does your process typically look like? I mean like a typical job coming in. I’m curious what programs you use to manage things and how you use them with each other, like how you’re communicating with each other? Especially because Keir and I have, you know, very different challenges than you do and we’ve—similar to you, we’ve had a real fun time actually coming up with and designing how the whole business operates, because we got to do it just for ourselves rather than cramming ourselves into some, you know, agency workflow box we despised, and had to communicate with 80 people when we really only need to talk to one. So we’ve had fun coming up with that. I’m kind of curious what it looks like for you guys, like point by point.

Laurel: I guess from a process standpoint, I’ll let you cover that because I mean I geek on that, but I also geek about the workflow from all the different software that we integrate. So it’s a hybrid—we haven’t figured out the perfect solution for it yet and it’s still, it’s been a constant evolution, but it’s maybe been a slower evolution over the last three or four years. We use a combination of Google Drive for tracking, alongside Quickbooks for our essential billing and invoicing. And then we also use Teamwork, which we’ve been using I think for three or four years now, too? Especially this last probably year and a half, two years, they added in some new features for that that really make time tracking pretty amazing, as well as how that’s applied to the specific tasks for each various projects. And you can template that too. So when you have a new logo project come in you can essentially grab that template and ploop there’s all your tasks for it, and you don’t have to keep recreating the wheel from that.

Alongside that, this last year we integrated a new proposal/contracting tool called Nusii. So it is a digital version of all of our proposals, so once we have either that initial RFP sent out or the initial conversation with the client and we formalize what that proposal is, it sends out a link that we can either send through the system that Nusii has, or we send them the link that Nusii creates from that. And it gives them essentially the entire brief there. And they can click and select either which package they want—depending on what type of project that is—any options that they want from that. And it confirms the price that they’re paying for that and it tells us it’s approved or if they have revisions or edits to that. And it’s been pretty awesome to see. Our clients have really appreciated that too.

James: Yeah so I think she, Laurel was talking about the nuts and bolts of the day in and day out processes and then some of the processes that I put in place early on were like, um, my first business model was to spend as much time with my kids as possible and not starve to death. And so I always like kept track of where we are, where we were in terms of like how much revenue, how much projects we had in, how much we had prospected and how much we still needed. And then like there’s always a party on the day of the year you go “Woo, we finally hit it!” We track that stuff, we’ve tracked that ever since I’ve been doing this on my own, for a big picture thing and then we take all these little daily processes and look at that on a weekly level so we can kind of see, and then measure through the quarter and go all right, we need to buckle down and go find some work this month or do this, that or the other thing.

But it’s basic stuff. You know, it’s a Google spreadsheet and then we have the tools. But you know, with everything that’s coming out like a little bit in Slack, and even Teamwork has recently added a feature where you can have like, chat in there, it’s almost like sometimes it’s a little bit overkill. Like we have all these different things. It’s like you’re using a tool just to use the tools. I think it’s just about finding that workflow that works for you, because honestly she’s most of the time sitting six feet away from me. I can go “Hey! So that logo we’re working on, did you find out where we need to send an email?” Or you know, whatever. But there are definitely times where we’re like, we need that in writing, so let’s put it someplace.

Laurel: Did you want to touch on like from the client side to what that process looks like as well? We’re talking like one designer to another geektastically kind of sense. Did you want to tell—

Julia: No, that’s what I was most interested in.

Laurel: Oh, well then there you go!

Julia: Right. Definitely answered my question!

Keir: That Alabama Gulf Shores project, I loved seeing how that progressed. It was so much fun. It seems like a monster project to manage from a home studio.

James: It was…insane, yeah. I think my number one super secret power as a designer is I’m super naive and I just think, oh cool, I need to do this right? Like I can do that. Sure. It’s never not worked out. But I researched it, I planned it, I organized it, I project-managed it, I wrote it, I conceptualized it, I designed it, I laid it out and I even helped install some of the signs. So it was insane. And like they just joked about like, “we’ve never seen that before!” But now I know the entire process, right? Like I know no one will ever be able to tell me that it can’t be done because I know that it can. And that’s always been the way I think I’m operating a little bit

Laurel: No, he had no idea.

James: No idea what we were getting ourselves into. Right? Like we knew it—we knew what we needed to do, but we had no idea what that meant, right? And so I just kept saying “oh, sure, yeah, let’s do that!” And then like it just, you know, you were learning along the way, and I’m always of the mind like that design is design, right? It doesn’t matter what it is, the process is the process. If I use the process, I’ll figure out what I need to figure out to do it. But it was just an unbelievable amount of time and learning. And so I mean, I think early on some of the friction was her feeling like she had the authority to step in and lead, because it had been my business for so long. And me trying to encourage her to do that. Finding the balance of that with this project, because it just basically it was like, “okay, this is what I’m going to work on.”

Laurel: Yeah. And I don’t think we knew that essentially going into it, that’s what it was gonna to turn into because initially we were both working on that project. It just started off as doing the website, it just started as doing like their digital presence. And then the project manager was like, “Hey, your Instagram page, can you like write signs that look like that and sound like that?” and 200 plus signs later…

Julia: Oh my gosh.

Keir: Wow. Wow.

James: So it was crazy. Like I remember after we like said, “sure we can do that,” and there was just a big pile of sand, right? And I’m like, “there’s going to be a building there. We need to brainstorm what some of the exhibits might be. And there’s going to be 28 miles of trails over there.”

Laurel: We’d be riding around on the trails going, “hey, this is going to be out that way. What do you want to put here?”

James: And so really it was like sort of figuring out everything—from, you know, 15,000 years of history ecologically and culturally, and how to put that into a compelling story. And oh by the way, let’s not do it the way interpretive’s been done before! It turned into sort of like, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if park was having a conversation with you no matter where you were at?” And so the signs everywhere became this sort of thing. So this is a unified voice and unfortunately the unified voice is mine, for better or for worse.

And then just because of the timing of how the project was funded, because it was the government and the state and I’m just a lot of reasons and the deadlines, the deadlines and the hurry up and wait nature of it. There were weeks of frantic 12 hour days followed by like a month where you can catch your breath and then I could go, “oh, what if you made that red?” It would be like months of me like just being able to check in or if there was like something like, “Hey, I really need your opinion on this.” I was able to be like, “cool, let’s do that.”

Laurel: All the while he’s like reading about the state and all of the ecological history of it for his nighttime reading as well. Like if he wasn’t doing it he was reading about it and finding out about it. He could tell you more about the fauna and everything else down there than probably here in West Virginia at this point.

James: Yeah. But that project really helped us. It helped her take ownership of the business in a more real way because she had no choice, right? And it just helped me learn how to be more of a creative director where I could be like, “Cool, I think this is where this project needs to go.” Because we had other big projects happen in the time where I could catch my breath, I’d be able to jump in and help out. But for the most part it was really like me coming in and—

Laurel: I’d put you in more of a guiding role versus a leading role, which was something that we had started with when I first moved down here, and when we first started working together, it was more of a slow evolution of that. And even though, you know my last name got put on it and we’re 50/50 partners on it, that still kind of continued a little bit I think for me, just out of an uncertain-ness on my part. So really, I don’t mean “forced” in a bad way, but definitely forced a, “Hey, you know, here’s where everything’s at. Let’s do good shit.” So there we went.

Julia: It’s so rewarding to get to work on a project like that from the very beginning, where you’re actually researching and conceptualizing it on the ground with them. Did you get to have projects like that very often? How do you push for or assert the value of the designer being present in the room as early as possible?

James: The good news on that project is the people in charge of that project were designers themselves, right? Architects, they knew all along that design had to be part of it. That it was really going to be the thing. And so even like they—Design with a capital D too, right?—so stakeholder meetings, charrettes workshops, really a lot of in-depth master planning that happened a year before I even got involved in the project. But we do have things on other scales.

Laurel: I was gonna say, to that point, like the project with a big cybertech government contractor we picked up just after you kind of felt like the snowball effect with Gulf State Park. They’ve continued to be a fantastic client for us, but it started as a rebrand project and it turned into not only a rebrand of their logo, but to a full cultural shift that they were taking from the inside out for both of their locations. And then some, like it’s still continuing to evolve from that, as well as including a new building that we got to help provide what the branding of that space looks like too, along with JLL.

But I think the big thing is, I think to your point, having that Design with a capital D, having that understanding of the value and the worth of design at the table and when we went in and presented or “interviewed,” uh, with their senior leadership as, I think the thing that really won them over with us was the cultural understanding about like, why we’re in business as well as why they’re in business. It’s not just to, you know, make tech stuff to help firms do well and secure their stuff. Essentially it’s to save the world, you know, in the grandiose scheme of it all. Like that’s essentially what they do.

You can’t necessarily say that, you know, “James and Laurel save the world through design,” but we played a role in helping that company create that passion and excitement for their employees and to continue to get those same type of people that do want to save the world.

James: Who really do save the world on a daily basis. They won’t tell us what they do cause it’s terrible.

Laurel: But I’m good not knowing.

James: That project was like literally the culmination of everything I had learned, times a hundred, but it really was incredibly satisfying to be able to be there from like every piece of the puzzle. And it’s a very, very tangible, tangible thing that you can go see, and that thousands of people that are going to see every year and play with. You know, I hope that there’s more projects like that, but something on that scale where someone says, “hey, we got a 6,000 acre state park and we’d like you to design the entire interpretive experience for it.”

Laurel: Like even to that point too, like that scale, but also the, the specific touch they were going about with it—from it being a living building challenge or being underneath that umbrella of that, and trying to be environmentally friendly to be sustainable in all the practices and their approach to how they built it. That added an extra layer of frosting and a cherry and sprinkles on top of it.

James: Yeah, it’s definitely one of those pinch-worthy things. And so like when you were saying like, “how in the world did you maintain the energy?: It was like, you just had to, like, I just kind of felt the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of people if you get it right.

Keir: Your studio in its current incarnation, I understand, is only a relatively recent thing. Is that something that you guys can talk about?

James: It does feel like it’s been a constant evolution.

Laurel: “Incarnation” is a good way of—

James: Yeah, it’s a good word for it. I mean—

Laurel: Even the post-it notes up on the wall behind us is part of that too, right? Like I think a thing that we’re constantly telling ourselves is, you know, we’re our number one client, we will not succeed or do well if we’re not continuing to work on ourselves.

Keir: I asked because I know that you guys have gone from home to an office space and then home again. What was behind that decision?

James: Again, I think it goes to that sort of freedom.

Laurel: Definitely a choice factor.

James: Yeah, it’s a choice. Yeah. I mean we have coworking spaces available that we do hang out in, and work when we need a break in different phases of our lives too. Right? So we, we took on this rescue, like speaking of dogs, she’s around here somewhere. She just got bored of us not paying attention to her. So she left the interview. Um, we’re potentially bringing her home and she had a, had a pretty traumatic first year of life and would need people around. We have the ability to have that freedom. I have two sons from a previous marriage at a pretty cool age, um, and they’re going to be moving on and doing different things in their lives. And we have a couple other business opportunities that we’re looking at.

And so we really felt like it was the time to sort of to get back to home base and just sort of like feel out the opportunities as they were coming in and being in a position where we could act on the thing that speaks to us. You know, we have a couple opportunities with some potential partners that might be pretty cool from a um, from a space—us using our designed to help even more folks in the next incarnation. But like being able to be home and have that flexibility, especially with Laurel now being a yoga teacher and just like we just, we have all the things going on and the office space we had just, it wasn’t necessary. I mean it wasn’t a hindrance or—

Laurel: But I mean even like to like when we first got it, we were going into it with this idea of growth of “okay, you know, we’re going to hire a person or two and see how that goes.” That was right when we first got it about two and a half years ago, and we had a person with us who ended up being full time for about I think a good half year as well. As much as it was great having someone else to, to throw into the mix, especially as we were just in that, the beginning of the snowball effect of the park project, it was also a matter of not necessarily an onboarding or ensuring like, she’s taking care of this or that person’s doing this and so forth and so on—but really a quality control issue and really wanting to make sure um, making sure it really was representory of Hersick and Webster and staying true to what we were doing. Let alone with our clients too, making sure they had that personal “know who they’re talking to.”

And with throwing someone regular into the mix like that, I was experiencing a little bit of a disconnect where I wasn’t necessarily the one talking with the client or handing off the projects. I was trying actively to hand that type of work off so that I can do the other things that are required of being a business owner and the creative person at the seat too. But when we made the decision to re-downsize from there, it was because we wanted to make sure that we were keeping that personal, truly one on one connection with our clients that they have voiced over and over again that that’s something that they value. And it’s something that we’ve voiced that we value is one of our core values of who Hersick and Webster is. But it also really made sure that the quality of our work stayed true to that too, without any extra steps or checking. Because at the end of the day that also became a little bit of a time suck. As much as it was wonderful and that work was getting done quicker, there’s still that necessary at the end, do the review to make sure.

James: Yeah. I think the broader point there is this sort of idea of being really intentional.

Laurel: Yeah, that’s exactly it.

James: And, um, so when we were reviewing where we, when we were closing out towards the end of last year and just sort of looking at everything, did this space serve us? It didn’t really match our personalities. You know, it was fine, it was someplace to go. But I’m sure we’ll go through another iteration where we’ll have another space. I’ve had spaces and not had spaces. I just—it’s whatever fits the need at the time.

Laurel: And ultimately that freedom of choice, the freedom to be able to be sitting from home right now with you guys or the freedom to be in a coworking spot or Starbucks for that matter. for Hersick and Webster Office 2.0.

Keir: What advice would you two give people who are thinking about starting a creative partnership, or any partnership? What makes for a good collaboration?

Laurel: Communication. And really I think the structure of that communication. Or by structure rather, I mean like making sure you know what needs to be communicated. So communicated communication!

James: For me, like this is cliché, but I really believe that business partnerships are the exact same thing as a marriage. You’ve got to know who you’re committing to spending the rest of your life with. Shared character and shared values Are huge, huuuuge. And not just communication, but how you communicate, right? Like you might communicate well, but you might communicate unprofessionally, and that’s not gonna be cool for business. When it comes to business partnerships, you gotta be, you gotta be super intentional. Take your time. Even if someone’s your best friend.

Laurel: I think even more if someone’s your best friend!

James: Especially so! I’ve known—I’ve had really good friends that were designers and then we’ve collaborated on a couple projects together or I hired them as contractors on other projects and it just, you know, I was like, eh. I’m very particular about the work we do. You know, even, you know, people that are my best friends did okay work and it looked fine, but it wasn’t right. And I’d have to redo it or you know, we’d start an idea of going into business together and we’d do a couple of projects together and then you know before we sign the paper, you know like, “hey, maybe we should just go out and get beers and not be in business together. So I think it’s just take your time, just do your homework—because it’s really, really hard to get out of contracts once they’re signed

Laurel: Yeah, and to that point too, I think the power of having either a lawyer or a mediator to help you review that type of stuff. From the experience of working on bringing together five people under one business, I’m currently like, we’ve been going through that and having conversations with topics that our lawyer put together for us to consider for our partnership, our operating agreement that you know, some of them are questions that we have. Some of them are ones that we didn’t even have on our radar that were really crucial for us to discuss.

Keir: I assume you’re talking about Path to Impact.

Laurel: This is about Path to Impact/“To be determined in the future” that I can tell you about on another podcast or another call!

Keir: What extracurricular stuff that you’ve been able to bring back to Hersick and Webster or that keeps you inspired outside of work has meant a lot to you recently?

Laurel: I know for me cause it’s, it’s just been a big long-term project, that’s been my yoga teacher training—which yoga doesn’t necessarily fit right into design, but there is a design aspect to yoga and that’s there just as much as there is in music. And so with that from not only the practicing yoga but then also into the teaching side and having taught piano in a past life as well as a design at the local college nearby too. There’s similar threads across all of these strains. And to be able to teach yoga students the power of what yoga can offer, not only physically but all the other avenues that it touches has been really awesome.

But then Hersick and Webster also, you know, as a studio we love working in representing a health and wellness brands and companies. It’s a big part of who we are as individuals personally, hence the yoga and you know, all the various physical activities that Jamey and I take on. But from the yoga side, I’ve also collaborated now with a friend on a retreat that we’re doing next weekend—that’s coming up fast! We’re doing a yoga retreat specifically for women where we’re incorporating yoga and meditation from my side. And then my friend who’s a social worker is introducing workshop sessions, the Brené Brown Daring Way method. So it’s a culmination of wellness not only from the physical and mental side of things, but also from the emotional and spiritual truly full well-being.

Keir: And you approached that as a design problem, right? The same way you would approach your business as a design problem or—

Laurel: Oh yeah, that’s been what’s been really fun and it’s been super cool, especially on that point. It’s funny because this crosses over from the partnership conversation or question that you just asked a minute ago. Colleen, my co-facilitator and co-creator for this, um, has been a good friend four, going on five years now, and we really had some honest conversations of, okay, well how’s this going to take place? And you know, we’re both really super excited and super passionate about what we’re both into right now, what we’re bringing to the table. But what does this look like from a an event/business that we’re going to put into place.

James: Then you add on top of that before she was her running buddy, or friend, she was a client. We helped her name or business and go through the whole process of trying to figure it out and do that. And they realized they had a lot in common and became running buddies and now they’re, for to five years later doing this women’s retreat. I just drink. Just drink wine.

Keir: That’s Wine Like an American right?

James: Yes!

Julia: But if you blog about it, it validates it!

James: But I blog about it and my accountant says I can write that stuff off! So because my dad always loved history, so he inspired that in me, and I must’ve had a really awesome history teacher. Which is probably why I geek over the Gulf state park, it’s why I love branding because it’s storytelling, right? It’s really about like, trying to humanize—because business is a transaction. It’s a transaction between people. I think there’s something about wine that brings all that together, like besides the fact that it’s delicious and other things. It’s great for storytelling. I’m just into it, and it ties back into a lot of the other stuff that I’m into, like—I’m not necessarily into agriculture—but I love local food and wine is local, and we run a farmer’s market out of our design studio. This is crazy!

Keir: Thank you both very much for your time and I really enjoyed this.

Julia: This is gonna be a good episode! Y’all are terrific.

James and Laurel: Thank you!

Keir: Yes, thank you very much!

That’s all for this episode of the Partnership Podcast. My name is Keir DuBois. My partner Julia Sevin and I will return with another episode soon! Until then, follow our work at or on social media at tightshipdesign. Thanks for listening!