Category: Uncategorized

Tomorrow’s Designer Today

Our new intern, Patrick, working in the New Ground Office.

Hey hey! We got a minion! INTERN… we mean intern.

His name is Patrick and he is a student at Keene State. He answers to Patrick, Pat, or Sir Intern McMakesart. Imagine being a young lad in design school and you land an internship with the motley crew of New Ground Creative. He is #grateful to say the least. I mean, what’s not to love? First off, his supervisor is the Queen of Darkness, Protector of Kitty Cats. Falyn now spends much of her time perched in her office chair, tenting her fingers and quietly laughing to herself. When asked about our new intern she said, “I’m super enthusiastic about having a positive influence on a student in my field.” Side note: did you know Falyn can raise just one eyebrow like a Bond villain? Cool trick, huh?

We were really impressed with Patrick’s portfolio when he interviewed with us. His ability to take an idea and create alternate variations of it is mind boggling. He kind of hit the ground running with us, but we took some time to ask him some questions in hopes of getting to know the real Patrick. Here is what we learned.

How did your path lead you to studying design?

I have always loved drawing and illustration since I was a child and knew I wanted to continue making art in the future. When I was in high school I took my first graphic design class and loved it. I continued on to designing in college, always trying to push myself to try my hardest, and always looking for a challenge.

What do you dig most about design work?

I really like the variety of work that design creates. I love looking for inspiration and finding countless solutions to the same design problem. Most of all I love that design builds upon itself and inspiration I gather from one area of design can be translated into others pieces that I create.

What would be your dream job?

My dream job would be a small company that values its employees as much as its customers. I’d be involved in a variety of different projects and I’d be able to get off the computer frequently to create hands on art and design as much as on screen design.

Now the important questions:

What’s your spirit wind?

I’m definitely a gentle breeze. I’m calm and quiet and I’ll never be the loudest in the room.
*Check back in a few months after his internship with New Ground—he may be a strong gust by then.

How do you understand the ocean?

The ocean is another entire planet right here on earth. We know so little about its true depth and the scope of animals that call it home, and unfortunately, we don’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

Word… word. That was the most real answer to what was intended to be a ridiculous question. Well, seems like Patrick is right on course to change the world. He is full of positivity, hope, and motivation to make the most of each day. He brings an awesome energy to our office and we are stoked to have him here as a part of our team. Best case scenario: We all learn from each other and end up more skilled and knowledgeable than before our encounter. Worst case scenario: He starts to swear like a pirate and is the loudest voice in the room…. But would that really be so bad?

We are down for it all. Here is to learning together. Welcome, Patrick.

Strollin’ Down Memory Lane: Holiday Edition

What a perfect time of year to share childhood memories!

(Or has Biz just been looking for an excuse to request baby pics of all of us?)

carrie-holiday-memories-photosCarrie “Bright Spirit” Simmons

The holidays was, and still is, an exciting time for us as a family of five raised by a single
mom. My sister, Jenny and I shared a room and would get our own mini Christmas tree. We would read under the lights at night and exchange our own Christmas gifts on Christmas eve. Our house didn’t have a fireplace so we made one out of cardboard and put our socks there for Santa. I remember playing with all the ornaments on the tree and making up stories for each them. On Christmas day we would watch each other open gifts and be so excited about what we gave each other just as much as opening our own gifts. My favorite foods would (and still are) chex mix and magic cookie bars. My grandparents would come over later that day and we open more gifts and then all watch old time movies like Laurel and Hardy that grandpa would set up on his old film projector. Grandpa would also play piano which he would only do once a year during the holiday. He could play by ear—it was amazing.


 Falyn “Princess Power” Arakelian

Christmas when I was a kid was so magical. My grandmother was still alive, my uncle would always make my toys do inappropriate things (which I didn’t understand at the time), and my cousin would play with us for hours on end. The fire would be going, food would be cooking and the carols would be playing. One year, after we decorated the tree, my brother and I grabbed a blanket and laid on the floor. My mom shut all but the tree lights off. She popped in Johnny Mathis Christmas carols and left the room. My brother and I, with our chins in our hands, just laid there for what seemed to be hours, staring at the tree with complete content smiles, side by side, as a gentle snow fell outside the windows. It was one of the first moments I can recall recognizing the feeling of gratitude.


Joe “Look At That Grin” Heslin

I’m not much of a holidays kinda guy. Not on the naughty list or anything, just feel like I’ve “lost that elven feeeeelin’.” Heidi (my wife), on the other hand, is a huge fan and loves the music, the tree, the wrapping, the traditions, …the story of tinsel hanging out of her cat’s butt, all of it. When we had just moved to Brattleboro, Hana was only 9 months old and we were facing our first Vermont Christmas. A 9-month old isn’t terribly conducive to sprucing up the place or motivation in general and, having just moved from Japan—where Christmas is a night to go out on a date, eat KFC (not a joke) and cake—we were a little light on decorations. I could tell that Heidi was feeling worn (kid and all) and not too festive. So, I went out to Walmart (yes, I apologize for being an evil consumer) and bought a crappy little tree, some lights, and some cheap ornaments. I hid them and then woke up in the middle of the night and put them up for Heidi to wake up to. In putting them up, and subsequently seeing her face, I kind of fell in love with Christmas just a little bit.


Biz “Always Accessorizing” Hallett

I remember how the tree looked when I snuck out of my room early in the morning—after Santa came but before I insisted that my parents wake up. I would just sit in front of the tree and look at the lights glowing from within the branches, making silhouettes of our ornaments and casting shadows onto the colorfully wrapped presents below. For a moment, I didn’t even care what was in the boxes—the image was just so breathtaking. It was magic. From a marketing perspective, my Mom nailed the branding of Christmas in my home. She lived and breathed Christmas from the decorated sugar cookies to the trimmed tree to the festive music playing, it seemed, 24/7 which all culminated into that moment of magic on Christmas morning.

Telling stories is a big part of what we do so we hope you enjoyed these little tidbits. May you be inspired to reflect on your magical holiday moments in such a way that motivates you to make even more magic whenever possible!

See you in 2017!

Holidays 2016: Be Well and Be Merry


It’s December! Yep. Technically December is one of the longest months with 31 days, but every year it’s like “Wow. It’s December! (blink) Happy New Year!” Maybe the holidays have a way of accelerating time. It can feel like the high speed chase at the end of an action movie—accelerating through gatherings, gift giving, and precious moments with family and friends and then you pull the emergency break and drift into the New Year. Am I right? Whether it’s the holidays or any other reason, it’s stressful. Your brain is keeping track of so much and we all need occasional breaks in order to maintain our health and productivity.

So what a perfect time of year to share New Ground Creative’s Thoughts on How to Give your Noggin some Chill Time. Here are some ways we pause, mix it up, and chillax.

Carrie is wicked zen. She meditates and does yoga because she knows mindfulness is what’s up when it comes to keeping your cool through stressful times. You may also see her pop into a local gallery during her work day as a way of sparking inspiration. Changing up her environment also helps her recharge for the rest of the day.

Carrie and Falyn are not only co-workers, they are super good friends (I know, too stinkin’ cute). They both have a touch of Snow White in them. Carrie likes to sing or go for walks in the woods to decompress and Falyn likes to play with her animal friends. We hope that someday you get to hear the sound that Falyn makes when she sees a cat or dog. She also likes to prepare a new recipe to ensure she is nourished and from time to time a quick nap does just the trick to hit the reset button.

Falyn and Biz share a love of 90s R&B and hip-hop, they can both be found, earbuds in, be-bopping at their desks. When Biz needs to give her brain a break, she tries to connect more intentionally with her body by walking or stretching. Particularly stressful days may very well require a fierce model walk. She also relies on good old fashioned breathing to get centered. She finds that taking 3 deep breaths while smiling can turn her whole day around.

And then there’s Joe. When it comes to finding ways of handling stress and overwhelm, Joe believes that not listening to Morrissey or watching Requiem for a Dream is a super good start. Drinking alone, say, or crying yourself to sleep while mumbling “Four years? Four friggin’ years?” can also be attractive—yet unideal—ways to find that happy, stress-free place.

(I’m gonna go check in on Joe. While I’m away…) take a moment to try one of these (un)strategies and we wish you well on your holiday journey. We can’t control every little thing that will happen, but we can be aware of our response to it all. By making solid efforts to take care of ourselves we will be strong in the face of it all.

Be well and be merry, y’all!

Photo by Kelly Fletcher

Moving Forward with Integrity

Photo by Alina Semenovich

When I spoke with Evan Morse, a millennial living and working in Brattleboro, he shared with me that he has a bad taste for money and the pursuit of wealth. My conversations with local millennials are starting to inform a sense that this generation gravitates towards brands and businesses that prioritize the well-being of their employees, leaning towards smaller businesses producing a consistent product.

“I really don’t like the mistreatment of lower-level employees. The concept of administration dumping all the crap work onto lower paid employees is unethical. If a business structure has someone at the top getting paid more—they should still be elbow deep in everything.”

My conversation with Evan got me thinking about integrity. It’s a tricky little word—a value more than an idea. Have you ever had someone tell you to “Just be yourself?” The “just” implies that it is an easy task. I don’t know about you but it’s not always easy for me. I have my moments when I slay, but it takes werk. That’s not a typo—werk is way more intense than work. My thought is that the challenge in it involves maintaining integrity. How can we have a sense of self so deeply rooted that it resonates across all our words, actions, and interactions? And can that presence pass the test of time?

Falyn defines personal integrity as: “Making sure that the decisions you make, the way you act in the world, the things and people you choose to engage with are all aligned with your beliefs. A way of operating within your life, where your head, heart and gut are in alignment.”

We aim to hold ourselves responsible to maintain this sense of self within the freedom to choose our own values and beliefs, knowing they may be, and likely will be, challenged in the world. Businesses are asked to do the same thing but within the context of an organization made up of many people with many beliefs working to serve an, often, even larger audience with their own respective beliefs.

It is a challenge, for sure, to find balance and even harder to be consistent in this effort. An enterprise’s success can hinge on its level of business integrity. Joe puts it plainly: “At this point, the ability to effectively call out any organization is ubiquitous and immediate. Business integrity used to be a choice, now it’s a requirement. People will make you pay for your s#@%.” The world is watching and their expectations are high—not only pertaining to the goods or services you sell but YOU. Who you are fundamentally and what you believe about the world and the people in it now serves as a strong sway for the newest crop of consumers.

As a part of our process, we want to understand what integrity means to you and your business or organization. One of Carrie’s missions in her leadership at New Ground Creative is to “create brands that truly reflect your business and personality. This brings you freedom and energy. Integrity plays a huge part in retaining loyalty and if your marketing is driven by honesty and sincerity it will create mutual value for your audience.” We are here for you and we invite you to propel your business forward through introspection. This process takes time. Like boiling sap into maple syrup—patience and a commitment to the process results in something valuable and sweet.

Photo by Alina Semenovich.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

I was born in 1983. One of my earliest memories is my Dad standing next to the TV changing the channel by pressing a button repeatedly until he found Night Court. In middle school I remember my mom buying our first CD player along with my first cd—Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check) by Busta Rhymes. In high school, I wrote papers and chatted on AOL using my bright orange iMAC desktop computer. I passed notes to make plans for the weekend. I talked with friends on the phone in the privacy of our bathroom by stretching the phone cord so far that once I pulled the whole phone off the wall. I believe my Dad had a Zach Morris flip phone for work when I was growing up but I didn’t have a cell phone until 2003—I was 20 years old. In the 13 years since then I have witnessed the concept of “technology” and “communication” change drastically.

Hi, my name is Biz and I am a millennial. I am “old” when it comes to being identified as a millennial—those born in the 90s were immersed in the rounding of the technological corner much earlier and thus I continually ask 20 somethings about the functions of my smart phone. But I digress…


Relics from a millennial’s childhood.

There is a lot of talk about millennials right now. Upon “googling” (today’s most instantaneous way to learn about something) millennials, I discovered opinions that state we are lazy and vague, marketing agencies are desperately trying to understand us, and we have single handedly “killed” everything from the movie industry to napkins, relationships to democracy as a whole. Now I’m not here to give you a bunch of boring statistics and I am certainly not going to generalize the defining characteristics and qualities of someone born between 1980 and 2000. As if! There are 80 million of us right now—there is no nutshell, not even a genetically modified one, we fit into.

In the several conversations I have had with millennials during the past two weeks one thing stands out. We are nostalgic. We are the final generation to value a photo that doesn’t exist in the gallery on our phones or Facebook—the photo that is slightly tattered because we have carried it with us through 4 moves. The rapid technological development during our formative years has left us feeling like our childhood was longer ago than it really was. We long for simpler times while also taking advantage of what technology provides. Want to make a millennial’s day? Hand them a handwritten note folded up like a football or play an episode of Friends. A sense of calm will wash over the recipient as they recall a time when “adult” was not a verb—adults were our parents and teachers.

And yet here we are—adulting. We are working, managing our finances, facing our debts, and standing at the precipice of a changing world—for better or for worse. In the coming years, we will buy houses, make investments, have babies, and potentially move back in with our parents.

So… I’m going back to my science fair days, y’all. But instead of researching how the pH level of water affects the growth of pea plants (actual science fair project I conducted in 1998), I want to know more about millennials. I’m starting with millennials living and working in Brattleboro, VT.

  • What do we care about?
  • How do we engage with technology?
  • What are our outlooks for the future?
  • What are our thoughts on money and what choices do we make about how we spend it?
  • How are we different as a group and how are we similar?
  • And how does any or all of this impact the communities where we live and work?

Stay tuned! Our next blog post will feature stories and perspectives from millennial, Alex Fischer, Owner/Bookkeeper for Open Bookkeeping and Co-founding Collective Member for The Root Social Justice Center.


If you are a millennial and would like to connect with New Ground Creative, email

New Kid on the NGC Block

biz bioBiz Hallett joins the New Ground Creative Team as Outreach Strategist bringing her edgy style, endless curiosity, and epic dance moves! You may recognize her as an on-again, off-again employee of Boomerang or maybe you remember the SHAKEtheROOM! dance and music performances at Headroom Stages that she produced and choreographed. Still doesn’t ring a bell?

Well… here is the lowdown.

West Philadelphia, born and raised… Just kidding. Biz is fresh, but she is not quite Fresh Prince of Bel Air fresh—a girl can dream. Biz moved to Vermont to attend Marlboro College in 2001 where her studies focused on narrative dance and cultural history, as well as art, neuroscience, literature, and creative writing. She has never felt so at home—with regard to place, people, and environment—as she does in Vermont. This being said, she loves to travel and will happily take an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and exist elsewhere. Her choice to travel often satisfies her insatiable desire to learn and explore, while also igniting a renewed love and appreciation of home.

Biz was born shy and quiet, but eventually she developed into the eccentric and expressive individual she is today. Seriously though, she is a talker, but also an active listener. She is passionate about storytelling and loves to share stories wherever she goes. She believes the act of telling stories supports our sense of self and also builds connections and understanding between people.

Biz has been a dancer for 30 years and uses movement as a language when words fall short. She studied hula in Hawai’i while at Marlboro College—she was in awe of a culture that chose dance and song as the primary way to tell its history and express its identity. She had conversations with locals, Hawaiian Rights Activists, artists, and homeless individuals—each offering their unique perspective and desire to be heard. This exploration ignited a bigger purpose in Biz, to support individuals in telling their stories as a means of expression, connection,and transformation. Biz later received a Masters Degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Antioch University New England to further explore her interest in human behavior and psychology and how it all ties to the power of storytelling. Her conclusion:

Telling your story enacts change and growth. Everytime.

Basically, Biz is hungry for knowledge and thirsty to know and understand people. When not working at NGC, she can be found meditating, cooking, teaching dance, thinking up new creative ways to engage with her community, or watching the sunset from her home in Guilford. Her inherent marketing mind combined with her other skills forms a unique perspective that fits into the NGC brand for our clients and we are all excited about how this growth will support our clients and strengthen what we offer.

At New Ground Creative, we believe impactful branding and marketing starts with knowing who you are and what you offer—you are the only person in the world doing what you do the way you do it. As partners and collaborators, we greatly value building relationships with our clients and working with the stories they have to tell. Over the years, New Ground Creative has grown in its capabilities and clients and we aim to keep that momentum going in order to better support our clients in their continuing growth.

WOO HOO! Welcome, Biz!

Put Your Money Where Your Values Are


Last year, during NGC’s annual retreat (it’s a party!), we set a goal to create a campaign that spanned channels and was actually cool. Here we are, a little less than a year later, and we’ve launched just such a campaign for our wonderful client, the venerable, Brattleboro Savings & Loan.

As we had intended, the campaign is deeply rooted in the strategic work we did for the bank—coming up with messaging and communications that speak to the Bank’s high points and the points of greatest concern of its potential customers; what we call the Amplifiers and Answers. Once we had these in place, we matched it with a BA&L ad we’d created around “Said no one, ever.” and voila! Campaign.

Of course, voila! is French for “This is where a ton of hard work and coordination happens to lead to any semblance of success.”

We had a great time though: taking pictures of cast members of the reality show known as Brattleboro; creating relatable statements of disbelief that allow us to show how BS&L is a truly local and different bank; and coordinating on social media, print, partners, clients, and employees to get the word out to the community that this is a bank that allows you to Put Your Money Where Your Values Are.

Win, Lose, and Draw


Sometimes everyone in the office hits a wall at the same time and we need a break from our respective roles. When that happens we do something fun and creative to get us back on track. The doodles above are the result of one of those times.

Our task: Create the cutest creature using features from a snake, prairie dog, turtle, owl and lion. We know, completely random, but that is why this works so well. We each took  5 minutes brainstorming and sketching. Once the time was up we compared our animals. It seems as if the “cute” factor was forgotten about on a couple of these. . . .

This exercise gave us a good laugh, a quick break, a smile on our faces and a renewed energy to continue with our work. Seems like a win to us.

We are visual and written problem solvers and we love what we do. Every once in a while, however, we need a fun jump start to get the creative waves moving again. We’ve found that these little exercises breed inspiration and fun and that is what we are all about.

The next time you and your office mates are struggling to stay focused, break out the pens and paper, come up with a silly challenge and watch what transpires both on and off the paper.

Get the Hell Out

2016It’s the new year and we don’t know about you, but all of us here at New Ground are pretty happy about a fresh start.

Don’t get us wrong, last year was awesome for us. We expanded our capabilities (branding & strategic development, market & audience analysis, pitch & presentation building ) while continuing to hone our design skills. We are just super excited to make this the best year yet.

At the beginning of every year, we take a day to get out of the office, go somewhere fun, eat good food, and talk about what worked and what didn’t in the previous year. We strategize how to improve the weaknesses and ways to continuosly move ahead. It’s great to look at what projects we enjoyed and what projects posed problems and how we can remedy the problems and duplicate the enjoyment.

This is a good tool for businesses. It’s a way to gather information about where you were and where you want to go. Getting out of the office to do this is a key element. It energizes the workers and creates an environment that is new, exciting, and boosts ideas.

Here are a few things we are excited about in the coming year:

  • New partnerships with fun and engaging clients.
  • Learning new skill sets to offer an even more cohesive package.
  • Continuing to push our design so that we stay fresh and engaging.
  • Bringing on an intern, who will hopefully learn a lot and maybe teach us a thing or two.

We often tell people to make time for a mini retreat with their company. It has been an extremely useful tool for us. So gather your coworkers, pick a fun spot and start making good things happen!


Holiday Cards—Still a Good Idea?

2014 Holiday CardHappy Thanksgiving all of you (dozen or so) readers! When we were sitting around the Thanksgiving table this past Thursday—with a few slices of cage-free, hormone-free, organic turkey for Carrie; a giant salad with a tiny slice of turkey for Falyn; and a 43lb. turducken for Joe—we gave thanks for each of you.

So, how do we show our appreciation for you guys? In fact, how do you all show your appreciation to your clients, friends, families and fans? The answer for many of us is found in the venerable holiday card. (By the way, don’t you think these holiday cards are beta versions of the “likes” that we’ve come to so deeply desire/disdain in our social media? We all know those people who tape every card to their mantel to show, through sheer bulk, how beloved they are…with their daughter’s handmade—I luv yu Papa—card hanging next to “Dear Kmart shopper, our family sends your family glad tidings this…”blah blah blah. Sheesh.)

So what makes a good holiday card? Here’s what we think:

  • Innocuous: Now is not the time to make a statement. Be nice. Be complimentary. Things like, “I know you don’t believe in the Baby Jesus but he died for your sins so enjoy your presents while it lasts, sinner!” aren’t going to be received as well as you might like. (I’m talking to you, Uncle Frankie.) Try something closer to, “Thinking of you and wishing you joy this holiday season.” Nice n’ Easy.
  • Visual: Don’t write too much. Let a nice picture and a simple tagline do all the “saying” for you. After all, the recipient is on your list and you like them enough to pay the ridiculous postage (Half a buck? Really?), so that’s good, right? If you’re a business, try to entertain the recipient. They get enough wreath and red candle cards to regrow a forest. Think funny but with heart.
  • Guilt-free: One of our favorite homeless shelters in town asked us to help come up with a card and we all immediately agreed, “No poverty porn and no guilt.” This means, no starving children with a message of “Hope you enjoy your holidays and feasts as others die of hunger, you cheap bastard!” Stay positive and joyful.
  • Audience-specific: We like a good off-color joke as much as the next person, but remember that there is a slight chance (very slight, really) that someone may actually read your card so let’s keep it PG, folks. Thus, avoid the scatological, suggestive, lewd or controversial if at all possible. Comments on Santa’s use of the reindeers’ straps the other 364 days of the year might be best left unsaid. Just a thought.

So, there are some ideas for you. We love you all. Keep an eye out for our card coming to a mailbox or inbox near you very soon.