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Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC

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When you own a dog you are bound to meet other dog owners and dog admirers. On my many excursions to the dog park here in Long Island City, New York I met Tiffini Minatel- Schrieber when my dog was a pup. That was more than six years ago. I have had the honor and pleasure of her caring for my dog and helpful, timely tips for dealing with behavior issues in my dog. Tiffini is gracious, patient, caring, informative and a professional. It shows in her successful dog walking business. More and more residential property owners are becoming dog friendly as a way of attracting stable tenants and as a result dog walking is becoming a booming business.

Tiffini got in on the ground floor when she started and she will tell us all about it. Let’s welcome Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC.

Purely Simple Words (PSW): Welcome Tiffini tell us: how did you get started in the dog walking business?

Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber (TMS): It was favor to my friends. My friend and old boss, Jimmy, just moved into a new building here in LIC and he and his wife just had a baby. At that time he had to go and tend to his restaurants in St. Martin. So that left his wife Jodi home alone with the baby and two dogs. She needed help with walks in the late evening when she was putting the baby down to bed but there were no walkers who worked late in the evening. She couldn’t leave the baby, obviously, so I would drive over from Astoria, where I live, and walked the dogs for her. She eventually found neighbors in the building who helped her out.

Back when I started here in Long Island City there were only two buildings, the Citylights and the Avalon, which is now the Avalon South because there is now an Avalon North. And they just finished building a third one. There are now more than ten newly constructed building and more on the way. This area is booming.

PSW: What year was that?

TMS: That was May 2007. The first dogs I started walking were Puli’s. They are the dogs with dreadlocks but the owner kept them trimmed. They looked like Poodles and they were show stoppers. People would stop me to ask what kind of dogs they were. As we talked about the dogs, they would ask me to walk their dogs. After talking to Jodi, she suggested that walking dogs would be a great job for me. And she is right.

So a business was born. I did have help from another friend, Nicole Billiot. We started taking business classes through SBA and SCORE, planning to eventually open a Doggie Daycare in the area. At that time there were none. Nicole and I started walking dogs and built a client base. She ended up getting a promotion at her “Real” job and decided to stay there. And I decided to keep on walking. She is in Miami now thinking about opening a doggie business. Hopefully she will.

PSW: What do you like the best about your work?

TMS: I am my own boss. I really like that. It is on par with working with the dogs. I really like working with dogs too. You can have the worst day in the world, but the dogs wash it all away with their unconditional love. I focus on the dogs and the playgroups and that keeps me grounded.

PSW: What do you dislike about your work?

TMS: The occasional bad weather. This year it was the Polar Vortex! WOW! However, I think now that I have been through it, my workers agree with me, it is the torrential, sideways downpour with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. No raincoat is going to protect you – you will get wet down to your underwear. These are my least favorite days. This happens three or four times a year. The Polar Vortex is easier because at least you can layer up and put your ski clothes on.

PSW: What kind of interesting clients do you have?

TMS: All kinds. Families, newlyweds and such that have a dog or two. One is a VP of Bravo network, I have another client who used to be head of security for the Yankees and now has his own security company and a gentleman who has his own construction company. I have quite a few lawyers and also business owners like myself who work from home. A very eclectic mix of people who all teach me something new when I meet them and their dogs.

PSW: Do you have a routine with the dogs?

TMS: Yes we have a set schedule. We start at noon. I don’t do morning walks. I used to be in the restaurant and bar business so I am used to later in the day hours and I have never been a morning person. From noon to 1:30 is reserved for individual walks. We give individual walks to older clients, those with special needs or those who are undergoing stress or don’t play well with others. Whenever we get a puppy they are walked in the first slot until they are old enough for the playgroups.

Playgroups are Monday through Friday, although I have been getting Saturday and Sunday bookings so I have started an early afternoon group on these days too. Our second group starts at 2:45 – 3:00 pick up which runs Monday to Friday too.

PSW: How do you decide which dogs are compatible with each other in the groups?

TMS: Most of the time I know the dog from observing them in the dog run. However, at first I do an in home interview where I meet the owner and the dog to see the personality. I take them on a few walks before putting them in a group. We greet other dogs on the leash so I can see how the dog behaves. Most of the time I already know if the dog will play well in the group.

The first group is great for owners who have to be at work early, at 8-9 in the morning. The second group is great for owners that have to be at work at 10-11 in the morning and work late. Most of the dogs get along. I have some dogs that are good for either group. And it also depends on what the owner needs.

PSW: Tell me the most out of the ordinary event that happened when you were walking a dog?

TMS: Our neighborhood dog run property was sold so we had to move our playgroups to the Vernon Boulevard dog run. Before the Vernon Boulevard dog run was renovated it was just a small strip of land there with chicken wire fence with slats of wood along the back of it. Behind it was an empty lot full of weeds and garbage and downed trees. Well, someone managed to put a hole in the chicken wire fence and Sheba Enu Paolo and Beagle Daisy went through that little hole. As that happened, I saw it in slow motion. Daisy went in first, and by the time I ran over there, Paolo took off and he went after her and both were gone.

I was screaming NOOOOOOOO! So I went in after them and jumped over the fence. The weeds were in full growth and six feet tall, it was hard to get through them. I couldn’t see the dogs and they wouldn’t come when I called them, so I came back to the dog run and instructed my other dog walkers to take the other dogs home. I then ran down 48th Avenue following the fence. My first concern was if there was a breach somewhere else in the fence and they were going to get out. I got up to the end of the property where the dogs had run into and saw the end of some train tracks. I panicked and thought they were going to run onto the train tracks and head to Long Island! The property is a LIRR mechanic shop and luckily the area was fully enclosed and not open to the tracks. I look over from Jackson Avenue and there is Paolo looking through the fence down into the garden area of The Creek and Cave restaurant – a whole block away from Vernon Boulevard by the way – with a big smile on his face. I ran back to the fence hole opening and clawed my way through the weeds and over a tree that had fallen, down a big hill which I basically slid down trying to get back there. I got Paolo and he was just standing there, heavily panting because they were obviously running in the weeds and trees. It looked as if he was so proud of himself and tired. It took me another 10-15 minutes to find Daisy. I found her and we got out of there. It’s 40 minutes later and I am cut up from head to toe. These two dogs had the biggest smiles on their faces and they were panting and had weeds sticking out of their harnesses. They had the best time exploring, while I was panicking. That was a scary moment, funny moment and a moment of relief all wrapped up in one emotional release for me!

PSW: You are very successful here in Long Island City and you are one of the first dog walking companies and have lasted for many years. What do you think the secret to your success is?

TMS: I would say there are two secrets: one is I offer something other dog walking companies don’t – off leash time in the dog run. I don’t do pack walks. I offer playgroups in the dog run. I am from the country, in North Carolina. Growing up, my dogs were never on leash, they would run to the woods, run to the pond, go swimming come back and flop in the yard. They had freedom. I like offering that to my clients, at least an hour a day of freedom for their dogs. That’s the one big selling point of what I do.

The other is relationships. My client list is small compared to some of the other dog walking companies. And that is on purpose. I have really good close relationships with my client owners. They know me by name, I know them by name. I know a little about them, they know a little about me. Every year I throw a holiday party (Christmas). I buy them food and drinks and we hang out and talk about dogs all night!

PSW: Is there any negative thing that happened that you learned from and changed the way you operate for the better?

TMS: Oh yes, there are numerous things every day. I wouldn’t necessarily call them negative, I don’t like to use that word. They are just learning experiences. Every day is a different day. You have a different challenge. Whether it’s the weather or the dogs’ moods, new building restriction – every day you have to roll with the punches. There is always something new. There are always little tiny “failures”. Something happens every day that doesn’t work that teaches all of us we need to adjust this, we need to do that. I can tell you on a micro level, this has taught me and my walkers to be ready for anything. Every day we have to expect changes. We can’t be rigid. We can’t go to work thinking things are going to go a certain way because it never goes that way. We can plan, but we have to be fluid!

This is another thing I really appreciate about this job, it is ever changing. Even after seven years I am still learning.

On a macro level, the major HUGE learning experience I had in doing this business has been recent, with my old business name LIC Dogwalking. I filed DBA papers to do business as Long Island City Dogwalking, or LIC Dogwalking for short, in August of 2007. I never took it to the next level by turning it into an LLC. Because of that, another dog walking company opened in May 2013 called Long Island City Dog Walk. The names are very similar and there has been some confusion from the buildings and potential clients as well as the clients I already work with.

Had I turned my DBA into an LLC, I wouldn’t have this name problem. My husband always reminds me that he told me to do this and I said “Yeah, Yeah” and I just didn’t do it. Should’ve listened to him! Ha!

Unfortunately, this business name issue was happening at the same time that my father was ill and passed away. I did consult three different lawyers and got some good advice. However, I decided, since most of my clients said they know me by my personal name and refer me out to others using my name, to let the business name issue go, because it was not worth the tens of thousands of dollars of litigation it would cost, not to mention the grief. I have to still work with this person in the area and I can’t work in a place with negativity and I think litigation exists in negativity and I don’t like it. So I learned from that to let it go. Just let it go. I made this mistake, now do the right thing and move forward in a positive way. So I changed my business name to Tiff’s LIC(K) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC. Now my business name is protected and actually better, I think, and I am preparing an announcement and new marketing campaign for fall of 2014.

I haven’t done much marketing because, in the past, I got most of my business from referrals and I only gave out business cards when I was asked. I was booked most of the time, so I didn’t think I needed marketing. However, I now realize that it is important. There is a time when a company’s name needs to be out there, clear and doesn’t need to be confused with another company’s name.

PSW: Do you have employees?

TMS: I have independent contractors. There’s a tax difference. Right now I have three walkers plus myself. I have a fourth who helps me out part time with dog sitting when I need her.

PSW: What are your future plans for your company?

TMS: I will continue to do what I am doing. Around this time of year (summer) we have clients who move so we will be looking for new clients. I’ll be doing a marketing push through my existing clients because they refer me. I will also do some fliers and brochures to get my new name out there. I will be hiring new walkers over the summer because one of my walkers is going back to school full time in the fall and another is moving out of the state. It’s hard to grow too quick too fast because of the nature of the playgroups. We have to know which dogs get along with which dogs. I have a 5 dogs per handler limit so we have to grow slow and organically. I will be doing that over the next several years. By the time I am 50 years old, I hope to be in a substantial place, retire and pass the business onto an interested walker. Or sell. I don’t want to be walking dogs after 50 years old! I will move on to something different. I am trying to figure out how to combine dogs, wine and travel.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add? Is there a wisdom you learned owning your own business?

TMS: Everyone should own their own business at some point. When I worked for someone else I was making lots of money for them and sometimes didn’t feel I was being acknowledged or appreciated for all the work I was doing. In owning my own business, I can now acknowledge everyone who works for me, give them what I felt I needed. I show my walkers and clients my appreciation for their loyalty and their business. Having my own business has also allowed me to give back to others. Which I love doing. I love helping others and being of service to others, and what I love about this business and this area (LIC) is the community focus that my business has.

I don’t just walk dogs in the area, I support the community. I was involved in parts of the planning phase of the Vernon Boulevard dog run renovation. I am involved in the local community organization DOG LIC, on Facebook. I participate in the monthly clean-up of the Vernon Boulevard dog run organized by this group. My dog walkers and I pitch in to keep the dog runs clean daily because we use them and the community is nice enough to allow us to do that. So you will see us always walking around picking up poop that someone might have missed or garbage that has blown into the run. I like giving back and this business has allowed me to do that. This business has allowed me to give to others more than what I have been able to do before.

PSW: It is obvious that you care very much about your work and are a good business owner and know how to handle people. I hope you have continued success for as long as you want.

TMS: Thank you very much Georgia for your time, interest in me and your friendship over all these years. You are truly a good person.

Tiffini and her organization are outstanding in there motivation to give our pups the best care they can give. This came from her finding her special path in life. That’s the whole idea of finding your path. It is the one that makes you happy and has the impetus to move you out of your comfort zone to become a wider, smarter, broader, giving, lively and better person. Being on your unique path inspires and gives permission to others to do the same.

I hope you take inspiration from Tiffini and move in the direction of your individual style. She took the risk of trying something new. Tiffini tries something new every day, has become proficient at it and gained confidence in herself. So can you.

 

To contact Tiffini go to:

 

Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking & Playgroups, LLC

Owner/Operator – Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber

347-228-4158

Like our page on Facebook to see photos of what we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John Scuderi – Graphic Artist

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Please welcome a fascinating man and his solo graphic business. John Scuderi is a talented graphic artist with uncanny business know-how. With his expertise in the arts and technology he understands and really listens to his clients needs. As a result the end product makes his clients look professional and up scale. Read on and let’s find out how John does his amazing work.

PSW (Purely Simple Words): Welcome John, your website syncromeshdesign.com is eye catching and full of information. I see that your work is geared towards arts, trades and technology. Can you tell me about the type of work you do?

JS (John Scuderi): I have always had a connection to both areas arts and technology I started out as a physics major. But changed to journalism major. I have a journalism degree. It was tough getting a job. One day I looked around the room and realized that there were art materials everywhere. I decided to go to night courses in illustration. Later, as many art students do, I switched teams from illustration to graphic design. I have had the pleasure working for the largest independent distributor of music CDs and I worked as a catalog artist there. I have done websites and CD packages for musicians, some of them top flight, but “under the radar” public-wise. I have worked for a couple of tech companies on Long Island, New York. They were surprised I could speak the language to a certain extent.

PSW: How long have you been doing this on your own?

JS: I started in 2000 on a freelance basis, and worked to learn the business on my own. I would usually have a full or part-time position to supplement the work.

PSW: I see you work very hard. What is this type of graphic design called. Because it is so specific. It is more like film.

JS: Ah, you’re referring the the slide shows on my site. There are so many different divisions in graphic design with separate mentalities. There are some who can spend all day working on logos —not my specialty. Or photos or typography. I am closer to that. There a people who can do informational design they can take a bunch of material, take directional and descriptive information, and make a beautiful, easy-to-understand, map out of it. There are those who work primarily with text, posters, cards, website, package design, and sometimes you can work across many areas and sometimes you can’t and you have to hire a specialist. I’ll tell a client that I will not be top flight in this area or that —that’s responsible. In many designs there is an observational hierarchy, there will be things you’ll notice in one, two, three order. That’s programatic, almost like film. In film you are showing these things in sequence; in graphics it’s all at once. It’s all sandwiched together. For example if you have a poster — let’s say it’s a circus poster — you have to cram a lot of information there. It escapes a lot of peoples attention but you are answering the basic questions of who, what, where, when and why. And much of graphic design is about making decisions. Like how can I bring the viewer in hold them and get them to read everything and get the full experience of this piece of communication.

PSW: Tell me more about the slide shows.

JS: It serves an internet purpose. In this case, by having these pictures in the same location, as a slide show, you are saving screen real estate. You can only assume the viewer will initially take in just so much of a view and, if you don’t grab them right there, you are going to lose them. There’s a lot of laziness among viewers so they are not going scroll through. They get a first impression and that’s your chance. The advertising line you mentioned is just an distillation of what I do. Together with a client, I strive for  the best that a client can look and it’s shaped to meet with what the customer expects. It’s no different from “putting your best foot forward.” That’s about it.

PSW: Do you specialize with just one group, such as musicians, or do you work with everyone.

JS: I work with everyone, as much as I can. There are disciplines that are beyond me, and I will let the person know right away or if its something like logos that I am not good at. I let them know that you  may not get the best logo in the world but you will get a good logo. It depends on the budget. If you want a professional logo from professionals, I think they’ll charge something like $1,000 and up.

PSW: So you look to satisfy what ever the client  needs and that is how you put something together.

JS: Yes I have yet to work with art directors of large companies, with people who actually know the art communication business. And there is a difficulty there to secure work from a professional; it’s more demanding and competitive. I am in the growing the stages and I work with people who don’t have a marketing manager don’t have an art director; they might be a small business, a one-person business, or they might be a slightly larger small business with 4-5 people employed and they don’t know how to navigate the job, so it becomes key to the assignment that you be a good communicator — unless you have some sort of charisma and bowl them over or you have a reputation, and instantly impress them that you must know what you are doing.

There are always questions, because people are bombarded with information about design impressions and hearsay. People don’t know the process because they are not design knowledgeable, and don’t process or catalog it. They don’t perceive the strategy, style or cultural elements the way a graphic designer would. I can give you an example. I was helping a proficient talented jazz guitarist who likes to do things himself and he needed help setting up technically a brochure. He also did a CD cover, and wanted to show off his work. He said “take a took at this CD cover I designed.” So I looked at it and it had this Gothic typeface similar to the New York Times masthead. Looks old and fancy almost in a religious way. And I was shocked because anyone who has been to a record store or observed the general use of that typeface knows that it’s used for heavy metal music, almost symbolically. They all use that kind of typeface because it has that Gothic/Fraktur look, serious look, and it’s become a tradition. Now here is a jazz guitarist who probably wanted nothing to do with rock and roll, and here he was offering up this. So there’s different considerations that have to be taken in graphic design that the average person really is not totally conscious of. Graphic designers are constantly concocting mixes physical, psychological and cultural and they are using the ingredients of shape, color and size and looking to get a desired reaction from a viewer.

To review those things: physical, it’s like in physics the effect of color light shapes size optics, and the psychological is how you are impressed by something even though it doesn’t make sense —how it effects the mind. For example, you can have an issue when adjusting type. You can have letters of the alphabet equally set, measured by the physical width of the letter, and it doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? Because the letters have different optics so you can have a V and A next to each other and they will look too far apart. There are typeset single words in which it looks as though they could be seen as several separate words. It’s because they didn’t do a good job on the typography, so that’s optics. There’s the psychological, black has a number of effects on us — yellow also. Then there is culture, as I just mentioned of in the case of Gothic type being used for heavy metal. If you don’t know the style and culture, then your message is going to be hidden, corrupted, or made ridiculous.

PSW: You are right I never noticed that.

JS: And sometimes we have to do research for the jobs. We don’t necessarily know the client’s world. Sometimes the job seems as simple as being a personal buyer or shopper. I will take this type from here and this picture from there put it all together. Sometimes its a journey of discovery; you don’t know what the end piece will be. You try different things. It’s a volatile changeable mix. You massage it together until it jells and all works together.

PSW: What part of your work do you enjoy the most?

JS: I like problem solving and creating something that starts as a Frankenstein, then takes a life of it’s own. You put type and colors and shape, and put it together. When they have a life of their own and are cooperating, that’s pretty exciting. I like the discovery thing again. To add to this, sometimes you research or begin meditating on a problem. Usually it’s a combination of all those things.

There’s something that is usually hidden or neglected and that’s judgment. People know the term graphic design and sometimes they oversimplify it down to fashion design or pressing buttons. It takes a lot of judgment sometimes; inspiration frequently. There is no clear formula.

There is is cloudy area for the designer as to what the public or audience understands in design. There are different audiences with different levels of savvy. Sometimes you are astonished. You’ve managed a deft sort of embedding of style and information in a piece and they get it! There’s the realization “they’re just as sharp as me.” And then there are times they don’t get it, and you are puzzled. And that leads you to think “I guess I am sort of special, I have this number of inclinations or attitudes.” A graphic designer is different from a non-designer; a designer is a student of visual effects.

PSW: Is there or have there been any other graphic artists that have inspired you or any other special influences that have inspired you in your work?

JS: There was a book that got me started. It was by a graphic design group in England called Hipgnosis. The 1970’s was one of the golden ages of album design. Their work was exciting and their designs had a lot of depth. They moved things ahead from a time when previously package designs for music was “let’s see how cheap we can get away with,”—”just add a touch of emotion to the album theme.” In the previous days, they almost always put a picture of the artist on the cover. If it was a popular artist, and there was a good budget for photography, it would mean styling the photograph and nothing more. It wasn’t thought out or intriguing. If you could the record buyer to recognize the artist, that was all you need do. The album cover just had to be different from previous albums of the same artist, that’s all. Hipgnosis was paramount in changing all that. I should stress, that Hipnosis was far from my only influence. For a designer, however, this was just a great book.

I’ve been thrilled by so many great designers. They come from all places and all walks of life.

PSW: Who did they do album covers for.

JS: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, 10CC, Wings, Peter Gabriel. With the advent of CDs, covers became a bit more difficult because you are going towards iconic — almost like a postage stamp. There is less space to deal with you so you can’t depend too much on detail or lots of elements. It’s a smaller field of view which alone suggests that there’s less to enjoy, less to savor. It changes things.

Now, even though unpackaged digital files are popular for distributing music —mp3s and the like— you still have to identify an album or song with a visual. Visuals still really help to make the idea of the music become more “sticky” — longer held in the person’s mind. Having a visual helps people “place” the music. Most music buyers are not musicians or musicologists. They are a little bit unsure what this music is about it, and it’s really rewarding to them to have a kinship and better connection with the musician. Visual interpretations do that job and more. It’s important. There are thousands of pieces of music a person might buy; a visual helps them form a better bond with a song and pushes the artist’s selection to the top of the priority for buying.

PSW: Do you have any direction of where you are taking your business or is it where you want it?

JS: I want to move towards more conceptual, artistic work for customers than at present. I have customers that have relatively modest budgets. They also have moderate understanding of graphics and do not want to go too far afield from what they understand. So my work is not as artistic or gorgeous as I’d like. But there is plenty that can be done at any budget level. And I do find that clients grow from small jobs to larger, more developed ones.

PSW: If you had a client that had a enormous budget what would you do.

JS: It depends.  There’s a good amount of discipline within the largest flights of fantasy of serving the client, and serving the client’s client. It’s is my job to connect those two people; it is not my job to show off, but to do the best I can within the framework and budget. For a large budget, the level of detail is greater, the level of stylization is greater, the level of strategy is greater. For modest clients, they want style and functionality that works; you are not overdoing it. In many cases, independent of budget, over-fancy, over-design, is a dead end because you want people to retain the information on the website, not be overwhelmed.

I would like to get into the art direction area when doing CD packages and music graphics. The tendency is for artists to take care of their business and not think ahead and think about what the audience needs so they will call you at the last minute and you are not going to work through too many concepts or looks and not take the time to take a photograph. They don’t want the expense of that. That’s fine. I would hope in the future for more collaborative work, not “I have these materials and throw anything there and that’s sort of good enough.”

My job is to have people come to me and have comfort with me. I hope that, little by little, I do better work and they are intrigued to allow more time, intensity, and interest in communication with their audience or fans. I am happy to say I have a few clients in industrial / craftsman area. I have one that sells refrigeration parts and one client who does upholstery for cars. On the surface, they are not glamorous. But the customer I have for upholstery is marketing savvy. I’ve used more types of media with this customer than with any other and he’s total pleasure to work with. When first going in with a client, you don’t know what the range is for the client, and I am very open to having clients dip the toe. I do understand that it’s very scary when they hear graphic design. They see huge figures popping in their head as well as difficult decisions on style. They are a little anxious to start out with. I will take them and try to win their confidence slowly and then have them slowly understand what is going on and what I am really doing. I and happy to do an interview like this because it helps me to dispel the illusions of graphic design.

PSW: You explain it well and do nice work I can see that from your website I think you have not left any stone unturned. You are open to talking to people and working with a client and making them happy. I can tell from the way you speak and the way you explain things so nicely and neatly on your website. I have a question. What is a video Flash?

JS: There’s a multimedia program called Flash, and it’s been around for more than a decade. It has been used for animation and video and it can be programmed. It is still at the top for games. It’s almost UNused on mobile players. It’s processor intensive, using a lot of your computer’s ability. So, it’s slowly falling out of favor on the web. Sometimes you have to tell people the reason you are not seeing this on your smart phone is because it’s in Flash. Apple has refused to accept it. I have some older work in Flash, and it’s fine for desktop computers.

PSW:: I saw it somewhere on your website but I did not know what it was.

JS: What’s popular now is HTML 5 animations, though they don’t have has much facility or ability as flash. That said the audience is largely growing. So we need to consider that audience.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add.

JS: It’s been a pleasure being invited to discuss exactly what a web designer does, and the designer’s approach, and I hope other people become more attuned to it. It is really becoming a necessary language for people to learn because there is so much visual selling. We don’t go to the general store and ask for recommendations as much. We are bombarded with information in a visual way, and people getting to learn more of the techniques, and to be more critical and appreciative of what is going on, is good for them, even if they are not selling anything. Again you are doing a service. Whenever you are communicating, visually or verbally, you are doing a service for the audience, viewer, end user; you are making their life easier, empowering them with information, probably entertaining, and hopefully you are delighting them. So I think its a wonderful thing when you combine these items. And graphic design extends from the very basic to things that approach fine art, and should be enjoyed as such. And that’s all I can think of.

PSW: You taught me a lot because I know nothing about graphic design. I can see how you are going to do really well because you know what you are talking about.

JS: People know inherently a lot about graphic design, though they might not be in the habit of verbalizing it. It’s not different from the way we can all enjoy a movie, but we really can’t discuss the acting the way an actor would. That’s not the point of it. The point of it is to enjoy and receive some information from the work. Thank you very much.

PSW: You are welcome. It is my pleasure to share your story with my audience and the rest of the world wide web. Good Luck.

John Scuderi is very approachable and eager to answer any questions you might have about his work. You can contact him via his website synchromeshdesign.com or call by phone: 516-359-5716.

Karen Sackowitz – Writer – Personal Historian

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Karen S

I am re- re – posting because we are having technical difficulties on this side of the computer. This should do it.

 

Welcome the talented, energetic writer and personal historian Karen Sackowitz. She has graciously allowed me to interview her about her work. Karen is a prolific writer, business owner and busy mom.

Karen says she was born to be a writer and has done so for the majority of her life. Her personal writings eventually led her to open Sackowitz Communications and most recently, Your Stories Ink which highlights writing personal histories of very interesting clients.

PurelySimpleWords (PSW): Welcome Karen, thank you for sharing your experience with me and my audience.

Karen Sackowitz (KS): Thank you for having me.

PSW: You and I met at an Association of Personal Historians meeting a few months ago and I was immediately impressed with your energy and enthusiasm. I know you are passionate about writing and helping people through your talents. Tell me: what do you like about your work?

KS : Certainly, I have been doing a bunch of different types of writing including freelance commercial writing and marketing materials mainly for healthcare clients. I am also a freelance journalist writing for publications and magazines like the Boston Globe, Hartford Business Journal and Wilton Magazine which is in my town here in Connecticut. I also have my personal history business, Your Stories Ink.

The common theme between all of them is learning. I am insatiably curious and I love learning about things. For example, in the healthcare writing I may learn about a new surgical procedure, which is fascinating. I write the web copy for the hospital so their patients can get on line and understand what they might experience. I am learning about it and it is energizing for me.

PSW: Tell me about your journalism work.

KS: The journalism work is about meeting people and learning about their background and specialties. I did a story about a man for the Hartford Business Journal as a business subject – he was a funeral director and running a family business. I ended up talking to him for almost two hours because he is a fascinating person. He was passionate about his work, he went above and beyond for the families he worked with. He took his role serious and personally which he openly showed. This is the stuff that really gets me jazzed. I like to learn about business but especially about the people behind the business. This lead me to Your Stories Ink which is straight out “People” – tell me your story.

Whether you traveled around the world or didn’t, everybody has a story. Now I just get to listen and learn about them and be curious. The more curious I am and the more questions I ask benefits my client because they will learn more and more about the person they are capturing through personal history. I just love meeting and learning about people and their lives. This interest has come to me in many forms and that’s what keeps me going.

PSW: Bravo on your work, I know your are a very busy Mom and and entrepreneur. How do you have time to do all you do?

KS: I multitask where necessary. My husband accuses me of thinking I can bend space and time and I say because I can – what’s the problem. Kidding aside, I have learned to enlist help. When you start a new business it can be difficult because you hang on to every penny and end up doing everything yourself. Sometimes its just not possible to outsource anything, but I realize that outsourcing can come in the simplest form. Like a babysitter for eight hours a week so I can focus entirely on my business or write without distraction or interview someone. I make little investments here and there, like enlisting help where I can. I am here in F airfield County, Connecticut and my husband works in New York City so he’s not around much during the week. If I am going to have a business, clients and two young children it makes sense to hire help.

PSW: I see on your list of services you have experience writing speeches. What speeches have you written?

KS: Yes, I have written speeches. Some were for healthcare professionals who have been up for awards. I’ve written nomination as well as introductions for when they get up on stage and accept the award. Again it’s all about telling their story.

PSW: You have worked on many writing forms. What do you like to do the best?

KS: Right now I am really focused on the personal history part of my business because I am trying to build it. I have met the most fascinating people over the past few months just by putting the word out.

I met a man who started a tiny little dance school around here 50 years ago and now it’s a big chain of dance schools. Everyone knows him. Now I am learning his story. I met a former actress who is in her 80’s. Some stories don’t have to be flashy either. I have one client that is in the beginning stages of dementia, she said she did not know why her daughter wanted me to talk to her and that she really does not have a story. I answered with: Really? Because from what I understand you raised two girls on your own and worked three jobs to do it and you survived breast cancer. Let’s start there. That’s what I like about it too – making people realize that they have a really interesting story. People think they don’t but everyone does. That’s what I am really focused on and I love it.

PSW: What kind of product do you offer your clients? Will you put their story in a book or article?

KS: I am focused on books, I enjoy the written word so I have packages that start with typed manuscripts all the way up to professionally produced hard cover books with a jacket. We can incorporate photos or have a professional photographer. There are so many production options today that the book can be personalized and the client can order one or more books.

PSW: How do you balance your busy family and work life?

KS: Luckily I live in a small town so my children’s activities are within ten minutes of each other. I make sure I see my great group of friends, a girls night out or meet for coffee. I make social time everyday.

PSW: Are you still active with the group “Over 40 Females”?

KS: It’s been a while but they are a good group because they have interesting speakers and they go around the room giving you the opportunity to do a 30 second elevator speech. Also everyone gets a gift bag. You can put your promotional material in the gift bag. Your promotional material goes home with everyone. It’s a great opportunity to network too. I joined the speakers bureau which allows me to speak at an event. I realize public speaking is a huge marketing opportunity also.

PSW: You are doing great work, is there anything else you would like to add?

KS: I am pretty lucky to do what I do. I work for myself, meet great people all the time and I’m glad you are going to tell people about it.

PSW: Thank you again Karen for sharing your time and expertise with us. Good luck in all your endeavors.

Karen is an inspiration to me with her courage to be seen, show her talents and organize her professional and home life.

You can read about and contact Karen Sackowitz at: karensackowitz.com, Karen Sackowitiz Communication and Your Stories Ink on Facebook.com.