I’m so excited to partner with Adobe today!!! Adobe Creative Cloud is one of the few things that we use every. single. day. here at Aww Sam (in fact, I just edited the photos for this post using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop)! Being huge fans of the product already, I was thrilled when Adobe asked me to attend their 99U Conference here in NYC a few weeks ago! I’ve always loved going to design conferences; it’s such an amazing feeling being able to talk with and meet fellow creatives, and there’s really no better place to feel a huge rush of inspiration!
After attending the Adobe 99U Conference and listening to the all the amazing speakers, I learned a lot of things about motivation, running a business, and successful design, but my biggest takeaway was challenging myself in every way possible, particularly in what it means to be a good boss and a successful business owner. Every day I strive to make fun and engaging content, and I have tried to be the same way with the work environment I provide to all of my employees. The overarching theme of this year’s 99U was “Challenge Everything,” and Adobe asked me to focus more specifically on “Challenge Yourself” and what that meant to me. After the conference, I realized I could do even MORE to foster a better and more enjoyable workplace, and ultimately be the best leader I can be! We spent some time brainstorming ideas that we felt would both still be productive and also fun for everyone to implement in the Aww Sam office. We ultimately came up with 7 different ways to help inspire everyone in the office, and are listing them out below, so let’s jump right in!
1. One of the first things that jumped out to me from the 99U talks was an idea that the creator of Tattly, Tina Roth Eisenberg, explained she created for the Tattly offices. The first few talks were all about leadership and how to build a happy, healthy team. Tina explained how at Tattly, they have a drawer that is completely stuffed with confetti (I was already on board just from the first mention of confetti)! I loved this idea so much I decided that this was an easy upgrade to our rainbow kitchen in the studio, and we filled ours with every size of rainbow confetti known on Earth just like the Tattly offices! Nothing lifts your spirit like throwing a handful of rainbow confetti in the air and watching it land on the rainbow floor, and if anyone is ever feeling frustrated or stressed out, the confetti drawer is an instant mood-booster. It was really easy to create, we just pulled out all the best colors of confetti we already had around, and combined them all together in an empty drawer in the kitchen. Now we always have a Monday pick-me-up and confetti ready at any moment for a photoshoot!
2. This next idea is straight from our school days, but taken up a notch! We love the idea of having a “work” field trip for your team, to build trust, get the ideas flowing, and also just to have a good time. Nothing says teamwork like everyone going out to learn something new or take up an unknown skill! Not only is it fun, but it helps us produce interesting and engaging ideas for creating content, like a city guide to ice cream or cookies. We’re constantly creating with our hands, and to go out and take a ceramics class or learn how to embroider just adds to the long list of things we can make and teach others how to make as well. It’s also a great excuse to get out of the office on beautiful days that would otherwise be spent indoors (I’m a big supporter of making sure those serotonin levels stay high). We haven’t done any big field trips yet, but I like to imagine one day we will go on a world ice cream tour! Ha! We’ll probably stick to small activities first, but this is definitely something that I want to do more moving forward.
3. Another way we have improved the office is by always having tasty and inspiring treats from different shops around the city. Imagine opening your office fridge (which is PINK!) and finding a rainbow of macarons! Or even better, a delicious cake! Not only do these snacks taste delicious, and let us highlight all the cool dessert stores in NYC, but they also give us inspiration for dessert hacks on the blog or fun Instagram posts. We love all the unique treats you can get in New York, and stopping by every few weeks to stock up our fridge is an easy way to keep us up to date with the newest snack while also helping to inspire us with a new flavor combination or giant cake idea.
4. This is a simple one, but we did a DIY Nameplate a while back, that we have incorporated into each employee’s desk. They can pick whatever phrase they want to describe them and use it as a “nameplate,” that is much more personal and fun that just their name. For example, Kyle’s says “I’m kind of a big deal,” and has a colorful gradient behind it that he made in Adobe Photoshop from Adobe Creative Cloud. It lets you see each person’s personality and humor, and makes their workspace a better representation of who they are. We encourage everyone to bring in whatever they want from home and have big plans to design each employee’s desk area to fit their style, so they can feel a little bit more at home at work.
5. Tying into that last point, we use Adobe Illustrator from Adobe Creative Cloud for every graphic, printable, or newsletter you’ve seen here! In this instance we used it to make an office mood board, to draw inspiration from and showcase what makes Aww Sam fun. We started out by all grabbing some of our favorite images online and arranging them on artboards in Illustrator. From there, we printed them out and taped them up onto our board, arranging them in the same way we planned on Illustrator. Mood boards are always great to have, because it lets everyone show their interests while contributing to the business overall. We have our mood board on a giant pink heart, and we constantly update it to reflect the new trends, seasons, and colors we are all loving at the moment. Everyone gets to contribute and they then get to see their cake hack or color of the day end up in a post! It’s super helpful when we’re brainstorming new projects to have all of our inspiration for the month in one place and to be able to see everything together.
6. Team lunches/dinners are a thing most people with normal 9-5 jobs have experienced, and it’s something we have been wanting to implement here at Aww Sam for a while. Instead of a normal team lunch, we want to try going to a new restaurant that an employee suggests each time, instead of the same reliable chain restaurant that other businesses sometimes stick to. Not only does it allow our employees to feel heard, but it also lets us all bond over the experience of trying new food together! Since we live in New York City, this one is a lot easier to do, as new restaurants are popping up every day! It may be tacos, tapas, or even a new ice cream place. Plus, our Studio Manager, Nova, knows allll of the good food spots, so I’m dying to pick her brain and try some new places for lunch! I’m a HUGE foodie if you couldn’t tell already!
7. The last thing that we do in the studio is try to let our employees work on things they enjoy and excel at. Sometimes you have to work on tasks that you don’t love at work, and that’s true even for us (I’m awful at scheduling and planning)! We like to try to fight off that feeling of “boring” work by giving our employees jobs they are interested in. Whether it’s being in charge of making pompoms, or designing a new logo or fun graphic, we try to come up with ideas that everyone enjoys working on with their special talents. Nothing is more gratifying then finishing a project that you suggested or did a lot of work on and seeing it go live as a post. If there’s a particularly challenging task for me, for example, but I know it’s something Kyle would love to do, I delegate tasks where I feel they fit and try to make sure everyone is okay with everything before we get started for the day.
Photos by Kyle Larsen
After brainstorming all these things to help improve our workday, it was super fun to create them and see how our employees reacted! Everyone loves the confetti drawer, and no one has complained about having a fun dessert available whenever they want a snack! Ha! These were just a few of the ideas we would like to one day incorporate into our work environment, some of our ideas were too grand for the space we have now, but maybe in a year or two! 🙂 How do you keep things fun in your office? Or maybe you have a few suggestions for us?! This is how I personally interpreted Adobe’s “Challenge Yourself” prompt, but I’m curious what are some ways you challenge everything? Let us know in the comments!
This post was sponsored by Adobe. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support sponsorships that make this blog a lot more Aww Sam! You can find more about our sponsorship opportunities here.