The past seven years at Nordstrom have been a testament to what a team can achieve with persistence, collaboration and creativity. As an Associate Creative Director and Design Director, I've managed teams large and small that are responsible for concepting, strategizing, presenting and executing. We’ve worked on editorial content, foundational tools, templates, site components, patterns and digital products that are used by our marketing, merchandising and creative teams—and most importantly, our customer.
Together, we launched an enterprise-wide branding framework that’s still in use today. I also helped put in place a cross-divisional creative team that works on everything from UX/UI to marketing campaigns to programmatic emails, ads and even print. This makes it easier to create engaging, cohesive stories for the customer across platforms.
My favorite moments at Nordstrom haven’t been tangible. At the end of the day, what I’m most proud of is mentoring others and helping them succeed and grow—winning as a team. Some of my best friends and work relationships have been made here. We've struggled together, joked, laughed and created great work. We've thoroughly enjoyed each other and our many coffee chats and happy hours. To me, these are the things that speak most highly to the team we’ve built.
Here’s a snippet of the visuals that represent the past seven years. If you're interested in hearing or seeing more, please reach out.
While at Nordstrom, I had the opportunity to work on the Ivy Park brand launch. With it being Beyonce's first apparel line—and Nordstrom being the only retailer in the US to carry Ivy Park—it’s no exaggeration to say it was Nordstrom’s largest product collaboration of the past decade. We put together a small creative team, cleared everyone's schedules and started concepting ideas for something big.
This was a quick turnaround. We had to pitch to Beyonce's creative team before we could start our internal development and execution. We had a week and a half to work on moodboards and wireframes. Fortunately (and perhaps surprisingly!), we were given a lot of creative freedom. Beyonce's team supplied images, but they didn’t provide much direction when it came to typography, copy, layout or design.
So we pushed the voice, copy and typography as well as creating a handful of animated graphic elements that were used throughout the experience. We also built a few new components in our CMS that we could then use on future projects.
In the end, the team went above and beyond and delivered an exceptional experience for Ivy Park. The product had almost 97% sell-through—most items sold out within the first few days—and it became our most engaged digital experience to date. (The average customer spent 3 minutes on the page!) We even got a personal video from Beyonce thanking us for our hard work and efforts—definitely not something I expected to get from my design career.
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Jeffrey Atlanta New York is a designer boutique owned by Nordstrom. Jeffrey Kalinsky is responsible for a big portion of the Nordstrom designer business and has helped bring in some of the most well-known fashion houses. I had the opportunity to help rebrand his company, from the creative approach to the digital experience and marketing.
In addition to the creative, we were responsible for managing the project from start to finish alongside our marketing team. We began by interviewing Jeffrey and some of his trusted employees, gathering info about the company and their vision for its future. From there, we created strategies and moodboards and eventually flew to NYC to pitch to Jeffrey in person. After a quick day of meetings, we got approval to move forward with our direction.
Jeffrey outsourced his point of sale system, IT and digital platforms to an agency. We took lead on the creative and technical sides and worked with the agency to build Jeffrey's new responsive site. We had weekly conference calls with their rep and laid out the groundwork for a new site and CMS. We sketched, architected, wireframed, prototyped and delivered a complete digital experience.
Along with the digital/tech work, we concepted a launch campaign for the new site and built out digital and print marketing materials. For the first year after the launch, we executed weekly emails and site updates and eventually transitioned the work, templates and documentation to an in-house team. For myself and the Nordstrom team, it all offered great insight into the complexities of building a brand, from initial strategies to a UI system and design language, to the nitty-gritty of project management and creative execution.
Neiman Marcus is where I really started to hone my design skills and gain an understanding of e-commerce and the digital experience. I spent six years there, and like most designers I started out working on digital ads and emails. I gained exposure to different areas of the creative world and ended up working on a wide range of projects. I designed our first iOS app (when the iPad was first unveiled) and even had the pleasure of doing print work on the prestigious Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. (I designed the 100th anniversary cover along with a 12-page story.)
What feels unique about my time at Neiman’s is that it was still the early days of online retail. We were doing all the creative work along with UX and UI—those hadn’t become industry-standard terms yet. There were no dedicated teams doing research, no designers to think about the full digital experience…we were figuring it all out as we went along.
Part of our explorations included launching a digital space for editorial content. I concepted the product itself (a carousel flipping through different stories with archiving capabilities—SEO was becoming a big focus at the time) and managed a small team that executed the content. We brainstormed editorial ideas with the marketing and buying teams, helping to define the overall content strategy.
It was an exciting time. There was a lot of trial and error—lots of things failed—but ultimately we pushed through and created some really fun experiences and digital products. I have fond memories of everything we were able to accomplish and am even happier to say I’m still close friends with a number of people I met there.
Steller Designs is a side project my wife and I started as an outlet for our love of interior decorating and remodeling. As a bonus, it gives us the opportunity to involve our three children and spend quality time together.
Over the course of our marriage—I won’t date us, but it's been a good long while—we've taken on projects large and small, from completely gutting a home (admittedly, it was ours) to working with clients to design and decorate outdoor living spaces, provide interior design and stage houses. It's creative work that gets me away from the computer—and I have to say, over the years I've become fairly handy with a nail gun and saw.
Steller Designs has helped me approach my digital work in a different way. Thinking about how someone physically interacts with a space makes you think about how they interact with a digital one. Clearly, it’s not the same—but how can we get that digital experience to feel more real? Can we make it more engaging than just looking at a screen? How can we tie in elements that help people connect with the experience?
These are some photos of various projects and idea/product boards my wife and I have created for clients. I’m always eager to talk about interior design, so if you want to hear more, please—ask.
Over the first 10 years or so of my professional career, I kept myself pretty busy by taking on various freelance and personal creative projects. They ranged all over the map—from photography to apparel design, to print, logos and websites—I really enjoyed sitting down and creating for clients, friends and myself.
One day I set up a shop to sell some of my posters. Over the next six months, word started to get out (with the help of some advertising on Uncrate and Gorillavsbear—they were friends of mine) and soon I was shipping a few each day. I eventually designed some T-shirts, printed them up on some really nice tees from Alternative Apparel and started selling those too.
I maintained that for a solid two years. I learned the ins and outs of running my own design boutique and what it’s like to be a small business. That’s pretty different than a retailer like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, but it gave me a sense of the considerations that come into play when you’re creating brand strategies and selling products online.
From time to time, I still take on a freelance project, but it’s rare. As you can imagine, a full-time job, side interior-design business and a family keep my free time pretty filled up. I do have ideas of starting a typography poster series in the near future, though…
I’m a husband, dad, son, brother, uncle, friend and coworker. A listener, thinker and problem-solver. I enjoy envisioning how different things connect to create a story and experience for people to see, touch and use.
Whether it’s digital or physical, I love thinking about branding, typography, color palette, image… the user experience, buttons, the micro-interactions… the building, the space, products, floors, the ceilings, the knobs, the lighting. I love the big picture—and I love the details that bring the big picture to life. On the flip side, experience has also shown me from time to time you can’t sweat the little things. It’s all in the balance.
Nobody’s driven by one passion. Outside of work, I enjoy a wide range of activities and hobbies with my family and friends. From sports to BBQ to hiking, antiquing, concert-going and the occasional terrible guitar-playing, I stay active and share life with others.