Designing for Sears
Friends, this was my last week designing for Sears and I have to tell you, as much as I felt a little defeated and disgruntled by some of the decisions made about the direction of our team over the year and half I was here, I still think that working for searsStyle was a really awesome opportunity to have and I feel grateful for having worked and learned along side some truly talented people. I’m sad to leave my team, but I know that they are all rock stars and will get on fine without me.
It’s truly hard to narrow down my favorite work I’ve done, because there have been so many great opportunities to be creative and push the searsStyle trends in exciting new directions.
My first issue was the Golden Rules issue in November 2012. This issue marked the beginning of searsStyle’s very own photo shoots. Before this, we would use stock photos for the trend heroes, which was challenging in itself to find appealing stock photography with generic enough clothing that they could pass for sears apparel. We quickly realized the value (and good practice) in photographing our own clothing in appealing, editorial style poses for each issue. This issue was one of three that won the GDUSA In-house design awards in 2013.
In Spring 2013, we started providing more photography direction and were getting some beautiful shots from the studio out in Elgin. Out of that came two of my absolute favorite issues: Sweet Sorbet and Minty Fresh.
Sweet Sorbet really showcases my abilities to wear multiple hats, because not only was I able to create the mood board and photo direction for the concept, but because we had no budget for an actual shoot, I offered my services and equipment to make it happen. The results really speak for themselves. I got that candid authentic happiness that I felt a lot of our typical sears studio shots were missing.
The Minty Fresh Issue was one of three (including my golden rules above) that won us the GDUSA In-House Design Award in 2013. Because that year was all about wearing solids from head to toe, we devised the idea of using layered patterned mint walls as our backdrop.
In August 2013, we switched over to a new layout and custom platform. The searsStyle 2.o addressed some interactivity and user experience issues we had in the first version. Now the site had an archive and the home page had larger editorial looking tiles of content. It was a true blog.
That fall marked one of our business periods ever. We had no idea how much work would really go into making a true blog, that we quickly became overwhelmed with the work load. Not only were we now in charge of designing creative for 8 – 10 articles each week, but we also had to create the tile image for each article and mock them up for each update on the homepage, design the hero, and several other pieces that would go on the site and on our social pages. All of this was also on a truncated timeline. We decided that not one designer could keep up with all that work each week, so we split it up as fairly as we could and helped each other out when we needed it. They became weekly integrated marketing campaigns. While the workload was difficult at times, I truly did enjoy the fall trends, including the “fall must have a list”. It is one of the best heroes I’ve done with out our own photoshoot.
Another searsStyle Staffer Challenge came up for fall and I was only too eager to volunteer myself as the photographer again. This time we had our social media expert, Flora, model off all different types of denim. We decided to make this photo shoot more authentic to sears by shooting her downtown chicago. The sears office is just two blocks from Millennium park, where we shot most of the days.
All Good Things Must Come To An End
We always knew Jeremy and I would be moving back to San Francisco and while my team was sad to see me go, it ended up working out perfectly for them too. It’s unfortunate but the team was actually going to downsize in order to cut spending. The business wasn’t seeing enough return on the investment and so they are currently looking at other options on how to keep the blog going on fewer resources. I feel very fortunate to have been here while I was because I truly feel we put out some amazing content and I believe I was there during the “golden age” of searsStyle. I have no idea what the new chapter of searsStyle will look like but I do know that it won’t go away completely. I look forward to watching it change again, because I believe change is good and it leads to new opportunities that one might have missed otherwise.
And so concludes my time working at sears. People keep asking me if I have a job lined up in San Francisco and I am relieved to say that I do have a short 3 week contract with another fashion company designing window displays right when I get there but after that, my plans are not fixed.
I still have the Light Up Your Brand workshop partnership with Travis Brady, of which there is still time to sign up for the online class! If you’re interested in developing a strong, authentically YOU brand, contact me or Travis for more details and we’ll secure your spot.