Updated: May 7
While the world has us slowing down and our future remains open-ended, there’s a sort of beauty that has risen in the collective efforts of pushing through and supporting one another. This new blog series Empire at Home is designed to capture the beauty in today’s efforts among different creatives. That is not to say there isn’t any struggle — there is definitely an array of challenges each of them face — but we want to highlight the daily overcoming of the struggles, celebrate the small wins, and show their transcendence from one outlook to another.
We hope that by showing how these creatives are pushing on, you are inspired to keep pushing on too in building your Empire while at home.
Up first in Empire at Home are our friends Jess Tse & Kev Wong of Open Daily.
Open Daily is a design studio that helps nourish businesses— especially in the food industry— through their clean detail-oriented designs. As Jess put it, they “solve problems with design.”
Their approach to this new era called Shelter in Place stems from kindness, supporting their friends, and proactively learning.
We should note that Jess & Kev were already accustomed to working from home prior to Shelter in Place; They transformed their Oakland studio into a headquarters that exudes the freshness of their aesthetic taste with branded murals they painted themselves.
They did make small WFH adjustments, however, to better care for each other in these confusing times. They give each other more space while also openly communicating and putting in more effort & time to understand one another's needs. Jess even continues her therapy appointments via phone calls in the car to maintain that private time.
Working from home may not serve as a new challenge for Open Daily but the state of their clients’ businesses has fluctuated their own work flow. Upon hearing about the pandemic, they were scared especially because of how heavy the food industry is being impacted.
"We had a bunch of bigger projects for people who were in the process of opening their own shop..." said Kevin, "but when everything hit, that all went out the window so that really sucked"
Those missed projects may be missed business opportunities but they hit Open Daily on a personal level. Rather than focusing on the effects this has on their own business, Jess & Kev made sure they check-in with their clients individually to show that they are continuing to support them. Jess emphasized that:
With everything going on, it's really showing us the importance of maintaining relationships through human kindness.
Setting schedules with personal rituals and making time for rest is also part of Open Daily's formula in getting through this storm. Jess relies on her morning walks with Chibi and her morning coffee to feel ready for the day to start.
Kevin, on the other hand, is dependent on music to put him in the right zone for whatever's in front of him (while explaining, he laughed and mentioned that Jess hates it because she's more of an NPR listener for focusing.)
While the two continue productivity in this time, they both recognize the importance of taking breaks.
It's okay to do nothing
Jess stated. She stressed that you've got to give yourself breaks, otherwise, you'll hit mental exhaustion. So let's say it one more time: It's okay to do nothing.
Rest looks different for different people, even between these two. Because Kev's work is heavily digital, one of his sources of rest is to sketch. Jess, on the other hand, finds solace in the kitchen. Whether it be cooking or even tidying up the kitchen, this is her source of peace.
Pesto pasta with goose egg from Magnolia Mini Mart in West Oakland
Between managing their business and taking care of themselves, Jess and Kev are proactively using this time to learn and reach out, two things they advise other creatives to do too.
They encourage others to take advantage of online classes out right now because -- as Kev put it -- you can learn "new skills for your arsenal." He also encourages artists to take classes to be open and find joy in the learning. (It's already a stressful time -- don't join things if... as Marie Kondo would say...they don't spark joy.)
Here are some of the drawings that Jess made for a Skillshare
And from Kev:
Another tip they had for creatives was to reach out to people! Whether it be someone you've admired, someone you haven't spoken to in a while-- reach out.
"Don't be scared to slide into the DM's," Jess laughingly said. They further explained how folx are more responsive right now because they've got the time. The way they see it, other creatives are resources for advice, getting feedback from, and simply having conversations with.
This pandemic isn't stopping Jess and Kev from being Open Daily (pun intended) and they're excited to "hit the ground running" in showing the world more of who they are behind the brand when it's over.
In the meantime, check out their work and reach out. Like Jess said, don't be afraid to slide into the DM's. If you wanna reach out to these two-- whom are both hella friendly, and as I said in the beginning, are approaching Shelter in Place with kindness-- you can here.