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November Employee Spotlight: Rachael Heslop
The third time’s the charm, right? Natalie Bragg and Joe Morgan were interviewed for the spotlight in September and October, respectively, and the charming Rachael Heslop was randomly selected for November’s post. When I asked her if she’d be willing to take part, she sweetly replied that she would love to, despite an irrational fear that she’d have nothing interesting to share.
Rachael is a pleasure to be around. I work with her fairly closely since we’re in the same department, but I was still looking forward to picking her brain. Her outlook on life is extremely positive, which you can tell after just a few moments with her. Though she joined the Red Nova Labs team in August, she’s quickly demonstrated her superb design abilities through her completion of the RNL website redesign, a new WebReady template, countless client requests, and more. She’s proven to be an excellent addition to the company. Plus, she’s absolutely delightful. What else could you ask for?
Amy: The first thing I notice from your bio is “Rachael has always known her future was in the creative field.” Were you doodling as a kid and always into art?
Rachael: Yes. For a long time I thought music was going to be my thing, but I’ve always been a creative person. From the beginning, art was always my favorite class in school and I was always making birthday cards, illustrating my own books and just drawing all over the place, all the time. My family has a whole collection of my own line of cards from over the years with the Hallmark logo scribbled on the back. I was a very detail-oriented kid.
A: You’ve mentioned before that you have a brother in law school. Have your parents ever given you a hard time for choosing the artistic path?
R: Not at all. They’ve been really supportive, and I don’t think they’ve ever tried to sway me in a different direction, because they’ve always known that I’m visually driven. At one point, I thought I would go into music education but art is just always where my passion has been. Both of my siblings play instruments and are talented across the board, but they’ve typically based their interests around science, math, and facts. Not me. They had several different ways they could go in college, but I was confident that design was where it was for me.
A: When you were thinking about pursuing music, what instruments were you playing?
R: I played piano and I sang. I really miss being involved with music and I sometimes wish I had kept with it. I was playing piano from the time I was six until I was a sophomore in high school, and I sang in high school and a little in college. My sophomore year I decided to switch from choir to journalism so that I could apply for yearbook. I became one of the yearbook editors and spent my after school hours with a group of girls geeking out about fonts and colors. That’s when I knew creative people were my people and it was the deciding factor for pursuing design in college.
A: And, who knows, maybe you’ll get back into music one day. One thing I’ve pieced together is that you’re the oldest child in your family. How do you like that?
R: I used to not like it because I was the guinea pig for rules my parents put into place – plus I was a girl. My brother got to do things that I didn’t get to do – not fair! For example, I always had a curfew of 10 p.m., but my brother could stay out however long he wanted. Now, because my brother and sister are both in school I get one-on-one time with my parents for the first time since I was 3, so that’s been really fun. Growing up, I was closer with my mom, but buying a condo recently has allowed me to spend a lot of time renovating and working on projects together with my dad, so we’ve developed this whole new relationship. I’m enjoying playing the only child role for now.
A: Coming from a family of six, I bet it’s nice to have some personal time with your parents! So, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done with your siblings?
R: I don’t know about weirdest thing, but we’re all going to be home for Thanksgiving and we’re going to a Third Eye Blind concert together. We’ve typically always had different interests and done our own things, but now that we’re getting older, we’re getting a lot closer. I have a thing for 90s music, and I don’t know where along the way they started liking the same music as me, but it’s something fun that we all have in common now.
A: What is your favorite thing to put on waffles?
R: Let’s see, I like peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella… Yeah, nut butters are kind of my thing. I make my own almond butter about once a month. I just love breakfast for every meal of the day. I also put eggs on pretty much anything and call it a meal.
A: Do you ever put egg on your waffle?
R: Yeah, I probably have before. I’m also really into chicken and waffles. The first time I had it was at Jazzoo a few years ago. It’s a charity event at the zoo where restaurants around Kansas City set up booths with miniature plates of their dishes for you to try. Gram & Dun had a booth with these tiny pieces of chicken on little miniature waffles and it was the cutest thing. Beer Kitchen has a really good chicken and waffle, too.
A: We’ll have to get the office to go try them! My next question is a little off topic. Do you have any big design projects in your mind that you would like to accomplish in your free time someday?
R: Oh yeah. There are a lot of those. One of them is to design a cookbook. I love food and I love food photography so much. Let’s definitely put that out there so that someone on the Internet will find this interview and ask me to collaborate with them! I got a camera a few years back that I’m still learning and I am attempting my own cookbook as a Christmas gift for my family with recipes that have been passed down throughout the years. I also do some illustrating and painting. One day soon, I’d like to open my own online shop for prints. Graphic design is very client based, which is good because it’s structured and I need that sometimes. But, as an artist, you need that creative outlet to do whatever you want – which is often much harder. Sometimes I start projects and never get around to finishing them because life interrupts the process, but I would love to dedicate more energy to painting. It’s a great release for me.
A: That would be really fun. Now, you touched on this a bit earlier, but one thing I’ve always noticed with designers is the back and forth that can happen with the client. Do you ever find that frustrating, or is that rewarding for you?
R: Well, without clients, we wouldn’t have a job! I think the process depends on how it is handed to the client in the first place, along with the information we provide them. The process will go as smooth as you create it to be, and that’s something our account managers do a great job of. Ultimately, the purpose of design is to make other people happy. It’s their project and their brand that we’re working toward. You have to take into account that most people think they know what they want, but they don’t know all of the possibilities and that’s what we’re here for! Being a designer doesn’t just mean you have to be able make things look pretty; you’re solving a problem for the client. It a combination of giving them what they want and what you think they need.
A: I think that’s a wonderful perspective to have. Now, there’s just one more question: who do you think is the most interesting person in the office? And why?
R: There are so many awesome people here! I know that Dan mentioned at one point living by a phrase that goes something like “shoot first, aim later” and it has been in the back of my mind ever since. I am such a planner and am very detail oriented when it comes to my personal brand and the way I put myself and my work out into the universe. Sometimes I’m doing so much “aiming” that it prevents me from the “shooting” part. His outlook is something that I’m aiming to adapt. Thanks for the inspiration, Dan!