2015 in Retrospect
2015 was one of the best and most frustrating years yet. We saw so much growth and have so much to be thankful for, but most everything that happened wasn’t necessarily things we had planned on, nor were assuming would happen. We tried the best we could to take a photo-booth strip each month, as we had done previous years. We were only one short in 2015, missing March. March was when things really started picking up for us, so it makes sense we missed it. We have a lot planned for our future. Sharing more of our life and projects with more transparency in mind is the way we would like to proceed. We want to be more involved in the online community, in our local community, and make many more new friendships and partnerships in the future. To do that, I want to first share where we have come from in the past year, what opportunities we have been afforded, the awesome people and brands we have worked with, as well as some of the difficulties we have faced along the way.
We returned to writing on Endlessly in March after a brief hiatus, where we redesigned the navigation, as well as the look and feel of our journal. Instead of self coding and using a template like I did the first time I set it up, I chose to hire out an established designer and coder. This took more time and money than it would have if I did it myself, but dammit if it didn’t turn out way better than if I did it. We relaunched on March 10th, and were so excited to be back at it. We started our year with high hopes.
I started my Masters of Business Admin with a concentration in Marketing at the end of 2014. It was the first time in a long time I had to re-learn how to be in school full time and work full time, as well as doing our own projects. It was a little nerve wrecking to begin with, but once I got the hang of it, we could return to our creative endeavors. 2014 was a rough year for Jade’s health. Lots of doctor appointments. A lot of resting. We wanted 2015 to be our busiest and most healthy year yet. We decided at the beginning of the year that we were going to be as hands on as we could with our blogging and social media feeds, which lead to me being more involved in helping Jade negotiate more social media influencer partnerships on Instagram as well as through our projects on our journal. Jade has grown a significant following on Instagram, garnering a now over 80 thousand followers, just from sharing her projects, photography, illustrations and curated everyday life. I have never gotten more use out of my education as I have with this MBA, and our collaborating on all the influencer opportunities this year has put that knowledge to work. The year proved to be filled full of projects and collaboration, keeping us busy every step of the way.
A project we had been working on since the end of the prior year, and had a coincided release with the relaunch of Endlessly was the Portland City Guide. We collaborated with our friends Stefan & Eva of Trotter Magazine, where they commissioned us to scout, select, and curate a collection of shops, cafes, restaurants and the like to create the ultimate guide to visiting Portland. This lead to our shooting over 20 different interiors and providing concise descriptions of each, capturing exactly what is so captivating about them. It was a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and communication with members of our community, and we hope we get to work with them all again soon. We met up with the Trotter duo when we went to New York a few months before the relaunch, and some of the first content we shared during was from our trip. With a trip to New York on our heels, we wanted to travel even more in 2015. We did get to take one incredible international trip, but did not get to fit in as many smaller adventures in as we wanted. We know, however, that 2016 will be filled with even more of what we aimed to do last year. Cities like London, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Maui, Paris & the Amalfi Coast are just a few of the places we have been dreaming and talking about visiting or revisiting. We know we will make many of them happen this year.
My day job was looking up at the beginning of the year. I got a long awaited promotion, then shortly after got a raise too. I was however promised a higher raise, but when the paperwork finally went through, it was less than what they promised me. I’m usually not one to complain about getting a bump in salary regardless of amount, but whe you are promised one thing and given another, its hard to not be disappointed. For those who don’t know, I worked at a marketing automation software firm, which was a huge opportunity for me. I had a major career change a few years back from going to school to be a high school educator to changing course and going into marketing. When you live through a recession, your goals have to change. Getting the opportunity to work at this marketing automation software firm was a big first step in changing my career path. The Portland office had just been opened a year or so prior, so it was small and growing. But with every growing entity, there are bound to be growing pains and mistakes along the way. During my raise debacle early on the year, my mentor and manager resigned from his position. This lead the company to hire someone who was ill-prepared to be the new acting manager, which began a long string of mistakes that lead to me to being overworked and looking for new opportunities outside of the company later in the year.
With the disheartening situation in my day job, Jade and I focused more of our time on creating new projects and partnerships with local and national brands to expand both of our own resumes. Jade was commissioned to work on a collaborative, illustration project in honor of The Decemberists getting their own citywide holiday in Portland. It was an awesome accomplishment I still tell people about today. Jade’s work is featured with the likes of illustrator and author Carson Ellis, hanging in Portland City Hall. Shortly after this opportunity, Jade was asked to attend the All About That Base tour and meet and promote pop star, Meghan Trainor. During this first quarter of 2015, we were also working on other campaign collaborations with brands such as Fossil, Cupcake Vineyards, Motorola, Bridge & Burn, and Jade even got the opportunity to do a social media illustration collaboration with cookbook author and photographer Linda Lomelino. Jade established partnerships with influencer agencies such as Instabrand and Hello Society, which provided even more opportunities to work with bigger brands and companies. She has been creating and making more illustrations in the past year than she has in a long time, which makes me absolutely gitty, since I’m her biggest fan. She started 2015 by creating an Instagram hashtag called #JadeIllustrates, and began occasionally selling pieces via Instagram, so follow her if you aren’t already to yourself and original.
By the early Spring, we began to get into the planning stages of our next international trip. After much consideration, we knew that we needed to go back to London. Our last trip to London was only a week long, far too short to get over jet lag and really enjoy all we wanted. This trip had to be at least two weeks. So in the midst of school, work, and our other assorted projects, we began plotting our next London adventure. In the same week we began this, Jade was asked to represent Canon at their “Canon: Bring It” event hosted at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. Yet another awesome opportunity. She ended up being sick the week of the event, but the incredibly strong and resilient individual she is, she gathered her strength and made it work regardless. If it would have been me, I would have called it off, but I have never been as strong as she. With all of the new work we were producing and positive industry buzz it was generating at this point in the year, Jade was asked to do an interview with The Style Line, which talked about her personal style influences as well as how she incorporates her art into her daily look. Jade’s health was improving, I was moving along through my Maters with more ease than ever, and we were ready for what the summer had to bring.
We were all set to pack up and head to the beach once the summer came around. When it came, however, it brought a heat wave that pretty much knocked us on our asses. Hot weather has never been either of our friend. We would rather sit inside in the air conditioning doing nothing than go out to burn and sweat. It wasn’t the normal type of warm summer weather we usually get in Portland either, but was in the 90’s pretty much the whole summer long. This lead to many iced coffees, hanging out in café’s and shops around town, along with reading lots of good books. Though we weren’t able to make our small adventures work out, we turned our attention to diving into written adventures. Jade finished several books this year, where I as per the usual, started like five books but have never gotten to the end of any of them! I finish my MBA in March this year, so I will have lots of free time to focus on catching up on all my personal half finished projects and books.
2015 provided some unplanned occasions for me that helped with not being able to go on more road-trips though. I saw The Decemberists thanks to Jade doing that project with them. Blew my mind. Then Jade did a project with Pabst Blue Ribbon, which got me tickets to go see Weezer! I had been trying to see both bands since high school, so I was extremely jazzed when I found out Jade got tickets out of each job. Just one of the benefits of being married to an awesome industry talent with the high end hook ups. Following the awesome concerts, we worked on some of the biggest projects during late summer/early fall, which was a major world-wind. A couple different projects with HP. A stunning project with Nordstrom, where Jade got a shopping spree, and shared the looks she pieced together for their new Fall Line as well. I had an enormous amount of fun with this project because I got to shoot the majority of it. Something I struggle with constantly is improving my photography skills, and this project really put me to the test. I still have a ways to go, but with opportunities like this one, I am improving everyday.
That awesome project attracted the even more attention to what she has been doing and lead to her getting featured in the August 2015 issue of Marie Claire Magazine, and then a full page interview in Hemispheres Magazine in September. We kept having people text or email us saying “hey… I think I saw you in a magazine the other day…” I would always proudly confirm these inquiries, which gave me even more opportunity to brag about my cool best friend. Accompanying these great features were other collaboration opportunities with Hatchery, Schoolhouse Electric, Travel Portland, several fashion brands and watch companies, and the soda brand Zevia. We only accepted projects that would fit well with our general artistic outlook and creative aesthetic, and actually had to turn down jobs that simply did not fit. It’s really strange to turn down certain opportunities, but when a teeth whitening brand wants to do a project with you and you have no use for it nor does it coincide with your overall goals, you have to learn how to say thanks, but no thanks. Then right before our trip to London, which was scheduled for mid September, Jade was contacted by the brilliant Emily Elyse Miller from Trends on Trends, who commissioned her to create over 20 illustrations for five separate dinner events hosted in major cities across the US. In the midst of our packing and planning our last minute details for heading to London for a couple weeks, Jade was nose to the grindstone, churning out some of the most brilliant and inspired work I had seen her create in ages. She completed the last couple pieces and sent it off to Emily on the eve of our jumping on a plane to leave the country. It was exhausting and thrilling all at the same time. Jade’s work ethic and ability to strive under pressure never ceases to amaze me. One of the many reasons I am so proud to call her my partner and why I love to work with her.
But you know, though we have had some really awesome things happen in 2015, it doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of down times too. Jade and I both struggle with depression and anxiety, which can be extremely weighing, whatever the situation. Even when things are going really well, you can’t control getting anxious about the stack of work weighing on your shoulders, or being depressed for sometimes no reason at all. That’s the way depression and anxiety works. It can sneak attack you when you least expect it. Though it does seem like these sort of issues are becoming more socially acceptable to talk about in todays society, there is still so much judgment toward those who suffer from them. Suffering from these sorts of troubles doesn’t make us any less thankful for the tremendous opportunities that come our way, but it can make it really hard to enjoy the spoils of your hard work sometimes or makes it harder to not dwell on past shortcomings. Jade has a much harder time dealing with this sort of thing than I do, admittedly, which is why I think it is so important that we are a constant support system for each-other. On days when Jade is feeling her lowest, I am there to make sure things get done or am there by her side offering whatever support I can. When I have 3 work deadlines, a couple of MBA projects to turn in, and am feeling like I can’t handle any of it at the point of breaking down, Jade is there to talk me through it, help me plan my time accordingly, and get my head back on straight. Even planning our trip to London, something that was going to be 100% fun for us made me anxious at one point or another. Planning big things can be extremely stressful. Its silly really, but sometimes you can’t control those feelings of anxiety. This is yet another reason why I am thankful we have each other as a continued support system. It’s something I wish everyone had in their time of need.
Our trip to London was ultimately a time for us to unwind and take our minds off the daily grind we had been so entrenched in the whole year. I won’t share too much about London, however, since we have plenty of new content surrounding it to come on Endlessly. Overall, it was an awesome adventure and we were so thankful to have been able have it as part of our 2015 memories. We even got the opportunity to work on some awesome collaborations while we were there, and got to hang out with some new friends we had never met in person. When we arrived home, we didn’t necessarily have a feeling of being well rested. We both felt a little aimless I think. There were some things weighing on us, some things up in the air, which had not found any final resolve. Before our trip, I had applied for a new position at my day job, one which would have been a challenge suited for my experience and education. I was waiting to hear if I got it, and had decided that if I didn’t, it was time I started looking for new opportunities elsewhere. There was too much being mismanaged within the Portland branch, my whole team was being overworked, the management was ineffective, and we were severely understaffed where upper management was failing to see the shortcomings and act accordingly. They had burned me too many times, and I just needed a needle to break the camels back. That needle came after our trip when they told me that I didn’t get the position I applied for. The hiring manager told me that I was perfectly qualified, even overqualified, and they though all my ideas for the new position were brilliant, but they went with someone else instead. The person they chose ended up being one of my coworkers who I am pretty close with, so I really wasn’t hurt that it didn’t go to me. I rather have someone I know who would do a good job get the opportunity, if it wasn’t going to be me. At that point, I followed through on my word. It was time to move on.
Working at this firm afforded me a lot of specialized skills that are very rare and very valuable in todays digital marketing world. The last time I looked for a job was in 2013, end of the recession, and it took me 8 months to find anything after I got my Bachelors. There use to be a promise of getting a job once you graduated college, but that was only a idealistic dream when I came out of school. Finding this job at this new firm gave me a new set of skills on top of my degree and experience, where it only took me about a month to find another job in 2015 however. In fact, I didn’t find them, they found me. I had worked all year restructuring and adding new elements to my Linked In profile, beefing it up to market myself correctly in a modern way, and if not for my dedication to making it a priority, I don’t think I would have found a new position so quickly. The company I work for now is a digital marketing firm, something I have been wanting to work at for ages. They contacted me via Linked In, flew me to the Bay Area to interview me, and gave me an offer I pretty much could not refuse. I would be able to work remotely, meaning work from my home office. I would get a senior title (something I was told I would get at my last job but never got it). I would be an actual contributing member to a growing team where my input would be valued, and my skills utilized as much as possible. To top it all off, they offered me a 45% increase in salary compared to what I was currently making at my previous position. It was pretty much a no brainer for me. I didn’t really plan on changing positions as soon as I did, mainly because I thought it may take a little longer to get another job, but I put my new skills to work for me and reeled in a big one. It was a relief and surprise; one I had to quickly adapt to.
During this transition period of moving from one job to the next, Jade and I managed to reel in some new projects for her as well. We worked on campaign projects for Kathy Davis brand, Polaroid, and Bowers & Wilkins. Then Emily of Trends on Trends, the darling she is, commissioned Jade again to create the illustrated items for the menu of a neighborhood guide she was working on for The West House Hotel in New York. With the news of my new job and working from home, we knew that our home would need to transition to suit our new work from home situation. We bought our first brand new couch and an actual office chair, which thrilled me to no end. We had hand-me-down furnishings before that, and boy does it feel great to have places to sit that you picked out yourselves. I never thought I could have so much fun visiting furniture stores, honestly, but once we were out in the thrall of it, I really hit my stride. I can identify a chaise lounge from a hundred yards away now. I mean, I even know what a chaise lounge is! I wanted to share our newly refurnished home with everyone! In the wake of our home coming together, Jade was asked to be in the first issue of Aglow Magazine, for their A Day in the Life spread, which even feature a few photos of of our home. If you would like to preorder a copy, they will be released this January!
So what started as not knowing what we would do after our London trip in mid Fall turned into things starting to come together again. That is one of the hardest parts about doing freelance work; you never know where or when the next job will come. Another reason why one of having a stable day job is still so important. Sure, I would love to quit my day job and focus solely on the creative work we do, but until healthcare is nationalized and we have jobs lined up for a couple years in the future, that won’t happen anytime soon. We have some really big goals for ourselves and even bigger dreams, so rolling with the punches of freelance work can be wearing. Jade’s being a freelance artist hasn’t been the easiest either, especially trying to start a freelance art career during the recession. She graduated from her BFA in 2009, mid-recession, and had to deal with a few false starts among dealing with health complications from her immune disease. We’ve been trying to make the past couple years after starting Endlessly be our new start, though things have been slow going. There is no plan or structure given to you on how to create a thriving freelance career. The majority of it is work as long and hard as you can and hopefully something pays off. More has paid off in 2015 than any of our previous years, but we are aiming higher. I don’t think wanting more for ourselves or setting bigger goals or working on our dreams is too much to ask out of life. Everyone wants for something. Everyone has a dream. We are just not going to let anything stand in our way.
In the last couple months of 2015, we took a bit of a break from posting content on Endlessly. I had been getting used to my new job, which has definitely been more fulfilling and less frustrating than the last. We have focused on the last few projects we had come our way at the end of the year, and had to reorganize some of our priorities due to some strange misfortune that came our way. The second week of my new job in early November, my car got stolen. I noticed it was missing when I went out to go get lunch one day. I searched around our neighborhood for 20 minutes thinking I may have forgot where I parked, but no. It was gone. I had to spend the rest of the day on the phone with the police. Surprisingly, the police recovered it in the condition it was stolen by the end of that day. We were extremely thankful to get it back, because we really thought it was gone for good. It was extremely rattling. I had been talking about getting a new car for ages, but I thought it getting stolen would be the straw that broke the camels back.
Not a week after it was stolen, someone threw a grapefruit sized rock through the back, passenger side window. I had it parked out in front of our building, right where it had been stolen from, and someone thought it okay to vandalize it. I don’t know if it was the people who stole it or someone else. There wasn’t anything inside to be stolen. It was likely a random act of pointless vandalism, but the strangest part was this happened within a week of my car getting stolen. This lead to our having a serious talk about living in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood in the middle of the city, and if it is worth sticking around to wait for a cange. We both realized that we don’t need to live in the middle of the city anymore, since we both work from home. In my last job, I walkd to work everyday, so living here was a major convenience. Now there is literally nothing and no one tying us down to where we live, save for the lease which is up in March of 2016. We are beginning our hunt now for new places on the outskirts of the city, plus shopping for a new car with better security.
Following that strange and disappointing occurrence, Jade was contacted by Food & Wine Magazine to create a holiday themed illustration commission which kind of came out of nowhere in December. We were both thrilled she got to work with such an awesome entity, but there was a rush for the project, and that centered around the holidays is always bound to be a little anxiety ridden. There was some exceptional news which happened around this time in the form of Jade being featured on two Instagram’s holiday features, where she was listed as one of the individuals to be aware of for holiday inspiration. The theme of the first feature was ‘A Food Lovers Thanksgiving’ and the second was ‘On the Table.’ Accompanying this, she was also named as one of Instagram’s Recommended User’s, which almost doubled her already hug following. When a lot of the business you do is centered around content creation and the online world, features like this are incredibly momentous. Coupled with the last few end of year jobs that came around, it made for a lot of positivity ending the year.
Our capturing ourselves in photo-booth strips throughout the year was our way of taking at least moment each month to go to one of our favorite spots, The Ace Hotel Lobby, have some fun taking photos, making goofy faces and spend some time together enjoying what we have. If you aren’t making time to enjoy life every once in a while, you’ll find yourself wearing yourself out from work and the daily grind and losing out on what you could have been truly enjoying. Last year went by so fast and we accomplished so much, but we have our sights set on the future. We have goals of blogging more regularly, sharing more of what we do and who we are, as well as making time to go on trips and enjoy life in between the thrall of work and school a priority. We have been much more active on Snapchat the past few months, and welcome you to follow along on our daily Snapchat Stories. Jade’s user name is jademsheldon and mine is cory_burnsed. We also are on the cusp of launching a Youtube Channel, where we plan on releasing weekly vlogs where we show more of the work we do, share our thoughts on life, and feature all the places we love and discover. You can follow the channel before it launches.
We know 2016 is going to be extremely busy, but we are determined to get the most out of it and be the best versions of ourselves we can be during. We hope your 2015 was as fulfilling and much less frustrating than ours, and your new year brings you more happiness and fulfillment than you ever thought imaginable.