Well, if that isn’t an understatement! Things have been humming along around here. In fact, I’m at the WordCamp conference this weekend with Blue Storm Creative, Keller Digital and Nolan Lemos. While I’m bowing at the altar of WordPress, here are some cool things that are currently afloat at The Farm:



Like a lot of the beauties in the City of Angels, The Think Farm in the process of getting a much-needed face lift. Check out the look of the new site, and then check back again in the coming weeks because we will only be adding more great things to it.



For the fourth year in a row, The Think Farm had the privilege of designing the Silver Lake Chamber’s annual member directory. As a result, I get a first-hand view of all the cool businesses and entrepreneurs that make our eclectic neighborhood so unique. It also lead to the campaign design for the second annual Best of Silver Lake Awards. You may have seen the poster up in various establishments around town, from Hyperion Public to Knuckle & Claw to Yolk. I’m going to have to nab a poster for myself before they’re all gone!

2015 BOA

By the way, you can vote now for your favorite local businesses until September 30 at the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce website.


Choose Connection Cover - v6b

Nothing makes you feel as legitimate as a book … In this case, a book cover. Though The Think Farm has designed album covers, brochures, and booklets, we’ve never been approached to design an actual book cover until now. The author had a very clear idea of what he wanted so it was a pretty simple design process. I got to hold the prototype in my hands and I was tickled and amazed. “It’s like a real book!” I kept saying to myself. The author, David Giuliano, is diving into the world of self-publishing, and I can’t wait to see the book available for purchase online in the near future. Thanks to Get Rauzi! Editorial Services for the opportunity.



My work on the City of Santa Monica’s 2012 Year End Report opened my eyes to the joys of working with local government organizations. Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but I am completely serious when I say this. This year, I had the pleasure of designing the visual branding for the Regional Park and Open Space District of Los Angeles County and am currently working alongside Business Therapy on a brand overhaul for an organization within the Department of Public Health that’s engaged in youth outreach and sexual/relational health education. I’m excited to share more about this later as the project progresses further. Stay tuned!


Part-time assistant graphic designer Ritzel (who has recently taken over our jinny account, among other things) graduated from the Art Institute with honors in graphic design last week. Congratulations, Ritzel! We’re so, so proud!



The Think Farm had its first-ever happy hour to celebrate the holiday season and make merry with clients, colleagues and friends. There were tunes. There were meatballs. There was spiked hot cider. Thanks to everyone who came out!







By the way, one thing I learned is that bathroom graffiti brings out the adolescent in even the most distinguished of guests:


People often think of the logo development process as a purely visual, design-based pursuit. In truth, the most effective, long-lasting logo systems are those that stem from a thorough exploration of the organization’s DNA. Before talk of color schemes or typography even surface, key questions about the organization’s essence need to be asked. For example, what is the personality of the organization? What does it value? Where is it headed? This may seem pretty obvious but it’s surprising how often an eager organization looking to pull ahead skips the essential step of taking stock of itself, ending up with a logo that ultimately short-changes the organization’s message.

As The Think Farm gets into gear for our portion of the Make Your Mark giveaway, Mac + Cob Business Therapy has already put in long hours to develop a blueprint for the Altadena Urban Farmers Market logo redesign. Sarah “Mac” of Mac + Cob guided a few of the AUFM team members through an enlightening brand exploration exercise, then distilled all the core beliefs, visions and intentions into a cohesive brand strategy. Starting the logo development process from this angle ensures that we focus on and capture the heart and soul of AUFM. This in turn will lead to a finalized logo system that spreads the organization’s core message in a powerful, focused way.

Sarah “Mac” spearheading the branding exploration meeting

The Think Farm and Justin Bilow of AUFM will soon discuss aesthetic values and perspectives to get on the same design page and start honing in on what keywords such as community, sustainability and innovation should look like in the context of AUFM. This next month of logo redesign is sure to be an adventure and we’re very excited!

Take a look at some logos designed by The Think Farm on our Pinterest board. We can’t wait to add the new AUFM logo to our board! Did we mentioned that we’re excited?!

Some time ago, I had the distinct pleasure of creating the branding for a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed husband/wife team now known as Lardon. It was so fun to not only put a face to their clever brand but also to design the wrap for their food truck. I’d spot them while driving around town and, I gotta say, there’s nothing like pointing at a large parked vehicle and exclaiming, “Hey, I designed that!”

Many moons since our initial consultation meeting at LAMILL in Silver Lake, owners Heather and Jerry Crawley are now based in NY and getting ready to take their bacon-tasic enterprise to the next level. In anticipation, Jerry was featured on Conan last night. His segment was full of the usual Conan hilarity and my guess is that he won the hearts and arteries of many new fans across the country! Get in on the Lardon action by signing up on their website now. New things are brewing and you want to be in the know! Fo’ sizzle!

Sarah “Mac” McGowan (of this here Mac+Cob Business Therapy) and Helen Kim (The Think Farm) have been collaborating since they met just a few years ago. Maybe there was something in the air or more probably it was the coffee — but either way, some kind of magical synergy was formed, bringing the two of them together in creative harmony. They both specialize in branding, so what we might have chosen to view as potential competition, they recognized as an incredible opportunity.

Sarah Mac is inspired by the process of transformation — she loves guiding her clients through deep exploration to identify what motivates and drives their work, the dreams that they may have been too busy or afraid to pursue and the achievable plan that will get them there. Helen is an incredibly gifted graphic artist and illustrator. Her easy-going professionalism and intuitive artistry are the hallmarks of her craft — Helen ushers her clients through visual branding that is so much more powerful than just a logo. She articulates vision, passion and mission in clear, thoughtful ways, for her myriad clients.

As we near the finish line for their collaborative branding sweepstakes, Make Your Mark, Sarah and Helen wanted to share a few of the projects they’ve worked on together so far. And because they love surprise bonuses, they decided to ask each other 10 LA-based questions so you can see why they love this city so much and why it was so important for them to give back. Click HERE to see their answers!

The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

The Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce is an organization that is near and dear to our hearts. It is, after all, how Helen and Mac met! (And then there’s the minor detail that Mac’s the President of the Chamber board :) As new members, we both loved how the community-focused spirit of the Chamber made it stand out among a sea of other chambers that are all about “business as usual.” Because of our love for the neighborhood and this unique group, we really wanted the branding to feel more contemporary and akin to the spirit of the hip and eclectic community it represents. Updating the branding for a long-standing organization like this doesn’t happen overnight, and when the time came to produce the 2012 Member Directory, we both felt it was the right time to start testing the waters for a new face and voice for the SLCC. We definitely wanted the directory to be all about the people that make up the business community in Silver Lake so the decision to feature them prominently throughout the booklet was an easy one. We interviewed Chamber members, asking them to tell us in a sentence what Silver Lake means to them. Sarah Mac asked Helen to create digital illustrations to tell the story of Silver Lake business, so with her former assistant Janice Kim, Helen visited member businesses throughout the neighborhood taking photos of the proprietors as well as the people, places and things that make Silver Lake such a unique enclave in the city of LA. Using the established SLCC brand colors, Helen and Janice created photo-realistic portraits and images that were then placed throughout the directory along with quotes about Silver Lake. The final product is not only a useful piece of brand collateral, but it also tells the story of a community filled with people of eclectic perspectives and interests who are equally invested in our vibrant village.

Dr. Brandey Dollens, Chiropractor

When Sarah initially met with Dr. B, all of her promotional collateral was homemade and her overall branding was undifferentiated from all the other chiropractors in her field. Youthful, enthusiastic and endlessly compassionate, Dr. B’s shining personality and genuine care for her patients were glaringly missing from her branding. We both knew she could do better. Dr. B bravely and diligently submitted to Mac’s Business Therapy (SM) process to identify and embrace her target audience, refine her brand identity, develop key messaging and shoot her new photos. Helen then took over, ushering Dr. B through the visual branding process, which resulted in a soothing, crisp palette of cyan and white. Dr. B’s stellar new look and logo finally speak to her dream target — pregnant women, mothers and children.

Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools

When Mac initially met with Tracey Weiss, the Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools Executive Director, she immediately recognized the enormous potential for the school’s rebranding. Though the organization had a well-established reputation in the area for providing excellent outdoor education, its brand had not been updated since its founding in 1979. Affectionately described as “the chicken feet” logo by staff, Exploring New Horizons was poised for a brand new look and a whole lot of growth. After intensive site visits, a 3-hour brainstorming workshop with the Exploring New Horizons naturalists and staff up to develop the working list of concepts and descriptors that ultimately became the basis for our development of their new key messaging, tagline and image, Mac facilitated a half-day retreat for the board to complete this vision work and developed the strategic plan that would guide the rollout of their new look and message across platforms. Helen came on board to give the old logos a sophisticated, California look balanced by kid-friendly type face, executing a bold new color palette. In the process, we reaffirmed what we’ve always known is true — being in nature has the unique ability to inspire, educate, empower and transform!

As we near the end of the final Make Your Mark voting, we’re excited at the possibility of working with any of the amazing organizations who made it to the final round. Visit the Make Your Mark page and vote by April 9th for the organization of your choice. Find official voting images for each organization HERE. Read more about our finalists HERE and HERE.

Ready. Set. Go!

Sarah McGowan is the owner and creative principal at MAC+COB Business Therapy, a Silver Lake-based creative services company specializing in branding, business development, communications and strategic planning. Committed to social justice and community building, Sarah helped create a national best-practices youth court for the city of San Diego, founded a public art program for teens and is the President of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce. She is also the Director of Development for the Echo Park Time Bank and serves on the Board of Directors for Law Project LA. Sarah’s love for language, genuine interest in people and belief in the power of transformation allows her to cultivate meaningful relationships with her clients to help them realize their vision. Sarah also makes a mean strawberry-balsamic jam.

In the final week of voting for the Make Your Mark brand giveaway, we asked our finalists to answer the following three questions:

  1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?
  2. What’s the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?
  3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

We hoped this would give the voters a little more insight into what inspires and motivates them and allow us to explore some of the creative forces at play in each one of these great organizations.

Here are our finalists:
Altadena Urban Farmers’Market
Survivors’ Truths
Viver Brasil
Westside Domestic Violence Network

The last day to cast your vote is April 9th. Be sure to visit our Make Your Mark Facebook page and vote for the organization of your choice on our official voting collage HERE. You can read more about each organization HERE.

Altadena Urban Farmers’ Market

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

Everybody at the market is so encouraging, gracious, and warm. We identify with each other, meet each other’s needs, and discover community. We share that state of understanding that you get when you realize that what you’re doing is a true way to make this a better world to live in.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The outpouring of support and love from the community since the last market in May has been so overwhelming that it kept the heart of the market beating even as people worried that the market was down for the count. This was evident at our interim market last winter. The community’s support for the enterprises that grow in their own (literal and figurative) back yards allowed our veteran vendors to showcase their unmistakable uniqueness. And it gave our newest vendors the encouragement they needed to realize that they could really do this too. The Time Bank also became a newly integral part of the market experience. People who never heard of a time dollar before traded their first ones that day. Patrons were so receptive to and engaged in this new feature of the market. It was less like a neutral space where complete strangers make transactions–and more like a gathering of familiar souls there together to support each other. It made people happy.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

The chicken: it’s a versatile creature that thrives in both urban and rural settings, provides needed sustenance for the community, and makes people happy. Or it could be the biggest and friendliest golden retriever or chocolate lab because at the market it’s friendly, everyone makes you feel welcome, and even if you don’t do anything, there are hugs (tail wags, and doggie kisses), smiles, encouragements and love for everyone! That’s got to be our personality right there. The chicken is what we do. The Golden Retriever is who we are. There’s got to be some kind of hybrid of that animal. The Golden Chicken? The Chicken Retriever? Better yet, the Chocolate Chicken!

Back to list of finalists

Survivors’ Truths

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

I know that how we go about helping people – especially the part of their story we choose to focus on – really, really matters. I see the impact of media and sharing media through social platforms. I believe that bringing together the best of strength-centered social service with social media can lead to significant social change.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

It was amazing to meet and talk with Leymah Gbowee four days before she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. However, what stands out for me is a conversation we had with transgender young people about how we could use media to challenge stigma and discrimination they face. One young woman’s face lit up, “I know what we should call this! ‘It’s time for a change!’” It’s time for a change, indeed.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

A chameleon, because we have a solid core – a clear mission and way of working – but how it looks changes. We adapt each project to reflect and work in line with the community with whom we are working – whether that’s in Liberia, West Africa with peace and reconciliation workers or here in Hollywood with transgender teens.

Back to list of finalists

Viver Brasil

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

The ability to transform and translate ancient tales into contemporary dance theater, that the culture we represent is so full of meaning, magic and so many stories that our artistic possibilities are limitless, that we are finding our potential in the new millennium and encouraging new voices and new artists. That we can make this happen in Los Angeles and take it to the world.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The elder exchanges between Dona Cici and Mainha da Bahia including on stage, during our process, study moments and social moments; receiving a standing ovation from our San Francisco audience before the show was even over; teaching the women at the Downtown Women’s Center – that our movement and classes allowed the women to have moments of transformation and allowed them to forget that their lives were difficult for that hour; that our newest apprentice, Jahanna Blunt is so excited to work with us – that a new generation is coming forth; and our two national tours with a national booking agent.

3. If your organization was an animal, what would it be and why?

Leopards, and shorebirds in flight. The leopard refers to energy and intensity of the movement vocabulary and how the choreographers and dancers attack the movement. The shorebirds in flight refers to the effect this attack has on the viewer, the simultaneity of the fluidity of flight and the sharp and sudden directional changes of a group in unison.

Back to list of finalists

Westside Domestic Violence Network

1. What inspires you to do the work that you do?

Domestic Violence can be seen as a woman’s issue, but I view it as a community issue and a responsibility. Relationships start in the home but then emanate into the public world. The health of the home dictates the health of society. We can see by the horrifying incident in Seal Beach, where Michelle Marie Fournier and 6 others were murdered by her ex-husband, that this issue cannot be relegated as an issue within the confines of the home. It is a matter of community safety. Also, Domestic Violence is an issue that plays out in personal interactions, but whose roots lie systemically in a larger social context. Systemic challenges create an extending “crazy making” process that impede the well being of survivors and their children. This is why the Westside Domestic Violence Network, born from a community movement to improve the local safety net, was created. It seeks to create a higher standard of service by increasing collaboration, networking and overall care.

2. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

The WDVN has been the catalyst for innovative change in our Family Court Advocacy Project and in the Male Violence Prevention Program. The Family Court Advocacy program seeks to gather data in family court to understand DV survivor’s experiences. Knowing that after separation is the most dangerous time for survivors and their children, this seeks to increase safety and the well being of children and their protective parents. The Seal Beach murders are prime example of the risk as the couple were engaged in a custody battle over their son. The Male Violence Prevention Program seeks to reframe how boys are gendered toward aggression and violence and offers to promote male leadership in creating examples of positive maleness. The statistics show that men are, by far, the highest number of perpetrators towards women, AND men. The program’s innovative approach is inspired by the work of Jackson Katz, and seeks to end violence by redefining what it means to be a man.

3. What is the most meaningful event, experience, accomplishment and/or exchange you had last year?

An octopus seems appropriate in our multi pronged approach. Is there an animal that is a cross between an octopus and a cuddly bunny?

Back to list of finalists

Cast your vote by April 9th HERE!

%d bloggers like this: