On Business + Ethics, part 1


Pretty much every business resource I’ve come across pretty much always mentions the famed Seth Godin at some point or another. For good reason, he knows what’s up and delivers the message clearly, simply, and without guise. I saw his post Enough Ethics? on twitter last week, and clicked on it because the title confused me. I interpreted it as suggesting that there are TOO many ethics in business. Wait what?! Turns out, it was the opposite, phew. It’s really about the importance of being ethical rather than acting exclusively in service of what makes most financial sense. That’s definitely something I can get behind. Seth doesn’t really get into how, though, or even that “ethics” are a term rife with interpretation. Everyone’s personal code is going to vary so it’s a real slippery topic. Further complicating is how few businesses disclose their ethical practices, or display different ones behind closed doors and non-disclosure agreements. That is something I do not want to be associated with, so I’m writing this in the interest of fostering more transparency. This’ll be a series. Consider this part one. 😀

  1. 1 / Compensation
  2. Work will be accepted in exchange only for the most competitive wages possible, in equal trade of goods or services, or for class credit. No unpaid labor, internships or apprenticeships, and no nickel-and-diming people to drive down their rates, both of which contribute to the wage gap. Pay people what they ask for, by the due date requested. Some salary negotiation is acceptable at large businesses or places employing more than 10 or 15 people, but aggressive negotiation, or doing so with small businesses is a useless power play. No one needs that.

2 / Kaizen
Japanese concept that strives to make constant small improvements in the workplace and the self. As a work process, it is lean and geared for timely delivery without undue steps or stress on workers. In other words no busy work, overcomplicating, or 5-alarm deadlines.

3 / Privilege
Being aware of cultural appropriation. Work inspired by other cultures is possible if done in one’s own unique manner, in a respectful, educated way, with credit due to the original style or concept (see illustration above). Educating myself every day about how to be a better human. Working with a mix of non-profits and cultural organizations to actively engage with the world’s causes even in a behind-the-scenes way. Not crediting imagery or ripping off other’s work. Making sure there is a fair representation of people in the work product too, because representation matters. Treating my clients and staff with the same level of esteem, because our roles may be reversed some day. Being accessible to feedback so no one is afraid to give me the real talk. And then quick with a meaningful apology if I’m in the wrong and rapidly correcting course. There’s endless ways to check one’s privilege, so being on the look out constantly for new ways to do what I can to make sure people are being heard, seen, and respected in any context.


4 / Wabi Sabi
Because we’re human, having some flexibility and considering all accidental developments. It’s the pursuit of honest work while celebrating anti-perfectionism. Sometimes these chance occurrences can really breathe life into a piece, or alter the direction entirely. It can be hard to accept at times, so it requires open expectations. It also creates a culture where no one is shamed for their mistakes.


I’ve got a handful more of these ideals, many of which come from Japanese culture, but I’m dying to hear what you have to say on this subject too. Comment on your ethical requirements below, or send @pitchdesign on twitter. Better experiences await us all with more discussion on these things, so don’t hesitate to share. You can also email me directly if you prefer to share in a less public environment.

{Image credits: my own. Photo of Seth from here.}

Week of 8/1/16

Bits and bobs for you this week.

+ Even though Massachusetts has just made it illegal to ask about your previous salary, I still think employers will try to find creative ways to bring up the topic. Here are some excellent answers when someone asks for your salary requirements.

Margot Harrington - Pitch Design Union

+ This is the first ever paid editorial illustration I’ve had published! It was so fun and I hope to do more. Thank you, Intercom! Check the post and see it large and in charge. Intercom is hiring in Chicago if anyone is looking for a new jorb.

endiveicecream peamandms

+ Low Commitment Projects are my kind of projects. They make me laugh every time. I’ve posted about them before but this year sees them sharing new projects every week. Like this series of mispackaged foods, too clever.


+ I love this #stylechallenge on Instagram where illustrators are remaking themselves in popular cartoon styles, but showing way more types of people. Shows how deeply representation matters and how little there is in pop culture. Started by 17-year-old artist Autumn Massaquoi because she “loves that with cartoons there are no limits to what you can create.” Wise words indeed. Click the images above to view each artist, and see more artists here and here.

Word-Free Pomodoro Playlist


Playlist time again! This is for you folk who can’t listen to anything with words when you work. This list is part contemporary classical, part electro, with a little bit of French flair. But not too chill because otherwise, it’s sleepy times. Okay, there is one song with words, but hopefully less you speak French it’s pas de problème. 

/ What’s Pomodoro? Get the backstory here /

Black Creatives Giving Me Life

Because Chicago is generally crazy segregated (still) (it’s complicated), it’s a priority for me to seek out and support the work of marginalized groups and people of  color to help offset the ingrained politics of our city. And because there is so much pain and heartbreak in the world right now (France again too, omg, I’m so sorry for you) let’s get some beauty and joy in our brains and eyeballs right now.

Janice Bond
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Janice is an artist, curator, and lecturer. These are some images from her Beyond the Binary series which celebrates the all the gray areas of gender, sexuality, race, and body type. You can see her latest newsletter & subscribe here. Janice invited me to her quarterly meet up of lady artists, designers, and women-run businesses last week at Soho House. This event fell on the same day as the murder of Philando Castile, and while the difficult events of the week went unspoken, this experience was clearly a balm for all of us. Thank you Janice, for providing community and solidarity on this tough day.

Tkumah Sadeek

Singer Tkumah is booking shows in Chicago and everywhere. Her voice is sweet and smooth, it’s impossible to be blue when listening to her. Don’t sleep on this one!

Kenesha Sneed

Designer, Illustrator, and Ceramics! Multi-talents in this one, there’s no end to what Kenesha can do. Check this blurb on her in the New York Times.


James & Cher got to be on Chicago’s independent radio station, Vocalo, this week talking about this project and it made me real happy. Postloudness is a podcast collective showcasing queer, female, and voices of color. Covering tech, pop culture, personal finance, and self-care, there’s something for everyone here.

Deun Ivory Photography

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New transplant to Chicago from Houston, Deun is looking for portrait, fashion, and wedding gigs. Hire her! Her instagram is so good I have no words.

Lauren Ash

It’s because of Lauren that I met Deun, but Lauren’s work is equally important. Yoga, meditation, wellness, and lifestyle goals right here. Listen to her podcast, Black Girl in Om, or book her for a workshop or private consulting sesh to get your mind and body on track.

Tomorrow Looks Bright

Showcasing black female creatives the world over, get some super talents in your inbox on the weekly. Like this recent edition all about black lady DJs. Edited by black graphic designer Kristy Tillman, you’re missing out if you don’t sign up!

Clearly, this is only a handful. There amount of amazing people to know and share is endless. If you know or follow anyone key, put ’em in the comments and I’ll update the post or do another one! Do it for this moment in our history right now, if nothing else.

Take care out there everyone. I’m sending you along with my best vibes today. <3

6 Days of Paris Art & Culture

In one of those rare opportunities, after much adance planning, last week I went to Paris with my mom. We went to celebrate her retirement from teaching, and because my mom is an Emily Dickinson fan, she wanted to attend the International Emily Dickinson Society’s annual conference. Which just so happened to be at Paris’ Cite Universitaire this year. Other than going as a support and guide for my mom, I took it as a chance for business and cultural research, continuing education for myself and work. Here are some of the best visual bits from the trip.

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Le Papier Tigre
A shop run by graphic designers, this place is must-visit for any designer or stationery nut, and it exceeded all my expectations. Not just fun notebooks and writing utensils, but many items incorporated origami and interesting folds, quite literally pushing the envelope on correspondence.

Beyond the paper products, there were soaps, candles, perfumes (so many fragrance options in Paris!) and other self-care products all designed with the same style so everything went well together. I found the prices of everything very reasonable too. Not sure if it was on account of Brexit, which occurred while we were there, but the Euro and the dollar were nearly the same. Lucky in the short-term!!

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Au Petit Bonheur La Chance
Vintage French school and office supplies! My love for office supplies is pretty well documented, so this was a no-brainer. Interesting postage and rubber stamps, notebooks, vintage rolling papers, stickers, notions, and plenty of other oddities to build out my collection and inspire typography layouts. It’s a tiny shop, but worth the visit as the street it’s on is full of other great boutiques and interesting alleyways for further daydreaming.

Paul Klee at le Centre Pompidou. I’d already visited most of the major Paris museums years ago, but this was my first visit here. It didn’t disappoint and wasn’t even terribly busy (maybe everyone was elsewhere watching the France vs the Netherlands Eurocup match). We came for the Paul Klee show and enjoyed the huge Beat Generation show as a bonus.

Familiar, but not super in-depth on Klee’s work, the biggest take away I got was the stylistic overlap in his works to cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism. Interestingly, his body of work feels cohesive despite covering these disparate movements that don’t always jive visually. My personal favorites are his colorful geometric pieces like these.


If you follow me on Instagram, you can tell exactly why I like this kind of work from the painting and personal work I share there.

The Beat Generation show was about exploring this cultural movement in the USA post-WWII MacCarthy era, and less about a particular medium or type of work. It was funny to experience my own country through the lens of French curators, about a time before I was born. How familiar it felt, with works referencing Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, Allen Ginsburg, names I’ve heard most of my life but removed by time and geography. I liked drawing parallels between this movement and later anti-establishment ones like sexual revolution of the 60s, or punk in the 80s, and grunge in the 90s.

Paris is very much a museum city, it takes a bit more digging or a local insider to recommend small galleries or non-traditional spaces for art. Worth the effort, though many places were closed on account of Paris Fashion Week, and we experienced many places being closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays but this was not reliably or clearly marked. Many of the guidebooks and even some of the websites had wrong information here, the best answer is simply to call them on the phone to check their hours.


I did find 104 Centquartre, which was walkable from the Airbnb. A MASSIVE space that used to house the city’s undertaking services, it’s now full of open space and art. There was a contemporary photography exhibition up, as well as a farmer’s market. To my delight, there was also a collection of hipster swing dancers grooving throughout the space, very much dressed the part. Small children were as enthralled as I was, dancing along happy to be part of the action. Super cute!

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Beyond the obvious museums and less accessible galleries, Paris is full of graffiti and street art, way more than Chicago has. Plenty to see without even trying. Space Invader pieces were everywhere, and I was moved to see the Black Lives Matter movement has found traction in Paris too. Many of the other artists I can’t name,  if you know, please share in the comments!

Thank you to Pret-a-Voyager, Ludmilla Barrand from the Paris School of Arts & Culture, Zack Gilbert, our Airbnb host Aurélie, one of my besties Rachel, and South Social and Home for recommendations, French help, and making us feel welcomed!