Oh hey there. So you are going for the deeper dive, eh? That's awesome. I'd love to share my story with you and hopefully you can get a glimpse at what drives me and gets me excited about design and business.
My first name came from the Japanese word "Kaizen" which means forever progressing and continuous improvement. No, I am not Japanese, I just have hippie parents who are in to stuff like that, but my name has played a big role in helping me build my life.
I've strived since birth to be authentic and live up to my name. Unconsciously, life's journey has led me into design where I've found a powerful tool to communicate complex ideas and solve big problems.
The Starting Point
I gained my first taste of design making posters for local concerts that my band was putting on in our local town in rural Idaho.
Pretty soon our ambitions grew and we were scheduling shows, recruiting bands from out of town and we even put on a city sponsored music and art festival and invited over 20 bands from across the country to come play.
Design and entrepreneurship have always gone hand in hand for me. I honestly began designing because I needed a way to accomplish all the crazy ideas I had and design seemed to be the ticket to make them happen.
Our interest in concerts eventually bled into our interest for skateboards, and my friends and I began pressing our own custom longboards. This endeavor forced me to learn to paint and I learned a lot about manufacturing costs and what it takes to launch real companies with distribution channels. Apparently we gained all of this learning the "hard way" because the business venture flopped. Too many young guys with lots distracting opportunities with girls and jobs leads to poor team management. It was fun while it lasted though.
My First Official Business Launch
I spent two years living in Russia while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). While there I saw a couple of fashion styles that I thought were pretty rad so when I got back to USA I quickly sent up shop to launch my first official online business selling goods.
I got in touch with a vendor in India and ordered a bunch of harem pants, launched an online store and started marketing them like crazy.
It was a small project but it kept me busy learning social media marketing, designing apparel, importing goods from overseas, and running google adwords campaigns. I wanted the business to have a strong social mission so I committed to donating 10% of the proceeds to a school in Vrindavin, India. In the end the business fully funded three poverty-stricken girls in India to go to school for a year AND paid for a semester of college for me.
Dropping out of College and Starting a Youth-Driven Movement
It was really hard for me to stay focused in school because I had so many other ventures begging for my attention. After only two semesters in design school dropped out to join a couple of guys who were building a campaign called Fight the New Drug to raise awareness to teenagers on the harmful effects of pornography. I thought that their vision and approach of going at this conversation from a non-religious perspective was genius and I loved the crazy difficult design and messaging challenge the concept held.
Our message was to show how regular porn use can affect the clinical wiring of the brain, how it affects relationships, and lastly how the production of pornography is very connected to the world of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
I joined them as the creative director and set to work building websites, creating involvement strategies, giving large keynote presentation, and designing literally everything the brand touched.
We hit the ground running and after two years of hard, dedicated work, the campaign is now running full steam ahead with nearly 1 million online followers, a couple of celebrity endorsements, and revenue (yes...non-profits can and SHOULD generate revenue) that would put many online businesses to shame.
We also put together a powerful online recovery program to help teens who are struggling with addiction break free. It's called Fortify and you can check it out here if you like.
I left Fight the New Drug in January 2015 to move to the SF bay area where I'm living now. I was drawn to the fast-paced startup scene and the major role that designers are playing in it. San Francisco is basically like hollywood for nerds and artists who spend waaaay too much time on the internet. I fit right in.
During my time as a designer I’ve focused on working for brands and non-profits with a social cause or environmental mission. I believe that design is a gift, and should be used to make the world a better place, rather than just increase profits. Money comes when you help people, not when you feed them your hollow sales propaganda.
Right now my role is the Lead Creative for a non-profit organization called GivePower, which was founded by the solar energy company SolarCity. (SolarCity is n Elon Musk project that is seriously changing the world using clean energy. It's pretty rad.) GivePower's mission is to bring power to some of the most rural and poverty-stricken places on earth.
I'm constantly dreaming up new ideas and starting new projects such as the #SketchAZduel project that I launched almost a year ago now. (You can read more about that project here: http://www.boredpanda.com/animal-alphabet) I have a little boy and live with my best friend who I consistently stalked ever since I first met her at age 15...and who I eventually married. Stalker win.
While focusing on problem solving in the for-purpose sector I've gained experience leading teams, managing projects, wire-framing, prototyping, building websites, creating online educational programs and marketing. I’ve designed everything from print collateral to robust digital applications. I know how to communicate visually, but better yet, I know how to use design thinking to solve difficult problems that businesses, communities, and people face.
I’m not just a designer but an artist, a leader, a photographer, and an idealist. I hope to inspire others to use their talents for social good, and to find opportunities to make the world a better place.
Let's work together. If you have an idea that involves the great outdoors, changing the world, or building something that truly matters shoot me an email. I'd love to chat.