My first internship in the United States. My first internship with a local startup in Bloomington. This (semi) professional experience gave me a lot of direction with my business degree (and subsequently design).
I met Samuel Sveen at a student org event where he was pitching to Kelley entrepreneurs about his coffee company, looking for recruits. Having a knack for doing the most variety of work, a role that startups specialize in, I met Sam for an interview the following day. Talking about my past startup experience and his current problems with securing cashflow for bottles and ingredients made for a great dialogue with him.
As I got to being a marketing volunteer for Uel Zing, I discovered that not the coffee, but the personality of his brand attracted me to work for him. Uel Zing epitomizes what Sam stands for and is like, as a person and a mentor. It's fun, it's unpredictable and the coffee is so goddamn good.
As a measure to get the word out, we distributed our cold-coffee RTD sample bottles around downtown to college kids and adults. We also tabled and met people at high-energy tailgate events. It was a blast of an experience and very successful as a tactic. We significantly increased out foot traffic to in-house events and between Concentrate and RTD variants, our sales shot up more than 30%. By the end of the semester, we signed with the local Kroger store and increased our footprint in the bookstores and bakeries around Bloomington.
A defining time of this experience was when Sam and I sat together to ideate about how the bottle we will distribute is going to look like. It had to be instantly recognizable and had to work as a marketing pamphlet of sorts, so that after drinking (and hopefully liking) the coffee, one could get more information. The bottle label area would have to be dedicated to branding, location info and reviews.
Only being familiar with Photoshop, I got to learn Illustrator from Sam, the solo-designer team for Uel Zing. Between remote submissions and back and forth with mockups, we landed on a design inspired by the sketch displayed above the page.
Getting to be part of an actual product, albeit only it's graphic print, was satisfying and revelationary at the same time. There were considerations and time constraints, both of which I have come to appreciate in their own ways.
And a big take away was this;
Seeing an actual bottle you designed on the shelves of your bagel shop is a really nice feeling.