*Update: Courtney resigned from her position with Bold Tuesday as of 27 December 2017
Bold Tuesday has been running as a two-man band for awhile now. And as much as we'd like to think we can do it all, we recently acknowledged that we needed to bring another person on board in order to grow and maintain our sanity. We wanted someone to complement our brand by really taking charge in the marketing and advertising space, so we put up a job posting locally for a marketing manager. We didn't really have any preconceived notions as to who would respond or from where–we just were hoping to find "the one."
Enter Courtney: an expat from the US who decided to follow her wanderlust from Minneapolis, Minnesota (fun fact: it's the state furthest north other than Alaska. And we thought we had it cold) to Tallinn, Estonia.
The tale of our courtship is simultaneously intricate and shockingly simple, so we asked each other some, "how did we get here" questions. Buckle up and read on.
QUESTIONS FOR COURTNEY (the one in the totally candid photo below)
What brings you to Bold Tuesday? What were you doing prior and what interested you most about BT?
Traveling and good design are both on my shortlist of favorite things. Bold Tuesday was one of–if not the–first brands introduced to me upon entering Estonia. I simultaneously fell in love and thought, “damn, that’s brilliant...why didn’t I think of that?”
Prior to coming on board, I was feeling as though something was missing, career-wise. As a creative business-savvy marketing hybrid who doesn't believe in silos, I really was longing for a startup or entrepreneurial environment. I wanted the opportunity to get in on the ground level and really impact and grow with a brand. That’s what’s so great about Tallinn–there are so many opportunities to be a part of something in its early stages of development.
I also acknowledged that I wanted to try and find an environment that aligned with my love–nay, need–for travel and for seeking MORE in life. Hello, Bold Tuesday. Meeting Kairi and Markus just sealed the deal. I think I even got a bit emotional whilst talking to them, because it immediately felt like such a perfect fit. They got my dry sense of humor from my initial email and responded in kind, so even before I met them I thought, “this might just be the beginning of something great.”
What’s your philosophy on travel?
I think my philosophy on travel is intrinsically aligned with my philosophy on life. The abundance of different places, languages, belief systems, and cultures in this world is life’s gift. My ultimate goal is to experience as much as possible before I die–to connect with people from different cultures and have a mutually positive impact on each other. There's an immense difference between seeing things and experiencing them–both are expected, but I strive for the latter. I also think the best way to get to know a culture is through its food, but I could write a whole book on that, so for brevity's sake...
I've also noticed that many people underestimate the meaning and value that can be gleaned from the journey–traveling is more than just a series of destinations. I have met some amazing people and have heard some really powerful stories while en route–whether it be in a plane, train, or automobile. On top of that, some really great times were had whilst attempting to get from one place to another.
What has been your favorite adventure?
The best globetrotting adventures I’ve had have been when I’ve been completely out of my comfort zone. I’d go so far as to say I’m comfortable when I’m uncomfortable, if that makes sense. Meandering around East Africa in December with a group of like-minded individuals was one of the best experiences of my life. To quote an extra-special one of those individuals: "As soon as you can in life, find people you love to travel with." I fully believe in this statement. This trip also was the catalyst for uprooting my life in the US in search of something MORE.
What is your dream trip?
Everywhere I haven’t yet been, and a few places I have.
What is the best advice you could give someone traveling for the first time?
Embrace uncertainty. So many people seek to quell anxieties of the unknown by planning out every little detail–from transportation and accommodation to meals and sightseeing. Some of the most serendipitous discoveries I’ve made whilst traveling have been when I didn’t adhere to an itinerary. I’d also encourage first-timers to open themselves up, both physically and mentally. There are so many lists of dos and don'ts for certain places, but honestly just trust your intuition. For some reason, when people hear you’re traveling somewhere, they immediately start to give you advice even though they haven’t been there themselves. Listen to the experts, sure, but don’t let yourself become overloaded with information. It dilutes the experience.
What are you most looking forward to in this position?
Everything. I’m so excited to be working with a brand and concept that I not only believe in, but LIVE every day. I think we can expect some really cool things to happen.
What is the first major project you’ll be working on?
I’m really excited that I started in time to experience Helsinki Design Week, which is the largest design festival in the Nordic countries. It presents design from all different disciplines, as well as architecture, fashion, and urban culture. We'll be participating in the Design Market, in which participants have been handpicked to sell their designs to nearly 25k visitors. The design market is an opportunity for connection and engagement between the consumers and creators, which is an invaluable experience for both parties.
Anything else we should know?
Fun facts? Let’s see... I’m obsessed with cooking and all things culinary. I have a background in the industry, and shows like “Mind of a Chef” are my security blankets. I’m super excited to be living in Europe, as going to restaurants I’ve only dreamed of now can become a reality (I’m looking at you, NOMA).
I’m a sucker for well-designed packaging. One of the first things I noticed upon coming to Tallinn was the abundance of food and beverages with fantastic packaging design. So, most of my purchases at the grocery store definitely are based on ‘judging a book by its cover.”
Lastly, I'm quite certain the Prince (RIP) GIF in my email signature is really what got me this job. Fin.
QUESTIONS FOR KAIRI & MARKUS
What is Bold Tuesday?
We want to inspire people to explore the world, seek adventure, and live their dreams so that they can look back and instantly be filled with great memories. To do this, we design aesthetically appealing maps and posters for your living space to commemorate your travels. Our hope is to assist and inspire people to travel, explore, discover, and just experience MORE. Currently, we like to think of our posters as that final shove in the right direction–a catalyst for wanderlust. As we’re designers, the products naturally have an emphasis on sleek minimalism–they’ll never go out-of-style and are a sophisticated gift for an adventurous friend.
Why were you looking for a marketing person?
Kairi: We had reached a point where we simply didn’t have enough time nor knowledge to get to the next level of growth on our own. We were looking for someone to build a new structure from the ground up and take us to the next level. But why look for an employee when we could just work with an agency? Well, we tried that and it simply wasn’t enough for us. We realized we needed a marketer who would be a part of our team–someone who’s with us long-term and can build and grow with us versus doing project-based work. We needed more than a short-term or one-time fix.
Markus: Exactly. We knew we wanted to grow globally and realized that we needed to hire someone with great marketing skills and knowledge. Because we first and foremost are designers, prioritizing hiring someone would allow us to put our energy back into product development and design.
What was some of your key criteria?
Markus: We wanted to find a person who believes in us and wants to grow with us. We knew that all in all, technical skills can be learned–first you need to have passion and drive (raw talent, basically). Our criteria from our official job announcement were fairly typical for a marketing manager position, with the addition of a love for travel and design as a bonus.
Kairi: And on top of all that, we were looking for: enthusiasm, spark, outgoing personality, openness, and someone who is a team player. We wanted someone who could handle responsibility (and uncertainty) and create his or her own path toward the set goals. Someone who will collaborate with us on all levels of strategy with a good balance between the left side of the brain and the right. For a long time, we were going back and forth on what we should place greater value on: excellent technical skills and knowledge or content creation and creative strategy. Both are important, but as Markus mentioned, we find the latter to be more difficult to learn and adopt (kind of a “you either have it or you don’t”).
Why did you decide to go with Courtney (of all people)?
Markus: Simply put, Courtney is Bold Tuesday. She didn’t just apply for the position to get an okay job–she literally was so fascinated by us and our products. She believes in us and doesn’t just want to work for us–she wants to be a part of the team. If you develop or sense a bond at first sight, then you need to trust your gut feeling. I believe in her, and I believe that with her help we can grow bigger and faster than ever. Honestly, being a foreigner was a positive asset as well. We figured someone from a different culture, with a different mindset and experiences, would positively affect the actions of the company.
Kairi: Right from the start, the juicy style in her emails caught my attention. There it was–our voice. Some people we had worked with previously tried so hard to capture it, but just ended up falling short. The first face-to-face impression only deepened the sensation–as a true traveler and in having a good eye for design, she stands 100% behind our brand. Professionally, I feel she has a good balance between being creative and strategic, as well as between having experience and having a curiosity and hunger to learn.
As far as being a foreigner, I agree with what Markus mentioned. Although it doesn’t make any difference to me what a person’s nationality is, it is a huge benefit to have someone who has lived in a foreign country that we are interested in as a market. I have already noticed that we are living in a very different information space than Courtney, and this is excellent. We would never achieve this on our own. I also like that, for her, Estonia is just another market–we ourselves still sometimes get lost in the subject here.
On a personal level, I just feel like she gets me. Our communication is extremely uncomplicated and easy-going, and I think she will bring a lot of good vibes and energy to the studio (and hopefully some good food).
So, there you have it. Bold Tuesday now consists of two Estonians and an American, which in our opinion, has the makings of a great sitcom...
This definitely won't be the last you hear from us, but feel free to ask any of us questions about ANYTHING–our travels, adventures, what we're currently binge-watching (hello, Stranger Things). Until next time, adventurers.
Come say hello to all three of us at the Helsinki Design Week Design Market
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