“I could study people and culture and be creative while doing it.”
Jenn is a brand psychic, published poet, and one-half of Lady & West, the band she shares with her husband.
Tell us about your path to becoming a brand strategist.
My family moved from Houston to Bogotá, Colombia when I was 14. My eyes were wide open through that experience. I fell in love with culture and experienced cultural differences first-hand. How no one leaves a party without saying goodbye to every single person. How it's bad luck to toast with water. How to salsa and merengue. All these rituals and behaviors fascinated me. Later at The University of Texas, I found myself in an International Advertising course which focused on the ideas of relevancy and cultural differences, and how creativity and storytelling can play a role. I realized how attracted I was to all of these things, and how they related to my time abroad. So I stayed on to earn a Master of Arts in Advertising. I could study people and culture and be creative while doing it. Cultural relevancy remains core to my brand strategy practice today.
Who or what inspires you?
Nature inspires me to no end. Poetry. Music. Good conversation is always inspiring - as well as a good read. My husband, who I write and perform music with, is a daily dose of inspiration. All the great poets and performers: Whitman, Thoreau, Neil Young, Patti Smith, Mary Oliver, Dylan, Jacques Brel, Michael Hurley, Gary Snyder, Éric Rohmer...the list is very long!
Were you creative as a kid?
I was always creating. I trained as a dancer for years and if I wasn't choreographing a number at home with friends, I was writing or sounding out songs on the piano. I lived for the musicals that my parents took me too, and took up theater in school. I wore a hole in my Sgt. Pepper record and many others. I was a good day dreamer. So, yes! But aren't all kids? The trick is never to grow out of it.
What do you like about living in Austin?
I love the sense of freedom. I love the live music and the live oaks. I appreciate Texas hospitality and the small-town feel. All the sun we get and the sunsets too. I respect the integrity of this place, the sense of community, the support for art and artists. I love American Century Agaves and Mountain Laurels that smell of grape popsicles in Spring. Proximity to the Hill Country. I love the dance halls and Willie Nelson and the fact that my whole family is either in town or close by.
What is your typical day like?
Hmm, this totally depends. If I'm on an assignment, that's my total focus. If I'm in-between assignments I can author my day in all kinds of ways. If I’m not on the road doing research, I’m working out of Austin. A typical day could include building a narrative -- there’s always a lot of reading and writing involved. I find that taking a walk gets the best thoughts going. I might be meeting a client, or searching for cultural inspiration. In the evening, it's rehearsing with my husband if we have a gig and cooking dinner together. I try to shake it up as much as possible.
What's your favorite food?
Well, we’re in Austin, so I have to say all the fresh TexMex you can imagine with a perfect margarita in the sun - after a cold swim in Barton Springs!