23 Jun

Celebrating 5 Years: Kate Coates

And just like that… Kate Coates has officially been a Pepper for 5 years!

Kate is a master of all trades – from renovating her 1908 home, to raising her little boy, teaching at UMBC and participating in dog competitions with her Silken Windhound, Izze – she can do it all! 

Kate is an extremely detail-oriented designer, keeps very cool under pressure and is known to her coworkers as the logo queen! She is very low key, humble, and easy going.

To learn more about Kate, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
The trust in knowing that 11P has your back.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Hatch Chili Pepper because I’m such a huge fan on New Mexico. Plus I could eat Tex Mex every day, all day and never get tired of it.

3. What is your favorite 11p event?
I really enjoyed the glassblowing event where we made pumpkins and ornaments. I had never done anything like that before it was really neat to see how it is done.

4. What is your favorite present ever received from 11p?
While I’ve received so many nice things from 11P, it’s honestly one of the smaller things that stands out the most. The Fogo de Chao gift card that I won at the company White Elephant (sorry Rich) was used to drop the news to my parents and in-laws that we were expecting our first child. Great memories!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
I always really enjoyed the company White Elephant game at the Christmas Parties. It was a fun little competitive game that got everyone laughing in no time.

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
AC. Always a friendly and listening ear and a really good secret keeper when I found out I was pregnant while on our work trip to California.

7. Name a Pepper whose work ethic inspires you:
Kelsey. How she balances the crazy early mornings, intense exercise regiments, a full time job, and now teaching, I’ll never know!

8. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kate a little bit better…

1. What is your favorite TV series of all time?
The miniseries 11.22.63 starring James Franco on Hulu was a surprisingly awesome little show that I can’t recommend enough. It’s about a high school teacher that travels back in time to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

2. Which room is your favorite in your refurbished 1908 home?
Hands down, the kitchen. While it was (and remains) the biggest room in the house it was really gross when I first moved in. The vintage 1908 sash windows didn’t want to stay open themselves and were not positioned in a way where you could see the beautiful backyard. The white paint haphazardly painted on the cabinet exteriors had to yellow with age, matching the beige colored porcelain tile. The previous owner hadn’t even cared to extend the white paint to the interior of the cabinets, exposing the brown varnished wood and wallpapered shelves. As I said, it was really gross.

We did a ton of work and with the help of my architect father, redesigned the space. We demo’d everything down to the studs and built everything back new. We installed free custom cabinets that we got off of one of my dad’s residential jobs.  We blew a hole in the rear wall to add a full glass panel door to have a view of and easy access to the backyard and installed charcoal slate-looking tile throughout. Ultimately, the room has so much more light and life to it now. And now all things that are meant to be white are is just icing on the cake!

3. Do you have any favorite DIY projects?
Installing hardwood floor is actually pretty fun. I’d take that over installing tile floors any day of the week.

4. How many shows has your dog competed in?
My Silken Windhound, Izze, and I have participated in three shows at this point. It took us a while to get in a groove and by the third show she beat out several other dogs to walk away with Best in Breed and 2nd in the Sighthound class. We’re hoping to get two more competitive wins so she can be a UKC Champion. We’ll see when COVID decides to let us get back out there.

5. What’s one of your favorite assignments to give your students?
The class that I teach at UMBC is one big culminating project that students work the whole semester on. Each student picks their own project and then we go through the entire life cycle of a UX project from analysis through design. It’s really fun to see really bad websites transformed into thoughtful designs. Great portfolio pieces!

6. What was the most challenging part of getting your Masters in UX?
Group work in the real world isn’t bad but for some reason group work in school never goes as expected. Grad school was full of various group assignments that had varying levels of teammate participance. Groups were by far the most challenging part of grad school, thesis included.

7. What do you love about being a boy mom?
Being kept on my toes. Honestly, it’s both a blessing a curse. This boy doesn’t stop, like ever! But when I think of how many calories I’m burning without going to the gym it makes me feel a whole lot better. (Plus chasing Alden around is much better than the gym.)

8. What’s your favorite pastime activity with your family?
I’ve always loved visiting the Outer Banks in the summers with family. It’s always great to catch up during the week with people you don’t see enough.

9. Any hidden talents or hobbies?
I’d love to discover some when I find time!

01 Jun

Celebrating 5 Years: Kate Rodman

Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday that Kate Rodman joined our team. Now we are celebrating five wonderful years that she has spent working at Eleven Peppers.

Kate has endless creativity and brings a lot of energy and fun to every brainstorm session she attends. She is well respected by her clients for her ability to be patient when necessary, and work at a lightening-fast speed when a deadline is approaching. Kate is also an awesome team player who works to get the job done, even when the tasks are not glamorous. She is such an important part of our team!

To learn more about Kate, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
I appreciate the flexibility the most. I don’t have to worry if I need to take time for a doctor’s appointment, or whatever life event pops up. I appreciate the freedom to come up with my own ideas and find unique ways to approach challenges. It’s super important for 11P to offer this flexibility since some of our projects often impose many restrictions.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
After much thought, I would have to say Paprika pepper, so that I can be papriKate.

3. What is your favorite 11p event?
I mean, we all know the answer to this question by now… Disney, of course! As far as more regularly occurring 11P events go, I like happy hours best because it gives me a chance to chat with everybody and catch up with peppers that I don’t see on a daily basis.

4. What is your favorite present ever received from 11p?
I have probably gotten the most use out of the Kate Spade bag given at my first 11p holiday party in 2015. It’s still in service. I’m not into fashion so I feel like someone else choosing a purse for me was probably a good idea…

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
There are many but I’ll put down the first one that popped into my head, because it’s funny. Singing karaoke at the Circles Conference last year… Yes, I live the stressful life of an introvert that enjoys karaoke. These two things should not, and do not go together. But when someone puts on your jam, you have no choice but to belt it out. (Thankfully, there isn’t a recording of this).

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
Any pepper I’ve worked with on my current contract fits this bill. Theresa, Valencia, Lisa – anyone with a first name ending in “-a”… I can ask them anything that pops into my head, and they don’t judge me too harshly 😉 We’ve all gone through similar struggles with our work and they’re the ones that really “get it.” I greatly appreciate this support system.

7. Name a Pepper whose work ethic inspires you:
Kristen is unstoppable. She’s the most hardworking person I know (besides my dad). Amidst all the tough work of owning a business she still radiates positivity. When I first met her at AIGA’s Ink & Pixels (basically, portfolio review version of speed-dating) she stood out like a beacon against all the other reviewers. I was fresh out of college at that time, and could’ve ended up at a company that would have abused my “will design for food” desperation – instead, I landed somewhere that respected me as an individual.

7. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kate a little bit better…

1. If you could only watch one Harry Potter for the rest of your life, which would it be?
What?? That’s like only reading one chapter of a book over and over! I definitely skipped this question and thought about it. I’ll say The Goblet of Fire… I think the pre-Voldemort returning books are my favorite, and I do really like the tournament and the crazy ending. As long as I could supplement this ONE movie (sigh) with the audiobooks of the other six, I could make it work!

2. What is your favorite plant-based recipe?
My favorite recipes are the ones where I’ve taken a nostalgic dish I love and tweaked it to be veggie. I still eat all my favorite foods. One of my comfort foods is my great grandmom’s chicken soup recipe – it’s mega-Italian and includes crushed tomatoes and beets, in addition to the regular stuff. That, plus her marinara recipe (“red gravy” if you are legit), are the backbone of the Rodman family – our blood runs red with tomato sauce. I’ve tweaked both and still eat them regularly.

3. What is the best thing you’ve ever found while thrift shopping?
Oh man… My most recent find was the Harry Potter hardcover books, with the original covers. All seven books for $1 EACH. I had been hunting for those for years, and I never expected to find them, let alone that cheap, or a full set at once! My favorite clothing items have all come from goodwill, including a few White House Black Market dresses that fit perfectly. I have also found TWO 100% functional KitchenAid mixers with fixtures included (on different occasions). One I kept, the other I gifted to a friend. I didn’t need two mixers but I couldn’t leave it there!

4. What is your favorite game night game?
Y’all are killing me with these questions. I guess if I had to choose one I’d say Betrayal at House on the Hill because of its near-infinite playability – the board tiles change with every game, there’s a crazy amount of scenarios that could arise and I’ve yet to play the same game twice. It’s really fun when one of your friends becomes the “Traitor” and you all have to work against them. Sometimes it’s co-op, sometimes it’s every man for himself. Always a good time.

5. What is your favorite game ever?
Currently I’m working through Animal Crossing on the Switch and it’s bringing me back to all the other versions of that game I’ve played. I think that’s probably my favorite franchise, at least right now. If anyone wants to swap friend codes, hit me up.

6. Now that you have a yard, what yard projects have you been working on?
Our yard found itself in an interesting situation! You can tell someone deeply cared for it at one time – maybe an owner or two back in its history. The previous owner, however… did not, and let it become a hot mess. So I’m having fun digging up the garden beds and restoring them to what they once were. The caring owner did a great job choosing the plants that exist, now I get to just fill in the gaps. My parents live close by, and they are gardening/yard gurus. The plants in their yard are so happy that they’re making new plant babies – I’ve been adopting those and planting them in my yard. I have dogwood tree saplings that are descendants of my family’s dogwoods. Those guys have followed my family to many houses, and it’s cool they get to be on my property now!

7. What do you love about being raised and living in Mount Airy?
As a kid I don’t think I really got it. I wanted to move somewhere new, like everyone does. I moved away and then ended up coming back after I realized why everyone wants to live here. It’s accessible to Frederick, Baltimore, Westminster and DC, but it feels private. I can walk to basic stores from my house, or I can drive in any direction to get to big stores. As much as I love the Columbia area etc., we would never be able to afford anything we have in Mt Airy over there. Also, to quote my mom: “being closer to family during an apocalypse? Priceless!”

8. Have you taught your new dog Griffin any tricks?
He is so smart that we’ve admittedly been pretty lazy with training. He picked up the basics so quickly, that I think we got comfortable. We give him plenty of exercise to keep him occupied, but he’s more athletic than we are so we’re always looking for new ways to run him out of energy. I think a pair of rollerblades is in my future…

9. Name an illustrator whose style you envy.
There are so many, but lately I’ve been really enjoying Rebecca Mills’ illustrations… I love her cute animals in silly situations – maybe for no other reason besides the fact that we could all use a little levity. Beyond that, her skills are just amazing.

10. Tell us about a passion project you’ve done or been working on.
Well, for the past year or so I’ve been DIYing every little thing for our wedding, but then COVID-19 happened and we had to put it all aside. I took a creative breather, and then moved on. Since quarantine, I’ve been helping my mom with her own passion project. Several years ago, she created an earth-friendly potting mix company. I made her some quick labels at the time, but now her biz has grown to be the “real deal” and I wanted to make her some “real deal” packaging. The greenhouse-inspired labels feature hand-drawn illustrations of plants.

27 Apr

Celebrating 5 Years: Kathryn Gruver

Help us congratulate Kathryn Gruver on a half decade spent as a pepper!

Over the past five years, Kathryn has displayed the ultimate level of dedication and design prowess as a leading contributor to a variety of UX and design projects.

When Kathryn is not working, you’ll probably find her outside enjoying time with her husband, sons and dog!

To learn more about Kathryn, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
So many things. Mainly it’s the family friendly culture; and fantastic, hard-working people. I also feel like the leadership is humble, honest, and appreciative.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Black pepper, is that lame? It’s versatile and packs a nice, clean bite.

3. What is a favorite 11p event?
 I like our holiday parties. My husband and I get a nice evening away, and we get to see everyone.

4. What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11p?
We usually get a trip or gift certificate for one – as parents, they have been wonderful!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
Our trip to Disney of course!

6. Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you:
Customers that I encounter are always impressed by our company’s work ethic. It’s hard to pin point one person who works exceptionally hard, because I feel like that’s part of our “way.” I guess Kate Coates always goes above and beyond what is expected of her, and knocks it out of the park every time.

7. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kathryn a little bit better…

1. What’s your favorite book of all time?
The Bible, other than that I don’t have one.

2. What’s your favorite activity to do with your sons?
Anything outdoors. Recently, we’ve been doing scavenger hunts on our walks around the neighborhood, and some pretty wild obstacle courses in the yard.

3. What do you love to draw most?
My dog; he won’t sit still while I draw, but he still makes a handsome picture.

4. What is your favorite thing to grow in your garden?
Any flower [that the deer won’t eat].

5. What is your favorite thing to cook using what you grew in your garden?
I can’t grow them well, but my mother grows amazing summer tomatoes.

6. If you could pick any weekend getaway, where would it be?
Anywhere with my husband, preferably around some body of water.

7. We hear your dog is pretty special, any special tricks or stories to share?
He isn’t obedient, but he is special. One time I planted some dill, and when I returned from putting my tools away, he unplanted it.

8. What’s your anthem – the song that you can always listen to pump you up?
I listen to old Pearl Jam when I need to get in gear.

9. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
Pay off the mortgage.

10. What’s your favorite holiday?
Easter. It’s the reason Christmas is special; but I also love spring, and gathering with family.

20 Apr

Celebrating 5 Years: Krista Cochran

We’re ready to celebrate, it’s Krista Cochran’s 5th Pepperversary!

Krista is an extremely talented Senior UX Designer. Since becoming a Pepper, she has been unrivaled in her ability to capture client’s requests and is committed to producing a superior product. She’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, and her positivity radiates in the office!

Krista is absolutely family first. Her two girls keep her and her husband extremely busy running around with lacrosse, soccer, dance etc.

To learn more about Krista, keep scrolling to read our special interview and infographic!

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios
The people!!! 11 Peppers is full of hardworking, inspiring and entertaining people.

2. If you were a pepper, what type would you be and why?
Orange bell pepper. I’m more of a sweet than spicy person AND orange is my favorite color.

3. What is a favorite 11p event?

4. What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11p?
A Louis Vuitton purse!

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
Casino night. It was such a fun night full of great conversation and laughter

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
Ryan Kelly. He has always been there to listen and give honest advice.

7. Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you:
Our main boss lady Kristen Parks! Even though I admire her hard work and dedication to 11 Peppers at the heart of everything, I love that she is a true designer.

8: My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Krista a little bit better…

1. Where is the best place you have ever gone fishing? 
My Aunt Tooties pond.

2. What is the best thing about being a “dance mom”?
When my daughter and her team come off stage and know they pulled off a great performance. To see them so proud of themselves and of each other is a great thing to watch.

3. What is it like raising two teenagers?
It depends on the day, but most days, it’s busy and entertaining. It’s actually fun when your kids get older and catch on to your jokes.

4. What do you love about living in Southern MD?
The slower pace of life and beauty of the farms and the water.

5. Which Jurassic Park movie is your favorite?
The original. It’s how it all started!

6. What is your go-to when you are baking a dessert?

7. What’s the most exciting place you’ve traveled for the girl’s activities?
Loved seeing the west coach beaches and LA.

8. What custom project do you love the most in your new house?
Our deck. Ron and Eliza did most of the work but it is definitely rewarding to enjoy something that our family built together.

9. Name your ultimate margarita (flavor and tequila).
Anything with Patron or 1800 Silver.

10. What has being a breast cancer survivor taught you?
To be thankful, even for the small things.

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