Blog

  • A Senior Year Wrap-Up

    I graduate in a week. That's beyond weird.

    These past two semesters came and went before I could really process them, and here we are, staring "adulthood" and "the real world" straight in the face. The good news is I have a handful of work and more than a handful of lessons to show after of this school business is said and done. Let me explain:

    In the fall, I split my efforts between Web Design for Storytelling, Retail Management and Creative Nonfiction Writing.

    By the end of Andy Boyle's must-take course, I built a website from scratch. After learning some CSS, HTML and JavaScript basics—not to mention assessing how I approached telling stories digitally—I felt at ease when looking at applications that required coding experience. (Also, Andy just published a book and he's pretty funny. You should buy it.)

    Retail Management was a course I was super excited to take—one, because it ran concurrent to my development at LUSH and two, because we were able to create a brand from scratch and explore all of the facets of what makes a successful business plan throughout the course of 15 weeks.

    And Creative Nonfiction Writing took me by surprise, too. We started class every week sharing journal entries, and by the end of the semester, I had an eight-page piece that detailed some familial patterns I've needed to explore. After a lot of careful editing, it was published in the second edition of Habitat Magazine.

    Then, the last hurrah. Echo Magazine. This project was one that I had been looking forward to since my first semester at Columbia four years ago. Our editorial advisor Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin got the ball rolling the week we signed up for the course, asking us to prepare a pre-class assignment that would allow us to pick a theme for our issue by the end of the first day of class.

    One of my more colorful memories of the process was working on this assignment before I had met the team or fully immersed myself in the project—I was sitting in the smallest New York coffee shop during their first big January snow storm, paging through the Fantasy issue as a guide to understanding what I wanted our book to be like.

    The momentum our team established that first day of class didn't stop until today, when we did our last round of proofreading and packaged all of our files for the printer. As the Managing Editor, I learned how to establish and maintain leadership, be a friend and voice of reason in tricky editorial situations, and how to think of plan B's and C's early on in the process as to not overwhelm myself too close to deadlines. This list is awfully brief; the tools (and comrades) I'm taking away from Echo are invaluable to me. Have a print copy sent to you, free of charge, and read about our process on our website.

    Throughout all of the above goodness, I managed inventory, loss prevention, ordering and receiving as the Store Operations specialist at LUSH Armitage. Last week marked the end of training my coworker Ro into that role, and I will admit—I'm going to miss waking up at 4:45 most days of the week. (I'm mostly kidding because my daughter Pearl likes to eat her wet food at 4 and I don't have the heart to tell her no.)

    About a week ago, I accepted a writing position at One Design. The majority of the work on their newsletter and social media (two bits that I've been brought on to work on) can be done remotely, allowing me to continue my development at LUSH.

    A lot has changed since we've talked last, and that used to scare me beyond belief. But I can proudly say that I'm really trying to embrace the uncertainty that lies ahead. Thank you for reading all of this—I'll be keeping you posted on any new endeavors I explore. Until next time!

    -Bianca

  • Ended Junior Year Tired, But Still Running

    You thought the notifications would end eventually, right?

    This semester was more jam-packed than ever before— I mean, two websites? I had a decent idea of what I was getting myself into, but my expectations were exceeded as always.

    In my Magazine Editing class, we were tasked to come up with profile gallery ideas, which would be pitched to the Magazine Profile writing class. If chosen by our colleagues, the gallery would be brought to fruition. With help from Madison Lisle and Kris Hunter, our pitch was well-received and was chosen to be one of the two galleries our class would produce during the 11 weeks that followed. As a co-managing editor, I oversaw all operations that had to do with written or visual content creation. From the first drafts to the final tweaks on the website, my hand was in the pot! This project was truly a group effort, though, and the lessons concerning teamwork (as well as all of the skills packaged within that concept) will be applied to all of my future projects. Take a look at all of our hard work here!

    At the beginning of the semester, I joined the Shredded editors in their quest to create a webzine from scratch. We launched the site yesterday. The artists that have contributed thus far represent many different walks of life. Our readers are able to consume new and alternative perspectives. Shredded will release new works on a rolling basis, but for now, take a look at our initial launch content.

    Now that class is out, Shredded, my content management internship at ModernHealthcare and LUSH Armitage will consume my summer. That, and running with Mason Adams. Or getting Beaver's donuts with my sister. All in all, I'm looking forward to ignoring the fact that I'm officially and senior in college for three months.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Started Junior Year Running

    Although it's a bit belated, an update on how my first semester of my junior year went is necessary.

    All of the uneasiness I felt in September — maintaining a work-life balance and being able to put 110% into every project on my plate were my biggest concerns — evaporated as quickly as it came. There was a lot of work that had to be done.

    My first experience co-managing a magazine (Fashion Frank) was one of constant learning. Coordinating the senior staff, photographers, stylists and sources' busy schedules to set up in-depth interviews along with their accompanying photo shoots proved challenging.

    We learned patience.

    Not only were managerial duties expected to be met, but writing all of the content was also Jaclyn and my responsibility. With the creative (mental and emotional) support from our design team (John & Dianne) as well as the freedom and when-needed-direction from our editorial advisor (Jo-Nell), we were able to produce four incredible profiles on professionals in Chicago that in some way touch fashion or photography.

    Our digital publication will be available to download in the Apple App store soon.

    In my Magazine Profile Writing class, I learned to value reading everything I could get my hands on and neurotically thinking about my writing just as much as the actual act of putting a pen to paper. In a blind draw at the beginning of the semester, I picked "profile a professional baker," leading me to Abby Leetz, the owner of Wildflour Bakery— now a community fixture in downtown Valparaiso.

    From this story, I was taught how important the inclusion of movement in a profile can be.

    A very valuable aspect of this course was having the opportunity to work with the Magazine Editing class on building a profile gallery. With Jaclyn as my editor, we crafted a profile on Janelle Stanley that is featured on Native Voices— a collection of profiles about Chicago-area Native American artists, innovators, and activists.

    The process to publication was full of compromise and a lot of communication. That, of course, was a very good thing.

    The most rewarding moment of class was turning in my final draft of a profile on Jaycee Bryant, a 59-year-old Chicago doorman working upwards of 100-hour-weeks at four different buildings in the city. I took my time with this piece. Bryant's story was compelling, filled with humor, struggle and success without material reward— all aspects of the Chicago spirit I see so often but hear about so little. 

    My job at LUSH didn't slow down, either. I officially became a Floor Leader! As our shop's in-store trainer, I trained all of the holiday hires before their hectic December shifts started and continued to further their development up until their time at Armitage came to a close. This included early morning training sessions (I didn't think I could like coffee any more than I already did), preparation and execution of training activities at staff meetings (after a day of midterm exams and interviews for Fashion Frank) and on-the-floor coaching to support their experience as LUSH Sales Ambassadors. 

    Whenever you mutter "holiday season" in most retail environments, you're normally met with cringe-worthy stories and a suffocating sense of dread. Not at LUSH Armitage. I will always be grateful for that.

    And, to celebrate the new year/the fact that I've been alive for 21 years/that I survived this semester, my dad took my sister and me on our annual "Daddy Daughter" trip...but this time, we went across the pond to both London and Paris. In the span of a week. Take a look at some photographs I took on the Canon Elan 7 Mason gifted to me for Christmas here

    Thank you for taking the time to keep up with all of my endeavors. I'm looking forward to another jam-packed semester, and although in the midst of it all I will probably question my sanity, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

  • Freelance Update

    Happy (relatively mild) summer!

    Embedded is my most recent work for Modern Luxury Chicago Brides. These pieces were so fun to compile...mostly because who doesn't love to hear a good love story or two. 

     

    Developing my position as a Key Holder, Senior Sales Ambassador/Floor Leader and In-shop Trainer at LUSH Armitage is my main focus this summer— as well as running along the lake with Mason, crocheting a few blankets and drinking as many cold brew coffees as I can afford— so this may be the last check-in before the start of my junior year.

    With that being said, enjoy the ever-changing weather and thanks for taking a read!

    -Bianca

  • Sophomore Year Final Projects

    I can't believe the day has come— a semester filled with endless deadlines, constant learning and just a few spurts of overwhelming tears is now over. 

    From the end of January to mid-may, I've had a few triumps educationally and professionally. 16-credit-hours means for a lot of projects: A photo profile on three Chicago fashionistas and a short video profile on the DIY venue Babe Palace was produced for my Digital Storytelling class. Many different types of magazine articles were written in my first concentration class, Magazine Article Writing with Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, and I learned more than I would've ever imagined about the construction of clothing in my Fashion Product Evaluation class. Although my work-life balance suffered a bit, my efforts helped me recieve the John Fischetti Scholarship and an editor position for the fall fashion edition of Frank magazine, an online publication produced by CCC's photo, fashion and art + design and journalism departments.

    In between classes, I was honored to have my first freelanced piece published after I being an intern at Modern Luxury Chicago. I have three pieces for Brides Chicago that will be published in their upcoming book, and I contributed in the writing of LV City Guides Chicago as a freelance writer, too. At the start of the year, I was still as Sales Ambassador and Social Networker at LUSH Armitage and most recently, I have become a Senior Sales Ambassador, Key Holder and in-shop trainer. 

    I am so thankful for the opportunities that I have been presented with and plan on working extremely hard to further my skillset through those opportunities. Keep an eye out for a really exciting project to be announced soon— it's about time some interdisciplinary/collaborative action took place.

    Thank you for taking a look at all of my hard work!

    Bianca

  • First Semester Loose Ends

    It's still shocking to me that I'm halfway done with my sophomore year in college. With 2014’s work stealing a little bit of 2015’s start, I can finally say that I am ready to start next semester with a clean slate.

    Interiors Chicago just released it’s online edition of the Winter Issue on Tuesday, and I am so excited to share it with you. As Diana Bitting’s sole editorial assistant, I was fortunate enough to take on a lot of responsibility. With this issue being her and my last, it was only fitting that each piece was as engaging and unique as possible.

    Some of my favorite moments included writing the Interior Monologue, or the last piece in the book. I was able to sit down with architects-turned-accessory-designers Aaron and Milena Kim to learn more about their beautiful clutches and purses that make up “Pleats.” Another incredible part of my Interiors experience was assisting Diana on a photo shoot that focused on what iconic design means to the leading ladies in Chicago’s interiors industry. Playing stylist (with beautiful clothes and accessories pulled from Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Azeeza) paired with meeting such influential women was such a treat.

    After 3 issues with more bylines than I ever imagined having at this point in my journey and another facet in understanding my craft, I look forward to using all that Diana and Interiors Chicago taught me in my concentration classes and in other internship endeavors. Take a look at all of my work in the Winter Issue of Interiors Chicago here: WinterIssue_BSPages_InteriorsChicago_ ModernLuxury.pdf

    Finally, to tie up the loose ends, all of my work from Curtis Lawrence’s Reporting & Writing II class that was published on Chicago Talks is up under the “Work” pull-down. Not only did his 6-hour class further my development, it was fun. Since so many talented writers surrounded me, I was always challenged to do my best and learn other techniques. My last article for Curtis’s class was about the rising cost of rent in the South Loop. Read it here: http://www.chicagotalks.org/2015/01/luxury-housing-costs-may-stump-future-current-south-loop-apartment-hunters/

    Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to share more with you all soon!

    Bianca

  • MidSemester Progress

    Happy Halloween, Everyone!

    The middle of the semester has brought a lot of exciting projects to the table. With Curtis Lawrence's Reporting & Writing II class calling for a lot of deadline writing, interviews from Chicago aldermen as well as covering potential mayoral canditate Jésus "Chuy" García's lecture at a UIC political science class, a lot of solid news-heavy work has been produced. 

    Two of my articles for his class— my 2015 Budget Address story and business feature on a South Side jazz bar M Lounge— have been posted on ChicagoTalks. Make sure to give them a read; both stories vary from eachother stylistically and topically, so I'd appreciate to hear what you guys think! Also, the business feature was a multi-media package. Included in the post is the interview clips and photos of the Lounge itself.

    New to my the "Articles" dropdown is coverage of the ASNE/AMPE Convention's Media Literacy Panel. Their discussion addressed how citizen journalism can be a very effective and powerful tool, communication considered. Take a look here: ASNEFergusonLiteracyPanelPortfolio.pdf

    Expect another post around the end of the semester on some of my final pieces and a JTerm updated with everything I've been working on for CS Interiors. Again, thanks for taking the time to read all of these new additions to my site! 

    Best, Bianca

  • Fall Update

    Seven weeks in, this semester has definitely presented more challenges than expected. I have maintained an editorial internship under Diana Bitting, editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Chicago Interiors and truly appreciate all of the hands-on opportunities I have been given. Putting my news reporting skills that I've refined in class the past two semesters to work, I was assigned to write the Content and Calendar blurbs as well as some of the House Party pieces for the Fall Issue.

    With work still being done in class, expect a few more posts before winter break with links to articles and multimedia projects. In the meantime, browse through a compilation of pages I worked on for Chicago Interiors this fall.

    HBCH_FallIssue_CompiledBSPages_Portfolio.pdf

    Thank you!

  • Midsummer Progress

    After finishing my freshman year at CCC, I felt confident enough in my newly refined journalistic knowledge to dive head first into my planned summer endeavors. Now two months in, I am happy to say I have multiple bylines in Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago's summer issue as well as weekly posts on CollegeFashionista.com. The work I produced/am still producing for these two publications without a doubt has improved my interviewing skills and photography skills. Most importantly, I have a deeper appreciation for the process of creating, perfecting and networking such pieces. 

    Enjoy this PDF of my pieces in CS Interiors; Getting to meet up and talk to design professionals and writing their stories was extremely enjoyable and humbling. Also below is a link to my weekly column on CollegeFashionista called "AROUND TOWN."

    Bianca Smith for CollegeFashionista

    BiancaSmithPages_HBCH July 2014_merged.pdf

    Thank you for taking a look! Until next time,

    Bianca