Before applying to Brandcenter, my only real work experience (aside from several college internships) took place in restaurants. I started working at my dad’s restaurant on the Outer Banks when I was fourteen, and continued on and off until I graduated from Brandcenter. While I lived in Charleston, SC and attended the College of Charleston, I worked in various restaurants around the Holy City. My favorite restaurant to this day (sorry, dad) is The Ordinary, a fancy seafood and oyster hall, and the year I spent working there holds some of my most cherished memories and favorite meals.
Despite my deep love for restaurants and good food, I never viewed restaurant work as a career I would pursue for the rest of my life. And before going to Brandcenter, I never considered how I could merge my love of writing and branding with my love of restaurants. But during school, I discovered part of the venn diagram that my two passions shared.
The first time I got to combine these passions was in Scott Witthaus’ Visual Storytelling class, where we learned how to film and edit. I had never even touched a camera or heard of Final Cut Pro before this class, but by the end of the semester I could navigate both somewhat skillfully (thanks, Scott!). We worked in teams to develop concepts for commercials and then film them, but the final assignment was always a solo passion project, where students chose their own topics and developed short films about them. We were told about the project on day one of the semester, so some students chose to work on it for the duration—depending on the complexity of the subject.
I knew right away that I wanted to film a mini-documentary about my dad’s career in the restaurant industry. He opened The Blue Point in 1989, and since then it’s remained one of the Outer Banks’ best restaurants. The Blue Point is my second home, and I wanted to show my dad how proud I am of what he does, and how significantly his career has impacted my life and values system. At the time, he was also in the process of opening another restaurant in Norfolk, VA called Coach House. I wanted to show the massive effort that goes into opening a new restaurant, and how much thought goes into each and every detail—from the lighting to the acoustics to the menu to the staff.
Getting to show him the completed video was one of my proudest moments, and the reception I received from Scott and my classmates was so generous. In a matter of months, I went from not knowing how to take a lens cap off a camera to creating a mini-documentary that I’m still very proud of. I’ve had several other opportunities to do work for my dad since making that video, and all of them are thanks to the skills I learned at Brandcenter.
I’m so grateful for every opportunity Brandcenter gave me to explore my passion for restaurants. I ordered a coffee table book recently that’s full of creative restaurant branding from around the world. I like to make a cup of tea and look through it when I’m feeling in need of inspiration, no matter what I’m working on. Brandcenter gives you the tools to explore every single one of your passions with a depth you never knew was possible. You don’t get all the answers in sixty weeks, but you get the tools you need to answer them for the rest of your life.