Rebecca Reitz isn’t just any designer working a basic 9-5 tied up to her office chair lacking the certain je ne sais quoi that most millennial designers do in this day and age. No actually, as Rebecca would have it, her creative goals and pizazz process are all part of her everyday life in or out of the office. Not only does Rebecca listen to energising music throughout her entire day to expand her creative ability, but she has mastered the knack for collecting seemingly sentimental physical things that spark ideas whilst surrounding herself with objects that reflect her own aesthetic.
Rebecca closely observes culture and subcultures and how they are influencing the overall design perspective, and how design itself can influence them. Understanding that design work has been a crucial part of our world for hundreds of years and Rebecca intends to honour that throughout her own works and views herself as a designer.
We pulled Rebecca away from her pug Hank, and her cat Luna for 5 minutes to find out her love for collecting things of admiration and to understand her thought process when helping her clients to execute their stories well and communicate their experiences through her creative design work.
Hey, Rebecca, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hello there! I’m Rebecca, Becca, Becky, Becs – depending on the day. I’m a graphic designer originally from the Chicagoland area, who went to school in Missouri, and then headed out west to Vail, CO and currently reside in Denver. I love the outdoors, yoga, all things metaphysical, the moon, and my kitty.
Can you tell us a little bit about you and your career background as a graphic designer?
I started designing on the side when I was in school. I worked random internships — from a small fashion blog in Chicago to an engineering firm in the suburbs — making posters for organizations on campus to working at reprographics shop in small-town Missouri. My final year in school I became an apprentice for the lovely Anelise Salvo at Anelise Salvo Design Co. After working tirelessly in school to touch every project I possibly could, I landed a job in Vail, CO at 970 Design. My first three years in Colorado I worked at 970 Design full time while my freelance career started to take off.
How did you get started, what and where did you study?
I had no idea I wanted to be a designer – classic! I loved art and technology but didn’t realize design was a bridge between the two. I started off solely studying advertising, and then realized I wanted to be the one creating that work, not analyzing it. I studied at a liberal arts school in Missouri called Truman State University. It was in school, through internships and my apprenticeship I really started to propel myself fully into that world.
Brand stories are extremely important to embed the DNA, how are you helping your clients to execute their stories well and communicate their experiences through your creative design work?
I am all about intention. With my clients, we aren’t going to talk exclusively about their business–we are going to grab a coffee or cocktail, we are going to talk about them as individuals, we are going to become friends. I want to know it all. I want to know what makes them special, what is their personal journey. Once I understand every piece of what their business and personal brand is, I thoughtfully begin to create their brand story. Making it pretty is the easy part. Making the visual experience authentic and memorable is what takes the time.
You offer a wide range of tools to facilitate brands and help take their creativity to the next level from discovery sessions to packaging design, what would you say is your favourite aspect of what you do?
I truly love all of it. That initial conversation though and the long talks are what I truly love. Making the designs is fun as well, but it’s fun because I feel so connected to my clients. I learn so much! It enriches my life to learn and care about others’ passions – designing for someone’s nearest and dearest project is always an honour. From understanding why they got their first tattoo to their dog’s name to their favorite place to travel, that makes the designing fun. I’m not just guessing, I know where their passions lie, what gives them joy, where their energy is filled and how it is emptied. Regardless, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to complain about creating art every day.
As a full team of creatives at 970 Design, can you tell us about the team and the structure of the company?
Yes – 970 Design practices a concept called ‘holacracy.’ So we really all feel equal. There are three designers, two developers, a project manager, an account manager, and creative director. We are like family – ha! With a small team we communicate often, we all work together often and collaborate often. If someone can draw a cow better than I can and has time, hell yeah they are doing it instead of me. If I have more time to call a client and talk about signage regulations then I’m going to do it. It’s a fairly well-oiled machine at this point, and very cool to watch our dynamic. We also just all love running around outside, doing yoga, going to concerts, and goofing around, eating… the usual!
What would be one thing you would like to see changed in the creative industry for women?
I would love for us to be taken more seriously. What’s new! I’ve recently started to say “no” more and more – or be fully transparent with new and incoming clients. I often notice women are responsive to the “no” — respect the “no” — whereas men push or don’t take my word. It can be frustrating, although I’m starting to notice a shift — I’m noticing that many men are understanding of our thoughts, opinions, work, time. And I can only hope we continue in that direction.
Can you us what is your most seminal point at 970 Design?
There were two branding projects for two restaurants opening up in Edwards, CO — Hovey & Harrison, and Craftsman. We were doing everything from the branding conception to signage, to interior vinyl, to menus, to business cards – the whole gamut. They both gave me an opportunity to pull a brand through as many collateral pieces as possible, and again, to tell a full story. Not just pumping out work — but making sure we had those things that made them special show through. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how well they’ve both done, and honestly to go into each of them and buy a sandwich or a matcha latte and interact with 970 Design’s work in the process.
The most rewarding moment in your personal life?
I would say there was a moment where I was living alone in Minturn, CO, and I looked out my back porch at a large mountain behind my apartment and I realized how far I’d come. It’s hard to leave the familiar, to leave your family, to watch your friends still hang out, to move to a place you’ve never been, with no one you know, to build a business while working full time, to cook and care for your body, to dive into your spirituality, to really do everything for YOU in order to help others. I felt an overwhelming sense of peacefulness and things shifted from there. Self-care and self-discovery are crucial to helping others and lifting up others, and I realised at that moment why I am on this earth. To design, to share, to explore, and to be of service to my community, friends, and family, and myself.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled with the most in your career so far?
Finding my style or niche was probably the hardest part. (And not sleeping?) I think in the beginning you are just floating around in the dark, taking every project you can, working tirelessly. While I still work tirelessly (pretty sure that’s just what being a designer is), I have found clients and a style I really enjoy. My clients and the projects I take on in my freelance career are aligned with my views on how we should care for ourselves, how brands are built, and more.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nature, music, and my metaphysical studies. I just dove into the metaphysical world — learning about astrology, using tarot, oracle cards, understanding what “energy” means, etc. while living alone in the mountains. It gave me a greater sense of purpose — and was a channel that brought me greater self-awareness. So — for example, the stillness and peacefulness I experience on a long hike alone, where I’m fully disconnected, can marinate ideas I get from my tarot reading in the morning. Music gives me those feelings you can’t describe — it gives me life, it understands all emotions, and is a sensation that guides my work. Music and tarot-like catalysts for my inspiration and nature is the space in which those ideas come to me.
What outlets do use to market 970 Design?
It’s interesting being a small business owner while also working at a firm. I’d say that 970 Design is capable of most things — we can do it all, we love to take on clients of most industries and can work on large-scale projects. So it just depends on someone’s needs – that’s how I determined whether I’m talking 970 or talking Rebecca Reitz Designs. But I’d say it’s an honest word of mouth, posts on the ‘gram, etc.
Which methods are you using to build your audience and expand your network?
I would say honestly it’s the ‘gram and it’s getting out into the community. Instagram has become such an unexpectedly powerful tool. It pushes me to get my work out into the world, to connect with like-minded individuals. I’ve also recently moved to Denver so just getting involved with the types of people that are aligned with the work I like to do. Whether it’s going to a moon circle, an essential oils workshop, or whatever — I’m just trying to get out there.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
It was actually incredibly recent. One of my clients said “All things with intention and honesty.” Such a simple concept, but you can say all day you’re being honest or transparent or intentional and deep down you’ll know if something is off or wrong. I will tell people – I tell them that things aren’t a good idea, or we’re moving to fast, or we can’t do this project correctly if we don’t do x, y, z. It has totally given me life in my work and space to create and create well. And it gives my clients time to absorb and make sure we’re moving in the right direction. It also allows for us to take the break to watch New Girl with sushi in our lap — so we can chill out and not feel bad, and return to our work and project refreshed and excited.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
It is tough. There are nights where you are going to be up until 1 AM and waking up at 4:30 AM the next day to get a project done — thanks college for being a boot camp for that! But on the weekend, I’m hiking, I’m going to yoga, I’m goofing around with friends, I’m going to a show. If there is a weekday where I can take a whole night off and just work all day the next I’m going to do it. I try my best to balance it as best as possible. But it’s always a struggle. I’ve just come to realize my work suffers if I don’t come up for air — sometimes all that is, is cooking a meal with a podcast on and taking a bath with candles with my phone as far from me as possible so I can return to my work clear headed.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and leading female pioneers do you also admire and why?
Phew. SO many. I totally love Meg Lewis, Kelli Murray, Annie Tarasova, one of my clients Jill Winterstein of Spirit Daughter, Debbie Millman, Anna Bond, Randi Bookman Harris, so many others. I think all of these people are true to their craft, goofy, and uplifting. As artists and especially women I love to see people care less about themselves, or their image, or how many followers they have and just do the thing and have fun with it. In the process they are encouraging others to create, to be themselves, and it creates this lovely ripple effect of empowerment. I think kindness and hard work is forever the key to a happy, healthy, and successful business.
What YouTube or online space channels are you watching currently?
Honestly, I don’t get too deep into those spaces. I’m more of a Pinterest and Instagram gal who will dive into the internet sometimes, but because I’m always feeling like I’m inside of a computer with my design work, when I’m done with it I prefer listening to a podcast, or reading, or exploring new shops, flea markets, going to workshops etc. to gather inspiration. Sometimes the interweb can bog me down creatively.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I’ve been reading ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ and it really is about our instinctual and feminine energy as women, and wow! It is written by an anthropologist, I studied cultural anthropology while in school, and have really come to respect where we came from, our lineage and how we are still deeply connected to these parts of us. Erase the technology, erase the clothes we have, erase your first AIM screenname, erase it all — and where do we land — who are we — what have we lost along the way — how do we reconnect with that.
What does your Podcast playlist look like?
2 Dope Queens always and forever and ever. I love Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams more than anything. I also love Almost 30, How I Built This, and Your Own Magic. I am a little sporadic with my podcast listening for sure.
Could you give us 1 branding tip you live by?
Timelessness wins. Be authentic and be clear, and you will have a brand that will stand a test of time and speak to you.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
#BEYOUROWN, to me, means diving into your own self-discovery — it takes time to know who you are — it’s a constant process — but do it, just try. I don’t care if people think tarot seems like “witchcraft” (hard for me to even say!) or that crystals are dumb, or that minimalism is an excuse for lazy design, or whatever it is.
You’ve gotta trudge through and away from those stereotypes of everything you love. I’m not forcing anyone else to like it. But I like it – and I’m working with clients who accept me, and trust me, and love me. And in turn, I love them and the people I surround myself with — for who they are, because it’s a beautiful thing to love who you are and absorb the interest, passions, differences, of others.
Lastly, what is next for you at 970 Design?
As of right now, I’m really loving how much I’ve become a part of the team, regardless of if I’m in the office or not — I currently work remotely in Denver. But I would love to continue to become a leader there, to grow my skills, to learn from my team, to find amazing clients, and keep propelling forward. We have an amazing crew, and our work gets better every year — we’re onto something great, and I’m stoked to be a part of it.