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Exceptional Connections

Exceptional Connections provides behavioral and educational consulting services to meet the needs of children with Autism, ADD, ADHD and other developmental delays. We were so excited to work with co-founders Michele Slowik & Laura Jastrzebski who have over 20 years in combined experience working with families in and outside of the home environment.

The puzzle piece is an easily recognized symbol used widely within the Autism community. It was an easy-go-to symbol and our challenge was to use it in a way that would not seem cliché or heavy-handed. In our final concept for the Exceptional Connections branding, the puzzle pieces come together to create a silhouette of a child’s face. For the child’s face, we sketched out silhouettes of Michele’s two children as possibilities, ultimately using Michele’s son Dylan’s face in the final logo.

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The brand new website for Exceptional Connections is a custom-designed WordPress website developed for all screen sizes and devices. The website features a colorful puzzle piece design with the home page panels interlocking and resizing from wide screen all the way down to mobile.

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As with many of our responsive website projects, we have created unique menu systems for both desktop and tablet views and mobile devices. The screen captures above and below showcase how the home page panels respond to changing screen sizes without any sacrifice to the design. Each panel can easily be updated by the client through the WordPress dashboard, along with custom buttons and alternating yellow and turquoise content panels on the website’s subpages.

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Seeing it in Real Life

Perhaps one of the coolest things about what we do is that the things we make often jump off the screen into real life. The majority of our business is devoted to making fab websites, but we also provide branding and print design services to our amazing clients. Branding (or logo design) in particular is so much fun because these designs are almost always used on business cards, postcards, mailers or even t-shirts.

We recently designed the branding identity for MC Fitness and Performance – a new training facility in Northeast Philly that provides bootcamp classes, small group training and athletic development training. I’ve known Mike Cusack, the founder of MC Fitness and Performance, for about 2 years now. I first met Mike when I was trying to get my butt in shape for my wedding. Bootcamp with Mike paid off – my beautiful couture gown by Janice Martin Couture had to be taken in over 4 inches from the start of the construction and I have Mike to thank for it!

MC Fitness and Performance branding by Beth Blinebury Design

The branding design for MC Fitness and Performance was a collaborative project between Andy and I. Andy had started working on some initial concepts and there was one circle-style logo that Mike really responded to. From that initial concept, I incorporated the lightning bolt into the typography and developed the color palette. The logo then went back to Andy for final tweaks like the circle’s cut-out edging and the distressed texture. Fitness branding can be tricky because you want to avoid anything too cliché (e.g. barbells). We definitely found some inspiration in this compilation of great gym and fitness logos from Abduzeedo.

Since Mike got his hands on the logo files, he’s been actively branding his studio with big decals and custom paint to match the lime green of the logo. And we really love seeing our work come to life in his space!

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Image courtesy of MC Fitness and Performance via Facebook

Image courtesy of @mcfitnessperformance

Beth Blinebury at MC Fitness and Performance

And it’s me, post-workout posin’ by the wall-size MC Fitness and Performance logo!
Follow me on Instagram for more fun photos (mostly of my dogs and beer).

Images courtesy of @mcfitnessperformance

T-shirts are a first for us.  We haven’t seen our branding designs on anything you can wear, so seeing Mike poses with his adorable nephew in matching MC Fitness and Performance t-shirts made our week!

We are currently in the process of designing the full website for MC Fitness and Performance, but you can check out the preview site here and take advantage of the grand opening special rates on bootcamp and training!

An abundance of Bel Biv Devoe references, or building a personal brand

When I set out to start a business I didn’t even realize that I was, in fact, doing just that! In the Spring of 2004, I had just graduated from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Photography. Looking back I now understand my parents’ horrified facial expressions when I told them I was dropping my art education major for a major in photography. Whhhhhaaaat?

But as I journeyed out into “the real world” I took with me some basic web skillz that I had picked up in college. Like any narcissistic artist, I wanted my own website to display my sassy, feminist photography. But that single self-promoting endeavor led to my very first commercial client. I don’t remember exactly what I charged but I’m guessing it’s about 10% (if that) of what I charge today.

I remember trying to come up with a name for this little side business. I struggled with something clever for months and basically just gave up and tacked design on the end of my name. Little did I know that my giving up would ultimately prove extremely helpful in the future as I could work as a sole proprietor under my own name and social security number for years! I’m pretty sure I decided to name the business Beth Blinebury Design while drinking at a bar (not much has changed in nearly 10 years); and so BBD was born! (In 2012, Andy and I established BBD as an LLC so now we are all legit and what not.)

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Although it was unintentional at first, I have created a business and a brand around myself. It has evolved into something more that now involves my business partner and husband Andy, our neighborhood (once Fishtown & now Kensington, although we are Ftown hangers-on), our interests, our love of beer and of course our dogs. I am always surprised and delighted to hear prospective clients ask me how Buckus is doing (after seeing him on our website’s about page) or telling me that they loved my hot pink and white wedding dress (which I agree was amazing). In short, every aspect of my business and my life are intertwined – from this blog post to a meeting with a client. I can’t imagine my business functioning in any other way and I think the almost-accidental naming of the business set the tone nearly 9 years ago this month!

Another bonus of the business name? Lots of Bel Biv Devoe references in meetings.

little oakland wedding

In September, the hubby and I traveled across the country to celebrate the fact that two of the greatest people we know were getting married. Our friends Dan and Amanda are Philadelphia defectors who have one of those adorable friends-first love stories. Thinking about the moment that I found out that they had finally gotten together still brings a big ol’ smile to my face!

When they mentioned that they would be throwing their own wedding in their gorgeous lake front Oakland apartment we immediately started looking for flights out to the West Coast. I offered to take some photographs of the wondrous occasion and I thought it might be nice to share images of this gorgeous couple. It’s also nice to remember the mild West Coast weather during this onslaught of weird Winter weather our coast is currently experiencing, but I digress!

Andy and I threw what I might call a “DIY” wedding, but Dan and Amanda’s wedding was in their living room! A bunch of family and friends helped them prep the night before but Amanda had already created so many amazing DIY paper pieces – from table cards and menus to the adorable doily “coasters” shown above. They also prepared ALL of the food for the dinner and baked some scrumptious desserts.

The room shown above with Amanda’s breathtaking bridal jumpsuit – that’s right, I typed jumpsuit (from BHLDN) – is actually the couple’s bedroom, converted into a lounge area for drinks and desserts.

Dan and Amanda know a lot about cheese. When I say “a lot” I mean enough that if I had a cheese question, I might ask them first… despite the three hour time difference. They also know a lot about Manhattans and it could be said that their wedding weekend got us hooked (more on our newfound love of this cocktail on our turkey day post).

Let me take a moment – or many moments – to speak of the couple’s style. Amanda wore a jumpsuit – BHLDN’s “Lady Lindy” Jumpsuit to be more specific. Girlfriend’s got some balls – this chiffon one-piece is so simple, sophisticated but it takes the right kind of bride to wear it. And wear it Amanda sure did. Her vintage shoes, jewelry and birdcage veil completed the look and it’s effortless.

Dan puts the ‘d’ in dapper. I don’t really know what else to say… except to say that he’s wearing a fab three-piece suit from Al’s Attire and Allen Edmonds shoes.

For their first look, Amanda had the idea to stand back-to-back holding hands. To be fair, I believe she got the idea from Pinterest, but kudos for remembering that detail on the big day!

I know what you’re thinking (East Coasters) – that’s Oakland? I know, it’s crazy. Oakland has a lake? It does, it does indeed.

Then it was off to the Sidebar with this stylish couple for Manhattans! I left after snapping a couple of cute shots so they could enjoy a nice quiet, Bourbon-filled moment to themselves before heading back to their lake house for the ceremony. The ceremony was followed with so much delicious food which I did not photograph because I was too busy eating it. Later, the living room was converted to a dance floor on which everyone was sure to get down – especially me and the bride!

So in conclusion, what a wonderful time was had by all. Andy and I continue our campaign to somehow lure Dan and Amanda back to Philadelphia. Unless we can create a man-made lake in Kensington, I think we’re out of luck.  We will have to “settle” for future cross-country trips with good cocktails and great friends!