I finished my first week at Naterra International on Friday. It was an interesting week, full of ups and down as I started to get my feet with package design in a corporate environment.
My first day started off ok (got there only a few minutes before the boss :P) and I was led to my workspace. The office is located in Flower Mound, TX, about 26 miles away from my house in Plano. It's quite a drive in the morning and afternoon but I really wanted to expand my skill set with package design! The office space is pretty small, consisting of 15 half-length cubicles clustered in sets of 6 or 3. The cublicle space itself is pretty large with filing cabinets, extra monitor space, and a phone. The previous tenant of the cubicle, a brand manager, had left quite a lot of material on the desk and you could clearly tell that the desk needed a dust. I cleaned up my desk the best I could and set up my workspace. I also brought my VGA cable and attachment and had a wonderful setup of not two, but THREE monitors. 🙂
Right after having done so, my boss, the Art Director, requested to see me to give me my first assignment. Equipped with my faithful sketchbook and pen, I followed him into one of the three conference rooms within the building. My first project was exciting: I was designing a skincare line for a celebrity!
I immediately got started on the project and was expected to present a conceptual deck (a powerpoint of sorts) by the end of the day! I was super excited but also super nervous. Although I have done a lot of graphic design in my time at Rice, I am very unfamiliar with the category of package design and using Illustrator for EVERYTHING (I'm an InDesign Diva otherwise since I've done mostly print design). Just as I was getting started, I was called into the weekly Marketing Meeting. In the meeting not only was I very confused, but also struggling to keep up with all the different acronyms and names being used. Some examples:
- SKU- Stock Keeping Unit. This is the term essentially used for a product.
- SCB- Soft Cotton Bottoms. A particular acronym for a flavor of Baby Magic
- EOD/EOW- End of Day/End of Week. To signify the deadlines and pace of work to be expected for a project.
- Weight Declaration- The text on the product that tells you what the quantity is.
- IRC- Instant Redeemable Coupon
- POS- Point of Sale
I marched back to my desk right after the meeting and began working on the renderings. Monday ended on a sour note because of a personal issue but I got through it. I eventually completed this project on Wednesday morning, after rounds and rounds of edits. That's one thing I've definitely had to learn about package design: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHANGES. I've worked in publication design and completely understand that changes are inevitable but it seems as if package design is inclined to always have SOME kind of alteration. With the project at hand, Tuesday was a wonderful day because my sole attention was focused on the project. The marketing team also went out to lunch so it was nice to finally get to see the faces behind the cubicle walls.
Wednesday and Thursday were more stressful as I had to finish up some projects in a timely fashion and also begin graphics for a web sweepstakes campaign being launched. Thursday especially kind of slow as I was having major computer problems. Although I finally got the work done, it was a struggle. I spent Friday familiaring myself with the projects and finally getting the hang of things. I went out to lunch with the other intern in the office, Melissa. It was nice to be around someone my age and gossip a little about the office ;). I was also able to take a product home for trial on Saturday and absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend the Tree Hut Hawaiian Kukui Body Scrub! It makes your skin feel as soft as a baby's bottom. Quite literally.
Tree Hut Group Shot, Created by yours truly, 06.06.2013
Naterra has actually been around since 1922, having started as a local company for skincare and beauty products named Superior Products Company. In 1994, under the leadership of new owners, the name was changed and the company really took off. Since then, they have come a long way, expanding to two locations (a central office in Flower Mound and a manufacturing facility in central Dallas, releasing over 10 different brands and over hundreds of products. Baby Magic and Tree Hut are the two brands that are most well-known, and they sell like hot cakes!
What astounds me about the company is that they are a multi-million dollar corporation, with a team of only 15 people. Their brands are shipped to Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, and to various other major stores in the United States (they are even expanding to Canada!). The team includes sales, brand manages, the art director, and financial analysts, but for the success and recognition the company receives, it is simply amazing!
With that said, one of the hardest challeneges that I've had to overcome in the last week has been the pace of the office. Having just come out of college, my work mantra has always been to keep chugging. Throughout college, I constantly managed multiple design projects at once, while still finishing schoolwork. However at the office, everyone is at leisure. No one seems like they are in a hurry to get anything done, but they do get it done by the deadline. I don't know if it's the fact that they allot themselves more than enough time to get it done or if that's just the pace that they work, but everyone takes their time and is not particularly stressed. Maybe working here this summer will finally teach me to slow down 😛