Hometown: Mufreesboro, TN
Occupation: Creative Writer & Bright Idea Gal
Encounters with the written word she’s proud of: Authoring a book of first-person stories for a hospital’s 60th birthday, starting a library on her elementary school playground
Encounters with famous people she’s not proud of: Bursting into tears while serving tea to Julie Andrews, crashing into Matt Dillon at the Civil Rights Museum while wearing a tortoise costume (her, not him)
At Thinkwell Creative, Katherine takes her big-fun-clever ideas and crafts them into efficient, impactful messaging. Her love of words is past the point of no return, and she’s thrilled to be working with a team that’s as creative and dedicated to thoughtful communication as she is.
Katherine’s childhood was spent mostly reading. She still remembers her dog-eared copy of Caddie Woodlawn, with its yellowed stain in the upper corners from falling into her mashed potatoes at the cafeteria table. This obsession kept her pretty busy, yet she did manage to make time for piano lessons, her two best friends and arguing with her older brother, John.
With an artist mother and an accountant father, Katherine says of her family, “Basically, if Microsoft Paint fell in love with Microsoft Excel, you have my parents. And if they gave birth to Microsoft Word and a colorectal surgeon, you have the Whitfield siblings.” Her dad encouraged Katherine’s passion for new words and information with an after-dinner encyclopedia game they would play as a family. While she may not know who the Tanners or the Connors are, she knows plenty about the Iran-Contra affair.
Education and Career
At Rhodes College, Katherine majored in, you guessed it, English—with an emphasis in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies. She later attended Memphis Theological Seminary and earned a Master of Divinity in Faith, Health and Social Justice. Keeping in line with her passion for reading, writing and communication, Katherine landed a marketing job at a local bookstore after college.
Eventually, Katherine took her talents to one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, where she worked in both the marketing department and volunteer and family support. In these roles, Katherine handled multiple forms of communications and worked closely with stakeholders across the enterprise. Thankfully, she is now wielding her potent brand-messaging and client-storytelling powers here at Thinkwell.
When she’s not gazing adoringly at her husband, Justin, Katherine might be canoodling with her fluffy friends: dog Roscoe and cats Lola and Stripe. Wedded bliss and finding gainful employment in the field she actually went to school for occasionally have Katherine pinching herself. Yet, if she ever feels the need to escape to a different place (or time), Katherine can be found thumping the washboard in a vintage jug band or playing Oregon Trail on Apple Arcade. According to her, she’s about three forded rivers and 90 pounds of bison meat away from requiring an intervention.
Hometown: Cunningham, KY
Occupation: Account Director & Goddess of Git-er-done
Most useful skill for Thinkwell: Can read clients' minds
Most useful skill for zombie apocalypse: Can handle a tractor
If you hear someone at Thinkwell referred to as Reggie, it’s this lady (A.K.A., “the Kristen who came after the other Kristen”).
At Thinkwell, Kristen guides our clients through projects from the moment of inspiration to the point of completion. What we mean is, she can DO IT ALL. Kristen spends her non-Thinkwell time keeping five small children alive. So making sure projects get done on time and on budget? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Kristen grew up in a really small town in southwestern Kentucky (if you’re thinking of Mayberry, you’re not wrong), where she and her younger sister spent their days fishing, riding horses and exploring in the woods.
Pets Kristen had as a child:
1 - dog
2 - cat
3 - raccoons, squirrels, possums and a coyote
4 - ferret
You get the gist. In addition to over-achieving in the Wilderness Badge arena, Kristen was a compulsive reader. When grounded by her parents, the delighted bookworm would retreat to her room to dig into a different kind of adventure. Kristen remembers wanting to be a lawyer because her parents told her she was good at persuading people. She went into advertising instead, earning a degree in Marketing and Public Relations from Murray State University.
If you are looking for an account manager who knows what she’s doing, may we please offer you Kristen’s resume? Her first job out of college was with ALSAC/St. Jude, where she handled planning and marketing for fundraising events. Then she hopped over to the advertising world, working as an account executive at a local ad agency. During her years there, Kristen cut her teeth on all things advertising and worked with some pretty fantastic clients, like the University of Memphis, Methodist Hospital and Live at the Garden. After her first baby, the 60-hour work week didn’t work anymore, and she was offered a work-from-home opportunity with a digital ad agency based out of NYC. This gave Kristen a chance to soak up as much as she could about all things digital while perfecting her talent of working with agency partners. Next, on to Thinkwell! Here’s what she likes best about the kind of work she does now: “I love that I get to work with different kinds of folks and lots of unique projects. Each day is totally different from the last – it keeps me on my toes and I always get to learn something new.”
What personal life? With a full-time job and five full-time kiddos- oh and an awesome husband who helps keep her sane – Kristen does not find many extra hours in her day. In the precious moments after everyone is asleep, she may indulge in a thrilling novel or an 8pm bedtime for herself. Kristen and her hubs love trying new foods and have already started a wedding fund (two sons, three daughters). When asked how she would spend a day with no responsibilities, she answered, “SLEEP. But also, I might sit at a pool. Or maybe go to a movie. Sleep at the pool while watching a movie?” Can we blame her?
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Occupation: Account Director & Master Chef of Communications
Sometimes finds it funny: that she used to faint on airplanes when they closed the door
Never finds it funny: snakes
Ashley Harris is an account director and master chef of communications for Thinkwell Creative. Her diabolical doings include hunting and gathering information and putting it all together in an organized, pretty package. Keeping the project trains moving in the same direction and on the right schedule are among the many skills in Ashley's big bag of tricks.
Growing up in Birmingham, AL, Ashley began her career in communications and found her knack for organization early by being the only girl on her street and bossing around all of the boys.
Declarations by Ashley:
When not playing with neighborhood friends, Ashley spent time at home making Lite-Brite masterpieces in her bedroom and writing creative fiction in the closet. Her only regret from youth is that she was never elected to the Safety Patrol at school. Ashley laments, “It would have been fun to have that much control.”
At Auburn University, Ashley earned a degree in marketing and forever cemented her love of college football. Her husband, Brad, is a University of Alabama fan, but she decided to marry him anyway. On game day, they manage to keep things “very civil.”
Out of college, Ashley began a career in the banking world of Birmingham, where she did administrative work, training, support for new branch openings and, finally, marketing. Banker-by-day, student-by-night, she also passed enough classes to walk away with her MBA from UAB.
Ashley's communication and organizational skills were evident, and upon moving to Memphis for a job change for Brad, she took on a role in culture and communications at Hilton. A few years later, it was time for Brad's job to move the family again; this time to Pittsburgh. Marissa offered Ashley a job working remotely for Thinkwell, and Thinkwell gained an office in Pennsylvania!
Brad and Ashley have two sons, Jack and Sam, and spend most of their weekends in the fall watching SEC football. They also enjoy exploring their new geographic area, carefully, as it offers the second-highest deer/automobile collision rate in the country, watching Jack and Sam play high school lacrosse and playing with their dogs Leo (doxie-doodle) and George (chiweenie). Family hobbies include traveling, cooking, reading, and singing Journey songs at a high volume.
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Thinkwell role: Creative Writer + Copy Ninja
Big fan of: Yoga, meditation and reading in bed
Not a big fan of: Disorganized spaces, like sinks full of dishes or unmade beds.
Erica and writing go together like springtime and flowers or PB & J. And while her friends often think she’s plugging away on the next Great American Novel, she’s usually actually lending her brilliance and linguistic savvy to create clear, resonant and memorable messaging for Thinkwell clients. From ghostwriting for C-suite executives to her younger days as Rochester’s spelling bee champ, Erica is a communications all-star and master of the written word.
As a kid, Erica’s life revolved around two central themes: reading and horses (and, on occasion, reading to horses). Her very first job was working as a stablehand, where she spent most of her time mucking out stalls and the rest falling head over heels for foals. Weekends were spent riding and working, and her earnings were spent buying—you guessed it—books. Always immersed in one series or another, Erica eagerly absorbed all the reading material she could get her hands on and built up one heck of a vocabulary from an early age.
Education and Career
In college, Erica put her discipline, smarts and amazing time management skills to work earning a degree in Human Development from Cornell University. After graduation, she landed a job that allowed her to combine her communication skills and human psychology background in an unexpected way—namely, traveling the country for two years as Britney Spears’ publicist’s assistant (oh baby, baby!).
Eventually, Erica transitioned from her role touring with the “Princess of Pop” to a broader position in public relations and marketing. She honed her focus to copywriting in 2015 and never looked back; now, her clients know they can count on Erica to write anything from succinct, compelling social media posts to meticulously researched feature-length articles. If there’s a story to be told, Erica can tell it—and we’re overjoyed that she’s flexing her brilliance here at Thinkwell.
Erica is a supermom to two amazing daughters, which also means she spends a LOT of her time driving to practices and cheering her girls on at basketball and lacrosse games. In those quiet moments outside the bleachers, Erica can often be found meditating or practicing yoga—both of which she does to help keep herself healthy and grounded. A Brené Brown fan and all-in-all warmly gracious human being, Erica is her friends’ go-to person for clarity, calm and intentional conversation.
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Thinkwell Role: Design Director and Photoshopaholic
Big fan of: Rock bands, such as Stone Temple Pilots, Guns N’ Roses and Alice in Chains
Not a big fan of: Awkwardness, like when people are super serious and show no emotion
What KISS is to American metal rock, David is to graphic design. At his own keyboard with headphones blasting, David brings bold showmanship to the images he creates. Bright, flamboyant and never boring – his work is pretty great, too. Far from a one hit wonder, David prides himself on being able to make the final product match each client’s vision.
David was born and raised in Memphis and dutifully recites the Memphian mantra: “Love the food. Love the people. Hate the weather.” He and his younger brother were good at being little boys and spent their time playing sports, dominating video games and creating new worlds with action figures. And, of course, the greatest game brothers play: How can I embarrass you in front of everyone and make them laugh? David confesses that he still likes this game a little too much. His brother agrees.
When he wasn’t making mischief, David was making art. Drawing since the age of three, he kept at it all the way through art school. There, David says he was trying to figure out who he was, not just as an artist, but also as a young man. What he figured out is that he loves karaoke.
Early in life, when David was having fun with video games, action figures and flipping through comic books, he was also developing a love of design and a unique perspective that have served him well in his professional career. David finds influence everywhere and, therefore, can be a design chameleon, experimenting with whatever style and approach fits the flavor of the project. David has worked at several design firms in multiple media and has won numerous awards. He has also worked with many kinds of people, each with their own creative vision, and learned the delicate art of collaboration. His most important collaborative project, his life with his wife and kids, required that David get really creative when it was clear one of them needed to be home more. So, he left the agency life in search of a small company with flexible hours and lots of heart. Hello, Thinkwell!
David and his wife, Jacquelynn, have three kids, love to travel and aspire to one day live somewhere that has more than two seasons. This family enjoys going to the movies, riding bikes and, of course, drawing.
If David had an afternoon to himself, he might: (1) Run errands, (2) Fix something around the house, or (3) Call up some friends to play flag football. (In other words, NOT SIT STILL.) After some thought, he added that if he had enough time he might go “man”tiquing at the local swap meet. Boring, David is not.
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Occupation: Founder, President & Chief Word Nerd
Things that bug her: Y'all misspelled, incorrect usage of the word nauseous and rAndOm caPitaliZaTion
Things that excite her: chocolate, pedicures and proper pronunciation of her name (Marissa rhymes with Lisa, not Melissa)
Marissa Loper is the founder, president and chief word nerd of Thinkwell Creative. For Marissa, crafting superb communications requires a careful recipe: thoughtful strategy, succinct writing and strong design. She has spent more than two decades perfecting this art form. (Please don't do the math there. Marissa loves celebrating her 29th birthday. Every year.)
Voted Best Sleeper and Lil' Miss Congeniality of the hospital's newborn nursery, Marissa began overachieving at a young age. She dabbled in softball and volleyball (and opera, naturally) as a youth, but truly hit her stride in the classroom. Marissa was valedictorian of her class and went on to double major in business administration and French at Rhodes College. It's a wonder that she found the time to wrangle that hunky football player (Brook Loper) from her accounting class!
Marissa's first job after college was with a wealth management company, where she was a portfolio analyst and French translator.
This job involved:
Unfortunately, it also involved obsessively stalking the stock market, which just didn't feed Marissa's need to be creative and to personally connect with her clients. So she joined an advertising agency as an account executive, then transitioned into the life of a copywriter.
This job involved:
Wine (sometimes, when it was on sale).
In 2001, Marissa left the agency and founded Thinkwell Creative. She believes good communication is the basis for all successful relationships and businesses deserve access to expert, creative assistance in this department. Marissa also believes in finding good help and has handpicked a team that's just as talented and crazy as she is.
Marissa lives in the ‘burbs of Memphis with her husband and three children. Their proudest achievement was recently finishing their aggressive family goal of visiting all 50 states. Did we discuss that Marissa is a bit of an overachiever?
In her nonexistent spare time, Marissa enjoys photography, art, long showers, mindless TV shows, movies, traveling and yucking it up with friends.
Hometown: Germantown, TN
Occupation: Marissa's Right Hand & Master of All Things Supportive
Superpower: Keeping up with three energetic boys while maintaining her love for sunflowers
Quirky Talent: Accidentally inventing "Andrea-isms"
At Thinkwell Creative, Andrea embraces the role of Marissa's assistant with enthusiasm and a keen eye for detail. Her warm presence in the office, combined with her 15 years of diverse work experience, establishes her as a special part of the team. Andrea's ability to make people feel at ease and her unwavering positive attitude contribute to the close-knit atmosphere at Thinkwell.
Andrea, affectionately known as Annie, grew up in a lively household with three sisters and two brothers. With a finance-savvy father and a nurturing, stay-at-home mom, this big family was full of love, laughter and a touch of chaos. Andrea's childhood was filled with dance lessons, family performances and spying on her older siblings' adventures. As a dedicated track athlete in high school, she excelled at hurdles, proving she's always been ready to leap over any obstacle in her path.
Education and Career
Andrea attended Saint Louis University, where she earned a degree in Marketing and Communication. A true testament to her adaptability and dedication, her career has been a 15-year journey through various roles and industries. Now at Thinkwell, Andrea has found her perfect fit, assisting Marissa and enjoying the company of her talented and friendly colleagues.
Family is at the heart of Andrea's world. She and her husband met on St. Patrick's Day at Silky's on Beale Street and have been together ever since, raising three active boys (ages 10, 8, and 4) who adore their cousins. Andrea loves beach vacations with her family, running with friends, and indulging in pizza and movie nights at home or going out for Mexican food—complete with queso and margaritas.
Andrea's favorite pastimes include listening to murder mystery podcasts and diving into cheesy, suspenseful thrillers. Known for her occasional "Andrea-isms," she embraces her quirky side, always ready to help lost souls navigate the grocery store aisles. Above all, Andrea follows the wise words of her favorite quote by Dolly Parton: "If you see someone without a smile today, give 'em yours."
Hometown: Cabot, AR
Occupation: Graphics Guru and Director of Design
Attributes he shares with the Brits (a.k.a. his sometimes-neighbors): Generally kind and polite behavior, not moving someone’s things without asking nicely, an appreciation for proper usage of turn signals
Attributes he shares with American artists (a.k.a. his career peers): Adventuring overseas often, the wild plots of sci-fi and fantasy novels, an appreciation for out-of-the-blue calls from friends just to hear how it’s going
While we’ve never asked Jason if he can drive a stick shift, to Thinkwell Creative he’s entirely clutch. Flash back more than a decade to mid-2010, when Thinkwell Founder Marissa was in need of quick design work, like, yesterday. She rang up her old college friend (three guesses who: his name rhymes with “Schmason”) and beseeched him for help with some last-minute beautification. Ever since, Marissa continues to call upon her college pal for creative genius, and the pile on his virtual desktop has grown to include PowerPoint templates, brochures, web banners, online and print newsletters, logo lockups and more. As far as those things Jason can’t tackle? We’ll let you know if we ever find one!
Jason was born five minutes after his twin sister, Christy (a.k.a., the one who wasn’t a surprise; a.k.a. the fellow Thinkwellian who serves as Head Honcho of Ideas around here!). Jason came by a love for travel from an early age, taking the world by storm on trips with his parents, twin Christy and younger brother, not-Christy, and in his spare time he occasionally did some art stuff. Okay, he spent a lot of his time doing art stuff. Like, this-is-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of time.
Knowing that, one answer to the following quiz should be pretty easy. The other, maybe not so much?
Jason earned two of the following five degrees from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.:
B. Interpretive Dance
D. Latin American Studies
(To find the answers, contact Thinkwell Creative or try consulting a certain, shall we say, “Good Book”? If all else fails, just skim ahead for clues in his bio…)
Much of Jason’s early creative life was spent producing beautiful artwork with pencil and paper, until a chance encounter with a post-grad employer sparked the dawn of Jason’s virtual renaissance. An introduction to the world of graphic design prompted Jason to set his easel aside and connect with the cursor, learning to create a different kind of art within the digital realm.
[Timeout for quarter-life coming of age adventure.]
Bagpipes and drums play as camera pans a serene, rural scene. Voiceover begins…
A young man decides to take a break and leave it all behind—the beauty of Arkansas, gainful employment, ice in his water—to travel to Europe. From the stout Guinness of Ireland to the stout aroma of hostel guests in the Netherlands, Israel and Czech Republic, find out where Jason journeys next in this season of “The Backpack Beckons.”
[We now return to Jason’s regularly scheduled life.]
After returning to Memphis and graphic design, Jason soon brought his talents (and newly found insights into the hostel—er, hospitality industry) to Thinkwell Creative, where he has worked since 2010. An integral part of Thinkwell’s design team, Jason also makes the most of the company’s remote structure to take “bi-coastal” to a new level (we’ve been working from home since before it was trending), periodically taking a LOA from design to serve in the missions’ field overseas. These days Jason is hanging his hat in the U.K., and we feel beyond blessed that he continues to call Thinkwell his work home, even from across the pond.
When he isn’t exploring the world and/or making it a bit more beautiful with his designs, Jason loves to read stories—especially those that come with a heavy dose of the “what ifs.” Jason also spends a good chunk of his free time volunteering his hand, quite literally, as a graphic designer for his local church, in whatever country that might currently be. He also loves stories so much that he’s got a novel in draft form and is working toward publication (we believe in you, Jason!).
If you encounter him in a café or pub, you’re most likely to find Jason engaged in deep conversation, engrossed in a sci-fi novel or daydreaming about the biscuits back home (the cookie kind, when he’s in the States; the breakfast kind, when he’s overseas).
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Thinkwell Role: Account Director & Motivational Maven
Go-To Person for: Having real conversations, offering meaningful encouragement, empathizing with people in difficult situations
Not Your Wingman for: Taking oneself too seriously, recognizing celebrities in the wild (see also: that time Luke Bryan tried—and failed—to chat up Whitney and her hubs at a gelato shop in Nashville)
Whitney’s bright energy, brilliant mind and bubbly personality make her a perfect fit to keep projects rolling and clients smiling here at Thinkwell. And while communications may be her greatest superpower, she’s also incredibly focused and adept at zeroing in on the details. After all, her parent-issued teen driving test involved executing figure eights around light poles, backwards, all while steering a stick shift. Suffice it to say—Whitney’s M.O. is grace under pressure.
As a youngster, Whitney spent most of her time singing along to the radio, making up dances, hanging out with friends and bossing her two younger sisters around. The term “social butterfly” was a commonly repeated phrase on her report cards in elementary school, and - between her wildly creative and encouraging artist mother and her compassionate, people-loving and belly-laughing pastor father - Whitney seldom met a stranger. In high school, she channeled her enthusiasm for others into cheerleading, theatre, choral music and a near-unanimous reign as Homecoming Queen.
Education and Career:
Whitney kick-started her college career at the University of Memphis, then moved to Colorado with family after her freshman year to find herself in the Rockies. One year later, Whitney was married and moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, with her husband, Jed. She reentered school at Liberty University, where she majored in English because, according to Whitney, that’s what you do “when you don’t know what you want to do with your life!”
Fortunately, Whitney’s passion for people and her penchant for teambuilding led her to forge a successful career in marketing, fundraising and corporate culture-shaping. Fueled by her stellar communication skills (thank you, English degree!), Whitney helped drive growth and brand development for three prominent Memphis-based nonprofits before aligning her star with the Thinkwell galaxy. Now, she’s helping our clients tell their incredible stories and confidently tackling every marketing challenge thrown her way.
When she isn’t whipping projects into shape for Thinkwell, Whitney can usually be found at church, on the tennis court, curled up with a good book or converting her house into a tropical forest one exotic plant at a time. She is typically wrangling 3 - 4 personal projects at any given moment (power tools, anyone?) while simultaneously wrangling her three amazing kiddos alongside her husband, Jed. An avid TikTok enthusiast, Whitney is happiest when she’s off adventuring and exploring with her wild and wonderful extended family.
Hometown: Jonesboro, AR
Occupation: Director of Video & Magic Man
Accomplishment he has in common with Dickens, Hemingway and Dostoevsky: Writing a novel
Hobbies he has in common with your teenage neighbor: Playing Dungeons & Dragons, paintball and an addiction to Tik Tok
As the director of video and magic man for Thinkwell Creative, Matt Taylor is living his dream of visual storytelling. Whether he’s working behind the camera, in front of it, editing in the studio or making up some new kind of new way to tell stories, he is passionate about putting moving images to words in order to convey a feeling and a message. And since Thinkwell is all about telling your stories, we’re darn glad he’s here.
Since second grade, Matt has been honing his craft as a visual entertainer. His early work scripting and directing “Scooby Doo plays” has been heralded as boldly exploratory and unexpectedly visionary. (While no one actually said this, we’re pretty sure his teacher implied it by having the whole class act them out.)
In fifth grade, Matt won an award for penning his first novel, full of fantasy tropes and exotic characters. Any similarities to popular Japanese anime from that time or to the Lord of the Rings series are strictly coincidental. By high school, Matt was making highlight videos to showcase the talents of his fellow students. Experimenting with technology that wasn’t yet widely used, Matt was ahead of his time and already hopelessly smitten with visual storytelling.
Matt when on to earn a degree in Audio/Video Production from Arkansas State University and the rest is … well, keep reading.
In college, Matt met a guy who had a relationship with Big Machine Label Group, a company that represents major, chart-topping musical artists. One thing led to another, and suddenly Matt is hopping on tour buses with performers like The Band Perry and Taylor Swift to film everything they do. (We’ve all been there.) At a time when social media was just becoming a big thing, Matt and his colleagues were pioneering new ways of capturing and delivering behind-the-scenes content within the country music industry.
After he got off the tour bus, Matt freelanced for a while, worked on projects for various companies—Coke, FedEx and International Paper to name a few—started his own company and then met Marissa, our fearless Thinkwell leader. Their first conversation went something like this:
Marissa: Hey, I talked to my friend Joe who really knows video and people. He said you’re cool.
Matt: Wow, thanks.
Marissa: Want to go to Chicago with me tomorrow to do a shoot for a client?
Marissa: Nice work, want to officially join our team?
Matt: Yes, please.
Like we said, Matt’s fire gets stoked by effective visual storytelling. In his mind, there’s no such thing as a boring project because through innovative techniques and a fresh approach, every video is completely new. And while he considers his brightest career highlights to still be ahead of him, Matt says the most beautiful thing he’s ever made and will ever make is his sweet little girl, Ivy. Awwwwww!
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Occupation: Accounting Director & Money Honey
A few notable details:
She’s a good listener, mother of four kiddos and fervent Grizz fan. You can often find her outside taming her garden, or inside where she’ll look for any distraction or excuse not to cook dinner.
Kristen grew up in a family that always found ways to make life un-boring. She was the oldest of six kids and recalls a house unabashedly run amok with laughter, fun times, a wee bit of chaos and loud debates over whose turn it was to ride in the front seat. Or take out the trash. Or who put an empty carton of milk back inside the fridge, for crying out loud! You get the drift. As our numbers girl, she’s mostly behind the scenes at Thinkwell, but hopefully you’ll have the chance to meet her and her unforgettable self.
Numbers have always been Kristen’s specialism. Her lifelong love of math began when she sat on the front row of Mrs. Carruther’s class at Germantown High. In no time flat, she zoomed from teacher’s pet to class treasurer to business major at Rhodes College to CPA. We won’t say it’s hip to be a numbers nerd, because who says hip these days? But we can all agree that Kristen is awesome.
We love having our very own mathemagician. Before coming to Thinkwell, she held a number of financial positions, beginning at Ernst & Young in Atlanta and eventually landing in the ad agency world in NYC. She managed to avoid a totally humdrum accounting career by working the books at some high-profile and fun places, including Y&R and WPP. Because WPP’s headquarters are in London, Kristen even got to hop across the pond a few times. She also traveled quite a bit with Ernst & Young and found it fascinating how all her clients ran their businesses so differently. She soaked it up like a sponge.
When she is not crunching numbers, Kristen can be found with a cup of coffee in her hand, squirreled away in a sweet little spot reading on a quiet Saturday morning. That’s a little lie—with three boys and one girl, she merely fantasizes of having Saturdays free to herself, has completely lost touch with what the word “quiet” means and very rarely gets to crack open a book. Although good books and good sports talk radio both make her drool. She is married to another CPA, and they have lived in all kinds of cool cities (Atlanta, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Stamford and, of course, digable Memphis) building a beautiful life together. So you could say they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Wah-hooo, yeah!
Hometown: Puerto Rico (although she has never lived there)
Thinkwell Role: Design Director & Manager of Making It Pretty
Likes she shares with college students: Naps, romantic comedies, and eating pizza at 4:30 p.m.
Likes she shares with octogenarians: Naps, romantic comedies, and eating pizza at 4:30 p.m.
Melissa Webster is a graphic designer and the manager of making it pretty at Thinkwell Creative. After spending hours upon hours in her design school studio learning to perfect traditional artistic mediums, she chucked it all for the instant gratification that comes with graphic design. Communicating something visually really stirs her tea. In a nutshell, Melissa wants to make things pretty, and she wants to do it fast!
A refreshing combination of deeply thoughtful and silly, Melissa is a true introvert and enjoys long hours alone to be creative, but also relishes quality time with friends and family.
Born in Tacoma, WA, Melissa then moved to Germany, then Texas, then Germany (again), then North Carolina, then Alaska, then Texas (again), then Georgia and now Tennessee.
Q:Melissa moved so much because her dad was in:
A nomadic tribe.
The military. (This is the right answer.)
The Witness Protection Program.
While playing geographic hopscotch, Melissa attended three very different high schools.
High school: #1
Potential announcement from principal: “There's a bear outside. So don't go outside.”
High school: #2
Potential announcement from principal: “Football, football, football, football. Football!”
High school: #3
Location: rural Georgia
Potential announcement from principal: (Silence.) There was not a lot going on here.
Melissa crossed from small-town living through the Twilight Zone to the land of leather, piercings and tattoos ... also known as design school. She loved the quirky juxtaposition of the super-hip Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a slow-as-molasses, southern tourist destination. In her words, design school was “ridiculously hard,” and one of her proudest accomplishments is surviving SCAD and doing well.
Not only did SCAD provide Melissa with ninja-like artistic skills, she also bagged a husband there. Once again, in her own words: “I met Austin in a class my freshman year, and I remember thinking, ‘Hey, he looks normal.'” These two crazy kids now have three actual crazy kids, Norah, Eva and Faith, who could not be more perfect if these two designers had Photoshopped them themselves.
Having originally studied interior design, Melissa got a job with an architectural firm after graduating from SCAD. She eventually realized that the graphic presentations she was preparing for clients were more exciting to her than the interior design work within those presentations. So she changed gears and landed an in-house graphic design gig for a glass studio. From there, it was on to freelance, baby, and that's where the real fun began.
Melissa has had the privilege of lending her design skills to numerous nonprofit organizations through City Leadership, a Memphis-based start-up that consults with budding, urban leadership programs. Branding “Choose 901” was been one of her primary projects and is an initiative to encourage dynamic, young entrepreneurs to bring their talents to Memphis. She has also worked with churches, charter schools and several local community programs.
To Thinkwell Creative's benefit, Melissa has been using her professional powers to make things pretty for us for nearly a decade. At present, she is doing so from Atlanta.
If Melissa were not happily married and busily chasing her babies around, we might find her following Marc Anthony's tour bus. She likes Salsa music ... a lot. When doing housework, she blasts her tunes because it makes her feel like the world is good. Let's hope her neighbors also like Salsa music.
Perfect relaxation for Melissa involves watching a great new movie or show with popcorn in hand or drinking good coffee at a scenic outdoor location (preferably near water.)
Deeply rooted in her faith, Melissa is continually looking for ways to make positive contributions to the world that surrounds her. She enjoys cooking, baking for those she loves.