Today we’d like to introduce you to Brianna Coleman.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In the spring of 2016, I left Emmanuel College, located in Fenway, with both my BFA in Graphic Design and a carnivorous desire to start designing in the real world for real people. Boston provided many different avenues for me as a young designer, and at first, if full-time work opportunities seemed either extremely overwhelming or underwhelming in terms of exciting companies to work for. I did not know where I wanted to start, so I continued doing small design projects on a freelance basis, taking any work I could — until I saw an ad for a graphic design job to come on board for a multi-media food company just getting its feet on the ground.
A food-related company seemed immediately appealing to me, having worked in restaurants throughout my college and high school years with, surprisingly, good experiences. The food world was familiar and a huge part of my life already; having come from working in food from a different perspective helped me come into it as a designer with a unique view. After one interview led to another, I was soon a part of the two-person Art Department at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, where I began working on any and every type of design I ever studied. Between a 6-issue/ year magazine, cookbooks, a subscription-based website, TV show, radio show, and in-house cooking school (right beneath my desk!) I had my hands full. I jumped in ready to design and help forge alongside the Art Director a new brand that would break in the Boston cooking scene and beyond.
As months quickly flew by, my role at Milk Street morphed into the Associate Art Director with changing job tasks. I discovered a role I never anticipated playing in the art world and fell absolutely in love. Particularly, a huge part of my job became coordinating, running and art directing all of Milk Street food photography photoshoots. With the help of the Art director at Milk Street, we were able to find an amazing team (very talented photographer and food stylist) who helped evolve our photography and brand into something beautiful, unique and truly represented what Milk Street is trying to do – Change the Way you Cook – via photo media.
Food photography quickly became one of my favorite parts of my job and I now get to make a delicious and special mark on the food photography landscape of a vast cooking world. Appearing in magazines, cookbooks, a TV show and cooking school both downtown Boston and online, I am a part of an amazing team of people to help home cooks improve their skills and also look at fresh, bold and clean aspirational food photos as they scroll or flip through to make that Somali Chicken Noodle Sou, or that Tangerine Almond Cake with Bay-Citrus Syrup.
Another part of Milk Street that is quite fascinating and special is that about 90% of the staff are all women. Working in a community of women who are talented at everything from recipe development, marketing, food education, photography, food styling, design and more is such a wonderful and uncommon occurrence in the business world. My journey to my current role at Milk Street has been both a challenging and extremely rewarding one and continues to be.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to get where I am today may have seemed straightforward from a superficial perspective after having written down the bullet point of events, however, between every line, there were long days, early mornings, sweat-inducing projects. Also, since I am a part of a small company who does a LOT of things to put it simply, everyone in the company including myself juggles what seems like an insurmountable amount of work at any given moment.
My advice to young women in the professional workforce is going after what you want, but: be prepared, be over-prepared, never be late, SPEAK UP, voice your option and OWN it. Especially in the design world, you have to be able to defend your decision making with a clear voice. I would also say an important part of being a young professional accepts the fact that you are going to make mistakes, but learn from them.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
As an Associate Art Director for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, I do a wide range of tasks on any given day. My job touches on every department of our multi-media company.
A large part of my job is to organize, oversee, art direct and prop-style food photoshoots to capture all the recipes being developed for Milk Street that are used in a plethora of different departments – magazine, cookbooks, online cooking school, social media, product packaging designs and more. I am very proud of the work me and my team does and I really could not do this without them. The food stylist, photographer and I collaborate in to capture our food in an authentic and aesthetically pleasing way that represents the message of Milk Street: to Change the Way you Cook. We work to capture that frame of Saffron Risotto that will spark excitement in the home cook.
To name some other work I do while I’m off-shoot: I design print and digital assets like brochures for cooking classes, packaging design for our new line of pots and pans, help design and launch our new online cooking school, give art direction for our recipe videos created for social media and other smaller tasks like putting together email designs. All in all, there’s never a shortage of work for the art department at Milk Street!
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
In my experience specifically, I’ve found that being a YOUNG female in a leadership role can be tough to navigate in an industry where lots of experience is preferred and valued, but a fresh perspective of young designers are needed. It is just as much age as much as gender when it comes to my personal facing barriers in the food world (which is male-dominated) and also in the design industry.
In the very beginning of my career, I often felt insecure because of my age but confident in my work – which is a direct reflection of what should matter in the job and is a vital asset when trying maneuver and wager against any doubts older, more experienced workers may have.
- Website: briannacoleman.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: bri_coleman
- Other: 177milkstreet.com
Connie Miller of CB Creatives, for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street