Dear Young Ad Student: 15 Strategy Terms You Can Never Be Too Familiar With

Dear Young Ad Student:

No matter what focus you choose to pursue, I urge you to develop skills across the different pathways. The best copywriters have to understand the basics of strategy. The best art directors and designers have to have a respect for the account management process. Media planners and buyers need to be familiar with the the brand’s PR efforts. Even a social media savant should be in tune with the research backing the campaign. Advertising is like a foreign language with many dialects. Anything you can do to be fluent will propel you forward in your career.

With that said, I wanted to share some Planning (also known as Strategy) terminology taught by the one and only Ron Taylor (Remember the 6 Segment Strategy Wheel?) These 15 terms  just might save your life in all the coursework to come. And of course, your careers as well!

  1. Creative strategy articulation – developing message strategy based on research
  2. Tactic – A tool used to achieve strategy, based on previously made objectives
  3. Tactic Evaluation – Reviewing to see if the tactics worked
  4. Context – Perimeters to help determine meaning of things and ideas in people’s lives. Context determines meaning.
  5. Ethnography – In depth study of culture and individuals within it
  6. Reality – There are two: Individual reality and Shared realities. Reality is socially constructed
  7. Bracketing Interview – Accounts for prejudices and biases
  8. Auto-driving – Interview extension, added at the end of an interview to drive discussion further.
  9. Interview guides – 3-5 main topics that keep you on track during the interview.
  10. Emic – Participant language (insider terms)
  11. Etic – Researcher language
  12. Grounded Theory – forming of theory AFTER reviewing data
  13. Insight – Patters/Ideas gleaned from observation and behavior
  14. Account Planning – Also known as strategy, began in England in the 1950’s to ensure the consumer perspective is considered in the qualitative data
  15. What activity matters most in planning? – LISTENING!

Total Greek to you? That’s ok! Just bookmark this and remember me when you take Dr. Ronald Taylor’s Account Planning class. If you don’t get the privilege to being his student, you can still hone in on the concepts he urges us to remember as we pursue our ad careers. If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I’ll help explain the best I can (or refer you to the professors who are way smarter than I am!)


Good Luck,

Senior Ad Student, Graduating in 7 months and 09 days.






Dear Young Ad Student: Love and Work

Dear Young Ad Student,

Choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.choose-a-job-you-love

I don’t know if Winston Churchill, Confucious, or Abraham Lincoln said it – but they never worked in advertising. It’s an encouraging notion , but I’m sorry to say, it’s a load of bologna. I’ve loved writing since the day I could hold a crayon. I’ve written poems, songs, research papers, complex proposals, blogs, brochures, TV scripts, and radi
o spots. I adore writing – I don’t care what.

All that said, I have worked damn hard to get where I am.

I’ve worked every day in intense coursework, agency internships, volunteer positions, and even trivial part-time jobs to pay for the textbooks I work hard to read. The moment I realized I wanted to become an advertiser, that was just the beginning. I am going to work hard every day until I retire from this industry.

That’s just how this industry works. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are or how much you love your field. Advertising is run by pistols, hustlers, go-getters, and fireballs. And it doesn’t just stop with working hard – you have to work harder than the agency beside you competing for your client’s time and attention. And the moment you let up, you fall behind.

Here’s the good news:

The harder you work, the easier it becomes. Your best work is always one step ahead of you, instead of miles. You stay on the brink of your most incredible achievement – you reach it. You celebrate. And you push forward towards bigger and better things.

Plus, you’re doing what you love. Nothing beats that.

Good Luck,

Senior Ad Student, Graduating in 7 months and 17 days.


Chasing Internships and Chasing God.


I’m going to have a lot of praises to sing when I finally get that phone call.

Many of you may know that I’ve invested months of time and tears into pursuing internships this upcoming summer. I’ve learned things about myself that I never realized- how ambitious, persistent, doubtful, and impatient I can be. I’ve found support in places I never expected and watched some cracks form in relationships I never expected. Every day, something new is revealed to me.

All I need now is an opportunity revealed to me, then maybe I can calm down.

I have to admit, I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing Advertising. Every night I pray for God to grant me peace and patience, then every morning I get up and hustle to make it happen. I’m watching the pieces fall into place, but I really need to step back and let God do His thing. In the meantime, I just plan on thanking Him every chance I get, for my drive, for my support system, for my opportunities so far. Maybe, He’ll stand a little closer to me if the news isn’t what I’d expected.

This is Easter weekend, and instead of spending the whole weekend on LinkedIn, updating my portfolio, and sweating over an empty inbox, I’m going to try to relax. My Dad reminded me that no matter what happens, it happened the way God had planned. I need to fuel my faith first, and let Him do what He does best. He will take care of me, even when it’s dark and bleak. Even when it seems hopeless – God is full of surprises. Like resurrecting Jesus and such.

Everyone have a wonderful Easter! I love you all!


Moving Forward in Advertising

Articulating exactly what you want your future to look like – that can be incredibly difficult sometimes. In a recent seminar course, I was tasked with the challenge of laying out my path but I was surprised with how confident I became with what I pictured after graduation.

We were asked to identify three different career possibilities that blend our life passions with our advertising degree. We were to explain why each path appeals to us and how the companies chosen would help us achieve our goals. We had to think about what type of work we are drawn to, the company’s growth and reputation, culture, and also how the company fits into our long-range career goals.



It was originally the copywriting in a Purina pet food that sold me on advertising. I have always enjoyed creative writing exercises as well as creating art from all media, so a career in advertising seemed like a perfect fit. Now that I’m learning more about the industry, I’ve come upon a new challenge. It seems the likelihood of getting a job in copywriting is poor unless I go to portfolio school. My contacts within the larger agencies have all warned me that without going to Miami Ad School, Creative Circus, or VCU my portfolio will be a step below other applicants. Although I was disappointed, I realized the big ideas that spark the creative brainstorming come from the account planning department. I’m eager to learn more about this potential avenue for my future. I’ve also been encouraged to pursue content management after a yearlong internship with a digital marketing consulting firm. I’ve loved strategizing and analyzing social media efforts of big and little companies.

I’m hoping to learn as much as possible about each of the three avenues, Social Media Management, Copywriting, and Strategy. Fortunately, there are four advertising agencies that not only offer positions in these departments; they all have a reputation of positive cultures, progressive strategies, and loyal accounts. Their client rosters each have a strong presence of the industries I’m drawn to. Travel, Media and Technology, as well as Food and Beverage accounts peak my interest the most. They are all located in New York City, the advertising capitol of the world, and the place I’d like to call home.


Grey is a full-service agency known most recently for their extensive collection of Cannes Lions. Since 1917, they have been building some of the world’s most recognized brands. Their focus is to accelerate the potential of their client’s brands with powerful creative ideas across all touch points.1

Right now, they are actively expanding their strategy department, seeking a strong, quick thinker who is self-motivated, and proactively pushing ideas forward.2

They must be inquisitive, and driven to use data as a tool for creative inspiration. In order to excel in this position, I must have the confidence to juggle multiple assignments while naturally providing leadership with clients and internal teams. I’ll have to be a strong communicator and a great storyteller. I think, upon graduation, I would be a perfect candidate for this position, and I would hope to work with travel clients such as Finnair, Emirates Air, the British Council, or perhaps technology companies like Motorola, Pandora, and Cannon.3

Grey, and the guidance of my alumnus contacts within the agency, have been a huge part of my goal development. Sarah and Joey have been my trailblazers, not only for finding success in the industry, but also for fighting for opportunities while still in college. They’ve helped me set higher goals for myself and push myself harder to stand out. They encourage their brands to think similarly. If I had the opportunity to work at Grey, I would be able to push my accounts and myself forward towards insights and innovation that will ignite their brand.


Another agency with a long-standing reputation is McCann Erikson. This agency was founded in 1902 and focuses on digital communication, customer relationship management, and experimental marketing.4 I had the privilege of meeting with this agency and experiencing their culture first hand. I felt welcomed and instantly felt a genuine connection with the account managers. They were engaged and curious about my life and my plans moving forward. I can only assume their accounts are treated as well.

McCann is actively seeking a copywriter to create a central advertising direction for global campaigns. The new copywriter will uphold McCann’s believes that work must be collaborative, passionate, and creative and support diversity in order to exceed client expectations.5

My first job would be to develop and produce creative concepts through execution on assigned brands. I would be helping to determine a written expression for the advertising. I must contribute to layout and storyboard development with the creative teams and maintain quality control in every step of the process. Again, this position demands excellent storytelling skills as well as the ability to present and speak confidently. A creative portfolio will be expected, showcasing my own brand concepts and campaigns. If McCann saw this potential in me, I would like to work with food clients like General Mills, Jose Cuervo, or Nespresso. This company also has a great list of technology accounts like Microsoft, Verizon and Nikon.6


From local to global, Mcgarrybowen’s team of 800 have passionately grown brands from all categories through all channels of communication.7 Having only been founded in 2002, they have been quite successful, while still remaining a sense of humility. This quality could be felt when hearing any of the employees talk about Mcgarrybowen as a brand. They promote passionate ideas, believing in the talent and ambition within the agency, collaboration from all corners, and personal growth through mentorship and leadership. For these reasons, I would love the opportunity to be a Jr. Copywriter at Mcgarrybowen.8

The expectation for this new copywriter would be high. I would be responsible for ideas and writing for simple layouts for one or more general advertising accounts. I must be quick to adapt to different strategies and formats while being able to think across all types of media. I would have to be independent but still confident in my team building skills. It takes an extremely self-motivated, well organizes person to be a copywriter for the Mcgarrybowen accounts. I believe I have what it takes to elevate brands like Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Kraft Heinz, Marriott International, Disney and United Airlines.9

While I think the other agencies would help me grow as an advertiser, I think Mcgarrybowen would also help me grow in character. You can tell this modest agency won’t soon lose sight of its goals. The very first prop used in their very first campaign is still sitting right in the lobby to serve as a reminder. They’ve got a lot more growing to do, and they wouldn’t have come this far without the enthusiasm and courage of their original three owners. I think being surrounded by such brilliant and successful people, who value humility would be a great example for me.


J. Walter Thompson is another globally recognized marketing communications brand that has been igniting brands since 1864. They produced the first ever TV commercial in 1939 and have only maintained that reputation for leading edge content.10

They creative pioneering solutions that build enduring brands and business by adopting a unique set of principles. The 4 C’s: curiosity, collaboration, capability and courage best embody the traits of the agency, the work they produce, and the aspects they seek in new hires. They are looking to grow their Social Media Managers, particularly in San Francisco, but I could potentially relocate to New York after proving to be an asset to the agency.11 My job would be to produce content for publication to the company website and social media platforms. Between content creation, maintenance, and editing, I would be helping elevate their brands across the digital plane. I would be distributing information for email blasts, newsletters, and databases as well.

Whether in New York or San Francisco, I would feel right at home within the culture of the agency. They encourage teamwork, inquisitiveness, the pursuit of new knowledge, and the realization that the difficult solution could be the best. I was personally very concerned with the collaboration aspect across departments. I was afraid if I committed to strategy, I would never be able to contribute a creative idea again. They reassured me that great ideas come from all corners of the agency.12

These agencies aren’t just global leaders or industry icons; they are groups of people who love what I love. They all show a genuine appreciation for their employees as well as their clients. You can tell because some of these accounts have been loyal for decades, and some of these executives have tried to leave but keep coming back. It takes passion, extraordinary work, sincere relationships, and enthusiasm for improvement to have such retention. I’d be lucky to work with any of these agencies, and I hope to contribute to the next Lion winning campaign.





























How to be the World’s Greatest Marketing Intern (His Words, Not Mine)

marketing intern

by Phoebe Spooner, {grow} Community Member

From one {grow}-ling to another, I’m here to share what I’ve learned in the past five months as a young professional in the cut-throat internship world. My name is Phoebe and I am Mark’ Schaefer’s intern. Mark offered me this opportunity after my sophomore year at the University of Tennessee. I was young, inexperienced, and believe it or not, studying in an entirely different field of communication. Mark saw my content marketing potential buried below my creative advertising shell, and thus I became Phoebe, the Amazing Intern (His Words, Not Mine).

Now, I know there’s a huge community of young professionals that follow{grow}. I thought it would be cool to share a few tips on how to walk away the most employable intern you can possibly be.

1. Hit the ground running

It may take some time finding your place in the food chain, but the best way to start is to dive in.

The first few weeks can be intimidating because you aren’t sure what’s expected of you. The best way to overcome this is to exceed their expectations, or at least try. For me, I had to spend some quality time getting acquainted with Excel, but Mark was kind enough to sit down and go over the basics for me. Just a few months later, I’m crafting the finest tables in my advanced courses at school.

2. Reach out to predecessors

At Mark’s suggestion, I contacted Mark’s previous intern, and she has been a goldmine for suggestions and support–especially when I was just getting started. After one reply, Brittany’s email reassured me that I was in the right place, and with hard work, this team would help me grow and keep growing.

3. Be 100% transparent

Whatever you do, don’t lie about your abilities. Do you know why? Because they can’t teach you until they know what to teach. The goal is to communicate at every step of the way. Your concerns, road bumps, and even the little victories. You’ll get more out of your time, and your company will get more out of you.

4. Cultivate an arsenal of new skills (besides getting coffee)

At the University of Tennessee, they encourage students to only pursue internships that will challenge you in your field of study. That means unless your field is the coffee industry, you should be doing more than making coffee runs.

You should walk away from your experience with an arsenal of new skills that will help you stand out. If your internship isn’t providing you chances to learn and grow, you should fight for more exposure to the skills you’ll need in your next phase.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

This one hits home for me. I’m still learning that I’ve got a lot more mistakes to make before I’m the best intern I can be. Mistakes can be hard to face, but you’re surrounded by people who are invested in your progress and success. Don’t take it too hard when they’re honest with you.

6. Represent your company at all times.

Maybe it’s just the industry, but I’m very conscientious of how powerful making a good impression can be. Because you’re an extension of your team, you’ve got to maintain a level of professionalism on and off the clock. Whether I’m joining Mark on a client call, or I’m touching base with remote team members, I try to remember that I’m a part of the company dynamics. I’m a part of the success puzzle.

Do you have any other tips for a successful internship? Share them in the comments below!

phoebe-spoonerPhoebe Spooner is a blossoming creative advertiser and blogger with a passion for digital marketing. She is currently studying at the Univeristy of Tennessee and working as Mark Schaefer’s intern. After graduation, she aspires to be an art director, copywriter, or director of content ignition.


This post was written as part of the Grow community for BusinessesGrow. which provides businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become better marketers. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program as an intern, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent BusinessesGrow’s positions, strategies or opinions. BusinessesGrow had  final editorial control of this content.
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Sharon Price John: Build-A-Bear CEO, and my Spirit Animal


You know you’re a true advertising student when the only time you wear makeup anymore is for Ad Club Day at the University of Tennessee. We had been jazzed all week with excitement for our guest speaker, the one and only Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear and Alumnus from the UT Ad program.

Sharon went on the New York City Professional Development trip through UT(the one I just got a scholarship for). She was a sponge the entire trip, learning as much as she could between the time they landed to the moment she opened her hotel window on the last day and shouted. “I’m coming back”.

She got an internship with an industry leading agency in Knoxville called Tombras, which led to other local opportunities. She was working in a different agency when she realized that New York was where she belonged in the next stage of her career. With nothing but the Redbook (a national list of ad agencies) and a list of Top 100 Agencies from a recent copy of AdAge, she crafted a truly insane plan. She decided that she wanted to work in a top 10 Global Agency in Manhattan, and she was going to pick up the phone and call these agency’s Executives and ask to send in a resume.

Believe it or not, there’s a big difference between sending a resume to an HR department and having your resume walked to the HR desk by the Vice President of the company. Write that one down, Phoebe. What’s the worst that could happen?

So here’s where Sharon loses her absolute mind. After getting a few calls back, she decided she would go to Manhattan and take down three interviews a day… I mean how big can the little island be, right? Surely that’s possible.

Well, she made it possible. And it’s a good thing she did, because here’s where my ENTIRE Ad Club gasped aloud: She HAD to made it possible. She HAD to get a job offer because… she already left her apartment in Knoxville. All her things were in storage besides the suits in her luggage and her briefcase.

So she’s clearly a kick ass woman, and DDB recognized this during her second interview. They offered her a job, but told her they would call her in a few days with details. Sharon then pulls another “what’s the worse that could happen?” She opens her mouth and her “No Lose, No Fail Attitude” spilled out.

She says, “Why not hire me right now. Today?” AND THEY DID!

If you can’t tell, Sharon is my spirit animal. 1) She’s kick ass. 2) She is highly motivated. 3) She won’t take no for an answer 4) She gets shit done. Today she is the CEO of Build-A-Bear, and every step of her journey, every creative, strategic, and corporate rung on the latter of success… she completely slayed. I’m beyond amazed by this woman who went from nowheresville in East Tennessee, to Knoxville, to the top of the world. 

An Open Letter to Friends During College:

Dear Friends,
If I don’t make time to be a decent friend this semester – please understand that I had a choice to make between a full friendship circle, and everything else on my plate. I’m working on the career of my dreams, working a job that depends on me, and living in (and affording) wonderful safe apartment of my own. I was invited to extend my internship though next summer to allow myself another year worth of growth and networking 
And I intend on doing it all without crying.
That means making some choices – and sparing no feelings in order to stay on top. I recognize the value of the gesture, a lunch date, or coffee, or really any increment of your precious free time. I know it’s hard to come by and you’d like to spend some of it with me. And when I can make it happen, I’d love to join you – but please don’t be upset or offended should I decline. It’s not that I don’t love you. I just really love keeping my head above water first.
Thanks for loving me through the next two years. One day into my Junior year, I’m already confident that I’ve spread myself too thin. It’s only going to get worse. I’m really looking forward to inviting you all to my pied-de-terre on the other side of the world when I take over my industry. In the mean time, your patience means so much to me. Thank you for understanding.

Spread Too Thin? Here’s the Secret:


August is upon us. Do you know what that means? No more procrastinating.  Hopefully your classes are scheduled and your term bill is squared away. Your laundry is clean and folded because if it’s not yet – you’re probably hopeless. And Oh Man. I really hope you have your internet access enabled soon because your Netflix misses you.

I unfortunately, have not, they are not, it is not.

I can however tell you,  I moved into an apartment last week and I finally have groceries AND a pot to cook it in. AND I just launched a big campaign for my internship. At least I know where my classes should be located, and that’s good enough for me. I’m surviving a major management change while keeping my hotel guests very happy.

Oh, and this week I’m watching 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a giant house. And hosting a yardsale  #HUSTLE

How have I not drowned yet?  Here’s the only reasonable conclusion I’ve come up.

Don’t half ass it. Dive in.  Any other time in my life, I would have skimmed the surface of all these responsibilities. Surely, there’s no way you could give 110% to all these overwhelming tasks. You just don’t have it in you.

But actually, you do.

Blackboard with chalk

It turns out, your determination doesn’t stop at 100%. You set the bar. You dive into every task on your plate. So what if you only have an inch, go deep. If you set your goal to “just get it done, even if that means doing a crap job”, that’s exactly what you’ll do. If you set your goal to “dominate everything. No retreat. No surrender. Take no prisoners. Show no mercy.” Guess what will happen.

Are you going to set yourself up for success? Or are you going to set your self up for halfassery? You may be spread thin, but you won’t run out. 

8 Ways Your Pet (and You) Can and Will Survive Being Separated During College.


Maybe it’s just me, but my pet is my soulmate. She’s my spirit animal and my totem. I swear if she could speak, my voice would come out. She’s a sassy little sh*t, but I love her more than anything in the world. And for that reason, I knew bringing her to a tiny apartment on the corner of a busy intersection would be a bad idea. I know it would be torture never getting to play outside. Plus she would get lonely (and destructive) if I left her alone for a full school day, followed by a full work night. The hardest part about being a pet parent is deciding what’s best for your furry angels. Sneaking forbidden pets into a dorm, for instance, might not be ideal for your buddy. Here’s a few tips to keep pets’ (and your) spirits up while you’re away at school.

  1. Ask Family to Play Bigger Role. Having family members take on more responsibility with your pet will help him/her adjust to you being gone. For instance, if you always walked Fido and all of a sudden your brother is the one with the leash and you are nowhere to be found, this can cause some anxiety for pets. It will also provide you some comfort knowing your family is playing in active role in maintaining Fido’s happiness.
  2. Video chat – As goofy as it sounds, seeing your baby alert and aware can provide so much more than a picture. Plus, if your pet can recognize you in the screen, you both can interact and feel reconnected.
  3. Don’t Make a Big Deal of Goodbyes. At least in front of your buddy. If you’re expecting a tearful goodbye, have a distraction prepared for your pet. Animals can feel the emotion of their owners. If you don’t make a big deal of the goodbye in front of her, it will help prevent depression once you’re gone. You don’t want to start a semester with the distraction of concern for your buddy’s depressive state.
  4. Speaker Phone – If your pet is attached to your voice, speaker phone can be surprisingly comforting. Even if you’re just catching up with your family, being on speakerphone where your pet can hear might ease some of the discomfort of being separated.
  5. Frame and Display Pictures. This one is all for you, students. When you used to spend every night cuddled with your baby, a new home just doesn’t feel like home without their presence. Sometimes, just looking at the photo on the nightstand is enough.
  6. Video of Cuddles. Maybe it’s just me, but on my last night at home, I recorded a video of my kitten crawling into my lap for our nightly cuddle sesh. I knew it would possibly be my last chance to cuddle with her before bed.
  7. Visits, and more Visits. Remember that time you wanted a college as far away from Mom and Dad as possible? Now you’re wondering how many trips home you can afford until the next holiday. Go spend time with the only ones who have truly never judged you for your pajama weekend Netflix binges. Fortunately, I live close enough to home for my kitten to visit the apartment for the day. However, every situation is different. And I took the only spare bed with me, so the only night time cuddles I’ll ever get again will be in the apartment – and you know how long it takes cats to adjust and relax in new surroundings.
  8. Watch for Health Concerns. It’s not unheard of for pet to develop depression and anxiety during bouts of change. In fact, some pets tend to act out when you change the furniture placement. When their humans move away, especially their favorite human, it can create some trauma in their lives. Make sure your family watches eating habits, behavioral changes, and potential illness. Alert your Vet if you see any significant concerns. Sometimes the cure is as simple as a good belly rub from their one true best friend. But other times, some professional intervention may be best for your pet’s health and safety.

Leaving your best friend its hard. I know. I actually made a trip back home so I could prepare this post with her on my lap. But if you’re as in love with your pet as she is with you, you’ll find ways to make it work. Just communicate, keep your eyes out for warnings, and cuddle every chance you get.

Calling All Vols: Volunteer Gear is pouring into KARM as We Speak. #GBO

Attention University of Tennessee Volunteers

Remember last semester when the Vol Shops put all of the Adidas on 50% off? And half of you was like *throws money at teller *walks out IN #11 Jersey. But the other half of you was like…. *throws money at teller *walks out with Anatomy textbook in tears.

The only thing we hate more than 8 a.m’s is the wait for Football Season. All we can do to pass the time is gear up. And do I have news for you. Today, I was dealhunting at KARM (Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries), the thrift store. I was minding my own business when one of the managers rolled out an entire rack of Orange and White. Then another rack. Then another rack. Then rack number four.

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People.  Someone bought out ALL the Adidas and donated it to our neighborhood KARM. If you thought 50% off was a steal, you need to see KARM’s prices. Plus, the money is going back to our community to provide hot  meals and safe shelter for our neighbors.Can you say, win-win? The gear has been distributed to KARMs all over town!

And really, is there a better way to prep for the season? Vol Nation at it’s best. We’re so lucky to have an education, housing, access to cafeterias full of food – We’re the lucky ones. Now is our chance to rev up that Volunteer Spirit before the season starts.

After I tried on like 15 things, the manager mentioned that the four racks before me were just the beginning. They’re processing an entire campus worth of Vol Gear in the back. I decided to hold off on my Lady Vols rain jacket…. But you bet your sweet molasses I’m heading back tomorrow to put my money where my mouth heart is. My community!

Also, KARM‘s website just updated for 7/27…..954 Meals were Served and 348 Guests received Shelter. Every single purchase goes directly to Knoxville, for Knoxville, from Knoxville. So don’t forget when your dorm bookshelves don’t sell on Craigslist – you can still donate at 733 Hall of Fame Drive and make a difference!



I call this look “Day Off Chic”