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Isobel Mills (BFA ’12) made her passion her profession thanks to a UGA education

Isobel Mills (BFA ’12) is always eager to try new things. As a child, Mills was interested in puzzles, building with Legos and drawing. She was always drawn to texture and she found a way to bring texture to life through ceramics.

She knew she wanted to major in art, but once she was accepted into the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, she discovered the parallels between ceramics and fabrics. Once she learned to sew, there was no turning back.

“When I see a picture or a painting, I think of how to make it textural. I always see pleats,” said Mills.

She moved to New York a month after she graduated and spent the next eight years working and learning.

“My UGA degree prepared me to do many different things, and I tried many different things—from interior design to jewelry design—but I never worked as a fabric designer, so I continued to create my own fabric designs when I wasn’t working,” said Mills.

“I decided to quit my job at the end of 2016. I then made it my job to learn the business. Consequently, I made a pattern a day, learned new skills by watching YouTube videos, got certified in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and met with everyone I knew to network and pick their brains. Turns out people really and truly want to help, so don’t ever be afraid to ask—that one took me a while to learn.”

She officially launched ISOBEL in May of 2018 in NYC because she lived up the block from her dream showroom, Studio Four NYC. She knew that was where her line belonged, and she wasn’t moving until that dream became a reality. Once she got accepted into that showroom, the first domino fell: Other showrooms began reaching out, and her line slowly grew. She moved back to Georgia nearly two years later once she felt that her line had a presence.

Mills stayed in close contact with some of her UGA professors who gave her invaluable advice along the way on how to get started. One of her professors, Clay McLaurin, was five years into his launching his own brand as well, and he happily shared his experience and wisdom with her.

Her hard work eventually paid off. In addition to her online presence, her fabrics are featured in seven showrooms across the country.

Mills’ favorite memories at UGA are the times she spent with classmates and friends. She recalled the many hours outside the classroom that she spent working on projects and the enduring friendships that were born out of those long hours. For years, she’s met up with friends she met through her sorority for one football game a year, even when she lived in New York.

Her advice for current students: “Listen to your internal voice. Always do what you love, don’t give up and you will find a way to make your passion your profession.”

These days, Mills serves on the Board of Visitors at Lamar Dodd. She feels honored to sit on a board with people who have so much experience and for whom she has so much respect. She feels called to give back to the school that gave so much to her.

UGA grad in NYC saves the (birth)day for young bulldog in ATL

Frances (BS ’06) and Thomas (AB ’08) Beusse met Jacob Moats (AB ’01) at the NYC Dawgs’ Auburn game-watching party at American Whiskey last November. When former UGA Alumni Association board member Barbara Woods (BFA ’81) introduced the trio, they quickly bonded over their mutual love of Georgia football. At the end of the game (which UGA won 21-14), they went their separate ways; the Beusses back to Georgia and Jacob to his home just across the East River in Queens.

Jacob Moats (left) and Frances Beusse (center) were introduced during a game-watching party in NYC by Barbara Woods (right).

A few months later, the COVID-19 outbreak brought a whiplash of change to everyone’s lives–especially for those living in the Big Apple, a hot spot during the pandemic. In Atlanta, it was also carrying a great toll. Amid the upheaval, it was a particularly disappointing situation for the Beusses’ son, Quinton, who found himself sheltering at home and facing the prospect of a fifth birthday without a key ingredient: friends and grandparents.

But like many other kids his age, Quinton loves superheroes and, of course, the Georgia Bulldogs. That got Frances and Thomas thinking about creative ways to make sure the day was still special for Quinton.

Frances saw on Instagram that Jacob and a few friends did superhero cosplay for conventions and photo shoots, so she messaged him to ask if she could hire him to record a superhero video for Quinton’s birthday.

Jacob was happy to help a fellow Bulldog and didn’t shy away from a chance to get into character. He not only refused to accept payment for his participation, he even enlisted his friends to help.

“It was just something small that we could do to help out,” Jacob says. “With all that’s going on right now, we need to help each other, especially if it’s something easy to do.”

Jacob and his friends donned their superhero gear and recorded several videos from their homes. When compiled together, the videos of Batman, Robin, The Flash, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Spiderman assigned Quinton ‘missions’ to complete in his backyard. Those missions ranged from “leaping buildings” (ie: a cardboard Gotham City created by Frances), to battling villains by shooting at their photos with silly string—the Beusses’ fence taking the bulk of the pain. Quinton executed each activity decked out in his own Batman costume—complete with padded muscles and a cape—and enjoyed every minute of his mission to save Gotham from the likes of Joker, Catwoman and Two-Face.

“Jacob was beyond generous to help me when, in all honesty, the only thing he knew about me was that I was a Bulldog,” Frances says. “I was so thankful that he gave his time and energy to lift my son’s spirits. It just shows what the Bulldog community does for one another.”

Despite facing limits on social gatherings to halt the spread of COVID-19, Bulldogs around the world are, like Jacob and the Beusses, finding inventive ways to connect and care for one another. In our book, that’s a one-two punch … KA-POW!

Do you know a Georgia Bulldog helping others during the COVID-19 outbreak? We’d love to hear their story!

Artists in quarantine: Q&A with Ryan Sichelstiel

Ryan Sichelstiel (AB ’15) is a senior hybrid graphic designer based in New York City. He has experience with both print and digital media and has worked with clients ranging from Walmart and T-Mobile to the University of Georgia. Ryan recently celebrated his one-year anniversary working for Celtra, a creative technology company. However, COVID-19 has seen all of us adjusting to a “new normal,” and for Ryan, that includes working remotely from his hometown of Perry, Georgia. We caught up with Ryan to better understand an artist’s experience in quarantine.  

How have you adjusted to moving back home? 

After graduation, I worked in the Disney College Program for six months and then moved to New York. I’ve been up there since. It’s definitely different to be back, but the thing that’s been somewhat reassuring is that everyone else is going through this, too. It’s not like you’re missing out on things, but it feels weird to know that life is on pause indefinitely.  

Where are you on the quarantine spectrum?  

I’m ready for things to get back to normal. I’m a raging extrovert, so I miss people, my walks to work, and my local coffee shop. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I’m trying to enjoy being home.  

How are your ‘creative juices’ handling the pandemic? 

They have been flowing. For me, walking around in New York, you get inspiration everywhere. Here, it’s difficult because you’re sitting in the house for 66 days — not that I’m counting. A joke became a tradition in that I find memes and videos and save them. I then create a diary of the previous day using those videos; I post, like, 15-20 every day. That’s a fun thing to push my creativity a little bit and think, “Well, how does this video fit into the scenario where Grandma told me to put some more sunscreen on?” 

How has the pandemic affected your flow of work? 

Some clients have pulled back, but it’s still been pedal to the metal. A lot of retail clients have taken advantage of this time to offer sales since people are online shopping all the time. We’ve been working with them to recreate ads specifically for the pandemic and changing their messaging. For example, the creative features a lot more loungewear now.

What is one of your favorite projects that you’ve created? 

As a student, I worked at the UGA Visitors Center and our boss, Eric Johnson, always said, “Awaken the possibility in others.” He allowed me to paint one of the bulldog statues in the Visitors Center with my own design. I also painted a mural on the back wall of the space. It was a cool experience because, as a college student, you’re trying to figure out what you want to do and to have someone let you paint something like that is the coolest thing. He instilled confidence in me and gave me the opportunity to prove my worth.

What do you hope students, alumni, and faculty are reminded of when they view your Athens- and UGA-centric paintings? 

Everyone’s [perspective on] Athens is different. I hope what people see when they look at my work is that they don’t see that specific artwork. They see Athens and try to envision: what do I think of when I think of Athens?  

Do you think it’s artists’ responsibility in quarantine to create works that reflect what we’re going through during this pandemic?  

I don’t want to say it’s a responsibility. It’s a weird time, and no one’s been through anything like this. With creatives, everything we do is expected to be “chef’s kiss”  brilliant. What’s nice about this period is that you’re on your own. You’re kind of locked up and it’s nice to be able to reflect for more self-fulfillment. I have more room in Perry, so I have my old paint supplies, sketchbooks, and pens and can just create for my own mental health; to chill out, relax, explore, and create. It’s nothing that’s been paid for or needs to be done by tonight.  

Since you’re a self-proclaimed Disney aficionado, which Disney movies do you suggest people watch during the quarantine?  

Good Dinosaur, Onward, and Peter Pan.  

 

If you’re an artist in quarantine, consider sharing your story with the UGA Libraries.  

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) talks NYC, American Whiskey, and UGA

Robbie York, 40 Under 40

Robbie York is presented with a UGA 40 Under 40 award alongside UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) (left) and Brian Dill (AB ’94, MBA ’19), president of the UGA Alumni Association.

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) is a Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication graduate who lives in New York City and owns the official UGA venue in the Big Apple, American Whiskey. American Whiskey is the “home” of the NYC alumni chapter’s game-watching parties. In September, Robbie was recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree by the UGA Alumni Association. We caught up with Robbie to learn more about how he’s helping foster a spirit of camaraderie and Bulldog spirit in the city that never sleeps.

How long have you lived in NYC?

Almost 14 years.

When did you open American Whiskey?

We are in the middle of our seventh year.

How long have the NYC Dawgs hosted game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

All 7 years. We hosted at another location for 6 years before that.

Did you open American Whiskey with the hope it would become NYC’s top UGA venue?

We definitely courted NYC Dawgs to come with us from a previous location. This was not only due to my affiliation and passion for the University of Georgia, but we (my partners and I) have always enjoyed the crowd and spirit of the game-watching parties. The answer is that we were hoping that the NYC Dawgs would want to be our one and only game-watching crowd, and we are proud to say they are.

How have game-watching parties grown since you started hosting them?

They have definitely grown over the years, I would say that this was due to many factors. Winning seasons help. Social media is a lot more prevalent than it used to be. We like to think that we make the party better every year. Improvements include menu changes, drink special updates, and little details (playlists, decor, etc) that add extra touches for everyone who visits.

What makes Saturdays in NYC special?

New York City is a difficult place to make it. So when you’ve had a hard week of work and the stress that goes along with it, Saturdays at American Whiskey become a place to cheer with your friends, meet other folks trying to survive in NYC, and find a common bond–which in this case is Georgia Football.

American Whiskey

A photo of American Whiskey, courtesy of Moreen Construction.

How does being a UGA alumnus impact the relationship between American Whiskey and the NYC alumni chapter?

I try my best to allow NYC Dawgs the accessibility of AW as much as possible. We offer our space for all events with no minimum, so it allows the chapter to have flexibility that very few volunteer organizations enjoy. I also work hard at using my status as an owner to leverage food and beverage brands to donate and help sponsor other events.

What’s the best part of hosting game-watching parties?

The excitement and joy that people share with each other. I love seeing people who get as excited for a touchdown as they do seeing someone in AW that they haven’t seen since college. Helping people make connections is the most special part of being there.

What’s something people might not know about NYC’s game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

We play Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” when we win, immediately after the 4th quarter. Lots of people who are here know that, however, it came about from the happy accident of the music getting stuck in our internal system, and those songs being next in line.

Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12) and the secret to a soapy success

mallory o'brien

Mallory O’Brien is a UGA alumna and the brain behind Irish Spring’s Twitter account. Photo: Peter Frey

While the Bulldogs earned a “W” versus Notre Dame last month, one surprising brand also took home a marketing ‘win.’ Irish Spring, a popular soap line, enjoyed 15 minutes of internet fame thanks to an idea from Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12), the co-vice president for the NYC Dawgs and a social media community manager at Colgate-Palmolive, Irish Spring’s corporate parent.

After Georgia-based grocery chain Dill’s Food City announced in a now-viral post that it wouldn’t sell Irish Spring prior to the game against the Fighting Irish, Mallory had some great ideas that led to the brand reacting accordingly. 

no irish springs

A photo from the Dill City Food Facebook post that went viral.

Though there had never been a reason for Irish Spring to need a Twitter presence, this turned into the perfect opportunity to start a social media storm. Now verified with over 3,000 followers, the account has been an immediate success. 

In Irish Spring’s second tweet ever, the brand poked fun at the grocery store and claimed they were about to send a whole lot of soap to Athens. This gained almost 3,000 retweets and over 16,000 likes.

Irish Spring

Irish Springs sent quite a few packages to Athens. Photo via Irish Springs Twitter.

Irish Spring jumped head-first into the social media space, but followed only four accounts–the University of Georgia being one of them. But this wasn’t the brand’s only impact on the internet. Mallory suggested sending brand ambassadors to campus for that glorious–and crowded–football Saturday in Athens.

Irish Spring

Campus ambassadors for Irish Spring visited Athens with gifts. Photo via Irish Spring’s Twitter.

Who would have anticipated that a Bulldog was behind this campaign from ‘up north?’ Surprising as it may be, we know that all great things start at the University of Georgia.

Here’s to good, clean fun and a Georgia win!

UGA celebrates a Peabody weekend in the City that Never Sleeps

This post was contributed by former DAR communications intern Asia Casey.

The University of Georgia hosted various events in New York City that led up to the 77th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony on May 19. The event was hosted by Hasan Minhaj, comedian, writer and senior correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Minaj, award recipient for his comedy special “Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King,” served up laughs as well as praise for the program’s mission. “When we talk about hearts and minds, we’re talking about the Peabodys. When we talk about accountability, we’re talking about the Peabodys,” he said in his opening monologue.

Since 1940, the University of Georgia has been home to the most prestigious honor in broadcast media, the Peabody Awards. Housed in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Peabody is a cultural institution with international reach that each year identifies the most compelling stories across media platforms and genres.

The award program is the oldest major electronic media award in the United States. Winners were selected from approximately 1,200 entries from television, radio/podcasts and the web.

To kick off the weekend, Bonney Shuman, UGA Alumni Association board president, and her daughter visited Tibi, the successful fashion brand that was launched by Amy Smilovic (ABJ ’89).

New York City alumni and chapter leaders gathered at Mykonos Blue

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, School of Public and International Affairs, and UGA Alumni Association hosted a reception and networking event for all New York City alumni on May 17. There are currently more than 6,100 alumni living in the New York area.

The day before the awards, President Morehead hosted a reception and dinner with alumni and donors to celebrate the award ceremony.

A couple of our alumni met “Gilmore Girls” star Alexis Bledel!

By the end of the weekend, 30 award winners from seven media categories took home their well-deserved Peabody Awards.

Carol Burnett, a beloved TV icon who won her first Peabody in 1962, was honored with the first-ever Peabody Career Achievement Award presented by Mercedes-Benz. Visit peabodyawards.com for the full list of winners.