Let's quickly stop through Chicago to say hello to this month's Employee Spotlight.Now introducing, the one, the only, Creative Force's own Business Development Director, Caitlin Andrews.
CF: Thank you for taking the time out of your day to chat with us for the May Employee Spotlight, Caitlin!
Caitlin: No problem. I'm so honored to have been considered for this!
You deserve it. First off, let's help readers understand what a Business Development Director does.
I'm focused on spreading the word about Creative Force as a solution to my former clients and colleagues, as well as researching and qualifying studios and helping determine if they are good candidates for Creative Force. I do everything from conducting calls and demos to building relationships, and I love talking shop and diving into the details of studio workflows.
I'm currently in the process of learning Creative Force from end to end to be able to give product tours and showcase the tool for both studios and brands alike. I like to bring my studio management experience to the greater sales team and build instant connections with clients who are struggling with the same issues I've struggled with over the course of my career.
It sounds like you've got a full plate! How did you find yourself here at Creative Force?
Some context on my background, I have spent the last 10 years building automated eCommerce photo studios, hiring and training teams, and executing managed services projects for major brands and retailers across the US and Canada. The last company I worked for paired robotic photo equipment with workflow management software to create instant studios that captured 360 spins and 3D models. There was a major demand for this because many clients wanted images but did not want to commit to starting and managing a studio. This proved to be a successful business model and enabled me to build studios and relationships with some of the largest brands in the US for many years.
The tools that were used just scratched the surface of what was possible with workflow automation. The solution I was using at the time was basically a glorified SQL spreadsheet but started my journey in studio workflow customization. This tool had limited capabilities but to save some presets and tie images to the product data at a top level, but due to its shortcomings, it meant my teams had to utilize additional tools to complete projects (post-QC review, delivery, and most importantly, style guide approvals and client communication and general project management, to name a few). This meant my teams had to juggle a plethora of different solutions, taking them away from the actual work at hand.
I found myself exploring my options often since the system that was being used did not allow customers in to review work, so approvals needed to be exported and tracked manually which took our team so many hours of manual time. We would also spend days/weeks waiting on clients to review and approve work because it included onboarding them to a project, confirming they understood the approval process, and an expectation that they would be invested enough in our project to take time reviewing and approving the work we produced. If that turned out to not be the case, we would have to pause production if we had not received approval for a specific question, and would make a project that should take 2 weeks turn into 2 months to deliver.
When I discovered Creative Force, I almost couldn't believe that I had been spinning my wheels for as long as I had, because it pairs studio and client transparency with flow production, and automatically pulls data for reporting. Studios are historically scrappy and resourceful, so not having the "perfect" tool was normal, but I always strived to give my team the tools they needed to get the job done as efficiently as possible. After researching, I could immediately pinpoint how Creative Force would be a game changer and save us time and prevent rework. Creative Force's reporting function alone absolutely blew me away as someone who's spent hours and hours across my career creating custom automated reports and catching bottlenecks. The need for production to be accessible from anywhere was a huge plus as well since the client communication has been problematic, and this gives the client easy access to be involved from the get-go. Style guides being completely accessible throughout the workflow would've also been extremely valuable and would have prevented thousands of reshoots.
That's so great - sounds like a perfect match. Other than everything above, what's your favorite part about working at Creative Force?
Not to induce eye rolls here, but there are so many things I love about working for Creative Force. I enjoy working with this group of extraordinarily intelligent colleagues that have tons of first-hand experience in creative studio environments of all shapes and sizes, and I love that my job is to geek out with studio teams and ask questions about their production processes and try to help improve them and avoid the roadblocks/issues I'd faced when I was in their position.
Secondly, I really love the international culture and prioritization of personal health and family. I've never felt more at home and am so grateful to work for a company that has those values.
Another thing I love is crossing over with former clients and colleagues, especially those that have been lucky enough to adopt Creative Force in their studios and hear about how much smoother their production runs with the use of our tool. Whether it's a partnership, potential prospect, or current user, helping studios optimize their production is truly a career dream come true for me.
Being able to help your old colleagues has to be incredible. Have you worked on any specific projects that you really liked?
I'll always love when we're successful at bringing a deal across the line to closed, but my "favorite" has been building out my very own Creative Force application. As someone who's customized very intricate workflows for high-volume environments for every type of product, I love trying to "break" Creative Force and then having it continue to prove its flexibility. It's sort of a "mad scientist" type of activity I very much enjoy. For example, how does it handle image stacking for jewelry? How about last-minute outfit changes? Mockups for campaigns? How does it integrate with Looklet? I normally find the answer, build and test it, run it by my team, and prove its functionality in a call with a prospect.
I also really enjoyed being a guest on The E-commerce Content Creation Podcast with Daniel Jester. I have always been fairly quiet on social media both personally and professionally, as I have been more of a behind-the-scenes type, but being able to share wild stories about solving problems in the studio was very cathartic for me, and super fun. I appreciated being given that platform, and seeing the overwhelmingly positive response was such a cool surprise. This kind of feeds into the "what do you like about working here" question, because it is so awesome to feel valued and encouraged to speak about my experiences to a truly supportive community.
You're coming up on your first year with us in August, what are you most excited about moving forward?
I'm most fascinated by how Creative Force evolves to accommodate the massive growth our industry faces with the oncoming tidal wave of AI and 3D. We have an incredibly powerful product team who is always hard at work improving the platform. I'm so excited to see how we adapt to this constantly changing industry. I'm always encouraging our team to expand out to other industries (such as CPG, Industrial, B2B, Automotive, etc) as there are so many studios out there with products needing to be captured in a seamless production workflow.
On a personal level, I'm most excited to support our sales team in spreading the word on our platform and watching Creative Force saturate the market so we become the gold standard in studio workflow automation, and continue breaking down workflows to the finest details and proving why we are the ones to bet on.
Speaking of personal... what do you do for fun?
I live in Chicago so what I do for fun depends on the time of the year. Summertime is beautiful in Chicago, so you might find me either hiking in the woods or on a patio for brunch. You'll always find me with my two dogs. I have a 10-year-old Boston Terrier named Jack and a 2-year-old Frenchie named Beau, and we live in a 3rd-floor vintage condo in Oak Park, 30 minutes outside of the city.
On rainy/colder days, I'll be playing the latest and greatest video game, revisiting old classics (my favorites are Zelda, Skyrim, Fallout, and Persona), or watching movies or binging great TV shows. I love to collect vintage/antique art and furniture, so I'll often hit estate sales or find gems on the marketplace to make my home an eclectic nest of cool relics. I also do some illustration and nail art, mostly for friends and family for special occasions.
It sounds like you do it all! Are you proud of anything you've done outside of work recently?
I've been getting into racquet sports in an effort to find a fun way to move outside of the daily walks I take with my dogs, and I'm super proud to say I've been a consistent gym-goer and racquetball lover since the first of January.
I'm also so proud of my 290-day streak learning Japanese on Duolingo. I've always been particularly challenged by learning languages when I was growing up, so I'm really proud of the fact that I've stayed consistent with it for almost an entire year, and am able to read approximately 60% of what I see when I go to my local Mitsuwa grocery store.
Okay, last question. Do you have any side hustles or anything else that you want to tell the world about?
The only thing I'd show off is my nail art and illustrations, the pieces I create truly come from the heart. I love seeing the way people react to it. It is one of the most rewarding feelings to give someone something you made while thinking of them, and I love doing portraits and capturing the essence of someone's vibe. I love sharing this gift whether it be a canvas for someone's home or a wearable work of art they can appreciate for 2-3 weeks!
I'm also currently doing makeup for a stop-motion film that I'm super excited about.
We'd love to see that film! Thank you so much for joining us today!
Thanks for letting me spill the tea and I'm thankful to anyone who spent the time reading this to get to know me.