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The Fab Lab


  • Writer's pictureSarah Casasanto

How We Primped & Pampered PARLR

Updated: Jul 16, 2018

Okay, friends, it happened. I have a blog. The goal here is to deliver a mix of super useful expert design tips and peeks behind the curtain of what goes on at SCBD. At first, I felt like I needed an intro post that was literally just talking about who I am and why what I have to say about branding and graphic design is worth reading. But, let’s be serious— those kind of posts just aren’t that juicy, you’re a busy person, and we have lots to talk about. So instead, I’m going to tell you about a moment. Not just the moment, but about everything that led up to it. I promise that if you keep reading, by the end of this post you will understand what a branding process with SCBD is all about. Here we go . . .

You know that feeling when you see your best friend walk down the aisle? The one where you’re flooded with all of the memories of the late night gab fests over a bottle of good wine (or Jack and Coke if you’re like me!), the support you have always given to each other, and the way you analyzed every aspect of her relationship with her now-hubby?

Well, I recently experienced the equivalent of that moment when my business bestie celebrated the opening of her dream business venture. She’s driven, wild, insane, daring, and hands-down the most inspiring businesswoman I’ve ever seen in action. I am beyond proud of her. Everyone truly is. And somehow, I was lucky enough to be a small part of bringing her vision to life.

How It All Began

When Rachael Lynsey Rubin and I met at a private family party back in 2012, we just clicked. Rachael had her own photography business, RLR Studio, and big plans to open a second business—a salon called Beauty PaRLR. When the time came to design a website for Beauty PaRLR’s 2014 launch, she somehow trusted me to let my creativity run wild and we ended up with a site she loved.

The whole time we were working on the Beauty PaRLR site, she encouraged me to open my own full-time branding and graphic design studio since my business was booming. I had brushed it off at the time (and many times after that actually), but she must have known something I didn’t because flash forward to February 2017 and that’s exactly what I did. Um, clairvoyant much?

Anyway, just as things at SCBD were heating up with the move to full time, Rach told me about her plan to merge her two sister businesses into one incredible venture: PARLR. PARLR would offer salon and spa services as well as photo and video services, plus extra special packages for brides. She enlisted me to help her build the brand and suddenly everything was on the table. We were rebranding, reinventing, and holding nothing back! Rach wanted the result to be like nothing anyone had ever seen before—it was the ultimate creative challenge.

The opportunity to touch every single part of PARLR’s branding was incredible. We studied high-end fashion magazines, she traveled to New York to gather inspiration from the city’s spaces and people, we mined the treasure trove that is Pinterest—and, of course, we texted images, sketches, and ideas back and forth at all hours of the day.

Funnily enough, it turned out that the PARLR logo had been hiding right under our noses all along. We had built the logo years ago for a Beauty PaRLR blog that never really took off. Yet, suddenly we realized it was perfect for the direction we were now headed. With that key element set, we developed the rest of the brand and style guide, including mood boards to capture the look and feel of the story we were trying to tell. We settled on textures, colors, and patterns to integrate throughout the materials and space. Fun fact: if when you visit PARLR (seriously, treat yo self) you’ll see the brand colors were used to paint the walls!

The brand guide gave us clarity, but the real work was just beginning. We had a monstrous list of collateral to design, not to mention a new website to build and signage to develop. It was blood, sweat, and tears time, but it was so, so worth it. Here are just some of the things we brought to life through graphic design:

A Wicked Website

PARLR’s business model is totally unique and it required a website that could show it. We knew it had to be bold, sexy, and easy to navigate. I am in love with how we welcome the user with an incredible video and used hexagons into the menus on interior pages and the overall custom theme of the site. Do yourself a favor, and visit and see all the gorgeousness for yourself...and maybe book a service while you're there! #treatyourself

Monster of A Magazine

When we decided to do a 44-page magazine, I’ll admit it, my first thought was something like “OMG-OMG-OMGGGGGGG”. However, once I recovered, I had the most fun putting this piece together. With every page, I legit said to myself “make it weird . . . go weirder . . . a little weirder . . .” and the result was that each page pushed the envelope in a strange, beautiful, high fashion way. It turned out to be a stunning representation of all that PARLR has to offer.

A Ferocious 4-Fold Brochure

Think of ALL the services that PARLR offers, and then try to imagine fitting them ALL onto ONE piece of paper. Apparently, it can be done!

A Sea of Stationary

Letterhead, envelopes, notecards, business cards . . . the list goes on. You name it, we branded it. As a savvy business owner, Rach understood that she needed materials that could tell her story at every opportunity and look good doing it. That kind of polished professionalism required all of PARLR’s materials to get their proverbial hair and makeup did.

Educational Environmental + Wayfinding Signage

Imagine this. You walk in. So much to see. So many places to go. But where to start? Behold the power of WAYFINDING: a strategic system of visuals that identifies a location and helps to guide and navigate. We made PARLR’s incredible space come to life with both wayfinding signage and environmental design. We mounted large-scale photo prints and neon script lettering to distinguish the service areas. We designed and installed an eight-foot-by-eight-foot timeline wall that chronicles the evolution of PARLR. But the centerpiece of the entire operation is a four-sided, ten-foot tall column that’s easily spotted when you enter from the elevator or stairs. It’s part welcome sign, part highlights reel, and part directional art piece signifying locations near and dear to Rach’s heart.

There were plenty of other internal document templates, small signs, and other bits and pieces swirled about in the branding tornado, but you get the picture. With the freedom to really dig in and tackle every inch of PARLR, we were able to establish a brand that simply cannot be ignored.

Open For Business

Now, back to the moment. In classic fashion, Rach threw a huge launch party to celebrate PARLR’s grand opening. Seeing everything come to life and watching guests’ reactions to seeing every detail of the space and materials was incredible.

"My brand would not exist without SCBD. I am picky. I know what I want...but then I don't know at all. Sarah is one of the few people in the world that knows what I am saying, without actually saying it. Its kind of weird actually. Here's the thing: I trust Sarah's creative vision SO much, I barely give her direction. She created my brand and truly gave it life. She is an artist and it is an honor to watch her bring my visions and my baby and my business into art form. I pride myself in only aligning my business with individuals that are THE BEST at what they do, that are unique, hardworking, and get "it". Sarah is all of that, and so much more. In my eyes, there is only one graphic designer in the universe and that my friends, is Sarah Casasanto." [ Rachael Lynsey Rubin ]

Insert ugly crying face over this too-sweet of a quote from Rach. But seriously, the night of the launch party, standing there, I thought to myself: this is it. This is why I freaking love what I do. I get to help visionary people make their dreams come true. Because the right branding can do that kind of magic. Keep an eye on this blog for more tales from the front and design knowledge I’m convinced that you need in your life.

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