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Still Climbing

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10 Years in and Still Climbing

Lessons learned during Covid

In January 2020, my company turned ten.

A milestone.

We spent the first five years at 5th Street East, a digital production and creative agency, trying to figure out who we were (reality TV producers?) and the last five years doing what we do best: produce compelling branded content for hospitality and development. Critical assets to distinguish and position our clients for market success.

Our strength:

Signature video, imagery and messaging.

Over the course of a decade, we learned how to manage bi-coastal time differences, midnight deadlines, dissenting points of view, and the review of creative briefs on lots of plane rides.

As an agency, we had learned how to climb.

To celebrate our first ten years, we created a retrospective of our decade of work.

5th Street East’s retrospective of work to celebrate our first decade 2010 – 2020. Produced January 2020.

Like a Rocket

Our 2nd decade took off like a rocket.

In February, we produced a lifestyle shoot for a hotel in Boston’s Back Bay. An iconic, landmark hotel, newly-reimagined, situated in the most dynamic part of a city we cherish.

We built a great team for the project.

Artists to capture the energy, design and soul of the space.

Every detail about the production soared, from the art direction to the photography, and especially the heartfelt welcome from the hotel during our stay. 

On a whim, we did something we never do. We turned the camera on ourselves.

We created a behind-the-scenes video to illustrate the fun and magic of creating “together.”

Watching it now is like a sonnet to the Age of Innocence. The casual way we embraced one another, freedoms we took for granted. It would be our last production for months.

We were clueless, as was the world.

A Wink and a Smile

A behind-the-scenes sonnet to our last production pre-Covid. February 2020.

Born for the Job

Production is one of the few professions where being a control freak is considered an asset. I was born for the job.

It takes weeks, sometimes even months, to produce a solid shoot. As an executive producer, you try to anticipate everything that can go wrong to be prepared for the unexpected.

Creativity is the only thing you leave space for. Everything else is detailed, discussed and dissected.

Timing is critical. Minutes are money. Details make or break.

When creating a fantasyland, we ask everyone to suspend reality and throw their heart and soul, muscle and mind into the production.

Our collective end goal for our clients: produce work that makes people stop, stare and desire.

I’ll have what they’re having…

Lifestyle shoot for The Colonnade Hotel. Art Directed by Denise Korn. Branding by Gensler Lifestyle Brand. Photography by Conor Doherty. Production by 5th Street East. February, 2020. 

What could go wrong?

Early March marked another milestone for 5th Street East.

We closed more and more new business, anticipating our most successful Q2 in a ten-year history. Calendars booked deep into 2020, our production team was gearing up to hit the road, traveling up, down and across the US.

What could possibly go wrong?

In like a Lion. March 2020.

A walk together-apart with close friends. March 2020. Warren, Vermont.


Two weeks later, the world closed up shop. And we did, too.

My husband Rich and I retreated to Vermont to be closer to our children Hunter and Joe. 5th Street East’s Director of Photography, Devon Lee hunkered down in LA, and our Viking cinematographer Pétur Magnússon moved back to Iceland. (Think about that for a moment: Iceland!)

Our team of brilliant collaborators and partners did the same. There was simply no way to produce during a global pandemic.

But we could talk to each other.

Share how we got here and our collective experiences during Covid. We decided to take the time during quarantine to talk – really talk – to our partners and colleagues.

The Sunday Series, a collection of profiles and interviews of some extraordinary people, was born from that spirit – that need to connect with those we cherish during a dark time.

The Sunday Series was started during Covid to shed a light on our common experience

August Perspective

After a spring of ping ponging between Georgia and Vermont, we have landed in the Green Mountain state again.

While on a run together – a blessing, I do not take for granted – our son Joe (20) said something that struck me. It was the last two tenths of Mile 3, the end of the run.

Joe had finished and double-backed to meet me.

He was running backwards at this point, alongside me. Like a coach at a kindergarten soccer practice.

“Mom, try running with your mouth closed. It’s good for the lungs.”

I finished the run. Mouth closed.

The Mad River bends. Waitsfield, Vermont, August 2020


5th Street East has survived with steady work, despite the shut downs and pivots. I do not take this gift for granted. My heart aches for the businesses struggling to survive right now. As an owner, I understand, personally, the worry, fear and concern, not only for life of “the company” built, loved and sacrificed for over many years, but especially for those who rely and depend on “the work” from our collective endeavor.

At 5th Street East, we are more like family. 

In fact, we are a family.

We are especially supportive of our hospitality partners around the country, working with them to create inspiring, positive messaging of trust to a world desiring connection, nature and beauty – the takeaways from travel. The gifts these fine hotels offer.

People still dream and long for experience.

And vineyards, sunsets and hot air balloon rides.

Welcome Back to The Estate Yountville, Napa Valley

Welcome Back messaging created by 5th Street East for The Estate Yountville. June 2020.

Good for the lungs

Eight months into a global pandemic and one run with my son has also given me some takeaways, as we head firmly, with focus and gratitude, into 5th Street East’s second decade.

1. Embrace discomfort

By using this time to try something different, examine an exercise or obstacle (in my case, finish the run) from all angles, even if it’s uncomfortable, aka running with mouth closed, it might be good for the “lungs.”

2. See humor

Which was more hysterical? Mouth-open running, mouth-closed running, or just mom running, in general?

3. Choose happy

Because it helps with the climb.

Choose Happy. Burlington, Vermont, Summer 2020.