The relationship between Reed Creative, a Washougal graphic design and marketing firm, and the New Orleans-based Emeril Lagasse Foundation has been mutually beneficial in a variety of ways.
For the past 15 years, Reed Creative has performed pro-bono and contracted work for the foundation, a nonprofit public charity founded in 2002 by famed chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife, Alden Lovelace, to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education.
“We appreciate all of the work that Reed Creative produces at ‘Reed Speed’ to keep the foundation’s digital and print materials looking cohesive and beautiful throughout our many evolving events,” said Kimberly Wilson, the foundation’s development coordinator.
Since its inception, the foundation has granted more than $10 million to children’s charities to support culinary, nutrition and arts programs.
“They obviously have a celebrity presence, but they also allow us to do our best work,” said Reed Creative owner Lori Reed. “When I ask them, ‘What do you like about working with Reed Creative?,’ they say, ‘It’s like you’re part of our family.’ We’re not an employee, but they don’t look at us like a vendor. They look at us as really critical to their team, which makes us feel great, because that’s what we want to be — their outsourced graphical design department.”
Reed and designer Kyla Friedrichsmeyer produce a variety of materials, including logos, save-the-date cards, invitations, catalogues and signage for the foundation’s main annual fundraising events in New Orleans: Boudin, Bourbon & Beer, an outdoor food and music festival that brings together some of the United States’ best chefs for an evening of Louisiana-inspired culinary celebration; and the Carnival du Vin, a nationally recognized wine auction and gala dinner.
“It goes without saying that Reed Creative is such a fantastic part of what we do,” said Antonia Keller, vice president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “Their creativity and dedication are integral to the guest experience, and a significant part of why our donors keep coming back to support our mission of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.”
The 2019 events, held Nov. 8 and 9, raised $3.6 million for children’s charities.
“My wife Alden and I are so grateful for the generosity of our sponsors, participating chefs and winemakers, as well as the incredible support from our donors and the community over the past 15 years,” Lagasse stated in a news release on the foundation’s website. “Together, we’ve raised funds to support numerous youth-based programs that are working to make a true difference in children’s lives. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who is supporting our cause.”
Every year Reed attends the events to “provide visual support” and take care of “last-second design emergencies” should they arise.
“It’s great (to be at the events) because we love from a design standpoint to do ‘concept through completion,'” she said. “To see (our work from the earliest) moment, when we’re trying to figure out what the visual is going to look like, to actually being there and seeing it live and in person and seeing it come to life, (is gratifying).”
Lagasse has developed fame as a celebrity chef, appearing on a wide variety of cooking shows, including the long-running Food Network series “Emeril Live” and “Essence of Emeril.” He is the executive chef and proprietor of 13 restaurants in New Orleans; Las Vegas; Orlando, Florida; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I interact daily with his team, but I have met him in person,” Reed said, “and he’s very kind, a lovely man.”
Projects funded by the foundation include an outdoor classroom, gardens, fresh foods cafeteria and teaching kitchen at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans; an accessible learning kitchen for special needs students at St. Michael Special School in New Orleans; a four-year culinary arts program for high school students at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts; the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Hospitality Center at Cafe Reconcile in New Orleans; and hospitality training at Liberty’s Kitchen for at-risk youth preparing healthy school meals.
“You’re in business to make money, but people like to know that you have other interests as well,” Reed said. “I think it’s important to other clients in the area that (we are) charitable with our time and knowledge. It is helping my business grow, but at the same time I am giving back in that regard.”
Reed said the foundation’s mission is “near and dear” to her team’s hearts.
“We feel great about the cause. They’re one of our ideal clients,” she said.
Reed lived in New Orleans before relocating to the Pacific Northwest after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005. Several years earlier, her design work for another organization attracted the attention of Lagasse, who was in the process of starting his foundation.
Reed knew her relationship with the foundation was in a good place when she informed the nonprofit’s leaders about her relocation.
“My husband’s in the Merchant Marines. We were in New Orleans because he was stationed there, but after Katrina, we could no longer live there,” Reed said. “I was like, ‘If I don’t live there, what if I can’t work with my favorite clients anymore?’ I said to them before I left, ‘We have to relocate for my husband’s job. Do you want me to transition you to a local designer?’ And it was great when they said, ‘Lori, the first (event) was during Katrina. We were all scattered everywhere and we were still able to make the event happen, so it doesn’t matter where you are. We can still get the work done.'”
But even though the relationship has been solid, Reed said she doesn’t want to “just rest on past laurels.” Reed Creative has been working on materials for some of the foundation’s newer events, such as the Line, Dine & Vine fishing tournament, held Feb. 6-8 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and the Chi Chi Miguel Weekend golf tournament, auction and barbecue, to be held April 2-4 in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
As the foundation continues to grow, Reed said her challenge is to figure out how to scale up her small design firm in order to continue to be a good resource, and added that she never takes the business relationship for granted.
“They have their choice. I know it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and in the back of my mind I’m waiting for some New York agency to go down there and scoop up my favorite client because they have more resources or whatever,” Reed said. “But that’s where we have to fall back on (the fact) that we have a great relationship and there’s a lot of corporate knowledge there. That’s also part of the reason I want to make sure we are continuing to evolve.”