For the last few weeks, I've been reporting a story for the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, about their entrepreneurship program. The first element of the larger print piece is a short web story on their top-rated (by Forbes) startup accelerator program, the New Venture Challenge (NVC). Read the entire story here.
Any other mosquito magnets out there? I've been researching what scents repel mosquitoes (apart from citronella). Turns out the varmints love florals but hate "green" smells, citrus, lavender, cedar. (They also hate bananas, so I'm taking blueberries in my cereal until October.) Since I love good smells so much, nixing perfume--or wearing Deep Woods OFF--all summer isn't an option for me, and I've been investigating non-floral scents, opting for woody/cedar-y, green, citrus, and lavender smells instead. Based on some internet research, I snagged appropriate samples from Nordstrom, along with some lemon oil and lavender body wipes. So far, this INCREDIBLE Aqua Di Parma scent makes me feel like I'm on the Italian Meditteranean with the Clooneys, and does seem to keep the critters at bay with its basil, cedar, and myrtle. The other two samples are Guerlain’s slightly more flowery Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, hearkening an English garden with notes of lemon, spearmint, green tea, and cyclamen, and Guerlain's strong, fresh, Aqua Allegoria "Pamplelune" Eau de Toilette, with vibrant notes of citrus (grapefruit, bergamot, neroli, and with a base of vanilla and patchouli).
And, for quick/easy application of lavender, I'm stocking great-smelling Herban Essentials towelletes in all my purses.
I'll also be making an essential oil blend this week, using knowledge from my natural botanical perfumery class. Herbal blends are less effective and have to be applied more often, but it's worth it to not smell like the strong DEET repellents. If all of this sounds extreme, keep in mind that the critters throw a party when I step in the vicinity and start swaming around me immediately. If any other mosquito-magnets wanna try out my home-blend, let me know & I'll send a sample!
On May 30, I'm on a Northwestern University panel: "Navigating Freelance Writing," from 11-11:50am, with Kevin Davis and Julianne Hill. Come to the event to hear advice from 3 versatile, in-the-mix freelancers; (bios are below.) Free advice, open to the public!
Kevin Davis is a freelance writer and journalist in Chicago and author of the nonfiction books The Wrong Man, (Avon) Defending the Damned, (Atria) and, forthcoming, The Brain Defense (The Penguin Press).
Freelancer Julianne Hill's nonfiction work has appeared in outlets including "This American Life," "Morning Edition," Chicago Public Radio, PBS, The History Channel, Real Simple, Health, The Round and Writer's Digest. Hill received an MFA in creative nonfiction from Northwestern University, which named her work Distinguished Thesis. An award-winning journalist for more than 30 years, Hill served as a Rosalynn Carter Fellow, awarded to journalists covering mental health, and was named a National Press Foundation Fellow, examining the issue of HIV/AIDS. She has taught journalism at Northwestern University, Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy and Loyola University Chicago.
Gretchen Kalwinski is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, Stop Smiling, Time Out Chicago, Make Literary Magazine, and Featherproof Books. Her clients have ranged from Crate and Barrel, Orbitz, Imagination Publishing, University of Chicago, and the American Library Association. Kalwinski has appeared as a panelist on WGN radio and Chicago Tonight, and was awarded a Ragdale artist residency in 2009. Currently, she’s editing novels for Curbside Press, ghostwriting an e-book for a startup, and writing travel stories. In 2014, she earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. For more, see www.gretchenkalwinski.com.
I was one of the writers on this recent, massive, Crate & Barrel e-commerce project. AdWeek's story reports that rework ended up increasing their Web sales conversion rate by 44 percent. Without giving anything away, the technique was to observe in-store customer shopping habits & apply the findings to its e-commerce site--via copy, visuals like advanced photo and video displays, etc--providing the user with a full sensory experience. It was challenging and rigorous, and I learned a ton about site navigation, retail "virtual realities," analytics, SEO, and consumer-reach. Cutting-edge stuff!
I just took a big trip to Israel with 12 other writters/bloggers. I was the only Chicago writer and will be doing some stories about the visit in the months to come. In the meantime, I captioned my trip pretty thoroughly on Instagram, so here's that link.
Last week in Tel Aviv, I explored the markets in Old Jaffa. The olives and dried fruit made me drool, but it was overwhelming with so many to choose from. So, I confined my purchases to an olive sampling and some irresistable dried roses--that cost mere pennies--pictured below. They smelled divine, and now that they're smuggled home (Tel Aviv security either didn't see them rolled up in my t-shirt, or decided not to care), I'm not sure what to do with them, apart from making sachets for my lingerie, sock, and sweater drawers. I'm taking ideas!