Whirlwind. It’s the best way to describe 2017. It fits the world at large and our last 12 months here at Firewood. We enjoyed another year of incredible growth, with new projects and big plans to expand our home. We added new Firewoodians to our family and forged relationships with new clients. Before we jump into 2018, let’s raise a virtual glass to 2017 and savor some of the highlights.
We turned six!
Six years ago Juan and Lanya quit their jobs to make the dream of creating a different type of agency a reality. And, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we went from two people in a storage closet in the bucolic wine country town of Glen Ellen to a top-notch office in the bustling heart of San Francisco, filled to the brim with people we like working with. People who share our key values around humility and respect. We loved celebrating our company’s birthday surrounded by people we are proud to call both peers and friends.
We ended the year with 178 employees
On January 1, 2017, there were 105 of us. As our success grew, so did our team, with more than 70 Firewoodians joining our ranks. Moreover, we gained a bit of recognition, soaring from #15 to #6 on the San Francisco Business Times’ List of Top 25 Agencies in the Bay Area!
Finally, nearly a year in which we didn’t plan a move
Our moving boxes are gathering dust and we like it that way. Our last move was in April and we are very happy here in our current home, even though we were quickly bursting at the seams. But, that was a short-term issue since we’ve recently expanded to the 3rd floor of our 23 Geary Street headquarters to accommodate our growth.
We threw another fantastic holiday party
Mingle. Eat. Drink. Dance. Rinse. Repeat.
We paid it forward
The tragic fires in the North Bay really hit home with us, as our first Firewood office was in Glen Ellen, a community hit particularly hard by the disaster. We decided to host one of our monthly out-on-the-town get-togethers in-house and donate the savings to Sonoma Valley’s La Luz Center Fire Relief Fund. And then, our team decided we could do more. Our “night in” became a potluck fundraiser with enough food to feed an army. When the night ended, and the dishes were cleaned, we realized (between staff contributions and our pledge to match the donations) we’d raised over $16,000! It is truly a highlight of our six-year history and a testament to what we’re capable of as a team.
In keeping with our holiday tradition, we asked Firewoodians to nominate causes that were near and dear to their hearts. We reviewed the submissions and then selected a few standouts among the many worthy organizations. The following selected organizations were announced at our holiday party and will each be awarded a $10,000 donation.
Senior Access – Senior Access provides important support services and socialization opportunities for people with varying stages of memory loss. Unique among their programs is the Excursion Club, which serves clients with earlier stages of memory loss who are still relatively mobile. These weekly “field trips” take clients all around the Bay Area—to museums, exhibits, factory tours, musical and theatrical performances, and more—providing mental and physical stimulation, a sense of “normalcy,” and a chance to interact with peers in an understanding and supportive group environment.
NAMI SF (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – NAMI SF provides resources, education, and support for not only those that suffer from mental illness, but for their family and friends as well. They give hope to those that have none and fight to help victims see the best in themselves.
Hack the Hood – Hack the Hood is an award-winning nonprofit that introduces low-income youth to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for actual small businesses in their own communities. During 6-week “bootcamps,” young people gain valuable hands-on experience, build a portfolio, and learn about opportunities in the tech industry, as well as build critical technical, leadership, entrepreneurship, and life skills with mentorship from staff and tech professionals working in the field.
UndocuFund – UndocuFund provides fire relief in Sonoma County via direct assistance to undocumented victims of the Northern California fires. Their mission is to support undocumented children, families, and communities affected by the fires in Sonoma County and help them recover and rebuild. One hundred percent of all donations will go to victim support.
The Honor Roll
Many of our people received well-deserved promotions. Here is the list, in no particular order:
Christian Hamilton promoted to SVP, Customer Engagement & Activation • Sam Haskin promoted to SVP, Client Services • Amy Michael promoted to Group Account Director and promoted a second time to SVP, Group Account Director • Joel Fossourier promoted to Associate Director of Digital Marketing • Lianne Hong promoted to Senior Content Manager • Sue Separk promoted to Director of Financial Analysis • Meagan Bradshaw promoted to Account Director • Tulsi Gandhi promoted to Sr. Digital Marketing Manager, then promoted to Associate Director, Digital Marketing • Erica Carmel promoted to SVP, Strategy • Meghan Feinstein promoted to VP, Group Account Director • Matty Freeman-Richards promoted to VP, Group Account Director • Al Nicolini promoted to Group Creative Director • Jessica Wehage promoted to Senior Director, Customer Activation • Dylan Young promoted to Director, Global Events • Sarah Eden promoted to Associate Director, Analytics • Jen Tamez promoted to Account Director • Priyanka Muraly promoted to Senior Analyst • Becca Hawk promoted to Senior Copywriter • Judah Nagler promoted to Associate Creative Director • Sissi Hu promoted to Senior Analyst, then to Associate Director, Analytics • Bitna Hu-Russo promoted to Associate Creative Director • Seulgi Ho promoted to Associate Creative Director • Kara Shell promoted to Senior Account Director • Dee Ann Hairgrove promoted to Associate Creative Director, Copy • Rebecca Miller promoted to Director of Project Management • Sash Callsen promoted to Art Director • Amanda Reilly promoted to Associate Creative Director • Tara Parente promoted to Senior Art Director • Lija Zalte promoted to Senior Project Manager • Kristin Whalen promoted to Senior Project Manager • Kevin Gu promoted to Senior Project Manager • Laurel Stark Akman promoted to Creative Director, Copy • Matty Klemanski promoted to Senior Art Director • Jess Kaihoi promoted to Associate Creative Director, Events • Yana Chen promoted to Senior Analyst • Henry Cardenas promoted to Associate Director of Digital Marketing • Al Pontes promoted to Senior Digital Marketing Manager • Ashlie Tubb promoted to Associate Account Director • Morgan McIlwain promoted to Art Director • Kat Killeen promoted to Senior Events Manager • Kelly Mashura promoted to Senior Events Manager • Hannah Louis promoted to Events Manager • Judy Brown-Perry promoted to Senior Accountant • Imma Trillo promoted to Vice President, Human Resources • Brian Verbaken promoted to Senior Analyst • Bella Bottini promoted to Senior Program Manager • Jill Mattis promoted to Senior Account Manager • Sofia Ramirez promoted to Director of Operations • Kris Belau promoted to Sr. Director of Digital Marketing Strategy • Theresa Ronquillo promoted to Senior Director of Operations • Sheila Pascoe promoted to VP, Group Account Director • Joanna Volger promoted to Associate Creative Director • Stephanie Reyes promoted to Account Director.
We did a lot of team building
All work and no play is something we’ll never embrace. From our monthly happy hours to individual team events and fun runs, we play and laugh, then play some more. Pity we’re all so camera shy.
And we managed to fit in some really great work
We opened a new office space in Dublin
Dublin, Céad Míle Fáilte
2017 has been a big year for our European presence. We started off in January with our first employee Bella Bottini and she was soon followed by Gabi Chavarria, then our new European MD Emmet McCaughey, our events coordinator Ciara Dunne, and our new creative team of Brian Finucane and Rob Mc Donnell. We moved into our first office in Ranelagh in Dublin, pronounced Ren-el-a, and ensuring our global priorities were in line, quickly built a bar in the corner of the office. In December, we set up our London office in Soho, which will soon be followed by our first UK employee (Laura Graham).
Some had babies. Some tied the knot.
Dylan Young got married in the fall among the California redwoods, then honeymooned in Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, where the couple mingled with elephants. Matty Freeman-Richards and her boyfriend, Rob, are newly engaged. Rob Marsh got engaged in Palm Springs to his longtime girlfriend, Sara. She’s also a copywriter and works directly across the street from the Firewood office. Jenna Nelson said “I do” to husband Tony in October in Charlottesville, VA (“Best day ever!”). The “cutest baby ever,” Emily Joan, was born to the totally not biased Dustin McDavid and his wife on September 27 (that is one cute baby!). Jessica Wehage welcomed son, Cayden Szeto Wehage, on July 25, 2017—“12 days late but, boy, was he worth it.” (Also the cutest baby ever—and look at those dimples!) Joel Fossourier, in a lesson to men everywhere, threw his wedding in France and honeymooned in Mykonos and Santorini!
To close it up, a roundup of the great, fun, inspired, and extraordinary things we do
Sissi Hu went back to her “sweet hometown” of Shanghai after seven years away. Rob Marsh played 11 gigs this year between his indie rock band, Killer Whale, and his psychedelic spacefunk band, El Metate. Jenn Colby traveled to Peru over Thanksgiving break with her two best friends. The highlights of the trip: Watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu on Thanksgiving morning. Paragliding off the side of mountain outside Lima (and suffering a slight crash landing). And holding an adorable baby goat in a neon crocheted headband. Adam King and his fiancée visited Switzerland on vacation. Priyanka Muraly went ice climbing/glacier hiking on Matanuska Glacier in Alaska. (Dancing and smiling while freezing? Perhaps lack of oxygen is to blame.) Turkey and stuffing are so yesterday—Theresa Ronquillo spent her Thanksgiving in Portugal. Amanda Reilly took a train trip from Denver to New York City—sweet! John Wegner traveled to China: Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.
And, speaking of inspired—a special callout to one of our own
Laurel Stark (creative director, copy) made us more aware and so proud of her work with the 3% Conference—a movement dedicated to being a driving force for diversity in the creative world.
“As someone who joined the 3% movement in 2013, it’s been exciting to see the conversation around diversity grow beyond gender. I have high hopes for our industry continuing to look for ways of welcoming, promoting and magnifying diverse voices in 2018.”