Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms’ Meet a Mom feature, where we celebrate our local mamas one feature at a time. This week’s Meet a Mom is Highland Park lifer, twin girl mama and Graphic Designer Alison Stolberg. Alison founded her graphic design company, A-List Creations, back in 2010. Alison chats about her personal and professional life during this time of quarantine, her design process, and who her special design mentors are. Welcome Alison!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally?
My name is Alison Stolberg. I was raised in Highland Park and feel lucky to be raising my children in HP with my high school sweetheart.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
Our twin girls are ten years old. It’s a great age! They are old enough to have some independence, yet still young enough to play and enjoy their fleeting innocence. I feel blessed that my daughters have each other every day but especially during these difficult times. They can lean on one another. In addition to trying to make sense of the devastating state of the world, they can commiserate about everyday pre-teen struggles including… academic pressure, friendship challenges, raging hormones, crushes and much more.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
I love to be creative with my kids. I am an artist at heart and love to draw, paint and even attempt cooking with my girls. When they were toddlers, they loved to fill-in my black and white sketches with markers and crayons. I loved the combination of their uninhibited lines mixed with my defined strokes. Now that they are older, I am amazed by their talent. They have developed their own techniques for blending colors and often look up drawing styles on the internet, something that would never occur to me.
It’s been challenging to come up with creative activities to keep my kids busy in quarantine. This weekend, I ordered plaster strips from Amazon. We made casts of the girls’ hands. It was super easy and really fun. When the casts dry, the girls can paint them to create three-dimensional sculptures. Having an expressive outlet helps us all.
Please share your favorite mom tips that make your everyday life a little easier…
I don’t have any out of the box tips for survival. I’m super neat and organized, almost to a fault. I like to line up everything we will need for the next day the night before on my kitchen counter… teacher notes, water bottles, lunches, etc. That has carried over into how we get ready for e-learning.
Right now these Meet a Mom interviews are unlike any we’ve conducted in the past because we’re in the midst of a quarantine due to Coronavirus. For your family what is the most challenging aspect of life under one roof right now?
The noise in my house! I read a meme that said “How do you like your open concept now?” and it cracked me up. I feel like I can hear everything that is going on in the house from any room. That’s why I love to take long walks. It’s the only alone time I truly have.
OMG that is too funny and so true! Personally, one of my most favorite parts of my day right now is dinner time. What is your favorite local restaurant for carryout?
My family loves to eat! We usually discuss what will be on the menu for lunch and dinner during breakfast. One of our favorite places to order from is Grateful Bites in Winnetka. It’s a super-cool pizzeria with delicious hand-tossed pizzas and fresh salads. We are so thankful that they continue to be open for carryout. Our favorite treat is the Elote pizza. It’s a unique white pizza with roasted corn, spicy mayo and cotija cheese. If you like Mexican Street Corn, you will love this dish!
Date nights have become a bit challenging, right? What home activity has replaced going out?
Lately, date night has been replaced by family game night. Our favorite game to play together is Rummikub. I still have the set I used as a child. It’s a simple tile game that challenges players to put together tiles in patterns of sets and runs. I love to see my girls win the game and the satisfaction it gives them.
We have recently discovered that several restaurants will deliver cocktails in addition to food. For my birthday last week, my husband had Greenwood Restaurant in Highwood mix up individual batches of skinny spicy margaritas. They even printed labels on them that said “Happy Birthday.” Just one margarita will take game night to the next level!
You are a mompreneur! Please introduce your business.
Yes! I am a graphic designer and I founded A-List Creations. I work with clients to create engaging designs with a clear message and professional polish. My expertise in designing logos, advertisements, brochures, posters, invitations and more help my clients attain new business and a return on their investment. I have been fortunate to work with several local businesses including Bernie’s Book Bank, Noggin Builders, Rosebud Restaurants, Academic Tutoring Center, Highland Park Poetry, Jessica Cohen Orthodontics and more. As part of the community, I have an understanding of the culture and can give insight into what drives consumers.
What did you do previous to A-List Creations?
Before I began my freelance career, I was the Marketing Manager for Rosebud Restaurants in their corporate office. My responsibilities included designing and implementing an annual marketing and advertising plan to support 10 restaurants. I designed content for all advertisements including direct mail, newspaper, online, radio, billboards and in-house materials. Rosebud was my first client when I decided to begin a career as a freelance designer.
What is your schooling? Where and when did you graduate?
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2001. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Graphic Design.
Can you tell our readers about the design process between you and your client?
I view each project as a collaboration. My first job is to understand the client, their business and their goals for the project. We set up a meeting (either by phone or in person) to brainstorm and discuss aesthetic, timeline and price. After the initial meeting, I send a detailed proposal which outlines the project and my fees. After the client has signed off on the proposal I begin designing. I send 2-3 design options and several drafts via email so that we can discuss changes and updates. The process takes 1-2 weeks.
Talk to us about how the quarantine has changed the way you do business.
I’ve always worked from home. However, my networking process has changed. I recently joined a wonderful women’s networking group called EPWNG. Before social distancing, I would connect with other members over coffee. It was a great way to generate business leads. I miss the one-on-one connection of meeting new people and discussing how we might collaborate.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors?
My daughters love to give me advice on my designs and most of the time their opinions are spot on!
Great answer above! How important is it for you to have a career outside of being a mother?
It doesn’t feel like work when I am fortunate to receive a project that allows me to use my creativity. I recently started designing mitzvah logos. It’s so much fun to start with a theme and translate it into a unique logo that captures the child’s personality.
What do you do for fun, to let loose, to take care of yourself?
I really miss traveling, going out for fun dinners in the city and going to concerts. For my 40th birthday I invited a group of friends to see my favorite cover band called Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press. I hope one day soon we will be able to enjoy those luxuries. For now, one way I love to escape is to take long walks and clear my head. I’ll bring my headphones and go for an hour and a half. I usually take the same route which gives me a sense of normalcy. I also love to read. It’s great to pick up a book any time of day or night and dive into a character’s reality. I love that we can access thousands of free e-books from the local library. When I get a notification that an e-book has become available it’s like a little present waiting in my inbox.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
I love working with new clients! For anyone interested in expanding their marketing efforts, please visit Alison’s Portfolio here. I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at 847-542-3134 or email me at [email protected].