What I've Learned in Corporate Communications - The (Dreaded) Company Timeline

Three times in my previous career leading marketing communications departments, my team was tasked with creating a visual company timeline. For those not familiar with a timeline, it's used to illustrate in a linear fashion how far the organization has come and what it has accomplished via key milestones.

Done right, timelines communicate growth and momentum and are used to commemorate anniversaries, in presentations for investment capital and included in annual reports. Milestones could include launch date, first major client win, 100th employee, major product launches, etc.

So back to my experience - creating a company timeline from scratch makes me go into “deer in headlights” mode. Few organizations have on-staff historians to track major milestones. This means a lucky marketing person or two gets to run around and glean what happened and when with the people who were there. Usually this entails trying to get time with the founders/execs who would look at you blankly wondering why you were wasting their time and yours asking about something that happened X number of years ago. All of you corporate communications people are nodding your heads vigorously! 

So why am I writing about this? Having recently launched Hair Fairy, I’ve been celebrating key “firsts”. And just as important to me is all of the “firsts” that happened before our launch date. Starting Hair Fairy has been a steep learning curve because manufacturing, importing and retailing is all new to me. Knowing what it took to get to the point of transacting and hearing from happy customers makes the “before launch” milestones just as important as the “after launch” ones.

So here it is. The first Hair Fairy timeline. In Powerpoint of course. And because I’m in this for the long haul, I’ll keep adding to it. In a year a year (or five) I’ll look back and celebrate how far we’ve come.

What I Learned Working at REI

In high school, to pay for my car insurance and gas money, I worked at the REI store in Berkeley. It was the second REI store to open and thus its internal store code was 02. When I moved to Seattle to go to the University of Washington, I got a job working at store 01 – the “mother ship”. I felt like I was moving up in the REI universe! At the time, there were about a dozen stores. Now, there are over 40.

This was before REI moved into its current hip flagship store with the 3-story rock climbing wall and outdoor bike paths. Old time Seattelites stillremember the original REI that occupied an old building on Pike St and 11th. Previously a car dealership, broad ramps connected the floors and there was no modern HVAC system. We employees learned to dress in layers.

During my time at both stores, I worked in Shoes, Books and Clothing departments. We had to wear green vests with lots of pockets for pens, transfer slips and membership forms. Wearing the green vest meant you were an expert and easy for customers to spot when they had questions.

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Six Girls, One Dog and Managed Chaos - Hair Fairy’s First Photo Shoot

An early Saturday morning in June found me at a photography studio in Ballard.  My experience in corporate marketing meant this wasn’t my first time on set. What was so momentous was this was the first of (hopefully) many photo shoots for my company, Hair Fairy Bedding.  I was anxious and tired. But mostly, I wanted to remember this day as the start of something big.

In my marketing roles at companies, I’d been responsible for supporting and building a corporate brand that was established and owned by others. That morning in June, the images being snapped would be the cornerstone for the brand I was building. My brand. That felt huge.


I had a tiny start-up budget, but I didn’t want to skimp on the photography. After talking to a number of local professionals (all referred to me by former colleagues  - the power of referrals!), I selected Barta Photo. Run by husband/wife team Patrick Barta and Lyn Porterfield, I loved his clean style and aesthetic. And let’s face it, Tyson, their 8 year old yellow lab sort of cinched the deal. Barta brought in photo stylist and kid wrangler              Lisa B.


I was lucky to draft the daughters of friends from work, school and church. The girls were excited to be models and did beautifully, hamming it up for the camera one moment and pretending to be asleep the next. My daughter Grace also stepped up.  Her hair woes 8 years ago were the catalyst for discovering satin pillowcases and ultimately founding Hair Fairy. Later, my husband and son showed up to make it truly a family affair.

So six girls, one boy, three moms, a dog named Tyson, and a handful of others all packed in to the studio to create the images you see on the website here. The time lapse video will give you a glimpse of the energy and controlled chaos of that morning.  

I love the way they all turned out and how Patrick captured the Hair Fairy brand of fun, happy and comfort so perfectly. And the images above were just a few that made me laugh. I hope you enjoy them too!