Soap Star Spotlight

Over 16 years ago, Diane Seimetz opened her own advertising agency with Michael Boone and David Wilgus. In 2016, this little entrepreneur decided she wasn’t done entrepreneur-ing just yet, so she launched a soap and skincare company called A Joy Forever Bath + Body. This business, along with her agency, continues to thrive today. Hear how Diane runs a full-time business and a side business without missing a beat.

Diane Seimetz at the Texas Veggie Fair with Mayra Gaytan of OMG Vegan Tamales

How did your first business encourage you to start the second?

As an employee for more than 20 years, I never saw myself as business owner.  But the thrills, occasional spills, and unique kind of satisfaction that come with creating something from scratch turned me into a bit of a startup junkie.

What inspired you to start your recent side hustle?

I’ve always loved to make things. Whether it was tiny cakes with an Easy-Bake oven; knitting with my mother’s old clackety metal needles; Mod Podge plaques and popsicle stick Christmas ornaments – you name it, my hands were in it. Ultimately, my professional career led me to advertising, where I could be a maker, too.

Why bath and body products?

I have an incurable condition where my immune system attacks my own cells. The resulting inflammation causes an array of symptoms, most commonly joint pain and rashes. So, I decided to take my health into my own hands becoming vegan and reducing everyday toxins by making my own personal care and cleaning items. Within two years, I was off all medications, and experienced few, if any, symptoms. As an unexpected side-benefit, I found crafting my own soaps and skincare to be enormously satisfying. Just taking in the healing fragrances of the essential oils infused into my creams, balms and butters inspired me to attempt more challenging, intricate creations.

These caught the attention of family, friends and coworkers, who began asking for the same products I prepared for myself. By 2016, I decided to formalize the arrangement and turn my healthy hobby into a small side business. This past year, I expanded to add a men’s shave and shower line, Tumbleweed+Thyme, and pet care products as well.  All are Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free and part of the GoTexan program supporting native Texas businesses.

Where can we find your wares?

I love handmade markets, because they provide the opportunity to really talk with people. That’s hard to do in an e-commerce environment. I am particularly fond of the Boho Market at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and The Shacks in Plano, as well as V-Market pop-ups – held at cool venues around DFW throughout the year. It’s always gratifying to see customers – many of whom have become friends – drive a fair distance to buy my products and share their experiences with me. That keeps me going and growing in my work. But if markets aren’t your thing, I also happily take online orders at

Meet our resident sketch artist

You might say Launcher, Richard Wezensky is a little obsessed with sketching. After all, he’s been drawing for the past 31 days as part of Inktober, a social challenge that gives you a different prompt every day to inspire a different illustration for the entire month of October. But Richard’s had a pencil in his hand way before that. Recently, we sat down with him to find out what drives all this doodling.

What inspired you to start drawing?

After the HOW Design Conference, where I was inspired by many great industry leaders, I decided to take some analog breaks from my digitally driven days and just make things.

How do you fit sketching into your schedule?

I try to give my best time to myself—which is usually in the mornings. Sometimes, I get so into a sketch, that I take some of my lunch or evenings to finish. Occasionally, inspirations will strike and I find myself starting a rough sketch between layouts. I always keep my sketchbook available for when that happens.

What keeps you going?

Sketching makes me extremely happy. I almost forgot the joy making something for myself. It’s certainly a nice way to break out of a creative rut and it’s even more satisfying when I see other folks getting inspired to make things.

How do you think sketching helps you be a better art director?

This creative reset has given me a fresh perspective on the projects that I work on for my clients. I’m open to try more visually challenging solutions.

How does your future sketch out?

I’ve always had a desire to create a graphic story—perhaps one about riding my bike, which is my other passion.

Which artists or illustrators inspire you?

I follow a lot of great illustrators on Instagram. Among them, Jake Parker, who started Inktober – a grassroots challenge for artists to improve their drawing skills. I just finished participating in that challenge, which happens throughout the month of October – 31 days, 31 drawings.

Why do you dig drawing so much?

I truly love doing this because a ‘maker’ has to make. The greatest side effect is seeing people around me starting to make things as well. I shared a great evening with my son, where we just sat at the kitchen table, drawing together.

Have you received any high fives, awards or pats on the back for your work?

I was offered to do a show, but I’m only working out of a sketchbook, so I really don’t have anything to display yet. I’ve also picked up a couple of commissions, which I thought would never happen. And maybe the most surprising thing that’s happened is that one of my drawings became a tattoo. On a person I’ve never met. Kinda flattering in a weird way.

Tattoo photo courtesy of ink lover, Angie Malek

Happy 16th Launchiversary!

Launch celebrated its 16th anniversary last night by treating the entire team to dinner at Al Biernat’s. Time sure flies when you’re launching brands and building a talented team.

It’s been 16 years since Creative Directors, David Wilgus and Diane Seimetz joined forces with Account Lead, Michael Boone. Years later, these three are still having a blast with many of the same clients and crew that have been on this crazy ride with them right from the start.

How Technology Has Changed the Creative Process (and Why It’s a Good Thing)

Technology has come a long way since the typewriter era of advertising.  It’s hard to believe that in 1990, 99% of households had no internet.  We’ve seen massive technological advancements over the past 40 years, from the Internet of Things to cell phones to blockchain, which have impacted not only our personal lives, but the way we market products as well. Things like digital video, which only got a dedicated platform with YouTube in 2005, have exploded in just a short time.  New research reveals that almost 60% of advertisers’ budgets are allocated to digital video, and nearly half of these advertisers plan on upping this spend over the next year, a shift from the dominance of cable TV ads in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Launch Principal Dave Wilgus understands this shift – indeed, he’s lived it.  Growing up, Dave had a passion for art, design, and film, which led to the start of his advertising career with an internship at TracyLocke in the late ‘70s.  While the casual jeans-and-T-shirt uniform of his early advertising days is the same, just about everything else has changed. “This is going to make me sound ancient, but when I began my career the technology being used in advertising at the time was primitive compared to what we use today,” Dave says.  “Before computers, we drew marker comps by hand to illustrate advertising ideas for client presentations.  I still carry a few Xacto blade scars from the early days.”

Does tech help or harm creativity?

Now, of course, things that took ages to create can be done much more quickly thanks to technology.  But what’s been the real impact of technology on creativity?  And has technology made it easier or harder to be creative?  The answer lies somewhere in between. “We believe that great creative starts with a strong consumer insight,” he says. “Our creative approach is always closely tied to consumers’ needs and identified through listening and research. Technology really allows us to collect more targeted audience data than in the past and that helps us get to better insight-driven ideas, making it easier to be more creative.” Of course, problems arise when large companies abuse customer data instead of respecting customer data privacy, generating distrust between brands and consumers.  It’s this trust that has become crucial to building a successful brand – more than one in three consumers cite trust as their top reason for shopping with a certain company. “This aggravation has birthed new technologies like ad blockers to keep advertisers away, making it harder to be creative,” Dave notes.

Limitations breed opportunities

While it’s only natural that consumers would take steps to protect their privacy, there are still plenty of non-invasive opportunities for advertising professionals to experiment with delivering messages. “Our creative philosophy has not changed, but our processes have evolved to put new emphasis on creative collaboration involving diverse technology expertise,” he says. It’s collaboration that has always been at the heart of advertising, and that collaboration will help agencies adapt to future technological changes. “The creative process is really about breaking down those siloes,” Dave says.  “We might include a traditional writer and art director team along with an interactive designer, social content creator, and digital media expert on a new project. Harnessing the collective energy and technological expertise of the agency leads to better ideas.”

Embracing Tech to Create Great

Bringing these areas of expertise together often leads to innovative uses of new technologies.  Dave points to the recent “JFK Unsilenced” ad from Irish agency Rothco on behalf of the Times of London as one example, which uses artificial intelligence and thousands of data points to help Kennedy deliver the speech he’d been scheduled to give on the day of his death. “I grew up here in Dallas and my father-in-law was a reporter waiting at the Trade Mart for Kennedy to deliver the speech,” he says. “Being able to hear JFK’s actual voice give that speech is a powerful experience and is a great example of how to use technology to engage a worldwide audience with a brand whose mission is to deliver innovative storytelling and insightful journalism to the global community it serves.” The creative use of AI in this spot points to the limitless potential of technology to make messages that would have never before been possible.  And more traditional digital paths are opening to marketers, like the recently launched IGTV, which presents new avenues in the realm of video. “We have to be hungry for what’s next and always looking for ways brands can leverage technology to attract and engage consumers,” Dave says.  “Of course, the ultimate challenge for creatives in the future will be the same challenge we face today – engage and influence people who don’t want to be interrupted by ads!”

Diane Seimetz on What It Takes for Female Ad Execs to Succeed

The advertising industry has made great strides from the early Mad Men days, especially when it comes to gender equality.  Even so, some of the challenges that women faced in the 1960s still remain.  According to Adweek, only 11% of creative director positions are held by women.  Women can experience difficulty in rising to the top, and face unequal pay, discrimination, and harassment along the way. However, there’s reason to be hopeful.  Female leaders like Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, are making it their mission to create more leadership opportunities for women.  Other creatives have been inspired by the 3% Conference to start their own initiatives. Mara Lecocq, encouraged by the movement, created the online database “Where are the boss ladies?” to assemble a list of ad agencies with female executives. Diane Seimetz, co-founder and owner at Launch Agency, is no stranger to the issues many female executives encounter, but she also knows the joys of a well-crafted pitch and an afternoon brainstorm.  And at the end of the day, there’s no other industry where she’d rather flex her creative muscles.   Diane Seimetz  Diane Seimetz As a child, Diane was always creating things and showed an early interest in writing.  She would make cookbooks, write three-act plays, enter poetry contests, and even enlisted the help of her father to send promotional ideas to companies (winning 10 free ice cream cones from Baskin Robbins as a result). She graduated from college with a Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Theater but knew that her passion for plays wasn’t necessarily a career path.  She worked several jobs post-graduation to make ends meet – making eyeglasses in an optical factory, clerking at a dress store, working for a professional babysitting service – before picking up a writing gig at an ad agency. The advertising industry was a godsend for Diane. “I felt like an equal in an industry where talent reigned and leveled the playing field,” she says.  “I didn’t find out until many years later that I often earned less than my male counterparts.  But honestly, I loved what I did so much, I usually couldn’t believe I was actually getting paid to do it.  My late husband was a CPA, and when we talked about what we did at the end of a long day, I recognized how very fortunate I was to have a creative job, and hugely talented, inspiring, often hilarious people alongside me.” One of the biggest aids when Diane was first starting out was her mentor, Diane Fannon of The Richards Group.   Diane Fannon of The Richards Group  Diane Fannon of The Richards Group She took a flyer on me, and I will always be grateful for her,” says Diane.  “She was (and still is) a tireless advocate for great work, an incredible strategic thinker and killer presenter. She also tells a dirty joke like nobody’s business.” Mentorships like the one Diane experienced early in her career are crucial for preventing women in middle management positions from leaving the ad industry altogether. The Advertising Club of New York (ACNY) created a mentorship program design to explore and combat this drop-off, teaching women how to gain confidence and network more effectively.  At the end of the program, participants reported that they felt much more confident in general and more comfortable with networking.  An added bonus – they became very close with their fellow mentees. Strong bonds like these can help prevent some of the dissatisfaction that women in the ad industry experience. That mentorship and the other strong bonds she formed during her career gave Diane the confidence to launch her own ad agency.  She was working with her partner Dave Wilgus on a friend’s new grocery delivery service when she got a taste of how exhilarating business ownership could be.  Together they created the strategy, marketing campaign, and executed all the creative for while holding down full-time jobs at Temerlin-McClain (TM Advertising). “Even logging 75-80 hours a week, it was one of the most exciting professional experiences of my life,” says Diane.  “We both caught the entrepreneurial bug, and subsequently started Launch in 2003.” Being a female businesswoman can be a challenge all on its own, but add to that the responsibility of motherhood, and things get even trickier.  Advertising can sometimes come with long hours and tight deadlines, which can be more difficult for mothers to navigate.  Indeed, an IPG study revealed that 49% of women in the ad industry think their family responsibilities prevent them from advancing in their careers. “I had both of my kids while at TracyLocke; keeping up with all of the mom/wife duties on top of long days, all-nighters, working weekends, and traveling on shoots was crazy and sometimes super stressful,” says Diane. But it’s not all stress and sleepless nights:  being a woman in advertising can come with perks.  For Diane, she relishes representing a prime target audience of advertisers, taking the personal aspect of the business to a new level. “I have also forged some of my strongest, most enduring friendships with women being in this business,” she says.  “I think the long hours, client antics – general roller coaster ride we’re all on – bond you in a unique and special way.”   Diane and some of the Launch team trading stories at the 15th Launchiversary dinner.  Diane and some of the Launch team trading stories at the 15th Launchiversary dinner. In order to increase the number of female leaders in advertising, it’s also important that women take stock of their own approach to the job.  Diane believes that transferring your innate passions to your work is the most important skill a woman in business can have and that this transfer takes time and practice. “Most of us have strong emotions that are deeply felt and powerful gut instincts,” she says, “but they can only be used to make great work and transform a client’s business if they are applied and shared.”

15 Things We’ve Learned in 15 Years of Business

It’s a little hard to believe, but Launch turned 15 this year, and in honor of this milestone, we wanted to take time to reflect.  There’ve been many big changes in 15 years – from clients won and lost, to birthdays, anniversaries, births and deaths, to the rise of the digital age that has changed advertising in numerous ways.  The diverse bunch of talented employees that we’ve gathered from different cities, backgrounds, and age groups have weathered it through thick and thin, and all learned something along the way.  Launchers share the most important thing they’ve learned from their time in the working world below. 1) “What I’ve learned in 15 years is that building strong personal relationships with current and future clients is one of the main keys to success.” – Jason Giles, Account Director 2) “Clients can be your best creative people.” – Diane Seimetz, Principal 3) “Think outside your own demographic. I am not always the target audience. You have to be aware that even if it doesn’t appeal or make sense to you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right strategy for what you are creating.” – Richard Wezensky, Associate Creative Director 4) “I have learned that I always performed better at jobs where recognition and employee morale were priorities. When there is a healthy mixture of constructive criticism and recognition for a job well done, it has fostered a more positive experience for me and helped me grow.” – Preciosa Johnson, Office Manager 5) “The main thing I’ve learned is that one of your greatest assets is to be flexible. Budgets get cut, deadlines move up, clients change their mind, social media specs and regulations transform weekly, natural disasters cause shipping delays, etc. If you can take it in stride with a smile on your face, then you and your team are much better off. It’ll all get done one way or another!” – Carolyn Sexton, Art Director 6) “As a creative person and writer, I have learned that shifting my environment and tools can stimulate different modes of thinking. When I’m ideating, I like to get away from the desk and out of the office, and capture ideas by hand with paper and pencil. It helps to silence my inner editor and gives me the freedom to generate tons of ideas. However, when I’m doing heavy writing or revision, sitting at my desk with a laptop that offers the ability to type quickly, cut, paste and use keyboard shortcuts is a real godsend.” – Alex Slotkin, Associate Creative Director 7) “Always be on the lookout for creative opportunities, even in the most unexpected places and keep the passion for creativity alive.” – Brittany Frazier, Digital Production 8) “Great creative can only happen with great clients. Our best work was done for clients who we have close, trusting relationships with.” – David Wilgus, Principal 9) “Asking the right questions is so important. You can save a lot of time going back and forth with a client if you ask good questions from the get-go. It’s also helpful for the creative process – if Account Managers/Project Managers can present the right question or problem in a brief, the creatives have more to work with. Per Luke Sullivan – ‘Creativity happens in response to a problem.’” – Alexa Perez, Project Manager 10) “Help will come from unexpected places. Especially for start-up companies. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice – if you wait or assume, it may not come.” – Michael Boone, Principal 11) “Be as patient as you can, both with clients and your coworkers.  What makes sense to you may not make sense initially to someone else, and learning how to be patient is key.  It can save a lot of confusion down the road and help a client or coworker learn something new in the process.” – Caroline Gillan, Digital Content Specialist 12) “Every day is an opportunity to learn – no project is exactly the same and if you are willing, you gain the ability to understand how to tackle future projects, overwhelming jobs, and difficult timelines.” – Zach Deutsch, Account Executive 13) “Fear is temporary, regret is forever.  Go for it.” – Diane Seimetz, Principal 14) “Be kind to the people you work with. We spend a tremendous amount of our waking hours at work and the way we treat each other is incredibly important. I have been extremely fortunate to work with some amazingly talented and genuinely nice people over the last 15 years.” – Dave Wilgus, Principal 15) “Through all the emerging technologies, new media and cultural changes, this business still comes down to great ideas, well told that inform, persuade and even entertain, not annoy or beg to be skipped. Easier said than done.” – Michael Boone, Principal

Typographics Festival: An Art Director’s Experience

Art Director Carolyn Sexton recently had the opportunity to attend the Typographics design festival in New York City,  centered around contemporary typography. The midpoint of the festival is a 2-day conference that bridges together two weeks of workshops and tours. With a more specific audience and only being in its third year, all attendees were able to fit in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union. Although the physical environment was on a smaller scale compared to other conferences she’s attended, there was not a lack of energy, wisdom or inspiration. “The next two days were a whirlwind,” says Carolyn.  “I heard over 20 speakers from all over the world discussing topics on graphic design and type design. Each talk was only 30 minutes and you could tell that the presenters felt a little rushed, but I took away a lot in just half an hour.” Check out a few of Carolyn’s favorites from the panels below:  Whitney Museum collateral, c/o  Grafik  Whitney Museum collateral, c/o Grafik

“It’s not Helvetica, and other facts about designing for the Whitney”

by Hilary Greenbaum, Whitney Museum of American Art Hilary spoke about the rebranding of the Whitney Museum and how her small team of in-house designers has maintained and established the identity system through an array of marketing, print materials, digital media, exhibition graphics, and signage. The challenges are very similar to those Launch faces with long-standing client, Park Place Dealerships. Substitute museum exhibitions with luxury car manufacturers and dealerships, and you have the same concept of creating consistency across the brand. She talked about how to push your design within the “rules,” and how sometimes you have to be willing to break your own guidelines.  “Silence = Death” AIDs poster, created by Avram Finklestein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccaras, c/o ACT UP

“Resist Typography”

by Marlene McCarty ­Marlene explored how typography is used in political and social activist movements. Decades ago, protest posters utilized great design and branding. They were clean, simple and had a sense of uniformity. This can be seen in the AIDS marches during the 1980s. However, the posters of more recent years have seen a shift away from branding because of the subliminal association with big business and advertising. Now more than ever we have the digital tools to create well-designed activist posters and signage, but we’re choosing to create something handmade. Just look at posters from the Women’s March.  The message was unified but was communicated a hundred different ways with a hundred different mediums. This desire for authenticity has bled into the advertising world, where brands want personal connection with their customers and don’t want to be perceived as too corporate.  Seattle Women's March,  c/o Edith B. and A Mighty Girl  Seattle Women’s March, c/o Edith B. and A Mighty Girl  Ken Barber leading the class Ken Barber leading the class

Spencerian Letter Workshop

by Ken Barber Following the conference, Carolyn took a 2-day workshop on Spencerian Letter with Ken Barber. “This was probably the highlight of my trip,” she says. “Leading up to the workshop, I was geeking out over the newly released ‘House Industries’ book that Ken co-authored. To say I had high expectations for the workshop would be an understatement, and Ken did not disappoint. He was extremely knowledgeable and encouraging. I learned a ton about this extravagant lettering style, as well as other tips and tricks I can apply to future projects.”  Some lettering examples Some lettering examples

Meet Our Summer Intern, Laurel Tauben

Please give a warm welcome to our summer graphic design intern, Laurel Tauben!  She’s a locally grown 21-year-old designer-in-training, an avid diver, conceptual thinker, and even cyborg. She loves dancing (especially couple’s dancing), and forcing her cat, Jelly, to spend time with her. Next year she’ll be a graduate of the University of North Texas’ Communication Design program and is eager to see how her life will change after graduation.  We asked her a few questions to get to know her a little better – take a look at her answers below! Q:  Werewolves or vampires? A:  Usually vampires. Werewolves are clique-y. Q:  There’s a zombie apocalypse. What do you grab? A:  My car keys. I’m going to Wal-Mart where there’s no windows, video monitoring, huge food supply, pharmacy, weapons, AND barricade materials. With a few extra people on board, you’ve got a micro-city. Q:  Favorite boy band? A:  Fall Out Boy Q:   If you could dis-invent one thing, what would it be? A:  Bras. :’( Q:  If fat, calories, cholesterol, etc. were not an issue, what two foods would you feast on? A:  French bread & cream puffs. Q:  What has been the highlight of your experience at Launch so far? A:  Endless coffee and getting to know the Launch team. Everyone’s been so sweet!  Q:  What do you hope to learn in your time at Launch? A:  To list a few, I hope to become more confident in my ability to deliver what a client needs, streamline my process to work faster, strengthen my collaboration skills, and peek into the “real world” of design.  

Favorite Fonts: An Art Director’s Take

We sat down with Art Director Carolyn Sexton to pick her brains and learn about some of her favorite fonts: Let me start by saying that I hate “favorites” lists. I am extremely indecisive and the thought of having to pick my favorite movie, band, or even food is a daunting task. Can’t I have a million favorites? Sitting down to write about my Top 5 Favorite Fonts was no different. In order to narrow the selection, I’ve decided to focus on my current favorites—what I seem to be using the most of right now, at this very moment. Here it goes, in no particular order:

1. Gotham

“A Gotham for every occasion” is no understatement. There is an array of weights and widths to fit your every need. It works well for headlines, body copy, logos, anything – seriously, anything. What I like most about Gotham is its legibility. There’s a geometric quality to it that reaches beyond the grid.

2. Brandon Grotesque

I like Brandon Grotesque for a lot of the same reasons I like Gotham. It’s open, easy to read, and functional across multiple applications. However, there’s something a little more friendly and approachable about Brandon Grotesque. The shortened x-height and the way the letterforms have been optically corrected are some of the contributing factors.

3. Mrs Eaves

Inspired by Baskerville, Mrs Eaves is a transitional serif typeface. The wide letter-spacing and low x-height make it unique among other serifs. I like to use it as text or supporting type. It feels fancy and familiar. #imsofancy #youalreadyknow

4. Rolling Pen

My passion for calligraphy and hand-lettering leads me to my next fave. Rolling Pen is fluid, overly simple, and just delightful. I want my own handwriting to look like this. The delicate swashes and alternates add a sense of excitement and elegance. I’ve been having a lot of fun incorporating it into invitations.

5. Burford

Burford is a vintage display font that resembles European signage. What makes this font so cool is all the different layering options. The base is beautiful all by itself, but it really starts to come alive when you combine multiple layers. The possibilities are endless! Well that does it for my Top 5 Favorite Fonts at This Moment in Time. If you ask me next month, I’m sure they’ll be different. But please don’t ask me because I’ll have to spend 4 hours thinking about it.