Savannah Davis is Namta's Communications & Marketing Assistant - and - Namta's Token Millennial!

Here are some of Savannah's articles.


Contact Savannah at [email protected]





 


Hello from the Token Millennial
by Savannah Davis, Namta

April 8, 2020

Hi there! I am new at Namta and, like previous jobs, have been dubbed the token millennial of the office (not that I had much time in the office before Coronavirus turned the world upside down).

When surrounded by the counterparts of Namta, each with impressive resumes and the amount of knowledge that can only come from several times the amount of work experience I have had, I wonder how I can contribute. But in an effort to stay connected, simply being born between 1981 and 1996 ( I think those are the right years) gave me a seat at the table with people far more impressive than I am - and I am smart enough to take advantage of my opportunity to learn. So while we practice social distancing and the "seat at the table" is actually a small Ikea desk at home next to my dog, you can find me doing different tasks on the website in my endless rotation of athleisure and pajamas. I look forward to getting to know you all and am hopeful to get to meet you at Art Materials World.

And for whatever it is worth, here is my millennial take that I will leave you with: when eventually the world opens back up - may we all re-enter it with a deeper appreciation for our grocery store clerks and teachers, our health care professionals and delivery workers, our chatty neighbors and kind strangers; may we tirelessly promote our favorite small businesses, openly acknowledge the impact the arts has on maintaining our mental health, and never take for granted the ability to embrace and catch up with a friend.

 


HELLO FROM THE TOKEN MILLENNIAL
by Savannah Davis, Namta

April 22, 2020

Turkey Trots, Dance Recitals and Spaghetti Dinners

Who else is guilty of making plans and then breathing a sigh of relief when they get canceled? Sometimes between friends and family, exercise, grocery shopping, cleaning and everything else on life’s never ending to-do list, you must put up a mental out of office and say, “nope, not today”. Today I am saying no to all obligations and sitting in my pajamas and binge watching Schitt's Creek (again) while indulging myself in an all-day diet of wine, cheese and crackers. If you’re hesitant to make this confession, it’s okay- your secret is safe with me. But considering social distancing, I would like to go on the record and publicly apologize for my sporadic personal days throughout the year. If I could, I would go back and say yes to attending your fundraising spaghetti dinner, my second cousin’s dance recital, the unnecessarily early 5K and that high school friend’s Facebook request for moving help. (Maybe don’t quote me on the 5k participation- Turkey Trots are not my thing).

If I knew then how much I would miss everything and everyone now, I wouldn’t have turned down a single invitation. I had no idea how appealing an uncomfortable auditorium chair and never ending dance routines to Disney songs would sound after so many weeks of seclusion at home. How would I know to miss that?

On the flip-side of 5Ks and spaghetti fundraisers, when I got the official word that Art Materials World in April wasn’t going to be possible, I knew that I was missing out on an incredible experience. You see, I am an Art Materials World virgin and I was brought on to the Namta team specifically to help during the show. I had been anxiously awaiting the end of April so that I could finally see what all the hustle turns into; what the staff pours every ounce of energy into making so successful. I have quietly combed through so many of your company’s social media accounts and websites so that I could see your stores or products or artistry- I just couldn’t wait to see everything in-person.

We exist in such a digital world that events like trade shows are the welcomed pause on emails and text messages and phone calls- and rather the immersion into face-to-face networking, exciting demos and energetic showcasing. All the exhibitors have a story to tell and I was prepared to soak up each one like a sponge. But then Coronavirus happened and instead of packing my suitcase for Chicago I am making sure my top half looks presentable for a Zoom call later. It goes without saying that canceling the April dates was the right decision, our health matters above all else, and in the big-scheme of things my disappointment is insanely trivial and minute in comparison to the world’s grief right now. But to any of you readers who thought you, too, would be gearing up to attend Art Materials World- I hope you know just how excited I am to meet you when the time is right. What an experience Art Materials World will be with our re-discovered appreciation for human connection!

Until then, you will find all of Namta doing our parts to flatten the curve by staying home, pivoting our expectations for this week, and diligently pursuing new ways to connect all of our members.

 

 


HELLO FROM THE TOKEN MILLENNIAL
by Savannah Davis, Namta

May 6, 2020

You know the proverbial scenario of you're stranded on a deserted island and you only get to bring 3 things with you? To make this game more relevant, let’s consider it is a pandemic and you’re able to acquire a few additions on top of your essentials. You have food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks and your health and sanity (clearly this is a game because who actually has all of those things). This ‘3 things’ game is purely for entertainment items, so with that being said, I will be selecting wine, my dog, and Netflix. Don’t tell my husband that I am putting Ozark above him, but if you’ve seen it, you understand.

Luckily, for the sake of the world, there are people using this time to dive deeper into their craft. I aspire to be like those people. Like Erin Stewart who would grab Windsor & Newton watercolor paints, Princeton paintbrushes, and Canson watercolor paper. While I have finished work every day and religiously turned to Chardonnay and Jason Bateman, Erin says the pandemic has only increased her awareness of the necessity to create beautiful things. When I chatted with Erin she shared with me that it is so easy to look around and notice destruction, fear, and hurt.  She went on to say that she believes artists have the opportunity to help people process dark and heavy things through their work, and that it is, “a beautiful gift to offer a struggling world something lovely, beautiful, and hopeful- and to allow them to think about those things through art.”

After my conversation with Erin I sat in deep reflection over her words, her sense of responsibility to create beauty. As I ponder this reality I wonder how many other artists are creating what could be their greatest work- and what an exciting prospect that is. I reach out to another artist, Karah Hamel, to see if she shares Erin’s sentiment. Karah considers herself to be a growing artist who loves to experiment with new styles and methods, but tends to gravitate towards very bright colors and playing with the mixture of realism and surrealism. She tells me she has tried everything from oils to watercolor to wood burning tools, but acrylic allows her to do the work that she feels most inspired by. Her love for acrylic is fueled by it’s versatility and affordability. Karah is a recent college graduate with student debt and navigating a job market filled with hiring freezes and lay-offs. “Since I use some very bright colors and sharp lines, using a heavy body acrylic prevents me from having to keep going over it again and again with more layers to make it bright enough, and it gives the canvas some interesting texture. For more detailed components, I can also water it down a little to blend colors seamlessly, and acrylic dries so quickly and is heavy enough for me to be able to paint over portions and start again if I'm not happy with how it turned out”, she rattles off and I absorb it all, impressed by her adaptability and desire to  create regardless of circumstances.

Pictured,  "LOVE IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK" by Karah Hamel

I think of the greats- the songwriters and painters and authors, and think about how common it is to hear the story of their struggle before they hit it “big”, how the world’s pressures and dark circumstances created greatness. Will my future children take a field trip to view a Karah Hamel masterpiece? Will they look on at the captivating art and try to fathom the farfetched history of the 2020 pandemic that forced us all to retreat to our homes, but bore out of it greatness? Artistic greatness is never a worthy trade off for humanities’ suffering, but maybe it’s a sliver of joy among the wreckage.

So thank you Retailers- for your online orders and curbside pickups and supply kits. For navigating your stores ability to supply the greats with the materials they need to help us all process this world. If you’re a retailer who has sadly had to temporarily shut down, thank you, too. When the world opens back up there will still be a lot of processing to do, and we know you will be there.

Thank you to the Artists who contributed to this story with their interviews.

  • View Karah Hamel's work here.  
  • View Erin Stewart's work here.

 


HELLO FROM THE TOKEN MILLENNIAL
by Savannah Davis, Namta

May 20, 2020

I am disappointed in myself to report that I have surpassed the phase in social distancing where I am obsessively cleaning. To be transparent, I am not sure that I ever reached that point. I did a little spring cleaning followed by a curb side pick-up for Sherwin Williams “Pure White” paint and felt surely my life would be transformed. My husband felt less convinced, and more bemused as to why it was necessary to change our living room from the light grey the previous owners had selected to white. I love the clean, pure, brightness of white walls and we had nothing but time so I picked up some supplies and was two walls in before he even got home from work. He refuses to be the husband that sits on the couch while his wife tapes the baseboards- so that is how he ended up at 1 A.M. spinning in a circle saying, “maybe it’s the paint fumes but I really can’t tell the difference, Savannah."  I acted utterly shocked by his comment and suggested he wait until tomorrow to look at it with fresh eyes- then he would recognize the “monumental” change. I will not be forwarding this week’s article to my husband because I will not give him the validation…but you guys, it really was hard to tell that we had painted at all!!  Now I am convinced the paint wasn't transformative because we really should be “overgrouting” our stone fireplace to help achieve the aesthetic I am going for and my husband is praying every night that I will get off the “Chris Loves Julia” home renovation blog. I will keep you all posted on how this turns out but I am dangerously close to hitting ‘checkout’ on my online cart filled with mortar, industrial piping bags and concrete dye. The persistent 'Marie Kondo-esque' thoughts in my head, begging me to purge all the unnecessary items I’ve collected over the years versus start another project, are getting a bit tougher to ignore but for now I push them aside and keep scrolling through fireplace before and after images.

I’m reminded of this need-to-cleanse feeling a few days later when I am on the phone with Johanna Wiseman (left) from Akamai Art Supply in Hawaii. She has generously spared me a few moments of her time even though her to-do list is rampant as they prepare to re-open their doors on a modified schedule and capacity limit. She tells me about how this unique time of having their doors closed for so long gave them the opportunity to go through and “make a real mess” of the store. Pulling items off shelves and taking the time to go through inventory, evaluating what they may have even forgotten they carried. Because of this large inventory undertaking, Johanna says they were able to make the best grab bags for their customers- filled with wonderful products at a drastically reduced priced. I look around my newly painted white living room and think of Hawaii- the beauty and color, and I swear in that moment Johanna read my mind and went on to tell me about the amount of support they have gotten from new people moving to the island. With everything shut down, Akamai Art Supply ran curbside pick-ups and in addition to the support from top customers, Johanna said they gained a lot of new customers from people who had recently moved to the area looking for ways to occupy their time. With so much suffering going on, I cling to the visual of new neighbors in Hawaii experimenting with paints and other art materials they got from Johanna and I can’t help but smile.

Later in the day, I chat with Cindy Hoeper (left) from Lakeshore Art Supplies and Framing in Wisconsin, and she echoes the sentiment of providing for their customers in the safest way possible, even offering free local delivery in addition to the no-contact pickup. I instantly draw similarities between Johanna and Cindy- both sounding so stead-fast on the phone, energized by their passion in running their stores, I suppose, or maybe fueled by the craziness of our current world.

Like Akamai and retailers all around the world, Lakeshore Art Supplies had to pivot to keep providing for their customers. After chatting with Cindy, I get follow up information from Erica Block, the marketing director for Lakeshore. She tells me that they asked customers to place their orders by email or social media message, telling me that they don’t have an online store so it required extra effort and some challenges for owner, Cindy, but that it achieved the goal of keeping sales moving. They were able to use social media to promote painting kits, calligraphy sets, books and other products, encouraging people to use their time at home to try something new.

I reflect on my conversations with Johanna and Cindy and Erica and think maybe good energy is contagious. Over the phone and through emails I can tell all three of these women work so hard to keep their art stores thriving and after each interaction I did a fist bump for girl power and entrepreneurs and small businesses everywhere. When the idea was suggested to me to reach out to retailers, I was a little hesitant, thinking the last thing people would want to do is talk to me after they have had their shop doors closed for months and their worlds turned upside down. But boy was I wrong. Would you believe that I didn’t hear a single complaint in all my research and interviews? What I heard was perseverance, the ability to adapt. I heard stories of community and support for small businesses and the ability of art to bring people together when physically we must be apart. I heard the love that poured out as shop owners insisted their number one priority was keeping their customers and employees safe and healthy. I have heard of ordering local take out and purchasing gift cards for later use and promoting neighboring businesses new hours. I hear compassion and my heart swells and my eyes get a little misty as I think about how resilient the human spirit is and how proud I am of the retailers and artists I’ve spoken with and seen online.

I am no expert on Corona virus or the economy, I don’t know if we’re on the tail end of this madness or just getting started, but what I do know is that I believe in people. I believe that we can take a load of lemons and make juice for our neighbors and that the hearts of our communities are good. I also believe my husband is going to leave me soon if I don’t stop pretending to be an expert on home renovations- but I guess only time will tell.

To the retailers who took the time to chat with me over the last 2 weeks- from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Namta is truly rooting for your success, impressed by your efforts and working every day to help provide you with resources and communication outlets you need to support each other. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out the Namta Connect outlets including The Gallery (an online forum), The Theater (educational zoom sessions starting this Thursday, contact Rick Munisteri for information) and The Café (happy-hour style zoom sessions starting in June).  Hang in there and stay healthy!

- Savannah

If you'd like to send Savannah a message, email [email protected]