If you've been following me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently visited the Vera Bradley headquarters in Roanoke, Indiana. I'm warning you now: this post will most likely turn to a sappy one :) Over the past 18 months or so (I sound like one of those moms who when asked the age of their child says 24 months instead of 2 years old!) I've become pen pals with their amazing press/product placement manager, Holly. So, Sarah and I decided it would be fun to take a mini road trip to hang out for the day.
Now, let's get to it shall we? I'm going to start by saying, that over the course of the past 5 years, I've worked with several brands. 8/10 of those brands send purely product to test (many which don't make it on the blog), and I rarely get paid for anything - which I'm totally ok with! I never started my blog to make money or get free product, it was just one of those exciting perks that started to happen when I invested more time and effort into my site. It actually pains me to have family/friends ask, "Do you receive all that product you post on your blog for free?" I'm very upfront about that, but I would much rather they take a minute to think about the content I post rather than what is just seen through the photos... but I digress :)
One of the first brands I ever worked with was Vera Bradley, and I'm so very lucky to have kept up the partnership - so much so it's turned into a friendship! To be 100% honest, this is the first and only time a friendship has sparked from working with a brand - pretty cool, huh? The thing that has stuck with me time after time from working with Holly, Kaylee and the VB team, is their interest to get to know me, what I enjoy and the person I am behind the blog. For once, I can work hands on with a brand who doesn't judge me for my Instagram followers, instead they see the awesome content I produce (at least I think so), great photos I work really hard to capture and the tireless brainstorming that happens around the clock (all while keeping up with my 9-6 full time job). It's partnerships like this that make me SO thankful for opportunities this blogger world has brought me to. A thank you card is never enough for everything the team has given me!
Now that I've bursted out my love for the VB team, let's chat about their amazing space, shall we? Sarah and I started our journey with a walk to grab our Zipcar (c/o). If you've haven't heard of them or used the service yet, you are seriously missing out. The card sharing service has locations marked through out the city for easy and convenient pick up. You simply reserve your cool car online and use the trusty zip card (looks like a credit card) to open the doors. To say I'm obsessed is an understatement!
When you reserve the car it gives you all your fees upfront. You don't even have to worry about gas! They include a trusty gas card in the visor to use when you need to fill up - that in itself is a treat! I purposely picked out an SUV with minimal branding so no one would immediately know we were borrowing a car. Never know who's trying to prey on the tourists! After we grabbed our car, the next logical step was to grab a coffee and donut, of course :)
And just like that, (...or 3.5 hours later), we arrived in Fort Wayne! Before heading the the VB HQ, we grabbed lunch with Holly and Kaylee (more on those specifics in my next post... 24 hours in Fort Wayne). With full bellies, we went on over to the offices. Personally, I love the open concept offices - which is just how VB is designed (scroll down to see more).
They are just about to launch a rebrand with a new logo, store design and revamp of core values. If you've purchased anything recently, you might have noticed the adorable new logo with the tagline - "It's Good to Be a Girl." - I mean, how awesome is that! What a powerful phrase for young women to aspire to be and for the experienced ladies to strive to live out?
Throughout the office are little nooks like the ones below. The office was designed to feel like a home, as many times, we spend more time at the work then we do in our own home. They really have their branding down, from the office space to the products! Speaking of products, a fun stop along our tour was to see their production room a.k.a every girls craft room dream! They make their prototypes on site for testing and review...pretty cool!
Currently, VB is working with Charis House to sponsor 42 children in need. Employees sign up and contribute gift cards on the giving tree for children to buy school supplies and/or clothes for their first day of school. Allowing them to purchase what they love gives them a sense of empowerment to look and feel their best to kick off the start of the school year on a high note!
VB's main philanthropy is the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, which focuses on supporting cutting-edge breast cancer research. Since 1998, the Vera Bradley Foundation has donated more than $23 million to breast cancer research. During our tour of the office space, Holly walked us through the common space that is used for company wide meetings and fundraising events. It's not often that you see a companies Foundation run and managed on site!
I'm obsessed with VB's beautiful advertorial shoots. They images were scattered through out the office, but really share the personality of the brand. I want to go on a canoe trip with those girls! hehe Below is the sweet Holly doing her thang in her office space! I mentioned it before, but I can't say enough nice things about Holly. She is such kind sole and really does an amazing job representing the VB brand. The love, respect and support she has given me as not just a blogger, but friend, has been just amazing - in every sense of the word! We only met once prior to this, but chatting at dinner with her and Sarah for 3+ hours, was like picking up conversation with your best friends feeling like no time had passed. Not to mentioned, we literally could not stop laughing for hours! I have friends I've know for 10+ years that I can't even do that with!
One of the other cool features at the office is the wall of patterns showing the evolution of the brand over time. Did you know their best selling pattern is Java Blue? We hear they are some die hard fans out there praying for that one to come back, but we love seeing what new bright patterns and leather options they dream up for future products!
Cheers to my partner in crime and one of my best friends, Sarah, for accompanying me on this trip. The amount of time I spend with Sarah is kind of crazy - glad we aren't sick of each other yet :) Pretty sure my mom and dad think "My friend Sarah" is made up... but I swear she is alive, well and here in the flesh!