Hi, CI! is our monthly series featuring the best team we know - the Capacity Interactive team! You will learn more about the people who help arts organizations market smarter. This month, we’re featuring one of our Senior Analysts who is a former theatrical costumer that turned her passion for creativity and storytelling into a new career in digital marketing.
How long have you been at CI?
I’ve been at CI for about a year and a half.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Ethnically, my family is Japanese, by way of Hawaii.
You were a theatrical costumer before joining CI. How did you discover this passion and turn it into a career?
I’ve had a passion for making things and for fashion my entire life. In elementary school, I spent a lot of time sewing miniature clothes for my Sylvanian Families and putting together Victorian era-inspired outfits for my sister and me. My parents are big fans of the performing arts so they introduced us to music, theater, and dance at a young age as well. I participated in school plays growing up but didn’t end up costuming until college, at which point things kind of fell into place. It was a natural fit that merged a lot of my skills and interests.
Have you worked on any shows or with artists that were personal favorites of yours?
I’ve been so lucky to work on many great shows and with incredible artists over the years! I had the privilege of working with Kendrick Lamar during The DAMN. Tour, which was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was proud of the work I did - I was able to contribute something to an artist I respect.
My time at LA Opera (LAO) also holds a very special place in my heart. The whole company was wonderful, and as a bonus, I got to work with so many intricate, fun costumes. Before I started, I knew next to nothing about opera, so working at LAO cultivated my appreciation for the art form.
Are there any parallels between costume design/construction and digital marketing?
I think there are a few! With both costume design and digital marketing, you’re working to tell a story. You’re figuring out ways to draw audiences into an experience through storytelling. With costume construction, functionality is very important - theatrical costumes often need to function in ways that street clothing does not. How does this piece of clothing need to move, interact with other clothing/props, and stay or come off of the body? User experience is a major consideration, just like in digital marketing.
One of your super skills relates to user experience - how can arts organizations reduce friction on their websites?
I try to put myself in the users’ shoes and anticipate their various series of actions. What are people trying to accomplish on the website, and what could make that process seamless? Sometimes it’s tricky because my personal behavior might not mimic other user behavior - it can require some imagination. But looking at the data is a good place to start. Where does it seem like people are experiencing friction, and what are some ways can we smooth that out?
Let’s talk about your Instagram account, @janamakesthings. Tell us what you make and why it’s important for you to be creative outside of work.
I started this account years ago as an informal way to keep track of some of my work, but I was terrible about keeping it up. The things I make now are just for fun, and it’s a bit of a mish-mash as I try to find my own creative voice after years of making things for others. Working with my hands is meditative and allows that space for dopamine and distraction - it’s the perfect space for ideas to emerge.
In terms of content, how can arts administrators find creative inspiration?
I know this is cheesy but I really believe that inspiration is all around us. I love walking through the city to see what interesting visual information catches my eye. If I see something funny or intriguing, I take a photo or write it down. With this method, I have a notebook full of inspirational cues to turn to next time I need inspiration. I like to look to other industries or other countries, as well, to see what their aesthetics are, how they present information, and how they tell stories. I also browse Instagram a lot. Some of it’s for fun, of course, but doing this helps me keep an eye on what’s happening out in the world and in communities outside my own.
What’s something about your job that makes you excited to come to work every day?
Definitely the people! It’s a wonderful thing to walk into an office where everyone is passionate about the arts, intellectually curious, and constantly striving to do excellent work.
What’s one tip you can give to help arts organizations market smarter?
Take time to connect with your audiences on a personal level. Acknowledge that they are part of your community, whether you're responding to a comment on a social media, sending thank you emails, or sharing a delightful piece of content that you know they’ll enjoy.