Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, two childhood friends teamed up to create one of the most successful soap brands in stores today. They saw an opportunity to turn the chemical filled shelves of cleaning aisles into something with more pizzazz. Together they created Method, a brand whose vision is:
“Produce surface cleaners and soaps made from nontoxic, mostly natural ingredients, like coconut oil and plants, and package them in sleek modern bottles that people would want to display in their kitchens and bathrooms”.
They found a breakthrough in the cleaning industry through interdisciplinary thinking by combining high efficiency green cleaners with colorful, fun packaging. Instead of being so serious and informative about their mission to go green they made it different, and it helped to stand out to consumers. Today, their products can be found in more than 400 stores and amass an annual revenue of $100 million a year (Method).
Making an enticing cleaning product allowed this brand to stand out in flourish in a saturated market. The simple touch of colors, shape and their mission has allowed them to achieve greats sales and customer loyalty.
When we are faced with the natural struggle of defeat, unhappiness or anything in life that ales you, we’re told to reach out.
“Reach out to your teacher for help”
“Have you reached out to your doctor yet?”
“Consider reaching out to your friends”
The definition of reach isto extend; to stretch; to thrust out; to put forth – and can be interpreted in all aspects of life. But what happens when you extend yourself for help or to look for answers and your reach is met with nothing? This was my experience with the system of higher education: I felt like my perfect major was out of reach.
So I began to outreach.
In three years, I had been to two different schools and had arguably been in four majors, each one letting me down a little harder than the last. I wasn’t looking for easy A’s or an impressive transcript, I needed a fulfilling educational experience. In Carly Ristuccia’s “Standing Alone” she described my problem with standard college majors,
“…if everyone just stuck to guidelines and tradition, the world would never grow and would never have the chance to become any better”.
Until I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies I was beginning to lose hope that college could be a valuable part of my education. In my pursuit of the perfect major I began to outreach: to reach further than; to surpass or exceed; to go further than the school system allowed me. I started to network myself in ways that I never had before, on and off campus, that granted me friendships with advisers who I previously wouldn’t have connected with. I was producing more thoughtful and lasting work, and I caught myself loving to learn. Even homework stopped feeling like a daunting part of my day and instead became the way I interacted with my peers and saw what new things they were learning. After I had submitted the application for my programs approval I felt empowered: I defeated the diploma mill.
Too often when a student enters a university they prefer a handout, an experience where they’re able to reach out and be given what they desire. Instead, I looked for a hand-up: a program where I was forced to outreach what I had previously known to achieve something that hasn’t already been done before.
My program is named Marketing and Creative Services and is designed to connect visual arts with professional business and communication. With a creative mindset, I am able to envision what doesn’t exist and I strive to create a different future, one better than the present. My ability to create and articulate my vision has manifested in the way that I have designed my major. I chose Interdisciplinary Studies because I quickly realized that the established learning style of the university system could only take me so far when building the foundation for my career. With my Interdisciplinary Studies degree, I’ve incorporated the fields of visual arts, marketing and communication to allow me to a take a fresh approach to traditional business. I plan to pursue creative work such as writing, designing and producing for agencies in the fields of advertising, public relations, branding and talent. Currently, there’s no major or minor offered at Plymouth State that could truly satisfy a creative marketing approach and it’s important that the disciplines in my major feel integrated instead of simply sitting side by side.
I originally started my college education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design before transferring to Plymouth State University. With my background in visual arts, I learned a system of nontraditional communication that utilizes areas like line, composition, shape and space. All of these visual components help translate creative work in a professional setting. Visual Language (AH1140) emphasized traditional and nontraditional work done in 2-D fields, while learning about fundamental visual concepts like color, composition and content. Design History 1650-1920 (AH2999) taught me the origins of democratic design interpreted to the Do-It-Yourself movement and how we relate that to the products we use today. Understanding this concept has given me insight on how consumers understand and connect with mass produced goods. Form Study 3-D (AR1065) benefited the way that I understood objects in the idea of their scale, volume, mass and shape. This information can be widely beneficial when thinking about the products that you are creating and how your audience will interact with them. Drawing Projects (AR3520) strengthened my design discipline and enhanced my creative thinking, seeing and communication skills. I’m incorporating these core classes into my major because they have undeniably improved my craftsmanship, idea exploration and critical thinking skills.
Having a foundation in business with an attention to communication is how I plan on executing my vision. Learning to innovate collaboratively will transform my creative output and taking fundamental marketing classes will help my vision exist within many branches of business. Principles of Marketing (BU2450) will be the core of my business education by introducing marketing strategies. I’m very excited to learn how to innovate, promote and create ways to market products and businesses. Business Law (BU2480) was a crash course in legal practices and ethical conduct in a workplace. I added this course to my major after learning how beneficial it is to be legally ethical in a workplace. Professional Selling Skills I (BU3280) will help improve my technical development of sales, assessments and professional communication. Consumer Behavior (BU3340) will benefit my understanding of customers through psychology and sociology at an individual and group level. This combination of working within myself and a team appeals to me because I am interested in both freelance and contracted work. Branding and Marketing Communications (BU3370) will educate me on how to positively influence a consumer with promotional communication. I can also combine my visual background to help me achieve standout advertisements that can make an impact to the consumer. Corporate Public Relations (BU3600) will better develop my understanding for maintaining a brand or a client’s reputation and image. This class will strengthen my professional writing skills, a main component of communication. Business Innovation (BU3380) will be the highlight of my marketing classes. I’m excited to take this course because it teaches me how to continue learning upon graduation. My capstone project will allow me to bring the concepts I have learned throughout the class to life.
As a branch of marketing, professional communication courses will assist in developing the messages that I’m trying to deliver to my audience. Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies (CM2770) encourages me to explore how the media relates to cultural studies. Discovering the influence that communication theory has on the media will be relevant to my career and give me a better understanding of how to be an effective communicator in the workplace. Social Media Audience Engagement (CM2991) acknowledges the way an audience interacts with a social media presence. I’ll enjoy learning how to develop this presence through creativity, analytics and critical thinking. This course will be relevant to the development of both my clients’ online presence and my own. Technical Communication (CM3090) (TECO/WRCO) is one of the most anticipated courses in my major. This class offers a strong emphasis in writing proposals and reports while utilizing current technology. Designing an effective method of communication tailored to a specific audience will allow me greater success in communicating these messages.
Alongside visual arts, marketing and communication, my major will be accompanied by Business Statistics (BU2240) (QRCO), the most logical choice for my quantitative reasoning requirement. Business statistics appeals to because I will be applying statistics with real life business situations and will gain real life experience from this course. Finally, Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies (IS2222) and Interdisciplinary Studies Senior Seminar (IS4420) will complete my major. Without these two courses I wouldn’t have a strong beginning or end to my degree in interdisciplinary studies.
I can’t say for certain what specific career will await me upon graduation, but I know how to get there. Creativity, working well with people and understanding business are the core concepts that allow my major to be professional yet versatile. There was no better way that I could have achieved this degree without the help of interdisciplinary studies. With this program, I’ve been able to step out of the fast-paced diploma mill that is the university system and into a tight, custom fit major. Within my Marketing and Creative Services major I have encompassed what I am most passionate about and it allowed me to have success in my vision.
I sat down with Terri Dautcher to discuss her work and her experience with an interdisciplinary background.
Terri’s focus with interdisciplinary work integrates her background in psychology and applies it to her career in marketing. Psychology and sociology have helped her by learning how to unpack how people think, feel and respond to a product or service. She’s mindful in the language that she uses to describe the people that she’s aiming to serve and taps into the fundamentals of what makes them tick. After telling Terri that I was interested in the field of marketing and creative services, she guided our conversation in a way that would help my understanding of the career. Terri has a dynamic background in humanitarian sciences with a concentration in psychology, anthropology and sociology. Over the course of 25 years she has been contracted to work with companies and organizations throughout the country before she pursued teaching.
When I asked about examples of interdisciplinary work she’s done in her field she stressed how important it is to understand people and find the fundamentals of what matter to them.
“When I was working at Psychic Source I would have the marketing department asking me, ‘do you like this’? It didn’t matter if I liked it, I wasn’t the one looking into their services. How do we get the people who are interested in what we’re offering to connect with us, to be able to transcend”? She questioned.
Terri added that promotion is only a tiny piece of marketing and that it’s equally important to build a connection with an individual. Understanding psychological and social aspects of an individual has allowed her to have great success in the field of marketing. When I asked what courses she might suggest to students outside of a traditional marketing major she believed that students should take classes that trigger creativity and truly prepare you for your career. Among those, she offered cultural anthropology, communications classes and accounting for non-accounting majors.
“Anyone can come up with ideas” she began. “You need to understand numbers so that you can create ideas that you can actually afford to do. You need to be sophisticated enough to understand how a company operates.”
Terri was thoughtful in her responses and gave realistic, meaningful advice.
I left the office after our interview with names of professors, courses and students who she had connected me with, knowing that they would help advance my studies. Beyond that, she gave me a list of Ted Talks to listen to help inspire my creativity. Upon listening to “Elizabeth Gilberts: Your elusive creative genius” a quote jumped out at me that related to what Terri had explained in our interview,
“But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished, with somebody else.”
Terri believes in networking to help encompass new people to new ideas and techniques, “that’s the beauty of interdisciplinary work” she exclaimed.