I had been traveling quite a bit for a few months at this point, back to back, with little breaks in between. I had just made it back into LA only to stay a few days before taking a red eye to New Orleans for Christmas break. I had been working around the clock and was utterly burnt out, but despite my tired eyes, I gathered myself together for a dinner that my sister had arranged. It was a meeting with a designer that she was convinced I needed to help me with COH°.
I was drowning in article ideas, content creation, and company expansion prospects. I had a vision and lots of dreams, but I was a one woman show... an exhausted one at that. But, here I was sitting across from this talented young creative, Macie Menard. Even with my brain working at half capacity, it was easy to see that she was bright, smart, and a hard worker. Also, she had a calming spirit about her which was a great yin to my crazy yang.
There was never a lull in the conversation. We hit it off. We had a lot in common in terms of interests, design aesthetic, and website ideas. And, most importantly, she loved food. We spent at least an hour just discussing our favorite foods and restaurants. That was all I needed to know. She was my kind of people. I was thoroughly impressed with her. My sister had been right. Macie was my girl.
I offered her a job and a trip to Los Angeles the following month. I knew I would know everything I needed to know about her if I traveled with her. And, of course, for better or for worse, she would learn a lot about me and how I work and travel. Soooo, we set out on a weekend adventure together and did everything from mountain hikes to greenhouse exploring in the desert. Needless to say, the road trip was a blast, and we have continued to work together for the past 7 months since.
I have come to discover that not only is Macie an incredible designer and a brilliant talent, but she is also a constant source of light in my life. Every Monday, without fail, we send each other long emails that we now affectionately call our "Coffee Chats." We basically both rant about life, the past weekend, ideas for the website, or random things that are inspiring us. I have come to look forward to those emails and to our weekly Skype chats about design and content creation.
Most of the graphics on this website are ideas that we both collaborate on together. Then, Macie makes them all magically come to life. Aside from graphic designing, she has also developed article ideas like our upcoming "Beauty Buys" article, and she has helped me in countless other ways to grow COH°. I have never thought of her as an employee. In my mind, she is a colleague and a friend that I work with on this vision we have come to define together.
Suffice to say, I was completely delighted to sit down and chat with her about our deep love for Los Angeles, working together at COH°, and, of course, our adventure weekend last February. Exploring California and visiting the Cactarium together was the pinnacle of everything we have come to stand for at COH°... "road trips, girl chats, and a damn good plant photo." Yep, I just found my life's mantra. I'm going to need that on a t-shirt ASAP. Anyway, read more from us below!
Here is my interview with Macie Menard on her thoughts about LA culture, California adventures, and, of course, the Cactarium:
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I'm a self-taught graphic designer living in Louisiana. I'm married to my best friend/favorite travel buddy, and we have an English Bulldog named Ivy...who eats EVERYTHING.
How did you end up in California?
Well, it didn’t take much convincing. I had just recently joined the COH° team, so I made the trip out to LA in order to get to know my new boss a little more...well a lot more haha!
Girl, we got to know each really well within the first 20 mins of you being in LA. It is a hilarious story, but, we will keep it just between us for now! (lol)
Yeah, it was definitely an ice breaker!
So, I can't remember, had you been to Cali before?
Oh yes. I was there almost 2 years ago, but this visit made me emotional. When I flew into Los Angeles the sun was setting and the sky was pink. I literally shed a tear and thought: 'I would move here in a heartbeat. It feels like home.'
I feel that every time I land. I completely understand. It is such a weird, quirky city, but for whatever reason, it’s the place I feel the most at home or the most myself rather. You know my vote on you moving.
Yes, I know! It's more than a feeling (unintentional Journey reference about my journey to LA). For lack of a better word, LA is so inspiring. I love the city. Most people are disenchanted with the noise, traffic jams, and overpopulation, but I can totally look past all that. I like being in the mix of it all, but still being invisible in the crowds and in my own little world.
Honestly, that is my favorite part too. Nothing makes me happier than going to the grocery store and no one knows who I am. That anonymity is something I have come to love. What else is it about LA that really just sprinkles your donuts?
I also like that if you need a get away or want a change of scenery, it's just a drive and/or hike away. I still can't believe that the first morning in LA, I was hiking a mountain. In the afternoon, I was walking on a beach. The very next day we were snow tubing up in the mountains, and by that night we were in the desert and on the outskirts of Palm Springs. Mind. Blown.
Yeah, I definitely kept you on-the-go. You got a true 'Kristi Bailey - COH° experience'!
And, I loved every minute of it!
So, speaking of Palm Springs.... let's chat about the Cactarium!
OH! It was like walking in a desert version of Alice in Wonderland!
That's a great way to describe it actually. I love that. It was such a wonderfully weird place.
Oh yes. I was in heaven. Shoutout and a huge “thank you!” to the amazing Anna Gumpert for finding this place. There were cacti and succulents everywhere.
Some people might say that it was plantastic.
Yes, some people who love dad jokes. (I'm sure most dad's wouldn't miss the opportunity to say plantastic. #CactusJokesOnPoint) Oh, that reminds me, I love that within our first 24 hours together, we spent time planting succulents on your rooftop patio. It was my kind of bonding experience!
We planted so many plants that afternoon. And, I’ve only managed to kill half of them so thats a big win for me. I’m sad I lost the others. It really succs... see what I did there ;) Don't worry. I've got plenty more where that came from. Anyway, it was nice to share my succulent obsession with someone with an equal or possibly greater obsession.
My obsession actually started at a young age. My great-grandmother had a gigantic pot of Echeveria. I had never seen a plant like it before. I sat there in awe as she cracked open a petal to show me it’s jelly-like filling and shared with me the perks of it’s low-maintenance and reproducing nature. It was then that I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a plant lady.
I actually lost you a few times in the gardens. You were totally in your element.
I really loved it there. When we got to the end of our journey through the cacti forest, there was a nursery with a selection of plants for sale. Of course, I had to get plants to go! The owner and his wife were there to give us the history of his father’s garden. They also assured me that my mini plants were allowed on the plane. (Travel tip: Plants are allowed to fly out of California, but not in.)
Yes, you can take anything on a plane out of Cali, but you can't bring things into the state. It functions as its own country in that way. Once, I saw a woman carry a whole, raw Trader Joes turkey on a plane out of LA so I'm thinking a succulent is definitely allowed. Anyway, were you nervous about taking the plants in flight?
I was still a nervous wreck, and I did not want to get my plants taken away from me, so I wrapped them up and hid them in my laptop bag for the whole flight. They made it home, and I still have one healthy cactus to start my future cactarium.
OMG! Please start one!!! That would be both hilarious and amazing. Anyway, thank you for chatting with me! I’m so glad you “pricked” to be a part of the COH° team. It feels great to go from a 'cacti to a cactus.'
Honestly, ‘aloe’ working with you. Let’s stick together.
I do wish you lived here. Everything succs without you.
I will never desert you.
Wow. We are such succas' for plant puns! Macie, thank you so much for taking the time to chat about our experience at the Cactarium. I know we both loved it. Let's start planning our next adventure! I'm thinking passport this time! COH° gotta get those stamps!