Colorado Creative Series: Lauren McKenzie

Colorado Creatives Series

In support of #AIGAatHome, we have launched the Colorado Creatives Series, an opportunity to celebrate and showcase local creatives in our area. Our Colorado Creatives will share a little about their creative process, some of their most worthwhile investments, current reading lists and more. Enjoy!


Lauren McKenzie


She, Her, Hers

Where can we find you?

  • Instagram: @rencreativ, @rencreativphoto
  • Facebook: @rencreativ, @rencreativphoto

How have you adapted your creative process during this time?

I’m almost always ready to roll with the punches and adapt to change but COVID-19 definitely did a number on my business and on my clients’ businesses in many ways, however I remain grateful that as a designer it’s relatively easy to WFH, but as an extroverted person I am having to fight hard to maintain my creative spirit; I miss my office and I miss hugs and people and face-to-face client meetings. I’m still creating, but I’m finishing way less projects.

What are you reading, listening to or watching right now?

I love the Personality Hackers Pod, Marketing Over Coffee Pod, Dolly Parton’s America Pod. I’m stilllllll forever reading “Run Studio Run” by Eli Altman (highly recommended for small studio business owners, beware though it’s a kick in the pants) and I recently started “Don’t call it that” by Eli Altman as well. I am the worst at finishing books, I read two chapters at a time out of so many books at once, sigh, ADD strikes again. 

What is one piece of advice you can offer to other designers right now?

Never ever stop learning, ever. Always adapt to change in our industry, try to adopt new and efficient methods, find yourself a mentor or two in your industry, and hire someone to do the work you hate; bookkeeping, project mgmt etc. Also, throw competition and ego out of the window for good, compete with yourself rather than others, learn to collaborate with your peers and seriously with the ego I MEAN IT, our work is rarely about us, it’s almost always about our clients or an end consumer. 

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Does getting fired from 3 jobs over my lifetime count as a failure or a success? I’d say both. LOL. I worked as an in-house designer for 7 years at several corporations and agencies before I started my full time design studio. I learned so much through those years, hard lessons for sure however I will say if there’s anything good that came out of those terrible experiences it’s that I really learned how I did NOT want to run a business. I learned a lot about myself and what values I stand for during those formative years, most importantly I learned how valuable relationships are; humans first, profit second. 

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

The most valuable and worthwhile investment to me and my business has been the lasting relationships I make with humans every single day. I would never be where I’m at in life if it weren’t for the wonderful humans I am fortunate to know, love and invest my time with. Thankfully as an extravert this is an easy task for me, but truthfully I believe that getting to know your service industry workers, your uber drivers, the stranger on the bus, retail clerks, your neighbors, is more valuable than anything else in life. Learn to listen to others, their stories, their hearts, their goals and ambitions, you’d be surprised at how far kindness and the “pay it forward” mindset will get you in life and in business. 

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I am a lifetime nail and cuticle chewer, but recently kicked the habit after investing in an amazing nail tech, who also happens to be a client and friend. I am ADDICTED to hot cheetos, I single handedly keep them in business I’m p sure; my favs are flamin’ hot puffs, puffcorn, and the flamin’ hot ones with lime. I have burned the lining of my stomach over the course of my life, almost positive. 

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Over communicating with my clients has helped me retain more ongoing work, I learned that one the hard way and have lost quite a few clients by simply not following up on projects often enough. I’m also slowly learning that I have a tendency to put off the simplest tasks, they are typically the ones that only take me 5 stupid minutes to finish. WHYYY am I like this? Just do them. Do it. Now. If you had the time to think about it, take 5 and do the dang thing. 

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

The verdict is still out on whether my ability to multitask is beneficial or detrimental to my focus and overall productivity. When I’m stuck on something or not vibing with a project, I switch gears to something else immediately, and I either a: come back to it later with a solution I came up with in my subconscious or b: totally forget I was working on it and then get anxiety when I realise later that I forgot about it. I also like to roll around on a foam roller or stare at my office ceiling tiles when I get overwhelmed, sometimes I cry – actually most of the time I cry. 

What are you currently working on?

GAH, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I managed to rally a superstar team of designers, agencies and change agents in my community, to (in a matter of days) create a county wide and city endorsed initiative called “Support the Springs” (@supportthesprings + www.supportthesprings.com) we rolled out a brand, website, social presence and merchandise campaign in 7 days, the intention is to spread positivity and support local small business during this time of pure turmoil and devastation. I am damn proud of all of us who made this thing happen; shoutout to Neon Pig Creative, Courtney Caldwell Design Co, Studio Q Events, Springs Native, Queen Leah Valentine, The Good Voice Group, and many others.


Headshot photo credit: Elan Photographie Studio

Other photos credit: REN Creativ


By AIGA Colorado
Published May 9, 2020
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