Strands of Genius: Awe Makes You Feel Better, Uncle Nearest Distillery and Expansion, The Rise of "Third Workplaces"

plus our thoughts on: hair color & self-expression

WRITING FROM | Los Angeles, CA (Ashley)
WORKING ON | UWEBC Annual Conference
LOOKING AHEAD | Barcelona, Spain :: Sept 30-Oct 6 | United Kingdom :: Oct 6-Nov 2 | Miami, FL :: Nov 2-4 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico :: Nov 4-9 | Tulum, Mexico :: Nov 9-17 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico :: Nov 17-22 | Nashville, TN :: Nov 30-Dec 2 | Beersheba Springs, TN :: Dec 2-18 | Atlanta, GA :: Dec 18-20 | Nashville, TN :: Dec 20-30


I’ve just returned to Los Angeles after a 10 day stint in Atlanta for a wedding for a friend. I didn’t know many people besides the bride&groom, the maid of honor&her family, and some friends of the bride’s mom (parents of people I knew growing up). Weddings are always a fun intersection of all the phases of someone’s life, and this was no exception. The bride and I have been friends since elementary school and have ridden the high and lows of life together - a sort of we’ve made it through all this shit together, you’re stuck with me kind of friend. The maid of honor is also a childhood friend and pretty much everyone else there our age is from the bride&groom’s college and post-college life. This wedding was supposed to take place spring/summer 2020, but the world had other plans, so it was especially exciting to see it come together after being postponed on multiple occasions. With all that we’ve all been through over the last 18 months, it was nice to see and experience some joy again!

This week, we’re especially thankful for:

Melanie, Zach, Craig&Justin, Emma&Cam, Bailie&Drew, meeting new people and seeing familiar faces, vaccines, exploring new eats of Atlanta, walks in Piedmont park and along the beltline, the Dekalb Farmer’s market, Untold (a sports docuseries on Netflix, Sex Education (a tv series on Netflix), and the warm weather that always welcomes me back to SoCal.


  • As we begin to move past the pandemic but hold onto remote work, we're seeing the rise of "third workplaces" — teleworking spots in cafes, hotels or co-working spaces. Recent survey data from CBRE says about 65% of companies want to have a hybrid office after the pandemic. "But hybrid work is not a binary choice between home or the office," says CBRE's Julie Whelan. "As the majority of large companies are hybrid-focused, these third places are going to be a huge part of work."

    Working from home or the office can be full of distractions which explains the desire for alternative work environments. (Axios)

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I recently recolored my hair (purple), which means I’m carrying a towel around with me to put on my pillow at night so I don’t stain the sheets. It means I’m wearing darker colored shirts until the extra color no longer ends up on the back of my shirt. And while I absolutely love the purple, some of those extra precautions can be more time consuming than I may like. But the purple has become a self-branding of sorts.

I played sports my whole life, so I rarely wore jewelry or makeup. My hair became my accessory, my form of self-expression. My mom started coloring it when I was in middle school (she still colors it today ;)), and I’ve had every color on the spectrum, quite literally.

As self-expression is becoming more widely encouraged and acknowledged (and less taboo to have tattoos and different lipstick shades), it’s no wonder the beauty industry is valued at $511B worldwide and creating billionaires in Rihanna and Kylie Jenner. The stats and news around this industry has always fascinated me, but I’ve never spent much time exploring the industry’s history and evolution.

I decided to dive into the history of hair color specifically, since that’s the space that I most closely connect to you in the beauty industry. Y’all! Color goes back to the Egyptian civilization in 1500 BC. I mean it’s no surprise given everything else they established. They would use henna (which comes from the plant Lawsonia inermis) to hide grey hairs. Many others used other plants to create dye, even finding that some plants were more toxic than others.

During the Roman Empire, prostitutes were required to have yellow hair to indicate their profession. Many wore wigs, but some used a mixture made from the ashes of burned plants or nuts to achieve the color. Meanwhile, other ancient civilizations were dyeing their hair a variety of vibrant colors to show their rank and as a means of intimidating opponents on the battlefield. So, you can see, hair color has long been a form of identity.

It wasn’t until the 1800s when the idea of chemicals became synonymous with hair color.

In an attempt to generate a cure for malaria, English chemist William Henry Perkin created the first synthesized dye in 1863. “The color was mauve and appropriately named Mauveine. Soon after, his chemistry professor August Hoffman derived a color-changing molecule from Mauveine (called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD), and it remains the foundation for most permanent hair dyes today.”

And in the years since then there’s obviously been an ongoing process to create dyes that are less damaging. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and trying out different products, most recently using iroiro because it’s 100% vegan and free of harsh chemicals which is something that is important to me - finding a brand that gives me the look I want but with values I value.

I can’t help but wonder what the personal brands of Billie Eilish, Christina Aguilera, P!nk, and so many others would be if it wasn’t for hair dye. Or maybe more specifically, myself, Rosie & Faris (we often coin ourselves the hair branding team).

So, in circling back to this idea of self-expression and encouraging it, it feels like that idea in and of itself is starting to become an identifier for many companies and brands. Or perhaps a way of incentivizing you to bring your whole self to work.


Food halls have become the popular thing in Atlanta. This one called The Works has literally every kind of food you could ever want - Vietnamese, BBQ, Ramen, Mexican, Cotton Candy, etc.

If we can ever be of help to you, even outside of a formal engagement, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

faris & rosie & ashley | your friends over at

@faris is always tweeting
@rosieyakob hangs out on instagram
@ashley also writes for deaf, tattooed & employed

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It's called Genius Steals because we believe ideas are new combinations and that nothing can come from nothingBut copying is lazy. We believe the best way to innovate is to look at the best of that which came before and combine those elements into new solutions.

Co-Founders Faris & Rosie are award-winning strategists and creative directors, writers, consultants and public speakers who have been living on the road/runway since March 2013, working with companies all over the world. Our Director of Operations is nomadic like us, our accounting team is based out of Washington, our company is registered in Tennessee, and our collaborators are all over the world. Being nomadic allows us to go wherever clients need us to be, and to be inspired by the world in between.

Hit reply and let’s talk about how we might be able to work together :)