Day 48:
Shoco Queen back in business

Omaha, NE


Doublin’ up on interviews and today was just a whole lot of fun.

First coffee shop we hit up in Omaha was a snug, little space called Caffeine Dreams. Got to brush up on my (high school-level) German courtesy of some students sitting across from us.

After a couple hours of work, we made our way over to Grain & Mortar to interview JESSE HARDING! Despite being young, (literally, just turned 25) Jesse’s already got so much design + life experience under his belt. It was especially cool to hear how he was able to get to where he is now through a very untraditional path from schooling into the professional world. He’s got a deep interest and passion for history, (more specifically his family’s history) and it was great to hear and see how he’s combined those interests with design.

After the formal interview was over, Jesse gave us a brief tour + history lesson of the building/Grain & Mortar, which was super fun to explore (and also get some historical context for the overall space itself). Before leaving, he gave us a couple of coffee recommendations and spots to check out, and then we said our goodbyes.

A quick little caffeine + charge break at Howlin’ Hounds before our second interview with the wonderful, KELSEY JANDA, Team Lead + Product designer at Hudl and passionate painter. Kelsey was super welcoming and invited us in her home + painting space for the interview. She gave really thoughtful and honest answers, even as we broached personal topics, particularly with painting, and I really appreciated how open she was about everything. We also got to speak with our favorite TA for a little bit, Joe Sparano!!, which was super nice.  

Ate some dinner at IKA, and then stopped by Omaha’s finest, Hyvee’s where we finally, FINALLY found mini milk jugs after countless Whole Food’s/Health Food visits across the country. It was a happy time.

We check out of our airbnb tomorrow morning and after our last interview here, we set our sights to our FINAL STATE, Colorado. I’m sad we have such a short time here! I’m still trying to grasp the overall ~ v i b e s ~ of the Omaha, but I think more than anything, I like how I can't really find the words/feelings to describe it.




First one was with Jesse Harding who we met at Grain & Mortar, the studio he works at. Jesse is a designer there and really has been on quite the adventure himself. He decided school after high school was not the move for him and spent half a year in Alaska/making his way down to San Diego and the other half shadowing Eric at Grain & Mortar with a curiosity for design and technology. So there’s one passion for ya. Aside from design and the outdoors, Jesse’s big passion is history. In the past few years, he has (happily) sunk himself in the deep wormhole that is his family history. He can name his 7th great grandfather off the top of his head and has found crazy artifacts from his ancestors like pen-pal letters between one of his great grandfathers and Mark Twain (WTF). Not only does he do extensive research on this history, he also combines his passion for design with his passion for history and restores a lot of the information he finds through books, letters, and other goodies. It was so much fun listening to him nerd out about all of this, and makes me want to do the same for my own ancestors (safta, you’re getting a call soon).

Our next interview was with Kelsey Janda! Also a double-doer. During the day, she’s a senior product designer and team lead at Hudl and at night she’s a passionate painter. It was really inspiring to hear how painting (a fairly new endeavor) has changed the way she treats her life and the way it has positively affected both her work life and her as a person. She was super honest with every answer and really took her time to think before talking which I really appreciated, it definitely made the interview seem more personal. So thank you Kelsey :)

Mid interview, our Omahan man of the hour, Joe Sparano himself payed a visit. And even though we only got to see him for a short time today, it was really cool seeing Joe in his element. You can tell Omaha is a special place for him.

After parting from all our people, we headed to dinner. Yummy Ramen.

And then (GUYS!) we found it! "It" being tiny milk cartons!!! Which we had been looking for for maybe two weeks. Thank god.

Ended the night half watching Chicago sippin' on shoko.

Joe suggested we come to Omaha to talk to these people and boy am I glad we did. the interviews today were so amazing and felt so good and inspiring. Thank you Joe for the suggestion and thank you Jesse and Kelsey for your words. AMAZING.

- Dana

Where do donkeys live in Nebraska?


Ellloooo Omahaaaa!

Woke up grumpy. I’m sorry gals. But then we got coffee and I worked on my website (oh yah I turned in a real deal job app last night… late last night and I don’t know how I would ever get the job, but hey, a girls gotta try right? It’d be so cool…) and I researched for interviewing JESSE HARDING. Which we did shortly thereafter. He’s one cool dude with a really cool path. He has an approach to life that I think many of us could take a couple things from. I like it. I could definitely spend way more time talking to him, makes me wish we had more time in Omaha. Thanks Jesse. <3 But sadly, we had to skedaddle to charge up cameras before our second interview for the day, KELSEY JANDA. What a sweet sweet lady. So happy she’s found painting. It seems like it has added so much to her life professionally and personally. Really loved speaking to her as well. Thank you Kelsey. <3 We also got to see our good ol’ pal JOE! Sparano, the dude. I get that he’s from Omaha. Not sure why, but I get it. Then we grabbed Ramen for dinner, chatting and making faces long enough to see each table turn over about three times. Love these meal times with my babes.

Then something magical happened. WE FINALLY FOUND SMALL GLASS MILK JARS. No more plastic bullshit anddd that means I get to drink real quality schoco. Just magic.

Watched part of Chicago, showered, and tiny desk concerts on loop.

Again, too full of schoco. Feeling so good about our interviews today. Amazing people. But the end of this project is looming. My reaction is split between flea to the beach to surf and read in the sand or just stay and find a job in Omaha real quick (try to figure out this conundrum of a city- like what even are the vibes). I guess I just can’t admit this is the end, so I’ll just pretend it never happened? Not sure what kind of a reaction that is. Maybe I just need a break for reflection. And MOVEMENT, oh lordy do I feel restless x1000. But the bad reaction is a good sign for the success of this trip and project. I love it so much. Also applying to that job feels good. Really who knows if I’ll get it, but I know I’d do a great job (even if that means ID suffers a bit I think I’m finally cool with that) and holy moly I’d learn so much. So much good stuff in the direction I really think I want to go. But hey, all good things. I’m in a very good place. Well, minus the lack of woods and running.

- sam

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