Posts tagged veryniceLA
Meet Victoria: veryniceLA’s Volunteer in Residence

Hello! I’m so excited to be joining veryniceLA as the new Volunteer in Residence! As opposed to going through the first week interview wringer, I’m just gonna leave some fun facts below about what brought me to verynice!

verynice: I’ve been interested in working in a space where creativity meets social impact ever since I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2013 with a degree in Sociology. A friend of mine who works at The Downtown Women’s Center wrote a post about their collaboration with verynice and BOOM, my mind was blown. I’m really excited to be working with Renae in marketing and I can’t wait to learn more about the opportunities that the social enterprise field creates.

Social impact + Creativity: Throughout college I had the opportunity to coordinate and lead international service learning trips focused on a variety of social challenges ranging from women and girls issues, to international development, and food justice/sustainability. After graduating, I knew I wanted to be in a creative atmosphere where I could surround myself with likeminded people and inspire social change in my work.

Interests: I am an ENFJ personality type, I grew up on the east coast, and I love traveling. Favorite countries I’ve visited so far would be: Spain, Turkey, and New Zealand. I’m really into ramen right now. I enjoy making goofy greeting cards, doing yoga, watching improv comedy, and exploring all of LA’s hidden gems.

You can catch me writing and developing some new columns here on the blog as well as curating content for our Facebook page. I’ll also be working on some exciting side projects so keep an eye out! 

verynice + USGBC-LA Call for Artist Volunteers

The Background:

At the end of each year, USGBC-LA holds its largest fundraiser and social event—the Annual Green Gala—to celebrate a year of achievements in the local green building movement. USGBC-LA’s 10th Annual Green Gala will take place on November 13, 2014 at AVALON Hollywood. The gala will recognize the leaders in the green building industry with USGBC-LA’s 4th Annual Sustainable Innovation Awards  and will feature live cirque performances by SkyFire ( ) showcasing aerial acrobatics, fire dancing, gymnastics, stilt-walking, and performers wielding arcs of electricity from a 10’ tall Tesla Coil.

As part of this special celebration, USGBC-LA has enlisted verynice to select three (3) volunteer Los Angeles-based artists or art collaboratives to each design and construct a sculptural installation for exhibition on the evening of the Green Gala!



The chosen artists will create these sculptural installations by sourcing materials from Interior Removal Specialist, Inc. (“IRS, Inc.”), a full-service tenant improvement demolition company which has been a pioneer in recycling much of the deceptively toxic items and materials generated in commercial demolition jobs. IRS, Inc. finds a second life for many of the common furnishings, equipment and fixtures that are left behind in commercial properties slated for demolition or remodeling. IRS, Inc.’s warehouse—located approximately twenty minutes southeast of downtown Los Angeles—contains a treasure trove of salvaged materials and goods that it has generously opened up to us. These donated items will serve as the raw materials for artistic interpretation and inspiration. In addition, artists will each be provided with a small stipend to purchase outside materials (paints, hardware, etc) not found in the warehouse. All other time and labor costs of the artists will be on a volunteer basis. It is anticipated that future opportunities may exist for these completed sculptural pieces to be displayed in and around the Greater Los Angeles area after the Green Gala event.

The verynice team toured IRS, Inc.’s warehouse in September and took snapshots of its vast contents []. As the warehouse’s inventory regularly changes, the items pictured are not guaranteed to be available when the selected artists visit for materials-gathering, but they are representative of the types and kinds of pieces one may expect to find: doors, door frames, glass, wood, wires, electronic waste, lamps, chairs, tiles, pipes, fixtures, cabinets, desks, and an array of unique one-offs.



The Prompt:

Millions of square feet of offices, schools, conference rooms, lobbies, and more are demolished each year in Los Angeles. IRS, Inc.’s warehouse is piled high with items destined to otherwise become buried in a rubbish heap had they not been "rescued" for reuse. In collaboration with the USGBC-LA, verynice is interested in exploring how artists can take advantage of the trace that these buildings leave behind in order to invent something completely new. Using remnants of past spaces that sit on the threshold of beauty and decay, we invite our community to help us create a series of three sculptural artifacts that present a narrative of resurrection and sustainability. What might future archeologists make of our 20th/21st century civilization when they unearth our forgotten landfills and fallen buildings, and what stories or narratives might the warehouse pieces be repurposed to tell? How can these sculptures serve as a message to our future selves about collaboration, sustainability, and reusability through modern waste?



Interested in becoming an artist volunteer? Click here for more project details and application instructions!

Civic Innovation is verynice.

Civic innovation IS verynice, and here's why: verynice has constantly been evolving its definition of "local" since its inception. Starting with our Los Angeles office, verynice is making it a priority to dedicate greater capacity to helping innovate and design for our local communities.

That's why we were thrilled to partner with the City of Los Angeles' Controllers Office to craft a brand new position that aims to blend design thinking and civic innovation to solve some of the city's greatest problems: The Civic Innovation Fellowship (Interested? Apply here!). The position is a natural evolution of our Entrepreneur In Residence program— and it essentially carves out an entirely new role for designers in government. 

We believe our focus on civic innovation is crucial to our future as both a company that enacts change in the world and as individual citizens. To explain exactly what we mean, we sat down with our founder, Matt Manos, for a quick interview on verynice's approach to civic innovation. Check it out!

Hey, Matt!

Why is it important for citizens to participate in civic innovation? (Phrased another way: why can't the government just do it?)

Innovation in the public sector has to be a collaborative effort, and the participation of local citizens is a crucial endeavor. Marshall McLuhan is famous for saying 'We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish.' I've always personally interpreted this to paint a picture of the idea that sometimes when we are too close to something, we can miss the most obvious solutions and ideas. The same goes for government— innovation cannot just come from within.


What do designers have to contribute to civic innovation?

Marketing and design is shifting significantly, and the role of designers, right now, is drastically different than it was during the days of Mad Men. We are entering a future in which everything around us, from the sidewalks we walk on, to the cities we live in, to the hats on our heads, can be mediums for communication and engagement. Because of this reality, designers have truly evolved beyond the role of the "facade maker" into the role of the facilitator. This makes them an ideal contributor to civic innovation.


Can you explain a bit more about "design thinking" and how that intersects with civic innovation? 

In Design Thinking, empathy is at the core of the design process— it is the first step in understanding what the end user might need by being able to get hands-on experience understanding their problems and “pain points.” Empathy, as opposed to sympathy, is a way for us to develop our understanding by sharing an experience. This is a significant tool to leverage in the public sector as it doesn't assume what the public needs, but instead works with the community to create an innovative solution. 


Why is civic innovation a priority for verynice? 

As verynice has grown over the years, the concept of what is "local" has changed for us dramatically. At the beginning of this year, we made it a priority for the Los Angeles office to increase focus and bandwidth around local causes and innovation in the public sector. This is a crucial cause in defining the future of verynice as it relates to our immediate state(s), city(ies), and community(ies).


Stay tuned for more about verynice civic innovation efforts. In the mean time, we're welcoming applications for the Civic Innovation Fellowship through October 1. Click here to apply

A Two-Week Sprint (UX-Style) with SILVERWING

When we say, sprint, we're not talking about a half marathon. Instead, this is a two-week process in which verynice works with a client to develop and test a concept for a digital product. For this sprint, we worked with SILVERWING— a sleek and innovative online service for reserving jets that aims to disrupt the private jet industry model. 

Over an intensive two-week sprint, verynice worked with SILVERWING to create a comprehensive UX design and product development strategy for their startup. From pencil sketches to a room full of whiteboard insanity to a streamlined set of clickable prototypes, every move was measured and calculated through a series of user studies that introduced the product to a curated group of individuals for feedback to inspire a series of product iterations.

Some say this process is too intense and should be done over a longer period of time— but we live for this kind of thing at verynice. After all was said and done, we were curious to see if the creators of SILVERWING share our love for our unique product development format. So, we asked CEO Devyn Silverstein to give us some some info on the SILVERWING brand and tell us what he thought of the process. 

Hi, Devyn! Tell us a little about SILVERWING. How is it different from traditional private jet services?
SILVERWING is putting together an online marketplace to charter private jets, the likes of which currently do not exist. Anyone can go online and use Priceline,, etc. to book an airline ticket, but the current booking process for a private plane is complicated and inconvenient. Currently the charter industry is run by brokers, and very little is done online. We're aiming to pioneer a platform that users will love, which will also benefit aircraft operators, and create a winning brand for the private jet charter market. 

What's your favorite part of the two-week UX intensive process? 
I love to build things and see how they are made. That said, I have never seen the inner-workings of a website, nor have I seen one get designed from the ground up. It was fascinating to see that something as technical and futuristic as a website, still begins with pen & paper. 

What finding from the intensive was the most surprising?
General arrangement and layout changes, mostly. As someone who considers himself to be visually inclined, it was surprising to see some of the suggested design changes that happened during the user testing rounds. 

So… what's next for SILVERWING? 
Next for SILVERWING is the design phase, where the verynice team will really work their magic. I'll be posting progress on my Instagram,  @MrSILVERWING.  The future for SILVERWING is bright. Check us out in a few months at 


We'll keep you posted with future SILVERWING updates— including the launch of their site. Whether you're a private jet user (we wish!) or just someone who appreciates a sleek-looking site, you'll dig it either way.

#checkyourselfie Shoot: Behind the Scenes

We're so excited to be working with our friends at Keep A Breast! If you're not familiar, KAB is a nonprofit that aims to support those impacted by cancer and educate young people about health, prevention, and early detection— all through progressive art and a culture of activism and creative energy. Yes, they're awesome. Plus their name is too clever, right?

As part of the #checkyourselfie campaign we're arranging for KAB, we get to collaborate with our friends at filmanthropos, a fellow givehalf company (check out some of their amazing films here), to produce a video about incorporating self-check exams into your daily routine.

Jessica, superstar intern at veryniceLA, is on set all day today— and she's joining the production crew in multiple set changes from Runyon Canyon to Venice Beach to Downtown LA. (Angelinos, get ready to recognize a lot of your favorites in this video!) 


Jessica's been on set since 5:45am (yikes!) and sending behind the scenes pics all day. Yes, a lot of them include actors taking selfies. What do you expect with a campaign called #checkyourselfie? :) 

The video launches this fall— stay tuned! 

Welcome (back) to veryniceLA, Noah!

Remember our Volunteer in Residence (and creator of our amazing Space Slam workshop), Noah Goldberg-Jaffe? Well, he’s officially back on the team! As a Volunteer in Residence, Noah worked on business and marketing strategy, workshop design and facilitation, and account management. This time, he’ll still be managing accounts— as our Junior Accounts Manager!

Even though he’s not technically new to verynice, we still put Noah through the obligatory first day interview. We got his thoughts on everything from making a global impact to LA’s lack of trees. Check it out! 

Hey, Noah! Welcome (back) to the team! Can you tell us how your role here at verynice has evolved?

My role at verynice is evolving into a position where I now have more opportunities to work with the whole office. I am excited to continue to learn from all the passionate and talented members of the verynice team as we continue to simultaneously grow and make a positive global impact!


Speaking of making a global impact, why is it important for both the corporate and nonprofit spaces to have a social conscience? 

For-profit and nonprofit businesses alike must have a social conscience because the world isn't going to change itself. I believe that humans are inherently good, but in order for the average person to make a sustaining impact, it must be incorporated into his or her daily life.  Integrating social awareness into the business world will help to create the systemic impact this world needs.


You've done some awesome work abroad! Tell us about your research in Lesotho! 

 I was lucky enough to apply and receive a fellowship through my alma mater, Occidental College, to travel to and conduct research in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. I conducted an independent qualitative study on the cultural and vocational efficacy of the educational model of a small independent learning center there in Maseru.  The center, called Seliba Sa Boithuto ("SSB"), or fountain of learning in the native tongue of Sesotho. Because of the overall positivity I found in the responses of the former learners, SSB was able to use my report as a tool to prove their worth to potential international donors.


Awesome. Aside from your focus on enacting change, anything else we should know?

I love to read, run, and adventure outside. I grew up in a small town in the woods in New Hampshire, and I still mistake LA's big buildings for trees sometimes (just kidding, but really where are all the trees?!)


Thanks, Noah! 


Stay tuned for more from veryniceLA and updates on Noah’s gradual acclimation to the urban landscape here in Los Angeles. 

verynice Presents: Space Slam 2014

Humans in Space Art (HISA) is a NASA affiliated nonprofit organization with a passion for making discussions about space available for all.  They conduct global art competitions in high schools that prompt children to engage with the topic of human space exploration. High school aged children had been the only participants of these competitions until this point when HISA wanted to expand to a new demographic.  HISA approached verynice to usher them through this transition period. Our process consisted of three phases of research, analysis, and testing on behalf of HISA.

The first was a marketing audit of their current business model in order to find the gaps and opportunities for further development. This project also consisted of an analysis of current trends and strategies being leveraged by organizations and initiatives that follow a scope similar to HISA’s. We then conducted primary research around HISA’s business model as well as the needs and desires of the new demographic. We found that the demographic was overwhelmingly competitive, excited about space, and ready to learn more.  They were not all interested in winning a prize, but rather going on a journey and having new experiences. We synthesized all our gathered information into a series of recommendations for HISA’s growth.  


Next we wanted to test our findings, so we thought, why not just do it ourselves! The goal of the workshop was to gauge the truth behind our recommendations for HISA’s expansion into the millennial demographic. We wanted to ensure the broad applicability of our workshop, so we approached professionals from a variety of industries.  We had ten participants for the final workshop ranging from the education, nonprofit, editorial, design, fine art, retail, government, marketing/analysis and engineering sectors. 


We made sure that the participants showed up excited but not entirely sure what they were getting into in order to gauge each person’s initial reaction to the concepts dear to the HISA mission. Our eclectic group or right-brainers and left-brainers latched immediately onto the ideas we presented and became excited about using art to begin this space themed dialogue.

The workshop was broken up into three phases with varying levels of explicit connection to the HISA platform.  We began by asking each participant to create a “hangable” star using colored paper, tape, and scissors which we hung in the conference room to use as a tool for each participant to introduce him/herself.  Everybody immediately set to work using his unique take on outer-space to show the group how they imagined stars look.  This shows us the power of creativity and why creative engagement with space is so important for this demographic.


The second phase was more intensive than the first.  We paired up the participants and instructed them to “draw their partner in space.”  Again, as we expected, we were met with a deep excitement for the topics and a creative array of responses to the question we posed.


The first two phases proved to be more of an icebreaker than the third and final phase of the workshop, which was much closer to HISA’s model.  In this phase, we presented an incentive (a prize of free dinner at a local restaurant) as well as complete creative freedom in order to answer the questions.  Here, we really wanted to prod the participants to really think about the ways that space has and will affect humans. We asked these three questions and let each group member choose which question they wanted to answer through collaboration. Here are the questions:

  • Technology—Show what humans will use science and technology to do in Space!

  • Future—Show what space will teach us about making your community a better place.

  • Fiction—What we haven’t found yet: Show what new things space travel and exploration will uncover!


By the end of the workshop, it became clear that our research had not failed us, and that our recommendations held true. The participants were engaged and excited about the material throughout the course of the activities. They even made clear in our post-workshop brainstorm session that they were ready to further engage in the space related discussions and activities.  The “right-brainers” and the “left-brainers” had different conceptions of what space meant to them, and all creatively approached the topics in different ways.  Their differences were exciting, but their shared interests were the most exciting of all. They all fit the sample demographic personas we envisioned and proved to us that HISA is ready to move forward on the trajectory they hope to pursue!

Welcome to veryniceLA, Josiah!

The verynice team is expanding! We just welcomed our newest member, Josiah Pak— Junior Designer, to the veryniceLA office. We sat down for coffee on Josiah's first day, and he shared everything from his thoughts about design and social change to his prediction for the next big food trend. See below for Josiah's full interview and join us in giving him a verynice welcome!   

Hi, Josiah! Tell us about your new role here at verynice. 

El Júnior Designer

I’ve been very privileged to grow up with parents who positively stress the importance of giving back to society by helping others. So I ventured into the world of design to hopefully one day make some sort of impact to some sort of community in our society. I’m absolutely ecstatic to join the verynice team because I feel they do exactly that. Though 50% of the work we do here is pro-bono, I feel like 100% of the heart and effort lie in the general desire to make an impact in our community. So I’m equally thankful and optimistic about being part of this team. 

Beware of El Júnior Designer.

Sweet. We'll make sure to put El Júnior Designer as the title on your new business cards. So, the desire to enact social change absolutely informs our work here at verynice. Can you tell us your thoughts on how design, specifically, can impact the community? 

Design is a language understood by many, therefore allowing it to reach many. And honestly, I’d rather look, experience, and learn from good design than anything else. So I believe that design is definitely needed to enact change because we need a form of communication that not only reaches many, but also stirs interest. Plus, it’s really nice to look at.

Wow, so your last design gig was with Whole Foods. Would you call yourself a big foodie? 

I don’t think I have enough dough in the bank to consider myself a foodie— being a foodie is quite expensive! However, I do consider myself to be an adventurous eater— there is nothing that stops me from trying out new foods. Just a few weeks ago, a fellow Angelino introduced me to Boat noodles, a Thai beef noodle soup made with cow blood. I know what you’re thinking. That sounds weird, Josiah. But let me tell you, Boat noodles will be the new Pho.

Follow-up question: any LA favorites (food-wise) to share?

There are so many! But I’m going to cheat and say: Boat noodles from Sapp Coffee Shop off of Hollywood and Kingsley in Thai Town. Like many dingy hole-in-the-walls, they’re cash only! They also have a killer Thai tea— the perfect gradient of orange to cream.


Okay, we're definitely going to Sapp Coffee Shop ASAP. Anything else we should know about you? Something quirky? 

Hmm. My right wrist bends slightly less than my left wrist? I once lost most of my front teeth leaving me with a set of killer grills. I don’t know— I guess you’ll have to learn for yourself.


Thanks, Josiah! 

Stay tuned for more updates about Josiah, the verynice design team, and a full review of Thai Boat noodles.