Downtown Women’s Center

Three years of design and strategy to benefit women in Skid Row.

Design Strategy
Digital Product Design
Visual Communication

The Downtown Women’s Center has long been an organization that we are impressed and inspired by. Located in the heart of Skid Row, DWC works hard and diligently to support the women who call the area home by providing housing, health care, day shelter, food, jobs and community. Over the last 4 years, we have worked closely to develop a wonderful relationship with the Downtown Women’s Center resulting in a wide-range of projects including annual reports, web design, photography, workshop facilitation, illustration, and more.

Brand Expansion

Who are you? Consider that many people looking at your materials are new to your organization. They may have some understanding of what you do, they may understand how you do it, but it is the function of a brand to ultimately articulate why you do it. This goes a lot further than having a logo, or visual consistency.

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verynice are much more than a design agency—they have been critical collaborators in our communications strategy. We’ve partnered with them on such a wide range of projects—digital and print design, illustration, website development, photography, and workshop facilitation—and their work is consistently of the highest quality and always pushes forward our brand and mission. We cannot recommend them highly enough!

Ann-Sophie Morrissette

Director of Communications
and Policy

The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) had just rebranded their organization and although they had a toolkit with a new logo, and colors, the annual reports we designed for them expanded on how those elements could really come together and come to life to represent DWC’s welcoming and inspirational experience. Bold color blocks, a strong grid, and full bleed photos of real DWC beneficiaries created vivid reports, gave insight into the the organization’s impact, and established a system for the brand that could be recognized over time to cultivate the trust necessary for donors and advocates to participate.

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With these principles and expanded toolkit in mind, we were able to create an identity for their Annual Gala that stayed on brand while creating a special experience for this formal event. An elegant script was incorporated for event titles to complement the existing brand fonts. The DWC yellow was used as the primary color for the event and the bold DWC red was harnessed in the design of a dimensional flower, each petal representing a year of accomplishment for the organization. These, along with a few other detailed elements created a system that the organization will leverage for years to come. In 2016, this amazing effort raised a record 1.2 million dollars.

Infographics & Data Visualization

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small nonprofit organization, having control of your voice across the way you communicate data, stories, and develop marketing collateral can give your audience a sense of who you are and why they should support you.

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For the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition, we had the pleasure of joining volunteers to take surveys of Skid Row’s female homeless community before designing the Needs Assessment reports. This unforgettable experience highlighted the importance of humanizing the data to tell the story of these women. Hand painted watercolor patterns are used to tie in the old with the new, soften the bold text and convey movement, change, femininity and imperfection. There are no rules that say your data can’t be hand painted! Utilizing this familiar visual language creates an emotion and the more emotion your designs have the more memorable they are for your viewer.

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Following the rebrand of DWC, the 2016 Needs Assessment Report replicated the same format as the previous design to create consistency as a publication, but with a new illustrated look. We created custom illustrations for as much of the data as possible. These illustrations allowed the readers to not just see the numbers, but understand the tone and significance of the insights through the lense of the real people affected.

Visual symbols and illustrations are evocative, they able to convey a message or feeling without words and therefore communicate quickly and to people that speak different languages or think differently. Replacing complex language with a more universal one will allow your data to reach and be understood by more people. 

The Needs Assessment reports have reached an incredible audience with features from Los Angeles Times, La Opinión, KPCC Radio, LAist, and more.

Leveraging the Power of Collaboration

As a team of passionate individuals, we attract a wide variety of talented professionals looking to use our platform to create positive impact, gain valuable experience, and collaborate on good work. Our network of over 500 volunteers and contractors allows us to amplify the volume and variety of our impact. Among these is the work we’ve done for MADE by DWC, a social enterprise created by DWC to break the cycles of chronic homelessness and unemployment. By empowering women to discover talents and develop skills through vocational opportunities, MADE by DWC generates economic and social capital to support programs at DWC and create opportunities for women to overcome barriers to employment.

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We worked with Made by DWC in order to design a comprehensive user experience for their first-ever eCommerce website. For development we worked with our friends at Goji Labs who donated a portion of their service pro-bono to this initiative.

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In an effort to promote their boutique resale store for the holidays, we worked on a Fall/Winter lookbook inspired by the DIY aesthetic of the MADE by DWC brand along with quotes collected from MADE beneficiaries and staff. verynice art-directed, interviewed, photographed, edited, and produced the lookbook images with the help of our volunteer hair and makeup artists, Esther Bae and Esther Suh, volunteer photographer, Latoya Hawthorne, and MADE stylist, Calico Cooper.

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After surveying the signage at MADE retail and cafe locations, our objective was to communicate a clear connection between the MADE consumer, product, and cause while refining the MADE brand. Photography of real MADE employees at work and an emotional brush-script speak to the MADE products as well as the larger picture of impact that the organization has on women experiencing homelessness. 

Over the course of this working relationship with DWC, we’ve seen the value in creating designs that not only speak to the organization’s identity and mission but also capture the spirit of the individuals working behind the brand firsthand. Real impact beings with a strong sense of self within an organization. Our team has seen this realized within DWC throughout the development of these projects and consistency of the brand. We’re excited to continue supporting DWC as they grow and utilize these assets to energize passionate and informed audiences throughout Los Angeles.

Credits

Creative Direction:
Matthew Manos

Art Direction:
Kate Manos, Alisa Olinova

Design & Illustration:
Alisa Olinova, Olivia Sy, Kate Manos, Kathryn Izquierdo-Gallegos, Jesus Jacobo, Carolina Ibarra-Mendoza, Jessica Lin, Josiah Pak

Photography:
Kate Manos, Renae Getlin, Latoya Hawthorne

Project Management:
Kate Manos, Noah Goldberg-Jaffe, Florencia Di Sarli

Development:
Goji Labs

Hair & Makeup:
Esther Suh, Esther Bae

Stylist:
Calico Cooper


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