Chaos and Control: Building Friendships at Oneupweb
Since Halloween 2009, they’ve been inseparable. Jess Gordon-Beach and Nicole Emenhiser are two designers at Oneupweb with a history they say is categorized not by years, but by where the Oneupweb office was located. There were the “old building” upstairs years with the previous owner Lisa… the “old building” downstairs years with Fernando, the current owner… the new building years…. Jess got her job as a graphic designer at Oneupweb in 2011 and Nicole followed a month later, placing them in the “old building” upstairs.
They met at Ferris State University, where they went through the graphic design program as casual acquaintances, until they became best friends in their junior year.
Nic is high-energy, opinionated, and expressive.
Jess is reserved, a thinker, and always smiling.
Chaos and control.
“There’s No Jess without Nicole”
Although their friendship began before they started their positions at Oneupweb, Jess and Nicole had the opportunity to grow their relationship while working together.
When they both worked in the office it was common to see Jess and Nic taking long walks on their lunch breaks or sitting in silence doodling together in a conference room.
There was even a brief moment when the pair didn’t both work at Oneupweb, but they still found ways to stay in touch during the work day using Spotify’s chat function (which no longer exists.)
Outside of work they made time for “family dinner” at least once a week (which turned virtual during the pandemic), when they’d share roses and thorns.
Now Nicole works mostly remote from her new home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but not much can shake a 12-year friendship, which has made them more like sisters than friends.
Growing Design Skills Together
As designers fresh from college, the pair had to navigate learning and growing while maintaining their friendship.
“When we first started, there was one other designer for a while but then it was just the two of us, brand new designers,” Jess said. “And we had to help and critique each other. It was hard because we were trained to receive critique but not from each other. So, I started adding calling her ‘buddy’, so she’d remember that we’re still friends and it’s not personal.”
“And she still does that exact thing to this day,” Nicole laughed.
Even outside of the office, they look to each other for inspiration and support with design projects.
Jess designed her own wedding invitations and Nicole, acting as maid of honor / art director, helped every step of the way.
“We’ve always reviewed each other’s stuff,” Nicole said.
Special Place, Special Connection
Jess and Nicole agree their balance between work and friendship might not be the same at another agency. They praise the Oneupweb design team’s collaborative nature.
“I think we just foster reaching out, and asking for help, and asking for inspiration from people who think differently from you,” Nic said. “A lot of how we function as friends, in a lot of ways, is hugely shaped by being here.”
In addition to their history, they have a future here at Oneupweb, to keep growing and keep creating.
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