Maru Hospitality Group opened a new concept restaurant, Ando Asian Kitchen, this summer in Grand Rapids!
Think Asian Fusion comfort food: big bowls of ramen noodles, wasabi hummus, small plates of pickled vegetables, Korean bibimbaps and sushi rolls. Family style is encouraged (which is my favorite) so you get to try a little bit of everything. It's amazing.
I've had the pleasure of creating all of the photographs, the website, building their social media presence and some of their design materials.
One of my favorite families to capture!
Last December, I was able to get together with a few amazing women to bring a little Korean-inspired shoot to life.
Kate and I went to college together and then crossed paths in Korea in 2015, and since then we've been dying to collaborate on a project. Kate now lives in San Fransisco doing various (amazing) prop and fashion styling projects, but was back in Michigan for the holidays. So we thought it'd be a perfect time to get something fun in the works. And we thought: why not something we both experienced and love so well?
We swapped photos and ideas for the few weeks leading up to the shoot. I reached out to the sweetest human, Sophia, to see if she'd be down to model. Both Kate and Christiana brought a bunch of goodies home with them from California (including outfits / props / accessories Kate brought home from in Asia) and we shot in her older brother's home. His place is DREAMY. The most gorgeous art, trinkets and quirky objects from around the globe were sprinkled throughout the space. He also helped us make kimchi toast with bread that he had baked fresh that day. Ahhh.
I can't share the images with y'all quite yet as we're trying to send them off to a few publications, BUT you'll be the first to see em when I can.
S/O to the awesome humans that made this day so so fun.
The sixth Maru officially opened their doors to Kalamazoo on March 4th!
It's been such a treat to not only watch this concept grow, but to be a part of the planning and creating. Weeks leading up to the opening, there was this exciting buzz within the company. The long-anticipated location was nearly ready!
We took a field trip on Monday (why are field trips still so great??) to visit our new family and spent the afternoon meeting new faces and taking photographs and sampling new cocktails like the Soju Lemonade (pictured above). Muddled blackberries, basil, soju and lemonade.... simple and dangerously delicious. Megan is the boss of cocktail creation. .
Maru Kalamazoo is located in an old train depot downtown, right next to HopCat and a few blocks away from Black Owl Cafe (Kalamazoo Coffee Company). The interior is complete with exposed brick, big wooden beams and gorgeous hardwood floors. Although it is very "Maru" in aesthetic, it has a more rustic feel that makes it even more unique than the other locations. Each new Maru seems to get better and better.
Now that the anticipation of Maru Kalamazoo has subsided, we are able to focus on our next new adventure. A little something extra-special is coming to Grand Rapids this spring....... Stay tuned <3
1/21/2017 taken outside of Michigan's Capitol.
A day of peace and protest for equality. I was told that 9,000 people attended from all over the state. And millions all over the world.
This is Why I March.
2017 has started how I dreamed it would. Exactly how I'd like to see the rest of the year to go. And it feels incredibly empowering.
2017 has been intentional, creative, independent. It's been freeing and joyful and filled with the most lovely balance of my people and my self. It's brought clarity and peace. It's been rejuvenating. Which feels so good because I felt like the tail end of 2016 wasn't any of these things ― I felt tired, off-balance, frustrated and mostly, just out of sync with myself.
You see, I moved home last March after a year and some months abroad, back to my childhood home. And it was difficult. Not that I don't love or cherish my family, but because I'm an independent person who craves solitude and an immense amount of personal space. And it was difficult to cultivate this separate space at home.
On January second I moved into my own apartment, complete with the things I dreamed my next space would be : cozy with hardwood floors and natural light and a bath tub. I even have a second room for my soon-to-be studio. It's been the most fulfilling thing to start the year adorning my new home and filling it with plants and candles and the things I kept in boxes in the basement at home. It feels more permanent. Like I'm no longer in transition. And the best part is, it's all my own.
This move has made me think a lot lately about the relationship between physical space and emotional / mental space. How, the more sacred physical space you have, the more room you have for that sacred emotional space, too. The more space you have to grow and listen to your self. And the more uninterupted space you have to rejuvenate and come back to your self, the more peace and relaxation then spills over into all other areas of your life.
And I can feel it ― mornings that usually started anxious and rushed have now turned into slow mornings of NPR One and pour overs and watching the sunrise from my kitchen counter. My mornings start well and therefore my days feel lighter. Because I've intentionally started to create routines out of seemingly mundane tasks, they have become spaces for me to just be without thinking or planning or worrying that someone will try and ask me a question or ask when I'll be out of the bathroom (lol). These spaces have been in my morning coffee and in my evening baths (in the new tub that I'll never, ever tire of). They've been in my evening tea and in my daily phone calls with my people.
And it's all of these small routines that begin to make waves. Day by day. I feel so grateful that I've been able to create these new routines that paint a theme for the rest of the year. That paint a picture of the person I want to become.
Thank you, thank you to all of the friends and family who helped me move, provided home-things, groceries and the sweetest words of encouragement in this new transition. Thank you to all of the friends who've stopped over for mini-tours and games of Catan and quiet nights in. I'm incredibly lucky to have you in my life. I'm so fortunate to begin to make these sacred spaces with all of you in it.
Cheers to a balanced, creative, intentional 2017.
Each winter, I find myself in a bit of a rut. A little uninspired. A little restless. It's dark. And very cold. Taking my camera out seems more challenging than it did in the summer.
But this day, this shoot, was one of those sweet moments that brought back that spark again. It was one of those "wow, connecting with people and documenting their lives and passions is actual magic" moments. It was such a deep reminder of why I do what I do. And a reminder to keep doing it. That despite having a 9 - 5, keeping these photography side projects going is so important.
Meghan is such a sweet, talented, passionate human.
This summer, we took some of her senior portraits on one of the most mosquito-filled days we've ever experienced, so meeting up again this winter was such a treat. We both agreed we'd take the cold over mosquitoes any day. I felt all kinds of gratitude to be able to spend the day with her, laughing and talking about how she feels so much more comfortable behind the camera while she's on the ice than on land (which I really beg to differ because both are equally as beautiful). We ended the night with hot tea and conversations about future plans at the Corbett counter... a place that I spent countless hours at in high school with my girl, Lindsey.
It was a really special day.
Documenting for others is seriously one of the coolest things. I'm excited for all of the new projects and connections that 2017 will bring.
It almost seemed divinely planned, you know?
How all of these seemingly mundane things could come together to form this next adventure I'm embarking on.
All the years spent working at a sushi restaurant to pay my bills in college. The four-year advertising degree that I thought I'd never actually pursue. The year spent in Korea that, although important for my personal growth, felt lacked purpose or meaning. The months upon arriving home spent serving at Maru to get back on my feet again.
All of this, all of these seemingly random life choices... and then I end up here. I meet the owners of the restaurant that I already know and love so well. I meet them, we talk creative work and aesthetics and Asia and Korean culture and food. We meet and we click. We realize we're basically on the same wavelength. We meet and we decide to take things a little further.
So now, I'm smack dab in the middle of a new role for this company, Maru Hospitality Group, which encompasses all of the Maru Restaurants in Michigan. With five locations (in EL, Okemos, Midland, Grand Rapids and Detroit), a new location coming to Kalamazoo and a new concept restaurant, Ando, opening in Grand Rapids next year, I couldn't be more proud to call this company my first real career. My role, even though it is new and evolving and will most definitely change, right now includes all of our marketing and branding efforts. Basically, we are building a lifestyle around Maru. We want people to enjoy eating our food. And drinking our cocktails. We want our employees to enjoy what they do each day. To be a part of our family. We want to create an experience so much more than simply eating a meal.
I couldn't be happier to be given the freedom, the trust and essentially full creative control over where to take this brand. I couldn't be happier to be with a company that puts such an emphasis on service, creativity, culture and quality. All things that are important me, too.
Through this transformation, although hesitant at first because #committmentissues, I have really begun to trust that this is exactly where I'm meant to be. That although I'm back home, living in the same town that I grew up in, this opportunity is important and filled with purpose. And for that, I am content. I am content being here. And it feels really, really good.
Above are a few shots of our latest space in Detroit. It's so. freaking. pretty.
Follow Maru on Instagram for updates and serious food porn. <33