‘Tis the Season for Great Music
We picked our favorite holiday songs for you to enjoy and freely blast on your speakers.
1. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey —Paul, customer service
We picked our favorite holiday songs for you to enjoy and freely blast on your speakers.
1. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey —Paul, customer service
It’s National Cat Day, a day to celebrate the felines who love us (or in some cases, have pure apathy for us). We stopped ourselves from showing our favorite cat videos, which would’ve taken at least forever to get through. Instead, meet our cat besties:
1. Name: Gerald “Coop” Cooperberg
Belongs to: Katie, assistant to the publisher
Age: 3 1/2 years old
About: A few months ago, I was able to adopt Coop through a friend of a Knock Knock employee. Coop enjoys meowing, jumping and twirling in the air to catch his toys, and cannonballing onto the bed in the middle of the night. He likes his catnip dry, not fresh, and prefers large cardboard boxes over regular cat furniture and toys. He hates hugs, but he loves being scratched under his chin and right behind his ears. Watch out ladies: he bites toes.
2. Name: Sherman Alexie, the Native American poet and screenwriter aka Sherman aka Buddybear Maurice
Belongs to: Janet, marketing designer
Age: 8 years young
About: Stylish, special, beautiful. A non-smoker who loves to laugh. This 15 lb. loverboy is always up in our grills, meowing, and wanting some respect . . . or chicken-flavored treats. Shermy’s signature moves: assuming meatloaf position and sunbathing in the window, attacking and eating unsuspecting flowers, peeking around corners, sleeping with his head on a pillow, wandering casually into piles of laundry, and falling asleep face-first in a lap. This morning, he crawled into a bathroom drawer and disappeared the back way into the cabinet next to it so he could hang out on a soft pile of toilet paper.
3. Name: Milly
Belongs to: Grace, social media and marketing intern
Age: 6 years old
About: Milly was born on the streets of Brooklyn and she has an attitude to prove it. She enjoys sitting in the bathtub under running water, scratching (and destroying) sentimental pieces of furniture and art. She also loves tuna. The only thing in life she shows real enthusiasm for is the sound of a can opener.
4. Name: Captain Daenerys Phoebs Tonks Bluth
Belongs to: Melanie, marketing and digital coordinator
Age: 1 year and 4 months
About: Dany is fairly quiet, but mimics the sound of a whining baby when she wants to get your attention—be it an invitation to your room at 3 a.m. or while you cook chicken. Above all things, this kitty loves to hunt, play fetch, catch hair ties, and could run around for hours and hours if she wanted to. Don’t be fooled by her regal mane though. Dany likes her territory and makes it known. Backpacks, beanbags, bed sheets and comforters, boxes, and whole couches have played victim to Dany’s liquid scent. To check out more of Dany’s daily happenings, “Follow” her Tumblr!
We come by an array of friendly cats around our Venice locale. Here are a few of our buddies:
This National Cat Day, let’s not forget our pet pals nationwide who are up for adoption and looking for a good home. Check out Petfinder.com to get started.
September is National Self-Improvement Month, and while we’re not expertly equipped to tell you exactly how you can improve your own specific habits (although, we do have a book to assist you in that realm), we can help you fine-tune one suboptimal routine we all embrace—procrastination. After all, Knock Knock was founded by a productive procrastinator. And we did procrastinate writing this post for the entirety of this month. Nevertheless, keep these morsels in mind next time you’re looking to put-off whatever you really should be doing:
1. Stop what you’re doing and journal. Pick up a pen, clear your head, and don’t look back. Actually, maybe you should look back. Like, over your shoulder. The last thing you need is your boss watching you pull out a My Pet Peeves journal and bitch about the latest toilet-paper-replacement office conundrum while you’re supposed to write-up that report by noon. According to Forbes, journaling is the key to self-productivity. It de-clutters your mind, so you can focus on the real project at-hand.
2. Laugh it up. Snickering is the cheapest antidote to a crappy day, plus it’s a solid stress reliever. We hope you’re at least getting a daily dose of funny into that membrane of yours. Next time your coworker chastises you for surfing the Funny Sub-Reddit, tell him or her that you’re doing it for your health. Technically, that’s not lying.
3. Walk around a block or two. When it comes to taking a break outdoors, working in Venice spoils you. It’s a commonality around our office to stroll outside our domicile and walk around the neighborhood with a comrade. Even if you don’t have the bright sun, the cool breeze, the adorable outdoor cats that we inadvertently see climb into sidewalk drainages, get up and walk around anyway. Or you can do these awkward exercises at your desk and tell us how that goes.
4. When browsing, go beyond pet videos. It’s easy to get sucked into what’s raging online at the moment, what with all the cat gifs, twerking vids, twerking-cat gifs vid that’s flooding our feeds into thy kingdom come. But don’t forget about the mentally-stimulating content that’s out there and should be added to your RSS feed. Alongside your favorite news publications, sites like Brain Pickings, Mental Floss, Listverse, or Lifehacker are good places to start quenching your curious thirst for tidbits to share at the water cooler.
5. Pass on the positive. If you’re bored and can’t summon your will power to get back on task, write a quick, upbeat note to someone in your building. Compliment them on paper with why he or she deserves candy, a high-five, or an encouraging fortune. Or you can throw a paper airplane with a message from the King of Pop like our production artist did. That’s positively alright.
Do you have any tips on procrastinating to share? Tell us in a comment.
After we posted our “I can’t swear with these freaking kids around—what should I say instead?” flowchart from Inconsequential Dilemmas on FB yesterday (see a screen shot of it below), we received a flurry of responses. So we posed this question: What’re your favorite fake-swear words that you use daily? And the results lead us to believe you all like to swear (and non-swear) just as much as we do. Shiznits!
We pulled 20 of the 57 from the list to highlight a few of our faves, but it just skims the surface. Sift through the entire log here and use them in your next verbal spat (there are lots of animals and “mothers” thrown around):
1. “Holy schnikes!”
2. “Bob Saget.”
4. “Son of a motherless goat!”
5. “Mother Pussbucket!”
6. “Holy shitake mushroom!”
7. “Son of rum puncher.”
9. “What the fun!”
10. “Gordon Bennett!”
11. “Sweet blue blazes!”
12. “Holy Shatner!”
13. “Rigga, ragga, fragga!”
14. “Who in the ham-fat?!”
19. “For the Love of Benji!”
20. “Dirty Cuss Word.”
Do you have a fake-swear word to add? Share it with us in this post’s comment section.
Today is National Dog Day, a day to celebrate our loyal companions (and sneak them an extra treat). You know we’re huge pet lovers here at Knock Knock, so we would like to introduce you to our team’s canine compadres:
1. Name: Lucy
Belongs to: Sara, e-commerce manager
Age: 7 ½ years old
About Lucy: Lucy has many special talents, including howling to mimic passing fire engines. She is a Belgian Sheepdog/Border Collie mix, so she is really good at herding—mainly other dogs and humans at dog parks. She’s a classy lady!
2. Name: Paco
Belongs to: Jen, head honcho
Age: 6 years old, but turning 7 on 9/3/13.
About Paco: Paco is a regal goofball. He plays at being elegant and sophisticated but there’s always an undercurrent of his true goofball character, making for a compelling embrace of opposites. He is a snugglepuss and a lover, with a fantastic and often unintentional sense of humor. He is game for anything, always eager and ready to go. He is my boy. I love him.
3. Name: Ellie
Belongs to: Paul, assistant manager of operations and customer service
Age: 1 year old
About Ellie: Likes: long walks; dislikes: putting on her leash.
Likes: car rides; dislikes: sticking her head out of the window.
Likes: playing fetch; dislikes: letting go of the ball.
4. Name: Sandro (short for Allesandro)
Belongs to: Arnold, publicist
Age: 8 years old
About Sandro: Sandro was named after a street in Echo Park. It’s a major cross street in the neighborhood where we lived when we first got him. We were driving home from the shelter and looking at street sign names, when my boyfriend, Sean, said, “Allesandro,” as a joke, and I said, “That’s it, SANDRO!” It stuck ever since. However, I have like 30 other names for him: “Bubby,” “Buddy,” “Papa.” and “Kiki.”
5. Name: Weil Elsa Vom Fleischerheim (seriously). Known as Elsa, and occasionally Pudding.
Belongs to: Jamie, editor at large
Age: 12 years old
About Elsa: Elsa has always comported herself quite regally, even when she jumps in the pool to swim. She has a surprisingly dainty dog-paddle for such a big dog.
6. Name: Muffin
Belongs to: Rosie, accountant
Age: 12 years old
About Ellie: I adopted Muffin in 2006 from my sister in-law (she named her), and she’s a very intelligent and sweet dog. She loves to beg for food, can jump super high for any treat, and loves to travel. Muffin is a great passenger and really enjoys sightseeing. She’s actually traveled to Japan, Mexico and all over California. One of her favorite destinations is Lake Tahoe, but mostly she enjoys the comfort of a nice plush bed. She’s a great dog and I love her warm and kind eyes.
7. Name: Toby
Belongs to: Kate, editor
Age: Just turned 9 years old
About Toby: He’s a real pop cultural artist, quite postmodern. Very big in Japan. Has his own variety show there, the Toby Show. Seriously, though, Toby is the best dog ever, but he does have an eating disorder. (More binge than purge.) Most recently, he ate a chocolate cake with toothpicks stuck in it, then the next day had a whole container of pig-skin chewies.
This National Dog Day, let’s not forget our pet pals nationwide who are up for adoption and looking for a good home. Check out Petfinder.com to get started. (We’re virtually toasting to you in advance.)
The popularity phenomenon around Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is still burning through these last few days. It’s become a challenge to maneuver through social media channels without stumbling on the latest shark-crazed post. Shark Week’s lure has even seeped into the Knock Knock office, with several Knock Knockers sliding into an extensive convo on the so-bad-it’s-good “Sharknado” flick. People just have a fascination with sharks, which is A-OK. But can someone let us know when mixed-breed ‘doodle’ dog week is, too?
If you still need to satisfy your shark-fix outside of the Megalodon special and its own faux pas, why not throw a shark-themed party? Or read some good ole shark literature? Or perhaps dress up in shark-inspired outfits? And feel free to whip-up shark cupcakes and let us play taste-tester.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, one of the winning viral vids of the week was definitely this cat on a Roomba, dressed as a shark, which leads into a post all about cats celebrating Shark Week. And for the record, we’re all for a Cats Dressed Up as Sharks Week, Discovery Channel. Just sayin’.
But if you’re a shark lover, you’ll want a Shark-o Clump-o-Lump for yourself. Watch out for those shark-o attacks, though!
We’re big fans of high-fives—have you seen our best-selling High Five Nifty Note or our head honcho, Jen, dominating the High-Five Challenge? (If you haven’t seen the latter, scroll down, it’s below). Yup, high-fives are the fiber of our hands. And since it’s National High-Five Day (NH5D), who knows, we may just go beyond the standard palm slap and try The Escalator.
This year, we also want to give a special high-five to a non-profit dedicated to the hand gesture, The National High Five Project. They’re founders of the National High-5-a-Thon for cancer research. But today they’re wanting folks to join in their online NH5D Rally in support of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings:
For this year’s National High Five Day — today, April 18 — let’s all reach out to help Boston. After tragedies like this, two critical services are often not covered by victims’ insurance companies — mental-health counseling and physical therapy. We’re partnering with Boston-area providers offering affordable services (including Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy and Thriveworks Counseling). On average each $5 donated today pays for 5 minutes of care from those providers . . . Let’s high five for Boston!
Using high-fives as an instrument to help each other out is a beautiful thing. And even if you refuse to slap someone’s hand today, just know we’re sending all of you Internet high-fives with the intensity to match Jen’s skills:
I’m currently watching the highly-acclaimed Olsen twins classic New York Minute while I write. It’s the only Olsen flick I have not seen, and by fantastic chance I DVRed it in the nick of time, which may or may not be one of the most embarrassing things I’ve chosen to share with the Internet. Nevertheless, it involves a young woman who’s determined to make it big in a city saturated with hustle and bustle and Simple Plan cameos. One of those two plot points is completely relatable to my current, post-college pursuits.
At the tail end of January, I had the opportunity to travel with the Knock Knock team to New York City, which I consider an extraordinary accolade, considering: 1. If thought bubbles hovered over our heads in the office and labeled us, mine would read, “Mildly mellow chick, semi-decent fashion sense, junior status”; 2. New York is way over there, literally on the other side of the country from our Venice, California, locale, and plane rides ain’t cheap these days. So when my colleague and Knock Knock e-commerce manager, Sara Hartman, sent me an email asking if I’d like to come to NYC for digital department meetings and the New York International Gift Fair, that was an immediate “Uh, hells yessssss!” And while prepping for the trip, I made sure to revisit my inner “how to not fuck things up” canon.
So there I was, 37,292 feet in the air, working on Knock Knock social media, PR, and video items from above and exchanging interplane emails with the boss ladies—Trish, our VP of branding, and our head honcho, Jen, have you heard of her?—and Knock Knockers back in Venice. All the while scheming up ways Sara and I could somehow sneak into first class and make Chris Pine fall in love with us, although I kindly gave Sara dibs. (Yes, the actor really was on our flight and newsflash, he reads newspapers! Whoa, guys, it’s like he’s a real person!)
It all felt so very odd to me—like, taking-off-my-boots-and-putting-heels-on odd. Why did I feel so weird working? I had no idea. I’ve been on flights where I was perfectly sandwiched between two coworkers chatting it up about plans and “next steps,” but didn’t think I’d be doing the same exact thing at the tender age of twenty-three. I was out of my element. (If you wanted to know, my “element” is falling asleep to my iPod and spontaneously waking up to make sure I didn’t miss the food cart.) But damn, did I feel productive! And so my fingers returned to my keyboard.
The four-day trip itself flew by at the same fast, fervent rhythm of New Yorkers’ feet pounding on the concrete. We weaved in and out of digital meetings the first two days. In and out of the freezing 19-degree chill that made my breath look as if I was smoking my lungs out, sans cigarettes. Surprisingly we had a few spurts of free time, which Sara and I used to walk around a snow-blanketed Central Park and visit the beloved Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
At night, the Knock Knock digital ladies also had spurts of alcoholic beverages that made walking outside a bit warmer, our team a bit closer, and our list of bad pickup lines you should never, ever say to a gal that much longer. For pete’s sake, guys, do not try to woo women from Los Angeles by saying that you “expected them to be more beautiful” and then proceed to call it “witty banter.” In the real world, this is actually considered an insult, and you will be branded an “asshole” with inept social skills.
Sunday came around, the first day of the fair at the Javits Center. Unlike Ms. Jen, who has a decade of trade shows under her belt, I’ve never been to a trade show in my life. I’ve heard so much about the show over the last few years from the reports I’ve received to post about on Facebook, but that was the extent of it. My plan was to live-Tweet and -Facebook the experience, but when I got inside the Javits I realized I didn’t have Wi-Fi for the designated Knock Knock social media iPod Touch, which meant I was pretty much screwed out of that scheme.
The upshot? For those of you who have never experienced a trade show as grand as NYIGF, go to at least one or two in your life. By the end of it, you’ll want to hug and high-five each and every member of your sales team and cater to their every need, because the logistics of it all are exhausting. Our superstar sales team not only set up the booth, which, by the way, looked über-fantastic, but spent the entire week on their feet with huge smiles on their faces, taking time to talk to each and every person who stopped by. For an ENTIRE WEEK. I was at the Knock Knock booth for less than an hour and within fifteen minutes I knew I couldn’t do what they do so seamlessly. A supreme shout-out to them (and to our Tradeshow Jots, which were freebies just for the show, and very, very popular)!
I also had the opportunity to walk the rest of the aisles and aisles and aisles of booths. Walking the convention center, spanning two huge floors, made my brain spin, but in a good way. I tried as best as I could to keep up with Trish and Jen’s strides but I easily became overwhelmed with the thousands and thousands of brands and companies—both big and small—and the tens of thousands of products with which they’d stocked their booths. Not to mention the tens and thousands of people running around trying to sell and buy all of it—oy, I had to sit down and take a breather and reflect upon the fact that this craziness happens twice a year. After the this experience, I was thinking of submitting “trade show” to UrbanDictionary.com, alongside the definition, “embraced ridiculousness.” There are just so many items with which to become fixated, it would take weeks for you to sift through them all. Although it would take me months, because I shop like a snail.
To close the day, and the trip, the Knock Knock team attended the Gift for Life AIDS charity gala and auction, which is probably the swankiest event I’ve ever been to. Hanging out, drinking, and catching up with other Knock Knockers outside of the office was oh-so-refreshing and extremely fun. If you didn’t see the photo-booth snaps from the event, check them out, because it really does capture our inebriation. On a side note to other twentysomethings: if you go to a future event with your management team and there’s an open bar, sip with caution. I know it’s tempting, but do not, I repeat, do not, take advantage of it to the point where you’re doing power-hour shots or anything of the like, because getting blackout drunk in front of your execs is utterly moronic, but more importantly, unprofessional.
Once again I worked on the plane ride home. As I pushed pixels, that funny, fickle feeling crept over me again, that feeling of sudden assimilation into unknown territory. Not to sound too cheesy or stupidly soft, but I realized that “unknown territory” was confidence. Finding confidence in my own work efforts and ethic in this bachelor’s-degree afterlife. Here I was, hunched over and editing a video for four hours on an airplane, not because I was required to, but because I wanted to, and I actually felt I had a purpose within my own career pursuits. And by flying me across the nation, I realized I felt comfort in knowing my company thought I did, too.
For more pics from the New York trip, and let me tell you, there are many more, check out our FB album all about it!
Do you have any comical story nuggets from your first business trip? Share in a comment!
Admit it, we’ve all asked ourselves “To share or not to share?” when posting information on social media on Facebook, Twitter (. . . Myspace?), or at least, we wish other people would do the same. For those of you who need a little guidance, a social media expert will offer “netiquette” tips on the do’s and don’ts of sharing information online on Ricki Lake’s new show The Ricki Lake Show, Thursday, October 4th at 3 p.m. PST/12 p.m. EST on FOX.
And even better news: our Social Media Citation Nifty Note will be featured on this week’s episode. Oh, the relevance! We’re a bit late, but we’re glad Knock Knock is finally fulfilling its 1996 dream.
What are your social media do’s and don’ts? Share your tips in a comment below! As for the experts, make sure you get your hands on our Social Media Citation Nifty Note and fine away!
When I first started to look around tradeshows and see Knock Knock’s influence, sometimes a little too transparently, I was able pretty quickly to calm myself with the knowledge that imitation was one indication we were successful. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel hotheaded and indignant that other creators couldn’t find their own voices, and if so, they shouldn’t be playing the game, but instead the recognition that I was witnessing the inevitable and in the larger picture this meant we were doing things right.
Sometimes aspiring entrepreneurs or product designers come to me and say “I have a great idea for a product.” After asking me to sign an NDA and squinting with cagy suspicion, they allow that it’s an idea for a card. Or a pad. Or a sticky note. My response? God help you if you only have one idea. In the world of creative product, your longevity and success are based on your ability to come out with good ideas over and over and over again, and the produced good ideas are the winners among many, not a sole strike of momentary genius. When I see our, or another company’s, influence running too rampant, I know that we’ve played out that theme and it’s time to move on.
All of us more experienced and perhaps not insane gift-and-specialty companies (the industry term for us) know that we’re playing in the same sandbox. There are only so many things you can do with paper and ephemera and cloth and plastic. When I’m at a tradeshow and I see that file folders are coming up, and we have a great idea for file folders, I’m aware that it’s not appropriate to do it if only one company is doing it, but if I see a few doing it, and Knock Knock can bring something to the form that isn’t about competition but about what we want to create, then we make file folders. Great minds are constantly thinking alike, and honestly, there are a number of things we’ve thought of that we haven’t produced because someone else did it before us and we don’t want to be perceived as followers or copycats. Creativity is our stock in trade.
But then there are the actual copycats. The ones who, due either to lack of conscience (not too long about I read this book on psychopaths, AKA sociopaths, who, according to the book and this This American Life episode, are especially prevalent among CEOs; also, here’s a TED Talk about it) or complete and utter denial, can’t help themselves from stealing intellectual property. I find out about these copycats primarily from customers and other supporters (thank you!) who email us to say, “Is this yours?” One was a company I saw while walking around one of the gift shows, and it was so bald-faced that I was shocked they’d had the gall to obtain a booth. They had barely changed our wording. I plotted with a sympathetic retailer to check it out: she went into the booth, looked around, and said, “Is this Knock Knock?” The woman in the booth replied with a smug smile, “Oh, no. Our stuff is much more sophisticated than theirs.”
In the last couple years, the copycats have gone international. A small company in Argentina whose mission statement celebrates their creativity basically put our pads and sticky notes on a color xerox machine and then got very mainstream press on them! A not-so-small publisher in Germany asked to license our product when we nabbed them for their color xerox infraction. Are you kidding me? I’m going to do business with you? This is your reward for ripping us off? The current challenge in Australia is with a known knocker-offer, a very large company that has already lost similar lawsuits, which makes me think their CEO certainly must be a sociopath, because he clearly knows exactly what he and his company are doing and doesn’t care. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that one of my least favorite activities is pursuing these infringements with our attorneys and that my very least favorite check to sign is the one for these legal fees. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars a year, and that’s even with assiduously avoiding litigation.
People often ask us who our competitors are. You may think this is disingenuous, but I don’t feel we have competitors. Instead, I believe we have peers. Since we don’t create generic commodity items, our products don’t have exact equivalents. Retailers and buyer want our sensibility. Other companies that have similar sensibilities may be competing with us for open-to-buy dollars (the term for the budget a buyer or retailer has for a certain product category and season) or space on a particular display table, but it’s our job to put out such good stuff that we’re happy with their choices to fly Knock Knock.
Big chain retailers have over time been building their in-house product development and design teams. We create customized product programs for many of these retailers, and one of the things they tell us is it’s difficult to knock off Knock Knock because of our conceptual underpinning and emphasis on language. They just can’t get it right. Of course they don’t state it exactly like that, but it’s the gist.
Not too long ago, I heard a sad story about the design company that does a lot of work for one of our favorite peer companies, Blue Q. How can you not respect and love Blue Q’s work? How can you not frequently kick yourself because they came up with something great that you didn’t? This design company, Modern Dog, does fantabulous work, much of which you’ve seen without knowing it was them. I recently became aware of a challenge that Modern Dog is having. A creation of theirs that is especially near and dear to their hearts was knocked off very broadly and very profitably by more than one multinational corporation. These corporations know that small companies don’t have the resources to fight back (because to do so is much more than the many tens of thousands of dollars Knock Knock has been spending) so they stall until their opponents go broke.
Modern Dog believes, as I do, that “Copyright law should protect everyone, not just those who can afford to litigate” and “Copyright only works if you are willing and able to protect it.” Would you believe also that as a trademark owner, you are legally obligated to fight to protect your trademark, and that if you do not fight each and every instance of known infringement, you have a much weaker case down the road, making it sometimes dangerous to back down whether or not you can afford to go on? Modern Dog, “like a lot of small businesses” doesn’t “operate with a reserve account for emergencies. And it’s not possible to apply for a lawsuit loan.” So they’re fundraising, something they were reluctant to do until friends pushed them to do so. Knock Knock has donated, and I think all folks who believe that this kind of creative theft and bullying is wrong should do so as well.
Modern Dog has chosen to sell the house in which they’ve had their offices for almost twenty years in order to fund the lawsuit and bring down overhead. Knock Knock so identifies with its home and surroundings, and I’m such a nester myself, to me that is one of the ultimate sacrifices. I think it’s critical that we make it less easy for anyone to steal others’ creative work, but especially the Goliaths who pick on the Davids—and Davids without slingshots at that, because slingshots are cheap but lawyers are costly. So I urge you—donate to Modern Dog, and keep your eyes and ears open for companies and people who are willing to steal creativity in order to compensate for their own laziness or inadequacies, and report them to the entities that put the hard work in to unleash something new and brilliant upon the world. Because we have a right to defend ourselves.