Love and Business at Brandcenter

Rachel Scott Everett (AD, 2001) and Brian Gibson (AD, 2001)

They say the moment you start at Brandcenter, your entire life changes. This couldn’t be more true for Rachel Scott Everett (AD, 2001) and Brian Gibson (AD, 2001), who not only launched their creative careers following their time at Brandcenter (previously Adcenter), but then got married and started their own creative studio, EVERGIB, together along the way.

Today, Rachel and Brian infuse their love of travel into their livelihood. EVERGIB is a nomadic creative studio, allowing them to travel globally to work with brands of all shapes and sizes. The opposite is also true: thanks to their agile business model (and wifi), Rachel and Brian can easily bring their work along where they travel for personal interest.

In an interview 20 years after they went to Adcenter Prom together, Rachel and Brian talk about how they transitioned from graduate school to the working world together.

What made you both choose to go to the Brandcenter (then Adcenter!) and what were some of the most valuable, impactful things you learned during your time there?

Rachel: After college, I wasn’t sure what my career path would be. My first job was as a sales assistant at a promotional marketing company. The work wasn’t challenging or inspiring — I thought, if this is the real world, I’m doomed. While teaching ballroom dance part-time and applying to work on a cruise ship, I stumbled across an article about the VCU Adcenter. I had no idea there were actual jobs where you could be creative for a living.

Brian: My first job out of college was assistant brewer at a start-up micro-brewery. This was well before the flourishing landscape of today’s craft beer scene, and at that time, the market just wasn’t as ready for the little guys. My brother, Tom, was working as an art director at Martin under Jelly Helm, and that’s where I got the idea to go into advertising.

Rachel: Neither one of us had prior graphic design or art direction experience before attending the Adcenter. In fact, I hand drew all of the ads for my application. I felt woefully unprepared my first year. I definitely learned about hard work and the power of sheer resilience. A special shout out to Katie Schaeffer (among others) for helping me during many late nights in the computer lab.

Brian: Probably the most valuable thing I learned at Adcenter is how to pull an all-nighter and still present in the morning (thankfully, that’s against our current company policy).

How did you get your start in your careers? Have you always worked together, or was that something that intentionally (or unintentionally) came to be as your careers progressed?

Rachel: We graduated in 2001, which seemed like the worst possible time to start a career in advertising with the dot-com bust and 9/11. When we did a tour of ad agencies on both the east and west coasts that fall, no one was hiring. In fact, they were laying off a lot of people — mostly creatives.

Brian: After a year, we decided we’d take our chances. Not sure if it was romantic or stupid, but we packed up a U-Haul together and drove 3,000 miles across the country with no jobs lined up. We lived in Sonoma, California (in my best friend’s in-laws guesthouse) while looking for jobs in San Francisco.

Rachel: After a brief freelance stint at Goodby, I got hired on at Deutsch LA. I felt like I had hit the jackpot, especially since my first boss in advertising was a female creative director (incidentally, that woman is the amazing Karen Costello, current Chief Creative Officer at Martin).

Brian: Meanwhile, I’d gotten a job at a start-up agency in Venice. Rachel and I had completely different agency experiences. While she was working with a team of people with huge production budgets, I was essentially the entire creative department at my agency. I came up with concepts and also did all of the execution — everything from print and TV to packaging and web design. It was trial by fire, but everything I learned there, I apply to our business now.

Rachel: For the next ten years, we went on to work at other agencies in LA, New York and Las Vegas, taking sabbaticals in between stints. We ended up spending a combined two years backpacking around the world visiting 50 countries across six continents.

Tell us a little bit about your company: what you do and how you’ve tailored your career to suit your personal interests and goals (travel, working abroad, working with a diverse set of clients, etc.).

Brian: When we moved back to Richmond, our initial thought was to become a remote-friendly freelance team. We’ve always enjoyed traveling so it made sense that we’d make ourselves available to go where the work was.

Rachel: We actually didn’t intend to open our own creative studio. While freelancing for ad agencies, we started to get project work directly for our own clients. Next thing we knew, EVERGIB was born. We call ourselves a nomadic creative studio specializing in strategically led advertising and branding. We’re nomadic because we travel to work, but we also work when we travel (last year, we lived and worked from Rome, Italy for the winter.)

Brian: Having our own business has given us more opportunity to develop as creative professionals. We’ve gotten into more design work, web development and branded content. We’re constantly learning and evolving our skill set which, for us, is personally very fulfilling — to feel that we’re truly “makers.”

Rachel: If you can live with the unknowns, the freedoms that come with having your own company are incomparable. Having the ability to choose the types of projects we work on is very rewarding. Since being in business, we’ve done work for a New York based travel company that allowed us to experience a wildlife safari and tribal festival in Kenya, gorilla trekking in Uganda and ancient Mayan ruins in Guatemala. We’ve used our skills and expertise to help non-profits provide resources for communities in need (ChildFund International), promote and foster appreciation for the arts (Richmond Ballet) and advocate for equal rights and social justice (Women’s March). We’re working hard to continue leveraging our expertise for brands we believe in.

Are there any difficulties when it comes to working with your significant other? Any benefits?

Brian: Probably the only downside of working together is that we’re constantly thinking about our business. We always tell our clients they’re getting a good deal because we’re “on” 24/7.

Rachel: That said, when you enjoy the work you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work. Our goal is to keep that going.

What advice would you give to people who aspire to work abroad? What advice would you give to people who want to start a business with their partner, be it a significant other or professional associate?

Rachel: There’s a great quote by American author, Annie Dillard, that states, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Our advice would be to think about the kind of life you want to live and whether or not having your own business might help you achieve that kind of life.