Tag Archives: Hello Holiday

Big Omaha

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Big Omaha

Rewind to May 8, 2009, and you will find a community of 400-plus graphic designers, entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, small business owners, and even a handful of investors seated in tidy rows at KANEKO in the Old Market. It was a first-of-its-kind conference for Omaha.

Many of these people knew of this event through casual conversations—mostly on Twitter—about a little-known conference coming to town called “Big Omaha.” It was the brainchild and second-born of friends Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson (the previous year’s Silicon Prairie News being their firstborn). The two recognized a movement and a simmering energy surrounding the local tech community. It was a cadre of women and men who decided start-up and tech success could happen not on the West Coast but in their own backyards.

The inaugural Big Omaha sold out 10 days prior to the conference. The energy it created has sustained these past eight years. The result? Omaha is now a destination for start-ups seeking new ideas, new energy, and even new money in the form of investors.

“Big Omaha provides inspiration for people to start something,” explains Brian Lee of AIM, a not-for-profit organization that promotes technology to empower people, enhance organizations, and create brilliant communities. Lee serves as managing director of Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News.

Two years ago, Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News were acquired by AIM. Although the ownership structure has changed, the Big Omaha experience remains true to what Slobotski and Davidson created with the first conference in 2009.

“Big Omaha has had a huge impact on our community,” Lee says. “It is part of a larger movement in the past eight years that started with Big Omaha.”

Now the conference welcomes a sold-out audience of 700 attendees with guest speakers in a range of tech- and entrepreneurial-based industries who have crisscrossed the globe. When the speakers take the stage, the majority are candid about their successes and their failures, which they are encouraged to share in engaging, meaningful, transparent, and memorable ways.

“We ask our speakers to address overcoming challenges, which helps our audience find inspiration,” Lee says. “In the Midwest, we appreciate authenticity. Hearing those struggles helps a lot.”

Part of the splash of Big Omaha’s first conference in 2009 was its clever cow branding, developed by Omaha-based Oxide Design Co. The cow visuals have remained, although design duties changed hands in 2015 from Oxide to Grain & Mortar.

Now that Big Omaha is owned and operated by AIM, its goal is to cover costs through sponsorships and ticket sales, Lee says.

The conference continues to be a hot event. Tickets that cost as much as $599 are scooped up annually by local, national, and even international attendees.

Big Omaha could move to a larger venue, selling more tickets and earning more revenue. But Lee says from his vantage point, the Big Omaha culture isn’t about a bottom line.

“Our goal is not to outgrow KANEKO. We want to preserve the charm and the experience (of Big Omaha) for as long as we can.”

Part of this charm is the togetherness. Everyone who attends Big Omaha hears the same speakers in the same order. Speakers are encouraged to remain the entire two days of the conference, immersing themselves in the experience and networking with Big Omaha ticket-holders. (The pre-party and post-party have become a popular part of the two-day conference.)

Graphic design, architecture, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship ideas abound here. UNL architecture students provided an art installation in 2016, and a guest speaker in 2015 and 2017 was fashion entrepreneur Mona Bijoor, a favorite among the fashion designers and fashionistas
in attendance.

The conference’s first row is filled with familiar faces each year. One of them is Megan Hunt of Omaha, who has attended every single Big Omaha since 2009.

“I remember the incredible momentum that had built up in the Midwest startup community for this event,” Hunt recalls. “The desire we all had for a space to come together, share the work we were doing, and learn from the superstars in our field was palpable. The way that Dusty and Jeff harnessed that energy and built Omaha’s reputation as a hub of entrepreneurship is nothing short of legendary.”

Hunt has owned a web-based bridal design company, a co-working space, and, most recently, a web-based clothing retailer known as Hello Holiday that also boasts a very visual storefront in the heart of Dundee.

“I love going to Big Omaha because, for me, running a business is not just dollars and cents and strategy around growth,” Hunt adds. “It takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Big Omaha is my favorite conference because they do understand this so well, emphasizing how interdisciplinary business and technology can be, and welcoming artists, musicians, designers, and writers—people who may normally be in the minority at
other conferences.”

Big Omaha 2017

Big Omaha returned to KANEKO for the ninth consecutive year May 18 and 19. Below is the lineup of speakers.

Joe Ariel, co-founder and CEO of Goldbely

Mona Bijoor, managing partner at King Circle Capital and founder of JOOR

Christina Brodbeck, founding partner at Rivet Ventures

Daniel Burka, design partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures

Shirley Chung, chef and owner at Steamers Co.

Baldwin Cunningham, vice president of strategy at Brit + Co., co-founder of Partnered

Diana Goodwin, founder and CEO of AquaMobile

Alex Klein, co-founder and CEO of Kano Computing

Brandon Levy, co-founder and CEO of Stitch Labs

Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix, CEO of MoviePass

Margenette Moore-Roberts, global head of inclusive diversity at Yahoo

Nish Nadaraja, former Yelp brand director, partner at Rich Kid Cool

Brian Neider, a partner at Lead Edge Capital

Vanessa Torrivilla, co-founder and creative director of Goldbely

Shandra Woworuntu, founder of Mentari

Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of Clarifai

Visit bigomaha.co for more information.

Big Omaha participants try virtual reality goggles at a previous year’s event.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

The Evolution 
of Pop Music

April 15, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Admittedly, 34-year-old Omaha native Jonathan Tvrdik doesn’t sleep much. Between co-owning Benson’s Krug Park, working as a consultant for his wife Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik’s business Hello Holiday, being a father to 2-year-old son Hugo, directing music videos and commercials, making music, and holding down a day job as both the executive creative director at Phenomblue and head of product design at Rova, there’s not a lot of room for much else. It’s a path he can trace back to childhood.

“When I was a little kid, I played by myself and was always building things,” Tvrdik recalls. “I’m an adult version of that kid who is constantly making new project—like a band, bar, new app, or music video. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person with lots of irons in the fire.”

Ironically, that’s where the inspiration behind the name of Tvrdik’s upcoming solo album came from. Titled Irons, it’s a project over two years in the making and one that took careful crafting with the help of longtime friend and drummer for The Faint Clark Baechle. Busting at the seams with heavy themes of introspection and emotional growth, Irons illustrates a tumultuous period in Tvrdik’s life.

“For better or for worse, that’s where I’ve always been—busy,” he says. “I don’t even know what that has created in me—like who am I as a person? I’ve always been a workhorse, but who am I really? Each song dissects a different thing I am doing or interested in, or a certain vice I have as a result of all the stuff I am working with. It’s a very self-analytical sort of record.”

Beginning with “Something Better” and culminating with “Star Stick,” the 11-track album is like Joy Division meets The Faint, or as Tvrdik describes it, “Frank Sinatra on top of electronica-goth.” It was a true labor of love and Tvrdik really trusted Baechle’s expertise. Some tracks he thought were polished and ready to go; Baechle would hear them and mistakingly refer to them as “demos.” It took the experience of his fine-tuned ear to sew up any loose ends.

“We’ve made a lot music together over the years from a musician and engineer standpoint,” Tvrdik explains. “For this one, we started working through the process of what it was going to look like. I always knew when I was done mixing and recording it on my own, I would take it to him to refine. My producorial technique is very raw. For songs I thought were done and perfect, Clark would be like, ‘I got your demos’ [laughs]. I’m very right brained and he’s very left. I wanted his brain to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and nit pick the hell out of it, which he did. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Although Tvrdik’s music background goes back to The Cog Factory days, where Omaha staples like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Cursive’s Tim Kasher, and The Faint’s Todd Fink (Baechle’s older brother) got their start in the early ’90s, naturally he’s experienced plenty of evolutionary changes in terms of his musical output. At one point, he was in a hardcore band, and later a noise-based outfit. While he felt he was still emotionally expressive in all of them, it’s with the forthcoming Irons he felt he was truly able to effectively communicate to the listener exactly what he was experiencing.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Style Shot

June 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article was printed in the March/April 2015 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Designer, retailer, and all-around fashion maven Sarah Tvrdik is known for curating the most compelling emerging artists in unique design collections that have propelled the success of Hello Holiday, the Dundee boutique and on-line site she co-founded with Megan Hunt, aka Princess Lasertron.

Now it’s her turn to step in front of a camera in showing this fun, vibrant,
spring-forward ensemble. OMAG

StyleShot1

Fashion: Into the Woods

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Megan Hunt, 26, shows off her youthful, free-spirited, summer style with outfits from her local retail
business, Hello Holiday, on an outing to Fontenelle Forest with her daughter, Alice, 3.

Rebecca Forsyth

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“I think I always wanted to be a hairdresser,” says Rebecca Forsyth, 26.

With a mother as a receptionist in a hair salon, it’s no wonder that Forsyth aspired to work in a salon, as she spent a good deal of her childhood in one. As Forsyth got older, she veered from the cosmetology path and attended a traditional, four-year college. “At the end of it all, having cut all of my friends’ hair in my kitchen since high school, I realized hair was still where my heart was.”

Forsyth moved to Omaha about five years ago from Sioux Falls, S.D., to attend cosmetology school at Capitol School of Hairstyling and is currently a stylist at Bungalow/8 off 105th and Pacific Street. “It’s a fabulous and beautiful space, and I couldn’t dream of a better fit,” she says of the salon. “Everyone working there is so inspired and passionate.”

Hair color is Forsyth’s specialty. She’s an American Board Certified Haircolorist, an honor only attained by 1,700 stylists in the U.S. But she also has interests in styling. “I collaborate with a lot of photographers, fashion designers, and other creative types locally in both photo and video work, so I’m constantly working to help others realize their vision.” In addition to her hair coloring and styling credits, Forsyth has also developed a number of hairstyling tutorials with Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik, co-founder of Hello Holiday, an Omaha womens wear ecomerce site. The tutorials have been seen in magazines, reblogged, and pinned thousands of times on Tumblr and Pinterest.

“I haven’t worn pants in like seven years. I’m very into femininity but certainly a bit country and a bit rock and roll.”

From braids to blowouts to beehives, Forsyth says she loves it all. “My love of styling has really helped me to find ways to work on teaching my clients while they’re in my chair how to style their own hair at home. Before I was a hairdresser, I was always so frustrated that my hair would look great when I’d leave the salon, but I would be clueless about what to do with it when I was at home in front of the bathroom mirror. I’ve made it my mission to try to bridge that gap.”

Her clientele is very diverse, ranging from men and women, young and old. She also sees many clients with long hair and red hair. “I was a redhead myself for many years, which is likely where my eye for red comes from.”

As for her personal style, Forsyth describes her look as “a mixture of Brigitte Bardot, a Bradley doll, Dolly Parton, and a 1960s airline stewardess.” She explains that she’s very influenced by the late ‘60s big hair, lipstick, and winged eyeliner. “I haven’t worn pants in like seven years. I’m very into femininity but certainly a bit country and a bit rock and roll. You are as likely to find me in cowboy boots or a square dancing dress as you are to find me in a fabulous jumper and pair of heeled Mary Janes.”

Her favorite styling products and tools include:

  • Mason Pearson Popular Mixture hairbrushes—“It’s the Rolls Royce of brushes and has helped me produce amazing styling results.”
  • Kerastase’s Ciment Thermique—“Many of my blonde clients will tell you I’m also a huge fan. [It’s] a product that protects from heat and helps to rebuild broken and damaged hair. I’ve seen incredible results with it.”
  • Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode—“It holds fabulously and provides great texture and body but is still dry and brushable, which is great for re-styling and avoiding that 1980s shellac-ed look.”

Fashion: Cold Hands, Warm Heart

January 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Warm winter days are upon us as spring rises over the horizon. Model Joanna Kingsbury wears outfits from Hello Holiday, Kajoma’s Boutique, and Denim Saloon. Hair & Makeup by Kat Ferm, Creative Hair Design.


Photos 1 & 4: David Kahn Printed Skinny Jeans ($168) and Miilla Aztec Print Coat ($92). Kajoma’s Boutique, 104 E. 1st St. – facebook.com/pages/Kajomas-Boutique

Photo 2:  Gimme Shelter Sweater Cape ($49.99), Black Cherry Peplum Top ($25.99), Level 99 Lily Skinny Straight Jean in “Harley” ($115), and All Dressed Up Heels by Seychelles Shoes ($94.99). Hello Holiday – hello-holiday.com

Photo 3: Bella Dahl Denim Shirt ($123), Hazel Fur Vest ($88), and J Brand Black Skinny Jeans ($176). Denim Saloon on 4914 Underwood Ave. – denimsaloon.com