‘Shadow’ II | Smart. Creative. | ‘Bad-Ass’

Yesterday felt good. Staying in my home town to shadow a talented production ad agency was quite refreshing. After all, Lakeland’s reputation and talent is often disregarded or not spoken about. So, seeing it in this level was quite refreshing.

I spent my day with Fred Koehler (owner) and Chad Kostella (“bad ass” freelance designer) at Smart Creative, a young ad agency with a great core of clients and a fun, talented staff in the heart of Downtown Lakeland.

A Day At the Shop

I am not going to lie, not having to drive to Tampa or Orlando and still enjoying the feel of an awesome ad agency was quite fantastic. The vivid red from the front door to the office space, kitchen and war room gives you the feeling of doing something. Quite a nice location and atmosphere the Smart Creative team has created.

Being a smaller shop, I really got to converse with the owner. He told me all about his life story and how he got into the business. And, he actually took the time to give me pointers so I can grow and enter this market, which really made my experience unique.

The food was great as well. Got to try a local shop I had not tried before so that was cool, but I believe perspective was the most flavorful dish served that day. Sometimes you just have to have a heart-to-heart with a brilliant person to help you grow and reach new levels of brilliance yourself. It was a wonderful experience to have.

Luckily, I got to work a little, too. Due to its sensitive nature, I cannot share details, but I got to do some back and forward with the owner – and that was just cool. Two interactive shadow days where I got to do some work — not too shabby.

How to become a Fred or Chad

Fred – BA in graphic design, few small agencies, Peace Corps Health Program (did marketing work within), Polk County School Board public relations, The Partner Marketing Group, Publix corporate, opened his own agency.

Chad – BS in graphic design, The Mallard Group, toured the US as an indie artist, pre-press artist at The Ledger, began a career as a freelance graphic designer.

At the end of it all…

Passion, dedication and hard work has definitely been the winning formula for most of the people I have shadowed, worked and spoken with in the past year. Doing this helped me realize that pride for one’s successes is nothing to be ashamed of — yet one more thing my college adviser was correct about.

Stay cool, stay connected, stay balanced.



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