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St. Johns Boosters St. Johns businesses

Meet our Banner Artist, Shiref Eskander of Alsherif Design

Chances are, you probably already know Shiref’s work.  Maybe it’s a flag flying on your neighbors’ balcony, or a bumper sticker on the car in front of you.  Perhaps you met him at a craft fair and bought one of his bridge prints.

St. Johns flag by Alshiref Design
St. Johns flag designed by Alshiref Design

When the St. Johns Boosters received a Placemaking Grant from Venture Portland to add banners to electrical poles in St. Johns, our Banners Committee knew right away that we wanted to work with this popular local designer! We knew Shiref could create a beautiful and eye-catching design to help drive traffic to the Boosters’ website marketing local businesses.

Interview with Shiref

Interview by Liz Smith of Bizzy Lizzie Social Media Marketing.

AlShiref Design owner, Shiref Eskander
Shiref Eskander

I recently sat down with Shiref of Alshiref Design to talk about his design background and why St. Johns is special to him.

Q: How did you get interested in graphic design?

A: Drawing was a lifelong interest growing up. I went to college to study social service, so I have a social service degree. Ten years later, I decided I would rather do what I loved to do, so I went back to school to study graphic design in Portland. I graduated in 2010.

St. Johns Flag

Q: How did you come up with the idea of the St. Johns flag?

A: Five years ago, I was talking with my neighbors and we decided that our neighborhood needed its own flag. They said, “you’re the graphic designer, you should design it!” I came up with several ideas and shared them with my neighbors and together we settled on the design that you see now. Each part has a meaning: the bridge symbolizes connection, the circle (or sun) symbolizes community, and the river is the flow of life. You’ll see with the bridge that one leg crosses over to the other side. This is connection of us not only to each other but to other communities.

Q: What are you doing when you are not designing?

A: Cooking, playing soccer with my kids, playing with my dog Lucky, playing in a local band, or sailing on the Columbia. One day I went out on my friend’s boat and they asked me to be on their sailing team.

Q: Where can people find your work?

A: Salty Teacup in St. Johns just started carrying my products, so you can see them there. I do many outdoor street fairs including the St. Johns Bizarre, Crafty Wonderland and the Portland Saturday Market. People are also welcome to visit me in the studio, by appointment. My studio is in the Pioneer United Methodist Church at 7528 N. Charleston in St. Johns, near the library. To make an appointment, contact me at contact@alshirefdesign.com

Q: Which neighborhood projects are you working on next?

A: I am working on the poster for the St. Johns Farmers Market, which opens on May 19th. It is exciting because I did the poster for the 5-year anniversary of the market, and this year is the 10-year anniversary.

Favorite Thing About St. Johns

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in St. Johns?

A: My favorite thing is that everyone knows everyone. When you are walking down the street, everyone says hello or at the very least, acknowledges each other. This is how it is in Europe, so it is what I was used to before I moved here. In other cities where I have lived, they don’t do this. But St. Johns is a friendly place, and a great place to work and raise a family. In fact, St. Johns is like a big family.

You can see more of Shiref’s work at Alshiref Design.

Get Your Name Up Top — Sponsor the Banners!

St. Johns banner
The St. Johns banners will draw traffic to the Boosters website marketing local businesses. Each banner is 2′ X 3′ and will be hung from electrical poles in our business district.

As part of the Banners Placemaking Grant from Venture Portland the St. Johns Boosters need to raise $3,000 from sponsors. Depending on the sponsorship level you select (Bronze, Silver, or Gold), you will receive 3 weeks, 5 weeks, or 9 weeks of advertising up top in the header of the Boosters website. That will give you visibility on each page of the site, and the opportunity to get your message in front of the over 1,000 website visitors we have monthly.

Sponsorship benefits also include social media posts, and, for Gold sponsors, 1 week of your message listed on the marquee in front of the Bridge. All sponsors will receive a signed limited edition print of the poster. Only one poster will be printed per sponsor!

To participate, go to the Banners Project section of our website.

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Favorite Businesses

Branding and Social Media for Small Businesses

This is a guest blog post by our social media maven, Liz Smith, owner of Bizzy Lizzie.

Liz Smith
Liz Smith, owner of Bizzy Lizzie.

Having a small business, you have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to marketing. The advantage is that you ARE your business, which means that you are the founder and the primary driver behind your brand and products. You set the mission statement, and your values are the ones that your company represents. The disadvantage is that unlike bigger companies, you generally have to do it all yourself.

Here are some tips on how to use your social media and marketing platforms successfully:

1) Brand consistency

Social media marketing is a brand amplifier, so it can only be as strong as the brand it represents. Stick to your mission statement, and if you don’t have one, create one.

A mission statement or tag line answers the simple question: what is this, and who is it for? Underlying that is: why do I need it? Create a logo and use it consistently: on your signage, on bags, in all of your digital and print marketing. Make sure your employees understand and communicate this brand message at all times.

2) Be yourself

One of the reasons that people like to buy from small businesses is that they get personal interaction. It’s very different than buying from a nameless, faceless corporation.

Don’t be afraid to step out from behind your brand and talk about yourself. It will let your customers get to know you, like you, and want to buy from you, especially if your values are aligned with theirs. This is AS important as marketing product. you are giving them a reason to choose to buy from you because it FEELS GOOD to them.

3) Know your target audience

You have your own customers and you probably know how to market to them, but did you know that you are also part of a larger brand which is your business district?

Study the assets and opportunities in your district and this will give you insight into a slightly broader audience and how you might serve them. Big community event coming up? Tailor your displays and products to serve those who might be attending those events. If multiple businesses do this, it creates consistency throughout the district and sends a clear message to customers and potential customers.

4) Support other businesses

We’re all in this together, so helping each other is key!

Let’s say you have a boutique and you just ran out and got coffee from your favorite place. It costs you nothing to post a picture of that coffee with a shout-out to the coffee shop (even better if you can tag them, both to let them know that you did it and for potential customers to immediately be able to connect to their business). It’s both real (you drink coffee, and you probably have customers that drink coffee and can relate to that), gracious, and next time they hear one of their customers looking to find product that you sell, they may be inclined to send them your way. Win-win!

5) Feed the beast

One thing about social media that people have a hard time with is that you need to “feed the beast” in order for it to be successful. I always tell my clients, if your time is limited choose just one platform and be good at it, rather than being so-so on multiple platforms. If you don’t consistently produce content, the chances of your posts getting seen diminish.

You want to build an engaged audience who see your posts regularly, and ideally take action on them (i.e. see a sale flyer and come in and make a purchase). Make sure that your platforms are up to date with all of the latest information (store closings, dinner specials etc). People rarely check websites for current information, they expect that they will find that on social media.

Keep tabs on your pages and be sure to answer any customer questions in a timely manner. If writing and posting are not your thing, you can lessen the load by choosing one day a week to write and schedule all posts, or you can hire someone like me to completely take it off of your hands! If you’re not doing it or spending time stressing over it, that’s costing you money.

My tag line is, “Let me run your social, while you run your business” — meaning, you focus on what you do best and I’ll take care of your online presence.

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St. Johns Boosters

In Support of the 82nd Avenue of Roses

In solidarity with our fellow business districts, we are temporarily changing our Facebook profile picture to show our support of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, and their difficult decision to cancel this weekend’s scheduled 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade.

Please see their official statement below.

82nd Avenue Statement

For more than a decade, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, in partnership with local businesses, residents and community groups, has hosted the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade. This event, created to celebrate and promote East Portland and the diverse community that lives, works and plays on 82nd Avenue is also the first sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival.

Following threats of violence during the Parade by multiple groups planning to disrupt the event, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association can no longer guarantee the safety of our community and have made the difficult decision to cancel the Parade originally scheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 9:30am. The related Carnival at Eastport Plaza is also cancelled. We are deeply disappointed that the agendas of these outside groups have so regrettably impacted East Portland and the 82nd Avenue community.

While the formal Parade and Carnival are cancelled, we strongly encourage Portlanders to visit the great businesses on 82nd Avenue of Roses on Saturday and in the future.