Laura Garfield spent her teenage years idolizing Jane Pauley and Katie Couric. A thirst for learning and a love of writing had her hooked on broadcast journalism – where you didn’t have to know everything except how to ask the right questions. After graduation, Laura landed her first news gig at a tiny TV station in Hastings, Nebraska. Over the span of more than a decade, she worked her way up through stations in Omaha and New Orleans to a position at CBS News in New York and then CNN in Atlanta.
Along the way she has written a book, worked as a foreign correspondent, and has lately been drawn to the emerging possibilities of digital storytelling. Instead of a company relying on a big ad spend, with the Internet, you can be a broadcaster of your own brand. Laura believes that all you need to pull it off is a talented content marketing team (like Idea Decanter!) to help you craft your message.
If you would’ve asked Sharon Gottula early on what she wanted to be, she would’ve quickly told you, “A Scientist!” The natural curiosity that had her pouring over her Discover magazines eventually lead to her discovery of cameras. Today, she looks through a viewfinder, not a microscope, but loves finding creative ways to tell stories about the complex.
Before getting into video, Sharon spent 20 years as a commercial photographer focusing her talent on everything from portraiture, to architecture and food. You may have seen her work in national and international publications such as Newsweek, Men’s Fitness and Prevention Magazine. For 7 years, Sharon was the marketing director for Image Light Group, Inc. managing the USA marketing needs for Hensel Studiotechnik. Now based in Seattle, she offers a high-energy editing style to videos and photo essays and specializes in telling your story in 2 minutes or less.
Tracy is an award-winning journalist who has worked in broadcast, digital, and social media, as well as marketing and business.
As an experienced writer, producer and editor, Tracy specializes in making your message interesting and relatable to real people. The media landscape continues to evolve and thrive on digital platforms, and while that happens, Tracy is your guide through the content creation process. Her goal? To produce the most impactful message for your clients.
Fast forward to college, where Tracy promptly dropped her aspirations of being a lawyer when she stepped into the TV studio at Illinois State University. After a very brief stint in front of the camera, she realized she could be a journalist AND boss people around from the producer chair. Her creative, type A personality had found a home.
Tracy’s career in journalism started at the ripe old age of 7, when she created her own newspaper, The Waltz Time Journal, that she sold for 50 cents an issue to people in her family’s small midwestern church. She wrote the articles, cut and pasted the “ads,” and marketed her business with a sweet smile and big, innocent, hazel eyes.
Then, when the universe offered Tracy an opportunity to devote more time to her family AND live in paradise, she jumped at the chance to move to SW Florida. Now you’ll see her in the Idea Kit virtual studio, producing your shoots. Expect her to be bossing you, just like she did her news anchors. But it’s all to make sure your videos are the best they can be.
Never one to relax, she does many hours of volunteer and charity work, while running her own blog and social media brand. That’s when she’s not training for her next marathon!
It’s a statement of pride when someone can say they built something from nothing – but few people have built something like Angelica.
We’re talking about an entire community, from raw land to family homes, with roads, sewer lines, and street signs. With no background in community planning, she whipped up a subdivision in Southern Oregon and made it look easy. It’s that kind of roll-up-your-sleeves and get it done attitude that she brings to Idea Decanter.
hen she’s not helping her kids with homework, baking bread, gardening, or cleaning – oh yes, she’s a self-confessed clean freak, leave your shoes at the door! – Angelica’s passion is helping clients.
She once worked for a third party billing company where clients who were struggling or unhappy were sent her way. Loving the challenge, she worked to not just make them happy, but to expand their investment in the company. Angelica will tell you that turning angry clients into happy clients is what makes her tick.
For Eric, editing a video is a little like conducting a band. Not that he’s speaking from conducting experience, but he’s spent years with his eyes on a band director, following every beat of the baton. Ever since elementary school when his parents said, “Eric, you need to pick an instrument,” he’s been playing his part. First the trumpet (he picked it because it was the loudest instrument he could think of) and then the tuba. Why the tuba? In high school the band only had one tuba player. They needed someone to step up … and though he didn’t know the notes, how to blow or which fingers to use, he was up for the challenge. That’s just the kind of guy Eric is.
There’s something about editing video that takes Eric back to the band room, but this time he’s up at the podium. As he manipulates clips in a timeline, builds After Effects and weaves in a music bed, he’s creating his own masterpiece with technology.
“When you go from a blank slate to the finished product,” Eric explains, “All the elements together are way more special than they were on their own.”
Just like a tuba solo sounds far different than a well-rehearsed band concert, the final project is way better than the individual clips.
Eric grew up in the Seattle area where his dad is a retired Boeing engineer and his mom a nurse. The influence of compassion and technology led him to look for a career where he could strike a balance. He wanted creativity and computers. And video production gave him the chance to have both.
Tech runs deep in his family. Eric’s twin brother Michael is in I.T. And when the two of them aren’t at work, they might be collaborating on Michael’s YouTube channel. That’s when he’s not online gaming with his circle of friends. He’d rather be working out a complicated real-time strategy than racking up kills. Get him talking about his favorite games and there’s no doubt that he’s a legit Millennial.
Before joining the Idea Decanter team, Eric freelanced for a Seattle area law firm shooting and editing interviews, presentations and events. He’s also put in a significant amount of time and energy working for a Data Science Training Company where he created video content and grew their YouTube channel subscribers from 800 to 34,000+. He’s also worked as a freelance editor for Victory Studios in Seattle and got his Bachelor’s in Film & Video from Central Washington University where he first learned how to add “wow” factor to videos.
A breakfast and lunch favorite for the hospital crowd at the University of Maryland Medical Center was nearby Colleen’s Café. The omelets arrived quickly and the tuna on rye was always reliable. At age 14, Taylor’s capable hands started juggling plates and pouring coffee refills. But it wasn’t just balance that she learned from that first job waiting tables, it was the same thing anyone who’s taken orders to earn tips knows. “It’s hard, but it forces you to develop social skills,” Taylor remembers. “And if you are good at it, you learn that you can talk to anyone.”
Though Taylor loves rock climbing, she’s also climbed her way through a variety of video production jobs. In many of them, she likes to say, she didn’t join creative departments, she was the creative department.
She learned fast-paced studio production and interviewing techniques in a journalism stint at The Real News producing stories on climate justice, police accountability and workers’ rights. And while working for financial investment publisher The Oxford Club, she traveled with “tons” of equipment to shoots in Florida, California, and Vermont, learning how to run a shoot on the go. “Doing all that run and gun stuff and figuring out how to do the audio and the lighting by myself … it was a challenge, but it was fun, too.”
On those shoots, her waitress skills came in handy. She could chat up the talent before an interview and get them comfortable before she started rolling. That ability to connect helps when she’s running Idea Kit remote shoots, too.
Coaching people to read a script from a teleprompter and make it sound personable isn’t easy. Taylor says her goal in record sessions and when she’s editing videos is to always make people look and sound good. “I really like when clients see their video and say, ‘I didn’t think you could make it look that great!’”
Once she had a handle on video production, Taylor took her know-how and started volunteering for a nonprofit program for teens. After school, Baltimore kids could go to Wide Angle Youth Media to learn video production and editing. Taylor saw it as a way to teach them skills they could use in the real world that would help them get into the field and find jobs.
Leaving Baltimore behind, Taylor decided to pack up and move west. But she didn’t leave volunteering behind. At ServeWyoming she now mentors high school and college kids in multi-media production and marketing.
The list of what she misses about Baltimore is long: the food, the culture, the punk shows, the bars, and the cool factor. Living in Fort Collins, CO has some unexpected benefits though – beyond the obvious hiking (with the dogs, of course!), climbing and snowshoeing. She likes the small community of friends she’s built (even through the pandemic) from the people she’s met. They’re the kind of friends who will make you a meal or give you their guitar. It’s a small-town bonus she wasn’t expecting.
If Avinash Chak’s life up to now were a race, you could say it began fast off the starting line. Before the age of one, he was speaking in complete sentences. Around the age of two, he was reading. Not picture books. Full-on stories. He jokes that he’d peaked by the age of three. At Idea Decanter, we assure him he’s just getting started.
While a lot of kids were cramming for tests or, alternately, figuring out ways to avoid doing homework, Avinash was busy making movies. He and his friends in his high school’s film production program shot and edited their own shorts.
The story lines veered from action to horror and may be to blame for his enduring love of “awesomely bad” movies. One of his favorites? Miami Connection, an ‘80s martial arts crime flick which apparently takes place in Orlando and has nothing to do with Miami. According to Avinash, that’s just one of the things that makes it so terrifically bad that it’s memorably good.
These days he lives in Seattle, but when he’s back home in Cleveland, Avinash hates driving around in his mom’s car. Proudly displayed in the back window are stickers from all the schools the Chak kids have attended – including Yale, where Avinash got his B.A. in History, and Northwestern, where he picked up an M.S. in Journalism. It’s funny, he points out, because he doesn’t even rep his elite school credentials … explaining he’d feel like a snob even wearing a Yale sweatshirt. Driving around with the sticker on full display is the worst.
You’d be hard pressed to get Avinash to brag, but we like to do it for him. He’s got crazy good copyediting skills that we put to use every day when we beg him to proof captions. That’s when he’s not busy editing videos or writing scripts for our financial advisor clients.
Even though Avinash gets a good dose of free financial advice every day as he’s working on videos, its often advice he doesn’t need. Not one for extravagant spending, he calls himself a saver by nature. Rather than heading out on the town, you might find him cooking something delicious in the kitchen like pesto with pistachios. It tastes nuttier than pine nut pesto. And did you know pistachios cost less? See, there’s his innate saver shining through. It’s enough to make his bumper sticker-loving mom proud.
You know someone loves the outdoors when they name their RV.
Idea Decanter’s Roving Editor Sara Avery has named hers Pickles. She and her wife Lisa take every opportunity they can to get out and explore with Pickles – along with their three dogs.
Sara’s background in television news makes her a great fit as a video editor for Idea Decanter. She kicked off her career working for a radio station in Seattle then quickly moved up the ranks to news, working in promotions for Q13 Fox Seattle and KOMO 4 News. She also earned an Emmy Award and six Emmy nominations during her news career.
Sara uses that experience every day at Idea Decanter – building graphics and crafting video to bring every script to life. She’s always ready with a smile to brighten the day of the Idea Decanter team – and give us a peak at the picturesque view surrounding her on that particular day.
The outdoors has always held a special place in Sara’s heart. Born and raised in Wyoming, Sara is no stranger to beautiful landscapes. When she graduated from the University of Wyoming, she set her sights on the Pacific Northwest and has now settled in Seattle.
When she’s not at the editing helm, RVing, or admiring that Emmy Award, Sara enjoys volunteering at a dog shelter and traveling the world, visiting destinations like Bali and Greece.
She and Lisa also recently bought land on a small lake near Olympia, Washington. They’re looking forward to getting it prepped and primed for future RV trips with Pickles.
Melisa has always been drawn to the spotlight – at 8-years-old, she asked her mom to get her a talent agent. After recovering from the shock that her middle child even knew what a talent agent was, her mother did exactly as she was asked. It led to small roles in movies and television – including a commercial for Coca-Cola.
It was this experience in front of the camera – and a keen interest in the news of the world around her – that led Melisa to pursue a career in broadcast journalism after college. She spent the first portion of her career working in local news in Florida and North Carolina, covering everything from mundane city council meetings to record-breaking hurricane seasons.
After a few years, the luster of being on camera while simultaneously being her own camera operator and editor wore off. That’s when she made the move back to her hometown of Atlanta to work for CNN.
Melisa brings years of experience as a writer to the Idea Decanter team. She also has an eye for detail – and fact-checking. The last thing she wants to be is inaccurate.
When she isn’t churning out content for Idea Decanter, she’s writing creatively – sharing stories about her life both on stage performing standup comedy and on her podcast