Category: Fashion
November 3rd, 2014

Mortar + Tyra Banks: What Happens When Two Badasses Collide.

Tyra Banks is a whole lot more than just the creator of the Smize. She’s the world’s most influential supermodel and super-businesswoman. And when it comes to social media, Tyra is the boss. From fierce-faced selfies to clever quips, Tyra shares with her fans nonstop, and they love every second of it. If you need proof, just scan the daily comments from her 31 million plus followers.

Mortar recently partnered with the superwoman to bring her new cosmetics brand, TYRA beauty, to life. Because one of her core messages is to give people the power to be the CEO of their lives, Tyra developed her business as a direct selling model where the products are sold by independent contractors that she calls ‘Beautytainers.’ And when it came to brand personality, ordinary wouldn’t cut it: she wanted to zag where the beauty industry would zig. If there’s one thing to know about Mortar, it’s that we love to turn ideas on their heads—which made us and Tyra the perfect partners in crime.

Our task was to turn this layered narrative into a cohesive strategy that would captivate the world. Challenge accepted. Turning complex messages into a compelling story is, like, totes our thing. We began by developing a brand mantra that would serve as the TYRA beauty rallying cry:

Beauty. Business. Badassery.

We knew the TYRA beauty brand needed to be as loud and fierce as Tyra herself. And “badassery” was a word that Tyra could truly own—it gave her the power to carve out and own a space in the crowded world of cosmetics. From there, we crafted a crisp positioning statement and a smart, confident tone of voice that would inform every facet of the TYRA beauty brand.

Our work for Tyra sparked a social media shockwave: 292,165 likes, 15,040 comments, and 3,831 shares, for total engagement of 843,164. It even got the attention of major celebs: Alicia Keys, Russell Simmons, Ivanka Trump, and Karlie Kloss, just to name a few. (Yo, Russ, let us know where we should send our hip hop demo tape. We’re basically the next Jay-Z.)

And not surprisingly, we got plenty o’ love from TyTy herself.

Tyra came to us looking for badass, and we brought it. Though we’re still looking to her to help us finesse our booty tooch.

May 9th, 2014

Mortar Creative Director Featured in HOW Magazine.

It’s official. Brian Scheyer, our digital creative director/resident fashion designer, is famous. HOW magazine recently interviewed him for a story on creatives who live double lives. We’re pretty sure Brian has at least twenty-seven different lives, three of which are superheroes on other planets. But this is a nice way of making him feel like part of our society.

We’ve excerpted the segment on Brian below. To read about three more hybrid creatives, you can buy the May issue of HOW magazine here.





By Stephanie Orma


By day, Brian Scheyer is creative director at the San Francisco-based ad agency Mortar, where he develops print and interactive campaigns, directs commercials, and leads a creative staff. By night, he’s fashion designer of the award-winning label gr.dano, a womenswear line with a distinct architectural style. Launched in 2006 with his wife Jill Giordano, the duo designs everything together, from sketching ideas and selecting fabrics to draping silhouettes.

But while Scheyer has a 20-year graphic design career working with brands like Dockers, Google, Yahoo!, and Kohler, his fashion training has been mostly DIY. “Essentially, I learned the process of fashion design through osmosis,” Scheyer says. While he was dating Giordano, she enrolled in the fashion design program at the Academy of Art University San Francisco. “I was part of her education the whole way through. We would work on projects together; I would ask questions and learn the process,” Scheyer says. “But when I started to apply my graphic design eye to fashion design–that’s when it clicked.”


FIND THE CREATIVE THREADS AND MAKE MAGIC. It’s Scheyer’s ability to see the parallels in his endeavors that’s played a crucial role in his seamless second career jump. “All the things that make a great graphic designer–like visually understanding the problem, solving it in the most simplistic way, and having a cohesive voice throughout all the campaign touchpoints–are the same when you’re developing a fashion collection.” He advises, “Take the knowledge and creative voice you’ve already honed in your first career, and refocus it into your next venture. That’s what’ll make you stand out.”

Scheyer is all about process, rather than outcome. Many times, he’ll find himself working through a graphic design challenge and realize later that the same thinking can be applied to his fashion line. “You don’t immediately come up with the answer,” he says. “It’s that journey that gets you there. So you have to allow yourself to dig in, find those nuances and slowly develop it into something tangible. That’s where the magic is.”

FUSE CREATIVITY INTO YOUR EVERYDAY. Scheyer treats every endeavor–not just his careers–as a creative exercise. “When I haven’t been food shopping in two weeks because I’ve been busy and only have a couple things in my fridge, I could easily order-in; or I could try to make something interesting,” he says. By constantly sharpening your chops, you’re readying yourself to take on that next venture.

PURSUE WITH A PASSION. How does Scheyer actually balance two 40-hour-a-week jobs? With a crazy amount of hard work, energy and passion he finds every opportunity–when he’s not at his full-time creative director day job, of course–to work on the gr.dano label. That means evenings, weekends, and even vacations. “Fashion design is a tough business,” Scheyer says. “It takes a lot of work and dedication, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like work because I’m with my wife, the person I enjoy the most.”

He also finds keeping lists and prioritizing insanely crucial, as well as taking power naps and snagging a little time for himself. “Working on something you’re passionate about takes energy. It helps to go for a walk, zone out with your favorite song on loop and give your brain a rest,” Scheyer says. “Absorb all you can, practice your craft as much as possible. …And find that perfect blend of coffee and alcohol during the day.”