Director of Marketing Andrew Krebbs to step down after 12 years at The Gardens
October 4 marks the 12th anniversary of me arriving in Birmingham and it’s bittersweet that it will also mark my last day as Director of Marketing & Membership for The Friends.
An amazing opportunity has emerged for me and my partner, Jay, at the University of Vermont. We will soon be moving to Burlington.
The Gardens means so much to me. It is an amazing attraction and I am so very proud that my last month here it is being recognized as one of the best free attractions in the United States by USA TODAY.
The work we do here is very important to me, but what I will miss most is each of you. I cherish the relationships I have developed over the years while working at The Gardens. The Gardens is so very fortunate to have so many passionate individuals supporting it.
The Gardens has a very bright and promising future and I am excited about its next chapter.
12 years ago you welcomed this Hoosier with open arms and southern hospitality. I will never forget your kindness. I encourage you to stay in touch. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I embolden you to visit and support The Gardens often, live every moment, laugh every day, love beyond words and dance like nobody is watching.
With much respect and admiration,
Director of Marketing
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY IN THE GARDEN INDUSTRY
As a young boy, I was fascinated with growing plants. I’d collect seeds and build make-shift greenhouses out of plastic and scrap lumber. I loved watching them grow and then planting them in my parent’s flower beds where everyone could enjoy them. Looking back, I probably should have pursued an education in horticulture but that isn’t how my story in public gardens began. Instead I went to school at Indiana University and graduated with a degree in public health. Helping others has always been a part of me and working in a hospital promoting health seemed like the best fit.
Soon after college, however, I was offered an opportunity to join Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It wasn’t until long after I accepted the position did I see the power of public gardens in promoting health. Gardening and plants have an amazing ability to heal the body and the soul. As a marketer I have the coolest job promoting gardens and how they make the world a better place.
TELL US ABOUT A RECENT PROJECT YOU WORKED ON
You can’t make it through a day without someone talking about social media. Like it or not it has become embedded into our daily lives. Recently, I was preparing our 2015 annual report. I had a couple of challenges I wanted to overcome. First, we often struggle sharing with our donors the diversity and inclusion of our guests. Second, annual reports are traditionally a printed piece that our established audiences enjoy, but millennials don’t typically seek them out. The solution was to incorporate our printed piece with the power of Instagram. We filled the report with photos our guests took in their special moments and named the campaign Your Stories are Our Success. To our delight, we were overwhelmed with requests from these young guests for copies and received an outpouring of support from donors. Don’t be afraid to try new things – they just might work!
WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT WORKING IN THIS INDUSTRY?
I’m proof that successful gardens take a wide array of talent and expertise. From horticulturalists all the way to the ticket agent, we share a passion for plants and the effect they have on our lives. Public gardens are beautiful, but it’s isn’t just because they are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Their beauty comes from the power they have to bring people together regardless of how different someone might be. Gardens celebrate diversity in all of its forms and it’s something we should all take more pride in. My life is forever changed and I have public gardens to thank.
Mark D. Sikes comes to Taste in Spades in October
Mark D. Sikes was born in Texas, and he spent time in Nashville and Atlanta before settling on the west coast. So there is a Southern sensibility to his style with the laidback vibes of his current home. He stays busy as both an interior designer and a fashion designer, and he'll be releasing his first book next year.
He comes to Antiques at The Gardens on Saturday, October 8 as part of Taste in Spades presented by LICOA, ADAC, Ainsworth-Noah, Edelman Leather, Jerry Pair and Paul +. He'll be part of a Design Panel alongside Gen and Ben Sohr and Eddie Ross. Tickets for the Design Panel can be purchased online.
Before his upcoming visit, Sikes shared more about his style, his work with the Southern Living Idea House and his fashion line, MDS Stripes.
Was it difficult collaborating on the Southern Living Idea House with a lot of other people or did you gain inspiration from working with such a diverse group?
By no means is it difficult. I've done lots of show houses, and this one was a little bit easier because we all collaborated in the beginning on the creative vision of what the house was going to look like. So there was a holistic point of view of how it would flow well. I think that made this house more special than others that I have done in the past because most of the time others don't know what each other is doing. That was cool.
What can you share about the space in this house that you designed?
I did the living room; it's a really amazing room that is on the main floor and connects to the master bedroom, which is kind of unusual. It also has doors that open up to the porches around the house. It has great light, it's a really large space and I really didn't want to treat the living room as a traditional, formal living room; I wanted it to be a room where multiple things could be happening at once. There's a fireplace on one end with a little bit of seating around it. It serves as more of a sitting area to read and reflect and to chat. And there's another area on the other side of the living room with a little more seating which serves as a place that you could have multiple groups of people. Whether you're having a cocktail party or watching TV or whatever. It's a really great space.
What is the most important room in the average home and what's the most important piece of furniture in that room?
People live in their family rooms and great rooms today more than anything. I hate to say that's the most important room because it's not as formal or traditional as you're used to - and I also think the other important room is the master bedroom. Because people spend most of their time in their bedroom. We sleep eight hours a night, so it's important.
You'll have a book out next year. What can we expect from it?
It's called Beautiful, and the book kind of named itself. After I shot all of my projects and began putting them into chapters, page after page, the word that would pop to mind was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. That's how the title came to be.
It's different than most interior design coffee table books that you see. It's not separated by entry or living room or dining rooms, the chapters are more by theme or color story. You can see in the book where I draw inspiration from, whether that be iconic interiors from the past or gardens or iconic people or iconic destinations. There's a mood board quality of the way that things are laid out so that you get a sense of where the inspiration came from.
How did you decide to launch Stripes, the women's fashion line? With everything else that you have going on, is it overwhelming?
My partner, Michael, works with me on the MBS Stripes fashion line. It wasn't completely thought out, other than the fact that I love blue and white and I love stripes and it felt like there was a need to create a stripes fashion line for women that wasn't just basic or utilitarian, but also was feminine.
I feel like, in general, stripes are a universal love. I've never met anyone that doesn't like a stripe. So it sort of happened organically, and we've been wildly surprised about how well it's done and how it's taken off. We started with a core selection or a core assortment and now we're doing four collections a year - more robust collections. We just started out with more knits. It's been amazing to see how well it has been received and how quickly it's growing.
Why do you think that stripes is such a great look?
It's classic and timeless, but I also believe that a striped t-shirt or a striped woven shirt - it doesn't matter what your personal style is if your urban or bohemian or ladylike or whether you're more tomboyish, a stripe can work with anyone's sensibility. It's also a thing that can be high or low casual or a mix of things to be more elegant. And it's graphic, so it adds a graphic element to any outfit. And I think most importantly, it feels very All-American. That's a sensibility that people like.
How were you able to combine your Southern and Midwest influences with your current west coast style?
My grandparents were from the Midwest and there, I really got a sense of home, a sense of being, a sense of place. In the South, you garner a sense of tradition, lifestyle and entertaining. And you don't get that in other parts of the country. In California, there's a way of living here. It's casual aspect to it, but there's also an elegant aspect to it. The thing about California which has come to define my design work is a connection between the indoors and the outdoors. And creating spaces that maximize your living opportunities because they're connected. That's one of the best parts of living in California and California design.
To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.
About Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.
Open everyday: Dawn to Dusk
2612 Lane Park Road
Birmingham, AL 35223