skinade collagen drink

WEEK ONE – February 26 – March 4

Yum! And whew! Its four o’clock in the afternoon and my first box of skinade just arrived – of course I had to try it right away. Yum! Because it’s delicious, and Whew! Because I’m so glad it tastes good as I’m planning on having it daily for a three month trial.

So who am I, and why am I doing this? My name is Rachel and I’m always personally interested in health and nutrition. And professionally as a website and graphic designer, I like to stay up to date on high-end beauty treatments as many of my clients are in the lifestyle and/or beauty industry. I’m turning fifty next month, an age which I think is great for experiencing something like trying a collagen drink to help skin hydration – I have plenty of aging, sun-damage skin to test skinade upon.

I purchase all products mentioned below from clients. And, full disclosure, I learned about skinade from my client Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics who carries it, and I did not pay for the first month’s samples I am taking during this trial.

I’m not changing my usual routine with the exception of a daily serving of skinade. Hair care from Halo Blow Dry Bar – Rene Furterer shampoo and conditioner. For my face, I wash with whatever is on hand and if in the shower, I use a Clarisonic. AM, I use SkinCeuticals C.E. Ferulic and PM, Revision Skincare Hydrating Serum. And morning and evening, I use Hayes Valley Medical Skincare Restorative Moisture. Once a month I get a facial with microcurrent from Olive Branch Spa.

Finally, I use a lot of sunscreen – year-round. Hayes Valley Medical Skincare BB Cream Perfection 6-in-1 Cream, SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense, and ColoreScience Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen – all from Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics.

Back to that first peachy sip of my first skinade . . . such a nice clean flavor. The other flavor is unique – mangosteen I have to presume as it’s a taste with which I’m not too familiar. I’ll look forward to each daily drink.

By day seven, my face feels like I just had a facial, with softer, suppler, and hydrated-feeling skin. And in general, my skin all over feels softer – elbows even!

I took a peek at and read that most people felt there skin was more hydrated and soft by day 4 to 6. Yep! Me too! It says that by days 10 to 14, “skin is more smooth, radiant, glowing and more uniform.” Well I hope I continue upon this path!

WEEK TWO – March 5 – 11

I love that I’m getting an extra dose of Omegas 3 and 6 in this product as I’m a vegetarian. And yes, I know the collagen in skinade is sourced from fish scales – not vegetarian – but I figure by the time they are processed down to chains of amino acids, it’s just biological components.

Wednesday – 4am hot flash! Silver lining is that I had my skinade close and it was very refreshing and distracting. Plus, I figure, drinking it in the early hour’s means the best absorption as tummy empty and nice long time until my morning green tea caffeine which hinders Vitamin C efficacy. But no, I don’t plan to set alarms for daily pre-dawn wake-up for my collagen drink.

WEEK THREE – March 12 – 18

I’ve been getting compliments on my skin – overall healthy glow. I’m still enjoying taking skinade each day. The travel sachets are so convenient. I have a stash at home and also in my purse. Usually I take at home, in the evening with my iron pill. A few times, I’ve poured the sachet into a glass at a restaurant. And they are energizing when added to a water bottle during a hike.

I’m noticing the changes to the feel of my skin. Since my teens, I’ve had acne scars along the sides of my eyes and mouth. Usually I can feel little indents and roughness, but I can’t feel them anymore, just smooth skin.

WEEK FOUR – March 19 – 25

Five days in the Mohave Desert! Usually my skin instantly feels different in the dryness. Plus, I’m camping and did not even bother to bring my usual skin care products and am mostly just splashing water and applying sunscreen layer after layer. My skin felt great – hydrated in a way it never is in the desert.

Another pleasure is the feeling when applying sunscreen – my skin is smoother. Lotions seem to glide on.

WEEK FIVE – March 26 – April 1

It’s been one month. I believe my skin is more uniform. Here are a few before and after photos. The fine lines next to my eyes are less deep.

WEEK SIX – April 2 – 8

I met with my client, Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics and it was fun when Linda saw my skin. She thought I’d been using topical products that were working, but actually the only change is the skinade. Her comment was glowing!

WEEK SEVEN – April 9 – 15

About this time, I noticed I had not been sick with a cold I always get around March. Maybe the added vitamins in skinade are helping?

WEEK EIGHT – April 16 – 22

I’ve been in the high desert of Utah since the 9th – including hiking around Moab and Arches National Park – and my skin feels great. It never does here. Every other visit, I’ve had unpleasant dry across my cheeks and lips. Also, when visiting here, I usually get breakouts, but none this visit. My skin is smooth and even.

Red Cliff Lodge and Arches NP

I’m also wondering if skinade is effecting my over-all hydration, as I usually get nose bleeds in the desert and at higher altitudes, but none on this trip.

My fiftieth birthday! Feeling good. Loving my skin right now. I’m going to be back in the Bay Area soon and will order more skinade to complete the three months try-out. Then I’ll take “after” photos.


We always love a call from MenloVille La Vita Verde for a photoshoot as we know it’s going to be something beautiful. This time, we were at at Sand Hill Business Park shooting the incredible gardens created by Lisa of MenloVille.

It’s a huge campus and it took a long time to work our way around to cover all the wide-angle vistas down to the thoughtful details in the gardens designs.

Lisa’s talent in landscaping is how she creates layers within each segment of the garden using details like succulents planted in rocks, crystals, and statuary. She’s done a beautiful job updating the 1970’s style of the campus gardens – making the overall vibe of the property more modern, interesting, and inviting to a visitor, and bringing places of rest, socialization, and inspiration to hard-working employees.

We also included some “artistic” filtering on some of the shots. Here’s the entire album…


This job of ours brings us in contact with special and amazing things and people all the time. And if that’s not enough to be grateful for, our job – being self-employed – gives us freedom to take off from our desks and pursue special and amazing things. Here’s one example.

Many of you remember Kathleen Neves from when she worked at SkinSpirit. This year, she’s hiking the Pacific Crest Trail – all 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Wow! We’ve been excited since she announced her plans last year. And we’ve been self-styling ourselves as her trail angels as she hikes through “our” territory between Tahoe and Truckee.

(Catch up on her journey so far and adventures to come at: You can even sponsor her at with gifts of as little as $10 going towards laundry, food, and showers.)

We were there to meet her on July 19th at the Donner Pass Truck Stop where the PCT crosses under Hwy 80.

Whew – 8000 feet up, in the smoke-filled air, at nearly 100 degrees – and she had hiked eight miles on the rocky and steep terrain already that day! So we had to do our best to spoil her and return her to the trail the following day clean, well-rested, and well-fed.

We were so, so lucky to get a walk-in rate for a lake-side condo. Lake swimming!

Kathleen wanted In-N-Out Burgers and root beer – done! (Along with a hot shower and toiletries.)

In the evening, we drove into Truckee and met her trail partner, Pierre-Luc AKA Grit, and John took us out for a big dinner.

The following morning, the smoke really settled over Donner Lake:

John made eggs, pancakes and bacon to fill the hikers. We rested and enjoyed the lake. I even had some time to get in a lake-side sunscreen Instagram post for Hayes Valley Medical & Esthetics:

We dropped Kathleen and Grit off at the PCT – mission accomplished.

We are grateful to all our clients who helped us to work around this little trip – changing their schedules and working with the short notice so we could meet someone who is hiking so far. Thank you. And thank you, Kathleen, for being THAT PERSON who charges after adventure and works so hard towards such an incredible goal.


Photographer John Mangelsdorf

Photo shoots are expensive – even if you hire us, with our lower rates (more info on why we charge less and our marketing photo portfolio.) So you want to get it right, right?

Many times over the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve been paid for photos never used because our client was not prepared. For example, un-ironed-clothing. Yes, we can Photoshop out wrinkles, but why pay us $$$ when you can be prepared with perfect fabric with just a run of an iron? Pretty much everything listed below comes from an actual experience with a client.

Please run through this checklist to avoid costly mistakes in your up-coming shoot:


• Stage for photos, not your usual display. As you set up, look through the lens on a camera (cell phone is fine), instead of with your naked eye. Things look different through a frame, so your usual set-up might not photograph well.

• Be sure everyone involved is aware and prepared.

• It pays to spend a week looking at the light at various times of day at the place of the shoot. Then schedule the shoot for the best time of day. Absolute best is with plenty of sunlight, but without strong shadows or harsh light, like on an overcast day.

• To keep costs down, have a shot plan made in advance. It’s a way to make sure you get all the shots you need and to provide a checklist so no shot is forgotten. Can be a collection of photos on your cell phone, written notes, or a Pinterest board. Look at previous photos of your business – what worked and looked good? Make a note to duplicate the shot. What’s needed – models, props, lighting – to get the shots on your shot list? Here’s a very rough shot list so you can see how little effort is needed – just grab a collection of photos you want to duplicate:
Shot List Sample

• Remember this is marketing and branding. Be sure all props, staging, attire is a direct reflection of your brand. It’s not about what you might like, it’s about what will make potential clients interested as well as what consistently supports and promotes your brand. If your brand color palette is calm, be sure no one wears red, if your brand is very professional, hide the ceramic kitten vase – that type of thing.

• Essentially, be prepared. Everything staged and clean before we get there. The better prepared you are, the more you will like the results. And you’ll save money by shortening the time we spend shooting and/or Photoshopping.


Tell your staff well in advance there will be a shoot. Be sure they are very clear on your business’ brand and how you wish your staff to be presented.

• Is there a uniform? Make sure they have enough advanced notice to have it cleaned and pressed.
• Do you require name-tags? Be sure they are clean and pinned on evenly.
• Hair – have a clearly defined outline of what’s acceptable. (We once had a client tell us our shots were no good, but when we dug further, it was because their staff member’s bangs were too long. This type of directive must come from you, the boss.)
• Lab coats – we’ve learned from photographing our medical clients that wrinkles pop from lab coats. Iron them!
• Iron or steamer onsite. This has saved many-a-shoot. Consider it, especially if clothing or fabrics are key to your brand.
• Don’t wear clothing with writing, logos, or reflective elements, like on jogging gear.
• Easy on jewelry and printed fabrics.
• Let us know in advance if you want candid shots, head-shots, client interaction.


It pays to spend a week looking at the light at various times of day on your building exterior. Note when there are no deep shadows. Then schedule the shoot for the best time of day. Absolute best is with plenty of light on your building, but without shadows or strong light, like on an overcast day.

• If you have street parking in front of your building, fill the spots with your staff’s cars – then roll out right as we start shooting so there’s no parked cars blocking the view of your building.
• Don’t schedule a photoshoot of your building exterior on trash pickup day!
• Remove all posters, clutter from windows.
• Clean windows.
• If it’s an evening shoot, be sure all light bulbs are working.
• Tell your neighbors, if relevant, that you are paying for a shoot and ask them not to put trash outside.
• Take out all seasonal decor (unless this is a seasonal shoot) – for example, if there’s a Christmas tree in your window, you won’t be able to use the shot for marketing in summer. Non-seasonal, non-dated decor is the best for general marketing shots.
• If this is a seasonal shoot, be sure all decor is perfect before we arrive.
• Also before we arrive, look at your building exterior with the shot in mind – often what looks better in general, does not work for a photo. Stand in the place you want the shot(s) done and make sure all looks great.
• Do you have permission? Occasionally, we’ve run into problems with an HOA or building management not allowing commercial photography. Be sure all permissions have been organized before the shoot.
• If the photographer will need to stand in a street to get the shots, be sure there’s someone to look out for traffic.


Clean, stage, organize! It costs $$$ for us to Photoshop out dirt on walls, messy areas, monitors with ugly screen savers, wires, etc.

• Plan on computer monitors being off.
• As with the exterior shoot planning, check the light at various times of day – schedule the shoot during good, strong light.
• Make sure all product displays are perfect.
• Take time, well before we arrive, to scan the location for any clutter, any items that do not reflect your brand, or speak well of your business.
• Hide or tidy wiring – if possible, unplug electronics and remove.
• Make sure all wall art is hung evenly.
• Review the areas you want shot – any bright colours or high-contrast will draw the eye, so make sure that anything along these lines is hidden away unless they are part of the brand – or you wish them to be featured. For example, we took a long time Photoshopping out neon flyers for a local farmers’ market from one client’s photos.
• Trim dead flowers from displays.
• Will we have easy access? Do we need name badges? Security codes? A guide? There’s been times we’ve traveled to a site to shoot and not been able to access the building!

Food PhotographyPRODUCT SHOTS

The best product shots are done with our light box at our offices – see photo to left. Especially if you want white backgrounds. But that means transporting/shipping products which can be costly.

If we shoot at your location:

• Clean, neat display that will look best photographed

• Clutter-free background

• If you have props to use, please have them ready to go – be sure they are clean and to your brand.

• If possible, have us set up our equipment away from clients, so we do not disrupt your business.

• Price tags and stickers – your call! Sometimes they can be Photoshopped out, but that’s $$$ (see below).

Photoshop Price Tags


Having people in your shots can really make them.

• Be sure you have written permission from the model – before the shoot – to use them in marketing.
• Confirm and reconfirm time and location with models (Emphasis)– any delay means you are paying us with no work being done.
• Be clear with models on clothing. No patterns, logos, text, reflective or glow-in-the-dark material.
• Be sure you are all on the same page with model styling – are they doing their own hair and makeup? Be sure to plan ahead.

Hiring professional models is usually not an option. Client models make for great marketing, if you have clients who are willing to trade product/services for use of their image for marketing. Staff members in plain clothes or family and friends have worked in the past.


These can be candid or staged. Please talk to us well in advance if you wish to show your business in action.

Here’s a photo that was useful for print and online marketing of a jewelry designer sketching at a table with her equipment.

NOTE: This checklist is intended for our typical client – a small business or sole proprietor. Photo shoot prep for larger businesses is far more complex.


Googles New Indexing

Flashback photo to Rachel and her brother, Iain, looking surly when told they were not getting what they wanted. Cute (occasionally) in children, but not for website owners who want their hard work recognized and their website displayed prominently in search engine result pages.

Google has recently changed the way they index websites and has brought down the gavel on sites that do not display well on mobile devices.

Now that people use their phones and tablets more than laptops and desktop computers to browse the web, Google has made this change to better serve their users and give them better access to the information they are seeking and that is designed to be easy for them to access.

We have looked at web traffic statistics for most of our clients’ websites and confirmed mobile users now account for over 50% of all traffic. But many of our clients still have non-mobile websites. Globally, about 17% of small businesses do not have a responsive site.

If you have a non-mobile-friendly site then you will be ranked lower than if you have a mobile-responsive website. If you have a separate mobile site, from your main website, only your mobile site pages will be indexed. This is according to multiple articles we have reviewed, as well as communications directly from Google.

So if you don’t have a mobile-responsive website, the time has come to put this on your marketing priorities list for 2018.

Besides the new Google indexing, non-responsive sites can damage your business in other ways:

  • Mobile devices are projected to reach 79% of global internet use by the end of 2018.
  • 88% of consumers who search for a type of business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.
  • Average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to desktop conversion rates.
  • 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important.
  • According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a site on mobile if they had trouble accessing it and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 customers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.
  • 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.

Please contact John if you’re in need of a new, mobile-friendly website.



Jollity Farms is in the Sierra Foothills, near Placerville – and we love it! We visited in April to snuggle with the new-born kids and to take some product shots.

One thing our client wanted was a shot of their new display case full of cheese. But we did not want to waste their entire stock, so we sacrificed five containers, and took thirty photos of those same five containers in different positions (like the photo you see below) and then merged all shots together to create a “full” fridge.

It was not all work – in fact mostly play. Thanks, Charlie and Mary Lisa, for our fun (and delicious) visit to your farm.

Check out the full album, or scroll down for some adorable goat photos…

Visit the farm! 5314 Marigold Mine Way, Garden Valley, California.

Trip Advisor

California Cheese Trail



Recently our client Hayes Valley Medical and Esthetics moved to a gorgeous new location in Marin. When promoting their grand opening we noticed their Google Map pin, which Google generates automatically for businesses, did not show along with other nearby businesses on larger map views. This is because Google algorithmically determines when a business location shows on Google Maps, and it is based on factors like how long it has been at the current address as well as the number of Google reviews for the business. (HINT: Ask your good customers for Google reviews!) So you do not have control over when your Place Label shows as the user zooms in on your general location on Google Maps.

The below screen captures show that at a larger scale, HVME does not show until you zoom in closely on their location.

google map hvme not showing

Zoom in closer and it does show:

google map hvme showing