It was an unseasonably warm day in early March when I (David) sat down with The Story Shop’s Creative Operations Director Sarah King. King has been on the team for just over a year and has transformed the way that The Story Shop works in her short tenure. She was a bit nervous because, by her own admission, she hates talking about herself. Paradoxically she’s a “professional” conversationalist and her infectious, boisterous laugh is disarming even for the most uptight personalities. It’s hard not to like her, an advantage that her humility rarely allows her to exploit.
I asked questions and in-between laughs and an occasional look that told this interviewer that she was annoyed at having to do this, she answered.
D: So tell the people about yourself. Who are you?
S: Geez, okay. (laughs) You started off with sort of a big question. Well… I’m a mom. I’m a creative. I really care about being an authentic person and being a good human. I love hard work. I think that’s a big thing that defines me. I don’t mind working really hard. It’s something that energizes me.
D: Okay so I’ll take a quick turn and ask a less introspective question. What’s your favorite story?
S: Hmm… That’s a hard one. I guess if I was going to go with a movie, I would say The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a book too, but I’m talking the movie. I love that the main character stays so committed to himself. That he doesn’t allow his identity to be stripped away in a place that it wouldn’t be difficult for that to happen. He embraces and forms these really meaningful relationships in a terrible situation. That is inspiring. It’s a story about the human spirit to me. I love it.
D: Okay so let’s talk shop… What’s your favorite part of your job?
S: I love working with our clients. I don’t say that just to say it. I really mean that. They are all different but they’re all also fighting for something good in the world. That thread between all of them. It makes what we do feel like we’re serving something bigger. It’s not a job really. What we do feels like really important work. Everything that we touch is really important to our clients and getting to see that kind of energy and commitment across different industries is really cool.
D: So that’s the good stuff. What are the challenges?
S: Organizing a bunch of creative people. (laughs) That’s really difficult. Plus we are working all the time. We always have projects going and that is challenging when you have artists being artists. (laughs) We make it work though.
D: What draws you to our work as a Shop?
S: I think that everything we do really has a purpose-driven component. It’s hard not to be invested in the work of our clients. They’re doing really amazing things and its hard not to care. All of the stuff we work on is real to someone and I love working to serve that. People laugh at me when I say that I often cry when I watch our work.
D: What’s working here like?
S: It’s really clichè but it’s like family. We’re small but very efficient and kind of… mighty. (laughs) Of course there are different personalities but we all really care about and need each other. We’re super selective about who we invite into work on the team because we know that we don’t want to mess up the really good vibe we have. It’s part of what keeps us going. In fact it might be the thing.
D: What do when you’re not here?
S: I hang with my kids. Do freelance photography. (INTERVIEWER NOTE: Sarah is a mega-talented photog. Seriously.) I drink some red wine, watch LOTS of Netflix and read. Oh and I garden. I love to get my hands dirty. It’s like therapy.
D: What’s the best food you can cook?
S: (laughs) Fried chicken and it’s weird because I don’t even eat it. But according to my family that’s the best thing I make. So I make it and watch them eat it.
D: What makes you laugh the most?
S: (laughs) EVERYTHING. (laughs) I laugh all the time. My laugh carries too so you can hear it kind of everywhere. Plus I think lots of different things are funny so… (laughs)
D: That’s it. It wasn’t too bad was it?
S: I mean, I’m glad it’s over but no. (laughs)