Carrie Markel, co-founder of the Lean Lab, talks revitalizing Kansas City, working with brands and more
Twitter handle: @carriemmhmm
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Current neighborhood: Pendleton Heights (over by Cliff Drive — if you don’t know, you don’t know)
What I do: Marketing (design, copywriting, strategy), personal training at GymKC and serving on the board of the organization I co-founded: the Lean Lab.
What’s your addiction? Talking about brands, people watching and leg days.
What’s your game? I play this game with friends called Essence. You choose a category, and everyone has to go around and choose what “essence” of that category fits your personality. For instance: “If you were a car, which one would you be?”
What’s your drink? When I’m not drinking wine? The New Yorker at the Phoenix. If not that, whiskey, neat.
Where’s dinner? Usually at home — salmon and purple cauliflower.
What’s on your KC postcard? The GymKC. It’s Kansas City’s hidden gem.
Finish these sentences: “Kansas City got it right when …” It invested and recognized its incredible pool of artistic talent.
“Kansas City screwed up when …” Revitalization of downtown KC failed to reach the communities east of Troost.
“Kansas City needs …” A serious dialogue about the intersections of race, class and privilege.
“As a kid, I wanted to be …” I still don’t know the answer to this question. But I do know I want to retire as a feminist-theory professor at a small, liberal-arts college while also naming nail-polish colors. Because, irony.
“In five years, I’ll be …” Developing strategy behind the world’s leading brands in a culturally conscious manner.
“I always laugh at …” My dog, Bear. He is the least bearlike dog ever.
“I’ve been known to binge watch …” I binge-listen to podcasts like Call Your Girlfriend; Death, Sex & Money; Radiolab; and Serial (of course).
“I can’t stop listening to …” Mura Masa. He’ll blow your mind.
“My dream concert lineup is …” Seinabo Sey, Haim, Marian Hill.
“I just read …” A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
What’s your hidden talent? All-American swimmer. I can cruise the length of a pool for a long time.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? It used to be the tamale at the Local Pig’s restaurant, but since they’ve closed, I’m in search of the next best thing.
The best advice I ever got: “You’re insatiable — you have to constantly be learning — keep doing that.”
Worst advice? Pigeon yourself into a role and stay there.
My sidekick? Can you have two? Katie Boody and Matt Bishop. They compel me to think in radically different ways.
What is your spirit animal? This is an Essence question! I’ve been told it is a hawk.
Who is your hero? Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
What is your nemesis? Stereotypes.
What’s your greatest struggle right now? Finding my perfect “niche” where I feel competent, passionate and challenged.
My favorite toy as a child: Books.
My dating triumph/tragedy? Triumph: Tweeting about a Mildred’s breakfast sandwich and it resulting in my current relationship. How’s that for social-media ROI?
My brush with fame: I’m related to Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, who was also elected to Colorado’s Congress but died before being sworn in.
My soapbox: If we shelter our children from the realities of the world, there’s no hope in solving its greatest problems. Truth is greater than ignorance.
Who’s sorry now? No one’s sorry, but I remember a lot of people telling me that the Lean Lab was a pet project, a whim that would never amount to anything. And yet, it’s now taking our city’s education community by storm. It’s been an honor to watch how people in KC have rallied around the movement for education innovation.
My recent triumph: Going back to school at KCAI for graphic design. It’s invigorating.