Issue 2
March 15, 2019

How We Built The Assembly

We’d like to introduce you to the brilliant creatives of color that helped make our passion project a reality, as well as some of the challenges and resources that helped get us here.

by Amina Akhtar & Lincoln Mondy
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This piece originally appeared in Issue #2. Subscribe to get our bi-weekly newsletter! - Amina and Lincoln

Simone Cotton / Graphic Designer

Simone is the brains behind our look! Amina and I found her through a Slack community for minorities in media called MimConnect, and she was such a joy to work with. Simone understood our vision and created a brand package that anchors our project.

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Arshum Rouhanian & Don Randolph / Director & Director of Photography

We met Arshum at a random house party oger a year ago. After the customary 3-day waiting period, we friended him on Facebook and eventually saw posts about his short film Moonlight Suburbia. When we were looking for a Director for our launch video, Arshum was our first thought. He was joined by Don, who served as the Director of Photography. Arshum was instrumental in the development of a script and concept. Our close friend Stephanie Ciaccia offered to help us manage the shoot and was absolutely crucial in making sure that we didn’t kill each other! We rented a local DC spot through Peerspace (like Airbnb but for studio/event rental) and shot the launch video in two-days with a group of wonderful friends who agreed to appear in it.

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Joy Bullock / Photographer

Joy is an incredible photographer who shot our launch photos. We had the best time with her because she made us feel really comfortable in front of the camera. The photographs of us sitting on a couch were taken in Amina’s living room — it’s not usually that clean!

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Gyeongbae Jung / Web Designer

We met Gyeongbae through mutual friends and invited him to the second-day of filming for the launch video. After filming wrapped, we talked about our plans for the newsletter and Gyeongbae mentioned that he was interested in building the website. Of course we quickly followed-up and enlisted his talent because listen — we know 0% about web development. Gyeongbae was incredibly patient with us and built a website that’s both beautiful and also incredibly efficient.

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Our biggest challenges leading up to the launch are probably not a huge surprise to you; time and money.

Time

We both work 9-6pm jobs so The Assembly was built on nights and weekends. Well, the nights and weekends that weren’t taken up by our day jobs. We had to be really intentional and organized, so we relied on Slack and extensive google calendar invites. Luckily we live next door to each other so we were more flexible and worked on the newsletter whenever we had time.

Money

Honestly, money impacted our timeline the most. Since this is a passion project and there’s no revenue yet we had to spread out payments and priorities over about a year.

A shortlist of everything we spent money on, in order: website domain, Squarespace subscription, graphic design, branding materials (business cards, stickers from Moo.com), launch video, website development, 125+ letters to family and friends with branding materials, Typeform subscription, Later subscription and Airtable subscription.

Free resources we relied on:

-202Creates - we built The Assembly as part of Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's creative residency program. The program connected us with so many wonderful creatives, as well as free studio space.

-Product Hunt - a really incredible tech discovery site for new apps, websites, products, and resources.

-Newsletterguide.org, a “201 guide” for journalistic newsletters from the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School, Lenfest Institute, and Yellow Brim