Head outdoors this holiday season!

Audubon Society: While it’s true that many birds head south for the winter, plenty are NYC lifers! The Audubon Society, which has been helping to conserve birds and their habitats in NYC for over 40 years, is a great place to get active in the local outdoors and nature conservancy community. The Audubon Society hosts over 200 education programs a year, including bird outings, classes, and volunteer events, among others…even in the winter! REIT has worked with them in many iterations, including designing their new logo and website, which you can check out here.

Little Island: Rain or shine, Little Island is one of my favorite public parks in the city! A quick 10 minute walk from my apartment, this park offers incredible waterfront and city views, textured greenery and seasonal gardens, and a dynamic, architectural layout that sparks my creativity. The park is free between the hours of 6am-9pm (winter hours) and in the summertime hosts music and theater performances.

Gansevoort Peninsula: Although it’s not yet beach season, Manhattan has something to celebrate come the warmer months — Gansevoort Peninsula, Manhattan’s first public beach opened to the public just this fall! With sand, a salt marsh, access to the Hudson River, and more, this park offers an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city. And for my fellow art fans, the beach features Day’s End, a public art installation by David Hammons donated to Hudson River Park by the Whitney Museum of American Art.


If now's not the time to indulge...
I'm not sure what time will be!

Eat2explore: Treat yourself and your children to the only award-winning experiential cooking kit designed to bring cultural education alive through the exploration of world cuisines! I’ve recently gotten into cooking with my family and I absolutely love it — any way to make this easier is a win in my book. Plus, the founder of eat2explore, Rowena Scher, is a fellow Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member, a fellow female founder, and previous EONY Mentorship Chair. I love to support my fellow entrepreneurs whenever I can! Learn more about the similarities between Rowena and me here.

Mil Gustos: Do you enjoy Mexican? Greek? Latin fare? Chicken wings? Salads? Look no further than Mil Gustos, the parent company of greatly loved delivery-only kitchens and well-known sit-down restaurants Miti Miti, Medusa Greek Taverna, Bogota Latin Bistro, Dirty Birdy Wings, and Fork n’ Greens. Your taste buds will thank you! Mil Gustos is an LGBTQIA+ and minority-owned business founded by George Constantinou, who also happens to be an EO member and good friend! What’s more, REIT had a hand in redesigning their brand logo and delivery-only kitchen concepts — check out our work here.

Big Gay Ice Cream: If you’re like me, there’s always room for ice cream. And if you haven’t checked out Big Gay Ice Cream yet, it’s about time! Not only do they have delicious ice cream flavors and unique treats, but they also offer catering and ice cream trucks for parties. And they may or may not be launching another sweet treat that REIT had a hand in designing…soon! Check our our conversation with managing partner Jon Chapski to learn more. 


What are you waiting for?! Get out there!

Union Square Holiday Market: One of my favorite activities when the weather gets cold is checking out the Union Square Holiday Market. They have one-of-a-kind gifts, art, and killer food! One of my favorite mac-and-cheese spots is a vendor every year. This year the market boasts over 150+ local vendors! Not sure where to start? The market offers a holiday gift guide with an interactive map (scroll to the bottom of the page) to get the wheels turning. I recommend getting there early…it gets busy!

Balloon Museum: The Balloon Museum, founded in Italy in 2020 and winner of the World Best Proprietary Format 2022, is an experience for the senses. Artwork and installations from fourteen international artists create an original concept and interactive experience that is truly memorable for adults and kids alike!

Royal Palms Brooklyn: Royal Palms isn’t your typical bar; it literally brings fun and games into play. With 10 floor shuffleboard courts, 8 group cabana booths, 19 rotating food trucks, and too many delicious drinks to count, this is a spot to take all of your out-of-town friends. And did I mention it’s cute? They pulled out all the stops for this bar! 


There's no time like the present to give yourself
the gift of presence.

Other Parents Like Me (OPLM): The holidays are often a time when family is top of mind. If you have a child experiencing mental health challenges, it’s important to take care of yourself, too. Other Parents Like Me (OPLM) is an online platform and virtual community supporting parents around the nation with access and support as they move from crisis to healing. I am one of these parents, which is why I cofounded OPLM with another parent like me, Casie Fariello. Learn more about our journey building this business here.

Sky Ting Yoga Studio: Sky Ting, located in Chinatown, blends Katonah yoga, pranayama practices, Vinyasa and Hatha yoga, and Taoist teachings to create a memorable yoga experience. With many teachers to choose from, and a virtual platform for those who prefer to practice at home, the studio offers many ways to support your physical and mental health this holiday season.

GOOD MOVE: GOOD MOVE is a dance and mindful fitness studio located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Founded by Jules Bakshi, professional dancer and choreographer, GOOD MOVE makes dancing accessible, even for those of us for whom movement doesn’t come easily! From dance and pilates classes, to workshops and trainings, this is a great way to mindfully connect mind and body…or a great gift for someone who may benefit from something like this.


C'mon, try your hand at it!

Muse Paintbar: This paint & sip is located right in my neighborhood, but there are many locations along the east coast! With classes almost every evening and different options to pick and choose from, this is a great gift or experience to flex your creative muscles. Plus, Muse Paintbar is founded by another female entrepreneur, which I am all for!

Knitty City: A little birdy told me that knitting is all the rage…and if it has staying power in New York, I believe it! Knitty City, located on the Upper West Side and founded in 2006 by a female entrepreneur by the name of Pearl, offers knitting and crochet classes, and a wide selection of yarns for any home project. From Men’s Night to Mending Circles, to WiPs Wednesdays, Knitty City has plenty of events and activities to get into the knitting craze.

Mud Matters: Try your hand at throwing on the wheel or create handbuilt pieces with friends and family. The studio offers intro classes, screenprinting workshops, and even longer-form classes for budding ceramicists. 

Can you believe we’re just around the corner from the 2023 holiday season?! It’s probably an understatement to say that we’re big fans of the holidays at Reit — we have a pretty famed history of gifting some pretty memorable gifts to our clients (if you know, you know)! As we approach this year’s holiday season, we’ve compiled the best of the best Reit holiday gifts from years’ past — and have also thrown in a few of our favorite corporate gifts to date that Reit has created, developed, and produced. Check our our favorites below! 

Interested in Reit creating a holiday gift for the 2023 season? You know where to find us…email and we’ll be in touch!

Live REIT: 2012

“Reitdesign wishes you a merry fitness and a healthy new year.”

Reit created a holiday gift box for clients to start the new year off…REIT! Each Live REIT box included a custom designed reusable water bottle, drawstring bag, and a pamphlet of NYC-based health and wellness activities to take part in. Even the boxes were customized to include fun and research-backed facts about fitness. Like, did you know you that the right type of music can increase performance by up to 20%?!

Stir.Sip.Sigh.Repeat: 2013

“Stir. Sip. Sigh. Repeat.” 

During the 2013 holiday season, REIT created a year-end holiday gift that brought “comfort & joy” to our clients in the form of a make-your-own hot chocolate kit! The custom box and custom pieces—which included 1 branded ceramic mug, 4 reusable jars of “Mix-Ins,” 5 interlocking cases of spices, and an interactive “Cocoa Contraption” offering 8 assorted recipes from 4 categories: Classic, Sweet, Spicy & Zesty—combined photo-realism and Reit’s own whimsical hand-drawn illustrations. Perhaps our most successful holiday promo, several recipients went out of their way to thank us, posting photos and tagging #reitdesign on socials. Plus, REIT took home The Davey Awards GOLD for our packaging design!

Lucky You: 2014

“Good fortune awaits you.”

At REIT, we’re all about planting the seeds for partnership, nurturing our client’s growth, and supporting our clients’ successes—and our holiday gift in 2014 year was a testament to that. REIT’s “Lucky You” box was filled with all one might need to bring good luck: providing three bamboo shoots, long a symbol of good fortune in Asian cultures, along with care directions and all the fixings—a planter, rocks and special charms—to attract health, wealth & longevity. Each was stamped with iconic symbols and Chinese inscriptions (authentically written by our in-house, multi-lingual team). Clever and ever-green, this gift is one that keeps on giving.

Get Smitten: 2015

“Squeeze Tightly, Neck Passionately & Canoodle Daily.”

REIT wanted to deliver a memorable “thank you” to clients during the 2015 holiday season that reflected our love for NYC. We created a retro-romantic NYC themed GET SMITTEN box that included interactive elements, cheeky copy, and tactile cues that revealed articles of winter clothing packaged beneath. On the inside of the box lid, an imprinted city map pinpoints places that have romantic and special relevance to REIT employees.

The "Other" Holidays: 2016

“Little known, largely bizarre…”

In 2016, REIT wanted to have some fun with the notion of “holiday” by celebrating the “little known, largely bizarre” holidays that happen throughout the year! Produced entirely in-house by the reitdesign team, each sanded wooden box was personally labeled and individually hand-stamped. Upon opening the box, clients received a panoply of customized items for your desk, including a fold-out, perforated monthly calendar highlighting these holidays and NYC destinations to celebrate them, chronological greeting cards with original artwork by reitdesign team members, three pocket-sized custom-designed notebooks, and logo pencils and erasers—tools for noting down any holidays our clients wish to celebrate.

Client Spotlight: Stanton Hoch Real Estate: 2017

In 2017, the NYC-based Stanton Hoch Team had much to be thankful for—including being ranked in the country’s top .0000985% of real estates by The Wall Street Journal! Of course, they couldn’t do it without their clients. To help Stanton Hoch express their gratitude, REIT developed a festive Thanksgiving Promo that included 7 to-go containers designed to share leftovers with family, friends, and those who may have been without dinner this holiday season.

In addition to the handy containers, the promo package included a notecard, labels, a wraparound sleeve, container lids that were imprinted with trivia and fun facts alongside significant statistics about Stanton Hoch. The gift kept Stanton Hoch’s name in front of existing clients and sparked conversations with prospective clients.

The Gift of Giving: 2017

“The Gift of Giving”

In 2017, REIT wanted to deliver a much-needed message of hope. Inspired by the theme “The Gift of Giving,” we departed from the tradition of sending gifts to clients—by putting some of our favorite NYC charities in the spotlight. We created a fully customized and digitally embossed mailing tube that contained a tote bag; five sets of circular cards embossed with gold metallic and raised UV pattern printing; five stylized enamel pins, each representing a specific category of charity; and a fold-out description sheet that shared charitable information. Taken together, this package not only reinforced the holiday spirit of giving, but it also helped raise the profile of charities whose work is more vital than ever.

You, Me and Tea: 2018


In 2018, REIT’s holiday theme was self-care, and our in-house team created a package that provides our clients with products and services to de-stress from the uber-active lifestyles they lead. Created entirely in-house, the team filled the custom-designed package with four loose teas from the iconic McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co in the West Village, complete with branded reitdesign items, including a glass mug, diffuser, and coasters. Gift boxes also included a card that shared hidden oases in New York City where one could take a moment of reflection & respite. Client response was outstanding—wowed by the beautiful packaging and appreciative of the reminder to take a beat for themselves.

Client Spotlight: New York International Auto Show (NYIAS): 2018

Gifts are not only reserved for the holiday season! In 2018, long-time REIT client New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) wanted to create a special gift for its 60 Board of Directors to be presented at their Annual Meeting. REIT designed and created custom labels with individual board members’ names, and sourced a winemaker that could provide magnum bottles of a California Cabernet Sauvignon.

Each label, created with digital short run printing techniques to spot gloss varnish and metallic inks, included the Show’s 2018 poster on the front, while the back label featured the story of the NY Auto Show and showcased past show posters. The bottles were housed in a custom box with logos affixed on top and a fly sheet within, thanking the board of directors for their service.

Back to Basics: 2019

“Enjoy life’s simple pleasures”

In 2019, we returned to the basics, providing recipients with delicious holiday movie themed popcorn recipes they could create on their own using our branded popcorn kernels and popcorn bowl. Created entirely in-house, the team selected two specialty popcorns with assorted toppings, and created a “Film Buff’s Recipe Guide” pamphlet that included the reitdesign team’s favorite holiday movie recommendations  accompanying by unique, movie-themed popcorn recipes.

Client Spotlight: Cresimo: 2020

Creating the magic touch…the REIT way! In 2020, Cresimo requested REIT’s branding services to create packing for its innovative line of stainless steel bar and coffee related products. The company was struggling to establish an elevated brand that could reach and appeal to both its commercial and consumer audiences—they were looking for that “magic touch”. With current packaging design varying significantly across products, the REIT team worked to design a cohesive brand identity and create packaging that uniquely identified each product and its signature features.

Our layouts featured prominent logos that tie each product to the brand, dramatic black backgrounds with vibrant pops of color, and strong hero shots of each product to capture attention. Like many of REIT’s holiday gifts, we thought it important to customize each product’s offering — so the reitdesign team added signature drink recipes the user could try with the purchase of the product.

New York Tough: 2020

“Together we can pay it forward”

If it wasn’t already clear, every year REIT designs holiday gifts for our clients! But in 2020, in lieu of gifts, the reitdesign team gave back to the city that built us by creating custom-designed soup cans to raise awareness about food insecurity. To further REIT’s impact, the team donated to NYC food banks and called upon our clients, followers, and professional network to support hunger relief. In addition to designing and donating, for the month of December REIT shared tips, resources, organizations, and opportunities to help out fellow New Yorkers across our social media platforms.

Before 2004, only agencies with over $10 million in revenue gained industry recognition for their work. Think Pentagram, BBDO, Havas… you name it. Big budgets, big awards. 

Starting my business out of the gates at 24, I never imagined my small shop could win big awards. In the grand scheme of things, it was only a few years ago when industry awards began acknowledging small businesses. Industry vets like PRINT and HOW began opening up their awards to businesses under the behemoth revenue threshold, and awards companies like Davey Awards, Summit International Awards, and Webby Awards started cropping up to support small business wins. 

Since that point, REIT has won over 100 awards to date! We shot our shot — multiple times — and struck hot throughout the years. And it feels good!

Most recently REIT captured Davey Awards titles for Website Design, with our client Collegiate Retail Consulting Group, and Branding/Signage for our tradeshow work with The New International Auto Show. We also received second place in Branding for our founder’s newest venture, Other Parents Like Me

These are just a couple examples that showcase the range of clients REIT works with, and gives you just a glimpse at the variety of projects we get to create here at the studio. And we’ve got more up our sleeves! 

As we ring in the new year, we’re taking time to celebrate our wins. Take a stroll back in time with us to see some of the memorable awards we won not just for ourselves, but in recognition of our innovative clients as well.

Barnes & Noble College

Business to Business Campaign, Barnes & Noble Annual Meeting, 2015
The Davey Awards — GOLD

REIT worked with Barnes & Noble College Division for over 12 years, providing strategy, creative direction and execution for their annual, week-long conference, where over 1000 managers from across the country celebrated the past year’s accomplishments and provided inspiration for the year ahead. In 2015, we created an immersive approach around the theme “INSPIRE,” delivering punchy signage, interactive design elements for attendees, and an awards ceremony honoring recipients by years of service. REIT took home The Davey Awards GOLD for our event work!

Reit Holiday Package

“Stir. Sip. Sigh. Repeat.” Self-Promotional Package, 2013
The Davey Awards — GOLD

During the 2013 holiday season, REIT created a year-end holiday gift that brought “comfort & joy” to our clients, with a REIT design twist! Using a mixture of photo-realism and our own whimsical hand-drawn illustrations, we crafted a box containing EVERYTHING needed to whip up a delicious mug of hot chocolate, delighting the minds and bellies of all ages. Included: 1 branded ceramic mug, 4 reusable jars of “Mix-Ins,” 5 interlocking cases of spices, and an interactive “Cocoa Contraption” offering 8 assorted recipes from 4 categories: Classic, Sweet, Spicy & Zesty. Perhaps our most successful holiday promo ever! Several recipients went out of their way to thank us, even posting photos on social media and tagging #reitdesign. REIT took home The Davey Awards GOLD for our packaging design!


“The Y Effect” Campaign Annual Report (Digital and Print), 2015
The Davey Awards — GOLD

REIT was tasked with creating the YMCA’s 2015 Annual Report and bringing “The Y Effect” campaign to life across digital and print assets. “The Y Effect” campaign went above and beyond the YMCA’s traditional associations with health and fitness, highlighting the Y’s impact on New York’s economy, health, children and the city itself. In both the print and website versions of the Annual Report, each facet of the “Y Effect” came to life through brief, engaging first-person narratives of individuals who benefited from their Y experience. REIT enhanced the printed Annual Report design with eye-catching icons and infographics and then carried this energy over to the website. From the very first click, the site grabs your attention with a host of interactive features from riveting videos and an image gallery, to a clickable map showing the Y leadership in those locations. It all adds up to a user experience worthy of the Y and its mission. REIT took home The Davey Awards GOLD for our digital footprint!

Holidays on your mind? Nothing can transport us to that magical moment quite like a holiday drink!

The team at Reit had the treat of working with Cresimo on a new branding packaging project to take that metaphorical feeling into the physical realm.

Reit was tasked with creating a cohesive visual identity across Cresimo’s family of brands that was fun and “magical,” while distinguishing a unique look and feel for each product.

We started with a mood board to hone in on the metaphorical components our client wanted to get across — “magical” can mean something wildly different from one person to the next!

We loved this process so much, we’ve incorporated it into our other design projects!

This was the brand’s former visual identity. Each product’s packaging was different; from coffee thermoses to cocktail shaker sets, we had our work cut out for us!

We looked at the whole visual experience. Packaging is a 3D world and we wanted to make sure every touchpoint a Cresimo customer experienced was an engaging, magical one.

To make each product unique, we added recipe ideas within each package. A great gift idea for those just getting started with at-home signature cocktails or for veteran coffee makers interested in crafting an elevated treat (hint, hint)!

Product packaging is not only a visual experience, it’s also a physical experience. We worked with Cresimo to select packaging that makes the colors pop, feels cool to the touch, and brings the Cresimo brand to life.

Cocktails and coffee aren’t only served during the holiday season. We wanted our branding to extend far beyond any celebratory occasion, to elevate even everyday experiences. Our visual identity reflects that “out of this world” feeling.

The final product!

A Conversation between Liz Reitman (reitdesign Founder, EONY Vice President & Mentorship Chair) and Jon Chapski (Big Gay Ice Cream Managing Partner and Edible Assets Principal)

We had so much fun talking to our client, Jon Chapski (Managing Partner), about our chocolate packaging project with Big Gay Ice Cream. We’re super excited to share a behind the scenes look of what’s to come… read on to get to know more about the brand, how Reit’s founder Liz Reitman and Jon met (don’t sleep on getting to know your neighbors!), and what Big Gay Ice Cream treats with Reit’s design touch are coming soon to you!

Could you share a bit of background on Big Gay Ice Cream? And your role within it?

Jon: Early morning questions…

Liz: Yeah, yeah [laughs] have some coffee!

Jon: So I’ve been in the hospitality business for probably 25 years now. And I’ve owned restaurants, hotels, bars, you name it, throughout most of my life. Towards the middle part of my career, I started my own sort of private equity company (Edible Assets) that invests in restaurants looking for capital for expansion; New York-based companies that had at least two or three units that were looking to grow. Fast forward a few years when one of our clients introduced me to Big Gay Ice Cream.

Very cool. So what was it about Big Gay Ice Cream that caught your eye?

Jon: The thing that was intriguing about Big Gay Ice Cream was the name and the fact that I love soft serve ice cream. I went over to their first brick & mortar location in the East Village and was blown away by the experience when I walked inside. And then the ice cream itself… I remember the first time I tried Big Gay Ice Cream… walking down the street for the first time thinking that this experience was unbelievable.

So then I told nine people from different worlds [to try it] and everyone had the same experience. They all chuckled, they laughed… they all went there and texted me saying, ‘OMG this is the best place ever!’ And I was like, this is exactly how grassroot places and cult concepts really get developed.

We spent about six months at the end of 2011 reaching out to the partners, trying to connect, and asking them, ‘What can we do? We really like your brand!’ This was probably back six months after they had opened up their first brick & mortar. We had spoken maybe three or four times and we said, ‘Listen, we’ll fund your next shop, we’ll operate it. If we like each other, we’ll grow [our partnership together]. And if not, we just have one little shop together.’ That was in fall of 2012. Come the spring of 2013 they wanted us to take over the East Village shop and help them grow. That was 10 years ago.

Wow, so you got in pretty early! What roles did you play within the company?

Jon: We grew the IP company, the management company, and then really started helping with paper to concept. They did certain things on purpose, which I thought they did with a unique touch; not just the brand and the concept of ice cream, but with the bigger picture of what everyone thinks about when they think of Big Gay Ice Cream.

And one thing Brian and Doug, my two partners and Big Gay Ice Cream co-founders, said to me that stuck out is that ‘The best thing we can do is throw a topic out there, and let people have the discussion.’ So we’ve really tried to make sure that Big Gay Ice Cream is about what people think they want it to be. And it is what it is to them.

And for us on the inside, the people who work on the team, it’s about fun. It’s ice cream! So if you’re not smiling you’re in the wrong business. Just enjoy yourself… and after your ice cream is done you can go back to the real world.

What about the Big Gay Ice Cream branding?

Liz: It’s interesting that you’ve incorporated rainbows in the brand…

Jon: So when you say rainbows, our color pattern is not the rainbow flag. Certain aspects of our designs make you think of a rainbow, but it’s not a rainbow!

Liz: And what Big Gay Ice Cream has done, which I’ve seen in your brand guidelines and what I think is really clever, is that you’ve mixed up the colors. So it’s a rainbow, but out of the traditional order, right?

 Jon: And no purple. Little things like that were done purposefully in order to make it different. But people still think it’s the same. It’s very interesting, people’s perceptions….

Liz: Yeah, provocative…

It reminds me of music in that way. Where there is something the artist is trying to put forth, but everybody has their own interpretation or meaning of it, whether the artist wanted that or not.

Liz: Yeah.

Jon: That is really – I have never heard that before – that is really interesting because our founder Doug is a professional bassoonist. He went to Juliard. He traveled the world playing the bassoon. And basically got burned out. When he was approaching 40, his friends in the food business Tony Bordain is a very good friend of his and they were like, ‘You should just do something for the summer…sell ice cream and get out of the music business.’

Liz: Oh, wow!

Jon: So he went to the Mister Softee guys who own all the trucks in 2009 and said, ‘Listen, I want to rent your truck by the day and sell ice cream.’ That’s honestly how it started! He duct taped over the Mister Softee name and was the no-name ice cream guy for a while.

Is this the origin story?!

Jon: And then people kept asking, ‘What’s your name?’ and Doug would respond, ‘I don’t have a name, this is not even my truck!’ He started on social and Twitter and all of that. And one day someone kept yelling through the window and he responded, ‘I’m just a big gay ice cream truck! What do you want from me?!’ So a close friend of the family is a patent trademark attorney and she was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m going to look this up… Big Gay Ice Cream is not taken, so we’re going to trademark it!’

Liz: Isn’t it funny how names come about?! I know with my new business, Other Parents Like Me (OPLM), somebody just came up with it in the moment. And we were like, ‘Yes, that’s it!’ It’s amazing when it sticks.

Alright, a little shift in our conversation... let’s talk about you two. How did you meet?

Jon: Back in ‘99.

Liz: Is that when we moved in?!

Jon: Yeah.

Liz: Wow, a long time! We were just neighbors… but not really!

Jon: Our building is six floors and there are two apartments per floor… and our kids were the same age and went to school together.

Liz: And especially when you have kids the same age it was a natural connection. I think they were in the same class? I sometimes would take your son to school…

Jon: Yeah, in kindergarten.

Liz: Yeah, so they were little. And now, both our kids are in their twenties.

Jon: Yeah, out of the nest!

Ah okay, so small town in a big city!

Liz: And another thing that was interesting is truly coincidentally when I had my office space, I bumped into Jon in my lobby! Remember when you were meeting with Shop? That was a crazy coincidence… and then you started telling me about your business and I was like, ‘Oh, we should talk because I do branding!’ And I feel like that started it…

Jon: And then we used your architect a couple times for different projects.

Liz: Oh yeah, I forgot about that!

Jon: To me, business can go sideways really quickly so you want to be delicate. It’s a delicate matter.

Liz: Right.

So fast forward to working together for Big Gay Ice Cream. How did your chocolate bar packaging project come to be?

Jon: So one of the issues that we’ve had is that shipping ice cream is really expensive. And I just have a fundamental issue with shipping ice cream when 80% of the cost is dry ice and styrofoam. So I started looking for alternative methods to ship ice cream when we became really close to one of our vendors who is a chocolatier a chocolate manufacturer. His mom started the company and I thought, could we make our pints or our ice cream flavors into chocolate bars? Because I could ship them and pack them, and then we could at least get them into the hands of people… so they could try them and then entice them to come to the stores to buy ice cream.

So it took probably 6-10 months to trial [the flavors]. And then [with] a few little tweaks, we’ve gotten the bars where we want them. The next step is bringing them to market… and so we needed to design the packaging. And I was like, ‘Great! That’s all I have to do.’ [Rolls eyes and chuckles]

Liz: [Laughs]

How did you know that you wanted to work together? And how did this collaboration come to fruition?

Jon: So I had spoken to four or five different companies/ people. And I was like, ‘Listen, I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but I know what I don’t want…’ And I said, ‘If you want to take a day or two and come up with a concept…don’t put a lot of time into it, just give me a little pitch and I’ll know whether or not you’re close to what the brand is, right?’ And honestly no one really hit it, but you!

Jon, what was something that resonated with you about working with Liz and the Reit team?

Jon: You know, everyone tries to think, ‘Oh, we’re this, we’re that,’ but Liz and her firm [Reit] were the only people that I was like, ‘Wow’. You know, besides the amount of thought put into it, even in their first rendition of the designs they understood, or they were able to understand what the brand was about and interpret our Brand Guide into something that I thought was a good retail packaging to go out to the public with.

And Liz, same question?

Liz: Yeah. What I will say is that I don’t even think that is true, Jon! I think you did know what you wanted. My big thing is my team can make anything look good, right? But it’s got to hit the right goal or be the right look for that project. And I think the reason why we were successful upfront is because you gave us so much good direction. We went through moodboards, you showed us samples and styles you were leaning towards and what you liked…or you’d say, ‘I like the element of this,’ or ‘I like a piece of that,’ so we were able to cull all that information that you gave us. And because of that we were able to [deliver what you wanted]. But I remember your reaction; you were surprised! Like, ‘Oh my god, this is what I meant!’ But for me, I was like, ‘This was the best information that we’ve ever been given!’

Jon: I wish I had the decks on [some of the other projects] I never kept them because they were just not even there.

Jon, you shared that you knew what you didn’t want from a design perspective. Could you just talk a little bit about that?

Jon: I feel like Big Gay Ice Cream is like Willy Wonka for adults. It’s for the kid that never grew up. To me, everyone remembers the first time they experienced soft serve ice cream. Maybe not the first time they had ice cream, right? But I think of a warm summer night on the boardwalk, the beach, a street fair, a carnival, or whatever it is… that you were able to get that first soft serve ice cream.

And we had just opened in West Village and I go into this story for a reason – and I’m sitting down at a table with my partner, Doug, and this couple walks in and the husband goes, “Oh my god, hun, you’ve got to try this!’ They had just gotten married, they just had a child, and he was like, ‘I used to go to their East Village location right after I had graduated from NYU. And I’m so happy to have this [Big Gay Ice Cream experience] with you and our little girl.’ And the girl is probably not even a year old. All of a sudden Doug gets up from our table, hops over the counter, and says, ‘Has she ever had soft serve ice cream before?’ And they were like, ‘No, I don’t think so!’ And Doug was like, ‘Okay, is she allergic to anything?’ And they were like, ‘Not that we know of!’ And he’s like, ‘Okay, this is the best thing ever!’

So he takes a spoonful from the ice cream machine and comes over and goes, ‘May I?’ You know, the owner is coming over and giving their kid our ice cream for the first time! So Doug is narrating the whole thing and literally as he’s talking the child is doing exactly what he is saying. Now he’s like, ‘I’m going closer, and she’s going to pull away, and then – wait, wait, wait! – she’s going in for more’. She comes back for a little bit more, and then all of a sudden she comes back and puts the whole spoon of ice cream in her mouth. And Doug says, ‘We have another one!’ [Laughing] So, that is Big Gay Ice Cream. I guess I digressed from your question. Could you repeat it? [Laughing]

Sure! What was the thought process behind the new product? What were you looking to get across with the packaging design?

Jon: So, the story I just told, is in sync with this. The reaction to the little child is exactly what I want [conveyed] in this chocolate bar. You know, we could push and sell our chocolate bar because we have a fun name. And it’s one of those things that people could look at and be like, ‘Oh, it’s just a novelty.’ But I want them to go back for more, and more, and more. We want to confuse and blow people away at the same time! Because the chocolate bar flavors – like our ice cream – are really good and unique. And we want to make Big Gay Ice Cream chocolate bars that stand the test of time in the chocolate world.

Yes, the Big Gay Ice Cream experience in a chocolate bar. I think that is what you were saying with the one year old...

Jon: Yes! See?! I knew we would bring it back!

Liz, could you share how you collaborated with Jon on the design vision?

Liz: I’ll say that I was so impressed with your vision. It is so clear that you really understand what you’re trying to represent, what your message is, and who you are. And how Big Gay Ice Cream is about an experience… but how you’re also provocative; you’re creating conversations like, ‘Oh, we have the word gay in there,’ but it’s not only for people who are gay. And we have a rainbow, but it’s out of order. And the flavors… I don’t know, I just found it was one of the best Brand Guidelines I have ever seen. You truly understand who you are and what you are trying to represent to people. And that’s fun, as a designer, to see that.

But there was also enough freedom in the creative process… we were able to do some things differently with the chocolate packaging. So it still has that Big Gay Ice Cream vibe with some flexibility because this is a different product.

Could you share where you are currently at with the project? And what/ when can we expect to see these chocolate bars in the world?

Jon: That’s why she brought you in here! To get me going… [Laughing]

Liz: [Laughing] That’s a good question!

Jon: So it’s honestly a timing thing. When COVID hit it, we were trying to just get it all done and now with reopenings…it’s gone off track. But I have the mockups on my desk and I am literally trying to push to get the information from my chocolate guy that I need to get to Liz… so, I want this out as soon as possible. I’m hoping we can get a fall launch!

Liz: That’s so exciting… we’re ready!

We can’t wait! Thank you both so much for this.

Liz: Thanks, Jon.

Jon: You got it. Thank you guys. Great seeing you!

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, representing an opportunity to check in with one another and ourselves. Each year, millions of people face the reality of living with mental health challenges, and I gather that many of us have been touched by mental health in some way, shape, or form. 

As some of you may know, my family is no stranger to this space; ​​I saw my child struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and substance use disorder. My family’s personal experience was a huge factor in co-founding Other Parents Like Me (OPLM), an empowered online community of parents supporting parents with help, hope, and healing. 

OPLM’s digital community provides a support network for parents supporting parents of children struggling with mental health – including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use, behavior disorders, and more – with opportunities to connect with mental health professionals, industry leaders, and guest speakers. We only launched in January, but we’ve made a big impact on our community thus far:

OPLM features:

  • 17+ parent-led Zoom support groups per week (including Men’s groups, Trauma-informed Yoga, Meditation, and more)
  • 25+ peer trained parents facilitating weekly meetings
  • 200 members and counting
  • 1,000+ resources spanning articles, books, podcasts, and a support directory of recovery and wellness professionals available on our resource hub 
  • 1,000+ Facebook followers and 600+ Instagram followers, growing our community organically from the ground up
  • Weekly Thursday Speaker Series — booked through the end of the year. Join us!
  • Monthly Expert Panel Series — booked through the end of the year. Join us for our May Panel hosted by Educational Consultants!
  • Partnerships with programs, schools, educational consultants, and nonprofit organizations, including NATSAP and IECA

And we’re just getting started! Through our platform, you can meet a community of parents who are supporting one another through their parenting journeys, and expanding the scope of what we call “awareness.”

I have gained tremendous awareness, support, hope, and healing through connecting with Other Parents Like Me. If this speaks to you or you know someone who could benefit from a community of parents supporting one another, try OPLM’s free 7 day trial!

Throughout my career, I’ve experienced highs and lows — who hasn’t?! And real talk, as a human, we all have our ups and downs.  

A buoy for me as I navigate through a storm (or these days, several storms) are my people. I understand the value of support in my own life and how those relationships pave the way to other strong connections in the lives of others. This is one of the reasons why, as a business owner, I feel I have the opportunity and the responsibility to create spaces where others feel valued and empowered.

I have strived to do this throughout my career; when I started my business at 24 years old, I sought to become an employer that supported young designers from different experiences and educational backgrounds.

Whether I’m looking for another strong teammate or providing support to the Barwaaqo University in Somaliland, I continue to advocate for young designers and students across experiences — and inspire my team to do the same — through my work with Reit.  

Soon after starting my business, I became a New York State Small Business Services Women Business Enterprise (NYS SBS M/WBE) to connect with clients that support women-owned businesses. A few years later, I volunteered as a mentor for the same organization; and today, I lead the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of New York (EONY) Mentorship Program, connecting several M/WBE members one-to-one with leading entrepreneurs in NYC. I’m proud to share that we have paired over 70 participants. So many of these pairings have expressed their joy in connecting. 

In addition to leading the Mentorship Program with EONY, I am also part of the EO OneWorld Committee, an initiative that seeks to create a more inclusive and equitable experience for EO members that identify as women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+. OneWorld is a powerful initiative that creates a safe space for all people to create connections, educational experiences, and a place to have hard conversations. OneWorld will include mentorship opportunities and support for young entrepreneurs, among other avenues for connection. I am excited to see what unfolds as this program takes shape. 

Most recently, I co-founded  Other Parents Like Me (OPLM) with Casie Fariello, another parent like me. We met during our children’s struggle with mental health and substance use; and connected over our similar experiences and a mutual desire to create a space for other parents and families to feel supported while weathering similar storms. OPLM is a digital community that provides a support network for parents supporting parents of children struggling with mental health — including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use, behavior disorders, and more — and opportunities to learn from mental health professionals, industry leaders, and guest speakers. Our goal is to nurture a community that supplies the support, insights, and connections parents like us need.

The fact of the matter is: we all need each other.

Our support systems may look different from one another’s, but we can do our part to hold space for each other. So when the sea gets rough, we have a place to turn.

2021 was another wild ride, but the team at Reit hit some major accomplishments in the midst of it all! We’re proud of what we’ve done this year and compiled some of our favorite moments, milestones, and highlights. Join us as we sit back, relax, and enjoy the view of our journey back through time…


Collaborated with longtime client partner and NYC staple, Javits Center, to design, develop, and deliver their COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses across New York City deeply and abruptly, none more so than the events industry which came to a grinding halt in 2020.  When the Javits Center was tapped to transform its space into a hospital facility and later a vaccination center, Reit recognized there was an opportunity not just to heal bodies, but to elevate hearts and minds. Our team created over 60 Javits Center graphics with 80 translations projected within the facility TV screens and the Jumbotron along the busy 11th Avenue thoroughfare and shared across social media feeds, underscoring the support, community, strength, and resilience New York is known for. Public reaction was enthusiastic and appreciative, generating thousands of reactions, social media shares, and news coverage. Spoiler alert: Reit won SILVER at the Davey Awards for our Integrated COVID Campaign!


Reconnected with previous client, NPD, to create their new digital ad campaign.

NPD, an analytics engine powering brands’ data-driven decisions, needed support creating and promoting their new publishing products, U.S. Manga Data Service and NPD PubTrack Digital Audio, in concert with the 20th anniversary of their successful BookScan product launch. Reit combined our digital design expertise with our marketing experience to design, manage, and execute the digital ad campaign for NPD’s Books Group publishing sector. 


Launched NYC Audubon Society’s new branding and website design.

Reit worked with a great group of conservationists to refresh NYC Audubon Society’s brand and redesign their website. From logo and color concepts to UX/UI design, it’s all in the details! This design soars high above the city skyline and is one you sure don’t want to miss. Spoiler alert: Reit won GOLD at the Summit International Awards for our redesign!


Created two unique branding identities for SL Green Realty, one of NYC’s largest real estate corporations.

Reit collaborated with SL Green to deliver several individual brand concepts — including logo development and color paletting — in addition to crafting advertisements and messaging. What’s special about this client is that each of SL Green’s projects has its own branding unique to each building. Reit also had a hand in developing the UX, wireframes, and website design of the iconic Lipstick building (885 Third Avenue, between East 53rd Street and 54th Street).


Rebranded reitdesign, inc. to Reit!

We changed our name and rebooted our look to better reflect our core values and our future outlook. There’s a lot of thought that went into Reit’s redesign and we’re hopeful that this new iteration pays homage to our heritage and resilience, while also signifying what we’re looking towards in the future. Check out our new website and read on for the reasons behind the rebrand.


Announced Reit’s new client, Big Gay Ice Cream Shop.

Reit is proud to work with Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on their sweet new branding and design initiatives, which will launch as we approach the warmer months! 


Toasted our fearless leader, Liz Reitman, on her new leadership roles!

In addition to running Reit, our founder Liz Reitman took on two Nonprofit Board Positions for Entrepreneurs’ Organization of New York (EONY). She serves as the Vice President of the New York Chapter and spearheads the Mentorship Program, which offers 1:1 mentorship opportunities for EONY members and M/WBE entrepreneurs. With her leadership this year, the Mentorship Program Team doubled participation from EONY members and almost tripled participation from our partner organizations. Learn more about Liz’s experience as a women leader (alongside EONY President, Debbie Kiederer) in Part 1 of our series: Women Founders In Focus.


Promoted Elizabeth Hajny to Reit's lead designer!

We profiled Elizabeth in our August Meet The Team to share more about her work at Reit and what she does for fun.


Won big during awards season!

Reit’s work with a broad range of clients was awarded at the 2021 Summit International Awards and the Davey Awards

🥇 New York City Audubon Rebrand (Summit International Awards) 

🥈 ENTRADA Rebrand (Summit International Awards)

🥈 Cresimo Packaging (Davey Awards)

🥈 ENTRADA Rebrand (Davey Awards)

🥈 Javits Center Integrated COVID Campaign (Davey Awards)


Developed branding project for longtime colleague and previous client Russell Markman.

Our work with Russell goes back to our beginnings at Barnes and Noble College Group and we’re psyched to now partner with Russell on his own venture, Collegiate Retail Consulting Group, to reimagine campus retail. Reit was responsible for concepting the logo, tagline, messaging, and web UX design to help establish Russell’s consulting group as a leader in the field. With strong client relationships and knowledge of the market, Reit was up to the task.


Celebrated a milestone anniversary!

Liz Reitman signed the reitdesign LLC papers on this day 26 years ago. Last year we wrote about our experience celebrating 25 years… and we’re sharing again to commemorate this anniversary.


Finalizing launch details for Liz Reitman’s newest venture: Other Parents Like Me.

Other Parents Like Me (OPLM) was founded to address the growing crisis of teenage substance use and mental health issues — by creating an empowered digital community of parents supporting parents with help, hope, and healing. Reit’s design, branding, messaging, marketing, and website development have been critical to establishing OPLM’s look, feel, and digital footprint. Watch this space for OPLM January 2022 launch — and if this resonates with you or you know someone who could benefit from joining this community, pre-register to become a founding member and save 50% on membership.

Name, Title, Years at reitdesign: Elizabeth Hajny, Designer, 2.5

Favorite NYC Neighborhood: Union Square

What do you do at reitdesign?

I really do anything and everything design-related! From moodboards, sketches, and high-level concepting to execution, edits, and more. It’s nice being in a small studio because I get to have a part in every project and client we work with.

I also work very closely with Annie, our Project Coordinator, to make sure everything is getting done, see where we are with projects, and connect with clients.

How did you come across reitdesign and when did you sense it was the place you wanted to work? 

I was looking for an internship in my last year at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and my professor happened to know a designer who used to work at Reit; so I got in touch and the rest is history!

I knew I wanted to continue to work at Reit when one day during my internship I stayed late to hang out with the other designers — we were chatting, hanging out, and bouncing ideas off one another — we really got along. I liked that the office was open and I could just connect with the other designers whenever I needed to. That was the kind of environment I wanted to be in as a growing designer.

Share a noteworthy project you’ve had the opportunity to work on: 

There have been a lot! Since we are so small I get to contribute to all our projects so there isn’t much that I miss out on.

The new website for Entrepreneurs Organization’s NY chapter was my first larger solo project so that one will always be something I proudly look back on. I actually got to build this out twice because we started the project before the organization’s rebranding, so I redesigned the old site and then did a redesign for the new brand.

Another amazing experience was branding the New York Autoshow — everyone in and around New York knows the Autoshow!  We took the concept from their marketing comms promos and transformed to reflect the event space, which was creatively challenging and incredibly rewarding. It was a huge learning experience and an accomplishment that I’m very proud of. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with an aspiring designer? 

I think it’s super important to always be open to critiques and edits to your design.

You might absolutely love an idea or concept you come up with, but it just might not be right for the project or the client and you have to let yourself move on from it.

It takes while to get comfortable doing that, especially when you put so much energy into something. On the other hand, don’t delete everything! I keep several versions of project files because you never know when you might be able to repurpose something that was previously scrapped. It’s also good to be able to see your own process and progress through a project! Everyone works differently so knowing how you work is important for collaboration.

Congrats on your recent promotion from Junior Designer to Designer! Tell us something you’re looking forward to in this new role:  

Thank you!! I’m very excited. I think I’m looking forward to continuing my growth as a designer. The past year + has been a whirlwind and even though it’s been crazy, I have been able to notice my skills and styles grow and change for the better. I’m definitely way more confident as a designer and I want to continue down this path!

I think it’ll also be fun and rewarding to collaborate with emerging designers (we just hired a new junior designer!) and guide them in a similar way to how I was mentored when I first started here! That knowledge was so helpful and I’m eager to pass on what I’ve learned. 

Give us a little background on yourself! What do you do for fun? 

Most of my hobbies are art-related, but I get bored quickly so I’ve explored a lot of them: origami, cross stitch, sewing, printmaking, photography, you name it! Both my parents were artistic and craft-y so I was really surrounded by that growing up.

I started an Instagram account (@lizhajnydesign) in 2019 for my art and illustrations and it’s been a place where I can make whatever I want, experiment, and have fun! I’ve definitely seen my style there change a ton and I love creating for it.

Where do you find inspiration for your work professionally and personally?

Professionally, a lot of it definitely comes from collaboration and talking through projects/concepts with the team. Websites like Pinterest and Behance are super helpful for the beginning stages of creating moodboards and concepting, but for the later stages of design, I find nothing is more helpful than talking it all through! I come up with a lot of ideas just hearing what other people say about a design.

Personally, I find a TON of inspiration from other artists online! I’ve found so many talented people on Instagram alone. When I scroll through my feed, I get so many ideas for illustrations that I (sadly) can’t remember them all! I’ve started writing myself notes for future drawings so the ideas don’t get lost.

Did you hear the news? @reitdesign has officially rebranded! After 25 years in the biz we’ve updated our branding to better reflect who we are, what we do, what we stand for, and what we’re building as we move towards the future. Our team got together with @Liz Reitman to share the reasons behind the Reit redesign. Have a seat, stay awhile, and get to know the “new” Reit


Why did you decide to rebrand? 

It’s been a long time coming! When I started Reit 25 years ago, we were solely focused on design. We started before email was a thing(!) and throughout our time in business — from print design to websites to building out our animation and video arm — we’ve had to pivot. We’re constantly looking for opportunities to grow and better build out our services, with the goal to deliver the best experiences for our clients. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in business! We’re not trying to stray from our design roots, but we wanted our brand identity to better reflect the array of services Reit offers.


Why “Reit”?

I’ve been reitdesign for 25 years, I’ve always referred to ourselves as reitdesign, and all of our branding and assets said that; but no matter what, everyone called us “Reit!” So when we decided to rebrand, we thought the name change was a pretty natural progression. 

And as we thought more about it, we discovered that it better reflects who we are! Putting us in the “design” category felt limiting and not true to who we are.  Design is rooted in everything that we do, but we are so much more than that. Our breadth of services include: Strategy, Branding, Websites, Social Media, Video, Animations… and more! (Hey, if you need us you know where to find us!)

Plus “Reit” is simple, to the point, pretty catchy, and is a distinctive play on the word “right”! Which really speaks to our personal connections with our clients.  


How did you start the process and how did it evolve?

Our rebrand was underway well before COVID hit. And when it did, we made the most of the space and time afforded to us to focus more concretely on the project. Our rebrand gave us some much-needed excitement and momentum. And internally it gave us the strength to not only carry on, but to see something grow during such uncertain times. And I’m proud of us for that. Now, it feels really good to put it out into the world! 


What was it like rebranding through COVID?

The beauty of this process is that working on a rebrand remotely doesn’t compromise anything. By giving ourselves more time, the final product has gotten better and better. We drew inspiration from what we were doing for our clients, too! We’ve created a custom animation to showcase our fun and playful side right on the homepage. And we’ve added new sections, like our Insight blog, to bring more perspective from our side. Plus, we kept the fun little facts that people gravitated towards in our last site. 


What is the importance of brand identity for Reit (and for brands across all industries)?

Everything starts with the brand; because your brand isn’t just your logo; it’s your messaging, taglines, assets, and so much more. And that identity carries through to everything else. That’s the foundation; the base to build your house. If you don’t have concrete in the walls, you can’t put the wallpaper up. 


What does Reit’s new brand identity signify?

So many things! When we began to look at a new name, it became an opportunity to look at the overall look with fresh eyes. We pulled from our original brand identity to acknowledge our heritage. You may notice that the dot of the “i” in our new logo looks familiar…because it’s an homage to our last logo! We didn’t want to get rid of our past, but we wanted to acknowledge our future. So you’ll notice that we reworked the color orange throughout our redesign, to highlight the fresh and youthful thinking we continue to champion, alongside a new color palette that represents sophistication and maturity. 

You might notice the “i” and the “t” in our logo are connected. We did this to visually symbolize the connections we have with our clients. Relationships are paramount to us at Reit. We take care of our clients and listen to them; and because of that, we drive results and create outstanding work that lets them know we’re partners for the long haul.  

Then there are the circles, which add a level of dynamism and movement visually and signify the infinite curving, pivoting, fluidity, and versatility of our business. There’s nothing linear that we do and we wanted that to be reflected in our design! 


Share a takeaway from the redesign process you want people to know:

The redesign was definitely a team effort! From our initial team brainstorm to the finishing touches, our team was integral to the project. It was so important to me to include our entire team in the strategy, design and execution. We all had skin in the game to make this rebrand reflective of who we are. And that shows in the final product. 


Any last thoughts!

There’s a lot of thought that went into our redesign. And we’re hopeful that our design reflects who we are, where we come from, what we’re looking towards in the future, and our resilience through hard times — through 9/11, the 2008 financial crash, and now COVID. All this to say, we’re here to stay!