If you could take a self-help book, make it active and engaging, add some great views, some Buddhist principles and put it in a beautifully designed box, you’d have Sit in the City cards. A combination meditation deck and insider guide to great Los Angeles locales.
Sit in the City Cards
The age-old proverb “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” was certainly put to the test as millions of people struggled with confinement, job loss and financial hardship imposed by the global quarantine these past 12+ months.
Some people made the most of that challenge, one of which was Kim Genkinger. Forced to temporarily shut down the meditation studio in Antwerp, Belgium she’d just opened in 2018, the U.S. born Advertising Creative Director and copywriter found herself stuck in a foreign country during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite no foreseeable income and frustrated by the geographical limitations imposed upon her as both a relative newcomer to the area and now the quarantine, she turned those negatives into inspiration.
I spoke with Kim about how she managed to conceive of and create a new product during a time when so many others who felt isolated simply shut down. Having just received news that The Broad Museum gift shop “loved” the cards and wanted to carry them, she was glowing with enthusiasm as well as relief. Here’s what I learned.
A believer in destiny, Kim literally awoke one morning, a week before the quarantine, with the phrase “Sit in the City” in her head. Not one to procrastinate she bought the url that day, figuring the phrase would evolve into an idea. She was right.
I’ve known Kim since we worked as a team at a Los Angeles ad agency and have been close friends for over 20 years now. She’s always had a strong sense of both wanderlust and self-awareness. She’s traveled all over the world, lived in 7 different US cities and worked here and abroad. Once a seriously stressed Type-A personality, she’s since adopted an ethos of mindfulness and is now a Certified Teacher in the Buddhist tradition who’s dedicated herself to meditation twice daily for over ten years. Fun fact: One of my nicknames for Kim is Kimimanjaro because yes, she has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
While isolated in her Belgium home during the pandemic, she found herself thinking about her time in Los Angeles. Moreover about the fact that she’d not visited many of the sites in Southern California she’d intended to during her years there. She realized she’d missed out on experiencing many cool things that were worth the effort – exacerbated by the Los Angeleno-cultivated attitude that West-Siders don’t travel East of the 405 –and vice-versa.
Combining her own need for mental and physical wellness, her desire to create, her appreciation for aesthetics and her wistfulness for Los Angeles, she came up with the idea for Sit in the City cards.
What exactly is Sit in the City?
It’s a curated compendium of locations combined with easy step-by-step illustrated instructions that allows you to explore both the city and meditation on your own terms. A boxed set of 48 cards that combined create 540 unique experiences in a particular urban center, beginning with Los Angeles. Rumor has it that New York is next, and I have a good source.
This is NOT just a meditation deck or a set of inspiring images with pithy sayings about self-empowerment and enlightenment. This is like having your own personal and knowledgeable local Tour Guide, Guru, Life Coach and Therapist in a box. One that will not only introduce you to yourself but also to your surroundings. A beautifully designed instruction manual as to how to make the most of where you live and what you do for yourself. And it’s done so thoughtfully and intelligently.
Kim worked with talented Belgium-based Art Director/Designer Eva Kumpen to create the logo, deck, illustrations and packaging. The two met years before at an ad agency and Eva had worked with Kim on the design for her meditation studio, DROPin.
Is There An App?
If you are asking “Why isn’t it an app?” then the entire concept has gone over your head. It’s about being present; at one with your surroundings. It’s a tactile and tangible experience. Look up, look around, look inward. The exact opposite of the passive experience of staring into a mobile phone.
There are 18 “sit” cards and 30 “spot” cards in the deck.
Printed on 100% recycled paper, the sit cards provide easy instructions for a simple meditation, mindfulness, or breath-focused practice. Best case scenario? They’ll help guide you as you explore your inner world—your emotions, intuition, somatic intelligence, and true nature. Worst case? You’ll find yourself taking a moment out of your crazy life to be still, quiet and relaxed in a beautiful place.
The spot cards, minimally and elegantly illustrated by Eva Kumpen, feature lesser known places in Los Angeles, introducing you to hidden gems of the city. Your environment is crucial to your sense of well-being.
The Guide Book
Included in the box is a 44 page guide book written by Kim with a map, simple instructions, fun and playful tips, journal prompts and advice as how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
It’s important to point out that the locales Kim chose accommodate any age or gender, have flexible hours, ample parking, are pet-friendly (most), wheelchair accessible and FREE admittance (with one exception being The Huntington).
The product is designed to be all-inclusive and provide an equally engaging and rewarding experience to those of any gender, color or belief system. The look reflects that with colors that are neither masculine nor feminine, but an unusual combination of a vibrant orange, deep lavender and pale peach that when combined are calming yet invigorating.
According to color psychology, Orange represents creativity, joy and enthusiasm and promotes a general sense of wellness. Purple (or Violet) stimulates the imagination, expands awareness and connects one to a higher consciousness. It has the highest vibration in the physical spectrum and assists those seeking the meaning of life.
In the logotype, the h in the word “the” is replaced with a stylized profile of a chair. A modern and streamlined icon, yet warm and friendly.
I liked it the chair icon so much, I had one of my many other talented friends, Mia Van Beek of Formia Design, custom make sterling silver pendants for Kim and I to celebrate the launch. They came out wonderfully and Kim and I both wear ours proudly.
The actual box, guide, inserts and cards have an expensive feel and are well-constructed. The 100% recyclable cards have rounded corners and printed inks that are velvety to the touch and easy to handle. I know that Kim sweated the details because she was living at my home here for six weeks to oversee production and I watched her return sample after sample for not living up to her expectations. It paid off. Immediately struck by the look, the Broad Museum Gift Shop said it would be a wonderful addition to their gift shop and as I mentioned earlier, promptly put in an order.
Advantages and Sacrifices
Lest you think it’s as easy as being bored, watching a few episodes of Shark Tank, having an idea and a cool prototype made to get your product into stores, I can assure you it takes much more. In addition to investing much of her own savings, Kim has a stellar work ethic and she did her due diligence.
Having a career in advertising had its advantages in that Kim knew the importance of things like focus groups, online surveys, working with a good art director/designer, hiring a PR person, getting a website up and running, making sure the production went smoothly and having a good press kit- all before she pitched the product to anyone. But she was also faced with disadvantages. Trying to launch a product from across the globe during a quarantine required a lot of difficult and uncertain travel, sacrificing time with her significant other and their dog back in Belgium, couch surfing at the homes of friends and work, work, work.
Kim’s compassion extends beyond helping others learn to appreciate themselves and their city. A portion of all Sit in the City sales goes to LA Food Bank to provide food for those in need, which she views as a basic human right and our collective responsibility.
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