New Kind is delighted to welcome Pippa Armes to our team. I had a chance to sit down with Pippa recently and ask her a few questions about herself, and wanted to share what I learned.
Where is home for you?
That is a great question. I’m what they call a “third culture kid.” My parents, brother, and I are all British citizens, but I grew up all over the place. I was born in India, and spent my first six years there; my family then moved to Singapore for about five years. We moved to the United States when I was starting sixth grade (talk about culture shock!), settling in Raleigh where I attended middle school and high school. To throw a few more interesting variables into the mix, my Mom is of Chinese descent and my Dad is British, which at times led to me being an identity-crisis-confused child growing up. All of that being said, I identify Raleigh as “home” these days.
Where did you go to college?
I went to undergrad at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, CA. I was drawn to Dominican because of the excellent reputation of their Dance program in conjunction with Alonzo King LINES Ballet—a contemporary ballet company with a movement style and philosophy that I had admired for many years. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and English with a Writing Emphasis from Dominican. I also received a Master of Arts in Communication with a Concentration in Public and Media Relations from The Johns Hopkins University. I completed my graduate program entirely online while working full-time.
How did you get from middle and high school in Raleigh all the way to California for college?
As a dancer, I attended summer intensives to train with various dance companies all over the country each year. I attended the intensive at Alonzo King LINES Ballet two years in a row during high school and fell in love with everything about the company and faculty. When I found out that they had recently instated a B.F.A. program at Dominican—a small private school with a great reputation, beautiful campus, and close proximity to San Francisco —I couldn’t not go.
Did you do anything particularly noteworthy while a college student?
The Dance majors at Dominican were an extremely tight-knit group. Performing our senior showcase with my graduating class at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco was the perfect culmination of our four years together. Getting to dance on that hallowed stage with my fellow B.F.A.ers was truly magical—particularly because so many artists and companies that we all worshipped had shared that space. I’ll never forget it.
Another notable experience during my time at Dominican was a project I did for a Social Psychology class. We were given the assignment to break a norm, so naturally I decided to use my love for dance as the medium to complete the experiment. While working with a classmate who was also a dancer, we decided to dance our way down Market Street in San Francisco and see what types of reactions we could elicit. We got a lot of puzzled looks, which I am sure are documented on YouTube somewhere.
After college in California, what brought you back to Raleigh?
When I graduated from college I was doing lots of dance auditions; but I kept having the feeling that life was trying to pull me elsewhere, and sensed that it might be time to explore my other passions. I decided that I would take a step back and figure out what I really wanted to do. So I moved back to Raleigh to do some soul-searching, and started putting feelers out for possible job opportunities.
What do you like about Raleigh as a young person?
Culturally, Raleigh is in a great place with amazing restaurants and breweries, interesting shops, creative and forward-thinking people, and convenient proximity to everything. I love hiking and generally rambling about and exploring new places, so Raleigh is ideally suited to reach the coast and mountains for all kinds of fun expeditions.
What is your role at New Kind?
I am a Content Strategist at New Kind. I get to help brands and organizations discover and tell their stories. I have always considered myself a storyteller, so this job is a dream come true.
I understand that you are a certified Gyrotonic Trainer. Could you tell me about Gyrotonic?
Gyrotonic is a fitness / wellness system, similar to Pilates or yoga. It is very movement-oriented and is great for building strength and flexibility simultaneously. Coming from a dance background, Gyrotonic lends itself perfectly to my love of movement. It’s a very three-dimensional modality, and is fun to watch as well; it almost looks like you’re dancing with the equipment when you’re in a good flow. I am a Gyrotonic instructor at Evolve Movement here in Raleigh and enjoy it immensely. It is extremely fulfilling to see my clients improve and to help them reach their goals.
Dance is an important part of your life. Why?
When I was living in India, I had lots of exposure to Indian dance and music, so I definitely think I have to credit this early exposure to the arts for helping to fuel my passion. For some reason, even though I had never actually seen it before, I simply decided that I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I was innately drawn to movement. I also think that using the body as a way to tell stories is incredibly fascinating and powerful, and beautifully unique from person to person. It’s an endless outlet for expression.
Do you consider yourself to be a “creative” person?
I do. I have always been pulled toward creative endeavors, like dance and writing. Concurrently, I tend to be a mega-perfectionist and am crazy-organized (sometimes to a fault). In the battles that take place between the left side and right side of my brain, though, I feel more passionately pulled toward all things creative.
Do you have a hobby?
My boyfriend and I have made it our mission to hike the Appalachian Trail one little chunk at a time (perhaps one day we’ll do the whole thing!), so hiking is an important part of our lives. I also love cycling, checking out local breweries and restaurants, traveling and exploring new places, and working out… not necessarily in that order.
And how do you have time for all this?
I developed excellent time management skills while dancing professionally, which have continued to serve me in all areas of my life. Being busy forces me to prioritize my tasks, and makes me think and act with intent.
How would you describe yourself in a few words?
Persevering, curious, passionate, empathetic, always learning, hungry.
What do you mean by hungry?
I have a hunger for knowledge, for finding out what’s next, and for continuous learning. I am rarely satisfied without challenging myself to push beyond just doing what’s easy.
What would surprise me about you?
I have a fake hip! Through wear-and-tear from dancing, I tore my labrum right before my junior year of college. I had to have a fairly invasive procedure, complete with three very large screws, to piece everything back together and ensure it wouldn’t happen again. I was told that I might never dance again—but I rejected that notion and came back stronger than ever. Surgery number two was after I graduated from college; I was in San Francisco taking a ballet class and accidentally dislocated my hip. When I got back home to Raleigh, I went to see my surgeon and ultimately had to get all of the hardware removed from my first procedure. In August 2014, I had yet another surgery to completely replace my hip. I think that makes me New Kind’s first bionic woman!
What is your greatest passion?
My greatest passion is storytelling through all mediums. When a story really resonates with someone, it can be life-changing. We all want to feel that we are part of a tribe and that we belong—and storytelling can do that.
Do you ever make fun of yourself?
Yes, I definitely do. I also like to surround myself with people who don’t take themselves too seriously all the time. They help remind me to find joy and levity when things seem anything but rosy.
What kind of music do you enjoy most?
It really varies depending on what kind of mood I’m in or what I’m working on, but here are some all-time favorites: Iron & Wine, CHVRCHES, The Naked And Famous, Bon Iver, The Head and The Heart, Novo Amor, M83, Ray LaMontagne, Max Richter, and Alexi Murdoch. I guess you could classify my favorite genres as indie / folk-acoustic / electronic. With all due respect to my colleague Mr. Burney, I am not a country music fan… Or at least I am very selective of my country songs.
What are you most proud of in your life?
I would have to say my ability to persevere. Through any adversity I have faced, I have proven that I have the ability and willpower to reinvent myself.
Could you give an example of one or two people who have made an impact in your life?
My parents. Even though we were moving all over the world, they did everything in their power to help me pursue my love of dance. They funded and encouraged a passion that became a big part of our family’s day-to-day, a feat that I can’t imagine was totally painless! Another person who has greatly impacted my life is my boyfriend Kevin, who is my source of unconditional and unwavering support. He always encourages me to see challenges as opportunities, and pushes me to shoot for the stars in all areas of my life.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
The people around me are a huge inspiration. I am constantly learning from and getting ideas from the people I surround myself with. Stories of human triumph and people doing good are always a big boost too.
What defines success for you?
Going home at the end of the day knowing that I did everything in my power to push a project forward, to be authentic, and to make a positive impact on someone or something.
What brought you to New Kind?
I have been hunting you guys down from a long time, even before college (I have already been dubbed “Pippa Long-Stalking” by a fellow New Kinder). I always thought that the work New Kind produced was incredible—brilliant, beautiful, meaningful. When I started my “real people job” search and discovered that I had a passion for storytelling, New Kind was at the top of my list. Though it took some hopping around to get here, I feel as though I’ve finally landed my dream job.
What do you hope to accomplish at NK?
I hope to tell truly compelling stories for our clients, to learn more about design and the creative process, and to hone my craft as a writer and storyteller. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in some way.
Thanks Pippa! We’re excited that you have joined our team and particularly excited about adding your creative skills to the New Kind portfolio of services for our clients.