What you do matters

We want to know what matters to you and why, so we can make sure others do, too. It’s time to take a stand, tell your story, and live your purpose… so you can matter more.

Cultivate is a Chicago brand agency crafting effective, award-winning brands, marketing tools, & apps.

Interested in learning more about our capabilities?


Chris Pierik Creative Director / Co-founder at cultivate

Chris Pierik

Chief Creative Officer / Co-Founder

Mattering is finding the thing your audience cares about and speaking about it in such an emotional way that we move your audience to do something. Creative is much more memorable when you can make someone feel something at their core. It makes people listen and sets you apart from your competition. This can be challenging, but when you get it right, it’s so rewarding.
Emily VanHoff Art Director / Designer

Emily VanHoff

Art Director / Designer

There’s a big difference between making work that looks nice and making work that’s accomplishing what it needs to by hitting the right objectives. I’m able to create meaningful design work because I’m involved in the process — I get to know the client and the company culture, as well as the audience, helping me understand what matters. From there, it’s about how far I can push it to make something that’s interesting and impactful.
Jenny Schuler Art Director / Designer / Developer

Jenny Schuler

Product Manager / UI/UX / Developer

My niche is in the design and development of apps and web. Most days, I’m tasked to solve a unique problem that a client is struggling with and I try to solve it in a way that’s functional and beautiful. It’s a simple balance of coding and design that can be difficult at times, but very rewarding. It’s about creating something that really matters.
Jen Werner Finance Manager

Jen Werner

Finance Manager

In a world of creatives with limitless ideas, I’m the linear thinker focused on the tasks, bridging the gap between the work and the numbers. I’m all about being transparent, fair, and empathetic to make sure we’re meeting deadlines and things aren’t falling through the cracks. It’s about being efficient and seeing our work through to the end.
Kimberly Laughlin Associate Creative Director / Strategist

Kimberly Laughlin

Associate Creative Director / Lead Strategist

Brands have something they want to say and typically come to us for help communicating that. Because ultimately, companies want to serve a real purpose, and they want people to care. I love helping brands define why they matter in a way that’s relative to the needs of their customers, and then articulate that in a way that feels authentic and ownable.
Kristen Romaniszak Associate Creative Director / Brand Manager

Kristen Romaniszak

Creative Director / Strategist

By walking the line between the strategy side and the creative process, I’m always asking myself whether the work is accomplishing the things it needs to for our clients. It’s key for me to really hear the challenges our clients are facing and to push the creative and strategy to address those challenges head-on. There’s nothing better than delivering a piece of work that not only resonates with the intended audience but also helps our clients to see their brand in a new light.
Kyle Talbot Web & Mobile Application Developer

Kyle Talbot

Web & Mobile Application Developer

When I think about how I'll help our clients matter in terms of end user experience, I mostly want the end user to not think about me at all. By that I mean, I want the end user to not think of the programs as being built so much as springing forth fully formed from our clients' intentions as Athena emerged fully grown from Zeus' forehead. I want to help our clients matter by being unnoticed — in the best way possible.
Mark Wierda President / Co-founder

Mark Wierda

President / Co-founder

We recognize that we can only help our clients matter if they first matter to us. Our crazy talented team excels in understanding what's most important in any given situation, and we're always seeking ways to create meaningful connections through brand strategy, creative campaigns, and technology tools.
Max Boganets System Architecture, Development

Max Boganets

System Architecture / Development

I’m a systems architect, which means my day to day is project work on all levels, from the general idea to the final tasks. Because I work on projects from the beginning, I always try to figure out not just what the client wants, but what the client needs — this is important. I bring a part of myself to every project, because I want to be proud of the work we do.
Melissa Morley Photographer

Melissa Morley


As a photographer, I’m less concerned about taking photos that sell a product or service. I’m more concerned about capturing a feeling and connecting it with a bigger message. Photos have the power to portray emotions — and help our clients stay relevant, visible, and matter more in the communities they serve.
Michael Holloway Designer / Developer

Michael Holloway

Designer / Developer

My first considerations when building anything are the experience of the user and how they will live with the interface. Working this way challenges my own way of thinking and helps me develop the product in a different light — one that feels natural and intuitive, rather than built by a developer. When I do this successfully the user quickly forgets the product was built at all, and they can focus on using the product to make their lives better.
Paul Warner Technical Lead

Paul Warner

Technical Lead

As an app creator, I’ve learned that by focusing on brand and higher level concepts I can build better tools for our clients and be a better software developer at the same time. I’m now able to make smarter decisions on what tools our clients need while also understanding how those tools will be used to further the organization.
Rick Schuler Studio Manager

Rick Schuler

Creative Producer / Studio Manager

Every day I try to do things that matter to our employees so they're able to do things that matter to our clients. A big part of what makes us different is understanding the big picture and focusing on what's important to the client and why it's relevant to their customers.
Wally Ottenhoff Web Lead

Wally Ottenhoff

Web Lead

Most people approach us just wanting a website, but soon realize that alone won’t solve their problem. It’s my job to dig deep, working toward a common goal to make sure we have a cohesive message infused through everything we produce. Once we’ve locked into that idea, our work really starts to matter.
porter office dog



Sometimes mattering is about being there for my coworkers — and sometimes they need to throw a ball, go for a walk, or pet a very cute dog. I’m happy to be the proverbial morale boost in the office. I’m even happier when my efforts are rewarded with a treat and affirmation that I am indeed a good boy.