A Guide for a Fall Roadtrip in Northenr Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. See some of the most historical sites of Northern Michigan with the State Historic Preservation Office.

The Fresh Exchange began in 2010 when Megan Gilger hit the publish button on the first blog post. She was simply looking to create a space that allowed her creative freedom while working on Graphic Design projects from the basement at her parent’s home that were far from inspiring to her. Mike Gilger, her husband and her were fresh out of college in the recession with creative degrees and simply trying to find a way to make ends meet. The blog allowed them both space to create, define their path, and connect them with a creative world beyond their front door.

In the last 8 years many things have happened that have shifted The Fresh Exchange into what it is now. Megan and Mike began working together after Mike working for an agency felt he needed a new perspective. Megan’s graphic design work had picked up and the blog grew as they shared lifestyle content about traveling, working, and building a life as two creatives. They together built a design business and built award winning lifestyle brands for various types businesses. At the same time they worked with brands of all types on the blog to create social content on their Instagram, blog, and Pinterest. During this time they traveled often and were based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

When they had their first child, they made the decision to head home to Northern Michigan. Megan left the design portion in their business and Mike carried on with his own clientele. They each supported each other in their endeavors but took time to figure out how their life looked as parents and creatives working for themselves. Megan carried on creating content with brands and building The Fresh Exchange. Moving back to Northern Michigan, Megan narrowed her content to focus on what life was like for her as a mom and creative in a seasonal place. Northern Michigan has always been her heart as it is where she was born and raised. Coming back here, she found solace in the seasonal rhythms while they built their home on 10 acres in Leelanau County. Raising a baby and finding new directions in her career, she began to write content focused on eating with the seasons, living amongst the seasons, and the culture of gathering in a seasonal climate. She spent a year cataloging their journey of building their home on a hill in the countryside of Northern Michigan.

Now, Megan and Mike are venturing into new areas of creative work with The fresh Exchange and opening an online store focused curated handmade products from Northern Michigan focused on seasonal living and the culture of living on the shore of Lake Michigan. Launching at the end of October 2018 they hope to use the store to shift our perspective of consumption and to start moving our eyes toward the impact of local and our communities whether near or far. Megan works directly with each maker to design products that she loves and believes complement a life of seasons. It has been her dream for years to work with makers directly and to create products with deep meaning while doing good for the community that inspires her most.

The Fresh Exchange has shaped dramatically through the years just as any creative business should, but the thing that stays true is that this space continues to always inspire Megan and Mike Gilger and always shows the true heart they have for living with intention.

Frequently Asked Questions

We receive a lot of questions in emails about so many things about how we create our content, how we run our business, how we got started and so on. This is why we wanted to share some answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see an answer to your questions, we would love to hear from you! Ask away we do love to answer :)

ABOUT THE BLOG:

How do you create your imagery for your blog?
All the content on our site unless otherwise stated has been created by Mike and I. We shoot anywhere we may find ourselves from our home to our studio to where we are traveling. We shoot all of our images with our Canon 5D Mark III with a 35mm 1.4f. We then process all of our images in Lightroom using a filter that we specifically created just for our content. Depending on the post we will then do hand lettering to place over the image that we have taken into Photoshop. The hand lettering is created on paper and scanned in for digital use. If we are shooting on our iPhone we use apps such as Snapseed and A Color Story for editing.

What is your camera setup?
For all of the images on The Fresh Exchange we use a Canon 5D Mark III and a 35 mm 1.4f. We also use our iPhone 6 a ton! For more info on what Mike suggests checking out his post on the Camera Essentials for Bloggers and Creatives. To edit our photos we use Lightroom. The most important thing in capturing our images is getting the purest white balance so our whites are white and our blacks are black. Our goal is to create images that feel natural, in the moment, and honest.

Where do you get your fonts?
90% of the fonts we use on images are actually Megan’s own hand lettering that I create. Megan started creating her own type because she was frustrated with the endless search to find the right font. It is actually quicker and I am usually happier with it than if I spent money and hours searching. If you are looking for great hand-lettered fonts check out Creative Market.

Can I purchase your hand lettering anywhere?
Currently, you can find some of Megan’s hand lettering that you can use within the iPhone app, Over. There you can find a few packs of graphics there, so check it out! You can also hire Megan to do lettering for you as well. Shoot us an email for pricing.

Are some of your posts sponsored?
Yes, we do use affiliate links and partner with brands to create content. We do indicate which posts have been sponsored, but no matter what our opinions are 100% our own. We work hard not to bombard you with sidebar ads or other excessive advertising. We choose brands that naturally fit within our lifestyle without feeling forced. We say “no” more than we ever say yes because we value the content we place here every day and we value each of you. That being said, a blog does have costs as it grows. In order to maintain this space and provide inspiration to you every day we have had to find a way to keep the doors open and lights on. If you ever feel that you find a sponsorship out of alignment we would love to hear from you about why and what felt off to you. We create here first and foremost to offer something to the creative community, to collaborate, to have fun, to share our knowledge as business owners, and more than anything to inspire you to dream bigger, create more, and explore the world. If in anyway you feel we have fallen from that, we would love to hear from you.

How is your blog built?
Our blog runs on the WordPress platform and is a custom designed site by us that is tailored to our needs and what we love and believe in for the future of blogging. We host our blog on Flywheel and absolutely love it, they handle it all!

Can I hire you to design a similar site for me?
We no longer build websites outside of maintaining our own or for retainer clients. Thought we love doing it, it isn’t something we are able to focus on fully anymore. We are working gathering a list of all of the amazing people we would recommend for creative work, however, if it is a website or illustration focused, we would recommend reaching out to our long-time friend and studio mate Jordan Young. He does illustration and WordPress design & development.

ABOUT US:

Are you married?
Yes, Mike and I got married in 2010 in Suttons Bay, Michigan. We have one child who was born early 2016.

Where do you live?
We live in Leelanau County, Michigan. Mike grew up in Texas and was born outside Austin and I am from Northern Michigan. We have traveled all over the world and lived for 3 years in Raleigh, North Carolina, but ultimately desired to live close to family. We knew the only thing that would make us feel fully home was to split our time between Michigan and Texas. We want Hayes, our son, to grow up near family and those who loved him. These two cities are truly home to us.

How did you buy a house as entrepreneurs?
We purchased our first home in downtown Raleigh in 2014 and we totally understand that as entrepreneurs that sounds crazy to be able to purchase a home. We shared a full post here about how we accomplished purchasing a home as entrepreneurs. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment for us to respond to. We will respond quicker to that than we will an email. We hope the post helps you make the dream come true for you as well!

Do you have a city guide for Traverse City?
YES! Check it out here.

What are you doing when you are not blogging?
We love blogging but it is not 100% all of our life. Mike and I run our studio and also are helping creative entrepreneurs grow and become more successful. When away from the computer and work completely, we are hiking, traveling, and spending time with our families.

I still have questions, can I email you?
Yes, we try hard to respond to every email, but many times our clients take priority over personal notes. We love every email and read each one and though it may take us a month we will do our best to get to your email as soon as possible. Know that our delay doesn’t mean we don’t care or haven’t read something you sent. We love hearing from each of you.

Speaking

Circles Conference / 2015

Creative Mornings RDU / 2015

Brand Market / 2014

Huffington Post Live / 2014

Alt Design Summit / 2014

Circles Conference / 2013

Designer Vaca / 2013

Alt Design Summit / 2013