At Home With Kathleen Barnea Spink

On ‘At Home With,’ we virtually visit our members and catch up on their current normal. From recommended reading and podcasts to creative recipes and wellness routines, get to know the network – and maybe even come away with a little activity inspo.

Meet Kathleen Barnea Spink, Purple's EVP. The mom of three gets real about stay-at-home life, from enjoying extra time with her little boys to delving into her beauty to-try list. Kathleen shares what she misses most about workdays at the agency's HQ, plus the destinations she has front of mind as travel opens up.

What’s your usual location, and where are you currently staying?

My usual location is NYC – I live in the Sutton Place area, and that is definitely where my heart is. These past few months though I’ve been lucky enough to go back and forth between there and my house in Quogue, NY. 

I have three young boys (Winston, 6; Otis, 4; and Quincy, 1.5) and two dogs so “room to run” has been pretty crucial throughout this process. 

Did you discover any new pastimes or creative outlets during lockdown that you’ll stick with?

For pastimes, especially in the start of quarantine, I would make sure to take some time around lunch or at the end of the day every day with my boys to do something we affectionally referred to as “mommy recess” which was basically a walk (me) and scooter ride (them) around the neighborhood. Sounds pretty uneventful I’m sure – but was actually really nice time to spend with my boys, as well as time to clear my head. Big change from eating at my desk!

Also, weirdly for someone who works in beauty, my personal beauty routines are pretty sparse, so for the first time I started actually trying new things. I basically went down a bit of a rabbit hole of all the things on my self care “to do” list; I hope some of it sticks…

For creative outlets, I honestly feel like my job really helps tick that box in so many ways. I get to work with so many creative people and brands daily. That said, I have deepened some hobbies. I truly love to cook (luckily so does my husband who is a true grill master) and I think we have gotten better at it and more experimental – mostly out of necessity from the change of cooking 1-2 days a week to 7 days a week. Also, while we have been living in the Quogue house, we have been renovating it piece by piece so I can add an interior design feather to my cap. 

Also, I’ve been trying (mildly successfully) to hop on the Peloton here & there. Don’t follow me - its not that impressive!

Do you have any favorite podcasts, books, newsletters, etc.?

Can I just be honest here and say that if I have any downtime after working all day, then channeling my inner "domestic goddess,” then putting kids to sleep, come 9pm I watch TV/Netflix. My brain is too fried for anything else. In normal times I love books – mostly fiction – and studied literature & politics in college, but who has the time? My time to read is normally flights sans-kids – but that hasn’t happened in a while!

What do you miss most from pre-Covid life, and what’s keeping you going right now?

So many things… I miss the excitement and vibrancy of the every day. The Purple office is a pretty exciting place to be, seeing who is coming, going, meetings and above all, seeing my team every day. They are all such unique and amazing people. I also weirdly miss the routine of waking up and getting ready for work. Ya know, getting dressed for the day, makeup, fragrance, etc. Also, I miss work travel – as a mom of three, a night or two in a hotel in a different city is definitely a welcome luxury at times – do you hear me working moms?

On a personal level, while I’m lucky that many of my friends are in the Hamptons as well during this great Covid migration, many of my friends are not, and I miss them a ton. Also, we travel a lot as a family, and my husband, kids and I really miss doing that. But really what I miss the most is just living in NYC. The convenience, the energy, the vibe, the spontaneity (and the takeout options, of course).

Any fall plans?

Spending more time in the city and hopefully resuming “normal" life. To be clear – I have been so lucky throughout this time and have loved this additional time with my amazing husband and boys, family and close friends in our little bubble, but I look forward to expanding that world a bit – as I’m sure everyone is!

As travel starts opening up, where will you be vacationing first?

Back to my home country (and where I grew up), Israel… specifically Tel Aviv, my favorite city and country. I miss my family and just being there for a lack of a better way of describing it. Also the food; I really, really miss the food. I’ve also been toying with Hawaii or something more longhaul for next new year… with the hopes that the world will be more normal by that point, and that my youngest son will be old enough to be parked for a long time with an iPad (what can I say – you do what you have to do) not to make the flight a nightmare!


The Anti-Pivot: How The Gathery is Saving Story-Led Experiences

At the core of our creative services agency, The Gathery, is the experiential practice we are most known for. For nearly the entirety of my and Luigi’s 20-year career, events - which were later renamed experiential - would define us. When Covid-19 hit our industry and we watched virtually all of our experiential business evaporate, we asked ourselves like everyone else: “what’s our pivot?” We pulled out the unused ideas folder in search of a product we could create without touch. Would we finally make VR events a thing? Could we do concerts on Zoom? What about leveraging the reach of our social influencers to push product in the interim? The problem with everything we came up with was that it lacked – well, experience.

We entered the world of experiential marketing because we believe in the transformative power of experience. That means, our work must be IRL. We need to stand in front of the art. We need to be in the audience in the dark watching what happens on stage. We have to imbibe the scent in the air and commune with others making similar discoveries around us. Experience is a part of humanity and trying to create digital simulacra felt like a phony and shallow endeavor for us.

So, the Gathery is currently focusing on a few new endeavors as we wait this storm out, and none of them abandon our core belief that experience is essential. That means, we will bring our signature style of story-led experience to the guest until they can once again come together.

Photo: Big Breakfast Studio

We thought the reader would enjoy some of our thinking for one such project for HBO Max that was a runaway success. Our advice – stick to what you know. Do what you do best. And make it work for this time period knowing that this too, shall pass.

Originally imagined as a premiere event for Season 3 of Search Party on HBO’s newly minted streaming service HBO Max, our activation quickly pivoted as New York City and the country at large felt the impact of COVID-19 during shutdown. 

Photo: Big Breakfast Studio

Reimagining the launch event to an immersive experience-in-a-box, we took a single part of the story – namely the main character Dory’s “Mystery Map” where she uses red thread to connect the dots on a murder. Of course (spoiler alert!), she gets it all wrong and that red thread becomes a hilarious mess as the show continues on.   

Our custom Mystery Kits were designed as an evidence box and filled with products curated from local-businesses of the show’s neighborhood, Brooklyn, providing everything recipients needed to throw the ultimate viewing party in the safety of their homes. The kits were sent to 200 members of the press, influencers, cast and crew, and celebrity fans of the show. Within the kits themselves, was a Mystery Map of Brooklyn that we designed and curated—featuring local favorites frequented on the show, neighborhood spots to visit, and participating partners. As a Brooklyn-based agency, we strive to support the creative community around us—now more than ever, we aimed our support at creating positive impact on the local businesses we admire during these trying economic times while providing context for the box and show itself. 

Photo: Big Breakfast Studio

To amplify the program, the Mystery Map lives digitally on the show’s website and unlocks exclusive offers and promotions to those same featured businesses. Messaging was amplified through social, with ten influencers curated by The Gathery and our partners at social media agency Billion Dollar Boy posting and sharing how they threw the ultimate viewing party at home which generated a sensational amount of engagement and buzz around the show’s season launch far exceeding our client’s expectations.

In fact, we had Oscar-winning directors, Hollywood heavyweights and superstar actors from the broader Warner Media world request reprints of these unique experiential boxes after the promotion was over. The concept proved that a well-thought out immersive experience does indeed fit inside the box.

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