Meet Amanda Murray, Executive Design & Innovation Manager, Kings Dining & Entertainment
Amanda Murray is the type of person you want by your side, professionally and personally. When you first meet her, you may think she’s shy or quiet, but after spending time with her, you’ll quickly realize she has a trait that most people yearn for: the ability to listen, understand and then support in magical ways. As a creative designer, she has the challenging job of taking information and design ideas from the “rookies” and turning their vision into a reality, most times beyond their expectations. This takes talent, which Amanda possesses as she can visualize creativity and bring it to life in ways that we have never experienced.
Amanda was raised in Dumont, NJ. A small suburban town about 20 mins outside Manhattan. Amanda’s mother was a very creative person so she and her brother as kids were always involved in art and craft projects growing up. Some of her favorite memories as a child were using the KidPix program on her computer to make hotel brochures and business cards, she would spend hours making these perfect so she could use them when she’d play pretend games with her brother. When in middle school and high school, it’s clear Amanda’s creative talents were noticed as she was chosen to take place in the studio art classes, giving up other electives to have more art classes where she spent her time drawing and painting.
Upon graduating High School, Amanda knew she wanted to stay creative, so she decided to pursue a career in design and shipped off to the little artsy town of New Paltz in upstate New York. Here is where Amanda studied visual art at the State University of New York (SUNY) and took her hands-on creative talents to graphic, digital design. She knew right away she chose the right path, as she loved all her, graphic design classes, even being computer-based. During her time in college, Amanda interned for a local freelance graphic designer near her school. This was where she started working on larger, client bases projects and learned how to work directly with clients. In addition to working with the freelance designer, Amanda also worked with the school, doing some design work for the International School of Business.
After graduating from SUNY with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts, Amanda began her professional career in design. Her first job out of college was with Blue Tulip (later becoming Swoozies, Inc in 2008) where she worked for four years, learning the in’s and out’s of a corporate company design process. Amanda created a range of custom stationery, invitations, and announcements, she worked closely with clients on a daily basis to create tailored design solutions and later had a direct hand in the redesign of their largest invitation catalog.
In 2010, Amanda made the move to Massachusetts where she began working for Ambit Creative Group in Cambridge, MA. She took her collateral design to the next level here, designing interactive PDFs, brochures, direct mail pieces and more. Amanda continued working directly with clients and was now taking their creative projects from beginning concept through completion. Here is where she took her understanding of brand concepts to the next level, having to understand a client’s brand but also have the ability to get visually creative with it while staying within their brand standards.
Over the next eight years, Amanda worked for a few other companies, mastering eBooks, promotional materials, logos, and complete company branding, creating educational training books, creating mood boards and managing photoshoots, and much more, all while learning how to stay on track with deadlines and in a lot of cases, meet quick turnaround requests. It’s no doubt that during this time, Amanda took her creative abilities to new levels, but she also mastered working under pressure and exceeding client expectations, all while having a smile on her face and keeping calm.
During this time, Amanda took all of her creative talents and decided to start her own business (established in 2010), Unleashed Creative Studio. This is where she continued to master what she loved to do, and what she started doing as a young child - creating promotional materials, logos, invitations and more. Amanda began to build her own brand and even her own blog, showcasing her amazing talents in her portfolio and having fun with no limits, on her own time! In 2018, while at a social gathering, a friend mentioned to Amanda that Kings Dining & Entertainment was looking for an additional graphic designer. Amanda was ready for that next chapter!
When asking Amanda what drew her to Kings, she expressed, “as a designer, you can work for nearly any industry, but I loved the idea of designing for a place that is all about memorable events and moments in people’s lives that bring them together. When you are able to create things that promote people having a good time, paired with gorgeous food and drinks, it’s a winning combo to design for.”
Amanda joined the Kings Dining & Entertainment leadership team as a contracted team member in 2018. It only took a few short months for the Kings team to recognize her amazing talents and the value she brought, and without hesitation offered her the permanent position of Visual Design Manager, which Amanda happily accepted. Amanda joined the Kings team a few months after they re-branding to Kings Dining & Entertainment, so her first challenge was to help update all creative materials, promotional and event materials to reflect the new branding. With this, Amanda helped her veteran colleague, Director of Creative & Technology Communications, Roberto Aragão, with updating the style guide with new branding elements that fit within their new concept. She helped to create an official brand guide for internal and external use, as well as a photographer guide for all photographers and influencers who planned to visit/work with Kings, helping to create Kings online presence unified.
Over the next two years with Kings, Amanda helped to design and streamline our training program and materials for the Talent Acquisitions team, has helped with the branding of the 1Up Retrocade, Kings Courtyard opening in Raleigh, NC, the branding of the Kings Cares program, and the development of Kings Dining & Entertainment Specials program. In addition to this, Amanda has also helped to keep all digital visual elements of Kings current and evolving, including the Kings website, in-store digital signage, social media pages and more. One of the bigger accomplishments that Amanda has been with Kings has been the growth of the Royal Insider email platform, where she helped to launch a new email platform, the ongoing re-design the templates as well as the content for which Kings sends to their subscribers, all of which has helped Kings open rate increase by almost 10% in just a few short months.
As Kings continues to grow and evolve as a company, Amanda will have a large hand in the design, recently being appointed as the Interior Design Committee leader, where she will lead and manage a small team designing the interior of future of Kings from the ground up (which is no small project - no pressure, Amanda)!
When asked about how it is working with Amanda, Jenna Gabriel (Sr. Director of Marketing & Brand Development) had nothing but amazing things to say. “Amanda has been an instrumental part of the Kings team over the past two years and has really stepped out of her “comfort zone” taking on new challenges throughout this past year especially, I am confident speaking for the entire Kings team, near and far, when we say that Amanda has earned her the Sales & Marketing MVP award of 2019. She has always been extremely easy to work with, taking vague and small ideas/thoughts and turning them into magical art. She brings a sense of ease to our team, knowing that she’ll always meet and exceed our expectations.”
It’s no doubt how valuable Amanda is to her team, which earned her the promotion to Executive Design & Innovation Manager. Heading into the year 2020, Amanda’s next chapter with Kings begins and her story continues…. so stay tuned for more magic.
Outside of work, you'll find Amanda spending time with her husband, Dan, and their two beautiful dogs, Cali and Kona. Amanda and her husband love dogs so much that they've started volunteering for a local rescue and have been fostering dogs, helping them to find their forever homes. Amanda loves to travel, most specifically to California, and also loves baking and trying new recipes. A hidden secret of hers is that she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie, although we'll have to take her word for it as she's yet to bring them to work to share..... =)