Last week our clients may have noticed (not without warning) that we’d effectively gone dark for 24 hours.

The reason?

Big Sea’s inaugural Ship It Day!

Wait, what?

Ship It Day was an opportunity for the team to focus on unbillable passion projects individually, in small teams, or together on the whole. We dove into lines of code we’d been meaning to write, functional design concepts that had yet to manifest, and content and copy we’d been putting off or simply didn’t have an opportunity to get to.

The key concepts were exploration and innovation, and a foray into new things we might not otherwise dip our toes into. In this spirit, Ship It Day delivered in spades.

It started with a casual lunch meeting a week before the Ship It clock started ticking away, an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another and settle in on some project concepts. Within the hour, our conference room whiteboard was filled with a myriad of ideas ranging from the serious to the inane.

Once the projects were roughly outlined, we assigned ourselves to tasks according to our strengths and interests, breaking up and allocating each of our respective 24 hours in what amounted to the least stressful estimating meeting we’d held in months.

The day before we dug in, we delivered our “shipping papers” —  a detailed overview of our selected projects with a plan of attack intended to smooth out the process but also highlight any potential problem areas.

Ship it Day begins.

Ship It day itself began much like its preceding days — with a lunchtime kickoff and a handful of beers. After we got some general chatting and pleasantries out of the way, however, it was straight tunnel vision as we dove headfirst into the marathon stretch.

Chris and Josh quickly put their heads down and dug into their collaborative project, a brewers’ ingredient database app called HopVault.

After some inspiring Girl Develop It meetups, Sue was eager to begin designing and developing her own fully responsive site to help a heroic friend deliver a message of inspiration.

Meanwhile the Jameses began the arduous task of learning advanced iOS development concepts (James S) and UI design (James B) for a fully functional feature-rich Brewery Bay mobile app (that’s two beer projects, if you’re counting).

Morgan started in on much-needed content updates for our own site while Erin began curating content for client kickoff notebooks and inbound marketing materials.

Daryn finally found the opportunity he was looking for to employ his Raspberry Pi as he taught himself to code Ruby in an effort to implement a bot for HipChat (our internal chat platform).

Even Andi joined the fray, diving into Sass to finally make some sweeping design changes to Big Sea’s own site.

And I spent the brunt of my time on a pinball dashboard, a score tracker/leaderboard to be implemented on our site showcasing the top performers. (No doubt my motives come into question as I currently hold the top two positions.)

When the lights go down in the city.

As we plugged away beyond normal hours, the office remained surprisingly quiet. Only the clicking of keyboards and mouses and occasional cracking of a beer broke the silence. Everyone was focused on delivery within a 24-hour period. The only early break came in the welcome form of Chicago style pizza (and a few more beers).

Some of us floated in and out of the office, some of us moved to new projects — James B started in on a Big Sea font, based on our logo type; Josh started in on Sketch templates to streamline design workflow. And some of us added crucial That’s What She Said™ functionality to our projects.

As day gave way to night, a few more filtered out while some of us persisted on a steady diet of caffeine, loud music and the occasional pinball game. A handful of interesting after-hours visitors knocked on our door at some particularly dubious times, no doubt drawn to the alluring charms of a bunch of overtired nerds punching away at laptops and swilling Four Loko.

A day of reckoning.

As the next day broke, those of us who’d parted ways with the office rejoined the overnighters (James S and Daryn) in a steady stream, getting back to our projects at hand or even beginning new ventures.

And at noon, it all ended the same way it began: over lunch.

As we presented our projects to the group, I couldn’t help but be impressed by what had been quietly evolving around me. The saga ended with a vote which wound up a dead even tie, broken by a random selection by SeaBot, Daryn’s HipChat bot whose feature list had grown exponentially through the night.

That’s right, SeaBot effectively crowned itself champion. Apparently the humility scripts will be committed with v2.0.

So what happened to all of our genius output?


Be on the lookout. Some of us will be sharing detailed project breakdowns. Or perhaps you’ll stumble across something new on our site, in your inbox, or in the App Store.