ZENFUL INSPIRATION – Who is behind this thing?
My name is Lori (Leach) Forster, and I am the original designer for all of the websites you see in the Zenful Creations portfolio. I opened a computer to good ole’ Netscape in 1994, after being an avid “I-am-never-touching-a-computer-person”, flipped the source and the rest is history. I have years of hands-on experience designing websites, creating landing pages, and optimizing content from small start-up entities, to better-known names such as Hotels.com, SpaLook, and iKarma. While most of my experience has been hard-earned as a freelancer from my home office I have been involved with several successful internet ventures including Cyber Networks Inc., Dermdex/Salu, and SkinStore.com performing as an integral part of their executive management teams.
After I became a mother in 2000, I decided that I did not want to be the corporate mom, and I gave up the 9 to 5 for babies. In the time that was not spent with my kids, I was on the computer reading, learning, absorbing, and doing. I learned how to troubleshoot and diagnose spyware problems and virus infections and freely helped users in forums all over the web rid their computers of junk, and spent three years as the Technical Moderator on 20ishParents.com.
I spent time designing whenever I had the vision and opportunity – for friends, pro-bono projects, and the like. I spent time on design forums where I could help others and learn at the same time. Expanding on my prior Hotel Reservations Network, Cyber411.com and Web Genius SEO experience, search engines, and mastering them became the most favored tool for being a resource to others; If I did not know the answer, I was able to find the right answer with a good search.
Learn By Doing – Give Time Freely
I was invited to be a team designer on the exclusive design team at Design Outpost which allowed me to further enhance my knowledge of user interface & experience in design and wireframe planning. Being involved in the projects held there presented different challenges with each job and allowed me to push myself in design and at the same time excel in my XHTML & CSS skills. Late in 2004, I was promoted to Team Moderator to assist the site owner in operations while overseeing hundreds of designers competing to win the posted design projects.
While participating in design projects around the web, I became attracted to the work of Jason Black, and became a follower and a fan. He has that aesthetic crispness that makes my mind get “zenful”. Since that time every client of mine that has required rebranding has been graced with a JBlack Design, and his talent and vision have great influence over the designs I produce.
In March of 2005, while working for one of my clients, I needed to have a second person review my CSS markup before finalizing the files, and I turned to the WSG Email List for help. There I found the brilliant Parker Torrence and immediately added him to my team to assist me in providing my growing client base with XHTML/CSS-designed websites that are always current with standards.
Growth by Word
In late spring of 2005, I joined the iKarma team as Creative Director. iKarma was a new reputation management entity that furthered my interest in WOM marketing, something I had been relying on in business, but never clearly realized until this time. I joined the Coral Springs chapter of Business Networking International – Success Express – in August as the seat holder in the Web Specialist position, and began attending local networking functions as often as possible.
I quickly advanced in my chapter of BNI to become part of the Membership Committee, The Visitor Host, and then the Event Coordinator. I also dove headfirst into the BNI Ambassador Leadership Program and attended conferences several times a month.
My tightening grasp on buzz marketing was further enhanced at the 2005 WOMMA Summit in New York City, as the spokesperson for iKarma who sponsored the event. There I planted seeds in some of the largest corporations in the US that would come to harvest in a big way with the Facebook Revolution evolving. I came away from that conference even further enlightened, and ready to “put MY web to work.”
In February 2006, I incorporated Zenful Creations.
However, Life Shifted
On April 30th of 2006, my father was in a tragic motorcycle accident that left him in a four-year-long coma. I left South Florida to go home to Chattanooga, TN to take care of him. Being that he required so much of my attention, I culled my still-growing client list down to just a handful that I knew extremely well. In June 2006, I got married and was hired to be the Creative Director for SpaLook, LLC. At that time it and iKarma were the only clients I was working with.
My father passed away on April 11, 2010, a short time after the sudden passing of my mother from Leukemia on September 25, 2009, so I again took some time away from work to take care of issues with my family.
I did not begin taking on clients again until the fall of 2010. That is when I began to re-evaluate who I wanted to assist in their web ventures… no longer just taking anyone that came along. I became more compelled to choose my clients based on my passions in life, and the things I love the most. I did not really procure any “new” clientele, and instead only worked for the next few years with a handful of long-time clients providing spot design services, SEO, and Social Media Marketing.
For several years, I spent my days not doing as much designing and honed more toward development. Through my website, I connected with David Young from Atlanta, GA, and took on the job of Web Manager for his company All Quality Heating & Air, a position that later turned into Creative Director and afforded many more projects. In partnership with Dave, since 2016 I have served as the CTO of Premier Specialty Network, where I am still in service.
In August of 2018, I decided I needed a BIG change, and took on a part-time job with the Boy Scouts of America. During my 4 years of service in the organization, I devoured every opportunity for training in leadership, mentoring, and youth associations. I am a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow and have been trained in Woodbadge, DYLC, Kodiak, and all other available training from the BSA through their web portal. Yes, I trained in almost everything available!
I will say that I probably found my greatest passion in the Scouting program – all due to the relationship that it created with my son, Niko. With the training in the program operations and mentoring partnership that was created through the core purpose of the program, Nikolas not only earned the BSA’s top honor of Eagle Scout but also served his OA Lodge until his 21st birthday after serving for four consecutive years on the OA Lodge Executive Committee, including 2 as it’s Chief. He ended his Youth tenure as the 2023 Order of the Arrow Section E3 Vice-Chief. Proud Mom does not even begin to cover it.
At the same time, I started working at the BSA, my daughter, Ty Nicole, left her position at Tech Town Chattanooga as the Office Administrator, and Web & Social Outreach Manager, and joined Zenful Creations as a full-time Apprentice Web Developer and Graphic Designer. With her expertise in all things social media, together we will be venturing into Custom App Design and Development, as well as Social Reach.
Active Leadership Roles
I was elected to the Board of Directors for Chattacon as the Web Services Department Head in January of 2019.
I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Chattanooga Speculative Fiction Fans, Inc. in June of 2019.
I joined WAKO Team USA Kickboxing as the Web Services guru in 2019.
I was elected to the Board of Directors for Hart County Community Theatre, Inc. as the Web Services Executive & Digital Publicity Chairman in October of 2021.
Assistant Scoutmaster for Unit 1005 in Jasper, TN.
This site was originally created in April 1998, and has had several design overhauls since then. I retired the static version of my Lucky Zen design, which was introduced in the May 2005 CSS Reboot in August of 2017. The current web presence is built on WordPress. The design still relies upon the simplistic single image of a lucky bamboo plant that was photographed by Absolutely Frenchy at iStockPhoto.
I still do markup in PSPad and use TopStyle for CSS, and love it. I use BBPress for the Workroom of archived projects. The stock photography that is used throughout the site is from Pexels.
Web hosting is by Webquarry.