It’s about living in and experiencing McHenry County.
It’s about taking in, exploring, experiencing, and appreciating the businesses, events, and life around us.
We do hope you’ll join us by becoming a Lifer (it’s free) and sharing your experiences, and hopefully finding some new ones along the way.
Hi, we’re Brian and Jill Brown — your neighbors in McHenry County, Illinois. Spanning either side of the “50” mark with two kids, a cat, digital marketing careers spanning decades, and regular lives to lead.
Just like you…more or less.
We live in Crystal Lake — well, Nunda Township to be precise — but are not natives. We are coming up on 10 years of living in McHenry County though and still love the great balance it offers — far enough from urban life that we don’t have to deal with insane daily traffic, noise and crowds, but close enough that we can enjoy the cultural attractions when we want.
But it’s more than that.
There’s so much to experience and explore in McHenry County, and sometimes we all forget that. So we wanted to give back to the community we love in the best way we know how: a site dedicated to exploring and experiencing McHenry County.
We hope you’ll join us on this exploration by sharing some of your own experiences, and we’ll do our best to help you find new ones too.
Get to Know…
Brian R. Brown
While it has been a path, my career path has certainly been anything but straight. Menswear retail. National sales for window treatments. Consumer packaged goods product management & new product development of school and office products.
Then a huge leap from the tangible to the digital with web design, web hosting, and search engine optimization (SEO). From my own business, to working on SEO for global brands at leading SEO agencies, to an in-house SEO role for an HR software company.
But in all cases, the gap between where I lived and where I worked, or at least where the clients I worked for were, grew wider. Moving to Crystal Lake, I still found myself working remotely from my home office and driving to Madison, Wisconsin a couple days a week to meet with my team, or then into Chicago four days a week after closing the Madison office.
Even after changing roles within the company, I now found myself working remotely from home and flying to the San Diego headquarters every other week, or flying to client locations. Changing companies only improved the situation to working from home and taking the train into a Chicago headquarters a few times a month.
And that’s when the idea for McHenry Life came about. A way for me to get better connected to the local community, take all of my knowledge and skills to help promote and grow local businesses, and to help people within the community (and myself) to explore, experience, and better appreciate some of the great opportunities right here in “our own backyard.”
Brian R. Brown
Jill Kocher Brown
Brian is the big idea man, businessman and developer in this endeavor, and I’m the editorial support. It works well because I spent my educational years at Stanford gearing up for a career in journalism. After a year in the trenches, I realized that producing a daily paper that arrives on doorsteps in the morning means working to produce the paper evenings and nights. Not an exciting prospect to a recent college grad.
That epiphany resulted in a jump to the press relations department at Intel, the computer chip makers, managing and developing their online press room. The only problem: I had never been on the web. My first response upon seeing a website was, “Why would anyone want to look at this?” But it was a good job with a great company, and living in Silicon Valley at the time meant there was a lot of buzz around this internet thing.
Fast forward 18 years and now there’s no way you could pry me away from “this internet thing.” I climbed the ladder in the online marketing department at Intel doing everything from hands-on development to online operations management to global online process and branding training.
In 2000 I hopped to the Midwest to be closer to family and stumbled into a new career in search marketing – specifically SEO. I’ve been working in SEO ever since, managing programs for clients like shoes.com, Ann Taylor, Bush’s Beans, Groupon, and many more.
SEO introduced me to my husband and moved us to Crystal Lake. We love living here, and love sharing our excitement with you. What excites you about life in McHenry County? Tell me! I’d love to infuse McHenry Life with our combined explorations and experiences.
Jill Kocher Brown
Identity Developments, LLC
McHenry Life, in and of itself, isn’t a company. Behind McHenry Life…the website, the directories, the magazine, the social community, the service…is Identity Developments, LLC. Identity Developments was created by Brian a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It originally started in 2003, in Madison, Wisconsin as a web presence provider offering web design, website hosting, domain name registration, and search engine optimization (SEO).
When Jill and Brian moved to Illinois in 2010, so did Identity Developments. While some of the services and focus have changed and it has changed from a humble sole proprietorship to an LLC, rest assured that it is still a small, local-focused company aimed at delivering the best experience in helping businesses market themselves online.
Please feel free to visit its own website if you’d like to learn more about Identity Developments.