Digital Art and Design Alum Launches New App to Help Us Grow Stronger, Healthier Relationships

Posted December 20, 2020

Managing personal relationships can be overwhelming in the best of times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic where physical separation—or in some cases, constant proximity— has shaken even the strongest of bonds.

But what if we could track and manage our relationships with others in the same way we do our finances? Yup, there’s an app for that, and it’s powered in part by Emily Grush, a recent graduate of KCAD's Digital Art and Design program.

Grush is the co-founder and chief creative director of Karmascore, a new social media app that acts like a credit score for your relationships. With the app’s launch just weeks away, we sat down with Grush to learn more about what’s driving her to push the boundaries of human connection in a radically healthy new direction.

Woman photographed standing in front of a lakeimage courtesy of Emily Grush

So, what does Karmascore do?

Karmascore is a lifestyle app that acts like a credit score for your relationships. You record your memories with a person, rate the positivity of that experience, and over time are given a Karmascore on how balanced your relationship with that person is—whether it’s a friend, coworker, boss, significant other, or family member. Our main goal is to become a tool for people to recognize healthy, and unhealthy, relationships based on the memories that impact them the most.

 
What makes this app innovative?

We have not yet found any other apps that use features similar to Karmascore’s. Our highlight feature makes it so that, as you add and rate memories you have with a person, that person will receive a “Karmascore” scaling from -100 to 100. You can look at a timeline to see how a relationship has changed, track spending on a relationship, check out the “Relationship Graveyard” if you want to hide a connection or look back on those ex- friends or partners, and even upload pictures and videos for specific memories, without the gaze of social media. With so many self-growth apps, mental health awareness movements, and relationship advice being exchanged through social media, we are so excited to be a part of the wave!

 
An app displaying on a phone screen

A look at the Karmascore app interface (above) and website (below). Gursh and her colleagues were inspired by digital tools used to monitor and improve one's credit score (images courtesy of Karmascore)

An app interface
 
 

What has your role been so far?

My position grew after joining the company as co-founder and chief creative director, as I then made the website, logo, post designs, and now help my incredible teammate Amber Brevig manage social media responsibilities and company brand image. 

 

What motivated you to be a part of this venture?

As someone whose been a listener for friends who are going through a rough time, and has been supported by those same friends in my times of pain, to be able to create something that can help people without those emotional support groups is something I care about deeply. It’s what keeps me working through the AM hours.

 
A graphic communicating the fonts and colors specific to the Karmascore brand
 

Grush's design process (above) eventually led to the logo and brand color scheme (below) of Karmascore (images courtesy of Karmascore)

A graphic of an arrow emerging from a heart
 
 

How did KCAD prepare you for this kind of work?

Above everything, the thing I’m most proud of is the family I found within the walls of KCAD. They truly are a second home. I feel that the creative environment had a huge impact on prepping me for a collaborative project like Karmascore. At KCAD, we all shared ideas, supported and pushed each other. Having that constant access to faculty, creatives, and technology really is a serious argument for attending a college like KCAD.

 

What overall impact do you and your colleagues hope to create?

We hope to help people make healthy lifestyle choices in their relationships. If we can help just one person escape a toxic relationship, whether that be from a family member, friend, or partner, we would be beyond happy.

 

Could you see Karmascore offering next step information for users in abusive relationships?

One of the major pluses about our app is its level of security. We have a feature called Angel/Demon mode where you write your memories with a “disappearing ink.” Only you have access to those secret memories through an internal password, and it disappears from the screen and re-locks as soon as you escape out of the app or your phone goes to sleep. We hope that this helps to keep evidence of an abusive relationship hidden from anyone who tries to invade your privacy.

A computer screen displaying the Karmascore website

Another look at the Karmascore interface (image courtesy of Karmascore)

Has the pandemic changed the focus of the app at all?

If there’s any time to download an app that would help you keep tabs on the emotional health of your connections, it’s now, when you’re in lockdown with family, roommates, and partners, or when you’re managing a team or classroom from your kitchen island. These are stressful, uncertain times, and focusing on your mental health has become more and more of a priority. We want to be a part of that journey.

 

Do you have any advice for current students as they look ahead to their own futures post-KCAD?

Every career field and journey is different. The advice that helped me personally is that, your worth is not dependent on where you are in life. So try not to focus on the “get” (getting out of your hometown, getting the high-paying job, getting recognition, etc) and instead put energy into what you can do for others and yourself. 

For me, nurturing my friendships, learning new skills, and continuing to do art, were things that I could do to keep growing. Just getting out of bed or taking a deep breath is a step. It’s scary to not know what’s ahead during these times, and it hurts to not get to where you originally wanted to go. But as long as you keep moving, eventually you’ll come to a better place. Do what you love, and love doing it. You got this.