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Krystal Kreation

A Brookhaven resident is reaping the benefits of her talents ingraphic design and her love for Krystal hamburgers.

Rhonda Freshwater, a self-employed graphic designer, recentlycaptured first place in the chain restaurant’s national”Design-A-Box” contest.

“I’ve always loved Krystal, and I knew I had to enter thecontest,” said Freshwater, a McComb native who’s lived in downtownBrookhaven for almost three years.

The 39-year-old said she was informed of the contest through achain email from the Krystal Company and immediately set to work onher design.

“Work was slow, so I decided to try this out,” she said.

Freshwater, who does various design projects for clients allover the United States and has done work for international clientsin the past, entered three designs into the contest and waited fornews.

“When I entered the contest, they told us when the winners wouldbe placed on their website,” she said.

When she checked the website and saw that two of her designs hadmade it into the top 20 of more than 3,000 entries, Freshwater saidshe was stunned.

“I thought I was going to pass out,” she said.

That wasn’t the biggest shock for her, though. She soondiscovered that one of her designs, a black-and-white Krystalhamburger that talks in text message shorthand, had won first placeand would soon start appearing on Krystal boxes.

“I was ecstatic,” said Freshwater.

As the contest’s grand-prize winner, Freshwater was awarded$10,000 and treated to a week-long trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., withher parents, David and Mary Freshwater, of Bogue Chitto.

“Krystal paid for everything, and we stayed from June 5 untilJune 9,” she said. “We did a lot of public relations stuff, got tosee some sights and did some shopping.”

While in Chattanooga, Freshwater received star treatment and wasthe focus of two television interviews and three radiointerviews.

“I was really glad my parents were able to come with me,especially since I’m not so good at the PR stuff,” she said.

Freshwater and her parents took advantage of the free vacationand visited Ruby Falls, rode the Incline Railway and were even ableto throw out the first pitch at a Chattanooga Lookouts baseballgame.

“It was all a lot of fun,” she said.

During the trip, Freshwater was also formally presented with hercash prize and a huge replica of her design on a Krystal box duringKrystal’s corporate quarterly luncheon.

“I got the box and a huge ‘Ed McMahon’ check to take home withme,” said Freshwater.

She said the entire experience was just a culmination of herlove for graphic design.

“I’ve been into graphic design for a long time,” she said.

Freshwater said when she first started searching for a careerafter graduating high school, she settled on architecture andentered a program for it at Mississippi State University. Aftertaking a few classes, she decided she didn’t care for architecturebut did enjoy her art classes.

“I had to take art classes for my architecture major, and Ifound I liked them,” she said.

She soon switched her major and graduated in 1994 with aBachelor of Fine Arts degree with emphasis in graphic design. Hercareer blossomed from there, with her spending two years working inOrlando, Fla., and 13 years in Atlanta before returning toBrookhaven as her own boss.

“It’s a cool job, and I’m honored to have won such a big contestwhile doing what I love,” she said.

Freshwater and her parents arrived back in Brookhaven Thursdayafter their Chattanooga trip. She said one of the first things shedid after returning home was open a savings account and deposit hercontest winnings.

“I’ll pay off a credit card and save the rest … no splurging,”she said. “And I’ll always have good memories from this experienceto keep, too.”