Freelance Insights: Caitlin Ritchie

Freelance Insights: Caitlin Ritchie

So as promised, I have another installment of Freelance Insights to share with you today. This time around, Caitlin Ritchie, a fellow designer and blogger, approached me about being apart of this series. After taking a peek at her lovely site (which chalk full of simplicity + white space, two of my favorite things), I knew I would love nothing more than to feature her here and have her share her words of wisdom. Today, Caitlin is speaking on the importance of taking a break every now and again (which is what I’m currently doing), so I thought it was quite fitting…

“This year I am focusing on “being present” in life. As a freelancer that works from home I sometimes find it hard to keep my work time separate from my personal + family time. I talked a little about it here. Design doesn’t feel like work to me so it is VERY difficult for me to step away sometimes.

One thing I cannot stress enough is, don’t overwhelm yourself with work. Take the time to be present in your life and enjoy the little things. Freelancing requires a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to consume your life.  See what you can eliminate, or cut back in your work day. Are you putting too much of a workload on yourself? Maybe cut back on those blog posts. You don’t HAVE to post every day you know! I personally cut my posts back to three times a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday). This works for me, find what works for you. Just remember to “be present” and “turn off” every once in a while. It will benefit both your work and personal life greatly.”

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 04

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: Lesson 04

As we move forward in my #GIRLBOSS series, I am SO happy to finally touch on a topic that really hits home. Finances. One of the things that has prevented me from freelancing full time is the money side of things. As we all know, business has it busy seasons and it has is lulls, that’s just how it goes. Things are great when you can barely keep your head above water because your workload is so full and you appreciate those downtimes when they come. But they can also be quite scary if you aren’t financially ready.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sophia paid close attention to every detail when it came to her business, because it really had bearing on how successful her company would be. As she stated in her book, Nasty Gal went from making $150,000 a year to $150,000 over lunch! It’s astonishing to read that Sophia built her company with zero debt. Credit cards, loans, and borrowing money can make you overwhelmed and buried in bills. So if you don’t have the money to spend on that new flat screen TV, then don’t. Taking the time to manage your money can really have a domino effect on how the rest of your life plays out. It’s important to not neglect the small things, because it may prevent bigger and better things from happening to you.

Although I may be a few years away from completely working for myself, this chapter has really helped me to see the importance of taking control of my finances in order to ensure a successful life. So far, what lesson best speaks to you and your creative life?

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 03

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: Lesson 03

A few weeks ago I started this new mini-series as I made my way through Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS book. I tried to nail down my major “take-aways” from the book and thought I would share with you my thoughts how we can become more successful creatives and entrepreneurs. If you missed my last post in this series, I talked about being a dream chaser and how a “you don’t get what you don’t ask for” disposition can really, sometimes, play in your favor. Today’s tip is a little simpler than that, and I’ve spoke on the idea many times, but this just really solidifies it even more. When Sophia first started selling clothes on eBay, she treated her customers like they were her friends. She made her MySpace a friendly place and always was on top of responding to the comments she received. This was where she was able to gain feedback and really listen to what her customers wanted, which helped pave the path she took with her business.

Let’s get a little discussion going! If you’ve been reading along (or have already read) please share some of your thoughts on the book in the comments below, I’d love to hear what tidbits are helping shape your creative journey!


Creative Q+A: Shauna Haider

Creative Q+A: Shauna Haider / creative director of branch & co-founder of the blogcademy

Tell us a little bit about how We Are Branch came to be. As soon as I started my graphic design program in 2006, I began freelancing to bring in extra income. Over the next seven years, my list of clients continued to build while I worked at a variety of design studios, gaining as much real world experience as possible.

In 2013, I was at a crossroads — I couldn’t expand my freelance business any further because I was completely maxed out. I quit my agency job, launched Branch a few weeks later and haven’t looked back. Working 100% for myself has been some of the hardest work of my life but also the most rewarding and I get to work with people I have immense respect for…including my mom!

Shauna Haider / creative director of branch & co-founder of the blogcademy

Describe your design style. Modern with an edge. I like clean lines, pops of color and solutions that stand the test of time. I keep up with design trends because it’s important to stay informed but I’m always sitting with work before I turn it in, asking myself if it’s the best solution and if it feels balanced.

What are some of your main responsibilities at Branch + what does a typical day consist of? I’m the Creative Director so I’m always focusing on the big picture — how our processes work, how many clients we have the capacity for, what we want to take on more of, what we want less of. I also spend a lot of time in email and on calls, making sure our clients are taken care of. Those personal relationships are really important to me. When I’m not doing those things, I’m designing. I first set out to be a part of the design industry because I loved creating and I never want to lose that personal connection.

Shauna Haider / creative director of branch & co-founder of the blogcademy

What are you currently working on? A little bit of everything! I’m wrapping up the design of a digital course for my other business, The Blogcademy, a branding system for a princess, the design of a new skincare line, a bunch of websites for creatives, a few books…the list goes on. I welcome the mix because it keeps me on my toes, thinking about different solutions.

Talk about one of your most treasured projects. In 2007, I was in my second semester of my design program when an email came in during class. It was from a band signed to Virgin records, asking if I was available to design their album artwork. I was so distracted that my teacher called me out in class. The embarrassment quickly wore off when I read through the email more closely — the artwork would be distributed worldwide and the payment was the equivalent of my entire year of school.

I spent the next two weeks sitting on the floor of my bedroom, cutting and pasting the 12 panels of artwork together and somehow delivered it on time. At the time, I was very inexperienced with design when this job happened and it gave me a lot more confidence to work with larger clients.

Shauna Haider / creative director of branch & co-founder of the blogcademy

Is there a fellow creative that you look up to and why? I’m always chatting with my design peers and follow a lot of their blogs but beyond that, I try to look outside of the industry for inspiration. I’m a big fan of an eclectic mix of musicians including Marilyn Manson, George Michael, Steve Perry, Boy George….the list goes on.

Where do you pull inspiration from? Everywhere! I always carry a camera in my purse and snap photos every chance I get. I also flip through fashion magazines and focus in on unique colors and textures. Online, I like scrolling through Dribbble and Pinterest to keep up on trends.

Shauna Haider / creative director of branch & co-founder of the blogcademy

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? That is such a big question! I’m trying to figure that out for myself right now…but overall, I’m pretty happy with my life. Anything else awesome that happens is the icing on top!

Lastly, any life advice? Deep down, you know what you were meant to do. Listen to yourself. Following what anyone else is doing will leave you unfulfilled. It’s hard stepping out and doing your own thing at first but the more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of the experience.

Freelance Insights: Breanna Rose

Freelance Insights: Breanna Rose

I am thrilled to share another round of Freelance Insights with you all today. If you are new to my blog, this column features fellow designers as they talk about some of their tips, lessons learned, and share short stories during their lives as freelancers. Breanna Rose, is the art director and graphic designer behind Rowan Made + the co-founder of Be Free, Lance workshops, and is probably no stranger to you. Along with a handful of other creatives who have been featured in this column, Bre and I also attend design school together at UW-Stevens Point. I knew once I started this column that I had to have her as guest because when it comes to freelance, she knows a thing or two! So here she is, sharing a story about a client that went up …and missing?!

“Last year, I landed a branding project that I was pretty psyched about. It was for a local catering company that had an awesome vision + aesthetic that was right up my alley. After saying “yes” (it really was a no brainer), we dove head first into the design process and came up with a few solid design concepts that everyone was excited about across the board. Everything appeared to be going smoothly; we had a primary logo, mark, color palette, and font system all in place and ready to go. But just before the last checkpoint, the client went missing. For two months, I sent out friendly reminder emails with the final invoice, hoping that I would get some sort of response. I ended up getting paid, three months later, without any sort of explanation as to what had happened, which was a major bummer given that everything had gone so well up until that point.

To this day, I’m still not sure what happened. Freelancing is funny like that … it throws you curveballs just when you’re not expecting it. Sometimes they’re wonderful and sometimes they’re not. But instead of getting down on myself, I decided to turn a negative situation into a positive one! I still really loved the branding that we had landed on and decided to build everything out into a full scale conceptual project. Using the pieces we had already created, I designed catering menus, business cards, stickers, and a few other fun things as well. And you know what? It’s one of my favorite projects to this date!

When I look back on this project, I don’t get mad anymore. There’s just no point. Sure, it may have been tough in the moment to deal with, but everything passes (even when it seems like it won’t) and solutions can be crafted. Overall, it was a great learning experience that ended up with a killer portfolio piece! And that’s something to be proud of. Definitely.”

Moodboard: Coffeehouse Gathering

Moodboard: Coffeehouse Gathering / holly marie designs
During the process of updating my portfolio for the launch of Little Bison Studio, I decided to revisit an old project, so this is where today’s moodboard comes into play, and it has a little story to go along with it. Back when I was attending college, for one of my senior design projects I was instructed to rebrand a local business. I spent a lot of time researching the local coffeehouse + bakery that I had chosen and really got in the mindset of the client. Their main focus was using fresh and local ingredients and catered largely to the university crowd and families. It was a hip little gathering place with a rustic and homey feel. My color palette consisted of dark, moody colors and kept my type simple matched with a hint of character.

Months after the project was completed and I had graduated, I pinned the project to Pinterest. The owner of the coffee shop saw what I had done and contacted me to see if I would be interested in meeting with him to discuss the rebranding I did. I was over the moon! I took off work later that week, drove back to my old college town and was prepared to blow them away! I came prepared with the original project and a list of things to go over. Long story short, the owner loved the branding I came up with, but wasn’t ready to invest in the rebranding of his business. So, this project will remain a conceptual one but I was happy for the opportunity and experience. As I continue making edits to this project, I promise to share more in the coming weeks! Happy Friday!

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 02

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: Lesson 02

Last week I started this new mini-series that I felt tied in well with my usual Wednesday freelance posts. As I (or we, for those who have decided to join me) make our way through Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS book, I thought I would share with you my thoughts on how she built her company and what we can learn from it as creatives + aspiring entrepreneurs. Last week I discussed the the importance of the fine details in order to set yourself apart amongst your competitors and paying attention to how your process is working for you and your business. And today we move forward with a lesson on obtaining dream clients…

As part of Sophia’s process of giving the customer more of what they wanted, she attended her first trade show in Las Vegas. She approached Jeffery Campbell’s booth, someone she wanted to work with, and was turned down pretty quickly. Not taking no for an answer, she showed them Nasty Gal’s website, so they could see what she was all about. Sophia’s “you don’t get what you don’t ask for” mentality played very much in her favor and now is one of Jeffery Campbell’s biggest clients.

After posting the first part of this series last week and receiving many comments + tweets, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the first part of my #GIRLBOSS series! Keep’em coming!

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: 01

Becoming a #GIRLBOSS: Lesson 01

In spring of last year, one of the books I couldn’t stop hearing about was #GIRLBOSS written by Sophia Amoruso, the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal. Over the holiday I finally got my hands on a copy and I haven’t been able to put it down! Sophia writes with such wit and really illustrates her story (which includes dumpster diving, minor theft, and run of the mill day jobs). As I dig deeper + deeper into this book, I am constantly inspired – it’s hard to believe that Nasty Gal started as a small eBay shop selling vintage clothing! I truly believe that no matter what your aspirations are, we can all take something away from this book. Although I am not quite finished yet, I thought I would make this into a mini-series (I’ve been vigorously taking notes while cozied up on the couch reading). I’ve decided to put a little freelancer spin on things and use what I’ve learned to better myself + my business, so here it goes…

One of the main things that really stuck out to me (and, was kind of a no-brainer) and that was to be completely thorough with your business. When Nasty Gal was a simple eBay shop, Sophia paid close attention to every detail – item descriptions, photography, and shipping just to name a few. It’s the minor details that will make your business stand out amongst the rest. Also, she was aware of what items sold, and what didn’t and made a conscious effort pursue what worked and let go what didn’t. If something turns out to be a flop, just keep moving forward.

If you have read, or are currently in the process of reading #GIRLBOSS, I’d love to hear your take-away’s + thoughts and maybe we can get a fun little discussion going in the comments!

Moodboard: Organic + Ethereal

Moodboard: Organic in Nature / holly marie designs

With the new year not too far off in the distance, I’ve been really trying to buckle down and get things rolling with Little Bison Studio. The website design is near complete, but with a new brand + website comes new projects. This is where today’s moodboard comes into play. Back when I was in college, some of the work I did had a very good base, but as years passed (still cannot believe I graduated college a little over 2 1/2 years ago!) my style has evolved and changed. On the brink of a new brand launch, I wanted to make sure to showcase projects that would attract the type of clients that I love working with. I’ve taken it upon myself to completely re-do an old student project of mine. It was one of my favorites to work on, but as I look back, it doesn’t exhibit my true talents or tastes as a designer. The above moodboard has a natural color palette that combines softer, more muted tones with a striking deep green color. In terms of type, I will be focusing on handwritten fonts that offer up a little bit of texture. My hope is to marry an ethereal aesthetic with the organic side of nature. Can’t wait to share more very soon.

Freelance Insights: Irene Victoria

Freelance Insights: Irene Victoria

Hey guys, I have another installment of Freelance Insights to share with you all today. Irene Victoria, talented graphic designer + small business owner based in Toronto, is such a talent and I just love her design aesthetic! Pinterest, again, is where I first discovered her and her lovely body of work, where I quickly fell into reading her blog on a week to week basis. So here she is, chatting about the importance of saving some creativity for yourself which opens the door for growth, discovery, and keeps us falling in love with what we do.

“Allow yourself time to pursue personal projects. Whether it’s a conceptual project to round out your portfolio, a blog post or a simple print, save a little creativity for yourself and play.

I used to feel guilty about doing this, especially when confronted with an ambitious to-do list and all the other responsibilities that come with running your own business and being adult in general (when was the last time I did laundry?). But I’ve found that the best way to face creative blocks and stay motivated is to open up a blank canvas and start designing – for fun. There is something really freeing about designing without limitations. It’s a great way to grow as a creative and practice new techniques that you may not use on a regular basis. At the end of the day we’re creatives making a living doing what we love. But sometimes we need to save a little bit of that creativity just for ourselves so we can keep falling in love with what we do.”