Category: Bright Ideas

  • pills around text that says "A taste of your own medicine: why you should start taking your own advice."If you’re anything like me, you’re REALLY great at giving advice. Providing guidance on someone else’s dating life, or how they should just “take the plunge” with a freelance career, or get started on writing that book is so easy — everything is just so damn obvious and clear. The truth is, we’re all pretty good at seeing things clearly from the sidelines and have the best intentions for our friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and yet most of us seem to fail at taking our own advice.


    What I do for a living is provide advice, guidance and strategy for other people’s businesses. I help them find their audiences, define their niche and strategize the best way to connect their company’s vision with their customers’ needs. I put my blood, sweat and tears into helping others get their shit together, and yet I’ve rarely stopped to use my methods on my OWN business… until I had a bit of an awakening a week ago.


    I finally sat down and looked at my consulting business, which is really hard to do when your brand is primarily just YOU. It’s hard to be IN something and not just a consultant on the outside looking in. I do great work for others. I am incredibly thoughtful, user-centric and attention to detail… yet I struggled to define what my brand IS, what value I actually bring to the table, and align that with what it is I LOVE doing. I’ve inadvertently spent my week in my clients’ shoes, becoming incredibly empathetic to their struggles.


    After fielding countless emails for new client work, I found out a lot about what I DON’T like doing — which I believe is the key to finding yourself AND your brand. I’ve found over the years that I get frustrated when people hire me for just “design work”, when I do so much more than that. “WHY would they think I’m just a designer?” I think, HOW IS IT NOT CLEAR? Then I took a step back. I’ve never defined my own damn niche. My web presence doesn’t reflect the strategy, my focus on brand personalities or ideals that I instill in the design work I showcase. I’ve never really sorted out what I DO do and what I DON’T do because, let’s face it, sometimes you do things you don’t love in order to pay the bills and keep Sallie Mae from hunting you down and cutting off a limb. Well, I’ve decided that I don’t want to do that anymore, just like I don’t want to “dress like a professional”or look forward to “casual Fridays” for any of my future jobs. As the great Matthew McConaughey said — YES, I’m referencing a quote from Matthew McConaughey, is that a problem? Haha :)


    The first step that leads to our identity in life is usually not ‘I know who I am,’ but rather ‘I know who I am not.’ — Matthew McConaughey


    Pretty damn good, right? So here’s what I’m not, I’m not a person who is: manipulative, self-helpy, egotistical, a health nut, lazy, money hungry (maybe a little, but again, Sallie Mae is a ruthless bitch), phony or insincere and I’m not one who posts countless selfies for validation (but hey, I understand if that’s YOUR JAM — you do you). On the services side of what I don’t care to do: heavy web development, tons of illustrations or icons, banner ads, heavy analytic analysis, designing incredibly complex dashboards, and I don’t just make things “look pretty” — I make them functional and for their intended audiences, and yes, in turn they come out pretty damn gorgeous (I’m not egotistical, I’m just tired of being self-deprecating about my work).


    Based on that, I’ve come to realize that I am a person who is: caring, helpful, motivated, passionate, an essentialist, thoughtful, empathetic, creative, straight-forward, hands-on, hardworking and someone who really just wants to spend her days living in a cabin in the woods with her rescue dog, Margot, drinking whiskey, building furniture while listening to Die Antwoord and pretending she’s Yolandi Visser (hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t a little weird). On the services side of what I LOVE and am good at doing is helping businesses: conduct user & market research, identify and understand their audience, find their unique value adds, create engagement methods, create marketing strategies, roadmap their brand strategy, define their brand’s personality and voice, create guides & toolkits, define priorities, and then take all that information to help guide the design of products, print collateral and environmental design. In summation: I genuinely love helping businesses find their audiences, define their niche and strategize the best way to connect their company’s vision with their customers’ needs. It’s all about aligning the company’s passion with THEIR “right” people and then helping them visualize it.


    So now I’m finally taking my own advice in my quest to define my personal brand and business. It has not only helped me with how I approach opportunities, but also the types of clients and projects that I want to attract. We’re naturally drawn to people who are like us, it’s just a fact that we’re all just a bunch of narcissists. But in all seriousness: clients who can identify or respect those qualities in me are going to enjoy our process together. We’ll have some common ground and, hey, that’s not a bad place to start.

  • Sep


    Keep it Up

    Energy and persistence conquer all things.

    —Benjamin Franklin

  • Oct



    Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out. — Thomas Wolsey 


  • Elsie Shutt: founder of one of the first software businesses in the U.S. in 1958..

    Picture: Elsie Shutt, who founded one of the first software businesses, that employed ALL women programmers, in 1958.


    Graph of Women in Computer Science



    NPR’s Planet Money did a short piece on When Women Stopped Coding. Reconfirms the fact that everyone needs validation to learn, grow and to fully reach their potential. Definitely worth a few minutes of your morning. Listen to it here.


  • My creative boner for those Daniels is stronger than ever. If you don’t remember, I posted about these boys a few years back after I had the pleasure of meeting them at the Vimeo awards. Their vision is so distinct and, I’ll admit, a bit strange but it’s SO good. You’ll never see anything like what they do. True creative geniuses.

  • Beyoncé is obviously not a new topic, but Mrs. Carter is one bad-ass lady who’s new album is really challenging the landscape of the music industry. In a land where record execs just want you to push the hottest single, Bey decided to make a whole VISUAL album. This amazing woman decided to create 17 music videos to accompany her new album and released them ALL. AT. ONCE. The amount of work that went into the planning of all of this blows my mind, and each song and video has such a 90s Madonna-meets-Missy Elliot vibe to it’s look that I can’t help but be giddy watching them all over and over and over…

    Well done, Bey, well done. My feminist anthem of 2014: FLAWLESS… so. fucking. good.

  • Nov


    Make Your Own Path

    I have two big things I’m passionate about: creating things yourself and making your own path. This lovely man not only runs his own woodworking company, passed on from his father, but helps displaced Juvie kids find a passion and a place of belonging.


    Not everyone fits into a perfect mold in our society and we tend to disregard people’s strengths, especially in our education system, shoving square pegs into round holes. I one day hope that we will have an education system that tailors itself to individuals and their passions. Whether that be a kid who wants to be a woodworker – giving him applicable math and chemistry skills that pertain to that trade, or if a kid wants to be a chef, veterinarian or artist – focusing and honing in on a person’s passions makes the learning easier because it gives it context. Not everyone wants to be doctors, lawyers or engineers and how amazing would it be to live in a world where people were nurtured to follow their passions and strengths, rather than given a one-size-fits-all education? I think that would be pretty incredible.

  • Nov


    Stay Hungry.

    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

    – William Butler Yeats

  • “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale

  • It takes craftsmanship and skill to execute beautiful paper products. This is a video on how Crane & Co. bevels and guilds their stationary… it’s all done by hand. Pretty incredible. So the next time you get upset about cost, think about the time and love that’s going into your product.

  • fastco_infographic_zmaicFast Company has a really interesting infographic on how money affects laws and elections. This idea isn’t new, we all know money is power, but seeing some cold hard numbers represented by various sized dots really had an impact on me. Pretty disturbing how even school lunch programs are affected by the money being thrown at congress. (5 images total)

  • Jul


    Mosquito Patch


    Did you know that mosquitos actually track you by detecting CO2 from your breath.. crazy, huh? Kite is an innovative product that is currently being tested and seeking funding to release mosquito repellant patches that you wear and can last up to 48 hours. Think about all the people around the globe who die from diseases carried by mosquitos who could really use this… not to mention my sweet-blooded self who gets eaten alive every summer. Another example of technology for good.

  • zmaic_beauty_is_embarrassing

    I feel like I saw the trailer for this two years ago and have been waiting forever to get to see this, and FINALLY Netflix has it available! I’ve already watched it 5 times in the past two months, and thought I’d share it with you in case you haven’t checked it out yet. Wayne White is an artist and creator who does a bit of everything and is responsible for my obsession with Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the famed “Tonight, Tonight” Smashing Pumpkins video. Most of the things that I grew up with, that I really found visually inspiring, were created by this handsome man. This documentary make me feel sane for getting my hands into everything creative and that there’s nothing wrong with being a Jack-of-all-trades.



    Wayne now paints these incredibly lettered scenic paintings that make me giggle every time I see them. Check out his site and his books.


  • Scratch commissions designers to created limited edition nail decals that are high-art, low cost. Flat Vernacular is the guest this month!

  • Jul


    Sailing Ship Kite

    Check out this amazing kite from Haptic Lab! Not only is it cool, it’s also Fair Trade. Check out their other amazing goods, including my favorite quilt.


  • Google launched Project Loon in June 2013 in New Zealand to test the ability to use balloons to transmit internet to the large chunk of the world that doesn’t have access. As they say on their site “Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

    Technology is doing so many incredible things; having the ability to help women entrepreneurs in third-world countries, giving education and medical access to the developing world and ensuring that people affected by major disasters can access the internet. Blows my mind.



  • I found this incredible anti-drug video today on Fast Company’s site. Pretty amazing to watch how the design firm, The Colony, executed it in the behind-the-scenes video. Talented people creating great work.

  • My life has taken me on a lot of adventures and somehow brought me into the world of web design and start-ups. I have slowly begun the process of learning to develop, or “code”, sites in the past year because there aren’t very many people who do it well. I thought that this video is an inspiring look into some great minds who have pioneered the infancy of the internet. Check out and also check out a great online coding site that I’m currently working with called, Skillcrush and start developing your first project today!

  • This incredible triple-decker poster was made by the ridiculously talented Isle of Printing out of Nashville, TN. I love the use of negative space and that the design evolves as you add layers, yet each could stand alone. I’ve always wanted a laser cutter, but this just confirms the need.

  • My best friend in the whole world came to visit from Chicago and the girl is OBSESSED with nail art… so obviously I surprised her with amazing manicures from Ria Nailz…. I got ice cream & doughnut nails and she got ice cream and tribal nails.