Link Love: 2.26.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love: Variety Show

• Why are you not doing that one thing that you really want to do?

• Everyone has to start somewhere and these stories of how people working their dream jobs got their start are super inspiring.

• There’s nothing wrong with being basic.

• I’m so glad to hear that print catalogs are making a comeback!

• Need tips to dress up your pet squirrel? Well, here you go!

• Super successful people share what they wish they knew when they were 22 years old.

• If you have a limited amount of time to clean your house, use these tips.

• Feeling restless? Here are 4 things to do when you can’t travel.

• Photographers, is it necessary to share every single photo shoot that you do?

• Want to know how to handle competition like a pro? Promise has some great tips!

• These indigenous folks are way more inventive than the fashion industry!

• It’s okay to not do it all. Really.


Image: Shaped glyphs print by Variety Show.

Out & About #4: Good Coffee

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

There’s plenty of good coffee in Portland but I’m a tough one to please. I want more than that — there has to be something special thrown into the mix to sway me. Over the last few months, there’s a place that’s grown very near and dear to my heart and it’s called Good Coffee. While the coffee is indeed good, it’s everything else that’s not mentioned in the name that has made me a dedicated fan.

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

First up: the decor. Oversized white hex tiles cover the sides of the counters, which are topped with light, creamy, grayish marble. Then there’s a jumbo cactus that never gets old, especially when you’re a dedicated taker of shoe selfies. And, the entrance is done up in penny tiles inlaid with the phrase Good Day. The interiors of both locations are mostly white and anchored with a lot of natural wood for a very Scandinavian modern vibe. Need I say more?

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

Once you’ve been bamboozled by the fabulous decor, tasty banana bread and yes, good coffee, the next thing you’ll notice are the genuinely friendly baristas. I appreciate places that are warm and welcoming. After all, there’s nothing worse than walking into somewhere and getting the overwhelming feeling that everyone hates their jobs with a fiery passion. What a mood killer! Good Coffee is the exact opposite — I’d venture out on a limb and say that it’s the friendliest coffee shop in Portland.

Nubby Twiglet | Good Coffee

There’s nothing like a hangout that not only looks good but makes you feel good. With so much competition in the coffee shop world, the one thing that can still win people over is good, old fashioned customer service. Don’t you agree?


Visit the Good Coffee website and Instagram.
Interested in even more Out & About columns? Click here.

Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part 2

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part 2

Last week, I answered the first 10 of your life and business questions and now I’m back for the second installment. Enjoy!

1. If you want a life in the arts, what do you need to do and what kind of commitments should you be ready to make? —Asuka

If you’re not independently wealthy or keeping your creative outlet as a side project and want this to be your full-time gig, expect to work very, very hard. Competition is stiff but if you if you’re kind to people, dedicated to your craft and stay focused, you’ll find a way to make it happen. I’ve always felt that anything is possible and that mindset has been key to pulling me through slumps. If you’re serious about giving this path your all, expect to give up plenty of nights out with friends as well as weekends in the beginning. Don’t let bright and shiny Instagram accounts convince you that a life in the arts is effortless and overflowing with beautiful inspiration — these moments do exist but the daily grind is pretty unglamorous.

2. Do you feel bad when you are not able to get to every question, tweet, or request? —Rayna

There’s probably a balancing act going on for most of us. I always try to get to my paying clients first (because without them, I can’t eat or pay my mortgage) but once they’re taken care of, I think it’s important to take the time to interact with my audience as much as I can. Some days, I’ll have time to answer blog comments, tweets and so on…and other days, I just don’t. I do think it’s important to let your audience know you care, do your best and try to answer questions as often as possible (like now!)

3. Up until recently, my art has been a side project — it paid for itself. Now, it’s doing well and it may be able to pay for me, too. How does one set aside their own pay? How do you know whether profit should go to you or to creating more? —Gabriela

Great question! When I launched Branch, I quit all outside work cold turkey. There was no backup plan. Because of this, I lived off my personal savings for six months while I built my business accounts to a comfortable level and worked out of my house for the first year to save money.

My suggestion would be to go to your local bank and set up a set of business accounts separate from your personal ones. Get a debit card and checkbook for these accounts. Next, if you’re your only employee, set up a pay schedule that’s consistent. If you plan on buying property in the next few years, I’d recommend taking this a step further and paying your accountant to run payroll for you and cut you an actual check — this demonstrates that you’re stable and it will be much easier to get a loan.

My general rule when it comes to business and investing in your work is to never fork over more than you’re comfortable with. There’s nothing more stressful than getting yourself in a bind — it kills the creative flow instantly!

4. I’m graduating in June, and I don’t know if I should focus just on web design/development, or take some time to explore graphic design as a whole first. —Carrie

In the beginning, I’d keep an open mind because it will allow you to have more opportunities. Even if you take a job at a firm advertised as one thing, your skills and drive could easily transform it into something else. Once you have some experience under your belt and have decided what you love (and what you hate!), then it’s time to specialize.

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part 2

5. What do you think about mailing lists for blogs that don’t sell classes or products? Are they better than social media to engage your readers? —Emma

My take is that mailing lists need to serve some sort of purpose and not just rehash your blog content. Mailing lists are fantastic if they have a focus — for instance, we have one for Blogcademy that shares upcoming dates, product launches and discounts. A good rule of thumb is to set up a mailing list long before you even need to potentially use it — there’s no harm in collecting email addresses so when you’re eventually ready, you already have an established audience ready to go.

6. How many pairs of shoes do you own? —Steff

The short answer: too many.

The longer answer: enough to fill a dedicated shoe closet. I worked in shoe stores for five years while I was in college and that time gave me a whole new appreciation for unique, quality footwear. I view each pair as a wearable piece of art!

7. You have been blogging since before blogging was even well known. Did blogging or the content you wrote about ever interfere with jobs you held? Have you ever been in a position where you felt like you had to edit yourself because of employment? — Scarlett Ballantyne

Having a blog back in 2001 was a double-edged sword and I definitely felt like I was living a double life. I worked some really mainstream jobs where people definitely wouldn’t have understood my creative expression (if you can call it that!) and I never wanted my blogging to interfere with my professional life. Because of that, I kept it under wraps.

This worked for the first few years but then, people started discovering who I was. I had one particular interview in 2009 at an ad agency where they asked me point blank if blogging would interfere with my job. My response was quick: “I’ve been blogging since 2001 and I’ve never had a problem — I get up at 6 am, push my new post live and then come to work.” I didn’t get hired.

Three years later, I had an interview at the same exact place and the owner hired me on the spot, partially based on the work he’d seen on my blog. Times have definitely changed! These days, blogs are amazing calling cards and can open a lot of doors — if you’re open to being who you are and sharing I strongly believe the good far outweighs the bad.

8. What blogs do you follow? —Kristen Ellis Williams

I follow around 100 blogs in Feedly but the ones that immediately come to mind are Breanna Rose, Cocorrina, Sea Of Shoes, Gala Darling, Door Sixteen, And Kathleen, the greenroom section of Rock n Roll Bride (full of great business advice!) and Garance Doré.

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part 2

9. As an owner of creative businesses, how much of the non-creative work (management, accounts, operations, client servicing, etc.) do you handle yourself and how much do you delegate to others? How do you manage your personal bandwidth so that you can maximize the time you have to do the creative bit? —Sankhalina Nath

In the beginning, as a small business owner, chances are that you have to do everything yourself. I’m now at the point where I’ve been handing off more and more tasks. In the past year, I’ve handed off bookkeeping, errand running and web development. I basically gave up everything I’m not great at to focus on what I still love the most: the creative exploration and design.

My advice would be to do everything yourself at least once so you truly understand how your business runs before asking someone else to do it — that way, you’ll be more compassionate when something goes wrong!

10. If you could jump back in time to when you were just starting out as a freelancer (but knowing what you know now), what would you do differently to get started and established? —Sarah

I’d make sure I had clear processes in place. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing and I wasn’t good about setting expectations. There’s nothing worse than over promising and under delivering! When I started Branch, the first thing I did was put together a media kit laying out our packages and processes. Thee next thing I did was design a series of informational sheets that explains each step of our process in great detail.

Think of your business from your client’s perspective — this is probably their first time working with a creative like you and you can’t expect them to know everything. Keeping them in the know will make your life a whole lot easier!

Thanks for your awesome questions! This has been a fun little experiment — let’s do it again soon!


Photos: Chellise Michael Photography.

The Week In Pictures: 2.20.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Greetings and salutations! A casual “hello” gets old so why not step it up?!

How was your week? Mine was full of the usual juxtaposition of working hard and playing hard: lunches with old friends were balanced out with leaving the office at midnight. Scheming around the Doug Fir fire pit was balanced out with a lot of of client emails and contracts. It was full but good. The crowning moment, though? Grabbing Britney Spears tickets with Kat for our upcoming five day trip to Vegas. Can’t wait!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

In November, when I moved out of the spare room of my house and into an office space, I was left with a barren, unused room. Now that my creative spot is sorted, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my “hangout room” and will be sharing the outcome with you soon.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Over the weekend, I discovered the ultimate plant mecca: The Portland Nursery. It’s got a whole corner dedicated to succulents and cacti and my brother and I went completely overboard, wheeling out a cactus nearly as tall as me. It was so heavy it took 3 people to lift it into our car! Haha.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

I’m so proud of my friend Ty. We’ve known each other for years and he’s always been the nicest, most genuine guy — I adore him. This month, he lived out a dream and launched his own line of shoes, Intentionally Blank. I’m pretty picky about quality (5 years of working in shoe stores will do that to you) and these Freemans are legit.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

The secret to getting ahead is getting started. This is part of a project Branch recently finished for Luke Copping and you know any project with Luke has major style.

2015_nubbytwiglet_weekinpictures_feb20_4

I may have took a million cactus photos at The Portland Nursery. What can I say? It’s a photogenic place!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

It’s going to be another late night at the office so I’m signing off. Have an amazing weekend! Sending lots of love your way.

Link Love: 2.19.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love: Hedy Lamarr

• If you have a ton of digital photos, here are 5 tips to archive them.

• To produce your absolute best work, you need to take care of yourself.

• Wowza! High fashion maven Kate Lanphear is now the editor-in-chief of Maxim!

• Entrepreneurs, tax season is creeping up! If you’re not sure where to start with the process, this article can help.

• Who said it? Kanye…or your creative director? Haha!

• Learn how to disagree without being a jerk!

• My friend Joey is going strong on year two of taking a photo of one new person every single day and I love looking through the portraits, virtually meeting strangers from all walks of life.

• Take a tour of the deserted mansions of an American heiress. Such a fascinating story!

• My friend Sian just launched a line of beautiful prints. Check em’ out!

• If I ever have a set of Legos again in my lifetime, these gold-plated ones will do.


Image: Hedy Lamarr in Ziegfeld Girl.

Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part #1

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part #1

First of all, thanks for all of your interesting, insightful questions! I picked 10 at random and will be answering another 10 next week. If you’d like to ask a question, you still have time — feel free to add your own to the mix!

Here we go….

1. How do I find my personal style when I don’t know what I want it to look like? —Konstantia

The truth is, nobody really knows what their style is when they are starting out. It’s one of those things that we all struggle with because it’s a process of self-discovery that can’t always be unlocked easily. The trick to finding it is to set aside time to work on creative projects every single day. After awhile, you’ll be able to look back at your body of work and spot a clear stylistic evolution. We all have signature visual cues in our work whether we realize it or not, it just takes time and commitment for it to emerge.

2. How do you know when it is time to move on from a good job that has zero chance of advancement in the design field? —Nikki

This really depends on what you want out of your career. Some people thrive when they have a sense of comfort and balance at a stable job. I found that having extreme stability and a good paycheck left me feeling bored and unfulfilled. I wanted adventure infused in my career and the only way to find that was to throw caution to the wind and start my own design studio. If you’re feeling unsettled in your “safe zone” and have a cushion of expenses saved up, you have absolutely nothing to lose. I moved around a lot and not every job I landed in worked out — but I can honestly say that each one taught me something valuable that I was then able to take with me. If you stay too long, you run the risk of getting stuck and letting fear of change take hold.

3. How can you get better at “designing” without a proper education? —Asuka

There are so many great avenues these days — Skillshare is my top pick, along with Creative Live. If you’re focused on the technical side of things and want to learn the ins and outs of a program, Lynda is the perfect place to start.

If you’re looking for a more serious path of being full-time designer down the road, I’d still recommend immersing yourself in a college program. The live critiques, connections and project deadlines all prep you for the real world. I used to be one of those people who thought I could be completely self-taught and then one day, a designer sat me down and told me, “To break the rules, you have to know them first.” I hated that advice at the time but he was right. Soon after, I enrolled in a two year program at a community college and it was the best time and money I’ve ever spent. If you’re into self-study but find yourself still yearning for more, don’t be afraid to make a bigger commitment.

4. How do you know how much time to pour into promoting your business (like blogging) vs. doing the work? —Emma

There is no right answer here but it comes down to setting a schedule that you feel good about, even if it’s posting new content once a week. The point is to be consistent. When you’re running a business, self-promotion is important but it’s easy to put off since it’s not a paid job. I’ve always thought about self promotion this way: I can spend my time networking and creating work with a with a handful of people locally or I can pour my time into sharing my work with the entire world and have a much larger, more diverse audience. You have to be willing to carve out the time because no one is going to do it for you.

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part #1

5. How long did it take to define a niche? Should you take on as many clients at first and go from there? —Michelle

Oh…about 8 years. Seriously! When you’re starting out, chances are that you have to take on whatever paid work is thrown your way and defining a niche is the least of your worries. I literally did everything imaginable including campaigns for the NBA and NFL. While none of this work (along with 100 or so other jobs) is visible in my portfolio, it helped me earn a living as a designer in those very early days. Each job I did built a connection that helped me land more work. Over time, I was able to improve my skills, speed up my output, significantly raise my rates and cut out all the work that wasn’t a good fit. These days, I’m careful about the projects I take on and in turn, the work that I do share has allowed me to attract the right types of clients. This very defined focus has only been possible in the last year.

6. Have you partnered with Kat from Rock ‘n Roll Bride for her new magazine? The layout looks a lot like the one you created for the previous issues, however I cannot see your name in the credits. —Marie

First off, I love Kat — she was one of my first-ever clients, long before we ever went into business together at The Blogcademy! Branch designed the first three issues of her self-published magazine but when she hit the big-time and got a magazine distribution deal, we sold the rights to her publishing company. Creatives, this is a good lesson in business: if you do a job for a client that’s independent and just starting out but the outcome eventually turns into a much bigger opportunity, make sure that you negotiate for your fair share. Seeing the design we created take on a whole new life has been pretty amazing.

7. With all the perfect, polished pictures you post, do you ever worry about appearing disingenuous? —Rayna

Not at all. Every single photo you see in my Week In Pictures posts was personally styled and taken by me. The same goes for about 95% of my blog content. If I had a few more lifetimes in front of me, I’d probably be a prop or wardrobe stylist — I love the art of transformation and creating visual arrangements. How very Virgo!

During the week, most of my time is spent working with clients at Branch so sharing still lifes and personal moments is a creative outlet that I hold onto very tightly. Everything you see on my blog and Instagram is real life: I have a very bold, graphic decor style, run three businesses, travel a lot, have an awesome husband, a very eccentric puppy and a crazy pet squirrel. My life naturally has a lot of photo ops!

When it comes to content, I tend to focus on sharing moments that I find inspiring and beautiful in hopes that it inspires people to explore and seek the same in their own lives.

Nubby Twiglet | Ask Me Anything Q&A: Part #1

8. How do you manage your blog + agency when you are away on long trips? —Steff

I wish there was a wizard behind the curtain making everything run like clockwork but the truth is much less glamorous. Any time I have a trip coming up, I put in 12 to 14 hour days the week before to work ahead on client projects, pre-schedule blog posts and hopefully buy myself some time to enjoy where I’m going. What you tend to not see on the blog or Instagram is that on the “fun days” of exploring a city and doing photo shoots, I was probably up by 6 am answering emails and sending off client work. The one secret weapon I do have on my team is my mom. She puts out any client fires and sends me tidy lists of emails that came in overnight. Thank god for moms!

9. If I want to change my specialty in design, is it okay if my portfolio consists of only personal projects until I can bring in clients? —Jessica

The general rule is that you should only show the work that you want more of but it’s tricky just showing self-initiated work for a few reasons:

1. Clients want to know that you have experience with other projects similar to theirs.

2. A portfolio of paid work shows that you’re established and reliable.

3. The more quality client work you can show, the more you can charge because you’re regarded as an expert.

The easiest way around this conundrum is to offer up your services to a few clients who fit your new direction, even if you’re charging less than your usual rate or throwing a few freebies into the mix to round out a project in your portfolio.

10. How do you manage to have so much balance in your work/life balance? You always appear to make loads of time for stuff outside work yet you manage to do SO much work! How do you do it?! —Karen

In reality, there is pretty much no work / life balance in my world but I’m okay with that. My personal motto is “work hard and play hard” and I pretty much live by it at all times. Juggling is mandatory when you have a life that’s packed with a lot of things you love.

My one general rule is that family comes first and that opens the door to a lot of fun (like two weekends ago when I took my 85 year old grandma to a drag queen brunch). If my grandparents call me, I’ll drop everything to meet them, even if that means that I have to go back to the office and work until midnight afterwards. If my dad invites me out for drinks, chances are that I’m pushing through as much work as possible the three days prior so I can leave a few hours early on Friday. It’s all about compromise.

Thanks again for your questions — tune in next week for part two!


Photos: Shell De Mar, Paris.

Branded #3: Malvi Marshmallows

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Up until a few days ago, I’d always assumed that all marshmallows were basically the same: white, fluffy and sugary. And, it makes sense — marshmallows are a cheap commodity at grocery stores and a “nice to have” when the mood to decorate your hot chocolate strikes or a summer night of camping calls for s’mores. But beyond that, they’re pretty basic and overlooked.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Well my friends, I was wrong about all marshmallows being created equal. Malvi has changed the game for good. A few days ago, a very thoughtful sponsor sent a box of these sweet treats to my doorstep as a Valentine’s Day surprise and lord almighty, these babies pack a flavorful punch.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Raspberry Hibiscus, Red Velvet, Spiked Espresso and Vanilla Salted Caramel are all up for grabs. I think these little packs would make such great client gifts and goodie bag treats at a party.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

The branding is spot-on as well. It has a hand-done feel but the black and white color scheme keeps the overall look from venturing into total kitsch territory. The spare, simple packaging gives it a sense of confidence — there’s no need to shout from the mountaintops that these pieces of pillowy goodness are the shiznit…because one bite is all it takes to seal the deal.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Oh, in case you’re wondering about the name, Malvi is short for malvavisco which is the Spanish word for marshmallow. Pretty great, right?

Less Made totally nailed the branding and website. I love discovering these great independent brands and the talented designers who make them happen. Now, I just need to throw a party so I have an excuse to order a boatload more of the vanilla salted caramel marshmallow sandwiches. Because, as you probably guessed….they disappeared quite fast as soon as the last photo was taken.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows


Images: Shauna Haider and Malvi.
View more Branded posts here.