Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Week In Pictures: 6.28.13 | Hello From New York!

the week in pictures

Spending a week in New York with two BFFs was just what the doctor ordered. Routines need to be broken every once in awhile and I’d been feeling really restless, caught up in a routine of all work and no play. Even though our main reason for being together was our workshop, Kat, Gala and I slipped plenty of fun into our packed schedules. These were a few of my favorite experiences during my time in New York…


FAVORITE OLD SCHOOL HAUNT: YAFFA

the week in pictures

Yaffa holds a special place in my heart. I stopped in on my first night in New York in 2001 and it’s been a favorite ever since. I love that it’s remained nearly unchanged since I first saw it twelve years ago. The walls are covered in multiple patterns of wallpaper and there are golden statues, gaudy art and animal prints everywhere. Very Liberace on acid.


FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP: NINTH STREET ESPRESSO

the week in pictures

The morning I flew into New York, it was crazy humid and didn’t let up for the whole time we were there. We just used it as an excuse to stop for lots of iced coffees. Ninth Street Espresso was right around the corner from our apartment and I loved the basic menu, black and white decor, tasty coffee and treats.


FAVORITE SETTING: PATINA

the week in pictures

Patina is a furniture rental business tucked away in Bushwick and there’s just no way to do it justice with a handful of photos. I walked in and was immediately floored — the massive space was full of intricate vignettes, painstakingly curated with the finest in couches, candy-colored typewriters, golden skulls, rotary phones and globes. I’ll share more of the interior soon.

the week in pictures

Back in October when we did our first New York workshop, Patina had contacted us a few days before, offering up seating and their beautiful venue. Sadly, we’d already lined everything up and had to pass. Lame! So when we launched this New York date, we knew we had to partner with them. We’re still gushing about how great they were to work with!


MOST INSPIRING: BLOGCADEMY NEW YORK

the week in pictures

New York was where we held our first ever workshop so to make our way back for a second time was really exciting since we’d made so many changes. Each group of women we meet is so different but one thing holds true: we leave feeling completely invigorated and inspired by their personal stories.

the week in pictures

With the crazy humidity and two whirlwind, action-packed days, we were slayed by the end. Haha.


FAVORITE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: BITE LIP LAB

the week in pictures

On Monday, I posted about my obsession with Bite. I’d first noticed the packaging at Sephora and soon after, found out that they had a pop-up shop in Manhattan. Well, the experience was everything I could have hoped for.

the week in pictures

I have a full post coming soon (we brought photographer June Cochran along to document the experience!) but here’s a little peek. I felt like I’d entered a mad scientist’s lab…dedicated to mixing perfect lipstick shades.


FAVORITE CLUB NIGHT: ON TOP AT LE BAIN

the week in pictures

Two years ago, my friend Bianca took me out to a club night I’ll never forget: as the elevator snaked up to the top floor of The Standard, I felt like I’d entered a time machine back to the 90s. New York’s finest club kids, swathed in face paint and platforms ruled the dance floor. As I made my way through the crowd, I noticed the jewel of the space: a hot tub with a disco ball spinning above it. At that moment, dancing to house music in a hot tub overlooking the city seemed perfectly normal.

the week in pictures


Photos by Bianca Alexis

This time was no different. Bianca, dressed in a white spandex catsuit, swung by and her friend Tash, reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty juxtaposed with Lady Gaga joined in on the fun. We made our way across the astroturf-covered rooftop to the crepe stand (alcohol and crepes, what a nice mix!) and took in the sights.

If you have a free Tuesday night and a glam costume you’ve been waiting to debut, make your way to On Top. You won’t regret it.


FAVORITE PLACE TO CHILL: WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK

the week in pictures

Every time I walk through Washington Square Park, I feel like I’ve been transported to a colonial setting in a storybook. It’s so beautiful this time of year.


MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE: OUR MEET-UP

the week in pictures

A highlight of our week was getting a group of the girls together from our original Blogcademy class for lunchtime and funtime at The Smith. It was awesome chatting with the grads and hearing how their blogs and lives have progressed since then. Love them so much!


FAVORITE PASTIME: WINDOW SHOPPING

the week in pictures

When I’m in New York, I never buy a whole lot but that doesn’t stop me from doing massive amounts of window shopping. This dress is still on my mind…


MOST FUN: PATINA PHOTO SHOOT

the week in pictures

The girls at Patina had an idea to do a full photo shoot while we were in town and with five unique sets and a crew of close to 10 people, they pulled out all the stops. Honestly, I was blown away with all the planning and coordination it took.

the week in pictures


It’s always hard to say goodbye to New York. We flew to Minneapolis yesterday afternoon and spent the night soaking up the sights on a friend’s pontoon as we floated across Lake Minnetonka. We can’t wait to explore more of the city today and teach over the weekend. Have a great one! xo

Link Love: 6.27.13

link love

link love


Circus and the City by Matthew Wittmann


• Zen Habits explains why it’s pointless to compare yourself and your life to others.

• I’m so impressed with the latest incarnation of Squarespace. Their templates are so beautiful.

• NYC Type documents interesting typography all over the city.

• Taking your vitamins might not be such a good idea after all.

• The newest edition of Launched is live, documenting the best in blog designs.

• When it comes to blogging, some of the best posts transpire when you go back to basics.

• Making your own almond milk isn’t so difficult after all!

• What are your ideal hours to get work done?

• Luminous Lint covers the history of color photography.

• I’m loving the redesigned Kinfolk site.

• The two most highlighted books of all-time are The Bible and Steve Jobs!

• In the late 1800s, Jacob Riis documented what it was like living in New York’s slums.

• Tyler Adam Smith is working on a project, 100 Books that SHOULD be Written and the outcomes are awesome.


Check out even more Link Love columns here.

Tools of the Trade #6: My Go-To Backup for WordPress

Tools of the Trade

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about the importance of backing up your WordPress site and that was in part because I wasn’t happy with any of the plugins I tried (and boy, did I try a lot). That all changed last month when I gave WordPress Backup to Dropbox a spin.

If you’re new to backing up your WordPress site, your image assets are only the half of it — the other, equally important half is your database. This contains all of your posts, comments and site customizations.

I found plenty of plugins that would back up my database but I wanted the peace of mind of having everything, including my image assets saved in one place and WordPress Backup to Dropbox does just that.

The plugin is free, the install is painless and best of all, it sends the backup straight to your Dropbox account. Every week, a complete copy of my site is automatically delivered to me — It doesn’t get easier than that!


Photo: Made U Look.
Check out more Tools of the Trade posts here.

Latest & Greatest #20: Bite Beauty

Latest & Greatest: Bite Beauty

Latest & Greatest: Bite Beauty

Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a lipstick just by its exterior. But, that’s just what I did when I stumbled upon the Bite Beauty display tucked inside Sephora. With its matte black tubes and subtle, tonal application of logos, the line immediately stood out in the sea of over-embellished displays and packaging that surrounded it.

Intrigued, I went home and did some research and was pleasantly surprised by what I learned: Launched in 2011, the Toronto-based line features food-grade ingredients and contains no petroleum byproducts or synthetic chemicals. Produced in small, handcrafted batches, Bite straddles the line between healthy and high performance with fantastic results.

I’ve been smitten since learning about the line, scouring Bite’s Pinterest for even more visuals and after falling down the rabbit hole, I found out about a brand new service offered at their pop-up lipstick lab in New York City. For $28.00, Bite’s lab techs will custom mix your perfect lip color! Needless to say, this is on my must-visit list while I’m in New York this week.

Latest & Greatest: Bite Beauty

Have you tried Bite products yet? What do you think?


All images: Bite Beauty’s Pinterest and Sephora.

The Week In Pictures: 6.21.13

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Finally, after a lot of anticipation over the last few weeks, I just landed in New York! I always take an overnight flight so I can wake up just as the sun rises and get on with my day. I’m rooming in the East Village with Kat for the week and it’s nice not waking up to 20 emails from her since she’s sitting across from me. 😉

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

I always start packing my suitcase a week in advance so I have time to jog my memory and make sure I’m not forgetting something super important. And over the years of too-full suitcases, Gala has taught me the art of rolling everything; it makes such a huge difference!

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

I’ve been on a big Joyce Lee kick. To me, her photos have a poppy, commercial feeling without being too perfect. My desktop is an image from her Vibrant Life series.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do but no matter what the occasion or locale is, it’s still really hard to say goodbye to Joey and Rocky. The boys finally learned how to do a video chat last time I was away so it’s gotten a little better but still…homesickness always starts setting in for me after a week apart.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

In those in-between moments, I’ve been trying to read more. Online, offline…just as much as possible. It’s so easy to make excuses so I’ve started stacking books and magazines on my desk as a reminder and not putting them back until they’re finished.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

You know those items, whether they’re for your house or wardrobe that you dream up and wish existed? I’d wanted something like this dress for years because I liked the exaggerated hips and multiple zippers on this jacket. Nasty Gal’s in-house collection came up with this design and it’s perfect. The cut, the color, the jumbo zippers…I can’t wait to wear it this week in New York.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll be spending mine teaching in Brooklyn and can’t wait to meet the new group of girls. Posting around these parts will be a little quieter but you can keep up with more on-the-go snippets on my Instagram. xo

Link Love: 6.20.13

link love

link love


William Eggleston


• Is social media encouraging us to act out online? The New York Times thinks so. “Our growing collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online, combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something you are doing or experiencing get near-immediate approval from your online peers, could be giving us more reason to act out online, for better or for worse.”

• I love this advice that covers how to have a fascinating conversation with anyone!

• 3 awesome summer art camps!

• The Everygirl offers up two strategies for managing stress.

• Classical statues dressed up as hipsters? Yes, really.

• Mike McDerment just released a free e-book that teaches you how to charge what you’re worth.

• 27 is a weird age. I remember it well!

• Are your blog posts falling short of greatness?

• Facebook is introducing hashtags. The downward spiral has begun!

• Did you know that some public service jobs in the U.S. have loan forgiveness that can wipe away college-related debt after 10 years in a field?

• Looking for some simply beautiful thank you cards? These new designs from Blow got my attention.

• Remember, we’re all just people.


Check out even more Link Love columns here.

How To Get More of the Work You Love

Tools of the Trade

One of the questions I get asked most often by fellow designers is how they can land more of the types of projects they actually enjoy doing. In my personal experience, the answer is pretty straightforward:

Showcase the work you want more of in the best possible light.
Lock up the work you don’t desire more of…and throw away the key!

While that might sound slightly dramatic, I’ve reviewed many portfolios where designers felt that they didn’t have enough solid projects and filled in the gaps with work they weren’t 100% satisfied with. I promise you, it’s always better to have less work in your book (that you’re totally over the moon about) than a whole lot of mediocre work that doesn’t represent where you see yourself going. In the world of portfolios, less is usually more.


My Personal Experience

Looking at my portfolio, I showcase mostly branding, web design and editorial-based projects — you probably wouldn’t guess that I’ve done campaigns for the NBA and NFL! While I was proud of the outcome of these other projects, since I don’t desire more sports-focused work, I never show them in my portfolio. I actually have a stockpile of 20 to 30 projects I’ve never publicly shown because for one reason or another, I don’t seek more of that particular style of work.

I know that in the beginning, it’s not easy to pick and choose who you want to work with. Your ideal projects might not come along very often or at all but don’t ever let that stop you! Dream up your own projects — there’s nothing wrong with including a self-initiated project or two as long as it’s credited as such. Sometimes you have to prove yourself first so that potential clients know that you have what it takes. And if those clients still don’t come knocking once you have work in your portfolio you think would appeal to them, don’t be afraid to contact them and introduce yourself.

In my career, I’ve always dreamed of doing more editorial design work. Yet because my portfolio was full of branding and web projects, not a whole lot of those opportunities came along. So I started out small to test the waters. First, I started offering media kit services. Media kits are traditionally what print magazines have sent out to potential advertisers — they feature rates, readership stats and an overall feel for the publication. Media kits tend to be 8 to 16 pages in length and are like a mini magazine in themselves.

I figured that if print magazines had media kits, maybe blogs could, also. In 2009, I started by producing my own for my blog first and shared it in a post — almost immediately, clients started hiring me for that service. It was ideal because a lot of smaller businesses just don’t have large print budgets but they could afford my design services for a digital media kit and I used these opportunities to build up my editorial design skills. Some examples are here, here and here.


Leverage your projects for new opportunities

Once you have a few projects in your portfolio that you feel are in line with your dream customers, the goal is to turn that work into new opportunities. Kat of Rock n Roll Bride was an early media kit client and loved the outcome so much that she came back within a year to produce a promotional brochure, showcasing her ‘best of the blog.’ She was attending a wedding fair and wanted a print piece she could hand out to her target audience but I saw one glaring issue — when it comes to print and weddings, I automatically think of magazines and invitation suites, not brochures.

I took it upon myself to transform the concept of her 14 page brochure into a 40 page magazine. Yes, it took a lot more time but I saw a gap in my portfolio and an opportunity to turn paid client work into something even better. It was a win-win outcome: I got an editorial design piece in print and a much needed project for my portfolio. In turn, Kat got a great deal on a project that turned into a much bigger scope (since she hadn’t actually requested the extra work, I kept the quote the same).

And, all that extra work paid off: when those thousand copies flew out the door, Kat came back with a bigger budget and a much bigger project: an 80 page magazine. Finally, I had the opportunity to design a magazine, cover to cover. Once that had wrapped, another client, Luke Copping hired me to do a magazine as a promo piece for his photography business. It’s a domino effect: you do a good job on one project, another client likes what they see and hire you, and so on.


Prune Your Portfolio

I now have a few more editorial-based projects in my portfolio to share and each time I finish something new, I try to edit down the work I’m sharing and remove a few things that aren’t as strong. As a designer, remember that your portfolio is part of your brand audit. Is it telling the story you want it to?

When potential clients come across your work, they might not know anything about you and it’s up to you to curate what you are seeking more of. If they can only see things you absolutely love, they will probably only hire you for those things. In a nutshell, that’s how you get the ball rolling. Put more of the work you love out into the world and you’ll get more of it in return. Share wisely and before you know it, the clientele and projects you’ve been dreaming about will find you.


* Image: Modified from Luke Copping’s print portfolio.