Monthly Archives: September 2013

Announcing: Branch, A Boutique Design Studio!

We Are Branch

Today I have a big announcement to make about a personal project that I’ve put a lot of time and energy into: I’m officially launching a full-service design studio, Branch!

This shift in my career has come along partially out of a personal evolution and partially out of the fact that I had to admit to myself that my design business was bigger than myself. From the outside, it might seem like designers dedicate most of their days to doing design. But as time goes on, project management, research, keeping up with emails, blogging and social media takes up more of our daily existence. I know that a lot of other small business owners feel this creep as well. Pretty soon, you have to stop and ask yourself where all the time to create has gone. I did. Finally, I had to stop what wasn’t working and take what was to the next level.

In The Beginning

As you probably know by now, I started my blog, Nubby Twiglet in 2001. At that time, I was active on Live Journal and blogging quickly became the creative outlet I desperately needed while in school for business. Six years into blogging, thanks to a heart-to-heart with my friend Star who insisted I needed to move my blog over to the WordPress platform, I relaunched here, in August 2007, on my own domain.

By that point, I was in school full-time for graphic design. As I finished projects, I shared them with my readers. Before I knew it, I was getting freelance inquiries. The more work I shared, the more work rolled in. It was a natural progression. Even as I worked at design studios, I kept my blog very active and built up my portfolio, spending nights and weekends wrapping up client projects. Nubby Twiglet had quite accidentally transformed from a lifestyle blog to a design studio as well. The thing is, that “design studio” was just me. This worked out wonderfully for the first few years — I was able to keep everything running smoothly and build my clientele without all the headaches that come along with managing other people.

Then, as the scope of projects grew and more inquiries than I could handle started flooding in, I felt a shift. And when I gave it some serious thought, that shift I was feeling was completely normal: it was part of my evolution as a designer.

I’d spent six years at design studios and ad agencies collaborating as part of larger teams and that was actually how I was most comfortable working. I liked bouncing ideas off of other people and I also liked being challenged design-wise by co-workers who were much better than I was. It forced me to grow and constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone. But with my freelance clients, which I worked with through Nubby Twiglet, I had to adjust back to managing everything myself.

We Are Branch

My methods and work kept growing and then I saw the writing on the wall. That shift I’d been feeling but couldn’t quite articulate became more apparent after launching The Blogcademy last August and working as a team, even though it was virtual. Once Kat, Gala and I had decided to partner up for our new venture, we got so much done in incredibly short periods of time. Having assigned tasks for each of the three of us upped the productivity dramatically and I saw the benefit once again of working as a team. I wanted that for myself but it didn’t feel within reach at the time.

I loved design but seemed to spend most of my time answering emails and putting together proposals. I didn’t want to live my life filling up my free time with administrative tasks. I had another heart to heart talk with Star, this time late one night in our shared hotel room during Designer VACA, trying to sort out my feelings about my business. I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with Nubby Twiglet, as I had for the past six years. But when we dug deeper, we were able to pinpoint my uneasiness: the twig had grown into a branch. To take things to the next level, I needed “branches” to get everything done. The business was bigger than I was. To move forward from there, I needed to admit that I couldn’t do it all myself and be okay with that. It sounds easy enough, but when you’re an overly organized control freak Virgo like I am, making that admission and letting go is incredibly difficult.

We Are Branch

What I’ve since realized is that being brave enough to let go can lead to amazing things. That initial upheaval that comes with realizations about our businesses, relationships and ourselves has the potential to bring forth some of the best things into our lives. Now, everything feels right. My blog, Nubby Twiglet will keep on going as it always has. I’ve loved it since 2001 and I’m still excited to wake up every morning and publish new articles to share with all of you. The Blogcademy fulfilled my dreams of traveling and teaching. And now, Branch is the place where I’ll have the opportunity to collaborate on design projects with my favorite people.


Today is launch day and as a full-service creative studio, I’m ecstatic to have a business that’s finally bigger than myself. As a freelancer, I felt like it was my duty to answer every single email, fill out every single contract and manage all of the creative on my own. At Branch, I have the opportunity to design a whole lot more. And that is what I feel best doing. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far for help to manage the day-to-day administrative tasks. My mom, Cathy will now step in as a project manager and with over 30 years of management experience, she’s a whole lot better at tackling spreadsheets, forms, receipts and emails than I am. Star, who coded my first ever blog back in the day and helped me make the idea of running a studio bigger than myself a reality, is joining me for web design duties. She also deserves some serious applause for pulling a week of nearly all-nighters to bring the site to life. Joey, my brother Carey and even Rocky will be involved (because every company needs a mascot). Needless to say, I love my branches.

If you have a project that you feel would be a good fit for us, we’d love to hear from you! Thanks for all your continued support. I am beyond excited for this new era of design, business and blogging.

The Week In Pictures: 9.20.13

The Week In Pictures

The Week In Pictures

The Week In Pictures

The Week In Pictures

It’s been one of those weeks — you know, the ones where you barely leave the house?! Even as recently as a year ago, I used to completely dread weeks like this but after doing so much traveling (Austin, Cannon Beach, Santorini, Mykonos, London and New York in the last month and a half alone), I actually look forward to waking up and having to be absolutely nowhere.

While I’ve been home, there hasn’t actually been any downtime though. I spent the week revamping my digital portfolio and clocking in at close to 25 projects, there was a lot to get through. Though I’ve shared a majority of the projects before and it all worked perfectly fine, I’ve always felt that “good enough just isn’t good enough.” I wanted everything to be larger in scale, to show more uses and to have a more consistent, polished feel. And, though it took 4 straight 12 hour days to get through, it feels so good to be done! I’ll share the results next week. :)

The Week In Pictures

September is a good month around here — my birthday was the 14th, Joey’s is the 24th and sandwiched in between was our anniversary on the 17th. We like to knock everything out at once! Of course, no anniversary is complete without a few silly photobooth rounds after a few celebratory drinks. Cheers to three years!

The Week In Pictures

On Monday, the travel starts up again. I head off to LA for some client meetings and in preparation, I’ve been digging through 10 years of magazine tears for an editorial project I’m going to be working on. I must have 500 pages saved in my flat files and having those physical references is so valuable. For as long as I live, I will continue investing in books and magazines!

The Week In Pictures

And with that, I’m signing off to conquer a big to-do list before my LA trip. Have an amazing weekend, everyone. I’ll be back next week to share the inside scoop of what I’ve been working on business-wise behind the scenes. xo

Funhouse Mirrors and Fine Dining: Sketch London

Sketch London

During my stay in London, the coolest restaurant I visited by far was Sketch. Over the decade it’s been in existence, Sketch has won dozens of awards and been written up in most major magazines. While the food and drinks are wonderful, part of its charm can be attributed to the over the top decor. Basically, if you’re a foodie obsessed with art, this is your mecca.

I’d built the Sketch experience up in my head after reading dozens of reviews and thankfully, it lived up to the hype. When we entered, we were greeted by a beautiful hostess with a shaved head and platform boots, draped in head-to-toe black. The lobby felt more like an entrance to a glamorous night club than a restaurant.

Sketch London

We were led to The Parlour, which was packed with Louis XV seating and featured an eccentric rainbow wall divider along with dessert cases. Everything was steeped in tradition, but with a modern, quirky twist.

Sketch London

As we were seated, I glanced down at one of the most chic menus I’d ever seen, printed on bubble gum pink stock. Based on the decor alone, I assumed that the prices would be outlandish. After all, when you’e seated in the equivalent of an otherworldly art gallery, it’s to be expected.

Surprisingly, everything from the desserts to main dishes were very average when it came to London pricing. And, delicious. Everyone at our table ordered something different — Kat had fries which I kid you not, tasted like a perfect batch of golden McDonald’s fries (though I haven’t had those in years!). I chose a baguette and fresh grilled veggies (simple but perfectly executed) and Gala had the afternoon tea, which I regretted not ordering after taking one bite of her scone with clotted cream. The bottom line is that the menu was so unique and varied in its offerings that you could easily dine there five days in a row and not get sick of it.

Sketch London

I hadn’t realized how many other separate themed rooms occupied Sketch — as I attempted to find my way to the bathroom, I passed The Glade, which Sketch accurately sums up as an “enchanted fairytale forest.” I can only imagine what a perfect setting it would be for afternoon tea.

Sketch London

And then, we made our way through The Gallery. With walls, floors and furniture covered in boldly hued patterns, it’s the most vibrant of all the restaurants and bars.

Sketch London

But still, the themed rooms kept going. Upstairs is home to The Lecture Room, an award winning fine dining restaurant.

Sketch London

By this point, I thought I’d seen it all, but there was one more surprise; the bathrooms themselves. As I made my way up a pristine white marble staircase, I was met with dozens of egg-shaped pods. Confused, I asked were the toilets were. Everyone laughed. “Inside the pods.” Completely self-contained and scented, using them was definitely an otherworldly experience. And the weird, funhouse-style mirror placed above the sinks was the perfect way to top it all off.

Sketch was a total trip but perhaps the best part of our experience was that the staff were incredibly charming — there was no stuffiness at all. A killer venue, mind-blowing art, incredible food and stylish yet down-to-earth staff all rolled into one place? Really, what more could you want?! If you’re in London, Sketch is a must-see.

Reviewed: Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, London.
Top photo, bathroom photo and menu scan by me. All other photos, courtesy of Sketch.

Link Love: 9.19.13

link love

Link Love

• When running your business, you’re bound to hit the occasional rough patch. But, don’t panic!

• So inspiring: 10 people who switched careers after 50 and thrived.

• 7 simple ways to attract more people to your blog.

• What does it mean to be popular when everything is popular? The NYT dives into the driving forces of pop culture.

• The newest version of Launched! is out, rounding up the best in blog designs.

• If you’re looking for some new healthy shake recipes, here’s 3 awesome ones to try out.

• Weird but true: people will pay big money for dollar bills with unique serial numbers.

• How to stop losing business.

• Here’s how to make vintage clothing work for you.

• What kind of advice could you possibly give someone who hates their amazing life?

• New Fall goods have just rolled out from Portland’s Schoolhouse Electric and Anna rounded up the best of the best. So much to love!

• Five beauty tips picked up backstage at Fashion Week.

• Here’s a roundup of great tips to kill off jet lag.

Photo: Dorian Leigh by Milton Greene.
View more Link Love columns here.

Put It In Writing: Commit Your Goals To Paper

Commit Your Goals To Paper

Two nights ago, I realized that I’d misplaced a password for an account and that it was tucked away in a notebook lurking in my flat files. As I started digging, I fell deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole — I had stacks of notebooks going back to 2002!

Most of the pages in these notebooks aren’t filled with sketches or design ideas; they’re pretty much dedicated to to-do lists and goals. It’s always funny to look back and re-read what you thought was important enough to write down at the time.

I used to be so good about writing down my goals. At the start of each new year, I would make a detailed list and tape it up next to my desk as a reminder of what I wanted to accomplish. Then, somewhere along the way, life took over and between design and blogging commitments, they fell by the wayside. I made excuses instead of taking 10 minutes to think about what I really wanted and commit it to paper.

I’d forgotten how powerful a simple list could be, though. During that search two nights ago, I came across one in particular, from about a year and a half ago. And when I read through it, I realized that I’d not only met every goal I’d written out back then but I’d bypassed a few by a long shot! The sad part is, I didn’t even know I’d reached my so-called goals until I found that list because I was too busy living my day-to-day existence, just trying to cross off as many things as possible on my to-do list. I wasn’t taking the time to step back and look at the big picture.

So, I’m challenging both you and myself to get back to basics. Pull out a piece of paper and a pen and write down your goals for the next year. I do keep digital lists but they just aren’t the same. Having that physical reminder to glance at on a daily basis is so important! Today, I’m writing out new goals to commit to and taping them up next to my desk.

Let’s see what happens…