Category Archives: Personal

Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

This week, as I wrapped up two sets of taxes, interviewed a potential intern and made my way through emails that seemed to reappear faster than I could respond and file them away, blogging felt very far away. These weeks happen where little things pile up in quick succession and it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are — carving out the free time to blog becomes nonexistent.

And while I’ve been purposely blogging less this year to focus more time towards new business ventures and client projects, as the days slipped by, it still felt weird to be parked in front of my computer but unable to post fresh content.

This unplanned break turned into a blessing in disguise; it was the perfect opportunity to think about what blogging means to me and why I do it. Just yesterday, I found myself idly staring out my office window and in a flash, I had a moment of clarity:

Blogging is important to me because it literally changed my life. And perhaps blogging has changed yours, too.

Here’s the backstory….

In 2001, I was 20 years old and living at my dad’s house in the suburbs outside of Portland. I didn’t have the money for the art school I wanted to attend so I went to a community college down the street. I hadn’t done much traveling so my social circle carried over from high school. Oh, and I had a lot of free time on my hands because I only worked during my summer breaks (damn, those were the days). When one of my friends told me about a free blogging platform called Live Journal, I figured why not?

Within the first year of blogging, I had a whole new social circle. I met people on the other side of the world — which at that time, felt very new and exciting when compared with my boring suburban existence. In quick succession, I met Star, Anna, Gala, Laurel, Bianca, Amy (and so many others who no longer have sites). Thanks to blogging, when I traveled to a new city, I already had a built-in network of friends. To this day, when I’m in New York, I sleep on Bianca’s couch. Star now develops websites for Branch. And Gala? We run a business together with our fellow blogging obsessed friend, Kat.

Besides friends, blogging opened doors to job opportunities I’d only dreamed about. During my interview for a design internship at Nemo, I told them about my blog. It just happened that Dave Allen (formerly of Gang Of Four) worked there and was just as obsessed with blogging as I was. Looking back, my design work was just okay but my blog is what helped seal the deal.

After switching from Live Journal to WordPress in 2007, I got even more consistent with sharing which included posting every good, bad and ugly design project. Within a year, companies like Forever 21 and Virgin Records were contacting me. For a 26 year old just breaking into the industry, this was completely life changing. It became immediately apparent that these huge companies only knew who I was because I blogged. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this free marketing opportunity with a low barrier of entry was landing me freelance jobs at a few thousand dollars a piece while I was still in community college (design students, get thee a blog and online portfolio ASAP!)

In 2012, my dream job became a reality when I got hired on the spot to join the Cinco Design brand team. The calling card that got me an offer? My blog.

A little over a decade into blogging, I began to feel the itch — there had to be something more. I wasn’t ready to give it up but I WAS read for an evolution. And then, it fell into my lap during a Vegas vacation (because naturally, all the best things happen in Vegas). Five days in the desert turned my blogging for fun into a business opportunity. That August, The Blogcademy launched and by October, we were teaching a sold-out class in New York City. This strategy-based blogging course soon allowed me to quit outside work, travel the world and later, release an online version.

With a crazy travel schedule that made my former life at agencies impossible, I needed to carve out a way to produce design that fit in with this new normal. Branch was born. A day after our website launched, three clients had booked in. And, you guessed it! They found us through this blog.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Okay, this post is getting long and the point isn’t to just share my personal blogging anecdotes (though I could easily talk about blogging all damn day). My goal is to demonstrate that while blogging isn’t a one-size-fits-all, linear path, if you stick with it, great things can happen.

These days, too many people look at blogging as a way to gain quick fame and fortune and it’s warped because when they don’t get what they want in fast succession, they give up. If this is the only reason you’re starting a blog, walk away now. You have to feel truly passionate about what you’re posting…and if you don’t, there are at least 35 other things you can do instead.

I know what you’re still thinking so I’ll just say it now. Yes, there are a million other things you can now do with your time online. So, why blog? My quickie response:

Blogging forges meaningful connections, builds career opportunities and gives you a place to go as deep as you’d like, whether you’re sharing new artwork or the gut-wrenching story of how you hit rock bottom. It’s all fair game.

So, what about you? Have you blogged in the past? Do you currently have one? How has it impacted you? If you have a blog, please leave a link in the comments so we can check it out!


Photos: Made U Look Photography.

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.

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.

Oh, The Embarrassment: A Little Reminder That We All Have To Start Somewhere

Nubby Twiglet | Oh, The Embarrassment: A Little Reminder That We All Have To Start Somewhere

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever I look back at my early design projects, I see promise…but for the most part, I feel embarrassed. Do you feel that way about your past work, too?

I actually think that a touch of embarrassment is a healthy reaction because it means that you’ve grown as a creative. Over time, your taste has evolved, your skills have improved and your sense of style has matured. You know that you’re capable of even better results.

Sometimes when I feel that embarrassment creeping up, I have to step back and remind myself that without posting those early design projects online, nobody would have known about my work. Even if I didn’t see the promise at the time, some people who came across those projects did. The people who saw enough promise hired me. When they hired me, it gave me the opportunity to build out my portfolio. With a growing portfolio, I was able to get my first agency jobs. Those jobs gave me the steady footing to take on bigger outside projects I loved which in turn built my portfolio even further. And eventually, all that work allowed me to launch my own boutique design studio. I now realize that it was a very slow domino effect over the course of seven years — each project I shared, no matter how embarrassing now, led to even more opportunities.

If you’re feeling uneasy about your work, always remember that it’s secretly the push you need to get over the next hurdle. If you’re always satisfied, there’s no reason to improve. You’ll settle for exactly where you are now because the urge to try new things that scare you isn’t there. Use that discomfort as motivation.

I still feel that discomfort all too often. I see portfolios of work that are much better than mine. I read blog posts that are brilliantly composed. I see photos every day that make mine look amateurish. And all of this leaves me wanting to improve.

We all have to start somewhere, even if that somewhere feels like a black hole some days. The only way to get out of that black hole is to practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect…but it will make you better. So the next time you feel that embarrassment creeping up, transform it into a positive outcome.


Photo: Made U Look.

Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

Nubby Twiglet | Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

Today is National Squirrel Appreciation Day. Really.

Naturally, it’s time to honor Chubs, the squirrel who lives with me. Since he moved in over the Summer (more accurately: fell down my chimney), you’ve had many questions about what it’s like caring for him. I’ve picked the top five and answered them below — and if you have any others, please feel free to ask in the comments!

Nubby Twiglet | Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

1. What does he eat?

Since Chubs lives inside, he has a slightly different diet than wild squirrels because he doesn’t need to pack on as much weight for the Winter. He loves veggies and fruits and every morning, Joey chops up an organic mix. Some of his favorites are carrots, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, celery and apples. Recently, he’s been enjoying avocado, too.

Of course, he loves nuts. He gravitates towards almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

That said, everyone has a guilty pleasure. When Chubs has been a good boy, there’s nothing he enjoys more as a special treat than a big, crusty piece of bread.

2. Where does he live?

For the first few months of his life, he had a wood framed cage with chicken wire that Joey built but he quickly outgrew it. We could tell that he was getting restless from a lack of space to run around in and I had two massive IKEA wardrobes so we cleared one out, added mesh to the doors and built him a full-on jungle gym inside. He has mounted balconies made from old shelves, branches, a “nest” to burrow into for naps, a rope bridge and a water bottle. It’s the equivalent of a squirrel palace.

When we’re home, we let him roam in designated spaces. He loves to play with Rocky and even rolls over like a dog to have his belly scratched!

3. Is he potty trained?

Oddly enough, yes. It’s similar to having a cat. We have litter in the bottom of his cage and though he had a few accidents when he was a baby, he has been great over the last few months. When people ask how it’s possible, all I know is that he’s really smart…and he just knows.

Nubby Twiglet | Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

4. Does he still do squirrel type things like burying nuts?

Constantly! Some behaviors are instinctual and even though he’s never lived in the wild, he still has all the typical squirrel mannerisms. We are constantly finding nuts and crackers hidden under our rugs and pillows.

When he’s not burying nuts…..he’s stealing my lipstick. I’ve dubbed him the Lipstick Bandit because recently, quite a few of my MAC shades have gone missing.

Nubby Twiglet | Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

5. Don’t squirrels have sharp claws?

Yep. They’re like tiny needles! It was easy to play with him when he was a newborn but once his claws grew in, we ended up with a lot of scratches. These days, I always throw on a sweater before I let him out of his cage.

Nubby Twiglet | Squirrel Life: Your Pressing Questions Answered!

So, there you go. Your pressing squirrel questions have been answered! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to party with Chubs and celebrate his special day.

2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

Nubby Twiglet | 2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

This year is about setting intentions…and actually following through with them.

At the end of 2014, I set a simple yet power-packed intention for the new year: to create more. During 2014, I’d felt myself fall into the trap of spending too much time sitting on other blogs and social media and getting caught up in busy work that often filled my days in ways that I didn’t really want to be spending it. Life is too short.

Then, January 1st came. The universe must have heard my intention loud and clear because I haven’t stopped since. Well, I did take a break earlier in the week to make a trip to IKEA — and while killing time with my aunt in a returns line that didn’t seem to budge, we started talking about 9 Star Ki. “This is your year to make things happen,” she said. You’ve been building up to it…it’s going to be a full one.”

I may have said, “I know.” Or at least, that’s what I was thinking.

I spent last year sitting next to a handwritten list of products I wanted to make…and not a single one happened. I collected folders of inspiration and made outlines but actually getting the hard work done? Not even close.

It was my own fault — I didn’t make the time or set priorities. Instead, I jumped from one new client project to the next and traveled the world — both are amazing but I didn’t stop long enough to have this conversation with myself:

“What do you want to do?
Everything on that list.
Okay, then go do it.”

Simple, right?

Nubby Twiglet | 2015: The Year Of Taking Accountability and Focusing On Quality Over Quantity

In the first year of launching a new business, it often comes down to putting all of your time and effort into other people’s brands and that in turn builds your own through word of mouth, exposure and notoriety. It was a good year. But, that list of projects I want to launch is still taped to my wall.

This year, in an effort to create more, I’m going to be blogging here a little less. My focus has always been quality over quantity so I want to do fewer, but higher quality posts that give you more value.

Much of the content here will be the same. Link Love will still be every Thursday. Fridays will still be The Week in Pictures but I want to focus on sharing just 3 to 4 really great shots (quality over quantity once again) and then include a personal story at the end with insight into what goes on over here day-to-day. The real stuff. And then, the most exciting addition is a new column I’ve been planning for the last month — Branded will feature the photos and details of brands I love. I shot photos of many products and shops during my time in Australia and New Zealand that I can’t wait to start sharing with you next week.

I’m still settling into the post-holiday break and trying to find my blogging and work groove….but I’ve been glancing over my shoulder at that list. And by the end of this year, I hope to have a whole bunch of offerings that will make your creative / small business existence a whole lot easier. Good, useful stuff.

Now, it’s time to dig in and create.

My challenge for you is to simply ask yourself what you really want to do with your time. And then, go do it.


Photos: Urban Safari.

Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

Before you can move forward, it’s healthy to take a look back.

At the end of every year, I love spending a day taking in everything that happened and deciding what I want more of, what I want less of and what I want to change. Days fly by and it can be hard to remember what even happened in the course of a year.

My 2014 had 10 standout themes / moments:

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

1. Traveling. A lot of it.

All those times I sat at various desks thankful I had a job but secretly wishing I could get out of the damn office and explore the world exploded into a blur of planes, trains, trams and rental cars this year. It went something like this:

Los Angeles. Palm Springs. San Francisco. Chicago. Los Angeles again. Palm Springs again. Vancouver. Calgary. London. Berlin. Amsterdam. New York. Los Angeles again. Palm Springs again (are you sensing a trend here? Haha.) Washington, D.C. New York yet again. Los Angeles again. Palm Springs again (What can I say? I’m a creature of habit!) Sydney. Melbourne. Auckland.

Oh man, was it fun. And stressful. And amazing. I most definitely:

• Missed flights.
• Hung out in a basement speakeasy on Wall Street until the wee hours before catching a flight to LA.
• Got busted in Vancouver alongside Gala and Kat….for leaving approximately five glitter stars in our apartment.
• Took my first train ride up the east coast to Penn Station.
• Had a very bad Air bnb experience in Melbourne involving a black leather bed and no wifi.
• Lost my luggage on the way home from Canada.
• Visited the rental car place in LA so many times that they started recognizing me.
• Waited at the wrong baggage carousel with Kat and Gala in New Zealand for close to an hour (LOL).
• Took my first ever flight on Emirates and all I have to say is….walnut toilet seats.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

2. Moving out of my comfort zone (literally).

While I loved the safe cocoon of my home office, I started to feel like the daily Dr. Phil sessions and absolutely no separation from work and home life were getting the best of me. And then, literally out of a conversation at my neighbor’s party over the summer, the most perfect office fell into my lap. It was:

• Close to home.
• Affordable (!!!).
• Full of creative makers and doers.
• Managed by the most awesome landlords.

I’d say that it was too good to be true….but I’m sitting here right now typing this and it’s most definitely all true. Getting my first real office felt very grown up and as soon as I settled in, things really went into overdrive work-wise.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

3. Facing fears.

I know that for some of you, public speaking is no big deal…but it was a new realm for me. Hitting the road with The Blogcademy across 13 classes (one of which was filmed live!) on 3 continents in 2014 really forced me out of my normally introverted comfort zone and I wouldn’t change it for anything — I met so many amazing women in the process, many who became clients and friends. And now, I’m helping a handful launch their new businesses.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

4. Trying out new creative mediums.

Digital products were something that had always escaped my grasp. I had a million ideas (actually, they’re all taped to my wall behind me right now) but my client, travel and blogging schedules were so demanding that the time was never there to explore what I actually wanted to release. That all changed with Blogcademy Home School. We released bite-sized modules of business and blogging topics and they took off big time. We’ve now sold thousands and it made me realize that your first time creating an offering won’t be perfect because there are so many unknowns….but you shouldn’t ever hold yourself back. Your knowledge and skills are valuable.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

5. A new (furry) bundle of joy.

We had a baby squirrel. Wait, what?! Well, technically, we didn’t invite him into our house…he chose us. Over the summer, I was standing in the customs line at JFK when Joey called to tell me that he’d found a newborn squirrel in the bottom of our furnace. I don’t know how he’d managed to survive the 30 foot fall from the top of our chimney! We named him Chubs because he had a cute little belly….and now he’s thriving. He plays with Rocky, he just had his first Christmas stocking and even though he drives us crazy burying nuts under our rugs and in my hair, he’s part of our family and I love the little guy very much.

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6. Working (way too much).

I’m working (haha) on another post about what this year has been like to post next week over on the Branch blog but all I have to say is that a lot can happen when you show up, roll up your sleeves and give it your all every day. In 2014, I:

• Designed a line of fragrances, lotions and hair mists that are now sold at Anthropologie.
• Created a logo for my aunt’s art studio (we’ve been close since I was a baby so it’s nice to give something back!)
• Designed a book for a fine art photographer….and spent the day at her beautiful Malibu compound.
• Designed a boatload of tote bags, digital courses and two new websites for The Blogcademy.
• Developed media kits for some of my favorite humans on the planet.
• My work was featured on The Dieline twice.
• And now….I’m working on the branding and website for a real-life princess.

All in all, I opened nearly 100 separate projects. It’s all been a bit surreal.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

7. A small fortune spent on photo booths.

It’s one of my guilty pleasures and hey, it’s not as bad of a vice as some others I could have! I pulled every friend into my photo booth shenanigans from coast to coast and in return, ended up with many calls from my mom who does my bookkeeping: “What are all these random $4.00 charges in a row from?!” No comment.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

8. Having the best day ever in New York.

When I ended up with one free day in New York over the Summer, Gala and I set a challenge: how much could we cram into it? Highlights included a visit to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, a stroll through Central Park, dinner at the one and only Michael Jordan Steakhouse and a party at a mansion where the fireplace was overflowing with gleaming disco balls. Only in New York.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

9. Realization: my home away from home is Palm Springs.

It’s such a close jaunt from Portland but so dramatically different. And, that’s why I love it. The pace of life creeps by so slowly. The sun is always out. There are palm trees everywhere. The midcentury modern housing is plentiful. The locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met (one even delightfully gave me a tour of his condo!) I’m setting some big goals this year so I can spend more time there in the future…and maybe you’ll come visit me? Just not all at once! That would be intense! ;)

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

10. Feeling content doing my own thing.

I know that statement sounds a bit vague but what I mean is that I’m not afraid of doing things my way anymore. All that time I spent showing up to jobs I didn’t really like because I was scared of breaking the sense of routine, of not being able to pay my bills and of letting people down was good because now I appreciate my current way of life a lot more. The little, unspoken luxuries of saying no to things I don’t want to do, taking lunch when I want, listening to whatever music I want (trust me, my musical choices got turned off in the offices I worked at more times than I can count!) is priceless.

Freedom is a beautiful thing and though it brings a whole new level or responsibilities along with it, I’m more than up for the challenge. If your goal is to break out of your old job / routine / life in 2015, I hope I can inspire you in some way to take the leap because it’s entirely possible. I’ll be over here, cheering you on.

Nubby Twiglet | Looking Back at 2014: The Year In Review

Don’t you just love the feeling of a fresh start that a new year holds? I’ve got my #create necklace on, I’m listening to a great Spotify playlist and I’m ready….to let go, live out loud and take all these dreams I have scribbled on sheets of paper and make them a reality. Have an amazing New Year’s, everyone. Stay safe….and I’ll see you back here soon!


Photos: Diane + Mike, Shell De Mar and Made U Look.