The Week + Links: January 8, 2016

Nubby Twiglet | the Week + Links

THE WEEK

On Sunday, it snowed. Not just a little bit. No slushy, wimpy flakes like we’re used to in Portland. I sat in my office all day, getting organized for the first full week of the new year and watched the winter wonderland take shape from my window. The streets were nearly empty and everything was oddly quiet. The thick dusting of fluffy, white snow to me represented a clean slate. A fresh start.

After a very quiet, chill break, things quickly picked back up. It feels good to be back to work, being productive and putting things into motion that I mapped out over break. In a way, I’m making things sound much more zen than they really are. My days right now are filled with wrapping old projects that made their way into the new year and sending out a gajillion (that’s a word, right?) estimates and proposals. January to me is all about lining things up. Making things happen. Getting into the flow and settling into the routine you want to keep for the rest of the year.

Speaking of the above photo, there was one book I really wanted for Christmas: Love Style Life by Garance Dore. OBSESSED. It has that conversational, personal flow she’s known for and the illustrations are killer. Oh! Those gold scissors also deserve a shout-out. I’d been wanting a pair for ages and Joey surprised me with these ones. SO GOOD. They definitely make mundane office and household chores feel like less of a downer.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I hope your new year is off to a great start and if you’re still struggling to find your footing, that’s totally normal. Even just yesterday, I woke up with a headache, an exploding email box and a to-do list longer than ever. Staying in bed, especially since I work for myself would have been the easy answer. Instead, I pulled myself together, took two aspirin, put on my favorite faux fur coat, walked over to the office, shuffled around the schedule, canceled a few calls and got started.

On those days that just aren’t going as planned, it’s okay to hit the restart button, slow down and realign your schedule. Life happens.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

P.S. This year = a resolution to take more instant photos. Make an actual album. And… write more “real” notes instead of typing everything into Text Edit and then forgetting about it. Little things.

Nubby Twiglet | the Week + Links

THE LINKS

These are my favorite links gathered from around the web this week. There’s always a mix of design, business and life tips topped with a dash humor. Enjoy!

• If you read just one post this week, make it this one. In life, bad things will happen…but you will always figure it out. #unfuckwithable

• Braid Creative has a new format to help you get those new year’s goals in shape. It’s time to reflect and dream.

• Here’s how to write a simple and beautiful manifesto.

• 9 fun Instagram accounts to follow.

• If you work in an office and are tying to stick to a healthy eating plan (I’ve been there — and gave into Bagel Mondays more times than I care to admit), here are some tips. My favorite: Run away to Guadalajara. Haha.

• What would happen if you expressed gratitude every day?

•  The surprising secret to being a good boss.

• Tim Ferriss shares his recommendations and resolutions for 2016.

• Feeling overwhelmed with social media? Follow a simple schedule to stay on track.

• 14 animals who have better hair than you do. Ha!

• Danielle LaPorte has a new twist on reviewing your year (or life).

• It’s true, 2015 was officially the year of obsessive contouring.

• 10 photography trends popping up in 2016.

• There are so many fantastic female visionaries in art right now. Here are 14 of them.

• Here’s the Pantone color of 2016!

What Would Happen If You Dared To Dream Big? Write A Letter To Yourself.

Nubby Twiglet | What Would Happen If You Dared To Dream Big? Write A Letter To Yourself.

If you could accomplish anything in 2016, what would it be?

Putting a pen to paper makes it more tangible and therefore, more likely that it will actually happen. I’ll admit, there’s something a bit scary about committing to writing your future accomplishments out — when dreams come true, your life will change and big shifts can be really uncomfortable.

Familiarity is smooth because it’s what we’re used to. A shake-up causes excitement but can also bring along a sense of uneasiness.

I’m ready for a little shake-up in my life and business and to make it happen, I have to get past any fears and dream big.

Will you join me in doing the same?

As the year came to a close, I had a call with my client and friend Ellen. We chatted about how we planned to spend the holidays and then, she had a simple yet poignant suggestion: to write a letter to myself, listing all the things I’d accomplished and dating it for the final day of the year, December 31st, 2016.

A few days later, after the holidays wound down, I started writing. I listed the things I’d accomplished, one by one and I included specifics: business goals, amounts of products sold and new house plans.

My Big Goals

I won’t bore you with my entire list but here are three big big goals I have:

1. Purchase land in Palm Springs with Joey so we can start building our dream home. We’ve been saving for the last year and doing a lot of research. While it might take a few years to build things exactly the way we want, securing the land and permits are the first steps towards making that dream a reality.

2. Launch Project Prescription with Paul Jarvis. We’ve partnered to create a bundle of must-have documents every creative freelancer needs to run their business like clockwork. I’d had this idea taped to my wall for a few years and decided to approach Paul, a designer and entrepreneur I’ve long admired. We’ve been finalizing the last few documents and it will launch very shortly. I’m not shy about numbers — I want us to sell a minimum of 500 in the first year.

3. Expand retainer clients with Branch from one to three. Going into the third year of running my design studio, I’m seeking more stability. We’ve moved into working with more lifestyle, beauty and food clients and the portfolio feels in line with the boutique studio I’ve always dreamed of running. Now that the creative client base is there, I’m looking forward to having a more firm foundation so the ups and downs that can hit from month to month won’t be as big of a deal.

My letter to myself ended ended up stretching on for a page and a half. When I was done, instead of saving it down into a random folder on my desktop, I printed it out and taped it to my wall.

Having a letter of accomplishments you’ve listed as already happening staring down at you day after day is bound to give you the kick in the ass you need. As I type this right now, I can see the letter out of the corner of my eye.

Challenge Yourself

This week, join me in writing a letter to yourself. Be direct in your goals. Nobody has to see this letter but you so there’s no need to be afraid of asking for exactly what you want. Date it December 31, 2016. Keep it somewhere you can see every day. Think about either printing it out or setting it as your phone or computer wallpaper. We’re in this together — let’s see how far we can get this year!

Hoping things will happen is not enough. First, you have to decide exactly what you want. Then, you have to commit to them so fiercely, it’s like they’ve already happened. And finally, it’s time to put in the work.

Writing a letter to yourself is simple, free and powerful.

Here’s to having a super satisfying, fulfilling 2016.


Photos: Made U Look Photography.

Project Spotlight: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 6

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue 6

Taking on a gigantic magazine project last summer, it definitely took awhile for me to feel comfortable and hit my stride. I’d worked on Rock n Roll Bride Magazine years before but it definitely wasn’t the same beast, being self-published and having less than half the content.

When the opportunity landed in my inbox, I knew it was the right decision for Branch to pick up design duties but I’ll be the first to admit that I was scared. This was going to be on the other side of the ocean on newsstands and in stores, next to the biggest magazine titles in the world and my studio had less than 2 months to redesign the entire thing from scratch, on top of the work we’d already pre-booked with clients.

I’ve never been so nervous about a re-launch in my life.

Thankfully, that issue nearly sold out in the first week, with thousands quickly making their way around the world.

Now that we’ve wrapped the third issue and it’s available for sale, I feel like I can breathe again. The design feels more cohesive, the content flows and each issue is more creative than the last thanks to Kat sourcing the most unique weddings and funding custom shoots.

Whether you’re planning your own alternative wedding or just looking for ideas to throw a kick-ass party, I hope you enjoy it. And if you want a few more peeks inside, head on over here.

Thanks for reading!

New Year. New Schedule. New Goals.

Nubby Twiglet | New Year. New Schedule. New Goals.

At the end of 2015, as the holiday break set in, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel the itch to travel anywhere. I stayed home, took a bunch of days off, didn’t do any “work stuff” beyond checking my email and settled in. I’m idealizing it a bit because it was harder to unwind than I anticipated. But all in all, it was good. It doesn’t how much you love your job; you need to give yourself space to think. To dream. To ask yourself, “What do I really want?”

Oh boy, do I want a lot of things out of this year. It’s an interesting balance I’m trying to achieve this year because while I want to accomplish a lot of things, I also want to simplify.

Simplifying makes more room for the things you want to bring into your life while pushing out all the clutter and the things that no longer serve you.

Over the break, I cleaned out my closets. Cleaned out my office. Traded in unused air miles to subscribe to new magazines. Started reading Zen Habits again (because if you want to lead a simpler life, this is the ultimate place to start). Used a credit to book a ticket to New York to help one of my BFF’s clean out her closet. And really, just lived. I went on long walks and visited plenty of coffee shops with Joey and Rocky, tried out a bunch of new bar happy hours with my dad, spent time at my grandparent’s cabin near Mt. Hood, cleaned out my email inboxes and put in a few quiet days at the office reflecting and prepping for the new year.

It was wonderful.

Nubby Twiglet | New Year. New Schedule. New Goals.

Looking forward, this year is going to be a big one. I’m dedicated to growing and diversifying Branch and with that, there are 4 big project collaborations in the works with a new one rolling out every few months. I’m taking on less of the work I don’t want and more of the work I do. Everything feels good.

With so many new interests and projects where does that leave this space?

I’m going to be tightening up my posting schedule to give you more helpful content and less filler. That was a goal of mine last year as well and I want to keep pushing forward. My thought has always been that there’s no point in half-assing anything in life. Give it your all….or don’t do it at all.

Going forward, there will be a new schedule that looks like this:

Mondays and Wednesdays: Helpful, inspirational posts about design, style and travel — much like it’s always been.

Fridays: A new format of Link Love and The Week In Pictures rolled into one, called The Week + Links. It’s a way to continue sharing helpful, inspiring links I’ve found around the web mixed with a photo (or two) and a more personal, behind the scenes look into what I’m up to. The blogs I love most have a personal touch — they let me into someone’s world and see things through their eyes sand it’s important for me to keep that connection with you here.

I hope your 2016 is off to a wonderful start and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

How was your break?
Did you take any fun trips?
What’s got you most inspired in the new year?

Thanks for joining me over the last nine years, whether you’ve been here since the beginning or are just stopping by for the first time today. I appreciate you and hope you find something helpful and inspiring as you read along. —Shauna


Photos: Made U Look Photography.

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

As the year comes to an end, it’s always nice to take a look back. I know that personally, I get so caught up in the day-to-day of running this blog along with my businesses that I’ll forget about what I even wrote about the month before. It’s good to take stock of what you accomplished because what you did this year provides a solid base for an even better next.

When it came to putting together the list of posts, I didn’t compile them based on views or comments — instead, I scrolled through the entire last year of content, picking and choosing my favorite moments around the posts that I felt were the most helpful to you. Next, I added in a few personal stories with teachable moments and finally, rounded out the mix with a handful that I felt were the most aesthetically pleasing.

All in all, 2015 was a great year. Thanks for closing it out with me and taking this walk down memory lane. Your comments, emails and yes, even snail mail mean the world to me. Let’s continue sharing and growing together. Cheers! -Shauna

CREATIVE INSIGHTS

1. My Biggest Takeaways During A Decade Of Graphic Design

2. 5 Tips To Fight Fear In Your Freelance Career

3. Why I Chose Community College For My Design Education

4. 6 Must-Have Documents To Automate Your Creative Process

5. 15 Must-Have Items For Running A Design Studio

6. 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Media Kit

7. My Top 5 Portfolio Tips

8. Dealing With Negative Feedback

9. 15 Tips To Rock Your Stay At Designer Vaca

INTERIORS

10. My New Office Tour

11. My Black, White and Green After-Hours Hangout

FASHION + STYLE

12. The Cape Dress In Los Angeles

13. Venice Beach Goth

14. A Neon Day In Sydney

15. Black and White Layers in Portland

BLOGGING

16. Live Your Life First, Then Blog

17. Cheers To 8 Years Of Blogging

18. Blogging Completely Changed My Life

PERSONAL STORIES

19. Give Yourself Permission

20. My Wedding Anniversary Letterpress Invites

21. You Have To Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

22. Keep Your Goals Fun and Attainable

23. We All Have To Start Somewhere

24. Your Squirrel Questions Answered!

25. There Are No Shortcuts To Greatness

Creative Chronicles: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

As the year winds down, it’s the perfect opportunity to get super organized. I’ve been in full-on organization mode all this week, cleaning out random junk that’s piled up around the office and once that’s done, I’m moving onto cleaning up our digital files — because let’s face it — when you’re in the midst of juggling multiple client projects and tight year-end deadlines, things can get messy. Fast.

When you launch your freelance business, chances are that it’s just you and therefore….who cares if your files are a little messy? Who cares if your desktop looks like a bomb went off? Who cares if your files are named with some variation of “Untitled” every single time?

Probably nobody.

Things start to change very quickly as your business grows. The second you have more than a handful of open projects, these messes can compound big time.

When I started freelancing in college, I had one big folder on my desktop of client projects (please tell me I wasn’t the only one). I knew that what I needed at any given time was in there. And as you can guess, it evolved into a hot mess that involved plenty of late night tears.

I finally got my system together when I started designing professionally and working at larger studios. File organization suddenly became super important because we were all working from the same sets of client files on the same server. If one of us saved a file under a random name or dropped it into the wrong job folder, it really impacted our deadline. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sort through someone else’s mess, especially when a project is due.

When I started Branch, it was such a breath of fresh air. All my old messes were safely saved to an external hard drive and I had a digital rebirth of sorts with a fresh install on my computer. Sweet relief.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

I want to share my studio system with you in the hopes that it can help you keep your client files in tip-top shape:

On the top level of our studio server, there’s a folder called !!_USE_THIS_STRUCTURE with a clean set of our filing system. Make a habit of copying this folder every single time you book a new project. Always start with the job number, then the client’s name and a brief project description. Here’s an example:

BRNCH_000_CLIENT_NAME_DESCRIPTION

For instance, a new issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine might be named BRNCH_256_ROCKNROLLBRIDE_MAG_ISSUE_6.

Inside each folder, we always use this system of six folders:

1. Client Questionnaire

Before we begin the design process, we have new clients fill out a questionnaire. This reminds us of what the client is hoping to achieve with their business and how our design solutions can best help them. We like to keep it in this easy-to-find spot as we move along with their project.

2. Feedback

Whenever a client sends us feedback, we save it down into a text document and file it in this folder. That way, whoever picks up the project is aware of what the client specifically asked for.

3. Assets

In this folder, we store fonts as well as visual research, stock photos and related assets.

4. Concepts

This is where we save our rounds of work. Each round gets a subfolder inside of here (example: R1, R2 and R3) so we can quickly backtrack and make design updates if they’re referencing multiple rounds during feedback (for example, they loved the branding option of direction 1 in R1 and would like to combine it with direction 1 in R2).

5. Presentations

We save all of our presentations in here inside labeled subfolders (example: R1, R2 and R3). There’s always a working InDesign file for each round as well as a web-ready PDF to send off via email.

6. Sent Files

This is the place to keep all of your clean, completed files. Once a client has signed off on final concepts, we save all of the assets we’ve sent them into this folder so if they ever need any changes, we aren’t digging through old rounds of work.

That’s it! It’s a pretty basic setup and you may feel the need to tweak it, adding and taking away folders to make the system work for your business.

I can’t tell you how much time has been saved by having this system in place over the last few years. As Branch has grown, the number of completed projects on our server has ballooned to a few hundred. When a client emails us asking for a specific file, if this system wasn’t in place, it could literally take hours to find what they need. When you’re running a business, time is money. And, customer service is super important — the sooner you find that client file, the happier they’ll be.

I hope this system helps you get organized for the new year!


For even more Creative Chronicles, please click here.

Project Spotlight: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Before I take a little break from going into the office for a few days (hot apple cider, terrible movies and present opening, here I come!), I have one final project to share with you for 2015.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

If you’re looking for ways to make 2016 the most magical, special year ever, the Radical Self Love Coven Almanac (what a mouthful!) may be just what you need. The brainchild of Gala Darling, it features over 100 pages of exclusive content contributed by an eclectic group of women and reading through it as I was putting this project together left me with so many ideas on tweaks I could make to my own routine.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

And, let’s get real for a second — as a designer, a lot of the projects I take on are very structured. There are very specific guidelines, wants and needs so when a client comes to me and hands me a few folders with complete free reign of the design, I use it as an excuse to get weird. Projects like this reignite that creative spark that can sometimes feel dormant. Working on this over the last few weeks reminded me why I became a designer in the first place all over again. Really, it was a perfect way to end this year on the project front.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

GALA_DARLING_RSL_COVEN_ALMANAC_14

Some of the contents included in this digital book / magazine hybrid include:

• A 12 month calendar, complete with magical + fun dates to celebrate.

• Morning routines submitted by the savviest women around — just WAIT till you read Danielle LaPorte’s! Seriously, so epic.

• Horoscopes hand-penned by the Astrotwins (I met them last year and boy, do they know their stuff.)

• Personal essays that will motivate you to kick your life into high gear big time. Feeling that support when you need to make big changes is AWESOME.

• Illustrations by two of our super talented friends, Emily Faulstich and Louise Androlia.

• A collection of 12 worksheets full of prompts for every month next year to keep you on track.

There’s much, much more but I want to leave a few surprises. 😉

Gala and I wove 109 pages of exclusive content together into one beautifully designed, downloadable document which means that you can have instant gratification. YES! No waiting for the mailman (or Santa!) necessary — save down this content-packed PDF, click through the hyperlinks included inside (just wait till you see Gala’s epic list of book recommendations!) and then, print this beauty out to give your 2016 a kick in the ass.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

I’m so proud of this project because it’s essentially the makings of a magazine. I’ve known Gala for well over a decade now and her dream was always to have a magazine but all those years back, due to cost, she started a blog instead. Well, it’s finally happening! If this incarnation does well, we’re already talking about creating a print version for the following year and THAT has me really excited.

Branch | Gala Darling: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac

Here’s to supporting your friends and making cool shit happen.

You can order a copy here. Let me know how you like it!

Have an amazing 2016, friends!


Featured: Radical Self Love Coven Almanac by We Are Branch. All content copyright Gala Darling.