Project Spotlight: Gala Darling

Nubby Twiglet | Project Spotlight: Gala Darling

Today, a project Branch partnered up with Gala Darling on went live. A full year in the making, this was the most comprehensive project we’ve ever worked on to date! You can click through and see even more of the process here but I also wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the more personal side of things.

Gala and I met on Live Journal back around 2002, both in our early 20s, both not quite sure where we were headed. I was working in a mauve wallpapered corporate office during my summer breaks from college, helping the accounting department with their filing. Shortly after that, I moved onto working in a shoe store. Gala was working a string of unfulfilling retail jobs. I loved reading her posts oversharing every detail of her life, which at times sounded like a made for TV movie.

I didn’t really know anything about blogs outside of Live Journal at that time and in 2006, she was the first person I knew who made the leap over to her own, self-hosted domain. If I remember correctly, she even linked me in her first-ever article about fashion advice for recovering goths (haha).

Still not quite sure where things were going for me (I had just started my design program), I read her blog religiously every single day while standing around at my shoe job, killing time. It kept me inspired and gave me hope that I could find a way to just maybe get into design studios and ad agencies and find my spot in the world.

During the spring of 2007, I flew to LA for a Courtney Love concert (oh, the stories I have!) and spent the afternoon hanging out with my friend Star, who also knew Gala. Star said blogging was going to blow up big time and I needed my own domain. I mean, I had that already but no self-hosted blog. Star happened to be the best developer I knew. Thanks to her persistent pestering, this blog was launched later that summer.

Gala and I read each other’s blogs but we’d never met. Finally, we were going to be in New York at the same time. We spent an afternoon exploring the city together and it was so natural, I felt like I’d known her my whole life. We had different accents and were from opposite sides of the world but everything else was basically the same.

Nubby Twiglet | Project Spotlight: Gala Darling

We both had other friends that were into blogging. To be fair though, we weren’t just “into blogging”…we were full-on obsessed to the point that our nonstop discussions around the subject would have driven anyone else completely nuts. We found that bond with each other and carried that through our friendship.

I watched Gala’s blog take off and flourish and evolve. When we first started blogging, most people didn’t yet view their blogs as a full-time business. We came from the era where blogs were a place to share personal stories and snapshots — they weren’t the slick money-making, marketing machines we often see today. And because of that, most of us quickly cobbled together our own branding, if you could call it that. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind it at the time.

For Gala, things really started shifting when she began launching digital products a few years ago. I saw her business grow way beyond “just a blog” and when that starts to happen, there needs to be more consistency.

Last Spring, we finally started discussing what she needed to do to have that added polish while keeping the branding feeling rooted in her personal style which included a love of fashion magazine-inspired type, fuchsia and an obsession with “snail mail.”

It’s been inspiring sitting back and watching Gala put all the pieces of her new look to use, from the branding to the blog to the product graphics — she’s always had such strong content and cohesive branding is the ultimate cherry on top.

Congratulations, Gala. I am so proud of you!

More visuals can be seen here.

What I Wore: The Golden Hour In Palm Springs

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

I have a total obsession with Palm Springs and a big part of that is because of the light. Yes, the light. I am fascinated with the golden glow of the desert — it’s the compete opposite of the usually overcast, cool light we get in Portland for most of the year.

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

While I was in Palm Springs with The Blogcademy, we worked with Made U Look, a trio of photographers who shoot primarily with film on vintage cameras. The way they picked up the light was unparalleled. We’d spent the day shooting and made it to The Saguaro just as the sun was beginning to set.

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

The light was still bright and clear out on the balcony but as we moved inside the room, the sun started dipping behind the mountains, creating deep, pronounced shadows. Even though it only lasted for about 10 minutes, it was so beautiful.

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

I love the variety of outcomes from just this set of shots and have such an admiration for photographers who still shoot with film. It’s always exciting working with Made U Look because truly, I never know what to expect until I receive the download link.

Nubby Twiglet | Golden Hour In Palm Springs

I Wore:
Dress with embroidered flowers, ASOS
White lucite buckle heels, Quelques Shoes De Plus


All photos: Made U Look.

The Week In Pictures: 4.4.14

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Happy Friday! How was your week? Over here, it’s been a whole lot of work and no play but it will all be worth it. I’ve been working ahead as much as possible on projects because it’s going to be a busy late spring and summer traveling with Blogcademy and relaunching our website. Last year, I didn’t plan very well at all and pretty much ended up working through every trip. This year, I’ll be visiting Berlin and Amesterdam for the first time and I want to be present. Really, truly present. So, it’s time to plan better. Live and learn!

My current paper inspiration: a combination of the latest DWR catalog (sign up here) and Marie Claire, which has been extra awesome lately.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

My dad is seriously the best. He always makes plans to take me out and on Saturday, we visited a few bars I’d never been to. The first was the Lutz, which I completely fell in love with. Opened in the late 1940s, nothing much has changed, except owners — the original curved turquoise countertop is still intact, the burgundy vinyl bar stools have never been recovered and the dark paneled walls are still full of photos from many decades ago. Things are scuffed, chipped and…charming. I can’t wait to go back.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Joey walked into my office a few mornings ago chatting about Boy George, who happens to be one of my all-time idols. I was reminded of his autobiography on my bookshelf. Such a good book! It was one of my favorite teenage reads (besides The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, of course).

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Back to Saturday night…my dad had another great place in store! This bar in Sellwood, Cosmo Lounge is also a retro gem. The dark walls are completely covered in velvet paintings and a smattering of mismatched lights are draped from the ceiling. The waitress convinced us that we needed to try green Jell-o shots. Hey, there’s a first time for everything!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Having Shien’s lookbook that I’d just finished show up in my mailbox was the cherry on top of an intense but rewarding week.

Here’s to an inspired weekend full of adventures. xoxo

Link Love: 4.3.14

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Nubby Twiglet | Emma Summerton for Vogue Australia, March 2014<br />

• One of the hardest parts about starting your own business can be deciding on a name! Breanna Rose just wrote this great post on why she changed the name of her design studio.

• Style is about more than just what you’re wearing; it’s the way you live your life.

• When it comes to blogging, do it for the love. If the passion isn’t there, it will show.

• The secret world of fast fashion is centered in Los Angeles.

• When it comes to tofu varieties, what’s the difference?

• As an entrepreneur, are you having trouble knowing what to share about yourself and your business? Braid lets us in on their not-so-secret formula for sharing content.

• Feeling lonely? These tips can help you get out of that funk.

• The history of the movie trailer.

• There will always be those people who create and then those who critique.

• Not everyone is excited about drinking overpriced coffee.

• The Fresh Exchange has been traveling through Spain and sharing their daily adventures. So beautiful and inspiring!

• Working out with Marilyn Monroe.


Image: Emma Summerton for Vogue Australia, March 2014.

In Progress: Recent Design Work

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

It’s been a little quieter around these parts because I’ve been wrapping up what seems like a million different projects with Branch. When I say a million, it’s actually probably more like ten but that is still a lot when it comes to finishing identity guides, fine-tuning websites for launch and prepping print files for books! There are no complaints here, though. I’m humbled every day getting the opportunity to do what I love most — design. While I’ve been posting all of the finished projects over on the Branch blog, I think the in-progress shots can sometimes be just as interesting. So today I wanted to give you a peek into a few things I’ve been working on!

Above: This branding for a videographer just wrapped yesterday!

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

The first Blogcademy workshops of the new year are quickly approaching. That means custom graphics for the totes, sponsor cards and posters. See you soon, San Francisco!

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

I’ve been working on some abstract collages for a client’s imagery. It’s been fun exploring a more organic style.

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

Kat wanted an updated media kit…and then it ended up nearly doubling in size! It’s now more like a mini magazine.

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

This is the pattern for the videographer I mentioned above. CUT! Haha.

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

The week after Blogcademy San Francisco is…Blogcademy Chicago!

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

For the last year, Branch has been working with a fine art photographer, designing everything from her branding to a coffee table book. We did some custom collages for her website, too.

Nubby Twiglet | In Progress: Recent Branch Design Work

Working with Gala is always fun — her new branding officially goes live soon and this is an alternate icon. Yes, there is a postage theme throughout!

If you want even more behind the scenes peeks, I’m always updating Dribbble.

Little Lessons #3: Embrace Those Quiet Times…and 10 Ideas To Drum Up Business

Nubby Twiglet | Little Lessons #3: Embrace Those Quiet  Times..and Don't Panic!

When you’re self-employed or even just freelancing on the side, there are weeks where your inbox seems to go quiet. Right as you start to doubt yourself, the work suddenly comes flowing in, offers for blog and magazine features pile up and it seems as if the world is being handed to you on a silver platter. Then, as if on cue, another slow time hits. What gives?!

This year, I’ve had a lot of those moments. Even when I have a seemingly full schedule on paper, those days hit where I have an open block of time and look around nervously, refreshing my emails and wondering if I’ve done something terribly wrong. And truthfully, everyone does. Sometimes, this stretches on for months at a time. It can feel like an intense roller coaster ride, full of the highest highs followed by a high-speed dash back to the bottom. Instead of questioning why it’s happening though, you have to accept that when you work for yourself, this is the new normal.

When I worked at design studios, I watched them experience the same highs and lows. One month, we’d be feverishly busy and just barely hit our deadlines. Late nights and pizza were accepted as the norm. A few months later (usually at the height of summer or right before Christmas break), we’d be looking around, wondering when the next project was going to drop and idly surfing inspiration sites, bored out of our minds. When work stops fortoo long, it goes from fun (afternoon movies, happy hours and long walks in the park) to a really dark place (which one of us is going to get cut first?). As uncertain as it feels, work, just like everything else is always going to have an ebb and flow.

When you do slow down, even if it’s just for a few days, instead of panicking, use this time to really promote your business. Instead of taking off to the beach (okay, that’s fine every once in awhile!) put together a really nice media kit of your services and packages, dust off some of your most loved blog posts and re-share them across social media, tighten up your portfolio (because let’s face it, it’s never really done) and showcase some of those projects you never quite had the time to post about before.


View Slow Times As An Opportunity

If you’re still on the edge of your seat and there’s not an immediate uptick in demand, use that nervous energy to think about how you can diversify:

1. Make a list of other services can you offer and add them to your site and / or media kit. Dive into something new, like designing e-books or digital courses.

2. Contact previous clients to see if they have a project they need help with.

3. Create a digital product. What can you teach someone?

4. Brush up on new skills with a Skillshare class (they’re really affordable). Blog about this new skill you’ve acquired — your audience may need it.

5. Volunteer for a non-profit. They always need good, willing design help! Make connections in the process.

6. Offer an incentive for new clients to work with you. Just be careful to not come across as desperate — desperation, no matter the situation, is never attractive!

7. Offer a referral program. Happy clients love recommending services to their friends!

8. Build out old projects for your portfolio. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-initiated work.

9. Use your downtime to connect with design peers. Also, let them know you’re able to pick up extra projects they don’t have time for. Every designer likes to keep a list of referrals on hand for jobs they can’t take on.

10. If you’re not blogging, start. Share genuinely helpful information. Here are 30 topic ideas to get you started.

When times are slow, they give us the chance to reflect and improve upon what we’re doing. Everyone, no matter how skilled, famous and fabulous has room to improve! We all hit slow times. Embrace them. Make the best of them. They won’t last forever.


It’s your turn: Do you have any coping skills to deal with those painfully slow times?

P.S. That yellow poster in the top photo is pinned behind my desk and reads Stay Positive. Yes, I glance at it often. ;)