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.

Branded #3: Malvi Marshmallows

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Up until a few days ago, I’d always assumed that all marshmallows were basically the same: white, fluffy and sugary. And, it makes sense — marshmallows are a cheap commodity at grocery stores and a “nice to have” when the mood to decorate your hot chocolate strikes or a summer night of camping calls for s’mores. But beyond that, they’re pretty basic and overlooked.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Well my friends, I was wrong about all marshmallows being created equal. Malvi has changed the game for good. A few days ago, a very thoughtful sponsor sent a box of these sweet treats to my doorstep as a Valentine’s Day surprise and lord almighty, these babies pack a flavorful punch.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Raspberry Hibiscus, Red Velvet, Spiked Espresso and Vanilla Salted Caramel are all up for grabs. I think these little packs would make such great client gifts and goodie bag treats at a party.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

The branding is spot-on as well. It has a hand-done feel but the black and white color scheme keeps the overall look from venturing into total kitsch territory. The spare, simple packaging gives it a sense of confidence — there’s no need to shout from the mountaintops that these pieces of pillowy goodness are the shiznit…because one bite is all it takes to seal the deal.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows

Oh, in case you’re wondering about the name, Malvi is short for malvavisco which is the Spanish word for marshmallow. Pretty great, right?

Less Made totally nailed the branding and website. I love discovering these great independent brands and the talented designers who make them happen. Now, I just need to throw a party so I have an excuse to order a boatload more of the vanilla salted caramel marshmallow sandwiches. Because, as you probably guessed….they disappeared quite fast as soon as the last photo was taken.

Nubby Twiglet | Malvi Marshmallows


Images: Shauna Haider and Malvi.
View more Branded posts here.

The Week In Pictures: 2.13.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Happy early Valentine’s Day!

How was your week? Mine was mixed…but chocolates make everything better, don’t they? I spent a few days confined to my couch with a nasty cold and man, when you’re sick, there’s a lot of time to think and be still. By the end of day two, I was going completely stir crazy and just wanting to get back to a regular routine outside of my house. Then, right as I was starting to throw a pity party for myself, the doorbell rang and in came a surprise box of very decadent chocolates from my friend Mary Bee. That act of kindness hit me immediately — it was so thoughtful and unexpected and shook me out of my funk. It was a good reminder to pay it forward and the next day, I ordered a surprise gift for someone else. It’s not even about a gift, though. It’s about taking a little time out of your day to text, call, leave a comment or write a letter and let someone know you care. Everyone has bad days and those little gestures can make a big impact.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Over the weekend, I was passing by this wall at St. Honore and it reminded me of Valentine’s Day. I want to see chocolate boxes with this level of decoration!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

I snapped a quick selfie this morning to show you this new necklace I’m obsessed with. I tend to not wear much jewelry because it gets in the way but this is like the perfect balance between ladylike and edgy. I’m digging the structure — no jingly-jangly dangly bits! For the last few days, I’ve been using it to dress up basic black layers like this tank.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Orange, orange everywhere! Things haven’t slowed down for even a millisecond over at Branch but I’m embracing the busy times because there’s so much cool stuff going on behind the scenes. The tricky part with design is that it can easily be six months to a year before projects are launched. Luckily, I have five finished ones lined up to share with you starting next week. Finally!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Something completely new for me this year has been writing in a gratitude journal. I didn’t even really know what that was until I designed the one above for the Olivine Atelier Happily ever After course but now, I’m completely hooked. Every day, you write three things you’re grateful for, three things you could do to make the day even better and then, a mantra for the day. And at night, you jot down the best thing that happened. It’s so simple but a great exercise, especially when you’re having a bad day and then remember those things you wrote down a few hours earlier. I have so much more to say about the course as a whole but I’ll save that for a dedicated post.

On that note, I love this quote:

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” —William Arthur Ward

With Valentine’s Day happening tomorrow, take the time to reach out to someone and let them know you care. Just giving up 15 seconds of your day can make a world of difference.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Treat Yo’Self This Valentine’s Day!

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Valentines Day Special

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better day is there to treat yourself to something special? This is the perfect opportunity to show your blog and business some love!

The Blogcademy is offering a one time only $100.00 off discount for ALL of our 2015 in-person classes so if you’ve been thinking about joining us for a weekend of fun and learning, now is the time!

This discount is good for the following dates:

LOS ANGELES
February 28th & March 1st
The Jefferson

LONDON
June 13th & 14th
Curtain Road Studios

SAN FRANCISCO
September 12th & 13th
Venue TBC

NEW YORK CITY
September 19th & 20th
Venue TBC

MELBOURNE
December 5th & 6th
Venue TBC

SYDNEY
December 12th & 13th
Venue TBC

To claim your discount, head over to The Blogcademy and make sure to enter the code “blogyourdreams” when checking out. You must pay the full amount upfront for the discount to work (it’s not valid if you opt to pay via installments) and the discount ends on Wednesday, February 18th.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. In-person classes are where the magic happens — between the one-on-one advice, like-minded energy in the room and the chance to make some awesome friends, it’s such a great opportunity to transform the way you view your business in just two days.

Hope to see you there! And Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!

Link Love: 2.12.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love: 2.12.15

• If you read just one article this week, please make it this. The next time someone tells you to be more presentable and basically encourages you to be someone else, take a stand and remind them that you’re just fine being you.

• If you’re trying to figure out whether to name your business after yourself or something more professional sounding, this article weighs the biggest pros and cons of each.

• It’s a simple message we all need to be reminded of: Feck Perfuction.

• If you have a few million Euros lying around, why not pick yourself up a nice, big empty Italian castle?! Um, one even comes complete with stables, a slaughter house (!!!), a chapel and a private family graveyard. Enticing?

• Eek! Mapping the bacteria in New York’s subways.

• I LOVE this post so much. Alexandra reminds us of the 10 slow and difficult steps to moderate success.

• A look back at how YouTube changed the world.

• This article argues that you should tell your children how much money you make.

• I’m so glad folks these days are getting better about appreciating what came before them and repurposing old spaces instead of tearing them down.

• Need help with choosing the colors for your brand? This post can help!

• Well, this is the bathroom of my dreams. Enough said.


Image: Greg Kadel for Vogue Paris.
Check out more Link Love columns right here.

Rapid-Fire Q&A Submission: You’ve Got Questions…And I’ve Got Answers!

Nubby Twiglet | You’ve Got Questions…And I’ve Got Answers!

Later this year, I’ll celebrate my 8th anniversary of blogging in this space and because I’ve been here for so long, I figure that most of you know me pretty well (and I’ve gotten to know a lot of you pretty well, too). It’s easy to forget that there are new people landing here every day so I thought it would be fun to try something different this week — a rapid-fire Q&A!

I’ve done an advice column since the very beginning but that’s usually a long, detailed answer to one question. Here, I’m going to gather 20 of your questions and split them into two upcoming posts.

It’s time to think about what you want to know. Do you have a question about blogging, graphic design, creative careers, personal style, business, a specific font I use, travel, squirrels…or something even more random? Head on over to my Facebook and ask away!

Part one goes live next Tuesday and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! -Shauna

Nubby Twiglet | You’ve Got Questions…And I’ve Got Answers!


Photos: Janneke Storm.

The Week In Pictures: 2.6.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

How was your week? I had another one of those weeks that felt like a month wrapped into one — between a drag queen brunch (more on that in a minute!) new client meetings, adventures across town and a few really late nights, I’m feeling very happy but also, very worn out. I’m writing this post from the comfort of my new green couch with a cup of tea complete with a dash of honey nearby (I’m normally a coffee drinker) under the guise that it’s a lot more comfortable working from here today than an office chair. I know we can all agree on that one!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Yesterday, I came home to find a surprise package waiting on my doorstep. “I haven’t been doing any shopping” was my first thought. Haha. I sliced it open to find cartons of homemade squirrel-shaped cookies from my pastry chef client (in Nebraska!), Goldenrod Pastries. Wow. Needless to say, I immediately ran them over to my office, afraid that Chubs would eat them all!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Onto the drag queen brunch. That’s a real thing here in Portland. My grandma and I took my cousin Matt to this amazing event for his birthday on Sunday at the Kennedy School. Basically, a drag queen troupe called Hot Chocolate is led up by the FIERCE Poison Waters and alongside their performances, you eat breakfast and hit the bar. It was basically the best Sunday ever. This is what I looked like before heading out the door — and to be clear, my skin doesn’t look that smooth in real life. Good lighting and Makeup Forever HD foundation get the credit!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

I didn’t snap many photos of the event because I was having way too much fun watching the drag queens rock out to Whitney Houston. But getting to spend the morning with my grandma was so much fun. She LOVED it. She was sipping a screwdriver, clapping along to every song. I hope I’m that full of zest and energy at 85! This is my most favorite photo of her, taken at the end of the 1960s. She raised FIVE boys and still looked that good.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

After an epic Sunday, I hit the town again on Monday and quickly discovered that Clyde Common has the best lavender lemonade around. They were so good in fact that my table ordered five of them!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Whenever I’m downtown, I have to stop into Alder & Co.. This display of flowers is always a different mix and so beautiful.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

On my way home, I spotted this coffee shop. It’s in the corner of a church and all the proceeds go towards keeping the very old (and very cool) building maintained. I know where my summer outside office is going to be!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

One of my favorite clients to work with is Luke Copping — he’s always full of great ideas. Next week, I’ll be sharing the outcome of our latest collaboration which includes these cards printed with inspirational sayings.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

My year has been so full of goodness so far. I’ve been getting out of my office more and hanging out all over Portland while catching up with old friends, a lot of family and new clients. This week, I was looking for an old notebook and stumbled upon my stash of 30 or so journals dating back 15 years. Most are full of to-do lists but there are also thoughts and dreams. There are a lot of mentions of knowing what I wanted…but not quite knowing how to get it. I’m only now able to look back and see a very clear path and progression because as you know, when you’re going through life, there are days (and months) that leave can leave you feeling a little lost.

What I now realize is that nothing is perfectly laid out for any of us…and I’m glad. It’s about that exploration! The exploration is what allows you to try on different hats, mingle with different social groups and experiment. The more you experiment, the easier it will be to realize when you’ve found that perfect fit so my point is to get out and live life. There are so many discoveries waiting for you to find. This is getting a little long-winded and heavy for a Friday so I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Have a great weekend, everyone!