Put It In Writing: Commit Your Goals To Paper

Commit Your Goals To Paper

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s see what happens…

Latest & Greatest #21: Zara Jewels

Zara Necklace

Zara Necklace

I tend to not wear much jewelry. On an average day, I’m in front of my computer for at least 10 hours and the clink-clank of rings and bracelets hitting my desk and the keyboard drive me insane. When I’m going out though, I like to add some pizzazz to my basic dresses with a statement necklace.

Two weeks ago, when Kat, Gala and I flew in from Greece to London, we were running heavy on causal vacation clothes but lacking some dressier things for four straight days of teaching. Luckily, our next door neighbor in London was Westfield, an upscale mall. So with maybe an hour to spare before our dinner reservations, we hit it hard. I barely found a thing. Then, as I was feeling despair creep in, I hit the jackpot at Zara when I spotted this necklace dangling from the wall.

Zara Necklace

A little bit Coco Chanel, a little bit early Madonna, I knew it was the perfect way to dress up all the simple shift dresses I’d packed. All it took was one statement piece to turn things around. Needless to say, I’m completely, totally obsessed. I have no idea why it reads “Maybe” but it’s definitely a conversation starter!


Featured: Combination Pear and Chain Necklace, Zara.

Oh, Mykonos: A Video Diary

Oh, Mykonos

When it came time to leave Santorini, Greece, the land of romantic sunsets and white-washed villas carved into mountainsides, I was beyond disappointed. What else could possibly measure up to the beauty of this island?!

But, once we arrived in Mykonos, I remembered that comparisons are the root of all evil — it was completely different, in the best way possible. Known as the place to party in the Greek islands, Mykonos is full of beach clubs and five star hotels. Though, I’ll be honest; our hotel was so good that we barely left.

We spent the next four days lounging by the pool, sipping mimosas at breakfast and befriending the hotel staff. Oh, and listening to Club Tropicana one too many times. For better or worse, Gala brought along her video camera so you can check out all the acton! Oh, Mykonos.

Nice To Meet You, 32.

Nice To Meet You, 32

Woohoo, today I’m 32! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?!

I’m starting off 32 in a good place — I feel like I’m finally who I want to be and all the pieces of the puzzle I’d searched for are here.

Looking back over the last few years, Saturn Return was a difficult time for me, full of a lot of upheavals in rapid succession that seemed never-ending at the time. What I didn’t realize was that I had to shed a lot of my old life in order to make room for my new one. The one I dreamed of but was afraid to go after. What I learned during that time is that sometimes you just have to let go and embrace the unknown. There IS a safety net, you just can’t see it. There ARE people watching out for you.

At 29, my life started to feel right again. I married Joey, and with him came a 2 for 1 special — Rocky, my big-eared sidekick who I grew attached to very quickly. Joey, being an amazing handyman, fixed up the wacky but very old Bavarian-themed house I’d bought the year before with my brother and helped make it feel more like home. As 29 came to a close, I moved onto some new agency positions (oh, the stories I have!), made some new friends and really started focusing on where I wanted to be with my career.

30 just flowed. I worked on dozens of new and exciting freelance design projects, got into an agency I’d been dreaming about for years and blogged five days a week, even if that meant getting up at 5 am. 30 was a pivotal year for me. My big, far-fetched dream had always been to teach a blogging strategy workshop with a heavy dose of branding. Gala and I had thrown around the idea of doing one together while traveling the world but weren’t quite sure how to make it a reality. Then, we met up with Kat (who was a long-time client of mine) and over a five day vacation in Vegas last February, dove headfirst into the idea of The Blogcademy. In August, one month before I turned 31, we launched. I was scared to death. Completely and totally. But then, the first workshop sold out in under a week.

31 was all about solidifying my dreams and letting go of everything else in my life that wasn’t working. I was finally breaking into working on more editorial design jobs and doing more branding work for fashion and beauty brands. After doing one too many sports campaigns and one too many production-based jobs, I was doing what I’d prepared for 5 years to do.

And, I was finally able to travel the world doing what I loved — teaching women bloggers how to take their brands and voices to the next level. 31 was the year that everything finally clicked. Behind the scenes, I finally had ideas for my first digital products and my new business started to take shape and become a reality. I experienced a lot of growing pains but finally felt like a legit adult (most days).

So, here I am. 32. I’ve learned to push aside a lot of fears by just surrounding myself with good people and going for what I want, even if my stomach is in knots some days. After returning from nearly three weeks on the road, I know that I am capable of living without perfectly defined routines. In less than 10 days, I’ll be launching my new business. And now I can say that life is great and mean it.

A week of celebrating in the Greek Islands was pretty awesome but tonight, I’ll be keeping it low key, heading out to our neighborhood bar for a drink with Joey.

Another year down…and I’m ready to start this one out right.


Photo: Shell De Mar, taken in Santorini, Greece.

The Week in Pictures: 9.13.13 | London and New York!

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

I’d already been to London once before, back in January. But let’s be honest — going to Europe in the dead of winter wasn’t the best idea. While I really wanted to appreciate London at that time, I was too sick and too cold to really take it all in. I spent more time resting up in our apartment and avoiding the snow than exploring. This time, with a bit more experience, Kat, Gala and I planned our trip out much better and even though we had less days off, we managed to squeeze a ton of fun stuff in.

We chose to stay in Shepherd’s Bush because we found a great art deco apartment just a few minute walk from both the tube and Westfield. Westfield is a luxury shopping mall with a huge selection of restaurants and we knew that after long days of teaching, we could tuck away into dinner and make it back home with very little effort.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

But, back to our apartment — I loved it. Yes, it was convenient and affordable but the real selling point was this completely over the top wallpaper. The rest of the place was expertly curated as well. I could have easily moved in and not changed a thing with the decor (and I’m picky as hell).

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

This tray, complete with a quirky set of salt and pepper shakers in our kitchen window made me smile.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

We even had a tiny little balcony overlooking the neighborhood. Cute, right?

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The reason we were in London was to teach two back-to-back Blogcademy workshops. Getting off a plane from Greece last Wednesday night and rolling with very little sleep right into a 6 a.m. alarm Thursday morning was a rude awakening but once we got to our venue, Curtain Road Studios, the excitement started to flow.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

This time around, we had tons of beautiful flower arrangements by WildAbout Flowers that really livened up the space.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

One of our attendees, Fifi Scarlett handmade these amazing masks and I took full advantage of getting some photos in one during our break.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

Every morning, on our walk to class, we passed by this Fornasetti display.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

After our last night of teaching, we went out to Pizza East in Shoreditch. I loved the rustic tables, handwritten signs and of course, the tasty pizza selection.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

Gala introduced me to the wonders of ginger beer.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

On Monday, our only free day in London, we hit the city hard — but my favorite stop is always Liberty, a department store that was founded in 1875. Their stationery section is off the hook.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

After Liberty, we stopped by Sketch. I’d been obsessed with the place since it opened its doors 10 years ago and to finally see it in person was a dream — I have a full post coming next week about the experience but if you’re visiting London, put this restaurant at the top of your list!

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

London was a blast but I wasn’t quite ready to head home yet! On Tuesday, Gala and I boarded Virgin Atlantic, bound for New York. I try to visit my friend Bianca at least once a year and it was the perfect time to tack on a few more days in one of my favorite cities.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

Within two hours of landing in New York, I was ready to head out to a new bar, The Dead Rabbit in the Financial District. This place (and its drink selection) was way too good to sum up here so expect a full review soon!

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

Whenever I’m in Soho, I swing by Dean & DeLuca. They have the best food, flowers, and well…the best everything.

The Week in Pictures: London and New York

Bianca’s apartment is on Wall Street so every time I walk to the subway, I get to pass by this handsome lad.


I’m now back in Portland, attempting to stay awake and ignore my jet lag while trying to remember what it’s like to not live out of a suitcase. What a whirlwind it’s been. And, tomorrow’s my birthday! Woohoo!

Thanks for following along with my adventures — have a great weekend, everyone! xo

Link Love: 9.12.13

link love

Link Love

Hello from New York! I’m excited to be finally heading home today after close to three weeks away!


• When life becomes overwhelming, sometimes you just have to be brave enough to let all your expectations go.

This is pretty much the best studio makeover I’ve ever seen.

• If you’ve ever been interested in Cape Town, South Africa, follow along with Megan & Mike Gilger as they explore the city in beautifully curated photo posts.

• Has New York changed for better or worse?

• Every time something really great happens in your life, do you hold your breath, waiting for the impending doom?

• Thinking about starting a blog but not sure which platform is right for you? Breanna Rose covers the basics.

• 10 fantastically styled coffee tables.

• How do you feel about business travel? Love it? Loathe it?

• The four stages of creativity.

• I love how easy Joy’s beauty routine is in The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Makeup.

• When it comes to digital and film photography, here are the main differences.

• Five must-have decorating apps.


Image: 230 Fifth.

Advice #55: Should You Ever Work For Free?

Advice: Should You Ever Work For Free?

Hello,

I’m a graphic design student, currently working in-house (but for way below an average in-house rate) and I have a few freelance clients. Only one is paying me and the others want work for free. I don’t know how much more free work I can do. I’m worried that if I say no, I could miss out on some legitimate work for my portfolio. But I also have bills, rent and student loans to pay back. What do you think?


First off, when it comes to both personal and professional relationships, we teach people how to treat us. And let’s be real — while gaining projects for your portfolio can be incredibly valuable, working for free won’t keep your bills paid.

It’s a slippery slope because you need real life design experience but don’t ever sell yourself short in the process — you’re training to be a professional in your field and that’s a serious investment! There’s a bigger issue: if you’re taking on so much free work that you’re unable to pay your bills, it just pushes you further from your dream because at some point, you’ll have to pick up another job to make up for the slack. Wouldn’t it just be easier to charge your clients a fair rate and focus on what you actually love doing as a job?

By agreeing to do design work for free, you’re setting a precedent with your clients that it’s perfectly okay to expect the relationship to continue as it always has. And really, who can blame them? They’re getting access to a dedicated, talented freelance designer with no strings attached. To be completely honest, it’s going to be hard to flip the tables and start charging them — I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them throw a tantrum. After all, who doesn’t love free work? But, you need to stand your ground. Once you start valuing your time and work, they’ll respect you much more.

I know what it’s like to break into the design industry and to need work for your portfolio. I landed my first design internship at a studio in 2007 (when the economy was in much better shape) and it was paid for the entire time. Even though I had a paid internship, I still sought out freelance work to round out my portfolio. I wasn’t super confident with my work yet because I was still in school and learning my craft so I charged what I felt comfortable with. My first ever logo jobs were for a flat rate of $200.00. It was a win-win situation: my clients got a fantastic deal and I gained valuable work for my portfolio. After doing a handful of those $200.00 logos, I felt more confident and eventually raised my rates to $500.00. And then to $1,000.00 post graduation. And then to $1,500.00 and continually on up until I was earning a decent living. It was a slow and steady increase over a few years as demand grew. There weren’t any sudden jolts — I eased into my rates. The point is, I never, ever worked for free, unless it was to help out a close friend.

I should clarify that your paid in-house position and the work you’re doing for your personal clients are two very different things. As a student, it’s important to take on internships (paid or unpaid) to gain real world experience. They’re often for school credit and the industry connections you gain are more than worth the low compensation. But when it comes to offering your clients free work, what are you really gaining? The energy you spend working on their projects could be used to build your personal brand, to create self-initiated projects and to network.

Graphic design is just like any other profession. You would never expect a plumber come to your house to fix a leaky pipe for free. A cobbler would never fix your shoes just because. Graphic design requires a specialized skill set and you’ve put in serious time and money to gain those skills. Demand more of yourself and you’ll get more. Lead by example and stand your ground when it comes to your rates and never compromise on doing free work unless it’s absolutely, completely, totally worth it.

What do you think? Are there any circumstances where you think it’s okay to work for free?