Tag Archives: Business & Marketing

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

One of the most fulfilling projects I’ve worked on over the last year was designing my friend Gala Darling’s first book, Radical Self Love. This is close to my heart because I met Gala online 13 years ago and even back then, she was fanatical about writing. Her dream was to become a published author but it took years of behind-the-scenes hard work to make it a reality.

A few years ago, I designed Gala’s first book proposal and when things didn’t work out, we were both crushed. But, she persevered and never lost sight of her goal. Now, it’s clear to see that everything worked out as it was meant to be — her book just debuted on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list and the pre-sale alone has already sold hundreds of copies. Gala’s journey is a great reminder that overnight success is rare but if you stick with what you believe in, amazing things can (and will!) happen. We just sat down for an interview that I hope will help you stay motivated and focused on making your own dreams a reality. Enjoy!

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

A lot of us have big ideas for projects but as they wear on, staying motivated and on-task can be difficult. How were you able to remain focused on a project that was years in the making?

As a little girl, I’d sit at the kitchen table writing stories, then staple them together, draw a cover (barcode included) and imagine what it would like to be published. Authors were my heroes: I spent hours at the library with my father every Saturday, and I was constantly working through a huge stack of books. Writing a book has always been my big dream. 

This book evolved a lot. It started as a monthly serial — I’d send out the chapters as they were completed — and a couple of years after it was done, I realised I had a whole book sitting right there. I had a meeting with a big publishing company, but they didn’t really “get it”, and my agent told me it was a hard time to sell a self-help book. I was extremely disappointed, but I can see that it was all perfect. I’m so glad I didn’t publish the book in that incarnation or at that time!

Over the last couple of years, technology has changed so much, and has put the power to produce back into the hands of the creators. It’s incredible. There are no gatekeepers anymore. You don’t have to wait to be chosen: you can create your own Youtube show, publish your own book, record your own radio show. 

I was able to stay focussed on publishing my book because even though I experienced some crushing disappointment, I had a burning desire to get it done. Once I saw that a few women I knew had self-published (with great results), I was inspired to give it a try. I wrote the original manuscript for this book in 2009, so this is definitely not an “overnight success” story — it has taken six years to get to this point!

For me, it was essential to break the project down into stages. I did my edits, then hired an editor to go through it again. I researched book design, then hired you to make the book beautiful. I hired a photographer to shoot the cover, and so on and so on. This has been such a massive learning experience for me — I never knew how many small details would become so big and important! 

If you have a dream, I encourage you to pursue it with gusto! You only get one life: you should create and do EVERYTHING that you want to. And if your dream has lost its lustre? Go back to the drawing board. Spend some time alone, contemplating it. You may have outgrown your dream, or it may have evolved. Or maybe you just need some outside perspective. Ultimately, if you really want to make it happen, you will.

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

With some projects, not everyone is going to get what we’re doing — and that can be hard to deal with. What are your suggestions for dealing with negativity?

Exactly. In my situation, I was crushed when that meeting with a publisher was a bust! Honestly, I wish I could say I bounced back from that quickly, but I didn’t. It took me another two years to re-write my book proposal, and when I did, my agent told me it was too hard a sell. I was so frustrated, but then I looked around at the people who were self-publishing and decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did!

There are always going to be ups and downs with any creative project. Remember that people’s opinions only have as much weight as you give them. My agent told me she couldn’t sell my book… But when I pre-launched it on Amazon, it went to #1 on the Amazon Movers and Shakers charts. 

Know what you’re trying to achieve and why. When you know your “why”, it becomes so much easier. In my case, as much as writing this book is a dream come true for me, the thing that kept me going was knowing that this book would change women’s lives. I knew that if it got into the hands of a woman who really needed it, it could encourage her to get help with her eating disorder, it might inspire her to leave a bad relationship, it would remind her how beautiful she is and how much we need her! You have to have a deeper motive than just stroking your own ego… Tempting as that can be!

Radical Self Love: An Interview About Entrepreneurship, Inspiration and Motivation with Gala Darling

As an entrepreneur, why is loving yourself so important? If your confidence is wavering, what are some things you can do?

Ultimately, loving yourself ties into self-respect and how much you value yourself. If you don’t have a healthy sense of appreciation for who you are and the work you’re capable of, it’s all too common to get stuck. You might find yourself constantly going after the wrong kind of clients, refusing to hire an assistant even if you need one (and drowning in work that is not your zone of genius), not knowing how to pull your business out of a plateau, or undercharging for your work. All of those things lead to resentment and burn-out. The bottom line? Radical self love is good for your business!

If you ever doubt your inherent awesomeness, try writing a list of all the things you’ve achieved. It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture and celebrate all those small triumphs along the way! Even having the courage to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur is so huge, and many of us downplay that (or forget that for most people, being self-employed is too terrifying to contemplate). I promise, once you get started writing down all the things you’ve achieved, you’ll be amazed… And it might even inspire you to increase your rates!

I hope this interview reminds you that no matter how big and scary your dreams may feel, they are possible. Interested in picking up a copy of Gala’s book? It’s on sale starting today and you can grab your copy here. —Shauna

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.

Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

Nubby Twiglet | Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

During the week, I was holed up in Palm Springs for Designer Vaca, an annual retreat for female creatives. The buzz of nervousness and excitement was palpable — we’d traveled in from different states and even countries to network and learn from one another.

Designer Vaca isn’t just an annual getaway for me, though — it’s also an important marker in my life. It’s a reminder of how much can happen in just a year when you put your mind and every ounce of energy into something. A few days before Designer Vaca last year, I launched Branch so being there this year reminded me of that fundamental time.

A year ago, I took a chance and quit all outside design work to run Branch full time. I’d been freelancing and building my clientele for five years prior and I knew it was finally time to overcome my fears and lay everything on the line. Big life changes can be paralyzing but in a way, because my schedule was so packed at the time, I never had the chance to overthink things. The month before Branch launched, I’d been in Austin, Greece, London and New York with The Blogcademy. By the time I got home from all that traveling, I had less than 2 weeks to get all my content together, design my website and go live. The day we launched, I had to be in Malibu for a client meeting and two days after that, in Palm Springs for Designer Vaca. There was no wiggle room.

I always say that it’s best to launch and learn and we did just that. Things were far from perfect — I’d taken all the photos, written all the copy and Star pulled a few all nighters to push the site live. Even in its imperfect state, business was solid from day one. Within a week, we’d booked out for a month. Within one month, we were booked for three.

Running your own business is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Let’s be honest — there are a lot easier, less stressful ways to make a living. It’s true that a lot of businesses fail in the first year and I didn’t want Branch to be a casualty. A good way to avoid falling into that pit is to understand your business from the inside out so I told myself that in the first year, I was going to take on as much work as I possibly could and learn from it — I wanted to really figure out what we wanted more of and what we wanted less of. I’m a firm believer that as an owner, before you can delegate to others, you need to understand the ins and outs of your own business.

Nubby Twiglet | Happy Branchiversary: One Year Of Running A Design Studio Plus 5 Tips For New Business Owners

I want to share a few nuggets of wisdom that we’ve gathered over the last year to help you with your own creative business:

1. Launch and learn.

When you have very little time to get up and running like we did, your site might not be perfect. The point is that even if you sit on your idea and polish it to perfection, you’re losing valuable momentum. We launched with the best we could do at the time and built our clientele as quickly as possible. Now, it’s time to step back, reevaluate our online presence and rebuild our site and media kit. The thing to remember is that it’s not a great idea to invest too much upfront — even with all the market research in the world, you never know if a business idea will actually resonate. It’s better to work on a shoestring budget, figure out what works and then rework your offerings based on those learnings.

2. Attract now, repel later.

As a new business, in the beginning it’s a good idea to stay open to different kinds of clients. Learn from each and build a solid financial cushion before specializing. Once you’ve passed the year mark, step back, reevaluate and decide who you’d like to attract more of. Focusing in on a particular niche will help you to position yourself as an expert and when you specialize, you’ll be able to charge more for your services.

3. Geographical locations matter less now than ever.

Branch is based in Portland, Oregon but none of our clients are local. Like many U.S. cities, Portland is saturated with hundreds of design studios so we instead focused on the world. By employing this mindset, we’ve picked up clients in Seattle, London, San Francisco, Brisbane, Fargo, Perth and New York. The design industry is a lot more open these days — it’s totally possible to keep overhead low, run your business from a tiny town and still rule the world thanks to an internet connection.

4. Share every project you do, no matter how small.

Part of the growth of Branch this year can be attributed directly to social media. We shared projects the second they were finished across Dribbble, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and our blog. Not every project was a hit but there were a few that got picked up and repinned hundreds of times. The click-throughs from Pinterest especially helped build our client base. Dedicate as much time as you possibly can to social media — there’s nothing better than free marketing!

5. Raise your rates incrementally.

When Branch launched, we kept our rates fairly reasonable for a design studio. We wanted to make sure we were booked out and stayed busy. As inquiries piled up, we revamped our pricing. The key is to not do massive increases all at once — if you do this, you run the risk of stripping out your client base. Instead, be realistic with steady price increases. Instead of tacking on $1,000.00 to your most popular package all at once, it’s better to do four increases of $250.00 over the course of a year.

It’s been a great first year at Branch — we’ve been mentioned in Computer Arts, featured on The Dieline and asked to submit our projects to multiple design books. Hard work and dedication does pay off. If you want something bad enough, you just have to push fear aside and go for it, and see what happens. It may end up being a rollercoaster ride…but you’ll never know what’s possible unless you try. Thanks to Star, Cathy, Joey, Rocky and Carey for being there from the beginning and the clients who believed in us.

Your turn: I want to know — what do you have in the pipeline that scares you? What are your big dreams when it comes to running your own business?

#GIRLBOSS: A No-Holds-Barred Handbook For Forging Your Own Path In Business

Nubby Twiglet | #GIRLBOSS Book

#GIRLBOSS is part memoir and part guide to building a powerhouse business and best of all, there’s no jargon to make you feel stupid. Fluffy mantras are left at the door. It’s straight up, it’s real, it’s intense, it’s funny and even the most hardened CEO’s will walk away learning something new about how to run their businesses with more passion and efficiency.

If you’re still dreaming of starting your own business or have started one but it’s not feeling like the right fit, this book will inspire you to push through, search and create until the pieces fall into place.

Just like many of you, I always had dreams of starting my own business. Part of the appeal was wanting to do something on my own terms. But, that’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t have a clear path or mentor to cheer you on when things get tough. Because I had neither, I felt lost for quite a few years.

My first job was working in an accounting department of a food distributor over my college breaks. I’d dye my blue hair a normal, non offending color, pull out the office appropriate clothes my mom had bought me and show up for three months straight to a mauve-walled hell. My favorite times of day were lunch and after work drinks with my boss (always befriend your boss — you can get away with more!) Looking back, the job wasn’t so bad. In fact, it taught me how to function in corporate America and get along with people far outside of my social circle. The bigger, underlying issue was no matter how hard I tried, I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do.

These days, one of the biggest downsides of the internet and Instagram is that both often make success look like it happened overnight but perceptions are not reality. The truth is, many of us spent years floundering, trying to find our footing and in the process, our greater focus in life.

In my case, I started college in 2000 and graduated in 2004. I went back in 2006 and graduated again in 2008. Only in 2008, after hundreds of credits and two degrees did I finally feel like my path made sense. If only I’d figured it out sooner!

That’s where #GIRLBOSS comes in. It’s penned by Sophia Amoruso, the hyper-successful founder of Nasty Gal and it’s the book I so desperately wish had existed when I was first starting out. The difference with this book when compared to others in the same genre is that Sophia doesn’t sugarcoat her path. At all. Like many of us, she tried on a lot of different hats before she found the right fit. From working at Subway to checking ID’s at an art college to, well, shoplifting, she never quite found it.

Once she listened to her calling, which was what she was already naturally great at (sleuthing out amazing vintage clothing for a bargain and reselling it for mega bucks), the rest began to fall into place. Of course, it wasn’t that easy (you’ll have to read the book to get all the dirty details) but her growth happened quite rapidly once she dedicated herself completely to a singular path she excelled at.

There are thousands of other business books out there but what makes #GIRLBOSS so different is that it’s not just glossy highlights and beautifully curated photos that have little to do with everyday reality. Instead, it’s a no-holds-barred look into what it takes to build a multi-million dollar company from absolutely nothing. You get insight into the lowest lows to finally reaping the rewards from years of nonstop hard work. The beauty of #GIRLBOSS is that you can learn from Sophia’s story in an afternoon and then map out your own desired path without so many pitfalls. There’s nothing like learning from the best!

The biggest lesson I took away from this book is that it is possible to build something from nothing. #GIRLBOSS is proof that hard work and drive coupled with a great idea can build great things. You just have to want it badly enough.

Featured: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

A Call To Creatives: Follow Your Unique Path


Over the weekend, I met up with a long-time friend who just landed a way awesome job and is leaving Portland soon. We both started our careers with the same exact internship and I was so excited to hear the news. His climb up the ladder in the design world over the last few years has been nothing short of impressive. I thought about our conversation afterwards and asked myself why I didn’t want the same thing. After all, a well-paying in-house design job at a cool company is the dream, right?

For six years, I freelanced and worked full-time at a lot of design studios and agencies. And I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It was necessary for me to witness the inner-workings of how successful design businesses run on a daily basis in order to fully understand what it takes to keep things going.

But now, being on my own, I’m the most content I’ve ever been. I’m excited to get out of bed every morning to work with clients I love and feel a personal connection with. I’m excited to share new snippets of work on dribbble. I’m excited to have people on my team I admire like Star and Cathy, even though we’re not physically in the same city. I’m excited to manage things and create a vision that feels authentic, evolving and modern. It’s what I’ve wanted for a long time.

And that’s what I realized: we each have to block out the outside noise and follow our own path. It took me until the age of 32 until I felt comfortable enough to launch Branch. I needed that time to grow into myself and gain the confidence that somehow, some way, everything would be okay. This path feels right for me for right now and if it doesn’t in the future, I have the power to change it.

I know a lot of other designers that don’t want the headaches of running their own businesses. They are happy working at a job that treats them well, pays them well and provides them with great benefits. I completely respect that because I wanted that same thing a few years ago. It’s nice to not have any cares about work when you leave the office for the night. It’s a very zen feeling to lock the door and leave your work behind. When you work for yourself, that work and to-do list is always chasing you.

Working for yourself is definitely an uphill battle. But it’s a battle I’m more than willing to take on.

When it comes to your career, it’s easy to look around and obsess about people that seemingly have something more than you. There’s that someone that is younger, more talented and further along. But remind yourself that there’s always going to be that someone.

As hard as it is to not get hung up on what the rest of the world is doing, you have to remember that you’re on your own path. It really doesn’t matter all that much what everyone else is up to. I didn’t even finish my design degree until I was 27 and it made me feel like such a late bloomer compared with my peers — but I didn’t let that stop me. I just worked harder because I wanted to be a graphic designer more than anything. I put in the time to get what I wanted. I worked a lot of jobs, some of which I loved, some of which I hated. But I learned something unique from each experience and it was worth it.

This post is a reminder to block out what everyone else is doing. If you want to work in-house or at an ad agency or for a small, family-owned business, cool. If you want to work for yourself, cool. It’s all up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to build your career in design.

5 Tips For Managing Multiple Businesses

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips For Managing Multiple Businesses

Over the last year, I’ve launched two new businesses in addition to running this blog. Juggling three separate ventures isn’t easy but I have a few simple tips to make the process smoother if you find yourself in a similar position!

1. Keep one set of books

Before I expanded my business ventures, I sat down with my accountant and asked him how I should structure my books. The thought of potentially keeping track of receipts and accounts across multiple businesses made my head spin! He suggested that I form one LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) and then create a DBA (which stands for “doing business as”) for all of my additional ventures.

I took his advice and formed a business under my name, Shauna Haider LLC and then created a DBA for Branch and another for Nubby Twiglet. Since all are housed under my LLC, I now keep one set of books when it comes to taxes.

2. Keep an editorial calendar

Because I am now running two blogs, it’s important for me to keep track of what to post and when to post it. I am constantly dreaming up new ideas and producing content and in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about which blog it is most appropriate for.

Nubby Twiglet is my personal outlet with content revolving around design and lifestyle topics. Posts relating to personal style, home improvement, travel and advice live here.

On the other hand, the Branch blog is a place for my studio to post business-related content as well as design projects.

I keep detailed editorial calendars with outlines for the next month’s worth of content for each blog as a safety net (though it often shifts for the day depending on my mood). Having that arsenal of ideas scribbled down keeps me from feeling like I’m posting on the fly and in turn, producing sub-par content.

3. Batch process as much as possible

Part of the reason I’m able to stay on top of multiple businesses is because I batch process a lot of smaller tasks. For blog posts, I’ll often shoot all of the images I need for the week over a few hour block of time on the weekend and set up folders on my desktop for each.

When it comes to my design business, if I’m working with multiple new clients at the same time, I’ll do visual research for both at once and produce any similarly formatted presentations on the same day. By mentally focusing on the same steps, I’m able to work much faster.

4. Link personal and business bank accounts

All of my personal accounts including savings and checking as well as my credit card and home mortgage are issued through the same bank. When I set up my business accounts, I made an appointment at my bank and had a separate set of accounts opened but had them linked in with the others. Now, I can log into my account online and see all of my balances across six accounts at the same time.

5. Don’t be afraid to delegate

I’ve always had difficulty with delegating tasks. I tend to think that I can do it all (and do it well) but I’ve had to learn the hard way that this isn’t always the case. Over the last year, I’ve gotten better at letting go. Joey now does all of our grocery shopping and runs most of our household errands so I can spend more time focused on work. A month ago, I hired my mom as the project manager for Branch. Just knowing that she’s taking care of all of my business correspondence gives me peace of mind.

These five changes have saved me so much time and helped my sanity tremendously! Do you have any more tips you’d recommend to make running multiple businesses even easier?