Tag Archives: personal

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.

New Interview: Creative Diaries

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Diaries Feature on Breanna Rose

I’m so excited to share that today, I’m featured in the Creative Diaries series over on Breanna Rose discussing what an average day is like working at Branch. As you can imagine, no two days are exactly alike but hopefully this will give you a much better idea. It’s not all glamour and kicking back reading fashion magazines (I wish!) but totally worth the hard work.

This feature was also a great excuse to take some updated photos of my workspace as well. Click on over to read more!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Diaries Feature on Breanna Rose


Top photo: Made U Look
All other photos: Shauna Haider

A Reminder For Designers: Search Out And Define Your Niche

Nubby Twiglet | A Reminder For Designers: Search Out And Define Your Niche

Most of the early professional design work I did revolved around sports. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not a person interested in sports. At all.

I really enjoy working with creative small businesses, especially those with a focus on lifestyle and beauty. These niches have long been my passions but when I was first starting out, like most designers, I had to take whatever jobs I could get. I needed a steady paycheck and there’s a lot of consistent, well paying work to be found connected to sports. So, that’s what I did. I did a lot of work for sports-focused brands and campaigns for the NBA and the NFL.

While the work I did professionally wasn’t a perfect fit for me personally, it got me out of my little, perfectly styled bubble. I learned how to design based on specific style guidelines. I learned how to quickly knock out massive production files. I learned that design wasn’t all about me or my personal vision. I learned how to work successfully in a team environment. Overall, these assignments made me a better designer.

But still, my dreams were rooted in those other worlds. Those brands felt very far aways as I worked late nights on sports-focused projects. What I quickly realized though is that when I left these freelance gigs for the night, they didn’t define me. I had a design & lifestyle blog I was obsessed with posting on, I had stacks of fashion magazines sitting in my home office and beyond that, I didn’t have to share the projects I did to make a decent living in my personal portfolio.

My portfolio could be comprised of whatever I chose to share.

I started really narrowing down what I showcased in my portfolio, knowing that what I shared would draw in more of the same. While I didn’t share the NBA All-Star campaign I worked on for three months straight, I did share the branding and magazine I did for Rock n Roll Bride. While I didn’t share the NFL campaign that I spent two months on, I did share the media kit for Veronica Varlow. Slowly but surely, I was able to cultivate an image and a focus. And, the work I wanted did follow.

Spending your days on projects you’re not completely into on a personal level might seem grueling but the thing to remember is that the “cool” brands you want to work with don’t always have the biggest budgets. Still, these are the projects that can really define your portfolio. For me, working on the big-name sports projects allowed me to take on those smaller budget dream projects and get my portfolio more focused.

It took me about five years of slowly building my portfolio with the right mix of projects. I now run Branch full time working with the types of clients I focused on courting early on. A lot of them have been long-term relationships we’ve slowly built as their budgets increased. We’ve grown up and evolved together.

From the outside, it can seem like everyone else has it together, working with a roster of exclusive, dream clients but that’s not always the case. This post is a reminder that the path to finding your niche, then courting the people you want to work with and then getting to a point where you can charge enough to make a living isn’t easy. There is no magic bullet. The new catch-phrase I hear everywhere is “work smarter, not harder” and while that’s a great mindset, in the beginning, you’re going to have to work extra hard to build the portfolio and relationships you need to draw in those dream clients. There are no shortcuts.

Carve out your niche, that place in the industry that makes you really happy. Build relationships that matter. Only share your best work. Over time, the pieces will fall into place.

P.S. If you need a little help landing those dream clients, my post about creating self-initiated projects may be helpful.

Designers: How long did it take you to find your niche? What was the turning point for you in your career? And, do you now focus on that niche full-time?


Photo: Made U Look.

FIDM Interview: A Peek Inside My Design Career

Nubby Twiglet | FIDM Interview

I normally don’t dedicate posts to interviews I’ve done but I wanted to give the FIDM crew a shout-out for reaching out and interviewing me. They’ve been a gracious bunch and writer Sara Berkes really went out of her way to ask me an interesting mix of questions.

The interview covers my early days of design, my best client moments and much more. My week in LA has been charmed so far and this is the ultimate cherry on top. Thanks again, FIDM!

Facing My Fears: Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

We all have fears, some irrational, some not. One of mine has always been a fear of heights. I am fine in enclosed spaces like on planes (and that’s a relief since I just did a 13+ hour flight to Australia a few months back). But being outside and dangling from ropes with nothing underneath me?! Well, let’s just say that the idea left me scared shitless. At the same time, I didn’t want to be the only one sitting this adventure out so I put on my best pokerface and climbed in the van headed for the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest in the world!

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

When we arrived at Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours, our first order of business was to pick out a helmet. Safety first! We each grabbed the one that most closely matched our likenesses: Kat went with Cat Woman, Gala took Tank Girl and I grabbed…Mini Me. Haha. Next, we were strapped into full body harnesses which made us walk like we were wearing very stiff diapers. Glamorous!

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

After hiking a quarter of a mile up to the platforms, we were given a safety talk. You can bet I hung on every last word of what our instructor said! With a total of 5 platforms, you’re given the opportunity to take in a bird’s eye view of both the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites bump up next to each other!

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

As you can see, I was a little apprehensive on the first run. The tour guides could sense it and made every effort to fill me with fear. And being gullible, I believed it all! When we were instructed to wear comfortable clothing, I figured that it was still an opportunity to be stylish. Maybe to impress a few monkeys? Who knows. I wore a Vogue shirt, Forever 21 windowpane leggings and Zara motorcycle boots. Hey, you’re only going to live once so you might as well overdress every opportunity you get!

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

Gala and Kat were much more zen about the whole concept of flying through the trees attached to a pulley system.

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

Me? Not at all. There I am, sizing up the next platform.

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

Can you spot me up there? As the we moved along to each platform, a new twist was introduced. On one, we were flung down the line as fast as we could possibly go, only to be stopped a split second before we hit the wall. Ahhhh! And on the final platform, we flipped upside down and inched along with no hands. I managed to do that one and it was pretty magical — I felt like a superhero. Did I mention that this all took place on Halloween?!

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest

We were rewarded for surviving our jungle surfing adventures with three scoops of tropical fruit-laced ice cream (including wattle seed!) at Daintree Ice Cream Company.

I don’t have a so-called bucket list and needless to say, jungle surfing was never on my radar of things to do. But looking back, I am so glad I did it. Facing those fears and just going for it leaves you feeling exhilarated and thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t so bad after all.” If you ever get the chance, just go do it! If I can, you can. Truly.

Nubby Twiglet | Jungle Surfing Through The Daintree Rainforest



Location: Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours.
Photos: Janneke Storm.
Special thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland for making this post possible.

25 Moments of 2013: My Timeline Of An Awesome Year

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Looking back, 2013 felt a bit like two years crammed into one.

A lot of travel, designing, blogging and teaching happened. And I had a pretty good time during most of it which really is the most important part! I’ve always felt that we should be conscious and thankful for all the awesome moments in our lives in order to open the door to more of the same. This post is a big pile of gratitude dedicated to 2013 and features 25 moments in chronological order that made my year unforgettable.


Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

It’s weird to think back and realize that our second ever Blogcademy just happened at the starting of this year. We taught in London in the middle of a blizzard which shut most of the city down. But, our blogcadettes were total troopers. So many of the ladies in this pair of classes made a big impact on us, including the super smart and stylish Xandra.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

After Blogcademy, we headed out to a farm in Surrey to teach a social media course to photographers. I was completely obsessed with the main house which at a solid 500 years old, felt straight out of a fairytale. There used to be a recording studio on the property — David Bowie, Queen and Black Sabbath had camped out there in decades past. Gala and I wasted no time claiming Freddie Mercury’s bedroom for the night!

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

After a day on the farm, we packed up and took the Eurostar to Paris. Paris in the winter means that there’s no tourists in sight. And, it also means that you have to do a whole lot of acting for the camera when you’re getting rained on and freezing to death.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

In April, Gala and Kat came to Portland to visit me for the first time and we spent some quality time crawling through my grumpy neighbor’s lawn, posing for Made U Look. And, visiting the Acropolis…because anything that’s good enough for Marilyn Manson is good enough for us.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Once our adventures in Portland were over, we headed down to LA. I brought Joey and Rocky, who happens to be named after Sly Stallone’s most famous character. We walked him down to his namesake’s star for a photo-op and he quite suddenly puked all over it. Thankfully, the rest of our time in LA went much more smoothly. Like good ol’ Americans, we took Kat to Disneyland to celebrate her birthday. And in our world, no birthday celebration is complete without matching ears.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Perhaps even better than our time at Disneyland? Meeting this way too perfect Michael Jackson impersonator.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Late Spring was spent in Portland just trying to catch my breath. With the rest of the year’s travels mapped out, I knew it was only going to get more crazy from that point onwards. I spent every moment I wasn’t working sitting at home, trying to soak up the calm and keep everything together.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

In New York over the summer, we held our first meet-and-greet and got to hang out with a lot of the women who had joined us at our first Blogcademy the previous October. So much had changed by that point and it made me incredibly thankful to hang out with the ladies who had taken a chance and bought tickets when we were still trying to find our way. A standout from that first class? Latanya, who immediately took action after our workshop and turned her passion for blogging into a full-time gig.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

While in New York, I engaged in my favorite night time activity: going clubbing with Bianca. The best spot? On Top at Le Bain, which features a hot tub in the center of the dance floor complete with a gleaming disco ball and an astroturf covered roof with a crepe stand. My idea of heaven.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

After New York, Kat, Gala and I boarded a flight to Minneapolis. Our time there was one of the highlights of my year by far. That perfect lavender-infused latte at Spyhouse. Pride weekend. A visit to First Avenue. Guzzling booze out of a shrunken head. Meeting Alexandra Franzen for the first time. Sipping Sofia on a pontoon in Lake Minnetonka. Perfection.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

A quick stop in Austin rekindled my love affair with the city big time. And, our Air BnB pad had dinosaur planters.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

In August, Joey, Rocky and I headed down to the Oregon Coast for our annual Cannon Beach stay. My time at the beach gave me the opportunity to rock this weird neoprene dress I now refer to only as zipper hips.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Less than a week later, Gala, Kat and I headed off to the Greek Islands. It was the most surreal, beautiful place I’d ever been. We spent our nights perched on a private balcony watching cruise ships inch by while listening to 90s gangsta rap. Climbing the maze of steps through Santorini made me feel like I was in another world altogether.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

A full week of unwinding in Greece was met with two back-to-back Blogcademy classes in London. Our London apartment featured some of the best wallpaper I’d ever seen (Gala always chooses well!)

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

After London, I headed off to New York for a few days. Bianca lives right on Wall Street and the novelty of getting up close and personal with our nation’s history never wears off for me.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Once I got home from New York, there was a 10 day window to celebrate my 32nd birthday, my third wedding anniversary with Joey and launch Branch. Intense doesn’t even come close to summing up that week and a half! Star visited Portland in the midst of it all and somehow made the madness feel manageable.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

On September 25th, Branch went live. I had kept it under wraps for so long and honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Taking that chance was worth it — within one day, the next month was booked solid with projects.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

A few hours after Branch launched, I headed off to LA for a meeting with one of my clients and then straight to Palm Springs for Designer Vaca. Hanging out with 50 other lady small business owners was just what my soul needed. Star and I spent a whole lot of time lounging by the hot tub, gossiping with friends and sipping Maneaters.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Heading back to Portland for a few weeks of no travel felt awesome. I met friends for coffee, settled into Branch life and got my bearings.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

Working for myself full-time opened up the doors for a lot more spontaneity. Like this day trip to Cannon Beach with my brother where we hunted down an elusive bigfoot statue.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

October felt really heavy because I knew that at the end of the month, I’d be leaving Joey and Rocky for close to a month, our longest time apart since we’d met. I completely dreaded it.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

After a 13 hour flight, I woke up in Brisbane. The first week of our time down under was sponsored by Tourism Queensland which meant doing a whole bunch of things I couldn’t quite believe including zip lining through the rainforest, koala cuddling and taking a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef. Our welcome to Australia was so over the top good that my homesickness quickly evaporated…for the first three weeks, anyway. ;)

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

During our time Down Under, we taught four Blogcademy classes in quick succession…and ended up on ABC News.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

The cherry on top of our trip? A brief stay at Gala’s parent’s house in Wellington, New Zealand. Between the business advice, stylish surroundings and home-cooked meals, I was secretly hoping they would adopt me and that I could just move in.

Nubby Twiglet | 2013: Year In Review

In December, I finally got over my fear of entertaining thanks to a whole lot of pushing from Joey to make our holiday party happen. In the process, I realized that our house didn’t need to be picture perfect. People are what makes a house a home and having it filled with our friends and family for the night reminded me of what really matters.

Here’s to a big, exciting, fulfilling 2014. Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane. Wishing you an awesome new year!


Photos: Shauna Haider, Janneke Storm, Shell De Mar, Made U Look, Juliane Berry and June Cochran.