WHAT DO YOU DO?
I build thoughtful brand experiences for modern entrepreneurs & small businesses. I pride myself on creating genuine relationships with my clients and working as a partner in their ventures. Fully understanding the person behind a brand story is the first step in sharing it. I work with my clients to transform their brand stories into seamless visual narratives that inspire connection.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I graduated from college in 2014 with a Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design — a rare degree! From there, I got a job right out of school working as a Junior Designer at a huge ad agency outside of DC. I kept up with the fast pace of agency work but was seeking a better outlet for my creativity. I followed my gut and left the agency, taking a step back to intern for a boutique studio I admired in NYC. (Hat tip to my dad, who let me live in his condo for free during this low-income time of my life.) After six months of learning the ins and outs of the branding process at a small studio, I said goodbye to the hectic NYC rat race and headed to my hometown in Pennsylvania. I landed a pretty great gig doing in-house design for a local brewery, and stayed there for about 2.5 years, starting as a part-time freelancer and working up to a full-time, salaried position. Though the perks of the job were fantastic (think: free beer, beer tasting happy hours, working closely with the two founding brothers to properly develop their creative vision, and an incredible lady boss!), I felt that I was drifting from my career goals. After all, in-house design can be cyclical and soon felt limiting. My (now) husband was working in New York at the time, and we wanted to make a change to be in the same place. So, grand plan, we renovated a vintage Airstream and trekked our way out to California to start fresh, together. We got to San Diego to find that the creative scene there is very limited, as is the job market in general, at least for our fields. So we moved up to LA and a few weeks of freelancing later, I miraculously fell into a dream job working as one of two designers at a small-but-mighty design and architecture firm. Long story short, I learned a TON at that job in a year and a half, but an opportunity arose that made it possible for me to go out on my own, and I finally felt ready to take the leap. So here we are! A lot of it, honestly, was asking for the thing that I wanted. I was never afraid to (politely) reach out to a studio or company, tell them I loved what they were doing and asked if they were looking for any help. You can't be afraid to go after what you want. No one will hand it to you.
How do you stand out in your field?
I think my most recent design job seriously honed my type skills. I feel that well-executed typography is the difference between good and great design. Additionally, I seek to add layers to my branding projects to give them depth and interest, whereas a lot of design is simply slapping the same logo onto a box, a bag, a business card. It all gets a little flat unless you consciously create depth in the branding. Lastly, I prioritize my clients — their desires are my desires. I work to make them feel heard. They need to know that they are an important part of the design process. I want the end result to feel like it is a glowing representation of who they are and what their business stands for. I want my clients to be happy, above all!
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now, I'm finishing up some collateral for a pizzeria and starting two new projects. One is a coffee brand and accompanying packaging for a good friend of mine, and the other is a proof of concept for a wine bar and shop. I've really excited about the ideas I have brewing for both of them.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
My style is feminine-leaning, uncluttered, and a little bit quirky. I aim to imbue a sense of time and place into my work, relevant to the history and story behind the brand I'm working on. Leaning on historical design references helps to mold a brand that is enduring, while creating something new and fresh. I think my latest project, a rebrand for a French café and market, illustrates my style well. It's approachable and light, but has a quirky, passé undertone.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
If you are familiar with the Enneagram, you might know that type 7s (me) are BIG idea people. I have a gazillion ideas running through my head at any given time, and I wish I had a little more time to pursue some of those. Also, my husband and I are wine enthusiasts and have been on a quest to educate ourselves on everything wine, especially in the realm of naturally made wine (no chemicals, low human intervention, as it was thousands of years ago), but there are never enough hours in the day. I also have wanted to learn to speak Italian for years, and want to get around to that! I think, more than anything, I want to find more time and space to focus on creative exploration and learning new things. Those are the things that keep me inspired as a designer.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
As I am just starting out running my own design business full-time, one of the hardest parts has been getting my work out there so that new potential clients can find me. Additionally, building up a portfolio that is 100% my own and not the work I've contributed to at studios has been challenging. I have a lot of old work that doesn't accurately represent my skill set any longer, and a very small selection of new work. Potential clients need to SEE what you can do in order to hire you, and I completely understand that. I know that will all come with time, but it has certainly been a lesson in patience and perseverance.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
In all honesty, the most valuable thing for me right now would be having another creative to bounce ideas off of. I'm so used to working alongside other designers/creative types, and it's been an adjustment to mostly be my own sounding board. I think concepts improve exponentially when you have a few other minds in the mix.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
I think I'd tell myself at the beginning to make EVERY project count. Do not put anything out into the world that you are not insanely proud to have made. Also, know your worth, and do not let anyone undervalue or take advantage of you.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I'd love to know more about how to successfully pitch an idea to a big company. Or what it's really like to run a studio with a handful of employees, to better understand if that is something that I want for myself in the future
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Branding for fellow creative businesses, like a photographer or a jewelry maker. Oh, rebranding a winery/vineyard or a clothing company — both would be excellent. I'd also love to get my hands on a boutique hotel project, where I could also be involved in wayfinding and a little interior design collaboration to bring the brand experience full-circle. High-level answer: I seek to work with those who have a spirited passion for their trade and the need to share it with the world. Always small businesses.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
Any of the above jobs, paired with a client who has a creative vision but trusts me as a professional to guide their brand in the right direction, that's the ideal partnership. Alternately, I think I'd love pairing up with another designer to run a studio together if I ever find someone who I could successfully work that closely with! The collaboration potential is incredible. Anyone out there interested in having a creative business partner? :)
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
A complete branding project, including brand identity, print and digital collateral, and website design would cost between $4500 and $7500. Each project is different, so I'd encourage those interested in working with me to fill out my inquiry form on my website so I can provide an accurate estimate!
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
All of the important questions are included in my inquiry form! The basics: business concept, goals, design necessities, and budget. This will give me the best idea of your needs and whether we'd be a good fit.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
The world we live in is wildly inspiring and I keep my eyes and mind open to it.
This member profile was originally published in September 2019.