In case you didn’t know, my mom has been living with me the past few months to help me move in and get settled. Really, we were unpacked and settled in about a month, but she’s retired and she wanted to spend some extra time with me and Lennon, and who am I to say “no” to that?
In a few weeks, we’ll drive back to Mexico together to spend Christmas with my siblings — the holidays are still really tough without my dad, and it helps when we’re all together. After that, my mom will stay behind in Mexico and Lennon and I will head back home.
I’m not going to lie to you. It’s been a challenge at times to share my tiny new space with my mom. I love her, of course, but there have been a few sacrifices I’ve had to make. For one, she’s been using my bedroom which means I haven’t had a chance to enjoy my fancy shmancy new “hospital” bed that I bought to help with my GERD (old lady alert #1). Instead, I’ve been sharing a room with Lennon and sleeping on his bunk bed, which is not *quite* the same experience.
Anyway, the other day my mom asked me if I could take her to the mall. She wanted to visit her favorite department store, and I agreed. Now, I am not really a “mall person” and on that day, it was SO packed. I instantly got overwhelmed.
Thankfully, I’m always able to find a “waiting area” where I can get away from all of the shoppers and just sit and wait.
Me waiting and wondering if people know that online shopping is a thing. 😆
As I was sitting on the comfy sofa away from the crowds, it hit me that I’ve become my dad. He never EVER wanted to shop. So, he would always find a sitting area where he could wait for us. He was a man who never needed anything, and as I get older, I also feel like I have enough awareness and gratitude in my life that I don’t really need much, either.
Having a roof over my head and good health is so much more valuable to me than a new dress that I’ll just end up donating to Goodwill in two years (old lady alert #2).
Not only that, I believe we have everything we need when we have love in our lives. And I feel so much love every day from my son, my family, and from all of the amazing connections I’ve made online through my business over the past few years.
Today is my birthday and I’m turning 37. I know this blog post makes it sound like I’m turning 67, but I’m actually really grateful for the insight I’ve gained as I’ve gotten older.
If it isn’t abundantly clear by now, gifts aren’t really my love language. So instead, I’m spending my birthday with Lennon, exploring a new-to-us biking trail in our newish city, and eating all my favorite foods.
When it comes to my business, my wish this year is that we continue to support each other and lift each other up. I would really love it if you could share something about my business in honor of my birthday! I don’t expect you to buy anything, but if you know someone who could benefit from my services or courses, you could refer them to my website or share something about my business on your Instagram Stories! It would truly mean so much to me.
I want to make sure it goes both ways, though. If you own a business and I don’t know about it yet or follow you, send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll be sure to check out your page and put you on my referral list. Just because it’s my birthday doesn’t mean I can’t reciprocate!
Well, I’m off to eat some birthday spicy Thai that I will 100% regret later when I lie down to go to sleep on that bunk bed. Here’s to 37!
Last week I got a chance to attend an event for small businesses put on by Meta (the company that owns Instagram and Facebook). I'm glad I was able to take some time off from my design projects to go get my learning on… just one of the perks of being your own boss. 😉 I was also lucky that it was within driving distance of my new place in San Antonio!
Throughout the day, there were different workshops you could attend and one of the workshops was about Marketing with Instagram. Of course, I was super interested! One of the very first things the speaker said was “Your brand is not just your logo."
I was so excited to hear this because it’s something I'm always trying to educate people about.
In fact, the entire presentation validated everything I know to be true from my own personal experience as a freelance designer, which is that most people don’t need a logo: they need a cohesive brand design that includes a logo. Your brand might START with a logo, but a logo, on its own, cannot carry the weight of everything your visual branding needs to do.
Let me break it down a little bit:
WHAT A LOGO CAN DO FOR YOUR BRAND:
✔️ Create a strong visual memory. A good logo will instantly conjure a memory of your company. The more people see your logo, the more it sticks in their brain.
✔️ Make a good first impression. A professionally designed logo shows you’re a trustworthy brand. You’re investing in your visual identity and you aren’t some fly-by-night operation.
✔️ Attract the right audience. A good logo is very strategic in communicating — without words — to your target audience. It works to signal that what you do is for them.
WHAT A LOGO CANNOT DO FOR YOUR BRAND:
✖️ Tell a story. Your logo is one part of it, but you need a full brand identity to tell the complete story. Think about the Apple logo. It doesn’t tell a story about tech, but it’s still not a bad logo.
✖️ Communicate your values. This will come across in your website copy, tagline, mission, core values, and your consistent actions. One little graphic cannot possibly do all that.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering if you have been guilty of this. There’s no shame at all if you have only invested in a logo for your brand up until now. In fact, it might be a good thing that you now know where to focus your energy as you move forward and grow your business!
If you feel like you do have a full brand identity, it’s important to check in each year and see if that brand identity is still still working for you. You can ask yourself these three questions:
👉🏼 Is this brand identity embodying the highest vision for my business?
👉🏼 Will your brand identity be sustainable for years to come?
👉🏼 Does your brand identity position you as thought leader in your industry?
If you can’t answer “yes” to all of them, it might be time to consider working on a rebrand with a professional designer. I work with people on brand identity refreshes all the time if you have outgrown the overall design or your target audience has shifted.
Do you have questions about logo design or do you want me to take a look at your logo and share my honest thoughts? I would be happy to do that for you! Sending me a DM on Instagram is the best way to reach me these days, or you can email me at email@example.com
Let’s talk about asking for help. This is something I’m *not great* at, but I’ve had to become a lot better at it. I recently navigated a cross-country move by myself as a single mom and let me tell you, I had to reach out and ask for a lot of help during that process. It was immersion therapy!
I don’t know about you, but one of the worst aspects of moving for me is putting furniture back together once you get to your new place. I always go into it with an optimistic spirit, but after 10 minutes of trying to figure out which side is “Side C” or which bolt is the #14 bolt, I’m sweaty and annoyed and ready to give up and just buy inflatable furniture (remember that from the 2000s?)
After landing in San Antonio and attempting to tackle this awful task myself, I finally had to admit that this just isn’t something I am willing to do alone. I had to ask for help… just for my own sanity’s sake! I found someone on TaskRabbit and he took this dreaded task off my plate.
He also ended up helping with a bunch of other little projects that were overwhelming me. I wanted to kick myself for not doing it sooner. Why did I think I had to do it all myself?
I think my problem is I don’t like to “bother” people, especially if it's something I think I should just do myself. I am capable of assembling furniture, so there’s no need to get help.
But I am at a stage in my life where if I can reasonably afford to outsource things that are frustrating or challenging, I am going to do it. It’s just a little bit of kindness I can give myself.
As a designer, I will have clients that come to me sometimes after attempting to DIY their branding and I can tell they’re frustrated. They thought they could handle it, but found it to be so much more than they thought it would be.
✨ This is an act of courage! ✨
It’s not easy to admit that something is over your head or that you just don’t have the time or energy to take it on right now, especially once you’ve already started. It’s tough to bring someone in and at that point and admit that you actually don’t have the situation under control.
But I will tell you that I am always glad when someone does this. I am SO happy to take this task off your plate so you can do whatever it is that you do best and that lights you up and makes you feel excited. Just like the guy who helped me assemble my furniture! He was happy to step in and help because he knew what a relief it was to me that he was there to handle it!
When something feels like it’s stretching me too far, I’ve been working on reaching out to someone who can help or hiring a professional who can give me peace of mind. If design is one of those things for you — even if it’s just branded social media graphics or a quick logo update — I would be SO honored if you reached out to me so I could help you!
Can you relate? Do you find it difficult to ask for help sometimes? Leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any tips or advice for me! Yes, I am asking for help with asking for help! 😂 Seems like the perfect way to end this blog post, don’t you think?
At the time of writing this post, I’m still buried up to my neck in boxes from my recent cross-country move. We moved from Connecticut to San Antonio, Texas and I am having so much fun getting to know the area! I’m mostly looking forward to the fantastic Mexican food.
Our long trek across the 1,900+ miles between our old home and our new home went pretty smoothly. That is, until the very last leg of it (🎶 cue the dramatic music 🎶)
We needed to stop for the night around Little Rock and I thought, “hmmm… maybe this last overnight stay is an opportunity for me to teach my son a little lesson about resilience.”
A few days ago, we had been talking about the differences between hotels and motels, and he had informed me that motels “suck” and he didn’t ever want to stay in one.
I will admit that I’m not a *huge* fan of motels myself, but I have stayed in some nicer ones. But either way, I really wanted to teach Lennon that sometimes it’s okay to go with the second best option. I want him to be okay not having his way all the time, especially if it’s just for a short amount of time. It’s not that big of a deal. We can be resilient.
So, I booked us a room at a Motel 6. I specifically chose this one because I stayed in one in Atlanta that was pretty nice and didn’t have the doors that faced out into the street. Those always creep me out, especially when I’m traveling alone or with my kid.
You can probably guess how this story plays out. We got there and it wasn’t “just okay.” It was pretty bad. The rooms faced the street (nope, nope, nope) and my first impressions of the staff and the neighborhood were not the best. I could see on Lennon’s face that he agreed.
We spent about two minutes in our room before I pulled the plug on the whole operation. I got on my phone and booked us a room at a hotel across town for about $50 more.
I soooo wanted to have this amazing parenting moment, but this just wasn’t going to be the time. On top of that, I ended up losing out on $70 because the room was non-refundable. But you know what? I learned a valuable lesson out of it: a good night’s sleep where I feel safe is worth more than $70 to me.
It’s the same way with anything! Paying a little extra to get what you really want usually ends up being the right choice. I know for my business, every time I’ve tried to scrimp and save, I have regrets. I always wish I would have just saved a little more to get the tool or coach or course I really wanted instead of the cheaper option.
You can always find someone on Fiverr willing to make you a logo on Canva for $5 but trust me, you are going to be able to tell it’s a $5 logo. Always. Saving up for a brand identity package or even a professionally designed logo is always worth it, and it will communicate so much to your potential clients and customers!
I’m curious to hear what would you have done if you were in my shoes at the Motel 6 in Little Rock… would you have toughed it out for the night to teach your kid a lesson? Or would you have bailed like I did? Let me know in the comments!
Another perk of staying in nicer hotels is their beautiful aesthetics! I loved this mural!
People are pretty curious about the various tools I use as a professional designer, and today I want to talk about the most underrated tool I use ALL the time: Pinterest. Are you surprised?
Aside from Affinity Designer, which is my go-to design program, Pinterest is probably the tool I use most often when I’m working on projects for clients. It is just so easy to use when it comes to swapping ideas and inspiration, because everyone basically already knows how to use it.
Whenever I get a new client project, I will set up a new board on my Pinterest account and invite the client to be a contributor. Then, we can both add images to the board that we think align with the vision for the project.
We can leave notes on the pins to communicate and collaborate and I can really get a sense of what they’re envisioning for their project and similarly, they can see my thought process well before I hand over a design draft.
I thought it would be fun to share some screenshots of some of my past projects, along with the Pinterest boards that accompanied them so you can see how I pulled inspiration from them!
As you can see, Pinterest is NOT just for recipes and wedding planning! I think it’s pretty cool that you get to see the progression from idea to final product, and I know my clients like to participate in the ideation process, especially when they get to use a platform they already know and feel comfortable using.
If you’re a designer, do you also use Pinterest like this? Or do you have a different approach for sharing ideas with your clients? I would love to hear what you do and how well it works for you!
Karla is an award-winning designer, branding expert and mentor. She has designed for brands including BRIT+CO, Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, Facebook, and more.