It’s the middle of August and I’m happy to report that I am back home in San Antonio after a multi-week trip to Mexico. Lennon is back in school — I'm still in total disbelief that he's in 5th grade already — and I'm back to my normal(ish) routine. Most importantly, I’m back to sleeping in my own bed which, if you know me, you know how much this means to me. 😁
I know I say this a lot in my blog posts, but I am SO grateful to “be my own boss” because I could never have spent six weeks in Mexico while working an agency or corporate job. Even if I had the option to work remotely, I couldn’t have enjoyed this special time the way I did. 💗
I love that I can flex my hours (or even my days) as needed when traveling. As long as I deliver the work to my clients, I'm good to go. 😎
It took me years to get to this place and being able to make it this far lead me to create my course so I could share with others how they can have this work and life freedom by learning brand design (you can learn more about my course here).
I say it took me years because my path to business ownership was much more of a squiggly line than a straight one. 😅 And you know what? I’m still learning!
I didn’t go to college for business. I went for graphic design. So, I had to figure all of the other stuff out through trial and error and lots and lots (and lots) of life lessons. For example:
💿 Selling illegally burned CDs to friends and classmates in college gave me a good introduction to sales.
📞 My receptionist job at my university taught me how to talk to people without becoming a ball of anxiety.
⚖️ My son, Lennon, taught me about the power of negotiation — a blessing and a curse, to be honest!
I guess my point is that if you pay attention, the little things in life can teach you a lot about running a business. And everything else is “figureoutable.”
I hope this summer has been transformative for you and your business, too! And of course, if you’ve decided to change your offers, work with a new target market, or you’ve just been reimagining your business as a whole, I’d be ✨ thrilled ✨ to help you with a rebrand!
Recently, I got the chance to help Holistic Business & Life Coach Joanna Shipley with a rebrand and we both LOVED how it turned out. Your business should always grow and evolve with you. It helps build authority and trust and it helps the right people to find you!
I have two spots left for September, so reach out to me if you want to claim one and get some fresh new branding assets in time for fall, AKA pumpkin spice season. 😄🍂
Hello from Mexico! I’m writing this blog post from my hometown of Torreon, Mexico where Lennon and I are spending time with my mom. Summer is the perfect time to slow things down a little bit and make some new memories with family and old friends. And of course, we’ve been making the most of our proximity to the best foods in the world.
Anyway, that’s not the purpose of this post, but I wanted to share a little life update before I dive into what I really want to talk about… logos! 😊
I recently shared the completed brand identity design we did for The Financial Gals over on my Instagram page (still one of my favorite projects! 💛) and shortly after I shared it, I received a DM from someone wondering why we created multiple logos instead of just one.
THIS 👏🏼 IS 👏🏼 SUCH 👏🏼 A 👏🏼 GREAT 👏🏼 QUESTION 👏🏼
Okay, so here’s the deal. Every brand needs more than one version of their logo in order for it to be flexible and suit a variety of different touchpoints.
Having multiple versions of your logo enables you to create a cohesive “on-brand” look while adding depth and personality. For example, you could use the primary logo on your website’s header, but then use the logo mark version for your Instagram profile pic.
Let’s look at another brand identity design we did for Pure Sage and I’ll show you what I mean! On the top of her website, she uses her primary logo:
Then, on her stickers, she uses her stacked logotype:
For her Instagram profile photo, she uses a sub-mark version of her logo (which is essentially a very stripped-down version of the full logo):
Do you see how it all works cohesively to create a more elevated experience? 😍 It might not seem like a big deal, but this kind of intentional branding signals to potential customers and clients that you’re taking your business seriously and that builds a lot of trust.
Oh, and by the way, I think you should give Pure Sage a follow on Instagram — not only is it great to support sustainable brands, it’s also great to support women-owned businesses! 🌿
I love when people ask me questions about brand design! If you’re curious about the process or there’s something you’ve always wanted to know more about, don’t be afraid to ask. And of course, if you want to discuss a brand design identity for your business, I would be thrilled to work with you! Just reach out to me via my contact page to get started!
I’m not where I thought I would be by now. 🥴 We’re halfway through the year and I thought I would have accomplished so much more at this point… both personally and professionally!
It’s funny because Lennon went on vacation last week with his dad and I thought I would get SO much done while he was gone. But instead of productivity, my mind and body needed rest. So I “procrastinated” which I later re-labeled it to “rested”. And I tried not to feel too bad about all the time I could have spent working on things.
Prioritizing rest hasn’t always come easy, but I’m making progress. I blame it on my mom (but please don't tell her! 🙊). She always had something for us to do around the house (specially on Saturdays). If she would found me or my siblings doing nothing, you bet she'll find us something to do. 🙈
Going back to not having met my 6-month goals… I recently did some reflecting on the first half of the year and wrote down six of my biggest accomplishments, one for each month that has gone by:
1️⃣ I was named one of Graphic Design USA magazine’s “People to Watch in 2023” (pinch me!!!) 👀
I tend to be somewhat forgetful and my love for taking TONS of photos on my phone (I have 120,627 photos in my “Recent” album! 🙈) comes in handy when I feel like I’m not doing enough or showing up enough for myself or my son. Although, maybe I don't need 15 photo takes of my cats sleeping or 5 photos of my tacos to help me go back to “memory lane.” 😅
Making this list with the help of my camera roll and my love for oversharing on Instagram has helped me see the progress I’ve made. 💗
So, what are my goals for the second half of the year? Personally, I want to spend a month back home to spend time with my mom and have Lennon attend summer camp in my hometown in Mexico (Torreón, Coahuila). We leave starting next month! Professionally, I want to do more with the education side of my business. I’ve let that fall off my priority list and I have so much that I can teach aspiring designers. Plus, it’s really fun and fulfilling! 🤓
Comment below one professional or personal accomplishment that you’re celebrating so I can celebrate with you! 🤗
My son Lennon has been getting into day trading lately. If you’re thinking to yourself, “wait… I thought he was like, ten years old?” you are correct. He’s not old enough to be handling stocks and bonds quite yet. But he’s been really into trading snacks and candy at school.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Jolly Ranchers are a valuable commodity. So are mints (they are very rare, I guess). In fact, he told me that he’s been trading mints for cookies which just seems crazy to me, but what do I know? Nothing, apparently! 😆
Last week, he came from school bragging that he traded a mint for one of those packaged chocolate croissants! Those are one of my favorite treats, so I asked (very nicely, of course) if he thought he could get one for me, too. The next day, he traded another mint for a croissant and he brought it home for me to enjoy. What a total sweetheart! 💗
Kids don’t tend to overthink when they’re asking for what they want. I think we can really learn something from them… and I’m mostly speaking about myself when I say that.
After several years as a business owner, I still struggle so much with putting myself out there and asking for what I want. I avoid asking for the sale because I don’t want to “bother” people or come across as pushy.
But look what happened to Lennon when he asked for what he wanted. He had no hesitation about asking for a croissant in exchange for a tiny little mint. And clearly, that strategy worked!
I know we hear it all the time, but you really never know until you ask. How do we know there aren’t a bunch of mint-lovers on the other side of the screen just hoping that I’ll offer it in exchange for their croissant? How do I know unless I ask?
Sharing my work is another area where I’m working on building my confidence. I know my clients love what I do, and I always get such amazing feedback from them. But it feels like a whole different thing to put my work on Instagram for everyone to see and respond to.
Do you have any advice for getting past the FODT (fear of day trading) or any encouraging words to share? I love when I get comments on my blog posts, so please feel free to share your thoughts with me down below!
I saw a SUPER cute Instagram post a while back from someone who broke down their career in terms of cat lives. 😸 As a crazy cat lady, I loved this and I started thinking about the “nine lives” of my own career. I quickly realized that my career has had way more than nine lives already!
Here’s the not-so-straight timeline of my life (so far) that have shaped my career:
2000 - I started my first “business” selling illegally burned CDs. Not the most glamorous, but it gave me enough money to fuel my shopping habit in high school!
2007 - I graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in Graphic Design. During college, I worked as a front desk assistant at my university, which taught me how to be less awkward when talking to people – a skill that still benefits me to this day!
2008 - I moved to Knoxville TN, to get "a couple of years of experience” at a media company called Scripps Networks Interactive, which is the parent company of channels like HGTV, Food Network, and the Travel Channel.
2009 - I started an Etsy shop out of part necessity and part creative freedom. I enjoyed playing shop and learning about online selling and customer service.
2018 - Whoops! A “couple of years” turned into a decade working at Scripps because honestly, it was the most amazing corporate job. Unfortunately, I was laid off after Discovery acquired the company.
2019 - After the layoff, we moved to Connecticut and I started working at a small agency. I also served on the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) board. I was trying to get my footing back after being laid off but after just a year, I was laid off (again!) due to COVID.
2020 - Feeling defeated, I decided to go back to my hometown in Mexico to quarantine with my parents. Sadly, my dad passed away two months after I arrived. I feel so fortunate that I got the gift of spending that precious time with him.
2021 - I started interviewing for design jobs again, but I just couldn't do it. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of being in the corporate world after having location and time freedom. This was the year I committed to going full-time on my own… and I made $100k in my first year!
2022 - This was my second full year of being self-employed! I grew so much this year and learned SO much about business thanks to some incredible courses and mentors I invested in. I grew my business by 50% and I felt more secure in myself and my skills.
2023 - Here we are in my third year in business. I’m continuing to invest in myself and my business and I’m so excited for the future! This was the year I also decided to build out a mentorship side to my business so I could share what I know about brand design with others!
If you’ve been curious about my career or curious about what owning your own business can look like, I hope it’s helpful to see my squiggly career path. It was fun for me to take a look back and actually see the progression of my career laid out like this!
Over the past 23 years, I’ve had a lot of different jobs and there’s been a lot of personal and professional growth, although sometimes when I was in the thick of it, I didn’t always feel like I was growing (or growing fast enough). But looking back on it now, I feel so proud. I found a career that makes me feel successful and gives me the freedom to live life on my own terms.
So, as you can see, my career has had WAY more than nine lives, but I finally feel like I’ve hit my stride. 😺 And this year, my hard work was validated when I was chosen as one of the “People To Watch in 2023” by GDUSA magazine. I shared my feelings in this post if you’re curious to read them!
I’d love to know what your first “career” was. Can you top my illegal CD burning business? Leave a comment below and let me know the very first thing you did to make money!
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.