Primrose of Style Petal

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It has been a while, but I am back with another guest on this series! I have not stopped learning about branding and brand development - there is always something new to learn. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to look at it from as many different angles as possible. So when Primrose from Style Petal agreed to answer these questions I got very excited! 

I have followed Primrose for a while now, and she's proof that consistency is key to building a good brand. I see it in her posts - the style and theme of her pictures, the frequency of her upload, and the aesthetics of her website - love it all. She's one of those accounts that make you go 'ooh and ahh' in awe of her pastel grid. Read more about her story below!

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What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
I've always read blogs, ever since I somehow stumbled across them when I was about 13. Fashion, lifestyle, and beauty always influenced me growing up and reading about them in magazines and blogs, hearing people's stories from across the world really inspired me. I'd had a few blogs growing up, none really serving a purpose, until I read an issue of Elle magazine and decided to start up a new blog, this time with a stronger idea of what I wanted to do. I had Instagram before and that became a little hub and month by month and over the years I just kind of started to create my own little space and brand, eventually earning me an income! Tough work and a lot of hustling but it's amazing!

How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work or yourself, essentially?
It was a strange and unpredicted process, it wasn't something I planned, but rather I began to see it was possible and worked towards it. I had various jobs working alongside my blog and it was only when I moved, I realized I kind of didn't need another job and made the transition into taking my blog full time. It's still very unpredictable, I'm a classic freelance cliche, one minute scraping to afford a sandwich and the next planning a designer splurge (which never materializes, luckily for my bank balance!) I'm not Zoella, I'm not inundated with huge offers everyday, but going out and meeting potential clients, networking, attending events and doing my own outreach have all been hugely beneficial. I'm proactive and try and chase what I can, which means more opportunities may arise.

What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
Blogging is amazing and ever changing, new people are discovering the world of blogging and wanting to create their own spaces, so naturally it's becoming ever popular and we need to fight to keep our integrity and originality. I think even before I went professional, I wanted my social channels and blog to have a consistent theme within them - my brand! I've always designed my logos (which naturally change as I do) and I've been building and designing (and re-designing constantly!) my website over the years. I'm always strategizing what my 'brand' is and it's easy to feel overwhelmed, lost and not sure what direction to go in. It's always going to be a work in progress and change and grow with me, but I guess that's the fun of it!

You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
I don't think I could have done anything different really. For me, blogging doesn't have any shortcuts - you need to figure out what you want to do, enjoy and what your audience enjoys, as well as grow all of that and build it up, which took me a lot of time (and still does!) It's never going to be a finished product for me, so I learn and make little mistakes as I go I guess! Through this I learn what I don't like, what doesn't work and use that to hopefully get better and more refined in myself and brand!

What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
I'd say try and really sit down and get some direction - without this, it's difficult to materialize anything, which is why all my blogs before didn't really work. Ask yourself what you want to get out of it, why you want to do it and how you want others to benefit. Then strategize how you can make this work. It's very easy to just go along with the norm in industries and just emulate that, which is totally what most of us do, just with our own spin on it. The thing that would get you noticed is really coming up with something unique, which you'll be renowned for (I haven't figured this one out yet for me!) But if you have a really innovative idea you're passionate about - go with it and get your creativity flowing! I also think setting up social media to support your business is vital these days - the amount of opportunities I've landed through a simple tweet someone has seen or an insta story is amazing! It's not always the size of your audience, but who it reaches! Enjoy the creative process and value those who support you!

And your personality matters too! Primrose is an absolute babe. She was so sweet and helpful with the project - and I'm sure that played a big role in her journey. No matter how big you are, people do usually prefer working with someone with a good personality. 

Hope this post is helpful - let me know what you think! Have a fab Sunday!

Jess x

Coral Atkinson of Velveteen Babies

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It’s March - can you believe it? Another week rolls around and I still get so excited reading about stories and experiences on branding and brand development - I hope you are too!

This post is a special one because it features supermom Coral Atkinson of Velveteen Babies, whose logo I designed a while back. She was an absolute delight to work with. Velveteen Babies has over 60,000 followers and understandably so - she has a talent for capturing beautiful pictures and putting together an aesthetically pleasing gallery, and her garlands are some of the cutest I’ve seen.

I remember when she first messaged me about creating her logo - she described her business as ‘small’. And when I checked out her Instagram page at the time I remember thinking, ‘No lady! 50k is definitely not small!’ But I guess that just goes to show how humble she is. Keep on reading if you want to find out more about her!

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What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
Velveteen Babies was conceived shortly after the birth of my second child in 2014. I was on a quest to find him monochrome nursery decor and couldn't find anything on the High Street that wasn't twee so I decided to create my own. At the same time I discovered Instagram and started to build a following!

How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work or yourself, essentially?
I believe that being a real person, a mother myself and someone who is honest and supportive of others has helped me grow my business. I have always tried to convey that my business is just me, rather than being 'corporate' or making it sound like Velveteen Babies is a big company. I use both of my social media feeds to achieve this, making sure even my personal feed is 'on brand' too. I use specific filters and color palettes in my feeds and on my website to create instant brand recognition.

What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
It fell into place in a really organic way. I would not choose the same brand name if I could go back, but it's really easy to search online and in Google Search and is recognizable so that actually helps! I'm incredibly visual so I've got a file in my head where all things brand related live! I've got a clear idea of what I want to look like.

You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
I think it is inevitable that copycats will always be a problem, and learning to live with this is the toughest part of owning and living a brand. 
Things have always moved forward very organically, and I think that keeping an open mind is crucial. Fonts and colors are very trend driven so for me, it's keeping the brand identity strong but also moving forward and embracing new trends and being commercially aware.

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What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
Be original!
I cannot stress how important it is to focus on being yourself, make sure no one else is doing what you're doing.
You as an individual are the most important thing about your brand as people invest in you, not just your product.
Even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable, be seen by your target market. Include your hands (or face, or portrait) in an Instagram post, take the time to get to know your followers - spend time looking at their feeds, what they are into, and take a few minutes to interact with them each day.
Don't be aloof, don't be false corporate, don't say 'we' in posts if it is just you.
Create a recognizable visual identity (use a hint of a specific filter on your photography to get a cohesive feed) and look to create a conversation in your posts, you want to get people talking! Ask people for advice and ask questions.

I personally found this really helpful. Often I get stuck and feel so much pressure to make my feed look a certain way because that's what other people are doing, and I forget to do what I think is best for my feed. At the end of the day, it is my feed and it's supposed to represent me and my brand.

Are you enjoying this series so far? Let me know what you think in the comment below - or if you have any suggestions or requests of who you want to read about next, do let me know and hopefully I can make it happen! 

Jess x

Mother's Day Note

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I'm going to keep this short and sweet. This year I'm trying to do something a little different and more thoughtful. I am not the most expressive person, I don't say a lot of words most of the time (I'm working on it!). So writing things out, for me, has always been a way to express my feelings. So I wrote this. This note is a note for my mom. To tell her I appreciate and love her.

As Mother's Day is approaching, I've decided to sell this as a printable note that you can print out in your own home. Here's the link to it - it's in a digital form so you'll have it immediately! No waiting necessary. Slip it in a card, or put it in a frame - you do you! Either way, I hope this print does what it was meant to do - spread love!

Jess x

Jess' Mess Meets Abbey Fusarelli

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Every now and again I check in with reality and think how weird and wonderful it is that the internet has enabled us to connect with people from all over the world. I've also always been in awe of the uniqueness of people's talents and so when I came across this lovely lady I knew I wanted to learn from her - and I did. 

Abbey Fusarelli specializes in pet portrait and is a wildlife artist. I love that. How often do you come across a wildlife artist?! I was intrigued - I knew there was a story there. She is based in Australia and has quite a significant following, so when she answered my message and kindly agreed to do this, I got super excited. Even if you're not an aspiring artist or illustrator I'm 100% sure you will enjoy this piece. I am not a wildlife artist and I can't say that I'm super blessed in the drawing department, but there's so many things that I feel like I can relate with.

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What is your story? What made you want to do what you do?
Animals have always been my muse. I was utterly obsessed with animals growing up. To somewhat express the severity of this... I was that little girl who went to a friend's birthday party, only to spend the whole time playing with her dog and trying to catch their chickens. Yup.
I've always loved drawing, however, growing up I never looked at it more than a hobby as I didn't want to become another 'starving artist' in the world. It was easier to brush it off, but I think deep down I was afraid I'd fail. It wasn't until years after finishing high school and working in the cold and unfulfilling corporate world, I decided to brush the dust off my pencils and try it again.
What prompted me was news which made my heart sink. A friend's much-loved dog had suddenly and tragically passed. I felt my words of sympathy were empty, so I wanted to create a portrait of him. One they could keep forever. Their reaction, disbelief and gratefulness absolutely overwhelmed me and I realized I had to follow this. It was no longer a hobby.

How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work or yourself, essentially?
I honestly had no idea what I was doing at the start. I knew nothing of how to build a business or how to brand myself. The one thing I did know though, was that social media was going to be a great (and free!) way to get my name out there. I started by doing free work to build a small portfolio and create content for my Instagram account. Before I knew it my first official client booked in - all the way from Minnesota in the States (I'm an Aussie, so this was kind of a big deal).
Since then I've been ever learning (books, audiobooks, podcasts are my go-to) to grow and evolve my business. In December 2017 I relaunched my business from solely pet portrait commissions to introduce my interior print range which I am continuing to develop.
I think the biggest thing with starting your own gig is persistence. Don't stop learning. Go with your gut. Trust in your abilities. Believe in yourself. In all honesty, I haven't mastered these yet. I have moments of doubt, but I don't let it stop me. I keep persisting as I know my burning desire to achieve my goals won't go away. 
Don't let your fears stop you from creating something beautiful for yourself.

What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
Within only a month of booking my first real client, I already had a waiting list (short albeit, but a waiting list nonetheless!). It hit me that these were real people connecting with me from all over the world to get a piece of my work, and I needed to get my act together if I wanted to make a good impression! I got myself an ABN (Australian Business Number), a logo, a website (with accompanying professional email) and some business cards.
Once I had these things in order, I felt like I somewhat had myself together. Even though I was still fumbling with what the heck I was doing - on the outside I was totally professional. It gave me some confidence I really needed at the time. It helped me move past the fears I had with shifting from 'this is a hobby' mindset to 'this is a business' mindset.

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You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
Google is your best friend. Don't know how to code your website? Google does. Don't know how to optimize hashtags? Google does. Don't know how to market your product or service? Google does. You get the idea. As I've mentioned, I didn't know anything about business. I never completed any formal training or qualifications. It was all learned by good ol' trial and error and loads of help from Google.
Having my own small business has taught me SO much about myself. It's really stretched me to my breaking points and I've done things I'd have never thought possible (like coding my website - not an easy feat for me!). As far as what would I have done differently? I mean, yeah, maybe looked more into the importance of a mailing list earlier, maybe I could have broken through the fear of releasing my print range earlier? Ultimately though, I don't have any regrets as I know I'm on this journey for the long haul and every set back forces me to grow.

What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
I think getting clear on what kind of brand you want to be/business you want to have is integral. If you can get clear on your purpose and essentially your 'why' - you'll have a much easier time promoting your product/services and reaching your ideal customer.
Don't get caught up in worrying about competitors. If there's someone else doing the same thing - guess what? Your thing will be different. No one is you. You'll offer something else your competitors don't. Whether it's the personable communication, immaculate packaging, or just your unique personality, you have something special to offer that someone else can't.
And as mentioned above, Google everything you don't know. Except when it comes to that weird mark that just showed up on your arm - Dr. Google will conclusively convince you you're dying.

Is there anything else you'd like to share that's related to brand development?
Word of advice from someone who grew up described as a 'perfectionist' - don't try to be perfect. Nothing is perfect and if you keep 'perfecting' an idea/product/service you'll never actually release it! It's a battle but I'm getting better with it myself and just going with the flow in my business and so far, so good.

Yes. I actually can't tell you how much I enjoy this post - and how much I can relate to it. She couldn't have said it better - Google really does help you with literally everything. When I was first hired for a professional gig, I had no idea how much to charge, and yes, you guessed it - Google came to the rescue.

Please do let me know what you think about this series and share this post! If you're not caught up with it here are the links to my previous posts with Danni from Free Fanni Fitness and Belinda Xia.

See you on the next one!

Jess x

Danni Tabor of FreeFanniFitness

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Welcome to the second installment of my brand development series! If you have no clue what I'm talking about, check out my post here to get you up to speed. In an effort to answer questions such as what makes a brand successful, what draws people to a certain brand, how to develop a connection with your customers, etc., I decided to reach out to several influencers, creatives, and small businesses who have successfully developed their brands into real tangible identities. 

When I approached Danni Tabor of FreeFanniFitness to see if she was interested in helping me out with this project, she could not have been more friendly and enthusiastic. But I can't say that I was surprised - her posts on Instagram seem to always have that feel-good effect (check if out for yourself if you don't believe me - click here!). Her approach to fitness and nutrition feels like a breath of fresh air. She knows how to keep it real and fun, so the fact that she has a significant following and an established brand comes as no surprise. But enough of me blabbering, on to the good stuff!

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What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
So, after years of being an actress I realized I didn't enjoy it enough. I had got the qualification to be a personal trainer with the idea that it would fit around acting well, and then, when I realized I didn't LOVE acting as much as I had said or believed I did, I became fully immersed in fitness.
I began working with people one on one and I found a passion and love for this. The connecting and chatting to others. Coaching and encouraging other people's journeys. After a long schlog into loving myself after years of lots of self hate, it became apparent that fitness and nutrition played a huge role into my head and mindset being in a good place. I discovered that I wanted to shout about it and tell the world. I wanted other people, women mainly, to see fitness and eating well as this amazing choice rather than this hell hole society had encouraged to make us feel like we need to be 'fixed' and instead encouraging women to embrace who they are and choose a lifestyle that encourages this rather than fixing anything. I want to remind everyone that we are not broken. I am passionate about this more than I ever knew and that is why I do what I do. I believe in it and want to share and connect and relate and talk about it.

How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work or yourself, essentially?
I think utilizing social media has been massive. The way we are given a space to share our voice. To be ourselves and to engage with others. That is massive. I think a brand should be about 'being you'. My brand represents my message and my message is about being honest with ourselves and finding the joy in our bodies, in our choices, in our lives and I think my brand shows this. I never lie. If I have a bad day, I share it. If I have a good day, I share it. I think brand honesty and connection is the most important thing. If your message reads true and connects to your audience and they believe in 'you' then they believe in your brand. A brand to me is a funny concept as I feel I am just spreading my truth. And that happens to resonate with people. I think that is why, if you love what you do, anyone can create a brand. You are just creating you, in a package that works online essentially.

What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
In 2015 I decided to redo my blog. I had begun a blog in 2012 I think, where I talked about fashion, because that's just what people did and I had always liked writing. But essentially, that wasn't my passion. I liked clothes, but I wasn't passionate about them. After spending 3 months living in L.A, doing the 'acting thing', I began writing about how I felt about that. I wrote about my dreams and life and then my body and how I felt. And I found that this got a response and also that I connected to this truth. SO, I got back from L.A and designed a blog on Squarespace and a logo and became 'Free Fanni'. This then encouraged me to get onto Instagram and begin this part of the journey. It wasn't a business to start. It was a place to document my own journey and hold myself accountable. I still don't see it as a business, but a place where I am just me, but as I say above. I guess that is the 'brand'.
After a while and a few more followers you begin to engage and connect with others. Once you start sharing stories and seeing an impact your 'brand' or yourself has, I guess that's when I felt like this was a business I wanted to pursue. To make money? Of course that's a bonus. But essentially to just reach as many people and help as many people as possible. Having a logo and a website helps, for me, just to give me spaces on the interweb to share and connect with as many people as possible.

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You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I was a little more creative. I'd love to have a more curated feed and possibly a blog space that I designed rather than a Squarespace template. But... that's not me. I'm not perfect. Or groomed. I'm messy. My life is messy. I'm the most unorganized human ever. So I've learned that you do not have to have a perfect brand or a perfect logo or a perfect business. You just need to have an honest one.

What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
I would suggest finding 'their' thing. 'Their' style. Even if it's found on Pinterest. Find what resonates with them. What designs speak to them. What pictures or feed shows who they are. Love what their message is. Live what they speak or write about. Love what their blog looks like or their bio says about them. Keep it real. Keep it 'them' and I think the rest will follow. People will buy into a brand that they feel isn't lying or selling them something fake. I'm sure there are millions of businesses that work of the idea of perfection, but for me, I think honesty and authenticity comes first.

Is there anything else you'd like to share that's related to brand-development?
Worry less about how you look or come across and focus more on the people looking and watching you. What do you want them to know? What message do you need them to hear? What can you do for them? What do you want them to resonate with when they see you, read you, hear you, heart you, follow you? What connection do you want to make with them? It's not about you. Your business is about them. Make people know that. And I think you're good to go!

Takeaway message: authenticity. Branding is about being authentic and finding ways to stand out and be different. Don't lose that factor that makes you uniquely you. 

I'll see you on the next one!

Jess x

Make Things Easy

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Like most people, I feel better if I’m productive. But the first step you need to take to get there i.e. getting off your ass is more often than not the most difficult part.

What I’ve found helpful: make things easy for yourself and make a habit out of what you need to do. It seems obvious but it does help a good deal when you’ve got a routine going. It makes you feel more energetic.

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I’ve been trying to do a few things to get my life a bit more organized, be more productive, and just feel better in general.  Here are some of the things I’m trying to do more and how I trick myself into doing it more:

Sleep better - by reducing screen time before bed —> read instead of watching Youtube videos or going on Instagram.

Be more active - by getting a yoga studio membership (I’ve paid for it, now I have no option but to do it - so now i wake up early every morning to practice yoga. Well, maybe except for weekends.

Be more productive - by making time slots. Do this at this time, do that after you’re done with this, blablabla.

Stress less - by writing down what I have to do. Plan ahead.

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Spend less energy thinking about mundane stuff - by eating more or less the same thing most weekdays. Not that eating is mundane (cooking is! Lol). Maybe this particular example is not for everyone, but it does help save time and I like keeping things simple. Weekends are a different story.

If you make things easy for yourself, and make a routine out of it, you don’t have to go looking for that willpower. I first heard this on a Podcast featuring Gretchen Rubin (who wrote The Happiness Project which I’m reading right now, and yes, it’s a good book).

So there you go. Today’s mantra: make things easy.

 

Jess x

Meet... Belinda Xia

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If you've read my previous post (where I also talk about a branding deal I have for you right now), you will know that I've been slightly obsessed with the concept of branding. I am a total newbie in this industry, I feel like there is so much to learn but it gets overwhelming sometimes and I don't always know where to start. The one thing that I find fascinating is the concept of how to develop a brand, especially since my brand is defined by my work and essentially myself. But how do you get to that stage, where people know what your brand represents, and where they can connect with your brand?

I have been reaching out to some really talented people - designers, bloggers, creatives, and business owners - to ask them what having a brand means to them, and how they have successfully developed their brands and continued to evolve with time. 

Meet Belinda Xia, an Australia-based illustrator who I have been following for a while now. Her work has never failed to inspire me, and on top of that, she's very very humble and sweet. She was extremely gracious when I reached out to her and you can just tell that she's passionate about what she does. In this post, she shares some of her values and what she thinks makes a good brand. Read more about it below!

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What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
I studied Visual Communication and worked as a graphic designer in a corporate environment where I started illustrating on the side as a creative outlet. I'd always loved drawing but never saw how I could make it a viable career. Before long, the illustration work picked up, my contract was ending and I took a leap of faith! The rest is history.

How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work and yourself, essentially?
I suppose it happened almost accidentally. When I first started, illustrating was a side hobby - when commercial work started picking up, I thought about how I wanted to come across to clients and only then started thinking seriously about branding. Being a graphic designer by trade, I was lucky enough to be able to create and control my own designs.
Because my brand is my name, my values and interests are inextricably linked to my business. For example, when I fell pregnant, I wanted to share the baby love and created Downloadable Pregnancy Cards and Baby Shower invitations. And I'm in love with fashion so a lot of my clients and work are fashion/lifestyle based which in turn attracts more of the same.

What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
While studying Visual Communication, we were trained to create logos, business cards, etc. - all the traditional essentials of a 'brand', and I suppose that's stuck with me. Branding made everything more 'real' and it's a mental shift into a more professional realm when you have a schmick business card in your wallet to hand out, and an awesome logo on your website. It lifts the game, and gives you confidence to sell yourself!
And it doesn't stop with stationery. Every time I meet someone during a live event, at a market, even across email - always come across friendly so your brand doesn't become associated with anything negative! How many times have you walked into a shop, had a bad sales assistant and from then on, associated that brand with bad service?

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Belinda's Levis illustration

You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Branding is always something I come back to because I feel it should evolve with you and your business. You see international multi-millionaire companies rebranding all the time with styles, messaging, even logos, so you know it's important to keep refreshing.
Looking back on the branding I've had in the past, I'm proud to see an evolution - with each new style/logo/website, I can see myself progressing. And because branding to me is a work in progress, I may never achieve the 'perfect brand' but as they say, it's all about the journey! So on that note, don't freak out if one day you feel your branding doesn't suit your business anymore - refreshing can be a nice breath of fresh air!

What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
Think about what you want to tell the world! If some random person in Canada/Indonesia/Antarctica came across your website/Instagram/Facebook, what would you want to tell them about yourself/your brand? What message would you want them to pass on to their friends?

Is there anything else you'd like to share that's related to brand development?
Don't underestimate the power of your brand! Sometimes people want to work with you just because you're you!

I hope you have learned something from this - I certainly have! Whatever it is you're doing I think it's always important to stay open-minded and be willing to grow and be adaptable.

Never stop learning!

Jess x

 

Hi!

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I was going through my website analytics and I have to say that it really shocked me when I saw that people were on my website, clicking on things, and doing stuff. I think I was always under the impression that I was the only one who ever spent time on it. 

I wouldn’t say the numbers are impressive, but I don’t really care right now ha ha. It’s quite a nice feeling knowing that your work is being looked at. I don’t care either if it doesn’t always generate positive responses, even though I do hope that my work has helped you in some way. I never really thought about graphic design as something that I would be interested in, but here I am, completely fascinated by it, and wanting to learn more about it. 

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I write a lot because of the nature of my work, and I try to keep it positive - even though you do have those days when all you want to do is scream into the pillow and these positive quotes just feel like a bunch of bullshit and make no sense to you. But it’s quite nice to have this as a habit because, well, you’re still forced to look at it.

I’d like to think that if I do have visitors on my website (which according to my analytics I do…), then I hope they (you!) get something from it, a tinge of positivity every now and then. And if it brings a smile on even just one person’s face (corny much) then I’m a happy bunny.

 

Jess x

You Choose Your Own Adventure

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There is nothing more empowering than knowing that you are in control of your emotions. 

Of your feelings. Of yourself. Of the state that you are in.

The most scared I’ve ever been is when I feel vulnerable and when I lose sight of what’s real and what’s not. 

You choose your own adventure. You live through your pain. You carry it with you but you must never inflict it on other people. You learn to grow to be more compassionate. 

You don’t feel like you can. You try but you keep falling, and you feel like you can’t get up. But you try. And when you fall again, you try to get back up again. Because if you don’t try, then you lose sight of what you’re capable of. Of how much you can offer. You miss your chance to express your gratitude for everything else that’s good. For everything else that’s not going wrong.

You choose your own state of mind. Because if you don’t, you’ll fall victim to what’s happening. It’s not about being powerful. It’s about being empowered. It’s not about being invincible, because you can’t always shield yourself from pain. But you persevere. If it feels like you keep failing, you’re not alone. Because life is about struggle.

You choose your own adventure. You find the power within. And you’ll be ok.

Jess x

Y O U

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This is to celebrate you. 

Your flaws, your strengths, your imperfections, your weird obsessions, your heart, your ability to love, your passion, your power, your creativity, your desire to grow, your authenticity.

This is to celebrate your struggle, and how you far you’ve come.

The amount of times you wanted to give up, but did not.

The amount of times you struggled to get up, but you still got up.

This is to celebrate you.

The power and strength you already have within you.

P.S. This print is now available on my shop!

Jess x

Immediate Action Required

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Things have been a little bit crazy the past few days and my neurosis is slowly but surely creeping up to the surface. I am getting unnecessarily overwhelmed with the amount of things I need to do because my thoughts are all over the place. 

Uni has been so intense as deadlines are coming up and dissertation is rearing its ugly head. And I realized that I am so incredibly lacking in time management skills. But enough of this whole whining thing, right?

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So here’s what I’m planning to do:

1. Make more coffee
It’s good for you. Like, seriously good for your body - polyphenols and all that - they reduce inflammation and this is a real scientific fact, PLUS they actually keep you awake and give you the best buzz. 

2. Wake up earlier
More time —> more things done —> less neurosis. What do we think? I think yes.

3. Set deadlines for myself
Now hopefully these deadlines will push me to get off my ass and start doing things. No more procrastination and no more Netflix (maybe a little, but it’s ok, baby steps).

As the title says… immediate action required. I guess panic and fear can be a good thing - they signal a message that an action needs to be taken. Ok, I hear ya. Will get off my ass now.

Dealing with Rejection

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One of the things I discovered since I started this business is rejection is an essential part of the journey. It’s not just about mastering how to not take no for an answer, its also about knowing how to take no for an answer when move on to the next thing.

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Being rejected sucks. I’ve experienced it plenty of times when asking for work opportunities. It’s hard not to take it personally and not doubt the quality of your work. But while it’s important to keep a regular check on your work, it’s also equally important to remind yourself that you can’t please everybody, i.e. your work is not going to be to everybody’s taste (especially if you’re doing something creative!). Sometimes rejection can even save you from working with someone you probably would not get along with. Or it can even lead you to better things, as cliche as it sounds. And I hate cliches.

But there’s another aspect to it. Rejection filters out who’s really keen from who isn’t. It doesn’t hurt to come back to them and show your persistence and flexibility because really, you have nothing to lose. If they find it annoying then I guess they find it annoying! But since most interactions (i.e the initial stages of job opportunities) these days are done online anyway, you’re probably not going to have to ever see them in real life (or if you have, you won’t have to see them every again!). But seriously, the worst thing that can happen is probably not even that bad. So if you can just conquer that fear and take an action, you’ll find that (1) you’re a lot braver than you thought you were; and (2) you might give yourself new opportunities you didn’t think possible.

I hope you find this helpful!

Jess x

What I've Learned So Far from My Business...

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It’s strange to think that I’ve been doing this for two years now. I think it’s obvious to say that it hasn’t always been so easy. Things do not always go the way I’d like and I find myself wondering from time to time why I’m still doing this. Is it worth it? Is it ever going to be as successful as I’d imagined?

Every now and then though, I get lucky and get blessed with amazing opportunities to work with wonderful people and that keeps me going - not just because of the tangible reward, but because I realize that I have learned a lot from this little venture.

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1. Time management is key
Between uni assignments, reading materials, and this little business, sometimes I find it difficult to stay on top of everything. How do I create content when I'm supposed to be writing a 2500 word essay? It's difficult, but it's doable. I find that I get distracted so easily. I don't pay attention to how much time I waste on YouTube, Netflix, or whatever. When I cut these things out, or at least reduce the amount of time I spend on them, I find that I actually can get more stuff done. Duh.

2. Be consistent and keep creating
A big component in staying relevant is putting out content consistently. This gets difficult as not only do I feel like I don't have time sometimes, but I also get creative block pretty regularly. I think the best thing to do is when you're feeling inspired, create as much as you can. This way you can stock up for those rainy days. In one of her videos Jenn Im from Clothes Encounters brought up an interesting point (I think she got this from someone else!) - creativity is like a muscle and you need to exercise this muscle everyday and even when you're not in the mood or you're not feeling 100% you need to force yourself to do it. Train yourself to create consistently because your body is just a mechanical vessel for your mind.

3. Work smart
We all know that it's important to work hard, but it's more important to work smart. Again, I have fallen prey to this time and time again. I end up feeling burned out without actually getting much done when what I need to do is to be efficient and effective with what I do, and essentially just work smart. Quality over quantity.

4. Do not compare yourself to others
Oh boy. I do this pretty much every single day, multiple times a day. It's exhausting. All I can say is that not only does it make me hate what I do, it also feeds my insecurity. I try to focus on what I like and do what I do. I can't say I've mastered this one quite yet, but I'm aware of it and I'm doing something about it now.

5. Always be eager to learn
As with everything else, there is always something new to learn in this field. At the end of the day, this is about how to constantly better myself so I can produce something my customers enjoy. And I know that I will not be able to do that if I refuse to improve myself and be willing to learn.

6. Be open-minded
This is somewhat similar to the previous point. Sometimes I get really stubborn and without realizing I get stuck in my old, ineffective ways. Whenever I catch myself doing that I remind myself that being adaptable to changes is one of the most important things in life and one way to do that is by being open-minded! 

7. Try something new
Now this is something I've been trying to do more and more. As I said before I do get my fair share of creative block and I end up creating nothing because I feel like I've tried everything and it's not working, or it simply does not feel right. Yes it's good to stay true to your style or business model, but it's equally important to remember that change can be good!

I'm way too familiar with that feeling of being stuck or uninspired so writing this has given me some comfort I guess. I hope you gain something from this post! And if you don't, I hope it was still an entertaining read ;) Until next time!

Jess x

Making Your Space a Home + Giveaway!

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For the longest time I refused to decorate my apartment because I knew that I would probably move to new place in the not-so-distant future and so what was the point?!

Faulty logic! Well at least for me. It worked for a long time but as soon as I started putting up prints and paintings and creating a mood board... well it's safe to say I am now a convert. Despite this newfound love of decorating my space I still have to keep in mind that I am on a budget - what with being a full-time student and having a small business.

One thing that can really amp up your space is a plant. Yup. I went to The Attendant last Sunday in Shoreditch and they had the most beautiful interior - very much industrial-themed with lots of plants everywhere. So the little spontaneous side of me decided that I should go via Columbia Flower Market on my way home to get myself a 'hanging leaves plant' (yeah I have no idea what they're really called). I got it for £6 and it instantly spruced up my apartment! What a bargain (I really did expect it to cost a lot more).

I'm lucky that I actually make prints to earn money so I get to use those to decorate my space, but what I've been doing lately is just ripping pages off of magazines and creating a mood board with them. The challenge is to make it look aesthetically pleasing but that's what makes it fun!

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my decorating process

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I have now expanded my project and my art space. Inspired by so many Instagram photos floating around my explore page, I am now slowly turning my bedroom wall into a massive mood board - a win-win for me. There are so many things I can't be asked to do and one of them is buying frames and hanging them on my wall. I thought, 'masking tape will do'. Most importantly, it costs me nothing.

So now, if you're still reading this and you've been inspired to also decorate your space and make it more homey, I think I can help. I'm doing a giveaway of one of my prints!

Entry requirements:
1. Go to my Instagram
2. Repost my photo (one with details of this giveaway) and tag me
3. Must follow my Instagram

That's it. Simple enough I think. I'll be giving away one of the prints from my latest collection, the one featured in the pictures above, click here for a closer look. 

I hope you're as excited about this as I am! Cannot wait to see your entries!

Jess x

All About Gifting

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It's finally here! My wrapping paper arrived a couple of days ago and I could not be more excited. So to get all the self-plug out of the way, here are the deets...

It's a double-sided A2 wrapping paper with a 'you're the best' lettering on one side and a palm leaf pattern on the other. There. Oh and it happens to match my newly released birthday card which you can check out here. Aaaand if you like the look of the two together, you can get them as a bundle at a special price which you can do here! Ok so now that all the plugging is out of the way we can move on to the ideas part!

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I hope this gives you some ideas if you're thinking of buying someone a special present! There's nothing quite like putting a smile on someone's face.

Jess x

Current Wishlist...

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Currently on the hunt for all of the above.

Autumn is approaching and seeing as I have not bought myself a new coat in a while now I thought maybe now is the time to do that? I'm not so sure how accurate this is though, sometimes my memory fails me in a desperate attempt to talk myself into going shopping. A good black coat will always have a special place in my heart but I thought maybe a camel coat could be a nice addition to my wardrobe. 

As for shoes... I'm obsessed about pointed shoes and kitten heels (and mid heels too). I find them really feminine and elegant. So I am currently looking for pointed shoes with kitten or mid heels that are not too painful to walk in. Any suggestions please send them my way!

Jess x

 

Injecting a little color

I love a bit of color. Not so much when it comes to what I wear (although I have found myself adding a bit of red into my wardrobe), but definitely when it comes to my work (and mostly my viewing pleasure on Instagram) I like to see a pop of pink and all the pastel goodness. So I've been experimenting with that quite a bit... and recently when I was just flipping through an old sketchbook of mine that I had back in high school, I remembered how much I used to love just doodling in between classes, and sometimes in the middle of them. They weren't great sketches, because I suck at drawing. But they were alright, they were fun. I would go on Pinterest to look for inspiration and then I would try to copy the ones that I liked. And again, they weren't the best, but they were good enough for me. 

And it's fun playing with watercolor, doing a bit of painting and drawing here and there. I find it quite therapeutic. You get to zone out just for a bit and absorb yourself in your drawing and just be in the moment. And the colors - they really can cheer up a gloomy day.

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And it's inspired me to incorporate a bit more illustration into my work. Add a pop of pink or yellow or whatever here and there, maybe it'll cheer up your day too! 

Jess x

Wear whatever you want!

Like most girls, I am very much into clothes and put (maybe a bit too much) thought and effort into what I wear. I have always always hated being told what's ok to wear and what's not ok to wear. I know that seems very trivial... but I see this as a way of expressing myself. That might sound like an exaggeration, but I'm not really sure if there are any other ways of saying it without sounding dramatic. Haha!

But all joking aside, I do feel like when I look good, I feel good. And I only feel like I look good when I know that I like what I am wearing. Is that shallow? Maybe. But I don't think there's anything wrong in wanting to look the best you can. It will positively affect your confidence level and that's one step closer to feeling good, feeling like you've got this.

So this post is dedicated to........ anyone who understands what I'm talking about. Anyone who just loves clothes in general (and maybe even has a bit of a shopping problem like I do). 

Let me know your thoughts!

Jess x