Probably the best thing I did last year.

2017 was our official third year as a business and we learned a lot. A lot, a lot. All that learning gave us a better idea of where we want to take our business this year. Here’s a look at what we are celebrating and what we’re looking to improve in the new year.


The Good

I went part time, and it was probably the best thing I did all year.

I cut back on Mad & Dusty and started working part time at our local yoga studio. Not only did I get a sweet discount on freelance uniform staples (yoga pants, yay), I got to be around people again. (A surprising win for this introvert.) Adding a part time job took a lot of pressure off our business and allowed us both to pursue projects we feel passionate about. I started using my limited time more wisely. And Bonus - I've gained a much better understanding of brick and mortar small business - the struggles, the wins and how design plays a part in that. This is probably the best thing I did for my business last year.

We joined our local network. 

We love our creative group here in town. Small Town Creatives meets monthly at Reformation Brewery. Each month we dive into a creative topic and build relationships. It’s been great connecting with people I see around town all the time. Dusty and I even got to help coordinate a Holiday Pop Up Shop with 20 local makers.

We traveled and enjoyed this business. 

Last year, we took a little trip to Savannah in combination with Plywood Presents. We spent our anniversary in New Mexico. Then Christmas came and we stayed put. I feel like this year more than last, we really took time to enjoy the things that this business allows us to do. Spend time together. Travel. Learn. Year 3! It's been really great. 


The Bad

We did a bad job with bookkeeping. :(

I was so used to checking in once a week and once a month. When our sale tax filing changed from monthly to yearly frequency, I dropped the habit. I was lucky to form a partnership with an excellent bookkeeper. She offers quarterly bookkeeping help. Yes, please. I’ve also got weekly check ins on my schedule again. 

We spread out too wide and lost our focus. We got too narrow and lost a few clients.

Our third year in business was a learning year. (I’ve yet to experience a not learning year.) We had grown too wide. Then we got suuuper narrow and focused into offering only 2-3 project types. It’s a smart business model, and it mostly worked for us. I now realize - I really enjoy it as a starting place with clients, but I need to think of ways to continue working with the great people we've met. (Web check ups, packaging, photography maybe?) 

We had trouble closing projects. 

I know a designer who charges a fee anytime a project runs over. I love this, but I’m a little scared to do it! Eeek! We did implement timeline and project templates, but I still struggle with wrapping up projects. A few of our clients have needed to pause their project midway. Totally cool! But it's been a struggle to get some of those back online and finished. I will be spending some time defining the project close process and what to do if a project needs to be put on hold. (Let me know any suggestions!) Time to refine.

How did your 2017 go? I'd love to hear about it! If you have any suggestions on the above ^, let me know! I'm so glad we get to do this together.


Behind the Scenes: A Styled Shoot for Marie Mae Co

Styled shoots have been one of my favorite projects lately. I love talking through the product and brand story with the client. Finding props, and then making shot lists and story boards - it's this magical combination of planning and treasure hunting.

For this shoot with Marie Mae Co., I teamed up with the lovely Angie Webb. She took care of photos and lighting, which allowed me to be all in when it came to styling. We had 4-5 major "scenes" for this shoot and about 10 products all together. 


We shot the entire session at Ember Hot Yoga in Downtown Woodstock. Amazing natural light and white walls made for photo shoot heaven. 

One under appreciated skill is how to drop things beautifully. I think it's something I learned in art school. Styling photos is so similar to painting - laying out the composition, considering colors - it's all there.

Product photos have to tell the story for customers who are too busy to read your product descriptions (i.e. everyone). Like most visuals, product photos work as the receptionist. Good photography is like a warm welcome to your audience. It should say, "You're in the right place. This is for you."

Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek! You can see the final pieces on this page. If you're interested in a photo shoot for your company, don't hesitate to reach out. Contact us to get a list of current rates in your inbox.


How Do I Know if I've Found the Right Designer?


It is kind of like dating. You don't need to play the field, but you want to make sure it's a good fit.

So, how many designers should you date before you know she/he's the one?!

Our happiest clients have done a little research before hand. They have probably looked into two or three, maybe had a call with another. It doesn't hurt our feelings. We want to make sure that you feel comfortable in your choice!

Personality, over all style, and the technical details are a few good things to think on as you consider your designer.


Would you and your designer enjoy spending time together? Long walks on the beach, anyone?! Ha. But in seriousness - would you look forward to meetings and calls? Do they seem trustworthy and honest? Usually you can answer these questions within the first 10 minutes of a call. Most of our work comes from referrals, so you might have the added bonus of talking with a current/past client. This one is generally not something you have to think through deeply - it's more of an unconscious feeling. You know when you know, you know?


Do you like your prospective designers portfolio? More importantly - would your audience like it? I love when clients come to us with a Pinterest board or collection of images. It helps us establish a visual preference and find some common definitions for words like words like "traditional," "modern," and "classical." You don't want the designer's portfolio to be all over the place, but you also don't want to see 10 pink watercolor logos in a row. You should be looking for a focused "look," with some room for flexibility. 

Budget / Timing

I listed these two last because these are generally the most flexible parts of any project. You want to make sure your budget aligns with the designers rate sheet. As far as timing - it's very common for designers to be booked out into the future by 1 or 2 months. (The onboarding process can take a few weeks in some cases, so the wait time is definitely not wasted.) After talking with you, they will be able to give you a loose timeline and may ask for a deposit to hold your spot.

Oh! Bonus: One question I love to hear from prospective clients - "What sort of personal projects are you working on?" I love it for 2 reasons. Number 1 - I love sharing about my product line and daily sketches. Number 2 - When you hear about someone's personal projects, you see where their head is at and the direction they are leaning in. If that aligns with your business, you know you're in for some fun. I think we've had a soft spot for makers lately because Dusty and I are both working through the challenges of launching our own products.

This is one of those rare areas in life where you get to pick who you work with. Have fun with it! Don't be afraid to date a few designers before deciding they are the one. 

If you'd like to check out our rate sheet and learn a little bit more about our process, head to the contact page and drop us a line! Can't wait to here from you!