I blame the Patagonia Kids catalog Jeremy dropped in front of my face as I was sipping on coffee between bites of the the oatmeal (with raisins, peanut butter & cinnamon) he just cooked for me. Without warning and any restraint I found myself flipping through the pages and losing my shit over all the cute kids out and about on Wintery adventures. And the little down onesies? Forgetaboutit.
I closed the catalog - looked Jeremy in the eyes and very seriously said "I'm ready to start a family."
"Really?" Jeremy says.
"No. Not really. I just wanted to practice what that sounded like out loud."
The truth is I'm not ready. Not yet. I could be perfectly happy just the two of us forever. But sometimes I can't help but imagine sipping on coffee while Jeremy cooks an oatmeal breakfast for a little family of three. Followed by bundling a little beeb up for a Wintery adventure of our own. And when I let my mind wander like this I become just a little more baby crazy. I become just a little more ready. Maybe.
My business, Braid Creative & Consulting, has been officially in business for a month now. I'm going to write more about what September has looked like over on the Braid Blog later this week but for now I wanted to address a couple of frequently asked questions about my new business over here.
1. Lots of you have been asking me "What about And Kathleen?"
2. And a few of you have sheepishly asked "What exactly is a brand?"
Well, first off, I haven't been designing wedding invitations for months now - which made up about 50% of my work flow. I owe you an in-depth post on why I quit working with brides but for now I can tell you a huge part of it was that I wanted to focus on branding small businesses.
Well, then Braid came along - The Braid Method that Tara and I developed is pretty extensive as far as how we work to uncover a brand for big companies - so I kind of figured my smaller And Kathleen projects would just fizzle out. But what I found is that my readers and customers aren't going anywhere - you all upped your game to match my elevated services. And it's not just about your logo anymore - it's about your story - and how you tell it. This is branding.
At this point a lot of you might be wondering exactly what a brand is. You might hear Kim Kardashian's mom and Paris Hilton talking about their brand and not really know what that means. Basically, a brand is what people see but also what they understand. You should be proud to hand out your business card or display your logo on your door or website. Likewise, you should be able to tell someone in just one or two sentences exactly what it is your business does and stands for.
So, The Brand Starter Kit (developed with lots of help from my business partner, Tara) is my answer to integrating what I was passionate about with And Kathleen into what I'm doing now over at Braid. It's my solution to not only designing a logo & identity for microbusinesses and/or artistpreneurs but to also at the same time uncover that authentic brand story too. If The Brand Starter Kit is something you're interested in please feel free to email me at Kathleen@braidcreative.com - I will be happy to send you more information about it.
And if you're a freelancer / designer who is working on branding projects for your own clients feel free to use some ideas posted over at Braid to help uncover your own clients' brand story. If you're not following my posts over at Braid feel free to subscribe now - here's a link.
• The Freelance Matters series
• Brand Identities (designed by me)
My friends always seem shocked when I tell them I can count on two fingers the amount of times I've been to the Great State Fair of Oklahoma. When I was a kid I would hear rumors about "The Fair" - especially the seedy goings-on on "The Midway". "The Midway" was where the lights would shine bright, teenagers with homemade tattoos would have their hands casually slipped in each others' back pockets and don't you dare look a carnie in the eye.
So, this year when my friend Ashley invited me to go to the fair with her I was up for the adventure. Ashley was the perfect person to go to the fair with. With grace, she moved from the $3 corn dog to jalapeno cheddar poppers to an Indian taco drowned in hot sauce and topped it all off with a 32 oz. jug of root beer. And not once did she threaten to puke. She guided me from the agtropolis building (where we admired goats and butterflies) to the agriculture building (where we said hello to huge horses and baby pigs) to the car building (where I watched men gaze at cars with transparent lust thinly veiled in a I'm-too-cool-for-this-car-anyway demeanor) and finally to The Midway.
Somehow, in the middle of the commotion everything fell silent - just like a scene in a movie. It was just me, flashing lights and the smell of fried food. In the middle of thousands of people I unexpectedly stumbled upon a moment zen. I even made eye contact with a carnie and didn't lose my soul.
• Jeremy was in Boston. I missed my big spoon.
• I slept in every morning until 7.
• I started practicing meditation for 15 minutes every morning.
• I went to the State Fair with friends.
• I took more photos.
• I had a gallery opening - with all my work on 27 boards. I felt so special.
• I started my guest teaching stint at a University here. I have so much compassion for design students - it's not easy.
• I laughed about my two design crushes (Stefan Sagmeister & Nicholas Felton) with the teacher - who's hung out with both of them. She told me they couldn't be more opposite.
• I had dinner with some of my favorite ladies.
• I now have a publicist and a life coach. It's pretty rad - I'm excited about both.
• I worked out - even though I really didn't want to.
• I got a cool ampersand photo in my email from a blog reader - I love how often this happens and I love that you guys think of me when you see ampersands.
• I checked out some office space for Braid.
• I'm going to an all-day meditation thing. I'm learning to be still. Do any of you meditate?
• I would like to watch at least one documentary. I've made a new friend who practically makes it her job to watch documentaries that stream on Netflix and she always has new suggestions.
• Maybe rock climbing?
• Sleeping, cuddles and not making my own coffee.
How was your week? What are you up to this weekend?
Photo by Debbie Cramer - thanks again, Debbie!
A bee is never as busy as it seems; it's just that it can't buzz any slower.
- Kin Hubbard
Most times, I feel empowered by the fact that I can choose the life I want to live. I imagine a fantastic story in my mind and see it through to fruition. Other times, I frustrate myself with my inability to be still - but like a honeybee - I just can't seem to buzz any slower. If my nature is to buzz forward at all times the important question becomes "What am I moving towards?"
Here is what I'm working for. Here is what I want:
• To see and experience the world through travel. It makes me feel connected on a greater level.
• To spend more time outside. It inspires me.
• To fill my house with music, delicious food, the smell of spice and lots of light and love.
• To become a better photographer and storyteller.
• To help lots of authentic companies and genuine individuals through Braid.
• To be open to giving and receiving.
• Strength and health.
• Friendship and family.
• To recognize the beauty in everything. From the big picture to the tiny details.
• To capture, document, shape and share all of it.
What do you guys want? What are you working for? Please do tell - I really want to know.
I have to have a piece of dark chocolate (like... 85% dark) every single night. In fact, my nickname may or may not be "Chocoslut" around this time of the evening. I pair a few squares with a glass of red wine and feel all sophisticated - like I could be hanging with Gwyneth Paltrow. Except for the fact that I'm singing a made up song about being a "chocoslut" while Jeremy and Mister Boots choreograph a little booty dance to match. But whatever.
So the other night we're out of chocolate and I had a sweet tooth to be dealt with. So I took stock of what we had on hand - peaches and coconut milk. My friend Mel showed me a recipe for whipped "cream" using coconut milk that she concocted for her Paleo cookbook (that I happen to be designing) when I was down in Austin. I thought I'd try it out. I fried up some peaches and whipped some coconut milk into a cream. The peaches were a little hot and melted the "cream" - but you guys - it was delicious. However, "peachslut" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Am I the only one that needs a little bite of something sweet every day?
First it was Angry Birds. Then it was Words With Friends. Now it's Tiny Tower. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when Jeremy starting whooping about finally having enough money to upgrade his elevator. I don't really know what that means and I'm still unsure whether that money was real or not.
• I ate nothing but fruit on Monday
• I worked on a logo / signage for Kendi's new store
• Oh, and Sana's store too
• And in between Braid proposals I worked on Mel's cookbook
• I reassured all of my clients that I'm not going to fire them. I promise.
• I put together 27 boards for a showing of my work at a local university
• I wrote some posts on Pinterest at the Braid blog
• In between all that I fit in some workouts and forced myself to work on push-ups
• I drank lots of tea
• I opened the windows and let some cool air in
• Family time!
• One of my nephews is turning 8!
• We're cooking veggie lasagna for Jeremy's family
• Sleeping in (past 6:45 AM)
• Jeremy's going to work on homework (did I mention he's taking a class for his masters degree in electrical engineering? He is. I'm proud.)
• I'm looking forward to some quality time with my new camera (Mister Scooty Boots has
clearly had enough with modeling)
• Maybe I can convince Jeremy to go rock climbing
• Grocery shopping - I always look forward to stocking my fridge with veggies every week
How has your week been? What are you looking forward to this weekend?
I thought I'd share a recent Braid Creative project with you all, if you're interested. It's a How To Pinterest video. Now, I know probably 100% of my blog readers are already beyond first base and onto making babies with Pinterest but some of our Braid customers and customers-to-be aren't early-adopters / Pinterest sluts like all of you (and me too). So we thought this video would help them get to know Pinterest a little better.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process of creating this How To:
1. I wrote a basic script. And from there edited it down as much as possible so we were only sharing essential information.
2. From there I brainstormed imagery that could accompany the script.
3. We took stills and shot video with the iPhone. We're all about lo-fi tools.
4. I gathered screen shots and designed our imagery.
5. Tara edited these assets together in iMovie. We're thinking about upgrading soon to Adobe Premier or Final Cut - thoughts?
6. We used music written by Jeremy and our friend Colin! It's actually a work-in-progress - but just right as-is for this project.
7. I then did a voice-over - we trimmed the script on the spot and adjusted the length of certain clips as needed. I learned a lot here.
P.S. I'm pinning almost exclusively to my Braid Pinterest boards now. Follow me here.
Firing a client. This is a topic I've been wanting to talk about for a while. As you all know, I love my clients. In fact, I often like to cross boundaries and become BFFs with my clients. But sometimes it's not all puppies and rainbows. Sometimes, as a freelancer, I consider cutting off my pointer finger and faking it as a watermelon accident just so I don't have to work on a certain project. It's usually when a project is in its 20th round of revisions that I feel like I've clearly picked the wrong profession.
My experience with this is somewhat limited but I'm going to share what I know about firing a client.
IT STARTS WITH CHOOSING PROJECTS THAT ARE A GOOD FIT.
The best way to not have to fire a client is to only take on projects that are a good fit.
Here are a few ways I determine a good fit:
• Is the client respectful and enthusiastic about their project?
• Is the client familiar with my work?
• Does the client have a budget?
• Will the end product contribute to my portfolio?
• Overall gut feeling - that's usually my instinct talking
THEN YOU MUST MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR FOR THE CLIENT.
Oftentimes, I am working with clients who have never worked with a designer before so it's important to clearly explain the process. I make expectations clear by providing the following:
• A clear outline of the scope of the project
• A clear timeline of the project - this usually includes action steps the client will need to take in order to keep the project moving (like approval on a design, final content deliver, etc.)
• Final deliverables - what the client will get when the project is complete
• A clear estimate
• A contract (I like to think of it as a prenup) - my contracts state things like I own the source files, any work done after 2 rounds of minor revisions will be billed at an additional hourly rate, cancellation policies, etc.
FIRING A CLIENT.
I never go into a project anticipating it will go south. And 99 times out of 100 it doesn't. And if it starts to go sour I quickly try to remedy the situation - see my post on managing your client for ideas on how to turn things around and make them better.
If I've done everything I can and am seeing no end in sight I will fire a client. This has only happened two (and a half) times since I've been freelancing and while it's never been fun it's always been a huge relief. But I will say this - when I fire a client I always blame myself. It's easy to feel superior and play the blame game when there are sites like Clients From Hell around but I always assume partial responsibility for either A) taking on a client or project that wasn't a good fit or B) failing to properly manage my client. Letting a client go is a decision that takes place in a grey area and is not to be taken lightly.
HOW TO FIRE A CLIENT:
• First, make it clear to your client that you don't think it's working out. I prefer this part of the process to be more casual - like with a phone call. Sometimes you'll discover that the client means well and just didn't know any better. If things don't start looking up from there (and usually they will) you can proceed to the firing.
• You will want to take a clear & objective look at the situation. Clearly state, in a notebook or in text edit, the scope of the project, the fees and deliverables associated and the describe all the steps that got you to the point where you are now. Note where you could have handled things differently and note where it was beyond your control. Be concise. Be objective. Be honest. Pretend like you are a lawyer gathering the facts.
• Then take a look at your emotions. How does this project make you feel? Listen to your instinct and trust it.
• Now the hard part. I prefer divorcing a client via email. I know it's a little impersonal but it's the easiest way for me to stay objective and concise. It also makes for a good paper trail. There is a delicate balance between assuming your part in the project going awry and also having a firm stance on why you can no longer work on this project.
• The money part. This is why it's good to have a solid contract (with a deposit). I always make sure I am monetarily compensated for the amount of work I completed. Make it clear to the client with a final invoice how much they owe you for services rendered.
• Thank the client. Just because a project goes doesn't necessarily mean your client is a bad person.
• Learn from it. The few times I've been in this situation I've learned LOTS about project & client management. Try to never let this situation happen again. Update your contract accordingly.
• Don't Tweet about it. It's tempting to find commiseration via social media but it's not kind or respectful to trash you client on the internet. It only makes you look bad.
Have you all ever had to fire a client? Do you have any more tips on how to go about it?
Other Freelance Matters posts:
• Managing Your Client
• Estimating & Billing
• Project Management
This weekend was everything I wanted it to be. We hung out with my family at the lakehouse and ate trash (my mom makes a homemade Chex mix - but we don't dare call it that - in our family, it's called trash). We had lazy mornings punctuated with sips of coffee. We took afternoon naps on old quilts. I played with my new camera and started looking at some different lenses I may want to invest in. We went rock climbing - I felt a little rusty but was so excited to be back on the wall again. We had pizza and pitchers of Oklahoma beers with friends. And on Sunday we spent all day looking at Eastern European treks - Poland is a front runner right now.
This week I'm going to make goals and create content for Braid, wrap up some branding projects for my And Kathleen clients and start prepping for a class I'm going to be teaching at a local university later this month. I'm busy busy but I'm also going to make a point to take moments to take deep breaths and find inspiration in every moment.
I've been a vegetarian for over half my life now but didn't really eat vegetables until a few years ago. What did I eat? A lot of cheese, bread and brownies. When Jeremy and I started dating he was eating tilapia and broccoli for dinner and lunch - every. single. day. He didn't impose this limited diet on me but he did start making me delicious meals - like vegetarian chili - chock full of veggies.
Eventually, I developed a taste for vegetables - even broccoli - one of my least favorites. Especially when said veggies were smothered in cheese and eggs - like the frittata pictured above. Now, I actually like broccoli - even when it's not getting it on with copious amounts of cheese. So here are two meals I've made over the past couple of weeks featuring broccoli.
a. Broccoli and Corn Frittata
I had to Google this one in order to validate my idea to mix eggs, broccoli & corn together (the only ingredients left in my fridge) and came across this recipe. I followed it and it was delicious. Just a little bit of cheese goes a long way these days.
b. Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli and Mushrooms
I eat very few noodles these days but was in the mood for some pasta. Cutting the spaghetti squash in half was the most difficult part of this meal. After roasting the squash halves for 45 minutes at 400F, I sauteed some onions, garlic and mushrooms (in a little olive oil & Italian spices) - I then added the broccoli to the pan at the last minute to steam it a little. I topped it with a little salt & pepper. It was a simple meal but did the trick.
What's your favorite way to eat broccoli? Any recipes I should try?
The first snapshot from my new camera.
A few months ago I talked about wanting to step it up in the photography department. Capturing life with stills has always been an interest of mine and now video is starting to enter the scene. After almost 3 years of shooting on my little G10 and much deliberation and advice from trusted photographers I have invested in a Canon T3i.
So, now I'll be spending my weekend (and the rest of my life) shooting photos of my favorite cat.
Every time Friday rolls around I feel like I've really deserved my weekend. I've been feeling productive - like a well-oiled machine - but I'm the engine and I need some more gas. But not the kind that makes me fart - just in case that's what you were thinking.
• Client meetings over coffee.
• Reading, reading, reading.
• Rachel Zoe, Flipping Out & True Blood.
• Dinner parties.
• Green tea and red wine.
• Email. Design. Write. Email. Design. Phone call. Write. Email. Design.
• Working out.
• Rock climbing.
• Sleeping in.
• Lazy coffee.
• Researching adventures.
How has your week been? What are you looking forward to this weekend?
This weekend we broke 61 days of 100+ heat. I welcomed the crisp mornings with open arms but was shocked to find the cooler weather left me feeling a little uneasy, a little anxious. Maybe I'm still young enough that with Fall comes the anticipation of a new school year. New curriculum. New friends. New firsts.
Cut-offs - Paper, Denim & Cloth
Tank - Urban Outfitters
Sequin Bolero - F21
Boots - Justin c/o Langston's Western Wear
Belt - Target
Liz is selling her home. For $95,000.*
Remember when her house was on SFGirlbyBay and you all were all "OH! Her house is my DREAM HOME!" Well. Now it really can be. Liz moved to North Carolina last year and has been hanging on to the property justincase. But it's looking like she's settling down in Durham with no plans to move back. This is me shedding a single tear. See the details here.
*For those of you wondering why I live in Oklahoma and how I can afford to buy rental property - this is why. The cost of living here is dirt cheap. And it really is a pretty great place to call home.
A few of you were curious about the airstream drawing in this post. So it only makes sense that, with your curiousity combined with my big news from yesterday I share a project I've been working on over at Braid. Tara and I recently went down to Austin, TX to meet up with Paige and Ryan to help them brand their new business - a juice truck! We used our iPhones with some lo-fi editing to make a little video to document our experience. Watch it and you'll get to see a little more BABY COW! action.
We're looking forward to making more branding adventure videos soon. Maybe we'll even upgrade our cameras from the iPhone - I'm looking at a Canon 5D or 7D or an even more economical T3i. Any thoughts?
P.S. Thank you all so much for your support yesterday. It was a very good day.
Braid Creative & Consulting. This is my new business.
This story starts 7 years ago. I had just graduated college and landed a job working at an alternative weekly newspaper. It was pretty much the best job ever - but what I wanted in my heart of hearts was to work with my sister, Tara. Tara was a creative director at a small (and really rad) advertising agency. I knew it was a matter of when, not if, that we would be working side-by-side. And in 2005 she asked me to be her art director.
At first we were kind of freaked out and insecure about the whole sister / nepotism thing. We kept the family matter hush-hush and laughed it off when people would comment on how identical our voices were. Or how freakish it was that we had the exact same mannerisms and would say the same thing at the same time. Over time we would start telling new hires and established clients that we were sisters. And they always LOVED it. They thought it was special. It was. It is. And you guys - we rocked it. Together we were a creative force to be reckoned with.
And then things got hard and tricky. We were feeling different kinds of growing pains at the same time and while I'm admittedly a jump-ship kind of girl, Tara is more of a hold-down-the-fort kind of gal. So after five years of side-by-side designing, directing, producing, branding, writing and deep-sighing, I decided to leave my dream job as a senior art director to dive into full-time freelance. I was leaving advertising but I was also leaving Tara.
A lot of you have been with me since then. Over the past year my passion for writing and sharing my freelance experience has almost eclipsed my passion for being a designer. Helping small businesses get off the ground with a new brand sets me on fire. And telling you all my story on a daily basis keeps me going (thank you - a million times - thank you). But freelancing didn't come without struggle. I often felt isolated and overwhelmed - and everytime I would share these feelings with Jeremy he would say "You miss your sister."
I did. I missed my sister. But in my heart of hearts I knew it was only a matter of when, not if, that we would be designing, writing, branding, directing, producing, concepting, jet-setting and deep-sighing side-by-side again.
That when is today.
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- Baby Crazy. Maybe.
- Branding Matters
- State Fair Zen
- The thing about Oklahoma is...
- Week / End
- A busy bee.
- Peaches and Cream.
- Tiny Tower: A Photo Essay
- Week / End
- I want to make babies with Pinterest.
- Freelance Matters | How To Fire A Client
- From the Weekend.
- New Camera.
- Week. End.
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Boots, Bangs and Sequins
- Liz's House: For Sale
- Branding Adventures
- Meet Braid
- ▼ September (19)
- ► 2010 (387)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings