1. January 22, 2015
    when to hire a designer for branding

    The right time to hire a designer for branding | PINEGATE ROAD

    I recently received an email from a passionate lady starting off on a new event planning business. She was wondering how important it was to go into this process with a truly solidified brand she was proud of. Like so many other creatives venturing off onto new business quests this year, branding is sure to come up as a ‘should I? / shouldn’t I?’ situation. When there are so many costs to consider, the thought of spending a significant amount of your budget on branding right at the beginning deserves a little thinking over. As a designer and a lover of a great brand identity, when I started my own freelance journey I would have told you that it was an absolute necessity. After working with creative entrepreneurs over the past couple years, and seeing the various sides of where their business were at when they decided to take on a new brand identity, I have completely flip flopped.

    So…if you’re a new business with a small budget looking to brand yourself, my best advice would be to WAIT! Crazy, huh?

    The time with the most changes for any business will be in those first couple of years. Your goals might change, your vision might change, and most importantly, the values of your business might change as you go about figuring things out. As a designer who builds brands around values, having those change as your business is growing is a definite sign that you will need a completely new identity design when you work out the kinks and start moving on. Some of my most successful clients and branding projects have come from working with creative entrepreneurs who took the time to work on growing their businesses with an identity that got them by until they reached the point where they really knew their voice and values as a brand. This is essential. It can make months, or years, but it often comes with the feeling that you have the background knowledge and confidence to move forward, but knowing that you need to step it up visually for your brand to come together to reach your full potential. Now’s the time.

    From here, you’ll be able to work with your designer to build a brand that will last you five to ten years before you need a little refresh — not a complete overhaul. That is always my goal when working with my clients, and I try and base design decisions around timeless elements that can grow with the brand rather than something that shows its age a few years later by using a too-trendy trend. My blog, my terms here, ok? ;)

    So what do you do in the meantime? Hire a student! Go to a college with a reputable graphic design program, and post on their job board. Reach out via craigslist, or ask your college friend’s niece who is taking that course in typography. You will get an identity that will do you fine for the time being, and you will be supporting someone who would love to have some real-life experience to build up their resume and portfolio. You could also look to Etsy and search pre-made brands that could also get you by for the time being. These are often-times designs that will give you a nice look and feel, but that lack a true individualism and value-based identity that is true to your brand. Lastly, take a go yourself if you have the right software. Pick colors and values that are true to your vision now, and have at it.

    When is it right to begin a new business with the identity design in place? When you are a mid-sized business or corporation starting a new venture with a new identity, this is the time to begin with a well-designed identity. You most likely have the budget, a business plan, and you’re rearing to make your new business the best it can be right off the bat. Yay, go for it!

    Do any of your have other questions or have any input on this subject? Leave some notes in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you! Have any of you gone through the branding process and wish you did it differently? I’ve totally had my ups and downs when looking back :)

  2. January 21, 2015
    double moodboard kind of day

    moodboard for interior design brand

    Along with the new year inevitably—and thankfully—comes clients rearing to go with big new ideas. This is the second year that I’ve experienced this kind of ‘new year’s surge’ and it’s good to take note of for the years to come. Has anyone else experienced this? Note to self: schedule clients to finish up before the new year, and book new clients in advance to start that week back from the holidays. 

    In the past couple weeks back, we have finalized two moodboards:

    The moodboad above is for a large corporation looking to create an interior design blog to show off the possibilities of their line for our generation. I love it when you see established corporations taking on new ventures like this, and I’m even more in love that they chose me as their partner in crime to make this come to life. The blog is currently under development, and we are working a little bit backwards and are getting to the cohesive brand look now. This was a realization after working through some of the blog elements, that an actual branded look needed to be created for this new subsection of their company. While the traditional route is to work through this before the web portion is done, things don’t always have to go as perfectly in order as you think they do. This project has been teaching me a lot about going with your gut, how client friendship and communication is key, and how awesome it is when you have clients who are as passionate about their undertaking as you are for designing and bringing their vision to life. Can’t wait to share how this all turns out!

    Moodboard for female fitness community

    This next moodboard is for a logo refresh for a fitness coaching community. I’m usually working on bringing a new brand to life, or doing a complete rehaul, so taking the pre-established values and revamping the look is a fun new venture for me. Here, the main colors used on the last brand were purple and green. We decided to warm up the tones, and add some juicy and punchy tones to accompany those two as accents. I’ve already begun some of the refresh, and I can’t wait to show my client and see what she thinks of the new look.

    Happy creating, friends!

  3. January 15, 2015
    a recap and this year

    2014 recap and 2015 intentions for Pinegate Road


    I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I’ve been a huge pile of happy lately. I’m just going to take the moment to share that since I know it’s not always the case. Gratitude and sharing happiness is the first step to getting more of that in your life, right? Even though I’ve been having a terribly hard time jumping into this new year with the same gusto of goals I’ve had in the past, there’s been something slowly brewing in my general attitude over the past month or so. I’ve been giving myself a break, I’ve been living in the moment, and I’ve been taking on new and exciting work that fulfills me creatively. Anyways, babble central over here. How are you guys?

    This yearly transition, from the holidays into the new year has been different. In the past, I’d have had all these goals and reflections that would propel me towards change in the new year, but this year I’m just drawing a blank. And you know what? I’m ok with it. Is anyone else not getting into the crazy goal setting thing this year? At the same time, I’m so pumped for this year. I finally feel like I’m settling into this little life of mine, and it feels good. I’m excited to have the foundation down, and to grow into healthier habits and do some personal growth. I don’t have specifics on these, but I can feel that awesome things will be happening.

    Oh, and I’ve been reading The Slight Edge — and it’s flipping my world upside down, in the greatest way. It’s amazing how a little positive decision making on even the simplest of things can change your perspective. Highly recommended for anyone with a go-getter spirit that’s feeling a little wishy-washy this January.

    Now for a little recap on my 2014:

    This was my year of settling in. I had big goals for myself to edit in all the areas of my life, and while some of that might have happened, I spent a lot of the year transitioning from ‘student’ Kelsey to ‘real life adult’ Kelsey. It was good. And bad. But mostly really great.

    Good, because I met Todd, I got Eaton, and I took on new clients and projects at work that really helped me grow professionally. I opened my print shop, which I had in my back pocket for two years running. Bad, because I celebrated a lot of the good with eating and have packed on more than a couple happy pounds. Like, way more than a couple. I let my work take over my health, and when I don’t move my body I subsequently get pretty darn sad for no reason at all. Not good. This year was mostly great because overall, I think this has been the happiest year of my life. No huge life complications, great friendships made, and lots of new experiences. I could really feel myself growing into more of who I want to be, and that is always a great thing.

    As traveling is always a priority in my life, here’s a list for my records:

    • March — Omaha, NE to style and shoot photographs for The Object Enthusiast

    • April — Dallas, TX for the Pursue workshop

    • May — Findley Lake, NY for a family weekend with my mom’s cousin’s family and Todd

    • July — Home, to Erie, PA for the 4th of July weekend

    • July — Chicago, IL to visit my grandparents

    • August — Toledo, OH for my very first German dancing event

    • October — Danville, OH for a cabin weekend to celebrate Todd’s birthday

    • November — Back to Omaha, NE but for a friend’s wedding

    • November — Draper, SD for Thanksgiving at the farm

    • December — Ft. Lauderdale, FL to meet Todd’s parents

    See, so much great fun happening! Lots to be thankful for.

    As I transition into this next year, I generally want to continue my trend towards mindfulness and general self-improvement. I want to keep practicing joy in the present moment, and making small positive decisions that will add up to a happy and well-lived life. There’s too much great to dwell in the negative, and I want to make decisions that reflect that mindset over the years to come.

    Cheers to a happy and healthy 2015 everyone!

  4. December 9, 2014
    IN REVIEW | october + november 2014

     in review | october and november 2014

    Hello friends! Happy almost Christmas. Am I the only one who doesn’t feel it yet? This is the first year that I just haven’t seem to catch on to the full Christmas spirit. Gah. I have my radio set to Christmas music on my drive to and from work, and I’ve even made my list of gifts and purchased half! Maybe I need a good Saturday spent baking cookies, a night of holiday movies, and at least a strand of lights up. Last year my garland didn’t come down to April, which I felt all sorts of lazy about. With the launch of the Pinegate Road Shop, my apartment is in no state to be decorated. I’ll be heading to Florida on the 19th, and then will head straight to Pennsylvania for Christmas with my family. Hoping those vibes set in before then!

    October and November were very productive months for me! I spent a lot of time getting prepped for the shop, and I feel like I generally got back on track with freelance after my computer was down for a month. I went to South Dakota for Thanksgiving, and my entire Dad’s side of the family came in too. We spent three days hunting, driving around the farm, and catching up on all that is new in our lives. My entire family is so spread out across the country so it’s pretty rare that we are all together in one place for an extended amount of time. This was the perfect amount of relaxation and family time that I was craving. In October, my very first designs have begun to pop up at Target — there was definitely an ugly cry on the drive home one day. I sit at my desk every day, designing, planning, making fun things, and then it’s entirely something else to see what you have worked on finally show up in stores after over a year of last seeing the product. This is the biggest design-girl moment I’ve ever had! Yay October!

    I know this is a review post, but seeing as how that’s about all I’ve been able to manage the past six months or so, this has me wanting to share what I’ve been thinking about the new year. This past year I set a goal to edit in most areas of my life. I don’t know if I’d say that I failed, but I don’t think that I lived up to the expectations that I set for myself (story of my life, hah!). This whole year I spent my spare time jumping from one project to the next, one activity to the other, and I feel like I lost a little bit of the reflection time that really helped me get through the year before. I’m realizing I need to take a step back and look at my whole picture and figure out where to move from there. In a weird way, this next year I want to be a selfish year. I want to take ‘me’ time, and set a good foundation for my future. So much of the past couple years have been just working on the next best thing to get me to where I’m standing right now. I’m so thankful for where I’m at, and I don’t want to crumble under my need to keep chasing the next big thing.

    While I don’t have any outcomes that I’m hoping for in particular, I have three big things that I’ll be working on early this next year that I hope can help my foundation-building.

    ONE: Over the past few months I have been devouring everything that Jess Lively has been putting out there. I spend all my time lettering listening to The Lively Show, and I’ve been so inspired by what she has to share. She has personally gone through and successfully worked towards changing many of the struggles I feel are still in front of me. She teaches about living an intentional life, and focusing on honing in on your values so that you can apply them to all aspects of your life instead of working towards goals. I’ve struggled my entire life with focusing on goals so intently, then achieving them. I’m left feeling the same amount of fulfillment shortly after so I start working towards my next goal. When does it end? Where I’m I trying to go? Achieving is not making me any happier, and it’s making me a whole lot more stressed than I think anyone should feel by supposedly chasing their happy. I’m hoping to work on this by taking Jess’ course, Life with Intention.

    TWO: As far as my freelance goes, I’ve been feeling pretty scattered! I’m just going to repeat what I’ve said above about jumping from one thing to the next, but I’m hoping to get things a little more organized when it comes to this little side business of mine. I’ll be taking the Be Free Lance course in January, and can’t wait to learn tips and tricks from two of my favorite designers: Bre + Jen.

    THREE: Lastly, I’ll be heading back to Hilton Head for health retreat. I did a ten-day retreat here three years ago, paired with an intense natural health overhaul the couple of months before with Vaughn Integrative. I’ve been SO BAD. And getting into an awesome relationship where I want to have fun and eat and drink and all that jazz all the time hasn’t helped my motivation. If I want to live an awesome life, the foundation of all foundations is my health. I’m hoping that this will propel me back into some better habits that I have lost over the past few years. I’m in the most stable of places that I have been in over the past couple years, and if I don’t make changes now, I don’t know when they will happen. The past few weeks I’ve been making some headway on healthier habits, and I’m hoping that by the time I head south in February I’ll be rearing to go for this week of focus.

    That seems like a lot now that I write it all down, but I’m thinking this is my year for subtle big changes. No moves across the country, no starting new careers, just some time to make big changes in small steps in my somewhat stable life.

    How have you all been doing on last years resolutions — did you make any big life changes that you stuck to? Any plans for this year?

  5. November 25, 2014
    Get your gift swap on


    Just a friendly holiday PSA to chat about one of my favorite new things about the holidays: blogger gift swaps.

    Last year I participated in Ali’s city swap, and was matched up with a lovely lady from Portland. She sent along tasty delights — I’m still enjoying the amazing Seven Smith Teamaker tea she sent along, and dreaming about a certain chocolate. I sent along some locally printed gift enclosure cards, and a tea towel from Mirdinara to my recipient. Here, who you give to and who gives to you are different people. What makes Ali’s swap unique is that the gift you give must be local to where you’re living. Supporting local artisans, making new friends, learning about other cities, win win win. Anyways, this was something I signed up for on a whim, and it turned out to be such a lovely experience that I wanted to give you all a heads up if you wanted to hop on board. The deadline to join is tomorrow, Nov 26th!

    This year, on another whim—holiday time seriously puts me into whim-mode I guess—I signed up for the Goody Goody Gift Swap. The names on the exchangers list were too good to pass up, and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of a different swap this year.

    The deadlines for both swaps are fast approaching, so if you’re wanting to get in to a little extra holiday spirit, hurry up and get yourself signed up.

    Wishing you all safe travels if you’re heading out this week, and lots of love on Thanksgiving. I’ll be heading out west for a Cronkhite family Thanksgiving reunion on the farm. I’m so looking forward to taking a few days to unplug and relax with all of them.

    Pssst: I opened a Pinegate Road Etsy shop, just in time for the holidays! I’m still going to be doing some tweaks, but I wanted to get it up in time for holiday shopping. If you have a creative go-getter on your list, one of these limited edition handmade prints might be a perfect new treasure.

  6. November 13, 2014

    sketchbook series | 1 | PINEGATE ROAD

    I always love a good look in to artists and designers’ sketchbooks. There’s just something about seeing the begginings of a design and seeing how A got to B — and the windy road that lead it there. I did a deep clean of my desk yesterday, and was inspired to share a few unedited sketches from things I have been working on lately. Most of these are just for fun, and it’s in sketches like these that I learn a lot about new forms when lettering. Sometimes I’ll read a quote on a blog post and just have to letter it, and other times I’m practicing new ways to hold my pen and just writing out what day it is. No end goal, just practice and lots of fun.

    Is this something you like to see around here? I’d love to keep sharing lettering sketches if you find it beneficial. I know I always learn more from others when I can see some behind-the-scenes work.

    In other news, I’m heading to Omaha for a wedding this weekend. I’m a little worried that all this snow decided to hit, but glad that Todd will be on the plane with me. I have been traveling by plane alone since I was about 15, so it will be a nice change to have a travel buddy. Hope you all have had a great week, and are doing something fun this weekend!

    Happy fall, cough, winter.

  7. November 6, 2014
    COLOR STUDY | 76


    Have you guys checked out The Citizenry yet? I’m drooling over all the products as well as the lovely brand work that Cassie has done. This color study is featuring the Estrellas rug from their line, and I’m loving the earthy modern colors in this mix.

  8. November 3, 2014
    IN REVIEW | september and october 2014

    September and October in review 2014 | PINEGATE ROAD

    I’m thankful to share that the birthday transition this year was far less emotionally turbulent than the last. Early September I turned 26, and it’s been pretty smooth sailing into this fall. I always get super excited to get back into the swing of things when the weather starts turning, and this year was no exception. The print shop is still on it’s way, and I’ve been working a little more on my health. Let’s say I’ve packed more lunches these past two months than the last year combined, and I’m trying to make healthier choices when they’re available. It’s going along slow, but it’s going and I’m not giving up.

    After this summer of always having plans, it was nice to relax a little bit more these past two months. When my computer was down for a month, that really forced me to take some time to focus on creating in the ways I had available to me, and to just go out and have fun on the weekends. A handful of us went to a friend’s cabin for a weekend to celebrate Todd’s birthday. We hiked, made fires, played card games, and ditched technology. It was amazing. I think I need one of those weekends every month now ;)

    A pretty exciting thing: these past two months have been a dream when heading to retail. I picked up my first lettered design at Target a couple weekends ago, and I could barely believe it. We work over a year in advance, and there is only a small percent of what we create and present to buyers that ends up in stores. These past two months I’ve finally been able to see some of the designs I worked on end up places in real life, and that feeling was just…surreal.

    September and October have also been setting a stage for a lot of self-discovery. I’ve been obsessively listening to The Lively Show, and have been having long creative and faith-based talks with my friend Katie. (Psst: if you’re looking for a great read on infusing your life with creative possibilities, check out her book! It’s full of amazing inspiration and supportive words that definitely helped me out when I was in a tough life spot earlier this year jumping back in to dating and feeling all the feels. I passed it along to my friend Megan, and it inspired her in different but equally amazing ways. Also, she’s been sharing such heartfelt content on her instagram lately, and even has me in on a few of them with some lettering. Go follow her!) I’ve also been stocking my ipad with creative reads, and have been dedicating an hour each night to dive in. It’s been feeling so good to keep inspired, and to keep pushing forward with creative dreams. I can take too much on and get really bogged down sometimes, but living in this creative excitement seriously fuels me. Taking small bits of time to take this stuff in, instead of always saying that I’ll get to it later, has been exactly what I’ve been needing lately.

    And now…who’s ready to get that She & Him Christmas album going on repeat? Too soon? ;)

    Cheers to fall enjoyment!

  9. October 30, 2014
    QUICK TIP | decluttering for your email and desktop

    decluttering for your email and desktop | PINEGATE ROAD

    I don’t know about you, but once in a while I’ll have these ah-ha moments that come to me that are teeny tiny, but complete game-changers when it comes to approaching certain situations. Last fall I took a trip back home for a weekend alone at my parent’s unoccupied house. My goal for that weekend? To get to that etherial zero inbox. I was determined to sort through and reply to each and every one of those emails that were sitting there. After two days of solid inbox sorting, I left home euphoric. I did it!! I was finally the organized human my mom always wanted me to be!

    I can hear her sounding off one of her favorites line right now: If you live in a mess, you think in a mess.

    Thanks mom.

    As I sat down at my computer today, I looked at the little white number taunting me in that little red blob above my email client. It was quickly approaching a number that just made me squirm. My scroll bar was so teeny tiny from the massive amounts of scrolling that had to be done to even reach the end of the page. It was impossible to find anything, and I had a mild panic attack every time I looked at my email. Every time I went to my computer at home to be productive, there was that number. It was sitting there reinforcing ‘how busy I was‘ and how much of a procrastinator I was, and how much I couldn’t handle life. Hah, super lies, but lies that effected my self-confidence none-the-less.

    I had a similar problem a couple of years ago. I was over-whelmed with how cluttered my desktop was as I started really getting in to design work. Does anyone else love-love their screenshots? Then and there, I created a folder called sweeping and inside that I created a folder with that day’s date. I went over to the finder, highlighted every single file, and dragged it over to the dated folder. I had that same sense of euphoria that inbox zero gave me last fall. All my files were still in tact. Since, I’ve had so much more clarity going back to these folders if I ever needed to find something. I generally think about the time that I was using that reference and I have yet to not find what I was looking for. I definitely keep very organized with all of my normal files, but this was just for those extra things that somehow end up there. All the clutter.

    After a year of that little red bubble slowly growing, today I went into my preferences and made a sweeping folder for my email. All the emails are still searchable, the bubble no longer exists, and anything urgent I already have down in my day designer. I am good to go forward with a clear inbox, and a clear mind.

    In less than two minutes instead of a weekend.

    …there comes that euphoria again…


  10. October 21, 2014

    Pinegate Road | print shop process

    After one month with my computer being out of commission, I’m happy to say that I’m back! So strange how weird I felt without it for that long. I’m spending this week getting caught up on projects and emails and getting my technology life back in order.

    You know how for the past couple months I’ve been fighting that perfectionism battle? A pretty cool realization came to me this past week. As I was away from my computer, it actually gave me more time to start the printing process for the shop. This whole shop process has been a little absurd. I don’t really have a plan — I’m acting off sheer gut feelings with this one. God-centered gut feelings I suppose. Just following that happiness thing. Anyways. While I’ve had conversations with my creatively-minded friends about this along the way, each one has told me that I should get this all professionally printed, and call it a day. Make the process easy. That just didn’t feel right. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling that I needed to think a little harder about this, and create a process that felt more sound.

    Over the past five years or so, I’ve been searching for what’s missing in most situations. Throughout all that I do I make a little ‘feels wrong, feels right’ mental checklist. When new opportunities come along, I go back to this and decide on them based on how previous experiences made me feel. Right now, what’s been missing for me most has been making. I sit on the computer all day at work. There is so much screen time. Occasionally I’ll throw some hand-lettering in there, but I’m never spending a day, or hours just working with my hands on a regular basis. Working tangibly has always been in my nature — my second nature. I most often try to bring in tangible objects that I style and then photograph before adding into web design. To me, working with my hands as a basis for creative endeavors just makes sense, even when they themselves are not the end product. Without even noticing it, I started creating this new shop around two processes that were new to me: block printing and hand-stamping. I’m sure I’ve seen videos or had chats with classmates over the years about both of these processes, but this time around I took the urge to physically make and just ran with it. It’s what I was missing, and creatively called to experiment with. No questions asked. As I started the process, I felt myself getting frustrated with how imperfect each of the prints were turning out. Why were they all looking so different from eachother? Why didn’t I keep still enough while stamping this one? Where did that extra splotch of ink come from? As I printed, I started to doubt myself, my ability, and how people would react to something so imperfect. But I kept printing. I figured out certain ways to roll on the ink, ways to press in to the acrylic sheets, how long and where to push into the stamp. In each print, I started to find the beauty in this imperfect process. There was my lesson in perfectionism. I truly believe that with each print I make, the more I start to understand how imperfect occurrences are what makes life special. Unique. Perfect in it’s own way. And that’s what makes these prints special. They are created from my imperfect hands, to yours.

    These prints are each lettered with words that have resonated with me along my creative journey, and are thoughts that I often need reminding of. It’s my hope that they might be able to be a little reminder to find beauty in the differences, and to give you a little jolt of motivation to go forth on your own creative path.

    I’m looking forward to tying up the loose ends and getting this live. Crossing my fingers things are still on track for an early November launch. Until then… 


















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