Mood Board / Unique Minimalism

In need of some branding design  inspiration? THis beautiful mood board is the perfect balance of classic and modern. Clean, minimal lines meld perfectly with unique handmade touches. The simple black + white color palette is beautifully balanced with pops of bold, modern color. Click through for more branding advice and ideas. learn how Letterform creative can create a custom logo and brand identity for your small business!

This mood board is for a project that I recently wrapped up. The brand makes the sweetest, classically minimal jewelry.  This board is a spot on visualization of the overall brand and the final design. It's the perfect balance of classic and modern. Clean lines meld perfectly with unique handmade touches. The simple black + white palette is beautifully balanced with pops of bold, modern color. 

There is something so satisfying in creating a mood board that perfectly represents a brand.

It's such a fun exercise, and especially enjoyable when you have wonderful brands to work with and clients with great taste. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!

Branding Advice / The Marketing Pieces You should hire a professional to design

SMall business owners have a limited marketing budget, so make sure you have a wise spending strategy! Some marketing collateral is worth outsourcing to a professional designer, while others can easily be designed yourself. Whether you need a postcard, business card, or brochure designed this article gives great tips and ideas to help you allocate your marketing budget wisely. It also covers important printing and website considerations, when allocating your budget. The great visuals throughout  will provide the creative inspiration you need to design your own marketing collateral when needed. Click through to Read more!

If you've hired a designer to do your branding or you’re considering doing so, it’s important to remember that the branding of your business doesn’t end once you receive all of your final files. Once your brand identity is in place, it’s time to start putting it to work.

If you're not able to outsource all of your design tasks, you'll have to prioritize which ones are worth it and which to save money on. To help you determine this, I've outlined a few important things to consider.

One-Time Use vs. Ongoing-Use

One thing to take in to account when considering which design tasks to outsource, is the longevity of the piece in question. Is this going to be an item that will have a one-time use?

For example, a flyer for your upcoming launch party, or a postcard for your Black Friday sale. Obviously those items would only be used for a short period. If your budget is tight then those are ones to design yourself.

On the other hand, if you need a postcard that lists all your services or a flyer that has a schedule of ongoing classes, those are worth investing in. You’ll continually be using that kind of marketing material and it's important that it look professional.

Postcard Design / Letterform Creative 

Low-visibility vs. High-visibility

Another thing to take into consideration is how much visibility you anticipate this marketing piece to receive. If you’re attending a large conference where you expect to network with a lot of potential clients, then a professional-looking business card is a must.

If there’s an item that you don’t expect many people to see, then that may not be worth the investment. For example, I have a PDF of my pricing for wedding stationery. Wedding stationery isn’t the main focus of my business and I don’t end up sending this out to many people. If you have something similar in your business then that’s a good time to save your money and DIY it.

Letterform Creative

Printing Method Considerations

Another thing to take into consideration is the type of printing method you intend to use. If you plan on using a specialty method like letterpress business cards or a gold-foil invitation, then you should have a professional design it. There are a lot of technicalities that go into preparing files for these kinds of printing methods, and the cost to reprint if there are mistakes is very high.

Letterform Creative

Website Considerations

Website design and development are definitely worth outsourcing for many reasons. For one thing, web design is highly technical. Although there are many ways that you can build your own site, there are so many things that can only be customized with coding knowledge.

Your website has the potential to bring new clients in all the time and is always available for anyone to see. It’s very likely the first impression many people will have of your business, which it makes it so worth the investment of a professional designer.

Aside from looking professional, your website also has to be user-friendly, which is knowledge that a good designer will have. If you have to create your own website to start with there's nothing wrong with that, but invest in professional help as soon as you're able.

Letterform Creative

It’s certainly nice to be able to outsource all of your design needs in order to free up your time to do other things, to maintain visual consistency, and to ensure your business always appears professional.

However, if you’re working with a limited budget for design, then follow the above guidelines to make sure you’re using your design dollars wisely.

If you’re currently doing all of your own design and need a little guidance, check out my free Mini Branding Guide!

Mood Board / Soft + Sweet

Mood Soft + Sweet / Letterform Creative

Doesn't this board just make you kind of swoon and want to start wedding planning? Personally I didn't really like wedding planning. It was so much work, but this board is so lovely it kind of makes me forget all of the wedding stress.

It's for the branding and website I recently did for a curated, hand-made wedding market. You can see bits and pieces of the branding in my portfolio, but I'll be sharing more on the blog soon!

Mood Board / Clean + Green

Mood Clean + Green / Letterform Creative

I LOVE this mood board. I knew from the get-go that this client had great taste, which made making this mood board so enjoyable.

There's something so refreshing, yet calming about this board. It's sophisticated and on-trend. Every detail of this mood board is perfect in the most casually imperfect way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Small Business Interview / Free Label

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

Today's interview is with Jess Sternberg, co-owner of the ethical fashion brand, Free Label, with her partner Julian Hoyle. Free Label offers incredibly stylish, casual, everyday pieces that you will definitely want to add to your wardrobe. I sure do! 

Free Label was started in July 2015 in Toronto, then moved to Vancouver in March 2016 and is currently operating in its fourth season. Fun fact: the first piece, the Betty Tank, is named after Jess's mom and they've been making it ever since!

How did you get started in your field?

I'd like to think it was fate! At the time, I was the manager and buyer for an activewear boutique in Toronto called "Flow-Active" that specializes in Canadian and ethically made brands. I was constantly on the search for ethically made pieces that were great for both yoga and everyday use, and had fits to flatter the average woman; I was looking for what I would call "easy sell pieces."

I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I thought why not make it myself? I was incredibly lucky that the boutique owner supported me 100% and bought a lot of stock in Free Label's first season, which made it possible to get the brand off it's feet. (Thanks, Chad :))

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

That it takes time to figure it all out. Starting a business is incredibly intimidating - the financial responsibility alone can be overwhelming. But after a couple season's you start to get the hang of the timing, you start to build a network of reliable suppliers and retailers, and you start to gain confidence in yourself and your business. Free Label started out with just one style (the Betty Tank) in two colour ways. This Spring we have 14 different skus.

It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new customers and selling more products?

Instagram and word of mouth from a repeat customer base. I think building a friendly and approachable brand that followers/potential customers can engage with on a public platform is really important in ethical fashion. It is still a small industry with a niche following, so interacting with those people, answering their questions, and gaining their trust through transparency is vital.

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

There is no better feeling than accomplishing something just for you. Of course its rewarding to do a great job at work and have your boss praise you, or get a raise. But to do a great job FOR yourself...it doesn't get better than that!

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Taking the job home with you! Unlike most 9-5 jobs, you can't just "leave it at work." I'm constantly checking my phone, answering emails, and visualizing the next collection and mapping out the next steps. There really is no break from the mental and emotional connection to the business. (This is something I need to work on).

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

You can do it! All you need is a massive amount of passion, and the motivation to learn and do. Seriously...you can do it.

"It just takes time to build the business—slow and steady, baby!" This is one of many great quotes from my interview with small business owner, Jess Sternberg.  Jess is the owner of Free Label, which produces ethically made clothing. As an entrepreneur she is familiar with the difficulties of running a start up, from the work life balance to the financial responsibility. She knows the value of starting small and making a personal connection with customers. In our interview she talk about INstagram as one of her favorite advertising and marketing tools. Jess encourages anyone who wants to start their own business that it's possible. You just need a lot of passion and motivation! Click throug for more ideas, tips, and inspiration!

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

One of the biggest arguments against shopping ethically is the cost. To buy ethically made clothing is much more expensive than picking up a t-shirt at a big box store, but it truly truly is worth it. There are a lot of costs that go into consciously making a garment. We hire local pattern designers to draft our patterns, digitize them, grade them, and turn them into markers. Then we bring in fabrics made from natural fibres and coloured with eco-friendly dyes - you can imagine this is a much better alternative to buying synthetic fabrics treated with chemicals.

Next, the markers and fabrics are brought to a local factory where the sewers construct the garments in a safe and clean environment. These workers are all paid fair wages and receive benefits. When you buy an ethically made garment, the price is not marked up ten fold like in big box stores. In fact, the margins are really slim and your money is really going to the people that take part in making that garment. If you commit to buying fewer garments and choose high quality and ethically made pieces, you feel a much deeper connection to the things you wear.

There are a lot of amazing people and resources that go into making clothing ethically and sustainably in North America. The industry is quickly disintegrating so please please support your local economy so we can keep making clothes ethically! If you want to learn more or discuss, feel free to reach out at info@shopfreelabel.com :)

Thanks so much for sharing, Jess! Shop Free Label and follow along on social media hereWebsite / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest