January 20, 2015

Three Steps to Successfully Tackling a Branding Makeover

When I started PaperLark Studio back in 2012, I offered mainly baby shower and kids' birthday party invitations. Up until recently, my logo reflected this with a child-like, fun font with my yellow bird perched atop the letters. Here's an example:

Logo circa late 2013 - early 2014

Last year, I began introducing more products that strayed away from my original child-centered focus. I expanded beyond only paper products to include fabric goods. My business was growing exactly like I had wanted it to and I quickly realized I was outgrowing my logo {and subsequent branding} as well. 

One of the many goals I had this year was introduce a more "grown up" logo and brand to better fit my new customer base and style. I'm still in the {slow} process of converting everything over, but I'd like to think I have a pretty solid start going now. For those of you who are developing a logo and brand or for those who are in the same boat as I was, here's a run down of how I tackled my major brand makeover!

IDENTIFY ELEMENTS CENTRAL TO YOUR BRAND. Because I have some loyal customers and social media followers, I didn't want to go a totally new direction to the point where they wouldn't recognize the logo or business. Strong brands have elements that immediately pop into your head when you hear them - like logo shape, color, wording, etc. 

For a prime example, look at this graphic of the evolution of the Coca-Cola logo over the span of their operation. The key elements they pulled out and have consistently used are the fancy font and trademark red. You want to do the same with your new logo and branding. 
Courtesy of Logo-Kid.com
For PaperLark Studio, I pulled out my bird graphic and a couple of the original colors which you'll be able to see on my brand board below. These elements are what I considered central to my brand. 

CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BRAND AND CREATE LOGOS. As my business has grown, so have my core business values and style. Because I've done a pretty significant shift toward hand lettered designs, I decided a hand lettered font would be good fit to convey what my business was all about. I also hunting for a logo design that was a little more grown up, but still fun. Without further adieu, here is PaperLark Studio's new logo:
I'm pretty much in love with it and I should be as much as I stressed over it. Ha! It's grown up, but still a little whimsical while paying homage to element of the old.

CREATE A BRAND BOARD. I'm still in the process of creating my brand board, but I have pretty solid basics here I thought I'd share. 

Why create a brand board? I don't know about you, but my creative brain can sometimes run array when I think I have a stroke of genius. Brand boards help creative brains like mine focus on a brand's core values and personality at one glance. If my stroke of genius doesn't fit into the board, it goes to the recycle bin. 

However, do not confuse your brand board with a style guide. The difference? A style guide is instructions on how to use your brand elements within your business. Brand boards just display all the elements of your brand. 

If you'd like to learn further about how to create a brand board, I recommend this excellent post by Elembee which you can find here.

What tips do you have for tackling a brand overhaul?

January 19, 2015

Lessons I've Learned From Owning My Own Business

In July, PaperLark Studio will be celebrating its three year anniversary. While I was putting my plans down on paper for this year, I started listing some of the lessons I've learned over the past few years in running my own business.

Most of these lessons were learned the hard way or through lots of trial and error. If you have your own business, I'm sure you'll be able to relate to many of them and perhaps even get a chuckle out of some. If you are planning to start your own business, I hope these will help you start your journey on smoother waters. After all, knowledge is power, right?

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. The title of this post is misleading. I may be the one who "owns" my business according to my federal tax return and my business license, but PaperLark Studio is far from a one-woman show. From giving input on new designs to helping man the booth at craft shows, my family are the silent partners in the business and keep me grounded. Plus, they're pretty brutally honest when I have a sucky idea. Ha! Without my "village," PaperLark Studio would be ten steps behind what it is today.

BRANDING IS EVERYTHING. Learn it. Breathe it. Live it. I have learned so much about what branding is and why it is important. For me, branding has been one of the most challenging {and intimidating} things to learn and incorporate into my business. Over the years, my branding has evolved significantly and I'm just now really starting to feel comfortable with it. Once I figured out my core values and my market niche, my brand fell into place. I still devour branding tips when I run across them.

DON'T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO SOMEONE ELSE'S MIDDLE. There is a difference between comparing and admiring. Don't get the two confused! It's easy to beat yourself up when you compare your starter shop to someone who has a couple years in the game under their belt. Just remember: They started somewhere too just like you.

PASSION ISN'T ENOUGH. Sounds harsh, but it's the truth. Unfortunately, there is much more yucky, no-fun tasks to running a successful business than just creating and making all day. {If only, right?} While passion certainly keeps you going on the rough days, you'll spend most of your day doing tedious tasks like tracking dollars, strategizing your next marketing move or filling orders. After all, you can't just wait around and expect it all to fall into place. Your dreams won't work unless you do!

COMPETITION IS A LIE. When your products/services are original and one-of-a-kind, you'll have no competition. Sure! There are thousands of talented graphic designers and hand letterers out there, but my aesthetic and style is mine. If you look around in any industry, you'll notice that the industry leaders are not the industry followers. The moral of this lesson? Be original always.

ALWAYS CARRY BUSINESS CARDS. Since most of my business is conducted on the computer, I sometimes forget about the face-to-face potential aspect of business. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it took me several times of being caught without a business card to learn this lesson. I'm sure I've missed some prime business opportunities because of it. One of my most loyal customers I met in town. Thankfully, I was able to hand her a business card on the spot and she made her first purchase the next day.

Are you a business owner or blogger? What lessons have you learned through the years?

January 16, 2015

My Word for 2015: Intention

Every January, I like to take some time and pick a word to focus on for the year. Words are powerful and can help us refocus when things get a little hairy in life.

Last year, I focused on the word JOURNEY. Why? Because I knew that year would be a learning experience as I dove head first into pursuing PaperLark Studio full time and navigating through changes in my personal life. Remembering my word helped me maintain focus and kept me from getting discouraged.

After some time of reflection, my word for 2015 is INTENTION. Many times during my "journey" last year with my business, I often made decisions without a clear intent. This lead to frustration, the feeling of flying by the seat of my pants (which I hate) and probably some loss of money. A lot of it was simply because I didn't know what I was always doing. That's okay, because that is how you learn! This year, I am learning from those mistakes by acting with intention.

For me, intention will include a lot of planning and executing. It is my hope that by focusing on intention, I will gain more purpose instead of wasting time. With a little one on the way, my time needs to be spent wisely!

What is your word for 2015?


I got the idea from Ali Edwards and her One Little Word project. (Read more about Ali and the project here

January 8, 2015

The Differences Between Typography + Calligraphy + Hand Lettering

Since diving into the hand lettering world, I've noticed there's lots of confusion as to the difference between it, calligraphy and typography. It's easy to see where the confusion comes in because when you search on Etsy for typography, you'll see a combination of all three. A lot of people use the terms interchangeably. However, all three are completely different mediums and require their own respective skill set, tools, and execution. 

Here's a quick rundown of the differences and how you can spot them. 


Typography is the art of setting type using mainly pre-made fonts. Typography goes hand-in-hand with graphic design. When I started PaperLark Studio back in the day, this was the only style I used to create prints and cards. I still use it and a prime example would be my SouthMouth cards which you can find in my shop here.


Calligraphy is writing the word. Much of hand lettering work looks like calligraphy, but each has an entirely different style of application and execution. Calligraphy is the art of perfecting a few different style of script. You use these styles over and over, developing a muscle memory for them. Becoming a proficient calligrapher takes years upon years of practice. {Something I wish I had the patience for, but alas I do not.}

An example of calligraphy is this addressed envelope by Mint Tea Calligraphy.


Hand lettering is drawing the word and is most commonly confused with calligraphy. Lettering incorporates all kinds of styles and offers a little more freedom than the perfection of calligraphy or being restricted to a pre-made font like typography. This is probably why it has become my favorite medium. It allows for experimentation and there's no strict rules. {There are some basic guideline you should try to stick to, but that's for another post.}

Here's an example of a hand lettered print you can find in my shop here. I bet you'd never guess that I live in Georgia, huh? Ha!


Besides the freedom and flexibility I talked about above, I love how organic hand lettering feels. Hand lettering is unique to each letterer. You just can't get that warm feel with a pre-made typeface. 

There you have it, folks! Time for a pop quiz. Just kidding! If you're interested in exploring the world of hand lettering, you should stick around because I have a few "How-To" posts in the works. 

Be sure you don't miss a thing and follow along:


Until next time!

January 7, 2015

Baby Winslett Pregnancy Update: Week 11

On New Year's Eve, we officially announced the pending arrival of our newest coworker. I've already started a pregnancy/baby scrapbook to record this special and exciting journey and thought I'd share part of it with you. 

Baby Stats: 11 weeks and 4 days. Strong heart beat of 175 bpm at last ultrasound. About the size of a lime. 

Eating: Cheez-Its and pickles. These seem to be my cravings this week. In other words, anything salty! 

Drinking: Water and V8 Vegetable Juice. I'm always thirsty these days. 

Avoiding: Caffeine. I've had the worst heartburn ever and quickly learned these only made it worse. Last weekend, we bought a huge bottle of TUMS from BJ's and they've been my best friend ever since. Eggs. Something about eggs absolutely repulses me right now which is funny because I love eggs. My mother made an breakfast egg casserole on Christmas morning and I almost died from the smell. I had to sit outside on the back porch for a bit while it cooked.  

Wearing: Yoga pants, loose-fitting shirts and some maternity jeans. I'm savoring the dwindling days where I still fit into some of my shirts. Seriously though, why don't they make all pants like maternity jeans? They're so comfortable!

Feeling: Chunky. I'm in that awkward stage where I don't look pregnant - just like I've had one too many cheeseburgers. Ha! It's only bloating and not cute in the least. Other than that, I've been feeling better energy and feeling yucky-wise. I still have bad days, but more good days than bad. 

Buying: Maternity/nursing bras and maternity tank tops for this spring and summer. I bought a Snoogle pregnancy pillow last week that should be arriving today and it's a little ridiculous how excited I am about it. 

Sleeping: Why am I so excited about this pillow? Because my sleeping has been unpredictable, frustrating and sometimes downright awful the last two weeks. The first problem is that pesky heartburn. Of course, when I lay down it gets worse. The pillow is suppose to help ease this since it'll put me in a more upright position. The second problem is I literally can't fall asleep. It isn't because I'm uncomfortable or my mind is turning. I simply cannot fall asleep. Once I am asleep, I'm good to go until I have to go to the bathroom. After I get up for that, I can't fall asleep again. It's a vicious cycle. From what I've read, it's my hormones and should subside by the 2nd trimester. 

Loving: Tossing baby names around with the husband. We've narrowed it down to a few that we love, but our lips are sealed for now. I'm also loving deciding what colors and theme we want for the nursery. My mom will be making the baby's bedding so it's been fun looking at different fabrics and patterns with her. 

Getting Use To: Having the pee all the time and growing HUGE boobs. From what I hear, the peeing thing only gets worse. Oh joy. Not looking forward to that. It's just annoying especially when I'm trying to work and focus. But, I'm not going to lie. The boobs have been pretty awesome thus far. I'm digging them even more now that they're not as sore. I've never really had big ta-tas so I'm enjoying the upgrade. There's got to be some perks, right? Hehe. 

About Daddy: It's no surprise that R.J. is thrilled. I've loved seeing him studiously reading his daddy-to-be book and how his eyes lit up during the first ultrasound. It was even his idea to spend his Friday off price comparing baby items together last week. I wish I'd taken a video of his mini-freak out session in the middle of BJ's surrounded by cases of wipes and diapers as the sticker-shock sank in. When he ordered his books for this upcoming semester, he couldn't resist buying a Dr. Seuss book to read to baby while still in utero. I think it's safe to say this munchkin already has daddy wrapped around his/her finger. 

Fellow Mommies: Any tips for easing up this heartburn?

December 5, 2014

Etsy Find Friday: Apple White Handmade

In this day and age, I think many view sewing as their grandmother's hobby. So, when I stumble upon a sewer who brings the skill into modern times, I get downright giddy. Dana of Apple White Handmade nails this with her use of modern designs in fabric and style.

Her mother taught her how to sew when she was five years old. From there, her dream for owning her own creative business grew. When she faced a "now or never" moment, she jumped in. 

All Apple White Handmade items are designed, cut and sewn by Dana who is inspired by people using their natural talents. 

I think her tooth fairy pillows are my favorite item. These pillows were inspired from a drawing her daughter drew a while back. I love their design and the modern fabrics she uses to create them. Even with the modern fabrics, there's just something about them that screams vintage as well. 

What's your favorite Apple White Handmade item?

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