Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back, Thinking Forward…

Every year I try to write New Year's resolutions for my business, as well as reflect on my goals from the previous year. When I looked over last year's goals, I realized how much my business had changed throughout 2011, in ways that I honestly hadn't anticipated. Um…like, big changes. Changes like hiring my first full-time employee and moving out of my home office into a studio in downtown Frederick!  (More to come about this in the New Year!)

So, maybe I didn't reach all of my goals for 2011, but to be honest, I think I ended up accomplishing way more—and I'm totally happy with that! After all, your business goals and plans are just a guideline, something that needs to be tweaked and changed throughout the course of your business, right?

Some of the goals I did reach included:
  1. Switching to a smart phone. (I seriously can't imagine living without my iphone now. Check out a previous post about this…)
  2. Blogging weekly (ok, well, almost weekly!)
  3. Increasing blog traffic, and integrating Kalico's facebook and twitter accounts better. (seriously, if you're reading this and haven't liked us yet on facebook or aren't following us on twitter...what the heck are you waiting for!?)
  4. Adding 3-4 new clients in the health & wellness industry (not to mention a lot of other really great new clients ranging from magazines to small start-ups to national associations!)

All in all, 2011 was a year of big changes for Kalico. Stay tuned for a list of our resolutions for the New Year, and let us know what your big business goals are for the upcoming year! I look forward to what 2012 has to bring and I wish everyone a very Happy (and safe!) New Years!! See ya on the flip side!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Incredible, Insightful, Intelligent & Interesting. INFOGRAPHICS!

OK, so I'm not gonna lie. I really love infographics. You know, the really good ones...i literally get mesmerized by them and just can't get enough. Infographics are one of the purest forms of graphic design—they're strictly visual representations of information and data. Data Visualization, or "data viz", as the "cool kids" are apparently calling them. (Guess I've exited the "cool kid" pool, because I just read about this terminology…[sigh] )

So, I'm going to assume that everyone has probably seen an infographic here or there, even if you didn't realize that's what you were looking at. Top brands like The New York Time, USA Today, and even The White House have been using infographics to deliver data. Whether you're a designer or  your company is thinking of hiring a designer to create "data viz" for your next project, please ask yourself 3 important questions first:

1. Why? What is it for? What is the goal? Will your data need to be visually represented? (please, no infographics, just for infographic sake). Determine whether you will be able to clearly tell your story or represent your information through visual graphics, or if tradition text and copy will work better.

2. How? How will you refine and organize your data to work in cohesive, informational graphic. What will be the visual metaphor you'll use?

3. Does it Work? Does it reach your goals? Is it easy to understand. Is the data represented in a clear and readable manner? Will it make sense to the viewer?

Here are some wonderful, additional resources for creating effective infographics:

The Do's and Don'ts of Inforgraphic Design
10 Tips For Designing Better Infographics
Infographic Designs: Overviews, Examples & Best Practices

And, of course, this blog post wouldn't be complete with examples of some of my favorite infographics! (just click on the image caption to view the full graphic)

U.S. Data Consumption in One Day

The Very Many Varieties of Beer

How the Internet Works
The Greening of America's Companies
Do you love inforgraphics too? What are some of your favorites?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keys to Effective Self Promotions

As mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago I participated in International Freelancers Day, an online conference exclusively for solo professionals. Here is another recap of some of the insightful information I gained during the webinars.

Next up, is a recap of James Clear's session "The 10 Keys to Effective (and Ethical) Self-Promotion for Freelancers" (but, I'm just going to highlight a few of the primary concepts). James focused on some of the fundamentals for self promotion—not the tactics, but more about the strategies. Here's a list of some important things to consider when considering your next self promotion campaign:

1. Value First. This is a very key point to make. Be sure you provide value to your target audience before you promote your work to them…otherwise, it's kind of pointless, huh? Don't wait until money exchanges hands before giving something of value. This way you'll create fans and then you'll have a much easier time selling your services. Examples are: samples of product, blog posts or white papers of information, coupons, etc.—be sure it is something relative to your field that is  thoughtful and/or useful.  "Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process".

2. Build Relationships. Effective self promotion never starts with the pitch, it starts with the relationship. Build relationships with the right people that can help accelerate your growth. Everyone is valuable, but try to find relevant people to you and your business. So, get out there and network! But, remember, it is about making relationships, not just making the sale. Be sure to be genuine and just get to know someone, don't bombard them with sales tactics…nobody likes a pushy salesman (or woman)!

3. Research. A more, specific, targeted audience is usually more effective than a blanket pitch the everyone. Research your target markets, and cater or tweak your promotions to them. Research gives you the content to make connections, and also will allow your promotions to create a maximum effect in a minimal amount of time.

After you've worked on the above three tasks, be sure to make your self promotions simple, yet powerful—and, focus on being consistent! And remember, this is a cyclical process that you will have to do over and over again throughout the course of your business, it's not a one time thing and you're done. In order to grow your business, you need to grow with your business!

Do you have any advice on good self promotion? I'd love to hear it!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Howl-o-ween!

We love Halloween at Kalico. Growing up, my family used to decorate our house as a haunted house and it was "the place" to go on October 31, the scariest one of them all! I also remember years and years of homemade costumes for me and my sister (my mom was always very creative and crafty!) Halloween was always a fun and creative holiday in our household, one that the whole family got into.

So, I love to see creative advertisers get into the Halloween spirit too. Here's a few print ads I found particularly inventive and fun:

San Francisco Zoo's "Boo in the Zoo"

These ads really caught my attention, and even after looking at them several times, they still make me smile! So simple, yet so effective!

Guinness Halloween Ads (Various)
Again, these ads definitely catch my attention and make me do a second look. The one on the far left, I had to look at twice before I got the full brilliance of it!

Various Advertisers (Pizza Hut, Heineken, M&Ms)
I think these all speak for themselves! Creative, catchy, and smart!

I hope these ads help get you in the Halloween spirit, and hopefully help to get your creative juices going as well. I wish everyone a safe and SPOOKY Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Super, Simple 3-Step Marketing Plan

Yesterday during my weekly BNI networking meeting, my very wise friend and fellow chapter member, Whitney Hahn (certified guerilla marketing coach and co-owner of Digital Bard Video. Web. Marketing.) presented us with a super easy, 3-step procedure, to get started on our 2012 marketing plan. And… here is is:

Step 1: Write down the marketing actions you want to take. Keep it very simple, just action-based, such as "Write Blog Post" or "Advertise in Local Newspaper". Whitney suggests writing each action down on a small piece of paper, like a Post-It note.

Step 2: Divide a large sheet of paper (or white board) up into 5 sections: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. Then, take the actions you created in step one, and assign them to one of these sections. For instance, for Kalico, I would take my "Write Blog Post" post-it, and stick it in the "weekly" section of my white board. Do this for all your actions (keep in mind, it should be easy to rearrange things as needed, we are working with post-it notes, here, people. they're sticky, that's what they do.)

Step 3: Once you're happy with your actions and timeline, be sure to add them to your regular appointment calendar, be it an online calendar, your blackberry, your planner, etc. Basically, wherever you keep track of your appointments, meetings, and events, you also need to include the actions indicated above. It's like you're making an appointment with yourself and your business, be sure you schedule the time here (I'll admit, this is where I fall short!).

And, there you have it. The start to a super, simple, low-tech, but ever-so-effective marketing plan. And remember, marketing plans may need to evolve and change over the course of time, and that's ok (in fact, it's typical!). But, at least you'll have a starting point to work from, with goals and a timeline you set yourself. I hope this helps! How do you come up with your marketing plan?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HOLY COW! We're in GD:USA!

OK, so we are still totally stoked to be a part of Graphic Design USA magazine's November feature "A Culture of Green," which highlights 12 eco-conscious design studios around the country. And holy cow, Kalico is among them!

When we were first approached by GD:USA for this story, I'll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. How would I "stack up" against some of the larger, more well-known sustainable design firms? I mean, I definitely try to conduct my business with an eco-conscious mind, but my business is small, so everything I do is on a small scale, right? And then I got over myself and realized it's not a competition about who is "greener". The important thing is that we all do what we can to be eco- and socially-conscious, both on a business and personal level. As noted in the "Culture of Green" article, I approach sustainability as a process, for myself and my clients, and I'm constantly striving to learn and improve along the way.

Here's a list of easy suggestions and steps Kalico takes to help cultivate our green thumb:
  1. Send project estimates, comps and revisions digitally to reduce the amount of paper consumption
  2. Use scrap paper and/or print double-sided when we need to print
  3. Purchase recycled office supplies, such as file folders, envelopes, and paper (Staples has a great, fairly cost-effective line)
  4. Use natural light whenever possible (we currently work in a room with a lot of natural sunlight, rarely having to turn on the lights during normal business hours)
  5. Conduct a majority of meetings via phone or email to cut down on transportation for us and our clients
  6. Use FSC-certified printers, soy-based inks, and recycled paper for client jobs whenever possible
  7. Have an in-office recycling bin for all paper products
  8. Only use digital photography and request digital proofs when possible 
  9. Eliminate plastic water bottles, using refillable canteens or glasses instead
  10. Be conscious of the end effect of there a better approach?
  11. Furnish with recycled or pre-used office furniture where applicable (which often translates to "on the cheap" as well!)
  12. Use a green web host 
Do you have some additional suggestions or practices you do in your business? I'd love to hear some additional suggestions! 

PS-Let me know what you think of the GD:USA article! I can't wait to see the printed version—if anyone has an extra copy or two, please let me know!! 

PPS- I LOVE that Graphic Design USA choose to use the picture of me with my dog Kai! (He's smiling in this photo too!) Special thanks to Mary Kate McKenna Photography for this headshot photo and to Aaron Haslinger Photography for the work photo!

Monday, October 3, 2011

All You Need is Love

Last week I participated in International Freelancers Day, an online conference exclusively for solo professionals. It was great—lots of wonderful speakers, great topics, and best of all, it was FREE! Since I gained so much insight and information, I am going to dedicate the next few blog posts as recaps of some of my favorite sessions, I shall call it "All the Cool Stuff I Heard on Friday".

First up is a recap of Peleg Top's session entitled "All You Need Is Love—Growing Your Business From the Inside Out". Peleg focused how to run your business with love versus with fear; how to take your passion and build your business around it.
Fear = anxious, saying yes to things you shouldn't, always being in reactive mode, working with the fear of always wanting to please your client

Love = energetic, being in creation mode, creativity, working with the desire to serve your client
How does LOVE show in your marketing?
Well, Fear shows in marketing when you try doing the same thing everyone else does, and when you feel the need to always grab your client (or potential client's) attention. Don't get me wrong, getting a potential client's attention is not necessarily a bad thing! But, when you feel the need to constantly inundate them with ways to show how good you are, you may come off a little desperate, and the "fear" definitely begins to show. Conversely,  Love means connecting with your client, serving your client, creating a value to your client so they can see the passion behind your work. This makes your client want to work with you, and enjoy working with you!

Ready. Aim. Fire.
So, how can you get your passion to show more in your work? Peleg suggests the "Ready. Aim. Fire." method:

Ready: Take an audit of your current business. How much passion is in your current work? Are you proud of it? Do you want to share it with other? Did you enjoy working on it? Is there something specific you'd rather be doing with your work? Where is your passion, if it's not in your current work?

Aim: Create a positioning around your passion. Focus on a specific kind of client you want to work with or a specific kind of work you want to do. Declare this first to yourself (this may actually be the hardest step), and then to the world. Be specific about who you are as a business, what you do exactly, and why.

Fire. Now that you know where you business passion lies, start marketing to those who share you passion. Research who they are, where they can be found, etc. Chances are, if you both enjoy the same passion, you may already know who your next potential client should (and could) be.

"Passion is the Fuel for Creativity" Is there passion in your work?

Thanks again to Peleg Top for his wonderful webinar. We'll be continuing our recap of International Freelancers Day in blog posts to follow, with topics ranging from Effective Self Promotions, Hiring Your First Employee and Smart Risk Taking.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kudos & Snapshots

We are thrilled to have been awarded two American Graphic Design Awards from GDUSA. The American Graphic Design Awards is a national competition open to everyone in the graphic arts community – graphic design firms, advertising agencies, in-house corporate and institutional designers, publishers and other media.  It honors outstanding new work of all kinds including print, packaging, point-of-purchase, internet, interactive and motion graphics.

Kalico's winning work includes business card designs for A Tasty Nosh, a start-up boxed lunch delivery and catering service in Frederick, MD. Additionally, our own self-promotional design for the 2010 Kalico Holiday cards were awarded as well. It is always an honor to have our work recognized!

Plus, check out some of the newest photos of Kalico work samples and headshots! A huge thank you goes out to my ol' college friend, Aaron Haslinger of Aaron Haslinger Photography, for taking some great shots!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign…

"…Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind!"  OK, so we don't condone blocking the scenery, but we do support using signage or large format printing to help convey your marketing message!

This summer Kalico worked on a variety of large scale signage for our clients, including trade show booth graphics, bus signage, sidewalk signs, and even a mobile kitchen truck wrap—so much fun! But, designing for larger scale materials involves a few different design approaches. Here are some things to consider when planning for your next billboard campaign, booth graphics, or outdoor signage:

1. Is Your Signage Impactful? Use simple, clean text in a very readable typeface. Prioritize your information and keywords effectively. Be clear, concise, and direct with copy and content. Does it grab the viewers attention, either with a headline or image?

2. Is Your Message Clear? Your message and/or product should register quickly. You'll only have a few seconds to grab the viewers attention, whether they are walking or driving by, so you want to be sure they can get all the needed information very quickly. Don’t force your viewers to search for the message. They won’t bother.

3. Is It Worth Remembering? Imagery is often more important than words. The use of a hard-hitting visual element can generate more memorability for the viewer. Use bold, rich colors so your signage stands out from it's surroundings. All elements of the design, including imagery, copy, background, etc, should come together as a single cohesive unit.

Above (and below) are some of the recent sign & booth designs we've created here at Kalico Design.

 In addition, in my research for sign and billboard designs for this article, I came across some other wicked awesome designs and concepts. I just had to share—check these out:

11 Creative Outdoor Advertisement Designs
Best Cool, Clever & Unique Billboards and Outdoor Advertising
50 Creative and Clever Examples of Outdoor Advertising


Friday, August 12, 2011

What's Your Issuu?

So what is issuu? This amazing online resource offers individuals a library of over a million free publications, as well as serves as a free publishing platform . While magazines are the most eye catching to me, Issuu has no limits to the types of documents it contains. While surfing the site I noticed maps, annual reports, brochures, flyers, and even the IKEA catalogue (ok, so I got a little distracted looking through the catalog, I'm not gonna lie). Honestly, I truly think I could spend all day on this website.

Kalico uses issuu to upload several of our client's publications. Both Find it Frederick and Frederick County Guide are uploaded to the site and available for viewing upon release date. Our favorite part about issuu? Its amazingly simple to use! You can either set up a free account (warning: free accounts will show advertising) or use their affordable Issuu Pro plan (details here) with benefits such as unlimited publications, unlimited storage & backup and detailed reader statistics. Once your account is set up, all you need is to upload a pdf of your publication and voilà, instant online magazine (or brochure, or map, or annual report…you get the idea!)

Plus, you can get coding from issuu to put your publication directly on your website, blog or facebook fan page. Um, let me demonstrate…

Coo, huh? Interested in working with Kalico Design on your next publication AND getting it online? Give us a shout (or email, we like emails too).

Friday, August 5, 2011

We're In, Baby! Kalico Work Published in Design Annual

We recently received our copy of the 40th Annual Creativity Awards Annual, a 300+ page hard bound book you can find on Amazon or at your local book store, chock-full of award-winning graphic design and package design. Our favorite pages? Pages 93 and 132…check it:

For more information about the Creativity International Awards, visit them online at We're already getting some work ready to enter into the 41st Awards...fingers crossed!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Madame President

I think I've mentioned a few times in previous posts about my active involvement in our local American Advertising Federation chapter, AAF-Greater Frederick. Last year I served as the vice president, and this year I am happy to announce that I will be serving as board president! I am thrilled to be a part of this organization, and have a wonderful group of volunteer directors who will be helping me out!

So what exactly is the AAF-GF? Glad you asked:
The AAF – Greater Frederick is the regional professional organization for individuals who work in advertising, marketing and related fields within central and Western Maryland. Established in 1989, AAF – Greater Frederick is one of 210 local chapters of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the national organization that acts as the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.” The AAF is divided into 15 districts and our local club is part of District 2, which includes New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

The AAF promotes and protects the ethics and principles of good advertising, advocating the rights of advertisers as well as educating policymakers, the news media and the general public on the value of advertising and its importance to our economy.

At the local level, we offer a variety of programs, including meetings featuring industry-related speakers, professional development workshops, educational seminars, scholarships, public service initiatives, social events and award competitions recognizing excellence in advertising.

If you are in the advertising, marketing, graphic design, web design, or other creative industries in the western Maryland region, please be sure to check out the AAF-GF and join us at one of our upcoming events this Fall!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Inspired by Color!

With the weather being so nice lately, we've been inspired by the many colors surrounding us at Kalico headquarters. Bright greens from the leaves and grass, vibrant flowers from the garden, and lively colored fruits and veggies at the farmer's market…color is all around us throughout the early summer!

So, in honor of the colors of summer, here are several color resources and inspirational sites to help you with your next project—be it graphic design, interior design, fashion design or more!

1. Kuler. Presented by Adobe, Kuler  is a web-hosted application that can generate color themes to inspire any project. Kuler allows you to search through color variations and browse thousands of themes from the their online community. And don't worry, it's totally FREE! The above color palette is a July 4th-inspired combination!

2. Design Seeds. Design Seeds is a great inspirational source for emerging color and palette combinations, all based off of original photography. Color inspiration comes from landscapes, animals, plants, seasons and more! And don't look now, but color inspired books are also available! The above are a few of our favorite summer palettes! (mmmm…ice cream!)

3. Colour Lovers. Colour Lovers is an international creative community that helps people discover their inner designer. They provide a wealth of user created & shared color inspiration as well as tools that make the creative process as simple as possible. Plus, not only do they offer color palette combos, but there are also color inspired patterns as well! The above palette, oddly titled "Giant Goldfish" was found by searching for "summer".

4. Color Hunter. Color Hunter is fun because it allows you to upload your own photos, and then generate palettes inspired by your image! You are also able to search for color combinations with their easy-to-use search field. The above palette is inspired by Kalico's blog! (sorry, got a little self indulgent's just so much fun!)

We hope you have fun with these color inspiration resources! Where do you get your color inspiration from?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meet the Kalico Team

So, you probably already know me (either in person or via the interwebs). I'm Kim, you know, the owner of Kalico Design and writer for this blog. If you want some more info on me, check out my "official" bio on the website.

But, you probably don't know the entire Kalico team quite yet…

Get to Know Jennifer Tyler…graphic designer, paper collector, cat owner extraordinaire! Jen is Kalico Design's very first full-time employee! We are truly excited to have her join the team.
You may remember Jen from last summer when she helped out here as my first intern. Here's a little more info about her:

Jennifer Tyler is  a graduate from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown WV, with a BFA concentrating in graphic design. Upon graduating she moved back to her native state of Oklahoma to be nearer to her family. However, Jen soon realized that Oklahoma no longer offered what it once did and begged her old boss Kim to offer a job. She quickly returned to West Virgina and is now happily working at Kalico as a full time designer. Jennifer is an active member of the design community and is excited about becoming involved in the local AAF, and AIGA chapter events. She enjoys long rides on the river with picnics free of mosquitoes, as well as baking, illustration and paper collecting (we're designers, we like paper).

Before moving to West Virginia, Jennifer was utilizing a culinary arts degree working as a full time baker in her Native state, Oklahoma. She loves being active in the design community, and served as the president of Shepherd University's student chapter of AIGA. Last year Jen helped to organize the first annual AIGA student exhibition displaying a variety of student design work, including her own work which was rewarded with a viewers choice award! Check out some of Jennifer's student work at her website,

I bet you didn't know that there are two additional members of the Kalico team, each playing an important role in the day-to-day activities. Meet our part-timers:

Kai, the Dog: Bill-Collector, Sleeper, Greeter, Foot Warmer.
Kai is a blue-brindle pit bull who graces the floors of the Kalico office. In his free time (aka, when not sleeping during work hours), Kai enjoys long walks in the park, chasing rabbit friends and deer buddies, and singing (howling) along to various tunes. He loves greeting clients with a friendly smile and an occasional lick.

The Cat: Receptionist, Window Watcher, Paper Sorter.
The Cat (C for short) checks in at the Kalico office multiple times throughout the day. Her official role is to answer phones (Kalico Design, Meow can I help you?), but she is often a tad lazy and would rather leave the menial chores to the Humans. In her extensive spare time, she enjoys chatting at birds, chasing strings or paper balls, and exploring boxes. The Cat also "helps" out around the office with her uncanny ability to sit on (um, find) any paperwork you happen to be looking for.

Jen (and "the animals") will be helping me out and I can't be happier (or more relieved!). I've definitely been keeping busy these past few weeks, as is evident in my lack of blogging (sorry!). But, stay tuned for updates on some of our most recent work to come soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

911…Emergency Business Plan

So, last week I was hit with a very scary family disaster. Jimmy, my husband and avid motocross* rider, was in an accident at the track. He ended up getting rushed to shock trauma (in Baltimore, MD, almost an hour away) with a partial collapsed lung, lacerated liver and internal bleeding. Needless to say, as a wife, I was terrified out of my mind. And, after the first 24 hours of shock, various ER treatments (including a chest, yea), and with reassurance from both doctors and Jimmy, my mind turned to my business. As a microbusiness owner, I went into "Business Disaster" panic mode.

How was I going to get work completed (mind you, the week was jammed packed with multiple LARGE deadlines)? How was I going to communicate with clients? How would I mentor my brand-spankin new employee (who was originally scheduled to start working the Monday of our ER visit)? How could I balance being with my husband during recovery while still maintaining some sort of business presence? How was I going to "kill" my husband (after he recovered, of course) for crashing his stupid dirtbike…again. But, I digress.

Luckily, Jimmy recovered much faster than the doctors originally anticipated and his shock trauma stay only lasted about 3 days. And luckily I have some wonderful clients who were more than understanding. Plus, I had a few other things that helped out during this crisis:

The Kalico Makeshift Disaster Plan
1. iphone. Ironically, we had only gotten our iphones a week prior to "the incident". I definitely learned how to use that sucker quickly. I was able to group text jimmy's status updates to family and friends while emailing and responding to clients. Not to mention, the one and only night I didn't stay at the hospital, I was reassured with a few face chats with Jim as well.

2. G-RAID mini. Again, I had only just set up my new G-RAID portable mini backup drive a week or two prior. Boy, was I glad I had taken the recommendation from another designer/programmer friend! Just a simple unhook of a firewire cable and I had all my work with me. I was able to set-up a small makeshift office for two days: laptop, G-RAID and me!

3. Responsible Employee. Yet again, the timing seemed uncanny. As I mentioned, my new (and very first) employee started the week we were at the hospital. I was fortunate that my new hire, who had interned with me the previous summer, was already familiar with some of Kalico's clients. She was (and still is) also responsible, trustworthy, and someone I could rely on to work from home for a few hours per day until things got back to a normal schedule. How's that for a job crash course!

4. Support System. While I knew Jimmy and I had a wonderful personal support system (both coming from close families and a tight network of friends), I was also reminded of what an amazing business support system and network I have as well. Clients were understanding of late deadlines, and actually asking how they could help me! Colleagues from one of my organizations took care of my responsibilities, cards came from business contacts, and I even had another design firm offer to help with a job or two if needed! It was humbling and reassuring to know so many people were in my corner! I am one damn lucky business owner!

So, to conclude:
1. I'm am SO glad this incident is over and my husband is on the mend for a quick recovery.
2. As a graphic design business owner, invest in an iphone (or comparable smart phone) as well as a good, portable backup drive.
3. Work hard to surround yourself with other talented, supportive and caring business contacts—be it employees or fellow entreprenuers.
4. Don't let your husbands ride dirtbikes (I'm kidding...or am I?)

**To learn more about motocross, check out this article featuring my husband in the Spring Issue of Find It Frederick magazine!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I've Got BIG News!

So, I've been trying to keep it a secret for the past few weeks (you know, didn't want to jinx anything), but I just can't keep it to myself anymore…Kalico Design is expanding!! I've hired my first full-time employee who starts next week! I CANNNOT WAIT!

As you've seen from some of my previous posts, Kalico Design has been (helluva) busy, especially the past few months. I am thrilled that my client base is expanding and growing, but I was starting to feel some major growing pains. There's only so much a one-woman show can do in a day's worth of time, and I have definitely been feeling the stress and strain. Earlier this year I had reached a business turning point...I knew I wanted (and ultimately had to, for my own sanity) expand, but I also wanted to be sure to do it smartly. It's a scary time as a small business owner! After careful consideration, fretting, number crunching and obsessing, I ultimately reached the decision to hire full time. Now that the initial shock and "scared outta my pants" mentality is (almost) over, I am SO excited!

I'll admit, getting ready to hire your first full-time employee takes a lot of work. I've been busy getting payroll forms filled out, an accountant set up, workers comp taken care of, etc (government forms intimidate me tremendously!). Plus, getting my internal business structure figured flow, time tracking, employee handbooks and expectations, etc. Not to mention purchasing the computer equipment and program's been, well,  A LOT! But, I have a feeling it will all be worth it in the end!

I'll be introducing my new employee next week, but in the meantime, I simply couldn't contain my excitement. I wanted to especially thank all those who have guided and supported me in the process: Clara Winch, CPA for accounting advice, Carmack Insurance Group for business insurance advice, Megan Mullaney of Think Baseline for giving me the confidence I needed to move forward, Louanne Welgoss of LTD Creative (my former boss!) and Whitney Hahn of Digital Bard Video. Web. Marketing. for overall guidance, and, of course my husband and family for overall support! It takes a village, people!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Online Printers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A few weeks ago, I teamed up with Tobin Lehman from Tobin Lehman Design + Interactive to compare notes on some of our favorite (and not so favorite) online printers. With so many options out there, sometimes it's hard to find a printer that offers decent quality, affordable pricing, good customer service and user-friendly navigation for basic projects such as business cards, postcards or tri-fold brochures. This article gives you some first-hand feedback for your next small printing project. 

Greener Printer 
Kim: Greener Printer is one of my favorite online printers because not only are they a certified green printer (using only recycled papers with soy inks and following sustainable business practices), but they also offer high-quality, affordable printing. It’s the best of both worlds! Greener Printer offers a wide range of templated products such as business cards, brochures, and even catalogs. In addition, they can do custom sizes and quotes as well. Their website is easy to use, allowing you to quickly calculate printing prices, with simple upload options. My only negative for this printer is that their turn-around time is not as fast as some of those “other” online printers. 

Kim: So, I’ll admit it, I’ve only recently come across Moo, but so far I love them! Their website not only offers great pricing on products such as business cards, mini cards, postcards, and more; but they also offer some great resources for design inspiration and printing tips. One especially cool feature on moo is their unique Printfinity technology, which allows you to print a different design on every single card in the pack! Um, did someone say, AWESOME! (oh, wait, that was me). My only negative for this printer is that while they continue to add more, their current product options are a tad limited.

Tobin: I just recently used this printer for an online job and I was very impressed by the quality of the user experience, paper choices, and pricing. They really seem like they have a good process and system in place to make your account accessible as well. I like being able to see all my jobs in one place, and that is a nice feature. The proofing process was really easy and approvals seemed to be well controlled. I plan on using this printer for a few more projects to see how the other product offerings turn out.

Kim: Good, old VistaPrint. The positives for VistaPrint are their 1) speed and 2) amount of product options. The negatives for VistaPrint are their 1) speed and 2) amount of product options. VistaPrint is a great go-to, online printer when you need something fast and cheap. While their quality is not bad, it’s not super impressive either. As a general rule, I only use them for postcards and 4-color digital business cards…materials that don’t need exact color matching, and things that I need in a hurry. I find that lately they almost have too many product offerings, which can make it a little confusing when trying to place an order. While they don’t offer live chat or email customer service, their customer service via phone has always been extremely helpful.

Tobin: I’ve only used Vistaprint on one occasion for some folders a few years back. The quality was well done, but price was not the cheapest, which was something to be considered for my client. Everything was done on time, and I have no complaints about the service. I get TONs of emails from them now, which is good and bad.

Got Print
Tobin: Quality and price are both above average among providers although shipping price is a bit high from some others I have used. I’ve never had to send any work back, but I’ve not been blown away by good quality either. The biggest problem I find is the turn-around time. I’ve sent jobs and not heard from them for a week. If you’re trying to meet a tight deadline stay away from this printer.

Overnight Prints
Kim: I do not recommend using OvernightPrints, and will never use them again. A few years ago, I was happy to send small, quick-turn-around runs for business cards or postcards to OvernightPrints. Unfortunately the last 3 orders I sent to them all returned with errors including trim mistakes and inconsistencies on business cards, major color errors, and in one case, a client’s entire logo did not even print on his card (even though the files were set up correctly). While they offer extremely low pricing, I’d much prefer to spend a little more to alleviate the poor quality and errors this company has recently been producing.

Tobin: While product is speedily delivered, quality is sacrificed. Approximately half of the business card related print jobs I’ve requested were received with errors and I’ve had to send the work back and have it reprinted. The quality of brochures and envelopes, in my experience, has been fine.

Hope this helps you with your next online printing decisions. Keep in mind, I only recommend using online printers for smaller print runs and only for certain projects such as business cards, postcards, rack cards, trifolds, etc. Should you have a more custom project and/or need a very large quantity, be sure to go with a more local printer!  Have another printer you'd recommend, please leave a comment below!

About Tobin Lehman
Tobin Lehman is an advertiser and educator who lives in Frederick, Maryland. His professional portfolio can be found at , and you can contact him at 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We're Still Here, We Swear!

OK, OK, so I've definitely been MIA the past few weeks on the blog scene. But, let me tell you, it's been a very busy past few weeks at the Kalico homefront! Take a look at just a few of the recent projects we've been slaving away happily working on and let me know which one is your favorite!

1. Find it Frederick Website: This exciting, fun, Frederick web site launched in March! Check it out here.

 2. Find It Frederick and Frederick County Guide Spring Issues: A few of the quarterly magazines we do the design and layout for.

3. NAVTA Rack Cards: We designed a series of rack cards for this national vet tech association to use at trade shows around the country.

4. Frederick Atlantic Website: This Atlantic League baseball team is looking to move to our area, and they needed a general information website for press and locals to refer to. Check it out here!

5. Various Logo Designs: Just a few samples of some of the Spring logos we've been working on, including a logo for a start-up lunch delivery company, a management company, and a nonprofit's anniversary logo.

So, there you have it, just a few samplings of Kalico's past 2 months. Which project do you like the best and why? What other kinds of articles and information would you like to see on our blog? Stayed tuned for more exciting news and sample project work to come!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Brand You Business"…Kalico Featured on!

We're thrilled to be featured on, a website dedicate to highlighting and supporting creative women business owners! Check out the full article here!

Here's some additional info about, straight from the horse's mouth: Interviewher is not for your boyfriend or your husband, instead it’s a galaxy just for women. A galaxy where the Sun, Moon and Stars revolve around us, LADIES! Have fun learning about some fabulous artist studios, food adventures, breathtaking boutiques or even a great little hole in the wall that we’ve discovered and had to share.
We stumbled across just a few weeks ago and loved the playful and informational stories about women entrepreneurs, the variety of tips, the unique product picks, and more! Be sure to check out Kalico's article and let us know what you think. And while you're there, don't miss the other inspiring stories about women start-up business owners all over the country!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the Award Goes to…

This past weekend was a big time for awards. Never mind the Oscars (although I was happy with Natalie Portman's Best Actress award!), but I'm talking about the ADDYs! The ADDYs is an annual awards competition honoring exemplary advertising and design work. This past Saturday, the AAF-GF (the local chapter of the national American Advertising Federation) celebrated local talent with their ADDY Awards Gala—"Through the Looking Glass". AND…yours truly was awarded with three silver ADDYs—YES!!

Winning awards for our work with the Downtown Frederick Partnership and Find It Frederick magazine, plus for our own self promotion was, well, awesome! (click on the links to view the work) But, what really struck me as special about the evening was the camaraderie and support among the companies in attendance. Sure, we all wanted to win awards, but we were still cheering, hootin' and hollerin', when our colleagues were awarded for their work as well. I was very appreciative of the mutual respect and feel honored to be part of an organization full of so many creative folks!

The AAF-GF member roster consists of many small businesses, including a lot of single business owners like myself. Rather than being tight-throat and competitive, most members of the organization lean on each other for support, guidance and collaborative efforts—it truly is an amazing network of people! So, while I definitely thank my clients for allowing me to work on such fantastic, award-winning projects, I also want to thank all the AAF-GF members who have played a part in helping me get Kalico Design to where it is today. So, THANKS!!

[PS-I would be remiss to forget one other thank you. Apparently I forgot to thank my husband who helped me assemble the Kalico holiday cards as well as encouraged me to enter the Find It Frederick magazine covers, two of my three ADDY award winners. So, Jimmy, THANK YOU, now the whole world knows (or at least the three people reading this blog)]

And to conclude, I leave you with my cheese ball photo, taken right after accepting my first award. I like to title this one "Ode to Dork-ness".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multitasking, Schmultitasking: Improving Your Productivity

I recently sat in on a teleforum by Design Coach On Call discussing how creative professionals can improve their productivity. Holla! As a micro-business owner who balances just about every part of running her business, I can say first hand that it can be overwhelming at times! I'm constantly looking for better ways to discipline myself to be more productive. Pam Bryan, the forum facilitator, had some great tips and advice. Here are my favorites, all of which I hope to start implementing within the next few weeks (seriously, can someone hold me to this?)

1. Multitasking is Worse Than a Lie: To sum it up, multitasking, or more appropriately called "switch-tasking" just isn't productive. Switching from one task to the next, back and forth, and so on can cause you to loose up to 28% of your time. So, try to discipline yourself to make changes in your work day that will deter you from switch-tasking as much as possible.

2. Gather Your Gathering Places: A "Gathering Place" is any place where unprocessed work items go. This can include your desk, your briefcase, your office, even your car…any and every place where you might do work. The key is to consolidate all gathering places so that you only have one physical "inbox". Then, set a time each week or day to sort through this inbox, usually 30-60 minutes. Obviously, sort through the more pressing items first…this way you won't be stressing about them throughout the day, so you're able to focus on other tasks throughout the day.

3. Conquer Your Digital Space: These days, your digital space can be a real time sucker throughout the day! Digital Space includes your email, social media accounts, voicemails, etc. Similar to your "Gathering Places", try to consolidate your digital space as well. For instance, direct all your emails (personal and business) to one account. You'll still have the separate accounts, but you'll only have to check one master email account, thus saving you time logging on and sorting through various accounts. In addition, Pam recommends turning off your email alarms and setting yourself a schedule. Check your email 2-3 days per day, answering all inquiries during your set timeframe. Use this time to check your social media accounts like facebook and twitter as well.

OK, so these are a few of the changes I'll be making here at Kalico World Headquarters in order to increase my productivity throughout the day. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. What changes would you like to make? Let me know!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Girl Power: Online Resources for Women Business Owners

There are exciting things happening inside the world of women entrepreneurs—women are not only starting businesses, they are staying in business! Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, three quarters of all firms are either half-owned or majority-owned by women.

Personally, I love networking with other women business owners—there seems to be an instant camaraderie, and a willing desire to support and share with each other. But, as we are all extremely busy balancing work and home, sometimes it's hard to meet and network face-to-face. So, I've put together a small list of online networking tools for women entrepreneurs.

1. Savor the Success: Savor the Success is a PR Co-Op and a niche social media network for women entrepreneurs both online and offline. I've been a member of Savor the Success for the past two years and have truly enjoyed all the suggestions, feedback and support from fellow members.

2. Ladies Who Launch: The nationally acclaimed Ladies Who Launch program has enabled thousands of women across the country to break out of 9-5 and thrive in entrepreneurial enterprises that reflect their true passions, skills, and desires.

3. The Heartlink Network: Heartlink is built on a unique business networking model that provides safe, intimate, non-threatening, women-only business networking opportunities for professional women, and is dedicated to showcasing, advertising, enriching and empowering professional women in business.

4.  eWomen Network: eWomen is a great resource for connecting and promoting women and their businesses worldwide. It's a membership-based professional women's networking organization, committed to helping women and their businesses achieve, succeed and thrive in the new economy.

5. Women Owned: was founded by one new business owner, who shared her journey through business start up, incorporation, accessing funds, and hiring professionals so that other woman entrepreneurs could benefit.

6. InterviewHer: focuses on interviewing women-business owners in a wide variety of industries, from artist studios, food adventures, breathtaking boutiques or even a great little hole in the wall that they’ve discovered and had to share.
Hopefully one, or several, of these online resources may help you network with other women busines owners. If you join one, or are already and existing member, I'd love to hear your feedback. Or, have another online networking resource? Please leave it in a post below!

PS – No Boys Allowed! : )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time Tracking that Changed My Life!

OK, so maybe the headline is a little dramatic, but seriously, Paymo Time Tracker has definitely made a huge impact on how I run my business! I started Time Tracker in September, when I hired my first part-time employee. Basically, I was just looking for a way to track the amount of time she spent on projects (you know, to keep an eye on the progress and all). But, what I got was an entirely different way to track the amount of time I spent on projects, and oh so much more! Plus, the two best thing about Paymo Time Tracker is 1) it's free for freelancers (up to two users), so perfect for my small studio and 2) IT'S FREE FOR FREELANCERS!

Let me walk you through a few of my favorite features:

1. The Dashboard. This is a quick overall look at my progress over a month's time span, as well as a comparison of recent company stats.

2. Milestones. You are able to set milestones (or, due dates, as us graphic designers like to call them) for each project, and then visually see your progress, and check them off as they are completed.

3. User Data. You can also view the overall statistic per user. As I mentioned above, the free version of Time Tracker allows for 2 users. To add additional users, you would have to invest in Premium Business Plan, for  less than $4 a month! (that's all, seriously?)

OK, so those are a few of my own favorite features. To be honest, I'm still testing some of the most effective ways to use this business source! Some of the other great features include alphabetized search listings by client or project, multiple report options, an easy-to-use time tracker, invoicing options (which I haven't explored yet), as well as online user log-in (so you can access it from any computer).

Have other questions about Paymo's Time Tracker? Take their tour! If you try this program out, please let me know what you think and what you favorite feature is!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Check out the latest Frederick-area Magazines!

As most of you may already know, the past few months have been busy, busy, busy here at Kalico headquarters! Two of our December projects can now be found on newstands, or feel free to read them online too! The Winter 2011 issue of Find It Frederick features stories about the area best hot cocoa, a horse rescue, maple syrup festival and much, much more.

Plus, the Winter issue of The Frederick County Guide (FCG) is also now available! A brand new client for us, FCG provides straightforward facts and interesting articles about real estate, banking, insurance, childcare, education, health care, senior living, and leisure activities in the Frederick area. It also includes detailed reference information about town offices, elected officials, and community services. Plus, don't miss the full calendar of events section on the back pages!

We love working on both these magazines and look forward to the Spring issues! Take a peak below to view the online versions of either magazine, or pick up your own copy at local Frederick locations!



Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Setting SMART Goals!

I recently attended a local Women's Networking lunch with the topic "Planning Your Business Goals for 2011", presented by Diane DeMarco of Marketing @ Work. Diane had a lot of great pointers including doing a SWOT analysis, setting a budget, and creating an action plan and timetable. One of the key points I took from the meeting was how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (because, really, is there any point in setting stupid goals…um, no.)

S.M.A.R.T Goals stand for:

Specific: Be as precise as possible. What do you want to achieve and within what time frame.
Measurable: How will you measure your success?
Achievable: Is this goal realistically attainable?
Relevant: How or Why is this goal important to the success of your company?
Timely: When do you hope to achieve each goal?

While you're working on your goals for the upcoming year, be sure to keep the S.M.A.R.T. goal formula in mind!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's A New Dawn, It's a New Day…It's a New Year!

Happy Belated New Year to all! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2011! I've already been busy with some exciting new projects and great clients—I hope this is a preview of  the year to come!

Luckily, I was able to take a winter vacation during the last week of 2010. (Yay!) During my time off, I managed to update the Kalico website with some new content and new work! Per tradition,  I also created a set of 2011 business and professional resolutions for Kalico Design. I am curious if anyone else did the same—I'd love to hear some of them!

I've listed my goals below, and I'm hoping to use this blog as a way to update my goals throughout the year and to catalog any successes and/or obstacles I may approach along the way. (plus, putting them in writing makes them, well, realer, somehow!) Without further adieu, here are Kalico's resolutions for the new year:

Kalico Resolutions:
  1. Get Smart Phone in order to be more accessible to clients while I'm out and about in meetings or on the road.
  2. Reformat the Kalico eNewsletter with content that will be more usable for clients. In addition, I will write a schedule for the eNews, and stick to it!
  3. Blog a minimum of 1 time per week, increasing blog traffic by 15%. Plus, better integrate my social media efforts like twitter and facebook with this blog, as well.
  4. Develop a self promo to use throughout the year targeting businesses in the health & wellness, organic, holistic and women-oriented industries.
  5. Participate in 1 tradeshow event as an exhibitor or speaker.
  6. Attend weekly networking lunches, plus go to a minimum of 2-3 additional networking events per month.
  7. Acquire 3-4 new clients in the health & wellness, organic, holistic or women-oriented industries.
  8. Set aside a minimum of 4 hours per week to work on Kalico business and marketing, preferably on Mondays or Fridays.
Well, that's a great start! I'm sure as the year goes on, I'll set a few additional goals as well. Have you written your business resolutions for 2011? What is your biggest goal and your biggest challenge for the year ahead?