This was originally posted on The Yellow Conference blog. Being that this is a huge piece of my story, I felt I needed to repost it on here. For the original post, see here.

Well ladies, we worked our booties off. We cried, we shouted, we laughed, we smiled, we got angry and we got happy. All of these things happened throughout this past month of our Kickstarter. And you know what? It failed.


I (Joanna) really believed we could make this happen. I know we were trying to raise a lot of money, but I really believed deep down that we had the power to do this, if only we worked hard enough. When I first realized this maybe wasn’t going to happen, it was really hard. I had migraines, got sick, cried a lot and felt extremely embarrassed and vulnerable. I just couldn’t take the thought that this thing I had poured so much of myself into, this thing that I believed in so strongly could fail.

If you and I were sitting and chatting over a cup of coffee, I would look you in the eyes and tell you at this moment, today, I’m ok, and that would be an honest answer. I’m actually more than ok. I feel really good right now. Ready to regroup and excited to celebrate this failure.

I had a mentor of mine sit down with me the other day, and after I told her that I was feeling really embarrassed for everyone to see this thing fail, she said to me, “Oh honey. You can not waste your energy on that. This will one of many failures that will happen in your life. It’s all apart of being an entrepreneur.” BAM.

Failures do not define us. These things that don’t succeed do not create our identity. We are more than what we do, and we can move on from failures and learn! One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown comes to mind when I write this.

In the scene below, the main character has just been fired from his job because he invented a shoe design that lost the company over a BILLION dollars. See below:

My favorite quote from this scene: “You want to be really great? Then have the courage to FAIL BIG and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling. That’s true greatness to me.” What a great reminder, and a great encouragement to us all!

The reason I want to talk about our Kickstarter failing is because I want YOU to see that yes, this failed, and look, it’s ok! You can fail to! Let’s talk about our failures and learn from them. Let’s be open about the fact that this stuff we are trying to do is not easy. And let’s encourage each other to continue to take risks, be brave and know that even if you do fail- things are going to be ok. It’s what you learn along the way that will really make you great.

How often do you see inspirational quotes on Pinterest talking about failure? I see them all the time. But how often do you see people actually talking about their personal or business failures? Those you rarely see. So I want to talk about this and be completely open about the things learned along the way.

This Kickstarter may have failed, but this project is not a failure. We have learned A TON and we are not done here. We are regrouping, re-strategizing, and figuring out what’s next. The Yellow Room is still happening, it’s just a matter of when, where and how. Stay tuned. We’re not finished yet.

We had brunch as a Yellow team last weekend and decided that we needed to celebrate this failure. So because of that we are going to have a #freetofail party this Friday night- and you’re invited! Nothing fancy, just a hangout, closure and celebration of the end of our Kickstarter campaign. We would love to have you join us.


Space is limited, so if you’d like to come, RSVP here and let us know you’re coming.

Thank you to every single person who backed our Kickstarter. And thank you to everyone who posted about it on social media, talked to friends or sent an encouraging email or text. Every single one of you is apart of what we’re doing.

We’re not done ladies. Stay tuned.


07. May 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement, Inspiration, Life | Leave a comment

Purpose, Direction, and Talking to My Past Self


It’s funny to think about how your past can effect your future. I talk to a lot of women who are unsatisfied with where they are at in life. They hate their job, feel purposeless and are lacking direction. I’ve definitely been there before.

I’m thankful to say that at this point in my life I don’t feel that. But, if I could travel time and go back to that girl who felt like she wasn’t making any progress, I would tell her that the skills she is learning, those connections she is making, and the people she is helping, those will have a significant impact on her future. I wouldn’t be in a place where I feel I have direction and purpose if it wasn’t for the things I learned in those times of questioning.

For example, I spent a lot of time and energy learning how to be a better designer and how to run a small one-lady business. Although I felt like I was going nowhere with it, the skills that I learned both through branding countless other businesses as well as working on my own gave me the experience I needed when it came to creating The Yellow Conference. I knew what it took to run a small business and I knew how to brand one! Boom. Two things I needed to help me create Yellow. If it weren’t for my previous experience doing those things- I would have had to start from square one! Although I didn’t have a clear direction on where I was going- I was still learning.


So, this is going out to all of you ladies (and gents) who aren’t sure if you’re in the right place. Remember- you don’t know what the future holds. You may feel like you lack purpose, but that is just a lie. Just because you don’t feel inspired everyday doesn’t mean that you aren’t working towards anything. Embrace where you are. Learn all you can. Make friends and keep them. Because when you do find what it is you want, these things will help you. You never know!


We don’t know what our futures hold. All we have is the present. So make the most of it. Do your best, even if you feel purposeless. Because you never know how the actions you take now will help you out later in life. Don’t be discouraged. Be thankful, live in the moment, and always do your best.

So, I have a little challenge for you, since I’ve been liking those lately. This week, write down three things you are thankful for and three skills you want to focus on developing while you’re in this phase of life. Because again, you never know how you will be able to use those in the future.

Photos by Elle Wildhagen taken at the Yellow Leadership Weekend.

01. May 2015 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement | Leave a comment

New Work: Ashley Brooke Designs

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any graphic design work on here! But I recently finished up this huge web project and wanted to show it off! Full e commerce, responsive, and full width site. ABD hadn’t had a web redesign for almost 5 years! I thought it would be fun to do a little Weight Watchers “Before and After” style. See below:

This is what the site looked like before…

We took Ashley’s personality-filled products, fashionable wardrobe, positive brand and upbeat personality, mushed it all together and brought it into visual form! Her old site really just didn’t do justice to all that Ashley does and who she is as a brand. This website was meant to fix that. And I think we did!

Here’s the after! ( oooh!! ahhh!! )

Much more fun, upbeat, colorful and positive. Just like Ashley herself and her products.

Here’s a pic from Ashley’s blog of the site on the iPad…

We also did a completely custom responsive site which is fun and brings in a whole new dimension to the site on your phone.

You can check it out at ashleybrookedesigns.com and purchase one of their fun products for your girlfriends for Christmas!

Happy Wednesday

18. November 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Design, My Work | Leave a comment

#WaterfallTrippin Austin

So earlier this month, my husband and I ventured out on a 2 week trip to the Southeast. We didn’t have much planned, rode the Megabus, and had the intention of being spontaneous, which is my favorite kind of trip :)

Our trip started out in Dallas, TX. I was there for the Circles Conference, (which was awesome!) Nolan flew out there and met me. We hopped on the Megabus and headed to Austin!

Apparently it’s impossible for us to take a normal picture together. So these will have to do. We were just really excited to be starting our adventure.

I did this thing throughout our trip where I took photos of Nolan sleeping in almost every room we stayed in. The lighting is just too good in the morning not to take a pic! Sorry if it’s weird.

We stayed at the lovely Becky Murphy‘s house in Austin. We were only there for one night so it was a quick trip. We had delicious BBQ at Stubs the night we got in. Nolan was excited because he used to eat their BBQ sauce as a kid. The next morning we managed to get some great coffee by the river at Mozart’s (gorgeous coffee shop by the lake), took a swim in the river, and hung out there reading until it was time to leave. Austin is a super cool city. It’s an eclectic mix of artsy, nature, city, and history, as it is the capital of Texas. Nolan and I decided we want to live there at some point in our lives.

After Austin we hopped back on the Megabus and rode through the night to arrive in New Orleans in the morning.

It was freezing cold on the bus and we were not prepared. We also did not eat dinner due to a small crisis we had in missing a bus (long story) and having to Uber our way to San Antonio to catch our connecting bus to NOLA. So when we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowheresville at 2am I devoured a hot dog. Yes, one of those greasy things spinning in the warm case for who knows how long. I ate one. It may sound crazy, but when I saw it spinning in that glass box, I was drooling. I had to get one. It was a low point.

We also bought a jug of water cause we were super thirsty. Obviously we had to document this with a selfie.

Oh the adventures of bus travel! I’ll get back over here soon to write about our time in NOLA. Happy Tuesday!!

21. October 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Life | Leave a comment

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery.

It’s funny as a creative how much my surroundings have an impact on my work and what I produce. I’m the kind of person who cannot work in the same space 5 days a week without feeling tired and unproductive. When I’m able to change up my scenery a bit- even if I’m still in my office but I’m facing a different direction, I notice it has a huge impact on my motivation levels. Something in seeing the world from a different lens, taking in something you haven’t seen from that angle before, it allows my mind to think more clearly.

This week I’m in Dallas, Texas at The Circles Conference. We just finished up day 1 and I can’t tell you how cool it is to be able to sit back and soak in the inspiration after spending all last month working on my own conference! I noticed that the moment I got to the airport and was sitting at my gate (I like to arrive to flights very early..) the motivation to get stuff done kicked in major and has not stopped since. The entire plane ride I was writing down idea after idea of things I wanted to do, the inspiration was just flowing from me.

I’m not sure if it was the excitement of being in the airport, or if it was the fact that I was excited to attend Circles, but I can tell you that motivation was coming out of me in a way it rarely does.

After Circles, my husband is flying and meeting me in Dallas and we are embarking on a 2 week bus adventure through the Southern States and East Cost. We’re taking the Megabus to Austin, New Orleans, Alabama, Atlanta, Washington DC, ending in Richmond, and our plans are very minimal. We don’t actually know where we are staying in some of these places so if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know! I’m so excited to tour this part of the country I rarely get to, but I’m really most excited to just be placed in different areas and different circumstances, meeting new people and to see what comes of it.

I’m writing this post because in thinking of how much being in different circumstances motivates me, I want to encourage you to head out of your normal view. Wether it’s something as simple as turning your desk in another direction, or working from a new coffee shop in your neighborhood, get out of your norm, and see what happens. Us creatives have to switch it up!!

Just some thoughts from me to you!! Trying to get back in the groove of this blogging thing :) Have a good one peeps!

19. September 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Inspiration, Life | 2 comments

Starting A Business? Let’s Talk.

It’s official! I’ve finally got my new Waterfall Creative site up, with a totally different structure and process.

Let me tell you a little story. In a frantic spur of the moment decision earlier this year I took down my portfolio site and placed up a splash page saying something to the effect of, ” stay tuned, something cool is coming.” I knew I wanted to take a different direction with my graphic design business but just wasn’t sure how to go about it. I worked on Yellow Conference stuff and I worked on graphics, with most of my projects taking longer than they should have, with really no consistent process – as all of my clients were so different. This left me and my clients tired, confused and feeling more scatterbrained than usual. I knew there had to be another way!! 😉

Bring in the new Waterfall Creative. I’ve finally taken what I do best and taken out what I’m not so good at. I’ve streamlined my branding process so I can still create awesome looking brands for clients, but going into it, the expectations on both sides are much more clear. I really have a heart for startups, the people who are starting their dream business. So this is who I’m targeting with this new model. I honestly believe deep down in my designer soul that visual branding plays a HUGE part in the initial success of a business. It shows the world that you are legit. You’re not here to play games and you take yourself and your business seriously. You only get one first impression, and you want it to be a good one. It fills my heart to help others pursue and live out their dreams. The new Waterfall Creative is here to make that happen.

So, with that, I’m working on specific terms. I want to get your branding done affordably and quickly. Here’s how we’re going to do it:

1 / Three logo Options. Two rounds of revisions. That’s it! I have you fill out a detailed questionnaire, as well as create a Pinterest board filled with visuals you want your brand to emulate. We will also have a Skype session to chat about what you’re looking for before getting started. This is so I can do my best to NAIL it the first time. I will send you three logo choices, so you do have some options. But ideally, you won’t need any changes as we will be SO on the same page before visuals have even started to be created. So two revisions should be plenty :)

2 / Deadlines. For you, and for me. If I send you 3 logos, and don’t hear back from you for a month, the project loses a lot of traction, and it’s really hard for me to pick back up where I left off creatively. So… you have a deadline on when you can get back to me, and vise versa. This keeps both my head and yours in the game, continually moving forward.

3 / For Websites, I’m using WordPress Templates only. In today’s digital age, there are so many amazing templates that have been created by awesome programmers. I’ve made the decision to only use templates for client websites for 2 reasons. 1- They are much less expensive and go so much faster than creating a custom site (perfect for startup budgets!) 2- They are easily customizable so you can continue to update your site on your own after we are done working together. All it takes is some basic WordPress knowledge (no html required) and you can feel full ownership over your site, without the hassle of going through a middleman and paying extra bucks to make small changes. So, it’s cheaper, easily updateable, and much faster than creating a completely custom site. Now, this isn’t for everyone- some sites might need to have custom functions and a template won’t work. But for most of the small businesses that I work with, it’s the best way to go.

So there you have it! I cannot wait to get started! If you’re interested or have any other questions, shoot an email over to info@waterfall-creative.com. Looking forward to chatting friends!

09. September 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Design, My Work | 2 comments

What I Learned from Putting on The Yellow Conference + Other Things

Hey guys!! What an exciting few weeks this has been for me. First off, Yellow Conference happened last week! It’s crazy to think that this idea I had in the shower turned into an actual thing that people showed up to, enjoyed themselves, and learned a ton! It honestly is so empowering to see thoughts and words, these things that we cannot touch, turn into something tangible and real. It makes me think harder about the power of our thoughts and words, how we don’t give them enough credit. We think that because we can’t touch them, they don’t mean as much as the tangible. But my goodness, look at what my thoughts and words (combined with an amazing team’s thoughts and words) turned into! 

I’ve learned so much about myself and creating through this process. I’m a bullet points fan, so here are a few bullet points summarizing my biggest takeaways from organizing this thing.

~ Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration. Being a freelance graphic designer, I’ve gotten so used to working by myself, communicating with people mainly through email, and interacting with just a select few on a daily basis. But the best work happens when you collaborate with people you trust, who care just as much about your vision as you do. My girl Alex Michael May from Beautilitarian was my right hand lady throughout this process. She has amazing ideas, cared about the outcome, and worked her booty off to make The Yellow Conference spectacular. My office mate, Marina Terteryan was another person who had a huge hand in the conference. She took Alex and I’s crazy ideas, brought us back down to earth and practically thought through the details we needed to nail in order to make these ideas come to life. Without these ladies collaborating with me, Yellow would not have been the same. So I’ll say it again, don’t underestimate the power of collaboration! As much as you think you can do it all by yourself, it will be that much better if you bring in the right people.

~ On a daily basis, don’t focus on the big picture. This might sound strange to some of you, but it’s something that really helped me get through the daily to-do list. Don’t get me wrong, the big picture is what Yellow is ALL about. BUT- there are tons of little things that need to be done in order to make that big picture happen. So I put my head down, crossed as many things as I could off my daily to-do list, and kept going. If I stopped to think about what was actually happening (over 150 women coming to this event that I was putting on) I became super overwhelmed with a mix of stressed emotions. So instead, I focused on the small tasks that needed to be done- and watched the big picture come together on it’s own the 2 days of the conference. Start with a big picture idea, but on the daily, put your head down and work!

~ Approach your work with a fresh mind. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people saying that this conference blew a lot of conferences that had been going on for years out of the water. One thing I think that happens in any industry, is that we become used to the way things are and have been done for years. It’s hard to step out of what you know and have been doing. It’s hard to think outside the template you’ve been using. One thing that I think really helped this conference stand out was the fact that I had NEVER done anything remotely close to this before. I didn’t know what was normal, and had only been to one real conference in my life. So I made it up! Coming in with a fresh mind can help creativity thrive and allow you to stand out from the competition. If you’ve been doing the same thing for years, try forgetting what you know and approach it from a new perspective. What would you do if you had never done this before?

~ Don’t overthink anything. Just do it. The moment I started thinking too hard about something, it would never get done. Go with your gut reaction and feeling- you know your brand and your business. Make a decision and get moving. Nothing was ever accomplished by thinking too hard. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know what I was going to say in an email to someone, but I figured it out as I started typing. This doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, I just need to keep moving forward to get anything done.

~ End every event with a bonfire + live music. Because s’mores. And ocean.

~ Last one. Care about your people and see them as the amazingly smart, beautiful and talented human beings they actually are. This is key. Too many business owners think their audience is dumb and won’t notice things. This is NOOT true. People can smell lies from a mile away. They can tell if something was half-assed. They are smart. Treat them that way. Transparency is key. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you have something to offer, share it! Treat them as you would treat your best friends and they will keep coming back. But don’t do it for that reason- do it because they are humans and they deserve to be treated well.

That being said- I have a little secret for you guys that I’m not announcing anywhere else until Monday.

I have re-launched Waterfall Creative! It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been re-working things behind the scenes, have new people I’m working with, and have streamlined my branding process so it works well for startups and myself while I now balance 2 businesses. I will announce more info about it next week, but the main differences are I’m now just working with WordPress templates instead of with a programmer. It makes it less expensive for clients and honestly, less hassle on my end. I’ve been using templates for my sites for a few years now, so why would I not use them for clients? I’ve also made it so you can go through the process quickly and affordably. There are 3 packages to choose from– each catering to different client needs. It’s quicker, so clients don’t get as many revisions and need to be decisive- fair warning!!

But I wanted to let you faithful blog readers be the first to know about my relaunch. To thank you for sticking around here, I’m giving the first 5 people who book with one of the 3 new packages 25% off their package price. I’m now opening up slots to start in October. So shoot me an email at joanna@waterfall-creative.com and be one of the first 5 to book!! I hope this helps out those who are working on their dreams and need a brand on a budget. That’s my goal with this!! Looking forward to hearing from you!!

Thank you again for being amazing. Your support has just filled me up, and I’m so thankful for this tribe of women world changers who are shaking up the world for good. Have a great weekend ladies!! Enjoy it.

Photos by: Joanne Pio, Brienne Michelle Photography, SmileboothTake Heart Creative, Chelsy Walker. Furniture by Found Rentals. Florals by La Fluer Kitchen, Chalkboard art by Little Cat Design Co.

05. September 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Inspiration, Life, My Work, Yellow Conference | 16 comments

Checking In

Hey friends. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here! Since launching the Yellow Conference and running that whole shebang, I’ve def put my blog to the side.

I can tell you that life these past few months has had a lot of ups and downs. There’s been some great things that have happened, and some really hard things. Seems like life is just like that. I feel as if I’m in a real transition phase right now. I’m really growing and learning so much about myself and where I want to head with my life. It feels good- but there sure are growing pains!

I’ve had a taste of what I can do with The Yellow Conference and my creative juices are totally flowing on that end. Ideas are coming easily and I’m very motivated on that front. On my graphic design/business end, it’s been taking a lot more discipline for me. I know that creatives struggle often with this. We’re emotional beings, constantly looking for fulfilment and inspiration. Work doesn’t always get us there- but when it does, it’s so good. We get a taste of that and think it should be like that all of the time. I’ve had to just accept the fact that it’s not always like that. Work takes WORK. Even when you’re doing what you love.

These are just some things I’ve been learning lately.

This summer is going to be very busy- all good things that I’m truly looking forward to. I will check in here as often as I can! Just wanted to tell you that I’m still kicking, learning and growing a ton, and am very thankful for all that’s happening in my life, even the tough stuff.

Have a great weekend friends! Enjoy it to the fullest :)

27. June 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Life | 2 comments

New Work: Lily Schlosser Fashion Blog

I recently finished up a new blog / brand design for the adorable Lily Schlosser. Lily is a fashion blogger who has a cute/casual style which I am so drawn to. This girl can dress up a vintage sweater with some boots and jeans like no one else. Her natural look and approachable style made me instantly drawn to her- I was so excited when I got her email and started looking through her blog. I knew we had to work together!

Lily needed a brand to match her style. Being that she is approachable and embraces imperfections, I knew a hand done logo would be perfect for her. Something simple and elegant without needing to feel perfect.

We came up with a monochromatic color palette, with a hit of mustard yellow to get her personality in there. The flower petal marks on each end of the logo represented the light hearted spirit of her blog- and have the ability to be used elsewhere throughout the brand.

After creating the brand, we brought the look onto her blog. We wanted to really show off her photos, so bringing in the simple and clean look to the site was very important.

Lily really wanted her blog to feel personal, and the small boot icon I created really was a signature mark of her style. We decided to incorporate the boot and her signature into a small icon that is now used at the end of each of her blog posts. To give her posts the approachable and personal feel that she writes with. I think it turned out really cute!
You can check out the live blogsite here. And definitely keep following Lily’s blog- she’s got some awesome things going over there! We maaay even have another project in the works… stay tuned!!!

Happy Friday Friends!!!

PS- if you didn’t catch it, registration for The Yellow Conference is up and running! Check it one time.

21. March 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Design, My Work | 8 comments

Portrait Time

It’s been too long since I’ve been on here. Last week I had an amazing time on vacation with my husband and two friends of ours. We went on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean and saw some of the most beautiful beaches I think I’ve ever seen. I will definitely be posting about that here soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share with you these photos that my talented friend Joanne Pio took of me awhile back. We went to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz- which was awesome if you’re ever in the area. It’s not often I like photos of myself, I’m super awkward in front of a camera (like red in the face I don’t know what to do with my hands status) but she did such a good job capturing a few moments from our lovely coffee time together I had to share them with you. 
Happy Wednesday friends!

12. March 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Life | 21 comments

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