Category Archives for Inspiration


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

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

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 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


I’ve been super drawn to photos of flowers these days. I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that spring is just around the corner, or if I’m just feeling flowery. Things around here have been super busy, but really good busy! I’ve got some really exciting projects I’ve been working on lately, and cannot wait to share them with you. But in the meantime, I had to stop in and tell you guys that I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and stop to smell the flowers, even if they’re just on Pinterest :)


07. February 2014 by Joanna
Categories: Inspiration, Life | 2 comments

Storyville Coffee Co. | Pikes Place, Seattle

We all have our things. You know the things I’m talking about- the things we do when we’re nervous. Some people pick at their fingers, some people twirl their hair or blink funny. Some people hide behind their phone. And me? My thing? Hiding behind my coffee cup. It’s like a security blanket. Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee, a lot. But I’m not one of those real coffee people. I put too much cream and sugar in my cup (something I often get dirty looks for) And I can’t taste much of a difference between light and dark roasts. I’m sure it’s there, but with the massive amounts of cream and sugar in my cup, it’s all the same to me. (Please don’t hate me coffee peeps!)

What I actually love about coffee, what makes me keep coming back to this caffeinated drink time and time again is how it makes me feel. The smell, the warmth coming through the cup and onto my hands, the way it looks, the routine of heading into the coffee shop in the morning and small chatting with the friendly baristas. That’s what I love. It’s this whole coffee culture that I’m a fan of.

So being that my husband and I were going to be up in Seattle, a city known for it’s delicious coffee (and the ability to cultivate the coffee culture experienced the world over) I was excited to visit the cute coffee shops that litter this place. I had heard about one in particular that recently opened up in Pikes Place, one of my favorite areas of Seattle. I was excited because although I love Pikes Place, I felt like I had seen all there was to see. I had already purchased my “First Starbucks” mug, seen the flying fish, and tasted far too many apple samples. So a new coffee shop sounded perfect.

So we headed to Storyville Coffee Co. to see what this new place was about. Long story short- I loved it. So much. I think it showed all over my face being that one of the guys working there commented on how excited and happy I looked when I walked in. So much for a cool poker face. You guys, this place was branding perfection. I mean, just take a look at their website and you’ll get it. The way they designed the space is so welcoming.You walk in, and instantly see coffee grinders. The counter is circular, so you don’t feel like the baristas are incredibly separated from you. It more seems like they happen to be making delicious coffee while hanging out with you in the space. Their tagline, “Love Everybody” shows through every detail. My husband and I were instantly greeted by a young fellow with a friendly smile and a handlebar mustache. Super hipster – but really, did you expect anything different? It’s a hip new coffee shop in Seattle… I mean… Anyways, he showed us around, asked what I normally drink. I confessed that I drink coffee with massive amounts of cream and sugar. It was like word vomit- he was the last person I wanted to tell about my non cool coffee person drinking habits. I was expecting to get a dirty look and be told something like, “our coffee is such amazing quality that you don’t need any cream or sugar.” To which I would pretend to agree while inside thinking how I really don’t care how good it is, I still want cream and sugar… But I received no snarky remark from smily mr. handlebar. He simply smiled and told me that they had really good handmade syrups with some great tasting flavors that he thought I would like. He also told us about the variety of warm, freshly baked treats they had for sale. As if I wasn’t sold already.

I ordered a non-fat latte. Nolan ordered an iced Americano and a cinnamon roll that I may or may not have made him order…

We sat down on a comfy seat near the fire place. Did I mention that it was cloudy and cold outside? It was, and this California girl was in heaven. They have these large windows that overlook the Elliot Bay and let in just the right amount of natural light. My latte was of course, Instagram worthy and the cinnamon roll was near perfection. It was gooey and warm – just the way it should be. I did put some Sugar in the Raw into my latte, but I tell you what- there was nothing I could do to ruin that thing. That was one of the best lattes I’ve ever had. I could actually taste the difference. If it wasn’t so expensive (for a cheap-o like me) I would have bought another one to take with me. We finished up our meal, chatted and shot the breeze with mr. handlebar. It was such a relaxing environment that I really wished I had brought my laptop so I could spend the rest of the day working there. But after about an hour of hang time in the shop we had to head out.

We said our goodbyes and thank you’s and headed down stairs, back to the bustling streets of Pikes Place. But even after leaving the shop Storyville was still blowing my branding mind. I looked over about a quarter mile down the road and saw the Storyville logo repeated on the side of a large building. No words, just symbols. “They are just too good,” I thought to myself. So, needless to say, this girl, who is in love with how coffee makes her feel is hooked on Storyville. I highly recommend going there if you’re ever in the Seattle area. Here’s their website. Here’s their Twitter. My one piece of advice? Order your own cinnamon roll. You won’t regret it.…

21. November 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Design, Inspiration, Life | 17 comments

New Work- Naftul Indie Fashion Lookbook

I just recently had the pleasure of creating this catalog for the amazing Naftul. She is an indie fashion designer with clothing that is literally what I would dream up if I could imagine the perfect wardrobe for myself. It’s fashionable, wearable and comfortable. I’m ALL for being comfy. And looking cute while feeling good? Yes please. Here is what Nataly (nickname Naftul) says about her clothing:

“All of the clothes I design are clothes that I would like to wear. So before I begin to sketch, I start with the fabric. I tend to stick with comfortable and airy textiles. I test out samples of the fabric in order know how to work with them and only then am I able to really get inspired. I start out by sketching the basic look of my design and then begin to work on the pattern. Once I have made my first complete concept design, I can begin to duplicate the garment and then sell it.”

She was a dream to work for- the whole process really felt effortless. It didn’t hurt that I could stare at these beautiful clothes all day- which made the entire process fun for me.

Check out the entire catalog on Issuu here.

You can check out her Etsy shop here, and leave her some love on her Facebook!

13. November 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Inspiration, My Work | 13 comments

Explore Your Daily Surroundings

Earlier this week, I had spent the entire morning working pretty hard. My brain was tired, there was more to do, but my head was in a fog. I didn’t feel like I was producing anything good so I took a little walk. I work in a little studio located in Downtown Burbank where there’s a variety of shops and restaurants. My plan was to head to this little furniture place, but when I walked past “Movie World” (as I do almost everyday after grabbing my morning coffee) something came over me, and I decided to go inside. The moment I looked around, I was stunned. The last thing I expected “Movie World” to have was walls full of books and retro posters. I got really excited and walked down the thin aisles and started pulling books off the shelves. I went through fashion magazines from the 1920s, chuckled at the “Microwave Cookbook” from the 50’s. (What a contrast to our food culture these days!) And being that Burbank is right in the center of the film industry, I found old movie scripts, press kits, and even stills taken on sets- like this Mary Poppins photo. It was magical. I love this pic. It in an odd way reminds me of who I want to be. I like being a lady, I like fashion and looking nice. But I also LOVE getting messy. I love the feeling that comes from having charcoal all over your clothes and face after a night spent drawing. I’m not naturally clean, organized or polished. And I feel like this photo reminds me it’s ok. To let loose and be myself. Mary Poppins, the woman who was “practically perfect in every way”, also got messy and had fun doing it.

I left the store spending just over $20 in used books and photos. I gathered inspiration for upcoming projects and bought some things just for myself. But I really left with an excitement knowing that this place is just a few doors down from my studio. So whenever I want a burst of inspiration, or need to clear my head- instead of heading to Pinterest I’m heading to Movie World!

Doing this made me think about the amazing things / places / people that surround us on a daily basis, but we never experience because we either don’t have the time or the bravery to. As I’ve written about before, going to new places and experiencing different things really brings a new perspective to your work and your life. Just this week I realized how easy it is for us to find these experiences without even leaving home. Pretty awesome!!

So my challenge to you is to explore your daily surroundings. Do you see the same person at your local coffee shop every morning? Say hi! Get to know them! Go into that random store by your office and see what’s inside. Head to the other side of town or visit a restaurant you’ve never been to. The possibilities are endless. But the point is to get out of your “zone” – and see the magic happen. Now go! Then come back and tell me what you did. I’d love to hear!!

Happy Wednesday friends!!…

30. October 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Design, Encouragement, Inspiration, Life | 9 comments

Designer Vaca | Palm Springs Recap

This past weekend I had the opportunity to head out to the desert with a bunch of lady graphic designers for Design Vaca. It’s a weekend where women from all over the country get together to relax, talk design, and get to know each other. I had the opportunity to go last year and learned so much. This year was different, but I still learned a ton and left feeling very inspired.

I compiled my pics from the weekend to show you some of the things I did while there. As I mentioned before, I was able to hang out with friends that I had made last year. It was so great to see what people are doing and how far they’ve come in just one year. I think one of the best things about events like these are the people you meet. So many talented ladies. Also, these two “mature” women were sitting outside near our hotel room every morning in their robes drinking coffee. They invited us to come sit with them and chat. These ladies were 80 and 81 years old- it amazed me how sharp they were and full of life. I want to be them when I grow up! Each day of the vaca we had a few panels get up and talk about different subjects. Promise asked me to be on one about work/life balance. And oh man was I nervous! I’m always very nervous leading up to things like this, but once we got going, I realized it was fine. I was happy to be able to share my thoughts on the subject and also hear what the other girls had to say about it. I had already been eating so much the days before being in the south. But the Ace and Palm Springs has so much yummy food, that I really couldn’t stop! Meg Long and I drove home together, and she introduced me to the “date shake” at Hadley Fruit Orchards. She told me it was a tradition for her to stop and get one on the way home from Palm Springs. I think it just might have to become mine as well.

The whole trip was really inspiring. I loved meeting new friends and hearing about the awesome things everyone is up to. We talked about next steps in our careers, fears we had, and what we had learned this past year. I am so excited to see where life takes each and every one of these ladies. We’re all just doing our best out there, faking it along the way.

Have a great rest of your week friends!


Photos cred: Liz Grant, srslyliz 

03. October 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Design, Inspiration, Life | 10 comments

Free to Create

We all have our own little worlds. The ones that we live in everyday. We know the weather, the people, the food, the smells, and we know how to interact with it. But sometimes we step out of these words, and into another. Different weather, people, food, smells, having no idea how to get anywhere (thank you iphone!) or what’s behind the next turn. We see that the world is a much bigger place- that it doesn’t revolve around us at all. And that is freeing.

I’ve been on the road this past week, wandered states I’ve never spent any time in before, and I feel so great. It’s been awhile since I’ve really been able to explore another place I’ve never been to. I’ve forgotten how amazing it is. I can feel my self embracing the small moments, listening a bit closer to the words the people are saying. I’m tasting, feeling, and experiencing so much more- just because I don’t know what to expect. It’s awesome.

It’s hard to get out of our own heads at the end of the day when life is stressful. I personally suffer from a “the world revolves around me” complex. I always make it about myself. When deep down I know- I’m not that big of a deal!! There is a big world out there with billions of people and billions of things happening. It’s not about me.

I feel so free after traveling to a new place. Free to create, free to mess up, free to listen harder to the raindrops, free to live my life with passion. It’s so important especially as a creative to get out of our comfort zones and surround ourselves with the unfamiliar.

I’m so thankful for this little trip of mine. And it’s not over yet- up next, Palm Springs!

Have a great week you guys, go explore this great big world we live in.…

25. September 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement, Inspiration, Life | 4 comments

Taking A Break


Hey you guys! This post is long overdue, seeing as I haven’t posted on here once for a week and a half now! I’m writing to tell you guys that I will be taking some time off of this blog for the summer to think through a few things and spend more time focusing on my work and enjoying the sunshine. I’ll still get on here every so often (I don’t have a set plan here) but won’t be posting on a consistant basis. I will try to be on Instagram and Facebook more often so we can still keep in touch.

Blogging is something I started a long time ago when I was studying art abroad in Europe. It was a place for me to record my thoughts, my wanderings and adventures. Becoming a graphic designer opened me up to this huge world of blogs, and I’ve tried to use mine as apart of a business venture. It’s been amazing, but boy if you want to do it right it takes a lot of time and effort! Which is great- but for me it’s time to take a break. I’m trying to get in touch with that girl I knew in art school. She was thoughtful, intentional, and she was free. She was not perfect, and she was ok with that. I feel as if over my journey of becoming an adult I’ve really lost touch with an important side of me. The side that longs to feel the breeze on my face and desires adventure in the everyday simples. So I’m taking a break. Trying to use this time to reconnect with real life.

I hope this encourages you in some way. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Go with your gut and stay true to yourself. This is something I’m really trying to learn to do more of, and me taking a break from blogging is doing just that. It’s a bit scary, but I think it’s worth it. I recently watched this video that really encouraged me to be vulnerable and stop feeling shameful for who I am and the things I’ve been feeling. I really recommend you watch it when you have some time.

So- thanks for sticking with me you guys. As I said I’ll be on here every so often, so Twitter, Facebook and Instagram would be places to look for updates. You can also sign up for the email list for a few personal notes I’ll be writing in there.

Thanks again friends.…

19. June 2013 by Joanna
Categories: Encouragement, Inspiration, Life | 11 comments

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