// for creatives who mean business

When the World Needs More Love Letters…

One of my favourite holiday campaigns is More Love Letters – an incredible organization that helps strangers request and write love letters to someone who needs one. I’m sharing Cody’s story today:

“Cody is the most selfless and giving person I know”, writes his good friend. He is the Captain at a fire department, as well as a police officer, and goes above and beyond to help people outside of work. He spends most of his time striving to help others and save lives.

His friend writes; “he saved my life almost 10 years ago”. He is selfless and full of good heart for others, but Cody, in his positions, rarely gets a thank-you that his heart deserves.

Lately, Cody has been through a lot and has fallen a little lost. Let us remind him just how thankful we are for him, and just how much he is loved by perfect strangers. There is still good to be spread in the word, let’s be a part of that with Cody.”

The news has been full of hard things happening to normal people lately, and it’s a time of year that lends its self beautifully to helping others.

Before December 19th, join me in sending Cody a note of encouragement.

Free Printable 2015 Desk Calendars for Creative Types

If you love organization, Pinterest is really fun rabbit hole to fall down. If you love anything, or feel human emotion, Pinterest is a really fun rabbit hole to fall down. While I use digital and paper tools, I love having a small calendar around for reference and Pinterest has a huge selection to browse through.

These are my favourite 2015 desk calendars and monthly planners for anyone looking to start the new year with a little more organization and beauty in their work life.


A clean and bright printable calendar that’s ready to tackle your life from Today’s Creative Blog

2015 printable desk calendar seasonal

Love vs. Design has a full colour year on a page that worth emptying the office’s colour cartridge!

(I mean, we have no idea who did that either.)

Beloved Mini 2015 Printable Calendars

Want something small that packs a lot of pattern? Angie Hinksman has you covered.

Weekly Links & Goals can’t wait for the next Serial episode either (no. 62)


Just Be posted by Cody Small on Behance

Just Be posted by Cody Small on Behance

✚ If you’re all burned out on creative ideas use this this trick from The Middle Finger Project to short circuit yourself back into the zone.

✚ Girl Scout cookie sales are moving online! Girl Scout cookie sales are moving online!! I mean, I love salad.

✚ Are you going to be alone these holidays? Missing someone you love, or someone you lost? Get through the holidays in one piece, no matter how you’re spending them.

✚ Have you been holding back from being active because you feel guilty or like you’re behind? Yoga doesn’t care – and neither does spin class, your treadmill, or gym. Stop rationalizing, and start acting!

Why we’ve closed Freckled Nest Design (& what’s next!)

For the past five years I’ve been the co-owner and Managing Director of Freckled Nest Design. While we’ve talked about different possible futures before, the decision to end our partnership and close the company we built together started with a simple comment by Leigh-Ann at the end of a conversation this fall.

“I guess at some point we should have the conversation about if we’re building one company, or if we’re building two separate businesses.”

My response was immediate.


As soon as the words were out of my mouth I was instantly annoyed, since I’ve learned that when I have a knee jerk reaction to anything it’s because there’s something bigger there to look at. While we’d talked about our professional futures – together and separate – many times before, it was still a big adjustment to think about working in a different way.

After a lot of thinking, talking, laugher (and some tears), today Leigh-Ann and I are happy to be past the hard part of adjusting. We want to share that we’ve decided to end our partnership on a high note, with a lot of friendship, respect and fabulous memories.


Five years of Freckled Nest Design

The “Freckled Nest” part of our business name came from the name of Leigh-Ann’s blog (that you can still read), where she taught online and started her freelance design work. She invited me to join her as a designer in early 2009, along with Moorea Seal (who has gone on to take over the internet!). By the end of 2010 I’d quit my full time job, then the part time job that topped up my income, and we’d rented a beautiful studio downtown. In the first months of 2011, Leigh-Ann decided that she needed more of my technical and business know-how, and invited me to become Managing Director & an owner.

After reading her blog and looking up to her as a mentor, working alongside her was a dream. I had always wanted to work for myself, but getting there seemed murky and impossible. Having my friend there with me as I took it on made it seem less scary and more like an interesting puzzle for us to solve, together.

In the past years, we’ve both learned and gained so much experience together, and I’m thankful for that every day. As Creative Director and a designer to her clients, Leigh-Ann’s talent has blown me away since I met her. Her enthusiasm, passion, and energy are otherworldly. Hands down. Just in this last year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing her skills grow at an exponential rate as she upgrades her graphic design training and I can’t wait to see what she dreams up next.


Making the tough decision

As much as I’ve loved being a partner in Freckled Nest Design, for the past several years my role was to run the day-to-day business of the company, in addition to the design work that pays my bills, and it’s been demanding. My client work and online courses have always been completely separate from Leigh-Ann’s, to the point that we’re essentially two freelancers working under one name – and that’s worked well for both of us for a long time, even if it’s confused our accountants.

(Leigh-Ann’s accountant last year at tax time asked us again, “Wait, HOW is this a partnership?”. Because we said so, that’s how!)

The responsibility and challenges have been fun and interesting but even when everything was working seamlessly, the amount of time and effort that I needed to sustain it was high. Especially because at the end of the day, there were two decision makers. As Leigh-Ann has discovered that one-on-one design work is her speciality, I’ve realized how much I love helping bloggers grow their blogs into businesses and create systems that work for them, how much I want to teach online and that I want to write more.

So this fall, when Leigh-Ann asked if we were building one company or two, I realized that both were choices and I needed to choose.

Either I could keep putting my time and energy into running Freckled Nest Design for Leigh-Ann and I and have little leftover for my clients, or I could do the scary thing and end the partnership so I can build something that lets me focus on what I love even more.

Being able to do more of what I love lights me up & terrifies me at the same time. It’s electric. If I've learned anything, it's to trust and run toward that feeling as hard as I can. [Kyla Roma]

Helping people lights me up. I love hearing your ideas, helping you spin them out in new ways, and discover how they can help you pay your rent or mortgage. It’s an honour to me, and a responsibility that I take seriously – and I realized that now is the time to double down on my commitment, and on my follow through.


So how do you leave a job you love and end a business partnership with your best friend?

Should I just state the obvious first? Carefully!

Kidding aside, we’ve tried to do this with a huge amount of love and care. I’ve treated Leigh-Ann how I wanted to be treated, and because Leigh-Ann is phenomenal, she’s done the same.

When all was said and done, we made all the decisions about how we would end the partnership in two afternoons. And then we went for Mexican food, caught up, and laughed too loud.

Just like always, only better, because we knew that soon we’d get to enjoy our friendship without any of the pressure of deadlines and decisions.

If you’d like more details, to help explain the full story of the split we’ve recorded a podcast style interview that you can stream or download here.


What’s next for me

Spoiler alert: you’ve already found it! What’s next for me is making what I do for a living available at KylaRoma.com, and recommitting to being here for you.

The company that I’ll use for my work is called Kyla Roma Creative, but everything is right here – and I’ve updated the design of the blog and website, so come look around!

This is what I’m working on now:
  • I’ve started a free community called the Daring Creative Workshop for anyone who wants to grow their blog into a business and live a creative life that feels fabulous. Right now it’s a seed of where it’s going – but that means there’s lots of one-on-one contact with me, and you can be one of the first members of the community!

Weekly Links + Goals… no. 61

Links and Goals

Hello lovelies! This week I’m changing the format of Friday Finds to Weekend Links & Goals. Every Saturday I’ll share my favourite resources from the week on blogging, business, and living a creative life that feels amazing – and now there will be a section where I invite you to share what you want to accomplish in the coming week, and report on how the following week’s progress went. I’ll do the same & we’ll win at life together, deal?

Bring on the link goodness…

✖ If your creativity is sapped & you’re fresh out of ideas Ash Ambirge has a fun formula for getting your mojo back

✖ If you have policies on your website or offer a service to clients, you should read Alexandra Franzen’s take on how to craft ones that will make you life and business better.

✖ Love the idea of a gratitude journal but hate, you know, actually doing it? Try this instead.

✖ Productivity tips from the busiest people Fast Company could find. (The last one is my personal favourite)

✖ Read this if you’re feeling alone during the holidays.

✖ Could you make a twitter list of “people who antagonize me” in the drop of a hat? Check out how trashing other people (even in your own head!) holds you back.

✖ Reality check your negativity with these 3 quick tips for a more positive outlook.



Last week:

 Launch the new KylaRoma.com.  I’ve been working on re-positioning my blog to serve as my full time work HQ, and it’s finally done! If you need me, I’m going to be napping while I recover.

This week:

Officially announce the new KylaRoma.com & the new Freckled Nest Design. (You’ve been getting a sneak peek!)

Watch these numbers to grow your blog & business without going crazy

When I first started growing my blog to support my web design work in 2009 I felt lost and awkward. I had no idea what would help me get clients, what would make someone feel comfortable enough to work with me, let alone what would make them come back or refer their friends to me.

I was enthusiastic and had a lot of knowledge, but you can’t show that to anyone until they find you.

It’s easy to feel like your tiny website is going to stay lost in internet limbo unless someone who’s already successful discovers you.

Watch These Numbers to Grow Your Blog and Business by Kyla Roma

While that can’t hurt, there is no one handing out wands and creating blogging fairy godmothers. And even if there were, there’s no fairy godmother section on your business plan or editorial calendar.

When it comes to growing your blog or business in a meaningful way, you don’t want to hope for a fluke high traffic day that’s gone as fast as it arrived. You want to track slow and steady growth without beating yourself up about the numbers.

So what should we pay attention to?

The past years of hands on experience – plus wearing out my library card and amazon delivery service  – have taught me a lot about online business and strategy. I’ve taken courses, attended conferences, and have been lucky enough to have conversations with really smart people.

What’s been truly transformative for me is being behind the scenes in hundreds of businesses as a designer and consultant. Before I can help anyone improve their online world I have to understand it, so I’ve had the opportunity to see a huge variety of healthy online businesses.

While some of them have thousands of people waiting to hear from them every week, most have small blogs that provide a great positive impact through a product or service that they provide. And those blogs and businesses – including my own – support families, pay for rent or mortgages, without the comment count or posting frequency that we imagine a “successful blog” has when you use lifestyle blogging standards.

Friday Finds know you’ll move mountains (no. 60)

Friday Finds

image by itsaliving via Pinterest

image by itsaliving via Pinterest

Links about creativity, living fully & getting things done:

11 Extensions To Power Up Your Gmail Productivity

✖ Live like You’re Dying (and Find Time for the Things That Matter)

The truth, wisdom and lessons of your jealousy.

One of the most uncomfortable emotions has got to be jealousy. Any time I feel it, I react like I’ve touched a hot stove, and suddenly all I can hear is, “Oh great, here we go!” and “AREN’T YOU BEYOND THIS? COME ON!”

In the online world, jealousy is always around the corner. There’s always someone who owns things that we can’t afford, someone getting a book deal, or someone who’s a little further in their career or skills than we are. If your emotional immune system isn’t at the top of its game, you can start out on Pinterest and end up with a witches brew of self loathing in less than an hour.

What a relief, to let jealousy lead you to whaty ou creave instead of resisting while it burns you to the ground (via Kyla Roma)

Several months ago there was an episode of the Design*Sponge podcast that talked about using jealousy as a positive tool to motivate you to action, instead of treating it like a nuclear weapon, and it sparked some great insights for me. In case you haven’t listened, you can read more about it and listen to Grace Bonney’s explanation here.

When jealousy is sparked in us, we make the feeling about who or what triggered it. Jealousy becomes about people who can afford a trip we can’t take or who go to the conference we can’t attend.

What if instead of letting your jealousy curdle, you let it lead you to what you deeply crave?

Instead of letting its heat turn you to ashes, what if you let your jealousy burn a path to the parts of your life that have been neglected so you can make your own life better?

Friday Finds don’t care about the competition (no. 60)

Friday Finds


it doesn't matter what others are doing it matters what you are doing

Don’t focus on the competition, focus on your game. (lettering by satsuki shibuya)


✖ Your life just isn’t complete without this 1989 Aerobics Workout version of Shake it Off.

✖ Get lost in beautiful maps of space throughout the ages 

✖ Scheduling across multiple social media networks? Who isn’t, right? Tiempy is a free social media scheduling tool that’s beautifully designed and ultra useful. Currently supports Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with Google+ and Pinterest being added soon.

✖ Brush up on the five parts of brand storytelling nearly everyone misses.

✖ Work with lots of files on a daily basis? I didn’t even realize how inconvenient dragging / dropping / copying was until I downloaded DragonDrop. Just shake your mouse, pop files (or anything) into a tiny dock, and keep adding until you’re done. Practical, helpful and playful is a great combination.

✖ One of the more positive and practical pieces about dealing with critics that I’ve read is Jame’s Clear’s piece, “How to Deal with People Judging You and Your Work”. A must read if you’re a blogger or creator online.

✖ Want to have a more meaningful day, week & life? Ask yourself these two questions every morning

✖ Pinterest SEO: 7 Tips From A Pinterest Engineer that have helped my followers grow from 3000 to +40k this past year (not an exaggeration!)

<< older posts