Freebie Friday: Hand-drawn Vector Stripes and Patterns

Hello! I am back with another edition of Freebie Friday! For this edition I compiled a bunch of hand-drawn vector graphics that I have created over the years. Feel free to use them however you want - I would love to see your creations!

Wow this week went by really fast! This whole year seems to be whipping by - hard to believe today is already Halloween! I don't have any plans this year except to hand out candy to kids in my apartment building. My neighborhood gets really crazy on Halloween and is filled with out-of-towners that are really disrespectful - peeing everywhere and screaming at the top of their lungs. We are going to stay inside and avoid the crazy!

Hope you have a fun Halloween and a good weekend :)

Xo Jess

Freelance Wisdom: Breanna Rose + Jen Serafini

So excited to have this dynamic duo share their freelance wisdom with us this week! Breanna Rose and Jen Serafini are both stellar designers that have joined forces to create an online workshop for freelancers called Be Free, Lance. The workshop is based off of Bre's very popular column by the same name on her amazing blog. So basically - these ladies are total pros when it comes to doling out freelance wisdom! I think you will really enjoy this!

Photo credit: Tru Studio

Photo credit: Tru Studio

What made you decide to pursue a freelance career?

B: I've always wanted to be my own boss, but didn't necessarily think I could pursue it so soon. So upon graduating from design school, I started applying to jobs just like everyone else. After about three applications, I quickly realized that my heart just wasn't set on it and I wasn't even excited at the prospect of getting an interview! That's when I realized that I should give freelancing a go, since it was the only thing I felt so sure about. I proceeded to live in my childhood bedroom (thanks mom + dad!) for the next year or so and worked my butt off. Luckily, it paid off, and I haven't looked back since.
J: Freelancing was never something I knew too much about after college, because the focus was always on landing a big agency job. I spent 4 years in the advertising industry before realizing that my true passion was to work one on one with smaller creative businesses. I felt like I had built up enough experience to be able to give it a shot! Working in the advertising industry taught me so much about presenting to clients, being professional, managing photo shoots, etc. - that I knew I could apply those skills to my own business and clients. For 2 years I managed a full time job and freelanced after work hours, but just recently I took the leap and launched my own design studio - I couldn’t be more excited!
Jen Serafini | Chef Alli

Jen Serafini | Chef Alli

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients? 

B: In the earlier days of freelancing, it was difficult to attract the sort of clients I wanted, long term. I did a lot of online networking (blogging, social media, meet ups, etc.) with other creatives in my niche, which certainly paid off. And over time, I was able to start saying "no" to the projects I didn't want and "yes" to the ones that I loved.
J: I’ve found that some of the best and most rewarding clients I’ve had the opportunity to work with has been through word of mouth. Networking can be so beneficial, because once people see your work and know what you’re capable of, they will remember you if and when a good fit pops up.
Bre's Home Office

Bre's Home Office

If you work from home, do you have any tips for being your most productive?

B: I'm one of those people who works best at home. Each and every morning, I have a short breakfast, and then dive into my routine. I've discovered that I work best in the early(ish) morning, so I try my best to capitalize on that everyday. If I had to commute, I would maybe loose some of that momentum that I get from working at home! The other biggie is setting boundaries. Things like not doing housework during business hours (unless my day is shorter), shutting everything down at a decent time, and not checking emails late into the evening. Those are just a few things that have helped keep me sane!
J: Although I spend some days on site or working out of coffee shops, the majority of my time is spent working in my home office. I think getting yourself into a routine can be one of the easiest ways to be productive, as simple as that sounds! I wake up every morning, walk to get a cup of coffee, take the dog out, and then settle into my chair and work for a few hours. Then I take a break again at lunch and come back to work for the afternoon. I try to go for a run or a quick workout at some point as well, which is a great way to break away from being stationary for so long. It clears my head and gives me new motivation to get back to work :)
Jen's Home Office

Jen's Home Office

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?

B: Patience. In the beginning, I had all of these high hopes that I would land amazing clients right away. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I had to put a lot of time + effort into honing in my niche, perfecting my portfolio, and discovering who the right client type is. While most of my projects are with "ideal clients" nowadays, I'm still not totally there. That's where patience is key. If you work hard and do good work, the right clients will come your way!
J: I think I have to agree with Breanna! Especially since I’m still new to doing this full time, I feel like I always want to get to the next point, show new work, finish a project, etc. It comes from a good place (of excitement!), but I know that being patient will pay off in the long run.
Breanna Rose | Cavely Branding

Breanna Rose | Cavely Branding

What is your favorite thing about being a freelancer?

B: Although this is 100% cliché, I absolutely love the freedom freelancing provides. I'm able to define everything -- from how I structure my days, to who I work with, and my entire process, too. Plus, it doesn't hurt that you can work from anywhere or take days off if need be. Because really, there's nobody upstairs telling me I can't go on a cross country road trip or simply read a good book on a Monday afternoon.
J: Although I’ve only been doing this full time for a month, I can say one of my favorite parts about being my own boss is being in complete control of my success (or failure). No one can decide my path for me except me, and because of that I feel more motivated than ever. I’ve always been the type of person who likes having control over the way I work and the work that I produce, so this allows me to really put my best foot forward every day and every project that I’m a part of.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?

B: For the past four years, I've done almost everything myself. I don't use any fancy apps for bookkeeping, project management, or invoicing, because they rarely accomplish everything I need. Instead, I stick to the basics: gmail, google calendar, and excel sheets -- and tailor for my process. My tip, though, would be to seek help when you're feeling overwhelmed and can't handle it on your own. For example, if you're not as organized and find bookkeeping difficult, then maybe it is best to find an app that can help you! The only thing I outsource at this point is accounting. Luckily, my dad is a tax guy and keeps me on my toes!
J: My friend Jack told me about Harvest, which has been a game changer for me. From invoicing, to tracking time, to taking photos of receipts and keeping track of expenses, it does everything! I recommend finding what works best for you - there are so many options out there and depending on what you need most, you’re bound to find the perfect fit. We actually have a great resource list we’ll be sharing for stuff like this in our upcoming Be Free, Lance course :)
Jen Serafini | Whole 9 Branding

Jen Serafini | Whole 9 Branding

Breanna Rose | 1913 Branding

Breanna Rose | 1913 Branding

Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

B: Setting boundaries is a must! While some freelancers feel okay blurring the line between life and work, I'm definitely not one of them. Because really, if I didn't set clear rules, I would work all the time. And that's no fun! You've gotta treat yourself + enjoy life, too. That said, I never work in the evenings or on the weekends, unless it's an absolute emergency. Whenever I'm done for the day, that's it. I shut the door to my office and go enjoy the rest of the evening! Same on the weekends. 
J: A lot of times when people become their own bosses, their first mindset is that it’s sort of a free for all. I think when you treat your job like that, that’s when the lines get blurred and you find yourself overwhelmed, working over time and not keeping in mind separating work from personal obligations. A lot of freelancers work best at certain times of the day, and that might be late at night or early in the morning like Bre - the important thing is to acknowledge that and build your schedule around it, this way you make time for other things in your life besides work!

The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance designer are:

B: persistence, willingness, and confidence.
J: drive, motivation, discipline
Jen and Bre of Be Free, Lance | Photo credit: Tru Studio

Jen and Bre of Be Free, Lance | Photo credit: Tru Studio

There is so much to learn from these two, this is just a preview! Be sure to sign up for their Be Free, Lance mailing list to be the first to know about their online course. I am so excited to take the course when it is available soon! 

Get social with these ladies!
Jen: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter
Bre: Website / FacebookInstagram / Pinterest / Twitter

Xo Jess

Always the Sick Girl

I first just want to put out there that this is not a post created to get sympathy from people - I just want to write about some of my (pretty minor) personal struggles and hopefully can connect with others in similar situations. Also I talk about kind of gross things, maybe don't read while eating. And I am sorry this is so long.

Yep, I am always the sick girl. Even as a baby I had colic and would cry and cry from stomach distress. Then I went through a phase where I seemed to constantly have a cold, I was tested for every allergy (I had nothing major) and given lots of nasal sprays. But it wasn't till the summer after 6th grade that things went really down hill. That summer I went to sleep-away camp and got extremely sick from food poisoning. Actually the whole camp did, it was disgusting. Not to get graphic but I threw up so much that I tore my esophagus (took a while to figure this out). After camp I started getting nauseated all the time, it was really scary because I had never experienced anything like it before. I would get panic attacks thinking I couldn't breathe because I was so fearful that I would have to throw up again.  

I started seeing a specialist and was taking every test under the sun. They couldn't figure it out for awhile - finally they realized I was experiencing acid reflux and it was really triggering the tear in my esophagus. My 7th grade year I dropped 20 pounds (and I was not big to begin with), I was just bones and skin. I had to miss school a lot. All my teachers thought I was anorexic. There were lots of concerned phone calls to my parents. I felt terrible all the time, the only thing I enjoyed eating was sourdough bread. It was a weird year because we were living in a small apartment while our house was being re-modeled. I was also studying for my Bat Mitzvah. It was also 7th grade and that is just an unbelievably awkward time. Luckily after they discovered the acid reflux I was prescribed tons of anti-acids and slowly but surely I started to feel better.

Unfortunately though the acid reflux never really left. While I could manage it somewhat with anti-acids I would (and still) go through phases where it really seems to perk up. Throughout high school I would go through these phases and was still going in for more tests but just really couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. 

The summer after my Freshman year of college I started getting really sick again. I was working at Urban Outfitters and one day I almost fainted and had a panic attack while working the dressing room. My family and I were all scared that my 7th grade year had come to haunt me again. But this time it was different. I felt nauseated all the time but I was also constantly tired. It really seemed like I had mono - I got tested and turns out I already had symptom-less mono at another time and was a carrier (sorry Josh for your case of Mono!). We went on a trip to London that summer and I slept almost the whole time. At the Tower of London I fell asleep in the cafeteria and on a park bench. It was scary. 

When I returned I started getting lots of tests and it was discovered that my liver was FAILING. I literally had jaundice, my eyes were all yellow. My body was breaking down and we did not know why. At the time I was just taking birth control and occasionally taking anti-acids. My doctors asked me to stop taking both and within a week I started to feel so much better. We are pretty sure it was the birth control pills that were causing my symptoms - after a few weeks off of them my liver went back to normal. Yep, I am that unlucky girl that their birth control pills almost killed her.

Since that summer I have continued to have slight nausea pretty much every day. It was determined that it is chronic and no doctor really knows how to deal with it. I have tried gluten-free diet, allergy tests, I even had a biopsy - so far nothing conclusive. My nausea is kind of strange, it is all in my upper esophagus - it kind of feels like your throat is closing up - there is this tightness that makes me nauseated and a bit panicked. The crazy thing is I have only vomited one time since that 7th grade summer. I have actually developed quite a deep fear of it - and this fear has really impacted my life. 

In recent years the anxiety grouped with my nausea has gotten worse. I think the stress and pressures of adult life are a big part of it. When I feel less stressed - I also tend to feel better, like when I am on vacation, or at home relaxing with Netflix. One of my reasons for pursuing freelance was in order to be able to control my environment when stressed. I know the stress isn't going to go away - but at least I can be in the comfort of my home - which greatly helps things. 

I wish I didn't have this nausea. It is almost painful when people compliment me on being thin and tiny - I would much rather gain weight and not feel sick. The nausea has seeped into my personality, making me more introverted and fearful of new/different experiences. My mom told me once that before that 7th grade summer I was down to try everything and was much more outgoing. Hearing that really made me sad - would I be a different person if I never developed this nausea?

But luckily despite the chronic nausea I have built a really wonderful life. I have an amazing husband, good friends, loving family, and a career that I love. And I am so lucky that while nausea is annoying it is certainly not life-threatening, and I could have it so much worse. It is always good to keep things in perspective and appreciate what you do have! Thank you for reading this post, feels good to get some of my feelings out there!

Xo Jess