hello 2011

Happy New Year, readers!

2010 was a roller coaster of a year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2011. Although I am making some resolutions, I hate to start out by thinking about what didn’t get done the last time around. So, a little recap of what made 2010 great:

In January, Brendan and I hopped on a plane to Salt Lake City to attend Altitude Design Summit. It was amazing to meet so many blogging super-stars, and to walk away feeling like we were all “in it together.” You can read my recap here. Although I did learn a thing or two about blogging, it was meeting so many like-minded people that made a big impression on me. This year, I felt like I had to pick and choose my trips, and so I won’t be going to Alt.

‘Til Alt 2012!

In February, inspired by the tips I picked up at Alt and overwhelmed by being a design freelancer, invitation designer, and blogger all at once, I put out a call for a Mint intern. Although the program didn’t last very long, I think I learned a lot about what to look for in an intern (or future employee), and what I want Mint to be. The interns who were here for a bit were great; it was my planning that wasn’t so hot. Maybe I’ll try this again down the road… but for now, Mint’s a solo venture, and that’s OK.

Also in February, I started a vintage shop on Etsy called West + Plum. I had a blast with the shop and it did a good job of getting me out of the house (one of the toughest parts of being a freelancer). It satisfied my constant desire to curate. I promised myself that the moment W+P started to feel like “work,” I’d let it go. Later in the year, things got hectic and I decided to temporarily close the shop. I’m looking forward to starting it up again this Spring/Summer, but maybe with occasional “collections” available for sale for short periods. I’m getting excited just thinking about that.

Someone gave me a stack of old HOW magazines when I was in high school, and I think I still have them lying around somewhere. I was blown away by them… I had never seen anything like the beautiful projects featured inside. And I made it a secret goal that one day my work would be featured in HOW. So, you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find out that one of my wedding invitations would be featured in the April 2010 issue.

In May I traveled to New York to see the National Stationery Show (and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, which was happening at the same time). I visited partly to cover it on Mint, and partly to scope it out in case I ever decide to have a Hello Tenfold booth. I left feeling so impressed by the work I saw, but wondering if the wholesale market is really for me. I took lots of pictures and found some new favorite stationers/designers, which you can see by following the links above.

My husband and I had both of our business cards featured in the book Nice to Meet You Too in June. (!)

In the Spring Brendan and I began the search for our first home. I still can’t believe how much work it was… we visited many houses, fell in love with a few, wondered if we wanted an older house with lots of potential in an up-and-coming neighborhood, or if we wanted fewer projects and more stability. The loan process was nuts, there’s no other way to put it, and I was thisclose to losing my temper with our bank and blowing our down payment on a trip around the world. But we were patient. And in October we closed on a cute house with just the right combination of projects/character/affordability/move-in-readiness. Ideas for 2011: lots of painting, a new kitchen, a sunny reading room, and more settling in.

In September I celebrated my one-year anniversary of getting laid off. That kind of celebration may sound a little odd, but the challenges and rewards of being self-employed exceed my expectations. I’m still pinching myself. My husband was laid off two weeks after I was (from the same company) and his new job is, as we like to call it, a “real” job, with bigger clients and more ambitious projects. As for me, I made the hard decision this year to lose a couple of my oldest and most regular clients to be able to focus on my favorite clients — brides! I’ve begun doing more screen printed invitations, which combines my college-found-love of printmaking with today’s love of design. Perfect. It takes a little time to appreciate the doors that open after that kind of rude awakening, but… they do open. Every time.

Last fall, I got an email that was so terrifying that it took me a couple days to even formulate a response. AIGA Charlotte wanted me (me!) to come speak to them about blogging. For 60-90 minutes. I said I would. And then wondered what the heck I had to say. It took a lot of practice and thought, but I was shocked to find out in November that I actually enjoyed public speaking! Don’t get me wrong… I was still a nervous wreck. But when I opened up these photos last week for the first time since my talk, I realized that I even LOOK like I’m having fun! I’ve promised some readers a write-up on my talk, and I haven’t forgotten.

So I think I can say 2010 was pretty focused on work. And for 2011, I want to turn the focus a little bit, maybe restore some calm and good health. I want to take more walks, use my gym membership, learn how to take care of plants, and make at least one painting. I want to get better at saying “no” to projects that aren’t a good fit, to focus on the good things, and to schedule in a vacation, preferably the overseas type. And I’m going to pat myself on the back for the goals I met in 2010, and forget about the ones I didn’t. ;)

So what about you, what are your 2011 goals, and what made 2010 good? I wanna know.

Photo credits: Glasses & Notebook, SF Girl By Bay // Pencil print, Sycamore Street Press // Home Sweet Home print by Seb Lester


  1. says

    sounds like 2010 was a good year for you! i’m sure 2011 holds even more in store. as someone who also works for herself i find your posts inspiring! thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    Thanks for this post!! I just recently found your blog and really enjoy reading :) I am also a freelance designer, and it’s really inspiring to read your honest experiences throughout the past year. Hope 2011 is everything you wish for!

  3. Anonymous says

    Congratulations on such a productive year!! BTW, if you need a mom on your overseas trip, I know one….. Love you, Mom

  4. says

    what a fabulous year! and i am the proud owner of those gorgeous vintage screw-back posts :) i completely love them!

  5. says

    GO ELLIE! Congrats on a successful year. You are truly an inspiration to all of the freelancers out here…including me. Can’t wait to see how Mint and HelloTenfold will grow in 2011.

  6. says

    Happy New Year! I actually bought a ticket to the AIGA Charlotte event but couldn’t attend due to a surprise freelance project. I’m still very sorry I missed it, I was looking forward to hearing what you had to say. :) Best of luck for 2011!

  7. says

    Wow, what a challenging, exciting and wonderful year! Best wishes for the year ahead… From one little Mint fan. :)

  8. Jess Wheaton says

    Wonderful, wonderful blog! Are those your eyeglass frames in the photo? If so, any info on them would be greatly appreciated…

  9. says

    Ellie- You are a huge inspiration to me. I really enjoyed reading this whole thing. I am so glad I got to meet you at Alt last year (wish you were coming + speaking this year but I totally understand). I feel the same– more focus on personal life this year! Here’s to an amazing 2011!

  10. says

    You’re so awesome!! After reading this I’m feeling even better about my new-found freelance career in 2011 after getting laid off at the end of 2010. I look forward to keeping up with your work!

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