The Dutch have a special word to describe “cosiness”, “comfort”, but it’s also something that goes a little beyond that. “Gezellig”. Pronounced correctly, it kinda sounds like you’re clearing your throat, but this blog explores its meaning by documenting experiences that make life richer and deeper; through food, family, and the making of a home.

Your own business can be an eye-opener

by amanda on July 13, 2017

Hey there,

I’ve had some opportunities to be published in our local business periodical, called “Elgin This Month”, and I’m kinda actually enjoying it! I feel like there is so much I’ve learned in these past 10 years as a graphic designer and I want to be able to share some of that with a wider audience; people like me who are running their own business and don’t realize the potential/advantages of a strong brand and marketing materials. So back in June I wrote an article (page 23) about some of the surprises that come with running a small business. I’ve copied the article below, in case you’re interested!


I get to choose my hours! I don’t have to listen to anyone barking orders at me! I can do what I love, every single day! I can finally be appreciated for my talents and hard work! When you daydream about owning your business, I’ll bet these thoughts swim through your head as you picture yourself swivelling in your office chair, your name on the sign outside, proud owner of your very own establishment.

…Of course, that is *mostly* true. I started my own graphic design firm because I wanted flexible hours in order to be the dominant care-giver while my children were young. I ultimately make every decision about what direction my business will take, day to day. And I do do what I love, at least most of the day.
But the realities of owning your own business also poses some issues that I think most people don’t consider when they set out down the entrepreneurial path. Choose your own hours? Do you think I turn down a job just because it happens to be a rush project that falls on the weekend, and the sun is out? Heck no! I don’t know if next month is going to be slower than this month so when a client says “jump!” I definitely say “how high?”

Being the boss of a company where you directly interact with clients or customers every day means listening to them and their concerns, and ultimately making sure they are thrilled with your work or product. This doesn’t always mean deciding how and when to do things. My projects with clients are very much a collaborative process. They are informed by both my creative design, my marketing experience AND the need for the client to make money, so I can hardly sit back and just do what I feel like.

The ultimate eye-opener for most people who set out to work for themselves is that, sure, you get to do what you love most of the time, but you are also the customer service department, accounting, and marketing, all rolled into one. This means that sometimes as much as 50% of your day can be swallowed up by “non-work” work. In truth, I’ve enjoyed the learning curve in some of these areas but not every business owner is happy about interacting with a wide variety of personalities every day or the mundane task of having to keep track of gas receipts.
Possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned about owning my own business for the last 12 years is that it really helps if you stay focussed on your passion. You can be so busy with the day to day that you forget to pop your head up once in a while to redirect your ship to ensure it is still heading toward the horizon you’ve envisioned for yourself. As Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneurial internet millionaire declares: “Passion is an unmatched fuel. Add being happy to that and you have a wonderful formula for good health.” Eyes on the prize!



Inspirationally inspirational inspiration

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Creative is everywhere. I love the beginning of a project when I start looking for inspiration and design elements that will help me build the mood and look I am seeking to create. That typically means putting together a “mood board” that evokes the look/feel I am trying to create. Pinterest, despite it being a […]

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What’s it like to work with me?

Working with a Graphic Designer

Just one step closer to pulling it all together! A post shared by Streamliners Espresso Bar (@streamlinersespressobar) on Jan 6, 2017 at 3:47pm PST The answer to the question that’s burning in your mind: What can I expect with working with a graphic designer? I get potential clients from all kinds of places; from my […]

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A full brand experience

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A fully immersive brand experience: You know what I mean. Those companies whose experience, identity, and emotion are all wrapped up in a tidy package. Have you been to a Tesla store? Tesla is a compelling story: founded by Elon Musk, who made his fortune from Paypal, and now creating fully electric vehicles (as well […]

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3 day room makeover


Just a quick post to show you a fun project I helped out with back in January. A friend of mine, Becky Ong, decided to surprise another friend, Kim Parker, by do a super quick reno of her basement while she was away. The basement held very little charm; it’s sole decorative accents being a […]

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Living Room revisited


The thing about our living room, is, it “looks” comfortable, but the reality is so, so different. I mean, the colours and textures are all there, but our actual seating leaves A LOT to be desired. This picture below has our old seating, which is now ripped to shreds by various kids and has been […]

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2016: a lookback

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Hmmm , I never do this. I’m more of a “don’t think about the past; what matters is the future” kind of gal. But maybe it’s a good time to reflect on what happened in the past year to see if I can’t tease out something, I don’t know, profound?! The year started with an […]

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Pattern me pretty


So, I’m a HUGE sucker for surface pattern design. And I’m coming across more and more absolutely stunning ones lately so I thought it high time to share some with you. Some of these, I realize, might induce headaches in some people but to me, you can always, always have more colour. Always. Let’s start […]

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Boston, Hahvahd, and Lobstah


….Just got back from an epic time visiting my dear little brother, who has been living in Boston for about a year. Yes, we brought the kids. Yes, we drove. Yes it was long and there was bickering but it was also a really nice opportunity to just be a family. So I savoured it, […]

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Restaurant Interior Design: Follow-up


…so being the wife of a farmer often means that months blow by and, even though you may have the best intentions, your blog suffers greatly 🙁 One thing I’ve been DYING to show you is the final result of the local restaurant, Glassroots, whose identity I created and then went on to help them […]

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