Clients & Creative Control: How to Honor Visions & Execute Expertise

The hardest part of design is talking about design with non-designers (aka, 99 percent of clients you’ll ever have).

This is true for every creative craft. When wedding planning, I was really co-designing a day with other creatives. The vendors were the experts, and as their client, I really had to trust their expertise. I set the vision for the day and had to allow them to execute the fine details.

When writing a feature, or pitching a communications plan, or designing anything, the greatest challenge is meshing the client’s preconceived vision for the project with what we, as the experts, really know will serve them and their goals on the highest level.

A great example is when I approached my wedding florist and said I wanted garden roses and baby’s breath in the floral designs. As a client, I walked in convinced I was the florist and having XYZ flower was the best way to achieve the soft, feminine and intimate vibe I was imagining in my mind. My florist exercised her expertise by explaining that baby’s breath smelled like ass and garden roses were ridiculously expensive. But she heard me, and recognized my vision the overall vibe I wanted. She showed me in the store how she, as the expert, could pick the roses at their largest point of blossom, and incorporate intricate, antique-tinted hydrangeas and wispy larkspurs. She invited me in and explained her process.

She guided me to a better decision, and after surrendering control as a client to her and her expertise, I wound up with a greater, more beautiful end product that still honored my original vision.

As creatives, that is our charge with clients to:

1. Listen and identify with their vision, and;

2. With your expertise, guide them and welcome them onboard to your process and how your process will serve their vision on the highest level.

Whew, y’all. It’s hard sometimes! I really love all that this post has to say about creating what you want vs. what the client want & what sells. Of course, if you find yourself attracting a bunch of clients who are totally opposite of you in taste, it may be time to reevaluate what clients you take on and what vibes you’re putting out there about your business and style.

Fortunately for me, I have really cool clients that are super easy to work with. I just wrapped up my final graduation announcement of the season, and I think it’s my favorite thus far.

If you want to work with me…to design business logos/digital art, birthday invites, announcements, etc. feel free to email me at!





Spring Look: Makeup Favorites


Before we even begin, let’s talk about my lazy eye in this pic. Do excuse it. I have been wearing contacts since I was nine and every once in awhile I wind up with an infection that leaves me looking like I belong in a bell tower somewhere…


My makeup/hair/beauty routine has been about the same since 7th grade. To say I’m an au-natural kind of girl is an understatement, and obviously, with two dreadlocks and a mane like that, a polished and primped look isn’t my default.

I’ll always stay true to that on some level. It’s who I am. But let’s face it (heh, heh, get it?) I need to grow up and into a more adult beauty routine. Like, put some real makeup on and look like the educated, responsible 23 year old woman that I have grown up and in to.

So! I’m on a beauty journey and I’m racking up some serious rewards points at Ulta. Some new things have been well worth taking the chance and spending the money and some have been a bust. Here are my spring favorites, the things that are perfect for using/wearing on a chill day.

1. Clairisonic Mia 2 ($150): YES this is expensive and if you have naturally beautiful skin, just skip down to numero dos. But I have struggled with skin issues since high school. I’ve been to dermatologists, tried a million prescription and over the counter products and nothing has come close to the magic of the Mia 2. It’s easy to use… just wet your face, put some cleanser on the brush head and hit start. I love this product instruction guide and user tutorial.

I bought it in January, yes I’m behind the times, but my skin has never been as gorgeous as it is today and I really believe this baby did the trick.



2. Philosophy Purity Facial Cleanser ($25-$35) – Again…in terms of skincare, nothing cleans and feels as good as this product. It says it’s fragrance free but I think it smells like Eucalyptus to me…super fresh! This and the Mia are like my Batman and Robin of skin care.

3. Big Easy Complexion Perfector ($38): I blogged about this before but it’s worth repeating. I have normal to oily skin, especially in the spring and summer, and this foundation (more like BB cream) goes on like a liquid but finishes like a powder. I love the matte look, plus it’s a light to medium coverage which is nice for chill spring and summer days outside. PLUS it has SPF 30, and SPF is a makeup must for me. No wrinkles ever please and thank you.

And the packaging is beautiful.

big easy

4. Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids ($8): Drugstore price, amazing pigmentation and when I’m really down playing my makeup for the day I think lip color is the easiest way to incorporate a bright, springy vibe. I’m wearing Fuchsia Flash and I absolutely love it, and I think the color will continue to translate well as I get darker during the summer.

The final frontiers of my makeup journey include finding THE PERFECT MASCARA (for the love, please help me, leave your fav in the comments!) and finding a brow pencil I like and learning how to even use it. I have light brown lashes and even lighter brows, and while I’m not crazy about the bold brow trend, I do want some definition.

What are your favorite mascaras or brow pencils? Do you love investing in name brand or are you a drugstore kind of girl?




Sunny Sunday Reads & Finds!


Easter, prom, a million spring-related things going on that require you to be here & there. While these are times of newness & milestones & blessed time with our family, sometimes it can leave you feeling a little wiped out. (And, let’s face it, the Easter bunny is mega-creepy.)

Go layout by the pool, in a hammock or have a drink on a patio somewhere & enjoy some alone time with my favorite blog posts, podcasts, videos and articles from this week. Have some laughs, get inspired and refill for another week & the final stretch until summer.

I recently started my journey with lipstick. More on that later, but you should know that this girl’s tutorials were my gateway drug to a full-blown makeup addiction.

Confession: I am almost entirely nocturnal. Really. I always have been a night owl and science suggests it says a lot about me. Marie Forleo taught me how to rock it. Own your internal clock, y’all!

I listen to Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” AT LEAST once a day. Love this cover by Ed Sheeran. Surfbordt.

Gettin’ hitched? I curated this list of groomsmen gifts  over at Brit + Co.

I am a student of Gabrielle Bernstein & working through her new book “Miracles Now”. I could take you guys down the “Jessica’s Spirituality” rabitthole here but instead just check out these videos.

Speaking of spirituality, my sister Abbey is a service junkie. She loves working with kids, and feels called to serve in Haiti this summer. Help fund her mission by giving here or sending positive, abundant vibes her way.

Hope you had a blessed Easter & feel renewed & ready for the week ahead.



Prints & Prayers

Sometime a couple weeks ago I was traveling to OK to see a friend and also conduct some interviews for a freelance feature. For some reason, on a whim, I decided to post on my Facebook page that I was in the ‘hood  and if anyone wanted me to shoot/design for graduation invites, I’d be happy to help.

Let it be known that I had never designed graduation invites before, nor do I consider myself a photographer. But I was soon inundated with messages from clients-to-be.

As it turns out, one client desperately wanted some grad invites done to announce and celebrate her master’s degree. She thought she had procrastinated too long to get them in in time, but prayed that she would find a way to make it happen.

And, like an act of God or some crazy coincidence, I had just posted that I could do the thing she prayed for and I just so happened to be in the right and place at the right time to help her out.

Seems weird, right? But I 100 percent believe in manifest destiny. I believe your thoughts and prayers and vibes have the power to create your reality. By putting it out there into the universe that I wanted to be a designer, I made it happen. In the same way, my clients prayer was powerful enough to manifest the exact thing she prayed for.

Sounds pretty trippy but I have seen this truth happen so many times and in so many ways, I know it to be real.

For some people, like my client, their prayers manifest their reality. For me, what I verbalize to others has an intense power to become real. That means whether I talk shit on myself or talk about my dreams for the future, either way, there’s a good chance those conversations will manifest into reality. I’ve learned to be careful and thoughtful about what I say about myself and what I want.

I’m not saying the thoughts alone are enough. But I am saying that intention is equally important as action when it comes to getting the things we want.

Whew! Gettin’ deep up in hurr. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a couple of announcements I made this season. I customized each of them, so the colors and fonts and quotes have a lot to say about the client. Devon is a fashionista, so quoting Coco Chanel and using her favorite color (mint!) were obvious choices. Randi is an Oklahoma State Cowgirl and Southern Oklahoma lady, so the tribal touches and school colors worked. Both were front & back and printed on 15 pt. card stock.



These were super fun projects, and reminded me of how much I enjoy designing like this.



Haters: How To Deal

hatersWhat is the meanest thing someone has ever said to you? Maybe it was something cruel, attacking your hair, skin, weight… Maybe it was something snide, some underhanded comment that was meant as a dig at you. Maybe it was said by someone to your face, subtweeted or in a super nasty comment via social media.

Probably the nastiest thing ever said to me was said by another woman (no surprise there, sadly). I was in college. She asked to talk to me about an issue, which I graciously obliged because at 21 years old, I felt confident we could resolve the problem through honest conversation. Nay. As soon as we sat down, she looked right at me and said,

“Nothing would satisfy me more than to slit your throat right now.”

Whoa. Like…whoa. Looking back, this girl was obviously suffering from some serious issues that had very little, if at all, to do with me. It wasn’t the first or last mean thing someone has said to me, but it certainly takes the crazy cake in terms of insults.

Unfortunately, we all have to deal with haters in our lives. Maybe you serve in some role in your community – through government, in a community service role, or maybe you’re a small business owner – that garners you lots of (and, sometimes) negative attention. As a blogger, I purposely share parts of my life and work and thoughts on the internet and that, naturally, generates haters. I have people who religiously creep my blog just because I piss them off. But why? And what do I do about it?

Let’s talk about dealing with haters, wherever they may be trollin’.

1. Hear it, feel it. Whenever someone subtweets or says something super hateful to/about me, no matter how untrue or ridiculous, I allow myself to read it/hear it and feel whatever emotions come next. If that means going on a cussing, ranting tirade for 20 minutes to my mom or husband, or doing the super ugly cry, or whatever…Whatever it takes to work through those gut reactions to meanness. Feeling angry or sad about it is natural and okay. Until I confront those emotions, I cannot really move forward.

2. That’s on them. Take a deep breath and realize that, most often, what is underneath someone’s meanness is really fear. When people feel threatened, they kick into fight-or-flight. Today’s version of this evolution-based reaction is fighting via the internet. If something I say or do threatens another’s ego, sense of self, view of the world, value system or comfort zone, that person often reacts angrily. Something about me challenges them and their thinking. And instead of engaging in honest, respectful conversation with a “agree-to-disagree” attitude, they act hatefully. I have great compassion for these people…I sincerely hope that, in the future, they can replace their defensiveness with a willingness to learn, grow, engage and tolerate those who are different than themselves.

3. Create boundaries for moving forward. Because we know that the hateful tweet or comment really is about the other person, and not ourselves, we feel no need to return defensiveness with defensiveness. Fighting fire with fire will burn the whole house down, y’all. Instead, create boundaries for moving forward. Delete the negative comments/tweets immediately. If you need to block that person from your Facebook, blog or Twitter, do that. Your space on the internet is YOURS and you are in control. In the same way we control the music that enters our ears and the food that enters our bodies, we control whether positivity or negativity lives in our space on the Internet.

It has taken me years to accept these truths, and I am still working everyday to put them into practice. It takes thoughtful, conscious intention to not let our negative thoughts and feelings – and the negative thoughts and feelings of others – to reign over our days, weeks and beyond. After the last super meltdown I had, I proceeded to spend the next FIVE HOURS on the phone with mentors and my parents, crying and really, generally, losing my shit. At one point one of my mentors, in an effort to gauge damage, asked “…..Jessica, do you have pants on right now?”

“NOOOOOOO!” I wailed and burst into more tears.

That’s how she knew it was serious.

Which leads me to my last and final tip….

4. Let yourself be loved on. This little nugget comes courtesy of a conversation with Kathleen Shannon, and she was totally right. When I’ve been hurt I allow myself to lean on those who really love me. I want to, of course, be tough and suck back the tears and insist I’m okay but in the long run, taking the time to be cared for, emotionally, will do far more good for me and those in my life. And, often, it makes those we love the most feel good to swoop in and wrap their arms around us, literally, or through their prayers, encouragements and love.

If you have a super hard time dealing with haters, I suggest Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. In the meantime, here are some great reads on dealing with haters, courtesy of Gabrielle Bernstein and Peter Bregman.



P.S. If you’re feelin’ sassy, I love this temp tat by Tattly.

P.S.S. This is my favorite hater confrontation OF ALL TIME. Watch it here.


Freelance: Graduation Shoots


The past week and a half in Oklahoma has been totally devoted to my freelance work. For those who don’t know, I began freelancing back in college with the school newspaper. Before I graduated I was freelance writing for an award-winning magazine and an annual report. Today, I write features focusing mainly on granting and personal profiles. I also am a curator and tastemaker over at Brit + Co. Both are paying’ gigs (the best kind) but extremely different in content, workflow and bottom line.

Writing is my bread and butter, my passion, my expertise. But, surprisingly, my freelance design and photog gigs are growing almost faster than I can keep up. I’m making spreadsheets to track my workflow, firing out emails, sending quotes and client proofs, on the phone with printers and cashin’ checks left and right.

It’s a great feeling. I love the autonomy of freelance work. I love that I can travel, interact one-on-one with people, tour new places and experience new things and be the artist I always dreamed of being. It’s an ever-changing job, ever-changing title. I’m wearing a lot of hats. But it’s really fulfilling work. Plus, I thrive working on my own time, doing new things, breaking molds, making mistakes and learning and growing and grooving to the beat of my own drum.

RULES I wanted to share with you some of my work from the past week. Enjoy! Interested in working with me? Feel free to reach out…On Twitter, Facebook, Insta or email me at


Devon wanted to incorporate a quilt made by some really special women in her life.


Randi is a former classmate at OSU and blog reader. She was sweet enough to ask me to take some pics and design her graduation announcements. Congrats, Randi!


Lazy Sunday Reads & Finds!


Hey Guys! I’ve been running’ & gunnin’ this week, but finally taking a break from all the creating to catch up on my favorite spots around the web. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite finds. Enjoy!

Do you ever think really bad/nasty/mean/scary thoughts? Here’s how to deal.

Why you should take time off and how to make it count.

I am drooling over these handcrafted horn Gladiator cuffs.

Why you don’t necessarily need a five year plan. BOOYAH.

Allow me to introduce you to my new skin care obsession. This foundation has oodles of SPF & is also a skin corrector…perfect for all y’all who have acne scars (like me…womp womp). Get it here!

Here’s a little secret…Cory & I are looking for a house (!!!!) Join me in drooling over these European spaces.

I’m gonna need these sandals.

I loved skulls because CJ has one tattooed on his back & I spend many a mornings waking up to the sight of it…Now I have an affinity. Drooling over these decorations.

I’ve started a collection of these. You’ll always see me wearing one.

Proof I’m obsessed with the idea of taking a woodsy retreat. Summer vacation?

I already have these sunnies but I think these are in my future.

I love succulents. I love saying succulents…It’s just a fun word. Plus, these plants are gorg. I spent way too much money buying some from this awesome shop.

Want to learn how to amp up the graphics & branding for your small business? Consider this workshop in OKC.


Hope y’all enjoyed this lazy, rainy Sunday. I’ll be blogging this week about my latest design projects, why freelance is freakin’ hard and the book that may have just changed my life.

Till then,