BusyMo Media & Design Does Pro Bono Design Project That Hits Home

MCCC_ID Scanner Campaign Poster_010618_Logo4

BusyMo Media & Design has been working on a pro-bono design project as part of a campaign to prevent underage drinking in North Dakota. This topic literally hits close to home because this is where I grew up.  As the first part of the project, I worked with Miranda Samuelson to help develop a poster concept that will be placed on the doors of establishments selling cigarettes and alcohol in the community. This piece promotes the use of ID scanners in an effort to end the sale of age-restricted items to the community’s youth.


Once the poster was complete, I worked with Miranda to develop four logo concepts for the coalition to choose from. More information on each logo is below. I’d love to hear your feedback via comment on your favorite logo.


McKenzie County Community Coalition Logo Concept #1 by BusyMo Media & Design

Pro Bono Logo Design Concept #1 by BusyMo Media & Design for McKenzie County Community Coalition in North Dakota.

The people in the circle form the shape of a gear, which represents the community coming together to get work done. I’ve used several colors for the people to represent diversity. Rainbow colors also suggest calm after the storm, and in this case, the storm being the choices that the at-risk youth in the community are currently facing. The circle represents wholeness, with less focus on the individual and making the community whole again. A circle can also represent an embryo and the beginning of new life, or in this case, new ways for the community that reduce risk for those who are underage. I’ve chosen a sans serif font (a font without slabs on the ends of the strokes of the letters) for the branding because it represents moving forward to the future, whereas a serif font (such as Times New Roman) is more symbolic of tradition and the past.



McKenzie County Community Coalition Logo Concept #2 by BusyMo Media & Design

Pro Bono Logo Design Concept #2 by BusyMo Media & Design for McKenzie County Community Coalition in North Dakota.

Just as in Logo #1, I’ve chosen a strong, bold, sans serif font for “Community Coalition” for the same reasons. I opted for a modern script font for “McKenzie County” to represent a future-minded organization focused on building new traditions. The placement of “Community Coalition” between “McKenzie” and “County signify that the coalition is compromised of members of the community and is also supported by the community. I’ve chosen blue because it suggests reliability, trust, and innovation. Blue has been proven to slow the heart rate and produce a calming feeling.



McKenzie County Community Coalition Logo Concept #3 by BusyMo Media & Design

Pro Bono Logo Design Concept #3 by BusyMo Media & Design for McKenzie County Community Coalition in North Dakota.

The same theories as the first two logos apply to this logo in terms of fonts. In regard to the colors, I’ve chosen a gradient of royal and light blue because, in addition to the reliability, trust, and innovation conveyed via the royal blue, the light blue suggests safety, serenity, and creativity, which are are all pertinent to the mission of the organization. I’ve chosen a gradient of orange and yellow for “Community Coalition” because orange represents optimism, enthusiasm, social, strength, activism, and confidence, while yellow represents happiness—I want to convey that the coalition is something positive that should be embraced by the community. The weaved icon is a representation of members of the communities uniting to work toward a greater good that will benefit all. The icon also incorporates the shapes of the letters “M” and “C” which comprise the acronym for the organization. The circle psychology applies to this logo as well.


McKenzie County Community Coalition Logo Concept #4 by BusyMo Media & Design

Pro Bono Logo Design Concept #3 by BusyMo Media & Design for McKenzie County Community Coalition in North Dakota.

I’ve incorporated a lot of the same elements from the first three logos in terms of fonts, colors, and shapes for the final logo. This particular logo piggy-backs on the concept of the first with the circle of people in the community forming three gears to get positive, meaningful work done. The separate gears signify different groups in the community working together to make progress. I’ve incorporated green because it signifies healing, growth, and freshness—all things important to be associated with this organization.


Please be sure to share which logo is your favorite and why in the comments below. I’ll be updating this blog post this week with the winner.

Lessons I Learned as a Designer by Teaching Middle School

Be Patient.
Teaching Middle School left me with no choice but to gain some patience. I had to find it for not only students, but faculty, staff, and parents as well. Learning is a process and you can’t skip steps and expect a high standard of results. It takes patience to follow the steps and not skip ahead just to check the box. Working with many demographics of people coming from very different cultural backgrounds also forced me to find balance in my work and communication.

Being patient has attributed highly to my ability to practice effective communication with freelance clients, and has resulted in some very strong professional relationships that have withstood remote work and lack of “face time.”

Be Persistent.
I taught a Yearbook course to eighth grade students and quickly discovered that you rarely get your answers from your first point of contact or on the first try. You have to be persistent in order to track down the information you need to be successful. Again, good communication skills will get you even further, not to mention faster!

Being persistent has helped me gain new clients and keep existing ones. You need to be an active participant in your professional relationship in order to stay on the radar of your clients. Just dropping the occasional note to check in on them will let them know that you value their business, and may result in more work for you by triggering a reminder that they need work done and reinforce the fact that you are invested in their overall success.

Be Open-Minded.
Students don’t necessarily follow the same paradigms that we do as adults. They either haven’t learned them yet or they don’t understand them. Therefore, they can come up with some very creative solutions to challenges. I prefer the use of the word challenges rather than problems, because every problem is just an opportunity to overcome and find a solution. Again, I have worked with a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds, and this diversity often results in creative, unconventional solutions to challenges.

Being open-minded has helped me realize that I can use many different approaches to come to a design solution. There is no right answer and working with your client to see their vision and help create it will leave you both satisfied and motivated to keep building their business and your own.

Be a Planner.
As a teacher, my sole existence was based on planning. The schedule to be exact. Class times, meetings, bell schedules, your colleagues schedules—you needed to know all of these like the back of your hand in order to be successful. Things never went to plan, but I always had one. It was vital to controlling the chaos and coming out of any situation on the right side. Yes, planning is a lot of work. Yes, it’s worth it because it makes you analyze every detail and provides clarity to what you are trying to achieve.

Planning has helped me as a creative professional because it’s nearly impossible to manage all of the hats I wear as an entrepreneur without it. I handle all quotes, budgets, project management, customer service, account payable and receivable and whatever else is thrown my way in order to make business run smoothly. There is no option but to plan. You’ll drown without one.

Be a Life-Long Learner.
Never quit learning. Don’t be afraid to try new things and seek out education in new experiences. As the Yearbook Adviser and Middle School Technology Content Chair, I was constantly having to learn new softwares and philosophies in order to be successful at my job. Technology was and always is changing, and I have to continue to change with it. It’s so much easier to go with the flow than to fight against the current. You don’t have to do it alone, either. Recruit a colleague or friend to join you in the journey and you’ll be surprised at how much of that experience you can apply to your creative career. You may even expand your network at the same time.

Relationships Matter.
Working in a school environment is entirely different than working in a business office. Sometimes, I even felt like I was dealing with adult social cliques while the students dealt with their own. The experience was positive for the majority of my time as a teacher, and the biggest difference I encountered between these two work situations was that the folks at the school turned in to family. People generally cared about your well-being and wanted to see you succeed. There of course was competition, but for the most part there was more collaboration because we had one common goal; helping students learn and grow as individuals.

Teaching taught me that creating strong professional relationships with trust as the foundation allows you to attain better results and more work from your clients. Solutions to challenges increase as your relationships and connections do. If there is one thing that helps maintain connection with your clients and peers, it’s showing appreciation. Remember birthdays, send thank you notes, and always give credit where credit is due.

Don’t Fear Failure.
I did not have any training as a teacher when I took my first position molding the minds of our youth (outside of teaching a few after school fine arts classes in schools around Denver once or twice a week). It was intimidating and I was worried that I might make mistakes that wouldn’t affect only myself, but also students, parents, faculty and other staff. I had always striven for perfection and taking on an entirely new role threatened my ability to do that.

It turns out that failure really is synonymous for success. Without it, you cannot find a solution to a challenge. Failure forced me to grow—to think outside of the box and consult others for help, including my students. Their lack of set paradigms often left me with some very creative solutions that I never would have considered.

As a designer, I’ve come to the realization that nothing has to be perfect the first time around. The number of revisions aren’t as important as the final solution, and working closely with your clients will help you cut down on those revisions. You’ll eventually get to know them well enough that’ll be able to attain a sense of perfection in your relationship and work.

Be Genuine.
You will not reach anyone if you are not genuine in your enthusiasm. Few folks will be willing to follow your lead. My students didn’t get engaged unless I was excited about what I was teaching them. You just need that first follower and the rest will follow suit.

The same goes for design clients. Be excited about what you do and how you can help them grow their business. Their success is yours and this enthusiasm helps build trust in your professional relationships. The more trust you have, the more efficient you can be at your job to help them grow their business and your own.

Be Prepared. 
This was always a main topic of my lesson on the first day for students. My students had to come to class with all of the tools necessary to succeed, and this didn’t always mean just jump drives, paper, or pens and pencils—they also needed to have done the proper research to be successful for that day’s itinerary.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in—presentation matters. Don’t waste others’ time (or your own) by not putting in the work to know your subject matter inside and out when you are preparing to share it on any platform. It’s important to present all information in a way that is easy for your audience to understand as well. There are a lot of options out there to make your message more digestible through the use of visual presentations. Google Slides, Slide Rocket, and Prezi are just a few free online platforms that can really make your content shine.

Be Flexible.
Things change. My lesson plans did constantly. Whether I was teaching students the Adobe Design Suite or teaching the faculty how to use Twitter to increase community involvement via social media, there was a Plan B (and sometimes even a Plan Z). The internet would be down, I wouldn’t be able to access the server with all of my files for the lesson, there’d be water leaking from the lab ceiling over one of the iMacs from a broken A/C unit, or we’d have a fire drill. The list went on and on.

You need to learn to go with the flow if you do not want to be swept away in the currents of development. Again, there is more than one solution to any challenge. Just because your solution may not have been picked by the majority doesn’t mean that you should fight the current of change. If you put in the required energy to make an effort successful, you’re bound to find a solution that works for all—even if it wasn’t the original plan.

I’ve learned that the ability to be flexible is very important when working with my design clients because, as they say, “the client is always right.” Now, is this really the case? No. Sometimes you have to educate your client and in a lot of cases you know best because you’ve got more experience in that field of expertise. Sometimes a client will surprise you and their solution is a worthy one for the challenge, but maybe you’ve never used this approach. Be flexible—learn something new! It will benefit both your client and yourself.

Follow the Process.
Sometimes the tasks that I took on at the school were daunting because they involved so many different steps in order to complete. Trying to wrap my mind around them could be paralyzing, but the key was just to take the first step.

I recall being assigned to a committee of three people that was to create a student-led organization that would help alleviate poverty across the globe. I remember being flooded with a million different ideas and wondering where to even start. My method was to write my “to do” list and figure out what order it needed to be done in. In less than a year, St. Francis CARES (Children Actively Remaking Economic Situations) was born.

A process always made things easier for myself and my students. If I had a numbered list on the board of tasks they were expected to complete in any given time, they were so much more likely to meet and exceed my expectations, as well as their own.

Applying this to my design work has made me so much more efficient. It’s even better when a process already exists and I don’t need to create it from scratch. I always do my research and look for others that are trying to achieve the same thing. Often times, I can use their process and just tweak it. Be resourceful!

Remove Distractions.
Distractions are everywhere, especially if your work is predominantly on the computer. I find myself closing all social media browser windows. Saying goodbye to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Skype and all of the rest while I work is necessary for me to be able to focus on the task at hand. I only have these open during working hours if I am posting something for work. As soon as I’m done, I close out of the window to prevent any temptation.

Distractions aren’t only digital, as things in your environment can have a large impact on your ability to hone in on your work. Working as the Yearbook Adviser and Middle School Technology Content Chair meant that I had students, faculty, staff, and parents in and out of my office all day. The caring environment a school creates often means that folks are not just their to discuss work, which eats largely into your very small amount of time outside of instruction and meetings.

In order to manage the flow of people in and out of my office, I created signs for my door that stated I was either in a meeting or recording video tutorials. These signs included other ways to contact me—email, voicemail or other times to visit. They were highly successful and I would recommend them to anyone who has distractions in an office setting like this. Luckily for me, I work from home and don’t get bothered too often when I hang out at coffee shops for a change of pace.

Get Social!

I’ve been going back and forth with a client of mine in the medical field and I wanted to share some of the advice I offered in regard to their social marketing campaign. I hope it helps other small businesses build their following.

I’m a “grassroots” kind of girl for my own social marketing; meaning I don’t pay Google or Facebook for advertising. I put a lot of work into social marketing with targeted posts. Here’s a few pointers to help you strengthen your social marketing campaign.

1. Twitter

Set up a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one). This social medium reaches a larger audience because people don’t have to like your page to see the information you’ve posted. Also, in my experience, it’s easier to get followers on Twitter than to get Likes on Facebook.

Make sure you start with a nice header image that includes the pertinent information (business address, phone number, website, etc). This will be the first thing your viewers see and in many cases, this will be the info they are searching for. Not enough time or the right tools to make your own? Contact me!

Follow folks that are posting things you are interested in. This should include numerous Twitter members in your industry. This being said, don’t be afraid to diversify because you can get great business ideas from all different kinds of industries outside of your own. Consider following your patients and clients. Show them support and they’ll do the same for you.

You can set your Twitter account to automatically tweet (post) anything you post to your Facebook page.This saves you time and keeps your message consistent across multiple social media platforms.

2. Facebook
Post content that encourages interaction by those that follow you. Consider an HTML email encouraging folks to Like your page and small incentives never hurt. My guess is that you already have a place on patient forms for their email, but if not this would be a great place to add it. You could also consider a newsletter with dental news, trends, etc that you would need this email list for as well.

Ask your family and friends to “share” your posts and get involved by commenting and liking your content. Every share reaches their entire pool of friends and ups the visibility of everything you post.

Include photos of the inside of the office as well as the sign out front on your website and Facebook page. Finding a new office can sometimes cause some anxiety, and posting photos of what to look for will ease some nerves and make sure that new folks don’t show up late from difficulty finding the office.

Take photos of happy patients in your office. Be sure to include a few photos of patients with the staff. This could become an album on your Facebook page and will drive these patients to visit your page. Once there, they may feel inspired to write a review, comment or like something you’ve posted. Everyone loves to see pictures of themselves! Just be sure to ask permission first. 🙂

Another thing to consider…we had a section in the yearbook last year that was “Kids Say the Darnest Things.” This might be another fun thing to include on your Facebook page with a picture of the kiddo. I’m sure you’ve heard a few doosies! People love kids and puppies. Including a few cute shots should drive more traffic to your page. Again, you just need the parents’ permission and I would recommend only using the child’s first name for privacy reasons.

If you’ve got room in the budget, consider purchasing Facebook timeline ads. I wouldn’t recommend an ad in the right banner of the site because these are typically ignored. Timeline ads are statistically more successful.

Looking at the demographics for your practice, these are the two social media tools I would recommend. You can’t go wrong with Instagram, but it is more work to keep everything up to date. It’s not worth doing if you aren’t going to do it consistently. There’s nothing worse than visiting a page and seeing it hasn’t been updated in months. Pinterest is another widely used platform, but I don’t see it fitting your business as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I hope that this helps others out there trying to build their social media presence in order to drive more business to your office. If you’re over-whelmed, I’m always available for hire. Just shoot me an email and feel free to check out my portfolio. I’d love to help your business grow. Your success is mine!

The Resounding Message

The last six months of my life have been a whirlwind. I got married, went on a honeymoon, formed an LLC, and moved to Singapore all within two weeks. I gave up a job that I loved and said goodbye to family and friends that had turned in to my next of kin. I felt that I was moving away from purpose, which I had found in educating and guiding students, while helping other teachers become familiar with the technology that has become this generation’s language.

Twitter makes your conversation global.

Twitter makes your conversation global.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I found my purpose hadn’t changed, even though my situation had. I started hopping on Twitter more to promote my freelance graphic design and marketing business and happened upon a post by Tomas Laurinavicius about 50 Jobs You Can Easily Do While You #Travel. I retweeted the message and added my own enthusiasm. A conversation ensued between he and I regarding what my circumstances were and where I had traveled.

"spread the happiness, inspire people :)"     Tomas Laurinavicius @tomaslau

“spread the happiness, inspire people :)” –
Tomas Laurinavicius @tomaslau

The main message I received from our correspondence was that I need to share my experiences. Tomas was not the only one sharing this same communication. On my way home from watching Dr. Jane Goodall speak at NTU in Singapore after the Super Bowl on Monday, February 2, I had a taxi driver give me the same resounding message after learning I was a teacher in the US: I need to share my experiences. So, now I am.

Dr. Jane Goodall speaks at Earthlink NTU on Monday, February 2, 2015.

Dr. Jane Goodall speaks at Earthlink NTU on Monday, February 2, 2015.

The changes we have to make in order to save our planet are staggering. It’s entirely depressing to try to look at it on a large scale. The task seems daunting, and more often than not, we’re going to give up before we even begin. Baby steps. Bite size pieces. I believe whole-heartedly in Dr. Goodall’s message that this problem is not the responsibility of this generation to fix because they did not cause it–they inherited it. Regardless of where the blame lies, we all need to make changes, and those changes start locally.

Those changes for me started when I began working with students at St. Francis Episcopal Day School and we formed the St. Francis CARES organization with one of our first priorities being to take on the NAIS 20/20 Challenge. With the help of families in our community, we linked our students with students in Costa Rica, India, Brazil, Australia and China.

We were working very hard to begin a relationship with Duze High School in Swaziland after receiving approval from the king, Mswati III, during his trip to Houston. They are still working to set the school up with internet after receiving a large donation from a St. Francis family.

Danny, Kathryn and Melissa join the King, Mswati III, of Swaziland for dinner at the Aquarium in Houston during the summer of 2013 to connect St. Francis with Duze High School. Many thanks to the Cutts family for making it happen!

Danny, Kathryn and Melissa join the King, Mswati III, of Swaziland for dinner at the Aquarium in Houston during the summer of 2013 to connect St. Francis with Duze High School. Many thanks to the Cutts family for making it happen!

In addition to this effort, the CARES committee, including myself, Kathryn Spinelli and Danny Lewis won the Sarah W. Woolrich Fund For Faculty that allowed two members of the committee to travel to Brazil and begin work to set up an exchange program for students of St. Francis and the American School of Rio de Janeiro (EARJ).

Student members of the CARES group at St. Francis Skype with students at EARJ in Brazil to collaborate on the NAIS 20/20 Challenge.

Student members of the CARES group at St. Francis Skype with students at EARJ in Brazil to collaborate on the NAIS 20/20 Challenge.

It feels like I haven’t even made a dent in the challenges that we face, but as I look back on my @sfyerd Twitter account for photos and resources, I realize just how much effort we’ve put forth to make this world more sustainable. I also realize how many students we are teaching these values to, and that fact alone gives me, as Dr. Goodall would say, a “Reason For Hope”.

Eighth grade students at St. Francis Episcopal Day School plant a tree and share the experience with children at KLI in India via photos and video later.

Eighth grade students in Debbie Harris’ science class at St. Francis Episcopal Day School plant a tree and share the experience with children at KLI in India via photos and video later.

I emailed Dr. Goodall’s personal assistant today after begging for her information from a close college friend. I hope that she will consider going to St. Francis to inspire the community to start making waves of their own in the effort to reach global sustainability.

The resounding message? Communicate. Why? Because this is how we learn and grow. This is how we work together to change our circumstances in order to make them better for the next generation. This is how we save the resources we’ve so flippantly exhausted. This is how we create change.

The Food

I realize that I promised that this blog wouldn’t include a ton about food, but in my defense, this is one of the main questions I’ve been fielding since we moved.

I’ve heard that there are two major things to take in while living in Singapore: eating and shopping. Thus far, we’ve done a great job at the first and if you know me well, you’ll know I’m not too keen on the second.

The food is diverse and you can find whatever you are looking for. Thus far, we’ve enjoyed Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Spanish, French and American genres. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few!

I’ve included a few photos below, but welcome you to check out my Yelp reviews to get a better feel for the culinary experiences we’ve had the opportunity to partake in since our move in mid July.


First course of brunch at Ku Dé Ta on Sunday, August 10. Oysters (ikura, konbu jelly, apple), tuna tataki (onion ponzu, spring onion) and salmon sashimi (shishito dressing, mizuna, uni powder). Click on the photo to read my review on Yelp.


Dave and I took a cab from the Shangri-La to eat breakfast at Hatched. We then enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel. Click the photo to read my review on Yelp.

Dave and I took a cab from the Shangri-La to eat breakfast at Hatched. We then enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel. Click the photo to read my review on Yelp.


Click on the photos below to read more of my Yelp reviews.

   Dinner-at-Barraka-in-Robertson-Quay.     Dinner-at-Brunetti-in-Tanglin-Mall.     Macaroons-and-espresso--at-Hediard-French-cafe-and-delicatessen.     Lunch-at-Caveman-Food-near-Novena-MRT-Station.

In other news, I received the Review of the Day on Yelp for August 10, 2014 in Singapore. Not too bad for a city of 5.2 million people! Yelp-Review-of-the-day-August-10-2014


Settling In

My view of Singapore the night of August 7 during drinks and dinner with GE folks. We were on the 72nd floor of a building in Marina Bay Sands. I now understand where they put the 5.2 million people on this island.

My view of Singapore the night of August 7 during drinks and dinner with GE folks. We were on the 72nd floor of a building in Marina Bay Sands. I now understand where they put the 5.2 million people on this island.

I’m a little over due on this first entry. Dave and I made it safely to Singapore and are starting to learn our way around the city. We are on our last week in the serviced apartment at the Shangri-La and will move in to our condo by the end of the week. It will be a welcome change to have a little bit more space and to be able to comfortably cook a meal in the kitchen.

I’ve been busy doing Yelp reviews, freelance design work, working out and exploring. Dave is trying to get his armed wrapped around all of the responsibilities of his new role. I’ve met a few of his colleagues and superiors and have really enjoyed myself out with a few American families that are also transplants.

I have much more to write about including the food, transportation, accommodations, customs, culture and more. It’s been very eye-opening and I feel like we couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or way to begin our marriage. Glad to have your support as we start this journey.