Brand Crush: 23 & 9 Creative

brandcrush-01 Sooo over the moon to introduce this new blog series! There are so many makers + creators that I dearly admire in this creative community, so I'm pumped to start sharing them with you!! And no better person to kick it off than my sweet, Christmas-loving, New York living, always optimistic, do-it-aller BFF Chelsea of 23 & 9 Creative! Chelsea and I went to college together, although we didn't really become close until I was almost finished--which is a reality that I cry about still (not really--but kind of.) We studied abroad together in England and had THE best adventures, from touring haunted mansions to drowning our long-distance relationship sorrows with pancakes and shopping every Saturday. She is a designer extraordinaire, is so full of wisdom and sunshine, and I am grateful every day to call her friend. She works for TIME magazine (her office view overlooks Rockefeller. #jawdrop), runs an amazing branding studio and is half of our little print shop, Love By Design! I know you'll love Chelsea and her brand 23 & 9 Creative as much as I do. Introducing: Chelsea!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you + what do you do?

I’m a small town girl from Idaho living my dream life in New York City. I drink way too much coffee, love Christmas (more than a normal person), have a ridiculous collection of Ampersands and get so giddy over creating a design that is not only beautiful but tells a story. My job is to create genuine brands at an affordable price for small businesses that share their authenticity and match their passion. I believe everyone deserves to have their dream branding and I’m here to help!

Describe your typical day.

My typical day is the opposite of typical. It’s wild and crazy and long and stressful and I love it. Along with running 23&9 Creative, I have a full time job as an Assistant Art Director at TIME Magazine! I get to work around 10:30 am and spend the day designing pages about everything from health & tech, to Taylor Swift, to special issues! Right now I’m actually in the midst of designing the TIME 100 which is one of TIME’s biggest issues of the year - I have over 100 pages to design before April 15th! So there’s that. And it’s amazing. I work until around 6:30 - 7:00 pm while peaking at my email and Etsy every so often to stay up to date with 23&9 during the day.

I try and work out most days and am usually taking a barre, spin, kickboxing or rowing class from around 7:30 - 8:30. Sometimes after that a quick trip to the grocery store is needed. This past year I’ve adapted an almost completely paleo diet and it involves a lot of grocery shopping, cooking and meal prep. Sometimes it gets exhausting and honestly is the first thing that falls to the wayside when I’m busy. But I try my hardest and that’s all that matters, right?

I try and be home and have dinner by 9:30 - 10pm (I know. It’s late.), give myself about half an hour to just be and not think about anything design related (this usually involves watching Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Voice, etc.).

Around 10:30, office hours for 23&9 Creative begin! I’ve hopefully answered most emails already throughout the day and can start working on my projects. Logo designs, resumes, websites, t-shirt designs, prints - you name it and I’m probably working on it! Valerie and I also have another project we created together - a print shop called Love By Design! We create prints to inspire and donate a portion of all our sales every month to a different organization we believe in. So this is also time to be working on that. I’m probably simultaneously cooking lunch for tomorrow or whipping up my favorite paleo muffins. And then finally around 1am it’s time for bed and to do it all again tomorrow!

 What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity?

Instagram is a HUGE inspiration to me. Pinterest as well, but instagram gives me a connection to other designers and creativity I don’t get anywhere else. I am pretty busy during the day, but when I’m on the subway on my way to work / working out / home I love to just be able to scroll through my feed and screenshot some inspiration. I’ll throw it all into a folder in my albums on my phone and curate ideas for new products, inspiration for projects I’m working on right now and future ideas I want to use. I also like to just put on some music (lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Ingrid Michaelson and obviously Taylor Swift) and just let myself think and play around with ideas. I’m really bad at drawing so a lof the time I don’t doodle with pen and paper, but more digitally.

How did you get started doing what you do?

When I was a junior in college (majoring in Journalism Graphics), I realized I had had an absurd amount of friends asking me to design their resumes over the past few months. I had recently been obsessing over how great Etsy was and had the idea that maybe, just maybe, people would pay me to design their resumes. So I designed 4-5 templates and set them free on the internet to see what would happen. Within 24 hours I had my first order and the rest is history. Up until this past year, 23&9 Creative was focused solely on resume design. But I started to fall more in love with logo design and webdesign and just relaunched my shop in February as a branding studio!

What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?)

  1. Design Love Fest is my all time favorite blog. I can’t get enough of Bri and her incredible talent! She is so inspiring!

  2. Logo Design Love is an awesome book that I refer back to all the time when I’m designing. It’s jam packed full of information, techniques and ideas that always spark creativity.

  3. You may laugh at this one, but when I was in college my mom sent The Martha Rules (Yes, as in Martha Stewart) to read when I first opened my Etsy shop. It completely inspired me that I can do anything I put my mind to and really lays out the most important dos and don’ts of starting a business from the queen of creativity herself!

What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest?

Honestly, this is something I need to work on. Giving myself some rest. I love to binge watch Netflix, play with my cuddly cat Snowflake, go on random photoshoots in the city with my friends, find new cute coffee shops, explore new areas of the city and anytime I get to spend with my boyfriend is always so refreshing! He lives in DC so every minute we get to spend together is treasured time!

If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say?

Last fall Valerie and I went to the Influence Conference in Indianapolis. I learned so much about myself, my company and my vision. But someone said something to us that I will never, ever forget. We were talking to Lindsey Sherbondy of Lindsey Letters and she told us that there is always room for everybody. Especially having a shop on Etsy can be extremely intimidating. There are (what seems like) a million other shops doing the exact thing I’m doing - so why would anybody care about my little shop? But every single person is different. No one is selling the same thing. No one has the exact same style. You have your passion and creativity for a reason - run with it! So what if there are hundreds of other people doing what you do. There is room for you and you can make it happen!

Share five products/apps that make your life easier / you can't life without.

  1. Google Docs: I recently have been in the process of creating systems for myself to help make my life easier and Google Docs is a game changer. I have folders for all types of documents, clients, etc. and can access them all from ANYWHERE. I have it on my phone, my computer at home, my computer at work - it’s really amazing and a tool that is so worth taking the time to set up and organize!

  2. Pinterest: This one might be obvious, but I use Pinterest with my clients when we are creating a moodboard for their new brand. I create private boards to share with them to pin all of their inspiration on! Then I can see their comments and look over everything in one place instead of several emails full of new ideas. It is SO helpful!

  3. Afterlight: I use afterlight to edit all of my photos for instagram! There are so many great photo editing apps out there, but this is just the one I fell in love with the most. They also have a really cool feature where you can record actions to add to a photo - basically like a photoshop action - so all of your colors stay consistent!

  4. The Day Designer: The planner I could not live without! Whitney English has curated the most perfect life planner a creative could ever ask for. From big picturing life planning to daily inspirational quotes, list and hour by hour planning - This is THE planner for creative entrepreneurs.

  5. Power Sheets: Lara Casey’s Power Sheets LITERALLY turned my business around. These are a must have if you aren’t sure about your business, life or just need some direction. The Power Sheets take you on a journey to better understand yourself, your life, your hopes and dreams and help you make it all happen. Step by step they walk you through discovering yourself and reaching your goals.

Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to?

Well, as absolutely cliche as this may be - Shake It Off ALWAYS, without a doubt, puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance! I don’t even want to see how many times I’ve listened to it because it’s a ridiculous number. But Taylor - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. (You can give it a listen right here!)

Be sure to check out the 23 & 9 Creative website, and follow Chelsea on Instagram!

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