Apr 22 2015

Upswept Creative at the ACT-W Conference in Portland!

Conference Sticker from ACT-W

ACT-W: Disrupting Tech with Diversity

Last weekend, we had the awesome opportunity to attend the ACT-W (Advancing the Careers of Technical Women)  conference in Portland and we had a great time! As I wrote about fairly recently, the gender gap in tech is pervasive, and ACT-W is doing its part to help support women entering into and working in tech positions. Now in its third year, the conference is growing rapidly, as the Portland tech industry continues to flourish. Here’s a run down of what happened this past weekend!


Friday Night was the kickoff to the event, and featured a rad kick off party at Smarsh – with awesome catered food from Nicholas’ Restaurant, an open bar and plenty of engaged conversation. I arrived fairly late to the game, but still got a chance to sample some fine food, have a relaxing beer and check out the new Smarsh headquarters while reconnecting with friends who were also attending the conference.


Saturday began bright and early at 8:30am – (but not as early as the conference organizers, who were up and running at 7!). We made it downtown for the limited seating breakfast keynote, which touched on being a minority in big tech companies, strategies to interrupt sexism and work, and encouraging diversity in a homogenous industry. The main floor keynote, delivered by Kristin Toth Smith, CEO of Code Fellows, was a great talk on how unconscious biases come in to play in tech workplaces, and offered ideas about how we can all make tech more inclusive!

Upswept Creative on the roster!

Upswept Creative on the roster!

After the keynote, it was time for the lightning talks – a series of 5 minute mini talks on different topics. The talks ranged from UX design to transphobia at work, and were all super compelling, and quite diverse. I was excited to be presenting a lightning talk myself – a short introduction to  the 1960’s, which was the era when my mother got into tech, as a computer operator on an IBM 360/30 mainframe with no prior experience in tech. The audience was super supportive, and I got a ton of great feedback after my presentation!

The rest of the day featured a ton of great workshops on leadership, freelancing, Open Source,  and more, as well as a popular tabling/booth area complete staffed by companies such as CDK global, Simple and Appnexus, as well as organizations like Chicktech, and Lesbians Who Tech with mock interviews. This is the area where Sarah spent most of her Saturday, as Upswept Creative was on hand to offer free headshots to conference attendees!

After Saturdays’ jam-packed schedule, Esri hosted a limited space after party – unfortunately I was unable to attend this or the Sunday workshops, but I am sure they were an awesome experience!

Overall, the conference was a great way to spend a weekend and an important resource for women and girls to be exposed to tech, as well as fostering diversity in a collaborative and meaningful way. Until next year!






Apr 06 2015

Pro Tips: Making the Most of professional services

Professional level work means professional level attention to detail.

Professional level work means professional level attention to detail.

It’s spring in Portland! And what says spring more than flowers and hayfever? Spring cleaning. Now is the time to dust off your website, or start that business you have been dreaming of. And when you do so, these Pro Tips will make make sure you have the best experience you can possibly have.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve touched upon how you can make the most of the services you pay for, for the rest of spring we’ll be focusing on bringing you more pro tips and real-life case studies from those who made it work! We’ll tell you exactly how to plan out your first steps towards a successful website (especially if you’re new to the game), what to expect from a branding or website redesign, secret tips on having an (even better) headshot experience, and more!

Getting Ready to Pro-Level It

Many of our clients’ businesses started small – a hobby, a desire to break out of corporate culture, to become a successful model, real estate agent or actress, or to work independently. If your business is only just starting out, you may be hesitant to make an investment in getting a professional to design your logo, create your website, or photograph your product.

Many of us know a friend who takes “pretty good” photographs, has a printer that will print business cards just fine, or a buddy who built a website for his band back in the day. Why spend money when you don’t know if your venture will be successful – especially if money is thin on the ground? Once you start making money, then you’ll hire someone to do the logo, the design, and the business cards.

This logic is flawed – and much less likely to lead to success. Let me tell you why!

The trouble with hiring “friends” who will work for free or very little is that while intentions are often good, time is often hard to come by. You may find that if a lucrative job offer comes along, or the baby gets sick, it’s your project that ends up at the bottom of the to-do pile, leaving your business stuck in the starting blocks while others already finished the race.

A professional photographer, designer or social media manager does this for a living, and will do what they can to make sure your product is delivered on time and on budget.


The colourless green logo went through many different revisions until we and the client were happy with the final version.

Good design takes time! The Colourless Green logo went through several revisions, until both we and client were happy with the final version.

Additionally, if your talented friend delivers a less-than-stellar product, or even just something that’s very different than you expected, you may find yourself in an awkward situation: now you’re stuck with something you got for “free”, but isn’t what you wanted or expected. Maybe you don’t even want to use it at all! All of a sudden, your relationship is affected, and things feel hard to reconcile, and “Free” is no longer “free of trouble”.

A professional is there to do her job – and that job is to make you, paying customer, happy with the final result. We expect revisions, and we expect critique. No hard feelings!


Professional Headshots don't necessarily mean dull and serious

Professional Headshots don’t necessarily mean dull and serious.

Having a hobby that you want to turn into a professional business is a wonderful place to be – you have passion for a specific idea, you know the market, you know your future clients. But, transforming a side business into a sustainable, viable, thriving business needs more than just passion and some inside knowledge – it requires the ability to evaluate things critically,  and to make decisions that are less driven by emotion, and more by what is good for business.

Any successful professional will give you their feedback on what they think you need to be successful, where your brand direction is on point and where it is lacking. Your success is our success.


If you are about to invest your time and energy into a project, your project is much more likely to be successful if supported by professional level branding, design, and marketing. Investing in the services of a professional means taking your business seriously, and giving it the best possible chance at success.

Ready to talk about making your passion project a success? Get in touch with us!

Apr 02 2015

When April Fool’s Jokes Become Smart Branding

I’ve never been one for pulling pranks, but I can’t help appreciating the creativity that April Fool’s Day seems to bring out in some parts of the internet–especially now that businesses are taking part in clever ways. Instead of being a terror-inducing and mean-spirited occasion, it can become a neat project for the business and a smart move for their brand to have some harmless fun with an April Fool’s Day joke.

Because we love Portland businesses here at Upswept, I’m taking a look at a few local, independent businesses who had a bit of extra fun with their April Fool’s Day.

Ground Kontrol “Artisanal Artcade”


This April Fool’s Day homepage shows what Ground Kontrol might be like if it got a makeover from the staff of Portlandia.

Portland’s own “barcade” Ground Kontrol, normally offers you pints after 5pm, plenty of classic arcade games to keep you entertained, and a dramatic interior with gaming-inspired details. You’ll see sleek seating and tables with lighting elements inside, Pac-Man tiling in the bathroom, and a general atmosphere that makes you wonder if you’ve stumbled onto the set of TRON.

On April Fool’s Day, however, Ground Kontrol unveiled a parody version of their web site with a sharp change in direction: “Ground Kontrol Artisanal Artcade” traded contrast-y, retro-modern design for wood grain textures and old-timey type, and their homepage copy boasted a fancy new menu and craft cocktail menu, and a “de-modeled” interior that rolled back their futuristic look to its original, 1900s-era architecture.

Why it works for their brand: Ground Kontrol is one of the places that makes Portland unique, but much of what the world thinks of when they think of Portland is the opposite of what Ground Kontrol offers: people in flannel shirts, riding fixies, eating an artisanal vegan/gluten-free lunch from a food cart you probably haven’t heard of. ;) Any good parody is born from a love of the thing being parodied, though, so this ends up being a clever way for GK to say, “no, really, Portland, we like being here.”

Fort George Looks to Purchase Anheuser-Busch InBev

I couldn’t help but giggle when we saw this April Fool’s Day press release from local beer crafters at Fort George Brewery. When Anheuser-Busch InBev recently purchased Elysian, another local brewery, there were plenty of alarmed and horrified reactions. With that in our recent collective memory, Fort George’s April Fool’s Day announcement that they were looking purchase InBev made an amusingly perfect response to the buyout of Elysian. The announcement shared quotable lines about their proposed buyout, such as, “‘Bud Light Lime-A-Rita would definitely fill a niche Fort George does not serve,’ explains Jack Harris, co-owner and brew master at Fort George.”

Why it works for their brand: I’ve sampled many a Fort George brew in the past, and uniquely-delicious beers like their Hellcat Trippel prove their far-from-macro approach to brewing. With this fake announcement, Fort George gets to poke some fun at big corporate beers, and remind us that they’re happy being a smaller brewery, and committed to creating beers the best way they know how.

Powell’s Discovers an Exciting New Author

A look at Blue, Minnesota--a made-up book release from Powell's Books.

A look at Blue, Minnesota–a made-up book release from Powell’s Books.

The folks at the world’s largest bookstore definitely planned ahead for this April Fool’s Day: if you were following Powell’s Books on social media yesterday, you saw multiple postings creating buzz and excitement surrounding a new book called Blue, Minnesota: reportedly the first novel ever written by an exciting new author, Todd Furlong.

The team at Powell’s gradually unveiled the joke throughout the day, sharing photos of their staff enjoying the book, and even a Q&A with the author. As the day went on, things got weirder–the author photo featured a suit-and-bowtied body with a cat’s head, and pages of the book were revealed as being nothing but a series of meows. Finally, in the late-afternoon, the Powell’s Facebook page announced, “BREAKING: We’ve been catfished. Todd Furlong’s new novel Blue, Minnesota is in fact just a series of meows transcribed by his overzealous owner.”

Why it works for their brand: Powell’s had a chance to play with the online buzz machine, by generating excitement about something goofy, silly, and 100% made-up. It’s a cute reminder of how easily we can get swept up in the “hottest” new Thing Of The Moment, but underneath that, Powell’s is also reminding us: they’re excited about books, and they want you to be excited about them, too. Even when they’re written by cats. ;)

If you parked near Sizzle Pie, you may have gotten a parking ticket with a surprise inside: it's a couple for a free slice of pizza!

These parking tickets held a surprise inside: a coupon for a free slice at Sizzle Pie!

Sizzle Pie: Parking Tickets with a Surprise

Portland purveyors of pizza deliciousness Sizzle Pie did a great job of taking a shocking prank and turning it into a happy ending. Little yellow envelopes that look nearly identical to the ones the City of Portland uses for parking citations appeared on cars parked near Sizzle Pie locations.

Upon closer inspection, however, there are telltale signs that this is no ordinary parking ticket–like the, “Pizza Alert System Headquarters” address on the front. Pranked victims then pull out the citation, and see a slip of paper formatted like a City of Portland parking citation… but it’s actually a coupon for a free slice of pizza!

Why it works for their brand: This might be my favorite prank of the day: it’s good exposure that will stick in the memories of locals, and it works because what looks to be bad luck turns out to be a good gift. Sizzle Pie won’t shy away from a bit of mischief, but really, they just want Portlanders to enjoy delicious pizza. The down side? We seriously hope those who were hit by this prank took the time to look at the ticket, rather than throwing it away in anger and missing out on the payoff.

Mar 05 2015

Lessons from the Lesbians Who Tech Summit!

Repping Upswept at the 2nd annual Lesbians Who Tech conference!

Repping Upswept at the 2nd annual Lesbians Who Tech conference in 2015!

If you are a woman in the tech industry and feel your most recent Portland tech conference was mostly populated by white, 25-35 year old men, you wouldn’t be incorrect. A recent survey by Bloomberg shows that silicone valley big hitters such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter are all failing to get above the 30% women mark, globally, across the board! If you are a lesbian or queer person, and even more so if you are a lesbian or queer person of color, the numbers are even more dire.

We at Upswept Creative are excited and proud, however, to have better diversity numbers than our competition! I myself have been openly gay since I was a teen, and we openly embrace diversity in our team. After hearing about the local Portland chapter of Lesbians Who Tech, I was excited to attend the Lesbians Who Tech Summit from February 26th-March 1st in San Francisco. Over 1200 women attended from all over the US, and the agenda was packed with amazing workshops and presentations regarding diversity issues, making smart career choices, and who technology can support social justice efforts. Here are some notes from the summit!

Diversity is important because it leads to more success.

Companies with female board members tend to be more successful than companies without. But while females comprise roughly 50% of the adult population, there are more male CEO’s called John in the United States than there are CEOs who are female! Companies with diverse employees tend to be more successful because they can appeal to a broader market. Diversity is more than just hiring women – it also means hiring older people, younger people, people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, gay, queer and transgendered people, people who are differently able, and people who have non-traditional backgrounds.

Takeaway: Make your company appeal to a diverse audience by putting diverse people in your offices – not just in your advertising. If you are not in a position to affect hiring decisions: actively support diversity goals by joining interest groups, fostering connections, and supporting local diversity initiatives.

Support Women by providing work environments that are pregnancy/child friendly.

There are plenty of techy women available for hire :)  Photo by: Evelyn Rios @evelynriossf

There are plenty of techy women available :)
Photo by: Evelyn Rios

According to an article published by the New York Times a few days ago, there are more male CEO’s called John in the United States than there are CEOs who are female! A big reason for this is motherhood. Not all women will become mothers, but for those that do, working full or even part time can be a challenge. Work with your employees and colleagues to find solutions that allow for a more flexible schedule, including working remotely. Accommodate breastfeeding mothers by providing a private area to pump milk. Hire women who are trying to get back into working after taking maternity leave.

Takeaway: Mothers are amazing multitaskers, mature communicators and driven problem solvers by necessity – a real asset to any project team.

Strengthen relationships to empower your community to success.

For me, it was an amazing experience to attend a tech conference that was geared towards Lesbians and Queer women. It allowed me to relax and be myself, while also allowing me to network extensively with sympathetic peers. Lesbians Who Tech was an amazing opportunity for mutually beneficial connections to form, all while supporting a community that needs to empower itself to manifest change. Even if you do not belong to any specific minority group, connecting with a community of likeminded peers can provide you with the support to reach your own personal goals, which in turn can inspire others to take the first step.

Takeaway: Get connected to others with whom you share common ground. Let’s keep supporting each other!


Portland professional photographer | Portland branding agency | Upswept Creative

Feb 19 2015

Brand Exposure, The Old-Fashioned Way

Are you a small Portland business, a local start-up, a one woman (or man) band with an innovative product or a new idea? You’re not alone! Learn how to get your brand noticed the old fashioned way!

The outset is familiar: Many of us who own and run small businesses are looking to connect with others and tell our story in order to solidify our brand, broaden our reach, and gain new customers. But, even if you have a great website, a killer social media presence, a professional headshot and some really neat business cards (ideally designed by us),  sometimes you need to branch out a little in order to reach new customers and clients. Sometimes – heaven forbid – we need to get out of the office into the fray! Here are some fresh new ideas to help you get connected – outside of the walls that are your studio, your home office, or your production site.

1.) Meet the competition


Don’t be afraid to seek out others who share your dream! Healthy competition can motivate you to improve and stand out.

Regardless of whether you run a niche business or have a unique take on something, there are like-minded people who work in your field – even if their approach is different. Some may be way ahead of you on their path, others might be starting out. Competition does not have to be a your bad thing, but can instead inspire you to work smarter, learn new skills, and identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and your business. Check out a trade show if one exists for your area, stop by some boutiques in a different part of town or in a different city, check out the web and design projects other people have been working on. The key here is to be confident in your own abilities and not too easily discouraged, you are not there to compare, but to identify! Take notes on what you like and what you dislike as you evaluate others work – understanding yourself is the key to building an authentic brand that represents you well and connects with others. Let others know who you are and what you are working on – a great opportunity to collaborate may present itself.

2.) Connect with your personal interests

It’s not all business, nor should it be. For many of us, our motivations stem from a personal passion, interest, or identity! Being part of a community that considers you an insider will make it easier for you to approach and be approached for work. Upswept is closely connected to Roller Derby and local fashion producers – its no wonder people know us from these communities and solicit us for work based on our involvement! This can happen for you, too – make sure your communities, whatever they may be, know about your brand and your business. This can be through contributing to message board or website dedicated to certain interest, or attending conferences, events, and summits for like-minded folks. On that note: I’m super stoked to be attending the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco this year, in fact I’ll be live blogging it while I’m there from the 26th-1st!

Connecting with the communities you are involved in can help your brand get noticed.

Connecting with the communities you are involved in can help your brand get noticed.

3.) Give back to get more

Another way to get yourself out there, to meet new people and get more attention on your brand is to consider giving back. In December of last year, I posted about how organizing a fundraiser can help generate new buzz for your business – a great example is our own Bowlful of Heart Pet Food Drive. There are many other ways to give back and strengthen your brand. You can volunteer for a local cause or event. Sponsoring a cause or sports team that resonates with you is another great option. (Upswept Creative is excited to be sponsoring the Portland Roller Derby team the High Rollers this year!), or offer your products as prizes for a benefit or fundraisers. People will be more likely to recognize you and your brand if they connect you to a positive experience! Be sure to promote your efforts on your blog and social media!

How have you been able to connect with new customers and clients in the past? If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, please let us know!

Jan 28 2015

Saddling Up for a Fun Social Media Campaign

We launched a five-day social media campaign last week, and we had some, ahem, unique personalities stopping by the studio to be a part of it, earlier in the month.

professional photography - Venus de Mileage, a.k.a. "Frank from Jersey," helps a fellow bachelor complete the look.

Venus de Mileage, a.k.a. “Frank from Jersey,” helps a fellow bachelor complete the look.

We’re sponsoring the High Rollers in their 2015 roller derby season, and this past weekend, they threw The High Rollers Showdown Throwdown, a fundraiser party to support the team, and keep them outfitted with the gear, uniforms, and training opportunities they need for a winning season. One of the planned events of the evening was a Bachelor Auction with a twist: the “Bachelors” were female skaters, taking on male drag personas, complete with western outfits to match the old-timey saloon theme of the party.

We were able to coax these five skaters down to Upswept HQ, to be transformed into their Bachelor personas in front of our camera. For some of our Bachelors, this wasn’t their first trip to the rodeo–they came prepared with authentic-looking mustaches and swagger to spare!–but some of these skaters weren’t fully prepared to see themselves as their Bachelor personas.

“Oh my god, it looks REAL! Like a real beard! How does it look so real?”

Social media campaign graphics - Just one of the five "Bachelors" auctioned off at the fundraiser!

Just one of the five “Bachelors” auctioned off at the fundraiser!

Fortunately, the supporting each other is one of the core values of the roller derby community, so the skaters pitched in with their makeup skills and drag king secrets, to help each other look their dude-liest for the auction.

Once they were dressed and ready, we did a quick photoshoot with each Bachelor, and then worked up the photos into five different poster-style graphics, which we blasted out via the High Rollers’ social media channels. We used a heavier hand with the styling, and took inspiration from the saloon theme of the party, resulting in posters that were two parts Old West “Wanted” Poster, and one part Magazine Cover.

The results? The Bachelor Auction was a hotly anticipated highlight of the fundraiser, and we even turned the graphics into framed and autographed posters, that turned out to be popular raffle prizes! The party was even hailed by some alumni skaters as the best in High Rollers history, and the team is kicking off the early season with full pockets and even fuller hearts.

We had way too much fun putting this project together, and re excited to have played even a small role in making their fundraiser more successful.

Interested in a poster of your own?

Only a few lucky people could win the one-of-a-kind framed and autographed prints of the Showdown Throwdown Bachelors, but after all the wonderful feedback we got from this campaign, we’re offering a limited run of Bachelor Auction prints! You can now order a print of your favorite bachelor online, or even a set of ALL FIVE, with every order benefitting the High Rollers.

View/Order Bachelor Auction Prints! >


Portland professional photographer | Portland branding agency | Upswept Creative

Jan 20 2015

Making the most of your headshot!

Portland professional headshots Rachel Edidin

Just be your authentic, awesome self, and we’ll do the rest.

One of the things that seems to stay the same, no matter the year, is our relationship with the things that are currently impacting our lives, the things that are happening now – the bus you’re about to miss, the date you’re about to go on, the bill you forgot to pay. If you’re a busy Portland professional with a million things happening, thinking about your headshot may not the first thing on your mind. For us at Upswept Creative, it’s not so very different – we’re busy thinking about our clients, our projects and the plans we have for this year!

But we know all too well that the day will come when you wake up and realize your headshot is completely out of date–let me guess: you are working on updating your LinkedIn because you feel you need a better job? You need help. When you need to step up, professionally? Let a professional help you.

Here’s how you go from awkward mirror selfie to professional-level portrait in three easy steps.

1. Book an appointment with us at Upswept Creative!

Whether you are an aspiring manager, model, project executive, actor or a wellness coach, we can make your headshot work for you.We are local to Portland, Oregon, and have years of experience doing what we do. We have a flexible schedule with morning, daytime and evening hours, and a convenient Old Town location you can reach by car, bus, or bike. We have a private bathroom you can change in, so feel free to bring more than one outfit. If you are looking for professional hair and makeup, we can organize that too! Our headshot packages are affordable, and allow you to order extra high-resolution photos as well as physical prints. Go ahead and make a commitment to going pro – you can book and pay for your headshot online with just a few clicks.

Is the world going to end if you're not smiling in a photo? We don't think so. :)

Is the world going to end if you’re not smiling in a photo? We don’t think so. :)

2. Tell us a little about yourself.

Start by thinking: “What do I want my photo to say about me?” For many small business owners, you are the product. Consider the environment your photo will be used in. Take a look at other people’s headshots, both those you like, and those you don’t. Don’t be shy to show us examples or tell us specifically what you’re looking for – the more information we have, the easier it is for us to make you happy.

3. Get in the zone.

A lot could be said about preparing to get your photo taken, which is why, in the past, we have taught entire workshops such as Make the Camera Love You in 2014. But a lot boils down to some very simple rules:

  • Wear something that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and completely awesome.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – i.e. the blemish on your chin, or that you might blink when the shutter clicks.
  • You don’t have to smile, if you don’t want to. Just be your authentic self, and let us do the rest.

We look forward to seeing you in the Upswept Creative studio in NW Portland!

Jan 05 2015

Goal Setting: What can you learn from yourself?

If you’re an independent business owner, you’ve probably spent a lot of time reflecting over the past year.

How did your year go? If you’re like a lot of folks, there were probably some plans that went swimmingly, and others that, well, didn’t go quite as nicely as you hoped. I’m certainly no exception to that! Fact is, when you’re trying new things, whether they go well or poorly, they often don’t turn out quite like you expected.

So, you might be asking yourself: what things did I do last year that made me actually feel successful?

Can I use strategies in my business that made me successful in derby? Yes! (photo courtesy of Regularman)

Can I use strategies in my business that made me successful in roller derby? YES! (photo courtesy of Regularman)

I looked to other parts of my life when I thought about that question, and the thing that stuck out most? Roller Derby. I came into 2014 as a pretty green derby player–I had little play time in my rookie season, I was still learning the game, and I definitely had skating skills that needed help. But, by the end of the year, I became a heavily-utilized player for my beloved home team, I’d won an MVP award, I made it onto RCR’s All-Star Travel Team, and the league voted for me as the Most Improved Skater of the year. For someone at my level, it was a pretty darned successful year of derby play!

I must have done something right to have such a great season, so I thought, “what did I do to make these successes happen? What can I learn from that?” And, there were things I did for derby that could definitely bring into Real Life, and into Business.

Small steps add up to big goals.

Early last year, I had skating skills that needed a lot of work. (granted, they can always be better, but you get my meaning!) I needed a plan to work on them, but I thought, “how will I find the time to work on these skills, when I already have so much going on in my life, and so many practices to attend?”

portland-design-agency_past-success-in-businessSo, I folded little tasks into my regular practice schedule. I made a deal with myself to do at least 8 plow stops after each practice. When I was in a pace line, I told myself to always skate lower than the person in front of me. I added forward/backward transitions into my pre-scrimmage warmups. Just by doing those little things, all of those skills improved, and so did my skating overall–no extra trips to the skate track necessary.

Translate it to business: Something I’d like to improve upon is networking. It’s often an overwhelming thing for me, and finding more time for it seems impossible! So, I plan to take small steps, like attending one networking event per month more than I did last year, and meeting at least one treasured connection for coffee/drinks each month. With any luck, it’ll add up, just like those skating skills did.

Seek out feedback, share, and listen for ideas.

Asking for feedback can be a tough thing, at times, but there were certainly moments when I took the time to start conversations with other skaters about what I was struggling with. Sometimes, they had good advice for me, and I’d come away with something new to try. Sometimes, just by listening to the questions other people asked our coaches, I’d hear something in the discussion that I could apply to my own skating. You’re never the only one who’s struggling, and you can always learn from each other.

Translate it to business: My business has evolved quite a bit over the past three years, and the strategies that felt right at the beginning aren’t quite so fitting anymore. Something I’d love to have when I’m feeling stuck is feedback and outside perspective. So, one of my plans for this year is to seek out a new business advisor, to get some good coaching and feedback.

Be committed, but recognize your limits.

When I tried out for Travel Team, I knew there would be a lot of work ahead. And, that was on top of the time I dedicate to my Home Team, and all the work I do for Upswept, plus much-needed self-care, and time I spend with my sweetie and my friends and family… the list goes on, right? Still, if it’s something you really want, you make the time… sometimes, even when it’s not there.

For Travel Team, we had to make 80% attendance, but I habitually make 100% attendance for my Home Team–sometimes, even extra credit! The idea of less than 100% felt almost wrong, but you know what? Giving 100% of yourself, to 100% of the things you want to do, 100% of the time isn’t always the most sustainable lifestyle.

So, I used that 80% requirement. When I went to practice, I’d give it everything I had, but if I tweaked a muscle or ligament the wrong way, I’d give myself permission to sit out and rest it. If I was completely fried from a day at Upswept HQ and I had no energy left for a practice, I’d let myself stay home that night–I’d get that time for a break and some self-care, still make 80%, and I’d be that much more ready to give it my all at the next practice.

Translate it to business: I did well at being committed, but not overcommitting in 2014–even during the tough times, I usually pulled back before I got too seriously burned out. Yet, I also wound up skipping out on some potentially-fruitful things, because I was too wiped from other obligations. SO, I think being more strategic about what I say No to is the lesson to learn for this year!

What can YOU learn from your own big wins?

Even if you had a tough run in 2014, there IS something you did really well last year, and you can learn from it. Even if it’s only a small part of a bigger scheme, there’s something to take forward with you. Maybe you really rocked it on your e-newsletter. Or, maybe you did a great job of being a parent, or saved up for a car. Maybe you got out of debt, or ran a race, or tried something new and scary.

Whatever it was, it was a Big Win, and you likely had a plan to make it happen… even if you didn’t know it at the time. So, take a moment to learn from yourself, and from something you did that made you feel AWESOME.

Dec 31 2014

Making 2015 Awesome: New Year, New Ideas, New Business!


This holds true whichever year it is. Let Upswept Creative help build your brand!

Hello 2015 – Goodbye 2014! The New Year is only hours away, the bubbly is already chilling, the resolutions are already written (let’s hope they are different from last year). Is creating new business this next year one of your goals? You are probably not the only one! In this final installment of “Making 2015 Awesome”, we’ll take a closer look at what you can do to jumpstart the success of your brand this coming year!

1.) Go public with your goals.

Many people focus on the future this time of year – many of us have resolutions, whether personal or private. Take advantage of the collective atmosphere of renewal by getting your customers on your side. One way to do this is to blog openly about your new year’s goals – actively drawing people in to your journey and your success. Creating a compelling story on social or on your blog will allow your customers to participate in said story, bolstering your traffic and your business.

The ladies of Confident Creatives launched an all-new venture (with photos by us!) in 2014. What will you do in 2015?

The ladies of Confident Creatives launched an all-new venture (with photos by us!) in 2014. What will you do in 2015?

2.) Launch something new.

There are many options for this one–which is why you can make it your own, regardless of your brand or business. Create a sale, offer a time-limited coupon, review your price list, change a menu around, play with the layout of your newsletter, update your slides, change your header image on social or on your site, make a weekly giveaway, start a youtube channel…the list is endless, but the end goal is the same: Keep yourself looking fresh. People notice changes – virtually and in the real world. Now is the time to renew – personally, and professionally.

3.) Create some mystery!

If you are not quite ready for a big reveal, don’t worry! As we all know, sometimes even our best intentions get derailed. If you are more of a long-term planner who doesn’t want to make a quick decision, or you have some big news in the pipeline that is not quite ready yet, don’t blow it all in the first few weeks of the year. Instead, opt for another route: Create some mystery.  Create a series of posts, email blasts or social media posts to create a the buzz before you launch your big news in a couple of weeks or months. Other people’s big news and big changes may have fizzled out already, and you’ll be rising above the crowd.

Dec 26 2014

Doing It!: Catching up with Portland’s ethical jeweler Valerie Kasinskas


from our photoshoot with VK Designs, for the “Dark Sparkle” collection

An interview with Valerie Kasinskas from VK Designs

I’m a big fan of VK Designs–in fact, I look at something Valerie made every single day. How come? She made the wedding rings for my wife and I! Valerie’s unique style really resonated with my wife’s elegant and naturalistic style, while being simple enough for me.

We at Upswept Creative thought this made a great excuse to catch up with Valerie, Portland’s ethical jeweler, and see what she has been working on since our photoshoot together, as well as getting some more insight into how she got started.

Q: How did you get started making jewelry?

VK: “I studied and received my BFA in Metalsmithing in 2006. I studied everything from blacksmithing to goldsmithing and worked both large and small for quite a few years. Little by little, the sculptures got smaller and smaller. In the last 5 years, I have been focusing more on the smaller scale and creating mostly custom, bespoke engagement and wedding jewelry.”

“While in school, I began questioning where the metals and materials were being sourced from in the year 2001 and found very few answers. Over the years, I began digging deeper and slowly building a network of trusted suppliers and like-minded jewelers. I am proud to work closely with a wonderful group–Ethical Metalsmiths. We are continually working towards educating, sourcing ethically and transforming the industry.”

Q: What are a couple of your favorite pieces that you’ve designed?

VK: There are so many pieces that I just adore that it is hard to pin down! Each piece is custom, personal and such a strong symbol that represents the client in a visual way. I recently created a custom wedding ring set for a couple, using Fairmined gold from a mine that I work directly with in Peru, and even had the honor of visiting this same mine last year. (You can read about the experience here.)


Custom 20k Fairmined gold wedding ring set by VK Designs

My clients had traveled in Peru together, and the significance of being connected to and knowing where the gold was from was very important & powerful for them.

Q: What you feel is unique about being an independent jewelry maker in Portland?

VK: I feel that Portlanders really are not typical consumers on many levels, and that also includes their desire for meaningful and personal jewelry. I work with many clients that have very unique and beautiful styles, styles that we infuse into their symbolic jewelry that they are proud to wear. Portlanders are inquisitive and want to know where their food comes from, as well as where their gold comes from!

I am proud to have the most amazing, aware, and creative clients.

Q: What’s next for you and your jewelry line?

VK: I am very excited to continue sourcing ethically, creating one of a kind pieces and want to create more with Fairmined gold and Fairmined silver in 2015. My co-designer (and twin sister), Rachel and I will be featuring Fairmined silver designs in our 2015 line for the Dark Sparkle Collection in 2015 as well. For more info about Fairmined metals, visit fairmined.org.