Sep 26 2016

Building a Nest for a Happy Brand

When we first met with Emily of Happy Nest, she had a busy day-to-day of running her professional organizing business and caring for her young children. She had the start of an online presence, but her brand didn’t feel like a good fit. “It’s just… not awesome,” she told us. So, we made a plan to turn her disappointment into excitement, and rebuilt her brand from the ground up.

Photography: a view into a brand

Professional Headshots Portland
Professional headshot of Owner, Emily (hair/makeup: Jessica Belknap)

Our photography session was a great opportunity to get to know her work and what drives her. When I moved through the spaces she’d organized, I could quickly see how her organizing work could make an entire lifestyle more orderly. And, as a mother of three (including twins!), she clearly had to be smart and creative with her solutions to keep her own life running smoothly.

Emily’s work is about creating balance and ease, rather than rigid rules. So, “helping you create a more calm and peaceful nest,” was a great way to capture that ease and show that her solutions are designed to fit your life.

Logo Design: making a nest modern

Finding the right look for Happy Nest’s logo was no small feat. The first logo had a flat, illustrated look to it, but we soon learned that Emily craved a cleaner look that wasn’t quite so literal. After a few rounds of design, we arrived at a logo that felt like just the right fit for Happy Nest.

Website Design: simplicity and structure

The Happy Nest web site didn’t have complicated needs, but, “simple,” doesn’t mean, “boring.” We wanted to create a clean look that echoes the structure that Happy Nest can bring to your life, and we’d learned a lot about Emily’s personal style and aesthetic during the project. We saw pleasing colors and clean geometric patterns in her own decor. So, we let photos from our photography session set the tone on her homepage, and framed it with patterns and colors that spoke to her.

Then, we did rounds of testing to ensure that the site worked well on mobile devices, because her clients are often busy, on-the-go people. The end result is a site that communicates her brand more strongly, and makes details about her services easy to find. (and really, if there’s anyone should have a well-organized, easy-to-use web site, it’s a professional organizer! 😉 )

Desktop web site
Desktop web site

Mobile site
Mobile site


Jul 06 2016

Take Better Product Photos and Make More Sales

Can Better Product Photos Help You Make The Sale?

IMG_1354You have a killer product, and you know how much time and sweat you put into making it just right. But, making your product amazing is only part of the battle. Showing off your products with beautiful, high-quality photos can also make the difference between getting that sale or losing it.

When you’re selling your goods online, perceived value helps you make that sale. When your product photos are of good quality, you build trust in your customer. And, if you’re selling on marketplace sites like Etsy or Amazon, or selling via Pinterest, you need to stand out. A good product photo makes online shoppers want to choose you over all the others.

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales with Product Photos Made Simple.

Team Upswept is working on Product Photos Made Simple, a whole collection of simple, do-it-yourself tips that anyone can use to create better product photos, more consistently, and in less time. Even if the only camera you have is a smartphone, you can get photos that make your products more crave-able, so you make more sales!

Take Better Photos and Make More Sales!

Get Product Photos Made Simple! »

This guide is designed for you–not for pro photographers.

This guide is NOT for professional photographers! Product Photos Made Simple is a How-To for busy small business owners and creatives who want better-quality photos with minimum fuss.

We’re working on Product Photos Made Simple because we know how it can be when you’re just starting out. We’re thinking of Etsy sellers, startups, small businesses, emerging fashion designers, creatives who do custom commissions… the list goes on. A lot of you out there may not be ready to buy fancy photo gear or hire a professional photographer yet, but we want to help you get there, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

That’s why Product Photos Made Simple is designed to give you the knowledge and techniques to get cleaner, more consistent product photos in less time. Even if all you have is a smartphone, you’ll get tips you can use to make better photos easily.

Here’s a sneak preview of just some of what you’ll get:

  • Lighting basics to help you get great shots without equipment
  • Do’s and Don’ts for getting consistent results
  • Ways to control or even build lighting without stressing your budget
  • The best photo apps for your phone, and how to use them to get the best possible results
  • Tips on how to do product styling when you don’t know where to begin
  • Knowing when it might be time for you to hire a professional, and where to start

Support the Product Photos Made Simple IndieGogo campaign, and you’ll be among the first to get this super-helpful guide! Click the button below to get the details and reserve your copy, or pick up one of our extra-special campaign rewards!

Get product photo tips that help your business grow, all in one place!

Pre-Order Product Photos Made Simple! »


May 12 2016

All Work and No Play Makes Dull Creative Work!

It’s all too easy to get stuck in work mode. Working long hours, rushing to the gym, then going home to eat something and fall asleep. Only to wake up early and do it all again. But as a creative agency–or any type of business, really!–it’s important for us to remember take play breaks.

Design Week Portland helped us take a break a few weeks back. This year’s opening party featured fun and games to help creative types unwind. For me, it can be hard to silence the little voice in the back of my mind, reminding me to send that email or make sure I did that thing I was supposed to do (remember that thing?!). But it was impossible to be distracted by projects and to-do lists while I was snuggling a 5-week-old puppy or defending my Jenga champion crown.

The next day, I felt a little lighter thinking of that adorable puppy and that silly 60-second portrait drawing. Those happy memories brought a smile to my face when I needed a boost, and I felt more ready to take on the creative challenges of my day. A little excitement can go a long way in replenishing those creative juices. People are like cars: we all need to stop and refuel from time to time.

This week, find time to play more. See what happens when you give yourself a recess. Does it make you a happier person? More creative? More inspired?

Creating something fun in a different medium can recharge you for your everyday work.
Creating something fun in a different medium can refresh you for your everyday work.
There's nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!
There’s nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!

When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.
When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.



May 06 2016

Bringing strong brand to web design for Random Order Pie Bar

The "Before" Picture: Random Order's old site didn't incorporate their updated branding.
The “Before” Picture: Random Order’s old site didn’t incorporate their updated branding.

When a once-humble pie shop gains a worldwide audience, a lot of eyes will suddenly be looking for it, especially on the internet--a lot of business dream of that level of fame, but not all of them are ready for it! It’s easy for a potential new fan to see you in a magazine or on TV, pull out their smartphone, and go online to find the best pie in Portland. That means the pressure is on your web site to make a great first impression, and give them what they need to find you.

Random Order Pie Bar was more ready for fame than some, when Travel & Leisure magazine first rated their Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie among “America’s Best”. When the owner of Random Order reached out to Team Upswept, they had updated their signage, menus, and other brand assets with a bolder and more polished look, and they also wisely gathered high-quality photos of their beautiful and positively scrummy pies!

But, even with all of these assets in their hands, their brand refresh was far from complete. None of their new brand imagery was being used effectively in their online presence, and they were also losing potential customers because of their not-so-mobile-friendly web site. The overall look-and-feel of the old web site felt heavy and staid, which didn’t fit at all with the welcoming and active environment of their cafe. That’s where Team Upswept came in!

Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order's updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)
Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order’s updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)

Our first order of business was designing the new web site to make the best use of their brand assets. Their updated logo now shows front-and-center with a gorgeous, full-width photo of their now-famous pie, and brand fonts are also used prominently, to tie in with their printed menus and advertisements. Their “Pie to the People” tag line also appears in multiple locations throughout the site, so this clever catch phrase can stick in the minds of future tourists and customers.

We also updated their menus to highlight both their pie flavors and cafe selections, with prominent calls to action for special ordering your favorite pie, or visiting the shop for a coffee drink and a slice. And, of course, we incorporated more of the lovely photos of the food, drinks, and cafe space throughout the site, to share the quality of their hand-crafted treats, and the community they’ve built over the years.

Random Order's new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.
Random Order’s new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.

And, now that Random Order’s reach extends far outside of its Portland, Oregon home, we made sure their web site would be easy to use for visiting tourists and local enthusiasts alike, by building a web site design that displays gracefully on mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices to learn about their pies–especially when traveling in from out of town–it’s absolutely critical that Random Order Pie Bar have a mobile site which is easy to use.

The new mobile site for Random Order achieves the same goals as the desktop version, and brings the brighter, more welcoming look to people on-the-go, and folks who are looking to sample a slice or a whole order of their famous pies can easily find their location or contact them with questions or special orders.

If you know me, then you know that I get more than a little excited about pie, so working with people who make some of the absolute best pie in Portland was a total blast. My only complaint? Looking at all of those photos made me so very hungry pie. Maybe that’s my cue to head up to Alberta St. and grab a world-famous slice for myself! 😉

Portland branding and web design by Upswept Creative


Feb 12 2016

This Weekend! Photobooth at Valentine’s popUP!

12627964_618424141640355_1148175536_nCome see us at the Valentine’s popUP event, and get in on our festive and fun photobooth for Valentine’s weekend! Stop by on Friday for the kick-off cocktail party, or visit us over the weekend and browse some super-amazing locally-made goods. Pick up something special for your sweetie or yourself, or share the experience with someone you like.

And, we’ll bring the fun in our photobooth! We’ll have some fun Valentine’s-y props on hand, and we’ll be ready to make some lighthearted and fabulous photos with you!

Valentine’s popUP at UP Design Lounge
4048 N Williams Ave., Portland 97227

PHOTOBOOTH HOURS:
Friday: 6-8pm (or later!)
Sat. & Sun.: 11am-3pm

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Jan 27 2016

A Pie-Filled Peek at Smarsh Week 2016

We were pretty pleased to return for Smarsh Week this year, to capture some of the happenings during their activity-filled multi-day event! Employees from the many global offices of this tech company converge in Portland every year, to engage in a variety of events and mixers in and around their Downtown PDX headquarters.

A special treat on the Smarsh Week 2016 agenda was a pie smashing event, done to support fundraising for the Movember Foundation, to help them in their continuing fight against cancer. A dozen-or-so employees offered themselves up as tribute–including several members of their Leadership Team–and together raised over $1000 for the Foundation.

We couldn’t resist this incredibly GIF-able moment featuring CEO Steve Marsh, braving his pie-in-the-face like a champ. Big ups to everyone at Smarsh for being all-around lovely people, and for doing good in the community!

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.
Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Jan 19 2016

On Keeping Projects Moving and Shifting Gears: an interview with Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner

Writing a book is no small undertaking, and neither is being a parent. Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner didn’t shy away from either of those things, though–she resolved to write and edit her first book throughout her pregnancy, and publish it before her little one’s due date! Now, she’s created Roller Derby for Beginners, a definitive roller derby resource book for new skaters that’s available as both a paperback and an e-book, and even maintained a companion web site of resources to go with it.

Now, that companion site is taking on a new life: RollerDerbyForBeginners.com has become an ongoing blog of tips, information, and resources for new roller derby skaters, “to help new skaters be better athletes, make sense of their new world, and get the reassurance that though their derby journey is their own, there’s a lot that we have in common.” It wasn’t the easiest decision to shift gears and find a new purpose to the site, but things are looking bright for the new site.

We checked in with Frisky to pick her brain on how to keep a long-term project moving, and on shifting gears and making changes to your original vision.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book.
Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book. (photo courtesy of author)

UPSWEPT: Roller Derby For Beginners was your first published book–what parts of creating and promoting it were the most important to you?

FRISKY: I think the most important aspect of me making a product was to make sure that it was worth buying. I mean, I’d rather make zero dollars and help someone than make a million dollars by bilking people $14.95 at a time. My volunteer early readers were absolutely essential to forming the book into something that was useful to all kinds of skaters with all kinds of experiences. I’m just me, and I skated for two leagues. Getting feedback from my beta readers and learning through their lenses was just as important as hiring good editors. (Hire good editors.)

UPSWEPT: Longer-term projects can be tough to manage. What did you do to keep the book project moving, and keep yourself motivated?

FRISKY: I had this kinda big deadline looming over me in the form of pregnancy. Then, I had a successful Kickstarter, so I HAD to finish, or else [I’d] be that jerk. Luckily for all those Kickstarter supporters, Baby Sour came a week after his due date, and I’d planned to take that time off anyway. I absolutely cannot recommend trying to figure out the finer points of formatting and page breaks in Word on four hours of sleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

UPSWEPT: Writing a book isn’t easy! What were some of the bigger challenges of creating and promoting your book?

FRISKY: What with the baby and all, my promotion plan became kind of helter skelter. I thought I’d have time to market after the kid was born, but, um, no. No one ever has more time later, least of all when they suddenly get a 24-hour on-call job.

Writing the thing was just work. I had a plan, and just chipped away at it slowly. People are impressed by that part, but it comes naturally to me as a writer to put words on a page, edit, edit, ask for help, and edit again. Knowing how to pitch this book and reach my very particular audience was the problem, especially with a pretty small marketing budget.

UPSWEPT: What made you decide to shift gears and turn your book companion site into an active blog? Is there anything that made the transition from book to blog difficult?

quotation_goal-settingFRISKY: It was a path that should have been obvious [to me] a few years ago, but it was hard to let go of my old roller derby blog. It didn’t even have a roller derby name or URL–it was personal blog that just sort of evolved to being about roller derby. It became a place to blog for beginning skaters, so it only made sense to kill off the old blog and really focus on making one site that served all those needs.

I still have to figure out a few details, like whether to transfer some old content to the new site. The only problem is that I’m learning more all the time that I wish could be in the book! That’s the beauty and the detriment of digital publishing. I hope I can just cover the basics in the book, get people rolling, and then bring them to the blog for the details. (Of course, I’m hoping to draw new [book] readers via the blog as well.)

The new blog concept is an experiment at this point, to see what kind of content people want. I want to keep putting out useful information and paying writers for it.

UPSWEPT: Do you have any advice for people who might want to publish or blog in the future?

FRISKY: I’m a professional blogger and writer, and the most common problem I see is starting without a clear goal or focus. Do you want to share your story? Sell a product? Get more exposure? Focus on a goal as early as possible, so you don’t spin your wheels in a million directions. But at the same time, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are just different strategies for accomplishing your goals and catching those dreams. Messing up and learning along the way is part of the deal.


Nov 17 2015

Photos from 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball

Photos from the 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball are now online!

Did you see us in action at the Swashbuckler’s Ball? We were happy to return for another year to capture this “grand night out for pirates, buccaneers and nautical miscreants of all stripes,” and now have candid event photos from the event online!

You can take a look through the online gallery, download your favorites, and even order prints of your most memorable moments. Just click the button to see the full gallery.

View the Full Photo Gallery »

Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's BallPortland event photography - The Young Dubliners at the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball


Oct 21 2015

Are You Our Next Project Management Ninja?

UPDATE: this position is CLOSED! We’ve found our new team member, but we appreciate hearing from you!

We’re looking for someone who’s interested in project management for the creative industry, particularly in the area of branding and web design. It’s currently a part-time role, but it’s growing into a larger time commitment–the more you bring to the role, the better it is for both of us!

A taste of the things you’d be doing:

  • Communicating with clients and keeping them informed and happy — strong written and verbal communication skills are a must, as is experience working with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and/or Microsoft Office.
  • Gathering and sharing info and assets between clients and our team
  • Setting clear expectations and keeping clients on track
  • Task management — experience with Freedcamp, Basecamp, or similar is a plus!
  • Writing, editing and creating proposals for new clients
  • Building the right team for a client, by choosing and managing the right talent for our photoshoots, and our larger design and development projects
  • Scheduling, photoshoot coordination, and other administrative tasks; keeping calendars up to date, invoicing and receiving payments — Quickbooks experience is a plus!
  • Contributing to our blog — if you have opinions about design, marketing, and creative, we’d love to share them!

This position is flexible, and much of the work can be done from your home or your favorite coffee shop. A fast internet connection is a must, however! We’d like you to be able to commit approximately 1 hour Monday-Friday mornings to the position. Your work hours may vary a bit from week to week, but you can generally expect to work at least eight to ten hours in a typical week. You’ll need to periodically come into the studio, especially during the early stages, and for client consultations, which are often scheduled in the afternoon, so if you have a flexible schedule, that would be great!  We believe strongly in working with local talent, and we want to grow and create opportunities in our own super-gifted Portland-y garden–with that in mind, we are only interested in candidates based in the Portland Metro area.

We’re a young company, and we have a lot of experience producing solid work, but our process is always evolving and improving. We welcome any wisdom/ideas that you can bring to the table.

So, if you’re a good listener and communicator, and this sounds like something you could grow into, let’s talk about it! Or, if you can think of a trusted human who’d be a good fit, we’d love to hear from them, too.

How to apply:

  • E-mail us at ask (at) upsweptcreative (dot) com and tell us why you’re awesome!
  • Include your resume and any professional references you may have.
  • Use the subject line: “I’m a Project Management Ninja” when you e-mail us.

Sep 16 2015

Maker Faire PDX: Making it More Super!

“Hi! Do you want to become a superhero?”

“...YES!

“Well, come on in, and we’ll get you started!”

Maker Faire PDX was a blast this year, and I was so excited that Upswept Creative could be a part of it. I’d wandered around the event last year as an attendee and loved seeing all the amazing forms of making–prop fabrication, robotics, smithing and leatherworking, mechanical wonders, even cheesemaking! So, when I got together with the Alter Egos Society and had the idea to work with their fantastic costume accessories and a Superhero Photobooth, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

We got to spend our time at Maker Faire transforming people of all ages into superheroes, and creating photos that we turned into 4×6″ trading cards! Before we photographed them, each person created their own custom mask with the help of Alter Egos Society, and it was a lot of fun seeing the designs they came up with. The people who visited our photobooth were consistently enthusiastic, open, and ready to have fun, and it was incredibly energizing.

And really, who doesn’t want to help someone feel like a super-powered hero of the people? 😉

These are just a precious few of the fantastic folks who came by while we were at Maker Faire, and a few peeks at the process of planning and putting it all together. We have more highlights posted on Facebook–there’s just too much awesome to share them all here!

Finding the perfect out-of-this-world backdrop.
Finding the perfect out-of-this-world backdrop.
Designing a trading card border and test printing.
Designing a trading card border and test printing.
Alter Egos Society spearheaded the custom mask making!
Alter Egos Society spearheaded the custom mask making!
I wouldn't have made it through the weekend without a heroic photo booth assistant!
I wouldn’t have made it through the weekend without a heroic photo booth assistant!

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