I am pretty stoked to introduce today’s Rad Lady, Shauna Haider (aka Nubby Twiglet). A fellow Portland native, Shauna caught my attention well over a decade ago on Live Journal (rememeber LJ?!). Struck by her unique style and design aesthetic, I’ve followed her journey as a blogger & graphic designer who somewhat recently also added jet-setting blogging teacher to her resume. If Shauna’s drive and accomplishments don’t inspire then you might not actually be breathing.
VGS: First off, you wear so many hats! Designer, blogger, teacher … Let’s tackle design first. When did you know it was your calling and what path did you take to get to where you are today?
SH: I always knew that I wanted to be an artist in some way and spent all of my free time in school doodling on my papers. I took every art class in high school twice and toured an art college as I was graduating but it was way too expensive and my mom wasn’t convinced it was the best fit.
Unsure about actually making a living as an artist I ended up going a safer route by majoring in business admin with a minor in marketing. As soon as that was done I had a nagging feeling that working in traditional office environments would leave me miserable and unfulfilled.
By that point, I’d figured out that I wanted to be a graphic designer but was living on my own and didn’t have a ton of money. People around me thought I was a little crazy to go back to the same exact community college I’d started at years before for a lesser degree (my accelerated design program was two years in length) but I worked my ass off and by my second semester I’d landed a $5,000.00 freelance gig designing album artwork for Virgin Records. That was the equivalent of my entire first year of tuition. By the end of my first year I’d landed an internship at one of the coolest design studios in Portland. I hustled non-stop and by the time I graduated I had my first full-time design job offer.
After five or so years of working for other studios and agencies while freelancing on the side I quit it all and launched my own studio, Branch, and now spend my days working with family & friends and designing for clients I adore and respect.
VGS: Which types of design projects do you enjoy most and why?
SH: I gravitate towards lifestyle and beauty brands most often these days — I’ve designed a few lines of cosmetics and fragrances and it’s a passion of mine. I also love a good editorial job, especially when it gets to go to print. But honestly? I worked on a dedicated branding team at my last job and it really helped me fine tune my knowledge. Branding is at the core of everything Branch does and it’s our most popular service.
VGS: Tell me about your role as a teacher: How did you become involved with Blogcademy?
SH: I’ve been obsessed with blogigng since 2001 when I started my first Live Journal. Having an internet connection and sharing my life helped me attract like-minded folks and I couldn’t get enough of it. One of the ladies I met on Live Journal was Gala Darling and when she moved to New York we became fast friends. As we began traveling the world together blogging and business constantly came up in our conversations but launching a workshop felt like a lot of work. One of my design clients, Kat Williams happened to be in town during one of my trips with Gala and after meeting her we were inseparable. While I had the knack for the creative side of things and Gala mastered the PR and outreach angle, Kat was an email and spreadsheet ninja.
We spent five days together and by the end of it we knew we had to launch The Blogcademy. Six months later our website went live and our first class in New York City sold out in less than a week. I’m passionate about design, marketing and getting consistent online and speak at length about those areas at The Blogcademy. It’s a dream come true.
VGS: Blogcademy has taken you all over the world! What’s been your favorite experience? What important lesson(s) have you learned from your travels?
SH: My favorite experience was being interviewed by ABC news in Melbourne and having it premiere across Australia. I’m just a designer from Portland — when I started The Blogcademy, I never imagined I’d be on the evening news on another continent!
Traveling can seem so glamorous from the outside, especially on Instagram, but there’s plenty of awkward moments: missed flights, schlepping through customs, forgetting the proper cables and chargers and getting lost. It’s all about just rolling with whatever happens — it’s life and you have to learn to take the good with the bad.
VGS: What are your thoughts regarding Portland’s creative community?
SH: Portland’s creative community is awesome. I love how it keeps growing and thriving. My husband Joey is a pop art painter and also curates shows so I get to meet great folks and check out their work. After traveling the world, I can honestly say that Portland is the most creative, forward-thinking city I’ve ever been in and I’m always glad to come back home.
VGS: What is your biggest inspiration currently?
SH: I don’t have time to read many books these days but after a million recommendations I picked up #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal and absolutely loved it. I feel like it’s the guidebook for women in their 20s and 30s that are ready to break down what’s expected of them, do their own thing and forge their own path.
VGS: What is your biggest challenge in staying motivated and how do you overcome it?
SH: I don’t ever have a problem staying motivated because I love what I do. I would say, if you’re having issues staying motivated, what’s holding you back? Is it perfectionism? Procrastination? A feeling of what you’re doing isn’t going to be good enough? It’s important to find out what’s at the root of it.
VGS: What is your favorite burger spot in Portland?
SH: I think one of the best veggie burgers in town is at McMenamin’s and luckily there are locations all over the place!