Aeolidia blog

A resource for creative and design-based small businesses to improve their brand's presence online.

Recent Posts

Bamboletta: a Community-Minded Business Made With Crafts(wo)manship and Love

Bamboletta dolls

We were first introduced to Bamboletta when we designed the Bamboletta website for Christina in 2007. We were charmed by her handmade Waldorf dolls, and amazed at how quickly they sold and how frenzied some of her customers seemed! There was always such a rush and crowd on doll “upload days” that for many years, Christina’s business model and huge bandwidth use foiled many cart programs. Now, on Shopify, they have a good thing going, but Christina tells me that Shopify have taken her particular checkout process into company meetings to improve their checkout capabilities.

There was never enough supply to meet her demand, and the answer seemed simple to us at the time – just hire some people who can sew! Well, as you’ll see, Christina has grown her company in such a loving and caring way, and those dolls are still selling like hotcakes and there don’t seem to be enough to go around!

I am inspired by Christina’s business, her team, and her sense of community and caring. I asked her some questions that I’ve been wondering about, and I’m glad for this peek inside of Bamboletta.

Read the article on Oh My! Handmade

Illustration Licensing and Royalties

I’ve been a big fan of illustration since my very first picture book as a baby! When I started Aeolidia a decade ago, I contacted some of my favorite illustrators and asked them if they’d join me in creating adorable sites for our clients – not in any kind of strategic way, but just because I wanted an excuse to work with them. We still create beautiful custom illustrations at Aeolidia. Some cute stuff for kids’ shops, but also as part of our branding packages, to bring life and personality to creative shops, and to illustrate the products themselves.

Some recent favorite Aeolidia illustrations below:
Gilly's Garden illustration



Illustrations for Sweet Anthem


Boco Baby illustration

Selling an illustrated product

Our customers use illustrations to set the tone of their brand on their marketing materials (website, social media, business cards, flyers, advertisements, etc.).  Some of them create unique illustrated products. One place where there is some confusion about illustration pricing is when someone wants to sell a product with an illustration on it. This is more complicated than just commissioning an illustration, and the licensing and associated fee changes as soon as you are making a profit off of your illustrator’s work.

Here is some basic information about illustration licensing and royalties.

We sell the full rights to logos, so your logo, even if illustrated, will be exclusively yours, and you may print it on anything you like, for sale or not for sale.

Want to sell t-shirts with your logo on them, for profit?

No problem! The logo is yours, and you’re welcome to do so. This is part of the reason why logos tend to cost more than custom illustration work – you are paying for all rights to use your logo as you see fit.

Want to sell t-shirts with a custom illustration that was originally created for your website?

Now it gets trickier. It’s the industry standard for illustrators to charge royalties for items that will be sold for profit. If people are buying a shirt or a bag because the illustrator’s artwork is on it, then it is felt that the illustrator is entitled to some of the profits.

Even if you bought the physical art from your illustrator you didn’t necessarily buy the rights to copy and distribute it. Should you go to print without copyright your illustrator will have every right to a considerable share of the profits, not to mention damages and attorney’s fees if it becomes a legal battle.

-Andrew McDonald, Crucial Tips for Hiring an Illustrator

The above link is specific to children’s book author’s, but has some great general info as well.

Most illustrators will be more than happy to license their work to be sold for profit, and this is a wonderful way to sell something unique that no one else has, while also supporting an artist – doesn’t get any better than that!

Here are some illustrated products from our clients (all illustrations and images by the respective business owners):

Sea Urchin Studio's mermaid mug

Sea Urchin Studio’s mermaid mug

Fomato's illustrated greeting cards

Fomato’s illustrated greeting cards

I Heart Gut's illustrated t-shirts

I Heart Gut’s illustrated t-shirts

Finding an illustrator who doesn’t charge royalties

You may be able to find an illustrator who is new enough to the business that he/she won’t charge you royalties (obviously not recommended!), but the tradeoff will be that the person may be less experienced overall, and won’t give you the quality of work that we could. Taking advantage of this type of situation is not fair to the artist, and is detrimental to the industry as a whole, which is why we’re strict about licensing work correctly. P.S. Please never do this.

Purchasing royalty-free illustration artwork

You can purchase “royalty-free” illustration, which is clip art, and you are likely to also find it on other peoples’ projects. It wouldn’t be unique to you, and you couldn’t control who else used it, or how they used it.

Royalty free image licenses cannot be tracked. This means it’s possible someone else can use it, too, and there’s no way to predict who, when or where that might be. It may not make a difference if you are using an image on a personal blog, but it could make a big difference if you are using the image in advertising in your business and a competitor uses the same image.

Robin Noelle, Definition of a Royalty Free Image

Commissioning “work for hire” illustration

Another option is to commission “work for hire” illustrations, where the illustrator works directly for your company, and retains no rights to the illustration work herself. This could easily end up being more expensive than paying royalties, depending on how many illustrated products you end up selling.

The client can publish the work wherever and whenever it wants to, including reselling rights to others. [For illustrators:] Unless you receive permission from your client, you cannot do anything yourself with your work.

– Linda Joy Kattwinkel, What is Work Made For Hire?

Hiring a professional illustrator

What can you do if you have a great illustrated product idea, but no illustration talent or experience of your own? Hire an illustrator! It’s a thrill to see your vision come to life as you collaborate together with your illustrator.

If you feel like illustrations would spruce up your website, stationery, packaging, or products themselves, please get in touch with me.

Our pricing is competitive, we have a wide range of styles, and we can get everything done for you, a service you won’t get from an illustration agency. Logo, website, packaging, photography. You’ll be all set without having to contract out multiple different workers or teams. Oh, and it will be fun, too!

Networking Events and Conferences For Crafters and Designers

I’ve got a lot of business travel coming up this month (which you can get the details of at the bottom of this post), and I wanted to share what I get out of attending conferences and learning events. I’ve attended quite a few conferences for crafters and creatives in the last few years, and they’ve all been good experiences.

Are you wondering why you should leave the comfort and safety of your usual work routine to get to know some new folks? Here’s why that’s a good idea.

P.S. I have a $100 discount coupon for you at the bottom of this post, so keep on reading!

Want to learn, grow, and gather allies?

Here are just a few of the reasons you might want to attend an in-person event:

Learning: Most conferences are focused around learning new skills, such as blogging, pricing, production methods, social media, ecommerce, etc. Even if all you do is sit and take notes, it will have been worth your while. But being together in a room full of your creative colleagues offers so much more!

New ideas & inspiration: Just chatting with other creative people is going to spark so many new ideas for your own business! My pen is always flying through my notebook when I attend an event like this, and I come up with lots of ideas I wouldn’t have hit on sitting by myself in my office.

Support: Your family and friends may not understand what your work is like, what struggles you have, and what you worry about. Getting some support and backup from people who do what you do is a great feeling.

Collaboration: Beyond getting new ideas and support from your peers, this is a rich opportunity to strike up collaborations, whether they be a combined product (I’m in love with the collaboration between Baby Jives Co. and Mount Royal Mint, below), a guest posting relationship, a podcast, an interview, or even a new event or business.

Promotion: Of course you can get your name out there at conferences by handing out business cards, chatting with people, and being introduced to people that your own friends and acquaintances know. If you’ve been having the hard time catching the attention of someone you admire online, walking up in person and shaking hands can take care of that!

Finding out how you can help: People are at a conference because they’d like some help! I get a lot of value out of listening to where people are stuck or confused. I often turn these conversations into blog posts, newsletters, or new service offerings at Aeolidia.

Are you interested in teaching?

If you’ve been hard at your work for a number of years, you may feel like you have a lot to share, and that you’d like to help out people at the beginning of the path you’ve gone down. There are so many great ways to do this, and it’s one of the things I appreciate about the creative community: people who are willing to share what worked for them and help others be successful without feeling competitive.

Here are some ideas for ways you can share your knowledge and experience:

  • Speak or teach at conferences
  • Teach a class on Skillshare
  • Join a networking or business group
  • Start a blog and/or a newsletter focused on business
  • See if your local community center is looking for teachers or mentors

Where you can meet Aeolidia this year:

I’ll be teaching at these events:

Nearly Impossible Nearly Impossible
Saturday, September 20 2014
San Francisco, CA
(use code aeolidia100 for $100 off)
“An event for companies that make physical products.” At the Heath Ceramics warehouse (also one in NYC in October that Zoe on our team will attend). We attended this last year and it was incredible. I’ll be a member of the Expert Lab, talking about selling online.
School  House Craft School House Craft
September 27-28 2014
Seattle, WA
“Schooling you in the business of craft.” Lots of great information here, particularly for crafters who are somewhat new to business. This event was packed with information last time. This year we’ll be teaching a class on getting started selling online.
Oh My! Maker's Retreat Oh My! Maker’s Retreat
October 17-22 2014
Cortes Island, BC, CA
“Come make: memories, discoveries, friends, art, magic.” Besides the glorious surroundings and the inspiring people, this conference will cut out the fluff and boring stuff, making it all about the talking, collaborating, teaching, and learning. I’ll be teaching, and the last day there will be a market for attendees to shop and sell.
Dream Rock Dream Rock
February 4-6 2015
Sedona, AZ
“You have a passion. You have a dream. You are determined to make it a reality.” This one is an intimate retreat with a beautiful red rock backdrop. I’ll be teaching a workshop and plan to sneak in some natural splendor as well.

I would be delighted to see you at any of these events! I think all of them will be valuable experiences, and there is just nothing like hanging out with other creative types to get you fired up about your business.

What events or conferences do you attend and recommend? What questions do you have about it?

Why You Should Splurge on Business Card Printing

It’s so hard to spend money on your business, isn’t it? Especially if things are going well enough or if what you have now is working fine. Or is it working fine? Your customers may not consciously realize it, but they’re certainly judging you by how you present yourself – from your website to your product packaging, to the business card printing choices you make.

We’re wrapping up designing and printing the beautiful branding materials that go with the Aeolidia redesign, and I had a pleasant surprise that I wanted to share with you. I’ve used digital printing for all of my print projects up until now, and I now have a before and after that shows what a big difference an upgrade can make.

Mariah designed our business cards early on, and I needed to have some in hand for a conference, so I quickly had them printed digitally online and was pleased with them. Recently, we replaced these temporary cards with the upgraded ones, and the originals look downright cheap in comparison. I did a quick photo shoot to share with you what a difference printing can make.

Business card printing upgrade

What do we have here? Post-duplexed and thicker card stock, screen printed, gold foil, and die cut corners. “Duplexed” means that they stuck a thick creamy white paper onto a smooth charcoal stock, making a heavy and serious card. For the temporary cards, the charcoal color was printed onto white paper, which isn’t as glamorous. The screen printed waves add a tiny bit of texture, and the gold foil is a sparkly stunner! We switched to turqouise for the cheapies, because we knew gold color or even metallic ink would be a letdown. The die cut corners are a theme throughout our branding, and I’ve found that they have the added bonus of preventing bent corners.

Business card printing upgrade

The “before” card feels so flimsy!

Business card printing upgrade

Here’s a closeup that shows the juicy details.

Business card printing upgrade

You can see the duplexed stock and the weight of the card in this shot.

It feels like the velveteen rabbit to me – don’t the more expensive cards look more “real” than the budget ones?

We went with Mama’s Sauce for this project, and I’ve been very pleased with their work and their customer service. Writing out thank yous is a joy on our beautiful new cards.

I can tell you it’s a bit terrifying, splashing out the cash on this stuff, especially when it’s all at once. It’s particularly hard to pay for the design work and then pay for the print work. It has been tempting to have certain things done more cheaply, but I know that doing things right is going to feel so good (and have a ripple effect with our clients).

Your marketing materials and branding set the tone when clients or customers approach you and work with you, and I want everything we do to communicate that we take our design work (and the businesses we work for) seriously.

Business card printing upgrade

How does your packaging look? How pleased are you with your marketing and advertising materials? Does your website feel right for your business? Is it all “good enough,” but you know it could be better? Can you make the physical manifestation of your brand a budgeting priority?

Making your ideas and plans tangible is what we’re all about – please contact me today so we can talk about how we can improve the impression that your business is making on people.

Prismera: Modern Logo for a Jewelry Designer

Prismera logo by Aeolidia

It’s very satisfying to revisit the brand identity of a long-time client. In this case, it was especially rewarding, and you’ll see why.

Laura of Prismera Design had created her own logo the first time I worked with her on her website, and recently came to us for a professional, modern jewelry logo design that would make her business sparkle.

Too often, we see a disconnect between a business and the way it presents itself to the world. So much care and time and creativity is put into the product, but the logo is an afterthought: either cobbled together with limited design skills, or not fitting with the style of the product. It pains me when I see that the brand identity hasn’t gotten enough love and time, because customers are going to evaluate the business as a whole, subconsciously being put off by a poor logo, even when the product is impeccable.

Why Laura was ready for a professional logo

When Laura decided it was time for a new look, she gave us this thoughtful information about where she was at and where she wanted to go:

My current logo doesn’t feel like a logo, I just selected a font that I liked that was readable. I used to have a different logo that I created early on and abandoned it when I got tired of it, there was nothing really wrong necessarily, other than the fact that it didn’t really seem special.

As for the current “logo,” while I do like the fact that I can use this font anywhere and it IS readable, I also want something that is more memorable and distinctive. I am usually attracted to design trends, which could be an issue because I don’t want to have something that will get tired quickly.

Basically, I’d like a strong identity that people will take notice when they arrive on the site! For the first time ever!


Coherent design will show that you’re trustworthy

Laura hit the nail on the head when she told us:

I didn’t have a strong sense of how I wanted my logo to work with my business to start with, so going with a new logo is less about a shift in perception and more about pulling myself together and putting my best foot forward.

I feel like because I don’t have a coherent look to my logo/site, it can be confusing for my customers to understand the type of company Prismera is. I find that my work resonates with the design community and want to create an overall feel of professionalism and a high standard for quality but also get across that this is a small, personable business.

The work I sell is higher end, so I want people to feel like they can trust my company- that it’s established and professional (which I think I achieved when I first hired you guys on to do my site!!) but I’d like to take it a step further with having a logo/colors put together. My packaging and marketing materials are all over the place because my logo isn’t distinctive and I think once that establishes a style, I can really work on the collateral.

This is so right! It’s a thrill to work with someone who understands how important presentation is when selling, and what a professional logo will do for her.

How we use a business’ story to craft their logo

When creating a logo, we always ask our client how she came up with the name of her company, in case it sparks some creative ideas for the logo. Here is Laura’s story:

Originally, the words were created from two words, prism and chimera, to describe the idea that this business was a fantasy or a dream that I’ve had, a world where I could create anything. And prism symbolized the multifaceted possibilities!

A modern jewelry logo that is strong, sturdy, and warm

Laura’s designer, Meg, got to work on some ideas, all of which were thrilling. Laura worked to pare them down (making the hilarious comment, “editing is sad”), and we ended up with a logo that is modern, strong, and sturdy, but still warm. Meg’s beautiful custom script dots the i with a prism, and includes patterns and icons for many branding and marketing uses.

The best thing about a well thought out logo is having something that adapts to many different situations. Laura can use her logo in black on white, white on black, there is a simpler version for smaller settings, and she can use just the gem/prism mark as a standalone.


Prismera logo by Aeolidia


The color scheme, collection of fonts, patterns, and icons, give Laura tools to use when designing her own packaging and promoting her business.

Prismera color scheme
Prismera iconsA change in direction

The most inspiring thing about this project was how our graphic design work gave Laura the confidence to make a big change that she’d been contemplating for a long time. Below is the story she told me about her new design direction:

I’m beyond excited about this next step – after contacting you for a rebrand, I started thinking about a more major shift with my business.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been creating jewelry that had really strong ties to my illustration background. But there has been something that was brewing in the back of my mind, a style that didn’t really fit what Prismera was all about at the time. So I quieted that voice and kept forward.

After contacting you about the rebrand, a friend of mine reminded me that this would be the perfect time to change direction. I realized she was completely right!

I was so inspired by the design direction that the Prismera rebrand was taking that I decided to base this first collection on one of the icons that Meg put together. Everything about the process is still the same – the pieces are still modern, delicate designs that start off as my own hand drawn images. They are still produced by various smiths and then come into my Berkeley based studio, where I complete the finished product.

I really appreciate logos that show a sense of history – I know that in the grand scheme of things, my company is fairly young but I am really proud of the breadth of work I’ve created these last 8 years and the different types of people that the work has connected with.

Laura's new, logo-inspired jewelry

Laura’s new, logo-inspired jewelry

Prismera jewelry packaging

The packaging Laura created based on Meg’s design foundation.

Advice on logo design:

I asked Laura for her feelings about the project, and she had two great tips for working with a logo designer:

I worked with Aeolidia on creating my website many years ago, and when the time came to do a rebrand, there really wasn’t any question about who I would turn to. I had been wanting to do a proper branding of the whole business for years but I knew that until I had a solid idea of what I wanted out of it, the end result wouldn’t be satisfying.

I want to use this opportunity to talk a little about how I went through this process because there’s definitely a trick to it. I believe there are two really important things to do when hiring someone to work on your branding. The first was understanding the message that I wanted to get across for Prismera. Knowing where you want to stand with your customers is paramount- Aeolidia is almost magic but even they can’t tell you what your business stands for.

The second was this: TRUST THE PROFESSIONALS. I won’t lie, there were moments during the design process where I doubted some of the decisions. But every time I took the sketches and had them polled by a larger group of online shoppers, the overwhelming response was that Meg knew what she was doing and I needed to let her!

Tackling the website refresh and designing the packaging materials afterwards was a breeze. The gorgeous icons made it easy to organize the site in a clear way and Aeolidia was quick to jump in with opinions when things didn’t seem quite right. It’s wonderful to be able to rely on their extra eyeballs. What else can I say – Aeolidia, you make me fall in love with you over and over again.

Hooray, thanks to Laura – dream client or what? Visit Prismera here.

I would be absolutely honored to talk with you about your logo and brand identity. Have you been waiting for the right time to take the leap to getting your sh*t together? Maybe now is the time! Send me an email with a bit about where your business is at and what you’re looking to make out of it, and I will take some time to look over what you have and give you my honest opinion about how best to proceed.