Monday, February 22nd, was my first day in over five and a half years that I didn’t walk into Oiselle HQ. I woke up and scrolled through IG like every morning. I had to stop myself from taking a screen shot of a fashion post that gave me an idea for a campaign. I took the screen shot anyway, saved it for myself.

My mother was in town, by luck of the draw. She was going to be in town anyway. Owen was traveling for work and thought I’d want the help. Our basement room is cold in the winter, so she stayed a few miles away at a hotel. It was the perfect transitional week. My mother allowed me to create a mix of being alone with PJ but also swooped in to give me breaks to hustle. 

Hustle. This is a word I use a lot now. You might call it ‘non-billable’ hours. But I prefer hustle. It’s the networking, the who-knows-who who might need copy or strategy, the LinkedIn and personal site building, the coffee with smart people time. It’s the hustle. And I’m remembering quickly the hustle a lot of the freelancer’s day.

I started work with one client that first week. And have added a couple since. It's feels good to have my feet under me already. The unknown does weigh more with PJ in the picture. 

I have worked for myself before. I actually started a t-shirt brand. Way back in 2005, back when Threadless was starting and I considered them our only competition. Back in the days when cool graphic shirts ruled the land and American Apparel wasn't porny or bankrupt, I started The Zoo with two good friends and rad designers. I started The Zoo to learn everything I could about marketing. 

And it worked. I learned a lot. We had three years in the market and two years in the black. My designer friends graduated and wanted to work steadier jobs. I moved to Seattle. But I love those years. Those are some of the best.

If you are 23, be poor (or not) and chase your dreams. I worked four jobs to support myself during The Zoo. I made pizza dough at 2am, unloaded a million pounds of Performance Fleece at 4:30am at Old Navy, served sandwiches and beer, and delivered pizza three nights a week. And in between, I drank a lot of coffee and grew The Zoo. And it taught me that if you love what you do, it’s not work.

It also taught me that you can’t live on minimum wage and run a start-up tee shirt company. So when I moved to Seattle I got adult jobs like 'accountant' and 'content strategist', 'digital marketing specialist', 'marketing manager' … and then I worked for myself again until I met Sally and fell hard for Oiselle. Oiselle was The Zoo in a way, but all grown up. And I loved every single day there, until it was time to close that chapter.

So here I am 10 years later, and 10 years wiser (more like 25, because we at 'The Nest' have decided Oiselle years count triple) working for myself. I texted my friend, Paul, designer at The Zoo and now an artist living the dream in Denver* about my recent career move and asked if he had advice. He texted back, “Welcome to the chaos! May your crippling self doubt and insecurity guide you... just kidding. You’ll love it. Believe in yourself and enjoy the unknown.”

So here’s to the unknown! And to crippling self doubt!


* Paul's work is very much some of my favorite. Check out Mountains Versus Plains now!


  1. I mean... I feel like we could all sit down and have some nice chats. You had a t-shirt company!? So awesome. Also fuck... the crippling self doubt... that can be huge... or the "I have so many directions to go I can not focus" problem. But then again self employment is totally the best and allows us to live where we live, and reach our goals and not take shit from bosses.... except eachother. Double high five for DOING IT. That right there is the hardest part and also do you have a list of what you are doing? Because I would be interested in seeing the services you offered. Seriously.

    1. Yes, we need a virtual or real chat session about all of this!

  2. You know Paul?! Such a small, small world. I worked with him at FloSports. I have loved keeping up with his art. Best of luck in the freelance world! Hustle is where it's at.


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