Tips from the Garden: Nurturing Hardy Graphic Design

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When I named my business Germinate Creative it was a strategic, and personal, choice. First, the name stems from my dream clients and what they want to accomplish. These clients are established businesses looking for growth through vibrant graphic design that is rooted in their true story. Through my work, their germ of a brand sprouts into the light of day as a focused brand identity.

Second, I wanted my business name to have my personality in it. Every summer I grow a vegetable garden. I come from a long line of farmers who had hazelnut tree orchards rolling along hillsides in Italy. Every Spring through Fall I call on those familial roots by filling a few raised vegetable beds with tomatoes, beans, kale, greens, cucumbers, and whatever else tickles my palette for that year.

Lately as I tend to my garden, I’ve seen direct relationships between digging my hands in the soil to how I work with clients, and how I approach things outside of business. Here are some lessons learned from the garden.

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Get a plan
When I start the garden, there is a planning stage. What will I grow? Well, tomatoes and beans, of course. But what kinds? Where will I place them in the garden? What will I use to support the larger plants? What can I interplant under the tall stuff to take up space, and grow more yummy stuff?

In order for me to take all this on, I must plan, plan, plan.

It’s the same when I work on a client’s design project. In the beginning phases, it’s important for us to take time to research the type of project we’re doing, and plan for the right phases. I’m a detail-oriented gal who always sets up a schedule with milestones. The schedule is paired with a creative brief. This brief is a blueprint that continues to inform and guide our work together. The creative brief answers questions such as: who is the project for? Why are we doing this? What is the tone and message of the project? For those of you familiar with my work process, you’ve heard me tout the importance of this brief.

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Watering the garden is important to give the vegetables a big drink. It also gives me the time to look over the plants and make sure they are doing OK. While I run the hose I peek around the plants to be sure that the leaves look healthy. What’s going on at the soil level? Is there enough air circulating around the stems? I water a few times a week and each time I check the literal fruits of my labor. Hark! There’s a new tomato! Look at those cute little gherkin cucumbers are coming in! Oh, goodie! I’ve got enough basil for a few batches of pesto!

When it comes to my work as a designer, I do the same with projects. A lot of my projects are time-investments that take a few months to launch, such as larger brand identity and collateral work, or a full website redesign. Because they are longer projects I must continuously strengthen and fuel the project from different angles. There are often times I take a step back and see what we’ve already accomplished, then foster what needs to be done next.

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Take a risk
Growing a garden for food is a risk. I’ve got no control over weather. There may be pests, such as aphids, ants, or (my least favorite of all) squirrels (boo!) that want to nibble and suck the juices out of ripe tomato stalks. Every year I grow a new vegetable I have little experience growing. With all of my plants, there is a lot of time invested in learning how to take care of them, with the possibility of no fruit for me to nibble on.

There is a lot of buzz around risk taking out there in the business world. I’m not one to jump on buzz bandwagons, but I’ve learned a lot from taking risks both in my garden and in my career. Unforeseen opportunities often arise from taking a risk. Heck, the lessons I’ve learned from venturing out on my own as an independent designer are plentiful. And they enrich me professionally, personally, and spiritually.

If you look at my decision to become a creative solopreneur, I’ve had to take those moments that make me squirm with “Oh, I don’t think I can do that,” to “What opportunity will arise from this?” It’s been difficult, for sure. I know that my clients running their own businesses feel the same challenges. But only have I seen extreme growth in my business when I take a risk. It has enabled me to take on bigger projects with dream clients. This success hasn’t fallen in my lap. I have had to pursue it by taking a leap.

In order for me to eat those yummy heirloom zucchinis, I gotta put them in the ground and take care of them. Over time, I must learn what soil they like, how often they want to be watered. Not all risks pay off (unhappy beans), but some of them do (enormously huge heirloom zucchini).


It’s amazing what can happen over the span of a few months in the garden. I buy vegetable starts that are 6 inches tall. I typically plant around May, and by mid-July, I have tomato plants that are almost 6 feet tall.

It is at the point of wanting more growth in my clients’ businesses that they seek me out to refresh their brand identity. They know that in order to generate more business development, they need to have the best-dressed logo, website, and whatever collateral they need to tell the world their awesome story.

Just like  my clients, in order for me to be happy and healthy in work and life, I must plan, nurture, take some risks, and allow my blossoming business and self to grow.

Are you ready to grow? What part of your business, life, vegetable garden, yoga practice, painting hobby deserves some nurturing? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.