Our guests for lucky episode 13 are Amy and Jennifer Hood of Hoodzpah Design Co., a boutique branding firm specializing in bold, unapologetic design across print and web. They also run Odds and Sods, an online shop where they sell enamel pins, shirts, posters, and other unnecessary necessaries.
This episode of Overtime is brought to you by My Favorite Five, the brand new MyFonts newsletter series that profiles hardworking designers. In each issue, designers share their five go-to typefaces and a behind-the-scenes look at their process. Read the current issues of My Favorite Five and sign up for upcoming newsletters at MyFonts.com/newsletters.
In this episode, Dan chats with Amy and Jennifer about how they got into design, why they started a business together, how they run their agency, overcoming the challenges of designing an enamel pin, the importance of selling products in addition to selling services, why you should always do your best work even if the project kinda sucks, and much more. This episode is jam-packed full of great advice for creators and business owners alike.
Links Mentioned in Overtime
- Amy Hood on Dribbble
- Amy Hood on Twitter
- Jennifer Hood on Dribbble
- Jennifer Hood on Twitter
- Hoodzpah Design Co.
- Hoodzpah on Dribbble
- Middle Waves Photo Magic
- Odds and Sods
- Brian Lindstrom
- Nate Utesch
- Jed Bridges
- Joel Beukelman
- Soul Pancake
- Honkey Tonk Enamel Pin
- Docent Brewing
Dan: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Overtime. This is Dribbble’s official podcast. I’m Dan Cederholm your host. And this is episode lucky number 13 with Amy and Jennifer Hood. Amy and Jen are the wonder-twin founders of Hoodzpah Design Company in Newport Beach, California. It was a pleasure talking to them today about how they got started, what they do at Hoodzpah, dealing with clients, creating physical goods through their Odds and Sods company. It was a great chat with two very talented people in Newport Beach. I think you’re going to enjoy it.
Before we get started, we also want to take a moment to tell you about My Favorite Five. This is a brand new MyFonts newsletter series that profiles hardworking designers like yourself, who are out there making incredible work every single day. Each issue of My Favorite Five highlights a talented working designer in the community. You’ll get to see their projects and process as well as the five go-to typefaces they rely on to get the job done, which is really insightful. It’s a great way to learn about new fonts. What’s better than a type recommendation from someone who is actually in the trenches making great work with them.
To learn more about your fellow designers and how to support them, check out the current issues of My Favorite Five at myfonts.com/newsletters. Also, they’re always on the lookout for new folks to feature in My Favorite Five. So feel free to throw your name or a friend’s name into the ring for consideration, and they’d love to hear from you. For more info, check out myfonts.com/newsletters, brought to you by MyFonts, the world’s largest font marketplace. Thanks very much to MyFonts and Monotype for being this week’s sponsor. Now without further ado, let’s move onto our chat with Amy and Jen Hood.
Well, so welcome to Overtime, Jennifer and Amy Hood. Thanks for being on here.
Jennifer: Of course.
Amy: Thanks for inviting us. I actually just emailed in to say that the pause button wasn’t showing up on Meg Robichaud’s podcast, and then magically I got invited, and it was like the best happenstance ever. I’m going to start complaining on every site, just in case.
Dan: That’s all it took. I got the email. Thanks for the feedback. Oh, by the way, let’s have you on.
Amy: It was perfect.
Dan: We’ve wanted to have Hoodzpah on for a long time. Been big fans, and you’ve both been killing it on Dribbble for a long time.
Amy: Since the get-go, the glory days.
Jennifer: Who invited us, Amy? Who was our drafter?
Amy: I feel like it might have been Jeb Bridges.
Jennifer: It was Brian Lindstrom.
Amy: Oh, it was Brian Lindstrom.
Dan: Wow, so you remember.
Jennifer: You have to remember the people who helped you along the way. He was a mentor, actually. He was really helpful. He always got us involved in everything.
Dan: Not just inviting you?
Dan: That’s super cool. Someone else we talked to had a similar experience with the person that drafted them. We had high hopes for some sort of family tree type thing. You can see who – I guess we have that.
Amy: Like your lineage.
Jennifer: That’s a great idea.
Dan: Your Dribbble lineage. I’m so glad that Brian did that. Like I said, big fan of what you’re doing. I think it’s always been fascinating because the fact that you’re running your own business, you’re twins – you’re probably like yeah, we know. And you’re in California, which for me growing up in New England, California was always this – I always wanted to be there. Everything was going on there. I’d love to get the story of how you both started. How did you get into design, and did you both get into it at the same time? It’s awesome that you can get along, run a business together which isn’t easy to do for some siblings.
Jennifer: Just so you know, that whole California aura is universal. When we were just traveling to Sweden and Denmark, every place we went we found that saying we were from L.A. specifically was the golden ticket, which we’re not really from L.A.; we’re from Orange County, but who wants to say that? I’m kidding. Orange County is great but it has a bad rap because of all the TV junk.
Dan: There’s a lot of TV that comes out of there.
Jennifer: Besides The O.C., which is amazing.
Amy: Besides The O.C. and Seth Cohen –
Jennifer: And the Housewives shit that’s been giving us a bad rap. Anyways, when we were going to the airport, everyone was like “You’re from L.A.? Are you movie stars?” No. We’re not movie stars. We’re just blonde and from L.A. That’s it. But it was like a golden ticket. Everyone loves California. More than one European was like “We hope that California has its own Brexit and separates from the U.S. so we can start supporting you.”
Amy: That was hilarious.
Dan: I’ve heard things about that. That’s not too far off.
Jennifer: Just one good earthquake and we’ll be our own country.
Dan: That’s true. It’ll be an island. You’ll be an island nation. The O.C. – you just reminded me of Orange County to me is like Laguna Beach. The show –
Amy: Like Lauren Conrad.
Dan: Exactly. Then The Hills.
Amy: I never saw either of those shows, and I feel like such a sham of an Orange Countian.
Dan: You’re probably better off. They were supposed to be real, but I don’t think they were. I was kind of crushed when I found out it wasn’t real.
Amy: Reality TV isn’t real?
Amy: We’re blowing this shit wide open.
Jennifer: This is going to be big.
Dan: This podcast isn’t real either, by the way.
Amy: This is all scripted.
Jennifer: It’s all prompted. It’s a terrible prompt. Who’s the writer on this shit? Kidding.
Dan: Somebody wrote this, everything we’re saying.
Jennifer: Seriously, how do we get started? Amy, do you want to take this question?
Amy: Origin story.
Dan: We don’t have to do the whole thing. I would love to know how you both got into design and how it is working together. That’s fascinating.
Amy: We both got into design, like a lot of people do. You just start out doing art, and then you’re trying to figure out how to make money at art. Then someone tells you about Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and then you start making posters in Photoshop, which is so wrong, sometimes. You’re doing it all wrong, and then you decide to actually get real and take a few classes.
Jen and I were super lucky. I worked at a coffee shop, and one of my longtime favorite clients, Jason Staggs, took a chance on two kids and gave us paid internships, and taught us through apprenticeship how to do all the programs. He was so patient, and so longsuffering. So Jen and I learned at this clipper magazine how to do everything. I swear by it. I tell all my students to find a high-output magazine and just hunker down and learn how to be a production maniac.
Dan: It’s trial by fire.
Amy: Definitely. I feel like that’s the best way.
Dan: Totally. You dive right in. You both had similar interests too, at the same time. I think that’s cool.
Amy: That always creeps me out that Jen and I both got the art talent. I know we’re twins, but it’s really creepy that we have the same skills. Even our style is really similar.
Jennifer: Can you imagine living with your direct competition? This is what we do. Luckily, we have joined forces. It’s for the greater good.
Dan: I’m glad you’re together. That would be a tough competition. You’re right, even on Dribbble, if you both are uploading something to the Hoodzpah team, the styles are very similar and cohesive. Although, your other folks that work for you have a similar style too sometimes. You found some really good talent.
Jennifer: Yeah. We have an amazing team. We’re so grateful for them. Even now we’re getting so much great work inquires—how do we handle it all? There’s not enough management time too, to make sure that it all stays that cohesive. That takes more work than it seems to keep everything on the same page. It’s a good position to be in, to be wanted. Could be worse.
Dan: That’s a great problem to have. That’s good, but tough to keep it all together. How many folks do you have over there now?
Amy: It’s kind of cool. People always ask us how many employees we have, but we’re kind of like a subcontractor agency. Jen and I are the only ones that are really on the books as employees. Then we have five amazing subcontractors. We could have more, but between Arturo Jimenez, Hans Bennewitz, and Sam Lopez, and then our development team at Grumpy House, and some of our copywriters, we don’t need anybody else. We have such a solid team.
If we do, if a project comes up where we need a certain kind of design or illustration style, we’re able to be nimble and be able to bring that person on. I really like our way of doing this agency thing, Jen. I think we’re doing a great job.
Jennifer: Well, good, Amy.
Amy: This nimble agency thing.
Dan: See, you’re agreeing right now.
Jennifer: Isn’t that what Meg Lewis does too with Ghostly Ferns? I think they’re a group of really well – they blend really well, but they’re freelancers who choose to work together on certain projects.
Dan: A collective.
Jennifer: The nature of the economy now, no one is really hiring internally design teams as much as they used to. That’s a sweeping statement, but a lot of people are outsourcing more. It makes sense because the fluctuations of jobs, when things come in, and what kind of style they want is really hard to guess.
Dan: Because they’re not full time, you can bring them into certain projects but maybe not other ones.
Dan: Depending what you need, you can assemble a super team.
Jennifer: The tradeoff for them is they get to say yes or no. They don’t have to do everything we tell them. They’re like “I don’t want to do that.” All right, cool. Otherwise, it would be a really one-way relationship where we were getting all the benefits and they were left out on their own. I think they love the flexibility, being able to do what they want, when they want, but also having a big of regularity and being able to rely on not chasing their own work.
Dan: That’s the creative dream. It makes sense why that works. That’s super awesome. I want to talk about some work. I’ve chosen some shots of yours, which was difficult because they’re all great. I’m not just saying that.
The first one is “Final Middle Waves Hoodzpah Dribbble Detail”. I think it’s a poster for – Middle Waves was a –
Jennifer: Music festival.
Dan: This is so cool. First of all, there’s a lot of things going on here, but the use of color is incredible. Whenever I see stuff like this, I’m like I wish I knew how to combine colors that I wouldn’t think would combine well.
Jennifer: That’s so funny that that’s what draws your attention because Nate Utesch is an amazing designer and also an amazing saxophone player. He’s the one who gathered all these artists to do these posters. He gave us this required color scheme, which is pretty much the color scheme on my T-shirt right now. It was the bane of all our existences, trying to make these colors work together.
Amy: It was so hard.
Jennifer: They’re all really bright and vivid. If you put certain ones next to each other they vibrate like crazy. That was also the glory of it. I love these kinds of constraints. It’s why I think I’ll always do client work, because the constraints you’re given is what usually forces you into these really exciting new avenues you wouldn’t travel down naturally.
Dan: Absolutely. That’s so funny. But you’ve done such a great job with the hair being the same color as the background. That ties the whole thing together for me. There’s so much going on in there. There’s things hidden, like the band names. Right?
Amy: It’s kind of like a “Where’s Waldo”. Depending on how long you look at it, you always see something new, if you just keep looking.
Dan: That’s what happened to me. I was looking at it before we got on here and was like wait a minute; there’s other – I looked at the big version, the attachment, and was like there’s band names all over the place – the B45s, is that another one?
Jennifer: Pretty much every piece of text on here besides the Middle Waves is they’re all bands in the lineup. We tried to organize which ones were largest and had the most exciting placements as the headliners. The coolest thing about this whole thing was I was like the Flaming Lips are headlining. This is amazing. We get to design something for it. It was cool.
Dan: That’s incredible. I love Flaming Lips. I also love Best Coast. Really good stuff.
Amy: Good lineup.
Dan: That’s a real cool California –
Jennifer: The craziest thing, Dan – I don’t know if you have – oh, there’s a chat on here. I’ve got to send you something. I sent in the final design and the girl who’s collecting and doing the producing to make sure everything gets done on time goes “You have got to be kidding me.” I was like “What?” She goes, “My best friend who is also volunteering for this festival, I took a picture of her a month ago. She came home really late or something, and we were having a party. She just fell down on the floor next to a record, and she literally looks exactly like your composition.” I have to send you this. It’s so crazy.
Amy: It was kismet, fate.
Dan: That’s cosmic.
Jennifer: It’s so cosmic.
Dan: That’s amazing.
Jennifer: But we have to put it in the show notes if we can.
Dan: If that’s cool with you, we’d love to put it in the show notes.
Jennifer: We have to. I wonder if I have to get image consent from that girl? I’ll ask.
Dan: You have to get a release, model release for it or something.
Jennifer: Her modeling career is going to blow up after this.
Dan: The only problem is we don’t want to confuse people and be like you just took a photo and made the –
Jennifer: It literally looks like it’s the photo reference. It’s crazy.
Amy: And no one ever reads the whole story. They just look at photos. That’s exactly what will happen.
Dan: Still amazing, but – is she wearing a Best Coast shirt and a Bully necklace by any chance?
Jennifer: No. That would have been weird. Maybe I’m psychic and just didn’t know it.
Dan: You could photoshop that in and it would be even more crazy. Then that would be reality TV.
Jennifer: Then I’d be a fake news outlet.
Amy: Alternate facts.
Dan: We don’t want to contribute to that. This is super cool. I wonder are some of your projects collaborative between the two of you or one of you will take one and the other will take another? Or is it different from client to client?
Amy: For the most part, just to keep it not confusing and to maximize profitability to the max, we try to separate it out. One person does quoting, estimating, and all that kind of thing. They’re the point person from that point onward with the client, so it’s not confusing like twins. It can get really confusing really quickly. And also it’s a waste of time when you’re reading double the emails. I’m like Jen, you got this, you can take this one and I’ll take the next one.
For the ideating stage, we always work together because you’re able to get a lot more to start with, and then sharpen it, and iterate, and hone in. We even like to bring in the whole team on that whenever it’s possible, but it’s a bit harder since everybody is remote. Yeah, on the big projects, we try to have as many minds in there ideating as possible.
Dan: Not only are you running the business together, but you also like to collaborate creatively, so you’re getting each other’s feedback on stuff?
Amy: For sure. I’m constantly sending Jen text messages and like “Does this suck? Which one is better,” and that kind of thing. She hates it. She’s like “Oh, geez! Make a decision on your own.”
Jennifer: Not always, that is not true.
Amy: It’s the twin syndrome.
Jennifer: It’s hard to get work done when your phone is “ding, ding, ding, ding”.
Dan: It really is.
Amy: I’m like “How about now? How about this change?”
Jennifer: Then I’ll give her my opinion and she doesn’t like the opinion or she’s like “Are you sure?” She wants to second guess it. Then I have to sell it, so I have to always pitch Amy on my opinions.
Dan: I’m like everybody listening is going to say I wish I had a twin that’s a designer. You’ve got someone you can run anything by. Because you’re siblings, you don’t have that politeness thing you have to worry about. You can be like screw that.
Jennifer: It’s the opposite of the Dribbble comments feed. It’s like Dribbble is like “Great job.”
Amy: This is weird. I don’t like it. I don’t know why.
Jennifer: Dribbble is where everyone turns into human bots that are really polite: “Way to go! Thumbs up.”
Dan: Super encouraging.
Jennifer: That’s why I love it. It’s the exact opposite of internet trolls.
Dan: It’s a positive place.
Jennifer: It’s a place to be validated, which I need a lot of.
Amy: I have certain friends that are amazing Dribbble commenters, and they’ll always give me great feedback. I think you have to be careful about who you’re following, and making sure – I always have to give a shout out to Jeb Bridges, because that guy gives great feedback.
Jennifer: We have a text going with Joel Beukelman and Josh Ariza (ph.) where we give really honest feedback to our stuff. The great thing about that, which is hard with Dribbble, is you have no context on Dribbble. When you post a shot, they don’t know much about the client, much about the process of what you’ve been going through, what the client asked for, what the revisions have been like. That’s why it’s hard for people to give feedback. I understand that, but when you have friends who’ve been familiar with what you’ve been going through they can give way better feedback because they know the story.
Dan: Absolutely. Definitely. I think over the years we’ve realized that the value of Dribbble or one of the values of Dribbble is showcasing stuff, just letting people know what you’re up to, and making it easy to do that. The constraint of the shot and all that, it’s easy to digest.
Jennifer: It’s a highlight reel.
Jennifer: You always feel bad for those people who are like no, it’s a place to show my progress. Well, you can, but you might get grille, and no one will like your stuff. It’s so sad.
Dan: We get dinged on that a lot in terms of it’s supposed to be for feedback, but I think when we initially created the site we didn’t have any exact plans for it. We just weren’t sure how people were going to use it, and we wanted to watch how they use it and then build around that. I think pretty early on it was clear that people were showing really impressive stuff, and putting their best foot forward, trying to get more visibility. That’s what we embraced.
Jennifer: It makes sense. The community is going to impose its will on any platform you put out there. It’s silly to try to stem the tide. You have to roll with it and learn to play the game. We help run this thing called “Connecting Things,” an event series. And yesterday a guy came and talked to a guy who runs Soul Pancake—who does a lot of positive content and stuff. So they do a lot on YouTube, and someone asked him how do you feel about putting content on YouTube where you turn the comments off. He says why are you on YouTube? That’s the community. They want to interact. It’s not a one-way conversation. They won’t embrace it unless they’re able to put their two cents in. Dribbble has its complete own community that’s completely different. It’s smart to be aware of those things.
Dan: I think you’re right. If you try to impose too many guidelines or rules on how people use it, it doesn’t work. Hopefully, we carry on and we’re doing the right thing here, but we’ll see.
Amy: I think so. I like to use Dribbble as a way to get this or that opinion.
Dan: It’s very good for that.
Amy: It’s my favorite for that because it’s my favorite designers, the people whose opinions I trust the most. And they don’t have to have all the context to say this one is better.
Dan: That’s right, for pure visual feedback it’s good. I totally agree. I’m going to move to the next shot I chose. This one is cool because enamel pins are the thing. I think they’ve always been but maybe they’re easier to make. This is the “Salt Flats Enamel Pin”.
Jennifer: They’re kind of like the Pogs or Beanie Babies of the 2010s. We’re all collecting them but what are we going to do with them?
Dan: That was going to be one of my questions. I love them and every time I see one I’m like I’ve got to buy it. But then I think I don’t put them on anything. I don’t have a cool jean jacket or anything.
Amy: You don’t put them on a jacket?
Jennifer: You’ve got to get your Fonzie jacket out.
Dan: I do have a Fonzie jacket. I don’t know if dads do that, but anyway, I still love them. I have a bunch of them. It’s one of those things – I’m going to ask you this so you can tell me, but what’s fun about making them? This is the “Salt Flats Enamel Pin,” which I love because what a cool design. It’s a helmet but then you’ve got the reflection of the landscape in the helmet glass, which is really cool. Never seen something like that before. What was it like designing that? I guess this goes into you guys have created Odds and Sods, which is a store to sell stuff that you’re creating yourselves?
Amy: Yeah, we started created Odds and Sods just as a creative outlet. Jen’s totally right. I never want to give up client work, but sometimes you can almost start to second-guess yourself because they’re always changing what you’re presenting, and you hear no a lot. I feel like it’s really easy to get inside your own head after two years. Every two years, you almost have to have a reset, just go on a long vacation, or just do something purely creative for you. And that was definitely what Odds and Sods was.
It was at a time when I was feeling really creatively drained. I was just like Jen, did we forget how to design? Do we know what we’re doing anymore?
Jennifer: Odds and Sods was our experimental album that turned out to be…
Dan: That’s a great way of explaining it.
Amy: Exactly. We had been wanting to get different kinds of projects. We wanted to get more packaging work and we couldn’t because we didn’t have enough experience to show clients that we knew how to do it. And so this was also a chance for us to say okay, no one ever wants to pay for the fun stuff, die-cut custom packaging, that kind of thing. So let’s show them we can do it, we can do it well, and it doesn’t have to cost a ton. Then see if that can’t generate some work as well.
Dan: That’s awesome.
Amy: Yeah, and it worked out really well. I see you giving me the thumbs up, and yes, that’s how it felt. It felt amazing posting it to Dribbble.
Dan: That’s a theme that pops up too, like create things you want to see. In a way, it can lead to clients wanting the same thing that you wanted to build.
Amy: For sure, and it did.
Dan: It took off. You have tons of stuff in here now. It’s amazing. In terms of pins – sometimes I like to get into the details of things, but hopefully the listeners like this as well. How do you approach a pin design? Is it different than a sticker or poster?
Amy: I think it’s totally different. For me, it was hard to learn to get simple. You have to be so simple because the details are so small. There’s nothing worse than asking someone to wear a one-and-a-half-inch-tall pin. That is such a dedication. It’s huge.
Jennifer: It doesn’t sound big.
Amy: We ordered our first one and thought yeah, one-and-a-half inches isn’t that big. We got it back and were like oh, my gosh, this thing is ginormous. It’s such a dedication. So we were like okay, we got to get simpler, and just keep it to the basics.
Jennifer: Which is hard for us because we are definitely a more is more type of agency. If you look at our Dribbble shots, we’re like let’s add more to that.
Amy: You know what that needs? More.
Jennifer: We’re very “extra” people.
Dan: What do you think of this? More. Stop, stop texting me.
Amy: I don’t know what I need, but I need more. That was kind of fun. It was another little test for us. Testing we can do big posters with lots of detail like Metal Waves, where there’s “Where’s Waldo” details that are tiny. But can we make something that people resonate with that’s only three-quarters of an inch tall? That was really fun.
We approach it simply. It usually happens after we travel, either to some place we really love like back home to Kentucky and Nashville, or it’s somewhere new, and you’re just like wow, everyone is really connecting over this thing. When we went to Nashville, we were going to the honkytonks, going to Robert’s Western World, and the Five Spot, and listening to our favorite bands. You feel like at one with the crowd.
That’s how we thought about doing this new honkytonk pin. It’s kind of waiting for the moment to realize these great uniters that everyone can get involved with, instead of it feeling so much of a cool club. I think that’s what we’re trying to make with Odds and Sods, things that people can find common ground on instead of things we don’t agree on. It’s definitely a time when we don’t agree on much anymore.
Dan: It’s time for that. That’s really good.
Jennifer: So many enamel pins are so hyper niche.
Amy: And they’re so negative, I feel. The pin says “Fuck you” or something. Literally every pin is so angsty.
Dan: I have several of those, actually. Just kidding.
Jennifer: I think we gravitate towards that as people because we feel so unable to say those things in reality to what’s frustrating us. I have been learning to say no more often, and I feel way less fuck you in my personal life, because I’m like I’m healthily saying this more often to clients in a positive way instead of wearing it on my lapel pin. Then again, I still have a lapel pin that says, “Bullshit”.
Dan: That’s a whole different story.
Jennifer: I call bullshit on the world. That’s what I do.
Dan: That’s a positive one.
Amy: I think it is too.
Dan: I’m glad you mentioned the honkytonk pin because I saw that this morning and was like I think I need to get the honkytonk pin.
Amy: I got you covered. Right after this podcast is done.
Dan: Oh, no.
Amy: No, it’s happening.
Amy: It’s too late.
Jennifer: Dan, you have to use your power and position for goods. What are you doing?
Dan: Is that legal or something?
Amy: Do you have to say this is a sponsored podcast now or something?
Jennifer: Perfect. We got some advertising. Now we can write this off.
Dan: You totally can. There’s laws against that – no, I don’t even know.
Amy: I heard there are. I didn’t realize. Apparently –
Jennifer: We’ve been bribing a lot of people, Amy. We didn’t even know it.
Dan: Obviously not this, but now that we have new owners, maybe it is, but I think there is something about that.
Amy: There’s laws on Instagram now. If someone gives you something and you’re promoting it, and they paid you to say it, and you don’t say it was sponsored, apparently, that’s illegal. I had no idea.
Dan: I have to delete my entire stream.
Amy: Oh, shit.
Jennifer: Who’s your account sponsored by? I have to go look now.
Dan: They’re all pictures of random – you wouldn’t – it’s subliminal advertising. It’s a picture of a mountain in New Hampshire, but it’s really a ski resort commercial.
Amy: Visit New Hampshire paid you to put that photo up.
Dan: Exactly. The whole thing is – all right.
Amy: Dang it, reality TV again.
Dan: I have a lot of work to do after this. So enamel pins, I love it. You both do a lot of these in the Odds and Sods shop.
Jennifer: Yeah. Amy: But I think pins are fun. Jen and I literally wanted to come out with a new summer line. We waited, of course, to the last minute, just because client work obviously takes precedence. To two days before I knew I only had my 30-day window to get them manufactured, and I realized we had an event coming up, I was like okay; we have one day to design five pins. We did. We designed five pins in one day.
Jennifer: That’s the way it always works.
Jennifer: For our own brand. It’s terrible. It’s a bad precedent, and we would never do it for clients, but we have to do it for ourselves because we do it for clients.
Amy: It’s easier to do for yourself because you innately know what you like and what your brand stands for.
Amy: It’s innately in me what Odds and Sods is. Then I just think back and look through my sketchbook.
Dan: I love a “Need My Netfix”. It’s sold out.
Jennifer: The great thing about product is I think every designer should be thinking about how do I make something I can sell that’s a product and not a service. We only have such – creativity is a limited pool, I think. Yes, it’ll always be there, and it replenishes in weird ways, but you sometimes don’t know when it will replenish or how. And you can get really exhausted really easily.
Especially as you get older and have different priorities that start taking precedence. You should start thinking as soon as possible what do I have that I can offer that I can turn into a product, or even better, a digital download I don’t even have to manufacture. Make it passive income, because that’s how you start “making money while you sleep,” which we say during every podcast. Seriously, people should be thinking about it, and your time is limited, but those kinds of things aren’t.
Dan: Totally right on the money.
Amy: If you’re doing the same kind of lettering for every client, make a font.
Jennifer: Capitalize that.
Amy: Yeah. If you see something everybody is asking for, that’s your chance. You already know how to do it. You’ve been doing it for three different clients up to this point.
Dan: I love this. You’re speaking my language. Before Dribbble, when I did my own client stuff, I always made things on the side. It never took off and made me tons of money, but it was always that passive income you’re talking about. That to supplement the client work was really comforting. It’s also an outlet, but it’s a potential revenue stream coming in while you’re sleeping.
Amy: Yeah, it’s a little safety net. You know it’ll at least cover groceries.
Jennifer: Also I think it teaches you so much about what your clients are going through when you start trying to market and sell something that’s not so innate to you. We become so good as designers at selling ourselves. That’s great, but learning, and putting yourself out of your comfort zone, learning to sell and market something completely new, and going through that new thought process of creating and manufacturing; thinking about production – we have to think now about our style books. Send out information to vendors, and it’s a whole different world that keeps our mind sharp and flexes that muscle in a way that we had been getting a bit atrophied.
Dan: Has that helped you in client work? You’re doing something for a client and they’re like oh, we wish we could do pins or bandanas? And you’re like hey, we’ve got you covered. We know exactly how to do that.
Jennifer: Yeah, a huge clothing company which we can’t say because we signed an NDA, but a huge clothing company contacted us recently. I think it’s because of that work. They wanted a bunch of designs similar to things we were doing there. I haven’t been able to talk to them in depth yet, but based on what they’re saying, it’s so in line with what we’re doing with Odds and Sods. Even though Odds and Sods is not anywhere near what we’re making monetarily with Hoodzpah, it’s a lot easier, simpler, and gratifying because we’re getting exactly what we want out of it. It’s leading to a lot of good client work we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Dan: Start a shop, everybody.
Amy: Just like Jen said, every time you do something new, it makes you understand more. We never knew anything about manufacturing before. Now we have that in our wheelhouse as well, that we understand how to produce something, how to make line sheets (ph.) and how to contact wholesale accounts, and that kind of thing.
Jennifer: I love that every time you step out of your comfort zone your business vocabulary just blows up. Especially like we didn’t go to school, but even people who go to school for design a lot of times are not trained in business. There’s no business classes at a lot of design schools. I think a lot of times you’re fighting this uphill battle of learning how to speak like you know what you’re talking about. So many of us as designers rely on gut instinct, which is a very reliable thing internally, but trying to explain that externally to people who don’t have that luxury of understanding that we know what we’re doing is really important. Us being able to learn a lot of these terms, and becoming more self-aware as business people and how to talk about it is also hugely valuable.
Dan: I bet. This is awesome. I want to print that all out.
Amy: Put it on your mirror. Read it every morning.
Dan: You should print it out. You do have a book.
Amy: It’s in our eBook if we ever edit the thing.
Jennifer: We’re so bad.
Amy: We’re so close.
Dan: It’s not out yet.
Amy: It was out, but we’re re-releasing it. We’ve learned so much in the last few years.
Dan: You’re writing a second edition, basically.
Amy: Exactly, a second edition.
Jennifer: And we’re trying to make it more of a workbook so it’s not all passive reading. People are going to be able to figure out their own hourly rates and do their own budgeting in there. Adding a lot more value to it. We’re hoping it’s like one of our best passive income pieces, because that’s really passive when you just upload a digital piece and people pay on PayPal or Apple Pay or whatever.
Dan: Absolutely. You put all this work into it now, and then when it’s done you can move on and people are enjoying it.
Jennifer: Right. With the pins, we have to do shipping, put it all together, and there is a lot that goes into it.
Amy: With the book, it’s the questions people ask us the most. People who want to know how to start their own business or want to know how to quote or what to charge. Having that to say this book is only ten dollars, and it’s worth ten dollars.
Dan: That’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t get talked about enough, in terms of advice. I’ll be looking for that book too when I’m out of a job again and I have to go back, especially after the Instagram fiasco.
I want to move on to another shot. This one is called “Wine Feature Italy - Illustration for Saute Magazine” This is cool. This is part of a series that you did, Jen. First of all, I had to pick it because I love wine. It’s a little too early for that right now, but I would be having it. Again, really creative use of the shadow depicting the region of the wine. I wanted to get a little back story on this one.
Jennifer: Me and Amy both worked on parts of the illustration. I think an interesting qualifier for this whole project was that we met the girl who brought us in on this project years ago at a project that was not a positive experience at all. Not because of her but because of other outside influences. But we did right by the project. We made sure it still was something we were really proud of. She was also involved in it, and we got to work with her.
Because we did right by that, even though it would have been so easy to be like “I’m done. I gotta get out of here.” Years later, she remembered us and brought us in on this amazing new magazine they’re doing. I thought that was really cool, just as a lesson there.
Once she brought us in – it’s a brand-new magazine and a lot of people were contributing work for free, which is amazing and so good out of these peoples’ hearts to do that. But the problem was on one of the images for this piece they were doing, the quality wasn’t what we wanted. We didn’t know how to say that, so a good tactic we learned was to just go in and say to her, “What do you think about these images?” She was like “They’re not that good, are they?” I was like “Well, they aren’t that luxury quality you were looking for in the magazine.” So I said, “What if we do illustration instead, something that feels elevated and isn’t cheesy, but could replace the image?”
She let us do it, and it wasn’t within our quote, but we did it because we just wanted the magazine to look amazing. I think sometimes it’s worth it to add in those extras, especially if it’s someone you know and trust, because now that magazine, which was the inaugural issue – we got to be the creative directors on and set the style and tone. Now that’s the calling card that we use for other pieces and other editorial outlets who maybe didn’t think we could do that before. As long as you get benefit out of it, I think investing more than what you’re expected – as long as you’re not being taken advantage of, is hugely important. It’s good for everyone.
Dan: I totally agree.
Amy: That client had been so easy to work with an if anything they were so easy it was going a lot faster and on schedule than we had anticipated. We had more time budgeted than we had used. We thought they’ve been amazing. Let’s be amazing back to them.
Dan: That’s the thing. Imagine being nice to people will actually get you further in life.
Jennifer: Now even though we weren’t contracted with them to do more issues, they’re like hey, I know we only agreed to do this many, but now we want you to do more illustrations per issue. We’ll pay you to do those. It did beget work because we paid it forward. That’s not always true. It’s a very nice thought and sometimes it does become true, which is awesome. But I think it was rewarding for us, even if it hadn’t come back, to do really cool work we were proud of.
Dan: I think like you said; if the client is fun to work with and you have a good rapport, and you want to help – all the planets aligned, just do it.
Dan: Help them elevate the quality of the design.
Amy: For sure, and it got those Dribbble eggs piling up.
Jennifer: Oh, my gosh, it’s one of my most popular shots.
Amy: They were piling.
Jennifer: Weird. Maybe wine is the ticket. People were like I would have a poster of this. I was like of a wine… I don’t know.
Dan: I would too.
Jennifer: I’m going to get some of those printed.
Dan: See now I’m already asking for more stuff. This would be perfect in a kitchen.
Amy: For sure.
Jennifer: That’s a good point.
Dan: Or wherever you drink wine, I guess. That’s awesome.
Jennifer: I guess I was imagining it in someone’s bedroom next to a Ramones poster. I was like what? You want a poster of this wine bottle? I didn’t understand.
Dan: It could go with a Ramones, I think. Why not? Wine is very rock and roll now. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m going to squeeze one more project in here. We’ll go from wine to beer. Docent Brewing, and there’s a couple of shots. The “Logo Expiration” is really cool. I love when you do those. I love not just seeing the final logo but you see other takes on it, maybe ones that were rejected, but seeing the expiration and thinking behind where you end up is super cool. The “Billboard” version of it, you’ve again got the color and typography play a huge role in that piece of work. I’m wondering is Docent a local brewery? How’d you get hooked up with them?
Amy: Docent is this amazing local brewery. It’s the first brewery in San Juan Capistrano, and they just opened this week. It’s timely that we’re talking about it. The beer is amazing. The people working on this project are so passionate about it, so they were really fun to work with. I was a really difficult relationship, and we actually laugh about it together all the time, the client and I. Because we both care so much but sometimes it’s like we just gotta finish this.
This project came from Jen had been doing another project for an essential oils company. It labels, a lot of typesetting and that kind of thing. Because she did a really good job and she would pitch extra things that would elevate the brand, it just became a really cool and cohesive brand.
Their friends were Docent Brewing. So she referred us to them. If you do good client work for somebody, they want to refer you to their friends. We’ve never really had to market because of that, and that’s probably also a bad thing that we got lucky with, maybe, but if you do right by your clients, they’re like your greatest advocates.
Jennifer: Everybody wants to know a guy. I know the perfect person. They want to be the hookup and claim some stake in your success.
Amy: Like be the Godfather.
Jennifer: Right. I think we all want to be proponents of our friends, so if you get a loyal fanbase, they become your greatest assets.
Dan: Yeah, totally. Again, that’s like being nice, being good to your clients. You never know who you’re going to work with again. I’ve learned that lesson several times before. A project didn’t go well at all, but somebody on the team went on. No one stays in the same jobs. They go on to work at YouTube and call you up and say hey, let’s do this project. You never know who you’re going to run into again.
Amy: Absolutely. You never know. That’s why it kills me when people say oh, I never get any fun projects, or this project is boring. I just think you’re boring. Every project is what you make of it. You can put your all in even if it’s not the most exciting thing in the world. That will come back, even if it’s just that the project manager remembers that you pitched a lot of really cool stuff, even though the higher ups didn’t agree to any of it. People remember that kind of thing.
So we got Docent through that. All of their inspiration was right up our alley. Early to mid-1900s soda bottles, and advertisements, and ghosted signs on walls and stuff. We were like yeah, let’s do this, for sure. It was really fine. Jen and I ideated together and then I was the point person and had the rest of our team come in and help as needed. That was one of the billboards we did, and that is on their wall at 8-feet by 24-feet wide. It’s huge.
Jennifer: It’s gigantic.
Dan: That must be so cool to see.
Amy: It’s so cool. You guys have got to go on their Instagram or their website, which I’m updating right now, and go check out the real-live piece. It’s so killer.
Dan: I can picture that on the wall. Did someone paint it then?
Amy: They had their friend who was getting into muraling paint it for us, and I have to say she did a great job for not having done this kind of thing before. It was huge undertaking. It was really fun.
Dan: Wow, that’s amazing. I love that we’ve talked about different projects, but you’re able to share a lot of great advice for everybody at home.
Amy: Jen and I are very much like okay, this is business. It’s fun, but if you’re not making money, you’re not doing it right.
Jennifer: I forget who we were talking to the other day. They were talking about their friend who has 60,000 followers on Instagram. But they are like barely making it because they don’t know how to freelance. There’s such a disconnect if you’re not able to tie online success with actually financial success.
Dan: Totally. It’s not simple.
Amy: No. You definitely have to try at it, and it takes a different kind of thinking.
Jennifer: And it’s not just the nice thing. I know we’ve talked a lot about doing right by clients, but a lot of times doing right by clients is being honest, being upfront about what you can’t do and what isn’t good for your relationship ongoing. Creating healthy boundaries, I mean, with all of our clients, there’s conversations on both sides with the client and us explaining what we expect out of the relationship, and how we can better work together. It’s important to learn to listen too. It’s really easy to get defensive and think you don’t understand my art and my craft. They don’t.
Amy: So explain it.
Jennifer: Be a bit merciful about that. Be thankful for also their expertise and what they bring to the table from a different perspective that you haven’t considered.
Dan: They’re the boss.
Amy: They’re making the money rain.
Dan: Right. They’re making it rain. Hopefully raining, pouring.
Amy: Hopefully it’s not a trickle but a heavy downpour.
Dan: What’s next for Hoodzpah?
Amy: World domination.
Dan: I love it.
Amy: We went international.
Dan: Nothing less.
Dan: You went international?
Amy: We had our first speaking gig in Sweden last week. We just got back. It was amazing! It was so much fun.
Dan: I love Sweden. One of my favorite places.
Amy: I could move to Stockholm tomorrow, even though the weather is so cold.
Dan: It’s amazing there.
Amy: We had a blast.
Dan: I’m half Swedish, so I had to go – this was a long time ago I went and visited. It’s amazing. So you spoke at a conference there?
Amy: Yeah, it was at a conference, and almost every other talk was in Swedish besides us and two Danish people. But I think it went really well.
Dan: Super good. Everyone speaks English over there.
Amy: Yeah, everyone speaks English, so it was really cool. So we’re going international.
Dan: That is super cool. I imagine you’re busy client wise and making products.
Amy: Yeah, we’re planning the next thing for Odds and Sods. Kind of like you said, the pin thing is really cool, but I think sometimes you’re like I have too many. I worry that it’s not going to be as exciting as it has been these last few years, and maybe it will go back to being just a normal trend. So we’ve been doing more bandanas, some product testing that we’ll hopefully be releasing soon on new items for Odds and Sods as well. Yeah, that should be exciting.
Dan: Super cool. Thank you, Jen and Amy, for joining us. This has been awesome. Literally, we’ve got a lot of great advice from you just by talking about your projects. We really appreciate it.
Jennifer: Yeah. Thanks for having us on.
Amy: Thanks for having us, Dan.
Dan: Yeah, and keep rocking. People will find you on Dribbble, obviously, Hoodzpah, and also Instagram, Twitter.
Amy: Yeah, we love the grid.
Dan: All the usual suspects. Great. Thanks again.
Jennifer: TGIF. Bye.
Dan: That’s right. TGIF.