2020 year in review

Updated: Jan 3

EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS! We've made it to the end of this roaring 2020. Congratulations, friend! Don't glaze over this blog post like a dreamy honey-glazed donut because we're not just talking only about the highlight reel here. The CL Designs and Brand Party community are safe to come as you are and we're here to eat it all up and raise a glass to the wins and learning lessons.

This year:

I've helped impact 73 businesses - love my clients! 2,854 interactions (Facebook comments, Instagram DMs, LinkedIn messages, virtual meet, to sales call) And still made sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night Thank you to Make Lemonade for some of these prompts!

2020 was great because... I had the health and resilience to grow and do what I love 2020 has taught me... When there are threats, there are also opportunities. As entrepreneurs, we're natural problem solvers. Think about it; Airbnb, Microsoft, Uber, the list goes on about businesses that were created in the last pandemic and are now thriving because they solve a problem. There are moments to shine your light on a challenge. When I prioritize myself, I show up the best for my clients and those I love most. I can let go of the preconception that taking care of myself is selfish and relinquish the guilt associated. Rest does not dictate your success. If I were to do 2020 over again, I'd give myself this piece of advice: Trust yourself and the process! You are most strong, resilient, and magical than you ever give yourself credit for. Take responsibility for how you react to a situation is more powerful than what's happened "to you."

Go-to song to celebrate my wins: "Happy" by Pharrell Williams

Most fun project: Renaissance Womanhood's website If you're looking for equal parts sunshine, personal development, and feminism all in one hub, look no further! Before we started working together on Melanie Hall's website, she was challenged by having no website at all to showcase her value and just going down the website trouble-shoot rabbit hole, being all aboard the exhaustion train of doing something she didn't enjoy, and having momentum pickup as she went viral on TikTok but ensuring she had a domain to continue the conversation with. After trusting the process and hiring a professional, Melanie brought that big sister, sunshine energy to pitch her services with confidence, regained control to make an impact on youth while making an income in 2021 despite COVID challenges to her career, and have a newly motivated approach to content that brings her joy, play, and replicable success. Not only is her organization skill unparalleled, none of my other clients have created a presentation to show me their brand during our consult. If you know my brand, I'm all about that bold sunshine feel so this is right up my alley and makes my heart so happy that it's also able to impact others and give Melanie hope for her career.


Community impact projects: G(irls)20 | marketing collateral Check out more of the impact they've created in 2019 with the annual Leadership Performance report for G(irls)20 we worked on together. Through the marketing materials we worked on together, they were able to garner funding from global donors with on time and on budget. In October 2020, they celebrated their 11th Global Summit and first ever virtual Summit. They provided access to world-class leadership training, social enterprise development and mentoring by female leaders in the business and public sectors.


The Collab Spot | website The Collab Spot is Richmond Virginia’s new coworking space and social justice community hub. They are comprised of Black-centered organizations that are committed to racial justice and community through the provision of safe co-working and meeting space, resources, integrative wellness services, and community events. For BIPOC by BIPOC. Through our work together on their website design, they are able to stand out as the #1 choice for Virginia co-working and create a strong digital presence as they launch their Indiegogo campaign to raise awareness and funding for their organization and community.


Scadding Court Community Centre | workshops Their vision is to provide a healthy community in which every individual and group has the capacity to achieve their full potential. Am truly honoured to be aligned in values to help my Toronto community, new immigrants, and budding entrepreneurs starting their businesses during COVID. Thank you for allowing me to teach virtually about the art of storytelling, to the power of branding, and a strong digital presence with social media to your Stitch Lab, We-Hub, and e-Hub programs. Your members and staff are truly doing amazing things and hope that the skills and knowledge I've shared has inspired their potential to go further together.

Worst thing that's happened: There's nothing quite like a family member going into the hospital while trying to put a smile on as you show up for your community, and wrapping up projects to not disappoint clients before the holidays and launch season 3 of the Brand Party Podcast. Moments like this put things into perspective. If I were to look back 50 years from now about this period of time, I would not be mad at myself at all if I wasn't able to surpass my revenue goal because I chose to prioritize my family. However the flexibility that my business brings is one of the big reasons I chose to start my business in the first place. While I'm still able to hit some five-figure months, being able to have the time and flexibility to do what I love most with who I love most is most important to me.

Surprising win that I'm most proud of: It seems like it's beyond my wildest dreams but also something that I know is very much within my reality moving forward. It's celebrating my 2nd year in business full-time (October 2020) and making over $17K that month alone. I look back and often think about when I first started my career as a designer 8 years ago and how I was making $17/hour and working my booty off. It would've taken me 1000 hours or more than half a year to make that working full-time which would have been a challenge on top of doing my Bachelors of Design full-time. All in this to say that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows that month either. I had to terminate a client that wasn't the right fit. If you've been through the ringer like that before, it is noooot fun. As I was looking back on my Google calendar to see when the last full weekend I had taken off in 2020 was, I couldn't find one. Being able to truly take a full weekend to celebrate over a ZOOM party for my 2 year anniversary with friends and eating sashimi and french fries in my robe was exactly what I needed to recharge as the best version of myself. Understanding your worth and what value you bring to the table will allow you to show up for yourself and others in a life-changing way.


Surprising compliments I get that has nothing to do about my work: The most frequent comments talk about how much people love my hair. While I absolutely appreciate the kind words and thoughts, please look and comment about my work and value over my hair. Thank you, next! Close call: Trigger warning! I know we hear about those unicorn $10K months and I used to think oh, that'd be possible for X person, but not me. My mindset was that money would change me and I was truly scared of the success that came along with that. In June 2020, it was the first time in my career that I was so close to that unicorn. On the very last day of June, I decided at 7pm EST that I would do a flash sale as my final courageous push towards a $10K month until midnight EST. I whipped up the graphics to promote the Visionary Accelerator on Adobe InDesign and put it up on Instagram and engaged my heart out. I was a bit short from my goal but I knew that my time would come (eventually it did with flying colours). I gave it my all and that's what makes me proud when I go to bed at night.


What kept me up at night: It's usually 1 of three things: 1.) Being so excited about the projects I'm working on or people I'm working with, 2.) Stress that's all consuming because of a creative block or worrying about someone I love, or 3.) Scrolling to figure out what recipe I'm going to try for lunch tomorrow. Biggest mindset shift: What you believe is true. It can be tough to get out of your own head and out of scarcity when that's what you're surrounded by. Take the moment to hit pause. Ground yourself and it's a daily practice to cultivate an abundant and positive mindset. Stop asking "why you?" and reframe it to "why not you?" You are you and that's your superpower! There was a period of time especially at the beginning of the pandemic when I just had to remind myself to create more and consume less. Less news outlets, less social media, less conversations and focus inward and to a few reliable sources I could trust. Shut out that noise and stay in your lane of genius. It's allowed that intuition to grow stronger each day.


Biggest waste of time: Doing IG lives, coffee chats and other events that I felt I could or should do. Busy is not a badge of honour! Efficiency is the name of my game. For many years, I used to be a yes-gal. However I'm learning to love saying no more. Be unapologetic and ruthless of how you're spending your time because it's the most valuable resource you have. You can check out my blog post about how to get rid of an inefficient Google calendar to help keep you on track. Biggest game changer: Learn how your numbers work! Really become BFFs with your numbers, your analytics, your revenue. It will allow you to see clearly how and why your business is the way it is by tracking these and become genuinely curious of how it comes to be. For so long I would just say to myself that "I'm just bad at numbers or I don't like them" but I was making excuses for why I wasn't ready to face it head-on. As soon as you cut the BS and come to reality with what's going on, you can take control of your success. If you're looking for a numbers enthusiast, you've got to listen to this episode of the Brand Party Podcast with Karla Zamora of Fresh Metrics. She'll get you jumping up and down when it comes to your numbers!


Get ruthless! Mentorship has been integral to my growth this year and I’ll be continuing working with my mentor, Rob Green of Fan Fit Gaming in order to develop further in my business. My business totally flipped 360' with his guidance in order to reach milestones in my business and innovating to push the envelope on goals that were only in my wildest dreams. I can not stress to you enough how important it is to surround yourself with good people and those who believe in you and the impact you have on this world.

What new skills did I learn? Calligraphy thanks to Alicia Spence Design

Accessibility Made Easy course by Mabely



Your top 3 favourites from season 1 of the Brand Party Podcast: EP 9: The Importance Of Brand Loyalty & Community with Rachel Kelly EP2: How To Build Confidence With Your Personal Brand with Christine Lieu

Burnout: How To Crush It And Enjoy The Process with Lauren Russ-Constant Your top 3 favourites from season 2 of the Brand Party Podcast: EP16: #5MinuteMonday: How To Design Your Podcast Artwork with Christine Lieu

EP 17: Simple Pinterest Strategies For Your Business with Meagan Williamson EP 12: Serve Yourself First: The Importance of Discovery with Danica Nelson What inspired season 3 of the Brand Party Podcast? 2020 really got me to think about what bold legacy I wanted to impart on this world. Being able to help more social impact businesses and nonprofits this year, it motivated me also to focus on the theme of impact. This feeling of being compelled to share the taboo topics and have these deeper and more difficult conversations was important to me and bring to light. There are topics from experts sharing their knowledge on diversity and inclusion, accessibility, to mentorship, personal growth and more.

Top 3 favourite BPP episodes I've got on repeat: EP: 21 Unlock The Best Self Care For Heart-Centred Entrepreneurs with Bianca Lee Rest and incorporating more play has been a big learning lesson for me this year. Bianca brings it back to basics for me to recenter myself and come back to filling my cup and taking care of my mind, body, and soul.

EP 26: Sweetness And Success In The Middle Of A Pandemic with Courage Cookies and The Screamery gives me hope. I'm grateful to have an income during the pandemic and I realize this is a privilege many did not. Both of these businesses I discovered both on a stroll around Toronto at Stackt Market and scrolling through Instagram that inspired me to share their sweet story. Not only are they giving back to the community at large but giving us the hope that we can do it too. EP36: #5MinuteMonday: From Ladders To Mountains, How I Climbed My Way To The Top with Christine Lieu It often reminds me how far I've come from the butterflies, guilt, and shame that I had felt so vividly when I quit my corporate job at CBC Music to where I am now... I don't regret it for a second and will forever be one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Favourite podcast episodes to record together: How could I possibly choose because each guest brings such a passionate energy to what they do?! If I had to narrow it down, it'd be... EP 6: How To Optimize Your Brand Assets with Jenny Jay This will forever have a special place in my heart. Not only do I personally invest in getting my brand photography magic done by Jenny and Tharsi of The Double Jay Collective, but she was actually the first guest I ever recorded with for the Brand Party Podcast. She helped me troubleshoot, provide all the puns you could dream of, and was incredibly patient as I threw myself in the deep end of launching something I've never done before and am eternally grateful. EP 38: How To Create Killer Visuals For Your Brand with Amy Balliett Amy has qualities that I aspire to as a creative; humble, down to earth, eloquent, with accolades of speaking on the Adobe Max stage to providing over $5M in services to nonprofits. It's allowed me to reflect on the impact of my skillset on this world and to have the opportunity to have a conversation with a great leader is the cherry on top. Coming in 2021: Clary Chambers, Anita Chauhan, and Jennifer Singh All of these women embody such exemplary enthusiasm when they speak. You can tell that they feel so deeply about accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and amplifying these untold stories and experiences. Can't wait for you to tune into these episodes in the new year!

Word for 2021? Impact. What's next for 2021? On top of the portions of profits I give back to my community and causes, I am looking to implement more services or profits in 2021 towards pro-bono advocacy work for some deserving organizations throughout the year.


The type of leader I want to be is bold, courageous, and graceful. Having these deeper conversations on season 3 of the Brand Party Podcast is important for me to learn/unlearn and lead by example. I’m evolving my accessibility through the podcasting I do with added captioning and partial transcriptions that will evolve over time. I’m currently taking an accessibility design course by Mabely to further this knowledge and understanding and having conversations with accessibility experts in the industry. With the world of podcasting, this element of inclusion and accessibility is often overlooked and I want to ensure that my listeners are welcomed and supported.


In terms of offerings, 2020 has been a year of experimentation. But 2021 will be about coming back to the 80/20 rule to double down on the services that are truly serving my community and having 20% of my time focused on intentional play to continue innovating. A new program for a brand audit will be offered in 2021 to help my clients look holistically in a group and 1:1 setting to identify the gaps in their brand visual communications and business strategy in order to gain clarity to increase their impact and profits.

Want a blast from the past? Check out the 10 things I learned in my first year of business full-time Liked what you read? 💌 Make it inbox official. Join the Permission to Envision email newsletter for your weekly dose of actionable tips and inspiration to connect with the people most important to you and make your brand a priority today. You'll also get an instant gift of a free Brand Consistency Checklist when you join.

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