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Sometimes, as a designer, we spend too much time on the computer. There. I said it.  To all my design professors out there – you were right.

But, occasionally an opportunity comes along to do something different. That’s why I love District Bliss.

A month or so ago I got an email from Sara and Sarah asking if I’d do the paper products and giveaways for their DIY event in April – Makeup with Ariel Lewis.  And of course, I jumped at the chance. Working with District Bliss is awesome, because I can stretch my creativity, and do something – anything I want to – hands on.

For the DIY event, I did Mason Jar takeaways with burlap ribbon, name tags and Hershey’s Kisses. I also did hand sewn notebooks for all the participants to write in while taking the class.  Images of the final products below.


One of the best parts of going to the event was seeing participants actually using the name tags and notebooks.


Thanks, District Bliss, for another fun event!  I hope to collaborate again (and again).

DIY Workshop Collaboration-3

If you missed out on the last vendor social we collaborated on with District Bliss, have no fear!  We’re creating the giveaways for their next fabulous DIY workshop on April 10 – Makeup Tips and Tricks with Ariel Lewis! Super excited to contribute, along with Popcorn Queens and Ariel Lewis. I gave away some gifts from Popcorn Queens for the holidays and they were a big hit.

Make sure to get your spot now, because they are sure to go fast.

Sign Up Here


You know the drill. It never fails. You’ll find a great client, design a beautiful flyer or brochure, and things will be going great, when the dreaded question arises.  The question that strikes fear in the heart of designs everywhere.

“This looks great,” they say. “Can I get this in WORD?”

Now the above is meant to be comical, but seriously, why don’t designers design in Word? Let’s talk about this.

When you go to a designer looking for a page layout, they will likely be working for you in InDesign or Illustrator. This is not to keep you from being able to edit the files yourself. This is not to make sure you come back every time you need an update. This is simply to give you the best, professional looking design possible.

Side note:  If you hire someone and they say they design everything exclusively in Word, I would run – and run fast…

InDesign and Illustrator are created for desktop publishing and graphic design. They have the ultimate amount of flexibility when it comes to layout and placement. You can have photos, text boxes with two (or three or four) columns and text boxes with one column, all on one page AND be assured that the placement never changes.

When a document is created in these programs, the designer saves a working file to make changes, but unless you are a designer or have a designer on staff, they likely provide you with a pdf.  Delivery in a pdf means:

You don’t have to worry about whether or not you have the font.

You don’t have to worry about hitting a button and accidentally changing the layout.

You don’t have to worry about what version of Word you have versus what the designer has (versus what the viewer has).

You are assured that your final product is of the highest quality, and ready to be printed or emailed, depending on the agreement.

And then, the inevitable.

What about letterhead?

Letterhead is one of the exceptions. With so much correspondence happening via email, it makes sense to provide a client with a letterhead in Word. But this rarely necessitates any sort of extravagant layout. The header and footer of a design, done in InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, is placed in the header/footer of the word document. In this case, we are using Word as it is meant to be used – as a word processing tool. All other design is happening outside the program.

All that said – I don’t hate Word. I use it for papers, letters, notes…  I think it is a great tool for writing, and its many templates have went a long way to put design in the hands of non-designers.  I just don’t use it to design.

At the end of the day, what I can provide a client in InDesign or Illustrator will far surpass what I can provide a client in Word – and if you are hiring me, you deserve the best I can deliver.


HOW to win

Like most designers, I do my best to accommodate my clients – but almost all my design quotes include 2 rounds of revisions. I have found this to be typical among designers, and reasonable if used correctly.

So, how can you make sure this works for you?

Here are my tips:

Make sure text is written the way you want it before you hand it over.

This means, for example, if something should be alphabetized, it is best to do that before you send your file.  Some other common things to look out for – date order, date format (M/D/Y vs D-M-Y), capitalization, spelling, url formatting…

Make sure every stakeholder reviews the file.

I have seen situations where I go through 2 rounds of revisions with a point of contact before it goes to the decision makers. This can be costly to the client, and at times, can even result in starting over. Get text approved prior to handover – and upon receiving a first draft, involve all stakeholders.  It will save you time and money.

Make sure to include as much info as you can going in.

Though a good designer will do their best to cover all the basics, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you are covering them as well. Confirm with the designer that all the specs are in order prior to beginning a job – this includes file type, size, format, previous projects that it needs to align with, etc. It is better to give too much info than too little.

Are there any other common handover mistakes that you can think of?


As the caterpillar says to Alice in Wonderland…Who Are You?

There’s been a lot of heavy debate lately about how to introduce oneself to potential clients. I consider myself a range of things – an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a design studio… The most controversial of these labels seems to be another term I use for my business – freelancer.

Is there a stigma attached to the term freelancer?

From my discussion with fellow designers and freelancers, it seems the majority say yes.

To those unfamiliar with freelancing the term freelance brings to mind “between jobs” or “work-for-hire.”  For most of the freelancers I know, this couldn’t be less true.

This stigma is particularly interesting, since freelancing has become a significant part of the workforce in recent years. One would think that people would have a better understanding of what freelance can be, since according to this article from Inc., as of October 2015 more than a third of US workers were freelancers.

A consultant is essentially a freelancer – so why does that term elicit a positive response, while freelance does not?  A small business owner or one man shop is a freelancer too. To be a freelancer requires an array of business skills, as well as exceptional skills in your own profession. No junior or entry level services would cover the range of skills needed to keep a business running in this way.

According to an article by Freelancers Union, the term freelancer comes from “a medieval mercenary that would offer their combat skills and weapons to the highest bidder.” That sounds pretty bad ass to me.

For those of us who have done it, we speak the term freelancer proudly. We love it. We wouldn’t do anything else.  I say, we bring the glory back to freelancing.  Who’s with me?

WhatWhen I’m at a networking event, one of the first things that I often get asked is, what do you specialize in?  While I do work on a range of projects, from web design to flyers and print collateral, my niche is branding.

The goal of Stacy Kleber Design is to be the design arm of your business. I want to know your branding as well as you do, and help you to roll it out consistently in a variety of mediums. This may mean that we develop your logo, or we develop a new logo for you – but it may also mean we work with your existing brand guidelines to further embellish your company look and feel. Your success is our success, and we seek long term relationships.  We aim to help you grow, and grow with you.

I have numerous clients that see me as one of their own – and I love that. Using a freelance design studio is a great way to get quality work when your business isn’t ready to take on a full-time staff member. It is also a great way to handle temporary overflow.

If you are ready to invest in quality design, contact us today!  We want to work with you.

There are many reasons it rocks to work with freelancers – and now we give you one more…  When everyone else takes a snow day, our commute to the next room means we’re there for you when you need us!  Be safe, DC!  We’ll be here to help you with your design emergencies no matter the weather.



Let’s get personal for a minute. It has been almost a year since I took the plunge into full-time freelance, and the year has been a ride. Here are 5 things I’ve learned as I took the leap into self-employment.

1. You will work harder than ever before.

As a freelancer, you get a lot of freedom. Want to wake up at 9am?  Do it. Want to go to the store in the middle of the day? Done. But like they say on Once Upon a Time – “Magic comes with a price.” In freelancing, that price is that only you can get the work done. Sick days? Days off? They only sort of exist, because if you are on a deadline, there is no one there to pick up the slack for you. You will work harder than ever before. But…that brings us to number 2.

2. It will be more rewarding than ever before too.

I work harder than ever before, but because the work is mine, I want to. I love my clients, and I love the feeling of satisfaction finishing up that job that I’ve been striving toward for ages. I do a bigger range of work now, and I find that extremely rewarding. Instead of an employee, I am a partner – helping people achieve their business goals. That is an incredible responsibility, but it also comes with a lot of satisfaction.

3. There will be quiet times. This is ok.

I am still working on this one. There are times when all your projects are out for review, and the work is…well, done.  You sit down, and you stare at your inbox, and you wonder what the next email will be. It is scary – but it is ok. I consider these days “forced days off” – days to recharge my batteries and work on the projects that keep my business running, like updating my website, writing blog posts, etc. And tomorrow, either I will find work or work will find me.

4. Everyone will say, “It must be so nice. You can turn down work you don’t want.” 

One of the first things I hear when I tell people I freelance is – “I wish I had the courage to do that.” The next is “It must be so nice to turn down the projects you don’t want.” While this is nice in theory, it isn’t the reality, at least not for someone building their business. I want to get my name out there – I am hungry for projects. And while I won’t devalue my work or take less money than I deserve, I will rarely turn down a project because I “don’t want it.”

5. You are not alone.

Sometimes, freelancing is isolating. Not everyone understands how it works. People will think you are between jobs. People will think you are taking this monumental risk. Maybe you are. But there are many, many other people out there like you, who are waking up every day and setting their own schedules, and they are hungry to connect. Freelance DC has been a huge resource for me this year. I’ve found clients, and I’ve found friends. Find your group – they are looking for you too.

Here’s to another year of learning, growth and partnerships with great clients and friends.



I went to a networking event recently, and left with one thing on my mind – what is effective networking and are we doing it?

I felt as if a good deal of people at the event were simply there to collect business cards. While exchanging cards is important, unless we have a memorable interaction, I’m not likely to use it.

So what would make me remember you?

Meaningful interation.

Before you hand me your card, have a conversation with me. Not just about business, but about the area, the event, whatever strikes your fancy. Sometimes a witty anecdote can go a long way to break the ice.


One of the people that stood out to me was a woman I met early on – who later came back to introduce me to someone she thought might be able to use my services. Not only did she listen, but she made an effort to connect me with someone else. I’ll definitely be keeping her card.

Be a partner.

Rather than a client/contractor relationship, I like to think that I am a business partner – helping my clients make their business great through design. I take this approach to networking as well. I want a long term relationship with the people I meet, so I don’t mind if I don’t get a card from everyone in the room. One or two in depth conversations may be enough.  Who knows?

Business cards.

After all this, why is this on the list?  Have an interesting business card can be a good conversation starter.  It is also a great leave behind so I can contact you later. Just don’t use it as a replacement for a conversation.

As we write out our holiday cards, we can’t help but reflect on this year, and all the milestones that we’ve accomplished. From going full-time in February to sponsoring an event with District Bliss in November, it has been quite a year.  Below are our 10 favorite moments of 2015 – the year in review.


Stacy Kleber Design went full-time!


Attended DCdotGOV.


Taught online image tips with FuelDC and Capitol Romance.


Vader joins Stacy Kleber Design as our first fuzzy Office Assistant.



Completed signage and event design for the IB Conference of the Americas 2015.


Helped to organize Happy Hour with Freelance DC.


Sponsored an event at Kendra Scott with District Bliss.


Relocated our office the Gaithersburg, MD.  (Don’t worry!  We didn’t go far!)

Launched the new website.


Spent time at The Wilbert Group office in Atlanta.


Thank you all for being a part of this year!  We can’t wait to see what the next one brings…