Cassie Pyle, the designer and blogger behind the immaculate and sleek blog The Veda House talks about her journey as a freelance designer, her work process, daily routine and her favorite online destinations.
How and when did you start freelancing and blogging ?
I jumped into the world of full-time freelance during the spring of 2013 after a lot of hemming and hawing. At that time, I had quit my day job as Art Director at an Advertising Agency in St. Louis, Missouri. Although the experience and knowledge gained was invaluable, I was hungry to build my own brand and have my own clients. I was also ready for the flexibility to craft how my days would pan out and what type of clients I would add to my portfolio.
Blogging has been a part of my daily life since 2008. During my college years, I ran a blog with another design student called, A Design Mafia. If wasn’t until 2010 (a year after graduation), that I started Veda House. My blog has changed focus many times since 2010. All of these evolutions were really integral in how my business and focus have shifted over the years. Blogging has allowed me to explore different creative passions as well as grow a decent following, many of whom are now paying freelance clients.
Where do you take inspiration for your blog post subjects ?
Finding inspiration can be easy, but refining that inspiration and choosing what to post and what not to post is one of the trickiest parts. I tend to go with my gut on this. The top priority for me is to produce original content that can inspire others, to share other designer’s work, and throw in a little freelance chatter here and there. “Quality of quantity” is becoming increasingly important to me as everyone and their mother’s have blogs these days.
With so many blogs out there, what is your secret to standing out ?
As mentioned early, I think original quality content is the most important aspect to running a blog that stands out. In that quality content comes honesty and a really fine focus for what you’re sharing. Just because you like shopping at Asos, baking bread, minimalist room design, and travel doesn’t mean you have to blog about all these aspects. Keep a really refined vision for your blog and brand. The things you share stand out when they are shared in a way that gets your reader to explore content differently or gives them a simple moment to pause.
Where do you find the inspiration for your graphic design work?
Honestly, I try to stay clear of all the typical vehicles of inspiration when it comes to design work. I feels it’s really easy to replicate a current design trend and by looking at others work so often, you may not even know you are mimicking. I do however draw lots of inspiration from editorial design when it comes to typography, documentaries when it comes to visual storytelling, and architecture when it comes to organization and grid structure. When those avenues fail me, Pinterest usually sucks me in and I also spend some good time on Design Inspiration.
Who do you see as an innovator in this industry and why ?
I love the graphic design work of Lotta Nieminen because her work is rooted in such consistent simplicity and restraint. I envy her opportunities to work with client who have invested in high quality printed materials. The content organization of this printed catalogue is just stunning. If you haven’t seen her work, I highly recommend checking her out.
Tell us about your design process:
Everyone’s got their own process. That’s what makes all creatives unique. I’m a pretty organized person so following a process is important to me. I will admit that finding the best process has taken me many trials and errors and is still evolving as I learn more and more.
The Download: I like to start all projects with a lot of back story. I want to know why I’m designing, who I’m designing for and so on. I love when a client comes to me with lots of information that they need help refining and streamlining. I need clients who are so passionate about what they are pursuing that they’d want to be a collaborative piece to the overall puzzle.
Getting Inspired: I then typically jump into a round of gathering inspiration and task my client to do the same. From there we share our found inspiration and select what’s most important. Ideally, next step is the client giving me free rein to explore.
Design Exploration: After the first round of design, I share my progress with my clients, usually through a phone meetin), and we collaboratively work to revise. If I’m lucky and we’ve stayed on track, most design projects are fully completed after the second round. Limiting my rounds of revisions has been a huge milestone in my process over the past year.
Each project is very different, especially when the project involves more than just design. A photo styling project has it’s own process as well as a photography assignment. There is no room for boredom when it comes to freelance work.
Who are three people you follow regularly on Instagram:
Who would be a dream collaborator and why?
I’m dying to collaborate with more photographers such as Olivia Rae James, Jessica Comingore and Carissa Gallo. These 3 ladies do an amazing job at visual storytelling. Working on an editorial piece with Carissa would be fabulous. I’d choose Olivia to work with some outstanding product company, a lookbook maybe and Jess for an amazing home feature.
Three of your favorite bloggers and what you like about them :
Oh Dear Drea for all the natural living and gardening tips. And the super cute kid.
Julia Kostreva’s blog for current fashion/design trends as well as new companies to explore
Design Sponge for the home tours in the Before & After series
What are three websites you check daily ?
Typically Everlane because of all those beautifully designed email blasts that come out daily
Bloglovin’ for my daily blog browsing
Toggl – this is where I track my hours during a freelance day
What is the best business advice you ever had ?
I think the most impactful advice I’ve received is to do what you love and the money will figure itself out. I think a lot of people are afraid to step into the world of unknowns to pursue a passion simply because they don’t know what the money situation will be like. In my experience, if you are doing what you love, the money does figure itself out. And money also seems to be less important when you are truly enjoying yourself.
Three things you learned while running the The Veda House blog :
- If you produce honest original content, your readers are going to be some of the most loyal and supportive people you will meet.
- The online world is a huge, yet tiny place, so take advantage. Some of my best friendships have been acquired through online networks.
- Having a place where I can freely explore my creative side has been a valuable tool in growing my business and learning more about my personal style.
Pro and Cons of the freelance life :
Pros: flexible schedule, creative freedom, empowerment, never a dull day
Cons: maintaining the business side of things, uncertainty, tax season
The woman who inspires you most :
I’m going to choose someone in the design industry for this: Erin Loechner. She is the nicest person I have ever met. Her honesty about “real life” is truly inspiring and I just admire her entrepreneurial spirit. She’s all about family comes first, business second and that is something I can really get behind. She’s also a fabulous word smith and storyteller.
Three favorite books on your bookshelf :
Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
The Kinfolk Table by Nathan Williams
Five fun facts about you:
- I’m an introvert who doesn’t really enjoy large crowds or confrontation of any kind
- I’m an extremely picky eater who would only eat fruit if that were a trending diet
- My eye is drawn towards all things minimalist and monochromatic, but my collector-at-heart spirit envy’s those who can decorate their homes & wardrobes with a super carefree bohemian style.
- I just recently married my high school sweetheart boyfriend of 12 years.
- I’m most comfortable on hot and steamy 90 degree days.
What advice would you give an aspiring blogger ?
Just start. It’s really hard to commit to writing a blog, but it gets easier once that first post is published. Stay true to why you started blogging in the first place and continue that honesty and originality as your blog evolves.
Morning routine : Instagram browsing in bed → coffee with my husband → email catch up while listening to some tunes (or podcast) → tackle the day’s tasks
Work schedule : Everyday is different. I work from home in my home studio and bounce around from design project, to styling project, to photography project. Variety is key!
Favorite breakfast : Strawberry jam toast with a side of fruit & coffee
Favorite Lunch : whatever was leftover from last night’s dinner or sometimes a nice little lunch outing in Denver
Favorite workout : It’s a toss up between Insanity with Shaun T or yoga
Evening routine before going to bed : My husband and I almost always make dinner together. This is something I don’t take for granted. If we aren’t explore our new city , Denver, we like to watch an episode or two of our favorite tv series. We joke we are like old folks, and typically go to bed around 10:00pm or sooner. Eeks!
What you like doing when you are not in front of your computer : I really enjoy messing around in my garden, taking the pup to the park or working on one of many home DIY projects.
Images: 1. Cassie’s studio photography by Cassie – 2. photography by Cassie for Clementine Daily – 3. Website design by Cassie for The Citizenry – 4. Logo design by Cassie for The Design Confidential