What didn’t I learn at Spitfiregirl? — A Lesson from Cynthia, Design Intern

What Heidi probably didn’t know when she asked if I wanted to do a “What I Learned” post, was that I had already written up half of it and was waiting for her to ask. Ha! And because I’m having a Potterhead geek out, prepare for lots of Harry Potter quotes.

When I originally applied for Spitfiregirl’s design internship, I was still in school and looking for an opportunity that would be a stepping stone in not only my career but my overall future. A year later, beat down by the challenging post-grad job hunt, I was hoping for the same opportunity when Heidi connected with me again.

At the time, I had an unrealistic perspective—I was chasing a dream instead of living the life and so when things didn’t work out as I had envisioned, I was forced to face the reality of many recent graduates: You don’t get the dream job right out of school, or let alone a job using your degree. What I’ve learned over the past year and continually reminded is that we can never anticipate the kind of challenges we will face. So even though Spitfiregirl was unpaid internship, I knew that in that point of my life, I needed to keep a working hand in design or face losing faith in me as a designer.


I had one internship prior to working with Spitfiregirl. And describing it as “the complete opposite” isn’t an overstatement at all. I feel that it’s important for all entry-level designers to get a little taste of every design environment. (Otherwise how are you going to know what’s right for you? Learning from our mistakes is part of living.) The biggest project working with Spitfiregirl was the branding of Spitfiremom. Sketching, drafting, bringing a concept to live application, that’s what I went to school for and it’s what I thrived on—that sense of completion. Though the same happens in agencies, the experience isn’t quite as intimate.

Design aside, being a part of the Spitfiremom brand development taught me so much about the back end of the design business. But I think most significantly, it introduced me to the impact of the blogging community. Though I’m years away from being a mom, I was blown by all the mommy content and the women behind these incredible words. I learned about the power of content, consistency of it, and building a community. I wasn’t a blog junkie before, but I am now.

But of course, all of this wouldn’t have happened without Heidi. All of that good stuff above is the just the tip of the iceberg. In the short period of four months, I left Louisiana to move to California, dealt with headaches and tears of boy/job troubles, and finally moving back from California to Georgia. With all of that mess, Heidi has never been short of supportive and kind words. Heidi is a well of knowledge, from design, to business, career, motherhood and life.


Working remotely wasn’t too difficult either, because Heidi was always so communicative. Because of time differences I wouldn’t always work on her time but we always got the work done. Communication was key. Heidi has set the bar high when it comes to working remotely. She was available, patient, and thorough when I had questions or needed clarification. Her personality is so welcoming and bright that talking with her was a joy. You’d think having never really met this person, it would be a difficult to connect. But that was not the case with Heidi, I felt comfortable talking with her. I felt open to seek advice in my own career. In some aspects, I saw Heidi as my mentor too.

I could rave on about how much I learned and how great this entire experience has been, but I think you get the picture. When applying and accepting this internship, I knew the design work I going to be exposed to and the behind the scenes business acumen of running a design studio. And after I spoke to Heidi for the first time, I knew almost immediately I was going to learn a lot from her not just about design but also what my own next steps would be. This time with Spitfiregirl has been more than I had hoped for. Heidi has been such an inspiration and influence.

Though I would wish luck to the next kickass Spitfiregirl design intern, no luck is needed. You’ll do amazing. So what did we learn here today? No opportunity is small if you make the best of it. And come on, we all know it and if didn’t already, you do now. Spitfiregirl is force to reckoned with! Thank you Heidi for all that you’ve shared with me.

All the best,

Image sources: 1 / 2


Spitfiregirl goes to Alt Summit

Ok, so it’s been awhile. I’m sorry!!! But honestly, I have the BEST excuse. Last month I attended and spoke at Alt Summit – A blogging and design conference in Salt Lake City. While I’m still processing all that I learned…I wanted to share a little bit about what I experienced, and how I intend to grow from it.

alt summit ©justinhackworthAlt-SummitAlt Summit © justin hackworth

I came as an expert, and left as a novice (sort of)
I was chosen to speak at Alt on the topic of “Becoming A Designer Without Going to Design School”. With 20 years of experience in design, I felt pretty confident on this topic and was excited to share what I’ve learned. While I know a lot of the information I shared during my roundtable presentations was helpful, I won’t lie in saying I probably didn’t get the ideal participant. Perhaps if it’d been the annual ALT in the winter (which is 2x the size) I may have reached more budding graphic designers. However, this foray into public speaking solidified two things: I want to do more, and I can share my skills with others. In the coming month I’ll be expanding my consulting services to help more businesses, and maybe…just maybe…start a little shop. Stay tuned!

alt summit ©justinhackworth

I say I left as a novice because I learned so much about blogging, and where I see myself as a blogger. I realized that first and for most, I’m a designer. It’s what I’m the most skilled at, enjoy and where I earn my living. My Spitfiregirl blog is really to extend my brand voice and have some fun.  Now, SpitfireMom on the other hand, is another story. I have every intention of growing it into something big. Going to Alt really gave me the tips I need to get my editorial calender in gear, grow a community, work with brands, increase my stats, and (hopefully, eventually) make money!

I met some amazing, talented women (here’s just a few)
On the first night I arrived, I attended the MailChimp sponsored dinner. At the end of my table was a quirky blonde named Christine. Turns out, she was a designer too. We instantly bonded over design, California, crazy clients and our kids. I dubbed us “The Elder Stateswomen”. The next day, I introduced myself to Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange. I’d been of fan of her work for awhile now, and we actually had a few Michigan friends in common. I was so glad I did, because I learned some of the most valuable social media tips from Megan and Taylor over cocktails in the lounge. And the glue that binds us all together? All. Self. Taught. BAM!

Inspiration was everywhere
As you would expect, a lot of attention was paid to the details. From the fashion, to the flowers, the parties, to the Bing Lounge (great job Raphael!) – it made this creative feel right at home.

Mormons are crafty people
It’s no secret that Utah is Mormon country. The founders of Alt are Mormon, and I would take a guess that a majority of the participants were also Mormon. As someone who’s not religious (ie: recovering catholic), I would normally get a little uncomfortable by all this. But Alt was different. All I can say is (and yes, this is a screaming generalization) Hot Damn!… Mormons are super creative, crafty people. For example, get to know The Alison Show and Melissa Esplin. Color me impressed.

Closing Thoughts…
I’m looking forward to attending another Altitude Summit, and if asked, I’d jump at the opportunity to speak again. I loved the community of creative, crafty and successful people and I’m excited to put all that I learned from Alt to good use.


If you attended Alt (present or past) what were your key takeaways?





Dear Spitfiregirl – A Letter From Bex The Intern

Dear Spitfiregirl,

Four months ago, when I came across the ad stating that you were looking for an Editorial Design Intern, I didn’t think twice about it. I needed to jump on the opportunity. Within minutes I had a resume done, an email sent and all fingers crossed. There was something that excited me about Spitfiregirl, and as a young creative professional, I knew this would potentially be a major step in growing. Again, all fingers were crossed.

spitfiregirl-img1I don’t even think it was 24 hours later when you got back to me and within days we had a contract signed and were dreaming up all the potential projects we wanted to tackle. To say it was inspiring would be an understatement. Then the work started, and though I had some experience in various softwares (Photoshop, blog hosts, etc), I still felt thrown into the deep end – just as well I can swim *wink*. I loved learning from you, Spitfiregirl, and I am indebted to you for the skills I have gained from this experience.

Interning is one of those stepping stones that so many overlook, as it’s hard to commit to something that can take a significant amount of time out of your week if there is no monetary return. Well, sometimes these stepping stones are necessary. Plus, though there were weeks where the work was more than others, I always had time to do my own making-money thing. So to those who are humming and hawing over the idea of interning, or those who have written off the idea entirely, I ask you this: Why not? For every reason you come up with, there are five more for why you should do it. It doesn’t have to take up Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and Spitfiregirl is the perfect proof of that.

Now, I know I still have a long way to go in my professional life, but I have learned so, so much about what I enjoy, what I don’t, what I want to do and what I don’t. I have a clearer vision right now, and for that, I owe you, Spitfiregirl, a major thank-you.

spitfiregirl-quoteimgIt was a quick four months, this internship, but it was filled with some of the most valuable lessons, some of the most creative times and some great memories. So let’s celebrate the time we had together, Spitfiregirl, for it was oh-so wonderful. Plus, I’m hoping I can make an appearance every now and again on this space. You didn’t think you could get rid of me that easily did you? Silly, Spitfiregirl, we’re friends for life. You’re stuck with me.

Until next time.


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The Table Diaries: 7 Cocktail Recipes For Your July 4th Weekend

It’s one of the most festive weekends of the summer, and today The Table Diaries are back to share 7 cocktail recipes that will make your BBQs, picnics, gatherings and hang outs all the more tasty. For all you non-drinkers and DDs, all drinks can be made into mocktails and will be just as yummy, I promise. So grab your pals, your shakers and your favourite July 4th eats, because these tasty drinks will have you groovin’ all weekend long. Bottoms up!

1.Blueberry Cinnamon Whiskey Cocktail


Ok, so the name might not be the most creative, but this bad boy is packed with flavour and is super simple – what else could you ask for?

2. Salty Dogs with Bacon Vodka


Um, I’m sorry, BACON VODKA?! A recipe after my own heart. This perfect-for-brunch (or any other time, really) cocktail is a spruced up with a little touch of gold (bacon), and boy am I ever stoked to whip this bad boy up. Plus, bacon and booze? Yea, it’s already a winner.

3. Mango & Plum Sweet Tea Cocktail


Elsie from A Beautiful Mess is the queen of cocktails (amongst her long list of other talents). This Sweet Tea Cocktail is a shining star and oh-so tasty. Whip up a batch of this liquid gold and you’ll have the perfect libation for a summer BBQ or picnic.

4. Build-Your-Own Gin & Tonic Bar


Wit & Delight has come up with a handful of gorgeous G&T recipes, and has done so with a fun twist on the whole thing. I mean, build-your-owns aren’t new, but they’re always fun. This build-your-own gin & tonic bar has me longing to have over some pals for a night of gin-induced fun.

5. Kiwi Blueberry Mojito


I swear mojitos have this magical power of being able to retreat your mind to tropical destinations. It’s funny actually, I’m not the world’s biggest lover of your traditional mojito cocktail, but as soon as the flavour combinations start rolling, I’m all about them. With its fresh fruit flavours, this mojito recipe is a perfect cocktail for summer

6. Stone Fruit Sangria


When you’re doing recipe searching, it’s damn near impossible to not find yourself on Martha Stewart. That’s alright, I love me some Martha, and this sangria recipe is a real keeper. This Stone Fruit Sangria is perfect to have in the fridge, on the table, in the backyard and in your cup all summer long.

7. Sriracha Bloody Mary


As if I was about to do a cocktail recipe post and not include a Bloody Mary. This bad boy is another gem from Elsie and the ABM team, and boy is it ever a keeper. Sriracha is like its own food group to me, and I don’t know about you, but I love my Bloody Mary to be extra spicy. A good Bloody Mary is the perfect brunch drink, especially the morning after a night out. Hey! It’s July 4th WEEKEND meaning you have three days of good times. Also, I feel like people either love or hate the Bloody Mary cocktail, but I am 100% under the “Love” category. Seconds, please!


And there you have it. Seven cocktail recipes for you to try this festive weekend. It’s also 7 reasons to have the friends around for a night of good times and tasty libations. So what are you waiting for? Pop to the shops, pick up your ingredients, ring the pals and get ready for a fun-filled long weekend.

Cheers and happy 4th of July!



We’re looking for summer interns!


We are looking for two smart, creative, and energetic summer interns to join our studio for our SUMMER 2014 Internship Program. Our clients are primarily in the wedding, hospitality, event & fashion industries, so a LOVE of pretty pictures and fun content is a must! These are 4-month, unpaid internships. School credit is preferred but not a requirement. Paid freelance work upon completion of the internship will definitely be considered for qualified candidates. Think this could be you? then please read below for all the details…

You will work on a variety of design projects (identity, print and mostly web) with an emphasis on marketing to help build a brand. I am looking for strong concepts, good typography, a strong understanding of the web, good use of grids and color, and appropriate styles for respective projects. There should be some thought behind your work. You will get hands-on experience how a design studio works, including various stages of projects from concept to completion along with participating in office duties in our creative shop. This position is a great opportunity for someone to learn the ins and outs of running a professional design business in a casual work environment.

“Heidi is a serious whirlwind of creativity. From the first week of interning for Spitfiregirl, you’ll be thrown into all processes, collaborations, and design ideas she’s cooking up as if you’re her business partner. And she’s certainly not one for awkward break-the-ice kind of hellos…as soon as you’re on her team, you’re family! I’ve found my design experience with Heidi to be the polar opposite of a cold, grey cubicle: She’s not only interested in who you are as a person, but helping you grow in the creative direction you most love. The absolute best thing I’ve learned from Heidi’s design internship is how important it is to nurture your style – that characteristically *YOU* theme that people keep coming back for. Look through her website. Spitfiregirl design is fun. It’s successful. And guess what? Heidi’s clients are SO HAPPY and you’ll get to be a part of this world of wonder and awesome design. Scoop up this opportunity. It’s genuinely worth it.” ~ Katy, Design Intern

Skills you’ll utilize and learn:
• research and concepting
• creation of mood boards and photoshop templates
• file organization
• print collateral design
• website wireframes & design
• designing email & promotional materials
• web & print production
** Bonus points if you’ve got video skills!

• Portfolio of design work that includes web, print, and identity projects
• DEMONSTRATED PROFICIENCY in PHOTOSHOP (masking, brushes, layers) is a must! Illustrator, and InDesign also requires proficiency
• Understanding of HTML is a plus
• Proactive, good at multi-tasking and crazy about the details
• Strong verbal and written communication skills
• Available to work 15-20 hours per week
• On-site intern given top priority but the right candidate will be considered if remote
• Ideally a design student but also not a steadfast requirement

Interested? Please send your resume and portfolio (please link to your website and/or client work) to info@spitfiregirldesign.com. Please list “DESIGN INTERN” in your subject line and mention why you’d like to work at Spitfiregirl.

** LOOKING TO FILL BY JULY 21, 2014 **


We have lots of ideas for our blogs – Spitfiregirl and SpitfireMom and social media channels, and are looking for an organized and creative writer(s) who are interested in penning unique point of view posts, loves finding or creating great photography and artwork to visually support it (and credits accordingly) and knows their way around WordPress.

“Being a part of the Spitfiregirl team has been such a great opportunity, not only for my design career, but also as a wonderful personal creative outlet. Working with Heidi on the blog posts and designs has been refreshing to have her insight on my designs. The four months have flown by, and I feel so honored to have gotten this opportunity to work with her and gain this amazing experience with Heidi as my mentor.” ~ Kristie, Editorial Intern

Skills you’ll utilize and learn:
• research and content curation
• article writing
• content organization
• using a blogging schedule
• coordinate with our content providers
• creation of mood boards and photoshop templates or designs to support blog topics
• SEO optimization (training provided)
• Implementation of content into wordpress blog and social media channels (twitter, facebook, pinterest)
** Bonus points if you’ve got video skills!

• A strong writer with a fun, witty personality
• DEMONSTRATED PROFICIENCY in PHOTOSHOP (masking, brushes, layers) a must – a good design aesthetic is required
• Proactive & good at multi-tasking. Efficient!
• Strong verbal and written communication skills
• Currently maintains your own blog (or can demonstrate proficiency in the above)
• Experience with twitter, pinterest and Facebook
• Proficiency in WordPress
• Interest in (proficiency ideal) Search Engine Optimization and blog writing
• Available to work up to 10 hours per week – a blog schedule will be utilized
• Available for skype (or phone) calls and emails
• This position can and likely will be remote!

Interested? Please send your resume and personal blog to info@spitfiregirldesign.com. Please list “EDITORIAL INTERN” in your subject line and mention your top 5 favorite blogs and why you’d like to write for Spitfiregirl.

** LOOKING TO FILL BY JULY 14, 2014 **


We will let all candidates know we have received your information, and reply back in more detail to those we are interested in interviewing.

Thanks and good luck!




My Life in Photos & A Cautionary Instagram Tale

Guys, I miss you. I’ve been around but my voice has been away for too long. As you can imagine, life for this Spitfiregirl has been quite busy. Since my last “life in photos” series, I had a baby, went through my first Denver winter, worked on a huge creative project (more on that soon), launched SpitfireMom and spoke at Alt Summit. And that’s just a snippet!

my week in photos

Not seen in all these smiley pictures? sleep deprivation, frustration, and the daily juggle and hustle of just being a mom and a business owner. It’s hard, but oh so worth it. Also not seen in this feed?  This photo below…

Pretty unassuming right? I’d posted this photo on my last night at Alt Summit. On Tuesday night I happened to notice a spike in my instagram followers…great, right? Upon further research I noticed that the nail polish brand Julep had snagged my photo (without permission or regram), and claimed the polish on my toes was theirs…it wasn’t – it was Essie.

As soon as I realized what was going on, I let them know they didn’t have permission, and it wasn’t even their brand and asked for it to be removed. The next few hours comments starting chiming in from followers in disgust of their poor business practices, yet the photo remained. FINALLY, the next morning after about 42 comments – about 40 supportive of me, and 2 that were snarky – they took the photo down.

I’ll be honest, it shook me a little that someone – let alone a brand – would have the audacity to grab my personal photo for their own use. It wasn’t great to see people be snarky either (ooh, she’s got bunions!) Yes, I put my self out there on instagram, and yes, I do use it for my business.

My resolve? be careful of the photos I put out, be aware, and get a thick skin. Life lessons in instagram people!



PS: if you’re not already, we’d love a *like* on SpitfireMom!


So I’m Moving Home

Today we’re getting a bit deep and meaningful up in here. You know, getting all personal and stuff. This is a bit of an interesting one for me, as it’s all still so fresh, but I think this decision and this moment in my life is something that needs to be shared because I really do think there’s a lesson to be learned here. So, with a big breath in, I think I’m ready.

Now I’m not entirely sure if you will remember this or not, but I’m currently living in Australia. However, it’s not where “home” is for me. No, I reign from the land of North – Canada. Toronto, Ontario to be exact. And in cottage-country Ontario is where I met this handsome fella whose striking blue eyes and mesmerizing Aussie accent were intoxicating and the initial factors I have to thank for igniting the gigantic crush I had on him. Without getting too much into it, this is how our story went: we met, became best pals, I crushed, he crushed, we fell in love and were left with the conflicting situation of being from two different parts of the world that could LITERALLY not be any further away from each other (look it up on a map, it’s true). However, being the hopeless romantic and heart-following individual that I am, I didn’t think twice when he asked me to come back to his homeland with him. With my Work Visa in one hand and an Aussie boy in the other, I was off to Australia.

The land down unda’ has proven to be one of the most spectacular places. The wildlife, the atmospheres, the people, the beaches, the coffee (damn, the coffee!) – it’s all so wonderful. Plus, taking on such an adventure with a partner is exciting. However, I didn’t come to Australia to backpack around. I came here to live; to have a some-what everyday working life. Though that’s what I came for, it’s not necessarily how it all turned out.

Again, without getting into the nitty gritty of it all, my Aussie adventure has just been lacking a lot of luck. The work situation in Adelaide, South Australia is a bit of a rough one. Adelaide is a beautiful city, and is actually ranked on many major lists of Best Places to Visit, but the job market – it’s a bit tight, even for the locals. I have been running myself into the ground with resume writing, volunteering and applying for positions that I know I could excel in, but once people hear “Working-Holiday Visa”, I’m dubbed as being a Flight Risk. I’ve done everything I possibly could have and my Aussie stars are just not lining up. So, after about 8 months of trying my best to get myself a proper job (and failing to do so), I’ve decided that moving home may just be the best solution for me right now.


Writing this is hard for me, as I strive on being successful in my personal and professional life. I set large goals for myself, I believe in hustling hard and I strive for success. Is it a lot of pressure? You better believe it. But it’s just how I am. So writing to a public audience about how I’ve failed at getting even the most basic of jobs bruises my pride a little. It’s hard writing to such a successful group of individuals about how you’ve pretty much run out of money and need to retreat home. Damn. It’s hard. But what’s even harder is looking into those striking blue eyes that I fell in love with and telling them that you just cannot stay here any longer. It’s hard to tell your best friend, partner-in-crime and love that you need to do this one for yourself, even if it means leaving him behind.

There are have been tears, hugs, late-night chats and many cups of tea catching said tears, but there have also been promises made and hopes built. Though I have decided to make my way home, Aussie boy and I have vouched to try and make it work. With things like Skype, Facebook and the bajillion messaging apps nowadays, we’ll be able to talk every day, but distance is hard and we all know that. So, try we will and then we will just have to leave the rest up to fate (and keep our fingers crossed that we can figure out a way for us to be in the same country at some point in the near(ish) future).

So what’s in store for me now? Well, as the days go by, I’m realizing more and more that this decision is going to be a pivotal moment in my life, and I’m ready for it. I’m stoked to get back to Canada, see my gorgeous family, retreat to the comforts of home for a while and then take life by the lapels and run wild. I think the last few months have been the biggest learning curve for me in my adult life, and so though I haven’t had the best luck in the world, I’ve come out of this whole thing with more knowledge than I could have ever imagined. I’m ready to hustle hard, work my butt off and grow as a creative professional. And damn, am I ever determined. So though my Aussie story is coming to a sad end, there’s so much to look forward to, and I hope I get to share some of it with you guys along the way.

I think the main reason why I wanted to share this not-so little moment of my life is that I think it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s ok to fail every now and again. I think some of our greatest successes come from our failures, and though it may be hard to remember that when you’re down and blue, it’s something that we cannot let ourselves forget. Plus, is it even really a failure if you’ve learned something from it? I don’t think so.


Now… to pack those bags…



  • Hello There!
    Oh hello there!
    Thanks for stopping by the blog! Here we’ll be sharing bits about design, living, fashion, business, motherhood and anything else that tickles our fancy. Hope you enjoy!




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