I’ve spent over 20 years sharpening my skills as an in-house graphic designer. But looking back, entrepreneurship, grit, and hard work have always been in my blood. My grandpa was a farmer on the great plains of South Dakota, not far from where the “Little House on the Prairie’s the Shores of Silver Lake” took place.
My mom embodies a true midwestern rebel spirit. One of my favorite stories about her is how she and her best friend took her brother’s 1967 forest green Ford Mustang out for joy rides on the old country roads and then drove it backwards all the way home to take the mileage off. Later she became a psychiatric nurse and the director of the hospital in town. But before she got big-time, my mom was a master side hustler. She came up with all kinds of inventive schemes. From growing violets under the house and selling them to the local nurseries or making ceramics in our laundry room and then hawking them at craft fairs. Finally self-publishing her crochet patterns books and peddling them on eBay. As they say — where there’s a will, there’s a way. But for me it all started with a band trip and pink detention slip.
Read on below for the full fledged story of what brought me here to you.
Rapid City, South Dakota. 1994.
It all started with a band trip and pink detention slip.
Kentucky Fried Rat
Fed up with my high school fast-food job at Kentucky Fried Rat (ahem, I mean chicken), my mom suggested I start weaving rugs on an old floor loom in our garage. I made enough that summer to fund a band trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii my junior year. Through my family and my collective experiences, I learned how to value hard work, grit, and the hustle of running a business which I bring with me into Moonshine Design.
It was 1994, and I was eager to ditch my band geek persona, so I signed up for Mr. Horan’s photography class. He was one of the “cool” teachers — sporting a curly mullet with a pierced ear and into heavy metal and guitars. Back then, I had a bad case of senioritis and an even worse habit of skipping classes that lead to a backpack full of pink detention slips. Mr. Horan offered to let me make up my detention by spending time in Yearbook — either photographing school events, laying out the book in Quark, or editing photos in Photoshop 2.0 (aren’t we on version 20 something now?)
Wide Open Spaces
Until then, I was convinced I would be a journalist when my best friends since the 7th grade, the twins, introduced me to Northwest College in Powell, WY. It offered a photography degree. I applied to South Dakota State University and NWC but I still wasn’t sure which road to take? I was accepted to both but received scholarships to NWC. Off to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, I went.
I Saw the Sign
In my final year, sitting in Mr. Tyree’s Electronic Typesetting class, I found my calling. After all, I had always questioned as a kid why some signs and menus were so dang ugly? Why not make them look better? It seemed so obvious to me what should be done.
In 1998, I graduated with my AAS degree in Photographic Communications. I migrated west to Denver, attending Platt College in Aurora, Colorado, while working at a small print shop. By 2000 I earned another AAS in Multimedia Design and was drafted into an ad agency before finishing school. But a month into the job, they fired me — no reason given. And I swore never to work for an agency again.
Sleep Deprivation Isn’t My Jam
Not one to sit on my laurels, I swiftly wrangled myself a new role at Villager Newspaper. I stayed up until 2 am one night to meet a deadline, printing and pasting blocks of text and masking it off with rubylith laying out the newspaper since they hadn’t gone digital yet. Sleep deprivation isn’t my jam though, so it was time to move on.
Just the Good Old Boys
Did you know the original Daisy Duke grew up in South Dakota and went to my high school? Well, she did, which leads me to the couple of good old boys from Lincoln, Nebraska who hired me on to lead up the production and design of their monthly print and online publication, Computer Market Source Magazine. But as you well know, the dot com bubble burst in 2001, and it folded fast.
I quickly recovered and found myself designing logos for the golf apparel industry Imperial Headwear (now Imperial Sportswear). It was the perfect place to sharpen my understanding of logo design, but I needed more of challenge so I continued my search for just the right fit.
The Pumpkin Patch
I settled at Pumpkin Masters in 2002, designing pumpkin carving kits for Disney, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and the big 3 retailers (K-mart, Walmart, and Target). All good things come to an end, though, and Pumpkin Masters was sold in 2004 to Signature Brands in North Carolina.
Striking It Rich
Next, I struck it rich at Scott’s Liquid Gold, working with a multitude of brands from cosmetics to household chemicals — supporting the sales department with collateral and designing logos and packaging, and acting as an in-house photographer. But in 2007, I started feeling restless, itching for a new challenge.
Yes — I Hit the Jackpot!
I advanced North to the flatirons of Boulder and Covidien, now Medtronics — working there for a little under a year on the production and design of packaging and instructions for FDA-regulated respiratory medical devices.
Pregnant, a new job wasn’t even on my radar. But word of my skills had traveled fast through the grapevine. In the Spring of 2008, Sashco, a manufacturer of caulking and stains, reached out. I freelanced for them while still working at Covidien, developing a logo and packaging for a new product called Stacker. I was hired a month later for a remote, part-time work-from-home position. It was a dream come true — I could raise my daughter and not give up design. I had hit the jackpot!
Livin’ the Dream
I held steadfast at Sashco for 13 years designing for the log home segment side on every medium you can imagine — print, packaging, digital, and even video for a spell. When you’re at a company for that long, you pick up skills along the way. I served with eight different marketing directors and six creative directors. Through them all, I learned about business, marketing, consumers, dealers, packaging, and about the kind of leader I wanted to be. But things can get a little boring, too, when you’re standing still, so I started freelancing in earnest again in 2018. Then in January 2021, Sashco restructured their marketing department, leading them to eliminate a few in-house positions, mine being one of them.
I’m one of those who fall down, dust themselves off, and then get back up again. I decided it was high time to start my own business, Moonshine Design. I’m excited to share the breadth of my knowledge and experience with you to help solve your problems.
So that’s what lead me here.
How about you?
If my experience jives with what you’re looking for give me holler. Or give me a follow on LinkedIn.
Don’t Be Shy. Give Me a Holler!