Before + After : Mafu


A lot of heart and soul go into the botanical face and body products that Bonnie Juma crafts, and a lot of wisdom and know-how have come with 10 years of making. But Bonnie's business needed a boost. Her business name—BJ Naturals—and branding were not communicating her experience and passion.

The name, a play on the words "made for you," came easily: MAFU. Products filled with goodness & beauty, made by Bonnie, just for you. Then came the branding.

Working with the Aeolidia team, I designed a logo, collateral and packaging that elevates her brand. The look is still fresh, organic and warm, but it is also polished and professional, giving her customers—new and trusted alike—confidence in her products. 


If you'd like help refreshing your business's branding or creating a new identity, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

Project Peek : Blaze + Wander

The stars aligned when I got to design branding for blaze + wander, a new children's fashion and lifestyle company started by Sarah Yasukochi. Sarah says: "blaze + wander was inspired by my kids, Ty + Ayla. It’s what I wish for them and what they and all young adventurers ignite in me: To blaze trails with intention and purpose, while always taking time to step off the beaten path, to breathe and get a little lost along the way." 

A little bohemian and a little bit modern, blaze + wander's mission immediately sparked in me about a zillion ideas. I zeroed in on branding that emphasizes the adventures and journeys that the young bohemians take. Whether basking in the sun or guided by stars, blaze + wander is there with its customers every step of the way. 

The blaze + wander business cards and packaging tape make good use of the iconography I created. Sarah also does an amazing job with the business's instagram.

If you'd like help designing your business's branding or creating a new product, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

Branding designed by Darling Studio for Aeolidia

Highlight Reel : Simple is Sophisticated

Where did spring and summer go? It's still 90 degrees here in LA, but the kids are back to school and I'm definitely feeling fall. As I get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd show some branding projects I completed in the spring and summer. 

Wishbird is a box of quotes or sayings to offer encouragement, say I love you, make someone laugh. Aeolidia pegged me to create the budding brand's identity, collateral, packaging and the quote cards themselves. It was quite an endeavor, and I'm so happy with how everything turned out. Above is an order insert that arrives with every shipped package, and below are the business cards. 

Photographer Jenna Coughlin has been on the Sonoma wedding scene for several years now, but it was time for a brand refresh. I redesigned Green Nickel Photo's logo and collateral with a modern-meets-rustic feel. The business cards and stationery—in print production now—has a luxe feel with gold foil and letterpress details.

Lastly, Jill & Co. Events is a wedding and events planning business that specializes in beautiful, modern celebrations with a little edge. Jill Remy's updated branding features foil calligraphy, geometric patterns, and a solid dose of charcoal gray. The juxtaposition of dark and light, soft and refined, reflect Jill's work well. The website I designed will be launching soon.

If you'd like help designing your business's branding or creating a new product, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

The Story Behind the Silhouette

There are some famous photos in our family. You know, the ones that everyone remembers—the ones that reveal an entire history. The photo above is a famous one. I look at it, and my childhood comes flooding back to me. 

As many creatives know, branding your own business is sometimes the hardest task. When I went freelance over 10 years ago, the name Darling Studio just stuck. And when it came time to pair the name with a logo, the idea of a silhouette just fit. They weren't so trendy back then, and the aesthetic matched my sweet design style at the time. Plus, I had this family history. 

People often think that the silhouette in my logo was drawn from a childhood photo, but I was actually 29 years old when I traced it! I was still wearing my hair in pigtails. 

I have been tracing our own family's history and progress with silhouettes. These Thank You notes were drawn when Henry was about 3 and Maira 1. The rubber stamp below was updating a couple of years later. Now that my kids are nearly 7 and 5, it is probably time for another update. 

Project Peek : What Leo Loves

Seeing my design work in print never gets old. Whether it's a letterpress business card or a catalog design, I just love getting each piece in my hand. Last year, I had the pleasure of designing the branding for What Leo Loves, a German baby product line making its debut.

The branding I designed features darling illustrations of a sweet whale and a crew of critters. They adorn an assortment of the cutest baby things, like this hooded towel. 

I rounded out the branding with a color palette, typography and iconography that can be used across their online presence, as well as their products. 

If you'd like help designing your business's branding or creating a new product, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

now showing : my interview on creative thursday

My friend Marisa inspires me. She is not only wildly creative but she is kind, courageous, thoughtful and thought-filled. Any time we hang out we talk for hours and hours—we even got parking tickets one late night because we’d lost track of time.

So when she asked if Rama and I would participate in her new web series Creative Thursday, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I knew it promised good, honest conversation about one of my favorite topics: Living a creative life. 

Today our episode airs. As I write this post, I haven’t yet watched it, but I know we talked a lot about our jobs as a designer (me), as an art teacher (Rama) and as parents (both of us)—and what it’s like to do what we do every day. I know there were a lot of laughs, too.

I hope you’ll check it out and enjoy! The other episodes feature some wonderful artists, designers, makers and shakers too, and there’s so much good food for thought.

Illustration by Rama Hughes

Before & After : Island Thyme Branding

Island Thyme has been making botanical skin and body care products for nearly two decades. The DIY spirit has been behind everything Eliza and Chris Morris do—from their very own farm grown ingredients to a studio they built from the ground up. This included their branding and packaging, too.

With a presence at farmer's markets and a loyal following, their branding had served them well. But the Morrises wanted to grow their business even further—beyond farmer's markets and into markets across the country. So it was time for a branding refresh. 
Working with the Aeolidia team, I designed a new logo and branding that still feels like Island Thyme but can easily stand out on shelves alongside other brands. The companion website showcases their products well.

With a hand-drawn and watercolored illustration, we kept the handmade, homegrown spirit, but a new stacked layout and lots of white space gives the logo a more modern feel.  

If you'd like help refreshing your business's branding or creating a new identity, please get in touch. Telling your brand's story would be my pleasure.

From Me to You

My 10 year anniversary as a Darling designer came and went this year, but I've been quietly celebrating my accomplishments for the past 5 months. In honor of my new site and 10 years of business, I am giving away 10 of my favorite things that get me through the day as a creative.

1. Baggu reusable tote - I carry this with me in my purse because you never know when you're going to need an extra shopping bag. It is deceptively roomy, and I always get compliments on it.   

2. Little Flower Sea Salt Caramels - When I was a little girl, my favorite flavor was strawberry. Now it's salted caramel. I'm so sophisticated. These caramels by Little Flower are ridiculously addicting. Little Flower also happens to have two cafés in Pasadena, and they're the perfect spots for a delicious bite or drink with a friend.

3. Big Magic - I actually haven't even read this yet, but Elizabeth Gilbert wrote it so you know it will be, like, crazy good. I got a copy as a birthday present, so if you win, we can trade notes after we read it. I know we'll be totally inspired.

4. Blackwing Pearl Pencil - This is my pencil of choice, especially when sketching something I plan on painting afterward. I pretend it makes me a better artist. 

5. Delfonics Ballpoint Pen - I am usually a rollerball pen kind of girl, but this pen might make me a ballpoint convert. (Spoken like a true pen nerd, no?) I didn't believe the hype until my friend Kristyn convinced me to try it. I love the way it glides on the page, and it's easy on the eyes.

6. Sugar Paper Signature Planner - Leave it to Sugar Paper to convince me to try a paper planner even though I swear by my Google Calendar. They are out of stock on the site, but I snagged one just for you before they sold out. You're welcome.

7. Korres Mango Lip Butter - I have a few favorite lip balm/butter favorites, but this one by Korres is by far the prettiest, and I am a total sucker for packaging. Good thing it works, too.

8. Baggu Leather Coin Pouch - I am one of Baggu's biggest fans. It took restraint to only include two of their products in this giveaway—I own and use way more in my every day. This is the perfect shade of turquoise.

9. Custom Address Rubber Stamp - The preteenager in me will always be smitten with rubber stamps. I had quite the collection when I was 11. Now, I rotate between a few custom address stamps I made for me and my family. It makes paying bills slightly more fun. This one features the silhouettes of me and my family. I'll make one just like it for you or one that features your monogram. 

10. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm - This stuff is magic. It smells like magic. It feels like magic. I am convinced it is magic in a tube.

To enter this giveaway, follow me on instagram @darlingstudio, then tag a friend on the giveaway photo/post and tell me one of YOUR favorite things. Easy peasy. 

The giveaway ends Nov. 30th 11:59pm PST. One winner will be picked at random and announced here. I'll email the winner, too, then send the goodies off to you. 

All of the products in this giveaway were purchased by me for you. One entry per person. U.S. residents only. The winner will have 3 business days to respond to the winner announcement. If the winner doesn't respond in the required time, I'll redraw another winner. Thank you, good luck!

One Potato

For the past several months, I've been working with a dream team to bring One Potato into the world. One Potato is an organic meal delivery service for families, co-founded by powerhouse Catherine McCord of Weelicious, and it is a game changer for busy parents like myself. Each week, you get prepped ingredients and simple recipes that help you serve a yummy dinner in 30 minutes or less. So far, the meals have gotten the seal of approval from my discerning 4- and 6-year-olds and their parents!

I designed their branding, packaging and website. We are fine tuning the site, but you can already sign up for the wait list. Right now it's just available in Los Angeles, but they're hoping to go national with your your help. Support their Indiegogo campaign or sign up here.

Photo by Matt Armendariz for One Potato