A Visit to My Past Self

Posted by on Apr 6, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

A Visit to My Past Self

(Including advice I would give her if I could)

As I hit the 17-years-in-business marker, I got inspired to look back on how it all came to be. I wondered, who was that younger me that launched it? From journals I’ve kept since my 30’s, I could peek in on the thoughts and feelings and experiences my ‘past self’ was having while this graphic design business incubated and hatched.


My older sister and younger brother drew well as children, but my visual expression was through photography — from my first Brownie camera (age 8) to my Kodak Instamatic (age 12) to my Mamiya Sekor SLR (age 17). My eye for composition developed over the years and my friends, who groaned when I pulled out the camera, loved seeing the snapshots when the film was developed. My dad had a darkroom set-up and taught me the basics of photo processing. It was one of few things we shared, so pretty special. As yearbook photographer in high school I saw my  world through the viewfinder.

I spent much of the 1980’s managing a do-it-yourself frame shop in Austin, Texas, immersed in art and working alongside artists. I learned about color, layout, the creative process and much more. (I’m really good with fractions for example. And estimating distance in inches, which, it turns out, is a transferrable skill. More than once I’ve won the baby shower prize for guessing the girth of the mama-to-be with a cut piece of string.)

In the mid-80’s I started teaching aerobics on the side and soon found myself back in graduate school studying Health Promotion & Fitness. An internship for that degree took me to St. Helena, California (Napa Valley) where I led fitness and recreational activities, and later coordinated one of our live-in lifestyle change programs. I continued to shoot photos and collect other images and layouts that inspired me for cut-and-paste creative projects.

When the personal computer came on the scene in the 90’s, I was an early adopter. NOW I could bring my skills in the visual arts together and do some serious creating! A huge array of digital images, type options and cool graphics programs were now at my fingertips. I began doing “desktop publishing” (DTP) jobs for my employer and fun projects for friends and family, honing my skills as I dove into learning everything I could about design.


Wed 2/7/1996.  Maybe I should start freelancing so I can get the toys I want and write them off on my taxes. I’ve collected tons of  images I’d like to play with. Been reading up on design and layout and researching printing services…


Wed 2/28/1996.  I got my seller’s permit from the state and it’s official: I’m in business! Say it with style! 

I learned how to scan images into digital files today and I set up my books on Quicken. Also got a PAID rubber stamp for my invoices and picked up 5 (!!) more DTP books at the library yesterday. Can hardly sleep. Here we go!


The excitement, the learning curve and collecting of resources and ideas continues to this day. Gotta thank my brother Tim, who was there from the start, coaching me on Pagemaker software from three time zones away. Gotta love my very first clients who took a chance on me: Vanderbilt & Co., a high end kitchen store, Wine Country Victorian & Cottage, a charming bed and breakfast, and Silverado Federal Credit Union.


Five years and five visits to Kauai later, I moved to Kauai’s Eastside with my sweetie (now husband). In the months leading up to the move, Say it with style! morphed into Kauai Design. And the rest, as they say, is history.


  • Know that things will work out. But not necessarily on your schedule or your “way.”
  • Trust the process…but get a signed proposal and deposit.
  • Make every project shine, even if you have to spend some of your own time on it. Life’s too short to turn out junk.
  • Don’t think you have to take every job that comes along. Sometimes it’s just not a fit.
  • Believe in yourself. Your instincts are good. Don’t worry about that design school credential you never got. Over time you will rely less on external validation.
  • Get yourself in a good headspace and THEN create.
  • Embrace the design challenges. They expand your mind and skillset and take you places you’ve never been before.
  • Learn to balance your driven, goal-oriented self with your open-to-the-moment, let-it-flow self. Being aligned with who you really are trumps struggle and fear every time.
  • Learn to draw. It’s not too late.


A partial list of clients I’ve collaborated with over the past 17 years is listed  here.



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2 responses to “A Visit to My Past Self”

  1. Morris Wise says:

    This was a fun look into your past Linda. We so appreciate the beautiful work you have given us and look forward to more as we move ahead. Wishing you many more years of beautiful success.
    Morris and Byron

    • linda says:

      Thanks Morris for reading/caring. It was an interesting trip back in time for me. I have no doubt about Hula Baby’s future success and am honored to be a small part of it. Imua!

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