Episode 267: Cultivating Self-Trust as a Designer with Jen Davis & Esther Knox-Dekoning

May 10, 2023

In today’s episode of the Brand Strategy Podcast, I’m chatting with Jen Davis and Esther Knox-Dekoning about cultivating self-trust as a designer. These two talented designers are the voices behind Better Brand Designer, and with their combined years of experience in the design industry they know a thing or two about what it looks like to tune into your intuition and trust yourself as a designer.

In this authentic conversation, we’re chatting about why self-trust is a necessary tool in every designer’s entrepreneurial toolkit, how we individually have worked to cultivate this inner self-reliance, and how you can, too!

Tune in via the audio player above to catch the full conversation or scroll down for the full transcript.


With nearly a decade of design experience at her back, Jen founded Hello June Creative with the wish to help creatives with humble hearts and big visions achieve a laid back-luxury and color-meets-class design aesthetic. Her clients raise their prices, attract higher paying clientele, make more money, and finally feel aligned with their business’s visuals. She keeps Hello June’s client experience top-notch with a small but nimble team of trusted designers, developers, and copywriters on a project-by-project basis.

Jen is a Florida girl through and through. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have a baby boy. She swears she runs on Chick-fil’-A, sunshine, and beautiful typography.

Esther is a Chicago-based designer with an adventurous soul. Born in Canada, she lived in three different provinces in China and four U.S. states, currently Illinois. Her nomadic roots cultivated her heart to connect with people of all backgrounds and to tell their stories. Esther began her design journey working at global advertising agencies. However, she quickly realized her passion for working with smaller-scale businesses that are boots-on-the-ground changing the world. After 6 years, she quit her 9-5 to start her design studio to help human-centered businesses shape their stories into sensational and soulful design — changing the world each project after the other.

She’s obsessed with her many plants, gardening, and has a deep stomach for hot pot and dumplings.

Together, they created Better Brand Designer founded on the belief that brand designers need community.

They found that the branding world felt secretive, competitive, and sometimes just plain old confusing.

They realized their honest, soul-chat-level convos between two designer friends could potentially help other designers. They desire for this platform to be one where we all build a better designer community, one day at a time.


Check out the Better Brand Designer Podcast at betterbranddesigner.com

Freebie: Their resources page on our site is chock full of their favorite courses, templates, and other resources for brand designers! Scroll down to grab their free discovery call template!

Connect with Jen here and find Esther here!


Buy Me A Coffee


Brand Strategy Podcast



Leave a Review!



Review the Transcript:

Please note the following transcript has been auto generated and may contain typos:

Bonnie (00:07):
Hi friend, and welcome to the Brand Strategy Podcast, a show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity you need to build a brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie bti, brand designer, strategist, and founder of the Alum Retreat from sustainable Strategy to heartfelt Encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients, and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey, won’t you

Bonnie (00:45):
Friends? Welcome back to the Brand Strategy podcast where today we are talking about cultivating self-trust as a designer with the incredible Jen and Esther of the Better Brand Designer podcast. I am so excited to be having this conversation around self-trust because if you’re anything like me, you might have noticed how our industry has a lot of opinions. There’s a lot of noise on social media online, really anywhere you go about what you should be doing, how you should be running your business as a designer or as any kind of service provider. And while that plethora of information can be incredibly helpful, it also can be really overwhelming. So in today’s conversation, we’re gonna be exploring what it looks like to tune into that inner voice, that sense of inner knowing and how to really cultivate that sense of self-trust that helps you to protect your energy, your mental health and more.

Bonnie (01:42):
But um, before I get too ahead of myself, let me briefly introduce y’all to today’s guest. Jen and Esther are the incredible voices and designers behind the Better Brand Designer podcast, which I was so honored to be a guest on myself in the past. And these two have a, this incredible approach to sharing what they know so that they are helping other designers through honest soul chat level conversations that are really here to help create more community and kind of break up an industry that can oftentimes feel secretive and competitive and sometimes just incredibly confusing. So Jen and Esther, I’m so excited to have y’all on the show today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Esther (02:30):
Thank you for having us. I’m so excited to be here and very honored to be joining you on the podcast with Jen. It’s gonna be a great one.

Jen (02:39):
Yeah, thank you so much Bonnie, for having us. Um, I was just saying before we hit record that it is amazing to be a guest on a podcast. I mean, you, you know, Esther and I are always interviewing amazing people like you and it’s kind of cool to like sit back and, you know, just kind of share without, you know, all, all of the auxiliary parts of podcast running, like editing and reviewing and posting and social media. It’s just kind of, it feels very freeing and I’m already enjoying

Esther (03:09):
It. Yeah. Have we made it? I think we’ve made it .

Bonnie (03:12):
I think we have . Look at y’all. Clearly you have. I mean, I am really excited to have this conversation and to have both of you on because, um, well first of all Jen, I can completely relate whenever I have the honor of being on someone else’s podcast like y’all’s, it is so fun to just kind of like sit back and show up and say, you know, hey, I’m an open book and let me just go wherever the conversation leads. And so I can really relate to that. But knowing just the heart and the energy that you two pour into everything that you do, not just with your own podcast, but with your own businesses and your own client work, I know that today’s conversation is gonna be a good one. So with that being said, um, really quickly, do y’all wanna share a little bit more about, uh, the incredible businesses that you have, kind of who you are and what you do?

Esther (04:06):
Sure. I’m Esther. I am a brand and website designer and Jen and I, we, like Bonnie said, we have our own podcast, the Better Brand Designer podcast, which is really cool because Jen and I are at very different stages in our businesses. I started my brand design studio about, I think it’s coming up on three years now, two years, just over two years now. Um,

Jen (04:31):
You’re in year three? I’m

Esther (04:32):
Year three, yeah. So

Jen (04:33):
You’re in year

Jen (04:34):

Esther (04:34):
It feels like. I’ve been doing this for like 10 years, but I haven’t, I came out of the advertising and marketing industry where I worked for a few years before doing this. I worked in doing a lot of branding within in-house agencies. I also worked in nonprofit for a little while and really got a sense of who I was as a designer there, but I wanted to make something for myself and I wanted to work on a one-on-one level with clients, small businesses. And now I primarily work with nonprofits and sustainable brands. And so I love getting to share my expertise that I learned through being in the industry where you have a lot of mentors guiding you, my boss who was incredible when I was working in the advertising, just learning a lot from them, but then also getting to kind of craft my own space and build my own studio the way that I want to and the way that it serves my clients best. And so I think this conversation is gonna be really good because I have learned a lot over my mirror three years in business of how to lean into myself and lean into my intuition when I’m going through client projects and not just kind of taking on the way that it was when I worked in these big agencies. So I do brand design, I do web design, I love web design more than I love brand design , if I’m being honest and a lot of different things. But that’s kind of the gist, gist of it.

Jen (05:59):
I love how your, uh, story starts in agency and you’re talking about all these mentors and people in the design world who are working professional designers mentoring you and kind of starting out there. Like I feel like our stories are like so different, but like, maybe that’s what makes us relatable. I’m not sure. It’s so funny you’re saying like web design is your thing. Brand design is totally my thing. So I started off my business, um, because my husband was in the military and I started working in editorial design in New York City, quit that job, got married and we were moving all over. And so I was like, okay, I need to figure out something that I can do with design on the road, basically. And so I, I’m almost a little jealous, Esther, that you have like, you were able to work under like creative directors and have that guidance.

Jen (06:46):
I know it’s not always all fun and games and a lot of people come from the agency world to like get away from it and start the studios. Um, but I was really just like stumbling around in the dark honestly in the beginning. Like, like so many of us when we’re starting our design studios, I didn’t even know branding was a thing. And then I found Rowan Maid, I took her chorus of branding with Brie and then it was off to the races. And I’ve been a branding first and web design second studio ever since. And yeah, I’m in year five, so I feel like Esther, you’re not that much farther behind me and you’re honestly doing like the same stuff I am. So of course I consider you a peer. Um, but yeah, that’s a little bit more about my studio. Uh, yeah,

Bonnie (07:28):
I love hearing these kind of origin stories of how you got started, how you kind of started to explore creating your own businesses and your own studios because every story is so unique and honestly, Jen , I feel like you and I, we have so much in common. Like I was listening to how you started your business and I was like, is this, is this my life? Is she just describing my life back to me? Because I also started my business, um, in 2012 when my husband was in the military and we were moving around a lot and I

Jen (08:00):
Was like, wait, how did I not know this about you guys? Quinn,

Bonnie (08:02):
What the heck? I know isn’t this wild. I, I’m like this, this person is literally describing my life to me because same kind of motivation, like I wanted something that was mine. I wanted something that I could take with me. I wasn’t gonna be tied to a physical location. I wasn’t gonna have to start over every single time we got a new, a new location to move to. And um, yeah, the rest is kind of history obviously. Um, I like it a little bit because I’ve been doing it for over a decade, , but I love that, um, that’s how you got started too, Jen.

Jen (08:38):
Yeah, that’s so cool. I mean, I feel like there’s so many people, I mean even listening that are gonna have such different stories. And a while ago on my Instagram stories, I pulled designers on my close friends. And by the way, if you’re a designer listening and you wanna be either on my close friends list, I know Esther has a close friends list for designers only. Um, just sued us a DM on Instagram. But I was asking people like, why did you start your businesses? And the overwhelming majority of people said freedom and flexibility. Like those were the two things that people are just in search of. And so whether that is, you know, um, I know Bonnie you were sharing a little bit about on the, on the last episode we recorded together chronic illness or you know, whether that is, you know, being, having to move around a lot or not being in the same geographical location as a job that you could go to in the traditional sense. Like there are so many different complexities to everyone’s life and everyone’s lifestyle and what works best for everyone’s mental health and um, personality and all of that. And so I feel like the, you know, boutique brand design studio space that all three of us are in, like, it’s, it’s a solve for a lot of the strife that people who didn’t feel like they fit into a traditional nine to five corporate job like could turn to. And I think that’s really, really cool.

Esther (09:58):
Yeah, we’re all a little bit of misfits here just trying to like forge our own path that works for us. Cuz even like you were saying to, to my story of how like, oh, it’s cool that you got to work with mentors and people who are guiding you along the way, but like, it really was not all fun games and there was a huge mental health aspect to it where in the last job before I decided to do this, I was crying every single day and just like wanting to quit so badly and just wanting to start my own thing. So now I get to, and I have the freedom to take a day off when I need to and just like, there’s a lot more ease in it. And while I appreciate and I do love the experience that I had, I get to like do stuff that’s more freeing and like energy fulfilling now.

Jen (10:46):
And you get to call the shots for you. It’s, it’s us calling the shots. I mean that’s, that’s the definition of freedom, right? Like yeah,

Jen (10:52):
Absolutely. Yeah, 100%. And um, Esther, what I think is really interesting about kind of what you were saying about how we have these businesses that provide us with so much freedom and so much flexibility, is it kind of like this theme that I’m hearing in, you know, these teeny little snippets of our stories as individuals and how we got started? There was w you know, there was kind of this like common thread of we didn’t feel like what we wanted to do fit in with what we saw at a traditional kind of nine to five. So we decided to take the leap and start our own businesses, start our own studios. And with that there comes a lot of self-trust of betting on yourself and believing that if I work hard at this, if I invest my time and energy, I can do something with this.

Bonnie (11:51):
And there’s that beautiful kind of like, I don’t know, bravery that comes with taking that leap. And sometimes I’m, I just, you know, can speak from personal experience looking back on my journey, there are a lot of times that I utilized strategies or I took action that maybe didn’t necessarily align with the industries. Like quote unquote best practices of what everyone felt like you should do or what you were supposed to do. And you know, sometimes that works out for me and sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m curious, do y’all either of you kind of resonate or relate to that idea of how you had to have a certain level of trust in yourself in order to take that leap and start your business in the first place? Oh

Esther (12:36):
My gosh, yeah. I mean like when I first started my business I literally had zero clients lined up and I had to trust the fact that like I was gonna be able to do this, like start it and create something. And constantly throughout like putting yourself out there, even talking to potential clients, you have to trust the fact that you know what you’re saying and you can be this expert in your field and not, it’s, it’s scary, right? Like putting yourself out there in any way. We do it all the time on social media and just like putting all of your energy out there, it’s scary because you’re like, wait, should I be doing it? Like this other person is doing it? They said that I have to talk this way. They said that I have to um, have my client calls this way. But at the end of the day, like trusting that you are your own person and you have your own personality and you know how to do things the way that you know how to do them and you don’t have to like be worried about anybody else.

Jen (13:33):
Yeah, a hundred percent. Like one of the things that I think of when I think of things that I don’t do according to the norm is like I still use email for a lot of client communication and for the longest time, like I felt a lot of shame about that. I was like, I guess I’m not a real studio cuz I don’t have this really complex like client communication system. And I think there’s so many examples of that. I’m sure all of you guys listening can think of something where you’re like a little embarrassed about something that you do or you don’t like the one concept method and you like presenting multiple concepts or your clients have different needs. And I think when I shifted away from thinking about like the quote unquote the everyone else, like I say that all the time, well everyone else does this, everyone else does this well, everyone says I should do this.

Jen (14:20):
It’s like, who is that? You know what I mean? Like, and then I shifted away from that to what do my clients need? Like what do I need? And like once I got that bubble a lot smaller, like that is where I feel like I was able to, you know, start, start cultivating that trust. Cause that’s something that’s has to be built up over time. Um, but yeah, I think that our industry, like especially because it, it feels like there’s just a lot of resources, a lot of education, which is amazing. Like Bonnie said, it’s an amazing thing, but um, it could feel really overwhelming to people who are just joining and then it’s like, okay, well this person says this, this person says this. Like what do I do? You know? Um, I think for me it’s definitely all about listening to myself and also what my clients are asking for.

Esther (15:07):
Yeah. I think that that everybody else syndrome is just so easy to see because of social media and like Bonnie was saying at the beginning, there’s just so much noise. There’s so much people saying like, you have to do this, you have to do that, you have to have an email list, you have to post on social media every single day. You have to do TikTok. You have to like, it’s always you have to do this and like this is how you’re gonna achieve success. But at the end of the day it comes down to you, your business and like you said, Jen, your clients. I think that’s the most important part. But one thing that I feel like I had to grow a lot in in terms of self-trust is my design style. Because when I first started I felt like everybody had the same design style.

Esther (15:53):
Like I felt like everybody was minimal, like neutrals. And maybe that’s just kind of like what the trend was a few years ago, but I was trying to then fit myself into that box cuz I’m like, oh, they’re getting clients so I should just be like minimal and neutral and kind of like go in that realm. And I was really like stifling myself because my style is very colorful, it’s very bold and energetic and not that you can’t be energetic with like neutrals, but I, my style particularly if you look at my work, you’ll see that it’s very bold and I had to really like step, take a step back from all of the other people and be like, no, this is actually what my style is and I can trust that and I can do this. And there’s no guidelines for me. Like I don’t have to pretend to follow all these other people or I don’t have to pretend to be in this style that quote unquote everybody wants because that’s not true. People come to me now because of my style.

Jen (16:55):
I honestly can’t. I love that so much. Yeah, I can’t imagine you doing the classic neutral tan and brown and black.

Esther (17:02):
Did you know me when I did that? Like did you

Jen (17:04):
No, no. I literally like, I’m gonna need you to like post some old work. Maybe you and I can do that in our Facebook group. Um, just a quick shout out facebook.com/group/better brand designer, because I literally can’t even picture it. Like I just, I feel like when I see your work, I’m like, yeah, that’s Sarah. Like it’s, it’s no one else, you know? And, and you know that I’ve said that over and over again. I’m like obsessed with your work. But, um, it’s so funny that like we, I mean we do it all the time with our personalities, right? Back in middle school, I had someone tell me like, why are you so happy all the time? It’s honestly really annoying and I took that to heart for a really long time. True. And like, I know, right? It’s so rude. But I like damp that down and like now in my design business, I’m just like the goofy, quirky like kind of awkward like person that I am in real life bubbly.

Jen (17:54):
And I just honestly own it. The people that work with me now are very much like that and they just relate to that, you know, so it’s just, it’s honestly just really sad and that there are a lot of people out there that think that, oh, you have to do things this way, or like, this person said that I have to do this. Like there’s a lot of like, I guess hot take culture and like, we even did an episode about our design hot takes and stuff like that. But you know, I think that a hot take should, you should take it with a grain of salt, you know, like it’s, there’s not a hard and fast rule about every single thing. And it took me a long time to realize that.

Bonnie (18:34):
One thing that I really found interesting about what both of y’all were sharing is there was, I kind of noticed this theme, you know, and, and I do this too. We use this language of, you know, what’s normal, what everyone else is doing, the industry standard. Like, you know, we kind of talk about it like that. And um, I just find it really interesting that first of all we define what we’re doing as different because we believe on some level that there’s a way that people quote unquote should be doing this. And when I look at how diverse the design industry is, when I look at just even the subspecialties of the different niches that people can get into, not even, you know, if we start like f factoring in all of the aesthetics, all of the tools and modalities that people can use, even in just design, like it’s bonkers to me that there would be one normal or just a, a handful small collection of accepted best practices and way to do things when, you know, how do we put people that are so creative and so diverse in boxes like that?

Bonnie (19:45):
And so, um, I know that this is something that I’ve even wrestled with and something that I see so many designers wrestling with in not just in the early stages of, of starting and growing a business, but even years into it, we, we almost kind of like condition ourselves to always look to what other people are doing. And social media makes that so easy because we can just, you know, look up, uh, that, that coach, that designer, that industry expert that we look up to and we can see how they are doing things, what kind of design aesthetics they’re creating currently, what kind of marketing tactics they’re using. And it can make us feel like in order to reach their level, we need to do what they’re doing as well. But something that I always like to keep in mind and something that I personally use to help me stay in touch with my voice, with my inner knowing is I remind myself that when I’m looking at someone else, I don’t know the whole story.

Bonnie (20:45):
So I don’t actually know if what I see them doing on, on the, you know, outside, I don’t know if that’s actually working for them. Like I don’t know if that’s actually something they’re having fun with or is successful or is profitable or is a good use of their time and energy. I don’t know what the backend of their business looks like. Like if they have a team of people, if they have help, you know, if it’s just me over here trying to emulate all of the steps that a multi-person team is able to do, right? That might not work out in terms of protecting my energy or my time. And so I think that it can be such a slippery slope when we become so captivated with looking at other people and what they’re doing when that can sometimes, if we’re not careful, rob us of that connection that we can feel to who we are and our unique voices.

Bonnie (21:41):
And you know, kind of an example of that is like Esther, when you were saying when you started your business and you felt like everything had to be neutral and minimal and that’s just not what you love doing. And then Jen, you popped in and you were like, I can’t even imagine you doing that kind of like minimal neutral design because that’s just not her approach. And so what I love kind of about that exchange is how things started to change for you, Esther, when you did feel that freedom to step into your unique aesthetic and you embraced that, that vibrancy and the color and all of the things that went with that. But I’m curious, what did, what did it kind of look like for you? Did you start to kind of notice any signs where you were like, I don’t like this anymore, I don’t like fitting into this aesthetic that isn’t for me. Like was there anything that kind of tipped you off that that wasn’t gonna work for you in the long run?

Esther (22:36):
I think that it just like energetically didn’t feel right and I think that’s kind of maybe a telltale sign of like tuning into your intuition because when I would look at the work that I created for a client or for myself that was in that style, that’s not my style. I wouldn’t be proud of it. I was like, okay, like I was al but I was always comparing myself to like that inspiration of somebody else, right? Like what you were saying, there’s always people that you look up to. I would compare myself to them and say like, well I don’t love it because it’s not them. Cuz I was trying so hard to be somebody else that wasn’t me. And so it was, I, it really, I felt it in my gut that it wasn’t right. And that’s when I started experimenting with color more and slowly figured out that that color is my thing and I figured out where my style is and you know, my style is constantly changing and it’s always dependent on the client that I’m working on. But when I see something and I’m proud of it, that’s how I know that that’s for me.

Bonnie (23:42):
Mm. I love that. Jen, have you ever kind of experienced something like that when you’re working with clients or when you’re kind of checking in with yourself about how you’re running your business where, you know, Esther kind of described it as this like gut feeling of energetically this doesn’t work for me. Um, how does that show up for you? Or, or has, have you noticed that showing

Bonnie (24:02):
Up for you in the past?

Jen (24:05):
Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that comes to top of mind when we’re having this conversation is about the number of hours that you work. And it took me like two years to get out of the mindset of I need to be available between nine and five Monday through Friday. Like I never realized that the freedom and flexibility that I had created for myself extended to my working hours. And like that’s so backwards now that I look, now that I look at it, it’s the exact same situation that Esther was talking about when like, she realized like just this gut feeling of like, wow, this isn’t working for me, this doesn’t feel like me. Um, and one of the things that helped me the most I think is just returning to like what my values were. I mean this is the, the branch strategy podcast.

Jen (24:51):
So like, I think determining, like, especially after I became a mom as well, like freedom, flexibility, like why can’t that also extend to my working hours? And I shifted away from a more quote unquote full-time like schedule to a reduced hour work week where I’m working, you know, five, four to five hours a day, um, Monday through Thursday, four day work week. I’m super passionate about that. I was actually just telling a client on a kickoff call, I was explaining my schedule to her and I feel like Jen a couple years ago would’ve been like apologetic like, well, you know, I am gonna be out of office in July. I’m not available on Fridays. Like, is that okay? Like, you know, that type of energy and language. But now in this call I was like, I’m really proud of the fact that I have a four day work week.

Jen (25:41):
And if you’re ever curious about what that looks like, I think that every creative entrepreneurship at least give it a try. And she was like so interested. She’s like, okay, I admire and respect that so much about you cuz that’s, that’s a value of mine as well. Like, I want to be like that. And so that conversation I just had the other day was just, that’s that like inner alignment feeling that for so long in those years past when I was working these outrageous hours, I wasn’t feeling. So I think we’re all talking here about being able to listen to yourself and understanding your intuitive nudges. We have a whole podcast episode about cultivating your intuition, um, and what is an intuitive hit and, and all that type of stuff. But I think a lot of us approach design and strategy intuitively like, this color feels right or this design feels right.

Jen (26:30):
And I was even designing a brand yesterday and I was like, this is so ugly. Like, I hate everything , but like I came back to it later and I was like, I just designed something that looked like completely different, but I had a different feeling about it. And so like, like it’s about, it’s about that feeling and checking in with yourself and I think it’s something that you learn over time how to do like, because in the beginning I didn’t know how to find out what I felt or what I liked. There was a lot of experimentation. Um, but it’s that moment when you’re like, okay, I have the power too, design in a really bold style or I have the power to shift my schedule to be the way I want it to be. That’s true empowerment and that’s true freedom and flexibility. Um, so yeah,

Bonnie (27:14):
What I really find incredible about that, Jen, is that there is this, this decision to become really comfortable and really familiar with what that intuitively feels like for you. Like, and I, I can really relate to that and I absolutely agree. I think that so much of what we do as designers, like it’s kind of, ooh, I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I know that this works and this doesn’t, you know, and it’s that kind of feeling of like, when you check in with yourself, this is a yes or no, or if like many of those who are tuning in, maybe this is kind of a newer process for you cultivating that sense of inner knowing that intuition. Um, and so a a way to look at this might be if you check in with yourself, if you kind of check in with your gut and you’re not getting a clear, like, full body yes, like absolutely I am physically, energetically excited about this or feeling good about this, then anything less than that is a no right?

Bonnie (28:15):
And that kind of helps you create this, this internal barometer that you can use to check in with like what’s working for you and what’s not. Um, and starting small with looking at, uh, you know, design decisions you’re, you’re making for a client or the way that you’re talking to a client, how available you are to your client or to your business. Um, looking at how you’re marketing yourself and thinking, okay, am I making these decisions because they are in alignment with my values or am I making these decisions because I saw someone else do it and it’s working for them? So I think it might work for me. And I’m not saying that we should completely ignore like coaches, mentors, like industry leaders. I’m not saying that at all, but I am saying that because there’s this incredible amount of variety and these incredible resources that we have access to, it is important for you to first, before you take action on it, just kinda run it through this internal check of, is this in alignment with my values?

Bonnie (29:16):
Does this honor my time, energy and creativity? Does this propel me towards how I define success? And does this feel good? Like does this feel fun or freeing or expansive? And these are some questions that can help you clearly assess whether or not this is going to be worth trying versus maybe something to kind of put on the back burner for later or maybe just not you at all. Um, so I kind of, I love thinking about how we can practice that kind of self-trust in little ways because Jen, you’re so right. This is something that takes time for us to develop. It’s not like this quick, you know, overnight thing that just happens and all of a sudden we are these like incredibly confident all-knowing, inner-knowing beings that have all of this powerful self-trust. Like it’s something that we all start at a different place with it and we all focus on cultivating it in different ways, in ways that work for us. But I’m curious if either of you have approached strengthening that sense of self-trust in the day-to-day, or is it something that you approach on more of a kind of like seasonal basis or like what, what sort of like awareness do you have around that if you’re comfortable sharing?

Esther (30:39):
I think for me it’s both. Like I have the minuscule version of that and then also like a big picture. But I think for me it started in really, really small ways and I would recommend anybody to start this way because it’s really hard to l lean into your intuition. So this might sound silly, but it’s more about being aware of your choices. So maybe you’re picking out a color palette for a client and intuitively just checking like, does this red feel like the right red? Like, does this color palette feel like it’s the right palette? Like this is, it’s a really small thing to do, but I think starting with somewhere small, then you can grow exponentially through like your own process. And, but if you start with like a color palette or a font, we already do this, like you already do this if you’re a brand designer because that’s kind of your job, but it’s more about the awareness of making your choices. Because when you’re thinking about the thinking about it, like thinking about thinking about it, then you actually are doing the intuition work yourself. Does that make sense?

Jen (31:52):
Yeah, absolutely.

Jen (31:55):
It’s like being aware of your thoughts. And I am a registered yoga teacher, I’m not actively teaching, but I mean, the thing that I would always say at the beginning of every single class I would teach is, you are not your thoughts. Leave the thoughts that are stressful or negative or shameful or guilty or whatever. Leave those at the door, they’re behind the door. You can pick them right back up when you leave the class, but recognize that the thoughts going through your head are separate from who you are, separate from your soul. Um, and that’s a really hard thing to ask people, um, because we’re with our thoughts all day long, you know, and not to get too deep or too intense about it. I think like this idea of self-trust, kind of from a more big picture perspective, um, it comes from a lot of like self-worth as well.

Jen (32:45):
And um, you know, whether that’s something that you work on through therapy or, um, you, you know, have conversations with a trusted friend or family member or, you know, whatever that looks like for you to fall in love with yourself. And to start, I mean, cuz like what, how do you trust someone else, right? How do you end up trusting a, a partner or a friend? It’s like over time having them show up for you again and again and again. Um, it’s the same way for losing trust as well. So it’s like cultivating that within yourself and that self-worth I think is really important. And like I said before, it’s not something that can happen overnight. Um, but like I feel like once I started really fully just accepting myself with my positives, my negatives, my strengths, the things that I’m not so good at, that help helped me like truly trust my own decision making.

Jen (33:42):
Cuz I was like, okay, I like myself, I am good at what I am good at. I know my challenges, I know my drawbacks, but in the areas that I know I’m really talented, I can trust myself there. And there are places that I don’t feel like I’m that talented, that’s where I can kind of go out and search out other people’s opinions or, you know, maybe get a course or a mentor or coach or whatever that looks like. Um, but then internalize that, build that up so that those spots where you feel like you might not be as talented or whatever, um, over time even out and you’re able to have that self-trust and that self-esteem, um, in all of those areas. So that was kind of like a wide, like big like bird’s eye view of cultivating self-trust. I know we were talking about like little ways to do that, but, you know, yoga practice, I would say therapy, um, you know, like, like Esther said, like checking in with your thoughts. When you have a thought about something, what is it? Where is it coming from? What does it mean to you? Is it a positive thought? Is it guilty thought? Is it a shameful thought? Um, of course that’s all getting into really intense, you know, like mental health stuff and stuff that you can learn in therapy. But yeah.

Esther (34:54):
Well, another thing that I do, and I do this daily on the days that I work, I don’t always do it on the days that I don’t work, but I have my journal in front of me and I always answer these questions before I get into my priorities for today. And so I write right now, I feel, and then I write three emotions down. So I’m gonna look at yesterday’s. Yesterday I felt anxious ill prepared and I had a tight chest. And then I write, I want to feel motivated, light, and energized. At the end of today, I will be proud, calm, and joyful. And then to get there, I will focus on one thing to accomplish and take a 10 minute break after each task. And I always go through all of these because it helps really just ground me down and remind myself that like my body, I can feel all of these emotions in my body, but I need to just trust that like the day is gonna go okay.

Esther (35:51):
And at the end of the day, I’m going to feel those three ways that I wanted to feel. Um, and then I’ll get into like, what are my priorities for today? And I write three things down. But just having this like guide in front of me reminds me that like I, I had all these emotions and thoughts in my head, but I trust myself enough to write down how I feel and how I’m going to feel and it’s gonna work out. And it’s sometimes it’s hard because I’m like, yeah, I’m writing like at the end of today I’m gonna feel proud, calm, and joyful. Like, am I really going to? But I have to remind myself to trust that like, yes, as long as I focus on one thing to accomplish today and take a 10 minute break, I will. And I, I do that. I’ve been doing that for a while now and I really like how it grounds me down and how it helps me day to day just like create the sense of ease in my business and in my life.

Bonnie (36:48):
That is such a thoughtful and smart way to check in with yourself at the start of every day. I might actually start practicing that and just experiment with it myself and see how it feels. But I too find a lot of support in journaling and kind of responding to some of those prompts, sort of that self check-in sort of thing. And kind of like what both of y’all are saying, it’s, it’s about feeling safe with yourself, cultivating that sense of safety within that sense of trust within. And eventually that then kind of is something that, um, permeates out of you into the relationships you have, the actions that you’re taking, the way that you’re showing up for yourself and with others in the day-to-day over time. And a simple way that I like to do this and kind of focus on prioritizing that sense of trust with myself is in the moment kind of checking in.

Bonnie (37:49):
Like if I’m feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed or I’m a little distracted, I’m feeling like, okay, you know something, there’s a lot going on in here, I just don’t really know how to make sense of it all. I like to take a minute, just kind of sit down, check in with myself and ask myself what do I need in this moment? Like not looking at what’s coming next or what I just experienced in the past, but like right now in this second, what do I need? And then if it’s something I can deliver on, like if I’m feeling overwhelmed and I notice that I’m thirsty and I check in with myself and I find, oh, what do I need in this moment? I need water. I need to hydrate. I need to like, take care of myself, like the wonderful human that I am.

Bonnie (38:30):
Then I get up and I refill my water bottle and I drink some water and then, you know, we kind of take it from there. But the reason why I find this to be helpful is I’m building like through these teeny tiny little small steps, I’m building this dependable level of trust in myself because I’m checking in with myself. I’m asking myself, Hey, what do you need? And then if it’s something I can deliver on, then I’m taking that action and I’m showing up for myself. And if you don’t have a habit of doing that, if you, um, maybe have found that over, you know, time in the past, it’s been hard for you to show up for yourself or maybe the people around you haven’t, um, shown you the support that you deserve. It can be deceptively challenging to do this, but it’s actually, it sounds so simple, so small, but um, it’s this massive thing that compounds over time and it compounds the amount of safety and trust that you feel with yourself because you’re becoming this person for you who honors your word, who protects your best interests and who shows up for yourself.

Bonnie (39:40):
So I don’t know, I really love all of these suggestions and recommendations and practices that y’all have been sharing. So I appreciate you kind of digging into the big picture and sort of the nitty gritty of how this looks for y’all in your day-to-day.

Bonnie (39:58):
But with all of that being said, I always like to wrap up conversations with a final piece of advice or encouragement around this topic of cultivating self-trust for those who are tuning in. Like if, if you could leave them with one thought when encouragement, when it comes to this process of building that self-trust as a designer, is there anything you’d like to share?

Jen (40:53):
Yeah, one of the things that I think helps me the most when I’m second guessing myself, or I’m not sure which way to turn or what decision to make is I actually imagine myself in a void like with my client. Like if there’s just like, maybe like a beautiful beach or something, I’m like, okay, if there was no one else in the entire world, there was no internet, it’s just me and this client in this beautiful location or in an office or something like that on the, in a highrise, there’s no one else in the world. What decision would I make if it was literally just me and I was the only designer that this client had, I was the only person that this client could talk to, what then what would I do if there was literally no one else? Um, and that just helps simplify everything. Like Esther you were talking about when you’re like, okay, what do I need to do to achieve this? It was just two things. I think inviting that simplicity also invites clarity alongside. And so that’s just kind of a little visualization that I do sometimes when I’m having a hard time making a decision and having a hard time trusting myself.

Esther (41:27):
Yeah, my piece of advice would be to remember that you are the owner of your body and your thoughts. You have autonomy over every single thing that you do. And that is so powerful. Nobody else can tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. Only you can. And it’s really, really cool when you get to just remind yourself of that and remind yourself that you are so powerful, you run your business, or if you’re not running your own business, you do your work and you have autonomy over that work itself.

Bonnie (42:03):
Mm oh my goodness. The best advice both through y’all just dropping all of these gems of kindness and compassion and wisdom with us in this way. And I so appreciate it. I know that those who are tuning in are going to want to learn more about both of you about your podcast. So where can folks find you online? How can they connect with you?

Esther (42:27):
Yeah, come find our podcast. It’s better. The Brand designer podcast on Apple, Spotify, all of the things. You can also find us on Instagram at Better Brand Designer, or actually sorry, Jen, is it better podcast ?

Jen (42:43):

Esther (42:44):
Yeah. You can find us on Instagram at Better podcast and on our website@betterbranddesigner.com.

Jen (42:52):
Yes. And we actually also have a community that I mentioned earlier in the episode. Um, we are obsessed with every single person in there. It is an open table. Everyone has a seat in our community, whether you are a designer, you’re thinking about it, you just wanna kind of get surrounded by other people who are walking a similar journey to you. Um, facebook.com/groups/better Brand Designer. Um, a lot of people have made like friends and made connections and we share opportunities and it just honestly makes me feel less alone. Um, which was our intention with the podcast. Um, and I’m, I’m, I’m in there popping around answering questions and I know Esther is as well. Um, so yeah, join us there. Yeah.

Esther (43:33):
And then you can find me esther@sarath.design on Instagram or sarath design.com if you wanna check out my website. And yeah, I would love to connect with you. You can find me on close friends. Yeah, you can be part of my close friends on Instagram if you find me. And I would love to just continue the conversation.

Jen (43:54):
Yeah, Esther’s close friends is amazing. I’m so glad that you started it. It’s like one of my favorite ways to create content and it’s like there’s not that many people on there, so I kind of just go rogue on my close friends. Um, you guys can find me on Instagram at hello June Creative. You can find my website, hello, june creative.co. Um, yeah. And then come say hi on, on Instagram to our podcast at Better podcast.

Bonnie (44:19):
I will of course have all of those links, resources, all of the things in the show notes for today’s episode. And I personally am a member of their Facebook group and I can confirm it is super fun, very like warm, welcoming, open sharing space. So highly recommend checking it out if that’s your jam. And, um, in order to check out the show notes for today’s episode as well as a full transcript, be sure to head over to brand strategy podcast.com. Click on the latest episode link and you will find everything you’re looking for there. Esther and Jen, thank you so much for having this conversation with me, for getting into some of these like kind of bigger topics around self-trust and also, you know, some of these more personal topics. And I am just really grateful for your time today and, uh, can’t wait for, um, people to take action if they so choose for a lot of the advice and encouragement that you shared today.

Jen (45:24):
Thank you so much, Bonnie, for having us on. We are just so honored to be guests on your podcast and yeah, I hope you guys enjoyed Reach Out, um, to either me or Esther or Bonnie let us know, um, what resonated, if anything, um, made you have a little mindset shift or anything like that. So yeah, thank you. Thank you Bonnie so much.

Bonnie (45:46):
Thank you. Absolutely. Y’all are just the best and to today’s tuning in today, you are such a valued part of this community. I hope that today’s episode is leaving you feeling encouraged, inspired, and that you’ve found some things to either continue to ponder or maybe start to experiment with and take action on. And as always, I’m cheering y’all on from Waco.

Bonnie (46:09):
Thank you so much for joining me today. Friend. Before you go, I would be so grateful to receive your feedback on the Brand Strategy podcast. If you enjoyed this episode or the podcast in general has helped you grow your brand, I’d really appreciate it if you left us a review in iTunes. Your positive reviews enable the brand strategy podcast to continue to grow and reach like-minded creatives just like you. Thank you for all your support and encouragement as together we pursue building brands with purpose and intention. Until next time, I’m cheering you on from Waco.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

hi friend!

meet bonnie

create your dream brand


yes! send me the guide >