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Branding, Design, Projects

Branding Bars Part 1

May 31, 2016

I was approached at the end of last year by Li Peng Monroe, whose fledgeling business needed a brand. Her company is Jasper and Myrtle Chocolates and at the time, she was experimenting with flavours and blends, buying equipment and building a pod in her Canberra garden to set up the business.

Jasper and Myrtle is so-called because it reflects an Australian enterprise. Li Peng is from Western Australia, where jasper is a commonly found semi-precious stone, and her partner, Peter, is from New South Wales, where myrtle flourishes. The aim of the company is to source beans from around the world, roast them and use them to produce chocolate that is delicate and subtle, with complementary and unique flavours.

Li Peng’s brief was initially for a logo and a packaging concept that reflected the words NATURAL, AUSTRALIAN, RETRO and ORIGINAL. After research and sketching, I was able to present three distinct branding concepts to Li Peng.


Concept 1 was feminine with an AUSTRALIAN bias and a RETRO slant, based on the colours of jasper stone and myrtle leaves. The colour palette used on the mood board lent itself to pattern, which would then be translated onto the boxes. For the logo itself, the ice cream colours worked well with a 3D lettering effect, the centrepiece of which was the ampersand, which would act not only as a link between the two words, but as an icon in its own right. Li Peng loved the ampersand and the potential for the colour scheme.Logo2

The second concept I presented was very much based on the words AUSTRALIAN and NATURAL, but this time with a modern take. My research led to a mood board that showcased the typically Australian colours of sand, red stone, ocean and bush with a modern twist in the use of simple shapes.


Using the mood board as inspiration, the logo concept I came up with utilised the simple shapes of the jasper stone, myrtle leaf and chocolate bean as icons, placed within diamond squares and put together in the formula jasper+myrtle=chocolate.Logo1

My third concept was based around the ideas of NATURAL and RETRO, taking away the colour, but concentrating on natural materials and textures, with a splash of copper to make the logo stand out. Li Peng was drawn to the string and brown paper and loved the idea of the copper foiling.


This concept led to two logo designs. One used a combination of upper and lowercase serif lettering with a stylised “+” instead of an ampersand and a contrasting retro sans serif typeface for the tagline, which has since been modified to read “bean to bar handmade chocolate.” The other took a circular form, reminiscent of a wax seal or ink stamp with a strong typeface contrasting with a script.


It took Li Peng a while to decide, as she was very keen on the use of the retro ampersand in Concept 1, but in the end the copper foil and brown craft paper won over, and she opted for the horizontal logo with the simple tagline in copper on a charcoal background. This was printed onto heavy craft paper for her business cards.

In part 2, I will outline the process of taking this natural concept and using it as inspiration to design the packaging for the initial eight flavours of chocolate that Li Peng produced (all of which taste divine, I can reliably inform you!) I’m very excited about the end result and can’t wait to share it with you.

Branding, Projects

A Little Bird Made Me

March 31, 2016

A Little Bird Made Me is run by Theresa van Gessel, a little bird who makes things and works from her rural base near Canberra. Her talents with textiles extend from funky bags to baby bibs and she regularly creates bespoke pieces for clients who want something individually crafted from her treasure trove of fabrics.

Little BirdTheresa commissioned Callie & Co Design to create a new brand for her. While her quirky little bird logo had sentimental value (drawn by her daughter), she was ready for a new direction. Theresa is a real mix of conventional (she was a lawyer in a former life) and bohemian, with a passion for fabric (she would call it an addiction!) and a rural property near Canberra.

birdopt1birdopt2In response, I created three brand concepts for Theresa to choose from. The first was a set of three little birds in primary brights with pattern fills to reflect fabric swatches. The second was more feminine and used the idea of birds sitting on a wire. I’m very happy to say that she loved all three, but the one she chose used softer bright colours and a simple line graphic of a little bird within a bigger bird. I used positive and negative space to create the icon, which was designed to tell the story that Theresa is a little bird, but being a mother (a bigger bird) is also a major factor in her business. Placing the typewriter text around the icon makes the logo neat but handmade in feel and allows it to sit as a colour on white, or as white on top of a colour. She chose it because it found the balance between quirky and modern.



She decided to have business cards and swing tags printed in all three colours so she could mix and match according to her mood. We also looked at packaging concepts that would be flexible enough to work for varying shapes and sizes of product.

bird3 bird7bird2
We worked on the idea of a plain white card wraparound sleeve, which could be embellished with an ink stamp. This was produced and ink pads in the three colours were sourced. The solid nature of the logo lends itself very well to the stamp, and gives a country style feel to what is otherwise a modern shape, suiting Theresa’s country setting.

bird5 bird6

Swing tags were created with the words “a little bird…” to which Theresa adds a label to continue the sentence, telling the story about how the product was made and the love that has gone into each creation.

This is one of my favourite projects of last year. Theresa was decisive and focused, which made the brief easy to follow, and I enjoyed the process of sketching birds and playing with the right type and colours, so I’m thrilled that she loves the results.


Books, Projects

Reviews, Reads and Resolutions

January 30, 2016

With over six months since my last Callie’s House blog post, I suppose you’d be forgiven for assuming that my gorgeous new venture had failed to lift off. Well, I’m pleased to say that quite the reverse happened in 2015, to the extent that my own communications fell to the bottom of an incredibly long list.

Callie & Co Design is, I am thrilled to say, thriving! I’m back on the blogging horse, and over the next few weeks, I will describe some of my projects and review the branding revolutions that I have been helping with. And I’m in the very lucky position of loving my work. My office is almost complete, and has proved to be a light, spacious and inspirational space in which to spend my days (and many, many evenings), so at some point, I will show it to you.

Last year, I met and became colleagues and friends with the amazing team from Handmade Canberra. Having nervously approached Julie Nichols by email (and after she had done extensive homework on me!) I was welcomed to the team and now run the blog, promotions, newsletter and online magazine which I have relished designing. Every fortnight, our little band of four meets in a Canberra café to sample incredible coffee (best. job. ever!) and make plans, then we go away and put them into action. Ideally combining my marketing, writing, branding and designing skills, I couldn’t be happier to be contributing to Handmade’s phenomenal success.

Working with the Handmade Team, and the lovely Tegan from Hustle&Scout, I had the pleasure of being involved in Canberra’s newest event, Oh Happy Day, an event for the discerning event planner. With dozens of stalls and a sit down gala dinner at the stunning National Portrait Gallery, this was a challenging but very rewarding and successful project for which I wrote the blog, put together the directory and magazine and generally helped out.

I was also fortunate enough to spend time freelancing for a wonderful, energetic and generous lady called Pamela Slocum. Her agency was in need of a part time account manager/graphic designer and happily, she decided that I was the person for the job. I have lost count of the number of brand identities that I designed for her last year, some of which I will share with you later on. We also collaborated on some very practical and beautiful websites, one of which is a case study I will recount in more detail. Sadly, Pamela has decided to close the agency, but is opening a new business in which she will conceptualise and write for her many clients. I am currently working on styling her own brand identity and couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it’s going – hopefully she will feel the same!

Wearing my Callie & Co Design hat, I have rebranded a handmade bag and accessories company and Blue Mountains ceramics studio. I have created flyers for an events company, a logo and website for a beauty salon and a funky new look for a juice bar. Soon to be launched, my latest project has been to brand a Canberra bean to bar handmade chocolate company. Jasper + Myrtle is a start up that will be launching at the next Handmade Market (it’s a small world!) with eight flavours of chocolate, for which I have designed the packaging. Working with Jasper + Myrtle’s enthusiastic owner has been a real highlight, and allowed me to exercise my creativity. And I got to taste the product – a very hard job!

While it had been my intention to write up and illustrate these projects here in Callie’s House and in the Callie & Co Design portfolio as soon as the year ended, the necessary Christmas break was spent catching up on sleep and family time (in Canberra and on the perfect South Coast), working on our not-quite-finished beautiful house and garden and reading. Reading a lot. Such a joy that I intend to indulge in a little more this year. Professionally, I have gained a great deal of inspiration from How to Style your Brand by inspirational creative director, Fiona Humberstone and personally, I have discovered and voraciously consumed the original Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman and the wonderful, quirky and totally engrossing Chronicles of St Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor. Thank you so much ladies for providing me with all those hours of escapism.

Now, back to work…

Garden, Projects

Green Dreams

February 28, 2015
Garden Mood

One of the highlights of my year when I lived in England was the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The perfect rectangles of paradise that are the show gardens are nothing but inspirational, and I was lucky enough to have a proper English garden of my own in which to put this inspiration into practice. No such luck here in Australia. Until now. I finally have my very own patch of, well, frankly it’s brown at the moment, but it’s a blank canvas onto which I will paint my ideas over the coming months and years. First task is clearing away the builders’ rubble and adding delicious topsoil, before laying irrigation and rolling out the emerald turf I’ve been dreaming about for most of the recently finished build.

And while Australian native plants are drought and frost tolerant (vital in Canberra) I’ve never really veered from my favourite Mediterranean plants in my vision for this patch. I’ve picked snow pears as my tree of choice, with sandstone pavers, off white walls and copper/rusted steel edging, so all that remains is the planting plan. This mood board represents my idea for a silver, green & purple scheme that will feature a mix of structured balls of green with the loose purple spires of salvia and lavender, russet and blue grasses and heavily scented herbs such as purple sage and rosemary.

Photos of progress will follow when there’s anything more than brown to show…

Branding, Colour, Projects

In the Mood

February 4, 2015

Here’s the mood board for a brochure I’m working on. The brand words are feminine, natural, contemporary and textural. This has led me on a search of relevant images (thanks to all the fabulous designers and photographers who constantly make the internet such a rich source of inspiration). The result is a combination of hand-finished, collaged and water coloured designs, big landscapes and soft contrasts with a small touch of industrial. The colour palette has organically stemmed from these images to include pastels that aren’t too powdery and moody greys with a strong dash of charcoal and coral to add substance.

Design, Lifestyle, Projects


January 28, 2015

Can you define yourself in four words? The English language is full of beautifully descriptive vocabulary, so there’s almost too much choice when you’re trying to sum yourself up. My words might be… DETERMINED. SPONTANEOUS. OPTIMISTIC. TASTEFUL. But catch me on a different day, and I might give you a different answer.

It’s different for a business. Finding these key words, sticking to them and using them as a mantra is important to establishing and growing the personality of your brand. When meeting a new client, one of the first things I do is ask this question, not of them, but of their business. What image do they want to give the world, what are the characteristics of their product, what is their message? It’s a challenging exercise, but once you’ve got your words, they not only form the foundation of your brand, but help to shape your identity as you grow.

Callie & Co is summed up by these ones… FRESH. FRIENDLY. VERSATILE. CREATIVE.

Perhaps your words are… SUBTLE. ELEGANT. HANDCRAFTED. INDIVIDUAL. Maybe… ETHEREAL. ORGANIC. LIGHTHEARTED. PRETTY. Or they could be… FOCUSED. TRADITIONAL. HONEST. SECURE. In any case, the words start to paint a picture of the personality of the business, and are one of my key tools in establishing the logo, colours, fonts and other visual tools.

I’ve had some fun creating and photographing these word tags, which are a great tool for mood boards. What are your words?



Projects, Stationery


January 10, 2015

I’ve been playing with some stationery ideas recently, and hope to get some of my ideas off the drawing board and into print by the end of the year. 2016 calendar, Christmas cards, invitations, greetings cards… It’s just a question of nailing down a few designs and actually doing it! In the meantime, here are some pics of a set I worked on last year. True to form, my endless boxes of “stuff” collected over many years include a lot of old royalty-free photocopies of architectural drawings and old calligraphy that I found at the Oxford library.

Black & white photocopies don’t inspire on their own, but the original purpose of getting these was to print them onto acetate and use an old overhead projector to project some words onto my bedroom wall and trace them, before painting them. This turned out quite well, so I made a collage of some of the images and stuck them onto a wallpaper frieze in my living room, painting them with old tea to age them, and highlighting some of the letters in gold pen, a bit like medieval illuminated manuscripts. I wonder whether I have any images of the finished products? I’ll post them if I find them…

Bringing them up to date, I made another collage in Photoshop and saturated them with three different colour-schemes. They became cards, writing paper, gift tags and envelopes and may yet make it into my stationery shop.