Big Thinker Paper Dolls

Neil deGrasse Tyson

I was expressing how much I respect Neil deGrasse Tyson to my team this morning. I ended my admiration-rant in saying “I wish I had a Neil deGrasse Tyson doll!” which prompted Bekka to swiftly Google just that, and five minutes later I had a paper doll of Neil with two outfit options on my desk. I love the internet, so much.

Also available are Carl Sagan and Jane Goodall.

My SXSW Talk

Here’s my SXSW talk in which I speak on my path of becoming a designer in Switzerland, making the transition moving to New York and establishing my various businesses. I speak on my 11 rules and values I live by, both in my professional and personal life. In fact, I speak on the fact that I barely distinguish between the two and that my kids have been my biggest career catalysts. Enjoy!

Also, here’s a Recap Rap by Saul Paul.

SXSW Talk LiveStream Today

SXSW Keynote

I am currently in Austin, Texas, attending the massive SXSW conference. I have the honor to be be giving the Keynote for SXSW Interactive which will be live streamed: Tune in here for the live stream, at 2pm Austin time, 3pm New York time or 8pm Zurich time. Today, Sunday March 10th!

UPDATE: You can watch my recorded talk here.

A Neux TeuxDeux (Coming Soon)

(video by Matthijs Vlot)

In December of 2009, my Studiomates Cameron, Evan, and I launched a simple, designy to-do app called TeuxDeux. We built the app for ourselves, because we couldn’t find a to-do app that was as simple as a piece of paper and calendar-based. Many of our friends started asking us for accounts, so we decided to let anyone use it. For free. What we thought would be just used by a few friends has turned into a loyal following of over 300,000 users. We didn’t see that one coming.

We eventually hired someone to make an iPhone app, which we decided to sell for a one-time cost of $2.99 to make up for some of our expenses.

Our Twitter account and our inbox have been getting passionate user feedback for the past 4 years. It seems like we managed to make something people really, really love. That’s great, but we came to realize that in order for us to put resources into maintaining and improving TeuxDeux, something had to change.

Success is more expensive than we can afford, but we want to keep TeuxDeux around. It has become an essential tool that we use every day. So, we have decided to start charging a subscription fee to use TeuxDeux. We realize that some of you might not be happy to hear that. And, we realize we might lose some users. We want to make sure our die-hard fans that rely on us every day will always be able to count on us to keep the lights on.

We have seen too many startups close shop or get acquired (and shut down their product). We do not want to see any of this happen to TeuxDeux. We love the app too much.

Over the past few months, we have invested in a new TeuxDeux, rebuilt from the ground up by our incredible Studiomate Jonnie Hallman. The decision to charge a small fee gave us the confidence to do this. If you’re a passionate user, you will be incredibly excited about what’s ahead. Sit tight for more details on the new app, but for now, please know, that our decision to move TeuxDeux to a paid model comes from the best of intentions.

We will be offering a free 3-month trial, so you can see if the new version is worth it. If you’re not convinced after 3 months, we’re gonna let you download all of your data, so you won’t lose anything by giving us a chance. Oh, and if you bought the iPhone app, we’re gonna give you a free 6-month trial as thanks.

Desk Swap #1

desk swap with Jesse Hertzberg

I am doing an experiment this year: One day a month I will swap desks with someone in NYC. Why? I am fascinated by how other work environments are set up and feel. And what better way to get a glimpse of another office than spending a day?

That’s exactly what I am doing today! Jesse Hertzberg, COO of Squarespace was game and is currently spending the day at my desk in Studiomates. From what I can tell, he seems to have a good time!

And lucky me, I am enjoying my day at the beautiful Squarespace office in Soho. Their space is all kinds of amazing, I have three (!) monitors at my disposal and an axe on my desk. I just enjoyed delicious catered lunch (envious), chatted with lovely folks and am now sitting on an ErgoErgo, getting work done.

Experiment round #1 can be filed as “successful”!

I can’t wait to find myself another desk for March! Any suggestions who I should swap with? Email me desk(at) or leave a comment below.

The Right Moment

Today’s a big day: 3 years ago my son Tilo was born. Some of you might know of his epic, silent melt downs which I have been documenting over at

A child’s birthday is always moving for a parent but his birthday coincides with a bold career move: It’s the day I started saying no to clients and went on a one year client sabbatical. Three years in, I can safely say the sabbatical has been extended indefinitely.

By having more time to focus on my own products, I have been able to grow CreativeMornings, launch Tattly and am about to relaunch TeuxDeux. I am very fortunate and grateful for where the last 3 years have led me.

And looking back, it is obvious that my kids have been my biggest career catalysts. Why? During both pregnancies I analyzed where I was in my life, what I still wanted to achieve and what was keeping me from going after my goals. There’s no other moment in life that makes you really look at who you are, and where you are in life, like the day you realize you are about to become a parent.

Don’t wait for the ‘right moment’ to start that company, or take that trip. The right moment is now.

Don’t wait until you get pregnant.

Happy Birthday Tilo!

Maddie on my Desk

Do you know about Maddie On Things, the dog from the internet? Well, she just visited Studiomates and took the opportunity to stand on my desk. My year has been made. I don’t think I have ever been this excited about a studio visit.

And if you are as big of a Maddie fan as I am, you might want to know that she has a book coming out. I just pre-ordered my copy. Congrats to Theron Humphrey, Maddie’s owner, for starting the Maddie phenomenon.

Talk about a cool dog and dog owner power house.

No Posts Today

(Illustration by Dr.Seuss, found here)

Sorry folks, but due to some massive uber storm that’s currently approaching NYC I won’t be able to feed the blog today and most probably tomorrow. I am busy entertaining the kids inside, currently making them believe that cleaning the house is *so much fun*.

UPDATE: So, this was all a bit humbling. My family is fine, and we are lucky enough to have electricity. Schools are closed and the subways are still flooded. My office is in the evacuation zone and as of tonight was still under lockdown. Pardon the lack of posts while I recover from all of this.

(image via Tim)

I met Kevin Clash

“If everybody else your age is doing something very different than what you’re doing, there’s always going to be someone saying to you you might not succeed with it, you might not make any money with that… there’s always going to be some type of obstacle in the way. All of those things will go away if you really focus on what makes you happy.”
― Kevin Clash

Anyone who has ever seen me speak, knows that I believe that you need to do something you truly love. Life is too short to go into a career that doesn’t make you happy, that fuels your passion and makes you want to get up every morning in excitement.

There is one person that personifies this personal rule of mine; Kevin Clash, the person that brought Sesame Street’s Elmo to life.

If you haven’t seen his documentary do yourself a favor and watch it. (It’s on Netflix) At 10 years old Kevin knew he wanted to be a puppeteer and he followed his dream, relentlessly, with the support of his parents. No documentary has ever touched me as much as Being Elmo. (Have a box of tissues next to you)

Yesterday, thanks to Louis Mitchell, I got to visit the set of Sesame Street and watch a taping.


I can’t remember when I last was this excited and giddy. My heart started racing when I spotted Kevin Clash on set. And when Louis introduced me to Kevin, I was speechless, just smiling ear to ear. Here’s proof:

Now my dream is to have Kevin speak at a CreativeMornings.

(And yes, I live a charmed life.)

On Big Brands and Twitter

I rarely customer-support-frustration-tweet. But when I do, it usually means I have reached a point of serious customer un-support.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned with selling a product, it’s that companies need to take social media channels like Twitter seriously. It’s part of today’s customer support landscape. And I am not just talking about unhappy customers reaching out, also the happy ones. They both want to be heard.

There’s so much goodwill you can build up by simply *listening* and showing that you care. So, I am wondering, why does a brand like KitchenAid even have a Twitter channel if they keep ignoring tweet one, two and three?

This is a customer support fail of epic proportion. And if you knew the customer un-service G and I experienced with our freezer over the past week, and the reason why I even considered reaching out via Twitter, you would pull your hair out too.

So, please, if you care about your brand, pay attention to what your customers say on online. Or don’t have a Twitter/Facebook account to begin with.

And I hope I’ll eventually I’ll find out why I have snow in my freezer.

UPDATE: Kitchen Aid has not responded to any of my tweets or this blog post. It’s simply baffling. But the Financial Times has.

UPDATE 2: Two days after the Financial Times Article came out I heard back on Twitter. We were asked to email them our problem. Then a phone call happened. Everything was a big dose of ‘meh’. I spare you the details. I just say so much: Think twice if you’re considering buying a Kitchen Aid refrigerator.

Tattly = 1 | Things I’ve Learned

Today’s a big day! Tattly, my designy temporary tattoo business, is turning one!

In the past year, we’ve shipped to over 90 countries, had over 15k orders, went from 15 designs a year ago to over 225 today, became best friends with Uline and have bought over 60k postal stamps.

I’d like to take this occasion and share a few things I learned along the way:

1. Never hesitate to challenge a status quo

Temporary tattoos have been around forever. I didn’t invent anything new, but, I was able to put a new spin on it by having professional artists create the designs and making sure that they are produced in the US with the highest quality standards. I admit, I never expected the success we’re having, but now, looking back, it actually makes total sense.

Never hesitate to challenge a status quo of a product or service that already exists. Put your own spin on it, stamp it with your personality and you might redefine an entire industry.

2. Don’t outsource things you care about

In preparation of launching Tattly, we looked into fullfilment centers, thinking that’s not something we should handle ourselves.

But we also knew exactly how we wanted the envelopes to look and feel. It was important to us that a customer would get excited from the minute they spot our envelope in their mailbox. We wanted to make sure that they felt as our tattoos were packaged and shipped with a lot of care.

We picked thick kraft envelopes which we decorate with a custom Tattly address stamp, a nicely designed address label and lots and lots of real stamps.

We realize that putting multiple stamps on an envelope is time consuming and we’d be much more efficient printing a digital stamp. But, let’s be honest, that doesn’t look pretty. Yes, we go the extra mile and it pays off!

Every day we have lots of folks tweeting images of their Tattly envelopes! Tattly is living proof that people appreciate the extra care that goes in. And I don’t think a fully automated fulfillment center would be able to replicate the same feel.

But, of course, on the same token, there are things that I was more than happy to outsource because they are simply not of our expertise. I immediately hired an accountant to make sure sales tax and all that jazz is professionally taken care of and not keeping me up at night. And we made sure we were using a e-commerce platform that helps us run our shop smoothly, in our case, we chose to go with Shopify. And, of course, I got business insurance, right form the start.

3. Don’t be shy. Ask for advice.

Two days after we launched Tattly we got a wholesale catalog inquiry from a very prestigious museum store. It didn’t occur to me that stores might actually reach out to me to sell Tattly. (duh!)

I started reaching to friends that have gone through a smimilar e-commerce experience and asked for advice.

I am incredibly grateful for conversations I had with Raul Gutierrez who helped launch 20×200 and Jim Coudal, force behind Field Notes.

They both were extremely generous in sharing insights, things they’ve learned starting their businesses.

People are open to share and help you get started. Just ask!

4. Grow a thick skin + hustle

My advice to anyone launching a product or service, that is welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm; get ready for copy cats. We have come across a few stores that are trying to copy our idea, one by one. Our response? Hustle! We are and will stay ahead of them.

5. Prepare for success

I admit, I wasn’t prepared for the success. Luckily I was able to scale up very quickly and keep up with demand, which probably comes with the nature of the temporary tattoo business. This might not have been possible if I sold something with a much longer product cycle.

So, ask yourself, what if I get a ton of orders within the first few weeks? Can my business scale? Do I have a plan on how I will do that? Am I building my business on a system that will allow me to grow?

6. Being nice is the only option

This rule applies to every aspect of your business. Employees, vendors, wholesalers and of course, customer support. Be kind, generous and show that you care. You’re just starting out, so you’ll make mistakes. But when you’re kind and generous they’ll forgive you and come back.

7. Your team is everything

This past year, would not have been possible without my truly *amazing* team (pictured below). They are young. They are smart. They are fun and most of all, they are not afraid to work hard. Please meet team Tattly:

From left to right: Mary, Rusty, Julia, Yoko, Bekka, (moi) and Jen.

To celebrate our 1 year birthday, all Tattlys are 50% off from today until end of day sunday. (Our first sale ever!) Just use the discount code “1YEAROLD” during check out.

And, to celebrate we are offering an Everything Pack with 242 designs, a homage to last year’s everything set that held an adorable 15 designs. It comes in a limited edition pouch, with a design by Arianna Orland. There’s only a 100, so grab one before this collector’s item is history!

Happy Tattly Birthday everyone!

Thanks to our fab models Carly, Kevin and Yoko.

TYPO SF: The Importance of Side Projects

I had the huge honor to kick off the TYPO conference in San Francisco a few weeks back, and this is my talk. I am speaking on the importance of taking your side projects seriously and share 8 lessons I am going to teach my children.

Other TYPO SF videos currently available are by Mike Monteiro and Joshua Davis.

TYPO conferences take place in Berlin, London and San Francisco. I highly recommend attending one.


Last night I came home and found this note on my daughter’s door:

By the way it reads: Tilo is not allowed to my room!

I couldn’t help but giggle. Too bad her little brother Tilo is only two and can’t read yet. I just can’t get over the eyebrows! File this under #parentinggem

This Made My Day

This email makes me happy. Had to share it. Building things that have an impact on other people’s lives = so so powerful and inspiring. What can I build next?

It’s Hard Being Two

My son is two. And let me tell you, it’s rough being two. Documented with this tumblr.

Explaining Twitter to Swiss TV

Here’s a link to an interview that Swiss TV did with me a few weeks ago about Twitter. Part of it aired on 10vor10 last night. So, if ever you wanted to hear me speak Swiss-German, here’s your chance.

The Great Discontent

photo by Stefan Falke for

I had the honor to chat with Ryan and Tina Essmaker of The Great Discontent, a journal focusing on creativity, risk, and what connects us as artists.

Our conversation is currently featured on their lovely site. Such an honor!

Also, make sure to check out these previous conversations with Dan Mall, Lisa Congdon, Phil Coffman, Mandy Brown, Kyle Steed, Chris Glass and Dan Rubin.

Swiss Army

My team, aka Swiss Army, stopped by my place yesterday and I couldn’t help but snap this photo all of them lined up on my couch. From left to right: Bekka Palmer (Enforcerer of Orders at Tattly), Yoko Ohama (Photoshop Zen at Tattly), Kevin Huynh (CreativeMornings Breakfast Lecture Series Specialist) and Rusty Meadows (Tattly Businessman). I can’t tell you enough how wonderful my team is. They hustle and have fun while doing so!

I posted the above photo on Instagram and Twitter and within minutes I was inundated with questions about the coffee table. So, I figured I might just post it here: It’s the OFFI Scando Table and I got it at Design Public.


YES!!!! Amit Gupta found a 10/10 matched bone marrow donor. I am beyond myself. I am *so* happy and relieved!

While the bone marrow transplant is anything but a walk in the park there is this huge giant rainbow of hope that he will come out of all of this completely fine!

Yay for Amit! Yay for the internets!


Mailchimp’s latest app, TinyLetter, makes it ridiculously easy to start your own mailing list and email newsletter. It’s a matter of minutes and you’re set to go. Pick a username and boom, you have your sign-up-page ready.

Mailchmp is fantastic service for maintaining business newsletters, but has too many bells and whistles for an individual that just wants to maintain a simple mailing list and send text email newsletter. That’s exactly what TinyLetter does best.

As Ben Chestnut, CEO of Mailchimp puts it: “You could think of TinyLetter as a “MailChimp Lite.” A more directionally accurate analogy would be, “Gmail on steroids.”

Read more about TinyLetter in this blog post.

Interested? Give TinyLetter a try yourself or subscribe to mine at:

The Power of Side Projects and Eccentric Aunts

The Power of Side Projects and Eccentric Aunts is the title of a talk I gave at FOWD New York in November of 2011. The talk is mostly about lessons I want to teach my kids, hoping that one day, they will be at a place in their lives where they are happy with the decisions they’ve made and most of all, love what they do.

If you’re interested in attending and upcoming event by the same folks of FOWD, you might want to look into Future InSights Live happening in Las Vegas in the end of April. They have some mighty fine speakers lined up. If you’re quick, you might be able to take advantage of the early bird special.

Happy My Birthday To You.

(photo from Girl Walk // All Day)

Today’s my birthday. Yay! I received the world’s most fantastic birthday present on 11/11/11 from my lovely friend Jessi Arrington. On that day, Jessi spoke at CreativeMornings/NewYork and ended her talk with a birthday rainbow parade. As an early birthday gift, she gave me the honor to lead the parade. (see above) And now, today is my birthday and I am looking at those photos with a giant smile on my face.

Happy my (rainbow) birthday to you!

Medicine Ice Lollipop

Our daughter is having a fever and is refusing to take her medicine. So, last night, I pulled a parenting-mcgyver and created a medicine-ice-lollipop. I am happy to report that it totally worked!

Next time I’ll add some natural food coloring to make it more look like an actual lollipop. In case you’re wondering what I used for the mold, it’s a Nespresso capsule. Is there such a thing as a lollipop mold? (Must ask Google…)

UPDATE: Lollipop molds exist! YES!

new: swissmiss shop

Look, I *just* launched a teeny tiny swissmiss shop. See that that ‘store tab’ up there?

A few months ago I had the idea of launching a store with limited edition products by designers I admire. And here we are. The plan is to keep it small and add a product a month, maybe two. The current products include:

Mobile Homes by Ben Light
Bookbow by Paul Octavious
3D Boy by Oliver Jeffers
Raven by Mark Weaver
FieldNotes Pack by Tattly

Visit the swissmiss shop.

Hope you like the selection! Waving from Brooklyn, with an e-commerce smile on my face!