Koldo (my partner here and in life) and I always have some sort of side project going. Nova Donna is one such thing. Koldo also focuses on many types of creative projects which he talks about on his website. And we both love to do new projects around the house, decorate, and discover new zany cooking methods.

We both believe that side projects not just important, but vital. At our branding agency, we stay on our toes every day working with unique clients and taking different approaches to their needs. We have an intensive branding strategy process we’ve developed over the years, but it stays engaging and rewarding because the outcome is always different.

However, there’s also something amazing in having an interesting project on the side. It gives you the freedom to test our your own ideas, add your own constraints, and take a different or perhaps riskier approach than you might have if you were doing client work.

We’ve had quite a few side projects over the years that resulted in something interesting and some that didn’t have an outcome that we would have hoped for. However, each was satisfying because we were in charge of making all the decisions and that freedom changes things around.

Some of the side projects we’ve done together include:

  • Photography for clubs: Koldo started doing photo reports and publishing them for dance clubs in Spain. This turned into something more significant because many clubs started requesting and paying Koldo for these reports.
  • Graphic Design for clubs: Koldo started designing flyers for clubs and venues and this evolved into us starting our own design studio called Intuitive Designs. Who would have known?!
  • Analytics and Conversion Optimization: I started learning these fields in order to help clients make their websites more effective. Once I saw the value in it, I decided to get certified and started a consultancy specialized in these fields. I dedicated specifically to optimization and earned a reputation as one of the few prominent women in these fields, which I’m proud of.
  • Branding Strategy: As time went on, we started spotting consistent blind spots and holes in client’s overall strategy. We were focusing heavily on optimization and a large portion of our clients needed more work in more foundational-type stuff, like branding, business model development, and user experience. This need became bigger and more pressing in our eyes, so we shifted once again and are currently focusing totally on Branding and Identity Foundation and Strategy for our clients at ShiftFWD.
  • Notebooks: We’re big fans of paper notebooks and planners, even in this seemingly digital world. Both Koldo and I use notebooks and planners every day for basic day-to-day tasks, planning, and inspiration. We had so many different notebooks, that we decided to design a product that could house all of them. At the same time, I started learning how to do bookbinding and was already focusing on book design for clients. These things all evolved into Epokka along with a Kickstarter project to accompany it. We couldn’t reach funding for the Kickstarter project, but the good part is that we learned a lot from the experience and are still developing something new around it.
  • Nova Donna: This right here! Koldo and I have been talking many years about how we’d like to talk more about the issues that apply specifically to women, but in an empowering and positive way. We often say to one another, “What’s the point of talking, if you don’t do anything about it.”. So, this is our way of doing. Who knows how it’ll evolve!

The point I want to make here is that if you don’t try something new, you will never know where you might go with it. Life is full of little and funny occurrences that sometimes bring big changes in the strangest and most unexpected ways.

And even if the outcome isn’t what you hoped for, you can always be sure that something in you will have changed. You will have grown and you will have learned.

There’s nothing to lose. So, what new project are you going to start today?

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