11 years of The Darling Tree – Part 1

A not-so-brief history of my business, and things I've discovered along the way.

The Darling Tree has been around for 11 years! Wow. When I created this business I could never have imagined all the different offerings and opportunities that would come to be created under this magical umbrella. I thought it would be fun to share with you how the business has evolved over the years.

Part 1 is more of a visual journey of the designs, art and products that I’ve created. In Part 2, coming soon, I will be sharing more of my personal thoughts around running my business and what I’ve discovered along the way.

I really do hope you enjoy the throwback to my various past business and internet adventures.

2008 − 2011 ~ The client years

The Darling Tree began as a graphic design business in 2008. I had been working for another web design company for a few years and felt like I would be better at more creative design work than what I was doing working with more corporate businesses. After a few months of freelancing on the side, I had built up a client base that allowed me to go out on my own fulltime.

During the next few years, I worked with some incredibly talented people and businesses, many of which were in creative fields themselves. This was also the peak of blogging, and I loved being able to do some really fun design work for blog designs. This was my first website for the business!

Of course I launched my own design blog! It was 2010 and I had to get in on the fun. I named it August Empress. It was amazing being able to share creative work, ideas and artists I loved. I’m still obsessed with the header illustration I had commissioned by artist Honor Bowden. Aside from doing client work, running this blog was how I started growing an audience and becoming online friends with other bloggers.

2012 ~ My first e-course

After designing so many blogs for clients, and a couple of years of running my own, I decided to create an online course about it! It was called Your Darling Blog and was designed to help people create their own blog designs. This was in the early days of people talking about creating passive income and I saw a need for providing this info which wasn’t really available elsewhere.

I remember when I first launched the course with 25 spots, and it sold out on the first day. I thought that was the best thing ever! While I was creating all the content, however, some personal things happened which meant I was burning the candle at both ends and working way too hard which I’ll share more about in Part 2.  I ran the course a few times over the next year or so, with an updated design and website later down the track.

2013 ~ Coming back to art

When it came to client work, this was a year that I really wanted to be clear with who I wanted to work with and what I wanted to work on. I pulled back a lot of web development. My design style was very feminine with a lot of illustrative and fine details. The projects that I worked on were so well suited to me that the process and experience of working on them were really enjoyable.As the year went on, I knew I had to find other creative activities outside of client design work. I was beginning to feel that need to express myself and found my way back to art. Even though my work was creative, purely making art for myself was just the thing I needed. I had signed up to Flora Bowley’s Bloom True e-course and fell back in love with painting.

This led to using art as a mindful and spiritual practice, and after a few months, I decided to create a new blog called Maps to Herself. This was a beautiful space for me to share artworks with a deeper meaning and things I was learning about myself.

2014 ~ The pattern period

Early in the year I visited Bali for the first time, as part of Flora Bowley’s painting retreat. This opened up my eyes to the possible opportunities there are in creating an art community as well as making an income from your art. This was a really fun period of creating more bold art and patterns. I also updated my website as I wanted to bring in projects that aligned with this direction also.

I was beginning to play around with art on products, including prints, textiles, wood, and even yoga mats. At this point I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go and chose to explore a few different areas like licensing, collaborations and limited editions.

2015 ~ Expanding products

This was also a year of exploring new products including leggings and metallic tats which I loved so much. I also had my first foray into working on some oracle cards designs, initially for personal use. In my design work and illustrations, you can certainly see more and more sacred geometry and spiritually based artwork coming through. 

It had now been a few years since my first e-course, and I had an idea for a new course to help other designers run their design businesses in alignment with who they are, the clients they want and projects they dream about. Flowing and Thriving was launched and had a really great response.

A few months later came the Unicorn Project, a fun 30-day email series for people to focus on their dream project or idea which they wanted to bring to life.

2016 ~ Sharing art practice

Another new website! My design was really moving towards the more magical, ethereal aesthetic particularly with digital collage and illustration (and more purples hehe). I was beginning to work on my first oracle deck and similar products, and I wanted the website to reflect this new direction.

During the year I created two new intuitive art online workshops, Amulet and Inspirit. This was the first time I had created videos for an e-course with a completely different type of content. It really did push my comfort zone, but it was absolutely worth it to help others create art while setting intentions and creating from a place of connecting with your intuition.

2017 ~ A deck is born

Absolutely this was one of my favourite things to create and launch. After almost a year of work, the Inner Star Oracle was finally ready to launch through Kickstarter. If I ever needed a sign that I was on the right path, this was clearly it. The Kickstarter reached the initial funding goal in 12 hours, and the whole campaign absolutely blew me away.

2018 ~ A slower pace

During 2018, I felt a need to take things a little more slowly, choosing to spend time resting and reseting. There were a couple of small video art classes contributed to larger creative courses run by others, as well as finding time to explore my own personal art and design style.

Later in the year I bought an iPad and iPencil so that I would be able to play with the Procreate app. It’s incredible and has become an important tool in many of my creative projects now. I love drawing and sketching with it.

2019 ~ Looking ahead

The year started with a new website design, after three years since the previous one. It’s the version you are looking at now! This time around I wanted to go a little more refined but still keeping with a magical energy. And I also wanted to bring in an Aussie flavour, in particular, some Australia flora.

A couple of months after launching, I was off to Tulum on an art brand retreat. This time to focus on the overall vision of the business has slowly been percolating in the months since. I knew that I wanted to continue creating products, while also exploring the publishing world a little more.

So far I’ve brought out new card altars, the perfect companion to your oracle and tarot decks, and a new calendar for 2020. Also in the works are a new ecourse for those who want to create their own decks, and a brand new deck!

That’s the whole rundown of what I got up to in 11 years of services, products and offerings! Check back in soon for Part 2.

P.S. No, I didn’t pull out all my own external hard drives to find my old website designs. There’s a great website called Wayback Machine, which is basically an archive of the internet if you can believe it. I don’t know how they do it, but that’s what I used to quickly create this timeline of designs.

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