There’s a hidden backstory behind the colorful Topknot logo and how it came to represent me that’s pretty interesting. Here’s how it happened.
Like many women who branch out on their own after working in a more formal setting (in my case, marketing in the film business and later, online business), I started out working with small businesses and entrepreneurial folks through word-of-mouth.
Word spread and people started asking if they could hire me — I’d literally have a casual conversation with someone in my favourite neighbourhood coffee shop and by the end, they’d ask if I could help them with their marketing.
This was fine for a while, but it all felt quite unofficial. (I didn’t even feel right charging for my time.)
I was fixated on the idea that to be legit I needed a proper website: a place where I could send people to gather basic information about me, my services, and my rates. A real marketing person would have a good logo and good branding, I told myself. So until I had all that figured out, I inadvertently put myself on a time-out.
At that time, I was going through a thing. It was a thing that broke me, and I was doing a lot of self-healing and figuring things out. Consequently, I disliked talking about work and fielding the “what do you do?” question in conversation. My inner world was like a plate of scrambled eggs.
Talking about my marketing career highlights felt like a no-win scenario: if I laid it on too thick it felt boastful, salesy, and not like me (plus I didn’t necessarily want to be doing more of those things going forward). But if I held back too much, I missed the mark and downplayed the highly valuable skills I bring (thus missing a chance to land a gig and move forward in life.)
I was uncomfortable because it wasn’t all that clear to me yet what I would be “doing” in a big-picture way. I certainly couldn’t sum it up in a single, punchy sentence. Plus I had two little kids, and they took up the lion’s share of my daily bandwidth. So I probably acted pretty awkwardly and vague in those conversations — at least I felt awkward because I wasn’t confident and free just to be myself! — and I hoped the person I was speaking to couldn’t tell.
What if I say the wrong thing? What if I’m boring them? What if someone asks me a super-specific marketing question that’s not in my wheelhouse, and I look like an idiot? #impostorsyndrome
What I really wanted was to skip ahead a few chapters and have the website done already.
Mostly because it would mean that by then, I’d have already figured out just the right tone and exactly what to say in the aforementioned awkward situations.
So I sat down and got to work. I set my sights on something really simple and basic -- a website just to say what I did and how to get in touch, and that’s it. No frills. Straight to the point.
I’m quite minimalist/uncomplicated in my tendencies toward clothes and home decor, so I figured that was an easy place to start visually. Though I can be quite a perfectionist when it comes to the work I deliver to others, when it comes to meeting my own needs I’m not generally fussy. For me, when something just does the bare-bones job and it’s “good enough”, I want to call it done and move on to something else on my very long list of to-do’s.
I turned to WiX (no affiliate link here - this is a true story and I’m not on their payroll!) and quickly chose a black-and-white minimalist template with no bells or whistles; basically the most sterile option with the least information possible about me. I finished and got it online within a day or two. (No logo yet - no time for that.)
I did notice that WiX was easier to work with than other website builders I’d used over the years, but still, "making an online presence" felt more like an obligation -- just another thing to get over with. A few lines over here “About Me” (shudder - the dreaded “what do you do” question), and some contact info over there. Also: why is it so easy for me to write excellent bios for other people, and mine weirds me out?!
Once it was live, I noticed that I felt nothing… not even a bit of relief from the long-nagging feeling (and all the pressure I felt) that I “have to have a website”.
In fact, my first thought was “I hope nobody sees this website.”
Can we just pause for a second and let that sink in!?
The marketing person is hoping that her website will fail at its only job? Facepalm.
It did nothing, and nobody visited it. (Primarily because I didn’t tell anyone it existed.) I launched it like a silent ninja. No fanfare. No party. Didn’t tell a soul.
Then, luckily for you and I -- and the direction of this story -- a few interesting things happened in quick succession:
While working on another project, I came across a stock graphic illustration of a woman made up of a whole bunch of different colorful facets. I might see hundreds of graphics on any given day - but for some reason, this one really jumped out at me. There was something about her that I was really drawn to, and I kept thinking about her.
Right around the same time, I kept coming across a phrase making its rounds on Instagram that perfectly summed up why I had been keeping a low profile and reinventing myself over the course of many months.
It was something along the lines of “it’s OK if you don’t recognize me anymore, because after I broke I put the pieces back together a little bit differently.”
It was so profoundly moving: all of a sudden I saw this wildly colourful woman who was made up of all these bright, broken shards that beautifully fit together, and at last it dawned on me... that woman is me!
I am not black-and-white and boring and no-frills. Not even at all.
Though I don’t ever gravitate toward rainbow colors or big geometric triangular shapes in any other area of life, somehow this felt more like me than I ever thought possible.
Suddenly the website took on a whole new personality... mine!
With time, as I helped more women I developed confidence to open up and describe in more detail what I do, what my personal approach is, how gratifying it is to work with women, what I can help them accomplish...
And the website became this beautiful container, a platform on which I can stand, use my voice, and... show all my true colors as it were.
The final detail was to include a topknot on this woman because as a mom and as a busy person in general, I am forever getting my hair out of my face and putting it up in a messy bun!
She is the perfect match to a now-colorful and lively website that feels much more authentic to me, works hard on my behalf, that I am proud to share out into the world. This paved the way toward the playful, colorful style I use across all my branding: my forms, printables, project deliverables, etc.
And it finally made me understand a new philosophy toward having a strong online presence: it’s not a thing you do once and then forget about it. It’s a living, breathing entity that evolves along with you as you grow and change.
It is a complete game-changer to work with WiX, a powerful tool that I have now mastered and teach others how to use. It’s easy (once you know how to use it), it's impressive, and it's powerful. This is in sharp contrast to past website platforms where, because I’m a business person and not a developer or a coder, I was forever on the learning curve, fixing endless problems, and always limited creatively.
In fact, it’s been such a game-changer, that I got other women excited about the possibilities too.
The process I went through over those few years -- it only occurred to me much later -- is the exact same process that I now lead other women through in a few weeks. What I do now is everything I wish I had available to me during that difficult period of my life. I hold people accountable to their dreams, hold their hand through the parts that worry them (online overwhelm) and they often find icky (the tech, the sales), and I help them find clarity where t