Member Stories: Emily Smart

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Emily Smart was our very first member at The Treasury. Half of the duo behind Toast Design Studio, she’s not only designed our logo and created our website, Emily and her business partner have been instrumental in getting this coworking community off the ground. Below she shares about her journey to entrepreneurship and gives a glimpse into how she gets it all done.

Emily and her business partner will be giving a talk on branding basics at The Treasury later this month. Get your ticket!

Tell us in a few sentences what you do.
I am the co-owner and a designer at Toast Design Studio. We create branded identities and design solutions for passionate entrepreneurs and community-focused organizations. Between my business partner and myself, we both specialize in branding, while Tiffany usually takes the lead on print projects and I lead on digital projects.

What practices do you put into place to be most productive?
Ahhh so many. Keeping a planner and notebook and listening to music are probably my main productivity musts though!

I’ve always been a huge fan of a planner and a notebook, and would live in utter chaos without them. I’ve also recently been experimenting with the Pomodoro technique to help me focus when I’m juggling multiple projects and tasks at once. It really helps to break things into manageable chunks of time and focus.

Music is my other major key to productivity. When I’m designing, I like to listen to upbeat tunes that I can sing along with and get into. When I’m developing content, writing grants, or need major focus, I tend to listen to instrumental or orchestral music. However, a few years ago, I actually really got into k-pop (Korean pop music), which married both music styles — the songs are upbeat, but since I don’t speak Korean, I don’t find it distracting when I’m writing!

What tools (digital or otherwise) do you find the most useful?
I tend to like physical, paper products and handwrite most of my planner and notes, however in the past year, my business partner has been successfully converting me to digital. Our lives are so much easier with platforms like Slack, Asana, and iCal. And of course, the Adobe Creative Suite is integral to our business as designers!

Can you think of a failure you've experienced and what you learned from it?
The first job I worked right out of college was an utter disaster. I worked at a little boutique design studio in Fort Worth, and after picking up my life and moving out there totally on my own, it became apparent a couple of months in that it wasn’t the right fit. I’ve never been one to give up on things though, and toughed it out for six months before everything came to a head and we parted ways. Even though I had been miserable, I still felt like a total failure afterward. Ultimately with the perspective of time, I realized that I learned a ton about interpersonal dynamics as a professional and working on a team and technically-speaking I learned a lot about web design, plus I left with new friends and my sweet dog Charlie (whom I adopted from the City of Fort Worth). The whole experience reaffirmed my belief that everything happens for a reason, and taught me that even in the toughest of times it’s possible to look on the bright side of things.

What is your favorite book and/or podcast at the moment?
Pride and Prejudice will always be my favorite book, but at the moment I’ve started “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi and I’m loving it so far! It’s definitely a young adult book, but you can’t have serious reads all the time.

My favorite podcasts at the moment are “Armchair Expert” hosted by Dax Shepherd and “Tunes/Toons” a local podcast hosted by my friend Harold Storey! I tend to favor interview-style podcasts that are more conversational. I also like listening to podcasts outside of my industry/entrepreneurship because I feel like it can be just as important to grow your knowledge as a whole and apply it to your craft.

Have there been any hindrances to your work that The Treasury has solved for you?
The ability to focus! Even with a defined studio space in my house, it can be a struggle to really focus between clutter, household chores, the dog staring at me (he is very needy) and my husband also working out of the house. When I’m at The Treasury, I feel like three hours of work can be equal to the productivity of five or six hours of work in my house.