It really came out of a culmination of three things: I think the world needs more modern, sophisticated design in it. I absolutely love branding - I get such a kick out of looking at a business and it’s direction as a whole, finding what makes it unique, and then crafting all the pieces to form a high-quality, cohesive brand. And I really have a passion for helping women start and/or grow their businesses.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
It’s been a bit of a twisty road, that’s for sure. When I finished high school, I actually wanted to be a veterinarian, but fate had other plans for me when I took a photography class at our local junior college. I immediately fell in love, changed my major, and ended up graduating with a BFA in photography.
During college I worked as a food photographer, shooting wonderful restaurants all over San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. And while I loved doing that (and still do), I ended up taking a full-time job as a junior designer / photographer for a health club company, and during those eighteen months I managed to teach myself design and hone my skills, all on the job, despite only taking one web design class in college. Needless to say, the design bug bit me, too, and I ended up becoming an in-house “designer” for multiple companies throughout the Bay Area and Austin. I say “designer” because my actual job description varied at any given moment from graphic designer, senior designer, art director, creative director, editorial designer, photographer, social media designer, production designer, web designer, and email designer. Sometimes all at once. WHEW.
Once we realized we were moving from Austin to Portland, I decided to break free from the cubicle and open up Studio Sara Kraus, to really focus on what I loved doing most: branding.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
There’s this sweet spot, I think, where you can craft a modern design, but still make it classic, as well. It’s finding that balance so that your design is relevant now, but won’t look outdated in five, ten years. That’s the spot where, ideally, I like to live, but I think that’s something that other designers struggle with recognizing.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Currently, I’m doing some web and packaging design for an ongoing client, and I just launched my first collection of Brand Starters. Basically, I’m trying to make great branding more accessible, so you can pick from a selection pre-made designs that I’ve created, and then have them customized and emailed to you. It’s less expensive and less time consuming than a bespoke branding suite, and while I still prefer to work with clients one-on-one, I do think there’s a gap in the market for it. I say it’s like shopping for shoes online, but better.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
My style is definitely more on the modern side, a bit minimalist, with a hint of edginess. I really like to challenge the status quo where I can, but in a way that’s still totally elegant.
I recently finished up a branding concept for a non-profit theater group, and while the project eventually fell through, I still love how it turned out.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
I really wish I had more time for fine art photography, but I realize that in this season of my life, design is taking the spotlight, and I’m okay with that.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
The bane of every business owner’s existence - growth and expansion. That includes bringing on a steady stream of clients, revamping my studio space, and pinning down all those ideas I have floating around in my head constantly.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Honestly, if you could just go to the grocery store for me or fold my laundry, I’d love you forever.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
I wish I could have told myself 10, 15 years ago to stop caring what people thought of me, to have more patience, and to trust my intuition more - it’s never steered me wrong.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Marketing has always been fascinating to me, and while I understand the principles, I’d love more insight on actually implementing strategies without feeling so damn sleazy about it. Also, what’s super interesting to me is social media saturation, and what that means for both advertisers and consumers in the future.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I’d love to do more continual collaboration and ongoing brand development. After working in-house, as well as freelancing, for companies of all shapes, sizes, and mindsets, I’ve become a Jane-of-all-trades and can absolutely be a go-to resource for the right clients. But, of course, I’d be happy with an endless supply of branding clients as well!
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
Working with someone who’s willing to look beyond what everyone else is doing, to move past current trends, and push into something that’s modern, yet still timeless (like I mentioned above). Having a mutual trust and respect is paramount, and bonus points if they’re a women-owned business trying to make a difference in this crazy, crazy world. I love to lift others up, push them just outside their comfort zone, and open their eyes to how much influence design and aesthetics really have.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
I really prefer to take the time to get to know your business and your project before I estimate a fee, whether it’s a flat fee or hourly, because every client has different needs and different budgets. However, I do have a few branding packages available for the sake of decision fatigue, and a standard hourly rate of $120. If you need a specific quote on something, just reach out and I’d be happy to chat with you about it!
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Email is usually the best way to get in touch with me. But be prepared to answer questions like: “If your brand was a cocktail, what would it be?” (Mine’s a dirty martini). Or, if you’re lucky, you might get, “If your brand were an outfit, what would it be?” (Mine wears dark wash jeans with structured blouse, gold jewelry, and a smokey eye, obviously).
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
When everyone goes right, go left.
This member profile was originally published in July 2017.