Launched: lululemon Journal
Development Resource Book Design
This project was one of the most important projects I’ve had so far.
It was about sharing knowledge.
It was about giving back.
It was about Legacy.
I started working for lululemon in 2009 and it was the place where I grew up. My goals always had a heavy focus on being an entrepreneur. I’ve always loved creating businesses and dreamt of working for myself. Because of this, I knew my time with lululemon was never permanent.
As my design business grew, I knew my role with lululemon was slowly coming to an end. In September 2018, I made the choice that the upcoming Christmas would be my last with the company.
With this decision, the notion of “legacy” came into focus. After so many years as part of the lululemon Victoria team, what was I going to leave behind? What could I give back? How could I share my knowledge?
Since I didn’t quite know when I would be leaving, I let those questions fall to the back of my mind which allowed them to percolate as I moved forward with my usual day to day tasks.
As part of this need for “legacy,” I took on a new role in the business: Store Business Lead (or SBL for short). Basically this role is an admin/ HR role. I’m a pretty organized kind of gal and found this role fit really well with my strengths. I felt by taking it on, I would be able to share the most knowledge in the shortest amount of time. Little did I know, this was only the beginning.
Taking on SBL lead me to creating what I consider my legacy: a 316 page "Development Journal."
This journal is probably my biggest point of pride out of everything I have created in the nearly 10 years I worked for lululemon.
Not only is it beautiful but it’s also FULL of the magic that makes lululemon so special. I feel beyond honored for the opportunity to create this stunning gift for the lululemon Victoria team.
It’s pretty freaking special to me.
What was the project all about?
When the idea of this project first got proposed it was intended to be a one stop shop for all our resources. This already existed in a digital form (lululemon has an internal website where #alltheresources hangout) but the feedback had been it’s hard to use and you need to know what you’re looking for.
Because of that, the goal of this learning journal was to give the team a starting point so they could do more research on the internal website themselves. Additionally, we wanted to give them another option for learning in case a journal was more their jam.
From that starting point, the project grew into a bit of a beautiful monster. Initially we expected 100-150 pages which gradually grew and grew until it finally was finished...at a whopping 316 pages.
So what does the journal look like?
A combination of lululemon internal resources, mixed with external resources we all loved, broken up by lots of extra space and pieces of the manifesto.
Every. Single. Step. of this project was a learning.
Side note: I actually had trouble breaking this down into loves and learnings because I actually loved so many of my learnings :-p
Since this was a type of project I’d never done before, I had no client process. No idea of what to do in what order. No idea how long things would take me. No idea about what getting a project like this printed looked like.
And the “no ideas” list goes on.
I waded through the waters of learning and made it happen but not without many challenges along the way.
So what were some of my biggest learnings?
1 | Always use the proper tools
Well my biggest learning was probably...Always use the proper tools. Long story short, I made a mistake that cost me about 40+ hours to fix. Stay tuned for a blog post all about what happened and why this simple mistake turned into my biggest design F-up yet.
2 | Communication
Big learning number two was communication. In life this is something I generally struggle with. This is a big part of why I have such a clear project process. It’s a tool that helps me communicate what’s in my head with my clients. Because this project didn’t have a clear project process and I was really learning as I went, my communication wasn’t as top knotch as I’d have liked it to have been.
3 | Setting up clear expectations
Learning number three was setting up clear expectations. I was beyond excited about the opportunity to take this project on. SO excited that I completely forgot to set up expectations. Again, not having that clear project process meant setting up expectations was really important, yet I completely forgot about it.
One expectation that was OH SO IMPORTANT that I missed was discussing what the store had budgeted hours wise to for this project.
Before I started, I did send a quote for how long I knew this project would take me. I also included a buffer. If you’ve done any design work, you know it’s necessary. However, this quote happened a couple months prior to actually starting the journal and was never talked about again. Also, the initial quote wasn’t necessarily well received and I believe they thought I could do it in less time. My initial quote was almost perfectly on target minus mistakes and with some hardcore hustleing.
Again, I repeat: I should have asked what kind of hours the store had budgeted. I then should have requoted the project scope based on that.
4 | Working hourly vs a flat rate
Learning number four was the struggle of working hourly vs a flat rate (what I usually do).
Normally my projects are all a flat rate. I love this because it gives me the autonomy to take whatever amount of time I need on a project. I find the stress of hours management really puts a damper on my creativity. Yes this can mean I make less on projects but overall I honestly don’t really care. Creating something beautiful is 100% my prerogative. My thought: If a project takes me less time, great I was efficient, if it takes me more, great I’m proud of my work. Side note: my normal offerings usually end up right on money hours wise. Again this is thanks to my project process. (Can you tell I like my project process ;-) )
This project was a little different because I completed it as a lululemon employee, not through my actual business. What this meant was it had to be charged in hours since I was making my lululemon wage vs. my design wage. This wasn’t the end of the world for one project but really reminded me why I don’t offer hourly projects in my business.
5 | Too much content
Learning number six was going down the content rabbit hole. Working for lululemon, you have access to SO MANY FREAKIN AWESOME RESOURCES.
This book was about giving the team a tool to access those resources in one easy, accessible place. Instead of picking and choosing the best of the best, I wanted to include #allthethings. This turned into a massive book, chalk full of content. Not a bad thing but I definitely could have saved hours if I hadn’t included so much content.
1 | Everyone's Reactions
My favourite part of this whole project was probably seeing everyone's reactions to the finished product.
I ended up being really sick when the journals started to get passed out and missed most of the reactions but from what I DID see, people were SO excited. I received numerous texts and messages, thanking me for this tool and telling me how beautiful of a job I did.
Secret time: When I’m feeling unsure about my work, I give these messages a look and feel so proud of what I created.
Since this was a style of project I had never done before, having it turn out so well and be so loved just made my heart BURST with love.
2 | The Finished Product
My second favourite part of this project was seeing my work in physical form.
Since I primarily design for web use, seeing my work in physical form was beyond special.
I’ll never forget going to the Metropol (our print shop) and seeing the proof for the first time. It was magical and I swear I almost cried. Of course being a proof of a 316 page book, there were some tweaks that needed to be made but overall I couldn’t believe what I had created.
Yes, I know this is probably what you’d expect my reaction to be but if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I knew it could go either way. Being a recovering perfectionist, I knew there was a strong possibility that I could be a little too nit-picky about my creation. Because of this I was nervous for the final product.
Well as it turns out, there was no need to be nervous because for the most part, the journal turned out just as I imagined it ♥
3 | All the learnings
My third fav part of this project was how much I learned.
I mentioned a few of my learnings from completing this project already but those are only the start.
The things I learnt creating this journal were countless and even more priceless. I will take these learnings with me as a move forward with my design career. I will continue to learn from them.
If that’s not pretty darn special, I don’t know what is.
4 | Working with Metropol
On that note, my fourth favourite part of this project was working with our print shop, Metropol.
I had never created a book for print before. The closest I came was digital style workbooks for clients. Spoiler alert. There is a big difference.
I was so so nervous about this. You know when you start a new job or business and certain things make your stomach turn? This was one of those things. And what does it come down to?
A fear of looking good. A fear of being vulnerable. A fear of being a beginner.
So I swallowed my fear and walked towards growth. And guess what? I learnt A LOT. All thanks to Metropol.
In the end, they not only created a gorgeous final product but also made me feel more comfortable in general to work with print shops in the future.
A huge shout out to Jamie at Metropol for being so patient with me. I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest clients to work with but you still gave us 110%.
5 | Learning InDesign
My fifth fav was the opportunity to work in InDesign.
Remember that comment I made above about using the proper tools? Well InDesign was that “proper tool” I should have been using from the beginning.
I started this project using Pages (yes fellow designers...I know) because I was worried about a) learning a new program for this project and b) passing it off when most people don’t have access to InDesign. I also didn’t have InDesign on my computer and it costs those big bucks (not really but that was the excuse I made) ;-).
Well long story short, when I finally bit the bullet and started working in InDesign instead of Pages, it was GAME CHANGING. Because I already knew how to use other Adobe products, the learning curve really wasn’t that bad and I was able to get a free trial so no expense. As for future editing, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I’m sure someone will have access to it and if not, the free trial is always an option.
InDesign is an excellent program that I may have never tried out if it hadn’t been for a project of this magnitude.
Now...I’m in LOVE.
How long did this project take?
For the most part I was the only one working on this project which meant that I had to do basically everything.
sourced and organized content.
wrote certain sections.
created the page layouts.
designed the format.
did the editing.
found the printer.
The list goes on.
As I am sure you’re guessing, doing the bulk of a project like this isn’t a speedy task.
In the end I think it took me about 120 hours (not including the hours of mistakes I made or the post project edits that needed to be done before officially handing off the project).
Was this what I expected to spend? Yes around that. I had originally expected about 100 hours for a shorter book so 120 for this size is a win in my books.
The hours spent on learning (aka making mistakes) and editing post print were a bit shocking (probably an additional 80 hours). Although that said, learning is growing and in my opinion that’s never a waste of time.
I did have some help from one of my managers as this project was her baby as much as mine. It was her idea.
So HUGE shout out to Megann: Thank you for being a great support and a constant source of feedback. Your thoughts, additions, and help were pivotal to the success of this project. I’m so grateful you trusted me with this brain child of yours and hope you were as thrilled as I was with how it turned out.
Give it a gander
To give you an in-depth view of this creation, I’ve put together a series of mockups for you to peruse. These pictures are obvi not real. Their purpose is to show you a fuller, more consistent look of the book over me trying to take a bunch of so-so pictures that don’t do it justice. It looks way nicer in person but at least you can get the idea.
This is also only a handful of the 316 pages (60 to be exact). There is a TON more but due to confidentially, most of the pages are for lemon’s eyes only (aka lululemon employees). Not to mention showing you that many pages in this form is a little crazy if you ask me ;-).
Final notes about this project
Everytime I look at my completed Development journal I smile.
I gave everything I had to this project. When it was done, I was physically, emotionally, creatively spent... and it was well worth it.
As you may have guessed from what I’ve written above, I have moved on from lululemon. You’ll be able to read more about my transition in an upcoming blog post but for now I want to leave it at this:
The opportunity to create something to leave behind is something I will forever be grateful for.
Whether it becomes a past memory, or gets updated every year, I hope this journal lives on it the store for years to come, inspiring future lemons to love working for this awesome company as much as I did.