Can you believe we’re standing a full two feet and a week through 2013′s doorway?! How did this happen already!? BAH! Last year was an exciting blur and I suddenly have the feverish need to lasso the present before it gets away from me. I’m talking Thin Lizzy power ballad style….

AKA: Forget resolutions – it’s time to hustle. Hard…like a cowboy?

This June I’ll be speaking in Austin TX at the BlogHer Food Conference about how to turn a blog into a business. Which, I know, sounds like a lofty and slightly inconceivable goal from the solitary of our couches…but hear me out! Accomplishing any goal is no sweat once you hone in the right mind set, write down your game plan, tackle it with organization and the fierce  confidence/professionalism you know is living in ya’.

A good power jacket, knock out booties or a knuckle intensive cocktail ring never hurt a gal (or guy) either – at least, I like to wear a little flash dance in a pitch meeting, or  even just while emailing…don’t judge. Whatever works for you, think of it like your success coat of armor.

While planing to  jump start this New Year / New Hustle Initiative, there was one person who immediately came to mind. Andrew Gibbs is the founder of the successful (ahem, #1) packaging design blog /turned national touring conference  – The Dieline. If there is anyone who knows what it’s like to transform a hobby into a full time job, has intense passion and professionalism to do so and handles their business in the most graceful manor   – it’s this fine young man.

He is a talent unafraid to share success with great openness and encouragement…sure he also happens to focus on an industry I was a slave to for over a decade. One I still have great enthusiasm and lust for: packaging design. But he is the REAL DEAL. One to keep an eye on as it were…

I got the chance to ask Andrew a few questions after the most recent Dieline Forum and I’m quite certain it’s useful advise worthy of any business/blog or new year endeavor you’re looking to break ground on this year.

 2013 is going to be special – let’s ride!

1. What was the turning point that made you want to start a blog about packaging?
I was fresh out of design school with my very first job designing packaging. The company I worked for, a custom gift and novelty product company required so many new products each week, I needed some fresh packaging inspiration. I started looking online for an inspirational package design website, and there was nothing! I couldn’t believe it. That was the turning point, and I started The Dieline a few days later.
2. Do you remember the first product you posted? What was it and how did it stand out?
The very first post on The Dieline was a Studio Spotlight featuring the work of Louise Fili, famed NY designer back in January 2007. Her work was always been an inspiration to me, the quality, the craft, the beauty, it was only fitting to start off The Dieline with a spotlight on her packaging.
Since that post, The Dieline began. I never had any idea what it would turn in to. Fast forward 5 years, I have had the pleasure of not only befriending Louise, but she even spoke at one my last The Dieline Conferences. How wild is that?


3. What advise do you have for people who want to turn their passion into an online destination?
Just start somewhere, and don’t be discouraged. Start with you passion, and find your voice. Don’t be a perfectionist. Nothing will ever be perfect. Present yourself as bigger than you really are. Make yourself look like, and sound like an authority in your area of expertise, and before you know it you will be.

4. When did you realize that The Dieline could be more than just a website? How did you get started with the event and educational side of your busine
I think I realized that The Dieline was more than just a website when I saw a community begin to form, and really be passionate about package design. The first 2 years of The Dieline, it was essentially non-profit. It was never started to be a business, it was started to be a resource for other package designers like me.
 After the first couple years, our traffic grew exponentially, and that’s when I knew I was on to something. I knew that there were so many other package designers out there that needed what I did, fresh, daily packaging inspiration. The event side of The Dieline came about in much the same way. After attending several other design conferences, I saw a huge hole in the market for an honest design conference focused exclusively on package designers. There really was nothing worthwhile, and I knew I could create something better, more focused on real world working designers, and most importantly, inclusive and welcoming to all.
5. What package has you geeking out the most? Any particular favorite of this year and of all time?
This time of year is one of my favorites, holiday packaging! There’s nothing better than seeing the influx of holiday themed products, gift sets, product launches, you name it.

6. Is there a particular designer or firm that stands out from the crowd in terms of innovative food packaging right now?
How are they breaking the rules in the name of  powerful design?
Pearlfisher. They are doing some really innovative food packaging and rethinking how food is presented, and packaged.
7. What’s next for The Dieline?
We are working on the next The Dieline Package Design Conference, which will be held in San Francisco on June 23-26th. We are working on a few other fun projects, but our main focus this next will actually be re-locating to New York. The Dieline has been based in LA since its inception, but the time has come to take it to where the hub of the industry is, New York.


Check out daily packaging inspiration and upcoming events over at The Dieline. A huge thank you to Andrew for taking the time to share about his business and passion for design.