December 26, 2023

Another year around the sun, can you even believe? Even with a wonky economy and the usual entrepreneurial rollercoaster rides, I feel so proud of the exciting milestones I saw in my business, artistic career and life in general.

Let’s do a little recap, shall we?

2023 Recap: Kleist Creative

Out of everything I accomplished this year, I am most proud of the growth I saw with Kleist Creative. I started this business because I wanted to do something creatively fulfilling that I had more control over than my artist career, and in 2023 I was reminded about why that was such a great choice. Here are some of my favorite wins of the year.

Worked with 46 Clients

A good mix of custom brand & web projects, template customizations, VIP days, previous client refreshes, photoshoot direction, and more, which led to the highest revenue year Kleist Creative has seen yet. I even developed a website for the media company that produces one of the top 5 podcasts in the world! (And I just refreshed my portfolio with a lot of the work I did this year, so go take a gander at it if you’re curious.)

Got Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal

This wasn’t exactly on my 2023 bingo card, but a journalist at WSJ saw my viral TikTok from last December and wanted to interview me about it, as she was putting together a story about something similar. Apparently, it’s coming out in early 2024, so stay tuned for that exciting update 🙂

Became a ShowIt Design Partner

After a year of vetting, I finally got accepted as a ShowIt Design Partner. Basically, I have the *official* stamp of approval that I know what the hell I’m doing in the platform and can now be considered an official expert. And unlike most “partner” programs, this was hella hard to be accepted to, as they literally vet you for a year. (They even reached out to some of my past clients to make sure my client experience was top notch.)

Hired a Pinterest Manager

One of my goals as a business owner long ago was to be able to hire my dream Pinterest Manager, Sarah Burk. I was finally able to become one of her management clients this year and my Pinterest has never looked better. (And as a result, I’m now getting over 200k+ views/mo on that platform, which as a designer, is so so so cool.)

Hired a Logo Developer

Around this time last year, as I was looking back at the previous year and trying to decide how I wanted to proceed for 2023, I decided that it was no longer in my best interest to be doing the tasks I hate. One of those tasks being logo design. My issue was that I genuinely love every other aspect of visual branding—colors, typefaces, even photoshoots. But logo design? Not so much. So, I hired a logo developer on a project-by-project basis, and it has changed everything for me. I still get to be the one to design the creative direction, color palettes, type suites, etc, but I’ve got Emily Cecile doing the logo design now, which is just *chef’s kiss*.

Became a Mentor

Another thing I did not have on my 2023 bingo card was finally becoming an educator in an official capacity. It started off early last year when a ton of my actor friends started asking me for business advice, which resulted in creating my first ever 6-week “starting a biz” course for actors called Quadruple Threat. After enrolling 9 students into that and teaching the whole thing, I also started helping other designers with their businesses. (If you’re a designer, check this out!) And allllll of that led to me concepting a new idea for a secondary business that I’m excited to launch in 2024. (If you’re an actor/performing artist/showbiz person, click here for the hint.)

Performing Artist Career

If I’m being quite honest with you (which I always am on this blog), my performing artist career wasn’t as much of a priority for me this year as it has been in previous years. Part of what I’m learning about being a multi-hyphenate is that it’s okay to put some parts of yourself on the backburner while you are trying to let others flourish. We are only human, after all. Even still, here are some highlights from the showbiz part of my life.

Performed on Broadway Stages 3 Separate Times

I got to perform ensemble vocals in 3 separate concerts behind many of my Broadway IDOLS, like Lin Manuel-Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Sara Barielles, Josh Groban, and more. (Not to mention, I got to be directed by Tommy Kail and music directed by Alex Lacamoire—I mean, what a DREAM.) While these concerts never count as a “Broadway debut” (you have to literally be in a Broadway show for it to count that way), getting the opportunity to sing on these stages with these people is never lost on me.

Joined Actor’s Equity Association (The Union)

Another thing that wasn’t on my bingo card? Joining the Actor’s union! This has been a goal of mine for… well… forever. But there’s lots of politics surrounding when it’s the best time for you to join. After a few especially frustrating non-union auditions, a strategy sesh with my agent, and a pep talk from one of my most successful artist pals, I finally decided it was time to level the fuck up and join the union. I am both excited and nervous to see how this decision plays out in the future.

Performed in 2 Reading/Workshop/Concert Style Projects, and Background Vocals for a Few Albums

A series of silly readings/workshops/concerts/BGVs led me to working with the folks at York Theatre Company, playing Britney Spears (…fear not, I was as shocked as you are), and singing backups on a demo for a new children’s show as well as a single release of an 80’s style story song.

Auditioned for 22 Projects

National tours, regional shows, and a few episodes of Law and Order led to a 22-audition year for me. (Like I said before, not my highest audition year, but I expect that to change in 2024 since I’ve joined the union, which makes it easier to be seen!)

Life, Leisure, Recreation, and Vibing Outside of Work

I didn’t plan for this to be the case, but I think the “lifestyle” category of my life takes first prize this year. Check out all the cool people, places, and things!

I Traveled More Than I’ve Traveled in a Year, Ever

  • My boyfriend and I went to LA to celebrate the opening of our friend’s new film studio in the Hollywood Hills. And as a bonus, I got to meet 2 of my favorite online pals/collaborators IRL, Xanthe of Oh Sierra Creative and Hazel of Two Parts Studio
  • I went to Cape Cod to visit my copywriter bestie Sara and see what all the hubub was about in her favorite place on earth
  • My boyfriend and I went to Minneapolis for a weekend to celebrate my cousin’s wedding, and I got to have some much-needed family time
  • I went to DC to see the music production work that my boyfriend did on the acclaimed Whitney White’s show, Macbeth in Stride. While there, I did a good mix of the toursty things and the theatre-y things, which, is the perfect mix to me!
  • My boyfriend and I went to Germany to celebrate the wedding of 2 of our closest friends. This trip was SO beautiful, relaxing, and educational. I also learned quite a bit about my own family history from the groom’s German father!
  • Aaaaaand finally, I traveled home to Wisconsin for Christmas. I’m so so happy whenever I’m able to do that.

I Saw 8 Broadway Shows

Kinda comes with the territory of being a theatre girly I suppose, but I did set an intention to see more shows this year, and 8 seems like a great number! I saw Wicked, Kimberly Akimbo, A Beautiful Noise (and saw my friend make her principal Broadway debut in it!), Sweeney Todd, Parade, Once Upon a One More Time, Back to the Future, and Gutenberg the Musical.

Other Misc. Highlights That are Fun and Don’t Fit Into Other Categories

  • I got back into my fiction era. After 10 years of being a non-ficition-only girl, I was randomly inspired one day to pick up the Hunger Games prequel and it kickstarted a whole fiction renaissance. I ended up reading 6 fiction books! (Which may not seem like a lot, but for me, it really is!)
  • I got back into going to the movie theatre. Again, I’m shocked to be saying this, but going to the movies is really fun! (I’m usually not much of a movie person.) Barbie and the AMC Stubs program is responsible for this new lifestyle shift.
  • I had my eyebrows done by a celebrity eyebrow stylist. Will I go back and pay those prices? Probably not. But now I have a picture of exactly what he did so I can show other eyebrow stylists what I want to have done, cuz that shit was perfection.
  • I got to watch the Macy’s Parade from the 40th-something floor of our friend’s high-rise apartment, and holy shit, THAT is the way to the watch the Macy’s Parade. Truly life-changing. I loved every moment.

What Will 2024 Have in Store?

I guess we’ll just have to find out. And if you’re curious about how I was able to remember all of these things and track these stats, check out my free to-done list template. (The Wall Street Journal thinks it’s pretty cool!)

Hi, I'm Sarah Kleist.

Brand & web designer, personal brand strategist, and marketing educator obsessed with the power of connecting with audiences.



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