Showcasing Women in Space with NASA Astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins

The end of 2022 has been a whirlwind of activity and planning. While most people were winding down for the Christmas and New year break, the team at STEM Wana Trust was ramping up and working hard to ensure that we pulled off one of our most ambitious initiatives to date. Delivering on a STEM in the Community series of events with a roadshow featuring a NASA Astronaut!

On a personal level, I have ticked off many achievement badges as part of this project:

Get to work with the force of nature that is Janet Van Jenkins
Collaborate and deliver an event with NASA
Meet a NASA Astronaut
Extend our reach beyond the Bay of Plenty
Get STEMFest featured on national TV
Connect with more awesome women in STEM

It’s been such a pleasure to work with Dr. Kate Rubins, an accomplished scientist and NASA Astronaut and introduce her to some of our STEM loving whānau. We pitched to her the idea of a road trip via the North Island, intentionally offering this unique opportunity to the smaller towns and communities – and she loved it. So, in just seven weeks and with the impending holidays looming, we hustled hard, got our lovely Coordinator Rachael prepped and got all the pieces in place to allow for activitations between 8-10 January 2023 in Palmerston North, Taupō, Rotorua, and culminating in a gala evening in Tauranga.

Panel at STEM Wana Trust x NASA event in Tauranga 10 January 2023. Featuring Janet Van Jenkins, Dr. Kate Rubins, Emma Comrie-Thomson, Kate Breach, and Dr. Sarah Kessans

Tia Lush and Dr. Kate Rubins at event in Tauranga New Zealand

Meeting and getting to spend some time with the very amazing Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand Kate Breach, Emma Comrie-Thomson, CEnvP, and Dr. Sarah Kessans has been the icing on the cake for many of us (and you all know how much I love cake). The feedback from visitors from all locations has been “inspiring, incredible and mind-blowing”. Our headline sponsor Manawa Energy has just send through this message which sums it up so well “…seeing the incredible line up of inspiring woman on stage. And l don’t think we should underestimate the lasting impacts and impressions these types of events have on young people…”

You can see photos and read the event summaries on our blog:

I’m so proud of our team and our organisation. I’m also very grateful to the people who enable, keep me in check, AND have my back in equal measure, Amanda Crowther, Steven Vincent, and Erin Nicholson – they are the silent heroes.

So what’s coming up for us? How will we possibly top this? Well to be honest, I’m not sure, but could we take a wee break before we think about that please?


The first STEMFest in New Zealand

This month marks my family’s two year anniversary in New Zealand. I have to admit that the time has flown by at a ridiculous rate. If you had told me that within the space of two years I would have helped deliver a world class STEM Festival to my newly adopted country AND set up a new registered charity, I would have scoffed at you and then asked what it was you were smoking? Well, it seems the laugh is on me.

In reflecting on the remarkable things that have happened to me personally and professionally, I have come to the conclusion that it’s been a combination of pure luck, good timing, and being fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with an exceptional group of individuals, all of whom where total strangers to me two years ago and who now I couldn’t imagine being without.

These amazing group of people not only shared my vision, but they embraced it and helped to reshaped it into their own so that it became a collaboration in every sense of the word. I am so much richer for having these awesome humans in my life: Amanda, Marie, Mike, Debs, Kurt and Steven (AWOL from the photo).

The remarkable success of STEMFest has been down to the fact that our vision of an inclusive, joyous, and inspirational event would absolutely capture the imagination of the public and community. We truly believed that “if we build it, they will come”. And they did come — all 3,500 of them. We asked them to bring their curiosity and an open mind and they came away being truly inspired and wanting more!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, encouraged us, hustled for us, and made us push that little bit harder, because, hey — just look at what we did together!

I’m really excited for the future, for what is in store for “Tia the designer”, “Tia the STEM organiser and advocate”, and “Tia the hoarder of stationery” — so watch this space!

Ka Pai Hoki Koe!


Say no to Comic Sans

From homemade party invitations to a corporate assets and Government signage, people have made the choice to go for Comic Sans for the following reasons:

1. It’s an informal and fun font
2. It’s easy to read and the audience will understand the message better
3. It’s included in my computer fonts package

Image taken from Huffington Post article.

In reality, because a font that looks like a five year old can read and understand, does not mean that it has the same effect on an adult. The font was originally designed for cartoon speech balloons and lemonade stands, not for tributes, shop signage, van decals or resignation letters. It’s about how you want your brand personality to be perceived. When used in any professional context it looks lazy, unprofessional, and lacks seriousness.

It is all about choosing the right tone of voice that matches the way you want your message to be perceived.

There are many free fonts available that still allow you to be informal, fun, easy to read, and appropriate to your audience. For your convenience a small selection is listed below!

Thank you for converting. Happy fonting.

Click on the image to go to Google Fonts.

Peterboorugh STEM Festival 2016

How to organise a STEM festival and still remain sane

As a self proclaimed veteran (having organised one STEM festival for Peterborough), I thought it might be helpful to impart some useful tips to anyone looking to embark upon the same insane journey.

Before I start, I’d like to point out that this is not in any kind of logical order. It’s almost as if I am sat perched on the sofa with thoughts spilling out of my (cake deprived) mind. Maybe.

Here goes:

1. Choose co-organisers on your team who are generous, like-minded and level-headed. You’ll probably need to call on their ability and dedication to put up bunting and event decoration with you at 10pm the night before the big day.
2. Make sure one of your co-organisers is good with words. He’ll need these skills so that he can reply to the emails that make you want to curse like a fish-wife.
3. Surround yourself with awesome people who know what they are doing so that you inadvertently bask in the glow of their achievements and talent.
4. Recruit a team of dedicated and wonderful volunteers, supply them with a complicated spreadsheet so that it looks like you have put some thought into their roles and then step back and let them do their jobs on the day.
5. Use your influence on your school mum friends to get them to help you spread the word to their networks and then nag them into booking tickets on the pretense that they are ‘testing’ the booking system for you. Repeat this several times.
6. Use all your skills at begging for freebies and calling on people’s generous nature, because you will have zero budget to work with.
7. Wait for your friends to offer to help with a small task and then somehow escalate their role until they end up managing the front registration desk on the day.
8. Don’t organise another major digital event four days after the festival day because you’ll end up feeling knackered.
9. Be sure you are married to a supportive partner who is unfazed by your crazy schemes (this one should probably be the first thing on this list).
10. If anyone asks you when you will be organising the next STEM festival, don’t start sobbing and rocking on our heels, it makes people feel uncomfortable.

So, those are my top tips. Unfortunately, they don’t guarantee any success for organising a STEM festival, but I can guarantee that it will be a once in a lifetime experience, and you will make some amazing friends along the way.

Peterborough STEM Festival 2016

Bat shit crazy about you valentine's day card

Geeky and nerdy Valentine’s cards with a difference

This year I have designed some cards featuring my best selling floral (doodle) design as well as some quirky (and I hope) funny valentine’s cards.

You don’t have to be sloppy and all loved up to show your affection for someone. Sometimes, it’s fun and good to be brutal.

Most designs can be personalised with a name or phrase to make that little bit unique.


Bat shit crazy about you valentine's day card

Cute and a little bit nerdy valentine's day card

dorkface valentine's card

love u html valentine's card

you're a weirdo valentine's card


Simply Solids New Logo

Simply Solids – Logo Redesign and New Website

Simply Solids New Logo
Simply Solids New Logo
I was contacted by the lovely Justine last year to help her rework the logo for her new business venture – Simply Solids.

We both liked elements of previous logo, but the design did not lend itself well to being printed on stickers and marketing material. It was also a wide design which made it cumbersome when trying to incorporate it onto circular web badges, stickers and marketing design.

Simply Solids Old Logo
Simply Solids Old Logo
We both loved the bunting element (who doesn’t?) and so after a few tweaks we came up with the new logo. We choose a lovely unstructured typeface making it organic and still used lots of lovely bunting. We used a stronger colour palette and added in a ribbon swag to pull it all together. I am thrilled with the result. Simply lovely.

Following on with the new logo, I was asked to work on a brand new design for the website. Justine wanted to move her shop over to the e-commerce platform and wanted a custom template for the new look business.

We went for a very clean modern feel using some bold contemporary fonts and implemented the pastel colours from the branding. I think it works really well and I hope that the website continues to grow and evolve with the business as it goes from strength to strength. It’s been a pleasure working with Justine on this project and I hope we get to work together again soon!

Simply Solids Website
Simply Solids Website

Skull and Cross Buns

wamc_jan13_promo_scb So, can you guess what this website sells? You’ll never guess and that’s one of the best things about small independent businesses. This fabulous website is the brainchild of the very lovely and very talented Emily Fox. Emily sells hand carved stamps and designs, but not just any ordinary designs, some really fun animals, words, bunting and seasonal stamps. All lovingly hand carved by her fair hands!

I was asked by Emily to come up with a design for a website that matched her unique and quirky style. We had a great palette of pinks and greys to work with. Emily was keen to have a neutral website which allowed the products to shine through, but was also fun and not too serious.

I used a combination of washi tape patterns in the pale pink and we introduced a new fancy font to add some interest to the design along with a lovely duck blue colour to add some zing!

The website was designed using the fabulous platform and I think the simplicity of the layout and the design really works and I am thrilled with the results. The new site has had such lovely feedback on the official Skull and Cross Buns facebook page. Go over ‘like’ immediately (please) and be sure to visit the website and get yourself some proper fabulous stamps.


Cherry Pie Lane

A while back I recieved an email from Charlie of Cherry Pie Lane (imagine my excitement people), alas, my dream of being paid in the form of cake was quickly dashed, but very quickly replaced by wanting to own lots of beautiful ceramic designs.

Cherry Pie Lane already had an online presence but it was time to upgrade to something that was easier to manage and give the business a new face-lift. Charlie wanted to start using the system for her e-commerce solution. I believe that we found each other through the mighty twitter-sphere, although I am lucky to be in create’s little ‘black book’ of WDK designers and often get referals via that route.

So, Charlie gave me a detailed design brief which was along the lines of ‘I like clean lines, pink gingham and linen’. Simple really.

After a few rounds of revisions, me insisting on ‘less is more’ when it comes to gingham and some whipping sessions (don’t ask) we arrived at the final result. Although I jest about the loose brief, I knew that Charlie had a clear vision of what she wanted and it was up to me to translate that into a website that not only looked delicious but worked for Cherry Pie Lane.

It has been a pleasure to work on this project with such a fun and clever lady and I am thrilled that the website really does let the designs shine and take centre stage. Check out the new website and tell me which designs you love. My personal favourite has got to be the circus inspired designs, but I may just be channelling my inner clown.

Kyleigh’s Papercuts

Late last year I was asked by the very talented papercutting Goddess Kyleigh to help her set up and develop her own website. Kyleigh is a best seller on Not on The High Street, but she had never had time to set up her own website.

So the idea was that Kyleigh would provide me with a design concept and I would ‘plumb’ it into an e-commerce platform. We discussed various options and in the end we settled for a system that offered flexibilty to grow and be 100% client manageable.

It was a great pleasure working with a designer who knew what she wanted, but who was also open to suggestion when it came to adapting her ideas into something that would work online.

We actually completed the website last year, but because Kyleigh was totally swamped with orders over the holiday period she wasn’t able to finish uploading products to the site. I only nagged her a few times over that period. Honest.

I am thrilled to announce that it is finally launched and it is totally magnificant. Please go and admire the unique designs and wonder at the skill (there’s a clip you can watch) at what it takes to complete a custom papercut.

Thank you to Kyleigh for allowing me to be a small part of her papercutting empire. It was a pleasure working with such a talent.

Rosettes by Little A Designs

I received the most amazing package of goodies the other day. I had asked the very lovely sewing and hand stitching goddess that is Marna of Little A Designs for some special rosettes.

I knew they were going to be gorgeous, but I was blown away at all the attention to detail, from the washi tape ribbons to the hand made ‘little a’ ceramic buttons to the authenticity certificates. Beautifully presented and all made with love. When you commission something from Marna, expect something very special indeed.

My only dilemma is that I want to hang my HQ rosette in the middle of my monitor so I get to look at it all day long, however, this makes is a tad difficult to do any actual work.

I look forward to wearing my ‘nobber’ and ‘cakeface’ rosettes with utter pride.