Sarah K Magidoff is the founder and designer of CANOPY, a branding studio dedicated to serving creatives, entrepreneurs and anyone with a big idea with unforgettable brand design. Sarah has a detailed eye for beauty, serenity, simplicity, and style, along with a deep love for her clients and the connection they share.
What is your soul+work?
I want to create good in the world. As a designer, I do that by championing my clients’ dreams. I want each person to walk away from an experience with me better than when they came - happier, inspired, invigorated, and encouraged.
How did your life prepare you for this work?
Words powerfully inform the story of our souls. The negative ones degrade us, the positive ones uplift us. For a long season of life, I lived under the anthem of the negative words spoken to me. They held me back from believing in myself and, therefore, constrained me from contributing my unique gifts to the world. I’ve seen what that looks like, and don’t want anyone else to live the same way.
I want to be a voice that screams “I BELIEVE IN YOU!” from the mountaintops.
Why do you do what you do?
I love, love, love people.
I love dreaming together, I love encouraging one another, I love seeing life from someone else’s eyes, I love moving toward goodness together.
But that’s not always what my daily work life entailed. Starting out as an architect, I designed high-rise buildings for big-time corporations. I loved the work, but after many years in the field I discovered my soul longed for human connection. So, I took a risk, left my job, and began a meaningful search for what was next. Fortunately, 3 beautiful friends - a jewelry designer, a stylist, and a founder of a nonprofit - asked me to help design some of their brand assets. After three successful deliveries, I was hooked. I discovered that working one-on-one with passionate individuals was so my jam.
What got in the way of you fulfilling your calling or your life’s work?
Since my childhood, I knew I wanted to be an architect. I took all the right classes, got into the best school, spent nearly a quarter million dollars in pursuit of an elite degree, and was hired by one of LA’s top design firms straight out of school. Months in, I realized the architect’s professional schedule - highly competitive with long nights and weekends - contrasted with the life I wanted to cultivate, which looked like quality time with loved ones, and plenty of space to nurture my soul. Since I’d come so far, I thought I had to stick it out to honor my childhood dream. So, I guess what got in the way of fulfilling my calling was my erroneous belief that I had no other options.
What do you perceive to be one of the biggest issues in our wold and how can we address it to make the world a better place?
We need to give each other much more grace - especially in creative communities! Too often, if we don’t immediately connect to another person’s work, we pronounce it as “bad”. This prohibits so much innovation, as creators shy away from releasing their work into the world for fear of public failure (myself included!) Instead, what if we approached that conversation by commending efforts, and encouraging improvement where we see room for it? This would create a much safer space for communicating new ideas, and this influx of ingenuity would make the world a better place!
Share with us your most difficult moment and how you came out shining?
The hardest moment of my career was walking away from a profession I had dreamed about since I was 11-years-old. In fact, I still mourn over it when I think about it too hard! But, the best way to get over something is to walk toward something equally good, if not better. Today, I have the pleasure of serving so many beautiful people with their own unique brand stories, and I swear I get the giddies every time I deliver a project. Seeing each client’s face beam when they see their new designs brings my heart delight.
We need to give each other much more grace - especially in creative communities! Too often, if we don’t immediately connect to another person’s work, we pronounce it as “bad”... Instead, what if we approached that conversation by commending efforts, and encouraging improvement where we see room for it? This would create a much safer space for communicating new ideas, and this influx of ingenuity would make the world a better place!
Tell us the fun bits about yourself. What are your hobbies and where do you live, work, and travel? What fills your soul?
Well, I grew up in Northern California and made my way to Los Angeles 12 years ago to study architecture. After school, I met a boy who put a ring on it, and now we live in a happy little house on top of a hill, where I sleep, work, dream, and watch plenty of Anthony Bourdain. To fill my soul, I travel to places like Mexico City, Cape Town, or the Patagonian Mountains once a year, as well as spend many, many hours in the company of friends with plenty of wine!
What does soul+work mean to you now?
Soul+work means determining the kind of lives we want to lead, then crafting our working behavior around that model. Our lives should not be slave to our work. Rather, the two should live in synergy. Wholehearted living affords us the energy to create our most imaginative work. In return, work fueled by passion brings energy to the routine of life. I’ve found that creating space throughout my day, week, and month, to take extended pauses and engage the world around me helps me be a better worker.
Every design project begins by getting to know my client personally. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of a brand, it’s important for me to develop a friendship with each individual - familiarizing myself with their hopes, dreams, fears and desires - so that I can create a product that is truly representative of who they are.
What helps you be a soul worker?
Free service : Weekly letters of encouragement from Hey, Sweet Pea.
Paid service : Ah! I’m so cheap I barely purchase productivity tools. BUT, I have a
SignNow subscription, which has made getting damn contracts signed a complete
What’s one thing you’ve learned recently?
Hire a business coach!! A coach helps take daunting or loosey-goosey ideas and turns them into concrete strategies. Even if you have a good idea about where you want to take your business (like myself) the accountability and action steps will move you from “I’ll do it later” to actualizing ideas in a matter of months. It can take forever doing it on your own!
Words to live by?
Failure is an event. Not a person.
- Aaron Anastasi
Sarah K Magidoff is the founder and designer of CANOPY, a branding studio dedicated to serving creatives, entrepreneurs and anyone with a big idea with unforgettable brand design.When not designing, Sarah can be found sipping something stiff near a pool somewhere in Palm Springs. For daily inspiration and encouragement, follow Sarah on Instagram at @madebycanopy.