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Meet Petra Ives of lime1 Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Petra Ives.

Petra, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Very early on in my life, I knew what I wanted to be… hanging out in both of my aunt’s design studios, I learned quickly what it means to be a Graphic Designer, and at age 12 I decided that this will be my career path. I had it all mapped out: internships during my high school years, trade school, college and then eventually run my own fancy design agency in Munich, Germany, where I grew up.

However, I never anticipated “love” messing with my plans. In 2000, the week I finished trade school, this cute American boy came into my life… we fell for each other at first sight, and 3 months later I left my orderly, punctual, and rainy home turf of Germany for laid-back, easy-living San Diego. I embraced my new hometown wholeheartedly with its beaches, mountains, and entrepreneurial spirit and picked up surfing, hiking, and a taste for sushi.

I married the American boy, and here we are 17 years and 2 kids later. Getting back on track, I finished my design degree at SDSU (and learned proper American English), fulfilled the American dream by starting my own design business, lime1 Design in 2004, and got involved in the San Diego design community, serving on multiple boards as director and advisor. My roots here go deep now, and I consider myself a San Diegan… with a German accent.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
While I love and breath visual design, I had no idea how to run a business. They don’t teach you about contracts, bookkeeping, and sales tactics in design school. I started to attend any IRS workshop, picked up tons of business books, joined business networking groups, and half of the time just winged it. I also had to learn the “American” way and was often very self-aware of my German accent. I was pretty young when I started lime1 Design, at 24 years old, and I wanted to be taken seriously and appear much bigger than just myself running the studio.

I bought a black business suit at Nordstrom for all of my important client meetings and talked about “our designers” and “the project manager” (which in reality is all me). I feel a lot more confident now. Now, clients come to me for ME and MY work. I don’t have to appear bigger than I am and definitely don’t have to dress up in suits anymore. I also stopped worrying so much when there is a lull in incoming projects. Experience taught me that something will happen and if nothing else, I enjoy the little break and take care of other things. My biggest challenge right now is, how to combine family and business, or better said, how to separate those two.

Currently, the lines are blurred. Often I am taking down notes for revisions on a design project while waiting at school for my son to get out. Work often interferes with an afternoon focused on my kids and a lot of the work doesn’t get finished until after they go to bed. At the same time, I never miss a school play and I am there to pick them up after school almost every day.

Please tell us about lime1 Design.
I provide branding strategies and graphic design service for companies, ranging from mom-and-pop shops to large corporations, both in the United States and Germany.

I like to seek out clients who, like myself, have a genuine passion for what they do. They have an idea for a product or service that makes their hearts beat faster and drive them to work late nights and long weekends. I like to help them build their business by creating meaningful brands through design and creative strategy. While it is mainly me, currently working out of my house in Kensington, I surround myself with a network of trusted partners, such as web developers, photographers, copywriters, and printers to collaborate with and offer the best possible solution for my clients.

I am most proud of the relationships and trust I build with my clients and, therefore, had the chance to work on some wonderful brands like Planned Parenthood, Giant Bicycle, Benno Bikes, and Make A Wish Foundation. My clients count on me for work that’s thoughtful, timeless, and combines positive energy with wit and freshness. And they know, I’ll get the job done. Besides client work, I also work on my own little side projects like illustrating the landmarks and iconic buildings of San Diego and putting them on beer glasses, letterpress cards and posters.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Going back, I might have started to work a little bit earlier ON my business, rather than IN my business. I could have been a bit smarter about money and investment, growing and expanding my business. That is something I just recently started to focus on, after getting back into the rhythm after starting a family. At the same time, I had a blast in the early years of being my own boss. I lived a carefree life of designing, traveling, surfing and enjoying the Californian life.


  • Logo & Brand Identity Packages: starting at $2,000
  • Graphic Design Service & Consulting: starting at $75/hour
  • Custom San Diego Beer Glasses: $10/each

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nensi Lakrori

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