web design + illustration


Inspiring Creativity | Entry 7

Blog - Career Options Series

Kaye Puhlmann is an extremely talented and astute individual. For this Professional Topics class, we had the pleasure of listening to Kaye speak about her business, her aspirations and work ethic. A Sheridan grad, Kaye has taught at multiple institutions, worked at RBC, a few big digital agencies and has even been the VP of creative. While Kaye loved her work, she was craving for something even more fun and adventurous. A few years ago, Kaye and her friend Mark co-founded Storybird Inc.

What is Storybird?

Storybird is a free, children’s publishing media company. Storybird motivates children to write by allowing them to pick and choose the illustrations to put in their stories. The platform inspires creativity and kids feel empowered, which in itself is a wonderful thing. Kids can create picture books, poetry and even long form books. Storybird is used by kids at home and by teachers as a learning tool in the classroom. Storybird has a million users, and is highly revered as a children’s publishing medium.

What I also found wonderful about the company is the fundraising aspect for schools and teachers. Through the purchase of a hard copy of a book, a portion of the profit goes back to the schools or the teachers. This is really a win-win situation because the children get to have a tangible form of their book forever.

Behind the Scenes

After speaking to us about the Storybird platform, Kaye spoke about three things: design, analytics, and Design. Kaye is a multidisciplinary designer, but not just any designer, a “Designer with a capital D”.


A Designer, is someone who is able to wear many hats, who takes control, a designer who applies their thinking to all aspects of problem solving. A designer who doesn’t shy away from a big task, a designer who really knows their product.


She showed us the evolution of the Storybird logo, the concept behind it and delved deep into how she boosted the company by analyzing the statistics. While Storybird is a free service, there has to be some sort of revenue just like any other business to stay alive. For Kaye to figure out how to generate more revenue, she had to look at the data. She found that the positive feedback she was receiving was only from a small portion users, which isn’t nearly enough to fully understand the platform and all the people who are using it.

With the help of Google Data Studio (which looks like a fantastic tool), Kaye compiled all the data into a series of beautifully designed infographics. She made the information consumable, understandable and accurately (and thoroughly) represented the data. She was able to clearly see what was happening, and how to increase user engagement. From the data, she utilized Hook Methodology, the ways to tap into people’s habits and addictions to increase user engagement and to have them come back. Kaye incorporated a ‘currency’ in the form of crowns, a reward (badge) system and membership packages to increase revenue. The more the user interacts with the platform, the more books they publish, the more books they love and read, the more higher level badges they will receive. There are different levels of badges with regular users, highly active users and memberships users; membership users have the highest perks with gold crowns. In the end, the badge system helped Kaye reflect on the business in a completely new way, and ultimately they were the key to the continued success of the business.

What an incredible individual

this is kaye puhlmann

Kaye’s design thinking skills propelled the business to great heights and was able to bring clarity and understanding to a challenging issue. More recently, Kaye has even applied her design thinking to rewriting the privacy policy. I think what Kaye does is amazing, and the fact she takes charge and faces problems head on is inspiring. Kaye really exemplifies what it means to have a backbone. 

While Kaye's presentation was predominantly about Storybird, she did let us know that she sold the company about a year ago. Even though Kaye doesn't own Storybird anymore, she's still involved in shaping the future of platform.  

Get to know Kaye on a professional level through her LinkedIn.

Thank you Kaye for coming in to share your wisdom and expertise!

tyana awada