Creative Catalyst + Heart-Centered Entrepreneur

Willo O’Brien has made a career out of creativity. In the last decade she founded a web/graphic design business, launched a product line, served as co-founder of two startups, produced a video series, and developed multiple programs empowering thousands of passionate individuals and creative entrepreneurs. Through her speaking engagements, coachingonline courses and retreats, Willo is dedicated to inspiring you to thrive and feel alive while doing what you love.

Life/Career Highlights

Skip down to 2014 for all the latest hits

  • 1996: Moved to San Francisco
  • 1997: Created my first website; mostly scans of my illustrations, photos & updates about my life (blogging before anyone called it blogging)
  • 1996-1999: Worked directly with Spirituality + Creativity Leaders/Authors, such as SARK, Marianne Williamson, Shakti Gawain, Dan Millman, Gabrielle Roth, Deepak Chopra, Hal and Sidra Stone, Geneen Roth, and more
  • 1999: Worked at my first startup, Care2.com, as an E-Card Production Artist
  • 2000: Flash Animation & Design at Spunky Productions (another startup), animating online cartoons for kids
  • 2000-2007: Web/Graphic Design, Flash Design/Animation, and Custom Illustration; serving companies like First Republic Bank, SGI, BrassRing, Fujitsu/Softek, Omneon, Polycom, Daniel Pearl Foundation, DCResource, Mercury Interactive (HP), and many creative small business owners (officially self-employed in 2003)
  • 2007: Launched WilloToons ~ where geek meets rock ‘n roll! My product line of designer tees, organic baby clothing, jewelry, cards, totes and more
  • 2007-2010: Touring with my line + speaking, coaching & consulting creative entrepreneurs
  • 2010: Served as Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer at Storenvy
  • 2001-2011: Completed 10 years(!) of facilitating Bamboozled; a weekly after school program working with rising high-school teen writers and publishing their work online
  • 2011: Premiered WilloToons Connect video series
  • 2011: Co-creator in The Ladies Independent Design League (LIDL) a collective of artists, illustrators, writers & photographers meeting weekly in SF
  • 2011/2012: Served as Co-Founder/VP Marketing at Stitch Labs, where we Raised a $1m seed round & Won Best in Show at SXSW
  • March, 2012: Co-produced SFEmbassy Austin SXSW
  • March, 2012: Created/Produced CraftMakerCamp SXSW
  • Aug, 2012: Launched RE:CONNECT (3 courses held Sept + Nov, 2012 & Jan, 2013)
  • September, 2012: Nominated & served as an Advisor for ICON8 – The Illustration Conference (2012-2013)
  • Dec, 2012: Launched Feel ALIVE! (2 courses held in Feb + May, 2013)




Speaking & Mentoring

Speaking Events 2014:

2013: Form & Future Live Interview, Creative Mornings, Skillshare, Farmhouse Conf 5, and mentoring at SXSW V2V & Women 2.0’s conference, 2020 Vision: Designing Work, Life & Play
2012: Women 2.0 Founder Friday, Social Media Week, SXSW, True University, HOW Design Live, Dreamforce, re:build, and more.
2011: SXSW, Noise Pop Culture Club, Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, the Summit of Awesome, WordCampSF, Fashion + TECHSF, and more.
2007-2010: SXSW & many, many others. You’ll have to dig through the archives.

Articles, Interviews & Press:

press logos - grayscale

Contributed to the following books:

Outside the Lines: An Artists' Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations

Mentioned or quoted in:


Real Talk

What makes me happy?

  • Connecting and communicating with people. Bear hugs. Lovefests.
  • Kitty purrs and fuzzy bellys (I adore happy puppy smiles, soft bunny faces and waddling penguins, too; I love animals of all kinds!)
  • Live music, or the secondary healing alternative: belting out one of my favorite songs at the top of my lungs in my car
  • Sushi; a simple tofu/veggie stir fry; delicious wine; whip cream; pickled anything
  • Yoga, or breaking a sweat hiking or running
  • Foodie/wine snobs who appreciate the magic of a cheap taco & a solid dive bar
  • Learning/Personal development/Following my heart/Leveling it up
  • Dark chocolate with sea salt (almonds are welcome, too)
  • My sweet Momma, my adorable baby nieces, and the amazing unconditional love & support that comes with being family.
  • All my amazing friends in SF and around the world who make my world brighter every day.
  • Expression! Whether it’s design, illustration, writing, producing, connecting, teaching, speaking or shouting enthusiastically at a stranger on the street that I love the style they’ve got goin’ on.

Things you may not know about me:

  • I grew up skiing in my hometown of Steamboat, CO. However, I haven’t been on skis since I started snowboarding at age 12. I loved it and even did a bit of GS racing in high school. I gave the sport up entirely after I snapped my knee sideways while snowboarding at age 27. Honestly, I was pretty over it already after growing up in a ski town.
  • Speaking of high school, I was a cheerleader my freshman year, for the senior basketball team. That may surprise some of you; others, not at all. :)
  • I eat mostly vegan, which as you can see from my happy list above isn’t really vegan. It’s just the easiest way to describe the majority of food I put in my mouth.
  • For the most part, feet gross me out.
  • I don’t have any allergies, that I know of. I rarely get headaches either.
  • I’m a certified scuba diver and wish I could live underwater!
  • I don’t chew gum anymore.
  • I get afraid I’m going to get in an accident, or die or something, and they’ll find my house a mess. That’s right. Not about my being in the accident… it’s god forbid my house be a disaster! Believe me, sometimes it is. I guess I just don’t wanna go out like that, ya know?
  • I totally text-voted for Kelly Clarkson on the first American Idol. Haven’t watched the show much since then though.
  • I have a 1/2 brother, who is ~18 months younger than me, born from the same Dad. I have a 1/2 sister, who is 16 years younger than me, born from the same Mom.
  • I’m actually fairly uncomfortable talking about myself. Can we talk about you now?