What Matters to Amy Brusselback

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.


After 20 years at Procter & Gamble, Amy Brusselback left the corporate world to found the creative agency she’d always wished existed, Design B&B.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Trite, but true— I love collaborative design. It’s an energy rush, taking something really messy and unsnarling it into something brilliantly simple. 

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

When I was seven, I made a cake for my dad as a birthday gift. It was carrot cake with cream cheese icing, all from scratch. While carrying it to the car to deliver to him, I tripped and fell on our gravel driveway. The cake did survive. It was several chunks, now covered in tiny rocks. My mother re-assembled it as best possible, although it was clearly inedible. I had a hard time breathing through my tears, but still remember my mother saying, “It’s okay, he’ll know that the cracks are where the love flows.”

What is your biggest regret?

Always wishing I was older. You end up missing the folly.  

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

Is there a secret I don’t know? Is there something other than time?

What makes you cry?

The Giving Tree, Love You Forever and countless other children’s books, laughing too hard, older people in love, Ukraine, people who feel other, my parents aging, the spring in Maine, the fall in New York, any time my child is in pain.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

Pride and joy aren’t my first reaction to accomplishing something— it’s almost always a sense of relief. And that lasts until the next big thing.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I know people who seem like they’ve done this a few times before, where it feels like something must have preceded their time on this earth. So yes, I believe in an afterlife. It’s another chance to do a few more things right.

What do you hate most about yourself?

My inability to sit in the moment… impatience.

What do you love most about yourself?

I know a little about a lot.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Maine lobster rolls. And I’m taking no questions or comments.