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July 28, 2015

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Hafsah Faizal

Kate Hart

Hafsah Faizal headshot

Hafsah Faizal is an integral part of the Young Adult literature world. From website and book cover design, to reviewing books and writing her own, Hafsah does a little (or a lot!) of everything, and the community is better for it. I'm happy to feature her as this week's Badass Lady You Should Know.

Icey Books and Designs logos

Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Hafsah: While I like to call myself a designer more than a blogger, it’s a lie. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t started IceyBooks, which was my launch pad for everything that I am today.

I started IceyBooks by chance, really. I never liked reading. I loved math, and generally thought school was boring because my mom taught me more at home. I always had better things to do than read, and I think that mentality grew from the fact that my school’s library had the most boring books, at lower reading levels than where I stood. That said, when I started homeschooling, we moved to another state and I knew no one at all. I finally started visiting the library, reading books, finding people (albeit unreal), and on the days when I had nothing to read, I started going through my library’s teen blog. Months after I found their blog, I saw a giveaway for an ARC. I ended up being the only one who entered, so it wasn’t a surprise when I won it. I soon discovered the library blog had a program just for teens: review a book, and every month, you’ll get a free one.

Some months later, IceyBooks was born.

Today on IceyBooks, I spotlight authors, feature books that I love and books that aren’t getting enough love. My sister/co-blogger and I talk books, but also more. I’ve meshed in my designer self in there too, with tips on blogging (mostly the aesthetics), how-to’s, and more recently, my ‘ How to Build an Author Website’ series.

Blogging aside, most of my days go by designing websites, and that too, mostly for authors. Designing and running IceyDesigns has turned into a full-time job, and I’m forever grateful for the ability to work from home doing something I truly love. The fact that most of my clients are authors—many of them authors of books I love—makes it all the better. It’s a dream job, for sure!

I self-published my YA, UNBREATHABLE, back in October of 2013, and I’ve been working on another manuscript ever since—a YA fantasy set in an alternate Arabia. It’s slow-going, because of my design work, but I love it too much to set it aside!

Handlettered journal cover
Kate: Do you have any creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Hafsah: Designing used to be my creative outlet before it became a full-time job, but now, I’ve turned to handlettering prints and journals, which might just turn into another business endeavor soon enough! Handlettering has opened up new possibilities for my design work, especially in regards to logos and design elements—there’s just something so homey to the imperfections of handlettering!

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Hafsah: Fitting everything I want to do in a day in that day. While I’m getting work done, I’m not getting everything I want done, so I have that incessant nagging feeling that I’m falling behind. I’m told I have too many goals and desires and that I should cut down on projects, but if you’ve ever been told the same, you know just how impossible that is!

Examples from Hafsah's website portfolio
Just a few websites from
Hafsah's portfolio
Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten? Or Tell us something that makes you proud.

Hafsah: This is a tough question because I don’t like pride! But recently, I read a design client’s manuscript. A week later, she flew over to HarperCollins and, when chatting with her editor and agent, told them that a blogger loved it. When they asked who read her manuscript, before she could finish saying my name, they knew me. They said I was really making a name for myself with IceyBooks and IceyDesigns, and I loved that I was being acknowledged by people I don’t know directly.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Hafsah: Just listen. Listen to the voices before you open your mouth. If more people will listen before they speak, this world will be a much better place.

Kate: Who are some badass ladies we need to know & why?

Hafsah: Sarah J Maas because she’s an amazing author who is so down-to-earth. Susan Dennard because she quit her job as a scientist to write badass books and help others be their best writer selves.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Hafsah: Don’t wait for someone else, do it yourself and be your best at it.


Hafsah Faizal is a blogger, author, and entrepreneur/designer. In late 2010, she started her blog, IceyBooks, where she and her sister featured everything YA (with the occasional MG and Adult), along with blogging tips and tricks, and her popular ‘ How to Build an Author Website’ series, dedicated to helping authors create websites right the first time. She's also the author of the YA sci fi Unbreathable.

Hafsah is also a web designer and developer. What started as a hobby when she was thirteen became her first business. She founded IceyDesigns in 2011, and continues to work closely with authors and other professionals to bring their ideas to life on the web.

You can learn more about Hafsah at:
Icey Books  /  Icey Designs  /  Instagram  /  Facebook  /  Pinterest

You can find more Badass Ladies at badassladiesyoushouldknow dot com and on Twitter!


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