June 20, 2019
The Creative Process – One of the most intriguing things about life is the presence of non-stop Self Discovery. I can pretty much say without a doubt that I can’t name the last day that I had where I didn’t learn something absolutely new. Maybe it was about my business; my clients, my design direction. Or it’s quite possible that it was about my own personal relationships, habits (good and bad), strengths, weaknesses, or well being. It’s also possible that I learned more than one thing that day (yup, it happens!) and it is a combination of the above. Either way, the moral of the story, is I learn something new daily, whether I seek to or not. To me, it is just a part of the process.
Now, some of you may thinking, I don’t actually learn something new everyday, maybe once or twice a week, but not daily. Or maybe you don’t remember the last time you learned something completely and utterly unique to your experience. My response to that is that it’s nearly impossible for that to be true.
How do you “know” what you learned if it doesn’t seem like your day was extraordinary? This is where we must start to think about intentional living, constructive flow of though, and self awareness. To get you started, simply get yourself a pretty journal or pull up a new document on your Mac, and answer the following questions throughout your day. Sometimes I even ask myself these questions mentally more than once a day, and I feel better for it.
These answers may change monthly, or daily, or even by the hour in some circumstances! That is life! But each time the answer changes, ask yourself what you learned or experienced that changed your response? There must be something, and the better you get at recognizing those moments in your life, the more in tune with your own needs and wellness you will be AND the more creatively you will run your business and your personal life. Give it a shot for one month. I dare you.
June 10, 2019
DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.
Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.
Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.
We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.
While it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.
At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.
2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:
This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.
Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.
Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.
3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:
Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.
I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it, and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically, I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.
Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.
I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!
Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.
As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.
4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:
If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.
Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!
See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here.
June 10, 2019
Since I will likely spend most of my week preparing for this weekends getaway with my Sister, I decided to spend this past Saturday downtown with the hubs. He was already in that vicinity as he had an early meeting in Chelsea, so we agreed to meet around 3:30 at our favorite West Village Brunch spot and then move on to drinks and the Belmont Stakes with friends at a bar on West Fourth. Perfection.
In New York City in order to get most anywhere worth visiting, you have to be willing to submit yourself to time on the Subway, which is the actual worst in the Summer months. This is especially true when you live in the ‘upper’ neighborhoods of the city as we do because a taxi or Uber ride to lower Manhattan can cost a fortune.
Onto the train I marched, looking forward to the mimosa that had been calling my name all morning.
Anybody who has lived in the city knows that it is never quite that easy. Immediately, my train was diverted because of track construction; meaning I had to hike to the next nearest station in order to catch a new train to my destination.
Once I was securely settled on the second train, it occurred to me that this one was running local instead of express, meaning it would stop at every station along the way as opposed to skipping the less popular ones to move more quickly to the larger.
Ok, it’s fine. It will simply add another 20 minutes to my trip, but it’s Saturday. No rush.
That is until I glanced through the window just in time to see Christopher Street/Sheridan Square, my stop, fly past me in a wave of dust. WHY ARE WE NOT STOPPING?
According to the very late announcement from the conductor, the train was now running an express and would not stop at the local stops, of which Christopher is one. A 35-minute trip had turned into a 1.5-hour trip AND brunch was officially ending for the day. My day felt a bit ruined.
To say I felt angry and cheated was an understatement. I had started the trip in an amazing mood, ready to spend some time off with the Hubs and the people I love, only to end up missing half of my day off sitting on the train, battling one obstacle and delay after another. My mood had taken quite a turn for the worst.
When I finally reached my stop, I grumpily got off the train and walked
I looked up, and there she was. Sarah Jessica Parker.
I had been hoping for this since I moved to the city over 8 years ago! If there is one celebrity that I have wanted to catch a glimpse of in real life, it is for sure SJP. I just adore her.
And just think, if the train had been on time, I wouldn’t have had that super cool experience.
I meeeannnn, I didn’t end up speaking to her. And, I probably only had her in my eyesight for 3 seconds or less, but it was still really cool. I stand by that. I made sunglass eye contact with SJP.
For the first time in the history of the MTA, the Saturday train delays made someone’s day.
*Disclaimer: I totally wanted to talk to her and gush about how much I loved her work, but in the interest of remaining a “real” New Yorker, I abstained. Gah
June 6, 2019
When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.
I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.
Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.
I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.
The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.
Something to think about…
June 5, 2019
We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.
TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!
You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.
A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!
November 18, 2018
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?
Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.
Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business; it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.
Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.
November 1, 2018
When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.
A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.
Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.
While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.
Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.
But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.
I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.
November 1, 2018
Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.
TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.
ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.
November 1, 2018
Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.
One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.
1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.
2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!
3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.
Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.
Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.
November 1, 2018
Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.
You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.
But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles; from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.
THE NYC DIVE BAR
I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.
If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!
October 31, 2018
Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.
Stir together the following ingredients:
Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:
Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:
Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios, piped frosting, or sprinkled nutmeg.
August 13, 2018
I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.
A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”
Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?
My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?
If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.
How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.
My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do, instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible. There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.
Those are things everyone needs.
July 30, 2018
Doesn’t it always seems that when one thing in your life goes wrong, every other part of your experience seems to follow closely behind? You know what they say, “when it rains, it pours.” I have recently begun to wonder if it is me causing the ball to continue rolling downhill or if it is a natural occurrence that happens in the universe (mercury in retrograde?). Honestly, I think it is me. Here is why: Mindset
Sure, my theory isn’t exactly scientific, however; I think there is something to be said for the energy that you put into the world, and I think that the mind is where that energy originates. Think about it this way: if you could magically adjust your mindset when things are on the downslide, would it make a difference to your lifestyle, business, or relationships? Is it possible that your positive vibes would stop that negativity in its tracks and set you on the path to happier days? I think so.
So, when times are tough and you can’t seem to find a light at the end of the tunnel, how can you make a mindset change that will keep you positive and moving forward?
Gorgeous photography courtesy of Julia Trotti. Find her brilliant work here!
View more of our Creative Lifestyle posts in the archives!
July 9, 2018
Let’s be honest, checking your social media networks can sometimes put quite a damper one your self esteem. Even the most experienced and confident users are guilty of posting a gorgeous image of their work or a life event only to second guess it as soon as they see another accounts carefully curated and well thought out feed.
It is incredibly easy to fall into a comparison trap, becoming obsessed with how your life appears to others and overly conscious of every move you make online. And, even though your feed is be getting a good amount of followers or likes, you may still be concerned that it’s not as good as the others out there. We know, we know. We’ve all been there at one time or another.
So, what can you do when you love the thrill that you get from viewing and sharing posts with users from around the world, but you also get a pit in your stomach the minute you start scrolling through the perfection that is your follow list? These 5 tips will give you the ability to fulfill your social media craving while keeping your self esteem perfectly in tact.
Interested in learning how we curate, manage, and plan our own business and personal social media networks. Check out our online course here! We would love to see you there!
July 2, 2018
Honestly, it’s no secret that I am an ANTHROPOLOGIE groupie. I love everything about the retail conglomerate, from the cozy, indie feeling that I get when I walk into one of their stores to the pretty product images that they share on their website and social media networks.
Sure, Anthropologie can be slightly expensive, but you can also find some real gems mixed in with the big dollar items. One of my favorite categories is the Wellness Category, because who couldn’t use a bit of self love, right? I thought that since I have such a love affair with a few of these items, I would share them with you and hope that they bring you a bit of happiness as well.
If you love candles, Wicks and Stones Infinity Candles are right up your alley. These pretty and incredibly gorgeous smelling candles will not only brighten the mood in your personal space, but they also carry aromatherapy properties that will lift your mood and set you on a great mental path. Find it here.
Inner Beauty is always a top priority, and I am sure you have an abundance of it already living inside of you, but it doesn’t hurt to give yourself a boost here and there. These tasty, power packing dietary supplements will help you excel, whether that means it helps you sleep a bit better or glow more from the inside out. Get Glow here and Sleep here!
I don’t ever feel like I get enough water, and have found that having a pretty bottle that allows me to visually see my intake helps greatly. This gorgeousness from Longevity does just that. And if you believe in the power of crystals on your personal energy you can’t go wrong. Find the Turquoise Crystal Bottle here and the Pink Here.
I adore a great yoga session, but I also love the idea of looking at a pretty motif while I am in the middle of a sweat sesh. This Paisley Yoga Mat does just that and has an excellent non-slip texture that makes me feel safe to push my practice to the next level. Get this Paisley beauty here.
LUK, an Australian beauty company that combines lovely colors with whole foods and ingredients is all the rage in the natural beauty market. This Beautifood Lip Nourish delivers an incredible amount of moisture and ranges in from sheer to solid colors depending on your mood. Check out this life changing product here.
* All images courtesy or Anthropologie
June 19, 2018
Ugh, Starting Over… This past 12 months has been rough. I have talked about this couple of times on the blog, and it’s possible I am starting to sound a bit like I am dwelling, but the truth is, I am recovering.
Recovery is an interesting word. It implies a previous illness, or a lingering physical or emotional burden, but in reality, it is so many things. This has been twelve months of losing people that I love; the same twelve months in which I made a poor business decision that cost me thousands of dollars and still has me building and restructuring to make up for it. The year that I failed and lost over and over again. But the good news, is there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I can see it, and I am moving toward it. That, my friends, is my version of recovery.
I’ll be completely honest. This past year, for the first time in a very long time, my business wasn’t my number one priority. That was a hard pill to swallow, but my priorities had shifted, not because I wanted them to shift, but because sometimes that’s just how life is. It throws you a curve ball or two (or four) and you adjust.
Add to that the fact that my business is a central part of who I am. I love what I do, every single second of it. I actually think that is why I am still here, working in the industry. I love it so much that I absolutely refuse to quit. No matter what. The idea that my business was affected during this particularly less than desirable time of life truly keeps me up at night. But what can you do? You just go on. You failed, you lost. Keep moving.
The way I see it, sometimes starting over can be the most liberating experience you will ever have. A clean slate, a bit of fresh air, the room to create the future. Freedom. And in my opinion this is when it matters most, because you get to learn from your past and make choices that will effect your new normal. You know that saying, “if I knew then what I know now…”? Now you do! Use the lessons and the feelings to let go and move on to the next phase, whatever that means for you.
I am embracing the space and the room to breathe. My business will be stronger for it and I will have a new lesson to carry with me. Cheers to starting over.
Read more about Harper Maven Design and our advice for career gals here.
June 18, 2018
Each and every June, my husband and I venture off of the island of Manhattan and head to Florida for a romantic vacation, with just one small catch, there are 100 fellow Fletcher family members in attendance. Our yearly St. Augustine furlough is attended by any and every family member within a 10,000 mile radius. Yes, we even have a cousin who travels from china, and another from South Africa.
These family reunions are great, and I would absolutely adore joining this gorgeous fete every 2-3 years or so, but we do it every single year without reserve. Even more exciting, there are absolutely no surprises during this melee. For instance, day one kicks off at the Oasis Restaurant on A1A and then on to the condos where each day is structured into 2 beachfront sessions, morning and evening. During the afternoon break, we glide from condo to condo, visiting with family members, and likely playing board or card games while eating sandwiches on Wonder Bread. We even rent the exact same block of condos each year, meaning it is almost like our own little pied-a-tier.
Now look, I am definitely a big fan of the close, relentlessly loyal family ties that very few people have the opportunity to experience. I enthusiastically applaud this family for their ability to stay close, even as time has moved them further apart physically. I am incredibly in love with these people, and quite honestly, they could really teach the world a lesson on family relationships.
But, I also struggle a bit every year with the aspect of spending my week so “still”, so “remote” (and typically so “particularly bored”). Also, while I wholeheartedly love the structure and pre-planned vibe of the week, I myself could use a bit excitement here and there.
If you identify with this, whether with your own family or that of your spouses, know this: you are not alone, friend. I have learned a thing or two over the past 10 years of St. Augustine summers, so here are my top 8 rules for surviving (with your sanity in tact) a family reunion or vacation.
If you don’t feel like participating in every activity or gathering, gracefully bow out. Unless the specific event is really important to those in your party, just say no and take some time for you. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I take a bit of time in the bedroom to read or take a nice long walk down the beach.
There are most definitely people within the group that you have a really good time with, think similarly to, and throughly enjoy being around. Those are your tribe. Stick with them and there are most definitely good times to be had.
Listen, at the end of the day, these are people who will presumably be in your life forever. Don’t spend your time feeling bitter that you are there, or wishing that you were somewhere else. Make the choice that you are going to cultivate and care for these relationships that will be with you forever. Truly spend time enjoying and loving the people in your tribe. One of my very best friends in life is my husbands cousin, and I found and grew my relationship with her during these exact vacations. I can’t imagine my life without her, and we would likely not have become close if these soirees didn’t exist.
Don’t try to force the fun. Do your best to relax and enjoy the activities that you do decide to integrate yourself in.
Friends, expectations are for the birds. Do yourself a big favor, and don’t create extreme expectations for your getaway. You may envision nightly walks on the beach with your husband, or watching the sunrise with your sister in law, but the truth of the matter is, it may not happen. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to live up to your dream vacation during a large group excursion. Save it for the smaller, one on one trips, you’ll thank yourself later.
Decide what is best for you in terms of time spent with others and participating in activities, and honor that no matter what. Make decisions that will allow you to have a good time and enjoy your own time off and use the word no when needed. Trust me, other people will understand. Even my Mother in Law has been known to wander off to the bedroom and closes the door here and there throughout the week.
This is a big one for me. I gave up on waiting for the rest of the family to want to do something besides those that are typically scheduled and started asking people to go on outings or join in on “off the beaten path” activities. Since I began this practice I have been sailing with the close friend mentioned above, on a haunted house tour with another beautiful friend and cousin, and horseback riding on the beach at sunset. Stop waiting for an invitation and take advantage of your location and time off. Plan an adventure and take your crew.
There is nothing better than a blanket, scarf, or sacred item from home to make you feel better when you feel a bit homesick. I always bring my favorite bedding items with me, and during those times when I am overwhelmed or needing some space, I curl up in my home brought bundle and take a breather. It does wonders for ones mood.
Need some good reads for your next beach trip or family vacation? Take a peek at our Early Summer book picks here.
June 14, 2018
Here are a few of our favorite Book Binge reads! Enjoy, loves!
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a gorgeously written tale by Ruth Ware about a less than well off Londonite that finds out she may be the heir to an incredible family fortune. Add a bit of mystery about her newly acquired family members and her own place in the family, and you have a wonderful little mystery book with Agatha Christie overtures. Love it! Find it here.
The Favorite Sister has all the characteristics of a fun mystery mixed with the reality of a battle tested sister relationship and feminist power stance. Easy to read and incredibly poignant in today’s political climate, this thriller written by Jessica Knoll, is a favorite for sunbathing. Find this one here.
Kate Spade New York: SHE: Muses, Visionaries and Madcap Heroines. This book is a tribute to the beauty and color that Kate Spade brought to the world. Sharing her own favorite boss ladies allows us to dive into the mind of a true revolutionary artist and how her world famous work was inspired. Read this book here.
Library of Luminaries: Jane Austen: An Illustrated Biography has us absolutely swooning in delight over the cute illustrations and storybook style writing. Find out everything you need to know, and some things you didn’t, about OG girl boss Jane Austen in this easy to read, visually magic book. Of course, we are biased, we have a bit of a girl crush on Nina Cosford. Gah. See this book here.
Killing Monica is a great beach or park read by the author of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell. Funny yet incredibly well written, this book is pure chicklit, but it is also well thought out and “can’t put it down” entertaining. Find it here.
Everyday WaterColor Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days has made my Book Binge list at least 3 three times, mainly because it is a really great book for anyone looking to improve their Watercolor skills. Written by the gorgeous Jenna Rainey, founder of Mon Voir Design and a contributor to the Modern Calligraphy Summit, this book is full of awesome tips and easy to follow instructions. Check it out here.
Hand Lettering for Relaxation is a great book for artists of all hand lettering levels; however, it really hits the nail on the head when it comes to easy, stress reducing projects that will keep your mind off of the negative for hours on end. See it here.
Enjoy these reads and view more of our favorite books here.
June 5, 2018
I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least one Kate Spade wallet or bag in my rotation, so I was incredibly sad this morning to hear the news that the designer had passed away inside her Park Avenue apartment. While the investigation into her death is brand new, and other than the tidbits of information that are leaking though the press and gossip networks here in NYC, we do know one thing. Her death was more than likely suicide.
As a creative, I have a special place in my heart for those who “make” and “share” their work. Why? Because it can be torturously difficult to do, both internally and externally. We spend most of our days with our ideas, striving to find the best and most honest ways to turn them into tangible items. That transference from thought to finished product in itself is difficult, time consuming, and can be exhilarating, but also exhausting.
Add to that sharing our work with the world, opening ourselves up to praise, but also criticism. And, I am actually of the mind that we need the criticism. How would our work evolve if we didn’t have a reason to adjust it; to better it? It would remain stagnant and boring. Getting hard to hear feedback, over time, helps to build the creative backbone, and makes us think more about the way that we create and present what we are sharing.
But, as much as the criticism is needed, I think there is a also a solid fact that we must recognize. You never know what another person is going through or how they are feeling. Shouldn’t it be expected that we give feedback and criticism to those around us constructively? Should we not take care to be sensitive to the mental health of other individuals? In my opinion, this should be incredibly important.
More importantly, if you are feeling on the edge or are struggling mentally, please remember that better times will come. What you are going through right now, whether inflicted personally or by someone else, it will not be forever. You can get through it, and you will be better for it. Let yourself learn from your experiences and then use it for good. And please, please, don’t try to do it alone. Talk to someone, get help (HERE), and practice self care. This too, is important.
I leave with the words of Kate Spade herself; “Listen to others, but follow your own instincts.” I think we could all benefit from that advice.
May 30, 2018
Sometimes, the most valuable lightbulbs go off for me during a coaching or teaching session. Today was not different.
While coaching a client on redefining their purpose and resurfacing their passion, the subject of knowing your “why” arose. I am a huge proponent of the “why” in any life or business, I love to ask people what reason they have for doing the things they do. Finding your “why” is simple right? We all do things, all kinds of things, as a matter of fact. And surely we have reasons for all of them; otherwise, why would we do them?
But, I digress. The truth of the matter is that most of us rarely have a purpose for our actions, and most of the time when a business is in it’s infancy, there isn’t a super clear, easy to understand end goal. I have found that as time goes on, and the “why” develops further, the day to day of that business changes (as do some of the goals) for the better and it becomes more successful.
But, what is the “why”? For example, let’s pretend for a moment that you are a photographer. You may be saying to yourself, that your purpose is obvious. You take gorgeous pictures in order to help people protect their memories and experiences. That is wonderful, and we definitely need hard working, talented photographers in the world! But that isn’t really a “why”, it is a duty that you have to your business and to your client. It is “what you do” not “why you do it”. Why do you take the pictures? Why are they edited in the fashion that you edit them? Or why do you feel it is important to protect memories and experiences? What is the bigger push that keeps you moving in the right direction? Figure that out, and your already halfway across the bridge. The next step? Start working that into your daily life and into business interactions and decisions.
Me? My ultimate “why” that I want to help women grow and care for themselves, to give them the opportunity to be more self sufficient in life. I want to pass on any knowledge or skill that I have learned or developed that can teach others how to have better lifestyles and better more fulfilling businesses. This shines through in every (and there are a few) offshoot of my company. Everything that I do professionally does ultimately works toward that final goal.
It isn’t necessarily always about the business. When I started Harper Maven Design I was a graphic designer, and I still am. But, as I defined and adjusted my “why”, growth happened, and my world expanded. Discover your why, and the world is yours.
Interested in Business or Life Coaching one on ones or Group Series? Get in touch here. We would love to have you!
May 14, 2018
Romantic Photographer Shannon Lee Miller … Seriously, this girl has talent.
Lately, we have been absolutely swooning over the work of a number of creative and unique Fine Art Photographers, but one that has completely entranced us is Shannon Lee Miller.
Specializing in moody yet light filled wedding and portrait photography, Miller manages to capture moments in time using completely unique posing guidelines and edits, giving a bit of a break from the beaten path. Enjoy these beauties and check out Shannon Lee Miller here!
*All Images Courtesy of Shannon Lee Miller
See more of our Artists & Makers Series here!
May 11, 2018
If you have been to an Anthropolgie store at any time in the last 3 years, you have more than likely seen the beautifully curated collection of Emily Isabella products. In the shop and online, her work graces items such as porcelain dishes and trinket bowls, pretty stationery items, and home decor such as pillows, wallpaper, and bedding.
Head over to Amazon and you will find her gorgeous artwork in the form of travel focused Coloring Books, which are absolutely suitable for both children and adults, although some of the smaller lines and details may work best with colored pencils or markers. These pretty books may even reduce your anxiety and provide you with a bit of much needed relaxation in the form of easy art therapy. Who doesn’t love a good stress reducer? Take a look at the pretty doodles inside the
Iconic Paris Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Send and Frame, the Iconic San Francisco Coloring Book, the Iconic Washington D.C. Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Send and Frame , and the Iconic New York Coloring Book: 24 Sights to Fill In and Frame .
So, where does Isabella find her inspiration? How does she communicate and work with her clients? And of course, the million dollar question; how does she know that her work is the real deal and where does that confidence come from?
Emily says about her dream client, “I love a client who trusts my vision and allows me to be authentic. My best work happens when I’m given freedom and time to work from an honest perspective. ”
Asked about her typical schedule and work flow, Emily states ” I wake up, make a carafe of coffee and check my email. After I’m done with correspondence, I usually take an hour or two to work on a personal project. It’s important to me to balance client work and work I do for myself. I tackle client work for the rest of the day with short breaks throughout the day for a picnic lunch outside or maybe a short walk in the woods. “
Hygee & West asked Isabella about her color palette and her incredibly distinct patterns and illustrations (once you have seen her work, you will forever recognize it). Her awesome response: “I have a very clear idea of who I am and what I like and I do my best to stay true to myself in my work and personal life. This manifests itself in the way I dress, the colors I choose for my home, and the way I choose to live. Inspiration for my work comes directly from my experiences. It’s a pretty simple equation of producing work that appeals to myself and in turn, I think I attract people who have similar tastes. I think those people likes things that are feminine yet classic, soft but with a bit of a wonky edge. They are spirited, playful, and and aren’t afraid to take risks.
We think that this accurately sums up what makes Emily Isabella such a force in the art world in this wonderful era of women entrepreneurs. Her work has us swooning and we just can’t get enough.
In a creative rut when it comes to all things outside of your work? We understand and we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our complete collection of Creative Lifestyle Posts here.
May 9, 2018
Create the life you want? I know, this is a bit of a long read; trust me, if you are here, you need to hear this. But, before you get too far down the page, ask yourself these two questions: What do you want? Why haven’t you gotten it?
For me, it has always been teaching, mentoring, speaking, and encouraging. I am a “helper” almost to a fault, and don’t feel that I am the very best me that I can be unless I am doing something productive that will benefit or change the lives of someone else. My plan was always to grow my business to the best of my ability, to develop a bit of a tribe, and to learn and discover the lessons that I needed to learn that would allow me to pass the knowledge on to other creative entrepreneurs.
Four years into my business, I have had a total of 1 speaking engagement, 2 podcast interviews and a handful of print features, but none of these have made me happily giddy or have made me feel that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do (is this a thing?) So after years and years of “waiting for the invitation” I decided to take matters into my own hands and to CREATE the engagements and events that I yearned for in my business life. That path eventually became The Art Of, and the amount of passion that I feel for my work has grown exponentially. I love everything about it. Business ownership is a choice, and if you are making the decision to jump in feet first, why are you also waiting on invitations to shape your own reality?
You may be trying to decide how this translates into your own life, business or aspirations. Maybe you are an Artist, Calligrapher, or Wedding pro who wants to speak and instruct at Workshops for business owners and creatives, but you aren’t exactly swimming in options. Our solution, CREATE that Workshop and invite others that YOU want to collaborate with personally. Or possibly you have mentally created and searched for a specific tool, program, or product that will greatly increase your skills and productivity, but it doesn’t seem to be out there. MAKE it exist! You can create that exact tool, program or product, you just have to get out there and do it.
I have a good friend who constantly uses the excuse “I am not sure how to do that,” anytime that he feels at all uncomfortable or out of place in a situation. It drives me crazy, but I think this is a solid reason that a lot of people use to not do something. The truth is, nobody starts out knowing what they are doing. We are all, honestly, just out there doing the best we can. But for some people that means putting themselves out there and figuring it out, while for others it simply means they don’t feel that they have the resources or knowledge so they give up. I am here to tell you, friends, giving up should not be a thing.
Don’t give up, Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable, and most of all Don’t wait for the invitation. I promise you WILL figure it out.
In a creative rut when it comes to all things outside of your work? We understand and we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our complete collection of Creative Lifestyle Posts here.
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