Today marks our tenth anniversary in business. I fell really lucky that I get to create every day for our clients: brides, grooms, moms, small business owners, large corporate clients, vendors, friends, family, and even pets.
Being a creative entrepreneur is a challenge I love figuring out. When I got started, I thought I would just create invitations and people would buy them. And, in a sense, that is the simple truth about business. But what I’ve found to be even more fascinating is figuring out marketing, developing systems, finding my creative voice, brainstorming new product ideas, discovering how to attract press, production, hiring photographers and other vendors, working with coaches, negotiating vendor pricing, walking (and hopefully exhibiting in in 2016) the gift and stationery shows, teaching workshops and classes, and figuring out new avenues of distribution.
As the year comes to a close, I’m working on a new site, new products, and new ready made invitations. And, the best way for these to work for our clients’ seamlessly.
Thank you for your support over these last ten years!
This last six weeks have been a whirlwind of production: press checking, lining, tying, stuffing, wax sealing. Just in the last 5 days, my fantastic assistant Cara and I got 6 HUGE jobs out the door. I can’t wait to share them with you! (but let’s let their guests receive them first)
This week I’m out of the office, road tripping again, this time to North Carolina, where we’ll visit family from the west to the beach.
What do lining envelopes and road trips have in common? Podcasts! At least for me. They are the perfect thing to listen to when your mind is not otherwise engaged. I’m completely addicted. It’s become sort of a problem- my phone can’t hold anymore- as this is by far my favorite way to learn about EVERYTHING, from business to spanish; health to marketing. Let me share my favorites, in order of discovery. (and , that’s the thing with podcasts, as you listen, you get exposed to more, as many are interview style. Someone interesting gets interviewed, and POOF, you have another podcast to listen to).
My first love: THIS AMERICAN LIFE. This one has it’s own app, which is great- you can access every show since their inception 20 years ago. This should be grouped with it’s NPR sisters, Fresh Air, of course, great interviews, and Invisibilia, another interesting story telling podcast.
Then, probably the podcasts I look most forward to, and when they are all in season, come out on Thursdays. After The Jump is Grace Bonney of Design Sponge, and is filled with interviews and great information about being a small business owner. You will definitely fall down a rabbit hole once you find her on Heritage Radio. This was really the podcast that started my current obsession, as it introduced me to The Lively Show last spring. The Lively Show is a show really close to my heart. You will Love Jess Lively! Her show has changed my life. You must listen. Another Jessica, this one Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant, has fantastic, real life interviews with influencers on One Part Podcast, and you will love her style! Check her out.
Great Business podcasts, with relatable hosts: Being Boss, Finely Crafted, and Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn. Pat is one smart guy.
Insightful podcasts: The One you Feed, Happier with Gretchin Rubin, and Dear Sugar.
I do have MANY more favorites, but I have to get on the road! Tell me some you like- I’m always looking for more. If you’re not following me on instagram, please head over there and follow along while we’re on the road.
There’s a lot of talk about people’s morning routines, from entrepreneurs, CEO’s and beloved business and thought leaders out there. Statistics show that successful people get up three hours before work, run miles, write for hours, whatever it is that helps hone their craft. With all the talk about morning routines, I began to wonder if my morning measured up. I should step it up, I thought. So… I added five minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of yoga, and 10 minutes of reading to my already early wake up call of 6:20. I was getting up at 5:45 and it was working out for a few weeks. It felt intentional and aligned and like I started the day out right. Until it didn’t. Recently, I stopped the reading, the meditation, because it felt forced, rushed, and busy, when my mornings used to be quiet and peaceful.
This past year, I’ve been following Jess Lively, a fantastic thought leader who teaches the art of living from your values. (who, incidentally, has a one of those regimented morning routine as mentioned above) As I get deeper in the work, I realize how the value of Simplicity has an overarching theme in my life. It’s certainly evident in my design work. It makes me feel peaceful at home to have a quiet, clean space. Why can’t it have a place in my brain, too? I tend to overcomplicate things- you know the feeling: brain gets going on overdrive, start comparing yourself to others, feel less than. That’s when I realized I have always had a morning routine, and it consists of three things that don’t need to be mapped out in exactement; they don’t need a time frame, or the rigidity of a schedule:
I usually wake up pretty naturally at a bit before 6:00, as I do need to make sure my two boys make it to school on time. (Max gets up at 6:20) Alarm is set for 6:20. (As a rule, I try to avoid looking at my phone until I get to work- sometimes, I sneak a look at Instagram, but usually not)
Coffee is first order of the day- always. I’ve been using a stovetop espresso maker for years- since college I think. I love the Intelligentsia Analog Espresso, and always buy it at The Coffee Studio in Andersonville. Because they’re nice there and grind it for me.
While it’s boiling, I feed this guy.
Then I sit here and drink my coffee. I usually sit here for about 10 minutes, and reflect, by either just sitting and thinking, or writing in my journal. It may be just a few sentences, a thought, but I try to write every day.
While I’m making coffee number two, I have a glass of water with lemon and take my vitamin D. Lemon for the alkaline and Vitamin C, and D for the deficiency I learned I had last year.
I’ve been practicing yoga for as long as I’ve been drinking coffee, and have recently added three sun salutations to my morning- basically just to stretch, and add a little time for intention, as it helps me focus on three things I might want to tackle that day. More, I’ve learned is a bit overwhelming. If you’d like to learn more about my three, and how I organize my work day, please see an article I wrote on The Forth blog last year.
Then, the boys are getting up, and it’s time for making lunches, helping with breakfast, and getting ready. I love the 30 minutes or so that I get every morning by myself, before the day gets going. Max leaves for the el at 7:00, and Charlie and I leave at 8:00, to drop him off at school. Then, I’m in the office, which is just few blocks from Charlie’s school, at 8:30.
Maybe for some who are working on discipline, a strict regimen would be beneficial, but for me it was eating into a time in my day that had always felt peaceful until I started changing it.
I love May Day. This celebration of spring has it’s roots in Roman times, and many European countries celebrate the first day of spring with May Pole dances, music, and my favorite, the May Day Basket. Left anonymously on your neighbors’ front door, this sweet gesture is a thoughtful, simple way to spread good cheer. That’s pretty much why I embrace it, along with being to share a fun tradition with my boys. A May day basket can be put together very easily, with a few sprigs of flowers to fill it out.
All you need is
–a few sheets of 8.5×11 cardstock
Tip: Use construction paper, or download our new marble design (below), and print out at home.
Roll the cardstock into a cone and staple the bottom to prevent the flowers from slipping through.
staple the sides in a couple places to hold.
Then, cut a length of ribbon and staple to each side. (outside with a long tail would be pretty too!)
Fill with your favorite bloom…
..and spread the love!
And… if you want to use our new marble design (like we did!) download it right here. Sized to print out on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper:
Excited to announce that I will be at Madewell in Chicago, Sunday May 3rd, from 11am-1pm, to introduce new paper products and designs! So, come out, shop, sip, snack, enjoy 20% off orders over $125, and pick up a Mother’s Day gift. (Mother’s day is May 10th!) Hope to see you there!
I don’t need to tell you about winter fatigue. If you live in pretty much ALL of the US, you’re feeling it right about now. (please- no comments from my home state of California- rain doesn’t count)
Hopeful is the best way to describe going in to March. There is a very slight chance that temperatures could get up into the 40s, and I know we would all be shedding our down coats if that miracle were to happen. But until then, there are a few things I like to do to awaken my senses without leaving the country. (although leaving the country is also a fantastic idea)
For only $25 a week, my friends over at FLEUR (check out their new shop in Logan Square!) will arrange spring blooms to freshen up the inside of your home or office. I can’t think of a better way to beat the winter blues than by bringing in an abundance of color and scent inside. Check out their instagram feed for a (free) visual feast.
Photo Courtesy of Fleur
There’s nothing like your sense of smell to take you on a journey- either back in time to an outdoor garden you once strolled with your grandmother, the scent of roses surrounding you while her papery skin held your hand tight, or that yoga retreat with the ginger garden and fresh hemp smoothies that formed a connection with the loveliest ladies you ever met. Take that trip with a gorgeously packaged and small batch Brooklyn-made Perfume, Oil, or Candle with MCMC Fragrances. Anne and Katie formulate and bottle each carefully crafted natural perfume and oil in their Brooklyn studio.
Photo Courtesy of MCMC Fragrances
What about winter citrus doesn’t make your taste buds pop a bit? I love to squeeze lemon in my water in winter, for that dose of vitamin c and a tangy jolt. But my favorite winter citrus, the grapefruit, is not only super juicy and in season right now, adding this to a salad can be the lovely wake up your taste buds are looking for. Check out this citrus salad recipe from JOY THE BAKER. Her site (and podcast) are super fun and EVERYTHNG I’ve made has been so good! Spicy pumpkin seeds shown here from her site too.
Scrub off the old and get ready to show your skin. I love the scrubs over at Bliss, and have also had my eye on one of the packages at the Langham, Chicago’s Chuan Spa. I can’t think of a better way to spend a dreary Chicago afternoon.
What about the sound of a shaker mixing natural garden fresh ingredients together for a perfectly crafted cocktail? (is that a stretch? I think not) If you want to know what I’m talking about, go visit my second favorite bartender, KYLE at Blackbird. He’s the head bartender/amazing cocktail crafter over there. I adapted his Romeo and Juliet when he headed up the cocktails at the Violet Hour, and this summery rose water margarita is my favorite cocktail ever.
Photo by Julia Franzosa
I never promised you a Rose Garnish
4 oz. Silver Tequila ( I like Milagro)
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. of Agave or simple syrup
6 drops of rose water
couple dashes of bitters
mint and rose petals for garnish
shake with ice and serve
top with one more drop of rose water and bitters
Have you ever received one of these blank response cards in a wedding invitation, and wondered, What am I supposed to write on this RSVP card? I found the answer for you in the sweetest children’s book published in 1962.
I’ve talked about Ex Libris before, a company from Oregon that takes old books and repurposes them as journals, leaving some of the original pages in with the blank journal pages…. but I was going through my old work journals (which is always interesting, finding to do lists, past challenges, etc) and never noticed that one of the journals I wrote in was a charming children’s book instructing young scribes the art of formal letter writing. How could I have never noticed this? (Probably working) The book, published in 1962, Dear Dragon, is so sweet, and helpful.
Of course, it’s pretty tongue and cheek now… A great 2015 response could be:
We are so excited to attend your wedding this summer! Can’t wait to celebrate, Marisa and Peter.
Thank you for thinking of us. Unfortunately, we are unable to attend your wedding in September, and wish you so much happiness. Congratulations, Marisa and Peter.
What do you think – do you prefer writing a personal note, or checking a box saying you will attend?
…To send, gram, email, or print and cut and slip under the door of that cute guy or gal down the hall. (printable version in the link below!)
If you’re looking for a small token of affection for that special someone (your mom, children, best friend, teacher, co-workers totally count!) in your life, download this card, print and cut out along the crop marks and send over a hand painted Valentine! Or just email it like I’m doing
Hope you have a great weekend. If you’re in Chicago, you should totally get a Heart shaped deep dish pizza.
Here’s the link to download a high resolution file for printing! (They will fit in an A2 envelope)
There was all sorts of wonderful surrounding Ghienhel and Jonanthan’s rooftop wedding at the Peninsula this May, which was planned by my friends at Estera Events, (which was just named in the top 63 planners in the US by Martha Stewart!) The vendors involved with this wedding were all so committed to executing their vision for a glamorous, classic wedding.
In 2014, their wedding was posted on my absolute favorite wedding blog, Snippet and Ink:
Gorgeous Pink Coupe Champagne Tower by Nimble Well.
Their Wedding Backdrop, designed by another fantastic vendor, Kehoe Designs, was named in the top 15 of 2014 by Snippet and Ink.
Images above shot by Husar Photography.
Then, just this month, their wedding was featured in print over on CS Brides!
This was a true creative collaboration with G and J – which is my favorite way to work with a couple. We both contributed to the process by communicating, being open to trying out ideas, and then they trusted me to bring it all together in the end. You can see the process of creating their invitations in an earlier post- truly one of my favorites of the year!
Invitation Photo by Julia Franzosa:
I posted this photo last year at this time on Instagram from Cate Blanchett. It’s from the January 2014 issue of the American Vogue, and I feel it needs repeating. It must be this time of the year that prompts these feelings in me, the self doubt comes creeping in, that comes with the territory of creating things for hire. Where am I going? What’s the next step? Is my point of view clear? How do I grow my business in a smart way? This sort of helps me remember how normal it is to feel this way. It’s also a gentle reminder to reach out. To embrace those around me who are also tackling solo entrepreneurship. What a wonderful reminder last week at the Forth holiday party. Being part of a larger group of creative people is SO good. So, maybe the holidays are that time, things slow down and speed up at the same time, we over-indulge, all sorts of things crop up from spending time with or apart from family, but just remembering we are not alone just helps. And if you are truly alone, I hope that you have the courage to reach out this time of year. Just getting out of the house, and attending a holiday service, or a book reading (I was shocked and excited for the women owners of women and children first– their store was packed last night!), or smiling at the person next to you, can be a great start to connecting with someone this holiday season.