Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 year in review & goal planning

Well, 2015 feels good so far.  I always look forward to the holidays.  I start getting excited, starting with Halloween, when I turn my front lawn into a graveyard.  I'm itching to decorate our home for Christmas by November (so sorry about that, Thanksgiving, you never get any recognition...), and by New Years Eve I'm reflecting, soul searching, evaluating, planning strategizing for the new year.  I'm always excited for what the new year will bring and how I will grow both personally and professionally.  2014 was mostly a year of strategic planning for me.  I didn't take on quite as many clients as I normally due and I didn't plan as many photo shoots as I normally would.  A high-risk pregnancy kept me off my feet and on the couch which was hard for my go-go-go do-do-do personality, but it gave me a lot of time to think and plan for the future of my company.

Here's how I plan and evaluate for my future.

Pop the champagne, baby, let's celebrate!  I can easily get caught up in the negative, so I usually need to see the a visual of the great things I've done throughout the year.  I have to take time to reflect and give myself a high five for all the awesome things I accomplished.  It's always a "pinch me!" moment because really?  Did I do this?!  WOW!

In 2014, I: Designed a new personalized rubber stamp collection, designed a new water color wedding collection + worked with my favorite people + was featured on Style Me Pretty, worked with a lot of amazing brides, was interviewed by Pretty Living PR, collaborated on two additional photo shoots, my She Leaves a Little Sparkle Wherever She Goes™ print went viral thanks to Better Homes and Garden, and met sweet Charlotte Mae.

I also spent time what didn't work for me over the last year.  What caused the most amount of stress?  What can I improve on?  What can be streamlined or eliminated?  I'm constantly refining my process and streamlining to make my day flow seamlessly, my work flow more efficiently, and my home-work life more balanced.

Some things in 2014 that could have been improved upon:
Time management (having a rough time balancing family + business), working late and on weekends, inconsistent marketing strategy, spending time designing products that weren't the core and heart of my business, not saying yes to a few projects that spoke to my heart (like a speaking engagement that I was dying to do, but didn't think I could pull off).   I also started to notice a really, really big trend:  My company name included the word 'Printables' which was really starting to confuse my wedding clients since I exclusively offered printed wedding invitation suites.

2015 started off with a bang.  Before 2014 came to a close, I was had identified all my business goals and started putting a lot of them into effect.  This part came pretty easy though I did have to spend some time bouncing ideas off a friend and my husband.  I had to refine my goals and make sure they were attainable, and then it was time to prioritize:  The heart and soul of our company focuses on weddings, which means it's time to retire a lot of our non-wedding stationery from Etsy (but it's a great seller on other sites, like Zazzle), and it's time to create a sister company to focus solely on our wedding paper goods (but more on that later!). 

How do you identify strengths and weaknesses?  How do you implement changes?  

Monday, December 15, 2014

DIY candy bar 101 with draft beer jelly belly jelly beans

DIY Mixology-Style Candy Buffet
Sometimes the stress and chaos of wedding planning can cause you to stomp your feet & shout, I just want to be a kid again! But then you think, well, being an adult does have its advantages, like happy hour & cocktail parties & brunch (sensing a theme?). You can’t give that up! 

The good news is that you don’t have to. 2015 is all about being uniquely you—incorporating your (and your fiancĂ©’s) favorite things into your wedding reception. So, why not channel your inner kid and your knack of mixology when you tie the knot?There’s no better way to blend your “Miss” past with your “Mrs.” future than with a creative DIY candy buffet.

DIY Candy Buffet How-To
This isn’t your average candy buffet. To stand out on your wedding day, why not add a twist that everyone from your father-in-law to your maid of honor will be talking about for years to come? It’s simple, affordable, & tasty.

All you need is a table, jars or containers of your choice in various sizes (I recommend something made of glass, like these cute vintage glass candy holders you’d see in a soda shop), a few candy scoops, bags that the guests will place their candy in (this can be found easily at any craft store) & Jelly Belly candy. That’s right, jelly beans. These sugary bite-sized treats not only come in the flavors of your youth, but they also offer trendy yet tasty versions like Draft Beer! 

Before the Big Day
What Flavors Should I Order?
In order to achieve the coolest candy-corpia around, order Draft Beer. With this one flavor, the combinations are endless. This alcohol-free bean has the crisp and refreshing taste of your favorite brew from the tap but also blends seamlessly with other flavors. 

 Here are a few that marry perfectly with a Draft Beer jelly beans:
2 Draft Beer + 1 Peach = Beer Sangria
2 Draft Beer + 1 Lemon Lime = Shandy
2 Draft Beer + 1 Juicy Pea = Summery Hard Cider
2 Draft Beer + 1 Red Apple = Crisp Hard Cider
2 Draft Beer + 1 Chocolate Pudding = Chocolate Stout
2 Draft Beer + 1 Orange Sherbet = Orange Wheat Beer

How Much Should I Order?
You’ve mailed the save-the-dates and picked out the invitations. Now is the time to order your Jelly Belly candy. The beauty of Jelly Belly as opposed to other candies is that the website is a one-stop-shop. You don’t need to drive through the Polar Vortex to a million grocery stores. There’s a large selection available online, & you can get an assortment of quantities all the way up to ten pounds per flavor! A really cool thing about a candy buffet is that you don’t have to be exact in your estimation. Unlike, say, cupcakes or cookies, you can guesstimate based on your RSVPs and your budget. Some people may have only a small handful, while the flower girl might eat a little more. To give you a rough idea, there are 400 jelly beans in one pound. How many do you normally eat? Multiply that by the number of guests.

Setting Up
- Choose a tablecloth that goes with your color scheme or be even more creative—try layered newspaper if you’re having a literary wedding or simple kraft paper to add a rustic element. Our favorite look is a plain white table, which lets the rainbow-colored jelly beans speak for themselves.
- Set up the jars or containers in a staggered manner. Be creative here. There’s no wrong way!
- Add stickers to your containers describing each flavor (or keeping your guests guessing can also be really fun).
-Pour the jelly beans into their corresponding containers, leaving a few inches at the top and stick the scoops in the beans.

Pair with Cocktails
Creating your own signature drinks adds a swanky vibe to your wedding, but if you really want to knock your guests’ socks off, try signature drinks that pair perfectly with your Jelly Belly buffet. Here are some suggestions:
2 Draft Beer + 1 Peach = Beer Sangria 
2 Draft Beer + 1 Lemon Lime = Shandy 
2 Draft Beer + 1 Juicy Pea = Summery Hard Cider 
2 Draft Beer + 1 Red Apple = Crisp Hard Cider 
2 Draft Beer + 1 Chocolate Pudding = Chocolate Stout
 2 Draft Beer + 1 Orange Sherbet = Orange Wheat Beer

Now, wasn’t that easy? A DIY candy buffet is the sweetest way to end the sweetest day.

Want some free goodies?  Download our jar labels, favor bar tags and bar sign!  Free for personal use only.

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 things I can't design without

Every morning, I wake up, brush my teeth and fire up my Keurig.  Before I had a Keurig, it was my coffee pot.  And just like that's become such a huge part of my morning ritual, I realized that I have a lot of ingrained design habits.  As a designer, there are so many things in my day to day routine that I just can't live without.  Here's a look at the top ten most helpful things that keep my on task and fuel my creativity on a daily basis.

1.  My Computer
It goes without saying that I couldn't even create without my computer.  I'm pretty lucky and have a husband who knows what he's doing.  He custom built mine a in 2012 so it's fairly new and has an incredible graphics card & a ton of memory, so she runs fast and beautifully.  I'm upgrading my screen this Black Friday to a 28" monitor, and I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.  Nerd status, anyone?

2. Adobe Creative Suite
I first used Photoshop and Illustrator in 1999, and couldn't get enough of the products.  From there, I used Dreamweaver, Frash, Acrobat, Fireworks and many other programs during my college career.  I don't know how a professional designer would get anything done without the use of Adobe CS. 

3. Coffee/Tea
Just call me Rory Gilmore.  Coffee is such a huge part of who I am, all day long.  My husband doesn't know how someone can drink so much coffee and sleep so well at night.  My mom is the only other person I know who drinks more coffee than me!  I'm a huge can of CoffeeMate's Sweet Italian Cream creamer, and if you know me then you know if I'm not drinking coffee I've got a Chai Tea Latte in my hands. 

4. Spotify
I absolutely cannot work unless I've got background noise.  If there is silence, I am distracted.  Contradictory, don't you think?   My routine looks like this:  Coffee in hand, computer fired up, Spotify turned on, Illustrator opened. 

I like all kinds of music, but I am the most productive to music that has a quick beat.  I mostly work to Drake, AFI, The Weeknd, The Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters. 

5. My Planner
I'm such a Type A person and strive on organization.  My husband would tell you that I make lists of lists, then color code them.  I will neither confirm nor deny.

Truthfully, though, I do strive on organization and it's key to running a business.  I need to know what bills need to be paid when, when conference calls are scheduled, what my design schedule looks like, and what my blogging schedule looks like.  A planner is an absolute must.

6. Pinterest
I don't know how I lived before Pinterest was invented.  I'm such a visual person, and to have this curated inspiration in front of me is so helpful.  I love creating pinboards with my clients when working on a project together.  It helps me get a sense of their style, color ideas and help me pull all their ideas together to create an invitation suite that reflects their personalities.  I can easily reference our Pin Boards during the design process.

7. An Organized Desktop
I work with a lot of files every day, so it doesn't take long for my Desktop to get cluttered.  I organize my desktop in thirds:  I have a column for personal files, a column for business files, and a column for programs.  Within each folder I further organize by completed files, templates, orders, drafts, and so on.  It's a system that works for me, and I am so used to this system that I could find a file with my eyes closed. 

8. Gmail for Business ( and Boomerang)
I conduct 95% of my business online, so it's important that I have a reliable email provider.  Gmail is so user friendly!  I integrate with Boomerag and schedule emails, too,  which is a huge convenience. 

9. My Peers
Sometimes I really need to bounce ideas off a friend who gets it.  Sometimes I'm stuck on an idea and need someone to tell me I'm crazy or that an idea can really work.  Having a close friend in the industry is key - we are there for each other to bounce ideas off of one another, talk strategies, and brainstorm.  Some of my best ideas have come to fruiting because of these brainstorming sessions. 

For me, that's Phebe of Making Me Events.  For years, Phebe has been me go-to-gal for brainstorming sessions.  We both bounce ideas off one another, talk late into the night, randomly text one another & send voice messages and keep each other in check.  Believe me, you need someone to make you laugh at 2am and keep you sane! 

10.A Clean Workspace
My mom would probably disagree with you -- after all, she knows what my bedroom looked like in high school! - but I absolutely cannot work surrounded by chaos.  I have to clean my desk every morning before I get started with my work.  I always light a candle, too.  My favorite scent is Yankee Candle's Vanilla Icing! 

What about you? What are some things you can't work without?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas Party Favors

Nothing says “Christmas party” more than the fun favors your guests get when they leave.  Here are 5 fun and festive options that your holiday guests will love. 
If you've got a hard nut to crack, give them these fun Nutcracker mini crackers for a jolly good time.
Holiday Chocolate Covered Oreo Pop - Give guests something to "mmm" about at your next holiday party thanks to holiday chocolate covered Oreo cookie pops!

 Everyone loves these delicious personalized holiday cookie favor bags decorated with your special message at your next party. 
Personalized Holiday Vintage Milk Jars - Add a vintage feel to your holiday party this year with help from these personalized vintage milk jars.  

Bottle some holiday memories with personalized bottle stoppers with epoxy dome.

beat the holiday rush - 20% off through 11.26

Here's the fine details

We love a good deal, and we love good design.  We think your holidays should be full of cheer and delight. That's why we designed our 2014 Holiday collection with you in mind:  I wanted to showcase full photos, multiple photos and personalized greetings with trendy, modern designs.  The best part?  Affordable printing.  I'm in love with our 130# matte stock and know that you will, too.  Now, when you order a minimum of 25 cards, you can enjoy 20% off other products in our shop -- like our custom stamps, which happen to make wonderful gifts.
PS:  Our stamps and our holiday cards ship separately!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

INSPIRATION: peach watercolor wedding

Warm pinks, dull hues of peach, yellow, green and bright gold all come together to produce this delicious palette.

I truly hope that this amazing private beach photo shoot inspires you.  My darling friend Phebe of Making Me Events, the designer and stylist of this event, told Style Me Pretty 
that she was always mesmerized at the simplicity of the sun setting and the many gorgeous colors it provides independently and all at once.

Phebe and I were brainstorming about a location for this shoot, and I said, "What about a beach?  Is that crazy?"  But it wasn't, and it worked.  Given the location, Phebe wanted to play on the soft and gentle breeze and decided to incorporate chair covers made with the most delicate fabric she could find.  Phebe chose gold faceted geometric terrariums instead of traditional vases, a to-die-for handmade sequin table number (you can buy those here), and shadow boxes to hold the escort cards. 

The result of our collaborative effort?  The most explosive splash of watercolor with movement, whimsy and glam.  

Photography: Ruth Eileen | Event Design: Making Me Events | Floral Design: 1956 Blooms | Stationery: Blush Printables | Bridal Boutique: Flair Boston | DIY Cake: Making Me Events | Hair & Makeup : Manda Of MandaMonium | Linens: Myreidas Linens | Sequin Table Number: Making Me Events -Etsy Shop | Venue: Private Beach