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the move, the franklins pendants, the shop

August 31st, 2010   |   LifeStyle

Hello! My, has it been a while! I am so thankful to have had Heidi and Kelsey guest writing while I have been preparing for this move. They will continue to post until I am settled in next week.

As for my life lately… I officially begin moving my stuff into my new apartment tomorrow morning. Over the past week or two I’ve been busy preparing for the move, buying new furniture, decorating the space over and over in my head, and enjoying the last few weeks living with Erwin. It has been one heck of an emotional roller coaster, let me tell you. Sleeping has become a relatively distant memory. But I’ve had the most amazing support system of friends to help me privately through the hard (and extremely hard) parts. Prayer and meditation have helped as well.

I have a few little updates to fill you in on the shop and the apartment transformation:

The Jess LC  Update: Franklin Pendants Arrived! + Shop Temporary Closing

Franklin Pendants

The new Franklin pendants arrived! I’m thrilled to say that you can now go on and order your pendant with the corrected braille. And though the whole misspelling ordeal was not ideal, these new pedants were worth the wait. We now have them Palladium plated (they are still vermeil [gold coated sterling silver], but Palladium is a bit fancier than nickle-plating) and our guys did a great job with these new pieces.

Fall Samples + Photoshoot

We also got our fall pendants in, and they are awesome. I can’t wait to shoot the lookbook on September, 11th. A certain super secret fashion blogger is flying in from Texas with her husband to model for the shoot!

Temporary Shop Closing

And during the move, I am “closing the shop” so that I can get everything situated properly. Which means orders placed between now and Labor Day will be filled next week after Tuesday.

Apartment Transformation

Literally three hours ago after a morning run walk with my friend Cathy (hi, Cathy!), I came back to my apartment building to find this little guy sitting on the curb. Up to this point, I have been unable to find the perfect bedside table for the new place, and I’d decided to just move in and wait until I found the right size/shape. But this over sized nightstand had my name all over it for the right price: FREE. I’ve been pining after the glamorous white and gold campaign dressers I’ve seen in the pages of Lonny and this puppy is going to get a head to toe makeover! To be continued…

In the meantime, this is what my bedroom looks like currently. Pretty glam, right? I kid, I kid. These few pieces will be making their way to my new place bright and early tomorrow. In the meantime, sleeping on the ground is kind of odd.

I should also mention that I’ve turned the apartment into an Ikea Lack factory over the past two days. After a huge blowout trip to Ikea on Sunday with a friend, I have been building bookshelves faster than you can imagine. I promise, they all will should fit in the new place. And they will should look amazing.

Phew. I’m exhausted. I think it’s time for a nap.

And again, thanks for sending the kind thoughts my way; I have soaked every single one in and I can feel the grace.

guest post: think happy, be happy

August 30th, 2010   |   Life

Can I please just start off by saying that I’m terribly nervous to be here?  I’m kind of equating Jess letting me guest blog for today to that idiot “pants on the ground” guy on American Idol.  Not talented, but should probably be shown to America in order to be mocked continuously.  Hopefully I will crush this prospect and wow all of you amazing followers with wit, charm, and maybe even more guest posts in the future!

Now that we are familiar with one another, why don’t I tell you why I’m here?  I live in Washington, DC and I am a twenty-something who loves food and fashion but on a budget.  Wanna be friends? Great!  I reached out to Jess not only because I read her blog religiously but also because I think I could offer some advice on MMLing from another perspective.  I’d like to think I’m a combination of Jess and Heidi; I don’t like clutter but I love buying pretty things (Jess) and I love to love myself but sometimes I forget to (Heidi).

I think what I would like to write about is the dos and don’ts of making yourself smile.  Everyday.

Do:

  • Have confidence in your abilities
  • Give yourself space to take breaks every now and then
  • Start your to-do list with a task you’ve already done
  • Begin thinking about lunch at 9:35 A.M
  • Be truthful about your own feelings. If you are happy, acknowledge the joy. If you are sad, acknowledge the sorrow
  • Put cheese on top of any meal, it just makes it better

Don’t

  • Question your abilities- if you haven’t noticed, you rock.
  • Be afraid of not knowing the answer, the future, or all of the above
  • Worry about the number on the scale- worry if you look too freakin’ gorgeous for work
  • Try to please everyone, you will always be disappointed
  • Burn the popcorn
  • Put yourself down.  Ever.

These are just the start of some things that I think are so important to remind yourself of today.  We all have busy schedules, invitations, meetings, stressful relationships; sometimes it’s hard to balance and focus.  Hey, it’s OK!  Delegate the tasks that you can, I know you’re Superwoman but didn’t you know that’s why they gave her a cape?  So she can fly over all of her tasks and to-dos and look at the big picture from above. Everything will get done.  If you read MML then I know you already take pride in your work and worry about disappointing others from time to time.  Remember, worry causes wrinkles and let’s be honest, you can dress up or dress down Jess LC‘s collection, but do you really want to do it with worry lines?  Exactly.  Smile.

Like Kelsey?  You can find also find her at thecapitalbarbie.blogspot.com

piper’s dream report: week fifteen

August 27th, 2010   |   Life

Hi everyone!  I’m starting with a bang – I got the logo designs!!  It was like Christmas morning when I opened that email to see the first round of logos.  All the ideas and possibilities!  Oh.My.God…all the ideas and possibilities!  I truly had no idea how difficult this would end up being.  And I wish right now that I was handling things more gracefully.  I don’t know if it’s the realization that I’m actually doing this or that I’m getting closer and closer to opening the store or that it’s now decision time….but I’m now at a level 10 freak out!  For awhile, I was just barely keeping up with my to-do list.  Now that I’m down to about 6-7 weeks until opening, I am 100% completely & utterly swamped – and since it doesn’t look like my magic genie is about to show up anytime soon, I’m not sure how I’m going to get everything done.  How is it possible that my to-do list is growing?  And even worse?  A new fear has crept up on me…the fear of expectation.

It’s been so wonderful to feel the support from everyone and know that you’re behind me.  At the same time when I see “can’t wait to see your logo” or “can’t wait to start shopping”, although it completely warms my heart, in creep the doubts…what ARE people expecting?  What if my store doesn’t meet these expectations?  Will they be disappointed?  And that even goes for something as simple as my logo – what are people expecting?


image credit – Parker Fitzgerald

This all came about because I’m starting to phase from the planning stage to the decision making stage.  I can plan for the logo all I want – but at some point I need to actually have one.  (and apparently it’s best practice to only have one logo) But you can’t ask an indecisive perfectionist to decide on something like this!!  There should be rules against this.  My logo designer gave me wonderful ideas – about 7 different logos in different variations for the first round.  I had to somehow narrow down the logos from 27 different ideas/variations.  What?  To be honest, I was able to nix about 7 of them right away – they just weren’t me. But the other 20?  Such great ideas!  But which one is one sydney road?  Which one is me?  And which one would people like?  See – expectations!

At this point, I think my poor logo designer is wondering what she signed up for – I’m starting to wonder if I’m the bridezilla of logos!!  She has been unbelievably patient and understanding as I’ve gone back and forth between logos.  Out of the first round logo ideas – I only narrowed it down to 4!  I kept asking myself – what is my gut saying?  Well, apparently my gut has gone on vacation because I’m not receiving any kind of help there.  Here’s my gut reaction…”I like all these logos.”  Not very helpful.  So my logo designer took the 4 ideas and then sent me variations on those…with color.  You mean now I have to decide on color too?  And the font??  The second round was worse than the first – there’s so many possibilities!!  I had given her ideas for colors – yellow, chocolate brown, grey, navy blue, light blue.  Except we all know that each color has a bazillion hues – it’s like picking paint for your walls (don’t even get me started on how difficult that is for me!)


I was able to narrow it down to 2 different and distinct logo ideas.  She came back with some variations on those and then  it became time to pick just one.  50/50 – which one??  How do I possibly decide?  And this of course has now become wrapped up in me being able to decide everything else.  Because at the same time I’m working on the logo, I’m also having to make decisions on products for the store.  No more dreaming and putting images together of all the possible products I can have for the store – now I have to dig deep and say “yay” or “nay” to not only artists but individual products.  If a designer has 10 different pillow designs – do I get all 10 or pick out a few designs?  That’s what I’m in the midst of figuring out.

Let’s face it – I’m in decision overload.  Think a Magic 8 ball could help me?  Somehow I think I’d just keep getting the answer “ask again later”!  And of course I’m wondering…what do people want to see in my store?  What will they like?  Those great expectations again!!  I’m realizing that when you’re just starting out, it’s part research, part up in the air.  So until I know my customer more, I have to go with items I love.  It has to start with me.  I’m using that as my filter right now.  Does it pass the “I’d buy it” test?  That’s part of what my store is offering…my “eye” so to speak, my ability to curate and select items that work well together.


If only I could use that for my logo!  I think what has made this task harder is that it’s not just the logo I’m deciding on – it’s really about deciding on the whole look – colors, fonts & shapes which will be used not only on the logo but also on the website and packaging.  I just today got my 3rd round of logo and business card ideas.  And, you know what?  I’m finally starting to see it!  Doesn’t mean I’ve decided – but I’m one step closer.  In fact by the time you read this – I should have my logo!  Next up – deciding on designers & products.  Anyone have any good strategies for decision making?

luminous acclamation

August 25th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Hello again MML readers.  It’s Heidi from To Be Luminous again.  One of the questions I get most often is why I call my coaching practice “To Be Luminous.”  Recently I’ve written a Luminous Acclamation- a manifesto so to speak that defines what a luminous woman is and what my practice represents.
Enjoy!  And don’t forget to enter the give away for six weeks of free coaching or contact me about my six week coaching sale.  Have an amazing day.
-Heidi

Luminous Acclamation

A luminous woman glows from the inside out, radiating light, warmth and energy that is undeniable and magnetic.  She is fabulously unique and unlike anyone you’ve ever met, because she  is herself, from the crown of her head to the tip of her toes.  She lives aligned with her values.  There are no facades for the luminous woman!

A luminous woman knows when to be still and knows when to laugh out loud.  She is both lively and serene, but whatever the occasion, she is perfectly alive.  She balances her life thoughtfully processing her moments and days as needed, yet lives with wild abandon often.


A luminous woman lights up a room because she is the most phenomenal version of herself.  She doesn’t strive to be anyone else.  She is a perfect blend of all those unique  and quirky characteristics that define her.  She has that magnetic ability to appear perfectly herself in any situation.

A luminous woman is luminous 100 percent of the time regardless of her circumstances.  She is the thermometer and allows everyone else to adjust to her temperature.  She’s accommodating and loving, and she is confident enough to think more of others before herself.

A luminous woman understands that she needs to take care of her needs in order to help those around her.  She takes time to center herself daily to fortify her from the natural storms of life and to ensure she is able to listen to her inner-intuitive voice.  This voice is what helps her serenely navigate through even the most tumultuous times and is what helps her know what events, changes and obstacles in life are important, and which ones can be left behind.

A luminous woman knows who she is and that she has something unique to offer the world.  She understands that each individual she comes in contact with has something of value to offer her, and never repudiates anyone for any apparent differences or flaws.

A luminous woman is pure inside and out.  She’s not perfect, but she is beautifully authentic.  She doesn’t pose or pretend to be anything she is not.  She is comfortable with her life yet continually strives for something better, knowing that it is in the process of reaching that miracles occur.

A luminous woman is kind.  A luminous woman accepts others for who they are and who they are not.  She allows everyone room to grow and to change and allows herself the same opportunity.  She speaks encouraging words to herself and to others.

A luminous woman understands that there is enough darkness and negativity in the world.  She is willing to take a stand for joy, laughter, and uplifting everyone around her. She seeks serenity, energy, personal discovery, value alignment, and confidence.  A luminous woman is a woman of action and determination.  She is always in the mode of accomplishing something of great worth.

[Photos courtesy of istock]

Photo credit: Matt Smith/James Breeden/PacificCoastNews.com

This just in! My PR ladies sent me an email last night saying that they found photos of Ali Fedotowsky, of this season’s The Bachelorette walking with her fiancé, Roberto while wearing a Jess LC Franklin Be Present Necklace!

I was shocked, thrilled, and so happy to know that she loves the necklace as much as I do! I wear the same one, the Be Present with a pearl, everyday myself.

In other news…

I’d also like to give a little update about MML. I can safely say that this move and transition in my life is starting to hit me and I’m feeling a roller coaster of emotions. And in typical Jess fashion, I’m going to give myself some time to go through whatever I’m feeling and then come out later when I’m ready and share what I’ve learned here on MML. In the meantime, I’ve decided to invite a few guest writers to come in and share their inspiring ideas for the next week or two. This way I can take care of myself properly and then come back to MML better than ever (kind of like the old “put the oxygen mask on your face before helping others”).

(post written by Heidi life coach and blogger of To Be Luminous)
“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address..”

-Joe Fox from You’ve Got Mail

Each new school year marks a fresh start.  Ever year the week or two before  starting school again I’d day dream about what the new school year would hold.  Which new activities would I try?  Any adventures inherent in the upcoming year?  A new wardrobe or tweaks to my style?  What kind of grades would I get?  What kind of friends would I keep and make?  No matter how wonderful the year before was, I always had big, exciting plans for the next year.  And I guess things never change.

It’s true that I’m a student again (and have been for the past few years).  Fall fresh starts are very real in the scholastic setting, but there is so much more to it than that!  Regardless of our scholastic standing our lazy summers transition back into the daily routines of life which makes it a perfect time to set some goals and get a jump start on the January resolutions!  In my humble professional opinion, the end of August through the first few weeks in November is the best time to create real and lasting change (that often gets set aside over the holidays, but can easily be picked up again in January).

Each of our journeys is unique.  All of us are strong in some areas and weak in others.  I find that my clients fall into one of the following five categories:

  • Serenity Now- seeking an inner calm, personal peace and greater resolve to gracefully navigate the changes and trials that come to each of us
  • Get Up and Going- seeking greater energy, a firm resolve to accomplish goals and stick to them.
  • Personal Discovery- seeking to shed layers of life, discover their unique mission and path and start forging forward.
  • Value Chiropractic- seeking to realign daily activities in life to their core values  for greater daily satisfaction in all aspects of life
  • Bring Sexy Back- seeking to increase confidence overall glow and swagger

Let’s face it, any of us could use a boost in the above categories, but if you mull over them, or even just glance at them I think you’ll see an area that resonates.  This is the first year that I am approaching my Fresh Fall Start in the same way I’d approach a new client, but I love the focus and the light that these areas shed on every aspect of life.

For me this fall I’m really wanting to up my energy levels and goal- setting (Get Up and Going).  My workouts will be changing to incorporate more running and more dance (very upbeat, momentum-based exercises); my diet will be geared at feeding my body healthy foods that allow me to function through my massively busy schedule; my spending will be focused on bringing greater freedom and movement into my life (i.e. less stuff to weigh me down- more opportunities to let me soar); the books I read will gear me towards increased energy, movement and overall life.   And my relationships will be more dynamic, full of energy, give and take and more experiences. See how it works?

It’s incredibly effective to take a theme and apply it to our lives!  In business it’s always suggested that you niche and hone in on doing something really well.  If you apply the same guidance into your own personal goals there is an extraordinary amount of success that can come quickly.  The best part is realizing you’ve got one area under control and migrating to another area.  If you get started now, you just might be ready for something new in January!  How fun is that?

In order to use a niche-like goal setting formula for this fall you’ll want to do 3 things:

  1. Pick a Niche (or create one of your own).  This is the theme for the fall, the year or whatever period of time you are working with.  Make sure that it’s all encompassing and that it’s an attitude or a focus that your goals can work with in.
  2. Think about the tangibles you’d like to accomplish and what they might look like with your Niche.  If you are increasing your fitness and your niche is Personal Discovery, you might want to try out a variety of new sports or ways of staying in shape so you can discover which ones you truly enjoy and want to keep at.  Does this make sense?  You are viewing your goals through a specific lens.  Ideally they all build together so you feel the way you want to feel.
  3. Put your concrete plans onto paper.  Write them down and create the needed routines into the new schedules you are building for the fall.  Now is the time to implement!  The next few weeks are crucial as you carve your autumnal schedules and habits.  If you don’t make something a priority now, it probably won’t happen later.
I love Makeunder My Life readers because we are all working towards a simpler, better life.  We aren’t satisfied with the status quo or wanting to just let life roll over us.  We want to make changes!

To Be Luminous Coaching Giveaway

photo credit

I loved, loved, loved working with my last free coaching client from MML and am offering another free series of  6 coaching sessions to a reader who comments!  I’m also opening up a coaching sale to MML readers who set up their initial (free) consultation in the next week.  You’ll get six coaching sessions for only $250.  Just email me at hlslovacek@gmail.com and mention MML in your initial consultation request or with any questions you have.  Of course, if you win the free six sessions, you won’t pay anything.

As you start pulling out your wrap-me-up clothes and start planning your new fall routines, why not take stock and get a jump start on the resolutions you know you’ll be making come January?  Which area do you want to work on?

piper’s dream report: week fifteen

August 20th, 2010   |   Life

I’m on pins and needles, you guys!!  I’m anxiously awaiting to see what ideas my logo designer has come up with for my logo  – this is the first time I’ll see what she has created.  (I should have them by the time you read this!)  I’m excited and nervous – it’s an interesting feeling having someone else create something for your store.  Will she understand what look & feel I’m trying to achieve – and how will that be conveyed through the logo?  Ah, so this is what it feels like to delegate something and not have complete control over it!

To start the process, she had me answer a few questions:


The cool thing?  I was more prepared than I realized for these questions.  At first, I of course felt overwhelmed…do I know these things – how do I decide – what are my ideas – what am I doing??  Sheesh, talk about panicking.  So I had to just go one by one.  The best part is that I realized I had already compiled a lot of information – it just wasn’t organized or concise.  (I have an excel spreadsheet that has tab after tab of information I’ve compiled over the past year or so – at this point, it’s a ridiculous mess – but at the very least I organized the info into tabs!!)  Also, a few months ago, I started collecting images of logos that I like and that I found myself drawn to – I figured this may help me understand what I’m looking for in my own logo.  So I just reviewed that, exfoliated the logos that didn’t seem to fit my aesthetic anymore and I was left with a document that actually showed logos that all have something in common…mostly word based, modern, simple and use color in some way.    So really this document of images answered most of the questions she asked – I just had to fill her in on my store, the concept and the feeling I want it to have and a bit about my target market.  The tough ones, right?!


I just started brain dumping writing at this point.  And this is where I was really able to narrow down my focus and even had an “a-ha” moment – I know what my store wants to be!!  It was actually there in front of me the whole time, I just needed someone to point it out to me (my hubby of all people!!  Hmm, maybe I need to promote him?)  I had listed a ton of adjectives that I felt described the store and the feeling I want it to have:

  • FRESH
  • MODERN
  • RELAXED
  • STYLISH
  • CLEAN
  • INVITING
  • PLAYFUL
  • MODERN MEETS VINTAGE
  • MAKING EVERY DAY SPECIAL

Cue my hubby:  “Wait…isn’t that exactly what you’re going for?  Making every day special – look even your consultant wrote that down as the way she’s seeing your store”  Are you kidding me??  It’s been there the whole time – I just didn’t pick up on it.  That’s it!  (except don’t even get me started on the fact that I hate how it’s worded…”making every day special”  There’s got to be a cooler, fresher, more playful way of saying that – that’s my mission now!!  Maybe something like “have your cake and eat it too” – yeah, I know, not great – I told you I wasn’t a copywriter!!  So all you awesome writers out there – if you have any ideas, I’m open!!)  Hmm…this could even be my tagline!

All this writing ended up turning into a 3-page document that described my store, gave the above adjectives, and included information about my target market.  The thing that made my day?  She emailed back and to paraphrase her she said “This is fantastic, you really did your research!”  If that isn’t vindication for all the time I’ve put into this so far – I don’t know what is! (grin)  I can’t even imagine how hard it’ll be for me to decide on the logo ideas she gives me…think it’s possible to have 3 different logos?  I’m hoping one will just leap off the page making life so much easier!


So in the midst of working on that, I’m also working on the web design.  Like I said last week, the web designers have this cool site that you log in to and find out what your “to-do’s” are.  My first ones are big ones – and it’s been a bit of a struggle to work on this.  I need to tell them my design preferences and my shopping cart preferences – basically, it’s decision time.  I keep feeling like I don’t want to get this wrong.  And this is also the part that involves writing the content for my site.  UGH!!

And if that all wasn’t enough – I’ve been contacting all the artists & designers I’m interested in having for the store.  I’ve lined up some great designers but there are a couple that I absolutely, 100% want to have for the store….that have yet to respond to my emails.  Right now I feel like a school girl anxiously waiting for the phone to ring from her crush. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they a.) offer wholesale and b.) want to work with me.  If they don’t, I may need to go back to the drawing board – and I’m running out of time!  Good news?  I still have over 40 artists/designers on the table.  Bad news?  I probably need to get it down to 20-25.  Like I’ve said – this is proving to be a hard task, I’m just not sure how I choose one over another.  But at some point I’m going to have to – I’m down to only 7-8 weeks until the store opens!!  I can’t wait until I can show you EVERYTHING I’ve been working on!!

an update on MML

August 19th, 2010   |   Life

After having a great lunch and a long talk with Stacy, an MML reader, I’ve decided to make a few changes here on MML for the rest of August. The transitions in my relationship, apartment, and business happening in two weeks have taken a much larger toll on my energy level than I anticipated. This week I find myself mentally and physically (plus sometimes emotionally) exhausted from all the change and preparation. Juggling the move, break up, business, and blog is a lot to handle day in and day out.

And rather than trying to push through and run myself into the ground, I think I am best off concentrating on concentration. During the next two weeks I want to do less things, but with better quality. I want to be more present in each aspect of this phase and give myself time to rest and refuel during the process. It’s kind of like marathon training, I can do a bunch of miles for the sake of running, but that often that leads to injuries, fatigue, and burn out. Instead, it is often best to run less often and have higher quality workouts. The rest in between the runs makes for a stronger performance overall. And though I love writing here on MML five times a week, I am going to post on only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until Labor Day.

By posting just three times a week, I can really concentrate on producing fewer, more thought provoking posts. By doing less, I hope I’m actually more helpful. And I know it will do wonders for my own mental outlook. I’ve also decided in the spirit of concentration to end the Makeunder My Week series on Mondays and just add more day-to-day updates in the intros of my weekly posts.

In addition, I’m excited to take this chance to stop and prepare for all of the awesome-ness that I have in store for MML this fall. With the start of our new intern/assistant for Jess LC in September, I am going to have much more time to ramp up the volume on my “feistiness” which was so well received a few weeks ago. I know MML is my purpose, and I’m excited to have more time than ever to really make a difference and produce powerful posts.

So thanks for understanding about the temporary change of pace on MML and thank you for all of your support while I go through this change. Your comments have meant so much to me and remind me why I love my purpose and am on the right path.

the “i’m on vacation” string

August 18th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Though I haven’t mentioned it before, I’ve decided to go on vacation during the entire month of August. In fact, I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks and it will continue through the weeks to come as well.

But I haven’t missed one day of work and I’m not going on any major trips.

I’ve simply decided to go on vacation from worrying, judging, and over-thinking things.

This idea originally came from a message from Joyce Meyer several months ago and it never quite left my head. I could argue that this month has the potential to be the most worrisome, stressful, frustrating, depressing, and impatient four weeks I’ve experienced since graduating from college. However, to avoid the mental gymnastics my ego could certainly produce at the drop of a hat, I’ve chosen to step outside it’s crazy tendencies and “go on vacation.”

Though I certainly feel emotions when they arise – laughing and crying as needed – I realize that I have the ability in large part to step aside from a lot of the chaos in my brain involving judgment, projecting into the future, over-planning, worrying, stressing out, and just basically putting my emotional well-being where I really have no control.

To honor the fact that I’m releasing my concern over things I don’t have control over, I tied a green bracelet on my wrist. Like the yellow “no complaint” string, this little reminder helps me bring myself back to my intention whenever I start to get carried away by the “what ifs,” “if onlys,” and “never agains.” I simply let those worries go and focus on what actions I can take and need to in order to function in my life peacefully. I still grow my business, pay my bills, write on MML, love my relationship, and prepare for my new apartment – I just do each thing one at a time and take it day by day.

Obviously peace is easier to maintain on some days than others, but overall I am so thankful that I’ve decided to “go on vacation” for the month. Knowing my tendency to over-think things (just ask my dad about my high school basketball career), I can imagine I’ve saved myself from boatloads of suffering just by keeping this simple intention. Which means that by sharing it with you, I hope you consider trying something similar yourself if you are like me and tend to question life just a little too much.

Let’s raise a metaphorical margararita, kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Today I’m back to share steps two and three of the makeunder I’m doing for my new apartment. I shared step one, create a vision, last week. Here’s how I’m using the makeunder process for the next two phases:

Due to the nature of this transition and makeunder (moving out of a two bedroom apartment with my boyfriend to a one bedroom on my own), you can imagine that there is a lot of stuff which is naturally being exfoliated. The scale of the exfoliations are more on the level of “chemical peel” than “gentle salt scrub” and for this reason, I’m choosing not to dwell to much on this phase here on MML or in real life.

Thankfully, we have done a fantastic job looking out for one another’s best interest and we have easily and peacefully decided who is getting what items in the apartment. The general rule of thumb is anything that we purchased or brought to the existing apartment is our own to take with us at the end of the month. And the only major joint purchase we made was our large sectional, which he generously offered to me.

However, I will not have the following items to bring with me to the new space: mattress, bed-frame, kitchen table, club chair, bookshelves, bedside tables, toaster, iron, vacuum, etc. The list goes on but the rest isn’t terribly interesting. In fact, I am finding that whenever I am in doubt about who should get something, I lean on the side of giving it to him so that he has what he needs for his space, and I get to get new things for this next stage. Because if there is one thing I enjoy, it is shopping and decorating for a new place.

Speaking of shopping and decorating, this brings me to…

Ah, this is where the fun begins! No matter what I may be feeling at any point in this journey, this one step brings me happiness and joy. I have always loved decorating since the day I got my first Ethan Allen catalog in the mail when I was eight. At the time, I swore that when I had a place of my own, I would decorate it in granny apple green and cobalt blue. But now that the moment has finally arrived… I’m thinking white, gold, coral, and light blue. No lime green or bright blue to be found. Funny how life turns out, huh?

Anyways, here is a little collage of some of the items that I need and want, including: mattress, bed-frame/headboard, chair for living room, chair for bedroom, bookcases, striped curtains, bulletin board, etc.

I have lots of other cool things in store as well, but I want to save those things for the big reveal once I move : ).

The nice thing about step three of the makeunder process is that it allows me to clearly think about what I need in my apartment to help me fulfill my vision from step one without getting distracted by other things that I might see while shopping. By creating a list of items I’d like before I move into the space, my focus is narrowed to what I truly need. It also allows me to plan my spending accordingly.

All month I’ve been on a “saving spree” when it comes to fun items like clothing, bar, and makeup purchases. I now weigh those wants against something like my new headboard, and the decision to save the money is easy.

Now the next step involves actually moving and ordering the new furniture. In the weeks to come I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of the process as things start to come together.

makeunder my week: august, 16th

August 16th, 2010   |   Life

Hi Guys,

Whew! I took a mini-weekend trip to Rochester, Michigan this weekend to see my hometown. I hadn’t been back in town since my parents moved to a Philadelphia suburb two and a half years ago. It was a bit surreal to walk the streets with my childhood best friend, Carol Beth, and revisit the places we used to go as fourth-graders. But it’s also awesome that she’s now moved back to Rochester herself with her husband, so I can come visit as often as I like. And if it weren’t for the grueling six to seven hour train ride, I’d probably go back a lot more often.

Anyways, while I was there, we picked up a People Magazine (August, 16th issue) and found none other than our Division Teardrop neckalce sitting on Sarah Rue’s lovely neck on page 4! Though it would be amazing to say I “just happened to notice the feature” the truth is that my awesome PR firm, Red Light PR secured the spot via a People stylist picking up my samples in their office and then using them in the photo shoot. But either way, it’s pretty darn cool. A few months ago I promised myself I’d celebrate my first major piece of print PR with a pedicure — I envisioned getting my foot massage while looking at the piece of Jess LC jewelry in the magazine. And now that it’s finally happened, you can guess where I’ll be this afternoon. : )

In other news, I’ve been getting several emails about the discounted Franklin necklaces. We had removed them from the site for a few days so we could catch up on our inventory and orders. Now that we are caught up on everything we have re-posted the discounted Be Brave, Be Thankful, and Breathe necklaces, but our quantities are very limited in each style. And of course, all of the pre-order Franklin necklaces are all available for purchase and will ship by September 1st.

This week I’m excited to start finalizing decorating decisions for the new apartment. Which means I’ll be posting the makeunder steps two and three for the space tomorrow. I have to admit, the bittersweet-ness of these last few weeks living with Erwin has started to really sink in. But I keep remembering is an evolution, not an ending.

Have a great week,

Jess!

piper’s dream report: week fourteen

August 13th, 2010   |   Life

Hi everyone!  Thanks for all your support and congrats – it’s really exciting to be at this point – I still can’t believe I’m only 10 weeks or so away from my dream of having a store!!  Are ya kidding me – is this really happening?!  I feel like I need to pinch myself just to make sure it’s really happening.  On one hand, it feels like it’s taking forever to get here…on the other, I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough time to get everything done!!

As I said last week, once I sent over the down payment to the web designer, it became real for me.  No turning back now – and that has been exciting, terrifying, and overwhelming all at the same time.  I’m actually this close to doing something I’ve talked about for years and years!  So to get through the next few weeks, I’m really trying to take it day by day and not allow myself to get too hung up on things.  I’m really trying to take what Jess said to heart…it’s only through trial and error that I can learn and grow.  I do have to say this is much easier said than done – I have to keep fighting against my perfectionist side (man, she is strong!!) and keep fighting the ups & downs with my confidence.  Because anyway you look at it – this is still a risk.  It may be my dream, but it’s also a risk and no matter how much research I do, at some point it comes time to either do it or not.  I keep saying to myself “what’s the worst that can happen?”  Apparently I should not be asking myself this – I can come up with a lot of good answers!  So it’s back to – just keep working and hoping that hard work pays off in the end!


Since some of you asked (thanks!), I thought I’d share with you what my to-do list looks like for the next few weeks as well as what my days are like right now.  Kind of an inside peek at what I’m doing (or sometimes not doing if I’m procrastinating!). I took a moment last week to prioritize my list and really look at what needs to be accomplished in the next few weeks.  I thought I’d share them with you – we can “countdown” together!!

Remember how I was a bit concerned about the outlay of money to hire a web designer?  Well, I think it’s already proving itself worthy of investment.  I’m working with Aeolidia and they have a wonderful system where you can log in and see everything that’s going on with your web design.  It shows me my to-do list, tells me when those tasks need to be completed, shows the tasks that the web designer needs to accomplish and shows me a calendar of when things will be done on the web site.  I have to say it’s pure bliss to have all that thought out for me…definitely worth it!!

(image via modernemotive)

Of course, now it’s crunch time having to work on my web design to-do list for them.  Up first?  Some biggies.  I need to give them my design preferences (and also my Cartkeeper preferences) by August 23rd (yikes!).  The good news is that I’ve been compiling a lot of information in prep for this.  I have a giant list of websites that I like the look of – think bright, clean, modern & stylish.  And yep you guessed it, the perfectionist in me keeps wanting to add to this list.  I have too so many ideas for how the website should look, but now I’m at the point where I have to decide…deep breath (it can be changed if I don’t like it, right?)  This is where some of the branding comes in – the hardest part and something I’m learning will have to grow as the store grows.  (Is this me talking??  Not having something perfect out the gate?!)  I mean, it would be great to have the store perfectly branded from the get-go…but I also think there’s something charming about having a small store.  I’m not a big chain – that’s part of my “secret sauce” and so the fact that it’s not perfectly designed and packaged gives it a certain charm (at least this is the thought I’m clinging to right now!).  I know that’s what draws me to small stores & boutiques.  I have my ideas for “branding” but they are by far not solidified, they’re not perfect – and most likely they’ll grow as I learn what my customers want & like.

I also have a slew of ideas for the actual store website – this is where I’m going to have to be okay with waiting on some of these ideas (let me tell you, not easy for someone who’s impatient!!). It’s just that some of them are too expensive to create right now (making the website interactive for one thing) so hopefully it’s something I can add to the site in the future.  But some will be an important part of the store – something fun that I’m keeping close to my chest right now – a way to make my online store feel welcoming (I gotta have a teaser, right?!)  I’ll let you know more about it closer to the opening…suffice to say, it’s taking a lot of my time and energy right now, so fingers crossed that it will work!

(images via Bison)

During this time, I’ve also been contacting artists, designers & companies whose product I would like to have for my store.  This part has been exciting, seeing the possibilities come together!  However, I also have to narrow down the artists and that’s proving more difficult than I expected.  Without fully knowing my customer, it’s difficult to decide which art print, for example, would be better to carry.  I’m also finding out that some artists who I knew 100% I would love to carry have too high of a minimum order for me or don’t offer wholesale to online stores.  Bummer, right?  You should see me as I anxiously await getting responses back!  And yes, it’s hard trying to get all of this stuff done while I’m working full time.  The good news is that I can do a lot of this from work.  I’m lucky in a sense that my day job is really only a part time job  (yet they have me here full time…hmm, wonder why I hate working for a corporation so much?!)  So I do have some time during the day to get things done on my store.  Unfortunately this involves a lot of hiding what I’m doing – not very conducive to creative, productive work on the store!  And I’m not even doing a great job of hiding – I’m telling you, my boss needs to wear a bell so I can hear her when she approaches!  (If you saw my tweet the other day, my boss actually mentioned my internet usage to me – oops!  Luckily for me, not much is done about these things at my job.)  So, I do what I can at work (I’m blocked from accessing a lot of websites like email – urgh!) and then come home and work for about 3-4 hours a night as well as the weekends.  It’s not easy – I’m tired A LOT, the house is a mess, and I miss my family (okay, they’re still there…but ½ the time I’m zombified on the computer…not really quality time!)  But I’m hoping in the end it’ll pay off!

mischief by loki giveaway winner

August 12th, 2010   |   Life

Lisa won last week’s Mischief by Loki giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered. : )

makeunder my new apartment: step one

August 11th, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLifeStyle

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time here on MML talking about business, purpose, and taking actions because that’s what I’ve been focusing on myself this summer. However, there is another important aspect of MML that hasn’t gotten as much attention: simplifying and tailoring our spaces to reflect our visions.

But, since I’m going to be moving in just three weeks, I’m now spending a lot of time thinking about my new space and what I want it to look like, feel like, and how it needs to function for me and Jess LC. Making under is also the root of MML and I’m going to spend the next several days explaining step by step how I put the makeunder process to work for myself. I hope that it is helpful in understanding how I think about making under and how you might want to incorporate similar principals in your own space and life. So without further delay, I bring you my vision for my new space.

Step One: Create a Vision

First, let’s talk about the transition…

In order to really understand the vision for the space, we really need to understand the transition that I’m making. One year ago I moved into my current apartment with my boyfriend and we consolidated our stuff to this single space. However, at this point in time, we are choosing to take a different path and continue our relationship as friends. Though this is the last thing I expected to happen twelve months ago, I accept this transition and have faith that it is for the best.

This also means that I recently got rid of many pieces of furniture and now need some pretty major items like a mattress, bed, bookshelves, and a tv, among others. It also means that I need to change my paradigm from one of “us” to “me.” I need to make these decision for myself, without compromise, without agreement. To many, this might seem obvious (and even ideal). I get to decide exactly what I want, no questions asked. But to be honest, after three and a half happy years making decisions together, this is more than a bit strange for me. I need to learn to embrace this new independence and look at it as empowering.

I need to also make sure I ask myself what I really want without waiting for a second opinion. This space is all about me being me. It is also a chance for me to discover who I am after such a long, deep, relationship. This is the first time I am single as an adult post-college.

So, after reflecting on the transition, a few things are clear about this makeunder:

  • I need to make sure I embrace my individual style and choose things that make me 100% happy.
  • I can take this opportunity as a chance to feel empowered. I get to call the shots and decide things that weren’t in my jurisdiction before (ie: television choice). I also get to decorate using things that weren’t agreed upon before like hot pink art for the bathroom.
  • I need to acquire a fair amount of new furniture and ‘stuff.’ Though most makeunders involve a lot of exfoliating, the nature of this move involves half of my belongings being taken away at the get-go. Opening up space for many new things going forward.

Now, let’s talk about what I want this space to feel like…

I will state right away that though I am moving within the building, with an identical floor plan and identical finishes, I want this space to feel very different from my current apartment. I don’t want to feel like I’m living in the carcass of an old relationship. A fresh start, a fresh space. I want this space to feel complete, because it is a reflection of me; I am complete just as I am, in or out of a serious relationship.

When I walk in the door, I want to feel cheerful, bright, and awake. For the space to emanate those feelings, I would like bright white bookshelves, crisp white paint, pops of color like coral, gold, and light blue. I want the furniture and accessories to be polished, chic, and pulled together. I want everything to have a place. I even want my closets to be beautiful and organized. I only want to own what I need, use, and love.

When I think about similar spaces that embody these traits, my inspiration automatically comes from Summer Thornton’s Lincoln Park home (photo credit).

To keep my space beautifully edited and consistent, I’m going to keep these ideas in mind as I identify what I exfoliate (step two) and what I make an intentional obsession (step three).

I also want the space to accommodate the following activities…

Going from a two bedroom apartment to a one bedroom apartment means I need to move my studio space from the second bedroom to the main living room. Though this is necessary, I want to make sure the living room does not feel like a studio at all times, it should serve the business functions when necessary but also be discrete. I can do this by using beautiful home goods as storage and by exfoliating unnecessary items ruthlessly. If something does not serve a purpose in order fulfillment or inventory, it does not need to be in the apartment. Using a rolling cart which can go in the closet at the end of the day will also help conceal items during off hours.

All in all, this is my chance to have a “single girl apartment in the city.” Though many take the opposite path and go from single apartment to shared, my path is a bit different. And I’m okay with that. I intend to take it all in stride and savor each decorating decision and embrace my femininity. (I even bought myself a housewarming gift: a coral, gold, and white candle which smells like flowers.)

flashback to Jess LC circa 2001

August 10th, 2010   |   Business AdviceLife

Hi guys! I just want to pop in and say that Susie and I are still busy chipping away at the orders from last weekend – the response was so much bigger than expected and we are filling orders as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, my longtime friend, Krista, sent me some photos of “vintage” Jess LC jewelry from high school. Though not quite as ugly as my first piece of jewelry, these bracelets are still testaments to how much one can improve given nine years of moving forward and trying new things. Perfection is impossible, but even excellence takes time to achieve.

So please take this as a reminder that you will improve from wherever you are now, so far beyond your own expectations that you will surprise yourself. I know my 17 year-old self would not have been able to dream up anything I’ve done in the past three years. — And I hope that what I’m doing in three years is beyond any expectation I could have at this point in time.

makeunder my week: august 9th

August 9th, 2010   |   Life

Hi Guys,

Good afternoon! I am a bit late in posting today because we had a secret sale this weekend for people on the Jess LC email list (sign up is on the top right of our homepage). There was such a huge response to the deal that I’ve been quite busy prepping, printing, and packing for Susie; and I only now have a moment between order filling to stop in and say hi.

While I’m on the topic of jewelry, I will also point out that we now have pre-order pages available to get the new, corrected braille necklaces as soon as they arrive (we are expecting pre-orders to ship to customers before September 1st).

In other news, I want to thank you all for the resounding response to last week’s more “feisty” posts. You have encouraged me to keep speaking what I believe and feeling more confident in what I want to say. I hope to bring more fearless posts in the future as well. Because, at the end of the day, whatever helps people design a better life is what I am trying to provide here on MML.

As far as the new apartment decorating goes, I appreciate all of your votes for the West Elm bed a few weeks back. I think you are totally right and I can’t wait to order the bed for September. I am now debating between arm chairs to go in the living room next to the big toffee colored sectional. I’m feeling these two yellow chairs on Target.com. I prefer the fabric a bit more in this chair, but love the shape of this chair. What are your thoughts? Either one I think would look lovely paired with these chevron yellow/white curtains by Nena Von on Etsy…

(photo by Becki Schleis)

Since I’m talking about the details of the new place, it can’t hurt to do a shout out about two pieces of furniture that need to be passed on to new owners. The white loveseat in the header photo and this black desk are too large for the new space. I’m selling the white denim couch (an Ikea Ektorp loveseat priced at $579) for $300. Since the couch has been in our bedroom for most of it’s short three year life, it has got surprisingly little use and is crisp, clean with only a few smudges on the slipcover- which most likely will come out in the wash. And the new owner can even keep the adorable Dwell Studio pillow (shown) if they like. The couch is available for pick up anytime.

The desk has seen a bit more use but is still perfectly solid and great. There only major thing to note is some water stains on the top. I’m willing to part with the desk (originally from Target.com priced at $299) for just $80 if the new owner can pick it up sometime the week of August 30th. If you are interested in either of these two items and can come pick them up in East Lakeview, please email me at jess@jesslc.com. I’d rather have these items go to someone here on MML than a random stranger : ).

Have a great day,

Jess!

piper’s dream reporter post: week fourteen

August 6th, 2010   |   Life

Drum roll please…I did it, I found my logo designer & web designer!!  It’s signed, sealed and in the process of being delivered!  Not only am I jumping up and down with excitement, but yikes I’m also terrified and realization has now struck.  I was just saying to my hubby that this feels like a huge turning point – there’s no turning back, I’m committed to this.  (well, I suppose that’s not entirely true – I could have an empty web store hanging out there!)

The countdown has literally begun (any fans of the show Arrested Development?  I’ve got the song “The Final Countdown” in my head!).  If all goes according to plan, I’m now 11 weeks away from opening the virtual doors on One Sydney Road!!!  Ok, deep breath.  Because I’m feeling a bit in over my head and wondering how I’m going to get everything done in 11 weeks!

I feel like I have so much to talk about and share with you (logo & web design, countdown list!)  But first, I wanted to share with you parts of the email Jess sent to me & shared with you on this post because it’s so insightful and really sums up what I’m going through right now.  I have to say I’m glad she was feeling feisty – it opened my eyes!!  I had emailed her to share the good news about signing up with my web designer – along with the fact that I was freaking out a bit – what do I know about running an online store?  How am I going to do this?  How did she do it??  And can I have the magic potion now!  I really have felt the need for advice and reassurance – from anyone and everyone!!  So who better to turn to then someone like Jess who amazes me but also has become a friend through this journey.  And what she had to say was really powerful and insightful.  It actually made me stop for a moment after reading it to soak it in.


Wow, right?  There it is – the secret.  No advice – just follow your own path!!  It reminds me a lot of weight loss – we’re always looking for that magical way to lose weight – asking other people what they’ve done to lose weight or reading books- when really the answer is within us.  Everyone has their own way of doing things – their strengths, their weaknesses -there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution (sadly!).  Each person finds success their own way.  So the secret is that entrepreneurs just keep trying.  And that seems like something I can definitely do.  I may not know everything yet – but I’m a quick learner, a hard worker and I’m passionate about this – and that’s gotta count for something!  So I told Jess I would try and refrain from asking advice for 30 days – this is a near impossible task for me – but in a way, it feels good knowing I get a chance to blaze my own trail – good or bad, up or down – it’s mine.

And now let’s talk web design – because, eek, it’s happening now!  Thanks for all the great suggestions and ideas with web design.  I basically had it down to 4 different options (in order of price):

  1. Big cartel - They only allow you to have up to 100 products and I may have more than that when I start.  (I was able to get rid of this option fairly fast!)
  2. Have a friend design and set up my online store - this would involve me spending time designing the site myself along with learning how to use the shopping cart and figuring out how to set up all the credit card, security things I need.
  3. Go with a designer who does templates - these are templates that anyone else can use and there aren’t necessarily a lot of changes that can be made before it becomes “custom” work. (read: pricey)
  4. Go with a designer who can customize a site and set up all the miscellaneous things I need done (blog, twitter, gallery, etc) - this becomes expensive but you’re given the complete package.


My mistake, when I was researching web design and getting quotes months ago to find out about how much I would need to design a web site, was that I took the smaller dollar figure and assumed that would be what it would cost.  Here I thought I was doing my due diligence, finding out how much I would need to spend – and it turns out I didn’t ask enough questions (or the right ones).  So when they would say it costs “$2000-$6000″ to build an ecommerce site, I figured with my frugality I would be on the low end.  This isn’t necessarily true, I’ve quickly learned, when it comes to ecommerce!!  So I had to go back to the drawing board once I was looking at the possibility of it being $6000 to design my website…I just didn’t feel comfortable spending that much money just starting out.

I also know that one of my weaknesses is techie stuff – so for me to spend my time (time is money right?) building a site myself with my friend would take me away from what I’m good at and what I need to be spending my time on right now – developing the store and the products.  My gut was telling me to go with someone who has experience setting up online stores…however this costs money.  Honestly, I was feeling a bit stuck – I wanted my cake and, darn it, I wanted to eat it too!  So with a lot of emails back & forth and patience on the web designer’s end answering my questions, I was thrilled to find out that I could still go with an experienced designer and get a custom site – I just can’t have all the bells and whistles that I dreamed of having at first.  But the relief of having someone who knows the tech stuff and can set it all up for me – well, that’s worth it in my book!!  Now it comes down to deciding how it looks….

I can’t wait to fill you in on so many other things that are going on and will be coming up!!  Thanks for sticking with me through this : )

Thanks for the awesome comments and email stories shared in response to this morning’s post, What to do when you don’t know your purpose (yet)! This week has given me some incredible insights into ways I can create some kind of class for MML in January and February. I’ll be sure to ask for more help with that over the next few months…

In the meantime, Janelle, a MML reader emailed me this incredible analogy and I think it could be helpful for anyone else who thinks they might be alone in the “dark” phase of their life as well.

Enjoy!

Janelle’s Story: Lost in a Forest

I’ve been feeling pretty lost lately, and now I’m started to feel so inspired and ready to take action. It’s funny, after reading your post today, I started thinking…I’m feeling lost in life, so what if I were lost in a forest? (Sorry this is SO cliche, but the image works for me so I just went with it!) Would I just sit there and cry and complain and give up, and just plop down on the ground in that one spot and not move? I might, for a little while, but it clearly wouldn’t get me anywhere. I’d still be lost and confused and sad.

But if I just started walking, I would at least be attempting to get somewhere. I may move in the wrong direction, but I would soon find that out, and then just turn and move in another direction and try that path instead. Eventually, I would get out and be exactly where I was meant to be – but that would never happen if I didn’t get up and start moving – anywhere. I could sit there and hope for someone to show up and rescue me, but the chances of that happening would be very slim.

So I started thinking about this realistically and applying it to my situation with my life right now, and it totally made sense for me. I’ve been so upset for so long, but have just remained stagnant and haven’t attempted to go anywhere, in hopes that someone else would tell me what to do. I’m still not sure where I’m going or what to do, but I know I need to do SOMETHING, anything. And then I’ll start figuring things out.

As promised on Monday, I’m going to share something that I realized while talking to Stephanie, an MML reader, who recently left the job she knew wasn’t her calling in order fulfill her purpose. The only problem is, she doesn’t know what that purpose or next step might be…

Yet.

As we talked over coffee, it became clear that she was serious about fulfilling her purpose, and equally bewildered as to what that might actually be.

At first, I was perplexed. I meet a lot of people who know what they want to do but haven’t actually designed their life around that intention. In those cases, I try to help them remove the personal barriers blocking their dream. Usually there is some kind of mental obstacle that they feel is compelling them to stay in their dissatisfied situation rather than taking the leap of faith.

In Stephanie’s case however, she jumped in trusting that she was making the right move. But once she made the decision, her purpose didn’t magically materialize. I think that there are many others out there who also, like Stephanie, don’t know what they want to do just yet.

It’s like being in a dark room without a crack of light underneath a door to lead you to the next stage.

Once you see a speck of light, your eyes can adjust to the darkness and guide you to the door and you can walk into the next room pretty easily. But how do you find the doorknob in a pitch black room?

You start feeling around.

Though I’ve mentioned the ego vs. spirit before, I will recap really quickly: I believe we have two voices in our heads, our ego and our spirit/gut/intuition. Both messages are present at all times but we often hear the ego’s rationalizing, fearful, and prideful voice shouting over the spirit’s cool, calm, knowledge and understanding.

When you are in a “dark room” in your life, instead of frantically looking around with your ego’s eyes for a light source, a rationale, a prescribed set of beliefs about your purpose; take a moment to start feeling from your gut. In the dark room, use your your spirit to guide you towards what feels right for your life in the same way that you use your hands to feel for furniture in the darkness.

Start to have faith that your gut will lead you towards the door when the time is right. Start to pay attention to the feelings you get in your stomach which drive you towards some things and away from others. Try to ignore the white noise coming from your ego. You can even do what I do and pray that the white noise is drowned out by the spirit’s voice. (Yep, there is no secret formula, I still struggle with the spirit/ego thing too, I just ask for help to pull the voices apart from one another – and turn up the volume on my spirit so loudly I can’t help but follow it.)

In the darkness, if you learn to identify and follow your spirit with faith and patience, you will be rewarded with the clarity you are looking for when the time is right (which is not necessarily when your ego wants things to happen). And even more importantly, you will have then developed the spirit muscles needed to lead you once you open that door and follow your path to the next stage. Otherwise, it’s too tempting to just let your “ego eyes” do all the work and never really reflect or produce what is truly meaningful for you.

Think of it this way, if we are never forced into a situation that causes us to find a way to deal with uncertainty through faith, we will never develop the skills needed to blaze a trail that is truly our own, truly our destiny.

So please treat this phase of your life reverently, it is going to build you up and take you farther than you ever imagined if you consistently listen, trust, and follow to your spirit.

Thanks for the resounding response, comments, emails, and tweets about yesterday’s post. I normally don’t get too fired up when writing here – but I’ve felt the urge this week to really nail what I’m learning home here on MML and with Piper, our lovely and talented MML Dream Reporter. My perspective on business is changing pretty rapidly over the past two months and I want to share this with all of you so you can use it in your own lives.

Below is an adapted letter I wrote to Piper about advice and getting too reliant on other’s expertise at the expense of our own innate guidance. I have adapted it to suit many of you who shared that you felt similarly caught in the comparison and advice trap. I hope it’s helpful for you as well.

A Letter to All Small Business Newbies

Let me start off by saying I don’t think that advice is always a bad thing, but I think too much of it lends itself to the phenomenon I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Produce Your Own Success Story. I don’t know what it is, but I’m feeling bolder, and more insistent upon you, myself, and everyone for that matter, to start writing our own stories and figuring things out by trial and error. It’s totally underrated in the online world which promises “experts” of every kind telling you how to use twitter, grow a business, grow a blog, grow a garden, even grow penises (ugh, I hate those spam emails!).

Sure, there can be information that help us save some time, but in the end I only know what I “know” about business and blogging because I have done what I’ve “done” for the past 11 years with Jess LC and 1.5 years with MML. I only know more than you because I simply have out “done” you- I have simply “done” more things. And as you go along your “done” to “haven’t tried yet” ratio will shift and you will start to gain more confidence. Just rest assured that you are doing the right thing. Keep blogging, keep commenting, keep going forward with the next step in your business, just keep going! In a way, (and I don’t want to get too strong, but I feel really passionately about this) it is like you are running a marathon and you keep asking each mile how to run. But really, all you have to do is just keep running. Period. Sure, there are different aspects of the business that you are dealing with, but the main ultimate act is “starting a business” that is constant. And so each mile along the way may have a slightly different tone or task, but the general direction is still the same – keep running, just keep going.

Side Note: Asking for advice and looking for reassurance is different than seeking out cut and dry information. If you need to get your DBA (Doing Business As) you can ask someone, “How do you get a DBA in Ohio?” That is something that is simply a gap in process. You can find this information by asking someone who has a DBA or by looking it up online. It is a black and white answer. That is totally fine to keep doing as often as you need. If you need to know how to register your URL, that is completely understandable and black and white. BUT anything that is not a black and white, concrete answer counts as “advice” – how to grow a blog or business is different for everyone and is open to interpretation — and where you are getting stuck thinking too much. That is where I suggest you stop reaching out and start reaching within.

And in a way, I totally resonate with how you are feeling, though I’ve for some reason never struggled with this in business, I remember when I was in fourth grade I was afraid of making mistakes and would go up to the teacher’s desk every time I was unsure, unclear, or worried that I might do something incorrectly. Eventually, the teacher became so frazzled with my constant questioning and fear of mistakes that he stopped allowing me to walk up to the desk and ask any questions. At first, I squirmed, I felt uncomfortable. What if I didn’t do the assignment right? But really, let’s think about this rationally: despite my intense insecurity and fear of failure, if I did even completely fail an assignment (which never actually happened, despite my fears), I would still be fine, I would still breathe, I would learn from the mistakes and move on with my life. I would still graduate from college and I would still start a successful business.

You, my lovely ladies, are the in the exact same boat, you are so afraid of failing and/or comparing yourself to a mystical standard you think you should be at (ie: with your blog or business traffic – big and small, right and wrong, slowly and quickly – it’s all relative) that even if you did fail (which is impossible, by the way, you only fail when you give up on the business – then you fail in business. Any other mistakes, wasted money, time, etc. is not failure! You just learn, become wiser and can later tell someone else what to avoid in the future.) By the way– my failures and successes are all I have to go on each day myself. I am in your shoes just a few levels ahead. That is all. You will be fine, you will still breathe, you will learn from your mistakes and move on with your life.

I hope you make a “mistake” this August. I hope that you have the chance to see the other side of what you are so afraid of. Because, when you are there, it will sting for a day and you will find a sunny way to look at it and keep rolling forward. That’s your personality, that’s the positive part of all of this. You are so capable of overcoming obstacles – which will allow you to be ultimately successful.

So… for this month, I suggest you give updates on what you are doing without asking anyone for advice. You are welcome to tell people all the awesome developments, decisions, choices, and visions you have for your Dream, whatever that is. We will cheer you on! But you are not allowed to ask me for any advice for the month of August. You are my peer now with your business, I want to talk as equals, you aren’t a “student” – you just have less experience at this point. And that is not a big deal.

Here’s another way to look at this: If you were a baseball player, I know that you would have wanted to interview Babe Ruth and find out how he had the most home runs in the league for so long. He was the most “successful” home run player for decades. You would want to know how he did it, so you could replicate his success, right?

Well, his answer seems pretty clear: He has the most home runs because he went to bat the most times. Which means he also had the most strike outs in the league too. Yep, he had the most successes and failures because he simply tried the most times. I’m guessing he wasn’t so much worried about how other people were batting, what their techniques were, he just kept doing what he knew he needed to do and trying. Just kept doing things. I am successful at business because I keep trying, I keep going to bat. I keep failing and I keep hitting home runs. That is the secret. That is what you need to do. No advice required. Your spirit has everything you need in the advice realm.

Maybe you could start writing out your questions, concerns, and fears in a journal and start answering the questions as you go. What you wrote last week might be solvable this week… You will start to be your own adviser.

Phew! I got a little carried away – feeling feisty, but I think you get the point. I care about you and I want you to be successful. If I just wanted to feel important and hear myself talk I would answer all your questions every single time but that is doing you a disservice. It’s the difference between teaching someone to fish or giving them the fish.

I think it could be really transformative for you if you take these days to blaze your own trail and glory in the consequences, both good and not so good.

-Jess!

off the chain: july blog ambassadors

August 4th, 2010   |   Life

As we get just a bit further into August, I want to give a shout out to the newest Jess LC Blog Ambassadors. These lovely ladies have awesome blogs. If you have any time to do some blog reading, I suggest jumping around these sites for inspiration.You can also see the full list of Blog Ambassadors on the site. We are getting close to 100… which means there is a celebration around the corner!

And if you are a bit new to MML and don’t know what a Jess LC Blog Ambassador is, here are the details.

July Jess LC Blog Ambassadors

(Note to all July Ambassadors: I will be emailing you with your Blog Ambassador 15% discount codes this afternoon.)

Good afternoon! I hope you are having a great day so far. I want to pop in and share an interview I did with MML sponsor, Kristi, of the jewelry shop, Mischief by Loki (etsy shop). One thing is clear, this lovely lady knows how to metal smith. And with her designs so refined and site so professional, it’s incredible that she’s less than one year into her business. See how she’s made it a reality in her interview answers.

She’s also generously offered to do a giveaway of one of her gorgeous birthstone rings, contest details are below.

Interview with Kristi, designer of Mischief by Loki

When did you know that you wanted to be a jewelry designer?

I’ve played with color, texture and space in a variety of ways throughout the years, but I never considered myself a designer or a creative or crafty person. I could see a finished product in my head but what I created just never lived up to my vision. I started making some simple beaded earrings several years ago but was never fully satisfied with those either. That was until I decided to add some metal elements and signed up for a metalsmith class at a local community college. Finally! A vehicle that could turn my visions into actual creations.

My husband is the one who encouraged me to open my Etsy shop in January. I still couldn’t quite believe that anyone would want to purchase anything I made–but they do!

What’s your design inspiration?

Inspiration for my designs come from everything I see–the interplay of light and texture and color. Fashion and architecture. Things that are a little mischievous and unexpected. But mostly, inspiration comes from the stones and metal itself. It sounds a little strange, perhaps, but sometimes it seems like the stones I choose ask for certain settings or shapes. The same thing happens with pieces of metal left over from other projects. That means I usually make one of a kind pieces, though many have similar design elements.

The name Mischief by Loki was inspired by my crazy dog Loki. He’s named for the Norse god of trickery and he (and his little sister) are certainly full of mischief. I like to think that their mischievous ways help keep me laughing and looking at everything from unexpected perspectives.

What is your favorite part of entrepreneurship or jewelry design?

My favorite part of designing jewelry is taking kind of plain, individual items and turning them into something lovely. I love to see metal take on new shape and life. There are so many techniques that can be used to create the designs and it’s fun to find new ways to do things.

But I have to say… one of my favorite things is to hear from people who love my creations and get such enjoyment from something completely developed by me. It makes me want to work harder so I can make things even better.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from the business side of jewelry design?

It’s a lot of work! I’m the creative designer, fabricator, supply orderer, shipper, marketer, technical support, and on and on. And that’s after spending all day at my day job. The most important lesson I’m still learning is that it’s so important to take time off. If I try to force myself to fabricate a ring when I’m too tired or grumpy or stressed, I just end up with a glob of melted silver. There’s always something else to do so on those days I work on accounting or learn more about social media or clean my studio.

Where do you see the company going in two years?

At this point I’ve been in business less than a year. It’s hard to imagine where I could be in two years after so much has happened in only a few months! I’m in the process of building a website, which will include a blog where I hope to provide design, creativity and metalsmithing tips and inspiration. But if we’re dreaming big… in two years I would like to see my designs featured in a magazine and on strangers that I pass in the street (ok, even just a few strangers would be fantastic!). I’d also like to make enough money that my husband and I can take an amazing trip every year.

Giveaway – (1) Birthstone Ring

To enter to win your own customized birthstone ring, simply visit Kristi’s shop and comment here on which design is your favorite. Comments will be accepted until next Tuesday, August 10th.

Pardon me, but I’m a little fired up today. While standing in line at the CVS to pick up some contact solution yesterday afternoon, I glanced at the cover of one of the weekly magazines and saw a feature on how “Ali from the Bachelor lost 10 pounds as revenge”… or something like that. Regardless of why she was losing weight as revenge (which is a pretty strange notion to begin with) or what she actually did to achieve the weight loss, I found myself with ruffled feathers.

I know that on another day, in the not-so-distant past, I would have stood there and wondered what she did to lose the weight, wondered how she might be happier now (I mean look, she got a cover feature), and speculated about whether I should try her methods to lose weight myself. But something inside me has shifted (at least for the moment). Ever since the trip to NYC and realizing my intention to pursue PR for Jess LC, my paradigm has changed. Rather than look to others successes for guidance in my life, I’ve become much more interested in my own actions and using those to propel myself further. I’ve become more interested in how I want to become successful than how others have reached their own successes.

Though I think there is a lot to be said about bibliographies, success stories, advice, and research, I also feel many of us are getting too comfortable sitting on the sidelines reading and watching other people achieve their dreams — and then attempting to replicate their achievements in our own lives.

The problem with this copycat method, I believe, is that it leaves us with a second-rate version of what worked for someone else, which doesn’t take into complete consideration all of our own unique factors. And therefore, whatever plan we follow, is innately going to clash with our individual abilities, motivations, and values – which ultimately leads to dissatisfying results, unmaintainable goals, or a simple lack of follow through on our part. Our actions need to speak to us on all levels, spiritually, physically, and mentally, and it’s very hard to really grasp that in a cookie cutter plan or a shadowed routine.

The one major concession I make in the above paragraph is when a particular plan does meet your individual spiritual, physical, and mental values – then the plan could quite possibly work with flying colors. Take my brother, for example. He has been preparing to follow the P90X routine this summer for almost a full year. He researched, thought about it, planned his meals, and devoted the hours he needed in order to reach his goal. He became so intrinsically motivated by the plan and the outcome that he faithfully executed each exercise and nutrition requirement to it’s fullest. He also reaped the rewards he desired in the process. On the other hand, I tried the Weight Watchers program for several months but finally realized I wasn’t seeing results because I wasn’t dealing with the right spiritual issue.

I maintain that many most of our failed attempts come from the fact that we are trying to fit ourselves into a prescribed routine that isn’t capturing our real desires. Or, we are fearful of failure and rush to find comfort in something that has worked for someone else. This constant focus on the information itself keeps us so busy listening to others that we are unable to actually devote the full amount of energy and attention that it takes to reach our goals.

I think this is because we underestimate how much time and devotion it requires to take action, follow through, and maintain progress. We think that if we “know” everything, we will be able to “do” everything. But the real knowledge comes from personal experience, until then, it’s just information in our brains. To follow with the magazine story example, we don’t really know how to lose weight until we actually drop the pounds. Until then we “have the weight loss information” without any experience to back it up.

So, back to my ruffled feathers, I am finding that for the first time I feel bold, less fearful of failure, and more focused on what I’m going to do next. I’m writing my success story each day that I take new actions and try new things. Not all of the things I try will lead to the success I am looking for, but each step ahead is one further away from where I started. It is a constant process that takes into consideration my personal values and goals. My path will be one-of-a-kind and unrepeatable because I am following my gut and trusting things to fall into place. I am following my purpose which is unique to me. Everyone is capable of doing this exact same thing for themselves, they just need to start tapping into what they know and stop looking around at the people next to them.

My Challenge to You

I challenge those who find themselves easily caught in the research and advice trap to take a minute this afternoon and write your own success story. Write out a future magazine feature story detailing how you are successful in three months, six months, or two years from now at the thing you are working towards.

For example, if you want to create a full-time business but are in a desk job, write the story explaining how you made your business so profitable you were able to quit your job after nine months. Explain what actions you took, what marketing efforts you made, what hiring decisions you struggled with. Write it all out and then use that as your own road map to success. Because when you stop and think about it, the story you just wrote captures your spiritual, psychical, and mental abilities and values. Your plan understands you perfectly and you resonate with it 100%.

In summary, stop reading someone else’s success story and start writing your own.

makeunder my week: august 2nd, 2010

August 2nd, 2010   |   Life

(paper from a craft project I worked on this weekend)

Hi Guys,

Can you believe it’s already Monday? I don’t know about you, but I certainly felt like I could have used an extra weekend day. I spent a lot of time on the past two hot, sunny days outside walking around- to the farmers market on Saturday and to Navy Pier (my favorite 7 mile walk in the city) on Sunday. These weekend walks always remind me why I chose to move to Chicago.

Speaking of moving, I have one month left in my lease before moving to my one bedroom on a lower level in this same building. While doing research on mattresses in order to purchase one for my new bedroom, I ended up actually buying one on Saturday. It’s lovely. Despite a bit of a dirt from the bag ripping on the bottom foot of the mattress (which allowed me to snag it for 70% off the original price), it is the most lovely, comfortable, bed I’ve ever laid on. I also plan to take all of your wonderful advice last week about the West Elm bed. My friend Crystal and I checked out the headboard in person at the West Elm store in Chicago and it’s ideal. Now it’s only a matter of saving up for it…

As for MML, I’m excited to finally have more time to sit down each day and prepare posts that I’ve meant to share for the past several weeks. One post in particular, about what to do when you are ready to find your purpose but don’t know what it is, is going to be really helpful for a lot of people (I hope). And then of course I also will be posting the next batch of blog Ambassadors for Jess LC as well!

Have a great week,
Jess!

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