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what i’ve been up to in november

November 30th, 2010   |   Life

Hi Guys,

I know that I haven’t exactly been absent here on MML this November, but the truth is that certainly haven’t had the time to devote to it that I usually do. In the past (and ideally in the future), I spend up to half of my day working on MML related activities. And in recent weeks, time has been difficult to manage. So given a momentary lull in the chaos, I’d like to sit down now and chat with you about what has been going on in my life.

A lot has changed.

When I think back over the past three months they are a blur of activities, risks, challenges, faithfulness, and blessings for both the business and my personal life. And now I’ll do a quick recap of each of those aspects so you can get a full idea of what has happened. Though this kind of self-reflection may not appeal to some readers, I do think it’s pretty interesting and hopefully inspiring for other entrepreneurs or people going through life changes.

Jess LC – Activities

Right after moving to my new apartment in September I flew out to Denver for speaking about social media with American Express OPEN. I also flew to NYC in October to do a press preview with my PR firm, Red Light PR and introduced Jess LC to magazine editors and stylists. I started reaching out to bloggers to work with over the holidays and prepared for the holiday rush by ordering more raw materials than ever before. These actions though without immediate results, laid the foundation for things to come.

Jess LC – Risks

While doing the activities above, I did not see a significant payoff. Though I had faith that they would result in more exposure and sales, I had no guarantee. I had also extended myself further than ever before in my business career. I took out a credit line for inventory and PR and invested serious money into the business. I was no longer taking things baby step by baby step. I was learning to jump.

Jess LC – Challenges

Then the challenges came. The money I had invested in all of these new endeavors was close to completely maxed out. I was hitting the ceiling of my newborn risk threshold. It was time to readjust my PR strategy (going to a bi-annual outreach rather than a monthly retainer). It was time to reconfigure and reflect on what needed to be done with what little there was in cash flow.

Jess LC – Faithfulness

Once I reached my limit with everything I had laid out for the business since the re-branding in April, it was time to look back and reflect. I had devoted a significant amount of my savings this spring to re-imagining Jess LC. And then gone forward with a line of credit to build the new product lines and take on a serious PR firm in LA/NYC. All of these actions I knew deep in my heart were right. They were what was needed to really get Jess LC to a new level. But at the same time, the difference between last year and this year in numbers was not that striking. Especially when you considered how much more equity was in the business.

So it was time to have faith that it would all pay off. I did the best I could with what I had and it was time to leave the rest up to God/Life/Fate. I could only do so much.

Jess LC – Blessings

Right after flying home from NYC and transitioning my PR strategy to be more financially limited, the Daily Candy Deal went live. My PR team had worked hard to make the deal go smoothly, and it was time to see what was possible. The results were staggering. This November we did 280% more business than our busiest month to date. All of the concerns about how I would cover my taxes, savings, and expenses were resolved. So though I certainly don’t feel as though I’m any more wealthy, I feel financially stable, secure, and able to meet my responsibilities.

Seeing how the re-branding, PR, speaking, writing, and essential piece of press combined to create such a tidal wave of business confirmed that all my efforts this year were worthwhile. That my journey has been on the right path all along. When I look at the homepage of the business and compare it to last year, I am still a bit shocked to see how it’s developed into what I’ve envisioned all along. When I chat with the girls while filling online orders the past few weeks I smile and remember that the level of business we are at is what I knew was possible back in 2009.

Personal – Activities

In my personal life, I’ve had a flurry of activity. In the three months I’ve lived in the new apartment I’ve had seven guests visit for fun or business. I’ve continued my running and weight lifting classes. I’ve done a great job at reaching out and deepening friendships with those I’ve known for years.

Personal – Risks

This entire process of moving this fall has been about having faith in the unknown. And in doing everything I have done for Jess LC, my personal life felt out of balance for a while. But rather than tuck my head into my shell I boldly kept going one day at a time.

Personal – Challenges

Over the past few months a few of my close friendships have taken more distant paths. And though it was painful to realize they had altered, I eventually learned to accept that their evolution. I realized they may be making room for new connections and friendships in the future.

Personal – Faithfulness

As with the business, I learned to realize that things were being re-arranged in my life in deep and important ways. And though none of the new changes were immediately wonderful, I remained hopeful. The sheer unknown-ness of so many aspects of my life left me with a deeper sense of faith which has helped me persevere and will make me stronger for challenges that lie ahead.

Personal – Blessings

Over the past few weeks I have felt a merging of all of the disparate aspects of my personal life. Things that before seemed puzzling, disorienting, and unfinished are weaving together to form a new social life, sense of belonging, and rhythm which is new and inspiring. I’ve made a new yet profound friendship and I’m rediscovering what I want out of my life. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

So there you have it. The full story. This is what I’ve been up to over the past few months and specifically the past few weeks. Looking at this letter in it’s totality leaves me with a renewed sense of the life I’d like to design for 2011.

Thank you for sticking by me here each day as I share my journey. You’ve been the most wonderful support system for me during one of the most transformational years of my life.

With love,
Jess

last chance for 35% off Jess LC in 2010

November 29th, 2010   |   Life

[image credit]

Just in case you haven’t seen the Daily Candy Deal, check out the details here to snag 35% off all Jess LC goods. The discount ends on December 2nd (this Thursday) – so order your items now if you’d like to save some cash.

(It’s also a good idea in general to order any gifts you are planning to get by DEC/15.)

Love,

Jess & the elves

tree-less ornament display

November 29th, 2010   |   Style

Good morning! I am excited to say that things have slowed down ever so slightly at Jess LC and I hope to have some more time this week to really get back in my favorite “thinking with intention” MML groove.

In the meantime, I wanted to share an idea I had this weekend while decorating my apartment for the holidays. Since my new home doesn’t have a good spot for a traditional Christmas tree (large or small), I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to display the dozens of childhood ornaments that I’ve collected over the years.

Then I realized that the necklace tree that I got from Urban Outfitters does a great job at displaying ornaments as well. No mess, no fuss, and a great way to save money for small spaces.

jess lc holiday ordering info

November 25th, 2010   |   Life

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just in case you are looking to do some Black Friday shopping, here is a bit of holiday ordering info. We recommend ordering any Jess LC jewelry for the holidays before December 15th since we hand assemble each piece and shipping can take longer than usual during the holiday season.

november do’s and don’ts

November 24th, 2010   |   Life

Kelsey author of the Captial Barbie with her take on November’s Do’s and Don’ts.

Kelsey’s November Dos and Don’ts List

Hey there lovebugs.  Welcome to the holiday season!  Fall is upon us and before you know it Santa will be right around the corner.  But before he gets here I wanted to do a special list on thankfulness.

thankful (adjective)- feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
Synonyms: gratitude, admiration, love

For one moment, sit still and think about the word thankful.  When was the last time you used it?  Maybe in the form of “thank you” which if you ask me isn’t used enough these days.  Perhaps it was a casual “thanks” or in an email “tx”.  But when was the last time you thought about the word “thankful”?  Was it last Thanksgiving?  When were you last FULL of thanks? Let’s try to be more thankful year round instead of just at the holidays.  There is so much in our daily lives that we take for granted.  Be full of thanks for the little and the big things.

Here’s my list of the dos and don’ts of being thankful.

Do

  • Be thankful for your mom’s/grandma’s/sister’s/or aunt’s apple pie recipe.
  • Take time every single day to think about just ONE thing you are thankful for, even if its an awesome eyebrow wax.
  • A la mode everything.
  • Do take seconds.  On everything: dinner, life, friends, and family.
  • Give back.  However you can.

Don’t

  • Wear Spanx to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Be greedy or gluttonous.
  • Think about the calories in the gravy: if you eat it with turkey ON Thanksgiving its 0 calories.  You didn’t know that?
  • Forget to ask your grandparents to tell you a story about their past.
  • Forget your sneakers on Black Friday.

[photo credit]

Good morning! I hope you are doing well. I will admit I’ve been a bit MIA here on MML. But please know that I’m doing the best I can to keep driving Jess LC and devote as much time to MML as possible. This holiday season has already launched into totally new level of business for us – before Black Friday no less – and we are working as hard as possible without driving ourselves crazy. A tricky balance as you can imagine.

Speaking of balance, I have a great new Midnight Hustler interview with Jo Jo of the non-profit Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio. I’m excited to present a non-profit founder’s approach to balancing her day job and passion. I love Jo Jo’s perspective on taking action with drive and determination.

Enjoy!

When you first got really serious about launching your non-profit full-time and were still working your day job, what fears did you have about making the shift? How did you overcome those fears?

You name the fear and I had it! How do I do it?  I don’t have a non-profit background?  What about the struggling economy?  Will people support the effort?  Will I be able to do it?  How will I make money?

What I have found to be true in other areas of my life, proved to be true here too.  Though I didn’t have all the answers I just began taking ACTION and WORKING!  I didn’t have a background in the non-profit world and know all the steps to take so I asked someone who did know for guidance.  For months, I spent hours each day reading books and researching the internet to gain knowledge in the industry (I still do this today).  The economy was, and still is, facing challenges but I believed without a shadow of doubt that the purpose and intention behind this effort far outweighed the financial concern and the schools and children in the community couldn’t afford not to have the educational opportunity.  I didn’t know if people would support the effort but I knew this project would always be a community effort and take the work of many so I just began sharing my vision and asking people to join me in helping to make it a reality.  Some people told me they didn’t have the time or the last thing our community needed right now was yet another non-profit to support.  But at the same time others cheered at the concept and immediately joined in my efforts of making this a reality and before I knew it I was sitting around a board room table (which, by the way, I had to rent for the day) presenting the Dancing Classrooms program to the individuals who would move on to become the Founding Board of Directors of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio (DCNEO) a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

I didn’t have all the answers that day and I still don’t today but I’ve never stopped working.  I made the decision to begin this journey in January 2008 (who says no one keeps their New Year’s resolutions?) and launched the program in four elementary schools that September!  In nine short months a non profit organization was established, a handful of people from the community championed the cause, a local Teaching Artist was hired and trained to implement the program, and four schools believed in the program’s impact enough to make the investment and say YES!  Oh, did I also mention I was living in New York City at the time, five hundred miles from Northeast Ohio?

During the 2008-2009 school year, our organization served children in twenty-four classrooms throughout ten schools.  I asked for help when I needed it, educated myself and sought the answers in all that was unfamiliar, and worked…hard!

How did you structure your day balancing both your job and your growing non-profit? Did it require any sacrifices?

One of the many things in which I was so fortunate is that the Dancing Classrooms program that I was working to hard to establish in my hometown of Ohio was the same program I was working for in my day job in New York City.  The documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and feature film Take the Lead (with Antonio Banderas) had been released a couple years prior and attracted some interest at a national level for communities to bring the program to their area as a licensee.

As a Teaching Artist and Education Liaison for the program I spent my days seeing the impact this program was making in the lives of the children, their schools, families, and communities and it only further ignited the fire to make that a reality for the children in the communities of Northeast Ohio.

Organization and efficiency were key components to my success.  I haven’t spent a day without a “To Do” list since I’ve started.  I prioritized my tasks each day by which ones needed to be taken care of during “normal” business hours of a school day since those were my customers.  I dealt with those on my breaks between classes or as I walking to a school and would find myself on a “quiet” NYC street that wouldn’t be too disruptive.  My blackberry worked overtime as I tried as hard as possible to implement the “only touch something once” rule and respond to incoming emails immediately which allowed the process to move forward quickly.  I’d compose or respond to messages while on the subway and then send all the messages once I was above ground.  I maximized each and every moment of the day and then really went to work at night!

At night I worked on things like learning how to write grant proposals to foundations for support.  Who those foundations in our community were and how should I approach them?  What corporations philanthropic efforts aligned with our program and we would approach them for support?  How to write press releases and get our name out in the community?  Not only was I having to learn how to do all those things, I also had to actually put the pen to the paper (or my fingers to the keys) and do them!  I did have the support and help of by Board of Directors and an intern at times but at the end of the day I was the one leading the way.

I turned down many nights of going out with friends, rarely watched television, and did not get the recommended healthy amount of sleep…I worked!  At the time I didn’t even look at them as sacrifices because I was so invested, on every level, with making this a reality.

How did you select your quit date and how did your company respond to the decision? Were they surprised? Where they supportive?

As I mentioned earlier, I was incredibly fortunate that my day job for the exact same program I was working so hard to bring to my hometown.  Granted it was in a different state and for a completely separate non profit organization but that meant that the organization I worked for in my day job (Dancing Classrooms New York City) were 100% in the know and cheering me on every step of the way; when I had made the decision in January 2008 to pursue this opportunity I was becoming a licensee of the NYC program and a part of their National Network.  They knew my time with their organization was limited and my current positions with their organization allowed me the flexibility to travel back to Ohio each month and spend a week working on my new organization locally to ensure things were on track, program quality was in place as it should be, and spend my days in meetings so that I could continue establishing and cultivating relationships in that community.

Ironically when I set out on the journey I made the statement (in writing) that I wanted to be back living in Northeast Ohio in about two years.  Two years has a way of coming and going very quickly and in July of 2009 my intention was that I would spend one more year in NYC and continue the back and forth.  I hadn’t taken a single penny for a paycheck from Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio and I just didn’t think we were at a level that could support the move.  Frankly, I was scared but wouldn’t have admitted that at the time.

Thankfully, the right people are put in your life and I will forever be grateful that someone was there to give me the push I didn’t want but needed.  A tremendous amount of momentum had been created in the community (all that work had paid off), the “job” was shifting and needed a presence in the community full time.  Two weeks after that conversation, and many lists of pros & cons, I took that leap of faith and shared my decision to leave the organization, move 500 miles back to Northeast Ohio, signed a lease on an apartment, bought a car, and outlined my plan of attack to make sure we were at a level of growth to provide me with a small paycheck.  I received my first paycheck from the organization in October 2009 and though I’ve had bigger checks, never has one meant so much!

I looked fear straight in the face, acknowledged that it was there and I was indeed afraid, and then took a leap of faith.  The greatest decision I’ve ever made (on so many levels) and all the hard work paid off!  The organization grew to serve thirty-six classes throughout fifteen schools during the 2009-2010 school year!  Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio will turn three on March 25, 2011 and we will celebrate with our first Benefit Gala that is being planned by a committee of volunteers.  We are on track to experience additional growth again this year and our outreach has already expanded into a new county within Northeast Ohio.

As for all those fears I had as I sat crossed legged on my bed in New York City wondering if I could make this work, some are still there and others have been replaced with new ones but I just keep taking action!

What is the best piece of advice you wish you had before you started your midnight hustling to have a smoother transition to self-employment?

There will always be something to do and at some point you have to learn to be at peace with that.  The trick, of course, is knowing which tasks and responsibilities can wait until Monday.  Self-employment takes hard work and is all about discipline but even our blackberries need to be re-charged and doing that for yourself is a vital component to success too!  This sense of balance continues to be a challenge for me and I’m learning many leaders share the same struggle when I ask them how they find balance but I think it’s important to allow yourself the time to separate from your projects and enjoy the life you’ve found yourself in so that when Monday morning arrives your ready for action!

I can’t believe this will be my last Dream Reporter post!!  It’s hard to believe that only 6 months ago I started this journey.  (well, 6 months plus years of dreaming, researching and getting up the nerve to actually do this!)  I’m going to miss our weekly chats!  You all have been the most amazing and supportive cheerleaders.  I don’t know how to thank you enough for following me through this adventure!  Although it did get me thinking that I wanted to offer you, at the very least, a small token of my appreciation. But you’ll have to wait until the end of the post for more info!

I thought I would share with you some things I wrote down years ago.  I’ve always kept a journal and for my last post here I thought it would be interesting to look back and see how long I’ve been thinking about this.  Well, look what I found…back in 2000 I had some of the same ideas!  Not well formed but they were there in some shape.  At that point, I had a vision for a brick & mortar boutique that would sell cd’s and home accessories and even aromatherapy products  – fun to see how some things change yet some stay the same!!  Even the descriptive words – some stuck and some – not so much!


Honestly you guys – if I can do this, anyone can!  I spent years being afraid of the unknown, afraid to follow my passion and spent way too much time playing the “what if” game.  (not to mention, too much time toiling away at my misery-inducing corporate jobs).  It took just going day-by-day, moment-by-moment to get past those fears and reaching out to others for help when I needed it.  And as Jess likes to say – it really is a marathon not a sprint.

My journey is actually just beginning…I have lots to do to build one sydney road into something that allows me to live my dream for the long term (i.e. bring home a paycheck!)  But I’m learning (still a work in progress!)  to enjoy the here & now -  everyday that I get to live my dream, well, I have to admit, that’s a pretty darn beautiful day.  Not to say there haven’t been ups & downs already and many more to come – but I know I’m going to work my butt off to keep this dream alive!  It honestly took just dreaming at first and then working a bit here or there to get to this point.  I know it’s hard when you’re working or have children or any number of things – but trust me your dreams are too important to put off.  Just take even 5 minutes each day to do something, anything towards your own dream.


I’m really looking forward to the next Dream Reporter and seeing them go along their journey.  I’m amazed at how much it helped me – it was the weekly “weigh in” that I needed.  (too bad I didn’t lose any actual weight!!)  I felt accountable to you, to Jess and myself.  So I just know that the next Reporter is going to be amazing especially since you’ll all be cheering them on!!

As a special thanks for following me all these months, listening to me and offering advice and support through the high notes and the low, low notes, I wanted to do something for you guys.  I believe in giving back (building up those karma points!) and so I thought I’d offer you all a special discount to the store.  Just use the code “GETOSR15″ to get 15% off your order.  It’s a small token of my huge THANKS to all of you.  Sending you all a big virtual hug. : ) You know where to find me!!

the next two days

November 19th, 2010   |   Life

Just want to give a quick shout out/reminder that today and tomorrow Melissa and I will be at the Gazebo Holiday Market at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 W. Washington) for a Jess LC trunk show. Details here.

And enjoy the newest (and best) holiday commercial I’ve seen this year. :)

end of the week exfoliation: free printer

November 18th, 2010   |   Style

(Update: Printer has been claimed!)

In honor of my old series, The End of the Week Exfoliation (each week for two years I got rid of one item in my home that I didn’t need, use, or love), I’m giving away a color printer I no longer need. With my new assistants, Melissa and Kat, we now need two to three computers at a time and a wireless printer. Which means this color printer is no longer needed.

If you live in the Chicago area and want to pick up this Cannon printer in Lakeview, please email me at jess@jesslc.com. The first person who emails and comes to pick it up gets it.

my eulogy

November 17th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Jessica was an incredible person. She was kind, full of integrity, and helped people worldwide live a life with intention. She took ordinary circumstances and turned them into something world changing. She created a sense of power, love, and intention that has shaped and reshaped the lives of women across the globe.

Her outgoing, friendly, and collaborative attitude is living through the centers she founded nationwide and online. Women are teaching other women about their experiences.

Jessica started a jewelry business at the age of 15 and grew it until the age of 30 and handed it over to another passionate owner/manager. She helped people along the way blogging, speaking, and writing. She had numerous coaching opportunities and created dozens of centers that helped women one-on-one with “life with intention” courses on a variety of topics including business, home, life, thinking, and more. She also taught classes online and later created a vacation center where people could fly and partake in intensive classes.

She lived in Chicago for many years and eventually moved to California. She married in her late twenties/early thirties. She had a fantastic, supportive, and encouraging marriage. She was a mom of two children and loved having Westies in her life. She was a runner and yoga enthusiast. She adored decorating her homes and was creative, but was not an accomplished cook.

She was a deeply spiritual person and attributed her success to the pursuit of her role on Earth. She began teaching, speaking, and writing full-time in 2014.

She has been abundantly blessed in her life and donated 10% of her profits to causes worldwide. She eventually founded a scholarship program for people to take MML classes for free and helped women in shelters design their lives with intention.

Jessica loved speaking – one-on-one and in large groups – she shared her wisdom from her own experiences and let that speak for itself.

She was a curious, introspective, and goofy woman who never “slowed down.” She had an innate knowledge of her self worth and recognized the same unlimited potential in each person she met.

The Back-story

Wow. Okay, putting that all out there is kind of like standing naked on a platform. But I decided to share the eulogy I wrote while in New York a few weeks ago to do two things: the first is to inspire you to do the same for your own life, and the second is to share what I really am all about. To help you really get to know me. The idea to write the eulogy came from The E Myth Revisited, which I was reading while in NYC. It is also something that The Seven Habits speaks about in Habit 2 as well. And though I did a great deal of thinking about it while reading The Seven Habits, I had never taken the time to actually pen it out.

As you know, I’m all about writing a yearly intention letter, but writing about my whole life? That took some guts and the courage to be proven wrong. Sure, I might not accomplish all of what I just laid out there. It’s sweeping in magnitude, rambles, and doesn’t accurately portray my overall sense of my life (there is way more focus on my career legacy than my personal/family life – which will obviously play a larger role; I just don’t know what it will look like just yet). But the point is that it brought out things within my soul that I didn’t know where there.

While writing the eulogy, I finally figured out when I will be focusing on MML related activities full-time. By the time I’m 30 (four years from now), my goal is to hand over Jess LC to another manager and/or owner. I’ve known that my ultimate legacy is not jewelry, but I’ve never set a date for when my life would begin to be devoted to my purpose full-time. Now I have a target to shoot for, a point to prepare for.

I also realized that there are so many, many ways that I can fulfill my purpose. I can have locations across the country, I can have a vacation center for intensives, I can have classes online. I can teach one-on-one with business coaching, I can speak, and I can write. And though I may not do them all, I have the opportunity to try any one of those avenues. But the best part is that I’m now thinking about them, playing with them in my mind, waiting to see which one is the right “fit” for me.

So now I encourage you to do the same, take some time to actually write about what you want to do, how you want to live, and what you want to be like. You might discover something deeply important and life-changing. I know I did.

light pumpkin dip dessert

November 16th, 2010   |   Food

lindaspumpkindip

While looking at the MML stats I’ve noticed that my mom’s Pumpkin Dip has been getting quite a bit of hits through Google (people are probably searching “healthy pumpkin dessert”). So I thought it might be a good idea to re-share the dessert since Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

What I personally love about this dip is that it’s pretty low-cal – which in my book means I can eat more of it.

Enjoy!

Linda’s Pumpkin Dip

  • One 8oz cool whip
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg will work in a pinch)
  • 15oz canned pumpkin
  • Gingerbread men or graham crackers
  1. Thaw cool whip. Mix pumpkin, dry vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. Fold in thawed cool whip and serve.

giving art a second life

November 16th, 2010   |   Style

My first piece of advice when making under a home is to envision what you want your space to look and feel like. Then, once that vision is defined, the next step is to exfoliate the items that do not fit the future vision.

For me, artwork is difficult to exfoliate. I have purchased a few large-scale canvas wrapped prints from Bed Bath & Beyond in the past three or four years which I have outgrown. They no longer fit the vision I have for my space. But rather than pass them on or toss them, I’ve decided to give them a second life with a new coat of paint. The canvases alone at this size could cost upwards of $80 at an art store and just by doing some simple paint techniques on top of the print, I get a whole new look without spending much cash.

The art at the top of this post is now hanging above my bed. I decided that I was over the cool blues that permeated my apartment last year in favor of something bolder and slightly more feminine. Though I’m far from being an artist, the outcome is exactly what I was looking for. What I also love about this idea is that you can go to your local thrift store and find other not-so-great canvases and do the same thing.

(Before shot courtesy of Becki Schleis.)

the 10 things that make me happy

November 15th, 2010   |   LifeStyleWardrobe

Today I’m guest posting over at Sacramento Street about the 10 things that make me happy. Since I talk mostly about exfoliating stuff I no longer need, use, or love here on MML, it was a joy to write about the 10 things that I do need, use, and love in my apartment.

Hop on over to Caitlin’s blog to check out my favorite handbag, floor lamp, and winter gear among other goodies!

upcoming jess lc trunk shows

November 15th, 2010   |   Life

The past four weeks have been such a whirlwind. Because of which, I’ve taken two days to rest and I am now doing the best I can to “keep calm and carry on.” But the truth is that things are running at a whole new level. We are still filling our online orders as fast as possible and prepping for two awesome upcoming trunk shows this week.

If you are in Chicago and want to swing by either of the events below, please do so! I’ve been getting a lot of emails about meeting up with MML readers and given my crazy-busy schedule, I think the best way to meet in person is at these events. No need to buy anything (but of course, feel free to!), I’d love to chat either way.

We’ll also be doing a handful of trunk shows at Macy’s on Fridays throughout December as well (I’ll post about those later). But other that those few dates, these two events are the only times to pick up any Jess LC pieces in person before the holidays.

watch your thoughts

November 13th, 2010   |   Think About It

piper’s dream report: week twenty five

November 12th, 2010   |   Life

Hi everyone!  I have to say it’s been interesting, to say the least, the past 2 weeks of being open.  I have to admit that I haven’t fully embraced the idea that I’m actually a full-time business owner.  I still feel like I’m just playing one on TV (well, really the interweb!)  I think that’s probably a bit of the fear monster talking – if I embrace this life, which I love – what if it doesn’t work?  Ahh, the what if’s!!


A big smile lights up my face every time I see an order come through.  My favorite part so far has been packaging orders.  Seeing the products they ordered, putting those special touches on each package, getting to talk to the customers – it’s just too cool!!   I wish my whole day could be that…but alas there are those pesky little things that need to get done!  And so many darn things to learn!  I’m in the middle of figuring out how to create a newsletter.  So not only do I need to figure out what I want to say and what should be in it…I need to figure out how to use the mailing list software!  I tend to find that my eyes are always bigger than my stomach (in this case, my stomach is my knowledge of anything tech related!)  I always have these grand ideas (remember, I’m an idea person!) but making them work or putting it together is still the struggle for me.  At the very least, I’m getting better with my type A, perfectionist, procrastination thing!  Only because with no Plan B (i.e. no steady paycheck) it forces me to get things done!

I’ve started delving in to the marketing and promotion side of the business.  I’ve learned quickly that you have to make your own success and pave your own way.  I’m hopeful that one of the giant blogs will pick me up, but until then, it’s up to me!  I’ve been busy brainstorming new styling shots and plans to involve customers and blog readers more! I constantly have all these ideas – it’s just a matter of finding the time to do them.  (I hate to say it, but I’m still completely buried from all those weeks spent working on the website – my hope was to be caught up by this week next month??)


As I’m winding down my Dream Reporter posts (I can’t believe next week will be my last post!!  I’m going to miss these weekly chats!!!) I still can’t believe where I am now compared to 6 months ago when I started.  It’s so interesting and inspiring to see everything that’s been happening to Jess and her company of late.  To see that difference between a new company and a seasoned one and how she got to where she is.  I know I want to be in this for the long haul – so I definitely need to take her advice (the one she gives me all the time!)…it takes time so keep plugging away and never stop working and learning!

Good morning! Today’s DYL features Taylor of the fashion and lifestyle blog, Sterling Style. I admit that I don’t read that many fashion blogs, but Taylor’s has definitely caught my eye and I’ve loved following along in the past few months. Her California style and interest in fitness and Crossfit add such a unique flavor to her posts that I find really refreshing. If you haven’t seen her site, I’d recommend checking it out. Her blog is well curated and I’m dying over her Creme de la Creme tote she’s now selling on Etsy. As for Taylor’s intentions, I’m pondering how I can implement my own version of her last intention in my life as well.

Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Taylor of Sterling Style

I have always tried to live each day aware of who I am and how I treat others. Now, that I am in the public eye I feel it is even more important. I want to be a role model for women of all ages. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin, be kind, and strive for the best. There is so much pressure out there for women to be skinny and look perfect. I want to show others that being confident and not fearing rejection and failure is a beautiful thing.

I believe that taking care of your health should come before everything! If I feel tired, stressed or out of shape my whole life crumbles around me. I make sure to carve out time everyday to focus on me.  Whether it is going for a run, heading to yoga, reading a book, or relaxing in a hot bath, I plan something to calm my mind and make me feel good. This keeps me sharp and ready for any challenge that may come my way.

I love that my blog is an outlet for my creativity. Every day I get to create a new experience for people and hopefully inspire them. I have always enjoyed working creative projects. When I was younger I would sit for hours cutting out images from magazines and making collages or directing and starring in music videos with my girlfriends.  If I don’t challenge myself to try new things I become restless and irritated. Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs that feature DIY craft projects. It is so fun to come up with a new idea and try to make it work.

I think one thing people are surprised by when they meet me is what a goofball I am. I hate to take myself too seriously. Life is too stressful to spend every day worried and upset. Whenever I have a bad day I force myself to smile and find something to laugh about. They say that the simple act of smiling can actually make you happier. I also like to blast rap music and dance and act a fool with my boyfriend. It cures all my sorrows.

This is something I am trying to enforce, but is so difficult for me.  I want to eat dessert and shop whenever I can! However, I am learning that saving for a special splurge can make it all the more worth it.  I remind myself that if I eat healthy all week and hit my goals I can splurge one night and have a big gooey brownie instead of little pieces of chocolate every night. I also tell myself that if I stop buying so many cheap handbags that one day I may be able to afford my dream bag!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

real simple features Jess LC

November 10th, 2010   |   Life

Oh my goodness what a week it has been. I have been so thankful for all of the wonderful MML contributors this week like Alaina, Kendi, and of course, Piper. While I’ve been rather MIA here, I’ve been hustling with Jess LC big time. Our Daily Candy feature last week has flooded us with hundreds of orders which Susie, Melissa, Kat (our newest assistant), and I are working on as quickly as possible.

And to add even more icing on the cake, yesterday evening one of my favorite magazine subscriptions arrived in the mail. Flipping to page 239, I found our Division Chevron Bangle shining brightly. As a designer, this feature means much more than past press hits like the US Weekly or People Magazine because it cites our name and website. This means that people who like the bangle can actually find us- pretty important to a small business owner as you can imagine. What the overall outcome of this mention will bring, only time will tell.

When I look back to where Jess LC was a year ago, I can hardly believe my eyes. Everything I’ve worked so hard for is coming to fruition. Like I farmer, I’ve planted the seeds and it seems that this harvest is finally maturing. The business I’ve designed so diligently with intention is taking shape.

And I couldn’t be more thankful.

Thank you so much for the great response to this new Midnight Hustler series! I’m excited to expand on this aspect of “designing a life with intention” more in the upcoming months.

Today I have picked our very own Dream Reporter‘s brain for her story on jumping the corporate ship to start One Sydney Road full-time. Piper is a recent alumni of the Midnight Hustling crowd, so her experiences are from the not-so-distant past and her actions might definitely be applicable for a lot of other Midnight Hustlers out there.

Enjoy!

When you first got really serious about launching your companies full-time and were still working your day job, what fears did you have about making the shift? How did you overcome those fears?

The better question is “what fears didn’t I have?!” Of course, the main one was “how do I take the leap in this economy – who leaves their job?” and “am I crazy?”  (ok, don’t answer that!)  Another fear was that creeping doubt as to whether I could actually run my own business and earn a living from it.  Although I had spent years researching and even got my degree in Entrepreneurship – reality is much different than that cozy, wonderful dream world!  The constant question nagging me was “could I really do this – what if I don’t have enough experience or know-how?”

I got over the fear in a few ways (and by no means is it gone forever – the fear definitely creeps up still – I just have more ways to deal with the little monster now and I’m refusing to let it have the final say – just because I’m feeling scared, doesn’t mean I get to use that as an excuse to not pursue my dream!)  The first thing I did was get my finances in order and really look at what I would need to bring in if I was to leave my job, how long could we survive, do we have enough savings – I think the more you know the answers to these questions (even if the answers aren’t pretty!), the more you can figure out how to get from point A to point B.  It might take some time (and trust me, patience is not my strong suit!!)  But knowing it’ll take 1 year to save up versus “who knows when” is a hell of a lot better!!

The other thing for me was more personal.  My mother, who was my role model & best friend, died at the young age of 62.  Boy, does that make you realize how short life truly is – and I knew I didn’t want to spend another moment of it feeling miserable and not pursuing my passion.  Nothing helps get you past that fear than realizing that you only have one life to live and you best make it a good one!!

How did you structure your day balancing both your job and your growing business/blog? Did it require any sacrifices?

I wish I could say it was easy -  but the honest answer is that it was a lot of work and did require some sacrifices.  On the same hand, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I was doing something I was passionate about and knew there was a bigger picture to consider.  I was somewhat lucky that my day job didn’t keep me busy enough.  This gave me some extra time to work on my store.  Unfortunately I couldn’t really consider this quality working time – not when you constantly have to switch your screen when someone walks past your desk so they don’t see that you’re on the internet.  Or not being able to listen to music and lay out all my inspiration files on my desk to get creative and inspired.  Plus our access on the internet was blocked for a good chunk of sites that I needed to visit!

So basically this required me to get organized – I created a to-do list that had a section titled “Work to be done at home” and another titled “Work to be done at work”.  Every night I would break up this list into what could be feasibly done at work – anything that couldn’t, meant I would have to come home and work on those items.  I would only schedule a lunch break one or 2 times a week – instead choosing to work on my business through lunch.

And yes, you guessed it, it meant lots of LONG hours once I got home.  I would get home around 4:30pm and would almost immediately get on the computer and work until 9 or 10 at night – every night.  Weekends were no longer that – they were just days where I didn’t have to go in to my day job and could spend both days getting things done on my own business.  (this was actually a bigger sacrifice and took some time getting used to because at the same time I started working weekends on the business, my hubby, who worked weekends for years, was finally in a position to work just normal Mon-Fri work days!!  Figures, right?!)  Again, it was focusing on the big picture that helped me get through this!

How did you select your quit date and how did your company respond to the decision? Were they surprised? Where they supportive?

Ah, the quit date!!  I seriously, over the years, have had a bunch of quit dates – I used these as ways to get through the misery of working my day job – “only 3 months and I can quit”!  Of course this was just a psychological game I played with myself to pretend that I could actually leave at any time!  Then when I was actually working on starting my store, I would set a quit date for say 4 months in the future and when that date showed up and I was nowhere near ready (as in, no website, no products) I’d just set a new one (pretty sure I had about 4 quit dates!)  This went on for way too long.  It took signing on with a web designer & getting a “go live” date to really get serious about an actual quit date. I realized pretty quickly that there was no way I could give 110% to my business if I was still working full time.  So I set my non-fake actual quit date!  And lucky for me, my boss and co-workers were very supportive.

What is the best piece of advice you wish you had before you started your midnight hustling to have a smoother transition to self-employment?

Some of the best advice I received revolved around the same thing – listen to your instinct, your gut.  I constantly would try and quiet my gut (and not just by eating!)  But the more I listened, the louder it got.  It started as some quiet murmuring about how dissatisfied I was at my day job and how there has to be something better.  Then it just got louder and louder over time until it was absolutely shouting at me (and trust me, I still kept trying to not listen – but boy can my gut get loud!)   That’s when I realized my instinct was telling me it was time to take the leap and work on my business full time – that I was ready for the challenge. I think our instinct knows more than we give it credit for!

When it comes to questions about designing a life with intention, I often get asked about how to launch a small business dream while juggling an un-fulfilling day job. For most people, the answer is to grow the business on the side while working a 9-5 position until the dream business is profitable enough to take full-time. Niki coined the term “Midnight Hustlers” for this band of entrepreneurs growing their business late at night, early in the morning, and on the weekends.

Though it might be argued that Jess LC is my own version of a “day job” since it isn’t directly related to my purpose (helping others design a life with intention), I wanted to share the experiences of my Midnight Hustler friends who are now pursuing their vocations full-time after working for large companies. This interview series is designed to share their personal experiences with jumping off the corporate ship and building a life raft to their next venture.

I know that many Midnight Hustlers feel isolated while working hard during their free time alone, and hopefully these stories will be inspiring and helpful for those who are burning the Midnight oil or are thinking about doing so in the future. Each Hustler had her own method to create the life she wanted and I hope that this series highlights how many different ways there are to go about accomplishing your dreams.

Our first Midnight Hustler is Kendi, of KendiEveryday. As you know, we’ve worked together on the recent Diversey lookbook, and I’ve been constantly impressed by her desire to be her own boss in a community where self-employment is rare.

Enjoy!

When you first got really serious about launching your blog full-time and were still working your day job, what fears did you have about making the shift? How did you overcome those fears?

My situation is unique as I help my husband with his photography business and I run a style blog. Although I don’t consider Kendi Everyday a “company”, I did decide to take it
full time. I was already working basically full time on my blog, full time at my day job, and weekends with my husband on photography so really more than anything I needed a break from one. And my blog or my husband’s business was not going to be it. So had to make a choice, stay put or jump in.

The biggest fear I had for going full-time was/is failure. I say is because while I conquer one fear of failure, another one creeps right on in. I have a feeling this is a constant in
owning your own business. Besides public speaking, I’m pretty sure that failure is on everyone’s top list of fears so I know I’m not alone out there. But my fear of failure came
out in a form of question. An innocent question at that. It started when I wanted to quit my job and that’s when the fear starting rolling in in the form of “What If?”

“What if” became my frenemy. I thought that I was doing some good by playing devil’s advocate and covering all of my bases of the unknown. I would ask my husband “What if I fail? What if it doesn’t work? What if blah blah blah, insert anxious filled question here?” all of the time. “What if” became my motto for a few weeks, with me dreaming up a new terrible scenario in my head and asking my husband to rate the possibility of it actually happening. (He never answered my ridiculous requests). “What if” became my crutch, my excuse for not doing anything but whine. A swan song of modern times.  After a few weeks of this, I realized that the only way to stop asking these draining questions was to quit my job and take the leap into the unknown. So I stopped questioning, faced my fear of what if and I quit.  Once my three weeks was turned in, I could no longer ask the “What If” scenarios because I was now living it. My reality was now open up to everything that I’d been dreaming up to fear. And you know what? Not one of those scenarios has come true thus far.

I feared the unknown of quitting my job, even though I had my ducks in a row, even though I knew it was time. I had created a fear for what I needed to do and instead I hid behind two simple words — what if. But the minute I stopped asking “What If” in a pitiful voice of fear and asking it in a strong voice of reason, my situation changed. No longer did I ask “What if I fail?” I asked “What if I don’t try? What if I don’t step out there?” And by simply changing the question, I was able to see that no matter what happened in my dark terrible scenarios that I dreamt up, nothing was as bad as what if I didn’t ever try. When you think about it, failure isn’t a bad thing to live with. I’ve failed many times and plan to again in my life. But I’d rather remember the times I tried and failed than regret the times I never tried.

How did you structure your day balancing both your job and your growing blog?

My day job was just that — a day job.  It was my Monday through Friday commitment that allowed me to continue my work on my blog, financially speaking. Once I realized that I didn’t want to spend my life’s work building someone else’s company, I took my job just as a path that would take me from where I was to where I wanted to be. I worked hard at my job while I was there and tried my best to leave it there when I left for the day. My second job (my blog) started the minute I left work. My husband and I would take outfit photos right after work (we still do) and in between dinner, cleaning and being a wife I’d work about 4 hours a night on the blog, editing photos, writing posts, answering emails. During the day I’d answer a few emails and questions that I could, but the majority of work was done at home after hours.

The balance is still being figured out. I’m a tiny bit of a type a personality so I can be prone to work too long, too hard. I struggle with balance a lot like how do I watch a movie instead of blogging or writing or some other random activity that pertains to my blog? I struggle with letting my new job be my only full time job, instead of functioning at the speed I was  functioning at for almost a year. So that is my next challenge, to realize that my full time job is now my only job.

Did this require any sacrifices?

Of course it did! But in a way our life in this small town was set up this way from the beginning, so it wasn’t a cut and dry sacrifice. Where I live it is hard to find young people to hang out with. And even if I did, we’d have to travel 45 minutes to have anywhere decent to go hang out. So with close friends nearby out of the picture, my husband and I were able to both launch a business or a blog in our spare time. He launched a wedding photography business and I my blog. (I realize this sounds pathetic and lonely but no worries we have close friends that don’t live too far away) One day when we pick up and move from this small retirement community and we most definitely settle in an area with young blood, we will have to figure out a balance between social life and work. Which is a balance I’m excited about.

Of course along the way there were other nominal sacrifices, we gave up cable, we don’t eat out very often in order to save for Bryan’s photography business, etc. But when I think about the short term return versus the long term return I don’t mind these types of sacrifices. Besides, no one ever built a company by watching 8 hours of Gilmore Girls marathon.

How did you select your quit date and how did your company respond to the decision?

I hate to admit this but I quit my job on a whim and about a month earlier than my husband and I had planned. We knew that it had been coming for a while, so there was a definite plan for when I would quit. But the weekend before, it became overwhelmingly clear that I was supposed to quit, so the next day I went in and I let my company know. The company I worked for responded okay, as they didn’t quite understand my new ventures. Only a few people at my work even knew about my blog, so explaining to them in full what I would be doing would have taken me a lot longer to explain, starting with a “what is a blog” lesson. It was hard to leave my position, my salary, my security but I knew in my heart it was time.

Were they surprised? Were they supportive?

I’m not sure if anyone was surprised. I think a few people were but the ones closest to me were not. And on the flip side not extremely supportive.  Of course I knew this going into it, however. I knew that my support would not come from coworkers but from my core group of family, friends and my biggest support from my husband.

What is the best piece of advice you wish you had before you started your midnight hustling to have a smoother transition to self-employment?

Listen to yourself and no one else. No one else knows what is right for life but you. Sure people give advice (some give great advice, others not so much) but you are in control of your life and you are in control of what advice you take. I had a few naysayers along the way and probably still do, but you know what? Those people don’t get to deal with my mistakes and they don’t get to celebrate my success. I had to figure that out over the past year. If you know something is right for you, go with it and go full force. You are the only one who can make it happen.

piper’s dream report: week twenty four

November 5th, 2010   |   Life

I don’t even know where to start…other than to say I’m just absolutely overwhelmed by all the lovely comments, posts, tweets & emails you all have sent and posted…I’m just blown away by the support you’ve sent my way.  I can’t even begin to thank you for that – it felt like confirmation that all my hard work and the roller coaster ride of emotions I went through were completely worth it!  I haven’t stopped smiling – I feel like Sally Fields right now,  “you like the site, you really like the site!!”  It has been so hard not being able to share everything with you – so when the store site went live I just couldn’t stop smiling – I’ve finally realized my dream!!  And yes I took your suggestion and we celebrated that night with a nice bottle of champagne!!

The first day the site went live ended up being another roller coaster of emotions for me.  I was jumping up and down with excitement at finally being able to share what I’ve spent months working on and the fact that my dream, for just that moment, had come to fruition.  It was hard to believe it was happening!  The other part was bittersweet – wishing my mom was here to be able to see the site and see that I finally, after talking about it constantly for years, have my own store.  Then when my first order came in, I couldn’t help but burst into the biggest grin.  I even took pictures of the first package I sent out!!


Of course, there were little glitches to work out…on one of my first orders…sigh.   Luckily it happened to a blog friend who was more than patient and supportive – especially when it ended up being 2 problems with having her order go through!    The funny thing is that I seriously must have checked and double-checked the website at least 20 times before going live!!  In fact, Sunday night, 11 pm, on the eve of the store site going live, my hubby and I were giddy with exhaustion, laughing like hyenas at the silliest things, as we double-checked each item.  I guess there’s such a thing as reviewing something too much (and reviewing it on little sleep)!  There goes the perfection thing!


After all these months of work, it’s funny to say, but now the work begins again.  My dream is still just a dream until I can make an actual living at it.  My fantasy of the store website crashing from so much volume didn’t happen – so I guess it’s on to Plan B!  (This is a good reminder to be careful of what you wish for…the 2nd day the site was live, my host was having technical problems causing the website to not come up…so I guess in a way it crashed…just not for the reason I wanted!)  Although orders have come in, it’s been slower than I expected.  I think I made the mistake of having higher expectations for the first week of being open.  (I got caught up in dream world!).  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that some blogs that I approached will feature my store.  It’s a long shot – but can you imagine if they do??!  I’ve been so focused on just getting the website up and running and the products styled and photographed that I haven’t had much time to focus on marketing.  Now I’ll be switching gears and focusing energy towards that.  I have some great ideas for getting people involved with the store website – having contests to come up with song titles to describe new products and weekly or monthly design challenges.  But I’m thinking I need to go back to the basics as well – plain old advertising!

I just want to send you all a big virtual hug – thank you for cheering me on and being so supportive.  I couldn’t have done it without you!!  O.M.G the store is open!! :)

Today I have an exciting new DYL interview to share! I tapped Alaina’s shoulder of Live Creating Yourself to share her life intentions. Though she’s obviously got an incredible talent for graphic design and is even responsible for naming the now popular Rue Magazine (among many other contributions), I asked her to do this DYL for a whole different set of reasons.

Knowing her personally, I’ve always been struck by her ability to fearlessly state her opinion without second guessing herself. Not that I’m much of a slouch myself, but I really, deeply admire her ability to say what she thinks from an honest, open part of her that doesn’t worry about “what others might think.” While she asserts her thoughts on everything from spirituality to the latest Kelly Wearstler project, she does so without being overbearing or judgmental. And for this reason, I think I personally have a lot to learn from Alaina. I know that many of us, including myself, can learn to share our opinions more fearlessly. As you’ll read, it’s pretty clear how she’s able to create such a mix of strength and gentleness that is 100% her own.

Enjoy!

Be Kind

Not a ground-breaking concept, I know, but being kind to others is the most important value in my life. Sadly, it seems that many people in today’s society are completely self-absorbed, worrying only about themselves and stepping on others just to get ahead. I don’t know where this self-entitlement and “I’m better than you” concept came from, but I am very aware that I am no better than the next person. So, I try my best to be considerate of those around me. I thank the busboy who pours my water. I stand up and offer my seat to the older woman or man who gets on the bus. I write back to the new blogger who emails me for advice. These simple acts of respecting and appreciating other people are so often forgotten; but I think it’s really important to remember that a simple “How are you today?” can go a long way.

Looking for beautiful things around me is a reflex. I have a tendency to find beauty and inspiration in things most people would never notice. For example, I recently liked the way a restaurant wrote their menu in chalk so I took a photo of it. And I remember on a day trip to Annapolis, I noticed an old red roof on a house that was far from beautiful – but the way it contrasted with the bright blue sky behind it caught my eye, so again, I snapped a photo to remember it. This habit probably stems from being a graphic designer and my constant need to be inspired, but this tendency to focus on the good instead of the bad definitely helps my emotional well-being, as well. Win, win!

Whether my credit card likes it or not, I travel as often as my vacation days allow. Traveling is the best kind of education; it allows me to learn about different cultures and people, and, more importantly, it helps me grow as a person. I am the first to admit that up until college, I was a rather close-minded – and dare I say, a judgmental – person. Now I feel like anything goes! And the world is all the better for it. Having been exposed to so many different lifestyles and cultures, I’m now very open to trying new things, listening to what others have to say, and accepting people’s opinions and beliefs, regardless of how different they are from mine.

This is less a goal I’ve made for myself and more so something I was born doing. My parents would joke the only babysitter they needed for me was a box of crayons because I could entertain myself for hours drawing pictures, writing stories, and even creating my own board games (true story – it was Life Jr. and you ended up choosing a high school instead of a retirement home at the end of the game). Today, I still find myself restless when I don’t have a to-do list taking up two pages in my notebook. Instead of flipping through the channels, I tend to work on a new house project or start redesigning my blog for the 100th time this year. I can’t not create. It keeps the creative juices flowing.

I am of the “you only live once” school of thought. If I’m at an Italian restaurant, heck, I’m ordering a big plate of pesto linguini! If it’s a Tuesday and I have nothing to do, I will always consider buying a great bottle of wine, calling up my best friends, and spending the evening laughing and reminiscing with them. I recommend this advice to all of you out there: stop counting calories, stop worrying about what others think of you, and enjoy this life. You only live once!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

100 kisses giveaway over at ensalada

November 3rd, 2010   |   Life

The time has come for S.E. Minegar to host the Jess LC 100 Kisses Ambassador Giveaway!

The winner of S.E.’s giveaway gets $100 of Jess LC store credit.

Hop on over to Ensalada to comment and enter before November 9th.

Good luck!

a pilgrim’s progress

November 3rd, 2010   |   Business Advice

(Update: we ended up clocking in at 122 orders!)

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those days where your wildest imagination cannot keep up with reality. As you can see above, a feature in Daily Candy yesterday led a remarkable amount of people to Jess LC. And rather than tuck this milestone under the rug and carry on as though nothing happened, I want to share this here on MML as proof positive that following your purpose can lead to incredible places.

As I processed the events of yesterday, it occurred to me that our feature in Daily Candy last year was almost exactly one year from today on November 9th, 2009. It generated a lot of buzz for what was then a much smaller version of Jess LC. Last year I was thrilled that after ten years of hard work, I’d finally caught the eye of one of the best editorial sites online. That November, I also dared to consider what was possible for Jess LC in the future. I was inspired to take the business to the next level and quickly went to work in the early part of 2010 making my dreams come true. Below, I detail the actual experience of the launch in April of the re-branded Jess LC via one of my best posts I’ve ever written. As you will read, the reception to the new site was not quite what I expected. Not at all.

But, in keeping with my best piece of advice for all entrepreneurs, I kept going. Day in and day out for the last six months I have continued to grow the jewelry business as best as I can while spending as much time as possible here on MML writing, sharing, and encouraging everyone to design a life with intention.

This process over the past six months has been difficult. I’ve risked more, I’ve tried newer and bigger things, and I’ve tripped along the way. But I’ve kept getting back up, dusting myself off, and taking the next step.

To see the results of this year’s Daily Candy feature, to see customer’s appreciation of the new branding, website,  and products confirms that the vision I had last November was a good one. One that was worth fighting for. And I’m so incredibly thankful that I just kept going each day since April while I didn’t see the results I wanted. If I had given up at any point up to this one, yesterday’s orders may never have happened.

And I know that some businesses are instant successes, some businesses hit it out of the park and rise to historic heights with the blink of an eye. But most don’t. Most take time, faith, and the ability to just keep going. Jess LC is one of those businesses. By consistently daring to improve, dream bigger, and take the next step, I’ve built the vision I dreamed of. I know that I will continue to face new challenges and obstacles. Just because I got one amazing response this week doesn’t mean there won’t be troubles in the future, but I’m here to stay.

A moment like this is worth working towards. Just keep going.

Flashback to Six Months Ago…

Today I’m gonna jump right in. Hang on, its gonna be a bumpy ride.

Here’s where I get real and share some of the tough stuff I’ve learned from the past three weeks of the “new” Jess LC. Though I usually wait a bit longer to share lessons, I think it’s safe to take this moment and really get into what I’ve learned and gone through the past 21 days since I re-launched. As you know from the behind the scenes series, the process to make the new brand took six months and a ton of work, miracles, and amazing help. I was ecstatic, elated, and overflowing with gratitude.

For 72 hours.

On the third day after the re-branding, I had what I now call The Pilgrim Effect. What is the Pilgrim Effect you ask? Well, let’s put it this way (in my fuzzy and distorted recollection of American history), I’m sure that when the Puritans decided to leave England to practice their religious freedom, they felt that God had put a knowing-ness in their heart, they knew deep in their bones they were destined to move to the New World and start afresh. They made plans, built boats, sailed countless days in said boats, struggled, survived, and eventually landed on our dear shore. I’m guessing that they were ecstatic, elated, and overflowing with gratitude.

For 72 hours.

Because you see, I too had a similar vision on a much more personal scale. I felt last November that I was meant to make this shift to the new site, the new brand, the new look, the new jewelry. I knew deep in my gut that I could no longer keep Jess LC in it’s previous state. I simply felt it was meant to be new, different, improved. I also had a bigger vision for the new site and bigger company goals. So I worked, and planned, and struggled, and had amazing help to get me to the new shores of the integrated shopping cart, video, lookbook, Division collection, and logo.

But what I (think) the Pilgrims and I forgot to realize is that after spending so much time and energy throughout the journey, we started to build up a vision of what that hard work would manifest. Sure, the Pilgrims got to worship however they wanted and I got a sweet new website and look for my company – but the reality of that shore near Plymouth rock was hard (pun intended). It was cold. The winter was setting in.

And they didn’t even have a city or home to live in.

Not that I think that the Pilgrims were dumb, but I am guessing that if they were any thing like me, by the time they got through traveling, they half hoped they’d find a quaint bed and breakfast or at least a Sheridan Inn on the other side of the ocean so they could finally rest in the Lord’s blessings and 500-count Egyptian cotton linens. And maybe even have a continental breakfast the next morning.

But it didn’t happen.

When I finished the site, I expected 75% of the female population to find out about Jess LC, fall in love with the jewelry, and buy for everyone they knew. I expected Daily Candy to write it up again, Lucky Magazine to call me begging for samples for their upcoming photo shoot, and if Obama or Oprah called to wish me luck and much continued success, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

But none of that happened.

I definitely got lots of great support, feedback, comments, and orders came in at average to slightly higher rates. But not a fraction of the expectation I had built up to that point. I expected things to come to me, when the reality was I needed to work even harder to see those new opportunities come to pass. I, like the Pilgrims, needed to build a city in the New World and that meant even more hard work.

Needless to say, it was unsettling and worrisome for a week and a half.

But then I started to see myself react to the situation, after hanging my head for a few days, I started to pick up the phone again, I started to make calls to Lucky Magazine, to Daily Candy. I started to go to new networking events and I started to talk to designers with bigger followings to learn what my next steps should be. I started to take risks and actions that I never dreamed of making while the “old” Jess LC was around. And over time, I’m starting to see results. I’m starting to see the possibilities open up.

I’m starting to build my city, just like the Pilgrims, brick by brick.

And so I guess what I’ve learned after this whole experience is that when we take a leap of faith on something we feel so inwardly compelled to do, we must not assume that the outcome will always be easy. But once we make that shift, we can expect ourselves to rise to the occasion and bring the outcome we seek to fruition.

(from April, 20th)

daring doer

November 2nd, 2010   |   Business Advice

Today I’m chatting over at Tory Johnson’s (yep, the national television contributor) Spark and Hustle as a Daring Doer. I explain what I think is essential to a bustling online business, what keeps me up at night, and my must-read sources for business and design inspiration. Read on.

one sydney road: open for business!

November 1st, 2010   |   Business AdviceStyle

Our beloved Dream Reporter, Piper has launched One Sydney Road!!

Hop Jump on over to One Sydney Road to start shopping the long awaited lifestyle goods site lovingly created by Piper. It’s so incredible to see her hard work become reality. After following her journey for the past twenty-three weeks it’s hard to see what she’s been so worried about! She nailed this puppy outta the water. And that’s a huge sign of a great entrepreneur. Her launch, site, and product selection has the sophistication of a seasoned professional. And all her hard work on those product descriptions sure paid off too.

To know that MML may have in any small way helped birth this site makes me feel so incredibly thankful. Thank you all for encouraging Piper as she faced so many new challenges and fears. Your supportive comments have been the wind at her back. Now I think it’s time for us to all do some shopping

… see you over at One Sydney Road!

And remember, if Piper and I can do it, so can you. Pursue your purpose.

branding with color

November 1st, 2010   |   Business Advice

I know, I know. I just changed the color of MML in September to pink (I had a pretty sizable girly moment) and now I’m switching it again-  this time to coral. Originally, back in January of 2009, I chose coral for the MML logo and Jess LC was a celery green. Then this April I changed Jess LC to coral and switched up MML’s colors with the seasons. My first inclination was to keep the accent colors on Jess LC and MML different so they looked separate as both sites were pretty unrelated.

However, I now realize that I am a common thread between the jewelry business and the blog. And therefore, as a designer and writer, I should be the common link between the two platforms. Using the coral across both sites creates a subtle connection. Though the logo styles still remain independent of each other, the overall look of both logos is clean, uncluttered, and coral. I’m hoping this color bridge will also create better cohesion for customers clicking over to MML and for MML readers clicking onto the jewelry site. Though both destinations are unique, there is a thread tying the whole experience together. If you notice, Martha Stewart does the same thing with the robin’s egg blue color across most of her brands as well.

And hey, if it’s good enough for Martha, it’s good enough for me.

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