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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.)


Reach Out

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