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midnight hustler hall of fame
March 31st, 2011     |    Business Advice

From talking with my “midnight hustling” friends (people working to go from a day job to their dream job) I’ve heard over and over that the long hours juggling both jobs is lonely at times. And based on Why It’s Good if You Hate Your Job, there are a lot of other people out there who might be feeling isolated as well.

So today I’d like to create a register for all those who are working towards their dream jobs, businesses, careers while employed doing something else. The Midnight Hustlers tab above will be a place for people to share their businesses/career aspirations and links. This way hustlers can find inspiration and support from others in the same boat.

My hope is that this list will be used for networking, reaching out, and encouragement.

So if you’d like to be included in the Midnight Hustling Hall of Fame please comment below with your name (you can certainly avoid using your last name for work reasons), aspiration, and any links (FB, Twitter, blog, business website, etc.). By adding your name to the list you are stating that you:

  1. Juggle a day job with your dream job – working to change careers or start your own business.
  2. Want to network, reach out, and help other midnight hustlers.


the Jess LC “state of the union address”
March 30th, 2011     |    Life

Today I’d like to explain where Jess LC has been in the last year and how we are growing forward. There are a lot of important updates to the Diversey, Division, and Franklin (braille) collections as well. In addition, I also talk about the next jewelry pieces to launch on Jess LC (and when they will be released), the handbag collection launch, and what new product lines we may expand to in the future as well. Later today I’ll be posting this video on jesslc.com as well so customers can watch the update as well.


The video is about three minutes long.



Also, I’d like to thank everyone who has submitted a outfit collage for the DESIGN YOUR LOOK challenge going on now at Jess LC. If you’d like to enter to win $200 cash and two pieces of Jess LC jewelry, hop over here to see the details on how to enter.

Here are just a few looks we’ve received from bloggers so far.

And since Susie, Melissa, Kat, and I cannot enter the giveaway (though we’d love to win the cash for our favorite spring outfit), we decided we will post what looks we’d enter if we had the chance.

This is totally the outfit I’d like to rock this spring. I picked pieces from my favorite shoe and bag designers and boy to I wish I had our handbags ready to include in this look!

[sponsor post] pip & estella
March 29th, 2011     |    Life

(This post is brought to you by MML sponsor, Pip & Estella.)

Hello MML readers! I’m Sana of So Does Estella.

Last year, Pip & Estella donated proceeds from our charity shop to Vanessa of Turquoise LA for her work on the Upward Bound House project in Culver City, CA. So many of you showed your kindness and we’re doing it again!

Jess was kind enough to have me over to tell you about the new charity project happening in Los Angeles this Summer.

A group of 20 interiors designers are taking part in a design charity project to benefit the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women & Children. Designers Vanessa De Vargas and Vanessa Kogevinas are leading the two month project that is scheduled for July completion. Each room will be thoughtfully designed, providing a temporary livable space utilized to help women of all ages as they get back on their feet.

100% of profits purchases generated from Pip & Estella’s Charity Section will be donated to the project so come on over! Get something cool in shop while supporting a great cause.

For more on this project, visit the Good Shepherd Charity Design Blog.

Thank you MML!

Wow, what a resounding response to the Why It’s Good If You Hate Your Job post earlier today! Thank you for “getting it.”

I want to share a few other posts for people in the Sucky Job Boat to stay inspired and encouraged. Many people are in this place now. And many more have been there before.

My Small Business Heroes

What To Do When You Don’t Know your Purpose (Yet)

Don’t Trip Before the Start Line

Midnight Hustlers:

People who have juggled a day job with their dream job and lived to tell the story

Midnight Hustling with Kendi of Kendi Everyday

Midnight Hustling with Piper of One Sydney Road

Midnight Hustling with JoJo of Dancing Classrooms

PS- About the Franklin Be Brave Necklace

Fair warning! We are down to our last three Be Brave braille necklaces! Get one now before they sell out (and retire).

why it’s good if you hate your job
March 28th, 2011     |    Life

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time. And rather than go into a long story, I think it’s best to just keep it short and sweet:

If you hate your job, you are more likely to leave it and truly ask yourself what you want to do, what you are meant to do.

If you liked your day job justthismuch more, then you may never end up leaving. Never end up asking the difficult questions that lead to a purpose driven life.

So every time you go into work on a Monday and dread being there, remind yourself that it’s a good thing.

You are lucky that you have a job that sucks so much that it begs you to ask the question: how can I make my life better, deeper, and more purposeful?

kendi and bryan’s dream report: week fourteen
March 25th, 2011     |    Life

There is Enough

In all of our business planning, one thing has stuck out above everything else as a point of anxiety: competition. Not money, not marketing, not even the unknown. It’s always competition. Even the word sends shivers down my neck, as I’ve never been that great at competing. I fold in most games, as I just don’t care about winning. If it’s important for you to win, I’ll let you. Unless it comes to board games with my husband, then no one is leaving until I win.

Now we would be fools to think that we had zero competition in the field of photography. In fact, sometimes I think that’s all we have. Regionally, artistically, or by the sheer numbers of photography business out there — we are literally drowning in a sea of competition. After thinking about it in the sense of numbers, I decided I couldn’t look at competition that way. It wasn’t helping me propel forward, but instead forcing me to take two steps back. If I compare our business to everyone around us, then it’s no longer our business I’m focusing on, it’s someone else’s. If I stack up what we’ve done or haven’t done, to someone else then where does that get me? I’ll tell you where. It puts me in a place of fear and that is nowhere to start a business.

In order to keep my sanity in check, I’ve learned to turn this question around. Are there a lot of photographers out there vying for clients? Yes. But on the other hand are there clients out there vying for photographers. Yes. When it comes down to it, Bryan and I aren’t trying to photograph the entire population of Texas but instead want to build relationships with the handful of clients we have now and will have in the future. Our business doesn’t need to fight for someone else’s client, we want to find our own. In our business, competition isn’t about winning; it’s about being able to start and maintain a business among others who are trying to do the same.

In the sea of competition, there is something so very important to remember: there is enough for everyone. When I think of it this way, competition doesn’t put me in a place of fear anymore, but a place of excitement — to one day pursue the dream as successfully as so many other have before.

I’m not normally one to quantify tips, or really give out that many tips in general. But it just so happens that as I wrote this post, it turned out that I have a lot of ideas with what to do with business “free time.” Sixteen ideas, to be exact.

During the early days of Jess LC in Chicago in 2007 I had a tough time getting the business moving consistently. More times than I’d like to remember I simply stared at my email inbox waiting… hoping… daring… (drooling)… for an email to arrive with a new order. I was desperate for orders, inquiries, and attention. Imagine a water dripping out of a facet. That’s what the slow days felt like. And there were plenty of them.

And although the business has grown immensely and is ohsomuch busier than it was in those early days, I every so often have the same phenomenon pop up. To be honest, these days are like shooting stars, unicorns, or Big Foot sitings. Though super rare (and often non-existent) they may be, I’ve had a few days of calm this week.

So whether you are just starting out (sitting there drooling waiting for your next new order) or you are like I am now (surprised by a rare moment of pause) I have thought of some great ways to use that time wisely.

1. Do Your Accounting

Okay, so I’m starting off with the vegetables before I get to the desert here, I know. But it goes without saying that it’s super easy to put off bookkeeping during busy seasons only to have to crunch numbers on a tight deadline later. Next time you have a moment, catch up on those numbers.

2. Reorder Supplies

Business cards running low? Packaging levels okay? Take a moment to see if you need to order supplies before they run out so you can save on pricey two-day shipping.

3. Social Media, Social Media!

I always have a tendency to be behind on Twitter, FB, and MML comments when things are crazy. Spend 15 minutes catching up on tweets, comments, and other social media outlets.

4. Delegate A New Project

Yep, if you have someone working for you, have a meeting and talk over a new opportunity and put them in charge of it. You can double your impact in no time at all.

5. Sweep Out Your Inbox

If you’ve got nothing to do, you’ve got no excuse for emails to be sitting unanswered. Take some time to see an email free screen. It’s liberating.

…At least until the next email comes in.

6. Do an Interview

Find someone to interview for your business or blog, or reach out and offer to do an interview for someone else’s blog. Outreach like this can lead to new friends, customers, and awareness about your business.

7. Collaborate With Another Business

Scroll through your twitter or blog reader and find another business you admire and reach out- see if there is a way to cross promote your companies and double your impact.

8. Rest

Okay so it can’t be overlooked: a nap might be just what you need. Just don’t let it last longer than one afternoon. Otherwise it will be tough to roll back into a consistently productive groove.

9. Comment On Blogs

This is different from the social media suggestion in #3 because this is where you go out and touch someone new. Make a new online friend (and be sure to link to your business/blog as well).

10. Look at Financials

Take a look at your business accounts and make sure that things are in order. Do you have enough money saved for your next quarterly tax payment? What are you going to owe in sales tax the next time around? Any accounts receivables (people who still owe you money) to check up on?

11. Find New Customers

This could mean creating a new marketing initiative, sending out an email blast with a customer referral deal, or placing an ad on a new blog. One way or another, find a way to introduce your company to new people.

12. Clean Your Workspace

When things are hectic it’s easy to overlook a pile of papers, an overflowing binder, or outdated line sheets. But when you’ve got the time, use it to get things back in order.

13. Do An Inspiration Dive

This is a fun one. Go to a high-end store – learn new ways to improve your techniques, craftsmanship, or displays. Or take a trend from one area of design and apply it to your products in a different capacity.

And of course, a blog surfing session is always great to see what people are talking and posting about.

14. Do Research

Read a business book, business blog (my favs are here and here), or take a class to learn a new skill or element of your business.

15. Watch TED or Gary Vaynerchuk

Okay, so I am biased towards TED Talks and Gary Vaynerchuk – but feel free to watch other inspiring people in industry and feed off their enthusiasm and ideas for business in the future.

16. Call a Buddy Entrepreneur

If all else fails (or is completed) call up a friend who also is self-employed. Chat about what you’re working on, struggling with, and doing well. It’s always great to talk shop with friends and see if you can learn something new. It’s also a great way to stay motivated and supported when things are tough.

interview on scoutie girl
March 23rd, 2011     |    Business Advice

Yesterday Jess Van Den asked me some fantastic questions over at Scoutie Girl. Below are the questions she asked.

Scoutie Girl Creative Biz Success Interview Questions

  • Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far? Were you always planning on working for yourself?


  • How do you balance the different aspects of your business to ensure they both stay fresh and moving forward – your jewellery design and your blog, for example?


  • Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?


  • I know you have staff who help you run your business – how did you make the decision to take that next step, and how do you manage their involvement in the business?


  • What key personality traits and life circumstances coalesced to lead to your success, in your opinion?

    Here are my answers.

    lively says relax
    March 22nd, 2011     |    Business AdviceLife

    Okay, so maybe Mr. Lively didn’t say relax, but I like him better than Frankie. Either way, the point still stands. I sit here today in an “lull day.” I’m currently sandwiched between a big Jess LC initiative launched yesterday and an important bag appointment(!) on Friday.

    Given that I also have had the rock star help of Susie, Melissa, and Kat, we are on top of a lot of other daily Jess LC maintenance.

    So here I sit. In a bit of a lull before a storm of bags.

    And at first this morning, I was uncomfortable with this waiting period. I felt like I should be “doing something.”

    Thoughts like “Millions of people are busy working today, I should be too.” “Something must be wrong if I’m not feeling inspired to tackle some totally new objective to fill the time I have today.” “If I’m not driving ahead with something on this Tuesday, March 22nd, the business must be falling behind.”

    Needless to say, the thoughts were unsettling.

    But then I stood back. I reflected.

    Q: Why am I running my own business in the first place?

    A: So that I can design my life with intention in order to fulfill my purpose (helping other people design their lives with intention). So that I can enjoy my life, have a balanced life, and not define my success by other’s expectations.

    None of that answer has anything to do with the fearful thoughts running through my head this morning. And so with grand proclamation:

    I am going to enjoy this day. I intend to complete a few things I want to do for the business, take Susie to lunch, and start a cross-stitching project.

    I’m going to give myself the permission to design my day with the intention of joy.

    Who knows, doing new and different things might inspire a new business idea… or at least a fresh take on business as usual tomorrow.

    Ladies, this is big.

    We’ve decided to launch a new challenge at Jess LC:

    An outfit collage contest to win $200 and two pieces of Jess LC jewelry for the perfect spring look.

    Yep. I’ve decided to launch a contest that I myself would drool over.

    All the details are above and on our DesignYourLook page. But to quickly summarize: we are asking for contestants to create a collage (using Polyvore or a similar program is great) showing how they would wear two pieces of Jess LC jewelry and the spring outfit they want most this season. Once the look is created, it can either be posted on a blog or on our Facebook page and then emailed to theshop@jesslc.com with the subject line “Design Your Look.”

    Here is an example outfit from Ashley M. (which is also our first formal submission to the contest):

    Once the submissions are compiled on April 8th, we will post all of the looks here on MML on April 11th for five days of voting (so be sure to spread the word about your look!). The popular vote will determine which spring Design Your Look contestant wins the jewelry featured in their collage and $200 to put towards purchasing the clothing items in their winning look.

    So please, tweet, facebook, and generally spread the word! We’d like to see a variety of looks and see how everyone plans to design their wardrobe with intention this spring!

    kendi and bryan’s dream report: week thirteen
    March 18th, 2011     |    Life

    Success Defined

    Writing the Dream Report is very strange. Don’t read too much into that sentence — it’s a great exercise for start up business owners and a great feature on Makeunder My Life. But as I sit here on Thursday night (procrastination is my specialty), I keep thinking about one thing: success. Not about my Dream Report, as I should be doing.

    The reason I say it’s a strange thing is because each week I come to you with a new thing/flaw/nugget of wisdom I’ve recently discovered and conquered, but I have to be honest that this isn’t always true. This week I did not discover anything other than exhaustion and the need for a healthy meal. Turns out I’m still a kindergartner at heart. (I can elaborate, if you’d like.) And since I knew you didn’t want to tell that story, I started daydreaming about the launch of our business and what will follow in the months to come. I started to imagine what I wanted our business to look like in 2 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years and so on. And to be honest, you would probably think that my expectations were set fairly low. My definition of success doesn’t have a time period, it doesn’t have hard fast rules on how to get there, it doesn’t look familiar. Somewhere in between my procrastination, exhaustion and day dreaming, I defined the rules of my success.

    I’m not sure there really are any rules on launching a business. I believe that we are on week 13 of our Dream Report and part of me feels like this is a very long time to keep you readers hanging on. The other part of me thinks “who launches a business in 13 weeks?!” And in retrospect, we’ve been talking about our newly re-launched business for the good part of two years now, so really 13 weeks is just a small piece of the pie.

    When we do launch our website, this will not equal success to some but to us it will. When we receive an inquiry, this might not be success for some, but to us it will. Every time we get to work together, it will be yet another success. Because it’s our business, we get to define our success. As luck would have it, we’re pretty successful already.
    In the end, I’ve figured out nothing and everything this week. I told you this Dream Report business is a strange thing.


    how i get things done
    March 17th, 2011     |    Business AdviceLife

    Over the years I’ve been asked many times how I manage to get everything done with the business, blog, and life. Being self-employed means that I’ve needed to learn how to manage my time wisely, avoid burnout, and effectively build my brand. These aims sometimes compete with one another and the balance between them is challenging.

    Over time I’ve found a great way to manage my time day-to-day is to keep things simple. I sit down at my desk each morning and write out a list of tasks that I plan to accomplish in the day. I don’t think about any particular order, I just dump the tasks on the paper as they come to mind. Once I’ve got everything written down, I look at the list and prioritize the items. In general what is most important or urgent is at the top of the list and less urgent/important items are assigned to be done later in the day. This way if I’m not able to accomplish everything, the items that are left over can be completed the following day.

    Sometimes I take the time to write out bigger scale goals like what I intend to do each week, but these daily to-do lists are what I rely upon for pace, direction, and time saving. By thinking ahead and determining the task order, I don’t have to stop throughout the day to pick the next item. It’s all laid out for me before I even begin.

    Any other scheduling suggestions out there?













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