Though it may seem that our Jess LC studio is filled with intentions, jewelry, bags, and love, the truth is that there is a very large silly-quirky-fun quotient which is often left out. To correct that perception, we have launched a new shop blog, Behind the Chevron Curtain which is a place for Susie, Melissa, and Michelle to share their jokes, favorite funny You Tube videos, baking recipes, and some behind the scenes content.
Archives for June 2011
Yesterday’s post about separating my career from my purpose was accepted with a less than lackluster response (okay, let’s be honest, there were crickets cricketing in the comment section). And that’s fine, I get it. I know that most people aren’t going to resonate with my purpose and career dilemma, after all it’s about my conflict with purpose and career. But I’m happy to say I think what came out of that realization is going to be some good food for thought today.
At least I hope so.
After realizing that I needed to pull my idea of purpose and career apart, I had a second light bulb moment.
You know how you always hear people say that if you really are in the “right job” it shouldn’t feel like work? That you should wake up each morning bounding out of bed itching to start your workday?
To be honest, I have always been puzzled by my reaction to those ideas – sure I have a career and purpose that are intertwined immensely, I have designed my career with such clarity that it’s amazing and incredible and purposeful and fun and helpful. But my real response to those questions used to be, “Sure, I like my job, and I SHOULD want to bound out of bed and rush to my career each morning, but I don’t. I just wander over to the computer and start working after I’ve gotten ready for the day and eaten breakfast. I don’t really dive out from under the covers into my career with a grin plastered on my face.”
While pulling apart the idea of my career and purpose it hit me; I thought I was working 40-50 hours a week on my career when the real answer was 119 hours a week!
I kid you not.
I have come to realize that for me, work is most largely tied to my inbox. I get orders through email, I get customer service requests through email, I get MML comments through email, I get letters from readers through email, I get twitter responses through email, I get sponsors through email, I get consulting clients through email, and I get bills through email. Having an online business, blog, and consulting business means my email is my access to my business.
Every time I check my email I am working on my career.
Whoa. Hold the phone. Every time I checked my email I was really working? Yep.
I was working because though I may not answer emails at night or before my morning oatmeal, I was still focusing, formulating responses in my head, and dwelling on what what going on in my career.
Which meant that though I may “work” from 9-10am until 5-6pm each weekday, I check my email every 10-15 minutes seven days a week.
My bedside alarm is on my smart phone, so the minute I turn off the alarm, I check my email. I then check it an average of 10 times before I’ve even sat at my computer to work. I check it every 2 minutes while working. In the evenings I continue checking email (excluding dinner) until after my head hits the pillow.
I even have checked it in the bathroom (okay, that might sound gross [it is] but I’m sure I’m not the only one…).
So yeah, I have been working on my career every waking moment for the past two years. Which totally explains why I don’t bound out of bed looking forward to work – I’m already working the minute I open my eyes!
And that is changing. Now.
Since Sunday I have decided NOT to check my email (aka work) after I am done working for the day. I also don’t check my email in the morning until I’m ready to start my workday.
And you know what? I now freaking LOVE my job!
I spend so much time now wondering about what new cool opportunities are coming my way while I’m spending time in the other areas of my life that are also important to me. And it leads to an awesome rush of excitement to turn on my laptop each morning. What neat things are going to happen today I wonder? Before, when I checked email 4-10 times an hour there was no awe and wonder in my career, I knew every second of every day what was going to happen. Which simply wasn’t healthy for my life.
And when I think to myself that this new focus of email during my workday might be too hard to follow I remember that my purpose in my career is to help people design lives with intention – and that means that by doing this myself, I’m also setting an example for others. I don’t want anyone to feel so out of balance in their lives from checking their inbox as frequently as I did. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and I shouldn’t do it in my own life. By choosing this path, I am taking a stand for what can be possible in all of our lives.
So far I’m beyond thrilled with my results, I have much more presence with friends, my mom who is visiting this week, and with Mr. Lively. I am able to get way more done in other areas of my life because my career isn’t inserting itself in every nook and cranny of time that exists.
I have time to stop and smell the roses on the way to the FedEx store rather than check my email on my phone while trying not to stumble on a crack in the sidewalk.
During Lifebook I realized I need to break up with my career.
As you know, I am a bag and jewelry designer but my purpose lies in helping people design lives with intention. It’s why I write here on MML. It’s why
I speak across the country from time to time I speak across the country. It lies in the deepest part of my being. It just IS a part of me. One of the deepest parts of me in fact.
And I have been blessed (and brave enough) to work to make that purpose a part of my career as much as I can. It is a driving force in my life, and most of all in my career. My business is about “design with intention,” I consult with people to build businesses with intention, and I write here on MML about designing an intentional life.
My personal life is also guided by this purpose as I bring intention to (almost) all areas of my life – I eat and move with intention, I pray with intention, I have relationships with intention, I build my character with intention, I read with intention, and I certainly design my career with intention.
Intention, intention, intention.
But as I started to forge a career from my purpose through blog ads, consulting, and soon to be freelance writing(!), I started to lump my career and purpose into the same Big Beast.
Though Big Beast might sound like an overstatement, it’s not that far off. During Lifebook discussions I started to notice that I would use the words “career” and “purpose” interchangeably. In my mind’s eye they were one in the same. “My career IS my purpose” was the belief that I held tightly.
Here is a huge problem with that thought – while my purpose permeates all aspects of my life, my career is just one aspect of my life.
My purpose is the thread running throughout my life, but my career is not.
So I have started to break those two words apart, started to look at my language and put more space between those words.
I’ve started to realize that the energy I put towards my Big Beast has also led to the disintegration of other areas of my life. My biggest strength truly became one of my biggest weaknesses.
And now I’m working to change that.
Phew. I have been busy with a four day retreat at Lifebook (more on that to come later) rethinking and re-dreaming about twelve areas of my life. Twelve areas? Yep, twelve different areas which include:
- My Health and Fitness
- My Intellectual Life
- My Emotional Life
- My Character
- My Spiritual Life
- My Love Relationship
- Parenting (for when I do have kids)
- My Social Life
- My Financial Life
- My Career
- My Quality of Life
- My Life Vision
I wasn’t only “thinking” about each of these areas, I was reflecting on what I believe about them, what I want out of them in my life, why they are important, and what I need to do to make them happen as I’d like. Needless to say, it was a transformative process.
I actually feel differently about my life, much more so than I expected.
After looking at my goals and strategies for each area I have no less than 63 total habits that I would like to work into my daily life.
Sound a bit overwhelming? Actually, I feel less overwhelmed than ever before. I ironically feel like I have more “space in my life.” Having gone into such depth about all of those areas in my life, I now clearly understand how to achieve so much of what I really, really want. And a lot of what used to occupy my time less intentionally as melted away freeing up the space, energy, and motivation to do the most fulfilling things in my vision for my life.
With that said, I’m not focusing on all 63 intentions all at once. I’m choosing to focus on five of the most rewarding (and easily implemented) habits until August. Then I plan to reflect, document my progress, and move on to the next focus habits on my list.
So here are my new intentions:
My Health and Fitness
I plan to continue to choose to listen to my gut and intuition when it comes to eating, and how much I eat. I plan to also work movement into my life through things that bring me enjoyment and connect to other areas of my life as well like long walks alone (also related to my Spiritual Life), biking and lifting weights with Mr. Lively (also related to my Love Relationship), walking with friends (also related to my Social Life), and a weekly yoga practice (also related to my Spiritual Life).
My Intellectual Life
I plan to read for 20 minutes each morning before getting out of bed and also read an article in the New York Times. In addition, I am having Mr. Lively teach me about reading music and playing the guitar.
My Financial Life
I plan to triple my savings each month for an overall substantial goal by the end of the year. This goal is important to me because it will prepare me to get my first home.
My Spiritual Life
I plan to write (journal) five days a week to reflect on my life, document my progress with my vision, and seek inner guidance.
My Career Life
I plan to set out concrete sales goals for each month for the rest of the year.
So there you have it. As I’ve mentioned, I am sure that this process will come up many more times in the future. It has turbo charged my future letter practice in a way that I am incredibly grateful for. It has also given me a wealth of breakthroughs, a-ha moments, and intentional ways of living my life that I cannot wait to share here on MML.
So stick with me, the best is yet to come.
Let’s talk about fear.
One thing I remember from my Midnight Hustling days (not so very long ago) is being afraid. Afraid that by taking the next step, I’d be exposing myself to rejection. Afraid that if I actually got a client, I wouldn’t know what to do (this one likes to pop up even now, which is silly). Afraid after hitting the “send” button to an e-decorating client that they would hate all my ideas, demand a refund, and tell the whole internet how much I sucked (this never happened).
I looked forward to a time when I would be confident in my abilities to run a business, to please a client, and to network with others. You know, when I was finally a full-time entrepreneur.
Maybe you’ve looked forward to the same thing. Ready for the fear to end and the confidence to begin. Maybe being afraid is keeping you from taking action and, like me for many months, hope that researching and reading will help ease your fear so that you can take action.
The fear doesn’t go away.
Not right away anyway. I was lucky to tackle some of my fears of rejection and bad performance while I was still working the day job. I’d gotten to a point of no return – I knew I couldn’t stay how I was, and the main things in my way were money and fear. Money was easy to come up with a solution for (save, don’t spend any “extra” money). And once I recognized that it was fear standing in my way, I had one of those “screw it!” moments, booked a photographer for my house, and submitted the pictures to Design*Sponge.
Guess what, they were rejected. And it didn’t kill me! Sure, I was disappointed, but all this time I’d been afraid of being rejected, and when it happened…. well, nothing HAPPENED. Instead, I submitted to Apartment Therapy. And when I didn’t hear back, I submitted to Desire to Inspire, who posted them, and caused a huge spike in my traffic and several guest posting and interview opportunities. Apartment Therapy ended up posting them the following week, and a month later I was on again with a full house tour.
With full-time entrepreneurship comes new fears. Money becomes a more legitimate fear. Stress on relationships. Most other fears boil down to those two.
No one will want to hire me.
Am I being selfish by not having a REAL job?
No one wants a designer without a degree.
I’m home all day, I should be keeping the house sparkling clean.
I want to work with other creatives, but they’ll think my ideas are stupid.
Does my spouse/partner secretly resent me?
In regards to relationships, I only know that Ryan has given me no reason whatsoever to think that he resents me or thinks I’m wasting my time. He was unhappy when I was unhappy at my job, and having that weight lifted has been great. My stressing about the housekeeping, not so great. But we’re learning to adjust to our new routine and he has been extremely supportive. Not all partners will be. But that’s probably something you’d know before taking this leap.
In regards to money, I’ve decided to tackle individual fears head on, otherwise they’ll continue to come around to pounce. No one will want to hire me is something that I’m addressing with my web redesign (rescheduled to launch next week). Potential clients need to find a reason to hire me, and only I can provide that reason. I’m sure that once I have a more steady stream of clients the fear will be that I’m doing something wrong or they won’t like this pillow, or what if her husband secretly hates yellow and I just ordered a yellow chaise without knowing. And the only thing that will solve that is preparation and flexibility.
I just wanted to share that even though things have been going well, and I’ve had great opportunities and made amazing connections in the last four weeks, I’m still scared that it’s all going to come crashing down around me. That part hasn’t gone away. What has gone away is the opportunity to let fear dictate what I do. There is no “I’m afraid, so I won’t do that.” It becomes, “I’m afraid, but dammit, I’m going to make this business work.” And I do it anyway.
Let’s hear from you. What are you afraid of?
Today I’m happy to share a very insightful sponsor interview with Leah of Your Nutritionista Consulting (YNC). Below she shares her personal philosophy on health and wellness as well as what YNC has to offer those looking to intentionalize their health and fitness. As someone who has been around this bush many times before (most notably here and here), she totally captures my personal philosophy, so I couldn’t recommend her more!
Plus, stay tuned. Leah is going to be back on MML in no time flat. But more on that later…
On to the interview!
Was there an experience you had growing up that led you to become connected to nutrition and wellness?
I’m one of those people who tried every diet out there, from the reasonable to the completely insane (you can find all about my experiences with different diets in my Nutritionista History post here). When diets didn’t work, I started to read about nutrition constantly. I landed on a way of eating — an approach to health — that made sense for me. The basis of that approach is all about real food, even if it’s not considered “healthy” by mainstream America (like butter!). But because I read so much, there’s a strong scientific foundation for everything I recommend.
Your Nutritionista. So it made sense to create a place for people to get the one-on-one support from me that they were looking for. I know that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet, so I built a foundation for health that applies to everyone but can look very different in practice depending on who you are and what your life is like.
What makes YNC different from other online weight loss programs?
A few things set it apart from other online programs: first of all, the personalization. No two YNC plans are exactly alike. As part of the program, you receive a customized YNC booklet. It’s filled with everything you need to make sure you know what to do in any situation. I want my clients to feel like there’s no eating situation that’s off-limits to them! YNC is definitely not a stagnant meal/workout plan. Read about everything you get as part of YNC here.
The second way it’s unique is the support and accountability you get. I talk to my clients on the phone every single week (and am available by email or text 24/7). When people are looking to lose weight or achieve a health/fitness goal, they’ll eventually reach a point where they know what to do, but they’re not doing it for some reason. I help them get past that. I sort of see myself as a food therapist in that way. I’ve come to understand it’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s also about why, where, and with whom.
Another way YNC is different from everything else out there is the food and my general approach to health (read about it here). I want to make sure that eating is a pleasurable experience for everyone. If you don’t like what you’re eating and you don’t feel satisfied, then I’m not doing my job. You can feel full after a meal but still not feel satisfied. I’m going to make sure you feel completely satisfied and satiated. YNC food is just plain good!
Honestly, I love talking to my clients! And I love that I get to celebrate their successes along with them. I feel like a proud mama bear when one of my clients reaches a health or fitness goal. I’ll do anything in my power to help my clients succeed, whether it’s making them homemade trail mix, shipping them a copy of my favorite nutrition book, or incentivizing their goals with a discount (yes, I’ve done all those things!).
What action made the wellness lifestyle click for you as an individual?
One of my mantras is, “Never do anything on a diet that you’re not prepared to do for the rest of your life.” That’s why you have to make sure that, from start to finish, you’re eating and living in a way that you could eat and live forever. One of the exercises I’ve had clients do is name the 5 foods they can’t imagine living without. If they can’t live without them, then we’ll find a way to incorporate them into their diets in a sustainable way! I do the same thing for myself. Real ice cream is definitely a part of my personal weekly plan.
Given the warmer weather and my evolving sense of style, I’ve chosen to go with brighter pops of color. Some of these colors and trends are even making their way into upcoming collections as well…
Since the first living room photos, my old sea foam living room rug has bit the dust. It discolored, wore out, and got red wine stains. So in came this gray little number from Rugs USA which brightens the whole space. The blue pillow caught my eye at Pier One. After obsessing about the pillow for a few weeks I finally caved and bought it.
A discounted aqua tray from TJ Maxx is the perfect way to carry barbecue goods to the patio.
Mr. Lively’s favorite candle scent I’ve ever had, Firewood by C.O Bigelow.
My new favorite scarf found for $16 at TJ Maxx.
What summer home updates have you done lately?
Okay guys, I feel like I’ve been a bit behind in filling you all in on what
I’m working on what I’m building lately. And considering the “ML” in MML is “my life,” I feel it’s time to be a bit more transparent with everything. But not too transparent.
After all, there is still the satisfaction that comes with the buzz surrounding surprises.
Anyways, I have been B-U-S-Y. The only downside to busy phases is that they often seem the most quiet on blogs because the writers are working on projects that eventually land on the blog much later down the line. So ironically, being busy in real life often seems like the most relaxed period from a blog reader perspective. And for this, I apologize.
Lately I have been helping a local company called Lifebook for several days over the past month which left me out of the studio more than usual. The basis of their company is closely aligned with MML concepts and I’ve been amazed at their four day retreat process which is made to help guests design twelve areas of their life with intention. Further, this Thursday through Sunday I will also be participating as a guest myself(!!). I’m pumped to really take a four day look at my life and see how well I’ve been doing with my intentions as well as fleshing out areas of my vision that I’ve never even touched before. And of course, I’ll be sure to report back here as to what my new intentions are and how I feel about my vision going forward.
I’m also happy to say that my business consulting practice is going very well and are some of the best, most fulfilling, hours of my workday. I’ve been floored at how much I’ve been able to really help the wonderful ladies who have worked with me and I look forward to continuing to help others into the future.
Okay, now to the really big stuff. The stuff coming up at Jess LC. For starters, we have our annual online sidewalk sale going on this week which is keeping us on our toes. We are also training our newest lovely, Michelle, and creating a manager book which contains all the information needed for managers (aka interns) as a resource.
Further, I’ve been stretching myself to design more than I ever have before. We have no less than six collections launching between now and October. Yep, six unique projects with over 62 new color combinations across more than 20 styles. Will we be adding more jewelry and bags? Absolutely. But we will also be adding new product categories, working with two awesome businesses on new collaboration projects, and expanding Jess LC goods to four new areas of life beyond bags and jewelry. So needless to say, there are a lot of balls in the air, phone calls to make, details to approve, and sample swatches to choose.
After twelve summers of business, I’m more happy than I’ve ever been as a designer. What I once wanted to discard as soon as I could support myself on MML related activities, I am now more invested emotionally, financially, and professionally than ever before. I think for me, at this point in my life, I have designed my business with so much clarity of intention that I love it more than I ever imagined I could. It is as if that fateful ugly ankle bracelet that sold a dozen years ago at a pool in Algonac, Michigan was leading me to this summer. There were literally thousands of bumps during the 4,380 days that I’ve been in business, but the fact that I just kept going and redirecting my course with my overall vision lead me to so much joy.
To know that I’ve found a way to not only do what I love (help people design lives with intention via MML and business consulting) and love what I do (Jess LC) is beyond rewarding.
Of course that isn’t to say that there won’t be thousands of bumps ahead long into the future, that part is inevitable, but the courage to keep honing in on what makes me happy and fulfilled, even at the expense of profit at times, has led to the career of my dreams.
And the best part? The ability to just keep going and choosing meaningfulness over fear are traits we all possess.
Two people walk into an elevator…
Ah, the good old elevator speech! Well I’m not going to give you the usual drill because if you google “elevator speech” you’ll find dozens of how-to’s and examples (probably both good and bad). But the essence of the elevator speech – how to explain your business or business idea to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator, well, that I’m keeping.
I’m talking about WHAT DO YOU DO?
For the entrepreneur who can still count the days of freedom on her hands and toes, it’s a scary question. And it’s one that’s been on mind while I’m working on the site redesign.
Because of the layout of the pages, it makes sense for me to re-do my “about me” page and my “services” pages. And it got me thinking about what it is I’m selling to people. And who those people are. As a new business, now is my chance to tell people what I do before they hear it from someone else. And it brings up some really conflicted feelings for me.
When I first started blogging, it was all about inspiration. Gorgeous homes, Vogue-worthy fashion, feats of design that only come with one price tag: a BIG one. At some point I wanted to be creating more original content on my blog (which I still do) – taking photos ofÂ my own design projects at home was the most logical, but I don’t exactly have a BIG budget. This ended up being about the same time as I was taking on my first clients. And when I started thinking about “branding” and “marketing” and “finding my niche” it seemed that “budget design” was right up my alley.
Right away I hit a conflict: In order to price myself fairly in the market (ie: after researching the competition) and to make any kind of decent hourly wage, I priced myself out of the “budget clients” that I was aiming to attract. That’s pretty clear to me now. And yet matching the price expectation of the budget decorating world didn’t value my work as that of a professional. On the flip side, I wonder how many larger projects have been turned off by my low prices because I wasn’t perceived as a professional?
The truth is, I just don’t love doing “budget projects”. Now I’m not going to go all “Million Dollar Decorators” on you (new Bravo TV show), but even though I like a deal as much as the next girl, I love design because I love pretty things – designer furniture, hand-painted fabrics, rugs that aren’t synthetic… and I’m a true believer in spending some money on quality pieces for your home that will stand the test of time. That just hasn’t been meshing with my branding. I’ve had some GREAT clients, but I’ve had projects where I felt extremely limited by the budget (and not in a fun way). And to be honest, I’m not the best budget decorator out there. I can name others who truly LOVE sniffing out a deal, and take pride in their ability to spot a trend and recreate it for half the price. But I don’t have that same passion for it… and isn’t the whole point of quitting my day job to do what I love?
So where does this leave me? Well, I looked through my past client folders. Most of my favorite projects have been working with young(ish) couples and single women who have either purchased their first home, or are finally ready to “take decorating seriously” (in one client’s words). They haven’t been millionaires, but they’ve saved up and are ready to make some investment purchases, like a well-made sofa, a beautiful wool rug, or reupholster a family heirloom. Some of them have been repeat clients. Sure, we’ve had to cut corners here and there (mixing one designer fabric pillow with some from TJ Maxx…) but it’s been about creating a vision for their homes.
So I’m working on my “What do you do” and “About me” and “Welcome to my new fancy site, please hire me” statements and here’s what I have so far:
“Maggie Rose Interiors is a Seattle based interior decorating company with a flair for mixing old and new, bargain and luxury for a home that feels layered, collected, and just like you.”
As far as my pricing goes? Well, I’ll be making some adjustments. But now I know more about who I like working for and the position they’re in. No longer am I basing my pricing off of my competition, but basing it on the clients I want to attract.
P.S. The plan is to upload the new site design over the weekend, so if you visit Maggie Rose and it’s down for maintenance, that’s what we’re up to! You can follow me on Twitter (@MaggieRoseBlog) to get the heads up on Monday when it’s back up… cross your fingers it all goes smoothly!
Here are June’s DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews! As a reminder, you are welcome to participate in this series by posting your DESIGN YOUR LIFE on your blog and sharing the link with me (jess @ jesslc.com).
Caroline’s post is on Treat Yourself Well.
Emilie’s post is on One Foot On Shore.
Jessica’s post is on Jessica Hannon Photography.
Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.
PS – On a very sad (but proud) note, our very dear Kat of Jess LC, who has faithfully illustrated and designed many of our graphics as well as manned our Facebook Page, has graduated from Northwestern University! She is now headed off to California to start an incredible life journey. I am so thankful to have had her wonderful support and help for nine months. And I still cannot thank her enough for helping us get our online USPS shipping figured out! Tonight we will celebrate her graduation with Mexican food, sangria, and sombreros. Plus, Melissa says she’s bringing a mustache. Can’t wait.
We’ve all been drooling over the pretties spattered among the fresh batch of up and coming web businesses like Emersonmade, Bando, Bailey Doesn’t Bark, and our own One Sydney Road. But I am happy to announce I have a new crush on who I consider my personal “next big thing” (and new friend), Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio.
I adore her fresh take on graphic design, stationery, and color.
Of course, the second I stumbled upon her site I promptly added her blog to my reader. And to my delight she has done an amazing recap of her first time doing the National Stationery Show. The info is real, practical, honest, and helpful for anyone considering trade shows in the future.
Click the headers below to hop on over to the posts directly.