Our Blog

home with intention: meet bryn
July 29th, 2011     |    Life

Meet the other MML Contributors.

Thank you so much for having me, Jess! I love your blog and I’m honored to be a guest poster : )

First, I’ll tell you a little about myself. I have always been passionate about interior design and wanted to be a designer. However, at 18 and as a freshman in college, I wasn’t confident in myself enough to go for it (“You will never find a job after graduation!!!”, I would think to myself). I was also passionate about Advertising and Marketing, so that’s the road I went down. Fast forward a couple years.. I was living a life I didn’t love and to be honest I was miserable. I used my spare time to grow my passion for interior design through my blog, and with some time, hard work and a lot of luck I was able to leave my day job and do what I love full time.

When designing with intention, let’s first look at the big picture. This is one of my favorite quotes that I personally live by, and advise all my clients to live by as well:

You may be laughing at the use of the word “houses”… yes most of us only have one house. But putting that aside, take this quote and live by it. I am constantly asking my clients: “Do you love it? If you don’t love it, let’s move on.”

My husband and I purchased our first home in May 2010 and we still have rooms that are completely or half empty. This is because I will not bring anything into our home that I don’t love or find to be useful. So that means if I cannot afford something I love or have not found something I do not love, the space will be empty. (Sounds a bit strange for a decorator to be admitting this, right?) But this is the essence of designing with intention.

Here is what I mean…

No artwork on our wall yet! I am planning a large gallery wall, but I refuse to put up a “until then” piece of art only to fill space… I’d rather have a blank wall!


Our practically empty living room that is awaiting the perfect, meaningful pieces of furniture and art:


As I continue to blog as a guest here on Jess’s blog, I will dive deeper into what it means for me (and my clients) to design with intention. I can’t wait!!

Jess LC collaboration with elizabeth dehn
July 28th, 2011     |    Life

Meet our newest bag to hit the block. This turquoise lined clutch was created in collaboration with the lovely Elizabeth (our new MML beauty contributor) of Elizabeth Dehn beauty. This fella is perfect for stashing beauty supplies or carrying as a clutch out on the town. And for $30, the bag’s double duty is worth every penny.

beauty with intention: meet elizabeth
July 28th, 2011     |    Life

Find out more about the MML Contributors.

When I was a magazine editor I spent way too much time fretting about the (un)importance of my work. While other people were saving lives or teaching children, I was waxing on about facials and designer footwear. It all seemed so superficial. And yet, I loved every second of it and I wasn’t superficial so what was the problem? Then I started a beauty blog about some of my favorite things—DIY face masks, detox diets, volumizers that actually work—and a funny thing happened. People read it! And responded. And seemed to truly benefit from my borderline obsessive knowledge and appreciate my candid opinions. I still wasn’t saving people’s lives, but I was saving them from making one more self-tanner blunder (see Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) and that had to count for something!  Henceforth I would write about beauty with purpose and intention. Sometimes that means entertaining readers with tales of my beauty misfortunes (see Body Wave), other times it means answering 82 questions about eye creams. That’s my job, and I love it.

When I meet women who don’t take care of themselves physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I can instantly empathize with their plight. They don’t think they deserve to look or feel good. Maybe it seems like a waste of time or money that could be better spent on someone else. But the truth is that until you honor yourself—with healthy skin, daily meditation, a flattering new haircut, etc.—you can’t fully give to others. What could be more important that that?

Elizabeth Dehn can be found writing at Beauty Bets.

Jess LC spotted in rue
July 27th, 2011     |    Life

I couldn’t be more tickled to find two of our Jess LC designs swimming among the amazing products featured in this month’s Rue Mag on pages 19 and 27.

Thank you, Rue lovelies, for sharing our Diversey Large Paisley Earrings and our Lake Shore Natural Tote.

{I’d also like to give you the heads up that we have a lot of new exciting projects coming to fruition at Jess LC in the next month or so, so hang in there as I share what we’ve been cooking up all summer!}

health with intention: meet leah
July 27th, 2011     |    Life

Find out more about the MML Contributors.

My name is Leah, and I’m the voice behind Your Nutritionista and Your Nutritionista Consulting. I’m honored to be the health/wellness contributor for MML! Though health is not just about how you treat your body, that’s my area of expertise. I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness since high school, and since launching Your Nutritionista Consulting, I’ve helped over 50 clients reach their health goals — with intention!

For my introductory post, I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’ve learned about health since becoming Your Nutritionista that will help you start designing your health/health goals with intention:

1. Satisfaction is key. If you’re not satisfied with what you’re eating and how you’re moving, it just won’t work long-term. Lots of people think that eating low-calorie foods is a good strategy — they can eat a large volume and keep calories down. But that may not be as satisfying as choosing foods with more bang for your buck. Calories aren’t the enemy! Workouts follow the same principle: if you don’t finish a workout feeling like you really accomplished something, there won’t be a lot of motivation to do it again.

2. There aren’t any “magic” foods or workouts. Fruit and veggies are great, but they’re not magic! Lots of foods contain nutrients, not just produce. Same with workouts — there’s no one magic workout that’s guaranteed to help you meet your goals. Running a marathon can prove counterproductive to your goals (trust me!) while doing 20 minutes of strength training four times a week might actually make a huge difference.

3. Spend more to get more. I know we’re all on a budget (and Jess has some great tips on personal finance!), but you can’t give yourself a tiny grocery budget and expect to get high-quality, tasty food. I encourage everyone to spend as much of their budget on groceries as they comfortably can. You’ll be more motivated to cook and eat well if your groceries make you excited! Not that you can’t find ways to eat delicious food on the cheap, but it helps if you have a bit more wiggle room. The same goes for working out: It might be worth investing in expensive workout classes or gyms if it will make you excited to exercise.

4. A little prep goes a long way. Putting just a bit of forethought into your meals or workouts can take you so far! Thinking to throw your gym clothes in the car before running errands might make the difference between you getting there and skipping it completely. Similarly, making sure you have satisfying snacks stashed everywhere you’re likely to be (desk, car, etc.) can make the difference between buying a cookie and eating a more energizing, satisfying snack.

5. Make the best decision given your circumstances. That’s a phrase I’m constantly repeating to clients. Whenever you’re faced with a more challenging eating or workout situation, assess the circumstances and do the best you can. Accept that you may not be able to eat or workout perfectly, but you’re making the best decision for yourself at that moment.

blogging and business answers
July 26th, 2011     |    Business Advice

A few weeks ago I shared a post I wrote with my recommendations for business and social media. Since then, I’ve answered several questions about the topic. See the questions below and the links that take you to my answers.

And if you have any questions yourself, feel free to ask right here.

My answers to the three questions above can be found here.

My answers to the two questions above can be found here.

Blurb graphics by Pugly Pixel.
finance with intention: meet cathy
July 26th, 2011     |    Life

New to the MML Contributors? Find out more here.

Hi, MML! I’m Cathy from Fiscally Chic! Before I jump into my introduction, I have to thank the Academy Jess. When Jess asked me to be the MML Finance Contributor, I was floored. I found this blog during a transition phase in my life and Jess’s wisdom and philosophy has totally changed the way I look at the world. To be able to share my knowledge on this platform is an honor. Thanks, Jess!

So back to my intro : )

I love cupcakes, running, nesting, and my husband John. We just bought a house in Chicago and are in the process of making it our home. But don’t let the “chic” fool you. Deep down, I’m just a dorky accountant. I’m a CPA in Illinois and Missouri. (Major accounting street cred.) Business is in my blood and my favorite board game growing up was Monopoly. Even in grade school I could be found inventorying my Halloween candy after trick or treating.

Finance, economics, and business excite me. I don’t particularly enjoy doing my taxes, but a few years back, a friend asked me to help her make a budget. I was all over it! Those sorts of things just seem like common sense to me. I guess I have my upbringing and education to thank for that.

I started Fiscally Chic to talk about “saving money with style.” It was born out of my Midwest sensibilities, the thrill of a good bargain, and helping others. I talk about living simply, living your dreams, and having some fun in the process. I also share what’s going on in my life to show examples of the “fiscally chic” lifestyle. Delaying some gratification to buy a house is definitely one of them.

You might remember a while back when Jess shared my “makeunder my finances” series. As Jess puts it, a financial makeunder “takes the stress out of it in a way and doesn’t make everything good or bad, but intentional or not intentional.” As your Finance Contributor, I’d like to share more of that philosophy. I’d like to help you examine why you spend or save money and your priorities instead of just “do this” and “don’t do that.”

Thanks again for the opportunity to chat with all of you monthly! If you have any finance or business questions or ideas for future posts, send them my way!

photos from the pop up shop
July 25th, 2011     |    Life

Thanks to photographer and blogger, Frankie de Guzman, we have some great pics to share of our Pop Up Shop from last week! Take a look at how it turned out.

And just so you know, our next Pop Up Shop will be on October 22nd in Millennium Park, Chicago. Details will come closer to the event.

The event was hot – in the nineties both days – but that didn’t deter buyers from coming out and supporting the event.

(It also helped that the staff handed out bags of ice on Wednesday afternoon too.)

On the second day, Michelle (in the far back, wearing white) and I (on the right, wearing white) were busy. She focused on packing orders while I spoke about the new fall jewelry and our Lake Shore bags.

On the other side of the booth the adorable and fun Ali, our intern-for-a-day, was busy writing up order slips and handling things like a pro. We can’t thank her enough.

My favorite element of our shop was the Confetti System streamers. They seemed to be made for our brand. Metallic + coral? Please. They were the perfect punch.

Bunches of bracelets.

Soc Chic was in full force too.

Necklaces on parade.

A sneak peek of our fall jewelry debuting next week, the Ainslie collection.

And a glimpse of Quincy, a collection coming up in the months to come.

For more pics, check out the behind the scenes look from the Jess LC team’s point of view on their blog.

meet the mml lifestyle contributors
July 25th, 2011     |    Life

It’s never been a secret that I enjoy sharing other people’s approach to designing an intentional life. Hearing the variety of ways that others have created amazing and intentional lifestyles is one of my favorite aspects of MML. And while talking with Kendi, she pointed out that MML could benefit from a few new points of view.

And I couldn’t agree more.

So with that in mind, I’d like to introduce you today to the new MML Contributors. Cathy, Leah, Elizabeth, and Bryn are going to take turns each Thursday sharing the ways that they have designed specific aspects of their lives with intention. My hope is that this new series will allow you and I to become fired up to take these areas of our own lives to the next level as well.

While I spend my time primarily focusing on thinking with intention and business with intention, these lovely ladies are going to share their secrets and motivations that allow them to excel at finance, health, beauty, and home. Each contributor has designed her passion and career around one of these areas and in a realistic, intentional, and relatable way… which is exactly what MML is all about.

So feel free to read a bit more about each contributor below and read their intro posts throughout the week. From here on out, Thursdays on MML will be hosted by these contributors sharing tips and tools for us to grow more intentionally.

Meet Cathy of Fiscally Chic. While a Certified Public Accountant by day, she can be found moonlighting on her blog sharing tips to buying your first home, saving with her husband, and pointing out how much money we can save by spending more intentionally. And there are more than a few great recipes to try. (She specializes in baked goods.)

Leah Sipher-Mann of Your Nutritionista may be familiar from a few her past posts here on MML. She’s been around the diet track many times before and now has taken the challenges she faced and devoted her career to helping others break free from the same struggle. To do so, she has created her own nutrition consulting company is called Nutritionista Consulting. This allows her to help others eat and move more intentionally with customized plans and one-on-one consulting.

Elizabeth Dehn of Beauty Bets is a beauty editor and has been an industry maven for years. After working with Aveda, Keihls, and Target, she’s now launched her own line of beauty products called Elizabeth Dehn. Though beauty can often be a complicated subject (and in my opinion can sometimes lead to the opposite of a “makeunder”), Elizabeth has a decidedly intentional and simple perspective on what is really necessary in this category.

(PS– there is an exciting announcement coming up this week about a collaboration between Elizabeth Dehn Beauty and Jess LC… stay tuned.)

Bryn Dunn of Bryn Alexandra is no secret among the blog world. Her down to earth approach to interior design has garnered a devoted following – including myself. She has shared her intentions on MML before and she’s a great example of a Midnight Hustler turned full-time entrepreneur. Her approach to her client’s homes as well as her own is always spot on. She balances design and simplicity extremely intentionally.

So there you have it. The new MML contributors. Not only am I excited to share these ladies’ insights with you… I’m excited to learn from them myself!

email is a privilege
July 22nd, 2011     |    Business AdviceLife

I just had a thought that moved me, so I thought I should share it with you too.

“Email is a privilege.”

As you know from my Email Intervention*, I feel it is my personal, purpose-filled duty (or you can even call it a “public service announcement”) to help people, especially self-employed people, extract their smart phone inboxes and blackberry blinking lights from their death grip.

I have been there myself for the past four years and it has led to a life that was out of balance. My work bled into my purpose, which bled into every facet of my life. I had a career that should have felt absolutely freaking incredible. But I honestly found it just “ho-hum.”

My problem wasn’t that I was in the wrong career, it was that I wasn’t able to separate myself from my career.

Now that I have not been checking emails on nights and weekends, my feelings towards the end of the week are mixed. On the one hand, I’m excited for the fun planned over the weekend. I’m excited to spend the weekend at Mr. Lively’s apartment (we call it the cottage), learning to play the guitar. And I’m excited to celebrate my cousin’s 30th birthday. Two days off from work will be nice and relaxing.

But on the other hand, I am a bit sad that I won’t be able to see my emails and “check in” on the business. I won’t know what exciting new opportunities are coming my way, I won’t know the customer service emails we will answer on Monday. I will simply have to wait until Monday, when I get to reconnect with what is happening at Jess LC.

Though that may seem irresponsible, the truth is, no one ever asked us to work 168 hours a week. We simply worry that other’s expect that of us, and feel compelled to constantly stay in the loop. We drive ourselves to stay so “in the know” that we never have a chance to wonder, to get excited.

My inbox is a privilege I get Monday through Friday, 9-5:30. It is an amazing tool that helps me work more efficiently. It helps me grow and drive my business. But it is also a privilege of my work – not an integral part of my personal life.

So rather than steal glances at my inbox while I’m walking over to Mr. Lively’s apartment this afternoon, I’ll be thinking about the produce I want to buy at the farmers market tomorrow.

And I already can’t wait to come back to work on Monday.


* The July Email Intervention pledge class ends on Monday night. There will be a new August Email Intervention coming up shortly. I hope you’ll join me.


maggie’s dream report: week eight
July 22nd, 2011     |    Life


This week has been one to test my balancing skills – people always talk about work/life balance for corporate employees, but not much about balance for entrepreneurs. Maybe because by working from home our work/life seems melded into one? Maybe it’s because we’re following our passion so our heart and mind are in one place?

In any case, it’s been a struggle because on Wednesday we found out that we’d been accepted to a new apartment building! We’ll be moving in a few weeks. Some of this is for financial reasons, but the decorator in me won’t deny that I’m chomping at the bit to order swatches for new curtains and upholstery.

Needless to say, I have floor plans and leases and to-do items running a list a mile and a half long in my head. But in the meanwhile, there’s work to do. And it’s not oh-I-just-show-up-and-get-my-paycheck work. It’s I-gotta-create-work-to-maybe-see-some-money-from-this-if-it-works work. My business is still young enough that it’s not making money for me while I focus on the move. It’s all hands-on work and a lot of the things I’m working on are to bring IN clients, not work that results in an invoice and paycheck.

It’s an extreme but real example of how life and work can conflict for entrepreneurs but the solution is pretty simple – if I can stick to it! Setting work-only time and life/move time. That’s my magic solution. Luckily some of my life work related to the move (decorating, organizing, etc) is directly applicable to my work (at least for blogging material). But I need to be careful to not let that seep over. In the meanwhile, I’m shoving life-stuff thoughts to the end of the day where they keep me up until 3 a.m. and make me sluggish the next day.

Anyone else have suggestions for separating work and life time? I’m not above running down to swap laundry when my eyes are bugging out after sourcing coffee tables online for 3 hours, but I’m letting my desire to start packing and shopping distract me from the tasks at hand. I’ve tried setting a timer for 15 minutes of solid work time before, and that seems to help. Any other suggestions?

P.S. I’ve had a few requests for a post about time management, which I’ve put off until I started to find my rhythm a little more, but I think I’m finally ready to tackle it next week!

…And I’m back! The Jess LC Pop Up Shop was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who came out to support us despite the heat wave. I first and foremost need to thank Susie, Melissa, Michelle, and Ali (our new friend and intern-for-a-day) for all of their help. There is absolutely no way we could have pulled off such a successful event without each and every girl. Not to mention a few bags of ice.

I’d like to do a more detailed recap in a bit (we have some great pics coming in from a local photographer), but I can also point out that Racked Chicago did a feature on Jess LC and The Style Cooperative – founded by our good friend Rachel Brooks. There are some great pictures there to give you an idea of how we set up our shop.

Credit Card Possessing at Trunk Shows

One of the most successful aspects of the sale, in my opinion, was the success of processing credit card payments on the spot. In the past, we’ve had to take down credit card numbers by hand and then process the payments on our online shopping cart days later.

Why credit card payments at trunk shows suck:

  1. You have to trust no one is giving you a bogus credit card number (rare, but possible).
  2. You need to make sure you write down all the info, and in our case we needed to take their addresses as well, which takes quite a long time when there is a line of people waiting to pay.
  3. You may accidentally misspell a word or number and need to reach out to the customer later for the correction, which is a hassle.

Why Square makes credit card payments awesome:

To sidestep these troubles without a wi-fi connection, we used the new Square App on my Android phone (the app also works on iPhones). This sidewalk sale was the first place I tried the app and I am quite impressed. It was easy to sign up, a cinch to process the cards, and customers found it really cool.

I think this app is perfect for those who may just be starting out and may not have a credit card processing system already on their website. This app is free for business users and personal users alike – think of it like the mobile phone version of PayPal, if you will.

To get started you just sign up on their site and they automatically send you a little square white attachment you put into your headphone jack on your phone. This is where you run the cards, and it’s totally free. Once your square attachment has arrived (shown on my phone above), you can get started processing immediately. Just make sure to connect your checking or savings account to your Square profile online before you run a credit card (you only do this once).

After that, it’s smooth sailing.

To charge a credit card with Square:

  1. Turn on the GPS setting on your phone and open the Square App after it’s downloaded from the Android or iPhone app store (the app is free).
  2. Enter the order total. Enter a description of the items sold (I just entered Jess LC each time).
  3. Swipe the credit card (all major credit and debit cards are accepted automatically).
  4. Have the customer sign their receipt using their finger on the smart phone touch screen (super cool).
  5. Send the customer their receipt using a text to their cell phone or via email. This is entered after they’ve signed.

That’s all there is to it. After the payment goes through you also get an email letting you know the total and the balance of your total charges thus far that day.

Square fees

Each evening the funds are sent directly to your checking or savings account. There is no contract or monthly fee. It’s a straight 2.75% fee on all payments.

Comparing this to PayPal which is 2.9% + $.30 on each transaction, this is cheaper and more efficient. However, if you have a sophisticated online shopping cart and have an app to connect directly to your site, you may have less expensive transaction fees that way. For me, I think the stupid simple layout and process of Square is worth the slightly higher transaction fees.

Please note, I am not speaking on behalf of Square in any way, they don’t even know I exist. However, I just love and recommend it that much for budding business owners to get up and running.













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