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!

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

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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

Balancing

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.

Jess LC on abc chicago

July 19th, 2011   |   Life


The big days have finally arrived! Today and tomorrow our Jess LC Pop Up Shop is in downtown Chicago at the Daley Plaza from 9-3. Our booth is on a corner towards the Washington side of the plaza. There are streamers and a great sign (which Melissa lovingly made) that will mark our spot…

Yesterday we also had some exciting news, quite literally. Our Soc Chic collection was featured on a segment about the Sidewalk Sale. If you watch the segment, please know that the necklaces are actually $40, not $50 as stated.

And just in case you want the deets one more time, here they are.

 

And of course, if you’re just into MML, please come and say hi as well. There’s no pressure to buy, but we may push the free salt water taffy just a bit.

Have a great day and I’ll see you back here on Thursday!

maggie’s dream report: week seven

July 15th, 2011   |   Life

Big(ger) Dreams

Over the last six weeks I’ve gotten numerous emails, tweets and facebook notes from other creatives with entrepreneurial goals and dreams. I love getting these – keep ‘em coming! I’m always good for a resounding cheer and vote of enthusiasm. Many of the messages say “I dream of one day following in your steps” (which, first of all, WOW, I never thought I’d hear that and it’s so moving to me! And also intimidating! But we’ll stick with moving for now). And it had me thinking.

Dreams. I bet every entrepreneur-type has either been told they are a “day-dreamer” or personally identified with it (I know I always have!). Because day-dreaming and making goals and lists and picturing “what-ifs” is key to being a successful business owner… the other key is knowing when you need to buckle down and get the hard work done! But the dreaming part is the fun part.

I set aside part of my Fridays for day-dreaming about the business. I let myself get really crazy out-there and detailed and impose no limitations. “Reality” or “budgets” are not helpful in this situation. If I need some sort of prompt, I’ll think “where would I like the business to be in X number of years?” and go from there.

You guys know a little about me, that likely one of my dreams is to be an amazing and sought-after decorator. That’s true! But there is more. Some of it is far away, and some of it may be closer than I realize. Others may not be the right thing when I’m in a position to act on them, and that’s ok too. We’re not writing a business plan here, just day-dreaming.

My other dreams include writing a book, traveling the country to decorate homes, traveling the world to shop for homes, producing my own line of products, owning and decorating a boutique inn, and more. A BIG dream is to open a retail store and design studio. A fun space where I can show off my aesthetic, introduce new products to Seattle shoppers, host parties and events for the design and blogging communities, and meet with clients. I’ve even thought about staffing, how to decorate, and who might help host my grand opening! And it’s a dream that I hope to act on in the next five years or so.

I’m hoping that you will share some of your dreams with me in the comment section (or by email if you’re shy! maggie AT maggieroseonline.com). I’d love to hear what others in Jess’s little community are hoping to accomplish one day, what gets your heart racing and your imagination pumping out ideas. Is it a “one-day” dream or do you have an idea of a timeline? And lastly, is there anything you’d like to hear from me about in an upcoming report that might help? I can’t wait to hear from you all!

Necklace is Jess LC. Print behind is from Made By Girl and comes in various colors.

three sites that inspire

July 14th, 2011   |   Life

Lately I’ve been breaking out of my blog reading rut and exposing myself to new blogs and talented people around the interwebs. The three I’ve shared below have made a profound impact on me and help me raise the bar of what I’m capable of myself.

The tastemakers below all have incredible, authentic points of view which I respect so much. I can’t help but sing their praises here so you can hop around and get a dose of inspiration too!

Bri, of D E S I G N  L O V E  F E S T has an amazingly curated blog. Her style is varied, her inspiration is well, inspired, and she seems super sweet. I’m constantly amazed by her posts and her perspective on design. It’s no wonder she’s the mastermind behind so many awesome projects for Rue and ban.do too.

Katrina of the Pugly Pixel is the blogger behind my newest obsession. I am insanely amazed at how creative and thoughtful she is with all of her graphic design tutorials and premium downloads. I just became a premium member today (hence the amazing glitter graphic detail on this post) and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

She makes me want to be a better accessories designer. Her care and pride is that evident from her work and I want that same love to shine through with Jess LC and MML.

And of course there is the newest hit on the block, The Glitter Guide. Taylor of Sterling Style has done a fantastic job getting this site launched. The consistent, high quality spreads and features keep me coming back for more. (It’s also my secret wish that Jess LC one day graces one of their sparkly features.)

So there you have it! Now you know what’s keeping me excited and glued to the web. After being a part of the blog community for the past two and a half years, I’m blown away by how gracefully, powerfully, and beautifully so many woman have designed their lives and sites with intention.

My hat goes off to you all!

who’s your blog mommy?

July 13th, 2011   |   Life

Okay guys, time for something light and funny.

The girls and I were eating lunch and talking about the bloggers we like to follow and I suddenly had a question to ask:

Who’s your Blog Mommy?

As more and more of my favorite bloggers are giving birth (or already have older children), I’m finding myself just a wee bit jealous of many of the newborns. I mean, common, having Oh Joy! as a mother would be s-w-e-e-t. All the stylish clothes, delicious foods, and incredible home decor would be amazing.

(Not to say all bloggers are going to be perfect mothers, but just imagine living life as a child with some of the really sweet things that some bloggers post about. I’m just saying, it’s pretty cool to imagine the “internet version” of life as a Blog Mommy’s kid.)

I asked Susie and Michelle who they would want to have as a Blog Mommy and here are there picks:

Susie: “I’d pick The Pioneer Woman. I’d be the happiest child, but I’d also be the fattest. Also, there would be lots of animals. Animals!

Michelle: “I’d pick Jen Loves Kev. They look like such a fun, laid back family. And I’d have some sweet hand-me-down clothes from Rowan.

So there you have it. I’d be Oh Joy’s! kid, Susie would be among The Pioneer Woman’s clan empire, and Michelle would be the super sweet little sister to Rowan over at Jen Loves Kev.

 

Who would your Blog Mommy be?

always have fresh ice

July 13th, 2011   |   Life

Sometimes the difference between living a life with intention and one without intention is the difference between re-filling the ice cube tray with water after it’s empty or putting it directly back into the freezer.

Sound strange? Stick with me.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes when I use ice cubes for ice tea or wine (lame, I know – but it’s great in the summer), I will return the tray back into the freezer without re-filling it with water. Which means that hours later, I’m stuck filling the tray with water and drinking lukewarm tea.

If I just fill the tray each time that it’s empty, I will consistently be stocked with fresh ice and cool drinks.

This is true for so many areas of my life. For example,

If I just wake up when the alarm goes off and start reading right away, even when I’m tired, I’ll accomplish my daily intention to read for 20 minutes without having to worry about making time later when things get hectic. [Intellectual Life]

If I just bring a snack to long meetings, I won’t be tempted to dive head first into Forever Yogurt cheesecake bites on the way home. [Financial Life and Health & Fitness]

If I just get the mail and immediately go through it, I won’t be annoyed by the pile of envelopes and mailers sitting on my kitchen counter. [Career Life]

If I get a text and answer it when I read it, I won’t forget about it and end up responding two days later. [Social Life]

Not that these things are specifically a big deal to most people, but to me, they are all tiny little habits that when properly executed, help me function in my life according to many of my larger intentions. When I do these mini habits consistently, I reduce the amount that I annoy myself and leave room to focus on bigger life changes.

Sometimes life just clicks when there is fresh ice in the freezer.

 

Jess LC pop up shop

July 12th, 2011   |   Life

After preparing rather secretly, I’m finally ready to unveil a new project the girls and I have been working on at Jess LC… our new Pop Up Shop next week in the heart of Chicago!

For two sweet days [July 19th and 20th] we will be unveiling brand new fall collections for purchase, discounting mystery items in a flash sale, sharing original Franklin necklaces that we found in our inventory for just $30 each, and there is even a Pop Up Shop coupon to grab as well for extra savings.

Though I always try my best with each event we do, this one is taking the cake. I’m putting all my chips in, and betting that this will be the best event we’ve ever done. What’s more, not only will the products be popping, but the booth will be freaking adorable. I promise.

So please stop by, say hi, and let me know what you think of our Pop Up Shop!

Today I’ve got a new gig! I’m doling out blogging and business advice over at Patch and asking for your questions about the topic. Hop on over to read my honest and candid thoughts on how businesses can use blogs effectively. And while you are there, ask any questions you have – I’ll be answering them on Patch next week.

And remember, today is the first day of the July Email Intervention! For those participating, remember not to check your inbox on nights and weekends for the next two weeks. I’m pumped to have this get started, it’s truly changing my own life and I’m excited to see how it impacts others as well.

While designing a life with intention, it’s easy to get caught up in the messy middle stages of getting from here to there. When looking at my life, the distance between where I am now and where I want to be can seem daunting at times. Today the quote above by Joyce Meyer came to mind.

I think it’s something we all can relate with and appreciate.

Though I’m not where I want to be, I’m not where I was last year, in January, or even last month. I’m on my way.

Marketing for the Small-Timer

Wow, hard to believe that a full month of entrepreneurship has gone by! I have been keeping busy with the web redesign, home tours and photo shoots, blogging, and of course, decorating! But one thing that I need to dive into is marketing.

I am by nature a shy person (my mom will chime in here with stories of me crouched in a ball on stage while the rest of my kindergarten class performed a song and dance number). Sure, I warm up and get chatty when I’m comfortable, usually with a group of 4 or fewer. But introducing myself to new people, making small talk within a group of 8 people (who always seem to know each other), or talking in front of a group of people? Heebie jeebies.

That’s why marketing my business online has been a comfortable way to ease into “putting myself out there”. In the past year, I’ve doubled my traffic rates, gained client work, and sold e-books and product from my shop all without having to make small talk at a networking event. Here are some things that I’ve done that I believe helped me do this:

1. Utilized social media. I have a Facebook page and Twitter account. Lots of old friends and connections have “liked” my facebook page and I think that has been a great way to share pictures of our home, diy projects for readers to try, and highlighted my eye for design and products I love. Twitter has been an amazing tool for connecting with other designers, bloggers, companies, and potential clients. I use it primarily for relationship building, offering a peek into my daily life, and sharing links to inspiring sites, products, or other blogs. Best of all, these methods are FREE and easy to learn.

2. Wrote guest posts. You’re reading one now! In 2010 I guest posted on 11 different blogs, some of them multiple times. Not only is writing a guest post free, but it also allows you to position your services and expertise in a way that will appeal to your new audience. For instance, I might write a post about organizing and decorating a walk-in closet on a popular fashion blog. I’ll share tips for affordable ways to decorate your home on a blog all about being thrifty. I also try to have a really strong post at the top of my site when they click through. Once you hook ‘em, you still gotta reel them in!

3. Emailed people directly. I do ok with meeting people one-on-one. I’ve definitely had a few non-responses, but I’ve had great luck emailing other bloggers about collaborating or even just making a friendly connection. As time goes on, I’ve even started meeting somewhat regularly with some of the other Seattle bloggers and designers, and was able to help on a photo shoot and gain some contract design work from one. Again, this is a one-on-one email introducing myself, talking about something we have in common, and opening the door to possible future collaboration (or to pitch a specific idea if I have one).

4. Posted on Craigslist. I’ve done a few “Interior Decorator for Hire” posts on Craigslist and have had a few inquires. Nothing has worked out yet, but I think it’s only a matter of time (this is also free).

5. Featured on popular sites. I was not approached by Desire to Inspire to feature my apartment – I sent them the photos. I happened to know a writer for Apartment Therapy, but before she was hired, I’d submitted photos on their online submission form. I’ve pitched stories to some of the online magazines. I’m sure these places DO approach people, but it’s likely that they have enough content sent to them that they don’t need to. Send your stuff to them (or to the big sites/blogs in your own industry). You’ve got nothing to lose!

But now I’ve reached a point where marketing online isn’t reaching the right audience. It’s great for my e-decorating, but I’d like more steady local work. Here’s what I’ll be focusing on for the next month in an effort to attract more clients (at which point I’ll re-evaluate and tweak as necessary).

1. Networking. Oof, this is scary for me! But the more people you know, the more that are talking about you and your work. There is a group of design people who get together monthly here in Seattle and I’ve been invited to attend – a kind of cocktails and chatting thing. I also am making an effort to meet more people one-on-one for coffee or a drink. And to meet potential clients directly, I’m pinpointing the kinds of local events they might attend – art gallery shows, yoga classes, cocktail parties – and try to get these on the calender. This scares the crap out of me, by the way!

2. Free advertising. Think flyers, brochures, and business cards posted in my target neighborhoods on community bulletin boards and in coffee shops. There is a coffee shop right next to Gymboree. Don’t you think some of the wealthy stay-at-home moms grab a latte? While the printing of these items isn’t free, the placement is.

3. Paid advertising. I’ve done some selective advertising online and it can be beneficial. But I’m talking about ads in the local paper, magazines, or on local news blogs that are read primarily by people in my service area (King County). This of course depends on budget.

4. Editorial coverage. Pitching a story idea to the local paper or magazine to either write about me or quote me as an expert in a related article, like “Where to shop for pillows in Seattle”. This is also free but may be a longer process.

5. Teaching a class. This is something I’ve kicked around for a while. This could be done either by collaborating with a local retail store or by going super-DIY and booking a meeting room at the local library. Partnering with a store has obvious perks – regular clientele, someone to help promote, etc. I would say the class would be free unless supplies needed to be covered. And attendees should leave with a physical marketing piece, like a brochure.

These are just some of the things I’ve got up my sleeve, and I hope it’s sparked some ideas for you in how to spread the word about your business (whether or not you’re full-time yet!). Even if you’re shy like me!

focus on the goods

July 7th, 2011   |   Business Advice

Hey guys, I’m feeling a little feisty this afternoon. After watching many new business owners and business “experts” talk on and on and on about how to increase sales, grow a following, and “hit it big,” I’ve come to a moment where I just want to scream, “Stop and focus on the goods!”

Yes, there are lots of ways to sell, market, advertise, and get your products in front of customers. Yes, it does take some level of skill and ability to do it well (but then again, sometimes that’s not the case – dumb luck can be a factor too). But no matter how well you plan your marketing plan, your products aren’t going to sell if they aren’t what people want to buy.

What do people want to buy?

All sorts of things. They want the cheapest doodad, fastest doodad, original-est doodad, prettiest doodad, expensive-est doodad, coolest doodad, or most useful doodad. One or all of these factors can be at play in any purchasing situation. The key is to make sure that your products align with what your customers are looking for.

A spiffy website, cool branding, and enormous Twitter following are not going to compensate for a less than awesome doodad. In an effort to get a company or idea off the ground, people often speed through the product development and go right to the sales side.

As Gary Vaynerchuk says, marketing is queen, but content is king.

Make better stuff. Then go out and improve your marketing efforts.

If your doodads look like lots of other doodads and there is no catch to reel your customer in, you better start making better doodads. Then when people find you they’ll want to buy that really awesome doodad you made.

New to doodad making? That’s okay, just get started and keep designing better doodads. After all, that’s how I got started.

we are what we repeatedly do

July 7th, 2011   |   Life

Though it’s a few days late, I’ve come up with July’s free desktop wallpaper (full size here). From my Lifebook session I learned that more than anything, designing a life with intention means creating habits that incorporate what’s most important to me. So that’s the thought I’d like to ruminate on this month.

And of course, feel free to ruminate along with me by using the wallpaper as well.

PS – Still thinking about doing the Email Intervention? There’s still time to sign up…

stay at my place (July 28-31)

July 6th, 2011   |   Life

Yep, that’s right. I’m renting out my apartment July 28-31st. In an effort to keep my travel and savings intentions, I’m lending my home to one MML reader who wants to spend a summer weekend in Chicago. Mr. Lively and I will be driving up to Mackinac Island for a long weekend so the space will be cleaned, prepped, and ready to host an MML reader and their plus one.

Mr. Lively wants me to draw attention to the 9″ sofa he nicknamed Bernie. It’s definitely a great place to watch TV or read.

The bedroom is also a great place to spend sunny mornings.

And I promise fresh sheets (and maybe even a mint or two on the pillows) will be provided.

The granite bathroom (and kitchen, not shown) is lovely too.

Not to mention the space also doubles as the Jess LC studio.

My building is in Lakeview just north of Lincoln Park right by the running/biking trails and a short walk to the beach. There are also great bus lines close by to hop down to Michigan Avenue in 20-30 minutes.

Interested in staying at my place? Email me at jess@jesslc.com and I can give you more info!

(Photos from the Rue Mag feature, taken by Emily Anderson.)


introducing the MML email intervention

July 5th, 2011   |   Life

[Please note, this July Email Intervention Group is closed, anyone added after 7/7/11 will not be included on the Email Intervention emails going out this month. Please sign up for the August Intervention! Details to come.]

After my epiphany about how email was tying me to my career 119 hours a week, I could tell immediately that this situation is something that many of us share. In our hopes to be on top of things socially and in our careers, we’ve created deeply ingrained patterns that (at least for me) have come at the expense of other parts of our lives.

Being present in my own life outside of work on nights and weekends has eroded as I’ve kept an ever watchful eye on my inbox. Back when I had a Blackberry I was practically a Pavlovian dog staring at my phone for six seconds every moment I could just to see if that little red light would go off. Then I upgraded to a smart phone. And though the little light is thankfully no longer present, I continued to check my inbox every 10-30 minutes from the minute my alarm went off in the morning to the minute my head hit the pillow at night.

Though this seemingly harmless habit didn’t infringe on the things I did in my off hours, the near constant contemplation about email, responses to be made, and work to be done during the next workday weighed on my mind and tied me to my job most hours of the day.

But the good news is that I’ve realized this is a pattern I can break, and I want to help others like me, do the same.

Introducing the Email Intervention

To help those who share my email addiction, I’ve created a two week pledge to help curb the obsession. The idea is simple, those who want to participate with me in breaking free of email on nights and weekends will take a break from email checking after hours for fourteen days. My hope is that by doing so, we can all become a little less distracted from the other important areas of our lives that exist outside our office walls.

And feel free to tweak and customize this pledge to work with your life. If you separate your personal and professional email accounts, feel free to check your personal accounts after work, but remember, the ultimate aim is to be completely present when you are doing other things in your life. Dinner with friends means not checking Twitter, blogging for fun means looking at your stats in that moment only, and texting and calling your friends and family directly is encouraged. The main point is to make sure that your pledge helps you become more engaged in your everyday life.

How You Can Participate

If you’d like to take the Email Intervention Pledge with me, please comment on this post. I am in the process of creating four emails (yes, I know, I’m using emails but they are intended to be checked during office hours) that will have tips, tricks, and reflections on the process of re-engaging in our personal lives. These emails will be sent out throughout the two week Email Intervention this July and on upcoming Interventions in the following months.

The July Email Intervention pledge class will take place July 11th – July 25th. During these two weeks we will all take a stand together to break the off hours inbox checking. We will have other pledge classes going on each month going forward as well. So if this month’s pledge timing doesn’t work with your schedule, feel free to wait until the next batch in August.

To help honor my own commitment to breaking this habit, I am pledging to continue to not check email on nights and weekends until 1,000 people take the Email Intervention pledge with me.

Please Spread the Word

Interested? Excited? Elated?

Feel free to help me spread the word and help us all reconnect more deeply in our personal lives by sharing this post to friends and family (hey, co-workers count too). Wouldn’t it be a great pledge for offices to take together? Feel free to use the header above to share online and also feel free to grab the badge buttons below. You are welcome to post or tweet them anywhere you like and you can link it back to this post so others can find out more and take the pledge themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, all it takes is a comment on this post pledging to not check email after work (or your own customized pledge) during July 11th – July 25th. And be on the lookout for the four helpful emails from me as we go on this journey together!

[Please note, this July Email Intervention Group is closed, anyone added after 7/7/11 will not be included on the Email Intervention emails going out this month. Please sign up for the August Intervention! Details to come.]

maggie’s dream report: week five

July 1st, 2011   |   Life

Well, big news first: I launched my website! After a loooong day of coding and formatting on Sunday as we installed all my new pages onto the permanent site, Ryan and I crawled into bed at about midnight after FINALLY figuring out why the comment section was broken. I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback and comments from regular readers and some new ones. I’m very proud of the site and I’m glad it’s been met with a warm reception. I think I might have taken it a little personally if people didn’t like it! It’s very close to the vision I had in my head when planning out the work on it. And a big shout-out to my friend and graphic designer who pulled together my new logo in record time, Deanna Mullican!

My “take away” from the experience is that I think it’s good to test my boundaries once in a while. I am not a graphic designer. I am not a web designer. The tools were unfamiliar to me, as was the language, literally! I had very limited knowledge from having a blog for the past 2.5 years where I’ve had to edit html code in very basic ways. But besides a few low points of just not knowing what the heck I was doing and bringing in my boyfriend Ryan the Computer Science major to help, it was an amazing experience. Every time I fussed around with a webpage and got it just how I wanted it, I felt like I was on top of the world. That’s the joy of learning something new! And it felt good to launch my new format of service offerings and e-decorating.

Since finishing the website, I realized that my three big projects I had deemed “post-job” are now complete! So this week has been a chance for me to look forward a few weeks and identify what I want and need to be working on. And Friday (today, for you readers) I have an appointment with myself to identify and brainstorm big projects for the next 6 months or so.

So what’s on my agenda coming up short-term?

Marketing – locally in particular. I love my online clients, but I want at least two local design projects going at all times. I have a variety of ways I hope to reach these people, but that will likely deserve it’s own post! It involves getting out and meeting people (scary for a shy wallflower like me!) and paper products like brochures… plus a little outside-the-box thinking!

Business stuff – I’m behind in financials, and I also have a backload of filing to do. Woo to the hoo.

Design work – I am working on a very fun nursery design right now, and a living room. The heart of the business!

Guest posting and collaborations – I’ve been trying to meet up with another creative local or business owner at least once a week. Not only is it good to get out of my office and out into the real world, but I leave each coffee date or happy hour so inspired and jazzed and full of ideas. This is also something I’d recommend for Midnight Hustlers. You never know what might come out of sharing your dreams with someone on a similar path.

Rest and reward – the site design took a lot out of me and my sleep schedule got kind of out of whack. I’m going to try to remedy that this weekend and unplug and unwind. And every accomplishment deserves a reward, I believe, so there may be a pedicure or new shelter mag in my future.

This isn’t the juiciest post, but not every week can be thrilling… it’s a glimpse into the day-to-day of owning a business. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and do the banking and filing. And thank you all so much for your amazing comments on last week’s post about fear. Taking a leap is scary stuff, but I’m honored to have you all to share it with and to know I’m not alone. I’ll see you next week – my inkling is that it will be all about my marketing plans!

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