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dual purpose: jewelry box
August 31st, 2011     |    ExfoliatingStyleWardrobe

As you can imagine, being a jewelry designer means that I have several jewelry boxes. This one in particular is very special to me as it once belonged on my Grandma’s dresser for many years.

Since I use display boxes to showcase most of my special pieces, this box has been meaningful but unnecessary.

… Until I found a new way to organize my sewing materials inherited from my mom. Now things are perfectly organized and easy to see.

And the bonus? Now I love fixing small holes or snags on my clothing because it means that I get to use the jewelry box that is meaningful and organized.

have’s, do’s, and be’s
August 30th, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Oh man, I feel like this summer in all of the new growth and anxiety I’ve felt, I emerging out of the fog with very little in my mind with which to cope. And in a way, that is the best thing that could happen to me for a few reasons. The first, is that it allows me to rediscover things that I already knew about life and intentions before, in a whole new way, without my past perceptions casting a shadow over my present reality. It also allows me to go back and re-trace a lot of the successful steps I’ve taken in the past, and then share that journey here with you.

In fact, yesterday while running with Mr. Lively while still in a bit of a personal funk, I kept searching for things to be grateful for in my own life after yesterday’s discussion on envy vs. inspiration. Logically I knew that I have a great life, and so much to be thankful for, but anything that I thought of to be thankful for seemed forced… Until I thought about the fact that I am able to share the tough stuff I experience here with you. To know that when something sucky happens to me, I am able to share it here on MML and read comments that say “thank you for sharing” is pretty incredible. Not many people get to turn their crap into constructive, positive feedback. And for that I am truly, deeply grateful.

Have’s, Do’s, and Be’s

Okay, now back to my newest epiphany. This weekend I decided to go back and re-read my favorite book of all time, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book helped me get out of a major rut in my life in college and is still the number one resource that I recommend to readers and friends when they talk about finding purpose, happiness, or intentions. It has been the single largest factor in my success at designing my own life and business with intention and I’ve probably referenced it here on MML over three dozen times.

What is crazy is that while in a tailspin of confusion, frustration, anxiety, and worry this summer, I never thought to go back to this book and re-read it sooner.

But better late than never, right?

In re-reading the first chapter on proactivity, I’ve discovered a major flaw in my recent life paradigm that has led to a lack of clarity and peace:

This summer I focused on my Have’s and Do’s.

After making a million intentions in a intention-based program a few months ago, I focused mostly on things that I wanted to have and do. I thought a lot about the dream house I want, the marriage and kids that I want, and the trip to Italy I want. I also thought about the things I wanted to do: learn Italian, do yoga every morning, eat a healthy vegetable every day, read the NY Times daily, save $1000 a month, etc. I believe there were around 144 things that I wanted to “do” overall to have the life that I wanted.

But the truth was that by focusing on the have’s and do’s I was so overwhelmed and dissatisfied at my lack of those things, I felt miserable.

And after finally letting go of the misery, the past few weeks I’ve wiped my mind clean of intentions altogether. Sure, I still want to launch the collections we are working on for Jess LC, and I am living my life rather similarly to how I normally do, but I was scared to think about intentions too much for fear that I would find myself back in the anxiety trap I just escaped from.

No impending need to “do” anything helped me release my life and live with open hands and faith.

But it also wasn’t giving me a lot of pleasure, just the blessed absence of anxiety.

And while reading Habit One, I found a clue to help me regain my excitement and joy while also avoiding the stress that my intentions had caused earlier: I need to work on my Be’s. 

The one thing that I can control at all times, and work to improve, is my Be’s no matter what life throws at me. (Which MML reader, Marguerite, commented on earlier.)

I can choose what qualities I want to cultivate and focus on daily. And I also recognize that these Be’s are also the overriding frameworks that I can later design my life around once more. I just needed to realize that Have’s and Do’s aren’t the intentions in my life. They are the effects of utilizing my “Be” intentions. So here are my few, new, Be’s which will one day become my intentions:

I want to Be Present.

I want to Be Peaceful.

I want to Be Healthy.

I want to Be Grateful.

I want to Be Loving.

Starting with these overarching themes, I will eventually find ways to design my actions (my Do’s) to fit these intentions. But for this moment, I just want to relax into the idea that these are the things which are in my control in this very moment, and are attainable. I also have a feeling that over time, those Have’s I have been seeking may just come my way. But if they don’t, it doesn’t matter in this moment.

Right now, I just need to be.



glitter credit
envy vs. inspiration
August 29th, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Over the weekend I spent my Sunday morning pouring through a new favorite blog’s entire two year archive.

I found this new blog crush’s life and content fascinating. She is also very talented in a particular area that I am working to improve in my own life. For the purposes of this post, who she is and what she does is not as important as what I’ve learned from this experience, so I am going to keep her name and blog anonymous.

What is most important to know is that from reading her content she seems talented, beautiful, successful, loved, thankful, happy, and though not perfect, pretty darn close to perfection. Of course I know that her life cannot be all sunshine and rainbows – no one’s life is – however the good things she shares are really good.

After pouring through the archive I found myself frustrated by my own shortcomings, wishing that I could be as successful as she is in specific ways.

And then I noticed a sinister mindset creep into my mind. I started to look at my shortcomings compared to other bloggers I admire as well. I started to think about how I’m not as talented at graphic design as Pugly Pixel, as pretty as Emily, as good of a re-mixer as Kendi, as unique as Bri, as far along as Sheridan, and as driven as Michelle.

It culminated in a stew of pity and envy. I focused on my weaknesses rather than my strengths.

Thankfully, at this point I had a breakthrough: blogging is not meant to be a place to compare ourselves, it is a place to get inspired by others, to learn and grow more fully into ourselves.

Sure, this may not seem like a big deal to most people. I bet there is a big chance that you already have figured this out for yourself. Heck, I’ve even known this is true in the past. But at that moment on Sunday morning, I forgot that’s what blogging is about and let myself think that I “need” to be as good as everyone else at the things that they excel at most. And the fact that it is easy to compare oneself to not just one person, but hundreds of bloggers, is overwhelming and defeating.

Because unlike Oprah Winfrey, Joyce Meyer, or Gary Vaynerchuk, who to me represent an ideal to strive for without jealousy; bloggers close to my age and place in life are more relatable and seem to bring up feelings of inadequacy.

The bloggers aren’t that different from me, so why can’t I be as good as them at what they do best?

After figuring out that I am meant to use these bloggers and their strengths as a gentle inspiration, rather than a spotlight on my shortcomings, I began to feel more light, excited, and empowered. I don’t need to be as good as Bri at graphic design, but I can admire her creativity and push myself to improve my graphics. I can watch Kendi remix her striped shoes with her solid top and see how I can try something similar with my own wardrobe. I can use these bloggers as teachers to help me improve in areas that I desire.

I’ve also noticed that some of the personal life bloggers who seem the happiest do not have perfect lives. But their gratefulness alone creates the happiness that I envy. They do not usually live in the coolest cities, go to the coolest restaurants, or have the coolest jobs (okay, some have pretty fantastic jobs). But they usually have an ability to share how thankful they are for the awesome things they do have in their lives. And at the end of the day, that is what I admire. I want to love my life as much as they love their life.

And by focusing on their life instead of my own, I am doomed to always feel “less than.”

Only by using their blogs as gentle inspiration to become more connected and appreciative will I ever be fully present and happy in the life I have been given and created.

maggie’s dream report: week twelve
August 26th, 2011     |    Life

Stand by me

Although being a solopreneur (get it?) suggests working alone, it’s not entirely true. Even if you’re the only person WORKING for your business, I don’t think any successful entrepreneur would be so without a strong support system. Family, friends, and your significant other are all a part of the business because they love and care about you.

I’m so grateful for my sweet boyfriend, Ryan. He is a huge part of Maggie Rose, even though he has little opinion of decorating and has only written two blog posts (out of pressure from me!). It was Ryan who put his foot down when I was miserable at my old job and said “Enough. It’s now or never.” It’s Ryan that reminds me that I’m not failing until I’ve given up. We live frugally because of my career switch but to him, my happiness is more important.

I can’t stress enough the importance of having the support of my partner. Even though I sometimes feel guilty that we can’t spend frivolously (even when I’m the one who wants to), that guilt comes from ME, never from him. He believes in me and has from the beginning.

From my friends, even the ones who aren’t into the blogging world at all, I get nothing but cheering and support. I don’t know that any of them have been anything else than encouraging. Even though most of them have “regular” jobs, I think they know that this is what I HAVE to do, for myself. A few in particular have been great as sounding-boards for business ideas and yes, some complaining.

I hear a lot from entrepreneurs whose family is not supportive of their new venture. I’m lucky to come from parents who have followed their own paths (my dad is a full-time musician and has been for over 30 years and my mom runs her own non-profit after being run into the ground working for someone else for years). That doesn’t mean they weren’t worried – and what parent wouldn’t be in this economy! But my mom was proud after I finally took a stand after complaining about my job for 5 years.

Not everyone is going to be supportive or understanding. But when you have your key people behind you, the naysayers don’t seem so important. They’re just the ones who “don’t get it”. The ones that do, keep ’em close! They’ll keep you sane.

dual purpose: door hooks
August 25th, 2011     |    ExfoliatingStyle

Today I’d like to introduce a new little treat I have for MML; Dual Purpose. As a designer and someone who is all about clearing the clutter and staying (mostly) on budget, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that help me have a home that looks great and functions well. From time to time (which means I’m not setting a rigid posting schedule) I’ll share new ideas that re-invent the purpose of something you may already have.

Because designing a life with intention means having intentional stuff, too.

Making the most with what you have

There were quite a few design bloggers who watched and wrote about the show ‘Million Dollar Decorators’. I watched one episode but never got around to watching the entire season. The reason I am bringing this show up is because I really wonder how well “million dollar decorators” would do when forced to use a very tight budget and some not-so-high-end pieces. Truth is, most of us aren’t millionaires and we don’t have the ability to go buy all new beautiful high end pieces to curate our home with. In most cases we just have to work with what we have. This is even usually the case with decorators!

My husband and I recently moved into our home (May of last year). We are your typical twenty-something couple early in our careers and we don’t have a huge disposable income. I’ve been decorating our home slowly but surely, doing what I can when I can. Even though I believe your home should be amazing and make you happy, I don’t believe going into debt just to buy a piece of furniture.

Here is an example – my husband and I bought our sleigh bed back in 2006. In fact, we bought the entire bedroom suite. However, as my tastes evolved and changed over the years, I no longer liked the furniture. As I recently decorated our current master bedroom, I sold the nightstands and dresser, but the sleigh bed had to stay. A new bed is expensive, especially one of quality. So I’m working with what I have – the sleigh bed.

I worked the old bed into the new room, using cool colors to offset the warm bed. I replace the previous nightstands with softer skirted tables, and added some color with a new painted dresser. Even though I don’t LOVE our old bed, I do love our new bedroom. And someday, when the budget allows, I can get a new bed.

Another example is our TV stand. Sure, I would love this beautiful bamboo TV console from Noir, but the cost is $1,875.

So instead, I purchased this vintage piece at an auction for $60. Is that a price difference or what?

Someday I hope to get a new sofa for our family room. This one would be wonderful:

It’s by Lee Industries; they really make the best sofas. BUT they are priced in the thousands. Until we can afford the sofa we desire, we use this hand-me-down sofa that was FREE!

Sure, there will always be bigger and better things that we all want to fill our homes (and lives) with. But that’s why you must create your home with intention. Be intentional about what you bring into your home. Make sure you can afford it (with CASH. No credit.) If you cannot afford it, work with what you have until you can (like I did with my sleigh bed). Find pieces you love even if they aren’t what you dream of (i.e. I really love our $60 TV stand, even though it’s not the Noir piece).

When you start living this way, you’ll really start to love your home!

living life with open hands
August 24th, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Now that I’ve shared what has been complicating and frustrating me, it’s time to share the baby steps I am taking to walk out of the anxiety and fear I’ve been feeling.

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of speaking to Mindie Kniss and she pointed out that I seemed to have a strangle hold on a few areas of my life. It was as if I was trying to force situations to come about as I expected them to be – immediately. But the fact was that they were not manifesting in my life as I decided they should.

And rather than leave those situations up to Life, trusting that they would play out for my ultimate benefit, I chose to worry and attempt to control them. Because the only thing I could do other than be peaceful was worry. And on some unconscious level, I felt that the worry was more beneficial to make my desires come true.

At least when I was worrying I was doing something. Which gave me a fictional feeling that I was driving the outcome, that I was in control.


Worrying was an active posture, but it was not accomplishing anything other than make me feel miserable and anxious.

So Mindie suggested that I begin to lighten my grip and place the situations in open hands. To let things play out exactly as they should, trusting that they would resolve in positive and peaceful conclusions when the time is right.

And though I’d love to say that I took her advice and did this immediately, I did not. I continued to worry and feel anxious, as well as learned some valuable lessons.

So now, I begin again. Today I begin to take my life and business and put them into my palms. This practice has served me well when it came to my struggle with weight, and I do believe that it is my best choice for the rest of my life as well.

Will it be easy to do?

Not necessarily. But I do believe that this is the lesson that I am meant to learn.

in the middle
August 23rd, 2011     |    Business AdviceLife

I think I need today’s post to help me process my thoughts as much as I hope it helps others in business or contemplating a start-up.

Besides my own life getting off track this summer, I also have been working through things on the business side as well.

Each year since I launched Jess LC four years ago, I’ve tackled a new area of business which has catapulted Jess LC to new levels. But that also means that each year I have faced a huge (stressful) learning curve. In 2007 I took a part-time hobby from college to full-time company in a studio apartment in Chicago. In 2008 I got sales reps who took our distribution from 15 stores to over 100 and brought on jewelry making assistants and interns. In 2009 I strayed from wholesale accounts focused on selling online and started MML. In 2010 I completely re-branded, launched a new site, shopping cart, packaging, and designed cast pieces which were custom made for Jess LC. I also worked with a major PR company in New York and LA who got our jewelry in Real Simple, People Magazine, and Daily Candy. And this year, 2011, has been the year of designing collections beyond jewelry.

Early in January while speaking at a conference in New York, I finally dared myself to think beyond jewelry. And the minute that I dared to imagine that I could design my favorite item to personally purchase, handbags, I was over the moon. I also quickly conceived the idea of making Jess LC a lifestyle brand with many new products, and I set to work making the very popular Lake Shore collection.

What hasn’t been so apparent since that spring launch is that I’ve also been working on four other new areas as well.

Since June, I’ve been working side by side with new sources to make the other collections. These new products are all in areas that production-wise, I knew absolutely nothing about. And I’m realizing that in my quest to design and launch the four new collections simultaneously, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

In theory I imagined that this process would be fantastic, easy, and fun. And at first it was fun, then it was challenging, and now it is hard. I’ve had to learn to work with three totally new people and companies who all have their own ways of doing things, and who are not always able to produce exactly to my preferences. Time lines, likewise, are frequently delayed, samples are denied, and materials are inaccurate.

My enthusiasm for my ultimate vision underestimated my capabilities and those of my suppliers. And while I keep pushing along, expecting things to go perfectly, I end up banging my head against the wall, trying to control things beyond my reach.

I thought that by leveraging suppliers and experts in the areas my life would be easier. But the reality is that it is actually more stressful because it is so often now out of my hands.

So after months of hard work, highs, lows, stalls, and waiting, the collections are finally reaching completion and look great. But in order to really get things going, I also realize that I should cut one of the items which isn’t up to par with what I’d like to present on Jess LC. My hope is to perfect it, and return to it again next year.

I’m also learning that four collections launching over the next three months is a too much to do properly, so I’m going to do a double launch of two collections together in September, another launch in October, and a final launch in early November.

By dropping the one problem style, skipping a photo shoot and launching two collections together, I am taking a step back from my massive expectations. I am ditching perfection in favor of doing what is do-able. As much as I want to do everything, I also want to do things well. And if that means taking smaller steps and being more flexible, that is what I need to embrace.

I’ve learned that I can’t expect things to be easy or perfect, but I can have faith that they will be worth it. As Joyce Meyer says, you have to go through the middle to get to the other side.

what went wrong
August 22nd, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Now that I’ve shared who I am, why I started MML, and how I spent the last four years living intentionally, it’s time to talk about what went wrong over the past few months.

As I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago, my intentional journey took hit a rocky patch this summer. And though in some ways it’s still a work in progress for me, I’d like to share the negative ways that I have approached intentions and how I plan to move forward. My hope is that by sharing the negative patterns, others may avoid the same pitfalls.

This summer I made intentions for every area of my life and refused to leave room for compromise, change, or Life.

As I mentioned a while ago, I went to a four day retreat called Lifebook that helped me create new intentions for every area of my life. Coming out of the program, which I definitely recommend, I had massive breakthroughs in terms of career vs. purpose and email. But I also took my intentions to a not-so-good place.

After discovering what my ultimate lifelong intentions were, I was quickly dissatisfied with my current life. I started to want to live all of my intentions NOW. Right this second. Going through the journey to develop the skills, and assets that I desired was not acceptable to me. I wanted the fullest, complete life I craved immediately.

The problem with that mentality was that it is simply not possible.

Right now I am 26 years old, I don’t have the dream house I designed in my head, and I don’t have all of the desires of my heart. I don’t have children, I am not married, I am not eating my ideal diet, I do not have the money to travel to Italy, I do not have the income and savings that I would like.

Comparing my ultimate ideal life with my current one made me feel dissatisfied and brought out my latent perfectionist side.

I suddenly wasn’t allowing the new intentions to be general guides or beacons in my life, instead I made them absolute present moment necessities. And since I have no real way of knowing which intentions will really happen in the future or which ones I’ll have control over, I was scared as much as I was dissatisfied.

I was so attached to the glossy vision I had of my future that I was unwilling to acknowledge that much of the things I desired were not controllable. And some things, like when (or if) I have a two natural born kids (a boy and a girl, of course), is not something I can just snap my fingers and dictate.

I also cannot know – or demand – that I am guaranteed that I will one day have the exact home that I dream of, all the way down to the drawer pulls on the bathroom cupboards. (Hey, it may sound silly, but I was as attached to the minute details as much as the massive ones.)

The other more sinister aspect of this all or nothing mentality was that it allowed for no imperfections in myself. I was hyper-critical of myself each time that I did not live up to the ideal that I set for myself. This insanely high level of criticism also leaked into my relationships. I started to measure them by the same perfect vision and when people fell short, I had a hard time empathizing and felt frustrated. Forgiveness, understanding, and gratitude went by the wayside when things didn’t match my expectations.

Thankfully, I eventually became miserable enough to start to examine my beliefs and re-think how I would like to approach life.

For a while, the best thing that I could do was let myself not focus on intentions at all. Sure, I still got up each day and generally drove Jess LC and my personal life in positive ways, but I didn’t dictate what I needed to do or accomplish. I floated around a bit and let myself relax from the mental death grip.

Now that I’ve had time to decompress, I’m slowly revisiting my intentions and recognizing which intentions are within my circle of current influence. My dream house, theoretical children, trip to Italy, and ideal income are not things that I can control today.

But habits like reading, saving, working out, and meditating are intentions that I have direct control over. For now, I’m leaving the pie in the sky wish list up to God or life, and focusing on the present moment power I possess. I have faith that if those large dreams I have are meant to happen, they will occur naturally as a result of me moving towards them in the down to earth, not always perfect, methods I have available to me each day.

In addition, I’m also revisiting the words intention and goal.

A few years ago, during my struggle with perfection, I recognized that the word “goal” was very black and white for me. If I met my goal, I succeeded. If I did not meet my goal, I failed. Whereas the word intention felt much more flexible, gentle, and kind.

Somewhere during this summer, I started treating my “intentions” like “goals.” I placed my self-worth in achieving those intentions perfectly as soon as possible. Now, I’m working to return back to what I really do mean when I say the word intention, a gentle determination to act in a certain way as much as I can.

It’s not about being perfect all the time, it’s about doing the best I can in the present moment.

Which is all we can ever ask of ourselves.

maggie’s dream report: week eleven
August 19th, 2011     |    Life


Roller Coaster

There are, in business as in life, highs and lows. Friends, I’ve been at kind of a “low” point.

Fear is the main force of gravity in my business’s low point. Fear of failure, of being laughed at, at screwing up, of going broke, of having to give it all up, and of letting people (like you all) down.

The fear comes and goes, usually in a different form one day to another. But it keeps coming back.

As someone prone to anxiety attacks (thanks, former desk job) and stress-induced aches and pains, stress-eating, and tension headaches, giving into the fear and stress is possibly the worst solution to my worries, and yet I find myself letting them take over from time to time. Like now.

I’m worried that I jumped in too far, too fast. Worried about bills that always seem to roll in right at my most stressful moment. Worried that I’m doing something wrong, that things won’t pick up, or that I’m marketing myself to the wrong people. Worried about client’s reactions to my designs, budgets, or well, ANYTHING. Worried until I get so stressed out that I flounder and miss items on my to-do list simply because I spent the afternoon crunching numbers and wondering if I should look for a part-time job.

I think in some respects it is easy to romanticize the idea of starting a business. There is definitely a “rush” involved in stickin’ it to the man, setting up shop, and landing your first big gig. But after the first wave of success there is a lapse. A slow-down where you start to wonder if you made a mistake. If you really are cut out to do this. If this really is your passion, calling, and future.

It is. IF you can hang on.

Another climb up, up, up is coming. Just hang on.

beauty with intention: the best unlaid plans
August 18th, 2011     |    Life

The Best Unlaid Plans

When I started my blog, Beauty Bets, it was as a creative outlet from my day job as a magazine editor. I had NO IDEA that it would lead to me quitting to become a freelancer, and I certainly had no intentions of starting a product line. That wasn’t even a pipe dream. But once someone planted the seed, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I REALLY wanted out of beauty products: That elusive combination of healthy, all-natural ingredients, effective formulas that actually DO SOMETHING, and pretty, pretty packaging. And so began the crazy, fun, excruciating, exhilarating process of creating my own skin care line, By Elizabeth Dehn.

In the beginning, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I knew where I was going, and I was going to look darn good in my lab coat and geeky (but chic) glasses! Equally important: I planned to stay excited about what I was doing no matter what. Even when I had to scrap my scent blends and start all over. Or forgo a vacation in lieu of prettier (read: pricier) labels. Or lose weeks of my life learning how to build a website. What I discovered along the way is that if you set your intentions from the beginning and they align with your heart, your head, and your principles, you can’t go wrong. Oh, there will be some meandering and plenty of twists and turns along the way, even with the best-laid plans. The key is to keep coming back to your intentions. The outcome can only be positive. It might be different than you expected, but it will be something you’re proud to put your name on.

four years of intentional living
August 17th, 2011     |    Life

Yesterday, August 16th, was my four year anniversary of living in Chicago. To think of where I was on this day four years ago is simply insane. The first night that I stayed in my new studio apartment I cried for a long time because my boxes covered the entire floor of the apartment. There was barely room to walk. I also was devastated to realize that my full size bed was not going to fit in the extra roomy closet as I had hoped. This realization may seem petty. However, it forced me to realize that I would have to live, work, and sleep in the same room.

Soon after settling in, I had a new challenge to face, self-employment. At first I was crippled by uncertainty. I was desperate to know what the “right way to work” was. Eventually I realized that it was up to me to define, keeping in mind that I had bills coming on a monthly rotation. When people told me they couldn’t imagine being self-employed because they thought they thought they would not actually be able to do work at home, I was baffled. Of course you go to work each day, how else are you going to pay the bills?

My strategy for getting Jess LC started full-time was simple: sell jewelry to stores. And that is exactly what I did. What I did not expect was the exclusivity that many Chicago boutique owners wanted in their neighborhoods. Which meant that of the hundreds of boutiques that could carry my jewelry, I needed to find the best in each neighborhood and stick to those stores to have long-lasting relationships. This was new to me since in Ann Arbor, I was able to sell to three stores in the same town.

From August through December of 2007, I was a one woman show. I listened to books on tape as I cut every necklace tag, made every piece of jewelry, and answered every single email. I calculated out that to meet my bills I needed to sell $1000 worth of jewelry at wholesale a week. This simple metric helped me pace myself as I worked to get store orders. Some weeks I hit my goal early, some weeks it went down to the wire, and some weeks it didn’t happen at all. But I am thankful to say that I’ve never had to defunct on a payment, and things have always worked out in the end.

Please let me assure you that the first two years of living intentionally and growing this business could also be considered minimal, at best. I think a lot of people expect that living intentionally will always feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. In the beginning it was not that way for me at all. Most people thought I was crazy for doing it, and even store owners placing orders would ask what my “real job” was.

Intentional living is based on the faith that you are doing what you are meant to be doing as best as you know. But you also must realize that it can involve sacrifice. I lived in a crappy studio apartment with a boyfriend for two years, didn’t go to the dentist for three years, and only went on vacations that doubled as work trips. I had anxiety attacks about cash flow. Once, I debated going and trying to find a job and give up completely.

But through it all I persevered – please don’t think this was a glamorous process – I literally just kept going.

And ever so slowly things started to improve. In January of 2008, I picked up a sales rep team who hustled and got Jess LC into 100 stores nationwide in a year. I also picked up my first assistants and interns and started to learn to delegate so I could be three times more efficient. I no longer worked one day a week at a boutique for spending money. Little by little things picked up momentum.

Then in January of 2009 I started MML as I mentioned yesterday. It was finally time for me to stop being a hypocrite. When I began to get lauded for the courage it took to start the business, a voice in the back of my mind kept reminding me that I didn’t start the business because it was my passion. It was the vehicle through which I could help people because it would allow me to write about making under as well. And the longer that I delayed working on the real mission, the easier it would be for me to eventually ditch making under, my purpose, altogether.

I was scared that one day I’d have a million dollar jewelry business and have no time to help people design lives with intention.

But as you know, the blog soon took on a life of it’s own and I now spend my mornings sharing here with you. And as I gave of my time and thoughts here, I also began reading and getting involved in blogging via the business as well. This soon helped me clarify how to best use the business. By focusing on my online customers and site, I could consolidate my efforts and become more effective. Working with people online for Jess LC and MML is much easier than trying to focus on store accounts, sales reps, and trade shows while also being present and active on MML and other social media efforts.

I’m also happy to say that by September of 2009 I was also finally able to move out of my studio apartment and able to move in with my boyfriend, at the time. Consolidating from two studio apartments to a two bedroom apartment was a huge luxury. There were rooms with doors! I set up Jess LC in a second bedroom and reveled in the extra space.

But unfortunately the move also became a turning point in my relationship and we eventually realized we needed to go separate ways. But rather than break the lease six months early, we stayed together until the lease ended. Though Jess LC had been tough to start, the summer of 2010 was one of the hardest times in my life. And thankfully, taught me some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned.

Once I knew that I had to move again in September of 2010, I decided that God, or life, was not asking me to take a step back and retreat to a studio once more. I loved my new apartment building and I literally decided that I was going to make it work in a one bedroom apartment. Sure, this meant that my studio was going to have to be in the living room, but thank goodness the bed wasn’t there anymore like it was in the first place. It also meant that I was going to pay 50% more rent. This was scary, because I had no real proof that Jess LC would be able to afford it, but I set my foot down and again, persevered in the most unglamorous way possible.

And it worked out.

Since that move last September, things have risen to a whole new level for me. I began to go on speaking trips and I continued helping people make under on MML in a greater way than ever before. My personal life flourished as well. I met Mr. Lively and could not be more thankful. I decorated my apartment exactly as I wanted, and was even part of a Rue spread.

And Jess LC is evolving into a fantastic new adventure for me. Allowing myself to design and work beyond jewelry design has been a thrill, and a huge roller coaster with many twists, turns, inclines, and falls. After four years, I have found a way to design my business with such clarity that I cannot imagine life without it for the foreseeable future. The mix of MML and Jess LC has become a great fit for me. I feel honored to do both to the best of my ability.

So there you have it. A summary of the four years since I rented a U-Haul and plopped myself in Chicago. My hope is that this story resonates and in some way dispels any myths about intentional lives being perfect, easy, or even enviable. The risks, sacrifice, joy, and meaning are always there, unique to each person.

The path will not always be easy, but the path provided from within will always be worth it.


photo by Emily Anderson for Rue













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