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maggie’s dream report: week seventeen
September 30th, 2011     |    Life

Letting Go

A couple of weeks ago I decided to close my Etsy shop. A few of my facebook followers asked if everything was ok, and actually, I’m better than ever! First, a little history…

I started the shop back in April of 2010 on kind of a whim. I’d been finding vintage items in my searches for my own home and saw things that were GREAT but I had no space or purpose for. But I hemmed and hawed and delayed until finally one day I just decided to go for it. I actually started on Big Cartel, then switched to Etsy later (here’s a post about that). When putting together my business plan for 2011, the Etsy shop was a significant portion of it – I’ve mentioned before that some kind of retail aspect is something I’ve thought about for the future of Maggie Rose and I saw the shop as a way to dabble in that without plunging into owning and operating a store-front retail store. I’d made some great sales since the move to Etsy and even wanted to start making and selling products for the home, which I did a bit earlier in 2011.

This all sounds great, right? You’re probably wondering where the “quitting” part comes in.

So here’s the deal: as my own boss, I like to measure my business activities based on what is fun to me and what excites me. If it doesn’t HAVE to happen (financials, invoicing, filing, contracts) and I can’t somehow change it to be fun (or the act of changing it to be fun also sounds like no fun), then I don’t want it as part of my business. And the Etsy shop got to be a big drag.

First there was the problem of not being able to consistently find vintage items that I thought reflected my “brand” that I could also mark up enough to make any money from (which, let’s face it, is a big part of business too). Some of the items that I’d invested money in weren’t selling and it was hard for me to justify spending MORE to have more inventory taking up space. I got lots of tips on how to boost profits (re-listing items daily for 20 cents a pop, having more inventory, etc) but stuff just wasn’t moving and I was reaching my limit of how much I wanted to spend without seeing any returns. And when I was only finding things to sell that would make me maybe $5… I wondered if it was worth it to me.

Secondly, I learned very, very quickly that I hated shipping. Jess, I don’t know how you do it! Maybe it’s because the post office wasn’t part of my regular routine, but getting a sale both thrilled and annoyed me because I didn’t want to deal with shipping it. It seemed like I never had the right size box, somehow even when I calculated the shipping with packaging and everything I was still under-charging and lost money on sales that way. Some items I didn’t even break even because the profit margin was too small to pad any shipping charge errors. And I knew that other sellers were undercharging on both the items AND shipping, making my prices seem inflated.

Lastly, it sucked that no one wanted to buy some of the stuff. I had been really excited to offer pillows in my shop. I’d picked out the fabric and trims and had more options ready to be stitched up when the first batch sold. But not a single. pillow. sold.  Even with lowering the prices, advertising a “sale” and relisting them several times. And that was a big bummer and blow to my ego (and it kind of is to admit that here, too, but I’m trying to keep it real).

Basically, it started to suck and it wasn’t profitable. And the less I wanted to deal with it, the less successful it was, and so on.

So I closed it, on as much of a whim as I’d started it. AND IT FELT AMAZING. I felt an immediate sense of relief and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

The only thing nagging me was that I’d started this whole shop endeavor because a retail aspect was something I was considering for the future of Maggie Rose Interiors.

Once again, Ryan came to my rescue as sounding board and meaningful-question-asker. I thought (out loud… a lot…) about a retail space, what the time commitment and energy spent on it would be. Did I want to spend all of my time managing a store (most likely with an online component)? Not really. I wouldn’t have time left over to take on the design clients I hoped a store-front might attract. So I reconsidered why having a store-front was so appealing to me in the first place. Two elements stuck out to me.

1. I like the idea of choosing products, of picking out amazing items and introducing my readers & clients to them. I also like the idea of possibly designing products someday.

2. I really like the idea of having a physical space that reflects my business and that can be used to throw parties, host small design classes, book signings, and bring clients to.

Neither of those things require that I open a store.  I do have some ideas for how to incorporate products into my business, though. And until my budget can work it out, I won’t be opening any kind of office space, though now I know that’s more suited to what I want. I feel so much better now, and instead of dreading thinking about products, inventory, and advertising my shop, I’m excited about my new ideas and about doing something unique that is both fun for me, and beneficial for my business. Because that’s what I want my business to be about!

Have you made any business decisions based on how fun you thought they were? Have you backed out of something because it just wasn’t working anymore? Or do you see it through to the (bitter) end?

P.S. A reader suggested last week that I include my website address in my post. So if you can’t find a link elsewhere, I’ll be including it here at the bottom. For more info about Maggie Rose Interiors, check out my website.

makeunder my wardrobe: step three
September 29th, 2011     |    ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

Once I created my vision for my wardrobe and exfoliated the items that did not match the vision, it was time to get to the fun part….

… Figuring out what items I wanted to purchase that completed my wardrobe goals.

Since I took such a methodical approach to creating my vision, it made this step fun and relatively simple. I knew from exfoliating in step two that I had some great items which fit my vision perfectly like great jeans, blazers, sweaters, black boots, and cardigans. The basics were there, but the “flavor” was lacking. So in my shopping list I made sure to focus on the fun and versatile pieces which would make my classic pieces pop.

Based on trolling through my Pinterest Makeunder My Wardrobe board I pulled these looks to add to my “intentional obsession” list:

(All sources and prices can be found on the Pinterest board. Stripe photo by See Jane.)

Once this list was created, I had a great idea of where to go for these pieces since my vision board included cross shopping high and low end stores already. I knew that I couldn’t find a comparable pair of brown boots in quality and style to the insanely expensive Tory Burch pair (which sadly sold out and I can no longer find). And that I could probably hit up Target for some of the more mainstream items like a dark plaid shirt. As shown above, my intentional obsession list included:

  • Dark Plaid Shirt
  • Silk blouse
  • Tall Brown Boots
  • Dark Winter Skirt
  • A Pop of Red
  • Printed Scarves
  • Brown Leather Flats
  • Brown Tights
  • Stripes (Trend)
  • Mint (Trend)
  • Polka Dots (Trend)
  • Fluffy Pin (Trend)

I will say that I’ve never been this focused when shopping before. It was like I could go into a store and easily sift through items and find what was or wasn’t worth my attention. Just because there was a sale on jeans didn’t mean that I needed to consider buying a pair; I already knew I had that category covered.

Also, knowing ahead of time which items I wanted allowed me to prioritize ahead of time. I got to figure out which items meant the most to me or were most wearable with my existing pieces. And I got to put some wish list items into perspective and save by getting a more generic version.

For some, this may be the perfect time to set up a budget as well and figure out what works best financially. For this makeunder, I didn’t focus so much on the total dollars spent, but just made sure that the buys I was making were worthwhile and within my reach overall. For me, items under $50 were a “save” and items over that price point were a “splurge.” But of course that splurge/save line varies person to person, so feel free to determine that point for yourself in your own makeunder.

Want to know what I got? Well, let me show you…

Intentional Obsession: Dark Plaid Shirt

Plaid Button Up – This was definitely a no-brainer for me. I loved the J.Crew or American Eagle versions, but this one has all the same features in a lower price.

Intentional Obsession: Silk Blouse / Polka Dots

Polka Dot Top (similar) – I love the sheer pattern and tiny gold buttons.

Intentional Obsession: Dark Winter Skirts and Stripes

Stripe Skirt – This was a stretch for me. I don’t usually wear muted colors, but I love having something a bit different to wear. It will look great with brown boots, too.

Gray Skirt – This pencil skirt with a little ruffle pocket detail was a great buy for meetings or to wear with black tights and black boots in the colder months.

Intentional Obsession: A Pop of Red

Flame Sweater (sold out) – This was a more expensive sweater than I usually buy, but the merino wool is great and the exact flame color I loved would be hard to find elsewhere. Since buying this sweater I have found it’s definitely been worth the extra cash since it goes with so many items and gives me a whole batch of new outfits.

Intentional Obsession: Printed Scarves and Eyelash Lace

Vintage Scarves – These scarves were a great, inexpensive way to add color and pattern to basic tops. And I even swapped one of my own vintage scarves for another, thus giving me something new to wear without spending a penny. I also loved that it was a purchase from an adorable local shop.

Eyelash Lace Trend – This scarf in particular was a great purchase because it touched on one of my other intentions, eyelash lace. The $5 scarf was a much less expensive way to try a mini trend without the financial commitment.

Intentional Obsession: Brown Leather Flats

Brown Leather Flats – These were a great buy since I don’t wear heels. They were a bit big at first, but I added shoe inserts Aldo sells and they fit much better – and are more comfortable.

Intentional Obsession: Mint

Mint Plaid Top – This was a great sale item which allowed me to get some more pattern in my clothing and try a new color I don’t already have.

Intentional Obsession – Fluffy Pin

Fluffy Flower Pin – This was from J.Crew (couldn’t find a photo, but this old Forever21 pin is similar). I knew that clips and hair pieces were a huge trend and finding this $10 polka dot pin that worked as a pin or hair clip was a great way to test the trend without much commitment.

So there you have it! I hit almost all of my intentions (except those Tory Burch boots, haven’t found a durable and good looking pair that meets all my requirements) and am so happy to create outfits now. It really does feel like a new closet in so many ways.

Going forward, I hope to do wardrobe makeunders in the spring and fall. Setting out ahead of time to figure out what items I want to add  – intentionally – will save me a lot of mindless shopping.

makeunder my wardrobe: step two
September 28th, 2011     |    ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

Yesterday I shared the first step of making under my wardrobe, Create a Vision. After I decided what style I liked, learned how to create more pulled together looks, and figured out which fall trends I wanted to try, it was time to move on to my closet.

To get started on my closet, I took Jessica’s advice in What I Wore:

and then,

It was not the quickest process, but it was really enlightening and worthwhile. I discovered that a lot of stuff I normally passed over was actually quite cute and fit better than I remembered (which has not always been the case in the past, often many items need to be donated or passed on because they fit poorly).

There were also a few items that needed to be hemmed, mended, or ironed. Once they received a little TLC they were fine to put back into active duty.

I even exfoliated a pair of boots which were in good condition, but didn’t fit me that well. Luckily, they were a perfect fit for Michelle, an awesome lady manager at Jess LC.

This makeunder was unusual since there wasn’t that much to exfoliate. Most makeunders have much more exfoliated stuff.

My Tactics for Clearing the Clutter

For those with more trouble letting go of stuff after it’s no longer being needed, used, or loved, I recommend trying these tactics to help kick start the process:

End of the Week Exfoliation – At the end of each week, find something that you don’t need, use, or love and pass it on, donate, sell, recycle, or toss it out. This is like a gentle pruning process that is a great way to maintain a clutter free home.

Throw Out Fifty Things – Take some time to go through your home (or even just one room) and find 50 items that are no longer needed and again, pass them on, donate, sell, recycle, or toss them out – depending on the item.

What I Don’t Want for Christmas – Before the holidays hit, take some time to go through your home and find things that you wouldn’t put on your wish list and find them a new home.

Host a Free Garage Sale – Go through your home and find things you no longer need and host a garage sale on your blog or in real life and do it free of cost. (In the past when I’ve done this I did ask blog readers to cover the shipping costs, so you might want to do that as well.)

Summer Home Slim Down – See how many pounds of stuff you can lose from your home.


After I determined what was staying in my closet, I put it all back inside. This time I put the blouses and sleeveless tops together on the left, from light to dark and then put long sweaters, shirts, and cardigans together from light to dark as well.

In the past I did not separate these items into their own categories, and I think a lot of smaller tops got lost in the mix when it was all one mass of color coded clothing.

Now that the closet was in good working order and I had a clear understanding of what I had, it made the next step, Identifying Intentions, much easier. I’ll explain more about that tomorrow.


makeunder my wardrobe: step one
September 27th, 2011     |    ExfoliatingWardrobe

For the past month I’ve been making under my wardrobe. And since it’s been a while since I’ve tackled the basics of making under “stuff” here on MML, I think it would be a great refresher course on the four makeunder steps.

Making under is about designing an intention for our home, getting rid of unnecessary items, finding out what we need to complete the vision, and evolving as needs change. It can be a straight forward exfoliating process when there is a lot of clutter. Or it can also be a transformational shift when there is major life change as well (like from career to mommy, college to career, single to married, or even moving).

(A Soapbox Moment)

Before any action in a makeunder, I think it is most important to step back and really evaluate what the overall goals and intentions are for the makeunder. I believe that the more we can focus on the overall outcome we desire, the more we will be able to cut out the crap that isn’t serving us well and to really determine what items we may want to purchase. The more we “begin with the end in mind” (thank you, Seven Habits), the more we will truly find ourselves with the stuff that serves us best and functions positively in our lives.

Though it may seem counter intuitive, I’ve never been against having stuff, I just believe that we need to have the right stuff to improve our lives. It’s mostly a quality over quantity matter to me. I don’t advocate living extremely minimally unless it brings you joy. For myself, I find the most peace when I have a beautiful, calm space that serves the goals that I have for my life. When clutter accumulates that does not serve that ultimate purpose, it is time to get passed on to someone who needs it, tossed in the trash if it is no longer usable, or recycled if possible. It’s really that simple.

Ready to start? Let’s get going,

For this wardrobe makeunder I decided to take the first step to a new level and really evaluate the vision and overall goals I have for my clothes. I wanted to totally re-think how I looked at my wardrobe, improve my skills at putting together outfits, and better represent myself as a person and designer.

Here’s what I did to get started,

To start, I decided to read up on the art of putting together a fantastic outfit. Research is something that I did naturally for my home since I love to decorate, but I had never applied myself to the art of making an outfit in the same way. Reading Jessica’s new book, What I Wore, was a great place to start thinking about my wardrobe more seriously. I loved the chapters in the beginning where she laid out some great steps like trying on everything in the closet and sorting out the items that needed to be mended, ironed, dry cleaned, or donated.

She also drew some beautiful outfit combinations that I used as math equations. Rather than looking at each outfit altogether, I started to identify which items she paired together.

Strappy Sandals + Beige Skirt + Print Top + Belt + Blazer = A Great Work Outfit

This helped me recognize which items I owned could be mixed together to make a whole new look, and which items might be great additions.

After getting the fundamentals from What I Wore, I studied my favorite style bloggers like Kendi, Jessica, Jill, Liz, and Blair. I started to see how they put their outfit combinations together and started to compile a set of looks that I could use as inspiration.

Which led me to…

… Start a Pinterest board. My Makeunder Fall Wardrobe page was perfect to collect inspiration pictures and also to tag items that I may want to try to add to my wardrobe later in Step Three: Identifying Intentional Obsessions.

Adding product images from online stores also allowed me to cross compare via my Pinterest board. I pinned products both high-end (Tory Burch) and low-end (Target and PayLess) to find the items that matched the overall vision I was creating at a price that worked for me.

By taking these actions above, I saw how items can be put together from my closet already, which fall styles I was most drawn to, and which items I thought would work into my closet seamlessly. I had a strong vision and goal for the wardrobe overall.

Of course it goes without saying that each person should create their own vision for their makeunder in whatever way works for them. I totally understand that many people would not go to the lengths that I did in this vision step. For me, I see the payoff as twofold for myself, the better I get at dressing and style personally, the stronger the designer I will be for Jess LC products to come.

In conclusion, take some time to stop and reflect on what you’d like the outcome of your makeover to be before tackling the clutter. The steps flow together best when there is a strong foundation.


perfection and reality
September 26th, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

My friend Kate sent me this image she found on Super Great and I think it perfectly encapsulates what I’ve been working through since revisiting The Pursuit of Perfect. In the book the author, Tal, explains the difference between a Perfectionist and an Optimalist. A Perfectionist will decide what a perfect course of action would be and refuses to allow any deviation from the straight path towards success. While an Optimalist is someone who takes reality and current situations into account and works within real-life possibilities, doing they best they can at any given moment.

Often, the course of an Optimalist is staggered, imperfect, winding, confusing, or even delayed. It can be as squiggly as the line above. But the strength of the Optimal approach is that it lives within Real Life while the Perfect line is an imaginary ideal. The Optimal way is often simply much more possible.

A fantastic example of the Optimal vs. Perfect route is seen in Patrick Makau’s world record breaking marathon performance this weekend. As the article states,

Not content to cover 26.2 miles in a neat loop, Patrick Makau of Kenya turned the Berlin Marathon into his own personal conga line Sunday while setting a world record of 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds.

Just before Mile 17, Makau swung from one side of the flat course to the other, once, twice, three times, then surged. This zigzagging tactic exposed and dropped the previous record-holder, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, who had run 2:03:59 in Berlin in 2008.

By taking into account that there was the previous record holder on his tail, Makau, choose the imperfect, zigzagging path to the finish in order to shake the contender in his wake. Had he been so focused on running a perfectly straight performance, it is easy to see that he could have allowed Gebrelassie to draft behind him for much longer and even exposed himself to a more tense and possibly unsuccessful first place finish.

Instead of letting that happen, Makau dropped the ideal path in order to deal with the present moment reality: that there was a man behind him who he needed to shake. And in order to best out run this opponent, he ran a irregular path. And in spite of this setback, he was still able to reach the finish and break the world record, achieving the “perfect performance outcome” that he desired in the first place.

Like Makau, I want to be able to read Real Life situations and deal with them as they come in order to push past barriers and allow for delays and mistakes. It’s the only way that really allows me to take risks and learn from them. It’s the only thing that will really give me peace and help me achieve the intentions I set out for myself.


photo credit
recent gratitude
September 24th, 2011     |    Business AdviceLife

Though I don’t normally do posts on the weekend, I couldn’t help but share the gratitude I feel for these two recent features.

Yesterday Oh Joy shared coin purses on her amazing blog. I’ve been a huge fan of her for years and to see her get excited about our coin purses is truly amazing.

And earlier this week I was interviewed for a Psych Central article on 12 Ways Successful Bloggers, Entrepreneurs Stay Productive. The article is great and shares my viewpoints along with the likes of Tara Gentile. It was great to see how differently we all approach our workdays and life balance.

As many of you know, one of the best ways for me to stay productive during the weekdays is to avoid email on nights and weekends. I still highly recommend the practice for those who haven’t tried it yet. It has changed my life and helped me truly appreciate what I do in and outside of work.

maggies dream report: week sixteen
September 23rd, 2011     |    Life

Establishing a Routine (following up!)

Last week I reported on my struggles with establishing a routine – thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments! I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone. It seems to be a common problem, but not one that can’t be overcome.

Sadly (yet, somehow, realistically) I can’t report that my week was magically perfect after airing my frustration. I still didn’t fit in exercise. But I did wrap up a client project, answered questions about another, lined up another client consultation, worked on an upholstery project, and managed to fill up my evenings next week with events and outings. I felt productive.

However, I did take note of how I was thinking about my time. I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks that I have on my plate – even though they are things I WANT to do. But on Sunday night I found myself mentally committing to way more tasks for the next day than would be physically possible. Finishing the chairs, finishing a client’s floor plan, emailing like 20 people, working out, doing laundry, hanging pictures, running errands, cooking a new recipe for dinner (which ended up taking four hours in itself), blogging (I like to write several posts at once and pre-schedule them). I’d think of “just one more thing” and think “I could do that tomorrow” but was setting myself up for failure by just wanting to do too many things in one day.

Since noticing that, the last few days I’ve been committing myself to accomplishing just one large task each day. Sure, I can do more (and need to if I want to keep this business ticking) but waking up in the morning knowing that “finishing these chairs” is my task for the day helps eliminate the wandering indecisiveness and overwhelm. When I finish that task, there are others waiting to be done.

I might eventually land on a schedule of, say, three must-complete items per day and a fall-back list for when those are complete. But this week, I’m sticking with one. It’s a learning process, and adjustment.

I guess my main message for the week is that it’s ok to have a learning curve, to realize that something isn’t working and take steps to adjust. And it’s ok for a realization to not magically create a better habit or action. It still takes time to build habits. I used to be one of those “all or nothing” types, but I’m learning as I get older that those plans have never worked for me. One change at a time.

love and learning
September 22nd, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Everyone gives a lot of lip service to the idea that a loving relationship should be filled with learning and growing together. It’s easy to find Etsy prints, books, and postcards with sayings related to this idea, yet I never seemed to really get the message.

You see, when Mr. Lively and I started our relationship, I immediately wanted to “design a relationship with intention” (as I do with every area of my life). I thought that we should talk a lot about our future plans, dreams, and intentions. That we should work to discover our strengths and weaknesses, and resolve any issues.

I imagined that once we figured out what kind of life we wanted and what our intentions were, we would automatically be an (almost) perfect couple. That by designing a relationship with intention, that we’d be in a smooth sailing partnership.

And to some extent it’s true, I deeply love, respect, and appreciate him. Our life, though not perfect, is pretty darn incredible. He is kind, thoughtful, funny (okay, downright witty), smart, and talkative. We have tons of fun together eating amazing food around Chicago, biking, running, and reading aloud to each other at night.

But there still were issues and conflicts in the relationship nonetheless.

In the past, each time we found ourselves faced with an issue, we would talk it out, work through it, and find a way to get back to the smooth sailing. That’s what I thought it meant to “learn and grow together.” Whenever there is an issue, you figure it out together and get past it as a stronger team.

Recently, however, I’m learning that there is more to it than that.

In the past few weeks we have gradually evolved from “problem solvers,” intent on clearing away the barriers in our life to get back to Great, to honestly pursuing growth as a goal in and of itself. Before, I used to grow enough to keep the relationship positive. Now, I’m looking to actively continue to improve whether there is trouble or peace between us.

And I don’t think that I was being lazy before, I just don’t think I knew any better.

This shift started with reading The Pursuit of Perfect together.  As we’ve been reading the book aloud, we’ve taken time to stop, discuss, and relate the concepts to areas of our personal lives and work situations. We’ve begun to share and help each other learn how to approach situations and life in general, differently.  — And there isn’t a “problem” to be fixed this time. We are simply reflecting and learning so that we can be better people towards one another and out in the world.

In the process of being study partners in self-improvement, I have sensed a shift in how I see relationships. I now know that it’s possible to be in a relationship that can lead to higher growth as an individual. That I don’t need to just grow in the couple to be a better girlfriend, but I can use it to become a better woman. And sharing in a goal that is larger than “us” brings us closer together on a totally different level.

A great relationship doesn’t have to be an unending string of positive feelings and fun. And it also doesn’t have to be one that faces conflict as a way to keep the peace. It can be one that includes the positives, the conflicts, and the unending shared pursuit of individual and shared growth.


business in the city details
September 21st, 2011     |    Business Advice

Thanks to the many responses to the q&a business chat idea, we are moving ahead! I have reserved a spot at Next Door, an awesome new spot in Lincoln Park, for Tuesday, October 4th. Since the space can only be reserved until 7pm, I’ve gone ahead and booked us for 6:00-7:00. Hopefully that will be enough time for commuters to get there (it’s near the Diversey El stop and the Clark/Broadway/Halsted intersection).

Since I’m imagining some people may be hungry… feel free to bring snacks or take out. Based on the emails and comments, some people are whipping up some awesome treats to share, which is more than encouraged. Oh, and there is a coffee shop right inside the space, so we can be caffeinated if the mood strikes.

For those who aren’t in Chicago, I apologize if it is not possible to attend. A few people mentioned that doing it online would be nice, and I am definitely considering that for the future. But more than anything, I really want to get out and interact with people. I spend so much of my time working in the studio with the girls that I miss the live connection. Heck, I’d even love to bring this kind of thing to other cities in the future as well… but again, I’m taking it slowly and seeing where it leads.

And of course for those who want in-depth one-on-one advice and consulting, please also remember that I do that as well (via phone, Skype, or in person).

So now that the date is set, who’s coming!?

my fall picks
September 20th, 2011     |    Wardrobe

Danielle over at Breakfast at Toast (and photographer for our launch) has combined a fantastic group of bloggers to share their top picks for fall. I’m honored to say that she also asked me to participate (my picks are above). To find out where my favorite items are from and the other amazing choices that the girls selected, hop over here.

I’m obsessing over the perfect white and gold watch in Jillian’s picks.


annual review
September 20th, 2011     |    Business AdviceLifeThink About It

Yesterday Mr. Lively had his first annual review at his current job. And I also had a review of sorts, with the launch of Quincy and Belmont.

As we talked about the very positive outcomes from both reviews, we were slightly amazed. Given how challenging our jobs have been in the past year, it is almost baffling to think that among dozens of hardships, setbacks, and delays, we were able to come out of the year with glowing feedback.

For me personally, thinking about how freaking hard it was to get Quincy and Belmont to launch day, I almost feel like the buzz and support I’ve gratefully received seems undeserved. I mean, I was far from perfect during this process. I’ve written a fair amount the past few months about . the . challenges I’ve been working through in my head. And I’ve felt a fair deal of anxiety and frustration.

And despite all of the problems, mistakes, and worry, the ultimate outcome is fantastic.

To go through so much crap and then find such glowing reviews confuses my brain.

Because you see, as Mr. Lively and I have been re-reading one of my favorite books, The Pursuit of Perfect (found on the MML bookshelf), I’ve noticed that some of my latent perfectionist tendencies have been resurfacing this year.

I’ve been believing, deep down, that in order to “really” be able to enjoy success, I need to have been perfect the whole way through the process. I need to have handled every situation and issue that came up along the way perfectly in order to truly deserve a great launch.

The reality of getting these products developed included imperfections, anger, joy, breakthroughs, and tears (both good and bad). How can the outcome be good if there was so much stress throughout the journey?

Because a happy life, or a successful business, does not require perfection.

I need to relearn that I do not need to expect an uninterrupted stream of positive emotions or outcomes to be happy overall. I set myself up for failure when I have that expectation because it is impossible. It also numbs me from positive feedback. I can’t really believe the positive comments people say too much because I still have been holding on to the negative feelings and reactions I’ve had in the past during the process.

It’s like I finished a marathon and instead of being thankful that I finished and pushed through the tough parts, I’m focusing on the times during the race where I walked, slowed down, or deviated from my perfect pace. I’m not allowing a positive response to the race because there were setbacks along the way.

So now it’s my job to work through these limiting beliefs and let go of the dead weight in my mind to free myself up to fully feel the happiness of what I’ve accomplished.


the quincy and belmont lookbooks
September 19th, 2011     |    Life

Thank you so much for the amazing feedback from the initial launch of Quincy and Belmont! I am thrilled to hear how many of you love the styles and colors we designed. And from the initial sales, it’s clear that gold and fuchsia is a big winner (not that we are surprised).

It’s also funny to hear how many people have been on the fence about buying an iPad. I know that my own decision to buy one was driven in large part by the case I’d be using. Which as you know, became the catalyst for designing one for Jess LC that had all the bells and whistles that I wanted – protection, leather, brass zipper, pockets, and gorgeous lining. And though it may not be the best buy for everyone, I have loved having mine and use it daily. I use mine to sketch ideas with my stylus, take notes, read The New York Times, do short yoga videos in the morning, play Words with Friends, and it makes one heck of a blog reader. So while I definitely don’t recommend buying one if the finances aren’t right, I do think it is worth the money for me personally.

Now, on to the lookbooks. I honestly don’t even want to share them until I give proper credit where credit is due, so without further ado,

Danielle Moss – Photographer

Blog – Breakfast at Toast
Site – Danielle Moss
Twitter –@DanielleMoss_

Danielle shot all of the incredible photos for the Belmont and Quincy lookbooks and I couldn’t be more blown away. She captured the essence of what we were doing in the blink of an eye, works extremely hard, and is so reliable. I cannot recommend her enough for people in need of a photographer.

It was a pleasure having her as a photographer for Jess LC and I feel honored to have her as a friend as well. Her hard work with her blog, photography, and booming blog design business make her a great person to follow online as well.

Alaina Kaczmarski – Stylist and Model

Blog – Live Creating Yourself
Site – LYC Graphics, LYC Shop
Twitter – @AlainaKaz

When I first started thinking about these lookbooks I knew that the products lent themselves to a variety of shots and, unlike jewelry, could be shot in vignettes as well as on models. Which is tricky for me. And I knew that having Alaina on board to style the shoot was going to make everything look 100% better.

I was right.

Alaina has an eye for style of all kinds, fashion, product, home, you name it. And since we were dealing with those types of locations for Quincy and Belmont, I wanted her to take the lead when it came to laying out the shots and getting everything placed just right. Heck, she even styled the images above (I saw how well she put them together for her post and begged her to let me use her “styled” photo layout as well). What was even cooler was being able to actually have her model in the shoot as well. As a friend of Alaina, I knew her beauty and amazing laugh would shine in the lookbook. (And I was right again.)

Liz Schnider – Model

Blog – Sequins & Stripes

Twitter – @LizSchneider01

Liz, I am happy to say, is a new friend. I met her via Alaina’s blog design for her awesome style blog, Sequins & Stripes. I started to follow immediately and was hooked to her editorial perspective. I am not personally the best when it comes to clothing and outfits, but this girl knows how to make a freaking adorable outfit. So I started to literally study how she does it. And then it occurred to me to have her model along with Alaina to keep the lookbooks varied and interactive.

I have to say, I pat myself on the back for that decision, because Liz rocked it out of the park with her adorable giggles, smile, and fun attitude. She seems made for this stuff. And I’m excited to see where her fantastic blog takes her from here.

(And again, I’m thrilled to have her as a friend now, too.)


To view the lookbooks in their full size, expand the images below.


Thank you Refinery29!

I’d also like to thank Refinery29 Chicago for featuring the iPad cases this afternoon. I love their headline, “New iPad Cases You Won’t Be Embarrassed To Carry.”













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