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my december intentions

November 30th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

For the past two days I have been a bit MIA here on MML due to a migraine. In fact, over the past few weeks I also feel like I’ve been a bit less “me” on MML. And I am deeply sorry for this.

As I have mentioned, I am in the process of switching contractors for our bags in Chicago and the new level of business quite honestly overwhelms me and I have felt uncharacteristically timid about the process. I’m in deeper waters than ever before and when I feel the worries and doubts creep in, I tend to hunker down. I close myself off from friends, new opportunities, and I have less energy to pour into MML. This is hard stuff. I don’t have the answers and my faith is being stretched to a new level.

But you know what helps? Knowing that I can do hard things.

That helps, and the fact that the new steps I take with Jess LC increase my experience and advice for my Business with Intention clients. In fact, the Business with Intention client consults I have have had in November have been the highlight of my work life this month.

So today I’m drawing from my excitement in the consulting to help myself get out of my stress rut and get back in the saddle here on MML.

Though I haven’t shared my personal intentions much at all this year (except for a million that I created over the summer which resulted in a huge burnout), I am slowly getting back in the swing of things by sharing two meaningful and attainable intentions I am making for December.

As usual, my intentions are general, but the way that I then use them to design my life and time this month are specific.

This holiday season will be the second I have spent with Mr. Lively. Last year we began dating in late November, just before Thanksgiving. So we did a few couple holiday things together, but nothing too major. Which makes me excited to further develop our own traditions this year.

As you can see above, Mr. Lively helped me last night with the preparation of our stockings. I planned at first to buy them at Home Goods, but the selection was disappointing. So instead of buying, we are creating our stockings out of an Anthropologie table cloth that I have had for several years that has no great use due to it’s awkward size. Since I don’t have a sewing machine, I am doing them by hand. Which is turning out to be a relaxing project to do while watching tv or listening to Christmas music.

I am also going to prepare a “Christmas Day” for Mr. Lively as well. “Christmas Day” was established last year as a day other than December 25th, in which I devised a full day’s worth of activities that Mr. Lively would like. On “Christmas Day” it’s all about him (and don’t worry about me, I have “Valentine’s Day”). Last year we went to the Bongo Room for brunch, visited the Science and Industry Museum, strolled through the Lincoln Park Conservatory and checked out their train exhibit, ate treats at Molly’s Cupcakes, and watched Garden State while drinking a Belgian Triple. This year I am going to have to think up a new itinerary (but I can’t share it right now as Mr. Lively may be reading this).

Our other main tradition that we’d like to make is getting a Christmas tree! I have not had a real Christmas tree since I was a little kid and I’m very excited for Mr. Lively to take me out tonight and pick one out. As you can imagine, I have already been pre-decorating it in my head. My intention is to do large and small white lights, tinsel, and my childhood ornaments my mom has given me. I’ll be sure to share it here on MML once it’s complete.

Beyond these traditions, Susie, Melissa, Mr. Lively and I will be having a Jess LC holiday party, too. Wine, carbs, sugar, and The Nightmare Before Christmas may be in the cards.

Beyond the Christmas traditions I am also looking to add more reading and reflecting into my schedule. To be honest I have slipped a little on my Email Intervention. Though I still don’t check emails on nights/weekends 99% of the time, I have gotten into the habit of checking my email within about 15 minutes of waking up on weekdays.

I have noticed that this habit has at times increased my anxiety a bit in the mornings as my mind focuses on the tasks at hand for Jess LC while I get dressed or eat breakfast. So instead of checking my email first thing, my intention is to pick up a book. By nature, I tend to read spiritual books or other positive non-fiction. And reading these books in the morning help me set my mind on positive things that I can do daily to be my best self.

I also intend to take time to reflect on my little couch in my bedroom in the morning. I find that I tend to take a lot of blessings in my life for granted when I don’t take the time to sit down and focus my attention on being calm and peaceful. So my intention is to focus as early on in the day as possible on gratitude.

 
So how about you? Any December intentions in mind?

michelle’s formula to overcome fears

November 29th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

Yesterday Michelle from When I Grow Up wrote about how she overcame her fears while pursuing her life coaching business. and I think the formula she came up with is brilliant.

We can all remember these attributes as we face the worries (aka Vampires) that surface when breaking out of our norm to fulfill our deeper intentions.

diy ornaments

November 28th, 2011   |   LifeStyle

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! I had a great time over the long weekend in St. Louis with Mr. Lively and his extended family. Sleeping in, eating well, and recharging was delightful (and much needed). But now that I’m back, I am turning my attention towards decorating my apartment for the holidays.

My first order of business was to make these DIY ornaments inspired by Pugly Pixel’s sequin globes. They were simple to make and were a great craft to make while watching Modern Family.

To see pictures of the process, see Pugly Pixel’s tutorial. But here’s the list of materials:

  • Styrofoam balls(assorted sizes to your liking, mine are 3″ and 4″)
  • Sequins in whatever colors you want (I went for gold, of course)
  • Solid head steel pins (I found mine in gold in the knitting/sewing aisle)
  • Beads and seed beads (I had mine leftover from old Jess LC collections)

Though I haven’t made them to attach to a tree, I think they could be great baubles on a tray or tablescape.

They could also make great gifts as well!

maggie’s dream report: week twenty-five

November 25th, 2011   |   Life

Thankful

I briefly thought about writing a post on Black Friday, which gets its name from the stores finally making enough sales to consider themselves “in the black” for the year. But selling a service is a little different from retail, which doesn’t make me the best expert on that subject. Instead I’ll focus on yesterday, the American Thanksgiving, and what I’m giving thanks for this year, especially since leaving my job almost six months ago.

1. Support, particularly from my sweet partner Ryan. We’re the best team and he really believes that I can make it work and be successful. We’ve been together almost six years and I know I wouldn’t have had the guts to take this leap without his unflagging support. He may not know much about pillows or furniture or mixing patterns, but he’s the best thing to happen to Maggie Rose Interiors.

2. My health. I had been to the doctor several times with scary symptoms that ended up being chalked up to stress. Since leaving my job, my health has improved dramatically, even though I still get tension headaches every now and then. But since my worry is about the work that I love, it’s worth it. And until I can afford some real health insurance, let’s hope I continue to be healthy! Yay vitamins!

3. Word of mouth. I’m so touched by all the people who I know in real life or only on the internet who have recommended me to a friend. Whether it’s forwarding my blog on to someone they know or bringing me up to a friend who needs decorating help, it all helps my business. Referrals are the best source of new clients and I love to hear that someone I know or have worked with has recommended me. I’m endless grateful to those of you who may have done so.

4. Time to focus on what I love. This is huge. I know all you Midnight Hustlers know what I’m talking about. I’m still learning how to harness this extra time to work most efficiently, but I can’t be more thankful to have that problem!

5. My readers and clients. Including YOU! I still pinch myself that everyday, people come to my blog (or to this column) and read what I have to say. And bonus – some people PAY me to play with fabric and pick colors and shop for furniture and make their homes pretty! When it comes down to it, this is the most awesome job ever and I hope I am always aware of how lucky I am to be doing work that I love.

6. The people I’ve met. Something I didn’t expect when I started blogging was how many of these awesome people I would eventually meet in person. And since launching the business full-time, more people have heard about me and want to meet, and I actually have the flexibility to do so! Having coffee or a martini with another entrepreneur or design-lover is endless inspiring to me and one of my favorite parts of my new life.

Thank you all for continuing to read my Dream Reports each week. I’m grateful for each one of you and for what the future has in store for you (hint: AMAZING things!).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maggie Morgan is an interior decorator in Seattle. Visit her website to see her work and read her blog, Maggie Rose.

i am thankful

November 24th, 2011   |   Life

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am spending the next few days in St. Louis with Mr. Lively and his extended family. In honor of this is a day of gratitude, I’ve decided to share the little things that I’d like to keep in mind on a more daily basis. Big things are easy to appreciate, but the small things can get lost in the shuffle.

My intention is to keep gratitude for the large and small blessings at a forefront in the year to come.

I am thankful for…

Mr. Lively’s wit.

My cute bookshelves.

My building’s indoor gym (hello, Chicago winter).

Working from home.

Susie and Melissa’s help, humor, music, and YouTube videos.

Oatmeal with cocoa powder and raisins.

Gumballhead Beer by Three Floyd’s Brewery.

My black polka dot blouse.

My hot pink shaving cream can.

My upcoming visit to friends and family over Christmas.

The client emails I get after consulting with them.

 

And your comments each and every day here on MML. Your support of MML is a huge deal in my mind, not a small one. So I also want to mention it here. Today.

Thank you.

new iPad case color combo?

November 23rd, 2011   |   Life

As I get ready to run a new order of iPad cases, I realized yesterday that I have the option of running the color combinations as usual, or add a new option and drop an old option.

And I would love your help to decide what to do.

Right now our gold/fuchsia, cocoa/coral, gray/canary, and eggplant/fuchsia options are incredibly popular and are selling at about the same pace. But the gold/graphite combo happens to sell a bit slower than the rest. So… I’m considering the option to swap out the gray lining in the gold/graphite case for aqua lining instead.

You can get an idea for what it would look like with my little photoshopped image above. And below, you can see the lining options in more detail.

Which would you order? The gold/graphite or gold/aqua?

 

recommended collaborators

November 22nd, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

Since this week is centered on things we are thankful for, I would like to say thank you to the behind the scenes businesses who have helped Jess LC. A business is rarely as successful all by itself, it usually takes a team of professionals to lay the pretty on.

Though this list is not exhaustive by any means, it is a thank you to the graphic designers, web designers, and photographers who have helped me take Jess LC to the next level.

My hope is that those who are in the market for any of these skills for their own business will consider these wonderful people on their short list.

Herdah Warner, Herdah Design

Stef, Sonic Stef Design

Claudia, Fig2Design Studio

Alaina Kaczmarksi, LCY Gaphics

Danielle Moss, Danielle Moss

Website

Meghan Radke, Meghan Radke

Blog

Brooke, Oh Brooke (WordPress.org)

Alaina Kaczmarksi, LCY Gaphics (Blogger)

Danielle Moss, Danielle Moss (Blogger)

David Tuman, David Tuman Photography, (CA)

Danielle Moss, Danielle Moss (IL)

Kelly Stonelake, Kelly Stonelake Photography  (CA)

Jon Hamblin, Jon Hamblin (IL)

Bryan and Kendi Skeen, Photographers Skeen (TX)

business as unusual

November 21st, 2011   |   Life

If you’ve been following MML for any measure of time, you have seen Jess LC undergo a bunch of new changes in 2011. In January, I had the bolt of inspiration that led to growing Jess LC from a jewelry company to a lifestyle brand. It has been a string of challenges, one after another (and sometimes multiple challenges at once).

In the summer I almost had a break down.

In the process, I figured stuff out as I went and learned to create new products and work with contractors, business owners, and tanneries in Italy. Some things have been really easy, some things have been a challenge, and some have been nearly impossible. I had to drop a style I really wanted to launch, I had leather that was defective and caused a color story redesign, and I had a custom leather job get totally messed up.

That said, there was also some amazing high points like the popularity of our Lake Shore and Quincy collections. I am thankful that these new collections are so loved, as they are a personal favorite as well.

In fact, these new bags styles have been selling so well that the small batch orders we were placing were quickly pre-selling out before they even arrived. Due to the limited capacity at our first Chicago manufacturer, we have decided to find larger production in a new facility right here in Chicago.

The thing is, rather than ordering 10’s at a time of each style, we are now working with minimums of 200 units. 200 UNITS! It is hard to imagine, even as I type this post. I know that this is the best move for us, but at the same time, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. The sheer amount of material and labor that this new scale of production will require is at an unprecedented level. I am in unfamiliar waters in a field I’m still new to. I’ve managed to go from big-ish fish in a small pond to a tiny minnow in a large ocean.

But knowing how much better these new inventory levels will be for our customers (less delays or quick sell outs), I’m forging ahead despite the fear. I don’t have any guarantee that this will work out, but I am taking the steps any ways.

It feels kind of like walking in a straight line in a completely dark room, hoping that I am going the right direction. And I’m hoping that I don’t hurt myself in the process.

So with this in mind, I think this is a great time to fill in those interested in ordering Jess LC items during the holiday season. Because of the manufacturing transition, we are restructuring a few of our collections and some designs will no longer be available once remaining inventory sells out.

Quincy Collection – iPad 2 Cases and Coin Purses

The iPad 2 cases will continue to be carried. Our inventory of cases is limited right now (so order quickly for the holidays), but we will be restocking once our first order is completed by the new facility. We don’t have a specific due date thus far, but I expect it to be ready in January. I will keep everyone updated on this, and once we have a clearer idea of the turnaround time, I will open up pre-orders for any sold color combinations at that point.

The coin purses we have are no longer going to be carried forward with the new production. The inventory we have left is all that there will be. So snatch up these puppies quickly if you have your eye on one!

Lake Shore Collection – Handbags

Because of the large minimum orders we have now, we are not planning on carrying these styles into 2012. We will be releasing new bag styles this winter and spring however, so stay tuned!

And at the moment we do have a limited number of natural colored Lake Shore bags (the navy stock is sold out).

Jewelry, Scarves, and Stationery

These products and collections are still going to be available as usual. Our next batch of Webster Cheers and Merci cards will ship out to customers early next week and pre-orders are available now.

Our Classic jewelry is still available as usual. The Diversey, Franklin, and Division collections are selling out quickly and are still slated to retire when they are gone (as mentioned before, the costs of these collections have tripled, and we are therefore retiring them, rather than hiking up the prices).

And last but not least, our limited edition Belmont scarves are still available. But as styles sell out they will be retired as well.

What’s Coming Up in 2012

Looking ahead into next year I am busy planning several spring collections that are bright, bold, fun, and very Jess LC. I’m excited to share them with you as we go! But for now, I will just say that we are continuing to release new bag styles, jewelry, scarves, and stationery. And who knows, there may be some surprises in there as well!

maggie’s dream report: week twenty-four

November 18th, 2011   |   Life

Strengths

I spent a week in Chicago and just got back on Tuesday, and yes I got to meet Jess and she is just as charming and friendly in person as you’d expect her to be! We had a lovely time visiting. At coffee, Jess asked about some of my past work experience, namely a job that I had really enjoyed and what about that job was I good at. The job was in fundraising, and at the time I thought I was good at fundraising and that it was the career path for me… with some time and distance I’m able to see that it was the people and work environment that I loved. My best years in that job were spent doing lots of project management, organizing, and training new workers the ropes and how to be successful fundraisers. I didn’t particularly enjoy asking for money, but I loved giving others the confidence to do so.

Jess suggested tapping into my strengths from that job and seeing if those skills are something that can be applied to the business. Teaching others is actually something that I’d been interested in for a while, and we brainstormed some pretty awesome related marketing concepts that combine my passion for design with that strength gained from my old job.

Since I’ve been home I’ve been thinking about how to practically apply our ideas and how to recreate that process with other strengths I have. I had a few friends that are also entrepreneurs that have had a few great opportunities come by recently, a few of which I had a small role in helping happen. My strength in those situations was connecting people. I’m no social butterfly, but I do cherish building strong connections with like-minded people and I LOVE to share my friends stories and talk them up to people. Why is it that I’m eager to do that for others but am shy about doing the same thing for my own work?

I’m also a strong writer, and yet I haven’t fully utilized that skill for my blog or in pitching story ideas to local newspapers and magazines. This is a strength that I spent quite a bit of money on developing (hello, student loans!) so I really should be putting them to work! It’s too easy to think “oh it’s just a blog post, no one is REALLY going to read it” and churn out a sloppy post. When actually, I could be posting better articles less frequently and I’m sure it would help my readership, not hinder it as I’ve feared.

Other strengths I can think of I’ve already been tapping into as a decorator. Beyond having a natural eye for design and color, I’m a great listener. Listening to and hearing a client is crucial to the success of a design. I also have a strong sense for attention to detail, and I believe that helps me bring special touches to a client’s home.

It was also helpful for me to reflect on my favorite work environments. I work best with medium to small groups or one-on-one projects. I don’t do well in groups larger than 15 people because I tend to let someone more outgoing take the lead. I do like taking a leadership position on group projects because I want things to be organized my way. I love to have someone to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with. I’m easily distracted in large groups and get most of my best work done when I have alone time after a great discussion.

As much as I don’t like to think of “those days” when I worked in an office, analyzing my work history and where I excelled and where I faltered has really given me a better sense of how I can grow as an entrepreneur. Skills that I’m already using have helped get me to where I am, and I’m excited to think of new ways to utilize my other strengths and turn them into new and exciting opportunities for my business. And they aren’t skills that you’d think of automatically as helpful to an entrepreneur – but some of my more abstract strengths hold the most possibility.

What are some skills that you have in your current or past jobs that you could use as an entrepreneur? Think outside the box (beyond “I’m good with numbers”) and more abstract. Maybe you loved planning the office parties or out of organizing a file system. Maybe you got a thrill out of surprising the receptionist with flowers to say “thanks” or maybe you really liked keeping time during a meeting to keep with the agenda. How can you apply that in a fresh and creative way to your business?

Health with Intention: Foods You’re Just Not That Into [Exercise]

You know how sometimes you “forget” that you don’t really like a food when you’re hungry? Or when that food is right in front of you? I’ve found that a lot of people (myself included) don’t really know which foods they’re just not that into. I’m going to tell you about an exercise that will help you figure out which foods you don’t really enjoy.

First, start by making a list of foods you HATE. You know the ones I mean — foods you wouldn’t eat even if someone paid you. Those are the easy ones because you’ve probably disliked them all your life. There are only a few foods like that on my list (Brussels sprouts is the main one).

Then, move on to foods you just don’t really enjoy. You can tolerate them, but after you eat them, you don’t think, “Wow, I’m SO glad I ate that.” It’s more like, “Meh, that was just okay.” Often, those foods aren’t really worth eating! This is the difficult part of the exercise, but if you’re like me, you’ll find that once you get going, it becomes easy. Just think of any food you’ve eaten in the past week that wasn’t very satisfying and didn’t give you much pleasure. It’s okay if you can’t think of many, but make it a point to pay attention in the future. While you’re eating a food you know you don’t absolutely adore, ask yourself if this food falls into the “SO Glad I Ate That” category or the “Disappointing” category.

To inspire you, I’m going to share a portion of my “foods I’m just not that into” list with you.

  •     pretty much all candy except Almond Joy
  •     bottled juice
  •     Brussels sprouts
  •     doughnuts (except fresh ones from a cider mill)
  •     chicken wings
  •     grilled chicken breast (with rare exceptions)
  •     popcorn
  •     anything with lavender
  •     most things with heavy rosemary flavor
  •     hot dogs
  •     sourdough bread
  •     crusty bread
  •     pasta not made fresh
  •     store-bought cookies and cake
  •     plain ice cream (no chunks of stuff in it)
  •     canned soup
  •     pita bread (unless baked fresh at a Middle Eastern place)
  •     dried figs
  •     flour tortillas
  •     dried fruit, for the most part
  •     protein bars

You get the idea. It’s okay to make exceptions on your list, too. Like with pita bread, I don’t like the packaged stuff, but fresh bread from a Middle Eastern restaurant is delicious. Notice there aren’t many veggies or fruits on this list. I’m guessing that’s because I can always think of a preparation where I genuinely love any given veggie or fruit. For example, I don’t love asparagus, but roasted asparagus with olive oil and balsamic vinegar is amazing. There’s a lot of processed food on my list because I often have to remind myself that it doesn’t taste as good as I think it does.

And this isn’t to say I don’t enjoy these foods ever, it’s just that I don’t enjoy them enough to justify eating them, and don’t need to eat them except under extenuating circumstances (like if there aren’t any other options in the moment or in the foreseeable future) or really unique preparations (Brussels sprouts in an amazing casserole of other things I like, for example).

Your list shouldn’t make you feel restricted or limited, either. You can always change your mind. The point of the list is to act as a reminder to you that you can and should enjoy what you eat most of the time. It should remind you to pursue foods you TRULY love and skip the ones you’re just “meh” about. Most of us are blessed with a plethora of food options every day, so let’s take advantage of that. Even if I’m super hungry, I try not to eat foods I just don’t like that much. Let me tell you right now: it’s okay to be hungry for an hour or two! In this country, hunger is rarely an emergency. So if you’re faced with a choice between eating something you’re just not that into or waiting an hour or two until you have access to different food, try waiting next time.

After you master the “foods you’re just not that into” list, make another list of foods you absolutely adore and are always happy you ate afterward. It’s important to know which foods you’re passionate about to remind yourself that it’s totally worth it to indulge in those foods when you get the opportunity! Be selective and specific with this list. Rather than just writing “cookies,” write something like, “my grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.”

Once you do the exercises, report back! Were your lists surprising in any way? I know mine was. I had no idea I didn’t really like plain ice cream or crusty bread. Did the lists change your eating at all? Since making my “meh” foods list a couple weeks ago, I definitely pay more attention when I come across foods on the list… and I’m much more hesitant to eat them without thinking about it.

… After posting this little phrase I tell myself this morning, I found a post by Seth Godin which explains how almost everything can be worth it.

 

(Also, congratulations to Maddie, Preethi, and Sarah for winning the Craftivore giveaway!)

stop expecting things to be easy

November 16th, 2011   |   Life

… Just a little something I remind myself when things feel really hard.

 

(Image and quote made by Jess Constable)

 


Reach Out

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