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this week i’m thankful for
August 31st, 2012     |    Life

What a week!

I can definitely say that things are back in full swing – perhaps a fuller swing than ever. It’s been a challenge to juggle everything. We shot a new lookbook for Jess LC, I trained Stacia (the newest member of Jess LC), Mr. Lively and I sold our couch and ordered a few of the pieces for the new apartment, I consulted with some awesome business owners, and I continued to share here on the blog.

But despite all the challenges and lack of sleep, I’m thankful.

I’m also so very excited for a camping trip starting this evening. It will be nice to relax and step away from the madness.

We are one month out from the big move to the new apartment. As the boxes of items for the new place and Jess LC inventory continue to grow at a seemingly exponential pace, I am yearning for that extra square footage and storage. Until then our apartment looks way more like crazy town than past apartment tours. That’s for sure.

Thanks so much for reading!


Have a great Labor Day weekend,

[sponsor] lusso bags interview + discount
August 30th, 2012     |    Life


Below, Nicole Lombardo shares her insights from starting her successful and socially conscious company, Lusso Bags.

Not only does the company design great products, but they also do so with a social enterprise nature: they donate 5% to help women avoid or leave the sex trade. Read on to find out more about Lusso and Nicole’s story (secret: there is a discount at the end, too!). 


What inspired you start to start your business?

I started my business after having a 15 minute conversation with my cousin. She had just returned from India and had met with a company called Freeset. During one of the meetings, a woman expressed to my cousin and the other visitors to send more business their way so that they could continue to help more survivors of human trafficking. Freeset hires the women for fair wages, teaches them to sew, offers health and child care benefits and they teach them simple writing and math skills. I decided then and there to send over a simple pattern for a shoe bag and Lusso Bags began.

As you have grown your company, has your vision for it evolved or changed?

Originally I was creating patterns for shoe and travel bags and trying to grow my business the conventional way with sales reps and trade shows. After 1 year, I had this deep rooted feeling that I needed to get back to the original mission of helping the women in India. After a short call with Jess I decided to downsize, sell online and only use the survivors in India to sew my bags. This way I can focus on designing cute bags and raise awareness for the fight against human trafficking.

Are there any new products coming out that you are excited to share? 

Yes! We just received our new totes and cosmetic bags. Every time I pick up one of the cosmetic bags, I think of the woman who may have sewn that particular bag and I am in awe.

How are you using your business to make a broader impact?

Lusso Bags has teamed up with an organization in India that has a small training school for daughters of widow’s as a prevention program in India. This organization is just in the beginning stages of setting up scholarships for the girls to complete a cosmetology or tailoring program for 1 year.  I am very excited to be partnering with this organization as this will bring hope to many young women that otherwise would be on the streets begging. These young women are beautiful and so talented. On a smaller scale, I have the opportunity to tell every person who asks what I do for a living about human trafficking, the survivors and the prevention programs. For me raising awareness through selling bags has been so fulfilling.

What advice do you have for other product-based business owners out there? 

Hang in there! Having a product-based company is exciting yet sometimes overwhelming. Surround yourself with honest hard working entrepreneurs and have fun!

Special 25% Discount

Lusso Bags is giving JessLively.com readers 25% off! Enter code JESS25 at checkout.


paris in photos
August 30th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding

As requested, I have more photos from the trip. To capture a bit of our experience I thought I’d create a photo collage of the things we saw and did on the trip.

And of course if anyone is considering a trip to Paris, I hope this also can act as a mini guide of sorts.

Near the Pont des Artes there are vendors along the river selling all kinds of mementos. We chose a beautiful gold book of French poems for our coffee table.

Though we did stay near the Louvre during the first part of our trip, we spent our museum time in Musée d’Orsay.

One hot afternoon Mr. Lively spotted several children playing in a fountain.

He decided to join them.

Hotel Crayon is where we spent our first three nights. It was artsy, cozy, and surprisingly affordable.

On our last night the hotel granted us the suite in honor of our wedding… with this bathroom. 

Kim and Scott led the way to the Les Puces flea the morning of our wedding. Simply incredible.

The “honeymoon” portion of our trip was spent at the Champs Elysee Plaza. Though we may not stay in that area on future trips, we loved the hotel and our suite so very much.

While indulging in a break from the French language at an English Pub near our hotel on Wednesday night, we struck up a conversation with the bartender about fish and chips. She insisted that London had much better fish and chips than the Parisian pub.

So on a whim, Mr. Lively booked us tickets on the Euro Star to London the following morning.

It was a one day whirlwind of sightseeing, shopping, and eating some fantastic fish and chips at The Dog and Duck.

In addition to our vows shared during our ceremony, we also had a lock engraved with our names and anniversary before the trip as a symbol of our union.

As is tradition, we put the lock on the Pont des Arts and threw the keys into the Seine.

We intend to re-visit Paris on our five year anniversary to relive our honeymoon and find our lock.

Laduree. The best wedding cake I’ve ever had. (Three days after the wedding.)

Thanks to my consulting client, Leland Prince, I found out about an English speaking cooking class in Paris.

Mr. Lively’s new passion happens to be cooking, so it was a no-brainer that I needed to surprise him with his birthday present towards the end of the trip.

He now openly admits that it was his favorite part of the trip. It even trumped our wedding. (Humph.)


And just so you don’t think the trip was all sunshine and roses (okay, well, a lot of it was actually), I have another “keeping it real” pic for ya.

When wedding cake tastes this good, you ignore the cameras.



Hey guys! It’s Caitlin from Reverie to Reality, and while I normally bring you guys a Design Your Life interview on Wednesdays, we’re changing things up a little this week.

A few days ago I was reflecting on the summer with Jess, and how much has happened since June. A few examples? She and Scott eloped to Paris (!!), and I decided to move to Chicago and started offering interior decorating services. I know. Things have been busy around here.  Jess asked if I would consider sharing my story with you guys about how this new development in my life came about, and I (obviously) agreed without hesitation.

Offering interior decorating services was something I had thought about for a long time, but always had an excuse for why it wouldn’t work. Either I didn’t have the time, the resources, the expertise…you name it. When money stresses would get to me because my part-time job in Cincinnati wasn’t enough to live off of after I paid my bills, my friends and family constantly suggested that I put my passion and talents to good use and start offering decorating services. I would immediately brush off the idea, for fear that I would look silly and fail.

Months later, I received my AT&T bill in the mail and realized that I couldn’t afford to pay it. A couple of hours later, I wrote a post on my blog announcing that I was now offering design services. Just like that. It was an impulsive decision, yet one that I had been wrestling with and contemplating for months. The doubts and concerns I had were all still very present, but the reality of my financial situation took charge and allowed me to stop dwelling on them. That was almost three months ago now, and I haven’t looked back.

I used to think that if you wanted to make a change or take a leap of faith in your life, that you needed to have all the details squared away. What I’ve realized is that the point of taking a leap of faith is that you aren’t sure how it’s going to work, but you move forward anyway. Suddenly, I’m living out a dream that I’ve had for years, and all it took to get there was a blog post and a phone bill.



Tomorrow on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing something I’ve done very recently in my career: how to brand across multiple businesses. This has been an interesting journey for me across Jess LC (my shop), Business with Intention (my business consulting), and Makeunder My Life (my blog, now named JessLively.com).

Along the way I’ve learned a few tricks and tips which I’m excited to share. It can even apply to bloggers who want to have multiple sites as well.

If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming Workshops and other BWI updates.

(If you have signed up for the BWI newsletter, you will automatically get this series.)



Business in the City (Chicago) is happening tomorrow night! The details about the free business meet-up are here. Same time and place as usual, 6:30-8:00 at Next Door, 659 W. Diversey. Next Door asks that you RSVP on their site if you plan on coming.

We will also be meeting up on September 12th as well for those who want to mark their calendars!


our wedding
August 27th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding

I cannot being to tell you how much joy it has brought me to share our rather unconventional wedding with you. And as many have requested, I have a few more photos to share from the rest of our wedding day. These are purely the pretty shots that help depict how awe inspiring Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg truly is.

Also, for those who may want to look back on our process of eloping and designing our wedding with intention here’s what I’ve shared:

The Luckiest Man on Earth

We Eloped to Paris

Why We Eloped 

Designing Our Wedding with Intention

What I’m Wearing on My Wedding Day

I’m Back

Our Wedding Ceremony

Overall, I can also say that our decision to elope was a bit scary at first. I knew it was right for our life intentions and finances, but to do something so drastically different than what friends and family expected us to do… was hard at first. I also feared that the ceremony itself would feel less special than a traditional wedding with guests. I worried (just a little bit) that I would go through it all and wish I had a regular wedding instead.

But all of those hang-ups melted away as we actually went forward with our plans. I am so, so thankful that our wedding came together so beautifully and also has left us in such a wonderful position for the rest of our intentions as a new family going forward.

So for anyone else out there thinking about a wedding, I cannot urge you enough to truly begin with the end in mind, determine your intentions, think about what is most important to you and your lover and go forward fearlessly! A huge, bustling wedding or an intimate moment in a quiet spot in a public garden are just a few of the many awesome options out there.

And now it’s time to share the pretty!

Thanks so much for following along on our wedding journey. I hope that our story will help others getting married consider all the amazing ways that weddings can be designed with the intentions of the couple in mind.

this week i’m thankful for
August 24th, 2012     |    Life

This week I’m thankful for… Paris.

Though I’ll share regular pictures and a little bit about what we did while we were on our honeymoon next week, these pictures do a great job showing a few of the little moments that are so special to me.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this trip is that as we’ve returned back to our daily lives here in Chicago, the beauty of the trip seeps deeper into my memory and becomes even sweeter. I’m so grateful to have had such a special experience that keeps getting better with time.

Thank you so much for reading this week, it really is a joy to share with you.


I hope you have a great weekend,



happy birthday to the mister
August 23rd, 2012     |    Life

You’re someone special. You know that, right?

last day of the Jess LC sale
August 23rd, 2012     |    Life

Today is the last day of our 15% off shop-wide sale over at Jess LC. Details here


our wedding ceremony
August 23rd, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding

When we eloped in Paris, we decided to craft our own wedding ceremony. Mr. Lively is not partial to any religion and though I adore teachings from many religions, I identify as spiritual myself. But let’s be honest, since I was part of the equation I made sure there was a hefty dose of intention in there, too.

Beforehand, I was honestly a bit worried about how “special” our ceremony would feel to me since we were doing it in a public, but secluded, part of Paris. I really hoped that I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on the specialness of the ceremony by not doing a traditional wedding with guests, singers, and music.

Thankfully, the ceremony was a huge success. Exactly the right fit for us.

When we landed in Paris we had no idea where we were going to have the ceremony. So right after landing in France, we chose the location the day before the wedding with our friends Kim (our photographer) and Scott (our officiant).

We knew we wanted it to be in a beautiful and semi-private space the following day. Hopefully in a garden. After trekking around the city taking in the breathtaking buildings, the gardens of Notre Dame, Jardins des Plantes, and a few other spots, we found the place. Once we walked into le Jardin du Luxembourg, we were sold.

We then walked around the garden to find the perfect ceremony spot and discovered that behind a bee house, there was a quiet curve in the far corner of the garden. Our spot.

The following day, our wedding day, Mr. Lively and Scott drove arrived early in a taxi to our location and stood ready for Kim and I to arrive.

When Kim and I got there, I dashed out of the taxi to avoid being seen prematurely. Kim then set herself up to shoot the wedding and I then walked into the garden to meet them all.

Once the ceremony began, Scott started off with a short introduction of the ceremony. Then, he read messages from our parents.

Because we had not read the messages beforehand, I was shocked to find out that my parents had sent along with their message two dozen photos of me as a child I had never seen before. The emotion from looking back to discover new things about my own life was an emotional tidal wave.

And Mr. Lively’s parents also shared personal insights from their marriage and gave us wisdom on what it means to be married.

At that point, Scott talked about his own insights from his marriage to Kim, and what things we have to look forward to as a married couple.

Next, Mr. Lively and I took turns reading our Marriage Vows we had created together. These vows serve as the foundation of our marriage and family going forward (more on that later).

After that, we each shared our own individual vows to one another. This is where I chose to work in my own personal spiritual beliefs about our marriage and where Mr. Lively discussed our future life and home that we will build together.

Once the vow exchange was over, we placed our wedding bands on our fingers and kissed.

All the way through the ceremony I kept thinking to myself, this is so perfect. Exactly as it’s supposed to be. And though the ceremony was not very long, time stood still for me. So for anyone else who is considering elopement and might fear, like I did, that the ceremony might be a bit of a let down compared to a wedding, please know that I did not feel that way at all. Because we had such personal connection to what was shared during the ceremony, it was exactly as we wanted it to be. It felt right.

And for those who’d like the short, visual version of our ceremony, here you go!

We laughed.

I cried.

Then our officiant, Scott, cried too.

As Mr. Lively says, I finally put a ring on it.

And we kissed.

So many thanks go out to our dear friends Kim and Scott for travelling, shooting, and officiating our wedding across the globe. They did a fantastic job, we couldn’t have picked a more perfect duo to travel and get married with.

I’d also like to thank our parents for sending such wonderful messages for us to read while we made such a meaningful commitment. Their words made our day more special than I could have imagined.

There will be more pictures to come from the rest of the wedding soon!


All photos by Kim of Yellow Brick Home


Reaching out to Carly of A Simple Affair for a Design Your Life Interview this week was a no-brainer. Aside from being one of the sweetest people I’ve ever “met”, she’s also so accomplished and inspiring, yet completely relatable at the same time. She recently got back from touring Japan for 3 weeks with Trinity Irish Dance (I know), manages her amazing lifestyle blog, and looks incredible while doing all of it. Seriously. I’m waiting for her to move to Chicago so she can style me and revamp my closet. I loved reading her intentions this week, and I know you’re going to feel the same. Thanks for sharing Carly! See you all again next week. –Caitlin

I am a worrier. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, and honestly, worrying can get really exhausting.  I want to strive to live more in the present and focus on what is right in front of me.  I need to be the best me and not worry about what I cannot control in the upcoming weeks and months.  I need to actively engage in conversations instead of multitasking 24/7. While at times I pride myself on these multitasking abilities, it’s not fair to my boyfriend, friends and family {note to self: ignore phone past a certain time at night and figure out this time ASAP and act upon it}. 

I am currently in the middle of some major life exploring. Daunting, scary, exciting…just a few adjectives to describe the process.  While I just graduated with one major, I want to pursue a different industry before I never do and wonder, ‘What if?’  Not only do I want to explore a new career, but I am also exploring new cities.  I have always lived in Wisconsin and been extremely close with my family but I am realizing that now is the time to explore something new and make it my own city. Ah!

There a lot of aspects of my life right now that need to be reorganized {and decluttered…that’s a whole different area though but most certainly needs to happen}. I also think I need to sit down and make a list of everything I have going on in my life and figure out what the most important pieces are to my puzzle and what pieces make me the happiest so I can create more of a balance between work and play. If I am having a stressful day, I can come back to this list to refocus and think big picture.

Both mentally and physically. I often think of this one in just the physical sense of eating right and working out.  Both are things I want to get back into a routine with, but I also need to make more ‘me’ time and reflect, whether it be about the day in general or a specific phone call. My days get so busy that I often forget to have a moment with myself, and it is most certainly nothing that gets put on my lengthy to do lists, but maybe it should be? That would take some time to get used to.

You can only be ‘good’ for so long whether it be with eating well or a spending freeze {or so many other things but these are areas I have worked on}. Sometimes you just earn a bowl and/or pint of ice cream or those shoes you’ve been dreaming about that will make you feel extra confident the next time you march around in them.  Or after a long week, all you can think about is a mani/pedi with your mom or best friend.  I think we absolutely deserve little rewards for achieving a personal goal.  We all may have our different ways of indulging, but I firmly believe you should indulge every once in awhile and embrace life’s victories. Well, that’s what I intend to do.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.













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