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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,
Jess!

[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,

Jess!

 

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.

[sponsor] anne the adventurer

August 22nd, 2012   |   Life

This sponsor post is Anne The Adventurer who is also doing a Jess LC Silver Lining Tote giveaway today. Hop over to her blog to enter to win!

Below, Anne shares why she started her blog, the intention behind it, and her advice for new bloggers.

 

What drew you to blogging?
After I graduated from college in 2010, I was struggling to find a job as a freelance writer, and just happened to stumble over amazing blogs like Makeunder My Life, Kendi Everyday, and Jen Loves Kev. I was so inspired by their zest for life and prowess as young female business owners. I started Anne the Adventurer immediately as a way to document my post-college life and join the blogging community. I’ve loved watching it evolve over the years; it’s an amazing gift in my life.

What is the intention behind your blog, Anne the Adventurer?
I want to build a positive community with my readers where we can inspire and challenge each other to find adventure and purpose in our daily lives. I really believe that the more we share ourselves authentically with one another and reflect on our past to live intentional futures, the more we will be able to positively affect change in the world. And adventure doesn’t have to mean climbing mountains every day, although it sure can! Times where my husband and I cook a new meal together (and try not to mess it up!), or I have a long talk with my mom – those are some of the best adventures and stories in life.

Tell us about your passion for helping women develop positive self-image and value.

For most of my life, I struggled with severe body image issues and an eating disorder. It wasn’t until I started down my own recovery journey that I realized how little I knew (and others in my support system knew) about what eating disorders are, and how serious they can be. Women are still fighting a hard battle in this world for equality and respect, but confidence and health always starts with the self. I want to do my part, whether it’s through writing, blogging or teaching, to help women find healing and a supportive community.

What post has been the most popular with readers?

A post I wrote for the non-profit Wonderfully Made called “Busting the Numbers Myth”. I started thinking about how my obsession with the scale was starting to show up in my obsession with my blogging stats and number of followers. I’d check my social media or blog numbers several times a day as a way to cope with loneliness or a need for a confidence boost, and it just became exhausting. In the article, I reflected on ways that I can do some “myth-busting” when life gets uncomfortable or when I am doubting my self-worth.

When you’re not blogging, what are you most likely doing?

Right now, my husband and I are planning out our goals for our second year of marriage! Also, I have a group of girls that I meet with weekly to hang out, talk, and share life with. They’re all so great!

Any blogging advice?

The best advice I can give is also the hardest to hear and to do, in my opinion. Write, write, and keeping writing. And then write some more. Finding your voice is really challenging, but it is also one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself and to your blog. The blog might not take off as fast as you want it to, but just keep writing and keep posting. You will discover challenges along the way, and those edges will be refined and sharpened with more writing. Also, participate in the blogging community! Be an active participant, not just a passive reader. Comment, email, tweet – get to know your favorite bloggers. It’s an amazing community to be a part of, and it will also help your blog grow!

Read more about Anne and enter her Jess LC Silver Lining Tote giveaway here

 

Tomorrow on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing why I changed the name and url for MakeunderMyLife.com to JessLively.com and gave it a bit of a re-branding at the same time.

A few people have asked about how to choose a name for a company and I’ll be covering that in tomorrow’s email as well. In fact, I’ll also share when I think it could be a good idea to change the name of a company, like I did with MML.

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.)

DESIGN YOUR LOOK 2012: And the winner is…

August 20th, 2012   |   Life

Firstly, thank you all so much for your submissions to Design Your Look 2012. We were beyond impressed with how you each styled your favorite Jess LC items.

We are excited to announce Ashley Rae as the winner of Design Your Look 2012. Congratulations, Ashley! We’ll be sending you an email shortly so you can claim your two Jess LC items of choice and $200 prize.

Thank you all so much again for your participation and support of Jess LC.

-Caitlin and Kiley

i’m back!

August 20th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

 

To try to explain this trip will not be easy. It was delightful, relaxing, and will be forever sentimental for Mr. Lively and I.

As I get back into the swing of things (due to a delightfully productive period of jet lag), I want to share a few photos from the trip. I’ll go over our wedding ceremony and honeymoon in more detail later this week. As many have requested last week, there will be lots of photos!

Here are a few to start…

what i am wearing on my wedding day

August 17th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

 

Now for the fun part, my outfit!

Though our wedding isn’t traditional in many ways, I still wanted a white dress. However, since we are most likely holding the ceremony in a garden or someplace quiet, but public, I didn’t want to attract too much attention with a big gown. Anything that could draw a crowd was out of the question… but I still wanted it to feel special.

Given our tight timeline, I knew ordering a bridal gown was unlikely which made my shopping trips limited and focused. I went to Nordstrom, Bhldn, and J.Crew. I also knew that I wanted to wear flats. So a short dress seemed ideal to not overwhelm my height or attract a crowd.

And again, going for short, white, wedding dress that is off the rack made the search even more specific.

Though I found some nice options at all the places I tried, the one that hit exactly the right feel and fit for me was at J.Crew in their bridesmaids dresses. 

Yep, I’m wearing an ivory bridesmaid dress that I got for $240 with tax. Because I opened up a J.Crew card with all my honeymoon shopping, I snagged some savings on the dress at the same time.

So though the dress is not “inexpensive” for a bridesmaid dress, it is a great bargain for a wedding gown. Especially since it fit off the rack.

The savings on this piece opened up my wedding gift clothing budget for lots of other items I’ll be able to wear on our honeymoon and year-round. Plus, my wedding dress can be worn on our special day and possibly at our friends and family parties, too. It’s a win-win-win.

In fact, the shoes I found ended up costing more than the dress.

Ever since we abandoned the traditional wedding route, I no longer had to consider wedding colors or bridesmaids dresses to match (which would have been coral). So I used the old adage “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” for inspiration.

Because of my short dress, my shoes were an obvious place for me to have some fun with blue. Which apparently Something Bleu agrees with too.

Even the box matched my impromptu wedding color scheme.

As did this lovely pair of flats.

French blue. Flat. With a bow! I mean, common, they were begging to be worn in a Paris elopement ceremony (or any special occasion for that matter).

They are comfy and dressed up enough to add a little something extra to an otherwise pretty simple wedding dress.

And then it was time to add the sparkle.

The rhinestone bracelet and earrings were my late Grandma Constable’s. I am thankful that I’ll also have a piece from my late Grandma Gravette: my engagement stone. So my Grandma’s will be with me through these special pieces.

The pin, which will go on my waist, is from the 1930′s and was bought from a Brooklyn street vendor for $20. The lady vendor had a huge tray of vintage pieces, and this pin seemed more special than any that I had seen in the stores. I adore it’s design and tarnished patina so much. It also fits right in with my Grandmas’ jewelry.

I’ll also be using my Grandma Gravette’s beaded purse. When she passed away in 2004 I inherited a lot of her accessories. This was one of them. Though I’m not sure, I like to think that she might have been married with this purse, too.

For the “something borrowed” part of the equation I’ll be wearing an item my mom sent me to wear which was given to her by her mother (Grandma Gravette) on her wedding day. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I can’t wait to find out.

When it comes to hair and makeup, it cost a pretty penny 200 euros at a local Paris salon to get my hair done on a Sunday (when most salons are closed). So rather than splurge on the hair, I’ve decided to do it myself* and buy new makeup which I will apply myself.

Thanks so much for following me on this journey this week, I can’t wait to share details from the trip when I am home!

 

* To ensure that my curling iron would work in Europe, Mr. Lively did some Amazon research and found what I can only call The Mega Converter. Hopefully this monster will do the job.

[sponsor] fashion for home

August 16th, 2012   |   Life

This post is brought to you by Fashion For Home.

Question: Revolutionary prices for beautiful design?

Answer: Fashion For Home

Let’s face it, beauty and good design are at the top of any interior design enthusiast’s wishlist; no one wants trash cluttering up their hallway or hanging from their light fittings! But given that indulging in your favourite designers can often come with a hefty price tag that promises to go into the thousands (and more…), for most of us value for money is also a seriously important buying factor when its comes to our homes.

What’s that I hear?: “You can’t get both”! Nonsense!

Someone once said “Negativity is expensive” and in this case, they couldn’t be more right! So drumroll please…  I present the stuff that interior dreams are made of: Fashion for Home. This Berlin-based furniture company has eshops in the U.S, the UK, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands and with over 40 designers across 7 different ranges, there is  something to whet everyone’s styling appetite!

In terms of Fashion For Home’s 7 lines, my personal favorite is Fashion for HomeStudio Copenhagen. While many of us recognize the classic straight, crisp lines of traditional Scandinavian design, this range adds some gorgeous, soft curves to the mix: a fusion which has proven very popular among Fashion For Home’s customers. Within Studio Copenhagen, Fashion for Homethe Wimbledon sofas and armchairs are one of the best sellers and are a great example of this union of the curvy and the minimal. Other ranges such as Amore di Casa have been praised for having a far more traditional and delicate aesthetic, with intricately carved wood playing a central role in design.

I have been asked time and time again, “what’s the catch? How do you keep prices low on such great products?” The truth of the matter is that Fashion For Home cuts out storage costs, which significantly increase prices, by making-to-order. Once you order your product it will be made and shipped directly to you, without any hanging around on the way. So there isn’t a catch, there just isn’t a store!

 

When scouting for a DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviewee this week, I turned to my fellow Jess LC intern, Kiley. Kiley is one of those girls who has everything going for her: looks, smarts, talent, drive, and did I mention the girl can dress? You can see for yourself on her style blog, Off Randolph. At the same time, she’s one of the nicest and most down to earth girls you’ll meet. She’s jetting off to Italy soon for a semester abroad, so I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to ask her to share her intentions with us. Thanks for sharing, Kiley! Enjoy!  -Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kiley of Off Randolph

To me, this comes above all. I often find myself saying “I’m too busy” to keep in touch with certain people, only to realize that instead of pressing snooze five times that morning I could have called my cousin who lives in a different state or an old friend. My latest goal has been to make time for those people in my life that I love, but don’t talk to nearly enough, because ultimately those relationships are the most precious things in our short life.

This Fall, instead of heading back down to Nashville, where I’m a student at Vanderbilt, I leave for Italy to study abroad for the semester. This summer has been spent preparing, getting excited, attempting to fit everything I want to pack in one checked bag (whoever made that rule was surely a man), but mostly hearing tips from everyone about how to best take advantage of my time in Europe. The thing that I hear most is “depth over breadth”; instead of racing through every European city I’m dying to see (that would be all of them), I hope to really experience a smaller number of cities, make lasting relationships with people I would not have met otherwise, and go off the beaten path in each place I have the opportunity to spend time.

I may be alone on this one, but I probably spend over an hour every day dreaming—in class, on the bus, while I walk, everywhere. And while I have no idea what my future job will be or what my future home will look like, I think there is a certain importance in dreaming because without the dreams to start out with, there is no hope of them becoming a reality.

The idea of giving back is huge to me—HUGE. Growing up, I was never a sports person or a theater person or an artsy person. I was, however, a huge fan of school and wanted to take classes all year round (weird kid, I know). One summer I took a class called Youth and Society, which exposed me to a different non-profit organization in Chicago each day. Volunteering almost every day that summer was the most satisfying thing I could have done with my time; making others happy is definitely one of the keys to being happy yourself.

In a perfect world, we’d all immediately succeed in whatever we set out to do, but that doesn’t sound like a very interesting world to me. Planning on making mistakes helps me deal with them when they happen and more importantly, learn from them quickly. Knowing that I’ll make more mistakes than I’d probably like to makes it easier to aim higher since I’ve accepted mistakes as something good in life.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

 

This week while I’m away, Helena (Queen of the Nuts and Bolts and Sweeter CPA) is going to be answering a question that I asked her earlier this summer: What accounting software should I choose? You see, I have used Quickbooks for years and wasn’t sure if it was time for me to change systems or not.

Tomorrow Helena will go into detail about the pros and cons of two major accounting programs for small businesses.

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.)

designing our wedding with intention

August 14th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

Now that I’ve shared why we decided to elope, I’ll share what traditions we decided to keep, what we edited, and what we invented.

As I’ve mentioned before, our decision to pass on a traditional wedding is saving us a substantial amount of money. Which has allowed us to intentionally splurge in some areas like our honeymoon and wedding gifts, and save on others like an expensive wedding dress, floral arrangements, and venue.

Overall, I think we’ve successfully tailored our wedding to our personal preferences. I feel over-the-top excited about our plans and incredibly grateful for such an unexpected and unconventional way of getting married. I never would have imagined we’d be eloping, but it turned out to be a perfect fit for us.

Which of course goes to show how individual each wedding should be. What we have done is certainly not right for everyone. It’s really all about doing what is best for each individual couple and their intentions.

Here’s how we crafted our wedding traditions.

Engagement Photos

Though we did not plan to get engagement photos taken, we got very lucky. My friend and photographer Kelly Stonelake tweeted me about a photography workshop (Film Is Not Dead) in Chicago that needed engagement couples to shoot. So we snatched up the opportunity and got some great free photos like this one by Catherine.

The other few engagement photos on the last few posts were by the adorable Jonah of Jen and Jonah (if you live in Ohio, I definitely recommend them!).

Wedding Invites

When it came to wedding invites, this was high up on my priority list. And though we weren’t inviting people to our ceremony, our friend and family celebrations definitely warranted nice looking invitations.

And when it came to invites, I knew exactly who I wanted to design them: Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio. (She’s also the designer behind our Jess LC stationery as well.)

And when it comes to packaging, Claudia kills it.

I still can’t believe my invites were inside these adorable packages! (I was pretty much squealing when I opened them.)

And there she is. Our lovely little invite.

We decided to make it an announcement about our elopement without event details. Printing only one announcement for both the family and the friend gatherings helped us save money and keep things simple. I also designed a wedding website (through Blogger so I could customize the look) and have the party details going out in an email to friends and family later this week.

You’ll notice that we went with a French blue and gray scheme which is very… French looking. But in fact the color choice originated from the color of my shoes. I’ll share more about what I’m wearing soon.

Somehow the beautiful blue color also popped up in most of our wedding details despite the fact that I’m not personally a huge fan of blue (except for this shade, of course). If I had a traditional wedding it would have been gray, white, coral, and gold all the way.

But crazy things happen when you do something completely different than you imagine.

And it all just seems right.

I cannot wait to see the invite framed on the wall with a photo of our shoes.

Wedding Officiant and Photographer

When we first decided to elope in two month’s time, the task of finding French officiants and photographers sounded… not fun.

So we instantly decided to invite our friends to fill these roles, rather than try to work with people we’ve never met before.

photo by

We are flying our friends Kim and Scott to Paris with us. Kim is a fantastic photographer and Scott is exactly the kind of person who is perfect for running the ceremony. So rather than fork over a chunk of cash to people we don’t know, we are treating our friends to a trip to Paris instead. (They are super psyched.)

Kim and Scott will be with us for three days and then fly home. At which point Mr. Lively and I will stay for our honeymoon.

Side Note: we decided to skip the hassle of trying to get a French wedding license and did it here in Chicago ahead of time. So as Mr. Lively likes to say, we were “legally” married for a few weeks, but not “officially” until our ceremony.

Ceremony and Dinner

We devised the ceremony itself (this was a big deal to us) and I’ll will share it in more detail when I get back.

But as far as location and restaurant afterwards, we don’t really know yet. Getting married on an August Sunday evening in Paris means quite a lot of places will be closed (we’ve heard) so we are going to wing it.

I’ll share more on what we decided to do when we return.

I’ll also be finding a little bouquet from a market on Saturday… of whatever looks fresh and beautiful.

Wedding Gifts

Because we are eloping and not having a traditional wedding, we are skipping a wedding registry. I’m happy that we can leave the gifts out of the equation and just spend our time with our friends and families when we celebrate with them in September and November.

But we didn’t ditch the idea of a wedding gifts for one another. This is where we intentionally splurged.

I got Mr. Lively a fancy-pants espresso maker. Since Mr. Lively worked as a barista one summer in college, our kitchen is now a mini-Starbucks, much to his delight. (I really think he likes making me lattes just so he can foam the milk.)

And Mr. Lively gifted me a very generous shopping budget for new clothes and my wedding outfit. I’ve been beyond thankful for his gift and he’s loved watching me evolve my wardrobe this summer.

Much to my intern Caitlin’s delight, she’s reaped the benefits of my wedding gift as well. She’s been on the receiving end of a substantial closet exfoliation.

Bachelorette Party

Since we were keeping the elopement a secret, it was not possible to have a bachelorette party ahead of time. So when we celebrate with friends I won’t be a bachelorette anymore.

Which is why I’ve decided to have a “Mrs. Party.”

Yep, I’m inventing my own special lady party that is going to celebrate the fact that I’m already married. I’ll elaborate more on this party once it happens.

So there you have it! I’d love to hear if anyone has made similar choices in their weddings or elopements. (And if these ideas resonate with others and get adopted into their own nuptials I would be thrilled!)

DESIGN YOUR LOOK 2012: pin your heart out!

August 13th, 2012   |   Life

Hi all! We were beyond impressed by the submissions for this year’s Design Your Look contest—serious talent. So as we explained last week, the entries are now all on the Design Your Look Contest board on Jess’ Pinterest.

The look that gets the most repins by noon on Monday, August 20 will win! Remember, we will be monitoring the board and multiple repins of an entry by the same Pinterest user will not be counted and may lead to disqualification from the contest. We will announce the winner next week here on the blog.

Good luck and happy pinning!

-Caitlin and Kiley

why we eloped

August 13th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

When Mr. Lively proposed on May 30th, I was planning on a traditional wedding next fall.

The following day his parents came into town and we talked about possible venues and catering for three whole days. But during their last night in town we finally broached the subject of our honeymoon.

We decided we wanted to go to Paris.

I’ve never been to France before and Mr. Lively speaks French and hasn’t been to Europe. So it seemed like a great trip for the two of us to enjoy together.

However, we quickly realized that since we were footing almost the entire bill for the wedding, funds would most likely be so tight by that point it would be out of the question. I recently found out our budget was $20,000 less than the average wedding spent in Chicago… so our estimate was probably a naive assumption to begin with.

Then suddenly, Mr. Lively’s father suggested that we elope to Paris and do the ceremony there.

At first I was unsure… I mean, we had been working out the math and if we saved – substantially – each month, we would have the money we would need to meet our wedding budget. So though a Paris honeymoon might not be realistic, the wedding part was something we could do here in Chicago…

But it didn’t take long to reflect deeper and begin with the end in mind. Growing up, I dreamed about my ring (I worked in a fine jewelry store in high school and I’m a jewelry designer) and my home (I used my mom’s interior design stencils to draw out new floor plans for my bedroom when I was 9).

Yet my wedding was never something that I thought about so it never had huge significance to me. It was mostly about creating a bond with my husband and God, and celebrating with our friends and family. Which is what a wedding accomplishes, but at a pretty high expense for our current income. Though we could most likely foot the bill without debt, we’d have little more than a small emergency fund to show for it afterwards.

Which meant saving for a home in our future was going to take us quite a while after the wedding next fall. 

So while I did get the ring of my dreams (my late Grandmother’s stone is nestled in my favorite setting), my home was going to be somewhere far off in the somewhat distant future. It also made preparing for parenthood in a few years financially more challenging.

Which means that on a leap of faith, we embraced the wedding road less travelled and decided that the elopement idea really did intentionally suit our lives and long-term goals.

If we had an unlimited budget that didn’t set us back a penny on our other savings goals… I’m honestly not sure that we would have eloped. But that isn’t our reality and the fact is that over the past two months of preparing for this trip, I’ve been surprised at how wonderful the whole process has been – and compared to a wedding – pretty stress free.

And Mr. Lively has been loving every second of our unconventional plan.

We are also grateful to have families that support this endeavor. In fact, our parents have each sent us words to read aloud so we have a piece of their wisdom during our ceremony.

We planned on keeping this a secret from almost everyone, but we needed to fill our extended families in so that we could reserve the hotel rooms needed for the family celebration. Though a few members thought it would be nice to see us get married, no one wanted to see us get married at the expense of our financial well-being. And the vast majority of our families have applauded our choice and are excited for a fun family weekend.

Yep, though we will be eloping for our private ceremony, we are still going to have a friend bash in September and a family celebration over Thanksgiving weekend. So in a way, we’ve kind of deconstructed a wedding. Many of the traditional elements that are important to us will still be kept, but we are skipping anything that is not very important to us.

Which means for half the cost of our original wedding budget we are getting a five star, nine day honeymoon to Paris, a celebration with friends, and a family weekend (not including the family dinner my parents are paying for). We’ll also have a nest egg growing for our future home as soon as the end of this year.

Inadvertently, our new plan also allowed us to do some things we always thought would be a bit of a challenge for us in a traditional wedding. We are now going to be able to devote our full attention to our friends and family separately at each event. Plus, we’ll be able to welcome our families into our new home over our first Thanksgiving weekend as a married couple.

Early this year we set an intention to always make a big meal for Thanksgiving and have an open door policy for friends and family to join us. And there is no better way for us to begin this tradition than to open our new home to our extended families this fall. So while we are fortunate that the weekend itself is a good one for guests to get time off, it has huge significance for Mr. Lively and I as a new family.

Phew! It is such a wonderful privilege to share this all with you! If you’ve been following along this summer you may have noticed a few points where I was super stressed… that was largely due to preparing for this elopement in two and a half months and preparing for our move and new puppy this fall. It’s been a wonderful whirlwind I never predicted. Our lives have changed quite a bit since May 30th.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In case you are wondering when we are going to have our wedding ceremony, we already did. Yesterday. August 12th, 2012.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing all the traditions we kept in our unconventional wedding, those we ditched, and those we invented.

 

photo by

we eloped to paris

August 10th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

Yep, you read that right.

Mr. Lively and I are on our way to Paris to get married! 

I know many have wondered whether Mr. Lively’s name was a pseudonym or his actual last name. It’s his real last name.

Which means my name is now going to be Jess. Jess Lively.

I like my new name so much that I’m evolving past MakeunderMyLife and evolving the site into JessLively.com. I hope you like the new look we added too. But more on that when I get back from Paris.

While I’m away (August 10th through 19th) I have wedding posts all lined up to explain why we eloped, how we designed our wedding/elopement with intention, and the “important stuff” like what I’m wearing.

So stay tuned, there will be plenty of pretty and wedding intention to come next week.

Thanks so much you guys, this has been the most delicious surprise to share with you. I’ve been waiting all summer to fill you in!

 

photo by

single-tasking update

August 9th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLife

 

As promised, I’ve been diligently tracking my email inbox checks over the past week. The experiment proved my theory correct: when I check email less frequently I get more accomplished, and I stay more on top of my inbox. 

To help show my progress, I used TeuxDeux and marked my little inbox checks as I went along (which you can see in the image above are the light gray marks on each weekday).

Though most days I was on the money, yesterday I slipped and checked my inbox four times a day. Over the weekend I also had to receive and forward a few documents to different people on a work related project. But to help myself stay true to my no email intention for weekends, I had my Gmail app on my iPhone set to the search bar, not the inbox. So when I needed to see if the document I needed to forward had arrived yet, I could search by the name of the person instead of glancing at all emails in the inbox. Which was wonderful. It allowed me to do what I needed without getting wrapped up in other emails. In fact, all week my iPhone Gmail app barley got used.

Which, compared to my past email addiction, is a minor miracle.

And as I intended, I still used my inbox to write emails or respond to specific, project related emails more frequently than three times a day. But over all, the precious hours of my workday when I closed my inbox and actually worked on my business cannot be understated. I definitely accomplished much more than had I kept my inbox open all day.

If email was food, I’m all about three solid meals rather than grazing. (Super random analogy, but I like it.)

Going forward, I intend to keep true to the three daily email checks as much as possible. When I need to send a document after hours like I did this weekend, I’ll continue to use the search page on my phone rather than keep it open to the inbox. And I’ll continue to mark the email checks on my TeuxDeux list during the day to visually remind myself to stay the course. Kinda like a food journal, I suppose.

Though this method of email checking may not work for everyone, I definitely encourage anyone who thinks it might help them to try it out!

It could make a (productive) world of difference.

 

balancing friends and a relationship

August 8th, 2012   |   Life

Since getting engaged I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending even more time with Mr. Lively and less time with my friends. Which is understandable to some degree, but I’m working on improving that balance.

Over on The Everygirl I have shared a few ways that I am creating habits to help me keep my friends a high priority in my life and busy schedule.

Enjoy! 

 

photo by, via

Happy Wednesday, guys! Caitlin here, back with yet another Design Your Life interview. Today we’re going to be hearing from one of my newest blog friends, Jen, blogger behind Lemon Drop Love. Jen reached out to me a while back for design help with her living room, and soon after I knew we would be fast friends. I mean, when I realized that her blog tagline is “when life gives you lemons, make a lemon drop” it’s kind of hard to think otherwise. Lucky for me, she was delighted at the prospect of sharing her intentions on MML.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: jen of lemon drop love

I have a strong desire to do what I love and what I’m passionate about. However, the pressures of everyday life can often suck the energy right out me. After a long day at work, it is easy for me to put on my comfy clothes and curl up on the couch. But checking out day after day just doesn’t cut it; all it does is hold me back.  In order to stay focused I have to prioritize daily. I carry a notepad where I jot down blog ideas and random thoughts throughout the day. I also recently hung an inspiration board over my desk (I plan to fill it up) to remind me every day that it’s not a dream if you make it happen.

I admit it; I’m my own worst critic. Unfortunately for me, I’m also not perfect. One thing in life I really struggle with is self-guilt.  I feel guilty when I go for seconds, when I skip a workout, or sometimes even when I indulge and buy a new outfit. I’ve recently come to realize that feeling guilty is a choice and I’m focused on staying kind to myself and everyone I care about the most.  Like my Grandmother always says, be the person you want to meet and lead by example.

Life is full of surprises and opportunities and it is better to have tried something rather than regret you never gave it a shot. Sometimes it works out for the better and other times you realize it just isn’t your bag. I try to live my life with no regrets and I plan to continue down this path. Yes, I have made plenty of mistakes, more than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I have learned from each one. Living a life without regret is about embracing yourself and who you are, but also ceasing the moments you are given and staying true to yourself.

I believe your healthy habits evolve based on where you are currently in life. Being able to listen to your body and give it what it needs is half the battle. Up until about five years ago I had the metabolism of a cheetah and I was very active and athletic; I didn’t have to worry much about what I ate. Today, my metabolism has drastically slowed and I don’t have the time to be as active; so I watch what I eat and make exercising a priority. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my cocktails and comfort foods; I just focus on moderation and balance.  I am sure these habits will change as I go into different chapters of my life, but in order to stay happy and proud in my own skin, I will always try and embrace healthy habits.

I love the process of taking an idea and making it something everyone can see, feel or taste. I get a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment and joy. The best is when I think to myself, “wow, that really worked and it turned out better than I thought it would.” Being creative doesn’t have to be complicated; a lot of it is about finding the joy in the little things around you. I like to fill my creative time with painting/drawing, cooking/mixing drinks, entertaining or redesigning my apartment. This is why I love my blog so much, it pushes me to do all the things I love and the best part is I get to share my experiences with other people.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

This week on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing what I just discovered this summer: how to sell on Facebook. After a few months of doing so for Jess LC, I think it’s a great option for established brands and newbie businesses alike. I’ll explain why tomorrow!

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.)

[sponsor] the maven circle

August 7th, 2012   |   Life

This post is brought to you by The Maven Circle.

 

The guilt, fear, “never enough time”, feelings of stuckness, loneliness, stress and overwhelm- we ladies at The Maven Circle know those feelings all too well. They’re the things that hold us back, that keep us in a cycle and getting nowhere closer to the life we envision for ourselves. They’re the things that keep us from making the changes we know deep down that we need to make in order to feel fully whole and happy in our lives.

Too often, our energy is just spread so thin between all the to-dos, responsibilities, “have-tos” and “shoulds” that we don’t find the time to take care of ourselves, our needs and our own happiness. We place ourselves at the end of an impossibly long to do list and wind up stressed out, feeling depleted and wondering why we have so much good stuff in our lives yet we still feel a bit unhappy underneath it all.

It’s time to feel awesome again.

Time to ditch the stress-fest, and unleash your deep down inner-awesome! Because happiness starts inside yourself- in taking better care of your own mental, emotional and physical wellness- in battling the mind gremlins that tell you “you can’t” (they’re liars)- in facing your fears and pushing beyond your comfort zone- and taking it all one step-by-step at a time.

Those are exactly the things we help you with in our e-course called The Catalyst Course! We share the advice, exercises, everyday tools and new ways of thinking that helped us break through our barriers to unleash our own inner awesome, to help you do the same! And we do it within an amazing and open community of supportive women, who are facing the same struggles and understand exactly how you feel.

Happiness, fulfillment, feeling whole- those are not pipe dreams or something selfish to strive for. They’re the key ingredients for creating a more positive and amazing world for us all to live in. Your happiness doesn’t just benefit you- it directly effects those around you, and makes you a greater force of awesome energy to spread out to the world!

Feeling like you’re ready to make a change? Ready to shift into a life with more fulfillment? Ready to feel more awesome everyday?

The Catalyst Course is 4 weeks dedicated to re-energizing, re-engaging, and re-discovering the possibility within you! We begin August 13th- lots more details and info here. We hope you’ll join us in learning to live our most awesome lives!

 

DESIGN YOUR LOOK 2012

August 6th, 2012   |   Life

Hi, everyone! Caitlin and Kiley here, announcing a new Design Your Look contest for Jess LC! You may remember our Design Your Look contest from last year, but this year we’re doing things a little differently. Here’s the plan: We’re inviting all of you to style an outfit incorporating any two Jess LC items that you’d like to win, plus $200 in cash to put towards purchasing the rest of the items in your look. I know, right? We’re jealous.

To better understand what your submission could look like, Carly of Chicago Prepster put together a look earlier this month that we loved and used in the graphic above.

Here’s how we’re mixing things up: Instead of posting all of the looks to MML and voting via comments like we did before, we will pin each submission to a Design Your Look board on Jess’ Pinterest on Monday, August 13 to make them easily viewable. The look that gets the most repins by noon on Monday, August 20 will win!

To enter:

  • Design your look! Be sure to include the two Jess LC pieces you would like to receive if you win.
  • Email your submission (in a 530 pixel wide jpeg) to Caitlin and Kiley at theshop@jesslc.com by Monday, August 13.
  • On Monday, August 13, there will be a post on MML that provides the link to the Design Your Look pinboard. Find your submission and tell your friends to vote by repinning your look (please note that multiple repins by the same Pinterest user of a single submission will not be counted and can result in disqualification from the contest).
  • The contest will officially end at 12:00pm on Monday, August 20.

Good luck, guys! We can’t wait to see how you style your favorite Jess LC items!


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