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this week i’m thankful for… moving

September 28th, 2012   |   Life

At long, long last, it is moving weekend! Mr. Lively and I are taking the day off to get our keys and start moving our smaller items into the new apartment.

I’m using Redi-Boxes for the clothing and kitchen items so they can be put directly into closets and cupboards and reused for other stuff that will still need to be packed. Then I’ll use old Jess LC inventory boxes for bookshelf items that won’t be put into place until Sunday when the movers bring all the furniture.

Our hope is that by Monday we will be mostly unpacked and settled in.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

more please!

September 27th, 2012   |   Life

As I prepare to move to the new apartment this weekend and close Jess LC in November, a sense of change is definitely in the air.

The person I am now is not the same person that moved into this building three years ago. I’m older, wiser, and have a better hair cut.

Oh, and I’m also married, going to be a (puppy) mom, and will be designing a new home.

With all of this in mind, I’d love to hear what topics you’d like to see more of here on the blog!

These are a few of the topics I’m thinking about exploring in more depth. I’d love to know which ones you are most excited about or want to see more of.

  • Thinking with intention
  • Marriage / relationship
  • Decorating the home
  • Puppy photos
  • Style
  • Cheap tricks
  • Overcoming fears or difficult things
  • ______________________

Please comment with your favorite(s) and of course, feel free to fill in the blank with your own suggestion!

I really appreciate your help, as I really want this blog to be as helpful as possible.


September 27th, 2012   |   LifeRelationships

Individualization, according to Marcus Buckingham’s Strengths Finder Assessment, is my number one strength.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed to find out that was my biggest strength. It definitely does not sound cool or sexy.

However, when it comes to running our household, it has its advantages.

Without even thinking about it, I tend to figure out what people are best at and then divide up work according to each person’s biggest strengths. I do this with the Jess LC ladies and we also apply this to our family.

When it comes to chores and life maintenance, Mr. Lively and I have come to a pretty clear and evenly divided set of responsibilities. Having clarity and ownership over different parts of our lives helps us each feel like we are contributing to the family in important ways. It also helps clearly set expectations, so neither of us feels like they “do more” than the other.

In the home we have divided up the chores based on who prefers to do each task. Or in some cases, what I want to have cleaned more frequently (I’m talking to you, polished nickel bathroom faucet).

Mr. Lively is in charge of vacuuming, trash, recycling, cleaning the toilet and shower, and helping me make the bed. He also does the laundry.

I am in charge of cleaning the kitchen and bathroom sink, dusting, general clutter removal, and helping Mr. Lively make the bed. I fold the laundry and put it away.

As for frequency, we do these chores about once a week or more frequently, when needed. We have also discovered that Mr. Lively prefers that I simply ask him to vacuum or clean when I would like it done rather than stick to a strict schedule.

In larger household areas like health-care and finance we have again found ways to divide and conquer.

Because I am giddy at the prospect of having high quality health insurance (Mr. Lively works for a hospital) after being on self-employed insurance, I lept at the chance to be in charge of the health care for the family. I pick the doctors, make the appointments for us both, get prescriptions filled, and generally make sure we are healthy.

Mr. Lively on the other hand is in charge of the family finances. He has a passion for mint.com and enjoys tracking expenses. I do not. So again, it was a pretty easy decision to hand this over to him. This means that he monitors our spending, retirement, saving rates, and pays our bills (except rent, that’s mine). I of course also have full access to the finances and all the money, I just don’t have to write the bills or monitor as frequently.

If I did not run my own business and stay connected to finances everyday, I’m not sure I would have felt this confident letting him manage the money. But because I am dealing with cash flow, budgets, and income daily with Jess LC, BWI, and JessLively.com, I feel good knowing that if I ever needed to pay the family bills it would be a piece of cake compared to the companies’ finances.

And lastly, I’ve even found a way to individualize the move this weekend. We have decided that since I don’t mind packing and adore unpacking, I will be the packer for the move. Mr. Lively is in charge of shuttling loads of boxes to the new apartment. Though we have movers scheduled for Sunday to tackle the large items and storage unit, we think our labor sharing will be the most efficient on Friday and Saturday when we are on our own.

As our family grows we will need to change and evolve our roles and responsibilities. But I have no doubt I’ll be looking, consciously or unconsciously, for ways to figure out where our strengths lie and divide accordingly.


car bag

September 26th, 2012   |   Life

First off, I would like to thank everyone for their support on my driving post! I had no idea I wasn’t the only one who doesn’t like driving or driving in a big city.

In an effort to enjoy driving and being in the car a bit more, I created a little goodie bag of sorts with car essentials. I picked a cute tote which holds the items in the back of the car and also doubles as a grocery bag. Inside there are snacks (the almonds are for Mr. Lively, the K bars are for me), an umbrella, wet wipes, and Kleenex. I also plan to add aspirin and a flash light to the mix.

Aside from the car bag we also have some bottled water and a blanket. The blanket is for comfort during long trips or for warmth if something ever happened in the winter.

Does anyone else have a car bag?

Hey guys! Caitlin here, and happy to be introducing Anne of Anne the Adventurer as our Design Your Life Interviewee this week. Anne is an inspiring writer with an obvious zest and love for life. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and see how she relishes life’s adventures, no matter how big or small. I’ll let her tell you the rest.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: anne of anne the adventurer

Vulnerability is one of the most difficult gifts we can give ourselves. In this day and age, it is easy to get swept up in our fast-paced, ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ culture. The truth is, acting like the marlboro man or the lone ranger, someone who achieves success on their own and despite the odds, isn’t the reality. I have had more success when I am surrounded by a supportive community than when I am on my own. When I have taken risks and shared my emotional self with others, I’ve formed deeper relationships and have found a strong sense of validation for who I am. Sometimes, it doesn’t always go as I’ve planned or would have hoped, but to be vulnerable poses a greater return in the quality of my relationships than hiding in the corner (and pretending my problems don’t exist) does.

Let’s do some myth busting! I can sometimes become overwhelmed by my fears or concerns about my life. Here are some examples of fears: “I don’t want to go to a party because someone from work who said something nasty to me might be there”; “I am afraid to fly because that plane landed in the Hudson River”; “I don’t like to put up style posts on my blog because people might think that I am not enough of a model-type to pull it off.” These are all real fears of mine (see, vulnerability!), and the quality of my life is greatly decreased because of the power they have over me. By doing a bit of myth busting, I can work to overcome them. Busting myths requires taking risks and challenging those fears head on, and then creating a track record of my positive qualities or outcomes. For instance, if I focus on the fact that my rude coworker’s treatment of me is more a reflection of who they are rather than me, I can bust the myth that I am not worthy of friendships, and go and enjoy that party! I’ll add the success of the party and having fun with people to my track record. Then, when I have some doubt or fears, I can look to my past successes and say, “If I was fine before, I will be fine again.”

A large part of being vulnerable and busting myths is being willing to love yourself, and to practice self-love daily. I am definitely my worst critic, but have found that self-love has helped turn this bad habit around. I’ve started writing down some of my strongest negative thoughts on one side of a note card, and then writing a piece of positive self-talk that combats it on the other side. I have these all over my house, wherever I will see them most, as a reminder to myself that I am of value. One card I have taped to my computer to remind me that I am a writer of value says, “I am a talented writer who can affect positive change through authenticity and sharing my honest stories and opinions.” Seeing this card everyday keeps me motivated to continue to do what I do everyday. It really does make me feel loved.


Mindfulness is very tricky, considering I am a go, go, go type of person. Always on the run, I rarely stop to think and reflect about what I am doing. However, not being aware of my actions or intentions can often cause me to go off track or slip into a bad habit of negative self talk or letting fear run my life. Being mindful and taking time out of my day to sit, reflect, and meditate on my intentions and actions has helped me to live a more focused life. Mindfulness can also be called prayer and/or meditation. When I am practicing being mindful, I usually stop and close my eyes for a few minutes and focus on my breath. Then, I journal about my emotions and thoughts during the day so that I am in better touch with myself and my purpose in life. I can’t even being to explain to you how much of a difference this has made for me, especially in my work! I am happier, more fulfilled, and more productive because of it.

As you can see, all of these intentions are intertwined. Every one requires the other, but taking risks is one of the glues. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to bust myths or be vulnerable. When fear or doubt has controlled my life, taking risks often gets put on the back burner. When I am in a place of self-doubt and negative self-talk, I fall into my tried and true coping skills, the ones that make me feel the most in control. But usually, these coping mechanisms leave out mindfulness, self-love, and vulnerability, and I am often more closed off and afraid than when I started. Taking risks and challenging myself is the way out. I may be afraid of flying, but I am not going to let that stop me from traveling to Italy, a dream I’ve held since I was a little girl. So, I’ll take a risk and get on that plane (not without a little myth busting, self love, mindfulness and vulnerability, of course!). Taking risks helps to open up our souls to more possibilities, and grows our sense of self. We come to know ourselves better, and in the end, can love ourselves better.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

moving forward

September 25th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

The great thing about designing a life with intention is that it allows us to reflect on our lives and find ways to move past fears and limiting beliefs.

Without a personal drive to push past our comfort zone, we can end up stalled in some area of our life.

For me, I have created a new intention to push past a very real, but seemingly silly fear: driving.

Over the past decade I have not owned a car or driven more than a handful of times. When I was in high school I shared a blue Blazer with my brother. But I never purchased one in college or in Chicago.

In fact, I chose to live in Chicago partly because I loved the transportation system. I preferred to spend more money on my apartment than splitting my budget on a car and apartment combined.

And even though I was never a bad driver, the sheer lack of driving over the past ten years has left me gun shy.

Yet this never was a big issue because I never had a car.

However, this summer Mr. Lively’s parents generously gifted us their 2006 Toyota Prius.

Which Mr. Lively drives almost exclusively.

He drives it the most because he loves driving and I am afraid to drive, especially in Chicago. The city is much more challenging to navigate than my hometown of Rochester, Michigan where I learned to drive in 2001.

This means my current self-imposed driving ban is now actively limiting potential convenience and my driving independence. And if I really think about it, I believe this also affects my self-confidence more than I’d like to admit.

Sure, I could hide behind valid excuses like taking the bus is better for the environment and cheaper than gas. Which is true. But the deeper truth for me is that I am scared that I will mess up somehow, go down a one-way road the wrong way, or… get honked at.

Yes, I know this sounds so silly. But to me in my head, it really does feel scary.

I have no fear of speaking on national television, sharing my life here on the blog, taking my business full-time after college, ending my business, or a million other things. But the simple act of driving has me worried and leading a limited life.

As the title of this post states, I am quite literally stopping myself from moving forward.

And I want to change that.

Tonight I am going to talk with Mr. Lively about this intention and see if he is cool with me driving us 90% of the time. Long car trips aside, where we share the driving, the short runs can be left to me. This will help me to feel more confident. Over time, I hope that I will feel more comfortable driving on my own.

Once I am driving solo easily, he can regain the drivers seat on our shared trips.

I have a feeling that if I don’t take these proactive steps now to get more familiar with driving in the city, I will prolong the undue worry and continue to limit myself. Plus, I’ll never actually be getting better at driving in the city – which is really all I need to prove to myself in the first place.

As I take these next steps to push myself out of the passenger seat in my life, I encourage anyone else who is limiting themselves in some way to move past their fears with me.

We can do this. We just gotta start with an intention and take it one step at a time.


This week on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing the a-ha moment that helped me realize it was time to close Jess LC and how I chose the final day. And of course, I’ll also share what I’ve learned from the experience that could apply to other businesses 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.)

decorating intentions

September 24th, 2012   |   DecorStyle

As I tell Mr. Lively (frequently) we are just four sleeps away from moving things to our new apartment.

At this point I am pretty much consumed by preparations for the new apartment and the only way I can contain myself is by staying busy. Or sleeping. The level of excitement I feel rivals my nine-year-old self awaiting Christmas.

Or maybe this is how Gabrielle Douglass felt leading up to the London Games this summer.

This is my Olympics.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share how I used the makeunder process to help me decorate our apartment home. But before I get into details, I thought I’d share some personal intentions that have helped me with moving and decorating the new space.

Though some people prefer wait until they have moved to the new space to begin decorating. I am not in this camp. The minute I know where I am moving next I begin to envision what I’d like the space to look like and how I want to decorate to mesh with the style of the space itself.

I think this is in part because I am a designer, because this is my favorite passion of all time, and because I’m so excited to decorate that I cannot wait until I’m actually moved to start doing as much as possible.

The result of this enthusiasm is hope chests. Like those women of yesteryear who used to save home goods for her marriage and new home in a big trunk, I start creating piles of things that belong in the new space. Again, to reference my Christmas-like enthusiasm for moving, I am gathering the new home presents under… anything but a tree.

This year I’ve reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to hope chests. The entire apartment at this point is one giant hope apartment.

There is stuff on the floor.

Behind the furniture.

And even on the top of the refrigerator.

Some of these new online orders haven’t even been opened yet. I will view for the first time in person when we are in the new space.

So exciting. 

As you might be able to tell already, I did a lot pre-shopping for the new space. Armed with a vision of what I wanted the new space to look like thanks to tons of daydreaming, a floor plan, and measurements, I picked what new pieces we wanted and started ordering.

For this new space and most of my apartments in the past, I generally choose a few items to splurge on and many less expensive objects to balance it all out.

Because we eloped rather than had a wedding, we have had a bit more money to invest in the space than we otherwise would have. Which was an overall intention all along.

We have chosen to really splurge on three main pieces for the new space. A new couch, headboard, and entry table.

Though the entry table’s luxe-ness wasn’t quite a necessity, the couch and headboard got a good chunk of our budget because they are things that we will use every single day. I believe that well-crafted furniture is worthwhile. Plus, investing in these areas means the resale value of the items is generally higher than less expensive options. So though we splurged on a new couch, we had $500 from selling the old couch to go towards the bill.

Due to the added luxury of shopping ahead of time, I was also able to snag many of our items as they went on sale. So far I think we’ve saved about $400 due to sale purchases.

I also spent a lot of time searching for deals on rugs, accessories, patio furniture, and shelving.

We found counter stools and rugs on Overstock.com. Our patio furniture is entirely from Ikea, and our shelving is almost all from the Ikea Lack collection.

As for accessories, this is where I hit the thrift stores and Craigslist (did you know they have an iPhone/iPad app!?!).

We scored this awesome cedar-lined brass trunk shown above at The White Elephant (now closed, RIP) for just $35 this summer. We also found another similar side table/brass trunk for $35 at the Randolph Market as well. These guys are great because they are table surfaces and storage at the same time.

On Craigslist so far I’ve found two vintage chrome chairs ($150 for the pair), an awesome little bamboo detailed desk and chair ($125), and a vintage soda pop cooler to use as a coffee table on the patio ($60) which again has table surface/storage capacity.

And there are a few other items I’m still on the hunt for:

    • Entry mirror
    • Vanity mirror
    • Dining table wood top
    • Bedroom curtains/rods

Over the next few months I’ll be looking to round out the space with these items. Once these are in place the space will be about 85% complete. Sure there will be fun things to add here and there, but I love that we will get to start enjoying our home in a largely finished state pretty quickly.

This also means we can welcome our families into our mostly-complete new home for Thanksgiving and it will be great to get our puppy after the bulk of the decorating is done.

When it comes to a new space, I personally like to only keep the items that really make sense in the new space unless they have major sentimental value.

This is why we sold my old sectional on Craigslist and why we are selling the yellow chair, too.

Some small items that we won’t need I either gave away or donated. And my bedroom furniture which is very dear to me is going to be passed on to Caitlin, a summer Jess LC intern. These pieces were given to me by my childhood best friend, Carol Beth. I had refinished them before moving to Chicago five years ago when I could not afford to buy new furniture. I cherished them and I am so thankful to see them live on in Caitlin’s home as she embarks on her own self-employed journey in Chicago.

Knowing that these pieces will be so loved and serve someone who deserves them makes me happy to pass them on to a new generation. And at the same time it also helps me live with the most useful and well-suited pieces for my new space and life.


So there you have it! These are just a few of the general intentions that I have followed while preparing for the move and designing my new space. Though they may not work for everyone, hopefully they shed a little light on how I have designed my own home with intention.


this week i’m thankful for… change

September 21st, 2012   |   Life

This week and year, really, has been one of the most dramatic, growth-filled periods of my life. And though there are countless things that I am thankful for, it has come with it’s share of stress, problems, and challenges.

In yoga this week the instructor read a quote about change and pain, somewhat similar to this quote:

There is no growth without pain. Change for the better always requires letting loose of a certain degree of status quo. You realize then that the pain of moving ahead … the trials, the frustrations, the disappointments, and the failures … are always better than the situation you once found yourself in and accepted. Change won’t begin until you seize the courage and mental discipline to immerse yourself in a certain amount of pain and disillusionment concerning where you are in the present.

I definitely can relate to this pain. And over the past week I’ve received many amazing comments of support, and a few mentions that it has seemed that I have handled it so beautifully or gracefully.

But the truth is that this has not been the easiest thing for me at all. I have felt pushed to my edge, overwhelmed, and stressed to the max. Though there are moments or days of exhilaration, I am usually worn out.

Yesterday while walking to Bed Bath & Beyond with Mr. Lively I broke down on the side of the road and this morning I did the same.

Apparently massive changes do not mix well with PMS.

Anyways, I just want to say that despite all the fatigue and overwhelm I am thankful for these changes in my life. It is the hardest time and the best time.

To imagine these changes not happening in my life is definitely worse than experiencing the pain of getting to the other side.


Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next week!

an intentional life

September 20th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

When it comes to designing an intentional life, Leo Babauta explains it rather beautifully.

His philosophy is the same one that I apply to my life everyday and I hope to encourage others to try as well.

Thank you, Merissa, for sharing the link with me!

our last macy’s trunk show

September 20th, 2012   |   Life


First of all, I am blown away by the emails, comments, and orders that have come in since my announcement to close the Jess LC shop on November 2nd. Thank you so much, guys. Your support makes me even more excited to share this next chapter of my career!

For those people who have placed orders online, we are busy making each piece of jewelry by hand and filling each order with care. So we thank you for your patience as we work as quickly as possible to ship your order. Right now we are estimating orders to ship within 5-7 business days due to the volume of orders.

And last but not least, today is my last Macy’s trunk show. I am very grateful for the three years the Chicago State Street location has sold our jewelry in their Designers of Chicago collection. I have spent countless afternoons there over the years doing little trunk shows and I feel like in many ways I grew up there since graduating from college. It has been an honor and such a cool opportunity to work with a wonderful company.

So if you want to stop by between 11a and 3p and say hi, please do! I’ll be at the Macy’s on State Street in the jewelry section on the main floor near the elevators.


I can’t think of a better time to bring out a new design your life interview than today! After Jess’ big announcement yesterday, I think we’re probably all feeling inspired to focus our attention and energy on our true purpose and passions. Today, Joelle from Something Charming is going to be sharing her intentions with us. As a wedding planner and blogger, I knew Joelle would be able to shed some insight on her intentions for her creative passions and business. I definitely resonated with all of them as I was reading this morning. Thanks so much for sharing, Joelle! Enjoy, everyone! -Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: joelle of something charming

This. I have a problem with this sometimes. You see, I like to over think things, and plan out what I need to do. Sometimes it gets to the point though where I don’t get things done because I’m too busy planning out what I need to get done. Or I’m too busy worrying about all that I need to do to actually get things done. I’ve realized recently that I need to stop. I just need to stop worrying and thinking and just get it done. Because I’ll feel a lot better once I do.

This has to be one of the most powerful things I’ve realized in my life. I have a lot of experience with unhappiness, and even depression. And while I don’t believe that changing your mindset is going to change everything, knowing that you have the power to control your circumstances and outlook is a powerful thought. I make a very intentional decision every day to choose happiness and joy rather than anger or sadness or anxiety. I try to remember what is important in life, and that I’m seriously blessed to have all that I do.

I would not be able to get through the day if I didn’t prioritize. When you’re busy and have a thousand commitments, you just have to. And you have to be okay with the idea that you won’t get your entire to do list done in one day. That’s the beauty of prioritizing. I definitely prioritize things intentionally, making honest decisions as to what I value most and what work is the most important at the time. It really does help!

I am not an overly religious or spiritual person. I was raised in a church, but I currently consider myself religiously indifferent, though not necessarily agnostic, since I do have a set of beliefs that I subscribe to. That being said, I’ve recently {very recently} realized the power of having faith. Faith in anything, really. Yes, I pray to God, but I also have faith in myself and my family and my circumstances. I have to, or else I’d be too worried to get anything done. I have to believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that I can do it.

Over the summer, I got rid of 90% of my closet. Most of it was hand me downs leftover from my high school days {seriously embarrassing, at 25 years old}, and a lot of it was stuff that I bought spontaneously just because it was on sale. I’ve built my wardrobe back up over the summer using some of the lessons I’ve learned right here from Jess. If I’ve been intentional about anything in my life, it’s to only buy things that I absolutely love. It’s resulted in a closet that I am proud of, which hasn’t before happened in my life. I now only wear things that are my style, and it’s been fun to discover what my style is!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

why I’m closing the Jess LC shop

September 18th, 2012   |   Life


(Of all the posts I’ve written, this might be the hardest one to write.)

On November 2nd I have decided to close the Jess LC shop.

This little company of mine, which I began at the age of 15 by accidentally selling (ugly) ankle bracelets at a pool, has brought me so much joy, sorrow, knowledge, stress, and success. I can hardly put it into words.

By the time I close the shop doors I will have lived almost half of my life with this business. Besides my family and childhood friends, it is the biggest constant in my life.

And though the company is doing well and could continue to grow and reach new heights, I know that it is not the path I am meant to take.

Since I launched the business full-time in 2007, I had a clear life purpose in mind: to help people. I knew that my business was something I could craft with intention and mold around my efforts to help people. And since 2009 I have been typing at this same computer, on this same blog, in order to do just that.

Along the way I have had a fantastic journey with the business. I have sold my jewelry in over 100 stores in North America and our online sales have reached Paris, Singapore, Japan, and South Africa to name a few. I have worked with big PR firms, I have worked overseas, I have worked domestically, I have collaborated with several other designers. I worked with assistants, interns, and the most important person of all: Susie the Jewelry Queen.

I have gone for over a week without an online order, I’ve had over 100 orders in one day. I have worried about how I would pay the bills, I have clocked in over six figures in revenue.

I have traveled, I have worked from home. I have laughed with my Jess LC ladies listening to 80′s music while eating baked goods, and I have cried in frustration after a manufacturing situation on the side of the road.

I have made everything myself, I have designed and collaborated with others who are experts in their field.

I have sold jewelry, bags, iPad cases, posters, stationery, totes, scarves, and trays.

I have re-branded four times. I have crafted lookbooks and photoshoots and product pages galore.

I have had a few dud products, I have sold out of styles in a week.

I have done home shows, trunk shows, and trade shows. I have been nominated for awards.

I have everything I have due to a lot of faith, my share of talent, and the simple ability to just keep going

While I have been pushing to forward this business I have also been reaching out and helping others as I go. And though I have been balancing my business with my purpose, I have consistently gone towards what best enables me to help others the most.

When I could have been focused on increasing manufacturing of the bags, iPad cases, and jewelry that sold out, I decided to simplify so I could focus more on helping others craft their growing businesses instead.

The problem was not with demand, it was with balancing everything on my plate so I could keep helping people design lives and businesses with intention.

And over the course of this year a funny thing happened: without even trying I built myself a full-time career in helping people. The consulting, workshops, and blogging began to spread and flourish.

For the past seven months I have tried to balance the shop, consulting, workshops, and blog. And while I did manage to keep all the balls in the air without working insane work weeks, I found myself mentally and emotionally drained by the end of each day.

It might have looked like I “had it all” when it came to my career.

But the truth is I never wanted “it all.”

I just wanted to help people.

So after a startling a-ha moment and a lot of prayer since then, I have realized that the strength of my Helping People career is ready to replace my role as a full-time Shop Owner financially and emotionally.

But once the doors of Jess LC close, I plan to open a window. I am currently in the process of exploring how I will be able to give back and extend what Jess LC has done for me to other women starting businesses under the age of 25. When I have more clarity in the structure of this venture I’ll be sure to expand in more detail. My hope is to launch this new project in 2013.

Meanwhile, I also plan to continue to design products in collaboration with old and new business partnerships. Though I know juggling the shop, consulting, and blog is too much for me, I cannot imagine living life without design. It’s something ingrained in me now which brings me so much joy.

In fact, I am happy to announce that the Lake Shore bag collection and Quincy iPad cases are now going to continue on in a collaboration with K.Slademade. We are in the process of working together to make this happen and we will share updates as we get closer to the launch.

Also, from this point forward the Jess LC shop now has a 25% off code good on all orders until November 2nd.

We have a limited inventory of remaining items, so please feel free to use the code FINALFINALSALE to get your savings on the remainder of our products. I deeply hope that you use, love, and enjoy the products we created with you in mind. And due to the nature of the sale, all sales are final as we prepare to end the shop.

In closing, I cannot thank you enough for joining me on this journey. So many of you have purchased Jess LC items, cheered me on, and helped me make the company better each day. I am deeply grateful for your support.

I’d also like to thank those of you who have worked with me via the consulting, workshops, and blog sponsorships. You have helped me prepare for this next chapter in my life.

Thank you all so much. I really mean it.


As I mentioned in my post about our new apartment, I have chosen to work from home for the past five years. During that time I have learned along the way how to work productively and most importantly, effectively in a work/life space.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that might be helpful for others working from home or thinking about doing so in the future.

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.)

(Also, if you are interested in being a WIKW Sponsor like Carde Blanche above, please email me at jess(at)jesslc.com for more info.) 

new apartment (before)

September 18th, 2012   |   DecorStyle


Since getting back from our elopement I have had one major project on my mind whenever I’m not working: decorating the new apartment.

Decorating and design is literally my favorite thing to do on the planet. And the chance to start with a fresh canvas makes me giddy.

Thankfully, Mr. Lively appreciates my interior style (excluding lucite). So the meshing of our styles has been relatively easy. Not a cakewalk, but definitely pretty peaceful. He also has listened to me talk on, and on, and on about the new apartment and how we will decorate it.

God bless him. He is a patient man.

But you know what’s funny? As much as I’ve been prepping, planning, and preparing, I haven’t given you a tour yet!

So today, I’m giving you a tour of the soon-to-be Lively home.

But first, a bit about the building and apartment itself. We found the apartment building just three blocks from where we live now by talking to a local apartment building company. Though we could hardly believe it, they were in the process of renovating an old building which had new units available the day my lease ended. So though we planned to break my lease in July when Mr. Lively’s lease ended, we decided to stay put in my place until the new units were complete.

The building seems to have been built around the 1930′s and is a three story walk-up. Which, after living in high rises for five years, has the homey condo feel we were looking for. However, since they were completely gutting and building re-doing the inside from scratch, we also got the brand-new feel and amenities that a high rise offers. Plus, it is one block from the lake and a few blocks from the dog park for our future puppy (who was born on Labor Day!).

It really was a match made in heaven for us. And compared to the tiny studio apartment I lived in when I moved to the city five years ago… it blows me away. 

I will also be honest and say that without my business being at home, an apartment like this would not be an option for us. But since I have intentionally chosen to work from home instead of rent or lease a separate office space, we are able to splurge on a nicer home/studio. This is a trade off I’ve made all five years of my full-time business. Because my home is so important to me, I could not be happier working in it as well.

So without further ado, on to the tour!

When you walk into the apartment you find yourself in the main room. Looking to your left you see the (gas) fireplace and patio. As you can see there is an exposed brick wall which runs the entire length of the open concept space.

I dearly wish we could paint the brick white, but since that’s not allowed, I’m working with the brick instead of against it in the decor to follow.

Here is a view of the back wall of the living room, which is on the same wall as the entry door. The coat closet is that door on the left. I’m hoping that my desk will work in this sunken in space on the right.

When you walk out onto the patio you see in this photo they had not divided the shared outdoor space just yet. There will be a divider where I drew the white line to separate our patio space from our neighbors next door.

The view from here is north-facing north and looks onto some rather unsightly buildings… but considering we’ve never had our own outdoor space in the city before we are still thrilled.

The right side of the main space opens up to the kitchen. It is everything that Mr. Lively (the cook) could ask for. That island is literally the size of my first apartment. I kid you not. It’s about nine feet long. We plan to have some counter stools there for a breakfast bar. And the empty space on the right is for the future refrigerator.

Again, here’s another view, when standing with my back to the fireplace. The coat closet is on the right, then the entry door, and finally the back hallway which leads to the bathrooms and bedrooms.

This is a view of the hallway from the guest room and guest bath looking down to the master bedroom. As you can see there is more exposed brick and a long white wall perfect for art.

A gallery wall is definitely in order.

The first hallway stop is the guest bathroom. It’s pretty basic, but nice. And there is…. wait for it… a real shower stall!

In Chicago that it is extremely rare to find an apartment with a shower stall instead of the bathtub/shower combo. In fact, we are planning on using that guest shower more than the bathtub combo we have in our master bath.

For all of the space we get in the front half of the apartment, we lose it in the bedrooms. This is the guest room (as best I can shoot it). It measures 10′x12′. But it does have a little walk-in closet which is nice.

And if we thought the guest room was a bit on the small side, the master bedroom all the way in the back is even smaller at just 9’9″x12′. It also has just one window which looks into another unit and gets pretty poor natural light.

But despite the design challenges, I’m determined to make this little guy a jewel box. I have big plans for this space. Big plans in a tiny footprint.

So there you have it! A quick little peek at the space as it continues to be completed. We get our keys for the new space next Friday(!!!!!!). This leaves us until Sunday to have ourselves completely transplanted to the new home.

I can’t wait to share how I’ve been designing these rooms with intention… and actually see it come to life!

As with a lot of new builds, this space is very nice, but lacks unique character apart from the brick. So I’ve been working to create personality and style in the decor to fill these rooms and make the space our home.


cheap tricks

September 17th, 2012   |   LifeStyle


Lately I’ve found some inexpensive ways to add a little oomph to my life. Nothing earth-shattering, just stuff that makes makes me smile.

Exhibit A: Candy Corn Oreos

Yes, that’s right. I know these are far from healthy, but when Mr. Lively and I spotted them at Target last night, we had to try.

As an avid candy corn candy pumpkin eater, I heartily approve. Somehow they managed to perfectly manipulate the (artificial) flavors in this treat.


Exhibit B: Lunchskins

Since we are a no zip-lock household, these new Lunchskins are a great way for me to pack Mr. Lively’s breakfasts and lunches. Plus, they are dishwasher safe (!) and have Velcro.

Mr. Lively and I joke that he can tell the quality of his lunches by the quantity of re-used hummus containers he has to take to work. It’s not rare for him to have 5-7 containers each day. So these new baggies save a lot of space in his messenger bag. Plus, I enjoy the cheerful designs.


Exhibit C: Bath and Body Works Candle – Leaves

When it comes to candles I do love me some pretty (and expensive) scents. And though I will splurge here and there on fancy candles, I also like to light them everyday – which can get expensive.

The most economical candle I’ve found with the best fall scent (by far) is Bath and Body Works’ scent, Leaves. It is delicious and not sugary or too sweet. The label also peels off easily so it instantly looks more expensive. And if I light one wick at a time each night, two candles will last me a whole season. Considering that B&BW frequently has two for $20 deals, I patiently wait until they go on sale and grab them for just $10 each.


Any other cheap tricks out there I should know about?

marriage vows

September 17th, 2012   |   Our WeddingRelationships


During our wedding ceremony Mr. Lively and I took turns reading aloud our marriage vows. These joint vows were in addition to our personal vows and now serve as the foundation of our relationship.

Similar to a constitution, we created these vows to last for a very, very long time unchanged. But as we evolve and our family grows, we plan to add amendments to these intentions to suit our future needs.

I had every hope of spending long hours curled by a fire drafting these intentions together. But in reality we discussed a few themes on some runs together, and took the time to write them down at an O’Hare International Airport bar with a Corona in hand.

Not exactly the romantic setting I had in mind… but it worked.

Once we move into our new home, I would like to frame these intentions and hang them on the wall. Then they can serve as daily reminders of what we believe and what we stand for as a couple.

And though our vows are customized to our lives and values, hopefully they might serve as an example of what marriage vows can look like.


Trust is the foundation of our relationship. We trust each other’s loyalty and integrity. 

We choose to love each other through good times and bad, because our marriage is worth it.

We seek first to understand, then be understood. It is important for each person to feel that they have been heard. This is the basis of our communication. 

We are capable individuals responsible for our own happiness. We come together to improve ourselves by helping each other. Our progress in this area will be extended to the world around us.


As you can tell, they aren’t particularly sweet or sentimental. That part of the ceremony was saved for the individual vows we shared with one another after these combined intentions where shared. The purpose of these vows was to provide a framework for us going forward that would help guide our actions.

The first statement is important to us because we believe that trust and loyalty is essential to have a prosperous and positive relationship. The second intention illustrates that love is an action, not a verb. We want to keep this in mind when we have challenges come our way and we may not feel lovey-dovey feelings but still remain dedicated to love in it’s truest form.

The third statement is really for me to keep in mind when we have disagreements. I think this is important to be in our vows so that I can remind myself when emotionally worked up that I have agreed to listen as much as share.

And lastly, we felt it was important to recognize that happiness is not an outcome of our marriage, it is something that we bring to it. I think it would be easy for either of us to blame the other if we are ever feeling unhappy. But the truth is we are both capable, proactive adults.

We do not need our happiness to rest on another person.

If we place too much emphasis on each other’s actions, we rob ourselves of our own strength and ability to create joy from within. It is not our job to make the other person happy. It is our job to share our happiness with one another.

We hope that by living from of this positive, empowered place we will be able to increase our joy and serve one another fully… which is the ultimate goal of these vows and our marriage as a whole.



photo taken by

this week i’m thankful for… perspective

September 14th, 2012   |   Life


This week I’m changing up the normal Things I’m Thankful For series and talking more in-depth about one thankful item in my life at the moment: perspective.

As I’ve mentioned, we are two weeks away from moving to our new apartment. And for the past few months the boxes of inventory and items for the new home are crowding this small one bedroom apartment.

Above is a photo of just some of our box madness sitting in front of my desk and behind the living area.

The makeunder/exfoliator/decorator/clean freak in me has been freaking out.

But last night as I was drifting off to sleep I had the most random analogy pop into my head… from Instagram.

In life we have the ability to add ‘filters’ to our experience. And the clutter and craziness in my home right now is a great place for me to work on changing my perspective when I cannot change the actual reality.

Though the image above was taken without a filter, the image below shows how I could choose to look at this transition phase.

I could look at the mess and get even more upset about it. I could stay frustrated and stare at those boxes and think, “I can’t stand this mess anymore! Something needs to change!” But since there isn’t much I can do, I’ll just stay upset whenever I look at my home.

Not really an intentional way to live life, huh?

Or, I could add a brighter filter on the situation.

Same situation with a lighter, more nostalgic filter. I could look at the mounds of boxes and think, “Though there is definitely a lot of clutter around here, these things are all going to be so beautiful in my new home. And though this apartment isn’t looking so hot, I can still enjoy our last few nights in this phase of our lives. This is where Mr. Lively and I met, and lived as a married couple for the first time. It will always have a special place in my heart.” 

Way more productive, right?

So here’s to the filters that we have the ability to create to frame our experiences and look on the bright side.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!

[sponsor] baubles at your feet

September 13th, 2012   |   LifeWardrobe

 This sponsor post is by Baubles at Your Feet.

Men may wonder, what is it about women and their accessories? Oh there are so many reasons for our ongoing infatuation. Just like a very bad hair day can make a beautiful woman look a beautiful wreck.

The perfect accessory is capable of doing many things.

They can make a boring outfit come to life, give a hint about where we’ve been in life or where we are going, remind us of a cherished Aunt or lost Grandmother. We use them as good luck charms, self-esteem boosters, status symbols and anchors to our past.

And in the case of perfectly crafted brightly colored ballerina flats that fit like a glove; they enable us city dwellers to run like hell for the bus we are about to miss while still looking chic.

Accessories always fit. Those same ten pounds come and go but shoes, earrings, purses and bracelets will never not zip up, regardless of the scale reading.

Yes, I am enamored of jewelry real and costume, scarves, handbags, shoes, and belts and how they make a wardrobe of same look…different. It’s funny because Chicago fashion is largely dictated by the weather, which means most of us are wearing the same types of things at the same time. My super cute maxi dress looked perfectly in place amongst the rest at this summer’s last rooftop party. And when it gets chilly, riding boots and peacoats are de riguer.

If it’s “in” then everyone and her sister is in it. Or so it feels.

There comes a point where jazzing up the old button down isn’t a style choice, it’s practically a necessity, if you want to stand out in a sea of same.

So what’s a girl to do around here to assert her stylish individualism?

Accessories! Yes that girl next to you on the bus may be wearing the same classic sheath dress as you but guaranteed she doesn’t have that silk scarf you found at the thrift store, or your favorite Aunt’s charm bracelet, full of charm and charms she has collected over a lifetime.

You and your two girlfriends may have accidently shown up for a night of imbibing all wearing a black maxi dress but it is unlikely that they also have on a vintage cuff that you lifted from your mom’s jewelry box. You and every other gal may be commuting in sensible black round toe pumps but you are the only one with adorable shoe clips that add a bit of sparkle.

So here’s to accessories and the smile they bring to our face and the individualism they help us assert.


five years

September 13th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It


On August 16th, 2007 I moved into a tiny Chicago studio. My parents helped me U-Haul my belongings from Michigan to my new Lakeview address.

All of the boxes completely covered the floor space in the new apartment. And when I realized that the over-sized closet wasn’t large enough to fit my bed and act as a mini bedroom, I cried.

I really didn’t want to work, live, and sleep within the same four walls. 

Fortunately, I put my belongings away and discovered that though the studio apartment was not large, it was enough.

For weeks I struggled to find a rhythm to my business. Unlike the rest of my peers and boyfriend who moved to Chicago at the same time (we all graduated that May, four months earlier), I had no “start date,” “salary,” or “boss” to look to for answers and guidance.

I had decided to take my part-time jewelry business, which I began when I was fifteen, to the next level by making it my full-time gig. Was the business really ready to support me and my bills? Not at all. I just knew that I was meant to help people “make under” their lives and the jewelry gig was the safest way for me to stay true to that intention.

Had I gotten a day job like my friends I easily would have climbed the corporate ladder. My type-A personality and insistence on pleasing people would have distracted me from my ultimate goal: to help people with a book, tv show, or any other way that I could spread my message of simplifying life.

Over time, I fell into my groove with the business. And though I had my share of anxiety attacks, I saw myself persevere and push through an unending sea of challenges. I saw myself become a stronger person.

At first I did everything for the business myself from designing the jewelry, to making it, and selling it. I worked alone each day and listened to books on tape to keep myself mentally occupied. After the first five months I got my jewelry into 15 stores in Chicago and Michigan.

In order to make friends in the city since I worked alone, I decided to train for a marathon with Team in Training. In the winter. Thankfully, despite the freezing temperatures, I did make a friend.

Each week I knew I needed to sell $1000 worth of jewelry in order to pay my bills. Some weeks it happened easily, others it took a while, once it happened at 5:30 on a Friday. I’ll never forget that Friday.

By January of 2008 I took on my first part-time assistant. I met her while working one day a week at one of the boutiques I sold to. A young customer walked in who looked like she might be a college art student who knew how to make jewelry. Miraculously, I was right.

I also took on interns and sales reps. The reps took my business from 15 accounts to over 100 in 12 months.

They even helped me get a small space at a trade show in LA. Though I had accomplished seemingly so much, I cried that night after the show in my hotel room alone. I didn’t like the wholesale and trade show part of the business. It wasn’t for me.

But fortunately all along the way, though there were many tight moments here and there, I was able to pay my bills in full each month.

Once the recession hit late in 2008, I saw the wholesale market shrink considerably. But rather than try to find new reps or seek more wholesale I decided to stick to keeping things in-house. It made me happier. I also started Makeunder My Life (this blog) on January 19th, 2009 as a place to journal my journey to design a life with intention. I didn’t expect anyone to read it, I just wanted to eventually take the content and compile it into that book proposal that I had in mind.

Though it had taken all my attention and energy the first year and a half to make the business support my life, I didn’t want to end up with a booming business and never take the time to go after my purpose. The blog was my first step towards working my purpose into my career.

Meanwhile, I was living with my college boyfriend in a tiny studio apartment across the street from my tiny studio apartment/corporate headquarters. Our place was so small that we could vacuum the whole place using just one outlet. The only door we had in the whole apartment was on the bathroom. So if we got into a fight and I wanted to pout, I had to put my head in a pillow on the bed… which was just two and a half feet from the couch and four feet from the kitchen.

We lived in that studio apartment for Two. Full. Years.

Oh, and remember that blog that I started to create a book proposal? Because I started to market my jewelry online instead of seeking more wholesale accounts, it started to get readers. Those who clicked from my ad on another blog to my site would then click on my blog link and read along.

Though I honestly never saw that coming, I immediately embraced the opportunity to start helping people right where I was each day. I realized I didn’t need a book or book tour to meet women and help them with their lives. I could do it online.

From that point forward my blog became equally important to me as my business, which paid the bills.

By September of 2009, my boyfriend and I were ready to bust out of that apartment. We found an amazing two bedroom apartment across the street. It had doors and rooms! 

I honestly felt like we had won the lottery.

But just a few months into our shared lease, we realized that we were at different stages in our lives, possibly looking for different futures.

For six months we didn’t know whether we were going to stay together or need time apart.

Eventually by the following Labor Day, we decided we needed time apart in order to know what was truly best for us. But since we shared the lease, we decided to stay together as a couple and live out the lease. Once the lease ended we agreed to break up.

It was one of the hardest summers of my life. In order to be peaceful and loving during that time required more strength and grace than I had ever experienced. I spent each day praying and deepening my spirituality. Though I had learned to rely on my spirituality from the business’ constant uncertainty, this situation took it to a whole new level.

On the business front I decided to re-brand my company. I wanted my brand to reflect my new design perspective and products. I overhauled the logo, site, products, and marketing. Though the new look was beautiful and worth every penny, it didn’t land me on Oprah.

But there is a good side story to Oprah: at one point early in the first few years an Oprah producer lost an earring of mine and needed a new one. I almost fell off the chair, and rushed to give her a replacement. My mom thought my shaking, due to my excitement and a poorly timed energy drink, were going get me hit by a car on the way there. Thankfully, that did not happen. I gave her the earring and she offered me tickets to a show. I selected the Sex and the City movie preview and landed on their b-roll footage walking into the theatre! Later, I was also asked to do a trunk show at the studio in a green room. So freaking cool.

By the time September 1st, 2010 rolled around I was out of my mind excited to decorate my new apartment. After living with a man I wanted some pink in my life! Within 24 hours of living in my new apartment (a one bedroom apartment in the same building) it was fully decorated.

While we were going through the break-up process that summer, I had used the design of the new space to help me find happiness and opportunity during something so heartbreaking.

My first two months as a single girl were fun and challenging. Deciding to stick with the same nice building that I lived in meant that I increased my rent by 50% from the year before. But I knew deep down that I was not meant to suffer because our relationship ended. I didn’t know why it happened in a cosmic sense, but I trusted that I was meant to keep moving forward and thriving.

Two months later I went to a friend’s birthday party. It was just like any other night. While I was there a guy approached me who seemed funny and kind. I asked him to be my “guy friend” and get brunch with me the following morning. Since he was new to the city and also looking to make new friends, he agreed.

That guy happens to be named Mr. Lively. Over the next two weeks we hung out almost daily and he made me laugh to the point of tears almost every time. About a week later I started wondering why he didn’t text me goodnight… All the while I still considered him just “a friend.”

By the time the two week mark hit he kindly visited me at a holiday trunk show I was at for my company. While I deeply appreciated his presence and support at my event, I did not appreciate him talking to the cute girl, named Jessica, at the booth next to mine.

At that point I couldn’t ignore my feelings any longer. I really liked this Mr. Lively. A lot.

From that point on we were inseparable.

Because of my past relationship ending, I spent a lot of time talking about what our intentions are for our lives and futures with Mr. Lively right from the get-go. Luckily for me, he is also a planner and was game for the discussions.

By this point I was getting eager to change things up with my business as well. I decided to try designing handbags, my favorite wardrobe staple. It took me several months to find the right contractor, but I did get to make the bags swirling around in my head.

They were a huge success and they opened me up to the idea that I could design a variety of lifestyle goods. Not just bags and jewelry. I quickly set forth to design anything and everything I could think up. I went from designing two collections a year to eight.

People loved the new selection and the company grew. It was a really fun time, though filled with bumps and steep learning curves.

Eventually my tech-loving dad suggested I design an iPad cover. So I tried my hand at that and quickly outgrew my first manufacturer. It was hard, but eventually I found a new company to work with that could accommodate my inventory needs. But again, I had another steep learning curve to face.

Meanwhile on the blog front I had been getting more and more requests for business consultations. I was happy to take them up on their offers and help them design their businesses with intention. It felt amazing to do what I love the most, helping people, as a career.

By early this year (2012), I decided it would be nice to take the consulting to the next level by offering a workshop for men and women who had similar intentional business goals. I shared this in a small paragraph on my blog one day and I got an email shortly after. The person writing me offered to help plan the workshops and make them happen.

What had just been an idle “wouldn’t it be nice if” immediately became priority number one.

I spent the first half of this year creating the workshop with this new-found friend and held events in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York. We had hoped to do even more this year, but juggling the accessory business, consulting, workshops, blog, and my life became too much to handle.

This year Mr. Lively and I had also grown considerably. On May 30th he asked me to be his wife. Four days later after a lot of wedding talk, we decided to elope to Paris.

The summer was a whirlwind of business juggling and trip planning. I savor every minute of the past several months, but I had plenty of anxiousness while trying to juggle everything on my plate.

Yet once we landed in France, it was time to relax. We spent nine wonderful days exploring Paris.

And somewhere during that trip August 16th, 2012 passed quietly. The five year anniversary of my life in Chicago. It is truly astounding to think of where I started this journey and where the five year mark landed me. There were more highs and lows than I would have been able to comprehend had you whispered the story to me early on.

But that’s the thing about designing a life with intention. You can do your best to seek your happiness and often you will be right. And other times you’ll find that challenges you never expected can lead to happy endings… or beginnings.



free september wallpaper

September 12th, 2012   |   Life


download full-size white wallpaper here

download full-size flower wallpaper here

September has been flying by so quickly I am a bit tardy in sharing this month’s free wallpaper.

I decided on “this moment is exactly as it should be” because I am finding my anticipation for our move the weekend of September 28th very hard to contain. I am so, so, so, so, so excited for the extra space, new home to decorate, and the new chapter of our lives that is just around the corner. But when I focus so hard on the future, I take the present moment for granted.

I still gotta live in my now house too. Even if it’s cramped and over-crowded with boxes.


I met Mary over the summer when we were both doing some work for The Everygirl, and she was one of those people I instantly felt like I had known my whole life. She’s witty, generous, and absolutely hilarious. Mary recently made the leap of faith to stay in Chicago following her internship with The Everygirl (she’s originally from Florida). I knew she would have some inspiring intentions to share, and she did not disappoint. What I love most is how specific she was about her intentions. Instead of just  intending to “have fun” she intends to “karaoke.” Awesome, right? Read on for more, and I’ll see you guys next week. -Caitlin

Rain is one of my favorite sights and sounds. There is something so beautiful and cozy about a good storm, and I hope to never loose that appreciation for it. I intend to enjoy a thunderstorm curled up with a good book and hot tea for the rest of my life. I hope to never get too annoyed when rain changes my plans or makes my hair look like a wet dog, instead I hope to dance and play and kiss in the rain. Even on my wedding day.

I need to really work on letting things go. Negative people, not getting the job, past relationships to name a few. I have a tendency to hold onto and dwell on things that I have no control over. When giving advice I always say “ya gotta let it go”, but I can’t even take my own advice! That is one thing easier said than done. In the coming weeks and months I am going to make a concerted effort to let go of things in my past. Even if I have to write it all down and then rip it up and throw it away, I will do my best to move on and let go.

Yes, you read that right! Karaoke. It really is a favorite past-time of mine and I’ll tell you why. I have always dreamt (just like every other girl in the world) of being on stage in front of thousands of fans, belting my heart out. So, a tiny stage and fifty cheering, drunk people satisfies this dream. All eyes on me for three minutes, beer in hand, lyrics on the screen…is there anything better?! Oh yeah, making friends with the DJ so you get called up ten times per night ;)

There are so many excuses I have been given or have given myself as to why a relationship won’t work. Many times, instead of just trying it out, going on a date, or simply talking with someone who I wouldn’t deem my “type” I have written people off who could have potentially become, at the very least, a friend. Intentionally or not, I have had my heart closed to so many people and things. When it comes to boys and relationships, my head has always ruled over my heart, and honestly, I am ready for that to change. It is time I listened to that blood-pumping organ, I have a feeling it will lead me to something amazing or even lead me back to a person, place, or thing that I may have overlooked.

This one is really easy for me. Is that cheating? I have never ever had trouble with laughing. I laugh (OK maybe it’s more of a cackle) at basically anything: when someone trips, awkward silences, “that’s what she said” jokes, when I’m really excited, at myself trying to be sexy. It’s something I love about myself and hope I never loose. When I’m 50 years old and laying in bed with my husband, I hope I still get into fits of uncontrollable laughter for no reason at all. They say laughing is the best medicine and I think whoever “they” is, is right.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


Tonight is Chicago’s Business in the City! The details about the free business meet-up are here. We’ll be meeting up at 6:30-8:00 in the back room of Next Door, 659 W. Diversey. Next Door asks that you RSVP on their site if you plan on coming.

After tonight, our next meet-up is on October 17th, so mark your calendars for that date as well.


moving forward after hearing “no”

September 11th, 2012   |   Think About It


Today I’m over on The Everygirl sharing three things to keep in mind after hearing an “important no,” as I like to call it.

Sometimes things happen for a (good) reason.

You can read the article here.


photo by via


Tomorrow’s Wish I Knew Wednesday topic is all about training assistants and interns. As a solopreneur grows a business, management often becomes a new role… and one that may not feel intuitive at first. Tomorrow I’l share my experience and tips from working with interns and assistants over the past four and a half years.

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.)


new Jess LC lucite trays and stationery

September 11th, 2012   |   Style


Today I’m excited to announce that we have two new collections over at Jess LC. We now have fresh stationery and brand new lucite trays!

We partnered with Pencil Shavings Studio to create incredible gold and white lucite trays (that are interchangeable, so you can swap out the patterns as often as you like and order more than one pattern for the same tray).

For the patterns, we decided to go for my favorite color combination of all time: gold and white. Then, we chose three different looks. Bold stripes, arrows that coordinate with our new stationery, and our own Jess LC logo pattern. You can shop them all in the Randolph Collection.

Next, we worked with Fig. 2 Design Studio on some new folded note card sets for the shop as well. We chose a gold and white theme for the Arrow Thank You cards and the Jess LC coral for the Hey There set. You can shop these little guys in the Webster Collection.

And last but not least, we created a Hostess with the Mostess package that combines any tray with either stationery set at a combined discount. We think this could be a super cute housewarming gift or wedding present.

As usual, we have a lookbook for the collections as well which has much more inspiration. In order to make this lookbook and launch possible, I’d like to thank Caitlin Brown for styling and Stacia Albiston for graphic design.


rooftop party

September 10th, 2012   |   FoodLifeStyle


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I celebrated our marriage with our friends both near and far by throwing a rooftop party.

Our intention with the party was to make it beautiful and as stress-free as possible.

When creating a vision for the party, I imagined using our apartment building’s roof deck. For decor, I got color inspiration from the pops of blue in our wedding ceremony. We also agreed that we should incorporate all the foods we wanted to have at a traditional wedding reception: a build your own mini-slider bar, mac and cheese, my favorite cupcakes, a signature cocktail, and craft beer.

To help us keep things manageable, we decided to only cook the sliders and buy prepared foods for the rest of the meal. After a rather very stressful Fourth of July party earlier this year, we knew that it would be nice if we cooked everything ourselves… but definitely not necessary.

So we took a few trips to Cost Co and Binny’s and wound up with a fridge that looked like this.

Since we had over 50 friends to serve, this fridge is just a fraction of the goods we had to bring down the the roof deck. To help speed the process along, we borrowed the building’s moving cart to load up all the items we needed in batches.

We also we were extremely fortunate that my best friend and “maid of honor,” Maggie, and her fiance, Tony, were on hand to help us prepare. Due to their enormous help and enthusiasm, we were able to get the whole party prepped in about three or four hours.

Here’s a rundown of the party in photos.

photo via Cathy 


The night before the party, Maggie invited my girlfriends out to celebrate my marriage in a “bachelorette-like” party. But since I was already married and had no interest in a tiara or phallic-anything, we dubbed it a “Mrs. Party.” We met at my favorite swanky bar, The Bedford, and drank nice cocktails. It was the perfect low-key way to spend time with some of my closest friends.

The next morning I was so happy to discover we had the perfect warm-but-cool weather for the party. Our only weather related challenge was the wind in the afternoon, which made affixing tablecloths near impossible a challenge.

We purchased serving dishes for the event, which we will use forever-after as well. We decided on white dishes so we can evolve our collection over time. In fact, our bowls seen here are from my Grandpa’s collection and the rectangle dishes are from Crate and Barrel Outlet. Because the lines of all the dishes are clean and simple, we will be able to expand the collection endlessly into the future and still remain coordinated.

You will also notice the white table cloth. Those are actually three large white plastic table cloths purchased with the other party supplies. We used a liberal amount of clear packing tape to ensure that the granite table was covered and would not get blown away. At the end of the night all we needed to do for clean up was remove the tablecloths and throw them away – which definitely beat scrubbing down the giant granite bar by hand. The white covering also created a great backdrop for my color scheme as well. Had we just left the regular dark pink granite as-is, I don’t think the party would have felt as pulled together.

We also picked up a big metal wine bucket at Target earlier in the summer which worked perfectly with our white dishware. Under the table the beers were stashed in a cooler.

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to have a cocktail station. Mr. Lively and I are usually not cocktail people, but I thought it would be nice to serve the one cocktail I adore: the Classic St. Germain. Each of those beakers has marks which indicate how much St. Germain, soda water, and champagne should be added for a perfectly prepared drink.

Our blue napkins and gold(!) plastic silverware, plates, and silo cups were the major pops of color for the table. I ordered them online here. (As you can tell, Mr. Lively let me pick the decor for the event.)

We also lucked out on this caddy for about $7, which happened to be the exact same blue as the napkins, at the Crate and Barrel Outlet. It was a pure fluke.

Because we indulged in amazing cheese while at our cooking class in Paris, we decided to serve fancy French cheese to our party. Mr. Lively splurged on these incredible French cheeses found at Pastoral. Besides the cocktails, they were the biggest hit at the party.

We scored the white marble cheese plate for just $19.95 at Crate and Barrel the day before the party.

On the other side of the table we had an array of cheeses for the mini sliders. My favorite find for the party was the batch of chalkboard stickers  from World Market. They were super easy to label (they come with the chalk in the package), and because they stuck to the table cloth, we didn’t have to worry about them blowing away.

By 4:00 we were all set for guests. Here are the two fantastic people that helped us make the party such a hit, Maggie and Tony.

Our friend Ryan acted as bartender and mixed up the St. Germain cocktails.

Once the grilled veggies for the sliders were ready, Mr. Lively dished them out on disposable serving trays. Again, more easy clean up.

People had a great time mingling and hanging out.

Mr. Lively was Husband of the Year and made sure everyone had as many sliders as they pleased and made sure I didn’t get too stressed.

And he also took the time to hang out with his friends visiting from Kansas City.

I was lucky enough to have friends from my hometown, Rochester, Michigan, travel from all parts of the country. Thank you Maggie (New York), Catherine (Georgia), and Krista (Michigan).

It was a treat to also spend time with my girls from the University of Michigan, too. Marisa, Maggie, and I call ourselves The Tribunal.

A few hours into the party we served our cupcakes. My all time favorite, Magnolia.

By the time we ran out of beer (again), it was time to head over to Matilda’s for a 90′s dance party.

I am so incredibly grateful for such a fun-filled party with those we love. It definitely hit the refined and relaxed intention we were going for. I hope that some of our party decisions might come in handy for others planning big bashes.


this week i’m thankful for

September 7th, 2012   |   Life


This week I am incredibly thankful for my light bulb moment about sharing my life here more on the blog. From your supportive comments I can tell I really did hit the nail on the head.

I’m also thankful for tomorrow’s Wedding Bash Mr. Lively and I are throwing for our friends. It will be a chic Chicago-style rooftop party. There will be a build-your-own mini slider bar, snacks, my favorite dessert, and lots of craft beer. These were all the foods we wanted at our wedding, had we not eloped, so they are making their way into our rooftop menu.

Since I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’ve approached the party intentionally to keep things beautiful, but pretty low-key. I’ll share more on my party plan next week.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on Monday!

packing with intention

September 6th, 2012   |   LifeStyle


Over the past few weeks a few people have asked me to talk about how I packed for our nine day trip to Paris on Twitter and the JL Facebook page.

At first I just answered their questions as best I could without any real plan to write a full post about it. Because let’s be honest, I’m not an “expert” at packing. I’m sure there are many articles and posts out there that would do a much better job and have much more helpful information.

But as I mentioned in my light bulb moment, I did approach my packing with intention and I can share my method as well as what I’ve learned since the trip that might be helpful for others, even though I’m not atravel pro.

Due to the fact that I was running around like a mad woman preparing the businesses for our extended leave, prepping the wedding posts, and helping Mr. Lively code the new look for the blog, I did not document much of my actual packing process.

In fact, that image above is all I’ve got.

So, I will explain in words and also “recreate” a few of the more helpful aspects of my packing intention.

The first thing I did was create a vision. Way before getting the suitcase out from the closet, I envisioned what I wanted to wear on the trip, how I wanted to look, and what things we wanted to do. Because this was my wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one, I really wanted to look cute and stylish. And for me, that meant lots of summer dresses.

I also knew I would need to pack layers in case it got cold at night, and I wanted a lot of shoe options. This vision also helped me during my wedding gift shopping spree to get the right pieces for the week as well as my wardrobe at large.

Then, once it was time to pack, I pulled out the items that matched my vision and made sure that there were at least two different ways I could wear each item (dresses excluded). I’m notorious for being such a minimalist packer that I often find myself wishing I brought more clothing, so this trip I made sure to pack as liberally as my travel gear would allow.

Here’s a pretty quick rundown of the major items I packed:

  • Summer dresses (4)
  • Dinner dresses (2)
  • Wedding dress (1)
  • Pencil skirt (1)
  • Blazer (1)
  • Jeans (2)
  • Shoes (8)
  • Handbags (3)
  • Colored jeans (1)
  • Tops (5)
  • Cardigan (1)
  • “Honeymoon pajamas” hint, hint (3)
  • Running shoes (1)
  • Workout gear (2 outfits)
  • Socks and underwear (9)

To transport the items I split them across a large suitcase, small carry on suitcase, and a dress/garment bag that I got for free from BCBG with the purchase of some of the dresses.

The wedding dress, blazer, and delicate dresses all made it into the same garment bag. During the flight they were (thankfully) cared for by the Air France flight attendants.

The other wedding day items were all packed in the carry on suitcase just in case something happened to the checked bag. I also stashed my blow dryer and curling iron in the small case.

This left the large suitcase for shoes, liquids, and casual clothing. Our hefty power converter was tucked into Mr. Lively’s carry on.

And though there was not much room left in my suitcases, our gifts and purchases did later get split among our travel gear, with the bulk of the items stored in Mr. Lively’s large and small suitcases.

One new element I added to my packing routine which paid off well was my shoe organization. For the first time in my life I’ve been actually “investing” in nice shoes (which to me is anything over $50), and I wanted to pack them with more care than my usual big Bag’o’Shoes.

So I created a better Bag’o’Shoes.

I wrapped the ballet flats in tissue paper like burritos. (Note: colored tissue can bleed onto shoes, so keep that in mind when packing light colors or delicate fabrics.)

When it came to my sweet new suede shoes, I kept them in the original plastic bags with the tissue to help them keep their shape and not put undue pressure on the suede texture.

So after prepping them all, I ended up with these Shoe Burritos. As you can see I also used plastic bags for sturdier shoes, too.

Next it was time to stack them in rows in the Bag’o’Shoe Bag.

And voila! My easy to pack shoe carrier. As for the blue satin wedding shoes, those were safely tucked in their box every moment they were not worn.

When it came to handbags, I was really pleased with what I packed. The tote was great for our day in London to carry cameras and gifts. The little “fancy” purse was great for nights out when cameras weren’t necessary. And the blue beauty was part of my wedding gift and became the star of the trip. He was the perfect size for our DSLR and Instax Mini.

In fact, when it got heavy after a long day of wandering the Parisian streets, Mr. Lively carried it as well.


Looking back on the trip, there were things I never wore at all and things that I wished that I had packed in the first place. Here’s what I would have done differently:

  • Less shoes. The red and green pair I brought were not comfortable enough to wander for hours and coulda stayed home.
  • Shorts!Oh how I longed for a pair of nice shorts to wear after days of dresses. I never would have guessed that after looking “super cute” for so long I’d want to just relax a bit. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
  • More cardigans. I only brought one and once I used it as a “blanket” to sit on under the Eiffel Tower, I didn’t want to wear it the rest of the trip.

So there you have it! I hope this is helpful for others taking big trips like this in the future.


life with intention

September 6th, 2012   |   Life

To be honest, it’s 11:30pm and I just had an epiphany after watching Sarah’s House. So I’m writing while Mr. Lively falls fast asleep in bed and my mind races with inspiration at my desk.

For those who might not watch HGTV, Sarah’s House is a show about Sarah Richardson designing homes new and old with great intention, room by room. The beauty of her shows is that she shares the intentions of her designs as well as the challenges that she overcomes.

There was many a day that I sat in front of her show watching her work through setbacks with building, production, and manufacturing while I was designing bags for Jess LC for the first time. The nitty-gritty and not-so-pretty of business is not often divulged on TV or in business in general. So I devoured her honest depiction of her obstacles. And at the end of each show there is a beautiful room to show for all her hard work, hustle, and quick thinking which kept me pressing on in my own design process.

It’s incredibly satisfying for me as a designer and business woman. It makes my own challenges less scary and more handle-able.

And every so often I dream of being like Sarah as a person. So when Mr. Lively has an offhand comment that my hair or outfit seems to look “Sarah-like,” my heart soars.

True story.

But the point of this post is not about Sarah Richardson, no matter how much I admire her.

The point is about why I admire her and how that relates to this very blog. I have just realized that while I’m juggling a huge year in my life, I’ve been in many ways “hiding” it here. Sure you can see a quick summary of my week on Fridays during my This Week I’m Thankful For posts, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

And honest posts about handling anxiety like this week’s Worry Chain don’t really get the point home either. Not really.

Though I’ve been quick to offer up solutions and tips that help me handle stress in my life which might be helpful, I have not really been sharing the process of designing this year with intention. Or at least not far beyond our recent elopement and wedding planning.

And as my worry chain depicts, there are many, many changes in our future which have been stressing me out. Moving, decorating a beautiful home, raising a puppy, hosting two major parties, adjusting to marriage, and juggling three businesses during the holiday season are among my “worry links” for the next four months. But those same events are also those I am approaching with much care and intention – which is really causing all the stress I’m feeling in the first place.

I really want to do these next parts of my life with intention and that is what occupies my mind. It’s a blessing when done without anxiety and a curse when over-thinking.

But rather than share that here with you in hopes that my intentions might help others in similar life phases, or at least illustrate that we all have the chance to design these life changes with personal intention, I have kept them relegated to short pithy phrases on Fridays.

I’m not sharing the journey like Sarah does on her show which I admire (and appreciate) so greatly.

And it’s all because I’ve chosen to approach those aspects of my life without sharing them here, thinking they would not be of any interest to you.

But really, what I’ve just realized is that “designing a life and business with intention” is really about this life that I’m leading and juggling right now!  Those things that occupy my mind every moment only make up a fraction of a post at the end of the week. This is unbalanced.

Instead of keeping those things away from my content, I could be sharing them here, just like I did with the elopement. My decisions and intentions are not meant to be “mandates on how others should live their lives” but rather indications of how customized personal intentions can really be.

I need to celebrate those silly worry chain items here on the blog and embrace the fact that they will not work out perfectly, but with intention, they can help me get to where I want to be in my life.

So these next four months I will be sharing my move, decorating, marriage (with Mr. Lively’s permission), puppy, and businesses. I will let you in on the decisions I’m making now which will impact the outcome of each and every one of these things in my life.

I hope you join me for this crazy ride.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be intentional.


Reach Out

Want to learn how to live from Values-based intentions?

I run an online course, Life With Intention Online, to share exactly how to do just that. Sign up for updates and special bonuses here. (The next class will most likely begin in late 2015.)

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Have a question about your intention tattoo order? Please email Ashley at jess(at)jesslc(dot)com directly.


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