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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) 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!













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