Monday, January 30, 2012

Fear of all Fears – Taxes (& paper work)

By Matt Hunsberger

My husband already knows this all too well, but now I’m admitting to you all that I’m a fearful person.

I’m afraid of heights (there’s a pill for that), I’m afraid of flying (pill for that, too, please), I’m afraid of the dentist (laughing gas for that), I’m afraid of giving blood - or rather, the fainting that goes with it (I’m a fainter), and I’m afraid of big social gatherings (there’s alcohol for that).

But at this point in the growth of my business, it’s time to file for a Tax ID. I know I should have done it a long time ago, but I haven’t, because, well, I’m afraid of that too.

Since the “creation” of Believe Notes, I’ve been going about my business without a whole ton of accountability. It’s scary to admit that, but it’s true and I’ve been very, very casual about how I do business. I feel like once I have a Tax ID, I am no longer just somebody that’s doing this design thing casually, but somebody that has a real business and is being held accountable by those crazy Tax people. I don’t know who they are, but damn, they are scarier than the dentist.

Last year I actually reached out to The Company Corporation to file for a Tax ID number. I even paid the fee and filled out all the forms, but then, right at the end, I got cold feet and shredded the paperwork. I’m not proud of that. But for some reason I am just really, really afraid of the whole tax thing.

I think part of my fear of taxes is my fear of failure. I’m terrified that I’m going to fail at my business because I’m not good enough at paper work and bookkeeping. I mean, I love stationery design, why can’t I continue doing that without having to bother with the paper work? (Hint, hint, I think it’s illegal)

So this year I am doing it. I am filing for my Tax ID number. We’ve already made an appointment with our tax guy – OK, so I chickened out and couldn’t make the appointment myself, luckily I have a husband that did it for me (and then bought me a lollipop and juice box too).

I’ll also be honest and say that I probably wouldn’t have decided to file for my Tax ID number if it weren’t for the fact that I need it to register for attending the National Stationery Show, happening this May. My desire to attend this year, and meet all my fellow Mintie designer friends, has far outweighed my fear of the tax gremlins. Thank you, Minted & the Minted Community for giving me the boost in motivation to go ahead and start this process. You’re all so inspiring, and truly, while I don’t want to let myself down, I really don’t want to let you all down either!

So, up until I meet with our tax guy, I’ll be considering things like possibly changing my business name to be my personal name – what do you think of Jackie Mangiolino Design Studio? I don’t know. It seems a little too real for me! Ha, see, I’m already chickening out…..But really, I want to keep things as easy as possible, and if the tax people say a different business model/name will be easier, well then I’m doing it!

Anyway, were any of you as afraid as I am? Is this going to be as painful as I’m anticipating? Is the bookkeeping really impossible? Do you have any tips?? I could certainly use some encouragement

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Makes My Blog So Special?

WARNING: This is going to be a long post, and things might get a little deep. I’ve gone back and forth and re-written this post a million times already. As my husband knows, anytime I start a statement with “I’ve been thinking….” there’s usually something pretty major about to go down. So, here goes nothing.

I’ve been thinking.

About this blog, about my brand, about myself, about my contributions, my value, and my future. I’ve really, really, really been thinking.

What I think is that this blog is missing something – or rather, was missing something (but I’ll touch on that in a few moments).

This blog started out as a crazy idea and, without a ton of thought, I started writing it. Since I had already been doing some stationery work, I decided to have my blog follow along under the umbrella of stationery, but it was all sort of haphazard. The problem is that my early blog was that of a newbie designer that didn’t have a ton of confidence, because well, I didn’t really know who I was or what I stood for. That’s definitely changed.

My blog lacked direction, intention, and an overall sense of “special-ness”. My blog did not accurately portray who I am as a person.

Let me tell you a little of why I think that happened. I allowed myself to become intimidated. I mean, I’m a good designer, but maybe I’m not that good; and I’m a good writer, but damn, “so-and-so” is freaking amazing! I let the focus of my blog shift because I was so afraid that other people would start comparing me to some other mysterious unknown entity. My fear of judgment seemed to have, unintentionally, allowed the topics on my blog to shift from business-driven to personal-driven. Because, hey, I don’t mind being judged as a person, I am who I am and proud of it, but as a new business person, I was definitely a little less secure.

Anyway, lately I’ve been thinking; and I think I’ve found my missing link. I’ve finally found some confidence. Over the past few years, I have grown tremendously as both a person and a designer. I have also grown tremendously in my professional 9-5 job within Talent Development. Looking back, I am sad that I didn’t write more about my experiences as an insecure newbie. I’ve learned a lot and I believe it would have been a valuable thing to have documented. Not just for readers, but for myself. I also wish I had combined a little more of what I really do for a living (Talent Development and Industrial/Organizational Psychology) with my passion for stationery, design and all things pretty. I seemed to have tried to create a divide between the different aspects of myself, part of me is a designer, part of me is an I/O specialist, part of me is a wife, etc etc - in reality, I'm not parts of myself, I am me. All of me, all together, all at once. I am one person that's doing a lot of things. And that right there is missing link number two. My blog needed to be a little less about what I thought would make readers happy, and a little more about would have made me happy. So moving forward, that’s how it’s going to be.

That’s what is going to make my blog special. The fact that it is mine, and the fact that nobody else has my expertise. (yes, I said it, I have expertise, and if you continue to read my blog, you’ll find out more about what it is!)

So, from now on out, I don’t want you to only view this blog as “Believe Notes”, but also as “Jackie Mangiolino” as in me, the person. I promise to write about the things that are important to me; the things I have learned, the things I continue to learn, the tips and tricks I pick up, and the real, honest successes and failures that little business people, like me, face. I am not perfect and I will not pretend to be. I’m a little a lot quirky, I have a wild, slightly dry sense of humor, and I am one ambitious little lady. I am passionate not only about stationery design, but about people as individuals and professionals. I spend 9 hours a day coaching people through their professional careers, and I would love to share some of that insight as well.

I can’t predict the future, but I would like to think that by having a blog that better reflects me, I’ll end up with readers that really understand and appreciate my thoughts.

Welcome to my new blog, I hope you enjoy the ride.

PS - do you like the opening graphic? I'm thinking of turning it into a stamp to sell in my Etsy shop :) I heart my mom :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Melany Lane Tutorial, Using Glyph/Character Options In Your Font Pack

Good morning everybody! I've received a lot of questions and emails regarding "fancy" fonts and how to use the extra ligatures, glyphs and swashes that come with them. To be honest, when I first started designing, I didn't even know there was such a thing as glyphs and swashes, and I especially didn't know about buying a font. I know, crazy! Now I know that most good glyphs come from purchased fonts. (NOTE - please PLEASE buy your fonts as opposed to trying to download free pirated versions. Artists spend a shit ton of time creating beautiful fonts and deserve the credit and revenue from your purchasing their font legitimately. Not to mention it's illegal to rip a font off).

I also didn't know that when you do purchase a font, you usually purchase a font family, or a group of options for the same font. Think the same font, but in bold, regular and italic.

Font families came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and while many fonts have different ligatures and glyphs, often script fonts tend to have the largest selection , especially swashes. Swashes are those pretty swirly things you see throughout the font that look almost like calligraphy. It took me a long time to figure out how to get fancy fonts to look so, well, fancy. The first script font I was ever in awe of was the classic Burgues Script, by Alejandro Paul aka Ale Paul, co-founder of Sudtipos. (On a side note, Ale Paul is front Argentina, which is also where my husband is from - which means I love Ale Paul just that much more). Bugues a very popular formal script, used frequently in wedding invitations, I own and love the font myself.  The swashes are what's so recognizable about it.  The below is the stock sample of Burgues, which you might just recognize:

Pretty, right? Anyway, I won't be using Burgues for this tutorial, but instead I'll be using Melany Lane, which I blogged about a while back, when the beauty was on sale. I received a few questions about the font, which I think were more questions about how to use swashes in general, and so I thought I would do a step-by-step of how I use the font.

DISCLAIMER: I have never done a tutorial before and by no means claim to be a pro at this. It's probably going to be a hot mess. If you want better instructions refer to the top right hand corner of your internet page where you probably have a sidebar titled "google"

OK, let's get started.

First, I do all of my design work in Adobe Illustrator - I have Creative Suite 4. So I open up Illustrator, and start with a blank sheet.

 When working on type design, I make sure that my workspace is also in Typography. In the upper right hand corner there is a little button for workspaces - I always select Typography.

After that, you can create a text box, hopefully you already know how to do that, but if not, here's a screen shot. The shaded box is the type box.

Type a phrase. I chose "Love is Beauty"

If you don't already have your type window open, you'll want to open it. On the top bar, click windows>type>character. This will add the window to your side bar.

Once you do that, you'll be able to access your type options.

Note - when you open the box, the type will automatically be whatever font your text is currently. At the bottom of the box you'll have to click and select the font you want to use. In this case, it's Melany Lane. 

Once you select the font, your type will change to the selection, as will all of the characters in your sidebar box. 

The make the characters bigger (because some of us refuse to wear our glasses), you'll notice two icons at the bottom of the box that look like little mountains. Click the bigger of the two mountains. (I'm sure mountains is not the technical term, remember, you can google a real tutorial if you want to!)

Great, so now that we can see what we're doing. Let's move on to actually making our type pretty. There are lots of options within the little type window, you can look at specific letters, swashes or characters, but for the purpose of this tutorial we'll use the entire font - that's how I first learned, too.

So, if it isn't already there, click on the top of the box where it says "show" and then click "entire font". 

As you can see, there are lots of options. You can play with these on your own once your  more comfortable with the process. 

Now we go back to the type we put in before. The "Love is Beauty". We want to make it prettier by inserting the fancy characters from the character box. All you have to do is find the new character you want and click on it, that will insert it into your text for you. You can first delete the letter you want to replace with something fancier, in my case I want to make the "L" fancy.  As you can see in the screen shot, I deleted the boring "L", went to the side box and found a fancy "L", which is highlighted blue. Then I simply clicked it.

Easy as pie. 

I moved on to make the rest of the text pretty, by doing the same process with the "B" the "t" and the "y". The letter "y" is always so much fun to play with, there are usually lots of swash options in most any script font. 

...and there you go! A new, improved, pretty text that uses glyphs :)

Remember earlier when I mentioned all of the other options that you can select by clicking the "show" button at the top of the type/glyph box? Well you can go back to that at any point and select the specific thing you're looking for. Maybe you want the perfect terminal (ending) form? So click one of the options available and see what you get.

Go ahead, play around and have fun!

I hope this was helpful for some of you, and may I remind you again that I'm not a pro at tutorials. I'm sure you can find some really in depth videos on Youtube or through a Google search, so feel free to look around there too. And if you are a designer and have a pro tip, feel free to share it here as well!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


We're on day 14 of project New Kitchen and we're starting to wind down. We still have lots and lots to do, but I'm majorly proud of my husband for all of the hard work he's done over the past two weeks. What started as new hardwood floors turned into a new kitchen and then turned into new track lighting and then turned into replacing all of the doors in the home. What started out *small* became rather large, and our home has totally transformed almost in Extreme Makeover style. I'm blown away by the whole process and cannot wait to see everything when it's totally done in two weeks, when our quartz counters arrive.

Oh a side note, anybody else have quartz? How totally cool is it when they come and measure for the template? The poor guy that came to do ours yesterday was surrounded by my husband, my dad and myself. We were like little kitchen stalkers in awe of his process. As he measured and surveyed and lazered and digitized (among other equally cool things), he had his own little audience full of "ohhh!!" and "wow! did you see that?!". He definitely thinks we're freaks.

Anyway, it's snowing here in NYC right now and it's the first snow we've had this winter. It's super pretty and while I'd love to go to the park and enjoy it, I really need to get back to cleaning my home. And eventually, I really need to get back to designing. This two week hiatus has been painful, and I cannot wait to start working on some fun projects I have lined up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Resoluations - Future Letter

Better late than never, right? And even betterer if the resolution involves being better??? (Betterer is a word, according to my 5-year-old cousin, and if it works for him, it works for me)
I managed to squeeze in one last post back in December to recap some of what 2011 was for me. Reading that post again, I think I need to revisit that while 2011 was indeed a year of growth,  it was not necessarily a year of "bettering".  Not totally sure if that makes sense to you, but it's the only way I can think of it in my head. Oh, and keep in mind I haven't had my morning coffee yet.  It seems that 2011, for me, was a year of settling into "newness" and with that "settling" also came growth. To be honest, I didn't really seek out that growth, it just happened. I wasn't growing for a particular reason other than to keep up with my life, not that that's a bad thing, because I grew anyway, but this year I want to grow with intention to be better.

So 2012 is going to the year of being better.

Jess Constable from Makeunder My Life does this awesome thing called a "Future Letter" where she sums up her years resolutions in the form of a letter to herself in the vantage point of her already accomplishing the goals at the end of the year. I think it's a fun way to write out some goals so I'm going to give it a shot.

Let's now pretend it's the end of 2012, and I'm writing a letter to myself, as a pat on the back for all I've accomplished.

Dear Jackie, 

          Wowza! 2012 was an amazing year, wasn't it! The past twelve months have been a wild ride, but you handled it with grace and composure, such a lady you are! (Ok, am I taking this too far??? Read on...). It's not easy living through a home renovation, and even though your home isn't huge, the challenges were still, well, challenging. You dove into the new year, back in January, by ripping up ALL of your floors and doing a DIY kitchen renovation. They came out so great that you moved on to renovate the second bathroom as well. You've now got a beautiful home, that's mostly finished and decorated, and you can relax and enjoy it without having to plan the next major renovation. *phew*.
          When tax season came around, you finally decided to make your business legit. Yes, you finally got yourself a Tax ID Number for Believe Notes and have been growing your business guilt-free. Taxes stink, and the book keeping is challenging, but the business is better for it. You can now enjoy all sorts of great designer discounts which have allowed you offer new products at reasonable prices. 
          On the topic of prices, you did a great job of putting together pricing sheets, paper options,  invitation suite options, and so on. You're life is crazy, but that doesn't mean it can't be better organized! Your customers are super happy for the easy info too! Job well done!
          Let's talk new products; 2012 was the year that you became a better designer tenfold. You used more of your hand drawn illustrations in your designs, you finally launched your wedding suites (rather successfully, you foxy lady, you!), you started selling custom rubber stamps in your Etsy shop, and you mastered the art of staging photos. Lady, you're on a roll!! You attended the National Stationery Show and finally got to meet so many of your Mintie friends for real - they ROCK ROCK ROCK! It's still a blessing to be part of the Minted community.
          This past year, I'm proud to say, you overcame your fear of networking and have made new friends in the design world. You're Twitter has tons of followers because people are just really damn interested in everything you have to say (HA!). OK, seriously, you've been more active in the blogging community, the Twitter community, and you've began advertising your brand. You're realizing that it's OK to reach out to people, ask questions and be vulnerable. That's what makes you human and relatable, it's what makes people understand that business don't happen out of thin air, and everybody has a secret challenge that can be overcome. It also gives you great material to blog about. Double whammy.
          You're still enjoying the feeling of being a semi-newly-wed with Mr. Law, and he is still safe and sound after every day (night?) of work. After a lack of traveling in 2011, you've managed to take 2012 by storm. You've gotten out of the country and had plenty of time to act like newly weds again. No, you still aren't thinking about children. Although you don't mind hanging out with other peoples' munchkins, there's something that happens when children become tired/hungry where you're reminded that, deep down, you still think of children as scary little aliens meant for other people to endure 24/7. Harsh? Maybe. Got the point? Definitely. Are you ready? NO!
         Corporate world is still treating you well. You've had tremendous growth over the past year and are a better coach, practitioner and I/O professional because of the experience. You no longer shake every time you board the corporate plane. OK, you shake a little, but you don't need meds anymore. 
          On that note, let me take one more chance to congratulate you on a year well done. You've had your bumps and bruises, but you're BETTER for all of it. Not just a better designer, but a better person. You're a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend, a better professional and a better designer.
                           Warm regards, 
                                      Future Jackie :)

I can't wait to check in at the end of 2012 and see if the above letter is accurate. I sure hope so. Does anybody else write a future letter to themselves? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Area Rug Bargains!

Yesterday while the men were finishing up some demo work in the kitchen, my mom and I sneaked away for a little while to find some area rugs. We went to our favorite store, Home Goods, and hit the total JACKPOT! After 45 minutes we managed to find two area rugs, plus a dresser. I didn't have room in the car for the dresser, but there's a good chance I'll be back at the store today to pick it up.

The first rug I purchased is an orange area rug. I love orange.  Actually, you may remember this post, where I lusted over an orange dhurrie rug from West Elm. Well, the rug I purchased is a look a-like, and it was originally $150, but I had gift cards and snagged the rug for only $87! SCORE!!!

The second rug I purchased was an impulse buy. I have this ongoing joke with my husband were I find crazy things at stores and send him pictures asking to buy them. I like crazy things, and need to test the waters. Let it be known that I have never purchased something my husband hated, his opinion matters a boatload to me, this is his home too! Anyway, I found a crazy rug - I loved the pattern, but it's crazy. So, for shits and giggles, I snapped a pick and sent it to the husband. I didn't think he's like it, so I actually purchased the orange rug and left the store. My husband called me when I was in the car driving away to say he LOVED the crazy rug! HA! So I turned the car around and bought the crazy rug. It's a discontinued Ralph Lauren for Safavieh that was marked down from $900 to $400, but then it was mislabeled as on sale for $300. After speaking with the manager, and only $300 later, that sucker was in my trunk. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it's in our master bedroom. It's crazy!

Well this is the one from West Elm that I wanted, but never purchased because I missed the sale and refused to pay full price (I'm cheap like that):

And here are the two rugs we got from Home Goods:

We might play around with the two rugs in other rooms. What are your thoughts? Have I lost my mind completely???

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quick Hello!


I'm having blog withdrawals, seriously! While I want to gab on and on about the past holiday season, New Years resolutions, future stationery projects, and some other fun (and design related things), I cannot get my brain to move past the dust and chaos that is happening all around me. Right now, my home is about 50% completed, with new floors, new lighting, new area rugs and a completely demolished kitchen. Hopefully by the end of this week the kitchen will be totally finished - except for the counters, which take a few weeks to be produced.

Here are some pictures of what the past week has been like (courtesy of iPhone, since I packed away my real camera, oops):

 As you can see, the past week has been action packed. We found all sorts of surprises, from the good (five bucks, thank you!) to the really nasty (more mold under the floors). We used Lumber Liquidators for the floors, and they were a pleasure, I'm thrilled with the outcome. I hope the kitchen goes in as easily as the floors did! 

Speaking of kitchens, how awesome does it look without the walls? Hellllllo open layout. Tomorrow our cabinets and appliances are being delivered. Thank goodness. I am counting down the days to having a hot meal again. Oh, and my desperation for a hot meal is mostly because my husband dropped our old microwave, which means right now I cannot even boil water. Darn! 

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday! I'll be back very soon to share some area rug bargains! Yippie!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mark Your Calendar Challenge :: Voting is Open!

Minted has been keeping me on my toes lately, and I'm really excited about the designs I submitted for their last challenge, the Mark Your Calendar Save the Date challenge. I've grown so much as a designer in the past year, and I think my submissions for this challenge are by far some of my best work to date. All but one of the designs feature a hand drawn element, which makes me happy and really adds to the design. Voting is now open, so please go and vote on as many designs as you can!

Here are my submissions (click on them to vote) :



"Pack Your Shades"



Monday, January 2, 2012

Sayonara - Just For A Little

2012 is here and I'm hitting the ground running. If you've been following me you know that we've had some  home issues (floors buckling, anyone?) and I'm happy that we're finally getting things squared away. We've finally gotten the adjustment back from the insurance company, and we are ready to GO! Next week we are getting brand new floors throughout our ENTIRE condo, and then two days after the floors are installed - get ready to call me crazy - we are remodeling our kitchen!

So over the course of three weeks (fingers crossed that it doesn't take longer!) we will have all new floors, an entirely new kitchen, and a bunch of grey hairs. What won't we have? Well, I won't have time blog. It's sad because there is so much I want to chat about, from recent design projects to the holidays to new things for 2012. However, home ownership is calling, and I've got to unplug (literally) my computer for a few weeks. Looks like January is going to fly by, and while you may see a few posts from me over the next month, but don't set your expectations too high. The magic isn't going to start up again until February; however, I promise there will be some blog magic when all is said and done.

In the meantime, you can follow me on twitter @believenotes for all sorts of fun real-time thoughts, and follow my pins on Pinterest to see what's keeping me inspired. Oh, and as always, you can shoot me an email at

So, everybody, I look forward to speaking again soon, and please don't comment if all of my hair turns grey. Speaking of grey, how pretty are these DIY dollar store fake fruits covered in glitter??

Source unknown - from Pinterest
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