Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Christmas seemed to creep up on my husband and I this year, but we're both excited to be able to spend some time off, with our family and friends. We'll be bouncing around between Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, and are very thankful that we don't have to fly anywhere!

Both the Believe Notes and Designers Care shops are currently closed, and will be re-opening in January with some much needed changes and streamlining. I'm enjoying the slight break and am using the time to catch up and realign. The end of this year has been both amazing and challenging, but full of growth and learning. There are lots and lots of things I'd love to blog about, I'm hoping to find some time to sit and write in the next few weeks.

I hope, for those of you that celebrate, you have a wonderful Christmas that filled with love and laughter!

PS - I have about 10 of my personal holiday cards left, so if any of you would like one, please just email me your address ( and I'd be happy to send it your way

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Gifts from Minted

I've been super busy this season with my highest volume of holiday sales to date - plus all of the orders from Designers Care - which means that, more than ever, I am doing almost all of my holiday shopping online. I'm one of those gift givers that really likes the gifts to be something memorable and personalized, but not super expensive, which is why I am so excited about all of the stationery gift options available through Minted.

One of my favorite ideas for a gift is a custom photo calendar - I mean, who wouldn't love to have a calendar that is actually nice to look at (instead of those freebies that your dad got during a business meeting??). The calendars are printed on thick, luxurious paper and are designed by some of the best designers in the stationery world.

Back in August my family took formal family portraits, as a gift to my grandparents, and what better gift than to use those photos to create a calendar! (I hope my Grams isn't reading this blog post!). You can even put in the dates of everybody's birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and so on! I'm positive my grandparents are going to love it! And I love how simple the design, by Kristie Kern, is!

I can't wait to pick out a few more designs - and I think I'll be picking one up for myself too! I just absolutely ADORE the Year of Art calendars! And when the year is over, you can can down the calendar and frame the art!

In addition to the beautiful calendars, I am also completely smitten with all of the Art Prints available now through Minted. While I personally wasn't able to submit any designs into the art print challenges, I think the community of designers worked together to create one of the most gorgeous art collections available anywhere.

And if beautiful art prints and calendars aren't enough for you, Minted also has some really handy (and perfectly designed, of course) journals available as well. They're super affordable, really lovely, and this one right here was designed by yours truly.

*this post was sponsored by Minted, in exchange for this post, I got a free calendar, which was really darn smart of them because I liked it so much I went back and purchased three more. Yes, I like them that much.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

When Small Business(es) Meet High Stress

I had promised to share the real ups and downs behind owning a small business, and what's more real than a post at 7:30pm on a Saturday night?

The past few weeks have been overwhelming - in both good and bad ways. It's been about three weeks since I started Designers Care, which is a shop filled with gorgeous note cards that are hand stamped using designs donated but lots of talented designers. We've had over 100 sales and raised close to $900 to donate to Hurricane Sandy victims - I'd say the shop is absolutely a success.

But for whatever reason, I just don't feel very successful. I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and beat down. October through December is my absolute busiest season - between holiday cards for Believe Notes, papers and finals for graduate school, busy season at my full time job, and then of course the chaos of the holidays in general - I feel like I'm starting to shut down.

One day, last week, I went to work without my glasses or my watch and I only had eyeliner on one eye. 

I'm finding that in my stress I seem to be focusing too hard on the negatives: orders are backed up (I must not be efficient enough!), I don't have enough time in the day (so I should get up super early and stay awake super late, right?!), I've made a few mistakes & one of my entire product lines failed (this was the hardest on me, by far). And even though, deep down, I know I'm not failing, I really, really, really feel like I am.

I also know that the more stressed I am, the more stress I put on my husband, and that of course leads to stupid bickering and hurt feelings. He may not be as busy as me in terms of working + school + 2 businesses, but he's NYPD and he certainly has't had a stress-free experience dealing with the hurricane aftermath. Long hours & overtime combined with seeing the underbelly of a city in crisis has definitely lead to an exhausted husband. He and I handle stress in completely different ways - he likes to sit back and do nothing but watch TV in order to escape, while I like to bury myself in even more work to take my mind off of things. But then, of course, we argue about the stress itself because I constantly push us both to do more, more, more, and he is trying to do less, less, less. At this point I think we can agree that we'd both like to just ditch the jobs, and school, and businesses and just try to catch up and cope with all the madness. And thank goodness this is temporary - things always calm down a little in January.

So yes, I feel like I'm failing sometimes - at being a good friend or wife, at cooking healthy dinners, at being present for the people around me. I can beat myself up all I want for missing a deadline or making a mistake, but then I get an email like this and it all seems to melt away:

I know you've been totally swamped! If I can help with anything, let me know. 
By the way, you really inspire me!
When I'm up at 4:30am working on a design, bleary eyed and exhausted, I can't imagine being any form of inspiration for anything (other than maybe Dunkin Donuts). But I wake up almost every morning to amazing emails from amazing people and I remember that I am not in this alone, and I am not doing this for myself. 
And even in writing the blog post, I may be feeling uneasy about it in the morning, but I wanted to share some of what really happens during high stress - you may be seeing beautifully styled photos, and RTs from fabulous people, but that isn't the whole reality. The whole reality is me at 7:30am in my office building noticing that I have eyeliner on one eye.
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