Monday, June 3, 2013

Come to the New Blog!

photo from fl000

The time has come. Believe Notes is officially closed, and Sincerely, Jackie is open for business!

Please come with me to the new Sincerely, Jackie blog. I promise to not only continue bringing you the same awesome candid insights, but I'll be bringing you even more exciting new things.

I'll see you at the new blog!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Newsletter #2 On The Way!

Back in March I decided to start a monthly newsletter as a way to let down my hair and connect on a more personal level with my readers. It was the first place that I announced Sincerely, Jackie, and the support was overwhelming - so overwhelming, in fact, that I had to send that first newsletter three times, just to keep up with the number of folks signing up!

I'll be sending another newsletter this Friday, May 31st, so if you haven't signed up yet, you should sign up right here. You'll be the first to hear about some exciting news, and you'll get the latest and greatest around life, the shop, and happenings behind the scenes.

Grab your cup of coffee, and join me by signing up.


Two Years

Two years ago today I got to marry my high school sweetheart and my very best friend. I am literally in shock that it's been two years since we were married. We were blessed with a heck of an awesome celebration and we often talk about finding ways to do it all over again. People always say the marriage should be more beautiful than the wedding, and I think that's why we want to do it over and over and over again - we want to keep celebrating our marriage, because it's been a beautiful two years and we've cherished every moment of it.

Happy Anniversary Mike!

*photo from BE Creative Photography

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 National Stationery Show Recap

I am honestly feeling a little down and blue now that that National Stationery Show is over and I'm returning to work. I took off the entire week of NSS and I am SO glad that I did. Last year I only took one day off, and I regretted it BIG TIME. So this year, I took off an entire week, and I still don't feel like it was enough time.

I spent three days with some of the most amazing people - from familiar Minted friends, to my virtual stationery buddies - I can say that, without a doubt, the stationery industry houses the most talented, genuine, kindest people that exist. It's so humbling to be a part of the community.

While I could gush for hours about how much I love everybody, I thought instead you would prefer to read a few highlights.

NSS started off with a casual designer meet-up that I organized at The Jane Hotel. The room we were planning on hanging out in was mysteriously closed, so we took over the entire bad instead. It was kind of a "just hang out and catch up" type of get together, and that's exactly what we did. We chatted, laughed, snacked, laughed, and even ended the night playing subway roulette (you know that game, the one where you try to take a NYC subway on the weekend, and it turns out it's going along a different line, and then you end up in who-knows-where and you try to guess which subway might take you back to where you want to go? Yea, that game).

Here's a group shot of almost all the designers that came out Sunday night. We're missing a handful, but we're all here in spirit:

Back row, from left: Hailey, Anita, Kristen, Kimberly, Carol, Melanie, Lori, Chelsey Middle Row, from left: Carrie, Aspacia, Jill, Lauren, Amy, Nam, Kristie, Dawn Bottom Row, from left: Jen, Hannah, me

I got home that night well after midnight, which, for me, is crazy late (remember, I'm usually conked out on the sofa by 9pm). The Mexican we ate at 9pm gave me heartburn, so I crashed on the sofa for a few hours before driving into the Javits Center for my first day of walking NSS.

My favorite part of walking the show is seeing all of my paper pals kicked butt in their own booths. While I don't think that exhibiting is the right thing for me or my business, I really admire all of the ladies (and gents) that do it. The effort they put in is absolutely insane, and I love seeing the creative booths and amazing art they display. I have to admit, I am pretty crumby at taking pictures while I walk the show, so I'll send you over to Oh So Beautiful Paper to see all of Nole's recaps. She rocks, and thank goodness she captures all of the amazing stationery!

Anyway, after walking the show all day on Monday, Minted hosted a part for all of the Minted designers that were in town. It was at KTCHN Restaurant and was the perfect way to end a day full of walking (read, good food, comfy chairs, and great company). I'll also add that, thanks to Natasha from Minted, I had my very first (and oh-so-amazing) macaron.

After another late night (although, this time sans the heartburn), I was back and ready to go bright and early for day two of walking the show. One of the best parts of NSS is all the awesome swag and goodies that vendors give out - it's like the stationery version of trick or treating.

Hands down, my most favorite goodie came from the fabulous ladies at Ladyfingers Letterpress. Arley-Rose is one of the most talented hand letterers, and her live demos at their booth were mesmerizing. I caught them during a lull and she whipped up this awesome piece for me for my upcoming anniversary. She literally created it in under 2 minutes. I die.

The only way to end yet another awesome day, is with yet another awesome party. Thanks to Nole (and Minted + all the other sponsors) for throwing the kick-ass Paper Party '13. An entire room filled with everybody in the stationery industry + a photobooth = great times.

Here, again, is why I so love this community:

I'm so sad that it's all over, but am incredibly grateful for the time I got to spend with friends new and old. The outpouring of love and support for Sincerely, Jackie was heartwarming, and was exactly the encouragement I needed. I left feeling empowered and determined to keep working harder for my little business. So much has changed since last year's NSS, and I cannot wait for next year to see where I land and to catch up with everybody again.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Find Sincerely, Jackie on Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram

One of the scariest parts of re-branding, for me at least, is the idea of losing my followers because of a name change. However, I have finally stopped letting fear run my business, and I have taken the reins back.

After announcing Sincerely, Jackie last week, I quickly went to work updating all of my social media handles and letting my followers know that I'm the same person,  just with a new (better) name. I'll also be leaving my profile picture the same, so if you see a curly haired girl, it's still me!

For a reminder, this is me:

If you were already following me on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, you may have already noticed a change. Unfortunately, the handle "sincerelyjackie" is already in use just about everywhere (luckily it's being used by a variety of different people, aptly named Jackie, who find the name as charming as I do. I wish I could sweet talk them to hand the name over, but alas, I am not that persuasive). So I have instead decided to go ahead and use the following:

Twitter: @jackiemdesign
Pinterest: JackieMDesign
Instagram: SincerelyJackiePaper

To make things easier, I have also made my "personal" name on all of the accounts Sincerely, Jackie. This way you can find me by either JackieMDesign or Sincerely, Jackie. See, easy!

I invite you all to join me in my day to day posts and behind the scene antics!

(oh, and a Facebook page is coming soon! Hold tight!)


Monday, May 13, 2013

That Thing That Scares You: Dive In Head First!

For months now, I have been planning, working, designing, and creating a whole new purpose and business for myself. While I wanted to wait until everything was perfect, so that I could pull back the curtain and show you all of the amazing thing at once, I instead found myself holding back in fear.

On Friday, I kicked fear to the curb and I announced my new business name: Sincerely, Jackie.

I don't have my website ready yet (soon though, I promise!), I don't have the new items in the shop, I haven't finished the new Facebook page, and I don't even have all of my final business cards back from the printer.

But I feel amazing.

Before the announcement, I think I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that I actually began setting myself up for failure. Nothing in life is perfect, so why was I trying so hard to do the impossible?

By letting go and diving in, head first, without over analyzing, over thinking, or over planning, I have managed to do the one thing that I have been afraid of. I have launched Sincerely, Jackie successfully.

Thank you all for your kind messages and words of support, it looks like we're all excited about this new chapter!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Sincerely, Jackie

Folks, I am ready to share my little secret, the project that has been consuming every moment of my life lately, and the one thing that feels so true to my purpose, that I cannot even begin to explain it.

Back in February, I got a phone call from Jess Lively. It was out of the blue, and I sat, shocked, for quite some time after we chatted. She wanted to work with me. Somebody I have admired reached out to me, to work with me. It kind of knocked my feet out, I was so floored. Little did I know, but that conversation would change my life. It put into motion a new business purpose, new design projects,  new confidence, and a handful of new friendships.

In March, I attended Jess's Business and Life With Intention Workshops, where my future continued to take shape. I had been struggling with Believe Notes for some time, and I was allowing myself to make excuses for holding back the business because I felt like the business wasn't truly representing me and what I had to offer. During Jess's workshop, all of the participants were asked to write down the things that come naturally to them, and to think about how those things help people. I jotted down words like "talking, connecting, designing, simple, clean, quality, cherish, believing in yourself, vulnerability, let it be". As I wrote, I was getting more into the real meaning of who I am, and I was getting farther away from what I had set Believe Notes up to be. We went around the group and shared what we wrote, eliciting strategic thinking and feedback. When it was my turn, I was floundering a bit in connecting Believe Notes to my purpose. Then, Elizabeth interrupted and said "Jackie, you are so sincere in who you are, and I just don't think 'Believe Notes' is you".

Jess had kept saying that the things in your business should feel like a warm cozy sweater, so when Elizabeth said "what about 'Sincerely, Jackie'?", I was suddenly transported to a comfy spot in front of a fireplace, wearing my favorite sweater and sipping hot tea, I knew I had my new business name and purpose.

So, with that, the wait is finally over. I am so thrilled and excited to announce that, coming as soon as possible, Sincerely, Jackie will be my new name.

I love designing charmingly simple, yet perfectly sophisticated wedding invitations. I love getting to know my clients and becoming a part of their life - from weddings, to new homes and births. I love having the opportunity to do what I love and love what I do, and I am so excited to able to bring more of what I love into my business.

Over the next few weeks, you will notice new branding, a new blog & shop title, and some other small updates. As I continue to roll out Sincerely, Jackie, I will be sure to share what is happening and if there are any changes that you need to know about. I invite you to join me in my journey and I'd love to hear what you think of the new business direction!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Believe Notes

This has been an emotional few weeks. This coming Friday I will reveal my new business name and a little preview of my logo. I am SO excited, however, as I prepare to officially close Believe Notes and open my new business, I've been dealing with a heck of a lot more fear than I ever imagined. I've come to realize that I am a perfectionist, and the moment I started to think that things wouldn't be perfect, I panicked.

And aside from being a perfectionist, I am also insanely sentimental and I don't think I deal well with change. Believe Notes has been an amazing adventure, and such a huge part of who I am. Letting go is turning out to be heartbreaking, in the it-wasn't-you-it's-me way, and the we're-better-off-apart way. It's crazy to think that this little business, that I started as a hobby so many years ago, has taken me to this point in my life. I'm filled with gratitude, great fortune, and a ton of amazing friends and peers - all thanks to Believe Notes.

So while I say I'm having a hard time with the announcement on Friday because of my perfectionistic tendencies, rest assure that it's a bit of a cover up. 

I realized that things don't need to be perfect, they just need to be right. And trust me when I say that everything is finally starting to feel right. Believe Notes has showed me the value of dealing with my fears head-on and using them to grow and learn, which always ends up feeling so amazing (scary, but amazing). My new business name is right, my new logo is right, my new attitude and business purpose - it's all right, and I am so excited to be moving in this direction.

And you know what, being scared is right. It's normal, it's OK, and I'm allowing myself to embrace these moments of fear, because they fuel me to continue to do the right thing.

So, everybody, please join me in saying goodbye to Believe Notes, my beloved business that has taken me on a journey I could have never imagined taking. I'd love it if you could all leave comments about how you met me/heard about Believe Notes, why you've followed me along the way, and what your most looking forward to for the new business.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't Allow Fear to Stop Your Business From Growing!

This is a so-real-I'm-shaking-as-I-write-it post. Lately I've felt a little like I've been dealing with a severe case of writers, designers, and an overall creative block. At one point last week, I felt panic creeping up through my stomach, and I knew, in that moment, I needed to get to the bottom of the craziness. So I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what happened to make me all of a sudden feel this way, and I realized what it is.

My business is growing and I am terrified. Absolutely, dibilitatingly terrified.

There are so many things I know that I need to do to continue to let my business grow, and I was SO certain about these things until a few people planted a few seeds of doubt in my mind. And then those seeds began to grow, and then before I knew it, I had allowed a garden of fear grow. Instead of spending my days just doing the things I knew I needed to do, I found myself thinking about them, analyzing them, and then thinking of a million reasons NOT to do them.

For example, hiring an intern. I need an intern, I need somebody to help me prep files, place orders, research new products, and manage some of my vendor contact relationships. Having an intern would free me up to spend quality time on my new business and working one-on-one with my clients in a more timely fashion. I need an intern.

But when I told a few acquaintances about my need for an intern, they kind of looked at me sideways. One person even said that I shouldn't bring on an intern because I work full time, and do I really want to have an intern spending more time on my business during the day than I do? My gut was screaming "yes! Yes that's exactly what I want! I need somebody to help me when I'm not around", but the way this person was making it sound, I began to feel ashamed for wanting that, and like I would be losing the quality of my business. She asked, "What if they screw things up, and you wouldn't even know until you're home from work?", insinuating that I would then be spending more time fixing the mistake than getting any work done.

That was the bad, bad seed. Which grew, and blossomed, and began spreading like a weed through all of my other business ideas.

What if I hire a lawyer to do my trademarking and then the trademark got rejected?

What if I hire somebody to do my website and it doesn't look perfect?

What if I invest in my new business, and then NOTHING comes of it?

What if I invest in my business, and then something DOES come of it, and I can't keep up with it, and have to turn people down, thus halting my growth all together?


You see, that seed is a damn weed.

But I am no longer watering it.

If I can't launch my business this month, as planned, that's OK - it will launch as soon as it's perfect. I'm going to hire an intern. I'm going to continue to invest in my business, and it will continue to grow. I am going to launch an amazing, successful, luxury wedding invitation line. I am going to succeed.

And I am going to do it all by just taking each and every small step, and just doing it.

I'm going to do it. Say that with me: I am going to do it. I am, I am, I am.

Alright, excuse me while I go and put up a listing for an intern...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Believe Notes - Featured in WellWed Magazine

In all of the hustle and bustle lately, I have fallen behind in sharing some exciting things that have happened for Believe Notes! Better late than never, right?!

This past fall I had the pleasure of working with WellWed Hamptons for some styled shoots in their Fall/Winter magazines. There was a bit of a delay in the magazine hitting stands, due to Hurricane Sandy, but it was worth the wait! The samples arrived to me a few weeks ago, and I am so excited about seeing my work in print!

I created custom gold embossed escort cards, which have been a huge part of the inspiration behind some of the new invitation suites you'll see when I launch my new business. WellWed also featured my iPad covers. Unfortunately the timing of that wasn't perfect, since I no longer sell them. But hey, they look great in the magazine!

I'll also be a part of their upcoming Spring/Summer edition, and I can't wait to see what beautiful inspiration they've cooked up!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Life Lately

The past few weeks have been insanely busy. Between all of the work that goes into a full out rebranding, to trying to keep up with having a life (what's that, you say?), I feel like I'm a bit frazzled lately. I've been spending every evening, after work, keeping up with current orders, and then I spend 24/7 on the weekends working on my new website, shop items, and general rebranding things.The good news is that I'm planning on officially launching my new business next month. I'm scared and excited and totally, completely ready.

Since I've been working so hard lately, I realized that I haven't been sharing the non-business things that are going on, so I thought I would give you a quick recap, and then some longer posts throughout the week.

So, for now, here's what the past two or so weeks have looked like.

FRIST ROW: I have mild Celiac's disease, which is a gluten allergy. I don't always follow a gluten free diet, but I have been really trying to stick to it lately. Aside from pizza (my ultimate weakness), GF living isn't that difficult for me, I love yogurt, smoothies, salads, and the occasional GF baked item.

SECOND ROW: Design work has been great lately. Lots of fun projects, plus all of the design work I am doing for my own new business.

THIRD ROW: Last week my husband was doing some work around the house when a picture frame fell and cut him down his forehead. I had to take him to the hospital, and luckily it was something they were able to glue back together. Fingers crossed that he doesn't end up with a Harry Potter scar on his head.

As I enter this week, I am hoping that there aren't any bumps in the road (or my husband's head) so that I can keep on moving along with the groove I've got going.

Thanks everybody, really, for reading this blog and supporting me every day!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Custom Recap: Emma's Birth Announcements Featured on Oh So Beautiful Paper

Oh my goodness, I'm not even sure where to start with this post. Last week was both a rough and an amazing week, all in one, and so many things have happened in such a short amount of time. First things first, thank you all SO much, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your love and support around my first newsletter. I cannot believe how many of you signed up and showed your support. The emails were pouring in, and it sounds like you're all almost as excited as I am about my new business name and logo! In fact, you all showed SO much support that my subscriber list doubled in the 12 hours after I sent the newsletter! I ended up sending a second email to everybody that signed up late and missed the first one. Wow, I am just so overwhelmed, thankful, and excited to be starting my new business chapter!

And in fact, the newsletter leads me into this here post. I wrote in the newsletter how I had submitted a special design to Oh So Beautiful Paper for feature, and that I had my fingers crossed that the design would be picked. I've submitted plenty of things to OSBP before - it's THE blog for stationery design, and it's also difficult to get a submission featured - so I know better than to get my hopes up. However, I was really hoping that the custom birth announcements I created for baby Emma would get picked.

Anyway, after the newsletter went out, somebody tweeted me to congratulate me on my Oh So Beautiful Paper feature. To be honest, I was mortified - I didn't mean for the newsletter to sound like I had actually been featured, and I was afraid my friend has mis-interpreted what I wrote in the letter. So I quickly tweeted back to her that I was not featured, but keeping my fingers crossed for a future feature. She quickly tweeted back with this link. I swear to you, I had NO idea that the design was picked up for the feature, and the timing of it couldn't be better/more ironic! I nearly fell off of my chair when I saw it!

My very first Oh So Beautiful Paper feature, and I am so, so, so excited - not only about the feature, but to share the design and story.

So without further adieu, please meet Emma.

These sweet announcements were inspired by both my Aerial and Falling in Love designs, and they were printed on shimmer paper and paired with lovely pink metallic envelopes.

Aside from how beautiful the invitations came out, the story behind them is even more beautiful. If you look really closely at the design, you'll see two dates, the date Emma was born, and the date she was brought home from the hospital. I asked Emma's mother to share her story, and here's what she wrote to me:

Emma Claire and her identical twin sister, Gabriella Hope, were born 16 weeks premature at 24 weeks gestation on Friday, July 13th, 2012. Gabriella’s lungs were too immature to survive and she passed away 2 hours after she was born in our arms. We were told it was not likely that Emma would make it, but she continued to defy all odds with each day she spent in the NICU. After 6 months in the NICU, Emma came home on January 11th, 2013. Since we were so consumed with having her in the hospital when she was first born, we didn’t get a chance to send out birth announcements. When she started getting close to coming home, we decided we would send out a coming home announcement. It was important to us that the announcement illustrated how far she had come in her first 6 months so we knew we wanted to include her birth stats as well as her coming home stats. Jackie took our ideas and created the perfect announcement to celebrate our brave little girl! - Karen, Emma's mother

After hearing little Emma's story, I sincerely think we created the perfect announcements. I'm not sure if Karen selected the Falling in Love design for this reason, but I absolutely love the way the top of the design starts out with teardrops, which slowly fade into falling hearts. I think it's such a sentimental and special way to really capture little Emma's journey and both the sadness and joy that the family has been through over the past year.

Please join me in sending lots of love and hugs to baby Emma!! And thank you, Karen, for letting me take, even just a small part, in little Emma's journey!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Newsletter & Coffee Talk

 A few weeks ago I announced that I would be launching a newsletter as a way to better bring information and updates to all of you, and I am really excited to say that the first newsletter will be sent tomorrow! My friend and fellow designer, Brooke, helped me create a really beautiful template by coding it all nice & nice. Thank you Brooke!

So now that I have it basically finished, I want to share a few thoughts I have on the process.

First off, what is the purpose of my newsletter? As I began typing it, I really felt like I was sharing things two people might discuss while sipping caffé lattes at a local coffee house. It felt casual, comfortable and personal. I realized that I view this blog as the more formal form of communication, as if I was giving a presentation to a large audience at a conference. On the other hand, the newsletter is like all of the informal conversations that happen between friends before-hand. The newsletter is where I share with you how I feel, what I'm excited/nervous about, and what my big plans are. Maybe, in the future, you'll hear me formally address some of the topics here on the blog, and sometimes you'll hear about things that go on behind the scenes that are just between us coffee sipping friends.

So if you're interested in having coffee with me, once or twice a month, I invite you to sign up for the newsletter.

I'll also share some insights around my blog, shop, and products. It's important for me to give an accurate view of what it's like to grow a business, and the things that work and things that don't. I plan on offering up which blog posts were the most popular, what shop products sold the most, and what new products and offers I have available. Maybe I'll call this section of the newsletter a trend update?

So if you're interested in hearing about the posts and products that have been the most popular, I invite you to sign up for the newsletter.

If you want to hear about sales, promotions, and new items, I invite you to sign up for the newsletter.

And above all else, if you want to hear me talk, unguarded and openly, about the strategy, dreams, and goals for my business, I invite you to join the newsletter.

Sign up today, so that you get the very first newsletter, which is being sent out tomorrow!

Monday, April 8, 2013

March 2013 Recap - Rebranding, Finding Purpose, and Custom Projects

Every time I get together with friends or family, they always ask "what's new", or "how's the business", and I always give the same answer "nothing new, business is good". But the truth is, there's a lot new, I just don't know where to start, and, since the questions are probably more courtesy than curiosity, I don't want to bore anybody with a long-winged answer about what's been going on with the business.

This month alone has been huge, so I thought I would do a recap, including things I already shared on the blog, and some of the things that have happened behind the scenes.

March started off with a bang, when I attended Jess Lively's Business and Life With Intention workshops up in Boston, MA. I met a group of amazing ladies and they encouraged me to take the next steps that my business truly needed. With their guidance and support, I decided to bring a more focused purpose to my business, change my business name, and start a newsletter. (ps - if you want to hear more about the business name and purpose, sign up for the newsletter). I've also been working with Jess on one heck of an awesome project, and I cannot wait to share the fruits of our labor in April.

With all of the new things going on, and adding a rebranding to my plate, my free time has dwindled to less than nothing. I have learned the beauty of outsourcing, and I have not been disappointed. My free time suddenly became very valuable, and hiring people to help me do the things I needed to do, but didn't have time to do, has been so nerve wrecking and rewarding. I didn't realize how much of a control freak I was until I decided to start letting go, but boy, I am so glad I did. I hired one of my most favorite designers (and friend) to create my new logo, and I cried when I first saw it. Guys, I just cannot wait to share it with you! I'm also going to be hiring somebody to rebuild/update my new website - I build the Believe Notes website myself, and I just don't have to time to fiddle with it. I'm also starting to think about hiring an intern, assistant, or marketing specialist to help free up some of my time for designing while still growing and marketing my business. (a formal announcement hasn't been made yet, but if you or somebody else you know is interested in joining me, please let me know!)

One of the biggest things for my new business is growing my portfolio. I want to offer brides the most stunning custom invitations ever, so I took a leap of faith and decided to waive my custom design fee in order to attract more brides. So far I have had mixed results, lots and lots of inquiries, but only a few bookings. The offer is still standing, so please continue to take advantage of it an spread the word.

Ironically enough, my #1 blog post this month was my curly hair guide. The post has gotten more than 10x my average views and was pinned over 200 times. I should have known that there were a ton of you curly girls out there, just waiting for the best tips ever - trust me, I've been there! I'm contemplating a monthly post dedicated to curly hair. Would you be interested in reading it?

Behind the scenes, my home is a wreck, my fridge is empty, and my eyeballs are so dry (from the constant computer screen exposure) that I started leaving eye drops next to all my hand lotions.

Speaking of outsourcing, my husband and I have decided it might be time to hire a cleaning service. Between my full-time job, business, and graduate school, and all of his overtime, we acknowledge that we just cannot keep up with daily maintenance. I'm a cheap chick at heart, so we've been waiting to see a groupon for a cleaning service.

But even thought our dining room table is covered in samples and my office has been taken over by orders and packaging supplies, I think it's all kind of great, because it means I am growing, growing, growing. Using social media efficiently has helped cut down a lot of my time during the day, but I think that once I add a few extra pairs of hands, I'll start to be able to breathe again.

Here are some of my personal highlights from March:

1- Finding my business purpose
2- Establishing a relationship with amazing specialty printers
3- Seeing my work in print in the latest issue of WellWed Hamptons magazine
4- Finishing up an amazing project with Jess Lively
5- Doing some logo work for a few local, talented photographers

So there you have it, my March recap. It's no wonder I sprouted my second grey hair! Thank you everybody for your continued support in my business and blog, if there's ever anything you want me to talk about or share, please let me know, as I want to give you as much value as possible - and, as always, I love comments, so please leave one if you're feeling the urge.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Super Efficient Tips for Social Media

A question that I get on a fairly regular basis is "how do you do it all?", and while I did address this question back in July, my business has changed so much since then, that I feel like I need to address it again.

My stationery and design work have nearly doubled since July, and I think a lot of the increase has to do with the amount of effort that I put into my own business. Effort, though, doesn't need to mean "hard". There are a lot of easy things that I have been doing in order to minimize my time in front of the computer during week nights, and still make it seem as if I'm spending a ton of time on everything. Since I work full-time during the day, I simply cannot spend hours every day worrying about social media, blogging etc, so instead, I have found a way to grow my business through social media, while minimizing the time I spend doing so.

So here is how I use social media to my advantage:

There are two BIG tools that I cannot live without right now - Blogger and HootSuite. I typically spend Saturday and/or Sunday mornings writing my blog posts for the whole week. I then use Blogger to schedule those posts in advance, copy the permalinks and head on over to Hootsuite to schedule tweets for when that post goes live. By using scheduling, permalinks and Hootsuite, my blog views have nearly doubled in the past three months. I'm sure the improved passion and content behind my posts has contributed as well, but I'd like to give a lot of credit to my new scheduling system. It takes me between 2-3 hours to write my weekly posts and schedule them.

I also know that sending one tweet a day is really not going to help me hit my target audience. So, again, I use Hootsuite to schedule between 10-15 tweets a day, and I have my Facebook page linked to Twitter, which means that those same posts are getting out to my Facebook page all in one shot. My scheduled tweets highlight recent products, blog posts, popular items, and other business things I want to share. I also make sure to send a lot of tweets that aren't product links and blog posts, because it's so important to use social media to connect with my followers as a human being and person. Since I want to feel "human" about my tweets, I schedule them the night before or morning of. By scheduling the important posts and topics, when I check twitter throughout the day, I don't have to worry about coming up with content, instead, I can just spend my short amount of time responding to interactions and keeping up with the activity that my scheduled posts have created. Since scheduling my tweets, managing interactions carefully, and being as active as possible, I have gained over 50 followers in just a few weeks! It takes me about a twenty minutes to a half hour to schedule all of my tweets for the day.

Speaking of linking Facebook and Twitter - while I do like having the convenience of linking the two, I plan on unlinking in the future, and using only Hootsuite (or the FB post scheduler) to post important updates. I'm not sure if this will impact my business or online interactions in any way, but I sure will be finding out soon enough.

So there you have it - how I have been using social media as efficiently as possible! How do you all use social media? Any tools or tips that I should know about??

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jackie's Tips for Curly Hair

For those of you who have been cursed blessed with curly hair, this post will be incredibly helpful for you, and for those of you with straight hair, I bet you didn't know this much work was involved for us curly girls. After getting some curious readers asking about my hair from this post, I realize that a lot of you are still struggling to tame the curl, so I thought I would share how I've come to love my hair.

I've had big, crazy, curly hair my whole life, and it was always a hot tangled mess. In fact, my mother used to style and blow out my hair every day for kindergarten. Talk about high maintenance at an early age! Growing up, if my hair wasn't professionally blown straight or flat-ironed, I would just wear it up - and since I've never really been a high maintenance kind of girl, my hair was up practically every day. I would even get that painful, bruised-like feeling on my scalp from having my hair pulled back so often. At some point, going into high school, I had the confidence to start trying to style my hair. I decided not to fight with it any more, and to find a way to work with the curly mop. I tried everything from Frizz-Ease to super thick styling goop gel. I would sometimes end up with really pretty (but cardboard stiff) curls, or, on bad days, I would end up with crispy, frizzy, flaky gross-ness.

At some point my aunt, who also has curly hair, suggested I read The Curly Girl Handbook. After reading the first chapter I was a born-again Curly Girl. The book is written by Lorraine Massey, founder of DevaChan and DevaCurl - a salon and product line devoted to curly haired girls and the methods described in her book. For those of you that haven't read the book, I highly recommend it, it changed my life.I've been a Curly Girl and using Deva products since the moment I read that book circa 2001. I've had soft, natural, healthy curls ever since.

I started only seeing Deva trained hairstylists, and four years ago I began going to an actual DevaChan salon, which happens to be just down the street from my work office. For those of you in New York City or White Plains, I HIGHLY recommend going to the actual Deva salons - it's just the most amazing haircut you'll ever have in your life. If you aren't able to get to an actual salon, you can find local stylists that have been trained in the Deva methods.

While I absolutely swear by having your hair cut by a Deva hair specialist, I don't follow some of the other steps religiously (if you want to know what those steps are, read the book). For example, I find the Deva products to be really expensive, so while I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the DevaCare Arc Angel styling gel and the Mist-er Right Spray, I don't use their other products, as I found natural methods that work better for me. However, while I don't use all the Deva products, I do follow their styling method TO A TEE. From styling in-shower (yep!) to microfiber towels, I do it all, and I recommend it highly.

Alright, so lets start talking about my actual process.

Deva says not to use regular shampoo - it's toxic for curly hair. They offer their version of a non-sudsing shampoo, called No Poo, which I used and loved for a long time. But it's expensive, and I've always had a dry, flaky scalp, which it didn't seem to help. I read online about the use of baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo, and figured I would give it a try. Believe it or not, it worked like a charm and I've been shampoo-free for years now and will never got back. At first I was concerned that it wouldn't really "clean" my hair, but after a few weeks I found that I no longer had build-up, flakes, or itching. My hair is cleaner and healthier than ever.  In order to make sure the baking soda doesn't dry my hair, I also use a natural peppermint conditioner. This may not work for everybody, but it works for me and so I use it as an alternative to the Deva No-Poo products.

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Here is my shower routine: I leave a sturdy cup and a bottle of apple cider vinegar in my shower at all times. There's also box of baking soda that's always in my bathroom vanity. I also leave my Arc Angel in the shower (more on why in a little bit). Before every shower, I put a tablespoon or two of the baking soda into the cup and bring it into the shower with me. After wetting my hair thoroughly, I add enough shower water to the cup with baking soda to turn it into a thick paste. Then I use the water/soda paste as if it were shampoo, and I rub it into my scalp and hair. Then, I rinse my hair with shower water, to get all of the baking soda out - I also rinse all of the baking soda out of the little cup. After I'm all rinsed and the cup is clean, I put about a quarter cup of the vinegar into the cup, and then fill it up the rest of the way with water. I pour the vinegar/water over my hair, and then rinse again under the shower water. Then I use my peppermint conditioner, just normally, and being sure to scrunch my hair (instead of combing, brushing or anything else) so that I maintain the curl shape (the book goes into this in detail).

The rest of my styling is completely out of the Deva manual, so I'm going to go over it quickly, assuming you'll read the book for the details.

Anyway, don't rinse all of the conditioner out of your hair. You want to leave just enough so that your hair still feels soft and a little milky. This helps keep your hair moist after your hair is dry. Then, once you've shut the shower water off, stay IN the bathtub (or shower stall) to start styling your hair. You want to style your hair while it's dripping, sopping wet (this is why I leave my gel in the shower, and why I also consider styling to be part of the shower process). Do not rinse, wring or dry your hair out in anyway. Get yourself a good amount of the the Angel in your hands and start scrunching it into your hair, from ends to roots. I also have very defined curls, so I wrap those curls around my finger (with gel) to help them keep their shape.

After you're done scrunching and shaping the curls with the gel, and you're still in the shower, go ahead and use a microfiber towel to scrunch (DO NOT RUB) the excess water out of your hair.

That's it, you're done. Now you just leave your hair to air dry. Don't touch it or fuss with it until it's completely dry. The gel leaves a little bit of a cast on the curls, but once they are completely dry, you can scrunch them to break up the stiff gel-cast and you'll be left with soft, perfectly shaped curls.

I wash my hair about 3 times a week, to make sure I don't try it out. Between washes, I use Marrakesh Oil to keep my hair healthy and shiny, and Mist-er Right to keep my curls in shape. When I have to put my hair up, which I still do pretty often, I make sure to use metal-free hair bands to avoid breakage.

So there you have it, my secrets for perfect, healthy curls. I love my hair now, and am so proud to be a completely 100% natural curly girl!! I hope this is helpful for those of you have are still fighting with your hair.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I'm Waiving My Custom Design Fee

For those of you that "like" the Believe Notes Facebook page, and read the post the other day, you already got a preview of my slightly crazy way to grow my custom wedding line. Some people may call me crazy, but for me I see it as a great opportunity.

As I have mentioned in recent posts, I plan on making big changes to Believe Notes. One of these changes will be a relaunch of my business, under a brand new business name (I can't share it yet, but trust me, I am itching to tell you more about it!). Moving forward will be really focusing on quality, quality, quality - the best papers, the best printing options, and the most perfectly elegant designs. I will not be discontinuing any of my current flat print wedding invitations, as I already think they are the highest quality that exists for flat printing options, but I will be adding new invitations that feature more exquisite specialty printing options.

Since formalizing this new intention and purpose for my business, my nights and weekends have been completely filled with getting samples and contacting dozens and dozens of print houses and presses. I've been on the hunt to find a press that can give me the best quality paired with the one-on-one attention I need in order to bring my brides perfect invitations.

Last week I completely hit the jackpot. I swung by a local, Long Island based print house, expecting it not to particularly stand out. I was so wrong. I spent the next 45 minutes talking to the owner about how he and his brother grew their family business; chatting about my own business and future vision, and then looking at some of the most unbelievably gorgeous print samples that I have ever seen in my life.

When I left the press house, I was literally shaking from excitement. I knew I wanted to use them for all of my custom projects because without a doubt they would be capable of producing the quality I wanted - and I loved that they were local, which would provide me the opportunity for press checks and so forth. All I could think about was getting them to print my designs, ASAP and then use them when launching my new brand and wedding line!

However, I needed to build my portfolio and create a price life. Printing lots of sample designs would cost me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, which I just don't have the budget for. And since each design is priced on a job-to-job basis, I really wouldn't know the pricing until I started sending work to the printer for quotes. I needed to find a way to build my portfolio and familiarize myself with my new printer, process and pricing - all without going completely broke.

Time to put on my business thinking cap. How can I find a way to create a custom portfolio?

An idea! Work with brides that want custom work!

But how can I attract these brides? Another idea! I could waive my custom design fee ( a $250+ value) as well as offer the final printed products at a discount, to any brides that are looking for custom designs with specialty printing and don't mind being a little bit of a guinea pig. Brides would save a lot of money, and I would be able to build my portfolio. No matter what, the quality and design will be amazing, because I'd be working one-on-one with my brides to design the custom invitation, and then my awesome printer would be executing the print job perfect.y  Total win-win

So if you're interested in working with me on your custom designs, please contact me so we can start chatting about your perfect invitations.

fine print: contracts must be signed and a deposit left before any design work is started. Exact price quotes will not be determined until after the design is finished and sent to the printer for a custom print quote. From past experience with letterpress printing, please plan on budgeting anywhere from $7.50 and up per suite. Pricing will increase depending on printing technique and the number of pieces/finishing touches desired.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Limited Time: Free Custom Design Services for Specialty Printing

You may already have seen my post on Facebook, and no, I wasn't lying. I really am offering to waive my $250 design fee, plus offer a discount on all specialty printed wedding invitations.

Why? Because I found an awesome printer that I want to start working with to build my portfolio and because I'd rather work with brides to create their dream invitations than create sample designs that have no real meaning.

For a limited time, I will be waiving my $250 custom design fee on all specialty printed custom wedding invitations. If you know a bride, or if you are a bride, and you have your heart set on letterpress, foil stamping, metallic engraving, die cut or any other special and unique form of printing, please contact me! Oh, and once the design is finished, you'll have the opportunity to name the design!

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, please be advised that custom design contracts must be signed, and deposits left, prior to any design work. Custom designs are priced on a job-to-job basis, meaning that once the final design is finished, it will be sent to the printer in order to get a custom quote for the different printing options.

Email me for more information and to start working on your design!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let's Work Together

The power of people coming together to support one-another is amazing. I saw it when the entire design came together in supporting me with Designers Care, and again when I attended Jess Lively's Business and Life With Intention workshops.

Since I first set my networking goal last year, I have really put myself out there and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I've met people I probably would have never had the guts to meet had I not challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone. I also discovered that I love sending sincere emails to people I admire. Not because I want anything from them, but because I just want them to know they they've helped me or inspired me in some way. When I get those types of emails it always makes my entire day/week, and I absolutely love being able to put that type of energy back into the world.

So, as I continue down the road of growth this year, and with some big business changes coming, I'm thinking that maybe you and I should ban together and collaborate on something amazing. Let's support one another - maybe you're an event planner and you're in need of the most special party invitations ever, email me, I'd love to collaborate and maybe you can help me plan something special for my branding relaunch! Maybe you're a photographer and you have clients that love high end specialty printing, let's make it happen! If you're planning a styled photoshoot,  if you're a web programmer looking for an updated logo, if you're a marketing specialist in need of a killer business card - please reach out to me and maybe we can help each other out!

I look forward to working with all of you and hearing your great collaboration ideas!

Want to hear more about what's going on behind the scenes? For business tips, sales, and other fun tid-bits, please sign up for the Believe Notes Newsletter!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dealing with Mistakes with Sincerity and Grace

The past few months have been so life changing for me - I've made the choice to bring intention into my business plan, and I have some big changes happening behind the scenes. While I am really excited about the great things that are happening for my business, I don't want to mislead you and have you think that gorgeous custom projects and pretty features are the only things that go on for me.  Trust me, I have had a few "I don't think I can do this" days, and "what on earth have I gotten myself into" moments.

A few weeks ago I had one of my worst days since the iPad cover fiasco. I don't want to bore you with the details, but I'll say that involved a pretty big spelling mistake on the information card for custom letterpress invitations that were a rush order. The spelling mistake was never caught during the proofing stage and got approved for print with the mistake - the letterpress printers didn't catch it, and the assembly folks (ahem, my husband) didn't catch it either. In fact, the mistake was so easy to miss, that I think my bride may have sent a bunch of her invitations before realizing it.

As a designer, I felt like I failed. But after curling up in bed, and briefly allowing myself to feel like an absolute failure, I realized that moping wasn't going to solve anything. I gave myself about fifteen minutes to feel like crap, and then I got the heck out of bed and began reaching out to my designer friends for support and working my butt off to make the situation right. I emailed my bride immediately and apologized, apologized, apologized. I also found my best way to fix the situation and quickly gave her my recommendation. While we couldn't have the cards reprinted using letterpress, I was able to have them flat printed on the same cotton paper and mailed to my bride within 24 hours.

Was the situation ideal? Absolutely not. Did I handle it with grace and sincerity? I think I did. And to be honest, the fact that such a bad thing could happen and I was able to handle it in a way that my bride still trusted me and loved working with me is such a huge compliment that it absolutely reaffirmed how much I love doing stationery.

So to all of you small business owners, newbies, designers, or whatever - mistakes happen. Bad days happen, guilt happens, tears happen. It all happens and it's not fun, but it will not break you and does not mean you aren't good at what you do. These things happen so that we can learn from them and make our businesses better because of it. Emily Ley says it best in that we should hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection. We cannot be perfect, but gosh darnit, if we can handle those imperfections with grace, we have accomplished a whole lot.

Do any of you have a mantra that has gotten you through a particularly bad day? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

Want to hear more about what's going on behind the scenes? For business tips, sales, and other fun tid-bits, please sign up for the Believe Notes Newsletter!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Custom Recap: Davis Family Branding

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with a a member of my extended family, Gayle, who is my uncles mother, to create some really beautiful stationery for her and her husband, Ron. This past year, Ron and Gayle officially entered retirement, and decided to sell their home near Boston and split their year between a home in Florida and a home in Maine. Gayle was looking for a way to let family and friends know about their move, and how/where to contact them throughout the year.

The more Gayle and I chatted, the more I thought the project was along the lines of a family branding - so I went to work creating a style that we could use for calling cards, folded stationery and flat note cards. I came up with the idea of "Pine to Palm" since their year was spent half in the pines of Maine, and half in the palms of Florida.

I absolutely love the way everything turned out - the soft neutral colors, the gingham backer pattern and the blue envelope pull all of the different pieces together perfectly.

On their first drive down from Maine to Florida, Gayle spent a good portion of the multi-day drive writing notes to friends and family on her new folded cards - letting them know about the move.

She also keeps a stack of calling cards with her at all times, so that she can quickly give them to friends when they ask for her contact information. These cards might be my favorite part of the project, they are just so perfectly compact and pack a huge amount of information. These little cards clearly communicate what time of the year Ron and Gayle will be in Maine, and when they will be in Florida, plus their phone numbers and addresses for each location. What a great idea!

And the last element of the set is the flat stationery, which Gayle plans on using for special notes and correspondence. I love the idea of having an entire theme throughout all of the stationery you use, it's something that brands and businesses do - and I hope the trend catches on for families. It's such an organized, sophisticated way to represent yourself.

If you love the idea of family branding as much as I do, I would love to work with you and create your perfect set of stationery to represent all of the different aspect of your unique life. Contact me to start talking about making your ideas a reality.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

3 Ways to Bring Purpose into Your Business

Just the other day I shared my experience with Jess Lively's Business and Life With Intention workshops, however I did not share how my own purpose changed/evolved because of the workshop. While I'm not completely ready to share all of the details, I am excited to share a few insights along with three key learnings that I think you can apply to your business immediately.

 1- Make sure that your brand is truly your brand. Does your company name really fit that special thing that you do, and does it roll off your tongue with pride when you tell others who you are? This was huge for me - and where I spent the majority of my focus during the workshop. It's also why I will be changing my business name in the very near future. I can't share the new name yet, but I guarantee that it feels to me like a warm comfy sweater I never want to part with (thanks to Elizabeth, for suggesting it! And thank you Jess for encouraging the brainstorm session that it resulted from!)

2- Does your branding actually fit you? I'm not just talking about your name here, but I'm talking about the design. The colors, fonts, textures, packaging, logos etc - do they all look like things you'd have around your house? Are they something that you're friends would see in the store and know immediately that it's so you? For a long time I felt like I needed my brand to be different and unique, but after much trial and error, what I found is that I actually needed my brand to be just the same as everything else in my life. Luckily, my colors and branding are very much my style - and in fact, if you were to have attended my wedding or walked into my home, you'd find yourself surrounded by the same whites, creams, aquas and corals that are also part of my brand. Correction, the style is part of my brand, it's part of me and it just so happens that my wedding, home and brand are all also parts of me. Is your branding an extension of who you are?

3- Just because you can do it all, doesn't mean you should. Find other experts that are able to do what you want to do, but can do it better than you could ever do it yourself. Delegating and reaching out to other talented people is a tool to use. For me, I built my entire website myself because I didn't have the budget to hire somebody, but now that I am going to be rebranding, I'm reaching out to people that I know can help me way better than I could help myself. Plus, but letting other people help, I am freeing up my time to focus on other aspects of business. Anybody out there a marketing pro and want to help me get my brand out there more?

Are the above things that you thought about when setting up your business? Are you thinking about them now?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Growing a Business With Intention

This past month has been huge for me. Not because of high sales or profit, but because of direction, purpose, inspiration and growth. For the longest time I felt like I was clawing along for my business, but that all changed a few months ago when I decided to stop clawing, to stop trying, to stop forcing and to start being true, honest and confident in myself and my business. My new direction was solidified after this post, when out of the blue Jess Lively called me to talk about a new collaboration (more on the collaboration to come in a future post!).

After talking to Jess on the phone, I just sat at my dining room table, perfectly still. My stomach was doing flips and the big-blue-peaceful-pool inside my gut was filled with the kind of joy that comes just before something life-changing is about to happen. I knew at that moment of stillness, something big and amazing was happening and that I would never exactly be the same.

Attending one of Jess's Business With Intention workshops has been on my radar for some time now, and collaborating with her offered me the opportunity to attend the Boston workshop. I was terrified to be traveling by myself, to a place where I didn't really know anybody, and to meet somebody that I really admired. However, keeping true to my goal for networking, along with the feeling of big things coming, was enough to motivate me to face my fears and just do it. Boy, am I so grateful that I did.

Not only am I kind of convinced that Jess is a long lost friend that I never knew I had, but she's one hell of a genuine person too. She's generous, giving, open, honest and she is passionate about serving others. Her workshop was exactly what I would have expected from such an amazing person - it was filled with purpose and intention, and it was 100% focused on helping each person build a more purposeful business.

We had an intimate group of 4 ladies plus Sophie, our Boston Foodie and Allison, Jess's Boston Assistant/stylist attend the Business With Intention workshop, and every single one of us came out with 6 new friends and allies in our purposeful business ventures. Jess led the group beautifully and spent a lot of time with each of us on our businesses. I can tell you that some amazing things are going to be happening for us 6 ladies - Elizabeth is about to blow the world away with her amazing statement jewelry and personal style; Ashley is finally taking her branding expertise and investing in her own perfect couture branding; Ashlee is helping guide GenY-ers find their purpose and change their lives; Sophie is going to teach all of us how to cook just as we'd like to; and Allison is helping us all through interior design and styling (and she's already working with me on a new project of my own!)

The first day was focused on business, while the second day was the Life With Intention Workshop. Again, we had an intimate group of 4 plus Sophie and Allison. Elizabeth joined me for the two day journey, by also attending the Life With Intention workshop, in addition to Sheerly and Patrick, who were such a pleasure to get to know! Just as she had done on the first day, Jess spent significant time with each of us, talking about our lives, dreams, goals and intentions. It was intense, but it was the good kind of intense - the kind of intense that leaves you on a high for weeks and weeks.

After the workshop was over, Jess hitched a ride back with me to NYC - we chatted about everything from our pups (her adorable Franklin and of course my Miss Juliet), to ice-cream sundaes and smoothie cleanses. Jess is one of those people that just makes life better (and long car rides) - she's contagious and I feel honored to have had the experience of getting to work with her and to know her better. If you ever have the chance to attend one of her workshops, I HIGHLY recommend it. However, if you can't attend a workshop, you should absolutely follow her website, which is filled with tips and purpose for life and business.

Over the next few weeks you will see all of the changes that I plan on making as a result of attending the workshops. While I would love to share it all now, I'm leaving it for a future post - but know that it's major, and positive, and filled with intention and purpose.

How do you bring intention and purpose into your business? Is it working for you? I'd love to hear all about it!
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