Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Delicate Floral Wedding Invitations - Antique Garden

In case you haven't noticed, there have been a lot of new additions to the Believe Notes Wedding Collection. With so many different styles to select from, I thought it would be helpful to highlight each design and tell you a little about how I envision the invitation being used.

First up, I would like to introduce Antique Garden.

If I were throwing a formal garden wedding, with soft pinks and greens, touches of cream and lace, these would be my invitations. They are elegant without being stuffy - think dark grey suites, big beautiful white tent, lush floral centerpieces, lanterns & candles....*sigh*

If you'd like to see more garden wedding inspiration, please visit my pinterest board, where I'm constantly adding new gorgeousness.

Monday, February 25, 2013

New at Minted - Inline Birth Announcements

I recently won an Editor's Pick for my "Inline" birth announcements, which were inspired by a custom project I did for baby Cruz. These modern, sophisticated birth announcements are now available for purchase over at Minted, and come in a variety of fabulous die cut shapes and paper options.

To view other designs available by Believe Notes, exclusively for Minted, please visit the Believe Notes Minted shop.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Custom Recap - Brklyn View Gold Confetti Holiday Cards

One of the hardest things for me, when it comes to growing my business, has been networking and making time to be able to meet new people. But when I saw Brklyn View Photography, I knew I had to reach out to Jainé!  I am so glad I did because we've become good friends and awesome collaborators - take for example, Jainé's holiday cards.

Jainé loves all things confetti and gold, as you can see in her custom stationery I shared a few months back. So for her holiday cards, we decided to stick with the theme, but make it perfectly celebratory for the season. We went with square cards that feature confetti around red and green typography. We also made a tiny circle stamp, so that we could stamp gold bits of confetti for extra glitz and glam. I love how festive and classic these look, perfect for a holiday greeting!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Custom Hand Embossed Monogram Art Prints - Now Available

I am so excited to announce the newest item to the Believe Notes shop! Custom Monogram Art Prints that are hand embossed in your choice of either metallic silver or gold, a-mazing, I know!

The inspiration for these came from my best friend Sarah, who created a beautiful work of art for me and my husband on our one-year anniversary. I didn't know that the first anniversary is the paper anniversary, and since paper is sort of my thing, I knew I had to do something great for her upcoming anniversary!

My wheels started turning - I wanted to create something that seemed effortless and timeless. Something modern, but classic. Something that would stay with a couple for their whole lives. And then I finally came up with the idea of a framed custom monogram, but in metallic embossing to make it fresh and modern.

And with that, I present to you the newest item in my shop - bound to make gift buying for weddings and anniversaries a whole lot easier!

Is it not every bit as lovely as you imagined a metallic, hand embossed monogram could be? The print does not come with a frame, but I particularly love it paired with a simple black wood frame, such as this one. It really is the perfect gift - for weddings, first anniversaries (any anniversary), for yourself or your partner...the list goes on and on!

And to celebrate the new item, I am offering 10% off this week only. Use coupon code MONOLOVE10 when purchasing the print in the shop.

I would also love to work on custom commissioned prints, so if you want a different style, please contact me at believenotes(at)yahoo.com and let's put something together.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Custom Recap - Baby Cruz's Birth Announcements

Today I'm sharing with you a really fun project that I worked on back in late 2012. There definitely seems to be a bit of a baby boom lately, and there isn't anything I enjoy more than helping first time parents announce their newest little addition!

I first met Mel when I became a Hand Pick Vendor for the Wedding Chicks. Mel and I were exchanging emails and small talk practically every day, and then, one day, I got an out-of-office reply from her that she had her baby! YAY! I quickly sent her another email to congratulate her and before I knew it we were talking birth announcements for her new baby boy, Cruz.

When I asked Mel for some inspiration - as I always do on custom projects - she sent me these gorgeous photos of Cruz's nursery. A neutral palette with bright pops of green and fun patterns - I was in designer inspiration heaven!

How awesome is his nursery! I love the clean lines, pops of color, and sophisticated neutrals. It was so easy to start designing on the birth announcements - I drew on all of the room elements, the colors, patterns, and lines, to create this modern, yet sophisticated announcement.

How adorable is baby Cruz?! And how perfectly do these announcements coordinate with his Nursery?! I loved the announcements so much, that I actually submitted a similar design into a recent Minted challenge, and it won and editor's pick! So now you can get your very own Cruz inspired announcement.

The Inline Announcement, below, is available in a variety of die cut shapes and paper options.

If you'd like to see more pictures of adorable baby Cruz and his nursery, head on over to On To Baby, where a sweet feature was posted.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

10 Things About Jackie, the Designer Behind Believe Notes

I've really been focusing a lot lately on my business and design work, and I don't want you to forget that there's a lady behind this blog and business. I have definitely made an effort to put my face out there more, but I wanted to take some time to share things about myself personally.

So here are ten things about myself that you probably didn't know.

1- Even though I grew up on the water, I can't swim and need to hold my nose when I go underwater.

2- I've battled my weight my whole entire life. I have Hashimoto's Disease, and an under active Thyroid - I thought going on medication would make my weight battle easier, and so I relaxed with my healthy eating habits and ended up packing on a whopping 20lbs. I try not to allow myself to feel miserable about my body, since we've been through a lot together, but I have the continuous goal of taking the weight off.

3- I'm a by-the-books and follow-the-rules type of person. I don't go through red lights, I stop at the stop signs, and I buy all my music (except for the stuff my husband puts on my computer, which I assume is just magic).

4- I've been pulled over twice in my life. The first time I was so scared that I gave the police officer my health insurance card instead of my car insurance card. She got a really (really!) good laugh and let me go. The second time was just a regular seat-belt check.

5- I'm an early bird. I get up during the week between 5-6am and am in my office by 7:30am. On the weekends I get up at the same time and start my design work almost immediately. However, I have an old lady bedtime and tend to pass out on the sofa, iPad in my lap & TV on, by 9:30pm.

6- I can't prepare/cook chicken on the bone. It completely freaks me out and gives me the fingernails-on-chalk feeling.

7- I have never dyed my hair and I only wash it with baking soda and vinegar and use an organic peppermint conditioner. It's a miracle concoction that has helped turn my super dry hair into healthy, split-free curls. While it doesn't work for everybody, it's been a huge help for me.

8- When I get really, really excited about something, I get all quiet and stoic for a good long time before finally acting like a 12-year-old-that-met-Beiber. I guess I really hide my emotions (without intending to!).

9- I hate blood, cuts, blisters, splinters and all that sort of stuff. And since I've been known to faint in the past, it's best to just sit back and let me freak the heck out over that paper cut while very quickly putting a band aide on it.

10 - My favorite veggies are roasted brussel sprouts and roasted asparagus - little olive oil, lots of garlic and some salt and pepper. Yum.

So there you have it, a bunch of random facts about me, Jackie. Maybe you can relate to some of them, maybe not, but hopefully it gives you a better idea of who I am! I'll try to continue adding more of my personal life into this blog, and I look forward to you all getting to know me better. Do you have ten things about yourself you want to share? Or maybe just one thing? I'd love to know more about you, too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Having a Small Business in NYC

So many people flock to New York City - the city of opportunity & lights - to come visit, to come live, or to come try to make their lively hood. I've lived in New York my whole life, born and raised on the south shore of Long Island and then moving to Queens (part of NYC) three years ago when my husband and I bought our condo. Buying a home was the first time I realized how much of a struggle it is to live in this part of the country (world). Everything is so beyond expensive that it actually disgusts me. When we were buying our 925sqft in Queens, I had a friend that was buying a 2,300sqft home in upstate NY for less than we were paying. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous, and I'd be lying again if I said my husband and I haven't thought about leaving NY. But at the end of the day, this is where our family and friends are, and I think that if I ever left the smell of low tide and ocean, I'd be heartbroken.

Not only are the costs of living in New York ridiculously expensive,  but starting a business is no small chunk of change either. If you live within the 5 boros of NYC, you are required to publish your business in a reputable publication in order to validate the business. If you don't publish, you're business and Tax ID number will become void. There's a good chance that technically I'm a void business right now, because I haven't yet published. I've been dragging my feet because I think it's the stupidest thing in the world, it's super expensive (between $1,000-$2,500) and it seems like a way for NYC to take a crap on small businesses and milk start-ups for whatever money they've saved or borrowed. Regardless of how much I hate the rule, we all still need to do it, and I do plan on having my business published within the next few weeks, even if it puts me in debt.

While each county is every so slightly different, the following steps seem to be the same everywhere. So, if you live anywhere within NYC, plan on doing the following: To have your business published you need to call your county clerk to let them know you started a business, then send/fax them a copy of your article of organization and then they'll tell you what two publications you must publish with. I think that's the part that bothers me the most - that they dictate where you have to publish, and you really have no choice (at least that's how it works in Queens). Anyway, you have to then go and publish an announcement stating that your company is open for business. The cost depends on the publication, some are very inexpensive and some are extremely expensive - but again, you have no choice because it's dictated by the county clerk's office. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my publications aren't more than $1,500 because any more than that and I won't be able to do it until I have more dough saved up. Also, I do plan on begging the clerk to please show mercy and not give me expensive publications. I am not above begging.

Since I'm on the topic of expenses, and money, and living in NYC, I thought I would open up about something else that has been very much on my mind lately.

It's almost impossible to live in this area without two incomes, and they need to be two good incomes. Luckily, my husband and I are very comfortable right now because we both work full time, however, my ultimate goal in life is to grow Believe Notes into my full time job. I'm not saying I want to leave my full time jobe right now, because I happen to love what I do, but I also know that when the time comes to have children (and not any time soon, btw), I want to be present to raise those children. While I have a ton of respect for successful working moms, I don't know that it'll be the right thing for me. I want to be a kick-ass mom that is home to raise children and also bring in an income. It's an absolutely terrifying future goal because I have no idea if I'll be able to ever bring in the type of income that we'd need to live off of and have the type of life I want to have. To be honest, sometimes I feel a little bitter, because if I were living anywhere else right now (except for the other top 5 most expensive cities in the US) I would be able to comfortably call my current income from Believe Notes a true income that I could maybe live off of. Here in NY, I need to make at least 4 times what I'm currently making in order to be able to move back to Long Island and even contemplate leaving corporate America.

Not being one to shy away from a challenge, I am giving myself 2013 to really push every limit that exists. I'm just curious to see what type of potential is in my little business, and how much more efficient and profitable I can make it. I have to start thinking like a business person that is strategic about the future and try to figure out where I want to be and if I can actually get there. While I love my job, and I really don't want to leave, I also adore stationery, and stationery will give me the flexibility to someday have a better work/life balance situation. And of course, the fact that I live in such an expensive area just compounds my anxiety about the future - but I'll continue to work my butt off (in all jobs) until I know I can confidently go in the direction I need to.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Helpful Resources for Stationery & Creative Small Businesses

 I’m the first person to admit that I don’t know the first thing about running a business. My undergraduate is in psychology, and while my Master’s in I/O Psychology, think of it as business psychology, I really have no educational background at all on marketing, managing a company, finances and so forth. And since I also don’t have a formal background in art or design (one year of interior design school, almost ten years ago, really doesn’t count) I feel like I’m sometimes fighting an uphill battle.

One thing that has helped me immensely is the wealth of knowledge that’s already put out there by others who have paved the way. It's inspired me to continue to blog about my own business growth - I have hope that I'm helping others out on their own that are going through what I've went through. I also rely on the design community to help me when I have questions, when I want to bounce ideas around, or when I just need a pep talk and some encouragement. But, at the end of the day, I know I’m a classroom learner, so as generous as people are in sharing their insights, sometimes I feel like I just need to take some time and attend something more formal.

Which is why I am so glad that some awesome ladies have put together different types of classes, conferences and seminars to help encourage and grow other small businesses. While I currently don’t have the budget to attend some of the trainings, I keep my eye on them, wishing, hoping, that someday I can attend. Here are a few options out there for those of you that may be interested in attending:

The Stationery Academy – Hosted by Whitney English & Natalie Chang
Making Things Happen – Hosted by Lara Casey, Emily Ley and Gina Zeilder
Business With Intention – Hosted by Jess Lively

In addition to workshops – there are also a bunch of really awesome conference type events that are out there, here are the ones I love (and the ones I hope to attend soon)

Altitude Design Summit (Duh)
National Stationery Show
New York International Gift Fair

I’m sure there are a lot of other great resources available out there, so please feel free to share them in the comments to this post. I’d love to hear about anything else!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Designers Care: Growing a Second Brand

As you (hopefully) know, Designers Care was a HUGE part of 2012 for me. It’s pretty crazy to think that something that happened in mid-November could have such a huge impact on the entire year, but it most certainly did.

I learned a whole lot about business in just a single month with Designers Care, and what I’ve learned has helped me really sit and hash things out for both Believe Notes and Designers Care. Since I know a lot of people had eyes on Designers Care, and tons of designers participated by donating designs, I wanted to take some time to really talk through the behind-the-scenes things that went into getting the business up and running in the first place, and then all of the things that have happened since.
First – let’s start with how it got up and running.

I wanted to create a shop that would sell products that were great quality and fairly inexpensive to make, so that I would be able to donate as much as possible. I also wanted flexibility to be able to sell small quantities and a variety of options, which would eliminate big printing costs. Having stamps created allowed me to spend a one-time fee for the creation of the stamps, and then use the stamps over and over with different colors, papers, inks, sizes etc.

Starting up was fairly easy, with all thanks going to the Minted designer community for setting up a fund where people donated. I also received very generous donations from companies such as Simon’s Stamps, French Paper Company, and Envelopes.com, which helped provide me with enough paper, envelopes and stamps to get the shop up and running. Whatever wasn’t donated was covered by the fund, and luckily we had enough to get through the first wave of orders.

Fast forward to now, and I’m finding myself having to figure out the future of this shop. I’ve run out of almost all of my initial materials (except for the stamps) and there really isn’t enough money left to replenish everything. I also realize that the business isn’t set up legally (as a charitable donation with an appropriate Tax ID), and there are no real business processes or policies in place. There is also a challenge around the fact that I donated my time (and a LOT of it) to actually stamp all of the cards, and it was incredibly time consuming and began to take money away from Believe Notes (since I had to turn down paying design projects due to the time it took for me to handle Designers Care).

During the month of December, I spent a lot of time thinking about the future of Designers Care and where I wanted to see the shop go. Closing down was never an option, since I genuinely believe in the purpose and message, but I knew I needed to make changes. I considered options such as creating a Designers Care Zazzle or Society 6 shop, which would remove me from having to spend so much time stamping, but at the end of the day, I stand by the original purpose of the shop, which is to have high quality, hand stamped designs. So there won’t really be any product changes moving forward, but there will be a lot of thought around business models and whatnot.
While I still have some big fish to fry, I’ll be making the following changes in the very near future:
  • Orders will only be filled on Saturdays and will ship on Mondays
  • I will no longer be donating 100% of the money. While I haven’t worked out the exact percentages, I need to take out enough of the earnings to cover raw materials and operating fees
  • Prices and shipping will increase slightly
  • Suggested paper & ink color pairings will be on each listing
As I move forward in working through changes with Designers Care, I do plan to accept new designs. I will certainly make it clear and known when I am ready to accept new designs – I know so many of you are interested, and I am so appreciative of that!

Thank you to everybody that has helped Designers Care come so far, and thank you in advance for all you’ll do to help move the brand forward!
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