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!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sign up for all the Inside Scoop and BIG Announcements

Tomorrow I will be sharing the start of a new journey with you. A journey in which BIG changes will be happening, and BIG announcements will be made. As I move forward with making my business the best possible business it can be, I want to make sure my readers, customers and future clients can come along for the ride. While there will be announcements here on the blog, I will be sharing them through my new Newsletter first.

So please sign up, and let me share with you before I share with anybody else.

And since I know you value the space in your email box, I promise you won't be bombarded with emails from me. You can expect to get at most 5 emails from me over the next two months (containing really big announcements), and then one per month after that.

I look forward to bringing you on my journey to a better business, and sharing some big announcements with you in the Newsletter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Custom Recap - 80's Themed 30th Birthday Invitations

Back in October of 2012, Danielle, the photographer behind Danfredo Photography, reached out to me with an awesomely awesome and super secret party collaboration. Danielle had gotten married a year before (on her birthday), but her wedding didn't exactly live up to her expectations. So for her one year anniversary (and her 30th birthday), she was looking to throw a huge 30th birthday celebration that would double as a top secret vow renewal. She told all of her guests to wear their best 80's attire and she provided the glow sticks, spin art (yes, spin art), neon colors, confetti and ballons. Just when guests thought things couldn't get wilder, Danielle and her husband surprised everybody with a rooftop vow renewal. The rest of the evening was spent singing, dancing, celebrating and getting paint splatter everywhere (ok, that's what spin art does!).

I had so much fun working on these invitations, and I think I perfectly married (ahem, pun, ahem) the crazy 80's theme with my own sophisticated style and typography. Here are the invitations I created for her special day.

To view an adorable video from their wedding day, please visit the Danfredo Rivera blog.
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