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??

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