Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tonight In The Studio

I am just loving taking pics with my iPod Touch! The filters and effects are so fun to play with.

 A very productive evenings in the studio. Lots of beautiful invitations going out in the mail tomorrow! I love it when everyone is quiet and I have time to just get down to business. Now I just need to stop ignoring my taxes and put some of my energy into that little task....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Etsy Crush | Modern Keepsake

Wow, it's been a while since I have done an Etsy Crush post, but I assure you that it is not because of lack of time spent on Etsy browsing amazing products. I think I <3 a new item (or two or three) every single day. Between the newsletters and the front page spread I see every time I log in, and seeing what everyone in my circle is bookmarking too. Well, let's just say I have many pages of favorite shops.

Recently, while looking for wedding inspiration, I came across this gorgeous oak tree print by Modern Keepsake. I love anything involving trees and this idea is right up my alley. Instead of getting the traditional guest book that will inevitably end up at the bottom of some box in your attic, why not get a beautiful, personalized piece of art that your guests can sign?

I am a little sad I did not know about this when I got married. We did the oversized matte that people signed and then we used to frame our favorite photo from our wedding, which was a pretty popular choice back then (and still is).  But I love the fine art vibe of doing something like this instead, especially if you put it in a big, decorative frame like they show it in the picture. It would be a perfect focal piece in a living room, dining room, or really any room.

I would definitely get the teal color (in case you didn't guess).

Modern Keepsake also offers lots of other personalized modern art prints and unique ideas for guest books for all occasions. The Finger Print Guest Book is another of my favorites, as well as the Custom Canvas Wedding Prints.

Monday, January 23, 2012

For What It's Worth

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in working for myself is to place a value on my time and skill, and then stick to it. It's not that I undervalue the work that I do, but more an issue of fear. Fear that if I tell customers this is how much it costs to buy my products, they might decide to go somewhere else. Fear that they will not believe in the value of my product, or in the value of me.

Combine that fear with my desire to please everyone and it's a recipe for, well, not a very successful business. In the beginning, when I was doing this in my spare time and I had a full-time job (and a full-time paycheck) it didn't seem as important to me. I was just starting out, getting my feet wet, learning the ropes and building a clientele. The brides I met, and worked with, were so sweet and sincere. Honest about their budgets and so I waved fees, changed prices, and essentially worked for free to give them the invitations of their dreams.

It was very generous of me, but I am running a business, not an invitation charity. Being honest with myself about that was hard to admit, because it meant looking at the fear I felt in my heart, staring right at it and saying 'Yes, I am worth it'.

I think that most creative professionals struggle with this concept at some point in their career. Putting a value on yourself is an exercise in self-awareness that makes most modest and humble people a little uncomfortable. But if I don't believe in my value, how can I expect my customers to? And if I change my prices or bend the rules to make my work more affordable for someone, what does that say about that belief? That it wavers? That it's not important?

All of this self-reflection has come at a price. It took feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of having a good, therapeutic cry late one night last week. It took pushing me to my breaking point, knowing that I was spreading myself too thin and not doing a great job at any one particular facet of my life. My wonderfully supportive husband kindly pointed out the the source of my anxiety was probably the fact that I was doing too much work for free. That my time is precious and limited and I was feeling frustrated at not being paid what I know I am worth.

So this last week has been an exercise in sticking to my guns. Not doing more than I should without being paid, without requesting some sort of commitment on the side of the customer. Being honest about my prices and feeling confident about them. It was so freeing. I knew that every minute I spent working last week was worth it. It wasn't perfect, but I am getting there. I know I still have some other aspects of my business to refine and update to better align with my vision for Truly Noted, but it was a great start. I have a really good feeling about 2012.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vermont Bride Military Wedding Giveaway

 Click image to view larger.

Something I have wanted to do for a while is figure out a way for Truly Noted to give back to the community. That is why I am so excited to finally announce our participation in the Vermont Bride Military Wedding Giveaway! This amazing giveaway is for a complete wedding package to be awarded to one deserving military couple. There are so many great local vendors participating and Jackie of VT Enchanted Events is doing all of the planning and coordination so you know it will be beautifully done.

The wedding will be held on September 2, 2012 at the charming ye olde England Inne in Stowe. Here is a list of the local talent lending their services and expertise to make it unforgettable:

Bear Pond Productions | Videography
Barbara Graham Buzzi | Officiant
Green Mountain Photo Booth | Photo Booth
Jay View Wedding Flowers | Wedding Party and Bride and Groom Flowers
Jamie Norse | Groom's Cake
Polis Photography | Ceremony and Reception Photography
Sarah's Weddings by Betty's Flower Basket | Centerpieces
SuperSounds DJ Co | DJ
Sweet Crunch Bake Shop | Wedding Cake
Truly Noted | Invitations
Uncle George's Flowers | Ceremony Flowers
VT Enchanted Events | Planning and Coordination
Weddings, Tents & Events | Linens
Ye Olde England Inne | Reception Venue & Catering

To enter simply tell us your love story and why you deserve to be the lucky couple to win this fabulous event! You can read the contest rules and enter on the Vermont Bride Magazine website. Entries are only accepted until April 1st so don't delay and send us your story today!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Organizing with Style

 I love the minimalist look of this office space. If my desk is ever this clean I will be shocked.

With so many hats to juggle in my daily life I have come to realize that organization is key. The more organized I am the more efficiently I can work and the more stuff on my to-do list actually gets done. So I was super excited when I went to Staples this past weekend and found the newly launched Martha Stewart Office line.

I love Martha Stewart and I am not afraid to admit it. My friends and family often refer to me as 'Martha Stewart' and I can never really tell if it is a compliment or a snark, but in my opinion Martha is a genius. She teamed up with Avery (another brand I love) to create a whole line of tools to organize your home and business office. I had a hard time not buying absolutely everything, but I took a few minutes to evaluate each product and chose the things that I thought I would really, honestly use.

I ended up with the Dry Erase Weekly Planner which is an oversized weekly planner that sticks right onto your wall (or your fridge or wherever you want it). You can re-position it and it uses a dry-erase marker so you just wipe it off at the end of the week to start over. I love the idea of the monthly planners that go on the top of your desk but I don't have the desk space for it, so this is the perfect solution. I also got a blank Dry Erase decal with a pretty ornate frame that will be perfect for writing notes or inspirational quotes.

I also got two File Pockets that adhere to the wall as well. I have been wanting to get rid of my ugly, black plastic tiered filing tray for a while. It just gets cluttered up with junk I don't want to take the time to put away and then my bills and receipts pile up in a separate stack on top of my desk. I am hoping that by eliminating the tray and giving myself an out of the way place to stash those bills and receipts that I will be more motivated to keep the top of my desk clear of clutter.

They have a limited selection of the new line on the Staples website, but supposedly there will be more available online soon.
The other amazingly gorgeous organizational tool I bought for myself is the Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I have tried other planners before and was never good at keeping up with it, but I also never really had to use one. With the amount of things I find myself forgetting lately (the brain can only hold so much info) I really need to start doing something. I follow Emily's blog and when she debuted her new planner last week I was practically swooning. Since Emily is a mother and small-business owner herself it promises to be engineered for women just like me. I love the personalized monogram on the front and I, of course, got the teal one.

I am actually giddy with anticipation for it to arrive!

Operation 'Organize' is going on all this week and I plan on posting pics when everything is complete! How are you organizing your new year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dreamin' and Hopin' and Wishin' and Doin'

As 2011 comes to a close I have been doing a lot thinking, brainstorming, planning - as in my brain actually hurts and you might find me staring blankly off into space at any given moment. There is so much in my heart right now just trying to bust out and I have been working on figuring out how to make that happen. Because, as it turns out, just because you are on fire about something doesn't make it easier to obtain.

This past year has been full of change for me. I decided to leave my job to stay at home with Eli and pursue Truly Noted full time. There have been so many ups and downs since then, including an anxiety inducing August and September with virtually no sales, and I think I learned a lot. I have always subscribed to the idea that as long as you learn something, every trial is worth it. Throughout all of it, though I have tried my hardest to keep my thoughts on the reason for it all. The awesome rewards of being able to be with my son and experience every little milestone along with him. To give him all of the nurturing, love and attention he deserves.
So what if that means I had to give up cable, a fancy cell phone and going out to dinner? Who has time for that stuff anyway? Especially when you are working your little behind off trying to grow your business into something awesome. Something greater than you ever thought it could be. Something to give me pride, joy, fulfillment and a decent paycheck.

And I really did work my behind off and I did make progress. I did have more sales than 2010. More sales than I ever have had before. I created new designs. I launched a new website. I forged new friendships and partnerships. It wasn't perfect, but it was in the right direction. And I learned so much.
I was also inspired by some pretty amazing people. Other women who intimidated me at first. Who made me want to go back to bed, crawl into a ball and cry about how lame I was. But I wouldn't let myself. Sure, I might have had a pang in my heart of jealousy towards their awesomeness, but then I let it inspire me. I let it fuel the fire inside of my soul that wants to achieve all of my dreams. And then some. I read what they believe, what they do, who they are and I tried to learn from them.

Then I reminded myself that they were once where I am now. They didn't start out ridiculously successful and awesome. Once upon a time they were just girls sitting at a computer with an idea and $2 to their name just like me. They had jobs that they risked leaving to pursue their dreams just like me. They had fears and made mistakes and questioned themselves just like me. But they pushed on and worked hard and eventually made it through to the other side. Just like I am going to do.

So, 2012, I have a lot in store for you. A lot of goals. Some of them might sound crazy and unachievable, but if you shoot for the moon and miss at least you end up in the stars. In the next year I hope to accomplish some amazing things, such as:
  • Get Truly Noted set up as an LLC
  • Trademark the Truly Noted name
  • Sign at least two wholesale accounts in Vermont to carry my invitations
  • Forge a relationship with area venues to carry my event stationery line
  • Attend at least one seminar or conference geared towards stationery or wedding professionals
  • Get to the point where I can pay myself a regular paycheck each month
  • Expand the Truly Noted product line
  • Teach DIY Invitation classes in my area
  • Be able to afford to send Eli to daycare two days a week (I really need this!)
  • Blog at least twice a week
  • Tweet at least once a day
  • Update Facebook at least once a day
  • Hit 500 sales in my Etsy store
So there you have it. My goals for the new year. There are a few other, personal goals I have as well just to spice it up. I used to think, when I first started out on this business owning journey, that my goal was just to be able to afford staying home with my kids. If I could make just enough to pay the bills and stay home that would be enough. I didn't want to push it, to try and have my cake and eat it too. But now I realize that I am capable of doing so much more than that and I shouldn't try to limit my expectations of myself. I am looking to the new year like the sunrise in the picture at the top of this post. Beautiful, breathtaking and amazingly large.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

A very special project I have been working on for the last several weeks has reminded me just how precious family is. How, as we grow up, it is easy to forget the simple joys of togetherness and unconditional love from our youth. Whether your family is parents and siblings, or friends and neighbors, I urge you to recognize the blessing they are to your life and take a moment to cherish them.

All too quickly this too will pass and the future will be upon us. Don't let the simple beauty of this moment slip by unnoticed.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday that is unforgettable.