Monday Inspiration: Keep dreamin’

Monday InspirationScrolling through my Instagram feed this morning, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who felt motivated this morning. A little tired, sure, but also motivated. A couple weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at running a small business from home again, and I have been working on it little by little every day. So it’s perfect timing that I was recently asked by Kabbage – an online small business loan provider – to share some of my business dreams and goals.

Found through shopcompliment's feed

Found through shopcompliment’s Instagram feed

My ultimate goal is to open up a two-story brick and mortar shop with a brewery, bakery and boutique on the first floor and a creative workspace area on the top floor. It’s main purpose would serve as a co-working and networking area, and there would also be creative workshops held every week. It would be geared towards helping people get their own businesses going.

Since I’m still going to school and I have two little ones to raise, I will continue working on that goal until they are both in school and I’ve got my degree in Graphic Design. Since I’m only going to school part-time, it will probably be five years until that happens, so I’m on the five-year plan 🙂

makers gonna make

My illustration

My current goal is to be debt-free by the time I graduate school so that I can just focus on paying off my school loan. Right now, that is the major push behind my business. That, and I want to show my children that they, too, can follow their dreams. After all, I met their dad through my creative path, and while the it may not be the most secure path, I wouldn’t change anything.

The best part about what I’m doing is that I get to create every day. Whether it’s writing, making something from scratch or reinventing something, I get to use my imagination every single day. I have complete creative freedom because it’s all my own, and after working in the insurance business for over five years, that’s the best feeling.

What are your business goals and dreams? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoogle + and Pinterest!

On to the second trimester!

When I woke up in the morning on Friday, it felt like it does on my birthday. You know that you are a year older, but yet everything still feels the same. Although I knew that Friday marked the first day of my second trimester, that all the fear and anxiety that came with the first trimester was now over, I still felt the same. I still felt nauseous when I woke up, I still couldn’t stand the smell of certain food and I still just craved a bagel and fresh fruit over anything else.

We all expect the second trimester to be this magical time in our pregnancy when all the all-day sickness and exhaustion comes to an end, and we will wake up every morning feeling like rock stars, ready to take on the day. So many of us say “oh, I can’t wait for the first trimester to be over, to be back to normal.” But we’re still making a baby, our body is still going through all whacky changes, whether or not we have been down this path before.

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Not the greatest proof of my bump because of how that skirt fits, but I promise it’s there!

With all that said, there is a sense of freedom that comes with the completion of the first trimester. Since so much can happen during those first twelve weeks, it just feels more real when you’ve made it through that, for me at least. Some people don’t even announce their pregnancies until after the first trimester. Which would have been hard for me, since my bump came earlier than that anyway.

I guess it’s time to drag out all those bags of maternity clothes I was so happy to put away last year.

There has also been a sort of “coming of age” moment for my daughter, as well. Since her crib will be going to the new little one, we were lucky enough to get a toddler bed from my stepsister. I’ll post a picture when it’s out of the garage, but it’s white wood, and is just like the one I was looking at online. I can already see the faucets that will be pouring out of each of my eyes, when I take down her crib and put up her bed. I can also see all the bets that will be made on how many times she will get out of her bed and will mosey in to our room. I’m just thanking my lucky stars that we don’t have stairs.

Still isn’t eating solid food though, so I guess she isn’t growing up too fast.

Are you going through any changes in your life? If you happen to be pregnant, how is your pregnancy going for you so far? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Jess Van Den from Epheriell

meet the maker

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Meet Jess Van Den, 32, from Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland, Australia, who runs her own handmade jewelry line, Epheriell, and also founded Create & Thrive, an excellent resource for creative business owners. Create & Thrive has become a huge part of my research and reading for both my blog and my creative business projects I’m working on, and I’m so privileged to share her story with you.

Jess has not only one Bachelors degree, but three of them – in Science, Arts and Education. Before she decided to turn her love of jewelry making into a full-time career, she worked as a traveling Science communicator for the Queensland Museum and her last position was a Manager at a Math and English tutoring center for two years.

She got into making jewelry in 2008 and started out buying components at Spotlight (the Michaels of Australia) and stringing pieces together.

“I didn’t really have any skills, but I slowly learnt more and more – and after taking a weekend silversmithing class, my course was set!”

At first, Jess was simply selling jewelry because she had so much of it scattered around and thought “maybe I can sell some.”  Her decision to make it a career was accidental, and might just be one of the best stories I’ve heard to date. She and her husband got married in 2009 and wanted to travel around Australia in a camper for a year.

“We converted an empty courier van into a camper over summer, but I had a huge saga of dental problems at the same time that prevented us from leaving. I had no job, so I just threw myself into the biz… and, well, the rest is history as they say. We never did get to go on that trip… but we will, one day!

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Beautiful earrings from the Earring of the Month club. Photo from Jess Van Den

Her decision to name her jewelry line Epheriell was easy and simple, as it was an online alias she used for many years. She says it’s the mash-up of “ephemeral” and “ethereal,” meaning “lasting for a very short time” and “extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world,” respectively.

A “greenie” from the way back, Jess ran a now-defunct blog called Sustainable Suburbia before starting her jewelry line, so its only natural (no pun intended) that she is dedicated to finding recycled sources for her jewelry. She struggled to find sources at first, but finally found a 100% recycled silver.

“I was keen to find a recycled source. All my sheet and wire is now 100% recycled. I’d love to find a source of recycled sterling silver chain, too, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Like many small business owners, Jess loves the freedom that comes with running her own business, but does admit that she does panic a little when business slows down a little, which fortunately does not happen to her too much anymore.

“Enough years have taught me that things always pick up again!”

After running her jewelry business for a few years, Jess decided to start Create & Thrive as a source of practical advice from people who thrived (again, no pun) in their handmade businesses. She wanted to get writers that were a part of the handmade business community and she will actually be welcoming six new writers in 2014!

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

“There is a lot of advice and info out there written by coaches, consultants, and marketers… but not so much written by people actually walking the talk of running a handmade business day-to-day.”

Jess and her husband, Nick, work in two rooms in a converted barn (she really is a greenie!) and her studio takes up the wall of one room. She has a desk with her computer and another desk for all of her jewelry work. She also has a soldering and buffing station outside.

She recently took a digitial sabbatical for a few days, which she credits for improving her workflow and she wrote about all the changes she is making here. She says that her routines, calendars and schedules ensure that she stays on top of everything, and even though it may not all go smoothly, she is usually able to get everything done.

Yup, that's an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

Yup, that’s an old barn. Crazy, eh? Photo from Jess Van Den. Credit: Paul Harris

“I also have a fabulous Assistant Editor for C&T – Megan Eckman – and I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Jess names jewelry designer Megan Auman and Business Strategist and writer Tara Gentile among her many mentors, but she can’t pinpoint where her inspiration comes from. She says that sometimes an idea will pop up fully formed in her head.

“Other times I’ll sit down with my sketchbook and deliberately doodle until I come up with something I want to turn into reality. My morning walk is always a good idea-generator, too.”

When Jess is not busy creating beautiful jewelry and motivating small business owners with Create & Thrive, she loves to read and is currently on her third Kindle. She’s mostly drawn to the indie fantasy/paranormal romance genre and science fiction, her first love. An amateur triathlete, she also runs, swims or cycles almost every day.

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Her new bike! Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

Photo from Jess Van Den

She and Nick also love going hiking, and traveled through all of the National Parks down the US West Coast this year. They have traveled all over the world, and Jess takes a little something from each place she has visited.

“There have been so many amazing places – each one with something unique. I loved snorkeling off the islands in Fiji; taking a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef at sunset; walking the streets of Paris and New York; hiking amongst the Redwoods in California; swimming in Crater Lake in Oregon; playing in the snow in Whistler, Canada… and the list could go on. The world is endlessly beautiful and I only wish I could see all of it before I die.”

Jess says that anyone who hopes to venture into the world of silversmithing should simply “just start playing.” She recommends taking an in-person course (something you might be able to find on Skillshare) and she also recommends checking out Flourish & Thrive for the business aspect, as she says they are focused on helping jewelers grow their businesses.

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Nested Necklace. Photo from Jess Van Den

Looking into the future, Jess hopes to grow Create & Thrive and to reach more people with the same mindset she has now – to give them practical information and advice to make their handmade businesses a success. When asked what she liked the most about the handmade community, she said “the warmth and support.”

“People are part of our community because they have a passion for what they do, which I love.”

She wants people to realize that they don’t have to stick with the same day job day in and day out, if it’s not something they love and enjoy doing.

If they have a passion or an idea that they want to turn into a business, they owe it to themselves to give it a red-hot go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? You fail and keep doing that job. But if you make it work, you get the satisfaction of waking up every day knowing you’re doing something you love, following your own path. No-one’s going to do it for you – it’s up to you. If you want it, go for it!”

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Entwined Oxidised Urban Eco Earrings. Photo from Jess Van Den

Find about more about Jess and her beautiful jewelry by visiting her at both Epheriell and Create & Thrive. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. My Meet the Maker series appears every other Wednesday and you can find out more about these lovelies by visiting me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I would love to keep this going as long as I can, so if you know of anyone who would be a good fit, let me know!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

The best part about writing my Fridays are for Favorites series is the freedom to write about anything that I want, really. I know I already have that freedom since it’s my own blog and I create all the content, but I have set specific topics for each day, to help keep me on track. Monday, I write about moms. Tuesdays, health. Wednesdays, business-related. Thursday, thriftiness. Friday, favorite stuff. That can seriously be anything. I have found that I mostly write about new Etsy stores that I find and love.

With all the talk that has been going on about Etsy’s new policies, I thought this would be a great time to voice my own opinion. Although I am a seller on Etsy, I use it more to find other makers and to purchase handmade items. A little while back, I noticed that there were a few sellers who appeared to have mass-produced items in their shop, marked as “handmade.” Not cool, man. Not cool. There was no way of knowing for sure since only one owner was listed on the “about” page, but they all looked exactly the same and they were also sold at a price that was so low, it would not make sense if it was made by hand. It wouldn’t even cover the supplies.

So, I do agree with Etsy pushing its sellers to be more transparent. Being a blogger, I do a lot of research into each shop I look at, and I will tell you right now that I will be more willing to purchase from a shop that has one employee versus 100 employees. Each case is different, of course. But that is my overall feeling. So with this in mind…

I have found two completely awesome ways to get involved with the handmade community, and I am so excited to talk about them! I’m not ditching Etsy, I’m finding people who I want to purchase from and then visiting their Etsy shop, if that makes sense.

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Image belongs to Oh My Handmade Goodness

Oh My! Handmade Goodness – This site started at as a multi-author blog and evolved into a gathering space for creative entrepreneurs. Jessika, who runs the site now, offers community and marketplace memberships, advertising opportunities and community matchmaking. If you are not into any of that, you can also find tutorials, prints and printables there, too. I just signed up for the community membership last night and I already love it. It’s on a sliding scale of $7-20 per month, depending on what you can afford. My budget isn’t so hot right now, but I knew this would help get me to where I need to be with my blog and business right now. As a member, I have access to countless forum discussions where I can seek opinions, advice and collaboration. I could not ask for anything better.

Now, while I was in said forum at Oh My! Handmade Goodness, I found out about IAMTHELAB.

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

Image belongs to IAMTHELAB

IAMTHELAB was created with one mission in mind – to promote the handmade community. He offers a wealth of information in helping you form what he calls “the handmade trifecta,” your blog, shop and social media. I have the blogging part sort of down, but I am always looking for help with my shop and social media. So this was the perfect place for me. He shares examples of the handmade trifecta, and will explain how the person is dong it. And who is the first person I find on there? Amanda Wright from Wit & Whistle, whose story I am sharing next week! See, I knew this would be a perfect fit. I also found a Handmade Directory where bloggers and makers can hang out and hopefully work together. And not in that overwhelming, pushing way that I have seen so many times before.

I hope this has helped you get in touch with some new faces and resources. If you know of any other awesome places to find creative businesses like this, please let us know. You can post in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #creativentrepreneurs. And if you are looking for more inspiration, you can always visit my Pinterest!