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!

The Living Situation: Work it, girl

Work it girlI never really imagined how challenging it would be to get any projects finished with a toddler in the house. She’s constantly on the move, which means I am, too. So I was actually pretty pumped when I learned that my workspace would be moved out of the house  – due to the baby on the way – and into the studio in our backyard. We’re pretty lucky to have that studio in the first place.

Half of the studio will be storage for both our belongings and our tools, and the other half will be all mine! Obviously I won’t be able to get in there that often, but when I do, I will have free range to do what I want! To help get the creative juices flowing, I found some pretty inspiring workspaces and wanted to share them with you!

From A Beautiful Mess

From A Beautiful Mess

Of course I love this space from A Beautiful Mess. It would be perfect for the tool storage, and I could put a lot of my bigger supplies there, along with the little ones. I would just need to figure out a way to include the personal belongings storage and make it all work. This is definitely a good place to start, though.

From Karson Butler Events on Inspired by This

From Karson Butler Events on Inspired by This

I have a multitude of notebooks, ranging from big and small, and everything in between. I try to keep one with me at all times in case I get inspired by something. Since I often write in different notebooks, the ideas and concepts often get lost. I would love to have a chalkboard wall with a corkboard so I can keep track of all my crazy ideas. And there is just something about this chalkboard wall from the design studio of Karson Butler Events, and featured on Inspired by This. It just screams “CREATE IN HERE!” (hence the caps).

From Paper Fashion, featured on Glitter Guide

From Paper Fashion, featured on Glitter Guide

Katie Rodgers from Paper Fashion sure knows how to make a comfy workspace. I would probably opt out of putting a couch in the room – strictly out of fear that I would just end up lying on it the whole time – but I would definitely love to have the lights up, and I love all of the bright colors. It totally brightens the mood and gets you energized…perfect for getting to work. You can see more of this workspace over at Glitter Guide.

From Heart Handmade UK

From Heart Handmade UK

What really caught my attention about this room by Heart Handmade UK was the use of storage, especially this fabric cabinet. All of my fabric ends up in a bin and then is forgotten. If I kept it visible like that, it might actually get put to use – what a thought! I also love the vintage odds and ends she has decorating her space. See the entire craft room tour by clicking on her blog link above.

Have a fun creative workspace to share? See something that inspires you? Share it in the comments and join the fun by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Twitter!

Crafting and the art of taking it slow

My attention span has always been incredibly short. If something wasn’t completed in the first few hours of me working on it, it was done. Tossed aside and never to be looked at again, unless by happenstance. So many cute sewing projects, paintings and DIY projects are still unfinished and in storage bins that I don’t have the courage (aka patience) to dig through.

Motherhood has taught me to handle things a little differently. My attention span is still small, as I will find half-finished piles of laundry and a sink full of half-washed dishes from time to time, but now I have an excuse. My daughter is constantly pulling at me and if you saw her face, you would pick her up, too.

IMG_2497I made a plan to work on my art projects while she was sleeping, which is about two hours a day, give or take. Sometimes I trade in art time for a nap, for cleaning time or to just veg out on the couch. A couple weeks ago, I finally decided to go into my bin of projects I have yet to start – mainly because it will be less to move when I have to relocate my little workspace – and found a frame I wanted to paint.

IMG_2499The first day, I worked on the first coat. I was reminded that I left my paint in the car for too long the other day, because it was super liquidy and made a huge mess. So I spent the majority of my two hours cleaning paint off every inch of my table and trying to thicken it up a little. After I finally surrendered to another color, I was able to finish the first coat before she woke up.

That night, the shelf above my table came crashing down, spilled my paint cup all over the place and ruined two projects I previously worked on. That taught me to not leave finished projects lying around, but to actually do what I intended to do with them. Now I have zero proof that I finished a project.

IMG_2555Throughout the week, I was able to put a couple more coats on, and finally got it ready for the detailing. I tried to do it all with my paint pen so that I wouldn’t have to waste time getting all my paint stuff together and could do it while Cecilia was watching cartoons, but it turns out that my pen is too thick for the thin line I want to paint.

I’m slowly learning that it’s OK to give myself time to work on something. I enjoy having a project to work on every day, and it gives me time to think about different ideas for my piece. I still need to paint the backboard with my chalk paint, and then I’ll hang it up in either my workspace or Cecilia’s room. And then it will be on to the next unfinished project!

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I’m leaving one side undone until I figure out what I want to do with it. My attention span is not that bad 🙂

IMG_2562What projects are you working on? Do you give yourself a couple hours a day to work on it or do you get it all done in the first shot? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Weekly Wishes #6

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Image belongs to the Nectar Collective

Last week, I decided to skip the Weekly Wishes post because it felt too rushed and I was out running errands with my friend to prepare for Thanksgiving and get some Christmas shopping done. I’ve decided to make most of the presents that I can, and to shop early for what I need to get from the store. That way, I can spend time personalizing the wrapping if I wasn’t able to make the gifts by hand.

I’ve returned to Weekly Wishes this week as it really helps me organize my thoughts before I start the week, and it motivates me to get started on what I want done. It’s also a really amazing feeling to look back at the past week(s) and see what I got accomplished…or what I really need to focus on this week. I actually changed the way I was working on my business idea, taking them week by week and day by day, focusing on the tasks and giving them more attention. In turn, I am a lot more satisfied with the result.

Here’s what I wanted to accomplish two weeks ago: Work on flyer for Baby Burrito website, start chalk/cork board, get yoga routine down, work on my garden, organize craft closet and designate a workspace.

How I did: I finished the flyer for the website and it’s posted! I also updated the membership and services pages and added a testimonials page. I am so happy with the way my website works, that now I will only need to do a few tweaks here and there. I did start on the chalk/cork board and I am hoping to finish it this week. I didn’t get a yoga routine down and I sort of abandoned my garden this week, but I did get to the craft closet and workspace!

This Week’s Wishes:

Business: Baby Burrito Collective – Create a space for graphic designers and other business services to advertise their services and work. We will do a button on the sidebar but I need another space with more of their information. I’m going to look at the theme to see what I can do. Sweet Mariposa – List Kandyce’s paintings and mason jar candle holders

baby burrito flyer

Creative: Finish my cork/chalkboard. I painted the chalkboard side and cut out the corkboard and foam board to go behind it. Now, I need to attach that to the wood and then staple some fabric over the cork. After that, I’ll attach the wood to the barn window (which will act as my frame) and put the backing on it. I’m going to keep that right now to put in my workspace, but if it looks good, I might think of making more to sell!

unnamed

Fitness: Get my yoga routine down, focus on clean/healthy eating. I know the holidays will be tough to stay on track, but I need to focus on eating right and working out when I can. I just need to keep reminding myself how important this is, and force myself to do it if I have to.

Home: Turn my newly designated workspace into a Christmas wrapping station. I want to wrap one gift at a time and really focus on designing the packaging, so I need to start now so I won’t feel so rushed. I have really focused on slowing down and doing everything one step at a time, and it has been the best thing for me.

What are your weekly wishes? Write about them and link up to the Nectar Collective. You can also share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Here’s to having another lovely and productive week!

Yo Momma Monday: Stefanie Lin

yo momma monday

Meet Stefanie Lin, 30, from Sloughton WI, who has started her own Virtual Assistant business, called Crafty Helper. She keeps creative businesses in order with all of the services she offers online. This way, you can get an Assistant when you need one, and don’t need to worry about keeping one on the books during your slower seasons.

Before she started Crafty Helper, Stefanie worked a lot of Customer Service jobs and most recently, was running a small business for an owner who lived across the country. She got the idea to start her own business after working the indie craft fair circuit for several years and noticed that so many of her crafty friends were too busy keeping up with the business aspect that they didn’t have time for the creative side anymore.

“So many weren’t at a place to hire an employee on their payroll but needed some help and bonus would love to work with someone who “got it” (i.e: the handmade movement/community).  I saw a need that I could fill.”

While Stefanie has her personal blog called Artsy Momma, she also started a blog for Crafty Helper when the site went live. That blog is more business-driven, where she throws in her past experiences and shares her opinion on various small business related topics.

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

“If I help someone or give them motivation, my work is done. The bonus is that they keep me in mind when they are at a point that they need a set of capable hands to help them move their business forward and take that next step!”

A mother to four, her day is spent balancing work and family life. Her mornings are dedicated to getting her two oldest kids off to school and checking e-mails. Then she run errands with her little ones and does most of her work while they are napping. She also runs an antique booth with her best friend so she will stop in with her baby to check on that and then checks in with her clients at her weekly Skype meetings. She fits in some family time, then it’s back to work again once the kids are all in bed.

Her workspace is a desk in the family room, and she shares it with her kids for their homework and educational games. She does have a studio for her sewing and painting in the basement, but it usually ends up in the living room.

“I cant help it I love to be in the middle of the action!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Since Stefanie’s husband works nights and sleeps during the day, she handles most of the parenting until the weekends, when they screw up his work schedule and he spends time with the family. They like going out to their favorite local restaurants, enjoying a good movie and doing projects together at home, although her husband isn’t a huge fan of the resulting mess.

“I always tell people though you pick what you are passionate about and what you make time for.  I love what I do so I work hard and I do all that I can with the time I have.  As for folding laundry, well that can wait 😀  (Maybe that will be my kids memory of their childhood, clean clothes in hampers, eek!)”

While it can be hard to manage everything, Stefanie refers to her husband as her biggest cheerleader as he always helps her with designing an art booth, cutting down frames for her paintings and watching the kids when she has craft fairs.

“This new adventure though gives me more time to be in the crafty world but get to keep my weekends free to spend with my family as a whole, and for that I am thankful!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

As a small business owner and creative herself, Stefanie knows how time-consuming yet necessary all of the business aspects are, and that is why she believes that virtual assistants are so important to small/handmade business owners.

“So much now for businesses is done online and there are only so many hours in the day to do all the things to “stay relevant” and still be able to make the product you are selling…  A virtual assistant can do so much of the online work for an artist so that the artist can still have their name/brand out there but keep working on what they are passionate about, what they started out the business to begin with to make amazing/awesome/beautiful products”

Like so many business mamas, Stefanie’s favorite part about running her own business is the flexibility and the fact that she is always there for her kids. Since her business is still in the baby pages, she was a little scared about getting her first clients. Just a month in, she is already getting good feedback and referrals.

Since most of her clients are also mamas, they understand that weekends are dedicated to family time, and then Mondays she’s back on the grind. Even with this flexibility, she admits that she has become attached to her mobile devices (really though, who hasn’t) and that she forces herself to put the phone down and be completely present.

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

“When my kids look back on their childhood, I don’t want my phone to be the thing they remember, I want my smile and the projects we do together to be the first memories and the phone/computer just a minimal part of it!”

After all, it was a quilt hunt when she was pregnant with her first daughter that got her involved with craft shows in the first place. She wanted to make her baby a quilt, but hadn’t sewn a day in her life before then, so her husband bought her a sewing machine for Valentine’s Day. As it turns out, she was not so hot on quilting and finally decided to hire someone to make the dream quilt. In the meantime, she grew quite fond of sewing.

“I started with totes applied for my first show (didn’t sell a thing!) learned from it, got my first consignment store and hit the ground running! It wasn’t a straight path from sewing I started collecting vintage fabric which lead to vintage patterns. I wanted to paint my own faces which started out first very whimsical but have come full circle and I paint a bit more realistic but still with my own twist of using lots of texture and glazes to create paintings that have an old vintage vibe to them.”

She got involved with the Oh My Handmade! community after she followed the blog for a while and looked to it as an amazing resource for crafty businesses and a trusted voice on the online world. She finally decided to join the community and found “an amazing group of creatives I get to hang out with/ bounce ideas off of/ learn from/cheer on.”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Stefanie’s favorite thing about what she does is creating connections and working with happy and positive people. She loves being able to help them and cheer them on, and sharing knowledge about her past experiences while learning to work with new sites and applications.

“I am all about growing and learning, I like to stay busy so getting to learn new things makes me pretty happy!”

Her advice for new creative business owners is simple: just start doing it.

“I am all about information but if all you do is collect information and don’t take the first baby steps to where you want to go you will get overwhelmed and just sit there with tons of information, and what good is that?  Fake it till you make it baby!  And don’t let the gremlins in your head tell you aren’t worthy of your crafty dreams you are, you can do it.”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

As for the future of her own business, Stefanie hopes to start a YouTube channel, keep a consistent blogging schedule, look for some good advertising spaces and continue to help artists make their own creative business dreams come true. Her plan for the antique booth is to continue the antique hunt and hopefully expand her booth into two.

“I also would love to help artist/handmade businesses break out of the mentality that they have to do it all for a long time before they are successful, hiring someone may hit the pocketbook initially but having that free time to really build your business is worth its weight in gold (and your sanity)”

For now, Stefanie’s heart is happy being able to cheer on other small businesses and make achieving their creative business dreams just that much easier. She hopes others will get the same fulfillment from their work, regardless of which avenue they choose.

“We all have our special gifts and we love and are passionate about other things.  It is finding that passion that you want to do all the time and can make a living doing.  I am not wanting to become a millionaire that is never my intention I want to have a healthy happy life work balance and make sure my family is taken care of but for me that means living in our cozy home driving a not so new vehicle and one day having chickens in the backyard.  Everyone’s dream is different and that is absolutely OK that is what makes being a human being so freaking amazing!”

Photo from Stefanie Lin

Photo from Stefanie Lin

To find out more about Stefanie Lin and Crafty Helper, you can check out her website here and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you have an idea for Yo Momma Monday, let me know by posting in the comments or using the hashtag #yomommamonday in your posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram. Visit my Pinterest to find more awesome mama inspiration!

Yo Momma Monday: Bev Feldman from Linkouture

yo momma monday

Meet Bev Feldman, 31, from Cambridge, MA who is the newest mama I know, and the jewelry designer behind Linkouture – the modern chainmaille jewelry company that she started in 2010. She welcomed her first baby, Eve Lily Feldman, on the 17th of this month.

This interview was completed before Bev had her baby. You can read more about her sweet baby girl here. Her Etsy shop is currently in Vacation mode until the end of January for some mama/baby bonding.

Bev was first introduced the jewelry making business in the third grade, when she and her friends made and “sold” safety pin beaded bracelets to their classmates as part of a project for school. Then in the seventh grade, Bev participated in her very first craft fair – where she sold daisy chain necklaces and bracelets. It wasn’t until she discovered chainmaille on Etsy that she got serious about her craft.

“I discovered Etsy and went on a bit of a pearl-buying binge before I discovered chainmaille. I was instantly drawn to the look of it and decided to try it out myself. Before I knew it I was hooked and decided I wanted to open my own Etsy shop.”

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

Photo from Bev Feldman. Credit: George Diep

With a background in both education and human services, Bev worked with Cambridge children and families who dealt with autism – organizing playgroups, doing outreach and general family support. Before she decided to take her business full-time, she traveled around South America for five months with her husband.

Bev initially started her blog as something she was supposed to do for her business and write a whole lot in the beginning, as she was more focused on the blog she shared with her husband – Flight of the Feldmans – where they chronicled their five month journey in South America.

“When I got back in June of 2012 I decided to focus more on my personal blog, and in the process realized I actually really liked blogging.”

Naturally, Bev’s pregnancy altered her work, especially in the first trimester and by the second trimester, she was feeling more like herself again. Once she hit the third trimester, it more affected the physical aspects of her work – like lugging around heavy tents at the local craft fairs she attended.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“I’ll admit, the first trimester was tough. I was exhausted, nauseated when I wasn’t eating, and it totally messed with my emotions. I really didn’t feel very motivated and wondered how I would ever work on my business… Also, I realized it wouldn’t be realistic for me to do holidays shows since I am due right at the start of the holiday season. Thankfully I am able to sell my jewelry at the Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery–amazingly things worked out really well and I’m lucky to be part of such an awesome handmade group!”

Bev has always loved going to craft shows and knew that was something she needed to participate in to really get her business rolling. Like anyone who is just starting out, Bev was nervous about applying and says she has been rejected from a couple of shows. However, she has also been surprised by the shows she did accepted into.

“It is a lot harder than I thought it would be (both getting accepted and actually participating in them), but it was well worth it in regards to exposing my work to more people and connecting to the handmade community in the Boston area.”

Depending on what’s going on that week, the amount of jewelry Bev makes per week varies. If she has a craft show one week, she will focus on creating new pieces and restocking her inventory – meaning she will average about 30 pieces per week. Other weeks, she will focus more on blogging and less on creating jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“Some days I am more focused on blogging, other days it is preparing for a show and making jewelry. Each day is so different it is hard to say what a normal day is for me! The one thing that is consistent is how shockingly fast each day goes by.”

Bev’s workspace also doubles as their kitchen table, which she says drives her husband a little crazy, especially when she is making jewelry! The large size and brightness of her kitchen makes it a good space to work, although she would love to have a little studio of her own, one day. She says her inspiration for designs can either come from wandering around a bead shop for a while and looking at all the different beads, and sometimes an idea might just pop in her head.

“Other times I will pull out a bunch of supplies and just see what I come up with.”

Jewelry wasn’t the only thing Bev started as a child – she also got into knitting in the fourth grade, when she was home sick for a day. Her mom got her some knitting needles and yarn, and taught her the basics. She didn’t pick it up again until she was sophomore in College and saw some people doing it, then she got a book and retaught herself. Now, she will do it as a social activity but says she never got into it the way she did with jewelry.

Photo from Bev Feldman

Photo from Bev Feldman

“It’s one of those activities I’ll do for awhile and get bored with and not touch again for a year or two. Unfortunately as a result I have several started projects and way too much yarn!”

She also took woodworking when she was in middle school and loved it, and would like to take a class again. Another hobby she has wanted to try for years is glassblowing.

For Bev, the best thing about running her own business is learning new skills that she probably wouldn’t use otherwise, and making her own schedule. The scariest part is identifying herself as both a jewelry artist and a blogger.

“I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself and surprised myself with what I am capable of doing…for the longest time I felt like a fraud and was going to get called out on it.”

She recently started a series of interviews with a variety of makers because she wanted to support other handmade businesses, something she knows needs to be done as a small business owner herself. She was inspired to start this because she is always amazed at what other people are doing and wanted a platform for sharing what she found with a broader audience.

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Photo from Bev Feldman

“I definitely learn a lot from the people I interview–I think they offer great advice, which is actually applicable to more than just other makers.”

Looking into the future, Bev dreams of putting a book together for children and parents. Through her, she hopes that people will find inspiration to start businesses of their own.

“When I tell people what I do, I often get “That’s so cool! I would love to do something like that.” Just a couple years ago I would have never imagined I would be working for myself. I hope to inspire people to see that anyone can do it.”

You can find out more about Bev and Linkouture by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you have an idea for Yo Momma Monday, let me know by posting in the comments or using the hashtag #yomommamonday in your posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram. Visit my Pinterest to find more awesome mama inspiration!