Hello sweet readers! My name is Meg and I am the main gal behind the bustling handmade community of 20 Best Twenty. Each month I will be teaming up with the darling Allie of Be Up & Doing to curate brilliant, talented and one of a kind handmade designs from creative minds from all over the globe. Each month will be dedicated to a certain theme and scheme, so since school and work is back in full swing, we knew your desks could be spiced up a bit, just like our own.
Now let’s hop to “Creating Your Office Space!”
How about we start with the goods, meaning the paper goods. There is nothing like a blank notebook or journal to get the creative juices flowing, so I think a fresh moleskine, like the one from Subtle Acts, or this leather bound journal, from Dearest Jackdaw, that you can throw in a bag is an essential to always have around. A simple, sturdy and reliable page marker is something I believe is a “must” as well. And I just love the organic feel to the ones from Miles of Light. Obviously you would need something simple, sleek and sturdy to write with as well, so these natural bark colored pencils from nane Handmade just screamed to me. There is something to be said for “less is more” and I believe that an uncluttered work flow is definitely useful to an entreprenuer and creative spirit.
Now that we have the essentials out of the way – we can get to the good stuff, the design and decor! I love simple design elements paired with bold colors, patterns and textures – this is where you can really let your personality and style shine through in your work environment. So don’t be shy – just always be true to yourself.
First off, I believe an inspiring print can really set the mood for an office space, and I just love this one from Splendid and Sound – all success happens drop by drop! Like I said before, pops of color can really perk a mood and provide positivity throughout a busy work day, so this dazzling bowl from etco would fit the office space perfectly. Since we all hustle and bustle around for our design or freelance jobs, I think that what you tote your precious laptop or iPad in is of utmost importance, so when I found this unique creation from Blackbird and The Owl, I had to snag it. I also love plants, greenery and nature in an office environment, so this concrete pot from Rough Fusion would be the perfect addition to add to a window sill – hopefully you have more of a green thumb than myself! We all know how key lighting is to get your work done, perhaps better yet, to create the perfect atmosphere for early mornings or late nights – so this modern table lamp from Ample Furniture just fits in so well. And finally, as an entreprenuer and constant go-getter (like yourselves), I know how important networking, mingling and connecting with the people you meet everyday is – trust me, I know. That is why when I saw this striking card case from Blackbird and The Owl (just like the laptop case), I knew it would fit in to toss into a bag and hold those all important biz cards!
Whew, can you believe those are all from handmade designers? Sometimes I have to shake myself to remember that great design and brilliant ideas are not just in retail stores, usually the best ones are being created next door.
Note from Allie: Meg will be sharing her heart for handmade every month so take a moment to say hi in the comment section! Oh and be sure to check out my feature over on 20 Best Twenty where I’m giving tips on branding your small business!
We spent the weekend with the Cooks and their adorable pups Violet and Oliver in Indianapolis. Desh (our cockapoo pictured above) is exhausted from playing fetch all weekend but I had to share some of my favorite shots of my furry friends.
Violet (picture above) has the cutest little face and the LONGEST eyelashes. I’ve never met a more observant dog. Oliver (picture below) loves to lick your face.
I hope your Monday is a little brighter (especially with the puppy butt picture). If you want to see more photos from our trip, check out some of my shots on Instagram. How was your weekend?
I had planned on blogging about something else today but just didn’t have the time or energy to compile it all. It was just one of those weeks. Nothing horrible happened. Actually a lot of great things took place. I had two amazing branding strategy sessions with new clients, I got coffee with some of my favorite people, and I hit some personal health goals!
So what went wrong? It was just a tough week as a freelance designer. I’m working through issues and how to avoid them in the future. I’m figuring out my business budget. We have a lot of upcoming trips and for the first time (since quitting my full-time day job) I’m managing my projects around those. Nothing horrible but overall I felt stressed as soon as I let my mind wander.
This weekend we’re going to Indianapolis to see our friends Megan + Josh. Not only do I love them so much – I admire them too. I’m excited to spend time in their lovely home, talking and visiting their favorite local restaurants.
How do you deal with those kind of weeks? Any fun plans this weekend?
I have such a not-so-secret love for Instagram. It’s my “happy place” in the social media world. I’ve curated and chosen to follow those that take breathtaking, everyday photos. I tend to use my Instagram feed to share the little moments throughout my day that either make me laugh, smile or surprise me with inspiration. Feel free to follow me @alliepal or view my account here!
I also thought it would be fun to share a few users that I truly love following. These are users that I admire because of the cohesiveness in their collection and their eye for everyday beauty. I hope to do this at least once a month!
@heatherzweig: I have loved following her Instagram account since she stopped blogging regularly.
@jordanbrantley: I met Jordan via Blog Brunch and love the life in her photos. Plus she’s a great designer.
@alissa_mae: Alissa’s feed makes me feel calm and peaceful while simultaneously sparking a desire to travel.
@dabito: I love everything this man touches.
How do you use Instagram? How do you choose to follow other users? Any favorite Instagramers that I should be following?
For those that are local, I’m speaking at an Instagram seminar next month! You should snag a ticket and come out!
I’m a little over a month into freelancing full-time (although I’ve owned my own business since early 2010) and I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools so far. While I love sharing advice + tips to my blog readers, you all must know that I often sit at my desk and think, “Oh my gosh I have so much to learn.” So while I am suggesting some small business tools today…I may change my methods next month or next year!
Finances, Taxes and Bookkeeping:
This is probably my least favorite part of owning my own business. I’m thankful that I’m extremely organized (in my own, weird way) but it’s just not fun to pay bills, taxes and saving. When you’re billing a client, you need to keep in mind that you’ll immediately be losing about 30% of that fee upfront due to taxes. This entire concept has changed my process of pricing now that we depend on 100% of my freelance income. Before, I had my full-time day job to cover personal expenses and all of my freelance income was extra! Here are a few tools that I’ve used over the years:
- CurdBee: I used this the first two years to invoice. It only costs $5 a month and you can customize the template.
- Freshbooks: Extremely easy to use for invoicing and bookkeeping. I used the $30/mo package and it worked really well.
- Upsourced Accounting: These guys are phenomenal and I currently use them for invoicing, bookkeeping and they help me file my quarterly taxes. If you’re a small business owner, I would highly recommend them.
I work exclusively in Adobe Creative Suite 6 and subscribe to their monthly cloud service. For $30/month, I can access the entire suite and access InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects daily. It’s been such a great experience and don’t mind paying the monthly fee (versus the $1,500 fee to upgrade all at once from CS3). Some other tools that I use daily are:
- Wacom Intuos 4 tablet: This has taken me awhile to get familiar with (compared to drawing by hand and scanning it in) but I love it.
- Canon T2i: I just upgrade to this camera from the basic Canon DSLR and am excited to increase the quality of my photos here on my blog + create video content with clients.
- Moleskine notebook (x-large, soft cover): I have one notebook for ideas and another for drawing. Perfect size.
- Meeting notebook: I use this notebook for when I meet with clients. It keeps everything organized and I can establish action items that need to happen.
I am trying to constantly learn and as I learn…I realize how much I still don’t know! I recently joined Lynda.com and spend a few hours a day watching tutorials for CS6 programs. It is phenomenal and know that it’s one of the best investments that I could make. Some other great resources that I’d recommend to designers:
- Design is a Job
- Designers Don’t Read
- The Elements of Typographic Style
- Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
- Method & Craft
I don’t like to call this networking because really it’s all about relationships. If you treat people like people and meet your deadlines…you will do well. I use Contactually to keep in contact with people that I’ve connected with over the years. I would also suggest looking up Matthew Kimberley’s 5 Things You Need To Do Every Morning To Get More Clients in 60 Days. It changed the way that I approach social media and professional relationships.
Any resources or tips that you would recommend? Like I said…I still have lots to learn!
I have 20 days left of this spending freeze and I’m happy to announce that besides my minor slip up in Chicago last month, I’ve stuck to it! Needless to say, I have big plans to boost our economy after this month is over. I’m definitely going to need to exercise self-control. After not shopping for a month and a half, I’ve realized what exactly I want to spend my money on. I’ve decided to start investing in timeless, classic pieces that might have a bigger price tag (vs shopping cheaply and impulsively). The key word will be investment. I also am going to restrain from buying a lot of new things for our tropical vacation in October. I tend to go wild and buy lots of “summer-like” items before a vacation when – in reality – I just wear my bathing suit + the same dress when we go out. I do, however, plan on getting a shellac manicure! I need to find a good salon around here…
Thankfully, last week I was able to visit a Plato’s Closet and sell a lot of my trendier, name brand clothing that I never wore last fall. They ended up buying everything for $45 (which is a lot compared to what I normally get) and I walked over to Marshall’s to peruse their selection. Since I’ve decided to stop buying cheap pieces of clothing impulsively, I veered towards the purse section. I knew they had a lot of great name brand purses for cheap and spotted a gorgeous Steve Madden satchel!
Originally $100, I feel like I scored a great deal because it only cost $40 and it’s something that I can see using for years. Perfect for the cooler months ahead! I’m also in the process of planning a swap party for the end of the month so I’ll be sure to share how that goes!
Have you scored any great deals lately? I LOVE deals, free shipping, coupons, etc and so feel free to share any tips too.
For the past four weeks, I’ve been giving up on sugar and grains from my diet and since I share most things here on this blog…I figured I should share this! I say “giving up on” because I want to give up on being dependent on certain foods (physically and psychologically). Before I get into details, you must know a few things:
- I am not following the Paleo diet
- I’m not doing this to lose weight (although I have experienced weight loss)
- Since Adam is following the 4 Hour Body diet, I tend to eat a lot of the same things he does to make it easier
- On the weekends, I tend to loosen up a bit on what I eat because – in my opinion – socializing and relationships are just as important
I recently bought this sparkly Nine West makeup bag ($10 at Marshall’s!) after selling a lot of my clothes at Plato’s Closet so I thought it would be fun to share exactly what I keep inside! I keep my makeup pretty simple. It’s never drastic and I like to stick with neutrals. I’m not exactly brand loyal but I do try to buy what’s best and works for me.
- Mascara: I use two brands. Clinique Lash Power Mascara as a base (and it only comes off with warm water) and then I top it off with Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara to make my lashes longer.
- Concealer: I use Natural Cream Mineralogie for under my eyes. Now that summer is over, I’ll probably start mixing it with something lighter.
- Foundation: I absolutely love Bare Escentuals and have been using their Original SPF 15 Foundation for years. It’s a loose power and the coverage is great (not too heavy and not too light).
- Eyeshadows: For any eye color, I use Bobbi Brown. The two shades I use are Rose Gold and Bone. Her shadows are affordable and I’d rather experiment with shades regularly.
- Blush: Again, I use Bare Escentuals for my blush! I wear The Aphrodisiac and like that it’s compact vs loose powder.
- Brow Pencil: I went to Nordstrom one night and asked what brow pencil they recommended the most. $35 dollars later, I walked out with Smashbox’s Brow Tech To Go. AMAZING. Would totally recommend it. I love that it’s angled, I don’t have to sharpen anything, and it comes with a gel brush.
- Eyeliner: Since I use Clinique’s mascara and use their face wash/lotion, it was only a matter of time before they got me hooked on something else. The Cream Shaper for Eyes is creamy/soft but doesn’t smudge or come off with water.
- Tweezers: Nothing special and I have no idea what brand. They just work really well!
- Lash Curler: Also some generic brand. Any suggestions on one worth purchasing?
- Shadow Primer: Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance in Candlelight is a great primer to use before applying your eyeshadow. I think the shade has been too light for summer but I might as well stick it out since autumn is near!
- Brushes: I only use three brushes and they’re all from Bare Escentuals. Speaking of…I need to clean my brushes. I’m embarrassed to admit but I’ve never done that before. Any tips?
So that’s what I wear everyday! As I list it all out, it seems like a lot but I swear it only takes me 5 minutes to apply everything. I don’t keep any lip stains, glosses or chapstick in my makeup bag (they’re usually all in my purse) but I am on the hunt for a few new products:
- A really good lip exfoliant. I think I’m going to buy one of Lush’s lip scrubs next month.
- A lighter concealer for fall/winter.
- A lip stain that actually stays!
What’s in YOUR makeup bag? Feel free to copy the post and link below! Any products that have your loyalty? Recommendations?
*All photos taken on my Canon T2i
Another round of Good Goods! This month’s round up is a compilation of things currently on my wishlist so I can’t necessarily attest to whether they’re actually good. Feel free to check out my other Good Goods boards here. I try to limit my “materialistic” posts here on my blog and really try to share only the things that really catch my eye. Enjoy!
- Korres Pomegranate Cleansing Wipes: Sometimes when I’m laying in bed (and have no energy to wash my face), I wish that I had these to feed my laziness.
- Kate Spade’s Gold Coast Janine (for my MacBook Pro): I’m currently using a bag that’s a lot more casual/practical but this one is gorgeous (and pricey).
- EatSmart Precision Pro kitchen scale: A lot of the gluten-free/grain-free recipes that I use measure weight vs amount. They utilize ratios too.
- Moroccan Oil hairspray: I’ve heard nothing but good things about this stuff. I just ran out of hairspray so I feel like I should be able to pick up a bottle (right?).
- World Cuisine Vegetable Slicer: Think of how many zucchini noodles I could make!
- Pencil Satchel: Um, amazing.
Has anything caught your eye lately? This last month of my spending freeze is going to be tough. When the weather starts changing, I get an itch to update my wardrobe for the season. I’m going to use this month to carefully craft a list of things I really NEED for autumn and actually invest in quality pieces when October 1st rolls around.