Me, At 20

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I get a lot of emails asking me two questions: “What advice do you have for someone in college (studying design)?” and “What would you have done differently in college now that you know what you know?”

For awhile I would come up with some pretty solid responses. I would tell people how I didn’t really learn much in college, that it felt like a waste of money and to go to a school in a city where you could network! But as I started thinking about it recently…I decided to change my answer. I started thinking back on my college life and realized the following:

  • I didn’t do well in many of my classes
  • I didn’t really have school spirit
  • I stayed up way too late and skipped most of my classes before noon
  • I didn’t get an awesome internship my junior year
  • I went to school in the middle of nowhere
  • I didn’t love design like I do now

But here’s what I did do:

  • I was making art with my hands. Painting. Drawing. Sculpting.
  • I didn’t have much anxiety
  • I traveled. A LOT.
  • I took an insane amount of Photobooth pictures like the one above and then probably made out with Adam immediately after
  • I met and lived alongside my best friends

That time for me was really precious. In a way – I am envious of 20-year-old me. I feel quite successful professionally but there’s something really amazing about that time in my life. Carefree, curious and adventurous. I want to incorporate those things back into my life on a day-to-day basis.

So the next time someone asks me about college (and what I would do differently), I’ll probably say:

Not a damn thing.

 

What’s In My Makeup Bag

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I always love seeing what’s in other bloggers’ makeup bags so I thought I’d share what’s in mine! I did a post like this about a year ago and it’s funny to see how much has changed. I do buy a lot of makeup and test things out but tend to stick with these products here on a day-to-day basis.

Face

  • Concealer: I just started using Benefit’s Fakeup Concealer. The actual tinted concealer is surrounded by moisturizing goodness and so it’s not cakey and it doesn’t crease. I’m sad to admit but my dark circles have gotten worse since starting my own business and this stick transforms me.
  • Foundation: I don’t know why I switched to liquid foundation but since I had been using powder foundation for years, I wanted something really sheer. I picked up NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer when we were in Hawaii. I absolutely love it. It gives me enough coverage but never feels too heavy.
  • Bronzer: My absolute favorite bronzer is NARS in Laguna. I use it to create more of a cheekbone and nothing more. There was a time where I would cover my whole face in bronzer and my neck didn’t really appreciate the two-tone look. I use a Bobby Brown blush brush (amazing) to apply.
  • Blush: I haven’t made the switch to a NARS blush yet because this bareMineral’s blush has lasted me for SO LONG. The powder is really compact and so it doesn’t go on heavy at all. I use a small bareMinerals blush brush too.

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Eyes

  • Eyebrows: It wasn’t until recently that I started shaping my brows and wow it makes a difference. After trying lots of pencils, I found Anastasia’s Brow Powder Duo and LOVE it. I use an angled brush to apply.
  • Eyeshadow: I tend to stick with Urban Decay’s NAKED Basics for my eye color. I never wear anything other than a neutral shade. I use a random brush that I got for Christmas to apply with one sweeping motion. Nothing fancy. Someday I’ll learn how to apply my eyeshadow in a legit way. Oh and most of the time I prime my lids with NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.
  • Eyeliner: I’m still rocking the same stick of Clinique’s Cream Shaper for Eyes. My all time favorite liner. It doesn’t melt or smudge off and the Black Diamond shade isn’t as harsh as most black liners.
  • Eyelashes: I curl my lashes since they’re pretty much non-existent and still rock the Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara. What an awesome name for a line of mascara.

As far as lips go – I go back and forth between a matte NARS lipstick (I have a million shades) or Dior Addict Lip Glow (it create the perfect pink shade…I swear).

What are your favorite brands or pieces? Do you wear makeup every day? I definitely don’t which is why mine lasts longer than when I had an office job. Sometimes I look at my makeup bag and I don’t even want to know how much I’ve spent on the stuff.

Catching Up

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This post is one of the first posts (in almost 5 years of blogging) where I feel like I’m catching up with an old friend. I sat down to blog yesterday and realized there were things that I wanted to share. Nothing important, really. But I stayed off Twitter and even Instagram most of the weekend and so it makes connecting on Monday all the sweeter! Here’s what’s been happening in my life – feel free to share about yours in the comment section too!

  • I had such a fun day on Adam’s birthday. I can’t really speak for him but I think he did too! I got him a Macbook Air (his old, old Macbook was starting to really slow down his workflow) and surprised him with it in the morning. We got lunch, shopped and then got a hotel room downtown that evening. So nice to spend time away from work the entire day.
  • I worked out twice this past weekend. That’s huge for me. I let exercise take the back burner every.single.year and I’m not going to let it happen again. I’m attending my first group fitness class tomorrow and I’m already nervous. Good thing my brother is the one teaching it!
  • I have a babillion (I got that word from my friend Whitney) things to do and have a feeling this week is going to be epic. I’ll be launching 3 client blog/sites before October 1st and I’m PSYCHED!
  • I also had 4 photoshoots on Sunday and they all turned out beautifully. All different and unique. The photo above is one of the photos I shot. A pumpkin spice latte on the first day of fall. You can’t get anymore Pinterest than that!
  • Oh also, Adam and I watched through the first two seasons of Scandal. OMG THAT SHOW! Are you a tv watcher? We don’t have cable so I usually wait til Fridays to catch up on all my shows on Hulu+. I kind of like not being restricted by tv show schedules but can’t handle spoilers on Twitter.
  • Even though I love the weeks – I’m excited for Friday. My new iPhone 5S delivers AND we leave for a weekend in Chicago. I’ll see my sister, parents, best friend Jen and her family AND my Haute Blog partner.

So yeah. Life is awesome and busy. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Later this week I’ll be blogging about what I wish I had known in collegd, a nerdy blogger tip on how to get more traffic and my current makeup favorites.

A Happy Day

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It’s my sweetheart’s 28th birthday today! I love birthdays (other peoples’, my own, my enemies’) and have always made a huge deal out of them. I pride myself in topping myself each year for Adam’s and this year is no exception. I actually have the ULTIMATE birthday planned for him but I need to build towards it so probably not until he’s 40 or 50. I’m not joking.

So this post is dedicated to my favorite person in the world. If you all would take a minute and wish him a happy birthday here or on Twitter, it would make me smile! I’m taking the day off and am excited to surprise him with the things up my sleeve!

Finding Clients

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Owning your own business is fun! I get to work in my pajamas if I want, I can take a vacation whenever I can afford it and I can take on the clients that fit well with my personality. Those are often things that don’t happen at an office job. But with an office job comes more stability. A lot of that disappears the minute you decide to be your own boss. It’s your job to bring in the money, clients and meetings.

I’ve learned a lot since I started freelancing for Etsy shop owners and designing $20 logos in 2007 (I don’t design $20 logos anymore so please don’t email me asking about it…hehe). Now that I work with Adam, we’ve developed a bit of a system and then we let everything else happen organically. Here are some of the basic ways we get clients:

  • Organic/Search: They find us searching for what they need whether that’s on Google or another site like Dribbble or another portfolio site. It’s a great way to get a client since you’re not really doing much work but it can also lead to projects that don’t really connect with you since you were passive in the formation of that relationship.
  • Referral: Someone that we know professionally or personally has referred them to us. We’ve just recently begun discounting services when a potential client might have a great list of contacts. If you’re my client and provide me with 5 individuals or small businesses that might want to work with me, it’s very worth it to provide a discount.
  • Social Media/Blogging: A potential client might get to know us on Twitter or here on my blog before they decide to work with us! I’ve been blogging since January 2009 and spend the most time on Twitter (of all social media accounts) and it’s been very rewarding.
  • Relationships: We know the client (and in-person) first. This includes past colleagues, people we went to school with or friends/family. While these projects come about from a very reliable source, they also tend to be less lucrative. You end up giving people you know discounts or you get a little lazy when it comes to signing contracts. As time as gone on, we do less and less projects for friends and family.
  • Pursuing the Client: This is a situation where we reach out, connect and then offer ways in which we believe we could work together. As you’ll see below, we do NOT do this enough and I’m excited to start taking this approach when booking new work. More on that later.

I decided to do a little research for this post. I broke down ALL of my clients (ever) and categorized them into one of those 5 groups. Here’s what I found when I broke it down by project (I hate making pie charts so excuse the ugliest graphic you’ve ever seen):

Broken Down By Project

It honestly shocked me. I really couldn’t see (even after seeing proof), what works better for me. Organic, referrals, my online presence and personal relationships all yield the same amount of projects. Of course, if I had more time I would investigate just how much revenue has been produced by these 5 separate groupings. Maybe someday when I’m sick and bored.

I also broke down everything by client and things changed a bit:

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I realized that while I get a steady amount of projects from organic/search, they only come from a select few clients. To be honest, many of these projects tend to be more production and less like a partnership. This whole “investigation” has been quite enlightening. I’ve learned a lot about how we are getting this steady stream of work and am excited to dive in deeper with Adam so that we can grow.

Hopefully I’ll continue blogging about this subject often. Let me know if you have any questions or have an ideas on future “getting client” topics! I love hearing from you all!

Thoughts on Self-Promotion

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This post is sort of a preface to the one scheduled for tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about finding clients as an entrepreneur. I’ve learned a lot about the subject over the last few years but especially so within the past couple months. But I took a break while writing that post to think through a few things. I can’t guarantee everything I’m saying will make sense but here I go:

Self-promotion is weird.
It’s weird for me, specifically, because I’m an introvert.
I’d rather listen than talk.
I’d rather ask for your business card than give you mine.
I’d rather collaborate for fun first and then work together professionally.
Daily interactions can sometimes exhaust me.
But if I don’t put myself (and my work) out there, we might not make money.
If we don’t make money, I’ll need to get an office job.
If I get an office job, then I’ll be a failure.

That’s my stream of consciousness. Pretty, huh?

It can be difficult and rewarding all at once. To be honest, September will be our most successful month as The Wonder Jam (financially but also feeling really fulfilled by our work). But great months as a business owner can lead to scary thoughts like, “What if next month or the next quarter is a complete bust?!” Sometimes it feels like I’m pedaling and riding my bike uphill all.the.time.

I loved the quote above by Frank Ocean. “Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.” But how does someone like me balance a life of silence and a life of self-promotion? Hopefully I’ll have a bit more clarity tomorrow on that subject…

[Photos above taken on my iPhone: hand bling (reindeer ring, new mani and a Tattly tattoo), delicious cajun food, photoshoots ALL weekend, the best autumn weather at the park]

 

Let’s Get Coffee

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Happy Friday the 13th! I’m not superstitious but I like saying it to people in hopes that they kind of freak out. Anyways, I think we all loved the last “Let’s Get Coffee” post so I’m going to bring it back every month! This month I’m asking 5 new questions. Answer below in the comment section:

  1. Do you wear jewelry? If so, what are your daily wears?
  2. What’s one autumn tradition that you look forward to? 
  3. Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your favorites?
  4. What do you do when you’re stressed?
  5. Favorite childhood movie?

Here are my answers!

I really only wear my wedding band and engagement ring (out of focus but pictured above). I sometimes will add rings to my right hand if I’m going to a meeting but I can’t work at my computer while wearing jewelry. I also wear my gold Michael Kors watch when I’m out. 

Bonfires! In high school and college, I was always in the country at a friends’ farm or at a cabin with roommates. We live in a pretty urban area so there aren’t a lot of those but maybe I can convince my father-in-law to build one at their place in Indiana this fall. 

I used to listen to podcasts ALL THE TIME but stopped once I started working with Adam full-time. I like to keep conversation going and sometimes putting on headphones feels like I’m disrupting communication. Also, the connector in our car broke so I can’t play anything on my iPhone while I take trips. Major bummer.

When I’m stressed, I shop. It’s a horrible habit and I haven’t even been that great at my spending freeze. More on that later.

Favorite childhood movie? That’s tough. Definitely E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. One time, as a kid, I watched it 3 times in one day. Don’t tell my mom.

Looking forward to hearing from YOU!

My Skincare Routine

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Last week when I asked my readers what they’d like me to write about, I got a few requests about my skincare routine. I’m sure no one thinks their skincare routine is that glamourous. It tends to happen right before we go to sleep (exhausted) or rushing around before we get ready in the morning. But I do love it when bloggers share what’s inside their purses, makeup bags and houses. I take recommendations very seriously and if someone recommends it – I’m more likely to purchase it!

With that being said, I keep my skincare products to a minimum. These 5 products are the ones that I use daily and I don’t tend to venture far from it. I don’t experiment with skincare products like I do with makeup. To be brutally honest, I’m a real freak about my skin. If I get a blemish, discoloration, bruising or a burn…I feel like the world is ending. After our trip to Jamaica, my skin was peeling off in sheets and I had a minor meltdown. And I can 100% admit that I’m being dramatic but I like to keep it honest around here! So here’s what I use:

  • Klorane soothing eye-makeup remover. It’s soothing, doesn’t smell strong and does the job. I don’t wear waterproof mascara or eyeliner though so I don’t know how it would hold up to products like that.
  • Clinique facial soap and dramatically different moisturizing lotion. I’ve used these two products since college and every time I switch to something else – I break out. While it’s not as natural as I’d like, I can’t conquer it all.
  • NARS Total Replenishing Eye Cream. I love NARS and most of my makeup is this brand. It’s gluten and paraben free. And it smells like oranges. Yum. I hear that I’ll thank myself when I’m older but was pressured into buying this $55 (SMALL) tube at Nordstrom. I’ll let you know in 20 years…
  • Lush’s Ocean Salt. I use this every time I shower. It’s the key to smooth skin. It’s really gritty and it smells amazing. I don’t have time for dead skin.

I wash my face at night but don’t in the morning. I’ll usually just splash water on my face to freshen up. I also use body lotion like it’s my job but I switch between lots of different kinds (depending on the scent/my mood). I’ll use Lubriderm when I want neutral, Lush’s Dream Cream when I want fruity or OHA’s Vanilla Bean body butter when I want something warm.

So there’s my not-so-glam skincare routine but it works for me. I definitely wish I went more natural with it all but at the moment I’m content with everything.

What products do you use? Have you ever tried switching products? Has your skin changed over the years?

Time Management as an Entrepreneur

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After polling all of you guys in my survey last week, I found that many of you want insight into being self-employed and how I handle certain aspects! It’s definitely something that I’ve been wanting to do and so I’m glad you all want to see it as well! The first post will be all about time management. Exciting stuff, right?

I’ve learned a lot over the past year while being self-employed. Sometimes I’m really, really awesome with how I handle my time. Sometimes I totally fail. Over the past month or so, I’ve pinpointed some things that I need to do in order to be productive. Here they are:

1. Be intentional on social media

Social media in general (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) can be a time suck. I used to find myself reading everything in my feed on Twitter, looking at the same pictures on Facebook and checking Instagram way too much. I decided to do a few things.

  • I took the Twitter app off my computers. Now I can’t check Twitter very easily and I’m not getting any notifications while I work.
  • When I DO check Twitter, it’s usually at a few set times a day and then I respond to everything at once.
  • I use Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day. Usually 3-4 for self-promotion. A few to share fun links.
  • I deactivated notifications on my iPhone so I’m not getting alerted every time someone interacts with me.

2. Track your hours as an experiment

I decided to track my hours for 3 weeks straight. It was very insightful. I found out the following:

  • I wasn’t working as much as it felt like I was working.
  • I was spending way too much time driving to and attending meetings.
  • I wasn’t spending as much time on blogging as I used to.
  • Photography takes up a lot of time but is needed in order to build a portfolio and gain experience.
  • I am a fast working designer.

I decided, after learning all of that, that I am going to limit my “meeting days” to two days per week (or suggest phone calls or Skype), I definitely can take on more projects than we currently juggle and I can put more time into blogging without feeling guilty. I do know, however, that I could never track my hours all day, every day. It definitely keeps you on task but it became a distraction after awhile since I can work so quickly.

3. Schedule time to work ON your business

Now that I work with Adam full-time, this is even more crucial. It’s easy to forget to work on your business when you’re responsible for your income day in and day out. This month, we’re going to be better about scheduling time throughout the week to review current projects, leads and get better at being business owners. We must treat this time with as much importance as a client meeting.

4. Know the difference between production + creative work

After talking to David recently, I had a breakthrough. He brought up the idea of getting 2-3 hours of solid “production” type work out in the morning. You see, I feel the most creative later into the day. That’s why I’ve been essentially nocturnal lately and starting fun projects at 10pm. This month I’m going to try to re-sync my sleep schedule in order to take on this new routine. It will look a little something like this:

  • 9am-12pm: Work on “production” type work. This includes client revisions, site maps, wireframes, emails, proposals, invoices and EMAILS. Things that have a distinct goal and where I know when it’s considered complete.
  • 12pm-1pm: Lunch or grab a coffee down the street and chat with Adam about project statuses
  • 1pm-5pm: Creative work! For me, this includes designing blogs/sites/print for clients. The kind of work where I’ll be pitching or showing them something fun and innovative.
  • 5pm-6pm: Any final revisions from clients can be sent and I can go through email once more.
  • 6pm-on: Actually have a social life, network, blog, work on side projects or cook! Fancy.

For me, this will be a HUGE challenge but I think it will bring more clarity and peace to my life, marriage and relationships. The only challenge, for me, will be on days that I have meetings or photoshoots. I’m trying to figure out how to shift it so that I still have a normal week. If you have any thoughts or ideas, let me know.

So that’s what I’ve learned over the past year. I’m trying to be better with my time but we all have those weeks or days where we’re not motivated at all. It can feel a bit overwhelming while other times I’m a fireball of motivation. I’d love to hear your thoughts below! 

A New Season

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of the seasons in our lives. Sometimes it’s centered around a job, or it’s seasons literally changing. It can even be the rise or dissipation of certain relationships. As we move into September and fall I’m realizing that I’m ready for a change. I’m going to be expanding into most of these things later this month but here’s a simple list of my autumn goals:

  • Get into shape. Exercise routinely. See change in my body. My personal training sessions start this week.
  • I’m implementing a VERY different work schedule this month. It won’t be easy. More on that tomorrow.
  • After discovering Into Mind, I’m completely re-vamping my wardrobe. Simplicity is the theme. In October I’ll be sharing my approach to this method. In the meantime, I still have 14 more pieces for sale until tonight at 9pm EST over on my Shop My Closet Instagram sale
  • Spend more time in the kitchen and less time in line at Chipotle. I forget how good a home-cooked meal can be. I’m aiming at 4 dinners at home during the week.
  • Equal romance to co-working ratio. I work with my husband full-time and in a way…it can kind of be a romance-killer if you let it. I’m not going to let it.

Like I said, more details on those (pretty huge) goals throughout the month. What about you? Are you looking for changes in your life?