Entries Tagged as 'Musings & Discoveries'

2016: A Year in Review + My Wedding Couples

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Oh my, what a year it’s been! I’ve had the honor of another wedding season filled with some amazing couples. The weddings have been everywhere: from Connecticut to Bermuda, New Orleans to Cape Cod. The styles ranged from whimsical to classic, black tie to backyard chic. One thing remained true, though: my brides and grooms themselves were kind, easygoing, and passionate about the style of their wedding (and the stationery was an important detail to celebrate that style!). Here is just a sample of some of the 2016 Roseville couples, though each bride + groom has been a wonderful gift to me. Thank you to all of you who trusted me with such important details for your big day. It’s an honor to create something that you’ll look back on for years to come.

CT wedding photographer

But the best gift of all this year has been our baby girl, Layla June. Born on 12/10/16 (a day after her due date), she has been an absolute joy. She was so considerate in coming full term so I could get all my 2016 weddings done (the last order shipped out 3 days before her arrival!). And now she is being rewarded with my full heart + full focus as we say goodbye to 2016. Though I am taking some time to enjoy time with my girls, I cannot wait to see what the 2017 season brings!

CT newborn photography

Wishing you all a new year full of hope + excitement!

 

XO,

Sandy

 

(Photo Credit {L->R by row}:

Brocato Photography / Brooke Allison Photo / Jenny Moloney Photography

Brigham & Co. Photography / Kelsey Combe Photography

Ashley Therese Photography / Justin & Mary Photographers / Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Carla Ten Eyck Photography / Meg Miller Photography

Layla Image: Brooke Allison Photo

 

 

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Being One Of The Most Fortunate…

Monday, November 7, 2016

View More: http://brighamandco.pass.us/marriedcourtneyandmatt

(Photo Credit: Jessica Brigham Photography)

A while back I read this article in The New York Times called The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love, and it really resonated me. I saved it on my phone and go back + read it when I’m having a tough day, or feeling like I cannot balance it all: motherhood, marriage, and a job that requires your head + heart constantly.

This blurb is the one I read over + over again….

flow

I am always on time,  in fact, I am usually early. The only time I find myself rushing to get somewhere is when I’ve been designing. It’s the only part of my life where I feel like the clock moves faster. It’s quite a change from looking at my computer clock at my old day job, wondering how the heck it wasn’t even 3:00 yet. So today I’ll celebrate the gratitude in my heart for a job that I can get lost in, one where I fall down a rabbit hole of creativity and have to force myself to come out when it’s time to tend to other parts of life. I hope my fellow creative business owners do the same for themselves today!

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A Leap

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

leap

This idea popped into my head as I realized it was around this time three years ago that I met Amy of Amy Champagne Events. We met at a Starbucks to connect + discuss working on a photo shoot, and as we were leaving she mentioned she’d been thinking about sharing a studio space with a photographer named Brooke. We did the shoot together and shortly afterwards they had asked me to join the studio. Then just like that, The Wedding Loft of Connecticut was born (and today we’re a group of 4 with our newest addition!). Honestly, I had a longer relationship with my succulent plant than I had with these girls. It’s the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken, and one of the best decisions I ever made.

So take this piece of advice from a gal who loves to plan everything: sometimes a leap is better than a plan. Sometimes you have to trust your gut, throw out the “con” list, and just go for it, because often these leaps are the only way we get a shot at the things we really want in life.

New Year, New Perspective

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This year so much has changed: I quit my day job, became a mom, and took my business in places that three years ago seemed like a far-off dream.

Balancing baby + business will be a never-ending venture, so this year the theme is “small wins”. What I find holding me back often is confidence. Whether it’s as a mom or designer, I waste so much energy in my head, over-thinking. So instead I want to try + celebrate the to-do list that gets done, however minor the tasks may seem. A day with clean dishes, a happy baby + a good design or two is a day worth patting myself on the back. And I’ll remind myself progress, not perfection. I hope you’ll do the same for yourselves, too.

I still have dreams (a feature in Martha Stewart Weddings doesn’t seem laughable), but now I see the value in the small victories. The pessimist might perceive this as lowering one’s standards, but really it’s just about accepting that divided energy yields different results. I’m going to celebrate winning the battles and not the war. I’m thankful for the energy + joy this business still infuses in me; it’s an energy like no other. So cheers to 2015! I hope you all treat yourself with love + patience in the year to come!

View More: http://aprinceportrait.pass.us/styledshootdec13

(Photo Cred: Anaise Prince Photography)

My Couples

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A few weeks back Brooke let me know I had mail at the studio. When I came to pick it up, I expected to find some samples from printers and a Chinese menu or two, but instead I had a pile of thank you notes from my couples.

The stationer isn’t the first vendor you think of when writing your thank you notes. The photographer, sure. The wedding planner, no doubt. I certainly didn’t send one to the paperie where I got my invites. But one of my goals with this business was to be an important vendor to my couples, to really connect with them. Now as I look through photos of my couples, and read the hand-written notes I’ve received from them, I know that I’m on track with that. My job lets me be an artist, but also lets me connect with truly special people who I otherwise would never meet. So this post is a tribute to all you wonderful brides + grooms. Thank you for letting me be worthy of a thank you note, and for letting me in on your love stories.

greenwich home wedding BAP-731 katerobWED-0948 Inn at Longshore

{Row 1: Hudson River Photographers, Photography by Martha / Row 2: Brooke Allison Photo / Row 3: Brian Hatton Photography / Row 4: Jasmine of Carla Ten Eyck Photography (right)}

Balancing Work + Motherhood: An Exploration

Monday, March 31, 2014

Today I want to talk about parenthood and being a professional (wedding or otherwise). It’s been on my mind quite a bit since reading Lean In + feeling my baby kick up a storm. So I contacted loved ones + wedding professional friends who are moms and asked them some questions.

It was really interesting getting feedback from small business owners vs. those who had corporate jobs. They faced such different challenges, yet I could find consistent themes amongst these 5 amazing women.

So, let me introduce you to my panel (clockwise from top right)…

Amanda – Best friend since 6th grade, nurse practitioner, graduate student + mother of one

Holly – Cousin, mother of two, + manager at LinkedIn

Ashley – Owner of A Little Something White bridal shop + mother of two

Erica – Owner of Erica O’Brien Cake Design + mother/step-mother of two

Alexis – Sister, mother of two, + sales manager at Tiffany & Co. in Greenwich

motherhood_panel

Here is the feedback I found most comforting, helpful + thought-provoking…

:: What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give moms-to-be? ::

Alexis: Your life is going to change forever!  Take advantage of the quiet time you enjoy now.

Holly: Sleep as much as possible while you still can. Do lots of date nights.  Take a babymoon.  Own and craft a transition plan that delegates all of your responsibilities while you’re out, and have it buttoned up about a month before you’re due in case your little person arrives early.

Ashley: Don’t feel badly if you aren’t having the time of your life every second of the day right after having the baby. Babies are both amazingly wonderful and incredibly difficult at the same time. Every person has a different ability to process this.

Erica: Give yourself the permission to not know what to expect, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. Although it’s natural to try to envision exactly what your life will look like after kids, it’s really hard to truly understand how much motherhood impacts you until you experience it.

:: What one thing would you have done differently during maternity leave? ::

Holly: I would have left the house with the baby more!

Amanda: Gotten more organized and let people help more.

:: How has motherhood changed how you look at your career or business? ::

Alexis: After having children, you gain perspective. Now, I realize the relative importance of everything that happens in work to the happiness I feel at home.

Ashley: Motherhood was the reason I started my business.  I was successful at what I did but lacked the passion I knew I would need to sustain me for the long term. If I was going to walk out the door each day and forego time with my children, especially during these very important early years, I had to love what I did.

Amanda: It has made me appreciate the field of work I’m in and appreciate the fact that I love my job.

Erica: I think it’s motivated me in lots of ways. I want to be a good role model for my children, and show them that I’m successful…All aspects of my life define me, and  I can’t envision my life without my children or without my business.

:: What is the biggest challenge as a working Mom? ::

Alexis: I think if you’re able to do both it is good for you and for your family.  My children (after working with several nannies throughout the years) know no stranger and can adapt well to change. But your children won’t be with someone who is invested in the same way that their parent would be. I talk to [my daughter] about working and what I am providing to the family, and I think (hope) she understands why I leave.

Holly: Time. Sleep. There is never, ever enough of either.

Erica: I have a lot of mommy guilt. During wedding season, I spend long days at the shop while my kids are with my husband, and I feel terrible the whole time that I’m not with them. My husband is very supportive and always tells me that the kids are fine…but I still feel bad about it.

:: Do you think motherhood prepared you in any special way for starting your business? ::

Ashley: Starting a business is figuratively like having a baby. It requires patience, intense nurturing, a
tremendous amount of hard work, and is incredibly rewarding and frustrating at times. I think the biggest thing motherhood gave me was patience. With children, no matter how much effort you put in, they usually do things at their own speed.

Erica: Perhaps having my own business gave me confidence that I might not otherwise have…but for me, having the support and love of my family prepared me the most.

:: “Having it all.” Great motivation or crock of s***? ::

Alexis: It is not my experience that you can have it all.  I think you have to make a choice. The closest you will get to having it all with depend greatly on the support and contribution of your husband. Your marriage is the foundation of it all and must be nurtured.

Holly: Both, and here’s why: you can have it all, but you need to adjust your expectations around what “having it all” truly means.  The sooner you can be okay with the fact that you’ll be 50/50 at best, the better.

Ashley: To me, the phrase “having it all” means that your life is in this perfect balance where you never feel like you are sacrificing anything….but that’s not life. Life is about sacrificing and compromising. But am I living a fulfilling life? I would say “absolutely”.

Amanda: I think it’s a great motivation. If you have a supportive partner in life, anything is really possible. Work is a sort of “break” from motherhood, yet it makes you appreciate your kids even more when you are away from them!

A Recap on Stationery Academy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Last week was quite an adventure. My first stop was a visit to my best friend in Mississippi. It’s so nice to take a little time away from everything + catch up with those who bring us such joy.

Amanda Mississippi

Then it was off to Nashville to attend Stationery Academy, a workshop for paperpreneurs. I arrived excited, motivated + a bit terrified, and left with the same feelings. But while the emotions were the same, the direction had shifted.

The 3-day workshop was full of laughter, tears, worksheets, hard work + MAJOR swag.

Stationery Academy Swag

The thing about workshops is you expect to leave with all answers, but I think the good ones leave you with as many questions, too. When I say questions, I really mean thought-starters. There was no shortage of these thanks to our 3 incredible hosts (Natalie Chang, Whitney English + Jennifer Faught) and 2 great speakers (Stephanie Creekmur + Nicolle Spitulnik of Libby Lane Press).

Stationery Academy

My main objective was to connect with other stationers, and that hope was fulfilled almost immediately after meeting the 3 most fabulous roommates. I look forward to the continued snap chats + group text convos.

Stat Acad roommates in Nashville

Meeting the rest of the gals was deeply rewarding as well. It’s so important in an industry to have people with whom you can “talk shop”, but a theme in the group discussions was feeling alone with our fears. It can stunt our growth as business-owners very early + quickly. But I think we all left a lot less lonely in the stationery world.

My experience ended with a one-on-one session with the super-talented (and fellow bright-color addict) Whitney English. Soon after we started I half-wished I had brought my custom portfolio, so she could hopefully see and/or believe in my full talent. But if all I wanted was praise, I could have just gone to see my Mom. She lives a lot closer and visiting her usually includes a home-cooked meal. I brought to the table things I was not as confident in, and got back really helpful feedback.

On the plane home I was on a writing rampage in my notebook, to the point where I was dissapointed to hear the flight attendant ask me to stow my tray table. When I started my pen-to-paper bonanza, this is what I put on the first page:

statacad_motivation

So now it’s time to put things into action. I have a plan in place for the next six months, what I’m calling “Roseville 2.0”. It includes a bit of branding refreshening, nerdy spreadsheets, and (hopefully) a lot of beautiful designs. Thanks to all my fellow Academy classmates for their talent + open hearts, and to the amazing mentors for their hard work + support. It has been life-changing for sure.

For more info on the conference, check out Stationery Academy’s website!

Inspiration or Copy?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Every season I get a handful of inquiries about essentially copying a design a potential client has seen somewhere else. It’s not an uncommon occurrence in my line of work, but it brings up a broader issue that plagues us all as creative professionals. Where is the line between inspiration + copy?

We now live in the age of Pinterest, which is an amazing tool. I use it often, and I do find it very helpful in connecting with my clients. I tell people to bring inspiration to our meetings, and sometimes they arrive with pictures of other invitations. I ask them what they like about it, and it gets the conversation going. I also get inspired by other artists’ choices on layout, technique, and more as I peruse my Pinterest feed. We must be in touch with what others are doing, while maintaining our own style + voice. But Pinterest is also an obstacle we must overcome as wedding professionals (but more on that later….).

I could go all Philosophy-101 on you and ask, in the digital era can we say if anything is 100% original? Today our world is saturated with so much visual inspiration through the web + social media. But at end of the day, we know where the line is…because when we cross it, something doesn’t feel right. {For a great article on this topic, check out this link from Nicole’s Classes. And for the record, my whole “where the line is” concept was written before that article was posted, proving their point that 2 people can have similar ideas!}

One client in a past season asked me to copy a design. It wasn’t clear that this was her intent until we were into the process, and I was at a crossroads. This person was officially my client now, and I wanted to give her what she wanted. The business side of me said it was a good client and business is business. But the artist in me couldn’t ignore the pit in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. I knew that going back on my “promise” to the client wasn’t great for business, but a clean conscience was more important. Once you put something out there, you can’t go back. In business we make plenty of mistakes we don’t foresee, and we certainly screw up due to being new, naive and nervous. But if I’ve learned anything as a small-business owner, it’s that once you gain some confidence you have to trust your instincts. Sometimes it’s all you have when you work for yourself.

One of my favorite bloggers from The Business of Being Creative wrote in one post, “If your clients just need you to do what they say, they do not really need you. What they actually need is for you to go further than they ever could.” So as frustrating as the “can-you-do-this-but-in-my-colors?” + “I-want-this-Style-Me-Pretty-Wedding-Exactly” inquiries can be, they are opportunities for us to earn our chops. We can show that client that there is something to be created that is unique to them, beyond the “pin” they love so much. It’s our job to promise that + deliver.

The “this-is-exacty-what-I-wanted” reactions are great, but the “this-is more-than-I-could-have-imagined” ones are even better.

2014 + Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On one of my daily blogs, I read about an exercise where you write a letter to yourself for the next year, reflecting on your goals + dreams as if they already happened. A collection of self-fulfilling prophecies, if you will.

On its surface it may seem silly (or even scary), but actually writing “Congratulations on your feature on Oh, So Beautiful Paper” (or said goal for yourself) can provide a kick in the butt needed to work towards it.

So I took a stab at this back in January 2013, and just read over what I had hoped for myself today. It was a really interesting practice (one I highly recommend) because when I wrote it, I truly thought some of the goals were simply out of reach. I knew it was for my eyes only, so I threw caution to the wind. But it turns out in some cases, I was selling myself short.

Here’s the best example of that; I noted in my letter that I was going to be a part of a strong network of Connecticut wedding vendors, but something even better happened. This network came with it some of the most incredible friends, ones that have changed my life professionally + personally. You know who you are,  and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Of course, I don’t have a perfect batting average. My younger dog still barks incessantly at anyone who comes to the door (though I have made progress!), I didn’t yet get that feature in OSBP, and I still haven’t seen Paris. But regardless of the shortcomings, I can say wholeheartedly that 2013 has been the most  challenging + fulfilling year of my life.

Resolutions may have a deadline of December 31st, but dreams + goals allow you more time. Time to appreciate progress made, and assess new tactics on how to get it done. So I feel no shame in rewriting some of mine that I didn’t get to cross off the list this year, while celebrating those that need not be repeated.

So cheers to 2014, and wishing you all the ability to dream big + work hard in the year (and years) to come!

dream_big

(Source)

Busy People

Monday, November 4, 2013

busy people

A few days ago someone said this to me, and I’ve been coming back to it all weekend…so much so I decided to whip up a little graphic for it.

A lot of people ask me how I juggle this business, a full-time job, and the rest of life. I usually respond with 2 points: One is that I am a very organized person (the nerdy type that genuinely enjoys creating to-do lists), and two is, more simply, because I have to. When you know only a small percentage of your day is down time, then you organize better. If you know you have X number of things to finish by Friday, then you plan Monday-Thursday accordingly. I’m certainly not advocating an I’ll-rest-when-I’m-dead mentality, but rather trying to comfort those hesitant to take a risk. You’ll figure it out because that’s the only option if you really love something. And passion is the best tool in a juggler’s arsenal.

This isn’t just to those in my position, because the truth is so many of us juggle more than we realize. Kids, jobs, homes, marriages…it’s a lot + we deserve a pat on the back.

The third thing I sometimes say to people (depending on how close I am with them + if I’ve had a libation or two) is that I don’t always juggle it all. I’ve screwed up plenty, and I know I will again. But that damn passion convinces you to dust yourself off and get back in there.

So today I celebrate those fellow jugglers, those who look forward to an afternoon off (but don’t know what to do with themselves when they get it). Those who can’t remember the last time they experienced boredom. Those who have to-do lists for the week on the desk and a dream list for the future in their back pocket.

Passion is a very, very beautiful thing.

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