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….
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!
I returned from The Wedding Stationery Collective Retreat a couple weeks ago, and the experience has left me feeling so motivated, inspired + excited for the 2017 season and where my business can go! I’ve already implemented some important changes in my business and I can just feel the energy of positive change all around me.
(Be sure to read at the bottom of this post my advice on investing in creative conferences!)
My friend Heather of Heather O’Brien Design and I decided to take the leap and arrived at the coolest hotel in Richmond, Virginia. (BTW, check out her amazing new branding + website!) The Quirk Hotel was branded from head to toe and kicked off the creative inspiration from the get-go!
Amanda Day Rose + Chloe Minyon were the founders and spearheaded an amazing 2 days of stationery + business inspiration. You could tell they poured their heart + soul into every detail, and reminded all of us that when we value #communityovercompetition, we all win.
A huge benefit to these conferences is the people. Being a solopreneur can be a lonely place, and connecting with others that not only understand your business, but understand the life struggles that come along with it will build you up in a way that you can’t get from just friends + family.
It was a fabulous mix of speakers, talking about everything from business contracts to working with photographers. Creative entrepreneurs constantly search for a balance between the artistic and the nitty-gritty business stuff. (On any given morning do I want to play with new calligraphy pens or input expense reports? Hmmmm….). Well, this conference got it all of it packed into the schedule!
(Oh, and don’t forget about new headshots! Heather Chipps was amazing; I only wish I wasn’t 7 1/2 months pregnant + bloated for them!)
My favorite speaker was Kat Schmoyer from Dear Sweetheart Events, who discussed the lies we tell ourselves. It’s easy during (and right after) these conferences to feel overwhelmed, seeing all these areas for improvement in your business and not knowing how + where to start. Kat brought it back to why we do what we do. And I find when I’m emotionally inspired, I become super organized + concrete in my planning. After her chat, I was ready to put pen to paper!
Creative conferences can be a scary investment for small business owners. It’s a big expense and the rewards aren’t as concrete as say, buying new equipment or hiring an employee. But I’m here to tell you, a conference has an incredible return on investment, as long as you find the right one for you. (And, obviously, one called The Wedding Stationery Collective Retreat was a perfect fit!)
My first piece of advice is to assess how much money you make off of one client and how much the conference is. If the cost is equivalent or less than two client incomes, then it is totally worth it. If you truly make changes to your business as a result of what you’ve learned from the conference, then you should be able to book at least 1-2 clients because of that. However, the most important piece of advice I can give you: you get out of conferences what you put into them! It’s easy to come home and put your notes in a bag and never look at them again. But you need to capitalize on that fresh dose of ideas, energy, and motivation right out of the gate. Set goals for yourself: small goals you can achieve within a month, then a couple within 6 months. Continue the investment long after you’ve left the conference table.
As creative business owners, we must constantly reevaluate and grow. In a world where social media moves at the speed of light, and trends + client behavior are always changing, the way to survive in the long one is investing yes, money. However, it’s also about using our focused energy on planning the next phase of our business life.
There must be something in the water, because as I was gearing up to write this personal blog post I came across a couple from other fellow wedding vendors on the same subject, including one from the fabulous Ashley Therese Photography.
Finley caught a nasty cold last week, so I kept her out of daycare to rest + recover. The only thing I had to do that day when I made the decision was cancel a doctor’s appointment; no boss to call, no out-of-office message to post. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the downside of balancing a business + a family: that there is no one to cover my “desk”, that much of my personal time is spent working. However, that day I really clung to the upside. Being my own boss means making my own hours, and an hour I choose to be with my daughter is one I never regret.
Finley has recently become obsessed with my phone. I showed her some videos of her and now that is her #1 favorite activity. I try to play this card only when I really need it (e.g. when doing her pigtails), but if she even sees me look at my phone she races over expecting a viewing party. Her latest obsession has forced me to put down the phone (and hide it behind a couch pillow), quiet the noise of email + social media, and be present. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about multi-tasking, but there’s a difference between management + distraction. I now work smarter (and try to still always get my 3 things done each day) as I have a newfound respect for the gift of free time. I still fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram, and have already failed at my goal to go to yoga once a week in 2016, but I’m trying not to waste energy beating myself up for things like that.
That day I let the feeling of gratitude wash over me. I’m grateful for two jobs that I work my butt off for, that fulfill me in different + wonderful ways.
What a thrill to hear that for the third straight year, Roseville Designs has received The 2016 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award! The award recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness + professionalism. What makes this award extra special is that it’s solely based on reviews from our wonderful couples.
They say at restaurants that people come because of the food, and return because of the service. For me, often what reels people in is the pretty paper they see on my website or Instagram, but I truly believe that people book me because of what I offer beyond an online shop or paperie. An award like this means that I’m delivering on my promises. This year one of my goals is to streamline my processes even further so I can deliver even more to future clients. Stay tuned!
This year has brought another set of challenges + accomplishments, days feeling like I can do it all and others where I seem to have fallen short on all counts. On the defeatist days, looking at photos of my couples always reinvigorates me. I’m blessed to have a job where I get paid to be creative, and to work with people during one of the most exciting times in their lives. I’m blessed that this job lets me be a mom + wife on my terms, which is what I wished for when I walked down the aisle. It’s not always easy, but at the end of the year when I add it up, the joy far outweighs the struggle.
Here are just a handful of my amazing clients who this year have inspired + challenged me in new ways, and I say thank you to all of you.
“Paper stories” are something I’ve been talking about a lot recently. It’s part of my tagline with the new brand look, but it’s really the core of what makes Roseville different. Everyone’s story is different. For some I’m only part of one chapter, perhaps just the invitations. But more often I get in right from the start, when the colors are chosen and the style is determined, but so much is still open to explore. We work on save the dates, invitations, thank you cards, and day-of paper wedding details. When I get those clients, I get a special treat at the end: seeing the story from start to finish. As I was packing up this day-of paper for a very special May bride, I got out the rest of their paper goods to look at the culmination of months of planning, emails, design, assembly, and delivery. I’m so grateful to my couples who invite me in to their wedding planning (no pun intended, really!).
Looking forward to all the paper stories unfolding for the season…
I was recently listening to a TED Talk by Amy Cuddy where she said, “Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.” What I took from this: it’s not always about reinventing yourself, but making alterations here + there to get you on the right path. So what I’m launching today is not a rebrand, it’s a refresh of Roseville Designs. It’s something I’ve been working on since I returned last year from Stationery Academy, and I’m very excited to finally share it!
Below is my inspiration board that guided me through all this. I keep it up in my studio as a way to remind me what Roseville is all about, and to keep myself aligned with the values of the business.
As a new mom, what I’m finding incredibly challenging is accepting unfinished business. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I want to tackle everything right now. Now that I am home full time it seems one thing crossed off the to-do list leads to five more added. I’ll clean out my inbox and see a corner of my office that obviously hasn’t seen a swiffer duster since the Bush era. It’s like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole, and it was leaving me feeling unsatisfied each day. I knew I had to put a stop to this, or the frustration would eat my alive. I read about this successful entrepreneur who made a point to do three things each day. No matter what else happened in those 24 hours, she’d say “I want to do these three things”, and not “I have to”. I took this for a spin, and it has been fantastic. Each evening I write on a virtual post-it three things I want to tackle the next day. One must be business related and one must be personal. The first benefit is that it keeps me focused; I veer off-course much less often. The second is the sense of gratification at the end of the day, knowing that I accomplished the three things I committed to that morning. Most days I get more than 3 things done, of course, but I’m learning to set myself up for success and not disappointment.
So if you’re a new mom, an old mom, or just an overwhelmed human being in need of a pat on the back, I highly recommend giving this a shot.
Now it’s on to folding laundry and working on a new client quote.
Finley’s objection to me taking notes on this blog post idea during our playtime.
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.
Before the baby arrived, we wanted to complete a slew of home improvement projects: a new fence, a paved driveway, and a freshly painted house. I convinced my husband that a red door would look fabulous, and of course I was right. But as I got home that day to see it for the first time, I got a little choked up. It was because Roseville Designs paid for this door.
As creative business owners, we don’t work simply for the money. Of course it’s important, but the main drive has to be passion for what we do; otherwise failure is imminent. In a recent webinar hosted by Ashlee Proffitt, she discussed the importance of defining what success means to you in your business. I thought about it again when the bill came for the housework, and I made a hefty transfer from my business account to my personal one to cover the costs. This, I thought, was success: doing what you love for a living.
Let’s be clear, Roseville’s not buying The Shannon Family summer home in Nantucket any time soon. And a formula that works now will most likely need to be reevaluated as life changes and an industry shifts. If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned as a small business owner, it’s that you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to stay hungry + motivated. But today I decided to bask in the glory a bit, as the sun shined on my new red door.