A year in review: 2016 Highlights

Like most business owners, one of my traditions at the end of every year is to evaluate the past 12 months.  I look back on business sales, goals set/met and what I accomplished for the year. Looking back and pointing out all of the things that I did that made me happy and proud, as well as sharing it with you is something I like to do as a way to positively recap and celebrate the accomplishments instead of just being critical. I encourage you all to do the same, to make sure you take the time to recognize and celebrate the good. It’s important to not just dwell on what needs to be improved because there is always something good to be grateful for. No living in the gap!! So here is 2016 and all the wonderful things it brought!

January 2016

My friend Jennifer began the book club: Women, Words & Wine. We all had one thing in common, that we’re all friends with Jennifer. I had not met anyone else who joined before and seriously, meeting this group of women was a game changer for me. I adore every single one of them and am so happy to have met them all. Some of these ladies are what can only be explained as members of my tribe and have become incredibly important to me this year. It was an amazing way to begin the year!

February 2016

Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds began wearing my jewelry. This was pretty epic as I started working on making this happen almost a year before. I still get excited thinking about it, she is possibly the most perfect fictional character ever to wear my jewelry.

May 2016

I had been really enjoying running and listening to podcasts while doing so for some time and loving it, when my hip started to hurt too much to do it anymore. One day I brought this up with my friend Cynde and mentioned that besides running, what I truthfully missed most of all, was kickboxing in college. After hearing this, she immediately insisted that I try out her gym and I was sold the minute I walked in the door. I look more forward to the hour a day I spend there, 5 days a week than anything else in life. It’s brought amazing focus to my work as well and as an added bonus, I look and feel great!

5 Rules To Organize Anything

July 2016

I moved my studio (again), this time hopefully for a good long while. It has everything I was looking for: lots of natural light, room to grow, built in storage, a big closet to store things out of sight, a lockable door to prevent distractions, it’s own bathroom and next to the front door of the house so people could easily come by. The only think it was lacking was lighting. Oh man, the first week I was working in it, I couldn’t see. I filled the room with task lights but they just seemed to get lost as it’s a pretty big space.  I decided that as I work so much at night that I needed a solution and a good one, fast. So I had 6 can lights installed in the ceiling, even though the electrician kept saying that 4 would be fine (we compromised and he installed a dimmer switch…that I have never used, 6 lights is perfect for me). This studio is now officially my favorite place that I’ve ever worked and I look forward to going in there every morning.

August 2016

This year began with my freaking out about spending so many years growing a small business and worrying that if I decided to do something else, that all of those years of work wouldn’t qualify me to do anything besides being a designer or maybe something in social media. This freak out made me realize that I needed to focus on more than just running a jewelry brand, that I needed to work on my personal brand as well. This summer I created social media accounts for myself (which are all linked from this blog) and started putting myself out there as a jewelry and style expert, ceo, entrepreneur, writer and not just a jewelry designer. In August, I pitched and was hired for my first freelance magazine piece and realized that I did after all have some marketable skills. I hope to do more freelance writing this year, I really enjoy it and it’s pretty cool to see my name in a magazine for something other than as a jewelry designer!

August 2016

I have been actively avoiding shows and pop ups for awhile, but I forced myself out of my comfort zone and did a pop up at West Elm to debut the FW16 Collection at the end of August. I invited my friend Kelly along to debut her new bag line, Festival Co. as well. I’m glad I did it, but I will probably continue to not not do many of these this year.

October 2016

An unexpected honor came this fall in an invitation to be the keynote speaker at an event for the National MS Society. It’s an organization incredibly dear to my heart and I enjoyed having the chance to speak at their event. It was my first keynote and true to all of my public speaking, I prepared nothing. I just got up there and talked and talked. That is actually the second skill I realized I had this year. So much personal growth happening!

November 2016

This fall, a very large and very cool opportunity presented itself. LC TV, a jewelry shopping channel that is based here in Austin, started looking for a jewelry DIY Expert for their new LC DIY program. I was recommended for the job and after about 2 minutes of being interviewed, was offered the position. I spent the fall working with a team at LC TV creating the program and designing the jewelry kits. We started filming the video tutorials and launched both the website and the live show of which I am the guest host, in November. I’m still shocked by what a natural I am at being on live tv and shooting instructional video. I however am not good at doing anything remotely scripted. Stick a camera in my face and I’m great, ask me to read something or say something that are not my words and I pretty much am a deer caught in headlights. It’s a good thing that I’ll never be expected to follow a script! This will most likely be a pretty constant part of my life this next year and is a side gig I never thought of doing, but once I did it, I really enjoy it.

Other notable things this year that I was pretty of were beginning a partnership with the company Gwynnie Bee, having the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend ever and working with some amazing bloggers whom I loved seeing style my jewelry.

Now onto 2017…I wonder what this year will bring?

 

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The power of girl talk

Alcomar Patio in Austin, TX
A great side effect of girl time is that I am always trying new fantastic lunch spots! Today was at Alcomar on South 1st.

I was planning on writing a Deep Thoughts post today, as it’s been awhile, but then my first thought became so long, that I decided it was worth some more brain space. You see today had not one, but two situations where I was with awesome ladies whom I see at least once a month for some girl time. The first was Cynthia who came to the studio this morning so we could work together and plan out her accessories for an upcoming conference. We’ve been talking about doing this for some time and decided it would be best to bring the dresses. It was a great plan and worked really well, so yay for that! The second was lunch with Kelly with whom I have lunch every month where we gab about mostly my jewelry business and her in the works handbag business. We share what’s been going on in both and end up usually each bringing up a dilemma that we end up brainstorming over.

What is amazing is that both of these events were relaxed, chatty and super fun. I however was at one point taking notes at lunch because we stumbled upon a solution for a few problems I was having and I was afraid I would somehow forget them. Really there is no fear of doing so as I am so excited about what we talked about. This morning while I was pulling jewelry from the closet and draping it all over Cynthia, it was very clear what I needed to focus on for the next few seasons and I was so inspired to design them. On my way home from lunch, all I could think about was how much I love that women have such a natural rhythm of talking about things. The conversation always circles around and flits from one subject to the next and comes back around to touch back on things. It jumps and gains momentum as we get excited and so much is always covered! It’s pretty amazing how I felt so refreshed, inspired and excited…simply by hanging out with friends for a couple of hours each!

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The Blahs

This is what being in the blahs feels like.
This is what being in the blahs feels like.

I wrote this post in my head 60 million times before I actually sat down to write it. Mostly because when you are experiencing the blahs, you don’t really want to do anything. Or care. Whatever. But I was listening to my favorite periscope yesterday when the lovely Sabina started chatting about how she and a few of her entrepreneur friends were chatting about how they just were not feeling it these past few weeks. And after talking about this she pointed out how we as a group of “work all the time” individuals need to give ourselves permission to feel this way. Now I understand that the blahs can be different things to different people. They can be just general melancholy, exhaustion following the holiday season for especially product based businesses, they can be a touch of S.A.D. and they can be depression. So note that if you are feeling that your blahs are more of a serious depression, then by all means seek professional help. Otherwise, I too give you permission to wallow in them.

For me, the blahs are an annual experience that begin right around the new year. I detest all of the New Year, New Start! crap and it typically sets me off. This year they lingered a bit longer, which was made further usual as almost every single day in January I have dragged my butt outside to exercise. That’s the double whammy, two punch cure usually…sunshine AND exercise…all the endorphins! And still, they stayed. I had lunch earlier this week with two amazing ladies (the Jessica’s) who are B2B powerhouses. I have been lunching with Jessica #1 for quite some time (we met through LinkedIn, how cool is that?? I swear I need to do a post on making IRL friends with online acquaintances) and this week she thought Jessica #2 and I should also meet. So Jessica #2 and I were getting to know each other and our respective businesses and I was explaining how I had a bad case of the blahs. That the blahs were so bad this year that I had hardly been getting anything done, not because I didn’t have time, but because I kept just sitting at my desk being sucked into the vortex of nothingness. Anyway, we chatted about this a bit more and I left feeling a bit lifted. The blahs are still hovering about but the next day I got done half the tasks I have been avoiding and that’s awesome.

Ahhhhh, how you feel every time the blah is lifted (even if it still hovers in your head waiting to come back).
Ahhhhh, how you feel every time the blahs are lifted (even if it still hovers in your head waiting to come back).

What is the point of all of this blah blah blah (hehehe)? Basically it is to tell you that you are not alone. There are always other people out there who are feeling what you’re feeling (like Sabina and her friends) and there are also people out there who may not be feeling it, but would love to talk to you about it (like the Jessica’s). This is especially important to understand if you are a solo-preneur, to make sure to get out there and talk to people! You don’t have to hide your feelings and pretend everything is perfect all the time…instagram is not real and no man is an island.

*excuse the fuzzy photos, I felt these images illustrated my point perfectly and didn’t want to recreate them in daylight, as that would take too much effort for my blahs to handle right now. Also, that amazing over sized eye mask that keeps out ALL light and is organic silk can be found on Etsy here.

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Thanksgiving for makers

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Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday when you both manufacture and sell your products retail via online or shows for your business. If you do shows, it’s the middle of show season and often a time when you’re exhausted from the work of setting up/breaking down, being “on” while at shows and then going home to make more product before the next show. If you sell online, you are shipping, trying to be incredibly present on social media and making, making, making. You are also about to deal with Cyber Monday which is the biggest online shopping day of the year. Thankfully, wholesale orders are for the most part filled by now, but small stores usually throw a few rushed orders at you so you have to be ready for them. It’s a wonderful and exhausting time of year. This year, I made the decision to not do any shows of any sort. No holiday pop-ups, nothing. I am really, really happy with this decision. Being focused on e-commerce for so long, I have plenty to do here in the studio. It’s lovely to be able to simply focus on that.

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When I lived in NY, Thanksgiving was easy. I would show up for dinner, usually with my computer, eat and be merry for a couple of hours, help clean up and get back to work. It was very helpful at these times that family was both so close and understanding. As we are now flung around the country and all career absorbed, we have agreed to have holiday family time in October, so I at least don’t have to worry about even thinking about traveling. My first year in Austin, Adam convinced me that it would be ok to travel from Wednesday to Sunday for the long week-end. The stress and amount of time I spent dealing with customers on spotty wi-fi as a result of that decision made him, never, ever again bring that idea up again. That year my hard drive also crashed on Cyber Monday, so I think he is so emotionally scared by that who week that he shudders if he thinks about it.

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This year, I made plans with friends to share the cooking and have the dinner at their house. It was a wonderful plan and by Tuesday I had all the ingredients for mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, that yam/marshmallow dish that everyone loves and stuffing. Ahhhhh, this year was going to be easy peasy! And then. The cold came along and knocked down all three members of our friends family. As they deal with online AND shows, we agreed to cancel the feast. Sad face. I told Adam, who immediately said we were not having it here, that we should go out. I thought that was a great plan, suggested he pick a place and innocently went off to girls night. Wednesday I asked if had a place in mind knowing that in Austin you will not get in without a reservation or a two hour line on Thanksgiving (or any other day for that matter). Not only did he not have a place to eat, but he had been inviting people to a non-exsistant meal at our house. Ummmmm. By 8pm Wednesday night, I was panicking. My hostess with the mostess self was freaking out that we had no where to eat, 7 people to feed and that Adam was insisting that we would find some where to get take out when they all arrived at our house. At 9pm I finally caved and explained to Adam that you cannot invite people over for Thanksgiving dinner and not feed them said dinner. It was just not right. So to the store we went.

Adam snapped this of me flinging rosemary and thyme around the kitchen.
Adam snapped this of me flinging rosemary and thyme around the kitchen.

Fortunately, there were thawed turkeys or I don’t know what I would have done. We bought the bird and everything else to complete the other half of the meal and headed home. Adam called all of our guests and told them to bring pie (as the thought of adding dough to my list made me want to lie down) and I brined the bird and made the schedule for the next day. On Thursday, instead of my nice and low key day, I was in the kitchen from 9am until 6pm. By the end, all of our guests were full and happy. As they were all men, I sent all of the left overs home with them and it was like it never happened. Th only proof that I did it is that I have refused to wear anything except jammies and have happily not left the studio the three days since. I figure it’s only fair.

 

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Stay-cation

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The past 10 days have been jam packed with activities. We had two waves of house guests as well as logging in a good amount of hours with friends. Due to the schedules that Adam and I both keep these days, it was a bit outside of our norm and made it feel as though we were the ones on vacation! This also explains my absence from blogging for the past week…when I did get into the studio it was pretty quick and focused on getting orders out the door. I spent more time doing laundry (so many sheets, blankets and towels!) than I did in the studio last week, ha! I oddly took very few photos though all of the fun, and the majority of the photos that I snapped were with my sister Gillian when she was here as I very rarely see her. Regardless, I decided to collect all of my favorite moments right here as one of the best parts about blogging is that you are keeping a record of your life, and I love looking back at past events. So here is our July, 2015 impromptu Stay-cation

Barton Springs
At Barton Springs Pool
At Barton Springs Pool
Sister antics at dinner
Sister antics at dinner
One of many, many wonderful meals out on the town
One of many, many wonderful meals out on the town
Aggressive sister love in 2011 (top) and 2015 (bottom)
Aggressive sister love in 2011 (top) and 2015 (bottom)

We ate all the things, saw all the places, listened to live music, went dancing, ate more of the things, went new phone shopping (4 of us have new phones now, yay!), played board games and ate some more things. In the wake of all of this merriment, I’m a bit exhausted, bloated from eating all the things, and some how haven’t had time to wash my hair in three days, but I had such a fun time!

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Playing hooky

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We’re in the last few days of June, summer is officially here and it’s hot in Texas. It’s also about to be my slowest month of the year with Manic Trout. So when Adam begged that at 4pm today, I take a break for a few hours and go to Twin Falls, which part of the Green Belt here in Austin, I didn’t have to think that hard about it. It’s been rare that he has had a sunny day off with all the rain we’ve been having, so we both jumped at the chance to go for a swim with friends.  I’m so happy we did as it was a beautiful hike to the falls and back, the water was perfect, it wasn’t too crowded and thanks to all that rain, both little falls were flowing beautifully!

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Deep Thoughts From The Past Week

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At Lenoir in Austin, TX

1. Peeping through windows in fences is fun! It also prompts lots of poses…I should really peep though more fence windows.

2. I really like having short hair in theory. But in practice, I didn’t like it 90% of the time as for me it was much more high maintenance than really long hair is. I think this is due to my fine curly hair…it need attention to look good short. 

3. The bond that you have with people you attended boarding school with is like no other.

4. Volunteering does for my heart what exercise does for my head. I have been figuring out what to do next for too long since stepping down from my last board position and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I finally started again. Service is good for the soul.

5. Having two dogs in bed with you is not conducive to a solid nights sleep. I don’t think I’ve had one night of uninterrupted sleep since Mora moved in. And its almost always Faye who is disruptive.

6. Which brings me to my next deep thought, that Rat Terriers are incredibly food motivated and get worse when there are multiple of them. Are they egging each other on?

7. I’m pretty sure that I only eat fro-yo as an excuse to eat candy. Which by the way, I have been really good about besides a handful of fro yo splurges in the last 6 weeks!

8. People in the South, and Texas is included in this, move slow on many levels. Shipping seems to be included in this. There is no sense of urgency here!

9. Running in 100 degree temps is brutal, but it’s also a little extra satisfying when you’re done and you know you survived it.

10. This one is more of a question…is it necessary to drink water in the middle of a 40 minute run when it is 90-95 degrees out? Somedays I’m ok, but other days I think that I should have one of those little water bottle belts when it’s this hot. I would prefer not to have to wear one or carry water though, so if I’m fine not having water until after I’d like to wait.

 

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Making Friends as Adults

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I’ve read a few things over the years about how the majority of the good friends you make in your life are made before you leave college. When you think about it, you will never spend as much time with friends as you do before say, 25. Especially if you live with them be it in a dorm or an apartment. I’ll be the first to admit that the bonds I made with friends I went to boarding school with for four years will never be duplicated. I don’t think I even have spent that much time with people I’ve been in long term relationships with since then. But anyway, even if you don’t live on campus for high school and/or college, you still spend a great deal of time together in the student years. After college it becomes harder to redefine how you make friends. So you most likely have close work friends but are for the most part are still bonded to those friends from high school and college.

As we age however, we do not all follow the same paths in life. Some people have kids, some go hard career wise and some flounder for a bit and hold on to their lifestyle from their younger years. If you are like me and attended boarding school and college where everyone you know is from all over the globe, you most likely don’t live near each other. Social media has helped many of us over a certain age reconnect and those younger than us stay in touch, but our lives still evolve and sometimes you find your self in a situation where you need to make some friends.

I felt this especially when I moved to Texas from New York four years ago. I was fortunate to be dating someone who lived in Austin, and I of course had the internet and phone so I could talk to my sisters and friends as often as I liked, but I still needed to find new friends to hang out with, go to lunch with and actually see in person. Some of you may not need that, but I do. It was interesting being in my mid 30’s and moving to a new city where I would not really have a forced connection to people. As I was self employed, am someone who prefers solitary exercise, has no kids, has a dog who does not like dog parks, am not a member of a spiritual group or really having any connection to stick me in the middle of like minded people, I had to be proactive about making friends.

Facebook was great as I was talking about moving to Austin all the time, so I connected with anyone I knew who lived here before I even arrived. That was only a small of handful of people though and I knew I would have to actually put myself out there to meet people, I also knew that it would not happen over night. Luckily, I am naturally outgoing, so I joined a local group of hand made artists and applied to be in markets in a popular part of the city to make “work friends”. I volunteered, I got involved in anything I could and I attended everything I could in the way of networking events. At all of these things I would basically ask any one I felt there was a friend “spark” with out to lunch or coffee. Sometimes I would meet them and then weeks later email them and ask them to meet up. Making friends is really like dating, you basically have to work at finding the perfect people you want to have a relationship with. As there’s never the added stress of also wanting to make sure you want to have sex/babies/marriage with new friends, its much less stressful too. However, also like dating, sometimes you never go out on a second or third date, you just have to accept that.

Four years later, as I look back on who I have met since moving here, I am blown away by the wonderful new friends I have made who have become such large parts of my life. Now when I attend events, I am no longer as aggressive in my quest to meet new people, but I definitely still do. I have also noticed that in the past 2 years, a very interesting thing has started happening thanks to social media. More and more, I am meeting people I have connected with via instagram or facebook in real life. Some are people who I may have emailed with for work at some point due to being in related fields and we ended up connecting everywhere, some are just people who we have reached out to each other as we live in the same city and are obviously into the same things. I met my friend Jessi (she is in the photo with me above) after we connected on LinkedIn. She sent me a message asking me out for coffee and the rest is history!

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Top 5 reasons bossy women make awesome friends

Little Miss Bossy

Over the past year, thanks largely to Sheryl Sandberg, Tiny Fey, Sophia Amoruso and Amy Poehler the term bossy has become a hot topic. Mainly for being called out for being a derogatory and sexist term. Movements like Ban Bossy state sad truths such as: When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.”

About a year ago I was called bossy by a woman whom I have know for many, many years and had not seen in at least a decade. It felt like I had been slapped in the face when she said it, especially as she meant it as an insult. All I could think was that I had not been called bossy since I was a little girl, because for my entire adult life, I was no longer considered “bossy”, I was simply the boss. I’m still pissed off about it, and even more irritated that little girls are continuing to be put down for being natural leaders.

As I know so many awesomely bossy women whom I adoringly call wonderful friends, I decided to sum up the top 5 reasons why it so awesome to both be bossy and have bossy women as friends:

1. Time is never wasted figuring out what the plan is because a bossy woman will always step up immediately and make sure one is in place. Note that if more than one bossy woman is in the group, there is never a conflict over this task, bossy woman love other bossy woman, as long as a plan is being made, a bossy woman could care less who is doing it.

2. Bossy women get shit done.

3. If you have a problem or need advice and you turn to a bossy woman, she will make sure that you are provided with the correct information/contact person/place to go. She will usually also take it upon her self to make all necessarily introductions and connections to facilitate this.

4. Need to address a large crowd of people at a moments notice, grab the nearest bossy woman. She most likely thrives at both public speaking and has no problem coming up with a solution to your problem on the fly.

5. In the time of a crisis or emergency, a bossy woman will save your life. She is usually prepared for anything and is known for skills #1-4.

Now go on out there and surround yourself with as many bossy woman as you can and men: if you’re really smart, you’ll marry one!

p.s. were you as big a fan of the Roger Hargreaves books as I was? I never realized there were so many!?!

Roger Hargeaves Characters

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Having work friends when you work from home

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One of the hardest parts of working from home is that you don’t have colleagues. Besides the inability to delegate, ask for help and share the work of a big project, the issue is really the loneliness. Granted social media helps this a great deal as you are now able to at least easily interact with people in real time, but there is no one there to relate to. When you work with a group of people, there is always someone to feel your pain of a crazy deadline, celebrate big wins and bounce ideas off of. That is what I miss the most when I am in my studio. However, the awesome thing about life is that there are always other people going through exactly what you are, you just have to find them. I have found such a group and we meet once a month on Wednesday nights at my house and over delicious snacks and gummi kabobs, we talk. The idea is to talk about business…share what we’re going though, ask for advice, be held accountable for goals, be pushed further along in what we do by people who know and care about us. But who am I kidding, there is much more than just that going on! We chat about our lives as much about work and are equally as helpful to one another with dealing with personal issues as we are with business.

Gummi Kabobs

I crave these monthly get togethers and sometimes I don’t know how I’d get through the month without knowing that as soon as I let them all know whats going on, it will already start to feel better. Well, that and Gummi Kabobs.

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