Don't Quit Your Day Job (Yet)

Let me ask you something… when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, does it feel like practically everyone is a #bossbabe, enjoying a nearly perfect existence decked out in their (Insta-worthy) pajamas with their adorable pups at their feet?

  There's nothing wrong with this image - it's the one we want to project to the world as confident and capable business owners. But it's also important to share the reality, if we're truly in this together.

There's nothing wrong with this image - it's the one we want to project to the world as confident and capable business owners. But it's also important to share the reality, if we're truly in this together.

  Me working at my desk. On a Saturday. With a not-so-cute messy bun. And eating turkey sausage out of my daughter's bowl.

Me working at my desk. On a Saturday. With a not-so-cute messy bun. And eating turkey sausage out of my daughter's bowl.

Where are all the photos of people grinding it out at their desk jobs between the hours of 9 and 5? Where are the hardworkin’ ladies with their hair in a messy bun (and not cute messy… just messy) furiously trying to finish that “one last thing” while everyone else in their family is asleep? What I mean to say is, where are all the women like me?

And I get it. I'm guilty of sugar-coating things too. That's why I try to be real in my captions, and give a glimpse of what life actually looks like in my Instagram Story.

The comparison rabbit hole

As a podcast fanatic, I’ve heard lots of stories about entrepreneurs who were able to walk out of their cubicles and start setting their own schedules. I’ve listened as they’ve dished about the perks of being their own boss or hiring a team. Not gonna lie, they are inspiring stories! On good days, they get me fueled up to put one more hour into my business when I feel like I have nothing left to give. But on bad days, they make me want to pack it all in and call it a day.

“DON'T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO SOMEONE ELSE'S MIDDLE, OR YOUR MIDDLE TO SOMEONE ELSE'S END.” - A VERY, VERY SMART PERSON
   We need to remember that growing slowly is okay. It’s normal, and frankly, it’s smart as hell, even if it’s not very exciting.

We need to remember that growing slowly is okay. It’s normal, and frankly, it’s smart as hell, even if it’s not very exciting.

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote a million times; I know I have. Like me you may get caught up in the outcome, the payoff from all the hard work these business owners have put in over the years. It’s likely that your story will have a similar ending. However, you’re not there yet. I’m not there yet. We need to remember that growing slowly is okay. It’s normal, and frankly, it’s smart as hell, even if it’s not very exciting.

The Success Story Conundrum

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that success stories are the enemy. I believe that the more we hear about others finding success in their niche, the more we are able to envision the same kind of success for ourselves. It gives us the bravery we need to go on when reaching our next goal feels unachievable.

The trouble arises when people try to sell us a one-size-fits-all path to success, which usually looks a lot like their own path. Most of the marketing and “how to” courses out there are built around the idea that you can have success if you replicate the exact methods someone else used, without considering all the factors that make you and your business unique. Will any of these strategies work if you don’t plan on walking away from your full-time job tomorrow? Sadly, they might not.

The Case for Growing Slowly

Growing your business slowly and steadily isn’t very romantic. It doesn’t make for a whirlwind story that people are going to tell their friends about after they hear it on the latest podcast episode. It’s practical, and well, kinda boring. But sometimes, that’s what being an adult is all about. It’s about tedious things like needing a steady paycheck, good benefits you don’t have to go bankrupt to afford, and a retirement account. Let's face it - responsibility can be a real snoozefest.

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There is no sure thing in business, but something that’s a pretty safe bet? If you get yourself into uncomfortable financial territory to keep up with the #girlboss gang, you’re going to have a pretty steep uphill battle on your hands. It’s hard enough to create a successful business, not to mention having to recoup all of those expenses right out of the gate.

Slow growth means taking the profit you make and reinvesting it back into your business. It means having 3 to 6 month’s worth of income in your “quitting fund” before walking away from your full time job. (Or going part-time instead of walking out completely.) It means doing a ton of research about the benefits you’re going to be responsible for when you no longer have an employer providing them. It means thinking about how you’re going to save for retirement and pay your own taxes.

We need to embrace the influencers that are willing to share this kind of messaging, and who are dedicated to giving out real tips that aspiring entrepreneurs can use to mindfully grow their business. One of my favorite resources for information like this is Tradeshow Bootcamp. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just love the shit out of them and their dedication to slow and steady growth for long-term success. They specialize in the stationery and gift industries, so if this is of any interest to you, I encourage you to check them out.

Do you have any favorite podcasts or influencers that make you feel powerful rather than left behind? Share them in the comments below! Here’s to (slowly) knocking those business goals out of the park!

 

Photos (the pretty ones, that is) by Shaunae Teske.

Place Cards and Escort Cards - What’s The Difference, and Why Does it Matter?

If you’re in the process of planning your wedding, your head is probably spinning with ideas, and your Pinterest page is without a doubt the most active it has ever been. I got married in the “dark ages” before Pinterest, so I was basically on my own when it came to the little details like favors and centerpieces and all that stuff... Not. Fair.

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Honestly, there are days where I wish I could have a do-over. Do I want the stress or financial burden all over again? Hell no. But, I do want to have a cute chalkboard sign that welcomes my guests and a wildflower crown to wear at my reception. As it stands, I’m ridiculously happy being married to my soulmate, so a “round two” probably  isn’t in the cards for me. So it goes. 😉

That means I get to live vicariously through all of the kickass couples I’m lucky enough to work with. There are so many fun ways to make a wedding completely unique, but I have to say the place cards and escort cards I’ve hand-lettered for my client’s weddings are some of my favorite pieces I’ve worked on so far.

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Escort Cards vs. Place Cards

So let’s talk about place cards and escort cards. I’ve noticed that sometimes when people say they want place cards, they really want escort cards, and vice versa. Even though they seem like the same thing, they’re each used for a slightly different purpose. 

Lets me break it on down for ya:

Escort Cards

You’ve probably been to a wedding reception before that had a table set up near the entrance full of cards with names on them. These are escort cards. In the past, they were almost always made out of cardstock folded in half to look like little tents, but these days people are getting pretty creative with them. They can be made out of anything, like wood slices, sea glass, driftwood, tile… just to name a few. 

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When guests walk into the reception, they find the card with their name on it.  As an escort card, the card will also include a table number. The guest can then look for the right table number, pick a seat, and put their card down. That way, they’re free to mingle and enjoy cocktail hour, and they know they have a seat for dinner. This allows you to seat guests with (or away from) other guests, but still gives them the freedom to choose their own seat at the table.

A  similar alternative is the seating chart, which is placed in one location and lists the guest names along with their table assignments.  This performs essentially the same function, except guests do not have a place marker for their specific seat at the table.

Place Cards

Place cards, unlike escort cards, are already placed on the tables when the guests arrive. There is sometimes a seating chart set up at the entrance to the venue to help guests find their seat at the correct table. 

Utilizing place cards isn’t only convenient for when you want to make sure total strangers don’t end up having to sit together (although this can be kind of fun sometimes), it’s also helpful when you have plated meals. Making sure everyone is in an assigned seat makes it super easy for the waitstaff to deliver the correct dinner to the correct guest.

This method of seating is more rigid, as you are determining exactly which seat every guest will be occupying.

Get Creative with Place Cards and Escort Cards

No matter which option you choose, know that there’s no limit to how creative you can get. The little whimsical touches that you infuse into your wedding are the details your guests will remember years down the road when they think back to your wedding night.

Here are some fun ideas to consider to add some personality to your place cards or escort cards:

Choose something other than paper. What about having your guest’s names hand-written on ribbon, rocks, agate slices, or leaves? Bonus points if you can tie it into your love story, for example, using shells if you both love the beach.

Get creative with table numbers! Like, maybe think about using something other than numbers? I’ve heard of people using country names to represent the places they’ve visited (ugh, I wish) or movies they love, or cute pet names they’ve given each other. It will give your guests something to talk about when they’re trying to break the ice before dinner starts.

Kill two birds with one stone by making place cards or escort cards that can double as wedding favors. Put your guest’s names on a tiny terra-cotta pot and put a little succulent inside. Make old school mix tapes on cassettes and have the guest’s names hand-written on the label. There’s no limit to how imaginative you can get with these! 

I love creating place cards and escort cards, and I have done some pretty sweet ones… check out these wood slices I did this summer! In addition to place cards and escort cards, I also offer a full suite of wedding products, like invitations and signage, all fully customized for your event. I’d love to talk to you about your fun ideas! Let’s hop on a Skype call or grab some coffee and hash it all out!

3 Reasons a Hand-Lettered Logo Isn’t Always the Best Option

Hey business owner. I see you over there, struggling to come up with the right logo. You know, the one that illustrates the incredible work you do and captures your unique style. You’re looking for one that will show current and potential customers what makes your business stand out from the crowd. It also has to aesthetically look great and be versatile enough to use all over: from business cards to watermarks and everything in between. There’s a lot to consider and unfortunately, many people get overwhelmed before they even start the design process, and end up just choosing something on a whim. 

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No doubt you’ve seen an influx of hand-lettered logos lately. I sure have! They’re really popular right now, and maybe you’ve been wondering if you should create something like that for yourself. It’s definitely something worth considering, however, I’ve got to be honest: a lot of hand-lettered logos I see are just not cutting it. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as grabbing a brush-tip marker and whipping something up. There’s some considerations you have to make first, just like with any other style of graphic design you work with.

Let’s go over a few of the most common reasons hand-lettered logos fail.

Three Big Reasons Hand-Lettered Logos Fail

Hand-Lettered Logos Can Be Difficult to Read

You’ve probably encountered a logo that has made you stop and squint as if you’re looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures. What the heck does that say? This is no bueno. The main purpose of a logo is to quickly communicate what you’re all about using a few words and some visual cues. If your logo cannot be read, that’s a pretty big problem.

Your potential customers are being pulled in a million directions, and they don’t have time to investigate your business. Your logo needs to quickly and clearly spell out what you do, who you are, and what you offer. 

I’m not saying all hand-lettered logos are hard to read. However, if your business has an uncommon or super long name, you may discover that script fonts aren’t very effective. In this case, you may want to choose a serif font or use a hand-written style for just part of the logo. Play around with different lettering styles and see what works best.

The Hand-Lettered Style Doesn’t Fit Your Brand

Hand-lettering is trendy, but it’s not for everyone. As a designer, there’s a good chance I would advise a client who owns a roofing or construction company to avoid a flowy hand-lettered script for their logo. That’s not to say they can’t use hand-lettering altogether; perhaps something in a print or block style would work better. 

It’s important to honestly examine whether a style will work for you, which means you gotta be objective. That’s often easier said than done. Sometimes it means abandoning an idea that you really love. The best advice I can give is to work with a marketing or design pro that you can trust. They’ll know when to say, “Yeah, I don’t think this will work for your business.” Having someone in your corner like that is invaluable. 

Your Brand Name is Too Long for a Hand-Lettered Logo

Too much of a good thing can be… well, too much. I’ve seen hand-lettered logos fail because there’s just too much going on. If your business name is several words long, for example “Leslie Knope Photography Studio” you probably want to consider using two different fonts to break things up. 

Many people choose to mix some hand-lettering alongside a very clean, minimal font. This can work really well. You will want to consider how you arrange the words in your logo so nothing is cut off or covered. This can be especially tricky when you have letters like “g” or “y” that have tails that extend below the rest of the text. A graphic designer can help align your logo so it is visually appealing and easy to read.

A Hand-Lettered Logo That Stands Out

So, I’ve talked about some of the reasons hand-lettered logos can fail, and now I want to share some simple steps you can take to make sure yours stands out for all the right reasons:

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Work With an Experienced Designer - A professional graphic designer is a valuable investment when branding (or rebranding) your business. Logos and other visual elements are often more complicated than they seem. Beyond just looking good, they need to be able to tell stories about your brand, as well as play upon the psychology of your potential customers. A great designer can be a lifesaver. Choose one whose work you admire, and who you feel comfortable collaborating with.

Give Honest Feedback - On that point, sometimes you’re going to have to tell your designer you’re not crazy about something. That’s okay! It’s your business you should love your logo. After all, you’re going to be seeing it more than anyone else! If you’re worried your logo is hard to read or just doesn’t fit the personality of your business, speak up. You may even want to ask friends and family what they think as you go through the design process.

Be Yourself - Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself. If a style, color, or font doesn’t speak to you, don’t choose it just because everyone else seems to like it. Trends come and go, but your brand is here to stay. It’s so much more of a boss move to choose a truly unique logo that tells your story instead of one that looks like everyone else’s.