That Working Girl

Why Investing in Your Creativity is an Investment in Your Happiness (+ Business!)

CareerLindsay ShoemakeComment
Investing In Your Creativity and Business

Let’s be real for a minute - working full-time and maintaining a side hustle is hard work. For the last three years I’ve been a professional juggler, balancing a desire to excel at my 8-to-5 while also building my blog, freelance portfolio and finding my niche. A lot of my days look like this: wake up at 6 a.m., chug coffee, scramble to work, get my morning tasks done, work on side hustle emails during lunch, wrap up afternoon tasks, scramble back home, wrap up the day at home with blog work. Whew!

In these last few years, intentionally setting aside time to invest in my creativity has fallen to the wayside, which ultimately had a domino affect on my blog and freelance work. Without investing my time into sketching out ideas, aimlessly playing in Photoshop with the intent to learn, and not touching my camera for months, stale, mundane ideas and designs crept their way into my work.

Scary, I know!

Since realizing that I was in a full-fledged creativity crisis, I’ve taken intentional steps toward setting aside time to read about creativity (I’m lookin’ at you, “Big Magic”!), attend classes where I can create with my hands and more. But first, I had to get over a few lies I was believing about investing in myself. Are you struggling with any of these, too?

I can’t afford creative classes or conferences, and will they even help me?

I believed this lie for a long time. Several creative workshops popped up in St. Louis over the last few months, but I was making excuses to not attend for reasons like ‘not having the money’ or that ‘I was too tired.’ Lame! I now save a percentage of my freelance income specifically for investing back into myself and my creativity. This month I’m taking a flower crown design class that I never would’ve looked at twice in the past. Sure, I’m not a freelance florist, but working with my hands brings me joy and I’m excited to see who I connect with in the class. Pushing yourself to learn new things and be around fellow creatives will help you, no matter what your blog or business’s niche is.

I don’t have the time to invest in my creativity - I’m already so tired!

This was a big one, too. Between work and my “after-work-work” as I like to call it, I was feeling spread very thin. But I took baby steps, looking at 1 to 2-hour events after working hours or seeking our weekend workshops that wouldn’t interfere with my work week. Sure enough opportunities popped up and I jumped at the chance to get involved. I’d recommend checking out event sites like Eventbrite to see what upcoming workshops and creative conferences are happening in your city, and which ones will fit into your schedule. Also, consider looking at your schedule to see where you can trim out unnecessary time that you’re spending - can you cut your workout from 1 hour down to 30 minutes? Can you spend less hours on a certain client’s project? Saying “no” to some projects and “yes” to investing in your creativity and happiness will never do you wrong.

I don’t know if investing in my creative work will make me happier.

This is a dark place to be in, but I’ve been there. Before pouring time into my creativity, I felt very bland and without ideas. This article from the Huffington Post is a great read on why being creative makes us happier, but in short - when we get totally zoned in on the creative process of a project and then step back and witness the final product, uncontrollable feel-good endorphins rush through us and we experience genuine happiness. I totally experienced this that time I dove into Photoshop and designed a brand vision board for hours, only being able to admire the final product once it was complete. It was an amazing feeling, and one that I continually feel when I attend a class, conference or attempt a new creative project at home.

You deserve to invest in your creativity and to experience all of the amazing benefits it brings to your blog, business and brand. You’ll be astounded to see how your community will grow along the way, too. How will you push yourself to pour back into yourself after a long day at the office, the studio or home

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet me at @HeyWorkingGirl!

Prints Charming: Why I'm Picky When it Comes to Paper for My Prints!

CareerLindsay ShoemakeComment
Boise Paper_That Working Girl

This post is sponsored by Boise Paper. All opinions and thoughts are my own. 

One thing that I love about my home office is my gallery wall – I work hard to design prints that I love and happily print them off to switch out my office wall decor seasonally. Since printing can be expensive, I opt to print my personal designs at home before framing them, and this has worked wonderfully for me. 

That Working Girl_Boise Paper

Thanks to Boise Paper, my art prints always print out colorfully and crisply, with no runny ink or paper jams! I recently put my design prints to the test while printing on Boise Polaris Premium Color Copy Paper and Hammermill Premium Multi-Purpose Paper, and here's what I discovered: 

Opacity matters!

No one loves a flimsy-looking art print that you can see right through. With Boise Paper, I know that my prints will look perfectly opaque and high-quality. Unfortunately, the competitor didn't quite do the trick – I dealt with some opacity issues right off the bat and the ink didn't take to the paper as well. 

Shine bright, look right. 

Paper brightness affects design prints as well, and the brighter the better! Creamy papers can make your colorful prints look dull and lifeless. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about any brightness issues with Boise. The colors popped right off the the page and brought the design perfectly to life. Crisis averted! If you look at the two prints in my post header, it's clear to see that that the color richness in the right print is much greater than that of the left. Sure enough, the left print was printed on Boise Paper! 

Paper jams aren't my jam. 

If there's one thing that gets under my skin during the workday, it's a paper jam that takes forever to fix. There just simply isn't time in the day to deal with these office nuances! Unlike the competitor paper, Boise didn't jam for me once, even when printing off color-rich design projects back-to-back. 

What is your paper of preference for printing projects, especially for design work? Share yours in the comments below or tweet me at @HeyWorkingGirl!

 

How to Expertly Style Your Home Office Desk

CareerLindsay ShoemakeComment
How to Expertly Style Your Home Office

This desk styling guide is sponsored by Blue Cow Office Products. All opinions are my own! 

One part of my home that I love the most is my personal office – my haven where I crank out all of my blog, freelance and design work after hours! As my work load has increased recently, I've needed to add to my collection of office supplies while also keeping my desk chic and tidy. 

Luckily, I discovered Blue Cow Office Products just in the nick of time. Not only does the online destination for all things office products offer an extensive array of of desk essentials like notebooks, organizers, clipboards and more, but they're also available for great value. You can order in bulk for your corporate office, too! 

In setting up my office for success, I've learned a thing or two when it comes to styling your space for optimal productivity, success and happy work feelings. Here are a few easy ways that you can amp up the style of your home office: 

Surround yourself with positivity.

To me, this is the most important part of my office. I love switching up the art prints that adorn the walls of my office seasonally, while also keeping a frame quote or two around my workspace. Let me tell you – it's hard to wake up each morning feeling motivated and ready to take on the day's tasks and hurdles. However, bringing a few inspirational quotes and images into the mix always seems to do the trick. 

Another tip? Jumpstart your time in your workspace with a listen to an inspiring podcast while knocking out admin tasks like emails and social media replies. A few of my recent favorites include The Coffee Commute, Marriage is Funny and The Lively Show – all great, empowering listens that are bound to leave you smiling and inspired! 

How to Expertly Style Your Home Office

Keep your most-used items on your desk – the rest away! 

I love having a clean and tidy surface on my desk. Regardless, it's important to keep our your essentials – but, of course, I like to make sure that mine are cute! I'm loving my blue Swingline Classic Stapler from Blue Cow, as well my the printed spiral-bound notebook that I've been keeping all of my side hustle to-dos in. To minimize clutter I keep these everyday essentials on my desk along with my obsession – colorful Paper Mate felt tip pens

One creative way that I've been clearing my desk of unnecessary papers is by keeping them clipped to a clipboard on my wall – it's a great visual way to keep an eye on exactly what I need to get done, and when. I love this fun yellow one, made with recycled plastic.

How to Expertly Style Your Home Office

Add in accessories to make your desk feel like home.

Let's face it – if you're side hustling like me, you're spending a lot of extra hours at your desk. Make it feel like another part of your home! I adore the white faux fur rug that I've included as a part of my office, as well as the comfy blue chair that's an awesome statement piece for the office. During the winter, it's not odd for me to drape a blanket over the back of my chair, just in case I get a little cold. Make your office desk work for you by adding in little personal touches that bring joy and fulfillment to your workday.

How to Expertly Style Your Home Office Desk

Be sure to keep up with Blue Cow Office Products on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for products to keep your desk happy!

What are the desk essentials that you can't live without, and how do you style them to suit your personal taste? Leave your must-haves in the comments below or tweet me at @HeyWorkingGirl!

Hello, Working Girl: Andrea Linett and Ivka Adam of Iconery

ConversationsLindsay ShoemakeComment
Hello, Working Girls: Andrea Linett and Ivka Adam of Iconery

Meet Andrea Linett and Ivka Adam, creative director and founder of the premier online destination for jewelry fanatics – Iconery! You may know Andrea as the founding editor of beloved Lucky magazine and Ivka for her footprint in the tech industry, working for eBay and Hulu.  I love Iconery's one-of-a-kind designs, as well as the fact that all gemstones are ethically sourced. Read on to learn more about the events that led to the launch of Iconery, as well as how the two found each other as business partners.

I'm also giving away $200 to Iconery to one lucky reader. Learn more about how to enter at the end of this post! 

Q: What inspired you to launch Iconery, and what was your initial vision for the brand? 

IVKA: I’ve always loved fine jewelry, it’s a passion that started long ago, passed down by my mother. Her collection of gemstones and artisan-made treasures are so beautiful and special. She taught me the importance of investing in real jewelry – not necessarily having the largest quantity of jewelry but rather a collection of unique, choice pieces.

What’s more, I’ve always had a great admiration for truly talented jewelry designers, and our technology enables them to bring their collections to market in an extraordinarily efficient, cost-effective way—we can essentially design and produce their pieces on-demand.

Q: How do you feel that both of your professional backgrounds prepared you for launching Iconery? In what surprising ways were you not prepared? 

IVKA: During my six-year career in fashion e-commerce, most notably at eBay, I’d realized that women lacked a singular, editorialized, online destination for fine, on-trend jewelry.  And with the today’s movement among style-conscious women toward investing in fewer, but higher quality pieces, I knew the timing couldn’t be better to launch a well-curated marketplace. I teamed up with fashion-industry veteran Andrea Linett, founding creative director of Lucky magazine, and we set out to create an informative, accessible and fun place to shop for fine jewelry. Because above all, we believe shopping should be enjoyable!

ANDREA: I have always worked in fashion and publishing and became obsessed with jewelry years ago while working on a story for Harper’s Bazaar. I probably know more about jewelry than a lot of jewelers – it’s a real passion of mine. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would want everything!

Q: I'm dying to know - what's your go-to morning routine, and what do your days look like while running Iconery? Do you have a sizable team assisting you? 

IVKA: I start my day practicing Transcendental Meditation and then I work out while listening to NPR or the TED Radio Hour.  On any given day I am talking with fine jewelry designers, manufacturers, influencers, and investors.  The key is to keep 1 or 2 “North Star Goals” and manage to-do lists accordingly.  The hardest part of launching a start-up is staying laser-focused.  Much of my day is spent brainstorming great ideas, and then constantly sorting what we will and won’t do.  Years ago I established Mondays as “no meeting Mondays” — to focus and set the week up for success.  We have a core team of 6 women, and an extended team of 12 people who are working on Iconery at any given time.  I’m proud to say that our core team ages range from 29-63 and two of the women have had babies since we launched!  How many start-up founding teams can boast either of those attributes!

ANDREA: We all work together – it’s a very democratic team. So in the morning I wake up, feed my newborn baby before I have a big coffee, do a little work out and eat breakfast. Then I hit the ground running and start working on various aspects of the site/business.

Q: What are the biggest challenges and triumphs that you've experienced as business owners? 

IVKA: As a trained marketer I’ve had experience in multiple marketing mediums: traditional, digital, offline...etc. and it’s crazy to test and learn to see which medium is most effective for Iconery. We’re still trying to find the perfect marketing mix and it’s a huge challenge. I thought with all my experience that I’d know exactly what would work, and we’re still figuring it out.  I guess there’s no silver bullet?  Ha!

A big triumph for me was back at the beginning when I cold-emailed Andrea through LinkedIn, asking if she was interested in working on Iconery and she responded immediately. She said she was actually interested in hearing more because she loved fine jewelry and wanted to get involved. I couldn’t believe it – THE Andrea Linett wanted to be part of Iconery.  I was so amazed and grateful.

Q: How does Iconery set itself apart from the crowd, and what are each of your 'must-have' pieces from the collection?  

IVKA: All of our jewelry is real — we firmly believe in our tagline, “Because life’s too short to wear fake jewelry!”. Each piece can be tailored to our customer’s personal style and budget, as she can choose from a range of metals, stones, and proportions. We’re concerned about ethical mining, so all diamonds and gemstones on Iconery are conflict-free. And our direct-to-consumer model means our shoppers get the best value, selection and price (which averages between $200 and $500 – pricing tops out at around $7,000). And of course, we offer free shipping on orders over $150, free returns, and (nearly) 24/7 customer service.  There isn’t a go-to destination online for fine, on-trend jewelry, and that’s what we strive to be.  One of our core tenant is that we wouldn’t put any jewelry on the site that we wouldn’t wear.  Okay, well, our one exception is heart jewelry...I never wear hearts, but Andrea picks out the cool ones for Iconery.

For designers, Iconery has streamlined and simplified the formula: we provide jewelry designers with end-to-end production, aggregate buying power when it comes to labor and stone sourcing, and because of our technology, consistent production quality. The jewelry is made-to-order for each consumer once purchased and can be delivered in 2-3 weeks. This unique supply chain affords us the ability to pass along the best price possible to the consumer.Also, through our editorial stories, we teach women different ways to wear and pair jewelry—from how to layer necklaces like a pro, to how to wear a double-finger ring (and still be able to type!). If you’re a serious executive and want something classic with an edge that won’t feel inappropriate in the boardroom, we have that kind of jewelry too.

There are a few foundational pieces that I’m crazy for:
1. I wear Mara Carrizo Scalise’s Long Box Chain Necklace every day, usually knotted—it looks amazing over a t-shirt or with a silk button-down.

2. I love Luv AJ’s Gold Crown Hoop Huggies, they are the perfect amount of edgy and dainty.

3. Finally, Iconery has created jewelry staples at direct-to-consumer prices, so you have the perfect pieces upon which to build your collection.  Two of my favorites are the Diamond Stackable Ring Infinity Band and the Arc Ring.

ANDREA: If you shop for jewelry online, you will see there aren’t many places with a point of view. Most department stores have a random selection of pieces that don’t really make sense together. Iconery definitely has a point of view—we don’t sell things that we wouldn’t be psyched to wear, and everything would go together in one woman’s jewelry wardrobe.  And we show you things that maybe you didn’t even know you wanted and tell you how to wear them. We’re your best jewelry-obsessed friend.

Keep up with Iconery's founders at their personal Twitter handles – @alinett and @CAivka – as well as Iconery on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Also, don't forget to sign up for Iconery's emails on their homepage here.

Want to win $200 to splurge on Iconery product? It's easy! Join me on Instagram – @HeyWorking Girl – and follow these three steps: 
1. Follow @theinconery on Instagram
2. Follow @thatworkinggirl on Instagram
3. Comment on my giveaway post with your favorite piece of jewelry from Iconery + your email address - that's it!

I will be choosing the winner of this giveaway at random on Wednesday at 8 p.m. CST. Good luck!

Hello, Working Girls: Jessica Camerata and Cathy Anderson of The Blog Societies

ConversationsLindsay ShoemakeComment
Jessica Camerata and Cathy Anderson of The Blog Societies

Meet Jessica and Cathy, bloggers and founder of The Blog Societies! I began reading Jessica's blog, My Style Vita, and Cathy's, Poor Little It Girl, while I was in college in Georgia. It's been amazing to see how both ladies have evolved blogging into a fulfilling business and that The Blog Societies is now a thriving network of talented creators. 

Learn more about the work that went into launching The Blog Societies below, as well as tips for successful blogging from the founders! 

Q: What needs in the blogging world were you looking to fill when you launched The Blog Societies' first region, The Southern Blog Society, in 2013? What kind of prep time and pre-launch work went into the unveiling of the network?

Jessica: The inspiration for the Southern Blog Society (and eventually The Blog Societies) was born out of a desire to connect with other bloggers. I knew Cathy was a fellow blogger in the Atlanta area, yet we never crossed paths until I reached out with an invitation for drinks. It was at drinks that we collectively recognized the need for a digital space where bloggers could easily find and connect with one another, both in their own cities and beyond. And that was when The Southern Blog Society was born. After coming up with a concept, core goals and solid features, which were essential for our launch, we determined our roles within the company. This would ensure we would stay as organized and effective as possible when we officially launched a year later.

Cathy: At its core, The Southern Blog Society was founded in order to build an online community where bloggers could connect and grow. Before the inception of our network, it was very hard to find and connect with other bloggers (who, let’s be honest, are complete strangers!). After meeting Jessica in 2012 and coming up with the idea, we spent a full year brainstorming, networking and building The Blog Societies brand before we launching in January of the following year. 

Q: We see that you're moving to Atlanta soon, Cathy - congrats! Prior to this move, what was managing The Blog Societies like as a remote team? 

Cathy: Thank you! Luckily, working remotely wasn't too difficult for us. Jessica and I had multiple "office hour" FaceTime calls each week to discuss the business and our to-dos. We both have specific responsibilities when it comes to running the business, which also helps. Jessica works on memberships and emails and I work on invoices and the daily site features and updates. 

Q: I've loved seeing The Blog Societies' annual conference year after year. What kind of sneak peeks can you give us of this year's conference, and what kind of planning goes into such a large event?

Jessica: We’re creating a fun welcome package for our attendees staying at Belmond Charleston Place Hotel this year. I don't want to spill all the beans, but we've partnered with one of our favorite beauty brands on it! Also, our signature brochure and map duo is just too cute for words. It's an exciting way for us to start the weekend and does wonders to set the tone for the conference.

Cathy: I’m so excited to get those welcome packages into the hands our attendees! It takes months and months to plan everything from speakers and workshops to happy hours and luncheons for each conference, and it’s beyond rewarding to see all of the hard work come to life on the first day. 

Q: What are your tried and true tips and tricks for a successful blogger-brand collaboration? What have been some of your most exciting recent collaborations?

Jessica: When forming a blogger-brand collaboration, ensure that expectations and conditions are very clear. I'm a big fan of contracts as they hold both ends accountable. Some of my most exciting collaborations have taken place with that brands I've always loved. A recent collaboration that was particularly exciting for me was Chantelle. They make the most amazing bras and I've been wearing them for years!

Cathy: Ensure all asks, requirements and expectations are determined up front, before any products are sent or photos are taken. In order to achieve a successful campaign, each side needs to have a clear vision for the collaboration and then needs to be able to communicate that vision with the other party effectively.

I love working with brands that I’ve always been a fan of, but I also like discovering new brands that share the same values and fit the aesthetic of my blog. These always lead to the most exciting collaborations!

Q: For women who are blogging today, what would you best words of advice be to set themselves apart from the crowd?

Jessica: I think it's important to do what you love and to share those things with your readers. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers, as it can cause you to lose sight of what you really want for yourself and your brand.

Cathy: In a sea of bloggers (there's a lot of us out there!), we're not usually reinventing the wheel with our content. But how you present it, what you say and how you speak to your readers (both on your blog and social media)—that's what going to make you stand out. Have fun and show your personality!

Keep up with The Blog Societies' updates and events on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!