Have you guys heard about Oh Happy Day’s new party shop? It’s pretty cool! I really love the website design – it’s all organized by color. If you are in the market for some great party supplies you should probably go check it out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the two tone balloons . They remind me of a pantone swatch – and what more would a designer like than a design themed party with pantone balloons? Nothing, obviously. Above is a photo I snapped of a baby shower I recently helped style! It was really fun to use all of the Oh Happy Day decorations! Hop on over to her blog to see a few more photos I took at the party and to look through all of her great party stuff!
I am so excited to finally announce a little side project that I have been working on for some time. Behold- Maiden Sites! My business partner Brandi and I have been working on this for quite a while and we are just about ready to LAUNCH! In preparation for our big launch later this month I thought I would share a little back story: Brandi and I have collaborated on more projects than I can remember and are officially business partners on this new venture (we even drafted up a contract with a lawyer and everything, how legit are we?! haha) BUT – we have never met in person. Strange world we are living in these days, huh!? I talk to this woman on the phone constantly, she supports and encourages me so much, now we are starting a business together and yet I have never actually been in the same room with her!
If you don’t know – Brandi and I create custom WordPress websites for creatives, small businesses, coaches, bloggers, artists… and more. We love what we do. I specialize in branding and web design while Brandi focuses on development and user experience. We seriously can’t get enough of what we do and truly believe that we bring a lot of value to the clients that we work with. Since starting to work together a couple of years ago we have had a huge increase in clientele and our prices have gone up a bit. Which is great! But we started to feel like we were pricing and timing out the people who still needed our help and expertise the most: the creative entrepreneurs who are just getting started or are working with a limited budget. Custom websites can take a while to design and develop. They can also get quite pricey. On top of that – all of the bells and whistles start to require a little bit of long term design and development assistance… That’s where Maiden Sites come in. We wanted to create beautifully designed, easy to use websites for a great price!
We know there are a lot of WordPress themes out there already – but most of them are not designed or developed very well. If they are designed well they certainly don’t cater specifically to small business owners. We realized over the years that if a business is in the right place to invest in a custom website they TOTALLY should! It is worth every penny. BUT not everyone is there yet. Some bloggers/makers/entrepreneurs just need to get there product or message out into the world and start generating revenue before they can invest in a custom site. So often the clients that came to us with little money for a custom site had the most exciting and innovative ideas or products. We desperately wanted to work with them and hated turning them away just because they didn’t have money (YET!). So we tried to find ways to cut costs by finding pre-made templates that they could easily customize. It turns out the market had a huge void in this area – so we decided to fill it ourselves!
We decided to name our new venture “Maiden” for two reasons. I like to think of a website as another employee. If designed well a website can act as a 24/7 personal assistant – almost like a loyal maiden always willing to serve! :) The name also reminds us of the term “Maiden Voyage”. We know a lot of our clients that are just getting started are embarking on a new journey, a big new chapter in their lives is starting and it can feel like an adventure. Both ideas underline the WHY behind Maiden Sites – to inspire creatives to embark on their journey and to serve them with helpful tools that will make it possible.
Our themes will be available for purchase later this month! We are hard at work putting the finishing touches on our first 3 themes. We will be adding themes quarterly from here on out to keep our inventory fresh! So if you are a creative, business owner, blogger or another designer who wants to utilize our themes please let us know what kind of functionality/design elements you are desperately in need of! We want to hear EVERYTHING! :) And follow us on our new adventure on instagram @maidensites or sign up for our free newsletter and get a special surprise in your inbox today!
When Sarah Jenks contacted me back in September I was really excited to take on her project. Her project included re-designing her personal blog – a platform for her to share her unique perspective on weight loss and what is means to be a woman AND re-designing everything for her online program: Live More Weigh Less. It was a big project including her website, cookbook, journal, promotional material etc. We worked together for several months getting everything just right and ready for her big launch.
I was excited to work on this project for two reasons. First of all I love the message that Sarah is sending about weight loss. Her program is all about loving the body you have, loving the life you have and letting our obsession with the “perfect weight” take a back seat while we breath and live a little. I’ve never had a huge struggle with my weight or had big insecurities about my body until this season of my life. Having kids has changed my body in ways that I can’t control and it’s been hard to not remember how awesome it is. I loved that while working on this project I was reminded daily to just love my body. To live. To try to take care of myself the best that I know how and at the end of the day just accept that I have done enough.
I also loved working on this project because it gave me a huge peek into a big trend that is going on right now: the “online course”. So many people are selling and promoting online courses these days and it was so great to get to work with someone who is doing it AND doing it WELL! I tackle all of my projects from a marketing and user experience point of view and I love the psychology of marketing! My biggest priority when working with clients is always to help them SELL! So – working with a client who had a few new ideas to bring to the table was really awesome!
I had such a great time working with Sarah and her team. I highly recommend her program for anyone looking for answers to their weight loss struggles. I also highly recommend checking out her site if you are interested in online marketing – I feel that the site we created together is a fantastic model of how to engage your audience, explain what you have to offer and make it really clear how they can purchase your services.
A few weekends ago Conor and I drove out to Rancho Loma. It is a cute little ranch out in west Texas. We have been talking a lot lately about simplifying our lives, homesteading, building a home, getting animals…etc. It’s our dream – one that we are fighting tooth and nail to make a reality someday… and sometimes it really does feel like we are fighting tooth and nail. It was really great to go stay on a ranch in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days and plan out how we are going to make that life a reality. But the truth is the conversations weren’t that easy. Giving up certain things you love now so you can eventually have something better later is hard.
Articulating what it is that you truly want, deep down inside of yourself is not an easy task. Henry tells me what he wants out of life all of the time, “I’m going to go to space. I’m going to take all of the bad guys to jail. I am going to have lot’s of animals and roller skate everyday.” It’s easier for him to spout off a million things in 5 minutes that he dreams of doing than it is for me to say 1 thing in 2 days. As adults we are so out of practice. We wonder if what we are dreaming of is too big… or maybe not big enough? Or maybe too selfish, or maybe too self sacrificing? and then we say things like, “YOLO!” and then we question what YOLO even really means anyway?! Then we start to think about what others will say if we fail. What will they say? What will we say to ourselves? How are we ever going to know what to do?
Here’s the trick I’ve been using for a while to help myself work through these hard decisions. I often use this when working with clients who are in the middle of making hard decisions about their businesses. Ask yourself this one question; “What kind of person do you really want to be?” When making big decisions about life, when trying to decide between 2 good things, ask yourself, “What kind of person do I really want to be?” This question makes those hard choices a little easier and those tough conversations about what we want out of life more clear. Do we want to risk it all or do we want to play it safe? Both are good. No one ever said playing it safe wasn’t smart or that risking everything never paid off. Do you want to live in California on the beach or do you want to live in Texas on a ranch? Or do you want a ranch in California? How can you make that happen? What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you need to be in order to get where you want to go? Are they the same? If not, which person wins? Do you need to change? Or do you need to change your dream?
PS We have been asking ourselves this question for the past year. It’s been one long hard conversation after another. But I think it’s worth having over and over again as you slowly work toward your ultimate goal. And here is a link to the TED talk that inspired me to ask this question. If you are having a hard time making a really hard choice WATCH IT!
There are a lot of things that went into building Jane Reaction. I went to school, I got a lot of advice from friends (Google was my best friend) and years worth of trial and error. I also read a few great books along the way that changed the way I looked at things, broke down my fear, or taught me how to make more money. Here are my top 9 favorite books that helped me get to where I am today as a creative entrepreneur. If you want to try something new, if you have a crazy idea but don’t know what to do with it, if you want to be inspired to go out there and get what you want, read these books.
9. The power of starting something stupid by Richie Norton – Stupid is the new smart. (Shameless plug – I designed the cover for this book and some of the art within it’s pages -so yay for me! haha) This book is great for anyone who has ever had a stupid idea that they thought could make them a lot of money. I love this quote the most – “If someone thinks that your ideas, or the changes you want to make, or the dreams bubbling up inside of you, are stupid, welcome to the Club.” We’re all scared, we’re all being told our ideas are silly… but it’s the people who believe in themselves, push forward and don’t look back that make the magic happen.
8. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk- Because if you are going to start anything today you need to know how to compete with all of the noise. Social media has drastically changed the way we consume, socialize, and LIVE. This book will help you understand the way different social platforms function, the psychology behind likes, shares and comments and how to throw a mean right hook.
7. Essentialism by Greg McKeown – Take a deep breath. Read this book, and get ready to let go. Let go of stuff, things, responsibility that doesn’t serve anyone, guilt, things that waste your time, activities that don’t feed your soul… Read this book – it will help you give yourself the permission to let go of things that don’t make you a better you.
6. “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” by Paul Arden – Need a quicky? Feeling a little ho hum? Read this book while waiting in line somewhere. It will give you a boost. I promise. It’s a feel good quick read. It makes you think, “Heeeey! I really do want to be good at something, therefore I am good at something. The end.”
5. Re-work by Jason Fried – This is another quick read. I loved this book because it points out where creatives fall in to the trap of thinking they need to have more money, or more followers, or better branding, or a nicer car in order to get going on something. You don’t need half the stuff you think you do in order to start a business. You just need to start.
4. 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferriss – Read the book or listen to some of the TED talk. These ideas are worth getting in your brain. Want to work less and live more? Duh, we all do. This book will help you figure out how you can do more of the living stuff and less of the stuff you don’t really like doing.
3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg – This was a great book for me when I was dealing with guilt over raising kids and pursuing a career at the same time. If you are a woman struggling with being a anything but masculine in the working world read this book. You’re not bitchy, you’re confident. You’re not greedy, you’re just looking out for you’re family’s well being. This book helped me re-think a lot of the negative characteristics our society places on successful women. I’m not a bad mom because I work. I am a better mom for showing my kids that I value hard work, that’s it’s ok to feel good about your accomplishments, and that working hard means you get to play harder!
2. Daring Greatly – by Brené Brown – Brené. You. Are. A. Genius. If you can’t read her book at least listen to her TED talks. They will change your life. I promise. I listened to the TED talks and then I read the book. And then I made my book club read the book so that I could talk about the book even more. If you’re scared, if you’re wrestling with fear, if you have ever felt shame or guilt read this book. It’s not just a good book for creatives, it’s a good book for ANYONE. I think this book specifically helped me with my business by helping me work through some of my own fears and also realizing that a lot of clients I work with have their own fear that they are bringing to the table. It’s now part of my creative process to understand what some of their fears are, what negative thinking might be holding them back from taking big risks and daring greatly – and then helping them overcome that.
1. Breaking the time barrier by Mike McDerment- ok this isn’t really a book. It’s a PDF that you can find here. It’s a quick read. It’s not over the top inspiring. It’s not going to make you feel like you can conquer the world. BUT this is HANDS DOWN the single most helpful thing I read while learning to operate a creative business. It’s so good and so valuable that I really, truly hesitated sharing it here. But here you go. Read it. After reading this you will value your time and your services twice as much as you do now – which will only make you more successful. More successful = more money. So you’re welcome, I basically just gave you a raise.
Books on my list to read next – Creative Confidence, Nicely Said, Growth Hacker Marketing and Girl Boss. Anyone want to start a book club? We could all read the same book in the same month and then discuss here?