Professional development should be affordable.
Let me say it again for those in the back...PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE AFFORDABLE!
This is something that I believe to my core. We all deserve access to support and resources. It shouldn't be just for those who have spare cash. It seems to me that often, professional development is SO expensive it is often out of reach for those who most need the support and community.
In the creative entrepreneurial world, there are tons of options for coaching, masterminds, courses, lectures, networking events and more. I can't help but notice, however, that they come with a pretty hefty price tag. While, sure I would love to go to some glamorous networking event, that isn't necessarily something that most folks can do, even before Etsy raised their fees!
In order to help level the playing field and give everyone a chance to share, grow, and thrive, I've created a community for connection and resources with affordability in mind.
Biz Buds is a peer-driven online community that offers a positive, encouraging, and solution based environment at an affordable price that isn't going to break the bank.
You are able to choose anywhere between just 3 to 10 dollars a month, stop and start whenever you are able.
You'll have access to book club discussions, a private Facebook group, a creative entrepreneur resource library, and monthly peer chats.
If you've been wanting to do something for your business but don't want to pay an arm and a leg, I hope you'll join us! Can't wait to welcome you to the hive, biz bud!
I have a confession to make...
I own a stationery shop and I cannot remember the last time I sent out a card "just because".
There are a myriad of excuses I could make:
- I don't have time
- I'm too busy making cards for other people to send
- I had a new baby, I'm too tired
- Nobody's had a birthday recently
- I can't find my pen
- People will get it, we're all busy
- I have nothing interesting to say
The list goes on. While this is a classic example of "the cobbler's children have no shoes" I realized it was time to get out of my funk and reignite the fire for my love of greeting cards.
"But how do we do this?!?!" , you ask!
Let me tell you! Just like when you're looking at your husband's stinky socks on the floor for the 1000th time (hypothetically, strictly as an example, babe), it helps to remember about that first date, that first kiss, and all the reasons why you fell in love with your partner to begin with. So is true about the things we're passionate about.
It is all too easy to get swept up in the romance of that new hobby. Manically pinning new ideas, BUYING THE SUPPLIES, actually making something that didn't look like it came out of a bog! But as we do the hobby more, it follows that we may get tired of that hobby, and the sparkle wears off.
So has been true about my passion for greeting cards. The fire has dimmed and I need find a way to envelope myself in the warm fuzzies of letter writing that led me to starting my business! (See what I did there...)
So I lit a candle, poured a glass of wine, slipped into my softest jammies and pondered. What is it that drew me to greeting cards?
Well I'm gonna cut to the chase:
Five Reasons I fell in Love with Greeting Cards
1. They are so dang personal. There is nothing more special than writing a letter that is specifically for its intended recipient. It is a way to say, I get you, I see you, I care about you. I am a total people person who feeds off human connection like a zombie needs brains. It is such a simple, yet deeply satisfying way to connect with someone and show you care at a deeper level.
2. They are tangible. While encouraging texts are great, "hey [fire emoji] you look good today" - you'd rarely have the occasion to just stumble upon it and remember how much that message made you feel ready to seize the day! With cards, however, you might find one under a pile of papers on your desk, in a memory box, under the couch, or even in your sock drawer and be instantly tickled by the note inside. You might have even forgotten that the card existed at all, but here is living proof!
3. It captures a moment in time. Nothing gives me greater joy than reading back through the letters that I sent my parents while I was away at sleep away camp. Literally every day I would write them a letter and berate them for not writing enough, not sending water balloons and lip gloss, pelting them with guilt for their "halfhearted penmanship skills". Woo baby did I lay it on thick. While this isn't a side of myself that I necessarily admire, it does crack me up to see how much the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... (oops!) I don't remember writing those letters, but here they are, my bubbly handwriting with 100 interchanging gelly roll pens that only a pre-teen girl can achieve, for me to giggle at always.
4. HAPPY MAIL! Is there any mail that is as exciting as a hand written card?!?!? NO! Amidst catalogs, coupons, bills, and tax documents, the sweet curlings of a handwritten address on a bespoke envelope with a perfectly paired stamp brings delight that is unparalleled. Bonus points for a colorful envelope! I feel like sending out mail is a way to manifest the happiness that you hope to receive.
5. The rush of the search! Perhaps my absolute favorite part of letter writing is finding the MOST perfect card for your special person. That moment when casual browsing becomes an absolute compulsion to purchase and write a card immediately to let that person know you're thinking about them.
This rush, this twinkle that radiates down to your soul is a feeling like no other.
This, above all the other reasons listed above is what drove me to creating a stationery shop with cards to help you celebrate your special people. My greatest. hope is that you'll see a card there and think to yourself, "holy cannoli if that card ain't the exact sentiment I feel for [insert special person here], I don't know what is!"
Even just writing this is giving me all the warm fuzzy feelings. My hands are itching to rifle through my card drawer and find some kismet cards to send out the door! I'm making a promise to myself to not let life get in the way of one of my life long passions of fostering purposeful human connection.
Will you join me?
Need some inspiration?! Check out our card selection to see if you can find one that is perfect for your favorite human!
Didn't your mother ever tell you to watch out for strangers on the internet?!?!
Well I'm here to tell you to ignore that advice (in certain circumstances, obviously).
It was summer of 2020. Everything was going to hell in a hand basket. I had just started my business and I was desperate for some type of community but of course we were all stuck in our homes, sweating our tushies off, and experiencing extreme symptoms of existential dread.
As an extrovert, I was feeling especially cooped up and mopey so I decided to try to chat with other artists on Instagram.
I was immediately charmed by Emily's potty mouth humor, adorable artwork, and feminist meme curation! When I messaged her about laser printing, it was love at first unnecessary crafting purchase. We slowly started picking each other's brains about printing, website domains, Etsy stores and more.
After chatting for a bit, I finally worked up the courage to take it to the next step:
"I would love to have a coffee hang where we talk strategy/plans/dreams. Idk how comfortable you are with an outside hang, but it sure would be nice to have a creative buddy to chat with if you’re interested"
Don't fret, she did not leave me hanging, she responded with:
"Omg seriously! I think we click and I’d love to connect with you!! Trying not to be a creep, but it would be awesome to hang out."
Which is exactly my vibe. We finally had a little masked hang out and we not only talked about business stuff but also we spilled our life-guts. I don't know what it was, the breeze coming in off the water, the tickle of my mask, or her gregarious self, but we just hit it off.
I remember walking in the door on my way home and seeing a text from her saying "Did we just become best friends?!?!" and the answer was "YES!"
Thus began my adoration of creeping for friends on the internet.
And while my love for Emily is unyielding and true, I couldn't help but start reaching out to other business owners and makers that I admired. It was amazing how open people were to talking and sharing! It was so nice to connect with folks, especially those who are at a similar stage of business as you!
Eventually I asked three ladies to see if they wanted to start a little group to talk about our businesses monthly. I asked them all to reach out to one of their friends to join as well. Thus began the original Biz Bud Hive.
There are six of us and for over a year, we still meet mostly monthly to chat about our businesses, what is working well, what our sticking points are, and what the heck is going on for holiday prep. We all have areas of our business where we shine and we share that with the group. It has been such a joy to get to know these women and see their businesses flourish!
Now I know this might sound too good to be true, but I promise you too can be a creepy internet weirdo who slides into folks' DMs to make friends!
Here are my 6 simple tips for making friends on the internet:
1. Engage with their posts, don't just go in cold. Like stuff, comment stuff, try to make it more of a conversation.
2. Lead with giving, if they ask for help or feedback, try to offer some. Give a compliment. Share something that made you think of them. Show that you're not just trying to latch on to take.
3. Make the connect. Ask if they'd want to do a IG video chat or zoom call (local meetup if you're close to each other). Here is a sample:
Hey! I love seeing all the amazing ____ you create! I noticed in your stories the other day that you were working on ____ for your biz. I've been tackling the same thing. Would you want to do a video chat and brainstorm together some time?! Two heads are better than one and I know that the small biz world can feel lonely sometimes - I'd love to connect if you have the time.
4. Be bold. Most folks are looking for connection too. We're all doing this solo, so if you come at it genuinely, more often than not, people are eager to connect in some way if they are able. But be respectful if someone sets a boundary, don't push it.
5. Nurture that friendship, baby! Now that you've made the connection, keep reaching out, connecting, and sharing!
6. Let me help! If all of this sounds a little scary and outside of your comfort zone, don't worry, I've got your back! Let me take care of the networking for you!
I have created a community called Biz Buds that offers affordable professional development including access to
- Monthly business book club
- Private Facebook group where you can chat and share resources with fellow creative entrepreneurs
- Replays of Live Videos with fellow business owners
- Resource Library full of checklists, handouts, spreadsheets, and worksheets to help grow your business
- Monthly zoom chat with your fellow Biz Bud Hive members!
The best part is that it is a monthly subscription for as little as $3 and you can come and go as you need. Professional development shouldn't only be available to those who can drop $1000 at a time. We all need that connection and support, no matter our budget!
Let me help take care of the awkward networking parts, all you have to do is show up!
One of the questions I get asked most often is "what brush is that?!?!?!" So here is a roundup of my most often used watercolor brushes!
Have you ever been on vacation and seen something so beautiful that you felt like you HAD to capture it in watercolor? Instead of snapping it with a photo to paint later, watercolor is actually one of the easiest painting mediums to travel with.
The watercolor supplies are light, they aren't messy, and all the paint needs to activate is water .
Pack a to-go kit with me:
Here are the supplies I like to bring with me when we go on vacation! They are all linked using my affiliate links, but I wouldn't link something that I didn't truly love.
Supplies included are:
Watercolor Sketch Book: Hahnemühle Watercolor Book 8.5"x11"
Paints: Essee Co Watercolor Paints
Brushes: Princeton Select Round Brushes
Want more watercolor tips and tricks and my full supply list?!? Join my newsletter:
You've got big dreams that light you afire. You think about them constantly. You imagine what your life would be like if only you could (fill in your dream here).
But when it gets down to actually making it happen, you feel stuck. Whether it's a limiting belief (I could never figure out how to do that), you don't know how to get started, you're worried that it won't be perfect, or something else entirely - something is in your way.
"I don't have time for that"
"I'll wait until I feel ready"
"I'll never be that good"
"What if I can't do it"
"What if I fail"
"I wouldn't even know where to begin"
"I don't know how to do that"
Do any of these sound familiar? I know I've definitely said all of these things to myself at one time or another. Of course sometimes that big dream has barriers that are out of your control--like, I want to win a million dollars in the lotto, or If only I could go on a shopping spree at Michael's so I could have all the supplies I want. but more often than not, that barrier is something that we create within ourselves.
We need to get our of our own way so that we can actually DO THE THING!
STEP 1: Find the dream!
So the first step is to think about that dream. Imagine it - what does it feel like? What does it look like? It might help to write about it in a journal. Try writing it in present tense, as if you have already achieved that dream.
Instead of saying "one day I want to be in an art gallery", say "My art is in a gallery and as I walk into the crisp white walled exhibit, I see my art, a splash of color across the walls. I am wearing a snazzy sparkly dress and I notice all the people looking at my work! As I sip champagne at the gallery opening, I overhear someone say how it reminds them of their childhood! I am confident and passionate about each piece!" (Putting on my English teacher hat) Use descriptive words!
STEP 2: Uncover your limiting beliefs:
Now that you have your dream in mind, make a list of everything that worries you or is holding you back. For example, "How do I get my art noticed? Will I ever be able to create something good enough? How will I be able to do that while working a full time job?" etc.
STEP 3: Kick those limiting beliefs to the curb!
Now that you've figured out what you want and what is holding you back, it's time to work through it and get you on the path to making those dreams happen. Here are 5 strategies I've used to help get me past my sticking points!
(me saying "NO, GET OUTTA HERE" to the limiting beliefs)
5 Strategies to Vanquish Limiting Beliefs
Journal About it!
Sometimes just writing the words down helps me find clarity about how I'm really feeling. It allows me to document and reflect on the decision I'm trying to make. Often, while journaling, I find that I answer my own questions. Look back at the worries from Step 2 and use that as your journal prompt. Think about where that belief came from, why does it make you nervous, brainstorm what you would need to work past it. Don't sensor yourself, just write. You might be surprised where it takes you. Often when starting a new project, even if I'm not conflicted, I use this strategy to help focus my direction.
Make a Pro Con List
Just seeing two columns with a concrete data point (aka 8 pros and 3 cons) can help be a quick way to remind yourself that this is worth pursuing. Sometimes those cons can seem overwhelming, but writing it out in a list gives you an idea of the big pieces you'll need to tackle and a reminder of all the great things that come along with it to make this journey worth it!
To Do List
When getting started, sometimes taking that first step can be the hardest. At the beginning of a huge project, I like to break it down into tiny steps so that it doesn't feel overwhelming. Often once I get through that first big step, if is easier to gain momentum and energy for what's to come. It also helps you from hemming and hawing, since you know exactly what is next on the list. (Need a cute notepad for making a list?!?! Check out the notepads in our shop!)
When doing something big, it can often be hard to hold ourselves accountable. It can also feel somewhat lonely. I will often tell a buddy, or even proclaim it on the internet, so that I feel more motivation to get it done. It can help if your buddy is doing something similar. If you're wanting to tackle a new style of painting, it could help if your buddy is also interested in art. If you're wanting to make your art into a business, finding someone who does something similar would be great too. Don't have a buddy yet? Go find one! Join a local painting class, strike up a conversation with someone on Instagram who is "totally your vibe" or heck, DM me on Instagram and I'll cheer you on! I am basically a professional (verbal) cheerleader. Please don't ask for stunts though, I am woefully uncoordinated!
Make the Time
One of the biggest barriers I hear from folks is that they don't have the time. In this busy world, there is never enough time. As a mom of two, running a business, and ideally having a vague sense of a social life, I often feel like the commodity that I need the most is time. However, I am going to tell you what I learned from a very wise professor I had in my teaching program.
She said that the excuse of "I don't have enough time" is a copout. We all have the same amount of time. What we need to say instead is "that is not a priority for me". If it is something important, we will prioritize it. Do we have time to get gas or do grocery shopping, not really, but we make time because we have to do it. What if we also MADE TIME for our dreams! Your dreams are precious and worth prioritizing! Even if it's just twenty minutes a day, take a moment to carve out some dedicated time to focus on your dream. It might take a while if you have a lot of other responsibilities to juggle, but at least you have those few moments every day or even every week to JUST GET STARTED.
YOU CAN DO THIS! Follow those dreams! I'd love to hear about your big dreams over on Instagram! You can also join my (mostly) weekly Boop Troupe newsletter for all things creative! Just fill out the form below!
Nothing spells the magic of Christmas like automation, right!??! Well if you had said that to me five years ago, I would have been like no way! But this year, it has been a blessing this season.
We had already been in the habit of pre-scheduling a lot of our content when we were on parental leave for our newest little team member, so when we got around to the holidays, this was a no-brainer. We wanted to automate as much as possible, especially since our oldest (now 2.5) is old enough to sort of get what is going on.
Here are some of the things we’ve automated this season:
- Black Friday Weekend Sales
- Weekly Emails
- Most Blog Posts
- Video Tutorials
- Instagram Posts
So all we have to focus on is shipping and spending time with family. I realize this is a little too little too late, but it has been so helpful this year, that I wanted to share while it was fresh in my mind, so save it for next year and take a peek around next November first!
Here are a few things that helped me be able to have a sense of relaxation during this holiday season:
- Have your product photos ready to go, then you can just plaster those babies all over the internet!
- Have some holiday family photos or festive photos where you can share a bit about you and your family. Customers really like to see the humans behind the business, especially this time of year.
- Have all your shipping and packaging ORDERED AND READY TO GO. I cannot stress this enough. All these companies get backed up around the holidays, so do yourself a favor and make sure you have it ahead of time.
- Clean your workspace. Make sure your shipping area is clean and ready for all the orders and chaos that is about to ensue.
- Set aside days where you don’t do any work at all. Those are the moments you’ll remember, not the moments you spent trying to get that last blog post ready to share.
- Breathe! Seriously, don’t forget this one, you guys!
And that’s it! I’ll be sure to email the link to this out next November so you can start getting ready early! If you want the reminder, don’t forget to join my Biz Buds email list where I share all my latest and greatest tips! Just fill out the form below.
It’s that time of year again! We’re all geared up for holiday sales! What we often forget, however, is when to pull on the reins. When is the right time so stop selling for the holidays?!
Last year was a heck of a year for all shipping services. I sent out my Christmas cards on the 19th of December and my mom got hers in February! Yoikes! In order to avoid this as much as possible, I highly recommend setting a date where you will no longer guarantee delivery by Christmas. In general, this is a good idea to set dates for timely holidays like Mother’s Day or Easter. First, it creates urgency for your audience. Second, it lets your audience know early enough so they can prepare.
When should you cut off your shipping guarantee?
When setting a cut-off date, it is good to check your shipping carriers to see what their guidelines are. This year, we are cutting off on the 15th. This is longer than what USPS recommends, but we don’t want to take any chances.
How Do you let people know?
Once you have your date in mind, now it’s time to let everyone know. Definitely put a banner on your website. Send it out SEVERAL TIMES in your newsletter, post it on Instagram leading up to the day. Tell your most gossipy aunt! Really anywhere you can post that baby, let the people know.
But Kate! I don’t want to miss any sales!
Have no fear my friend! I’ve got you! A great way to not miss any sales is to offer gift cards that can be emailed to your customer. You can also create an image on Canva or a similar platform where you can share what is coming in the mail that the gifter can print off at home. If you have digital downloads, this is also a great time to hype these products since it is the perfect last minute gift. Additionally, you can advertise to the folks who celebrate late! A lot of people do a celebration with one family then travel to the next.
Ultimately, the best way to make customers happy and avoid angry emails or bad reviews is to make sure it is VERY UTTERLY CRYSTAL CLEAR what you can guarantee so nobody can try to pull the “well you said shipping was 3 days!!!” card. If for some reason your package still doesn't make it to the customer or arrives damaged, it is a good idea to have an idea of what you will offer in exchange. Will you replace the item? Will you give them store credit? Will you Give a 20% discount for next time?
Good luck and happy holiday season!
Want to get more great tips about how to CYA (Cover your a**) in business??!?! Sign up for my Biz Buds newsletter where I share all my greatest tips and tricks with the form below.
Let’s just start by saying as a loud child, I have never had an issue finding my voice! Just ask my poor mother! Hardy har har. But seriously, I have always been a talker and arguably an over-sharer. I did a lot of theater in my youth and never got stage fright. It wasn’t until I became a small business owner that I suddenly felt speechless.
As I was starting my business in 2020, not only was it a tough time to navigate what to say on social media as COVID-19 was disrupting everyone’s life and racial justice was at the forefront of conversation. I also was incredibly unsure of myself in my new role of artist, business owner, and mom. Talk about an identity crisis! I had a major case of impostor syndrome for one of the first times in my life. If you want to learn more about how I pushed through that, check out this blogpost.
I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself an artist. I had only started painting late 2018, so I certainly wasn’t an expert. I didn’t know my head from my butt when it came to business. Who the heck was I to yammer on about anything of substance? While this might not be recommended for everyone, I feel like after a lot of posting where I was unsure, worried, and second guessing myself, I finally sat down one night on our patio with a glass of whiskey and started writing out some Instagram posts in Later. I don’t know if it was because I was finally a bit relaxed, or if it was the whiskey (let’s be honest it was probably the whiskey) but I finally felt like I could be my silly self.
My thing was that I don’t know everything, but I’m figuring it out. I LOVE sharing tips that have helped me so that it might be easier for you. I love using idiomatic expressions that your grandmother probably uses. I use WAYYYY too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!! Once I started to figure out what my voice was, it made it easier to figure out my branding too. I found that when I posted about balancing life as a mom and a new business owner, people really related to that struggle. I started sharing more about my experience with postpartum depression, working on self care and putting aside my perfectionist tendencies. While these things may not seem aligned to a watercolor stationery business, I realized that they were aligned to me.
As I started to realize more and more what was a big part of who I am, I realized that I wanted to include that into my brand. I started off thinking that I wanted to make really fancy high end wedding stationery, but as I wrote copy for the wedding part of my website covered in peanut butter and jelly smears with my hair a mess, it just didn’t feel authentic. Instead what I found myself drawn to is creating products that make people FEEL like they have their shit together, even when they haven’t showered in a week. This revelation didn’t happen overnight. I feel like every day I am evolving closer and closer into who I am meant to be.
I felt so much pressure as I started my business to have all of this sorted out before I even began. I remember feeling a ton of anxiety as I would shift and change my direction in the early days. We were on our third logo by the time we hit the 5 month mark. But as I changed course more and more, it actually felt better. It felt better because I was getting closer and closer to where I’m meant to be.
When thinking of our word of the year for 2021, we chose grounded for our business and our home life. Staying grounded and remembering that all of this comes back to who we are as a family has been super helpful. It has helped remind me that I didn’t start this business to be someone I’m not, I am building this business to be the best version of myself.
So my homework to you? Grab a glass of whiskey and start writing! Kind of kidding, but not really. I’ve created a worksheet with some little prompts to help you get started in figuring out what you and your business are all about. Just fill out the form below to get the prompts sent right to your inbox. I hope this helps! And Cheers!
One thing I love about watercolor is that it is an art form that is super accessible. There are lots of cheap palettes and it is super easy to clean up and store! Even my toddler can get her own paints out and paint all by herself. All you need is water, paint, paper, and a brush!
Once you start diving into watercolor a bit deeper, you're going to find that the quality of supplies you use can actually make a huge difference.While quality paints and brushes are great, I would argue that the biggest X factor is the paper.
When painting with watercolor, the quality of paper is absolutely crucial. Watercolor needs a special type of paper that is both absorbent but at the same time not TOO absorbent. The mark of a good watercolor paper is that it keeps the shape of the water you put on the page and dries slow enough that you can manipulate the paint before it sets.
There are tiny ridges called "tooth" on the surface that help grip the water and keep it in place. There are two types of paper that are most often used. Cold pressed watercolor paper and hot pressed. Hot pressed is smooth (less toothy) and dries faster. Cold pressed has a deeper tooth and allows you to manipulate the water and paint a little longer. I work mostly with cold pressed watercolor paper.
I will use hot press for watercolor lettering because the smoother paper makes it easier for the brush to glide along the page, but that's pretty much it. I know people who do fine detail work also often prefer hot press, but NOT ME!
There is also rough watercolor paper which has a really toothy toothiness! I haven't worked with this hardly at all, so I'll leave the explaining to someone else for that one.
Watercolor is also distinguished by its weight. The weight speaks to the pounds per ream of paper, but in general, the larger the number, the sturdier it is going to be. Just like a 90 lb person is going to be easier to knock over than a 190 lb person (Please do not try to knock over anyone! This is a peaceful space!)
I use 140 lb cold pressed paper for things I'm going to scan. I prefer 300 lb cold pressed paper for custom portraits. The sturdier the paper (aka the higher # lb), the less buckling you’ll have. Have you ever accidentally dropped your book in the bath and all the pages start to wrinkle? (No?!?! JUST ME?!?!) Well imagine if that buckling happened to your beautiful watercolor painting you just made. That is why you want a sturdy paper.
There are ways to treat your paper so it doesn't buckle, like pre-wetting it but I'll level with you... I don't do this because I'm always too impatient to start painting. I usually use a watercolor block, which has glue around the edges to keep it from warping. You can also tape the edges down with painter's tape. If it still buckles using a block or tape, you can always flatten out your painting after you are done, but that is a blog post for another day!
Also...ever wonder how some paintings have those fancy raw edges that look like perfectly torn paper? Well that is called a deckled edge and there are rulers to help achieve that look.
I could seriously talk about paper all day long, so let me know if you want to learn more! I'd be happy to do a deeper dive! In the meantime if you want to see what paper I use, go ahead and fill out the form below and it'll get sent straight to your email!