The Textile Design Lab: My Experience

Trade Secret: The Textile Design Lab

Trade Secret: The Textile Design Lab

A lot of people know that I studied industrial design and that I've been practicing interior design for decades now. Over the last 5 years I felt the urge to get back to my roots and start designing some of my own products. It was a natural start for me to delve into the world of textile and surface pattern design. After all, I've been specifying textiles for years that I wish I could tweak and change a bit.

While I have a solid art background and a solid product design background, the idea of designing patterns in repeat and making them really good patterns was a bit elusive to me. So I started looking at the Facebook feeds of some of my illustrator friends. I stumbled upon the Textile Design Lab, run by Michelle Fifis, about 3 years ago. I suddenly felt that the knowledge was at my fingertips and didn't hesitate to join.

Just like every other online community, you get out of the Textile Design Lab what you put into it. I was a bit reluctant at first, but I started to make some connections and saw that Michelle and her talented group of moderators really want to see everyone improve. To be honest, there were fits and starts for me. I started to tell myself "no more online classes or expenses, I need to just apply myself and get better". I decided to stay for one more class, which was the Photoshop class run by Sherry London. It was a complete 180 for me and my ability to design quickly what I envisioned. I had to stay for Photoshop 2! Along the way I participated in other classes on trends, collections, portfolios, and repeats. Most offered access to trend information that is priceless. In all of them you get personal feedback from multiple moderators, typically experts in the field for which you are designing. 

I was no longer on the fence and made my membership an annual expense. I started joining the weekly art critiques, designing in the monthly challenges, and sharing my work. Last year Michelle offered a Mastermind group for renewing members of the TDL. During the few weeks of online work and sharing, I joined up with 2 other designers who wanted to continue the check-in and goal review. Rita is in Michigan and Esther is in the Netherlands. We talk once a month to check-in on our goals and offer each other guidance and support. It's great because we "see" each other and chat in the Textile Design Lab and on social media, but we have formed a great friendship though our conversations which I can see will be lifelong.

I feel like Michelle goes above and beyond to help designers whether they are learning the basics or trying to take their work to the next level. She and each one of her moderators has taken time and made the effort to make me a better designer. If you're not sure you want to make the leap and become a member, do what I did and start on a quarterly plan. Do yourself the favor of participating and making use of the resources that Michelle and the Textile Design Lab offer. I hope you find it as valuable as I do and I hope to see you there!

Michelle didn't ask me to write this review of the Textile Design Lab and I'm not being compensated in any way.

Black Friday on Monday?!

I gave myself a little gift today. I woke up with a killer headache and I was dreading the day full of appointments feeling this way. The appointments weren't client meetings, but they were all important to keep things moving forward. Before 8am I had cancelled it all. Honestly, I think they were relieved too. Especially the meeting with the electrician who is in hot demand before the holidays. Instead of overbooking myself and running myself ragged I decided it was time for a day of thinking and planning and working where it’s quiet. I’ll be able to join the conference call that I was previously going to miss and I’m able to stop and catch up with the blog and the online shop. Tonight the craziness starts with the kids’ holiday show at school. 

If you haven’t seen our 2018 Calendar yet, jump over and grab one! Give yourself a little Black Friday gift this chilly Monday too.

It's Still A Bad Week To Be A Seal

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… tonight kicks off Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. They need no publicity from me, but here I am writing about it anyway. I have to say, I’ve seen the Seal commercial dozens of times and I still laugh. I’m not going to lie, I’m tuning in to see Michael Phelps race the shark tonight. While we feel an allegiance to Michael Phelps and our friends at Octagon OAS, that’s not really why. We’re tuning in because it’s mesmerizing.

The last time I even peeked at Shark Week was several years ago when the stories started to center around Chatham. This year it feels a bit revived and fresh and I’m actually looking forward to seeing some of the programming. My hope is that there is more education and less mania about how close sharks get to shore. The end of the week show with Michael Phelps learning all about sharks first hand gives me high hopes for some creative and fascinating entertainment this week.

P.S. My money is on Phelps. 

Looking Back To Move Ahead

View of the Atlantic

View of the Atlantic

Earlier in the year I spent a great deal of time listening to the advice of others, of business professionals and podcasts and online groups. I was thinking about goals and long-term growth and I finally realized I was letting in way too much outside influence. As a Mom, it’s similar to the sort of noise you hear when you have your first baby. Everyone tells you what to do and how to do it and has no problem telling you what you’re doing wrong. Ugh. Eventually, when you get your wits about you, you tell them to go buzz off. Well, that’s what I finally had to do with the business advice, mentor groups, and podcasts. It was time to turn to my own expertise and years of experience. I started to think carefully about what brought me to art and design and why I decided to make this my profession. It began on Cape Cod, as have many important and pivotal experiences in my life.

Close up of one of the old bird houses in the yard

Close up of one of the old bird houses in the yard

Each time I walked into the Harrington’s yard past rows of beach roses and hydrangea and, of course, bird houses, it felt like I was about to discover something. The Harrington’s house was different than ours. It had (still has) a modern aesthetic and a very Scandinavian feel and ours was more traditional Cape Cod. They had telescopes for bird watching and easels in the windows, which lined up to a spectacular view of the Atlantic (see above). It wasn’t fancy, but it was special. Every few weeks there would be a new painting on the wall, sometimes a work-in-progress, that Andrea, my friend Wendy’s Mom, had painted. I was always fascinated by her work and by seeing her process. I thought it was cool that she hung unfinished work on the wall near the kitchen so she could look at it while she was busy making dinner.

 

“I thought it was cool that she hung unfinished work on the wall near the kitchen so she could look at it while she was busy making dinner.”

 

Back then, in the 70’s and 80’s, there weren’t prepared craft kits or creative toys for kids. I had that creative itch but had no idea how to scratch it until I saw what Andrea was doing. She was the busy mother of two girls and a wife (to Winty, the avid birdwatcher) and she had this amazing talent that she embraced and nurtured. When I asked questions about her artwork and the tools she was using she would always answer in her cheerful, happy voice which I can hear in my head right now. Before I knew it, I started taking art classes on Saturday at CCAD and I started to explore different mediums. I was off to the races on my own creative journey which feels like it has never slowed down. But there is no doubt in my mind that it started with Andrea and her generous spirit.

Granite stones at the leading edge of the driveway. Creativity at every turn. No wonder I loved it.

Granite stones at the leading edge of the driveway. Creativity at every turn. No wonder I loved it.

Somehow remembering Andrea’s influence and spirit was an important key to figuring out what I need to do to grow and thrive in a business focused on art and design. People 20 years my junior who have seen far less than I might know more about social media platforms, but tapping into why you’ve made certain decisions can revive your spirit and that is huge. I love the phrase “authenticity is magic”. Andrea is authentic, as is her daughter Wendy. They have always been two of my favorite people in the world because they are genuine and unassuming. As I move forward on this journey, I’m going to write Andrea a letter, but I’m also going to keep her authenticity close to my heart. Authenticity is magic and it’s that kind of magic that moves mountains when they seem insurmountable. 

Shark Art

Creative Shark Shingles, Chatham, MA

Creative Shark Shingles, Chatham, MA

Tomorrow, July 14th, is Shark Awareness Day. What do we care about sharks living in the middle of the country? Well, both Clint and I grew up in waters full of sharks. Clint in Hawaii, where he spent a great deal of time surfing, paddling, and fishing. I spent my summers in Chatham, now known to be the Summer Home of the Great White Shark. So we have that in common. When I think about the number of hours I spent sailing in Stage Harbor and Pleasant Bay (which is sort of a bay, but think Lighthouse beach and south, which opens to the Atlantic) it is a little bit eerie. I’m sure that storms and the land masses have changed since my long Chatham summers which means the waters have changed, but how much? Yikes. Swimming with the sharks. We will leave that up to the professionals and Michael Phelps, whom I’m sure has professionals on hand.

A summer tourist spot like Chatham could have met an ill-fate if the shark stories became dismal. Who would want to go? The town is charming, but how long would people stick around? Well, leave it up to the creative souls in Chatham, especially the Chatham Merchant’s Association to come up with a way to celebrate the sharks. Capitalize on it, bring people in and teach them all about the sharks. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy even has an app where you can see the sharks they are tracking. (insert photo). The Chatham Merchant’s Association, in conjunction with local artists, have an annual show on display throughout the summer where the local artists paint, design, create shark art and display it in the park. This raises a good chunk of money for the association each year which then feeds back into the community. 

Shark Art courtesy of the Chatham Merchant's Association

Shark Art courtesy of the Chatham Merchant's Association

The instant reaction to sharks is fear, especially if you’re in the water. Chatham’s Shark Art and the White Shark Conservancy are two really positive things that have come from being a Great White hang out. Kudos to my home away from home, my favorite place on the planet, Chatham, for bringing positive interaction and awareness to the sharks who share our waters. The sharks picked some really nice waters and a pretty cool town to hang out in, if I don’t say so myself. 

Atlantic Shark Conservancy App

Atlantic Shark Conservancy App

Not So Subtle Messages

We've been working hard at the studio. So hard that we haven't taken the time to update the blog for a few months. How did that happen? If you want to see what we've been up to, check out our Instagram feed for some behind the scenes images of recent work and explorations.

 

Earlier this month was my Mom's birthday (not coincidentally on Best Friends Day) and I was lucky to have dinner with my parents and my brothers and their families. I don't take that for granted. If you know my Mom, you know that she's hard to buy for and she even announced, "Please come to dinner but no gifts". I had to defy her orders because I had seen the Spoonflower blog post on making tea towels from family recipes. I've spoken before about my maternal grandmother's apple pies. She was an extraordinary baker, but also a very accomplished cook. I am still (covered in flour) trying to perfect her buttermilk biscuits and can't do it nearly as well as she did. I used my grandmother's best and most favorite recipes for my Mom's tea towels. It was a pleasure to make them for my Mom and she loved getting them.

 

What I didn't expect was my sister-in-law asking about the wrapping paper with which I wrapped the tea towels. I always use my own gift wrap now, unless it's a kids gift (getting to that...). She took one look at it and said "That's not on your web site. If it was I would buy it in a minute." That's one of those moments that lit a fire. Just a few days later I read a blog post done by art licensing consultant Maria Brophy. You can read the full post here. The gist of it is that you have to make it clear that you are selling your work and make it available for people to buy. All of this led me to make a commitment to expand our online shop and make our products and work available to everyone. I'm committing to July 25th as the absolute latest. That's a month from today. Hold me to it!

 

 

Music At Work

Add music, lower stress.

Back when I worked in a large design consultancy everything was wide open. We worked in big rooms and had lots of sunlight and collaboration. It's pretty common now for open format office space, but 15-20 years ago it was more on the innovative side. The one thing that was almost always present in the studio was music. I swear, I listened to every single version of The Girl From Ipanema during those years. Someone who sat near the stereo system (no blue tooth music in the 90's) really loved that song. Everyone generally agreed on the music but we kept it within bounds and work conducive. It made for a happy, upbeat environment. You may not be able to convince your boss or your significant other if you share a home work space, but that's what headphones are for!

Crank up the music and breathe... for some suggestions, try our work playlist on Spotify.

The Magic of Evernote

Desperate texts at the last minute... we've all gotten them and we've probably all sent them:

"Do you know what time Timmy's party is?"

"Can you tell me the paint color in my foyer? My painter mixed up the cans!"

Whatever the text or request, work, kiddos, or even our recent trip to New York, I organize it all in Evernote. Between my phone and Evernote every email, party invite, or school info sheet that comes home is always at my fingertips. It's magical. If you think you need an assistant to run your life, start with Evernote and then re-evaluate.

Part of my style of working is staying organized. While many people just use Evernote as a web clipper (and you can do that) it's got a lot more power than that. I consider it my virtual filing cabinet that is accessible from anywhere I have my phone, ipad, or a computer. I organize by notebook and use a lot of tags within notebooks should I not remember where something is filed. I have simple systems and templates set up for my basic tasks. There are a ton of great resources out there to organize Evernote so it works for you.

I'm not a paid affiliate for Evernote at all. I'm just a super happy user. You can get a free version or a paid version. It feels good to be able to answer things quickly and all of the other school Moms give me way more credit than I deserve. I keep telling them "just get Evernote"....

Organized Is Beautiful

This month is de-stress month. It's also organize your files and paperwork month. At the outset, it seems like the people who declare these things need to have a meeting. (The sheet people and the mattress people need to have one as well, but that's another post for another day.) April is the month of taxes and going through the mess you've made while you cranked through your other goals for the first quarter of the year.

Taking another perspective may help. Getting all that stuff filed, organized and put away feels great! It totally eases your stress when you take a seat in an organized space.

"There is a certain beauty to an organized space and beauty has a huge positive impact on our stress level"

I'm making an effort to get and keep my studio clean, organized, and beautiful. Studios are such personal spaces and I think that's why I'm fascinated by seeing other artist's environments. I like to see how they organize (or if they organize) and what they surround themselves with on a daily basis. Personally, I have found that the more organized I am the more I stay focused and on-task. I don't get distracted by a mess, I just make my decisions and keep moving on.

I've designed many offices over the last 20+ years. I've looked a lot at the way people work and talked to all walks of life about their ideal workplace. Organized and beautiful are two words that usually top the list of requests. Additionally, people want their spaces to reflect their personality, either through objects or images.

Over the next few weeks I'll share some of my favorite tools and tips for keeping an organized and beautiful space. Here's to a stress-free April!

 

Refresh: Top Product Picks For A Chic Desk

Now that the days are getting lovely and longer it feels like a great time to refresh. I took some time a few weeks ago to make my desk feel lighter, brighter, and more inspiring. I still have some organizing to do, but this is a great start. After 9 years in this space it’s such a great feeling. 

I've only just started to make a few changes in the studio. The coming weeks will bring even more rearranging and making our space feel fresh again. I thought I'd share a few links to some of my favorite products when refreshing your desk for spring.

1. I keep my special pens in this cookie tin from Yoku Moku. I have always love the color and the design. I got mine almost 20 years ago but the cookies inside are so good that they still sell them. Enjoy the cookies, then put the tin to good use on your desk.

My Yoku Moku box 20 years later I still love it

My Yoku Moku box 20 years later I still love it

 

2. Every desk needs a tray. We will be coming out with a line of our own trays next month, but in the meantime, pick up a great basic tray in your favorite color at West Elm.

 

3. Need a desk? You can get creative and use what you've got around the house, but I prefer to start with a nice clean and simple space. I've recommended this to our interiors clients more than once. It's a simple, well designed white desk from West Elm.

 

4. I've had an ultra comfy Aeron chair for the last 10 years, but I have my eye on one of these Eames Chairs since I used one in my design firm job. You can find one here at Hive Modern.

 

If you don't want to spring for the real deal, there are many who have knocked off this look over the years.

5. Need to stay on track? As much as I love my iphone, I still like to have a paper calendar to frame my week. We will be offering our designs on May Designs notebooks in our shop later this month. In the meantime, check out May Designs for some fun shibori designs which are a huge trend right now.

 

Looking for more inspiration? Follow our Pinterest board Atelier BC where we pin inspiring studio spaces. We will also be featuring profiles of some of our favorite work spaces and the people who work in them in the months to come.

 

 

Saying Goodbye

Dave Smith at the helm with Deane Richardson on the water in Castine, Maine

Dave Smith at the helm with Deane Richardson on the water in Castine, Maine

Dave Smith passed away on February 25th. He and his business partner, Deane Richardson, have been largely influential in our lives and our decision to open our business. We were lucky enough to call Dave our friend. Our love and thoughts are with his family and his wife, Elaine, and their close friends Deane and Sandra Richardson. We are better for having known him. From his published obituary:

He was the one to guide, cheer on, just listen, and always push folks beyond their expectations. A firm believer in finding and following one's passions, he challenged all to "Look for your place in the world. Not everybody finds it, but it's out there. Go find it!" Forever Humble. Forever Passionate. Forever Generous. Forever Encouraging. Forever Inspiring. Forever Smiling. Forever Living in the hearts of those he touched.

Dr. Seuss's Birthday

My 1970 Copy of Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

My 1970 Copy of Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

Today is Read Across America Day. Books are one of my favorite things and I consider them one of the ultimate luxuries. Think about it. Books require space and care and owning stacks of them implies the luxury of time to read each word and pour over the pictures. I’ll admit that I’m a now a kindle reader for anything that isn’t image based. When it comes to inspiring images I want to see the color on the page and have the joy of flipping through the pages as my heart desires. I got this book thing from my Mom, and I’m thankful to her for it. She has given my brothers and me books for our entire lives. 

In fact, she just pulled out a box of my books from the 1970’s and sent them to me. Guess what I found? None other than a first edition of Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!”. Here is a photo of some of the other treasures that were the start of my love affair with reading and books.

Check out the beautiful illustrations in The Laughing Dragon by Kenneth Mahood. The color is just amazing considering this book was printed 47 years ago.

These will all surely be kept. My kids find it amusing that I have kept some of the same books that they are now reading. Hopefully I can pass these treasures along to them someday. Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss, and Happy Reading everyone!

Just One Thing: My NYFW Pick

When I was in graduate school at Pratt we would take advantage of the City all of the great museums and art that surrounded us daily. Sometimes class would be held at the museum and other times we would discuss an exhibit back in class. One of my favorite instructors always asked the class, “If you could bring home with you one piece from that exhibit what would it be and why?”

"If you could bring home

with you one piece,

what would it be and why?"

We knew we could never take any of the art home which made it fun. We had to choose one thing and describe to the class why we loved it. I was always fascinated at what other people in the class selected. After a while I started to try to guess what they would pick based on what I knew about them. Honestly, it really helped me understand people in a new and fascinating way.

As I was looking at the amazing images from NYFW I started to think about what I would bring home (yes, technically you can take this home if you have the dollars and the access. It’s not in the permanent collection of a major museum… but the exercise is fun, so stick with me). Let’s say practicality and expense are no object in this exercise. What would you pick?

I love all things black, and it has taken me a few days to write this post because I really wanted to jump at this Zac Posen dress that is so dark navy that at first glimpse it looks like it might be black. It is simply stunning.

Zac Posen Fall 2017 RTW(Image via Vogue, courtesy of Zac Posen)

Zac Posen Fall 2017 RTW(Image via Vogue, courtesy of Zac Posen)

 

Ultimately, the one thing that won my heart couldn't be further from my go-to black. It's this show-stopping dress from Badgley Mischka.

Badgley Mischka Fall 2017 RTW, Photo: Umberto Fratini / Indigital.tv

Badgley Mischka Fall 2017 RTW, Photo: Umberto Fratini / Indigital.tv

The subtle timeless glamour of this dress is amazing. We see a trend towards all things that gleam and have a bit of sparkle, especially when it's not flat out obvious. In this case, the floral motif glows. The detail and finish of this dress make it a work of art. I'll take that one please! It was a tough decision this time...

What would your "one thing" be from NYFW Fall 2017?

Book Review: Together is Better by Simon Sinek

February is the month of love. Love is really about connecting with people in all different situations. I found this sweet little gem of a book that nicely sums up why connecting with others and working together is better than working alone. While it’s technically a business book, I look at it as a “life book". If you’re anything like me, you take a stack of work home at night with the best intentions and then life happens and you carry it back to work, nearly untouched, the next morning. Sound familiar? It’s time to leave the stack of work on your desk. Make an emotional disconnect from the day and go do something fun with the team at home.

My friend Trisha uses guided meditations on her iPhone. She told me she gets to school 15 minutes before pick up time and uses the time to go through a meditation. The time helps her to decompress from the stresses of work and make an easy transition to home. Being home is one thing, but actually being present with your family is another. Your direct and present attention is the greatest gift you can give to those you love. Pick up a copy of Together is Better and apply some of the principles of this little “business" book to an evening with your family. It’s a short month— only 28 days. Give it a try. 

#NYFW Fall 2017 Runway Trend Watch

The start of the NYFW Pinterest Board

The start of the NYFW Pinterest Board

Fashion week is one of my favorite times of the year. Especially in February. It’s a visual treat smack dab in the middle of winter. I love fashion. Who doesn’t want to wear some of those editorial masterpieces? Of course I’m now the mom of two little ones living in Ohio. Editorial masterpieces are not part of my repertoire.

Fashion and art tend to be the originators of trends that filter through our lives. I always follow fashion to better understand what we will see in textiles and home down the line. There is so much to see and some of the collections are so different that it can be overwhelming. I have found a few easy ways to pare it all down. I like to use Pinterest because it’s so easy to use and there are many images already pinned for easy reference.

Vogue.com and HEED are two great resources to see images of the shows and the street style surrounding the shows. I start there. Everything that appeals to me or has a feature that I like I pin it to my main board. I go through all of the collections the same way and go with my gut.

I'll take that dress....

I'll take that dress....

After the shows I spend the following few weeks studying the images I’ve pinned and looking for common threads. I pull out those images and define each trend more clearly. I assign colors, print style, and reference images found elsewhere. For each trend I compile what we refer to as the “Tone of Voice” but which is more commonly known as a mood board. As I develop my collections I keep my tone of voice board nearby and refer back to it frequently. I like to make sure my collection stays true to my original vision. When it comes to colors, I allow myself some leeway. What people are willing to wear for an evening or for a season can be very different from the textiles and objects they will choose to live with for years.

Many trend services will see the same trend and name it differently or have a slightly different take on it, however, I look at this as feedback that I’m on the right track. My favorite trends to develop into collections and products are usually the ones that are less common and you can bet those will come back even stronger the next season.  To see what we’re following this fashion week check out our Pinterest Board, NYFW Feb 2017/ Fall 2017

Another Perspective

Today is backwards day. Random but true. In line with seeing with a fresh set of eyes, we thought we’d talk about looking at things backwards. Or upside down for that matter.

Have you ever tried drawing while looking in a mirror? Try it. Take something you see frequently and turn it upside down. Really look at it. Flip it around. Try to draw it from memory. Backwards is just another perspective. Take yourself outside of yourself and see what things look like from a new point of view. 

Line of Sight

What do you look at everyday? Really, what is in your line of sight while you work? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In keeping with how I want to feel and seeing with a fresh set of eyes, I am taking time to look around a bit more at what I live with, especially while I work. I’m not staring at a computer screen all day. My work keeps me moving and in and out a lot. What’s around me effects my mood and my presence of mind. I’ve made a conscious decision to keep things close to eye level that inspire me. While I’m thinking about changing the office design (I’m going to have to make time for that) here is what I see daily.

Photos of my grandparents. All four of my grandparents worked. In fact, my aunt used to say that if my grandmother had gone to college she probably would have been a CEO. They were hard workers and inspirational people. I was lucky to have all of my grandparents through my college years and many beyond. These pictures make me happy.

New York City. A painting of a New York City Scene. Art and the City. Two highly inspirational subjects for me so they go front and center.

 

What I’m not showing? Pictures of our family. My artwork from when I was a kid. You get the idea. The things I love will find a new home when I redesign. It’s important that the things that inspire me are in my work space. I spend a lot of time here and I want to be my best for those hours of the day. I want to make new art and create new products which takes inspiration and energy. You need enthusiasm about where you work and what you’re working on. What’s in your line of sight?

We have designed wallpaper and digital calendars for each month of 2017 to help you keep your visual space feeling inspired and authentic. If you would like to download your copy, please sign up for our newsletter and we will send you a download link now and for each month this year. We want to be a part of your everyday! 

Hard Light

Photoshop has a blend mode called “hard light”. In undergrad when we were drawing and painting each day we discussed hard light. Literally, a blast of illumination on the subject at hand. Yikes. (Those were some brave nude models). However, seeing with fresh eyes requires shining a bit of hard light.

I’ve been an interior designer for over 25 years now with always at least one active project going on. Over the last few years I’ve gravitated to my industrial design background and my love for surface pattern design to start to work on a line of products for interiors as well. That’s now coming to life, but the interiors work is a consistent part of our business. Designers see a lot. We’ve seen offices that are straight out of the 50’s and homes that haven’t been updated (at all) since the 70’s. I used to wonder why people left things they way they did for so long and then I realized that we just stop seeing things that become part of our daily routine. We just accept the status quo. 

"I realized that we just stop seeing things that become part of our daily routine."

One of our corporate clients, who happen to be great people that we really enjoy, called us to help them with their lobby. This is a company that is part of a large conglomerate and one that deals with multi-national corporations that are household names. When we were initially contacted we had never heard of them. We had to look up what they did. On our first visit we found out what prompted the call. Apparently most of the employees used a different entrance, a back entrance, on a daily basis and rarely went through the lobby. That winter it had snowed so much that they couldn’t use their usual entrance. The CEO and the controller both walked through the lobby from the front door for the first time in years. They were instantly aware of the problem. They saw that it hadn’t been updated in about 30 years. They greeted clients here daily but merely opened the door and invited them in to the office. That snowy day they had fresh eyes and realized that they had been bringing multi-national CEO’s and executives they were trying to close deals with through a lobby that looked like it belonged to a company that had long since closed down. Hard light and fresh eyes make for great changes. 

What’s the elephant in the room? What could use a dose of hard light in your life? I’m thinking that it’s time to rework our office. When we proceed, I’ll share the process and pictures as we go. 

Seeing With Fresh Eyes

With the turn of a page our perspective changes. The mere flip from December to January and remembering to end our year with a “7” instead of a “6” but somehow it helps us to see with fresh eyes. We take stock of the year past (if we’re smart) and we start to look forward to all of the hope the new year brings.

2016 was a little bit different for me. I started to tune in to how I wanted to feel versus the numbers of what I want to achieve. Sure, it’s important to have numbers. I know the exact number of pounds I’d like to lose and how much money we need to make. Believe me, I know. Instead of writing the usual list and staring at it while the weeks ticked by I used a different system to start thinking about my year. (Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map). While it’s a little bit new-agy in certain ways, it helped me get that fresh set of eyes I needed. It’s a whole system and I’m not here to plug it or write a review, but I will tell that it has changed how I have started approaching my goals, both work and personal.

I tapped into how I wanted to feel on a daily basis and stayed tuned into those feelings. For example, I wanted to be stronger and more fit (and lose weight) so for the first six months I kept writing that this aspect wasn’t clicking. I kept naming it and calling it out instead of sweeping it under the rug until another January rolled around. After a few dud trainers I finally found the gym I’ve been looking for since I moved here 14 years ago. They’ve only been open a little over a year, but I found them. And I can honestly say that I’m stronger, fitter and closer to my "number goal". By 35 pounds! I honestly believe that keeping the feeling of being strong and fit at the front of my mind made a difference in me taking action.

I also found that a surroundings refresh helped too. Switching up the artwork, changing the organizational stuff that wasn’t working, and making small daily changes helped me to change the way I think and what I do. Little stuff like getting a little dish that I found pretty and using it for vitamins on my nightstand. Moving the pillows. Changing my phone case. This way the change is outside of me and seeing it reminds me of the way I want to feel and what I want to move towards. When I’m in touch with how I want to feel, my days weeks and months suddenly add up to something great.

What do you do to stay tuned-in to how you want to feel and how you want your life to work? Reach out and let us know what you do to see with fresh eyes. Happy 2017!

What Is Everyone Else Ignoring?

What is everyone else ignoring? Clint sent me an email from a fine art website that posed this question. As we constantly try to keep speed with the unimaginable overload that is technology and social media I find myself asking the same question. When trying to decide where we want to be from a marketing standpoint I wonder: "What is everyone else ignoring?". Each other, it turns out.  In addition, a lot of great opportunities.

We are a small business in every sense of the word. We don't have a giant staff of junior designers and interns to delegate to when it comes to social media tasks. We could if we so desired, but is a part-time or freelance employee really the best person to be the face of my business? In addition, we find that while it's important to be present and accounted for on the main platforms, we also feel that it's important to develop relationships, serve our clients, and find unusual ways of becoming known to the right people.

We are creative. If we use our creativity to our advantage instead of using it as a calling card that says "I can't sell myself or figure out technology" we'd be a lot better off. I know there is a stereotype that creative people can't run a business and it's true that there are a bunch of vultures out there capitalizing on our insecurities. A monthly subscription to your "business therapy club"? No, thanks. Do all creative people look freaked out when people start talking about business? I don't think so and I highly doubt I'm alone on this one. If creating a club, making an e-course, and selling white-papers is your thing, jump on the bandwagon.

I try to be aware of what's out there and the small bit that I've "dipped my foot in the pool" has been horrifying. I talked to one company that clearly had multiple systems (CMS) in place to follow-up, send emails at the right time, and act as though they had a personal touch. I even got a call from the guy pictured on the web site (yeah, right) who left a message telling me that my SEO would be a lot better if I had a blog on my website. Hello? Is this thing on? I had to call him back and tell him that if he had done his research (one more click) or really cared about Bova Creative he would have seen that we DO have a blog. It's just not called "BLOG" in bright red letters. I don't care if calling it blog and making it red would get me an extra 250 visitors a month. More than likely they aren't the right 250 visitors. While I might have listened to him if he hadn't had misinformation, his system failed. I dismissed his pitch out of hand. Why? He is ignoring the obvious, the people behind the web sites and the Facebook accounts. He is not the only one. We've totally lost touch in this world.

So the initial question... what is everyone else ignoring? We are ignoring each other. We prefer to learn more about you, your company, how you operate and how we can help you make what you do genuinely better. We want to make products that matter and things that you want to keep and collect. If our audience grows it's going to be because we've done the basic marketing things right and we operate with authenticity. I can't imagine doing it any other way.