As a budget conscious and fairly aesthetic person, wedding planning has been a bit nerve wracking. I really can't see spending a lot of money, but I'd rather do nothing than do something half-assed or tacky (which of course, is in the eye of the beholder.) I've been super lucky, and got my dress as a sample, a veil for half price, $30 dollar wedding shoes, and found out that an "elopement package" for flowers is really quite inexpensive.Read More
I'm engaged! My lovely fiancé (that's so weird) asked me to marry him in Beacon Hill park, in the rain, with ducks for an audience. It was lovely and I'm still on Cloud 9. I can't imagine a better life partner. He's intelligent, reasonable, fair, caring, devoted and thoughtful. He's the kind of person animals like. He's just goodness personified (without being nauseating, you know the type). Solidly kind. I'm looking forward to being his wife, and us supporting each other through launching and progressing careers and whatever else life throws at us.Read More
In May I attended my first conference ever - Social Media Camp. It's hosted in Victoria every year, so I got to stay in my hometown, which was super convenient. There were a ton of great speakers with extremely interesting and industry relevant talks. I was also curious about conference scene. What would it be like?
Fortunately, the week of the conference, I developed what I thought was strep throat (my boyfriend's tonsils were green the week earlier - a fair assumption) which turned into the nastiest cold of my life. As an introvert, I was already terrified to attend something where "mix and mingle" was written into the schedule of events (along with a dreaded karaoke night), but having to blow my nose constantly, consume Halls cough drops like they were candy, and intermittently breaking into a head-to-toe sweat from being ill, really rounded off the conference experience. Being the most disgusting you can be really doesn't instil confidence in oneself and handshaking just seemed mean. (Hand sanitizer was applied liberally.) Thankfully I met a companion at my least gross stage during the first day, so it was nice to have someone to discuss (commiserate on?) the day's events with. Still, it was a LONG three days.
My take aways from the conference experience: Be prepared for the worst. Pack kleenex, every possible cold remedy on hand (you don't want to be that person coughing during the recording), and a ton of snacks. I really underestimated the importance of food - but 9 hours is a long time to go on the greasy chicken sandwich that was only marginally appetizing at lunch. Depending on the area you are - you might not really have access to food. The conference centre is a really neat building attached to the historic Empress Hotel (so amazing!) but there really aren't a lot of places to dash in to get a snack (hence our venture to People's Drug Mart for a sawdust like Lara Bar and apple juice). Attending sessions, as enthralling or boring as they may be, feels a lot like attending a lecture at university and can be super tiring, especially on day 3. I was definitely not one of the ones at the after party.
Anyways, here's the relevant part you probably wanted to read about. While I sat trying not to blow my nose, I took 9 pages of notes. Here are some of the main takeaways...
Content is King
You need to educate your audience. You need to give them something valuable to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. If you're looking to grow your business - get yourself out there and create something that can be shared on social networks or downloaded by prospective clients.
Use Social Media to Recruit
You need to establish your company's identity before hiring. What is the culture? Are your employees happy? They are your "brand ambassadors" and what they say about your workplace, casually to their friends, or formally to someone inquiring, can have long reaching effects. People will remember the praises sung by happy employees and might look to your company when unhappy at their current job.
Create a Brand Story
Who are you and what are your brand's values? These should seep into every level of your business. You should ask yourself "does that align with our values?" each time you make a decision. (This also helps with the above section) By having an emotional mission statement (that's the best way I can describe this) you can weave stories that people care about in your marketing. For example, if you were a life coach and your mission statement was "Helping People Realize Their Dreams" (okay a bit cheesy) you could showcase your customer's experiences in a series of blog posts, tracking their journey that started with your services.
The speaker discussed creating the campaign for the ugly sweater party/run etc. in Vancouver. It was a very impressive presentation. Thinking outside the box, being fun, putting together something larger than life that will capture people's interests are all great strategies.
I have a passion for social media, so I'm sure I'll be discussing it more in future posts.
Have you ever been to a conference? What was your experience?
I'm sitting here early on a Saturday morning, wrapped in a blanket, in pyjamas, listening to Lana Del Rey crooning on, (guilty pleasure), the birds chirp madly outside. Last night's makeup is smudged unceremoniously around my face, my hair is sticking up, and I don't smell very good ...and that's okay.
Whenever I think about working on my website or writing blog posts, I think of sitting down at my computer in a meticulously clean space, hair done, tasteful outfit on, (possibly a few lbs thinner), a gorgeous teacup by my side filled with beautiful tea from Murchies.
Maybe it's because it's a passion project - I feel there should be some ceremony around it. It's my chance to do something for myself. Some people go get a pedicure - I work on my website. This line of thinking leads to a lot of procrastination. How can it ever be perfect enough? How can I be perfect enough to work on it? Perfectionism rears its ugly and unproductive head.
It could be due to Blogabiodysphoria (maybe all those medical terminology class weren't in vain? ) Blog - bio (life) dysphoria - (dissatisfaction). It's a principle that fairly established in the blog reading world when people only output the beautiful things in life - the perfectly staged vignettes, smiling children, amazing artwork... It's hard not to feel envious and start comparing your hectic, un-entrepreneurial existence. Sometimes an especially long session on Instagram is enough to want to pack up, move to America, become a housewife and have three kids in a house that costs less than a bachelor suite.
Despairing aside - as a designer - I love the perfectly staged vignettes. It appeals to my sense of order and aesthetic. In a busy, utilitarian world, it's nice to have a bit of fantasy. You clean for house guests, why wouldn't you spruce things up for a blog post about your office? It shows a pride in your work to put your best foot forward. If you're a fashion blog - you're going to showcase your cutest outfit. A craft blog? I bet your step by steps are going to be nicely photographed. There's nothing wrong with that. It's also nice to be human, don't get me wrong. (Did I not start this post out talking about being in pjs with bedhead?)
Your best foot can be a bit of pressure, especially when you're designing for yourself. What is my best foot? I think I've had at least three completely different logos, colour schemes and two different Wordpress themes as a basis for this blog. As this project dragged on throughout the (I'm sad to say it) years ... it expanded and more aspects would be added. It's become a bit of a monster, so I'm taking a leaf out of Nike's book and employing the "Just do it" slogan.
What if it's not finished? What if I add a section in later? If I wait until I'm entirely happy, I don't think Teacups & Spectacles will ever exist... and I'm enjoying writing this post. I'm looking forward to see how it develops and grows - and you can't micromanage that. So occasionally I'll be typing with my nails painted a pretty colour, or will be having an exceptionally good eyebrow day with an uncluttered desk. But the stars don't need to align to get to work. Hack away at your projects - it's not as glamorous, but it's so much more satisfying.
There's a great podcast I've been listening to: Sarah R Bagley - a recovering perfectionist's guide to living a B+ life. If you find yourself nodding while reading this post, this podcast is for you!
Thanks for reading,
Whenever you start a new venture, you hit roadblocks and problems. Because it’s new, you have the added frustration of not knowing how to navigate through these problems (or if you did, they wouldn’t be problems.) That’s what I’ve been running into the last while. I can identify the problems, but I’m not sure just how to tackle them. I’ve made progress in some these areas, through a lot of trial and error. My advice: Nothing is ever as straightforward as you’d expect, so budget time so you feel like you’ve experimented enough to get a good product.
The makings of a card: things to consider when wanting to put your artwork onto stationery
Problem – How to colour the card illustrations?
Yup, they look great in person. Unfortunately I can’t go around showing everyone my sketchbook. How can I get these images scanned/cleaned up/photographed so they look as good as real life? How am I going to colour them? In Photoshop? Recreate them as Vectors? Pencil Crayon? Watercolour? Marker? Which shows the drawings off best?
Problem – How to get the cards printed?
So, once I’ve figured out problem #1, and the images look great… how do I keep them looking great? Should I print them out on my home printer (quality? cost? ink?) or go to a private printer? What will the quality look like? How much will it cost? What’s the minimum quantity like? Will I have boxes of cards piled up to the ceiling… all of the same variety that no one was interested in in the first place? Yikes!
Problem – How to make cards available?
Online: What’s the shipping cost? How many hours at the post office? Perhaps an online download/print their own? What if they’re printer is terrible, and they give a terrible version of my artwork to someone. Can perfectionist me get past this?
Craft sales: Is this the right audience? Or will I get put between to the fake floral arrangements and the tole painted Canada Goose planters? (which, erm, are of course lovely!)
Local Shops: How to make a profit? Would they purchase the cards or would I only make what sells? Would it be more prestige and less profit?
As you can see, I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers just yet. Once I do, I’ll let you know.
When I created this website, I wanted a fresh start. A new platform (a blog post is coming about that), a new name, a new look. However, when I was putting the last finishing touches on the current site, I felt a pang of sadness. I was more of a dabbling blogger for the few years I was active, but I still had created content that took some effort, and it was sad to throw it away. So, I decided to import all of my old content into this website as kind of an Archive.
A bit of history
Initially I created a blog on blogger called "Blue Anchor Crafts". In between my history degree and starting my Medical Office Assistant training, I knitted like mad, creating 50+ dolls and selling them to family, friends and acquaintances. I attended a craft fair and sold
a few of my wares. (Last year a donated quite a few of the dolls I had made to a children's charity for christmas.)
Blue Anchor was also my first foray into graphic design and web design. The blog
contained simple graphics, I used Picnik (now Picmonkey) to edit my photos, and
used image mapping to make my links (definitely not responsive!!). It makes me cringe
a little now, but it's the same as looking back at an old sketch book. You need to try to make mistakes and learn.
Design Disaster Management
So, I've tried to clean up some of the content - deleting the worst of the cringe-worthy DIY designed collages etc. There are remaining photos that are a little over-filtered. I seemed to have a love of coloured rounded borders that mystifies me all these years later. (I couldn't help it - I cropped those out where I could!) The photos imported a bit smaller than I'd like, but I think it's worth keeping the posts around, even if they're not perfect.
A lot of the posts from that time are Tuesday Treasures - curated, usually themed lists of goods from Etsy sellers, prefaced with a brief update. It's been kind of fun to read back over the posts as I've been cleaning them up, seeing which year had a cold rainy summer, or remembering my life in the midst of MOA training and how overwhelming that was. Being a bit of a perfectionist, it's healthy for me to include where I've come from, not just where I'm going. I'm sure as my skills evolve, I will always feel slightly contemptuous to what I've created. I'm going to consciously guard against this.
Anyways, that's the history of the archives on this blog. I hope to keep creating fresh content!
Well, here we are. It’s been quite a journey, even though this blog has barely started. I decided to start blogging a few years ago on a craft blog, sharing knitted dolls that I made. As time passed, I realized that knitting 24/7 wasn’t good for me (or my wrists) so I decided to take a small step back from the “crafting scene” and back to my roots— drawing.
I also finished a Web Development and Digital Media course and started a job as a Graphic Designer. I needed to create a space where I could share what I’m working on, with enough space to grow into whatever these hobbies become. Okay, maybe not hobbies, but until they’re successful and developed, I cringe at calling them business ventures.
I’ve tried attacking this “business” problem from all angles over the last year. I’m going to use this space to document my journey. The internet is disproportionally full of successful entrepreneurs, but there’s not a lot of content on HOW these people got to where they are. I have no illusions that Teacups & Spectacles will morph into a huge successful stationery company… or sell thousands of knitting patterns, but I’d like to see where it will take me. I tend to be a non-risk taker in general (I’m definitely not the girl you’d see sky diving or living on the wild side– minus the tattoos, but they’re pretty) so it’ll be good for me to take the chance.
So, this blog will be a record of this exciting and aggravating time in my life. It will follow ups, downs and in-betweens. I’ll share whatever knowledge I gain from trying to get into the illustration/stationery biz, as well as the exciting world of Web Design and if knitting patterns really sell. It’s exciting to start fresh- new name, new space, new ventures. Thanks for joining me!
Etsy Love - Vintage and Handmade Admiration
I'm a little bit Etsy obsessed, so to make me feel better about perusing the site when I probably should be exercising (shhh), I'll share collections of vintage and handmade items from the site from time to time. Click on the pictures to go to the listing (I'll list them below as well) If you're in love - hopefully you'll make it in time to snap it up!
As you probably can tell, I'm a vintage style glasses admirer. I remember buying my first pair of "out there" frames a few years ago. A brand new pair of pink translucent cat's eyes glasses from Clearly Contacts. I remember thinking they were almost too crazy for work! Bold eyewear is definitely more acceptable (encouraged?) now, which is super fun. I've enjoyed some of my less expensive pairs from Clearly Contacts (seriously - if you don't know, a pair of glasses can be $40.00 with lenses!! It's not as much of a commitment when they're so cheap, which was always the terrifying part when you're shelling out hundreds of dollars for frames at the optometrist.) I've added some sweet 1960's frames (like the guys on Mad Men wear) and a pair of tortoise shell cats eyes to my collection - which probably total to one pair from a shop.
I've always wanted a pair of vintage glasses. I purchased an inexpensive pair off Etsy a few years back, but they were almost child sized and severely cats eyed (almost vertical!) so I can't help but laughing whenever I try them on. One day I'm going to purchase a real pair of flattering vintage frames. The quality of things back then were fantastic, and the glasses were definitely more intricate and ornate. I enjoy the history behind wearing something from the midcentury era... something someone actually did or could have worn.