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    The Burden of Optimism, Imposter Syndrome and Trying to Make Everyone Happy

    In other words, a recipe for disaster.

    Cutting our custom work has been the hardest decision I've had to make as a business owner since starting Lionheart in 2013. But we had to do it. We had to say no so we could start saying yes to what matters most.

    It's been such an honor creating custom wedding invitations, hand-lettered logos and social stationery over the years. I have truly loved starting from scratch with a client, beginning with their Pinterest board to get inside their head and interpreting all their inspiration into a perfectly paired paper product.

    That being said, when we do custom work, we go all out. We go hard. We go ham. Or whatever the kids are saying these days.

    When I design a hand-lettered invitation suite for you, it's completely custom tailored to your special event. There are no albums from which to order, no pre-set price list. No stock graphics or font libraries. You're getting 100% hand-drawn lettering and illustrations executed on specialty printing methods and carefully selected paper stock–– all within your budget. Just putting an estimate together is no small task, it can take a couple hours to calculate the costs from various vendors, printing methods and paper quality. If something minor changes, like say, the client wants to go up an envelope size or change quantity the snowball effect of recalculating everything and problem solving to make it work will make your head spin. But we try not to show that! Because they don't want to know the struggle! Like a waiter during dinner rush, I have to effortlessly multitask with a smile.

    When clients come to me for their custom design, they are paying for not only my love, attention and expertise, they are also paying for the opportunity cost of the products I am not spending time developing for our wholesale & retail line.

    In August of last year, we tried limiting custom projects to just two per month. Sounds simple enough! I could totally take care of two weddings plus design other new products, teach a workshop or two, and, I dunno, run a business and have a life.

    Ha! LOLOLOLOL. Nope. I was wrong.

    What always seemed to happen was I would meet with a Client A, and in the time from our initial consultation to when we would begin the design process, Client B would contact us with an urgent project, and not having heard back from Client A yet, we accept the job and start the work. Lo and behold, Client A follows up and we’re already getting a deposit to begin work from Client C.

    That two per month thing was cute. Idealism is a bitch sometimes.

    Client A felt like they were on the back burner. I felt rushed by Client B’s deadline, and Client C is wondering why it’s taking so long for me to get their stuff completed. Meanwhile, I wasn't doing any of the other things that moved the business forward.

    I soon learned that you can do it all, but you can't do it all very well.

    It got to the point where I was pulled in too many different directions and none of them were my own. The whole reason I started this business was to spread as much joy as possible. I wanted to make funny and empowering hand-lettered messages that made you laugh and made feel like a damn champion, or at the very least, made you feel understood.

    That's the thing about our business. At the end of the day, every greeting card that sits on a shelf makes its way into the hands of a recipient, who feels loved, encouraged and appreciated. We are literally in the business of spreading good vibes.

    Come October, I looked around the shop and I had only created TWO new designs for our line, and about a dozen custom wedding invitations, some with hundreds of hand-addressed envelopes and userped all my creative energy. It made me sad. I spread myself too thin to trying make a very small amount of people happy.

    Not to mention, the amount of time I poured into each project was never going to sustain the business financially. I spent hours upon of hours on minutia to satisfy my designnerd pride, but would never see the light of day outside of this small, select group of recipients. Now, that being said, each unique project tested my design limits and I learned new tricks on every piece. For that progress, I am incredibly grateful.

    Meanwhile, customers and retailers wondered if I was ever going to come out with something new, and surely must have been saying "wtf is she even doing with her time anyway?" (at least this is how my anxiety projected it). When I finally did have a moment to design something new, it felt very rushed, like a cop out, and I was not proud of the work at all.

    By December, I was flooded with custom projects. Every product I wanted to be developing seemed to be slipping further and further away. I said yes to everyone except for myself and our company's goals.

    Something had to change.

    No more custom. I would complete the last ten projects I already committed to and that would be it. No more. Sayonara. Bye, Felicia.

    As my dear friend Madeline Ellis of Mimosa Handcrafted so eloquently put it, the feeling of “creative constipation” was so real. I was aching to make the things that would drive our company forward and couldn’t stand it any longer.

    It’s really tough saying no to nice people who write you emails sharing their story and you think, “Of course! I can totally knock that out in no time and be on my merry way making awesome things for all the people to enjoy.” And then you find yourself obsessively redrawing the selected quote from Shakespeare for their baby’s new nursery before hand-drawing it onto the custom marbled canvas that she totally did not even ask of you to do but OF COURSE YOU HAD TO, nothing but the best for this little baby who will not even appreciate the level of detail until she’s older, and who knows if this won’t even be in the garbage can by then?!

    But you gotta be like Elsa and let that shit go.

    Let it Go, Elsa

    Here are some gifs that have helped me out along the way:

    "My comedy festival is coming up and we would love for you to design the poster, we don't have a design budget, but it'll be great exposure."

    Nope, No, No, No

    "Can you hand-letter all my grandkids scrapbooks for me?"

    Minions No

    "My multi-million dollar software company is mildly interested in a rebranding, *hands over his business card* why don't you send me a few logo designs to get started and I'll see if we want to use you." 

    "We love all your witty cards, can you make a custom card for our company with a brilliant tagline? We'll need like 20."

     

    All this so when it comes to messages the world needs to hear most, I can be like:

    Amy Poehler Yes

    With love and gratitude,

    You’re Going to Flip When You See What We Nabbed at AmericasMart

    You’re Going to Flip When You See What We Nabbed at AmericasMart

    In my interview for the job, I asked Liz what she was looking for in an employee. She said she wanted someone she could click with, someone she wouldn’t hate road tripping with.

    I didn’t think we’d have the chance to put that to the test so soon.

    The day I started my new role as Sales Manager of Lionheart Prints, I got a text from Liz.

    “Would you want to go to Atlanta with me?”


    I’m not one to say no to an adventure.

    We packed our carry-ons and caught a flight to Atlanta that Wednesday where I got a crash course in my new role.

    It was a crazy 36 hour whirlwind. There are no words to describe AmericasMart Atlanta. You just have to see it with your own eyes.

    Imagine three towering skyscrapers, all connected with catwalks, each building housing floor after floor of showrooms, filled to the brim with wholesale products to sell.

    Hundreds of thousands of buyers circle the showroom like sharks, sniffing out the latest trends and the best deals like they were born for it.

    It was overwhelming to say the least, but Liz confidently maneuvered from showroom to showroom, bumping into old friends and acquaintances (literally, those showrooms are tightly packed) and teaching me the tricks of the trade along the way.

    The highlight of the whole experience, and the real reason we were there, was buying for the Lionheart retail shop.

    Y’all. We bought some really exciting new stuff that we’ve been itching to show off.

    Liz has been stocking ban.do in the store for a while, but it was my first time experiencing the cuteness that is this brand.


    Liz and I fell in love with these precious phone chargers, and we couldn’t pass up the gel pens, duh.

     


     

    Just in time for festival season, we got a ton of new Tattly! The scented flowers smell amazing, and I want to cover my entire body with these little cacti.

     

     

    Of course, we restocked on all your favorites from the Shine Project and got some new items as well.

    The Shine Project employs inner city youth to hand make jewelry. All profits go toward funding scholarships for first-generation college students. All glittery, all for a good cause.

     

     

    Neon signs aren’t just for bars anymore! These are a little over a foot tall, and if you can’t think of at least ten ways to style these in your home, you need to think again.

    I didn’t want to mention all my favorites, because the list would be too long. But it was very cool to have a hand in hand-selecting gorgeous merchandise for the store alongside Liz. When you come into the store or shop online, we want you to have the most fun experience possible.

    So comment and let us know if you dig what we picked out! Or swing by and let us know in person. We’re open 10 to 6 Monday through Saturday, and our online shop is open 24/7, obviously.

    Mardi Gras Lagniappe – Free Download

    Mardi Gras Lagniappe – Free Download

    To celebrate the official start of Carnival Season, here’s a free wallpaper download! Feel free to use as your lock screen, or share as you please!

    everywhere else it's just Tuesday

     

    If you’d like a print one off for yourself, use this file:

    everywhere else it's just Tuesday mobile

     

    Now, go eat some King Cake and get your revelry on!

    For My Dad

    For My Dad

    I was eleven and a half years old when I met my father. He had no idea about me either, but as soon as he found out he couldn’t wait to be a part of my life. My mom kept my father’s identity a secret for reasons I understand now that I’m an adult. But I always felt strange growing up in a family that looked so different than all my peers’ nuclear units.

     

    It will never escape me that he had a choice. He could have walked away and continued on the life he had planned. But he didn’t. He wanted to be my dad as much as I needed a father. He lived a couple hours away and would drive down for every recital, every ceremony, or just to get a coke at a drive-in.

    Wait– it gets better. He had been dating a woman for several years at that point. They knew they wanted to marry each other one day, but were taking their time and enjoying the ride. Can you imagine bringing home news like this to your steady? He was prepared for her to leave him and he was ready to accept that in order to be part of my life– without either of them having met me yet. He drove the two hours back home, delivered the news, and (understandably) needed to rest. When he woke up, she had made a lovely dinner complete with a dozen roses, my picture in a frame and some “it’s a girl!” balloons. She said she already loved me because I was his.

    The best part about the whole thing was my mom’s side of the family was pretty estranged (and we knew about each other all along); they lived all over the country and never saw it as a priority to get together but maybe a half-dozen times throughout my childhood. But, when I met my dad, all of a sudden it felt like I had a real family– like in my home state, who like wanted to spend time together. Crazy, right?! I got to feel what family gatherings should have been like all along. Plenty of warmth, love and joy to go around. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. It was like Christmas morning got Christmas morninged. Does that make sense?

    childhood collage

    He took me on a big grand tour to meet all my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were living nearby the whole time without even knowing it. Finally, I knew why I was tall, had thick hair, a sharp tongue, loud voice, artistic sensibilities, stick-to-it-iveness, blue-green eyes and ginger hair.

    Before meeting him, I would see someone in the grocery store and wonder “is that my dad?”

    For the record, that’s a pretty weird thought for a little kid to have on a regular basis.

    The point is, everything changed for me after that day. I got to fill in generations’ worth of blanks, finally understanding more wholly who I am and where I came from– and most importantly, what it means to be a family. The funny thing is that my mom was treated like a black sheep for having a child on her own out of wedlock, and the two of us were shunned for that. The family that could have turned a blind eye at a bastard child welcomed both my mom and I with open arms, hearts and minds. For that, I will always be grateful.

    family photos

    And I got to go from being an only child to a single mother, to (eventually) the oldest of four. I am a very proud big sister.

    Thanks for letting me share this with you.

    Savvy Style for Easter Seals of Louisana

    Savvy Style for Easter Seals of Louisana

    When it comes to fashion, the only thing better than feeling awesome is finding a great piece for a good price. For me, bargain hunting is not just an expression, it’s a skillset. So, when I was asked to be a style judge for the upcoming Sealed in Style Gala for Easter Seals of Louisiana, the game was on.

    liz modeling

     

    Along with fellow style mavens, Juley (Upperlyne) and Tiffany (Flying Fox + Bats on Strings), we were sent on a mission to find an outfit for the event at The Shops at Canal Place. (I know, SUPER difficult, right?) Nevertheless, I was determined to get the most bang for my buck.

     

    I am all about jacket game. Chic blazers, badass moto jackets, the perfect chambray, you name it, I covet. So, when I stopped into BCBGMAXAZRIA I made a bee-line for the clearance rack and saw this beauty. I always start at the sale items, because you never know what people have passed up before you. Also, being in New Orleans, our seasons are way off the retail schedule, so pieces from summer are getting discounted to make room for fall, while we’re still glistening in the heat. No worries. As far as basics go, just pay attention to the hues and fabrics. There’s usually something wonderful just waiting to be discovered that can totally be rocked all year round.

     

    hands folded

    Such was the case with this delicious dusty pink blazer. Y’all, it was love at first sight. The linen is nice and light, perfect for our warmish Southern “fall” and “winter” (if that’s what you can call it). The color, although light, has muddy undertones that pair nicely with warm colors. AND it was half off. I was not mad at all.

    I did splurge on this fantastic black pencil skirt, because I’d been on the hunt for the perfect one for quite some time. Lo and behold, I found her. Classic in structure, contemporary in the details and kind to my curves, this bandage skirt had to come home with me. Since adding this staple to my wardrobe, I’ve paired it with button-down blouses and my favorite v-neck t-shirts alike. An investment piece that I will get a lot of mileage out of for sure.

    liz with starbucks

    This is my totally normal way of drinking coffee. Promise.

    Oh, and can we talk about these shoes real quick? Ok. Scored these nude suede Coach pumps with with faux matte alligator suede details and killer geometry (no pain with the right angles, ladies) for ONE PENNY. It’s true. They were brand new, I just happened to find them at a DSW close to a mall with high end shops– which is apparently key. (psst– it was the one in Houston by the Galleria!) They were marked down 75% off from their original price and by using a couple of coupons they had sent previously they rang up to $0.01. It’s my greatest shopping triumph yet.

    mignon faget jewelry

     

    My first visit to New Orleans, I saw a billboard for Mignon Faget‘s Hive collection and immediately fell in love. I’m a sucker for organic geometry, so getting to sparkle in the iconic collection inspired by beehives was straight out of my Crescent City fairy tale. I love the feel of a statement bracelet, so I opted to wear the Hive Wide Cuff and paired it with the Double Row Ring for a little extra bling. When it comes to jewelry, I like minimalism and consistency. Since I went with such a bold piece on my arm, I chose more demure pieces for the rest of the ensemble. The Hive Dangle Earrings and Hive Stations Chain Necklace suited perfectly. Last but not least, I fashioned the Hive Brooch into a barrette with a couple bobby pins.

    liz with hairpin

     

    I’m so looking forward to the Sealed in Style Gala on Saturday, November 1st  8pm -11pm at The Shops At Canal Place. All proceeds benefit Easter Seals Louisiana’s disability services, more on that here. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll be judging the Style Contest, so come dressed to impress. One lucky attendee will receive a prize package worth $500 from The Shops At Canal Place! Mark your calendar and enjoy the open bar, dancing, food, silent auction, photo line and music.  Tickets are on sale now!

    Check out my Pinterest board for styles I would love to see. (Bonus points for bargain bragging rights!)

    liz blazer

    Special thanks to Mignon Faget Ltd and Ashley Bel Photography for the photos, and the The Shops at Canal Place for the shopping spree!

    love liz