Yikes, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted a blog update! I’ve been so focused on building my newsletter that I’ve put the blog on the backburner (it’s hard to do lots of different things well, I’ve found). But I did want to pop in and let readers know about something very cool I’m organizing.
I’ve been thinking lately how people can make a splash with their brand: how do you get your ideas out there into the world? We know how big companies do it (with huge marketing budgets and staffs of people). But what about solopreneurs, Etsy shop owners, fabric designers, and other creative types? You’ve got ideas too!
That’s why I’m organizing a “telesummit”: Expand Your Influence: A Virtual Conference on Turning Big Ideas into Brand Extensions (March 19 – 23) is an interview series all about brand extensions—larger projects like books, eBooks, videos, and TV shows that help you get your big idea out there into the world. It’s going to be energetic and insightful, and totally multidisciplinary (from sports psychology to fabric design!). Speakers range from designer and author Amy Butler to TV show host and designer Angelo Surmelis to self-publishing guru Peter Bowerman, and a whole lot more, like a literary agent (who specializes in craft books), a business coach, and business owners/bloggers who leveraged their brand/blog to write books and sell fantastic branded products. You’ll not only come away from this interview series inspired to create something amazing, you’ll also learn practical tips for marketing your brand extension. How do you listen? Well, it couldn’t be easier, because it’s free. And it only requires signing up. You can listen live, completely free (calls are at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. EST each day). Register here. Share this link with anyone you’ve ever heard say they have a big idea.Oh, and I almost forgot: Amy Butler (who you are definitely going to want to hear from) is also offering a book giveaway when you sign up! (Details are on the sign-up page)
So, I’m obviously not doing this because I heart technology (did you read my newsletter last week?). So, what’s the deal? First, I am a geek and I want to study some things, publicly: how the splash happens (what Malcolm Gladwell calls “the tipping point”), what remarkability has to do with it (what Seth Godin calls “the purple cow”), and why starting with “why” always matters (Simon Sinek). But it’s not just about great thinkers I admire. It’s about action. And learning from others’ actions. (I sort of want to take over the world, so there are a few things to learn.)
It’s also a chance to interview superbly cool and extremely brilliant people who are doing inspiring, revolutionary, and/or intriguing things with their brand extensions. Basically, I love the flow of a good conversation. I want to do backstrokes in it. I used to only get to interview cool people when I was writing an article for someone else. Now, I’m doing it for me—and definitely for you.
So sign up, right here!
My sister-in-law, Bobbie Jo, took this picture. Isn't she amazing?
Thanks to everyone who put up with my incessant Twitter posts about my Sew Retro Facebook “like” contest (I was trying to get up 300 people in the last week of August to give away a free book). I made it—340! The last 50 came last night after my writer friend, Kris Bordessa (thanks, Kris!) posted something on Attainable Sustainable’s page (you can also check out their site here—it’s pretty great).
The winner is Rachel Heiser, who I emailed through Facebook to let her know that she won. Congrats, Rachel!
It’s sort of obnoxious to ask people to “like” your page over and over again—I know this. But I set it as a challenge because I’ve been in a mini-funk these last few weeks, as I get ready for the next phase of my copywriting business. My coach, Darla LeDoux, is always taking about the power of setting an intention: specifically, when you state something clearly and boldly (without all of the qualifying language, like “well, maybe I might . . .” or “I mean, I might try . . .”), that energy becomes real and that thing becomes real and you find a way to make it happen.
I believe this, but I often don’t remember it. So, my little Facebook contest (“I WILL get 300 fans by August 31st!”) was one of a series of intention exercises for me.
Of course, you should have a purpose behind your intentions. So, for this one, my purpose is to share Sew Retro with readers, because I think it’s a fun book and I love the idea of people having a place to connect and comment on the book, or to comment on their own history of sewing. It goes to my larger mission of helping people connect through stories, which is what my copywriting business is about.
Intentions also help you stay on track. When I was struggling to get to my 300 fans, I clicked around on some other sewing Facebook pages. I saw, for example, Amy Butler’s page had more than 12,000 “likes!” I mean, she is fabulous. Of course 12,000+ people like her on Facebook. But why don’t they like me? What’s wrong with me? And so begins the spiraling-down/comparison thinking. But, because I had set a specific intention, I could remind myself: I set an intention to get 300 likes, not 12,000. I set an intention to move from A to B, not A to W.
Putting an intention out there in the universe also gets good mojo on your side. People—random people or people you know—help you get there. For example, my friend Kris posting something is what got me those last 10 likes I needed (plus 40 more). I don’t even know Kris that well; we’ve met at writers' conferences. She doesn’t have any ulterior motive, other than just helping another writer because she can relate. It’s just about an energy exchange. That happens all of the time—if you just let it (and aren’t suspicious of it).
I think intention-setting can be a very powerful tool for anyone—whether you’re setting intentions around your parenting skills, your fabric business, your fitness, or just about anything. But—and this is important--your intentions can’t be vague, half-believed, or unstated.
For example, I have an income goal for this year, and I started to freak out that I wouldn’t reach it because I’ve been slow for a few weeks. So instead of being stressed and just saying things like “I need to be busier,” I added everything up that I’ve made (or is contracted) this year, and came up with the specific amount (literally, to the dollar) that I need to make for the remainder of the year. I wrote it down, said it aloud, and shared it with my accountability group. Most importantly, I believe it.
Do you have an intention for yourself or your business? Set one today!
First, don’t forget to tell your friends to head over to the Sew Retro Facebook page and click “Like.” As I posted about earlier this week, if I reach 300 fans by end of August, I’ll pick a fan at random and send them a signed copy of Sew Retro. I have 65 more to go as of this post!
Anyway . . . I don’t know about you, but after a crazy busy summer (and, thankfully, a more relaxing August), I’m ready to start the fall off with a bang. I’m ready to sew and make school clothes for Max (I just ordered the Asher Shirt from Sew Sweet Patterns and it’s moved to the top of my list!), leggings for Georgia’s chubby baby legs, Halloween costumes, and holiday gifts! I’m ready to find the coolest, most interesting new clients who love what they do as much as I love what I do. I’m ready to turn off the air conditioning, fill the containers up with mums, and let the first frost kill all of the mosquitoes. I’m ready for whatever is next!
Part of figuring out what’s next is seeing what everyone else is doing. On that note, have you seen Kickstarter.com? A friend just told me about it last week and I checked it out. The concept is fantastic: creative-types propose projects in various areas, from fashion to film-making to baking (and a lot else) and people can pledge money to fund their projects.
I could spend all day looking at the projects. But of course, I went to the fashion ones first. One that caught my eye is a proposal for a sewing pattern line by Christine Haynes (she wrote Chic & Simple Sewing, which I don’t have yet, but is on my list for sure!) Very impressed with her designs & passion! There are a lot more sewing ones, so check it out. (I plan to do some more browsing and make a pledge to some project by the end of the month!). There are so many great ideas! I absolutely love these Jessica Swift patterned rain boots.
Oh, and there’s a literary magazine about pies: PIECRUST Magazine. How great is that! It’s successfully funded, but still worth watching the video (check out the Amy Butler fabric apron). I could list project after project. But here’s the bottom line: People are inspiring. They are so creative and ambitious, and that thread of creativity and ambition is always there, out there, ready for you to grab it. We think it has to "come" to us, to drop in from the sky because the planets are aligned. But in reality, you just have to grab it and go. And then just start. I hope you have been sufficiently inspired. Who’s ready for a great fall?
Something awesome is going on with old plates, beat-up brass candlesticks, and orphan glassware. My sister, Laura, and I made this observation at my little neighborhood art fair last month, where I snagged this unbelievably cool birdbath made from old glassware ($35! The woman who made it could have charged at least double that I’m sure). It’s very sturdy (the base is buried into the dirt a few inches), and weathers well, as long as I bring it in before the first frost.
But we saw lots of cool examples of repurposed china that day, and I’ve seen them circulating around, too. I’d seen the idea for making a 3-tiered cake stand from vintage china on Readymade’s back page a few months ago, and showed it to Laura. She and I started collecting plates, candlesticks, parfait glasses, and shot glasses. Since Monday was a holiday and we needed something fun to do, we decided to give it a try. I searched around to figure out what type of glue to use, and found lots more inspiration, like this video from Threadbanger, this idea from The Mother Huddle (how amazing is that one she rubbed with glaze?), and these beauties from Wondering Chopsticks.
Basically, you just glue your layers together in whatever way makes the most sense. I didn’t bother with finding the exact center of the plate: I just eyeballed it. Some of the blogs talk about using Gorilla Glue or E6000. I used Loctite Epoxy 5-minute glue (bought it at Lowe’s). It consists of both a hardener and a resin, and you squeeze equal parts into a little mixing container and stir. It’s not hard at all. It dries really quickly, and it dries clear. So even if a little drips down inside your candlestick, it’s no big deal.
However, I just finished a story for a women’s magazine all about chemicals, and let me tell you what, I learned some scary, scary stuff. Resins and hardeners are seriously toxic (the label is pretty clear about that). They are full of nasty, nasty chemicals (think about what it takes to make something gel-like harden and permanently bond in 5 minutes or less). So definitely work outside (if you can), wear gloves, don’t breathe it in at all, and let the finished project off-gas outside for as long as you can.
Anyway, I made a 3-tiered piece and Laura just did a single layer, because her plate was so darn pretty, she wanted to showcase it as is.
I’m ready to go scavenge more plates and candlesticks and give some of these puppies as gifts!
You can make this. Cool, huh? Yesterday, my husband and I took the kids the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. We've never been with the kids, and I don't think I've been in at least 10 years. It was sort of rainy, but it actually turned out pretty nice (kept the crowds away). So, not only did we get to see elephants and tigers and snakes and giraffes and flamingos and a bunch of other awesome animals, we also got to stroll through the Zoo's beautiful gardens. This piece in one of the "green garden" areas caught my eye because it's made entirely from trash! Who knew trash could be so lovely? Here are a few animal shots just because they're cute. I can't believe they let that one with the orange striped shirt and umbrella out of its cage. It's quite wild.
I've been glancing at various blogs and Facebook posts about Quilt Market, held this past week in Salt Lake City. But I can't wait to dig in tomorrow and read a bunch of wrap ups and see inspiring pictures. I'm debating going to Houston for the fall market to cover it. I really want to see what all the hubbub is about firsthand, but I have to figure out if it makes any business sense go to.As for what's up on this blog next, I've got two Q&As in the works, both with fabulous giveaways. Also, you can check out an interview I did with Stephanie over at 365 Days of Sewing. She'll also be giving away a copy of Sew Retro. It should be up in a few weeks. I've barely sewn anything in the last month or so because of other deadlines, but I'm working on something for Quilts & More, and I've got a bunch of summer projects it the pipeline (my own designs, and bunches from the many books on my sewing shelf).Here's to a productive week!
I do my share of venting (whining), but I also like to celebrate the stuff I’m excited about. Here is what is jazzing me up this Friday morning.
1. After slogging through a few weeks of sickness, everyone is finally healthy again. The runny noses are (almost) gone. I was the last to get the awful cold from hell, and I think I am almost over it (even though the cough remains). Yay for good health! (Even if it only lasts a week.)
2. I’ll be talking about Sew Retro next week at the 9th Annual Books & Brunch event here in Cincinnati, put on by the Cincinnati Assistance League, an organization that raises money for causes that are dear to me, like underprivileged kids and domestic violence survivors. It’s Thursday, April 28th at 10 a.m. (you can still sign up!). Sew Retro will be for sale (thanks to The Bookshelf bookstore) and I'll be signing copies. I’m so honored to be in the company of three other inspiring authors, including Sharon Draper. 3. Speaking of awesome events, my business coach is organizing a virtual retreat next week (you participate live for FREE, or can get the audios and listen at your convenience) called Rewire Your Wealth. She’s got all kinds of amazing experts to guide you through realizing your entrepreneurial dreams. If you are an entrepreneur, or want to be an entrepreneur (that includes you, fabulous Etsy shop owners), definitely check it out! 4. I’ve got my eye on a couple of new books. First is Signature Styles: 20 Stitchers Craft Their Look, which I read about on Bari J’s blog (she's one of the stitchers featured.) Doesn't this cover look delicious? The other is Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child, from Meg McElwee (due out in June). If you haven't been following Meg's story of her second child (just born a few months ago with a heart defect), you definitely should. It's a wonderful (and uplifting) story, and I'm so happy that little Lachlan is doing so well. Let me just pause for a minute to say that not even a craft book industry in crazy flux can keep a crafter down. Yes, the publishing industry pretty much stinks right now as the future of what publishing will look like confounds almost everyone, and sure advances are pitiful (unless you are a celeb), and yes, most of the promotional responsibility falls on the author. But it doesn’t matter. We soldier on and publish these beautiful, beautiful books anyway!5. I got a gorgeous stack of fabrics in the mail yesterday for a project I’m doing for Quilts & More magazine. Granted, I’m only using a few of the pieces, but just seeing them all spread out on my work table makes me feel giddy. It’s that great moment before you decide on your fabrics and you let yourself just play with the possibilities.
6. The Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market is only a month away! This is the best show for awesome vintage finds (including vintage fabric and textiles) in this part of the country. It’s been written up in Country Living and Martha Stewart Living. Just get yourself there!
7. Today is the day I am cleaning my office (also my sewing space). It is bad. I mean bad. This picture doesn't even do justice to its current state of badness (that's because mostly it was taken so Max could show off the new haircut he had to come upstairs to tell me about). The last time I really cleaned this room where I spend 8 (or more) hours every weekday (and some weekends) was . . . um, before Georgia was born? Seriously.
8. I’m lining up the next batch of Q&A/giveaways. I hope to do some great ones this summer, so stay tuned!
Oh, and have a lovely Easter!
I recently visited The Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum of Art for a magazine assignment. Even though they are both in my backyard, I hadn’t been to either in quite some time.
What’s interesting about visiting art museums is that the pieces you’re drawn to always reflect what’s going on in your life. I’m pretty sure I’ve never really been drawn to all those gorgeous pictures of mothers with children, but this time, their energy practically reached out and grabbed me the minute I walked into the gallery.
See what I mean? That's Mary Cassatt's "Mother & Child" (1889).
And then there are these from Potthurst (can't remember the first name) from 1915 ("Playmates" and "Brother and Sister.") The second one reminds me so much of Max & Georgia, I want to cry.
I also love this one, mostly for its name "Patty-cake." It's from the 1850s, and I think the artist is Spencer (again, no first name; I was jotting down furiously!)
This one, a sculpture by Harriet Frishmuth, just made me happy. That silhouette is amazing. I think it speaks to the former gymnast in me.
And this massive beauty (Alexander Calder, “Twenty Leaves on an Apple,” 1946) is what I imagine the inside of my brain looks like sometimes, little chirps of color swirling around. And I want to marry that aqua blue background.
It was the same story at the Taft Museum (if you are ever in Cincinnati, don’t miss this one—it’s wonderfully quaint, and they have a Rembrandt, one of only two in Ohio I believe!)
This first one is "Sewing School at Katwijk" (1881), by a Dutch artist I forgot to write down (I mean, of course I'm going to spot the sewing one, right?) Sorry about the glare.
And then I saw these two. The first one is by Jean-Francois Millet (man, she looks tired--I have been there) and I just snapped the second one and didn't write anything down.
So, now I'm feeling inspired (and very maternal!). I sometimes forget that looking at art is a great way to get the creative juices stirred up. I'll leave you with this, the stunning Chihuly chandelier that hangs inside the entrance to the Cincinnati Art Museum.