Thursday, April 30, 2015

Confessions of a Girl Boss

[Note added after post was written: This is a long one, buckle up!]

I was late to jump on the #GIRLBOSS train. I feel like everyone in my Instagram and Twitter feed was reading this book long before me. I finally bit the bullet and started reading it a week-and-a-half ago.

I'll be honest - I judged the book by its cover. By sheer appearance, Sophia reminded me of a Devil Wears Prada type, and I'm not into uppity-ness just to be uppity. I imagined the book would be full of "we are woman, hear us roar." And while I'm incredibly thankful for the women's suffrage movement, I honestly don't give much thought to the idea that I have obstacles to overcome simply because I'm a woman. I think of obstacles that I have to overcome because I'm a human, operating in a world of other insanely talented humans.

I cringe as I type that, for fear that I might offend, yet I couldn't help but giggle when Sophia addressed this exact point in her book.

"#GIRLBOSS is a feminist book, and Nasty Gal is a feminist company in the sense that I encourage you, as a girl, to be who you want and do what you want. But I'm not here calling us 'womyn' and blaming men for any of my struggles along the way. I have never once in my life thought that being a girl was something that I had to overcome... I know generations of women fought for the rights that I take for granted... I believe the best way to honor the past and future of women's rights is by getting [stuff] done."

So needless to say, by page 14, I was hardcore girl crushing and hanging on Sophia's every word. So this is why they say, "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

I couldn't stop turning the page, and the thing that usually puts me to sleep [I've never been a big reader] was now the thing that was keeping me up late at night. The woman was laying down some seriously awesome, applicable, real-world, #GIRLBOSSing advice. And I was eating it up with a spoon!

Can I confess something to you all?

I've never really had to work that hard for the things I want.

  • I was fortunate enough that school came easy to me. I would tell my mom I was going to study for a test and come back downstairs 15 minutes later saying that I was done. I am an auditory learner, so the teaching in the classroom had prepared me for the test.
  • While I wasn't the most technically-skilled jazz or tap dancer at my studio, my stage presence and confidence got me cast in roles and placed in the front line of the routine.
  • I did well on the SAT and got into the schools I applied to.

The first time that I ever had to work really hard for something was when I trained for my first half marathon last year. That's one of the reasons that the threat of a stress fracture in my foot 3 days before the race was so heartbreaking, why the answer-to-prayer good news that it wasn't a fracture and I could still run was so exhilarating, and why the victory of crossing the finish line was tear-inducing. 

I had worked my booty off to accomplish that goal, and I'd done it! I had proven to myself that I could do something I never thought I'd be able to do. It was a pretty crazy moment for me.

The thing is, once you learn how much you can do - way more than you ever thought possible - you start looking for other things to try that have scared you.

So, I started Loops & Belles

I think I've talked about this before, but I didn't know what I was doing. All I knew was I loved greeting cards and I had some ideas that I thought were pretty good. So, it was time to start working hard and pushing myself. 

I learned how to use Illustrator. I learned about printing processes and the various costs associated with ordering small (safe) vs. large (risky) quantities. 

But more than that, I found my voice. 
  • I discovered that if the presentation of my packaging is important to me then it's something to spend time and energy on. 
  • I learned how to respectfully stand up for the quality of my product and ask for things to be reprinted if it didn't match my standard. 
  • I started watching episodes of Shark Tank and reading books to learn from the successes and failures of other entrepreneurs. 
  • I started looking at my parents as resources rather than just as my support system. My dad has taught me how to use QuickBooks and my mom has been a salesperson, delivery driver, pep-talker, and "Yes, you can make the phone call to [insert retail store name here] and tell them exactly why they should carry Loops & Belles." cheerleader! (Cold calls are torture for me.

I have put myself - and my product - out there to be judged by others, and it's been the most rewarding and terrifying experience ever. 

Can I make another confession?

Being an entrepreneur is hard. 

  • It means working my full-time "day job," then coming home to work on my passion project for a few more hours in the evening. 
  • It's using my lunch break to run to retail stores and make sales calls. 
  • It means investing my extra money into building my business. 
  • It means listening to a podcast while grocery shopping.
  • It's giving up sleep to design one more card or write one more blog post... now that I'm blogging again. (I was picking sleep for a few weeks!)

And some nights... all I want to do is sit on my couch with a bowl of cereal and watch way too many episodes of Parenthood. (I'm finally on the last season.)

So, naturally, the very first page of #GIRLBOSS hit me like a ton of bricks.

I would never, ever consider myself lazy. But I had to decide what I wanted to prioritize. I still have the occasional "no work" night, but now it involves one or two episodes of TV and then early to bed. And on my work nights, I sometimes allow myself endless episodes of "Friends" on Netflix while I work at my dining room table. 

It's a balance, but I want to know that I've done every single thing I can to make this business a success... to use the gifts and talents that God has given me. 

So, this post ended up being so much longer than I'd intended. But as it turns out, I'm pretty passionate about this business I'm building, and I have a lot to say about it! 

Thank you to all of the wonderful #GIRLBOSSes who have written books, recorded podcasts, given me advice, and just been generally awesome examples of what creative entrepreneurs can accomplish.

And thank you to all of you for sticking with me through this lengthy post!

xoxo, E

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ill Prepared

I am a planner.

  • I plan for any number of outcomes to a scenario.
  • I (at times) agonize over the various ways to accomplish a project.
  • And then, I practice, practice, practice and rehearse and prepare. 

Back in the days when I had to do a speech or presentation for school, I would undoubtedly have the whole thing memorized - even if it wasn't required - simply because I would practice over and over again. (This skill came in handy during my acting days.)

Even though I'm almost always over-prepared, I still have three recurring dreams that creep in during times of stress:

1. I'm back in high school and I don't know my class schedule. The anxiety that I feel over not knowing where I'm supposed to go is paralyzing. Not to mention the fact that the "ladies in the office" are always too busy to print out another copy of my schedule for me!

2. I'm in a Shakespeare show and I don't know my lines. I frantically flip through the script backstage and try to cram as much as I can. (There's no way to ad lib Shakespeare!) I always either miss my cue to go on stage, or I stand on stage knowing it's my turn to speak, but I've got nothing.

3. I'm in high school and I have skipped one class a lot. (Basically what I actually did my senior year for a class that shall remain nameless, but let's not go there.) In the dream, I miss a very important test and have to make it up in order to graduate, but I have no idea what material will be on the test.

What's the deal with my subconscious?! Give yourself a break!

Also, it's clear my brain has zero desire to return to high school.

My first half marathon was one of those times when preparation met opportunity, and I found success!

The Oklahoma summer months were pretty brutal so I did fewer training runs for my second half marathon, and surprisingly, my time improved.

Then came winter, so I did even fewer training runs for my third half marathon.

During that time, I started a business and the winter got even colder in Oklahoma, so the training runs for my 4th half marathon were pretty much non-existent.

I mean, I ran 10 miles the weekend before the half, but prior to that, I'd only run 11 times since the new year. Erm, I was supposed to be running 4 times a week for 12 weeks.


I'm not sure I've ever been less prepared for something than I was for my half marathon this past weekend.

Yet, I'd argue it was my best half ever!!

The weather was perfect; I saw so many friends along the route; the course was enjoyable with various parks and entertainment along the way; I dominated the Walnut Street bridge (and two other hills) without feeling like I was going to pass out at the top; spectators had great signs that made me laugh; my best friend was running beside me telling stories and jokes and encouraging me with Philippians 4:13; and best of all, my Momma was at the finish line cheering!

My time was slower than all of my other halfs, but I had the most fun!

Lesson? Sometimes preparation takes all the joy out of an adventure!

(Kidding. I don't think that's the real lesson here.)

I love this quote from the "congratulations" email from our running group: "In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that." - Fred Lebow

xoxo, E

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Final Days of 26w26

Well, my birthday has come and gone... which means the end of the window to complete my 26 while 26 list.

Unlike last year's list, this one did not have a happy ending. Basically, I just didn't get it all done. And rather than be disappointed in myself - ok, I'm like 7% disappointed - I'm sitting here reflecting over all that I did accomplish in my 26th year of life!

But before I walk down memory lane, here are a few of the final updates to the list...

#2 Read an entire book in one weekend.
Over Easter, I read Lara Casey's "Make it Happen." You guys, it was a game-changer. I love her writing style and the way she is a cheerleader for the reader throughout the whole book. It is always so interesting to me to read about the struggles and successes of others and see that God really does work all things out for good - big and small. Anyway, if you haven't read "Make it Happen," I highly suggest you pick it up!

#9 Finally do a "Places I've Traveled" map.
This one didn't quite pan out the way I intended, but I'm in love with the result. I'd planned on getting a large world map for this project, but I had so many other prints that I wanted to use on the wall of my bedroom that I decided to go with this smaller U.S. map. The pins are obviously just of my domestic travels, but my mom actually found a world map that'll be perfect for this project. So, one day soon there will be an update to include my international travels as well!

And now, for the goals I didn't complete...

- Spend Time in Five New Cities. I did three. (This might be the one that bums me out the hardest.)
- Try 26 New Tastes. I did twenty, so not too bad!
- Go Bowling
- Go Kayaking
- Go to a Hockey Game
- Take a Cooking Class
- Unplug for 48 Hours (No one is surprised this one failed to happen. Man, I love Instagram!)

Here's the thing. When I made this list, I had zero idea that I'd finally take the leap to start my own business. 

So, I'm going to blame those 7 "failed" list items on the success-to-date of Loops & Belles. 

Now, the short list above is still on my list of weekend adventure ideas, but the pressure is off. That's right, there won't be a 27 while 27 list. 

However, there is quite a list of dreams and ways that I hope to see Loops & Belles grow over the next year. Speaking of which, we've expanded our social life beyond just Instagram, so if you're on Facebook and Twitter, give Loops & Belles a like and a follow

Starting this brand has been such a wonderful experience thus far, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it continues to grow and evolve.

You can bet I'll be going back through Lara Casey's book with a notepad to plan out how to stop striving for perfection and live on purpose! 


I just went back to read my post from the start of 2015. If you remember, I dubbed my word for the year to be "intention." I have truly seen a big change in myself over the last 4 months, and I'm excited to see what God has in-store for me. 

This is still my goal for 2015: I want to be intentional in my faith, intentional in my business, intentional in my relationships, and intentional in how I love, how I care for, and how I serve others. 

I'll leave you with this -- with my own personal mission statement for the year -- plus it's a teaser for a new product line for Loops & Belles. I can't wait to share more with you soon!!

xoxo, E