Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FALL SALE!! (I haven't done one of these in a long time)

The fall weather has finally made its way to the desert. I've had 3 cups of hot chocolate over the past few days to celebrate!

To welcome my favorite season, I am offering a 30% off SALE on all floral crowns, veils, headpieces and everything else in the shop! Use the code "HELLOFALL" at checkout.

This has been the biggest discount I've given and it expires Saturday (10/4) so don't wait because many items are limited.

Visit the shop for more pieces to get your hands on!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

We are having a baby GIRL!!!

A baby GIRL will be gracing our lives this coming Spring!

A few days ago, we went in for an ultrasound to "confirm" the gender of our second little love. With our closest family and friends around us, we were all so excited when we were told that the tiny baby growing inside of me is a GIRL! I cried tears of joy and so did many others...which made me cry even more (hello hormones).

Honestly, I thought I'd have all boys. I grew up with 3 brothers (now 5 including my step brothers) and with our first child being our crazy man Levi, I thought I was destined to live with boys my entire life! Deep down, I wanted a little girl though and God said yes! So thankful!

Levi on the other hand, knew he was having a sister all along. Every time I asked him what mommy was having, he said "girl." That kid has instincts!!

So in love with my little family and I can't wait to meet our little love in March! She will make our nest a home of four.

See more of our family photo shoot by Kayla V here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

|Happy Fall| Photo Shoot Featuring a New Headband and Cozy Fall Essentials by Laila's Charming Pieces

Happy Fall

Yesterday, I spent the evening playing "photographer" behind the camera. It's something that I don't often do but it's another love of mine. My truly amazing friend's Crystal and Tara joined me on a little adventure in the dessert as we scouted for some glorious lighting to showcase a new headband I just created for LSP. I also photographed some cozy fall pieces created by Tara of Laila's Charming Pieces.

Inspired by the Art Deco and 1920's era, this classic tie-back headband has just been added to the shop. I'm in love with the beaded details in this piece! Wear it with your favorite fall wardrobe choices or elegant nights out. Get it in the shop here.


This season has brought much more productivity not only for me but for my talented friend Tara of Laila's Charming Pieces as well. She has been working so hard lately getting new fall essentials made for her shop and the upcoming Penelope Lane Boutique which is on September 27!! She seriously makes me even more excited for the cooler season ahead with her warm and comforting adornments.

Here is a teeny tiny sneak peek of some of her new crochet pieces which will be available soon and THANK YOU to my gorgeous friend, Crystal for modeling!!

What are some of your favorite fall essentials??
Mine are definitely boots, scarves and statement rings. Bring on the cooler weather!

Photography Credit: Love Sparkle Pretty
Crochet Scarves and Ear Warmer: Laila's Charming Pieces
Model: Crystal of She Does

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An EXCITING Announcement!!!!!!

& then there were 4 in our nest...
Another little baby love will be arriving this Spring!

We are so excited to finally announce that our little family is growing and our little man is going to be a big brother! I am now just about 14 weeks along with our due date at the end of March 2015.

We recently took our family photos by the seriously talented photographer, Kayla Von Der Heide of Kayla V Photography. We had quite a bit of fun during this shoot. We only had one melt down and one attempted run away in the desert by little man but that's of the norm. Levi kept playing with the nest and calling the eggs his "babies". He'd walk up and share a "baby" with each of us but then needed all four eggs back in the nest. He was cracking us up!

Here's just a glimpse of the photo shoot with my little family that I love dearly and am so incredibly grateful for.

So excited for this new chapter in our lives! Each time I ask Levi if mommy is having a boy or a girl, he always says, "girl." We will find out next week if he really is having a little sister or if he's having a baby brother. Either way, this little sibling is in for a crazy ride with it's energetic, spunky older brother and mommy and daddy will be preparing for more random gray hairs, yet more love to share unconditionally and another little soul to cherish wholly.

Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Shop has REOPENED + New Logo + Blog/Website Design

The shop has REOPENED! 

Since Monday morning, I've reopened the Etsy Shop after a month and a half long shop vacay. During this time, I was catching up on orders, reevaluating plans and creating new ones, making a few design changes and resting while spending much needed time with my family.
You can read about a few things I've reflected on and learned here and here in previous posts.

I've also been making some new design changes to the website and blog (logo, headers, colors, etc). As far as navigation goes, I'm trying to make it easier to look through different blog posts by subject-since I'm a momma, wife, shop owner, creative, etc....I share quite a bit of different topics so you can now go through my TABS at the top and see different drop down menus to browse by. I'm still categorizing posts but many of them are complete so you can ponder and read away! Let me know what you think too and if it's pretty accessible.

I hope you adore the new look as much as I do, I wanted a clean, elegant yet clean looking logo and space to share my little world. Now, it's time to create new labels, tags and business cards! 

Photography Credit: Kristen Booth
Model: Julie Story She's an amazing graphic designer for photographers!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

{Small Biz} Hiring, My Brand is a Reflection, North Stars and Priorities. Part II

Back in July, I attended a Marketing for Crafters Workshop with Tara Swiger in the CreativeLive studios. We went over a heck of a lot of info that really got me thinking about how to apply it to my own small business. This is Part II of what I've learned these past couple months as I reflect.

See Part I here covering, I don't want to be a corporation, valuing my time and pricing.
See my trip to the CreativeLive Studios in San Francisco here.

I have a different view point of hiring. I have hired a few times temporarily and I thought that the only task I can hire for is to help me create pieces to catch up on current orders. After having a difficult time giving up so much control (or at least feeling like it), I realized that there are so many other tasks that can be delegated to make life just a bit easier without giving up a large portion of design aspect such as packaging, shipping, organizing, etc.

It's a bit nerve-wrecking for me if somebody else is creating something that I have to stand behind. I felt like I was giving up so much control and I've realized that as far as design and creating pieces goes, I need to keep myself in this process wholly. I will always have my own techniques and certain ways of doing things from years of experience and it seems a bit difficult to teach these (I also learned I'm not a great teacher of my work either). I'm so used to doing something a certain way-that most of the time, I don't notice that I do those things until somebody else is doing it differently.
Hiring can be a huge weight off someone's shoulders and it is if you pour the time into teaching someone who is really passionate about the work as you are. If you are looking to grow your business, hiring is also a large factor in doing so but for me, as far as production goes anyway, I've come to terms that I want to be behind each piece that goes out, I need to be. If you read Part I, you would see that I don't want to be a corporation anyway so I don't need too many hands creating LSP pieces (contrary to what others may think). I just may have to increase turn around time and that's OK.

My brand is a reflection of myself. Trying to be or copy anybody else's brand and what they do to market, etc. is not only being untrue to your customers but also to yourself. Find what works for you and do just that. This does not mean however, if your business fails or something doesn't work that you are a failure. It's easy to tie ourselves to our work in this way and beat ourselves up over missteps. What this does mean is that you created your brand to serve you-not copy somebody else's work and style. People can tell when you aren't being genuine.
What aesthetic do you like? What type of customers do you want to attract? What words do you use to describe your pieces? When it comes to marketing, what message is most important to you to convey? These are some questions that are important to answer to build your brand.

Just because you want the numbers or sales like someone else doesn't mean you have to act as a chameleon and blend in with their brand and style. Even if you did exactly what another brand did to market and sell, both businesses would still be completely different when it comes to numbers, sales, etc. So, you and I need to be true to our own work and creativity.

What is my North Star? It took me a while to understand this question when Tara Swiger first asked this of us. It totally made more sense when she asked, what qualities guide your business?
For me, when I think of my business as a whole, the qualities that come to mind are Romance, Beauty and Femininity.

Romance because I work with a lot of brides as my primary market as well as moms-to-be and those renewing their vows after several years of marriage. There is a tremendous amount of love in each of these relationships and I want my photos, pieces, descriptions and style to depict the love that is between each of them. I want someone to see something that I've made and immediately picture themselves wearing it on the day they say "I Do" to the man of their dreams or wearing it in the photos anticipating their sweet little child.

Beauty because I want to make someone feel beautiful as soon as they adorn a creation that I've made. Nothing makes me happier as a creative designer to hear a customer describe how wonderful one of my pieces made them feel as they wore it (and didn't want to take it off).

Femininity because as a woman, each crown, veil, headpieces etc. is designed with the feminine heart in mind. I love creating with soft, dainty and lady-like components. The Lord made us women for a reason. Why not embrace the details that come with it?

What qualities guide your business?

At the end of the day, what is truly important? It doesn't matter to me how much money I made, how much work I completed or how many followers I have if my family isn't happy and God isn't at the center of our home first and foremost. Of course there are goals that we set for ourselves and plans that we'd love to complete in our small business journey but if I completely put this little business before my family and my relationship with the Lord, all of this work is in vain.

None of this will last forever anyway so pour your time into what really matters and set your priorities. It's easy to forget what's really important when you're all caught up in work and "making your dreams come true". Keep a reminder of your priorities at your desk, on the wall, on a post-it on your laptop, or another easy to see spot.

If you over work yourself, you will get burnt out and stressed out. Believe me, this has happened to me plenty of times which is why we need to learn to value our time in these seasons (see this topic here and here). I am currently on a shop vacation with a large part of my reasoning having to do with getting burnt out with working too much. Sometimes we need a break and that's OK...actually it's essential! We need these breaks to refresh our minds and re-organize the matters that are most important to us.
What's most important to you?

See Part I of this Small Biz Reflection and what I learned at CreativeLive here.

The other topics I've covered are:

  • I don't want to be a corporation or large-scale company
  • I need to value my time
  • Pricing

Saturday, September 6, 2014

{Small Biz} I Don't Want To Be A Corporation. Pricing. Valuing My Time. Part I

Back in July, I attended a workshop in San Francisco on CreativeLive. Remember the photos I posted from the trip? I had learned so much and realized many points while I was there and as I've reflected since I've been home.

The workshop was, "Marketing for Crafters: Successfully Sell Your Handmade Goods" taught by Tara Swiger. I was so ecstatic to attend this 3-day course because I love to constantly learn-not only new design techniques but also about the "business side of things" and what goes into trying to run a successful small business. As I work in the craft studio, CreativeLive is usually playing in the background. It's a great education tool for makers, photographers, business & money savvy people and those who love DIY.

From July 17-19th, I was able to really focus on where I wanted my brand to take me and what I really wanted from Love Sparkle Pretty. Before coming to the workshop, I thought I had an idea of goals/plans, etc but I soon realized that I was really just going with the flow and following where ever LSP went. I never wrote down any clear business plans and when I thought of my long term goals, I couldn't really make up my mind on one "big picture." I mean, how could I? I am a mother and a wife who stays at home and tries the best I can to multi-task the shop, the house, what to eat and feed my son throughout the day, the chores that need to be done, the time spent with my husband when he comes home from work, the learning activities I play with my son, the events we attend, etc. etc. I don't have time to think of a business plan on top of it all-until I had 3 days to myself in San Francisco.

Being a woman trying to balance many roles is hard-especially when your heart is divided with your family/children and your work, which for many creatives, is your passion. It's difficult to see the productive results of your work when you are doing so many different things all in one day (usually feeling like a chicken with it's head cut off). It's good to take a moment, or several and really think about what you really want-in this case, from your small business. When I was able to do this, I was smacked in the face with a different reality and goal than I initially may of thought.

Here is Part I (see Part II here) of what I've learned and come to realize over the past few months and years as a small business owner.

I don't want to be a corporation or a large-scale company. I once thought that if my little shop grew organically into a much larger-scale business where I could hire several employees, have an incredibly inspiring and beautiful headquarters, large rooms full of hard-working designers and a glamorous desk to call my own, I'd be happy with that. I mean, who wouldn't be right?

After thinking about my priorities a little more and having Tara Swiger make us write down our ideas and what's really guiding our business, I can honestly say that this large-scale dream is truly not my ultimate goal and it's something I no longer think about. The power of putting thoughts onto paper!
Truth is, I love making connections and building relationships with my customers. I couldn't do this behind a desk and overseeing a large production company. With that said, I know I want to keep my shop a small business which leads to the next point.

I need to value my time. I've talked about this before in a post here and I really think that this is so important for any small business owner. I have so much going on in each and every day. They may be menial tasks some days but none the less, they are things that need to get done or time poured into relationships.

I remember when all of this was just a hobby and I would just create for anybody and everybody. The turning point comes when you decide to take what you do seriously. Once you become overwhelmed with work, you realize that the hours you are spending on your business is taking over the hours in your day that need to be placed elsewhere (i.e. taking care of your children/family, doing your daily devotion, keeping the house clean, grocery shopping, paying the bills on time, etc.)
Print by The Quote Lab
There comes a point when you realize that you need to make some changes in how you spend your time. Make a list of your priorities and know that it's ok to say no to things. Learn to say no so you can say yes to the things that really make you excited about your day and your business.
The next point that I learned has been a key factor in helping me value my time.

Pricing, pricing, pricing. I live in an area where the majority of the population shops at Target, Walmart and bargain clothing stores (hey, I love to get good deal too!). With that said, the market that I live in is not my target market. This took me a while to accept initially. I wanted to please everyone and sell to everyone around me who asked. Doing this, I was not only losing money but I was losing out on my days because I was cooped up in a small room for hours. Not that I didn't love what I do or wasted the experience but my mind set had to change if I wanted to take my work more seriously.

Here's a story-a lesson learned really early on in pricing.
The very first order I ever sold as Love Sparkle Pretty was actually a skirt that I had sold for $20 that actually ended up taking me 14+ hours to make in total not including the adjustments the customer later wanted to make (making the skirt twice as short as it originally was). I initially thought that $20 was even high and felt guilty...until I got to work on this custom piece. It took me so long to make because I was still learning to sew but after this girl approached me in a mall asking about the ruffled skirt I was wearing that I had created, she wanted one as well and I didn't turn down the opportunity. Since it was my very first order, I was a MAJOR perfectionist and spent a heck of a lot of time on this skirt. When all was done, after supplies were bought and gas money was used (I had meet her 2 different times) and the several hours spent, the only thing I was left with was a HUGE learning lesson.
Now, a few years later, I am still learning to price pieces accordingly-taking into account my supplies (for everything), gas money (to get supplies, go to the post office, etc.) and most importantly my time. I've had so many people (especially at the workshop) tell me I need to raise my prices. It's a scary thought but I'm at the point now where I have to and I'm ok with it! Most people don't take into account the time that it actually takes not only to make a product from start to finish but the time it takes to package, to "list" an item (if on a website), take photos, work on styled photo shoots with photographers and so many other aspects!

I have also started to take on a couple wholesale orders which has really made me see that my prices were certainly not priced for wholesale. I thought that I was making a decent amount because they were large orders but with prices nearly chopped in half on each piece and spending the same amount of time creating each piece, I was again, not valuing my time in my pricing. So for me, because I certainly want to keep my wholesale relationships, my prices changes (once I reopen shop on the 15th) will also reflect this among many other factors.

If this a business that you want to take seriously, you need to also make a profit on top of making the money it takes to keep up on your website, business cards, utensils used everyday to create (scissors, glue, thread, needles, pens, paper, etc.). This would all be considered overhead because this is money that goes back into your business-not your profit.

You don't need to market to those around you if they aren't your target audience. When you think about your ideal customer and pricing, where do they shop? Do your prices compare and relate to that stores prices? This is usually the best way to get thinking about your prices. For example, if your ideal customer shops at Anthropologie, your prices need to correlate with those prices. If your prices are much lower, the quality of work may seem a lot less. Same for any store you see your customer buying from. Make sense?

Here are some other great pricing tips to learn from:
The Etsy Blog: A Simple Formula for Pricing Your Work
Tara Gentile: Making Your Customers Comfortable with Price
Tara Gentile: 88.2% of Business Owners Should Double Their Prices

See Part II here where I cover these topics:

  • I have a different view point of hiring.
  • My brand is a reflection of myself.
  • What is my North Star?
  • At the end of the day, what is truly important.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

{Personal} Celebrating our 4 Year Wedding Anniversary

Now that mine and my husband's 4 year wedding anniversary has past about a month ago, why not finally blog about it right? Ay yi yi, I really need to keep up to date on the blog a bit more.

My husband surprised me with plans to the beach while Grandma T watched our little man for the afternoon. We headed to Newport Beach for lunch at Jack Shrimp. They have my FAVORITE plate of food-Jack Rice. It's this yummy, spicy cajon rice in garlic butter sauce with chicken breast meat and jumbo shrimp (I get it on the side for my husband because I don't care for seafood). It comes with french bread too and dipping the bread in the sauce...SO good!! Definitely recommend this place if you are anywhere near Newport.

After lunch, we headed to the pier where we rented a tandem bike for a few hours. SO FUNNY! We've never rode a tandem bike before and I really thought we were going to fall over several times. It took a while to get used to...after a few wobbles and near accidents into brick walls, we got the hang of it and biked down the coast and around the pier.

We then walked the beach, ate some yummy chocolate covered frozen bananas and drank fresh squeezed lemonade in the sunshine. Refreshing.

We headed home later in the afternoon and got ready for dinner at a delicious Italian Restaurant near our home where we shared alfredo sticks (a.k.a. heart attack sticks that taste too delicious not to eat) and a pizza with all the fixin's.

We also shared good conversation where we reflected on this past year of marriage (something we do every year) and what the future may hold. Communication is so important in any relationship and being able to share our thoughts and feelings with each other is something I pray we will always keep between us.

I am so incredibly thankful for this man whom not only I love with my whole heart but who loves me and I know it. God is so good! Here's to another many, many years ahead of us to do life together.