In the six months I’ve been open (seven if you count the month I was closed), I’ve done some things right, made some mistakes, and learned some things. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice, these are the lessons I would share in no particular order other than the one they occurred to me in.
1- Look up delivery times before you make any promises. Scratch that. Promise when you will mail your package, but you cannot guarantee when it will be delivered. That is not in your control.
2- Don’t run out of supplies because then everyone will order at once and you will be reduced to a huddle on the floor begging your supply company to rush some over and telling them you don’t care that they don’t have any either.
3- Things that were once so hard you thought you would never figure it out become easier with time. They will become so natural and second nature to you that you will forget they were ever that hard in the first place.
4- Triple check to make sure you don’t send a box that’s for Abby to someone named Gia. Because weddings and fortieth birthday parties usually need different decorations. Totally hypothetical situation.
5- Kill ‘em with kindness. Sometimes people will be upset. Sometimes it will be your fault. Respond with kindness.
6- Make friends in the business. Their support and advice will become invaluable. And on that subject…
7- You know your business and brand better than anyone else, so if someone’s suggestion doesn’t sit well with you, don’t take it. This is, after all, your business.
8- Care. Care about every single package that goes out. Care about what that package looks like. Care about how it will feel to open that package. Care about it all and your customer will feel it.
9- Don’t forget to make time for life. Having your own business is hard and time consuming in a from-the-second-I-wake-up-to-the-second-I-close-my-eyes-and-even-then-I-dream-about-it kind of way. It’s hard to not work on something when it needs to be done, but you and your business will be better if you take a break and live your life a little! Or so I’ve heard.
10- Never stop learning or improving. These lessons are pretty all encompassing so you likely don’t need to read or learn anything else about business (B school? Pshaw, Gilit’s got a post on this!) but you should anyway. Read, research, talk to people, get a mentor, try things. Whatever you do, always keep your eyes and ears open, but as my mom says, not too open that your brain falls out.
Those are some of the lessons I’ve learned this year. My store hasn’t been open that long, but it’s been open longer than a store that’s been open for not as long so maybe one of these lessons will be helpful. Some of these lessons come naturally to me, some of them I had to learn through experience, and one especially, was a lesson someone told me before I started and I could not be more grateful.
Do you have any invaluable lessons? A mistake you’ve made? Something you’ve done really right? I’d love to hear in the comments!
I do this really embarrassing thing where I take on other people’s accents or verbal tics (their fingerprint words if you will) especially when I think it’s adorable.
“Y’all” is one of those words. It is so far from my daily vocabulary but I just made fifty “FALL Y’ALL” banners and while it hasn’t snuck into my speech, it’s definitely made it’s way into my writing.
These “FALL Y’ALL”s are gonna be in the swag bags in an upcoming West ElmMeet and Make event in Orlando, Fl with Sarah Khandjian of Sarah Hearts. I loooove West Elm and Sarah is my jam so I’m really excited about it.
What’s your ultimate Fall moment? Mine is wearing a yummy sweater, cozy boots, holding a cup of hot cocoa and watching “You’ve Got Mail.” What about a verbal tic? I can so easily identify others’ but my own is hard!
I miss blogging on a regular basis so much and it’s making me sad.
I think one big thing holding me back is that I have this idea that my posts have to be so polished or so complete like a tutorial or a party (I have two big ones I still need to blog about!), but I think I’m going to start sharing smaller posts so I can blog on a more regular basis and hopefully getting back into the flow of things will help me get the other posts up for you! I’m gonna call it “Hey Dollface” because you are and because I can.
-Ashley of Sugar & Cloth made this gorgeous DIY watercolor abstract cake and used mini Bannerie glitter letters as a cake topper. As I promised IG followers, I will get the cake toppers listed! I have so many mini letters just waiting to be sent out (on toothpicks for cupcakes and bamboo sticks for cakes so you can do more than one line of words). It’ll happen. Just can’t promise when..
-Tuvia and I made this video to enter the Alison Show BFF dance off and SOMEHOW didn’t win (RIGHT?!) Seriously scroll through that hashtag (#alisonsBFFdanceoff) on IG, some of it’s hiLARIOUS. If you want to see our full video and some outtakes, check out our YouTube channel that’s super sad and lacking in any good videos (other than this one, obviously).
-Alyssa was the first to order a SWEET LOVE banner and my first ever Bannerie wedding and she just shared a photo of how she repurposed her banner in her dreamy bedroom!
-Cindy is the gorgeous and talented store owner and event planner behind Confetti and Sparkle Party Shop so I can’t wait to see more of her son Gavin’s “Camp Gavin” birthday party! She’ll be selling cake toppers like the one you see in her store soon!
Let’s just say if they were any paler they’d be see-through so sunscreen is no joke in our family.
Aiden recently had to get stitches near his eye (I highly recommend that you do not allow your little ninja to jump into the corner of a dresser, stitches are awful!) When we did the follow up with the plastic surgeon he said to make sure to use sunscreen to minimize the scar but that it should be non-toxic because it’s so close to his eye. Bing, bing, bing! The Honest Sunscreen Lotion is non-toxic!
They also both have very sensitive skin. This means that we have to be super careful about what we put on them, especially Aiden who has eczema. Since he’s basically a grown man at the ripe old age of four years old, Aiden likes to put on the Honest Healing Balm himself.
I asked him if he likes it and he said “yeah, it smells like cereal bars!” which I found questionable, but he was pretty sure of himself.
Then I asked him how the all important question of how it feels because he hates most skin creams and he said “I like it, it feels like a snake is tickling me!” Also questionable, but he meant it as a really big compliment. His eczema is mild but it’s surprisingly hard to find something that’s effective that isn’t really thick and leaves residue everywhere, so the Honest Healing Balm really works for us.
Again, this is a sponsored post, but this is legit: Mia had a really bad diaper rash (one of those middle of the night woke up crying but she fall back asleep on her own in two minutes and then we realized she had a dirty diaper in the morning things) we used Honest Diaper Rash Cream and I promise you her rash was almost gone by the next change and completely gone by the next day.
That’s no small deal.
I did a review of Honest diapers and wipes awhile ago, but this was my first year with the Honest Swim Diaper and not only is it flipping cute (I mean, pineapples? Always.) but it’s so great because they don’t absorb water. That’s so important with sensitive baby butts, both our kids would get so irritated from disposable swim diapers so I’m really glad to make the switch. Plus Mia thinks it’s underwear which is obviously the most exciting thing to ever happen.
It’s really nice to have a one-stop shop for baby products that I trust.
The Honest Company also has an ongoing free trial offer, which I highly recommend you take advantage of because for the cost of shipping you get to choose a sample bundle of diapers and wipes, essentials bundle, or health and wellness bundle.
This post was brought to you in partnership with The Honest Company. Thank you for supporting Shoes Off Please partnerships!
For my first ever wedding post I am so happy to be sharing the wedding of my two friends John Thomas Flemming and Ilana Nutkis! (I did briefly recap it here but that was a summary’s summary and more about my personal experience.)
Choosing Chicago’s Salvage One as their venue, Ilana and John put together a personal, beautiful, well thought-out wedding that was so much fun and filled with a bunch of ideas you’re going to want to steal. Keep reading for more on this fantabulousness:
“Our first priority was fun: we wanted our wedding to be a huge, awesome party for all of family and friends. Our second priority was to have a wedding that felt personal to us. We wanted it to be unique in a way that reflected our personalities, and that would be welcoming, comfortable, and memorable for our guests.
My vision for the wedding definitely evolved during the planning, and we eliminated some ideas that turned out to be unmanageable or prohibitively expensive.
It was hard to make some of these choices: For one thing, there are just so many decisions, big and small, it feels like you’ll never be done choosing. Also, wedding decisions feel very final; all the magazines and websites are telling you, “This is your “big day! It has to be perfect!” The cultural pressure to be the “perfect” bride and have a “perfect” wedding is intense, and it can make even the smallest decisions feel completely overwhelming. Still, despite the craziness of wedding planning, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to craft a wedding I loved. I truly had the wedding of my dreams, and I am so, so grateful for that.
I think of my wedding style as “casual elegance” and “eclectic.” The actual wedding ended up more “vintage chic,” mostly because of our awesome venue. I like deep, rich colors, classic elements with a modern twist, and interesting details that add depth and personality. I think the surroundings really set the tone for the wedding, so venue was a big focus for me. One reason I loved our venue so much was that the reception area was furnished with mismatched vintage wood tables and antique chandeliers; it was so fun and unique, while still retaining functionality and comfort for the guests. I wanted the wedding to feel intimate and personal, so I looked for elements that would add an extra element of unexpected creativity and charm.
I love old-fashioned elegance and formality blended with modern elements to make it more personal and lighthearted. For example, I wanted to wear a cathedral veil for my wedding, because I love the grandeur and elegance of a long veil, but I also wanted it to be fun and reflect my personality – so I bought a polka dot veil! I’m obsessed with polka dots, and it was the perfect way to add a fun, modern element to the classic bridal look.
The venue search was a process. From the outset, we knew that we wanted something different from the standard hotel ballroom or reception hall. My search included art galleries, botanic gardens, historic homes, museums, and zoos (who doesn’t want a penguin at their cocktail hour?). I researched over 100 venues online, narrowing them down by various criteria (capacity, price, location). Eventually, I had a list of 15, and my incredibly patient parents spent two days going around to all of them with me. (It was insane. I do not recommend this.)
In the end I narrowed it down to two choices: Salvage One, which we ended up choosing, and the Women’s Club of Evanston, which is a beautiful historic home. It was a really difficult choice, because both venues had elements that I loved. Historic homes are one of my dorkier obsessions, and I loved all of the old-fashioned details at the Women’s Club, like the elaborate vaulted ceiling in the ballroom. Salvage One was basically the opposite: totally unique, quirky, and perfectly over-the-top. It was basically love at first sight – I walked in the door and was completely captivated.
The groom was very involved, and would have been more so if I had let him :) He trusted my choices, which made it easier to get things done on my busy schedule. He didn’t even see Salvage One until months after I picked it out – and it was too late to get the deposit back, so it’s a good thing he loved it as much as I did! Perhaps most importantly, he was always there to pry me away from my endless lists and spreadsheets when I was going crazy with bridal stress.
I had some ambitious DIY plans, which was…interesting, because I am not at all crafty. My major projects were the ceremony programs, table numbers, and placecards.
I thought ceremony programs would be a nice, inexpensive extra, and, because our wedding was in August, they could double as fans. I typed up the text in Word and then printed it out on ivory cardstock, with the processional order on one side and an explanation of Jewish wedding rituals on the other. Then I cut the paper down the middle, glued the pieces on either side of a curvy popsicle stick, and rounded the corners with a corner-cutting tool. For the final touch, we got a stamp made of our monogram on Etsy and stamped all the programs in purple ink (our wedding color).
The table numbers were a bigger project. For this one, I bought a used copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, cut out pages with quotes from favorite authors and historical figures, and pasted them into mismatched antique-style picture frames. Then I pasted die-cut typewriter-style numbers over the pages, in the center of each frame. It complemented the antique style of our venue, and it was a great way to incorporate our love of books into the wedding decor.
The place cards were a simpler project, although it took a long time to gather all the right pieces. The groom loves Coke, so he wanted to incorporate that into the wedding somehow. We came up with the idea to use old-fashioned glass Coke bottles as placecards. There was a kraft paper tag tied to each bottle, with the guest’s name and table number written on it. I found these adorable heart cut-out tags on Etsy, and I bought red-and-white twine to match the Coke colors. That was a fun project for us to put together, because it was relatively easy, but still added a lot of fun. Some guests told us they took their sodas home as a keepsake – wedding favors were a planned DIY project that fell by the wayside when I ran out of time, so that was great to hear!
We also did some simpler projects, like putting a personalized wedding-themed Mad Libs at each place setting, so guests would have something fun to do while they waited for the dancing to start. It was fun for us, too – we read through all of them a few days after the wedding and couldn’t stop laughing. Another little project was setting up a table with pictures of us from our childhoods. That was really special; we included pictures of me with my late grandparents, and of the groom with his grandparents, who weren’t able to travel to the wedding. Finally, I made laminated cards with fun-fact bios for both of us, like our favorite historical figure and ideal way to spend a day off. It was really entertaining to write up, and one of the easiest projects to execute.
This sounds cliche, but the fact that so many of our friends and relatives made the trip out to Chicago to celebrate with us was truly the highlight of the day for us. There’s no replacement for the pure joy of an epic dance party with the people you love! We also continued some family traditions: The top of our chuppah was made of my grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s talleisim, and our mesader kiddushin (officiant) was my uncle, who officiated at my parents’ wedding in 1978. Continuing these traditions was powerful for me, and it felt like the right way to begin our marriage. On a less sentimental note, we were blessed with a rare day of perfect Chicago weather, so we were able to take pictures outside and enjoy our venue’s beautiful garden!”
As a guest, I can tell you that Ilana and John got everything they were going for. We had the best time, the venue was gorgeous and everyone who was there was so genuinely happy for them. It made for a stellar wedding.
Cloud Parade is self-described as “the first online marketplace to shop and design a radical wedding” and it really is. It has the beeeest selection of goods and is basically a fab combo of Etsy and Pinterest because you can put together a “cloud” of your fave wedding clothes, accessories, decor etc and plan and buy it all in one place.
And in a fantastic start to my day I received an e-mail that the Bannerie gold glitter “MISS TO MRS” letter banner was chosen to be featured on the Cloud Parade Shop!
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the day and forgive me in advance but I will be pretty unavailable the next week as I try to finish and ship out three weeks worth of orders so I can have some time with the fam next week and get a head start on the Fall!
Remember when I went to Alt and got sick and felt terrible and still had the best time ever? While I was there I met Gwen Bucknell. She was super lucky to meet me during the second day lunch (Martha! Cue bloggers going CRAZY!) when my voice had reached that really great barely there squeak and I was so tired I don’t even know if I made sense because it was all a haze…
She recently turned thirty and threw herself an incredible bash. I was so excited when she asked me to make fringe tassels and circle garlands because she came up with such a good color scheme (I love it so much, I now offer it in the shop)!