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Flourish: how I’m letting one little word shape my year

Flourish: verb, to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

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Each year, I pick a word to set the tone for the entire year. Last year’s word was Achieve, and I really feel like that word carried me well through the year. I hit & exceeded all of my production goals, sales goals & smaller goals for my business, like getting some wholesale accounts & attending big shows in the area. I laid a lot of groundwork in 2017 to because I knew that I needed 2018 to be a year of growth and personal development – as a business owner, mother, and human.

I set some really lofty goals for 2018, and by acting upon my word for the year, I am already seeing things begin to Flourish! I knew that part of growing this year, I wanted to attend a lot of large events in order for Lu & Ed to grow & thrive. I started applying for shows all over the East Coast & Midwest, including some huge shows I have always dreamed of doing but never thought I would get accepted into. And it paid off! Most events are still taking applications so it will be a bit before I find out my entire show schedule for the Spring/Summer, but a week ago I reached out to – and was invited to! – Mommy Con, the biggest parenting convention in America! I will be at their Charlotte event May 5th! I am so flipping excited – this is an event I have always DREAMED of doing with Lu & Ed, and now that it is on the books, I feel like I could fly!

In addition to booking several large shows alongside smaller markets to build my local audience, I set other goals for my business to facilitate my word of the year manifesting – I set a production goal of 1000 monsters in 2018! I am already just over 5% of the way to that goal! In 2017 I was able to make 514 monsters, with a new baby, homeschooling my son & life in general, so I am feeling really confident that while it will be difficult, I can hit that goal! By doubling my production, I will be able to take on more bulk/wholesale orders as well, which turned out to be great for Lu & Ed last year, so I am excited to expand on that more this year!

As a mama, I am working on patience, and creating an environment in which my children can Flourish as well. Which means less clutter, less screen time, more family time, more conversation and more time spent connecting with humans! I recently launched a local Asheville chapter of Punky Moms, a group for alternative mothers, and am building connections & fostering community through that group as well as through our tween homeschool group & the local artist community. For Gauge, we also recently applied to a local charter school – it has all the features of a public school (sports, band, swim team, etc) but  it has a high focus on college preparation, advanced curriculum, and a much lower rate of bullying & social issues with higher diversity than the local public schools offer here.

And for myself, I am focusing on the word Flourish to help me regain my health. I used to eat an all raw/organic diet, and worked out every day, did yoga, walked at least a mile a day, and all that. I’ve strayed so far from that healthful lifestyle since I moved to WNC, but this is the year I restore that lifestyle and mental attitude! I want to gain at least 10 pounds by the end of the year, as I have always struggled with weight gain and one year postpartum, I am only weighing 98lbs. So my goal is to gain weight, get healthy, and exercise regularly so I can Flourish and keep up with my intentions for my business & family!

Do you pick a word for the year? If you do, share below what your word is! I would love to know!

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Meet the Maker: Dani of Big Hugs, Little Envelopes – a maker every maker should know!

You guys, this Monday, you can thank me for starting off your week introducing you to a maker who creates supplies that makes running your business so much more fun & colorful, and soon, SO much easier! Get to know Dani & all the services & products she offers makers below, and be sure to visit her shop Big Hugs, Little Envelopes to view the full range of products as well – she is offering 20% off with code SAVE20 to all Lu & Ed readers through December 31st, 2017! Thanks, Dani!
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Heeeey Dani! Welcome to my blog! Let’s get started – why don’t you tell the readers all about yourself?

Hey, guys! I’m Dani, a life-long Colorado girl, mama of two rad boys, and wife to one totally amazing dude! I am a teacher by trade and actually taught elementary school for 12 years before deciding to take a break and stay home with my kiddos! I have taught every grade K-5 and loved them all, but 5th grade will always have a very special place in my heart! My schooling has all been centered around teaching, of course! I am certified to teach K-6 and, am endorsed in gifted education. With my Masters in literacy, I am also endorsed to teach reading K-12 (though I haven’t yet ventured into the land of middle or high school!). I also have a minor in French, but I tell ya what… that is definitely a “use it or lose it” skill. I’m bummed that I don’t get to use my French more often, and I fear I am forgetting it quickly! In my free time (wait… what’s that???), I love movies with my family, dance parties in the kitchen, scrapbooking, writing, reading, running (slow as a turtle!), and enjoying the gorgeous outdoors of Colorful Colorado. I couldn’t ask to live in a more beautiful place!!! I almost never watch live TV, but I love to pop on a show while I work, and my current Netflix/Hulu/HBO streaming addictions include America’s Got Talent, Shark Tank, Grey’s Anatomy, Big Little Lies, and This is Us!
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Have you always been such a wildly creative person?

Well, that is certainly a lovely compliment – THANK YOU! Yes, I have always thrived on creativity. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making and writing and doing… It’s in my blood, as I think is the case for all creatives! I can remember making little dresses for my dolls when I was very young out of random things like toilet paper and yarn. Over the years, I have experimented with MANY creative outlets, including drawing, painting, clay work, sewing, cake decorating, jewelry making, embroidery, crochet… You name it! If it involves the creative process, I’ve probably tried it!
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How did you get started in digital design & print services?

It’s a funny story, really! Let me back up a bit… I’m super big on the idea of Happy Mail. It’s always been very important to me to send thank you cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, etc. As a kid, I even had several pen pals around the world. I just truly believe that a simple card in the mail with a handwritten heartfelt note has so much power to make someone smile. So often, the mailbox is filled with bills and ads and other junk. Personally, I love getting a note in the mail, and I know other people do, too! It’s such a sweet way to brighten someone’s day, and the ripple effect of kindness is fascinating to me. I LOVE the idea that I can literally send a smile through the mail, which has the power to turn someone’s day around, and in turn, they could smile at someone else who needs it, and on and on… You just never know how far it’ll reach!
Fast forward to about 3 years ago. With the pause in my teaching career, I had more time to embrace some of my hobbies again. I’ve been obsessed with scrapbooking and paper crafts since before my first son was born 10 years ago, and with my newly found freedom, I picked up card making, which quickly became another obsession! I bought up a TON of stamps, inks, card stock, patterned paper… Oooooh boy! You already know how I feel about mail, so I found myself making cards for anyone and everyone! Eventually, people started telling me I should sell my cards. I thought they were CRAZY! Who in their right mind would pay actual money for them??? But, with some AMAZING cheerleaders behind me, I decided I had nothing to lose! I started up my Etsy shop, Big Hugs Little Envelopes, keeping in line with the idea that, although it may be a small envelope, it contains a big dose of love and kindness! Sure enough, my biggest cheerleaders became my first customers, and my little shop was up and running! Before long, people were asking me if I could make signs and shirts and other items. I’ve never been one to turn down a creative challenge, so I embraced all of the requests! One thing led to another, and before I knew it, most everything I was doing was digital. I now have a whole crew of machines here in my crafty space that help me do what I do! If you had told me three years ago that I’d be where I am today, I would have called you crazy! I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be running a successful business doing digital and print work, but I wouldn’t change a single thing!
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What is your favorite products to design?

Oooooh…. That’s a toughie. I am completely fascinated by the sublimation process, so one of the most satisfying things for me to create is mugs. It’s so wild to me that I can design something on my computer, print it out using special ink and paper, and then permanently transfer it to a mug that then is dishwasher and microwave safe! Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times now, it still feels like magic to me every time I take the mug out of the press! On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself saying aloud, “That is so stinkin’ COOL!!!”
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Making for makers must be so inspiring – how many different shops do you work with in a month, usually?

Ohmygosh, it REALLY is! When I started this gig, I had NO idea there was such an amazing maker community out there, but I am so incredibly honored to have found it and become part of it! At this point, over half of what I do is for other makers! I would say in any given month, I work with 20-30 shops, which blows my mind! It gives me so much satisfaction knowing that my small business is, in turn, helping their small businesses! My philosophy is that we are all in this together, and that there is plenty of love to go around. It’s that whole “Community Over Competition” idea, and I embrace that wholeheartedly. I seriously love promoting other makers, as you’ll easily see on my social media platforms! My wish is for all of us to be successful, and if what I do can have a hand in that, I’m thrilled! I’ve also become amazing friends with so many other makers throughout the process, and have gotten to know some super sweet, highly talented people (like YOU!!!)! Sometimes I even get to meet them in person, and that is AWESOME! (This summer, I got to meet the lovely Sue from Glass and Stone – my heart was SO happy!!!)
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You are one of my favorite people to follow on social media – you are so positive! What sort of daily routines do you have in place to keep the happy flowing?

Oh wow, thank you! That is so kind! It involves a lot of coffee! Haha! But truly, I really just try to live in the moment. I have come to realize that life is so short and so precious and that we are all on this planet together. I personally have felt the effects of kindness and love, and I know first hand how powerful that can be, so I just want to do my part every single day to pass that along to others. I genuinely believe in the magic of a kind word, a hug, a smile… My home is filled with inspiring quotes, which I look at daily, to remind me of how lucky we are to be part of this amazing thing called humanity.
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You specialize in custom branded goodies for makers, so I have to ask. What are three MUST HAVES for makers when it comes to branding materials?

For me, my business is all about the human connection. So, while a true marketing professional might disagree, my must haves involve things that help people connect on a personal level. I love, love, love creating stickers for makers to use on their packaging as a fun way to say thank you to their customers.
I also believe in a handwritten thank you note with each order, so custom logo cards with a space to write are always a favorite of mine!
And of course, I think a key aspect of any business is the ability to be easily recognized, so anything that includes an identifiable logo is huge! I love creating logo stickers, notecards, mugs… you name it! 🙂 If people see your logo and immediately associate it with your high-quality products, I think you’re doing something right! 🙂
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Tea, cocoa or coffee?

Oh girl, why do you have to give me the hard questions??? Is “Yes, please!” an acceptable response? 🙂
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What is your favorite color?

Again with the hard questions!!! I love all things rainbow, and any color that is bright and happy is good with me! Current faves are any and all shades of teal/turquoise/mint/pool, pinks, purples, and sunshiny colors like yellows and oranges. I’m gearing up for fall, though, so I’m sure I’ll soon be surrounding myself with warm, calming browns, deep oranges, and dark greens.

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Is your home as colorful as your products & social media feed?!

Haha! Yes. Yes it is! Like I said, color makes me so happy, and I love surrounding myself with it. It really does have an effect on my mood! When I want to be calm and peaceful, I find myself retreating to my bedroom, which is done in pale blues, gentle browns, and soft greys. When I’m feeling energetic and productive, I’m most often found in my maker space, which is full of all things bright and cheery and motivating! A good bit of my decor in there is actually handmade goodies from other makers! My kitchen and family room are warm and inviting, with the reds and yellows and browns that make me feel comforted and safe at home. It’s all about color around here! And of course a good bouquet of colorful flowers in any room makes me smile, too!
It was so fun getting to interview Dani & introduce you all to her amazing shop. She has something very, very exciting in the works and you NEED to follow her on Facebook & Instagram so you don’t miss out when this project launches!
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May Monster Mash Giveaway! // Winner’s Announced!

ETA: WINNERS HAVE BEEN DRAWN! View each image for winner’s names. All makers will be contacting their winners individually, so be on the look out!

ETA 5:01 pm 5/22: I have two late add ins – a ceramic monster from Gingerly Twisted, and a monster sculpture from Lola Made – technical difficulties caused a delay in getting their items/entries in, but they are all added in now + you can earn entries by following their social channels & visiting their shops!

Hey guys! I know, I haven’t actually used this blog space for more than giveaways in a bit, but I promise I have some fresh content & blog posts coming soon! But first, let’s celebrate the end of school, beginning of summer, and all things FUN with my May Monster Mash Giveaway!

Yup, me & some monster making buddies are teaming up to bring you one amazing monster of a giveaway – 9 monster toys up for grabs, and 9 WINNERS. One item per winner, yay! So lots of cute monsters, lots of ways to enter, lots of chances to win, lots of winners! Hooray!

Like last month’s giveaway, you will earn entries by following these awesome monster makers on social media, visiting/following their shops, and you can even earn entries by sharing products from the stores to social media – you can do one blog post a day with products from each shop, share an item on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or even pin some items to Pinterest! Then just post the URL of your share into the giveaway widget for the entry to count!

Here is all the official rules: Contest is open from 12AM EST 5/22 to 11:59PM EST 5/28. Giveaway is open world wide, where allowed, to entrants over the age of 18. Non-domestic winners must pay shipping prior to their item being shipped. Winners are selected at random by Rafflecopter!

Excited yet? Wait until you see this prize line up!

Rainbow Micro Monster from Lu & Ed / Winner: Mandy Capraun

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A Monster Plush from Love & A Sandwich / Winner: April Howard

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Sock Monster from Stuf’d / Winner: Jennifer Galay

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Sock Critter from Too Much Caffeine Critters / Winner: Megan Czach

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Fuzzy Monster from Pink Sprinkles Plush / Winner: Bridget Moore

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Purple Essential Oil Diffuser Monster from Smelly Faces / Winner: Jill Keller
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Fuzzy Monster from Fuzzling Monsters / Winner: Rebekah Lu

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Mama Monster Sculpture from Lola Made / Winner: Lisa Shankly

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Monster Plush from The Magical Monsters / Winner: Richelle G

Ceramic Monster from Gingerly Twisted / Winner: Carmen Mobberly

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How monstrously awesome are these prizes?! I sort of want to win them all myself. *heart eyes*

Now, let’s get down to winning some stuff! The more entries you earn, the better your chance of winning! Don’t forget to come back every day this week to earn extra entries!
>CLICK HERE TO ENTER<

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A Sugar Free Valentine’s Day Treat for You! (Psst it’s a Giveaway!)

Happy weekend, monster loving friends! It’s been an exciting week! Not only did my son launch his own line of monster products, I’ve been collaborating with new friends & I am so excited to bring you a super sweet treat for Valentine’s Day – a giveaway, yay!

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I have teamed up with a master maker of loveliness & sweetness, Ell Bee Accessories, to offer this free bundle of cute sweetness just for you. Up for grabs in the giveaway this weekend is winner’s choice of one of the five 3-pack sets of hair bows (either on clips or head bands), and a $10 shop credit to luanded.com! Yay!

Giveaway is open from 2/4 until midnight 2/6. Winner will be announced 2/7 and will have 24 hours to claim their prizes before we draw for another winner, so there’s ample time for the goodies to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! There’s variety of ways to enter, from following us on social media to sharing the graphic above on Instagram!

Enter below – and tell your friends! Good luck!

>>> Click to enter! >>> a Rafflecopter giveaway <<< Click to Enter! <<<

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!

 

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June’s #onceamonthproject

Hey guys! I’m sure some of you remember my post at the beginning of the month about my Once a Month Project, designed just to raise awareness & encourage growth in the Storenvy Marketplace? It was a basic idea – encourage others to shop small and support Storenvy sellers via the Marketplace, and then post their purchases on social media or their blogs, which encourages even more traffic to & more purchases through the marketplace which in turn creates a thriving marketplace for Storenvy sellers! I am so excited about how well it’s taken off and all of the support this project has gotten so far!

This month, money was tight but I could not resist buying these cute new washi tapes from V’s Sweet Ideas. I use washi tape to decorate the front of my packages and these three match my brand colors so I had to scoop them up! This seller was awesome to buy from – the tapes were at my door in just a couple of days, and her packaging was so cute, too – the hand written thank you note was a sweet touch. ♥

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There is a TON of options for washi tape on Storenvy – if you are as obsessed as I am, definitely pop over and browse the selection! There’s so much to pick from!

Here is posts from around the web supporting the #onceamonthproject – so stoked to see so many individuals getting involved in the shopping small movement!

Here’s a blog post from Carmen about her purchase – she snagged a monster tote from my marketplace shop! Heck yeah, thanks Carmen!

Cheryl also sent me a blog post she wrote about her purchase from Decal Drama – love what she got from them (and if you like Star Wars, you will too!

Here are some of the social media posts that went up this month, too!

Did you make a purchase on Storenvy this month? If so, how would rate your experience/purchase?

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Getting to Know Your Dream Clients

This is part two in a five part series about identifying your target audience. Read the first post here.

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This exercise is all about exploring, getting to know and getting ready to approach your dream clients. This may not necessarily be the  people currently purchasing from you, but rather the people you dream of buying & using your products and telling their social media following about you!  This doesn’t mean in any way you are kicking current buyers to the curb, which a common concern about people learning to identify their dream clients – that’s not what is happening at all! It just means that you are working hard to expand & grow your audience organically and bring in additional clients who will help you spread the word about your business in an authentic way. So try to remove any considerations about your current clientele from your mind and focus only on your dream clients, who should be the most popular and influential peeople you could dream of buying your products!. Once you wrap up this series, you should have a clear vision in your head about your dream client is and how to approach them, so take your time and really consider your answers!
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Download this printable here
How to use this worksheet:
Again, it is not designed to analyze your current customers but to help you identify & define your target audience. These are the most popular & influential people you can think of that you would want to buy & showcase your products on social media.


Parts 1-3 help you identify their style and how your brand & products fits into their life by helping you determine where they live, how your products fit into that space, and why they would like your stuff to begin with. No matter what you make, your dream client has to want to bring it into their home, or they won’t bring it into their home. It’s as simple as that. So by identifying where & how they live, how they decorate & use their space and how your products fit into it, you have a better chance at staging photos & writing copy for listings as well as your social media posts so they speak to your dream client and drive sales.

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Parts 4-6 help you define your dream client’s interests and spending habits, as well as what sort of marketing tactics they are attracted to. Understanding your dream clients interests and consumption habits help you understand how they respond to marketing from larger industries & how your products fit into their consumption habits. This knowledge helps you analyze your own social media and marketing habits and alter them to appeal to your dream clients better.

Parts 7-9 help you to understand what type of content your dream client likes on social media. This is SO important – knowing what type of content your audience enjoys, actively pursues & shares is the keystone to how your social media campaigns should be administered, from photo styling to product modeling to how you talk about your products – recognizing the type of content your dream clients actually consume and respond to will help you create a killer social media campaign!

Try to think of at least four people to put on this worksheet that your target audience follows. It can be celebrities, indie brands, bloggers – anyone you look up to & think your dream client would too. Determine why they would follow those four people. Is it because they are all funny? Inspiring? Spiritual? Are they all kids clothing designers & parenting lifestyle bloggers? Are they all trendy moms? Photographers? What is it about these people your dream client loves? And of course – does your dream client share content from these people? If so, why? What type of content? And most importantly – are you curating the type of social media campaign that your dream clients would follow? Are you creating content they would share with their audience?

Harnessing this knowledge is the key to understanding what sort of content your dream client is looking for & how you can produce similar content that is unique to your brand. Explore the people you think your dream client would follow. Look at this objectively – do not try to find similarities between the people your dream clients follow and you. Look for the differences. Learn from them. Look at how they style their images & present themselves & their brands, if they are businesses.

Defining your dream client’s interests is so important to understanding how to approach them. Next, we’ll use the info gathered from this worksheet to help learn where to find our Dream clients online! 

Let’s talk in the comments: what did you learn about your Dream Clients today?