Courage.

In August, I went to Yellow Conference, in Las Angeles, CA- where I was introduced to the spunky, ball of energy Caitlin Crosby (the bomb shell below). Aside from her charm and superior execution of sarcasm, she founded a company called The Giving Keys, where she sells keys embossed with different words and phrases. Theses keys eventually help homeless people get into their own apartments, and off the streets.

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You pick a key that in inscribed with a word you want to internalize, and you wear it until you feel like you have fully possessed the word. At that point, you pass your piece of jewelry on to someone else who you feel needs that word for themselves.

Well, I am a lover of words and believe in the power of them. (I mean HELLO, I write a blog for pete’s sake.) So I gave myself a few days to think about what word I most needed in my life.
Throughout Yellow, I was pushed to write down my “big crazy dreams”. And in that moment, I could hardly even put pen to paper. If I was honest with myself, I felt that my dreams were so much bigger than anything I could truly accomplish. These “big scary dreams” were desires of my heart that crept into my thoughts over and over, only to have me snuff them out, knowing that I couldn’t pull them off. That was for other people. The people that had a “K” after their Instagram followers, had famous fathers, or washed their hair more than once a week.

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As Yellow went on, I recognized that all of the women speaking were these real, beautifully raw, normal people. And the only difference between me and them was that they believed in their dreams enough to actually make them happen. And BOY were these women makin’ it happen.

So I picked the word “Courage”. I selected it so that I could wear it around my neck to remind myself that it’s the only word I need to make my “big crazy dreams” into “been there, and did that”.

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Everyone has a different story, different goals, and a different outlook. But we need to know that our dreams were placed on our hearts for a reason.

So no matter how awkward you might feel, I encourage you to write down your “big crazy dreams”. Don’t water them down. Don’t be scared of your pen. Just write.

And then pick a word that will help you get there. And wear that word (physically or mentally) until you own it.

XO, K.
P.S. I was ridiculously flattered by your responses to my last blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy, busy day to read this little publication of mine, and even more so- for contributing. Keep being awesome.

 

 

**thank you capturing my key, Hannah Hagaman!

** Yellow Conference snaps by yours truly.

 

 

 

WCW// Maggie from Type and Title

You guys didn’t think I had stopped crushing on driven women did you?! Because this WCW is going out to you, Maggie.

So let’s back up a bit, because how we got to this point is at least half the fun. Maggie and I found each other through social media. She had a friend who suggested she follow my work, and once I saw this girl’s skill cranking out into the world, I was hooked. We went back and forth for about a year, checking in on the latest creative efforts of the other. Then when I posted that I was going to be in California this last month, she reached out. Happens that she lives in the same city I was about to be shacking up in. So we planned brunch. Fast forward through a mimosa and a breakfast pot pie (YES. And it was heavenly.), we are practically leaning over the table passionately talking about business, blogging and the delicate art of authentic living. We took the party outdoors so I could snag some head shots. I mean- look at her.

Guys. This girl is awesome. So thankful to be friends with this branding genius, business owner and master in all things with a gel pen.

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Thank you for interviewing with me! Tell everyone a little about yourself.

Hello! I’m Maggie, and I’m a graphic designer and letterer living in San Diego. I love handmade and DIY, neutral and light colors, old things, paper goods, calligraphy, vintage clothing and my two sweet dogs. I run a design studio and Etsy shop called type & title.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I think I’ve always kind of wanted to work for myself but never really had the courage or opportunity to give it a shot before now. Around this time last year, my husband (then fiancé) and I found out we would be moving to California for his Navy job, and I seriously started thinking about going freelance. Military means we’ll move around quite a bit in the coming years, so being self-employed, with a flexible schedule, actually makes sense for me. It’s not lost on me how lucky and blessed I am that having the freedom to explore my career dreams is actually practical!

I know how that feels having a husband in oil! Flexibility is paramount. Okay. Putting your work out there is hard. Starting your own business is harder. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs? 

Just keep going. Working for yourself is like one big, never-ending exercise in trial and error. Some things are going to work, but a great deal of things just won’t, which will hurt in a totally unavoidable way. Just keep pushing forward — learn from your failures and make a more informed decision next time!

What do you do to refuel and reenergize your creative vision? 

Taking a walk is my number one trick. It always seems to help me think about a project in a new or different way. Also, reading. Lately, I’m way inspired by Frankie Magazine, I can’t get enough of it. Every article seems to give me the urge to get up and make something.

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I have to ask everyone I know this: what are some of your favorite books? My favorite book from childhood is Tuck Everlasting. I read it as a teenager and cried for days — I feel like it was the first time I truly understood the beauty and importance of living a full life, experiencing as much as you can, and appreciating the moments when you’re in them. I also love everything by Joan Didion, especially her essays on California. Nine Stories by Salinger.

Beautifully said. I love hearing about a book that changed someone’s life. Speaking of life changing- who is someone (or people) who have influenced or inspired you in your work or personal life?

My younger sister is devoting her life to empowering and growing communities around the world, and she constantly inspires me to remember the effects my work and my actions have on other people. I have her initial, E, tattooed on my forearm, as a constant reminder that I’m not all by myself (and not to get too caught up inside my own head). I’m also totally obsessed with Brene Brown’s work — her TED talk on the power of vulnerability actually changed my life and the way I interact with others.

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Has having a blog helped connect you to others who share your vision, and if so, how has that affected you?

Definitely. I think connecting with like-minded folks is the best reason for anyone and everyone to keep a blog. I just finished reading this book by Seth Godin called We Are All Weird and it’s about how the age of mass marketing is over, how the internet has allowed individuals to find their own “tribes” — basically, a group of other people who are the same kind of weird that you are —  and connect via your specific shared interests. I don’t expect or even want everyone to love my blog. I just make what I like, and trust that others in my tribe will connect with my work, and potentially hire or collaborate with me so I can keep making things I love. It’s so liberating to know that network exists and that we have this platform to find, share and connect with each other.

You’re a multitalented artist- skilled at lettering, product design, logo creation, illustration and more. What is your favorite and why? How did you first learn how to use this medium?

If I look back on my life thus far, the one thing that connects through everything I’ve done is the written word. I read constantly as a child, I used to write and wanted to be an author or journalist but decided in high school that I liked designing better than reporting. Even then, I worked in publication design jobs from my freshman year of college all the way up until last year when I went freelance and decided I wanted to focus on lettering and illustration. Now, when I take freelance jobs, they still tend to be for bloggers or writers, and I maintain a blog myself. I can’t escape! But in a good way — I hope I’m always able to work with letters and words. I’m fascinated by the many ways we use them to communicate.

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I love that. What are some words that have inspired you

 “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Kurt Vonnegut

Sometimes I think that heaven will be like a perfect Sunday. What does your perfect day look like? 

Coffee on the porch with a book or magazine, a long walk with my husband and our pups (maybe a hike!), a craft project, and a long stretch of time away from my phone, the internet or television. Sundays are the best day to unplug and reconnect with our more immediate world.

And for the most important part of the interview. We’re all dying to know: Who was your favorite Spice Girl and why? 

Baby! I always wanted to color my blonde hair at the ends like she did, but wasn’t quite bold enough. I went to the reunion concert in Chicago in 2008 with some friends. We all dressed up as our favorites, and I finally fulfilled my childhood dream and dyed the ends pink (in pigtails, of course).

Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on your wisdom and encouragement. I know It’s got me all pumped up.

Maggie, being the amazing person she is created a desktop wallpaper for you guys. So make your screen pretty with her calligraphy and check out her other work HERE.  You can also follow her @typeandtitle on Instagram to get a daily dose of her skills.

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Now go do amazing things friends. XO, K.

 

WCW// owner + founder of public relations/marketing firm

I am absolutely thrilled for this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday to introduce you to a mentor and friend of mine, Dawn Psaromatis.

While living in Austin, I worked as a Visual Communications Expert at Wellington Group where I was involved in the creative side of the business through graphic design, marketing, and branding. While working there, Dawn was not just my boss- she was a mentor, going out of her way to teach me the ropes of owning a business in an honest and transparent way. There are few women that have had as much impact in my professional and personal life as her. She, over the last few years, has truly taken me under her wing and helped me cultivate the confidence and skills to succeed. Her knowledge has given me the blueprints for developing my own creative business, and I would love to share her words with other women and men who are thirsty for entrepreneurial advice.

K: Dawn, please tell me about yourself. 

D: My name is Dawn Wellington Psaromatis, and I’m an entrepreneur, business owner, wife and soon-to-be mother. I love to laugh, I’m fiercely loyal, and I’m obsessed with checking the weather.

My company, Wellington Group, is a marketing, public relations and social media firm that delivers creative and strategic communications programs that generate powerful recognition of your brand, help you speak directly to your audience and engage customers to become advocates for your business.

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K: When did you first realize you wanted to start your own business? Is there a particular event that inspired you?

D: From managing my cookie and lemonade stand at my parents’ garage sales to launching a t-shirt business that came and went quickly (it was a huge flop, but there were many homeless people in Austin who received new shirts and a breakfast taco any chance I had to give them out), I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit.

In 2006, I started working for a company where I reported to the co-founder, who is an entrepreneur and inventor. He would share his knowledge with me, and I admired the company he built. I started doing some self-evaluation and realized most of my friends (and even the guys I dated) were entrepreneurs. In December 2006, I was in the recording studio working with a producer and someone who does music scoring for a weight-loss product that we represented. We were in the studio for some long, intense days. They were both entrepreneurs and we spoke, in depth, about their journey. I remember sitting with them one day and it was quiet when I said, “I think I’m going to start my own business.” That got things in motion.

K: That’s amazing! How did you settle on the idea of the Wellington Group?

D: I had some freelancing opportunities that I decided to pursue. It wasn’t easy. I had a full time job and then was freelancing on the side (I always say that it felt like I was having an affair with another job). Plus, I was traveling on the weekends for my full time job. It was a tough three months and I made a lot of sacrifices, but it was worth it.

K: Who and what did you find to be the greatest help in your earliest years of the company? 

D: My faith, family and friends were all things I relied on during the early years. I had a great support and referral network too. Later in my business, I started Sandler Training at Market Sense, did the MyEJ program through Acton School of Business and joined EO Accelerator – all three had a huge impact on growing my business.

Inside of the Wellington Group office.

Inside of the Wellington Group office.

K: What is your advice to other young entrepreneurs who have a desire to start their own business?

D: There will always be a good excuse not to do it. Don’t let excuses stop you. Surround yourself by people who know more than you. Find a support network. Read all the business books you can possibly read. Be willing to fail, fail fast and recover. And, most importantly, pray about it. If it’s God’s plan for you, you just have to put in the hard work and He’ll open the doors.

K: What are a few good first steps to take to make it a reality? 

D: I’m a big deadline, goals-driven, make a list and check it off kind of person. Set a deadline for yourself for when you want to actually go full time in your business and work backwards. For me, I had three months to secure a few clients, buy a computer and printer, have some business cards made up, decide on a business name, secure a website, set up emails and get my LLC.

K: Once the doors of a business are open, what are some important things to keep in mind/practice?

D: 1. Journal daily – this will be good for your mental state and keep you focused.

2.Grow and nurture your database – make sure every single person you meet goes into your database and market to them. This will be your biggest resource. Most business owners aren’t doing this.

K: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being the owner of your own business? 

D: Most entrepreneurs start a business focused around something they are really good at (for me it was PR and marketing). Then, as the business grows, they have to shift from doing the work to actually running the business. This can be a challenge – especially for someone, like me, who enjoys the creative-side of the business more. My business/sales coach has been encouraging me to find my creative outlet somewhere outside of my business.

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K: What is the most rewarding? 

D: The projects and campaigns we produce that yield stellar results for our clients (which usually means generating more leads and increasing brand awareness) is really rewarding. We love to Wow through service – it’s one of our core values.

K: What are the unique challenges of being a woman business owner? 

D: Most of our clients are men, and that’s never been a problem. We love our clients! However, after reading, Lean In, I was able to pinpoint and articulate what some challenges women face that men don’t – like how we bill, how assertive we should be, making decisions about raising kids and career, etc. There’s a reason most businesses that generate a million plus in revenue are owned by men. As women, we need to start addressing our challenges to fix this.

K: What is your advice for young women, particularly, (sorry boys!) in the work force of chasing their business ownership dreams? 

D: Read Lean In.

K: What is something you learned from being your own boss? 

D: My mood and energy (good or bad) can impact the whole office. I really have to keep things in check and sometimes leave things at the door when I walk through it.

K: How you stay inspired/ where do you get your inspiration?

D: My monthly accountability meetings, my weekly Sandler training class, talking to other business owners, reading business-related books, my team and sometimes taking time to step back and really take in all that I’ve accomplished all help keep me inspired.

K: I know that you are always out and about with adventures. What do you like to do in your free time?

D: I love being outside. My husband and I are also huge movie buffs – documentaries and indie films. I’m also a fan of trying new places and restaurants – it seems like there is something new opening up weekly in Austin.

K: Speaking of that city we love; if someone were to visit Austin, what would you suggest they experience?

D: There’s so much to experience here. I’d recommend catching some live music, trying local restaurants and food trailers, dipping into Barton Springs, running (or walking) Town Lake, and touring UT, the Capitol and downtown.

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K: You have always been an advocate for reading. What are your favorite books? Both personal and business minded?

D: War of Art, Built to Sell, Who, Good to Great, The E-Myth Revisited, Mastery,

Man’s Search for Meaning, East of Eden, and Pillars of the Earth

K: What are your favorite quotes or bits of advice you’ve heard?

D: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

 Feel the fear and do it anyway.

 Don’t sacrifice being successful for being liked.

 Fortune favors the bold.

 Wear sunscreen. 

K: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Enjoy the ride – every, single moment of it. It’s not always going to be easy (frankly, it can be darn right hard most of the time), but the adventure is so, so sweet.

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Isn’t she the greatest? You can check out the Wellington Group website here.

HUGE thank you to Dawn for the interview and inspiration. I hope her words can encourage anyone who is thinking about starting their own business, in any capacity, and to know that the opportunity is out there. Now it’s time for you to go after it.

XO, K.