Behind the Scenes interview series

Behind the Scenes: Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It

12 10 2013

What was a side-earner became a labour of love for Lisa Comfort, founder of Sew Over It.  Today, Lisa shares a peek behind the scenes of her business, the London-based sewing cafe which hosts classes, parties and shares tips and inspiration for wannabe sewers. The Red Hot Woman Award‘s One to Watch spills the beans….

Tell me a bit about your business, including how you went from business idea to ‘open for business’…
I own a sewing café in Clapham, London. We offer over 30 different  sewing classes, have a fabric and haberdashery shop and sell our own patterns and kits.  The idea came to me whilst I was still working in the bridal couture industry. I was teaching sewing to earn some extra money and realised I loved teaching more than my day job. I spent the next six months planning how a sewing teaching business could work, from marketing plans, cash flow forecasts and the rest. I then spent another few months finding the right property before launching in May 2011.
[Tweet “”I was teaching sewing to earn some extra money and realised I loved teaching more than my day job” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]
 
Describe your typical day/week schedule.
I now only spend three days a week at the shop as opposed to six the first year! When I am at the shop I usually teach in the morning. I like to teach our beginner classes and pass on my passion for sewing to those testing it out for the first time. After lunch I have meetings or develop new classes with my team. When I am not at the shop I am usually working from home, visiting wholesalers or running events. We have started running events in major retail stores such as Selfridges, River Island, H&M, Miss Selfridge and more recently, Gap.
 
How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?
Compartmentalising my week into shop and teaching days and days working from home helps me stay organised. When I am at the shop I cannot do admin and the business side of things – I do this when I am working from home. I try to make sure I have one day a week when I don’t have meetings and can be at home so I can get all the serious stuff done. But most weeks I have to be pretty flexible as events and other bits pop up and so I end up working late or at weekends.
[Tweet “”Compartmentalising my week into shop and teaching days and days working from home helps me stay organised” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]
 
What are your essential office tools?
My computer!
 
Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?
I use Google products a lot. Google Analytics is great for seeing peaks in activity and finding out where and why people are coming to our site. I also use Google Alerts. Then of course Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, which we couldn’t do without!
 
Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?
At home I have a very calming space. I work from our spare bedroom. The room is painted pale greys and blues which I find really relaxing. I also have to make sure the space I work in isn’t cluttered as I cant concentrate with mess around me.
 
What book has most inspired you?
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini as this made me realise how strong women can be. If I am having a bad day, it helps me put things in perspective and pick myself back up.
 
What’s your typical working lunch?
I often work through lunch and sometimes even skip eating which is a bad habit. I try not to as I notice my energy levels dip and, when you work as much as I do, it is important to feed the body and mind!
 
And how do you switch off once the working day is done?
A glass of wine and a good film or boxset usually does it. Otherwise my new yoga class does the trick!
 
What makes your life sparkle?
Feeling lucky every time I walk into my shop and I think, I created this. Seeing happy customers and happy staff. That really makes it feel all worthwhile.
[Tweet “”I feel lucky every time I walk into my shop and I think, I created this. Seeing happy customers and happy staff -that really makes it feel all worthwhile” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]
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Behind the Scenes: Ring Cozy founder Ana Maria Muñoz

11 05 2013

As much as any form of networking event puts the fear of God into me, I can’t deny that you just can’t beat meeting someone in person to get a real feel for them and their business.  I busted out of that comfort zone back in December 2011 when I took a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to the London bloggers meet up.  It was there that I met the lovely Ana Maria Muñoz, known to her friends as Anamu.  Since then, Ana has tied the knot, spent 18 months living in the beautiful Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and launched a new product business, Ring Cozy.  Today, she shares a peek behind the scenes of her location-independent business…

 

Welcome Ana.  Please introduce yourself to The Glitterati…:

I’m Ring Leader at Ring Cozy, blogger and creative travel bug at anamublog.com

ring cozy 
Tell me a bit about your business:
Ring Cozy is a ring protector that I designed after constantly worrying about my engagment ring getting damaged or lost during hands-on activities. You can wear it while playing sports, swimming, working out, or simply playing in the great outdoors … it let’s you enjoy/do more and worry less about the state of your cherished ring. I take one everywhere I go, always ready for action! 

Describe your typical day/week schedule.
It’s been unpredictable lately since my husband and I just moved from Malaysia back to my hometown, Los Angeles, for a while. Before the move, a typical day would start at 6 or 6:30am. We don’t have any children so the early rise while in Malaysia was more for checking on any urgent emails or calls from the States as we were 16 hours ahead. If there were no such emails or calls scheduled, I enjoyed taking a quiet morning to drink tea while going through personal emails and getting caught up on the news and social media. A work out would be next, followed by breakfast and a shower.  By 9am I would be back at my desk ready to work on the day’s tasks.  Those tasks mainly consisted of emails with manufacturers, research, design, web admin, planning, and every little bit that comes with starting a new product-based business. For lunch I’d whip something up at home or meet my husband or friends at a nearby cafe. A few times a week I’d run errands so that we could have more free time during the weekend and not have to deal with grocery or dry cleaner runs. I’d be back to work around 3pm always with the goal of wrapping up before my husband came home but you know how things never really wrap up  when you work for yourself from your own home! At night I’d work on my personal blog and make any phone calls to/from the US East Coast after 9pm. Lights out was usually around 11:30pm.
 
Now back in L.A., my typical day will eventually look a lot like it did in Malaysia minus the time zone differences. Right now my schedule is a bit all over the place as we settle back in but I’m excited for the face-to-face opportunities I’ll have for sales, marketing, manufacturing, and events that were not possible while living in Malaysia. I’ll definitely be making the most of that during the next few months to expand Ring Cozy’s reach beyond the website where we currently sell directly to customers. 
 
How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?
I thought I was great at time management until I started working for myself! With no one else to give me timelines and directions, I quickly learned that I had to take smaller yet more impactful steps on a daily basis to get anything accomplished. This is what I came up with: to start, I write every action item that comes to mind into either a WORK notebook or a PERSONAL notebook. Everyday I pick at least three action items from the work notebook and two to three from the personal one based on what can and must be done that day. Those selected items get written onto a notecard that I post above my desk and cross off as I go through the day completing each task. That night or the next day I cross those same ones off of the master lists, or notebooks, and start all over again with a blank notecard. I know that it’s totally archaic in a world of Evernotes but it’s the only thing that’s consistently worked for me so far. And if anything else, I love flipping through the notebooks of crossed out items and seeing how far I’ve come with each little step … It makes me feel proud and keeps me motivated to do more. 

[Tweet “”With no one else to give me timelines and directions, I quickly learned that I had to take smaller yet more impactful steps on a daily basis to get anything accomplished” @Anamu via @EmmaGwillim”]
What are your essential office tools?
I keep my office tools pretty simple (I maybe use a paper clip once in a while?) but what my desk can’t live without is my drawing pad. Using the drawing pen is much easier for me than working the track-pad since I did some damage to my right hand while working in retail during college (carrying too many heavy loads of clothes on hangers). Anything I can do to avoid the redundancy of the“click” action is huge.

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?
There are some great resources at our fingertips but I would first recommend finding  local women’s entrepreneurial groups where you can engage with women who are going through what you’re going through or have been there, done that and can help guide you. I joined SMARTY here in LA earlier this year and it’s been amazing to attend Brain Circles during my visits. You just can’t beat face-time interactions. 
[Tweet “”You just can’t beat face-time interactions” @Anamu on networking via @EmmaGwillim”] 
Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work? 
I always try to start off with a semi-sparse space but little by little a collection of objects and papers find their way in. I can’t help but post something that catches my attention, be it colors, patterns, texture, text, or simply a personal souvenir. That’s the designer in me and I think that it fuels the curiosity necessary to keep moving into new and bold directions…with this business or any future ones.

What book has most inspired you?
Most recently, The Lean Start Up. Though some remnants still exist, I used to be a borderline perfectionist. I say borderline because I would still move forward with something after some time even if it wasn’t perfect but that time spent always cost me too much in one way or another. The Lean Start Up clued me in on the fact that a product and a business is always a work in progress so there’s no point in waiting until the design, the packaging, the website, the master plan, the whatever is perfect because even after you think it’s perfect and spent all that time making it so, it still may need some tweaking. Actually, it will most definitely go through some tweaking. The more nimble you are, and less time you waste, the better. 
[Tweet “”The more nimble you are, and less time you waste, the better” @Anamu via @EmmaGwillim”]
What’s your typical working lunch?
Me, my laptop on the coffee table, and a show via Apple TV.
 
And how do you switch off once the working day is done?
Cooking dinner or baking. Not that I claim to be amazing at either but being in the kitchen works all of the senses so differently from being in front (and on) the computer all day. I don’t always feel like cooking but when I do want to get in there, it’s a really enjoyable, tangible experience.

What makes your life sparkle?
Having an adventurous, silly, loving, and supportive partner in crime who believes in me in ways that I don’t even see for myself sometimes. He may have given me the sparkly ring that inspired Ring Cozy but he gives me so much more each and every day. 
 

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Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Jarrett

09 24 2013

If you too have a love affair with all things yoga, check out Jennifer Jarrett, a San Francisco-based Bhakti Flow yoga teacher.   Jennifer discovered the path of yoga while facing the pressures of a “real” job, loving how the practice was able to quieten her mind and feel more connected, and now leads classes, retreats and teacher training.  I’d recommend her Get Up and Go sequence – it’s 15 minutes well spent… (Don’t you just love the yoga leggings?!)

Tell me a bit about your business:

I am a yoga teacher, although it always feels a little funny to call myself a yoga ‘teacher’ when I’m not sure that I actually teach yoga so much as do my very best to share the gifts of a practice that has transformed and opened my heart and my life. My intention behind all that I do is to be of service to others and to do what I can to help and encourage others to live the lives they want to live. I believe in the practice with my whole heart. It is the way to stop existing outside of ourselves, to stop hovering without, and to instead take this incredible pilgrimage right into the heart of who we are. And, within that greater purpose, the practice is a place of incredible refuge and connection. It is a place where you don’t have to think about a thing and you can just be – I love that! I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to lead yoga classes and witness people have even just a moment of reprieve from whatever is going on in their bigger lives. I am also a very amateur writer. I am so excited to announce here that I have recently decided to honor a commitment that I made to my mother and am going to begin writing my first book this year!

[Tweet “”My intention behind all that I do is to be of service to others and to do what I can to help and encourage others to live the lives they want to live” @jjyoga via @emmagwillim”]

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

Currently there is no typical to my daily/weekly schedule which, while offering a lot of room for spontaneity and creativity, also leaves me very dependent on my calendar to tell me where I need to be next. Because my teaching schedule of late has involved quite a bit of traveling, I have been spending a lot of time in airports and on planes; places which are always ripe with opportunity to really practice yoga and patience!

How do you plan and organize your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer? 

Because I do not have a set schedule right now, I must stay very disciplined in sitting down to work and staying with whatever project is at hand while resisting the temptation to just do it later. My biggest challenges are staying focused until I have reached an appropriate stopping point.  I am the queen of procrastination so having open time is a huge challenge to me! I can so easily convince myself that there is something more interesting that I could be doing and will just put things off until the pressure’s on, which definitely doesn’t do me any favours! I find it really helpful to break up my work into chunks of time and to commit to sitting down for an hour or two at a time and being completely focused on what I am doing. Sometimes I even set a timer for myself and if I am being really productive when the timer goes off, then I stick with it. Another really important thing for me is to just focus on one thing at a time. I am so inefficient when I am trying to multi-task and end up wasting more time.  I am also a huge fan of lists! They help to keep me focused and productive and I will always love the act of checking the completion box next to each item.

What are your essential office tools?

Really all I need is my computer, my yoga mat and some fresh air.

[Tweet “”Really all I need is my computer, my yoga mat and some fresh air” @jjyoga via @emmagwillim”]

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

It is very important to me to work in a space that allows me to feel calm and clear. My space needs to be clean and un-cluttered with really nice lighting and an open window. The space within which I work really impacts the kind of work I create. If my space feels cluttered and chaotic, I feel cluttered and chaotic and then my work becomes cluttered and chaotic.

What’s your typical working lunch?

A typical working lunch for me is meeting one of my friends or colleagues for a big, organic salad and discussing our current challenges, concerns, sources of inspiration, dreams, ambitions and just spending quality time together. So much goodness comes from that!

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

Some days it is easier to switch off than others. There are many nights when I will lie awake analysing everything I said in class that day, questioning and doubting and critiquing; wondering if I did an OK job or if I just managed to turn everyone off me and yoga entirely. It’s amazing what we can do to ourselves when we allow our minds to run wild! To slow this down, and to eventually switch off, I will sit in quiet meditation for a few minutes, just watching the rise and fall of my breath.  Another really wonderful way for me to switch gears is to write in my Gratitude Journal, continuing the very long list of everything that I am grateful for in my life. If I am already in bed and don’t feel like getting up to put pen to paper, I will simply go through the day and mentally list everything for which I’m grateful.

[Tweet “”To slow down and eventually switch off I will sit in quiet meditation for a few minutes, just watching the rise and fall of my breath” @jjyoga via @emmagwillim”]

What makes your life sparkle?

This list literally goes on and on for me but some of my constants are… my huge and crazy family, my incredibly inspiring friends, my dog, my health and the health of those that I love, rainbows, boat rides, champagne, that someone was smart enough to combine chocolate and peanut butter, deep belly laughter, tears that accompany cleansing cries, French fries, travel, those songs that inspire you to sing as loud as you can, driving with the windows down, green juice, time together, backbends, long baths, hope, the promise of love, choosing love…

 

Jennifer is a yoga teacher in San Francisco who loves to laugh until it hurts, eat good food, travel to wherever the sun is shining, snuggle with her Labradoodle, Ruby, and spend as much time as possible with friends and family. She teaches in San Francisco and leads workshops around the country, sharing the practice of Bhakti Flow, the yoga of love and devotion.  Say hello to Jennifer at her website, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Behind the Scenes... A Tiny Arrow

09 10 2013

A Tiny Arrow is all about creating clothing and accessories for a magical childhood.  The collection of feather crowns and clips are so beautiful – what little girl wouldn’t look adorable with one of these creations in her hair.  Inspired by her own daughter, Janis Wales began A Tiny Arrow just this springtime… and already demand for her intricate creations are rightly on an upward trajectory.  Janis kindly shares a peek behind the scenes of her fledgling business today…

Hi Janis, please introduce yourself to the Glitterati Girls…

I’m Janis Wales, owner and designer A Tiny Arrow

Tell me a bit about your business:

My business is all about fun and whimsical creations for little ones. Right now I am mainly focused on feather crowns and clips, but I also have a few other accessories…and moccasins are coming soon! I plan on expanding to clothing sometime next year

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

Well, up until a week ago I had a full time job so a typical day meant waking up at 6am to reply to emails, update my shop and despatch orders from the previous day. Then, my daughter Arrow would usually get up around 8am. I’d make her breakfast, play for half an hour and then get myself ready and it was off to work. I was the Director of Merchandising for an apparel company for 11 years. When I got home around 6pm, I would make Arrow dinner, play, give her a bath, read a book, sing a song and she was off to sleep. Then around 8:30pm it was time to start working on my business, often until about 1am. This would repeat every day. A Tiny Arrow was growing so quickly that I could no longer keep up with both so I made the decision to quit my day job and focus all of my attention on my business instead. It’s only been a week so, right now, I’m playing catch up. Now, my day starts at 6am.  I answer emails, update my shop and make Arrow breakfast…then get to work.  I’ll take little breaks throughout the day to play a game, go outside and draw or spend time with Arrow but I am pretty much working on my business all day. Unfortunately I am still working to about 1am until I can get caught up..I hope!

customHow do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

My time is not really organised at all right now! I wish I could say it was. I started this business about 5 months ago and have been really fortunate to have it grow so quickly…but with that has come plenty of challenges. I just moved into a new office in our home and I have slowly been organising all of my supplies. I know I need to make the time to get organised because, in the long run, it will make my process more efficient but I am so busy I haven’t set aside the time to do it. It’s also a new challenge working from home. It’s so tempting to stop what I am doing and spend all day with my daughter – and it doesn’t help that she can see me and doesn’t understand why I’m not playing with her. (This is why I am moving to a new office in the house!)  I think the only tip I can give right now is to go easy on yourself. You can’t do everything all at once. Set goals and come up with a plan that is realistic. Don’t try to be everything to everyone – as long as you are passionate about what you are doing, people will notice! 

[Tweet “”Don’t try to be everything to everyone – as long as you are passionate about what you are doing, people will notice!” Janis of @atinyarrow via @emmagwillim”]

What are your essential office tools?

I absolutely need tweezers, tiny embroidery scissors and lots of containers. I have so many little odds and ends that I work with… I have to have all kinds of different storage containers to house them in so I don’t lose my mind.

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

I don’t know how they do it but every time I get an email from Paper & Stitch it’s like they were reading my mind.  There is a great section on the blog that is dedicated to the business of being creative and I swear every time I’m thinking of something or wondering how to do something…they’ll suddenly have a post about it.

I also cannot live without the app Afterlight. I use it to edit every last one of my photos.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style. 

I am just transitioning into my new home office and I couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s a nice wide open space surrounded by windows and lots of natural light. It’s a small separated building from our home so I will be able to work uninterrupted. The biggest plus is the room is wired up for playing music…loud, which is key for me. Music keeps me motivated and inspired!

lolaHow does it motivate/focus your work?

Having this space separate from our main home is huge! It was really hard working inside the house since Arrow didn’t understand why I wasn’t playing with her all day. I felt horrible. I started this business to hopefully be able to spend more time with her…but during this transitional time I really need to focus and get my business functioning on a true schedule.

What book has most inspired you?

I used to read all the time.  Now I barely have time to read my own mail. I wish I had a book to tell you about…but I’m not even going to try to make one up.

What’s your typical working lunch?

Lunch is a luxury right now.  Lately I’ve been making fresh fruit and vegetable juice every day for lunch. It’s quick and I feel energized again after drinking it.

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

My working day doesn’t end until about 1am so shutting off is falling asleep…and it is the best feeling ever!

What makes your life sparkle?

My daughter is definitely the sparkle in my life. She is what motivates and inspires all that I do. She is the reason I started this little venture and I am so excited to see where it goes!

If you want to see more of Janis’ beautiful work, visit A Tiny Arrow shop on Etsy or say hello on Facebook.

Images: {1} {2} {3}

 

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Behind the Scenes with Kelle Boyd of Anne Kelle Designs

09 03 2013

AnnKelle is the story of a childhood dream rekindled.  As a child Kelle says she loved to draw.  She’d proudly carry around the sketches of her own clothing line and wedding dresses in her school backpack.  But, when she grew up, she traded in her coloured pencils for a career in public policy.  It was while she was working for the Mayor of Nashville that Kelle’s path led her to a local craft store where she decided to buy some art supplies as a stress reliever.  In a flash, her creative streak was reignited.  Kelle’s renewed passion turned into a business, Ann Kelle Designs.  Now a sucessful woman entrepreneur, Kelle is proud to have caught the attention of her peers and her gorgeous designs are sold in small boutiques as well as large US retailers, Target and Barnes & Noble.  

We’re lucky today to get a peek behind the scenes of Kelle’s business…

Hi Kelle, please introduce yourself to the Glitterati Girls… 

I’m Kelle Boyd, the girl behind Ann Kelle. I currently design paper goods, personalised stationery and fabric.

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

No day or week is the same. I work Monday through Friday (and most Saturdays). My hours are flexible. If I get a late start, then I work through the evening. Some days I start early and end late.

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

I’m a list girl. Each week there are different deadlines and work tasks that must be completed. I write them down in my calendar for the week and then assign those to certain days. I try to have at LEAST one day where all I do is design. Those days are the best! A special tip is to be sure to give yourself a day off. I know it’s hard, especially in the beginning. But, I think it’s so important. For me, I don’t work on Sundays. I don’t talk about work, try not to think about work . . . I have the day off.

[Tweet “”I try to have at LEAST one day where all I do is design. Those days are the best!” @annkelledesigns via @emmagwillim”]

What are your essential office tools?

My Mac laptop, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Whenever there’s a storm alert and I go to my safe place, I always grab my laptop.

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

I use Quickbooks for accounting. I still have an accountant, but Quickbooks helps me keep everything organised. I try to do “bookkeeping” at least once a month, so everything doesn’t pile up.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

I work better if the environment is clean, organised and bright. My walls are white, as well as my furniture. I have a huge inspiration board, which is a mixture of my designs and other photos that inspire me and help me stay focused on my brand.

What book has most inspired you?

The Dot by Peter Reynolds. This book inspired me as an artist. When I was a child I drew all the time. My dream was to be a designer, but I wasn’t confident in my art. Sadly, I eventually left my childhood passion of art. It wasn’t until 15 years later that I picked up a paint brush again.  This book spoke to the little girl in me that didn’t believe in her art.

AnnKelle-fabric

What’s your typical working lunch?

I don’t like eating at my desk. I like to step away even if it’s for ten minutes. I work from home, so thankfully the kitchen is just around the corner. I typically eat a meal I’ve already prepared for lunch, left overs or I walk up the street to this local cafe to grab a salad.

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

I enjoy my job, so it’s hard to turn it off.

What makes your life sparkle?

God

AnnKelle-stationery If you want to check out Kelle’s beautiful work, head over to her website or you can say hello on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Behind The Scenes with Sarah Tucker Events

08 27 2013

As our second wedding anniversary approaches, I’m getting a little misty-eyed thinking back to our big day.  Hand on heart I wouldn’t change a thing… BUT looking through some of Sarah Tucker’s work gives me heaps of inspiration for a re-do! Enjoy taking a peek behind the scenes of Sarah Tucker Events

Hi Sarah!  Would you like to introduce yourself to the Glitterati Girls:

I’m Sarah, the founder of Sarah Tucker Events

Tell me a bit about your business: 

It’s a boutique wedding design, style and coordination studio.  I love creating environments for weddings that reflect the stylish couples well.  I love orchestrating weddings to go smoothly and for all to feel at ease – the couple, the bridal party and guests. 

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

It is 100% different since my son came into the world!    I used to work, work, work… now I feel like I work smarter and harder.

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer? 

I love my day designer by Whitney English – it has helped me tremendously!  I have RescueTime downloaded on my computer to check-in weekly on what I’m spending my screen time on.  It’s been a huge help to identify where I’m wasting time.  I believe in setting your clothes out before you go to bed, and preparing before you go to bed for the next day.  It really starts you on the right track. 

What are your essential office tools? 

I can never have enough scissors!  As well as my Mac laptop, ipad, Photoshop, BlogStomp and Lightroom

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

I love Think Splendid, a social media consultant for the wedding and hospitality industries.  Her advice is always on point! 

What book has most inspired you? 

Rework by Jason Fried

What’s your typical working lunch? 

I love to go out to lunch and get out of the house since I’m at home much of the day.  I try to plan about two days a week to go out to lunch.  The rest of the time it’s leftovers from dinner I cooked the night before, or a turkey sandwich and some veggies. 

And how do you switch off once the working day is done? 

It’s so hard to do!  So much of what I do is what I love to do so I’m often finding inspiration for my next project or current project from my own life.  However, when I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation.  I work hard to align everything so I can breathe easy and enjoy my vacation. 

What makes your life sparkle? 

My faith and family.  All of it could be gone tomorrow but if I had them, I would still count myself richly blessed.  

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Behind the Scenes with Alicia Cowan

08 21 2013

Hello Alicia. Please introduce yourself to the Glitterati Girls:

I’m Alicia Cowan, social media + online marketing mentor at AliciaCowan.com, and creator of the online training community Twitter Brilliance.

Tell me a bit about your business:

I demystify social media and online marketing for solo workers and entrepreneurs. I teach them how to create buzz for their business and be brilliant online using time efficient, results oriented systems so that they can enjoy the business and life of their dreams!

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

The beauty of running my own business means that I get to choose my schedule, and I like to keep things varied! I listen to my body and energy levels – sometimes that means starting at 8am, other times it’s 11am.  The time I start will determine when I finish but if I start early I like to take an extra long break for lunch and begin my ‘second shift’ working into the evening.

I’ve got the worst habit of reaching for my phone the moment I wake up no matter what time it is. Checking the time ALWAYS leads to browsing my emails, social media and the weather (what can I say? I’m a weather obsessed Brit!). It actually works for me because it means I’m not distracted by emails as a first task when I start work – I’ve already done it.

After I’ve fed Humphrey, my cat, I rustle up a nutrient-packed green smoothie and mentally prepare for the day. Three times a week that involves a 4 mile run in the park where I have my best ideas. Sometimes I’ll be blessed with a shopping list of beauties. So desperate am I to remember them that I have to race back home to note them down. Then, I get on with my day…

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

Over the years I’ve learnt to plan my time according to my needs and energy zones. For instance, I’m not great in the morning – I hit my best time after lunch so I don’t schedule important meetings or calls too early.

This works well for me as many of my contacts, team and clients are based in the US who are up to 9 hours behind where I’m based in London and Ibiza so I do most of my own business planning and marketing in the morning. It’s not unusual for me to be working into the evening.

I plan my next week out before finishing up on a Friday but I love to lock everything down on Mondays getting a head start on big tasks and I use Fridays as a ‘mop up’ day to clear the decks before the weekend. That means I usually keep meetings to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Email is my biggest distraction so I keep it closed for big chunks of the day. Another distraction which is harder to control is social media! As it’s part of my business I often have to go check things on Facebook or Twitter and invariably the moment I’m in I lose myself and momentarily forget why I’m there! A good tip I practice is remembering my intention before jumping in so that I can do what I need and jump out again without too much interruption.

My biggest challenge when planning my time is that my days can easily span 12-15 hours. This used to be a regular occurrence but having burnt myself out working long hours and 7 day weeks in the past I have more discipline now. These days I’m mindful of why I choose to work for myself – the freedom and lifestyle that creates for me – so I make a point of making the most of that.

[Tweet “”I’m mindful of why I choose to work for myself, the freedom and lifestyle that creates for me, so I make a point of making the most of that” @AbsoluteAlicia via @EmmaGwillim”]

What are your essential office tools?

I can’t work without…

Seize the Year planner – a lovely designed wall planner for the year. It’s not only functional but also looks great! Mapping out my year and seeing it laid out in front of me keeps me focussed, motivated and inspired. 

My desktop PC is a big hulk of a thing with lots of memory and I have a Mac Air for when I’m working away from my office. Plus my iPhone – it’s my back pocket computer.

Notepads – my guilty work pleasure. I’m forever scribbling in notebooks and doing that in a nice book is much more fun and productive than on the back of an envelope!

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

I have soooo many but here are my top picks…

Hootsuite and Buffer for managing my social media marketing. I believe without tools like these you can’t successfully manage your online marketing and expect results from your efforts.

Google Apps for everything from email, my calendar and documents so I can easily share them with my team, and access them from anywhere.

Trello is a new addition for me. I’m using it to manage the 4th launch of Twitter Brilliance happening in October. It’s a free and really intuitive project management system to share out tasks with my team. I LOVE it.

Contactually is a really fabulous contact manager that helps me manage my relationships with private clients and prospects. Follow-ups are key for running a successful coaching business and Contactually helps me do that easily saving me time and brain space.

Dropbox. This has been an invaluable tool since I started my business over four years ago. It’s ideal for file sharing, especially big files, and it means I can access my files wherever I am – whether I’m on my desktop or working from my laptop in Ibiza or my iPhone on the go.

Skype for keeping in touch with mostly everyone. Many of my 1:1 client sessions and consultancy calls happen over Skype, although Google Hangout is becoming a firm favourite for mastermind sessions and  group meetings.

As for websites, I’m a regular contributor to Women Unlimited and I also love the digital monthly magazine This Girl Means Business – both have fabulous articles and tools to inspire and educate female entrepreneurs.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

It was always my intention to be location independent so that I could work from anywhere I choose. It means that working from cafes, my garden or Ibiza, where I’ve recently bought an apartment with my husband, is easy. I love the feeling of space and freedom that presents.

Saying that, I get more done working in my home office and prefer the familiarity of a base. That’s why having a place in Ibiza is a perfect solution for me.

I strongly believe that working should be a pleasurable experience so wherever I am I make my workspace as inviting and comfortable as possible. I want it to be a space that’s practical and also soothes, motivates and inspires me creatively. My essential office items are all within easy reach and I add finishing touches; fun notepads, fresh flowers, candles, mood lighting and my favourite music making my work more of an entertaining past time than hard graft.

[Tweet “”I strongly believe that working should be a pleasurable experience” @AbsoluteAlicia via @emmagwillim”]

What book has most inspired you?

Wow, so many! The books I’ve read most recently that had a profound affect on my outlook are Start With Why by Simon Sinek and Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. Next on my reading list is Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.

What’s your typical working lunch?

I always start the day with a powerful green smoothie to rev me up for the day. I make enough for an extra hit mid afternoon. Lunch is usually something light – fresh fruit, some rice cakes with almond butter and banana. Yum!

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

Even though I often work into the evening I don’t work too late – for me that spells doom for a good night’s sleep. My working day ends when my husband comes home or Humphrey nags me to pay him attention.

My wind down process starts with me checking my schedule for the next day, giving my desk a tidy and switching everything off in my office (so I can’t sneak back in to do ‘just one more thing’).

I’ll catch up with Matt, maybe watch some TV, read a book. I’m learning Spanish and spend 15-30 minutes a day on that. In the evening I make a point of trying not to check my phone for emails, Twitter or Facebook updates. Working in social media, that’s a hard ask!

What makes your life sparkle?

Having the freedom to create a business I love and knowing that I’m helping many other business owners do the same by helping them get their message out into the world. Meeting countless business owners online – learning and being inspired by them everyday thanks to social media and the internet – that gives me goosebumps! Hanging out with my husband,Matt, Humphrey the cat and friends in the sunshine.


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Alicia Cowan is a social media and online marketing mentor for solo workers, and creator of the online Twitter training community, Twitter Brilliance.  Having been featured on ProBlogger and Social Media Examiner, in 2013 TopRank named her one of the UK’s top 50 online marketing influencers and bloggers.

Alicia combines her love of systems and marketing geekery with straight talking clarity. Finding simple ways for her clients to attract more business buzz in an authentic and practical way is what she gets excited about.

You can sign up for her bitesize marketing tips here

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Behind the Scenes: Emily Surash of Piccolo Bambino

08 06 2013

Multi-tasking mummy of two and founder of Piccolo Bambino, a contemporary children’s toys, gifts and clothing online shop, shares a peek behind the scenes of her business and her tips for managing entrepreneurship alongside her most-important role raising her own little bambinos.

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What’s your title/position:

I’m Emily Surash, founder and owner of Piccolo Bambino.

Tell me a bit about your business:

I worked as a nurse until having my second child. I found shift work just didn’t fit in with raising my two children.  This is when I decided to set up Piccolo Bambino.

I’d spent many years looking at the different products on the market for babies and toddlers and always thought it would be a great idea to bring all the different things I’d seen and love together into one web shop. I love things that are a little different, things that have a retro twist or a vintage feel.  I want the products on Piccolo Bambino to be different from those the leading retailers are selling.  I also knew that I wanted to support UK designers and other small companies, such a designer-makers on Handmade in Britain.  I did a lot of internet research which helped me get an idea of the different products available and contacted small UK designers to see if they would be interested in stocking some products on Piccolo Bambino.

I feel Piccolo Bambino offers gorgeous modern gifts and toys that are unique, contemporary and yet have a vintage feel.  We stock a wide range of mealtime dining sets, bibs and wooden spoons, cuddly toys and comfort blankets to keep your little ones happy at bedtime. When they want to play, we have an adorable range of soft and wooden toys. We also now stock handmade children’s clothes, which are just adorable.

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

Schedule, what’s a schedule? I work around my two children who are four and two. This means I grab whenever I can during the day and do most of my work after 7pm once they are in bed. You can usually find me still up at midnight, this seems to be when I have most of my ideas!!! I do however now have the luxury of two hours to myself on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Although two hours isn’t a long time it gives me chance to check my emails and respond without being interrupted. Everyday is different as during the day my mummy jobs come first.

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

I organise each day as it comes. I usually know at the beginning of the week what things I need to do so I write a list and tick each thing off as I’ve done it. I wouldn’t know where I was without my never-ending list! Working in the daytime is played by ear depending on what the children are doing.  I bought a laptop when I first set-up my business which has been a lifesaver. I’m able to always have it open so I can have quick looks throughout the day at my emails, Twitter and Facebook.  Social networks have been a fantastic tool for promoting Piccolo Bambino.

[Tweet “”One thing to really remember when you are working from home and looking after children is having you time” – @piccolobambin0 (via @emmagwillim)”]One thing to really remember when you are working from home and looking after children is having you time. I sometimes forget and it can get to the end of the week and I’ve not really seen my husband or sat away from my laptop in an evening. My husband is very supportive but time as a couple is very important.

PBWhat are your essential office tools?

I wouldn’t be able to run Piccolo Bambino without my laptop. I am able to move it anywhere in or out of the house and still be in control. When I first set the business up I thought I would be able to manage with a desktop computer – I was so wrong. My laptop really enables me to fit my business around my home life. I also couldn’t be without my bubble wrap, brown paper and parcel tape!

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

I would recommend Mumpreneur UK, a support network for mums in business that offers advice, resources, articles and events to parents who run their own business.  I know people who use this and say they do get a lot out of it.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

I have a desk and a red chair. I love my chair but I don’t really sit at it that much! The only time I do sit at it is when I’m doing my bookkeeping. Mostly, I work at the dining room table or on the floor. I’ve never been any different – all the way through my education I worked like that!

What book has most inspired you?

When I read it’s to relax and unwind from a busy day so I try to pick light-hearted fiction. If I can change the word ‘book’ in the question to magazine then I can easily answer it! The magazines that have most inspired me whilst setting up Piccolo Bambino are all the ones baby related! I do love Juno and Junior. They keep me on trend and are very interesting to see what’s the ‘in’ baby thing of the moment.

What’s your typical working lunch?

I eat lunch with my bambinos, so once I have collected them from playgroup/nursery we go home for lunch together. I try to make different things every day of the week.  Today we have had BBQ leftovers which was yummy!

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

To be honest, I struggle.  I have to say it’s something I’m not very good at. If I’ve been working in the evening I always try to switch off by 10pm and watch the news, but more often once its finished I pick my laptop up again!! It’s something I really need to work on.

What makes your life sparkle?

My family – need I say more

 

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Behind the Scenes with Stephanie L. Howitt of SLH Lifestyle & Concierge

07 30 2013

Introducing Stephanie L. Howitt, the guardian angel of fashion, style and design at SLH Lifestyle & Concierge.  Stephanie is a former model, trained stylist and designer with a business degree and who is an advocate for entrepreneurial women in business. Based in Manhattan, Stephanie’s company offers lifestyle consulting and design services for personal styling, interiors and events for clients in New York City, The Hamptons and the Gold Coast of Long Island. Today Stephanie gives us a peek behind the scenes of her glamorous business.

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What’s your title/position: 

Designer, blogger, and founder of SLH Lifestyle + Concierge

Tell me a bit about your business:

I started premier lifestyle management company, SLH Lifestyle + Concierge in an effort to provide efficient living solutions for clients living in the New York area. The company is a multifaceted venture, offering lifestyle consulting and design services in four key areas of an individual’s world: image, style, interiors and events. In addition, my company offers private concierge services, errand services and travel itinerary planning to offer a full-service experience. Our services are individually tailored to the needs of our clients. We provide them with the opportunity to become the best version of themselves while affording the newly found time to live a more memorable life.

Aside from SLH Lifestyle + Concierge, I am also the primary contributor for three lifestyle blogs which share luxe tips for living life more brilliantly: SLH Lifestyle, Long Island Pulse Magazine’s Gold Coast Style and Hampton Style.  

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

My work schedule is never typical! Like most business owners, it’s all hands on deck. I find what most people don’t know about entrepreneurs is that they tend to put in effort long after the normal workday, completing tasks that help shape the future of their business, without necessarily seeing an immediate return. I start the day like many by checking emails, responding to client calls, setting up appointments or preparing interesting content for a blog post. I end the day by updating our social media platforms, preparing media kits for the next business day or strategising and developing ideas for design and organisational projects.

SLH Lifestyle & Concierge website

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

I’ve always been neat + able to naturally organise my time in an efficient manner, which is crucial to the success of any business let alone one that provides organisational services and lifestyle solutions.

[Tweet “”I’ve always been neat + able to naturally organise my time in an efficient manner, which is crucial to the success of any business let alone one that provides organisational services and lifestyle solutions” @SLHLifeStyle (via @emmagwillim)”] Clients seek our services in an effort to correct their organisational or time management issues.  As a designer and blogger, I am constantly being inspired and capturing inspiration whether it is for a project or story using my iPhone, camera or Moleskine notebook. 

What are your essential office tools?

After graduating from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, I made the jump to Apple products and have never looked back. As a business owner, I find it’s important to have consistency regarding office tools. By doing so, I find everything can run seamlessly between my MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhones. Aside from my Apple tools, I have a neat receipts scanner for Mac, which allows me to scan every business card and receipt in a digital file system. This allows me to eliminate the clutter of receipts while keeping records of everything. It is also crucial that every business owner back-up his or her computer. I back up all my business files, photographs, posts, projects, and client information once a week. I also use a shredder when working with personal information regarding my clients.

Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

The perks of social media are endless. It helps one to network, connect with possible clients, showcase your expertise, advertise your business, create consistency and enhance your presence on the web.  It is a cost-effective solution that every entrepreneurial woman should capitalise on. I also believe it’s important to have a company blog. It provides a forum to personally connect with your audience and gives your company a voice aside from your website. I use the Square app with clients: the square reader easily connects to a mobile device allowing me to instantly accept credits.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

My company workspace is clean and functional; I utilised the small space by incorporating an appropriately-scaled desk with the addition of functional accessories. I designed upwards by incorporating printed storage cubbies and corkboards in an effort to eliminate desk clutter.  I also have meaningful personal items that remind me of the path I’ve taken to get to where I am now. I always celebrate the small stuff with a framed press release and past company press.

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What book has most inspired you?

Picking a favorite book must be like being asked to pick a favorite child – it simply cannot be done! I have a collection of books which have helped to provide inspiration throughout the years. My business books have helped build the foundation for my business during its start-up phase. The words of inspirational leaders help to guide me on my personal journey. My design and stylebooks are a source to help break a creative block, while books filled with art and photography make the best for coffee table entertaining. Every year as my life evolves, so does my book collection. 

What’s your typical working lunch?

My typical working lunch is an art of balance. I eat while checking emails or returning calls. I tend not to answer personal calls while working with clients so I find that lunchtime is often the perfect opportunity to speak to friends and family.

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

When I’m looking to switch off my workday, I will often turn to my friends and family. I enjoy new cultural experiences and outdoor activities. As a designer and concierge, I will often visit a new exhibit or try a new restaurant to advise clients. I also find music helps to unwind and clear my head after a long day. I’m happiest when at a concert or music festival. After working an all-nighter for a project or story deadline, I turn to a trusty eye mask and double-lined drapes to get in the proper shut-eye!

What makes your life sparkle?

My life sparkles when I radiate from within and the only way I can do that is by remaining true to myself.

[Tweet “”My life sparkles when I radiate from within and the only way I can do that is by remaining true to myself” @SLHLifeStyle (via @emmagwillim)”] I try to never compromise on my integrity or core values. I try to surround myself with people that want the best for me and inspire me. I attempt to remain optimistic by choice, which can be trying as starting a business can be difficult. It’s important to be your own internal motivator. I sparkle when I see the effect I have on others through my business or personal relationships.

Everyday I try to smile often, laugh at life’s unforeseen expectancies, hold respect for those I come in contact with and keep my heart open.

[Tweet “”Everyday I try to smile often, laugh at life’s unforeseen expectancies, hold respect for those I come in contact with and keep my heart open” @SLHLifeStyle (via @emmagwillim)”] I sparkle when I am creative throughout the design process or while contributing content for a blog post. I sparkle when I conceptualise an idea and follow through to view the final concept. I sparkle when I take a chance and put myself out there. The result can be scary because it is unknown and often vulnerable, but the reward can be creating an opportunity for myself. Never be afraid that failure will diminish your inner sparkle because it helps shape your path. [Tweet “”Stand tall and know that for some your path may be the one less traveled, travel it and leave a trail” @SLHLifeStyle (via @emmagwillim)”]

For more on Stephanie and her business visit her website or say  hello on Facebook or Twitter.

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Behind the Scenes with Jo Klima of The Darling Tree

07 23 2013

Jo is a “web designer, illustrator, and chief idea gardener” over at The Darling Tree. With an extraordinary knack for organic, finely detailed, and feminine designs, Jo strives to provide her clients with a brand identity inspired by their ideas, purpose and spirit – a work of digital art they’ll keep loving for years to come, as a perfect representation of the soul of their business.

Jo also loves to teach bloggers how they can create their own custom designs and enjoy the experience of infusing their online spaces with more of their personality with the Your Darling Blog design workshops.

Jo is giving us a sneak peek Behind The Scenes of her business today…

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Tell me a bit about your business:

My love is design. I help creative individuals and businesses with branding and online design that is a true reflection of their business, passions and purpose. I also love to teach bloggers how they can create their own custom designs and to enjoy the experience of giving their own online space more of their personality, which is why I created the Your Darling Blog design workshop.

Describe your typical day/week schedule.

My routine is still pretty flexible, I start and finish work at different times depending on my work load and when I feel like I need a break, but I am working on creating a more balanced work routine. I have regular bootcamp and yoga sessions during the week. I always try to keep weekends work-free, and generally computer-free.

How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?

When I made the change to self-employment and working from home my routine quickly evolved into working late into the night and easily being distracted by the internet since there wasn’t any boss looking over my shoulder. It took me a while to realise that even though you have the freedom to work when and how you want to, it’s still important to have some type of routine so that you focus when you need to, and create enough time to enjoy other things outside of work. To help with this I limit my time on social media, implement the Pomodoro technique when I become distracted, and leave at least one day of the week free of assigning any new tasks so that I can catch up when I need to.

What are your essential office tools?

My iMac is the most important tool for me – of course without it (or computers in general) my business or the design profession wouldn’t exist. I use a simple to-do list notepad and lots of coloured pens as I’ve always preferred writing down my schedule and tasks on paper.  I’ve tried apps but I always go back to paper! I use Harvest for invoicing and time tracking which I love.

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Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?

Skillshare is a great place to learn some new creative skills. It’s probably a favourite for most people but Pinterest is the perfect place to create a visual board for your next dream project. And the Focus Booster app is super helpful in implementing the Pomodoro technique if you don’t own a kitchen timer.

Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?

My office is in the sunniest room of our house, it’s bright and lovely in the mornings which makes it my favourite room. I have two tables, one for the computer and other typical desk accessories. The other with paints and brushes, pens and pencils, various types of paper and sketchbooks. I am always switching between the two. If I need a break from the screen I can just scoot over and play for a little while. I have lots of books and prints I love around the room also for inspiration.

What book has most inspired you?

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau is a great reminder that you can use the skills you currently have to create something of value to other people and get it out there as quick as you can. [Tweet “”It’s far better to improve on something than to let that inner perfectionist stop you from ever putting your work out into the world” @thedarlingtree (via @emmagwillim)”]

What’s your typical working lunch?

I generally make something quick and simple like a toasted avocado and cheese sandwich, but since I work from home sometimes it’s just what is the fridge at the time. I like to eat my lunch, and breakfast, out on our front deck in the sun and have a moment to relax and enjoy being outside.

And how do you switch off once the working day is done?

I love to read, paint or catch up on the latest episode of Dexter, True Blood or Game of Thrones that I have recorded earlier.

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What makes your life sparkle?

I am grateful for the opportunity I have to work with and help other amazing women create their dream online spaces, my lovely little family who love and support me in everything I do, fabulous and funny friends, and getting outdoors and exploring the world. [Tweet “”I am grateful for the opportunity I have to work with and help other amazing women create their dream online spaces” @thedarlingtree (via @emmagwillim)”]

 

For more on Jo, her work, and to check out her blog, step on over to The Darling Tree– or wave hello on Twitter or Instagram!

 

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