CONVERSATIONS: Running an Online Shop with The Bloom Print Project

Conversations | The Orange Slate

Coffee | The Orange Slate

Bloom Print Project | The Orange Slate

(photo credit: The Bloom Prints Project)

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In August and September, the theme is RUNNING AN ONLINE SHOP. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Amy, a fellow mommy, my August almost twin, and a fabulous artist, teacher, maker, and blogger.

Tell me about your shop!

I owns and teach all ages at my eclectic art school, Bloom-Prints Art Studio, blog over at The Bloom-Print Project and serve as an art juror for an international art competition. The studio is based on the premise of inspiring and encouraging those of all ages – no matter where they are at in their creative journey, everyone can “BLOOM” right where they are {within their “bloom-print” of life}!

Amy also creates sweet “bloom loom” embroidery hoop art for childrens’ rooms and nurseries. All looms are hand-crafted from vintage fabrics of the highest quality and each silk bloom is hand-selected from local small businesses with whom Bloom-Prints collaborates. Bloom-Prints believes in collaborating continually with small business and uses fabrics and supplies strictly from vendors with whom she has created relationships. She is also currently writing, illustrating and publishing a sweet children’s book that is very dear to her heart.

Amy began her creative process making these sweet keepsakes when decorating for her daughter Mila’s nursery in the spring of 2014. She wanted something classic, charming, and full of whimsy, a touch of vintage, combined with a modern-day touch. After her nursery was featured on a Pinterest post by Disney Baby, requests for Bloom-Prints custom Hoop Art began to blossom and it makes Amy’s heart swell to think she can be the tiniest part of these sweet baby’s lives by creating a custom keepsake for their rooms.

Describe a typical day in your business.

Oh my word. This is a tough one as I run two small businesses, but the key for me is that I try to stay on a schedule as much as possible. Mornings until naps at 10 I try to dedicate to Mila and development. On days I work from home, it’s books, prayer time, a cup of tea for me and veggie melts for her as we play on the floor. Then, naptime comes and I hit the ground running with planning for studio classes and creating art for customers.

We plan on walks every afternoon for fresh air and for a critical break time, (weather permitting) and of course making intentional time for home chores etc. Kavs (my husband) and I also plan intentional time to “unplug” every day, which is so needed in order to stay connected in this insanely distracting social media/smart phone world.

Do you feel like where you are was a clear goalpost or did it evolve?

I can honestly say my goal was to be used in the ways God wanted to. I knew when the timing was right, as long as I kept creating and being inspired, eventually I would get to where I hoped to be in business.  I want to be in His sweet spot for me, if that makes sense. So If He didn’t open doors, then I didn’t want it. When I started my studio, after days and weeks on my knees in prayer, doors started flying open that I never expected. So I suppose you could say it just happened , but I truly believe the doors were opened. The looms, those became a small business that I NEVER planned however. They were a fun thing for Mila that suddenly started to blossom.

What is your greatest daily challenge right now?

The ever so true mama and work balance. When I leave for the studio, I wish I were snuggling Mila. When I’m at the studio I love it, but can’t wait to be home with Kavs and Mi.

What part of your daily juggle are you most proud of right now?

I am always a work in progress, but am just so thankful to be working and to have wonderful clients that want to work with me as I do what I LOVE!

Who are some of your mentors, role models, or inspirations?

Working moms and stay-at-home moms they both inspire me for so many reasons! The Instagram community floors me. It’s the everyday woman that I adore and learn soooo much from.

 

What is one piece of life advice or time management tip you’d give to someone worried about juggling a family, life, and a business or creative endeavor?

I actually have three!

  • If you have a spouse, get them on board and plan ahead. If my hubs had not supported me since day one, I would have never opened my doors. It’s been so enjoyable because we are a team and he believes in the studio mission.
  • Do what you are passionate about and the rest will follow. It’s a lot of work, but if you love it and it comes naturally, on the not-so-confident days, it’s a lot easier to wing it and learn as you go!
  • A LOT of grace – and rest on occasion! Even God rested on the seventh day. We decided to close on Sundays for that reason. I went to a schedule of rest from working 7am-10pm 7 days a week. It’s just dumb to do that to yourself.

What’s one goal for your business in the next year?

To get the message  of this children’s book that is so tremendously dear to my heart out into the hands of sweet babes and families.

What is the hardest part of your business for you?

Self promotion would be the hardest part for me! As much as I adore what I do, I hate promoting essentially “me,” because I teach 95% of classes. I want to celebrate others ahead of myself.

What are you most grateful for?

The sense of community! Tears shared on our wooden studio floor – priceless.

If you could start over and, knowing where you are now, change one thing, what would it be?

Nothing. God is good. All the time. I learned what I needed to through trial and error – only looking forward, not looking back!

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Amy! I absolutely adore your studio and your creations.

For the other conversations in this series, check out my conversation with Nicole and Meg.

As an aside, one book on my booklist is Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. It’s been recommended to me as wonderful encouragement for moms trying to make more time to create.

NOTES:

Connect with Amy and Bloom Prints Studio: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | the site.

 

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Friday Links.

Life | The Orange Slate

Morning Baby | The Orange Slate

Mom and Baby | The Orange Slate

Happy weekend! It’s one of the last weekends of summer – how are you spending it? We are so thrilled to be spending some time in Michigan during its most beautiful season.

The next two weeks are a sort of transition time for us as we get ready to wrap up summer and head back to school. I’m taking a couple of weeks off from publishing the newsletter and regular blogging. (So if you haven’t seen the newsletter in two weeks, don’t panic! It’ll be back soon. )

For your weekend reading….

A fantastic list of book recommendations. (via Cup of Jo)

Things that could happen if you turn your phone off this weekend. (Still cry-laughing from this.) (via The New Yorker)

Some encouragement for your marriage. (via A Holy Experience)

We are a one-car family right now but plan to be back in the car market around the time Mark graduates and we have a million “Do we buy a minivan? Do we not buy a minivan? Are we minivan people?” discussions. So this. (via Coffee + Crumbs)

This recipe. (via Oh My Dear)

And this one. (Quick! Eat all of the veggies before summer leaves us!) (via Food52)

Some thoughts on intentional living. (via Zen Habits)

An ode to the reading of newspapers. (via Cardus)

The coffee Coffee and Espresso Maker that will literally transport you to Italy. (via BonaVita)

One of my new faves on Instagram – because MICHIGAN of course. (via Kellie&Jean Photography)

Rescuing My Photos From Digital Oblivion – the #PreserveProject.

  Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

When it comes to procrastinating, I am the worst. Seriously. When it comes to photos, photo storage, and appropriate archiving techniques, my bad habits hit epic levels.

I have always taken a lot of pictures, though arguably of varying quality. I had a little automatic digital camera in college that I used to record a lot of undergrad adventures.

In early 2012, I entered the 21st century and got an iPhone. That’s when my pictures really began to add up in quantity. I always had my phone on me and could constantly record the minute details of every meal, coffee cup, and cliche tourist jaunt around D.C.

(This is a fascinating tale, yes? Exactly what you set out to read today?)

Nothing turns perfectly sane individuals into flash-happy paparazzi like having a baby. Although I haven’t run the numbers, I am pretty sure that my photo records doubled in total size between Miles’ birthday and 6th month. Maybe they tripled.

In addition to all of this, I have all of the RAW photos from my wedding. All 3500 of them. I have baby pictures to turn into a baby book, travel pictures, honeymoon pictures, shower pictures, family pictures – on and on and on.

What is the point of all of this endless trivia? The point is: I have a lot of photos on my hard drive. A lot. And actually, they aren’t all on one hard drive. There are at least 5 computers and two Snapfish accounts holding pictures of ours. I estimated that I have close to 50,000 pictures that I need to archive or organize or *something*.

So really, the point is that 1)I take a lot of photos. 2) My photos from the last _[pick a number, any number]___ years are a royal tangled confusing unusable HOT MESS.

And I’ve had it. I’m tired of my computer being bogged down by thousands of photos that are duplicated and unorganized and undated and unjournaled and living in multiple places. I’m tired of not being able to find images when I want them. I’m SO OVER dreading taking the necessary steps to organize my photos so that I can finally turn them into well-curated, nicely preserved memories.

So I snapped and I did what every well-meaning goal-oriented woman does in a time of crisis: I found an available Instagram hashtag and set to work.

Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

But seriously, I’ve been diving deep into my archives and am systematically organizing everything. The happy surprise? It’s taking far less time than I thought it would and the deeper I dive, the more relieved I feel. I can now honestly saw that I am SO EXCITED about this project. I’m excited about our photos again. I’m excited about preserving our stories. I’m excited to use my Project Life supplies.

And….lucky you. I’m going to publish a series on here sharing every single step of the process so that you too can rescue all of your lovely photos from digital oblivion. Because, really, don’t you want to enjoy those lovely shots, stories, and memories? They aren’t mean to wither on a hard drive. And there’s a path out of the mess.

Want to follow along as I organize and preserve our memories in a usable, meaningful way? Subscribe to the email updates using that little box on the right.

Or maybe you’re a million steps ahead of me and already have organized all of your photos into beautiful albums? I’m going to be using the #preserveproject hashtag – and I’d love to learn from you!

*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting The Orange Slate!

CONVERSATIONS: Running an Online shop with Belle & Union Co.

Women Entrepreneurs | The Orange Slate

Belle & Union | The Orange Slate

 Belle & Union | The Orange Slate

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In August and September, the theme is RUNNING AN ONLINE SHOP. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Meg, a fellow BCS resident and the owner of  Belle & Union Co., a source for beautiful American-made homeward and paper creations.

Tell me about your shop!

A little bit sweet, a whole lot sassy, Belle & Union is the creation of Meg and Josh, two honeys known for cookin’ up all sorts of homegrown goodness with their whimsical writings, wrappings and wares.

It all started in 2012 with a relationship: a Southern art student and a Northern soldier fell in love along the sandy beaches of Tybee Island and the shady moss-draped oaks of Savannah, Georgia. Inspired by each other, our family, and the beautiful sights, sounds and differences found from coast to coast throughout the U.S., we decided to celebrate our roots and community the best way we know how: by basking in each others’ company, filling simple moments with memorable laughs, and sharing these moments with friends and friends to come.

Everything you’ll find here is steeped in Southern hospitality — from the deepest grooves of our letterpress greeting cards to the very (literal) fiber of our signature tea towels — all proudly American made. We’ve got a soft spot for vintage American wit and wisdom and goods that tote a bit of a foodie twist. To us, nothing says home and comfort quite like the scents of Mawmaw’s kitchen; it’s the heart of the home and the memories made in it feed our souls.

Our recipe? Start with all-American ingredients: the papers we print on, the cotton in our textiles, and the wood in our hand-crafted gifts. Mix in a dollop of Meg’s doodles and season with a spoonful of Josh’s mechanical moxie. Serve fresh, gather ‘round our table, and enjoy. Whether you speak with a drawl, East Coast boast or West Coast ease, we hope our homegrown wares, made from the heart (of Texas, that is), will always cook up a smile.

Describe a typical day in your business.

There is no typical day in the B&U studio! There are always orders to be filled, products that need assembled and packaged, cards to print, new products to design… the list is endless. The goal is to make sure we get a good balance with priorities taken into consideration. I am definitely a list maker, and this helps keep us in line moving forward.

Who are some of your mentors, role models, or inspirations?

Emily Ley and Kristen Ley of Thimblepress (no, they aren’t related!) are mentors and role models that I am fortunate to say have become good friends. They are navigating this industry right alongside me (or rather, ahead of me) and their encouragement means the world to me.

What is one time management tip you would give to someone trying to build a creative business or portfolio?

Prioritize! You’ll never get it all done. I have a list I make at the beginning of every week, and also each day, that keeps me in line. There are things I know I need to get done, and things I’d like to get done, but having that priority keeps me focused.

What is one piece of life advice you’d give to someone worried about juggling a family, life, and a business or creative endeavor?

I got in a very bad habit of working late and on the weekends while my husband was deployed… there was no one home to keep me from working! Now with him back stateside, I’ve tried really hard to force myself into “regular business hours”, which isn’t always easy when I can just slip downstairs into our home studio. But making sure to take time for him, for us, is an important part of the work/life balance that I am proud I am finally making a priority.

Belle & Union | The Orange Slate

What’s one goal for your business in the next year?

We want to be better about communication in the next year… with our retailers, our customers, really be better about following up and making sure the overall customer experience is satisfactory.

What is the hardest part of your business for you?

Making money! The financial side of things is always going to be the hardest for me, because I am definitely not a numbers girl. Thankfully I have someone I trust to handle the finances for the business, so that is one thing off my plate. But deciding how to price our products to be competitive in the market, as well as actually make a profit, can be an incredible stressful part of the business. Most days I just want to create what I love and let the money figure itself out… but unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way.

What are you most grateful for?

Having a supportive partner, both in life and in the business, is essential to my my overall well being. He is there to encourage me when things aren’t going the way I want them to, to celebrate with me when they are, and just always be there. I could not be more grateful to have someone in my life, sharing this life with me, that loves and understands what I do and is supportive of that.

Belle & Union | The Orange Slate

If you could start over and, knowing where you are now, change one thing, what would it be?

This is such a hard question to answer! I honestly don’t know that I would change anything… because I know all the lessons I have learned along the way are what got me where I am.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Meg (and Belle & Union Co.)!

For the first conversation in this series, check out my conversation with Nicole.

As an aside, one book on my booklist is Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. It’s been recommended to me as wonderful encouragement for moms trying to make more time to create.

NOTES:

Connect with Belle & Union Co,: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | the shop.

Emily Ley’s blog

Kristen Ley’s Thimble press

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Friday Links.

Morning | The Orange Light

Baby | The Orange Slate

It’s Friday! What are your weekend plans? We have entered the deepest, most sweltering days of summer over here. My weekend plans involved air-conditioning, cool drinks, and maybe a frigid museum. Did I mention air-conditioning?

Here are some links to brighten up your weekend:

A list of culinary vocabulary for the aspiring chef. (via Darling Magazine)

An interview on teaching empathy to children, Danish parenting, and how stories can help. (via MOTHER)

These free Powerpoint templates are amazing. I downloaded them this week and they have already saved me so much time. (via HubSpot)

Why you need to write everything somewhere. (via Creative Something)

25 famous women talk about being in charge. (via New York Mag)

There is too much adorableness in this wallpaper.  (via Design*Sponge)

Some photography tips. (via Oh My Dear)

Why having a side gig could be the best thing for your career. (via Levo)

7 great podcasts. (via Balance and Blueberries)

The video on ethical fashion that may have changed my life. (via True Cost Movie)

 

San Diego: A Secret Garden


San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

I don’t think any of us realized the magic of the backyard as children. We played loud rambunctious games by day and louder, wilder games after dark, by the light of just a few flashlights. Meanwhile, despite the risks posed by more than a dozen small feet and curious helping hands, my grandfather patiently cultivated the yard. Growing, growing, growing – while the small people that terrorized the yard grew, the garden grew too.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

Tomatoes, zucchini, nasturtiums, sunflowers. I’m sure Grandpa grew other things through the years, but those four were permanent watchmen of the house and the Pacific ocean shining behind them in the distance.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

And then, as all great art does, the backyard garden outlived its artist’s hand. Surviving the perils of small children, changing caretakers, unfamiliar neighbors, new freeways, building traffic, ever-expanding congestion – it’s still there, just behind the wooden fence. A few fruit trees have been added. Plants have been moved around. But little of substance has changed.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

Tomatoes, zucchini, nasturtiums, sunflowers – the old guards are still there. And the Pacific ocean shining under the San Diego sun is still just down the street. Maybe there’s a metaphor buried here, a tale of art or beauty or time. But to me, the garden just means I’m home.

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

CONVERSATIONS: Running an Online Shop with Nicole Jennings

Running an Online Shop| The Orange Slate
Nicole Joelle Prints | The Orange Slate
Nicole Joelle Shop | The Orange Slate

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In August and September, the theme is RUNNING AN ONLINE SHOP. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Nicole, a fellow blogger, mommy, and the owner of Nicole Joelle Prints.

When I moved to College Station from D.C., a mutual friend connected us and I’m so glad she did. Nicole and her husband are juggling many pieces – the life of a grad student, a house remodel, and one active little guy (soon to be joined by another little one!). In addition, Nicole creates and sells lovely inspirational prints.

I was excited to sit down with Nicole and get a behind-the-scenes look at her home and shop.

Tell me about your shop!

My business is called the Nicole Joelle Print Shop. I design prints and poster printables that are encouraging, inspirational, and happy. I also have a top secret product coming out at the end of August.;)

Describe a typical day in your home + business.

Since I am a full-time momma to a very busy toddler, most of my day is spent chasing after my son and keeping up with my family and home duties. I do 98% of my blog and shop work during naptime and after bedtime. Although my son makes an excellent post office assistant, I feel like this balance has worked best for us during this season.

How do you feel about where your business is now?

I think I’m surprised that I am actually still running (and passionate about running) my print shop. I am such an idea person, so I often drop one project to move onto the next. But, I am thankful that I’ve stuck with this business because it’s been so rewarding and fun. It’s definitely evolved since I first opened shop, and with a few fresh products coming soon, I anticipate more change will be happening. That’s definitely exciting for me.

What’s your greatest daily challenge related to your business or family life right now?

Right now, I have so many new and fresh ideas for my shop and blog, but I don’t have as much time or energy to complete them all in the time-frame I’d prefer. Plus, with another baby coming in January, I know that our family’s rhythm will shift again. I’m trying my best to practice persistence and patience–and keeping the perspective that everything does not need to happen right this second.

What part of your daily juggle do you feel is most successful right now?

Right now, I’m thankful I have committed dedicated time to blog and run my shop. My house would probably be a lot cleaner if I didn’t, but for me, my creative pursuits energize me and connect me to so many others. I also value pursuing what you love to do and want to model that for my kids.

Who are some of your mentors, role models, or inspirations?

Oh, goodness. So many! I love learning from Haley Morgan because I can relate to many aspects of the way she thinks and works. I am also daily inspired by Holly Holt (of Holly Holt designs)–she is simply so encouraging. I also adore Maggie Whitley and am often encouraged by her love of creating.

What is one time management tip you would give to someone trying to build a creative business or portfolio?

Especially if you are a mom or have another full or part-time job, I would encourage you to carve out super specific time to work on your project and do all you can to eliminate distractions. You might not have a full day or afternoon to dedicate to your project, but bits of intentional time add up quickly.

What is one piece of life advice you’d give to someone worried about juggling a family, life, and a business or creative endeavor?

If a creative or business endeavor will energize you, you can find time to do it. However, expect that the time you take to pursue will press hard on other areas. Take time to define which areas you are willing to let go of a little. Also, be prepared that it might take time to figure out a balance that works for you and your family.

What’s one goal for your business in the next year?

I actually have two big goals. First, I want to continue to use profit from my shop to pay off our student loan debt. One of my main motivators for keeping at is is knowing that my work is helping us shed some of our debt. Secondly, I want to create a program that helps adopting families raise support for their adoptions with prints and profits from the shop.

What is the hardest part of your business for you?

Goodness, the hardest part for me is definitely marketing. I really struggle to know how to best market and brand my shop. I also find goal-setting to be a challenge since I often have the tendency to go small rather than think big. I want to get better at recognizing that I’ll fail and/or struggle in areas – and that’s okay. Learning from my mistakes or unsuccessful campaigns can only improve my business.

What are you most grateful for?

I am really thankful that I can spend time with my son and husband as well as carve out time to run a creative business. It’s not always a glamorous season, but it’s a good one.

If you could start over and, knowing where you are now, change one thing, what would it be?

If I had to start over and change one thing, I think I might have taken more time to think of a different shop name or create more long-term goals for the shop.

Thank you, Nicole!

As an aside, one book on my booklist is Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. It’s been recommended to me as wonderful encouragement for moms trying to make more time to create.

NOTES:

Connect with Nicole: Instagram | FacebookTwitter | Pinterest | her blog | her shop.

Hayley Morgan’s blog

Holly Holt’s website

Maggie Whitley’s website

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

FRIDAY LINKAGE.

 Albania | The Orange Slate

Chickens | The Orange Slate

Albania | The Orange Slate

Happy weekend! What are your plans? Miles and I had such a fun time in San Diego with my extended family, but settling back into our routine and wrapping up July projects has been a little crazy and we’re looking forward to a restful family weekend.

Thoughts on balancing working from home and motherhood. Wise advice for all-too-familiar doubts! (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

These. Look. So. Delicious. I’ll be frying this weekend. (via Joy the Baker)

Great business advice from someone who has overcome incredible odds. (via Design*Sponge)

This list of beautiful (intelligent!) people never fails to fascinate me. (via The Hill)

Does your resume need an update? (via Lifehacker)

Love these prints. (via KITCHENBATHPRINTS)

Inspiring. (via Seth Godin)

Miles is loving this sing-along album on Spotify.

6 phrases wealthy women never use. (via Levo)

Behind the scenes of a successful online business built from scratch. (via Inspired by This)

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Conversations about Creativity.

Palm Tree | The Orange Slate

Mission Bay, San Diego | The Orange Slate

While I’ve been investing a bit of extra time behind the scenes around here to line up some exciting topics for the late summer and fall, I’ve been sharing interviews from past series. (If you are excited about the upcoming interviews, subscribe by providing your email in that box in the right-hand column.)

I’ve so enjoyed talking to the friends who have been willing to share their hearts, but one of my favorite topics (and one of the focus points of this blog) is creativity, so this series was especially exciting for me.

In this (over)busy, (over)connected age, it takes intentional effort to make time to create something truly significant. If you haven’t seen these before, I hope you enjoy the encouragement, inspiration, and rich examples provided by the lovely friends who were willing to be interviewed for this series.

Check out my interviews with Lindsay, Gwen, Katie, and Monica (along with my own answers!).

And for more practical encouragement on incorporating creativity into your schedule (especially a schedule involving small children), check out the wonderful book by Amanda Blake Soule (of SouleMama) The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Friday Links.

Tomatoes | The Orange Slate

 Kelp on the Beach |The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

What fills your calendar this weekend? We have a family wedding and I am so thrilled to be celebrating two lovely people while also getting to enjoy time and conversation with family.

Some pieces while you sip your coffee this weekend:

In honor of wedding season, the wedding toast that every bride and groom should hear. (via NYT)

Tips for using Twitter. (via Buffer)

A good reason for summer parties. (via Christianity Today)

The sad story behind one of my favorite children’s books. (via PopSugar)

A lovely tradition. (via Cup of Jo)

Basking in summer tomatoes. (via Joy the Baker)

An interesting perspective on Harper Lee’s success and what other writers can learn. (via The Domino Project)

Speaking of, have you read the book everyone is talking about? everyone is talking about? My mama just bought me a copy. I’m so excited!

Why social media can be a good. (via Michael Hyatt)

An inspiring interview. (via The Chalkboard Mag)

A quick P.S.: If you follow me on Instagram or if we’re friends on Facebook, I’m taking a step back from social media for a bit. I’ve turned off my Facebook account and although I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to step away from Instagram intentionally because you can’t just suspend it, I am going to take a break from my frequent updating for a while. I’ll continue to update this blog and weekly newsletters will continue, so subscribe if you’re interested in regular updates.