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.


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

Hayley Morgan’s blog

Holly Holt’s website

Maggie Whitley’s website


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


 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)


*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.


*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.

Friday Links.

German Mint Lemonade | The Orange Slate

Germany Outdoor Cafe | The Orange Slate

Make Someone Happy | The Orange Slate

Happy Friday! What does your weekend hold? Miles and I are enjoying a little vacation with my side of the family on the West coast. GOSH, I’m loving that I open the door in the morning to a cool coastal breeze instead of the 90+ degree-days of Texas in July.

I hit “send” on this blog’s very first baby newsletter this morning, “Over My French Press.” For those of you who have already signed up – thank you! I hope you love every bit of it.

For those of you suffering from newsletter FOMO this second, are you interested in working from home, building your freelance portfolio, or taking steps to continue your career while feeding Cheerios to your bebe? You just might love it. Subscribe here if you’d like next week’s edition.

Because the beach is on my mind, 8 Instagram accounts by female surfers that you should be following. (via The Chalkboard)

It annoys me that lip gloss with SPF is so difficult to find. What are your favorites? This is my go-to this summer, but I’d like one that lasts a little longer.

Have you seen the #decor8monday project? I love it.

Van Gogh’s favorite French village. (via WSJ)

How the light-up bracelets used by Taylor Swift on her 1989 tour actually work. (via Slate)

Hosting when you’re away from home. (via Food52)

The final word on keeping your fruit and vegetables fresh after slicing. (via LifeHacker)

A precious photo project. (via The Handcrafted Story)

Loved the comments on Facebook, Instagram, and the post about my best packing tip. The most helpful I’ve seen yet? Katy said:

“My tip — pack just 2-3 pairs of shoes. I usually pack tennis shoes and flats/sandals/boots depending on the weather . . . pack a pair of underwear and clean shirt in your carry on in case you get stuck in the airport overnight. Sometimes it might be worth packing an additional pair of shorts/pants (longer trips) This way, you have something fresh to change into if you feel nasty after being stuck.”

always bring too many shoes. Thanks, Katy! (And thanks, everyone who participated!)


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

My Best Packing Tip.

 San Diego garden | The Orange Slate

Downtown Plano | The Orange Slate

I used to be a chronic over-packer and although my days of absurd over-packing are behind me, I still have a long way to go when it comes to being a super efficient, minimalist traveler.

Traveling with a baby comes with its own set of challenges and extra gear, but traveling solo with Miles so many times has also made me wary of being overly optimistic about what I can carry through the airport with a 20 pound baby in tow.

Even the basics that I used to toss into my carry-on bag (laptop, thick book, sweater) I now skip. It’s a little absurd to think that I’ll be able to work on my laptop (or read a book!) while holding Miles during a flight and I never get cold on flights anymore thanks to my little snuggle-buddy. Also, there is one perk of always traveling with a baby – I can always wrap up in the sarong* or blanket tucked into my diaper bag if I start to get chilly!

I plan to post about what I do carry in the airport when traveling with a baby later, but today, I wanted to share my best tip for packing (or for combatting OVER-packing) with you.

Ready? Once I’m completely packed and everything is set to go, I pull one outfit out of my bag.

Easy, right? I always assume I’ll be wearing more outfits than I end up wearing in reality. What actually happens is that I cycle my favorite/most comfortable/most washable clothes for the entire trip. So removing one outfit from my bag, no matter how carefully I packed, helps reduce the unnecessary pieces that I bring on the trip.

I’m always grateful for the extra space and always wonder why I thought I’d wear that removed outfit in the first place.

What’s your best packing tip? I’d love to hear! Bonus: If you share your best tip in the comments, I’ll link to your blog or Instagram in this week’s Friday links.;-)

*Ever since Miles started to get really curious and busy, he’s hated nursing underneath the nursing cover. Although he doesn’t need to nurse as often when we’re out and about now, I’ve started to carry a sarong everywhere with us instead of my infant nursing cover. It’s been a fantastic solution! Carrying it around has come in handy when we’ve needed an impromptu stroller cover and picnic blanket as well.

Monday Morning Links.

Quote on Striving | The Orange Slate

Colored Paper Cranes | The Orange Slate

Links are a little late because of all of the work going on behind the scenes right now, but what’s better than a Monday morning with a great reading list? You’re welcome.

But first, a little announcement. Beginning July 17, I’ll be emailing a weekly newsletter on Friday mornings called “Over My French Press”.

So many of us are juggling self-employment, freelance careers, or creative paths and many of us are doing this while we spend the majority of our day home with little ones.  The newsletter will provide motivation and  inspiration for work-at-home moms and women pursuing creative careers.

The first 25 emails will be a series covering time-management strategies, encouragement about defining priorities, tips for pursuing work opportunities, my personal experience working from home as a mom, and much more.

The weekly conversation will be exclusive to this blog’s mailing list, so if you’re curious, sign up here for “Over My French Press.”

Why reading real books offline is still important. (via The New York Times)

When 500 millionaires were surveyed, they consistently attributed their success to one decision. (via Business Insider)

Now that Miles is finally sleeping through the night (mostly), I want to try this sleep app!(via Clementine Daily)

Speaking of sleep, some advice on gentle sleep-training. (via MOTHER)

Serving in the White House. (via Mental Floss)

A morning routine. (via Lifehacker)

This book is life-changing. (via Amazon)

At home with Lucille Ball (my childhood favorite) (via Good Housekeeping)

Crossing Lake Michigan on a paddle board. (via Up North)

The perfect summer dish. (via Smitten Kitchen)

Have a smashing Monday!


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


12 Months: A Snapshot.

12 Months | The Orange Slate

  12 Months | The Orange Slate

12 Months | The Orange Slate

I chronicled most of Miles’ first year through (in part) a series of letters that I’m sharing on this blog. It’s important to me to document his little adventures, his growth, and our memories of him.

My overall goal for this project has been presence, not perfection, and honestly, I’m thrilled with the collection of memories and pictures I’ve documented. Even if none of the other billion pictures that I’ve taken and edited of him are appropriately archived, these letters and the accompanying pictures will have captured important highlights of his year.


12 MONTHS! A YEAR! You’re one year old! (I keep saying it to myself – “I have a one year old!”) I can’t believe your first grand year is behind us. What an adventure it was. I know I’m supposed to be sad that you are growing up so quickly, but I am THRILLED at every new milestone. I know every baby and every family has different challenges, but for me, for us, your first three months felt so hard, so exhausting.

But your next three months were so much better, so much less terrifying and so much more exciting and fun, and every step after has been better still. So keep growing, my wonderful little guy! I’m so proud to be your mama.

12 Months | The Orange Slate

12 Months | The Orange Slate

Here are a few things I want to remember about you at this perfect, terrific age of ONE:

I want to remember how much energy you have each day. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you never really stop moving. If you do pause, it’s because you are studying something very very carefully, holding it close to your face to look at it very carefully or exploring the texture with your tiny fingers. When you are looking at something closely, your face takes on the most concentrated, adorable little frown.

I want to remember that you throw everything. Food that you are done eating, toys, food that you want to share, my clothes, your binky, sippy cups, bottles, balls…you figured out how to hurl objects and want to try out your new trick at every turn.

I want to remember how my good little eater has suddenly become picky. You definitely have opinions about food’s taste and texture now and they seem to change constantly. Meals feel like marathons.

I want to remember how you are starting to discover cause and effect – you bang on your high-chair tray to hear the sound; you love it when I lift you to play with light switches as you watch the room light up and darken; you love to push buttons and hear the resulting sound.

I want to remember how good you are at crawling up the stairs and how afraid you are to slide back down.

I want to remember how you are curious about everything – every drawer, every shut door, every device that adults around you are holding.

I want to remember how fun it is to watch you learn to use language. You try to yell for things that you want, but we’re working on asking for things more pleasantly and you’re learning how to say “please”.

12 Months | The Orange Slate

12 Months | The Orange Slate

I want to remember the things you are doing and loving and learning too. I want to remember that you are

loving pulling up on everything. My favorite is when you pull up at the piano and play the few keys that you are able to reach.

saying “Dada” for everything. 

clapping for yourself. The proud look on your face when you do a trick and then clap for yourself is hilarious.

learning to shake hands with new friends (total strangers) and to give “high-fives”. You’ve thoroughly mastered waving and wave frantically at everyone, even Mom when she comes to get you out of your crib in the morning. 

sleeping, finally, blessedly, through most of the night, on most nights.  Everyone is so much happier when a good night of sleep happens.

reading your board books with Mom or Dad – your current favorite is “Polar Bear, Polar Bear” and, of course, “Guess How Much I Love You?”

learning to love whole milk. You tried it for the first time two weeks shy of your 1st birthday and you’ll drink a little for me every day.

climbing up the stairs – multiple times, every day. It’s your little mountain of adventure!

Can’t wait for the next day, week, month, AND YEAR of adventures, my sweet boy!

Conversations About Hospitality.

Kitchen | The Orange Slate

Coffee art | The Orange Slate

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

I’ve so enjoyed talking to the friends who have been willing to share their hearts, but the series on hospitality was especially inspiring and challenging to me.

Hospitality is really about so much more than new recipes or beautiful table settings. It’s an attitude, a perspective on life, and I’m so inspired by the way this is evidenced by the incredible ladies who shared their thoughts in these conversations.

I hope you enjoy these interviews on HOSPITALITY with Amy, Kathy, Emily, Abbie, Jess, and Shannon (along with my own answers!).

If you need some extra encouragement or inspiration as you entertain others, check out one of the sweetest food memoirs I’ve ever read, Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage.


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

Friday Links.

Beauty quote | The Orange Slate

Trees & Sky | The Orange Slate

Happy 4th of July weekend! The 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays, but now it doubles as Miles’ birthday, which makes it twice as special.

Last year at this time, I was heading in for my 39-week pregnancy appointment and there were no hopeful signs that Baby McCord would arrive anytime before his due date. You really can’t ever tell with babies.;-) (Needless to say, I was THRILLED to meet him a week early.)

I am SO EXCITED about Miles’ birthday celebration tomorrow. We have some fireworks shows and a parade penciled in over the weekend as well. What are your 4th of July traditions? Whatever you have planned, have a fun, safe 4th!

While you’re resting before the fireworks shows this weekend:

Maternity rest can be an elusive fantasy moms working in small companies or in creative industries. Don’t worry – Donna Karan is in the same boat.  (via Interview Magazine)

Did you follow the crazy Reddit button story? Here’s the conclusion. (via NBC)

Are you helping to build your workplace culture?  (via Relevant)

What happens when real women tried on Victoria’s Secret bathing suits. (via BuzzFeed)

Need to write? (Your book, ebook, blog, dissertation?)  Check out these tips to help you be more disciplined. (via Write to Done)

Inspiring advice on life and career from a successful businesswoman. (via Design*Sponge)

The joy of re-reading. (via WSJ)

Can’t wait to try this yummy recipe. (via Balance and Blueberries)

Loving hats! (via CapHillStyle)

Trying to eliminate this word from my vocabulary. (via Business Insider)