Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mommy & Me and Daddy & Me Bracelet Sets

Mommy & Me and Daddy & Me braided leather bracelets are available in the shop! There are many more colors available than those seen here so check it out!

Kids love to wear the same bracelets as their parents. These make great gifts! Mother's Day is coming up so keep them in mind!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Rachel's Challenge

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to listen to Darrell Scott speak at a recent conference I attended. Darrell is father to Rachel Scott, the first high schooler killed in the Columbine shooting.

I can't even begin to put into words the amazing impact that this young girl's life has made. Prior to her death, Rachel, inspired by Anne Frank, kept six diaries of her thoughts and feelings. After her death, her father found her diaries (one of the was in her backpack the day she was killed and had a bullet hole through it). Her diaries offered her family insight into Rachel's deepest thoughts and now serve as her legacy.

I know it is cliché to say it but it does really seem like God takes the good ones much too soon. Rachel is no exception. The amount of compassion and love in this one young girl's heart was beyond her years. Her father played video of the many friends she had--popular or not--who all expressed how in times of rejection, Rachel was right there to extend friendship and kindness to them. Her dad displayed a paper Rachel wrote shortly before her death where she wrote, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go." These weren't just words to her. She lived out these words. She frequently expressed to others that she had a desire to make an impact in this world. Sadly, she wasn't alive to realize her impact as her words have outlived her but what an incredibly amazing difference her life made.

Her father started Rachel's Challenge, an organization based on the writings of Rachel, that promotes anti-bullying and visits schools around the world to create a culture of kindness. To date, more than 500 kids have contacted the organization to state that after hearing Rachel's story, they reached out for help as they were contemplating suicide.

Rachel was a regular teenager. She went to prom shortly before she was killed. She had big dreams. She wanted to change the world. She said as much to her teacher the very day she was killed. She had an uncanny knowledge that her short life would change lives. She drew a picture right before she was killed, and, I don't want to give it away because you should read her journals, but that image has amazing significance and insight into the events that took place that very day. She didn't know what was about to take place but on some spiritual level she was preparing. I can't explain it. It gives me chills.

God Bless this sweet family. The hurt that they've endured is immense but then they actively try to seek out good and live out creating a legacy that their precious daughter believed in so deeply. Please read about the life of this special girl. I feel so changed after hearing her dad speak about her.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

SHS Book Club

I'm almost caught up with my book reviews! Here is the last batch from 2014 and all the way up to January of 2015. I've read two more books since these but I'll post on those later.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini--Five stars (I have loved every book he has written!)

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham--One star (I was surprised. I like Lena but this book wasn't for me.)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry--Four stars

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline--Five stars

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld--Four stars (I loved American Wife by this author too; see review here)

Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey--Five stars

Still Foolin' Em' by Billy Crystal--Three stars

The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year--Four stars (What can I say, I love all things pop culture. It intrigues me.)

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult--Two stars

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Tips to Launch a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

You guys--I am so humbled by the success of my Kickstarter campaign. I seriously can't thank you enough for your encouragement and help. I'm so blessed to have good friends and such a great support system! Thank you!!!! My campaign ended on Sunday, Feb. 15. It ran for 30 days and was 117% funded!

That said, I've had a lot of people ask me questions. I want to help anyone else who is considering a Kickstarter campaign. I went into it having one idea of how it would turn out and ended up realizing that nothing will just fall into you lap without a lot of dedication and hard work. I really thought my idea would sell itself and I could sit back and watch the dollars roll in. Ha! No, it took some work, and knowing what I know now, I would have done more research beforehand. Here are some of my tips.

1. Never and I mean NEVER launch a campaign without a video. Do not expect that having pictures will suffice. Most campaigns without a video don't ever make it. Make sure that you watch a lot of videos before you make your own. I used Windows Movie Maker. It was easy and I'm no expert. Along with a video, make sure you have good music. You can't use copyrighted music. My ideal song would have been "Speak Life" by Toby Mac but using that would have been illegal. I downloaded a song I purchased from iStock.com.

2. Take good pictures. Pictures matter. Make sure your pictures are crisp and clean and void of clutter. The simpler the better.

3. Start a Kickstarter Instagram account. I didn't do this but now I've connected with people who did it and I think it is a great idea. Before launching their Kickstarter, they use that IG account to generate hype about their campaign. This is probably more common with campaigns seeking more money but even a small campaign would benefit. Develop an IG following and then launch your campaign. Those followers are a great first start for some backers. Go on IG and look up #crowdfunding and #kickstarter hashtags to see what is out there and what they are doing to develop a base before they launch a campaign.

4. Develop a straightforward business plan. Nobody will want to back you if you don't seem like you've thought through your business plan. Make sure to spell out exactly how you will budget this money. Show that you have a good head on your shoulders and are thinking through it all and taking it seriously. I made sure to spell out my plan in three key areas: Advertising, Trade Show Participation, and Stocking Up Inventory. Those are the three areas where my money is going.

5. Have a strong support base. Ok, so this is where I was completely taken for surprise. I thought most of my backers would be total strangers that are searching on Kickstarter. I definitely had that happen but only 25% of my money was funded this way. The other 75% were all people who I know. When Kickstarter tells you to let everyone and anyone know about your campaign, they aren't kidding. I have little Moo.com business cards that I would hand out if the subject came up. I sent email messages to my closest friends when the campaign started, halfway through and right before the end. I was terrified about bugging people. I hated the idea of posting it on my personal Facebook page. I think I said it in another post--failing publically seemed scary. I was so surprised how much encouragement and support I received. Also, think about the businesses who help you create your product. The vendor who supplies my snaps and rivets gave to my campaign (Minkus Margo). Kelly at Minkus Margo has become an amazing support for me. You never know unless you ask!

6. Use social media. I used Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, this blog, Twitter, and Reddit. When you use your social media, don't just announce it but hashtag the heck out of it. I was on the treadmill one day and watching the Today Show and Donald Trump's daughter was talking about the #womenwhowork hashtag. So I started using that hashtag. If something relevant was in the news like that, I used it. I attached pictures and posted links to my campaign on every Kickstarter-related post. Here's a type of image I would post:

7. Make sure to offer many different backer levels. I ranged mine from $10 to $150. Everyone is in a different place in life financially so make sure you offer a variety of backer levels. I was actually surprised at how many backers I had who just gave and didn't want a reward at all--7 of my 24 backers. Here are some images from my backer levels:

8. Take your time creating your campaign. There are many facets to the campaign--the video, the pictures, the backer copy for each level, the About Me section, the My Story section, and more. Don't think you can plan it all quickly and launch it just as fast. I took two months to develop the copy for my campaign. I studied other successful campaigns and thought carefully about my titles and descriptions. I wanted to make sure if people did a search that mine campaign would pop up.

9. Probably the most important piece of advice I have is to be extremely conservative in the amount you set as your goal. Every single day that went by without one single backer or very few page views (Kickstarter lets you see how many views you get), I questioned the amount I set my campaign for. At the halfway point I was 47% funded. I kept thinking about how if I'd only set my goal at $1000, I'd be there. I had to work so hard for that 47% funding. I just couldn't believe I was only halfway there. Remember that if you are only at 90% funding at the end of your campaign, you don't get any of it. Think about your support base and be realistic about your goal. Looking back, I am glad for the goal I set but at the halfway mark, I was pretty discouraged. Things came together at the end for me somehow, someway.

10. Last, make sure your rewards are realistic and that you will be able to deliver. The last thing you want to do is not deliver to the people who believe in you! Make sure you can deliver your rewards in a timely manner. Don't leave people hanging.

I am grateful to Leslie Mader, Jerry Honeycutt, Doug Steen and Fayth Sims for their generous support to my campaign. They gave at the $150+ level. Thank you to every single one of my backers. I am so grateful!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

SHS Book Club--Even More 2014 Books

I met my Goodreads goal for 2014 and read a total of 28 books. Rather than review every single book here, I've been posting a collage of pictures of the book and giving my star rating for each book (this is out of five stars).


Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs--Three stars

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn--Three stars

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls--Three stars

Spelling It Like It Is by Tori Spelling--Two stars

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman--Five stars

The Giver by Lois Lowry--Four stars

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith--Two stars

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt--Three stars

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--Five stars

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Valentine's Day Bling

I can't believe we are coming up on Valentine's Day! Where does time go? I'm trying to not be so last minute this year and have been looking for ideas on Pinterest but more on that later!

First, the shop is stocked with blingy Valentine's cuffs ready to customize and is also stocked with red and hot pink braided leather cuffs. Both are really fun to stack. Kids love the colorful braided leather bracelets. So check out my shop! I can customize the cuffs with an inspirational message of your choice.

Now, back to Pinterest ideas. Don't you think Valentines have become so much more elaborate since we were kids? I stepped up my game last year with these Minion Valentines. Never again! But they were cute!

The year before we made felt heart pins. I felt better about these because I imagined the kids will pin these cuties on their jacket or shirts even days after. Cute, right?

This year I think we'll make these cute bookmarks. Easy enough!

My son won't be down with those so I found these cute hoppy ones. Check out Lil' Luna's site for these. She has printables and said you can find these cute hoppers at Target.

What cute Valentine's Day ideas do you have?

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

SHS Book Club--More Books Read in 2014

I'm finding it hard to keep up with writing book reviews. So, I thought I'd create a collage of the books I've read. Titles and ratings below (out of five stars). I hope to write more detailed reviews in the future.

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen--Two Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--Five Stars

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg--Four Stars

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café by Mary Simses--Two Stars

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons--Three Stars

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson--Four Stars

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson--Five Stars

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter--One Star

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith--Four Stars

If you are on Goodreads, follow me here.

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