Monday, March 28, 2016

DIY Fabric Photo Back-Drop Creation: Colorful Staging for Products or Blog Posts

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I'm always thinking up new ways to shoot photos and display things, it's essential for helping clients (and myself) improve sales. If you're a blogger or you sell items online, having a wide variety of backdrops ready-to-go helps you work faster and easier.


This time I'm just sharing a little idea I've had for making easy fabric photography backdrops. I tried to use just the fabric without gluing it to foam core for months now but the creases in the fabric from storage keeps this from working. I don't have time to iron the fabric every time, so now it's glued to foam core and stored away for easy use!


To do this I'd recommend 3M Adhesive Spray or 3M Spray Mount. I used Elmer's glue that I painted on in a thin even layer with my sponge brush.


It's fun to have so many colors to play with for photo-taking. Now to illustrate more creative content and e-books with appropriate rainbow-vomit backdrops! It can really transform a photographed vignette. I hope this helps you with your product or editorial photography if you needed new ideas!
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park Cabin Stay: Hiking, Canoeing and Exploring


I recently got back from a cabin stay at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park. The ravine's cool spring waters, canoeing, and hiking were a much-needed respite from non-stop work for everyone in our group!


I really enjoyed the utilitarian layout of the cabin too and the knotty pine walls. Equipped with the essentials yet rustic and comforting, it inspires me to create the same homey feeling for my own apartment.


If you're ever in the area, it's well worth the visit for the hiking experience alone. We didn't have time to go on the longer trails, I'm happy we'll have something new to explore on the next trip.

Moss Man near the playground.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Just a Little Preview Of My New Natural Body Care Line + Local Shows and Sales


The online shop for Body & Soul is up to preview the current stock we're showcasing! We're hard at work formulating the next round of herb and essential oil clinically compounded creations. I'm so excited for the official launch!


Product photo testing behind the scenes. And labels are changing again. Aaah, so much work!

If you're in Jacksonville Florida and want to check us out we're going to be at a couple of local events detailed below:

Event Schedule for April:

The Jacksonville Landing on April 6th for Spark Walk 12PM to 10PM
The Jacksonville Landing on April 23rd for Earth Day 10AM to 3PM

We're going to have Gemstone jewelry (having so much making unique packaging for them!), organic and healing soaps, toothpastes, lotions, serums (our best seller, they really work!), bath bombs, lip balms, deodorants, and much more!

Also, look out for Instagram and Etsy sales. I'm featuring pop culture/vintage/design collectibles. If you want dibs on the goods e-mail me and I'll send you some photos before they go live. :) Believe it or not the #1 thing I get e-mailed about is people trying to buy things they see in pictures in my apartment! Ha!

You should check out both events anyway if you're in the area because they'll be a lot of fun! For now, I'm off to finally have two days off in a row staying at a cabin with some friends.

/Comments Off  See you with many fun updates soon! Determined to make all the progress asap.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Look At My Childhood Subtropical Garden and Garden Dreaming for Spring 2016

Every time the weather warms something inside us screams, "Spring! It's time to start growing stuff hellyesSPRING!" I have vivid fantasies of growing a lush container garden on my apartment's rooftop but until I get magical access via batcave-like button or Narnia wardrobe door/flying powers and/or a monumental-ladder-that's-also-easy-to-hide my apartment gardening is limited. I learned the hard way not to put pots on my urban stoop (vandals), so this year I'm taking on invitations to create beds in friend's/family's gardens. The first garden I'd be remiss not to feature is the one from my childhood at my parent's house.

Fresh herbs I bought from Bluebird Growers this weekend

My childhood garden reminds me of my current state of creative affairs: in need of tending and curating, but lush with overgrowing greenery (inspiration) planted lovingly in previous seasons. Beautiful but busy, colorful and crazy. Suburban Floridian with Latin American flair.


"The lake" (as my friend's and I called it) is still there, all of the trees gargantuan compared to the starters I remember being planted over a decade ago. My friends Marianne (now roommate), Ruth, and I would collect duck eggs from nests in neighbor's yards (!), trespass the under-construction homes, and explore the surrounding swamps when we were too old to be acting that stupid (10-12ish). We joke that if the internet worked as well then as it did now we'd have spent our illegal/immoral fun-times indoors watching anime instead. There's part of my, "You darn kids don't know what ya got, in our day all we had to do for fun was go outside and collect duck eggs while you whipper-snappers have your internets and your cyber-devices..." speech I'll have memorized for the grandkids I'll never have. I'll save it for my niece / nephew's grandkids.

They'll have kids before I ever do.


The yard is beautiful but strewn with some plants that need transplanting and TLC. I'm excited to spent some time at that memory-filled yellow casa growing healing herbs and beautiful ornamentals.


One of my favorite elements of the home is mom's cactus and succulent collection which she has situated by the front door.


Some have grown exponentially, others have stated the same. A lot of the knick knacks here are ones I've found for her on thrifting trips.


I love the contrast, textures, and mix of colors. Beautiful desert beasties.


I love the terra cotta sun and planters here by the door, too. Just like many a house you'd see in Puerto Rico. The front of the house is decorated with other items from Mexico and Puerto Rico.


The Alvarado plaque above the doorbell has helped identify the pad for many a classmate visitor. 


"Well, this colorful house with shit and plants everywhere definitely looks like it spawned Vanessa...oh yep, 'Alvarado' plaque, this is it." - teenaged friend, paraphrased


The Alvarado headquarters is also the post-Yuko plant hospital. Every morning I'd bolt out of bed startled because of the crinkling-tinfoil like sound of Yuko gnawing that poor money tree (tallest plant in the group) down to the nub! I still have PTSD from it, anytime I hear a similar sound I snap to attention to rescue a plant I no longer have! The money tree now lives with mom where he's fully recovered from Yuko's fangs. No soft tender plants live with me anymore but most of my houseplants bear some fangy puncture wounds.


I'm excited to share before/after photos as I help create herb and vegetable gardens at friend's/family's homes this spring.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Colorful Retro Market Inspiration at the Slightly Rainy Natural Life Music Festival

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This weekend I was outside loading up on Vitamin D for two whole days straight and it was wonderful! I hit up yard sales and scored high ticket stuff I can use for markets for bottom dollar, plant shopped, and had a blast at the annual Natural Life Music Festival.


I thought I'd share a few shots of the displays and sights that inspired me the most. The marketer/designer in me couldn't help it! Like probably 95% of vintage collectors I'd love a retro van and/or RV like the one above. I will make that dream of driving across the US in one come true one day!


I love the rustic display here, very clever to use rough wood to make shelves.

The geode and natural stone keychains were gorgeous. The stones above had holes in the top for use as planters or votives.


I love seeing all the beautiful dogs whenever I'm at parks and markets but you rarely see cats! This adorable kitty was calm the whole day hanging out with her mom and even when swarmed by adoring crowds. Yuko would NOT have that. She can't tolerate new people even one at a time.


Who wouldn't love a food truck with a sax playing octopus in lime green? Beautiful and eye-catching.


And seeing other soap vendors out with their wares neatly wares out was inspiring, I can't wait to get our gorgeous, sweet-smelling soaps out to the markets this year! We have our next market at the Jacksonville Landing for Earth Day.

Are you going to any music/art/other festivals this spring and summer? I'm trying to get to (and into, as a vendor) as many as possible! So much work to do!
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

26 Ideas for Creative Freelance Work: Make Good Side Money or Work From Home

As of October 2015, 54 million people in the US alone have done freelance work- rough 34 percent of the US workforce. With many conventional opportunities drying up, we're making our own, and there's plenty to go around. Businesses are updating to the digital model to keep up with changing times, creating loads of opportunities for businesses that want to create online presences or even local events and classes to keep up with the competition.

I love our Frank&Myrrh body butter. Working hard to get our products done every day.

I've done a little bit of everything on this list lately and it's been wonderful to build some income stability while I start a business and help local small businesses at the same time. If you're trying to leave the day job to work on your own, or looking for a new income source on the side, one of the 25 options in this list may work for you!

1) Social Media :  Grow social media for others. Followers=dollars.


2) Digital Media  : Make written, video, & photo web content.


3) Distance Learning :  Teach online via skype and/or e-mail.

4) Graphic Designer :  
Create graphic art for businesses.


5) Web Designer: Specialize in designing websites.


6) Portrait/Event Photographer: For businesses & individuals.

7) Product Photographer: Photograph merchandise.

8) Copywriter :  Write content designed specifically to sell.


9) Document Designer :  Training documents, inventory sheets, etc.


10) Inventory/Accounting :  Track sales/current stock/expediters.

11) Freelance Teaching :  Rent a space in a local biz & teach. 


12) Video Producer :  Big demand for video makers for businesses!

13) Video Content Creator :  Some YouTubers make six figures! 

14) Blogger :   Make products to sell and/or use ads to make $$$.


15) Editorial Writer :   For papers, sites & magazines, freelance.


16) Marketing :  Create plans, promote businesses.


17) SEO :   Search Engine Optimizing website layouts and content.


18) Programming :   There's still a big demand for programmers!

19) E-Book/Book Writer :  Sell eBooks online or go conventional.


20) IT :  Start your own freelance IT business. 


21) Organizer :  Help organize people's homes and businesses.

22) Patreon Supported :  Patreon helps artists make creating their full-time living. 


23) Personal Chef :  I had more requests for making raw vegan pies, kale chips, & kombucha than I could keep up with!!


24) Nanny/Day Care Owner :  Good for moms of young kids.


25) Google Adwords :  Operate Google AdWords campaigns. 


26) Illustrator :  Instrumental for making a brand stand out. Bonus points if you can make vector art.*

*Are you an illustrator? I need to hire you! E-mail me.

I hope that got the imagination and motivation going for anyone who's trying to work from home, start a new freelance job or create an easy side income.

Let me know if I left out anything important! There are so many ideas! I didn't even include yard work which is always in demand and lucrative. What do you do to make money on the side?
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Friday, March 4, 2016

My Top 5 Business Mistakes: How I Fixed Them- And How You Can Avoid Them

This year one of my resolutions was to focus on profit, and so far it's already paying off big time! It's taken lots work, focus, and change, but there's more money in the bank account and I am constantly inspired to go further and work harder. Everyone makes mistakes with their businesses starting out, no matter how much you research or work on your business plan. I continue to make and learn from them. This year I reflected on my 5 biggest business mistakes to improve my profit and productivity. Here they are for you in case you're making the same ones- or to help you avoid them!


1. I posted too many blog posts.

Posting on my blog 5 days a week was something I stubbornly adhered to once I got into the swing of it. Even when I was on vacation, I would take hours out of it to post blog posts. Friends, family members, & acquaintances were shocked by the dedication- especially to something that wasn't a direct money-maker. More than one business professional or friend told me I needed to post less because there was too much on my plate but I ignored until I crashed and was forced to re-evaluate priorities.

I'm slowly organizing my archive of over 2,000 posts and there are a lot of rushed, repeated posts I'm not proud of because I imposed that every-weekday post rule. I like to feel out and plan my content and have each post be a stand-alone piece I can be proud of. Now if I don't have something I'm proud of the day I'm supposed to post, I won't. I'm less stressed, more productive, and prouder of my blog this way.

2. I was too egalitarian.

I've let myself be taken advantage of before because I was trying to be nice to all sides in business collaborations.  Know where to draw the line. Be fair, be nice, but don't let people get work from you for free. I draw lines in the sand and make sure I get paid. When you're a freelancer, so many people ask for off-the-clock work or work before you get any form of payment.

3. I procrastinated.

I can stay in development hell FOREVER. There are some things business wise I've made strict rules about to keep myself in line. When I was a reseller, I cleaned, photographed and listed my finds THE DAY I bought them home. Schedules, timers, and maybe working with a partner somehow to keep yourself accountable are a procrastinator's life-saver. Set deadlines you can't break, like in my case, in-person client work and teaching gigs. The ambient music in the background I've talked about before is a huge help too.

4. I tried to do ALL THE THINGS.

I used to have a huge list of things to accomplish every year and I'd crash and burn each time. Turns out, running a blog, a few other businesses for others (right now I'm helping get up two soap-related businesses, a cheese business, and then next a make-up business) and then working on my new one is ENOUGH work. It's cut out for me. I stopped dreaming of turning everything into a business as a scanner-type is want to do. I can draw, make jewelry, etc as...HOBBIES. Wow, who'd have thought of that? Oh, only everyone who was giving me advice. Speaking of which...

5. I ignored well-meaning advice.

A lot of us can take advice as insults. If the advice really stings, take a closet look, because that may be a sign that it's true. I ignored advice about my blog, I ignored advice about having too many money-makers on my plate to be successful. Now I'm taking all advice and remembering it comes from a place of love and honesty and considering everything.

I hope sharing these five business mistakes helps you if you're making them- or prevents you from doing the same with future business projects. Nothing's more rewarding that your hard work paying off, don't let little mistakes get in the way of that!

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