Evanston’s Community Yarnbomb

Last year Evanston yarn bombed the Dempster-Chicago merchant area, and this year the initiative expanded to include Main Street as well.

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Intrigued by promises of finger knitting I signed up for the May 7 workshop, but then was more incentivized last month by a yarnbomb-making session at La Principal.

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Jaime gave us a tutorial on knotting, and then we all were off to the races.

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You loop 1 strand around two (or more) others to get the effect.

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She also showed a friendship-bracelet style technique.

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It was fun to see all the color combinations and listen in on conversations.

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Our drinks matched the first colors we were given.

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Tacos and margaritas made for much creativity.

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My first strand was fun.

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These get sewn together with fishing line by other volunteers.

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Number two of mine.

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The project uses only Bonnie Braid, a weather resistant and colorfast yarn.

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Donation checks for the yarn can be made payable to Stumble & Relish, they will use the funds to purchase more supplies.

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Stumble & Relish owner Jaime Leonardi offers knotting and finger knitting tutorials for the events posted around town.

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We cut longer and longer strands as we kept working.

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This one spanned the room.

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It was a productive evening.

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My friend did an interesting weaving thing.

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As we sipped one more drink we made one more strand.

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Quite a fun pile.

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I was given more yarn to play with at home.

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A few crochet tutorials later, I got the hang of doily making.

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Hip Circle Studio’s colors inspired me further.

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The last community knotting class takes place Saturday, May 7 from 2-5 pm at Evanston Stitchworks on 906 Sherman Ave. (Next to The Collage Cafe).

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The thick yarn makes for productive TV-watching.

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Yarn installation dates are May 11 from 2-5 pm at Evanston Stitchworks, 906 Sherman Ave.and Thursday, May 12, from 2-5 pm at the corner of Chicago and Greenwood.

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Some bombing was down over the weekend already, and on Wednesday.

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You can drop off home made yarn circles and strands at Stumble & Relish 1310 A Chicago Ave. until May 13.

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Feeding the meter might be fun after this.

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I’ll also be inspecting each tree closely to see if I recognize my pieces.

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It’s fun to make a contribution that adds color to our community.

Meet, Munch & Mastermind on Wednesday

Our most favorite NEW event of the year is coming early! Formerly held in October, Crain’s Small Business week has moved to May and is happening right now! We of course put on our favorite luncheon event at Shannon’s Irish Pub in Glen Ellyn, which takes place on Wednesday, May 4 from 11:30 am to 5 pm.

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Meet, Munch & Mastermind: An Agenda to Reach Your Highest Potential From Women’s Business Experts is a Dynamic Networking Luncheon followed by educational talks designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. Participants will enjoy lively, enlightening education from business experts and be provided opportunities for brainstorming personal concerns/questions related to the topics discussed. Our first two events were inspiring and engaging, so you don’t want to miss this one!

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Angel Simmons will discuss “The Launch Pad: Transitioning From Faithful Employee to Fabulous Entrepreneur.” Participants will gain a more realistic perspective of what’s really needed to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur as well as resources to help them cross over when they’re ready. Participants will leave feeling empowered to make the first step towards their dream. And, through some interactive participation, they will be affirmed by other women in the session.

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Angel Simmons is a multi-talented artist with a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. She has worked in youth and young adult ministry, conference planning and as a mentor to youth in Chicago’s Englewood community. She believes in the healing power of the arts and is committed to helping others discover their God-given gifts. Angel is an advocate for healthy and fulfilling relationships, and promotes love and connections daily throughout her social media networks and her blog, “Love’s Great Design”. She holds professional certifications in Soul Care and Biblically-based Counseling, Love and Relationships, Stress and Trauma, Grief and Loss Coaching, and is a certified QPR Gatekeeper for suicide intervention. Angel was crowned in 2015 as the Ms. Worldwide Illinois Ambassador for the Live Out Loud Charity, with her platform being suicide intervention, depression awareness, and grief and loss support.

Ingrid Morris will take the mystery out of numbercrunching with: “Do You Know Your Numbers?” The number of female entrepreneurs are on the rise! Women own 10.6 million businesses in the United States. They employ 19.1 million workers–that’s one in every seven employees. Their businesses account for $2.5 trillion in sales. Yet, 1 of 5 businesses fail. It’s not for lack of great product or services, but one of lack of financial acumen and operational knowledge. The question becomes, ” do you know your financial vitals; sale revenue, gross profit, net margins. This interactive discussions clears the financial fog, and gives women the basic financial understanding and knowledge to speak the language of finance and position their business for growth. Learn how to create financial projections, drive profitability, and increase your customer base.

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Ingrid Morris has spent 20 years skyrocketing up the corporate ladder. Out of her love and affinity for numbers since the age of 5, she has utilized her gifts and talents to manage and grow financial portfolios that range up to $200MM in revenue. In 2014, “The Numberz Girl” opened Morr Solutions Unlimited; a revenue generation and life maximization firm for women. Most recently, she spends her time in Hollywood with celebrity clients helping them to create and sustain profitable careers through building financial projections and increasing their revenue portfolios. She is also the Founder of the ProfitFirst Academy for Women.

Delmar Johnson will share her HR Brain with  “Hire Right in the Shift, From Preneur to Employer: Don’t Let Your Guts Do All the Talking.” Like most business owners, you started your company wearing many hats and doing it all: sales, marketing, operations, product development, accounting and more!! Now that it is time to expand your business, do you know how to strategically add teammates to help accomplish your mission and goals without blowing your budget? This session will share vital tips to help business owners & leaders understand the what, how, why and when adding interns, volunteers, employees (Form W-2) and independent contractors (Form 1099) to their team is necessary and do it from an informed position.

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With over 20 years of experience working with big corporations, small business owners and new entrepreneurs, human resource guru and visionary Delmar Johnson founded HR Brain for Hire™ as a trusted and resourceful solution for first time employers in need of affordable, efficient, and top notch recruitment, training and HR services. Delmar’s personal story, which includes multiple layoffs, life challenges, and her own dive into entrepreneurship, gives her a perfect mix of formal knowledge and “real life” experience that she pours into each client and their unique needs. Business owners love Delmar because her talent and passion for HR allow them to fall in love with their business all over again by getting them the right support that they so desperately need while saving them time, money, and headaches. In offering solutions, interactive workshops, and professional development training, Delmar’s goal is twofold: 1) to offer value-added solutions to women-owned business owners, positioning them as an” employer of choice” through the establishing of HR tools, standards and systems; and 2) to equip women to design their own career path by connecting who they are authentically to what they do to serve the world.

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Our $30 luncheon includes a delicious meal, these fabulous speakers, and opportunities to make connections with other attendees. Join us Wednesday, May 4, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM at Shannon’s Irish Pub, 428 N Main St, Glen Ellyn, IL.

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NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on our organization here.

Mom & Pop-Up on Sunday

Can’t get your shopping on this Saturday? Well, I’ll have another trunk show on Sunday, May 1 from 12 pm to 5 pm.

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Chroma K8 Beautique is hosting Mom & Pop Up at their salon at 5425 N Lincoln in Chicago. Enjoy a mimosa and treats while shopping for mom locally, featuring jewelry, all natural skin, body care and hair care, candles, nail spa gift certificates, memory books, photography packages, massages and fitness opportunities.

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It’s time to celebrate all nurturers in our lives!

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Back on Track will be providing chair massages the day of the event.

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I see Hip Circle Studio is on the roster, so you’re bound to get some advice on how to stay limber after that massage!

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Memoir for Me offers interviewing, writing, layout and printing services to capture your life story or that of a loved one, and will help your mom preserve her life stories.

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Little Monsters Photography can expand on those stories with new family photographs.

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Nomadic Ant offers quirky and unique handmade silver and brass jewelry and leather accessories that I admire anytime I see their creations.

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Maybe we can mix and match pieces!

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Skokiewood candles will bring hand poured soy candles, locally and mama made that have delicious names.

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In the green cosmetics realm Bonnie naturally nourishing skin & body care will offer lip balms and body balm candles that I am curious about.

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My favorite Nail Salon Noktivo will offer green beauty products and offer gift certificates for nail services.

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My hands and feet love being pampered, and I may keep my manicure intact to show you Jenny’s handiwork.

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I’ve passed through Chroma K8 to get Noktivo services, and recently checked out their shampoo products.

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Owner Kate Jotzat strives to be as natural as possible, from hair color and hair care, to cleaning products and practices. You can learn more about the green initiatives on Chroma K8’s web site, which encourages me to learn more about their natural blue hair dye options.

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Opened in January 2014, Kate furnished the salon with mostly vintage and reused furniture. Like Noktivo, the beautique eliminates most disposables with cloth towels and napkin and by using reusable gloves, glass cups, ceramic mugs, plates, and silverware.

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A basket full of goodies will be raffled off with proceeds benefiting a local environmental non profit. 

There is also gift with a total purchase of $50 or more within the Pop-Up (bring receipts to front desk of Chroma K8 Beautique the day of the event)

. I hope you pick up some of my pieces!

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Wanna join us? Use #Mom&popup2016 to document your experience at our trunk show.

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Photo credits: vendor pictures are pulled from the internet and should be attributed to them individually.

Sparkly Saturday Trunk Show

Mother’s Day is coming up, which is the perfect time to give your mother some sparkle!

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On Saturday, April 30 I will have a Trunk Show at See Jane Sparkle so you can peruse my wares and accessorize them with Sara Jane’s creations.

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I’ve been adding some bling to my newer pendants to get into the sparkle theme.

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I’ll probably put on an outfit from the last trunk show I attended in this lovely space, where my jewelry inspired the color choices.

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Meet the Maker will be from 1 pm to 4 pm, but you’ll be able to peruse my pieces earlier that day, and I may pop in a little sooner too.

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I am playing with necklace layers, inspired by Sara Jane’s fashion sense.

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There will be bubbly to sip on while you can try on and accessorize vintage clothing with purses, hats, gloves, shoes, belts, scarves and jewelry.

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I love all the ring bling.

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The musically inclined can peruse my updated collection.

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Next door, Stumble & Relish is featuring LouBirdie, another local maker. This thoughtful, sweet line is made in Chicago by Crailin Hardy.

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Both shops will serve some bubbly to sip on as you browse. See Jane Sparkle is located at 1312 Chicago Avenue in Evanston.

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Think.Start.Do Recap Part II

“People won’t remember your accomplishments,
they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

After an information-packed morning at Think.Start.Do, the learning continued after lunch. With our mind on food, Johanna Cook of MommaCuisine proudly showed the video that is now on view as United Airlines’ in-flight entertainment.

“Know your strengths and OWN your strengths.”
~ Johanna Cook

Johanna started out in culinary school but didn’t enjoy it, so she studied journalism instead to write about the restaurant industry. Soon she became a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen and loved working in a restaurant. She made working in restaurants her career, had three children and then plateau’d a bit in life. “My realistic dream wasn’t working out.”

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In 2007, a friend mentioned that she should blog. She started blogging recipes, and one day received a comment from an excited reader who had tried her recipe. Her first reaction was fear: “What if someone got sick from my recipe?”

“I kept writing just to write.
Then I started to research how brands were using social media.
I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me.
But I thought if Martha [Stewart] can do it so can I.”
~ Johanna Cook

She started thinking about her blog as a business and developed a business plan. Through a ROKU channel and developing her brand he business is valued at $.5 million and she made 6 figures last year, without having millions of followers.

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Johanna recommends making a list of 20 words that you want your brand to be. Then pare that list down to 10, and the pare it down to 4-5 words and focus on those as your brand. “Food is the vehicle to help other women with their passion,” Johanna said about MommaCuisine.

“Everyone here can make 6 figures on a web site,
even if it is just a side muscle.”
~ Johanna Cook

Melissa Joy Kong, owner of Iceberg Content Marketing Agency gave advice on getting out of the weeds of business management and getting beck to the reason you started your business in the first place. She asks herself a few key questions:

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1. What am I doing with my life?
Melissa’s career is one of seeking, traveling the nation to interview couples about love for her Lovumentary, being part of various startups, and helping men transition out of the NFL. The revelation came that instead of seeking an answer externally, she realized she already had the answer inside herself. She realized she was a born storyteller, and she should help others tell their stories. To ease the searching, she recommends writing a letter to your current self from the perspective of 30 years from now.

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2. How do I make the best use of my time?
Melissa has an extensive vision board with sticky notes to map out her time. She guarded against falling into an Internet black hole and use that time more constructively. Instead of focusing too hard on your end goals, Melissa recommended focusing on habits: “We become what we repeatedly do.” She recommended adding a new habit each month, and giving yourself 66 days to form it rather than the proverbial 28.

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A side benefit of creating habits is that you will also stop negative self-talk with yourself. As you become proud of your incremental habit accomplishments, your inner voice will trust itself more and focus more on your true passion than the lies you tell yourself.

“Even though we focus on money or titles,
there is nothing more valuable than time.
You can’t get time back.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

3. Can I make a difference?
A blog post Melissa wrote in 2012 got a comment from a reader about how one particular quote changed her life, and Melissa needed to read that quote she wrote herself at that point in time. She stressed telling the people who make a difference in your life regularly, because it will help affirm their purpose too.

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To accomplish your goals, she said to write out everything you want to do in 3 years, and then crossing off all but one priority. Then set out to do that one thing by mapping out baby steps.

“We get so caught up in our business
that we forget that it’s about one another. …
In the end, we are all walking each other home.”
~ Melissa Joy Kong

Simon Anquetil, Chairman of business incubator Tech Pilot Fund (which sponsored our VIP Happy Hour) met Think.Start.Do Organizer Stefanie Monge through South by Southwest. He decided to get an MBA without having an undergraduate degree, and succeeded at being accepted at a university that had its first inaugural entrepreneurship program.

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After founding an IT consulting business and also working as a medical consultant Simon realized repeat business came from women business owners, and he began to study the difference between male and female entrepreneurship. Simon stressed that he understands that gender is fluid, but that there are traits that are classified as more male than female, but that individual gender dispositions are based more on psychological patterns through nurture.

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The key traits that Simon said distinguish entrepreneurial approaches are:
1. Web Thinking: Men tend to think in a linear step-by-step approach whereas women engage in web thinking, considering the context of each scenario.
2. Ambiguity: women handle ambiguity better than men.
3. Chunking, the process of teaching the brain a new pattern and getting it right at any speed is accomplished more easily by women.
4. Long-term Thinking: Women tend to think more longer term than men.
5. Empathy: Women are more community oriented when making decisions rather than focusing on power and status.

While there is much buzz about the NUMBER of women in business leadership positions, Simon pointed out the relative percentage of women business owners and CEOs is still at a historic 4 to 5%. There is still a gap in college enrollment of 60% male to 40% female, and women are still not earning more with their degrees. Men tend to invest angel funding in men rather than women.

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Nonetheless, Simon said there are more role models that exhibit the successful traits women entrepreneurs should adopt, listing: Sheryl Sandberg, Gail Kelly, JK Rowling, Janine Allis, and Serena Williams. Shared qualities include:

  • Don’t go it alone (have a great life partner and supportive community)
  • Done > Perfect: Do it. Change it. Do it again.
  • Assertive and Humane: bring your whole self to work
  • Be bad to be good: stand up to your enemies even if it breaks the hierarchical rules
  • Trust yourself
  • Do the hard work

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Simon then joined a panel about Embracing Failure & Setbacks with Angie Lee, business strategist; Saya Hillman, Founder Mac & Cheese Productions, and Terri Brax, CEO & Co-Founder of Women Tech Founders. The panel agreed that failure is a matter of perspective, and stopping after a setback is worse than not moving on at all. Each also cited examples of how a perceived failure, such as a layoff, turned out to be the catalyst to a better life, even if it seemed the end of the world at the time.

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Aubrey Schuster of TransTech Social Enterprises shared her journey from being the anointed heir to a successful family business and doubling its sales to coming out and losing both her career and her family. She had to move away to be true to herself. When she moved to Chicago she was introduced to Angelica Ross and followed her on social media. When Angelica made a comment about needing administrative help, Aubrey raised her hand via social media, and was hired.

“There is an entire group of people with conviction.
Make a place in leadership for trans people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

TransTech Social Enterprises was formed in 2014 as incubator for LGBTQ Talent with a focus on economically empowering transgender people in the community. TransTech members are trained in graphic design, web development, social media management, multimedia production, and other services through real-life projects.

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The technology field is suited for transgender people because it can be done remotely, removing the barriers of engaging in a hostile office working environment. Since TransTech is a training ground, services are discounted in exchange for investments in social justice causes.

“Transwomen are not a homogenized group of people.”
~ Aubrey Shuster

Because transwomen reject masculinity, they are more targeted than those impacted by general misogyny. Trans women, particularly black transwomen, are marginalized with significant economical barriers. They are often rejected by family. 47% of black transwomen are incarcerated. 90% of transgender people hide their true selves, and 70% do not come out at work. You can learn more via this video clip.

“This is the most diverse conference I have been to.
Everyone has spoken beautiful truths.”
~ Devorah Heitner

Devorah Heitner, author of Raising Digital Natives thought a career in academia would be a perfect fit since her professors seemed to have a lot of autonomy, and she didn’t want a boss. She learned otherwise as she pursued this path, but nonetheless focused on pursuing her PhD in 2007. From 2002 to 2007 she researched Black Power TV, traveling the country interviewing people who were part of this movement after Martin Luther King was assassinated. She got married and had a child, and then learned that her husband did not want to leave Chicago, limiting her job options. She took a job that was a bad fit, and made it last for several years until she was fired.

“I was thrust into entrepreneurship
because I knew I cannot be an employee again.”
~ Devorah Heitner

After being fired, she called a career coach friend, and was at the crossroads between continuing a track of race, social justice and media, or exploring kids and digital media. Economic factors had her giving talks at local middle schools and high schools about digital media. She researched the challenges parents and teens face regarding cell phones, permissions to post photographs and other topics. By speaking, blogging and sharing data, she compiled Raising Digital Natives.

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In 2014 she gave a TEDx talk that caught the attention of Singapore’s Minister of Education and she was flown out to Singapore to speak in March. She now has a team of 4 people assisting her with a new book coming out and continuing her venture.

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Tips Devorah thinks are applicable to entrepreneurship from her research are:
1. Mentoring over Monitoring: taking a cell phone away after a mistake does not teach children anything, but teaching how to manage content is more effective.
2. Find productive ways to deal with failure: digital citizenship is an ongoing process and a constant learning curve
3. Find clarity through boundaries: unplug on a given days to clear your mind, don’t discount your rates when you know your value
4. Be clear in your subject lines when requesting an audience: Rather than “requesting meeting” capture what you do, such as “digital media expert” when reaching out to new leads.

“We all have a passion and
we all want to make money with our passion.
Money gives us access and more freedom.
Money helps you do more.”
~ Johanna Cook

We left with notebooks full of helpful hints, inspiration and exercises to ponder, and book titles to read. Many of us felt affirmed in making life choices that have been simmering, and others felt supported in staying the course of where they are now.

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It will be exciting to see how our online community develops after the conference, and where we will all be when the next Think.Start.Do conference comes around.

Think.Start.Do Recap, Part I

“You’re a character in your story
and you need to develop that character.
If you never begin, the end isn’t up to you.”
~ Hello Holiday

When you’re a solopreneur, it is important to build community and also continue to learn from others. Faced with a sense of loneliness, serial entrepreneur Stefanie Monge decided to create her own community, and launched the ThinkStartDo conference this year. Inaugural events are hard to gauge, but I knew one of my favorite serial entrepreneurs would be speaking, and I was looking to mingle with people from other states, so I signed up the moment I heard this conference would be in Chicago. I am so glad I made the monetary and time investment.

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On Thursday evening we gathered at Emporium in Wicker Park to mix and mingle. Since I was upgraded to the VIP package I got to meet the guest speakers early, and enjoyed chatting with Nebraska and Iowa-based business owners over a pint of Magnetron (one has to support women-owned breweries, ya know!). We feasted on Nori Sushi.

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On the way home I scoped out the Jackson Junge Gallery which hosted our event.

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On Friday I took the Metra in to Wicker Park, Angel’s first ride.

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I walked the chilly 20 minutes through the neighborhood and admired remnants of Chicago History.

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We were treated to a wonderful breakfast and I chatted with some early bird attendees before the program began.

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Many people had traveled from out of state, only to be greeted by snow in April.

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Co-Founders Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik spoke about their journey to launching Hello Holiday, from being rejected by various venture capitalists to raising their initial $3,000 startup fund from garage sales. Three and a half years later, they have upgraded their web site and inventory on various occasions, and also opened a brick & mortar store in Omaha.

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Sarah stressed how she needed a partner to push her to become an entrepreneur after years of being interested but not feeling like she could be an entrepreneur herself. Megan was exploring a new venture after various business launches didn’t challenge her anymore, and wholeheartedly bought into Sarah’s idea of an online fashion boutique.

“I was always doubting myself and
thinking I couldn’t work as hard as other entrepreneurs.
I was talking myself out of things.
Then I realized there is no special set of rules
that defines you as an entrepreneur compared to other people.”
~ Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik

By actively documenting the business launch on social media, Sarah and Megan created a connection with customers, emphasizing transparency in the behind-the-scenes aspects of their business. “As soon as you have a product ready to launch, launch it. Your first product won’t be the best,” Megan said. The duo also quickly invested in hiring a part-time employee to ensure they still had time for strategy and business growth rather than getting too much into the weeds of the business.

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The Brick & Mortar store also launched quickly a year and a half ago when an opportunity arose, rather than when Megan and Sarah truly felt ready for it. They now have several employees and moved into larger space to scale for further growth.

“We want to help women feel their best”
~ Megan Hunt

Actively engaged in the Omaha community, Megan and Sarah strive to be as inclusive as possible to be accessible to women of all sizes, all races, and all walks of life. So was this conference. I expected the attendees to skew toward the late 20’s age group, but we had women and men of a variety of ages and in various stages of life in attendance. Some founders still worked full time at other jobs while developing ventures, others launched businesses after layoffs, and many had a blend of part-time gigs and business ownership or multiple enterprises.

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Author and Consultant Stacey Flowers actively decided to fight statistics when she became a teen mom. During her pregnancy, people not only told her that she wouldn’t graduate, but also spouted statistics about her child ending up on welfare, not graduating high school, and ending in jail. She started college with her 3-week old baby strapped to her at the College of St. Mary, and strove to become the best version of herself. Through her network of helpers in raising her child, she was able to pursue her masters and launch an HR consulting firm.

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Stacey said the Greek root of passion is to suffer, and said the key to finding your passion is asking yourself: “What are you willing to suffer for?” Her passion is to help people in their education and growth and development, not only by supporting her family through college but also with helping others pursue their happiness.

“Happiness is not uninterrupted moments of bliss.
Happiness is unleashing your god-given talent
and positively influencing this world.”
~ Stacey Flowers

Once you have defined your passion, it is important to know your purpose, which can be developed with the following three questions:

1. What is the thing I got into trouble for most as a child?
2. What irritates me the most?
3. What completely delights me?

Stacey got in trouble for talking too much, indicating her calling for being a speaker. The thing that irritates you will ensure you don’t do that thing, and likely complements a need someone else has. Where you find your joy is where you find your purpose.

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Upon discovering your passion and purpose, learning your platform is key. Stacey distinguished between public and private gifts. While she is compelled to speak and be on YouTube and do consulting work, her son’s gift is more private. He supports his peers privately when they experience bullying, and is a justice advocate through private empowerment rather than public activism.

“No one asks: How is Bill Gates juggling his career and family?
We are no different from dad entrepreneurs.”
~ Jill Salzman

Jill Salzman started Founding Moms when she had a baby and needed a way to network in a kid-friendly space. Six years later, the Meetup has expanded to 50 cities around the world. She shared three top tips for parentpreneurship:

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1. There is no such thing as balance. Jill stressed that she has kid days and she has work days, but she hardly manages to juggle quality time with both in a single day. Key is to choose a priority for that day, and then make up for the other things on another day.

2. Your schedule is your own. Jill fell into the trap of accepting meetings at all times, and over time learned to carve out days just for herself so she would not burn out. She said taking control of her schedule by not booking meetings one weekday helped her be more efficient the rest of the week.

3. Tools Jill listed 4 apps as her go-to tool: Slack, Evernote, Hurdler (an accounting app) and Colorfy.

“The balance thing
is like hiking in a desert and looking at an oasis.”
~ Jill Salzman

Sarah Baker was bullied in High School and strove to find a way of lifting others up with her business venture. Balanced Babe is a wellness and lifestyle brand built on numerous strategic partnerships.

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Sarah emphasized that when looking for strategic partnership the key is to ensure the project is mutually beneficial. Strategic partnerships help support fellow entrepreneurs, offer increased promotion and awareness, and can give you an edge over your competition.

“There is enough success to go around for everyone.”
~ Sarah Baker

Marketing partnerships can be created via:
1. Email: Cross-promote a complementary business with a lead-generating call to action in an email blast
2. Social Media campaigns: Create a social media campaign together
3. Influencers: Offer products or features to influencers and bloggers who can promote your brand
4. Events: bring each other’s networks together through workshops and events
5. Articles: contribute your expertise to articles online and offline

“Expect to make friends.
You have a value that you can give another person.”

~ Sarah Baker

Sarah recommends writing down three partnerships that would benefit your brand. Then research the brand, reach out, negotiate and secure the partnership, execute the plan, and assess the results.

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There are potential pitfalls to partnering. Sarah cautioned against not being a consultant to the other brand and to gauge if someone is mining for information vs. genuinely interested in a win-win situation. She said she reached out to 20 people a day to generate her first partnerships and followed up three times.

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The panel Turning Passion Into Action helped us pick the brains of Crystal Shuller, Director of Customer Happiness at ReviewTrackers; Maggie Norris, Startup Weekend Organizer; Ari Krzyzek, Creative Entrepreneur, Designer, and Creative Director at Chykalophia; and Steve Daar, Founder of Conversion for Good and author of Profit Hacking. We discussed how to maintain momentum, asking for help, hiring help and overcoming fears.

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Prior to lunch, we were introduced to the Hovalin, a 3-D printed Stradivarius violin replica. Kaitlyn and Matt Hova showed the numerous iterations they went through to develop this violin with a home-based 3-D printer.

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It took a year and a half before v1.0 was launched. There were three failed prints for every good prototype and 20 pounds of plastic was wasted.

HovalinPrototypes

After creating the version Kaitlyn could play, the couple realized that this would help numerous families with children interested in violin lessons. Hovalin hopes to help save school music programs through STEM grants by letting schools print their own instruments. Hovalin is open source for people to print at home and can also be purchased fully printed for $65.

KaitlynPlaysHovalin

V2.0 has been launched and is inexpensive, not fragile and not shrill, defeating the barriers Kaitlyn’s family faced when she begged to play the violin.  Kaitlyn’s rendition of wildest dreams brought many of us to tears.

HovlinWildestDreams

There was ample time for mingling and networking during lunch. More wisdom was shared in the afternoon, which I’ll post in part II.

NetworkingTSD

“You need to take responsibility
for your future and an idea you have.”
~ Megan Hunt

More musical pendants

My violin clef pendants are a best-seller, and I need to replenish my inventory on a regular basis.

handful

See Jane Sparkle has a bass clef pendant in stock, but I need to swing by there to add more violin clefs for a friend.

BassClefatSJS

I sold a musical pendant at Moon Art Gallery as well.

IrishRoseSOLD

So I sat down and made some more.

collaging clefs

A friend had gifted me with vintage music books, and one page has a song about a Shepherd-boy.

Layout

It turns out to be a poem by Thomas Moore, but there seems to be no musical piece online that I could find. Google has the poem in The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore.

ThomasMooreSong

It’s fun to refresh my musical vocabulary as my flute is gathering patina. Subito means “quickly, suddenly” and Simile means “in the same way” .

similebyMaikesmarvels

Some pendants don’t quite turn out for the purpose I intended, but then they get re-bended into a new piece.

MusicalReject

I liked a page on whole notes from the Robyn-Hanks Keyboard Primer and placed those in pendants. It also had a section about major scales I’ll be pulling from more.

Wholehalf

I also play with earrings and bangles and not-so-literal shapes.

variationsMusicClef

Some think my Chakra and birthstone bangles have a musical feel to them as well.

362_ChakraBangle_1

You’ll see these at the Ladies Who Lunch fundraiser on Sunday, and the April 30 pop-up at See Jane Sparkle. I’ll be sure to get some to The Collage Cafe and Moon Art Gallery by May as well.

NewbiesforSampaguita

A Fashionable Scholarship Luncheon

Post-ThinkStartDo and amidst preparing for another big show I am replenishing my jewelry for a pop-up Luncheon and Spring Fashion Show this Sunday to support Filipino women. Ladies Who Lunch will be held on Sunday, April 17 from noon to 4 pm, and serves as a scholarship fundraiser.

LadiesWhoLunchPoster

The fashion show will feature cocktail dresses and gowns, followed by a mini beauty and accessories Expo. You can walk down the long runway with a dress from the Sampaguita LookBook. You’ll have the opportunity to meet stylists from the famous “Rent the Runway”, and other special occasion dress boutiques.

BeAModel

Makeup experts will be on hand with the freshest eye and lipstick colors for Spring. Shoe-obsessed Cinderellas, can peruse the latest in Spring footwear so that you can hit the streets in comfort and style. There will be raffles and prizes in the form of accessories from boutiques around Chicago, and some of these accessory makers and vendors will be at the expo as well.

JewelryDetailMaikesMarvels

The Sampaguita Group was founded in 2015 for the purpose of awarding partial scholarships to Filipino American women attending college in the United States. I met group founder Rose Tibayan many years ago during a bachelorette party, and felt a kindred spiritness right away. Rose read a report in the Harvard Asian American Policy Review, identifying the phenomenon of “Downward Educational Mobility” affecting U.S.-born Filipino Americans. Due to cultural biases, studies show that female students may be experiencing more challenges than their male counterparts.

SampaquitaModels

The mission of The Sampaguita Group includes increasing public awareness, reversing the trend of educational downward mobility through educational programs, and assisting Filipino American organizations with establishing their own U.S.-based collegiate scholarship programs.

pop-up

The Sampaguita Group’s non-profit culture includes a solid commitment to reversing the trend of educational downward mobility by helping more U.S.-born Filipino American women graduate from college, recognition of personal achievement, and promotion of Filipino American culture. By investing in higher education we hope to increase the opportunity for Filipino American women to experience long-term academic and lifelong success.

pop-up

The Sampaguita Group is an independent, not-for-profit organization that awards partial scholarships to Filipino American women matriculated in colleges and universities in the United States. Ladies Who Lunch Luncheon and Spring Fashion Show will be held on Sunday, April 17 from noon at The Belvedere, 1170 West Devon in Elk Grove Village.

Postcards

Additional fundraising events are in the works, including the Sampaguita Ball, a Gala Dinner Dance and selection of scholarship winners on Saturday, August 6, 2016. 2015 scholarship recipients are listed here.

SampaGuitAEvents

Commissions Galore

While I was busy completing my Hexaptych I also received a few custom jewelry orders. For a friend’s 14th wedding anniversary I was given a specific lyric and asked to add the iconic lightning bolt to the pendant referencing the Grateful Dead. Because this was a remote order, I took a photo showing the size of different shapes.

Options

Thankfully I had picked up opal at the Bead & Button Show, because local opal options were quite expensive. I printed out the lyrics on different papers to see which would be closer to the opal in different light, and was surprised by the option that worked in the end.

papermatching

I struggled with the lightning bolt, but came up with a few options.

thunderbolts

Thinner wire worked out better for the sharper angles, and my customer got to choose.

lightningoptions

Then we discussed via photo reference whether there should be one or two opals in the design, and that too was the easier of the two decisions.

OpalOptions

I shipped off the creation, and it arrived in time for the anniversary.

shipping

Apparently it was well-received, and I am super excited another piece of mine is out and about in the world.

Opalcomission

One of my collectors lost an earring, and I had completely forgotten that she owned this pair. So I set about re-creating the piece. Back then I didn’t track how long my original wire pieces were, so I eyeballed wrongly a few times.

earringmatch

I finally got the shape to resemble its twin, and happily delivered the re-paired set to my friend. They look so good on her.

repaired

My newsletter garnered another order, with a friend asking if she could have just the earrings of a set pictured in my March Musings. I created the pair for her with the earring hooks she preferred.

Turquoise beads

A quick trip downtown ensured she would have them in time for her sunny beach vacation.

TurqEarrings

The full set is still available, you can contact me if you’re interested or mix and match at upcoming trunk shows.

Turquoise set

Did anything on Facebook or Instagram catch your eye? Let me know your favorite pieces.

Trunk Show Efficiency

The trouble with vending at art fairs is that you see cool stuff but cannot get to the other booths to make your own purchases. I had seen MyThirtyOne booths on various occasions, but couldn’t connect with the vendors until after tear-down.

NFFRBooth

However, when I toured the No Frills Fun Run Vendor Night pop-up MyThirtyOne was represented. Because the party kept going well after hours, I zoomed down to make sure I could get a card and peek at the options before everyone packed up.

NFFRcloseup

I instantly fell in love with a tote that would consolidate all my random grocery bags into one. My neck stands get pretty banged up from their travels, and the lack of structure in my bags makes repacking confusing.

oldbaglady

I got to try out my setup on the spot, and placed my order that evening.

ToteBagTrial

Then I stared at my selection online for a bit.

WebsiteCatalog

Soon the bag and insert arrived, and the embroidered monogram makes me so happy. It feels like my first branded piece.

brandedbag

I used it for the Creative Coworking event right away.

CCprep

Fewer trips to unload and easier reach during setup.

trunk

Time ran out during tear-down so I didn’t re-pack the bag as carefully as I would have with some time, but the beauty of the frame is that I could throw in anything without worrying too much about how it would arrive at home.

Messybag

The steel stands I have didn’t damage any other items I had hastily tossed into the bag.

NFFRearrings

It also fits perfectly in my closet. Investing in efficiency may hurt the wallet for a moment, but the gained effortlessness is so gratifying that the regret makes way for joy and lightness of being.

monogrammed

Oh, and the No Frills Fun Run raised more than $50,000 for the Mays family. How cool is that?

NFFRAngels

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