February 13, 2013

Tactile design and old-school interactive: my chat with Creatives’ Cupboard

Filed under: Biz Mama,Creativity,Small Business — Tags: , — lidia @ 4:58 pm

My friend and fellow Biz Mama and graphic designer Crystal Reynolds invited me to a web chat for her awesome blog Creatives’ Cupboard.

On Creatives’ Cupboard, Crystal connects one-on-one with fellow creatives. She recently chatted with fellow designer/Illinois-dweller, Justin Ahrens of Rule 29.

In our fun and insightful chat, Crystal and I talked about running a business when you have kids (which we both do), tactile design (which we both love), blogging strategies, connecting at conferences, and the “old-school interactive” element of typebaby, my new line of typographic infant apparel.

See our chat on the Creatives’ Cupboard blog.

Read a “Biz Mama” interview with Crystal here.

January 17, 2013

What can I learn from this?

Filed under: Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:22 am

What can I learn from this? graphic

I’m currently reading JJ Ramberg’s It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business, a useful guide for new or experienced business owners. The book is organized by category, with useful tips for each.

One of the tips that resonated with me was: Tip #44: Learn from your failures.

As small business owners, I think we’ve all experienced failures or disappointments. Situations that didn’t quite work out as expected. But the key to success is turning these situations into learning experiences. Saying to yourself: What can I learn from this?

I recently went through a challenging experience with a personal project. It was an area that I was unfamiliar with and things didn’t go as expected. As soon as I let go of my disappointment and negativity and approached it as a learning experience, the situation turned around and new opportunities appeared. (Coincidence? I think not.)

Do you learn from your failures?

October 30, 2012

National Women’s Small Business Month: how can you support and celebrate?

Percentage of woman-owned businesses: 1970 and 2012

According to the SBA, about 30 percent of small businesses today are owned by women, compared to about 5 percent in 1970.

As we near the end of National Women’s Small Business Month, here are a few ways to support woman-owned businesses:

  1. Visit a local woman-owned store or boutique
  2. Buy from a female artist on Etsy.com (there are lots of us!)
  3. Offer to mentor a young entrepreneuress or college student
  4. Join a networking group for female entrepreneurs, such as Savor the Success or Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence
  5. Read my blog posts featuring small business owners, Amy Nadelen of Tribe Wellness and Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organization Professionals

Share your story about being a woman in business

If you are a woman-owned business, submit your story to The Story Exchange’s 1,000 Stories Campaign, a project aimed at understanding the needs of women business owners and giving their stories the media exposure they deserve.

What ideas for supporting female entrepreneurs do you have?

October 18, 2012

What I love about having my own business: flexible schedule

Wait, weren’t there just leaves on these trees last week?

One of the things I love about having my own business is the flexible schedule that allows me to take walks with the dog in the morning, which is where I snapped these lovely fall pics this week.

You CaptureThis post was inspired by You Capture, a weekly photo challenge by I Should be Folding Laundry. Click on the logo to learn more!


October 5, 2012

Blogging mamas

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business,Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:23 am

In my recent research on blogging, I’ve discovered that many bloggers are also moms. This surprised and delighted me. It’s nice to feel like you have a connection with people you follow online.

Some of the blogging gals already had children when they started their blog, while others started their blogging careers while pregnant or after their first child. Now before you start thinking: they have it so easy, not having a “job” to go to every day. Many of the bloggers, I found out, work full-time on their blogs and care for their children, which isn’t an easy task.

Blogging, like other freelance careers, offers the flexibility to work on your own schedule—which is perfect for moms. But is also means long hours and hard work, which requires a a lot of planning and balance when you have a family. Now, I don’t plan to become a full-time blogger but I really admire the ones who are. Give them a shoutout next time you are on their blog!

A few of my favorite blogging mamas

A Cup of Jo

Oh Joy!

Mom Inc. Daily

Making it Lovely

More blogging mamas…

Speaking of blogging mamas, Babble just released their list of Top 50 Design Blogs for Mom (including many of my faves!)


Who are your favorite blogging mamas?

October 4, 2012

Meeting with a prospective client: after [CFC blog post]

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 1:19 pm

Yesterday I talked about how to prepare for a meeting with a potential client. Today we’ll talk about what to do after the meeting (which went wonderfully, of course!)

What to do after your meeting:

  1. Send a thank you note: Yes, I said a note. I admit I do send follow-up emails to prospective clients, but I also follow-up with a handwritten note.
  2. Review your notes: There is usually a lot of information exchanged in a first meeting. I like to go over everything while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Read the rest of my tips for what to do after a meeting on the Creative Freelancer Blog.

• • •

See all of my small business posts on the Creative Freelancer Blog here.

October 3, 2012

Book review: Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs by Jill Salzman @foundingmom

Filed under: Biz Mama,Book review,Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 1:15 pm

Though I’m an experienced small business owner (12 years) I’m still a newbie mom (14 months), so I’m always eager to gain insight from more experienced biz mamas.

Jill Salzman is one of those mamas. She’s an entrepreneur with several businesses under her belt, founder of the fantastic mom entrepreneur group Founding Moms, and recently wrote the book, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs. Whew!

What’s great about the book

The book details typical small business topics such as taxes and trademarks, however she also discusses things that biz mamas find challenging, such as finding “me time” and getting dinner on the table (prepping meals in advance has become a lifesaver for me!)

The book is a fast read, a must for busy moms. It’s organized into a series of tips, which you can easily go back to and reference.

Most of all, I appreciate the positive (and humorous) tone of the book. Being a business owner and a mom isn’t always easy, but a sense of humor and positive attitude can make life so much easier.

Who should read this book?

Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs is a useful (and entertaining) guidebook for both new and seasoned biz mamas.

Meeting with a prospective client: before [CFC blog post]

Filed under: Client Communication,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 9:52 am

I recently received a referral from one of my office neighbors (see my last Creative Freelancer Blog post on my “new mom” networking style). It had been awhile since I met with someone who wasn’t familiar with my work, so I had to some prep work to do.

What to do before your meeting:

  1. Research the client: I can’t emphasize how important this is. Peruse their website, Google them, drive by the office. Not only does it help generate meeting dialogue, but it also gives you insight into what to include in your portfolio (see next tip).
  2. Personalize your portfolio: Bring projects that relate to your prospect’s industry. However, if a project has won an award or was featured in a publication, it’s a good idea to bring it along too.

Read the rest of my tips for preparing for a meeting on the Creative Freelancer Blog.

Part 2, “What to do after your meeting” will be posted tomorrow…

• • •

See all of my small business posts on the Creative Freelancer Blog here.

September 7, 2012

When you promote your small business, do you show what you do?

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 10:00 am

Left: HEEX hand-sewn direct mail piece; Right: Lidia Varesco Design Valentine Day promotional piece

I saved a past article in Deliver magazine because it featured a fantastic direct mail piece for a Czech fashion label.

The piece (shown at left) was a hand-sewn mini-garment, with pockets for the business card and letter and contact info printed on the “garment tag.” It was a fabulous example of a brand showing what they do—quite literally—and it resulted in large volume of sales for the company.

Does your small business effectively show what you do?

When you send a marketing or promotional piece, does it reflect your business? Not all of us can create a direct mail piece that is as literal as the fashion brand example. But we can still express an aspect of our business.

A few ways I show what I do:

  • I have a passion for—and extensive knowledge of—paper, so I chose a unique paper stock for my business cards (Gmund Bier Papier made with beer by-products!) I’ve also incorporated handmade paper into my website design.
  • I also love books so for a Valentine’s Day promotion, I sent clients a copy of the CRAVE Chicago guidebook and a handmade bookmark (see above.)
  • Typography is another obsession of mine, so I created Typography in the City, a blog to share found typography in my Chicago neighborhood.

Do your marketing materials reflect your business?

September 6, 2012

All I really need to know in small business, I learned from my baby. [@foundingmom guest post] #bizmama

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business — Tags: — lidia @ 2:49 pm

A few more things my son taught me: Take frequent art breaks. Always make time for fun.

Being a small business owner for almost 12 years, I’ve been accustomed to running my graphic design studio in a very organized, methodical way. When my baby boy arrived, things quickly changed in my home and business life.

Now, a year later, I realize the many things he taught me that can also be applied to running a small business successfully.

Lose your preconceived notions.  

When I first had my son, I wanted to be a babywearing mama. After multiple attempts (and baby carriers), I realized: This boy doesn’t like being in a baby carrier.

In business, the same rule applies. We sometimes approach our businesses with preconceived notions, only to be disappointed when they aren’t working. It’s okay to change your focus, client base or marketing strategy if it isn’t getting the results you want. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Read the rest of my post on the Founding Moms blog.

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