January 29, 2018

Recap: how I made an impact in 2017

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 11:07 am

How I made a difference in 2017

2017 was a great year for Lidia Varesco Design. I’m proud to to have collaborated with organizations who are making a difference by:

  • Helping Veterans discover their full potential
  • Responding to children in need
  • Providing housing for the elderly and adults with disabilities
  • Preventing homelessness of individuals, families and veterans
  • Bringing development opportunities to underserved and at-risk young people
  • Educating young professionals to interact, grow and prosper through actionable education
  • Promoting a passion for learning and a commitment to local and global communities

I have always loved working with organizations who are making a difference but now that I’m a mom, I’m even more passionate about making the world—my kids’ world—a better place.

Other ways I had the opportunity to make a difference in 2017

I was able to connect with local nonprofits and small business owners and share my expertise by:

Now booking speaking dates for 2018!

If you are interested in hosting or attending a 10-Minute Marketing or Branding 101 workshop, send me a note.

January 4, 2018

Giving artfully: where to donate art supplies in Chicago

Filed under: Community Outreach,Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 4:00 pm

Editor’s note: this post was originally posted in January 2011 and is regularly updated to include new resources

If you (or your kids) love working on art and craft projects, you’re bound to end up with lots of supplies that you no longer need. Don’t let all that good stuff go to waste: donate it!

After a recent office move, I loaded up my car with boxes of paper, books and art supplies and distributed them among several local organizations (as well as my son’s school). I had less items to move and I felt good knowing that a student, teacher or artist would make good use of the supplies—it was a win-win!

Where to donate?

There are several organizations in the Chicagoland area that accept donations of new and gently-used art, craft and design supplies and books. I have donated to these organizations and can attest to the good feeling that comes along with sharing with those in need—especially right here in my own community.

Creative Pitch

Creative Pitch (Chicago, IL) collects donations of paper, classroom and art supplies and distributes them to local teachers in need. My paper habit (obsession) leaves me with stacks of unused paper—which is put to good use by the Creative Pitch team. I’m proud to be a Creative Pitch supporter for many years. See their donation list.

Inklude Studio

Inklude Studio (Downers Grove, IL) offers an open, creative, and collaborative studio environment for adult artists with autism and other developmental challenges. They welcome donations of art supplies, fabric & sewing materials and photography or computer equipment that can be used in their programs. See their donation list.

The WasteShed

The WasteShed (Chicago, IL) is a creative reuse center that collects art and craft materials and makes them available in their retail store to artists, students, teachers and anyone else at a low price. Their store is a treat to visit and they also host art events. See their donation list.

Upcycling Colors

Upcycling Colors (Chicago, IL) collects leftover, used and unneeded art, craft and school supplies and reconditions them into attractive “like new” kits for children in need. They collect everyhting from paper and pens to loose puzzle pieces and toys. They have several drop-off locations across the city. See their donation list.

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx)

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx) is a start-up nonprofit dedicated to creative reuse. They take surplus materials headed to the landfill, and put them in the hands of educators, artists, and community groups. See their donation list.

Open Books

Open Books (Chicago, IL) provides books and literacy programs to children throughout Chicago. Funding of their programs comes in large part from the sale of donated books in their stores. This is a great place to donate your art, design and craft books (and don’t be surprised if you walk out with a few books after dropping off your donations!) See their donation guidelines.

Making your efforts count

As a veteran “donater”, I can share a good way to manage donations (and get more organized, to boot!). Label a cardboard box in your office “art donations.” Once a week, go through your office drawers, cabinets and shelves. As you come across items you no longer need (but are still usable), toss them in the box. At the end of the month, drop off your donations. Make an even larger donation by combining your efforts with co-workers and colleagues, or start a donation drive at your business. Plus, all of the organizations will provide a donation letter for tax purposes.

Know of any other Chicagoland organizations that collect art & craft supplies? Please share in the comments!




November 27, 2017

Recap: Digital Summit Chicago 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

The Digital Summit series made its inaugural stop in Chicago this year. The 2-day digital marketing conference was filled with insights on digital, email and content marketing. Here are a few of my top takeaways.

Deep thoughts by Ann Handley…

The conference kicked off with an inspiring and entertaining keynote by content queen, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, who encouraged us to be bigger, braver and bolder with our digital content. Ann talked about the importance of data, used in conjunction with listening and instinct. Your brand should be in a place where your customers or clients will say “They get us!”

She also emphasized that your story is the start of what sets you apart. She challenged us: what is the story everyone tells in your industry and how can you tell it differently?

Lastly, she suggested that we be braver in our perspective and tone of voice. Think about how you sound vs. how you look. How can you make the ordinary (about pages, landing pages, email confirmation pages) extraordinary?

Email is still king—but keep it simple

Nora Snoddy of Emma told us that ROI of email is double of all other channels, (so yes, you should be sending out those regular email campaigns). She said that including video and GIFs can lead to higher CTRs. And she also advised not to give people too many options, stick to a single call to action (using first-person, action verbs) and tell people exactly what you want them to do.

She encouraged us to use automated email campaigns, as well as using reminder emails as a way to increase sales.

A few of her recommendations were to monitor CTR increases between campaigns, as well as subscriber growth over a year. And, split test those subject lines!

Don’t create new content—reuse what’cha got!

One of my favorite sessions was from Ginger Shimp of SAP. The visual learner in me loved the content map she presented, as well as her easy system of creating and repurposing content.

Ginger recommended starting your content creation with the end product, say a whitepaper, and then versioning it into various other content pieces: blog, cast study, podcast, video, eBook, microsite, presentation, infographic, web documentary, just to name a few.

She also brought up the idea of creating a video whitepaper (Is anyone doing this already? Please share, I would love to see!) One of her recomendatons is

Make search work for you

Shana Sullivan of Vertical Measures spoke about how to make search work in this ever-changing time. A few things to avoid are:

  • Duplicate content
  • Slow page load times
  • HTML problems such as missing metadata or title tags
  • Bad (or not enough) backlinks
  • Poorly optimized images and videos
  • Thin content (too short blog posts)
  • Not being mobile-friendly

She also told us what people are actually searching for:

  • Cost/price comparisons
  • Problems/issues
  • Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • Best of/Top posts
  • Resources

And she recommended using Google Suggests and Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas before you start writing your content.

Prepare for the skim

Lorraine Goldberg of Allrecipes.com spoke about being data-informed, not data-driven when doing email marketing. Look at and analyze trends, web analytics, news, social intelligence, SEO as well as top subject line performers.

She emphasized preparing for “the skim” and creating content that stands out. She also encouraged thinking at the little things in people’s lives—what are their day-to-day challenges and how can you help. And most of all, stand for something!

Take it from The Onion…

One of the most entertaining sessions was from Joe Fullman of The Onion. In addition to sharing classic Onion moments, he spoke about the 3 Ds of content: design, distribute, develop.

He suggested to continually measure reach of each content type by network, make sure content is format-driven, and develop content to be derivative and modular, easily targeted to each audience.

Now, time to put it all to work!

Overall, my takeaways at Digital Summit were to make a plan with concrete goals, be bold and tell a unique story, create content that can easily be repurposed—and most importantly, stand for something.

September 21, 2017

Featured Project: Event Branding & Marketing Design

For 10 years, All Stars Project of Chicago has brought growth opportunities to young people and adults living in the poorest communities. They needed event branding and marketing materials for their 10th Anniversary Benefit Luncheon—where they were unveiling plans to reinvest growth into the city by “Connecting Communities Downtown.”

I developed a design that expressed their mission of connecting communities across Chicago with business partners in the downtown community—as well as a special 10th anniversary logo.

I designed the Event Logo, Sales Pack, Invitation Package (Invitation and Mailing Envelope, Reply Card and Reply Envelope), Program and Insert, Power Point Presentation, and Onsite Signage.

See all of the designs here.

September 21, 2016

FEATURED DESIGN PROJECT: Benefit Invitation Branding & Design

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

RSSI Benefit Invitation Design

I worked with Renaissance Social Services (RSSI) to develop branding for their annual fundraising benefit event—which happens to be held right here in my West Loop neighborhood (at Wishbone Restaurant, one of my faves!) Our goal was to express their theme while getting across the organization’s important mission.

I designed the event logo, invitation, mailing envelope, reply card and envelope, and email graphics.

Buy tickets to the event on Sept. 26.

RSSI aims to find safe and secure housing for the men, women and families and to provide them with the services they’ll need to lead lives of health, dignity and stability.

July 10, 2014

Typography in the City blog featured on HOWDesign.com

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

HOW Design Top 10 Websites for Designers July 2014

Typography in the City blog


While randomly browsing the HOW Design website today, I was excited to see a familiar sight: my blog Typography in the City on their July list of Top 10 Websites for Designers!

I started Typography in the City in 2011 as a way to document the interesting typography I came across on walks around my neighborhood. It’s turned into a fun project, as well as a source of constant inspiration for design projects—not to mention wall art for my son’s room and even a children’s book I’m working on.

Follow Typography in the City on tumblr and on twitter at #typeinthecity. Also follow @lsvdesign on Instagram for #typeinthecity updates!

March 10, 2014

Featured Biz Mama: Alexandra Eidenberg of The Insurance People & Friends of Alexandra

Featured Biz Mama: Alexandra Eidenberg

Biz Mama columnAlexandra Eidenberg is the co-founder and President of The Insurance People and an IL 4th District US Congressional Candidate. She has been a licensed insurance agent for over 8 years and educates people about their options and the market so they can make the best decisions for their families and businesses. Her passion to help others is evident in everything she pursues and the networking community of Chicagoland knows her well for her bubbly personality and giving nature.

Alexandra makes insurance fun, inviting and understandable. Her company, The Insurance People, is contracted to over 120 carriers to serve their clients needs. As a brokerage their commitment is to the client and not any particular carrier. You can be assured your needs are the #1 priority. The Insurance People offers products and services to every day families and businesses that want great insurance at the right price.

Many know Alexandra for her community involvement and work with eWomenNetwork, a professional organization that supports men and women in business. She is on the Board of the Small Business Advocacy Council and is endorsed by Stand Up, eWomenNetwork, Founding Moms and more! Alexandra is passionate about the community and helping others. She is an advocate for her clients, colleagues and friends and works hard to ensure that others succeed and have access to needed resources.

Alexandra and I met through eWomen Network. When I recently saw her at a Founding Moms meeting, she had her twin babies in tow. Now that’s a biz mama who can juggle!

Alexandra Eidenberg

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I run an insurance practice with two awesome business partners—Carmen and Jorge Londono. We have two locations—one in Chicago and another in Park Ridge. I do everyone’s favorite boring things!  Car, home, business liability, workman’s comp, life, health disability, long term care! You name it, I do all that fun jazz. My personal specialty is health insurance. I love helping people find the best coverage at the right price.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

I have Identical Twin Girls that are 9 months old.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I started my business before having children. My business is my first baby! Being a business owner has afforded me the opportunity to be a more hands on mom. I am super grateful for it!

How did your business life change after having children?

I work constantly and live life most passionately when working like crazy. I started running for public office while pregnant with the girls.  Working an insurance practice full time, running for US Congress in the IL 4th District and being a mom is fantastic! Our schedule is always full and the girls come first! I often take them along to meetings, networking events and of course along the congressional race they have been with me the whole time—from in the womb dialing to now attending events in our community.

The biggest change since having the girls is that they are the priority and everything else falls in line from there. If clients don’t like it then it is not the right match, if it does not work for the voters then they are not the target constituency—being a mom is #1 and I surround myself with amazing people that support that mission and cause.

Describe a typical workday.

My day starts with a focus on my girls.  I stay at home until 10 am so I can coordinate their wake up, breakfast and getting ready for the day. I get to my office around 10:30 am and kick butt getting as much done for both The Insurance People and my political campaign, Friends of Alexandra.  I coordinate applications, follow up with clients on benefits, claim processing and more, interview with various publications, focus fundraising efforts, check email throughout and of course pump several times to make sure my girls have milk for when I get home around 5 pm.

I cook and feed the girls dinner when I get home.  Mir and Anna love being in the kitchen with me and we have a great time sampling varies vegetarian foods I love making!  By 7 pm they are in the bathtub getting ready for bed and then I repeat this every day Monday through Thursday.  I take Fridays off to be with the girls and work during their noon – 3 pm nap so I do not fall behind on my work.  We all thrive on our routine and love it!

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Get a routine going that works for you! Your kids and spouse will appreciate it and it will create normalcy that you and your business need.  You will likely never get the entire to do list done so focus on the urgent then work down the list to the important. If people do not respect your schedule and how you work then move on to another client that is better for you. Owning your own business is about working with people that see eye to eye with you.  You grow together and thrive together.

More about Alexandra’s campaign for US Congress

I am excited to be the voice of women and small business owners.  My campaign for US Congress has been momentous and thrilling.  Being a mom, wife, small business owner, community activist and leader has given me the strength and joy to take on this level of service for our community. We are looking forward to a big win on March 18th for the Democratic Primary. Please help us win by volunteering, donating and voting!  Women supporting women is the key to us winning. Please vote! Vote to support our rights and help women serve.

Alexandra Eidenberg
The Insurance People, Friends of Alexandra

Chicago IL
Twitter: @ACEidenberg
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexandraeidenberg
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alexandraeidenberg/

September 4, 2013

Featured Biz Mamas: Lindsay Kavet & Jessica Cribbs of Expressing Motherhood

Featured Biz Mamas: Jessica Cribbs & Lindsay Kavet of Expressing Motherhood

Left to right: Jessica & Lindsay with Maria Shriver after their Today Show interview. Opening night of their show in Burbank, CA (dresses provided by Unique Vintage)

Biz Mama columnThis week’s featured Biz Mama(s) are former Midwestern girls, Lindsay Kavet & Jessica Cribbs of Expressing Motherhood. Currently residing in Southern California, these two stay-at-home moms (using the term loosely) manage to each raise 3 kids apiece and put on a popular stage show.

In 2008, stay-at-home moms Lindsay and Jessica conceived the idea for Expressing Motherhood after leaving their full time jobs outside the home to work full time inside the home. Expressing Motherhood is the hit, on-going stage show that has been showcasing people with stories of motherhood onstage ever since. It was the first stage show of its kind to offer a platform for these stories with no acting, writing or speaking background, the space to just get up and share their experience regarding motherhood.

Lindsay Kavet is the Co-Creator/Director & Producer of the show. She also launched FixTheToaster.wordpress.com last summer, a site dedicated to bringing discussion to making our roads safer. Jessica Cribbs is Co-creator and Producer. When she’s not driving carpool or separating fights, she’s blogging about her favorite family-friendly town in SoCal at BurbankMom.com.

Lindsay Kavet & Jessica Cribbs of Expressing Motherhood

Tell us a little about your job responsibilities with the Expressing Motherhood show.

Lindsay and I started the show together and it’s actually been really cool to see how we’ve morphed into the roles we have now. Lindsay is the one who casts and directs the shows and works with the performers on the editing of their pieces, if necessary. We know what works with these shows, and that’s normally no more than 5-7 minutes per performer. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to get amazing stories down to that amount of time…but Lindsay does it very well, without compromising the integrity of the story.

Lindsay and I share a lot of the producing responsibilities on the shows, meaning, the booking of the theatre, networking, social media, blogging, events and such.. And I’ll create our programs and graphics for promotion and such.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

Lindsay: 7-year old boy, 3-year old boy and 2-year old girl
Jessica: 8-year old girl, 6-year old boy and 3-year old girl

How does having children affect your working life, in particular, when producing an on-going stage show?

I can truly only speak for myself on this, but I will tell you that Lindsay and I are both committed to our families and raising our children takes a priority over our show production. There have been times when we’ve both agreed that a show at that time or this time wouldn’t be beneficial to either of us…so we set our show schedules to our family schedules.

Producing a show does affect my life as a mother…I know that I, personally, struggle with the mom-guilt of a preoccupied mind. I would say that having children doesn’t really affect my working life so much…but the working life I want affects my life with my children. And I suppose that’s where my guilt comes in! I do think, though, it’s important for my kids to watch me do things that make me happy.

Describe a typical day when you have a show in production.

(Laughing) We love show days! Typically we’ve had our nails done…for the first time in a long time…and maybe even hair…a new dress or shoes…. Most of our producing work has been done at that moment, so it’s just a matter of showing up to the theatre and putting on a show! Lindsay and I thoroughly have a fantastic time on show days. We are both stay at home mothers, so when opening night comes, we know we’re in for a treat…a little creative break does a mother good. There is work to do on a performance day, sometimes there are sponsors to work with or more programs to order/pick up… we make sure our performers have what they need for a great show, etc. When we take that final bow, the satisfaction that comes with it is just amazing.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

A tip, eh….. Well, from me personally, I suppose my ‘tip’ would come directly from my mother. Before she passed away, she said she wanted one thing for us…’Be Happy. Be A Family…that’s it.” Really, what that means to me is make sure your priorities are in order. The rest will fall into place.

Final thoughts?

Lindsay and I are both Midwestern Gals…we LOVE this part of the country and cannot wait to visit family, friends and just put on an amazing, poignant, entertaining show. We’re looking forward to tasting the best of Chicago…maybe catching a show somewhere in Town and enjoying a Girls “Extended” weekend!

See Expressing Motherhood in Chicago!

Expressing Motherhood will be at Stage 773 in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood from September 19–21. Buy tickets here. I’ll be there! Will you?

Expressing Motherhood

Los Angeles, CA
Twitter: @ExMoShow
Facebook: ExpressingMotherhood

August 21, 2013

Featured Biz Mama: Leasa Navarro of kickSprout

Filed under: Biz Mama,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Biz Mama: Leasa Navarro of kickSprout

Biz Mama columnkickSprout is a social community connecting women experiencing pregnancy and motherhood face-to-face in local cities to help navigate the world of parenting. They empower moms to organize local groups, events and workshops to connect families to learn from one another as well as through local experts on topics that are vital to raising a strong family. kickSprout is the place to experience the transition to motherhood & family life together.

Leasa Navarro is co-Founder of kickSprout, managing business development, brand partnerships and daily operations. Prior to kickSprout, Leasa served as an Interior Designer in Chicago. Leasa is a busy mom of 2 and currently lives in Chicago with her husband and two children, 3-1/2 years old and 13 months.

I met Leasa after attending a kickSprout event in Chicago when my son was just a few months old. I loved the kickSprout concept and community and am excited to see the organization grow!

Leasa Navarro of kickSprout

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

We are a small startup so I am pretty much involved with all aspect of kickSprout. I focus mostly on business development and brand partnerships as well day to day operations. I am also very involved in member support and relationships. I attend as many events and outings I can because one of my favorite parts of being involved with kickSprout is meeting and connecting all the amazing Moms and Moms-To-Be. kickSprout is a social community and we believe that creating a supportive community for moms will create a flourishing community and a better world. We’ll be parents until the day we die and will always have something to learn and give back. kickSprout is not about us, but about the parents and people we want to help and support.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

Daughter 3-1/2 and a son 13 months.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

We started kickSprout when our daughter was around 8 months old and really started because of our own need as first time parents. The moment we brought our daughter home from the hospital (after 4 days in the NICU) and the role of mom and dad sunk in; we quickly realized that this parenting thing amidst all the advice, was going to be much different from what we had expected.

We were the first of our friends to launch into the world of parenting and we were completely lost. We were truly looking for was a community to connect face to face with other parents as well as access to experts to ask our burning questions. We yearned for a community of parents to reassure one another that we were not all going crazy. We wanted to hear, “Don’t worry, we’ve been there before.”

How did your business life change after having children?

As I mentioned we started kickSprout in response to our new life as parents. It is definitely busy trying to balance and juggle everything on your plate running a business and taking care of the family. Even more so with two. I feel am very fortunate though that I am able to be home to watch my kids grow up as well as work on a company that is all about them and helping to make me a better Mom!

Describe a typical workday.

Typical, ha I don’t think I have one of those!! I have a sitter that stays with the kids 2 days a week so on those days I would say I have a more “typical” work day. On the other 5 days of the week I try to squeeze in work and work around family time, nap time, dinner time and doing a lot of work in the evenings. Being organized is key. I wish I could say I was a super organized person but it is still something I work on day to day.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Guy Kawasaki said his 2 kids are the ultimate Startups and that is something that has stuck with me. There are a lot of similarities in becoming a parent and starting a business, you work a lot for at times little outward reward but both experiences are things I wouldn’t change for the world. It is hard to figure out a balance at times but I know my family is “my” ultimate Startup so as long as they are happy and healthy I have succeeded.


Chicago, IL
Twitter: @kicksprout
Facebook: kicksprout
Click here to find a kickSprout group in your city

Let’s help kickSprout grow!

kicksprout indiegogo campaignkickSprout has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help them add chapters to new cities. As a mom, I know how important it is to have parent resources and a support system, especially in those early days.

Click here to watch the video and donate to this great cause!

Campaign runs through Sept. 1, 2013

July 12, 2013

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards!

UPDATE! I’m happy to announce that my baby & kids line, typebaby has been nominated in two categories in the Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards: Most Awesome Mom-Run Businesses (Chicago) and Most Awesome Clothing Lines for Boys!

Red Tricycle is a fantastic online resource for parents, sharing kid-friendly events, dining, and activities in your own neighborhood. They are in multiple US cities, including most recently my hometown, Chicago.

I’m proud to be included on both of these lists, especially because they include many friends and fellow entrepreneur moms.

Click on one of the graphic below to vote for typebaby! Voting runs through August 15, 2013.

Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Mom-Run Businesses


Vote for typebaby in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards: Clothing Lines for Boys

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