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SC Letters | 02

April 16, 2014 2 comments
I know I just introduced this series, but I'm so excited about it that I'm going to share another today! I am going to switch it up a little bit though! I want to share a resource I recently came across, that has been a lifesaver during my NSS prep! When I decided to launch a 60+ greeting card line, I knew that I wanted to hand letter most of them (all but 20 are brand new and hand lettered by yours truly!). Hand lettering the phrases and sentiments, alone is pretty time consuming and then I have to scan the sketches into the computer and spend even more time perfecting before I get to the final product. Thankfully, a few weeks back Angie (Angie Sandy Design & Illustration) took the time to give me a few pointers that really made the process go quicker. I'm so thankful for friends I've made in this industry that really are invested in building up others. Thank you, Angie!

While I have been able to speed up my time in the computer with Angie's tips, I was still feeling pretty overwhelmed with all I had to vectorize. Enter Swiftly. They help out with small graphic design projects - updating business cards, Facebook/Twitter graphics, etc. (Perfect for those of you who either aren't graphic savvy or don't have the software needed!) From their website: "Got a small design job? We'll do it, fast. For just $19, we'll match your job with a skilled graphic designer and complete it in less than one hour."

Sure enough, I uploaded my file (my scanned in hand lettering), asked them to turn my sketches into vectors and requested an Adobe Illustrator file in return. Boom. Within the hour I had my file and was able to quickly move on to designing my cards! (Scroll down for a peek at two of our new hand lettered southern sayin' cards! They will be available in just a few short weeks!) You have to pay up front ($19) for your projects (get a free task with the link below!) but you are given the option to make revisions and they have a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the outcome of your project! Sounds like a win win to me!

Head on over to Swiftly and get a FREE task so you can try it out for yourself! Full disclosure: If you use the link I will get a free task as well. That being said, I would share this resource with or without the freebie, because it is something that has truly been helpful in the last few weeks! :)








SC Letters is a (hopefully) weekly series in which I post a bit of hand lettered work. See previous entries here!


SC Letters | 01

April 15, 2014 3 comments
I often share peeks into my sketchbook over on Instagram and they tend to be my most popular posts. In an effort to stay accountable not only here on the blog, but in practicing my lettering styles, I thought I would start a new series - SC Letters. (#scletters is the hashtag I use on Instagram to group all of my lettering photos.) I'm aiming to post weekly but every once in awhile I'm sure I'll miss a week or two! With Easter coming up this Sunday, I thought it fitting to letter something inspired by the holiday.

HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID. COME AND SEE THE PLACE WHERE HE LAY. MATTHEW 28:6




I don't believe I'll do this every time but I thought it'd be fun to show a little bit of my process! The first photo shows my initial pencil sketch. It's kind of messy and there are lines everywhere! Once I am happy with the sketch, I outline with a black Micron pen (shown in photo 2). I then fill in the entire sketch (shown in photo 3). I decided to go without the extra swashes because I didn't like how they were turning out!






Once I'm finished filling in the sketch, I scan (or in this case take a picture with my iPhone) it in to my computer and turn it into a vector using Adobe Illustrator. From there I play with the layout and color choices which is probably my favorite part of the entire process.

I'm hoping that this little blog project will help me explore some new techniques. I feel like I'm not as creative with my layouts and coloring as I would like to be, so I'm excited to see how I (hopefully) improve! I hope you like this new series and I'll be back next week with another installment!


National Letter Writing Month

April 14, 2014 1 comments
Photo by Freestone Photography

I don't think it's any secret that I am a cheerleader for the handwritten note. There is something so special about someone taking the time to actually put pen to paper, even if it's just for a quick hello! In a stack of bills, a letter from a loved one can truly turn my day around! It takes effort to write and send a letter and means so much more than a quick text or email.

It just so happens that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month! It's an annual effort to promote literacy and celebrate the art of letter writing. "The writing, sending and receiving of letters, post cards and greeting cards is a tradition that has preserved our nation's history and changed lives. Unlike other forms of communications, card and letter writing is timeless, personal and immediately tangible."

Letter writing is definitely a dying form of communication and we are on a mission to save it! So get out your set of personalized stationery (or buy some southern sayin' note cards from our shop!) and send out a few handwritten notes this month!


SC Builds a Well | Love One Another Gold Foil Print

March 28, 2014 0 comments
Back in September, I first shared my vision for building a well in Haiti. Part of our mission at Stephanie Creekmur is to spread love wherever and however we can, and one way we hope to do that is by providing clean water to those who need it. I have been talking with Richard from Helping Hands in Motion about ways we can get involved and help make this happen. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel or step on any toes of those already drilling in Haiti, I thought it'd be best for us to partner with those who are already there doing this work.

In our early talks it didn't seem like our financial support was needed in Haiti, as they had raised enough for the wells scheduled for drilling. There was however talk of sponsoring a well in India. This kind of caught me off guard because that's not quite the plan I had, but as we know, our plans are not always His plans. I let that thought marinate for a couple months and to be honest this project fell to the back burner. I feel terrible for even typing this, but with Stationery Academy and preparing for the National Stationery Show, I haven't had time for much else. Ew. Is my job (though it is my dream job and I love every minute) more important than someone having clean water? Absolutely not. It's so hard to keep things in perspective in this world we live in.

Yesterday I was able to speak with Richard again, and they have hit a bump in the road with the drilling of the well in Callebasse (A tiny town on top of a mountain. This is where I traveled last July to work in the orphanage and where I am heading at the end of June!). The existing roads have major pot holes and need repairing and there are two new roads (rocky paths) that need to be worked on so the machinery is able to get where it needs to to do the work. 

That's where we come in! They need $5,000 to make this all happen and they need it as soon as possible. There will be a few different groups and churches trying to raise this money but I would love if we could raise (at least) $1,000, which I think is an absolutely attainable goal!

Last night on Instagram, I shared this sneak peek into my sketchbook:


I wanted to create something that could hang in your home (as well as mine) and serve as a reminder to "love one another". Whether it's cooking a meal for a family going through a rough time, buying coffee for the person behind you, or building wells in Haiti, it's important we do what we can to show love and give hope to others.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12

This print is now for sale in our shop to help us raise the money needed! This is probably one of my favorite things I've ever created and if you only buy one thing from my shop during the entirety of it's lifetime, I hope you buy this.

In order to reach our goal we will need to sell about 50 prints! I know that we can do this, and more! I hope that you will find some way to support this project! Below are just a few ways you can help!
  1. Purchase a print. Or 10.
  2. Share about our project.
  3. Donate (any amount helps!) using the button in our sidebar.
  4. Pray that we are able to spread the word far and fast.
  5. Pray for everyone involved in the building of this well.
  6. Pray for the community of Calabase and the children in the orphanage.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our project. Now, share it with a friend! ;)

You can read my journal entries from my first two trips, here.

NSS 2014 | News + Updates

March 27, 2014 0 comments
Photo by JCE Photography
Back in February I shared that I'll be exhibiting at the National Stationery Show in NYC this May (May 18-21, 2014) and I can't believe how quickly it's approaching! I am so excited and ready to share all that I've been working on! It's so hard to keep it a secret! 

If you're a retailer interested in carrying our line we'd love to send you our pretty NSS invitation. I would love to meet y'all and show you the new collection and would be tickled pink if you'd stop by booth #2628! Simply drop us a line at howdy@stephaniecreekmur.com with your mailing address and we will add you to our list!

On a related note – our Southern Sayin' Note Sets have been on the NSS homepage for a couple of weeks now! I was surprised and so excited when I saw them on there! I think it was the first time it hit me that I am actually doing this. It's no longer just something on the ol' bucket list!




It's most likely going to be pretty quiet around these parts while we gear up for the big show. I'll try to pop in occasionally with some updates and maybe a few sneak peeks and Courtney might chime in at some point! Thanks for your patience and for your support as we embark on this new and exciting part of the Stephanie Creekmur journey!

P.S. Did anyone happen to notice the illustrated butterfly up above? Yeah, just another sneak peek! ;)



Why Our Logo is Changing... Again.

March 19, 2014 1 comments
I know I say this a lot, but... If you follow us on Instagram, you have already seen this little peek into what I've been secretly working on. As I kind of suspected, I've received quite a few questions regarding why in the world I would want to change our (beautiful, amazing, etc.) logo? After all, I did just debut her in June of 2012 and I truly do love it so much!

First, let me say that I have used my current logo far longer than any other face I've given my company, (You can read more about my story and logo transformations if you're interested.) but it just doesn't make sense for me anymore. Updating my logo has been on my mind for quite a few months but I have put it off for so long because I love my logo. It still makes me so happy when I see it, but beyond just being pretty, I love the journey I went through for that transformation.




There are many reasons why I could keep my current logo, but these are the reasons why I feel it's necessary for growth.

01. I WANT SOMETHING UNIQUE. | When I started on my DIY branding journey I had many questions yet to be answered, but there was one thing I knew for sure. I knew I wanted a handwritten logo. I sell stationery and am a cheerleader for the handwritten note and it just felt right. After months of searching for the perfect fit, I hired Angi of Angelique Ink. She's fabulous and so easy to work with and if you're looking for a calligrapher I will always include her on my list of recommendations. In fact, I responded to many emails and Facebook messages regarding my logo and who was responsible for the beautiful lettering. But, the problem with hiring a calligrapher for your logo, is that other people can and will hire them too. I want to create a unique and sustaining brand and I feel it's important our logo is all our own.

02. I HAND LETTER A MAJORITY OF OUR PRODUCTS. | For the past year I've incorporated many hand-lettered elements into our products and I want to continue to do this because I enjoy it so much and it's one of the things that make our products unique. It seems a little weird to me that I hand letter for our product lines but our logo was lettered by someone else.

03. I DON'T OFFER CALLIGRAPHY. | Our logo is in a beautiful style of modern calligraphy, but we don't offer calligraphy services in our shop and our products don't include that style either. It seems a bit misleading and for us it's just another reason we are ready to evolve to the next phase.

At this point I don't have anything set in stone, but progress is being made towards a change! I just wanted to fill y'all in so you're not surprised when we debut the new logo! And as always, if you want to be in the loop first, follow along on Instagram!

Hope y'all have a great day!

Shop Sale! | I am the Luckiest!

March 17, 2014 0 comments
I am the Luckiest Note Card available in the Stephanie Creekmur Shop
It's true! I am the luckiest! Y'all are awesome and I am so thankful for your friendship and support! AND - we love to celebrate holidays around here so we are celebrating St. Patrick's Day with 17% OFF the entire shop! Just use coupon code "LUCKY17" at checkout!

Oh - and have you seen our new chalkboard prints? We are SO excited about them! We currently have Cheers Y'allThanks Y'all and We're Gettin' Hitched available in the shop and we have a few others coming oh so soon!





I hope you have a festive day! Happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all!


Shop Talk 02 | 5 Quick Steps to Up Your Online Game

March 11, 2014 3 comments
Running your own business is a never-ending to-do list. I constantly feel inadequate because I create these huge (big dreamin') lists for myself and I don't always complete the tasks. True, most of our duties take longer than a couple of minutes, but there are lots of things we can do to quickly up our online game! Below are just 5 that I have come up with for today and I hope they inspire you to take action and quickly knock out some tiny details that will pack a big punch!

01. PURCHASE A UNIQUE WEB DOMAIN. | If you have a website or blog I hope you have already done this (if not, get to it!) but even if you only have an Etsy shop, it's important for you to have a unique web domain. This is another way to set yourself apart from other Etsy sellers and it will also be easier to let people know where they can shop your goods! It's super easy to direct the domain to your shop and will make your business cards look even more professional!

02. ADD YOUR WEBSITE TO THE "ABOUT" SECTION ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. | This is super easy to do and seems like a no brainer to me, but I can't tell you how many business pages do not include their website here. Facebook is a great marketing tool but your goal is to get them to your website/shop. You don't want visitors to have to hunt for your website so make it easy for them! You can see how I have mine set up below.




03. CREATE CUSTOM FACEBOOK BUTTONS | This is a great way to customize your Facebook page so it is in line visually with your other brand elements. Add widgets to help get the content you want, available on your page!

04. SNAP A QUICK BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTO. | Do you have an Instagram account for your business? (If not, I highly suggest you sign up immediately! It's super fun and easy to quickly share what's going on with your audience!) Customers love to see what's going on behind the scenes. Do you have a new product line in the works? Are you busy packaging up orders? Let them in on bits and pieces of the every day hustle. They want to know more of your story.

05. PIN 10 ITEMS (5 FOR PROMO, 5 FOR FUN). | As you probably already know, Pinterest is responsible for a lot of the traffic many small businesses and blogs see. Use it to your advantage. I like to pin my products to a variety of boards because some people only follow certain boards. Also keep in mind it's not recommended to bombard Pinterest with a bunch of promotional pins. Be sure you pin an equal amount more from other sources than you do your own peddling. (You can read more of my Pinterest tips if you're interested!)

So there ya have it! Five quick and easy steps you can take to instantly up your game! I hope that even if you have most of these covered that you were inspired with another idea! This "small business owner" thing is tricky and your work is never done!



Instagram for the Creative Entrepreneur

March 10, 2014 2 comments
Oh happy day, friends! I hope the sun is shining as beautifully where you are as it is here in middle Tennessee because it really does wonders for my mood! This winter has had me in a funk (I think it's because I've been separated from my pretty summer dresses for far too long) and I am so ready for warmer weather!

Anyway! In the past I've shared some tips for how to use Pinterest and Twitter so its enjoyable for not only you, but your followers as well! Today I want to talk about my (hands-down) favorite social media platform of the moment: Instagram. It is the most enjoyable for me to use personally and it is where I get the most interaction with Stephanie Creekmur customers and followers. I see a greater ROI (Return On Investment) with Instagram than I do with Facebook or Twitter which is great because as I said, it's the most enjoyable for me!

Below are a few tips and tricks to consider when running an IG account for your creative business.

Follow our shop @StephanieCreekmur


KNOW WHAT STORY YOU'RE TELLING. What is the main purpose of your IG account? Are you using it to capture precious family moments? Is it your food or fashion diary? Is it a marketing tool for your business? If you answered yes to that last question than you need to be more intentional with what types of posts you make. What part of the story do you want your Instagram to tell? I use my account for sneak peeks and behind the scenes. I feel like that's where my most loyal followers are so I like to share the good stuff with them first. I also like to share little snippets of my personal life but in extreme moderation because while my followers do want to know who's behind the business, they are following my account because of the beautiful things we're creating. (Also, if you are using your account for business but you just happen to love gourmet cooking, your bio is a great place to let people in on what types of photos you'll be sharing. This could be an opportunity to make a connection point based on something entirely different than what you do daily.)

USE NATURAL LIGHT. As with any type of photo taking, natural light works best and the same goes for Instagram photos. If lighting conditions aren't ideal, there are a number of ways to spruce up your images and I'll share some of my favorites below.

BE CONSISTENT. There are many ways to communicate your brand message and Instagram is a great place to do that visually. Decide whether you're going to use borders on your photos (personally I prefer no borders) and which filters you like best and stick to those decisions. When someone scrolls through your feed you want them to see all of the beautiful things you are posting and to not be distracted by all the clutter. You want the photos to feel consistent throughout.

DON'T BOMBARD THE FEED. I get it. You have a lot of awesome things you want to share, but chances are your followers don't want to see 4 pictures from you in a row. Space out your posting so they are anxious for your next post instead of tuning you out. I try not to post more than three times a day and if I post that much, I share once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I will say that I get the most interaction on my late night posts because like myself, that's when my audience is using the platform the most.

EASY ON THE HASHTAGS. Sometimes hashtags are a really useful way to get your posts seen by people interested in the same topic. For instance, I tag all of my hand lettered posts with #handlettering and I love exploring the tag to see what other people are creating. It's also a great way to group your own photos with a unique tag. Again, with my hand lettered posts I tag them with #scletters. Viewers can click on that tag and see all of my IG photos that involve my hand lettering. I highly suggest that if you own a business of any kind and are using the platform as a marketing tool, that you create a unique hashtag for your business. We tag every post that has to do with the shop with #StephanieCreekmur. We also encourage our customers to do the same when sharing their purchases on social media. It's a fun way to keep up with our products after they leave our studio! All that being said, don't go overboard. Tag with intention and make sure you're using hashtags that have purpose and will group like photos together like the examples stated above.

DON'T REPOST THE SAME PHOTOS OVER & OVER . Twitter has been described as a river and your posts are usually only seen by a small fraction each time, so it's a good idea to re-share your posts throughout the day. Instagram is similar but I think followers click over to a user's profile much more frequently than they do on Twitter. If you re-share your giveaway image 4 times in a row it will probably result in a few un-follows due to lack of interest. You can re-share the same information, but switch it up with a different photo to keep it interesting. (Also, this is definitely personal preference, but quit asking your followers to repost your images in order to win a giveaway. I know you think this will get you more exposure, but I just skip right over those types of posts. I pay as much attention to them as I pay attention to those horrible ads at the top of a blog. Try and be a little more creative when reaching out to your audience.)

GIVE FIRST, ASK LATER. What are you contributing to the relationship? This is a great question to continually ask yourself in all aspects of life, but especially when talking about your online presence. If you are constantly asking for a sale, your followers might start to tune you out and that is the last thing you want. Giving first doesn't have to mean a giveaway (actually that's really the last thing I'm talking about). How can you add value to the platform instead of more noise. Pay attention the the types of posts that really resonate with you as well as the posts that seem to get the most attention from your followers.

PHOTO EDITING APPS. Lastly, I wanted to share some of my favorite apps for editing my photos. I always like to try and get the best shot I can (lighting, angle, cropping, etc.) right off the bat, but sometimes the photos need a little lovin' and these are my go-to apps!
  • PicTapGo I almost always start here when editing my photos. I love that I can brighten the images and there are a lot of filters that have a more natural appearance compared to the selection on Instagram. You can crop and rotate your photos and import directly into IG for easy posting. You also have the option to create "recipes" which makes for quick and consistent photos.
  • VSCOcam This is the app I used before PicTapGo. It does many of the same things but I didn't like the filter options as much. I know a lot of people who love this editing app, so even though I don't really use it anymore it's another great option.
  • Frametastic This is what I use when I want to create a photo collage for IG. I love that I can control the width of the borders (I like no outside border and very thin inside borders) and they have the simple layouts I'm looking for. If you choose to use photo collages, keep the layouts simple. With multiple photos in the tiny IG square you don't need a crazy layout.
  • Whitagram Sometimes you just want to share a photo with landscape orientation and you can't fit everything into the IG square. This is where Whitagram steps in. It's simple and easy to use and import directly into IG.
  • Flipagram This is great if you have multiple photos you'd like to share at once - randomly or in a sequence - and it allows you to add music. I've used this app when showing stages of my hand lettering in my sketchbook (here) and a recap of my 2013 (here).
  • Waterlogue This is a recent obsession (that took over IG fairly quickly) and another way to add some interest to your photos. It takes your image and creates a watercolor painting. 
  • Cute CUT I just recently downloaded this app to help me speed up this video. I don't post a lot of videos on IG but I am excited to add a few more hand lettering action videos! 
  • InstaVM This is another new app and I used it to add music to the video above, which was fun!
Now, if only Instagram would allow clickable links within posts... :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments -
DO YOU HAVE ANY IG TIPS OR PET PEEVES TO ADD? 


5 for 5! | We're Celebrating & You Can Too!

March 7, 2014 0 comments
I hope y'all have had a wonderful week! The sun has been shining (and if you follow along on Instagram you know we've moved our home studio out of the basement and into the guest room so we can literally see the light of day!) and the days have been just a bit longer! Thank ya, Jesus - I think I can see Spring on the horizon!

Earlier this week I shared about my 5 year entrepreneurship journey and we are still celebrating with a 5 for 5! You can enjoy $5 OFF (that takes care of shipping and then some in most cases!) anything until this Sunday (March 9, 2013). Just use coupon code "HAPPYFIVE" at checkout!

I hope y'all have a great weekend!

xo - Steph


 
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