I was celebrating my 32th birthday when I second guessed myself before ordering a third round of mojitos. “It’s been a while since the last time I’ve used my Kotex pads in my beach bag”, I thought to myself.
The next day we were flying to Orlando, Florida to go to Halloween Horror Nights + Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, so I did what any slightly paranoid human being would do. I took a lab pregnancy test.
It came out positive.
That’s the moment my life changed. In an instant. One minute, I was extremely excited about wine tasting + upside down roller coaster riding. The next, I could only think of one thing:
I’m going to be a mom!!!
I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!
I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!
Everything else took the passenger seat.
Now I must confess, before I found out I was expecting, I knew pretty much nothing about pregnancy. I mean, only the basics – the possibility of morning sickness + the importance of belly oils to avoid stretch marks, but other than that, I was clueless. Clue. Less.
Being so close to the finish line, Olivia could pick her birthday any minute now, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned about pregnancy + becoming a mom + expanding my tolerance for a lot more mess in my life and business. Whether you’re a mom-to-be + new-mom + pro-mom + mom-of-a-furry-creature-or-cactus or wish-to-be-a-mom-one-day, I think you’ll find something of value in this list. Or at the very least you’ll get a good laugh out of some of these.
Here I go, the things I’ve learned while carrying a little pea inside my pod named Olivia Larrinaga Carles:
1. Being pregnant is a freaking miracle. We lost our first baby. He’s teeny tiny heart stopped beating around the 3-month ultrasound. The pain we experienced, David + I, was inexplicable. It was the first time in my life I couldn’t “fix” what had happened. And that was very hard for me. That feeling of complete impotence. When we got the news we had been given another chance to be parents, we didn’t care if we were having a girl or a boy, if we were having twins or triplets, if the baby was a Scorpio or a Gemini. Nothing mattered but our love for this new life, this MIRACLE, that was growing inside of me. We just felt so incredibly blessed. They say, babies that follow a loss come from the rainbow. I absolutely believe it now!
2. Pregnancy is the happiest reason to feel like crap. Every leg cramp + every food aversion + every sleepless night + every emotional tantrum + every ninja kick that took my breath away in the wee hours of the night… all of it feels irrelevant. I know this may sound masochistic, but I swear, these have been the happiest days of my life.
3. My patience is a limited + precious resource that I now guard with my life. These days, the little patience I have left is exclusively reserved for my family + my community + top priority projects. No guilt or shame about it either. I’m not even looking to optimize my patience or apologize for losing my cool when my buttons are pushed. I’m actually enjoying this new “I give a darn about you, if you’re not worth my energy” attitude. Try it, it’s liberating.
4. Other peoples bad moods + insults + attitude problems no longer ruin my day. It was about time, right?
5. I actually don’t like Oreos that much. I only craved Oreos when they weren’t allowed. When I found out I was pregnant, I let my internal Yedi Council guide my choices. When I removed restrictions + punishment from the equation, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the Oreo Monster I thought I was. I’m much more of a homemade carrot cake kinda girl. Big revelation.
6. Surrounding myself with people who I like + like me back is so important. Having a loving support system of crazy aunties + grannies to laugh about pregnancy symptoms or ask stupid questions, like whether or not I could take bubble baths while expecting, was the biggest blessing. Simultaneously, I divorced every relationship that cost too much effort + time + head aches + constant disillusionment to maintain. Olivia truly gave me the courage to embrace petite committees and fire every whiny + pessimistic + energy sucking vampire in my life who is dimming my glittery eyes without feeling bad about it.
7. Life is not that complicated. We complicate things by saying “yes” when what we really wanna say is “no”. I thought it would be hard to clear my calendar + stop overcommitting + make room for baby Olivia. It wasn’t. People are actually pretty cool + understanding when you tell them, “I’m flattered beyond measure that you would think of me for _________, but as you can probably tell my priorities are set on baby making right now. I apologize I can’t do this amazing project justice.”
8. Pregnancy is not 9 months, it’s closer to 10 months. I’m kind of neurotic about timing + planning, so finding out the process was an additional month was an unexpected curveball.
9. WOW I’m not completely incapacitated. Pregnancy is not synonymous with being sick. What a breakthrough! Of course I’ve had my Unnecessary Freaking Out Over Nothing Episodes post eating the entire Christmas buffet table or a big ass-burger the size of my face all to myself, but other than that, I was very happy to find out I was able to go about my day-to-day things as usual. Although I’ve noticed I get more doors opened + everyone seems to want to help me at the grocery store. That’s been nice.
10. Watching Game of Thrones while pregnant is a terrible idea. Baaaaaad indeed.
11. Every dementor has a patronus. All of the changes that happen during pregnancy are so weird that it’s easy to assume there’s a scary new symptom + ache + pain around the corner. But the thing I found surprising is that even the toughest hiccups have remedies. For example, in my 26th week I started experiencing shortness of breath when sleeping on my back. It freaked me out. My doctor recommended adding more pillows + my auntie Aurita gave me this magical Nikken blanket. PUFFF!!! Problem solved! Just like that. I learned that there is always a charm for every curse that stand in the way. Always.
12. Some people… GOSH, are seriously annoying. People suddenly felt like it was appropriate to comment on everything, whether it was my weight + the size of my belly + my diet + even my lifestyle decisions for when Olivia is born. If I need breastfeeding tips + morning sickness tricks or any sort of advice for that matter, I’ll seek it – Google it + enroll in a course + hire a mentor + e-mail a friend or ask my mom. Thank you!
13. People who don’t give unsolicited advice are my favorite kinda of people. Seriously you guys are awesome!
14. People notion of boundaries shift when they find out you’re pregnant. Why? Strangers would randomly grab my stomach + others would over share every detail of their horrifying birth stories. It’s bizarre + I had to keep reminding myself not to take it personally.
15. If I didn’t plan for it, it didn’t happen. I was so forgetful about taking my folic acid + my prenatal vitamins until I got a 7 Day Weekly Pill Box Organizer to store my required supplements. As it turns out, just like with any other important project in life, if it’s not scheduled it doesn’t exist.
16. Having a baby belly is a lot like having Aladdin’s magical lamp, but better. I’ve asked for frozen yogurt in the middle of the day. Granted. I’ve asked for back massages with lavender oil. Granted. I’ve asked for a very specific color of turquoise napkin for my Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party. Granted. I’ve asked for M&M milkshakes. Granted. I’m gonna miss this for sure.
17. Furry creatures know something was up. We have a labrador named Hagrid – Keeper of Keys and Ground of the Larrinaga Carles Headquarters. He’s the size of a jumbo jet + has the personality of an unsupervised puppy dog on sugar high. I was a little nervous when I found out I was pregnant, because he has the tendency to knock you over when he sees you coming with a frisbee. Actually, when he sees you coming, period. But even before we knew a little baby girl was coming, Hagrid strangely became so gentle with me. He stopped tackling me. He suddenly just wanted to cuddle + lick my feet. Something changed that we can’t explain, but I swear, he knew, before we did, that Olivia was coming.
18. Belly oil is my BFF.
19. Changes are gradual. I assumed that changes to my body would happen suddenly, to the point where it would be difficult to shave my legs or get out of bed. While both of those tasks are becoming increasingly challenging, the changes have been slow. One time, when I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that I was splashing water everywhere. I thought that maybe something was wrong with the faucet, but realized it was my bump that was getting in the way LOL.
20. My choices sculpt our future. There is something about creating life + bringing that life into the world that gives you perspective. Perspective ladies + gentz. I believe our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past + present. And with each insensible decision + every act of kindness, we give birth to our future. Which is why I’ve been making more environmentally friendly choices, like picking cloth diapers over disposables + installing bamboo flooring instead of something Made in China, and taking greater interest in impacting positive changes in order to leave our Earth a better place for my daughter.
21. As my belly grows, so does my heart. While I’ve always considered David to be sweet, I wouldn’t have necessarily labeled him as a particularly sensitive guy, before I got pregnant. But he was overwhelmingly supportive of me every step of the way + watching him whisper into my belly every morning + sing songs to Olivia (her favorite “La Espera” from Cultura Profetica) + play Deepack Chopra audiotapes on fatherhood + take an interest in the smallest details of our baby’s life, brought out a new side of him that I’m absolutely head over heals about. I didn’t think I could love him any more, but seeing him in his new role as a dad has made me realize I was wrong.
22. Babies erase your loser scripts. I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my thighs. About my spider veins. About cellulite. About how I look when I put on a bikini. Any body issues or insecurities vanished the second I found out we where gonna be a mommy. Olivia just makes those silly thoughts fly away, like clouds with the wind.
23. You really do glow. It’s not just me + my new found over-confidence. Yes moms are excited about becoming moms, but it’s more than that. As it turns out, glowing skin is a very real thing for pregnant women. While pregnant, the amount of blood in our bodies will increase by 50%. The extra blood ends up showing through the skin in many areas, particularly the cheeks. On top of this, our preggo hormones cause the oil glands to become more active, resulting in a softer, shinier appearance. The result is a noticeable glow (aka Mayi feeling like a goddess).
24. The father-to-be is also a little pregnant. You should see us at every wedding we go to. We attack that dessert table like a lion attacks his prey. You could swear we are both pregnant. And David heartburn is nothing to joke about either. Call it sympathetic pregnancy or whatever you want. It’s real And, I happen to think it’s the cutest thing ever!
25. Pinterest is dangerous. Baby clothes + nursery projects + dressing the bump… oh my! It’s already too late for me, but if you can, safe yourself. Run the other way. That place is a trap.
This mama-to-be might have missed out on the mojitos + said sayonara to sushi for nine months, but it was worth every single second of waiting for Olivia. Every. Single. Second.
What about you? What lessons did you learn while expecting? Any funny revelations or big aha moments? Leave a comment below + let me know!
I have some really exciting news that I’ve been dying to share with you, but things have been sort of top-secret until now.
what is it?
My Life is Messy Planners are part of a huge bundle sale that’s happening in the next 72 hours. This flash sale is called Multi-Passionate Must-Haves + it’s designed specifically for people who have a lot of different interests + creative projects + big ideas in the shower. I’m talking a library of resources worth $1,712 to help turn your many passions into a healthy creative business, one that makes enough money to pay the bills + purchase fancy nail polish + splurge in organic produce if you want to, for just $97.
This year, everything that’s included has been curated to be all about career-related goodness!
Who’s getting pumped?
And wait till you hear everything what’s inside. The Multi-Passionate Must-Haves kit includes:
- 2015 Life is Messy Planners by Mayi Carles ($40 value)
- Best of the Right Brain Business Plan Video Summit by Jennifer Lee ($97 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Biz Shiz by Rebecca Tracey ($35 value)
- Coaching Biz Badassery Bootcamp by Jennie Mustafa-Julock ($250 value)
- Creative Business Kickstart by Amanda Genther ($75 value)
- Creative On Command: Instant Inspiration Exactly When You Need It by Jennifer Blanchard ($9.99 value)
- Find Your Career Compass by Michelle Ward ($37 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Finding Balance: Tools to Define and Defend Harmony in Your Life by Paula Jenkins ($15 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- How to Sell Art on Instagram by Cory Huff ($25 value)
- How to Write a Lovable Homepage by Carrie Klassen ($165 value)
- Living Room Strategy Training by Tara Gentile ($99 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Marketing for Creatives by April Bowles-Olin ($29.50 value)
- More Shenanigans Please by Tiffany Han ($31 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Multi-Passionate Branding by Michelle Nicolaisen and Emilie Wapnick ($67 value)
- The Perfect Set of Testes by Halley Gray ($10 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Ridiculously Awesome Resume & LinkedIn Combo Platter by Jenny Foss ($49 value)
- Say it with Grace: a blueprint for stellar client communications by Nita Apple and Jess Larsen Jukelevics ($159 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- The Ace Freelancer’s Guide to Negotiation by Katie Lane ($60 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Be. Write. Now. Bringing Presence, Mojo, and Momentum to Your Creative Process by Jen Louden ($49 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- The Thriving Artist Master Mentors Bundle by Bonnie Glendinning ($135 value)
- Resume Template by Splash Resumes ($79 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business by Alexis Grant ($47 value)
- Client Conversations by Diane Pauley ($97 value)
- Rock Your Work – Journaling for Success, Sanity and Satisfaction by Deb Cooperman ($16 value – EXCLUSIVE to the sale)
- Awkward, Yo by Shenee Howard ($35 value)
- Create Your Shining Year In Biz + Life Workbooks and Meditation by Leonie Dawson ($18 value)
The total retail price for all of these products comes to $1,712, but for the next 72 hours, you’ll be able to snag them all for only $97!
it’s for a good cause!
And it gets even better. $10 of each sale will be donated to Michelle Ward (aka The When I Grow Up Coach) for the Avon 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer in NY. Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011 + declared cancer-free in June 2012. This will be her forth year walking. Having lost two of my grandparents to cancer, I feel honored to be backing up this do good mission.
This ku-ra-zy sale ends on May 14 at 11:59pm PDT, so if you want to support cancer research + get a ridiculous deal on some of the best products created by multi-passionates for multi-passionates (including moi!), order now!
If you purchase thru my link, I get a cut of the sale. Your support is what helps keep my little business running. Thank you so much!
PS: It’s worth reiterating that 100% of this bundle contains NEW products that haven’t been offered via this sale before, + as you can see above there’s a quite a few offerings that you can’t find anywhere else!
Some people are just so great at talking about what they do + why they do it. They pull people in with a selfie + get everyone around them invested in their lifestyle in mere moments. You people, go away. This post is not for you. Kidding, you can stay… just don’t laugh at the rest of the world who really struggles with this self-promoty game.
Personally, the hardest part of my job is talking about myself to total strangers.
This past Monday I was put to the test. My super talented friend + professional hustler + public speaking powerhouse, Stefy Cohen, invited me to participate in a Girl Power conference. As the avalanche of ladies approached my booth, my heart raced as if I were riding a roller coaster, the upside down kind. Then, Loser FM started playing in my head: What if they don’t like me? What if everyone thinks my book is over-priced? What if my homemade granola isn’t good enough? Does this lace dress make me look pregnant? Wait… I am pregnant!!!
The front line is scary. I know.
Putting yourself on the line can be hard. It’s way easier to stay in bed. Tempting even. But you cannot leave your mark if you’re hiding. Even Batman has to leave his cave to fight crime + save Gotham + change the world. World’s not gonna conquer itself, I keep reminding myself.
I think many creatives struggle with promoting their work the most because, well, the work is so personal. But our small biz empires aren’t gonna create buzz for themselves. We must take the initiative to get out there + make a name for ourselves.
My goal with this post is to help you warm up your self-promoting muscles, so you feel more confident + less icky sharing your unique gifts with the world, because in doing so I’ll freshen up my un-slimmy marketing tactics + take them out for a ride, I’m getting rusty.
Here’s 20 promo-moves that won’t make you feel pucky + will definitively not annoy my tribe. Get grabby!
1. Start with how you can help them. The truth is people are not that into you. What they’re really after is what you can do for them? How your products + services can make their lives better? Ego stand aside. Narrow down your calling into a short + easy to read blurb. Then, place this comprehend sentence somewhere prominent on your website. I wrote mine with my 10 little fingers, so it felt like a personal hand written invitation to connect. How can I be of service? You can see this note on the right hand side of my sidebar, above the fold.
2. Let value take a front seat + self-promotion sit in the back. Focus on delivering outstandingly useful content that always adds value. If you share the best content in a way that’s helpful + actionable + practical, believe me, no one’s gonna think you’re a sleazy telemarketer. In fact, your audience is gonna be so eager to hear from you, they’ll probably subscribe to your newsletter just so they make sure they never miss a thing.
3. Teach what you know. Each one of us is an expert in something – a lawyer is an expert in law + a hairdresser is an expert in beauty care + a guy who sells hot dogs on the corner is an expert in street food. Start positioning yourself as an expert in your field by offering your educated 2-cents. Online, you can create blog posts + write guest posts for other websites that let people know you are an authority in the field. Offline, you can position yourself as an expert by teaching a live class + writing an informative article for a local newsletter or speaking at conferences.
4. Brand everything. Your brand is your company’s personality. Extend this over everything you do, from adding logos to your e-mail signature to your video backdrop. Create an identity for your brand + use it in all your marketing collateral + websites, anywhere that your business is represented really. Think about who your brand is + how you want to present it to others. How do you want to be portrayed? When you decide what you want your brand identity to be, create a brand book (also known as a style guide) so your brand stays consistent + tight. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some other examples of brand books.
5. Don’t forget about your printed material. When you send thank you notes to your clients, is your logo on there somewhere? When you hand out fliers, are they customized to match your brands look and feel? When you create downloads for your blog posts or products, do you remember to add your website in the footer? Well, you should. Consider looking at printed collateral designs that other graphic artists have created to get some design inspiration.
6. Add that fancy code. Now that smartphones are so popular, having a QR code is a great way to subtly attract new business. Placing a convenient QR code with a link to your website on your marketing items will make it more likely that potential customers will actually follow through. QR codes can also be set to dial a phone number so that customers who are interested in your services can quickly find out what you can do for them.
7. Use social media to be social, duh! Sharing content for the sake of sharing content is a one-way broadcast. Engaging with your community is a conversation. One is “how can I gain” focused, the other is “how can I give” centered. Guess which one works best? Exactly! Don’t just pop on social media every time you have a new promotion or update your website. Be an active member of your community.
8. Create social content that your followers want to repost. Asking questions + sharing quotes + posting brainteasers or even making jokes are all ways to try to encourage socialization. This, in turn will help get the word-of-mouth out about your brand + help drive up sales. And don’t forget to ask for the share – “tag a friend” or “send this to someone who needs to hear this.”
9. Nobody can say what your business does better than an enthusiastic customer or friend. This is the picture my bestie April Bowles-Olin posted on Instagram as soon as she received her Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook in the mail. I instantly regramed it + got a boost in sales that day. Make an effort to follow up with customers + friends who have recently bought products or services to gauge their satisfaction. Ask them if they’d be willing to give a referral + provide a testimonial or share a cute picture, which many are happy to do. Use these gems you’ve collected on marketing materials + highlight them on your website + social media platforms. Getting referrals + testimonials + visual proof that your stuff rocks, not only increases your trust factor, but it generates more leads, which means more money in your piggy bank. The best marketing of all is happy clients.
10. Go to a networking conferences or event. But remember it’s not about who talks the loudest or hands out the most free lollipops, you have to be brave enough to get vulnerable + make genuine connections. That’s how me + my business partner April Bowles-Olin clicked. We sat right next to each other at Marie Forleo’s Rich Happy and Hot LIVE. For us, building a friendship that would last a lifetime was far more meaningful than doing small talk with hundreds of women in a 2-day event. When it comes to relationships, always choose quality over quantity.
11. Don’t be a stranger, keep in touch. Meeting new people is important in self-promotion, but once you’ve met someone new, you have to be willing to maintain the relationship for it to be truly beneficial. Keep up with your former + current clients to let them know you still care. Sending out birthday greetings + VIP promotions is a great way to make them feel appreciated. Take the time to respond to posts on social networking sites. This extends to more than just clients + business relations. It also includes your friends + your neighbors + your old college buddies – everybody that means something to you, regardless of whether or not it has the potential to lead you to new business opportunities.
12. Consider doing some pro bono work. Working pro bono isn’t just for lawyers, every business can benefit from the great word of mouth that comes from donating your time + resources. True tale: I’m such a loyal Kiehl’s customer that I got a call the other day to book a free facial, and I could even bring a friend. I was so astonished by this act of generosity that I told everyone I know how much I love this brand + how amazing their products are. You can’t beat the kind of glowing recommendation that comes from making someone’s day.
13. Craft your elevator pitch. Nine seconds– that’s the amount of time people will pay attention before getting distracted by the next shiny object. Naturally we must find the quickest + easiest way to explain what you do (and practice it), so that during brief encounters with potential clients, you are able to make the most use of your time. They call it an “elevator pitch” because it should be short enough to last an elevator ride while still making an impact.
14. Be human. The key to self-promotional is to maintain a sense of humility. No one likes a bragging + boasting brat. Be a human being, not human spam.
15. Host community outreach efforts. For instance, if you’re a cheese shop, host a tasting every Thursday. If you’re a painter, have open studio nights the first Monday of every month. If you’re a yoga instructor, let clients bring a friend for free on Sundays. These are all great ways to try establishing a repertoire with local clientele.
16. Tell good stories. Storytelling is an accent art. It is less about language + more about making people feel something. In the words Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
17. Tease em’, just a little. It’s not enough to create interest, you have to stop your reader from thinking, “Oh, that’s probably going to be about X + Y + Z. I bet I know that already.” Psychological tests reveal that most people assume they know more than they actually do, so you definitely want to make sure you’re not losing readers who “think” they know what you’re going to tell them. For example, Heartmade readers who see this headline: “How to Self-Promote” might assume she already knows how. As a result, she doesn’t feel compelled to read the article. That’s why: “How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs)” works much better. Ultimately, you’re poking should let your peeps know, “Look, I know you know a lot, but you don’t know this.” And this really encourages the curiosity gremlin to wreak havoc.
18. Host a giveaway. The secret to hosting successful giveaways is to first set an intention – why you’re doing this? Do you want to reward current readers? Attract new followers? Celebrate a special event? Build a relationship with a brand? Do you want more fans for a FB page? More backlinks to your blog? Ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of it. When you know why you’re doing a giveaway + what you want from it, you’ll be better able to decide your giveaway criteria. And for the love of all things holy, please keep your requirements for entry as simple as can be.
19. Think process, not end product. I’m talking about behind the scenes footage + outtakes + pencil sketches + bloopers + rough drafts – the stuff the camera captures just before or after you get it right. People wanna see it! They are hungry for the uncensored + unPhotoshoped + unedited version. There is power in this rawness. The messy material + on-set secrets + project sneak peeks can help you tell a deeper, more engaging story about your brand.
20. Take time to browse blogs that are of interest to you + leave thoughtful comments. Of course, if a particular entry strikes your fancy. Commenting on other blogs is a great way to promote your business + do some potential networking. However, your comment can’t look like an advertisement or a self-promotion. That will likely be flagged as spam. Instead, leave an honest + heartfelt comment or ask questions that can start a dialogue between you + the blogger you admire.
Self-promotion should become a part of your daily routine, to the point that you forget you’re even doing it.
I’m confident that if you incorporate some of these tactics into your marketing outreach campaigns, you’ll be kicking butt in no time.
Now, I would like to hear from you. Can you think of other tips + techniques for more sensible + effective self-promoting ? What are some of your favorite self-promotion moves? Drop them in the comments below.
I’ll be back next week with a new article. Stay tuned + thanks for being part of the Heartmade family.
I’m so excited to finally be able to share with you this fun little film, which will take you inside my Life is Messy Kitchen Book Launch Party.
To watch, click play!
And of course none of this would have been possible without you. THANK YOU for throwing your love + support behind a tiny Panamanian artist with a T-Rex dream to make this book come true. I would have burned it all down without you. You did this. I will never forget that!
There’s still time to order your copy of Life is Messy Kitchen. It ships FREE worldwide, but not for much longer!
This is a question I get asked pretty much everyday, to share what’s inside my toolbox. Today I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite things – tools I can’t live without. Well, maybe I can live without em’, but I choose not to.
You might be surprised to see how very little I need, actually. A few basic supplies + very simple platforms that make life a little easier.
But you know what? At the core of it all, we are already everything. You have you. I’ve got me. Our unique abilities + talents + perspective + skills + ideas + visions + the way we use all that goodness to articulate what we are. Everything else is extra frosting.
Here’s my list of favorite frostings… I mean tools:
1. 0.5 Mechanical Pencil. Got one in my purse + one in my nightstand + one on the car + one inside my beach bag. It’s my writing tool of choice.
2. Micron Ink Pens. When accuracy + minute details + preservation count, there is no pen that stands a chance next to the unparalleled archival quality of Microns. The finer-points are great for technical outline work + the bolder ones are perfect for hand-lettering projects.
3. 8.5″ x 11″ White Paper. Fancy right? Were you expecting me to recommend a glamorous sketch book or art journal? The truth is, I tried using a tablet once + many other gadgets, but I always come back to my plain ol’ blank piece of paper. My illustrations all start there, humbly. And that’s good enough for me.
4. Giant tube of titanium white paint. I usually buy Americana (or Liquitex when it’s on sale.)
5. Of course, other colors too. I splurge on these 3 shades because they’re the ones I use most often in my Design Studio: Natural Buff + Light Portrait Pink + Foliage Green.
6. 000 Brushes. Tight, but still flexible. Natural bristle, suited for acrylics. I’ m not loyal to a brand, but I usually know how I want the brush to feel on the canvas + shop accordingly. I usually purchase 20 at a time because they lose their shape quickly, and due to the nature of my work, the moment they get messy hair, they no longer serve their purpose. To give you an idea, I used 38 brushes to complete all the Life is Messy Kitchen illustrations.
7. Plastic Paint Pallets with Paint Wells: Here’s where I pour + mix (or not mix, which is what the independent paint wells are for) my paint colors. I love the way they can be completely wiped clean at the end of the day.
8. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap. Essential to clean my hands + my brushes too, believe it or not. I used to get these ugly rashes when cleaning with heavy-duty stuff like turpentine. Not anymore. Love Mrs. Meyer’s. Strong enough to remove tough messes + soft enough for my 10 little fingers. My favorite scent is Lemon Verbena.
9. Image Scanner. These days I use the Canon CanoScan LiDE 120 Color Image Scanner, Canon’s lowest-cost flatbed scanner. Lets me do high-quality image scans without paying extra for film-scanning features or photo editing software I really don’t need.
10. Life is Messy Planners. The organized system for creatives that provides “just enough” structure for your journey to take your brilliant ideas from light bulb to done without becoming a correctional facility, and “just enough” wiggle room to unleash your unique gifts + honor your most valued forms of currency, freedom + happiness. Planners are my BFF. Saved my life a couple of times already. Helped me make room for what truly matters to me + Expecto Patronus any dementor that stands in the way. No wonder it’s not just me using them, but 7 thousand other artists + creatives + innovators + small business owners. Because they were designed by someone who speaks your language… moi.
11. MadMimi. This is the e-mail marketing platform I use to send all my e-mails + stay in touch with my favorite people. It’s very intuitive + allows me to create fully customizable campaigns without making my head hurt. Above all, I’m a loyal customer because of their out-of-this-world customer service. Have never seen anything like it. They reply within minutes (if not seconds) to my needy (and sometimes frantic) e-mails, providing quick answers + solutions to my every question. Makes me wonder, maybe MadMimi is operated by minions. It’s the only explanation for their awesomeness.
12. Harvest. I used to dread invoicing, then I found Harvest. In my opinion, a simpler + much better way to work + run my business. I use Harvest for all my time tracking + billing needs. Managing clients + organizing projects + preparing invoices has never been so ridiculously easy. One of my favorite features is their seamless integration with PayPal + Stripe, making it less annoying for clients to pay with one click + freeing up my time to bake cookies. Win-win.
13. PayPal/Stripe. I use both as my payment processors. PayPal is a trusted brand + has a long history of processing payments on the web. Stripe, well, they are the hottest new payment processor on the block for handling credit card payments in a very secure way. These days, I get about 50% of my orders though PayPal + the other half from Stripe.
14. Creative Cloud. For only $40-something bucks a month, I have all the tools + assets I need to create my best work more efficiently. Creative Cloud includes all-new versions of my favorite desktop apps – including Photoshop + Illustrator. These days, when I’m not editing pictures or cleaning up my illustrations on Photoshop, I’m vectorizing my work or creating printables on Illustration.
That’s what’s on my go-to kit. Really. You will be given 10,000 options at the art supply store + the Mac store + Amazon + everywhere! My advice? Just stick to your gut + your budget + allow your creativity to take over from there.
I know it’s fun to hoard bundles of fancy brushes + expensive software. Trust me, I know. But, you are your best asset – not the tools. Use what you have. Do what you can.
What tools can’t you live without? Any brands + platforms + hacks you’ve tried + fell in love with?
As promised, today I’m giving away an autographed copy of Life is Messy Kitchen.
And the lucky winner is… Haydee Montemayor!!! Congratulations Haydee. You won. Yay! Please send me an e-mail with your mailing address to ship your gift immediately. So happy for you.
I will be hosting more giveaways very soon, so don’t be sad if you didn’t win, okay?