Curious Lola

Make a Votive Candle Luminary Out of Skeleton Leaves – Video

When Spring isn’t quite shining her light…. make your own with this diy votive candle luminary.

This Skeleton Leaf Votive will bring a fun and effortless touch to your parties– or your fairy shrine, it depends on what you’re doing I suppose! This lovely little votive is our last feature from our spring Moth Fairy photoshoot and in case you’ve missed it, we’ve had three other DIY projects from this shoot; a floral centerpiece, a floral frame, and a branch chandelier!

After waiting far too long for Spring to show up, our fairy’s guest finally arrives and better yet– with some sunshine and blooming flowers.

This project requires:

-leaf skeletons
-mod podge
-tall vase
-small balloons
-foam brush
-spray oil
-saran wrap
-spray dye or spray paint

Now its your turn to make some votives! Jump over to our Youtube Channel  for the full tutorial! Don’t forget to show us your creations!

Thoughts on Bravery and Fearlessness…

Recently, there’s been a slight shift in my outlook on life and business. Maybe, just maybe, brute force when it comes to life and business is not the goal. Maybe bravery and fearlessness is not about making things happen. Maybe most of it is just good ole trust. (first I blather, then I explain).

I’ve never feel at ease next to the ocean. Beach vacations, sandy walks, oceanside camping; there’s an undercurrent of, “the ocean wants to devour me.”

The ocean is teeming with life so different from my own that it’s hard to understand. A true mystery. It’s unpredictable, it’s destructive, it can take a tree and paw with it until it resembles the sun-weakened ghost of a great beast. A beast much bigger and stronger than I. At the same time, it’s alluring.

When faced with great uncertainties in business I tend to jump right in, however, not with the ocean. I’d prefer to NOT try and understand it. I’ll enjoy it sure, but I’ll be wary. That got me thinking… Where’s all my bravery and fearlessness?

Our culture values bravery, stubbornness, and strength. People that will things into existence.

Historically, my go-to method for experiencing life and business has been the ‘DECLARE, DROP, THRASH’ method.

Oh, you haven’t heard of it? Oh it’s very prehistoric.

First you DECLARE:

I’m going to be ______, I’m going to do _______, I’m going to get_______, I’m going to learn_____.

Then you DROP yourself into whatever lifestyle, work or environment you deem necessary to achieve your declaration,

Then you THRASH about something makes sense. Until a path comes clear.

And if it doesn’t, DROP AND THRASH ELSEWHERE.

It’s been brutal, but valuable in that I’ve learned a lot quickly. Eventually, I’ve learned what to thrash on, and what should be left alone. I’ve learned what is already working and what will not improve with enhanced thrashing.

This process is the opposite of ease, elegance, and organic growth.

The rewards are a quick lesson in testing limits. What limits are solid and what is flexible? What rules do I want to follow? I’ve learned what level of risk I can handle, gained trust in my own capabilities, and have gained a fine tuned compass of what works for me and what doesn’t. I know that I am capable and can figure out anything, but that I don’t need to figure out everything.

You may have heard me tout this method because, well, it’s badass, brave, and fearless. Take something uncertain, research the messy bits, and take action. Experiment. That’s been my motto- all in pursuit of conquering more unknowns and achieving a satisfying career and lifestyle.

However, I recently learned of another way. Fierce satisfaction with what one has…. and not striving for more than that.

Historically, I would have called this ‘settling’.

But recently, I’ve been observing and really appreciating those folks who find joy in what they have, only poke and prod at uncertainty when it crosses their steady path, make small adjustments as they are needed… people that prioritize tradition and what is important in the moment. Some of these people seem to be thriving… 🙂

I’m thinking I’d like to have a bit of that kind of bravery too. After all, it comes from the same place, TRUST.

Trust that things will work out. Trust that you can handle it. Trust that you will know what to do.

These statements are the same sort of trust foundation that makes someone brave/ fearless- just on a different path, or maybe looking a different direction.

So for now, I think less thrashing, more trusting.

BUT, if you’d like to take advantage of all the thrashing I’ve learned from in my journey as an event designer/ business owner thus far, you may want to sign up for our email list.

 

 

 

Things I Wish I Knew When I Began my Event Business: Part 2- The Expert.

I have a strong skepticism of The Expert. People who tell me how to do things are likely to get a polite listen, slow blink, nod, and about face.

Experts

This goes for all professions and beliefs people want to share. It’s not that I disrespect their experience or education, I just don’t trust that what they have to say will necessarily work in my life in the same way it’s worked for them.

This wasn’t always the case. When I began my business, I was rabid for information on how to do things right, be profitable fast, figure out how everyone else was doing things. I was sure there was a ‘best practice’ for everything. I felt vulnerable operating my fledgling business, knowing that I still hadn’t learned that nugget of wisdom that would allow me to market and operate as a professional. Until that point, I felt like I might be called out at any moment.

This led to second guessing myself and worse, belittling my own immense efforts and little business in small ways. As if to say, “Here’s my business, it’s a little scrappy, but it’s good. But if it’s not as good as you think it should be then just know that it’s brand new and I’m still figuring it all out.” The veil between confident excitement about my startup and discouragement was so thin I felt that any positive claim needed a cautionary disclaimer. Any compliment received was followed by something like, “If you think we’re good now, wait until I really figure out what I’m doing.” Not a way to instill trust in your clients and just not true.

So here’s the third thing I wish I knew when I began my event business:

There are no experts… Except you, of course.

The only rules to make and follow are those agreed upon between you and your clients. You do what works for you, and your client likes that or they don’t. If they don’t like it, maybe you are willing to tweak your operation or product. Or maybe this isn’t the correct client. And back and forth and back and forth until you have the right balance of what you both want.

Expert advice is useful only to give you ideas of stuff to try. I liken it to art making and art history. Learning about art history can give you knowledge about art, a deeper appreciation for it, a vocabulary to talk about it, but it won’t make you an artist. To be an artist you have to produce, experiment, and go through all the drama that comes  with combining materials, ideas, humans, and time. Unexpected outcomes and all.

poo

Expert advice is a giant pile of poo. You and I are poo shovelers. Get digging and see what parts are worth composting in your garden. The success of your garden isn’t going to be because of the poo, it will be because of your care, guidance, and hard work.

Ultimately, you gain the sanity saving knowledge that whatever you need to figure out, you will. This alone allows me to walk into new, strange projects with the confidence to dive in. Added bonuses of this sort of healthy view on experts include:

  • less money spent on expert advice,
  • appreciation and happiness for others’ triumphs in their business,
  • less judgement of other businesses products and operations,
  • and a more objective perspective on one’s own successes and struggles,
  • The ability to predict if a new pile of poo is even worth reaching for the shovel,
  • Big ‘ole sighs of relief.

If you missed part one of the “Things I Wish I Knew” Series and the first two “Things” , here it is!

This is the second part of a series of 10 conversations about the struggles faced in the early parts of business development. If you’d like to make sure you get the other 8, sign up for our mailing list below! You will also be able to download all 10 topics for free so you can put them in a place to remember. Sign up below!

If you liked the message here, the kindest thing you can do is share it with others that might be experiencing their own startup struggles.

Things I Wish I Knew When I Began my Event Business: Part 1- Marketing

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Photo by Raney Day Photography

Starting my own business has been the best education I’ve ever gotten. When I first started, I gobbled up all the advice I could from in person meetings, books, online- I’d even frequent a coffee shop that I knew had amazing flowers delivered so I could stick my hand into the arrangement and visualize how it was made. I’d then go home and try to create something similar. Some of that early education and advice made a lot of sense and I’d hear it over and over- like ‘don’t discount your services.’ However as someone trying to break into a new industry, I found it hard to be firm on anything for fear of losing the job.

Now that I feel established, I’m pretty happy with where things ended up and are going, BUT a few of these things I wish I had implanted into my being from the get go. I wish I’d tattooed it on my palm and looked at it every 5 minutes. Who knows what difference that would have made, but I can only guess that I would have discovered and marketed my strengths better earlier and shaved off at least a year in my journey toward profitability. This is the first part in a series of tasty bits I’ve learned over the year for those of you starting in, not only the event or floral industry, but any creative industry that relies heavily on community building. Part one involves marketing.


 

So, from me to you, striving entrepreneur, here are some marketing tips I know for sure.

“There are more ways to spend money than there are to make it.”

The number of ways there are to market yourself is overwhelming and in the beginning, most can sound like a great idea. With pockets light and desperation high, many marketing ventures may seem like a sure way to get more business. The fact is, if you are new, you may not know who your ideal client is yet and you probably don’t have lots of moolah. Most of these marketing options are little pirahnas that can turn your zest and meager resources into a skeleton in no time. My experience is that most are not for you and nothing is more discouraging than throwing money at something that yields so-so results. Here’s my checklist  of questions to ask to see if any marketing endeavor is a good fit:

Do I know them? Have I read their publication, been on their tour/ show, know of their business? Used their resource/ product? If the answer is no, I postpone until I can assess. Also, if I don’t know of them, it makes me question how they know of me. Are they looking for just anyone to fill a spot and if so, are they equally as blase about curating their audience?

Is their audience/ guest list full of the exact people that will be hiring or referring me? For me, that means other event professionals, venues, catering managers, or in the wedding industry, couples. Not the couple’s parents or friends, not somebody who works for a company that I’d like to work with, not their administrative team, not even the executives- but the people who are wired to look for the exact service I provide. People who will see me, appreciate the work, and have the authority to hire or refer. For everyone else, I am just ambiance. 

How will I be seen? I need a bold presence. If I’m asked to join in on a marketing event, I need to be there to make an impression face to face. If it’s online or in print, I need it to read loud and clear that it is my company. Just being mentioned onstage at the beginning of a dinner for which you’ve just donated 30 centerpieces and in the program at the bottom of someone’s purse, isn’t going to cut it.

Is their audience big enough? If you don’t have an audience established, you rely on those of your partners. Make sure the folks you are partnering with have a large following. It shows that they either spend a lot of effort to reach out to and engage people, they provide a great service, or both! For example, if you are considering being part of a wedding tour and there are 400 expected attendees, maybe 100 of those people are in a position to make a decision to hire you. Maybe half of those people are ready to ‘see’ your particular service as something relevant to them in their particular process, and for maybe 1/10 of those people you are a great fit for in style, price point, etc. Even still, maybe you only get in front of 1/2 of those people to make a memorable connection. So out of 400, maybe you get 2-5 inquiries. Of those, 1 or 2 are a good fit for YOU and turn into jobs.  That is about typical for me. Depending on the audience and the effort expended on the event, it may or may not be worth it. The exception here is work done for other companies, event pros, and organizations that I know are avid cheerleaders for my company. We will always go out of our way to help those with whom we love to work with and who consistently refer us to their clients.

Keep in mind that for online marketing, you have even more of a need to make a memorable connection and most likely less people in 1. a position to hire you, 2. at a time in their planning or mental process to hire you, 3. in line with your style and offerings, 4. a good fit for YOU. So your audience will need to be much bigger to dish out lots of moolah.


 

Here’s another thing I know for sure:

“The thing you are selling, may not be the thing they are buying.”

When I began, I was a floral designer that sometimes dabbled in larger construction and installations. I thought people were buying my floral designs because I was a good floral designer and because my prices were reasonable. I was incorrect on both accounts. When I started, I’m pretty sure most everyone was a better floral designer than I was. It wasn’t for another year or two that I felt like I had gained some mastery. I don’t even like to look at photos of my work during the first year and a half or so. What people needed and were buying was the following:

  1. Our project management process: I was a proven manager with a documented process that put people at ease. Where event managers and planners had been burned with products and teams that did not meet their expectations, I could help them visualize what they were getting, and better still, could offer documentation that they could show their managers. They were in the know, they had a part in the design process, and because of that, I made them look good to their higher ups. Without a giant portfolio of great work. This one thing opened a lot of doors.
  2. Uncommon designs: They knew that what they were getting from me was pretty different than what else was available. We gave them choices and they got to decide what they wanted.
  3. Versatility: Our clients hire us because we can make or know who can make pretty much anything. Our best clients now are those people who came to us because they wanted something different and had no idea how to go about it. They also like that when SH** goes down (and sometimes it does), we fix it. Done.
  4. Our Story: People like that we hire artists. They like that we will research a wild idea. They like that we are a bit scrappy. They like our dedication to local and sustainable materials. They like that our workshop is 1/3 woodshop, 1/3 floral studio, 1/3 strange gallery. It’s 80% chaotic, 0% pristine showroom; and 100% an inspiring feast for the eyes. For whatever reason, our story fit with their organization’s story, or more likely, our story resonates with the person on the other side of the table.
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Photo by Raney Day Photography

Look at your own set of skills and promote them, even what you may think is boring but always shows up in your process. I’ve seen people geek out over checklists, or maybe your potential client happens to be a clean freak and you can promise a clean install…You never know what people’s pain points are. Chances are they aren’t hiring you simply because they like the line item on your invoice.

This is the first part of a series of 10 conversations about the struggles faced in the early parts of business development. If you’d like to make sure you get the other 9, sign up for our mailing list below! You will also be able to download all 10 topics for free so you can put them in a place to remember. (tattoos not required). Sign up below!

If you liked the message here, the kindest thing you can do is share it with others that might be experiencing their own startup struggles.

 

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