Home Business Moms - How To Fit It All In {Part 1}

I've worked for several years from my lovely little home office. It's amazing how far my designs have gone from here to the far corners of the United States, to Europe, and even to the land down under! I have many friends and colleagues that ask, "How do you fit it all in and still make clients feel like they're the only person you're working with?!"

The growth of my design business didn't come easy. After much trial and error, I made this life as a wife, mommy and home business owner an art. Slowly but surely I found ways to heat that milk up, meet the two o'clock print deadline and turn the oven off at the exact minute I planned to be walking out the door to join the school pick-up line. It's rare when a creative mind meets that organized mind. Those two don't often collide. But God was smart when He paired me with a husband who is the epitome of organization. His left brain and my right brain met somewhere in the middle and when I rubbed a little bit of my laid back, creative nature on him, I scored some amazing organization tricks on my end!

So for those of you mommies who lead a busy work life and decided to bring your careers and passions alongside raising your children, I thought some of my little tactics might help. While these methods worked wonders for my daily life at my home business, some of these work just as great for the other part of my work life as Art Director at Giggle Magazine, which includes that strategically scheduled morning Starbucks stop and those prompt high-heeled stomps into my office for the other half of my week.

1. Silence the mental chaos of to-do's. I divide my life into two places: My iPhone and My work notebook.

For work: I know there are millions of wonderful task management software out there + monthly planners, but when it comes down to my work list, I have to see it right there, front and center all day long. And I have to be able to cross those to do's off with a pen! If not, things will slip. So I make my week's to do list with it's deadlines highlighted. At the bottom of the page, I put next week's and next month's to-do's each with there deadlines right next to it, just to know what's coming.

When the scribbles and cross-offs get too busy to understand…I move to the next page and rewrite anything that hasn't been done and any new tasks that keep my week and month lists easy to refer to on one page.

Tip!: Small sized notebooks are great because you can only fit so much on a page…and it keeps you from overbooking yourself!

For mom life: Everything that requires and "alert" or a date and time, it goes in my phone. There is no way on God's green earth that I could possibly remember it all. So it's in the calendar or "Reminders" app. And my personal life is filled with beeps and chimes that keep me on track with that kindergarten lunch and YMCA tuition deadline! The occasional work task is in there with my life stuff and goes off it it's something that really required a loud alert on a specific date/time!

When you write something down, it calms your mind down and allows you to focus on what you need to work on NOW…not everything you have to do tomorrow, next week, or next month. Unload the noise onto your paper or phone as it comes and focus on the one or two things that need attention now. Believe me, this method is the source of my sanity, focus and organization!

2. Start small. End big.
If your day's project list includes a few little tasks and one or two big tasks, start with the little stuff. Cross those off your list as soon as you can. (Believe me, crossing off an item is so good for your psyche!) When all of those little tasks are crossed off, it makes you feel like you've accomplished a big part of your day and then you can just focus on those two big things and take your time on those because all of the little things are no longer waiting on you!

3. Guard your schedule like a hawk!
Sometimes you just have to say no for the sake of your business and your happy clients. If you over-schedule your day, it's not only a stress on you, but it's a stress on your work and the results of your work. Because you've planned five big projects for the day, project five is definitely going to get the shaft, and that fifth client deserved just as good a project as the first client did. So don't compromise your work by adding too much to your plate. Satisfied clients are the end goal and if you're overbooked, clients sense that and they can see it in your rushed work. So when that random client asks for a proof five days before you promised it, kindly address that their is a scheduled date for that, and it's not today.
When that new client asks for a quick project by Friday, kindly address that you are fully booked that week and can schedule them in in two weeks. If they truly value your work, they will wait. I promise.

The simplest rule: If it's not on your list today, and it doesn't fit, DON'T do it today. Schedule it for a week where it fits!

Another way to guard your schedule is to limit those unnecessary lunch dates that are oh so tempting! Yes, you're your own boss, but if you really think about it, your clients are your boss!! If you don't meet those deadlines, your reputation is at stake and suddenly that yummy noon salad with your bestie doesn't taste so yummy anymore when your patient client goes bye bye.
Know when it's time to work and know when it's time to play.

"Oh it's a lunch with someone who wants to talk business," you say. Really? Will it benefit your business? Will it help you meet your deadlines? Will it effect your business in a positive and tangible way. Does their agenda meet your business goals at all? Be honest with yourself, is this lunch necessary during your crucial work time or can you squeeze them in when project loads are low and you have some free time to spare to make those lunches that need face to face interaction? So many 'business lunches' are either not to our benefit at all, or can be wrapped up into an email that didn't take up an hour of your day!


4. Play maid for only one day. Work and kids are only the beginning. Then there's the monster load of laundry and moldy bath tub that is screaming your name (admit it, we've all gotten to that moldy stage!) When do those ever fit in?! Well, mine has it's day. Mine is Friday. I don't work fridays. It's just how I've scheduled my life. If yours is Saturday when dad takes the kids outside for several hours in the morning or Sunday, that works too! So on my Friday, there is no work. There are no emails. (Maybe the one emergency one!) But on this day, I do laundry, clean bathrooms, and tidy up anything else that has been ignored all week. This ensures that my family time is not occupied with busy house work. It has it's day and time and that's it. You'd be surprised how much can get done when it has it's designated day or block of time. Of course there's the emergency stained school  uniform that needs attention on Wednesday night, but the large piles and filthy tubs get no mommy attention until Friday! And it works! Every Monday, rest assured, all clothes are clean and bathrooms ready for the new week and I didn't stay up till' midnight any day of the week to get any of it done.

5. Make the extracurriculars fit YOUR schedule. YOUR sanity. Sometimes we over-schedule our children. That's not only bad for them, but it's not the best for you! Soccer and gymnastics are all great, but when you plan these activities for the kiddos, make them work for your home life. Choose programs that allow you to get home at a decent time and still have a daily dinner/homework/bath/bedtime routine that your children can expect.

6. Treasure your down time. My couch time is top priority. If you know me personally, you know I always refer to my "couch time" and am quite the stickler about it. Don't get me wrong, I love the cuddles and laughs right after dinner, but once the kids are in bed, it's mommy time. It's me time. Your brain has got to rest at the end of every day. It's healthy and keeps you from getting burnt out. If you have a passion for your career, don't let it burn out because you're doing it 24-hours a day. Wind down. Let it go for a few hours, ignore the emails and do something that fills your tank besides work. It's good for you and good for those around you.

If it gives you a twitch to not answer a priority client's email at 9:30pm, just write a quick response to them saying you have received their email and are happy to get back to them first thing in the morning. Write it in your notebook list, clear your brain of it and RELAX.

There's so much more I can share…and maybe I'll do a part 2 to this post. But I hope this is helpful. We creatives tend to get lost in our visions and dreams…but it's always good to come back down to earth and remember that our clients (the ones that pay the bills) may speak a different language than ours. And most of the time, that language is: Good work. Good response. Good experience.

Kelly Stephens Photography Brand Design

When Kelly approached me about her brand design, I was so excited to work with her because the moment she said, "simple, clean, timeless," I was hooked. Some of my favorite clients are the ones who love a little white space in their life and realize that simple can often be stronger. I just loved working with her even as we mastered the different time zones between here and Australia. What a sweet client you were, Kelly. Those Australians always seem to leave a good taste in my mouth!

Kelly went for very simple and timeless, knowing that this style would not only shine on a clean web screen but on her letterpress cards as well. And the touch of lace was a perfect element to add.

As you know, I love the use of Pinterest for inspiration boards. Here's a little glimpse at her inspiration.

And the results of her beautiful simplistic logo.

And of course, her gorgeous letterpress cards with the touch of lace. Perfection!

 

Wow. That was a long blog hiatus...

I feel like I owe my readers an apology! It has been quite a busy year around here. A lot of projects. A lot of mommy-ing, working, and some more mommy-ing. I have to admit, I have contemplated getting rid of my blog as I find it hard to find the time to post. And I understand how disppaointing it can be to find a great blog and see that it has been inactive for quite some time. But because there is so much good past content, I'm not sure I want to close it's doors altogether.

So for the time being, I may treat my blog as an archive of past projects until someday I find the time to write again.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing/blogging, but if it compromises the time I spend on my clients' projects...they come first. So, for now, enjoy the loads of beautiful content that has filled these pages in the past and as soon as life opens up more writing hours, I will be back in full swing!

But don't let the quiet blog fool you...projects are in full swing and if you are interested in being on the project schedule, please don't hestitate to contact me!

I leave you with this gorgeous image of my sweet little family recently captured by Lifeprints Photography.

Patricia Dash Brand Design

As you can see, I've been quite m.i.a. from the blog recently...but all for a good cause: our sweet little Xavier who arrived on November 11, 2011 (awesome date, huh? 11.11.11). But super happy to be back in the swing of things here after sleepless nights, endless feedings, and a crazy holiday season.

Thought I'd start the year off showcasing one of my favorie designs of last year. Patricia Dash contacted me in need of a full rebrand and as soon as she shared her inspiration board and the ideas she had for her brand, I couldn't wait to jump in. She was such a perfect fit for me. I had so much fun with this one that at times I felt like I was designing for my own business. Our tastes were so similar, it was just a breeze to put this beautiful design together! Can't wait to see it all come to life on her new site.

Current/Old Site:

 

New Brand:

 

Off to see the stork!...

Ok, so I'm not REALLY leaving but any day now, this little guy could pop out and I have no clue how this creeped up on me so fast! It seems like just yesterday I was catching my husband before his weak knees hit the floor as I informed him that baby #2 was on the way! We are so excited to meet our little boy, but probably not half as excited as big sister, Nadia. I'm sure there may be a little competition between mommy and nadia with who gets more of Xavier's sugar and cuddles.

Although my little family is about to embark on quite a journey some time within the next two to three weeks, {secretly hoping it's like this weekend since I'm already full term!}, I certainly wanted to express my appreciation for my lovely clients and their support in this season. But fear not, my loyal ones!...because just as I did with my first, my maternity leave will probably max out at just about two weeks! It's a little bit easier to get back to the world of design when you can do it in your pjs at home.

And I can't thank Elise Kersey enough for capturing this special time in our lives with these gorgeous photos. From the attention to detail and her effortless effect on my four year old during our shoot, she totally rocked it and gave me some beautiful images that I'll cherish forever.

Our feature on Paperie Boutique

I just wanted to send a big thank you to Paperie Boutique for featuring us on their blog today! Paperie Boutique is a fantastic resource for photographers with endless ideas and advice on brand design and packaging. And for Robyn to have featured my work on her site is totally an honor and I'm already excited to work with so many photographers who have snagged the Leslie Vega discount available through September 15th via Paperie Boutique.

Take a peek and see what a fabulous post it is!

 

A few of my favorite things...

So I'm at 29 weeks and so ready to meet this little guy inside of me, but in the mean time, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things that keep this preggo journey interesting! From my favorite comfy clothes to the accessories that make life easier.

{1} My all-time favorite thing to wear right now: long comfy dresses from Forever21. Nothing beats their comfortable clothes and it's not even maternity wear, so I will still be rockin' this dress after the pregnancy. {2} Let's be honest: carrying baby #2 has not been as easy as my first. He's a little heavy and mama's back needs some support, so this is my trusty belly band by Leading Lady that I cannot go without. You can purchase the belt here. {3} Ok I admit, it's a little early for this one, but is this not the cutest diaper bag you've seen in the world?! It's from JJ Collections and I'm so tempted to start using it now as a purse, but I'll wait to give it it's debut in November! {4} Probably one of the most meaningful gifts I received at my amazing baby shower a few weeks ago right up there with my favorite custom baby stuff from Swanky Stitch! (go ahead, ask her. She makes much more than camera straps!)...These custom necklaces can be found on many Etsy shops, with any quote you'd like stamped onto the charm. Mine has my two little ones' birth stones and their names: Nadia and Xavier. {5} And of course, mommy has to stay gorgeous through it all and I'm lovin' my new simple Sephora eye liner that keeps me looking fresh. ;)

So there you have it, my little preggo survival kit...along with long naps and sinful snacks!

Stephanie Gregory's New Brand

I was contacted by Stephanie a couple weeks ago to help her get her photography business going with the perfect brand design. If you've worked with me before, you know that mood/inspiration boards are a designer's best friend in the world because it gives me a clear view of who you are and the style you love. In fact, sometimes it may even surprise you and take you in a whole different direction that is much more 'you' than you ever thought! So Stephanie went to work with her mood board using the insanely addictive Pinterest. {Am I the only one who has refrained myself from even beginning my Pinterest account because I know for sure my loved ones will never see me again?!! Yeah, just wondering...}

Some of the words that Stephanie used: preppy, J Crew, travel, calligraphy, vintage, sophisticated yet romantic, and touches of the french culture.

So here's a peek at how Stephanie's logo evovled.

...The makings of something beautiful! Can't wait to share the rest of what's in store for Stephanie's brand as she opens the doors to her photography business. Stay tuned! {Of course will share her site and work when it's up and running!}

Sweet Friday Deal!

In honor of the sweetness of a Friday...Here's a sweet deal for you and a friend!

It's so easy! Find a friend or business colleague who could benefit from this who hasn't had the pleasure of working with Leslie Vega Design yet! And follow these steps and you each grab a logo design for only $99! {Valued at $325}:

1. You and your friend Follow us on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook.

2. Send an email to info@leslievegadesign.com with your Name and contact info, as well as your friend's name and contact info letting us know you both followed the easy steps above.

3. Don't need a logo? Use this sweet deal for any of the following projects: Blog header design, Brochure or Price Sheet Design, or any web site enhancing graphics!

Anyone who participates enjoys the treat as long as you enter by Midnight on Monday, July 22nd (EST)!

*Offer valid only in pairs. Not for single participation.

{ENJOY THE SWEETNESS!}

 

Karlin Connell's new brand

I recently had the pleasure of working with Karlin Connell on her new logo and I could not have been more happy with the results! Karlin is an amazing photographer who is not only amazing at what she does, but has an eye for style that is hard to find. Being a former stylist for Ralph Lauren and anxious to fill her new blog with more than images, but lifestyle inspiration, she wanted something clean with a pop of color and a perfect respresentation of her style.

I'm always of fan of simple and clean and especially with the perfect touch of calligraphy with the help of Kathryn Murray's amazing guidance, I think we hit it right on the money with this one!

 

Stay tuned for some more brand designs in the works--just as fun as Karlin's!

A Change for Leslie Vega Design

The time has come to share some of the changes that are taking place here at Leslie Vega Design. Don't worry...it's good change! Promise!

As many of you know, my business has experienced some serious growth over the past year and it is all thanks to you and your kind referrals that continue to send the perfect clients my way. I am overwhelmed at the recognition I have experienced and the honor it is to work with brides and wedding professionals who appreciate high value stationery all over the nation from New York to the midwest, and even Paris! It is no secret that it all starts with someone's kind referral and trust in my work, and for that I can't thank everyone enough.

With that being said, I have welcomed this growth with open arms and now find myself at a crossroads in my life where I feel deeply that a decision must be made to either fuel the fire to this growth or scale down to focus on the things that are most important to me--mainly, my growing family. With little #2 on the way and an awakening desire to devote more time to my home, I have decided to scale down my business to simply offer my brand design services to wedding professionals and close the door on the wedding stationery side of my business. While I thoroughly enjoy the detailed process of creating the perfect wedding suite for my brides, branding has always been a special part of my career and provides a more simple approach to the style of my work that I love so much. I could never completely close the door on how fun it is to design for the wedding industry, so instead of shutting everything down, I have chosen to focus my efforts on just one type of client within the same industry: the wedding professional.

I may have already worked with many of you on your own branding and I hope your experience with me was just another clear demonstration of my passion for brand design and the desire to create the perfect image for you and your business. It is clients like Ashley, Laura, Heather and Amanda {below} and so many more....who's grateful excitement of my brand design work for them reminds me of how much I love this work and how rewarding it can be.

I hope that you will venture with me on this new journey with your amazing support and continued referrals which are always so appreciated. You will soon see these changes take place on my site as I transition my services solely into branding.

Thank you so much.

Classic Invitations

While there are many new and creative avenues to take with your wedding stationery, the classic approach never seems to go out of style. I recently had the pleasure of creating a full wedding suite for one of our brides who's beautiful wedding at the Breakers will be graced with every detail of classic elegance. It's not too much fuss; girlish, yet composed and just right for Michelle and her fiance, Marcos.

Michelle's invitations and stationery were all letterpressed on heavy cotton paper with a special gold foil monogram on each piece including the belly bend holding all of the cards together. I thought it would only be fitting to share this suite with a couple other things that inspire me to all things classic!

Gown by BHLDN, Cake by Sweet & Saucy Shop

Rayna's Foil Stamped Invitations

Something new and out of the ordinary is always a creative booster, and foil stamping certainly doesn't fall short. When Rayna's wedding planner requested I 'run with this design', the first thing that came to mind was how antsy I've been to create a foil stamped invitation suite and here I was given full creative power!

Rayna's elegant wedding in Pennsylvania called for all-out formal elegance and the silver foil stamping gave her invitations the perfect formal touch.

While the suite is still receiving it's finishing touches with a ribbon and rhinestone buckle, I just couldn't wait to share the suite in it's own simplistic glory.

All of the graphics are foil stamped in this rich silver color.

Social Media Specialist | Internship Orlando, FL

A unique opportunity exists with Caroline Johnson Photography as the studio expands to be the premiere photography studio in the Orlando Market.  Caroline has specialized in destination weddings that have included such remote venues as Italy, Belize, Costa Rica, and Canada. The studio has created a luxe international brand tailored to the high end client who deserves superior service, and the most creative design and chic modern visual elements.

Her work is simply amazing and anyone would be so lucky to work alongside Caroline. Here amazing talent is only the beginning of here abilities and every time I'm around her, I walk out with a new visions and dreams for my own business. 


Caroline Johnson Photography
is an energetic, hip creative work environment which will expose you to all areas of the daily in’s and out’s at the studio and the creative process to running a high-end photography studio requires.

WORK ENVIRONMENT |  Because creativity all begins with the people you surround yourself with.

Casual yet snappy attire
Open Door Policy
Round tablediscussions

SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST  |  aka Creative Media Genius  |  internship

The  Social Media specialist who will crown the first ever the title of “Creative Media Genius” is set to start immediately.  Qualified candidates will currently be enrolled as either a Communication, Journalism, Marketing, Advertising, or in a Visual Media program.  Throughout the term of the internship you will learn about how to creatively utilize Social Media to continue to leverage the studio as a leader in the wedding and couture portrait market.  All the necessary tools for execution will be provided to maximize the experience.  The Social Media Specialist will need to present a social media plan and work the plan over the four months with Caroline Johnson Photography.  Possibility for a longterm paid position upon completion of internship.

For consideration please submit resume’s to caroline@cjphotographer.com.  No phone calls please.

 

Laura Leslie Photography Brand Design

Meet Laura Leslie.

If I kept a list handy of my all-time favorite clients, Laura would be on it, in a thick bright sharpie color. When Laura approached me about her brand design, I was instatnly in love with her work and was even more excited about the project when she informed me that her vision for her brand was inspired by her ethnic background. She sent me a picture of her grandmother's Blue Willow china and told me to run with it. That right there was a sign of a photographer who knows creativity and knows how far you can go with it.

We started with her new website, and created a soft, romantic approach, using elements of the Blue Willow pattern to create her background.

We kept the same simplicity and white space with her new blog. {A tip from Leslie: Embrace white space, people. It makes you look and feel better. I promise.}

Using the same pattern we put together her beautiful price list design.

 If you're a fan of gorgeous romantic photography and go bananas over the light and airy goodness, Laura is your girl. Her work is stunning and I could not have had more fun helping her with her new and now more meaningful brand.

Check out more of Laura's work on her web site and blog.

 

Melissa + Buddy's Coaster Save the Dates

I am uber-excited about these coaster save the dates that were just completed for my sweet bride, Melissa and her fiance, Buddy! Save the dates are no longer limited to a card and envelope or your typical refrigertator magnet. They've come a long way, and I have to say my favorite is coasters! They're unique and sure to stick around a lot longer on your guests' tables instead of buried in their pile of mail.

Melissa and Buddy's coasters were customized with their special monogram using a tree to reflect the natural and vintage theme of their July wedding. The couple will share their vows under a beautiful tree in an outdoor ceremony location dear to them. The plum color is perfect for their vintage wedding and of course, a very popular wedding color this year.

Lorna + Jose's Postcard Save the Dates

You may remember my recent post showing one of my favorite invitation suite designs yet this past year. Lorna and Jose's June wedding in Puerto Rico is going to be full of uh-mazing! details and incredible island views so the couple wanted to set the tone for their destination wedding with their postcard save the dates. Guests will get just a taste of the colorful island and tropical setting with this custom postcard complete with a map of Puerto Rico highlighting the couple's special towns from where they were born to where they attended school and where their extended family resides.

The postcard showcases Lorna and Jose's custom vintage monogram.

Save the date options are getting more and more creative every year. A postcard is just one alternative idea to think outside the box for your first piece of wedding stationery.

 

For the trend setting bride...

Are you a trend setting bride? Not a cookie cutter and always a leader in inspiring others to be fabulous? Well Solutions Bridal just may want your number!

You still have until February 15, 2011 to join the first ever Bridal Idol Competition. I had the amazing pleasure of helping put together this logo and brand for this unique competition produced by Solutions Bridal. So I'm excited to finally share the details!

The fashionable competition is a Florida based online competition where one stylish bride will win a free $3500 Anne Barge La Fleur gown, $1000 in Erin Cole Accessories, and up to six Dessy bridesmaid dresses.

The competition was created due to the popular trend of brides seeking advice from real weddings. Solutions Bridal is on the hunt to find the ultimate bride that can inspire others and set trends! To enter all you have to do is submit a personal photo directly onto Solutions Bridal Fan Page.  Submission deadline is February 15th so upload your photo today! From there you are entered into the first phase. The other phases include an engagement session with Caroline Johnson Photography and a chance to style your very own on location photo shoot!

Style your way to the top!

Ashley and Jordan

Fuschias, magentas, pinks, burgundys are all pretty popular lately in the world of weddings and Ashley and Jordan certainly did these colors justice! I was fortunate to be a part of such an amazing team of wedding vendors who helped Ashley make this beautiful wedding come together. My dear friend Caroline Johnson captured Ashley's day like no one else could, while the awesomtastic Melissa DiStefano of MasterPiece Weddings was the mastermind behind all of the gorgeous details!

Below is the letterpress invitation suite I designed for Ashley and Jordan complete with their custom monogram.

 

The gorgeous couple and stunning day to match the suite...

Gorgeous cake with their custom monogram, by the fabulous ladies at KB Kakes

Congratulations Ashley and Jordan! What a pleasure you were to work with.