Brand crush: Live Lived Beautifully

brandcrush_llb-01 Today I am so excited to introduce to you Gretchen Saffles, the lovely woman behind Life Lived Beautifully! I first met Gretchen at The Influence Conference last year and have been following her online ever since. She is an incredible woman of God who desires to use her WHOLE life for God and the Kingdom and I am always so inspired and encouraged by her example! I have a few of her amazing products (the Give Me Jesus Journal and the Proverbs 31 Woman study) and they have totally transformed my prayer life. I'm humbled to feature her here as a brand crush and hope that you'll find encouragement and inspiration from her, too!


1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do? Hi! I’m Gretchen Saffles, first and foremost a follower of Jesus, wife to my best friend, Greg, soon-to-be-momma to our boy in May, creator of Life Lived Beautifully, author of A God-Sized Love Story, dreamer of dreams bigger than myself, and lover of coffee! The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to create products that women can use on a daily basis to know Jesus more. Last May, I created the “Give Me Jesus” Journal for women to use in their quiet times, and since then have been able to write two Bible studies for women as well as create several other Bible study tools. My heart is to see women set on fire for the Lord, and I love finding creative ways to inspire them through art, writing, and even Instagram! My husband and I currently live in Knoxville, TN, and we dream of traveling the world one day with our family.

2. Describe a typical day. A typical day in my life is anything but typical. I thrive off of flexibility and days that change. I used to believe that as a creative business owner, I had to have a “perfect day” to really make things happen and live a full life. God has set me free from this desire to be “perfect” to have a desire to have fullness right where God has me, in the mess, the change, and the new things each day brings. With that said, here is as good of a “typical” day I can come up with -

6:30 - Wake up, head downstairs, grab a cup of coffee (we set it up the night before so it is ready in the morning), sit at the green couch and have my quiet time. My husband sits across from me in a recliner reading his Bible and drinking coffee. These are my favorite moments of the day!

7:30 - Get dressed to go on a walk/exercise.

8:30 - Shower and get ready for the day (sometimes this doesn’t happen until after lunchtime;) My best work hours/thinking times are in the morning, so that is when I write, answer emails, and work on projects! Showering gets the shaft in busy seasons. :)

9:00 - Start the work day! Make a thorough weekly and daily to-do list, answer emails, post on social media and respond to social media, schedule blog posts, etc.

12:00 - Eat lunch with my husband.

1:30 - Have a Skype meeting with my business partner, Whitney. We Skype and catch up on projects while her kiddos nap!

2:30 - Work on more projects

3:30 - Usually by mid-afternoon I have a coffee date with a friend or work on some house projects. At this point in the day my mind stops working clearly and I need a good break!

4:30-5:30 - Finish up projects before Greg comes home and work on dinner

6:30-9:30 - This changes every night! Most nights we are fellowshipping with friends at our small group or doing something at church (my husband works at a church plant), but on our off nights we usually do something outdoors and spend time together!

9:00 - Our phones go in another room (a new rule we implemented to spend more quality time together, sleep better, and put Jesus first), we read in bed and hang out, and then fall asleep around 10:30!

3. How do you stay inspired? The biggest way I stay inspired is through fellowship with other believers, nature, and travel. I lead a group of college girls and can honestly say they inspire me the most! Their passion for Jesus and love for life constantly gives me new ideas for products! It is so important to have fellowship with the body of Christ as a part of our day-to-day. Nature also stirs my creativity in the most amazing ways! Whether it be through flowers, wonders of the world, or just sitting by the lake, nature has a way of igniting a fire in my heart to paint and write. Lastly, travel is my biggest inspiration! My husband and I are always trying to incorporate adventure into our schedule - whether it’s a day trip somewhere, trying a new restaurant, traveling overseas on a mission trip, or getting outside of our comfort zone - we are most inspired by really living life, going new places, and meeting new people.

 4. What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity? My favorite way to cultivate creativity is to immerse myself in culture. God has already created so many amazing things in this world, including people and customs. I majored in Fashion Merchandising in college and my favorite class was on Dress and Culture. If I ever want to cultivate and grow my creativity, I look to other cultures and how they live. I also LOVE going to art museums and have a goal of going to every art museum in major cities we visit. So far I am doing pretty good with this goal! Seeing the patterns and techniques other artists use as well as how they see the world through a different lens inspires my creativity like no other!

5. How did you get started doing what you do? I love this question because I never really tried to get to where I am. The Lord had me keep walking and following Him and truly did it all. I began Life Lived Beautifully in May 2013 as a handmade business first making headbands, vintage accessories, skirts, and key necklaces. My husband and I got married in November of 2012 and moved to a new city the following February. In the midst of that, my mom was admitted to the hospital with a rare autoimmune disease while we were on our honeymoon. Her autoimmune disease caused significant nerve damage that made her have to learn to walk again. During this season, I felt God calling me to start a business/ministry that would allow me to have flexibility to help take care of her as well as share the love of Christ through creative ways.

I never could have dreamed I would be selling journals less than one year after starting Life Lived Beautifully. The first 6 months of business were filled with learning, hard lessons, and big dreams. It wasn’t until another friend was admitted to the hospital and almost died that I began to paint again. I painted a watercolor that said “Jesus Only Jesus” out of an act of worship and prayer. When I posted about it, the Lord made it clear that I needed to start painting again for His glory. In 2014, I started selling stationery with paintings on them and then He planted the seed for an even bigger dream - to create a journal that women could use each day to spend time with the Lord. The Give Me Jesus journal was birthed out of a deep longing to truly make a difference for Christ. I longed to make more than just necklaces that adorn women’s necks, but to make journals that the Lord would use to deepen women’s love for Jesus in a lasting, eternal way. The first journals launched in May 2014 and sold out within an hour. After that, God has continued to grow and expand Life Lived Beautifully to be a worldwide ministry. 

6. What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?) One of my favorite blogs/monthly reads is Set Apart Girl. This is an online magazine started by Leslie Ludy that has greatly impacted my life throughout the years and stirred my affections for Christ! I also keep up with Revive Our Hearts, the ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and love their articles and podcasts! Another daily read would be My Utmost For His Highest which is one of my favorite devotionals! It always gets straight to my heart.

7. What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest? Time in the Word gets the answer to this hands down. When I am weary and running dry, I know that I need to turn the phone off (and often delete social media), get away with the Lord and just spend time in His Word with just the longing to be with Him rather than get something from Him. Turning off my phone and reading or writing restores my soul in a lot of ways! A way that I rest is spending time with my husband and even going on some kind of outdoors adventure. Prior to pregnancy, I would rest even through running or biking. The Lord uses physical activity in my life to fill me up again and even to help my body sleep better and mind think clearer. The last obvious way I rest is by taking naps (and I feel like I should share here that just woke up from one;).

8. If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say? Keep your eye on the prize. The prize is not followers, sales, and fame. The prize is knowing Christ more and more. Don’t look to other creatives and say “I could do that” and merely replicate what they are doing. We serve an original God with a million original ideas. Each one of you has His thumbprint stamped on your heart with a unique vision and calling. You will never get anywhere by following someone else's calling, but you will go miles by following Jesus. Growing as an entrepreneur takes a lot of time, but so do all good things. When you need this reminder, take a look at an oak tree. Oak trees take hundreds of years to grow, but are the strongest, tallest, and most deeply rooted trees. You want your business/endeavors to be like that oak tree, firmly rooted in Christ, making an eternal Kingdom impact.

9. Share five products/apps that make your life easier / you can't life without. I love this question! First, I use my Day Designer by Whitney English each day to plan out my schedule and to-do lists. Second, I use the Notes app on my phone to type out all Instagram posts before sending them off to the online world. I know that sounds so simple, but this has helped me be more prayerful and mindful about what I post. It’s not fancy, but it is core to what I do. I use my Give Me Jesus journal to spend time in the Word each day and that has been so fruitful in my quiet times! I also recently was gifted a May Designs Meal Planner and am loving being more organized in this area of my life! The layout of the journal is so practical and helpful! The last product I use that has been fruitful in my business are Powersheets that Lara Casey created. These keep me on track and going toward the goals God has placed on my heart each month!

10. Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to? I love a good impromptu dance party! But I’m not gonna lie, I have sat here for ten minutes looking into blank space trying to come up with a specific song! My favorite moments are the ones where my husband and I are playing Spotify radio and something comes on that we dance to and laugh wildly at as we cook in the kitchen. It’s not a song, but it’s a sacred moment and those are my favorite!


Follow along with Gretchen on her blog and Instagram!


Brand Crush: The Cultivated Heart


I am soooo excited to introduce you to my friend Amanda Knight from The Cultivated Heart! I first started following Amanda online a few months ago, and have since then connected with her more and through other channels, including our shared love for Hey Sweet Pea and My Own Irresistible Brand! Amanda has a heart of gold and her heart beats for helping others live in THEIR story inside of chasing meaningless goals or dreams that don't truly light them up. I've been so blessed by Amanda and what she shares online, and I can't wait for you guys to get to know her, too! Introducing...Amanda and The Cultivated Heart!

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1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? My name is Amanda, but most people know me as The Creative Porcupine. I am a designer who desires to encourage others to #liveintheirstory and find joy among the riff raff. I design tools that help women sow a fulfilling life by cultivating their hearts.

2. Describe a typical day. I wake up around 7:30 and have my quiet time where I read my devotional and write a letter to me and to God while I drink my coffee. I then try to squeeze in some exercise, but usually end up moving onto my computer after cooking breakfast. Once I am at my computer, the day really varies based on the things I set to accomplish in my agenda the night before.

3. How do you stay inspired?I am a curious one so I stay inspired by reading a lot of books. I usually am juggling a little too many. I think I have three going right now.

4. What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity? That's a great question. I have honestly never thought about that before. I usually try to get outside if I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I leave my phone and that allows me to just let my mind run wild when I am walking outside.

5. How did you get started doing what you do? The Creative Porcupine came to fruition as a blog the summer of 2012 when I was sitting on my bed and realized that I had worked my college years away striving to reach goals that were ultimately empty. I used to be very distant and did not let people get close to me emotionally, similar to porcupines who you might not necessarily want to get close to. I rarely let people in. By doing that, I pushed away the important (friends, relationships) while striving for the unimportant (perfect grade, honors, etc). This pattern continued as my desire to become an entrepreneur began to rule my life. That day came as well and again, I found myself in a pattern of pushing away the important while striving for the unimportant. The Cultivated Heart is ultimately a byproduct of the things that I realized started changing my heart for the better and helped me lead a more fulfilling life.

6. What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?)

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Yes or No by Jeff Shinabarger

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

7. What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest? I spend weekends with friends and this allows me to completely wipe my mind of work. I use to work every weekend and that was essentially what drove me to burnout. Now I am a bit more conscious of what works best for me and just because everyone else is hustling doesn't mean I have to do that too. Being with my people is what makes life happy and that trumps any extra work that probably could get completed during the week.

8. If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say? It is all a journey, there is no destination.

9. Share five products/apps that make your life easier / you can't life without.

Google Calendar
Lara Casey's Powersheets

10. Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to? Uptown Funk

Thanks so much, Amanda!! You can keep up with Amanda and The Cultivated Heart here: instagram // The Cultivated Heart blog // twitter //
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brand crush: val marie paper

brandcrush_VMP-01 I can't even tell you how thrilled I was when I reached out to Val Woerner of Val Marie Paper about featuring her as a brand crush here on the blog, and she said yes!! I deeply admire and look up to Val as a designer, creative entrepreneur, wife, mama, and follower of Christ. She is a true inspiration to me, an encourager to all and I've been so impacted by her incredible products and her heart behind them. I feel like every time I read something she posts on Instagram or her latest blog post, I find myself nodding and saying, "yes! yes! this! amen!" Plus, it's hilarious to me how we even connected! I think I was searching through a hashtag on Instagram, and stumbled across her profile, which led me to her website, where I discovered that she was a stationery designer and we had the same first + middle names! I'd never met another Valerie Marie before, and it seemed sooo coincidental to me that not only did we have the same name, but she was also a designer! I think I sent her an awkward Etsy message just to say hi and tell her that I really loved her work. From there we've been connecting online and via email and I'm so grateful to know her and call her friend. I'm praying hard that we can meet + hug in person at the Influence Conference this September! I have been so encouraged by Val and I know you will be too. So pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and allow me to introduce my friend and latest brand crush, Val Woerner!


1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? I am Valerie Woerner, owner of Val Marie Paper. I design and sell prayer journals and am currently writing a book. I live in Lafayette, Louisiana with my husband Tyler and daughter Vivi Mae. I am passionate about living a life of margin and inspiring women to find peace and joy in life.

2. Describe a typical day. I wake up at 5AM to spend some time with the Lord and spend an hour or so writing. Vivi is up at 8AM and Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays she goes to school so I get her ready and drop off to school. Wednesdays are our ship days which Vivi loves to be a part of. I have an assistant, Savri, that comes and packages all the orders for the week while I work on random requests and wedding orders. Fridays are a little more laid back. I just work during naps!! I try to get most of my work done while Vivi is at school. It is mostly emailing with customers, writing the book and planning goals for the future. Emails are definitely the biggest chunk but I try to carve out intentional time for long-term goals so they don't get neglected.

3. How do you stay inspired? Reading books! It seems every time I get stuck, it's usually when I'm not reading. When I pick them up again, the ideas flow.

4. What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity? I really have to remind myself that when I look at what everyone else is doing and try to do something similar, it's a water down version and not at all authentic. When I can sink into my own work and look to God to fill me with the creativity, my work is so much better and honestly, everyone likes it better because it's real.

5. How did you get started doing what you do? It's been a winding road! I started out as a wedding planner with a journalism degree who had spent the past year designing pages for the local newspaper. I quickly learned designing wedding invitations wasn't too different from newspapers (but prettier of course!). I sold the wedding planning business so I could work fulltime on invitations in anticipation of starting our family. During pregnancy, I designed myself a prayer journal, shared on my site and shipped out 100 orders two weeks after our little girl was born. The journals have taken over and multiplied (we now have for men, kids, pregnancy and a marriage guide) and I decided to write a book so I stopped to wedding invitations as well. Some days, my changing course has made me feel like a failure in so many ways but then I remember God is pruning my life and has used every step. I am using my writing and design skills as I write a book and design journals. It's not the straightest path but it's been an adventure!

6. What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?) 

Margin by Richard Swenson - this shaped my life and home and freed me from busy

Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst - this shaped my outlook and how I handle ups and downs

Rework by Jason Fried - this shaped my business

7. What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest? In the morning, it's reading my Bible and pray. The house is so still and quiet. At night, it's a hot epsom salt bath and a book. Also, my husband. I can't go too long without nightly chats or cuddles.

8. If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say? Establish a heartfelt "why". Being an entrepreneur is not nearly as glamorous as it may look in those little Instagram squares of your favorite female entrepreneur. At some point, in those early days when you realize it's not exactly what you thought it would be, knowing WHY you wanted to do this will help you push through the tough moments and succeed.

9. Share five products/apps that make your life easier or you can't life without. 

PicTapGo - Photo app

10. Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to? Uptown Funk. Vivi starts dancing right when she hears it which always gets me dancing! You can watch her right here :)

Thanks, Val! I'm so grateful for you :) Keep up with Val on her blog, Instagram, and the Val Marie Paper Facebook page (and be sure to go favorite her on Etsy too!)


*Photos by Catherine Guidry, Ashleigh Jayne and Val Woerner

brand crush: holly holt design

brandcrush_holly-01 Hooray for Thursday!! I love Thursdays. Maybe even more than Fridays. Fridays are a fairly take-it-easy day for me and I try and close my laptop early to get into weekend mode. Thursday is the bust-it-for-one-last-super-productive-day day so I can fully enjoy the weekend. So, hooray Thursday! Today I am extra excited because I get to share with you one of my loveliest and most talented friends, Holly Holt and her business Holly Holt Design. I first connected with Holly online, then met her in real life at the Influence Conference last September. Holly is kind, generous, has a huge heart and incredible talent and I am so thankful to know her, to call her friend and to watch as she lets the Lord continually use her passions and giftings for His glory! I was thrilled when Holly agreed to answer some questions for this brand crush series and hope you love getting to know her! Introducing, sweet Holly!


Tell us who you are and what you do!

Hello, it’s so nice to meet you! My name is Holly, and I would love for us to be friends :) I currently live in Minneapolis, MN, with my husband Derek and cuddly cat Phoebe. I create for Holly Holt Design where I live out my passions for encouraging others, creating community in the midst of hardship, and building a strong marriage. These passions have come out of personal experience facing hardship with my husband’s health and have carried over into every aspect of life.

Describe a typical day for you.

Oh, the “typical day”… :) Well, usually my days are anything but typical. Although my daily tasks and to-dos tend to fluctuate depending on the season we are in, I try to stick to a weekly routine that helps our family stay on the same page. Sundays and Mondays are my “weekend” days because of Derek’s work schedule. On those days I attend church, get the house in order, grocery shop, and try to take time to rest - both alone and with Derek. Since my business is small, I ship orders on Tuesdays and Fridays each week. Thursdays I reserve for meetings with clients or collaborations. Saturdays are brainstorm days (my favorite!). The rest of my time is divided with emails, collaborating, working on new products, and connecting with others. Having this loose routine has helped me tremendously keep perspective on life and make what matters most happen.

How do you stay inspired?

As an ideas person, staying inspired is something that comes natural to me - I love coming up with ideas and seeing them through to the end! Digging deep into Scripture, praying, going on walks, and journaling all help tremendously in creating focus for my inspiration.

 What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity?

Brainstorming! I absolutely love sitting down with a pen and paper and writing down everything that comes to mind and then stepping back to look at the big picture to see how all the little pieces can work together. A few other favorite ways are collaborating with fellow creatives, reading a good book, and going for a walk to get my creative thoughts flowing.


How did you get started doing what you do?

From a young age my father taught me how to be an entrepreneur - cleaning houses, pet sitting, and any other odd job working for myself. As I grew older, this passion stayed with me, and in 2014 I opened my first Etsy shop dedicated to creating paper goods for life’s celebrations. Things got off to a fantastic start and I was busier than I knew how to handle. A few months after I opened, my husband’s health relapsed and I was forced to put my business dreams to care for our family. Over the next six months, a new business mission began to emerge from the broken pieces of our life. Now, Holly Holt Design is dedicated to encouraging and empowering women to lean into the Lord and true community during seasons of hardship. Each product or service I create is thought through, prayed over, and carefully packaged up with love to draw us all closer to what matters most.

What are your three favorite reads? (books, blogs, magazines)

Only 3? Reading is one of my absolute favorite pastimes so it is hard to narrow it down.. :) I am always encouraged reading Gretchen Saffles' blog Life Lived Beautifully. She has a deep love for Christ, and I am continuously blessed by her testimony. (I also love reading this blog because of all the amazing topics you come up with - The financial and capsule posts are my favorite!) My two current favorite books are Restless and The Circle Maker, but I must also recommend Finding Faith in the Dark!

What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest?

Giving definitely fills my heart and soul with so much joy. If I could be a professional gift giver I totally would! I love thinking and seeking out just the right gift for the right person to make them feel like they are receiving a big hug when they open the package :) Reading also fills my tank in more ways than I can even describe. Years ago, I used to read all the time but somewhere along the way that habit was lost. Last year, I decided to try to read one book a month and have carried that goal into 2015. Rest is something that I am currently learning about, and it is a definite struggle. I used to think that rest was time wasted because “there is always something I could be doing”... I am learning when I take the time to rest, I can give my best to the things that matter most.

If you could give another creative entrepreneur who's just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say?

The world needs your special story and gifts and talents in this world. Please do not get caught up in comparison and doubt. It is so easy to get caught in this trap and think “I will never be as good as ____” or “If I only had those connections, skills, friends, pretty office, _____ then I would be successful” and so on… These thoughts just aren’t true, and they have the power to paralyze you with fear if you let them. Persevere through it all, and trust in the Lord for guidance. Seek out connections with friends and creatives in your field that will push you to be your best and support you through the ups and downs that are guaranteed to come your way in life.

Share five products or apps that make your life easier or you can't live without.

Instagram, Camera/Snapseed, Macbook, Adobe Suite, Art supplies

Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to?

Shake it off (or anything T Swift) - of course! I also love Happy by Pharrell :)


Thanks so much, Holly! Be sure to follow Holly on Instagram, check out her beautiful products in her shop and once her gorgeous new site is launched, keep up with her via her blog!

Brand Crush: 23 & 9 Creative

brandcrush-01 Sooo over the moon to introduce this new blog series! There are so many makers + creators that I dearly admire in this creative community, so I'm pumped to start sharing them with you!! And no better person to kick it off than my sweet, Christmas-loving, New York living, always optimistic, do-it-aller BFF Chelsea of 23 & 9 Creative! Chelsea and I went to college together, although we didn't really become close until I was almost finished--which is a reality that I cry about still (not really--but kind of.) We studied abroad together in England and had THE best adventures, from touring haunted mansions to drowning our long-distance relationship sorrows with pancakes and shopping every Saturday. She is a designer extraordinaire, is so full of wisdom and sunshine, and I am grateful every day to call her friend. She works for TIME magazine (her office view overlooks Rockefeller. #jawdrop), runs an amazing branding studio and is half of our little print shop, Love By Design! I know you'll love Chelsea and her brand 23 & 9 Creative as much as I do. Introducing: Chelsea!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you + what do you do?

I’m a small town girl from Idaho living my dream life in New York City. I drink way too much coffee, love Christmas (more than a normal person), have a ridiculous collection of Ampersands and get so giddy over creating a design that is not only beautiful but tells a story. My job is to create genuine brands at an affordable price for small businesses that share their authenticity and match their passion. I believe everyone deserves to have their dream branding and I’m here to help!

Describe your typical day.

My typical day is the opposite of typical. It’s wild and crazy and long and stressful and I love it. Along with running 23&9 Creative, I have a full time job as an Assistant Art Director at TIME Magazine! I get to work around 10:30 am and spend the day designing pages about everything from health & tech, to Taylor Swift, to special issues! Right now I’m actually in the midst of designing the TIME 100 which is one of TIME’s biggest issues of the year - I have over 100 pages to design before April 15th! So there’s that. And it’s amazing. I work until around 6:30 - 7:00 pm while peaking at my email and Etsy every so often to stay up to date with 23&9 during the day.

I try and work out most days and am usually taking a barre, spin, kickboxing or rowing class from around 7:30 - 8:30. Sometimes after that a quick trip to the grocery store is needed. This past year I’ve adapted an almost completely paleo diet and it involves a lot of grocery shopping, cooking and meal prep. Sometimes it gets exhausting and honestly is the first thing that falls to the wayside when I’m busy. But I try my hardest and that’s all that matters, right?

I try and be home and have dinner by 9:30 - 10pm (I know. It’s late.), give myself about half an hour to just be and not think about anything design related (this usually involves watching Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Voice, etc.).

Around 10:30, office hours for 23&9 Creative begin! I’ve hopefully answered most emails already throughout the day and can start working on my projects. Logo designs, resumes, websites, t-shirt designs, prints - you name it and I’m probably working on it! Valerie and I also have another project we created together - a print shop called Love By Design! We create prints to inspire and donate a portion of all our sales every month to a different organization we believe in. So this is also time to be working on that. I’m probably simultaneously cooking lunch for tomorrow or whipping up my favorite paleo muffins. And then finally around 1am it’s time for bed and to do it all again tomorrow!

 What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity?

Instagram is a HUGE inspiration to me. Pinterest as well, but instagram gives me a connection to other designers and creativity I don’t get anywhere else. I am pretty busy during the day, but when I’m on the subway on my way to work / working out / home I love to just be able to scroll through my feed and screenshot some inspiration. I’ll throw it all into a folder in my albums on my phone and curate ideas for new products, inspiration for projects I’m working on right now and future ideas I want to use. I also like to just put on some music (lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Ingrid Michaelson and obviously Taylor Swift) and just let myself think and play around with ideas. I’m really bad at drawing so a lof the time I don’t doodle with pen and paper, but more digitally.

How did you get started doing what you do?

When I was a junior in college (majoring in Journalism Graphics), I realized I had had an absurd amount of friends asking me to design their resumes over the past few months. I had recently been obsessing over how great Etsy was and had the idea that maybe, just maybe, people would pay me to design their resumes. So I designed 4-5 templates and set them free on the internet to see what would happen. Within 24 hours I had my first order and the rest is history. Up until this past year, 23&9 Creative was focused solely on resume design. But I started to fall more in love with logo design and webdesign and just relaunched my shop in February as a branding studio!

What are your three favorite reads (books, blogs, magazines?)

  1. Design Love Fest is my all time favorite blog. I can’t get enough of Bri and her incredible talent! She is so inspiring!

  2. Logo Design Love is an awesome book that I refer back to all the time when I’m designing. It’s jam packed full of information, techniques and ideas that always spark creativity.

  3. You may laugh at this one, but when I was in college my mom sent The Martha Rules (Yes, as in Martha Stewart) to read when I first opened my Etsy shop. It completely inspired me that I can do anything I put my mind to and really lays out the most important dos and don’ts of starting a business from the queen of creativity herself!

What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest?

Honestly, this is something I need to work on. Giving myself some rest. I love to binge watch Netflix, play with my cuddly cat Snowflake, go on random photoshoots in the city with my friends, find new cute coffee shops, explore new areas of the city and anytime I get to spend with my boyfriend is always so refreshing! He lives in DC so every minute we get to spend together is treasured time!

If you could give another creative entrepreneur who is just starting out a piece of advice, what would you say?

Last fall Valerie and I went to the Influence Conference in Indianapolis. I learned so much about myself, my company and my vision. But someone said something to us that I will never, ever forget. We were talking to Lindsey Sherbondy of Lindsey Letters and she told us that there is always room for everybody. Especially having a shop on Etsy can be extremely intimidating. There are (what seems like) a million other shops doing the exact thing I’m doing - so why would anybody care about my little shop? But every single person is different. No one is selling the same thing. No one has the exact same style. You have your passion and creativity for a reason - run with it! So what if there are hundreds of other people doing what you do. There is room for you and you can make it happen!

Share five products/apps that make your life easier / you can't life without.

  1. Google Docs: I recently have been in the process of creating systems for myself to help make my life easier and Google Docs is a game changer. I have folders for all types of documents, clients, etc. and can access them all from ANYWHERE. I have it on my phone, my computer at home, my computer at work - it’s really amazing and a tool that is so worth taking the time to set up and organize!

  2. Pinterest: This one might be obvious, but I use Pinterest with my clients when we are creating a moodboard for their new brand. I create private boards to share with them to pin all of their inspiration on! Then I can see their comments and look over everything in one place instead of several emails full of new ideas. It is SO helpful!

  3. Afterlight: I use afterlight to edit all of my photos for instagram! There are so many great photo editing apps out there, but this is just the one I fell in love with the most. They also have a really cool feature where you can record actions to add to a photo - basically like a photoshop action - so all of your colors stay consistent!

  4. The Day Designer: The planner I could not live without! Whitney English has curated the most perfect life planner a creative could ever ask for. From big picturing life planning to daily inspirational quotes, list and hour by hour planning - This is THE planner for creative entrepreneurs.

  5. Power Sheets: Lara Casey’s Power Sheets LITERALLY turned my business around. These are a must have if you aren’t sure about your business, life or just need some direction. The Power Sheets take you on a journey to better understand yourself, your life, your hopes and dreams and help you make it all happen. Step by step they walk you through discovering yourself and reaching your goals.

Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to?

Well, as absolutely cliche as this may be - Shake It Off ALWAYS, without a doubt, puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance! I don’t even want to see how many times I’ve listened to it because it’s a ridiculous number. But Taylor - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. (You can give it a listen right here!)

Be sure to check out the 23 & 9 Creative website, and follow Chelsea on Instagram!

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