brand crush: creme brands

creme_header-01 I am soooo excited about today's Brand Crush feature! I know, I know, I say that every time. And it's TRUE every time! I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten to know soooo many incredible, inspiring creative women over the past year, thanks in part to wonderful experiences like the Influence Conference (and Network!) and Making Things Happen. In college, being a creative person felt very vulnerable and scary, because it felt very competitive. Maybe it was just the specific area I was in (journalism design) but it always felt too tight for us all, very cutthroat, like there was no way we were all going to make it. And I carried that mentality over into starting my business as well. I was wary and fearful of fellow creatives - how could there possibly be room for us all?! But if the Lord has taught me anything in the last 9 months (well, He's taught me a LOT, but this is a big one) it's that there's room for us all. And, like the quote says, "a rising tide raises all ships." Yes, there are thousands of other stationery shops doing exactly what I'm doing. But we are ALL better together, and there isn't another Valerie Keinsley running Vallarina Creative anywhere else on the planet. Okay, soapbox over. All that to say, I'm very very grateful both for this blog series, for the amazing women I've come to know better through it, and to be part of a creative community that truly celebrates and uplifts one another.

I can't think of a better person to embody that spirit of collaboration over competition than today's feature: Kathryn Duckett, owner of Creme Brands (Wordpress won't let me add the accent mark - sorry, Kathryn!!) I first met Kathryn at Making Things Happen last fall, which she attended with her husband. We were in the same small group together and I resonated so much with what she was sharing. I just felt like we were kindred spirits! We've connected a lot online and I just know we'll be insta-pals when we finally hang out in real life (which will happen SOON, since she's not far from me, geographically speaking!) I'm such a fan of the heart behind Kathryn's brand and am always inspired by what she shares on her instagram and blog. Be sure to follow her - I just know you'll be inspired too! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and settle in to meet my friend and super talented designer, Kathryn!

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1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do? I'm a brand strategist and designer for wedding professionals. I'm passionate about designing timeless, on-time looks and helping small business owners define their mission, pursue their ideal clients, and stand out in saturated market. I want to help you grow a confident and heartfelt brand! Because love is the best work.

2. How do you stay inspired? I stay inspired by my clients! Their passion for what they do and the huge impact they are having on lives really revs me up to keep pushing myself, especially on the days when owning a business weighs heavier. But, when I get back to WHY I'm doing this, gratitude and purpose overwhelms the doldrums. Helping others help others? That's exciting!

3. What's your favorite way to cultivate creativity? For me, there's nothing like good old pencil and paper. Shutting off the screens, and just playing with ideas is when I start to make connections. Also, tying everything back to the question, "how do I want to make people feel?" always clarifies the direction I should take something and helps me push myself to do that in a more inventive way.

4. How did you get started doing what you do? I got my start as a designer in the publishing world! I designed a lot of book covers, and I am forever grateful for the woman that hired me. She is really the first person outside of family or faculty to believe in me (This was particularly impactful in my life and the path I would take as I was in my early 20s and feeling a LOT of professional insecurity. I constantly questioned if I should even BE a designer or a creative). Rhonda made such a big impact on my life, and she proably doesn't even realize it. It reminds me to never forget the power you can have to help someone realize their potential. Take the extra step to tell someone that they are doing something they are good at. Don't be afraid to encourage artists who are just starting.

5. What are your three favorite reads? (books, blogs, magazines) I am currently loving: Gary Vaynerchuck's blog, any type of women's fiction (this month I read Where'd You Go BernadetteThe House Girl, and am currently reading The Secret Life of Bees.) And, for the third, well, I joke to my husband that "Instagram is reading!"

6. What fills your tank so you can keep doing what you do / how do you rest? I make a point to take one creative field trip each quarter. In January, I went on a little expedition all by myself (introvert here! = my well gets filled when I get good alone time, probably looks different for you extroverts). I went all over downtown, bought myself a fancy lunch at a cafe, sketched architectural details, and gave myself time to just really SEE all the beauty around me. The second quarter, I was pretty burnt out after taking on too much and then having to navigate a pretty difficult business situation. So, for that "field trip" I actually just stayed home all day in my PJs and read a novel in a day. It's SO important to give ourselves permission to step away. We may not have a big corporate benefits package, but you can create your own personal benefits package that supports your creativity and helps keep your business sustainable.

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

  • Basecamp — This has totally changed the way I can systematize my process and make sure clients are well-cared for at every step.
  • Harvest — This has made my business way more profitable and given me a reality check on how I spend my time and how profitable my different activities in my business are. With the data I now have available to me, I can accurately quote projects and it helps me avoid overbooking.
  • Quickbooks — I just don't know why I ever had a business and didn't have this for so long. Thomas (my husband, who helps me with my bookkeeping!) and I got up and running on this for the beginning of 2015 thanks to Michelle Loretta who walked us through every detail we needed to know.
  • Self-Control App — so, we are in the process of buying a house. With email alerts coming to my inbox during office hours for houses, it's way too easy to get sidetracked! This app allows me to block all the real estate sites during the workday (not to mention social media, if you're feeling stuck in a distraction rut). No more (or, a whole lot less) rabbit trails!
  • Streak — Just downloaded this one yesterday! If you are doing any kind of sales or pursuing publicity or anything like that, this is a CRM that's built into Gmail. Email is a real weakness for me, and I'm excited to see how this, coupled with the Gmail for business I just got, will help me stay on top of things and take better care of prospective clients. It's time to manage my inbox and not let it manage me!

8. Favorite song to throw an impromptu dance party to? Ok, so this isn't really a dance party song, because that's not really my personality (I know, I know, so lame!) I'm much more the reflective type, so listening to a song so beautiful it moves you is more my version of the "dance party," ha! But seriously, I cannot stop listening to Take the World by Johnnyswim. Absolutely beautiful!

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You can keep up with Kathryn and Creme Brands on her Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and blog! Thanks so much Kathryn <3

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*photos by Jennifer Blair