Hey friends, today we're doing a giveaway!
I'm so excited to share a friend of mine, designer Anna Livingston. For anyone who knows me, you'll know I'm obsessed with jewelry and have quite a few friends who are jewelry designers. Anna graciously designed me a custom pair of her hand made earrings matching my favorite colors and textures.
If you know me, another thing you know is that I'm in full support of small businesses run by women. Anna's business is a huge inspiration to me and her story is tremendously motivating to any woman with a passion and big dreams. Here's Anna's story...
HOW IT STARTED:
I have always enjoyed creating. I started sewing probably earlier than my mom would have wanted me playing with needles- but my grandmother had this HUGE avocado green box filled with everything! A rainbow assortment of threads, scraps of fabric for patches, elastics, buttons and pins. Every time I would visit I would persuade her to drag the box out and allow me to “assist” her in the mending. This quickly turned into my grandmother allowing me to sew scraps together. Something woke up in me and I have loved sewing ever since. Growing up I always dreamed of being a famous fashion designer of accessories, purses, bags, belts and jewelry.
I made my first pair of earrings in the Winter of 2012. My wedding was the following Spring (May 25th) and I wanted something unique and special to give to my bridesmaids. I thought it would be nice to give each girl a pair of earrings to wear on the big day! But in all of my shopping – I couldn’t find anything that felt special and unique. So I decided to create my own. A Few months earlier I had seen a similar style earring on the web somewhere and loved the idea and thought “that’s something I COULD MAKE”. So I did. I was up the at 5am the morning of my wedding finishing the last pair – but I did it…I made each Bridesmaid and Attendant in my wedding a unique pair of earrings. They were a HUGE hit at the wedding!
Since then I have made them occasionally to match outfits and for big events. Friends would ask me for “a green pair” or “something to match this” and I would make them. Then my aunt (who is a lot like me) asked me to make some to show her friends. I went a little overboard and made 20 pair.
During those 2 months (of making the 20 pairs) my husband (who frequently was sitting next to me on the couch watching sports) started saying things like “You should sell those”, “That’s a great pair, I bet if you posted those people would want to buy them.” I would immediately dismiss the idea – I was, after all NOTdoing this to make money! Then he started getting more insistent. “I want you to post these”, “Annie, you are so talented, Ive never seen anything like that”, “Every woman that sees you working on these wants a pair”. One day he overheard a woman ask me how she could find my earrings and “if I was on Etsy”. He immediately started researching and then he got my sisters, mom and friends on board and I soon enough I couldn’t go anywhere with them without them encouraging me to “sell these on Etsy” or “create a website”.
So I did. I did it to honor my husband – we brainstormed names together and landed on my formal name “Anna Livingston” (my full name is Anna Livingston Coe Wagner Jubb) and he researched the best website platform. Fortunately for me I had all the resources I needed. One of my sisters is a photographer and the other builds websites and my mom and dad are long time entrepreneurs.
Without my husband’s encouragement and the support of my family and friends I would never have had the guts to start Anna Livingston. Truth be told, I would dream at night of selling my art – but when the morning came – I was too scared. Fearful people would not like what I was creating, fearful of putting myself out there and scared to death to fail. Basically, the thought of rejection was paralyzing.
WHAT DRIVES ME:
The need to create. The love of creating something beautiful that someone will enjoy. The feeling I get when I finish a pair of earrings, it's like solving a puzzle. I love loving others and I love beautiful things.
Growing up I never felt beautiful. Even now I struggle to love myself. I have also suffered from depression most of my life. I know it might sound silly but I have always felt more beautiful when I am wearing a beautiful pair of earrings. Its like something in me lit up, even if just a little bit. When I am making a pair of earrings I always envision a woman putting them on, looking at themselves in the mirror and liking their reflection, liking themselves. The thought that something I create could possibly make someone else feel more beautiful is what drives me to continue to create.
ABOUT THE PROCESS:
Each pair of earrings takes anywhere from 3-5 hours to make. I have always been a "get to the point" kinda person. I joke that "I am happiest when I am living efficiently. I constantly think of changing a route so that I can cut out a minute off travel time.
But I decided with my earrings I would never "cut corners". So that means that all of my supplies are of the best quality. I only use the best. With earrings, I am most successful when I take the time and think through every stitch.
Once the earring is made I then sew the pouch they go into and make their name tag. The presentation is important.
This one is tough…it all goes back to the “fear of failing” thing I was talking about above…dreaming is hard when the dream is about me. I can vision cast for other people like crazy! I guess in my wildest imagination Anna Livingston earrings would be “popular”, people would be willing to wait a month to get their hand crafted pair. Women would be wearing my earrings all over the world. They would pick a pair of Anna Livingston earrings for their “Big day” and for their every-day. I want women to feel unique, beautiful and confident when they are wearing a pair of my earrings.
In 5 years, I see myself as a wife, a mom (hopefully to a still growing brood), a sister, daughter and friend and if I am lucky I will spend every free moment creating Anna Livingston earrings for women who cherish them!
Let's take this weekend to support Anna and other like her. Let's support women who follow their dreams and work hard to build a life that they are proud of. Go snag a pair of these lovely earrings from Anna Livingston by entering our giveaway and get your coupon for 20% off your first order!
I feel like I've been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Molly Jacques Workshop is officially out there! I cannot wait to share some great skills with everyone who wants to learn from home at their own pace. If you haven't been following my posts on MJW, let me tell you a little bit about what this website is...
MJW is online education for modern calligraphy and lettering. All of the education is hosted online through our member-only site in the form of e-courses, creative and legal resources, community forums, and personal mentorship.
The MJW community believes that true learning doesn’t come from simply transferring a tutorial video from one computer to another. The ideal learning environment is one of encouragement, accountability, and community. The best education is taught by highly skilled and experienced instructors with a desire to uphold industry standards and an appreciation for student/teacher mentorship.
So, do you want to learn more about MJW and sign up to take our classes (updated monthly)? Head on over to Molly Jacques Workshop RIGHT NOW and get 25% off any membership for this week only with coupon code: FHKRZHEGH1
Keepin' it real with some fun brush lettering / modern calligraphy skills! Enjoy!
Happy Friday, friends!
I'm so sorry it's been so long since my last post. Today I want to talk about a topic that has been controversial within the creative community (including the calligraphy/lettering community) for years (and was also inspired by Wil Wheaton's recent blog post): Why Working for Free Never Pays.
Let's clarify what working for free means within the creative community. Working for free means that you'll take on a job or let a company use your artwork without getting paid. For the most part, there are always exceptions to the rules when you're a freelancer; YOU have the freedom to say yes, no, or negotiate. YOU have the freedom to cut deals with friends or businesses that are just starting out (although, you don't have to - it's YOUR choice alone). There are always situations when working for free is a good thing. For example: working on jobs for charity, negotiating a trade between two creative services (i.g. trading your pal a photoshoot for a hand lettered quote she can hang in her baby's nursery), creating a piece of artwork as a gift to a friend or family member, willingly submitting your work to be featured within a magazine or a blog... you get the picture.
But, working for free or for exposure for a client that should be paying for your services is never a good idea and never "pays off". Throughout the years, creatives have continuously been taken advantage of when it comes to getting paid. Often, HUGE companies will come to creatives asking for highly sought after services with the only compensation being "exposure". But there's a problem with exposure... it doesn't pay student loans. Exposure doesn't pay your rent. Exposure doesn't uphold pricing integrity within the industry and it doesn't value your skills. Exposure does, however, perpetuate a world in which companies feel that they can continuously ask for work from artists without compensating them time and time again. Ultimately, when you work for free, you essentially are contributing to the problem.
With that being said, I want to share a bit of my own experience on this topic. The first few years starting out were really rough for me. Although I was getting some ok jobs, the work wasn't consistent and for some reason, people never wanted to pay very much. In fact - often I wasn't paid at all. Often, I was so desperate to get more work that I would reduce my prices to less than minimum wage or work without charge. Funny enough, my first "unpaid" job was commissioned by a company valued at $3 billion. This company was, and is, very well known within the wedding industry and I of course was honored and thrilled to oblige. The company claimed that the exposure alone was enough compensation and that they were happy to work with me on the project.
After the first job for this company, I was continually asked each year to contribute for the next three years. Every year, I would collaborate with their AD on elaborate projects under a tight deadline with my compensation being a name credit as exposure. The work I created for them would almost always be featured prominently as a major selling point for the company. Plainly said, my free work made them a lot of money at zero cost and kept them coming back to me expecting more free work to make them more money.
After the first year, I had a few inquiries about the piece that I created for this company, but never any customers. The first year I was never compensated. The exposure never paid other than making others feel like I was important because I could say that I worked for a huge name. Year two rolled around and it was the same story. Again, no customers, just the prestigious name on my client list. Perhaps some companies trusted my abilities more because I had experience working with a high end client, but I would never know as no one ever mentioned it. Year three rolled around, and I created my last piece for this company. I spent hours working on a truly distinctive, creative piece in collaboration with another designer. My artwork turned out beautifully and I knew the consumers would love it. And I was right. Everyone loved it. But there was a problem.... On year three, I didn't even get a credit. No name. No payment. No thanks. Nothing.
Needless to say I felt used. When I reached out to ask why I never received a credit, the response was insufficient (misunderstandings within the company).
The really sad part.... This happens all the time and many of us learn the hard way. In fact, it has happened to me multiple times with different companies, mostly within the wedding industry. Moreover, as much as it seems like I'm bitter towards these companies, it's really my own fault. I have the power to say yes or no. I have the power to uphold the value of my own work. I'm guessing that a few of you reading this have also had similar situations and can relate.
So here is my professional opinion on this subject that I stand by firmly: working for free never pays. I know a lot of you are struggling getting consistent work. I know many of you are desperate to get that big name client on your client list. I KNOW how you feel. I have been there. But I'm telling you - if you value yourself, please don't work for free. Please do not price below industry standards. Please have faith in yourself and your abilities and know that you deserve to make a real living off of your artwork. Sometimes getting paid simply means when someone reaches out for free work, you just have to ask for fair compensation (you'd be surprised at how many companies will actually pay you if you just ask...) If you aren't getting consistent work at a fair price, work a part time job until your freelance work picks up! It never pays to undervalue yourself and it always will bring down industry standards and perpetuate the lack of respect for creatives.
Sending so much love and encouragement to those of you reading this who have been taken advantage of or who have made bad decisions when taking on free work. Remember: this is something we all face and it's so important for us to stick together and hold each other accountable! You're not alone, and it's never too late to start working at healthy freelancing habits.
Are you struggling with a similar situation and don't know how to handle it? Feel free to comment below to start a meaningful discussion.