GoodBye 2013 & New Year's Resolutions

2013 has been an amazing year. Truly, there have been so many changes and moments that I will forever be grateful for. Before I start talking about 2014, I wanted to share with you some of my best moments from 2013.


- I broke the lease on my apartment and moved in with my family. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the loss of my grandmother and becoming closer with my "surrogate" family. I am forever grateful of this time I spent working less and being present more.
- A chapter of my life closed when I finally ended one of the most toxic relationships I have ever had in my life. So many loved ones have looked at me in recent months and said how much of a change they've noticed. I have so much hope and laughter now that I've cast aside the  need I had to make somebody love me and want a life with me when they simply didn't anymore.
- I spent Valentine's Day thinking about marriage and about the kind of love I hoped to someday give.
- I wrote my Life List.
- Claire and I had family pictures taken. Yes, I took family pictures with my dog. That's what's up.
- I designed the most stunning floral crown for a breathtaking professional bridal session.
- I realized that through my infertility, God was changing the course of my life.
- My Single Girl List became my most popular blog post with 2,000 views.
- You got to meet my now boyfriend in this post.
- My best friend asked me to move to Charlotte, and became my boyfriend. Score.
- I wrote a Guide to Being Friends with Someone Who Can't Have Babies. The most commented on blog post I have ever written. I will forever be grateful for all the lives touched and friendships made within the IF (infertility) community because of that post.
- I spent all summer sharing awesome diy projects with you guys!
- I talked about my divorce and depression. Hallelujah for overcoming both.
- WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
- You guys celebrated my one year bloggiversary with me.
- I shared my new outlook on life with infertility with you guys and became a hopeful and encouraging voice in the IF community, one who will always be there for you when you need an uplifting reminder or message. Because we're stronger, together
- I started Project Life!
- I celebrated my 24th Birthday.
- After a 6 month hiatus from my business, I launched my new ETSY shop and started designing home accessories!
- I cut off my bangs. I went to my first NFL game and my first NHL game- both in the same month! Follow me on instagram to see more awesome updates like those (user: laurarahel.)
- Then, I shared with you guys how to start YOUR OWN small creative business. That's right. High Five. Let's be awesome together.

Whew! What a year! It has been full of excitement, and oh so many changes. I couldn't be more pleased with how I am ending the year- happy, at home with my cuddly family, in our gorgeous house. 2013 looks good on me!

Now, with a year like that behind me, what changes do I plan to make in the New Year? Take a look...


My 2014 New Year's Resolutions-
  • Stop procrastinating.
  • Take better care of myself.
  • Learn to love, unconditionally.
  • Speak less, much less.
  • To exude kindness and positivity everywhere I go.
  • Travel more for myself.
  • Focus on my future and work towards successful small business ownership.
  • Quit swearing.
  • Grow spiritually, talk to God more.
  • Pay off half of all my debt. (This is a HUGE one.)
  • Work on improving my personal photography. Pictures of my life are important too.
  • Create stronger friendships and new friendships.
  • Practice more patience.

What are your New Year's resolutions? Do you find them silly or do you love the feel of a fresh start with renewed motivation?

Happy New Year's everyone! I hope you spend New Year's Eve with love in your heart and loved ones around you.
xoxo, Laura

Starting Your Own Creative Business

As many of you know, I’ve poured my creative passion into two small creative businesses that I’ve started in the past couple of years; My photography business and Laurel Lane Accessories. Both of which have brought me more challenges and growth than I ever imagined when I first started on the path to small business ownership. And while I still have to work every single day to keep these businesses inspiring and engaging, it’s been so rewarding to see small monuments of success along the way. Monuments like launching my brand new ETSY shop this month with a new line of home accessories that I custom designed and created myself. Exciting moments like this make me reflect on how I got here. How did I start two creative businesses in my early 20’s out of nothing but the mere challenge to myself to see if I could be really good at what I was doing?

Today, I wanted to share with you how I did it! This post is the exciting launch of a new series on making your own successful small business out of your creative passion. Prowling around the internet for tips on starting your own business left me feeling really unmotivated. Silly suggestions like “Believe in yourself!” made some people’s list of top 5 tips for starting your own business. And while you should believe in your dream, I wanted to offer up 5 tips that you can actually use and apply to your life to see your dream growing and becoming the business you envision it could be.

So here are my TOP 5 TIPS on starting/launching your own creative business.

1. HAVE A TALENT TO OFFER
Do you know how Laurel Lane Accessories was born? I literally stumbled into the idea when I decided to make my own floral crown for a photo shoot I was in. When other people saw the images of said photo shoot, they started asking where I found my lovely over-the-top floral crown. When I saw the images of said photo shoot, I saw a gorgeous product I could make and possibly sell. Most of all, I saw potential for growth in myself and in my talents. And that potential is what sparked all of my ambition.

When you start your own small business, you need to have a driving idea behind it. Something to offer, something to share with people. What do you have going on that’s exciting and engaging? What talents can you offer that get people excited? What talents do you have that get you excited?! The foundation of all creative businesses is passion; an ambition that is born out of the idea that you have something unique to offer to people.

Are you really good at giving advice? Do you take amazing photos of your nephew? Do people ask where you got your adorable jeans (bedazzled them yourself, did you?) We each have talents waiting to be discovered, waiting to be harnessed and trained into something of great quality. Knowing what talent you have to offer is the first step towards using it to build a great business for yourself.

2. GREAT PRODUCT PICTURES.
Once you know what talent you have to offer, you start using it. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a product or shop that’s only being held back by this one little tip. Great product pictures are essential to your success. Great pictures not only get people looking, but it gets people talking! Talking about how gorgeous your product is, about how they just have to have it for themselves. Ask yourself which you are more likely to buy, the product on the right or the product on the left?

Having great product pictures helps your business grow tremendously in quality and following. But how do you find somebody to take professional pictures of your products? It’s all about networking! Your friend’s sister from high school whose an amazing portrait photographer now? Send her a message with a picture of your product and see if any of her clients would want to use it in their sessions. Are you making home décor items? Offer to lend them to an interior designer while she has her talents photographed for her portfolio. Collaborating with other creative’s is a great way to not only get quality images for your portfolio, but to network and get the name of your business out there! If you aren’t sure where to start looking for a photographer, try searching for a local photography or modeling group on Facebook; that’s where I met some of my first friends in the creative market!

3. CATCHY BUSINESS CARDS.

Great business cards are so crucial when it comes to presenting yourself as a professional! It’s also a great way to make sure the people you meet, remember you. I use my business cards whenever I meet somebody I’m interested in working with or making something for. When I meet a beautiful bride whose looking for the perfect hair accessory for her flower girl? I whip that card out. When I see a gorgeous high school student who would look amazing in one of my designs? I hand her my card and tell her that I would love to hear from her if she’s interested in modeling a few of my designs for a photo shoot. I also make sure that current clients have it, too. Every time somebody places an order through my ETSY shop, their product is accompanied by a business card so they know where to call/go online when they want more. You have to make remembering you and contacting you convenient for them. People love convenience.

So how do make sure that your business cards are eye-catching and not easily forgotten? One- put a picture of your product/business on it. Two- make it unique. I included one of my favorite images of one of my floral crowns on my business card and I also made mine a really fun, square shape. A breath-taking image and fun sized/shape card? That leaves an impression. When you have a great, eye-catching business card, people are so much more likely to remember you and to be excited about your business afterwards. I ordered my gorgeous, square business cards through Tiny Prints.

4. BE PERSONABLE.
I believe that your biggest asset when it comes to your business’s success is you! People love supporting businesses that are run by people who are friendly, kind, and easy to get along with. As a creative business owner, so much of your business centers around you. Do you offer a great experience for your clients? Do they feel as if they could be friends with you in real life? If so, you’re 10 TIMES more likely to make another sale to that customer in the future AND more likely to build your client base when they recommend you to their friends.

Word of mouth is the greatest marketing tool you have. Give your clients something good to say about their experience with you and your business! An extra touch that’s easy to implement even if you’re not the social type is sending out a “thank you,”with every one of your orders. I like to include a hand-written “Thank you for ordering from my shop! I love my customers and hope you love your products!” on a pretty piece of paper and include it in their package.

5. AN ONLINE PRESENCE.
Are you posting daily on social media to keep people engaged? Facebook, Instagram, ETSY. Do you have a separate business page on Facebook aside from your personal page? When people fan your page, they look forward to reading about your growth as a business and most of all, they look forward to seeing when you post new products and new session pictures. Keep your fans involved in your brand. Give them something new to look at, something exciting to discuss.

Social media has so much potential to get people interested in your business. Send all your friends a link to your page and make sure you are marketing your business as you want it to be seen. One of the most important things to remember about social media presence is quality over quantity. I don’t post on Facebook every day, but when I do, I make sure that I am excited about what I’m saying. I make sure that I’m speaking in a positive, encouraging and exciting manner. Remember that what you post directly effects how people think of your business. When you keep your posts happy and filled with gorgeous pictures, that’s what people associate with your brand. That’s not to say you can’t be real if you’re having a bad day or are going through something major. Just keep in mind that whatever you share is the impression people get of you and your brand. Make sure what you’re saying is a reflection of what you want your brand to stand for!

There you have it! My top 5 tips for people who are interested in starting their own creative businesses but aren’t sure where to start. What do you think about these tips? While suggesting things like “believing in yourself” would be true for your success, I wanted to make sure that I gave you tips that you could actually implement and use to see tangible results. What suggestions do you have for real advice on starting your own creative business?

I can’t wait to share more from this new series with you guys. I’ll probably make it a monthly post, sharing tips on starting your own creative business and seeing it thrive afterwards. I hope you guys enjoyed! Make sure you check out all the exciting things I’ve made for you in my ETSY shop too :)

Xoxo, Laura

Using the 5th and Frolic Core Kit

Again, I start this post with the disclaimer that I'm really going to try hard in the new year to take lovely, high quality images so I'm not stuck scrap booking all these blurry, over saturated camera phone pictures again.

Thank goodness for gorgeous core kits because they can make a layout come together even when your pictures are of a certain dullness. In this Project Life spread I used the 5th and Frolic core kit. I just love the floral and feminine touches it adds to my layouts.


I got really crafty putting together this spread because of the challenges I faced with my pocket page designs. Although the left page looks like design A, it's actually a page make of six 4x6 sized pockets because the back of that page had a ton of full sized pictures I needed to incorporate. Then I had the challenge of making the back of that page look complete and not empty even though I only had three 4x6's to fill all those large pockets. I fixed this by using the 3x4 filler cards and just adhering them to the back of my 4x6 images in the center on the other side. This way I get the look of the design A page and I didn't have to worry about the page looking empty.

I also took scissors to some 3x4 filler cards from the 5th and Frolic core kit and used them all over the rest of the spread. I added the teal "hello today" onto a green floral print card so that the card matched the park picture underneath it (with all the green tones) and still pulled in the teal accents from the opposite page so the spread really looks like it goes together. (I have issues if my pages aren't visually cohesive with their color pallets.)

I added part of a 3x4 filler card on my center insert on the right hand page. If you look, it's actually one of the same cards used on the left page. The large journaling card on the left page was a solid white journaling card before I added some colored flags to it. I used left over scraps from the 5th and Frolic cards I had already cut up to make those flags, once again making sure that I was pulling the same colors into each card. Last, I added a black tab to a solid white journaling card and tucked that behind the large picture of Claire. This way I know there's a story hiding behind that picture for me to read later.

Overall I'm really pleased with this layout, especially considering it was one of my very first project life spreads! I just joined the Project Life movement this summer and I'm overwhelmed with all the gorgeous options we have access to in stores now. I just love going to Hobby Lobby and using my 40% off coupon on the core kits. It makes me feel like I'm getting away with something :)

Which core kit is your favorite? Which one do you lean on to make up for sometimes lackluster photographs?

xoxo, Laura

I Just Launched My New ETSY Page!

So much excitement while wrapping up 2013. It's been a year of learning and growing. My goals continuously change as do my creative passions. And after taking a 6 month break from Laurel Lane Accessories while moving to Charlotte and falling in love with our life here, I have decided to relaunch my business with new enthusiasm and drive.

I've completely restructured my business plan and goals. I have re geared my business to cater towards those who appreciate the finer things in life. High quality, one-of-a-kind pieces that really catch the eye. I've also added home accessories to my shop! This is probably the change I am most excited for! It's so thrilling to spend hours creating a lovely new design and making it come to life afterwards.

So what is my new Etsy shop offering? Perfectly Romantic Floral Crowns

My absolute favorite thing to design because they are oh-so-lovely and add the perfect touch of elegance and romance to any occasion. I LOVE marketing to brides and creating custom pieces for their perfect day.

Gorgeous Headbands

Of course I stuck to my tried and true knack for designing eye-catching headbands. Here's one of my favorites which debuted with the opening of the shop. This headband is called the black and white socialite. I just love the polka dot ribbon, feather and beaded accents.

Home Decor Elements

After much thought and consideration, I'm finally adding custom made home decor elements to my shop! I adore making things for my home and wanted to offer the same gorgeous things to my clients as well. Among the home decor elements I'm offering are rustic hand-painted wooden signs, floral letters and sequin monogram letters.

I am so excited to share all of these new changes and additions with you guys. Please stop by my new ETSY shop and let me know what you think of all the new things we are offering. (As always, every item in my shop is designed and created by me. "Yah!" for supporting small creative businesses.)

xoxo, Laura