show preview: Art Star Craft Bazaar 2017

After a couple-of-years hiatus, I'm excited to be returning to the legendary Art Star Craft Bazaar this Mother's Day weekend! Held at Penn's Landing for 14 years running, this show is one of the premiere local shows for the maker community. Megan and Erin of the brick-and-mortar store of the same name do a tremendous job hosting this show- if you're in the Philly area, come on out! I'll be in BOOTH 57 with the lovely Gretchen of BirdQueen Designs. The show runs both Saturday AND Sunday from 11-6pm, is rain or shine, features 140 vendors from all over (not just Philly!), and is FREE to attend! To learn more about the show, follow this link. To see some cool stuff by vendors that will be in attendance, look below :)

Groundswell Greetings partnership

You may have seen this over on the exit343design Facebook page, in case you haven't: exit343design is part of the Groundswell Greetings family of artists!

 Wayyyyy back in January, found Ali Moore contacted me about her fledgling project- a website featuring original stationery by Philadelphia-area artists. I'd heard of websites with curated stationery before, but Groundswell Greetings is different. For $5, you get a card exclusive to the site (seriously- you won't find it anywhere else!) that was not only designed in Philly, but printed there too! There are so many occasions to choose from, too- occasions I didn't even know I needed a card for and I'm a freakin' stationery designer. exit343design is in great company with so many talented designers and illustrators-   check out the site right here and now!

Wayyyyy back in January, found Ali Moore contacted me about her fledgling project- a website featuring original stationery by Philadelphia-area artists. I'd heard of websites with curated stationery before, but Groundswell Greetings is different. For $5, you get a card exclusive to the site (seriously- you won't find it anywhere else!) that was not only designed in Philly, but printed there too! There are so many occasions to choose from, too- occasions I didn't even know I needed a card for and I'm a freakin' stationery designer. exit343design is in great company with so many talented designers and illustrators- check out the site right here and now!

2017 spring craft show schedule

snail mail love: Easter card round-up

Sharing the snail mail love- here's a round-up of some of my favorite cards for Easter!

songs for the studio: thirty-something playlist

Today is the ten-year anniversary of my 21st birthday. It means I'm officially "in" my thirties. I believe Chelsea Handler is accurately conveying my thoughts on the matter:

chelsea_unimpressed

Anyhow, it's no secret that I'm a music lover and I thought that making a playlist for the occasion would be a fun way to celebrate, while sharing some of my favorite party and age related songs. Here it is- the thirty-something playlist, hosted by Spotify.  Have a great St. Pat's and weekend!

7 truths about being a #bosslady

1. Be prepared to say farewell "free" time . . .

tswift_says_goodbye

2.  . . . and say hello to becoming a multi-tasking champion!

multi-task-queen

3. Oh, did I mention how many hats you need to wear?

wearing_all_the_hats

4. Learn when to say "no" or you will quickly get burnt out.

emma_stone_says_no

5. Your life becomes a series of lists on lists on lists.

so_many_lists

6. There might be naysayers and people who try to drag you down . . .

hecklers

. . . but you should know to listen to this guy:

you_do_you_boo

7. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

michael_cera_gif

wedding paper collection for 2017!

Hey all! If you hadn't already noticed, I did manage to get everything listed from the Lovesick Expo in the "shop" section of my site. I also re-organized the shop to *hopefully* make it easier to peruse- greeting cards are now broken down by occasion and much more! I just wanted to share some of the designs I'm most excited about this year- I hope you like them! All can be completely customized for YOUR big day! Pricing and additional information is available if you follow this link.

POST-LOVESICK PHILLY 2017

Whoa, what a whirlwind! The long-awaited Lovesick Expo has officially come and gone and it was  an amazing day! THANK YOU to the amazing staff of Lovesick and World Cafe Live, the talented fellow vendors, and most of all, to the wonderful couples who stopped by to see my work and make a button with Nick!

If you are checking out my website for things you saw at the show today, have no fear- I will be working hard in the next couple of days to add ALL of it- koozies, tote bags, invitation suites, save-the-dates, new cards, and button sets!

Have any questions about things you may have seen at the show? Feel free to drop me a line at: HELLO@EXIT343.COM

exit343design_lovesickexpo
exit343design_weddingbuttons2017

show preview: Handmade Arcade 2016

This weekend, I'm headed west to the Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh's largest craft fair! It's been a few years since I've participated and I'm glad to be able to go back. I know that Pittsburgh and Philly are supposed to have a rivalry, but I genuinely love the city with three rivers. Here's some vendors I'm excited to see- come out on Saturday to see it in person or click through each photo to shop online!

DIY Thanksgiving decor ideas

Searching for easy ways to jazz up your Thanksgiving table this year? Look no further than your local craft store! For these two projects, simply nab a thin paintbrush and white acrylic paint. 

R E P U R P O S E  Y O U R  

H A L L O W E E N  P U M P K I N

 I didn't have a chance to carve my pumpkin, so I hung on to it for Thanksgiving. If you carved yours, post-Halloween is a great time to find some deals on pumpkins at your local produce market!  MODIFICATION: If you don't trust your freehand paint skills, a stencil would work for this as well. Also, if you mess up, acrylic paint is easy to wash or peel off for a do-over!

I didn't have a chance to carve my pumpkin, so I hung on to it for Thanksgiving. If you carved yours, post-Halloween is a great time to find some deals on pumpkins at your local produce market!

MODIFICATION: If you don't trust your freehand paint skills, a stencil would work for this as well. Also, if you mess up, acrylic paint is easy to wash or peel off for a do-over!

U S E  F A L L  L E A V E S  F O R  D I Y  N A M E T A G S

 I happen to live next to a bike trail that is covered in fall leaves. It was easy to scavenge for the perfect, extra large leaf! I found that the drier the leaf, the more prone it was to stay flat.  MODIFICATION: If you don't trust your freehand paint skills, I would suggest getting scrapbook letters, arranging them on the leaf, then spray painting to be a reverse stencil. Actually, now that I'm typing it, I'd love to see it as a metallic gold leaf with show-through text! 

I happen to live next to a bike trail that is covered in fall leaves. It was easy to scavenge for the perfect, extra large leaf! I found that the drier the leaf, the more prone it was to stay flat.

MODIFICATION: If you don't trust your freehand paint skills, I would suggest getting scrapbook letters, arranging them on the leaf, then spray painting to be a reverse stencil. Actually, now that I'm typing it, I'd love to see it as a metallic gold leaf with show-through text! 

show preview: Indie Craft Experience Atlanta 2016

I am excited to return to Indie Craft Experience's Holiday Shopping Spectacular on Saturday, November 19th and Sunday, November 20th. It's been five years since I've vended in the Peach State; one of the things I'm most excited for is to see some new-to-me vendors! I perused the vendor lineup and here's some of the folks that are on my must-shop list. If you can't make the show in Atlanta, click on the photos to shop online!

exit343design's holiday 2016 show schedule

It's official- exit343design will be vending every weekend leading up to Christmas! That means five opportunities to shop small and handmade this holiday. If you have the chance, come out to see me and say hello! I'll be posting previews for each show as well, so you can get an idea of what to look forward to. Or, if you don't want to leave the house, sign up for my newsletter to find out about the promotions I'm running this season: 

See below for the posters for each show; click through to find out more about each on!

 NOVEMBER 19TH & 20TH IN ATLANTA, GA

NOVEMBER 19TH & 20TH IN ATLANTA, GA

 NOVEMBER 26TH IN LANCASTER, PA

NOVEMBER 26TH IN LANCASTER, PA

 DECEMBER 3RD IN PITTSBURGH, PA

DECEMBER 3RD IN PITTSBURGH, PA

 DECEMBER 10TH IN COLUMBUS, OHIO

DECEMBER 10TH IN COLUMBUS, OHIO

 DECEMBER 17TH AND 18TH IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS   

DECEMBER 17TH AND 18TH IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

 

 DECEMBER 18TH IN PHILADELPHIA, PA   

DECEMBER 18TH IN PHILADELPHIA, PA

 

oh hey, I quit my day job.

It’s been a long journey, but I finally arrived at the destination: as of August 2016, I became my own boss. It had been the goal since the very beginning, but it always seemed more like a dream. I spent years watching friends and colleagues in the creative industry break out on their own and seemingly flourish (thanks to the “magic” of social media); I knew I could do it too, but I always told myself that it wasn’t the right time. I had (and still have) a myriad of excuses as to why it isn’t, but over the summer I experienced a personal breaking point and I made the leap.

. . . fast forward to November; I’m still here with many of the same stresses (drowning in student loan debt, wanting to lose weight, etc), but happier than I’ve been in a long time. It’s a total cliché, but we only get this one life, so you should have a say in how you live it! However, I would be remiss if I said that I reached this point all by myself. If you’re thinking about taking the self-employment plunge, here are some things to consider- courtesy of someone who is living the awkward, teenage stages right now:

  1. ESTABLISH A SUPPORT SYSTEM   Yes, saving up money is important- however, in this case, I mean an emotional one. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to quit my day job- I’ve been running some iteration of  exit343design  since 2007, so you might say it’s been a long time coming. The decision didn’t come easy (see first paragraph) but I knew I’d be okay after some frank discussions about my new life and new income with my now fiancée, friends, and family members. Being an entrepreneur is taxing in many ways and knowing that there are people out there who have your back means the world. 

1. ESTABLISH A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Yes, saving up money is important- however, in this case, I mean an emotional one. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to quit my day job- I’ve been running some iteration of exit343design since 2007, so you might say it’s been a long time coming. The decision didn’t come easy (see first paragraph) but I knew I’d be okay after some frank discussions about my new life and new income with my now fiancée, friends, and family members. Being an entrepreneur is taxing in many ways and knowing that there are people out there who have your back means the world. 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     2. BE PREPARED TO WEAR A LOT OF HATS   I recently read  a blog post from Amy Tripple ; it’s actually unrelated to this post, but it mentions all the things that go into pricing for photography services (see #3 in the post). It’s totally true- as of right now, I’m acting as my own designer, creative director, assistant, printer, secretary, accountant, marketing manager, customer service manager, photographer, web designer . . . 

2. BE PREPARED TO WEAR A LOT OF HATS

I recently read a blog post from Amy Tripple; it’s actually unrelated to this post, but it mentions all the things that go into pricing for photography services (see #3 in the post). It’s totally true- as of right now, I’m acting as my own designer, creative director, assistant, printer, secretary, accountant, marketing manager, customer service manager, photographer, web designer . . . 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     3. THAT SAID, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR OR INVEST IN HELP    . . . so yeah, the amount of tasks to complete often feels insurmountable and that’s another place where your support system comes in handy. Numbers are not my strong suit, but my fiancée is an Excel whiz. I realized I need some coaching in the legal department, so I’m taking advantage of some free counseling services through  Philadelphia’s Corzo Center  for creative entrepreneurs. Pennsylvania also offers small business counseling in any industry through  Small Business Development Centers  across the state. I figured out some repetitive tasks in the studio were eating in to production times, so I farmed them out to friends with free time. I’m also part of a  stationery-centric professional group  that has been a terrific resource for this transition. Recognizing problem areas early will only help your business in the long run!

3. THAT SAID, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR OR INVEST IN HELP

 . . . so yeah, the amount of tasks to complete often feels insurmountable and that’s another place where your support system comes in handy. Numbers are not my strong suit, but my fiancée is an Excel whiz. I realized I need some coaching in the legal department, so I’m taking advantage of some free counseling services through Philadelphia’s Corzo Center for creative entrepreneurs. Pennsylvania also offers small business counseling in any industry through Small Business Development Centers across the state. I figured out some repetitive tasks in the studio were eating in to production times, so I farmed them out to friends with free time. I’m also part of a stationery-centric professional group that has been a terrific resource for this transition. Recognizing problem areas early will only help your business in the long run!

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     4. TUNE UP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH   This was a  big one  that I didn’t even realize was a problem until August. For years, if someone asked about my occupation, I always said “oh, I work at _____ and I’m an artist/photographer in my free time.” If they asked for elaboration, I told the person that I sell at craft fairs and that I photograph weddings, because those are concepts that people of any age and background could understand.  Then I quit my traditional day job. That is already a hard enough pill for some folks to swallow. And people who had heard those explanations from me couldn’t understand why I would leave a stable job to simply vend at craft shows full time. Yikes!   Learn from this mistake, craft an elevator pitch, and practice it!  Word of mouth is still so important and you want to accurately convey your business idea to the world. My modified one is still a work in progress, but it goes something like this:   “I’m a screen-printer who designs stationery and gift items. I sell at shows and to stores around the country. I also do freelance photography.”

4. TUNE UP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

This was a big one that I didn’t even realize was a problem until August. For years, if someone asked about my occupation, I always said “oh, I work at _____ and I’m an artist/photographer in my free time.” If they asked for elaboration, I told the person that I sell at craft fairs and that I photograph weddings, because those are concepts that people of any age and background could understand.

Then I quit my traditional day job. That is already a hard enough pill for some folks to swallow. And people who had heard those explanations from me couldn’t understand why I would leave a stable job to simply vend at craft shows full time. Yikes!

Learn from this mistake, craft an elevator pitch, and practice it! Word of mouth is still so important and you want to accurately convey your business idea to the world. My modified one is still a work in progress, but it goes something like this:

“I’m a screen-printer who designs stationery and gift items. I sell at shows and to stores around the country. I also do freelance photography.”

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     5. USE YOUR TIME WISELY, BUT BE SURE TO GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK   The gift of time is a fickle thing- it’s easy to get caught up in household tasks or fall down the Facebook rabbit hole, but it’s also just as easy to work all day for 14 hours straight. For me, I have what feels like a million to-do lists running at any given time. When I worked full time for someone else, I was so used to doing that job, then coming home and running my own business until exhaustion.  Getting burnt out sucks, and it’s so easy to do as an entrepreneur. Find a balance and don’t feel bad if you give yourself some time (maybe just two hours or maybe it’s a whole day!) off. Schedule it and enjoy it- flexibility is one of the best perks of self-employment! Think of it as a mental reset button.

5. USE YOUR TIME WISELY, BUT BE SURE TO GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

The gift of time is a fickle thing- it’s easy to get caught up in household tasks or fall down the Facebook rabbit hole, but it’s also just as easy to work all day for 14 hours straight. For me, I have what feels like a million to-do lists running at any given time. When I worked full time for someone else, I was so used to doing that job, then coming home and running my own business until exhaustion.

Getting burnt out sucks, and it’s so easy to do as an entrepreneur. Find a balance and don’t feel bad if you give yourself some time (maybe just two hours or maybe it’s a whole day!) off. Schedule it and enjoy it- flexibility is one of the best perks of self-employment! Think of it as a mental reset button.

One other thing that doesn't really fit the theme of this list, but is something I'm glad someone told me before I made the leap: healthcare is stupid expensive when you pay out of pocket. Don't say you weren't warned!

Anyhow, I hope this list proves to be helpful to someone out there. It took me reading many issues of INC Magazine, talking with other makers, and years of contemplation to realize it. If you have anything useful to add, feel free in the comments below!


tips from the exit343design blog

custom wedding paper: the Jordans say "i do" in Cherry Valley, California

This post has been a long time coming! I have been especially fortunate to help multiple friends with their paper and favor needs for their nuptials. My running portfolio is featured here in the CUSTOM section of my website. However, I have to say- I'm particularly proud of the work that my friend Amie and I put in to brand her wedding day and make so many personal touches for guests to enjoy.

First off, Amie and Grant are both creative people, so although I did much of the designing, it was also a collaborative effort in certain ways. Also of note- they live in LA, so getting this done was a fun challenge of snail mail-ing samples and a bajillion emails to a different time zone. And finally- their wedding at the Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley, CA was seriously amazing- you can see photos from Jenny A. Rogers here and some of her work is sprinkled in below!

the bride and her MOH spray-painted over a hundred of these animals for seating place cards!

Amie sourced these vintage stamps from a shop in LA. Also, we tried to include animals in small details all over the place. The Highland Springs Resort is also a working farm!


for the main invite, I created a stylized map of the grounds. each circle represents a different activity, all of which is detailed in a schedule below. my personal favorite: the dancing Elaine silhouettes, signifying the dance floor at the reception.

this is the whole suite laid out, featuring lavender from the actual venue.


the couple had a catered Mexican rehearsal dinner and used papel picado as decor for the day of.


more goodies! Amie created the program fans herself from files I shared with her. I printed the totes and they were used for the hotel gift bags. The lavender satchels were assembled by her- and you already met Mr. Squirrel!


This is just the best! When you spend so much time pouring over the details, it just makes sense to get photographs to document them all. Thank you to Jenny A. Rogers for this great photo!

Are you interested in adding personal touches to your big day? I want to help! Feel free to contact me either through this site or at hello[at]exit343.com to start the conversation.