Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Trip to Africa-Mothers Without Borders

I have been so lucky to be affiliated with Mothers Without Borders.  I had an opportunity to help with a charity dinner and auction back in February and I have been hooked since.  Hearing the stories, meeting the people who have changed so many lives, I knew I needed to do something.  Enter Be The Change tee.  I knew that I wanted to give back.  I knew I wanted to spread awareness.  I knew I just HAD to do it.  Why not?  I have been blessed with so much.  Just a few dollars makes such a difference.  I decided to make this tshirt so I could donate money.  Along with another purpose, Warrior Ethan, I split the profits and donate to these two great causes. 
  My dear friend, Amanda, who introduced me to this great cause, was able to go to Zambia for three weeks with Mothers Without Borders.  She anxiously got prepared with various humanitarian projects to donate and all the medical things required to make the journey.  I watched her three kids for one of the weekends she was gone.  I felt I helped out a ton and did my part so she could go bless lives. 
  After her return, I scheduled an evening to go to her house and hear the stories and see the pictures.  Those sweet faces of the children.  They are so happy.  Happy with nearly nothing.  Playing soccer in bare callused feet with a homemade soccer ball made of rolled up paper.  They made do with what they had and never complained once.  They just want to be loved.  We sat at her computer and at moments we were both crying.  My heart was so full, yet ached.  This is going on in the world.  This is going on in our own country. 
  I was even more moved to find other organizations to team up with here in the US, and Arizona.  There are starving children in our own back yard.  I was even more motivated to spread the word.  To be the change.  Small simple acts with great love.  This is why I am driven. So I can give back. 
  Amanda brought me back some fabric from Zambia.  They have such beautiful prints.  Amazing, joyful colors and designs.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them so please stay tuned in the next month or so when I reveal a limited supply of something great with Zambia fabric.  Have you seen our Be The Change tee?  Did you know that a portion of the profits is donated to Mothers Without Borders?  Head over HERE now and get yours.  Available in kids and adult sizes.  Now when you where your shirt, do something great.  Find opportunites in your area of how you can be the change.  There is no better payment in life than the feeling from helping someone in need.  It connects us.  It changes us. 

the amazing fabric warehouse.  I was so lucky to have Amanda bring some back for me so I could make wonderful creations with them and donate the profits right back.  So stay tuned for my project reveal. 

drawing water from the well.  These people were balancing huge amounts of water on their head while carrying their babies in their wraps.

The children who live at the Mothers Without Borders center. 

The kids were so excited to have someone read to them.  This little boy was in a temporary care facility.  Amanda described them as "Wild kids"  like the kids from the movie "Hook"  they were quick and sneaky and roudy, but when you sat down to read with them they were but little children. 

Those braids standing straight up!!  love it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to School Sale!

Are you ready like I am?  Oh man.  I need a routine.  Actually my 6 year old needs a routine.  Does anyone else's children think that everyday needs to be filled with fun and exciting activities?  Every morning they both get started on what the next day's schedule is.  Drives.  Me.  Nuts. 
  I can't believe school is just around the corner.  Like literally next week.  I remember thinking when I was little the summer was soooooo looooonnnggg.  Not that way anymore.  I guess that's what happens when you have other things to worry about than getting a tan on your back porch using baby oil.  Yes, I did that.  You know you did too.  And Sun-In.  Oh man that stuff is bad.  ha ha.  What I know now as a hairstylist.  aaahhh. 
  So I have a fun thing for you!!!  A back to school sale is just what we need right?  Even if your done with school, that's ok.  You still deserve an "I survived yet another summer with my kids" sale.  Enjoy 30% off your entire order!  Enter BACKTOSCHOOL30 at checkout!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mom, Wife, Friend, Hairstylist, Business Owner. How do I do it?

So many people have asked me lately how I "do it?" 
1. How do I manage my time?
2. How do I sew all my inventory with three kids running around?
3. How do I still run a business, do hair, and have a social life?
4.  How do I still find time to do things that I want to do? 
I get asked these questions all the time.  But let me tell you a little secret.  It hasn't been easy.  Its better now than it was because I have learned a lot and set goals. 

A very close friends called me the other night asking me these questions.  Mind you, she just has her third baby just a couple of weeks ago.  She has such a business savvy mind set and has a very entrepreneurial personality.  She has recently launched a Radio Show (podcasts).  Timing had it that it all got swooped of the ground just before she had her baby. 

What was my answer?  Time management and organization.  I had to learn this one big time.  A few years ago, while battling Thyroid issues and other hormone problems that lead to a little depression, I asked my doctor for help.  He told me to schedule, schedule, schedule.  Schedule your laundry, your cleaning time, your shower/getting ready time, your relax time, your kid time, your grocery time.  I know that you may laugh a little, but I needed that.  My brain was so much on overload.  There were so many things I wanted to do besides being a mom and wife.  Why was I struggling?  Why I couldn't do it all and keep it together?  He told me to get a giant calander *the kind your school teacher had on her desk, Make a list of things that needed to get done for the week, prioritize them by what needed to be done at the beginning of the week and what could get done at the end of the week.  Some times our brains need to be told what to do instead of them telling us what to do. This allows for anxiety to be comforted and knowing that its okay, cause the floor is scheduled to be mopped on Friday.  This allowed me to relax, breath and Let it go a little.  It also gave me a sense of accomplishment.  I did it.  I did all the things on my list today and I still have more time, so I am gonna sit here and watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix

My work week goes as follows during nap time.  Approx. 2 hours.
Monday, nap time order gathering/packaging and shipping
Tuesday: cutting out orders
Wednesday: Sewing orders/packaging
Thursday: Sewing/packaging
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Hair Appointments all day.

Now let me tell you.  I am a quick sewer.  I don't like tedious tasks and crafts and sewing projects that take a long time.  I like to start and finish in a simple sitting.  I am like that with my portrait drawing too.  I like to be able to finish them in a sitting of 1-2 hours.  I design my own patterns so there is no wasted time cutting unnecessary things and reading directions.  Since I have been making my products for a while I have great speed.  I do assembly line sewing.  Mellissa will come and work for a few hours a couple times a month.  I have things cut the day before or that morning.  I sit at my serger and put the pieces together, while she is at my sewing machine finishing and labeling each piece.  Because of this system, we are able to bust out so much.  I pay her per item she sews.  Usually it is $2/item.  The girl makes great money for just a couple hours of work. 

As far as other daily tasks and things that are required of me, I have made a chore chart organized by day, and week.  There are daily things my kids do such as, unload the dishwasher, set the table etc... then there are the weekly chores.  I chose Friday for our cleaning day since I don't work and that's what I grew up doing.  We start in the morning after breakfast as we are done by late morning or at lunch time.  We have time to go play.  I get the laundry (towels etc...) ran Thursday night so they are ready to be folded by the kids on Friday. 

This schedule has allowed me more freedom because I am not wasting time wondering what needs to be done each day.  Everything has its place. 

I made it my resolution that I was going to do more things that made me who I am.  Things that I have passions for that are not sewing or hairstyling.  I love to sing and play the guitar.  I used to write my music all the time.  but when you get out of it it gets tough, so I have been enjoying playing cover songs of some of the latest hits on the radio.  I love to draw.  I pull it out occasionally.  My portraits need to practiced more than once a year.  So I just need to take my pad and pencil with me to the park while the kids are playing instead of playing of my phone.  I love making my photobooks.  I have a great consultant who has introduced me to Heritage Makers.  I love documenting my life and my kids life.  They love to look at their books.  There are so many great things I want to do with it, I just need to set the time to do it.  Sundays are great for me. 

The most important thing I have learned is balance.  You can't be inspired and create if you don't live.  You have to live your life, and when you do it inspires you.
I haven't mastered this, but I have come a long way.  It makes me feel on top of the world to check things off a list.  I make my lists cute and I pin them to my wall in my studio so they are great to look at and I don't dread them.  I have a great sense of pride and accomplishment now that I set goals of having my LLC.  I feel unstoppable.  Its amazing when you write your goals down, things happen. 

So I encourage you.  If you are starting out in this business can be overwhelming the things you need to do to stand out.  Social media, blog, product, photography. etc...You can do it.  Organize and prioritize your time.  Its precious time, so make it count.  You Got this!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Social media series part 1: creating a great profile and hashtags. How to use Instagram to up your business and stand out

I have enjoyed learning this great tool, Instagram. When I first signed up with it I really only thought it was a photo editing app. Had no idea there was a social aspect behind it until I saw notifications popping up and seeing my friends. I liked it much better than others and it was quicker and simpler. I needed that because of all the other things I was juggling.   I have learned a lot about Instagram. How to use hashtags, how to take simple GOOD photos with your smart phone and how to find others.

I love my Instagram community. It's a great network for small businesses. We support each other so much. We encourage shopping local, and know the value of a good product.

So I am going to give a brief little lesson on how to us IG for your business. Ask some questions and give some answers.  This will be a series of posts because of all the information I am giving to you. So please follow along as I post them. :)

-Instagram profile. You have an area where you can use a small picture. Most do their logo or a collage of items they sell.
  Your user name is how people will know you in the IG community. This is where you would put your business name, the your name is under that.
  Creat a brief and fun bio of who you are where your from and what you do. Change part of this occasionally and let other parts of your personality come out.
Link to your website. This is great because those of us who are trying to see where our shopping traffic is coming from this is awesome. It gets you a direct sale.

Hashtags:  These are using the # sign.  This puts a mark on your post and connects you to the rest of the IG world.  People who aren't already following you.  This is a great way to get new followers.  Use hashtags that are related to your post.  If you are posting a recipe about dairy free product, use the hashtags: #dairyfree #plantbasedeating #dairyfreecookies (or whatever it is you made).  Think of words that people would use to search this item.  This creates a common group as well on the search side.  So when someone puts in a hashtag and searches, they are directed to hashtags that are related or share some of the same words that they typed in.  They can look at all sorts of IG accounts by looking at their pictures and if they find an account they like and is worth following, they follow.  So use those hashtags! Think of it like a family tree. Your product is stump. Each hashtag creates a branch and from that people find you and that creates other little branches so you keep growing and growing. Use ones that are relevant to your product.

Tagging people.  When you are answering a question that was asked on your post, make sure you tag the person who asked it so they know you replied. They will get a notification be able to read it.  use the @ sign along with their IG username.  Mine is @bellapiadesigns.  If you take a picture of something that is related to someone, or a business in someway, tag them so they can see and so your followers have the chance to follow that person if they would like.  Example:  Look at this cool shirt I got in the mail from @soinsobusiness.  Your helping support these people as businesses. If you take a picture of a friend or you want someone to see it tag them. They will be notified and be able to view and comment and repost if they wish.

I hope that helped. Let me know what you think!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Top knot! A trick for the thin haired

Enjoy my first video tutorial. I have been doing this trick for a while and I wondered if anyone else could use the tip. I hope you find it useful.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Up coming Event!! Bellapia Open House

I am so excited to announce that I will be having my first Open House!  I new I needed to host my own skirt party, but I am glad I waited til now.  I have connected with great people these last few months that I am happy to have along with me! 
In this Party/Open house you will be able to purchase anything from my inventory, which I am working every so diligently on, as well as make custom skirt orders.  This is a great opportunity because you get to choose from hundreds of fabrics online.  Make a one of a kind maxi, or get a great set of Two Faced Pencil skirts for you and your minis!  This is the only time to get a custom, 1 of a kind, unique item from me. 
Along with Bellapia Designs, you will be able to shop J LaLa Designs, Park Lane Jewelry, Heritage of the Heart wood signs and other crafts, and Chocolate dipped Cherries. 
Since this is an open house event, Please come and go as you wish.  Bring your cash and plastic ;)  There will be great food, raffles, and prizes for the first 10 people to come!
Bring your friends! 
Because of the nature of this event, I would ask for children to be left at home.  There will be a lot going on. But if you want to purchase for your little, just take her measurements before hand. 
Please feel free to share!  This is your chance to come purchase items at a lower price! 

New Baby Essentials in the shop!

There is just nothing more sweet than that sweet breath and those little grunts.  The little yawn and the tiny toes.  I just can't stay away from these littles.  If you are a good friend of mine and have had a baby while knowing me, then you know I love to give each baby my very own special name.  Meet little "polka" Dot.  Dot is about 8 weeks old and is the sweetest little minute ever.  She reminds me of my kids how they were so dainty and petite.  Up until they were bottle fed.  She is sweet and beautiful so of course I had to ask my new friend, Nicole, if I could borrow her little polka Dot for some newborn pictures.  I love her.  Don't you? 
These blankets come in a set or alone.  Your choice.  Options are there when ordering the product in the shop with the appropriate prices.  Go check them out now!  Also coming soon....Crib sheets!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!!

Our 4th was so fun!  Usually I see it as a day that I get to lay around and relax, but lets be honest...who really gets to rest during the day with three young kids?  So I planned ahead and did some activities.  We started the day with a yummy breakfast of Danish Puff Pancakes, ice cream and bacon.  Got ready in our amazing shirts from Southern Adornments and headed to the movies for Summer Movie Fun put on by our local theater.  After which we came home and started our family games.  Look at the pics to see.  We had a great day.  What did you do?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quick last minute 4th o July craft

This is a great scrap craft. I had air of scraps from doing my patriotic line so this was a great way to use up those scraps! I thought of this the other day when I realized I needed to teach my 4 year old how to tie a simple knot. This was perfect. She learned quickly. I cut my scraps into long strips and tied them on about 1 inch apart onto my hemp rope. I love the mixture of prints. Goes perfect with my hellos sign and my home sign. This took about 20 minutes to make. So hurry! It's not too late!

4th of July...What are you gonna do?

Its been a few years since we have spent the 4th in AZ.  Its hot here and you don't want to be outside unless water is involved.  I tend to drop the ball on little holidays like the 4th, Easter, Valentines day etc...  So My goal was to celebrate them.  Love them.  And teach my kids.  I don't want to just sit around cause that doesn't happen with you have three little kids running around.  They need to be entertained and family time needs to be spent.  I found some great activities that we will be doing whether we are at our house or a friends house.  We are going to eat well and have fun!

First things first.  Husband requested fruit pizza.  Look at these.  Aren't they pretty!? You can get the recipe HERE
Yep!  Those are happenin.  I think you can get sundae glasses from the dollar store. Find the recipe HERE
There is nothing wrong with a little nail painting.  I use the quick dry otpions.  Its just one coat and drys in like 30 seconds.  Total kid proof! 
Shirts are a fun thing to do.  They get their chance to make a mess and create something awesome! Find out more HERE

Fun Lawn Games.  We have a rocky back yard but it will still work.  I love the carnival style ball and cans.  The life size jenga is great for all the kids.  The ring toss into the hoola hoop is cool.  Can easily be converted into a water bucket system.  I plan to by some buckets from the dollar store and label them with various points.  Throw the water toy In the buckets and add up the points.  Whoever has the most point after tossing all their toys, wins!!  There are so many more.  I am grateful for the people who thought of them.  Go HERE for more information and directions for each game.
What you you doing on the 4th! 
We are in the Land of the Free because of the Brave!