BRANDING: WINNIE JEAN

September 21, 2015

This August we launched our new shop website under the new name (Winnie Jean) and I couldn't be more excited! I've been calling this a brand "refresh" because even though the shop has a new name, the vibe and certain elements are very similar to the visual branding I created for Stephanie Creekmur back in 2013. I believe, wholeheartedly, the changes we've made are for the better and I'm so excited for what's to come both at Winnie Jean and here on the new Stephanie Creekmur blog.

WHY DID YOU CHANGE YOUR SHOP NAME?

We have been selling products under 'Stephanie Creekmur' for almost 4 years now. During that time we have learned and grown a lot. I am now a mentor to many aspiring, creative entrepreneurs and while sharing business knowledge is still a huge passion of mine, our first priority is to create new and fun products that help you celebrate the every day exuberantly. If you're a fellow business owner who looks to 'Stephanie Creekmur' for advice and inspiration, it made more since to make a home for all that jazz - so here we are!

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WINNIE JEAN?

So happy you asked! ;) Winnie Jean is a combination of names from my family and something I've been holding onto for almost a year. I wanted to make sure that this division of services was right and not just a blip on the radar. Winnie is what everyone calls my grandmother, Winifred. I have always linked my love for stationery and sending cards to her because she is the first person I remember doing such a thing. I hold on to her letters because one day I won't be able to hear her words but I will be able to read them. Jean is my momma's middle name (after my Grandpa Gene!) and she is how I learned to celebrate the small things. Growing up I would always find love notes in my lunchbox, a new shirt on my bed just because and I still get Valentine's Day care packages. These two ladies mean so much to me and have shown me how to have fun and love big. I hope to spread that message with every Winnie Jean order.


On top of refreshing some of our brand elements, I also launched a new shop website! I purchased a cheap ($39!) Shopify theme on Creative Market and then paid for some customizations. I sent them a mockup of how I wanted it all to look and they made it happen! I'm really happy with how it turned out and now shopping on Winnie Jean from a mobile device is even easier.


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I'M GETTING MARRIED: THE PROPOSAL

September 18, 2015
I can't believe it's already been two weeks (tomorrow) since Jeremy and I's engagement. It's been a whirlwind to say the least and before I forget all of the special details, I wanted to type out our proposal! So, if you're here for business tips, I apologize! ;)

First things first. One of the questions I get asked the most is "how did y'all meet?". Jeremy (or J as I like to call him) likes to just say, "we met online.", but I always chime in and say, "No, it was much worse than that.". I don't know  if y'all have heard of the phone app, Tinder or not but that's how we met! Their tagline is "Any swipe can change your life." and in our case it couldn't be more true! I don't think I'd recommend the app for someone looking for love, but, ya never know, it worked for us! I would use Tinder before I went to bed and I liked to count how many matches I could get in a row. I never talked to anyone on there, but for some reason, when J reached out, I responded.

We talked for an entire week before we decided to meet up for the first time. Still to this day I can't believe I actually followed through with our date. I had not been into dating for quite a few years and the idea of trying to get to know someone new did not sound appealing. But, I drove the hour down to his neck of the woods anyway. (Yes, an hour! I wanted to make sure we didn't run into anyone I knew! Ha!) I was so nervous I almost felt sick, but the moment I saw him in the parking lot and he greeted me with a big smile and a hug, I felt at ease. We had the best time and I can honestly say it was the best first day I have ever been on in my life. J and I live about an hour apart and technically should not even have matched up through Tinder. I put my radius limit at 10 miles and his was at 15. We are 40 miles apart. Thank you, Tinder and your mediocre technology! ;)


Date night in Cincinnati, April 2015

THE PROPOSAL

J and I had had plans to go camping in the Smoky Mountains (His parents go for a few months each year and we stay with them in a camper. Thank goodness!) for months and though we have been talking about marriage for quite some time, I honestly was not expecting it so soon. I was anxious for it to happen but I was trying to be content in our season of life.  I had actually told J that there was no way he could surprise me completely. That no matter what, I would know when it was coming. He said he took that as a personal challenge and boy did he complete it!

Our first full day in Tennessee (it was Saturday of Labor Day weekend) we decided we were going to take a drive through Cades Cove (an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - one of my favorite things to do! There are lots of old churches and cabins and you usually see quite a bit of wildlife. It was pouring down rain when we left and looking back, I should have been wondering why J was SO anxious to drive through Cades Cove in the rain. Lucky for him I didn't think anything of it and off we went!

As we were driving to the Cove, we started talking about our potential wedding. J said, "what if we had our wedding here?". Like I said, we've been talking about our wedding/marriage for quite some time so this was not out of the ordinary. I thought for a minute and the more I thought about it the more it just felt right. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee and my family has been coming to the Gatlinburg area every year for Christmas for years so this was definitely a special place to me. J and his family have been camping in the National Park since he was a child and it's such a special place to him as well. We had talked about a destination wedding in the past but none of the places we talked about felt right. So, with this new thought in mind, I said, "let's stop at all of the churches in Cades Cove." J was thinking "thank ya Jesus" because it went right along with his plan.

The first church we came to was the Primitive Baptist Church (the only church I had previously walked through). It's down a long lane off the main loop through the Cove. We walked in the church and started talking about what it'd be like to have our wedding there. J waited until the church cleared out (luckily it wasn't too busy that day!) and as we were standing in the front of the church he grabbed my hands. He said, "we'd be standing just like this." He then told me how much he loved me and at this point I was still clueless. I said I love him too and gave him a hug. J started pulling away from me and was talking SO fast I could barely keep up. All of a sudden, he was down on one knee. I was completely shocked! I kept saying, "oh my gosh, is this happening?". He asked me to be his wife and of course I said YES! When J was trying to put the ring on my finger (that I hadn't even looked at yet - it's a beauty!) he started to put it on my right hand. In the middle of saying oh my gosh, I can't believe it I yelled, WRONG HAND!

I didn't notice this at the time but afterward J told me a man was starting to come into the church but when he saw J on one knee he started saying "proposal, proposal" with his hands up and he wasn't letting anyone else come into the church. I thought that was super sweet, though in that moment there could have been 100 people in that church and it still would have been just J and I. Once we got outside I was so excited and what had just happened was still sinking in.






But, it didn't stop there! As we were leaving the church J said we were going to dinner at a special place. We agreed we would wait to call everyone (because there were a lot of people to call and we wanted to soak it all in) until after dinner. J was kind of acting like he was lost and I thought he was turning around in this cabin's driveway. There were a bunch of cars so I was embarrassed that he was pulling all the way in! I was thinking these people are going to be wondering who's pulling in their driveway.

Then I started to recognize some cars. I looked at J and he says, there is one more surprise! We walked into the cabin and our families were there waiting for us. It was so special to have my family there to celebrate with us and there are a million reasons I love J but his thoughtfulness has to be in the top five. All of the planning he put into this day to make it special and memorable was just amazing. It was the best day ever!



And for those of you interested, here is my gorgeous ring. He did such a great job picking it out (even though he was so stressed about it!). I couldn't love it more, and even though I'm probably biased, it's the prettiest ring I've ever seen (there is a collar of diamonds around the solitaire that you can't see in this photo). It couldn't have been more perfect if I had picked it out myself! Thanks to Anita at Yelton (in West Chester, Ohio) for helping him through the process! :)

THE WEDDING

Being that it's only two weeks into our engagement, we don't have very much planned. But we do know it will be next May and we will be getting married in the same church we were engaged! I'm so excited about this next phase of life and even more excited for J and I to start our lives together. He truly is a gem and I thank God for him every day. Thank you so much for all of the calls, texts, emails, Facebook/Instagram comments and cards! The love and excitement shown to us so far is so appreciated!

Below are some photos from a wedding held in the same church. I get so excited for our special day just looking at them!

Photos by Dixie Pixel
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HOW TO SAVE INSTAGRAM PHOTOS WITHOUT TAKING A SCREENSHOT

September 3, 2015
I don't know about y'all but I absolutely love when a customer shares a photo of their purchase on Instagram. Not only is it super fun to see how they're using something I've created in their every day life, but it's also great free press. Word of mouth is a gem, y'all! It also helps with creating content for my shop's Instagram feed since I get to then share it with my followers. For the most part, I have always taken a screenshot from my phone or from my desktop computer. This works OK, but if you want the largest resolution photo you can get, (and don't want to crop out the rest of your screen) here is the answer!


I'm going to use this photo posted by my friend Cara of One Swell Studio! She purchased one of my Smalltown Girl T-shirts and because I haven't had many apparel customer shares on social media yet, I was super excited! I know 1. I want to share it on my shop's feed and 2. I want the biggest version of the photo saved to my computer.


1. OPEN INSTAGRAM IN YOUR BROWSER

Open your internet browser and go to the Instagram account by typing in their username after instagram.com. In this case I typed http://www.instagram.com/oneswellstudio.

2. OPEN THE DESIRED PHOTO

Find the photo you're hoping to save and open it up (all you have to do is click the photo).


3. RIGHT CLICK AND SELECT VIEW SOURCE

Once you have the photo open, right click with your mouse and select "View Page Source". This will open up a new window that if you're not familiar with HTML or CSS will look a bit scary. I promise, it won't be in just a sec!


4. SEARCH FOR 'JPG'

Once the page of code is opened, search ("Command F" on a Mac) for 'jpg'. This will highlight the part of the code you're looking for and need to save the image.


5. HIGHLIGHT IMAGE URL

Make sure you highlight the entire URL found with your search. Copy this link and paste into your browser URL. The image you're wanting to save should appear.


6. RIGHT CLICK AND SAVE

Right click the image and save to the desired location on your computer. Simple as that!


Now you're ready to share on Instagram, Pinterest or any other marketing outlets you may use!

I hope y'all found this helpful! If you have any questions just holler at me in the comments! ;)
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HAND LETTERING: HOW TO DRAW LETTERS

September 2, 2015
I am so excited for this new series on hand lettering. It's a topic I get emails (or Instagram comments) about almost daily so I thought it was about time I share a little something here! Today, I'm going to start with the very basics: drawing letters. Hand lettering, after all, is the art of drawing letters. I am not talking about typography (the art of arranging type) or technical calligraphy (though I sometimes refer to one of my styles as fauxligraphy!). A simple way to think of the difference between lettering and calligraphy is, calligraphy is writing, lettering (digitally or by hand) is drawing. It takes practice and experimentation, so don't give up if you're not an expert right away. I still practice every day! 


Getting started is super easy and you probably already have most of these supplies laying around the house.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:


 PENCILS:  I use these Faber-Castell Graphite Pencils I still have from college, but any ol' No. 2 (or mechanical) pencil will do.
 ERASER:  Again, you can use any ol' eraser (even the one on the end of your pencil) but I use Paper Mate Black Pearl Erasers.
 PAPER:  You can use copy paper but I prefer to draw in my sketch book so I can keep my sketches organized. I like to use the Darice Hardbound Sketch Book (9"x12") (this can be picked up at Walmart) because it's spiral bound. I usually have one sketchbook (or two) per year.

That's really all you need, but here are a few things that will make your life easier:

 TRACING PAPER:  I use my Canson Tracing Paper when I am reworking phrase groupings or am changing the format of a letter/word. It makes your life so much easier if you make a mistake. Instead of having to tediously redraw everything you can quickly trace the parts you're still happy with.
 RULER OR STRAIGHT EDGE:  This will help you when wanting to draw letters in a straight line. I also use it to create a rectangle with the same dimensions as my greeting cards. This helps me decide the best way to lay out a phrase when designing for a new card. I use this Pro Art 24-Inch Stainless Steel Ruler I still have from college.
 LIGHT BOX:  This is not something I have purchased yet (to be honest I'm not sure how much I'll use it when I'm just drawing letters) but I'd really love a Gagne Portable Light Box. I'm more interested in it for when I am using watercolors but I know a lot of letterers find these helpful and this is the exact version I'm looking to purchase.

None of these need supplies need to be super fancy. Just about anything will work. You can also invest in lined or gridded paper, though this can add some extra steps should you choose to turn your sketch into a vector (that's a post for another day). If I need to make sure I'm writing on a straight line I prefer to draw my own guides using a ruler. I've got a few more supplies I like to use but I'll save that for another post as well.

Whenever I teach hand lettering I always prompt my students to write out the alphabet first (lowercase and uppercase). This way, they can see what letter forms come natural to them and they don't focus so much on making a letter the same way I do. It helps them recognize their signature lettering style right off the bat. It's much easier to build off what you've already got than to try and start from scratch by mimicking someone else's letters.

It's also important to understand a few basic lettering types: serif, sans serif and script.


You will more than likely develop a favorite lettering type to work with (I prefer lettering scripts) but it's always a good idea to practice them all. Knowing how to draw different types of letters will give your hand lettering projects more depth.

Now, for the good stuff! One of my favorite drawing exercises is to draw a subject over and over. Since we're drawing letters, I want you to draw each letter of the alphabet 40 different ways. Yes, I said 40. That may seem like a lot but when you think about it, it's not that hard! Try and draw 20 lowercase and 20 uppercase of each letter and make sure you're using each of the lettering types we talked about above. That means you only need, roughly, 6 of each lettering style in lowercase and uppercase. You can do it! And you'll be amazed how quickly you actually can complete all 40.


If you do this exercise, share a photo on Instagram and use #letteringwithsteph (tag me too @StephanieCreekmur) so I can see how you're doing!

I've got a few more hand lettering posts in the works: My Favorite Hand Lettering Supplies, How to Create Hand Lettered Phrases and How to Turn Your Sketch Into a Product. Are there any hand lettering topics in particular (that I haven't already listed) you'd like me to talk about? If so, just holler in the comments!
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STATIONERY ACADEMY PHOENIX

September 1, 2015
I can't believe I have a third Stationery Academy under my belt. (You can read about my second experience, here.) It was held in Phoenix, Arizona and I was thrilled when Jennifer Faught (SA President) asked me to return as a speaker. I wouldn't be where I'm at today without attending SA (August 2013, Dallas) and the relationships I've made along the way because of this amazing conference.

All photos are by Stephanie Studer of Life Created. She is one talented lady!

Day one is always so exciting. It's so fun to hug the necks of old friends and meet so many new, yet familiar, faces. All seven of us speakers made a tunnel at the door and greeted each guest. Everyone came in to find their seats and they were overwhelmed by the swag. Every time I've attended the swag has been amazing but I have to say, I think Phoenix 2015 took the cake. The sponsors were amazing and so generous.

Day one is also when we share our fears. It can be so intimidating to share your biggest, darkest fears with people you barely know, but I think this is part of the special sauce that makes Stationery Academy stand out among so many creative conferences out there. Bonds are formed almost immediately when you realize that someone else, someone you may have even had on a pedestal, shares the same fears as you. You quickly realize we're all in this together and you've just gained 24 best friends who you can lean on and who will cheer you on throughout this entrepreneurship journey.
After the sessions wrapped for day one, everyone went up to their rooms for a quick second to freshen up and then it was off to the cocktail reception. This is always fun because generally you're pretty tired from traveling in the morning (I left for the airport at 3:30 AM) and all of the hard work that happens on day one. It's nice to kick back and get to know everyone a little bit better. I brought some Cheers Y'all koozies for all of the ladies and I just love these photos Stephanie captured!
Day two I held two breakout sessions - one on hand lettering and the other on online shops. I love the photos captured of Cara of One Swell Studio (seriously the sweetest and prettiest person, ever!) and Erin of Strawberry Mommycakes (Erin has an awesome blog and has since shared a How to Create Amazing Hand Lettered Art post!) during the hand lettering breakout. Thank you so much to Paper & Ink Arts for donating the supplies! Also, why oh why do I make the most awful facial expressions while teaching? Ha! Sorry y'all!
We also took some group photos and that's always a lot of fun. The one outside we were practically in the middle of the road. Luckily it wasn't that busy, but hey - anything for the perfect shot! ;) We had dinner at the Arrogant Butcher and it was delicious! I was late getting down to the lobby so I missed everyone walking together. I wasn't exactly sure where I was going but luckily there was a Pedicab outside the hotel who knew the way! It was such a fun ride even if it was only a couple of blocks. Sadly, Stephanie did not capture my arrival! ;)
Day three I held a breakout session on social media and how to use the free platforms to market your business. We also had a session on marketing and all the speakers were on the panel. Below I am modeling my awesome Everyday I'm Sparklin' tote from my roommate and Thimblepress owner, Kristen Ley! It's part of her collaboration with Glitter Guide!
And to wrap up the already amazing experience, the last evening there is a graduation dinner. We drink champagne and celebrate how far we've already come and how far our businesses will go because of the SA experience. Everyone goes around the room and shares their biggest takeaway from the last few days. There are lots of laughs and tears and the whole thing just gives you all the heart eyes.
I absolutely love this picture of Jennifer and I. We have been friends for a little over five years now (we met at the first ever Amber Housley Inspired - now known as Inspired Retreat.) and to say I'm thankful for her friendship and mentorship is an understatement. She is amazing and what she is doing for other entrepreneurs is incredible. So much work goes into each event and she really takes it to the next level. During one of the sessions Jennifer made the comment, "Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's stupid". That couldn't be more true. A lot of conferences out there ARE all fluff. With Stationery Academy you get education, action steps, community AND all the fluff. It truly is a one of a kind experience.

If you have been on the fence about attending, I cannot recommend it enough! If you have any questions at all I'm more than happy to answer them! Following your dreams can be scary but I promise, if you step out off the ledge you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. I took my business full-time two and a half years ago and it has been one of the biggest challenges yet greatest blessings in my life.

If you feel like an in-person conference would be too much, with travel expense and time away from home, I highly suggest checking out SA's new online course, Creative's Academy. It's the EXACT same content covered at the in-person conferences but, in a 7-week online format. Plus, you have access to weekly expert coaches (I'll be popping in, yay!), tons of bonuses, the private student community, Q&A calls, and so much more. Jennifer (I want to be her when I "grow up") will be with you every step of the way.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, I urge you to invest in yourself and REGISTER. You won't regret it. If you decide this course is right for you, use code "WINNIEJEAN" for $450 off your registration and as a BONUS, if you register by this Friday (September 4th), you will get a free 30 minute phone consultation (email consults can be arranged as well) with me. Anything is up for grabs - questions about Creative's Academy, my biz, social media strategy, running an online shop, product development, hand lettering, you name it! Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link but I truly believe in this content with my whole heart and I would never share anything with y'all that I wouldn't try or haven't tried myself! All opinions are my own.
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