Life & Business: Starting and Running a Business: How to Find What Works

Life & Business: Starting and Running a Business: How to Find What Works

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When Kristen Pumphrey launched P.F. Candle Co. in 2008, she had no experience or education in how to run a business. Kristen knew she loved candles and had a knack for making them, but going from a 12-year-old who loved crafting candles to a full-blown, small-batch candle company was a new challenge that, at times, seemed overwhelmingly hard. But like almost everything in life, experience is knowledge is power. Since then, her husband Thomas Neuberger has joined the team of now nearly a dozen. Along the way, Kristen has learned countless little lessons and, due to her authentic approach to business, has gained a large loyal following of supporters and customers from around the globe. Today, hindsight being 20/20, Kristen is sharing some honest and simple advice to help you discover what works for your business to run smoothly. —Sabrina

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Life & Business: Gordy’s Pickle Jar

Life & Business: Gordy’s Pickle Jar

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I feel like pickles are either something you love or like — okay, I’m sure there are people out there who dislike them, but I think those who do love them more than make up for it. I personally fall in the former category and adore pickles; be it a dill beside a sandwich, gherkins in my potato salad, or bread and butter pickles completely on their own. So when I discovered Gordy’s Pickle Jar, offering handcrafted pickles and preserves, my mouth began to water.

What started as a celebration of a garden harvest has led partners in business and life, Sarah Gordon and Sheila Fain, to perfect the craft of pickling while staying true to themselves and satisfying their tang tooth. But Gordy’s doesn’t end with the mighty cucumber: Their exciting line of small-batch pickled products includes okra, peppers, chilies, and more. More than just a one-skew product, their business has become a lifestyle. Gordy’s reflects and accommodates how Sheila and Sarah live, from experimenting with a new recipe on their blog (which takes you on a culinary journey from a smooth Thai Basil jalapeño butter to the best Bloody Mary you’ll ever have using pickle brine), to sharing in and supporting their local DC food community and participating in myriad events. Today, Sarah is opening up about their business, the importance of asking for help, their willingness to make sacrifices, and setting goals that seem impossible to achieve. —Sabrina

Photography by Morgan H. West

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Berlin, Germany City Guide

Berlin, Germany City Guide

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As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, traveling kind of stresses me out. It isn’t necessarily the travel itself I find overwhelming, but the planning and inevitable feeling that I have to “fit” everything in. As a homebody, I’m quite content staying at home and I find a sunny, warm day spent gardening — followed by a wonderful meal — quite relaxing on its own. But after reading through Ilenia’s guide to Berlin and gawking at her photos, I found myself at ease, checking my passport and daydreaming of a trip there.

Ilenia Martini was born and raised just outside of Rome, Italy. Growing up, her passion for photography was encouraged by her parents, and, after studying in London at Middlesex University, she moved to New York to further her career. But it wasn’t long before her European roots began to pull her back overseas. Just over a year ago, she made the leap again and now finds herself in beautiful Berlin where she works as an Art Director for Hem. Her guide is short, sweet and simple, and focuses on just enjoying, which is right up my alley. –Sabrina

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Two High School Sweethearts’ Sunshiny Studio

Two High School Sweethearts' Sunshiny Studio, Design*Sponge

Two High School Sweethearts’ Sunshiny Studio

Micro-living has definitely seen an uptick in the last few years. There are even debates over what actually qualifies as “micro” as people become more and more adept at thriving in an ever-decreasing sliver of a home. This concept goes against what the generations before mine were taught: that size matters and happiness is measured in square feet. When I moved to Chicago, I shared a studio space that was less than ideal, but not once did I doubt that I had made the right decision. My little piece of the sky did indeed have some advantages. I could cook and do laundry at the same time all while laying in bed. That’s a win for a bachelor. Soaking up the city was what I came for, not to sit in a box and stare at my four walls. So why care about how big or small it was? All I really needed was a bed and I was set. Having done it myself, I am always intrigued by how others problem-solve and decorate their own pint-sized homes.

Meg and Brad, two creatives behind Ghostly Ferns, share this 700-square-foot studio in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. After meeting in high school marching band, the couple struck out on a journey that had them living all over the United States before work finally brought them to New York. “It’s incredibly difficult to find loft buildings in South Brooklyn,” the couple says about their home search. Their eclectic style meant that no matter what the bones of their new apartment were, their home would be far from cookie-cutter. The two truly did luck out, however, when they came across this 1930s factory building with its plentiful light and bright walls.

The potential was absolutely there, but as with any home, Meg and Brad have come across challenges when it comes to fitting two people in one space. “With any studio apartment comes the issue of dividing the space properly. We still have huge sound issues. It would be great if one of us could comfortably watch TV while the other is sleeping,” Meg explains. That being said, the two still knew that this home was a no-brainer with its inviting vibe and airiness. Unique details like three skylights, a kitchen in an old elevator shaft, and the sweethearts’ styling have all helped to make what could have been a tight squeeze an inviting home base. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Meg Lewis

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The Home Where Snow White Grew Up

The Home Where Snow White Grew Up, Design*Sponge

The Home Where Snow White Grew Up

The second I heard that Angela and Johnny lived in the former home of Adriana Caselotti — the voice of Disney’s Snow White — I couldn’t wait to take a peek inside. Not only did the styling not disappoint, but the home’s story is one I can’t get out of my head.

Adriana was living in the home with her music-teacher father when Walt Disney himself called to ask her father if he knew any students who would be perfect for the role in his upcoming picture. As she secretly listened in on the conversation, Adriana immediately knew she wanted to play the part. The second she got her father’s permission to audition, Adriana endlessly practiced her lines in the bathroom mirror before what would become her career-defining audition. That very mirror still remains in the home’s full bath to this day.

If that story isn’t charming enough, the way Angela and Johnny came to find their home sounds like something out of a movie itself. They were not too keen on living in Hollywood when it came time to move last June, but an unusual listing caught their attention. “(It) had only a few photos and was kind of cryptic and mysterious, but it mentioned that the house was the former home of the voice of Snow White, and we recognized the tower from the film The Long Goodbye in one of the photos. (A few days later on a bulletin board) we found a handwritten listing on an index card, ‘PHONE CALLS ONLY,’ and it was so old-timey and charming we decided to go for it. The neighborhood and house turned out to be totally gorgeous and magical,” Angela says.

The couple are extremely grateful for the home’s setting. Its position situated on a hillside walk-street — that doesn’t allow car access — serves to create the serene oasis from the hustle of Hollywood that the two were yearning for. “We park our car in a garage at the base of the hill, take the elevator up, and then walk another three minutes to get to the house,” Johnny and Angela explain. It was absolutely a lifestyle adjustment, but one that they wouldn’t change for anything. Bursting with light, a wonderful history, and views that stretch to the ocean and back, today’s sneak peek is one I won’t soon forget. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Angela Stasio

 

 

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A Valentino Collaborator’s Australian Pad

A Valentino Collaborator's Australian Pad, Design*Sponge

A Valentino Collaborator’s Australian Pad

To attend a fashion show with its pomp, glitz and laissez-faire formality is exciting in and of itself. To watch an entire collection hit the runway that’s inspired by your work, however, is a rush I won’t even attempt to describe. I first came across Esther Stewart when the 26-year-old’s bold, geometric designs graced the Parisian runway on nearly every look from Valentino’s Autumn 2015-2016 Menswear collection. Her unique mixture of color immediately drew me to her work, and I quickly became what my 17-year-old brother would call “a fanboy.” Naturally, I was ecstatic when Esther agreed to give us a peek inside the Australian home and studio she shares with her partner Oscar Perry.

The couple met in Melbourne, but after studying and living in the city for eight years, they were ready to move to a more comfortable space that would allow for more flexibility with their craft. The decision was made: a small parcel of land in Daylesford, where Esther grew up, would serve as the artists’ studio while home base would remain in Melbourne. That didn’t last long, as the builders and Esther quickly realized the untapped potential of a hay barn nearby. Six months later, Esther and Oscar had turned the barn into a new home to match their new studio space. Esther’s high school art teacher and builder was a welcome help, allowing exactly zero setbacks along the road to renovation. From installing customized built-in cabinetry to incorporating secondhand finds, the team dynamic could not have been more pleasant. “In fact, I enjoyed it so much I am already planning what my next project could be,” Esther raves. “Our plan was to have a large, functioning studio with a small, compact house that had plenty of storage and natural light. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.” With 10 acres of inspiration, a swimming dam nearby, and what’s soon to be a flourishing garden, I believe that from such a beautiful space only beautiful art can arise. I certainly cannot wait to see what’s next. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Lauren Bamford

 

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Tips & Tricks for Creating a Customer-Catching Storefront Display

Tips & Tricks for Creating a Customer-Catching Storefront Display

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They say not to judge a book by its cover, but who are we kidding? It’s undeniable that the cover of a book affects your decision to either read on or put it back on the shelf. In today’s visual culture, this can be even more true for anyone who runs any kind of business, whether online or brick-and-mortar.

With so many visuals coming at us from our computers, phones and various feeds — let alone the world outside our doors — it seems we’re almost expected to have a cool logo and visually-rich branded content in order to even be noticed. And regardless of whether you want to succumb to this fact or not, as exhausting as it can be, it’s hard to deny that a first impression can have a huge impact and influence on your business; which, much like a book cover, can determine the number of customers who open the door.

When used right, your storefront display/window can be one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal to make you stand out from the competition. But if this thought already gives you hives and you’re left thinking “I am sooooo not creative,” don’t fret! We recently teamed up with the fantastic U.S. Small Merchants group at American Express to lend a design hand with their storefront decals, so look for our “Love My Store” series created by Design*Sponge to proudly display on your shop door or window (see them after the jump!). The Amex team developed the the supportive and successful Shop Small® and Small Business Saturday campaigns, and tirelessly work to add tips, tools and resources to their small business website, The Knowledge Center. We were thrilled to have a larger venue to share our Life & Business columns with the masses!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips, tricks and advice on crafting a storefront display that serves your business — whether you sell coffee, antiques or apparel, both online or in a physical location. Today I’m sharing plenty of tips for creating an awesome, customer-catching storefront display for brick-and-mortar merchants! —Sabrina

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New Wallpapers from Juju Papers

New Wallpapers from Juju Papers

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For me, last year’s ICFF was all about wallpaper. Glorious, glorious wallpaper. There were rows upon rows (and rolls upon rolls) on display that celebrated all sorts of styles and trends, from florals and geometric prints to shiny mylar patterns and traditional toile. One of my favorites every year, Juju Papers, offered to give us a sneak peek at their collection before it hits the show floor this year (Booth #831). Designer Avery Thatcher will be debuting two new beautiful patterns, Big Moon (inspired by New York’s underground art and music scene from the 80s) and Pas de Trois (an artistic interplay in three basic painted gestures). Each one is available in Gold on Cream, Silver on Cream and Gold on Charcoal and is a bright, bold way to decorate your walls or totally transform a room. In addition to these beautiful styles, Juju will also be offering old favorites in new colorways. So if you’re planning to visit the show, be sure to check them out in person. You can also check out (and shop) the new papers online right here. I can’t wait to see Big Moon in person — that bold pattern in the charcoal/gold combo is stunning. Until Monday, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace

Photos by Mikola Accuardi

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Tara O’Brady’s Esquites and Gazpacho

Tara O’Brady’s Esquites and Gazpacho

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Tara O’Brady is not a newcomer to the In the Kitchen With column. We featured her pakoras and green chutney a few years ago, which were a great hit with our readers. I am just as excited today as I was then to have her on the column, this time with a recipe for Esquites and Yellow Tomato Gazpacho from her new cookbook, Seven Spoons. As the recipe and images attest, Tara’s book is a print extension of the lovely cosmopolitan recipes from her blog of the same name. We have a very small window here in Rome to buy fresh corn on the cob (and at exorbitant prices!) and when that window opens, this soup will be on my menu! (For best flavor, start this recipe one day before.) —Kristina

Why Tara loves this recipe: This recipe is a favorite way to showcase corn at its peak. It turns the flavors of Mexican street corn into a soup that’s vividly bright and refreshing, yet lush. The corn, tomatoes, peppers, and onion create a layered sweetness, and then there is the vinegar that dives straight through it all. The whole of the production is low effort and unfussy, yet striking, and just what I want on a hot summer evening.

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Tattoorary Delft Blue + Floral Temporary Tattoos

Tattoorary Delft Blue + Floral Temporary Tattoos

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I’ve found that tattoos are one of the more divisive personal design elements I’ve come across. I personally love them (a good chunk of our team has them, too) and I am always planning my next, but I understand that they’re not for everyone. I think one reason (though certainly not the only one) that people shy away from tattoos is the whole “forever” factor. But with the rise in beautiful temporary tattoos from companies like Tattly, I think people are becoming more open minded about tattoos in general — or are at least experimenting with them. One of my favorite trends in temporary tattoos is the move toward historic or more classical imagery. I love an antique botanical, so these new styles from Tattoorary on Etsy are right up my alley (Thanks to Tattoorary for sharing them in #DSBlues!). They turn traditional floral and Delft Blue imagery into stunning temporary tattoos that you can apply for a fun night out or use to impress your fellow decorative arts majors while you study history in class. Whether you’re trying to test out for future permanent tattoos or just want to have some fun, click here to check them out online. xo, grace

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Pattern Download from Kelsey Oseid: Day 5!

Pattern Download from Kelsey Oseid: Day 5!

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It’s been such a pleasure having Kelsey Oseid join us all week with beautiful patterns. I’ve become such a fan of hers on Instagram and it’s been a blast to see her style come to life in the form of patterns we can all download and use for our phones and computers. Today she’s back with one last pattern, a pattern-on-pattern scalloped print. Just follow the link below to download and click here and here to check out more of Kelsey’s work online. xo, grace

Download today’s final pattern RIGHT HERE.

Before & After: Jenny’s Kitchen Makeover

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Before & After: Jenny’s Kitchen Makeover

Unless you’re a millionaire, buying a home usually means compromising in one area to get something you want in another. When Jenny Haas and her husband Will were looking for homes, Will fell in love with a home that needed some major work, but had a lot of character. Jenny said she was willing to go for it (tackling renovations while pregnant is no joke) as long as he was willing to start on the kitchen first. So after they moved in, Will worked on creating the family’s dream kitchen. After a few months (and many microwaved breakfasts of pop tarts and oatmeal), Jenny and Will now have their dream kitchen and a brighter, more open space where they can cook and entertain. Their open shelves are the sort of airy, organizational style I love, so this one is going in my favorites for sure. Click through to see the full transformation! xo, grace

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Brimming with Art, a Bright and Tiny Walk-up in Soho

Brimming with Art, a Bright and Tiny Walk-up in Soho

Brimming with Art, a Bright and Tiny Walk-up in Soho

Ash Leech is an Art Director by day, creative freelancer by night and avid taco-fan and wearer of black all of the time. Though her affinity for New York grows daily, her passion for travel and photography rears its head on her blog, Someform. Karan Singh (aka Wake Up Mr Singh) is an illustrator and master of the bold, vibrant, and mind-bendingly playful.

Both hailing from Australia, Ash and Karan first met while studying in Malmö, Sweden. Following that, they moved to Melbourne, Australia before making the jump to the Big Apple just three years ago, armed with only one suitcase each and an armchair they found on the street outside of their building.”It’s a challenge moving internationally,” says Ash, “as you never know how long you’re going to be based somewhere and how much you should invest in making it home.” Because of this, affordability and sticking to only the basics was key when it came to decorating and designing their apartment. This meant many trips to IKEA and opting for aesthetic changes to the space (new lighting, flooring and painting the walls) rather than filling it with furniture.

Always riffing off each other with new creative ideas, it’s no surprise that Ash and Karan were able to transform their 400-square-foot, nondescript walk-up apartment into a space that feels large and in charge, boasting plenty of personality and overflowing with art from every direction. But, like most beautiful spaces, it wasn’t easy to get to this point; the long and narrow layout, angular walls and renovation restrictions they have as tenants proved to be a challenge, just as much as trying to get furniture into the building — let alone through their apartment door! Though they know it’s just temporary, and though it’s across the globe from their real home, there’s no place they’d rather be than in their bright and sunny apartment — that is, when they’re not feeding their travel addiction! –Sabrina

Photography by Ash Leech

 

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Home Ec: 12 Handmade Gifts for Mother’s Day

Handmade Gifts for Mother's Day, Design*Sponge

Home Ec: 12 Handmade Gifts for Mother’s Day

For the first time in what must be at least 12 years, I get to celebrate Mother’s Day in-person with my Mom this year. I’ve been living in New York for so long now that my trips to Virginia tend to happen around winter and summer holidays, so I haven’t been able to celebrate in person with either of my parents as often as I’d like. But this weekend my parents are bringing their new rescue dog (Finn!) to visit for a whole week and we’ll get to celebrate Mother’s Day as one big family.

If you’ve turned on the TV, opened your computer or flipped through a magazine lately, the pressure to buy something “fancy” for Mom can feel overwhelming. But with budgets tighter than ever and the desire for things that are more meaningful at an all-time high, I thought I’d dedicate today’s Home Ec post to handmade gifts you can make for your mother to show her how much you care. From flower arrangements and home-spa goods to full kits, these ideas are all about putting more thought and love into your gifts — and not more money on your credit card. xo, grace

*For more Mother’s Day love, check out the heartfelt submissions from the DS community for our Mother’s Day hashtag challenge and these ideas for “experience” gifts that skip the store and start at home.

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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Free Pattern Download from Kelsey Oseid: Day 4!

Free Pattern Download from Kelsey Oseid: Day 4!

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I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with deer after moving upstate. I will never tire of seeing our local deer families make their twice-daily commute behind our house, but I am tired of (but get used to) the constant checking we have to do on the pets and ourselves because of the the ticks they bring. So while I think they’re the most beautiful creatures around, I like to keep a safe distance. Thankfully, one of Kelsey Oseid’s patterns for this week is dedicated to a form of deer I can feel 100% safe with: a 2-D print form. I love these little hand-drawn deer so much and hope all of you will, too. Click below to download today’s pattern! xo, grace

Download Day 4 of Kelsey’s Patterns (Fawns) right here!