This blog started as a documentation of our historical home remodel. We’ve been here for over four years now and the cracks in the wall, the never-hung basement door, and the window treatments (or lack thereof) have fallen to the back-burner of my list of priorities. In fact, these things have straight up fallen behind the entire stove along with breadcrumbs and fur balls. I’ve been more concerned with growing my career, traveling, eating really great food, climbing walls, stretching my limbs and consuming experiences rather than things.
But lately, I’ve been feeling the need to nest – to revisit my home. Perhaps it’s the Fall nostalgia creeping in, or perhaps it’s my Taurus nature taking over – but the desire to create a sacred space to hunker down in through the winter is taking hold in my mind. I want our house to be a comfy haven where we feel safe to create. I want the air to be flooded with music, conversation and smells of curry, spice, and peppermint. I also want to purge my space of anything that is no longer useful or beautiful – with that I’ve gotten rid of 80% of my clothes. The clothes I used to work as an ad agency art director in. The clothes I used to go to awards ceremonies in and even the clothes I got married in. My closet is now limited to a wardrobe of black, grey and white with a couple splashes of pink and a little bit of denim.
That said, here are a few things in our home that I’ve been enjoying lately:
The whole point of our Europe adventure was to go on another trek. Part of why we chose Poland and the High Tatras / Carpathian Mountains is because it was one of the only treks in Europe that was all by foot, without a lot of vehicle transfers. Day 11 was exciting because it marked the first official day of our guided trek.
Jeremy and I hit up the vegetarian restaurant around the corner from our hotel, for a breakfast of eggs, garlic toast and coffee before meeting up with our guide and the rest of our group at the old train station. From there we all went to lunch together as a group. We got to know each other a bit over beet soup, pierogies and apple pie. Of course, the Brits were super proper and polite. They all ate with a fork in their left hand and knife in the right. At that moment I resolved to learn to eat with a fork and knife. Jeremy must have made the same resolution because without discussion he immediately began practicing his cutlery skills as well.
From there we headed to Zakopane – a ski town that bordered the mountains we’d be trekking. We checked into our hotel which was a total blast from the past – with real keys and lots of laminate surfaces. I will never forget this hotel – it’s pretty much my favorite ever. And the town reminded me lots of when we landed in Lukla, Nepal. It was full of energy and seemed super clean and quaint compared to the big European cities we had visited prior.
We took a tour of the small resort town and had dinner with our trek mates. We tucked in early and organized our backpacks for the actual trek beginning the next morning – leaving our city clothes behind and unpacking our trekking gear. I should note here that when you’re backpacking the thing you need is ALWAYS at the bottom of your pack – no matter how strategically you load and unload each day. It’s really easy to make a mess of your surroundings no matter how organized you try to be.
I can’t wait to share the trekking experience with you all. It was not quite what I expected it to be. At all.
On Wednesday afternoon my sister, Tara, and I sat on a patio for over 2 hours – drinking iced green tea and chatting about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We opened our hearts up big and grew up a lot. It wasn’t lost on us that we have the freedom to take the time we need to share our dreams and fears and insecurities over iced tea in the middle of a Wednesday. That we have the freedom to redefine a hard day’s work – and that day we couldn’t have spent it any better than with each other on that sunny patio.
Braid Creative has been alive and thriving for a year now, but I’ve been working for myself for two. In the year that I was alone I was really open with monthly updates about what it was like to be a freelance graphic designer – what it was like to transition from the perceived security of working for someone else to the uncertainty of going it alone. I shared my secrets, hopes, dreams and fears with you all.
Tara pointed out that I haven’t been sharing the story of what it’s like to work for Braid here on J&K. I think it’s because I haven’t felt like it’s just my story. It’s Tara’s story too and she’s a much better storyteller than I am. She has this genius ability to set it up, create arcs and pay it off without veering off track or forgetting her point. On that Wednesday afternoon Tara gave me the permission I needed to tell our story – the story of what it’s like to work at Braid. Together. As sisters.
If Jeremy is my other half in this love story that is J&K, then Tara is my other half, not only in business, but in life – it’s a story we’ve been creating together as sisters for over 30 years and probably over several past lifetimes. Tara is the methodical vision to my crazy creative. She’s the practical execution to my big vision. Tara thinks in layers that aren’t constrained by time and space and then tidies them up into organized action and gorgeous words.
Just like I used to share the story of what it was like to go from nine-to-five to freelance, I’m going to begin sharing the story of what it’s like to own a creative company with my sister – but know that it goes much deeper than business.
The story of Emily’s rebrand starts many years ago when we were just two gals reading each others blogs about life. When we met at Alt Summit we became real life friends and eventually moved on to become partners in business. “Indie Shopography” may sound familiar because it’s the name of the workshop we tried to launch together to help creative entrepreneurs get branded and get online. The workshop never happened but we learned so much from it that it was anything but a failure.
Emily then hired Braid to help her rebrand – which means we developed a logo (by hand – inspired by her tattoo on the left), positioning statement, brand story, and stationery for her. But beyond that we helped her shape up her content and set a focused vision for her business moving forward.
You see, Emily was all over the place – she had gone from being a jewelry designer under the name Emmarie to a web developer turned teacher and guide with launching her ECourses and workshops. She had two websites and a personal blog and didn’t know how to make sense of all her ideas and direction anymore. Emily went from jewelry designer turned web developer to an expert and a guide. By owning her position as someone who helps get creatives (and their goods) online she reigned in the confusion and started getting hired by her dream clients to do what she loves.
Here are some ways Emily shaped up her business, brand and content: 1. A Name Change:Indie Shopography was originally just the name of Emily’s workshop but we felt it better described what she really wanted to do with her business. We don’t always recommend changing your name especially if you have lots of brand equity in the name you’ve got. But we do recommend not having multiple businesses & blogs under different names & brands. This causes confusion, can water down your offerings and dilute your brand. 2. Blending the Personal with the Professional: Emily wanted to ditch her personal blog altogether but has now struck the balance between mixing the more personal content in with the professional advice and tips she offers as a resource to creatives. 3. Positioning Herself as an Expert: Lots of people we work with are shy to admit that they’re pretty badass at one thing (or hesitant to pick one because they’re kind of badass at a lot of things). But when it comes to getting hired to do what you’re best at you have to concisely tell people what you’re best at and for who. 4. Keeping it Consistent: Emily has not only implemented her new brand identity on her website and stationery but has also been consistent with her messaging and positioning. From her “About Me” to her sidebar touts to her social media platforms everything says the same thing about who she is and what she does.
We then turned around and hired Emily to help us develop our own ECourse. Not only has she been a total expert when it comes to the actual site development, she has also been a true guide when it comes to helping us implement and launch our ideas into something that makes sense.
If you’re interested in shaping up your content but can’t hire Braid for a one-on-one engagement consider taking our ECourse: Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How To Buy You.The course will be in-session from Monday September 24 – 30th. You have until this Sunday, Sept. 23rd to enroll. Use the code BRAIDFRIENDSEPT2012 to get the discounted tuition of $50.
Let’s see… where did I leave off? Oh yes. The overnight train to Krakow. I slept solid up until 6AM when the ticket collector abruptly woke me from my slumber yelling “Krak-koov!” Jeremy did not have quite the same experience on the overnight train. Here’s what he had to say about it, as excerpted from the comments on my last post:
I just want to add my experience with the night train, starting with the energy: whereas the day trains all felt like typical travel, the night train was full of early-20’s, English-speaking backpackers. It was almost like a slumber party, and it made me decide I might be too old for night trains.
Unlike Kathleen, I got a HORRIBLE night’s sleep on the train, and not because of the backpackers. As soon as she laid down in her bunk she was OUT for the whole trip. I, on the other hand, stayed up to read, and listen to music, and didn’t even begin to fall asleep for another couple of hours. And then sleep came and went, mostly because the night trains stop and break apart (different cars have different destinations) and connect with other trains with several loud BANGs and jolts. Also, all the stories of night train burglaries kept me reluctantly, unwittingly vigilant.
So we rolled into the Krakow station set just outside the Old Town. It was too early to check in to our budget hotel so we dropped off our backpacks and headed into the quiet city center. I felt somewhat in a surreal daze. It was early and I was in another country – but glad to be able to use the limited Polish greetings I knew. We hung out in a coffee shop with free Wifi for a few hours and in a daze became lost in the internet. Around noon we meandered back to our hotel and I couldn’t decide if I was more hungry or sleepy. Hunger eventually turned to irritability as it’s wont to do. And just when I was about to have a total melt down we stumbled upon a vegetarian restaurant across from what I now know is the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. I was so happy I could die.
We ordered food – lentil patties and carrot salad – and a couple beers. We watched Polish students enjoy their lunch over text books and notepads. It was amazing. From there we headed back to our hotel and took a glorious 4 hour nap. That was amazing too.
From there we stumbled back into the Old Town city center and found ourselves on a patio – huddled under fleece blankets and splitting a bottle of wine – watching horse carriages and tourists with umbrellas walking by. We were excited to head out the next day to meet up with our group to trek the High Tatras.