With a four year old and a four month old, I’m always on the lookout for unique kids toys. My son has lots of cars, trucks, superheroes and the like, but sometimes it’s just nice to get back to basics. So when Uncommon Goods asked us to try out a few of their toys from their kids gift collection I knew Evan would be more than happy to give them a test run.
Stack & Scare Block Set
I think I loved this even more than Evan did. He loved making monsters and robots, I loved the bold colors and modern, graphic style. Bonus? Made in the USA and with non-toxic inks.
Pallina Dropping Ball Game
I’ll admit, this one was a little hard for my son to grasp the concept of. The object of the game is to remove your color sticks from the basket without letting any of your color balls fall. The winner of the game is the player who has the most balls in the basket by the end. Evan was just excited to pull the sticks out and drop balls (either mine or his). There was a lot of “haha I wins!” going on.
Extreme Stunt Wall Coaster
We are in the process of setting this one up in our playspace downstairs. First, can I just say how exciting it is to say “playspace downstairs”??? After years in a tiny apartment it’s exciting to actually have room. But I digress, I’m pretty certain Evan will be down right giddy once this toy gets installed. I like that it was developed by a “12 year old marble run guru”. In the meantime, here’s the wall coaster in action!
This post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods. All opinions, photography and styling are my own.
Design is something that we talk about a lot on Spitfiregirl, and we love doing so. However, there seems to be something that can so easily be overlooked and almost forgot about – the importance of effective copy. Now before I dive into this post, let me just tell you about what copy is. Copy is the wording throughout your business, your profile, your website, etc. It’s the (hopefully) well thought out words, sentences and paragraphs, and it is one of the most important aspects when it comes to selling yourself as a professional.
So, as a copywriter myself, I feel an obligation to give you a little disclaimer:
If you do not feel that producing strong and effective copy is something that you can do on your own, reach out to a copywriter who will help you out. It may very well be some of the best money you ever spend on your business (no matter how large or how small). And I can promise you that effective copy is something that you, a business owner, need.
However, for those who feel like with a little guidance they could rock their copywriting, then get ready to get your hands dirty. Today we’re chatting how you can achieve the effective copy that your business needs.
1. KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO
What good is it coming up with all this copy if it’s not going to reach your “target audience”? Before you start writing, get into the mind of whoever it is you want reading your copy. Speaking like a middle-aged male lawyer will do you absolutely no good when you’re trying to capture the hearts of your fellow ladies between the ages of 18 and 30. My biggest trick with this one is to get as specific as possible with who it is you want to be targeting and really just focus on that specific individual.
2. KEEP THE TONE IN SYNC WITH THE DESIGN
Copy and design go together like milk and cookies; like chocolate and peanut butter; like Bonnie and Clyde. Together, effective copy and well thought out design can make the deadliest combination (in the best way possible). If your design is fresh, fun and airy, try and make your copy similar to the feel of that design. Effective copy and beautiful design really are the face of your business, so make sure they make the impact that you’re looking for.
3. KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
This is a lot harder than it may seem. I am so very much guilty of just running wild with my thoughts, and throwing them all onto a page and calling it copy. I can promise you this, no matter how lovely your copy is, nobody wants to read pages and pages of it. If your audience wanted to read a book, they’d pick up a book. You, however, have a job to do. You need to get your message across in a short, sweet and concise manner. Target in on the most important message, and really make a powerful statement with your copy.
4. ASK YOURSELF “SO WHAT?”
If at the end of your copy, your audience is still saying “So what?”, I can guarantee you that you have some loose ends. When someone finishes reading something, they should feel enlightened and intrigued. They should definitely not be walking away (or clicking away) asking “So what?”. So to avoid having your readers asking themselves this, make sure you keep writing, editing and rewriting until you’re sure that people will be left saying “Wow, that’s amazing. Let’s find out more.”
5. HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR READER
This kind of ties in with tip number one, but this is probably the most important tip out of them all. Having conversations is what humans do. It’s how we interact, it’s how we communicate and it’s how we learn. When you’re writing, write as if you’re having a conversation with your ideal reader / potential client. Sure, you could bust out the thesaurus and make all the wording sound shwanky, but I can promise you that you will loose the interest of those reading very quickly. Simply put: Keep it interesting, keep it relevant, and keep it easy to ready.
These are only five of many tips for achieving effective copy, and I’d love to hear any of yours, if you have some copywriting tricks up your sleeves. Also, I’d love to know, what are some of your biggest struggles with creating copy? You never know, I may be able to help a sister (or a brother) out. I mean, it is in my job title after all.
Spring has sprung, and I am loving watching the new season grow with each passing day. But what I’m loving even more is all of the pretty things that are filling the windows of shops (or, you know, the windows of my internet tabs). The colours and styles of spring are so happy, so light, so fresh, and so lust-worthy. However, the last thing you want to do is break the bank by splurging on all things new & spring-esque. But what if I told you that you can treat yourself to some spring goodies without splurging? Well, it’s true.
Here are some things that I’ve been loving this spring. Some are old favourites, some are new finds, but all are – get this – under $10!
1. Digital Copy of Darling Magazine 2. Sephora nail polish 3. Body Shop Body Butter 4. Trinket bowl 5. Lush bath bomb 6. Tote 7. Etsy print 8. David’s Tea loose leaf tea 9. Lush face mask 10. Steller app
New finds, new products, and new favourites are a great way to welcome spring, so I hope you’re able to find some new goodies amongst the collection above. Remember, 10 items under 10 dollars!
What are you loving this spring? I really would love to know!
Creative Crush is back, and this week I have one of the most talented gals on the web (oh yea, she’s that good). This week, I’d like to introduce you to Geri Coady.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Geri and I’m an illustrator and designer from Newfoundland, Canada — soon to be moving to Nottingham, England!
Tell us a little bit about what your job title means.
I’d say I’m an “Illustrator” about 60% of the time, these days. Although a lot of my work does have a watercolour-feel to it, everything I do is digital. I haven’t touched real paint in years! I tend to work with companies who need illustrations for apps and websites, but I’ve got a big print project coming up, which I’m incredibly excited about.
The remaining 40% “Designer” part of my title actually breaks down into a few different areas. I mainly focus on web design these days, but my formal education lies in print design and offset printing. Since leaving my office job a year ago, I don’t do much print anymore, and I’ve pretty much abolished the word “advertising” from my services. I’m getting better at focusing my talent instead of trying to do it all!
What does an average day look like for you?
I’m convinced that “average day” is not a term that applies to a freelancer— especially not me! I get most of my work done in the evenings, which is totally fine by me. One of the things I didn’t like about having a day job was being stuck inside an office during daylight hours — and Canadian winters often mean going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark! I like having my daytime hours a little more free to run errands, have coffee with friends, schedule calls, work out, and just generally prep myself for a relaxed evening with work and good music. My routine’s a little different when I live in Nottingham. My fiancé, Simon, is a designer too, so we tend to both get our work done in the day and leave our evenings free, like “normal” people!
What is the best part about being a freelancer? What is the hardest?
Easy—I can work from anywhere. There’s only so much travel time you can fit into a job that gives two weeks of vacation per year!As for the hardest? Well… I just did my taxes for the first time as a freelancer. Enough said.
What is it about design that has made you want to make a living out of it?
For one, I can’t imagine doing anything else. If I did, it’d have to be creative, too… maybe a hairstylist (I’m not weird enough) or a baker (I’d just eat everything). But seriously, I love the fact that design means I get to solve problems for people without the use of math. That’s the best!
What have been some of your most memorable projects?
I got to illustrate a book for pre-teen girls for Scholastic a couple of years ago, which was fantastic. Last year, I wrote my first design-related book, a Pocket Guide to Colour Accessibility, published by Five Simple Steps. Also, over the past year, I’ve been working with a Paris-based company called Withings. They manufacture health and fitness products like wireless digital scales, fitness activity trackers, and blood pressure monitors. I’ve been illustrating achievement badges for their HealthMate activity app — there’s 50 completed to date with even more to come!
Are you currently working on anything super cool that you’re allowed to tell us about?
It hasn’t been officially announced, but… I’m currently working on a couple of classes for Skillshare. I’ll be teaching colour workflow for web designers as a two part course — part one will be teaching how to choose an appropriate colour palette, and part two will be implementing the palette into a website. I’ll be sure to tweet about it when it launches, and will likely drop some referral codes, too! I’m also in the early stages of writing and illustrating a new book. It isn’t confirmed, yet, but I’m bursting with excitement about the idea!
Where do you get your inspiration from / how do you stay inspired & fresh?
Although I’ve cut back this year, I do attend a lot of conferences, which is always great for inspiration. As much as I love work, though, it’s definitely important to get away from it all when you feel like nothing’s turning out the way you want it to. I’m getting better at going on trips and just leaving the laptop behind.
If you could design for anyone, who would it be?
Sanrio, Nintendo… just let me draw cute stuff forever and I’ll be happy. Actually, I’d say Studio Ghibli, but I’d be so nervous I’d probably be unable to hold my pencil.
Who do you look up to in your field?
I’m very lucky to say that so many of my friends are incredibly talented people, it’d be impossible and unfair to pick just a few!
I’m obsessed with lettering, which isn’t something I really do myself, although I do doodle from time to time. I adore the work from Jessica Hische, Dana Tanamachi, and Jen Mussari. Those ladies are incredible.
You do a lot of public speaking (which I think is THE coolest), and with a lot of very influential people in your crowds. How is it that you manage to stay calm, cool and collected?
I do a very good job at not thinking about it! You just have to get up there and do it. The most nerve-wracking part of any talk for me is having to sit through the talks beforehand. It’s hard not to compare yourself with other speakers or worry about having similar content, and I don’t know a single speaker who isn’t guilty of tweaking slides at the last minute!
I always rehearse my talk once or twice the night before to make sure my timing is right, and if time allows, once in the morning on the day of the talk. It’s always better to be a little under your time allowance than keep the whole room waiting for lunch break. Being prepared takes a lot of the stress away.
You also do a lot of traveling and working abroad. Where are you off to next?
Next week I’m off to England again for another month. With each trip, I take more and more of my belongings over — it’s like a gradual move. After that, I’m heading to Montreal for a week, which, believe it or not, will make Québec the final province to tick off on my Canadian travel list (minus the territories)!
When you’re not buried in work, what do you like do?
I love riding my Vespa, whenever the Newfoundland weather allows me to. I love photography, record shopping, drinking and making good coffee, and I love trip planning nearly as much as I like the trips themselves! Let’s just say I’ve already got my dream trip to Japan planned in Evernote (and I hope to make it a reality in 2015!)
Quick, answer these questions:
Favourite Adobe program?
Flash. (Just kidding! If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably know it’s Illustrator!)
Ooh, tough one. I’ll just say Instagram and go with it.
Favourite band at the moment?
Another tough question. At the moment, I really love Beck’s new album, but The Cure are my long-time favourite band.
Lost in Translation and Spirited Away. Don’t make me pick.
Paul Smith’s flagship store, Willoughby House in Nottingham. I want to live there, or at least turn it into my own personal three-storey closet.
Favourite month of the year and why?
Probably September — it’s one of the most perfect months to travel anywhere without being too hot or too cold!
One of the things I love about being a designer is being able to put my own personal spin on things like my children’s birth announcements and birthday invitations. I remember when I had my first child, Evan… creating his nursery design was possibly more labor intensive (har, har) then designing my own wedding. My attention to detail – aka control freak-ness – demanded that I had a hand.in.everything. Well, that all changed once I actually HAD my children. The reality is, if I’m actually to design my children’s birth announcements, they’ll probably be 18 by the time they are sent.
Enter Minted. Minted is the world’s premier marketplace for independent design. They source exceptional artists and designers all over the world and bring their work to consumers who appreciate great design (Um, hello…that’d be me.) So when it came time to create a birth announcement for my daughter Noe, I knew just where to turn. After looking over several designs, we settled on their modern & whimsical birth announcement – Fancy Floral Frame design, by Minted designer Phrosne Ras. The aesthetic felt the most like something I would create (if I had the extra time to do so!). It was delicate without being cloyingly twee. Paired with their sweet, slender address labels (and free address printing) it’s made the whole process…well, less of one!
I loved the delicate little details, perfect for my little peanut!
So if you’re a busy, creative mom like me who WANTS to design your child’s birth announcements (but doesn’t have time) then check out minted!
ps: if you’re looking for pretty art, a fellow Team Spitfiregirl member, Kathryn has a design for sale on the site now.
Minted provided a gift code in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions and styling are my own. If I didn’t genuinely like their products, you wouldn’t be seeing it on the blog!
I discovered the adorably cool clothes of our next SpitfireMom during my obsessive reading of a blog. That blogger regularly shared her obsession with Little Hip Squeaks. As I tend to do, I immediately went to the site’s about to see if a cool mom was behind it and LO! I learned about Amy Richardson, CEO slash Director slash Designer slash Bill-Payer at Little Hip Squeaks AND cool mom. I reached out to this natural SpitfireMom.
Amy shared that LHS is a small operation of her plus five part-time employees, so that means she wears a lot of hats (I’m sure they are cute hats). Her husband was able to start working from home when her son was born (he’s a writer) and, so, the two can be very flexible with schedules. A nanny helps with their 2.5 year old son with about 20 hours a week, and Amy takes off Fridays to spend with him solo. On work days, her husband puts him down for a late nap, and Amy gets home just about the time he’s waking up.
Amy shared that her business was completely inspired by her son, and he continues to be a driving force in the success. She never expected this to be a full time gig, and in fact, when she quit her busy job at a fashion magazine to do LHS full time, they prepared the nanny to have her hours cut since Amy would be working significantly less (spoiler alert, her hours increased).
Here’s what Amy had to say about being a SpitfireMom.
How does being a mom influence your work?
Being a mom and being a business owner is tough. There’s really no perfect balance, and it’s impossible to shake the feeling of guilt when I spend an extra hour at the office, or I leave for a week to travel for business. I try to remember that the money I earn makes it more possible for me to make special experiences for him—I try to make sure our Friday mom-son dates are indulgent, whether its at a $30 tots music class, or sharing a cupcake for lunch. I am definitely chronically late—but rather than coming late into work, I’m always texting my husband that I’m leaving in five minutes, and won’t get out the door for another 90 minutes. He’s learned to call my bluff.
Do you talk about your kids with clients or potential clients?
Obviously we’re pro-kids. I’ve had people bring their babies to business meetings, to interviews, to pop-up shops, and in the background at conference calls.
We know a SpitfireMom like Amy has tips to share, so we asked for her best time saving trick:
Use SIRI to answer emails while you’re making dinner.
What’s one thing you haven’t figured out?
How to grow my family and my business. I want another baby, but my husband keeps reminding me the business is a life-long newborn.
And, if you’re a mom entrepreneur and just found out your expecting, Amy says:
My shipping manager is expecting her second baby. I’m mostly just jealous!
To anyone expecting a tot or anyone who knows someone who is, a Little Hip Squeaks anything makes an awesome gift. In fact, fellow SpitfireMom Chandra of Oh Lovely Day shared her love for all things LHS on Momtastic just recently! Amy, thanks for making the SpitfireKids look so good. Our (many) hats are off to you!
Julie & Heidi
Know a fabulous, creative mompreneur? We want to hear about her (or YOU)!
Little Hip Squeaks
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to admit, Instagram is hands down my favourite social media platform. I love how creative the whole concept is, and I love, love, love exploring for new favourites within the extremely broad walls of Instagram. So today, I’m here to share with you 10 Instagram accounts that I think you all should be following:
1. Beth Allen
Beth is an artist who paints the most breathtaking pieces. Her Instagram is filled with paintings that have you longing for her work. With inspiration so obviously pulled from nature, colourful food, and motherhood, Beth’s Instagram is truly a treat.
2. Bec Tougas
Bec is a stylist reigning from Western Australia and a star Instagrammer. Her entire Instagram account is filled with fresh, clean and stunning photos, and her style is one that so easily captures you. Plus, her café shots are some of the coolest around.
3. Free The Bird Photography
Jai is a traveling photographer, and his talent and passion shine through each and every addition to his Instagram. Jai is the type of photographer that gets me excited to scroll through my Instagram every day, and his photos are the type that make me want to grow as a photographer.
4. Breanna Rose
If you’re into design like I am, than you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that Breanna is the bomb. She is a super star designer, a passionate blogger, and just a wickedly talented human all around. Her Instagram is like being teased with design treats – it leaves you hanging and yearning for more.
5. Canary Grey
Wing Ta is the brilliant photographer behind Canary Grey. Wing and her business are based out of Minnesota, and they really know how to make a girl’s heart stop with a stipple image. Her clean and fresh approach to her photography is something to be admired. Her style is one of my favourites, and I am so thankful that I came across her in the Instagram world.
6. Spirit and Haven
Kelly Ann Mount is a designer and fellow wild child. Her ability to capture simple moments, nature’s moments, and moments that will make you think twice is amazing. Kelly Ann’s Instagram is one that will keep you going back for more.
Brigid Lally’s Instagram is filled with photos that literally make your jaw drop. They have you pondering “How?!”, and they will ignite your wanderlust like very few others can. Brigid’s photos are the kind that should be printed and hung perfectly on walls.
8. Local Wanderer
This Instagram account is filled with moments captured by two Canadian gals. The girls packed their bags, got in a car, left the GPS at home, and just drove. Their photos are adventurous and wonderful, and I just know they would make an excellent addition to your Instagram feed.
9. Treasures And Travels
The three Canadian gals behind one of my favourite Instagram accounts (this one) just so happen to be the three girls behind one of my favourite blogs. Their Instagram is filled with all the creative fun they get up to, all the tasty treats that they experiment with, and all the adventures that the West Coast of Canada can hold.
10. Munster Rose
Jackie is a floral designer and overall talented human being. Her eye for detail, colour, and a good Instagram shot is amazing. Her snapshots will have you drooling over the stunning floral arrangements, and longing for the simplicity that she so beautifully portrays in her photos.
Who are some of your Instagram favourites?