Thank you, 2014. This is the first time I’ve declared, “this was the BEST year of my life,” and truly whole-heartedly meant it. Sometimes I think about what my life is carving out to be and I want to run around and sing and do jumping jacks and cry happy tears because I never thought it could be THIS good. Even moreso — I never thought I would have so much to look forward to. 2014 was so challenging and fulfilling and rewarding. It was full. It was content. It was a dream coming to reality in more ways than I ever, ever expected and giving me love tenfold. I feel like I could burst.
Because a haiku doesn’t have nearly enough space for my lovesong to 2014, I’m going to recap month by month.
God bless January. God bless the time I spent in 2013 digging into the core of Paper & Honey, figuring out what lit me up and how I could provide for the brides and clients that put their trust in me. It was a long six months of waiting for my site to be designed and finished by Cathy of Love-Inspired — I was impatient and to just get started. It was frustrating to feel like I had so much to give but couldn’t while I was stuck in limbo. But that time was crucial. It gave me the patience to figure out what could set me apart. It gave me the insight to brand myself in a way that felt like home, that felt like me. It gave me grace to know that everything happens just when it’s supposed to. And now, thinking about that pre-P&H era, it’s so sweet. I had no idea where this would take me or where I would be now.
And when Cathy was able to take my vision and translate it perfectly? It was SO worth it. Beyond worth it. I couldn’t stop staring at this beautiful little online space and thanking my lucky stars it was all mine.
Paper & Honey had its first online feature on Oh So Beautiful Paper! I was over the moon to be on my favorite blog within one month of my launch.
This felt like the first “real” month of business. January was spent celebrating my launch and tying up loose ends, and by February, I was getting inquiries! From real people! Who found my site, loved what I did, and took time out of their day to email me! Who wanted to hire me! What. Did these people know I spent all day with a dryer sheet stuck to my butt? And they wanted to trust me with their wedding stationery? Cue a lesson in sending professional, you-can-tooootally-trust-me, I-swear-I’m-a-normal-human, I-DEFINITELY-without-a-doubt-know-what-I’m-doing emails. I’m sure other small business owners know what I’m talking about and have also felt unending thankfulness that clients can’t see you emailing them in an outfit that consists of blue sweatpants and a blue sweatshirt (this may or may not be an actual thing I wear… in my defense they are two different shades of blue.) It felt so incredible to just exist in this entrepreneurial creative world.
Max and I celebrated our birthdays (they’re only two weeks apart!) with a joint murder mystery party at our house. It was pirate themed and Max put on a giant red beard and everyone spoke (read: yelled) in their best (read: worst) pirate voices and it was so, so much fun. Max made me a pop-up-lettering birthday card and had me worried for a second that he’d put me out of a job.
March! I LOVED March! I attended Making Things Happen and it rocked my entire world. When I read the post I wrote beforehand it makes me laugh a little. I was so scared! I was so nervous. I had not one clue that this one event, these three days would change and shape me as they did. I arrived at Chapel Hill with the mindset that this was a Very Serious Business Conference. I brought a box of business cards and worried if I’d have enough for all of the Very Serious Business Contacts I would make.
But in reality? I gave out four business cards. Maybe five. I didn’t even think about it because I was too busy soaking in everything and trying (and failing) to keep my tears of overwhelm to a minimum. For three days I prayed and reflected on how to make my life intentional and mean something, how to bless those around me, how to grow old and be content with how I spent my days. For three days I learned lessons in family, marriage, business, and life from a multitude of incredible women. For three days I built the foundations of friendships with Bonnie, Taylor, and Kat and I think that was my very favorite thing of all. The past few years have left me struggling with loneliness and these women have been an absolute blessing to my soul. I could write forever about how much I appreciate their friendship. I just returned from being a panelist at the first Creative at Heart conference and it was an honor and a privilege to see Kat and Taylor’s giant dream come to life! Lots more on that later. It’s unbelievable to think how attending this one conference, how going out a limb and just trusting I was going to be wherever I was supposed to be, has opened up so many unforeseen and magical opportunities.
The Paper & Honey shop really started to pick up. One day I sold six notepads to Norway, a whole six more than I ever expected! After some Googling I found that Norwegian blogger Eirin Kristiansen had featured my “do this stuff” notepad. Cool! My head grew a little bit knowing there were people willing to pay $17 just for shipping.
April was also filled with projects coming to life for the first time — I finally get to send printed products to my clients! — as well as my first few wholesale accounts. Max surprised me with tickets to Ingrid Michaelson and I wanted to weep every time she opened her mouth.
I really love Ingrid Michaelson.
We celebrated our first anniversary! 365 days of a blissful marriage with my favorite person on this green earth. Max and I spent a weekend in South Haven, Michigan, cuddling up in this highly Instagrammable bed and breakfast. We ditched our car and spent a blissful few days riding bicycles around the little harbor town, channeling our inner Zooey Deschanels. This was super romantic until we both ate too much Mexican food and biking sounded like something I never wanted to do ever again.
We headed to East Lansing for a summer art fair — Paper & Honey’s first! Max poured a TON of time into this for me and I was, am, so grateful for a husband that has both a desire to help as well as extreme wood-working knowledge. He built me endless chalkboards to letter, an AMAZING reclaimed wood wall to hang them all on, and a giant 6-foot sign to advertise the booth; hauled everything to and from our cars; did lots of heavy lifting; laughed with visitors and flaunted his natural, non-salesy salesmanship; and was there for support when I wasn’t getting the kind of sales I was hoping for. I was so disappointed that with all of the work we had both put into this, all of the submission fees and travel costs, all of the effort and, above all, the time, that I had ultimately lost money. It really hurt. I learned a lesson in finding your ideal customers and an even bigger lesson in not being too hard on myself. It was a first! A building block. It wasn’t perfect and that’s okay. At least I had the cutest booth. 🙂
I swear the vast, vast majority of June was spent staring at the peonies in our garden. They were big. They were beautiful. They made me briefly consider becoming a florist. And then a few days later they wilted and I shook my fists towards the heavens and cursed having to wait a whole year to see them again.
I found a new local salon (they have complimentary wine! COMPLIMENTARY WINE!) and chopped my hair off in time for summer! We spent Father’s Day at Comerica Park in Detroit — my first Tiger’s game! We sat one row from the very very top and my fear of heights came out full force. Max and I split a giant alcoholic slurpee thing and my tongue turned orange. I accidentally made my dad miss seeing a home run during my story about how I always miss big plays. Whoops!
July!! I looked forward to this month all year! Back in March, I applied for a Stationery Academy scholarship while 30,000 feet in the air, on my way to Making Things Happen. After realizing the deadline was that night, I spent ten dollars on Delta wifi and the next 30 minutes putting my big dreams down on proverbial paper. And I won. Out of all the entries, I won a full-paid scholarship to Stationery Academy in Chicago. God is so good.
I hopped on a train (my first! I was so excited about it.) and headed over a few days early to spend some time with my then-Chicago-dwelling friend Nina. It was so nice to see her and have that comfort when I was so nervous about StatAcad beginning the next day. She took me to an after-hours event at the Shedd Aquarium, where we sipped wine and danced to jazz and looked at baby eels. That was the night I discovered that sipping wine and looking at baby eels is actually how I imagine heaven is. It was so much fun.
Stationery Academy itself was one of the highlights of my year. Surrounded by like-minded women, all obsessed with paper? My paradise (secondary to the wine and the baby eels, obviously, don’t forget). I am so thankful to Whitney English and Jennifer Faught for putting the event on and giving me the incredible opportunity to attend. I could kiss Ashlee Proffitt and Nicolle Spitulnik for sitting down with me at our one-on-ones, sharing their knowledge and experience with me directly, listening to my obstacles, and being such loving sources of encouragement and advice. Meeting so many women who GET what you do and who are passionate about design, printing, and going above and beyond for our clients was an experience I won’t soon forget. I learned so much and still pull out my StatAcad notebook to read over what we talked about that weekend. If you’re thinking about attending Stationery Academy, GO! It was invaluable.
Right after StatAcad ended, I travelled to Grand Rapids to help Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events with her bohemian bash beach wedding. Wedding planner friends, I don’t know HOW you do it. It was mindboggling to be behind the scenes and see just how much effort, creativity, and labor goes into each and every event.
We renovated our bathroom! Woohoo! It looks like young people live here!
Family vacation! We rented a cabin on Lake Chatuge in Georgia and headed down in a van filled with four little dogs and four regular sized humans. For seven whole days we relaxed, spent time on the water, read books, watched movies, and zipped around the lake on jetskis. It was bliss.
When we returned home Max and my father-in-law got to work and gave me a shiny new window in the Paper & Honey office! I LOVE our little home but it’s cursed with terrible natural light. It’s at just the right angle to get barely anything through the windows, and with my office facing north, it felt like a cave on even the sunniest days. I’m absolutely solar powered and I need sunlight to function properly! The new window makes such a difference in both the room and my mood. While they knocked a hole in the wall, I brought home sandwiches, thus being an integral part of the team.
August brought my first experience with sleep paralysis and it was the worst. But it also brought me Law for Creatives! I purchased a template, customized it to my needs and what I do, and my contract went from a dinky, self-written, four-page document to a beefed up solid contract. Paper & Honey got a little more Legit that day and, more importantly, I felt safer and more secure in my business.
September was BUSY. It felt like all the jobs I’ve been working on in 2014 were suddenly happening at the same time! Everyone and their brother was getting married in September! I had so much work I felt like a crazy person. I vowed to never again have that full of a schedule. But even still, in the midst of all the busy, I’d tell myself that I was thankful. I was grateful for all the busy because you know what? I NEVER expected to be that busy. I never thought I would have enough business, so soon, to fill up my calendar and prevent me from having dinner with my husband or going out to see a movie. And that’s wonderful, isn’t it?
After saying “I’m going to run this year!” for probably eight years, in 2014 I actually did! I lapsed a couple of times (with full blame is on Michigan humidity) but for the most part I was consistent. I used the app Couch to 5K and saw real-life results! Which is amazing, because when it comes to habit forming, I am HORRIBLE at following through. Diets, working out, drinking X amount of water, whatever. I’m good for a few weeks and then it’s like it never happened. But with running, I went from wheezing during a 30 second run to feeling incredible after 30 minutes. I could go for three whole miles. It was amazing.
I say this in the past tense because then Michigan got cold and I haven’t quite figured out how to master not getting a frostbitten face. Womp womp.
With wedding season winding down I was able to take a bit of time for myself. I took a few days to visit Chicago where my best friend Tori had just moved to begin her PhD (!). And it was great! She was able to hold my hand through public transit so I didn’t get lost or squished by closing subway doors. We ate scallops and gorgonzola tapas and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. She took me to see Ingrid Michaelson’s acoustic show and we wondered if Ingrid would start following us on Instagram if we started tagging her in all of our photos (heads up: she didn’t). It was so nice to get away for a little bit and have some girl time. Tori is the kind of person who lets me get away with taking unflattering photos of her and laughs just as hard at them. She’s the best.
This also kicked off our season of dinner parties! Max and I LOVE to have people over and provide a warm, home cooked meal. A clean house, my favorite Spotify station, and an evening with a house full of friends — it’s the best. Kaitlin came over with her husband Aaron and brought an immaculately arranged white rose and succulent floral centerpiece that blew my sad Costco bouquet out of the water. Our husbands were sweet and entertained each other while Kaitlin and I talked about workshops and new projects and social media marketing. 🙂 At the end of the month we hosted our third annual Young People’s Thanksgiving!
Bonnie launched her new branding and I had the honor of seeing my lettering come to life through various parts of her logo, website, stationery, and marketing collateral. Amanda Genther also updated her logo to one lettered with Paper & Honey love. I still get “eeee!” feelings when I see my calligraphy live, whether it’s in foil and blind letterpress or up on a website!
Max, in all of his talented woodworking glory, made an incredible, wooden chevron coffee table. It goes reaaaally well with the wooden and white foyer table he also built, complete with mint Anthropologie knobs and unfinished steel hairpin legs. I’m obsessed. Lots of photos and a blog post as soon as we get our green walls out of here!
This last month was so sweet. We put up our Christmas decorations as soon as we could (read the story about my owl collection here — it’s a good one!) and my amazing mom made us table runners to match our tree skirt. They’re partly made of recycled coffee bean bags and I’m still having trouble putting them back into storage. Red and green is practical all year… right? Right?
Amanda launched her monthly wallpapers series and I was thrilled to provide lettering for the first one! They turned out so cute. I still have the little deer one up a month later. Don’t tell anybody.
I provided stationery and lettering for Katie Nesbitt‘s photography workshop (styled by Kat) and it was featured on Ruffled! It’s such a cool thing to collaborate with friends and see others love on it!
After three years of working at the University of Michigan hospital’s operating room, Max and I finally attended the fancy schmancy holiday party thrown by the anesthesia team. It’s black tie optional and I threw a mini party that I still fit into a silk dress from high school — the nicest one I own besides my wedding dress. We got dolled up, had dinner Sava’s, my favorite restaurant, with some of his favorite co-workers, and headed over to the Michigan Union. This stone building is old and GORGEOUS, covered in vines spring through fall, and I’ve always wanted to go inside and look around! Drinks were a dollar and all proceeds went towards charity. There was a string quartet until the DJ took over, and Max and I got DOWN. Fun fact about me: I looooove to dance. I love it. At our wedding Max had to physically take my arm and lead me away so that everyone could begin cleaning up. Ha! I’m lucky Max likes to dance too and is surprisingly really good at it.
The week of Christmas, we spent two nights at my parents’. It was really awesome to have that extended quality time with them and cut down on our Christmas day driving a little! We had a faux Christmas morning on the 22nd, played board games, and drank cherry wine from my favorite winery. I think this may be a new tradition.
So, 2014, thank you. You were a milestone year in the least. You taught me that I CAN do this, that I CAN do what I love every single day and carve my own history, that it will make a difference to others and just bring so much joy. You brought me friends that passionately believe in my dream and make this journey so much richer. You brought my first full year of marriage and the challenges that come with being full-time and giving my incredible husband the love and attention he so, so deserves. You brought adventure. You brought laughter. You brought intention and grace and opportunity. I have so much to work on and so much to learn, but you have made my start so sweet. Thank you.