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You're probably one of the many millions of people using Pinterest. And probably using it for a way to keep ideas cataloged or just to find inspiration. But it actually has another really great use for you if you run a creative business, blog, or website.
Just as with all social media, you can use these platforms to better what you're doing and better connect with your audience. Wouldn't it be great to know what content you put out really resonates with your readers? Pinterest is a great way to gauge that and here's how:
In your web browser, simply type in http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebaddresshere For example, to see what's being pinned from my blog, here is what I'd type in: http://pinterest.com/source/thefarmchicks.typepad.com
Today, this is what comes up. I can scroll and scroll to see what is being pinned from my site:
One day, I was surprised to see my How to Make a Cloud project pinned a huge number of times and proceeded to have more than 10,000 visitors to the blog in a few hours. Other days I can see that readers are enjoying what I posted that day. The more interesting to my readers, the more pins I see.
Of course, I'm always going to post about what interests me, but it's helpful to know what my audience enjoys as well.
I was recently asked to join Sulia as a featured expert, posting about things such as travel, baking, crafting, shopping, life, and more.
Today I wrote about a farm tour on the island of Maui. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? When I look out my snowy window, I have to admit, it does sound a bit dreamy to me.
This morning I thought I'd Share a recent feature from Spokane Coeur d'Alene Woman magazine. Special thanks to the magazine and writer Judith Spitzer for their support by writing about women such as myself in small business.
It is 8:15 a.m. on day one of the Farm Chicks Antique Show and founder Serena Thompson props open a door to the entrance of the main County Fairgrounds Building in Spokane. Early admission ticket holders, mainly women, are waiting in lines, rain pouring down hard on this Saturday in early June. They don’t seem much bothered as they crowd in close together, three or four to an umbrella.
Clutching a cell phone and pen in one hand, Serena reaches down to push a wooden door jam under the door with the other hand, and pushes it into place with her foot. Dressed simply in a striped orange and white t-shirt, jeans and flats matching the bright tangerine in her shirt, she looks as calm as the proverbial cucumber. She is a little tiny thing, barely five feet tall, slender, with long, dark thick hair, parted on the side. She keeps tucking the hair on the right behind her ear to keep it all tidy and in place.
Minutes later 300 women stream through the doors. Some are soggier than others, shaking rain off umbrellas and jackets, most are smiling and carry at least one big bag. Excited and boisterous, these women are not quiet. The noise level in the entrance immediately goes up from about 30dB to over 85dB, roughly the same as a jackhammer at 50 ft.
They are here at this show because they are card-carrying members of a club that loves vintage, retro, recycle, re-imagined, reused, repurposed, handmade, shabby chic and junking. They also unabashedly love the Farm Chicks. It’s not just an antique show, it’s a happening, a gathering, a place to nurture themselves, other women and antiques used by other women (and men) back in the day.
Those who know Serena, and some who don’t, stop to get a “hi how are you” or a hug as she helps hand out flyers and quells any last minute conundrums via cell phone. The heavy lifting has been done over the past few days, but mostly over the past year since the last Farm Chicks Antique Show. This year officially marks the 10th anniversary of the much-beloved event.
While preparations for a show as big as Farm Chicks might sound like a crushing undertaking to the average entrepreneur, Serena says the show feels huge but not overwhelming. She works on the show every day from what she refers to as World Headquarters. “For the past two years we’ve been growing the business,” she says. “It was a challenge adding a new bay last year but now it’s really a well-oiled machine.”
The day of the show starts when she arrives about 6:30 or 7 a.m. “I just kind of get everything rolling for the day,” she adds. Two days earlier she and her crew, which includes oldest son Cody, 21, are at the fairgrounds working on displays, marking the floor for vendors and getting “the big pieces in place.”
“On Friday all of my vendors come in and set up; it’s fun,” she says with a smile. “It’s like a family reunion.”
Vendors come from Utah, Montana, Idaho, across the state and even as far away as Minnesota and Canada.
By Saturday morning, the day of the show, she says, “it’s quite calm and peaceful, all the work being done already.”
Serena calls herself a full-time mom but that’s kind of an understatement. She and her husband Colin have four boys ages 12, 13, 14 and 21. Which means when she started the sale over 10 years ago the boys were 2, 3, 4 and 11. “It was hard in the beginning,” she says. “We took the kids everywhere with us and at the show we would try to find ways to keep them involved. You always make do.”
Making do is something she knows only too well. She, her sister and brother were raised in the late 60s and early 70s by two “hippies” as she lovingly refers to her parents. “In the 60s they set out on a hippie journey traveling the country and doing what hippies did,” she says.
What they did was travel the back roads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in a gypsy wagon where Serena was born, delivered by her father. Later they settled into a tiny cabin in the woods of Northern California.
“We were dirt poor,” she says matter-of-factly. She remembers going through landfills with her parents and collecting old toy trucks to use for storing onions or buttons or such. “My Dad would use old scraps of leather for hinges and my Mom would use old material to make our clothing,” she says.
Early on she was inspired by her parent’s thriftiness and style. “They were so creative. I gained a clever knack for thrifty creativity and turning ordinary objects into something useful. And I dreamed of the home I would create for my own family someday,” she says.
As her family continued to travel she loved finding things others had thrown away and finding useful ways to reuse them.
At a certain age though, a girl just wants to be like the other girls. “When my sister and I got to be older and wanted to look like the other girls, my dad bought a converter, which is something you can attach to a car battery, and it takes a little of the juice and you could plug in a curling iron and have a few minutes of power,” she says with a laugh. “And then he rigged up something to hook up to the blower so we could attach a hose and dry our hair on the way to school.”
Although her early life was difficult at times, she now appreciates some of the hardships her family went through.
“I’m so thankful for that experience and I have a great appreciation for that because now I almost do better having less, and figuring out how I can make something out of nothing. I think if you’re born with everything you need, you don’t appreciate it as much,” she says.
“That’s how I was always raised. That’s how I got interested in antiques and being resourceful. For me it was something I really loved.”
Suffice it to say her gratitude didn’t surface immediately.
“The day after I graduated from high school, I moved to Barrow, Alaska to a tiny little village as far north as you can go,” she says. “There was a family there from my home town who ran an airline. I ended up being a ticket agent and thought I’d move there for the summer then come back and go to college.”
The summer turned into seven years. She ended up enjoying being self-sufficient and making a lot of money, a lot compared to what she grew up with.
Eventually she attended a “small vocational college” and met her future husband. She came to Spokane during a summer visit to “meet the parents” of her then-fiancée Colin. “I fell in love with the area and was so tired of no sun for so many months. Spokane is so beautiful in the summertime and we decided to move here,”
Spirit of the Farm Sale
Before the Farm Chicks Show became the Farm Chicks Show, it was a little sale in a friend’s barn. Thompson asked her best friend Teri Edwards to join her in her venture of selling “funky old items” and within two years the sale was so popular they had to move it out of the barn to the Five Mile Grange Hall. They quickly outgrew that venue and moved to the town of Fairfield in 2004, where there were buildings as well as tents, erected at the town park for the growing number of vendors.
In 2009 there were two major shifts: Edwards retired from the business leaving Serena the lone Farm Chick to manage the business, and the show moved to the Spokane County Fairgrounds where it hosts more than 200 vendors and elbow-to-elbow shopping on the first day of the show. It is, according to Country Living and Flea Market Style Magazines, one of the best sales of its kind in the country. Both vendors and shoppers come from across the U.S. to attend the big sale. This year more than 10,000 visitors passed through the show in two days.
Husband Colin has always helped out in the business end of Farm Chicks, since he is a business manager and accountant; Serena relies on him to take care of the financial areas. “If a business doesn’t have sound financial footing you can really get into a bad situation,” she says. “I can’t do both things at one time. I can’t be creative (and do finances for the business) at the same time. It works out well for us so thank goodness,” she says.
Today she says she’s the luckiest girl in the world and wouldn’t appreciate what she has if she hadn’t experienced a childhood without all the necessities like indoor plumbing, electricity and luxuries like dishwashers and television.
Her creativity abounds. She blogs about all things domestic, vintage, crafty and foodie. She is a contributing editor for Country Living Magazine has authored two books: one with her friend Teri called Country Living The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen: Live Well, Laugh Often, Cook Much, and Country Living The Farm Chicks Christmas: Merry Ideas for the Holidays, which she wrote by herself. Both books center around ideas for entertaining, crafts and recipes woven through with delightful stories of family and friends
Her latest enterprise is a new website that’s a virtual show-and-tell for antique sales, tag shows, auctions and such. The website is called My Favorite Find and she loves to be able to gather people together to show off their latest “finds.” “You can search for great events, show-and-tell your (old and new) friends what you’ve found,” she says.
Because really, that’s one of the things she does best, gather friends around who love buying and selling vintage, and spread the word about the latest and greatest favorite finds.
What is a Farm Chick? A Farm Chick is a girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. She loves her family. She laughs a lot. She’s farmgirl meets Fifth Avenue and with a little style, she’ll change the world.
Note of Correction From Serena: Although the article states I was attending the vocational college in Alaska, I was actually an employee there, as was Colin.
I've loved sharing some of my insights into business recently. What have I missed?
If you have any questions, please feel free to post your questions here and I'll do my best to help.
Questions and answers below!
Question from Kelley: How do I build internet traffic for my webstore. . . blog. . . etc? Any resources you can point me to, or advice would be awesome!
Answer: Make sure to use social media to your advantage. Build a Facebook page for your business and connect with others there. You really need to build a following and this can take time. Make sure not to be spam-like with those you connect with (Try not to bombard people with posts). If you build a slow and steady following, it will be filled with others who are truly interested in what you have to offer. Best wishes on your webstore!
Question from Reese: I would love to hear your advice on turning an idea into reality. I've got some great ideas, but I have no idea how to actually execute them.
Answer: Truly, my business has been a lot of work. It's taken ten years to get where I am with my business. In the beginning, I worked really hard to reach out to others who it made sense to connect with. Country Living Magazine, Emma Lee Turney (The founder of the Round Top Antiques Show), etc. to tell them about what we were doing and hoping that we could connect in some way. Along the way, I had a strong vision for the business and made sure to stay true to that. I think you need to get your vision into place and then run with it. Build up your business and then reach out to others, promote your business, do everything you can think of to make it strong and viable.
Question from Stacey: What do you do when what you love (interior decorating and styling) is not something "new" like you talked about in your previous "idea" post...how do you stand out in a crowd? The only real difference (or possibly limitation) i have is that i specialize in cottage decor. I just started a new decorating site at http://cottageindustryinterior.com. I'd love for you to take a look and welcome any advice you may have.
Answer: First, I think it's important that you are specializing in something that you obviously love and that's your niche. I'd bet there are no other interior decorators in your area that specialize in cottage decor - and that's perfect! You wouldn't want to open a muffin shop on a street with five other muffin shops. :) I think you have a beautiful website that's really easy to navigate. One tip: Make sure to credit any images you post that aren't your own to the original source - anywhere you post them... your website, facebook, etc. Good luck!
Question from Camille: Where does one start when taking a storefront business online? What do you see from your experience as being the biggest challenges with going online? Which program would you say is best to use for the shopping online? And, if you were asked what would you do differently now regarding your business both online and other avenues like shows, what would you say?
Answer: Make sure you have a really great website that is easy to navigate, and with working links. You really have one chance to pull someone in and if it's not easy, they'll be gone in a few seconds. There are so many shopping cart services that it's mind boggling. You may need to work with a professional to get yours set up. Really, it's going to take a lot of work on your part to do the research on what you like, what you don't like and then go from there. What I did differently with my business is that we originally had a webstore that I eventually was filling the orders for. It was just way too much work and not what I had in mind for the business, so I closed it down and now focus on other parts of my business that I enjoy. Take care.
Question from Cyndi: In your opinion, what's the single best and single worst thing a new small business can learn from?
Answer: My style in business is to just go for it and to learn from successes and mistakes along the way. It's important to not let failures bring you down, because you will fail at some things and that's okay. If you're tenacious and believe in what you're doing, you'll be okay.
Before I talk about trademarks, I want to preface this post by saying that I am not an expert in trademarks, nor do I have any authority on the matter. My insights are based on my experiences as a trademark holder and business person. You may want to consider talking with an attorney if a trademark is something you are seriously considering for your business.
Now on with the post...
I find that trademarks are a pain in the neck. I don't like them, but do find them absolutely necessary for my business. Here's why: My business is something I've worked really hard to build into a nationally known brand. In business, much of your success hinges on the reputation your business has and is identified through its name. Without my business name and what I've built, I'd really have nothing.
One of the very first things we did when we started The Farm Chicks, was to trademark it. We knew that we wanted to build the show into something big and wanted to protect what we were going to build. Now, if our plans were to have a little sale in a barn on a casual basis once in a while, I wouldn't have bothered. Because trademarks are not easy. In fact, I find them to be a whole lot of no fun.
Here's why: When you trademark your business, that is only the beginning. As the trademark owner, you must police your trademark, or you run the danger of not being able to enforce it. For example, if my attorney discovers there is someone in Timbucktoo holding an event called The Farm Chicks or anything similar, we must let them know I am the owner of that trademark. Anything that can be confused with The Farm Chicks (whether or not it is the same name) has to be acted upon.
So what do we do when this occurs? (And yes, it does happen...) I reach out to the person/people in a very friendly manner and explain to them that I am the legal owner of that trademark. I also explain that I need then to stop using the name immediately. Usually, that resolves the issue, but there are times when they just don't understand. They think they should be able to use it because I'm in Spokane and they're in Timbucktoo. Or they don't see how they're event could be confused with mine and so on. So, I or my attorney very politely try to explain how a trademark works. It's a frustrating and very stressful process and sometimes they can become defiant. And that part of business is just no fun for me. I do what I do because I love it and sometimes those sort of things can really be hard.
One time, two individuals started a very similar business with a very similar name and then took my story and Teri's story (back when Teri was still a part of the business) and copied them as their own. Their website had out bios on it!
Another time, two individuals started a very similar business with a very similar name and their logo was almost an identical copy of mine, complete with the star.
And many more...
But this is why trademark law exists. Anything that can cause confusion in the marketplace (can cause any confusion for the consumer) must be addressed, if you own the trademark. If you are the owner of the trademark and you just ignore these violations, you run the risk of not being able to enforce it. And really, if you dont have any plans of enforcing it (and it can get very expensive to do so), why get a trademark in the first place?
Did you know that you can search all current and pending trademarks that exist? If you are starting a business, this is really something you should check before you choose a name. You definitely don't want to choose a name that someone else already owns. It's called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You can find the website here.
When you see the TM mark on a logo, that usually means the business has applied for a trademark and is in the process. Once the trademark has gone through, the (R) can be used.
Filing for a trademark can also be expensive. I think it is around $500 for a filing fee and additional for every single category you are trademarking in. It can get complicated. My attorney handles all of my trademarks, and that can get costly as well, as I pay attorney fees in addition to the actual filing fees described above. Again, I'd never do it if I wasn't taking the business so seriously.
It's all food for thought. Really, it's all about how far do you intend to take your business? If nothing else, I do hope you will search the TESS site before choosing a name. It will make life so much easier for you and your business in the long run, whether you choose to trademark or not. Because after all, someone else could already own the name you would like to use.
One thing that can have such an impact on your business is the people you choose to surround yourself with. Your circle. Your circle is really a lot of circles: friends, business friends, businesses, etc.
You know I talk about choosing to surround myself with people and businesses who are good. And that's really important to me. Do you know how you feel after you've visited with someone who was negative or arrogant? You leave that encounter feeling bad. Imagine if all of your time was spent with people who were positive and uplifting. It would be life changing.
I really believe every choice we make, from the tiniest things to the biggest things have an impact on the world. If we're good to our children, they're good to others. If we support one another, others will do the same. If we build positive minded businesses, we are building a greater good. I can tell you that if you build a life of trying to be the best person you can be, it becomes who you are. And I say that because it's important to do good things because you just want to do good things - not that you're ever expecting anything in return.
But guess what? Life isn't perfect, and sometimes you'll be disappointed or betrayed by someone you've pulled into your circle. And that's just life. You can spend time dwelling on it and let it bring you down, or you can just deal with it, scrub yourself clean from it, and move on. And you'll be better for it. Because in the end, you'll learn that's a blessing too. You'll grow and be strengthened, and land on your feet.
Because you're a good person.
Why am I talking about being a good person when building your business? Because it's all intertwined. Your circle, your life choices - it all affects your life - and your business.
Now, I'm not saying you need to rush out and befriend every business person you ever meet or save the world. Just do what makes sense. Here are some examples:
You need to understand your circle is more than those you befriend or talk to every day. It's anyone you choose to do business with as well.
I've learned to choose wisely. And if someone or something doesn't work out, I just move on. I'm an optimistic entrepreneur but I'm realistic too.
P.S. Do you recognize the ladies pictured above? If you attend The Farm Chicks Show, you probably do! There's Kathy and Melissa - they've been vendors at The Farm Chicks Show for many years. And Pam and her daughter. Pam has been selling her famous treats at the show for quite some time. I love that they're in my circle.
We all seem to know that having a good business idea is pretty much the best thing you can do when setting out to build your dream. We all want that idea, don't we? The one that everyone says, "I wish I had thought of that!"
I'm here to say that you don't have to come up with something earth shattering to become successful. Here's what I believe:
The most important foundation of a creative business is that it's something you love. LOVE! What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? Can you work that into a business?
Start from there.
But don't stop at that. Begin thinking about it from your perspective. What would you enjoy if you were the consumer? Try to always think of things with that angle - as if you were experiencing it. Would you love it? Don't stop until it's something that you would love, if you were the consumer.
I also really want to say that although success in business is often defined by how much revenue your business creates, that's not something I ever focused on when starting out. I believe that developing a business is much like raising a child. You love your child and you work hard to make sure you raise him/her to be the very best they can be. Nurtured, loved, carefully guided - and hopefully someday, successful. And if you work really hard and do the very best you can, chances are, things will turn out just fine. And most likely, very well. You became a parent because you WANTED a child - just like you start a business because you WANT a business. You're going to get out of it what you put into it.
I should also take a minute to talk about originality. I think that's so important. Important to find your niche - to carve your path where others haven't gone before. This will take work, patience, and some time. But it will be worth it in the end.
And on that topic of originality, let me tell you this. I love shining a spotlight on others and I'm always seeking to share stories of other women in business. What I'm looking for is something unique. Something I haven't seen before. And I'm not alone. That's what magazine staffers, television producers, and editors are always seeking. And consumers are too.
A great example is my friend Heather Bullard's new magazine, Souvenir. Sure, there are lots of magazines out there but hers is unique. Really grass-roots and wonderful because it's full of stories from everyday women like you and me. But SO. Well. Done.
Which brings me to this: There are so many of us entrepreneurs and creative women out there and we can all support one another. You can surround yourself with a wonderful circle of supportive women.
I'll be talking about that tomorrow...
In the meantime, do you have any questions? Leave me a comment and I'll do my best to help. xo
I often think about how blessed I am to have found a path in life that allows me to be a mom and wife, while living my dream of building a creative business. Getting to do something I love is really a dream come true.
It’s funny how life twists and turns and then suddenly you’re in a place you never knew you’d be. That’s me.
And I’ve always believed that if life gives you blessings, you should try to pass them along, however you are able to do so. So this week, I thought I’d talk about building a little business from scratch, what I’ve learned, what I believe, and so on.
I’ll get started with that tomorrow.
In the meantime, have you visited my newest creation – My Favorite Find yet? It’s one way I’ve been able to help others spread the word about their businesses. I’d love for you to check it out, and all of the businesses, events, and finds that are listed there.
Hello there! Things are hopping here at World Headquarters!
Spring is in full swing here on the bluff and the view from my windows always makes my heart skip a beat. This is one of Byron's tractors that I was so happy to see he parked just outside my doors today. Byron farms our property for us and we adore him and his beautiful work. Farmers are such a gift to our world.
I've been busy getting ready for The Farm Chicks Show. It's fun to see the old show posters isn't it? They're all here, except for the first two which were handmade by my sister and hang in a special place of honor in World HQ.
Farm Chicks Show tickets all boxed up and ready to go!
This final countdown to the show is always a busy one, but I love it!
Lots of love from World Headquarters to you!
~ Serena :)
My Favorite Find is the biggest dream I've had in a long time. This vision resided in my mind and I wanted so much to bring it to life. I knew that finding the right team was key. I have to like the people I work with, trust them, and in a way, put much of my dream in their hands.
Eventually, my search led me to North by Northwest, an amazing Spokane-based digital studio, specializing in film, video, and web. I first met some of the NXNW crew when an old family friend, Peter Coyote, was in town shooting a film. Our oldest son Cody and I spent a few hours on set watching Coyote (yes, we call him Coyote... remember my hippy childhood?) bring his character to life, and getting to see the crew work their magic.
You know how when you meet someone and you know that they're right? Yeah, me too. And when we met to discuss My Favorite Find, at long last, I knew I had met my team.
Now, after all this time, I'd like for you to meet them too!
Jason Miller: He's always full of ideas and I like that even though he knows the developers will probably roll their eyes at some of them, he still shares. The day of the big MFF launch, he worked a 12 hour day, lost his wallet, had a family member get in a car crash, and son get a black eye at school. (And I thought my day was stressful!)
Shawn Bendinelli: Shawn is creative and helpful and willing to tell me if he disagrees with something. That's important! And I love that he and his wife are entrepreneurs too. You can find his Evoke Apparel Company, a business on a social mission, here.
Alex Cross: I think I make Alex wrinkle his brows in question, A LOT. Alex has been key in building the MFF site and making it function like a dream. Unfortunately, I don't speak techie but he's learning to speak Farm Chick. He's one smart cookie.
Anthony Beran: None of the guys know this, but I secretly refer to Anthony as Wilson. Remember Home Improvement? All I saw of Anthony's face for several months was the top part of his head over the computer monitor. And sometimes his eyes. This guy is FOCUSED.
Stephanie May: Although Stephanie works out of the Boise, Idaho office, she was involved a lot in the early brainstorming stages of the project. Her insight was wonderful as she's a seasoned weekend junker and antiques enthusiast. Much of the mapping feature on the site is thanks to her insight.
I've talked about this before, but will say again, you only have so much time in this life, it's important to spend it with good people. These are my people and I'm so blessed to have them helping me bring my dreams to life. And while you're clicking, sharing, and discovering on My Favorite Find, now you'll know who's working behind the scenes to maintain and improve the site to make it better for you.
P.S. A big part of bringing My Favorite Find to life was another group I assembled to test things out, and give good honest feedback. The site wouldn't be the same without them. They're my Focus Group and I'll introduce them to you soon.
Yesterday, aside from consuming a piece a toast, I spent the day at my keyboard, hands shaking, as the launch of My Favorite Find began to unfold.
In 10th grade, I was a short, chubby teenager trying to make my way through high school. I'd recently begun taking carrot pills to try and become tan, to fit into the California look that was popular at the time. Unfortunately for me, the effect was that I turned ORANGE. In fact, I looked very much like an Oompa Loompa. And we all knew it, but no one said a thing. Because that would have just been mean. But one day, as I walked into Social Studies class late, my teacher, Mr. B, announces to the class, "Here's Serena De La Luz, the girl who's gained twenty pounds in a year!" And in that moment, I died inside. It was publicly humiliating. And let's be honest, who wants to be seen as a failure with everyone watching?
I started yesterday as nervous as can be - wanting for you to like My Favorite Find, to join in, and to bring this virtual world to life. And then, there you were. You came! It was a party, and I was so happy. But just as the party was getting in to full swing, there were so many of you that the servers crashed. And for half a second, I felt like I was back in Mr. B's room, and that I had failed.
But I've learned a few things since being an Oompa Loompa. You just deal with it and you move on. And that's what we did. The servers were upgraded, and you were patient. You continued to join the party. And I love you for that.
My Favorite Find is now back in full swing. We want you there at the party, to continue to build the community, share your finds, promote your events and shoppes, and make it the most amazing resource for all.
If you haven't yet joined in, all you need to do is visit the site, request an invitation (we've had to do this to filter out spam and inappropriate content), and then wait a few minutes for your email invitation. (You may need to check your spam folder for the email). Once you receive the invitation, simply click on the link in the email, and you'll be taken onto the website to create your profile.
If you received an invitation via email yesterday, please disregard. The email contained errors and the link doesn't work. You'll need to start over by clicking here.
Thank you for your patience as we work out the kinks and the site evolves. We couldn't do it without you.
P.S. I'm not the only one following my dreams. Here are two dreamers that are special to me:
Heather Bullard's beautiful magazine has arrived. You can see a free preview here. (I'm so happy to be one of the contributors to this amazing new magazine!)
It was shortly after the birth of our fourth son, the last of three born 15 months apart. Our home at the time was an old schoolhouse built in the thirties, nestled in the foothills of Mt. Spokane. We were adjusting to life with a home full of young boys and struggling to make ends meet.
I'd recently begun making a modest amount of money selling yard sale finds on ebay and although it wasn't anything to write home about, I enjoyed it immensely.
One afternoon, my friend Teri called to tell me she'd just been to an amazing yard sale in Deer Park, which was about a half an hour from my home. Dishes, fun vintage purses, neat old scarves and so on. I was so excited about her finds that I dropped my yard work, hopped in the car, and headed on over to her house to check it all out. When I arrived, I was surprised to see how much stuff that she, her sister, and two girls had scored. I asked if there was much left at the sale when they'd left. "Quite a bit!", they replied.
And so we headed back to see what I could find.
We pulled up and all I could really see were several tables piled high with clothing. Not what I was hoping. But when I neared, I could see that the clothing was at least all vintage and I was intrigued. Digging in, I came upon an interesting old Hawaiian shirt.
At some point leading up to that day I'd read an article in Country Living Magazine about vintage Hawaiian shirts and remembered learning that certain ones could actually be quite valuable.
I added the shirt to my pile and went to pay. "All clothes are .10 cents each", the lady said with a smile. Well, I thought, I can't go wrong.
Later that week, I listed my shirt on ebay and crossed my fingers that it'd be worth something. Maybe $50? And then something began to happen. The bids started coming in and the price began to rise. $50 - - - - - $85 - - - - $125... WHAT?!
I called Colin, heart pounding, "MY SHIRT IS AT $125!" Then I'd call Teri. MY SHIRT IS AT $125!!! No, Wait! It's at $135!
And so it went for seven days. Eventually, Colin's co-workers were watching the auction too. Who could believe this shirt was going this high?
When the final minutes on the auction ticked away, and we continued to click refresh! refresh! refresh! with the mouse, the price ticked on up to a final bid of $860!
It was my favorite find.
Yep! That's the shirt, and the $860 check.
But the fun didn't stop there. Ebay loved the story so much that years later I shot a commercial for the company, re-telling my story. I don't think the commercial ever aired, but it was a fun experience none the less.
Do you have a favorite find? I have lots more as well and nothing is more fun for me than sharing the stories of what I've found with others who understand. I bet you love that too.
I hope you'll come join me on my new website, My Favorite Find, and share your finds there too. And while we're at it, let's discover some great places to find more of what we love. It's all there and I hope you will be too!
P.S. You can read more about the story behind My Favorite Find on these blogs:
When I was thinking about how I wanted to first reveal My Favorite Find to the world, I decided there'd be no better way than to give the scoop to my readers first. In a homegrown sort of way. After all, My Favorite Find is really all about you. I'll be posting the links to the interviews here, and you can click the links to these blogs to learn all about My Favorite Find.
I'm so excited to announce the launch of My Favorite Find is coming on Monday, March 19th!
Have you signed up yet? I've been doing interviews with lots of Farm Chicks blog readers about my new venture, and I'll be posting the links to those interviews here, as they'll be revealing what My Favorite Find is all about. And then Monday, I'll be here to tell you the story behind My Favorite Find. I can't wait! Stay tuned!
A lot of people ask how to grow a business, you know, especially when you're starting from the ground up.
I know that story all too well, as almost everything I've learned in business, I've learned from me. Trial and error. Doing everything I could to make it work. And along the way, one thing I've learned is that the connections you make and relationships you build are some of the most valuable choices you can make.
And whenever I possibly can, I love more than anything to build others up, to praise, recognize, and embrace all of you who are doing what you love and trying to make your way in the world too. Recently, I held a business card contest which was so much fun, and learned about many small businesses out there. After receiving all of the submissions, I visited the websites of the finalists and discovered Alisa and her vintage rental company, The Attic, which it turns out, serves my area! And because of what she does, I was able to open the doors of The Farm Chicks Show to her, in a unique sort of way.
You never know what's in store for you today, but be open to what's out there and the connections you can make. Because this is how you'll live happily ever after.
We've narrowed down the Business Card Contest entries (thank you so much to everyone who entered! We were overwhelmed with the volume of cards received), and now it's your turn to vote for your favorites! Voting is now closed. We'll announce all of the winners soon!
Handmade: (on recycled cereal boxes)
1.) The Red Kitchen
A suite of cards:
Classic, yet current:
Simple and happy:
21.) Rhonda Addision
To vote, please leave a comment telling me the name of which card is your favorite. If you have more than one favorite, please leave a separate comment for each one.
And here's the fun part! The top three cards that receive your votes will receive a special surprise prize pack from me, and a spotlight on their businesses, here on my blog. AND those of you who vote will be entered into a drawing to win a surprize prize pack from me as well!
Can you say that really fast three times?! Surprise Prize Pack! Surprise Prize Pack! Surprise Prize Pack! hee hee
You have until Monday night, February 20th to vote/enter. Voting is now closed. We'll announce the winners soon! Hooray!
Hello and happy Monday! I spent the weekend working on my contributions to Heather Bullard's new lifestyle magazine, Souvenir.
Heather's new magazine will be available digitally online, in an ipad friendly version, and in printed form and will include beautiful home features, lifestyle and travel stories as well as simple crafts and entertaining ideas.
And in true Heather fashion, she has compiled a team of contributors to make it all possible and I'm really happy to announce that I'm one of them!
And if you want to sign up for Souvenir's Mailing List, and be notified when new issues are available, you can do so here.
Congratulations, Heather! We can't wait!
Although I grew up with no television, I remember my mom talking about Candid Camera. She'd watched the show as a teenager and always loved it. She believed that laughter was the best medicine. And I remember her describing episodes and laughing until she cried when doing so. Whenever I feel down, I like to think up imaginary episodes and that makes me giggle.
I think she was on to something.
Today I wanted to talk about business as a creative person and being happy in what you do. There's so much out there in the way of magazines, blogs, websites, etc. And you know, it's easy to sort of feel like what you're doing just doesn't measure up.
I'm here to tell you that's not a good way to think. And it's not healthy for you.
I'd like to tell you my opinion: Visit sites that inspire you, make you laugh, or leave you feeling good.
Stop visiting sites that make you feel bad. Maybe they have a lofty tone or an air of superiority. Or maybe they're negative. And here's why I say stop. Would you be friends with someone who makes you feel that way? I wouldn't. Because we all just want to be happy, right?
Surround yourself with good. Do good. Be good to yourself, so that you can be even better to those you love. And then, they'll be better, and better to their friends too.
And the same holds true in business. Do business with people you respect. That treat you well. That appreciate your business, however small it may be. I love that I know my printer and his family, that my postman knows my name, and that my internet team is full of positive, good people.
And with others in your field, surround yourself with the ones who have ethics. Who build others up. When you're good, you attract good, and the negative weeds itself out. You'll find that it is possible to love what you do. And you know what? Pretty soon, your field will be free of all the bad seeds and will do nothing but flourish.
Happy = Healthy. I'm living proof.
Today I'd like to introduce you to The Funky Junk girls, Jennifer and Hollie.
My history with Jen and Hollie goes way back to the early days of The Farm Chicks Show. They were vendors, located next to each other in the big tent of Fairfield's city park. Over the years, they became friends, and when The Farm Chicks show went on a one year hiatus, they decided to start their own event: Funky Junk.
Their event is held twice a year - the spring location is just outside of Spokane and the fall location is held in Sandpoint, Idaho, and is now host to 30 vendors.
When they're not working on their Funky Junk Show, Jennifer is hard at work tending the crops on her berry farm, making soap, and being a mom, while Hollie stays busy as the mom of 3 very active boys. And I'm happy to say The Funky Junk girls still participate in The Farm Chicks Show each year.
The Funky Junk Show is coming up this weekend in Sandpoint, Idaho and I'll be sure to be there, to support the girls and their dream. Will I see you there too?
Click here to visit Jennifer's blog.
Click here to visit Hollie's blog.
Click here to follow Funky Junk on Facebook.
Images by Cary Burnett.
FJ Show flyer by Hollie's sister, Heidi Jantz.
I love hearing about couples building a dream together - in this case, one piece of furniture at a time.
Chelsea and Kiel originally met in high school art class. College took them in different directions - he to art school, she to nursing. Four years later, they were reintroduced and fell in love in an instant. Eventually, they got engaged, moved away, and Kiel took a job at a furniture design firm. All was well until their lives were jolted by the news that Kiel was being laid off from his job.
Knowing they had the support of their family and friends back home in Ohio, they decided to pack up and head home where Kiel was hired by a product design company and Chelsea began work as a nurse. They bought their first home and Kiel, along with friend Kyle, founded Modern Farm Furniture - designing, building, and selling urban style pieces that are farm inspired. In fact, many of the original pieces are works from wood salvaged from the barns or trees of Kiel's family farm.
Chelsea has appointed herself Marketing Director and excitedly tells how just recently, two Modern Farm tables were selected by an interior designer for the ABC show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, to air in December.
Their dream? To one day quit their day jobs to pursue what they love so much. Modern Farm Furniture.
Click here to visit the Modern Farm Furniture website.
Click here to "like" Modern Farm Furniture on facebook.
Click here to visit Chelsea's blog: Farm Fresh Modern.
As an interior designer who was growing frustrated with the lack of interesting accessories and furniture for her clients, she decided to create an outdoor market that would feature such items. Inspired by other outdoor markets that she'd visited, she started the long and arduous process of finding a suitable location and ultimately receiving approval from the Township to hold the Market in a parking lot, downtown. All together, the approval process took approximately three years of meetings, petitions, outreach, letters to the editor, appearances before the local Board of Commissioners, and meetings with the local Civic Associations. Tenacity.
Clover Market was finally approved and began operations in the spring of 2010, with a very small handful of vendors, twice a month.
2010 was challenging. The East Coast weather was not always cooperative, procuring vendors proved difficult, and attendance wasn't always the best. At one point, exhausted from the rigors of the market, being a mom, running the design business, and dealing with the side effects of medullary thyroid cancer, she was tempted to throw in the towel.
Instead, she dove in, deeper than ever before, changed the market to run once a month instead of two, and spent every spare moment networking, searching for more vendors, pitching stories, and reaching out to friends - all to generate buzz and excitement for her event.
And, it worked! 2011 opened with a bang, with three completely sold out shows at about 60 vendors each, tremendous public support and attendance, and a waiting list of interested vendors. And the weather cooperated as well.
Clover Market has helped to revitalize the downtown area which has suffered in these harsh economic times, and Janet is proud to say that it has played a small part in incubating and providing a venue for many small business owners who otherwise wouldn't have a venue to market themselves and sell their work and their products.
Congratulations, Janet! You're hard work is an inspiration.
Click here to find out more about Clover Market.
Click here to "like" Clover Market on facebook.
All images by Carla Zambelli.
Recently, I wrote about wanting to shine a spotlight on some of my readers. Women who are following their dreams, and trying to make a career out of what they love. Today, I want to introduce you to: Tamara Hensley
She sewed and quilted and dreamed of the day that she could design her own line of fabric. Eventually, she stumbled upon Spoonflower, a website where designers can upload their fabric designs for sale. Since then, she has created over 100 designs.
Tammy saves the money she makes from the commissions on the fabric sales through Spoonflower so that she can purchase her own fabric to create the projects that she loves.
Her dream? To become a licensed designer for a fabric company.
Tammy, Keep following your dreams, and doing what you love. I'm rooting for you and I know my readers are too.
You can learn more about Tammy on her blog: Art, Alphabets, and Adventure
Click here to view and purchase pieces from Tammy's "Tammikins" fabric collection.
Today I'm taking you behind the scenes at World Headquarters, where I ran into quite a pickle this week when the wi-fi stopped working. When that happened, everything came to a grinding halt. I NEED the internet for a lot of what I do.
It all started with some technical difficulties with the Mothership. (That's the room that contains all of the wiring here).
Imagine me trying to troubleshoot in this room. I know, right? hahahahahahaha
After that didn't work, I ended up here:
at the Apple store. It ended up being a 5.5 hour visit at the Genius Bar (No, not that kind of bar), where the Apple geniuses help desperate souls like me who come in with teeth clenched and an impulse to throw one's laptop through the pretty glass entryway.
If you own any sort of Apple product and have a problem, please just drop what you're doing and go visit the geniuses. They're amazing. And nice! And even more importantly, patient. (Hi Eric and Eric! and George!)
In the end, I walked away with my first Porsche.
(aka the cutest little hard drive ever).
And now, we're back up and running. This morning I woke up to over 1,000 emails. I think I better get back at it.
P.S. No geniuses, laptops or pretty glass entryways were harmed in this process.
Note: I was not paid to talk about my experience at Apple. And heavens knows they don't need my endorsement to succeed. :)
The first business I ever had was selling mud pies to people who would venture up the three mile long dirt road to our cabin in the woods to see my parents. I was in elementary school and I still remember my exhilaration once I'd made $20 from those pies.
In fact, with that success, an entrepreneur was born.
And there's really something about entrepreneurs isn't there?
All chasing a dream.
A big idea.
The next big thing.
Or the next little thing.... that maybe does nothing more than to make us happy.
Big or small...
dreams are dreams and that's what being an entrepreneur is all about. Dreaming, doing, following through. For you.
You. That's really what I'm trying to get around to today.
And here's why. I want to help shine a light on other entrepreneurs. Because we can all use a boost sometime.
It's your time to shine.
... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ...
Here are the details:
Please send me a description of your business (from anywhere in the world), anything that helps me to better understand what you do. Tell me your story, your successes, failures, whatever it is that's brought you to where you are with your business today. (If you have a web address, please make sure to provide that as well).
Put everything together and send it to me here:
The Farm Chicks
Time to Shine!
P.O. Box 1328
Mead, WA 99021
or you can email me, with the subject line: Time to Shine.
I will be going through your submissions and will select several to profile here, on my blog, for the world to see.
Because you deserve it.
... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ... * ...
I was so sad when I had to close my shop and had to stop with online orders. I just couldn't keep up. And I've heard from so many of you, wanting to purchase my books and other cute things.
So I have good news to share! I now have an amazon shop where you can purchase my books, other books I love, and products too. And amazon is able to offer my books at such amazingly low prices, it will save you lots.
To go to the shop, you can click on the books icon on my sidebar here or from my website, by clicking on products.
Thank you so much for your support. I adore you.
P.S. I'll be regularly adding new selections, so I hope you'll check back often.
The original Farm Chicks office was located in the corner of my laundry room.
It was October of 2002 and Teri and I had just held our very first sale, in my friend's barn, just a short walk from my house.
I had a strong feeling that The Farm Chicks needed to have a website and set my mind to creating one. I had no idea what I was doing, but really wanted a way to grow the business and anticipated that the internet would be key in doing so.
So, I set up my family's terribly old computer and set out to create the website, using a dial-up connection in my little corner. I worked late at night after the family had all gone to bed, and during the day, whenever I could squeeze in a minute or two. And I'm going to tell you it wasn't the ideal way to hatch the business, but I was working with what I had at the time, which was something I was used to. Making do.
Eventually, Colin and I saved up enough money to buy a desk from Pottery Barn that fit perfectly into a little niche in the hall between the living room and bathroom. The size of a closet. So, I moved the computer out of the laundry room and into my new space. And I began to dream bigger than ever before.
Whenever I'd have an important call or exciting development, Colin and I would laugh about who I was talking with, and the fact that it was all taking place from that little desk. And he began referring to it as World Headquarters. Because it all seemed so crazy, that all that was happening from that tiny little space.
Now that we've moved to our new home, and I have an actual office, I'm still in awe of my new space. The new World Headquarters. And that's what it will always be to us, because it reminds us of where this little business began. And makes me excited about what lies ahead.
And in this space, I feel more inspired than I've ever felt before. But it's still quite a mess. So, before I start moving ahead, I need to get moved in.
And I'm getting there. Box by box.
Right now, I'm getting my paper crafts cabinet organized. Drawer by drawer. And I'm taking my time.
Because, you can't rush these things and I want it to be just right.
After all, it's taken me nine years to get here. World Headquarters is a happy place to be.
Each year, in the weeks leading up to The Farm Chicks Antiques Show, my emails increase ten-fold. I hear from a lot of women wanting business advice. And I wish that I could just say *poof* it's this easy! But really, business is a lot of hard work, passion, and time. Everything takes time. Years ago, I wrote this advice for Country Living Magazine, to try and help women going into business. You might find it helpful.
If you're just getting started in business, or are looking for some business inspiration, this new Country Living Book: The Mom's Guide to Running a Business, may be helpful as well.
(You'll find my business story here:)
Being a mom and having a business can really be a challenge, but if you can find a balance, it can be really rewarding. Stay focused, be true to what you love, and work hard. You can do it.
I wish you all the success in the world!