Melody Miller dreams big with Cotton and Steel

You have to hear this story!! I love  a courageous woman willing to strike out and do something BIG and this guest has done just that! Melody Miller has designed a life and a creative business exactly the way she thought it needed to be. This is a GREAT story about a creative woman who was unhappy with her earnings, knew she had more to offer and knew that she could (and should) be compensated in the right way did something about it. I love everything about the story of how the new fabric company, Cotton and Steel fabrics came to be.  Melody had a unique vision for what the fabric industry needed at this point in time,  so she prepared a BIG PITCH to the CEO of RJR fabrics to get him  to unite in her vision. The rest is….well, the rest is in the interview,  SO TUNE IN!!! It is such a motivating story of a creative dream,  good art plus  bold  manufacturing.  I think it will all equal great success!

You can see sneak peeks of the crazy talented artists from Cotton and Steel and their new fabric lines on the Cotton and Steel instagram. Check out the link to the documentary while you are there!


You can follow MissLetterM (Melody herself) on instagram here! She certainly is one to watch!




Let’s talk about ideas, inspiration and copying

Well the title to this post and video is loaded, right? I could write a lot of text, but I would rather have you tune in to today’s video and you can give me your thoughts. After all-I have been having this conversation with myself all week, so it is about time I had it with someone else!

Oh! I won’t miss an opportunity to say that as I watched the participants  wrap up the Smart Creative Style Course, I was once again amazed at how their mood boards, ideas and values all shine so uniquelyHere are some of the most recent testimonials. It honestly humbles my heart and thrills me at the same time. (Ok, now this post has a lot of text…)

“Monica Lee’s information-packed Smart Creative Style course was pivotal in providing the clarity I needed as I attempted to figure out the direction of my art business. I discovered that my current style was different than the art I was making, which was leading a bit of a creative block. Her course allowed me to better understand myself and my style, so that I could focus on the direction I wanted to take my business. In addition, her supportive attitude, marketing advice, and interviews with other business owners was invaluable.”  -Pam Wingard Barefoot Studios Art

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Smart Creative Style Course!  My mind is spinning with information that I need to sort through, and I’m inspired to refresh and reinvigorate my style and my business.  I must say the most valuable part of it for me is the confidence gained and the clarity that a career as an artist is where I belong.  As a result of the class, I feel like I now have the tools to get my work seen and my voice heard in new and different ways. Thank you, Monica, for your encouragement, a wealth of information, and your well-planned course.  Thanks to Tom as well!” -Krista Hamrick

“Who would ever have thought great learning could be such fun? Monica’s Smart Creative Style course was a complete joy!  Whilst being a very fun and nurturing experience, SCS  enabled me to find much greater clarity in a number of important areas of my business. The aesthetic clarity I gained was further complemented by valuable insights into branding provided by Khali. Tom’s marketing advice was clear and concise and his quiet, calm delivery style a breath of fresh air amongst a lot of “ra ra ra” online marketing advice. The course also felt completely do-able within a busy schedule. A supportive FB group and inspiring interviews were the icing on the cake. I highly recommend this course to anyone who would like  to clarify their aesthetic and receive a lot of valuable support with their decisions on the branding and marketing of their creative business.” -Lyndy Hants

“Monica Lee is an open book – which is an excellent quality for a teacher!  Because I have been a long time follower of Smart Creative Women, I had high expectations for the Smart Creative Style Course and it’s safe to say that my expectations were far exceeded!  I adore how Monica mixed her charm and a bit of humor in with important topics.  She makes learning fun!  Her course motivates and teaches invaluable information in a delightful way and I highly recommend it to any smart, creative woman who wants to further her career! ” -Tori Higa

“I found Monica Lee’s Smart Creative Style course a week before it started while looking at other artist’s websites to get ideas for the layout of my own. I feel so fortunate that I did! The course gave me the ability to see the ‘Forest for the Trees’. It brought into clarity myself as a brand. I know what I like but had not been able to see it as a whole before the course. The visuals of The Pinterest boards were so fun to do and I loved seeing the ‘results’, how I came together as a brand visually, Truly a wonderful, fun experience! More clarification came from the interviews and informational videos on social networking, marketing, business values, and business owners speaking of their businesses, all of this about getting real and seeing the whole picture. As a package it showed me how, as a ‘Soloprenure’ I can make my business work for me. I wholeheartedly recommend the course!”- Tamara Somerfield


Since I mentioned art in the video, here are some great examples if you will excuse Monica’s- rough-memory-of-college-art-history!


  Conversion of Saint Paul is one of my very favorite paintings! Crazy foreshortening going on there.

 How are you going to bring what and how you see the world to your work today?



Who and What I am into this Week: Vertical Stripes


Stripes are everywhere! Remember when I did my “Things That Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon” trend report? Ahhh, that was fun! Well, of course stripes are involved and on the Pinterest Board I made to go with it. This week I am into vertical stripes instead of horizontal ones. Do you know how many people get vertical and horizontal mixed up? I realized that in an image search.

Anyhoo, what’s not to love about a vertical stripe? It makes us look longer and leaner, it instantly makes a store front classic and can make decor look elegant or graphic and cool. How about that bean bag? I was about to hit purchase (not containing my zeal to furnish well-AT ALL) to add one to my studio, but (fortunately) I read the fine print, it is BIG, 51″ wide. Yikes! It would gobble me up! Instead of color blocking on the skirt from Zara, they did stripe blocking, love it! Tempting! Love the stripe skirt and polka dot blouse, sign me up! stripe_monicalee

1. & 2. Zara 3. Mug 4,Etsy 5. Bean Bag


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Jessie Artigue from Style and Pepper Keeps it Smart and Stylish

Today I am chatting with the energetic, stylish and SMART, Jessie Artigue. You know I love a girl with style and Jessie has boundless amounts of it. Her blog Style and Pepper is full of ideas, tips and spunk. Not only does she blog about  personal style, DIY projects, healthy cooking, adventures as a style expert, she also hosts her own  show on YouTube and helps bloggers and brands work together. You’ll hear more about that in this interview. 

Jessie blogs on all of these topics because she believes “everyday ingredients like these have the ability to enhance  your own recipe for success in seeking joy.” She has a personal passion for her weekly newsletter called Weekly Love Notes which can pop into your email once a week to cheer you on. (Right up my alley!)  I think Jessie is a girl on the move and is one to keep your eye on! 


 She has a big Instagram following and she discusses how she uses it to build her brand. I like what she has to say on the subject! You can follow her here.



Room to Grow


Busy, busy last two weeks. In hindsight the fact that I had construction workers here for a solid week and then had to move my stuff,  buy new furniture and have some semblance of order happening, I think I am doing pretty well.

I don’t think I realize the impact what having  more ROOM will have on me.  I found myself texting my girlfriend, “I finally have room to grow.” Wow! I think those words actually had  layered meaning.

You see, over the weekend, I got the chance to teach a workshop at the Providence Lady Summit. In the middle of construction, I was working on my talk. I was putting slide show together and sweeping up fine dust at the same time. My brain was muddled.

The voice inside my head said, “No one will come to your workshop, anyway.” What?! I thought I had trained myself not to let those voices take charge. I just laughed at my inner critic and said, “Well then, I will have put together something I need to hear.” Hooray for laughing my inner critic. That’s growth, right?

Then I was asked  if I was nervous. Nervous? Not remotely, I would talk to a room full of women (or even an empty one) just like I talk to you all. Hey, that’s growth too! And would you look at this painting table just WAITING to be used?! READY TO GROW! This was my view as I sipped coffee early this morning. I am in LOVE. I am just showing peeks today because…

I need to layer on some fun without layering on clutter. 

Part of what I spoke about Saturday was finding a way to quiet noise and spend time with your creative self. With a world full of “access” we are not taking advantage of the quiet. The quiet is where we hear that still small voice inside us. It is the  whisper that urges us to “quit this” or “clean up that.”  Quieting the noise ALSO means quieting the imagery. Our senses are often overloaded with clutter and that can cloud our creative spirits. For me this meant dialing back the “things” that I am surrounding myself with on a daily basis. It feels so good! 

I can’t wait to share my talk with you. I have a bit more work to do getting Luke settled into his new space. He’s at school today and I am thinking about painting stripes in his new room just to make his life interestingI am sure he’ll have a cow! Haha!

So what about you? Do you need to do something in your life to allow yourself room to grow?


Creative Office Spaces: I am Moving Up!


I am on the move! I am moving my office to the upstairs attic bowling alley stretch space of our house. Tom is taking the pink room (needs to be repainted) Luke is moving down to the bottom nearer his bathroom and I get a new glorious space!! Over 500 square feet to house my plans to take over the universe one creative stroke at a time. Doesn’t that sound divine?!! So I hopped on Pinterest (follow me, I have been going nuts) and created a board titled Where She Works. It is all so lovely…..


Except that….I have really really low pitched ceilings and virtually no budget to decorate. New flooring, new paint and skylights cost quite a bit. I would show you the before pics but you might call child services aghast at how I let my child inhabit such a forgotten and forlorn space. For the record, I wanted to fix it up for him several times over the years and he refused.  Great. Fine. Be a teenage boy.


My dear friend Vana Chupp from Le Papier kindly (really kindly) took a look at the measurements to help me plan the space.

The phone rings. Vana with her cute Greek accent, “What is the wall height again?” As in, are you sure you measured that right? Me, “43 inches before the roof starts to pitch.” Long pause. Cute accent comes back on the line, “You really don’t have as much space as you think to move around.”

Yes. I know and I will probably whack my head several times (you should have heard the contractor do it!) before I get used to the slanted ceiling. Nevertheless, I am thrilled!! I need to be really thoughtful on how I furnish it.

Truthfully, I am feeling a tight squeeze in  my chest telling me I have WAY TO MUCH STUFF and it is painful to realize. As much as I want to shed things, it is a difficult thing for me to do. I am blaming my gypsy style childhood and my divorce. If I had time I would sit down and find some self-help person to help me figure out why. But I don’t have time and I already terribly regret getting rid of Luke’s mahogany bedroom set that won’t fit downstairs. I should have refinished it and used it myself. LET GO,  MONICA.

So I am taking a bit of a break this week to rearrange, paint, try not to melt down. I have big plans, no budget and trying to talk myself into waiting and getting what I really want to furnish the space.  Although, I have never been known for my patience in that area.

So I will be disappearing this week. You can follow my progress on FB or Instagram. Better yet catch up on interviews! You also have until this Wednesday to enter the giveaway! While you are at it, could you fill out my survey?


I am not sure my space is going to be quite as darling as these rooms that I found on Pinterest. I am not sure if Pinterest is as healthy as it should be….would I go crazy with polka dot walls? See you back here soon!



Jill McDonald designs joyful memories

I met Jill McDonald  years ago when I was walking Print Source. Her art really stood out to me! It was bright, fresh and original and friendly. I have kept my eye on her as the years progressed and have been delighted to see her business excel! In this interview she talks about “the biz”! If you are selling your art for products or would like to one day, you need to tune in. Her art has covered just about everything from books to bedding! She has worked with some BIG clients and you’ll want hear what she has to say about staying true to yourself and growing your brand! Jill is offering insights as a long term industry insider. Find out what drives her to create and what her core beliefs about her art are as she shares her heart in this interview.

You can follow Jill McDonald on Pinterest to see her products in action and to see what inspires her!



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