It is SCW Anniversary Week: Here is what I have learned!

Celebrate good times, come on! (insert Lionel Richie tune) My age might be showing on that tune choice but I am having a moment a celebrating the start of my profitable 3rd year at Smart Creative Women!! This has been the most pleasurable hard work that I have ever done!

In this video, I share what I think has been my biggest take away SO FAR in interviewing all these creative women. It is a big picture key and one of the reasons I put together Smart Creative Style. I want YOU to be able to unlock the key for yourself!! I want you to be zooming along in all your creative endeavors. I want you to understand who your audience is AND how to reach them AND communicate your own personal aesthetic all at the same time because IT CAN BE DONE!!

TUNE IN to today’s video to see what I mean!

It is not some magic pill that you take or some formula that you follow, but there are key things that will get you on track and we cover them in Smart Creative Style. It is Creative Business 101 that won’t put you to sleep and will give you any missing pieces to your look and messaging for your business. You can register here!

The course starts tomorrow, if you are on the fence-check out what Kathy Weller had to say about the course!! This is a terrific post about what the course did for her. If you haven’t seen her site makeover (prompted by Smart Creative Style) You have to check it out.


Have you seen the 2 new “who’s” I have adding their wisdom to the course? Alyssa Thomas from Penguin and Fish and Emily McDowell! I love that the guests I have inside the course are on board with helping you figure out YOUR OWN PATH!  You can read what the last group of  women said about the course here.

Tom Henell, my live in marketing guru, is adding his wisdom and perspective that is game changing! Khali Whatley skyped in all the way from Australia  for several videos to help you understand how big brands think-she is enlightening for sure! The combination of big business tools and real live creative business owners is magic. AND you can’t forget that it is really FUN and about YOU. You won’t come out of this course with a particular look or someone’s style or formula. I totally get that you need your own path!! This course can help you uncover just what that path is!

Your personal style+A plan of action=Happy, authentic YOU! You can register here. I can’t wait to meet you  inside the course!



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Creative Director of Peter Pauper Press, Heather Zschock

Since I am headed to the NY Now (formerly the NY Gift Show) to judge the Louie Awards this week, it only seems appropriate that I have Heather Zschock on as my guest today! Heather is the Creative Director at Peter Pauper Press. Remember how I said creative directors are busy, busy and are not sitting patiently waiting for your art and darling ideas to land in their mailbox? Well, Heather proves that BUT I found out that she does hope that you have some darling  ideas for her!

What I really liked about this interview, was realizing just how much designing and creativity Heather gets to do on and off the job. In this interview, you’ll hear about Peter Pauper and what they are currently looking for. You will also get a glimpse and a hard working creative mom (insert sick child home from school-you will get a glimpse of him towards the end!) The reality is that no matter what your job or title, moms are just making it work.  Women everywhere are as excited about meeting you and learning about your creativity and you are theirs. I think hands down, Heather has got to be one of the nicest Creative Directors in NYC! I am so excited to have you meet her! Tune in!


Heather is creative is ALL the areas of her life, she has even authored a couple children’s book with her sister, Martha, who is a popular illustrator Runs in the family!


Above are more projects from Peter Pauper, one from Mary Beth Cryan who I have interviewed! 


What is your visual story?

Does it reflect you? Does it say what you need it to say to sell your goods or services?

Most importantly, does make an emotional connection with your audience?
Those are a lot questions for a solopreneur to answer! We live a in a VERY visual world and at this point your visuals either ARE your brand or a big part of your brand.
Are you even sure of what your own visual story is?

One of the big missions in Smart Creative Style is to lead you through some out of the box exercises that challenge you. They are designed to evoke emotions within yourself and to help you discover what is original to only you!

As creatives, we are almost always telling a visual story. It can be eye opening to discover  what sort of visual stories you are drawn to. You need this information as you decide how you will tell your own. An example might be to look at these two pieces of art, one by Renoir and one by Hopper and to ask yourself which one appeals to you more and why? Composition, lighting? The noise that one might be making or the quiet that the other represents?


Smart Creative Style is NOT a course that says do this step 1, step 2 and you will be an overnight success! Ack! We have all bought into that (ok, maybe just me) The course is designed for you to set aside some time to uncover what makes YOU tick and then lays out different ways of thinking so you can present what resonates with you to the world. The lessons come into your mailbox 2 times a week for 6 weeks. It will take about 2-3 hours a week of  actual lessons and the “discovery” part is what you decide to do with it, but I will say, the exercises are  like dessert! 

This is a course about YOU! It is a creative business 101 lesson plan that will force you to follow your own story. I KNOW better than anyone what it is like to show up in my business because I was following the money trail, the easy trail and the-if-she-can-do-it-why-can’t-I  trail.

Oh my! It is so easy to fall into those traps.  It is time to bring your unique voice, style and aesthetic to what you are doing.
Every time I met a creative woman, she has a unique story. It is amazing! What is happening is that often it is not being communicated in a concise manner. For us to truly have an impact on others, we have to understand ourselves and what we are trying to accomplish. We need to know what we LOVE and why. We need to get rid of doubt and fall in radical love with ourselves, our taste, our story and our businesses!

If you have got it in you and if the time is right, join us! Class starts Feb 11!

 Here is a completely different example. These are 2 photos that are enticing you to create a recipe using ice cream. The first one has a human element with coffee being poured over the desert and they other doesn’t even have spoons present. Does the human element appeal to you? Maybe you like one image simply because you like purple and it has nothing to do with the ice cream at all.


Here is another example, with 2 black and white images of striped one piece bathing suits. Neither image clearly shows the models’ faces. The bottom  represents a defined era and the top image leaves you guessing as to what era it might be from. (It is a present day photo, but could pass as from the 70’s.) Maybe you like one the top shot because it is outdoors.

Which image appeals to you the most? Obviously, when you look at these images there is not right or wrong answer, it is simply about what speaks to you. Understanding what resonates with you and why can unlock a treasure trove of information and inspiration inside yourself that no one else can lay claim to! That is the joy of discovery and application that we uncover in Smart Creative Style! It is SO exciting to me. It can be just what you need to give yourself and your business the love and attention it needs! You can register here.



FUN,  right??  Self discovery SHOULD be fun! Working on your business, while hard work, should be fun too! This is how I designed Smart Creative Style, as a FUN, exciting way to explore your creative business!


Social Media Strategies: Alt Summit Recap

More things I learned at Alt! Even though I consider myself a big picture kind of girl I understand love is in the execution of the details. Today I am sharing  a couple simple strategies that I took away from Alt that can help you understand and market your brand!  I had to put all this on video because I knew it would take me hours to type it all out. Strategy! Strategy! Smart Creative Women have social media strategies. They figure out why people are consuming their content and work from there!

Tune in! These are some links I mention in the video:

Statigram Helps you understand your instagram stats

P.S. I Made This Eric Domesek’s instagram

Sycamore Street Press Smart Cookie test marketing on Pinterest

Handmade Charlotte on Pinterest Smart Cookie on Pinterest

Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked Shark Tank Champ! Woot!

Grace Bonney’s State of the Union on Blogging (which I think encompasses  any online marketing as well!)

I did want to add that I can’t thank all the Alt Summit sponsors enough! I think that while some large brands  are struggling with how to communicate with their customers, the ALT sponsors get what women are trying to do on the internet. They don’t want bloggers to show up as anything less than themselves and they want to work on campaigns that make sense for everyone. It is a new and tricky media world we are in, I for one am fascinated by it… Oops! That’s another post! One thing at a time, Monica!


Photos from Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis can be found on this Flickr page.


Chelsea Shukov and the smart beginnings at Sugar Paper

I had so much FUN talking to Chelsea Shukov in this interview! She is one half of the team from Sugar Paper.  Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker started creating custom letter set press stationery in 2003 and  have grown Sugar Paper into the “it” brand in stationery! They have a terrific story. As beautiful and smart and all their products are, it is backed up with some seriously hard work. This tenacious duo has poured their heart into their business and it shows. Whether you are struggling with a start up or hiring employees, you are going to love this interview.  It will inspire you. Listen in as Chelsea talks about the slow and steady growth of  Sugar Paper. Sometimes we only see women when they are featured in the press (LA Times) and do fabulous collaborations (J Crew) so I loved her candid description of the beginning phases of their company!






Alt Summit recap Part 1: Know your heart


I am switching up the order of my posts this week! I arrived home from Salt Lake City late Sunday night, I think I was the last person to leave Alt Summit. I hope I didn’t forget to turn out the lights. I wanted to go over my take aways with you. I think this might come in multi-parts.

 Garance Dore encouraged us to “talk to individuals” when writing blog posts. She also said always talk “up” to your audience. She is an honest and thoughtful blogger who took questions from the audience. She responded to a polite question on whether she thought blogging about fashion was too “on the surface.” Garance explained how she treats the reader as her best friend. (Nice for me to hear, since I  too am a lover of all girly things!) She discusses the impact of fashion and body image with her friends just like she does on her blog. In other words, know where your heart is and you will come from an authentic place. 


Erica Domesek from P.S. I Made This made a comment in her talk “Your network is your net worth.”  I have heard this before but it  really struck a chord with me. Not only have my relationships and network grown by showing up and connecting in person with peers, but I have also had the pleasure of witnessing in others.  Example: Shelagh, has attended for several years and is now ready to launch the online presence of her two retail stores. She has hooked up with fabulous designer who is building her online platform. This type of relationship building can be crucial to your business success. As much fun as ALT is (there is a fair amount glitter and confetti) it is a professional conference where you get to have conversations with brands and peers that can be enlightening.



Having dinner with Jenean Morrison and Sarah Jane Wright gave me  a serious ah-ha moment when Sarah Jane repeated my own Smart Creative Women mission back to me. It was humbling to hear that these women so clearly saw my heart and my desire to elevate the creative community. Encouraging  you to trust your instincts about what is right for you individually, is my passion. Shelving self doubt and trusting in your own path is extremely rewarding. Someone in my roundtable also expressed how vulnerable it  can be to follow your own path and show up as yourself. It was a sincere comment and I completely agree! Doubt can be like sitting in a car that has the  windows fogged up. That happens to ALL of us from time to time! It will lift, I promise! But you are so much better off taking tools and tips away from talking to your peers instead of becoming the carbon copy of your peers. You just need to trust that the fog will lift and your path will become clear to you. A focused and clear path (and mission) can make your heart pound with joy. You will create a memorable business and you will operate from a place of passion and ease.

Don’t worry now that I waxed philosophical, I WILL be sharing the tools and tips that I learned at ALT! I got some great insight from an array of speakers (Gabrielle lines up the best!)


Me, in my tulle talking to Jenna Herbut from The Make it Show. I loved reconnecting with guests that I have had on Smart Creative Women!

Photos from Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis can be found on this Flickr page.


Classic or Modern: A visual challenge for you!

Watch today’s video!! Let’s have some fun! I am off to ALT Summit this week where I am heading up a roundtable discussion on Tools for cultivating into your originality: Why it is important not to look like the person standing next to you. You know my thoughts by now, “It’s a crazy busy visual world out there. You need to be distinct! We can’t all be on trend together at the same time. Sameness. Boring. You are original and everything you do should reflect that!”

But how, HOW?  I am so  glad you asked!

By getting to know yourself and liking and trusting what you see.

So… I have a FUN visual challenge for you, pick one of these words CLASSIC or MODERN and start taking pictures that reflect what that means to you. Look for your own meaning of either of these  words in unusual places! Break out of  your normal ways of thinking,  grab your camera (I used my iphone) and start snapping! Not only will you learn something about yourself when are forced to choose between these 2 words, but you may be surprised when you step back and look through the images you have taken. I recommend making an album on your phone so you see all your results in one place.

We want to see them! If you are on instagram or twitter, use the hashtag #smartcreativestyle along with your pics.  Tell me which word you decided on classic or modern, because I am sure those words mean different things to you than they do to me. Here are some of my pictures of what “classic” means to me.

monica_lee_pearls copy



I will be on social media (mostly instagram) all week updating you all in the things I learn at ALT. Follow along at @smartcreativew.    I cannot wait to share what I learn with you.  Until then, are you CLASSIC or MODERN??!

P.S. If you haven’t heard the interview Pat Sloan did with me about creativity and you want more take away tips, you can listen to the podcast here.

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