Happy Holidays!

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As I take the rest of the week off to spend time to tuck  in with my family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for watching and supporting Smart Creative Women. It has been such a blessing to deliver fun, inspiration and interviews to you! I can hardly wait to grow along with you and share more in the upcoming year. I pray blessings, contentment and success to you and all your creative endeavors! If you can some time over the holiday and need some inspiration, catch up on your favorite interviews! Get inspired to take the upcoming e-course or just watch some of the shorter  Monday, smart  creative advice videos!

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Who and What I am into this Week: Hot chocolate from scratch!

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Need to put together a last minute gift for your neighbors, the mailman or a teacher? Here is my favorite hot chocolate recipe. I started making my own when I had to go gluten free and there wasn’t much on the market that I liked.  I have been making this recipe up and giving it as a gift for a couple years now. One year, I even packaged it and sold it!

Of course, I dug through ALL my recipe cards (scribbles) and couldn’t find the exact recipe I used so I have to experiment all over again! That was a cocoa (sugar) infused day! This recipe is a little spicy and NOT too sweet.  I collaborated with Joy from Frock Files on the photos  has the yummiest recipes on her blog, she added my recipe to her nice stash and took great pics! (She does  such nice photo styling. ) Then I went a little crazy and decided you might need downloadable tags for your gifts as well!  So I dug out some Christmas art sitting on my desktop and made tags for you. 

On an interesting side note, as I opened some art files on my hard drive titled Christmas, I was hit with this weird emotion. Had I really created all this art? I used to claim I could create licensed art for Christmas all year round, until I actually put myself in the position to do it, haha! Christmas in July is a buzz kill. I had forgotten that this Pinecone art was still available over at Expressionery as a personalized plate or as stationery. Past lives!

Anyway! Make hot cocoa!! Here is the recipe!

Ingredients

1.5 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 t salt
2 t cornstarch
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t cinnamon

Instructions

Stir three tablespoons (or more!) into hot water or warm milk.  Did you see the bit o’ spice in there?!! That is what makes it yummy!

Joy says that the cocoa goes perfectly with these meltaway cookies, yum!

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Print cute tags!! Here is the download! pinecones_monicalee

 

 

 

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Hilary Walker turns curiosity into visual story telling

I was happy to meet Hilary Walker. What a sweetheart!! Hilary is a photo stylist with a love for interior design and a passion for how people create and style their lives.  Her curiosity and passion shine in her newly launched website  Our Style Stories. Our Style Stories highlights and explores peoples spaces. Hilary finds out what makes people tick. She photographs their homes and has conversations with them about how they developed their distinct points of view. It is always so interesting to see how people live and express themselves through their homes. Tune in to today’s interview  to hear her candor as she talks about  her creative business!

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Finding the missing piece to your business

Instincts, intuition, trusting yourself.  It all comes down to you making the right decisions for your brand and your business. A big piece of that is getting to fully understand what your brand is all about and understand what YOU are all about. I believe in your creative business should not look like anybody else’s!  With that note,  I am announcing the next run of Smart Creative Style!  Put on your party shoes!

Whether that is a high heel or a cute loafer-this course can be the right fit for you! Registration will open mid January. This course will help you understand that you and your business are “the new brand.” You will get insights on how to position your business (no matter what it may be) in the new market place! You know I am big on thinking like a shopper and understanding how to market your business so I complied guests and experts that will help you do just that! Whether you have a small business and are selling to the public or you are selling to other businesses, this course will give you a master plan on how to be your unique self  and how reach the audience that is right for you.

If you need a jump start, shot in the arm, missing puzzle piece, Smart Creative Style is right for you! Get on this list if you want updates!

Here’s what people are saying:

“You’ve heard it before:  You need a unique voice, a style that’s all yours.  But does anybody tell you how to define it?  Monica Lee’s Smart Creative Style course takes you on a fun, guided journey to realizing your creative voice and then some.  Once I worked through Monica’s fun exercises, I discovered that while I had a sense of “my style” I didn’t realize just how strong that aesthetic actually was ~ and how I wasn’t utilizing it to its full potential. Eye opening, to say the least!  Monica’s insightful, encouraging videos throughout the course sparked all kinds of inspiration, as did those by the experts she brought in to offer advice on blogging, social media, newsletters, marketing and more. And the community that developed on the private Facebook group during the course was a mecca of fabulous daily information sharing between participants, Monica and her experts.  I had thought this course was just going to be an enjoyable little style romp and it turned out to be a mega-educational, information-packed mini-semester in pulling together a successful creative business.  If you have a chance to take this class, do it ~ discover what sets you apart (even if you think you already know – you might be surprised)!”  -BJ Lantz 

“Smart Creative Style is an unbelievable course!  Through interviews, personal testimonials and written posts, Monica has created a curriculum that will allow you to define your unique style and create a plan that will bring that style to life.  This is the perfect course for the creative entrepreneur who wants to create a business that stands out from the crowd.  In a short amount of time you will learn how to apply your style to product development, branding, marketing and social networking.  This course will be a game-changer for your business and I highly recommend it.”  -Amber Savage

“Smart Creative Style was the best investment ever! I learned so much and was so inspired all through  the course.  It was amazing how we all networked and connected with each other! Monica really went all out, leaving no stone unturned in our creative world. Thank you Monica, your positive spirit shone right through our 6 weeks with you- illuminating on things that I had very little idea about before. I definitely feel more equipped than ever to move forward in my Art and Licensing business. I would have no problems recommending this course!!” -Farida Zaman

If you need to tell Santa to set aside some cash for you to take this course, make sure he knows!

P.S. Can see the border collie’s ears pop up in the video? How about her collar tinkling? She gets a little freaked when I talk to my computer.

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Who and What I am into this Week: The good and sacred art of reading

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Much to my parents surprise I turned out to be quite the reader. I struggled with what was called “reading reversal” when I was young which equates to mild dyslexia. The parochial school I was attending at the time had us reading out of the Bible and I simply couldn’t read the complex and tightly spaced type. I would sit in fear of being called on. Fortunately, it was a pretty loose and loving atmosphere (afterall it was Hawaii) and I was sent to a specialist. The suggestion was to find something that I loved and read it to my parents as practice. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter (what a treat) reading aloud to my mother while she prepared dinner. I was hooked.

Recently Meghan, my upbeat, always positive, tons of ideas, admin suggested we start a Smart Creative Women book club. I was in the middle of Smart Creative Style and immediately said “NO, I can’t do it!” Then I thought, “Wait, that might fun.” and then I thought I went back to no. Why the wishy washy stance, Monica? I think it is because reading has become a sacred space for me. I read everything from spiritual books, to business books, to trashy romance novels. Lately, I have been spending inordinate amounts of money on coffee table books and reading them (not just looking at the pictures.)

I snapped this shot of what I have handy this week. I have a constant stack going and just ordered another round today (I love Amazon prime!) If you were to ask me what I can count on for inspiration again and again, I would have to say BOOKS. I am not a book snob by any means, I come from a mother who reads cookbooks like novels. In fact, she just sent me one in the mail!

I wouldn’t even know where to begin with a book club, what if someone pointed out something I hadn’t noticed in a book and then I realized I was NOT that inspired by it? Weird way to think, I know.

You see, I open a book expecting for magic to happen.

I expect some sort  gold nugget to fall off the page. I know how hard it is to write a blog post, I can’t imagine the heart and soul that goes into an entire book! When I read, I join right in with the authors sweat, love and intention and I open myself to their message even if it is sheer entertainment. There is simply nothing like curling up with a good book.

What are you reading this week?

 

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Intuitive Business Strategy from Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked

You are going to love Susan Petersen! She has a can do attitude like nobodies business!  Susan has grown her wildly popular business using intuition and a seriously good work ethic. (Oh! Did I mention her products are crazy adorable?) I have followed her on social media for a while and am over the top about how smart she has been with her instagram following. From celebrity babies sporting her products to gaining super fans, Susan has been one smart cookie. This interview will inspire you to bloom right where you are planted, no tricks, no special business degrees! She is a woman who CARES about her customers (why isn’t everyone like that?) Good customer service is a core value of her business. Understanding her customers has been key in growing the  Freshly Picked brand.  You’ll hear more about this in the interview. Tune in and see what is in store for the feet of cute babies everywhere! Almost makes me wish Luke was little againalmost.

UPDATE!!!!  Friday Jan 24th Susan Petersen from Freshly Picked is going to be on Shark Tank! Let’s tune in and send her love! (We can say we knew her when….)

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Selling Something? Pay Attention to your own shopping habits

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My guess is that you are doing some shopping this month. You are either making purchases in person or online. This is the PERFECT time to tune into your own shopping habits and to dissect what prompts you to make purchases. It is also a perfect time to apply what you are observing to your own business.

What clenches a purchase for you? Are you making a purchase based on an emotional response to the item? Does it make you feel nostalgic, luxurious, happy? If it is a gift for someone else are you hoping to trigger the same emotional response in the recipient? Studies have proven that shoppers buy based on emotional responses to the items as well as to the brands.

Do you feel that the seller is trustworthy? Before you hand your credit card over, do you know the shipping and return policy? Are they clearly displayed and easy to understand? If you are making a purchase that is going directly to the recipient can you be confident  that it will arrive safely and maybe even gift wrapped? Certainly the online shopping trend has changed the way we send gifts to loved ones who don’t live close to us.

One of my own dilemmas is whether I have my sisters Christmas gifts sent to me so I can see them and wrap them or  have them sent directly to her. You can see that shipping and packaging become a pivotal part of how I shop for her.

These are all questions to go back as ask yourself about whatever it is that you might be selling. Is your contact information readily available? Have you posted shipping times? Do you gift wrap? Do you have ratings or testimonials?

Is your business friendly and approachable to shoppers? Are you seen as a trusted source?

Are there good product shots and a story behind you and your brand that is  not only relatable but one that can be shared? When I am gift giving I often get asked, “Where is you get this?” This is a great time to have a memorable story in place so someone can sing your praises.

This is a busy season for you and your business and it is also the perfect time to gain loyal customers for the rest of the year.

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