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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Who and What I am into this Week: Golden Globe fashion

You didn’t think I could let the award season go by without commenting on the dresses could you? Oh, silly you! It’s not like me to be judgmental, but it is a glamourous evening affair!  I have opinions! Opinions!First of all, WHEN WILL THEY LEARN??? PRINTS are never viewed favorably on the red carpet! I don’t care if it is well styled, you have a killer figure-it always gets a worst dresses vote. Please, save  the prints for the Cannes Film Festival. Also-heavy satin does not photograph well. Somebody ALWAYS says…”It needs pressing.” I don’t even know why the designers make gowns in heavy satin for awards season. It doesn’t move well, it shines and it shows every flaw, not that wrinkles are flaws but you know what I mean. I am an armchair stylist and I wouldn’t have let anybody out in these because they  always fall into the fail category. Styling 101: no prints, no heavy satin.


Moving onlet’s pick some unsung heroes. I am heralding black and black and white at the Golden Globes. Dying over the shape below-it’s all about the silhouette, baby! This dress does the job!


This black and white gown is probably my favorite. If you want old Hollywood glamour, this is the dress. White with black detail because that is what SHOWED UP in old black and white movies. It still photographs exquisitely. Maybe stylists are simply too young to have watched “old” Hollywood movies.  Finally, a benefit to being older.


An absolute hit for me was Kate Blanchetts dress until I found out she hates dressing for the red carpet. Bummer, because this dress is perfection!

461491291TM00652_71st_Annua  Black and white misses in my opinion.

 1.The band across her shoulder makes her posture look uncomfortable. 2. Love that Hayden bought this with her own money, but the halter neckline doesn’t work on her frame. 3. Oddly too graphic for photography. 4. Julia! Julia! Cotton is not glamorous enough for the red carpet. It belongs in the office. Oh! Maybe this is your office. 


Although I do like gold, at first glance, these two looked too similar. Am I the only one that noticed? Good thing they have different hair cuts otherwise they might be the same person!


Honorable mentions. Sophia Vegaro, it was nice to see her in something other than the mermaid shaped dresses she always wears. She was hilarious when she mentioned she was sneaking in a bunch of Columbians in the party underneath her gown. Next time, maybe a different hairstyle?


Margot Robbie in white that did not look bridal, plus she seemed to be having so much fun AND she was one of my favorite flight attendants in the shut-down-too-early TV show Pan Am.


See, I am all nice and encouraging when I am talking creative business, but when it comes to dressing up-I am a whole different monster. So thank you for letting me indulge.  I may need to do a paint up of some of these!


The colorful world of Samantha Hahn

Samantha Hahn is my guest today, she is a fabulous illustrator with a client list that anyone would envy. With clients like The Cut (New York Magazine), Daily Candy, Refinery 29,  J.Crew, Marc Jacobs, Mac Cosmetics,  Tiffany’s, Victoria’s Secret, she is one busy lady! I am amazed at how prolific she is and I love that she has kept up with special projects like her recent book Well Read Women and her popular blog, Maquette. She infuses all her work with detail, color and life.  She recently found some time away from her busy schedule that includes being a wife and a mom to an adorable little boy to share her story and some inspiration for us.

(P.S. She was nice enough to let me insert a couple of her book spreads into the video, fun!)





Don’t be apprehensive about yourself, your creativity or your marketing!

Tom is back! We talk about marketing (or anti-marketing) and why some people just can’t wrap their brains around it! He gives a bit of insight into what he covers in the Smart Creative Style Course and then I give you a bit of my insights. Tune in, whether you are on the fence about the course  or not, this video can have you thinking a bit differently about how you approach your creative business.
As of this moment there are just a few spots left for a  FREE 45 minute coaching session with me once the course wraps up!! 
You need to act fast if you would like in on that!

Register here!

The course officially begins Feb. 11th
Questions you might have:

 What is covered in this course? 
Several fun mood boards and “outing” assignments that will define your look and creative style.
Your personal style and your creative business style overlap, and the key to clear branding and good business decisions comes from knowing what works for you, what you are best at and how to communicate that to the world!
We cover  business models, core business valuesyour competition, your target audience, logos and brand identity plus…
Marketing, marketing and  more marketing. We talk about ALL platforms of social media and we ask our guests to share what is working for them!! That within it’s self  pretty marvelous! I managed to get a few more guests on board for this session!

How long will it take each week? 
We release 2 weekly lessons for 6 weeks. It is about 2.5 hours of video plus worksheets and the FUN exercises each lesson. Working along with the course is the way to make the most of your experience. We give lots of feedback!!

How far along in my business should I be? 
You can be up and running and in need of  some eye opening information or just at the beginning and need a 6 week “creative business 101″ because that is what Smart Creative Style feels like. You can also be at a point where you need to whittle down your business offerings or jump start your creative style.  Smart Creative Style gets to  the bottom of who you really are! The beautiful part is-not one other person on the planet is like YOU- so there is no competition and no business envy inside this course. It is about you showing up in the world as your very best self!

How much does the course cost? 
It is $440. This is the point where you decide if you are “in” with the plans you have for yourself. This course can be a game changer in how you view yourself and your creative business. Read testimonials from the other students here.

Anything else?

You gave some scholarships out last time, will you be doing that again and if I sign up NOW, am I still  eligible for one? 
Yes and yes! I am working on getting some scholarships sponsored! Your name can definitely be tossed in the hat, just follow along with the scholarship guidelines when they are released and if you win one you will be refunded your full registration amount.

Do you still offer the “spread the word discount?”
Yes! You just need to write a blog post or put up a sidebar add about Smart Creative Style and send me the link. I will then send you a special registration link for $374. (Not sure that will work with the first 15  people that sign up to get a free coaching session, time may not be on your side) You can do the math and decide what works for you! More info about that discount is on the registration page here. 
What ever you do, just do something because…

BABY, YOU’RE A FIREWORK! (Insert tune! Woot!)


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My Own Story

It’s a new year and I am telling my own story. Exciting and YIKES at the same time. I just took a deep breath and went for it. I cracked myself up at the end when I thought I had covered everything-hello!!-not everything but I wanted to tell you about  my creative journey and how it mingled with my personal life. I also wanted to share the ways that I have monetized at Smart Creative Women.  Some of it is old art royalties, some of it has been affiliate marketing (last year I really believed in Tara Mohr’s program so I was an affiliate for her.) Mostly it has been through teaching and coaching and recently I have started  organically freelancing again. I say  that because I have not been marketing my art. It has been good for me to see how that works into my other commitments (it has) and to see how it felt (it felt pretty good.)

My motivation was to explain to you that my story has not always been a bed of roses-upbeat-you can do it-cheer you up-story. I think I wanted to share WHY I can be upbeat. I want to share that managing your thought life and the continuing conversation that goes on in the silence of your mind is a really big deal. After watching the video back, I may have not have expressed the dramatically bad words going on in my mind when I was getting a divorce  or the lonely  and financially fragile times when I was a single mother. I also didn’t talk about the deep contentment of setting the tone in my own home (one of peace and joy.) I didn’t express how truly scared I got when I was sick and couldn’t get a correct diagnosis. I do talk about how God brought me through the darkness but I did not mention all the truly beautiful friends and family (and my beloved husband-you do get second chances) that held me together.

That may be what drives me now, I want you to be able to express yourself as a creative woman and I want you to be able to earn money because I know earning a living makes a difference. I know I want you to be smart in all your choices, contracts and life decisions and I want you to see that even if you feel like you have made mistakes along the way, that they may  not be “mistakes” at all. All the steps in your journey do have meaning, it is up to you as to what to do with all the things you have learned.

Links I mentioned
Nicole’s Classes
Smart Creative Style The 6 Week e-course
Clarity Coaching
Smart Creative Dreaming instant download
Monica Lee Studios


How to know when to change the direction of your business


A new year means new direction, right? Maybe, maybe not. I find it interesting when I am talking to people and coaching clients that they often want to give up on their current revenue streams. I think having a creative mind means many ideas are generated. Change can seem more interesting than the status quo but do you need to change things in your business or focus on what is currently working? This may call for some evaluation!

I complied a list to help you decide on when to change the course of your current business

1) You have been in a holding pattern for at least 3 years with no revenue growth. Notice I am talking about monetary income growth, not Twitter growth or Facebook likes. It is important to separate what you are evaluating. We seemed to be getting this confused as of late, popularity and earning income are 2 different things.

2) Your industry is changing dramatically. It is good to be honest when understanding the actual field your money is coming from, (scrap booking anyone?) If you are on a slow or even fast melting iceberg, this is a good time to ADD a new revenue stream.

3) You resent what you are doing. Resent might  be a strong word, let’s say there is an underlying frustration or even apathy going on. This is tricky because might need a pep talk about gratitude or it might be a sign that you need to breathe  new life into your small business. Erik Wahl says,

“If you are listless, you may be playing it too safe.”

 It is good to dig a little deeper to find out if you are restless,  have displaced passion or maybe you need some tweaking to your current  monetary avenue. By that I mean, does your business need a good marketing and branding kick in the #$%!?  If you think you need to give your business a shot in the arm, Smart Creative Style is coming soon! Registration opens this month and will be a very pleasant and fun kick, I promise! I added some quick FAQ’s on this page about the course!

Knowing when to stay the course and when to change the course of your business is something you have to decide, trusting your gut and instincts is something you can learn if you are not already doing it.

 How does your business fall out under this list? When I applied it to myself, I was sort of surprised. More on my discoveries later this week!

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