IN THE BIZ // Always On


This is my sixth post in a series during Write 31 Days covering anything and everything that comes to mind this month related to owning/running/working/learning about all things business.  Mostly, I'll be covering topics related to our salon company in Athens, GA with a sprinkling of love from my small calligraphy biz. 


So, screw it.  I'm not counting these posts by actual days anymore... only by where I am in the series of writing for 31 days in case someone is catching up or stumbles upon this later and wants some kind of sequence.  Here's a post that I WONT write: family weekends and days at peace are way more important than blogging.  

Does anyone else out there really struggle with needing to be "on" all the time?  In the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about being "on" as a business owner.  Or, heck, as just a person who represents what you do and who you are.

Like when you see a loyal client or a customer at Target at the end of your really long day and, crap, you're totally NOT on?  So you pull it together real quick and make all the small talk and hope you don't have your salad in your teeth.  I feel this especially when I'm at business events outside of the salon.  Outside education, forums, salon network meetings, etc... it's so important to be On for those.  The nature of the networking can be really intense - you might only meet these people once and it will forever change the way they think and talk about your company.  Hopefully, that's a good thing but sometimes it might not be so awesome.  They'll remember what we're wearing, whether or not we smiled, how we talked to them and, most importantly, how we talked about our companies and the people on our team.  But as an introvert, sometimes I really just want to go to an event and only go to the event... to not have to feel the weight of representing my people everywhere I go.  Do you feel me?

On the other really-beautiful-model-like hand, it's such an honor and a privilege to be able to represent my company when I'm out and about.  I get to make the most interesting connections and share fun stories with people, which is one of my favorite things about life in general.  This life is nothing special without community and connection with others.  There is such great community among business owners and I wouldn't trade that for all the sleepy walks through Target in the world. 

Through the past couple years of owning and representing my company, I've learned that a few things help me to be On and connect with people even when I'm feeling 110% Off:

  • Wear a smile.  A genuine smile will always outshine a bad hair day. 
  • Wear your favorite shoes.  Your favorite shoes literally change the way you walk through the world. 
  • Carry cards everywhere and make them easy to reach.  If you have pockets, stuff them in your pockets.  It's so much easier to exchange info, especially in Off mode, when your cards are easy-access.  It also helps with the "look put together" thing.  You never know who you might meet!
  • Show some love.  A genuine compliment, even on a shade of nail polish, can make someone feel at ease and accepted in a heartbeat.  Acceptance is key, even on a superficial level.
  • Today is amazing!  Every day is the best day of my life because it's all that I have.  Don't waste your time, or the person's in front of you, with complaints about your life, your business and, especially, your team.  Positivity is huge, especially when you're Off.
  • "I'd love to meet again!"  Setting the tone for a future meeting or just the idea of meeting again sends the message that you care about building a future relationship.  In Off mode, sometimes that's the last thing I'm thinking about but come the day after, I'll be ready to connect.  It always works better in my favor if I go ahead and set the future relationship up for success in that way. 
  • Bring a wingwoman.  Or a wingman... wingperson?  When I'm going to any meeting for our business, I always bring someone with me.  Not because I need a posse but because I might need some reinforcement, especially if I don't have my best owner hat on.  Someone to fill in the gaps or offer a different perspective and to, later on, remind me what went well and to fill in any gaps that I missed.
  • Always follow up.  Even if it's a quick shout on social media or a brief email... the all important follow up can right many an awkward moment in an Off first-time meeting. 

I hope there's just a blanket of grace on days when I'm just not quite on but, if not, having a plan is key! 


IN THE BIZ // Creating a Work Wardrobe From Scratch

Today's my fourth post in a series during Write 31 Days covering anything and everything that comes to mind this month related to owning/running/working/learning about all things business.  Mostly, I'll be covering topics related to our salon company in Athens, GA with a sprinkling of love from my small calligraphy biz. 

Yesterday, I talked about the unexpected impact that our dress code has had on our salon company.  Over the past couple of months, I've been doing a pretty deep purge of all of my clothing and trying only to hang on to things that I could put in a "capsule" wardrobe of sorts.  I long to be one of those people who can just have five shirts, two pants, one classic skirt and few pairs of shoes and be done.  But that just doesn't come easily for me.  I love pattern, texture, layers, accessories...  I've always had way too many clothes and, therefore, way too many options.  My closet is always a mess, my clothes end up all over the house (along with everyone else in our little family) and getting dressed used to take up too much of my morning routine to even be remotely okay. 

Since reading the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker, in combination with our dress code implementation roughly five months ago, I think I can safely say that my heart is actually changing.  I'm not just saying that I want a simple closet... I'm feeling it deep in my core.  Like the Lord is trying to show me that all the things I do and say on the outside, right down to what's in my closet, reflect my insides too.  Paring down my closet has never been easier and I'm finally, truly committed to buying "slow fashion" pieces that are durable and classic in lieu of cheaply made basics from Target.  When I'm buying staples for this slow-building capsule wardrobe, I'm actually curious about how and where they were made.  I'm spending more money per piece but a lot less money overall and I'm getting to see my old pieces of excess benefit people who desperately need nice things to wear to interviews, to work, to keep them warm this upcoming cold season, and to just make them feel good, like their outsides match their insides. 

I'm still in the process of "completing" a capsule wardrobe that covers all my needs for work and also clothes me for weekends filled with baseball games and house chores.  Once I started purging everything in my closet, I realized that I almost needed to start over.  Almost nothing I owned would really carry me through all of the things I needed to get dressed for.  Thus, I purged (and purged some more) and, almost, started from scratch. 

Below is a go-to look that I'll shop for and here's why... The dress falls into our three safe, neutral colors but it has pattern and it's "shifty" so I can layer it over or under things pretty easily.  For work, I'd wear it as shown but I could easily wear this to the ball field for Little League and be comfortable in any season - sandals in the summer, leggings and boots in the Fall and a military jacket in the winter.  It's just a great, all-around capsule workhorse.  Blazers are always a "duh" for a capsule work wardrobe and I love wearing them with jeans on weekends, too.  Booties are another great capsule piece that can be worn almost all year-round. 

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The jewelry is all from Noonday Collection which is almost the only jewelry that I'll wear these days.  My entire jewelry wardrobe except for one pair of studs, a leather wrap and a stack of rings, came from Noonday.  I wear their pieces for the story and because I know that they are ethically made and made of interesting materials. 

Below, I'd pretty much wear this dress ALL THE TIME.  I haven't invested in this one yet but I should - it's beautiful!  Super work appropriate, especially with a blazer and great for all my errands and lounging with the kids.  I feel like you can make it as casual or as dressy as you really want.  I put a flat in this one just because it's another staple.  And this is the actual handbag that I'm using now.  It carries everything, it stands upright, it's made of the most gorgeous leather and it will last me for years and years to come. 

And the last one I dressed for a workday but it's really the piece that I'd buy to carry me through events I need to be really dressed up, but modest, for. 

Next week, I'll post some of my real life outfits and show how I mix patterns and textures and take some of my pieces to work meetings and also into my "real" life outside of work.  Only buying pieces that I can wear to work and easily at home has been a game changer!  Simplify, simplify, simplify...

Shine on!

ELSEWHERE: Whitewood Events Styled Shoot at Stan Mullins Art Studio

Nothing sets my little paper-loving heart on fire like a good styled shoot.  Whitney from Whitewood Events asked me to create for a styled shoot that she orchestrated at the inspiring Stan Mullins Art Studio in Athens, GA.  The mood board was gorgeous and very Athens Does Ethereal.  I've worked with many of the other vendors before and it was just a top notch job by Whitewood Events and company. 

I chose to do a hand-calligraphed suite with hand-marbled envelope liners, papercut name "cards" and, at the last minute, we decided to include the collaborative coasters I did with Copper and Torch earlier this year.  Here are a few photos of things I made for the shoot.  To see all of the photos, check them out on the Whitewood Events site here.  (TRUST, you want to see that dress.  So. Much. Pretty.)  I am just OVER THE MOON with the way this shoot turned out!  Love these sweet vendors and the way that we all came together.  Hugs and snaps to everyone!

All of the photography is by Alyssa Alig... what a perfect set of eyes and lenses to capture this shoot!

Photography by Alyssa Alig.  Event planning by Whitewood Events.  Florals by Bud and Bloom.  Gorgeous table settings by The Lost and Found Atlanta.  Invitations and paper accents by Dearest Olive.  Coaster collaboration by Copper and Torch & Dearest Olive.  To see other vendors, click here.

IN THE BIZ // On the Road

So, before I start, I just want to go ahead and get on the same page with you on one thing: I might always be a day behind on this challenge.  Or, let's be real, I'm already MANY days behind on this challenge.  I'm going to catch you up on days 5-7 of traveling for work and do an ultra quick wrap-up for Day 8.  Days 5-7 being all about traveling and why we travel for work and Day 8 being all about how behind you can get when you're out of town... even on a work trip.  Insert stressed emoji here. 

On Sunday through Tuesday, four of us from my team at City trekked to Nashville for a big hands-on editorial workshop by Oribe, called "Oribe on the Road."  Here's what was really cool about the workshop: it was ALL about getting to the point of extreme discomfort in your skill and pushing past it anyway, even if it sucks.  Getting to the point where your skill is just plain lacking and doing it anyway... even if it looks terrible.  It was all about the process and not necessarily the end result for that day.  And let me tell you something... it WAS, indeed, super frustrating.  I was only a hair "model" for this workshop and it was fascinating to watch the couple hundred others in the room go through their process.  Faces say it all, friends.

Not to be cheesy but isn't this so true to how we can get ultimate satisfaction out of our lives and our crafts?  Push past the awkward, painful, ridiculous parts of the process and into something bigger?  Spiritually, this has been so true for me.  When I sit in front of the place of discomfort, without pushing through, I really don't get very far.  When I sit in the most comfortable parts of my relationships, without pushing through the awkward conversations, they get kinda stale.  Not that I want or crave discomfort in any way.  Just that it's oh so valuable and, seeking it intentionally, it's so worth the process.

Most classes and traveling workshops that we attend are structured around this process, though not quite so explicitly.  They all contain points of pressure and discomfort to encourage us to do more and try more things than we would in our daily work environments.  And while, yes, traveling is fun and outside education is exciting and inspirational, this is the point.  To get uncomfortable, stretch our limits and see what we're capable of and how to grow when we get back. 


Now, let's talk when you get back from a trip (Days 8-9).  A mountain of work is waiting to be demolished.  Usually, I'm fairly good about "getting ahead" before a work trip so that there isn't a mountain of work waiting for me.  But this time, because I didn't do that, I've been catching up on tasks that needed to be finished on Tuesday.  And because of the water main going out last week, those guests were moved to yesterday and today, making my productivity even worse.  It's hard to get things done in the office when, you know, you don't even make it to your office.  Tonight, I'm finally "caught up."  Though, if you're a business owner, you know that term doesn't really exist.  It's just something we say to make ourselves feel good and on top of our lists. 

THANK GOODNESS for Todoist.  It's my bestest productivity friend in the whole, wide world.  It keeps me aware of all that is on my plate, all the ideas I have for the future, deadlines and emails that need to be answered.  One day this month, I should introduce you guys to this best friend of mine.  But, right now, my Todoist is a little more full than I like to see it... but nothing is in crisis mode.  Everything is OUT of crisis mode and that's where I always like to be.  Earlier this year, I led a workshop on "Doing More of What You Love" that was all about Todoist and how to maximize your productivity in a healthy way that leaves nothing in your life in crisis mode... leaving you more time to actually DO MORE of what you love and end the slavery to your to do list.  Well, for a few weeks lately, I've definitely felt like a slave to my to do list and I'm going back through my own mental notes to end the cycle of reacting to crisis mode.  It feels good, y'all.  Nothing feels better to me than knowing my to do list CAN wait. 

Which is why... I'll pretty much always be a day behind on this challenge because, let's be real, no one's going to die if I don't post Day 9 on actual Day 9.  Ya dig? 

Cheers to Friday Eve, pushing through the process and living outside of crisis mode! 

Shine on!

FEATURED: Style My Pretty

Whew!  What a crazy couple of days!  Another perfect topic for Write 31, except for the fact that it put me a few days behind... traveling for work.  The past few days have been spent with three of our team members in Nashville for an educational event with Oribe Haircare, one of our incredible product lines at City.  Everything Oribe touches practically turns to gold so it was no surprise that this event was nothing short of spectacular.  I can't wait to write all about it, how we travel for something like this and why it's so special to be a part of these events all over the country.  :) 

But for now, I'll leave you with a feature from Style Me Pretty Georgia.  They re-featured (if that's a word) the sunrise engagement shoot that I got to make some paper goodness for back in March.  See the full gallery here

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IN THE BIZ // On Fridays, We Wear Color

Today's my third post in a series during Write 31 Days covering anything and everything that comes to mind this month related to owning/running/working/learning about all things business.  Mostly, I'll be covering topics related to our salon company in Athens, GA with a sprinkling of love from my small calligraphy biz. 

During training, one of the first things we discuss with our new hires at City is our dress code.  Thus, it makes sense that, on day three, let's talk about that.  Actually, let's talk about when we break dress code.  Because it's Friday (praise!) and it's the second "casual" Friday that we've had since we released a more structured and neutral dress code back in May. 

First, let's just talk dress code as a business principle.  Occasionally, I am asked why we even have a dress code at all.  "You don't have to wear black/white/grey to look professional."  "I think color looks more professional."  "I think your clients probably like it better when you wear color."  Etc, etc, etc...  I don't believe I can do real justice to the importance of dress code in our current culture in just one post but, in short, we adhere to a dress code as part of our commitment to consistently elevating expectations and aiming for world class service with our guests.  The expectations of our dress code are crystal clear so that no one is standing in their closet wondering if what they're about to put on looks a) professional or b) fits dress code.  Truly, it sets our team up for success during one of the first step of their "work day."  Which is why, in a minute I'll tell you, on the two "casual" days we've had so far we all spend at least a few minutes in the back room talking about how much longer it took us to get dressed and how much more we had to think about it. 

Frankly, and the most important piece of this to me, is that most (I would dare say all) people just can't deliver world class service in blue jeans.  That's not to say that a Blue Jean Experience is bad, it's just not characteristic of a market leader in any industry.  Unless you're managing a construction site.  Or if you're representing a lifestyle brand in sales that sells jeans or uses them to market their product.  If we want our guests to feel like they are getting market leader experience and service (because we do, and they are), jeans just don't reflect that.  At City, we shape our entire culture around the market leader experience, from dress code to coffee grounds.  We're tweaking systems and shifting processes a little bit all the time to make sure we're getting it right.  To me, dress code is the easiest way to elevate the level of service your guest experiences without ever changing a thing about the service itself.  What we wear says so much about who we are, who we're expecting and how we want to be viewed by the world. 

Simply put... it matters. 

Have we always operated this way?  NO.  When I first started working at City (almost two years before we bought), there was no dress code to be found.  Our owners weren't present - they lived across the country - and while we were a hip, major salon destination in our city, we were far from being the Market Leader.  Aside from "Look professional" and some notes on scandalous wear we didn't have clear, descriptive standards for the way we should dress in the workplace.  And guess how we dressed... blue jeans, tees, flip flops, hair in snot knots... we were casual, sure, but we were messy and inconsistent!  If you're a lazy employee, this is great news!  Low standards, low performance, no problem.  But if you're the bird that's out to get the worm, you're a Neiman Marcus pop-up shop in the middle of a Target.  And if you're the customer?  You're just downright confused.  We had a beautiful space that made, and still makes, most of our visitors envious.  We were using elite haircolor brands and an expensive retail haircare line but nothing about the way we looked reflected that.  (And, I can't be sure without looking back but I would dare say that our retail sales reflected that during that time as well.) 

Once we bought the business and started a major push to re-brand and build a market leader foundation, we pushed back just a touch on the dress code.  We cut some of the more casual items on paper and that lasted for a short while.  But then there were technicalities and grey areas and managing a system with so much room for interpretation became exhausting so... guess how well that system worked for us.  *Womp womp*  Simply put, it didn't!  We were back in casual wear in no time and our service was right there with it. 

Side note: I think my favorite borrowed thing to say about systems is this... Not having a system is still a system.  It's called chaos.  We were living in a system of chaos as it relates to how our people represent the brand we're killing ourselves to elevate. 

Over the next several months, I longed to make a more structured dress code happen.  But even I am a lover of color, pattern, texture.  I LOVE getting dressed.  And I love that my outfits say something about me to the people that I meet.  It makes getting dressed important.  You can tell where a person's value lies based on what they're wearing.  Do they value slow fashion?  Thoughtfully designed and durably made?  Or do they value fast fashion pieces from big box stores?  Quickly produced and pieced together for one season's wear?  At the time, I was also afraid of the roar I might hear if I cut blue jeans out of the daily fashion diet.  (Spoiler: At first, people will feel like you are taking away their personal style.  It's a lie, don't fall for it.) 

Fast forward to earlier this year and everything changed.  Our manager and I did a "trial" of sorts for the dress code and stuck to what would eventually be our code for 2-3 weeks before we were going to unveil the new structure.  Every. single. day. we got compliments from our team and our guests.  People noticed.  In a good way.  Words we heard a LOT of: professional, fancy, boss ladies, sharp.  Our behavior and our voices changed.  The way we spoke to each other and our team changed and the way our guests reacted to our processes changed.... and we had barely gotten started!

Dress code matters.  Your presentation matters.  Louis Vuitton does NOT matter.  And neither does Chanel.  This is in no way a conversation on brand snobbery.  The way you hold yourself when you wear pieces that are clean, durable and fit well?  That definitely matters.  Unity with your team, even in visual appearance, is a really big deal.  I could talk about all the ways this has changed our business in ways big and small for hours.  It was ONE SYSTEM and it changed so much.  (And we still have personal style out the wazoo.)

Our dress code is comprised of a strictly neutral palette - patterns and textures with any of the neutral colors allowed are great but we don't wear colored clothing, sneakers or any kind of denim.  Colored accessories are totally acceptable and encouraged.  So, a couple of weeks ago, we had our very first "casual" Friday where color was welcome and, begrudgingly, dark denim was okay.  I'll be honest, it felt like chaos.  And also Heaven!  For the first time in many months, I had no idea who was on our team by just doing a pass on the room.  But when we were all together chatting, the air was light.  Sure, we'd relaxed a little bit - too much for my taste in customer service - but it was good for our souls.  It also reminded me that while I love the way my blue jeans feel at the end of the week, I much prefer the way it feels to deliver great customer service from A to Z.  From what I'm wearing to our check out procedure. 

In August, we ran an intense customer service contest and those who met their customer service goals were granted full access to sneakers and black denim through the month of September.  Those of us who hit goal were pumped... for about five days.  And then we were back to dress code.  We know how it feels to be dressed professionally and we know how much our level of service benefits from even the simple act of getting dressed in the morning.  The comfort of denim and sneakers didn't outweigh the comfort of delivering great service and brand presence.  It was an incredibly interesting thing to watch and experience. 

Today and tomorrow, we're having a Colorful Weekend.  After yesterday's water main fiasco, I was craving the joy of color in my wardrobe!  But by the end of the day, I wanted my streamlined neutral palette back.  I love that when I'm getting dressed for work, I'm never worried about how I look in my clothes.  I know that they're quality pieces that look professional and fit me well.  Over the past several months (after reading Jen Hatmaker's 7), I've been capital P Purging my closet of things I don't wear and donating them to people who need them - things I've been holding on to since college ten years ago.  I'm on a quest to create a solid capsule wardrobe that fits our dress code but still allows for some color joy here and there. 

Tomorrow, I'll continue to go down this road a little farther because I believe that great business starts with getting dressed.  When you're killing yourself to build a brand and not just a business, this one thing seems silly but I promise it's so huge.  It's one system that has easily and efficiently managed the chaos of how we represent our brand as individuals and managed our starting point for great service.  I'll share the capsule wardrobe I'm building and how I'm keeping our neutral dress code fun and interesting with pattern, texture and lots of layering.  For a few days next week, I'll be sharing some OOTD's on my instagram if you want to follow along over there. 

Shine on!


Today was just one of those days.  And not one of those My-Feet-Hurt-And-I-Spilled-My-Coffee-Before-9-AM kind of days.  It was the kind of day that starts an hour earlier than any other normal, even rushed, day because your friend happened to call and let you know that there is a *clears throat* ginormous leak coming from the outside of your business. 

Honestly, we had no idea exactly how bad it was until we'd been staring at it for about an hour.  Then, two plus two equaled four and we called the water business office and every plumber in Athens until we found one who was A) Kind and B) Available A.S.A.P.  (On one of these 31 days I will probably write about our requirements for choosing local businesses to hire for the services that we need.  Spoiler: Kindness is key.) 

By eleven this morning, we were cancelling every guest's appointment for the rest of the day, extending hours for Saturday and silently writing the story that we'll tell about this day three months from now.  Let me tell you something... I hope that one underlying theme of these 31 days is that my team rules.  I could shout it from the mountaintop, if Athens had mountains.  Because three months from now, I don't have to hide a story of my people being angry or complaining about the less-than-awesome day our water main broke.  I get to tell this story...

The water main broke... We called a plumber... I lost my mind for a minute... I saw two black widows.  (The plumber called them Black Widow Babies... cue hilarity.)... I watched our water meter spin like Wheel of Fortune.... I freaked out again.  And weeped (but only a little).  Then, I got over it, got some beer, some Five Guys, we folded the couch down into a bed so we could spread out and work from "home."  Our desk coordinators handled everything with grace - calling plumber after plumber to find the right one or one that was available at all and waiting to do confirmations until we knew we'd be able to open today. 

Lots of things happened between the landlord, the plumbing company we'd brought out to help us figure out this mess (who we LOVED, by the way, if you need a recommendation in Athens, he's your dude), the plumbing company our landlord hired (the main man is, I'm not kidding, a dupe for Yosemite Sam), and the Water Business Office.  Let me tell you how kind and helpful the Water Business Office is... womp womp

A couple of amazing bonuses... I got to spend the rest of the afternoon catching up with my Inbox (praise!) and planning the rest of our Fall promotions with our new coordinator, a.k.a. Woman Who Handles Everything.  The day's circumstances led me to a few radical conversations with my friends over topics far and wide.  I got home early to kick my feet up and I ended the evening with our community group of college girls.  SUCH great conversations happened today in the little moments in between the chaos. 

Obviously, I'm counting positives here but you don't need me to pull back some magic curtain to know that this day sucked.  We lost money, our people lost money, our guests who we love so much were inconvenienced - some of them made these appointments many months ago, I had to take photos and check in to make sure nothing went wrong, I had to repeat myself no less than eight hundred times that no the leak did not happen inside dammit, and I'm still wondering if it's really even fixed at all.  Will we go to work tomorrow and do this all over again?  Will I end up in a crazy house because no one is listening to me?  All very real possibilities, friends.  Fortunately, the most likely possibility is that we will go to work and have to flush, re-flush and run water through our pipes for a while to get the Georgia red clay the heck outta there so we can do our business with clear, beautiful running water.

These are the days that make me grow weary running a business.  Yes, there are positives, every cloud has a silver lining, other people are going through truly devastating life change that can't be fixed by a plumber.  I get that.  I want this Write 31 Days to be fun, yes, and insightful, of course.  But, mostly, I just want this to be honest and what better way to kick it off than with a good, honest Sometimes Being a Business Owner Sucks, Hooray!

Carry on, friends.  See you tomorrow!

Coping and working my way through October's water main drama.

Coping and working my way through October's water main drama.


After yesterday's NotWedding feature on Ruffled, The NotWedding followed up with a recap of their very own!  Tons of gorgeous photos of all the styling, food and dancing on their post - check it out!  (And that CAKE!  I don't even like cake but that one makes me want a bite.) 

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography.  Invitation Suite, envelope liner and calligraphy by Dearest Olive.

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography.  Invitation Suite, envelope liner and calligraphy by Dearest Olive.


Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Yesterday, the 3rd Athens NotWedding event was featured over on the Ruffled Blog!  The only detail shot of my work for The NotWedding on their post is above so here are a few extras from the event that I've been dying to share!  Now that the Ruffled post is up we can share, share away!  (Hover on photos for photo credits.) 

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Kaitie Bryant Photography

Photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Photo by Poppy LaRue Photography

Photo by Poppy LaRue Photography

Photo by Poppy LaRue Photography

Photo by Poppy LaRue Photography

ELSEWHERE: #CityGirlsTakeover

At work, we've been doing a series on Instagram in which one of our staff members takes over the Instagram for a few days at a time.  This weekend, it's my turn and I'm posting over there about what's in my bag, little behind the scenes things and I did a Throwback Thursday post with some of my past Fall haircolor palettes.  Here are a couple of photos from my takeover so far and, as always, I'm still posting on my personal (@dearestolive) account, too. 

What's your favorite thing to see from a small business's Instagram?  Do you prefer shots of work, behind the scenes, getting to know the staff, etc.? 

What's in my bag, weekend edition.

What's in my bag, weekend edition.

Throwback Thursday: Fall haircolor palettes

Throwback Thursday: Fall haircolor palettes

When life gives you lemons, take 'em to Toomer's! (Limited Edition Print)

Hey, y'all!  I'm breaking the holiday silence over here with something I'm super excited about.  There's a LIMITED EDITION print over in the shop for all my Auburn fans out there! 

LIMITED EDITION "When life gives you lemons" print by Dearest Olive. 

LIMITED EDITION "When life gives you lemons" print by Dearest Olive. 

If you have to ask, "What is Toomer's?" then this is not the print for you.  ;)  But since you DID ask... Toomer's Corner is a beautiful, historic drugstore in the heart of Auburn AL that happens to make the best lemonade in all the South.  Auburn is my alma mater and, every year, in the Fall all the feelings of nostalgia wash over me, especially living in another big SEC college town.  Once the students come back and there is a vibrant, humming energy to the town again, my mind goes back to dorm rooms, Rainbow flip flops, pink highlighters, the invention of Facebook, orange and blue shakers, Moe's burritos, lots of lattes, Sunday night worship at the Wesley Foundation and, of course, Toomer's famous lemonade.  Okay, and also to Miller Lite.  Auburn, AL is The Land of Miller Lite.  But I'm quite certain  that I can actually SMELL Toomer's on kickoff day, even two hundred miles away.

Without any further ado... I'm so pumped about this little design!  A super fun company is also going to be launching this design (and many more) on totes and t-shirts in the coming week and I can't wait to tell you all about that, too! 

From now through the second week of September, a free digital download of a color AND a black and white Lock Screen is included with your print purchase.  Click here to see this print in the shop.

War Eagle!



Over on Instagram, I'm giving away a custom Dearest Olive piece of your choice.  It can be a custom piece or an item from the shop - your choice!

Behind the scenes note... when I'm calligraphing envelopes for something like The NotWedding, a styled shoot or for fun, I have to get creative with names and addresses.  Sometimes, I use friends and places I'd like to visit.  Other times, when creativity is low, I'll use a fake name generator which is actually kind of awesome - some hilarious fake people and places have come from that thing!  And, many times, I use people from my favorite stories or recent movies and books I've seen or read.  If you know Hazel Grace, head on over to Instagram (@dearestolive) and guess away.  :) 


Whew!  Oh, life.  How you get away from me.  So much is new and so many exciting things are happening at Dearest Olive.  We just had our Two Year Anniversary of new business at City Salon and I have post about all that and what I've learned and where we're going... but first, there is one thing I already have in this little queue that is a requested topic of the moment...

A few days ago, Athens Church hosted the Fall GroupLink event and, let me just say, I am SO jazz-hands-over-the-moon to get back into groups!  Three years ago, my Community Group changed my life.  Or, maybe I should say it changed my story.  I know, I sound totally dramatic but stick with me... these girls walked with me through my turning/re-turning point to God.  They were with me when our marriage was extra hard, even though they didn't know it then, and for the six months that we were business planning and preparing to buy City.  When Paul was at Emory with Medical Mystery 2012, they constantly checked in, brought me food at work, and prayed for us behind the scenes.  They surprised me with gifts at work on the hardest birthday of my life, supported us in the early months of taking on a business and provided a safe place for my fragile, worrying heart in that time.  A year later, we went back to GroupLink to add more members to our lovely group and the love and community grew even bigger and now I have some VIP friends in my life to call on when things are extra good or extra hard and to intercede for me when I start believing lies about myself or this life.  And when my actions are sideways and unbecoming of the woman they know I want to be, you better believe they're all up in my grill giving me wisdom and advice when I invite them to do so.  Never judging, always loving.  You guys... when I GOT A LETTER FROM MY BIRTH MOTHER, I shared it with my community group before I even shared it with my dearest friends. 

At the end of last year, I took a little break from community groups because my plate was just way. too. full. of junk and Schedule Stuffers to realistically balance work life, family, and still find time to pack lunches and stay healthy.  Many "No's" later, my schedule is pretty consistent, my plate has a lot more room for the healthy things to happen and I am missing community oh so much!  As any community group alum will likely tell you... life is better connected!  Circles are always, always better than rows and I'm excited to be back.

One thing that's different this time around is that my friend, Lacey, and I are leading a college girls group one night a week.  Lacey and I actually met in our old girls community group and we've been friends ever since.  We are so different - she is really good at the things I struggle with like emailing the group, organizing our topics and our schedule, etc.  I'm so glad that she's the person I get to partner with in a college group!  One of our other old community group friends requested that I blog about the journey of facilitating a group/getting back into community and, thus, here we are. 

We met our girls on Sunday night and they are all so beautiful and fun.  Many of them are first-timers to community group which makes me excited!  I can't wait to see them find the joy in community.  We haven't told stories yet, obviously, but I can already sense that their paths have been very different and I can't wait to see their stories collide and start something new. 

Things I totally cannot share on this journey: the stories of others, life circumstances of our sweet girls, etc.  It is so important to me that we create a space that is safe, built on trust and completely confidential.  (That is my favorite thing about group: it is a SAFE place for anyone and any circumstance!)

Things I totally CAN share: My feelings, what I'm learning, our experience with facilitating and leading and how we're figuring it out.  Realistically, this series won't be many, many parts.  It will be sporadic and filled with our experience as we go but I hope it will be helpful or inspiring to someone who is feeling the call to facilitate a group.

Things I know right now: I feel grateful but also completely unequipped for this role.  I know that it's right and good and that Lacey and I are there for a reason - our stories are about to intersect with a dozen girls that we just met and that is so super cool.  Our plan is to lead for a period of time and transition into a facilitator role as quickly as possible.  We plan to do that through some structured steps and by simply being present, showing up (mentally and physically) and creating a place of trust and consistency.  I've been reading Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and while it's talking more to leaders of preschoolers, children and high schoolers, it is all 100% applicable to where we are right now.  Great resource for anyone leading or facilitating a group!

I can't wait to share more as we go!  I hope this will be helpful to anyone who is thinking about leading a college group but feels unequipped or who feels like it's a right and good time to get into community with real people. 

ELSEWHERE: The Not Wedding Blog // Athens Styled Shoot


The Not Wedding just featured our Styled Shoot for the 3rd Athens NotWedding that's coming up THIS Thursday!  I can't believe it's already here - time is FLYIN', y'all!  I don't even know what day it is.  (No, seriously... what day is it?) 

Click over for Chelsea's take on the vibe of the styled shoot and for more pretty photos from the day at Canvas Studio.  (Also, Canvas Studio is now open for renting/workshoppin'/photographin' - the space is beautiful and just feels really good.  Check it.)

Photo by Poppy La'Rue Photography.  Calligraphy papercut by Dearest Olive.  Shibori linen by Alanah Textiles. 

Photo by Poppy La'Rue Photography.  Calligraphy papercut by Dearest Olive.  Shibori linen by Alanah Textiles


No better way to kick off the early part of the weekend than by linking up!  Weddings in Athens is doing a series of posts on the Styled Shoot for the upcoming 3rd Athens Not Wedding.  Part 1 is up on their blog, featuring behind the scenes pictures of all of us prepping the shoot and wiggling things around to be just so.  Check it out here.  Stay tuned to their blog for parts two and three!

This weekend, I'm going to my TEN YEAR high school reunion.  Ten years is really just a blink of the eye!