Ciera Design Studio Brand development and design solutions for creative businesses and passionate entrepreneurs - page 6

Back To Basics

I’ve been working to clean out my closet and create a more streamlined and cohesive wardrobe. My wardrobe has been neglecting for too long now! My sister and I had a huge garage sale last weekend and set up a shop my closet account on Instagram to clear old stuff out of our closets. When doing this, I realized that I’m missing a lot of simple black basics that would really help to tie my other pieces together! My black jeans have faded, I have never owned a leather jacket even though I’ve always wanted one and I’m in desperate need of a little black dress! Here are a few basics that need to make it into my closet ASAP! Do you have any basic items that you can’t live without?

Black Wardrobe Basics

Leather Biker Jacket / Studded Leather Crossbody Purse / Oversized Cashmere Scart / Wayfarer Sunglasses / Box Pleat Leather Skirt / Ponti Ruched Dress / Black Skinny Jeans / Leather Kinsey Boots / Scoop Tee

This post was sponsored by Scoop NYC but all opinions are my own. Scoop NYC is now an Ultimate Closet Warehouse Sale where some items are up to 80% off!

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That’s A Wrap: January

Wow y’all, January was kind of crazy… I found out that my sister is moving to New York, had a huge stylin’ garage sale, started a shop my closet account on Instagram, New Orleans had a snow day and I planned my first art market (which is tomorrow!) for The Made In Mind Social. And that doesn’t even include anything that happened in the studio or on the blog…

Popular Blog Posts in January

On the Blog

I’m Ready To Take On 2014
Out & About at Homestead
Valentine’s Day Freebie
Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar
How To Expand Your Small Business
Sweet Tea & Co. Logo and Branding
The Font Feast Presents Kale Berry Smoothies
The Most Popular Fonts of 2013

In the Studio

I wrapped up the logo & branding for Sweet Tea & Co., a unique tea party experience for little girls. The client and I are both thrilled with how it turned out! I’m currently taking on new clients! If you know what you need feel free to get a head start by filling out a project request, or just email me!

In the Shop

I added a new art print and some new Valentine’s Day items!

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

I shared what it’s like in my kitchen on Lulu the Baker, check it out! January’s desktop wallpaper freebie available for download on Whimseybox! My DIY Geometric Coasters were featured on The FriskyVery Shannon included my DIY Air Plant Globes in a very beautiful roundup!

From The Archives

Superbowl Related:
DIY Football Jersey
16 Amazing Grilled Cheese Recipes
Pico de Gallo Recipe
Homemade French Fries

Valentine’s Related:
Red Hot Valentine DIY
Love Potion Font
Brand Spotlight: One Love Organics
Desktop Freebies here and here

Click here to find out about sponsoring the blog!

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10 Ways To Expand Your Small Business

Today I’m excited to join the Jump Blog Tour, hosted by Stephanie Hall and Ashley Wilhite, the co-creators of Jump: Into your business, your life, your dream, a must-have digital guide for new coaches and creatives. They believe in the transformational power of taking the jump and creating a business you love. This all-inclusive eBook will teach you how to start a business, find your niche, brand like a pro, and make the jump with confidence.

10 Ways To Expand Your Small Business

For those of you who don’t know how I made the jump, I’ll give you a little background. I got a job right out of college at a great advertising agency and gained a lot of experience in my four years there. However, a time came when I was no longer growing or enjoying the type of work I was doing so I decided it was time to move on. Rather than looking for a position at another agency, I decided to go freelance and pursue the type of work I was interested in. I started getting connections by doing pro bono work while I still had my agency job and it transitioned into full-time freelancing in 2010. 

Over the years, I have been slowly branching out and really trying to perfect my dream business. First of all, I don’t want to have all of my eggs in one basket. If I happen to have a slow month with custom design clients, I want something else ready to supplement my income. I’m also not just going to sit around and wait for people to come to me with work. Each year I continue to branch out and expand my business. Here are ten things that can help you to expand your small business:

1. Grow your offerings, products and services

Think of new and different ways can you serve your customers. Maybe you can add entry and advanced levels to your current options. Think of logical extensions of what you currently offer. You want to keep your clients coming back for more, so what else can you offer them?

2. Take a class

I am continuously learning about design and striving to be better. Taking local classes also doubles as networking but if you don’t have access to any, there are some amazing resources online! My favorites are Skillshare and Lynda.

3. Create a passive income stream

It’s really great to have some income, with little effort required to maintain it. You could sell products on Etsy, use affiliate marketing, sell digital files, downloads or ebooks.

4. Start a blog or new blog post series

Blogging not only helps with SEO but is also an amazing way to get your business out there and position yourself as an expert in your field. Guest blogging is also a great way to get your name out to an expanded market. Not convinced? Read Why You Should Have a Blog For Your Business.

5. Network and collaborate

While online networking is great, you should also really get yourself out there and network in person! Attend a conference or find a local meet-up. Networking is also a good way to find people to collaborate with. If your city doesn’t have a local meet-up, see how to start your own here!

6. Do Pro Bono Work 

As I mentioned, I started my business by doing pro bono work. This made me realize that I love helping my community, small businesses, creatives and entrepreneurs. So I continue to work with clients that I stand behind and that have a positive impact on the community. Not only has this given me a great deal of personal satisfaction, but also so many new connections!

7. Step out of your comfort zone

If your client work doesn’t allow you to do this, start a personal project to spark your creativity. I use my blog freebies to explore design techniques and new ideas. Take on a project that may be out of your comfort zone if it’s something you’ve been wanting to learn about. Remember that you don’t have to add everything to your portfolio just because you did it.

8. Ask for help

You can’t do it all, hire people to do certain things for you and learn to say no to the things you are not interested in. This gives you the time and energy to do the things you love!

9. Teach

This could be as simple as writing a blog post or a more extensive option like writing an e-book, teaching a Skillshare class or even speaking at a conference.

10. Expand client base

Your small business may have great brand awareness in your community, but what’s involved in expanding that awareness to a much larger market? Getting new customers is essential to growing your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask your current customers for referrals. Testimonials from clients are important because without them, potential clients don’t always know your credibility or what you’re like to work with. It’s someone’s outside perspective that gives them the confidence to buy from you instead of moving on to the next website. Here are a few ways to get really great testimonials

Jump Blog Tour

Tell me in the comments below how you are thinking about branching out your business.

P.S. I got to check out a draft of the ebook and it has some amazing stuff in it y’all! Learn all about Jump: Into your business, your life, your dream and pre-order today!

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Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Rubbermaid and Sharpie but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #RubbermaidSharpie  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

The Super Bowl is less than a week away y’all! I’m bummed that the Saints didn’t make it this year, but I still like to watch the big game for the commercials and as an excuse to throw a party! I love a good Bloody Mary while watching football but a Bloody Mary Bar is even more fun and perfect for a party since everyone can customize their own drink! You can make your own Bloody Mary Bar in a few simple steps.

Bloody Mary Bar Sign with Sharpie Markers

As a fun backdrop, roll out a big piece of kraft paper and use Sharpie markers to write out all of the ingredients you’ll be offering your guests. My friend Ashlee did the drawing while I prepared the ingredients. The new brush tip Sharpie worked really well for the lettering.

Bloody Mary Bar

Next you’ll need your main ingredients; vodka and Bloody Mary mix. My favorite mix is Zing Zang and I also like to have hot sauce, worcestershire, Tony’s and celery salt incase anyone wants to doctor it up. Then the fun part, your garnishes! I have to include pickled spicy beans in my Blood Mary and some other garnishes I like are green olives, celery, lemon, lime, cherry tomatoes, pickles, bell peppers and pickled okra. Some people get real crazy and add shrimp, cheese cubes and even bacon!

Bloody Mary Bar Ingredients

Put out some toothpicks and each of your garnishes in Rubbermaid storage containers for easy access. This also makes cleanup super easy on you!

Bloody Mary Bar Ingredients Sign

And here’s some exciting news for all you Target lovers: they offer mobile coupons! From January 25th to February 8th text the word COUPONS to TARGET (type TARGET in where you would text to a phone number) and you will receive $1 off both Rubbermaid Storage Containers and Sharpie 4 pack or larger! Do you have any party plans for the Super Bowl?
 
Thank you for supporting this blog by allowing me to post occasional sponsored content. All sponsored posts feature products or services that I truly feel would be of interest to you.

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Love Is All You Need – Free Valentine’s Day Printable

Valentine's Day  Pattern Printable on Chalkboard

Cristin of Simplified Bee asked me to design a Valentine’s freebie for her blog readers based around some super cute pencils that she had. I decided to create some simple patterns using slightly different colors than your average red and pink. Head over to her blog to download this freebie and to see how you can add feathers to the pencils for an extra special touch!

Valentine's Day Printable Freebies with Personalized Pencils

Valentine's Day Printable Freebies with Personalized Pencils

Valentine's Day Patterns

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The Font Feast Presents Kale Berry Smoothies

Kale Berry Smoothie Recipe Inspired by Raleway Font

It seems like eating better is at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolution list, and really, it’s no wonder. I think a brand new year inspires us to find our best selves, and after the treats and sweets and snacks of the holidays, everybody is ready for fresh, healthy foods. I’ve been having smoothies for breakfast every single day (okay, fine, except Saturdays and Sundays) since January 1st, and I’m really liking this change! It gets me eating breakfast, which we all know is the most important meal of the day, and gives me the chance to load up on fruits and veggies and superfoods and vitamins, and all that good-for-you stuff. We’ve done a little experimenting here and there over the past two weeks, and this Kale Berry Smoothie is my favorite smoothie creation to date. It’s packed with goodness (Kale, people!), and is sweet and delicious.

I have to admit that I chose a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek font to go with these smoothies: Raleway. You probably don’t get the connection yet, so let me explain. Raleway is a great all-purpose font, smooth and sleek, and it comes in lots of weights, ranging from Heavy to Thin. See?? It goes perfectly with healthy smoothies and New Year’s resolutions!

Kale Berry Smoothies

Kale Berry Smoothies inspired by Raleway Thin

1 banana
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
kale (I use 3 big black kale or dinosaur kale leaves.)
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
100% apple juice (I start with a generous splash and work up from there.)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir as necessary. You will still see blackberry and raspberry seeds, but you shouldn’t have any visible green bits.

P.S. Ciera was over on Lulu the Baker last week sharing what it’s like in her kitchen, check it out!

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