Minted Eye of the Beholder Art Challenge

I recently joined the Minted design community and submitted a few designs to their Eye of the Beholder Art Challenge! For those of you who are not familiar, Minted crowd-sources design and art from a global community of independent designers, then sells their best designs as products such as stationery, wall art, and décor for the home and holidays. If you’d like to see Minted sell my designs as art prints, just head over to vote and give them a 5 for me! If they get enough votes, Minted will add them to their shop, and with multiple color variations as well! Just click on the photos below to bring you right to the listing on Minted. You’ll have to quickly sign up for a Minted.com account before you can vote but it’s super easy. Please pass this along and share away on social media if you’d like to support my designs! Thank you so much – as always, I appreciate your support!

Minted-Eye-Of-The-Beholder-1-Make-Time

Minted-Eye-Of-The-Beholder-2-Do-More

Minted-Eye-Of-The-Beholder-3-Summer-Days

What I Wore // Working At The Coffee Shop

I thought it’d be fun to tell y’all my history with PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, my favorite coffee of all time! It was founded with a single shop in 1978 and has spread throughout the Greater New Orleans area, then the Southeast and has even made it to other parts of the United States including California.

My grade school was only a few blocks away from the original location on Maple Street, so in 7th and 8th grade we used to walk there after school and hang out in their courtyard. Then in high school my best friend lived next door to a PJ’s which we frequented at least once, sometimes twice a day. I don’t even want to know how much money I spent there during those four years! Now I’m back in the Maple Street area and their iced coffees are still my absolute favorite coffee, ever, anywhere! Not to mention their amazing spinach and feta croissants and a granita when I really want to treat myself!

Most days I make coffee at home to save money but I get cravings for their yummy coffee all the time and I usually give in… hey, I deserve it! I also love to go and work from their courtyard every once in a while when the weather is nice. Crazy how constant some things in life can be! And just excuse my bitchy resting face in the third photo.

Ciera Holzenthal with MacBook Pro at Coffee Shop

Ciera Holzenthal with MacBook Pro at Coffee Shop Courtyard

Graphic Designer with MacBook Pro and Coffee In Courtyard

Striped Dress, Brown Leather Purse and Coffee

Ciera Holzenthal with MacBook Pro and Coffee

Shop Similar

Photos by Hannah Colclazier

Creative Events I’d Like To Attend

Creative Events I'd Like To Attend

There are so many awesome creative events across the country it’s unbelievable! I see people recapping them on their blogs and I hear about them on Twitter but I always seem to be late to the game on the ones I want to attend. So in an attempt to organize the ones I want to attend, I decided to start a list (surprise, surprise) organized by month. There is no way I’ll be able to attend them all this year, probably only one or two, but here is my wish list:

Alt SLC Summer

Alt Summit just announced a second flagship conference and I want to be there! I attended Alt SLC in January 2013 and it was such an amazing time that I’d love to experience again. I’m thinking about applying to be a speaker, but so nervous!

Creative South

Creative South exposes creative and marketing professionals, business people, and students to key speakers on the subject of branding and design in the digital era. I’ve been trying to find more events in the South since it cuts down on travel cost for me and this one seems awesome!

Design Ranch

Design Ranch isn’t one of those slide-and-lecture “big conferences,” it’s about putting down your mouse, getting your hands dirty and reviving your creative spirit. They want attendees to head home with a fire in their belly and a fresh take on design that can only be achieved by unplugging and gettin’ a little dirty. I don’t know too much about this one but it seems really cool and it’s in the South, so that’s a plus! 

How Design Live

HOW Design Live is the biggest annual gathering of creative professionals, anywhere. I have been wanting to attend HOW for years now, it’ll happen one day!

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

Weapons of Mass Creation is a young grassroots movement to inspire and enable the creative mind. They believe that good things happen when ideas and talents are shared within the community. This mentality manifests itself in the lifestyle of a Weapon of Mass Creation. A person who defies the hand they’re dealt and makes stuff happen. 

Designer Vaca

Designer Vaca is a gathering of female graphic and web designers from all over the country to dream, relax, collaborate, share experiences, and learn from each other. This intimate environment has a relaxed anti-conference feel creating space for amazing connections and beautiful relationships to take place. So bummed I didn’t go to this last year, but I had just returned home from Palm Springs and couldn’t justify the travel costs at the time.

The Yellow Conference

The Yellow Conference is a brand new event created by Joanna Waterfall. It’s a gathering for creative women who desire to ignite passion and bring goodness to the world through everyday living.

Circles

Circles is a creative conference where designers can learn from world-changing thinkers and innovators for the creative community. I attended Circles 2013 and this is another one I’d love to attend again. 

Maiedae Mixer

Maiedae Mixer is another Southern event that looks like SO much fun! This is a “Get Fancy, Get Connected” (as they like to call it) networking event for bloggers.

Do you have any events on your wish list? Do you have an event you’ve attended that you recommend?

If you can’t make it to any of these big events, you can always find smaller meet-ups in your area… and if you don’t have any around, start your own

Photo by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Snapshots of my Desk

I took these photos a while back but realized I never posted them here on the blog. So here you go, a little peek at my workspace on a clean day! A few things you can find on my desk on an average day are my glasses, a planner, notebooks and a Pantone mug filled with coffee. So now you know what I look like while blogging or working on a design project (except for the days when I work in my pajamas).

Ciera Design Studio - Desk In Workspace

Ciera Design Studio - Desk In Workspace

Ciera Design Studio - Desk In Workspace

Ciera Design Studio - Desk In Workspace

Jasmine snapped the photos of me.

10 Ways To Expand Your Small Business

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.

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

Let’s Do This

Let's Do This Hand Lettered Art Print

I’m back from my blog break and I want to start the new year with total honestly. A few months ago I realized that I was in a rut. I was feeling like I didn’t get enough accomplished during the year. I had too many ideas and didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in or where I should put my time and energy. I have always felt confident in my design work but I was feeling a little lost managing everything. 

I didn’t feel like I was reaching my ideal clients and I was getting worried that my site wasn’t portraying my services the best way possible. I was posting quality content to my blog but it somehow felt random and focused on the short-term. I decided that I needed help, I didn’t want to feel lost in my own business anymore.

That is where Ashley of Your Super Awesome Life came in! I told Ashley my concerns and she had me fill out a business assessment. Once I answered some questions on paper, we had a Skype session where we talked through what was working and what was not and what I really wanted for my blog and business.

I was actually a little surprised at how well she communicated and understood what I was going after even though she isn’t an insider to my business or blog. I felt totally comfortable talking to her and suddenly everything that was spinning in my head made sense again.

At the end of our first session Ashley helped me to come up with an action plan that covered the main points we discussed and mapped out all of the steps to begin making my goals a reality. We wanted to get really clear on what I wanted my business to look like moving forward. All of my goals suddenly seemed so attainable.

  • After our first session, I updated my services page, I still have some work to do here, but I think it’s a much more clear representation of the design services I offer. I’m currently taking on clients so feel free to reach out!
  • I created an end of the year reader survey to find out what y’all want to see more of here on the blog in 2014! If you haven’t taken it yet, the survey is still open. Until I take some time to review all of the responses, I’m going to take it slow and post content here very intentionally.
  • I’m also starting to reach out to blogs to guest post on, so let me now if you are looking for some guest contributors in 2014!

A few weeks later we had a follow-up call to make sure I was on track. I still have a lot of work to do to accomplish the actions we came up with but I feel like I’m back on the right path! It wasn’t easy for me to reach out for help but this year I really want to take my business to the next level and after Ashley’s sessions I’m ready and confident to take on 2014, so let’s do this!

2014 Let’s Do This art print available for sale on Etsy.