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

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.

Happy Birthday To Me & Year In Review

Today is my birthday y’all! I’m still on a blog break but just wanted to stop in for my normal end of the month recap.

Ciera Sitting On Oak Tree With Balloons

I decided that I should recap the whole year instead of just December, so without further ado here are some of the most popular posts from the year! It was really fun to look back at all of these posts!

Ciera-Design-Year-In-Review

Popular Posts in 2013:

Do It Yourself Macrame Friendship Bracelets
How To Stay Productive
The Business Cards of Alt Summit
Roam If You Want To Freebies
Naive Font Favorite
How To Make Geometric Felt Coasters
– Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Growing Your Blog Through Social Media
Ombre Cluster Necklace DIY

Ciera Design Elsewhere in December:

Merry and Bright Freebie featured on Glitter and Bow
– Sprucing Up Your Branding featured on 8 posts for smart-working, creative-types
Geometric Felt Coasters on Brit + Co 
The Best Memories Are Handmade freebie on Whimseybox 

Thank you so much to everyone who has shared my content this year! I also want to give a special thank you to Mariah and Melissa for being amazing contributors this year!

If you haven’t yet, please fill out my 2013 reader survey! 

One more note, I have simplified my sidebar ad options for 2014! One size at one very affordable price!

On Generosity and Selfless Giving

I have introduced Dedra from Prettiful Designs to you all a few times in the past and she is here today talking about her experiences with generosity and selfless giving. Check out Dedra’s shop, blog and Facebook.

 Open your eyes to the possibilities around you.

I’ve been thinking and thinking what amazing topic I could share on Ciera’s blog. I’m so grateful she keeps letting me blog hop. I think I post more on her blog than my own! I had several ideas to write about but the one that sticks with me the most is generosity, or selfless giving.

My daughter had her first school fundraiser recently. She was so excited to help out her school (I don’t even think she understood that there are prizes for the best sellers). She just really wants her school to be a better place….but, no one will buy anything from her. It’s $1 for a chocolate bar or a jerky stick and you get it immediately. C’mon, it’s $1. I got to thinking a lot about this experience. What does it tell a child when they are trying to do something and no one will support them? How does it feel when adults only say “No” Or I can’t afford that? What does that teach them about money?

We went through some pretty darn hard times in our not too distant past. We lived on dry food storage for a year. It was miserable. Our family knows what tough times are but I still found ways to be generous (even if it was only a dollar here or there) because I’m not just buying a candy bar or donating to pay for someone’s medical fund. I’m investing in people. Real live human beings that need a chance and they need to feel loved.

When I started my Etsy shop I asked friends and family to simply put in a plug for me on Facebook or my blog. I even offered some pretty sweet things in return. They didn’t even have to buy anything but NO one would help me! It was pretty disheartening and it took a while for my shop to get started because getting those first few sales is really the hardest. So, I now make it a point to try to buy something from my friends when they start new endeavors. Sometimes money is too tight and I take a rain check but sometimes I give up something else I want so I can help them and then we are both the better for it.

I wasn’t always this generous. I met a new friend about 7 years back that showed me what generosity means. Often times I found people commenting on something awesome she had like a necklace or a bag and she would say, oh I’d love for you to have it and while they blinked she would hand it to them. When we went to parties, instead of sitting down to enjoy herself, she would go straight to the kitchen and start pitching in. She even gave her car away instead of trading it in because she said the kid needed it. Wow. I was the one turning down every school kid that came to my door and here my friend is giving cars away. She really helped open my eyes.

Money can’t buy everything. We all know that. But we CAN use our money to do more and to serve instead of only being a slave to it. I don’t have any specific agenda here. I’m not going to ask you for any money or tell you a charity to donate to. I just hope that the people who take the time to read this will open their eyes even more to the possibilities around them–The possibilities of the amazing things a little bit of money or a helping hand can do.

Circles Conference 2013

Jasmine and I have been busy planning Made In Mind’s October Social (which is tomorrow, come if you can!) so it somehow took me a month to get this post up, oops!

Design Your Life Hand Drawn Type

Last month I got to attend Circles Conference in Grapevine, Texas. As described by the founder, it’s a place to learn from world-changing thinkers and innovators for the creative community. It was amazing. So inspiring. The main message I took away was to design my own life. Figure out what will make me feel satisfied and happy and create that life for myself. You can’t see someone else’s life and say “Hey, I want that life” you have to make it for yourself!

Circles A Creative Conference Inspire Create Repeat by Bethany Marie

Two days packed with meeting new people and listening to inspiring talks from amazing creatives across multiple disciplines. It was great to meet people who were previously only Twitter friends, as well as make plenty of wonderful new friends.

Circles Conference Megan Gilger Create Wildly by Bethany Marie

It turned out that Justin Shiels, a fellow New Orleanian, was attending so we got to know each other better! Blog buddy and fellow graphic designer Patti was nice enough to let me crash in her room. It was really fun hanging out and sharing stories of running our own businesses. I also got to meet Ismael Burciaga (the event coordinator) who has been an online friend for a few years now. It was wonderful to meet him in person, he is so talented and generous and was a great host! And then I met the lovely Joanna Waterfall who happened to be on my flight home for a vacation in New Orleans for a few days!

Josh Hensley at Circles Conference by Bethany Marie

The thing I loved most was that the speakers told their personal stories. It was very honest and genuine and no one was scared to share their struggles which was very refreshing to hear. It was great to hear so many talented people talking about their personal journey and not just telling us their design process. It was nice to take it all in and learn from their experiences. The intimacy was something you don’t get at larger conferences.

Circles Conference Program Mug Sticker by Bethany Marie

The after party was also a blast, we got some good Texas BBQ and it was great to mingle outside of the conference setting.

Do What You Love - Jeff Sheldon of Ugmonk - Circles Conference by Bethany Marie

Another plus is that Circles is very affordable compared to a lot of conference and since it’s in Texas the travel was affordable for me too! I definitely recommend attending next year! I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite quotes from different speakers on the blog in the future!

Crowd at Circles Conference by Bethany Marie

All photos courtesy of Bethany Marie Photography, a very talented lady who I got to have lunch with one of the days at the conference!

Four Years of Blogging!

When I started my blog, I could have never imagined where it would be today! Since I’m celebrating four years of blogging this month, I thought I’d give y’all a little history of how it all got started. Then for the rest of the month I will have some other special posts and surprises for y’all!

Ciera Design Four Year Blogiversary

In 2009, I had been at my agency job for a few years and I wasn’t really feeling satisfied by the design work I was doing anymore. I decided to start a blog to get some of my ideas out. It started as a photo dump. I would post my random iPhone pictures with a little caption and might expand a little here and there. I had no plan and no organization. Soon after, I left my job to start my own business and I knew that I needed to create a portfolio site that potential clients could check out. So in 2010 I decided to take my site and blog to the next level. I started posting on a regular basis with relevant and consistent content. It has been growing ever since into what you see today!

I love networking and meeting new people who I probably would have never had contact with if not for blogging. In January, blog friend and contributor, Mariah and I roomed together at Alt Summit and at Circles Conference last month I got to be roomies and hang out with another blog buddy, Patti! I love hearing about adventures of other bloggers who work for themselves and love following along with other creatives!

One of my favorite opportunities that has come from starting this blog was being able to attend Alt Summit this year! It was SO inspiring! When I walked into the Bing It To Life Lounge at Alt Summit the LAST thing I expected to see was my travel map pin board, but there it was, and it was huge! Bing took submissions of ideas to showcase and my DIY creation was chosen to come to life! It was really special to see bloggers from all over interacting with my idea and pinning their business cards to the map! It was so surreal to see it all over Instagram and it was such a cool way to see where everyone was from.

I’m always trying to take this blog to the next level and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the next four years! Thank you so much to all of my readers for encouraging me, challenging me to keep creating unique content and for all of your comments over the years, it really means the world to me!

Jasmine took these photos for me.