Meet The Brand: Vowed Box Co.

Since January, I’ve spent my nights and weekends at work on a side business that started as an idea in 2016 and was birthed into existence at the end of March. Yeah, I know…another business! Did you *really* think I’d give up side hustles just because I brought my business full-time? Nah, never. World, meet Vowed Box Co. – curated, no-nonsense gift boxes for no-nonsense brides.

Let me give you a little backstory: the year was 2016, and I’d just gotten engaged. I’d never grown up dreaming of my wedding day, and I knew that the over-the-top wedding scene wasn’t my vibe.

I wanted gift boxes to ask my friends to be my bridesmaids, but none in the market were meeting my needs: something brash, bold and not full of glitter, cursive and frills. Around the same time, my friends mentioned that they had a hard time finding bridal gifts that would suit our friend group – everything was a little too polished, perfect and girly. Certainly not us!

The idea nagged me for the last year and a half, and this January I decided to do something about it. I launched an Instagram for Vowed Box Co. and posted a box mock-up before a product even existed...just to gauge interest. The response was overwhelming: followers were EXCITED that there was going to be a gift box catered toward the non-traditional bride. All the while offline, I was giving myself a crash course in packaging design, sourcing wholesale products, managing inventory, shipping and learning the ins and outs of sales tax. And running my full-time business. It was (and is) nuts! 

So today, here we are. I’m scared, excited and exhausted all at once finally sharing this idea-turned-reality. I learned three really big things during this process, and I want to share them with you, too: 


1. Don’t wait to start until you’re “ready” – because you’ll never start. Start when you have an idea that excites you, and learn everything else along the way. I’m still learning what “margin” really means...

2. Don’t care about what other people think (this is hard for me). There were so many times when I told myself that this idea didn’t make sense for my brand, or that I didn’t have any place throwing my hat into the wedding industry. Wrong!

3. Try cool sh*t, see what sticks and move on. This business may not stick. Sure, I’ll be sad if it doesn’t – but I tried, and I’ll never regret that.
 

 

Meet The Brand: Legacy Care LLC

When it comes to entrusting the care of your loved ones to an entity other than yourself, building trust, confidence and assurance is key. The team at Legacy Care LLC – a St. Louis-based home care service provider – came to me seeking a full brand identity and website design that radiated their core values – compassion, safety and trust – at every touchpoint. 

We worked together to design a calming and cohesive brand identity for Legacy Care LLC that will help set the company apart from other service providers, while also providing a seamless user experience for website visitors who may be seeking individualized care for their loved ones.

Learn more about Legacy Care LLC's brand identity and web design process below!
 

 Legacy Care LLC Home Care | Brand Identity and Web Design

Legacy Care LLC's website entails a simple, easy-to-navigate homepage with all relevant details, as well as separate pages that detail the company's history, services and employment opportunities.

 Legacy Care LLC Home Care | Brand Identity and Web Design

Conveying compassion, safety and warmth through the use of color was key in determining Legacy Care LLC's brand identity. This was achieved by pairing darker shades of purple with custard and warm terra cotta hues.

 
 Legacy Care LLC Home Care | Brand Identity and Web Design

3 Instagram Story Prompts To Engage Your Audience

 3 Instagram Story Prompts To Engage Your Audience

It's time for me to make a little confession: when Instagram Stories were first unveiled, I refused to use them. I didn't see the point – wasn't Instagram enough as it already was? Nearly a year and a half later, I post to my story daily and it's worked wonders for my business.

You may have seen templated Instagram Story prompts going around on Instagram, which allow you to essentially "fill in the blanks" about yourself to share bits and pieces of your life with your audience. These have caught on like wildfire, and they're helping us connect like never before!

Lucky for you, I have three free Instagram Story prompts for business owners and creatives waiting for you below. But first? Here's why I think you should use them:
 

1. Your Instagram Story doesn't have to be as curated as your feed...so why not have fun with it?

Post silly GIFs, share Boomerang videos of yourself being weird – it will be gone in 24 hours' time, anyway. The same goes for my Story prompts: they're fun and allow you to show your silly side.

2. Sometimes it's hard to find things to share about yourself with your audience

You know those days where you feel like you should post something to Instagram...but don't know where to start? These Instagram Story prompts will help you put yourself out there.

3. These prompts will make you look cool (JK – kind of!)

If you know me, you know that I believe in well-designed...everything. These three Instagram Story prompts are sleek, fun and will have you sharing more about yourself in no time.

 

'You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be': A Recap of My Create & Cultivate LA Experience

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

As I write this, I’m at 40,000 feet flying home from Los Angeles to St. Louis and coming down from one of the biggest event highs I’ve ever experienced. I attended this year’s Create & Cultivate LA gathering over the weekend, where over 1,000 women in creative industries gathered to learn from the best of the best in blogging, fashion, marketing, design and more.

One of my biggest 2018 goals for my business was to attend one creative conference per quarter, so Create & Cultivate LA seemed to perfectly fit the bill for Q1. After seeing fun highlights from previous C&C conferences in Seattle and New York City, I grabbed my ticket as soon as they went on sale and booked my flight – hello, sunny California!

Have you ever considered attending a C&C event yourself? I hope you find this blog post helpful! I’ll be breaking down core parts of the conference below, as well as a recap of my pros and cons of attending at the end. Regarding the pros and cons – this is simply my subjective commentary! Every conference attendee will certainly have a different outlook on their experience.

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

 

Conference Arrival + Morning Sessions

You get your bang for your buck when it comes to attending a C&C conference – our day kicked off at 8 a.m. and ran until well after 9 p.m.! I arrived along with my friends Lisa of Lark Skin Co. and Myray of Myray Creative a bit before 8 a.m., where we checked in and were segmented by tracks. 

I was in Track 2, which focused on influencer marketing, content creation and social media best practices. The additional Track 1 of the conference focused on entrepreneurship and business best practices, finance tips and more. Since I’m a business owner who is also a content creator, I would have been happy in either track!

Once check-in was complete, attendees got to treat themselves to an array of healthy breakfast options along with unlimited kombucha (yassss!), coconut water, coffee and tea. Quick grab and go snacks were also available for attendees who may have been in a rush and didn’t want to sit and eat. 

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

Before heading into the first sessions of the day, I took time to take in my surroundings – and wow, were they gorgeous! C&C had every nook and cranny of the event space fully branded and looking amazing, with hundreds of Instagram-worthy spots to snap a photo. 

My morning panel sessions included Podcasting 101 and Never Not Posting, two great sessions about rocking it at podcasting and keeping up with the ever-evolving and ever-demanding world of social media. Each panel had a ton of great women included, including one of my favorite – Jen Gotch, founder of ban.do!

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap


Afternoon Vendors + Beauty Bar

After a few sessions I was feeling a little tired – and hungry. I popped back over to the food tent area to grab an early lunch and decided on a delicious vegan poke bowl, made with beets and pickled mushrooms. At the time, I was supposed to be meeting in a small mentorship group that was assigned to me...but I skipped out on that and opted to peruse the vendor tents instead to decompress and meet other conference attendees.

One thing I can say about C&C is this – expect to come home with a ton of swag! So many of my favorite brands (LaCroix, RXBAR, Urban Outfitters and WeWork, just to name a few!) had booths at the event, so it was great to connect with them on a face-to-face level. 

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

Once I scooped up some swag, I ventured into the event’s Beauty Bar space where brands like TRESemmé and Nordstrom were offering complimentary makeup touch-ups and hair styling all day long. I sat down to get my hair refreshed, which was a great way to relax in the middle of the day!
 

Evening Sessions + Keynotes

Not going to lie – at this point, I was exhausted. After walking to and from different stages all day to catch panel sessions, chatting with brands and new acquaintances and trying not to break an ankle in the heels I was wearing (haha!), I was ready to sit down and take a little breather. 

I enjoyed one last panel session with well-known bloggers like Gal Meets Glam and Song of Style before the event began winding down panels for the day and brought the Track 1 and Track 2 attendees together for evening keynote sessions. 

Things got a little intense here – people were acting straight-up crazy when it came to finding seats for these keynote speakers! We were held outside of the event space, and then let in all at once. Although I was able to grab a decent seat, it was pretty stressful. 

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

Up next was Lauren Conrad (my favorite!) who spoke about business ownership and the evolution of her ethical brand, The Little Market. After Lauren, the hilarious Twitter queen Chrissy Teigen came on to chat about learning to hone your personal brand, staying true to yourself and how her career has evolved after modeling.

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

After these two sessions, we took a break for a quick happy hour so that the room could be set up for the biggest keynote speaker of the night – Kim Kardashian! I’m admittedly a low-key Keeping Up With The Kardashians fan, so I was really excited to have the chance to see her in person. However, I was very curious to see what she had to say at a conference that centers on entrepreneurship and business.

 Create Cultivate LA Event Recap

Of course, the crowd went nuts when Kim took the stage! Throughout her keynote session she spoke about her upbringing, how her career had evolved (from owning DASH, to having a wildly successful reality TV series, to launching her fragrance and makeup lines, to being a mom). I was pleasantly surprised by Kim’s insightfulness on a few important topics, especially teamwork and motherhood. 

After Kim ended her talk, C&C wrapped up, we grabbed our massive gift bags full of great products and it was time to go to sleep!
 

Pros

• The diverse lineup of panelists and keynote speakers: from mental health podcasters and body positive activists to Lauren Conrad and Kim Kardashian, there was a little something for everyone at C&C LA.

• The event venue: as I mentioned earlier, the event venue – City Market South – was absolutely gorgeous! It was located in LA’s Fashion District and easily accessible from the Downtown LA Airbnb I stayed in.

• The vendor swag: I think it’s safe to say I love free stuff – who doesn’t? I’m happy that I’m going home with great new health, skincare and hair products to try out!

• The networking opportunities: everywhere you looked at the event, there was someone new to chat with. I made friends with a bunch of great ladies by sitting together for breakfast and lunch, and even just striking up a conversation while waiting in line for the bathroom. 

 

Cons

• The lack of education: don’t get me wrong – C&C LA was an invaluable source of inspiration. I’m feeling more inspired in my business now more than ever! But if you’re looking to really dig in and learn actionable takeaways for building your business to be better, faster and stronger this large gathering may not be for you. It's unrealistic to learn huge, earth-shattering takeaways for your business from a 30-minute panel. However, I’m looking forward to future gatherings that will celebrate C&C’s Work Party, which I hope will provide more intimate, hands-on education opportunities.

Conference group size: in my opinion, C&C events may benefit from inviting a smaller group of women to future gatherings. Because over 1,000 is a lot! Although it was great that the chance to meet someone new around every corner was there, was for someone like me who is typically more reserved, it was a bit overwhelming. 

All in all, my experience attending C&C LA was incredible and very memorable! I'm so glad that I took the leap and bought my ticket to attend and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to connect with other creatives at the event.

Tell me in the comments: are you planning to attend a Create & Cultivate event in the future? I hope you do! If you have any additional questions about my experience, I'm happy to answer them for you. 

Thinking About Leaving Your 9-To-5? Read This First: Pt. 2

 Thinking About Leaving Your 9-To-5? Read This First: Pt. 2

If you've already read Part One of this week's blog series on all of the things you should think about and work on before leaving your 9-to-5 to pursue your business full-time, welcome back!

Now that you've read through the five actionable steps you can take to build your business to the point of sustainability, now it's time to chat through all of the bases you should have covered before taking that big leap. 

I'm going to break these bases down into five separate areas – finance, legal, branding, marketing and operations – with bulleted action items for each area of your business. And yes – it's OK and totally normal if you feel overwhelmed by this post. I've been there! 
 

1. Finance to-dos

• Open a business bank account: who will you bank with, what are the associated account fees, which bank branch is most convenient for you?

• Consider your start-up costs: will your business require you to "spend money to make money," are are you starting with fairly low overhead? Calculate this and plan to save up if needed.

• Plan for withholding income for taxes: as a business owner, your taxes aren't going to magically come out of your paycheck! Make a plan to withhold the necessary amount of income each month to pay for future taxes, and educate yourself on the ins and outs of small business taxes.

• Invest in an invoicing system: if you're a service-based business owner like me, invoicing your clients is necessary. Research online payment and invoicing systems and any fees associated with them. Personally, I use Wave and love it! 

• Hire an accountant: this is the biggest one for me. I knew that I didn't want to run into any issues with the IRS (ah, scary!) down the road, so I invested in an accountant from day one. You'll feel less stressed about doing your taxes and can rest assured that they'll be done right.

 

2. Legal to-dos

• Have your contracts reviewed: as a service-based business, I rely on contracts to solidify every client project that I take on. To ensure that your contract is bulletproof and will fully protact your business, consider having a lawyer take a look over it and revise as-needed.

• Register your business legally in your place of residence: we went over this in Part One, but I can't say it enough – make your business legit and legal ASAP! Whether you choose an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation or other business type, setting your business up legally from day one is key.

• Set up a separate business filing system: I don't know about you, but I've ventured through adulthood I've accumulated a lot of paperwork. With that in mind, keep a separate folder in your desk for your business and legal documents so that they never get misplaced or tossed.

 

3. Branding to-dos

• Name your business: this may seem like a no-brainer, but naming your business is one of the most important steps in launching! Choosing Lindsay Scholz LLC was easy for me, but what if you want to operate under something other than your own name? Research thoroughly to ensure that another business with the same name doesn't already exist, and choose one that radiates your core values.

• Launch your website and brand identity: once you name your business, this is where the fun begins. I fully believe that businesses should have a website and brand identity crafted before they launch. Not only does this set you up for success, but it also gives a face to who you are as a business owner. Invest in a Squarespace site, buy your personalized domain name and consider hiring a designer to develop a brand identity that will last you for years to come. 

• Order business cards: call me old fashioned, but I still love business cards and think that they're an important part of running a business. Once you have your brand and website live, order business cards to have on hand for networking events or business opportunities that may pop up on a whim. 

 

4. Marketing to-dos

• TALK ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS: I really do hate using all caps, but felt that this was necessary. Leading up to taking my business full-time, I didn't really share about it too much. I kept it to myself, hoping that it would somehow magically grow that way. Looking back, I wish I had been more open about it! So, once you feel comfortable enough, make a plan to share your side hustle with the world. This could be in a Facebook post, an Instagram post or a quick email to your subscribers list. Put your business out into the world, and your ideal clients and customers will follow.

• Own your social handles: once you name your business, one of the first things you should do is make sure the Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and (maybe!) Twitter handles are available for your business. If they are, grab them ASAP! Begin posting consistently when you feel comfortable and begin building your platform and audience.

Build an email list: y'know those social audiences I just mentioned? You don't own them. But if you build an email list from day one, you will be able to call those subscribers your own. Platforms like MailChimp will allow you automate your email marketing for free! 

• Join relevant Facebook groups: until this year I wasn't big on Facebook groups, but they've lead to several meaningful connections and business leads! Check out business-focused groups that appeal to you and see if they're a good fit. You never know when someone may be seeking your services or product at just the right moment. 

 

5. Operations to-dos

• Set up email addresses and contact methods: If you don't have a professional email address set up for your business (ex. hello@lindsayscholz.com), it's worth investing in one. If you'll have an office outside of the home, establishing a business phone number that's not your cellphone is also key.

• Set office hours: one of the beautiful things about being your own boss is that you get to set your own hours. For me, the 9-to-5 grind worked, but I know that I personally create my best work between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. With that in mind, I begin my workdays very early and aim for a late afternoon stop. I'm still working hard to cut back on the hours that I work, but determining when you're most productive and happy is key to setting successful office hours.

• Figure out your office situation: will you have a home-based office, or work from a coworking space? If you'll be working from home, do you have an office already established, or do you need to make an IKEA trip for that to happen? Determine where you'll create your best work and make a plan for how you'll spend your days before you take your business full-time.

• Stock up on office supplies: once you have your office in order, it's time to make sure you have all the supplies that you need. As for me, I'm pretty simple: I need my desktop, laptop, my to-do list and I'm good. If you're a product-based business, consider what packaging materials you'll need to invest in, and where you'll store them.
 

Whew – this post was a big one, wasn't it? Honestly, there are so many things I could talk about when it comes to successfully establishing your business before investing in it full-time. With that being said, don't be surprised if this post gets periodically updated with new learnings over time! Tell me: was this post helpful? What things are you currently struggling with in your side hustle? What have some of your biggest successes been? Leave your thoughts in the comments!