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Talk It Out: Small Is Powerful

It’s Talk It Out time! So why don’t we get started and discuss a little something that I think has value this week — the importance in focusing on smaller batches, less is more thinking, the trend of being small and being happy with it. Of course, big isn’t always overbearing but not everyone is cut out for a life of extreme scheduling and pressure. I’m no Martha, I would hate to have every second scheduled and feel that I’d be almost a product and no longer a person. There was a trend not too long ago that made everyone feel like less isn’t enough and more isn’t enough either, you need more than more, bigger than big, in fact you need world domination to be truly happy. Your life needed to be pimped and super-sized in order to have value. Your title defined who you are and who you will become. You don’t need a title to be a leader. What you do need is to have an area of expertise and others who support and respect your work.


I’m on the new bandwagon of thinking that I’ve noticed out there — that there is value in being smaller yet better. To be focused and highly skilled vs. big and scattered or big and extremely stressed out. The idea of being a small giant.

Do you want to be a big business? Fine. Do you want to be mid-size? Fine. Do you want to be small? Fine. But the question here is “Do YOU WANT…” so it’s good to think about your goals. Some get on these success waves and ride them out allowing the waves to dictate where their business will take them. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in success that you lose focus of your own goals and what you want in life. People around us always pressure us for more. And it’s usually not to be mean, it’s because they want us to be successful in whatever way they define success. More posts. More cupcakes. More DIY projects. More fabric patterns. More, more more. That’s what fans do, they want more because they admire what you do. And while this is absolutely wonderful and extremely flattering, it’s important to not allow your fans or customers to dictate what you ultimately do with your business. If this happens, then you just have a new “man”. Instead of working a 9-5 to please your boss, feeling uninspired at the end of the day, you’re now a freelancer doing the job you love but your fans pressure you and you feel uninspired because you cannot churn out work fast enough to “please” the masses. Your boss was your man. Now your fans are your man. Remember, you are the man. :)

May I please tell you a truth that cannot be ignored? Your fans will love you whether you create one painting this week or thirty of them. Set expectations, honor them, and move on. Edit as you go along. Your fans will respect you and you will ultimately give them something better — a better you, better work, and you’ll stick to your work longer because you didn’t tire out, burn out and then fizzle out completely.

Small is powerful. I think that sometimes we pressure ourselves to do more when maybe we should simply work harder at what we’re currently doing. Have you thought, if you tend to overextend yourself, that maybe it’s best to have less of yourself spread so thinly over many channels and more of yourself fully invested in only a few? Consider that for a moment. I speak from experience! That way, you feel less stress and your work becomes focused and more enjoyable to you.

I had a habit of spreading myself too thin. I was once blogging for several sites in addition to decor8. Along with blogging, I was consulting on design jobs in Boston for several years. Along with THAT I was a columnist for a newspaper and a regular contributor for and Domino magazine. I also wrote for a bunch of other clients from press releases to articles for magazines. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking but it was a bit too much. Somehow I managed it all but I think I was able to manage it because I fine tuned my work life and I decided to focus more on what I loved and less on what I didn’t. Truth is, I did not enjoy writing articles for magazines several times a month. It was stressful and the money wasn’t worth the time invested. I did not enjoy having design clients 30 hours a week in addition to all of the writing I was doing. I’m focusing now on things that really mean a lot to me, like this blog for one, along with other projects I’m involved in on the side.

My point is this: we can allow ourselves to be happy with where we are right now. In the moment. I’ll say this again. If it feels good, and it’s working… be happy with where you are right now.

You don’t need to change it if it works, feels right, your health and family are benefiting and you see benefit from your work. Some people are scared of being a small business because they think small means less fame or worse, less money. I guess it depends on how you look at it. I’ve lived on all income levels and the best times of my life were the ones where I was huddled around a table with $10 in my pocket aside best friends in some rubbish pub playing cards and laughing until 3am. Or our silly kareoke nights belting out classic Madonna songs (Like a virgggginnn ooooh!) in some cheesy Chinese restaurant. Even now, some of my best moments are spent with my friends and family. I recall the simple moments, the funny moments and the life changing ones — like when my dear grandmother and I sang Frank Sinatra songs for two hours right before she died this past June. I’m not going to say that money isn’t something we need to live because that would be a lie. I didn’t relocate to Germany because I’m poor — I worked and saved for years to get over here. But money can’t be the single driving force and certainly cannot tell us if we will be happy today or not.

So I vote we all appreciate where we stand in time today, our progress no matter how small (or great) and realize that small is great if you’ve decided that small is the way for you. And as friends of those who are focusing on smaller batches, higher quality, focused work —  let’s be happy with that and careful not to constantly say, “What’s next?”. This can be a lot of pressure. Support is helpful, you want those whom you’re a fan of to keep shining so brightly.

It’s okay to be small because small doesn’t mean broke, unsuccessful or unable. Any size rocks as long as it is what YOU want, but remember small is perfectly fine to choose. What do you think? Do you think we pressure ourselves and others a little too much to overextend ourselves? Do you value companies who elect to stay small? Do you think small can make you happy?

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in uncategorized on November 12, 2009

Pale and Interesting

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know what a fan I am of Atlanta Bartlett. That is why I was so thrilled today to hear that this amazing author, stylist and designer has opened a new online shop called Pale and Interesting. I’ve been waiting for this announcement for months now — thank you so much Andrea for letting me know about this glorious news. You will love it because it’s beyond beautiful to surf the site and view all of Altanta’s fabulous finds. She’s the queen bee of decorating in my book so I’m loving every click! Furniture, accessories, jewelry… all of the things you’d expect to see in her beautiful books. Here is just a smidgen of what you’ll find online…

Pale and Interesting

Pale and Interesting

Pale and Interesting

Pale and Interesting

Pale and Interesting

Do these scenes make your heart beat a little faster? I love seeing these pretty cabinets and the fine china along with found items and shiny things. Plaid blankets, baskets for wood near the fireplace, lovely artwork… There is a casual elegance here that resonates with me, what about you?

(images: pale and interesting)

Posted in uncategorized on November 12, 2009

Simply Photo Pop Up Shop

It was nice to hear from Jennifer Causey today, as I’ve followed her work since the beginning when she was just a wee budding New York based photographer and now she’s working for clients like Chronicle Books, Real Simple, Anthropologie and Time Out NY to list only a few. She just opened a pop up shop for the season to feature the work of some of her favorite photographers who do not sell their work elsewhere, Molly Wizenberg (New York), Brian Ferry (London, I recently wrote about him here), Shari Altman (Vermont), and Laina Briedis (New York), along with her own Simply Breakfast 2010 calendar.

Simply Photo Pop Up Shop

Looking back in my blog archives, I found this post back from the summer of 2006 where I praised her work. It was fun to go back and read that… And it made me realize that so many of us built our careers before an audience of people online and how supportive and wonderful this community really is. I mean, think of your favorite bloggers — especially the big ones. Did you know about them before they started their blog? Most likely not. And most likely, they were not even in their current profession back before their blog launched. It’s so interesting to follow one another around online and to witness this growth. This, to me, is why blogs will always be different from a magazine. In a magazine, you see ONLY the best work. The pruned, the stuffed, the polished… And a lovely flipside too but…

Simply Photo Pop Up Shop

Online it’s a different world. You see the not-so-polished become polished over the course of months, years even. You witness the birth of new names, watch their success grow, and then attend their book signings. Go back to some of your favorite blogs and find their very first post. Read a few posts from their first 6 months blogging. You will get a different version of the person you know today — maybe less secure, more vulnerable, a bit afraid even… I think this is a great reminder that we all start somewhere, usually at ground level, and build and build until we reach higher grounds. And then we build some more. On a macro level, it’s why we love Oprah and others in the spotlight who grew due to their supportive fan base. And on a micro level, it is why we love some of our favorite bloggers who are moving on to explore other avenues or who, like Jennifer, are opening up pop shops to support her friends — photographers that she believes in. Jennifer is such a rock star.

It’s exciting and motivating to consider all of this, don’t you think? And I think it is inspiring to new bloggers and those just entering creative fields for the first time to focus on this fact: Everyone had a first moment in this community so if you feel scared or unsure please don’t. If you’ve ever looked at someone else and their success and thought, “Why Bother?” then I encourage you — yes, bother! Muster up the courage and do your thing. Go for it. We all deserve a place and for those who jump in a go for it, you’ll find it. Don’t worry. :)

(images: simply photo)

Posted in Shopping + Products on November 12, 2009

Stylist Randi Brookman Harris

I really enjoy browsing the portfolios of photographers and stylists online, I find them to be very inspirational and packed with decorating, color and placement ideas. Today I’d like to share views from the portfolio of Brooklyn-based stylist Randi Brookman Harris. I’ve been waiting for her portfolio to go live (the site wasn’t ready last time that I checked) so I was excited to click over today and see it up and running. It looks great!

Randi Brookman Harris

Randi’s work has appeared in numerous publications and in ad campaigns — she once styled for Kate Spade and has worked on numerous shoots for Martha Stewart Living and Weddings magazine. Aren’t these colors sublime?

Randi Brookman Harris

I don’t know about you but I’m currently inspired by red, white and raw linen and for a more jazzy palette – I’m loving jewel tones, too. It’s funny, I’m not a “red” person. I think it competes too much with my personality so I tend to shy away from using it in my home. I remember reading once in one of Shannon Fricke’s books that she had red in her extroverted daughter’s room and it affected her quite negatively, though her son didn’t mind the color at all. She removed the red and her daughter’s mood improved significantly. I believe color can have a strong impact on mood, and when I studied color theory I become even more aware of this fact — it’s not some decorator’s myth or something, it’s true. And so when I have red in my home, I feel very uneasy and my brain starts to race and I cannot concentrate. I’ve noticed this because I had red pillows and lamps several years back and really, really disliked them and stayed out of my bedroom (where they were) as much as possible. Then in my class, that same year, I learned about the power of color and so I purchased softer hues for my bedroom and instantly felt better there. In fact, it became my favorite room in the house once the colors were softer. I could think more clearly, my breathing slowed, I felt great and very peaceful.

But back to being inspired by red, white and raw linen… I tried to figure out why this is based on my own experience with red and well, I guess it has to do with shops I’m visiting here… it’s everywhere! But aside from that, red, white and raw linen seem to be a good match for me as the color doesn’t stress me out nearly as much when combined with white and raw linen. I guess the white cools down its heat and the linen adds a natural, relaxed feel to the palette. But I think I’ll refrain from decorating with it so I don’t go bonkers!

And I bet your favorite color is red right? And you think I’m hating on red now? he he. Well I’m not. I actually like it very much and find it to be very lovely but I cannot live with it in my home. And I wish I could. But no chance.

In additional to red, the seasonal themes here seem to be jewel tones, red/white/linen, purples and greens with brown, and another palette is gold and white. It’s all so very pretty! I remember growing up, all you could find in stores in November and December… well take a guess. Pine green and bright red. That was it! Now, there are colors for every taste and style and I really appreciate this as I don’t like to feel confined to use certain colors. And goodness, we need variety. Life is more exciting when you try different types of experiences!

So tell me, what colors are you seeing out there lately that really inspire you? Any specific palettes that have your attention?

(images: randi brookman harris)

Posted in Inspiration on November 11, 2009


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