Books + Magazines

Big News & Secrets of Successful Collaborations

March 7, 2013

Let’s talk about some big news I have and then, some tips on how to collaborate with others successfully. First, I’m working on book #3 with Chronicle Books and Jacqui Small Publishing! This time, I’m teaming up with my friend, stylist and photographer Leslie Shewring (and Color Me Pretty columnist), and together we’re hoping to create a book that will blow your creative mind! ha! That’s the goal anyway. We have a lot ahead of us, but we’re determined to get this book finished in October so it will have a Spring 2014 release.

Big News & Secrets of Successful Collaborations

Leslie and I have been discussing a book collaboration for a few years now but only recently found the time and energy to devote to making our dream a reality. After getting the book deal, we had the grueling contract stuff to deal with but now that we’re over the hump, we can work on the fun part – pulling together our ideas, scout and organize shoot locations, call in our props and other necessary bits.

Of course, no project comes without a ton of challenge. For one, we have physical distance to deal with – she lives on Vancouver island and I’m wayyyy over here in northern Germany and then, the time zone difference (9 hours apart!), so we will need to stay pretty organized to get through the loads of work ahead!

Now that I’ve shared my big news, let’s talk about collaborations  When it comes to partnering with others I thought I’d give you some helpful tips because lots of people ask me about how I go about working with others. Ready?

1. Trust your gut. If it feels like a MAYBE it is a no. If it feels like a NO, it is no. If it feels like a positive YES, proceed ahead.

2. If someone shows signs of being a poor communicator, beware! If you’ve hired them to work for you and they don’t reply to phone calls, emails or text messages, something is up – if you have opened up your business to someone else and trust them to take care of it, and they don’t, this can create some huge tension. You have to be selective about who you team up with, don’t take the red flags lightly.

3. If your potential partner wants to know all of your ideas before you have agreed to working together, beware. You should have a non-compete, non-disclosure contract between you before you reveal all of the details on any project or before you begin working together. I’m only working this way going forward and advise you to do the same.

4. Draw up a contract with the help of an attorney so that all parties know what is expected along with due dates. Then no one can say they didn’t know or were misinformed. If you have it in writing, and they’ve signed it, they were informed.

5. One major reason why I wanted to do a book with Leslie is because I love working with her. You really should feel good about the people that you work with. They should lift you higher because then your work will be elevated as well. You’ll work harder and put in all of your heart if you’re working in a supportive environment – at least that is how I’ve come to learn how women work best.

6. Leave your ego at the front door. You cannot work with others who allow ego to get in the way of producing the best work. No ego. The work needs to be separate from your emotion.

7. If you have hired someone or are managing a project and you’ve asked others to contribute, watch how well they follow your instruction. If you tell them what you need and they deliver something else, that’s a bad sign. If you have specific points that you’re hired them to deliver on and they go off and do their own thing and return with that instead, it can cause huge problems and tension. When you freelance for anyone, a magazine, a small business, etc. you have to listen to your “boss”, the person who is paying you for the work. Of course, you can give them creative ideas and solutions but ultimately they call the shots. This also has to do with ego. Sometimes people won’t listen because their ego gets in the way. Other times, they are very insecure about delivering what you’ve asked them to do because it falls outside of their comfort zone so they decide to deliver what is comfortable for them.

8. With Leslie I’ve noticed that we also really value and understand the importance of regular communication on the job. When we run into something challenging, we discuss it right away and respect even our differences in opinion because lots of times those differences push us out of stagnent thinking patterns into fresh new waters. Creating magic with someone can only happen if both are communicating honestly and openly.

9. Have a sense of humor. I also like that when I screw something up, Leslie laughs at me or if she does something that doesn’t quite work, we sorta of know at the same time and look at each other and burst into laughter. That’s the magic I’m talking about. It’s beautiful when you work with people who can step outside of their ego and look at their own work as a separate entity and be objective about it. We also know how to have fun on shoots – also important to me because I need FUN to feel creative. If the mood becomes too serious on a shoot, I can’t be creative, my brain just shuts down.

10. When issues arise, talk about them. These days most of us are talking through email and text messages. It’s best to talk via email or the phone if you can. Better yet, in person face-to-face. Everyone makes mistakes. Be willing to forgive, forget and move past them. Also allow for some problems to arise because it’s only human to have slip ups. On the other hand, if you keep reaching out to someone and they refuse to handle issues responsively, move on. There are far too many talented and creative people in the world to work with you – you don’t need to devote time and energy on those who don’t want to be happy and work with you in a positive and productive way.

I hope my collaboration tips have helped you! Do you have any of your own?

I can’t wait to tell you more in the coming months but I’m very happy and hope you are excited too. Another nice thing that happened to be recently is that my work and tips have been featured on – Here are two that already ran, with more on the way!

6 Decorating Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them
12 Ways to Enliven Your Home with Green

It’s so exciting to be part of sharing my decorating advice, a big honor!

Have a nice day! I’ll be back later on with a yummy cookie recipe that Jillian baked up for you for her March column. See you soon.

(image: leslie shewring)


  • Reply Miss Drawingdream March 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Oh I’m alreday excited in your book! :)

  • Reply Laura Gaskill March 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    WOW, this is such exciting news, Holly! Two of my favorite people collaborating together? Oh yes, I can’t wait to see what you two talented and creative ladies cook up! Way to go on the pieces, too! xoxo Laura

  • Reply Tina Ramchandani March 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I’m SO happy for the two of you! I had a feeling something like this was happening when I saw your instagram comments :) I know this is going to be a fabulous book because both you and Leslie have such an amazing eye! I have a couple ideas of the theme but I’ll keep them to myself! I’m already inviting myself to the NY book signing. CONGRATS!
    PS- love the calendar, can you make that a downloadable version?!?!

  • Reply Chloe Moon March 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    YEAH!! I just loved your first two books! I was lucky enough to win them on a giveaway a lil while ago! Best wishes on the new collaboration!! =)

  • Reply michelle March 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    You and Leslie working together on book can be nothing short of mind blowing, Congratulations!

    This is all really helpful and valuable advice, thank you.

  • Reply Tracy A. March 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Congratulations on your upcoming book! As for your tips on collaboration – I’d say that they should be tips for heading into a potential marriage!

  • Reply Wendy Smith March 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Great tips re collaborations Holly – I’m starting to work with other people now on styled shoots and another great wedding-y project (top secret for now!) so this is really apt right now.

    For me, the best tip is to remember your sense of humour…I come up with some real rubbish when we brainstorm but it often leads to a little gem as I haven’t been afraid to share & risk looking silly – which happens – a LOT :-)

  • Reply Mnêmosunê March 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for your tips, it will be useful. As Tina, I love your calendar, do you have a printable version ?
    And congrats for this exciting news !

  • Reply handmade by amalia March 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for this interesting and helpful post, it is important to neutralize as much as possible the problems that can harm a collaboration, and often there are problems. And, of course, congratulations on the new book.

  • Reply Jutta March 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Girl you rock! Now you are on, what next? The White House? :D

    And the book sounds wonderful too. With you and Leslie, it must be awesome.

  • Reply janika R March 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Wow…Great post and All the best for your project.

  • Reply Silky Hart March 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Congrats, Holly and Leslie, on your new book. I have no doubts it will blow our creative minds. Appreciate the tips on collaboration, too!

  • Reply Laura March 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I’m so excited for the book! Love Leslie and you, Holly!

  • Reply Erika {Delphine} March 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Congratulations to both you and Leslie! That is fantastic news. And I have to say that your advice of trusting your gut is the NUMBER ONE BEST advice ever. XO – Erika

  • Reply Inge March 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Yaaaaay!!! That is such great news for you and Leslie! I love both of your blogs, both of your point of view on style & color, so I’m really anxious for this book to come out next year! I will definitely put that one on my want-to-buy-list… :-)

  • Reply Cathy March 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Oh my!!! I cannot wait for your book. I’m already trying to imagine the gorgeousness that you and Leslie will create!!!!!

  • Reply Zoe March 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Congratulations on your book! I’m already excited! But I’m even more excited about you being featured on!! Wow!!!
    xo Zoe

  • Reply tina March 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Congratulation on your book

  • Reply cinzia ruggieri March 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Great tips on collaborations,thank you! Many problems come when you don’t trust your sensations about someone,just the very first feelings…and the most difficult come when you are not clear and don’t write!That’s really true.
    And now,I wait for the book.Congratulations.

  • Reply kalanicut March 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    This is a collaborative book to look forward to. Great that you get to work together on something so lovely.

  • Reply Trish March 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Oh I am so excited for both of you! Both you & Leslie are so talented, and it’s obvious you two enjoy working with eachother; how fun for you both! :) I love your pointers….and if you don’t mind, may show them to my sister/partner & our employees too! Frankly you’ve put into words what happens at our shop on a daily basis….especially the “having fun together” part!

    Congrats on the features too!

  • Reply olive green anna March 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you this has come at a perfect time.

    I have just asked a few other bloggers if they would join me in writing an e-course.

    Thanks lovely!


  • Reply cyndi March 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Leslie was a teacher in the first class I took with you, she is so talented! Your collaboration will be dynamic – I can’t wait for your new book.

  • Reply Desiree March 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Congratulations once more!! And thank you for the good points you made in this post! Especially number 3 I will keep in mind for future projects!

    Hugs X

  • Reply Brooke March 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Congrats ladies!! Can’t wait to see what you two come up with together.

  • Reply Jennie March 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    No way I’m passing up this book. Very exciting news! Congrats!

  • Reply Sammy March 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I’m already so excited!!
    I also wish my calendars looked that pretty… mine are just a big mess of words and scribbles that I even I can’t understand

  • Reply Marianne March 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Great news! I am looking forward to your and Leslie’s new book.

  • Reply Monsterscircus March 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    WOW congratulation, it can only be jawdropping and delicious, already looking forward and thank you for sharing your guidelinies on how to succed with co work, have a wonderful day!

  • Reply ishtar March 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    these are such GREAT news!!! i´m SO looking forward to that book!!!!
    you´ve both been very inspiring to me, so having you collaborate in a book together is a dream come true not only for me, but I´m sure for all your readers!!!!!
    way to go Holly and Leslie!!

  • Reply ishtar March 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    woot woot woot!!!

  • Reply Lisa | Happy By March 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    I look forward to every single time you give tips on your blog Holly, because I find them very true and direct, of course based on your big experience, making me eager to absorb them right away. I hope you will do it again from time to time. Also, I am very happy and excited for your next book :)

  • Reply KAREN March 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    WOW, I will be waiting for this one!.

  • Reply Lily March 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    This is great advice! I just opened a home decor store with 4 partners (yes, four!) 6 months ago and it’s been going amazing, thanks to good communication, lots of laughter and more communication. Talking things through before, during and after each decision is crucial. And congrats on the new book! Can’t wait to see what you and Leslie put together…love all of your past collaborations :)

  • Reply Lauren March 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    How exciting! Way to go!

  • Reply Kathi March 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    this is going to be wonderful, I have loved seeing everything from both of you and know that this book will be another must have!!! hooray :D

  • Reply Emily March 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I actually gasped with delight when I read that you and Leslie will be writing a book together. I simply cannot wait. Hooray!

    And I love your list of secrets for successful collaborations. So wise and true.

    Thank you Holly x

  • Reply Heather B March 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    WOW!!! Talk about a dream collaboration! This is bound to be one of the most beautiful, creatives books ever! I can’t wait to own it!!! Congratulations to both of you!!!

  • Reply Tracy March 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    WOW! Oprah! (LOVED the 6 Decorating Mistakes column! Great tips!) and Chronicle Books! Your success is not only well-deserved but gives me hope! Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations!!

  • Reply anastasia March 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    awesome – its going to be amazing Im sure!!!…cant wait to hear more!

  • Reply Amy Ehmann March 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I’m drooling already! I can’t wait that long. Please let us know when we can Pre-order!

  • Reply Stacey @ Likes to Smile March 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Oh my goodness!! This is phenomenal news! I’m so happy for you! And I will be one of your very first pre-orders when you announce the book! Well-deserved and I can’t wait to learn even more from you (and Leslie)! And congratulations on Oprah, as well!

  • Reply Mònica March 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for years but it’s the first time I write a message. My English isn’t good enough! Nowadays I’m working on the project of my life and I couldn’t avoid saying that I think that your advice is really useful and real. The same for the workshop’s house advice! Thank you so much for sharing them!

  • Reply Emma March 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Wow! This is so exciting Holly and Leslie, I knew something was up! Can not WAIT to see what you’ve both got in store, no doubt it will be fabulously fabulous.
    On a side note – I was totally bummed to not be doing Blog Boss this time around, I thought we would have started our new jobs and moved and I would’ve launched into my new blog by now but we’ve been delayed so I had to give it a miss :( Do you know when you would be running another one?
    Good luck!

  • Reply Kat March 8, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Oh that’s such wonderful news, another book from you will be amazing but to have Leslie on board too wow, it will shine even brighter :)
    Love kat x

  • Reply Margie March 8, 2013 at 1:27 am

    I can hardly contain my excitement…seriously! And Holly, I am not collaborating anytime soon, but I know good advice when I read it. Wishing you both many happy, creative moments as you create the ultimate book for your collective fans. Xoxo

  • Reply Rekha March 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    Congrats on the new book! Can’t wait to see it! Thanks for the advice on collaborations. As I’m looking into some collaborative opportunities this is very helpful. I agree, timely and proper communication is key – that is my first sign of someone’s dedication and quality of work. And of course I always follow my gut – never steers me wrong!

  • Reply maureen March 8, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Great advice. Thanks!

  • Reply Melissa March 8, 2013 at 5:23 am

    woohoo! the dream team. can’t wait.
    i can just picture all the colour and pattern we’re going to see :)

  • Reply Katja March 8, 2013 at 6:01 am

    This is such a great news – can`t wait for your new book. Also I wanna congratulate you on your collaboration with as I admire you both.

  • Reply Wrenaissance Art March 8, 2013 at 6:19 am

    Congrats and good luck on the new book for you both! :-)

  • Reply The Equation book March 8, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Congratulations on your book! I’m really excited on your upcoming book.

  • Reply Momographica March 8, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Gorgeous news,I am looking forward your next book! It is so exciting to know that you and Leslie are going to work on a project together!
    And special thanks for sharing such terrific tips. I did have previous team work and I wish I could have such tips at hand back then. Especially point number 2. It still happens in my little,humble working environment and it is kinda frustrating!

  • Reply Heather March 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I just had to say thank you for being so open and honest about a potentially tricky subject to cover. I found your blog refreshing and mega helpful.

    P.S. well done and good luck on the book.


  • Reply Stacey March 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Yay!! Love your other two books, so I know this one will also be extraordinary! Great tips too.

  • Reply patricia March 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Oh I just know it’s going to be a gorgeous book. Congratulations to you both! Can’t wait to see it.

  • Reply samantha hahn March 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    cool. can’t wait to hear more about the book!

    I personally love collaborating and thrive on it. Despite a hectic schedule of work for clients I find it exhilarating to develop ideas with friends and see them through to a finished product, whether it be a book, a series on a blog, or even for simply the fun of making something with someone who inspires.

  • Reply Elizabeth McKnight March 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    first of all, congratulations!!!
    second of all, you are spot on for those rules….very important!

  • Reply Ocean March 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Wow! You’ll be featured on Oprah, that is totally great! Congrats to the both of you, you and Leslie deserves it. I can’t wait to get hold of your new book!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente March 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is awesome & you and Leslie are THE perfect team. I can’t wait! Woo hoo!

  • Reply Joanne Palmisano March 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    A Big Congrats to you and Leslie for your next book — that is a lot of work and it will be another huge success because you both are hard-working passionate people and it shows through your pages.

    As for partnering up — that advice is RIGHT ON! I just finished my second book with my amazing friend and photographer, Susan Teare — and all of that advice is so true — I know that because I’ve made all those mistakes in the past — but not this time — Susan was a joy to work with again — and we are the dearest of friends.

    Thank you for helping others understand the importance of a good partnership –especially with friends.

    My best, Joanne

  • Reply Tracy Stonard March 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Very exciting, I can’t wait. Thanks for the tips too, very useful!

    Kind Regards, Tracy

  • Reply Maria G. March 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I agree that you really need to know and choose who you team up with. I have experienced collaborating with the wrong partner when I was in college and all she did was getting me to reveal all of my ideas and when we had a small misunderstanding, poof! My idea was hers already. It can be really annoying to collaborate with the wrong person.

  • Reply JerryJ March 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Congratulations on your book!!

  • Reply Bobbi March 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    How exciting! I can’t wait to hear more about the new book. I know between the two of you it will be a jewel!

  • Reply junifaden March 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    that’s amazing! congratulations holly, you rock :) greets julia

  • Reply Molly {Dreams in HD} March 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

    what wonderful news holly!

  • Reply Ella March 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Great advice-thank you!
    I know you two will be amazing together :D

    It is a dance-I look forward to your Foxtrot!

  • Reply Jane March 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Oh Holly. This is the dream book I’ve been hoping you’d write. What a glorious team! Cannot wait to get my mitts on it! J x

  • Reply Charisma Goudreau March 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing this sage advice on successful collaborations!

  • Reply Dana H. March 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Looks like I will need a bookshelf devoted entirely to your books.
    I’m enjoying your Blog Boss course so much. I understand why they fill up so quickly! Congrats on your newest collaboration!

  • Reply Michele S March 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I figured something was up, since Leslie’s blog has been pretty quiet these days. I thought she must be working on something else. How delightful to learn that the two of you will be collaborating on book! Count me in with all the others who say they can’t wait until the book comes out. I’m not even going to put it on a “wish list” for Christmas or my birthday–I’m just going to buy it for myself as soon as it is available!

  • Reply Tazim @ March 9, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Another book from you is such exciting news! Also, congratulations on the articles – they’re both really inspiring. It sounds like you will have the perfect mix of people working on this with you!

    • Reply decor8 March 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

      @Tazim – There are more to come, so keep your eyes on :)

  • Reply Elena March 9, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for your tips. You don’t just speak about decoration but you speak about life, and well.

  • Reply kristin johnsen March 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I’m VERY excited about your collaboration – I love you BOTH!!! I’m not sure I can wait! Best of luck to you – I’ll be following along!

  • Reply Sandra March 10, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Great news – congrats! Can´t wait to read more about your third book.

  • Reply Mikey F. March 10, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Such exciting and amazing NEWS!
    Loving it. Good luck on the prepping and getting ready!

  • Reply stylizacje March 11, 2013 at 1:02 am

    great book, welle done!

  • Reply Elisabeth Irwin March 11, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Congratulations, Holly! What wonderful news. Thank you so much for the practical advice on collaborating. It felt like an extension of Blogbloss–I hope that I’ll have good reason to use it one of these days. Best!

  • Reply Stan Faryna March 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Great tips!

    Collaboration is the secret to success. Learning how to collaborate is one of the most important things you can do to make dreams happen and change the world.

  • Reply Ursula March 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    That’s awesome! Congrats. I love these tips. So true – listen to your gut and get it in writing! YESSSSSSS!

  • Reply Anu March 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Wow, what a great news! Both of your books have been such inspirational and now I’m definitely waiting for the next spring to see the third one :)

  • Reply Elliot from endemicworld art prints March 12, 2013 at 1:07 am

    WOOHOO! High Five!
    Congratulations Holly, we love your books here. Hope you share a few sneak peeks with us on the blog as you go!

  • Reply Alana (Fancy! NZ Design Blog) March 12, 2013 at 1:24 am

    You are such a massive role model, not just to fellow bloggers but to anyone who dreams of making a living from their passion. You’re pretty freakin’ awesome, Holly.

  • Reply living style March 12, 2013 at 3:17 am

    good suggestions! I will keep following this blog.

  • Reply Harrow March 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the tips – fantastic!

  • Reply Lisbeth March 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting and very useful advice. Thanks,

  • Reply Dee March 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Great tips for working with a partner. I really looking forward to getting a copy of your new book. Hopefully you show us some sneak peaks so we don’t have to wait until 2014!

  • Reply trina March 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    congrats holly! i’m so happy for you! i love watching exciting things happen for nice people that have worked really hard to get where they are!!!!! cannot wait for the next book!

    ….and thanks for the tips!

    xo . trina

  • Reply Dee March 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Great post. Looking forward to the book launch in spring 2014!!! Congrats

  • Reply Margarita Lorenzo March 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing, I am about to start a collaboration with a friend and a ceramist to launch a few new products, and I am a bit concern about letting go and working with friend as well as with someone totally new, but very excited about the prospect of having new things happening and the challenge of working with others. Looking forward to your projects.

  • Reply Seasprout Studios March 13, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Wow! This is wonderful! I’m so happy for you :) Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what else you do…


  • Reply March 13, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I realy like it!

  • Reply Nat Coalson March 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Congrats and wishing you lots of success! I love the way you write, so I’ve no doubt that the book will be fabulous.

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