Category Archives: creative process

5 ways to improve instagram

5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram (Business) Game

Around here we love Instagram. It’s our favorite social media platform. (With the Introduction of video and stories, it’s become incredibly entertaining as well.) As the years have gone by, many are trying to navigate how to use Instagram for business. How do you show up consistently, presenting your services to the world? Are you finding creative ways to engage your audience? How do you stay true to your creative voice and raise it into a raving, paying tribe?

Keep reading for our tips after the jump!

1. Show up with your work. Everyday.

For many posting on Instagram feels arbitrary or another thing to do. If this is the way you’re thinking about Instagram, it’s time to develop a strategy. Spend an hour a week developing a content calendar. Focus on the writing first and the imagery second. Then, write and create content for your dream client, rather than yourself. How would you engage your dreamies? Write to inspire and delight. Bring original photography, type, and your work for the table. Ask yourself, do people know what I do? How am I representing this visually? Is there consistency?

2. Have a dedicated account or profile for your business.

If you’re still wanting to post less curated items, think about developing two accounts, one for personal and one for professional use. This will keep your account curated on your offerings, work, and content, rather than having to be filtered through by your audience. Once you have a page dedicated to your Instagram, create a mirroring Facebook page, allowing to utilize an Instagram business account.

3. Know lighting and study photography.

Ditch dark and dingy pictures. Make a commitment to shoot in natural light and avoid harsh shadows. This will work wonders on your photos. Look through your existing feed. If there are images that aren’t amazing, delete them. As you shoot think of a consistent color scheme and editing filter for all of your images. This will bring visual continuity. We love using the VSCO app on our phone for quick edits and using Lightroom on our computers. It’s a game changer.

4. Your Instagram bio and contact information are incredibly important.

Can people tell what you do through your business? Do they know your physical location and hours? What are the services you offer? Are you driving people to your website or email? Spend time crafting your message and a strong call to action in your bio.

5. Get your life back, use a scheduling platform. 

You don’t want to spend hours on social media. Make a commitment to yourself that you will only spend time on social media that is valuable in contribution. This means likes have no value. Choose to write authentic comments instead. Only focus on contributing content that will grow your tribe. This removes pressure that can come from social media and comparison that can occur as you spend time online. If you’re on an adventure you want to photograph or capture, spend 15-30 minutes getting your shoots and then put your camera away. Confession: almost all of our images are latergrams. They are all shot ahead of time, edited, and then scheduled using Later app. This allows us a steady workflow and keeps our mornings freed up for client meetings, emails, and correspondence rather than spending hours on social media indexing.

Ready to take your Instagram to another level?

I will be teaching a half-day workshop in Redding on May 6 talking about Instagram for Business. Find out more information for the event here.

work to live

Monday Words: Work to Live

Work to live. Live to work. One phrase has fullness of meaning, filled with dreams, possibilities, and hope. The other is one that is full of dread, long hours, and lack. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on my workload, sustainability, and building my business. It has come with many hours of thought and deliberation. What I’ve discovered along the way as a freelancer is that while you can work from anywhere, you simultaneously to your work with you everywhere you go… It can be liberating, full of freedom, or it can be crippling.

By nature I’m an achiever. I love to create, get things done, and mark items off my to-do list. I can get more done in a focused afternoon than most people can get done in a whole day. Because of this, I can have laser focus. I plow through work, often times forgetting to eat or sleep. Many have asked over the years if I know how to rest or how to embrace play. It’s something I love, but often gets put to the last item on the list every week. Maybe you can relate. The week is long and full, the things that once took priority, the ways you did self-care, have gotten pushed to the very last thing. How do we work to live? To have resource for what we value, but know when to stop? How do we no longer bow to financial incentives, but instead make the best choices?

This past weekend I decided to make a change. I took a weekend off. I found myself having time to enjoy the gym, having friends over for brunch, working in the garden, catching up on laundry, and as I write this post, I’m refreshed and excited to conquer the pile of work on my desk. It’s a rare feeling for me.

As a creative, it’s easy to press in and push through. There’s the deadlines for clients, the massive amounts to do. As you work from home, there’s blurred lines of where work starts and home begins. More than anything, I’ve found that when I have healthy rhythm, my inspiration floods forth and my creative blocks dissolve quickly.

As you face your day, how are you creating sustainably? Are you working at the sacrifice of self continually? What does it look like to have nice things but not fixate on them? What does it look like to work to live rather than live to work?

maker stories north state woodshop

Maker Stories: North State Woodshop

I first discovered David’s work at a shop downtown. I was attending a pop-up shop and scattered throughout the upstairs loft we stunning mid century modern pieces. They had craft, melding form and function. Whether multiple layers of wood or soft curves, no detail was overlooked. They were beautiful and I realized that I had stumbled upon a hidden gem in Redding. As soon as my eyes laid on the first end table, I knew I wanted to meet this maker, hear his story, and learn about his craft. Today we launch a new column as we explore the world of makers and sit down with David of North State Woodshop.

Keep reading for the full interview after the jump!

How did it all begin? What started your love for creating? Why did you choose wood as your medium?

It all happened by accident. My background is in construction. My dad owned a construction company. I had been doing that for as long as I can remember. About three years ago, I knew I needed to get of construction and get out on my own. We had a baby boy and it was one of those things, if I didn’t switch careers when my family is young, it was going to be a lot harder when my family was older. I already knew I didn’t want to do construction for the rest of my life. Now was the time to do it. I quit working for my dad somewhat prematurely with nothing else lined up. I had all of this time. At the same time, my dad acquired a new shop space where there was space to play and work around. I started creating a few pieces of furniture and see if I could sell some pieces. Everything evolved from there.

What inspires your creative process? How do you cultivate inspiration?
I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. Furniture serves a form and a function. I refer to Pinterest for visual inspiration and follow other wood workers. Sometimes a thought comes from random ideas. Usually it starts from an aspect of something cool or fun that I’ve seen. Then as a creative my mind moves toward, “How can I improve this and add my own flavor to it?” I really love mid century furniture and 1950s inspired pieces that have come back in vogue. They’ve proved to be somewhat timeless pieces. I try to put that twist on my pieces with all the lines and edges chamfered or rounded, softened when it comes to wood and furniture. 
A lot of times my design process begins with a sketch. Then I head to the shop and enjoy working with wood. Not so much metal. If it requires structural support, maybe metal. From the beginning of time people have been working with wood. There’s a sense of carrying on what people have been doing for thousands of years and building onto that tradition if you will. 

How does your space and shop continue to keep you inspired?

My workspaces mirror my workflow. I have one shop off site and one shop where I live. The shop at my house is much cleaner. It’s where I do my finishing, a space that’s dust-free. The inspiration for me is found in the machines and the raw wood lying around. This is a dedicated space where everything happens. There’s something about the creativity that happens when you can make a mess, having sawdust around, and you can leave your stuff at the end of the day. Then you come back and it’s sitting on the bench in pieces. With long projects you have all these pieces sitting there and there’s no forward momentum until you do a glue-up at the very end. It finally comes together and this piece, once sketches on a piece of paper, becomes real. Having the end vision in mind is really important because sometimes it’s just a bunch of parts until everything comes together. 

What are some ways you want to grow your business and your craft this year?
I want to explore and drill down my niche. What is the thing I can do better than anybody else? I think custom work is a part of that for this season. I really want to be known for mid century and custom work. But long-term, I want to explore flat-pack style furniture that can be pieced together and shipped in a box. IKEA started the whole idea and did it really well. I always ask myself why can’t you do that and have pieces that look custom and look like a $3000 end table. It looks and feels like a custom piece of furniture but ships and packs down into something that is portable and accessible to anyone in the world. That’s something I want to explore.

Tell me about life as a maker in Redding.
I’m fairly new to the game and think my answer will probably change over time. I follow a lot of other makers and woodworkers specifically. There is one guy in the Midwest and all he has for miles is cornfields around him. He has a hard time, but has done really well with custom work, even without being around any major city hub. In one sense, I really love that I can drive 2-3 hours and be in places like San Francisco and Sacramento. I can sell pieces to surrounding area. I like that Redding isn’t a major hub. Growing up in the foothills and the North Valley, I’ve always drawn inspiration from the mountains and the trees and the fact that it’s born out in the wilderness. It’s a place that feels removed and on the outskirts. I tend to do backpacking and that sort of thing. It’s perfect for my creative process.

At times in Redding, there aren’t as many high end clientele around as I would like. It’s a little harder to sell pieces in the custom furniture arena. But, I look at it as a challenge along the way.

What role do you play in transforming the community at large?

Redding is an interesting place because in some ways, I feel that Redding is a city of followers. We’ve always taken inspiration from other cities like Bend, Oregon or San Francisco or other places that are moving and shaking. But I see Redding as being full of leaders and movers and shakers that want to change that. I think we’re right around the corner of a shift. Instead of following and looking to others, we’re starting to lead and innovate. I see my part as helping that happen in the woodworking arena and pushing the envelope for design, aesthetic, and the craft. I think Redding is a special place to do that.

If you had one piece of advice to a maker starting out, what would you say.
You’ve just got to do it and get your hands dirty. Often times we get discouraged with social media. There’s always someone in our eyes who are better than us. You don’t learn and grow until you get out and just do it.

Interested in seeing more of David’s work? Find him on Instagram or the web.

what's in my bag australia

What’s In My Bag: Melbourne, Australia

The day has come! As we speak I’m flying over the Pacific Ocean to travel to Australia. While it will be a quick trip, around 7 days to be exact, I can’t wait to experience a distant land that I have already come to love. It’s been a battle to get on the plane, but one where the promise of adventure has been worth all the hustle.

Keep reading for the full post after the jump!

what's in my bag australia

Sources: High Waisted Shorts | White Relaxed Tee | Denim Dress | Striped Button Down |
Bomber Jacket | High Waisted Denim | Striped Tee Dress | Black Tee | Black Sandals | White Converse | Zipped Booties | Swimsuit

whats in my bag australia 2

When it comes to being a freelancer, I always get asked what I pack for my mobile office. I try to keep things streamlined with only the essentials. As I choose bags, I pick quality and carry on items that look stylish, but not super tech savvy. When traveling internationally, it’s always best to choose bags that don’t look like they house cameras and laptop gear. It makes hopping on trains, walking from place to place, and airports, less of a target. Anyways, these bags have gone with me to Eastern Europe, all over the states, and are now traveling to Australia.

Sources: 15 inch Macbook ProMagic Mouse | External Hard drive | Canon 6D Body | 50 mm Prime Focal Length Lens | Moleskine Notebook | Modern Commuter Backpack | Twill Weekender



let it explode

Monday Words: Let it Explode

A few weeks ago I found myself walking across Shasta Dam. Normally this is a common thing to do on a pretty day when you’re wanting to play with water and get a few spring and summertime photos. However, this day was different. It was iconic. The last time I was at the dam it was a rainy day. This winter and spring, we’ve had more rainy days that have followed. Downpours and hailstorms have come. Usually talking about the weather isn’t a great way to begin a conversation (or a blog post for that matter),  but as I crossed the dam underneath the spring sunshine, I realized there was a noise. Where we had a drought for three years, the dam was released and water was rushing through. I heard the rush of water and saw the water levels at an all time high for the first time in three years.

As I drove down the hills and bluffs that day, I found myself wondering and my heart soaring. What does it look like as a creative for it to explode? For the fullness of self, of creative desires and force to be released? No longer held back by obstacles, writer’s block, or fear of vulnerability, what happens when we let it explode? The dreams inside our heart, running after the deepest part of ourselves, and showing up in the fullness of who we are? Looking at the rush of water that day. I marveled. It was stunning and beautiful. The contrast of what we had known, the impossibilities we had heard, and what was set before us. It was juxtaposition and paradox set before me. I loved it.

When I write posts like this, I know it’s easy to say things like “Let it explode. Follow your dreams. Make money with your passion.” But it’s far more difficult actually do it. As I write this post, there are some changes I’m making around this space. After blogging for two years, I’ve been able to hone in on what it is I love to create, but more than anything long to have focus on what I’m creating. There are times where I’ve felt like a explosion of stress, and letting things explode meant giving grace to my heart in seasons, the long hours in the studio, the late nights and the all too early of mornings. There are other days where letting it explode has meant intentionality, giving generously, and finding the back roads, the uncharted trails, and getting lost in cities. Other days, letting it explode has meant the bursts of creative energy, going analog and finding the beauty in long hours, cultivating inspiration, and rediscovering the beauty of my craft and what started the love of design to begin with. As a creative, what does it mean to boldly create, evolve, and dedicate space to my craft? What does it mean to choose vulnerability, daring into the unknown, and surprising even myself when I innovate and change.

Today, whatever it looks like. Let it explode.