Friday, October 31, 2008

My "Stay at Home" Resume Makeover

I know, I know...  One of the great things about working for yourself, or having a home-based career, is that you don't have to lug around a resume anymore (read this recent interview of an Etsy seller who burned hers when she started selling online).  I mean, who wants to be constantly refreshing theirs anyway?  And besides, no one will take my "home work" seriously, right?

All of these thoughts were running through my head this morning as I pulled out my resume and considered how to update it with my work over the last 10 months (you know--the work I've been doing since I left my "real job" in corporate America earlier this year).  Did I really want to go through the effort of trying to update it?

Well...yes, for two reasons.  One is that I may need to "plug back in"--to the conventional workforce, that is--and I want to be prepared just in case.  Two is that I confess I'm prone to undervaluing work that doesn't fit the "norm," and so putting my activities of late down on paper may force me to appreciate their value.

So here are a few lines I would add to my resume:

Owner, Stephanie Hillberry Enterprises
January 2008-present
Founder and manager of operations for micro-business, including branding, marketing, promotion, finance, production and sales.
*  successfully launched online self-titled brand, including blog, website, and e-commerce site.
*  learned the command of web-based business essentials, including affiliate marketing programs, statistical analysis, SEO, web-design, and social networking.
*  increased web-viewership by 200% since business inception.
*  leveraged business platform to promote entrepreneurial achievements of  women, encourage knowledge of national and world events, inspire home-based economic solutions, and equip citizens for community action.

I know--it's a lot of fancy talk for a blogger who likes to sell handmade things on the side.  And it seems awfully sophisticated for someone who technically left her "real job" for more domestic pursuits.  But even though it certainly isn't the way I introduce myself to most people (especially you, dear readers), every word is true.

Talk to me about your "stay at home" resume by emailing me at or commenting here!

To read more Deviancy 101 posts, see below:
Also, check back in tomorrow for my weekly Saturday Sussie.  And I hope to see you next week when we tackle a taboo (no, it's not sex or religion.  It's money.).

Check it Out!

I received this promotional email from Heather Davis of Pink and White Design in my inbox this morning.  Some of you might remember that Heather was one of this fall's Marketplace Mavens.

Click here to read her interview, and don't forget to stop by her shop for a Halloween peek!

Handmade Preview

Happy Friday!

I'm enjoying this Halloween morning sipping some tea, reading the news, and enjoying our unusually balmy (77 degrees! in Colorado, no less!) weather.  After trying not to eat All of the trick-or-treat candy this week, I'm thankful we're almost rid of it!  Just a few more hours to go...

I thought that this morning I would talk a little about the coming holiday season, and preview what I have planned to write on, which is "Handmade Holidays."  I'm sure you can tell by the name that I'll be spending lots of time showcasing crafty marketplace mavens (click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "maven!"), chatting about the importance of small business, and showing some DIY holiday projects.

So, for a taste of what's to come, I wanted to show you my new sweater.  I just finished knitting it this week, and have been dying to wear it (although the weather seems to have other ideas...).  My first attempt was too big, my second too small, and this one (thankfully) fits just right!

Of course, for Handmade Holidays I'll be talking about what to give other people for gifts, so no more knit sweaters for me (well, maybe one more...).  

Stick around later today as I tackle my "stay-at-home" resume, and of course you won't want to miss tomorrow's Saturday Sussie! (Saturday what!?)
Also, don't forget to sign up to receive updates from this blog delivered to your email.  Click here to learn more.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Recession Proof Plan for the Work from Home Life

I've been talking this whole week about going off the grid--By rethinking the 9-5, the home, and the consumer cycle.  By overcoming objections and obstacles.  And by building a resume that rocks.

But what if I need to plug back into the grid?  Certainly the possibility is real.  My husband could lose his job, for instance, and I would immediately have to go back to work full-time to help make ends meet.  Or we could take on an unexpected medical expense.  Or wreck the car and have to buy a new one.  Or a family member could get sick.  Or...etc. etc.

The reality is that someday I may have to plug back in whether I want to or not.  I figure that I had better prepare myself for that possibility, especially during today's economy.  How?  Well, in two ways.  Call it my "recession proof plan" for the stay-at-home life:

Step #1:  I won't let my resume get stale.  Rather than let it sit on my hard drive or in a drawer collecting dust, now is the time for me to shake it off and shine it up!  I wrote yesterday that I shouldn't be intimidated by the gap between my last "real job" and the present day, and I definitely don't want to be afraid to add the work I've been doing under my "self-employed-stay-at-home" status.
For more information on creating a resume that rocks, read yesterday's post (click here).  Also, don't forget to check in tomorrow as I experiment with dusting off my resume.

Step #2:  I need to stay connected.  Writing is an isolating career, so I have to make sure that I don't let the inertia keep me from getting out and meeting people.  I believe in the old adage "it's not what you know but who you know."  In other words, the people in my circle are my best resources for offering encouragement, support, and leads if I need to find a new job in a hurry.  So, for me staying connected means that I get out by attending local networking events and volunteering.  And since my work is primarily online, it also means meeting new friends on the internet, too.  Especially the ones who live close to me.

These "recession proof" steps won't prevent bad things from happening.  And they won't guarantee that I will be able to work from home indefinitely.  But they will greatly increase the chances that if I do have to go back to the 9-5, I'll be ready to hit the ground running!

Imagine that--the 9-5 is my "back-up plan" rather than the other way around.  Just another quality of life "off the grid."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Building a Resume that Rocks

I've been plagued by a common misconception.  It is this: that when I quit my 9-5 job, my resume withered with it.  This misconception is founded on a standard view of resumes, which is that they are a brief synopsis of my jobs.  And "jobs" refers to those hours spent working for someone, punching a time clock, and getting a paycheck.  Any work outside of that criteria, as the logic says, is not really "work," and therefore not resume potential.

Given this rubric, my resume has perpetually stalled out at 28.  Bummer.

Of course, like with a lot of things this year, I've decided to think about resumes, and work in general, differently.  Starting with dumping the idea that a "job" has to be the clock-punching, regular paycheck variety described above.

So, that said, here are some things that I think should be added to the resumes of women, like myself, who are building careers outside of the 9-5:

*  Community involvement:  My preparations for emergencies and plans to be helpful to neighbors and community members aren't just flowery ambitions.  Considering that tax dollars are spent to provide these types of "safety net" provisions, I'd say I have the potential to positively contribute to the fiscal bottom line.  A potential that can be quantified and measured and reported in classic, resume style.

*  Resource management:  politicians and celebrities alike are keen on talking about how to be more environmentally friendly and waste less and consume more responsibly.  Well, how about adding some of those "resource-targeted" activities to my resume?  Like my support of handmade artisans and upcycling materials in my home and using meal planning to eat more wisely.  

*  Economic leadership:  apparently savvy economic-minded people are in high demand today (hello!  $700 billion bailout!).  I could add some of the home-economic skills I've employed over the past year as an example of economic leadership on a small scale (because obviously the Big Scale is getting rather overloaded!).

*  Entrepreneurial advances:  certainly resume-appropriate are the advances I've made in my business over this past year, demonstrating that creativity can be quantified, even if it deviates from the 9-5.

Given this perspective, I won't be intimidated by narrowly defined resume-worthiness ideals.  A great resume is one that is lived out for others to see.  Or, at least that's what I'm choosing to believe, anyway.

Check in on Friday as I experiment with this "resume reformation" by attempting to add the above to my own resume!  Don't miss it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meanwhile, in other News

note: smarty pants posts focus on current events, and not the celebrity kind.  Sadly, the events of late are...well, a bit sad.  So if you prefer "ignorance is bliss," read no further.

The end of a presidential election race is kind of like a tornado--it sucks up everything in it's path.  Meaning that it consumes the news, the commercials, and the internet.  Who can escape it?  

Meanwhile, the rest of the world keeps on turning.  So for a bit of perspective, here's what is happening outside of the election:

*  We aren't the only ones struggling with economic troubles.  Read about how interconnected our global economy really is through this account of monetary woes in Eastern Europe.  If you don't have the stomach for more economic articles, here's the skinny: Eastern European countries borrowed a lot of money to spruce up their nations in order to be accepted into the European Union.  Their bankers were Western European countries, which are currently under the same credit crunch we are experiencing.  And with currencies suddenly dropping like flies, everyone is feeling the squeeze, and the IMF (International Monetary Fund--aka Big Bank) is shelling out some bailout money of its own.

*  More talk and action on the "Green New Deal" concept.  If you follow environmental news, and wonder where the headlines have gone since the economy and elections have taken the spotlight, read this analysis published in Britian's Guardian for an update.

*  On a side note, I found that some of the Guardian's sidebar headlines read like a morbid menu: "Um, yes--I'll have the 'recession special' with the 'week of wrath' and a side of the 'banking crisis timeline.'  And for fun I think I'll order the 'credit crunch in cartoons' for dessert.  Thank you."

*  To remind us that the Middle East still has it's share of turbulence, read this article about a recent US strike in Syria.  Also, the Iraqi political leadership is sandwiched between the US and Iran as it tries to decide whether to allow US troops to stay in the country past the end of this year.  Can you guess Iran's opinion on the issue?  click here to read more.

*  And the US isn't the only one with an election looming.  Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, forced to leave his post due to accusations of corruption and scandal, will vacate the seat, with contenders Binyamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni dueling for the post.  Elections are likely to happen in early 2009.  read more here.

*  Back to the economy, it is important to remember that currency and credit crunches here equals food crises in the Southern Hemisphere.  Read this article to learn more about the growing global food crisis.  (I know--yet another crisis.  We're apparently crazy for crises these days...) I didn't mean to make you depressed by the headlines.  But the truth is that there really is a lot more going on in the world than Obama vs. McCain.  And if we don't know what is going on, how will we know how to respond?  

Did you miss my Election Exercises, designed to help me prepare for the coming vote?  Click here to catch up!

Overcoming Objections

I was watching "The Happening" last week, when a selection in the movie reminded me of life "off the grid."  It's the part where the main characters find themselves seeking refuge with a nutty older woman who lives completely isolated from the rest of the world.  With no electricity or radio or television, she truly was "off the grid."

The surprise of her guests regarding her lifestyle choices got me thinking that going off the grid isn't without its objections.  Sometimes people just don't understand (granted, the old bitty was also Completely Insane! but that's beside the point.).

Here are the top three objections, ideological and otherwise, that I've encountered this past year, and my rebuttals to them:

#1:  I'm wasting my education.  Stay-at-home moms probably run-up against this objection all the time.  After all, the idea of spending a small fortune on a college education only to end up staying home seems like a waste to the modern world.  Why bother? they ask.  Well, for starters, I believe that education is never wasted, regardless of what "career" you find yourself in.  Two, I use my education all the time.  When I'm writing, when I'm thinking about the world, when I'm strategizing for my business, and more.  The idea that a college education is only good for the 9-5 seems plain silly to me.

#2:  I'm unwisely making myself vulnerable by depending on someone else's income (my husband's, in my case).  I will talk a lot more about the "money issue" next week, but briefly--dependency isn't always a kiss of death.  Neither is one full-time income (as opposed to two).  More on this to come...

#3:  To willingly walk away from the opportunity to build a traditional career is to take a step back.  And stepping back diminishes the hard work and progress gained by women over the last several decades.  To be sure, I don't want to be ungrateful for the ladies who have paved the way for women to leave the kitchen and enter the workforce.  But I do want to make clear to myself that stepping out of the workforce and into a more entrepreneurial and domestic life is not a step back.  Many of the issues that we are facing today can be mitigated in part by a brand of leadership that flourishes outside of the 9-5.  Leadership that advances--not restrains--women.

There are other obstacles I've had to work through, and am still working through, in addition to these.  Like how to build a successful career on my own from scratch, how to navigate changing roles in my marriage (believe me, there have been lots of squabbles this past year), how to overcome isolation, how to stay disciplined, etc. etc.  But tackling the top three--mainly to convince myself--has proven to be the consistent challenge.

What are your objections to going off the grid?  Or what objections have you overcome?  Share your thoughts with me by commenting here or emailing me at

Previous Deviancy 101 posts:

Stick around later today for another Smarty Pants post (because as fun as it is, I have to know more than the People Magazine headlines...).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marketplace Mavens: Holly Becker of Decor8

note: Marketplace Mavens are inspiring female entrepreneurs who are setting an example through their lives and livelihoods that I want to follow.

I know that I'm a little late to the game, but this past week I stumbled into Decor8 (a popular design blog) for the first time and immediately knew that I wanted to highlight founder and editor, Holly Becker, as this week's Marketplace Maven.

Holly's blog (which was just featured in my shiny new copy of Domino magazine--one my many subscriptions), focuses on interior design and decorating and draws a whopping 20,000 readers daily!  Take it from a fellow blogger--that kind of attention take a LOT of Hard Work to get!

Apart from her obvious business savvy and very apparent super-style-skills (see the picture at right of her apartment in Germany), it is Holly's lifestyle that I think exemplifies her Maven-ness.  You see, Holly has really utilized her market success to live the kind of lifestyle that she and her husband value.  In their case, it's an international lifestyle of living in two countries during the year (Germany and the US).  Here's more on why she is a role model:

*  Holly worked very hard to get her blogging career off the ground, often enduring criticism and rejection from the design industry in the process.  (Click here to read more about that process, written by Holly.)  But obviously her perseverance paid off as her blog took off.

*  Like a lot of mavens, Holly had always dreamed of an unconventional lifestyle, which for her specifically meant living in Europe.  Her successful career as a blogger gave her the flexibility to accomplish that dream, but not without some careful planning first...

*  So, adding to her smart business sense, Holly also practiced some very impressive financial sense, saving her money and being mindful of her resources as she prepared to relocate part-time to Germany.  (Read her thoughts on this process by clicking here.)

In other words, Holly is an excellent example of a 
Marketplace Maven because her lifestyle and her business work in synch, both testifying to creative and thoughtful living.  How many of us dream of having our work and our living meld seamlessly together to reflect our values and be a catalyst for our aspirations?  Well, Holly is living evidence that it can be done!

To see more of Holly's design boards (like the one above), please take some time to visit Decor8 this week by clicking here.

Want to read more about Marketplace Mavens?  See the links below:

Stay tuned for more Deviancy 101 posts, coming tomorrow!  


Going Off the Grid

I'm approaching my ten-month anniversary of "going off the grid" at the end of this week-- meaning that I wrapped up my final days in my 9-5 corporate career in finance just before Christmas last year and have been blazing a new trail ever since.

That being said, I've obviously have a lot of time to ponder what life is like "off the grid"--both good and bad--and want to spend the next week talking out-loud about it if that's okay.  

So, for starters, I see "going off the grid" as intentionally unplugging from the standard "power source" prescribed for young women in my generation.  In my experience, this unplugging happened in three areas:

1.  rethinking the 9-5.  I was faithfully clocking in my hours in a respectable career that I had worked really hard to break into, but I was unhappy.  I saw lots of other women doing well in my company, and they seemed energized and motivated to move forward.  Meanwhile, I was desperately trying to squeeze creative activities into my sparse leisure time and daydreaming about a different life.  I wasn't exactly sure what that life looked like, much less how to get there, but I knew that I needed to find a "career" that fell outside of the traditional "career" path.  So I took the plunge, handed in my resignation, and have been living "off the grid" ever since.

2.  reviving the domestic arts.  With more time on my hands, I started to think more seriously about my role as an economist--a home economist, that is.  And not in the high-school let's-sew-a-pair-of-pajama-pants home-economist, but a genuine economic leader.  This was, of course, a real deviation from the norm.  Young women my age with my education, experiences and connections aren't supposed to seek out an apron!  I was stepping off the grid again.

3.  unplugging from the Clever Consumer Cycle.  I'd been questioning the value of the rat-race for years--the work to get paid to buy stuff as cheaply as possible leading you to want to buy more stuff and then work some more.  Leaving the 9-5 and picking up some domestic arts only strengthened my questioning.  Was this really what life was about?  I mean, what did my spending say about my values?  How mindful was I being with my resources?  What about my debt?  And so on and so on.  Going off the grid has seriously dampened this persistent cycle, and for the better in my opinion.

So, in a nutshell, going off the grid for me meant that I had to rethink career, home and consumption.  And I'm still in the process of...well, processing it all.  

What do you think?  Do you think I'm a fool for quitting the 9-5?  A feminist traitor for pursuing domesticity?  An idealist for questioning modern consumerism?  Or have you, too, stepped off the grid and can relate to my story?  Share by commenting here or emailing me at

Stay tuned tomorrow when I talk about some of those sticky ideological constraints to living off the grid, and later today when I introduce another Marketplace Maven (Yay!).

Previous Deviancy 101 posts:

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Sussie: Journals

note: every Saturday I share you with you my fun finds for the week.  I call them sussies.  It's a Texas term, apparently.

For those of you who don't know...I'm wild about journals.  I have written in some type of pretty little notebook almost every day since I was nine years old.  I know--it makes for A Lot of journals!  
Naturally I'm always on the lookout for fun new books to scribble my thoughts in.  Above are some of my recent finds in the journal department, all from (you guessed it!) Etsy sellers.  

They are (from right to left):
Sambiamb's letterpress Write journal (direct link)
Buddy Designs' Fabric Embellished journal (direct link)
Every Jot and Tittle's Tiny Upcycled Mini books (direct link)
Pressa Russa's Large Moleskine's "Thank you Miss Moneypenny" journal (direct link)

Catch up on previous Saturday Sussies:

Stay tuned next week to read more on Deviancy 101, as well as more of my Smarty Pants thoughts!  Can't wait to see you then!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Election Exercise #5: Avoiding End-of-the-Stretch Election Traps

note: smarty pants posts are my routine thoughts on current events.  And even though we're all getting terribly tired of it, the elections are indeed current...

Well, I've studied my issues.  I've gotten to know my candidates (the local ones).  I've figured out where I need to vote.  And I've even tabulated my taxes.  Just one last thing before I hit the poles:  I have to dodge the cleverly laid, end-of-the-stretch, election traps.

These traps are designed to distract me, to tickle my fancy, and elicit an emotional (as opposed to rational) response.  They are as follows:

1.  Apocalyptic claims.  You've heard them before.  They are the ones that promise the END of the WORLD at the advent of so-and-so being elected. or this bill being passed, or that judge being confirmed.  Yes, I understand that people are passionate about candidates and causes, but do we really think that the immediate outcomes of this election cycle will dramatically result in civilization as we know it crashing to an end?  Given the testimony of history, I'd say it's highly unlikely.  And I'm skeptical of anyone who suggests otherwise.

2.  Hyper-partisanship.  As if we don't have enough partisanship during the year, it seems intensified during this final stretch.  Now, a dose of partisanship is good for any country--keeps democracy on its toes.  But when members of either party start publicly suggesting that all the troubles that ail us are strictly to blame on the "other guys," I start to tune out.  In government, like everything else, it takes two (or more!) to tango.

3.  Oversimplification.  In our age of 30 second sound bites, it is efficient and practical to squeeze highly complicated issues (like the demise of our economic system) into neat, finger-pointing, stump-ready packages.  Oh lament the listener who believes it is that simple!  Contrary to what we may be led to believe, politics, regardless of who's driving, never have the luxury of operating in a vacuum.  Rather, they are thrown into the jumble with everything else (like business, education, religion, and culture), and thereby Way exceed the sound bite time limit.

I, for one, will resist these attempts to persuade my voting decision, and will instead make a choice based on the information I learned from my other election exercises!  Trap endured (only 2 more weeks) and avoided!

Did I miss any traps?  Let me know what you think by emailing me at or commenting here.

To catch up on previous election exercises, read below:

Exactly What I've Been Searching For!

That's perfect!  Just what I've been looking for!

Brought to you by Deviancy 101.  Tune in next week to learn more!
Previous Deviant Posts:

Don't go far--catch my last Election Exercise, posting later today.  And don't miss tomorrow's Saturday Sussie (treasures and trinkets for fun!)!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Defining Deviancy...

When I hear the word deviant today, I usually get an instant picture in my mind.  I see a young teenager, outcast as a result of either her persistent rebellion or extreme social awkwardness.  Or I imagine someone whose (ahem) "bedroom practices" are (ahem again) "unconventional."  It might seem strange, then, that I would choose deviant, of all adjectives, to promote a specific type of living.  Let me explain...

According to Webster's dictionary, a deviant is "someone who departs from the usual or accepted standards in society."  It comes from the Latin word meaning "turning out of the way."  And that is precisely what I feel I've done over this past year.

For instance, I "turned out of the way" when I quit my promising career in corporate America to start writing about domestic affairs.  I "departed from the usual standard" when I forfeit a steady income in order to stay home--without children, nonetheless!  And within the context of these choices are a whole bundle of other unorthodox decisions that deviate from the norm, which I will talk about in more detail in the weeks to come.

I certainly never intended to become a deviant.  In fact, the majority of my life prior to these most recent events have been precisely the opposite--I've lived well within the "usual and acceptable standards."  But, perhaps like many others who stray off the beaten path, I'm starting to like my new status.  Even better, I'm seeing how sometimes the solutions we've been searching for are found in unlikely places.  

We just need to deviate a little to find them.

Join me next week as I talk about "going off the the grid"--it's part of Deviancy 101.  And please send me your stories of deviancy (not the bedroom type!  I don't want to know!) by emailing me at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Am I Deviantly Disappointing?

I thought for my introduction to Deviancy 101 I would tell you a story about a recent event I attended.  It was a lecture on civic engagement hosted by a fellowship for young college graduates.  The fellowship--a combination of rigorous academic study and an internship--is very similar to a program that I had the opportunity to participate in while I was still a college student.

I attended the lecture to a) be inspired, and b) to talk with current fellows about life and their plans for the future and their perspective on the world.  And of course I ended up talking about what I'm up to these days (blogging), which led to conversations about what I write about (being deviantly domesticated).

I couldn't help but wonder, as I talked to these ambitious young people, what they thought of my life choices.  I mean, it was not so long ago that I was in their very shoes, exploring my career options and thinking seriously of a life in public leadership (aka politics) or non-profit management.  Less than eight years later, I was working from home and writing about...well...home.  I wondered if they deemed me a disappointment, as if I'd somehow traded-in my higher aspirations for domestic life.

I found myself asking some serious questions while driving home.  Was I really a disappointment to my education and opportunities (I had lots of both)?  Was I making a mistake by leaving the workforce to build a career from home?  Was I sacrificing opportunities for leadership by taking this unconventional path?

Culturally I suppose that I feel some pressure to answer "yes" to those questions.  But I can't shake the conviction that my "lifestyle makeover" really was the right choice.  Choosing to deviate from the norm has been liberating (albeit a bit challenging).  And over the next several weeks I want to talk about how those deviant choices might actually open doors (rather than close them) for leadership and financial success.  Call it Deviancy 101.

To read more about my personal journey into deviancy, click here.
And don't forget to subscribe to my blog to start receiving automatic Deviancy 101 updates delivered to you!  click here learn more.
And stay tuned later this week for more Election Exercises (my ways of getting ready for the vote), and my first Book Sleuth review!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election Exercise #4: Knowing My Candidates

note: smarty pants posts are my routine thoughts on current events.  And even though we're all getting terribly tired of it, the elections are indeed current....

These days it's good to be a candidate for a federal office.  Lots of media coverage, fancy commercials, interviews and sound bites and snazzy websites....  Of course, it costs a fortune, but at least the people know who you are!

When I say that I want to know my candidates this election, then, I'm not talking about those candidates.  Rather, I'm talking about the other ones--the candidates running for local councils and state seats and county posts.  The candidates who don't have money to spend on commercials and snazzy websites.  The faces I'll never see on the evening news or morning talk shows or hear on the mainstream radio.

These are the candidates that I need to research a little more.  I need to at least know their basics: their names, experience, philosophy and background.  For some of them (like my local city council members, for instance), I can't even fall back on the golden standard, the party affiliation, because affiliation isn't even listed.  So I need to know something more.  I need to do my homework.

And how?  Well, I'm finding that the local newspaper is a great place to start for coverage on local candidates.  In addition to the myriad of opinion letters that my local peers write-in to the paper regularly, there are also the "get-to-know" pieces that most papers run during an election cycle.  Plus there are the local blogs.  And the various leaflets and pamphlets that are circulating about town.

And why do I think it's important to know about these people?  Because I'm convinced that their decisions impact my life at least as much as the federal decisions do.  Plus, they are usually Way more accessible if I have questions or concerns.  And I think they--and the unglamorous offices they are running for (often while also holding down regular jobs)--balance out the rather sensationalized and expensive business of politics these days.  

And because I genuinely appreciate the sacrifice they are making, I think they deserve my informed vote, not just my absent-minded-fill-in-the-blank vote.

Share your thoughts on this up-coming election by commenting here or emailing me at

Read about previous Election Exercise posts:

Don't forget to subscribe to this blog today to receive regular updates (there's lots of them!).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marketplace Mavens: Hannah Breshears of Red Tandem Studio

note: Marketplace Mavens is a weekly column highlighting the spectacular talent of women entrepreneurs.  Whether they are hobbyists, full-powered business owners, or somewhere in between, these ladies are sure to inspire you to venture into the marketplace yourself!

I had the privilege of recently sitting down over a cup of coffee (well, I had tea) with Hannah of Red Tandem Studio, and am very excited to showcase her business as this week's Marketplace Maven.

Hannah specializes in graphic design and letterpress, creating custom imaging, stationery and invitations for her clients.  It is easy to see why she is successful--her designs are great!  They have a mix of whimsy and sophistication all rolled into one (especially her signature tandem bicycles).  

After leaving a full-time job with a local newspaper to pursue her own business, Hannah shared with me some of the in's and out's of operating your own business.  Here are some of the best tips I tucked away from our conversation:
*  When taking a leap into your business, be prepared to continue working a "conventional" job while your venture is still young. Hannah, for instance, works part-time so that she can continue earning but still have time to pursue her new business.

*  Word of mouth is a gold mine for any business.  The majority of Hannah's customers find her via word of mouth--she hasn't even had to pay for advertising yet!  In other words, relationships and good customer service mean everything!

*  Eventually you have to get into the nitty-gritty-business-stuff, like taxes, licensing, etc.  I got an education about sales tax just in the short time I talked with Hannah, which means that she's done her homework.  Mavens don't let the technical aspects of operating a business hold them back--rather, they dive in and learn as they go.

*  Sometimes small is best.  Contrary to the "bigger is better" mantra that is preached in business circles, small can be a good goal.  Hannah wants her business to grow--but not too much.  In other words, like many Mavens out there, she wants to find enough financial reward in her creative talents to support a flexible, family-friendly lifestyle, but isn't interested in building an empire.  

As with all the Mavens who are featured on this blog weekly, Hannah values the support and encouragement of friends, family, and women like you.  So please take a few minutes to visit her website (click here), her online stores (click here and here), and her blog (click here).  Know a friend who is getting married and in the market for beautifully designed custom invitations?  Pass on Red Tandem Studio to her!  Or consider sending Hannah an email to thank her for being a Marketplace role-model!

Have you missed previous mavens?  Then check out these ladies:
Interested in reading about more Marketplace Mavens in the weeks to come?  Then don't forget to subscribe to this blog to receive automatic updates!  (click here to learn more)

the Book Sleuth: Introductions

I'm rolling out yet another feature here on Deviantly Domesticated (a girl can't have too many features, you know!) called the Book Sleuth.  Because I'm a self-proclaimed Nerd (seriously--I love libraries.  And bookstores.  And, and I read A Lot of books, I thought I would share what I'm reading with you on the off-chance that you might be interested, too.

For the record, I tend to find myself wandering more in the non-fiction side of the bookstore than the fiction side, so sorry--no romance novel updates or great reviews on the latest international story-telling wonder.  Or at least you probably won't find me reading them often (although please feel free to send me your recommendations!).

What I do read a lot of, however, are books on cooking and on crafting (I Love Crafting!) and on home design.  I also read a lot on contemporary issues, like our modern food system, consumer culture, and some political prose.  And I Really enjoy books on the economy (they're my favorite), and so help me, God, if I don't manage to convert you into an Econ fan yourself! (I promise, it's not all lame...)

On a technical front, when I feature a book, I'll also provide a link to it under the "currently reading" section of my sidebar so that you can check it out for yourself.  And if you end up reading it, let me know what you think!  

Send me your sleuthing recommendations by emailing me at
Also, stick around later today for this week's Marketplace Maven, Hannah Breshears of Red Tandem Studio!
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