Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inside the Lakeside Bridal Fair: A Vendor's View

I'm not gonna lie. Preparing for my first bridal fair was an incredibly stressful experience. I was nervous about everything. Whether my booth would look too "home-made". Whether the brides would like my work. I had nightmares of them laughing at me or throwing all my stuff on the floor. If the other vendors would mock the first time newbie. And I admit, I did throw my scissors at my incredibly patient, super sweet fiance when he suggested I try calming down to cut my paper straight. But after a lunch trip down to Bass Pro Shop and a few drinks from the open bar (as well as lots and lots of cake samples!) I got in the zone.


There he is helping me set up. Isn't he a doll? Seriously, he was so supportive and completely dove in when it came time to sell the business. The man is money ladies! You should all get a country boy of your very own.
I almost put the kibosh on the hand-sewn bunting. Nobody else had anything like it, and I was afraid of being to Etsy with everything. This probably would have been a bigger hit at a craft fair. But you live, you learn, right?

I was shocked that the invitation suite I designed for our wedding was the biggest hit. I thought people might find it a bit too themed, but lots of brides complemented it. I'm hoping to get a few commissions for it in the near future. But by far my most common question, "What's with the beans?" Argh! I thought I was being so clever, making a play on my business name, Sprout Graphics. I thought it was such a cute touch. Apparently I need to spell things out a bit more. There were also quite a few people asking me what it was I provided. Um... wedding invitations? Those things you mail out that tell people where and when to party? I don't know. It's always hard to sell yourself, so I was incredibly grateful I had the Boy to do a lot of that for me.
Of course the monograms made an appearance. And of course, nobody understood them. They thought they were centerpieces, or table cards. Which they could be, I suppose. Apparently I need to rethink my booth display.

I made sure to include my sweet little blankets and tshirts. Those garnered their fair share of attention too. I'll have to really vamp up my website and start my eblasting to see how much business I can drum up from the booth. But overall I'd say my foray into the fair biz was overwhelming. I'll try to save making a judgment after I can really gauge what the response will turn out to be. But for now, I think my booth was really cute, and I'm happy with the product line I came up with for Spring 2010.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

WIWOT: Texas Hitchin' Post Website


Getting married in Texas? Well then you need the Texas Hitchin' Post! The brainchild of, who else, the ProviPlace owner, THP is designed to be a state-wide listing of vendors offering brides special deals and discounts for the big day. We had a site built over a year ago by a major programming company, but it was cumbersome and difficult to navigate to say the least.  We also never really achieved the visual we were going for. And I was the girl to finally get it done!

It seems that with certain projects the inspiration is totally there and I can knock it out in a snap. This was definitely one of those projects. We still have some tweaking left to do, and lots of ads to design and build, so I'll hold off on featuring the entire site. But for now, enjoy the beauty that is our homepage. And that lovely model is my bff, Stacie from The Landon Exchange! We keep it in the family.

P.S. does this layout look familiar? That's because it is!

And I love that though the framework is the same, it's a completely different look. If it ain't broke, right?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Two Days to Launch!


It's almost here! My big debut into the wedding world. I'm nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs! But I think everything will end up brilliantly. Until then, here's the schpeal from the website, for all you ladies out there who may like to attend a Rockwall, Texas bridal fair.
Brides and Bridal Party - Come out and see us at the Lakeside Bridal Fair!!
The first 75 Brides get a Provi Gift Card!!!

The BIG Day is Here!!!!
This Sunday Feb. 28th,
12:00 - 4:00pm
Hilton Bella Harbor Rockwall
2055 Summer Lee Dr.
This show is sure to dazzle you with it's exquisite design by United Party Rental and The Hilton Bella Harbor

~ Cake tastings, floral design, decorations, wedding dresses, catering samples, wedding party ideas, the hottest venues, invitations and so much more! Look at the list of vendors that will be on site to help you plan your mist important day!
Highlights: ~Big-Band Performance by Special Guest Paul Salos from America's Got Talent!!!
~ Tours of the The Most Stunning Hotel in DFW highlighting the Honey-Moon Suite guided by Hilton's Expert Wedding Planning staff.
~ Live Hair Design Demonstrations by Salon 306
~ Live Performances from Wedding Singers throughout the day - see your favorite in action!
~ Fabulous prizes worth thousands of dollars! And Vendors are giving away really great deals at this show! Visit the website to see who is coming to the show and a list of fabulous prizes!
~ First 75 Brides receive Providence Place Bridal Shop and Wedding Venue Gift Card!
~ Catering Demonstration and Cake Tastings on Site
~ Drinks Fantastic with Open Drink Sampling Bar!!
~Fashion Show - ALL DAY - View the hottest gowns available - and yes they are all from Providence Place Bridal Shop!!!
~ Grooms and Dad's get in Free!! (ok all Gents get in free and football season is over so they have NO Excuses!!) and SO MUCH More!! This show is truly amazing! You will be sad if you miss this one!
Free Mailing Labels ~ Brides who register online will receive FREE mailing labels to use at the event and every bride will receive a goody bag!
Mega Bridal shows leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed~ that is no way to spend your precious time when planning your dream wedding. Come out and enjoy the wedding planning process as the best Wedding Vendors in North Texas help you plan the perfect day in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere! See you at the Hilton!
The Fun starts at 12:00 noon and doors close at 4:00pm ~ See you and your friends there!
Location: Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel
2055 Summer Lee Drive
Rockwall TX

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can't Wait to Boogie

The invites are done! Well, the invites are designed, so step 1 is fully complete. And I'm pleased as punch with how everything came out. The funniest part is whenever I show them to someone, it seems that it must be read in your best deep southern drawl. 

Choosing the wording was a bit of a challenge for me. I wanted it to be informal, and still proudly flaunt that we're hosting this shindig ourselves. I may not have mentioned it before, but I'm paying for the wedding all by my lonesome. Just me, the bride. Certainly not your most common situation when it comes to wedding funding. But given the fact that the Boy is still a starving college student, there weren't exactly many other options. And since I'm such a DIY maven anyway I know we'll have a gorgeous party with a tiny price tag. Plus, it gives me the infallible excuse to bust out my Yudu and screenprint everything!

Ah, my favorite! I love how all the words grouped together so nicely, that the sweet little butterfly (a nod to our bouquets) fit in, and the sassy wording on the response. I'm sure I'll get a few raised eyebrows by the blue-hairs. But I just want to squeal over it's cuteness!! I can't decide what colors I'll print these in. I want to mix it up a bit from the STD's. Maybe red ink with brown paper backing for the invite, and orange ink for the reply. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cheater, Cheater

I have a confession to make. I used a template site for my wedding website (cringe). Yes, I know. But I'm only slightly ashamed. Being a professional designer (and yes, website developer) keeps me pretty busy. And the thought of taking those potentially money-making hours away from my schedule to work on a personal site only up for a couple of months wasn't really sitting well. And since I've been using WeddingWire for all my planning needs, I figured, what the heck? I'll use their website tool!


And I am so glad I did! It was beyond easy, and they have loads of cute options. I chose the fall leaves design since that was my color inspiration, and though it doesn't match my wedding exactly (well, really only vaguely), I'm really happy with it. You can personalize your welcome message, and add a photo gallery along with your love story.


The features alone are worth it, as it would take me hours to code my own database for the RSVP option, and it even embeds my blog as a feed!

It saved me time, added great functionality to the whole planning process, and overall was just a dream to do. Now I can tell guests I have a website out there, and they can find the link to our registry and everything. As much as the designer in me cringes that it was not hand-crafted to match our wedding, the realist in me loves the penny-free process (yes, it's also FREE!) and breezy completion. I've even corrupted a fellow designer bride to use it too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snowy Days, and Staying Motivated


Sigh. Snow in Texas. Not that it isn't gloriously pretty, but having my childhood up in New England has worn out my fascination that seemingly every Texan has with the fluffy stuff. What I love about this state is the heat, the blissful dry heat melting my skin. Ahhh, just thinking of it makes me smile. I'm ready for the frost to thaw and the sun to come out in full force, kind of like two days ago. This truly is a bipolar state.

The pups had a good time figuring out what this wet stuff was. And the boys wore themselves out throwing snowballs and sledding.

And of course there's a lot of snow wrestling going on. This is why I always hold the camera. So I can threaten lives if anyone so much as touches me. Most of the time they listen. But sometimes I end up like this poor victim. Today I was lucky. Tomorrow?
Poor girl. I'm pretty sure they had a good time making up later though! One thing that I'm still not immune to is the energy of a canceled school day. All these young college folk gamboling around make it easy for me to get wrapped up in the celebration. And forget all about working. It's easy enough to do on a normal day, I have bursts of creative energy where I tackle projects like a madwoman, and handfuls of time where all I can do is stare blankly at the wall. Reading blogs helps to motivate me again, but most of the time work is intermittent. I'll get on a roll early in the morning, or at 11 and stay up all night finishing something up. I guess that's the benefit of the stage of life I'm in right now, I don't have kids who need me every second or a house to keep clean or many mouths to feed. So for now, I'll try to keep on keepin' on and finish up my to-do list for today. Despite the snowballs pounding my windows.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inside the Bridal Fair: A Model View

You gotta love a good bridal fair. The booths, the free cake, the dresses everywhere. When the ProviPlace owners decided to host their own fair, instead of splurging on professional models, they recruited all the young women in their lives to strut around in poufy white dresses.


Aren't we just lovely? Spending four hours lugging around forty pounds of silk in stilettos isn't exactly a cake walk though. I mean, some of those gowns are immense! But a lot of it really is just fun and games. We get our hair done...
We textually harass our boyfriends to put a ring on it...

And sometimes... we enjoy a little flashback to 1986...

Though most mega bridal fairs have a staged, traditional fashion show, these gals chose to have a wandering show, where the models walk around the booths. This way, brides can see the dresses up close, ask about sizes and colors, and even go try it on themselves! I thought this was a brilliant idea. And using the locals was a great choice as well. Girls of every height, color and size were represented. And this year it's even better, as Providence Place is having high school girls compete to be the next ProviGirl to win modeling opportunities and a free Jovani prom dress! The fair this Sunday is when they'll decide the winner from the five fabulous finalists. What a brilliant, innovative way to market your boutique. Now I just have to apply it to my own business.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Horsin' Around

There's nothing more precious than a baby horse. Except maybe a calf. Or a puppy. Or I guess a baby, but they're all so darn cute!  Sweet baby Chaz was born last week, and is already a peppy little punk. And never strays far from his mama's watchful eye.

Aren't they sweet? He's so rambunctious, he's already running all over the place and playing with everything. Look at him go!

I can't get enough of his little horsey face. Here, take another gander.


The boy, who sees this every day because he works here, was amused at my shutterbug addiction with the little fella.

I think I might have an addiction to freckles and blue eyes too. We had a blast hanging out with the little colt, and taking a ride on a couple of his buddies to kill some time on this rare sunny February afternoon.

Pretty girl Goody even got in on the action. Gotta love a sun flare! But back to the good stuff.

Mmmmm.... velvet noses. And now one more for the road.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spotlight: Web Banners

I have to admit, I really like designing web banners. Something about the compact space, and the overall size of the imagery. It's a challenge. Making them look punchy without the cliche style so many have takes a lot of creativity. But I still love them. Don't these look cute? The one above is for Armed Forces Day, when men and women in the service can take free relationship classes with their families. Love it.


This one has the same principle. Free classes for law enforcement officers. Their jobs present unique challenges, and they actually have a pretty high divorce rate. These classes help families learn effective communication skills and how to cope with the stressful environments they're put in. Plus I just love the font. 


Don't you just want to click on this bad boy? I love the fun font, the cute flowers, and the overall impact this one delivers.

This one is the most classic design that I've done. Standard images, text below. But I tried to bring in fun colors and atmosphere to make it more interesting.


How eye-catching is this? Way more exciting than a standard movie marquee. I played around for a while in Illustrator to create such brilliance. And by a while I mean five minutes. Yeah, I've got a good supply of vectors to draw on. Gotta love it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mario Party


Back in the day when I was more involved with entertaining people,  I had a Wii Mario Party! Instead of doing a typical evite, I drew up an illustration that had all the party info up top where you normally see the score. I also drew little WiiMotes in their hands. I know, I'm a total dork. If only I'd kept all my pictures, I would share with you the delicious cookies I made with fondant cut out in the Mario landscape shapes. Yup, when I commit to a party, I COMMIT! Those suckers took, like, five hours to bake and decorate. Now that the Cricut Cake is coming out, I'll need to do a little more experimentation. I am unnecessarily excited about this sucker. Though I have to wait until July to start playing, sigh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

WIWOT: LE Posters, the Finale


Aaaaaaaand.... they're back! After a complete 180 on design, and several revamps along the way we have a final product! And I'm completely ecstatic with how these babies turned out. They are a gem in my collection.  Here's the rest of the collection. To keep things interesting in the rounds of email, I've named them so I can keep track with my fabulous, talented client.

Meanie Greenie. Holds nothin' back. Punchy information, make no mistake!

The Big Orange. Very good for your immune system. An instant mood enhancer.
Pink Punk. In your face and not sorry about it. Enjoys loud music and car karaoke.

Mellow Yellow. Needs friends pretty bad. Help him out with a donation, will you?
Red-Headed stepchild. Prone to fits of fury. Best to placate mood swings with cash money.

The PITA. aka Does Not Play Well With Others. It took us AGES to figure out how to finagle those words into an arrangement that was even remotely pleasing. 30 attempts later, we found it. Our High Maintenance Hottie.

True Blue. Mr. Reliable. Pulls through in a crunch.
So there they all are! I still can't get over how good they all look. I'm ready for them to be pulled off the press and in my hot little hands. Maybe I'll poster my bedroom with them. You never know!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fun and Flirty Recipe Cards


Back before I was a YuDu addict, I had a Gocco. Ever heard of a Gocco? It's a nifty little handheld  screenprinting device that you can print stationery with. I had wanted one for ages and ages, and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed once I worked with it. I couldn't quite figure out how to make it print how I wanted it to. Not to mention the obvious problem that it's out of production and thus supplies are ever-dwindling in quantity and ever-increasing in demand. But I did get one really fun project completed, these sweet little recipe cards. My original plan was to have 8 different designs, but I narrowed it down to four.

The live so happily atop my Target bread box (a great birthday present from the boy) in my Eat cookbook holder. It never held a cookbook well anyway. It's much happier with my petite recipe cards there.

I love the bright, happy addition to my lonely collegiate kitchen. When all my dreams come true and I have my fantasy kitchen, you'll no doubt see this quirky little combo perched happily under my open shelving.