DIY Mockups for My Business

From the “spring gone get whatever body I give it” files…

Happy Wednesday!

What’s the weather where you are? Yesterday in Maryland was hot and today is going to be even hotter! So ummm…about all that chocolate I’ve been eating lately…

I experimented a little more with taking pics for my tshirt mockups yesterday. And though I wasn’t spring-ready, I still knotted that shirt up and struck a pose…because who gone check me??

Do you use mockups for your tshirt brand? I do love the convenience of the etsy mockups, however I’ve noticed that there are very few that have people of color as models. And I feel as though my brand is too diverse for one model type. And hello…I’m black and I want black representation for my products.

So…what’s a girl to do? I pulled out my tripod and got to work! Because sometimes you just gotta do it yourself, amiright?? I think I got a few good shots. Can’t wait to share them!

Here’s a little sneak peek of my mock-ups in action.

I still have some work to do to perfect the pics and poses. I need to work on being conscious of light, shadows, and backgrounds. And I definitely need to work on facial expressions lol. But it’s been fun doing this and I feel like every time I try it, I get a little better. And even though this is the free method of acquiring mockups, and that’s hella dope, the best takeaway is that I have pics that I feel represent me and my brand without spending hours on etsy. And I just love that!

#diymockups #pocmodels #diversitymatters #repesentationmatters #minoritybusinessowner #etsyowner #etsygrammer #dropshipper #diyphotoshoot #smallbusiness #entrepreneurlife #blackblogger #blackentrepreneurs #marylandgirl #blacketsyshop #loveyourbody #tshirtbrand #shopifyseller

Simple DIY Photo Frame Upgrade

Me and my spraypaint were at it again this week. This time I did a super easy, super cute upgrade to some basic silver frames that I got from the Dollar Tree.

As is, these frames were cute and inexpensive but I thought adding a gold dipped corner may add a little umph to them.

I started with these two basic silver frames. I really liked that they came with a matte border if you choose to use it…which I did.

Using blue painters tape, I taped around the frame, leaving one corner exposed to be painted. I did two really light coats of spray paint for each frame, letting the first layer dry about an hour before putting on the second coat.

Then using my canva app/website (if you don’t use this, and you do a lot of design work or social media graphics, I suggest trying it), I created some simple text for my frames.

I printed them, cut them to size and popped them into the frames super easy!

I love how they came out! They look super cute on my entry way shelf!

Let me know if you like this and try something similar. I love Dollar Tree (or budget) DIY’s! Especially when they are easy.

Like my “Hello” and “Goodbye” signs?? Subscribe to my email list and I’ll send you the “Hello” and “Goodbye” sign downloadables as my way of saying thank you! Who doesn’t love a free printable??

Buying Cute Affordable Glasses Online

Have you ever ordered glasses online?

For years, my annual trip to the eye doctor was always an ordeal. Because of the insurance I had, I was able to get a new pair of glasses each year, and I loved it. I love having different styles and colors and brands. And I love having glasses already planted in every space I need them without having to worry about toting them around. I keep pairs at the office, sunglasses in my car, and pairs of glasses in my nightstand, in the living room, etc. Any place I frequent, where I may also need to see something clearly, I keep glasses there.

I hated making appointments to get glasses. Going in seemed like such a hassle and it was always a numbers game with what insurance covers and what I like. And several times, I almost flipped the table over out of frustration with the whole process.

Over the years, I have accumulated quite a stash of glasses. I had several pairs of regular glasses and sunglasses. Eventually after assessing my insurance needs, I revised my vision plan, and opted to stop getting an annual pair. It just didn’t make sense to deduct money from my paycheck each pay period for something I really didn’t need.

But I still LOVE eyeglasses and occasionally I want a new pair just because.  So I found a place online, Eye Buy Direct, that has cute, budget-friendly glasses. They are quick with turnaround and the glasses are good quality. They have a few name brands, but they don’t really carry the Coach, Michael Kors, Gucci, etc. brands. But they do have Ray Ban and Oakley. Which is fine by me. I want something fun, colorful, trendy without paying a ton of money. When I want my expensive name brand frames, which I do still purchase occasionally, I can go elsewhere. For my play glasses and fun frames, this suits me perfectly!

For example, this cute fun red pair cost me less than $35 with prescription and shipping! Seriously…can you beat that??

What has your online glasses experience been? Have you tried it? If not, would you?

DIY BUDGET SUNBURST MIRRORS

I am in love with the boho basket wall and sunburst mirror trend. It’s such a soothing and simple aesthetic, and even better, it’s quite budget friendly to create!

You can easily find cute baskets in your local thrift store. You can incorporate some fun touches like paint or tassels and effortlessly design a personal piece that suits your specific space.

Due to COVID-19, shopping and browsing and thrifting has been off the table for me for the most part. I have allowed myself an occasional dash through the dollar store. And I have definitely placed SEVERAL curbside or delivery orders from Michael’s, Target, and Walmart over the past few months.

So I decided to try my hand at creating sunburst mirrors to go with the existing rattan mirrors I had on my living room wall, and I love the way they turned out!

With a few clicks of the mouse, I had all of my materials acquired. And with a few squirts of the glue gun, my mirrors were all assembled. Here’s what I did!

I gathered my materials.

For the small sunburst, I used two packs of wooden dowels from dollar tree and a 5″ mirror from Michael’s.

For the large sunburst, I used 1.25 packs of bamboo skewers from Walmart and a 10″ mirror from Michael’s.

Using my glue gun, I glued the sticks around the back of the mirrors. Space the sticks however you’d like. There’s really no wrong or right…it will all look cute! Notice that the glue job is not super perfect. Trust me, that’s ok. The impefections kinda just add to the boho aesthetic.

Then I cut a circle out of cardboard. I just used the box from some of the packages I’ve had delivered…use whatever you have lying around, and if you don’t have cardboard, improvise. I’m sure there are many things laying around the house that would work just as well.

So…I adhered the cardboard to the back of the mirror with my glue gun. I layered additional smaller pieces of cardboard on top of each other to create a reinforced area to insert the hook that I’m going to use for hanging. Because these mirrors are so lightweight, even with the sticks, the backing doesn’t have to be super heavy duty.

Once the backing was glued on, I twisted my hook into the cardboard. No tools were required …I just twisted it by hand. Super simple!

And then my mirrors were all ready to hang! Joila!

Is this something you would try? Have you created any home decor pieces lately? I’d love to hear about them!

Why The Annual “State of My Finances” Is Important

state of finances 2

Money, money, money money….MONEY!!!  Some people got to have it, some people really need it…and some have no idea whether they have it or they need it because they don’t take the time to review their books.  “What books??” You ask.  Well, whether it’s a book or a spreadsheet or an app on your phone, I’m talking about your finances.

Every year kinda goes the same way when it comes to my finances.  I have a pretty strong start with being disciplined and focused, then I eventually lose focus but somehow the bills still get paid, and by the end of the year, things get pretty loosey goosey.  I am not aware of balances, I stop telling myself “no” to purchases as much as I should, I start becoming really focused on when I get paid again, and the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality kicks in a bit.  Then January rolls around and I force myself to get reacquainted with my finances, and I become focused and disciplined all over again.

So…here we are…it’s January and it’s time to know what’s happening with my finances.  It’s time to regain control, see the big picture, know my numbers and dates, and make the promise to myself to be more fiscally responsible than I was last year.

Where to begin:  I have a spreadsheet which has been my trusty companion for the last five years or so.  I use it to track account balances, financial obligations, and monthly payments.  So I pulled that out and got to work.  I went account by account, checked balances and limits, minimum payments, and due dates.  One page of the spreadsheet contains every debt that I owe for every monthly payment I make.  It has the date that those payments are due each month, the current balance of that account, the limit for that account, and the method which I make my monthly payments.  I update it for any new accounts and delete any old accounts that no longer apply.  I sum this all up and I see where I stand from a total debt perspective.  Then I compare that amount to the debt reported on my freecreditreport.com report.  (Side note:  Freecreditreport.com is a very useful tool. I highly recommend this or some type of credit monitoring service.)

So here’s the spreadsheet template that I use.

budgetspreadsheetcapture2

After I’ve updated all the accounts on my current payment roster, I go to my other sheet that lays out my monthly perspective.  I put in my paycheck dates for the year, the amount of each paycheck, and the bills that I pay each month.  This is where I track each time I get a paycheck, and each time I actually make a payment towards my bills.  This is also where I become a little lazy because most of my payments are set to be automatically paid.  I like that these payments occur behind the scenes and that I do not have to monitor them on a daily basis.  I feel like I should stay on top of my monthly payments, but because God invented autopay, I just don’t have the need to monitor it super close.

budgetspreadsheetcapture

So…between these two spreadsheets, this is how I go about performing my “State of My Finances” review.

Upon completing my review, here’s what I found out— I kicked ASS this year financially!  GO ME!  1) I paid off all credit card accounts except one that I use for vacations and such.  2) My credit score has gone up, up, up despite purchasing a vehicle last year! 3) My monthly utility, cell phone, cable, etc. have all been kept at a satisfactory level.  4) I am spending significantly less than I make.  5) And I have a much healthier surplus at the end of each month.  YES!  This is what it’s all about!

Doing an annual “State of Your Finances” is an absolute MUST for everyone, and here’s why:

You know where you stand:  Every adult should know who they owe, how much they owe, and when they owe it.  You need to know whether you need to make changes or stay the course.  You need to know whether you can withstand a financial crisis or an unexpected life change.  While credit reports are a great way to know this information, sometimes they are wrong.  If you haven’t done your own work, you may not realize there are errors, and that can hurt you in the long run.  A good example for me is, when I was furloughed for 35 days, and missed nearly three paychecks, my boyfriend was actually surprised that I wasn’t a big ball of stress.  That’s because I knew I had savings, I knew I had credit cards that weren’t maxed out, and I knew what sat in my bank account.  Granted, it wasn’t a great time, I definitely avoided Target like the plague…but I was able to survive it unscathed.

Knowing your financial status is empowering:  Every year when I do my self-audit, I come out of the experience feeling better.  When they say knowing is half the battle, that’s legit.  You feel empowered to do better, to plot a course, to move to the next step.  Or you feel validated in the way you spent money in the previous year.  Even in the years when I realize my financial situation was not great, when I was completely under water and overwhelmed, I still completed my finance-check feeling better.  I’d rather know than not know.  Knowing your starting point helps you determine your goals.  Just because things aren’t great doesn’t mean you can’t improve and get to where you want to be.  Trust me.  I know first-hand, and maybe one day I’ll write about my journey to this point.

Not knowing is stressful:  Flying blindly is a bad idea.  Not knowing whether you are close to financial ruin or well on your way to financial freedom can cause stress.  Playing fast and loose with your finances is never a good thing.  Getting to a checkout line and not knowing whether you have $500 or $5 in your account is not cute.  Going to dinner with your girls, and having your stomach in knots because you don’t know what the waiter is going to say when he brings your card back…is a horrible position to be in.  Remove one source of stress from your life.  Know for sure what’s going on.  Either way, the money is either in your account or it isn’t.  Don’t add to the stress by putting yourself in embarrassing situations just because you don’t want to know your truth.

You can set the course and let go of the wheel:  What I’ve learned is that by going over my bills and payments in the beginning of the year, I actually figure out what my plan is for the year, set everything up, and then I don’t think about it.  I just let the auto-pay magic happen.  Because I know that I’m not the greatest at being disciplined, I set myself up for success from the beginning and then I don’t worry about it.  Over the course of the last few years, I always dread this audit, and then realize things are better than where I started.  But that’s because I’ve set payments up, I’ve updated when things get allocated based on my pay dates for the year, so I don’t have to constantly monitor and look at things in order for them to get done.  Lay out your plan and let it go to work!

You can take advantage of opportunities: Whether it’s planning a trip you swore you didn’t have enough money for, or increasing your contributions to your 401k, knowing definitively where you stand with your finances opens the door to more opportunities.  For me, if I have money sitting in the bank, that’s money available for me to spend.  But instead, if I allocate it before I see it, then it’s helping me accomplish a goal.  I know I’d much rather accomplish a goal than purchase yet another pair of jeans.  Let your money help you experience life to its fullest.  Don’t let it be the reason you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.  I’ve been there–it’s horrible.

Start your year off right.  Don’t hesitate!  Know where you stand financially and set yourself up to be in a better position when you review your finances next year.  I know you can do it!

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