Friday, March 29, 2013


Working from home is both the best thing and the worst thing. You an set your own schedule which provides you some flexibly but it also means that you have to be your motivating force to getting things done. You are the boss that gets mad when you are late, or when you work isn't done on time, and you have to keep yourself going when there is stuff you don't feel like doing.

I used to work for a little boutique in our area. I had a schedule. I had a reason to get out of bed, shower and look cute for my day. Working at home has been a little different. I don't have anyone telling me what time I have to get up, usually I only leave to run to the post office or the grocery store, where other days I don't leave my house at all. This has proved a challenge for me.

The first month of committing to Designs by Nicolina full time was like the first few weeks of summer when you get out of school. I slept in, wore my PJs, caught up on my daytime TV, went shopping and got almost nothing done. I quickly realized that I needed to take things more seriously, if I wanted to grow my business I needed to treat it as such. So here are a few tips that help me!

1. On Mondays take some time to plan you week
The wonderful thing about working from home is that for the most part you can control when you work. So if your friend asks you out to coffee and shopping on Wednesday morning, plan the rest of the week accordingly so you can make it happen!

2. Find a routine that works for you and set a schedule
When you get into a routine, you always accomplish more, and you are happier. When you don't have a routine you are more likely to get overwhelmed or miss out on things you might want to do. For example, when I sit down to work I go through all of my edits first. Because I know by the end of the day, I am not going to want to edit, and it will get pushed off for the next day!

You also need to make sure you are realistic in your schedule. Time how long it takes you to accomplish tasks and budget your time accordingly. If you over schedule it will only cause frustration and a lack of productivity!

3. Take a shower and put some real clothes on {or real cute sweats}
You wouldn't imagine how much this helps! When you feel good, you will be so much more productive! I hate dressing up to be at home. I want to be comfy, but I have found places like aerie and pink by VS have adorable 'lounge wear' that looks cute and feels comfy.

You home is your work place! So brush your hair, get out of your PJs and you will be so much more productive!

4. Sometimes you have to take a min to do what you want to do, so you can focus on what you have to do
I think this is so important especially when you do something in the creative field. You never know when a good idea is going to come to you. But sometimes I think, I have 15 people waiting on invites, and 30 convos to answer, so I tell myself I will work on it later. But I usually don't, either I can't focus on the tasks at hand, or I forget the awesome idea.

So take a min {or an hour} do what you want to do, then it will be SO much easier to focus on what you want to do!

5. When coming back from vacation or a weekend break - sit back and make a list before you dive in and PRIORITIZE! 
This is something that I have been struggling with all week. For the first time since I quit my day job we went on a week long vacation and I didn't take my laptop. EEEKK I didn't know what to do. I closed my shop 3 days before we left, busted my but to catch up on orders, gave everyone a heads up that was going out of town, and then closed my shop. It was 7 days of not needing to worry about edits, orders or convos and it was a lovely break!

But now I am home, and this week has been a challenge to get back into the swing of things. Everyone who was waiting for me to get back is placing orders and sending me messages and after a week of not worrying about it,  I am having a hard time worrying about it. So I sat back and prioritized, who needed to be answered first, what orders did I need to get a jump on. As I crossed things off my list I was able to see my accomplishments and ease back into work!

6. Maintain a clean workspace
This is something that my OCD husband taught me. When my office is a mess, so am I! So put this in your schedule! Take some time each week to reorganize, straighten up and vacuum!

7. Ask for help
I am the biggest breaker of this rule. I have always been the one who takes the whole project on herself because I am not sure anyone could possibly do as good a job as me. But I think this is the most important thing I have learned. I need help, and I am surrounded by people who want to help me. And most importantly, my husband can wrap invites in twine better than I can {who knew}. As my business grows I need help more and more, and I am so grateful to have a husband to understands, appreciates and wants to help me with what I do!

Have any tips that help you? We would love to hear!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Sharing some customer love today in what I hope will be a regular series on the blog! My good friend Meghan loves Disney just as much {if not more} than I do so I was super excited when she ordered my 'Gaston Print' - and I just love the way she styled it into her home!

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Do you have an item from us that you want to show off? Did you fancy up your invites, use a banner or cupcake toppers to decorate a party? We want to see it! Just send us an email with the pics and maybe we will show you off on the blog!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


It is day 2 with our friend Elle from PostFilm and she has something awesome to giveaway for Designs by Nicolina fans!

But first our TIP TUESDAY! We shared this graphic yesterday but thought it was too perfect not to share twice, so it is our Tip Tuesday! You never want to limit yourself by thinking too small! Think big and amazing things will happen!

You can win a customizable logo from PostFilm Design  just by entering the giveaway below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until 4/2/13 at midnight to enter! 

Monday, March 25, 2013


It is crazy how many friends you make by running an online business. Between collaborations, giveaways and finding people who's creativity you come to love and admire I have met some of the most amazing ladies!

One of whom is Elle of PostFilm. She and I live in the same area and have shared many conversations on pretty much any topic, she is the Queen of Small Business branding and she wants to help YOU! Check out a little bit about her and what Post Film is all about!

PostFilm is the best little brand identity shop in the South. Powered by love, owner & chief designer Elizabeth “Elle” Atkins created PostFilm as the official megaphone for small businesses to shout “WE ARE AWESOME!” through design.  Elle and the PostFilm team provide custom logos, packaging, client experience overhauls, and website graphics to a range of amazing small businesses.
OUR CLIENTS LOVE US! Check out what they’re saying :  

“Elle completely rebranded my business and designed a new website for me and it was seriously the most fun I’ve had with a vendor (and now friend!) in forever. “  –Katy Gray Photography
“I am blown away by how personal her service is.” – Shari Weber
“…(Elle) was incredibly receptive and accommodating, and also helped come up with ideas that we hadn’t considered.” - Jennifer Lenhart
“ …(Elle) somehow knew exactly what I was trying to explain or what I had envisioned. She is super easy to work with, very responsive and quick to turn around proofs and revisions. I am thrilled with the result and am so happy that I chose to work with her.” –Rebecca Jill Photography
Article: PostFilm’s Small Business Marketing 101
Starting your small business marketing can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. There’s so much to do, and it has to be done all at once. One of the biggest mysteries to new business owners is creating smart small business marketing strategies that work and pay off. But… where do you start?
Starting Your Small Business Marketing Strategy
Before you can launch a small business marketing campaign, you should begin with the basics.  Asking these three essential questions will lead you to understanding the core of what marketing strategy you should be using. When you’re finished, you should have a much clearer picture of what type of marketing you will be doing.
1)     Who is my target market?
Every business should consider who their ideal customer is. Defining who your business will cater to will ensure you are reaching the right people. Remember, the goal is not to appeal to everyone, but to appeal to the people who will likely use your services.  Small business marketing has to be efficient, so make sure you know who your customer is.

Here’s a really exaggerated but good example:  If you’re a chef opened a fine dining restaurant, and are charging $500 an entrĂ©e, you won’t likely advertise to larger families on a budget.  The likelihood of an average American family of 5 spending $2,500 on a dinner is slim. So, with that in mind, who is your ideal client?

2)     Where is your target market located?
After you’ve determined who your ideal client is, the next step in small business marketing is to decide where your target marketed is located. Assessing who your client is can be the biggest hurdle. Once you’ve decided who will be the most likely client to purchase your product or service, determining where they are should be a snap. Let’s go back to that chef example:

Let’s pretend our Chef has decided his perfect customer is a big business financial advisor. Where would the chef advertise? Luxury travel magazines, Fine Dining guides, maybe grab a listing on an upper crust hotel pamphlet of local restaurants.  Our Chef could even partner with similar businesses, (a suit maker or boutique clothing store), to advertise with. 

3)     Now what?
Once you’ve decided the who and the where, it’s time to test some of your marketing ideas. Small business marketing can be tricky, so get organized early and make a list of what kind of advertising you want to do. The list should include where you will advertise, how long you will advertise, and should include what your ultimate goal will be. Make a plan to collect as much data as you possibly can. If you’re running multiple small business marketing campaigns, collecting data will determine which are most successful. If you’re advertising on the web, turn on analytics, track how many people click on your links, and keep an eye on your social media. Tracking your print advertisement can also be done digitally. Include a specific landing page in each of your advertisements, and consider phone numbers that employ call tracking. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your new customers how they found you. You might be surprised!

If you’d like to learn more about branding and how it relates to small business marketing, stop by PostFilm’s free webinar on Branding Essentials 101 on April 25th, 7pm! Be sure to bring all your marketing and branding questions for the live Q&A. Check it out and sign up to grab a seat here:

 Stop by tomorrow to win a logo design from PostFilm!


Trying to get back into the swing of things this morning and with 2 cups of coffee down and over 50 convos to respond to it is already turning into a crazy one! But first things first... the winner of the chalkboard giveaway is....


Please comment to let us know what print you would like and we will get it on it's way to you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


//// UPDATED AUGUST 27TH, 2013 ////

This year we decided to take our first trip to Disney that doesn't include either of our families for our anniversary trip. We are super excited that we will get to be there for the first day of Epoct's Food & Wine festival too!

We have 30 days to go and DiSnEy BrAiN has totally set in! So here is this trip's countdown calendar /// we have it hanging in our office.

Here is the download for you to enjoy /// please remember it is for PERSONAL USE ONLY /// Thanks!

Just click to enlarge + print!
And here is the one I designed earlier this Spring! Take your pick!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the download!

I am about to be headed to Disney with the family and I couldn't be more excited! 

The last few days before a trip are always the craziest, action packed and sloooooooest moving. I am wrapping up stuff in my shop to I can have a nice vacation and dealing with 'Disney Brain'! The other day when I was talking with my sister in law {who we are going with} and she was telling me how her and her kiddos made a Disney countdown for the fridge and that gave me the idea to design a cute one to share with all of my readers!

So... here is how it turned out. Just click the image to enlarge, print it out, stick it on your fridge when you have 30 days to go and cross out your little Mickey heads until it is VACATION TIME!

Just click to enlarge + print!
Let me know what you think and if you end up using it send us a pic!  /// See Ya Real Soon!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Okay so I am not sure I could officially call myself a blogger just yet, lets face it I have only been doing this for 2 weeks!

But I can definitely see how important it is to have a great app to blog on the go!  I  constantly running around and I am not always in my office. So I was super excited to hear about Dana over at Wonder Forest's new blogging app BlogGo!

She is the fabulous designer that created my blog design that I love, and as a blogger herself, I knew she would know exactly what bloggers need!

And I LOVE IT! There are great options for editing posts, as well as managing your blog! Check out a screen shot of me starting this post... 

From the picture you can see all of the options when you are typing the post up itself, and the coolest part is how easily you can add the pictures (a lot of people's biggest problem with the official blogger app) 

I like starting my ideas for a post in my phone or iPad and finishing it all up on the computer, and this app is great for that! You just click save at the bottom of your post and when you log into your computer it shows up as a draft! 

You can even find all your drafts and posts in the app here ... 

There is a section where you moderate comments, view other blogs you follow and view your own blog.

Needless to say I am in love! Now that you are do go download it here ...
PS. I WROTE, EDITED AND PUBLISED THIS ENTIRE POST ON MY IPHONE (while I am at the dealership waiting on my car, hello multitasking!)

Monday, March 11, 2013


Today we are giving away one of our 8x10 Chalkboard Art Prints! They have been one of our best sellers in the shop! They look amazing on gallery walls filled with black and white photos and look amazing when framed! Check out some of the most popular ones!

Enter to win one below!

I'm Yours
I Love You More
Lover of the Light
Icing on my Cupcake
People who love to eat
It's Time
Our Name

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 8, 2013


Okay, is it seriously Friday already? Where on Earth did the week go! I feel like I was just doing this post. The way this week has gone, I could not have made it up if I tried! I always think the 2 weeks before you go on vacation are the craziest and most stressful to make sure you REALLY appreciate your vacation and this was one of those weeks!

Take a peek into my insta-life!

Could not be more excited for this Target shoe rack! $25 off made it only $35! YES!

Cleaning the kitchen inspired me to create some art! Next week I will do a post on how my coffee corner turned out!
We had some awesome friends over and cooked a BREAKFAST FOR DINNER FEAST!

I first had this drink when I was in Europe in 2009, and I haven't been able to find it until NOW!

Loving these cute Mickey Mouse invites - getting me in the mood for my trip!

Thanks for peeking into my life! See ya Monday :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Today's topic on {TIP TUESDAY} is all about comparisons. It is so easy to see others whether it be in business or in our personal lives and compare ourselves to them. When I first opened my shop on Etsy, I was constantly looking at other peoples shops. I would look and see how many items they had for sale, I compared my designs to theirs, the way my shop looked, my facebook page, everything. I wondered why they had so many sales, what I might be doing wrong, how I could get more views and features. All the while not realizing if I focused all of my time and effort on improving myself and my brand, I might not be asking those questions.

So that is how today's tip came about...
The only person to compare yourself to is who you used to be

Comparing yourself to other people, artists and business owners can incredibly detrimental to yourself. Why should you give someone else all of your time and energy, when you could be focusing closer on the things that you could be doing better!

Take a look back at some of your first sales or designs, how empty your Etsy shop may have been when you first opened it. See how far you have come and be PROUD of all you have accomplished. See the steps you have taken and recognize how hard you worked to get where you are today. Improve upon the things you already thought you did well. Once you get in the habit of doing this you will find that you don't even have the time to spend comparing yourself to others.

Screen shot from my very first sale 2/22/10
I opened my shop in January 2010 with 5 designs in it. Above is a screen shot of my first sale on Feb. 22nd, 2010, I am almost too embarrassed to post it. Although the design is only slightly different than what the design looks like now {see a screen shot of the current design below} there are some VERY glaring things wrong with how I used to do things. The first sale was to someone who needed prints {which since I didn't have a printer I used to order through VistaPrint and have them shipped to the customer} The listing picture is this persons actual invite, with all of their info and a lovely PROOF written across it. Yes, I used to send proofs before any sort of payment {learned my lesson} Look at the difference the way the invite is presented on the listing, so much more professional. The invite fonts in the newest design are much easier to read, and my shop name on the bottom is so important for posting to pinterest now so people can see my shop name claiming my design.
Screen shot of current listing for the same invite
When I take a look at how I used to do things and what my listings used to look like I am SO PROUD of what I have accomplished. Sure I still slip up and spend time browsing Etsy for invites and searching other people's blogs trying to figure out what they are doing that I am not when I could be improving upon myself, but I always try to remember to take a look at my old listings, or comapre my numbers from last year to this year, and see how far I have personally come, because that is the MOST important thing!

Monday, March 4, 2013


Thanks so much for all of the love you guys are showing the new blog! I am so excited to have followers and visits to my site! I feel like a real life blogger {even though I have only been doing this regularly for a week}

February was another record breaking month for Designs by Nicolina, and I am so excited to begin this new adventure in blogging! I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time and I am so happy to finally do it! Look out for more giveaways, helpful tips, freebies and more!

So now to the announcement you have all been waiting for... the winner of the {BLOG LAUNCH} giveaway is....

Shanna Uptergrove

I have forwarded your email address to all the vendors and they will be in touch soon!
Thanks again to everyone who entered! Happy Monday, and hope everyone has an amazing week!

Friday, March 1, 2013


Welcome to Insta-Friday!
On Friday's I will be sharing a glimpse into my life over the week!

Lazy Sunday watching the Oscars! Loved the Les Mis performance!
Can't wait to see if I won! Holding my breath until March 15th!

Freaked out when my invite was included in the Etsy Wedding's email!

Loved the colors they picked out for this Bachelorette Weekend!

My gold washi tape came! I could hardly contain my excitement!

A close up of the invite Etsy included in the email, on their way to NYC

Happy end of the first week of blogging to me! I am pretty proud of myself that I only missed one day of blogging! Don't forget about the giveaway going on... the winner will be announced on Monday!