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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Upping the Ante: The Quest for 5%

Hey, can I share something?  (She asked in a conversational tone.)

It started off with coffee.  The topic was how to create an miraculously delicious cup o' joe and it was being discussed by my husband.  First, says he, you start by using filtered water instead of tap water, creating a 5% increase (though he actually would say 50%) in the quality of the final cup.  Then you select a higher quality of roasted beans (another percentage increase,) then a better filtration system, then frothed milk, etc. until you end up with the world's best cup of coffee.  All of this has been done by refining several little things to create one big difference.

Yes, Brian is the King of Metaphors and I really appreciate it (because I stink at them.)

As an entrepreneur, I have been trying to apply the 5% rule in my work.  Lately (as I've shared earlier) I've been focusing more on design and packaging.  It's the little touches that really sell you on things, right?  First off, you have to like the product/service, but how it's presented makes you ho-hum or ecstatic -I'm trying to move from the former to the latter.  Here are a few of my recent "cups of coffee."

Featuring the stellar designs of Sweet Sunday Events.  Location: The Vineyard at Florence, TX.

Again, featuring Sweet Sunday Events.  Location: Schwertner Ranch Event Center.

Location: San Gabriel House B&B, Georgetown, TX.

Cibolo, TX (just outside of San Antonio) at the fiance's mother's home.

Cibolo, TX at their favorite date spot -the fishin' hole. (So sweet!)

Personalization, customization and all-around design.  That's what I've been integrating and I am quite pleased with the developments.  Physical packaging is another thing I've been focusing my attention on, too.  Carefully wrapped items tied up with bows that coordinate with their wedding colors, fancy little labels with my business name, fresh white bubble mailers instead of the silly yellow ones you buy with the duck on them.  It's the small things, but shoot, they make a huge difference.

It's all about the 5%.  And soon my work will be 50% better than it was 6 months ago and I can't wait to see what that's going to look like!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taking Time to Design

The kids and I stole ten minutes before bed to snap a few pictures (again, credit goes to Wilder who had control of the remote.)  After they were successfully tucked in (credit goes to Brian,) I dedicated a few short, sweet hours to working on my continued learning (and mucking about) with design.

Lately I've been moving the business into a more design-oriented direction.  I want to integrate the style of each event (read "wedding") in the "packaging" of the final product -mainly how it's featured on the blog, shared on facebook and bound up in their custom photobooks I create.  Check out the link to see some of the pretty things I've been cooking up!

But this picture really does say it.  Creativity + caffeine + love = happy life, survived :)
I've been clocking ridiculous hours trying to catch up on all these weddings and other shoots and, I tell ya, it's really hard not to get burned out.  I don't want the quality of my work to suffer because I'm drained, so today I took a day off from normal work and dedicated a chunk of hours to catching up on family things, the blog, and learning.

The past week we've been having family exercise mornings, backpacking or running our neighborhood.  When we "ruck," I'll carry one of the kids in the carrier and Brian will weigh down with a gargantuan pack.  During those neighborhood hikes we also have our board meetings.  Our sounding board meetings, I should say.  It's awesome.  We're having family time, we're exercising, we're hashing out business ideas, talking about areas of growth and strategy, and we're outside.  Excellence, plain and simple.

I am so thankful that I have so much at my finger tips and that we've taken the chances and made those crazy life changes that have facilitated this lifestyle.  Leaving the safe haven of Mother Army nearly 1 1/2 years ago and relying on my new photography business, hoping it would hold up to our hopes -we're continually surprised by the success, major growth and satisfaction.  It's definitely a joint venture; I couldn't do this if it wasn't for Brian being the go-to guy for caring for the kiddos.

Part of my break today was a family trip to the thrift store.  I found this happily hideous skirt that I fell in love with (it's got pockets) and put it together with a slip and vest I found on other trips there.  I am turning into a late 80's/early 90's mother and I feel no shame.  Brian's eyes roll from time to time, but -hey- at least I'm not afraid to try something, er....old?

So, how 'bout them apples?  TWO new posts in one day.  Only took me two weeks to get around to, but I am so glad it finally happened.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

San Antonio Zoo: Family Fun, Happy Hippos, etc.

Recently we took a work trip to San Antonio and stopped off at their rather splendid zoo.
Now this is the place you want to go if you're bringing the family to this neck of Texas.
For a small fee, a tiny train will pick you up for a tour of several sight-worthy areas, making stops to drop off and pick up riders.  Choose the sunken tea gardens or the amazing Witte Museum, then hop back on the train to return to the zoo or Brakenridge Park -another incredibly worthy stop.  It's. Gorgeous.



We arrived at the zoo just in time for the hippo show!  The two hippos (a breeding pair, so we learned) did tricks for apples.  Their tank is filled with fish; a symbiotic relationship.  The fish clean up after the hippos, the hippos allow the fish to live there rent free.  And they tell really good jokes.
Unlike me.




Wilder went nuts over the zebras.  He's still asking to go back and see them.

The "Wetlands" section of the zoo was neato!  This stone bridge had water running between from one pond to the other.  All sorts of birds, ducks, geese, alligators, turtles -tons of fun!


We are still hearing about the train and the zoo.  Every morning, Wilder wakes up and drags me to the door, insists I put my shoes on and we go back.  We did go back again (had another San Antonio shoot) and, even though Wilder wouldn't shut up about the train, once we tried to board he kicked and screamed, refusing to get on.  Same thing with getting into the zoo.  Poor Brian had both the kids.
Now when Wilder insists we go to the zoo, we tell him he can.  For his 13th birthday.

Besides having a neurotic (though adorable) son, this was a fabulous trip and I highly recommend the San Antonio Zoo for some family fun.  Admission is very reasonable.

1) Fill a camelback with icewater, pop it in your backpack or handbag and keep your crew happily hydrated during the scorching summer.  Sheer brilliance.

2) Attend as many "shows" as you can.  Fun stuff, educational, and the animals are fun to see close up and in action.

3) Wear matching or coordinating, obnoxious colored shirts.  Or at least make the kids; easy to find in the crowds.  Maybe pin a note on the back of each child, "Beware: I Bite Hard" -that way no one would dare take them.

Happy Summer!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandmama! {Music Video}

You may by 39* but, you don't look a day over 28.
I've been thinking about you so much as your birthday approached and I continue to realize the longer I am a mother just how much you have loved me through every moment in my life.  Mom, I am utterly blessed to be your daughter.  There's a letter coming in the mail that's as sweet and sappy -and heartfelt- as a made-for-TV Hallmark movie.  I mean every word of it and you mean so much to us.
Happy Birthday, Grand/Mama!  Break the repeat button on this YouTube video :)

Kelly, Brian, Wilder & Waverley

Music ©Michael Franti & Spearhead, "Say Hey (I Love You) featuring Cherine Anderson."


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