Building a Creatively Made Business | Celebrate Milestones


My parents had been married a few years when I was born and with only a semester left in college my mom put it on hold to stay home with me. I was a senior in high school when my mom finished and earned her teaching degree. She didn’t walk across a stage and the degree came in the mail. I have thought often about what that felt like to open that envelope and see what she had worked for and earned. It was a hard time in our family and there was no celebration. I am sure the degree was tucked away and life went on. I graduated from college four years later and there was no celebration. Our family was so broken at this time and even though I deeply longed for celebration we didn’t know how to do it when we were all together.

It has only been as an adult that I have realized that there were moments and people we should have celebrated while I was growing up. There are moments that need to be celebrated and honored today. This post is not just about your personal life or just about your business life because they both collide, overlap and build upon each other. So often we can set goals, accomplish them and move onto the next task without stopping and acknowledging the beauty of what just was.

So, as business owners and family life builders how do we honor our lives, accomplishments, family, employees and goals? If you are aware of who is watching you and learning from you it may make the whole process easier. If you are a parent you have children watching how you honor your goals and accomplishments. If you are an employer you have employees watching to know what is worth celebrating and you have a direct impact in how invested they feel helping you build your dreams. It should be building their dreams too. Are they a part of something that is using their gifts or do they just have a job? How you celebrate milestones gives them that answer.

This process has been trial and error for me because it has felt awkward and uncomfortable to celebrate myself because of how I was raised but I am learning to change not only for me but for my children. This is how we are learning to celebrate in this business and this family:

  • We set short term and long term goals. When they are accomplished we stop and acknowledge what we just achieved.
  • The little day to day goals are sometimes even more important than the huge goals being accomplished. Life is made the most beautiful about all of the little accomplishments being realized.
  • Celebrating can be anything from stopping to read a new book, turning the music up loud and singing, taking your favorite hike, dancing around the office/house, a special dinner, an open house, a book signing, a party. It is acknowledging that people worked together or that you worked hard to finish what you started.
  • It is honoring that it is all a process and that one action is built upon another. It is looking back and seeing that it is all connected. It is celebrating that it is rarely an overnight success.
  • It is an opportunity to include those in your life to see what you do. To allow them the chance to take a glimpse into your gifts and what is being created. I often hear from business owners how their family and friends don’t understand or acknowledge what they do. That is OK. This is your journey and not theirs BUT take these opportunities to allow them to celebrate with you and it may help them to validate what you are doing.
  • Know when to celebrate and honor yourself and when to celebrate with the whole team. Your daily goals being met is just as important so take the time to celebrate with a phone call to your best friend, a walk or run, catching up on your favorite magazine/show, a cup of coffee, quiet time etc. These are the little things that make your day beautiful and the difference between working for someone else and building your own creatively made business. Reward yourself because you can!
  • Celebrating is not about spending money. It is about stopping, acknowledging and appreciating what was just accomplished. It is actually about self care and caring for those around you.
  • If you won’t celebrate your own accomplishments…who will? How will your employees learn to celebrate their goals being met? In the end you have a business that moves on to the next task and the next task and the next task. You as the employer will burn out and your staff will not have any loyalty or investment in your business and move on.
  • Be content in living in the now! We can not find contentment in our day to day if we are living in what is next on our list, next accomplishment, next idea. This is the act of being present and celebrating this day.


We have hooted and hollered when we have reached a certain number of members on our creative network, we have had special dinners and prayed over a boy going into high school, we have taken the day off to hike and play and honor a person or goal, we have prayed over our home and what it will be used for, we have sent out special gifts to teachers that have shared so much on our creative network and we have sat down with our creative team and tried to help them reach their own creative goals and not just our own. It is work and it is being intentional. And it has made all of the difference.

When we opened our studio on our land…we celebrated! Our children deserved that. They deserved the privilege of being a part of something big and seeing what happens when you follow your dreams and work hard. It is teaching them not only to honor what we are building but what they will build someday.


If you are interested in building or growing your business I would love to talk with you. I have a small amount of consulting openings each month and would love to share my rates with you and help you build your own creative business. You can contact me at

If you are interested in reading more in our Building a Creatively Made Business Series:

The Big Picture

The Art of Practice

Q & A

Say No To Say Yes

Creative Business Consulting

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Building a Creatively Made Business | Your Business And The New Year


Re-post from January 2017.

The New Year is not the only time you need to stop and re-evaluate your business and where it is going. Take time each month to adjust the things that are and are not working. Getting your business and your own creativity back on track should be a regular part of your business health.

A brand new year is a perfect time to re-evaluate your business goals and to take the time to see what changes can be made to make THIS the year where your business and creativity grows like never before.

I am sharing 5 tips to get your business off to a beautiful start in the new year…

-Family First

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for my family to sit down and re-evaluate our schedule, what we want to change and how we can better hear and see each other. Since my first Building a Creatively Made Business online class I have been sharing that your business goals and family goals need to run parallel and build each other up. The hope and goal is that the strength in each helps to have success in each.   If they are fighting against each other one or both will fail. This takes honest conversations, compromise and sometimes getting help where you need it. If you have others in your life that are impacted by your business I encourage a family meeting to hear the pulse of what you hold the dearest.

-Let Something Go

Building and running a business is a hard and tiring job. It takes an honest (and healthy) person to admit where they are falling short and could use some help. Sometimes this can be big things that you are not experienced or strong in and other times it is the jobs that not only you can do.   Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.   I know that when you are still building your business it can be hard to pay others to do some of the things where you are not skilled. We have paid someone from the very beginning to help with our blog and website design and our branding. We couldn’t afford NOT to have someone help us in this area. It has made all of the difference. Over the years we have needed help with household things that we were not getting to. We have also had contractors and artisans create for us, help with shipping, design work and admin work. We need them and if we want to create the family that we want we have to let something’s go.

-Honor Your Word

We have all said yes to things that we didn’t want to do and it kept us from doing the things we really desired. It kept us from doing the things that we were made for. This is big stuff. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Meaning, that if you say yes make sure you give it your all. To do that, you have to say no to most other things. What did you say yes to in 2016 that you should have said no to? What did you say yes to that you wanted to do but because you said yes to too many other things you did a poor job? If you are going to grow your business you have to know where to put your energy and when you do it it should be with your whole heart. Saying no just may set you free in 2017.


Do you have a person in your business world (or outside of it) that you have been dying to work with? What do you have to lose? They can say no and you try another person. What if they say yes! Some of my most joyful and creatively expanding work has been collaborating with other artists and business men and women I admire. Working with others has brought financial and creative success again and again. I have also learned business lessons that I would have missed without the collaboration. Collaborations also get you out of your head and out of your comfort zone. Priceless.

-Do Something Scary

It is never perfect when you start, there is never enough money to do everything and you have to make the time to pursue your calling. These are just truths to life and business. I know you have something scary that you want to do this year BUT….No, jump in. It won’t be perfect, you won’t have it all together, if you want it bad enough you will find the money and you will make the time. Do something scary this year. Guess what? You then learn by doing that scary things are only scary for a short time and you walk through them and do the next scary thing. When you look back you will see years of walking through scary things that turned into collaborations, expansion, big art, travel, being vulnerable, authentic relationships, adventure….the list goes on. Just one thing. Pick just one thing this year and see the beauty that comes out of doing scary things.


If you are interested in building or growing your business I would love to talk with you. I have a small amount of consulting openings each month and would love to share my rates with you and help you build your own creative business. You can contact me at

You may want to schedule a business consultation if…

*You have been dreaming about a business idea and don’t know where to begin

*You are feeling stuck in your current business and want to brainstorm how to revive your creative business

*You feel overwhelmed by your current business and need to say no to some things so you can say yes to your true passions

*You want direction with blogging, your website or social media

*You want help creating a consistent look and feel within your brand

*You are not sure what your brand is and how to define it

*You just need fresh eyes on your business

*You have questions about collaborations

*You want to find out how to get published and how to get your work seen

*You need another creative who has been there and is there to bounce ideas off of


If you are interested in reading more in our Building a Creatively Made Business Series:

Celebrate Milestones

The Big Picture

The Art of Practice

Q & A

Say No To Say Yes

Creative Business Consulting

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We Were Asked to Move Back To DC…

Van Gogh


About five weeks ago we were told (out of the blue) that Kelly’s agency was bringing all field agents back to DC.  This would be a mandatory reassignment. We would have until mid-September to be back in DC to still have a job.  We met in DC and our Jack was born there but we have been in Colorado for the past 16+ years and this has truly been home to us.

I had just had a group of 17 teenagers come to the studio to play for the day and as the kids were getting on the bus Kelly met me to tell me he had a bombshell.  We went back to my studio and he started to tell me about the phone call he had just received. We proceeded to spend the next 7 hours talking, praying, making pro and con lists, looking at real estate in DC, hearing the hearts of the kids and each other. We talked (and drank wine) until we could talk no more. I felt like we talked until we had our answer that very first night.

17 years ago I quit my job in DC to stay home with Jack and Kelly was the sole provider of our family. About 10 years ago I unintentionally started a small home based business making journals, paper covered letters, frames, kid’s clothes and bags. During our marriage, every place we have lived, every home we have purchased, every vacation we have gone on has been based upon distance from Kelly’s job and what works with his 9-5 schedule.  As that unintentionally started business grew over the years we always looked at Kelly’s job as safe and reliable and secure. We were always holding onto the belief that his job was there “just in case” or as a “backup”. Even if the words were not spoken it was true in my heart. I never wanted to be responsible for our family financially.  Not solely. It felt like too much.

The funny thing about that call five weeks ago is that none of us knew at the time how much we needed that call. Do you remember when I asked the Lord to help us pray for BIG THINGS?  I wanted to pray for such big things in our life, marriage, family, and business that when things started to change that only the Lord would get the credit? Well, let me tell you…be careful what you ask for! Ha!

It wasn’t long after that when we went through our home journey HERE, HERE and HERE.  We also starting hiring more help that we desperately needed and then we hired more.

Five weeks ago that call felt like something that we could go along with or we could choose differently and it would be alright. No matter what happened. I felt like if we chose to go to DC that our business would grow and change but we would figure it out. That The Living Studio could become something based out of the art and culture right here in the US.  That we could give our kids a life very different from Colorado and that it would be beautiful and good. BUT was DC how we wanted our lives and business to FEEL right now? As wonderful as DC is was it where our hearts were guiding us?

If we did not go to DC we would be scared (for sure) but we could keep this gift of land, home and studio that we feel was divinely brought to us. In letting go of what we had told ourselves was “just in case” and our “backup” was maybe keeping us from what was next for us.  We could become a true team for the first time with this business that we created together but have never been able to 100% grow together.

So, after so much talking, praying, crying and wine drinking we have decided that Kelly will be retiring from his job of 24 years.  As of this summer, Kelly will be working beside me full time to love on our family, marriage, home, land, and business.  There is a huge unknown but we are also giddy with excitement about the freedom of making decisions each day based upon what feels right for our family, marriage, and business. We are choosing again how we want our life to feel and this time we are choosing to not have a “just in case” or a “backup” plan.

We are stepping out again and expectant of beautiful things. We are scared to death. We have so many unknowns but we are doing it together and we will see where it takes us.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of what we are creating. There are so many big and beautiful things coming and they are being created for you too!



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Building a Creatively Made Business | Questions and Answers

I sure don’t have all of the answers when it comes to running and building a business but I  do want to be as open as possible about my own creative journey and hope you will all do the same.

When I was starting out there were plenty of times when I had women that were farther along in the creative journey hold their own hands out and give me lift. I have also had many women keep their knowledge close and they were afraid to share it.  Over the years I have extended my hand out to those coming up behind me and hopefully I have been an encouragement to those women to also share when they would have an opportunity.  We are so much more powerful when we come together, share our knowledge and support one another. Always.

I recently asked different groups of women if they had any business questions they are struggling with.  I have chosen a small number to share.  The advice below is based upon my opinion and experience only.    I hope we can start a discussion…



I am wondering if I have missed the era of blogging. I have yet to find the exact creative niche (I love so many) and wanted to start a creative blog first, then move into business later. I am afraid I missed the best window of opportunity for that plan. What are your thoughts about blogging as a beginning? Has other social media outlets overtaken the blog?


I started blogging when it was the main way to connect with your readers and customers. When I started blogging there was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.. Each blog post I wrote had hundreds of comments and created true connection with those reading.  Things change and I believe you need to change with it but there is something special about a format that gives those that are looking for it…MORE.  Blogging not only gives me a place to share workshops and classes but it also gives me a class to share about our life and my thoughts on a larger format.  I still believe it is an authentic and needed way to connect.  I can’t imagine having a website without a blog.  I definitely can not imagine having Facebook, Instagram etc. without a place to send those that want to know more about who I am and what I create. The larger our business has grown I have had to pick and choose what authentically fits with my personality and what social media works for our business.   I guess I had to choose what I could actually keep up with and what would I want to follow through with and do.  My best advice is to build what you love and you will find your audience. It has taken me almost 9 years to build what we have.  9 years of consistently working towards something bigger.  Don’t get frustrated and just follow what seems to be the latest and greatest.  Find the best platform to share YOU and go from there. I look forward to hearing what you decide.



Marketing and getting your name out there. I’m working on growing my social media presence and shop views and turning that into sales. I have no idea how to gain momentum.

ANSWER: Everyone has a different answer to this and what works for one doesn’t mean it is right for you.  It seems like there is a new way to promote or a new platform being launched all of the time and you can’t do them all.  I always think it is wise to find someone doing what YOU are doing (or wanting to do) and watch what they do.  So many people are looking around at what everyone else is doing instead of focusing on what THEY need to be doing.  Focus on what you are drawn to. Be consistent.  That is the best place to start and work from there. I promise that you will soon see what works for you. This is not a formula or guaranteed success BUT when you are being authentic to you and using social media that you actually like you will be more likely to be consistent.  This is just simple truth that I know works in my own life.  I will only continue to do what I connect with.

I am a big fan of local author, speaker and friend Wally Long and his book The Power of Consistency.  I read his book a few years after I created our first business course and I shook my head to so much of what he wrote. If you like my courses and what I have shared I know you will also like what Wally shares and his tips of creating the business that you want.



When you are first starting… and you only have a few products made…. and you trying to start all of your social media accounts, do your branding, work on your website, open an etsy…. and you are just going crazy with your huge to-do list… what would you say the order of importance is… or maybe kind of like a schedule to follow.  I really am not sure of my question really. I just feel so overwhelmed with all the biz side and not knowing where to put my focus first and how much time to spend on that is actually doing your art. It seems so hard at first and it goes so slow trying to build a following.

ANSWER: I spend more time each day connecting, answering questions, promoting and doing the “business” of art than creating art most days.  That is why we have a business though and I have to schedule creative time so we can go to the next level.  When I was starting out I blogged, had an Etsy shop and worked on building relationships with my customers and other creatives.  Your path will consistently change, what you create will change and the direction of your business will change BUT you have to start somewhere and I am a huge fan of starting right where you are with exactly what you have right now.  Open that Etsy shop.  You instantly can find a customer with good photos, a well labeled description and paying to advertise your goods on Etsy.  If you have five items…list five items. Grow from there.  Don’t wait until everything is perfect and ready to go because nothing is ever perfect and ready to go.  The next step would be to find one form of social media that works for you and build up relationships.  Use the rest of your time making new product. Focus. Don’t make it too complicated or you are more likely to get frustrated, feel like you can’t keep up or that you are doing everything wrong.  And the truth is…of course you are (at least some of the things)! You are awesome and brave and are learning as you go! Give yourself some grace.  So many people throw in the towel before they even see what they are capable of and where their gifts can lead them.  Start today doing one thing that will put you on your way.  That one thing may just change everything.



I’ve been selling my art (acrylic, watercolor, oil) and various other artsy/craftsy items for about 3 years now. Most of my sales have come through fb. I have an Etsy shop (that I’ve neglected lately) and am on Society6 (since 12/15). I did really well on S6 for the first month with Christmas sales but as you probably know the profit margin is extremely low. I don’t really utilize IG for sales. I’m in process of applying to be a vendor at one of our outdoor markets (first time to try this). I really want other avenues of sales so I don’t need to rely on social media so much. I don’t do this as a hobby. I need the income.  So, anything that you can address that will help me grow my creative biz would be great. Thanks!


I love that you state that this isn’t a hobby.  No one works as hard as you are because it is a hobby and I believe that our gifts can often be our income with the right direction. I would suggest building your website/blog so you have a landing page for your goods.  I would get back to updating Etsy and allowing it to work for you. Even though I have a website I still use Etsy as a good way to direct people to our main site and creative network.  It is inexpensive and has a large following. If Facebook is working for you I wouldn’t stop using it.  Allow it to be an extra tool to connect with those that already love your work!  Instagram is a great way to build a following but send them to your main landing page. Society6 is fine but I would hate to see you put a lot of time here. This is extra and allows you to offer your products to your customers in a new and fun way that may not otherwise be possible but the profit margin is small and will only work for you in high volume.

Outdoor markets can go either way so I love that you are trying it but don’t be disappointed if it does not generate the sales you are wanting. My experience is that the cost to participate should be equal to the amount of customers coming through.  I mean if a market is $25 to enter then be prepared for little to no sales.  Ask what their traffic is before you make the decision to put your time, money and energy into a show.  A show is a HUGE amount of work and if you are spending money making product that doesn’t sell then you are at a loss.  I am a huge fan of larger shows like Vintage Whites Market and Country Living shows.  They have great traffic and they work hard to promote and get you the customers you need.  If you are paying $200 or more to participate you should expect 5,000 + customers to be coming through.

One of the biggest game changers for us early on in our business was to connect with shops in the area and create product for them.  I didn’t provide product for more than one retailer per town and this gave us the freedom to create the same thing over and over, create relationships, create an income and eventually to put us on a whole new path.  I highly recommend seeing if your product would work for local retailers.  Let us know what you decide.



Which is more important – getting products out there or developing a cohesive presence (brand)? Did you develop your brand as your built your business or did you know exactly who Jeanne Oliver Designs was before you even started? And how did you maintain consistency in that look?


Such a wonderful question and there is such a misconception behind this.  I believe the most important thing is to get your product out there and you will develop your brand and style as you go. No, I didn’t know who Jeanne Oliver Designs was and I sure as heck didn’t have a consistent look until a few years in.  We did everything on Etsy for a few years until our business really grew and we created a website.  I would LOVE for you to go to my Etsy site that has been around since the beginning. I don’t do much on it nowadays but you can see for yourself where we started. You can see exactly when our photos and products changed. I can tell you the exact collection when I started to know where I wanted to go.  Come on over HERE and start at the beginning of my sold items. Go to page 77 of the sold items to see the first items I listed. You will see my brand starting to come together around August 24, 2009 and page 57 of the sales.  I share this so you can see for yourself that I truly started where I was, found my way and brand and grew our business slowly and authentically.  The pictures tell the whole story.

I want to also share with you where we are today. And I know we will continue to grow and fine tune our brand.  That is what makes this so fun to be a part of.   Here are some of my previous lookbooks over the past years now that we understand who we are and who are customers are.


If you are interested in building or growing your business I would love to talk with you.  I have a small amount of consulting openings each month and would love to share my rates with you and help you build your own creative business. You can contact me at


Building a Creatively Made Business 2.0 is an online course with over 80 videos full of information. This course is instantly available to work through at your own pace and at your convenience. We will cover our creative journey, getting started, websites, balancing your creative life with your home life, photographing your product, pricing, wholesaling,  setting yourself apart, growing your brand, creating lookbooks, e-courses, markets and shows and  SO  MUCH MORE!


Come on over to our creative network and read more.


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Weekly Wrap Up

This was our first official week of summer but it still felt busy.

We are enjoying the pool being open, getting projects done and I even had my first appointment with a personal trainer.

This weekend we will be painting our kitchen cabinets with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I am excited and nervous!

I am hoping I will have some good photos to show you next week.

We just finished the final week of Building a Creatively Made Business 2.0 and the response has been amazing!

You can still register and now get all three weeks INSTANTLY.

This online course is $59 and the videos are available for one year.

To register click HERE.


I also wanted to remind you that Summer Art Camp For Kids will begin in less than two weeks!

This course will be instantly available on June 17th and it will be the perfect summer activity for your creative kid this summer.

Here is a little recap of the class…

Summer brings with it the promise of sunshine, long, lazy days and a slower, simpler pace we’ve all been craving. But, if you’re a mom or grandma, it might also bring with it two of the most dreaded words in the English language:

“I’m Bored.”

Enter Summer Art Camp for KIDS! An online art class for ages 5 – adult that will allow kids to cut, glue, paint, watercolor, sketch, collage, create and stretch their creative wings, all the while kicking boredom to the curb.

Author and paper artist Courtney Walsh will take kids on a guided journey through each of the five mixed media projects, encouraging students to think outside the creative box as she leads them through each step, breaking it down in a way they will easily understand and follow.

This online course is the perfect way to bond with your child, so feel free to get in on this artsy fun, save projects for rainy days or do them all in one week, the choice is up to you! Let’s have a creative summer together, shall we?

*The class will include 5 projects with art videos start to finish.

*Each course will have a supply list and templates

*There will be templates just for boys too!

To register click HERE.


I wanted to also announce the winner of the kid’s art supply giveaway!

I bet you all thought I forgot.

OK, I kind of did.

Amy Murillo commented:

LOVED spending the summers as a child up-north in Wisconsin. We had the best time playing outdoors, making do with what nature provided us to broaden our imaginations with. Thank you for a chance at your wonderful giveaway – I’m going to have our wonderful grandchildren for 3 weeks this summer, this would surely come in handy!!!

 Amy, please email us at with your address and we will arrange for you to receive your art supplies.

This giveaway package needs to be claimed by June 18th.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend and I will be back on Monday with some cabinet updates!

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Getting a Little Tired Of This Face {Editing videos is for the birds}

Some days when I have watched myself for hours on end editing video and I have to realize how crazy my facial expressions are to the rest of the world… I just need a drink.

It is Friday and I would like to raise a glass to all the girls out there that are very expressive when you talk.


May you never have to watch yourself on video like I do:-)

The editing is almost over!

I hope you will join Jennifer Rizzo, Marian Parsons and me (the very expressive one) in the updated Building a Creatively Made Business 2.0.

I can’t promise that I won’t make crazy faces throughout the videos but I CAN PROMISE that you will learn a ton, connect with other creatives and come away with new ideas about your business.

The three week course begins on Tuesday, May 2oth.

The cost is $59 and the videos are available for one year.


You also don’t want to miss out on the brand new Plaster and Wax 101 with Kathie Vezzani!

Kathie doesn’t make as many faces as I do but she is so funny and awesome to learn from.

This two week course is perfect for introducing you to encaustic and getting your creative ideas flowing in a whole new direction.

This course is $34 and available for one year.

See you in class!

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Lover Of Words

As we are putting the final touches on the new course I wanted to share some of the quotes that we will be sharing.

I love including words in my art and it is so fun to put these together for the courses.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Enjoy your weekend.

And for those of you ready to grow your business or learn how to start…..I will see you on Monday afternoon.

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