Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hello, Goodbye! Come say hi!

It's been just shy of a year since I publicly bid adieu to Hello Bella on this blog, and at the very end of that blog post, I said " I hope to finally enrol myself in a graphic design course, and continue to hone my skills to create pretty printable materials. It won't be anytime soon, but keep an eye out for Hello Bella invitations, printable parties, labels and much more." 

Well, here I am announcing I have finally found an outlet for my creative energy, and would love for you to join me on the ride! I took a slightly different path than I thought; I have focused more on organizational and household labels than event graphics, however there will still be the odd thing here and there for weddings and events.

I really struggled with my branding this time. I feel like I moved a bit too quick with Hello Bella, and although I loved my cute little moniker at first, it grew old really fast. I also felt that unless you added the wordy "Weddings and Events" to the end, that it really wasn't descriptive in any way, which wasn't doing me any favours.

I have, ummm, about 2000 Hello Bella business cards and about 500 promotional postcards sitting in a box in my office. I was extremely tempted to stick with Hello Bella for my little graphics business so that I could recycle all of my printed materials, but in the end I just couldn't. First and foremost, this is a completely different baby than Hello Bella was, and I wanted that to be clear. And second, I made a lot of mistakes when starting out and branding HB, that I just needed a clean and fresh slate.

So The Paper Society was born! To be completely honest, it happened much quicker than I was planning because of a feature about my labels on the popular blog iHeart Organizing. I wasn't going to roll out my etsy shop until I had a good inventory of ready made label templates, professional photography, and solid branding (and a mini business plan of course!), but when the feature opportunity came up, I knew I had to be ready. Fortunately I've had the name settled on a for a few months and haven't tired of it yet. I feel like it's solid, it evokes a certain kind of lifestyle, and is fairly descriptive without having to force the words "labels" or "graphics" into it. The logo, on the other hand, is not officially locked in and was something I had to whip up to pull the etsy shop together in time. I'm liking it for now, but open to it evolving over time.

There is a point to this lenghty, boring post, I promise! This is likely the last time I will ever post on this blog, and there are still 50 or so of you subscribed to it. I'm not even here to shamelessly plug my etsy shop or my facebook page, but actually wanted to invite you over to my personal blog The Social Home. I PROMISE the posts won't be wordy like this one! I'm mainly chronicling my adventures in diy decorating our home as well as the odd label design (and freebie). I spend a lot of my free time doing household projects, and a lot of them are share-worthy, so perhaps you will find something useful over there! 

That is all for now! If you stop by my blog, please say hi! I'm really looking forward to this next chapter! 

All the best! xox J

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hello? Is Anybody out there?

Yes, yes, I'm here. I know it's been a while since I posted last- around 6 months actually. And I feel like I owe it to the small handful of readers I had, but mostly to the many potential clients that email me each week and the wonderful vendors I've had the opportunity to work with, to explain my absence.

About 4 years ago I started on a journey I never planned. Fresh out of university and managing the restaurant that I had worked at throughout my schooling, I was gearing up to make a career in finance and put my degree to some use. I had all intentions to follow in my father's foot steps and work in portfolio management, but there was always something holding me back. My apprehension stemmed from the fact that as an inherently creative person, part of me couldn't imagine being business, all the time. I got married to the love of my life and had an incredible time planning my own wedding. It was at both a fabulous and stressful experience as I'm sure many brides can attest. It was the best day of my life, but I was happy that it was over. No part of me longed to plan a wedding again. Ever.

I did, however, fall in love with the details. It was all about the details. After using Word and Powerpoint (really, Jen, really?) to design my own monogram for my wedding, I got a little itch to see what else I could create. Thankfully I moved on from Microsoft Office to more sophisticated design programs, and put my self taught bag of tricks to use. I used my (now embarrassingly novice) skills to create graphics, labels and signs for one of my first events, a fan-tab-u-lous Barbie bridal shower. I loved creating the details of that party, from the handmade crystal beaded wine charm favours, to the favour packaging, to the drink labels and the Barbie cake. I was in a creative euphoria. So when everyone around me urged me to put my passion to some use, I started to consider a change in career path.

I started by going back to school- if I was truly going to pursue this as a career, I wanted to make sure that a) this is something I would want to do and b) that I would know what I was doing once/if I started. I designed my own very amateur looking website (again, embarrassed by my past self here), and spent a good chunk of time creating my business plan. Points for business plan, minus points for not really finishing it. My biggest problem with my BP is that I really couldn't narrow down my market, couldn't decide exactly what I wanted my business to be. My heart was with the smaller events- the baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties of the world. But the business side of me knew that if I wanted my business to stay afloat, I would have to venture into the wonderful world of weddings. Weddings are where the money is. Weddings are where people have the budgets to hire a planner/decorator. If I wanted the luxury to create incredible parties, I needed to have the consistency and remuneration that weddings would afford me.

So weddings is where I went. With next to no advertising and a lot of word of mouth, the brides found me. As a newbie in the industry, I priced myself accordingly, and therefore the budget-conscious brides of the Lower Mainland came to me in droves. That first year was hard; a lot of work for very little pay, but I knew it would get better, and this was only part of the process. I gained experience, and brides got (what I believe to be) a steal of a deal on a passionate, hard working and creative event planner.

The next year I more than doubled my rates. I figured I was worth it, and with the time I was putting in, I needed it. I thought maybe the number of clients I booked might decrease, but the quality of them and the budgets they brought with them would lead me to a happier place. I was given the opportunity to plan a few smaller events, but for the most part, I was weddings, weddings all the time. I continued to book more clients, continued to work harder than I had ever worked, and continued to hone my design skills.

I had mostly great clients, ones that made me love what I did with a passion. I also had some headaches, the kind that made me question what the heck I was doing and why on earth I put up with what I did. Regardless, at the end of the day, planning and coordinating weddings took me away from what got me into the business in the first place. I barely had the time to work on my graphic design skills, and showers and parties were getting more and more infrequent as I had to turn many away because of the volume of weddings I was planning. I was overworked. Under appreciated. Unhappy. Yada yada yada. Whine whine whine.

Once I got over my pity party, I came to the realization that all of the amazing vendors I worked with on a daily basis had one thing in common- they were truly passionate; truly head over heels in love with what they did. Did they love weddings all the time? No. But they loved their role. Whether it was the DJ's passion for music, the photographers passion for composition, or the pastry chef's passion for baking and cake design, they all had something that got them through the tough times. And that is what I was missing. What I loved most: the small and cozy gathering of friends and family to celebrate the momentous occasions in life, such as bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays; designing the little details that pulled everything together; creating and designing, not planning.

So here I am, on this beautiful and sunny April morning (completely ironically and not planned this also happens to be the day my business license expires), ready to hang my wedding planning hat. It's been a long time in the making, but I felt the need to share it with the world. A very heartfelt thank you to the friends, family, clients and vendors who supported me and cheered me on along the way. I couldn't have done it without you.

Where does this take me now? I've recently started a career in an entirely different industry, and so far it's a welcome change. It affords me the time and freedom to start carving out a pathway to pursue my creative urges on a part time basis. I hope to finally enrol myself in a graphic design course, and continue to hone my skills to create pretty printable materials. It won't be anytime soon, but keep an eye out for Hello Bella invitations, printable parties, labels and much more.

As they say, when one door closes, another opens.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Lindsay + Stu | Farmhouse Wedding

It had been a hit or miss September, and despite everyone's acknowledgement of the unpredictability of weather in the fall, I had my hopes up high. Linsday and Stu had an incredible country setting for their ceremony, and despite tents to cover guests, if the rain were to pour, then we'd be moving inside for an uncomfortable and quick reception/ ceremony room flip. I guess our many prayers payed off, because Stu and Lindsay's wedding turned out to be one of the most beautiful days in September. A tad windy, but beautiful none the less.

The emotions were high, the bridal party was STUNNING (seriously- have you seen a more beautiful bride in your life?), and the team of vendors were fab and worked hard to make this day as special as it was.

These incredible photos were taken by one of my new photographer crushes, Melissa Gidney. She is extremely talented so I suggest checking out her work! The cake was done by the fantastic team at Frostings in Langley, and the gorgeous decor by Jack and Jill. The centerpieces were a labour of love created by the bride and groom themselves (lucky girl- I could never get my hubby to do anything remotely crafty!), and DJ Jay Frost mixed some amazing tunes for the non-stop party.

This wedding will go down as one my favourites (as I am severely in LOVE with the vineyard shots). Congratulations Lindsay and Stu!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bella Wedding | Jenn + Perry | Swan E Set Bay

Jenn ♥ Perry ... Highlights from Love Story Media on Vimeo.

I'd say most, if not all, of my business comes from word of mouth or wedding guests. This one in particular came from the sister of one of my past clients. You might remember Kristin's to-die-for New Years Eve wedding from this post. Kristin is a wedding planner herself, so I know that any event I do with her, or her family members for that matter, will be spectacular.

Kristin and big sister bride Jennifer did not disappoint! With the juiciest colour combo I've ever worked with, and a vendor roll call of some of the best in the biz, I was more than happy to take the ropes to make sure the day they planned went on without a hitch. I got to contribute my part by designing one of my favourite candy bars yet, full of creamsicle colours and delectable vintage labels.

The wedding was spectacularly beautiful (dare I say my favourite yet) and incredibly emotional. Jenn and her new hubby Perry are pretty much the poster children for love, and I know they have an entire lifetime of happy memories together!

Massive thanks to Mandy Jill for these dazzling photos, and to Erik of Love Story Media for the touching cinematic version of their wedding day. It's always an honour to work with such great talents!

Thanks to these FAB Vendors:
Wedding Design Studio
Swan E Set Bay Resort

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Loretta & David | LoveStory

Loretta ♥ David ... Highlights from Love Story Media on Vimeo.

Loretta and David's wedding fell on a beautiful, classic rainy Vancouver day at the end of May. When I woke up and saw the gloomy skies all around me, my heart sunk a bit. Although we had a "plan B" for their ceremony, I knew that Loretta really really wanted an outdoor ceremony on the lawn in front of the their Brock House reception venue. If it were to downpour, we'd be forced inside, which would have made for a very unhappy bride. Although the rain didn't stop, it was light enough to go to Plan C, which meant outdoor wedding ON, clear umbrellas UP. The rain, although inconvenient, made for an incredibly romantic day, and even provided the opening shots of their ring close up for this incredible highlight video, created by the ever talented Erik of LoveStory Media.

I'm a bit of internet addict, so prior to catching some shut eye, I lay in bed and checked my email on my phone. Erik's email appeared in my inbox and my heart began to flutter. That meant that Loretta and David's wedding video was up! Woot woot! I kind of feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I press play- and I guess that's very fitting, because truly, having a wedding video from Love Story Media is probably the best gift one could ever open. Eager and full of excitement, I watched it for the very first time on my iPhone laying in bed with my hubby right beside me. I couldn't stop gushing about the video, about all of Erik's videos, and how incredibly incredibly talented he was. I then went on to reflect on our wedding day and how heartbroken I was that I hadn't even thought of a videographer during my planning process (I was not a wedding pro until about 8 months after my own wedding day- so although my wedding day was beautiful, carefully planned out and full of intimate details, I lacked the knowledge and experience to know what really matters when it comes to capturing a wedding day.) My hubby went on to say " You really like this Erik guy, hey? A bit of a crush, have we?"... I laughed, because little does he know that the real cursh I have is on his videos. I fall in love with each highlight video like a teenage girl falls in love with the current heart throb de jour while watching movies like Twilight or High School Musical (who am I kidding? I'm not a teenager and I'm in love with Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson). All quips aside, if you haven't already done so, head over to the Love Story Media blog, and start watching some film reels and you'll know what I mean. I can watch them all again and again.

I'm sure I'll update again when the photographs are ready, but in the meantime enjoy! And congratulations again to Loretta and David!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kitty Candyland

Yes, this event was a while ago but I'm playing catch up, starting with May. May ended up being my busiest monthsof the year, jam packed with weddings, and a last minute event was the icing on top. When Lexie of the The Kitty Card contacted me to design their Official Launch Party, I hesitated. I knew it would be an incredible opportunity to go all out pink and girly just like the last event I did for them. But I think I had something like 3 weeks to whip this thing together. This wasn't just a candy buffet; this was a full on event design complete with carnival themed decor, custom pink lighting, a deluxe sweets table, designer cake, cotton candy machine, and full on graphic design and custom sign printing. Phew I got tired just thinking about all that work again.

Anyways, after much deliberation, I decided, why not? I don't often get to just take off and run with my creativity. Obviously wedding couples want their tastes encorporated into their wedding, not mine. But a pink girl through and through, I knew I could satisfy the Kitty Card brand while having some fun myself. I also thought it would be a great way to get my name out there and show what I could do (nb: not so much. I had high hopes for the news media that attended, but turns out no one cares to ask for nor credit the person who designed and pulled together the whole event :( Oh well- it was still pretty darn fun to do!). The GORGEOUS cake was designed by the uber talented Anna of Anna Elizabeth Cakes and the rentals were graciously supplied by my go to girl Carolyn from All Occassions Chic Decor Rentals.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Janice + Shad | Cloverdale Wedding

Janice and Shad, affectionately called "Shanice" have got to be one of my favourite couples this year. We became friends over many glasses of wine and planning their elegant and fun wedding felt like more play than work. A stunning outdoor ceremony at a private estate transported me, and I'm sure many of the guests, to a world reminiscent of The OC. The heartwarming reception was held at the quirky and unique Vault restaurant in Cloverdale and the night was nothing short of perfect. Incredible photography by the talented Sarah Reese of Bliss Photographic, and the stunning flowers by Kathy of All Tyme Florists. Thanks to my sidekick Jenn for helping me pull this day off without a hitch. And to Shanice, may your marriage be as incredible as your wedding day!