How It Started: The Story Behind the Skyline

One of the biggest questions I get at pop-up shops and in person about the Fredericksburg Skyline designs is how did I come up with that? Where did the idea come from?

The real answer is: it happened accidentally. I didn't I wake up one day and know that I wanted to create this Fredericksburg skyline design. It just kind of formed from other ideas and took off from there. So I'll go back to the beginning.

A few years ago, I created a local logo using the skyline as a part of it. I found a real photo of the skyline from across the river, and digitally traced the skyline on my computer.  I incorporated it into what I wanted, and that was it. I didn't really think much of it. It was just....a skyline.

Not too long afterwards, the Burg Box came about, and incorporated the skyline into the logo and the main designs, because it just seemed natural. If the box was about all things Fredericksburg, why wouldn't the graphics reflect that? I also started including the skyline cards in the boxes, which really became my first big hit.

People LOVED the skyline cards. I sold more cards than boxes, and started really connecting with the community about this skyline. Selling these cards was when I had one of the first moments of 'man, this could be something.' But I had no idea how to make it happen or what to do. And of course I was scared, so I just kept moving forward with the boxes because that's what I knew. 

A little bit later, I stopped in to visit a good friend downtown, Catherine at Monkee's of Fredericksburg, and she proposed the idea of creating some skyline shirts and items that she might be able to sell in store. And that's when I really got the courage to start this, even though I won't lie, I was so scared and thought it was going to be a total flop. 

Up until now, most of the Fredericksburg items in the area are civil war based, maybe a little out of date, or tailored towards visitors, not locals and people who have grown up here. To be honest, until I started doing these designs, I didn't own anything Fredericksburg related. 

So I created a few designs to narrow it down from, we brainstormed product ideas, and the brand was born! We started with the t-shirts, cards, and drinkware, and it's grown since then. As most of you know, the gift boxes have since changed, and that's partially because of how well the skyline has done and how much people love it.

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Ultimately, I love how this skyline and these gift boxes have brought me closer to this amazing community. The support and love I have received from it is unlike anything else. While it's so much fun coming up with new ideas myself, hearing from YOU about your ideas or suggestions and even just how much you love it, is the best feeling ever. 

You see, there isn't some large corporation behind these skyline products. It's just me. Every t-shirt, every mug, every tumbler, etc. you see at Monkee's or in my shop, has been hand checked. Every state cut-out or watercolor or sign was hand drawn or painted by me. Every order that comes into my shop gets a legit happy dance with my dog and a text to my fiance that I got another order. I'm really just a small town girl who's passionate about her community and happened to stumble upon something that people really like. Isn't that how any business really works?!

Moving forward, I'm looking into new products and activities for the skyline and am always looking to hear from you! If you have an idea or product suggestions, let me know! If you're interested in working with me on a particular project or want to use the skyline for something, please reach out! I would LOVE to work with you and hope to continue to expand the skyline in the future, but I know I can't do it alone, and I don't want to! Your support means everything to me. 

I could never thank Catherine enough for her amazing support and for believing in me and my designs. Without her encouragement, these designs would not have happened. And thank you to all of those who purchase and support local businesses, not just mine, but all of the amazing ones in this area. You have no idea how much it means to us as small business owners. You mean everything to us! 

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2017 Recap

Happy New Year, Ya'll!

I hope you had an amazing holiday filled with love and friends and family. I won't lie, my Christmas tree is still up. I just love it so much I'm not ready to take it down yet. So, up it stays! 

I'm really taking January to kind of recap and reboot a lot of things. I'm trying to take time to think about how 2017 went, how I want to change things, and where I want to be a year from now. It includes a lot of really good things and a lot of really hard things. Including yesterday's announcement....

If you haven't heard, I am closing Love, Virginia Gift Boxes as you know it now. But I'm not actually closing it for good, I'm just kind of giving it a new home here at Twila. I have been so blessed that Twila grew a lot this year, but because of that, I basically forgot about the gift boxes. I had a few individual boxes here and there, but nothing of what it needed for me to justify keeping it. And what I loved about those boxes, was helping other small businesses! I love branding boxes and sending those boxes out to clients on behalf of the small businesses. So as the boxes move to Twila, I am focusing on bulk and larger orders. Do stay tuned though, because I do have a few other things up my sleeve...

So why was 2017 such a growing year? SOOO many reasons. For a lot of the same reasons that I know 2018 will be too. When you own a small business, the growing and learning never stop. If you stop those things, then you're not doing it right. 

Here's a little recap of some of the highlights from 2017.

First Employee. I hired my first employee! Yay Jael! She's been an amazing help and asset to me this year, and I hope that this year she becomes even more integrated. I'm very excited to see where this year goes!

Fredericksburg Skyline. Oh my gosh, I still just can't believe how well the Skyline has done this past year. Ya'll really know how to make a girl feel special! This has been the biggest growth and most amazing thing to be a part of. Truly. I cannot wait to share with you some of the things I'm working on now! 

Simplified & Streamlined my Invitation Process. This was a huge one! This past year I really focused on simplifying and streamlining my invitation process so that I had it down to a scientific process of forms, payments, and contracts to better serve my brides, and be able to spend more time with them on the design rather than the paperwork part. It's been so helpful so far, and one of my goals for 2018 is to further simplify this and apply it to other aspects of my business. 

Got Engaged! I know this isn't directly business related, but it's still pretty big news, right?! Other than just the joy of getting engaged, it's affected me in some incredible ways, including giving me an entire different outlook on working with my own brides. 

Incredible Photo Year. Looking back at last years blog and weddings, I am just in awe of the beauty of the weddings my brides are planning! They are absolutely stunning and I am so grateful to be a part of it. 

And I think those are the headlines! Looking back it doesn't seem like a ton, but all growth takes time and patience, and that's what this year was all about. This year I did get the Goal Planning Powersheets by Lara Casey and while I'm a little behind, I cannot wait to share some of my upcoming goals for 2018! Have an amazing day!

 

 

Branding Client | AP Stecker

I feel like I'm finally catching up on my blogs and featuring some of my amazing clients. This year, I've felt so blessed to have worked with so many amazing people and their small businesses. I love branding because I get to help people really take their business to the next level of making it feeling like its theirs

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This morning, I'm sharing the brand I worked on with Amaia from AP Stecker Events and I'm so excited! This was such a fun brand to design. She had visions of constellations and stars with blues the same as the shades as the sky. 

I got to work with constellations and the night sky to develop this brand and I know I'm biased, but I think it turned out so cool. If you head on over to the website, one of my favorite aspects is the night sky video when you arrive on the home page. 

Amaia's style and brand incorporated so many fun elements and stayed true to herself and her vision for her event planning business. She was such a pleasure to work with and I'm so excited to finally share it with you! 

 


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Source: ap

Branding & Instagram

If you're like me, Instagram is one of the biggest tools you use in your business to keep in touch with your followers. I use it on a daily basis, and use it as a way to keep my followers updated as to what's going on with the company and what I'm working. I try to be personal, thoughtful and keep up with the things I post, and at the same time, try to have a consistent feed. It's certainly a challenge!

It's only been in the past year that I've really upped my Insta-game and focused on both the content and the look, so when someone asks me how I keep it so consistent or compliments me on my feed, it is a HUGE compliment. It's not always easy. 

This is also one of the biggest questions I get and suggestions I make when someone is working on their branding. Instagram is a HUGE part of branding, and can be a very useful tool if done right. But I find a lot of people only think about it post by post, not the overall big picture. While one post might bring someone to your profile, it's your feed that ultimately captures their attention and is the determination of if they follow you or not.

Today's blog is going to talk about things you can do to make your feed more consistent and branded to your business, but I do want to preface by saying this: it doesn't happen overnight. Seriously- it took me months to get a good flow, and even now I still struggle with it at times, but here is what I try to focus on when choosing photos for my feed and matching my brand.

Background  |  First of all, I try to use a similar background in many photos. I try to do a light grey or white to give my feed a 'lighter' effect. I personally love clean and simple looking things, so these colors work well for me. It also helps when I take my own photos as I have a white foam board that I use as a background. 

Obviously, choose a background that fits YOUR brand, but I would suggest not to make it too busy. Perhaps a marble effect or a lighter color works better for you. Or maybe a wood or texture. 

Colors  |  After trying to maintain a consistent background, I try to include my brand colors in as many photos as possible. My {current} brand is blues and greys, so I try to use a lot of blues and greys. However, my new brand is going to be blacks and white with a pop of blue, so you'll be seeing a switch pretty soon!

Editing & Filters (obviously!)  |  I know this one is kind of obvious, but if you do use filters or edit your photos on your phone, edit them all the same way. When I take my own photos, I edit each one in the exact same order and only allow myself to use the same 2-3 filters, pending which one looks the best and keeps my photos in line with one another. I use both the Afterlight App (Best $1 I've ever spent!) and Instagram's editing tools to edit and filter my photos. It's easy to learn, and once I developed my technique for getting the correct brightness and exposure that I prefer, it takes me two second to edit any photo on my phone.

Every 2-3 Photos  |   Okay, so now you have the three basic rules that I use, here's the last one I use that kind of lightens the mood...We all have those photos that show a product or event or something, and we absolutely LOVE that photo but it doesn't match our feed at all. In fact, it sticks out. Not because it isn't beautiful, but because it just doesn't match. So I use a rule that every 2-3 (or 4 or 5, whatever YOU prefer) I post a photo that doesn't necessarily match my brand or other photos, but because I do it consistently (seriously, keep it consistent) it starts to match. For example you could do: post 1: branded, post 2: branded, post 3: branded, post 4: different, then repeat. This gives the whole feed a nice flow, and keeps things consistent, which then starts to look like you branded it/planned it out. 

Helpful Apps  |  Well, I use the Later App on my computer and my phone to plan my posts and see how they are going to look. And let me tell you: It has made all of the difference! It's not just planning, but also reminds me to post because otherwise, I would forget!

Additional (yet important!) Note: Be Authentic   |  The cool thing is, is as long as your photos generally follow these rules or if each photo follows at least ONE rule, the consistency will start to show itself. By no means should your feed be totally perfect and every photo doesn't need to have the same background and incorporate your brand colors; that's not how business is. Business is messy and real and can sometimes be all over the place. So ultimately, your feed should be authentic and represent YOU. These are just a few tips that I've found to be useful in building my brand via Instagram. 

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