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Upcoming Workshops

Establishing Your Brand
Parisoma
Wednesday, May 16
6 - 7:30 pm

200 Yards

@ Moxi Salon
Opening Reception
May 5, 6-9pm

@ Rare Device
Submission Deadline
April 30th

 

"My meetings revolutionized my business because I allowed myself the time, under the guidance of Lightbox SF, to ask myself some really hard questions."

“They helped me so much when it came to pushing my ideas to a new level. They always came with examples to look at and people to talk to and really pushed me out of my comfort zone so I could do more and more. I highly recommend them!!!”

"I would recommend Genevieve for overall plan development and artist marketing to anyone that has a creative idea, the mind of an artist and loves the web.”

"They are always there for me with words of wisdom when I'm feeling a little lost or need help with the next step in my jewelry making company. They have been a huge help in my business!!"


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Wednesday
Feb222012

In Memory Of My Beautiful Grandmother, Marian

I just got the phone call this morning that my dear Grandmother has passed. Although, we have been preparing for months for this as you know it is never easy. I was blessed with four amazing grandparents and each I was lucky to have spent ample time with during their time on earth. Grandma Schrickel, my mom's mother, is the last and though I have lived far away for the last 12 years, we remained close. I will miss our phone calls Grandma, your laughter, the way you get so excited when I call and share news of the city life. Through you I inherited an amazing mother. You inspired me to express myself through words, creativity and love. You showed us all what unconditional love really means. You have helped me become the woman I am today.

I will miss you Grandma so very much. I will think of you with every flower I touch, every sweet smell of Spring and rebirth and every apple pie I eat, although not a one will be as sweet and delicious as yours.

Please hold hands with Grandpa again and continue to watch over us. I love you.

Tuesday
Feb212012

Should You Be On Twitter?

I get a lot of clients that ask if they really need to be on Twitter. Then they usually go further saying that they’ve tried it, but just don’t get it. I completely understand. I didn’t get it at first either.

Now I have a totally different outlook. I’m a total convert. Twitter has proved to be a great networking tool, a way to promote what we’re doing and a way to bring new people to the blog. It also doesn’t have to take as much time as you might think. That said I also don’t believe it’s for everyone.

Who are you trying to reach?

This is an important first question to ask yourself in determining if Twitter is worth your time. If you’re trying to reach your customers, do they actually use Twitter? There are plenty of market segments that have no interest at all, remember you’re not even convinced you need it. However if you’re looking to network and generally broaden your reach, bloggers, media folk and connectors are all over Twitter.

What are you hoping to achieve?

Another vital question to ask. If your goal is just to sell more, you might very well find Twitter frustrating. It’s not a place to sell products; it’s a place to get people interested in you. If your goal is to connect with people for guest blog posting, possible collaborations, or simply to build a bigger following then you’re on the right track.

How do you communicate?

140 characters isn’t a lot to work with, you have to be concise. Also the immediacy of Twitter is hard for a lot of people. Most posts are lost in a matter of minutes and definitely within an hour.  But that same immediacy has its advantages. You can get quick responses to questions, push the same message out a few times and not overload anyone, and jump in and out of conversations with ease.

Try it out. 

If all the above has you thinking this might just be the platform for you, then try it out. Give yourself a month and really dedicate some time to it, say an hour a day. See how others communicate, participate in a Twitterchat, follow all sorts of people, share links, retweet, reply, ask questions, and watch what happens.

My favorite way to describe Twitter to newcomers is this: It’s just like a cocktail party, except at this cocktail party there’s a million conversations happening about any topic you can think of and it’s expected that you butt in to any one of them that interests you. Everyone there is looking to make a new connection and you’re just as good a candidate as any of them.

Next week I’ll share some tips on how to get started. But feel free to say hi in the meantime, @lightboxsf.

Thursday
Feb162012

Friday Favs - Yep, She Is At It Again

Oh how I adore this woman and everyone behind Alabama Studios. I swear in 2013 I am going to spend sometime in Florence with this lovely comradery of creatives. Their new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design is due out in Spring and is available for pre-order.

I also just spotted these beautiful placemats that will remain on my dream list but would look amazing with the beautiful  Alabama Chanin HEATH bowls.

 

 

Wednesday
Feb152012

Creating Space - Believing In Yourself And Moving Forward

One of my favorite TED Talks - Caroline Casey

Tuesday
Feb142012

Happy Valentine's Day - Show Yourself You Care

image by honeytreeI had planned to put together a post of creative crushes for this Valentine's Day, but as Shelly mentioned last week was a bit of a doozy and then I came down with an icky bug yesterday and decided that a little self-love was needed instead.

As creative entrepreneurs it's hard not to be our own harshest critics, it's hard not push and push, it's hard not to expect more, but sometimes we also need to give ourselves a break. So yesterday I allowed myself to ignore email for almost the entire day and watch Netflix for hours on end. I felt a little guilty about it, but I told myself pushing to get work done would only make me feel worse and may cause more days of not much getting done.

I awoke this morning, not feeling 100%, but feeling much, much better. However, I'm still not going to push myself. I'm going to focus on the things done that need doing and let the rest wait for another day or another week, knowing it really won't make any difference in the long run.

So this Valentine's Day I urge you to take the time to show yourself a little love. Treat yourself to flowers, some chocolate, or an uninterrupted bubble bath. Then remember all the amazing things you've accomplished and give yourself a much deserved pat on the back. Afterall this relationship is forever.

Saturday
Feb112012

Friday Favs - Way To Go SF Made!

First I want to apologize for Friday Favs being posted on Saturday. It was one busy week and well... you know how that goes!

 

photo from lila b designHow awesome is it that we are seeing some of our favorite local artisans selling their goods in Banana Republic? It puts one big smile on my face. Way to go SF Made for making it happen! Way to go Banana Republic for supporting your local artists.

etta and billieLong time favorite Alana of Etta and Billie is back selling her beautiful, luscious handmade soaps. New friend floral and event designer Madeline Trait has set up shop there too. by Madeline Trait

 

I am headed there tomorrow because I am totally out of citrus poppy seed soap (my fav!) and I perhaps I'll pick up myself a beautiful floral arrangement. Valentine's Day is right around the corner! Why not treat myself to something sweet.

 

I have also heard wonderful things about Lila B Design's beautiful succulents and one can never have too many poco loco chocolates on hand

 

Tuesday
Feb072012

Creating Space - Understanding Simplicity

Print by Captain Cat CollectiveI hope you all have been keeping up with the Simple Living Pledge at the Kanelstrand blog. Just a week into the challenge and there have already been so many beautiful ideas on living a more simple existence. From accepting imperfections, writing down dreams to simple home organization, I am inspired to make some big day to day changes. First of course, just because I cannot help myself, I started to reflect on all the wonderful people I have met in my life that have impressed me with their sincere decisions to live less hectic lives.

My Grandmother was born into living simply. She grew up on a farm in rural Ohio and although day to day life was far from leisurely, they fed themselves from their land, churned their own butter and were strong, supportive members of their community. Not a story too different from many of your own grandparents I am sure but how often do you reflect on how they lived? My Grandmother remained in that same small town, married her best friend, raised six children of her own and I have never known a kinder, happier woman.  Bright as a tack she was far from removed from the realities outside of Clyde, Ohio and taught me a lot about the "going -ons" in the world. They traveled often and until recently when old age is slowing Grandma down exchanged letters with people they met on their travels 40+ years ago. I spent a lot of time at my Grandparents while I was growing up and it was all the simple pleasures that I remember most - cooking together in the kitchen, games with cousins in the big yard, setting the clock so we could feed the ducks as the passed through the neighborhood. It helps me to remember how happy I was by sharing these little things with my family especially when challenged by the crazy days of city living. How can we capture these moments in our modern hectic life?

I think for me this challenge to live simply will be easier if I hold an image of my Grandma in my head, a beautiful lady laughing as we both enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the neighborhood animals cross her lawn. To have a mentor or to reflect on people living the way you wish to live is a very effective means of staying focused. It can be someone from your past, someone you only see twice a year or someone new that you really just admire but allow someone else to help guide you through this Simple Living Challenge and see if it makes the adjustments easier and more fun.

I would love to hear your comment and reflections about your own Simple Living Pledge!

Tuesday
Feb072012

Making The Message Clear

You may have noticed a few changes around here; we’re giving Lightbox SF a little update and making our message clearer.

The first thing was the tagline below our logo. Yes, it’s a little dramatic, but we got your attention? We don’t exactly see an army of creative entrepreneurs taking to the streets and putting large corporations out of business. What we do see is a shift in the economy. We see a shift toward passion-based businesses, toward people making the most of what they’re inherently good at, and toward small, independently run businesses. Tara Gentile explains this concept more eloquently in her article on Indie Economics.

We believe that creative people can be successful business owners, maybe even more successful than the number crunchers and power suits. Passion and the ability to think outside the box go a long way in running a business. We believe your work should sustain you financially, mentally, and creatively. We believe that you have everything it takes; you just need a little guidance and support.

To that end we’ve been clearer about who and how we can help.

We want to work with you if you’ve got ideas burning holes in your brain, but feel overwhelmed or fearful of implementing them. We want to work with you if you’re positive you’ve got something to offer that would make the world prettier, happier, more confident, or just generally better. You must be willing to do the long hard work, but we promise to be there every step of the way.

We help by giving you the knowledge you need in a language that makes sense. We’ve found that a lot of the business advice out there doesn’t truly fit small creative businesses or is too general to really be of use. We see ourselves as translators, taking the bits and pieces that are useful to creative entrepreneurs and showing you exactly how to put it to use.

And because we know one size fits all rarely works, we’ve structured our services differently in order to accommodate different budgets and different styles of working. 

So take some time to poke around, read more about us and our approach. We also learn by hearing from you so send us a note any time.

Wednesday
Feb012012

Open Doors - In The Studio With Shana Astrachan

I had the lovely pleasure of spending some time in the studio with my good friend and amazing artist, Shana Astrachan. When I envision that amazing woman we all inspire to be with non-stop energy, constant motivation, perfect hair and extraordinary artistic skills, I think of Shana. I can already tell you she is blushing right now as she reads this but it is all 100% true. In the three plus years I have known her she has taught me so much about how one can run her own jewelry company and a makeup and hair business at the same time, shared with me the challenges artists face, taught me how to crochet and more than a few times gave me one incredibly good facial. I am lucky to get to spend quite a bit of time with Shana but I wanted to sit down in her awesome studio and get to the real nitty gritty - How the hell does she juggle all that she does professionally, still manage to see all of the best local bands and still never have dark circles under her eyes? Let's get down to business!

Shelly - I personally know that you often have five jobs or projects that you are doing at one time. How do you do all of this and not go crazy? What advice can you give to others on successfully juggling their creative endeavors?

Shana - I think doing all this is what keeps me sane. If I wasn't doing everything that I love doing - creating my jewelry line along with teaching jewelry workshops, running a holiday pop up shop, doing makeup and hair for photo shoots and weddings in my alternate Fox and Doll business, the occasional facial and brow wax in between it all, and teaching the Beauty School Rebel classes at Workshop, I just wouldn't feel complete. I would become restless. I love being around different people and doing many different things. I found for me that it is a good idea to take some risks and try a lot of things. You never know who you will meet or what you will learn. From every job I have taken whether it seemed directly related to my businesses or not, I have learned something about customer relations, perhaps found new clients or learned business skills such as bookkeeping and shipping. It is also nice to get out of the studio away from business commitments for a period of time that forces my focus outside my personal business/work.

I use iCal as my calendar and have 9 different compartments for different aspects of my life. One for Shana Astrachan Jewelry studio time and one for the business end of things, one for Fox and Doll, one for social events, etc. It is important for me to put things in immediately and constantly be syncing between my phone and computer.

Shelly - So with being involved in so many things there must be a constant stream of opportunities. How do you decide when to say no?

Shana - This is something I have become better with over the years. I have developed great relationships with a lot of my clients, so I always want to maintain those. Then there are people that I have always wanted to work with including shops and individuals and if that opportunity arises then that is a definite yes. Of course, to maintain a successful business I do have to look at profitability, both financially and emotionally. Is this a shop that I enjoy working with, do they sell a lot of my work or do I end up spending way to much time on my own trying to make the relationship successful? Do I agree with a vendor's or a store's practices? Do I respect them? If not, working with them is not for me. It takes too much energy. For example, I love the engraver I work with. I look forward to seeing him and enjoy supporting his business and will continue to do so.

Shelly - Ok so you know this, but I love your space. Your studio is right off your kitchen, your apartment is adorable and full of fun kitschy knick knacks. It is such a fun space to visit and the whole place has the potential of being really inspirational. Was having your studio at home a welcomed decision?

Shana - I used to have a studio in Bayview that I shared with two other artists. It was a big beautiful industrial space and I really did enjoy it. At the time I was also living with roommates and at one point after many happy years in the studio I decided it was time to look for a new home of my own that could also house a studio. It took me 1 year to find the perfect place but it was exactly what I wanted and 10+years later it still suits me. 

Shelly - So your clients come here to see your work?

Shana - Yes, I am happy to meet with clients here and I do inform a new customer that they will be coming to a combined home and studio. Having my studio in my home also helps me keep my costs down. I built this kitchen island to use as a work and display table, and it's on wheels so I can move it. I think it creates a more personal experience and clients can see how my work and life are integrated.

Shelly - So someone who was uncomfortable coming into someone's home studio to purchase work probably wouldn't really be your ideal client.

Shana - Exactly. If that is something that turns them off then I understand we aren't a great fit and I am always happy to suggest a business on Fillmore Street or such if that is the type of experience they are looking for. It is not always a sustainable business practice to spend money on a separate studio space or a storefront for that matter.

Shelly - So how are you about shutting down from work being that it shares space in your home?

Shana -  That can be hard but sometimes I work very unconventional hours and really enjoy late night work time. If I am inspired late at night or need to ship something in the am then I go for it and let it take over my space. That is the benefit of having my space all to myself. I can make my own schedule and work when I want to.

Shelly - Please tell me your apartment inspires you as much as inspires me?

Shana - (Giggles and blushes) It actually does. I have a lot of books and magazines that are a source of inspiration. I collect jewelry from other artisans that really speak to me. My collectibles, my books, music - they all help me. And I always have so many home improvement/decorating ideas that I want to do here. It's a never ending workshop of ideas! Oh and Pinterest - I use it to display many of my inspirations. I love Pinterest!

Shelly - Oh girl, I know. It's so addictive.

So tell me a bit about the actual workspace? You have mentioned that it is a little smaller than you wish. How does that hinder you?

Shana - I work with it. I do have this table in the kitchen that I can spill out onto and of course my living room and bedroom. I am getting better about putting things away as I am done so it all becomes my 'home' again each day. Everything is strategically placed in the actual workspace due to the small size and so that I always know where my tools or materials live and I can easily access them with a turn in my chair or reach over my shoulder. I have a good connection of other metalsmiths and artisans who let me come over to their studios to work if I need to use a particular piece of equipment that I don't own or if I need a larger space for a  project, like the custom candle holders I recently made for Locanda Restaurant.

Shelly - Speaking of connections, I learned a lot about creating community from speaking with you in our small business group. You are really tapped into the local artist community. That's awesome!

Shana - I have always found it to be very important. I have been involved in Society of North American Goldsmiths since 92' and part of the Metal Arts Guild and our Critique Collective group since the mid 90s when I moved to San Francisco. I am very thankful in particular for my Critique Collective friends, a group I helped start in 1997. Together we have supported each other's careers (not to mention personal lives), put on exhibitions, traveled to England for an Artist's Exchange and so much more. I can't express the importance of community enough. There can be so much power in the gathering of like minded creative people.  

Shelly - You rock Shana! Thanks for being my first interview victim! And thanks for being such a source of inspiration for SF artists!

Shana - This was fun. Thanks for choosing me!

Shana Astrachan is a San Francisco based metalsmith, licensed esthetician, makeup and hair consultant, teacher and all around awesome lady. If you didn't click on the links above feel free to visit her at any of the below sites.

www.facebook.com/ShanaAstrachanJewelry

www.shanamakeup.com

www.foxanddoll.com 

www.shanaastrachan.com

* All photography by the lovely Genevieve Robertson

Tuesday
Jan312012

February Business Goals

by Snail Mail DesignWhile exploring the internet I read a post that lead me to Liz Kalloch and her website Athena Dreams. I read through a few posts and eventually landed on this one, where she lays out her business goals for the month of January and talks about a group of like minded business women who created The Meetup. On the 1st they each post their goals for the month on their own blogs. Liz's site works as a hub for all the posts with everyone posting a link to their goals in the comments. Of course mutial support, encouragement, and feedback is appreciated and encouraged.

So I've decided to join and post my goals for February. I love the idea of a new network of creative business owners to provide some accountability and feedback for me. I also thought it would interesting for all of you to see first hand the progession of Lightbox SF. So here goes:

Feburary Business Goals

Focus: Connecting and Networking

1) Send a survey out to both past and potential clients for feedback and marketing insights

2) Get 2-3 case studies up on the website

3) Expand social network by 100 people (mailing list, Facebook, and Twitter combined)

4) Begin working with 3 new clients

5) Secure one new guest post

I have all these written on a 3x5 notecard that lives above my desk along with a note card that lists my top goals for 2012. Each month I write out a new card with my focus, projects and goals for the month to help keep me on track. Posting them here makes them a bit more real and has the added power of sending them out into the world. You never know what could come back to you.

What are your top goals for the year or the month?