Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I've Moved!

The location of this party has changed! I'm over at! Come join me! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Getting Excited!

 A new name, a new logo, a new website, a new blog...Next week there will be SO MANY CHANGES!!!! I can hear the collective "finally" from everyone who reads this thing. I have been talking about it for ages, but now it's real!

While researching how to rebrand effectively, I read a very encouraging blog post by Nectar Collective advising people to launch sooner rather than later because things won't ever be perfect. I've taken as long as was necessary to actually get all of these new things created. Literally. I finished this like yesterday. But, I know it's not going to be perfect.

Changing how my audience sees me, or rather, finding the right version of myself to share, was hard. Figuring out how to make the transition has been confusing. But at this point, it's time to share and be at peace with whatever people see.

I'm launching the new website, brand, blog, everything next week! Make sure you come back to check everything out! I'm excited about what I have now, and I hope you will be too!


photo by LENS Photography 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How I Feel About Turning 25...

Before I left for Alabama, I saw another birthday come and go. I am now a quarter of a century old, and as I have the two previous years... 23 & 24, I'm taking a moment to mark the occasion with a blog post. Specifically, I'm sharing how I feel about my age. Here it is, 100% honest.

When I started pondering the number "25," thoughts like these flashed through my mind:

-I was supposed to be married by now.

-I was supposed to be a mom by now.

-(If neither of the above were a reality) I was supposed to be making more money by now.

-I was supposed to have written a book by now.

-I was supposed to have traveled the world by now.

The list could go on...

Those were the things I expected when I was young. And now that silly, negative little voice in my head is telling me that I didn't do what I was "supposed to do."

In looking back, there is very little that I could or would change. I know that. And at least two of those really big things listed up there are completely outside of my control.

But, as you can see, my thoughts around 25 aren't the excited, "I'm just young and living life, going with the flow, and seeing what happens!" thoughts that lots of people have. It's a downer to admit it and it may seem silly, but I've felt scared of 25's approach because all my ideas of what "on track" would look like for me at this point, haven't happened yet.

So, now what? What do I do with these expectations I had for myself?

I could do what I have done in previous years, which is maintain the status quo but let my feelings of frustration grow. I could get panicked and begin thinking of ways to drastically change where I am. I could "run off and join the circus" so to speak. Leave all the people whose lives I'm entwined with and the business I've worked really hard to build, the responsibilities I've accumulated... basically, do something reckless to try and fix what I'm feeling. But instead, I'm thinking of trying something else.

My 26th year could again be marked by the attitude I've struggled with for years...of discontentment and fighting to measure success the way Anna measures success. Or, I could turn everything on it's ear, throw away my measuring stick, open my hands, close my eyes and say, "Lord, I don't want my life to conform to my ideas, or the world's ideas. I want to follow whatever plan you've laid out for me, no matter how different or difficult it is. I don't want to feel fulfilled or successful as much as I want to feel poured out for your glory, filled up with your glory, and overwhelmed by your glory. No matter what or who or where it is, I want to do and be and go (or stay) for your name."

Honestly, I'm getting tired of feeling so disappointed with myself year after year. And I don't believe it's what the Lord intended. So, the only action I'm going to take is praying that the Lord would teach me to be satisfied with His plan. To rejoice in and enjoy it. To lay down my ideas of what a successful and fulfilled 25 year old life looks like. To take the pressure of being something "more," getting somewhere "better," and doing something "greater" off of myself. Because at the end of life, I want to be able to say that I not only lived solely to bring God glory, but that I lived faithfully believing that God's glory, and not mine, is all that really matters. My hope is that this belief marks the next year in a very real and tangible way.

Have you ever experienced, or are you currently fighting through discontentment? I know there are blessings for you in focusing on God's glory in a time like this...


Photo by LENS Photography

Friday, July 24, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Anna Seay ;)

 If you follow me on Instagram (@anna.seay), you'll know I just got home from Alabama, the deep down, hot and humid, red dirt and fire ants state from whence I sprung. And you'll know I had a great time. :)

My roots are down in Bama, and I really do enjoy going back and seeing my first home, and visiting my extended family. My parents and sister and I usually make the 12 hour drive down once a year. This time around, the weather was particularly warm. I think the heat index got up to 118 degrees one day. While there, we shelled peas and watched Rockford Files with Grandma, fed the chickens and played dominoes with my aunt, uncle and cousins, and just rested in the sweet comfort of family. I also spent a morning in another aunt and uncle's clean, beautiful private pool, which was amazing! You see, I live in the Midwest, I know no one with a pool, and I don't have a membership to the a morning in the water was tremendously rare and very enjoyable!

As usual when I get home from a trip, I feel a little bit different. I honestly believe that travel is something the Lord uses to grow me. After this one, I felt even more passionate about work. Just work in general. Usually, it takes me a few days to get back into the  daily grind after vacation, but this time, I jumped right back in. And, I partly attribute that to the impression left by my family. They are such hardworking people, and I was influenced by the way they put their shoulders to the plow (figuratively, speaking) every day. It left me excited to get home and dive into all the projects I left behind.

So, while vacation is nice and I love seeing some of my people, here's to work!

"Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot."
-Ecclesiastes 5:18

Where have you been on vacation? Or did you get to enjoy uninterrupted work this summer? :)


Friday, June 26, 2015


Hi Friends! I began four different blog posts yesterday!!! None of them worked and it was quite frustrating! I'm sure most of you know what that's like! I finally decided to just fill you in on what's currently going on in my world. :) SO currently, I am...

Working... on designing new sparklies. I was hit with an inspiration stick last night and didn't go to bed 'til 2AM cause I wanted to take advantage of it. Lots of new ideas. More intentional direction.

Reading... Pride & Prejudice for the third time AND I just bought a copy of Longbourne by Jo Baker. I think this might deserve a blog post in the future. I'm going to read both at the same time. That should be really interesting! Same characters, two different authors. If Baker measures up to half of Austen's greatness, she'll have succeeded.

Discovering... How good it feels to be satisfied with who I am. I don't think I could have even said that before now. The aesthetic of my new brand (I'm sorry, the details are still a secret 'til they're in place, but I'm really close!) is coming together in a way that incorporates more of who I am and that authenticity feels great!

Buying... More gemstones and chain!

Excited about... The website that's underway. I can't wait to unveil this to you! I saw the details fall into place in a more concrete way this week and I'm stoked! Stoked, I say!

Watching... Fixer Upper. I just announced to my mom and sister that I wanted to be Joanna Gaines when I grow up. I wrote a post about her here actually.

Eating... I don't feel good about this, but I last night, I ate copious amounts of s'mores dip. Have you ever had that? I may have to do a blog post about that too...

Listening to... I had the song Invincible by Kelly Clarkson on repeat yesterday. Girl power songs can be annoying, but the lyrics for this one just resonated. And she's a powerhouse, so she pulls it off. :)

Realizing... How sleepy I am after that 2AM bedtime.

Tell me what you're up to, please and thank you! Anna out! :)


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"New Year's Resolutions Check-In"

Remember those resolutions we made at the beginning of the year? ME NEITHER! That is, I couldn't tell you what all of them were before I began writing this blog post. Hopefully, you still kept your list like I did and can now look back at it mid-year.

Join me today in pondering your resolutions, praying over them, weeding out the ones that no longer apply and possibly adding some for the remainder of the year. We made these for a reason y'all. At one time earlier this year (a sparkly, enchanting, firework-filled time), all of these were the wishes for our futures. If we want to take them seriously, we should look at them more than once. :)

Here are mine:

-Be thankful...daily connection with the Lord through his Word and prayer

-Be active...exercise 3-5 days/week

-Be gracious...small goals over time = big goals, baby steps

-Be REAL food

-Be on God and the work He's given me to do in all aspects of my life

-Be present...things will eventually change, enjoy THIS moment

-Be hydrated...drink 6 BKRs or 8 glasses/day

-Be respectful...give family & authority figures their due

-Be rested...bedtime's at 10:30

-Be loving...throw kindness around like confetti, don't be a miser with love

-Be refreshed...take time to enjoy beautiful, FUN and relaxing things

What are your mid-year resolutions? :)


Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Ways We Learn God's Lessons


"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
- Philippians 2:13

After recently working at a homeschool convention in Sandusky, Ohio... I came home feeling different. It's how I usually feel after a trip. I am stretched and changed when placed in new environments and situations; I believe travel is one of the ways God works in me. For example, this time around I felt like I became a student of humility, teamwork, and trust just because of some of the circumstances experienced during the convention weekend.

In thinking more about how travel affects me, I began considering the different ways that God employs to teach His people. It's been argued (in my hearing) that you don't truly learn unless you've suffered long and hard. It's been argued that you won't know God's character unless you've basically been through hell on earth.

I understand that the soul wrenching moments in life will shape you like nothing else. I've been through some scary ones myself. But, in my opinion, it's often very relative to the personality of the individual. There are some who are wired to need a more significant life change in order to grasp something. Others need the passage of time. And often, it's true, God may need to lead someone through suffering before they learn the lesson He's trying to teach. But, there are those who will be changed by the whisper of an idea from God, and that can come by most any means.

In my case, my life has been changed, my heart shifted, because of watching YouTube videos, seeing a movie, reading a blog post, attending a webinar. I'm not exaggerating. There have been tears, my personality has changed, I have felt God's grace in incredibly real ways from things that were technically painless. And that's a reality.

The point of this post is more or less to ask you what ways you feel God employs to tug on your heartstrings? How sensitive are you to lessons? What off-the-wall or mundane things has He used to get your attention and reveal His character to you? And did He whisper or shout? Care to share?


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

'Sup! (Fun Links & My Whereabouts)

Hey Friends!

I'm going to be out this week working my "other job" that I don't talk about very much. I'm an office administrator for a nonprofit organization here in Ohio that supports homeschooling families, and this weekend is our annual convention in Sandusky! This is our first year co-hosting with a wonderful organization called Teach Them Diligently and it's also our first year at a convention center that's a resort & water park. :) It's bound to be fun but very busy and all of my blogging muscles will be used for the organization blog, so pardon my absence here. I'll be back next week, but in the meantime you should follow along on Instagram cause things will still be hopping over there: @anna.seay :)

Be they homeschooling or not, parents that care about their children's education have my heart, y'all. It's a privilege to help the moms and dads who are able and willing to take the role of full-time educators upon themselves.

And now, I have a few links for you to look at while I'm away...

17 Pieces of Advice for New Bloggers - Excellent tips from Alisha!

The Little Blue Car That Barely Ran - This made me tear up. Beautifully written by Rachael Kincaid, I think everyone can relate to the pangs of growing up and moving on...

The Definition of Hell for Each of the Meyers Briggs Personality Types - HAHA!

Salted Caramel Brownie Skillet - This recipe makes my mouth water!

The Happy Secret to Better Work - A Ted Talk by Shawn Achor that had my sister and me in stitches! He's hilarious and inspiring. :)

See you later lovelies!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Q: Do You Pray for Celebrities?

I've been wondering this for a while. I know that most of us pray for strangers like government officials and endangered people in the news, but do you ever pray for celebrities like actors and athletes?

I never did until 2014 when I started following a couple of Olympic athletes whose story really touched me. I found myself wanting the best for them, and there is nothing on earth better for them than that they should know and love Christ. To this day, I'll still say a prayer for their salvation when they come to mind.

In that same vein, I can think of many actors and actresses I enjoy that I have a heart to pray for.

Am I alone in this? Do you pray for celebs? Think of all the great ways God could use Christians embedded in those worlds to further the Gospel...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

the Creative Calling: My experience at the Influence Network Summit

This is what I learned at the Influence Network's online Creative Women's Summit last week: Everything I have and do belongs to God. My talents, my money, my time, it's all His. And so is my creativity...

I know I've already talked about this on social media, but it truly was an empowering event to sit through. I think a more appropriate name for this meet-up would've been "Pep Rally for the King's Artisans." That's what it felt like. I closed my laptop afterwards with a greater sense of purpose, responsibility and excitement about being a creative (in case you didn't know, that adjective is actually also a noun), and a desire to submit myself to Christ's every commission.

Co-mingled with the "call to action" that a pep rally typically signifies, was the sense of grace and calm being poured out for those struggling to move forward, those who are creatively burned out, and those waiting for clear direction. We were reminded that it's okay to produce for profit in order to provide for our families and continue growing our businesses. That we can depend on Him to fill us with creativity wherever and whenever He sees fit. And that His purposes are never about serving ourselves, but doing what is best for the kingdom.

It was all exactly what I needed to hear..

Some of my favorite quotes from the event:

"My surrendered life + His ways = True success" - Lara Casey

 "When you tuck faithfulness into the small, secret places of your life, God is pleased. He is so pleased." - Lysa TerKeurst

"When I try to create out of my own striving, or excitement or passion or ideas...if it's not from the Lord and not His motor behind it, I burn out and feel that mantle of burden." - Haley Morgan

"Doing creative business His way, in the light, doesn't look like the world's way, and it shouldn't."
 - Lara Casey

"Creatives are culture makers. Creatives are the ones who settle down and say, "Alright, let's make something outta this place.' Creatives are the ones who change and sustain and beautify, they're the ones who bring life, who bring excitement, who bring joy..." - Jess Connolly

 "We are not set aside. We are set apart. God is going to use this hard situation to develop in us a character to match the calling that He knows is coming." - Lysa TerKeurst

 "The dry bones are not yours to fix, it's not yours to get excited and pep yourself up and get it going again. I think it's time in those moments to abide and to wait for Him to fill you back up and to trust and know that He's going to do that." - Haley Morgan

"The world needs His light, and you're a  part of that. Your paintbrush, your camera, your voice, your art, your writing is the vessel. He is the charge, though, He is the spark and our tools are just the vessel for that, so let them be used..." - Lara Casey

"What if your business wasn't about you. What if it was about other people..." - Jess Connolly

"Creativity can really be dampened and the doors can close on it, when we think we're the boss of our own creativity." - Haley Morgan

"Even in the midst of feeling wronged, or left out, or intense loneliness, or like everybody else has all the secret connections and avenues to success, and everyone else is better funded than me, blah blah blah, I have to be able to say three things: God is good, yes. God is good to me, absolutely. And God is good at being God. Therefore, I don't have to try." - Lysa TerKeurst

"Christ died on the cross for me, for me to not just know Him and be reconciled to Him, but then to worship Him, to be creative, to speak life, to bring life, to seek the welfare of my city and shift the way things happen around me. And so, yeah, I might not feel comfortable, and yeah there are things that happen weird in the creative world and there are people who are playing it crooked, but Jeremiah 29:11..." - Jess Connolly

Consider joining the Influence Network to participate in free events like this one in the future! You can use this referral link to let the wonderful ladies know that I sent you. :)

Photo credit: (1) IG: @rachkincaid (2) IG: @moriahsunde

Friday, May 15, 2015

Little Dorrit


While housesitting with my sister Rebekah this week, we decided to watch the mini series Little Dorrit, and it's now my new favorite thing!

If you like BBC mini series (I have met very few people who don't), this is definitely a must see. I read the book a few years ago, and was so pleased with how Dickens' work was portrayed. Sometimes, film adaptations of his novels can be way too dark. This was just the right combination of warm light and grittiness.

The cast was made up of talented British actors like Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy to most people), and Russell Tovey (I can't look away when he's on the screen). Little Dorrit herself was played by Claire Foy whom I had never seen before but who was absolutely perfect. And then, there was Andy Serkis. Yikes. I had no idea that Serkis was capable of playing such a scary villain (Gollum doesn't count).

You'll laugh, cry and be generally "wowed."

Have you seen it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Being Content in the Midst of Peace

A little bit of truth I reflected on earlier this week:

Life in my home is so simple and sweet. There's nothing overly challenging or difficult about it. We have small struggles, but all in all, we have much to be thankful for, and when it comes to the world's problems, I generally feel like a spectator. No one in my family is ill, no one is unemployed, no one is in a job they hate, no one has gone off to war, and no one has had their heart broken recently. My father and mother and sister and I have worked long and hard to reach a point where four adults can live and work harmoniously under the same roof, and I think we've finally reached it. It's all good.

So, why do I feel discontent? It doesn't make sense. Why don't I feel happier? I'm forgetting something...

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. " - Philippians 4:12 &13

My peace doesn't come from peaceful living. It comes from eyes locked on the savior of the desperate and the blessed alike.

When life is going well, it's easy for me to take my eyes off of Christ, but He is the ONLY thing that gives true peace. Calm conditions make me feel safe, but if I forget to redirect my gaze to the focal point of life, I will ultimately feel as discontent as when everything is in upheaval.

We mustn't take our eyes off of Him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Currently, I am...
Designing... a website! I can't wait to share this with you. I had hoped to have everything finished by the end of April, but as I have learned, things don't always work out the way we forecast. My goal is to have everything finished in June. This one woman show is busily figuring many things out for the first time, but the priority is getting it right and enjoying the process!

Enjoying... spring! This is always my favorite time of year! Everything is blooming and colorful and everybody is appreciative of the warmth instead of complaining about it. :) I'm drinking in all the green and pink and white every chance I get and planning fun things for the summer months.

Ordering... my life before I go off to housesit for a Boston Terrier. This is like a little retreat that I look forward to every year.

Celebrating... Mother's Day soon (obviously)! Mom, you're getting a blender! (She knew that already, the old one just gave out)

Tasting... lots of fruity, vegetabley, and meaty things. I'm on a no-carb cleanse for a few days.

What are YOU currently doing?

Linking up with Anne in Residence & Gold and Bloom :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mother's Day Sale & Heartbeats Necklace!

It's a great day for a sale, don't you think! This one is to honor mother's everywhere with a whopping 40% off of everything in my jewelry shop! Gift Mom with something handmade and sparkly this year by using this coupon code at the checkout: LOVE4MOM!

I also want to direct your attention to one special necklace...

Whenever someone purchases the "heartbeats" necklace pictured above and below, 50% of the money will go to a Christian nonprofit organization here in Ohio called (of course) Heartbeats. Heartbeats' mission is to educate pregnant mothers on alternatives to abortion and give them practical support while sharing the Gospel message with them and their significant other. This organization is near and dear to my heart. They are literally saving hundreds of unborn children while providing new moms and dads with Christ's love and care.

The necklace itself comes in either sterling silver or vermeil (gold plated sterling silver) and can be purchased here. It's a gift for Mom that will bring care to other new mamas and protection to their infants. If you have questions, please ask in the comments below! :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dear Married Person...

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this article by Verily Magazine about some of the well meaning, but often affronting things that single people hear from the sweet married couples in their lives. As a single girl I think I've heard just about all of them. It was pretty funny, you'll have to check it out!

These words are most always said out of love and a desire to sympathize, and truth be told, I don't get annoyed by any of them, but there is a sentiment expressed in this article that I really want to point out to the marrieds who may have forgotten what the singles really want: 

Most single people would like for you to be actively involved in their dating life.

You read that correctly, most single people are really hoping that someone who knows them well will introduce them to their future spouse. That doesn't mean they want you to start setting them up with anyone and everyone, but it is comforting to know that someone else is keeping you in mind when they meet other singles.

An alternative to all of the things on the Verily list is to say: "Tell me what you're looking for, and I'll keep my eyes open." And, "I'll be praying that he/she is getting ready for you while you get ready for him/her." Positive, expectant, hopeful words are the best.

Getting to know the single person will help you know what to look for, too. They'll be so grateful. I know I am very thankful for all of the dear couples in my life watching for that special guy. :)

Any thoughts on this? Singles? Marrieds? Newlyweds? Do you have a story about a match made by mutual friends?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Guarding Our Sabbath Rest

Today, I'm talking about rest! I've come to the conclusion that not adequately resting is as much of a national epidemic as obesity. And when I say "rest," I don't mean physical rest but mental rest. I get up and work until it's time to go to bed late at night, only stopping to veg on my phone or watch a youtube video (which is not actually resting, it's escaping). The weekends are practically the same since I work from home. Can you relate?

One of my favorite bloggers, Jess Connolly, posted something about this on Instagram a while ago. She said that she caught herself wishing there was a day during the week when we could all just rest, then remembered that, THERE IS! She felt convicted and I feel convicted, of forgetting to use God's perfect provision of Sunday. The Sabbath is not supposed to be just another hectic morning or a spare day to catch up on work before Monday. It's our job to work hard during the week, then rest just as hard...

While Sabbath rest is important, I am not of the opinion that we shouldn't attend church in order to preserve it. I believe that corporate worship with other Christians is a wonderful way to focus on where our rest comes from and is a reflection of our eternal rest. The fact that people have to do a little work to organize things is just the way it is. But, that doesn't mean we can't take measures to guard our rest. Unless we're intentional, it probably won't happen. Dare I say, we have to schedule it? God did.

For myself, making sure the morning is not hectic and stressful means getting in bed early on Saturday night so I feel rested the next day. It means preparing sufficiently so that minimal work is needed for clothing and meals on Sunday. It also means saying "no" to things I normally do on the weekdays. When I get home from service, my natural tendency is to check email and work on projects for my business. Sometimes I nap and watch movies with my family, but then I work some more.

I'm challenging myself to do the things on Sunday that I never get time to do during the week: take a nap, read fiction, write fiction, write handwritten letters, play games, call my grandmother, just be with my family and give myself permission to not think about any of the stuff on my plate. Maybe even (heaven forbid), turn off my phone. Basically, throw myself into the act of enjoying and being thankful for rest because it is His gift, because He has commanded it, and because I really need it.

What does your Sunday look like? Have you got this "guarding your rest" thing down?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Influence Network Giveaway

You've probably heard me mention the Influence Network before. :) It's an online community that focuses on encouraging and assisting women in their small business and ministry pursuits both online and off (meaning, you don't have to be a blogger or have a website to be in this network) and it's basically the best thing to enter my world since Nutella. If you're craving Christian community with other ladies, I would highly recommend Influence! I joined the network back in January and have been so impressed with their Christ-centered vision. Find more info about the network and all that a membership offers here

One of the most exciting things about Influence is that they hold an annual conference in Indianapolis with many wonderful speakers. Although I've never been, I've heard the very best things about it and would love to go this year!

If all this sounds great, today's your lucky day. Elizabeth Mayberry from Oak and Oats teamed up with me and 20 other ladies to give someone the chance to win both a ticket to the 2015 conference and $300 for travel expenses! You don't have to be a member of the network to attend the conference and there are many different ways to enter below. (If you follow me on Instagram you already have an entry to claim.) 

This opportunity ends Friday, so hop to if you're interested! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Minor Adustments

My mother just told me that she was tired of looking at my blog in the mornings and finding that nothing new had been posted. Sorry, Mom. Sorry, anyone else who agrees with my Mom. :) My blog has been stuck in a phase of readjustment and it's thrown me for a loop. "What do I mean by that?" I mean, I made big blog plans that didn't work out and chose to hide from them for a bit instead of dealing with them.

I've been putting off writing because after my little BizGold linkup drew very little interaction, I didn't know whether or not to write about business topics like I'd planned or move on to other things. I have to admit, it was tough to deal with the lack of interest in that one idea. In my mind, I was going to share everything I've been learning about business, and other bloggers would share what they're learning about business and eventually this blog would become a hub of priceless information for small business owners everywhere! Blah blah blah. Expectations will always disappoint.

Thankfully, the voice in my head that sounds like Sylvester Stallone kicked in last week, "Shake it off, and do something different. Don't stop. Just keep moving forward! You're a fighter, not a quitter." (You didn't know this, but I give myself pep talks in Stallone's voice.) Also, a sweet sweet blogging friend encouraged me this weekend when she said she'd experienced some of the same responses to the topic of business on her own blog and thought I should just make BizGold my own personal series instead of a linkup.

As I write this, I feel that I ought to try to reconnect with blogging in a simpler way. Just write. Just share. My family, my part time jobs, my new jewelry shop, my close friends, the things I enjoy, what the Lord is teaching me..there's value in just writing about those things and not worrying about some of the other "professional" stuff.

I apologize to those of you who may have been looking for a BizGold post today (there were a couple of you). I will post on the topic of business again, but it won't be open for linking up. I'm going to try all kinds of stuff on this platform, but not all of it is going to work. And that's okay. (Sylvester) You ain't worth nothin' if you can't take a hit!

(Thanks for the nudge, Mom)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Instagram Happenings

Hey Y'all!

Once I finish switching my blog to a new platform, I'll be sure to install an Instagram widget, but for now, here's a little bit of what's been happening on IG. If you have an account be sure to follow along @anna.seay :)


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#BizGold Vol. 2 - What To Do For the Unhappy Customer

One of the most basic aspects of entrepreneurship is of course dealing with customers. It's a privilege, but it can also be rough. Hopefully, every client you interact with will love the product and service you provide, but inevitably, a product will arrive late, will break, or (heaven forbid) will not live up to the customers' expectations. I've learned it happens to everyone and that an unhappy email usually shows up in your inbox when it does. That's a hard thing, but what's sometimes worse is when you get no email at all.

When I was just beginning my jewelry business, I had a long conversation with a woman who was an experienced jewelry designer and business owner. One of the best pieces of advice she gave me was to go above and beyond when fixing a problem for your customer. If something breaks, replace it for free. Pay for shipping both ways. Throw an extra gift in the box. Do more than they expect you to. I have since had occasion to use that advice (thankfully, only twice), but I would add something else to it:

Go to the unhappy customer before they come to you.

A couple of months ago, one unhappy customer bypassed my inbox and went straight for the review page... I received a notice that someone had left a review on my shop, and upon opening it, found 3 out of 5 stars winking at me (they were smug, those stars). The necklace the customer received was adorable, she said, but it broke after wearing it for a brief amount of time. 3 out of 5 stars changed my shop review as a whole from 5 stars to 4... and I began to panic. 

In a perfect world every customer would go to you first when they have a problem, instead of writing a bad review, but often that just doesn't happen. In that case, you fly to the customer. I quickly responded to the review and told her that I would send her a replacement the next day for free. She immediately changed her review to 5 stars, and I started breathing again. When I mailed the replacement piece to her, I stuck a discount code in the box and a note reminding her that I was always available to fix issues for my clients.

I walked away from that little experience knowing that if I had not been so quick to respond, the customer would probably have forgotten to change her poor rating (disaster). (Being extra quick is the best way to guarantee the customer stays your customer.) But I also learned that going above and beyond to serve the customer means going to them. You can't guarantee that once you put your product into someone's hands, they'll follow up when something goes wrong. Whether it's with a comment card in the actual box, an email asking them how they liked your product, or a prepaid means of returning your item, communicating with them first makes them feel like they're free to communicate with you.  People need to know that there's a human on the other end of the transaction, not just some company that doesn't care about them.

What are some of your customer experiences and have you taken measures to anticipate disaster? :)

If any of you bloggers have a business-related post that you would like to share, feel free to link up by following the instructions below. #BizGold takes place on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Next up is April 14th!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

7 Books for Growth (My Current Reading List)

 Lately, I've been eager to get my hands on as much information as possible about growing a small business. Here are 7 books I have high hopes for, that I believe are not just for small businesses. Most of these look great for anyone looking to improve the way they operate in the world. I'll let you know what I think of them as I knock them off...

 Make It Happen by Lara Casey. I got this one free for being a member of the Influence Network. We've been going through Lara's book in the very laid back Influence Network book club, and so far it's resonating with me in many ways. You'll be inspired to stop living for your own purposes, and bravely live for God's.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is one I've been wanting to dive into for a while now. The title is pretty self-explanatory and pretty well-known. I think I'm afraid of this one, to be honest. :)

 Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath was recommended by Whitney English in a class that I took a few months ago. It is supposed to be helpful for developing your personal brand and knowing what tasks to delegate.

Good to Great by Jim Collins was another one recommended to me. How does an average business become a great one? That question is supposed to be answered in this red book...

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was recommended by my mother! The title of this one always used to bother me, but I really think it's more about understanding and working with people, not manipulating them. :)

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a recent addition to my list. How does something become popular? What small factor creates a trend? The theories in this sound invaluable for anyone with a product to sell.

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber was a Jess Lively recommendation. This has been on my list for quite some time. From the description, I'm expecting a business handbook for a non-business person. Gee, I hope I'm right.

Have you read any of these? Would you like to? :)


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#BizGold Linkup Vol. 1 - 4 Keys to Brand Success

 I'm so excited to launch my first linkup today! If any of you have a business-related blog post you would like to share, feel free to link up by following the instructions at the end of this post. BizGold takes place on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Next up is March 24th!

Your brand is the defining, aesthetic voice of your business and finding the right one is a big deal. The dictionary definition of "rebrand" is to "change or update the image of (an organization or a product)." It would be awesome if we could slap an "image" on an organization or product and it be good enough for all eternity, or if we could find the perfect branding for our product and/or services right from the outset. But, I've come to realize that it usually takes quite a while to nail down just the right look to represent your business. Today, I'm talking about the four things I've found to be vital in a brand. If you're missing one, it might be time to rebrand like me. :)

1. Personal Significance: 
When I initially chose the name Banana Grove Designs, it had personal significance but wasn't really at the core of who I am. I think it's important for the name and voice of what you're doing to really have weight. It should "have legs", be build-able and really resonate with you. That's not self-indulgent, it's just a guarantor that you're going to want to get out of bed in the morning. (I'm gonna geek out for a moment, and tell you that I compare this to a patronus (Harry Potter reference, sorry). It has to be powered by a strong memory to have the desired effect.)

2. Strong Purpose: 
In addition to having personal significance, it's also important to have a definable purpose. Much like a mission statement, can you put into words why you're doing what you're doing? Granted, almost all of us are in business to make some money, but if you want your business to be meaningful to needs meaning! :) There should always be a purpose for what you're pursuing in your life. Make sure you infuse your career with it.

3. A Cohesive Aesthetic: 
You have a pretty product, yes? What kind of pretty? Are your color choices, logo design, fonts, and name the same kind of pretty? For me, I feel like the tropical name Banana Grove Designs captures a few aspects of the jewelry I sell, but it doesn't quite fit everything I'm going for. It doesn't capture the elegance and simplicity of what I'm trying to make. It's important to me that everything make sense to my customers. I want them to "get" what I'm trying to say through the few visual messages I'm allowed.

4. Buzz Worthiness:
Is your brand dynamic? Can you get people excited about it? Does it have possibilities and opportunities attached to it? Any and all buzz is good, y'all. You don't have to feel "un-buzzworthy" because people don't talk about you as frequently as they talk about Coca-Cola (dare to dream, though if that's what you're shooting for) but the customers you do have should want to tell their friends about you. Try to get people excited about you as a brand, not just as a product.

If you're missing one of these keys, it doesn't mean you need to scrap everything  and start over, it's possible some mere tweaking would do the trick. Or, you might find that your current brand is all wrong and you need to do a complete overhaul. There's no recipe. But, I do feel like these are important if you're going to continue moving forward. Show up in the comments if you have branding experience or an idea you'd like to share! :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Biz Gold Linkup Intro

Have you heard of the personality test that matches people with the animal that best represents them? There are four specific animals to cover all the people in the world (a dog, a beaver, a lion and an otter, in case you're curious), but I feel like the blogger and online creative could be represented by a totally different one! Can you guess which? Not a lion, tiger or other vicious feline, not a smart and savvy fox or a bold, energetic monkey. I think the animal that best represents all online business people is...a duck.

Friend, consider the duck. It gracefully and calmly glides across the water's surface with nary a care. Everything's peaceful, pretty and smooth. But, stick your head under the water and you'll see the duck's little webbed feet paddling furiously away. So, it is for the online creative. There's so much fury and frenzy in trying to reach a goal or merely stay afloat in the online marketplace, but the job more or less requires everything to look calm on the surface.

It can be hard to live like that, especially when it keeps you from recognizing that you're not alone. That's why it's been so great for me to find community with other people working towards the same things online, and that's why I'd like to have you join me next week for a brand new linkup I'm hosting called Biz Gold.

Some of you are creative entrepreneurs, some of you run a moneymaking blog, some of you are seasoned and some of you are just starting out, but you ALL have business knowledge and experience! Pop some of it into a blog post and link up with me and other business gals next week. Share what you learned in a recent project, your social media expertise, a victorious moment, "how-to's," a fateful story, a behind-the-scenes look, whatever you'd like to cover on the topic of how you do what you do! :)

Biz Gold is set for the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month and begins next week on March 10th. If you can't join then, I'd love for you to join another week, but make sure you come check out the wisdom and stories of the participants next week. :) We're all paddling away furiously, we might as well share what we're learning and be in community with each other!

 See you back here next Tuesday!