Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Biz Inspiration: Joanna Gaines - The Power of Brand

On the last day of my family's Christmas vacation, my dad made our traditional holiday breakfast (eggs, grits, sausage and Pilsbury orange rolls) to cap off the season. As usual when Dad cooks breakfast, he gets to choose what's on TV in the kitchen, which almost always means HGTV. We wound up watching a show called Fixer Upper that I had never seen but immediately fell in love with! Have you seen it?? I have a feeling I'm pretty late to the party, so ignore this next paragraph if you already know what it's about... 

Fixer Upper is about Chip and Joanna Gaines, a couple in Waco, Texas who own a home renovation business. HGTV is now following them around with cameras while they renovate the worst homes in the best neighborhoods for their clients. The interesting thing to me, is not necessarily the homes, even though they're absolutely gorgeous by the end of each episode, but the couple themselves. They have four children, great chemistry and what seems to be a wonderful working relationship. I could not stop watching them! 

I wound up Googling the Gaines family, and found out that Joanna has a blog and an online shop where she sells jewelry and home accessories. She also owns a boutique in Waco and, in addition to their home renovation business, she and Chip have a real estate company, a gated community of small homes, and a farm loaded with animals.

My head started spinning just thinking about the numerous projects this woman is working on all at once. She's a shop owner, realtor, interior designer, blogger, TV show star, farmer and mother of four? How does she do it?!

Somebody asked her that very question on her blog and this is what she said: "I don’t. Do I fail and make mistakes? Every day. I have an amazing husband, a wonderful support system and a strong faith that God would not have brought me this opportunity without giving me the strength and grace to fulfill it."

Aha! I should have known. This woman is consciously dependent on the strength of the Almighty. That's the only way she could accomplish it all and remain sane!

But, after observing Joanna and her family for a little while, I could tell that there is a business secret that allows her to be successful with so many things. Her life is screaming a message that any small business owner would be wise to heed, and that message is: Branding is Powerful.

Business owner and speaker Whitney English says that a brand is based on 3 things:
  • Passions
  • Strengths
  • Values

Branding is the marriage of who you are with the visual and relational qualities of your service. It allows you to have cohesiveness across all areas of your business. I've been so focused on hunting for it myself recently that I recognized it immediately when I saw it in Joanna. Everything she's doing corresponds with who she and her husband are as people.

For any small business, your brand has to be YOU, and you function at your best when you're incorporating your passions, strengths and values. Just by watching Fixer Upper and reading Joanna's blog it is clear that she and Chip are passionate about Texas, Home, Farming and History. I would guess that just a few of their strengths are: Vision, Classic Taste, People Skills and Design. And, they've made it obvious that they value Quality, Honesty, Hospitality, and Family. These things come out in their lifestyle, their interactions with their clients, and even the way they dress.

If you were to check out Joanna and Chip's website or TV show you would find that all of their businesses fall under one title. They are all Magnolia... Magnolia Farms, Magnolia Villas, Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, etc. All of the qualities I listed in the paragraph above come out in the visual elements of their business (logo, designs, products), as well as how they do business. They've created a name for themselves that people associate with the specific qualities of the Gaines family. If it was easy enough for me, a person who has never met either of them, to get a sense of who they are just by observing their work, then they have effectively branded.

THAT is the secret that makes life easier for the business owner. When you can gather all of your projects and products under the heading of one brand that simply flows out of who you are, you've found your sweet spot, and it becomes easy to wear all the different hats that already fit you perfectly.

So, how does that apply to you? What can you take away?

For business owners, I'd say it's important to periodically reevaluate the message being sent to customers and clients through your brand to make sure it gives them a sense of the person behind the business. Focusing on using the things you know and love to do business will make work easier and more enjoyable and will create a common thread that runs through all your projects.

If you are interested in starting a business, ask yourself questions about your passions, your strengths and your values and think of ways to incorporate them into your brand. Make who you are a visual experience as well with your logo and other design elements.

Even if you don't have a business or a blog, you still attach your name to a life. Everything you do flows out of who you are and what you believe. Being aware of the things that make you YOU and choosing tasks accordingly can only help you succeed in everything you undertake. Across all jobs and all interaction with others utilize your passions, strengths and values.

If you aren't interested in checking out Fixer Upper on HGTV by now, just watch the teaser video below. They're so cute. I know you'll enjoy experiencing Chip & Joanna's brand. :)


*this post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with the Gaines family or HGTV and is based on my opinions alone. All photos in this post are from

Friday, January 9, 2015

Weekly Gold 1.9.15

Hey Sweet Readers, I hope your day is going well! I'm headed to a friend's cabin for the weekend. There will be animals and snow and peace and quiet. Can't wait! Today I'm sharing some of the links I accumulated this past week. :)

-I liked this quote, it's 100% correct: You'll be fine!

-15 Things to Start Doing By the Time You're 30 ( Personally, I think some of these should be accomplished before you're 20)

-I cried in a happy way. SO sweet...Son Pays Off Parents House for Christmas (Video)

-This is was very funny and very awkward.

-I'm probably going to wind up buying this skirt from Kendi Skeen's shop, West and Lou. I probably own one too many black skirts at this point, but this one's quilted...

-This short post from my pal Jenny on C.S. Lewis' wise words was very thought provoking. Heaven knows I waste a lot of time on things I don't really like doing because it's easier... never a good idea.

-8 Signs You May Be an Outgoing Introvert (That's what I am.)

-Has anyone else seen this trailer? It looks interesting to me!

Also, during my absence, I signed up for Instagram and feel as though I've finally met my social media soul mate. Let's follow each other...Follow Me HERE. A link is also under "Keep In Touch" in the sidebar.
Y'all have a great weekend!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My 2015 Resolutions for Growth

For 2015, I kept my resolutions pretty simple. They weren't only about what I wanted to do, but how I wanted to feel this year. The goals are the specific "states of being" I hope to achieve and the actions are just the steps to getting there...

-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 were your resolutions this year? How are you approaching your goals for 2015?



Friday, January 2, 2015

Finding Balance Between Business & Blog in 2015 (Blogging, let's stay together cause I'm still in love with you)


It's been a while...

Has anyone wondered what's become of Banana Grove Designs' blog and the obviously scattered woman running it? It's still around, the scattered woman is alive and well, and she finally has a new laptop that she loves, and a hard drive restored with much needed information! The loss of the old laptop was just one of the things that happened around Thanksgiving which hampered my ability to devote time to this space. An emergency with one of my part-time jobs called me in for hours and hours of overtime, and the holiday busyness kicked in for the jewelry shop. Like so often happens when we're absent from things for a lengthy period of time, it was difficult to return, and I did a lot of soul searching regarding this blog.

I have learned so many things in 2014 about my business and, particularly, about the delicate balance between business and blog. Here's a list of things I've learned... If you have a business with a blog, these definitely apply to you:

-Don't forget your purpose: If you started a blog for the purpose of sharing your business, don't lose sight of that, unless you make the decision to blog for profit instead. The business is your money maker...Don't forget!

-Blog about your business! Tell people about the new products you're offering and the behind the scenes of it all. That may seem like a no-brainer and yet, this year, I forgot to take it seriously.

-But don't stop there. Part of why people buy handmade is because of the interaction with a real person. Let them see what makes you who you are, and be open about the fact that you're a one or two woman biz. Add personality to the business through your blog.

-No matter how much you love to write, blog, and connect with other people, don't become distracted from the important (and sometimes boring) stuff. Blogging may be more fun, but it's not the most important thing.

-Find the niche that allows you to combine your business with information that resonates with people. Readers pass up an endless amount of written material online until they find what lends worth to their situation. Provide applicable info to your target audience.

I guess all of these little lessons stem from the biggest mistake I made in 2014: I lost sight of the primary objective. I started doubting my original plan of jewelry making/selling and began blogging like a lifestyle blogger. I can't deny my love of writing and connecting with other women, but after soul searching, I recognized that I set out to build a jewelry business and that's what I need to focus on!

SO my largest goal in 2015 is to rebrand in a way that combines the two: Encouraging my customers in their daily lives and building a successful, profitable business.

If any of you are also struggling to find the balance I'm looking for, I would love to have you follow along and impart your experiences with me.

2015 is laden with possibility! I can feel it! :)


photo cred