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SOUR CHERRY PIN BTS

As you all know by now, I recently launched my online store this past week! A big thank you to those of you who have supported me on this new journey of mine and have already purchased a pin – you have no idea how much it means to me. I’ve always dreamt of one day owning some type of clothing and/or accessory brand and after following the journey of so many girl bosses like Jen Gotch of Shop Bando and Joy of Oh Joy, I finally decided it was time to dip my toes into entrepreneurship! Since this is all still fairly new to me, I’ll be easing into everything slowly and starting off with selling a few pins this Summer. So far, I was able to release one product but I’m definitely hoping to roll out a new design every month so keep your eyes peeled for new items soon! I love being able to take an exclusive look at how products are created from the ground up because I always feel so inspired by a creator’s design process. So I thought it would be interesting to share how I went about designing the Sour Cherry pin from process to final product execution!




1. BRAINSTORMING

I already formed a list of ideas related to the Summer awhile ago and for some reason, the cherry concept was one that stood out to me the most and so I decided to run with it first! I scoured Pinterest, Instagram, and magazines for inspiration on color palettes, typography treatments, and other cherry images. I pretty much used bits and pieces of elements I loved in each of my curated photos to create a solid draft. I particularly wanted to include a bubbly 70s inspired text, a cheeky phrase, cute elements like hearts, and somehow incorporate lips into the design (which I ended up including in the backing card).

2. ROUNDS OF REVISIONS

I’m honestly not one to sketch out my drawings first and after investing in a wacom tablet of my own, it made everything so much easier to translate my ideas directly into Illustrator! I started off with a general shape of two cherries connected to a single stem and played around with the typography of “Bite Me.” I also wanted to create something consistent across all my designs for branding purposes so I made sure to include the heart from my official logo!

3. FINALIZING COLORS, FILE PREP, + MANUFACTURING

Once I locked down the design, I sorted through the entire Pantone Coated Colors (this is the color book that is recommended when printing enamel pins). After asking a lot of my fellow creative entrepreneurs within my Instagram community what services they use for their stores, I decided to try out one of the companies they suggested online that was based in UK. Since their headquarters is located so far, I knew that it would take nearly a month to produce. I ordered the product in mid May and ended up receiving all the pins mid June. Although it took a bit longer than it may have taken if I had created it locally, it was definitely worth the wait because they ended up printing beautifully!

4. BRANDING

Once I submitted my pins to manufacturing, I began coming up with ideas for the backing card. I already had the idea of incorporating lips into the background while designing the cherry because I really liked how it put emphasis on “Bite Me.” I went with a fairly simple design, added some gloss to the lips, and showcased a cute pair of gap teeth so that it wouldn’t take away too much from the actual pin itself. I ended up printing these on small square business cards!

5. MARKETING MATERIAL

During the waiting period for the pins, I focused on how I wanted to market the pins and as always, turned to Pinterest for some inspiration on marketing photography! I knew a lot of companies who sold pins generally used the denim jacket approach but I wanted to try something a little different by going with a more still life approach.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how I created my first product. I’m hoping to do this for every product that I roll out in the future! Let me know your thoughts and if you have any suggestions/questions, feel free to share them in the comments below. Also, if you would like to purchase the Sour Cherry Pin, click here!

xo, Donna Belle

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CAREER

INSTAGRAM Q + A

One of my favorite things about this platform is having the opportunity to connect and build a community with SO many like minded creatives. I asked you all last week to leave me any questions you have and I’m finally here to answer them!

Where do you find inspiration for design/creative projects? aka go-to blogs, tv shows, music, podcasts, etc?

Everywhere and everything! I watch a ton of Youtube on my freetime and a few content creators that immdediately come to mind are Iamkareno, Simply_kenna, Thefashioncitizen, Clairemarshall, Krist, and PrincessMei. It’s such a saturated market (everyone is doing challenges, hauls, etc) but I really admire the cinematography, video editing, and overall creativity that sets them apart from the rest. In terms of blogs, I like to read Oh Joy, Oh Happy Day, Aww Sam, and Studio DIY because their content is just so colorful and fun! When I’m not blogging, 99% of the time I’m on Netflix. I think shows like Stranger Things and Chefs Table have amazing visuals that will definitely inspire you. I don’t listen to much podcasts (if you have any reccomendations of your own, please share!) but I find Ted Talks to be encouraging in so many ways.

How do you schedule/plan out your posts? Do you have a system or do you just go with the flow?

I wrote an entire post about this topic, which you can read more about here! In short, I have section in my notes application on my mac where I brainstorm all of my ideas for that month/week. Then I narrow down these topics by assigning them specific dates on my iCalendar then begin writing scheduled rough drafts via WordPress!

How did you come up with your branding name?

I actually didn’t intend for SHESELLE to be my branding name – it sort of just happened that way. When I was in high school, my childhood best friend and I were trying to come up with usernames to include in our Myspace URL (yes, this was way back in the day) and I just continued to use this handle for pretty much everything moving forward. It’s pronounced “She’s Elle,” which is short for Donna Belle.

What type of camera do you use?

I use a Canon Rebel T5i with either the 18-55mm Kit Lens and/or 50mm f 1.4 Fixed Lens (I recommend the f 1.8 lens which is relatively cheaper and about the same quality).

When is the best time to take outdoor photos?

Definitely during golden hour, which is one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. I would avoid shooting around 2pm to avoid any harsh sunlight but if you have no choice, it helps to shoot against a wall that is reflecting the light.

How long have you lived in SF? Are you doing anything fun for New Years or do you have any recommendations when I’m there?

I don’t live in San Francisco – I live a little over an hour away but I do often commute there for work! I usually stay at home for the New Year with my family but I highly recommend checking out Fishermans Wharf to catch the fireworks. For general touristy spots, you should definitely check out the Golden Gate Bridge, Mission Dolores Park, Alamere Falls (I have yet to visit but I’ve heard wonderful things about this place), Alcatraz Island, and breeze through the city in a cable car! For food, there’s Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (for the popular cruffin), The Mill (for delicious toasts), Philz Coffee, and Marlowe (for brunch and cocktails). The list goes on!

Please share your photography tips! I’m just starting to pick up my DSLR.

Lighting is key! If you’re shooting indoors (like I am most of the time for my product shots), I like to take my photos by a large window to bring in a bit more light. Shooting on your phone VS your DSLR is completely different when it comes to Instagram. Take into account negative space and have the 1:1 framing in mind while taking your photos. I also recommend investing in Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop for editing purposes.

How do you manage your time as a freelancer?

At times, it can be difficult to motivate myself (especially when there’s no one else to tell you what to do) but having a set schedule for the beginning of each month, week, and day helps tremendously. It’s easy to be distracted at home so I found that working in coffee shops surrounded by other people who are working has helped me manage my time better as well.

How do you come up with topics for your posts?

The things I write about are usually based off whatever I’m currently going through or obsessed with at the moment. I also like to scout magazines, pinterest, and youtube for inspiration from time to time!

I hope you found this helpful in any way. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them!

xo, Donna Belle

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CAREER

PLANNING A BLOG POST

Throughout the year that I’ve been blogging, I experienced a great deal of trial and error when it comes to planning, preparing, and scheduling my posts. I’m in no way perfect and there are days where I’m either feeling uninspired or have lost track of time but most days, I like to follow a consistent schedule. If you’re curious to see my process when it comes to creating daily content for my blog or are simply interested in pursuing blogging in the future but don’t know where to start, then keep reading!

Make a List

When there’s a million things to do, it can get pretty overwhelming so I like to create lists of what I plan to accomplish in the beginning of each of my days to prevent added stress. I either recommend physically writing this down on paper or downloading Wunderlist (an app that allows you to digitally organize and check off your to do lists).

Brainstorm Topics

If you own a macbook, definitely take advantage of the Notes feature. In the beginning of my work week (typically Sunday), I begin brainstorming various topics that come to mind and narrow it down to 3-5 topics that I’m interested in discussing for that week. When I’m stuck, I like to flip through magazines and/or read other Lifestyle blogs to get my creative juices flowing!

Choose Due Dates

Once those topics are confirmed,  I mark on my iCalendar which dates I hope to publish them on. Unlike school or work, you don’t have anyone pushing you to get things done so it’s important to set due dates for yourself to help you stack on track.

Write a Rough Draft

After I lock down dates, I head over to WordPress where I create rough drafts for each of the planned posts. I like to give myself 30 minutes to an hour writing down whatever comes to mind (don’t worry too much about perfecting it at this point). The pre-scheduling feature on this also comes in very handy during times I won’t have access to my laptop later on.

Create a Visual Mood Board

The next step is brainstorming ideas for the accompanying photo. I generally like to scour Pinterest for inspiration then create a visual mood board before I begin prop styling, shooting, and post production. This is the area where I probably spend the most time and can range from 2-3 hours a day. Read this post to learn what photo editing apps I use!

Finalize and Announce

Once I’ve finished editing the featured photo, I finalize the post and publish it via WordPress. I also like to announce it via Instagram the same day. You could also now plan and schedule your posts ahead of time here!

I hope you found this helpful! Let me know if you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share in the comments below.

xo, Donna Belle

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#WCW CAREER

INSPIRING BOOKS

I rounded up a handful of books that have helped me with my entrepreneurship journey and that will hopefully encourage you to work even harder towards your passions. Although many of these books are memoirs, their stories about success in business and personal development is inspiring, motivating, and relatable. Also, who doesn’t love a little humor thrown in?

Why Not? by Mindy Kaling

I remember reading an excerpt from her book prior to it’s release on Glamour where she described her personal journey to finding confidence and how the value of hard work ties into it. A quote that instantly stuck to me and persuaded me to purchase this book was “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.” The entire book from start to finish is equal parts humor, advice, and inspiration as she walks us through her personal experiences in college, dating, showbiz, and life in general.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

After spending a few late nights reading this book, I truly felt like I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine. She shares endless amounts of wisdom in her own witty way like “Treat your career like a bad boyfriend” and “Good for her, not for me.” It’s an intimate look into her childhood, divorce, friendships, career, and motherhood but you takeaway so many life lessons from her experiences.

Girl boss by Sophia Amoruso

It’s no surprise why #Girlboss has made it’s way onto this list (and pretty much every other list for female entrepreneurs out there). I’ve always been a fan of Nasty Gal but I didn’t really know much about the woman behind the brand. Her long journey from selling vintage clothes on eBay to building a multi-million clothing business is nothing short of inspiring. p.s. A new Netflix series inspired by Amoruso’s book is currently in the works!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This isn’t exactly a business book but Kondo’s advice about getting rid of the things that leave you joyless and focusing on the areas that are truly important can apply to all facets of our lives. As a work-from-home entrepreneur and blogger, I found her tips for home organization to be incredibly helpful in creating a healthy work-life balance. By bringing these practices into my career, I found it much easier to make decisions in terms of what projects I should be focusing on.

What book are you currently reading?

xo, Donna Belle

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CAREER

I QUIT

Three weeks ago, I made the bold decision to resign from my full-time Senior Graphic Designer role at a tech gaming company in San Francisco. The thing was (and I think a majority of creatives working in a corporate environment can relate to me on this), after churning out designs every single day, my passion slowly began to feel like a chore and I was losing the excitement that I’ve always had for it. Due to the monotony of it all, I didn’t feel challenged, inspired, and most importantly, was unhappy. I was tired of feeling this way and knew that I needed to make a change.

To be completely honest with myself, I wasn’t 100% passionate about the things that I was creating. Outside of work, I yearned for an outlet where I could fully express myself and have creative liberty over the type of content I was putting out. This eventually led to the creation of my blog a few months ago and since then, I’ve realized how much I enjoyed working in the lifestyle field and developed a better sense of what I wanted to pursue long term. I devoted long nights after work and invested much of my free-time on weekends to creating content for my blog and social media platforms. For the first time in a long time, I was excited about what I was creating but because of the fear of disappointment and being deemed unsuccessful for not taking the conventional route (side note: stop comparing yourself to others), I refrained from acting on this passion and continued to hold onto this security blanket.

Now you’re probably thinking “there goes another millennial quitting her job to travel and chase their dreams” and you’re right. Call me crazy or unrealistic but at the end of the day, life is too short to invest your time on people and things that ultimately don’t make you happy. I’m aware that this is risky (especially with no specific “job” lined up), that this may not exactly pan out they way I hope it will, and that it will be tough finding a stable source of income to pay for basic means of living (such as food, rent, transportation, and student loans). Obviously the thought of having no idea of what lies ahead scares the shit out of me but I truly believe that with enough patience, hard work, and passion, I’ll eventually get to where I need to be. The future in general is uncertain and your career is never set in stone so if you’re ever feeling stuck like me, keep that in mind.

It’s also important to point out that although i’ll be focusing on what I love to do for the time being, this doesn’t mean it will be all fun and games from here on out. I know that in order for things to happen, I need to work even harder and devote more of my time towards my passions. That being said, get ready for more consistent and exciting content coming from me very soon! I’m excited to embark on this new journey and can’t wait to share my experiences with you along the way.

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