03 June 2010

THE BLISSFUL's Last Lettre

Dear Readers --

This is likely to be the last Lettre here on this blog. The reason for that is...the party has moved!

Please join me at my

brand new site for niche-y entrepreneurs

And thank you, so much, for following along with Lettres from THE BLISSFUL over the past four years. Wow. I'm grateful for your friendship and your readership.

Indie retailers, aspiring retailers, biz-minded artists and designers, and creatively entrepreneurial folks of any ilk, my new site is especially for you.




01 June 2010

AbbyKerrInk.com Launching This Thursday

I've always loved Thursdays. Forever, I think it's been my favorite day of the week.

So it's a nice coincidence that I'll be launching my new site, AbbyKerrInk.com, this Thursday, June 3rd.


AbbyKerrInk.com will launch this Thursday, June 3rd!

What the site holds for you:
  • How to design an entrepreneurial niche that aligns with your natural interests, talents and gifts, and the lifestyle you want to create
  • How to nichify your offerings so that your right people can't help but be attracted to you and your biz
  • How to find your right people -- customers and clients, partners and peers
  • How to connect with your right people online, in print, and in person
  • How to market your niche-y enterprise in a way that doesn't feel forced and huckster-ish
Plus advice and support for:
  • Creative entrepreneurs and those who want a self-made career that looks and feels like them
  • Indie retailers, both brick and mortar and online
  • Crafters, artists, and designers who want to sell their work to boutiques
  • Those who value the creative lifestyle
Plus help with:
  • Copywriting for your niche-y enterprise, including SEO {search engine optimized} web copy that'll help your right people find your site
  • Naturally niche-y marketing - vision and strategies
  • Persistently romantic PR - how to's and how to get over yourself
  • Indie retail start-ups and reinventions
If you've been reading this blog for a while, I thank you for following along with my entrepreneurial journey from high school English teacher to French-y lifestyle store owner to freelance writer/niche-y biz coach/blogger.

Now I look forward to following along with yours!

See you in a few days at my new site!


24 May 2010

Updates! I've Got Updates!

Photo courtesy of L. Marie, Flickr Creative Commons.

Here's what's going on around Abby Kerr Ink studios:
You know I have three?

Studios, that is.

One is my basement studio. One is my dining room table studio. The other is my bed studio.

All three are great for different reasons.

The first has a secret candy drawer, the comfiest office chair {Sam's Club, baby}, and near total privacy, except for two cats that wander through sometimes.

The second has great lighting, big, airy windows with floaty drapes, and a terrific table-under-chandelier set-up.

The third is the softest and the most filled with birdsong. If I lie back on my bed, I have the sensation of being in a bowery, as both windows are fringed by leafy trees. Sometimes birds even come and perch on my sills. Okay, one time two of them did. And it was pretty cool.

Here's a recap of what I've been doing since closing THE BLISSFUL back in February:

  • Deprogramming from Totally On-All-The-Time Abby. {Any experience as intense as being frontwoman of a customer service-oriented business at least six days a week for four years has got to find her way back to herself once it ends. I promise you. And the trip? It's been delightful.}
  • Nourishing my body and spirit in new ways. Flirting with vegetarianism and organics. Thinking of ditching diet soda. Getting more interested in yoga and long, meditative walks and what they can do for me. Not actually doing more yoga or taking more long, meditative walks, but my heart's in the right place.
  • Writing like nuts. Writing for a handful of cool clients and lots for myself and for my new site, which will launch soon over at AbbyKerrInk.com. Also consulting/coaching.
  • Luxuriating in Pandora radio. Last three songs that have played since I've been writing this post: "God Made the Automobile" by Iron & Wine, "He Said, She Said" by Joe Purdy, "Rain King {Live}" by Counting Crows. Sooth-y sunny day quietude.
  • Putting myself through a self-designed grad school program-by-blog. {You can do this, too. Just find a blog that really resonates with you, one who shares lots of good links, and start following. You'll be amazed what you find.} Digging in deep. Slurping content as if through a spork. Discovering new mentors and making friends. Learning to dig Twitter. Really loving Facebook. Sharing as much good stuff as I can with people who are interested in the same stuff I am. And heavens! You are out there.
  • Freeing myself.
  • Reframing my relationship with money. That's been a big one.
  • Getting clear about what I'm good at. Not what I can do well, or can do with the appearance of success. What I'm good at. What I'm good at that I want to do.
  • Thinking a lot about my right people. Who you are, what you want. What I can do for you. What we can do together.
My new site is not going to be for everyone. For instance, there'll be probably no talk of design or decorating or gift-buying or home furnishings. That's the biz I came out of, but that's not where I am right now. So those of you who enjoyed this blog for the inspirational photos of French-y wonders, I have to let you know that my new site is not geared toward what THE BLISSFUL was about. It'll have its own inspirational wonders, but of a different sort.

If you're a creative person who feels passionately driven to figure out how you can do the thing you want to do, your way, sometime in your life and hopefully as soon as possible, then you're probably going to dig what I'm cooking up.

I'll be blogging about indie entrepreneurship, the creative life, connecting with your right people, naturally niche-y marketing, and lots more. Lots and lots of free content to help you out. And a 10 part e-course {also free} on Creating a Truly Irresistible Niche. One of my favorite topics under the sun, so I designed a course about it to share how fun and powerful nichifying can be. All coming soon.

So, here's an announcement: the site will be launching very, very soon. So soon I'm scared to say when. So I'm doing this much more casually than I usually do when I launch something.

I hope you'll be there. Keep watching this blog.

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from you. If you feel like you might be my right person--and that'd mean I'd be yours! {goody!}--what exactly are you hoping to see, learn, or be inspired by over at the new site?


12 May 2010

Because of Danielle LaPorte, I Don't Have Time To Write This Post

Memo to my local readers:

You don't have to be mad at Danielle LaPorte. She's not the reason I closed THE BLISSFUL.

But she did help me create a blueprint for my new business, Abby Kerr Ink.

And she is the reason I don't have a ton of time today to do justice to explaining just how amazing and life-redefining her new Fire Starter Sessions Digital Experience for Entrepreneurs is. I did that over here in my first post about Danielle's new work, Why Every Little Entrepreneur Deserves a Big Fire Starter. Today is the work's worldwide release and what a great day for you to get your own copy.

Quick Testimonial About What A Fire Starter with Danielle Did For Me {& What It Can Do For You}

I've always seen myself as a writer. Know that I am one. Don't need approval or awards or, heck, even publication to prove to myself that I am one.

Despite anything else I've ever done {including running a pretty cool boutique}, writing has still been, for me, The Thing. Transcending all other things I could do.

But I didn't know how to take my natural-born gift, my driving passion, my positive addiction to writing {and sharing and teaching} and turn that into something that would pay the bills. {Clearly, I missed the day in college Creative Writing class when they talked about How Writers Can Earn a Living Working From Home}.

And then I had a personal Fire Starter Session with Danielle LaPorte. This was back in late October of last year. I already knew I wanted to close my shop--the how was the question. And the what next was a concern.

Danielle didn't answer those questions for me. But she helped me explore them in the context of what I really wanted to do. What I believed I was born to do. What felt good to do, and what I couldn't stop doing. What I'd do anyway, in between, around, underneath, over above, and instead of whatever other avocation was taking its place.

End of Testimonial. Let's Talk About You and Your Thing.

If you're ready for your own revelation, the Fire Starter Sessions Digital Experience for Entrepreneurs will be the best $150 you may ever spend.

Don't let the three-digit price tag put you off. You're going to spend a discretionary $150 somewhere anyway over the next couple months {couple weeks? couple days?}. Why not invest it in finding out what you really want to do with your one, incredible life?

Thanks to Danielle, I'm Too Busy Today to Write a Lengthy Post

Today, I'm in the thralls of writing web copy for a client. Beautiful, sparkling, evocative and crystal clear web copy that will connect with my clients' right people and help search engines find their site. I get to do this, full-time, because I figured out that I could close my boutique to do the something else that I knew I was being called to do. Called, as in, on a DNA-level. And this "figuring out" is due in large part to Danielle.

Do you know what you're called to do on a DNA-level? {The Fire Starter Sessions Digital Experience helps you with that.}

And I'm also working on content for AbbyKerrInk.com, my new site that's set to launch very, very soon. It's almost paining me to type that because I want to launch right now! But there's still more goodness to be created before I want to reveal it. I get to launch a new site for a new business because Danielle helped me figure out--in a very short, compressed, powerful, almost poetic space of time--exactly how to shape my skills, talents, and desires into a new business that could be entirely online, if I wanted it to be. So that I could work from home.

What would you like to be doing today that seems sort of impossibly confounding as to how you A} could really do it, and do it your way, and B} could make a good living at it? {The Fire Starter Sessions Digital Experience can help you get really, really clear about what that Thing could look like. And then how to materialize it.}

So today's a busy one. I'm working from home, listening to my perfect Pandora station {Feist, CocoRosie, Tungg} as I write, and burning an intoxicating candle on the table here with me. I'm drinking coffee out of my favorite mug. It's wisp blue and says Chez Germain on it.

And this is exactly what three months ago, I wished I could be doing on a rainy Wednesday morning like this one. And here I am.

Where will you be with your entrepreneurial dream in three months' time? Ready to find out?

Enough From Me. Let's Hear From Danielle Herself.

{This is the provocative promo copy she let me use.}

"How's your cashflow and your mojo?
Does your vision match your reality?
Does your brand match your soul?

THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS is: an e-book meets video transmission of acumen and love. You: are likely sitting on an empire of content, product, services, and prosperity that needs a spark -- or blow torch -- to take you to the next level. You: want to rock your revenue streams and do meaningful things in the world.

Worksheets that help you draw conclusions, quick videos with motivational punch, connections to current thinkers, practical smarts, and frank wisdom -- THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS is packed with inspiration that you will put to use.

Danielle has worked with 462+ entrepreneurs in her 1-on-1 Fire Starter consults (which are $500 and booked six weeks in advance.) For CEOs, coaches, artists, retailers, bestselling authors -- from site design to big dreams -- Danielle’s strategies combine passion with pragmatism to get to fulfillment and cash.

Each chapter is it’s own “Fire Starter Session” that includes: e-book components, video inspiration or interviews, and worksheets.

Some of the sessions are: True Strengths & The Metrics of Ease; Branding: Clarifying the Diamond of You; Products & Services: Making Stuff That Feels Good to Make; Money: More is More, Enough is Plenty; Web Design & SEO: Your Virtual Real-Estate…and dozens of tips and motivating perspectives.

In addition to getting Danielle’s deep and detailed knowledge, THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS brings you contributions from some A-league marketing strategists, pro-bloggers, branding experts, and creativity coaches.

Whether you’re in the early idea phase or a well-established rut, Danielle’s thorough, witty, and experience-based advice will most certainly light a fire under your…aspirations."

Buy It and See.

Here's my affiliate link. {The one with Danielle's face on it, above, is one, too. So is the one in the sidebar of this blog. So click any of 'em. They all work.}

And after you've purchased and devoured the experience, let me know what you think.

Better yet, let me know what you do. And what you stop doing. It's all in there. You know it's your time, right?


02 May 2010

Facebook Page for Abby Kerr Ink

Have you joined us yet on the new Facebook page for Abby Kerr Ink? If not, come on over!

All you have to do is click on the screen shot above or on the link in the paragraph above it, then click the Like button at the top of the page. {If you don't see the Like button, you've done this before and you're already part of the conversation!} Updates will begin appearing on your Wall.

We're talking about niche-y entpreneurship, the creative lifestyle, finding your right people, marketing for indie businesses, and more. This is where I share great resources that have inspired, fed, and supported my own entrepreneurial journey. Hopefully you'll find something there worth incorporating into the way you dream and do!

Looking to forward to connecting with you on Facebook!


29 April 2010

Abby Kerr Ink Sneak Peek

This is my new logo for Abby Kerr Ink!

Not too much longer now 'til the site launches, so I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the style, vibe, and color palette.

I also want to give you a feel for what I'll be talking about over on
AbbyKerrInk.com. Below is a little preview of the site content. {I borrowed this from my About Me page-to-be.}

  • learning how to create and market a niche enterprise
  • learning how to tell a compelling story about my small business--online, in print, and in person--in a way that drew my right people toward me
  • learning the ins and outs of social media to woo and activate a tribe
  • learning how to run a small business and maintain my sanity {that was a tough one}
  • learning where it was important to spend money as a small enterprise, and where it wasn't
  • learning how to make business decisions that put me further along the path to my desire lifestyle
  • learning how to rescue myself early from patterns of work that are non-productive and get back to my natural, most productive flow

If you're working on any {or all} of the above, you might dig this site!

Thanks for giving me the chance to share this with you. I'm really looking forward to connecting with you online and in other realms!

By the way, if what I shared above interests you, consider "liking" my new Abby Kerr Ink page on Facebook. The conversation continues over there!


22 April 2010

What If 'Entrepreneurship' Feels Too Big For Me?

I called a friend today and we were talking about why she should definitely start a blog {or create content on an ongoing basis for the web, or what's sometimes called a content-driven website}--or, more actually--why I think she should definitely start a blog {because she's one of the most interesting people I know, because she always has a smart and cool take on things, because she's interested in so many things that people like to hear and think and talk about, because she's a really good teacher, because I want one more way to interact with her as my friend} and she said something to me along these lines:

"I read your post on 10 Signs You Might Be Cut Out For Entrepreneurship. And for some of them, I was like, yeah, that's me. But for some of them, I was like, oh, I don't really think that's me."

I know her pretty well, and the thing is, she is so an entrepreneur. Right now, though, her view of what entrepreneurship is is maybe a bit too broad.

So that got me to thinking about entrepreneurship versus plain being a smart, creative, insightful, talented, savvy, and delightful person. And where the two might meet.

And that got me to thinking about all of the people reading out there who might be saying, "I'm a creative person and I like to do my own thing. But 'entrepreneurship' feels too big for me."

And to that I say, let's discuss...

[by the way, if my friend ever starts a blog, I'll let you know]

Entrepreneurship is a grandiose-sounding idea, but the daily practice of it can be as small and manageable as you make it. {Niche-y, if you will.}

After all, YOU are the creator--the sole creator--of your entrepreneurial life.

I have a friend who's a talented jewelry designer. And she likes the idea of trying to sell her handmade wares in a few boutiques. But she's not sure she likes the idea of scaling the business bigger, or really, of her designs taking off and her business scaling her creative production life out of control. She really wants to just make "one of a kinds and few of a kinds" {I love this phrase!} and sell them outright, one shot only, to whomever wants them with no promise that the design can or will be duplicated.

I say, why not?

One of the lovely things about entrepreneurship is that you, the biz creator, get to write your own rules and decide how you do things. How big your biz gets, or doesn't get. How and where you market yourself, and how and where you don't. Who your right people, your target or ideal customers, are. You get to decide.

It helps, of course, if you know what your right people are wanting.

If you're producing but no one is buying {like,
ever}, then maybe you are an artist or a creator, but not an entrepreneur.

So you need to find a way to get close enough to your right people to discern what they're really wanting. How do they want to be reached out to? {And how do they HATE being reached out to?} Where do they hang out online and offline? Who do they admire and consider trustworthy? What's their dream for themselves?

Don't know? Start sleuthing.

Follow them on Twitter. {Hey, are you following me on Twitter @abbykerr?} Friend them on Facebook. Read their blogs and comment on them. Visit the people who comment on their blogs. Watch the TV shows and films they talk about and take a listen to the music they like. Read the books they recommend. Spend some time in their world.

And if your niche is pretty close to your heart, there's a decent chance that their world is your world, too. So this isn't so hard.

Entrepreneurship is about creating something/providing a solution in a way that hasn't been done before. And unless you're a non-profit {three cheers for you!}, it's about making a living, too. Or at least some latte money.

So this entrepreneurship thing? Not so big as you might've been thinking.

I really want to hear what you think about this. I hope I gave you enough to chew on. Let me know where and how I can give you more. :)


21 April 2010

10 Signs You Might Be Cut Out for Entrepreneurship

I was walking at the park with a new friend last week and we got to talking about our careers and the paths that had gotten us to where we are today, professionally.

And I realized this: there's something in some of us that makes entrepreneurship--creating our own work in the world, being self employed--the most desirable option. For some of us, the only tolerable option.

Photo by Coolm36.

For others of us, the art of being self employed is not even ever a consideration. It's either not on our radar or just not on our list of socially or personally acceptable, viable options. The thought of designing a work life out of one's own talents and prospective clients' perceived needs...well, that just doesn't cross some people's minds.

So I asked myself: what ARE the characteristics of those of us who are likely to choose entrepreneurship?

Here are 10 signs you might be cut out for entrepreneurship:

1. You're an idea person. And not just a dreamy, impractical idea person, but someone who instinctively knows how to give an idea legs. You don't just sit around and say, wouldn't that be cool? You actually get out of your chair and make a plan to see if it's cool.

2. You're an incurable optimist. You believe that things generally work out for the best--even when things work themselves out in a way that others would perceive as a fail. You believe that every deep experience lends itself to learning.

3. You like change. You might even crave it. You'd rather shake things up than wallow or stagnate.

4. You're willing to sacrifice more than the average person would to take a chance on a dream working out. This means you see short and even medium-term sacrifices such as preferred housing, discretionary income, stability in some relationships, and a nice budget for clothing and groceries as all part of the bigger picture. You are willing to forgo some comfort and joy today to get to what you might be able to attain later.

5. You're a self-starter. And a good self-manager. You don't need someone looking over your shoulder--or dangling a paycheck--to get a job done. You don't even really need praise or encouragement. Your satisfaction comes primarily from the process of creation.

6. You bounce back easily. Your setbacks are very short-term and you somehow always find a way to rise again. Or, things always just seem to work out okay for you, even better than okay. Others might say you seem to have good luck, or good karma.

7. You don't dwell on things and people that are out of your control. {Or you get really mad or frustrated and then use it to fuel your next move or decision in a healthy, productive way.}

8. You speak as though the outcome you want already exists. You don't have delusions of grandeur and you're not a liar or a bull*hitter. But you know how to position yourself in the today to apprehend what hasn't happened yet in the time-space continuum most people can see. Whoh. That sounds a little crazy. But you're okay with that, because that's how you think. You don't have to be all loud about it, but it works for you.

9. You're your own toughest critic--and your own best friend. At different times, you need to be both.

10. You have an uncanny sense of when it's time to shift or make a change. You identify what's not working and are intent on finding a solution. Or you know when to quit, as so aptly described in The Dip, a book by one of my marketing heroes, Seth Godin. This trait can sometimes creep your friends and acquaintances out, as you jump from one Big Thing to another Big Thing without so much as a backward glance. But you always seem to know what you're doing.

Entrepreneurs, what characteristics or personality traits did I leave off the list? Leave a comment and tell me about it!


14 April 2010

Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord

Photo at left: April '08 at my shop, THE BLISSFUL. {If you've been reading this blog for the past couple months, you know that I decided to close the shop in February to pursue my dream of being a working writer who writes from home [and cafes]. It's all happening. And in my new biz, Abby Kerr Ink, I'm working with other small biz owners to help make their niche-y entrepreneurial dreams come true.}

A couple of you commented on wanting a niche-y business over the last couple posts. I loved hearing that! I've been extolling the virtues of nichification--getting really, really clear with yourself and other people about what it is you do well, exactly how you do it, and what you want to be known for--ever since I went even more niche-y with my shop back in 2007. In my new business, I'm taking my love for niche-y enterprise to a whole new level.

Update: My new website is slated to launch at the end of this month! It may not be ready until very early May, but I'm aiming for sooner. I can hardly wait! You know I'll announce it here when the day comes.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few thoughts about why going niche-y with your business is one of the best things you can do.

Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord With Entrepreneurs
  • Niche-y lets you hone in on what really interests you and what really matters to your right people {target or ideal customers}
  • Niche-y allows you to focus on doing just a few things--maybe even just one thing--really, really well.
  • Niche-y creates rockstars. It's easier to stand out when you're the only one doing exactly what you claim to be doing {and of course, when you're doing it well--which of course, you would be!}
  • Niche-y makes for great soundbites. It's quicker and snappier to talk about the "most citified country store in Kansas" than it is to talk about "the Kansas shop with a mix of country, contemporary, traditional, transitional, European, urban loft style, and vintage goods, gifts, and home and garden accents."
  • Niche-y is the stuff of legends. Innovators make history.
Why Niche-y Strikes a Chord With Customers and Clients...including the ones you don't have yet
  • Niche-y stands out. Your niche is what makes you different from everyone else out there on a similar mission. It's your own unique resonance, like a chord that no one else can play.
  • Niche-y makes good brain food. Brains like niche-y, because a niche creates a pattern that the brain hasn't seen before. A sales rep once told me she had to open up a new compartment of her brain to contain my store. Whoa! That's because our merchandise mix, the atmosphere we created, and the way we displayed showed her things she hadn't seen before in retail {or at least not quite in the way we did it}. These patterns, then, become easy for the brain to hold on to and at the same time, they create wonderment and a bit of pleasurable confusion. Such cohesiveness of vision! Yet such extraordinariness! What a rarity! An anomaly that makes perfect sense!
  • Niche-y makes an impact. People will talk about it. And when people are talking, other people are listening. And when people are listening, more people start checking you out. And when more people check you out, more people start buying in. And that's a good thing.
  • Niche-y is personal. Personal for you--the business creator and niche-honer, but also personal for your customers when they are your right people. Because they'll quickly feel like what you do in the world in a way belongs to them. And that's powerful stuff.
  • Niche-y is memorable. Unforgettable businesses {the ones who are unforgettable in a good way} know who they are. And so do their customers. And that's when the magic happens.

  • Niche-y is addictive. People want more of extraordinary experiences.
You gotta love a good niche. I know I do. If you get what I'm talking about, please leave a comment letting me know. What makes nichification so powerful or appealing, from your point of view? {Dissenting points of view are welcome, too!}


12 April 2010

Why Every Little Entrepreneur Deserves a Big Fire Starter

Danielle LaPorte, who plays with matches. {And feathers.}

Why do I think every little entrepreneur deserves a big Fire Starter?

1. Because in your {temporary} littleness, you are dreaming big, and this alone is worthy of admiration.

2. Because the world--and everyday life--makes it hard to dream big.
And this world still needs big dreamers. Probably now more than ever. Some people will actually do it--dream big, that is. Why shouldn't it be you?

3. Because there are lots of voices around you
telling you that dreaming as big as you tend to is impractical, too risky, or just pie-in-the-sky.

4. Because you know you have a dream, but you're just not sure what it is. You can see the edges of it, the fringes, outlining everything else you seem to be doing that's deferring your dream. And right now? You're ready to get a lot more clear about what that dream looks like.

For all of these reasons {and more}, I've become an affiliate for Danielle LaPorte's Fire Starter Sessions, a digital experience for entrepreneurs. What is a "digital experience"? It's a digital book with video and audio embedded, and a workbook. A complete multimedia, multisensory experience to engage you in the process of refining by fire the stuff of your entrepreneurial dreams.

You've got to know Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is a writer, a mama, an intuitive strategist for entrepreneurs or those on the verge of breaking out into entrepreneurial activity. She used to run a think tank in Washington, D.C. She's the co-author of Style Statement, the inimitable guide to clarifying who you are and want to be in the world. {I used to sell it at my store.} She's one to watch.

This is the stuff of transformation, of freedom, and of creative fulfillment. And I believe that you, Mr. or Ms. Little Entrepreneur, deserve it. A big Fire Starter Session digital experience, that is.

Are you ready? Click here to learn more about it in Danielle's own words and/or purchase.

Want me to say some more about it? Okay. {If you didn't click above, you'll have the chance to click again further down the page. No worries. We're making this easy.}

So about Danielle and her Fire Starter Sessions: I believe in this work so deeply that I jumped at the chance to be an affiliate for it.

I've never been an affiliate for anything before. To be an affiliate means to believe in someone's product so much that you're willing to be a disciple for it. Being a disciple means that if you click on any of my Danielle LaPorte links on this page and purchase the digital book, I'll get a bit of cashola from the sale. {Affiliate love is a good thing.}

Last Fall, I was lucky enough to be given a one-on-one Fire Starter Session over the phone with Danielle as a gift from some pretty awesome friends. And it. was. life changing. Vision clarifying. Strength and appeal defining. Possibility boosting. Revelation revealing.

And something more than that: it was a confirmation. A confirmation that yes, all of those forgotten threads of things I love to do and have always done {without getting paid} and all the peculiar, particular, lovely-making ways in which I look at my work in the world and all of the questions that people ask me that I'm more than qualified and inspired and enthusiastic to answer...they're all leading somewhere.

So are yours. Your forgotten threads, your particular lovely ways, your burning questions {the ones people ask you and the ones you ask yourself}...they're all leading somewhere. Pointing you toward something you want to do. What is it?

Danielle can help you pull it all together and make some entrepreneurial alchemy. And it's not pie-in-the-sky stuff. It's not wishy-washy woo-woo. It's the real deal. I wouldn't recommend something to my tribe that isn't.

If you haven't already made a connection with Danielle's work and your own entrepreneurial life, then please allow me to make it for you.

You + Danielle LaPorte + the Fire Starter Sessions digital experience for entrepreneurs = what you'll BE be after you stop thinking of yourself as a "little entrepreneur."

I promise it's that good.

So do your sweet entrepreneurial self a favor and click here:

And thanks for reading. Thanks for taking my opinion and my experience into consideration. I think you'll like doing this for yourself.


09 April 2010

Indie Retailers : How Can I Help?

Here's the deal. I left indie retail.

I left for a variety of reasons and someday I will probably tell the whole story, but the most important two reasons that I want to share today are 1} I believed {still do!} it was part of the Big Plan for me to exit right at that very moment {not everyone believes in the Big Plan, but I do}, and 2} I believed that I could live a better life, a life truer to my core values, a life closer to my ideal, and be more helpful to other passionate entrepreneurs like myself {including indie retailers} outside of retail than inside. So I closed my store. And it felt good. And every day it feels better as I move deeper into the dream that's unfolding around me.

But indie retailers, this post isn't about me. It's about you. You and the important work you do in your unique stores every day. The work you do for your community, putting yourselves and your livelihoods out there on the line every day, willing your vision to be received and embraced by your right people, your ideal customers. The work you do behind the scenes that nobody sees and almost nobody {or very few} gets or appreciates. Retailing is far from fantasy, right? But you're good at making it look that way. And this, in itself, is what's tough about retail. Life behind the curtain. I get that. {Please tell me where I'm wrong.}

So back to my new thing, Abby Kerr Ink, for just a minute. {Then back to you.}

In a few weeks, I'll be launching my new website and packing it full of juicy, free, helpful content that will support and inspire passionate entrepreneurs like you. Like me. I'm making the kind of site I would want to linger on for hours. And I hope you'll want to do just that once you get to visit! And while I'm making this website and all the content that will go into it to fulfill what I want it to be, I'm really making this website and all my content for you. And not just you indie retailers out there reading, but small business entrepreneurs who love and believe in their niche and want to learn more about working it better {their niche, that is}. Cause my approach is pretty niche-y. I believe in specialization. And I really, really dig stuff that's nichified really, really well.

So lately, when I'm not blogging here or talking with clients or working on projects or on Facebook or Twitter, I'm writing my way into my niche on the web, anticipating the day when I'll launch at AbbyKerrInk.com for all to see. And in the last couple of posts, I've been doing some soft market research to figure out what you'd like to read about. What burning questions do you have? What type of content would nurture you right where you're at? How can I help?

{Enough about me.}

Indie retailers, back to you. If you've been following me lately, you've seen that I recently did a post asking aspiring indie retailers what their burning questions are about getting into the biz. And then I asked artists and designers who want to sell to boutiques to weigh in on their who's, what's, when's, where's, why's, and how's of doing just that.

Today, it's your turn. If you're an indie retailer--brick and mortar OR online--I'd love to hear your answer to this question:

  • What's missing for you from the existing conversation on the web about indie retail/among indie retailers? What do you need? What do you want? What has never been done or written for you that would be so, so ideal?
You can speak your mind in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post {please tell me if you don't wish for me to publish it}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.


06 April 2010

Questions About Selling Handmade Goods To Boutiques? Weigh In!

Okay, not literally weigh in. I'm not going to whip out The Biggest Loser scale on you indie artists and designers or anything. If I did, I'd have to let you weigh me, too, and uh, that's not happening.

What I am doing, though, is developing future content for my new website, soon to be launched at AbbyKerrInk.com. And I'm doing a little market research. Which is going to blossom into rich, useful content that will help a lot of people who have some of the same goals and dreams I had when I got into the boutique life, and that my vendor friends did when they got into it.

Because as you probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, until very recently I was Creator and Proprietor of a popular lifestyle boutique called THE BLISSFUL. {Though its official website is no longer live, you can click back through past archives on this blog if you want to get a feel for what type of shop it was--but the quickest and most vivid way to describe it is French-y, comfortable, youthful, and sometimes quirky.} Nearly always, our merchandise mix was comprised in part by handmade {or nearly handmade} work from indie vendors--as in, artists and designers whose companies were small, upstart, and not corporately funded or backed by venture capitalists.

Our relationships with these small and inspiring vendors was very important to us.

And I can tell you that in the indie retail world in general, there is a strong movement toward handmade goods, shopping and buying locally, and avoiding mass-made product that can be found at every big box store in town. Most small boutique owners want to support other small boutique industries. {Good thing we have each other.} Part of my new website is going to be designed especially for the boutique industry and I'm doing a little market research to see where the heart of people's interests lie.

So today's question is for the artists and designers out there, those of you who want to sell your goods to boutiques. Sell wholesale, that is. Or put them there on consignment.

  • What are your biggest who's, what's, when's, where's, why's, and how's related to selling your goods to boutiques?
Just one or two are fine. Or if you want to send me your top concerns for each, that'd dazzle me, too! Feel free to:

1. Leave your thoughts here in the comments {let me know if they're for my eyes only and you don't wish me to publish--but isn't it more fun to start a dialogue?}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr

There's no wrong way to do it and no question is too small or simple. Remember--none of us knew everything {and some of us knew nothing} when we were first starting out. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Oh, and if you're an aspiring shop owner, here is a post with a question aimed especially at you.

Established indie retailers, I'm polling you next! {Scribe's Note: Actually, the post is now live! Click the link in this paragraph to go there.}


05 April 2010

Easter Tidings {& Dream Resurrection}

Hope you all had a great Easter yesterday. Wanted to share some moments from my family's celebration. And then talk a bit about dream resurrection.

My mom tried out Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcake recipe {from scratch}. Oh so good. Dense, almond and vanilla flavored cake topped with sweet cream cheese frosting and a flurry of coconut. Heavenly.

This is my three year old niece, Lexi:

Yesterday was her first Easter egg hunt and the weather complied. So cool to watch a little kid discovering something fun for the very first time.

This is one of my favorite shots:

She got it!

Easter, for me, is always a time of year for personal reflection, renewal, and yep, resurrection. More than at any other time of year, now is the time I feel like changing things that aren't working, reenergizing what needs it, and recognizing miracles. {I do believe in them.}

The past few months have been a time of terrific reinvention and resurrection for me: from boutique owner to freelance writer, from one-who-pines-for-a-dream to one-who-moves-into-the-dream-as-if-it-already-were.

I know you can do it, too--go from pining and longing to moving into your dream, whatever it may be. There's always a way to begin.

Thanks to you aspiring indie retailers who have e-mailed me your burning questions about getting into the biz. If you haven't yet weighed in, please re-visit the previous post and let me know what concerns, confuses, or enchants you the most about starting and running an indie retail boutique.

If your shop {brick and mortar or online} is already open for business, I want to talk to you, too! There's a new post coming soon with a question designed specifically for you. {Scribe's Note on 4.9.10: The post is up! Click the link in this paragraph to go there.}

But...artists/creators of indie and handmade goods, you're next! Stay tuned. {Scribe's Note on 4.8.10: In fact, the post is now up! Click the link in this paragraph to go to it right now.}

And happy dream resurrecting.


01 April 2010

Aspiring Indie Retailer? Please Opine!

Dreaming of a life selling lovely things?

Are you an aspiring indie retailer? Dream of having your own shop someday? Quietly researching and planning while you ride out the economy, finish your education, build up enough money in savings, wait for your kids to get into school, hit on the one concept that just feels right?

I'm working on future content for my new website--to be announced as soon as it's live!--and I'd love to hear your take on this question:

  • What one or two topics related to the start-up/running of an indie retail shop are you burning to learn more about before you jump in?
Please note that burning could mean most curious about, most befuddled by, most confused about, most obsessed with, or most attracted to.

Your input will be greatly valued and taken into consideration as I shape the content for my new site, which is geared toward creatively entrepreneurial types, with maybe a sliiiiiight penchant for indie retail types and others connected to the boutique industry.

Imagining your own boutique's name on this sign? You're exactly the person I want to hear from.

You can contribute your opinion in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment on this post {please tell me if you don't wish for me to publish it}.
2. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com.
3. Tweet me @abbykerr.

Thanks and I look forward to meeting up with some of you in blogland!

P.S. Established retailers and artists who want to sell wholesale to boutiques, hang on! I have questions coming for you, too. {Scribe's Note on 4.9.10: Both posts are now live! Click on the links in this paragraph to go directly to them right now.}


29 March 2010

10 Things I'm Loving About My Post-Shopkeeping Life

By Way of Explanation to Those Who Loved My Shop:

I LOVED my shop, too. I love the relationships it brought into my life--among them, several amazing new friends, thousands of really great customers, a handful of powerful career-influencers, and {not the least of these} my boyfriend of over three years. I love the interesting opportunities it has opened up to me. I also love that the person I became through shopkeeping knew when it was the appointed time to let my shop life go, and could go ahead and do that without fear. And I love that my shop paved the way into my new adventure with Abby Kerr Ink, as a freelancer who connects other niche-y enterprises with the people who'll love them most.

Now, that said, maybe a better title for this post is 10 Things I'm Loving About My New Life As a Freelancer Working From Home:

No. 10 Utter flexibility in planning my day

No. 9 80-minute exercise breaks {and having the time to take them}

No. 8 Going back to grad school: that is, the self-made, Abby Kerr Ink School of Deeply Satisfying Intellectual and Creative Adventures. I'm studying effective ways to help other niche-y enterprises rock their one thing the way I love rocking mine, through copywriting, brand ideation, and DIY marketing and PR.

No. 7 Re-discovering Twitter as one tweeting for herself, rather than for her brick-and-mortar

No. 6 Discovering and falling in heavy like with new career inspiration mentors, including Danielle LaPorte, Naomi Dunford, and Sarah Bray.

No. 5 Feeling more anonymous as I move about town, yet more connected because I'm more connected to myself and what really matters to me most

No. 4 Visiting other stores, like Anthropologie and the Marketplace at Gervasi Vineyard {one of my retail consulting clients!} as a rapt shopper, not one critiquing, analyzing, or deconstructing

No. 3 Podcasts--a new brain food group for me. Contemplating the possibilities therein.

No. 2 Lovingly slaving over the content of my new website, soon to be debuted. This keeps me up at night, tapping out my ideas as text messages to an imaginary someone named Muse, which I then save as drafts 'til morning.

And the No. 1 thing I'm loving about my new life as a freelancer:

No. 1 No matter what the outcome, I get to say the thing I've always wanted to be able to say of myself: "I am a writer working from home."

About that last thing: I just decided not to wait any longer to do the thing I've always wanted to do. Thirty-two years of waiting was time enough.

To all the dreamers and aspiring _________s out there, what is it YOU have always wanted to be able to say of yourself?

When will you start?


04 March 2010

Start Ups Are Good, Starting Up Just Right is Better

Just a couple weeks ago, I announced the birth of my new copywriting agency. {So psyched!} And it's really important to me that I get it right--the whole thing. The vision, the relationships with clients and partners and peers, the services I offer, and oh yes, even the name.

That's why today I'm here to tell you that start ups are good. Anytime anyone takes a chance on a dream, it's a gorgeous, glow-y thing. And starting up just right is even better. After a couple weeks of immersing myself in visions of my new vision, essentially putting myself through grad school again {Abby Kerr's Self-Made Course on Launching a Copywriting/Brand-Refocusing/Creative Entrepreneurial Inspiration Business} I've found what feels better to me. And that happens to be a new name for my work in the world, a name that feels like a better fit than the one I first announced.

So here it goes, the official official name of my new biz...

Abby Kerr Ink

And this one's for keeps.

Abby Kerr Ink
{and my not-to-be-announced-quite-yet tagline--oh, I am so a fan of taglines!} allows the business to grow and evolve with me and my clients and clients-to-be. It allows room for all of my writerly interests: not just copywriting, but blogging, web content creation, fiction, creative non-fiction, {dare I admit it?} poetry, articles, teaching and leading workshops and courses on writing and branding and niche-y entrepreneurship, and just about every other type of thing you do when you put pen to paper {or finger to keyboard}. Abby Kerr Ink feels expansive, personal, and very me--and I just like how it rolls off my tongue.

So that's what's new. If you want to contact me about copywriting {and I hope you will!} you can now reach me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com. {Just replace the DOT and the COM with, well, you know. Trying to get around those spambots who suck the Web for e-mail addresses and then fill your Inbox with all kinds of interesting things.}

By the way, soon enough I'll be writing to you from a brand new fully gorgeous spot on the Web. {I can say that with confidence because Rebecca and Matt at à la mode designs are creating it for me, and you've seen what kind of work they do.} I'll update you here as soon as my new site goes live, so please keep watching. Change is good.


22 February 2010

Announcing My New Agency

Scribe's Note: While the heart and gist of what I'm sharing here is still 110% true, please note that since I posted this back on February 22nd, 2010, I've decided to do business under a different name than the one I announced here. Please see my next, more recent post for an announcement of Abby Kerr Ink. Abby Kerr Ink is for keeps and there shouldn't be any more announcements of a name changing variety.

Announcing the birth of a new business and the beginning of my newest adventure...

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

The Abby Kerr Copywriting Agency

The Abby Kerr Copywriting Agency {that's me!} specializes in web, digital, and print copy for creatively oriented businesses. I love working with entrepreneurs who are passionate about building their brand and communicating with their customers in innovative ways.

What is copywriting? As one mystified stranger recently asked me, "Is that where you put the little c's next to a word?" No. That's copyrighting. Different thing altogether.

COPYWRITING {noun} - def: the art of words or text designed to inform, influence, or sell, such as for websites, advertising, marketing, press releases, etc.

COPYWRITER {noun} - def: one who practices the art of copywriting

My new biz puts my skills, experiences, and instincts as a creator, brand director, and marketer of a successful business in your court. I hear the story your business or product wants to tell and the voice it wants to speak it in, then I shape that story and that voice into energetic, effectively copywritten pieces for web, digital, or print--copy that will resonate with your customers or clients.

What I Do

My clients hire me to get inside their brands, inside their heads, and most importantly, inside their customers' heads, to write effective copy for a wide variety of needs. Effective copy compels their target market to identify with the brand in the right way, want to know more, and ultimately, buy in to it. And the copy must do this subtly. Authentically. And with clarity, in a way that builds trust and confidence. This is what I do. {This is what I loved doing most for THE BLISSFUL. Read back through this blog's archives you'll get a sense of what I mean.}

I bring to my clients' projects a remarkably high degree of professionalism, natural instinct, and a smart, contemporary point of view on branding, marketing, and sales. As an entrepreneur and a business owner, I understand the challenges of doing business, the value of meaningful relationships with clients, and the urgency of resonating in the right way at the right time with the right people {your target market}. The words you put out into the world are an important part of that resonance. Sound like a tall order? I'm here to help.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Who I Can Help

I'm my own girl, a true freelancer. If you have an existing website or a graphic designer you like working with and all you need is great copy, that works for me. If your business, too, is a one-person show and you need help in the writing department, I could be the interpreter of the brand in your brain to the brand that makes it onto the page. I love to brainstorm with entrepreneurs. I'd love to chat with you about how I could help your business put its best foot forward, copywise.

If you're working on a website {or would like a website} or have other design or print needs, I don't do the design and development part, but I do partner with a phenomenal, award-winning art and design studio that offers that side of the coin. Together, we offer our mutual clients a premier and personal level of service and deliver complete web and graphic design solutions to meet their wide-ranging needs. My partners are as detailed and deliciously prompt as I am, so I'm confident you would enjoy working with them, too.

I can write copy for...
  • websites {including SEO copy, which means Search Engine Optimized} and digital formats
  • retailing and products {in-store signage, brand communication pieces}
  • catalogs and online stores {product descriptions, policies}
  • advertising and direct marketing {print ads, sales letters, brochures}
  • company magazines and newsletters {print and digital}
  • brand, marketing, and internal communications
  • blog posts
  • articles and reviews
  • interviews
  • press releases
  • names, taglines, slogans, and descriptions
  • packaging
Get In Touch

Let's have a conversation about your project. E-mail me at abby AT abbykerrink DOT com. {E-mail address was updated on March 4th, 2010, after my announcement that this venture is now called Abby Kerr Ink.} Give me an idea of what you're looking for and what your timeframe is. I'll e-mail you back within a day or so, probably with a few more questions. This is the work I love to do, and if it feels like a great fit for the both of us, I would be so delighted and honored to work with you on your project.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Soon, I'll be launching my new website and a new blog there. Meanwhile, keep checking Lettres for updates! Thanks for reading.

11 February 2010

Valentine to Our Customers

A valentine to our customers...

Thanks for dreaming the dream of THE BLISSFUL with us for four amazing years. We couldn't have asked for a better experience; even our closing sale was swift and sweet! Without you, your loyalty, your passion for the store, your joy in the discovery of our Finds, your connection with the brand...this store wouldn't have been what it was. Because of you, our dreams were able to come to fruition.

We'll always treasure the beautiful relationships we made with so many of you. You shared stories of your families and friendships with us--some light and funny, some warm and true, some sad and bittersweet. We are touched to have been an important part of your life--your gift-giving, your celebrations, your milestones, your memories. Thanks for being one of THE BLISSFUL.

I, Abby Kerr, hope that you will continue to follow me here on Lettres from THE BLISSFUL. I have some exciting new enterprises in the wings that I look forward to sharing with you--a new brand, new endeavors, and new adventures in entrepreneurship. Inside, I'm bubbling over with excitement, but on the exterior, I'm trying to keep my cool about it until all is ready to unveil. So thank you for reading...and Happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. to Retailers and Aspiring Retailers -- Our Cash Wrap Desk {click link to view photo and post with details} is still available! Also for sale: THE BLISSFUL's much sought-after Vendor List--where we've sourced our unique Finds & Furnishings. Contact abby@theblissful.com to inquire.


05 February 2010

Cash Wrap Desk for Sale

Attention retailers, people who do a lot of gift wrapping or crafting, and those looking for a great bar...

THE BLISSFUL's Cash Wrap Desk is for sale. $450 or Best Offer. Can be picked up end of next week. 8' L x 25.5" D x 40" H. Nine deep shelves behind, as well as two drawers and a secret compartment. Built by hand in Ohio. Solid hard wood. Front is painted zinc, top is natural, shelving behind is unfinished. You can paint and beautify to your heart's content.

Take an important piece of THE BLISSFUL home with you, or to your own store!


"Store's Closing Bittersweet. . ."

For any who haven't already seen, here's a recent article in the Massillon Independent about our store closing and my future plans. Thanks to writer Christina Redekopp for doing such a great job in telling our story!


02 February 2010

New Markdowns on Large Items

Mossy Garden Settee, originally $299, NOW $149.50. Used to sit outside the shop. Updated 2.3.10 -- Settee is now SOLD.
Swedish Blue Candelabra, originally $237, NOW $118.50.

Are you a fan of THE BLISSFUL on Facebook? Click to become a Fan today to view our photo album called Last Week of Business, where we've rounded up photos of several large, statement-making pieces that we've just marked down lower than 50% OFF!

E-mail us at sales@theblissful.com for more info or call the shop at 330.492.2500 to purchase. Customers must arrange their own pick-up/delivery/shipping on large and heavy items. Retailers welcome!


01 February 2010

It's Our Very Last Week

Here we are! It's our very last week of business at THE BLISSFUL. Stop in and see us and enjoy shopping the best of what's waiting for you at 50% OFF of regular price! Here's just a preview. . .

Armillary Sphere Chandelier that used to hang in our Kitchen department.
Originally $1040, NOW $520.

Melange of pillows in burlap, flax, amethyst, and black and white. Also Bella Notte fabric swatch rings and individual fabric squares.

Props and oddities, garden iron, interesting accent tables aplenty, and a really cool Old World Column {originally $878, NOW $439}.

Vintage Glove Forms, originally $256, NOW $128.
Zinc Painted Vintage Mantel, so iconically THE BLISSFUL, originally $650, NOW $325. {We can't believe this is still here. So many people have looked at it, measured it, photographed it. We can only figure it must be waiting for you. :) }

John Wind's signature Chunky Gold Initial Bracelets. Originally $89, NOW $44.50.

The last of our Sid Dickens collection, now at 50% OFF! Sid enthusiasts know that Sid can never be discounted by the law of Sid's camp unless a store is going out of business. Fans and collectors, now's your chance! Active Tiles originally $76, now $38. Zodiac Tiles originally $84, NOW $42. Retired Tiles originally $106, NOW $53.

And more than we can show here. Hurry in for lower than ever discounts!

Hours This Week: Mon-Sat 10 AM - 5 PM. Our anticipated last day of business is this Saturday, February 6th.