Browsing Category

Contributors

Advice, Brand Spotlight, Business, Contributors

How To Throw A Bash For Your Brand On A Budget

August 25, 2016
IMG_9662

Amanda Blakley is a travel writer and now entrepreneur with her new baby garment line, Petits Genoux, where she married the old-fashion styles of our ancestors with a modern-day twist and we are so in love. Read below as she shares her advice on how to throw a bash for you brand on a budget and some adorable photos of her own event. 

Petits Genoux

Looking to amp up your brand exposure in a fun and interactive way? Why not create an authentic experience that brings your company to life in a live setting? We spend so much time and energy these days building our online communities, but what about our off-line community? Not just our “followers”, “friends” or “fans” passively observing our businesses from afar. Instagram is great for brand building and reaching new consumers, but sometimes old school human engagement, not the digital kind, is where it’s at! Let’s forget about reach, readership and interactions for a minute. Let’s try and reconnect with the people, places and things whom we ultimately create our products and services for.

We recently threw a simple (but chic) park playdate for our local friends and customers in Toronto. It gave us the opportunity to showcase our brand in an informal setting, get real-time feedback and put faces to the names of some of our best clients, accounts and future customers.

Petits Genoux

Here is a little tip-sheet on how you can do the same:

  1. Define your objective. do you want to sell product, introduce a new collection, spread the word about an exciting new service offering? No matter what it is, you need to determine the best way to showcase or communicate it, in a setting where your guests/customers will be most receptive to the message.Petits Genoux
  2. What’s your hook? I think it’s fair to say that many of us get invited to a lot of events. We’re busy, time-starved and quite frankly, slightly jaded, so in order to get a guest to RSVP and actually turn up at an event, it needs to have a hook or purpose more meaningful than just a rack of clothes for sale and some canapés on offer. Brainstorm an idea, theme or concept that adds substance and creativity to your event, in the spirit of your brand. Feature a local performer, a children’s choir, face painting, beat boxing, type-rope-walking – anything to elevate your event beyond just another shopping night or trunk show.
  3. Distill your brand to a couple sentences then work backwards to define what type of setting and activity would resonate most with your audience and potential customers. In the case of Petits Genoux, our main target audience is new and expecting mom’s. Where do they hang out on a gorgeous summer morning? The park. So we set out to jazz up their predictable daily outing and attempted to make it accessible, fun, entertaining and whimsical, all before getting their littles home for nap time. Siblings were invited to play in our teepee village, sip lemonade and eat popsicles, while babes-in-arms could easily be toted around while their moms perused our wares.
  4. Timing, as you know, is everything, and the same is true of when (and where) to host your gathering. Some lifestyle brands or products might have more success throwing an evening event. Or perhaps you might consider a chic breakfast or coffee break for those customers working a more traditional 9-5. The key is to find a time slot and activity that makes sense while also creating an element of anticipation for your guests.
  5. Get inspired. Pinterest is full of entertaining ideas, pick one and make it your own with little custom details that speak to your brand. Can you screen a must-see experimental film on the side of a building and sample your brand of popcorn while guests chill out on lawn chairs? Host an intimate dinner with a local chef pairing each course with your core brand values? The key is to create a concept that will help to harness the unique aspects of your brand or business that make it special while propelling your company or brand into the spotlight.

Amanda Blakley

Tourist | Entrepreneur | Adventurer

Petits Genoux

Advice, Contributors, Mama Boss

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty For Working

August 23, 2016
Ashley Gartland

Ashley Gartland is a mama after our own hearts. She recently started her Life Coach business, specifically focusing on moms who want to dedicate their lives to their kids, but also be a kick ass woman following her career goals. To learn more about what she does, click here.

 

Dear mamas,

I have spent a lot of time feeling guilty for being a working mom. I have felt guilty when I missed an activity because I’m working with a client. I have felt guilty when I’m traveling for work and my daughters cry through our nightly Facetime dates. I have felt guilty for not giving more of my time and attention to my kids because my work demands those limited resources too. And I have felt guilty for choosing to work. I have felt like a bad mom for admitting that I needed to be more than a mom to feel fulfilled in my daily life.

But that was before I realized that the guilt wasn’t serving me or doing my kids or coaching business any good either. So I decided to let go of the guilt by focusing on the three big reasons I shouldn’t feel guilty for working instead.

I now know that I will always have a choice: I can feel guilty for being a high-achieving woman who wants to be more than just a mom or I can set the guilt aside and focus on all the good things that come from my working instead.

You have a choice too. So if you’re struggling to let go of the guilt, I encourage you to consider these three reasons you shouldn’t feel guilty for working, and then make sure you re-read them often because we all know mom-guilt is nothing if not persistent.

Ashley Gartland

Working is good for your kids.

When I first started working as a coach for moms to help them find a better balance between family, business and self-care, I was concerned how my family would handle the demands of me returning to work. (Ironic, right?) And I felt especially guilty about taking time away from my daughters, who were just 4 and 1 at the time.

But then my oldest daughter asked me a question that changed everything. She said “Mom, it must be a lot of work to take care of our family and be a coach. Why do you want to do both jobs?”

Since she was only 4, I gave her the simple answer: I loved being a mom and I loved being a coach. But when she’s older and more mature I’ll tell her that I choose to work because I want her and her sister to see me defining myself outside of motherhood. I work because I want to show them what life looks like when you go after your dreams.

And, most importantly, I’ll tell her that I do both jobs because I dream of a future for my daughters where mothers are celebrated, not judged, for being ambitious, creative women. So if my girls decide to become mothers someday, they won’t feel like they have to choose between being a great mom and a bold woman. Because if I’ve lead by example in my own life, they will know with 100 percent certainty that they can be both.

Ashley Gartland

Working is good for your community.

I used to be so wrapped up in my mom guilt that I forgot that the impact of my work stretched far beyond my immediate family. And it absolutely did.

Because here’s the honest truth: there are people out there who need what you have to offer. There are people in your community and people waiting to hear your ideas and receive your services. There are people whose lives you could change through your work. There are people you haven’t even met yet who are waiting to experience your unique gifts – and it would be a disservice to let guilt stop you from sharing them.

So the next time you feel guilty for working, I encourage you to think about how your work impacts people on the grander scale. Because I guarantee there are people waiting for you and they won’t ever get the chance to experience all you have to offer if you let guilt run the show.

Ashley Gartland

Working is good for your soul.

When I first admitted I wanted to be more than a mom, I felt a lot of shame that motherhood wasn’t the end all, be all for me – especially because I knew how much I had to be grateful for. And yet, I also knew that there was more to me than the part of me that held the title of mom.

I was also a woman who found my work endlessly fulfilling. My work gave me an intellectual outlet and helped me feel creatively stimulated and accomplished. It let me tap into the things that light me up, the things that make me feel like I have a purpose beyond raising great kids. It let me use my talents and increased my sense of self worth.

So I’ve since come to realize that there’s no shame in moving past the guilt so I can fuel my soul with work that I love. Because working makes me feel like the very best version of me and it brings me joy that overflows into other areas of my life too.

The mom guilt? It’s real and it’s persistent. But if you can focus on the things that working brings to your life, instead of all that guilt, good things will come your way. Your kids will benefit, your community will benefit and you will benefit too.

xx,

Ashley Gartland

 

BONUS: Ashley made this little workbook and it’s really helped us mamas out! Download it here.

Ashley Gartland

Contributors, Summer, Travel

The US Road Trip: 7 Instagram Mamas Tell Us Where To Go & Why

August 17, 2016
Road Trip

The U.S. highway system was developed 1950s, and with that came a generation of baby boomers who would grow up fantasizing about cross-country road trips with their families. Back then, the allure of Route 66 was real. 

Inspired by a previous generation that took the time to explore the U.S. via roadways, and after experiencing the luxury of the 2017 Audi Q7 (we’re talking Apple CarPlay and WiFi hotspots) first hand, the ladies over here at heymama caught road trip fever. Summer is almost over, but it’s not too late to fit in a family trip! You can totally make a spontaneous vacation happen by packing your bags and piling in the car.  

But seriously, why go through the hassle of TSA when you can hop in your car and hit the road with your littles?! Not sure where to go? No worries, heymama has done the work for you! Here’s a rundown of road-trips every family should make on a moment’s notice — as told by traveling mamas on Instagram.

 

1- Tupper Lake, NY

Road Trip

“The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY is one part walk in the treetops, one part nature museum and a whole lot of parts of Adirondack geared family fun! You can complete the entire Center in a few short hours, or take your time and spend the entire day (or two, because your ticket is actually good for 2 consecutive days!). Be sure to visit Otter Falls during one of the Otter feedings for an adorable and educational show on the centers unofficial mascot or take a walk on the wild side and complete the Wild Walk, complete with suspension bridges, an eagles nest with an amazing view of the High Peaks and a giant spider web suspended in air that the whole family will love to crawl on! The Wild Center is around 5.5 hours from both NYC and Boston, and 2.5hrs from Montreal, so you could always add it as a stop on your way to Canada ;)” – Elisa Rispoli

(Adult tickets $20, Children’s tickets $13, ages 4 & under are free. www.wildcenter.org)

@live.and.let.wander

www.liveandletwander.com

2- La Pine, Oregon

Road Trip

“We spent the day in La Pine, Oregon, a 4hr drive from Portland. We went on a great 30 minute hike around Lava Butte with some stunning views. It was only $2 a person to take a bus to the top, walk the rim of the volcano, enjoy the 360 degree panoramic views and take the bus back. There is a great little museum at the bottom as well. We then took the kids to South Twin Lake in La Pine to kayak. It’s perfect for little ones as the water is calm and not crowded at all. The boys paddled around the lake for several hours. We then headed to Panini’s Pizzeria in the Sunriver Resort area. The kids enjoyed personal kid size pizzas. Outside in the shopping area were large jumpers and a climbing wall along with a small train and miniature golf. It was a great spot to burn off excess energy and run around. Overall, everything was in close enough proximity that day turned out great.” – Erin

@ourlivelytribe

www.ourlivelytribe.com

3- Vail, Colorado

Road Trip

“Only a 2.5hr drive from Denver, Vail, Colorado is the perfect location for a summer getaway for our family. We love the quaint atmosphere and fresh air that a mountain town has to offer so we try to get to Vail at least once a year. From exciting alpine coasters and slides, bike rides alongside the gorgeous Gore Creek, to the most darling Children’s Fountain and play area in Vail Village (located next to Fuzziwig’s Candy Shop), Vail has something to offer for the entire family. When we aren’t busy exploring the outdoors, we love to eat! Our favorite kid-friendly restaurants include George’s Cafe, Blue Moose Pizza, and Moe’s Original BBQ. Oh and the flowers are seriously swoon worthy! Winter, our eight-month old daughter, certainly loved them!” – Terra Larock

@loveandlarock

www.loveandlarock.com

4- The Berkshires, Massachusetts 

Road Trip

“It’s been fun to hit the same open roads that my family would road trip every summer as kids through the northeastern US. Now as parents to two little ones, about once a year we forgo the busy airports in favor of the drive to Longmeadow, MA to visit my 96 year old grandmother. On the way we always stop in The Berkshires, which is around a 3hr drive from NYC – one of our favorite little towns is Stockbridge, which features prominently in the paintings of Norman Rockwell – be sure to stop by the beautiful museum featuring a full career of works. Main street still remains unchanged and we always stay at The Red Lion Inn, an elegant Victorian inn full of chintz and charm – very family friendly. They serve some mean blueberry pancakes in the original dining room, china, silver and all. If you go in the summer, be sure to take a dip in some of the many swimming holes in the area and have ice cream at the little general store. By far our favorite thing to do is take in a matinee performance at Tanglewood – a beautiful former estate in the Berkshires that has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since the 1930’s. We get lawn tickets and order a gourmet picnic basket. Sometimes the boys fall asleep to the sounds of the orchestral music – it’s quite simply a heavenly way to spend an afternoon outside (arrive a little early to snag a shady spot under a tree). Another fun activity is a visit to the Berkshire Railway museum for a real live Thomas the Tank Engine experience.” – Amanda Blakely

@amandablakely

www.petitsgenoux.com

5- Northern Vermont 

Road Trip

“We have been on the road for almost 8 months, so I mean it when I say that Vermont is a perfect family road trip destination.  Roughly 3.5 hours from Boston and 6 from NYC, northern Vermont has something for everyone, year round.  Perhaps Vermont’s greatest asset, aside from her astounding beauty, is the fresh and local culture.  Finding restaurants that source locally, farm visits, and pick your own berries are easy finds.  Our perfect summer day would start with breakfast at Main Restaurant and Bakery in Jeffersonville, then a dip at Jeff Falls on the Brewster River, followed by some wine/cider tasting at Boyden Valley Winery (while the kids play on the swing set outside) in Cambridge.  If we had an early start, we’d then go pick some berries at River Berry Farm (type depends on seasonal timing), then top it all off with dinner at Angelina’s back in Jeffersonville.  If you’re wanting more action, Burlington is a short drive away where you can find all the conveniences of city life with the same bucolic charm you’ve grown to love.  Start your day at beautiful Shelburne Farms, eating farm fresh everything while the kiddos learn all about sustainable farming and cheese making, then head downtown to stroll Church Street for a local brew.  After you can all explore at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, an interactive science focused kids museum, then finish with dinner at Bluebird BBQ (and if you time it right, kids eat free on Sundays!). And hey!, you’re now only an hour and a half from Montreal, so you may as well pack the passports and road trip north.” – Lauren Davis

@everyanywhere

 

6- The Grand Canyon

Road Trip

“This summer vacation we planned a road trip throughout our favorite spots of the West Coast. We flew in from Italy to San Francisco, rented a car and drove through the sunny beaches of California and visited some of the national parks . There is no better feeling than having your holiday “on the road”. You can experience a different adventure everyday by exploring national parks, walking along beautiful trails or renting bicycles. Our favorite kid-friendly location was The Grand Canyon. You have the option of riding down on the back of a mule or going through the lower Canyon by helicopter. Then let your children enjoy a special day attending Junior Ranger program (www.nps.gov/grca/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm). In American National Parks they can get Junior ranger badge after performing activities with local rangers (ex bird watching, walking distance) . “Explore, learn, and protect!” It’s the special program slogan!!” – Elisa Di Rienzo
@ilfiordicappero
www.ilfiordicappero.ifood.it
7- Estes Park, Colorado
Road Trip
“Estes Park, Colorado is a quaint mountain town seated at the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and centrally located about 1.5hr drive from Denver, making it the perfect family road trip destination!  From campsites, cabins, condos, or hotels, you’ll find accommodations to fit every budget.  Our favorite place to stay in Estes Park is the YMCA of the Rockies, a year round “family camp” resort, or the beautiful, historic Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”.  RMNP is a short 15-minute drive from town, where you can marvel at sweeping mountain vistas from well-paved and easily-navigated roads, spot some of the thousands of elk that call RMNP home, and stretch your legs at one of many picnic areas.  RMNP also boasts several kid-friendly hikes:  Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Lily Lake trails are a few popular nature walks for families, with flat, wide, paved trails that even accommodate strollers.  In the summer and early fall, drive to the 11,700 foot summit of Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the country and where snow banks are often present year round, for a summer family snowball fight! When you’ve had your fill of fun in Rocky Mountain National Park, you can extend your stay with a myriad of activities in town:  Spend an afternoon shopping along picturesque Elkhorn Avenue, enjoy lunch and take a ghost tour (if you dare) at the historic Stanley Hotel, or blow off steam playing miniature golf and riding go-carts.  Check out Estes Park’s own brewery, or grab an elk burger at the local’s favorite The Grubsteak.  Take an adventurous Jeep Tour, or just rest your feet in the stream that runs through town.  You’ll have so much fun getting dirty and enjoying the alpine air, you won’t hear a peep from the kids the whole ride home! ” – Christine Austin
 @oneintrepidlife
www.oneintrepidlife.com
Brand Spotlight, Business, Contributors

How Creative Play Makes Your Kids Smarter

August 5, 2016
rose&rex062316_0033

Young children radiate curiosity that’s waiting to be nurtured. Central to their early learning is the experience of imaginative play, the single most important tool for their overall development. Imaginative or creative play is open-ended, defined only by a child’s imagination; it’s not driven by results or pre-structured. Children instinctively use this type of creative play to foster the fundamental skills they need throughout their academic years and into adulthood, such as cognitive executive functions, literacy, physical coordination, emotional regulation, empathy and so much more. Yet playtime is being cut from children’s learning in an alarming way. Academic benchmarks have replaced open-ended exploration. A child’s performance is often judged on what he or she produces, rather than how he or she learns. More children are leading schedule-focused lives that resemble an adult’s.

rose&rex062316_0029

“Regular play is the antidote to a growing culture of stress, anxiety and academic or social pressures,” says teacher and play-based tutor, Allison Klein.  “Just ten minutes of play each day can help to support a child’s cognitive growth and promote relaxation.” Allison is the founder of teacher-curated toy boutique, Rose and Rex, which she created to start a conversation about why Play Matters. Check out her five tips to connect with your child while supporting their development through the joy of imaginative play.

rose&rex062316_0033

Choose open-ended toys and materials

We fill our Rose and Rex shop with inspiring open-ended toys so that each time a child plays, the experience supports their development. Open-ended toys actively engage, rather than entertain. They include toys and materials that can be transformed by a child’s imagination, personalized, explored and used in more than one way, such as building blocks, eco-friendly play dough, costumes, fabric scraps, and cardboard boxes or tubes. For example, a doll with a pre-designed expression or identity only tells one story, but an open-ended doll (Princess Anything Doll; $100) with no pre-determined expression allows a child to apply his/her own story and feelings. Because open-ended toys come to life in a child’s hands, they effortlessly encourage ingenuity and original thinking.

Creative play, Princess Anything Doll Rose + Rex

Join their play

If kiddo is putting on a puppet show, pick up a puppet (Nhocchi Hand Puppet; $25) and join the fun!. Young children learn how to play with others by first engaging in parallel play, which means playing next to someone separately. Sit next to your child and start creating your own block structure near them. Doing so will encourage conversation, collaboration and social learning. As they grow, continue to inspire open-ended play with this tried-and-true tactic: showing genuine enthusiasm. Studies reveal that when adults are excited about something (green beans! bedtime! homework!), children respond with more motivation. Let your child take you into their imaginary world and simply follow their lead.  
Creative play, Rose + Rex Nhocchi Hand Puppet

Be a ‘Block Star.’

A set of building blocks is one of the best open-ended materials for encouraging mathematical, scientific and artistic learning. Children are natural builders, and use blocks as both a construction tool and catalyst for dramatic play. Through block play, your young inquirer learns early math skills, including counting, sorting, classifying, equivalencies, part-to-whole relationships, and identifying shapes. Pick block sets (Tegu Block Pocket Building Set; $25)with different shapes and colors to help develop your child’s vocabulary. Talk with them about the block’s shape, size, and relationship to the other blocks, such as ‘The blue cylinder is on top of the red cube.”

Creative play, Rose + Rex tegu pocket prism

Ask Open-Ended Questions.

An open-ended question invites more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from your little one. Let’s say your child puts on an owl mask (Owl Mask; $35) and starts flying around the room. Use these great open-ended questions to enrich their learning and creative play, “How do you think it feels to fly?” or “What might a bird’s home look like?”, instead of close-ended questions like, “Do owls fly?” or “Is it fun to be an owl?” Open-ended questions inspire new play possibilities, open up important lines of communication and help cultivate your kiddo’s original thinking and self-expression.

Creative play, Rose + Rex Owl Mask

Create a literacy rich environment.

Creative play leads to storytelling. As children build a block castle, narrate a scene for their stuffed animals, or zoom their wooden car around the room, they’re creating stories. Encourage your young storyteller by offering a variety of children’s literature and keeping open-ended materials on hand for their next new narrative. Place a bowl with scraps of paper and pencils or crayons next to their play area (Food Fight , Really Big Coloring Poster; $31) —this will encourage them to organically add writing, illustrations or dialogue to their latest creation. So when your little one feels the urge to create “Danger!” sign for their dragon lair, they can do so effortlessly.

Creative play, Rose + Rex Food Fight Coloring Poster

 

Lifestyle photos by Mary Grace

Baby, Contributors, Gift Guide

Top 5 Baby Gifts For Second Time Mamas

July 21, 2016
cheleafamily

We tapped new mama (to baby #2) and CEO of Fridababy, Chelsea Hirschhorn, to share her top 5 baby gifts for second time mamas. A lot changes with baby #2… you’re a bit wiser, a lot less nervous, and care less about the “hot new product” noise and instead become more laser focused on the thoughtful, time-saving additions to your mom arsenal. Here are a few things that have either retained their staying power through #2 or emerged as saviors in this new chapter. These things will get way more play than that baby Gucci bikini you gave her for the first baby!

 

  • BabyZen Yoyo Strollerwe’re on the go between Miami and New York quite frequently, so the portability of the shoulder strap and convenience of overhead storage is unrivaled. It transcends the boardwalk to the city streets perfectly – particularly with the new newborn attachment!

Baby Gifts to make your life easier

  • New books (The Book With No Pictures & The Day The Crayons Quit are personal faves) because no matter how many you had the first time around, the 700th time you’re reciting it from memory, and while I love the classics, there have been some great new additions between my first and my second!  

Baby Gifts

  • Recently AppI took thousands of photos of Hunter that just lived in my phone and I was petrified of losing them to the inevitable iCloud doomsday. This app automatically snail mails 100 pics from your camera roll to you every month in the form of a great little “Wallpaper-esque” magazine – no editing / no selection required – we’ve taken about 1/3 of the photos the second time around, but at least they live beautifully on our bookshelf now!

Baby Gifts to make your life easier

 

  • Baby Brezza Formula ProSince I stopped breast feeding, this brilliant formula “brewing” machine has been amazing – a total luxury – yes – but so worth the time hack in the morning when – between getting ready for work, Hunter dressed & out the door to camp and Jax fed – every second counts!

Baby Gifts to make your life easier

  • Our Fridababy Bitty Bundle of Joy Gift Kit! A few years ago it was engagement and wedding gifts every other weekend. Now all of those friends are having babies, so we created this kit to make the hunt for the perfect shower gift a lot easier.  It takes mom straight from postpartum care to boogers, butts & beyond, with all of our cult favorites (think NoseFrida to NailFrida and everything between) in one beautiful, giftable tote – with card and all! There’s a lot of pleasures in giving the gift you know she’ll actually use – and one less stop at the corner store for a gift bag and tissue paper means a few found minutes that day!

Baby Gifts to make your life easier

 

You can see more of Chelsea on her heymama profile here.

Advice, Contributors, Productivity

The Art Of A Good Email Introduction, an Etiquette Guide

July 15, 2016
email introduction

Here at heymama we know all about the importance of networking and relationships, after all, relationships and building connections is what heymama is all about. So, whether you’re a member of our stellar mamapreneur group, or a regular reader of our blog, or if you’re just passing through, we decided to break down the ever important “introduction email.” We promise that these four tips will be ever so helpful when it comes to introducing and responding to an email introduction.

Confirm with Your Sources

An email introduction is a great way to get your foot in the door and can be the gateway to future business partnerships, job opportunities, or even playdates for your little, however, surprising a contact out of the blue is a big no no. Don’t offer up someone else’s services without getting the OK from THEM first. Not sure what to say? Try this:

Lauren, I have a friend looking to start her own #GIVEBACK brand but she’s super overwhelmed with all the information out there. I immediately thought of you as a great resource for her, is it okay to pass along your contact info?

Follow up with the Introducer

If you’re the one being introduced don’t take your introducer for granted. Shoot a thank you email, text, phone call or even a pretty handwritten note to let them know how thankful you are for the introduction!

Avoid Reply All

A lot of times you will be cc’d on an introduction that someone is making for you. That means the REPLY ALL button includes the introducer as well. It is best to make sure you remove the introducer from the conversation once the introduction has been made. With this said, feel free to move them to the bcc for the first correspondence so that you can thank them for the initial introduction, go for something like this…

Chris – thanks for the introduction!

 Alexandra, It’s great to e-meet you, I was hoping you’d be available to chat sometime this week regarding emerging fashion labels. Let me know if you are available and what time works best for you.

(Chris is the introducer)

Be Polite but Get to the Point

Have the okay to reach out to a contact? Responding to an email introduction? Make sure to be polite and professional without wasting anyone’s time, so get to the point. Here are some examples to help you mamas out:

If you’re reaching out: Miranda, I hope this finds you well. I received your contact info from Emily and wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee to discuss your experience working at a fashion publication. Let me know what works best for you time wise! Thanks, Andie

Responding to an Introduction: Liz, thank you for reaching out. As Darcy may have mentioned, I am looking to launch an e-commerce site and was hoping to pick your brain on the subject. Please let me know when you’d be available for a quick phone call or cup of coffee. Looking forward to following up with you! Best, Jane

Advice, Contributors, How to

5 Interview Tips To Get You The Job

July 13, 2016
Interview Tips

Heather Monahan is one of those badass women who does it all. She’s a mentor, motivational speaker and mother. Her goal is to empower women and help them be the best that they can be. From feeling your best, to looking your best, to doing your best, Heather is here to encourage you to be the most fulfilled woman you can be.

 

After 17 years working in the media business and hiring talent, I have come to realize that many women haven’t been taught simple hiring tips that can make all the difference in an interview.

To help demystify the interview and hiring process, I’ve compiled my top tips to help you get hired.

Be Social Media Savvy

In order to get hired you need to set yourself apart from the pool of potential candidates. One way you can do that is to spend time finding out all that you can about your target company, employees and most importantly, the hiring manager by accessing Linkedin and Google.   I promise you this: very few people take the time to complete this step— and this step is a game changer!

Sharing feedback like this during the interview makes the interview more about the interviewer and shows that you have a genuine interest in them. This is the key to success in dealing with people—especially when you’re trying to get them to like you!

You can never—and I repeat, NEVER!—send a resume with a cover letter to a hiring manager and expect a response.

Managers are receiving hundreds, or possibly thousands, of candidates via email every day.  When it’s you who is in charge of hiring, it’s a daunting and tedious task to have to review the dredge of standard resumes that overload your inbox. In my experience, there are always a few people that stand out and get my attention.

The standouts are the candidates that find someone in my circle who knows me. They have done their homework to see who we have in common, and they’ve applied pressure to ask someone for an intro.  

Know Your Unique Value Proposition.

In order to differentiate yourself from the other candidates that made it to the face-to-face interview round, you need to be able to articulate simply and specifically what it is that makes you unique, valuable and the obvious hire for this position.

If you don’t already know what your UVP is, you need to determine it.

Once you have them listed, compare them to what the company is looking for. It is imperative that you find a way to align your talents with their needs in order to illustrate the fit.

If you don’t know how to find your unique value proposition—and many of us struggle with this—I suggest you do what I did: Reach out to others that you work with (co-workers, employees, people you trust that know you well) and ask them to give you two specific things that make you unique.  

Practice.

I’m often shocked by what I perceive as a lack of preparation on a candidate’s behalf. For instance, showing up to an interview without multiple resume copies comes off as being ill prepared; you never know how many managers are going to join the meeting!

Also, it’s amazing how many candidates don’t bring examples of their work or references to share on site. Remember, the minute you sit down to be interviewed, you need to be in selling mode.

Interviews are about selling yourself: Your skills, your experience, your personality. Be able to answer basic interview questions. Research possible questions online, write them down and answer each one. Practice them out loud. It’s painful, but it will increase your ability to retain the information ten fold!

You’re in charge of your interview performance. Always use personal experiences and stories from your career/school to illustrate examples of prior behavior and success. Take the time to do this well, and to let your personality come through, and you will blow the manager away.

Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself speaking into your smartphone, or have a friend quiz you on your questions. Do whatever it takes to feel comfortable and confident for your interview.

Be Direct.

You will never get the information you need in order to close this deal if you don’t ask direct questions. I have seen many women get nervous in this phase, even when they are the most qualified for the job!

I suggest looking at other experiences in your life where you felt nervous but were able to overcome the nerves. I keep a short list of accomplishments top-of-mind and readily available for me to pull from.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as remembering that I completed a workout on the treadmill at a speed I thought I couldn’t possibly achieve.

It also can be a different kind of win, like remembering how scared I was that my son would suffer as a result of my getting divorced. Now, seeing him thriving and realizing I made the right decision gives me confidence in the face of other challenges.

Whatever adversity you have overcome, use it now to power you forward through the nerves you may be feeling. Only you can make this happen.

Some good direct questions to ask are, “How do I compare to your other candidates? What skill set is specifically imperative to have with this position for you to be happy? What happened to the person that previously had this job? What would I be able to expect from you as a boss?”

Go For the Close.

No one will get a job if they don’t go for the close. Repeat after me: “I will not leave the office of the hiring manager without saying this: ’What else do you need to know about me in order to offer me this job? Are you the only person that will be making this decision and if so, will you be offering me the position?’”

You can frame this question many different ways, but the bottom line is you need to ask for the offer. If it makes you uncomfortable to think about doing this, consider the alternative:

You will not get the job unless you ask for it.

Just as you did with your other prep tips, practice asking for the offer until it becomes second nature. Once you remove the fear, there is room for excitement at the prospect of getting the job!

 

xx,

Heather Monahan

@heathermonahan

Advice, Business, Contributors

DO’s and DONT’s of Pitching

July 7, 2016
Pitching

For all of those budding entrepreneurs looking to spread the word about your endeavors, we tapped our friend Jackie Thomson at Leapfrog to share a few tips on pitching your brand and here are a few easy do’s and don’ts to remember…

If you’re pitching to someone, you ALWAYS have to have a story to tell. DO always start with the elevator pitch and don’t forget to include the following; why are you different, what makes your brand newsworthy and how can you offer a unique point of view? When you can say this succinctly, you are ready to share your story. Before you tackle the next step, DO be sure that your photography is top notch and, if you have a product, be sure you have it photographed on a white background. Get a head shot, have your bio ready, and make sure you’re proud of your Instagram “quilt” and website.

Now, there is an actual art to pitching, and practice does make perfect. DO your homework! Before you ever hit ’send,’ make sure you are pitching to the right media outlet and to the right person there. Spend some time reading the publication, scroll through it’s social media accounts, catch up on digital content. When you find stories similar to the ones that you’re aiming to see published, take note of the editor and find other pieces penned by that person. What’s their voice, what are their interests, what type of content do they produce? Keep in mind the timing of long and short lead media and what stories the editors are working on. If it’s July, the magazines are researching brands to include in holiday gift guides – DO think ahead.

DO start a conversation with the editor and approach him or her respectfully but in a voice that is appropriate to that person. I always check a LinkedIn profile and their Instagram account before sending a pitch. That gives a little extra context to the person and maybe even identifies a few points of common interests. DON’T pitch multiple people at a time and DON’T copy and paste pitches. But really, DON’T – your formatting will be off and editors know when they’re getting a canned pitch.
Finally, DO think of your pitch as a package; include, an introduction, a unique point of view, and a concrete story idea with a few images to illustrate those elements.
Advice, Business, Contributors, Productivity

7 Tips to Starting a Small Business

June 30, 2016
IMG_8921 copy

It was a little over a year ago that I decided to leave my job as an accountant. I liked my job and felt fulfilled, but leaving my baby every morning was really hard for me. I had been making jewelry previously… just tinkering with little things here and there, nothing major. Clay had just received a promotion at his job so we decided to have me quit and start making jewelry while being home with Ezra. But I had so many ideas, so many OTHER hobbies that I wanted to delve into… writing, weaving, pottery, I wanted to design surfboards for Clay’s little surf company, I wanted to design handbags! I was all over the place. Little did I know that a small business was about to blossom…

So over the past year, this idea of a jewelry Etsy shop blossomed into a full blown website incorporating everything I love: jewelry design, leather bags, poster prints and photography, home decor, we even have a stand-up paddle board designed by yours truly. After making so many contacts with some amazing creators in the social media space over the past year, it just made sense to work with these people who already had incredible talent in place. Visit our “Meet The Creators” page to get to know our designers!

There were definitely setbacks along the way — last October I didn’t even know if it was going to happen. I was feeling so frustrated and things just seemed to be dragging on. But we pushed through, and in January 2016 things really began to move and the brand behind Sugarhouse Supply started to form.

I wanted to share a few tips and tricks we learned along the way and although you will still make mistakes, I hope that this will save you a couple!

small business

1. Strong branding is everything

Pick a name that means something to you. This way you will be less likely to want to change it later on. Keep it simple and memorable. But as I am sure you know, branding isn’t just about a great name. It’s a look, feel and image of your brand. If you keep consistency with your logo, colors and even the font you use across every package, mailer, Instagram ad, blog post, etc., you will create a greater brand presence. People will begin recognizing your brand quicker if it is consistent.

2. You Need to Have Patience & Be Flexible

We began thinking up Sugarhouse Supply Co. in early April of 2015. I, being very naive and a little too optimistic, thought we could have EVERYTHING done by Christmas. But, being the brand we are, with several different products, mostly being curated by us individually or by other small makers, it just wasn’t feasible. The following SPRING wasn’t even feasible! I started getting a bit discouraged. We set our launch date for June 2016… more than a year after we had started thinking of our business! If you set a deadline or “launch day” that is actually doable, creating a schedule and plan, you will be so much less stressed and will be more likely to achieve your goal. Also, don’t forget to add in some “cushion.” Things always take more time and cost more money than you think they will. Create a spending start-up budget and stick with it! But don’t budget to your max limit. Plan on spending less than your max because there will always be things you don’t think about and things that cost more than you originally planned.

small business
3. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Use your resources. If you know someone who is a photographer, branding expert, social media influencer, website designer etc. don’t hesitate to ask questions! Most will be happy to help and would love to support your business. I had SO MUCH help from talented friends and family with this business. It would not be what it is without their help. Never feel ashamed to ask questions.

4. Software Tools

I taught myself how to use Adobe InDesign years ago when a company I worked for asked me to create flyers and brochures for their marketing team. It has come in so handy over the years, especially now! I have used Adobe InDesign to create our insert cards, logo, packaging tape, designing parts of our website etc. I have found Adobe InDesign worked best for me, but I have heard Illustrator is also a great one for simple designing. Highly recommend teaching yourself how to use this program or one similar if you have a small business!It doesn’t matter the size of your business, keeping things in order on a spreadsheet will save you a lot of headache. This is where my accounting background comes in handy, I don’t know what I would do without my spreadsheets. But, you don’t have to be an accountant to organize and stay on top of things. Keep track of your inventory, pricing, vendors, materials… etc. There is a place for EVERYTHING on a spreadsheet. If you do not have Microsoft Office, Google Sheets is also a great resource.

5. Creative Market 
Creative Market is a website where designers can post their artwork and creative material for sale. It has become such a great tool for me when searching for new fonts, web designs and magazine layouts. Check it out! There are so many amazing creators out there willing to share their work for great prices.When you’re dealing with a minimum budget for your small business, every penny counts!
small business
6. Social Media
Social media marketing is HUGE. There are countless Instagram influencers that have a large reaches that are happy to help promote your brand. In the past few years I have promoted so many small businesses. Now that I am on the other side, I know the huge benefit that social media collaboration on Instagram can bring. From past experience working with small brands and talking with several people with small businesses, I would recommend starting your Instagram promotion by collaborating with Instagram influencers with 15k-30k followers. Many of these users will accept product as trade for promotion or do not charge too much. Many users with much higher followings may also accept product as payment, (depending on the product), but the likelihood they will get to your message or agree to post as payment is much less. I would recommend reaching out to people with smaller followings to save yourself time, especially if you would like to have the post unpaid. I have found that their reach is very valuable if their engagement rate is there.

With this said, photography on your social media and the way you display your photos is extremely important. Creating well lit (think natural sunlight), clear and professional looking photographs will bring attention to your products and will most definitely give you a greater chance of selling. Having a plain white or black background will make your product “pop”. If you do not have a great place in your home to take photos, you can buy a paper backdrop roll with crossbar supports and shoot next to a window. But honestly, for our first small product photos, I folded a piece of white poster board and placed it near natural sunlight…worked like a charm. All our jewelry photography was shot that way and then I just overexposed the photos to get a bright white background finish. Once you grow and have a little more money to spend, you can rent studios space and pay a photographer for your product photos.

From past experience working with small brands and talking with several people with small businesses, I would recommend starting your Instagram promotion by collaborating with Instagram influencers with 15k-30k followers. Many of these users will accept product as trade for promotion or do not charge too much.

7. Website

There are so many website platforms to choose from these days, it is so overwhelming. In our search, we couldn’t find ONE platform that did everything we wanted. So we made some choices and compromised. See what is important to you and do your research! Before we realized how important choosing the right platform was, we built our ENTIRE site and put in countless hours of work only to find it wasn’t compatible with a very important payment option that we felt was 100% necessary. That was a deal breaker in our book, so we decided to switch everything to another platform, re-doing our whole site. It was such a headache! If we would have done the research and looked at all the options, we wouldn’t have wasted so many hours.

 

Starting a small business is completely exhausting, time-consuming, scary, but most of all, very exciting. It can be so rewarding in so many ways! I can’t wait to see what happens with our little Sugarhouse Supply Company. I can only hope that everything will be as amazing as it is in my head. Only time will tell, I guess!
I also wish you the very best of luck. It will be great, you will be great, and if you stick with it, staying true to yourself and your brand, you will be so successful.
XX,
Mary Lauren
Advice, Contributors, Health, Wellness

Beauty Products: What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You

June 29, 2016

Like many women, my journey to a clean lifestyle began in my quest to get pregnant five years ago.  When my naturopath told me that environmental toxins were lurking everywhere, I dug a little deeper, and I was horrified at what I found in my seemingly innocuous medicine cabinet.  I learned that there are scores of hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing ingredients in most of the personal care and beauty products we use every day.  Because I was willing to do anything to increase my chances of having a baby, and a healthy one, I became determined to find safer alternatives that met my unapologetic-product-snob standards. Incidentally, my blog, Bare Beauty, was born that year, and my daughter, Annabel, was born the following year.  I am certainly not saying that if you don’t switch out every single thing in your bathroom, medicine cabinet, and makeup bag this instant, you will drop dead tomorrow, but there are a few really important products to swap out if you’re looking to achieve optimum health.  I promise that it is less painful than you imagine (except for deodorant, that one is a stinker, sometimes literally).

Lotion: As most of us know by now, our skin is our largest organ.  Anything we put on is going to soak in and enter the bloodstream in just minutes.  Of all the personal care products to consider when making the switch to clean and green, body lotion is the most important. Conventional body lotions contain ingredients like mineral oil, petrolatum, glycerin, synthetic fragrances, parabens, dimethicone (a relative of silicone) and propylene glycol.  Propylene glycol is one of the main ingredients in anti-freeze.  When looking for a body lotion, look for aloe, shea butter, coconut, olive, or jojoba oil.  It should be first or second on the list of ingredients.

Acure Organics makes my favorite clean body lotion, hands down.  It sinks right into skin and moisturizes for a full 24 hours, and it’s less than $10.  Zoe Organics makes the best thick, moisturizing cream around, and it is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.  It’s great for both mama and baby.  Also, both of these brands are now conveniently sold at Target.

Lotion - Med CabinetShampoo: I know you don’t want to trade in your Kerastase and Pureology, but your scalp is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, so any toxic ingredient in your current shampoo is going straight into your bloodstream and major organs.  The surfactants (foaming cleansing agents) used in conventional shampoos are usually sodium laurel sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.  These ingredients can cause rashes, but worse, when they are ethoxylated, (a process that “softens” the chemical) 1,4-dioxane is produced, and it won’t be on the label, because it is a byproduct.  You may say, but my shampoo is sulfate-free! Unfortunately, it probably isn’t free of parabens, synthetic fragrance, phthalates, DMDM hydantoin, lauramide DEA, cocamide DEA and MEA. Buckle up: phthalates (which are in virtually all synthetic fragrances) and parabens mess with thyroid, estrogen, and pretty much all hormone levels.  DMDM hydantoin releases small amounts of formaldehyde when it comes into contact with your skin. Lauramide DEA and Cocamide DEA and MEA react with other chemicals in your shampoo to create carcinogens.  It’s a total bummer, isn’t it?  Luckily, there are some amazing options out there for both mama and baby.

Rahua (pronounced Rah-Wah) is makes the most luxurious nontoxic haircare products.  I use their shampoo and conditioner when I need a guaranteed good hair day.  Many natural shampoos leave a bit to be desired in the lathering department, but not this one; your hair will feel super-clean, but not stripped.  Acure Organics Yummy Baby 4-in-1 makes a great foaming shampoo, body wash, bubble bath and hand wash for kiddos.  My daughter loves it for the fun bubbles, and I love that it doesn’t contain even one sketchy ingredient.

shampoo - Medicine Cabinet

Toothpaste: We have been taught that brushing our teeth is essential to good personal hygiene, so we do it twice a day without even thinking about it. Something else we’ve forgotten to think about is just what is in our toothpaste: sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, and synthetic colors, flavors and fragrances.  SLS is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen.  Moreover, it is a harsh surfactant – it wreaks havoc on your mucus membranes.  Ever feel like the inside of your mouth is peeling after you brush?  SLS is to blame.  Triclosan was once used only in ER’s and OR’s, and for good reason; it kills almost every germ in its path.  Now this germ-killer is used in everything, even lipstick, deodorant, and toothpaste.  Experts have determined that triclosan is a hormone-disruptor and that the overuse of it can lead to super-bugs.  Another hotly debated ingredient in conventional toothpaste is fluoride.  The Environmental Working Group published a very helpful article that sums it up here.  Basically, Fluoride is necessary to prevent tooth decay, but there is such thing as too much, especially for pregnant women and children.  And, do we really need synthetic fragrances, flavors and colors in our toothpaste when mother nature does it best with real peppermint and spearmint?

I love Davids’s Natural Toothpaste.  It fights plaque, whitens and freshens breath, and it’s completely nontoxic and sustainable.  Trust me, you’ll never look back. Jack N’ Jill Kids makes brushing fun with their yummy organic flavors, and they make adorable biodegradable toothbrushes, too.

toothpaste- medicine cabinet

Sunscreen: Just like when you are shopping for a body lotion, you should avoid sunscreens that contain parabens, phthalates (both endocrine disruptors), petrolatum (a nonrenewable resource) and propylene glycol (generally toxic to human organs).  Most importantly, with all the clean, nontoxic, affordable options out there, there is absolutely no reason to use a sunscreen with Oxybenzone.  Oxybenzone is  probably the most popular chemical blocker (it absorbs the sun’s rays before they can damage the skin) currently used in conventional sunscreen.  It penetrates the skin very easily, and it can be found in the urine of nearly every American, mothers’ breast milk and umbilical cord blood.  Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor; it mimics estrogen, has been found to alter sperm count in animals and can interfere with normal fetal and childhood development.  Similar chemical blockers that carry similar hazards are Octinoxate, Homosalate, Avobenzone and Octocrylene.  That said, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients.  These are “physical blockers”; they literally block the sun’s rays from damaging the skin and are not only very safe, but they’re also soothing (zinc oxide is in most diaper rash cream).

Suntegrity makes my favorite natural sunscreens.  It contains a whopping 20% non-nano zinc oxide, which not only protects from both UVA and UBV rays, but also soothes skin.  The finish is sheer and the formula is very moisturizing, but not greasy, and it has a light, natural citrus scent.  Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen contains soothing ingredients like calendula, aloe and chamomile in addition to natural zinc oxide for protection that is water-resistant up to 8- minutes.

sunscreen - medicine cabinet

Deodorant: Conventional deodorant contains antiperspirant.  We have all appreciated this feature over the years, but have we ever wondered what it is that prevents us from sweating (a necessary bodily function for cooling and detoxification)?  Antiperspirant is made of aluminum salts.  On the label these are listed as aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromide, and aluminum zirconium.  Aluminum salts seal sweat glands and kill stinky bacteria.  If they weren’t so dangerous, they would be a godsend.  Aluminum is a heavy metal; we don’t want this stuff floating around in our system.  Aluminum is also a known neurotoxin.  There is even an ongoing debate on some scientists’ findings that aluminum is linked to the rise in breast cancer.  (A few studies have found it in human breast tissue.)  Conventional deodorants with antiperspirant also contain synthetic fragrance (read: phthalates), parabens, and triclosan (all known endocrine disruptors).  Many contain dimethicone, talc, and propylene glycol.  Swapping out your antiperspirant stick for natural deodorant usually requires some trial and error, as everyone’s body chemistry is different.  You will have to try a few alternatives before you find the one that is right for you, but once you do, you won’t look back.

I have tried dozens of clean deodorants, and these three are my favorite.  Soapwalla Deodorant Cream works incredibly well – it keeps me totally stink-free for 24 hours.  For those with more sensitive skin, Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Deodorant Cream is a dream come true (many baking soda-based natural deodorants cause a rash for 5% of the population, me included).  If you just can’t quit the stick, Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant is amazing and smells great. While none of these are antiperspirants, they do absorb moisture and keep me smelling fresh.  Bonus: these are all unisex options.

deodorant - medicine cabinet

See, that wasn’t so hard…  Going clean is easier than you think; just switch out your old standbys one at a time when you run out, and in a year, you’ll probably be 90% converted.  And, I promise you won’t look like a crunchy hippie (unless that’s your thing).   There are so many gorgeous, high-end natural beauty products out there now, that I don’t even miss my old Nars cosmetics.  For more of my favorite alternatives, visit my Essentials page, or if you’re looking for a retailer who only carries Bare Beauty-Approved goods, I’ll show you Where to Shop.

Advice, Contributors, How to, Parenting

Easy Tips To Get Your Little One To Love Reading

June 24, 2016

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was curl up next to my mama and read together. When we connected with Holly, speech-language pathologist and co-founder of The Story Box, we knew she was the perfect person to shine a light on how to get kids to love reading. As busy mamas we were excited about her monthly subscription service that delivers high-quality children’s books, leting us have extra time to snuggle up to our little one and read a good story. Read Holly’s  go-to five-step approach below and let us know how it goes!

 

How do I help my child learn to love reading?

Well, that’s an excellent question and one that I am frequently asked!  First, let me say that reading has endless benefits for your child, even very young children.  In fact, I say it is never too early to start reading to your child.  Research has consistently demonstrated multiple positive outcomes like improved communication skills, preparedness for school, and social-emotional health. Here’s how to help your child get reading early:

  1. Model it.

Children are great imitators, so modeling the desired behavior is a practical and effective strategy.  Read often in front of your child.  By doing this, you are showing your child that you enjoy reading enough to do it on a regular basis.   Also, model the use of reading and writing to accomplish tasks.  For example, show your child that you are reading a recipe to gain information about how to cook their favorite food, and show your child that you use writing to make a grocery list.  These strategies will help your child understand that print is meaningful and useful, and she/he will soon begin to imitate you!

  1. Read together every day.

From a young age, children begin to learn from their daily routines and even anticipate activities that occur regularly.  Take advantage of this and build reading into your child’s everyday routine.  Find a cozy place to read, make sure books are easily accessible, and select a consistent time of the day.  Reading with your child can become as regular and as automatic as brushing their teeth!

  1. Have a good variety of books in your child’s reach.

To maintain your child’s interest in reading, you will need to supply a good variety of books.  Offer books that are simple and short, books that are longer with more complex stories, books with detailed illustrations, books with simple illustrations, books that rhyme, and books that don’t rhyme.  (To learn more about some of the qualities I look for in books, visit www.jointhestorybox.com/whatsinside.) Messy mom tip: try board books if you are concerned about your child destroying the books.

  1. Balance leading and following while reading.

Find a balance between Being the Leader and Following the Leader when reading with your child.  When Being the Leader, you may go through the book page by page, in the correct order, and read most of the actual text.  When leading, you are modeling book routine, exposing your child to story structure, and modeling lots of great language.  When Following the Leader, allow your child to lead the interaction and decide what will be discussed.  You may allow him to choose the book he wants to read and even allow him to look at the pages in the order that he prefers.  Allow him to initiate the interaction.  Wait for him to point to a picture that he is interested in, and you can respond by saying something about the picture.  A more verbal child may say something about a picture, and you can model good language by repeating what was said and adding a little something extra to it.  Both Leading and Following can help your child develop communication and early literacy skills.

  1. Use children’s books to inspire your child’s play and art.

Use your child’s favorite books to inspire your play activities and crafts.  This is a popular and effective strategy that has been used by teachers and speech-language pathologists for decades. Using books to inspire play and art gives your child even more opportunities to have fun with books.  It also allows you to discuss the story elements and use the vocabulary from the story multiple times.  This redundancy increases the likelihood that your child will retain the information and vocabulary he learned from the book.

Those are my top 5 tips for helping your child fall in love with reading!  To start getting new, high-quality books for your child each month and more tips like the ones above, join The Story Box today.  We love helping parents and little ones enjoy reading together!

Happy Reading!

Holly

#FeelGood, Contributors, Health, Productivity, Wellness

A 5 Minute Meditation To De-Stress and Be More Productive

June 22, 2016
Meditation

Here’s a 5-minute Mindfresh meditation to de-stress so you can be more productive.  It’s all themed around ‘5’ for easy recall, right when you need it most.

When the mind goes into overdrive, we can’t just tell it to slow down while we figure out where to start.  So, how do we get back to a place where we can actually make a smart plan of attack?  We start working with what’s most accessible first — the body and breath — and then the mind starts to come back into control.

Here’s the key: the body informs the mind and vice versa.  If we focus the energy in our body, we can focus the energy in our mind.  And unlike the mind, we can tell our body to do something and it will respond according to that instruction.

MOVE:  Try this sequence of five Jivamukti Yoga-inspired postures (standing suggested, but seated works, too), taking one deep inhale and exhale in each before moving on to the next one.  This will only take a couple of minutes, so as you move through it, try to harness all of your attention into what your body is doing so it becomes “mindful movement”.  Your breath and your body are your focal points – everything else is on hold, for just five minutes.

BREATHE:  After you’ve finished the Mindfresh 5 Sequence, have a seat, place the palms face up on the thighs + gently close your eyes.  Although eyes are closed, bring your attention to the tip of your nose, watching the breath come in and out through the nostrils.   Take one deep inhale and one deep exhale.  Then, begin five rounds of what is called “sama vritti”, or equal parts inhale and exhale to the count of five.  Silently count, “in 2, 3, 4, 5; out, 2, 3, 4, 5.”  After the fifth round, allow the breath to return to its natural rhythm and pace while keeping the eyes closed for a few more moments.  Notice any difference in the body and mind – hopefully, there’s a sense of clarity and calm that wasn’t there before.

We end by flipping the palms down, taking one deep inhale and one deep exhale + standing up.  We make ourselves tall + expansive by reaching up + then bring palms together to touch in front of the chest.  Connecting the base of the thumbs with the sternum has a calming effect on the nervous system.  The gesture of evenly pressing right hand into left symbolizes balance.

 

Mind is now fresh.  Go conquer.       

 

POSTURE INSTRUCTIONS:

POSTURE 1:  Extend the arms straight out in front of you with palms facing each other.  Interlace the fingers + then flip the palms away from you.  Focus on opening up the wrists + knuckles, while drawing the shoulders back into their sockets.  One deep inhale + exhale.

Meditation

POSTURE 2:  Keeping the fingers interlaced, extend the arms up alongside the ears with palms facing toward the ceiling.  Drop the shoulders to create as much space as possible between the ears and the shoulders.  Feel the collarbones expanding while the shoulders are opening.  One deep inhale + exhale.

Meditation

POSTURE 3 (pt. 1):  Keeping fingers interlaced + arms reaching up, press into both feet and lean over to the left.  Notice the right side of the body lengthening.  One deep inhale + exhale.  Then, bring the body upright with arms reaching toward the ceiling.

Meditation

POSTURE 3 (pt. 2):  Pressing into both feet, lean over to the right + bring the attention to the left side of the body becoming more spacious with the stretch.  One deep inhale + exhale.  Come back to the center with arms reaching up.

Meditation

POSTURE 4:  Bend the elbows and place your interlaced hands behind the head.  Once again, relax the shoulders.  Open your elbows wide apart.   Focus on expanding across the front of the chest + collarbones.  One deep inhale + exhale.  Lower the arms alongside the body.

Meditation

Posture 5:  Take the arms behind you + interlace the fingers.  Draw the knuckles down towards the floor and notice the front of the chest opening as the shoulders draw back and towards each other.  Extend the arms a few inches away from the torso, but keep the tailbone drawing down and the chin at a neutral level.  One deep inhale + exhale.

Meditation

 

For more on Jen check out her member profile here. For more meditation and refresh tips check out Mindfresh.