You have to leave your comfort zone to grow. Your comfort zone might be cozy and nice, but eventually it will get stale and boring. This greeting card from My Heart Beats will encourage someone to leave her comfort zone.
When we lived in a rural area, we had a large backyard. It was bordered by a neighbor, woods and an open field. When we got our Labrador, we needed to figure out how to keep her contained. It would have been very expensive to put up a physical fence, so we went with the invisible fence option.
When the fence was installed, they her collar on her and had her walk across the fencing. She yelped, they put her back in the yard, and she never tried to cross it again. She loved to wander all over the yard and smell stuff. She'd chase a ball as many times as someone would throw it or until it was thrown beyond the fence. When deer strolled through the yard, she would run after them but always stopped short of the property line.
Out of curiosity, I held her collar and walked across the fence. That system is no joke. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. If I knew that pain was on the other side of my yard, I wouldn't leave it either.
But what my dog didn't know is that the pain is temporary. It only happened for a moment. The moment she crossed the line. The pain stopped as soon as she turned back OR as soon as she kept going. If she would have moved forward, she would have been able to experience wonderful smells of the open field. She probably would have found delicious treats under the neighbor's swing set. She may have even discovered the river on the other side of the woods and all the wonders that it holds for a Labrador.
The good news for you is that leaving your comfort zone probably won't require a heart-attack-inducing pain. Oh, there will be pain, but you won't die. And the even better news is that every time you leave, your comfort zone gets bigger and bigger and the pain gets smaller and smaller. You might have good stuff in your backyard, but I promise you that you will discover a whole new world the more you venture out.
The story on the back of the She is . . . Comfort Zone Card.
What used to feel cozy and familiar now felt stifling and dull. Yet each time she stepped beyond her boundaries, her heart pounded through her chest. At first it was from fear, but the more she ventured out, the more she realized the pounding was actually from the thrill of new adventures. Exciting things happen outside her comfort zone.
Celebrate every day,
Even though I had already published over 40 cards, creating the She is . . . Collection was a learning curve. I didn't know about CMYK or bleed or how to package digital files to send to the printer. My printer in Virginia adjusted the files for me. My new printer in California gave me unexpected, but appreciated, lessons on how to do all of that.
The She is . . . cards were designed in a landscape orientation. A year later, as we started approaching stores to carry the line, we learned that stores like portrait orientations because of their display racks. Who knew. So, I redid the whole collection, and that's what we sell individually.
When I first started writing the stories, I wasn't thinking in terms of a collection. I was just writing about She, the typical direct sales emerging leader. But, I quickly saw how the stories were naturally falling into a collection format which made writing easier. Now I do almost all the cards in a collection format.
The collection was designed to cover all the direct seller's note-writing reasons without being reason-specific so that anyone can use them for all of life's note-writing moments. Thank yous to customers, guests and hostesses. Welcomes, congratulations, encouragement and celebrations to team members. A leader could buy a pack a month and be able to cover her team for the month, or she could buy a pack for each team member and have cards for a whole year (which is why there are 12 cards in a pack).
So once I had a full collection, I needed something to put them in. A lot of direct sellers work their businesses in the nooks and crannies of their lives, so the container had to be something that is portable and sturdy and protective of the cards. I got out my scrapbooking card stock and started cutting and scoring, and eventually the Handy Dandy Folder was created.
The new cards still have many of the same elements as the original designs. They have a backstory, a bottom line and a heartbeat. And with the exception of The Happy Mail Collection, I'm still using the formula. Each collection has it's own look in terms of design whether it is the medium (chalk art, watercolor) or the palette.
We went to Hawaii for a business trip the day after I launched the She is . . . Collection. I wanted to celebrate the launch, but didn't have time to plan anything. For some reason we switched hotel rooms. When the bellman moved us into the new room, the first thing we noticed was a bottle of champagne on ice. I told him we didn't order that, and his response was, "well, it's yours if you want it." I like to think that God sent it to help us celebrate. It was delicious.
Celebrate every day,
When you think back on your life, you remember the every day moments more than you recall the formal celebrations.I bet when you think about your girlfriends from high school, you recall more memories of sleepovers, trips to the mall, hanging around the pool and lunchroom conversations than you do of birthdays and graduation.
The first cards were created as a tool to celebrate every day (which became the tagline). The original cards are 5" x 7" because I wanted the envelopes to be big enough so that 4 x 6 pictures could be included without being cut. Back then film was still dominate. We took our rolls of 24-exposure film to a photo counter at a store, and one hour later, we picket up doubles of every picture so that we could share them.
Each card has a "backstory". Sometimes it's funny; sometimes it's sweet. It is always about every day things rather than milestones or traditional card-giving moments. Writing the backstories was good training for Twitter. I had to tell a whole story using as few words as possible. No emojis and no abbreviations.
The hero of every story is She. She has victories and setbacks. She is fun and thoughtful. She is smart and silly. Sometimes she is overwhelmed and sometimes she is underappreciated. She is brave and cautious. She is you and your best friends.
The message on the front of the card is the "bottom line" from the story. It's the last sentence of the backstory. Sometimes this was the first thing that I wrote, and I'd build a story around it.
The image is a "snapshot" from the story. This was always created after the story was written. I'd draw the people first and then build the scene and objects with the scrapbooking software using shapes.
And the "heartbeat" is the emotion of the card. The heart is from the logo. The name My Heart Beats has two origins. The first is to celebrate that our lives our made up of little moments strung together - heartbeats. The second celebrates the things that makes our hearts beat.
Celebrate every day,
In the midst of focusing on this new direct sales business, we sold our house.
Before we moved across the country, I made a final trip to the outlet mall to buy every note card set they had. Literally, every one. I wasn't taking the chance that I couldn't get note cards in California, and I believed that those cards were magic. I even put a few sets in the car for the trip across country.
At the end of the year, my coaching contract ended, and I went back to working with just my team. The home office decided that it wasn't going to support the field with a dedicated coach, and as you imagine, the rest of the field started to fall apart and eventually the company closed its doors.
Several people left to go to other companies. I went to a jewelry company that told stories with its jewelry and wall art. Within a year, I promoted to leadership and earned the incentive trip. But I was missing the creative aspect of the business. The company was mature enough that it offered lots of training and support. I just needed to guide my team and do individual coaching.
Tucked into storage spaces throughout our new house, packed in the same boxes I used when I transformed the office/studio/warehouse into the princess suite, were My Heart Beats cards. I dug them out, and started opening the boxes. "Hello old friend" was the phrase that kept coming to my mind.
I relaunched the website and started to regroup and rethink. I had about 40 designs to help women celebrate every day, but how would direct sellers use them to grow their businesses? They needed something else.
I started writing again. Telling stories about She, but putting her into the role of a direct seller. Pushing past fear. Getting out of her head. Pursuing her goals. Being a rock star. It's hard to illustrate those scenes, so I played around with chalkboard lettering. And soon, the first official collection of My Heart Beats was created. She is. . .
Celebrate every day,
We were living in Northern Virginia when I started My Heart Beats, and its office, studio and warehouse were all in the same room. It was the bonus room on the 2nd floor of our house. It was convenient and easy until we put the house on the market to prepare for our move to the West Coast.
We did this in 2012 when the real estate market was at the bottom. There were lots of foreclosures and short sales. On top of that, our house was custom and unique. It was a large house in a rural neighborhood without amenities or an HOA (one of the many reasons we loved it) not far from a gated country club community with all the bells and whistles. Most buyers wanted a more traditional neighborhood. We built the house thinking we'd live in it forever. But eventually our longing to be by the beach and desire for a slower-paced life lead us to the decision to move to Southern California.
So we have a unique house in a tough market, and we discovered quickly that buyers don't have much imagination. They saw an office/studio/warehouse and not what could be a large bedroom or bonus room or playroom. I wanted to move, and I was willing to put My Heart Beats on hold temporarily to achieve that goal. So I packed it all up, found a cute bedroom set on Craig's list and the office/studio/warehouse suddenly became the princess suite.
A long 12 months later, our house sold along with the princess' furniture.
In the meantime, I unexpectedly came across a small direct sales company with a product that helped people tell stories on their walls. I had been missing the direct sales world, and I signed up in the middle of October. By the end of the year, I earned a spot to attend the leadership conference and was #2 in sales for the year (like I said it small).
Shortly after the leadership conference, the corporate office offered me a contract to train and coach the field. So I had a dual role of being in the field and training the field, including my uplines. I loved it. I got to use my training as a special ed. teacher to work individually with women in group settings. I helped the field become a community and grow.
I treated the field like they were my personal team. And although everyone had at least one email address that was checked all throughout the day and social media was in full swing, I still wrote handwritten notes to everyone. Once again I wrote notes to customers and to hostesses. I wrote notes to my team, the women I coached and the women I shared the business opportunity with. It was one of my cornerstone business habits.
Celebrate every day,
So, I left a successful direct sales business and took some time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I am the kind of person who needs to work and to do something creative. And although teaching fulfilled both of those needs, that wasn't a consideration. After more than 10 years of being my own boss, it would be too hard to go back to the classroom where I couldn't even go to the bathroom when I wanted.
My mom sent me a newspaper article about a woman who started a greeting card about young moms (she actually cut it out of the newspaper and mailed it via snail mail - I'm surprised I didn't save it because you know, I'm a scrapbooker at heart). At the same time, a girlfriend sent me a card that spoke to my situation without being cutsy or sappy. And I started to think . . .
I'm a storyteller. It's how I scrapbook. It's how I send Christmas cards. It's how I celebrate. So I started drafting stories about women. The stories were snapshots of every day things. Some are directly from my life and some are inspired from conversations I eavesdropped on.
I'm not an artist, but I am creative. I figured out how to draw a person so that she looked like a person, and then I got out my scrapbooking software and built backgrounds by putting together shapes. I found a local printer, got a college kid to build a website and launched the first batch of .
We just re-released these cards that get packed and unpacked with every move. And they are on sale.
Celebrate every day,
About 8 years into my career, one of my friends told me she started a business teaching scrapbooking classes in people's homes. I hosted one of these classes and learned that I could do it too because it was a direct sales company. At the time, I thought there were just 2 direct sales companies - Tupperware and Avon. I had no idea that I could buy pretty much anything I wanted from direct sales companies.
I bought the start up kit and figured that I'd do a party here and there, stock up on a lifetime of supplies and quit in a couple of years. I had no idea how big and diverse and wonderful the direct sales world was. A couple of years later I did quit, but it was my teaching job that I left.
I built my Creative Memories business to the point where I was consistently in the top 1% of the company, earned lots of incentive trips, and most importantly, made lifetime connections and friends. I had a large customer base and a productive team. I attribute that to providing excellent customer service, staying connected to my team and to writing a lot of notes.
Back then, not everyone had email, and some people only checked their emails every now and then (which doesn't mean every other hour like it does today). So, I wrote handwritten notes. I wrote thank you notes to party guests whether they purchased or not. I wrote thank you notes to hostesses when they booked and after they had their parties. I wrote woo hoo notes to team members when they did something right and boo hoo notes when things didn't go right.for them.
I loved my business. Until I didn't. Maybe it was the economy of 2008, changes in the company and the scrapbooking industry or the fact that we were gearing up for a cross-country move and our girls were leaving the nest. But I knew it was time for me to transition out of my business.
Celebrate every day,