Workspace Tour

Every now and then I get asked about my workspace – how it looks, what I do to keep my inventory and shipping materials organized – and I’m excited to give you a little tour of my workspace.

My husband and I live in a two bedroom apartment in a Minneapolis suburb. We originally wanted a two bedroom apartment because we were both working musicians (and still are to a smaller degree) and needed a space to keep our instruments and amps. After my small, hand lettering side-hustle became my full-time job, I slowly took over the space and it’s now more of a general creative space. Luke still has a desk and a few instruments set up, but our second bedroom is mostly dedicated to my shop LaurenIbachLettering on Etsy.

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When you walk into the room, to your right, you’ll find what I call “my happy place.” I’ve got a tall desk I can stand in front of, packaging orders, or I can work for hours, sitting in my comfy bar stool I found brand new at Goodwill for $30.

Under my desk, I keep my pop-up inventory and on the shelves next to my desk, I keep my shipping materials and top selling items so they’re close by when I’m packaging orders to be shipped.

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This is my daily view. I’ve got a few pieces hung that inspire me and make me happy when I look at them and only my essentials on the desk top: my label printer for shipping labels, a cup of pens, pencils, and scissors, and my shipping scale (and a candle when I wanna feel extra cozy).

To the left are plastic drawers with stamps, packing tape, and shipping inserts for convenient access, and as we move further left on that shelf, I’ll show you what else I keep there.

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This is the full shelf next to my desk and I’ll explain what’s on each shelf from top to bottom. On the highest shelf, I have extra brown paper bags I use for shipping most orders, labels, foiling supplies for making foiled prints (I make all of mine in-house!), and my paper cutter. These are not every day items, so it makes sense for me to keep them up high.

On the next shelf I keep book boxes and a couple random things and on the middle shelf I keep photo document mailers (for shipping individual prints) and bubble mailers of various sizes. And again, the plastic drawers contain some of my smaller must-have shipping supplies.

On the shelf second from the bottom, I have more plastic drawers filled with Be Kind enamel pins (my top selling pin design), I have small bins that contain my prints and keep them clean, and on the right, I have a stack of Ephesians devotionals. I like keeping a few books stacked on the shelf at all times, because it’s easier than pulling them out of a box every time I need to ship one (I’ll show you were I keep the rest of the books in the next photo).

And, on the bottom shelf, I keep my foiling machine, files (gotta stay organized!), and Romans devotionals. To the left of the shelf, I have my laser printer (a foiled print making necessity!) and additional inventory, paper for my prints, and pin packaging supplies below.

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Now, if you were to turn 180 degrees, you’ll find on the opposite wall another shelf with a whole lot of brown. These boxes contain more inventory I didn’t have room for on the other shelf – more enamel pins, notepads, calendars, mugs, books (mostly books! they take up a lot of space!) – and extra shipping materials.

And, as you can see, this is much more of a shared space with Luke – his amp is under the window and so are a few guitars, and to the left of the shelf is our inkjet printer (I don’t use this for prints. All my regular prints are outsourced at the moment.), Luke’s desk is next to that, and his MIDI keyboard juts out into the middle of the room a bit.

Anyway…

That’s my workspace! It’s definitely not Pinterest worthy by any means, but I love it. I know so many creatives work from their living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms (believe me, not too long ago, I was there too!), so I am grateful every day for this creative space I get to work from.

Thanks for taking my little “tour.” I hope you got some workspace inspiration! If you have any specific questions about manufacturing, shipping, or anything else, definitely go check out my FAQs. If you’d like to be notified about future blog posts, please join my mailing list. I’d love to welcome you into my email community and stay in touch with you a little more frequently!

❤ Lauren

November Wins & Learns

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I hope you had a great Thanksgiving (to all my American friends!) and an exciting start to the holiday season. I love this time of year – the craziness, the rare quiet moments, the shopping, the festive decorations, music, and parties… and we’re just getting started!

November was a big month for LaurenIbachLettering and I’m excited to share some big wins with you and one big learning experience.

Wins

Winter Wonderland Event

To kick off November, I had my second art fair experience as a vendor! This was a two day show and quite a bit slower than the show I did in October, but I was still so pleased with how it went! I met so many great folks from my social media community, church community (the church Luke and I work at/attend was very close by as well), and some of the sweetest vendors! I love doing art fairs because I love connecting with people face-to-face, which honestly surprises me, being the introverted homebody that I am. 😉 Thanks to all who came out!

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Thanksgiving Weekend / 1,000 Etsy Sales

Thanksgiving was great! Luke and I spent the day with his side of the family and it was just the immediate family, so it was a very intimate, relaxing gathering. So so good. ❤ After Thanksgiving, came my biggest sale of the year! I decided to offer free shipping Black Friday through Cyber Monday and it was so fun to see the orders come in and find out what you all are most excited about! The top selling items were: custom address stamps, Be Kind pins, and ornaments (which were a very last minute addition to the shop)! There were also a fair amount of you who ordered my new book Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional, limited edition 2019 wall calendars, prints, and even a few mugs!

To add to all the weekend excitement, my Etsy shop hit 1,000 sales on Small Business Saturday! I set a good, great, and amazing goal for how many sales I hoped to get this year and 1,000 was that amazing, seemingly unattainable goal. And, I hit it more than a month before the end of the year! Reaching this goal was like having a dream come true and I honestly still can’t believe people from all over the country (and world!) choose to shop at LaurenIbachLettering daily. Words can’t fully express my gratitude. I praise God for His faithfulness – answering my many prayers and keeping me motivated when things got challenging – and of course thank you SO MUCH to all who purchased something from my shop, shared about a product, left a positive review, and/or offered their own creative gifts and services to help me grow my business this year!

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Learns

I have one big learn from the month and it has to do with goal planning and expectations.

For the past several months, I had a number in mind of how much I wanted to make this month. It seemed like a lofty goal, but not totally out of the question. Before I go any further into money talk, I want to make sure I clarify I am not in this for the money. I doubt anybody who starts an Etsy shop is in it to become rich and famous for their creations (although that would be pretty cool!), but with my husband in school full-time and unable to work a full-time job along with that due to a chronic illness, we really rely on the income from my shop to get the bills paid and it is TIGHT.

So, I had a number in mind. It was gonna be tough to hit, I didn’t know how or if I would, but maybe if I worked hard enough, prayed hard enough, and had a killer marketing plan in place, I’d be able to reach it. Well… I didn’t. And disappointment struck on Black Friday when I started realizing the weekend wasn’t going the way I hoped or planned. I am just going to be real honest here, I was pretty down. Lots of sales were still coming in, but I was pretty wrapped up in my huge expectations not being met.

Saturday night (Small Business Saturday), when Luke got home from work, we headed out to dinner and he asked, “How were sales today?” I responded with something like, “Good, but I’m just disappointed. It’s not going the way I had hoped. I just wanna feel like I’ve ‘made it.'” His next words were exactly what I needed to hear to snap out of it. They were something like this: “What would make you feel like you’ve ‘made it’? Because the way I see it is it’s rare that you go a day without at least one sale, you’re not selling anything that people really need in order to survive… people are spending their hard earned money on what you make daily simply because they like it or feel some kind of connection to what you do. That’s pretty cool and that seems like ‘making it’ to me.”

Was that not the greatest pep-talk in the world or what?? Luke doesn’t always get it. Sometimes I get so frustrated when I try to explain to him what I’ve been up to during the day and he’s totally lost, but this showed me he gets the big picture. And he gets it way more than I do. His words turned my stress into peace and my disappointment into gratitude. He put it all into perspective.

The lesson I learned? Goals are good, expectations can be dangerous. Next year, I’m going to be better about making those good, great, and amazing goals like I did with my Etsy sales this year. I’m not going to stop dreaming big, but I am going to start working on keeping those expectations in check. Like with the art fair – I had no expectations, but I did have an educated guess of how the weekend would turn out. I had a goal, but not an expectation. Does that make sense? It served as a motivator, but I wasn’t going to feel like a failure if I didn’t make it.

What I also learned? When expectations aren’t met, disappointment sets in and it’s hard to be grateful. Thanksgiving weekend was a great success for my shop, but if Luke hadn’t put things back into perspective for me, I would have missed it simply because of an unmet expectation.

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Anyway…

I still have a lot of processing to do, so I hope that wasn’t too confusing or rambly. It’s my hope that these Wins and Learns posts wouldn’t just serve as a way for me to reflect, but that you would be able to celebrate and learn with me and reflect on your own wins and learns regularly.

I’d love to hear about something you’re celebrating or learning yourself, or maybe even something that stood out to you in this post! So, leave a comment and let’s chat! If you would like to be notified about future blog posts and shop updates in the future, please join my mailing list! I’d love to keep in touch with you that way. 🙂

❤ Lauren

 

Christmas Gift Guide 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! However, it can be hard to find the perfect gifts for each of your loved ones. I would love to help make Christmas shopping a little easier this year, so I’ve put together a list with some of the items from my shop. I think you’ll be able to find the right gift for at least a couple people in your life!


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Books + Bookmarks

I just released my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional in October and I would love to send it home to you to keep for yourself or give to loved ones! My Romans devotional is also a great gift, but whether you choose one book or the other or both, you should definitely add a bookmark to your order for just $1.50! These books are a great gift for seasoned Bible studiers or those approaching the Bible for the first time. (Click their individual listings on Etsy to see previews of each book.)

The perfect gift for: students, adults, parents, grandparents, Bible study group members and leaders
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Calendar + Have Faith Pin

I have only printed a small number of these calendars, so you’re definitely going to want to get your orders in before they sell out! They contain 12 colorful Bible verses and prayers to remind you of who God is throughout the year. And if you’re looking for something to go with the calendar, add a Have Faith pin to your order! I’ve linked one color, but they come in four different colors, so you might want to do some browsing HERE first! Whatever pin color you choose, you can’t go wrong with the combination of something to display and something to wear.

The perfect gift for: students, adults, gal pals, moms, Bible study group members and leaders
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Custom Address Stamps

This is the perfect gift for so many and I’m thrilled to now offer seven designs! Prices range from $26.95-$48.95 and they vary based on design and stamp type: wood mounted with or without a handle and self-inking. (Click HERE to browse on Etsy).

All stamp orders must be placed by December 1 for Christmas delivery!

The perfect gift for: parents, grandparents, newlyweds, newly engaged couples, new homeowners.
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Mug + Print + Print Stand

Have any coffee lovers in your life?? If you want to go beyond the usual coffee shop gift card, consider ordering one of my 15oz mugs (dishwasher and microwave safe)! If the mug isn’t enough to satisfy your caffeine-loving friends, pick up one of my “Caffeinated” prints and a print stand to display it on. Your friends will love having a silly quote to display next to their coffee maker of choice. 😉

The perfect gift for: students, young adults, moms, baristas, teachers
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Notepad + Do Good Pin

Notepads have been one of my top-selling items at local fairs! We all have busy schedules and so much to keep track of throughout the day – why not make list making a little prettier? And to better encourage your loved ones to keep doing good in the lives of those around them, add a Do Good pin! Both will make perfect stocking stuffers!

The perfect gift for: students, young adults, moms, teachers
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Enamel Pins + Display Banners

Enamel pins have really taken the world by storm over the past year! Once you buy your first, it’s hard not to start collecting them… they’re just so cute! That’s why my mama and I made a bunch of these small pin display banners. It’s so fun to display our pretty pins when we’re not wearing them. (For more pin style inspiration, visit this blog post // Click HERE to browse pins on Etsy.)

The perfect gift for: students, young adults, moms, baristas, daycare providers, teachers, sales associates, Bible study group members and leaders… the list goes on!
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Ornaments

And of course, you can’t go wrong with this classic gift: Ornaments! You can choose between wood engraved (pictured) or gold or silver acrylic if you’re feeling extra fancy. 😉

The perfect gift for: family members, friends, teachers, daycare providers, co-workers… the list goes on!
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Anyway…

Those are just a handful of ideas fo you, but be sure to go do some browsing and mixing and matching of your own at my shop: LaurenIbachLettering on Etsy! Be sure to get on my mailing list to be the first to hear about holiday deals and get Christmas order deadline reminders (See below for more info).

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October Wins & Learns

 

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This post contains affiliate links.

What an encouraging month it has been! I am most certainly entering into the busy season and I’m reminded once again how things really do start picking up this time of year. I have a lot to celebrate, so let’s jump right in!

Wins

Two-year shop anniversary / 900 Etsy sales

That’s right! My Etsy shop, LaurenIbachLettering, now two years old, reached the 900 sale mark. Reaching that number at my two-year anniversary of opening my shop and the one-year anniversary of running it full-time, caused me to sit back and reflect on my growth over the past 12 months alone and as I shared in this post from a couple weeks ago, I am in awe of how much I have grown, yet how slow that growth has felt. I’m walking into the next year with a much more positive mindset than I’ve had over the past few months.

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My first art fair

I did my first art fair! I had no idea what to expect. I went in with very few expectations. I had a sales number in mind I hoped to hit, but really I was just treating it as a learning experience whether I hit my goals or not. I’m so happy to say the day exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams for the day! Financially and socially… I’m an introvert, so I really expected to be exhausted after the seven-hours the fair ran, but I was totally wired after! So many people in my community came. I connected with quite a few people I hadn’t before and reconnected with many I do know on a more personal level. Words cannot express my gratitude for everyone who came and exceeding my financial goals was the cherry on top of an already amazing experience.

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I released my second book

After about two months of pre-orders, I finally got to officially release my brand new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional! So many of you have already ordered books and have started sharing about the book on Instagram and again, I could never fully express my gratitude for each and every one of you. As the big social media platforms grow, the algorithms continue to change, and it becomes more and more challenging to reach people organically. I get so excited when other people share about my book, because I can only do so much on my own and YOU can reach more people just by sharing to your feed than I probably ever could with an ad in my budget. Thank you so so much for helping me reach people outside of my community!

Learns

Font making

I hesitate to chat about this out of my fear of confusing some people, but I’m learning to create fonts! But wait, don’t I already have fonts?? Well, not technically. I hand letter in different “styles” I’ve developed over time, but what I mean by “fonts” is I am actually creating fonts that I can use on the computer just like I would with any computer font like Times New Roman!

My friend Kiley told me about a great Skillshare course she took by Peggy Dean of The Pigeon Letters. I created a serif font that I am now using on my new Peterson stamp design and I’m currently in the process of creating a script font that looks similar to my go-to lettering style featured in my Anderson stamp design and a lot of my other work. I am playing around with the idea of selling fonts down the road, but right now I’m still very new to font making and will just be using them on my own in stamp designing and when I need to quick throw together an Instagram story marketing graphic.

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If you are interested in the class I took or learning any new skill, click HERE for two free months of Skillshare!

What the Lord has been teaching me

The past few months have been challenging financially, which led me to a really intense few weeks of prayer and seeking answers from God about what my next move should be. I shared in this post that my husband Luke is in school full-time through May and because of a chronic illness, he can’t work full-time while he’s in school. So, we are mostly relying on my income to carry us through the next seven months. There were moments I asked God about whether or not I need to get another job… I asked Him whether I should schedule more workshops to make some additional income… I asked for clarity in every answer to every prayer and was so afraid I wouldn’t hear the Lord’s answers or be sure of where He was leading me and He surprised me with His answers, timing, and clarity.

The Lord brought forth some new opportunities within my business that lead me to believe He doesn’t want me to find another job right now. It’s not just a feeling I have. His timing in answering some of these prayers has made it so clear. I would go into it more, but that’s a whole other blog post, so I’ll just share this story:

I had some workshop dates in mind and told one of the owners at Smith (where I frequently host my workshops) that I would get back to him on Monday. I was still waiting on God to tell me if I should be pursuing workshops and didn’t want to move until he made it clear. Monday came and went… nothing. All day Tuesday, I kept thinking, “I need to text Alex about booking those dates,” but I kept thinking of it at inconvenient times and ended up forgetting to text him. That evening, I got a phone call from a friend whose friend was looking for someone to host a hand lettering workshop at a private church event… on one of the dates I was already hoping to book a workshop… AND they wanted me for Bible lettering which I really wanted to do more than my Beginner Brush Lettering class. It was so perfect and it really only could have been God who orchestrated that and as I write this, I’m reminded of what I heard in the lecture at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) last week:

There are no coincidences, only God incidents.

Things have really turned around financially this past month and when things feel much more certain as they do right now, I tend to lean on the Lord less, because I feel more in control. But, really, I want to constantly be leaning on Christ through the ups and the downs and the wins and the learns. So, this is what I’m continuing to focus on:

  • God’s Word is ALWAYS true, my feelings aren’t. Trust HIM, not myself.
  • Pray for God’s clear leading and follow, instead of doing whatever I want and praying for His blessing after.
  • God knows what’s best for me and sometimes waiting is what’s best for me. His timing is perfect.
  • God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

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Anyway…

Thanks again for joining me on the blog today! As always, I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment if you connected with anything I talked about today. I would love for these posts to be a place where great conversations start and not just a place for me to talk at you. 😉

And of course, if you want to get more connected and be notified about future blog posts, join my mailing list. There will be so many fun things I’ll be sharing there during the upcoming holiday season!

❤ Lauren

The Truth Behind Running An Etsy Shop

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My Etsy shop has been open for about two years, but this month marks my one year anniversary of quitting my day job to do hand lettering and run my shop full time. Last month was also my three year “calligraversary” of when I started practicing modern calligraphy and hand lettering. Clearly I like to take on new creative ventures in the fall, so I figured now would be the perfect time to share my journey over the past year.

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Upper left: one week of brush lettering | Upper right: one year | Lower left: two years | Lower right: three years

If you’re new to my community, I recommend reading this post from a year ago, where I share my journey from hobby, to side hustle, to full-time hand lettering artist and Etsy shop owner. But, what I really want to do today is celebrate, reflect on the past year, and share the truth behind running an Etsy shop – the positives, the negatives, and everything in between.

The big wins

A year ago I had about 30 Etsy sales, had maybe a dozen prints listed in my shop, and was getting ready to officially launch my first self-published book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional. A year later, a lot of prayer, hard work, the help of good friends, and crazy amounts of God’s grace later, I have about 900 Etsy sales, hundreds of sales from Creative Market and other local pop-ups, over 50 different products listed in my shop, and I’m getting ready to officially launch my second self-published book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional on October 22, 2018!

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Looking back, it has been an amazing year of growth. I am so thankful for all of it and I’ve achieved so much of what I set out to do this year. But, if I only celebrated those great accomplishments, I would be leaving out the whole story, which to me, is way more important than just sharing the outcome of this first year in business full-time.

If I didn’t share about the obstacles, I’m afraid I’d give the impression that everything just fell into place on its own and that with a little bit of hard work, I made it happen. I love my job and there is nothing I’d rather be doing than what I’m doing right now, but it was a lot more than a little hard work to get to where I am today.

The truth

The truth is, running an Etsy shop full-time has been a blast! Also the truth? Running an Etsy shop full-time has been more of a challenge than I ever thought possible.

You can go back and read wins from any of my past “Wins & Learns” blog posts, but I am going to focus on some of the obstacles I’ve come across running an Etsy shop for the rest of this post, not because I’m super negative about the Etsy life (quite the opposite!), but because I personally crave more honesty from other people I look up to in the creative business world and I want to be that honest voice for others.

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My struggles

I quit my day job a year ago knowing that growth would come slowly in my business, that not every month would be better than the last, that summers would be slow, and that I would need to be very mindful with my money to be able to pay myself each month. I knew that going into it, but it’s one thing to have multiple people tell you what to expect and it’s another to experience it all on your own for the first time.

In the past year, I’ve had more sales than I ever thought possible. As I shared above, I’ve had a tremendous amount of growth in. Writing those numbers down is mind blowing, because lately I’ve been very discouraged with my growth and still don’t feel like I’ve achieved “success” even though I’m beyond most of the goals I had set for myself 12 months ago.

How could I have met so many of my goals and still feel discouraged? I’m realizing that a lot of it has to do with my personal circumstances. When I started working full-time on my own, I didn’t realize my husband would get so sick a few months later that he wouldn’t be able to work and go to school at the same time and that my lettering business would have to be the main source of income to support us. And truthfully, it doesn’t. Aside from the income from my hand lettering business, Luke and I both get paid to lead worship every Sunday and I even took on a small part-time job at a local shop recently. Running my Etsy shop is still my full-time, 40+ hour a week day job, but I spend another 8-10 hours a week leading worship and working at the local shop to make ends meet.

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It’s been difficult and discouraging but I still love and enjoy running an Etsy shop and I am so fortunate to have a supportive husband who often believes in me more than I believe in myself. I still believe this is where God wants me right now and I will continue doing this as long as I know that’s true. I know life won’t always feel like an uphill climb and I am excited to see how my outlook on my business will change once Luke is done with school in May and (Lord willing) will have a fancy job in June. I truly believe I’ll be able to relax more when we aren’t relying so heavily on the income from my shop.

Numbers don’t lie… or do they?

I’ve heard it said, “Numbers don’t lie.” I think that’s true, but with this edit: “Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole story.” Instagram followers and Etsy sales numbers are easy to look at and think, “Wow, that person’s got it all together.” But what you don’t know about is the car accident that totaled the shop owner’s car, the unexpected hospital trip and medical bills, the lost moving van, the emergency trips to the vet, a loss in the family, and the oh so real struggle to just get the bills paid from week to week.

So, if you are working on growing your Instagram account, online shop, or other type of business, don’t put all your happiness and worth in the numbers. Focus on the bigger things: Are you adding something beautiful to the world? Are you doing good in the lives of others? Are you making a positive impact? Are you cultivating a community of kind, honest, inspiring people? Those are the things that really make a difference in the long run. I know kindness doesn’t always get the bills paid, but keep being a positive presence in the lives of others, working hard on your business, and leaning on the Lord in everything you do. You will see fruit.

Anyway…

Happy one-year anniversary to me! And happy making-it-to-the-end-of-this-blog-post to you! 😉 I hope you are encouraged by the parts of my story I shared today. I would love to hear what you connected with most, so don’t be shy! Leave a comment!

I will continue to share the honest truth about my journey in my monthly “Wins & Learns” blog posts and in other posts throughout the year as I feel led. If you want to stay up to date on future blog posts and shop updates, please join my mailing list. I would love to stay connected with you!

Blessings –

❤ Lauren

September Wins & Learns

September

Fall is here the day after Labor Day. None of this September 22nd nonsense! 😉 I love summer, but fall is my favorite and now that I run an online shop, summer has become even less of a favorite. I’ve shared about how slow things got this summer, but fall is filled with lots of hope and possibilities! Since the majority of my products for the rest of the year are designed and ordered, I can start focusing less on spending money and more on reaping the rewards of my hard design work over the past few months – and really the whole year! But, before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to celebrate my wins and reflect on my “learns.”

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Ephesians: Hand Lettered Devotional

My new Ephesians devotional is DONE and the 30-day early bird pre-order covered all my self publishing expenses from August and September, which is exactly what I hoped it would do! I hit my goal the morning of the last day of the pre-order. It was a huge answer to prayer! I’m praising God for providing and I’m so grateful for each one of those customers who purchased copies.

I went to pick up the first 600 books from my printer last week and even though the content has been finished for a couple months, I can finally say the whole thing is officially done since I finally get to hold the book in my hands! I cannot wait to get these books into your hands, so I’ll start shipping out the early bird pre-orders in a week or two. I’ll open up pre-orders again around the same time and the book will officially be released to my shop October 22nd!

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Fall Launch

The majority of September revolved around my big fall launch. I released four new items a week for the first three weeks of the month and listing those products to my shop, posting about them all over social media, scheduling emails to my mailing list, and shipping those new products out kept me pretty busy! I’m thankful I can say I’m starting to see things pick up again and I’m ready to see what more lies ahead as we walk further into fall and, before you know it, into the holiday season!

Here are just a few of the new items! Head on over to LaurenIbachLettering on Etsy to see all the newbies!

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Pottery Barn Event

Pottery Barn at the Galleria in Edina, MN hosted me for a pop-up event for the fourth time! I am so grateful for them and love that I now feel like I have this sweet Pottery Barn family. It was mostly a learning experience this time around – I’ll chat more about that in a bit – but I did want to share a story that made my heart so happy. ❤

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A couple came in with their two young girls and passed by my table. The mom was on a mission for something, but the dad and two girls hung around by my table. I asked the girls if they like art and the older of the two proceeded to tell me about how she likes to color. (So sweet!) The dad started pointing out my pins to the girls and then he ended up picking up one of my wood engraved banners that reads, “You can do anything you put your mind to,” turned to his girls and said, “This is what I always tell you!”

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My heart leapt! I shared with him that I designed that banner because my dad tells me the exact same thing. He ended up letting each of the girls pick out one thing from my table and the youngest went for the rose gold Do Good pin for her backpack and the oldest chose the banner for her room. ❤

Being “on” at events for several hours is hard for me, but it’s moments like those that make it all worth it. I love connecting with people and hearing stories about why certain phrases or Bible verses I letter carry special meaning for them.

These wood banners are almost sold out and won’t be restocked, so pick one up today if you want one!

Learns

Pottery Barn Event

I learned a big lesson at this event: Just because you’ve done this before and your shop has grown, does not mean you will do better than the last time… or even the first time! It’s true. This was my least profitable event to date. Thankfully, I think it was just the day. It was 95 degrees outside, it seemed like people were just coming into the Galleria to escape the heat – not a lot of serious shoppers. When I shared my low sales numbers with one of the managers, she said, “sounds just like the kind of day we’re having!” and the other pop-up guest didn’t even have a single sale in the five hours we were there. On one hand I was really bummed about the flop of an event (still kinda am to be honest!), but on the other hand, the Lord heard my prayers and had favor on me, blessing me with a few sales. I could have walked away with nothing. That day was a lesson on shifting my focus to what I was given, when my natural inclination was to dwell on what I felt I missed out on.

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Just… life!

I’ve shared a little on social media about how I’m in a challenging season of wrestling with God and there being a lot of unknowns right now. Some of this has to do with my business, but another big part of it has to do with my family and my own personal battles. The root of all of it? Fear. Fear that my shop will never grow past where it is now, fear about my husband’s health (read this post if you need some context), fear that God won’t answer all my prayers, and that He will let me down.

As I write this I’m reminded of the worship song “King of My Heart” by John Mark and Sarah McMillan. The bridge lyrics are: “You’re never gonna let me down.” I believe that. He will not let us down because He knows what’s best for us. I do feel let down at the moment, but something the Holy Spirit is teaching me is my feelings are not always true. God’s word is ALWAYS true. That is what this feelings-led girl is learning to place her trust in. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it!

Scripture I’m currently clinging to: Philippians 4:19Isaiah 40:31, and Psalm 34:4

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The verse above is now available at my shop as an original watercolor 5×7 or 8×10 piece or as a 5×7 print!

Anyway…

Thanks for joining me here on the blog today! If these monthly “Wins & Learns” posts encourage you in any way, please leave a comment, join my mailing list for future updates, and tell your friends to come and spend some time with me here. 😉 If there are other topics you’d like me to cover, let me know! I’m always open to suggestions.

❤ Lauren

Enamel Pin Style Inspiration

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My love for enamel pins has grown so much in the past year. They have become one of my favorite accessories no matter what season. Wherever I go, I usually have a pin somewhere on me – a jacket, a vest, my backpack, a sweater… and I always have the ones I’m not wearing at home on display. I also was curious to know how my social media community was wearing their pins, so I reached out to them and received some great pin style photos from them as well.

Whether you have a collection of enamel pins or just one, I hope you’ll be inspired to start rocking your pins in your day-to-day wardrobe and at home. ❤

Jackets, vests, & sweaters

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Let’s start with an obvious choice: jean jackets! Sturdy fabrics like denim are your best friend when wearing enamel pins. You can place your pins on the collar, but since my hair is currently at a longer length, I like to place my pins off to the side, just above the pocket, so it’s a little more visible. In this photo, I’m wearing my silver Be Kind pin.

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I love these photos submitted by Kiley of @kileyinkentucky and taken by Connie of @januaryjunephotography! Vests are great for the days you want to wear your pins, but it’s a little too warm for a jacket or thick sweater. I also love how Kiley paired the gold Be Kind pin with the rose gold Do Good pin.

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Like Kiley, you can totally mix and match your metals. But, I usually I like to match my pins with each other and the metals on my clothing. I really like how the gold in my gold and white Have Faith pin looks with the brass zipper on my army green vest.

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On extra chilly days, I wear my pins on thick knit sweaters and cardigans. ❤ The gold and black Have Faith pin looks really nice on my charcoal gray cardigan.

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My friend @steenaanne looks so cute with her gold Do Good pin and that cute little fly pin she already had. They look so perfect together on the collar of her vest.

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Wearing a pin on my overalls is probably my #1 go-to. I have two pairs of overalls, so I wear them often and I love how my pins fit perfectly on the strap. It’s a subtle way to say something sweet while you’re out and about! And, the silver and black Have Faith pin looks so good on that dark denim.

Backpacks & Bags

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Since receiving these photos, I’m more inspired to up my pin game on my purses and bags. I only have a few leather purses, as well as a leather tote, and I personally don’t like the idea of poking a hole in my good leather bags (but hey, if you’re braver than me, go for it!), so I thought @rebecca.aimeee‘s solution was genius: stick the pin through one of the buckle holes! I also like how the buckle acts as a frame around the silver Be Kind pin.

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If you’re like Kristin of the @howtofailpodcast and you do have a canvas purse or tote, you can place pins anywhere on the canvas without worrying about doing any permanent damage. Kristin paired the Be Kind and Do Good pins (both in gold) on her tote and I think it’s such a classy look!

Tip: I’ve heard a few people say they struggle to keep their pins in place on bags and backpacks or worry about them falling off. The fabric on bags is often times a bit thicker than clothing and we tend to toss our bags around during the day more than our clothes so a locking clasp can solve that problem. I personally have never had an issue with a standard rubber back, but locking clasps are nice to have if you need a little more reassurance when placing your pins on thick material.

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Candace of @julingtonmarket wears her gold Be Kind pin on her black backpack. Pins are a great way to dress up a simple bag or backpack and this is the perfect example.

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@rcraikr also wears her gold Be Kind pin on her backpack. The white and gold pops on the blue fabric and she picked the perfect spot to place it.

When you’re not wearing your pins…

I don’t wear my pins everyday, but I still like to look at and enjoy them when I’m not wearing them. Instead of storing them in a box or drawer there are a couple other places I keep them:
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Canvas banners work great for displaying enamel pins when you’re not wearing them. I’ve seen larger banners for displaying big collections, but my collection is relatively small, so I made some small pin banners that look great with several pins or just a few.

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One day, while decluttering my desk, I put a few pins on my pen cup and thought they looked so cute, I kept them there until I wore them again. I’m the type of person who likes having verbal reminders throughout the day and the rose gold and white Have Faith pin paired with the gold Do Good pin are the perfect reminder of the importance of having faith and doing good works. ❤

Start rocking your pins!

Ready to add enamel pins to your wardrobe? You can find all my pins at my Etsy shop, as well as pin banners, locking clasps, and of course, many other pretty things. Please send me photos of how you where your pins! Just tag @lauren.ibach and #laurenibachlettering when sharing on Instagram. I always love seeing my pins out and about and continue to get inspired by how others wear them too!

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Other pins pictured:
Gold fly pin: unknown
Heart glasses pin: @justine.gilbuena

August Wins and Learns

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I usually like to wait until the month is over to write these posts, but I’m in the mood to write and reflect today, so here we are. August has been a solid close to the summer and I experienced some big wins, so let’s start there:

Wins

  • I ventured out of the Midwest to visit somewhere I had never been before… Oregon! I left Minneapolis in desperate need of a break and came back ready to get back to work. It was a good breather from all the things I’ve been doing for the shop this summer, getting ready for my big fall launch that starts next week (Yay)!

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  • While I was on vacation, we finished raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation through the sales of Nearly Perfect Pins. When Luke and I got home, we donated $1,040! It was a pretty great feeling. Thanks to all who purchased pins and/or made a donation!

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  • Early Bird Pre-Order for my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotionalopened. I am practically finished with this book! I’m currently working with my printer on some formatting things, they’ll send me a proof for me to approve, and then it’ll be just a week or two after that that I’ll have the first print run in stock! I would love your help covering some of these self-publishing costs, so please consider pre-ordering now through Sept. 19th. I’m offering exclusive perks for you early birds! I’ll send you signed books, free bookmarks, and won’t charge for shipping (that’s right! Free shipping)! I’m still planning on releasing Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional to my Etsy shop the first week of November, but will most likely be shipping books out to the lovely early bird pre-order people early, as well as have it for sale at a local pop-up in October. More incentive to order early if free shipping, bookmarks, and signed copies weren’t enough! 😉

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  • This is a general summer win, but I survived the summer! (Insert happy dance.) Seriously such a big win. Online retail is rough in the summer, but thanks to God’s provision and smart planning, I was able to stay afloat. I’m hopeful for the fall/winter season, but also a little nervous, which leads me to my learns…

Learns

  • I am about 60% hopeful, 40% fearful about the coming season. Business has been slow since May and I haven’t been growing like I was last fall and spring. After chatting with other online small business owners, I’m assured that this is totally normal. But, since things have been slow for about four months, it’s been easy for me to convince myself that I’m actually stuck here. I don’t really think I am deep down, but what if ?? Only God really knows what’s ahead but, I’m hoping for the best. I recently chatted with a friend who introduced me to the writings of Wendell Berry. He often compares life to farming – that there are seasons of harvest and seasons of sowing. I know this truth is all over Scripture, so I also found comfort in similar Bible verses as well. I’ve planted my seeds, tended my crops, and I’m ready for the harvest.

Anyway…

Enjoy your last moments of summer! I know summer technically continues into September, but September = fall in my own little world (and it’s my birthday month!), so I’ll do my thing and you can either join me or hold on tightly to summer as long as you can. Whatever you prefer, I hope we can still be friends. 😉

❤ Lauren

Want to get weekly notifications during my big fall launch?? Join my mailing list! Fall launch starts Sept. 4th and ends Sept. 21st! I’ll be releasing prints, pins, mugs, calendars, notepads, and more! I’d love to share with you what I’ve been working on all summer!

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“Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional” Early Bird Pre-Order

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Early bird pre-order ends September 19!

I’ve been waiting a long time for this day. The day I get to reveal the cover of my second book and open pre-orders! I wrote about this in the intro of Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional and I’ll mention it here: I genuinely didn’t think I would be doing another book like this or even self-publishing again, but here we are! Another book and publishing on my own once again!

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My new book will be very similar to my first book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional. I created intricate handwritten art for each chapter and wrote devotional thoughts, sharing what I learned as I studied each chapter. The book of Ephesians in the Bible has six chapters, so instead of doing one page of art for each chapter, like I did in my Romans devotional, I split each chapter in half (with the exception of chapter six), meaning 11 pages of art and 11 pages of devotional content to accompany each half-chapter.

22 pages didn’t quite make for a long enough book, so I also included a lot more information on my creative process, how to start Bible lettering on your own, and even some fun alphabets, tips, and tricks to inspire you and help you get started! This was something I wished I would have been able to do in my last book, so I’m thankful the Lord gave me the opportunity to include this content in my new, 40-page book!

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I need your help!

Last year, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the self-publishing costs for my first book. 74 people pre-ordered Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional through that campaign, raising $3.6k, which covered the book’s first print run, ordering shipping materials, and some marketing costs. That pre-order campaign was very successful, but when it came to finally shipping the books out, it was much more complicated and expensive than I expected.

So, instead of launching another Kickstarter pre-order for Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional, I decided to launch the pre-order right where I’ll be selling the book when it’s officially released: at my Etsy shop! This will make the shipping process much easier and less expensive so the money can go towards more fun things, like printing more books and getting the word out about this new book I put so much of my heart into!

What’s in it for you?

Those who choose to order anytime between today and September 19th will get some pretty great perks:

  • Free Shipping
  • Free Bookmarks
  • Signed Books

Order today to get the best deal I’ll be offering on my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional. Thanks for helping me finish this project! I can’t wait for you all to see it when it’s officially released November 2018!

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How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday​?

I recently posted the photo below on my Instagram stories, sharing about my brief walk to help manage my anxiety. I asked the question: How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday? And I loved the responses you sent in!

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I’ve also mentioned in recent blog posts that I’ve been struggling with anxiety, so I decided it would be fitting to share the great advice so many of you sent in right here on the blog, instead of on a quick Instagram story that will disappear in 24 hours. This will not only allow me to spend a little more time reflecting on your words of wisdom, but it will also give others the opportunity to stumble upon these words on a later date.

So one more time – here’s the question:

How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday?

Your answers:

  • “Walked away from my computer and did a smaller task that would make me feel accomplished”
  • “Really listening to myself and learning what I need for myself mentally”
  • “Watch Vines or go somewhere by myself”
  • “I listen to ASMR videos on YouTube!”
  • “Lunch breaks away from the office!”
  • “Being outside or at least in a different environment helps me.”
  • “Start the day with scripture, prayer throughout, and counsel of good friends.”
  • “Softly playing Jesus music with my headphones! Works well when I can’t be away.”
  • “Walks are huge for me and I also sneak away into a cozy meeting room and read!”
  • “Devotionals about anxiety and fear really help me put myself in check.”
  • “Don’t just drink coffee. Do pour over. The ritual helps.”
  • “Visit with friends.”
  • “Lay on the floor with my palms up, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing.”
  • “Walk with the dogs. Helps every time.”
  • “I love watching IG stories of dogs. So funny!”
  • “Movement (walk, dance, stretch), music, prayer, pets.”
  • “I try to take the stairs as much as possible so I get a little exercise to break up the day!”
  • “Make a list of everything adding to my anxiety to help me calm down and conquer it.”

I want to make sure I mention that I am not trying to say one or all of these answers will cure an anxious heart. I have had seasons where I’ve gone to counseling and been on medication, so I am sensitive to those of you reading this who might think, “Easy for her to say!” or “She really doesn’t get it!” I know personally that overcoming anxiety is not a quick fix. These are just a few answers I felt either personally connected to or thought others might find beneficial to help combat anxiety in the moment. Advice to help you and me simply get through the day.

Just in case you’re curious to know my go-to tactics for overcoming anxiety and stress during the workday:

  • Starting the day with Jesus – in the Word and/or in prayer (and praying as I work or while I’m driving)
  • Cutting back on caffeine (I have no shame in drinking decaf! I notice a big difference with this one!)
  • Walks and just being outside for a bit
  • Breaking for lunch instead of eating at my desk while I work
  • Turning off phone notifications and placing my phone out of sight (out of sight, out of mind!)
  • A scented candle
  • Spending time with the people I love in the evenings
  • Also in the evenings: Knitting, Netflix, Harry Potter… my interests that aren’t related to work!

Anyway…

Take good care of yourselves! Do what is best for YOU to get through the day. If you’re struggling with deeper anxiety, I highly suggest getting help, whether that be through friends and family, counseling, your church, medication, or a combination of those. You are not alone!

Thanks again for all the great responses to this question! Can’t wait to try some of them myself!

❤ Lauren