Strong & Courageous

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

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I’m so excited to being sharing the ‘why’ behind my latest enamel pin design which says, “strong & courageous.” More often than not, there is a story behind each of my designs and in this case there are two – the biblical story and my personal one.

As I’ve mentioned in a few posts on social media, I’ve been studying books in the Old Testament with BSF this year. We started in September with the book of Joshua and I was amazed by how the Holy Spirit used that book to speak to me and meet me in a season filled with unknowns.

God’s story

I highly encourage you to read the book of Joshua on your own, but today, I’m mainly going to focus on Joshua 1 – even more specifically Joshua 1:9. To give you some context, the book of Joshua opens with the Lord declaring Joshua the new Israelite leader after the death of Moses. They have reached the land God promised to give them after 40 years of wandering through the desert. And in this chapter, the Lord is preparing Joshua to lead the Israelites in taking possession of the land. God not only gives Joshua clear commands on how Joshua should move forward, but He also encourages Joshua. He commands Joshua to “be strong and courageous,” to not be afraid, and to remember that He would be with Joshua and the Israelites wherever they went, whatever they came across.

Joshua was constantly asking the Lord for guidance as He led the Israelites, in each decision. When they followed the Lord’s commands, they prospered, but when they took matters into their own hands, they perished. And, in the Lord’s great and rich mercy, He forgave them when they realized what they had done wrong and continued to guide them. In order to be led, the Israelites had to be willing to follow – they had to trust that even when God’s way appeared difficult and impossible, He would keep all of His promises in His perfect timing.

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His strength in me

As I studied the book of Joshua, I was drawn to Joshua’s relationship with the Lord – how he confided, listened, and really trusted the Lord. However, I saw a lot more of myself in the Israelites. Like them, I like to take things into my own hands, forgetting that God knows the future. Therefore, I need to be willing to be led and I can’t be led when I’m constantly trying to take control of my circumstances. I need to trust in His promises and as I read at the end of my study of Joshua, He will not back down on His promises (Joshua 21:45).

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God continues to speak to me through His word as I make my way through many of the books in the Old Testament. He continues to remind me to trust Him. Not just to ask for more strength, but to pray that Christ would actually be my strength – that in Him alone I’ll be made strong and courageous, not through my own attempts to change.

My hope for you

It is my hope that you too will be inspired to find strength in Christ. That you would let go and let Him take the lead in your life – that He would fill you with His strength and give you the courage to endure whatever trials you might be facing. You can attempt to take on life’s battles on your own, but I’m here to tell you today that it’s so much better when you allow Christ to lead the way. Only He knows the future. He will comfort you, protect you, encourage you, and not just give you strength, but with fill you with His strength!

So, say yes to Jesus today, whether it be for the first time or hundredth time. Allow Him to lead you and see what He has in store for you! He reminds Joshua – and us – over and over again not to be afraid! He will be with you wherever You go and will always keep His promises!

❤ Lauren

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My Soul Finds Rest

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This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve shared occasionally on podcasts and social media about rest and my determination to make that a priority in my life. But, I haven’t really shared one-on-one with my community about how I make rest a priority and why. Since the new year is still young and fresh starts are still on the minds of many, I feel like now is the perfect time to talk about rest and why you should consider making more time for rest in your life as well.

Rest in my life

For the past few years, I have been keeping a “Sabbath” day. I use that word loosely, because to me it means so much more than a day of rest, but a day to keep holy and spend with family and that is not always the case for me… but I’m working my way there! I decided to dedicate one day a week to rest from work and scheduled plans after several years of studying scripture, as well as reading books on the topic, like John Mark Comer’s Garden City.

Many people think of Sunday as the Sabbath. I have been working nearly every Sunday as a worship leader for the past five years, so Sunday has never exactly been a Sabbath day for me personally. A day filled with worship, yes, but rest? Not so much when I’m up at 5:30 AM and not done until sometimes 13 hours later! (Phew!) So, my day of rest has fallen on Tuesdays, Fridays, and for the past couple years it has been Mondays. I pick one consistent day of the week, not a different day each week, because I believe keeping consistency is important.

So what do my Mondays look like? Well, I rest from work – which includes product design, custom orders, email, Etsy convos, and all social media. I don’t have a personal Instagram account, but truthfully, even if I did, it would be just too tempting to check up on my work stuff, so I hide my Facebook and Instagram apps on a separate “page” on my home screen. I also rest from scheduled plans. As an introvert, it’s necessary for me to have a day with no obligations. If I feel like making last minute plans that day, I do, but I keep it open beforehand. So what do I do? I sleep in, I spend an hour or two journaling and working on my Bible study lesson for the week, I read, I nap, I indulge in something creative, usually unrelated to work (AKA hand lettering) like knitting or drawing… those are the typical activities, but sometimes I’ll go visit my parents, watch a movie, or hang out with friends in the evening.

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The downside to my current arrangement is I’m still sticking to the same routine I did when I was single. I’d love to share a day of rest with my husband, but he’s in school and working, so it’s been nearly impossible to coordinate. I would like to start making rest a bigger priority in my marriage and we can hopefully start cultivating that as a couple once he’s out of school and has a more consistent schedule. Rest as a couple just happens in shorter, more frequent, less consistent periods of time right now. It’s a work in progress!

My main focus is keeping the spirit of the Sabbath and remembering Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath. It’s not about keeping legalistic practices or holding myself and my marriage to a standard of perfection in this area. That’s not rest. It starts with making the commitment to a day of rest. As we seek the Lord in our time of rest, He’ll reveal to us how we can rest in Him more fully – a rest that is peaceful and restorative as described in Psalm 23.

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Practical ways to prioritize rest in your own life

Now, I am totally aware of my unique circumstances. I’m self-employed with no kids, so I realize in many ways it’s easier for me to set aside an entire day of rest, but I will say, whether you’re single, married, have children, are employed by someone else, or create your own work schedule, keeping a day of rest is a sacrifice, a challenge, and something that takes continued practice and discipline to do well. But, as you begin settling into a rhythm, you’ll start to see what a blessing rest is, that it wasn’t just a command from God, but one of the greatest gifts we’re given!

So, keeping in mind that jumping right into a full day of rest might be daunting for some of you, here are just a few practical ideas to help you start making rest a bigger priority:

  • Daily quite time with Jesus – prayer, journaling, reading your Bible, working through a study.
    • My Bible study recommendation: I personally love the “Be” series of commentaries by Warren Wiersbe! He breaks down scripture in an easy to understand way, but takes you deep. There are also questions at the end of each chapter to answer. They’re great books for personal or group study.
  • Picking one day a week to go social media free – or if you feel comfortable, turn your phone off completely for the day!
    • Read this post if you want to read more about why I think this is so important.
  • Scheduling one evening a week for dinner and a night in with your spouse and/or kids.
    • Watch a movie, play a board game, get outside, or go out and do some other fun activity!
    • Leave distractions like phones, tablets, laptops, and homework in another room.
    • At the table have everyone go around and share words of kindness about each family member… verbalizing appreciation for your loved ones might be uncomfortable for your family at first, but there is rest and comfort in hearing words of affirmation from those closest to you.
  • Help your children get into the habit of getting their homework done by Saturday night, so they don’t have to do any homework on Sunday.
    • This will not only help them learn time management and help them see the value in rest, but will also give you a break from helping and reminding them to get their tasks done! Everybody wins! (I may not be able to relate on the parenting side of this, but remembering how much work my parents put into helping with homework and putting up with the protests and tantrums from my sisters and me, I know both kids and parents need a break!)
  • Try starting with committing to a half day of rest. Pick a time to start and end and stick to it!
  • Think you’re ready for a full day of rest for you, you and your spouse, and/or your family? Go for it!
    • Discuss what day will work best for your family, work around the most important commitments, let some go, and start experiencing the gift that is an entire day of rest!

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Anyway…

I hope this post, if anything, got you thinking about rest and how you might start keeping this spiritual discipline. We live in the midst of a hustle culture in America. Busy = better and rest = laziness. I used to struggle with that lie when I first started prioritizing rest, but I work six days a week and even our God rested on the seventh day! Maybe you work five days a week and have one day for getting errands run, chores, kids activities, etc. But, set aside a day – or, at the very, least a regular extended period of time within a day – for complete rest. Don’t worry about being perfect! Take baby steps and begin discovering how regular rest positively impacts your trust in the Lord, your physical health, mental well-being, relationships, work, and all the other unique aspects of your life.

How are you already prioritizing rest in your life? In what ways do you want to improve? What are your favorite scripture passages about rest? I’d love to hear in the comments! And of course, if you want to stay up to date of future blog posts, I welcome you to join my mailing list community! I’ll let you know about new blog posts, shop updates, and upcoming events, and I’ll even send you a little gift just for joining!

❤ Lauren

 

2018 Wins & Learns

Wow! What a year it has been! It’s been such a treat to share my wins and learns with you in 2018 – my first year running an online shop full-time. If you’ve been following along with my monthly wins and learns posts, you know it was a great year filled with lots of reasons to celebrate, but it also came with it’s challenges and learning experiences.

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I have really enjoyed being so open and honest with you this past year. I hope these “Wins & Learns” posts have been an encouragement to you whether your are a creative business owner, hobbyist, or simply have an interest in my life as a Jesus follower and small business owner. It’s crazy to think that so many of you keep coming back to hear what I have to say and it’s a privilege to be a part of your life in this way. Thanks for letting me in.

As much as I have enjoyed writing these “Wins & Learns” posts each month, I am not planning on doing so in 2019 as frequently. Right now I’m thinking quarterly, but it also could mean more topical posts relating to what I’m learning. I haven’t really decided yet. I love these posts, but they were getting really challenging to keep up with as my business grew and didn’t leave a whole lot of room to spend time on other blog post ideas I had. But don’t worry! I’ll still be just as honest and open with you as I have been in the past, it’s just going to look a little different in 2019. Sound okay?

Now for the wins and learns of 2018…

Wins

I expanded my product line

My main goal this year was to add a lot more products to my shop. At the beginning of 2018, I had several black and white prints and my Romans devotional listed, but that was it. A year later, I have two books, regular prints and foiled prints, enamel pins, custom address stamps, calendars, notepads, mugs, and a variety of other fun products! A lot of product making dreams came true this year!

I released my second book

Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional was released at the end of October! I still can’t believe I self-published another book. It was such a huge undertaking once again and I still feel like a crazy person for creating another book with even more intricate hand lettered art and longer devotional content… all in less than a year! As I sit here reminiscing those long days, weeks, and months of working on the book, I realize that as crazy as it was to put myself through such a challenging process once again, some of my best memories from the year were surrounding the new book. Two that come to mind: chatting with my good friend Kiley on video chat for hours working on the art and meeting with my sweet friend Joan, discussing the devotional content and how to best communicate the messages in Ephesians to readers of various backgrounds.

Thank you to each and every one of you who purchased Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional in 2019! I poured so much of my heart into that book and it’s humbling to know so many of you wanted to hear what I had to say about Jesus’ teachings in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

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1,000 Etsy sales / 10k Instagram followers

I want to be careful as I write this one, because numbers aren’t everything and this is not supposed to be some kind of “humble brag.” I put a lot of work into making sure I was putting content into the world that would resonate with others, but I had no control over whether or not people would respond. My Instagram account reached 10k followers in June and it was so exciting to have the “swipe up” feature to make shopping easier for my followers! I ended the year with just over 11k Instagram followers, which is amazing, but reaching 10k was a milestone moment for me.

It was possibly even more exciting to reach 1,000 Etsy sales in November on Small Business Saturday. Instagram followers can come and go, but nobody can take those sales away from you (unless you do returns I suppose, but I only do exchanges). 1,000 sales was such a lofty goal to meet and I genuinely didn’t think my shop would get there at first. Ending the year with over 1,100 sales was honestly so humbling. I put so much love into everything I design and make, but being passionate about what I make doesn’t mean that others will see the value or quality of each of my products. Each sale is a gift to me, which is why I loved shipping out all those orders in 2018 – to hopefully give you the feeling that you were receiving a gift in return, expressing my deep gratitude.

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Year 1 is done!

I got through my first year of running my Etsy shop and lettering business full-time! It was such a great year and looking back, I am in awe of how much this little business grew, the cool things I got to design and make, the new opportunities that came up… It is bittersweet saying goodbye to 2018, but I am ready for exciting things ahead in 2019 – not just in my business, but my personal life as well! I’m feeling all the good feels going into this new year!

Learns

Expectations vs. Goals

As I read my blog posts over the past year, this was probably the big overarching learning experience of the year. The majority – if not all – of the disappointment I experienced in 2018 came from unmet expectations and a lot of those unmet expectations came from poor goal planning. It’s really hard to plan your first year in business full-time. It’s a guessing game. I had a general idea of typical stats, but I made the mistake of jumping into 2018 believing I was the exception to these statistics. I think this “exception” mentality is easy to fall into, because we are constantly hearing success stories and either we’re being told directly that someone made $100k their first year in business or we’re being told indirectly – or really just making assumptions – that the people we look up to most got to where they are now in just a matter of months.

I have learned to tell myself, “You are not the exception. You could be, but you’re probably not.” I don’t tell myself this to crush my hopes and dreams. I will continue working towards my goals and I’m pretty sure I’ll reach them in the next couple years, but I remind myself of that statement to keep myself from having unrealistic expectations, which always lead to disappointment.

As I write this, I feel like it sounds like I’ve given up or lost my motivation. That is so not the case! For me, having realistic goals and little to no expectations means I’m leaving more room for surprises! Still dreaming big here! Just being more realistic with the timeline. 😉

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Patience

I feel like self-employment is one long lesson in patience. I hoped to reach my financial goals in 2018, but I didn’t even come close to the minimum! Looking at my growth over the past couple years and ahead into 2019, I can see that I might reach my goals by the end of 2019, but it’s more likely that I’ll reach them by the end of 2020. That feels like a long way away, but as I’ve said before, this job is more to me than a paycheck. It’s my passion and I miss it when I’m away from it for an extended period of time. It’s worth the wait!

And, patience goes beyond the financial side of things. As an online shop owner I’ve learned – and I’m still learning – how to be patient with people. Manufacturers that aren’t coming through on their promises, customers that ask the same questions even though I’ve posted the answers everywhere, rude customers and comments, even just little things like waiting for custom order proof approvals. Patience is still a big area of growth for me going into 2019 and I would love to be better at not letting all the waiting, occasional rudeness, and small annoyances get to me in 2019.

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Trust

This year was a rollercoaster and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without Jesus. I grew so much in my walk with Him and after a few years of feeling like I’ve been walking through the desert, 2018 was the year I really felt I stepped out of that desert season. There were a lot of learning experiences that God used to lead me to where I am now, but really they all come back to trust. It’s one thing to believe in who Jesus is and what He has done for us, but it’s another to trust in His promises in a more personal way. For example, it’s easier for me to believe God is capable of doing things for other people, but I have a hard time trusting He will do great things for me. 2018 was the year of breaking through the fear that God wouldn’t respond, trusting that He would answer and be with me in the waiting, the disappointment, and the celebration. It was the year of significant breakthrough and I’m hoping 2019 will be the year my trust in Christ grows deeper roots.

Anyway…

Thanks for joining me for these monthly Wins & Learns posts! If this is your first time on the blog, welcome! I invite you to read past posts and join me for new things in 2019! I’d also love to have you come be a part of my mailing list community if you’d like to be notified about future blog posts and shop updates. I’m excited for what’s to come in the new year and would love for you to be a part of it!

❤ Lauren

P.S. Speaking of shop updates, I am down to less than 10 calendars and they are now on sale! Click HERE to shop before they’re gone!

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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. 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 experienced a tremendous amount of growth. 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

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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.”

Wins

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, the pocket, or somewhere in between. In the photos above, I’m wearing my silver Be Kind pin. and in the photos below, I’m wearing my Strong & Courageous pin. and black and gold Have Faith 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. Strong & Courageous pin looks so sweet and dainty on this cream knit sweater.
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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. Locking clasps are available as an upgraded option when you order any of the pins from my shop.
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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