Monday, September 24, 2018

Take The Jump

This week, I had a follower on instagram private message me and inquire about how I started "it all".  She provided me with flattering feedback and went on to ask for suggestions about where she should even begin with following her passion.  Well, Jessica Lunsford,  you inspired me to write this post today--just a few days after we have launched our online shop!

Vivid Hue Home Online Shop

To think it all started with this blog is pretty crazy.  My first post was on February 2, 2012 and the topic was about Massimo Vitali (one of my favorite photographers).  I discussed where to acquire budget friendly Massimo Vitali Impostors .  That single post has since yielded over 20,000 impressions...periodically I have to remind myself to go back and check the post itself to make sure the original images are still showing up.

Read another Massimo Vitali post here
The years that have followed are a bit like child-raising:  In the midst of it all, time seems to stand still; the days are long, but then one day you look back and the babies are tweens and you wonder how it happened so quickly.

In preparing this post, I'm reminded of the numerous hours I spent In the beginning creating daily blog posts, oftentimes staying up well past midnight to ensure I did not miss my self-imposed daily publishing goal.  Now, only a handful of years later, I have opened a storefront and just launched our online shop.  And somehow, I still find myself staying up past midnight many nights working on duties related to Vivid Hue Home.
Vivid Hue Home, 2nd shop.  Photo Courtesy of Shelia Casey 

But let's back up...
From the get-go, my mantra has been:

stay true to yourself
do what works best for you
take baby steps

I'm not saying this path is tried and true or even conventional, but it has worked for me.

In 2007, I found myself having left my career working with a major digital advertising agency so that I could help my husband open his medical practice in Connecticut.  I was a young new mom and loved the flexibility of putting so much attention into our own entrepreneurial endeavor.  My skills from my "previous career" came in handy and I was able to manage the financial and staffing aspects of the new practice.  However, after several years, I realized that I wasn't addressing my own drive and passion.  I needed more to fulfill me personally.

On a whim, I decided to create the blog as an outlet to showcase my own home projects and also highlight designers and artists for whom I personally loved.  I also liked to decorate using colorful patterns and colors.  Thus, "vivid hue" and "home" decor seemed to go together.
Vivid Hue Home was born.  

This was the original Vivid Hue Home blog design.  I found a web designer through etsy that could customize the template for me so it wouldn't look so cookie-cutter.

 I was stringent at first about my need to publish a blog post every single day.   After posting, I spent several more hours each day networking with other bloggers. This was before instagram and therefore comments on a blog feed were gold.  I spent each night networking with other design bloggers, commenting on their posts, Hosting them on Vivid Hue, and being featured on their blogs.  We were all relatively new and just starting out then.  And now, it's fun to see how many of those friends have grown.
Maria Barros + The Pink Pagoda on Vivid Hue Home 
Lance Jackson and David Ecton of Parker Kennedy were just two years into building their empire!    Reagan Geschardt and her husband, Danny, were extremely talented artists (and still are) but hadn't yet launched their fabulous textile business, Broome Street Studios.  Back then, Reagan and I would message back and forth and swap questions about how to overcome technology challenges on our blogs and websites.
Broome Street Studios Photo Courtesy 
Linda from Calling It Home featured me on her blog and held a fun little contest called "One Room Challenge" way before it had been officially trademarked and sponsored by House Beautiful.  (see ONE ROOM CHALLENGE  ).

Since then we've each branched out into unique directions; either designing textiles, opening storefronts, or extending interior design businesses.   The common denomenator:

This building a brand stuff takes dedication.

 and steps.  Do what you can, as you can manage it.

In 2015, I felt an urge to turn the blog into "more."  A store front seemed like an obvious extension of the blog.  I could sell some of the designs featured on my blog by the artists I loved.  As time permitted, I would brainstorm about location.  When I saw a storefront available for lease near my area, I would call to inquire about pricing.  This allowed me to begin to understand the market and where I may be able to afford to open a store.  One day, I spotted a vacant street-facing cottage In my town.  It was tiny but the rent was literally 1/10th lower cost than that of other towns (and I knew this because I'd been gathering data).

Better yet, the landlord was willing to negotiate an 18 month lease rather than a standard 60 month or longer.  I decided that it was almost very little risk for me to take the leap.

Making the decision to turn a hobby into an actual business where there are now financial factors to consider is extremely scary.  I was fortunate that my business background in managing financial budgets for clients and then also managing finances for our medical practice prepared me with skills and confidence to be able to do so In the shop business.  There is a significant amount of structural ground work that must be laid out when beginning a business.  To name a few:

  • I had to declare Vivid Hue Home as a business with our local town.  
  • I had to establish a State Tax ID for the business which meant I would now be required to report quarterly taxes.  
  • I needed a financial book keeping system and selected the Quicken software because it was what we were already using for the medical practice.  
  • I decided that I would need support staff right from the start because I wanted to also continue to be available for my family.  
  • I decided to utilize the third-party payroll company and our accountant from the medical practice for Vivid Hue as well (so In that regard, it helped to have already set up a previous business).  
  • I had to research inventory tracking tools (I selected Clover Point of Sale- POS only because we were banking with Bank of America and that was their POS system).  
  • I also needed a Merchant Service account for processing credit card fees (and again, to keep it simple for myself, I selected Bank of America simply because we were already customers there).  
  • I opened a business bank account and ordered a business credit card and checks. 
  • I had to learn about opening wholesale accounts with vendors and meeting minimum order requirements.  This involved researching unique vendor brands and products and finding out their contact information (this continues to be a continual part of the business).  
  • I needed to determine how I would market my business, would I pay for advertising and would it be print or online marketing? 

One aspect that helped me significantly is that I'd grown my social media presence already through years of blogging.  My facebook presence was large and my instagram following was growing.

During this venture, I learned quickly that everyone seems to have an opinion about how you should do things.  Most people are supportive and well-intentioned but if someone offers advice that doesn't work for your vision, don't take it personally.  For example, In the beginning, a handful of people questioned how I could operate the shop without always being there during every open hour.  What they didn't realize is that even if I am not physically present at the shop, I am always connected- Sometimes literally communicating with my team continually through out the day while I'm In between activities for my kids.

I soon learned to have confidence In my own personal way for operating my own business.  How I operate works best for me and will allow me to sustain this business well into the future.

do what works best for you

After 18 months In our charming cottage, we were literally busting at the seams and ready for a larger location.  As luck (or fate) would have it, an available location opened up two doors away from the cottage.  It was three times larger.  It was also directly next door to a very popular bakery that draws a large lunch crowd daily.    My mantra "baby steps" played through my head but this also seemed like the perfect opportunity.  

Vivid Hue Home Bigger Location 

That is another thing about growing a brand and being an entrepreneur: sometimes it's not so much about luck as it is opportunity meeting preparedness.  And when opportunity falls right into your lap, you have to be prepared to take a calculated risk if it means one more step towards growth.  

We moved into our larger location In April 2017 and it was the best decision yet.  There was increased foot traffic, increased visibility and higher revenue daily.

Last fall, after an unusually slow sales day In the shop, I decided on a whim to post our adorable palm pajamas onto instagram.  Only this time, I told our followers that I would sell and ship to anyone across the United States.  Previously, we didn't ship and our products were limited to those that could physically visit our store front In Connecticut.

That evening from the comfort of my living room, I sold over thirty pajamas to be shipped to across the country.  This was a game changer.

Selling on instagram quickly became a signifiant financial aspect of our Vivid Hue brand.   And so, In the spring of 2018, we began planning and developing our online shop so that we could bring our products to you even more seamlessly.

I'm so thrilled with this latest step In our business.  We still have other personal milestones to accomplish with building the Vivid Hue brand and we'll see how those unfold as opportunities come across our plate In the months and years to come.

It can be very scary to take that first step towards doing what will personally fulfill you.  I would encourage you to force yourself to do it.  Once you "jump" it becomes less scary and you'll find that you  become more and more confident.  Be willing to execute your plan the way that works best for you, not necessarily the way that others feel you should be doing it.  Be willing to put In the time.  Anything worth doing takes time and dedication.   Be patient.  Be willing to shift gears that will allow you to capitalize on the opportunities that cross your path.

And then, sit back and enjoy the happiness that comes your way from doing something you truly enjoy.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kristen McCory JLH Showhouse Designer 2018

Last week, I posted details of our first ever Vivid Hue Home pop up shop located at the Junior League of Hartford's Designer Show house.  At the time, I had planned to showcase multiple designers every other day so you could see their spaces.  Of course, life got in the way and I didn't get a chance to post during the show house itself.  But I am still planning to share some of my favorite designers from the house.

To start, Kristin McCory Designs! McCory Interiors is a Connecticut based design firm that specializes in high-end residential & boutique storefront interior design throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic, (including New York City) and beyond.

Kristen McCory is such a super talented interior designer.   I have become friends with her over the last several years as our worlds collide at different events (show houses and designer tablescape events).  Her foyer design from the 2015 Junior League of Hartford Designer Show house is still being circulated among National magazines, most currently the At Home Magazine May/June 2018 issue.

Here are a photos from that foyer In the Junior League of Hartford Designer Show house from 2015:

Photo Credit Kristen McCory Interiors

Photo Credit Kristen McCory Interiors

Now, fast forward to the Junior League Show House for 2018.  I was thrilled to have Kristen as one of my first floor buddies.  Kristen's space always "brings it" and this year is no different.  She worked night and day to fine tune this gorgeous space.  Here is Kristen's before and after of the dining room.

Before: Dining Room JLH 

After: Kristine McCory Designs 

Yes, the transformation In photos is breath-taking.  And you should have seen it In person.  It truly was jaw dropping.  Here are some more progression photos of the space.

Before JLH Showhouse. Vivid Hue Home Photo

 Kristen wallpapered the ceiling In Schumacher, Ludo, Color Piano Forte.   It made such a brilliant textural statement on the ceiling.

Kristen's attention to detail is incredible.  Every accessory had a place and every item In her room was well thought out.

Initially this trim was painted In a dark navy but, before the house launched, Kristen was adding additional detail and it ended up quite differently.  
Kristen McCory Photo

Kristen is known for her hand painted and trimmed floors.  And, yes, she does this entirely on her own!  This was her first passion before embarking on interior design and she is actually professionally trained In this.  

The Flowers were by Kathleen Schwartz Flower Design who inspires florals In our Farmington Valley and beyond.

Photo by Vivid Hue Home 

Every night, these anemones and orange ranunculus hibernated In the refrigerator so they'd be fresh for tours In the morning at the show house.  I saw  these beauties come out In the morning with closed petals and In a matter of no time, they opened back again, wide and ready for the day.  Amazing.

vivid hue home

I love the story behind these tremendous vessels (there are two In the room).  Kristen acquired them from our local Revival Home Furnishings (which is a luxury consignment shop that curates high end furnishings and accessories and sells on 1st dibs and One Kings Lane).  They were lamps that Kristen transformed for a huge presence In her space.

We had a chance to relax (a bit) and enjoy the opening preview party on Friday April 27th, 2018.  Pictured here:  Kristen McCory, our friend and designer Georgia Zikas, and me--Heather Grahling from Vivid Hue Home.
Vivid Hue Home Photo
 Yes, these flowers were simply stunning.

Kristen McCory is absolutely one to follow.  Check out her website and instagram page to keep tabs on everything she is up to across New England.

I hope to highlight a few of the other amazing designers that participated In the Junior League Show House.




Sunday, April 29, 2018

Junior League Showhouse In CT 2018

Photo Courtesy of Junior League of Hartford

Ya'll must be shocked to see a blog post from me after so much time In between my last post.  Instagram is my usual method of communicating these days and I find myself sharing stories and snippets there where In the "old days" they would have been a blog post.  Yet, so many exciting things have been happening In the Vivid Hue world lately that I had to share In one spot.  Most imminently, we have launched our first ever pop up shop located at this year's Junior League of Hartford Showhouse.

Photo Credit Vivid Hue Home 
I am a member of the Junior League of Hartford and have spotlighted previous show houses here.
This year, I was given the opportunity to have a pop up shop within the house.  A lot of effort and work goes into pulling these houses together and I am so happy to be a small part of this year's house.
This year, twenty Connecticut Designers and Decorators each transformed a space In the house.  For the past month, they've been working non-stop around the clock to prepare for this weekend's launch.  On Friday, we had our official preview party to the public and the Show House officially opened for tours on Saturday April 28th with  tours offered through May 20 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m 

The house is located on 126 Waterside Lane In West Hartford CT and tickets are $35 each (Purchase here).  

Today, I will share the journey of getting my little space In the breakfast nook ready for the opening weekend.  I hope to share the other spaces and designers over the next few weeks (so yes, check back here regularly, I will be posting soon on the blog again).
Here is a peek of my finished space at the showhouse:
Vivid Hue Home 

The house is located on a large plot of land surrounded by a peninsula of water.  Our pop up is located In the breakfast nook area that overlooks the expansive lawn and pond.

It's a breath-taking location; however the house itself is very outdated (think 1980's).

Here are some before photos of our nook.  The views In the breakfast nook are stunning and  look out onto the pond and the private pool area.  As you can see, we started with a well-used stone fireplace, dull walls and adobe tiled floors.  

Before @jlhartford Showhouse @vividhuehome space Photo courtesy of Vivid Hue Home 

Before: Vivid Hue Home Show house Space

Vivid Hue Home 
Because I was a pop up shop, I wanted to create a space that would showcase our products without having to completely transform our entire space.  But of course, presentation matters (to me) so I decided to do some easy cosmetic updates, including painting!  Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy is a "go to" color for me (we used it on our trim at the shop).  So, I decided to take the mustard out of the walls and make them navy!  

Vivid Hue Home 

We started to slowly bring In larger furniture items from the shop before layering with the gift items.  
It truly takes a village to run a small business and after many weeks of carting items and products over In our SUV's and trucks, we decided to have an "all hands" Saturday morning where many of our team and husbands (and kiddos) pulled together to caravan a bolus of items over to the show house.  

Our Vivid Hue Home Village

This is part of our Vivid Hue Home Village.  Front, (left to right): Jack, Smidge, Annie, Leanne and then Back: Eric and Bill.  Not pictured: Lindsey who was with us In spirit.

Annie and Bill Condon
Annie and Bill were life savers In transporting our custom sofa to the show house.  They let us use their "Flintstone mobile" (a term affectionately coined by Annie herself In reference to their fabulous truck that is a work horse for transporting big items!)  We laughed at the thought of captioning this photo as "leopard goes with everything" (referencing Annie's nice leopard print jacket next to Flintstone mobile).  

We ordered marketing materials (Peanut our hamster is seen here).

Lots of shout outs and marketing on social media for our team!   

And slowly, our space started shaping up.  I should have known, but this pop up stuff takes work.  I almost felt like we were launching an entirely new shop!  (And, duh, I guess In a way, we were).  

So, now, we're "live" until May 20th.  We will continue to maintain our regular shop In addition to the pop up.  If you have visited our pop up at the Junior League Show house and liked it, please stop by our brick and mortar store In Farmington.  We're located right by Truffles bakery on 769 Farmington Ave, Farmington CT  06032.  

Here are some side by side before and after photos: 

Before Vivid Hue Home 

After Vivid Hue Home 

Vivid Hue Home 

Vivid Hue Home Show house Pop Up 

Marilyn Petite Sofa with Forest Green Piping by Society Social, Raffia Coffee Table Society Social, Marie Artwork by Gina Julian, Peach Lacquer Lamps by Meg Caswell for Couture Lamps

All products are available for purchase at Vivid Hue Home.  Yes, we ship!  And we appreciate you ordering through our small business.  I carry all of the products In my retail shop and I'm a retail partner for all of those designers.  

Thank you for following along In the transformation of our space into our Vivid Hue Home pop up shop.  Please check because I will be sharing sneak peeks into the Designer spaces.  I'm always In awe at the talented designer's we have locally In Central Connecticut.  

Please follow me on instagram if you don't already!  I share daily updates of my store and personal journeys.  

If you're not familiar with my brick and mortar shop, please check us out!