Sunday, July 26, 2015

Grande Format Installation: Peggy's Bathroom

When my customer, Peggy, remodeled a bathroom recently to make it accessible for an aging family member, she knew she wanted to dress it up with a UL tree. She had a very specific space for us to work with; the tree had be narrow enough to fit between two towel racks but full enough to fill the space above them. During our consultation, we discussed our different styles, took measurements, and played with several color combinations before settling on our Leafy Tree in Mocha Brown with Terra Cotta leaves. When it came in, she was kind enough to share these photos of the installation with me. They are an excellent tutorial of how to put up our Grande Format designs. 

Because of their size, Grande Format expressions come in multiple pieces. The design includes numbered registration marks to help you match up the corresponding parts. By lining up the registration marks on different parts of the expression, you will get a perfect installation. The registration marks are the diamonds you see in the photo below; they will be removed at the end of the installation. 

The registration marks show you exactly where each section goes.

Once all of the branches have been applied, you can remove the registration marks.  Peggy chose some additional pieces for the base of the tree, which she has begun to apply here.

The grasses at the base of three are layered to add depth.

At last, it's time to add leaves.

With all of the leaves added, the tree looks beautiful! Notice the leaf that is falling softly toward the grass?

By investing a little time, Peggy has added a striking focal point to this bathroom. She may decide to add more grass or some birds in the future, but I think her tree looks pretty great as it is. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with me, Peggy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Beautiful New Catalog

By far the highlight of our convention in Indianapolis was the introduction of our gorgeous new catalog. There is so much you'll love about this catalog: so many new expressions, three new decorative alphabets, brand new accessories and designs created just to fit them, three new colors and more! 

The cover shows you one of our new alphabets: the Split Monogram. Created from hand-drawn artwork, these are designed with space for your own custom lettering. I think these will be a big hit for holiday and wedding gifts. 

Another new alphabet is the Affirmation Alphabet. This is like nothing I've seen anywhere else and definitely fits with Uppercase Living's mission to help our customers live a life inspired. I can think of so many ways to use these. Our third new alphabet is one that will look familiar to Scrabble fans: the Alpha Numeric Alphabet. Our customers have been creating designs like this for years, so we're making it easy for everyone to order.  You can get these letters individually or in a set of the entire alphabet. Imagine how many words your could create with every letter. These letters are sized perfectly for our new 6" wood tiles

In addition to all those cool new expressions, we have new accessories. I'm so excited I'll say it again. In caps: WE HAVE NEW ACCESSORIES. Our white wood square tiles come ready to hang in either 6" or 12". And our unfinished DIY boards, also in two sizes, are double sided and ready for you to paint or Mod Podge paper to before adding your vinyl. But the coolest of all of our new accessories is the Puzzle Board

We have a whole new set of expressions created just for this board, but you can create anything you can imagine to go on them. These are great on their own, but the most fun thing about them is that they are true puzzle pieces that fit together. So you can create larger groupings right on the wall. There are so many creative ways to use these that they'll need a blog post all to themselves! 

Another surprise in this catalog was our pretty new font, Lavanderia. It's so fresh and versatile. I think I'll be using it in lots of custom designs! 

Finally, I'm thrilled that we have 3 new colors in our Premium Bond vinyl. This vinyl comes with a much stronger adhesive and is designed for outdoor installations - you don't want this on your painted walls! The addition of these new colors increases the options for those of you who want lettering for outdoor signs, storefronts, boats, and any other spot that needs to stand up to the elements. 

There's so much more in this new catalog than I'm unable to tell you about here: new project ideas, links to project videos, cool new techniques and so much gorgeous photography (including before and after shots, which we love!) to inspire you. I'm sure you can't wait to see the catalog for yourself, and you don't have to wait one more second! You can page through it right now on my website. As soon as you get your first look, you're going to want to call me and book a party so you can share all the new ideas with your friends, and get everything you want for free. When you do, I'll tell you all about our 4 different ways to party...but that's a whole other post, too. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I'm writing this post on a flight to Indianapolis for our annual convention, my 7th with Uppercase Living, and I can't help but think about my first. At that first awards evening, I don't think I could have felt further out of my comfort zone. Surrounded by hundreds of women, none of whom I'd met until that weekend, I watched the demonstrators being recognized for their high sales and large, active teams and wondered what I, with my fledgling business, was doing there. As I sat crouched in a seat towards the back of the large ballroom, I knew I'd never be one of those women on stage.

Then, in one of the luckiest moments of my life, a demonstrator I didn't know invited me to sit with her. She was warm and talkative, with a happy smile and a twinkle in her eye. She told me about her UL business in Minnesota, said I was silly to sit by myself, and bought me a glass of wine. What a relief not to be all alone! The next day, my new friend, Leona Holzer, asked me to take notes for her during the final sessions of convention, as she had an early flight. I emailed her my notes when I got home, and that email became the first of so many back and forth over the next 6 years.

Leona and I had little in common. She grew up in a rural farming community and her life still very much revolved around farming. Her children were older than mine and her life seemed less hectic.  For her, nothing was as important than her children, Taylor and Jeremy. Basketball season was a busy time, as Taylor was a high school cheerleader and Leona never missed one of her games. Soon Taylor graduated and Leona proudly talked about how well she did in college.

Even though we weren't on the same UL team, she became a coach and cheerleader to me. Her business was growing much more rapidly than mine, but she was always so happy to hear about my successes. I thought of her as my leader, but she treated me as her equal. She had a knack for getting a customer to place an order or book a party that I marveled at. While I usually fumbled over my words when talking to customers and hostesses, she got it all done via text! Though her business was thriving, mine was struggling. But she never let me give up, and told me repeatedly that I could accomplish whatever I wanted with UL. Her success was hardly surprising, since she devoted so many hours to it. She made herself available to her team virtually any time and thought nothing of driving 4 or 5 hours each way to a UL party. When I told her that would be like me driving to parties in San Francisco, she just laughed and kept driving!

It was on those drives to our parties that we caught up with each other. Our conversations about work led to those about children, families, dreams about the future. When our 3 hour time difference allowed, we checked in before an after our parties, comparing notes about how we did, what customers were excited about and how we could improve. By now, we'd seen each other at multiple UL events and our friendship had grown stronger with each visit. I was so happy to introduce her to my family after our Las Vegas convention and was equally happy to meet hers a bit later. Taylor often accompanied her mom on UL trips, so she quickly found her way into my heart, too.

On one of our calls a couple of years ago, she confided that she'd seen a doctor for a lingering cough, and the doctor was concerned. I quickly reassured her, confident that she didn't need anything stronger than antibiotics. But within weeks she received a daunting diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer. Her diagnosis hit me like a punch in the stomach; I felt knocked out and unsure what to do next. Leona knew, though. She went to the doctor, got treated, and kept working. With a drain in her chest, she and Taylor went to the Dominican Republic on a trip she'd earned for being a top seller with UL. When she got home, she kept working, and became our top seller that year.

Awards night at that year's convention was beautiful and emotional. As she was recognized and "crowned" as the only UL Queen ever, each of us got to go on stage, drape a feather boa around her neck and congratulate her personally. There was a long line of demonstrators waiting to hug Leona because she was so loved by all of us. She helped anyone who asked, always with a new idea, an encouraging word and a wicked sense of humor. In all the years I've been with UL, I have never heard one negative word said about Leona. She was that special.

When I saw Leona last January at our Leadership summit in Cancun, it was clear that the treatments were taking a toll on her. There were fewer long walks and late nights, more time spent in her room resting. By that time we'd all become so protective of her that there was always someone shadowing her to make sure her bag wasn't too heavy or she didn't need to take a break. Still, it was a wonderful trip. Even with the business changes that we were told about, the night we took this photo at our dinner on the beach seemed magical, one of the best I've had since I started with Uppercase Living.

I saw Leona again at last year's convention, where, again, she was honored for her sales and team successes. She was thinner last year, and wearing a wig to hide the damage caused by chemotherapy, but her eyes sparkled as much as ever, especially when she talked about her new baby grandson, Knox.  The last several months saw her condition deteriorate rapidly, and we lost her in early June after a very grueling battle. 

Throughout this ordeal, our Uppercase Living family was never far from Leona. She got frequent visits from local demonstrator friends, as well her "bestie," our incredible friend, Felicia. Our CEO, whom she dearly loved, paid her a special visit in her final weeks, then returned with an army of demonstrators to celebrate her life. As much as she loved UL, we loved her back. 

The glowing words said about Leona these last weeks have truly described how special she was. Several times, I've wanted to call and ask her if she heard how beautifully someone described her, or praised her success as a demonstrator. And then it hits me. 

Many times during the last few weeks I've marveled at just what an inspiration Leona was. I think we took for granted how hard she worked, because she made it look easy, never complaining and embracing every new challenge that came her way. That's just one thing I learned from her. While some of us sat around and worried or ranted, Leona just kept working. Strong and steady, she was an immovable pillar, a true inspiration in a company filled with inspirational stories. 

So as my flight gets ready to land in Indianapolis, and I am so excited to see my friends, get my fill of all things UL and be silly for a long weekend, there will be a great emptiness without Leona there. It seems impossible to believe that she's gone and that we can go on without her steady support and the example she set as a top demonstrator. I anticipate many tears as we remember and honor our Leona, and I know she won't be forgotten. With all the fun, laughter and friendship that I'm sure will be a part of the weekend in Indianapolis, there will be a scar created by her passing that is as deep and painful as the light she left behind shines bright. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's Almost Time - Convention 2015 Preview

If it's July and we're all done celebrating my daughter's birthday, then there can only be one thing left to focus on: CONVENTION!

This is the time we come together to celebrate the year's achievements, recognize our leaders, hear exciting announcements, attend valuable training and see our brand new catalog. We also catch up with old and new friends, most of whom we only see once or twice a year at our national events. There will be a lot of cheering, hugging, and laughing. There will be much "OMG" and "Holy Cow" and "No Way," as well as some "Shut Up!" And there will be tears: happy ones as we celebrate each others' achievements after a year of very hard work; poignant ones as we hear stories of how our products have inspired customers; and sad ones as we remember dear friends who aren't there with us.

As our home office staff are hard at work on every last detail of our time in Indianapolis, this year's convention city, we demonstrators are busy planning card games, pedicures and after-hours outings. We will go home exhausted, but will make the most of every minute of our short time together.

I promise that serious work will also get done. Although security around convention announcements is very tight, we know there will be new products and projects. We'll leave with ideas to support our customers and teams, new tools and training to help us maximize our businesses and a game plan to help us reach our goals, large and small, over the coming year. Personally, I can't wait to hear about our next trip incentive. Now that I've earned this year's trip, a vacation in Cancun next month, I'm eager to start working toward the next one!

I've got a couple of things planned when I return. First, I can't wait to share the excitement of our convention announcements with my team, so I'll be holding a team meeting next weekend. Anyone who is curious about the UL business is invited to join us at the beginning for a short presentation and Q&A. I'll also do a new catalog release night at a local winery. I'll bring the catalogs and samples, and provide plenty of snacks and dessert for everyone. Friends are welcome! You'll find more details on both events in my next newsletter, so make sure to subscribe if you're not already. I'll post frequent updates on Facebook so check in frequently. Finally, I'm now scheduling August parties with our brand new catalog. Contact me to reserve your date and be among the first to see all of our beautiful new ideas.

A friend of mine posted the following on our Convention Facebook page today:

Many of you ladies I have met and I already know you are all fabULous. Many of you ladies I have not met...and I am so excited to do so. But...I have to say...the outpouring of friendliness & open arms I am seeing in these recent posts just warms my heart. Everyone is so eager to welcome every new girl, every seasoned girl, every nervous girl, every giddy girl (oh...and guys too...sorry). So eager to make sure everyone is included in all the extra fun that is part of our convention (and you thought you were in for presentations way...notebook making, card playing, picture taking, personalized trainings, foot soaking...the list goes on. I am just so happy to have found this little niche of the universe to carry with me every day. You really are some of the kindest hearted people I have ever met! Safe travels to all of you and I look forward to all your smiling faces, warm hugs and lots of laughs! 

I can't wait to experience the warmth and excitement of convention. If you'd like to share this event and many more like it as a UL demonstrator, join me and we'll do it together next year! The first event to add to your calendar: Team Meeting Next Saturday.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

JoAnne's Baby Shower

When our friend JoAnne found out that she was unexpectedly pregnant last fall, the reaction from us friends went quickly from shock to delight and excitement. With our youngest kids in their last couple years of elementary school, most of us haven't been around babies for a while. Let's face it: at our age, our conversations focus more on peri-menopause than Pampers. We were even more excited when we found out that JoAnne was having a girl, after having two older boys. 
It was just a matter of weeks before we started planning the shower. Actually, I'm pretty sure our friend, Laura, called dibs on making the diaper cake before JoAnne could get the word "baby" out of her mouth. We settled on a French theme, since JoAnne was considering a few French names for the baby, with a pink, black and white color theme (actually Blush and Bashful, according to the guest of honor). The "Bébé Soiree" was on! 

It wasn't hard to divide up the work. Susan, the master organizer, offered to host the shower at her house; Sara took over the bulk of the food prep; Ginny was head of procurement; and Laura did the diaper cake. 
That left me with invitations, cake and favors. I decided that an occasion of this stature and importance merited proper paper invitations and not just an email. I found some cute pink and black scrapbook paper, pulled out my old paper crafting stuff and pulled together a simple layered invite. Favors were easy: store-bought macarons in cello bags with tags that I made to match the invitations. The cake was a little more challenging. We went back and forth on this after JoAnne was unfortunately diagnosed with gestational diabetes. But again, I decided that this baby shower required a cake. Besides, why should people have to go without cake just because of her bad luck? Ignoring my last big cake-baking endeavor, which ended with one layer on the kitchen floor, me screaming so loud the kids heard me from the garage, and an emergency run to the store for more cake mix, I decided on a pink champagne cake with raspberry jam between the layers and champagne buttercream frosting. Thankfully, polka dots went with our French theme, because that's pretty much the only thing I know how to pipe. With the cake decided on, the only thing left to do was figure out a cute UL piece to add to the decor.     

The thing about JoAnne is that she has a huge sense of humor. And also a potty mouth. I'm sure you're shocked to hear that a good friend of mine would (gasp) drop the occasional F-bomb, but it's true. In fact, she's gotten quite adept at circumventing the UL censors to create some unique custom designs. I knew that a cute little "Sweet Baby" sign just wouldn't be be quite right for this occasion. I also wanted to make something that she could use in the nursery after the baby was born. Suddenly, it came to me. Inspired by this book, I came up with the perfect idea. For the front of the tile, I used a damask embellishment in Cotton Candy behind the words "Bonjour Bébé" in one of my favorite UL fonts, Adore.


For the back of the tile, I wanted the same elegant look so I didn't change the fonts, colors or design. The wording, however, was something a mom or dad would utter at 3 a.m. when the precious little one just would not quiet down and drift off to dream land. It's possible that I had to submit the letters for this design in a little bit of a different order than you see here.

The pretty "Bonjour" sign was displayed right on a table in Susan's living room, along with the diaper cake and some other decorations. Halfway through the shower, I quietly flipped it around and waited for people to notice. Needless to say, there were plenty of laughs...and a little relief that JoAnne would be the one staying up with a crying newborn soon, and not the rest of us.

Doing this shower for JoAnne was an absolute pleasure. Her baby couldn't be sweeter; she is pink and perfect and has several adoring Aunties fighting over which one of us gets to hold her next. The sign will be go in her soon-to-be-Uppercased nursery and most of the time, it will be flipped to the side that says, "Bonjour Bébé."  Most of the time. Go the fuck to sleep. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Father's Day Hand Print Project Party

I've come to really enjoy the project parties I've been holding at CReATE Studio in Westlake Village. So far, they've been adults-only evening events.  But last week I held my first "Mommy And Me" project parties where little ones got to create adorable Father's Day gifts.
We started with the Uppercase Living white square boards, applied the "Best Dad Hands Down" expressions, then added each child's hand print. That's when it got to be really fun. Not having really spent time with toddlers for a while, I had forgotten a few things about how they operate. They quickly reminded me.  From choosing paint colors, to sitting down at the table (or on the table, in one case), to actually opening their little fists, they are in charge. I heard little voices saying "I do myself!" more than a couple of times.
The project took the perfect amount of time: the kids were able to complete it, eat a cookie, walk to the park while the paint dried, and pick up their finished projects, all within about an hour.

Raven made three projects: one for her Dad and the others for her grandfathers. 

Mom adds names with a Sharpie. Someone is watching to make sure she's doing it right.

Colton was so proud of what
he and baby sister Sienna made. 
Liam wasn't too excited about
the paint on his hands, but he
sure loved his project!
Between the paint, spray bottles, and lots and lots of cookie crumbs, our projects could have been disastrous. But the moms (and a couple of grandmas) kept their cool, the kids rose to the occasion, and we ended up with finished projects that will make some lucky dads and grandpas very, very happy this on Father's Day.
Since I wanted to take each of those cute kids home with me, I'm going to have to come up with another Mommy and Me project idea pretty quickly.  Can't wait to create with this fun little people again soon!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

THAT Clock

Over the years, it hasn't been unusual for our customers to be inspired by our products and create something unique and personal to them. After all, that's really what Uppercase Living is all about. What is unusual is for a customer design to become a perpetual best seller. That is exactly what happened with our Time Spent With Family clock.

A couple summers ago, I suddenly noticed that I was selling a LOT of these clocks. They'd been available for a while, with photos floating around the Internet. But all at once, I was getting orders for them from new customers I'd never had contact with. A quick check-in with my demonstrator friends confirmed that they were seeing the same trend. It seemed that a website had shared a photo of the clock and it had quickly gone viral. It was only a few days before we sold out of the clock mechanisms, and our next two shipments quickly sold out, too. People who'd never heard of Uppercase Living were now searching us out to order this clock. Since then, the clock has gone viral a handful of times with sales spiking periodically. The rest of the time, it is one of our most popular items, with consistent orders month after month.

It wasn't difficult to see why this particular item touched so many different people. As our lives become busier and free time becomes more elusive, what matter most are the moments we spend with our loved ones. Adding personal photos to this expression makes it the ultimate custom wall art, showcasing the times and people who mean the most to us.

Before long, we started seeing customers' photos of their clock installations. As you'd expect, many added their own personal touches to the basic design. Why copy our photo, when they could create their own version. We saw different vinyl colors as well as unique frames, sometimes in equally unique configurations.

Inspired by our customers' creativity, our designers decided to give them even more choices. New font designs were soon introduced, proving just as popular as the original, and resulting in more new customer creations.

Each customer photo is as special as the faces smiling out from the photos. I love knowing that each picture was painstakingly selected just for this clock. 

The latest addition to our Family Clocks is a Spanish version. I think it is going to be hugely popular as well. 

One other thing I've noticed about these clocks is that, more than any other item, my customers love to share their photos of it. Not only are they proud of their installation but they love to show off their precious family pictures. I love being able to give them something that is so close to their hearts, and I never get tired of hearing how much they love their clocks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Morning At MOPS

Even though I have three kids and I've been a mom for almost (gulp) 15 years, I'd never been to a MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) meeting until this week.  After all this time, never having been a member, I found myself presenting a craft to this group of about 30 moms who meet at Calvary Community Church in Westlake. 
I was invited by a sweet friend who I've gotten to know through my UL business. Cynthia, who's a wedding planner with a great eye for design and a huge heart, is a mentor mom in this group. She's been a long time customer and hostess and has a new UL idea each time I talk to her. She asked me to teach her group a little about decorating with vinyl and lead them through a craft project. 
While I was waiting for my turn to speak, I gave my full attention to the meeting to distract me from the nervousness of public speaking. I watched the group reminisce about the past year, celebrate two new babies on the way, plan for summer playdates and give out a ton of recognition. And presents. Lots and lots of presents. The speaker before me talked about teaching gratitude to kids and taking care of our relationships. Clearly, this was a group of quality ladies (a fact that was not lost on me as I kept trying to ignore those nerves). 
When it was finally my turn, I got on stage and told everyone a little bit about UL and my introduction to it: how I fell in love the first time I saw it and knew I didn't want to lose the opportunity to share it, even though I had three small children and no desire for a new business. I demonstrated a UL installation by adding the word "enjoy" in Etched Glass to an elegant trifle bowl (another one of Cynthia's great ideas), which we raffled off. And I explained the craft they'd all work on: plain tiles that would turn into dry-erase note boards and a place to clip a favorite photo or two. And I got off that stage as quickly as I could! Finally I could do what I really love about my business: provide our products and watch as each person creates something unique and personal. 

Some of the moms kept their projects simple. Others added several words of inspiration. The fun part was watching the camaraderie as the ladies shared suggestions, helped each other out and sweetly made a fuss about how cute each finished tile was.

Yes, there were Bundt cakes! Didn't I tell you this is a quality group? 

I loved seeing what each mom chose and how the special words on the tile would be inspirational to her in her daily life.
Before long, the meeting was over and all of those preschoolers (and younger!) flooded the room with their chatter and energy. It was like the sweet bubble of those two hours the moms had to enjoy each others' company was popped by a toddler's sticky finger or sweet laugh. As the moms said good bye for the summer, it occurred to me how close their friendships would grow over the years. And while they were all there getting support for their young families, they were also becoming a family of friends. What better reason is there for a mom to keep on coming? Oh right, Bundt cake. And presents.

If you would like me to lead a craft project for your group or organization, please contact me


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