Getting creative with Misty from Bubba Lubba

As an early childhood teacher and mother to three-year-old daughter Tatum, Misty Bouwer is certainly busy. But it doesn’t stop her from pursuing her creative dreams on the side. Discovering a love for sewing, Misty started a handmade children’s clothing and décor company. Featuring delicate bibs and bows and everything in between, she’s now set up her business entitled Bubba Lubba online. With almost 500 friends and followers combined on Facebook, Misty is kicking it in the craft world.
We interviewed Misty to get an idea of how she turned something she loved into something even more awesome…
Can you tell us a little bit about Bubba Lubba and how it started?
Bubba Lubba Boutique came about after having my daughter. I’m an early childhood teacher so am used to being extremely busy! Once we’d settled into a routine and I was on maternity leave, I decided to pursue other creative interests. I was already a huge supporter of handmade, having found many lovely stores and even lovelier ladies running them on Instagram. I had sewn quite a lot when I was younger and continued to do small projects here and there. However, the time at home and a gorgeous baby girl renewed my interest. Having always been quite crafty, I also expanded this into custom decor such as customised plaster letters, matryoshkas and peg dolls.
What process do you undertake to make your clothing products? 
Basically I find patterns from various sources and fabrics that I like and would put my children in and go from there. I then run ideas past my extremely supportive insta-group of other handmaidens, creating all manner of things, and get their opinions and feedback. If its a new pattern I’ll also send a few samples to either reps or friends to ensure that the fit is right.  I like to do a limited number of each item as that was what drew me to handmade in the first place, the uniqueness and love put into each piece.
How long does it take and where do you source the materials from?
This depends on the item. Custom pieces generally take the longest as I spend time searching for special fabrics and trims to ensure a unique, one of a kind piece. A simple item such as a basic skirt can be done in about half an hour whilst something more complex, like a lined fitted dress with a twirl skirt takes much longer.
Do you just wing it when it comes to making them or do you go off a template?
I use patterns from several places, sometimes ‘mashing’ two together to create something a little more different.
How do you market your business? Is it mainly by word of mouth?
At present I mainly utilise Instagram and word-of-mouth locally. I am about to do a re-launch with exciting changes, so I will be utilising several different platforms in order to promote this.
For more information on Bubba Lubba, follow the Facebook page here. 

Getting your Creative Groove Back

Nowadays everyone wants to push the boundaries, think outside the box, make it to the next level and get their creative juices flowing. I won’t bore you with more overused clichés and ‘buzzwords’ – you get the picture. At work this is commonly the case. Employers push employees to come up with the ideal vision for a project in the most new, exciting, engaging and creative way possible; without stopping to think that a stroke of genius doesn’t come from good directional leadership.

The beauty of having the ability to be creative comes from a natural reservoir for curiosity and broader thinking. The same way you exercise your muscles to keep in shape, so can your creative perspective. Yet what does it mean to be creative? The standard definition describes the art of creativity to relate or involve the use of your imagination or original ideas to create something. Ah, the timeless desire to come up with the next one-of-a-kind idea.

There are multiple ways to be original and creative, and that is rooted in the being yourself and showcasing your personality in your own unique style. So how can you reign in your inner creative guru? Here are our top three pics of how to get your groove back:

  • Get disciplined; ironic as it may seem, setting aside time for yourself is the first step to getting back to a relaxed and idea-flowing mind-set
  • Say ‘ohhhmm’ and meditate; sure, it’s sounds boring at first with all that sitting still and deep breathing but finding a bit of inner peace can help you find thoughts you didn’t know you had
  • Stare and daydream; sit under a tree and look at the clouds, and simply let your mind meander
  • Get your coloured pencils; colouring books have certainly made a come-back, with cool and intricate patterns for you to fall into
  • Think inside the box; yes, you read that right – instead of thinking completely differently about something, build on those already-useful ideas in new ways
  • Pick another project; focusing all your energy on one thing may create a mental block (hello, writer’s block…) you’re bound to get stuck into – ‘distracting’ yourself with other little things on the side can effectively ease this and regain your focus

These are only some of the things that can bring back some time to get back to your creative roots.

Let us know how you get creative!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

Why Email isn’t Great for Productivity

 

Mail has changed its form multiple times over the years from telegrams to handwritten notes, to our most recent invention of electronic mail. But are we reaching a point of email fatigue?

There’s no doubt that email has transformed the inner workings of today’s organisations, limiting the amount of face-to-face conversations taking place between departments and allowing for recipients to respond whenever they are able to. Email is thus great for non-time sensitive matters, and everyone knows how to use it; although not everyone knows how to use it well.

Let’s face it, email isn’t great for productivity. Ask yourself this; how many times have you stopped what you were doing to check your inbox, or your phone every time it ‘pings’ fearing it’s a time sensitive matter, only to find that it was either nothing important at all or that it was someone else’s phone? It’s a distraction that disconnects you from your work.

Think of all the emails you get per day; it’s an avalanche with your name on it, and you hoping it will get sorted before it’s ‘time to go home’ o’clock. Throughout this process it becomes more and more difficult to separate important messages from noise, and so we fall into the trap of being part of the 39% of people, who regularly check, send and receive emails outside of working hours.

However, there are ways to regain your productive self at work:

  • Create filters: this is easy to do – you just need to delve into your mailbox settings. Filters will help you get organised and stop emails from clogging up your inbox.
  • Set aside specific times throughout the day to deal with them; don’t go back to thinking to check them ‘real quick’, otherwise you’ll get sucked in again.
  • Turn off notifications: these annoying pings and distracting flashes take away your focus.
  • Keep them short and sweet: emails should get straight to the point. Don’t waffle!

One more thing – most people go overboard with the CC function ‘just to keep you in the loop’, so don’t feel like you have to be part of every conversation.

You can do this!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

Mastering MailChimp

Email – it’s the glue that holds our digital communications together.  It’s part of our standard business cards and contact information, and it’s how we reach millions of people all around the world. Making international communications, and sending out various elements of information to customers easier, we left our email system as it was. That is until an email marketing company came along and made some changes to how we interact with our customer base and engage them in our businesses.

MailChimp has grown into the leader of the email pack in the concrete jungle, becoming the world’s leading email marketing platform. MailChimp’s primary functionality is its newsletters and how you can customise their templates and make your email newsletters truly personal.

Nothing beats getting to know a new program than by having the time to play around with it and figure everything out; but sometimes all we need is some tips on how to get started and then go on to mastering another skill. We’ve gone out to find the best tips and tricks to take note of the next time you want to use MailChimp to send out another awesome newsletter:

  • Segment your list for targeted marketing; Creating marketing segments is a great solution for making sure your audience is receiving the content that appeals to them. Not every user likes everything your business has to offer and you don’t want to bombard them with emails that don’t appeal to them.
  • Create and import your subscriber list; successful email marketing starts with your subscriber list. Open rates, click through rates, and most importantly – results – are all directly impacted by who is receiving and taking action on your emails.
  • Utilise the drag and drop email templates; MailChimp’s drag and drop editor is a great way to avoid code and build a nice-looking HTML email template.
  • Make use of the preview and test tool; Prior to sending your campaign, it’s crucial to use MailChimp’s Preview and Test tool to see if your email is optimised for mobile devices. This simple Preview tool has saved me many times. The last thing you want to do is send an email that can’t be read on a mobile device.
  • Set the time with the time optimisation feature; MailChimp has created a tool that analyses your subscriber click activity history to see when they’re typically the most engaged in your campaigns. MailChimp then compares that data to every other subscriber in your list. From this information, the Send Time Optimisation feature is able to calculate the time when subscribers on your list are most likely to interact with your campaigns.

Happy mailing!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina

Snap, Crackle and Pop – What’s so Cool about Snapchat?

Technology has opened the world to new opportunities and possibilities, and given us the freedom to experiment with new ways of communicating with each other. As much as we’re trend setters, we love to follow trends and hop on the bandwagon of whatever’s ‘in-the-now’. Our favourite apps like Twitter and Instagram serve the purpose of keeping us informed in 140 characters or less, and showcasing our photography skills with filtered pictures of our daily adventures. But what about Snapchat?

The app, known by its infamous ghost icon, became our new accessory in 2011 and made taking selfies a lot more fun. Designed to establish ‘in-the-moment’ conversations, with messages that disappear and photo stories that only last for 24 hours, Snapchat has restructured the way we communicate with friends once again.

We, in the younger generations, have found a new and creative way of letting friends know what we’re up to, where we are, and (this is mostly the case) how we’re simply passing the time. With filters, such as dog ears and flower headbands, and location tags, you’d be amazed at how much faster the time flies.

Here are our top five picks for why Snapchat is cool:

  1. Custom and creative; you can take a picture of something in front of you or a selfie and write a caption to it or add some emojis to express your Snap-happy moment, which makes the process of sharing an experience even more personal
  2. Filters; take a break from the everyday look and try a filter of a dog, complete with folded ears and a button-cute nose, to brighten up your day. Businesses make use of these features too, with the likes of McDonald’s creating interactive filters – to remind you of the burger and fries they have just down the road…
  3. Location tags; wherever you might find yourself, you can check whether there’s a location tag for the city you’re in to let friends know where you’ve travelled off to – you can find these when you take a snap and swipe left
  4. Self-destruct timers; this sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is. Instead of sending someone a photo they can go back and look at whenever they want, you can set a time for how long someone can view the picture – which gives Snapchat its feeling of inconsequentiality; shared for only a fleeting moment
  5. To send, or not to send; you get to choose who you send your Snaps to from the in-app contact list – after all, you wouldn’t want to be sending those goofy pics off to the wrong person…

These are just some of the awesome things Snapchat gives you the freedom to get creative with. Let us know what you like about Snapchat; and what better way to do that than on Snapchat itself!

You can find us Wordy Birds on Snapchat with the following username or by scanning the snapcode:

wordy-bird-snapcode

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

What’s All the Hype about SEOs and what does it mean?

In today’s technology-focused world everything has its own term, abbreviation and jargon. There are all these new words and their associated confusion, that we barely keep track of all of them. One of the most popular ones is SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation. In its simplest terms, an SEO is a process used to increase traffic to your website through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo (although, who still uses Bing?). This makes SEOs fine tuned to keywords or buzzwords, which are commonly searched for on the Internet. The more of these your website has, the better and easier it will be for people to find you online.

So what’s the hype about this little abbreviation? As the business world has evolved, so have ways of reaching new and existing clients. Websites are a core staple of any business model now, and so the best way to get organic traffic to your website is through SEOs, which come from your content; things such as product information, blogs and links. In a previous blog, we talked about the importance of updating your website content to keep it fresh and full of new keywords. Keeping these up to date is is what helps to use your website SEOs better.

However, it’s important to note that making the content relevant to your specific audience, and giving them plenty of new materials to read is what drives returning visitors. This is where embedded links are part of a successful SEO campaign. These links are probably the single most important factor toward ranking for competitive search terms, and they matter just as much to established websites as to brand-new ones.   

It’s all about being seen so people out there know what your business does, and how it can make their lives better. We all want to attract the right crowd, which is going to want to look at your website and follow the story through high-resolution pictures, read all the information written up, and follow the extra links to more great content. This concept adds to the hype of what SEOs are and what they’re used for. They are the building block of a business’s strategy to reach the right people who know what they’re looking for.

Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.