• GleeSigns

New Year, Same Me, Big Goals

Gorgeous photo by Sara Fitz Photography

Now that the craziness of the holidays has wound down a bit and I took a much needed break between Christmas and New Years, I've been able to take some time to look back on this past year. It was my first official year running GleeSigns, and even just being part-time still, it was wild and amazing.

I officially started in April when I launched a separate Instagram account for my work, registered with The Knot, and committed to two separate bridal events. It happened so quickly that I hardly had time to really set any intentions for the year, or really even the business itself, and it just kind of organically moved and grew as time went on. I made some mistakes, had some victories, and learned a lot about what I'm capable of, where I can push myself, and where I need to ease up and relax a little.

Now for 2019, I have big plans. Some major goals. And I am beyond excited. So I'll start with a little recap of this past year, and then go into my goals for 2019!


2018 Recap

I officially launched (or relaunched) GleeSigns

I started working under the name GleeSigns in 2015 after a year of making signs for friends who were getting married and having babies, but it really all began in 2014 with creating signs for my own wedding. I had seen so many signs and ideas on Pinterest and had already been creating artwork for Trader Joe's for 6 years, so I knew I could handle making my own wedding signs. And soon enough, friends and family who were getting engaged started hiring me to do signs for their homes and weddings, so I figured it was about time to make this a real thing. I knew I wanted to center the business around creating signs for big occasions and events in life and, with my new married name of Gleeson, the business name came quickly to mind and it stuck!

I worked under that name for another 2 years or so until my daughter was born in 2017 and things quickly came to a halt. A part-time business out of my home was just not going to happen while I had a baby at home who only napped for 30 minutes stretches. But eventually it got to a point where I could get some work done while she slept and GleeSigns officially relaunched in April of 2018!

I participated in 2 bridal events

This was huge for me. I participated in two wildly different bridal shows in the hopes of gaining some clients and meeting some other vendors in the wedding industry. I think I met some of those goals with each event, but I learned that I need to be much more selective in choosing the events I participate in. I had done a few craft fairs in the past few years with basically no success . I realized it was likely because most of my services focus on weddings and people visiting crafts fairs are usually looking for items they can take home that day, not vendors to book for a major life event.

So I found a bridal show quickly that was within a reasonable budget of what I could afford at the time. My biggest mistake was not researching the show to see what types of vendors they bring in. Considering my work is custom to each client, it doesn't exactly come at a budget price tag. And the other vendors? SO BIZARRE. No joke. While they did have a makeup artist, a DJ, and a caterer (super normal and expected), they also had a HelloFresh rep, a realtor, an investment firm, and Anderson Windows. I'm sorry, but why? No stationers, no florists, no rentals company, no bridal shops!? While I did meet a ton of brides who I truly hope to work with over the next year or two, I need to make sure I do my research in the future

The other show took me on slightly last minute because their previous signage artist had to drop out, and OMG what a difference! Every vendor attending was exactly who you would look for or meet when planning a wedding. The event itself was meant to be FUN with live music, hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, multiple photographers and a videographer documenting the whole night-- a PARTY. Not only that, but they held a networking event the night before the show for all of the vendors participating to meet each other and connect. What a difference! I connected with several that I still keep in touch with and would love to collaborate with in the future.

My table at The Big Fake Wedding Philly

I made an ah-may-zing business connection

After joining a few Facebook groups to connect with other wedding professionals in the area, I came across a post by a woman who had just started her own vintage event rentals company and was looking for connections as well. I decided to message her to ask if she rented potential signage pieces and if she already worked with a calligrapher. After going back and forth a bit, we realized that we live about 10 minutes apart and are basically MADE to work together! Melissa at Vintage Kissed Rentals and I connected right off the bat and I soon helped her create a few pieces for a styled shoot she was planning. A few months later, and we are currently working together to create another styled shoot that we are both beyond excited about. She is an absolute gem and I am so excited to continue to collaborate with her!

2019 Goals

This year, I'm starting out the year by setting an intention word of the year, and that word is BALANCE. I have struggled all year to balance part-time employment, part-time self-employment, taking care of my house, and full-time motherhood (because motherhood is full-time no matter how much you work!). The closer I got to the end of the year, the better I learned how to manage the little amount of time I had everyday while my girl slept. However, the one thing that always fell behind, up until around November, was taking care of myself. I finally joined a fitness program to get myself moving and active and to just take an hour a week to totally focus on myself. But besides that, a lot of other things I used to do for fun really fell behind. I hardly bake as much as I used to, yoga has fallen by the wayside, and so has reading. I used to read SO much and I miss it! So this year is about balancing all of it. If I really want to take a day (really a 3 hour stretch in the afternoon) to take a bath, read a book, binge watch some Netflix, I'm going to do it! Obviously not every day or every week, but that's the whole point of this-- balance. What kind of wife, mother, and business-woman am I if I'm exhausted, out of shape, and completely burnt out?

Besides creating balance in my life, I've got a few other exciting goals that I'm determined to make happen as well. These are my big, major, no excuses goals I'm determined to make happen.

  1. Start teaching workshops - At this point, I feel like I know enough to be able to teach a few things about creating chalkboard signs, so why not!? I would love to work with a small, local brewery on a low-key night to host a "Brushes and Brews" workshop where we drink good beer and learn to make a chalkboard sign. I would also love to teach private workshops! Kind of like a Girls-Night-In, chalkboard lettering, wine-filled fun night where people could hire me to come to them and teach a small group in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

  2. Launch a lettered-jacket part of the biz - I am OBSESSED with the lettered jacket trend! I'm currently in the middle of working on one for my sister, and (so soon) one or two for Melissa at Vintage Kissed, and then eventually one for myself (but what will I write?!). I really want to make this a regular offering for GleeSigns. I especially want to be able to turn it into an event/workshop where I work with a group of ladies to create their own custom jackets! I'm also thinking a bachelorette party event, girls night in, bridal party fun type of thing for this too. The first jacket will be done by the end of January and hopefully lots more after!

  3. Get digital - I absolutely love working with pen and paper and really struggle with getting good-looking work on my iPad. But I know that in order to turn GleeSigns into a full-time, money-making biz, I need some steady, passive income making its way into my bank account. So that means some digital downloads I can sell over and over again. So I am making it a serious goal to get some work online by the summer. What kind of work? Who knows. I'll figure it out!

So I also have a few smaller, back of my mind goals I'd love to do as well when I've got some surprise spare time.

  1. Get three calligraphy style options on my website - This one is a little looser for me but still a must-do. Right now I only secretly offer envelope calligraphy, basically to anyone who asks me to. I'm not super comfortable with it, I can really only confidently use markers to do it, and my brush pen lettering is shaky. But from all of the work I've done, every person who has hired me has been so happy with the work so that has to count for something, right? So it's time to just dive in and do it. So it's a must-do but last on my list, because really what it comes down to is sitting down for a few hours one afternoon and just writing out the styles I've already been doing, and then publishing them all on my website. Literally a one-day project but one I keep putting off.

  2. Create a holiday line -So I am a total sucker for Christmas, even more so since having a kid. I just love the holidays. I tried so, so hard to launch a holiday line this year but just could not get my self together to get it done. Hand-calligraphed ornaments, fun holiday signs, mugs, I honestly don't even know. But I know I want to get it done.

So that about wraps it up! I had so much fun and learned so much in 2018. I think 2019 can only get better!

Yes, I did win a Dundee at my husband's family Yankee Swap. Could not have been happier about that random gift win!

Our daughter *almost* sat still for aChristmas morning photo.

I mean, c'mon. How cute?!

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It’s here! 2020 has begun and I’m startling to settle in to lots of “new”s. New year, new baby, new home dynamic. LOTS of “new” going on over here. That said, I've been able to look back over the past