Redirecting... please be patient

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I will announce the winners of The Pleated Poppy and Sevi Designs giveaway tomorrow!  Sorry it's taken me so darn long!  Life has taken me on a very busy roller coaster ride!

OK, so maybe I am begging now?  haha.  Today is the last day to vote on the Lovelies!!  I would love love love it if you voted for me!!  Maybe I will do a big giveaway if I win.  All the people that voted will be eligible to win.  That would be my way of thanking all of you for your amazing support for me and my blog!!!  Without all of you, this blog would be so boring!  You all make it brighter.  Better.  Happier.  Thank you for that.

To go vote, click right here

P.S.  Scroll down!  My husband hijacked my blog and wrote a really great business post for you all about Agile Business!!  Make sure and leave him some positive thoughts!!  :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

So You're Thinking of Starting a Business Part 3: Agile Business

So she asked me back, and how could I say no?

Last time I was here I talked about competition and being excited that they are copying you.  This time I want to let you know about a philosophy that has been around in the software development industry for quite sometime.  Agile Software Development.  Now I am not going to talk about software design, but rather how you can use this process to help keep your business innovating and your customers happy.

First let's look at the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  • Responding to change over following a plan
Now, this statement doesn't mean the stuff on the right is not important, it just means that the bold items on the left are valued over them.

Let's dig into them shall we?  

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.  As individuals we are all unique.  We have our own thoughts, ideas and interpretations and when we interact with each other and more importantly, each others thoughts and ideas, wonderful things begin to happen.  Process and tools help you stay efficient, reliable and productive, but none of those things will breed innovation like working with others.  One thing I find extremely important here, is getting outside of your area of expertise to have these interactions.  My first business success came from meeting with an Imaginarium employee, property manager and a used golf equipment salesrep.  The conversation that came out of that spawned a full suite of homeowner association management solutions.

OK, so maybe this next one needs to be reworded for any business not in the software industry.  But I challenge you to come up with one and leave it and the reason behind the change in the comments.  Who knows, maybe I might use it when I speak on this subject at the Scottsdale Small Business Conference in April.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.  I think this one can be a stickler for many businesses.  The world today can get very concerned over getting the better deal, not getting sued (or being able to sue) and just being in the right.  Time is to short to be concerned with all this crap and if someone is overly concerned with it that should raise some red flags.  I want to work WITH my customers.  I not only want them to be happy but I want to take their input and make my business better.  Collaborating with your customers can also bring new ideas, cost saving solutions and long lasting partnerships.

Responding to change over following a plan. To me this is the biggest and more important of all the above.  Plans are good.  They give you a path and direction to follow.  However, what you do when a wrench gets thrown in your work is what matters the most.  There are too many examples of this in the business world.  Companies seeing things changing around them and their failure to adapt to the situation and becoming stagnant and irrelevant.  One of the principles in agile is reflection.  This can be handled with a weekly retrospective.  Get your team (yes I said team, not staff and not employees) together and look at what went on the previous week.  Celebrate the success and discuss the failures and pain points. Come up with a plan to make the necessary changes and a way to measure your progress.

I issue a challenge to you.  Try reading up on the agile process and find ways to adopt in your business.  Then strive for just one percent better every week.  One percent is not much, but like that retirement plan compounded interest pays off and by the end of the year you will be 68% better.  Not shabby for a small incremental change every week.

Until next time she asks me back, go change YOUR world.

Mike Benner

Thursday, February 25, 2010

:: Sponsor Giveaway :: Two Little Tots

I have another fun giveaway for you this week!!  Meet Melissa.  She is the owner of the Etsy shop, Two Little Tots.  If you have kids, you will love her shop!  I especially love the hooded towels!!  Let's find out more about Melissa and how she got started with Two Little Tots...

I was a working girl for 10 years at Target HQ and I made a huge career change in May of 2008 and became a stay-at-home mom of my twin girls.  I have the greatest job in the world, because I am able to stay at home with the girls and create fun baby and kid essentials.  Since, I have been at home, I now have the time to work on my creative ideas and sell that I can me a mom, but still have a little business on the side.  I have always loved creating things with fabric and paper, so Two Little Tots was a long time dream for me.  Once I became a mom, I found it was hard to find cute and unique baby items, so I started making a lot of baby gifts and things for the girls, over time, I decided to open an Etsy shop.  The hardest part was coming up with a name for my shop, then one day it hit me...'Two Little Tots', it was so fitting, because it is my real life everyday.  I have two wonderful little girls in my life and they bring me so much joy and now I have this wonderful little business, that my dear husband has been so supported of me.

How fun!  I love hearing how people start their businesses!!

Melissa has been so kind in offering a $25 Gift Certificate to her shop!!  How lovely of her.

Here is how to enter:

Go visit Two Little Tots the shop.  Come back here and tell me what you would get if you won the $25 shop credit.

Follow my blog

Follow Melissa's blog

Follow me on Twitter. {about to combine Twitter accounts, so not giving the other option anymore}

Tweet, blog and/or Facebook about this giveaway

Tell me your favorite memory from this week so far.

Good Luck!! 
Giveaway ends Next Wednesday 
at some random time of my choosing.  ;)

There is still time to vote!!  Only 3 days left though!  It takes mere seconds to vote.  Promise!  :)  Click here.  Thank you again to those of you that have!!!  You ROCK my socks off.

The Lovelies

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Morning My Friends!

Thank you all so much for the kind comments about my new blog makeover!!  Beth really did a great job!!  Contact her to do a makeover for your blog!  She does super fast, and a blast to work with.  

I know I haven't had much time to blog lately.  So sorry about that.  I hate not talking to you all on a semi daily basis.  I will try harder, but until I am all caught up with these orders, I can't promise anything.  But I will try.  I know the 3rd installment of "So I've Been Thinking Of Starting a Business" didn't go up last week, but it will be going up TOMORROW!  So... this is where you lovely friends come in!  Ask away!  Don't be shy.  Remember my husband is now part of this series, and he is VERY good at all things business... you can ask him {or me} anything that comes to mind.  Even about his tattoos if you want. haha!!  Just leave your questions here in the comments,  because my inbox is really full right now.
I now leave you will some unedited terrible quality {but fun} iPhone photos.  :)

I am a fabric addict.

More fabric.


 OWLS!  She loves them. :)  Thanks Lemon Tree Studio!  ;)


 The day I went to pick Luna {"Moona"} up when she was found!

Cuddling with "Moona" the day she was found.
I think running away tired Luna out for the rest of her life.


The perfect Valentine's Day card I got for Mike.  :)


 Our girls' new bunkbed


Oh look!  More fabric!  

And more!


I think she was tired.

 Posy Pin from The Pleated Poppy.  Looks cute on my purse!


My new friend Melanie!  We finally met in real life last Saturday! 
She came and helped me SO MUCH!  Love her!


 Oh and she brought me more FABRIC!
Shocking.  ;)  She owns a fabric store online called
Above All Fabric.


Holy orders!

I wouldn't be The Camera Strap Girl if I didn't 
show some of them, right?  Some being over


 And here they are all ready to go to their new homes!  


There is still time to vote!!  Only 4 days left though!  It takes mere seconds to vote.  Promise!  :)  Click here.  Thank you again to those of you that have!!!  You ROCK my socks off. 

The Lovelies

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


So. This is what I have been talking about on Twitter! This super exciting thing... My blog was taken over by Beth and redone!! At my request, of course! How amazing of a job did she do? Oh my my my! It's like she looked inside my mind. It's perfect. What do YOU think? Oh... and how about my NEW BLOG NAME?! :D And the little slogan? LOVE IT BETH!!! You rock!

Oh yes... and my new signature below.  I am in-love with my blog!!  

P.S.  Be sure and read the post below this one to help a sista out!  ;)

Only 5 days left!

Hello lovely friends!!

I will have more of a blog post for you tonight, but I wanted to stop in.  I got an email last night letting me know that I am in the TOP 5 on the Lovelies Awards in the Handmade Catergory!!  There are only 5 days left to vote!  I would really love your vote... hint Hint HINT!  ha ha!!! 

And, thank you so much to those who have already voted for me!!  You rock!

You can vote by clicking here.  You can comment, and tweet it as well.  Two ways to vote!  :)  Look at the bottom on the post on their blog and you'll see the green "tweet" button  - just click that to tweet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

28 Day Winter Escapes Giveaway By :: HarperTeen ::

Hello my friends!  There is something special going on today!  

HarperTeen is hosting an fantastic promotion.  They'll be giving away a signed book every day in the month of February and releasing an exclusive Q&A with the author to be posted on that day's partnered blog. Check out HarperTeen's 28 Days of Winter Escapes Book-a-Day Giveaway by clicking here!

I am really excited that I am hosting the Q&A with Amy Brecount White for you today!  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Amy on Twitter.  She is incredibly nice!  You can follow her on Twitter too!  I encourage it.  :)  To win a signed copy of Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White check out today's giveaway by clicking here! There is a chance at winning an iPod Touch!  Sweet!

Lovely friends... I would love it if you would get the word out about this blog post!!  Let's show Amy some love, because she seriously deserves it!  See that tweet button at the top left of this post?  If you click on tweet, it will automatically retweet this post.  How about linking it up on Facebook too?  Would love it if you'd do that!!  Hugs to you!

Let me brag about this book for a bit. . . 

Forget-Her-Nots Synopsis:

Something—some power—is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?

My Thoughts:

I was intrigued by the synopsis, so I requested this book.  I am really glad I did!  This book totally exceeded my expectations.  I loved how different it was from so many teen fiction out there right now.  Amy really went outside the box by making this entire book about Laurel and the flowers.  I found it to be very interesting, and a very good read.  I am a bit bummed, however, that it is a stand alone book. I would LOVE it if amy revisited Laurel and Avondale School.  I found the characters to be real.  Meaning that I could imagine the things they were doing in real life.  Amy was very detailed throughout the book, which is important for me while reading.  It helps me envision everything that's going on.  

I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Forget-Her-Nots!  It'll be in stores March 2nd!  Go grab your own copy then!  I hope you'll come back here and tell me what you thought after you read it!  

I give Forget-Her-Nots a 4.5 out of 5 stars!  This is Amy's debut novel, and she definitely rocked it!

Now, here is the exclusive interview with Amy Brecount White!

Amy Brecount White 
  1. Laurel must deal with mean girls, crushes and the prom while trying to understand her own feeling about the loss of her mother. What was the hardest part of high school for you?

    Trying to hide that fact that I was truly, irrevocably a geek. I could never get enough books! I loved to read everything from whopper Russian novels to travel guidebooks. Not exactly hot date topics. I mainly thought of myself as a smart girl, so when other things—like guys or friends or my tennis match— crashed and burned, I had my grades to fall back on and carry me on to exciting new people and places.
   Laurel had it much tougher than I did. 
  1. Flowers play a main part of Forget-Her-Nots. What flower is your favorite to receive from a special someone?

    I absolutely love all flowers, but if I had to pick one . . . gardenias. Their scent is so sweet— it can transform a whole room!— and they have a pure, ivory beauty about them. In the language of flowers, gardenias are for “ecstasy and transport,” which sounds fun to me. 
  1. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

    Absolutely.  I still do.  Wes in Sarah Dessen’s The Truth about Forever blew me away. And I will always have a thing for Nat from Elizabeth Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, one of my all-time faves.  I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Justin (from Forget-Her-Nots) either.  :)
  1. Do you believe in love at first sight?

    Yes and no. I definitely believe in crush at first sight, but I think love— the kind that lasts— is something that develops only when you come to know a person truly and deeply.  That takes time and energy and patience. 
  1. What is your favorite wintertime activity?

    Ice skating.  It’s smooth and elegant, and you can do it while holding hands. I’m not out there doing triple salchows, but I love to glide. 

Thank you for visiting my blog today to read about Forget-Her-Nots!  And thank you Amy Brecount White for the interview!  You sound so FUN!  Maybe I'll see you at a book signing here in Phoenix.  ;)  

Bellflowers to you all!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do You Have Questions For My Husband? Or me?

Hello lovelies!

Scroll down for the fun giveaway below this post.
Also... I am going to be working on the 3rd installment of "So I've Been Thinking Of Starting A Business" tonight.  My husband will make another appearance!  So, if you have questions you'd like us to cover, please please either leave them in the comments here, or email me.  shealynn AT gmail DOT com.  You can also click on the "Contact Me" over there -------> .
My husband is SUPER busy, and is going out of town tomorrow, so if you can get them in fast, that would be awesome!

Looking forward to your questions, suggestions, and/or statements!

Now... I need to go sew!  These camera strap covers can't make themselves... unfortunately.  ;)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

:: Sponsor Giveaway :: Sevi Designs

I would like you to meet Katherine.  She is the mastermind and owner of Sevi Designs.  She creates many many things, which she sells in her shop.  She is one of those creative, fun, sarcastic lovely people that you're happy to know.  So many times she makes me laugh on Twitter.  Twitter has become quite a wonderful place for me.  I have "met" so many wonderful people on there.  I have actually met a couple of people from Twitter in person.  That's always so much fun!  I am meeting a new friend this weekend, and can not wait.  I hope to one day meet Katherine!  

Today Katherine is offering a giveaway.  But she has written a little info for all of you so you can get to know her better!  Take it away Kate!

I am a mom to 2 fabulous kids. Devin is 6, and Sophia or Fia as we call her is 3(almost 4). I am a wife to Jay who is a Fireman  ;-) 
My PT Day Job is a Dental Assistant. Whenever I am not working I am home doing what I love most...CREATING.  I love fabric, and sewing. Because of this I make a whole slew of handmade goodies.  I like to make fun, and sometime whimsical items. Just check out my shop and see!

 Would you like to know what Katherine is offering one lucky winner?  I thought you might.  :)

How about a SUPER CUTE clutch AND a matching KEY FOB?!  

How cute is that?!  I love that fabric combination!  Fabulous!

OK!  Here is how to enter...

Leave a comment for each one!! 
Remember!  You do not have to answer every question, but the more you answerthe more chances you have at winning.  :)

And PLEASE remember to check back here to see if you have won! If you win, you must send me an email claiming your prize. 
You have EIGHT chances to win!!  

1. Just leave a comment.
2. Go visit Katherine's website, SeviDesigns.  Come back here & tell me what you are dying to have!!
3. Follow Katherine on Twitter. And follow her blog.  Leave her some comment love!
4. Blog, Tweet and/or Facebook about the giveaway.
If you Tweet about this giveaway, you can just cut and past the following:
Enter to win a SUPER CUTE Clutch & Key Fob from SeviDesigns over at The Benner Daily!! @shealynn @sevidesigns
5. Follow Me on Twitter.
(Two options: here or here.)
6. Follow my blog.
7.  Become a *Shey*[B] Facebook Fan by clicking here.
8.  Purchase something from SeviDesigns before the giveaway is over!

Good luck!!

This giveaway ENDS next Monday ...  time? ... you'll see.  ;) 

Thank you Katherine for offering to do a giveaway and Sponsoring The Benner Daily!!  You rock!
If you are interested in advertising with The Benner Daily
Please email for more information!
shealynn AT

P.S.  Please don't forget to Vote.  I believe I am in 3rd place!
The Lovelies

Also!  I have added some new fun things to my shop!!  Check them out by clicking here!

Vote For A Name

Hello Friends.  Giveaway is coming soon as well as the winner to The Pleated Poppy giveaway, but I wanted to pop in really quick... I am thinking about changing my blog name.  This is where you come in!  I have put a poll up on my sidebar ... over there -------->  
Vote for your favorite name for my blog, would ya?  I would love to see what your opinions are!  I will explain the "Moona" thing later.  :)

Thanks!  Off to bed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

She Is Home!!

Luna is home!
My mom lives in North Carolina.
My MOM prayed.  Asked God to show her
where to call.  He did.  She called me, screaming, "I FOUND LUNA!!!!"  
Luna was hit by a car, but is doing just fine aside from a slight limp.  
Thank you Jesus!  My dog is now home!
Thank you MOM!  I love you so much.

And The Benner Daily family is once again complete.
Thank you all so much for your concern, prayers, and the love sent via Twitter and this blog!  
I love you all! I haven't stopped crying since my mom called a couple hours ago.  :)
*Sigh* This has been one insane week!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lost Dog. New Designs.

EDITED: Luna is now home!  :)  Read about it in the post above this one.

My dog ran away yesterday.  I don't know what time.  I don't know how she got out.  I don't know anything.  All I know is, I am horrible, because I forgot to put her name tag on her new collar.  So.  She has no identification whatsoever.  Who does that?  Ugh!  I am calling the shelters and scouring the internet as we speak.  Come home Luna!  :(  

On a happier note.  I have made some new camera strap slipcovers.  Some new fabrics, and 2 brand new designs!!  Check em out...

Now.  I made a brand new gathered design last weekend for a very special fundraiser... it's called The Cora.  You may have seen it in my previous blog post.  :)  More colors coming soon!!

And last night I made my new favorite!  The Tuxedo!!  Oooh it's so lovely!

All are available in my store now!  Click here.
Time for me to get back to work on orders and finding my pup.
Here's hoping you have a better day than me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So I've Been Thinking Of Starting A Business... Part 2

We are working on Part 3 tonight!  If you have questions, suggestions, please see this post...  Thank you for visiting! 

Let's talk about the realities of owning your own business.  For this post I have asked the input of others.  Those others will be kept anonymous.  Thank you to those of you who asked questions, and told me your thoughts!  

Lets talk advertising again.  I am finding that so many of you have a hard time figuring out where to advertise and how much to advertise.  I don't blame you!  This can be so daunting!  What I did was test the waters with advertising.  I didn't have a lot of money to spend on advertising, so I started small and worked my way up.  I can't tell you where to advertise, but what I can tell you is that once you test those advertising waters, you will find you niche.  Meaning, you will find where your advertising pays off.  Whether it be mom based blogs, crafting blogs, etc.  Remember, advertising may not always work, but to me, it's been worth the risk.
Another question from someone was asking about advertising or soliciting business in person.  I am not really experienced in this area, but my husband is, so I asked him...

"Perfect your elevator pitch.  Meaning.  Learn how to sell your product in 30 seconds or less.  Or 130 words or less.  If you can't do this, then that is the first thing you should work on."

"If you're looking to sell to locals in your community, then you need to get on Twitter.  Look for people in your area that have similar likes and dislikes and follow them.  Twitter is the easiest way to do this and the fastest."

"If you are shy, then perfect your elevator pitch. Once you've perfected that, then you'll need to work on engaging people in public in a conversation.  It doesn't need to be about your business, it can be about anything.  This gets you out of your comfort zone and gets you comfortable talking to strangers whom you wouldn't normally talk to.  
You know those people at the mall kiosks that try and get you to try their free samples?  Well, when you're at a trade show or a craft show, become that kiosk worker.  Engage people walking by your booth, or you could miss a potential sale."

I couldn't have said it better.  He is so good at business!  My husband has even more input and advice coming up!  Stay tuned.


When I say realities of a business, I am talking the whole shebang.  With owning a business comes tough things too.  There are a plethora of rude people out there just chomping at the bit.  Or so it seems.  When you own a business, you need to know that people will be rude to you.  It happens to everyone.  Getting a tough skin is key.  Otherwise, you'll end up taking every. single. thing. personally.  This can lead to discouragement and failure.  I have had many bad things said to me.  I did take it a little personal at first, but realized after talking with my husband and thinking it through, people are just mean sometimes.  That's how it is.  Now, I just let it roll right off my back.  I don't care anymore what someone says, because it's really just a big waste of time and energy.  Spend that energy working harder, rather than fretting over or crying about what has been said to you.  I know this is easier said than done, but it is SO so important to remember!

Loving what you do.  This is a must.  Now, I am not talking about always loving it.  I mean, there are going to be points where you are going to go through a blah slump.  This is normal, and I think it needs to happen sometimes.  Sometimes those blah times bring about incredible inspiration, which in turn brings you right back to the Aha! times where you love creating again because you took a break.  Breaks are not bad.  When deciding what you want your shop to house, make absolute sure you love it!  Because if it's popular, you are stuck with it!  :)  

Remember this.  If you're product(s) become very popular... you now have to figure out how to manage your time.  Especially if you have children.  If you don't have kids, then figuring out time for creating is just so. much. easier!!!  Kids throw in a whole new level of hard to your business.  Balance.  That is something I still haven't perfected, but I work on it daily.  I doubt I will ever perfect the balancing act, but trying is good.  If you have a supportive spouse, then discussing times that you need to create will be worth your while.  Make sure you go in your space, and either close the door or make it clear to everyone that it is your time to create.  It might be a struggle at first, but keep working at it until you have found the best time and way to get time for your creations.

Someone brought up an enjoyment of getting to know their competitors... knowing your competitors is a toughie, because in one aspect, you may be gaining a new friend or a mentor.  But in another aspect, you could be gaining frustration. . . . which brings me to my next topic, and where my very knowledgeable husband comes in.

Because this is a sensitive subject for many, I asked him to write up a little about this next bit for me.  It's all about copying.  When you've found your things being copied, etc.  Take it away, babe!

"We have all heard it before imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  And while a pretty accurate statement to many business owners it can also be the biggest cause of stress.  The type of stress that is caused when a competitor releases a very similar product to the one you offer.  While I agree at first this can be unnerving, you really should be honored and more importantly excited.

I know what you are thinking, "Excited?!?!? I am going to lose sales
now."  Yes, you probably will a lose a couple, but that is okay,
because you are working on the next version of your product or
creating another product to add to your arsenal. You are actively
doing that, right?  You see, I get excited when I find out a
competitor has been spending their time merely trying to catch up with
me and not coming up with their own ideas to outpace me and set
themselves apart.  As long as they are busy mimicking your every move
they will ALWAYS be in second place and you will be free to innovate
and stay out in front.

What happens when one of your competitors does actually innovate and
release something before you?  Well, don't get stuck being in second
place.  You don't want to get caught in that trap of mimicking their
you rally the troops and get back to why you started your business.
You saw a need not being met and you pounced.  Take a deep breath and
find the opportunity to meet that need again.  With good marketing you
could even create a need that wasn't there to begin with.  This part
of business is actually why I love running my own businesses.  The
challenge of seeing a problem and create the best solution for that

So next time a competitor copies you send them a bouquet of flowers
with a Thank You note and continue to create products that keeps them
chasing you."

Isn't he awesome?!  He is so so knowledgeable, and he is ALL MINE!  hee hee hee.  :)

My 2 cents on this.  Do not ignore your competition!  Check them out.  See what they are doing.  Do not copy what they or others are doing... make something better!  Perfect what you are doing, and perfect it again!  Make it better!  Do your research.
When I came up with my ruffles, I did hours and hours of research.  I searched and searched the web, etsy, and other places to see if there were ruffles on camera strap covers... there were NONE.  That is how I knew I was about to create something *new*.  Get inspired!  Look around you.  A new design could be right before your eyes.  DO NOT be afraid of competition!  Competition should just make you want to work harder, and be better!  And that's a good thing.  

Part 3 will be next week!  If you're wanting some questions answered in the next installment, please email me!  shealynn AT gmail DOT com - would love to help, or have my husband help if we can!  Maybe this should be a husband wife series.  ;)

I sincerely hope this was helpful to you!  Leave your input in the comments.  As always, I love to hear what you have to say.  Even if you disagree.  Just be nice about it.  ;)

Now I need to prep orders for tomorrow.
Good Night, friends!