April Michelle Designs is an Etsy shop that specializes in boutique bows, custom embroidery, and personalized items.

From her site: My fingers first hit the sewing machine during the Madonna era of the 80’s, when I first began sewing and creating my own clothes. Since the birth of my daughter, I have rediscovered my love of creating fun boutique clothes plus expanded to the world of boys, Moms and Dads.

I have been sewing for over 15 years. I specialize in handmade baby and children items, but at times will also offer things for Mom, Dad, and the House. I love to create new and fun ideas – plus, sister and brother sets are extra special.

They are one of our premium sponsors in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide! CHeck out their awesome holiday designs!


What Makes ComfyEarrings so Comfortable?

ComfyEarrings are unlike any earrings you’ve seen before! They are uniquely created to sit comfortably in your ear without stabbing your neck or squishing your earlobes.

You see traditional earrings have a few problems:

  1. They have a back that slides on the post. Often, this makes the earring too tight, which squishes your earlobe causing soreness and irritation.
  2. They also have a post that sticks out the back and pokes you in the neck when you lay down or talk on the phone.

ComfyEarrings solve these problems!

They bring relief to your ears and neck by using a flat back attached to the earring posts.

This flat back eliminates the pressure on your ears and, because it covers the back of the post, it protects your neck from painful pokes when you talk on the phone or sleep.

100% Comfy or Your Money-Back Guarantee

They personally test and approve every style of ComfyEarrings before they appear on this site. (In fact, co-owners, Nick and Christina Gillick, each wear ComfyEarrings 24/7/365. Christina wears two pair.)

They check for comfort, quality, and style. If a style of ComfyEarrings doesn’t pass, it doesn’t make it into our product line.

Because of the testing process — and the comfort of the earrings – they can confidently offer a 100% Money-Back Guarantee — also known as the “100% Happiness Guarantee.”

Visit their webpage and save $5 today!

Namely Newborns is one of our Premium Sponsors of the Holiday Gift Guide this year!
One of their top selling and most popular blankets is this luxury baby blanket with blue and chocolate plush. It is the soft luscious minky baby blanket. Measuring a generous 29″ by 34″ inches, this personalized baby blanket is ideal for baby’s crib or stroller. The blue plush swirly chenille on top trimmed in brown satin reverses to velvety chocolate minky blue dot creating a very handsome blanket for baby boy.
The personalized, plush baby blankets at Namely Newboars are hand crafted in the U.S. with attention to quality and detail exclusively for Namely Newborns. Because this product is expertly made in America it is stitched with pride and we are proud to offer you a high quality luxury baby gift at an extraordinary price because we manufactured it ourselves and are happy to pass on the savings to our valued customers. FREE personalization is included with two names beautifully embroidered anywhere on the blanket. Add a birth date, weight and third name for an additional fee.
And, you can use coupon code FB10 for 10% off!

The Boys Store offers everything you need for the boy in your life. Their store is literally loaded with great clothing and accessories. The Boys Store offers a little bit of everything. They have dress clothes, t-shirts, hats, socks, sleepwear, outerwear and everything in between.

The Boy’s Store is one of our Premium Sponors in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide. They have a ton of great options for all of the boys on your list this year!

From their website: We are constantly updating our selection and strive to make it better. We believe that little guys need to look stylish too! From funky pajama pants to cute baby boy onesies, we carry fashionable and versatile apparel for any age. Going on a family vacation? Our boys swim trunks will ensure your child has plenty of fun in the sun. Need some back to school outfits for your young man? Our functional boys cargo pantspea coats and moccasins are trendy and comfortable. Our selection of adorable newborn boy clothes are the perfect gift for even your closest friend’s baby shower.

They are offering an awesome coupon code for our readers this year. Shop at The Boy’s Store and save 25% off of your purchase when you use code MM2015!

In addition to their website, The Boy’s Store can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

While I know most of you hard working moms are working on businesses that primarily function online, there are also plenty of you who are at least partially involved in building your businesses offline in the “real world” where local customers are your bread and butter.

And, even if your entire business resides online, you and your family are still an integral part of your local community and you have money to spend to purchase what your family wants and needs.

So, with those two thoughts in mind, let’s take a moment to look at a serious problem that can affect all of us:

Why are our local businesses in danger?

The fact is, between the ease and convenience of ecommerce and the prevalence of huge box stores within easy driving distance of nearly every home in America, the small, local, independent businesses that used to be the only option in most small towns and cities are facing a true crisis. We might call it a figurative “mass extinction event.”

In case you’re not familiar with that term, it’s the scientific term used to describe cataclysmic events that cause huge numbers of species to die off. Like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, for instance. And it’s not melodramatic to say that the current trends in service trades, food service, and specialty retail could spell similar disaster for the small, local shops and restaurants along Main Street, USA.

Is there a bad guy to blame?

Unlike any other time in history, it’s not only possible but it’s actually easier for the majority of consumers to avoid small, independent shops and restaurants in favor of one-stop-shopping at Wal-Mart or Target, and consistent menus at large chain restaurants like Applebee’s or Chili’s.

Now, there’s nothing wrong at all with shopping at Wal-Mart or eating at Applebee’s. These companies provide a valuable service, convenience, and quality products, not to mention a significant number of jobs in the community. The danger, however, is in patronizing these large chains exclusively in lieu of our smaller local businesses.

While the competition provided by the inclusion of a large box store or popular chain restaurant should theoretically have a positive impact on the local retailers, all too often the huge price differences and overwhelmingly larger marketing budgets of these large stores create an environment where smaller business owners can’t afford to compete.

In those cases, it’s really up to the business owners themselves to become more creative in their methods of differentiating themselves and adding value to their offerings, and it’s up to the local consumers to recognize the importance of helping these smaller shops stay in business.

Why are these small businesses so important?

While the large box stores rake in billions of dollars in annual revenue and can’t help but have a tremendous impact on the local economy in terms of job creation and tax revenue, the combined value of the smaller local businesses in the area nearly always exceeds the value of the large store.

The reasons are simple:

  1. In any economically viable community, the number of small independent businesses will likely outnumber the larger national chain locations 10-to-1 or better. All of these stores and restaurants will have employees and tax responsibilities, so they combine to amount to a greater impact than the large store.
  2. Unlike a large national chain or franchise location, nearly all the money spent at a local independent business stays right in the community since the owners and employees all live in the area and there is no national or international corporation taking the lion’s share of the proceeds to invest elsewhere. 

So, logically, every dollar you spend at a small local store or restaurant provides a greater investment in your own community than that same dollar spent at a franchise location or box store.

And, there’s also the matter of longevity and a commitment to the local community. While the fate of a franchise restaurant or large box store depends completely on the balance sheet and it can be closed down in a heartbeat if an accountant a thousand miles away decides it’s no longer viable, a small local business is generally being run by an active member of the community to wants to stay right where they are for the long term. By supporting their efforts, we can support the long term growth and stability of the local economy.

What can we do to help small local businesses THIS MONTH?

You may already be aware that Saturday, November 28th is “Small Business Saturday”.

This is a perfect opportunity to show your solidarity with the local business community and to explore the incredible variety of products and services available from local professionals, retailers, restaurants, and craftspeople.

Small Business Saturday is held each year on the day after Black Friday (when we realize the huge box store savings opportunities are impossible to ignore) and Cyber Monday (when ecommerce holds sway across the nation.) It’s the perfect balance to these two annual shopping events that encourage investing your holiday spending outside your community.

Do you know what’s going on in your local community on November 28th? Most likely your local economic development organization or Chamber of Commerce already has a series of events planned. If you own a local business, investigate what they’re doing to celebrate the day and participate! Even if you don’t own a business with a physical location in the area, see what you can do to add to the publicity surrounding the events and make sure you take the time to shop at a local stores on that day!

And, if you don’t currently own a local business but you have dreams of entrepreneurship, consider buying a local business that’s for sale and keeping the dream alive in your area.

By supporting Small Business Saturday, we set a precedent that can have an impact throughout the rest of the year as well: we stay aware of the great things our local independent businesses have to offer and we let them know just how much we appreciate and need them.

This infographic is the courtesy of Buddy Loans from UK

KD Novelties a publisher of personalized children’s books and gifts has been in business for over 10 years.  Their goal is to touch children’s’ lives through personalization, one child at a time.

Their unique children’s books feature the child as the star of his or her own story.  Their books promote literacy; build self-esteem, and confidence in children because they become the heroes of the story.  KD Novelties has been recognized and awarded publishing and best book awards for their creative storylines, uniqueness of each book and illustrations. According to Kim Delgado owner of KD Novelties “we promote ourselves as avid lovers of literacy and believe that the love of reading starts at home.”

If you have a child who is learning to read or one who is reluctant to read, getting them a personalized book of their own will help boost their motivation, get them to read more and love it!  These books are also treasured keepsakes and are not thrown away or donated as most books are but most importantly the expression on the child’s face when they read about themselves is priceless!  

Visit us today!

Reading to your child… IMPORTANT
Reading a personalized book… UNIQUE
Seeing their face light up… PRICELESS!

By Theresa Ceniccola

Do you have a gift for writing, graphic design, photography, videography, web development or some other marketable skill? Let’s talk about how you can put those skills to use as a freelancer and bring in some extra cash! I’ve been a freelance writer and marketing consultant for more than 20 years and I’ve experienced the highs and lows… the feast and famine… the pain and gain of the freelancer life.

Without a doubt, the best thing about freelance work is the flexibility. A freelancer can set her own schedule, choose the projects she wants to work on and say no to anything (or anyone) that doesn’t suit her needs. And, if she sets herself up correctly, she can enjoy a full-time income doing part time work…from home…wearing yoga pants…while the children are sleeping.  (Sounds perfect, right!?)

I recently had the honor of sharing my experience as a freelancer with a group of bloggers at the Type A Conference in Atlanta by presenting a session entitled “How to Get Paid to Write.” I’d like to share some of the best tips here for you! While the focus was on writing, much of what we discussed applies to any type of freelance work.

Ten Tips for Getting High Paying Freelance Gigs:

1. Let go of your ego. When you freelance for a company or organization, you have to set your creative ego aside. There are no bylines, credits or awards for most freelance work in the corporate world. There’s no room for getting offended or defensive. But there is room for getting paid! So my best advice is to find some creative outlet that will feed your ego, and let your freelance work feed your family.

2. Stop charging by the hour. Successful freelancers will tell you that the best way to charge for services is by the project – not by the hour. This one shift in thinking can dramatically improve your bottom line and your efficiency. If you are scared to make the switch, talk to a friend or colleague who can remind you of this truth: YOU are worth it!

3. Narrow your niche. Freelancers make up 34% percent of the workforce, with more than 53 million people. So if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you have to figure out what makes you different. Define your niche either by industry or specialty. And don’t be afraid to put your stake in the ground as an expert in that niche.

4. Take yourself seriously. The concern most corporate clients have about freelancers is stability. “If I hire this person to build our website, will she disappear a month later and leave us without support?” Don’t be that person. That’s the kind of person who gives freelancers a bad name. Instead, be the kind of person who is all in! Establish a legal entity for your freelance business. Get an official business license. Open a business checking account. File taxes. Get serious. Be real.

5. Polish up your LinkedIn profile.  If you’re “out on your own” you may be enjoying all the potential of Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t overlook LinkedIn when it comes to attracting high-paying corporate clients. Make sure your profile is up to date, and join a few groups in your industry or niche.

6. Send warm letters. The number one way freelancers get work is through word of mouth. Like real estate agents and direct sales consultants, they thrive on the referrals of others. So when you are just getting started, you have to tap into your own personal referral network. Send a personal letter to everyone you know, telling them about your work and asking them to give you a referral if they know anyone who might be interested in hiring you. I know it’s uncomfortable. But it works.

7. Stay in touch. The second most common way freelancers get work is through repeat business. That means their clients continue to hire them for additional projects. As you begin to develop relationships with clients, you’ll want to find a way to stay in touch after your first assignment comes to an end. Do whatever feels natural to you – some people send newsletters, others make phone calls or send birthday cards.

8. Go the extra step. To secure that important repeat business, you’ll need to be better than your competition. Not only will you need to have exceptional skills but you’ll need to take the extra step that others are not willing to take. That might mean submitting your feature story along with ten tweets your client didn’t ask for but can certainly use to promote the article. Or surprising a client with 500 new business cards when you complete a website project. How can you impress your clients?

9. Hang out with clients. Think about the last conference or tradeshow you attended. Was it filled with colleagues or clients? Most of us tend to stay in our comfort zone. We attend events where we can network with peers and develop our skills. That’s important to do, but it doesn’t lead to clients. Try to determine which events your potential clients attend on a regular basis and make it a point to be there. Better yet, get a speaking gig at the event and position yourself as a resource.

10. Study your craft. As you build your client roster, you will soon discover that you are busier than you expected. Not only will you be doing your freelance work, but you may also be keeping the books, doing the administrative work and marketing for new business. Don’t forget to take time out on a regular basis to study your craft. Don’t lose sight of what your “real job” is and the importance of staying at the top of your field.

What did I forget? Do you have any suggestions for getting high-paying freelance jobs?

Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. As the president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, she empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace. Theresa has successfully run a home-based business as a freelance writer and marketing consultant for the past 18 years. She considers herself blessed to make a living doing what she loves and empowering other moms to create businesses that support their values of faith and family. Join the International Christian Mompreneur Network (it’s free!) today and you’ll receive Theresa’s Mompreneur Toolkit featuring the Ten Commandments of a Mompreneur.

Hello! Happy Monday! Welcome to our Mommy Monday feature for this week!Many weeks, we interview a mom business owner and get to know her a little better! We like to find out how she balances life with children and a business! We also like to hear about the marketing strategies that are working for her! Hopefully, this provides a little bit of inspiration to all of the other hard working moms out there! If you’d like to be considered for this feature, send us an e-mail! We’d love to learn about your business, too!

Your name and business name:

Cydney Smith, MompreneurWellness.com and 21DayReboot.com

When did you start your business? 

I started my business as Mompreneur Wellness in 2009. It was an out growth of my health coaching practice, Spirited Nutrition, which I had started the previous year.

What services/products do you offer?

Mompreneur Wellness offers an virtual wellness and coaching program  to help women who are moms to go from surviving to thriving. The core of the program is to provide the tools to boost energy, vitality and to create clarity. It combines wellness with business and personal development. I believe in the women I work with, and trust that this program will help them to have the energy and vitality they need to bring their gifts to the world.

Many women are stepping into a role of creating a lifestyle that embraces their core values and desires. They are redefining success, and Mompreneur Wellness gives them tools and support to do this.

 

I also have an online program called Reboot: Reconnect to a Healthier You that focuses on supporting participants to get back on track with their wellness goals. Many moms find this program to be transformative.

How do you balance family and business?

I try not to focus on balance as much as welcoming in a conscious rhythm to my life. Some days (or weeks) there might be more focus on my business, other days on my children, home or personal life. This works for me by staying connected to my desires and taking a heart-centered and compassionate approach to life.

What advice do you have for other mom entrepreneurs?

My advice to other mom entrepreneurs is to connect with yourself. This may seem like an odd piece of advice, but when you truly are taking care of your physical and emotional well-being, you are going to be able to access the intuition that will guide your path to greater success and happiness.

How do your market your business?

I market Mompreneur Wellness through online avenues. I have a newsletter, a Facebook page and I use Social Media to connect with women who are also creating a business while raising a family. I hope to offer a retreat in the near future and to do some in-person workshops and speaking engagements.

Where can we find you?

  1. Facebook: http://Facebook.com/mompreneurwellness
  2. Twitter: http://twitter.com/cydneysmith
  3. Instagram:http://instagram.com/spiritedcydney
  4. Email: [email protected]