“Only love feeds us. And love happens over years, repetitive motions, staying, staying, staying. Showing up again. Coming clean again, being seen again. That’s how love is built.” – Shauna Niequest
I think Geoff and I have been scheming about our 10 year anniversary trip since our 5 year trip to Mexico. It’s hard to believe that this June marks ten years of marriage. It’s been ten wonderful, joy-filled, fruitful, blessed years. And it’s also been ten years that have seen it’s share of really hard times. The hardest of times that sometimes it felt altogether hopeless that we would make it out. 10 years is certainly worth celebrating.
In this season of life with three little kids, our priorities for our trip were sleep, good food, reading, spa time, REST…and maybe a little exploring if we felt up for it. If you know us, we are HUGE fans of the spa at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, so we wanted something comparable to that but somewhere different. We were this close to booking a trip to Canada to visit Vancouver, but after we started weighing cost and the travel time to get there and back, we decided that going somewhere closer to Charlotte would probably be wiser. So we landed on Austin, Texas. After many, many evenings of researching, we booked a stay at the beautiful Travaasa Resort, which is about 25 minutes outside of downtown.
Our trip to Austin was everything we wanted and needed it to be. Temperature in the low 80’s. Watching the bats take flight from under the South Congress bridge (yes, it’s totally a thing) with mocha frappuccinos. Blended drinks and good books by the infinity pool overlooking Lake Travis. Massages and cold peppermint face towels at the spa. A cozy bed to sleep late in the morning. Chip and JoJo Starbucks cups. Buttermilk pancakes and breakfast tacos on the patio. Sharing laughs by the pool with new friends. Best burgers and amazing truffle fries in downtown Austin. Dog watching, huge donut eating, a trip to Waco to visit the Magnolia Silos. While all of the “things” we got to do and enjoy were quite wonderful, probably the best part of the trip was just the chance to set it all down and walk away for four days. To stop entirely. No business conversations. No email. No text messages. No social media.
Rest. Play. Laugh.
We had really great and long conversations about living this life well. And about death, marriage, kids, what success looks like, what matters most to us, dreams. We reminisced about the first 10 years and we talked about our plan for how to make it another 10 and still come out smiling with and at each other. The chance to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other was so needed and so enjoyed.
I love you, Geoff Schultz. Can’t wait to start planning our 15th trip! ☺
Today’s post is unique and special, in that it was created specifically with Cheyenne Schultz couples in mind who are planning their outfits for their upcoming engagement sessions. We’ve come up with six tips to consider when choosing what to wear.
1. Comfort is Key
When you are comfortable in what you are wearing, you can be confident! You don’t want to be worrying about your dress being too short, painful shoes, or anything that will inhibit natural movement. Avoid anything too tight or too loose, and instead, choose something that flatters your shape. Once you have chosen an outfit, wear it for a day or on a date to make sure it is 100% comfortable.
2. Coordinate, But Don’t Match
Consider choosing complementary colors, patterns and styles or a similar color palette. Steer clear of matching clothing!
3. Dress for the Environment
One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing your engagement session clothing is the location that you will be photographed in. Be sure that what you wear fits the environment.
4. Layering and Accessories
Layering and accessorizing it can really dress up an outfit and give it depth. A plaid scarf is great for wrapping up in fall weather and a hat is cute to wear or hold. Feel free to send over your ideas for clothing and accessories if you need another set of eyes to help you decide!
5. Consider Having Your Hair and Makeup Done
Professional hair and makeup can be nice to help you feel your best. Not to mention, it’s a good excuse to pamper yourself a little! Please let us know if you need recommendations for hair and makeup artists…we have worked with the best in the business!
6. Be Yourself.
Because it’s never cliché. :) Let your personality be shown through what you choose to wear at your session and don’t feel like you need to make decisions based on what you are supposed to do. Most importantly, just be you!
For more ideas and information on deciding what to wear for your engagement session, go HERE.
“Welcome Spring. Make room for what matters. Breath Deeply. Tidy Up. Learn Something New. Choose Simplicity. Keep Growing.” – from the spring issue of Magnolia Journal (which, p.s. – just for fun, I’m giving away a free copy today over on my instagram page if you would like to enter to win!)
Yes and amen. All of it. I want more of all of that in my life this month.
Goals met from March:
- Finished Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect.
- Cleaned out master bedroom closet and hallway shelving and had light fixtures fixed. We can see in our kitchen again…major win!
- Installed one baby gate…one to go.
- Began Boone/Mama afternoons on Tuesdays.
- Finished Grey’s baby book.
- Finalized one month out from wedding client gifts.
- Began second shooter training program with Erika.
- Set up my email list.
- Implemented blogging calendar.
- Launch new opt-in offer/freebie – 5 Ways to Grow Your Business In the Off-Season. You can still grab your copy HERE.
Things to look forward to in April:
- A birthday date with Geoff. I’m insisting on going to what has become my favorite restaurant, Soul Gastrolounge. Charlotte people – if you haven’t been, it’s a must.
- Visit to the strawberry patch…my favorite spring activity to do with the kids.
- Family movie night. We’ve decided to do this with the kids once/month, as it has become a really sweet hangout time for all of us.
- Hopefully photographing the birth of a dear friend’s baby. Just hoping the timing works out. :) Although, this could be a May thing. Time will tell.
- Engagement session in Asheville and wedding in Savannah!
- Scrabble night.
- Brunch with friends.
- Another visit to the Whitewater Center…we were there this past weekend and it was so enjoyed.
- A visit from my Californian brother, my sister-in-law and their three kids.
And my goals for the month:
Personal – April
- Instead of starting a new book this month, I want to go back through Present not Perfect, pull out my takeaways and actually do something to apply what I learned. It was so good. Highly recommended.
- House projects (remove shelving unit from hallway, clean garage, put up kid’s growth chart, spring clean/purge the kid’s rooms).
- Plan our summer beach trip.
- Create another yearly family album through Artifact Uprising. I’m still trying to get caught up!
- Get a haircut and a pedicure. Self care for the win.
- Have a long overdue dinner with girlfriends.
Business – April
- Have our Quarter 2 Planning and Strategy Meeting followed by Team Night! This time it’s going to be dinner at our house together and game night.
- This feels like a hefty goal, but I’m going to try to blog 3x each week for the month. The aim is for Monday to be a business related post, Wednesday to be wedding related and Friday to be a personal/family post.
- Send out my first monthly newsletter. Have you signed up? You can do that right here if you like. :)
- Launch my new coaching program!
- Create one new business resource/freebie.
If you blogged your goals from April, please share them in a comment below – I’d love to see! Hope y’all have a great month. :)
I was a big fan of Chip, JoJo and the entire Magnolia brand before visiting The Silos. Although, that’s just a silly thing to say, because, really…who isn’t? After Geoff and I had booked our trip to Austin, Texas to celebrate our 10 year anniversary together and realized how close we would be to Waco, we couldn’t pass up the chance for a day-trip. We woke up before the sun, grabbed ourselves a Starbucks and were on way. A quick hour and 20 minutes later, we were parked and walking up the most lovely and inviting of spaces.
Somewhere along the way in building our own business, I have become a customer service/client experience junkie and have come to love assessing, dissecting and analyzing the overall experience that I have with any given business that I interact with. I can’t help it. It’s just fun. :) Our visit to the Silos was truly a great one. I’m so excited to share what made our experience what it was and what our takeaways can be as business owners. Here are 5 the five things I learned about the customer experience at Magnolia Market!
1. Branding is About Creating a Feeling
The Magnolia brand is warm and welcoming and in our experience at the Silos, that was certainly translated through the staff onsite. Everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces that made you feel like they genuinely loved their jobs. I myself felt friendlier and happier as we explored the crowded shop and waited in line for some truffle fries (highly recommended, by the way…Milo Biscuit Company’s food truck…you won’t regret it). I think that was in large part from the team members, overall atmosphere of invitation, kindness, gentleness and service that they have created. So often we think of branding only in terms of visual design and aesthetics. But branding, of course, is much more than fonts and logos and colors. It’s those intangible feelings that you feel when you interact with it.
Takeaway / Application: How do I want potential and current customers to feel when they interact with my business? What things do I need to start doing, stop doing and keep doing to evoke these feelings?
2. Design Matters and Consistency Is Key
I’m such a sucker for great design and solid, consistent branding, so interacting with the Magnolia brand at the Silos was a feast for my senses! Y’all, it’s pretty. It’s all so darn pretty!
A common topic in my coaching sessions is the importance of and the how to’s of pulling your brand through each and every aspect of your business in order to reach your ideal client. At the Silos, they sure do it right. The Magnolia brand and their customer experience has been intentionally and thoughtfully handcrafted. They have done a remarkable job at carrying their brand across all fronts at the Silos. From the beautiful installations and décor in the market, to the curated products they offer, to the music they have playing on the back lawn, to the calligraphy they use on their bakeshop signage…and on and on and on. The cumulative experience evokes a feeling of complete delight within me and leaves me wanting to pack my bags and move to Waco! :) Everything is on brand and everything is beautiful.
Takeaway / Application: Great branding matters to the overall customer experience. Review your visual identity and assess every touch point of your brand and customer experience. Is it well designed and aesthetically pleasing? And is it consistent across all mediums and interactions?
3. Enact Small, Creative Solutions to Lessen Frustrations
From a customer experience standpoint, the greatest pain point at The Silos lies in their capacity and ability to accommodate the thousands of people that come through the shop and grounds each day. It’s a great problem to have, yet still, a problem. Per the recommendation on the Magnolia site, we visited the Silos on a weekday morning arriving before the doors were opened, so we didn’t experience the frustrations that I’m sure visitors experience daily. We also went in the spring without the added factor of the Texan sunshine in those brutally hot summer months. No doubt, they will continue to work to solve problems related to wait times, parking, etc., but I could see how they had taken steps to ease customer frustrations by making small changes and employing creative solutions. The line is long when checking out? They have two members of the team instead of one at each register to speed up the process and retain a friendly demeanor: one to complete the transaction and one to bag the items while chatting it up with the customer. The parking lot has filled up? They offer customers another free, easy (not to mention, fun!) option to park in a nearby lot and then ride the town trolley over. They’ve also devoted a section of the website with 7 Tips For Enjoying Your Visit, which has suggestions for how to make the most of your visit and avoid potential frustrations.
Takeaway / Application: What are the pain points that my customers/clients experience and what can I do to ease them or even eliminate them altogether?
4. Do Sweat the Small Stuff.
After paying for our items in the market, we stepped out the front doors and looked down to see a Magnolia staff member replacing one of the small flowers that I suppose had wilted along the walkway next to the front lawn. It was such a small thing and seemingly insignificant to many, I’m sure. But not to me. I certainly took notice of this attention to detail and could feel the focus on excellence at the Silos and of the greater Magnolia brand. In my opinion, it’s often the little things that can separate the good companies from the great ones. It’s in the little things that make me believe that the company aims high and is always striving to put their very best foot forward in the experience that they have to offer to the customer. It instills trust in a company and often will keep me loyal as a customer.
Takeaway / Application: What are those small things in your business that you can do to make it and the experience you provide to your customers excellent? Maybe it’s the packaging that you use to ship your product. Maybe it’s double checking the emails you send customers to make sure there are no spelling errors. Pay attention to and be thoughtful about the small things and take pride in doing them well.
5. Purpose > Product.
“We believe that friends who feel like family are the best kind of friends and that nothing matters more than family.” – excerpt from the Magnolia Manifesto
Yes, I was on a little piece of Cloud 9 as I skipped around shopping in the market…trying to resist spending up all of our money on tea towels and cute notepads and striped pillows. And enjoying the deliciousness of the chocolate chip cookie from the bakery was basically straight heaven in my mouth. But I think the thing I was most inspired by and most enjoyed about our visit to The Silos was seeing how and experiencing the ways their greater values were lived out. Family. Community. Heart.
Noted on the website is Joanna’s vision for The Silos to be a gathering place for community and her desire for it to be a place to “slow down, turn off your phone and connect with people.” You can’t help but see and feel these values come to life as you relax out on the lawn in bean bags (stylish bean bags, of course) watching kids toss around a ball and families enjoying the simplicity of pushing each other on the beautiful swing set…chatting about whatever. I met two Baylor grad students while I was there that told me they often come to The Silos to eat lunch and hang out. Y’all, I just love it. A business that started out selling home goods that has been built to bring people together.
I don’t know about you, but I love supporting businesses with values and with purpose. Businesses that exist and are fueled by much bigger things than the products and services that they offer.
Takeaway / Application: What is the greater purpose of your business? What is “the why” of its existence? What are your values and how will you infuse those into your brand and live them out in the way you do business?
Experiencing the Magnolia brand at the Silos in person was such a treat. A true delight. My only complaint is that it isn’t closer to Charlotte so our family could enjoy it regularly. I’m already grieving the fact that I can’t take the kids there regularly this summer to kick the ball around the lawn. If you ever find yourself close to Waco, I would highly recommend you get yourself there to experience the Silos for yourself.
I thought I’d end with a few tips of my own if you can make a trip there!
+ There is free parking!
+ Bring yourself some sunscreen if you plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit.
+ Plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit! Get yourself some lunch from the delicious food trucks (the truffle fries from were amazing), grab a black and white striped bean bag chair and take in the sights.
+ Get there early…especially if you want to visit the bakery (which I highly recommend….the cupcakes looked amazing and the chocolate chip cookies were delicious). We arrived about 20 minutes before the shop opened. Within an hour or so, the line was wrapped around the side of the building for a chance to get into the bakery!
+ Pre-decide a budget for your shopping, as if you are anything like me, you will be so tempted to buy it all and take advantage of their Fedex service to ship items home.
+ Jump on the free trolley to take you around downtown Waco. There isn’t a terrible amount to see, but I happen to love exploring the random nooks and alleys of small towns. If you didn’t get your fill of shopping/browsing at Magnolia, you might consider going to Spice Village downtown…it’s a huge space sectioned by booths selling jewelry, clothing, home goods, antiques, etc. It was fun to walk around.
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Oh gosh, where do I start?! Aubrey and Kyle’s wedding day at Biltmore Estate…at the risk of sounding cliche…was nothing short of a dream to photograph. I really mean that. It was the loveliest of days with the loveliest of people and in a word, was just plain special. I’d love to share a few of my favorite moments/things about the day. :)
+ Aubrey and Kyle are the best. Really great people….salt of the earth type people. Unassuming, gracious and carefree. Not to mention, beautiful. Between her dress and hair and his suit, they were a stunning pair.
+ We’ve shot many weddings at Biltmore, but never have had the opportunity to make photographs inside Biltmore House. I was basically floating around like a kid in a candy shop, but was pretty nervous, too! :) We photographed Aubrey and Kyle’s first look in the Winter Garden (pure beauty!), made some portraits in front of the historical tapestries and in the Louis XV suite (Aubrey’s grandfather was born in that room, which was very special to her), and got to photograph the bridal party in the library and in the Banquet Hall (in which I climbed scaffolding to get that shot!).
+ Prior to the ceremony Aubrey put on the veil that has been passed down through the generations of the women in her family. As if that wasn’t neat enough, the veil was actually worn by Jackie Kennedy on her wedding day to JFK. What?!
+ The ceremony took place out in a meadow with the house as the backdrop. And there was eucalyptus everywhere…so I was basically in ceremony heaven.
+ We were asked to recreate a few historical photographs of the family from various wedding days, which was really a lot of fun. See below to view the recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt’s 1924 bridal portrait on the stairs and of JFK and Jackie together!
+ Y’all, this vendor team was tops. Per usual, Tara Jordan blew us away with every gorgeous detail from the ceremony and reception. And working alongside Matt Davis and team from Lifestage Films is always easy and fun…this day was no exception. Speaking of, y’all MUST check out the beautiful film from the day. Go here to see it! For the full listing of vendors, see below!
Thank you, Aubrey and Kyle. We so enjoyed getting to know y’all and are so grateful that you entrusted us to photograph the first day of your marriage. :) It was a joy to witness and we had the most fun documenting it. xoxo.
Planner – Weddings With Tara
Makeup – Megan Drye
Hair – Lola Salon
Recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt’s 1924 bridal portrait.
Recreation of JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s wedding day portrait from 1953.
As much as I might love to be, I’m not a huge reader. So choosing anymore than these seven books to complete in 2017 is just unrealistic. With that said, I’m really excited to dig into each of these this year.
1. Present Over Perfect – Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
I had been hearing about this book from various friends over the past few months, so I was definitely excited when I received it as a gift. I’m nearly through with it and y’all…so good. At the risk of sounding really cheesy, it has been exactly what this my mind, heart and soul has needed. It’s like it was written just for me and I’m beyond grateful for it.
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller
I also received this book from a friend probably 3 years ago and haven’t gotten to it yet. Again, I’ve heard great things.
3. Seven-Mile Miracle – Journey Into the Presence of God Through the Last Words of Jesus by Steven Furtick
Our Pastor’s most recent book. Can’t wait to dig in.
4. Poke the Box – When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time? by Seth Godin
Geoff read this at the beginning of the year and really liked it. So there’s that. But mostly, it’s a Seth Godin book. Which means that it’s sure to be a good read.
5. Enchantment – The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki
To be honest, I was actually looking to by the book Giftology by John Ruhlin. After I found it to be out of stock, I somehow happened upon this book. Time will tell. :)
6. The $6000 Egg – The 10 New Golden Rules of Customer Service by Deb and Todd Duncan
I was sold on this book after listening to Todd Duncan’s customer service episode on the Entreleadership podcast. Looks like it will be an easy read.
7. People Over Profit – Break the System. Live With Purpose. Be More Successful. by Dale Partridge
I just started following along with Dale Patridge (including his podcast StartUp Camp) in the past couple of months. I’m really looking forward to getting into this one.
Bonus Book! There’s no way I can go the year without reading…
8. Cultivate – A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey
Lara’s book doesn’t come out until June, but it is available for pre-order right now. Go to her blog to see watch the most beautiful preview video with the most beautiful words.
What books are you planning to read this year that you are looking forward to? Are there any books that you would insist I add to this list? Please let me know in a comment!