Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

I’m back with another interview, this time with a fellow Austin local who I actually got to meet with in person! Meet Stacey Lane, a card maker, blogger and YouTuber with dreams of taking her business full-time.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, what did you do in school, how did you get into card making?

I grew up in Northern Vermont, but I’ve lived all over the United States. We just moved to Austin from the Seattle area and are loving all the sunshine so far!

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do in college. I landed on graphic and web design, since I’d had an interest in that when I was younger. Some time after I graduated with a 2 year degree, I took a job with Microsoft and worked on the X-Box One console for a year. It was pretty rad.

I got into card making right around the time my contract with Microsoft was coming to a close. At the time, Microsoft required their contractors to take a 100 day unpaid leave of absence. I needed something to do to occupy my time, so I decided one day that I just wanted to make my own Christmas cards. The rest was history.

Tell me about Stampin’ Up and how you got involved as a demonstrator.

Stampin’ Up is brilliant. Before I found Stampin’ Up, my shopping trips would be tedious because I’d always try to find paper that matched a ribbon I liked. And then I wanted some sort of accessory to match that. And, of course, it had to match my ink. Colors are very hard to match! One of my favorite things about Stampin’ Up is that everything matches. It’s taken the stress out of designing, which is wonderful.

I knew that I needed a way to get a break on the costs because craft supplies add up quickly. Enter the demonstrator opportunity. Demonstrators never pay full price for their crafting supplies! I really found success when I started to blog my creations. Before I knew it, I wasn’t spending any money on my craft supplies anymore!

My hobby now pays for itself entirely, which is amazing, and even earns me some extra cash on the side. When the time is right, I plan to take my business full time.

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When and why did you decide to start your own blog and YouTube channel?

I started my blog a couple of months after I joined Stampin’ Up. I decided I needed my blog for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, I wanted to grow my email list. As a business owner, your email list is the most important asset you have.

The second reason I started my blog was to document all the cool stuff I was making. I wanted a place I could come back to for inspiration and say “yeah, I remember when I made that card! What a great layout! Maybe I should recreate that card with some new products.”

My YouTube channel was birthed from my love of video production. In high school, I took multiple video classes and always wanted to do something with it. My love for crafting gave me something that I could teach, and now that’s part of how I use my YouTube channel.

In a nutshell, why should someone read your blog or watch your YouTube videos?

I make videos and blog to encourage and educate others about how easy it can be to get into card making and scrapbooking. So many times people are intimidated because they believe you need to be really artistic to make something beautiful. But it’s not true! What makes something beautiful is the thought that was put into it. When I make things, I make them from the heart and I teach you to make them from the heart. And that’s what my blog and YouTube channel is all about.

I also offer classes in the Hutto/Pflugerville area for those of you who want to get your hands inky!

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far?

Great questions! A couple of things come to mind. First, I’m proud to have been chosen as a display stamper for Stampin’ Up’s semi-annual demonstrator-only event called OnStage. It’s a high honor and one that not many people get to do and I’m so blessed to have been chosen twice in the last year.

Another thing I’ve accomplished this year is that I held a seminar on how to blog. I turned my love of WordPress into an opportunity to teach non-technical people how to begin blogging as well as how to develop a content and marketing plan. It was a humbling experience but also taught me a lot about who I am. I’m currently developing a curriculum for my website to help teach people how easy it is to begin blogging!

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What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I have recently applied to the Artisan Design Team, which is similar to a display stamper, except it’s a heavier commitment. Artisan Design Team members are sent a free box of products every month and agree to blog about those products. It’s a 12 month commitment and I’ve wanted to apply for years and never had the courage to do it until this year!

Another goal that I want to accomplish is to earn an Incentive Trip, which is an all expenses paid vacation. I have friends across the US that have earned this trip multiple times and I’m so very close to being able to earn it for myself.

But my ultimate goal would be to leave my day job and work my business full time.

Growing up, were you always artistic? What were some of your hobbies in high school and college?

I think, in a way, I was. I remember doing all sorts of crafts as a youngster. I did cross stitch, latch hook rugs, glass etching. I remember one year my mother and I made decorative oil infused bottles for everyone we knew.

My biggest hobby in high school was web design. I created websites for my favorite bands. I created a website that had all my friends names on it (of course, that one never made it live because I knew better than to put personal info on the Internet).

In college, I discovered scrapbooking. That’s where my love of paper crafting began. But, being a college student, I didn’t have the funds to really sustain my hobby for long. Fun fact: I remember thinking that rubber stamps were awesome, but some of them were like $20 each! I thought to myself “well there’s one hobby I’ll never get into.” Never say never….

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What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

There are so many! For starters, my husband. This man has sacrificed his career to raise our children and I’m so grateful that he has taken the time to do that. We are first time home owners and I’m also grateful for that. Owning your own home is an experience everyone should go through. It’s so liberating!

I’m also grateful for Stampin’ Up. I have met so many wonderful people through Stampin’ Up, and forged many friendships with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them!

Before I started this crazy adventure, I really struggled with self doubt. My upline, Jennifer, kept telling me that I had a talent and could turn my love of paper crafting into a business. For months, I totally didn’t believe her. And then, all of a sudden, I realized that she was right! She believed in me before I believed in myself. I’ve learned so much from her.

Where and who do you draw inspiration from?

My favorite sources of inspiration are the ones that make me feel like I can take on the world. A few months ago, I subscribed to The Middle Finger Project, and the emails that Ash sends are incredibly amazing. They really make you think about who you are and who you can become by shifting the way you think of yourself.

I also draw my inspiration from YouTube and Pinterest, just like a lot of crafty people! Sometimes I’ll just put YouTube on and leave it for hours. It’ll inevitably end up on something like clay modeling, which is really neat, and I’ll be glued to my screen soaking up all sorts of information about a craft that I don’t really know how to do.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Start with WordPress, but not the free version. Purchase hosting and set up your blog on your own. My top recommendation for WordPress hosting is WP Engine, located right here in Austin. You really get what you pay for. And, for the sake of transparency, I do work for WP Engine…

My second piece of advice is to immediately start building your email list. Create an email editorial calendar and send emails at least weekly to your customer base. You may think they don’t want to hear from you that frequently, but here’s the thing: they sign up for your emails for a reason!

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I can remember things really easily, especially numbers. For example, I remember both my current and very first credit card number from over 15 years ago. All 16 digits, the security code and expiration dates… and I can rattle them off in a moments notice.

But it’s not only numbers! I can recite all 50 states in alphabetic order, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. And, speaking of alphabet, I can say the alphabet backwards in 4 seconds. Because why the heck not?

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I hope you enjoyed this interview with Stacey! Be sure to check out her blog and YouTube channel, and if you are a fellow Texan, sign up for a class or two. You never know, you could become the next Stampin’ Up demonstrator! You can also find Stacey on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Lost in Translation: One Week, Six Girls, Three Languages

“Are you hungry for dinner or did you already eat?”

“I ate a really late lunch, so I don’t need any dinner.”

“She says she ate a really….oh wait….dice que almorzó muy tarde, entonces no quiere cenar.”

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Since I left off last, my living situation has changed significantly. Kristina and I went from being the only students living in the apartment, to having four other roommates for the past week. Rachel left a less-than-desirable living situation and moved in with us, and will be here for the rest of the semester. Next, two high schoolers from Norway moved in for the week. And last (but not least), Carrie moved in with us and will be here for the rest of the semester as well. So basically there are four of us for the rest of the semester, and six for this week.

But like most things in life, there is a catch. The two girls from Norway obviously speak Norwegian, and their English is actually very good. Their Spanish is not as proficient, but it’s not bad. Even so, there have been a few instances this week when Puri (my host mom) said something to them in Spanish, they looked at her with blank stares, I translated it to English, and they talked to each other in Norwegian for a second before answering in broken Spanish. Does your head hurt yet?

To make things more confusing, Carrie is here in Spain to learn Spanish, and is a complete beginner. The quotes at the beginning of this post were from when Carrie first got here and Puri asked me to help translate. I quickly realized my brain has a hard time switching that quickly between Spanish and English, and I kept accidentally speaking to Puri in English or Carrie in Spanish. And the worst part was that my brain was so confused that it would take me way longer than necessary to realize I was speaking in the wrong language, and by the time I realized, my dignity was already long gone.

Basically, this week has been a huge mess of failed conversations and lots of hand gestures. Talk about language barriers. On the upside, I think this new situation will actually help improve my Spanish. Translating may be difficult, but it forces you to think about the languages and really focus on what you’re saying. I think having Carrie here will be nice, because it will give me a chance to help someone learn Spanish, which will in turn help improve my own Spanish.

And even though the Norwegian girls leave Friday, it has been nice having them here and learning a few Norwegian words (which I’m sure I will promptly forget). In accordance with the last high schoolers who stayed here (hint: British), I also took my chance to play cards with the girls. Apparently card games are still a thing among high schoolers. I was beginning to think they didn’t do anything besides play on their phones. (Wow, how old am I?)

Other than the new roomies I don’t have much to report, except my envy that everyone is on Spring Break right now while I’m in the middle of midterms. Although, I get the equivalent of two Spring Breaks later in the semester. And I live in Spain. So yeah never mind, I really have nothing to be envious of.

Your translator friend,

Tu amiga traductora,

Din overs venn,

Shelly

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My Life in Sevilla

My Life in Sevilla

When I sat down to write this blog, my first thought was “oh no, what will I even write about? This week was so boring!” But then I thought about it and realized that this wasn’t really true. Sure, I didn’t travel to a different country or visit another city this week, but why should that make it any less exciting? I’m living in SPAIN for God’s sake, every week is more exciting than the average person’s dull week (no offense).

So if you are expecting to hear of adventures and new experiences in this post, you may be disappointed. But I spent this week in Sevilla, a beautiful city in Spain, so I should probably not be complaining.

This past week marked my first full week of classes at UPO (Universidad de Pablo Olavide). I haven’t written much about the university yet, so let me just give you a quick mental image:  the campus is bigger than I expected, but still pretty small compared to most universities in the U.S. There are no flower patches that change every week like at TCU, nor are there statues of the mascot (what even is the mascot here?) or fountains around the campus. It is basically just a grouping of buildings, that vaguely look like either a prison, insane asylum or rehab center (though at the orientation they tried very hard to convince us otherwise).

Basically, going to TCU for the past two and a half years has severely altered my perception of what a “normal” campus should look like. As it turns out, not all campuses around the world look like TCU’s. So those of you that are there right now, take a second to get out of bed/off the couch, close your computer, and go look out your window at the beautiful campus that we call home. We definitely take it for granted.

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UPO Campus
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TCU Campus

Now that you are back from admiring the 8th Wonder of the World that is our beautiful campus, I’ll continue. I signed up for 5 classes, but I ended up dropping one so that A) I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed since all of my classes are taught IN SPANISH and B) So that I will not have any classes on Thursdays, which makes traveling a lot more convenient.

My four classes are: Spanish Civilization and Culture, Intercultural Communication, Tapas, History of Spanish Cinema. So far, I like all of them a lot! My tapas class is literally a cooking class, where each week we learn to make a different tapa, and we get to eat everything we make! I’m just slightly excited for this class. And for those of you who don’t know what tapas are, it’s a traditional Spanish food, basically like an appetizer in the U.S. Spaniards go to a tapas bar to try different small plates of food, and to socialize with friends. I have already promised my friends at TCU I will cook tapas for them when I get back, so hopefully I’ll remember what I learn in this class!

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Tapas for days!

For about the last two weeks I’ve been sick, so this weekend I stayed in every night trying to get some rest. My host mom had two 15-year-old boys staying with her this week. They were from England and on a high school trip (wish I got to travel in high school!) Because they had a curfew and I didn’t feel up for going out, I spent Thursday AND Friday nights playing various card games with them. Yeah, be jealous of my oh-so-exciting life. They taught me British slang words like “safe” (apparently it means “cool”), and I taught them them how to say “y’all”. Basically it was a friendship made in Heaven.

Unfortunately, my new besties had to leave early Saturday morning. On the bright side, I am now feeling almost completely well again. Maybe card games cure colds? This weekend I will be going to Morocco! So excited! And as of yesterday, I am officially going to Belgium the weekend after! So expect more exciting blog posts in the future.

Your travel-happy friend,

Shelly