9.20.2017

What I've Learned: Part Three




Happy Wednesday, friends! That is the last installment of a three-part series (you can find part one here and part two here). 

These are some of the most important things I’ve learned since moving our family and my business 200 miles west, from Baltimore to Mountain Lake Park, MD (near the West Virginia line). I hope these small tidbits of wisdom are helpful and inspiring.

So on to my last 5 life lessons (for now): 

1. Our new home is perfect for visitors, but even that can become a burden. What a joy it is to have to the space to have not only one, but two guests bedrooms, plus a large yard, etc. Over the past year, we have had the privilege of hosting a cast party for a play I was in, an end-of-the-season softball team party, a large 4th of July family weekend, several groups of friend weekend getaways, a 3-day middle-and-high-school retreat, and much more. 

Most of my favorite memories in this house have come from these various events. But hosting is tough work, and I realized that even opening our house to guests too frequently would not be a wise decision for my sanity. We now ensure that we have a balance of “empty weekends,” when we’re not hosting out-of-town guests or a gathering of some kind.



2. Instagram has done wonders for my brand. Doing my one-photo-a-day project was not only good for my inner life, but it’s helped me find a social media outlet that is really in line with my personal and business brands.  Instagram has been a great place to share discoveries in my life, my work portfolio, and work-related announcements to a strong following of friends, family, and others that share my values. You can read more about what I've learned about Instagram here.



3. Husbands and wives can work together to create amazing things (without killing each other). When Mark began working for CurlyRed full-time in February, it all could have gone horribly wrong. I mean, we already spend a lot of time together, given that we’ve moved to an area where we’ve had to make new friends, find new babysitters, and people tend to go into hibernation in the winter.

A husband and wife team wouldn’t work (understandably) for many, many people. Work roles and responsibilities need to be firmly established in advance. You need to take steps to create boundaries to divide time into work, and when work shouldn’t even be discussed.

But for us: it's been a wonderful 6 months. Mark is not only extremely talented and knowledgeable at what he does, but our work styles very much compliment one another. We both like quiet times. We often have brief internal meetings over coffee in our living room before our work day begins to discuss projects and to-dos. We now collaborate on much more—which gives me the freedom to hand off more of the day-to-day items that I didn't enjoy, and has resulted (in my opinion) in stronger, more balanced work. I can think of worse ways to spend my days than with my best friend.

4. I still find plenty of reasons to return to my hometown. Next week I’ll once again be in Baltimore for a few days—and I’m really looking forward to it. From a work perspective, visiting in person with my clients and presenting at conferences has been extremely valuable. But spending time in Baltimore with family and old friends, going to weddings and Orioles games, visiting our former home church, etc., has done so much to make this move easier. It fills up my tank and gives me more perspective and appreciation of my life in Western Maryland. (Listening to books on CD from the local library makes the long drive pretty painless as well.)



5. Taking calculated risks often make sense if you’re not too tied to the expected outcome. Let me explain: Last summer, we held our hands wide open when we decided to make this life change. We went into it embracing the possibility that IT COULD BE A HUGE MISTAKE.

At the end of the day, would that be such a terrible thing? Either way, it would be an adventure, a cool story to tell. Two years down the road, we could always throw in the towel, move back to Baltimore, find a different path. Not going into this move with these high expectations of what this change would bring made all the difference. At the end of the day, life really is too short to be stuck on doubt and “what-ifs.”

A small side note: Sometimes you have no choice but to be attached to the outcome. For instance: marriage. When you marry someone, I think most of us deeply desire to be with that person for a long, long time. Otherwise, why would one make such a commitment?

But if you have the choice to not be attached to the outcome of a decision, it is so freeing! And in most life decisions, even big changes, you can choose to keep your hands and eyes wide open and know that it’s rarely about the outcome, anyway. Real life happens in the process, the journey, the transformation that occurs when you’re brave enough to imagine a different life for yourself.

So go on. Try it. I dare you.

9.14.2017

What I've Learned: Part Two


Thanks for following along, everyone!

Here's some more tidbits I’ve learned over the past year since relocating my life (and CurlyRed) 200 miles west to Garrett County, MD:

6. It’s easy to become overcommitted anywhere. As I shared last week, being overcommitted and having little or no margin in my life was a driving force in our move. 

But even before we moved, as I was thinking about our new lives here, I realized something about myself: I’m an oldest child, and a people-pleaser by nature. My inclination is to say “yes” to anything anyone asks of me, even if it's not the best fit or may be emotionally/physically/mentally draining.

When you move to a small town, folks quickly figure out what you’re about, what you’re good at, and what you might be willing to do. So I needed to do the work of really evaluating each request that came my way, and be extremely selective about the things I say “yes” to. This book really helped me in this area.

7. Business dynamics in a small town are WAY different from doing business in and around a major city. Ahhh, yes. I could talk at length about this, but let’s just say: Garrett County is a very small community. Every person I’ve met here has long-time, deep connections with folks in every industry. Everyone has strong opinions about the best accountant (I'm looking at you, Brian Boal!), the best dentist, the best internet provider. 

CurlyRed has plenty of clients, both nationally and in the Baltimore area. But I was also hoping to grow locally. Being completely new to the area put me at a disadvantage (I am married to a quasi-local, so that does help a bit). Locals here are slow to trust outsiders. But I was also not privy to local businesses and their backstories—good and bad relationships, reputations, etc. So when I (blindly) stumbled into a sticky situation with a client and the competition of said client (with a complicated backstory), I remember feeling like this wouldn't have happened if this business was located in Baltimore. It's been a steep learning curve, to say the least. 

8. It hasn't gotten easier to not have family around. I hadn’t realized just how fortunate I was to have both of my parents and one of my two siblings less than 30 minutes away for so many years. Family is so incredibly important to both of us, so we’ve needed to increase the texts, phone calls, emails, and plans to visit for weekends and/or holidays to make up the difference.

9. A tight-knit network of neighbors and friends does make the absence of family more bearable. We’ve been so blessed to land in a neighborhood of some incredibly awesome folks (and several of them have kids the same age as ours). Our kids love spending time together, they have great taste in food and drinks, and make great conversation around a fire pit. But even better, they’ve helped out countless times when Mark or I have had meetings, doctor appointments, or a ride to pick up our car from the shop. And we’ve, in turn, been able to serve our neighbors in this same capacity. 

As I talked about last week, having friends nearby has been a great answer to homesickness. In the isolating wintertime, it became even more important for me to seek out community. I planned girls’ nights out, had friends over for coffee or dinner, and auditioned for the town play in order to meet even more like-minded folks. 

10. At the end of the day, most people don't care where CurlyRed is located. I worried about this so much when we moved. Now it seems almost silly. I mean, I had set up my business to run from anywhere, and my clients have become accustomed to see me in person maybe once or twice a year. As long as CurlyRed could continue doing creative, unique work while providing great customer service and maintaining those client relationships, all I really needed was reliable high-speed internet and time to take phone/video meetings. 

Now that Mark is working for CurlyRed full-time, we have this unique opportunity as a family to physically be wherever we want and do our work. We’re hoping this will lead to even more adventures moving forward. We’re already talking about taking a month, maybe the summer after next, to drive across the entire county. It's something I've always wanted to do, and now it won’t require winning the lottery or using 5 years of vacation time—it will only require a little advance planning. 

____

Thanks again for reading! Stay tuned for more life lessons next week.

9.06.2017

What I've Learned: Part One

written by: M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer, CurlyRed

Now that my year-long experiment of positing to Instagram once a day is over, I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned. In both my personal and professional life, some things have changed quite a bit, and some things haven't.

I figured I'd start by sharing a few life lessons for you:

1. Even wanted change is hard. If you’ve ever read this fantastic book, then you already know how much we humans fight even really good change. You get set in a pattern, for better or worse, and breaking it can feel like a major loss. I spent the first few months living in Garrett County alternating between being thrilled and terrified. Will I make friends? Will I fit in? How will my kids do? How will this affect my business?  And yet, change forces us out of our comfort zone, and to grow in new ways. Looking back, the “pros” of relocating have certainly outweighed the “cons.”

2. Every part of my being was craving more margin. Another wonderful book describes margin as a spiritual discipline of leaving space in one's life intentionally empty. Every day since moving, there have been moments standing at the bus stop, or sitting in a cafe, or looking out from my porch, and just being present. And it wasn't until this became my new normal that I realized how much I used to suffer, mentally and emotionally, from my lack of margin. Rushing from thing to thing is no longer part of my daily life, and I don't miss it one bit.

Day 365 from my Instagram feed.
3. Unscheduled downtime is extremely underrated. This is similar to point 2, but I’ve found just having open spaces of time, either by myself or with my family, is crucial to my well-being. Having fully-planned weekends (even full of fun things) would often leave me even more drained. Having the flexibility to go for a hike or go take a nap gives me that beautiful feeling of freedom, and has very much increased my joy.

4. Homesickness is valid—and shouldn't be downplayed. I remember one Sunday shortly following my move, when I was not only missing the Ravens game, but also two other Baltimore happenings—and my heart hurt. A lot. Instead of pushing those feelings away, I shared them (over some shed tears) with Mark and a neighbor who has become a good friend (even though I felt a bit like a whiny child). I immediately felt the sadness lift, but not disappear. I know I'll continue to experience bouts of homesickness—and that's very much ok. 

5. CurlyRed has amazing clients. The amount of support, well wishes and grace that has been extended to me and my company over the past year has been nothing short of remarkable. It has made this transition infinitely easier to know that so many of you have stood by CurlyRed, and continued to work with us. In turn, we’ve been able to do inspired, creative work with fresh eyes and refreshed spirits. To say “thank you” for this gift will never be enough.

Please stay tuned over the next few weeks to read more.

8.22.2017

Fall 2017 Web Internship Available!



CurlyRed Inc. is a local branding, print and web graphic design company that is looking an intern for Fall 2017.

This internship is open to college students working on their degree in website or digital design and/or development. It is an unpaid position, preferably for college credit. The days/hours for this internship are very flexible, CurlyRed will work around class and work schedules. This internship is on-site, but some hours may be able to be completed remotely. The internship will start in September and conclude in December of 2017.

Intern duties:    
• Assisting Ms. M. Kendall Ludwig (President of CurlyRed) and Mr. Mark Ludwig
   (Vice-President) with the 
production (and possible design) of digital projects, including
   but not limited to: custom websites, emails, 
web banners, and social media assets.
• Scanning images, color correcting or modifying images, and updating design files.
• Providing administrative office support, including file and database management,
   answering the phone, 
and other office-related tasks.
• Possibly accompanying Ms. and Mr. Ludwig to occasional client meetings and/or
   networking events.


Candidates should have:    
• Proficiency with the following graphics programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat,
   and the Google Suite.

• Basic working knowledge of the following coding languages: HTML, CSS, PHP,
   JavaScript, and jQuery.

• Basic working knowledge of CMS platforms, including WordPress. 
• Some samples or a portfolio of design work.
• Reliable transportation—CurlyRed is located in the Mtn. Lake Park, MD area.
• Excellent communication and organization skills.
• Ability to work independently.
• Desire to learn about the business side as well as the creative side or owning a
   creative business.


If you fit the bill, please fill out a contact form or call us at 410.878.2068 today! Together, we can work to bring good design to everyone.


8.16.2017

Featured Client: Ojas Wellness Center

A client CurlyRed has enjoyed working with from quite some time is also the best place in Baltimore to go for a facial or massage: Ojas

We wanted to feature them today because they are celebrating the opening of a brand new location in Cockeysville and we've loved watching them grow! 



We adore the philosophy they speak of on the Ojas website

We’re here for the same reason.

Because we believe in our potential to live a better life.

Because we choose power over pain.

Because we want to thrive, not merely exist.

We know the value in drinking water, taking walks, finding quiet moments for ourselves.

We know that personal growth starts with positive thinking.

We are miracle-minded.

We practice an attitude of gratitude.

We recognize happiness is the gift we give ourselves.

And we are all part of a great circle of wellness – where the healed become healers and the healers become healed.

Where when you feel better, we feel better, and on, and on, and on.

Together, we are Ojas.

At CurlyRed, we help Ojas with creative visuals (including custom signage, vehicle wraps, social media assets, emails, and even in-store decor) to achieve their mission! Here are some of our favorite pieces we've created for them over the years. 

Cheers to many more years of success, Ojas!

8.05.2017

CurlyRed Office to be Closed Until Friday, August 11th


We’re closing up shop to spend some fun family time down the ocean, hon!

Our office will re-open Friday, August 11th. If you have any immediate needs before then, please contact our office assistant Alandra at 410.878.2068 or office@curlyred.com.

7.12.2017

CurlyRed named now been named an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm!



We have a special announcement today: In addition to our Certification as a Minority Business Enterprise with the State of Maryland, CurlyRed has now been named an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm!


Why does this matter?

The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

This means that CurlyRed can now assist companies that are doing business with the Federal Government in reaching their HUBZone requirements!

If your company, or a company you know, has the need to connect with an SBA Certified HUBZone Firm, we want to hear from you! Please contact us today to set up a free consultation and to receive our Capabilities Brochure.
 
good design for everyone