A Year In Review: Building Our Empire Brick by Brick

2015 A Year In Review - Building Our Empire Brick By Brick - The Stage Presents Story

Every body loves an overnight success story, myself included.  It speaks to our fascination with the Rags to Riches Story.  But, I am sure that you know that those stories are few and far between. What you rarely hear about is the route or the journey that is taken in order to get to where you want to be.  Our 2015 Year In Review, is just a small piece of that story, Our story.

My love affair with blogging has always stemmed from the fact, that I stand in awe, at the transparency of bloggers.  The ability to let people into the deepest recesses of your soul, thoughts, and even your home is still mind blowing to me. I have been blogging since the early 2000’s, long before it was a trendy thing to do. That being said, moving from personal blogging to a blog that was associated with my brand, was a very different experience for me.  I felt like every word that I wrote, every opinion that I gave or every picture that I posted was now up for interpretation.  That was and still is a scary feeling.  So finding my voice in this particular blog is a continuous work in in progress.  While the opinions that I give are as honest and as true to myself as I can possibly be, I make an effort to be politically correct. (If that makes sense.)

Background Story: [For those of you who only joined us in 2015.] After working for the same company for over a decade, I was laid off.  My youngest daughter was only 2 at the time and had more food allergies than I could count on one hand. and my oldest daughter had challenges of her own.  So I opted to stay home and focus on my family for a while.  While that sounds grand, it didn’t feel grand.  It felt like I was drowning.  But, more than anything I was scared.  Out of that fear and  frustration, a dream was born.  We named it Stage Presents.  It was supposed to be a way for me to feel like I was still a financially contributing part of my household.  I would be lying if I told you that either of us expected great things.  We simply had no idea what to expect.  So for the first year (2014), we flew by the seat of our pants.  I read everything that I could on being a small business owner.  Took as many online classes as I could manage and implemented as many changes as I could, on the fly.  And, at the end of the year, we had established a foot hold and made 80 sales and were feeling like maybe we were on to something.  The greatest feeling an entrepreneur can experience is when people see, understand and support your vision, and if that earns you money, even better.

We were determined that 2015 was going to yield an even greater return.  So we started off the year by defining the things that we deemed necessary to keep progressing on this journey.  I won’t bore you with the whole list.  But, these were the main points.

  1. Build an Online Community.  Form Valuable Relationships with Other Bloggers and Small Business Owners.  Network and Collaborate.  Invest in the Visions of Others.  ✓
  2. Increase my Blog Readership and Subscriptions and Monetize My Blog ✓
  3. Develop a Formidable Online and Social Media Presence ✓
  4. Increase Both Views and Sales in Our Etsy Store ✓
  5. Maintain Our 5 Star Review Rating and continue to provide excellent Customer Service ✓

And, guess what, we did all of that this year.  Are we any closer to where we want to be?  Absolutely.  Do we feel like this journey is anywhere close to its completion? Nope, not at all.  But, we are committed to the process and invested in our dream.

Here are some of the Highlights from Our Year:  We offered Exclusive Content to our Subscribers and the List Soared to over 100 Monthly Subscribers.  Our Lake Eufaula poster was purchased and featured in an episode of NCIS – New Orleans.  What an amazing way to start out the year!!  We threw our hats into the ring and began to offer Invitations, Save The Dates, and other Stationery for “Brides to Be”.  Our Digital Library Card Invitations were a big hit with several authors.  Our Restaurant Meat Cut prints were and continue to be a best seller.  We invited you into our home as we decorated for Easter, Fall and eventually Christmas.  We shared some of our favorite recipes.  Helped you get your little ones ready for Back to School and added Printable Posters to Our Shop. Whew!! That was a mouthful.

Highlights of 2015 - The Stage Presents Story

2015 has been an amazing year, both for the business and for the blog and we look forward to what 2016 has to offer.  We are humbled by the support of our readers, our customers, and our community.  We acknowledge that without you we couldn’t have come this far.  As we end this year, and venture into the new one keep these words in mind.

“We are at our very best and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey towards the goal, we’ve established for ourselves.  It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep.     It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”

-Earl Nightingale

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for a Bountiful New Year from your Stage Presents Family!! Adios 2015!!

Three… Two… One… A Friday Series No.2

Three Blogs Two Faves One Freebie(Printable) - Friday Blog Series found on stage-presents.com

Three Blogs:
Brooklyn Limestone

Taste Better From Scratch

The Glitzy Pear

Three Blogs Two Faves One Freebie(Printable) - Friday Blog Series found on stage-presents.com

Photo Source: 1 2 3 – In Number Order

Two Faves:

Nordic Ware Silver Dollar Waffle Griddle

The Easy Herb Mill & Grinder

Three Blogs Two Faves One Freebie(Printable) - Friday Blog Series found on stage-presents.com

Photo Source: 1 2

One Freebie: Lunch Box Notes

Free Printable Lunch Box Notes For Personal Use Only - Freebie Friday 82815 - found on stage-presents.com

Super Sweet Lunch Box Note Printables – To Download – Click On the Link – Save – Print – Cut

 Have an Awesome Weekend!!

Being Accountable for Both Your Success and Your Failure as an Etsy Shop Owner

Advice On Being Accountable for Your Successes and Failures as an Etsy Shop Owner

As many Etsy Business Owners do, in the beginning I joined many Etsy Facebook Groups in the hopes of being able to advertise and meet like minded individuals. That did not really go as planned.  What I did find, that I didn’t anticipate was a lot of complaining, and dare I say whining. There was a serious lack of accountability. Owning your own business is no easy feat. And, as with anything challenging, I think that it is pretty common to find folks blaming others for their failures and or short comings. So I suppose I should not have been surprised. Complaining is extremely contagious, it is really easy to jump on the murmuring bandwagon when things aren’t going your way.  However, in the midst of all of that, I managed to find some Etsy Sellers who were really focused on building their brand, catering to their customers and advancing. For those few, I think there was a common core to their success. The whole experience prompted me to write this blog on Being Accountable for Both Your Success and Your Failure as an Etsy Shop Owner.

“You can’t accept praise for your success, but not bear blame for your failure.” — Sheree Thomas

a.  It is up to  you to make sure that your listings read as they should.  Just as you can’t read your customers minds, they can not read yours.  Leaving things open to interpretation, leaves them open to be INTERPRETED.  S-P-E-L-L it out.  If your digital item prints best at 11’x14′, say that.  If you are willing to make changes to custom invitations, be sure to indicate how. For example, I am only willing to change the background color and the font size.  I am willing to make 3 revisions.    My pillows only come in these sizes.  And, so on and so forth.

b.  If you make a mistake CLAIM IT.  (Read about my Shipping Fumble Here).  If you did everything you could to ensure proper delivery and some how something broke.  You may want to consider giving the customer a refund (partial or full).  It could be the difference between a return customer and a bad review.  Things happen unfortunately (Murphy’s law).  Sometimes you may just have to EAT IT.  I know that is no easy thing to do, especially when you are counting on the money.

c.  There are a lot of Etsy Shop Owners who are willing to help NEWBIES.  But, if you ask for a critique then be prepared to hear it.  Don’t lose your sh….. ahem Marbles when you hear something you don’t like.  And, if people give you advice, and you do not take it and continue to complain about your lack of sales.  Then….. sigh…   And just to save you the trouble, most constructive critiques will go something like this:

 1. Better Pictures and Lighting Are Needed

2.  Your Products Need Better Descriptions (Detail, Detail, Detail)

3.  You May Be Under Selling Your Product or Over Selling (Check Your Price Point)

4.  Tags (Pick the Best Tags for Your Products) –Check Out These Etsy Tips Found here on Indiemade.com

5.  Learn All You Can About Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Check Out this Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO found here on Moz.com.

Etsy Tools - The Ins and Outs

“What comes easy, won’t LAST and what lasts won’t come EASY.”

Stage Presents Event Stylist – Cassandra Scully of Creative Elegance

Stage Presents - Fuest Interview with Event Stylist Cassandra Scully of Creative Elegance


In 2003, I became a certified wedding and event planner, but it was not  until I took a Merchandising course, that I realized my love for all things creative. Making this career move, has really made me think outside of the box. It has caused me to create my famous “Panty Bouquet,” in addition to the single panty roses and panty cupcakes. Most popular for bachelorette parties and bridal showers.  My knack for the creative allows me to create new and innovative ideas that compliment traditional pieces.


Creative Elegance is an event styling company. Event styling consists of beautiful stylings of bouquets, center pieces, décor and more! Some may call me a miracle worker because I can turn your wedding from cheap to chic! We also love to personalize every bit of your wedding from your invitations to personalized printables. Creative Elegance styles events such as children’s parties, Sweet Sixteens’, Bridal Parties and so much more! Creative Elegance is now offering Home Staging Services, as well. You can now benefit from the luxury of having the Creative Elegance touch inside your home whether you’re buying – selling – moving or staying!


I am proud to say that Creative Elegance doesn’t have a set demographic.  Creative Elegance caters to all ages. We do themed children’s parties, girls night out parties, baptisms and christenings, baby showers, weddings, to name a few. Creative Elegance boasts of being able to bring a playful and whimsical side that will ensure that your children’s parties are a hit, and the modern, classic and mature side to fulfill your wedding expectations.


To date, my favorite event has been A “Sweet Six”.   It was a modern twist on the sweet sixteen or the classic sixth birthday. We had slideshows, a mini dance recital, dancing, music and mini-activity stations. Trends show that children’s parties are getting bigger and bigger.  The Sweet Six was the perfect size.  It allowed there to be a This event had a quaint and playful feel.  The guests of honor wore  tutu dresses designed by Creative Elegance.  And featured a candy table/bar that the kids could enjoy. The menu consisted of modern, yet sophisticated kid friendly food.  It gave Creative Elegance freedom for creativity. It is definitely a new signature in the Creative Elegance vault.


My brand is expanding, and we are now offering new products and services, some of which are: custom/bridal TuTu Skirts, printed Bridal Tanks & Tees and gum ball necklaces/bracelets for kids events.  Creative Elegance is now venturing into the staging industry both residential and commercial. In addition to all these amazing services,  look out for future collaborations with two other amazing event planners in Toronto (Heavenz Décor & Ki-Events), together we have formed an organization calledCAKEvents. CAKEvents is an organization that focuses on the youths and brides on a budget, as well giving back to our community.


The advice I would give to an upcoming individual with that creative flair is to be true to themselves, and to live their truth. Let your individuality shine through and do not compromise yourself to “fit in”.   You are creative, you were meant to STAND OUT.

Creations by Creative Elegance Events - Styled by Cassandra Scully


They can and will exceed your expectations, regardless of your age, event or specifications.  Creative Elegance has over 10 years of experience and knowledge in the event planning industry.  We are based in Toronto, Canada  and welcomes the opportunity to work with you to make your event a memorable and satisfying experience.

** I truly enjoyed interviewing Cassandra and being able to pick her mind and find out what makes her such a force in the Toronto Event Planning Industry.  She has a fresh perspective on Event Styling and a Definite Passion for what she does.  If you are in the Toronto Area, seek her out.  She gets the Stage Presents Stamp of Approval!!

You can find Cassandra and Creative Elegance all over the web at:

Via Email

Via Her Website

Via Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

What we learned since opening Our Etsy Store 365 days Ago

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Today, February 10th, 2015, marks the One Year Anniversary of Our Etsy Store.  I can hardly believe that it has been that long, but I can.  I remember how nervous I was the day that we officially launched Our Store.  I had no idea what the future would hold for Stage Presents, or how our items would be received.  But, we stepped forward in faith and embarked on this grand journey.  As most of you know, Stage Presents is a joint venture between my husband and I, and if you really want to know, I think its the secret to our success thus far. So….. I enlisted his help in writing this post.

As in any business effort, there is a lot of behind the scenes work that the customers never see. (Lucky for them, because it can get messy.)  Prior to starting this venture and through out, we did a lot of research, trial and error.  Here are some of the things that worked for us.

  1. You must have clear detailed product photos.  I can’t stress this enough.  I am a part of several Facebook Etsy Groups, and fellow shop owners are ALWAYS asking for critiques.   This is the most frequently given answer, of how to improve your shop.  [Lucky for me, hubby is a photographer, so we had that in the bag.]  Keep in mind that you are an Online Shop.  Your customers DO NOT have the luxury of being able to feel and touch and discern the quality of your items.  So a picture is literally worth a thousand words.
  2. Be Prepared to Put in the Time Necessary to Make This Work For You. IT IS TIME CONSUMING. Not only is it going to take time to create each individual listing, as well as whatever product you are selling.  But, you need to also be prepared to Cross Promote.  Spend Time on Your Social Media Pages.  Network with Other Entrepreneurs.  Give as Good as you Get.
  3. Be Responsive to Purchases, as well as Etsy and Social Media Conversations.  We get a lot of conversations regarding Our Items that do not necessarily result in sales.  It can be frustrating, but, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  So, be as professional as possible, and put this in the Category of Possible Future Business.

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

  4. Remember Murphy’s Law murphys law Some things are just out of your control.  This was a hard lesson for me.  Have a backup plan in place in instances where your products may not make it to their location in one piece and or if the product is delivered to the wrong recipient.
  5. Pay Close Attention to Your Stats.  Where is Your Traffic Coming From?  What Keywords are People Searching to Get to Your Store?  What Time of The Day Are Your Items Getting The Most Attention?
  6. Give People Choices – When Possible.  When Making Your Items Consider Making Multiple Versions of the Same Product – Different Fabric, Color Variations, or Even Size.
  7. BE SPECIFIC.  Your customers will not know, if you DO NOT TELL THEM.  Make sure that your Product Terms and Conditions are Straight Forward and DO NOT leave room for Interpretation.
  8. Lastly, Enjoy the Ride.  It will have its ups and downs.  Some weeks and even some months, will be slower than you could ever imagine.  Some things that you create and think are amazing, may or may not take off.  But, it’s a learning process that will continue for as long as your shop stays open.

365 Days  – 99 Sales.

Thank you all for all the support you have given us over the year.  We couldn’t have done it with out you.

Do you have any Tips that we didn’t include that you would love to share with us? Funny Growing Pains Stories?  Please Share yours in the comment section below.


J’adore 7/8: Double Edition

Stomach Flu had me out for the count last week, so I tried to make up for it, with a Double Edition this week.  Hope you enjoy!!

I was a little thrown off my game this year, with Easter being so far into April. But, at least it gave me more time to make Easter Memorable.  I am really feeling these non-traditional ideas for Decorating Eggs  – Glitter Eggs and these Chalkboard Eggs.  Haven’t decided which one I like more, or if these Qualify as a Mommy Project or a Mommy and the Girls Project.  After all they have their PAAS Egg Decorating Sets, lol.

The change of Season is inspiring Color Everywhere.  Elle Decor recently shared their Spring 2014 Color Trends, along with their ideas of how to Design and Decorate using these hues.   My favorite colors from their list were PANTONE 16-3823 Violet Tulip and PANTONE 18-3949 Dazzing Blue.  In fact, I am trying to incorporate the Blue into my Easter Tablescape.  I will let you know how that turns out.  It doesn’t seem to be an easy color to find and or match with my existing dinnerware.

With my birthday approaching, I have been bouncing around ideas of getting together with my girlfriends.  Trying to figure out if I wanted to do a full blown dinner party, go out to eat, or do some type of wine/cheese tasting party. That is when I ran across this, and had to chuckle.  Have you ever had these kind of days?

I know I shared the link, but I had to share the pic in this actual post(priceless).



This past year my nine year old had a LOT of Dental Work done.  She had adult teeth that came in behind the baby teeth and it took a lot to get everything where it should be.  Super Painful too, so this year, I am shying away from anything that could put my baby back in that dentist chair, other than a cleaning.  I am looking for NON CANDY Easter Basket Options.  I guess I am not the only one, I found a lot of great ideas here and here.

Lastly, someone mentioned to me this week that a lot of people want to use Pillows to decorate, but are unsure about Pillow Placement.  So here is some “Pillow Porn” for you. Hope that didn’t offend anyone…



Did this help you think of a place you could put a Throw Pillow?  Head on over to our Etsy Store for some options!!

Next week, I will be sharing some Great Easter Crafts… Until then, AS YOU WERE!! 


The Strength of the Tree — Direction in 2014!!


“The Strength of a Tree  Lies In It’s Ability to Bend.”

Stage Presents was birthed out of the concept of surrounding ourselves with only those things, persons, places or things that bring us joy.  As we grow and mature, I believe our concepts of beauty and joy mature with us, and therefore tend to be redefined.  Stage Presents is a forum where all aspects of life are embraced.

Stage Presents encourages women to aspire to be well rounded and learned.  To that end we try to share information that runs the gamut.  In 2013, we focused a lot on home decor, motivational and inspiration thought, art, music,  and family to name a few.

In 2014, we plan to broaden our scope of topics.  My Vision for Stage Presents is to make it more interactive.  We would love to get your opinions and find out what your interest are and what you would like to discuss.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by both powerful, smart and insightful people.  So, I believe wholeheartedly that there is power in suggestion, advice and the counsel of like minded individuals.  I know that we will not all see things through the same eyes, but I have learned a lot by listening to the opinions and points of view of others.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to greatness in 2014.  Your continued support and vital contributions(comments), are they key to Stage Presents being a True “Blueprint to Better Living”.

I am looking forward to 2014 with bated breath.

I leave you with this Quote which is at the top of my 2014 Vision Board, I hope you find meaning it.

“The Well Rounded Adventurer is adaptable, flexible, and versatile.  They know that things don’t always go as planned, so like trees, they bend with the wind, course correcting as often as necessary.  Their capability to do many things competently keeps them pressing forward, staying mentally alert and undistracted in focus.  Frustration has no room in their minds to sabotage their determination or to kill their confidence.  Prepare, Posture, Position, Arise and Be Wise in 2014!!” – Author Unknown

All the Best for the New Year!!

Your Stage Presents Family