Never Stop The Hustle

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I fear I may lose blog time once again as Cyber Monday was a doozy. A doozy in the best kind of way possible, but a doozy never the less.
*will not say doozy for rest of post.

As I hit my record sale day on Monday I laughed, I cried, I panicked. I experienced all the feelings. Even with some help, I'm struggling to fill orders and feel as if I'll never get caught up. But what a fun problem to have! THANK YOU to everyone who ordered. You don't know this, but you sent me over the edge for a very lofty goal I set last year on December 26th.

At the end of 2015 I lost a pretty solid social media client. It was a big account which gave me a consistent paycheck every week. Basically, it was my safety net. It was nice to know that when tshirt sales go up and down, I always had this account to fall back on. But they let me know last December that due to budget restraints they were going to have to cut social media and do it in house.

Once again I was about to lose a big, steady, chunk of my income. Such is the life of freelance. It was a let-down yes, but not entirely surprising.

And so last year in the basement of Chris's parents house I made a plan (more like a dream sheet.) And told Chris, "I'm going to blow up T-Shirt Town this year. It's my only option."

"What do you mean? How?" He asked, because Chris is logical and always needs a what/how.

"Not sure, but I'm going to do it." Where as I'm more of a write down crazy dreams/buy crystals and hope for the best kind of person.

I wrote down some numbers that were more than double from what I did the year before. I came up with new designs and plans to market them. I remember feeling excited and nervous with the thought of could I actually do this in the back of my head?

What I didn't realize about those lofty goals is the amount of work it would take to hit them. It was all fun and games to write them down, but actually hitting them? Holy shit.

Last year the day before I left for my best friend's wedding in Palm Springs I was up until 3:30 a.m. packing shirts before catching a 5:30 a.m. car to the airport. I remember thinking, what the hell did I get myself into? And this late night t-shirt binge happened over and over and over.

Luckily it was my own wedding that forced me to hire help. I had no choice. Five months later, I still have help and I would be lost with out it.

On Monday at 1:15 p.m. I surpassed my goals. I stared at the screen and really forced myself to live in the moment and take it in. I DID IT! I achieved something! Albeit it was just a silly t-shirt sale, but still. I've had far too many goals I've written down in life that I just let slip by the wayside because I get lazy or scared. Mostly lazy.

The cherry on top was when the Timehop app reminded me of this post written at this exact time four years ago.

Four years ago this week I was let go from my full time job due to "restructuring." I remember crawling under a blanket on my couch and texting my parents, "got let go today, please don't call for a few hours. Not ready to talk about it yet."

And then I cried and felt sorry for myself for the rest of the day. But really it was more like the rest of the year. And several months into the next year...

I gave everyone homemade Christmas gifts in 2012 and did odd jobs for family members to make money. Jobs I would have done when I was ten.... I was kind of humiliated by it, but also motivated.

I told myself I'd never be in the position to be "let go" by someone ever again. Ever ever ever ever. *not counting free lance social media clients, that's different, ok? K.

Moral of the story: everyone should sell tshirts!!!!!

Just kidding. NO ONE SHOULD BUT ME.

I don't know what the real moral is because we all have different situations. For me, I had to get past the darkness that was the winter of 2013 by reading every self help book I could find, studying what other entrepreneurs with my background/very empty bank account were doing, and finding my niche. I tried a lot of things that failed. I still do. But I guess at the end of the day I can feel okay about the fact I never stop trying. Never stop hustling.

The "Most Hustle" trophies I received every year for basketball mean more to me now than they ever have. I never got MVP because I couldn't make a basket to save my life, but damn it I was the fastest to run lines, was scrappier than I should have been, and tried so so hard.

*This post is dedicated to Tony Robbins. And The Secret. Also Elizabeth Gilbert, more specifically her book/podcast Big Magic. Also, The Alchemist. And my psychic even though she occasionally steals from me. And I can't forget the sweet girl on Ashland who sells me crystals.

Thank you and good day!

My Cyber Monday Deals In T-Shirt Town

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hello, it's me! I'm back. Are you back? Good.

It's rainy and cold in Chicago and if I don't keep myself on task today I end up just staring out my window for hours at a time.

A huge part of my wants to just ramble on about vacation last week. On the five hour plane ride back I was caught in the middle of an extended family of 35+ people on their way home from 6 days together in one house. Boy, was that a treat.

I will say this, in Paul's defense (the man I was sitting next to, God Bless him) he really hasn't been treated well by the brothers since the four wheeler accident of '93. It was an ACCIDENT. Typical Tom not to get that.

And last thing I'll say about Melissa, is that she really should have told the family they were going to have to help pay for water before the trip. It's fine they all had to chip in, but they would have liked to have known before the fact, you know? But of course Melissa doesn't know anything about budgeting, she has a house in Cabo for God's sake.

And Paul didn't even use the pool!

More to come on that, I spent five hours with the fam, how could I not retell the tales here? Family dynamics are fun.

But the other part of me, the blogger part, the business owner, knows I have to at least mention a few Cyber Monday deals. Just a few.

Below are some of my favs. I haven't done any shopping until today. But today I am going to town. *and by town I mean not leaving my couch. 

First are foremost, a shoutout to my own store. For the very first time I'm doing a sale and it makes me so excited and nervous. I imagine all small business owners feel this way. Our margins are low so we can't do what the big guys do, but darn it we try.

Start here with the code ONETIMEONLY

Or head to nebrowse with code talkherbietome_holiday

Might I also suggest... Slippers for 40% off from Nordstrom and J Crew.

And Hunter Boots...


30% off ALL at Tory Burch.

Get a FREE pair of studs with every order from Hey June- her earrings are my favs and are SO affordable ($8-$10) they make great stocking stuffers!

Up to 50% from West Elm.

20% off ALL from Alice&Wonder (wearing the new holiday line in top photo.)

20% off EVERYTHING from Minted. Holiday cards, prints, wall decor, you name it! We just hung our new prints last night and then I took this pic on my iphone 30 seconds ago... so ignore the poor quality.

The "gallery wall" is a work in progress obviously (aren't they always?)...  But I LOVE the typewriter and skyline print so much, this terrible pic doesn't even begin to do them justice.

Gifts under $50 from Nordstrom.

30% off EVERYTHING from Asos.

20% off All from Anthropology.

50% off Everything from Old Navy. Like this vest and sweater!

And of course, my go-to for everything, AMAZON! 

You get the point, people are giving away the farm today.

When you're done shopping come back for more Paul and Melissa gossip. You'll never guess who switched seats at the end of the flight. DRAMAAAA.

Sharing Our Wedding Photo Book

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Big news! We just got our wedding photo book back and once again; I am reliving the entire weekend one photo at a time.

When our photographer sent our photos last month, I'll admit I was slightly overwhelmed. I mean, there were hundreds, maybe thousands even, to sort through. The thought of creating a photo book seemed just a bit daunting, but I also had this feeling that if I didn't do it soon, it might never get done.

And so last Sunday evening I sat down with a glass of wine, a good movie, and the mission to create my book on Shutterfly. Now Shutterfly can be a dangerous site for me if I'm not careful. Iat always starts with just one item (like a photo book) but the next thing I know I'm ordering mugs, pillows, t-shirts, coasters, magnets, I suddenly think I need everything with my photos on them because Shutterfly's products are just that fun.

In short, I'm pretty sure I've ordered almost every item Shutterfly offers over the years, but hands down our wedding book is my new favorite. I can't even begin to express how wonderful the quality is- but I'll try. I'll also show photos (of photos) but they just don't do it justice.

I love this photo of Chris and his friends in the pool while all of the girls were spending hours in hair and makeup. Also the blueness of the water and overall beauty of the day captured in this image has me craving a hot summer day very bad right now as snow is falling outside.

For starters, let me give you the details on the book we ordered because Shutterfly offers a wide variety of choices. We chose the 12 x 12 book (perfect size for a coffee table) with a premium leather cover, double thick pages to prevent tearing, and true spread pages to allow photos to spread across the binding of the book.

I knew that I will only make a wedding book once in my life, so I wanted to do it right.

I've mentioned before I'm not the best at design stuff, I just don't have "the eye" for knowing what looks the best so I opted to use Shuttefly's Make My Book service. This allows Shutterfly designers to assist in curating your photos to ensure you make the best book possible, which made the entire process so much easier than I thought it would be. I don't know why I even stressed for a second about making a book because it was no trouble at all and less than a week later I already have it in my hands.

If I sound like I'm gushing now, I totally am. The quality of the photos completely surpassed my expectations and looking at them right now takes me back to Steamboat all over again.

I had some fun with the party photos as you can see... I really wanted to capture the essence of the evening. I think I did a pretty good.

Best part of all? The photo books on Shutterfly are very affordable, a great alternative to purchasing a book straight from a wedding photographer- and you get to be a part of the process!

If you're still sitting on all of your wedding photos and aren't sure what to do with them, think no more and start creating your wedding photo book on Shutterfly today! You'd have it in time for the holidays!

And that's a wrap! Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!

This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. Memorable moments, lovely details. Celebrate them all in a wedding photo book personalized in your style, your way.

How Well Do You Know Your Dog?

Friday, November 18, 2016

I was asked to participate in the #DiscoverYourDog campaign, sponsored by Dognition. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own, and all results are 100% from Harlow. 

Harlow and I were on our lunch break yesterday, shopping around Milwaukee street, when we stopped to talk with a security guy at a store we frequent.

"Does your dog go everywhere with you?" he asked.

"He does," I responded.

"I see you in here quite a bit, and he's always with you. I think he's the happiest dog I've ever seen."

I laughed and without a second thought said, "he's my best friend."

I openly talk to Harlow in public, tell strangers "he's my best friend," and do a plethora of other weird stuff because I forget not everyone views their dog like I do. When you spend 24/7 with your pup, you know every look, bark, ear movement, ext. Simply put, we get each other.

However because I'm obsessed with Har, I wanted to really see just how much we get each other. So when I was offered the chance to try out Dognition, a site that offers science-based games that assess 5 core dimensions of your dog's cognition — empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning, I said YES PLEASE.

I'll take any chance to get to know what's going on in Harlow's head. So one afternoon, Harlow and I spent a couple of hours playing the Dognition games and his results gave me all the heart eyes. But before I dig into Harlow's results, there's quite a few benefits to Dognition I'd like to mention (other than just giving owners the warm fuzzies.)

The Dognition assessment can help with:

* Identifying which training approaches may be best based on your dog’s learning style.
* Helps you connect with your dog on a deeper level and helps reduce frustration with behavior that
may seem puzzling.
* Helps identify activities that are best suited to your dog’s cognitive style.
* Creating that bestie relationship and making sure your dog is as happy as he can be.

The first set of tests were aimed at scoring Harlow's empathy level. I am happy to report, he was "off the charts." Dognition used the words, not me. Just take a look for yourself. #humblebrag.

"If most dogs are bonded to their owners, Harlow absolutely adores you."

Obviously I always knew this, but it's just nice to confirm it, you know? For example if I'm ever having a down day, Harlow will not leave my side (more so than usual.) Also, no arguments are allowed in our house. Harlow just doesn't stand for it. If Chris or I raise our voices even a little, Harlow gets very upset. He's just a sensitive little guy and picks up on everything.

Beyond the fun of getting to know your dog on a new level, Dognition is a super user-friendly site, and personalizes everything for your pup.

If you're a dog owner, I highly suggest you browse the site here. The assessment is $19 one time.

Also, the games are very stimulating. As you can see Harlow was exhausted after!

I also like that Dognition is a dog cognition assessment, not an IQ test or an “intelligence” test in the traditional sense. So there is no “score” or “dumb” dog. Just like humans, all dogs have their own special genius, and combination of strengths and weaknesses. For example Harlow is very empathetic, but not exactly the best listener when it comes to leaving a treat on the ground... But like any good parent, I'll only focus on his strengths.

At the conclusion of the assessment I received a full (15 page) report detailing what kind of dog Harlow is and how he sees the world. Note the words "BONDED" in bold at the very top. That means he loves me a lot.

The report also told me that Harlow can "read me like a book." True, very true. But the moment I turn my back he may just slip into naughty mode and do whatever the heck he pleases... Again, also true.

What area do you think your dog would test the highest in: empathy, communication, cunning, memory, or reasoning? To see for yourself, check out Dognition. Hint hint: it's also a great holiday gift to give!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Let's Get Festive

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Yesterday's post was the product of standup. Given the stories I regularly hear people tell at open mikes, I occasionally forget what is okay to share and what is not... So I'm glad we were on all board with the "code red" stuff.

But let's change the subject today to something a little more festive, shall we?

My holiday shirts are in and I am very VERY excited about them.

LET'S GET FESTIVE! I really outdid myself with this pic, right? Jk, I wish. Whitney took this photo because she's a professional and I am not. Find the shirt here,  I have a limited amount so order up.

Now let's see a product of my photo skills...

I TRIED. I tried so hard. Given that I basically can't see color, or lines, or wrinkles, this is the best I can do. But it's fine, because HOLIDAY DRINKING BUDDY is my favorite. Perfect for that night before Thanksgiving we all know and love.

Also, I'm giving away a lot of fun holiday items on my Facebook page found here. Here's the thing, by now I understand how the tshirt game works. I may not like it, or be able to change it, so the best thing I can do is try to stay ahead of it.

Thus the big fun giveaway...

My goal is to get my shirts in front of as many eyes as possible before the .... "borrowers" step in and borrow the designs and phrases I created. I'm just doing my best here in T-Shirt Town. Harlow has his eye on a new waterbed for Christmas and I'll never hear the end of it if I don't get it for him. I told him waterbeds are a thing of the past, but he's super retro.

So anyway. That's my strategy this holiday season and I'm sticking to it. If you're interested in bulk orders (I've had several people inquire about buying matching shirts for their entire family which yes that's AMAZING) just send me an email. We'll work something out.

Photos by Iron & Honey. Pj bottoms, I SLAY doormat and koozie from Alice and Wonder.
Beanie found here.
Metallic sneakers found here. (They're less than $40!)
COZY AF sweatshirt found here.
Plaid Jogger Pjs here.

When Things Turn Bad

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It's been a hard week. Tensions and emotions have been high. I've touched on subjects I don't usually touch on before, but it just wouldn't have felt right not bringing them up.

And now I'm about to talk about another hard subject. Something many of you may wonder why I'm even going to bother going down this road. What good can come from it? But I always try to speak the truth, and the truth is that this happened to me. Perhaps in writing this I may found out that it's happened to some of you, as well. So here it is.

 It was a beautiful fall afternoon.

The type of day where I could get away with simply a vest over a sweatshirt, no scarf necessary. Yellow leaves littered the sidewalk as Har and I took our normal post-lunch jaunt around the neighborhood. Might be the last really nice day, I thought to myself, as I have every day since the end of September. And so Har and I walked a little further than normal in an attempt to really soak up the sunshine.

We were two blocks from the park we were planning to go to (which was roughly a 20 minute walk from our house) when it hit me. The feeling that makes your hair stand up on your arms, sweat instantly gather around your forehead, and the thought of "what the hell did I eat for breakfast?" enter your mind.

What it is a vuvuzela? Because that's the sound that just came from my stomach.

I don't know what you call it in your world, but in mine it's simply called a "poop attack." I know that's not a pretty phrase, but there's really no sense in pussy footing around here. It's the human body. It's natural. I think.

Given that this wasn't my first rodeo, I was well aware of the fact that this first wave was simply a tremor. A teaser if you will, of the trouble that was about to come if I didn't get myself to proper facility and asap. I calculated the time between when I first felt the thunder in my stomach and saw the lighting in my eyes and knew I had roughly 3.5 minutes before the next wave.

My options at this point were to call my body's bluff and continue on, hoping it was just a false alarm, or I could start the long waddle home. I was at a crossroads. Literally. Starbucks to my left. Funeral home to my right.

The next wave came quicker and faster than the first and made the decision for me.

Given that I had Harlow with me, my options for public restrooms were limited, but I could tie him up outside of Starbucks while I ran in. But one quick glance to the left and I saw two other dogs outside waiting for their owners inside getting coffee (or perhaps suffering through their own attack) one shall never know because that option was just eliminated. Harlow doesn't allow me to tie him up next to other animals, it makes him feel like a dog.

So I moved toward my right, back in the direction of my house praying that my bowels would not turn on me. They were clearly angry, but how angry I didn't yet know.

And then the funeral home doors opened up and the sidewalk was flooded with mourning elderly people.


It was a busy street so we couldn't just cross, instead we had to wait for the largest funeral in the history of funerals to slowly, ever so slowly, clear the sidewalk.

As the third wave hit I actually groaned and said aloud, oh my God I'm dying here. Not my best choice of words for the moment as several glares were thrown my way.

In a panic, we took a sharp turn down the alley. In case things got really really bad, I scanned my surroundings for a stray sock, an old shirt, a large leaf. Survival mode had kicked in.

My thoughts started to move to, if I have to do this- could I get arrested? I could tell the police what happened, certainly they'd understand. Unless there's a school full of children nearby...

No matter how I looked at it, the outcome didn't look good.

We moved as quick as possible down one block after the other. My bowels were taking me on an emotional rollercoaster the entire time. One moment I saw hope. The next, defeat. Hope. Defeat. Hope. Defeat. Hope. Where's that big leaf?

When we got to a stoplight and things seemed very bleak Harlow actually glanced to his "Harlow bags" then back at me as if to say, this one's on me, I owe you!

Please no, I begged my body. And God. And the Universe. Whoever was listening.

Nobody ever wants to be in this situation, not ever. Not at a house party, or work, or on a street corner. It's a terrible feeling. And it's just not supposed to happen like this. It's what nightmares are made of (and also stupid comedies.) And blog posts........

We pushed on and I started to see that I could make it home if I played my cards just right. However the closer we got, the more excited I got, the more excited my body got. It always seems to happen like this. When the homestretch is near, everyone feels it.

We got to our final stoplight, the busy intersection of Lincoln and Wrightwood and 100 other streets. And what do I see?

A funeral procession of cars. THE SAME ONE.

You might think I'm making this up. And I wish I was. But it's the truth.

The largest funeral in the history of funerals had a procession of cars that took up three stops lights.

Not one, or two, but three. Had the cars been at a standstill blocking the intersection I would have walked in between them, but they weren't. They were moving at snail pace just fast enough to kill me.

Right as I was about to Bridesmaid myself in the street the last car came though. And Harlow and I ran like the wind toward our house (as much as you can in this situation, if you know, you know.)

I feel blessed to report that my story ended okay on this horrific day. But I know not everyone's does. And I'm aware that this a subject no one wants to talk about, or read about, so if you've made it to this part, God Bless. I just wanted to open the dialogue for this and let you know that if you've been in this situation you're not alone.

This is my PSA to the world.

And yes, I'm resisting the urge to make a terrible "Public Shitters Anonymous" joke here. It just came into my mind this second and I can't help myself.

Okay I think I'm going to leave now. This probably should have wrapped up after "it's been a hard week." But I got in too deep and couldn't stop. I'm done.

*This post will remain on my page until my mom calls me and tells me to take it down. 

Settling Into Our New Place

Monday, November 14, 2016

Harlow's doing quite fine in the new place, thanks for asking.

He's been tirelessly decorating and cleaning and getting things just right, but he always makes time for a little R & R, as you can see.

We've been in our new condo for two weeks now and every day we wake up and ask, "how do we get to live here?" I'm not trying to sound smug, we just both honesty feel so excited and grateful we were able to find the place we did. It makes all of those 2 a.m. nights of packing t-shirts totally worth it.

We're like too gleeful kids on Christmas morning, yes of course we fight like animals when we're putting stuff together (or moving shit up and down our stairs because Chris moves too fast and even though I look strong I'm not that strong, okay Chris?!?!) but for the most part, we've been been walking around on cloud nine these past few weeks.

It's not like it's a mansion, it's a two bedroom condo for God's sake, but after what we've lived in for the past six years, IT'S A MANSION.

We have TWO nightstands. And they match. Do you understand what I'm saying here? Our bed has two sides that you can walk on, you get to choose! Have you ever heard of such luxury?

The walls are bare, but we're getting there. I obviously have my blogger mirror set up because #priorities. And Har's in the background judging me, per usual.

It's also fun that we seem to finally have found our style (or at least we think we have.) It's taken us about five years, but things are starting to vibe better. We've been able to buy pieces that we want (thank you wedding, gift cards!) rather than just accept what our parents no longer want.

The kitchen decor was all Chris, but I think he did good. We have big plans of new backsplash, counters, ext, but those things are all great "winter projects" as people say.

In following the blogger code of conduct, I'll definitely do a home tour post when it's ready. But we still have a lot to do before that happens.

Some people have a real knack for home decor, I do not. It does not come naturally to me at all. So the past few weeks it's been a lot of trial and error while I try to pull something off that I really have no talent for... Luckily there's Pinterest and also the kind workers at CB2 and West Elm who see me come in every day and know that they have to hold my hand throughout the store and guide me on everything.

But enough chit chat, t-shirt town is calling and the holidays are upon us. Lots to do, not a lot of time.

Below I'll link some of our home items. A few are definitely invest pieces, but others I searched the internet to find for more affordable prices (like the faux cow hyde from wayfair, holla!) *I already regret writing "holla." My apologies. There's also this cow hyde on amazon.

Have a good Monday, friendly reminder that next week is Thanksgiving!

Nordic Bedding. (on sale, while I payed full price last week. cool cool)
White Moroccan Rug.   Red Bench.   Globe Lamp.     Nightstand.  Grey Mongolian Lamb Pillow.

Steel Kitchen Cart.    White stools.

Living room-
Rug from Home Goods! I don't know how to link it, go find it!
Swivel Chair.     Tripod Lamp.     K, I'm tired of doing this now, bye.

13 Gift Ideas For The Dog Lovers In Your Life

Thursday, November 10, 2016

And now for a post all about dog gifts. We all knew I was going to write this post, correct? Good. It makes me happy. I hope it does the same for you.

It's my newest dog-related shirt. Yay! DOGS ARE MY TRIBE!


For wine lovers...

If you like coffee... Or mugs in general. I love these personalized mugs. (Order quick, there's usually a line!)

This necklace.

Found here.
This bandana.

Found here.

These coasters.

Found here.

This stocking holder. Because your dog obviously has a stocking.

Found here.
This welcome mat.

Found here.

Yay koozies!

Found here.
Personalized treat jar!

Found Here.

This pillow.

Found here.
Pet Teepee. Because OMG it's a pet teepee.

Found here.

And finally, the classic "I Just Want To Hang With My Dog" shirt.

Found here.
What I did leave off that you're loving this season? Tell me below! I want all the dog gifts and don't want to miss anything.