Here we are! Four days in to a brand new year. Welcome back!!! It feels good, I must say. With every year, I get more excited about January coming along. It’s really fun to have that holiday break and come back with new goals and exciting plans for the year ahead! And 2016, guys, is gonna be EPIC! I wanted to start this year off how I do every year, with a review of 2015 and a bit about what I have planned for 2016. This post is one of the few times a year where I write a lot about what happened behind the scenes both with the business and in my personal life. It was the most exciting but also one of the heaviest years, so be prepared! But I hope you enjoy this little look back starting with the top posts of 2015!
Top 12 Posts of 2015
(Unscientifically decided based on Google Analytics, Pinterest and Instagram, and randomly listed below.)
DIY Pun-kins | DIY Cereal Bowl Costume
DIY Lisa Frank Costume | DIY Pretzel Pillow
Tie Dye S’mores | Homemade Gummy Bears
Ultimate Guide to Donuts | DIY Popcorn Costume
DIY Emoji Easter Eggs | Palm Fronds + Bon Bons Party
DIY Graphic Tees | DIY Emoji Balloons
Click through for my thoughts on 2015 and goals for 2016, plus a bunch of random, un-related outtake shots!
(Our lemon shoot literally took a village! I love this outtake from it.)
And Just A Few More Things
I like to call 2015 “The Year of Growing Pains” as it applies both to the business and to me personally. 2015 was easily, without a doubt, the best year yet for Studio DIY. But success brings lots of challenges with it, as we grew quickly and furiously!
(I’m sure I’ll regret putting this on the Internet but I just can’t stop laughing at it!!!!)
In 2015 I hired three new employees and Jeff left his full-time job to pursue photography full-time, with one of his primary clients being Studio DIY. Having a team behind me has been the BEST thing I have ever done for Studio DIY. At the beginning of the year, I hired Samantha as a part-time operations assistant and after six months, I made the decision to bring her on as my first full-time employee. As a learn-as-you-go kind of business owner, hiring someone full-time is both terrifying and an epic learning curve of paperwork, payroll, taxes, the works. But it is all SO worth it to have someone else on your side 100% of the time and Samantha (hey, girl!) was easily the best thing to happen to Studio DIY in 2015.
(Samantha’s primary job lies on the admin side, but she occasionally stands in as costume tester! Ha!)
We also brought Annie, my very first employee, on in a larger roll, hired a recipe and baking MASTER, Theresa, and brought Alex on to contribute both amazing manicures and her styling talents on occasion. And we’re about ready to expand the team even more! (Stay tuned!) Jeff left his job in April and has since taken over shooting almost all content for Studio DIY (in addition to his other clients). Having Jeff available to shoot during the daytime has been amazing, however working so closely with your husband is TOUGH! It’s very hard to turn off our work brains and remember that we are, in fact, married. We’re working on it though, and hope to find a good balance that makes both of us, and those rings on our fingers, happy!
(The full team, minus Jeff!)
In 2015, I got to watch thousands of you use our costume tutorials for your Halloween adventures and I even got to design a costume for Miley Cyrus! I also got to design a pretty awesome confetti chair! I got to go on a media tour with Balloon Time in NYC, visit HSN’s headquarters in Florida, and cross one of my top bucket list items off by visiting Pixar Studios. I got to host a fun brunch with my friend Ashley, launch an online Instagram class with Jeff and start one of my favorite projects to date, the Studio DIY Wall Crawl! I also had the opportunity to start working with a behind-the-scenes team to help handle our growing blog partnerships. It has been life-changing and I am so proud of the partnerships we were able to accomplish together, including creating a lemon world, filling a car with balloons and adventuring around Disneyland, among SO many others! I am very proud and humbled to say that with all of these amazing people on our team, we were able to triple Studio DIY’s income this year which will now allow us to pursue some other very exciting ventures we have planned for 2016!
(A quick shot I sent to Miley’s wardrobe stylist to show our progress on the costume.)
(And the final side by side! It was so surreal when I started seeing the photos roll into her tour hashtag.)
(A lot of help goes into our costume making! That’s Theresa above gluing giant fruit loops to the cereal bowl.)
And did I mention Miley also wore it!? Not for every show since it wasn’t made to withstand that, but exciting nonetheless!
Before we jump into 2016 though, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my goals from last years post (Bolded below) and see how I did.
I’m really happy with how we began to diversify our content, adding in more fashion, beauty and travel. That said, I think there is HUGE room for improvement in this area, and I’m really excited to push myself to create new, unique, useful and exciting content in 2016.
(Hoda + Kathy Lee with our Fries Before Guys printables on air! One step closer to meeting my man Willie Geist! HAHA!)
Soon soon SOON we are launching our brand new site and it 100% accomplishes my goal of refining the brand and hopefully solves some of the site issues you all have expressed (accomplishing my listen better goal!) along the way. And while it doesn’t look like it to you guys, we spent all of 2015 making major strides towards making Studio DIY more than just a blog. THIS is hands down what I am most excited about and I can’t wait to share all that we have planned!
(Quick behind the scenes peek at our fiesta shoot with Mary + Balloon Time!)
I didn’t do a great job on my workshops and events goal (Though I did host a few!) but I do have some ideas for how to combine this goal with my giving back goal in 2016.
I think I did a great job of growing the team in 2015 and with Samantha’s help we instituted a pretty great system to keep us on and ahead of schedule. That said, there is always room for improvement on efficiency here and this is a goal that always tops my list.
(Samantha + I filling the cutest car of all time with balloons!)
I completely failed on my taking better care of myself goal, outside of continuing to wear lipstick and real clothes daily and towards the very end, start taking better care of my skin. See my 2016 goals for an update on this one!
Seeing family and friends still can use some more focus. And money for that matter. Travel costs A LOT! I was really happy that I got to visit Brittni in Atlanta, visit Lauren + Mike in DC and visit my brother and his family a few times in San Francisco (and meet my newest niece at just 12 days old!!!), but I’m still struggling with being able to spend more than just 24 hours with family and friends. Unfortunately, this is something that I will likely still struggle with in 2016.
(An army of fries ornaments ready to be sent out for our annual holiday greeting!)
One of my favorite things I did in 2015 was take a bollywood dance class! I had such a blast, but summer travels got in everyone’s way and we are no longer doing the class. In 2016, I hope to take up tap dancing again and I asked Jeff to promise that he’d buy me a keyboard if and when I’m finally pregnant so I can relearn that instrument.
(What the other side of one of our manicure shoots looks like!)
(This year, we had not one but two dogs around the studio!)
And speaking of pregnancy, this is perhaps the biggest “growing pain” I wanted to discuss in this post. As most of you know growing a family was Jeff and my number one goal for 2015. More specifically, our goal was for me to be pregnant by the end of the year. Well, I have mixed emotions in reporting that we did accomplish this goal, though not in the way we had hoped. And I thought I would share a bit about our journey so far since after seeing how many of you have kindly sent your well wishes to us and asked how our baby quest was going. And also, because it was a huge, and hard, part of my year.
As many of you also know, getting pregnant is not an easy feat with my past medical history and resulting very low weight. We’ve needed to work with fertility specialists in order to help us along the way. I began with a round of hormone treatments which resulted in absolutely nada. Not just that I wasn’t pregnant, but that my body didn’t really show any signs of response. At all. Or so we thought.
They put me on estrogen and set us up to check back in one month later, with the plan being to move to hormone shots once my body started responding. You see, since I don’t have a stomach, nobody knows how well my body absorbs drugs, so we thought that would be the best next step. But when we showed up for that appointment on September 22nd, we found out that I was…. pregnant? Yep. Pregnant! Me! I’m not sure who was more shocked, me, Jeff or the doctor. Ha! I just remember the doctor looking at the screen and going “huh” and Jeff going “Umm what does that mean?” To this day, none of us can figure out how that happened. LOL! But it did. Unfortunately, though, he quickly warned us that it didn’t look like a viable pregnancy. That for how far along it appeared I was, he should be seeing or hearing something. But he wasn’t.
So for one week, they pumped my body up with progesterone hoping that by some miracle, I’d stay pregnant. And that was a weird week. A week where I got to answer “yes!” to the pharmacist’s “Are you by any chance pregnant?” question. But a week where you tell yourself not to get attached, but you still do. You tell yourself that there’s almost no chance that this ends positively, but you simultaneously start thinking about due dates and how you’ll tell your family.
Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, it was not a viable pregnancy and on October 2nd, I had a miscarriage. To say I wasn’t prepared is an understatement. I had a few rough days and a few more troubling weeks but I am thankful that unlike so many others who miscarry, we barely even knew we were pregnant before we found out we lost it. We didn’t have that much time to get attached. It was kind of like losing something we never really had. And the silver lining in all of it, that Jeff has to consistently remind me of, is that I can, in fact, get pregnant!!! Something we really didn’t know or think was possible. And that is the best news we could ask for.
(For perspective, this photo was taken the day we found out the pregnancy wasn’t viable. I have to say, all of your enthusiasm about and photos of your costumes during that time really helped me get through what was a very emotional few weeks. And I can’t thank all of you enough for that!)
It took several months for my body to heal but we were just able to start up treatments again and we are feeling very hopeful and thankful to have a fresh start in 2016! And I’m trying my darndest to keep putting on weight to get my body functioning more normally, too. But if there is anything 2015 taught me, it is patience. Or rather, that I need to work on my patience. Everything in this process takes so much time.
“See you back here in a month.” “Your levels are still high, come back in a week.” I work in an industry, and am of an age, where someone is announcing their pregnancy or giving birth almost daily. Where every holiday, my feed is flooded with family photos and captions of “there is nothing better than celebrating X holiday with children” and it is hard. And it feels selfish to say that, but it’s the truth. I’m a control freak and an impatient one at that, and this waiting game is one of the greatest challenges that I have ever faced. But I know that the fact that I did and can get pregnant is so much more than so many others struggling to have a baby can say, and that our journey thus far is nothing compared to some. Which is precisely why I hesitate to use the word “infertility” in relation to our journey. I know that the wait is so worth it and I am grateful for the glimmers of hope we have and the strides we have made. That said though, we will happily take any baby vibes you want to send our way. And I’m sending them right back out to all of you who might be struggling with growing your family too! 😉
(Do it for the shot! Ha, I’m always holding things up in the air. You’d think I’d have muscles by now but nope.)
So What’s 2016 Going to Look Like?
And with that, I think it’s time I stop looking at the past and switch over to the future! Below, I’ve listed my 10 goals for 2016, both personal and professional.
1. Grow Our Family: The goal is to get knocked up, you guys! However, Jeff and I are very excited by and open to the idea of adoption as well so I’m going to write this here so we can gain perspective should we need it. If 2016 is not our baby year, we hope and plan to begin the adoption process in 2017.
2. Push Myself + My Content: When I first began honing in on Studio DIY’s style back in 2012, wacky and colorful was not the norm. Everything was minimal and neutrals. In 2015 however, this colorful, bold, wacky, quirky, larger-than-life aesthetic had a HUGE moment and became quite the popular style. It was actually really exciting for me to start seeing store after store offering products that fit what I liked and to see more and more followers follow along with my colorful ride. It also, however, has made it increasingly hard to ensure that my voice still sounds unique, and not just like I jumped on a bandwagon and rode it all the way home. Food holidays became the norm, emojis showed up on everything and rainbow was the new gray. And on occasion, I felt like my voice just became another number. But in 2016 I’m excited to take on this challenge head on and push myself even further to make sure that I capitalize on this exciting time where color and craziness is being so embraced, by putting out the most original damn content on the planet!
3. Take Better Care of Myself: This is carrying over from 2015, with the focus this year being on flossing every day, seeing a dermatologist and starting to put more effort into doing my hair. I always love how it looks when we work with our hairstylists, and it’s time I start doing more than just running a brush through it.
4. Read: Outside of reading on vacation, I haven’t read a book while home in I can’t tell you how many years. I have a long list of books I want to read and am hoping to start reading before bed most nights. This is a really lofty goal for me, but I really want to work at it.
5. Be Patient: This includes while behind the wheel, in my marriage, on our fertility journey and everything between.
6. Take A Dance Class: After seeing how much I loved the Bollywood classes last year, I want to take another class this year. Hopefully tap!
7. Make Studio DIY More Than A Blog: I’m excited to say that this THIS! is the year where I get to grow Studio DIY to be more than a blog. While some of these ways are still uncertain, there’s at least one that we’ll be debuting very soon. Eeeee!
8. Become a Better Decision Maker: I hate making decisions. Did you know that? Did you know how hard it is to have that quality and be a business owner? Funny thing is, I usually have a good idea of the decision I Want to make, but still feel I need to ask everyone else’s opinion first. While there’s always a place for getting others opinions, it’s my goal this year to be more confident in my instincts and make quicker decisions on my own.
9. Share more of YOUR photos!: Soon, we’ll be starting a new hashtag and opening up one of our existing ones to encourage you guys to share with us what Studio DIY-centric things you’re up to! And I’m excited to share more of your photos on our @studiodiy Instagram account as a result. Growing and fostering this fun and positive community is top priority!
10. Stop Hoarding + Clean House: I’ve always been a hoarder. I keep EVERYTHING! But after reading this book (On vacation, see #4. Ha!), I really gained some perspective on the magic (yep) or cleaning house. I’ve started purging and tidying, but still have a long way to go. My goal is to continue donating and trashing things, and be mindful of every single thing we bring into the house this year. Ain’t nobody got room for crap!
And there you have it! In 2016 you’ll see a new site and a few other new big things coming from us, plus a whole lot of new great content! Next week, I’ll be doing my annual reader survey so you can share your thoughts on what you’d really like to see. But until then, I just wanted to say one more thank you for being here, and for making it through this epic, epic post!
What are your goals for 2016? I’d love to hear them! I love you guys!