How our blog started, and where it’s going.

June 6, 2018

 

I realized most of you haven’t been with us since the beginning. Back when I started I believe only my family and a handful of friends read my blog. I was talking with my sister this week about way back when Gabriel was a toddler, and I set up a domain called inhonorofdesign.com. It was never intended to become what it is today, so I thought I should share a summary of the side businesses and jobs that lead us here. I hope it will shed some light on how we made this our family business, and also encourage some of you fighting hard to get something off the ground. Your dreams are worth speaking out loud. They are worth fighting for, even if it does or doesn’t become what you want it to be. Every door open can be a grounds for coming to the place you are meant to stand. So here we go…


 
(These were some of the original logos I designed for the blog for a re-brand a few years in. Anyone remember these?!)
 
A blogspot address – When I was a new mom, Gabe was a teacher, and I was a freelance graphic designer. He was working long hours and weekends grading papers, and I was working nap times and after hours to make ends meet and pay off student loans. I continually had creative ideas and dreams about shops, and freelance design gave me a taste of what it was like to run your own business and set your own hours. The days were long (and somewhat lonely), and I decided to dabble in more what I loved in order to just keep my head up.This was before instagram came to the scene, and blogs were just coming to a rise. So I opened up a good old blogspot address, and started a little blog called In Honor of Design. (More behind the name in a second.) I started blogging a few times a week. It was a means for practicing graphic design skills and other creative skills I loved, and I really enjoyed the community that came with it. I loved following along different design blogs such as Oh Joy!, Design Sponge, and Making it Lovely. My thought on blogging at the time was to just have an outlet for creativity as well as share some of the shop side of what I was doing for accessories. Which brings me to the accessory shop…
 
(From top to bottom: Bridal wear styled by Moni Rose, M Loves M, The Daybook Blog, Megan Graham)
 
An accessory shop – Almost synonymously with my blog, I started creating accessories. I loved dreaming up things for both women and little girls to wear, and trying to create them with my own hands. I made everything from statement necklaces to headbands to bridal accessories. I put them up in an etsy shop. (Above are some of the original pieces.) I remember using my small canon powershot to style and take the images, and I started a facebook page to share the designs. I named my accessory shop In Honor of Design in order to name certain accessories after different people.I knew the blog should have the same name as the shop. So the name actually came to be as a result of my old accessory business! I had headbands named after my sisters for instance. “In Honor of…” was a great lead into the name of the products. Now I am stuck with the name for life! ha! (For the record, there has definitely been days I contemplated re-naming our blog.) I sent some of the products to some blog friends who styled and shared them which was a really helpful way to get my shop to different audiences. It was the first marketing experience I had, and it launched a very busy shop season. Those girls helped me sell necklaces like hotcakes! I really loved the process of it all. I just didn’t realize how much time the creating, shipping, and photography would take. I knew that in the long haul if I was really going to profit I would need to hire help. It wasn’t a passion of mine necessarily, but I proved to myself that hard work and determination can put something into flight mode. In the meantime, the blog and freelance business was growing, and I decided to make the choice to let go of the shop. I took those tools I learned through the shop, and applied them to the next adventure.

Graphic design freelance life – Making an income from the blog wasn’t something I really thought was possible. Heck, I thought a free product in exchange for a post was a pretty sweet deal. I was hustling in other ways though. I was coding blog designs, designing logos, magazine layouts, and other print materials. Up to this point in my job, I was so used to juggling 2-3 jobs that I truly didn’t know what a balanced life looked like anymore. At this point, I had Veronica and Max, and I just couldn’t swing the stress of the design deadlines. After several years as a freelance designer I hung up my hat. (That wasn’t without another plan though.)
 

 

 

 

The Brand Market workshops – As the blog scene was expanding, and brands were beginning to catch on how effective it was to partner with bloggers, I made some big break throughs. I landed a few partnerships with companies I only dreamed about working with. Martha Stewart, Anthropologie, Free People…they were unpaid partnerships, but it helped in both daily traffic to the blog, and partnership experience. I continued to research, experiment, and invest in In Honor of Design blog. It was growing, so I knew the door was open for a reason. I started receiving emails from people hoping to grow their blog and brand, and I loved being able to share what I had learned along the way. It got me thinking about how I could share this information that I had learned on brand development from my design experience, as well as photography and styling, partnerships, and social media experience from blogging. I wanted to bring together larger groups to dive into these topics for an entire day to help them take their businesses to the next level. That is when The Brand Market was born. For two years I traveled around the U.S. hosting workshops to help men and women develop their creative businesses in an intensive one day workshop. I would get speakers and co-hosts to join me. It was such a fun and rewarding job, and Gabe was incredibly supportive throughout it all. Every workshop sold out to my complete shock, and I met so many incredible people in different cities who were chasing the American dream. When I found out I was pregnant with Rocco, the demand of keeping up with a blog and organizing workshops caught up with me. Once again, it was time to hang up my hat.
 

 


(One of our first completed projects last year as team IHOD;))

 
Full time blogging – Often times we can be fighting for good things, but they still take so much of our energy away from the right things. My goal has always been to just to do creative work (which makes me come alive!) that also allowed me to be with my family more. In Honor of Design blog started to make a profit around the time The Brand Market began, and I loved many of the partnerships we chose to take on. Granted, there were definitely some regrets! It was new territory, and it definitely took some trial and error to figure out what was worth my time. I didn’t really understand the value of my work, and would price my partnerships pretty low. I was just so grateful that companies wanted to work with IHOD. (I still feel this way!) Gabe continued his work in school administration, and would come home and help juggle kids and dinner in order for me to keep the blog going. He has always my biggest cheerleader. When people would ask how I was juggling it all, the answer has and always will be because Gabe is doing 50% or more of the work behind the scenes.

When partnerships became a steady part of the blog, I saw that there was potential to make it my full time job. So while I was also running workshops, I was busting my tail to create content for IHOD. Right before I had Rocco, and right before my last Brand Market workshop, another door opened. A blog agency, DBA, wanted to sign on In Honor of Design. I gladly handed over the responsibilities of contracts and rate negotiations, and welcomed their wisdom and expertise. They allowed me to narrow down the amount of partnerships I was taking on and really make the right ones count. This was a move that ended up setting us up for blogging as a full time family business.

Gabe was the one who originally suggested it since he was coming to a fork in the road with his career. Here is the post about how we made that decision about going into blogging together full time. This choice was a tough one, but it has opened up so many opportunities to spend time with our children and explore our different creative ideas. Gabe now does the home design projects we blog about, is working on a side project, schools the kids three days a week, often makes dinner, and still does much of the photography behind this blog as he did from day one. He is basically the glue that holds the ship together. So when people ask how I do it all, I just point to Gabe. We feel really grateful to have this time in our lives to work together. It feels like the great reward of many long hours of hard work, unpaid jobs, and closed doors.

Moving forward – Whew! Creating this post and looking back, I cannot wrap my mind around the many hours I have dedicated to this space. I have written hundreds and hundreds of posts. As an introvert, this is a testament of how much I have pushed myself outside my comfort zone to do something I knew in my gut was right. My family and I have changed so much since the day I started, and I continue to be thankful for the readers who visit here each week.  I know the day will come when we need to close this door too, but for now we are sticking around because there is still so many ideas bursting out of my brain that we want to share with you! It wouldn’t be right to end this paragraph without this….another venture coming soon! (Because we can’t seem to ever simmer down and take a chill pill for more than a year.) We are going to notify our friends on the weekly email list first, so feel free to pop in your email below!

Did you make it to the end? Summary of the story: I started as many businesses as I have had babies, and I love you all for sticking around through it.

 

Leave a Comment

  • Talk about timing. I’m on the major career struggle bus and this post was a great way to clear my head for a moment.

    I love following your blog and am glad you’re not closing up shop. Can’t wait to see what’s next, perhaps a project in Detroit 😉

    • I hope you figure it all out Carrie! It can be hard to know what’s right sometimes. There were definitely days I didn’t know what would happen next or what was the best decision. Trust your gut!

  • It’s been a joy following along! Thanks for sharing your adventures. I look forward to what the future brings 🙂

  • Rachel Magree

    I’ve loved watching it all, Anna!

  • I first found your blog when reading CCL’s Family Foundations magazine a few months ago. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog! Keep up the good work!

  • Anna, I feel so blessed to have watched your growth from the beginning! Your honesty and sincerity are so refreshing in this sometimes fictitious social media world. You and Gabe are just awesome and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next! I loved reading about your journey and all those leaps of faith!

  • Crystal

    I think it’s great you and Gabe have figured a way to support your family’s needs(physical and spiritual). I don’t know if it’s because I am older but I don’t know how y’all do it! I assume you get private healthcare and make a very good income through your blog to support your family. You have great taste and that comes with a price tag(clothing brands, furniture, and organic products). You also have a great eye- I enjoy reading your blog. I think y’all are one of the rare success stories. God sure does provide but this really is an American dream success story.

    • Thank you Crystal! We have been lucky to work with a lot of brands for our home, but I am definitely still the girl browsing craigslist and facebook marketplace for deals – ha! We will have to do a post soon on health care options since we had to research that a ton!

  • Mind I Jimenez

    I’ve been following since you were in blogspot with Gabriel and Little Ms. V! I remember your Etsy shop and as I was reading this post I was like “yeah I remember”. You blog is such an inspiration and brings me so much joy to read. I see a friend in you and appreciate all that you have shared throughout the years. God has blessed you with the wisdom, courage, a wonderful husband and beautiful children and because your wishes come from the purity of your heart our Lord provides. May God Bless you always and please keep me posted on your new endeavors. With much love, Monsi Jimenez, Laredo,TX

    • Mindi, hearing from our original readers is so uplifting to us! Thank you for taking the time to write such a kind comment, and being here to support us every step of the way. It keeps us going! We are so grateful to God for leading us and giving us continued strength to do this work.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story, such a refreshing read. I have been a designer maker for a number of years, but scaled down in the past year and took on a paid job to figure out what to do next. Working for somebody else just made me realise I need to work for myself AND pursue creative work, so am embarking on setting up my own craft blog using my existing brand name! Was torn whether I should choose a new brand name but love my current one and reading your post just confirmed it is doable! Thank you!

  • i am new to your blog and i really enjoyed reading this back story.

  • This is such an interesting story! Thanks for laying out the big events so we can all see how it happened.

  • You are an inspiration! Thank you for being such a beautiful example to us all. xo

  • You are an inspiration! Thank you for being an example to us all. xo

  • What a wonderful recap of where you’ve been! I can recall a lot of the earlier blogger days you had, although I may not have been as active then. I fondly remember the Brand Market and how I would wistfully think about having the opportunity to join it (at the time I was interested in starting my own blog, but maybe that’ll be a later someday). And I love, love, love how you’ve shared the struggles and time commitments, too. Many people still have that notion that success is easy, but in reality it’s a lot of hard work.

    I’ve really enjoyed all of your transitions and am so excited that you and Gabe have teamed up to do it full time. I will continue to enjoy your blog (one of the few I actually follow now) until you decide to close those proverbial doors!

    • Thank you Nicole! You have always been such a kind support here and I greatly appreciate that. Looking forward to what is to come! x

  • Thank you for sharing this! I loved hearing how you guys got here 🙂

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