Hellooooooo!! Writing this post is extra special because I got to meet so many of you at Surtex this time around! Honestly, I had no idea so many of you have been following along on my little art journey. I work in a bubble, as many of us do, and my main connection to other designers is through the internet. So was so nice to meet so many of you in real life. Surtex this year was amazing! I was so happy with how everything went and all the amazing folks I met — both clients, artists and new friends. And let me tell you, It was so much easier the second time around! I was far more relaxed about the whole thing, and while I had my momentary freak-outs and bouts of nausea, overall I was able to take things as they came this year and trust that I’d done as much as I could do. Here are some of my post-show thoughts on the second time around.
The Surtex Cheerleading Squad
I really want to thank you guys for stopping by and being so ridiculously sweet! It felt so special to have people come up to me and say that I’d had some effect on their journey, or that my work had inspired them in some way, or had given them a push to get moving and follow their dreams (*wipes tears*). All business things aside, I came home with a full, full heart, and I thank you all so much for that. Surtex can be scary. You’re putting it all out there, and you can’t help but have your moments of doubt and feel overwhelmed. The week before Surtex I was convinced it was going to be a flop! All of your hugs and words of support and good energy really relaxed me and gave me that extra boost. It was surreal and amazing and just… wow.
Second time around
Leading up to my first Surtex, I heard from many people that manufacturers wouldn’t give you a shot the first time around. They wanted to see you year after year to see if you’re serious about it. Last year I thought things went really well and felt that people were totally open but I did feel vulnerable and hopeful and all ‘please please please work with me’. This year, going in with a bit more experience and some clients under my belt, I felt it made a difference. Clients did seem happy to hear it was my second time exhibiting. The playing field was a little more even, and I felt like the vibe was all about a mutual collaboration. I’m really happy about the companies I met and can’t wait to see what happens this year. I also felt that people this year were willing to meet me in the middle when it comes to licensing — last year it seemed like everyone was looking to buy outright. Could just be coincidence, but I’ll take it.
It’s okay if you’re not for everyone
Surtex draws people from all sorts of companies, and honestly, most of them are not going to be looking for the type of work you do. For me, I would guesstimate that less than 10% of the people attending Surtex would be looking for the *type* of work I do, and an even smaller proportioned would like my work. (I could have skipped the part where one particular guy walked by and snarkily said loud enough to hear “oh, everyone is doing that” (whatever “that” means). But what I figured out this time around was that that’s okay — because there were also people that would walk up with eyes full of wonder (so touching)! The thing is, I don’t want to work with companies that don’t get me. I don’t want to have to stretch so far out of my comfort zone that I’m not myself anymore. I’m looking for great, solid, reciprocal partnerships that I can feel good about and get behind and want to share with the world. My holiday patterns will not punch you in the face with red-and-green festive Santa spirit, because that’s just not me. Plus, there are other people out there that are really good at it. I’ve come to realize what people respond to most with my work, and it’s the stuff that I feel best about too. At the end of the day, I’m a lofty artist chasing her dreams and dream clients, and I’ve gotta to stay true to myself. That whole ‘integrity’ thing. (Side note: I did get a lot of holiday requests though… I had some, but I fully admit that I should do more… in my style!)
He’s Just Not That Into You
Did you ever read that book? Sadly, I did. It would have said that if someone doesn’t write you back, they’re just not that into you. But the licensing world doesn’t work that way. Last year, I followed up with my contacts after Surtex and a few times after that… but honestly, I got very few replies. Just like when you submit artwork and never hear anything back, it can be discouraging. Am I annoying these people? Do they even want to get these emails? Should I stop? This year, it was encouraging to have people stop by and say they’d gotten the emails and liked my work — even if they never replied to me, it helped me understand that they see this stuff, they’re just busy. It’s so hard to be patient but people who walk the show aren’t *necessarily* looking for artwork at that exact moment in time but they will be a few months (or a year! or two!) down the road. So if you don’t hear back right away, it doesn’t mean they’re not into you.
Social media – it works!
I always figure that the more avenues I have to get in front of people, the better. And this proved to be beneficial this year. I met people who’d seen my video, my feature in Uppercase, listened in on my webinar, saw my Look Book, followed on Facebook or Instagram, or saw my work on Pinterest… Creating lots of pathways equals exposure, equals opportunities!
Art Crush Central
I was so happy that I got to meet sooooo many amazing people and some of my biggest art crushes too! Highlights were meeting Grace Bonney from Design Sponge (if I were to include exclamation marks, you would never get to the end of this post), Lisa Congdon, Ashley Goldberg, Helen Dardik, Carolyn Gavin, Flora Waycott, Sarah Watson, the girls from Dotty Wren and Forest Foundry, Victoria Johnson, Ana Victoria Calderon, Ana Davis, Jennifer Paganelli… I could go on!
An Annual Business Meeting
I also got the chance to meet with some of my favourite clients outside of the show — an all-too-rare occurrence. I’ve come to look at Surtex as a sort of ‘annual business meeting’ where I actually get to see my clients face to face. It’s invaluable to have that human connection. You get such a better understanding of what’s happening in their world (and your part in it) when you can sit, have a glass of wine, and have a good old fashioned chit chat. I’m so lucky to have such awesome clients… some of which I can’t tell you about quite yet, but I’ll be able to soon! I’m terrible at keeping secrets!
A gigantic thank you
First, a big shout out to the amazing and incredibly sweet and helpful Anna London. Anna and I met online and she’d been wondering about exhibiting at Surtex, and we worked it out so she would come help with setting up my booth and could walk the show and get the experience first hand. Anna was amazing! And so easy-going and crazy helpful and was such a generous trooper. Her help was invaluable and she put up with me and my scatterbrained direction and met it all with a smile. Thank you, Anna!!!!
And finally… to my amazing friend Sam, who you would have met if you stopped by my booth. This is her 2nd time helping me at Surtex and she is such an incredible, supportive, generous sidekick. You know you’ve got a true friend when she will give up a week of her busy life running her own Interior Design business to come and be by your side and help in any way she can. To be genuinely HAPPY for you when good things happen and share in your excitement, to be a cheerleader and believer. Whole-hearted supporter. Endlessly patient. Expert note-taker (my own personal Joan Hollaway). Amazing friend. Sammy, I cannot thank you enough!!!!!!! I hope we are all so lucky to have the kind of people in our lives that will do that for us. (*wipes more tears*)
I can’t believe it’s over for another year! But hopefully this life-consuming event will lead to more fabulous opportunities this year — so far, so good. My follow-ups are taken care of and I’m going to try and sneak in a much-needed staycation now that the sun has arrived and do all the things I couldn’t get to for the months before Surtex. And enjoy the feeling of relaxation until it’s time to do it all over again.
Thanks for reading!!! I’ll leave you with some pics from my booth, which felt just like home.
My booth! I got a corner booth this time and loved it.
And it was soooo awesome having real life products this year!! And it really did help when meeting with clients. It seemed easy for them to envision products with my patterns having seen real life examples and seeing that I’ve worked with other companies already.
Surtex is just around the corner — it’s only 16 days away, which is the blink of an eye when there’s much to be done. Last year, for my debut at Surtex, I did an online Look Book that got such an amazing response from people, that I simply had to do it again. It may seem as though I’ve gone look book crazy (I recently did one for my Grey Abbey fabric line with Cloud9) but hey, they just make sense! So, without further ado… my Surtex 2014 Look Book! Fake it till you make it, right?
So Surtex is just about 2 weeks away. I have butterflies just writing this — so exciting, so scary! I think back to last year when I was exhibiting for the first time and have to say that I’m a million times more chilled out about everything this year… once you have the experience, you know what to expect and it’s a lot less scary. So, I thought I would share a few last minute tips for new exhibitors! Things that would have comforted me last year had I known, things that could come in handy, and a little reassurance. For the record, I am by no means a pro at this, like the fabulous Surtex guru Tara Reed, who is responsible for holding my hand last year via her super-informative Surtex e-books — but I think the first time is the hardest time, and seeing that it still feels quite fresh, I thought this might help someone out there.
Print your forms!
Okay, this is important — make sure you bring documentation of everything related to the show (or if you have access to it on a mobile device, that’s fine too). Everything is probably going to go smoothly, but you just never know when something pops in and tries to mess with your flow, and you just want to make sure you’re prepared. The show is run by GLM/Surtex, but the facilities are outsourced to the Javits — so there is a little room for error. Example: last year, I ordered a tall table (vs. the shorter table) for my booth, but when I arrived there was a short table at my booth. I thought, no problem — I’ll just go find someone to replace it. But the Javits staff, while friendly, said their instructions showed I should have a short table. They said that they would swap it out for me, but that if I didn’t have a record showing I’d booked the tall table, I would be charged a labour fee which was something crazy, like $300 or something. A bunch of people ran into this situation and LUCKILY, I had printed the confirmation and hopefully everyone else had too. Basically what I’m saying is, it never hurts to cover your arse. If you ordered shelves or special furniture — bring the confirmation, and the placement form for where you’d asked for things to be installed. Your registration badge confirmation — bring it. Basically any confirmations you received — bring it with you!
3M is your friend
So many Surtex exhibitors *swear* by 3M command strips, and I am one of them. They are incredible. I used 5 small command strips per banner and they weren’t going anywhere. Plus, they’re easy to pull off at the end and leave no markings — something to keep in mind, because you are responsible for leaving the booth walls in the same condition as when you started.
Bring cleaning supplies!
You’ve probably already thought about this, but it’s a must! Last year I ordered shelves for my booth and they were in fine condition, but they were *filthy*. But they cleaned up just fine with some of those cleaning wipe thingies.
Last year I read that you couldn’t stand on the chairs to hang banners, as a safety concern. And a legit one at that. But coming from Canada on a plane, I was wondering how the heck I was going to manage bringing a stool or ladder with me — I am short, so a small foot stool wasn’t going to cut it for me. In the end, I left it at home and it all worked out just fine. Those chairs are sturdy… but please don’t quote me on this.
This was another great tip from Tara Reed. If you’re at your booth and starving, you don’t want to be pulling out a big dish of spaghetti from under your booth to sneak a bite when nobody is looking. I had a few friends helping me last year, letting me go for lunch breaks and things, which was extremely helpful so I didn’t really have to eat food at my booth. But sometimes after 5 hours of standing there, you’re going to need to shove something in your mouth. I had some easy-to-eat snacks under my table, like nuts, dried fruit, crackers, grapes, small easy-to-eat things. It’s like on Top Chef when they have to cater a gala and are told to prepare an amuse-bouche. If you must eat at your booth, you don’t want to be caught eating awkward food.
Be prepared with your terms
Try to go into the show with your terms figured out — do you sell artwork or only license? Are you willing to do flat-rate licensing agreements or are you strictly about royalties? What are you willing to budge on for the right client? Last year, I had a ton of people ask if I sold my artwork outright and I was so new to the game that I wanted to make everyone happy and just didn’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone. I still don’t, and I will always try and make it work if it’s someone that I want to work with — but if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. If you aren’t particularly interested in the product category or don’t see that working with a company will bring value to your business, don’t back down and sell artwork. You’ve gotta look out for yourself. Don’t compromise if you’re not going to be happy with the deal. Try and go in with a clear vision of what you’d like to do and do you best to stick to it. It’s good to think about this before the show so you’re not caught off guard!
Be right back
This might be obvious, but just in case you didn’t think of it (there are a million other things to think about). If you have to leave your booth to run to the washroom, and you don’t have anyone there helping you, at least leave a sign saying you’ll be back in 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose out on that dream client who stopped by at an inopportune time. I swear, last year, every time I left my booth some awesome client would stop by and I’d curse the timing of it all… so it can happen.
I haven’t heard much about this but I think they do it every year — last year they had a happy hour thing after the show on Monday. Free drinks and the chance to chat with some other exhibitors. Also, there are usually some social events for Surtex exhibitors so keep your ears open in case there are. Last year I missed it but Monica Lee had hosted an event and lots of exhibitors went. A nice way to actually be able to chat with people — not so easy during show hours.
You made it! You really made it!
It was such a surreal experience walking into the Javits centre with all my booth supplies last year, trying to find the booth that I would call home for 3 days and had the opportunity to be a game-changer. Be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge, for getting there, for all of your super hard work. And enjoy it, savour every second. Greet every person that walks by with a welcoming smile. And remember to keep your chin up — there will be some slow periods, and your work won’t be the best fit for every client that walks by, but keep your eye on the prize and focus on the good connections you’ve made. And the new friends you’ve made. And the fact that you made it to NYC and competed in an international marketplace for something that you’re passionate about!
And then breathe…
I relied on adrenaline to keep me going through the show and keeping my energy levels up. Last year, I felt very much alive and excited about everything until 5pm on the last day, when the show officially closed, and I literally just dropped behind my booth and burst into tears. This might sound crazy, but it was just the whole experience coming to a close — a mix of joy and exhaustion. I was so happy, but I also felt my body breaking down and giving in. Give yourself a nice relaxing evening, a low key and healthy dinner, a good dose of vitamin C, and a good night’s rest. And hopefully you have some time to enjoy the city before you ship out.
Best of luck at the show everyone! Looking forward to meeting you all, so soon!!
(I’m at booth 741!)
*****I got a few emails with other questions today so I thought I’d add them to the mix! *****
I didn’t get electrical for my booth. I used an iPad to present my portfolio, and as long as I charged up the batteries before I left for the show in the morning, mine lasted all day long with no issue. Tara Reed mentioned that if you run out, you can use the exhibitor centre upstairs to grab some power if needed. But again, I didn’t need it! But on the same topic… Last year I needed to iron some things, and had posted on the Surtex Linkedin group to see if there would be outlets. I was assured there would be some for us to use, but when I got there, the power source mentioned wasn’t there. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find power and was told by the Javits staff that we weren’t supposed to use it. We ended up sneaking around to make it happen, but this year, just to be safe, I’m just going to iron everything at the hotel!
Ahhhh, the eternal issue of flameproofing! I don’t think anyone is clear on this! But this is what I was told last year when I asked, and it’s the same explanation this year. Basically, if you have fabric in your booth and it has your artwork on it — then you’re all set. No need to flameproof. BUT if you have linens in your booth that don’t have artwork on them, those should be flameproofed. Honestly, the rationale doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me — fire doesn’t exactly discriminate — but I suppose it would be tricky for people to only show products that were flameproofed so they’ve made concessions. If in doubt, there are apparently special flame-proofing ‘dips’ you can use to dip your fabrics in and it flameproofs them but I didn’t have luck tracking them down. But if the fabric has your artwork on it, you’re good to go.
Hey guys! I’ve been having a ton of fun with my new fabrics with Cloud9 — so much that I thought we should put together a little look book to show you, and hopefully inspire you to get sewing yourselves half as much as it inspired me.
I grew up sewing… My mum always used to sew clothes for us when my sister and I were kids and they always felt so special. She had tons of old sewing patterns that she’d kept from the 60s and 70s — I’ve always loved things from those years. Patterns for groovy baby doll dresses and bellbottoms, butterfly-collared tennis dresses, fun little mini skirts… I mean, I would wear all of those clothes even now. And so when I was about 12, I started sewing myself, and was sewing well into my 20s. I even had my own sewing business in my University dorm. My “clients” ranged from 19-year old guys who didn’t know how to sew a button on, to girls who spent their loan money on expensive jeans and needed them hemmed, to my favourite client who was a raver guy and wanted to make a statement in the club scene. I sewed him a pair of gigantic orange fun fur pants, and another pair of silver vinyl pants with yellow racing stripes. I have no idea how he could dance in them, fun fur and vinyl aren’t exactly breathable fabrics, but hey, that was none of my business. As life got busier and jobs took over my spare time, sewing took a back seat. But I’ve always known I’d go back to it. And what better motivator than to be able to sew with my own fabrics?
So, I’m happy to share with you my Grey Abbey Look Book. I had so much fun sewing! I’d like to give a shout out to the other awesome people that helped me put this together! First, Cloud9 Fabrics, who designed the super sweet tech cover, and the amazing quilt!! Next, a lovely sewist named Anne-Rose, who is an 80-year old Austrian lady that my mum introduced me to, who sewed all of the ladies dresses that I’m wearing (can’t wait to show them off at Surtex!). And a big thank you to my amazing and talented friend Nicole Winer, who sewed up some darling dresses for her adorable daughter Frankie. Nicole is one of the most talented people that I know. She is a knitwear designer and all around crafty lady, and she never ceases to amaze me. So, a big giant thank you to them!
Take a look at the full look book, and I also included the pictures below it in case you wanted to Pin them to your sewing boards! Thanks for reading!
Oh my goodness, things really start to feel real and you understand just how close Surtex is when it’s less than a month away. In less than 4 weeks, one of my very best friends and incredible sidekick Sam and I will be getting on a plane for NYC! So excited, but can’t help but wish I could press the ‘rewind’ button so I could whip up the millions of patterns I have ideas for, but there will never be enough time so at some point, you have to make the call and get on that plane and put up your work for everyone to see. I’m super excited!!
I’ve moved booths this year but will be in the same aisle — booth 741. If you’re going, please stop by and say hello! Here’s a little sampling of what I’ll be showing (plus a link to my promo video if you haven’t seen it)! Hope you all have a great week.
Spring hasn’t quite sprung in my neck of the woods, but there are always flowers blooming in my little world! Enter to win a little slice of early spring with this Spring prize pack!
Winner will receive all that is shown in the image above: a fat quarter bundle of my newly released collection of organic cotton fabrics, Grey Abbey from Cloud9 Fabrics, and an assortment of new pretty-patterned products with Madison Park Greetings, including and iPhone 5/5s cover, Mixed Bag Mini Set, a box of Thank You cards, Washi Tape (set of 3) and iPops magnets!
A bit about Cloud9 Fabrics and Grey Abbey:
Cloud 9 was at the top of my fabric dream list and I’m so thrilled that I’ve been able to work with them, and what a wonderful experience it is. Their fabrics are gorgeous, with collections from incredible artists like Lisa Congdon, Rae Hoekstra, Eloise Renouf, Skinny Laminx, Leslie Shewring, Sarah Watson, Monica Solorio-Snow… the list goes on. But to summarize — dream team! The fabrics are 100% certified organic cotton, with some heavy weight They also do some voiles which I’m not-so-secretly hoping I’ll get to see my prints on. Grey Abbey is my first collection with them and there is another collection due out in the fall! See my full post on the collection here.
A bit about Madison Park Greetings:
Madison Park Greetings is a Seattle-based stationery and gift company who works with many nationally recognized artists, like Katie Daisy, Susan Black and Jen Renninger and Helen Dardik, and they’ve won tons of awards for their greeting cards, gift wraps, stationery and invitations, and are constantly adding new gift items to their offerings (stay tuned for some of more of my new products with them, coming soon). Check out my blog post on our items so far!
HERE’S HOW TO ENTER:
Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below — as instructed, you can LIKE on Facebook, TWEET about the contest, or follow us on Instagram. Fulfill as many options as you like via the Rafflecopter widget for bonus entries! Winners will be picked randomly. Contest closes on April 16th at 12.01am. Good luck!
***The contest is now over — CONGRATULATIONS to Jen Mishmash! A big giant THANK YOU to all of you that entered! ***
A little while ago I did a post announcing some of my new products with Madison Park Greetings, showcasing a few of their beautiful photos. But that was before I’d seen anything in person, and when I got my product samples, it was like Christmas! Licensing is a funny world… you work so hard on products for so long, and then… you wait. And wait. Because production takes a long time, it’s just the way it works. After a while, it feels so abstract. You wait for months and months and by the time you start to wonder if it was all just a dream, a big box of goodies arrives on your doorstep and you want to jump for joy!
Working with Madison Park Greetings was another one of the big highlights of my 2013, and continues to be in 2014, with more yummy products in development. They’re lovely, lovely people and I feel lucky to get to collaborate with so many people that just let me do my thing, support me through it and offer me only the best of feedback (which is extra helpful when you work in a bubble by yourself all day). And — they let me use GOLD FOILS!!! DREAM! I hope you can see how natural it was to work with them when you see these products. I’m so proud of these little numbers and I hope you like ’em too. There are tons of greeting cards, boxed note sets, an adorable keepsake box, washi tapes, iPhone covers, paperweights and magnets from iPops, invitations, mix bag sets, stickers, gift wrap, and a 2015 calendar that I’ll share closer to next year.
Interested in picking some of these up?
You can buy them in indendant gift shops, or you can buy online here!
Follow me on Instagram!
Instagram is my JAM! I’m always posting new pics of new work and products, so follow me if you’re interested!
Hi everyone, and happy St Patricks Day! It’s been a while since I’ve posted but really, this is the most appropriate follow-up to my last post, which was about being rejected by a fabric company because my fabric line, Grey Abbey, with Cloud9 Fabrics has arrived! Which coincidentally, is named after a village in Ireland. More on that below.
The concept of having fabrics with my prints, even after working on the collection for what felt like ages, seemed so abstract. So when that big box full of fabric bolts arrived, it was surreal. I opened up the box and unwrapped the first bolt, and I just started crying these tears of pure joy — what can I say, I’m a sap. I just sat there with the first bolt for a little while trying to savour that feeling. Then I proceeded to open up the next (tears) and the next (more tears) until I’d gone through all 12 beautiful bolts and could see the full collection as a whole, and man, did it feel good. The collection has been hanging out in my studio across from my desk so I can admire them and I had to force myself to start cutting them up for projects this weekend, it was hard to let go of those perfect bolts, but they are preserved in these photos below, and will be turned into many beautiful things, which is the whole point, after all.
The collection is printed on organic cotton and it feels sooooo good. The collection is named after a village in Ireland called Grey Abbey. My mum is Irish and I’ve been to Ireland many times, and I’ve always felt very connected to it. Trips to my grandmother’s house always felt quite magical — she collects antiques and the last time I was there I took a ton of pictures which inspired this collection. I‘ve shared some pictures of the fabrics below. You can also see the gorgeous Ribbon Box quilt that Cloud9 made. Overall, just so thrilled to share this! (And can’t wait to share the next collection, which ships in the fall!)
If you’re interested in getting your hands on the fabrics, look for / ask for them in your local modern quilting shops — and if they don’t have them, you can find them pretty easily online. A great online shop called Gooba Designs is stocking them, as is Hawthorne Threads, and a bunch of others too. The collection has already been featured in a few magazines, like Pretty Patches and Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, both of which are beautiful publications based out of the UK. As for me, I’ve re-acquired the sewing bug and can’t wait to sew up some goodies with these.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me, you guys! Nice to share this with the people that have been cheering me on from the sidelines. xo
I recently came across a letter I’d received from a fabric company about a year ago. I’d been reaching out to some companies that I thought my work might be a good fit for. And while I had my top picks for dream companies, I was also aware that dreams don’t happen overnight, so I was hoping to just get fabrics *somewhere* and that maybe it would get my foot in the door. One of the options was a company that required I send a package in the mail, and a few months later received, if I might say, I rather snarky rejection letter. Essentially the letter said (and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) that my work brought nothing new to the table, and that I’d essentially wasted their time. While I appreciated the personal reply, part of me almost wished that I’d never received it… it was so negative and unfriendly, and for some, could have been a dream killer. It wasn’t my dream company, so I decided I better not let it crush my dreams. So the other day when I came across this letter, while working on my second collection for Cloud9 Fabrics (which, by the way, *was* at the top of my dream list), a whole bunch of emotions came up for me. It made me realize how much has happened in the past year. And how happy I am about it all. And how glad I am that I didn’t listen to that letter or let it alter my path.
I just wanted to write this post because sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up when things don’t seem to be going anywhere. You submit, submit, submit… and feel lucky if you even get a reply. Sometimes it all just seems pointless, when you’re investing soooo much of your time and your heart into something, and hoping your dreams come true, and nothing is happening. You start to think your work isn’t good enough. I just wanted to share this story as a reminder to always try and keep your chin up. To persevere and keep at it and use that rejection as fuel to do better. And if at first you fail, then try, try again. And then when you reach one of your goals, you can feel a little extra proud of how far you’ve come.
One of the highlights of my 2013 was working with Madison Park Greetings, a really artist-focused Seattle-based company whose products I always noticed in nice gift and card shops. I was so excited when I worked on my first greeting card for them, and then that turned into a few more, then more, and then into all sorts of fun gift products, most of which have just launched on January 1st. I’m so excited to show you the first instalment of my new products with them, which includes gift wrap (dream come true!!), washi tapes (ahhh!) and the cutest little gift bag-and-sticker set. I mean, what a dream!
I’ll leave you with a few photos of these new products (click to see larger), and there are many more to come! I’ll share as they become available. Wishing you all a joy-filled, inspiring and fulfilling 2014!