Happy Two Years to My Little Shop, Your New Friend Sam

your new friend sam 2years anniversary

Wow, just wow. Each and every day, I still can’t believe what’s blossomed over these last two years.

Starting out, I didn’t think I’d have time to ship product, so I only listed printable, downloadable invitations. Then, while helping my best friend with her wedding, I added some various new items—like an address stamp that I hand lettered. From there my shop exploded from just printables to a rubber stamp and lettering shop. Nothing that I even started with. I can go weeks without even selling a printable invite, but daily, I’m selling things I’ve handlettered. Where? What? How?

your new friend sam shipping orders

Starting out, I didn’t even know I could letter. That I could write in a way that people would want to buy it. Buy it for their weddings, for their businesses, for tattoos on their arms! It’s such a a simple concept and it blows my mind daily. And I thank God for giving me that skill. Yes, I’ve studied and practiced like crazy, but truly, if I can call this a gift, it all came from God. There is no other way to explain it. And that’s the only way I can even try to fathom how I got to where I am now.

A year ago from this moment, I never ever ever everrrrrrr would have anticipated what was about to happen in that second year.

  • I never would have guessed that the first month of the [second] year of my shop, I would get 50 orders—10 more than the whole first year combined!— let alone that the last month of the year (January) I would have nearly 300!
  • I never would have guessed that when I created my “made with love” stamp with my friend Trisha in mind, it would launch a whole series of “love” stamps or the style of the writing would draw so many inquires to have logos and other related items done in a similar way.

your new friend sam love rubber stamps 8021

  • I never would have guessed that when I saw what the minimum amount of sales was to file taxes for Etsy was that I would meet and far exceed that amount. I specifically remember laughing and scoffing at that, thinking there was no way that would even be feasible.
  • I never would have thought that something I hand lettered would become a tattoo! A permanent art piece on someone’s body!
  • I never would have thought that when my friend (Trisha, again!) asked me to design her sister-in-law’s shower invites, it would inspire and launch a whole line of glitter embossed greeting card cards… almost 500 bridal party cards sold since mid-October to today!

your new friend sam glitter embossed bridesmaid invitations8038

  • I never would have guessed that my shop would be featured on the David Tutera blog (twice!) or even international blog sites like Fanny Staaf’s (twice!).
  • I never ever would have thought I’d reach 500 sales within the year, but that marker was passed in the summer and by November, I hit 1,000 sales! The Christmas rush came and went and things have only gained speed. With having my 1,700th sale last night, 2,000 sales is just around the corner in a matter of a few short months or even weeks! I seriously can not even believe it. No really, I can’t believe it.

lacey ostoj hum right along your new friend sam shop rubber stamp

If so much could happen in just the second year, while making hundreds of contacts and relationships with clients all over the world… I can only imagine what is to come this third year. This has been the most overwhelmingly insane year of my life—work-wise—but the most wondrous, amazing, and rewarding year as well. It was a year of taking chances, seeing what worked and what didn’t work and finding help and support from my friends and family in such sweet and endearing ways. It was learning to refine the craft of hand lettering with each order and discovering new writing styles. With each step of faith, God has just confirmed over and over again that what is happening is all from Him because there is no way I could have had any success at this apart from Him. I am ever so thankful…

Happy birthday my sweet little shop, how you’ve opened my eyes to dreams I never knew I had. To a future, I never knew could exist. To endurance that I never knew I had.


View more blog posts on my shop here.

Or just go straight to my Etsy shop, Your New Friend Sam, here.

Wishes, Resolutions, and Goals for the New Year

wishes resolutions +goals watercolor brush lettering by sam allen creates

I’m not much of a “New Years Resolutions” girl, but I have had so much on my mind lately. Thinking of what I truly want to do in life, and while trying to get focused, I’ve been thinking in terms of what I want to do more of and things I’d love to do less of.

I’ve read that if you don’t write your goals down… then they’re only dreams. And until these past few months, the amazing-ness that has happened with my Etsy shop has all been a dream, a big accidental dream that I stumbled upon. The small successes that my little shop has had were never a goal of mine. Because I never anticipated it. Never realized the potential that my shop held. Each and everyday, I’m discovering that this little shop of mine has grown so much that it may hold my future. A future I never knew that I even wanted.

But this post is less about my shop and what I want to do by is more about me. Who do I want to be? And what steps can I take to get there.

These past few months, since the beginning of last summer really, I’ve felt like a designing machine. Churning out design after design. Of course, I absolutely love designing and creating for my friends, family, and clients. So this is not a complaint, however machines do tend to run down and need maintenance. And I’ve discovered that my maintenance doesn’t come in the form of a veg-out relaxation day (well maybe it does, but I don’t recall what a day like that feels like). What really charges me up, is doing design projects that inspire me to create. Exponential creating. Where starting one project excites me so much that I can’t help but to create more. and more.

Tangent after tangent leads me to what I actually wanted to write about today… Wishes, resolutions, and goals for the new year. My wish is just my overall hope for the year. My resolutions are the small every day events that will lead me down the path to my goals. And my goals, are real tangible items that can be checked off my list at the end of the year.

 

Wishes.

– Be content in all things.

– Do more of what makes me come alive.

 

Resolutions. Everyday activities that will feed my goals.

– Create inspiring new projects and use new techniques.

– Learning more about these new techniques (i.e. brush and watercolor lettering)

– Get my office organized to accommodate all these new projects, tools and equipment.

– Create a “done list,” a documentation of the day to day projects completed

– Connect with more dreamers and doers for future collaborations.

– Spend more time with our family and friends, building the relationships that truly matter in this world and that will long outlast any work or project I may have before me.

 

Goals. Tangible activities and events.

– Get headshots and photos taken by my wonderful friend Jess from J. Rose Photography.

– Create a website to showcase graphic design, photography, and lettering that will be a step toward creating a shop and site outside of Etsy.

– Do enough “holiday” work in November and early December to be able to take a true vacation at the end of December so I can really enjoy the Christmas season.

 

What’s wonderful about putting this up online is having people out there who will keep me accountable to these goals. But what terrifies me is that if I fail, this list will be there for all to see and be a constant reminder of what didn’t happen this year. But then I am reminded of the many sayings about failure. Which really deems a whole other post. So I’ll just share my favorite right now, “what if I fail? But darling, what if you fly?”

what if i fail brush lettering by sam allen creates

Lettering in the above images were created for this blog post by me, Sam Allen Creates.

Two Oh Twelve

Last year I summed up “Two Oh Eleven” as a year that had minimal changes in our family of 2 but many changes for others and I am thinking the same for 2012.

January

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We started the year off in Colorado, snow boarding and site seeing. See Ice Castles post.

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While we were gone, our Bible study started to read through the Bible from cover to cover. In 90 days. It was an incredible experience. Read my recap.

February

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Photographed my first engagement session, and I love love love how they all came out!

March

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Rooftop celebrated their first 1st place award—in ribs! The second competition in a year full of Babies, Brides, and Barbeque! Then a few weeks later we launched the BBQ sauce full throttle in Las Vegas with a three day convention sales booth.

April

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Hello Owen, nice to meet you! Who knew how chunky this little guy could become and steal our hearts with his gummy smile.

May

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Hello Grayson! A baby that we all waited so long for, praying alongside his mama, grateful for him every single day and those sweet big brown eyes!

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Had my first paying photography client! Thank you Kirsten!

June

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Discovered a new love for country line dancing while celebrating the best friend’s 26th birthday.

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Rediscovered a love for the beach while celebrating two special June birthdays, one 24 year old and one 4 year old. 🙂

July

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Kept the bridal celebrations going with a weekend away in the Sequoias, being pampered by our mamas every moment along the way.

August

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Spent the first week of August under the sweet South Dakota skies.

September

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After going opening weekend, Rachel and I went back to visit California Adventure with the hope of a lighter crowds. And of course another photo with Walt and the Mouse.

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Amid all the wedding festivities, we managed to take the time to watch the footage from our wedding. Ugly happy tears were shed.

October

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Stood by my friend as she pledged her love to her best friend—under the trees and surrounded by sunflowers.

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Took a week, traveling to the Pacific Northwest—basking under the red fall leaves and chilly Seattle winds.

November

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Watched as my childhood best friend married the man of her dreams at her fairy tale wedding.

December

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Photographed a proposal in Orange Circle, smiling knowing my best friend was about to embark on a wonderful new adventure.

And now here we are, half way through January… here’s to a wonderful New Year!

Unity

The group that went down to Mexico in mid-July had such a radical experience in the way that each and every person that went became so linked to one another. Our group was unified in our mission to serve the people in San Quintin. We acted as one unit, one body of Christ. This uniting of brothers and sisters has spurred our church’s next study. Pastor Josh is now teaching on the 12 chapter of 1 Corinthians

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

We all came together in “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Epehsians 4:13). It was a beautiful experience to be a part of a larger group of believers, all working in unison toward a common goal.

I have been thinking on this for awhile and so today as I went on to the second message from Biana Juarez on chapter 2 of the book of James, I was graced with the memories from Mexico. One of the biggest reasons that I was so nervous to go on the trip was my fear of the people there. I had no idea how they were going to treat us. I was expecting them to treat us with contempt over our economic standing. It didn’t occur to me that we were actually going to serve a church, a body of fellow believers! So as Biana was reading from James 2, relating the story of the two men entering the assembly, one wearing fine clothes and the other a poor man, I was instantly reminded of Mexico. These two men are judged on their outward appearance. It doesn’t even mention whether or not the finely dressed man was rich, that is an assumption based on his attire. When I got to Mexico I was so greeted in a way that outward appearance was not an issue.

The people were so happy that we were there to share in their lives and partake in daily living with them. They were so happy to praise the same Lord, in the same church, breathing the same air!

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

James 2:5

God resists the proud, giving grace to the humble. I am no longer proud. I want to be humble. My outlook on life has so changed. I feel as though by going to Mexico, I came falsely pieced together, became broken, and God is slowly building me back up to be used for His glory!

I am excited for our church! Our group was unified in Mexico, but it is not going to end there. We have brought our vision back to unify our church at home. Uniting them under our same vision. The poor in spirit are among us.

I am enduring radical change. Is God transforming you? Are you reaching out to others in ways that you never thought would ever happen? Are you treating others as if Jesus was physically among us now? Status does not matter. Looks do not matter. We are all one in Christ. We have been given grace by being loved by God even though we do not deserve it… Who do you know that needs love? We should look upon each other as God does… we have all been redeemed by His blood, “saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

Test of Obedience

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:2-5

I just started a series by Biana Juarez on the book of James. She titled the series The Scandalous Book of James because of the blunt language that James states the ways the church should be acting. Like in the above verses, how many times have we heard these verses…? How many times have we actually shown joy when we fall into trials…? Not too often, or at least I haven’t. However, it is so much easier to look back on the trial and see the hand of God upon it.

In subsequent verses James then states,

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 1:22

Jesus asks such simple things of us… Am I truly loving my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39)? If I am, then am I “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19)?

I am truly being tested in these areas of love and obedience. I can actually see myself thinking through my actions rather than acting impulsively! The Lord is refining me and no matter how difficult it is, I am trying to count it as joy for I know that God is perfecting me into His image.

Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

1 John 2:5

How is God working in your life? Are you a doer of the Word? Please share your thoughts!

Dios Le Bendiga

Mexico gave me a gift that I can never return, nor would I ever want to return.

Mexico took a struggling, prideful, and terrified woman and changed her heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Rather, God used Mexico to do so in my life.

Each time someone asks how was Mexico, I am not sure how to respond. Sometimes I would just give a simple statement of “It was great!” But within that statement hides many emotions, tears, and a love for los ninos.

To help me condense all these random thoughts of the trip down I made a list… with pretty fonts. Because that’s what I do.

Experiencing Fear

Going back to the beginning… I did not want to go to Mexico. Ever. The very idea of it terrified me. My palms would start sweating, like when I see someone use the font Comic Sans. And for this reason, I went. I purposely stepped outside my comfort zone to allow God to change my life. I gave everything up and over to God to allow Him to give me back a new life, a life whose purpose is to live for God. As I gathered with our initial group of thirty two in the Starbucks parking lot with our friends and family surrounding us in prayer, this verse came to my mind again,

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

I was not facing this challenge alone. I not only had 31 other people to stand with me, I had the strength of our Lord and Savior. We could do this. Easy.

Experiencing Giving

There were many verses that I had to keep focusing on and one of those is found in Matthew,

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

No matter the fears that I had, and without God I would still have them, I have a gift and this gift needs to be shared. Our group went down to Mexico to share the gift of salvation with the people of this country. These people have little hope, but they have been given the gift of a small Christian church in their community. We were able to give our time to help this church not only expand their physical church building but also their church fellowship. Each day we went out amongst the people of the community and shared with them the love of Christ. We were invited into their homes to pray with them and comfort them with the words of the Scripture so they might have hope (Romans 15:4). Our gift was small but our group saw the over fifty people accept the gift of salvation during our week in the San Quintin valley. And that gift is eternal.

The light of our Lord overflowed through us and that light will not be extinguished.

Experiencing Love

Love is what I was able to experience the most though, for it is the result of my first two points. Through my fear, God showed me His love. Through my giving, I received love. Everywhere I looked I saw love… the love of the people running the mission camp, Mike and Angela; the love of my fellow missionaries who served each other; the love of Room 5, where our friendships were forever strengthened;the love of the people of the church when they welcomed us into their homes; the love of the children who welcomed us into their arms for a hug and then wouldn’t let go.

When Andy and I were married we asked Pastor Bob to speak on this verse, for it is the verse I wanted to base our marriage upon,

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:18

We were able to demonstrate this verse all week, demonstrating the love that Christ has shown us since the beginning of time. We weren’t just praying for these people in the comfort of our homes but we were working side by side with them in love.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Dios le bendiga… God bless you.

Happy Father’s Day

Fathers are just the best right? The ones you can always run to, whose arms are always wide open. My dad is the perfect dad for me. He loves me no matter what. He even laughs at my jokes. He likes to roll his eyes at my mom with me. He plays a bagpipe and has the full kilt attire with Piper shoes and everything. He even has a tartan tie. I want him to get tartan pants, but no such luck there. He is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. The color green doesn’t belong on his plate. He hates the sand but loves the mountains. He redefines the meaning of a road trip, i.e. do not leave the road, no matter how bad you have to go to the bathroom. He has never left my side, no matter how mean I was to him growing up.

I have learned a lot about a Father’s love in these past few years. I have learned that our Father in heaven will never leave our side, no matter what we have done to screw up. He loves us unconditionally and he never changes. No matter what. He gives and he gives, and gives even more especially when we don’t deserve it. A Father’s grace.

Learning this about my heavenly Father has taught me to appreciate my own father. He never leaves me and gives unconditionally. Always trying to help, never hinder. Always keeping my best interest in mind. Always holding my hand through the hard times. So this is a shout out to my dad who I have never loved more and who I have never appreciated more in my life.

I love you, Dad!

Similarly to my June birthday cards, I illustrated my Father’s Day cards too… and here they are for your visual pleasure.

1. My Dad’s card, inspired by his Crawford tartan

2. My father-in-law’s card, inspired by his home grown veggie and fruit garden

3. My grandpa’s tie, inspired by a Snoopy figurine he had while I was growing up

4. My godfather’s tie, inspired by his never ending hunger for our leftovers! (it’s a garbage disposal, not my best)

Tell me about your fathers!!

Blooming Bulbs

Even though my all time favorite color is green, I do no have a green thumb. I have been a killer of plants for a few years now, but my mother-in-law inspired me to embrace the dirt and turn it into something beautiful. I actually enjoy pulling weeds. Really, I do. I have even bartered with my mother. She is going to clean my bathrooms (all 3 of them!) in exchange for me doing her yard work. I looooove this deal! So thanks mom-in-law and mom!

In March, I began my quest. The first task at hand was conquering the weeds. These weeds were taller than most plants! Shovels had to be used to get down to the roots. It was bad but a wonderful fresh start!

In the following weeks, I purchased a bag of star-gazer lilies from Costco. This seemed like the simplest route to take. Dig a hole. Stick the bulb in. Cover it. Water it. Love it. Done. And it truly was this simple!

I planted these bulbs first thing in the morning about mid-March. Within two months, I had this little beauty…

And now, I have 18 of these bulbs blooming! It is so amazing to see these bloom knowing that I actually planted and tended to them! I have the gardening itch for sure now! I just have to develop more patience to wait for them to grow! That’s the worst part!

I like to think about how God looks upon His creation here. That though there are many many weeds, and this world is by no means how His original creation was, I like to think that with His help we are growing and maturing and bringing a smile to His face too.