Head Into Business

Conference Tips and Tricks: Following Up

Conference Tips and Tricks -daridesignstudio.com

Did you come home from your last conference with a stack of business cards? Hooray! But is that stack just sitting on your desk now, waiting ever so patiently for you to take the next step? It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of conference planning, we sometimes forget that our actions during and after the conference are key to forming lasting and valuable relationships. To begin with, wasn’t networking one of the reasons for attending?

We know this from experience! In March, we both attended We All Grow Summit and came home so inspired and motivated! And yes, we also came home with a healthy stack of business cards and contacts for new opportunities and collaborations.

We want you to learn and grow with us, so we thought it might be helpful if we shared some tips and tricks for you to take during the conference so that following up afterward is a little smoother.



Tips to follow during the conference: 

  • Connect with people and remember their story and their name. Remembering these little details are so important, both for your follow up later and for building relationships in general.
  • Write down that info on the back of their business card at the end of the day. Writing it down while it’s still fresh in your mind is the key here.
  • Make an effort to talk to people you don’t know; try to get out of your comfort zone instead of hanging out with the same clique. Variety is the spice of life!
  • Be ready to tell a clear message about your brand and what you do. Even if you are confused or you haven’t figured this out yet express that stage with clarity.
  • Always ask yourself, how can I serve this moment or this person? Start the giving and receiving cycle of friendship with giving. Be a good receiver without expecting.
  • Stay true to your message and vision, don’t sell out for the money or the press or because everyone else is doing it. Stop to think through what you want to manifest.
  • Smile often, smiling is the best gift we can give each other. Especially show a relaxed and attentive face to a presenter or a panelist.
  • Be curious and ask questions, stay away from those tempting know-it-all attitudes.
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up!
  • Make it a point to tell people something you like about them.
  • Stay away from complaining altogether.



Advice for following up post-conference:

  • Take a day or half day after the event to look at your notes and transform them into actions, goals, etc. Also, take this time to organize your photos, and do everything post-event related.
  • Prioritize your contacts. Select the business cards of the people that you would like to connect with right away – maybe you want to pitch them something or you guys talked about something at the event and they are waiting for information from you. Again make sure you are offering help before you ask for help. Staple those cards in a notebook that you use often and write a description on the side. Schedule those emails/phone calls or decide when you are going to write the emails and schedule those hours in your calendar. Make sure you don’t do it right after the conference is over, give people time to get caught up with their lives.
  • Make sure you stay connected with the rest of the people. Go to their websites, follow them on social media and comment on their feeds to make sure you are there and you remember them. Relationships grow stronger if we take the initiative and be present.
  • I love using Boomerang to make sure emails come back to me as reminders, in case I need to follow up again after no response.
  • Schedule another time in your calendar to go back to your notebook and make sure you have connected with everyone.
  • Send people any blog posts or any post-summit content that they can enjoy and remember you from. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, it could be a Snapchat story, or a simple photo or a link to FB or Instagram post.



We hope that by following these steps your inspiration and energy will stay high when the conference is over so that you can grow valuable and meaningful relationships with the people you met. How about you, do you have any tips or tricks that have worked well for you? Share with us, the comments below are a great way to share your thoughts!

filed under licensing, art, experiences, novelties, surtex, trends

First Quarter Review: More Effective Time Management

Quarter Review -daridesignstudio.com

Here is a question we feel we’ve gotten closer to figuring out the answer:

Do you get anxious about having a bazillion things you want to do because there is only so much time to do so many different things?

Answer: Not so much anymore

What about you?

I think creative people that only want to focus on one thing are the luckiest. Like Elizabeth Gilbert for example, she knew and always knew there was only ONE thing in the world she wanted to do, write. Nothing else lured her away from that passion. Me, (and I suspect many of you) I am on the totally opposite side of that.

As creatives, we want to do it all and every single idea of a new offering, or product, or design, or book, or project or new craft or new blog gets us so excited that is hard to put things into perspective.  And then we start getting anxious – confronted with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. So we go to the extreme and from wanting to do it all, we get paralyzed and do nothing! And the funny thing is, we don’t want to let go of anything, we truly believe we can do it all.

Here is the thing: We can do it all! Just not all at once.

You have probably heard that before many times. I can almost see you rolling your eyes.

You can do anything but not everything quote -David Allen

I heard it many times before too (and rolled my eyes too), however, I promise you that practicing it, is a-whole-other deal.

A challenging deal that is!

But we need to get on it and try it out because it is our only way out of anxiousness, paralyzed mode, and overwhelmed town!

Creative retreat in santa barbara -daridesign.com

Back in January, we headed for a 2 day Creative Business Retreat to outline a plan for the first quarter of the year. Sounds fun! and it was, but it also was a challenging deal.

This meant choosing from all those ideas and sticking to the ones we are going to put in place in a year’s time frame. How did we do that? Well, we looked at all the ideas, sorted through them based on levels of how much joy will doing this bring us? And also we passed those ideas through financial and do-ability filters.

Planning yearly goals -daridesignstudio.com

After all that, we chose a small list of goals for the year’s first quarter. Let’s review them and see how we are doing

Creating art every day: 

Dariana: I feel a lot of progress in this area. I don’t think we were able to do it every day from the beginning. But for the last 3 weeks I have been painting every day. What made it work for me was partnering up with an accountability buddy. It’s almost impossible not to do it when there is someone expecting to receive an image of your work every day. I’m planning to keep this habit alive for many months to come. Next month might be a little different because I’ll be traveling half the month but I’ll definitely adapt the habit as much as I can to my journey.

Website re-design:

This is still a work in progress. We couldn’t get a handle on this project earlier in the year as we thought we would. It was very difficult to be present in the design class and be designing the website at the same time. Also, we knew that much of the website copy and layout depended on our marketing strategy, so we had to adjust our timeline to our marketing coaching sessions a little. However it is a good thing that we got it started and it’s moving faster than we thought!

Start implementing our marketing strategy:

This has been one of the best things we’ve done so far. Yes! we started and are going strong! We are following the main structure that we designed together with Michelle (our Marketing coach). Having a strategy changes everything and keeps our work and small daily decisions all under the same vision and going towards the final goal.  I think knowing that, is the most efficient anxiety antidote.

Launch our Standout guide:

This launch is the perfect example of underestimating our efforts and how long things take in our world. We thought this would be ready in December. Then we went to our retreat and thought we’ll have it ready by the end of February. Turns out that we were only able to finish and launch it 2 days ago. What?? yes, I know what you are thinking, what took you so long? Well, mainly other paid work that needs to take priority. Client orders, freelance, other licensing designs, etc. Lesson learned for me is to always account for more time than I think things will take. Also account for last minute things like getting sick, or a day with no internet, a friend calls and really needs you to pick him up. I don’t know. Unpredicted things always happen so it’s better to account for it like you would with a rainy day fund. Let’s call this one rainy-day, extra-time fund.

Take a design class:

Classes are so important. They are also time-consuming and require time and attention, especially with so many classes now available to be taken at your own pace. As usual, I thought I allocated a lot of time for it but it would have been great to be able to allocate even more time for this class. It was intense and super enjoyable.  I wrote about my first-week experience here.

Create new subscription offering:

We have barely started to do this. Mainly because the Standout guide and the main website re-design were taking (and still is in some ways) most of our time. Again underestimating how much time things take. The biggest lesson of this first quarter.

Lesson learned while doing a quarter review -daridesignstudio.com

Apparently we aren’t the only ones. The Sydney Opera House was expected to be completed in 1963. A scaled-down version opened in 1973, a decade later. The Denver International Airport opened sixteen months later than scheduled with a total cost of $4.8 billion; over $2 billion more than expected.

Phew! I don’t feel so bad now. It’s a real thing and it’s called the planning fallacy. See? it’s not only us creatives. We all become optimistic about our own deadlines and underestimate how long things take.

As we head into our second quarter of the year, what would our goals be now that we have a sharper view of what’s ahead and we understand how we sabotage ourselves?

Our goals for the second quarter are much simpler now:

  • Finish website re-design
  • Finish new website freebie (based on new subscription offering)
  • Keep creating everyday

I hope that looking at the way we plan and execute things has given you a spark on how you could start implementing and start your own projects. It’s always better to work on one project at a time, because your audience also digests better one project at a time.

So, how would you answer this question? And has the answer changed through the years?

Do you get anxious about having bazillion things you want to do because there is only so much time to do so many different things? Let us know!

We hope you enjoyed reading about our lessons learned this quarter – it’s been an exciting year and we’ve got much more to come, we hope you’ll stay tuned!

filed under licensing, art, experiences, novelties, surtex, trends

Are you Ready to Hire a Coach for your Creative Business?


We have felt paralyzed and stuck with our creative business, ideas and projects many times. And one thing is for sure, not all methods and business formulas work for every creative business. Just like people, creative businesses are all different and need different things. We recently hired a marketing business coach and we have had several consulting experiences in the past. We thought it would be helpful to share the knowledge we got (and continue to have) from those experiences.

Many times as creative entrepreneurs we feel stuck and don’t know which way to go. There are so many ideas to pursue. Sometimes we believe another person with more experience can help us improve and help us grow our creative business more efficiently and faster than ourselves. If only they can tell us what to do, how to do it and hold us accountable, many of our problems will be solved in a blink of an eye.
Sounds familiar?


Here are the usual suspect symptoms:

• We feel overwhelmed with so many ideas. There is no time to put these ideas into fruition and everything takes so long. We know this because we have tried a couple of ideas and none of them have really worked. So, now on top of feeling overwhelmed we have an “I’m not making any money with this” emotion that paralyzes us even more.

• Our outside chatter is way louder than our intuition, we feel there isn’t time to listen to our own voice and we strongly believe we have to talk to someone that has done what we want to do in order to move forward or get started. Because at this stage there are more questions than answers.

• We compare ourselves with other entrepreneurs that have been able to strive and grow with the help of a mentor, teacher or coach and that makes us think we are ready to get the same help.

All 3 scenarios have something in common:

We are paralyzed.

Very few of us can look back in our creative business and say: – I tried and tested one strategy and/or idea for six months (or a year) and gave it my all and it didn’t work. Then I did the same for 2 more years with a different idea and that didn’t work either.

This is almost impossible for the average entrepreneur. We tend to try many ideas at once, and none of them are fully explored because as we feel anxious with our progress, focusing and being consistent with one idea becomes more and more challenging. Most of us wish things were faster and it is in our nature to find shortcuts to a successful business so we fantasize about having a coach or consultant whose ideas and experience we trust more than our own.

So, what to do?

There are two vital questions we invite you to ask yourself if you are at this crossroad.

Can you afford it? and Are you ready? 

These two questions give us four possible outcomes:

  • You can afford it but you aren’t ready (affording it doesn’t mean you are ready)
  • You can afford it and you are ready (check below to make sure and afterward account for enough time)
  • You can’t afford it but you are ready (there are things you can do meanwhile, see below)
  • You can’t afford it and you aren’t ready (get started, you’ll get there, it’s always important to experience a guide)



Before you start trying to see in which of those categories you are standing, see what we mean by affording it and by being ready.

You can afford it if…

  • The answer to the following question is “no”: If the guidance service doesn’t work as I was hoping, will I go under financially and will that hurt my business to the point of putting me in debt (we don’t believe in borrowing money to grow our business) or paralyzing me even more than what I am right now?
  • You have reserved the amount of money equal to at least the first 3 to 5 months of services.
  • When you hire a coach or a consultant you want to make sure the value and price of their service feels like a healthy stretch. It’s not impossible to afford but it also gives you a little bit of challenge. The value your mind attaches to their service is proportional to how much you admire them, and how much effort and how willing your mind is to get out of your comfort zone in order to make the changes and reach your goals.
  • You have all your personal and professional basic needs covered and the decision isn’t based on hope and beginning excitement only.

Do this if you can’t afford coaching or a consultant right now:

  • Start saving and designate a bank account for your savings and start adding some money into it regularly. Even if it’s just $5 every week, the amount is not the important part of this step, what matters is that you are leading the way and taking action. You now have a plan and you can get there. While you save your money start doing research and get clear on what you need.
  • Become a member of mastermind groups for your area of expertise within Facebook. Most questions and conversations revolve around solving the same problems because most people are confronting the same obstacles (or have done in the past). Start taking action using those suggestions while you save your money.
  • Coaching is usually more expensive than consulting. Maybe you are able to afford a consulting session before you start your coaching sessions. Sometimes just asking one question and getting the answer can give you direction to move you further ahead than you imagine.
  • Signup for the newsletter of the coaches and experts you would like to work with. Stay connected and close by, genuinely making comments on their social media feeds and understanding their needs. Maybe you can be of help. Be open to starting a strong and healthy relationship with them before you are able to hire them.
  • If you know someone you admire and you think they can hold valuable information that can help, you can always approach them and ask if they will be willing to let you pick their brain. Of course offer that you will pay for their time and value their knowledge. Tell them how much you can afford and explain your needs. This is a great start while you prepare yourself for more ongoing guidance. You could also offer to barter and exchange the session for a service you can provide.



You are ready if…

  • You are clear about EXACTLY what you need. Do you need a Coach? Someone that will help you with a specific task or performance and hold you accountable regularly until the goals have been reached. Do you need a consultant? Someone that can be there for an hour or two to answer specific questions and give you direction. Or do you need a mentor? Someone that can work with you as a teacher giving you tools that will develop your role in your business long term. Take your time understanding how you perform best. Do you need accountability? Do you really need one-on-one attention? Or, will you be ok in a group coaching session?



• You are coachable. Sometimes we really want change but we aren’t ready to confront fear and really do what it takes (or what we are told). It’s easy to naïvely think that with a guide holding our hands that fear will diminished. Dig deep into finding out about your own behaviors before you present your problem package to someone else. Are you willing to try ideas and do things you haven’t tried before, do you tend to be skeptic about other’s expertise? Are you really convinced you gave your all, to all the methods you have tried thus far? These are important questions to dedicate your time, otherwise, most time spent with a coach or consultant will be about convincing you, managing your emotions or listening to the victim stories you are attached to.

You are prepared and you know exactly where you are standing. Have you done research and read books about what you needing in your area? Can you clearly describe the crossroad where you are standing? The more clear you are about your business journey, the more a coach or a consultant can help you. If you are confused and that’s what you need help with, you can still be clear about what you are confused about. Dedicate time to break down your train of thought and doubts before you ask for help. (Psst – it might be helpful to get away and prepare during a creative business retreat!)

Thanks for reading about our experiences! Have you considered hiring a coach, consultant, or mentor for your business this year? We would love to know if you found our advice useful in that process and if our ideas helped you reach your decision. Just leave us a comment below! 

filed under licensing, art, experiences, novelties, surtex, trends

A Creative Business Retreat: How-to and Ideas


Before I tell you all the wonderful things about this idea of taking 3 days off of your life to plan and create the business you want to manifest, I want to make sure you know our business is not floating in a cloud of cash flow in a perfect artist’s world. We struggle with very basic startup problems. In fact, as creative entrepreneurs we are still figuring out many things about having our own business and in many areas we feel lost and very doubtful.  Some of these fears paralyze us for a while and some don’t anymore. We made this trip happen and it was an absolute winning idea!! but it was also challenging and as I like to say: perfectly imperfect.

It’s important to put that on the table beforehand because the internet can be deceiving and seeing beautiful photos of two creative girls smiling as they work in a super hip hotel in Santa Barbara can certainly give you an idea of unrealistic perfection.

However, we do like to take these pictures and we do like to make this post super pretty!

Keep on reading now that you have been warned of our human reality!

So, how did this whole idea start?

Already deep in the last quarter of 2015, we started talking about the possibility of taking the time away to plan and to do the things we never get to do in our business, mainly because, as you know, ours is a virtual business in all aspects. We almost never get to paint together, share our creative process, teach each other, learn from each other, experiment new activities or brainstorm in person.

Then I watched a Marie Forleo episode about how important it is to take time off and away from the business. A couple of months earlier, I heard a super inspiring story about my friend Bernie’s company Smarty Socialmedia‘s business retreat in Palm Springs. All of these messages together  hooked us to the whole retreat idea, but now we wanted to mix inspiration and creativity with planning, dreaming and goals.



Once we made the decision this is what happened next

First we were going to stay local, but staying away from our homes and family was crucial to get the environment we wanted, so that made no sense. Scratch that! Where can we go that’s close but still feels like a getaway trip? Truth is, California has so many locations for our dream retreat within driving distance, so, after a little bit of looking around we chose Santa Barbara.


Then we…

• Picked the days in our calendar and blocked them off.

• Thought of a budget for our retreat (even though we didn’t have the money available at the time). We said this is going to cost us at least $500.00.

• Assigned tasks to each other. Hotel research, retreat activities, come up with a more accurate budget and so on.

• Decided we wanted to stay in a very inspiring hotel not in an Airbnb. This was Dariela’s idea and I’m glad we did this. It makes such a difference!

To be honest we barely had time to actually do the tasks we assigned to each other until almost a week before our trip. I did take many hours of my “after xmas and before new year planning week” to look at what we’d be doing, but other than that we didn’t plan much in advance as we thought.

A week before our retreat we…

• Finally chose a hotel and made reservations.

• Decided that one night was not enough time. Extended our stay to 2 nights and extended our budget to accommodate the extra day.

• Finalized our realistic budget to $650 based on the extra money we made during the Holidays.

• Decided not to have any extra paid outings so that we could stay in the nice hotel and afford an extra day.

• Decided to go on a weekday (Sunday to Tuesday) instead of a weekend to save more money.

And finally the day arrived

There is something special about stepping away from our routine and allowing new experiences in our lives. We definitely value the inspiring enchantment that comes from that special space. That’s what I was thinking as my sister drove us through the California coast. I also thought about what can we share here from our experience that can be valuable to you.



So instead of telling you what we did down to the minute, I decided to break it down into the following categories:

Time well spent during our retreat

• Exercising and keeping moving between work sessions.

• Looking very closely at our 2015 review.

• Being honest about the changes we would like to see in 2016.

• Creating and defining our 2016 launches.

• Preparing for our appointment with our marketing strategist.


What we would do differently

• Add more inspiring and social activities between planning sessions.

• Be more prepared for the cold weather.

• Allocate more money for adventures.

• Prepare in advance skill sessions that we would like to share/learn from each other.

Ideas for a retreat if you are a solopreneur

• Go to a conference or weekend business activity that involves socializing with entrepreneurs. Plan to do your own business retreat maybe the days after or prior to the event. If the event schedule allows, you can also interlace your working retreat sessions with the conference activities.

• Ask entrepreneurs you admire that you know and also consider the ones you don’t know yet, and plan a co-working business retreat with them. If the expenses are too much do a two day virtual retreat on a weekend with everyone

• It’s important to involve others into your retreat. You will need to balance out ideas, brainstorm and accountability. If in the end it’s really hard to find a group you feel affinity with, we suggest you still take 2 days away to plan and organize your business and then make sure you share what you did with other people. Ask them to give you their opinion. Make sure this person cares about your story and business, and understands it enough to give you constructive feedback.


Inspiring spaces help a LOT! All these spaces are at The Goodland hotel.

What exactly did you guys do there business wise?

  • We did a 2015 review: We used “Your Best Year” book by Lisa Jacobs to guide us on this review. Out of all the planners we reviewed for 2016 we thought she really asked the right questions. So it looked like this. We sat down and started listening to our different answers (we answered them before hand). Then we talked about it and the conversation started about what was time well spent in 2015, what wasn’t, and why. We made notes and put all of our information in our Trello board.
  • We brainstormed about what made us super happy and how to bring that into 2016: Another conversation and taking notes session about realizing what we really love doing and what we want to focus on. We both have different passions within our company’s mission. This is a good thing! We bring variety to the table and we help each other see the role we perform best.
  • We created GOALS and broke them down for the first quarter of the year: We are breaking down our strategy in increments of 90 days. Once our goals were defined we created a visual map for the ones we’ll start implementing right away and then added a timeline to our calendar.


  • We dedicated some time for creative activities: The first two days we made sure we did in-between fun activities where we doodled or did an exercise to warm up our brains and start thinking creatively. We grabbed these exercises from Gamestorming. I wish we’d have done more! there are so many great creative games there.
  • We outlined and decided about the products we were going to launch in 2016: This was super fun!! It was also challenging because we realized we have to let go of many things we do now in order to welcome time and energy for our new products. Also because we implemented for the first time the “start at the end method” by having a yearly money goal in mind first and then working our way to it.
  • We also worked on a very important questionnaire for our new marketing strategist and copywriter Michelle Hunter. We know marketing is going to be essential  for our new products. We are super thrilled to start working with Michelle!
  • We talked about a new update to our website that reflects all of the changes and new products that are coming: This was key for our retreat. Our website is like our office, it needs to reflect our current work and services right away. This goal went first on our timeline. Once our site is renewed we can do everything else, but no worries we’ll be working on both things at the same time.



Whew! Looking back, we accomplished so much in such a short but fun and creative time period. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about our experiences planning and going on a creative business retreat. Did our story spark any new ideas or inspire you to consider a retreat? We hope so! Let us know if you went on retreat this year or if you now plan to do one! 

filed under licensing, art, experiences, novelties, surtex, trends

10 Favorite Planners for the Creative Free Spirited Planners


This is the second part post of our favorite planners review this year. I curated a list of Creative Free Spirited Planners. If you consider yourself more of a Creative Planner Fanatic instead then check out our last post here.

Before we go down the list it’s important to state, that you might use both planners in conjunction. One will be more of a yearly logistic, strategist book and the other planner will just be your day to day companion to make the strategy and goal happen. Most likely you would want to keep both of these on your desk. Or you can also choose to buy all these together in one planner.

Most of these planners are made by creatives, artists and entrepreneurs. I really applaud their work and effort and I love that we are dedicating the space here to feature their work. They really make our creative lives easier and more manageable!


1. Musings Journal 

This Planner is for the 100% visual creative. You get square shapes on each day so you can doodle, draw, paint, paste a picture or just write. It’s the best personification of a white canvas planner.

This planner costs $24 and is offered as a downloadable PDF. For printed copies, check the website for a listing of retail stores.



2. Danielle Laporte Desire Map Planner

Danielle’s design vision is exquisite as always. The design of this planner and the idea of planning my life according to how I want to feel is brilliant!

This planner costs $44.




3. Get to Workbook

If I had to choose one of these creative free-spirited planners it would be this one. This planner combines a little bit of goal setting with daily scheduling. I love the simplicity of it. Each month there is a beautiful art graphic quote than you can take out and frame. Another of my favorite features are the monthly tabs and the project breakdown pages. It’s challenging to find good photos and videos of how a planner looks on the inside yet Elise Blaha Cripe does a great job showing off her creation. We are so thankful for that!

This planner costs $55.




4. Flourish

This Planner has an artistic feminine look. If you crave tons of white and simple space while you plan out your life, this is the planner for you. It comes in different designed covers. They are all super attractive.

This planner is available through Amazon for $10.99.



5. Tools for Wisdom Planner

This is a great large planner that comes in tons of different designs. It also combines planning pages with day to day calendar pages. I like how (as their name says) they provide written tools for planning at the beginning. It helps a lot  to have a little bit of guidance when we are trying to organize our goals.

This planner is available through Amazon for $29.97.




6. Life Planner

Erin Condren is the creator of the life planner and many other tools for the women entrepreneur. Her website is eye candy everywhere. Our favorite thing about Erin planner’s are the stickers and the foil finish – fun!

This planner costs $50.




7. BAN.DO Agenda

This planner can’t be cuter.  Even though is currently out of stock we couldn’t leave it out of the list. It has it all for us, bright colors, simple layout, stickers and tabs. Who could ask for more?

Check Amazon for availability, the planner costs $20.



8. Simplified Planner

Emily Lay has also created a feminine home office dream. The quality of all her products is astonishing. Your simplified planner will come inside a keepsake box. We prefer the weekly layout but we are sure that you are going to love not only the planner but tons of the products she offers on her site.

This planner costs $58.



9. May Design Planners

This planners are a dream come true. You can completely customize the cover with beautiful artwork and/or with your name/quote or any type of monogram. You also control what goes on the inside. All the planners are beautiful but May even offers more than other ideas for the inside of you book. You have to check it out!

The basic planner costs $20 with additional costs for customization.



10. Craftsposure

Filled with surprising treasures this planner was well thought out, keeping it clean but very useful and convenient. Besides the daily scheduling areas it also includes areas for visioning, budget, bucket lists, goal setting and more.

This planner costs $49.

Whew! That rounds out our top 10 list of planners for the free spirited planners. There are so many options but we hope this list helps you pick one that you will use and enjoy all year! I would love to hear about what you liked in this list and if you are planning to purchase one of these or if you found another favorite – let us know!



filed under licensing, art, experiences, novelties, surtex, trends

5 Favorite Planners for the Creative Fanatic Planner


What a better way to say hello to a wonderful new year than to dedicate this space to find new ways to get more intentional, organized and purposeful in 2016.

Being a creative entrepreneur is not an easy task. It takes lots of focus to plan and courage to execute our plans. Paradoxically our creative right brains insist on creating a successful business.

And what is required for a successful business? Among many things…

It requires planning and action.

As you already know here at Dari Design, I am the one obsessed with planning. I love organizing my life so much that I have to be careful about actually remembering to execute the plan. The times of my life when I’ve been the most efficient, productive and happy have been the ones I planned out. Even when I plan to do nothing, I feel better doing that “nothing” because it was planned out.

I know it sounds like my life lacks spontaneity. But don’t be so quick to judge.

Last month I was reading a post of one of my favorite entrepreneurs. I consider her a creative fanatic planner  Theresa Reed from the Tarot Lady, she was talking about how she likes planning her day to the minute:

“I don’t just create a schedule because I want to be fruitful in my efforts… I plan rigorously so that my life has room for the other things that I want to do outside of work: namely, cooking fancy meals and reading (and soon, photography – it’s on my list as my most wanted hobby). My schedule is simple and strict. This sets up a rhythm for me, my family, and my clients.”

I can relate so much with her words!

For some people, planning is a turn on that sets the right environment for fun activities, extra time and even relaxing. For other people, planning is such a turn off that they feel restricted and suffocated, leaving them with no desire for executing the plan and even less desire to plan for fun stuff.

It’s a fact that planning will provide a more realistic path to reach your goals.

Just like in money management. Budgeting will take you closer to your goals than not budgeting.

A goal without a plan is just a wish –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Successful people plan, budget, sit down to reflect and hold themselves accountable.

Now the trick is to find the right planner for you. And because I enjoy so much looking at planners and analyzing them I curated two lists of five planners to help you choose. One list for the Creative Fanatic Planner and another one for the Creative Free Spirited Planner. The Free Spirited planner’s guide will come out next week, please stay tuned for it!

Here is my list of 5 Favorite Planners for the Creative Fanatic Planner:


1. Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs 

I love this planner. I like the simplicity of the layout. It feels clean and it helps bring forth clarity. The actual planning part is my favorite of all planners in this list. Lisa takes the time to really dig into your priorities and goals forming processes efficiently. There is also invaluable content to help you stay focused as a business owner, using key questions and exercises. Plus it’s impossible to not get inspired with her stories and by how she openly shares her experiences.

I wasn’t so in love with the actual day to day calendar area as I was with the planning prep content. Don’t get me wrong, the whole planner is amazing, but I found this area in other planners to be better suitable for me. The only thing I would add to this planner would be samples of how to fill out the worksheets and a visual description for how to fill out each area. Most of the samples are on Lisa’s website, which sets me a little off track since I wanted to be completely off line during my planning sessions.

This planner was created with the creative entrepreneur in mind.  It’s heavy on marketing and business tools. Also, if you care more for the day to day part of planning without doing much of the goal setting or prepping I’ll recommend using another planner.

This planner costs $17.49.


2. Shining Year workbook by Leoni Dawnson 

I purchased Leoni’s  whole package. I wanted to mainly explore the Shining year in life and the Shining year in business. There are many favorite things about this planner. I love how Leoni makes every bit about planning super visually attractive and inspiring. She is very creative when illustrating all the goal setting prompts. It makes you get into a hands on creative planning mode. I also love how after each area she gives tons of amazing resources to go even deeper into exploring and learning about that area of your life (or business). The planner is mostly hand drawn. Nothing is boring about this planner.

The big difference is that most planners will ask a question such as: What habits do you want to cultivate this year? next to a blank area for your answer. In Shining year, Leoni asks the question and gives you a playground space to answer. A page filled with illustrations that represent ideas of habits that you can cultivate plus fun areas to fill in with your own habit ideas. The reminder and ideas are key for me on these planners.

The whole set comes with a day to day workbook and other fun stuff. I wasn’t too fond of the day-to-day planner mainly because of the size and it needed more details for my style of planning. Another plus is that Leoni shows the whole book on her website. A lot of times, the planner creators don’t show their product very well, understandably because a lot of people abuse of their kindness and steal their work. However it’s hard for the buyer to buy a planner that you don’t know how would it look on the inside.

This planner was definitely created with the creative woman in mind. It’s super colorful and feminine. I recommend the Shinning Year workbooks over the daily planners and over the downloads. It’s a special experience to plan directly onto the original book.

This bundle of planners costs $64.95.



3. Dream Book 

I didn’t purchase the Dream book this year (because it was sold out) but I’m completely in love with it. I spent a ton of time looking at the working pdf sheets and I think this planner is a masterpiece. I love the fact that you can purchase the dream work separate from the planner, although I will choose to have it together. The simplicity of the design is beautiful as well. One of my favorite things about this book is that it does many of the thinking work for you. It gives handy dandy prompts to not forget things that we commonly forget. Their website and planner contains very easy to understand worksheet diagrams so you know how to fill in each area of the book.

You can purchase a downloadable pdf from their website in case you want to get started today. I would say all their books (and specially the dream book) can be use any time of the year.

This book is for those who forge rituals. The men or women hoping to balance their physical, spiritual and mental life while arriving at their dream goals.

This planner costs $45.00.



4. Inner Guide Yearly planner 

This is the planner I’m using this year! The set up is a mix of personal and business life with an emphasis on self guidance. I don’t like the cover design much (well I’m a designer you know, this things are important ;-) but I love the simple layout and the way this whole book was thought through. The goal setting part at the beginning is light but profound. On the weekly spread there are tons of bits that inspire me and motivate me. A different “staying on track quote” every week. A being present diagram that reminds me of what areas of my life I’ve been connected in a meaningful way. It has space for ideas, reflections, to-do lists, priorities and an area to “be grateful for …”

This planner balances perfectly my right and left brain while keeping me focus on setting goals based on my feelings and inner guidance.

This planner costs $25.95.



5. inkWELL Press planner by Tonya 

Beautifully designed. Their branding it’s cohesive and impressive. Even though I haven’t held one of these planners in my hands I can tell from their website videos that the quality of these books is gorgeous. They really went the extra mile finding beautiful patterns for their cover and creating a masterpiece in the inside layout.

This planner is for the overall chic women in life and in business. Besides the goal setting areas and the day to day planning, it has prompts that no other planner has such as a list helper for gift shopping, an area to write down the books and movies you are looking into reading/watching next and a monthly bill tracker. There is an option to just get the planning book every quarter (also beautifully made) and they even have more planning books on meal prepping and fitness. Clearly getting this planner will not be a waste of money.  Now all you need is to find out if the style matches your needs.  This last step is very easy because their website is packed with videos and tools to help you know their products well before you buy.

This planner costs $54.00.


So after writing this post I’m curious about the way you plan for a New year.  What type of planners do you use? Did you buy one recently? I would love to hear about what you liked in this list and if you are planning to purchase a planner soon what are the things you look for in a planner?

Happy New Year everyone!!! We can’t wait for 2016 to start. We know it will be a year filled with much more creative abundance and financial prosperity!!


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7 Awesome Tools of the Trade that We Can’t Live Without

We are always thinking how essential some of the tools we use are. As creative entrepreneurs that work from home there are specific tools that make our everyday flow easier, leaving us with more time and energy to be creative. This list contains all of our essential productivity tools. Believe us, these 7 tools of the trade are things that we can’t live without!



boomerang-for-gmailBoomerang: Top favorite! Boomerang for Gmail lets you schedule emails for those cases where you don’t want people to know you are sending emails at 1am. Future emails can be sent today through the scheduling features.

Another amazing Boomerang feature is that it allows you to return an email to the top of your inbox (hint the brand name Boomerang). You can “boomerang” an email you sent or received, at a specific time and date as a reminder. This is the best tool out there for when you need to remind yourself to follow up on something in the future.


Boomerang also offers the Boomerang Google Calendar extension. This app makes all date related words within emails become clickable so you can add them to your calendar easily. It also offers great tools for scheduling meetings and it makes it easy for a group of people to decide a meeting day, even if they don’t have Gmail or Google Calendar. If you were only going to pick one of these tools it would have to be this one!


unrollme-logoUnrollme: This is a great app that helps you manage your email subscriptions (aka newsletters). When you subscribe to unrollme, you grant the app to go into your email and identify all your subscriptions. Then the app walks you through a re-selecting stage where you choose which subscription you still want. If you choose to roll it, that means it will be included in the daily roll – an email you get with all your subscriptions. The daily roll is so EASY to see.


It has a clear and simple graphical view of all the subscriptions you receive in one day. You can choose at what time you would like to receive it. I choose to read my roll at night. I presume most people like it in the morning. Thanks to this app my inbox is clear of clutter. Even though it is clutter I want, I like to be organized and see it only once a day please. Thanks Unrollme! Simple ideas that make a difference.


Web Productivity Help

textexpander-logoTextExpander: When I first heard about TextExpander I thought I really didn’t need it. But let me tell you we all need TextExpander. You install this app on your desktop and you will use it to program keyword shortcuts that will expand into your most used words and phrases. I created shortcuts to my most visited websites, my most used phrases, to correct my most common typos and of course for all my main identity wordage such as name, address and so on. TextExpander has some very useful integrations for the entrepreneur. For example you can create bitly links without having to go to the bitly website. If you work with code often it has all the shortcuts for html and css integrated.





trello-logo-blueTrello: If you are a planner you need Trello. Trello lets you make infinite numbers of boards which hold infinite numbers of lists. Each list hold cards and in those cards you can add all sorts of information. Trello is full of infinite possibilities for personal planning, for team planning, for project managing and for scheduling. It will be easier if you start using it than me trying to explain it. All I can say is that I have almost 30 boards at the present moment. Oh, and it’s addicting and free.




Social Media Help

Feed eradicator: This is a Chrome extension that goes into your Facebook and substitutes the main timeline for a productivity quote. It allows you to do everything else on Facebook except see the timeline. You can post on your timeline, write and respond to messages, go to your groups and even chat. After I started using this app I was blown away about how many times I would click on the “home” button almost by inertia. With this app I can go in there and use my social media time wisely without getting hooked into the endless timeline scrolling.




Keeper_(Password_Manager)_LogoKeeper: I’ve used a number of password manager apps and this one is my favorite. They have a free version, but I’m now into my 4th year of using the paid version (because I want to have the app on 3 devices) and I love it. Logging into websites has never been so easy and smooth. This app also allows you to keep an import file and you can have shared passwords or files with someone else. If you have your passwords covered you might skip this one, but if you don’t I recommend it 100%. Also make sure you change your main passwords often. I like using phrases that remind me of my short term goals.


Website/Blogging Help

rapidology-logoRapidology: We recently discovered this tool and used it right away on our licensing website. This is a WordPress extension that allows you to have all sorts of different types of newsletter opt-ins. It’s very easy to use and it has plenty of different options to choose from. Our website is new and we haven’t collected emails with it yet but the reviews about this tool are really good. It’s made by LeadPages which is another of my favorites.




ommwrite-logoOmmWriter: This is a writing environment that separates you from all other applications opened in your computer. You can use it with a calming background music or no music if you want. It helps you concentrate on the writing, so there is nothing else to format but just write. You can leave all your applications opened but this writer acts like you went to another room in your same computer and shut the door! Very helpful!


What does your list of awesome tools of the trade look like? We’d love to hear your experiences with other tools, or if you’ve used any of these, let us know, are they on your “can’t live without this!” list?

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Know your strengths and flaws before attending a Conference


Conference season is over for us.  It was an amazing season and I personally learned so much! about the industry and about myself. I met new people and got my motivation levels back to “very high”.

Instead of doing a recap of our last 2 conferences we attended and presented Latism and Blogalicious, I want to tell you about how I had a revelation on how important it is to be very clear about your strengths and flaws before attending a conference.

Help others with your strengths:

Strengths are personality qualities that benefit you and everyone you come in touch with at the conference. They come natural to you. They are part of your character and you never even think about them or doubt them. Consciously and intentionally use them as a gift for other, without expecting nothing in return. Ask yourself. How can I help and give to this space and people during this event? Hopefully that answer will guide you to “what” and subsequently to the “how”. Below are my 3 main strengths and how I feel benefit those around me.

Public Speaking:
I love teaching and sharing what I know. I get beyond excited to have the space to speak about what I love doing. This benefits the audience at the conference because a confident, motivated and uplifting speaker creates an effective environment for learning. I infuse my talks with my honest and genuine ideas and experience and care about what you’ll be taking home from my session.

Selling my business services:
All you have to do is ask me the magic question. -So, what do you do? for my magic to begin. I don’t talk forever, no worries. Yet you’ll know exactly what we do and how we can help you. It’s definitely beneficial to find people like this at a conference, because it breaks the ice for  to also talk about what you do and connect better with whom you are networking. A wonderful collaboration can definitely come from a dialogue that starts here.

Keep a positive attitude:
A good attitude makes the present moment always better. Conferences can be logistically tiring, overwhelming and confusing. Since there are a lot of people in the same track, the collective energy can get heavy at times. I’m a good neutralizer and can even uplift a collective thought at times. Positive thinking benefits all of us enjoying the conference. Having a positive anchor  when it’s challenging to see anything positive about a given situation can be key to keep your mind open, learn more, get to the right people, enjoy your time, be vulnerable and the list goes on and on.




Help yourself overcome your flaws: Flaws are habits in your personality that don’t serve your life, your overall business purpose nor helps or inspires people around you. Set up a clear conference goal. Show up knowing the main 3 flaws in your personality that could be obstacles to reach that goal. And must importantly have an action plan to overcome them using the situations and circumstances in a conference as a practice arena.

Network outside of my comfort zone: God knows this doesn’t come natural to me. Once I’ve dragged and pushed myself to do it the rest is fun. The challenging part is that split second when you have to choose to eat , sit or hang out with a new person instead of the people you already know.

My action plan is to cordially approach (using will power :) new people. My goal is to connect with 2 new people a day during the event. By connect I mean, really connect, listen, ask questions, talk about how we can benefit each other, consciously memorize their name and what they do, and only consider it a connection if at the end of my conversation I feel that sending them an email after the event will come genuinely and natural to me and not awkward and forced.

Stay focused: Well with so many things happening between events and sessions within events of this magnitude, it’s easy to forget what are you there for. Is it to learn? or to make more connections? is it to scout new collaboration projects? Is it to figure out what you will like to present next year? what is it?. Confession: I get super distracted and for a moment I think I’m there to chat my life a away and make new girl friends. Well, I know this is a normal symptom of an isolated entrepreneur, yet my action plan needs to bring me back to focus and reality. There is a lot of energy, time and money we invest in these conferences, being clear about the larger goal helps everyone manifest an ROI.

Our goal is to educate ourselves, learn and implement what we learned in other sessions. Making notes and keeping them clear and handy for a quick review after the conference works great to achieve that goal. Making our presentations better every time is another of our goals. Asking our audience for feedback and going to other sessions to write down what we think works or doesn’t, helps us brainstorm and implement new skills and add-ons into our on presentation.

Gadgets are very important: Somehow this lesson seems to be so hard for me to get. I know it so well in theory but I can’t prioritize it enough in my life. The consequences are bad. My phone is out battery all the time, if I bring an extra battery or charger I leave it in the room. I don’t want to carry with my laptop (which is borrowed), but I always need it. I forget to bring the chrome book (which is borrowed as well). I don’t have a professional camera, so my photos are all coming from my cellphone (when it’s charged) Complete disaster!

However, thank God, my sister is the total opposite so, I rely on her to save me. My action plan? well here it is: To have a new cellphone and new wireless charger with a tablet for the next conference. To always have it with me and never leave it in my room ;-). I’ll cover the camera and other apps after the first step is taken.

These are my strengths and flaws, (some of them I should say) which are your? 

Share below to learn from each other, and prepare better for 2014 conference season!

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Bloggers Conference Season


Above photo taken by Patrice Saint-Louis Photography

This has definitely been the busiest season for bloggers. At list for us it is, we have 2 more conferences to go and we are very excited!!

The Niche Parent last week was an opportunity to keep learning, reinforce already good relationships and attract new relationships and connections.

It was also about learning more about our customer. Specially, about what all you bloggers out there are eager to learn in the area of photo editing and graphics for your blog. We took notes and soon we’ll be ready to surprise you with an amazing new service and products.

I loved our session. It’s such a fulfilling experience to share and teach your knowledge to others. See what we were teaching about during the conference here

We put together a little photo collage recap of our experiences at the Bloggers Conference below. Enjoy!


We are off to Latism yay!!!!


If you are in NYC please stop by to visit us or let us know how to find you. We’ll be participating as panelists this Friday in a session about “The Business of Storytelling”

Are you thinking about heading to any conferences this year?

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Heading to our Second Bloggers Conference in 2013


A little note to keep you updated in our endeavors. We are heading back to the East Coast for our second bloggers conference in 2013!! The Niche Parent Conference 2013. By the way, did I mention we designed the conference logo? if you like you can see more of our work here

We were in Miami for our first conference of the year back in April, you can read more about how that went here and you can also read about how I prepare my wardrobe for Conferences here, and lastly if you are still doubting about showing up for one of these amazing events I suggest you read my post about “Why should you attend a conference”.

Anyways, we are teaching a very cool workshop for bloggers and entrepreneurs this Saturday at 10:30am. If you are in the area please come by to say hi! meet new people and learn amazing things for your business and blog

What will you be teaching exactly?

Great question! Understanding that images and photos are the key to your blog. This class will teach you how to take your blog to the next level by applying some tips and tricks that will be shared live using Picmonkey to make your photos and collages more attractive.

Make sure you bring your laptop to practice with a hands-on assignment if you can.

We will be demonstarting and teaching about 5 main practices

• Best practices to enhance and crop your photos

• Learn which fonts go with what?

• Learn to create collages your readers want to stare at.

• Applying banners that harmonize with your collages or photos perfectly.

• Learn to create great looking “pinnable” photos.

See you there!

Oh if you can’t make it share with us what would be what you would’ve want to learn the most?

and let us know if you would like us to share our class pdf curriculum with you!

ps: If you are not going to this conference, are you going to any other blogger conference in 2013?

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