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This week I celebrate 4 YEARS of being in business for myself!

Starting out on this new adventure, which was literally sitting down in a Chili’s with two friends (Amy & Brooke) and going through ideas and thoughts on what to develop as an initial portfolio, I gave myself 5 years.

In 5 years if I have gotten no where, no interest, and not moved forward, then I know I gave it my best shot. I would feel confident that it would be time to find a new direction.

I’m four years in… and I’m happy to say, I’m doing amazing things. I think it’s safe to say that this will be a life long love affair. I don’t call it a job, or a career, because it’s my passion. I l.o.v.e. what I do, and I feel privileged to say that because there are many that cannot. I’m beyond thankful for the support I’ve received from friends, family and my husband. They believe in me, and are there through all of the ups and downs to pick me up and say, “don’t worry, you’ll get ’em next time.”

I could go on and on about how wonderful everyone around me has been… trust me. But this post is more about what I’ve learned about HOW to be in business for myself for the last four years. I am by NO MEANS an authority on how to run a business and as it grows the way I run it will evolve, but I know what I’m doing at this moment, works for me. People will say, “oh working for yourself that must be SO AWESOME I wish I could work for myself,” and I think… you have no idea how hard it is. Some times, I will actually take a second to explain that I have a certain approach to each day and find that people are surprised and impressed! They think it’s all pajamas and sitting in bed all day… uhhhhh no. So to elaborate on that, I thought I’d share with you just a few strong suggestions little things I do, that don’t cost a lot, to keep this business moving forward every day.

1. A dress code. No pajamas here. Ever. You can’t get ANYTHING done when you’re in pajamas, or laying in bed. Trust me, I tried for like the first week of being in business… I got nothing done, except catching up on Zzzz’s and TV.

I find that when I get dressed, I feel confident, and when I feel confident I can get a lot done. I do my best to maintain a dress code for work every day, granted this is not like a corporate office. (I mean c’mon, I’m an artist, not an accountant.) I don’t think I own any actual business clothes… I’ve never really needed them. So my dress code for the lezleelliott office is what I call “cute casual.” I dress like I’m going out to meet a friend for drinks, girls you basically know what that means. Cute top, jeans/pants, cute shoes, and just the right amount of jewelry to look like you tried but not too hard. Here’s today’s look:


People are often surprised to find out that I get up and get dressed, but it’s something I’m proud of. This is a business, I treat it like one. Also, just as in most businesses, I have casual Fridays. I have one outfit I wear at the end of every week, and my husband refers to it as my “Friday outfit.” I look forward to that comfy gray shirt and jeans, it means I made it through another week and I can relax.

2. Have an agenda. It’s important to have Monday morning meetings at big businesses, to go over what needs to happen for the week, where everyone stands on current projects, and any new projects for the upcoming week/month. So, I have a “morning meeting” every day. I have a notebook (one of my lezleelliott notebooks, thank you) that I write in every day. Each day, on a new page, I write out my list of projects, “to-do’s,” and notes. I use my pink pen to check them off as the day goes on! I’m one of those people that jumps around the room enjoys checking things off lists.


This helps me stay on task. The hardest thing about working from home (for me) is that daily chores/to-do’s for the house get muddled into my work day sometimes. I know the dishes need to be done, or the laundry is overflowing, and my brain is telling me that I should just take care of it, real quick, it’ll only take a minute. Well… that minute turned into sixty and now I’m hungry and it’s almost lunch time, and once I eat and get started at my desk the day is already half over. So in order to get past that, I check-in with myself every morning at my desk, make my list and decide what gets tackled first.

Which leads me to…

3. Always look at the big picture. I not only go through each day deciding on what needs to be done for that day, but what needs to be done for the year.


I keep a yearly calendar right next to my desk so that I am required to look at it every day. I also cross off each day so I have a visual of how much of the year is gone, and how much I still have. This is SO important for me. In order to be prepared for each new year with new collections and presentations I have to start all the way back in June/July, and vice versa to be ready for June I have to start in January! Daily needs and assignments make the days go by quick, and not realizing where you are in the overall scheme of what needs to be done for the year can be a death sentence! Once, I had made it all the way to November and realized I hadn’t worked on ANYTHING new for January. That meant multidays for about a month, aka staying up for 36hrs. I’ll NEVER do that again, I immediately invested in dry-erase markers and a large calendar.

4. Stay organized. Part of utilizing a calendar and agenda is for the purpose of staying organized, but in addition to that, I try to keep the desk clean to keep my thoughts focused on my tasks at hand. I admit to being OCD… to a certain extent. I don’t require my tooth brush to be facing in a certain direction, but I have figured out that I cannot get ANY work done if my desk is a mess. It’s like my thoughts bounce around from one subject to another as my eyes bounce around my desk when its covered in paper or too much stuff.


During the course of the day, my desk gets messy… that is a given. New projects, notes from phone calls, sketches, drawings, mail, etc… things get pulled out and find a spot stacked on something else. It’s not something that can be helped. But at the end of each day, I take the last few moments to clear off my desk. This way, when I get down to the office to have my “morning meeting” it’s nice to look at, organized, and I actually want to get work done without distractions. (Yes, I try to drink a jug of water every day.)

5. Organize your work. This is something I did from day one. I have a filing system for everything I work on. I decided that if I ever had to hire someone to come and work for me, that they would need to know how to access files – just because I know where everything is, does not mean everyone will even though they should.


I love to organize my work just as much as I love to make lists. I have folders for everything you could think of.

For example:
COLL = Collections, where all new and existing design collections reside. They are also further organized into Illustrations vs. Surface Design, and I’ve provided myself a PDF for immediate reference into every collection created.

CORP = Corporate, any documents or corporate related files. Contracts, logos, tax information… you get the gist.

PIT = Pitch, this is where the magic happens. Presentations organized by product category, as well as by company. This is the only way I know to keep things straight… there is so much that happens within this folder on a daily basis it’s not even funny. And last…

6. Love your workspace. Last year when I got married and moved into my husband’s townhome he graciously gave me the basement to use as an office! Yay! So earlier this year, I decided to do something that would define this room as a separate space from the house by making it feel more like an office. For me it was as simple as adding a “wall” of bookshelves. Just a few cheap ones from Target… but it really made a difference.


It was functional in that my office closet was getting jammed with samples and I needed to store them somewhere, plus I wanted to see some of the great things I had worked on. (It reminds me that I’ve come a long way in 4 years, and now I get to show it off!) Also, I had alot of books and “stuff” that were being kept in the closet and the room just felt a little empty and lacking. I needed a décor element in the room to feel authentic, like I’m walking into the office of lezleelliott every day. So this was my solution!

It has really helped my motivation, and now it’s getting so full I need to start adding MORE bookshelves… I enjoyed decorating each shelf – which is now overflowing – carefully and deciding what to put where. A couple of my favorite moments are this shelf:


My paint brushes, a name plate that I received as a graduation gift from good friends, and a couple of my favorite licensed products. And this:

Details-Nail Polish

I use a crystal bowl that we were given by a very dear friend, Sara, for my nail polish/lotion. She and I have talked extensively about people who never use those really nice things like your wedding china, or crystal pieces that they receive at the time of their wedding. They get put in a closet and only pulled out on very special occasions. But she and I, have the mindset of enjoying using those pieces in our every day lives, if you love it, use it! I use one of our wedding china tea cups whenever I drink hot tea, not just because it’s a special day.

Reinforcing my dress code thought process, I also try to keep my nails looking nice. I’m completely embarrassed if there’s a chip in my nail polish… and when the polish is mostly gone and chipped away, I can hardly look at my fingers. So I’m constantly cleaning, cutting, or painting my nails. And sometimes a nail break is needed during the day, and I don’t mean broken nail, I mean a break to spiff up my nails. If slapping on a quick coat of paint makes me excited to get to work, I’ll do it. So, I keep my manicure goodies in this gorgeous bowl because, why not? It’s fun for me to look at and it reminds me of Sara every time I see it. I love it!

That about sums it up… By doing these small things every day I am proud of my little business. It’s important to me and feeling confident, knowing my agenda, keeping my eye on the big picture, staying organized and loving my work space make me a happy worker.

I like to think that if I hired someone, they would think “what a cool place to work!”

But until then, happy work anniversary to me!!! I can’t wait to see where I’m at in four more years!

I’ve got your answer! GET UP EARLIER!!!! Hah, well it’s not always that easy… but it does work.

I’m officially on day 2 of project “GET UP AND GET TO WORK.” I’ve got so much going on, there just can’t be any more getting up at 8… I’ve got my alarm set for 6 AM, and so far I’m doing alright. I got up yesterday at 6:15, and this morning at 6:30. I’m still in the process of training my body to get up at the first alarm… and telling myself that just because it’s dark out doesn’t mean it’s the middle of the night. It’s time to GET UP AND GET TO WORK! It does help that as soon as my mind re-enters consciousness that it starts going at a million miles a minute.

All of this started because Rob claimed I was messing up his sleeping patterns since I wasn’t coming to bed until 3 or 4AM. So now I’m working until about 10 or 11 at night and getting up at “6”, getting ready and working all day. I’ve gotten a good bit done so far, but there’s more on the table… of course.

I guess it’s a good problem to have – being busy – but man I just don’t know when it will slow down. If ever. And that’s probably a good thing. Let’s hope project “GET UP AND GET TO WORK” actually gets better… I’m thinking eventually I need to be getting up at 5:30!!! YIKES!

(Cartoon via “toothpaste for dinner“)

That could be what you’re asking yourself right now, considering it’s been about a week since I’ve written! Or not… :)

Ugh, I’m busy! Finally got a contract signed and now it’s CRUNCH time to get the work done. So I’ve been drawing for 8 hours today… ouch. My hand is going to fall off! PLUS now that I have an agent I have to get my work into presentation central and quick so that manufacturers have time to get this stuff made! I’ve given myself a deadline, and I’m hoping, praying, that I can meet it!

AND I have my friend’s bachelorette party this weekend, it’s the entire weekend. So that’s 3 days I don’t have… That cuts a good bit of time out when you’ve only got a week and a half!!! Just hope I can get it all done cause timesatickin’ and fast.

On a side note, it was my birthday yesterday! I’m 27… nothing great to celebrate there. And let me tell you, it is FRUSTRATING having to get my emissions and go to the tag office on my birthday. I know you can do it beforehand but that’s why it’s called pro-cras-tination. Another year is here and like my friend Laura said, “all good things from here on out.” :)

So I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t written in quite a bit, but it’s because I’ve been on vacation! We came down to our favorite little spot in Inlet Beach for a week and a half. Don’t worry, I’m still working while I’m down here, there’s just too much going on not to have my work available.

But I have great news to write about when I get back! I just wanted to assure you that I’m still working my butt off and I’m starting to see the results ;)

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend everyone!