Thursday, November 18, 2010

Somewhere Splendid {Exclusive Interview} & Giveaway Winner

Looking for advice on improving your blog, making new relationships with other bloggers and building your following? How about discovering one of the best new blogs around? {and the Le Petit Giveway Winner announced at the end of the post!}

{Image from Style at Home}

Then check out this interview, full of GREAT advice from a pro (and images found on her two blogs The Inspired Bride, and Somewhere Splendid).

                                       { Image by Michael Haug; prop styling by Kirki Schultz; food styling by Maddy Hague}

Last week I had the privilege of featuring an interview with Maddy and Jess of Nonpareil Magazine.

                                                              {Images from Twirlie Whirlies}

This week, I am happy to share with you a great interview with Maddy regarding her blog The Inspired Bride, and her newest venture {one you will likely love!} Somewhere Splendid!

                                                                     {Images from Nicole Hill Gerault for One Charming Party}

{Question}Tell us a little a
bout yourself, editor of Somewhere Splendid, The Inspired Bride, and an editor at Nonpareil Magazine?

{Answer} My name is Maddy Hague. I'm an art director and graphic designer based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I'm originally from New York (Queens, then Long Island), and I went to school at Rhode Island School of Design.

 I met my husband there on Orientation Day, and we started dating a couple of months later. We both graduated with BFAs in Graphic Design.

We have two Bengal cats named Marlowe and Jocko who are an absolute handful but are also the sweetest, most social cats you'll meet. We bought our first home at the end of July, and we're slowly starting to make it our own!

                                                               {Image by Maddy Hague}   

{Question} You have a background in design; how has that helped you with your work for these two blogs and online magazine?

{Answer} It's a huge help. Stong graphic design skills are really invaluable in designing websites, and certainly for an online magazine. Hiring a freelancer to do that work for you adds up quickly, so being able to do the work is a huge savings... but there's also a pride that comes along with it. When a layout or a web design is well received, it's great to know that it came out of your head. You made it.


                     {table by Shauna Younge; shot by Tricia Little of Sweet Shibui Photography}

{Question} What inspired you to launch your newest venture, Somewhere Splendid, in August 2010? Is there a story behind the title?

{Answer} When the Inspired Bride started picking up, Devon (my husband) and I were looking to extend into other areas we really were interested in. We knew we were buying soon, so home decor and DIY seemed natural.

I was really firm that it should be about all things nesting, and so it should include cooking and entertaining as well. Devon thought that was too much to take on for one blog. I won out, as you'll see on the blog, by arguing that was really what would make the blog unique. Of course, I'm also the primary editorial voice on the blog, so I trumped him anyway!

                         {Images from Sparkles Kitchen;  recognize the madeleines from our mermaid party?}

We wanted to extend the Inspired brand and were going to use the Inspired Nest, but it was taken by another blog that was pretty much inactive. Its existence, though, made trademark claim iffy, so we moved on and tried other Inspired [word] combinations. Most of them were either too home decor related, or too entertaining related, or just didn't sound right together. It definitely wasn't falling into place in the way easily the way that the Inspired Bride's name did.

                              {Images from Have It Sweet; look for one of these sweets in an upcoming signature party!}

 Flash forward through about a month of going back and forth, and ultimately I just ended up building a list of words that I liked that I also felt described the brand I was trying to build. "Splendid" was at the top of the list, and I immediately jumped to "Somewhere Splendid" - as I repeated that out loud, it felt right. It felt all-encompassing. I shot it over to Devon, and he liked it too - so we knew we found the title we were looking for.

                                  {Images from Cocoa Confections; recognize our Mermaid Party Swirly Pretzel Sticks here?}

 {Question} As both Nonpareil and The Inspired Bride are each very much wedding-related, what made you decide to branch out with Somewhere Splendid into other aspects of design and entertaining?

{Answer} Somewhere Splendid is definitely of a product of me growing beyond wedding style. Don't get me wrong - I still love looking at beautiful weddings! I think looking outside that really tight community helps me stay motivated and inspired for IB and NP, and in turn the wedding world lets me bring a different perspective to general entertaining and a lot of pre-existing knowledge.

{A, Blue and Green Swirl Pops from Candy Warehouse; B, Green Rock Candy Crystals from Oh Nuts!; C, Lime Green Mini Chocolate Balls from Candy Warehouse; D, Pastel Blue Sugar Candy Beads from Candy Warehouse; E, Blue and Green Twister Lollipops from Candy Warehouse; F, Light Green Rock Candy Sticks from Oh Nuts!; G, Light Blue Rock Candy Sticks from Oh Nuts!; H, Assorted Jelly Belly Flavors from ACandyStore; I, Very Berry Ribbon Candy from Oh Nuts!; J, macarons from Paulette Macarons; K, Light Blue Rock Candy Crystals from Oh Nuts!; L, Cookie from Better Bit of Butter.}

 {Question} As you know I style events for children. However, I find MUCH inspiration for children's party design from wedding design (not to mention I just love weddings!). How have you found Nonpareil Magazine and The Inspired Bride influencing other aspects of design and inspiring people other than those just looking for help with their wedding? How might readers look at these publications beyond a white dress and centerpiece ideas?

 {Answer} I think it's almost a necessity for event stylists and designers to read wedding blogs and publications, even if they don't work on weddings. I see this in my work on the blogs as well as my full time gig as an art director - Moms that grew up in the post-Martha wedding era are taking the style and craftiness of their wedding days and are now bringing that into their next life stage - whether it's details in the nursery (I've seen bunting and paper pom poms everywhere), birthday parties (dessert tables galore!), or even everyday living.

                                 {Images from Better Bit of Butter; one of our preferred vendors, too!}

A lot of our contributor requests come from people who are more on the general entertaining side, so I'm not alone in seeing the influence of the wedding community on everyday parties.

   {images from Bake It Pretty; one of our preferred sponsors!}

I think the best thing for party planners to do when looking at wedding blogs for inspiration is to save images with details to you like to image bookmarking sites like Tumblr or Pinterest for future reference.

                                           {Images from Paulette Macarons}

I think it's a lot easier to translate isolated details, particularly for non-professionals. It's also easier to craft your own event when you've got the pieces, but not the finished puzzle!

                                      {Images from Rosanna; recognize the Dauphine candlesticks from our Mermaid Party?}

{Question} Dessert tables are a very popular trend right now with children's parties, and I feel that they originated at weddings. Do you have any favorite dessert table features shown on The Inspired Bride, Somewhere Splendid or Nonpareil Magazine that you believe my readers might be able to use as a source of inspiration for their next baby shower, christening or birthday party?

 {Answer} My friend Shauna of Shauna Younge Dessert Tables always does lovely work - her purple and gray table is one of my all time favorites.

                           {dessert buffet designed by Shauna Younge found via the Sweetest Occasion}

 I designed a DIY Dessert Buffet feature last year on the Inspired Bride that also was (and still is!) very popular, with a wintery theme.

Of course, a certain designer's Mermaid Table featured here also blew me away!


{Question} Many times I am asked by bloggers what is important in designing a blog, developing a following, and maintaining the interest of your readers while capturing new ones. What advice do you have to give to those who are looking to start a blog on style, entertaining or design, or for those who may have a blog but want to improve it? What mistakes do you see made most commonly with blogs (possibly lessons learned from your own experience)? Any blog design tips or tricks?

{Answer} On designing a blog: it's important first and foremost to make every last graphic and piece of code yourself (or hire someone to do it for you). People like to take little bits and pieces from other blogs, thinking that if they throw it into Photoshop and change it slightly nobody will notice - this is NEVER the case, and it establishes a bad reputation for you and your blog (as in life, your reputation is one of the most valuable things in the blogosphere).

                                          {Image from Canvas and Canopy}

It is, however, important to study the blogs that to you have the best style and organization - and these may not always be the same blogs. Often the best looking blogs are not user-friendly at all, and vice versa.

                                       {Images from Kylie Lambert of Le Cupcake}

Above all else, be patient. Layouts take me ages to get right - fantastic looking designs don't happen overnight, whether you're just working on the graphics or finessing all of the coding.

                           {Image by Caroline Tran via Style Me Pretty}

 On building and maintaining a readership: Post everyday. It seems like a lofty goal sometimes, but you need to prove that you're taking it seriously. It's easy to appear to not be dedicated to your blog and to your readership (think of all the blogs you've come across feeling that way).

                              {Images by Michelle-Leigh Photography for Style Me Gorgeous}

Introduce yourself to bloggers you admire, but be sincere about it. We all get many, many emails a day of people looking to promote their new or smaller blogs, and 99% of them contact us barely knowing anything about us. I've been called "Blogger". I've been called "Mandy". I've been called other bloggers' names. Take the time to know me, know what you like about the blog, and know if my readership would find your blog of interest (I probably won't add a blog on fishing to my blog roll, in other words). Don't create a copy and paste email to all of your bloggers, either - or even worse, send a mass email out with everyone BCCed!

{A, Daisy Sugar Cookies from Eleni’s; B, Yellow Rock Candy Sticks from Oh Nuts!; C, macarons from Paulette Macarons; D, Pink Rock Candy Crystals from Oh Nuts!; E, Pink and Yellow Swirl Lollipop from Candy Warehouse; F, Sweet Sunshine Petit Fours from Oh Nuts!; G, macarons from Paulette Macarons; H, Assorted Jelly Belly Flavors from ACandyStore; I, Pink 1″ Gumballs from Candy Warehouse; J,Yellow Rock Candy Crystals from Oh Nuts!; K, Pink Ribbon Candy from Candy Warehouse.}

{Question} Is there an all-time favorite event you featured on either of your blogs or in Nonpareil that you wish to share with us?

 {Answer} That's hard to say, because there really has been a lot of great work spread between the three projects. I do have to say that the work done for the newest Nonpareil is spectacular!

                                   {Images from Confetti System}

 {Question} What are your future goals for Somewhere Splendid?

 {Answer} I like to think one step at a time, so really I'm just focusing on building readership at the moment. I'd love to continuing building the Real Parties section and hopefully find some time this winter to get some of the house projects on my Splendid List of Things to Do under my belt so I can blog about them!

                                                              {Images from Call Me Cupcake}

 Shauna Younge and I also have some photo shoots with Emily Steffen  planned on the horizon, which I'm really excited about!

                                                                {Images from sweetpeatoadtots}

{Question} Do you have a secret to balancing life between your three publications, life at home with your husband and two cats, and keeping priorities in order?

{Answer} Honestly, there is no real big secret. At RISD, probably the biggest thing I learned was how to be efficient, multi-task and manage my time. I sleep very well (I get that question a lot), and though there are times that I'm incredibly stressed out, I generally have a good handle on it. I think it certainly helps that my husband also is a creative so he gets involved in my projects from time to time as I do with his. We also are big television and movie buffs so we can spend time together, even when I'm working (that's where the multi-tasking skill comes in...).

I do always make sure to take time for myself and us, though - you need decompression time, even if it's just taking a longer shower than normal so you can clear your head.

                                                     {Sarah Yates for Sitting in a Tree Events}

 {Question} Because we adore discussing and featuring stylish children's birthday celebrations, please share: how did you celebrate birthdays as a child? What is the most stylish child's party you have ever seen?

{Answer} My birthday parties were certainly not as inventive as a lot of them are today. Most of them involved some sort of creative activity - there were a few paint-your-own-pottery parties, and there were a few dance parties. There were quite a few sleepovers, and I think at one point I had a gymnastics party. As I got older into the teen age range I ended up throwing everyone's birthday parties with perfectly made appetizers and desserts - some people nicknamed me "Martha in Training". I even had a sweatshirt with that embroidered into it!

                                                                {Image by Jose Villa}

I don't know about the most stylish kid's birthday, but I think if I were a kid today, One Charming Party's Art Gallery Party would probably be the one I've seen recently that would be most up my alley, given my aforementioned birthday party tendancies.

                                                           {Images from Our Labor of Love by Heidi}

A *HUGE* thank you to Maddy for your sound advice and thoughtful responses to my interview questions. It has been a delight getting to know you better and learn from you.

If you haven't visited yet, I highly recommend you check out Somewhere Splendid...because, it is just that.

....AND NOW, the giveaway winner from the Le Petit sponsored fabulous giveaway....Kym! Kym, please e-mail as promptly as possible to accept your prize! Thank you and congratulations!!!!

{stay tuned....surprise giveaway coming tomorrow!}


ellie g said...

This was a COMPLETELY lovely interview. I thought the answers were so thoughtful and informative. And all that inspiration? The photos? And the colors! What is it about prettiness that makes me feel all warm inside? Anyway....that was a delightful way to start my morning. And I'm off to look at her blog. Thanks Kate (and Maddy!)

Christi Bennett @ pisforparty said...

This was such a great post Kate! I love hearing from other bloggers and she was so forthcoming. Thanks again!

Victoria said...

What a fun interview:) I love Maddy's work and seeing all her favorites in one place is great!

Kym said...

Thanks so much Kate and La Petit!!!

Mayra Rivera said...

I really enjoyed reading this post!