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Currently: May 2015

Hey, friends! Where in the world did the time go? It’s currently the first of may, and it’s been a bit since I’ve had activity on this little space. Rightly, so, I must say. It’s been a crazy couple months. I’m graduating.

I’m graduating.

It’s hard for me to believe it. I just had to say it twice for effect. From job searching, to portfolio reviews, to follow-up emails, to finishing classes, to finals, to wanting to give up, to realizing it’s way too late in the game to give up, to leads, and non-returned emails. Man. Can I just say it’s exhausting trying to ‘get your life figured out’?

The pending graduation date is slowly creeping around the corner, reminding me ‘Hey! You still don’t know what you’re doing with your life!’. It’s scary. And slightly depressing. But you know what, it’s also exciting, and I’m trying my best to stay positive, and realizing that there really is an incredible life and future awaiting me that doesn’t consist of semesters or grades, or part-time jobs. It’s exciting and unknown and I’m having to push through and believe that the future is bright.

Who know’s where I’ll end up or what I’ll be doing. Honestly, who knows. But, ya know, I gotta trust that there’s purpose in this little life of mine, and I’m going to hold fast to the truth that I’m here for people more than I am a job or myself. It’s hard to remember that, when my thought life seems to only be ‘me, me, me’ but that reality keeps it all in perspective. And it let’s me breathe a little bit easier. And helps me see a little bit clearer. And thats the place I want to be in.

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Dreamers + Achievers: Kevin Frey of Puritan Brew Co.

Puritan Brew Company, though new to the town, has already made a heavy impact on the community of Fayetteville. As a coffee and beer destination, Puritan continues to be a gathering place both day and night for meetings, studying, conversation, a morning caffeine boost or a local beer spot to end your day. Personally, I have loved the addition of Puritan to our little town. I’m always welcomed by familiar faces when I step in the door, and have loved seeing the community that Puritan has cultivated. Kevin Frey, owner of Puritan Brew Company, has taken the time to share a little about his journey in opening up his own coffee + beer shop, the ups and downs of owning your own business, and fears he has conquered along the way.


1. Where did the idea for Puritan come from?

Ultimately Puritan came from the love of people. We wanted to see people come together over a quality drink and in a space that encouraged conversation.

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2. Have you always wanted to be a business owner?
I always wanted to do something that Im passionate about and that pushed me to be creative. I grew up with an entrepreneurial father who instilled a lot of wisdom and knowledge when it comes to the business world, so when dreaming about what I would do “when I grew up” the idea of being my own boss and making my own schedule didn’t sound too bad. So, I think in a way, I’ve always wanted to be a business owner.

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3. What are some things in your past, big and small, that helped you in the process of opening Puritan?
Watching important people in my life fail, get back up, and try again. I grew up watching my father truly believe in his businesses and put everything he had on the line to start them. There is a big step between dreaming and then actually doing. Im a dreamer, and by watching my father I saw first hand the courage it takes to actually step out and pursue your dreams.

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4. What are the most difficult and rewarding things about being a business owner?
I think those go hand-in-hand. There is nothing like the feeling of walking into a place that is “yours” or taking home a paycheck that comes from a place that you love and worked hard to build but on the flip side you have to make the tough calls, you have to fire people, you have to take the risks.

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5. What has been the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Every time I see my grandfather he says, “Do the best you can with what you have everyday and leave the outcome to the Lord.” – I don’t think there is a better piece of advice.

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6. What encouragement or advice would you give to others who have dreams of opening up their own business?
Surround yourself with people that are smarter, older, wiser and more blunt than you. If I wasn’t surrounded by people that know more than me and that have more life experience than I do then Puritan would not exist.

Also, it’s so important that failure is acknowledged as an outcome but that can’t get in the way of your dreams. We had to see it through, even if we fell straight on our faces, because we believe in it. We believe that people enjoying conversation, a quiet corner, a cold beer, a good book, a delicious cappuccino, whatever, is worth the risk. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.

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7. Best memory of Puritan so far?
We are surrounded by an incredible group of friends and family and without them Puritan would not have been possible, but seeing strangers catch the vision of Puritan has been the most rewarding thing. I remember about three weeks after we opened looking around and realizing that I only knew 1 of the 40 or 50 people inside. That was an amazing feeling.

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8. What is your definition of success? Success is getting to do what I love. I know that may be cliche but that’s the truth. There is nothing better than getting to do what you are passionate about.
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Website Launch!

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Yay! The day is finally here! Blake Reynolds Creative has finally launched! On my website you’ll find a little information about my background and education, samples from my portfolio, photo galleries, and more! Super excited to get my ‘career’ going (job searching now, cough cough), so feel free to share with friends who need a little help in their creative department! Woo!

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Dreamers + Achievers: Maura Griesse of Maura Dawn Photography

Born & raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Maura Griesse has made her mark on Northwest Arkansas, both as a photographer and an active member in the community. From a young age, Maura has been passionate about photography, and is using that passion to fuel her business, Maura Dawn Photography. Maura has roots in NWA, specializing in family, portrait, wedding, and fashion photography, but has recently expanded her territory and influence globally, shooting for Dubai Fashion Week and Judith & James in Kenya. Maura has an incredible gift, and has stewarded it exceptionally well, impacting the lives of the people she works with every day. Today, she’s here to share some of her experiences in running her own business.

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1. When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer?
When I was in the 9th grade. I became the photo editor of the Ramay Jr. High yearbook staff. Haha. But seriously. Ever since then it was my dream to become a professional photographer.

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2. What we’re some of the small, difficult steps that you had to walk in order to get to where you are today?
Goodness. I’m not the most business minded or administratively gifted person. So that has been a struggle and HUGE sharpening experience for me to learn to do it well.

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3. What are the main ways you have changed as a photographer from the first time you started your business until now?
My style has changed and evolved into something I am completely proud of. For the beginning of most amateur photographers “careers” it’s incredibly hard to not copy or compare yourselves to other successful professionals. It was so important to me even as a 19 year old to not copy another artist. It made it harder at the start but I love that I can proudly say I started my business honestly. My style wasn’t the cleanest, pretty posey and very saturated. As I grew I became more confident in how to work my camera and with that my individual style blossomed.

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4. What are some of the most difficult and rewarding things about working for yourself?
One of the most rewarding things about working for myself is having the freedom to shoot whenever I want. Whether it’s just for fun by myself or a shoot for a client. I’m the one that makes my schedule. So much freedom. It is an amazing blessing to get to run your own dream job, especially at my age. Trying my hardest to not take it for granted. One of the most difficult things about working for myself has been time management. See how those both go hand in hand? Vicious cycles can ensue if I’m not careful. Still learning how to do this better.

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5. What do you love about photography?
I love capturing that one magical perfect moment.. Over and over. I LOVE meeting new people and hearing their stories. I just love people in general. And love talking. I love that feeling knowing I have helped make my client comfortable and confident in front of the camera. I also love Jesus and He is truly the reason my business is successful and my clients are comfortable.

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6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Pray before each and every shoot. Helps calm me down and focus on the One who gave me this gift. This helps me be less prideful by placing The Lord before myself. He guides me on shoots. Thank goodness.

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7. What advice would you give to others wanting to do freelance work full-time?
This is the hardest job to have if you are wanting a perfectly consistent salary. Especially starting out. Keep your mind open and money managed to help get you through the slower months. If this is something you feel called to do then be bold and tackle it head on. Don’t do it halfway. If you’re making this your full-time job then put in the full-time hours. It is really easy to let the day slip into nothingness when you don’t have the accountability to punch a clock. Own it and do it well.

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*Side Note
: I must say, I’m a big fan of Mrs. Maura Griesse. She’s my boss, and one of the sweetest, selfless, intentional people I’ve ever worked with & known. Thanks for being great, Maura. I’m continually learning from the way you do life, faith, and business. Love ya x

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Dreamers + Achievers: Trisha Logan of Shindig Paperie

Trisha Logan is a wife, mom, designer, and small-business owner out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her store, Shindig Paperie is an eclectic shop filled with beautiful prints, stationery, and various paper goods. In addition, Shindig offers a variety of invitation design services for brides, events, and more. Trisha and her shop have made a beautiful mark on downtown Fayetteville (and Bentonville!), and today she is here to share her story.

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1. How did Shindig Paperie begin? I was working as a designer/creative director for a paper company that was experiencing a lot of change. My good friend, a sales rep in the paper/gift industry, and I sat around and talked into the wee hours of the evening several times about opening a dreamy little paper shop in Fayetteville until we finally decided to bring our ideas into reality. A great little affordable space off Dickson Street came open and we had 48 hours to decide if we wanted to take it, and we did. Thus, Shindig was born.

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2. What were some jobs you had before deciding to open Shindig, and how did they aid you in the process of opening up the store? I worked in apparel product development for a big box retailer, which was my first job out of graduate school. After taking maternity leave with my first child, I really didn’t relish the notion of returning to the corporate grind, and I lucked into a job working from home as a pattern/print designer for a paper company. I spent nine years with that company before opening Shindig. 

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3. How has the store evolved over the past couple years? Firstly, my business partner moved away 7 months after we opened and sold her interest in the store back to me, which was a major change. At that time I decided to leave my job and focus on Shindig full time. We also moved from our original tiny location to our current one on Block Street. Currently, we’re opening our second location in Bentonville. We are opening that shop on April 3rd and are super excited about it! 

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4. What are the most difficult and rewarding things about being a business owner? Time management is the most difficult, without a doubt. I wear so many different hats, just as a business owner, and that’s not even touching on my responsibilities to my family. It’s extremely hard to juggle all of the different roles. Conversely, that’s also probably one of the most rewarding aspects: juggling all those roles, being my own boss, and getting to shape the vision for Shindig.

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5. Best memory with Shindig so far? Being a part of so many people’s momentous occasions. Weddings, births, birthdays and celebrations are awesome events that lead to a lot of excitement. It’s an honor to get to hear their life and love stories, which are all so different.  

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6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? A friend of mine recently told me, “Just focus on the excitement and it will drive the success.” That’s really helped me to get through the process of growing the business. There’s a lot of self doubt and stress and worry that comes with growth and change, but so much of that doubt is unproductive. It’s way more productive to stay positive and enthusiastic.

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7. What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time? Free time? What’s that? Okay, that was a totally cliche answer, but I seriously don’t get a whole lot of free time. When I do, of course I spend time with my family. We try to leave town on weekends that I don’t work. My boys both love music, art and anything involving the outdoors so our weekends usually involve those activities. If we stay in town and at our house, work tends to find me. I also love design research through print/magazines, online or popping in shops and galleries/museums whenever I am on the road. 

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8. How do you stay creatively inspired and motivated? I’m not always creatively inspired or motivated. There’s a natural ebb and flow for creativity, and I think that recognizing that cycle is healthy. I’d like to say there’s a perfect way to stay motivated and creative, but there’s really not. I guess the important thing is to really embrace the times when you’re feeling motivated and creative. Maximize the potential of those times. The other times, just slog away at it. You never know when inspiration might strike, but it’s not going to strike if you’re not open to it.

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9. What is some encouragement or advice that you would give to others who are thinking of one day opening up their own small business? Stay true to your vision. Don’t get wrapped up in competition and what other businesses are doing. Also, be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to address those deficiencies.

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thought life.

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite the lack of inspiration. It’s been pretty cold and gloomy here, keeping me indoors, which I feel like can keep you in a box, far from creativity. Now’s the time, if ever, to keep creativity and inspiration flowing.

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Do you ever go through these dry patches in your creativity or inspiration? I know it’s an ebb and flow for me. How do you keep yourself from getting burnt out? How do you embrace seasons where creativity is lacking? 

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Here are a few ways I’ve learned to keep myself inspired, or to be okay with seasons that lack in creativity:

Be Present: Often times, it’s easy to overlook our day to day routine as a place for inspiration. We get used to the people, colors, things around us. Sometimes, all you need is a fresh perspective on what’s right in front of you.

Explore New Places: I love taking trips to new places. It’s such a fun way to be inspired, meet other creatives, and just see what all the world and people have to offer. However, traveling isn’t always the most affordable or realistic option. Luckily, our own cities are filled with places we’ve never heard of or been to. I know for me, I’ve lived in Fayetteville for 4 years, and there’s still SO much left to uncover. Going to new places right where you are is an affordable way to have the same inspiration affects of traveling!

Do Something Creative, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It: It’s so easy when you’re in a creative slump to just push off that side of you. The best way to combat a lack of creativity is to make a constant effort to channel even a LITTLE part of your creativity. Maybe it’s doodling, maybe it’s taking time to style an outfit in a new way, or maybe it’s as simple as changing up your daily routine.

Let The Internet Be Creative For You: Even if we feel uninspired, inspiration and creativity is at our fingertips with the beautiful use of the internet. For me, browsing through my favorite blogs, Pinterest, or digital magazines helps me get inspired. It’s amazing how other people’s creativity can spur you on into your own.

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How do you stay inspired when you’re in a creative rut?

Photo by Eric T White

Currently: March 2015

Hey Friends! February has officially come to a close and I’d say it was a pretty good one. I had such a fun time with the LOVESTRUCK Sessions, and got great feedback on them. I’m evaluating if those are something I should continue regularly or just keeping them an annual series. I had one of my favorite Valentine’s day I’ve had in a while with my guy, got snowed in quite a few times, had friends come into town, and took a trip to Tulsa to see some of my best friends. I’d say it was a success. It’s crazy that it is already March. This week starts the 10 week count down until graduation. Yikes!

What I’m Listening To: First Aid Kit + Johnathan David & Melissa Helser,

What I’m Reading: Nothing at the moment. Any book recommendations?

What I’m Working On:  Currently working on building up my website and new online portfolio! I’m hoping to be launching it by the end of this month, so keep your eye open for that!

What I’m excited for: Spring Break is coming up in just a few short weeks, and I’m so excited to be back in Dallas, spending time with family, and doing a little resting up before job hunting starts post break!

March’s Goal: Get that website done!