Tonight I tackled cleaning up my closet. This has been a constant source of anxiety for months. I’ve struggled to keep my life organized since I was about 12. Until then, I had a meticulously-organized bedroom that I’d take enjoyment in rearranging over and over into different combinations. The bed over by the window, the desk next to the closet, the dolls ordered by size leaning against the pillows. I’d sit with my Mom and leaf through the latest JCPenny catalog for some new bedding every year or so. I credit her for my interest in design, crafting and homemaking. We’d select a new pattern and then make a project of it. Matching paint and wallpaper would be on the list.

Then one day a friend came over to hang out. There were no doubt a lot of things happening in my life that contributed to my self-consciousness, but this one moment changed a lot of how I’d behave for years and years to come. I was just entering JR High School and kids were beginning to get overly aware of anyone different or odd and pointing that out first somehow took any attention away from them. Of course I understand this now, but at 12 all I could think of was how to avoid being different or singled out. Bullying is a terrible thing.

I was super proud of my color-and-size organized closet, short sleeves to long, dresses to pants, all in a cotton rainbow cascading through my superbly cared-for closet. My life was this bedroom. It’s where I spent my time reading, working out, plotting my next projects, seeking refuge from my parents and brothers. It was my sanctuary and it was an extension of myself. It contained so much of my dreams for my life and no matter what was happening outside that door (fighting, stresses about money, Grandma’s Alzheimers, Aunt Mary’s cancer, Mom’s daily migraines) I had this room where I could feel safe. This was mine, and organizing my closet reminded me that I had stability and value. I was good at this. I’d take special pride sharing my work with my family, unveiling just how different I could make the place look, using just my hands and my mind. We didn’t have cable or internet and I wanted to be away from everyone else, so this became a place where I had some autonomy, even if just for a bit.

My friend Andrea took one look at my closet, diagnosed me as “weird”, laughed at me and then went about telling me about her new step-mother. She spent about 20 seconds in total, but that moment changed me for over 20 years. My sanctuary instantly became a place of deep shame. I then took a long look around me, everywhere that anyone could see that things might be different or bad. My entire house became a source of embarrassment. My entire life, really. Everything from my Dad’s new car to my parent’s sofa needed to be better. They needed to be good enough to escape ridicule. In all fairness, this one moment was truly created by me, not Andrea, but the feelings were so overwhelming that I couldn’t escape them. I’m sad to admit that this focus and feelings of shame are still with me today. They’re less gripping now, especially since I’ve created a life so far away from where I grew up and also because I’ve been through enough experiences that I can now separate my feelings from what others think of me.

Between the years of 12 and 30, my closet became a messy mix of guilt, shame and too-many quick fix fashion items. I’d make my Mom buy me things despite knowing that we probably didn’t have the money for it. She’d feel really good doing it in the moment, and then immediately regret it when thinking of her credit card bill. I thought if I wore the right clothes, I could keep people liking me. I didn’t know what I owned, and cared little for the things I had. I certainly didn’t respect the sacrifice my Mom was making in purchasing me items I didn’t really need. It never occurred to me that I could just work, earn money, and buy what I wanted. I spent so much time in a cycle of wanting something, asking Mom, getting the item and immediately feeling shame over putting her in that situation.

Fast forward to this moment in my life. Breaking my old habits with “stuff” and redefining my relationship to it has been a gradual process that isn’t perfect all the time. I’ve finally found myself in an apartment I love surrounded by items I’ve carefully curated over the past 3 years of running a flea market. I started almost from scratch and donated much of what owned a few years back. And when Mom tries to buy me things, I humbly decline and instead ask if we can split a piece of pie and some conversation instead. The closet is more kaleidoscope than rainbow these days, and it’s still filled with much more than I could ever need, prodding me to re-think how fortunate I am to have a closet full of excess but also how little I realize it daily.

Why I spin.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I just walked in the door sweaty and a little shaky, with a sense of calm and clarity as well as a bit of a what-the-hell-just-happened feeling. The explanation- I’ve just finished my normal 5:30pm spin class with Katie Duffy at Harness Cycle. These dark-room, high-intensity music-blasting workouts tend to feel a bit like a mental break for me. There’s something about moving one’s body that focuses the mind, and is extremely cathartic for someone like me, the busy CEO of two growing companies. Looking around as I warmed up in the packed room, it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my experience in spin class for a while. There’s a feeling, known as a spin high, that instructors talk about as being a bit euphoric, and even if that’s not exactly what I’m experiencing, I certainly believe that focusing for 45 minutes solely on myself is a really good thing. No phones. No email. No to-do lists. No one looking for me. Just myself on a bike, music blasting and me being proud of what I’m accomplishing.

I began spinning just this past year, when I met my best friends Katie and Gina, who subsequently became instructors at Harness Cycle. They’re kick-ass people at home, on the spin bike, and basically in life in general. Cleveland sort of hand-delivered them to me through a series of events that at the time seemed pretty damn cruel but in retrospect built a lot of resilience, and left me with something that I needed- connection to people that admired and loved me unconditionally. So, I’m grateful for that experience daily.

During my rides, sometimes lead by Katie D, Katie M, Gina or even Harness founder, Annie, my inner monologue is so positive. These ladies are like life coaches on bikes. Their messages? You are enough. You are strong. You can do so much more than you think. They ask you to define your intentions and rely on your own strength. They blast their favorite songs and ride along right beside you. It feels a little spiritual, actually. Rides are broken up into about 11 songs, 11 moments to push myself and be proud of myself. It’s an intense workout, sure, but it doesn’t feel like I’m punishing myself or pushing myself to unhealthy limits. It’s the time I have with myself that I cherish. It’s the time I have a personal trainer up there making sure I know that I’m not alone in this push to the top of the hill. The rides and the instructors’ messages translate so well to life that it ends up feeling as much like a motivational speech as it does a workout. It’s the combination that’s so special.

I have to admit that rarely during my normal day of browsing facebook and instagram, speaking to my employees and collaborators, finalizing projects that were due yesterday do I have a positive inner monologue. Typically, I’m feeling like I haven’t done enough well enough. These 45 minutes with myself turn it around. I feel proud, even on days when I don’t think anything will work out. I think about this city and what joy it’s brought me, and I even have moments of clarity about my business and life that I can’t seem to find when I’m sitting in front of my computer screen. I feel gratitude for all that I have and a sense of purpose in the world again, that can so easily slip away from me when all I think about is the long laundry list of people to pay and things to do.

Whatever you do to step away and feel proud of yourself, do more of it. My challenge- continue the monologue outside the spin room, out there in the world.



I got a chance to sit down with my friend and client, Anne Hartnett, the founder of Harness Cycle, to chat about her business 2 years after her launch. We talked about her process of taking an idea and turning it into a full-fledged business that she ended up leaving her 9-5 to run.

You can find the episode here


Anne shared more than a few words of wisdom, but a few things stood out to me. First, Anne’s mission remained the same. From day one she knew that she wanted to create community around movement. Having a very narrow and solid mission has helped her in making decisions, choosing partnerships and even in selecting her brick and mortar location.




Anne also touched on the beginning of the build-out process of the spin studio. It always sucks when you think that disaster strikes. This could mean that a partnership falls through, or a client that you thought was totally on board, decides that they just can’t hire you now. In our case, we had to move the Flea almost overnight from our original East 55th location to our current Tyler Village spot. And you know what? It was one of the best things that could have ever happened to us. At the time it felt like a huge disaster, but just like Harness, we were able to learn a ton AND make a move that we truly needed.




We’ve all been there: you and your roomie decide you want to throw a dinner party / evening out / Sunday Funday and you get left coordinating AND cleaning up a party that actually wasn’t even that fun mostly because you had the lion’s share of the work and less of the fun. Hashing out all details of partnerships before you get into them can be really draining and time consuming, but having an honest, simple conversation about what you each expect to gain (and who’s responsible for what) can set the stage for a positive collaboration.





I know many aspiring to-be’s who have really great jobs. It turns out that you don’t necessarily need to leave a great gig to purse your passion– until it gets in the way of you putting yourself all in. While you’re vetting an idea, and writing a business plan, look to your current position in order to gain wisdom about what you might face as you jump out on your own. From company culture to file management, learning from your own company is a good way to sketch out how you might run your own company, if that’s a thing you’d like to pursue. As much as she loved her position within Hyland Software, Anne realized that if Harness was going to have the impact she was hoping, she’d have to step in full-time.

Catch other episodes of Small Batch Dispatch here. If you’d like to be a guest on the podcast, reach out to us via email at Stephanie{at}

Thanks friends!

Live free.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Yesterday I met with a client of mine, someone who is near and dear to me. She’s also a boss lady and a dream chaser. It’s so calming to my soul to be around people who understand me so deeply, and can tell me the things that I need to hear. She reminded me that I seek approval too much and that I’m too hard on myself. She reminded me to go in the path of least resistance, even if that path was not intended. She shared a story about how her business drastically changed this year because something fell through. After some time and reflection, this perceived negative turned into exactly what she needed.

Then I stumbled upon this video. It reminded me that even though I live my life differently, that I need to accept my resistance as an indication of following my own path. For instance, I’m pretty impulsive, and though I love structure in certain ways (business), I love freedom in my own personal life. I’m heading to Marfa this weekend for a friend’s wedding. However, I just booked my plane ticket on Sunday. I couldn’t figure out why I was so ‘irresponsibly’ putting off buying my ticket. It’s not like I wasn’t going to go. I had booked my tent / trailer situation at El Cosmico over a month ago, but for some reason I hadn’t booked my plane ticket just yet. I was really feeling kind of bad about myself, thinking thoughts like, “You’re so irresponsible,” and “You’re sabotaging this trip,” etc. But then I stumbled upon a Facebook post about Austin, and it instantly clicked. Instead of a quick weekend trip (believe me there’s nothing quick about getting to Marfa), I decided on a Texas road trip that will have me spending 6.5 hours alone in the car in the middle of southern Texas on a trajectory to one of the most creative cities in this country, which is exactly what I need right now. So, my intuition to wait to book my ticket was because I needed something more. My brain is constantly working, and I rarely get a minute for deep, quiet thinking about my own life. But regardless, my soul knows what it needs, even if my brain takes a minute to catch up.

I’ll also say that I’m a person that needs time for contemplation. As much as I like being impulsive, I don’t like being rushed if I’ve not had time to consider things. I make decisions intuitively, and I certainly resist decisions that others are making for me. I’m really busy, and my mind is constantly thinking deeper about my own work, so I end up resisting making decisions until I’ve had the proper time to consider things quietly in my own time. This quality is in exact opposition to how the flea works, which feels more like the pace of being an ER doctor, attending to critical issues at light speed rather than meticulously plotting out each detail with time to spare. I like both. I’m good at both. But I’m not good at them equally all of the time.

I guess all this leads me to the realization that  I’m learning more about myself, each and every day. The high-stress pace and out-there nature of running the flea has me feeling depleted, as much as I would have considered myself some kind of extrovert. So, going inward with my client work, allowing myself to work alone and in my own time, and really dive deep into the thoughts required to do the type of client work that I do, is what I need to balance myself. Being forgiving and understanding of myself is something I realize I need to work on daily.

Truth Seeker

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Have you ever wrestled with thoughts like, “I am not a good boss,” or “I’m not really an artist,” or “This person totally copied my business!  They shouldn’t do that!” or “I can’t do this great idea because someone is already doing it.”? Have you challenged those thoughts? Or do they just have this grip over you that pops up anytime conflict comes your way? What if you did a little inquiry and asked yourself if it was really true?

This one simple question has begun to change the way I move through life, how I feel and even my relationship with others. I’m embarking on a new adventure this Fall, to become Life Coach Certified so that I’m better equipped to run my own business and also provide direction and guidance to the Dreamers and Doers who I work with daily on branding and business development.  I’m also on a quest to live the most authentic life that I can, love everyone around me (including myself) with a full heart and steer my life in a way that brings me the most purpose.

So let’s get back to this question.  Is it true? It seems like a very simple phrase, but the impact of inquiry can turn anxiety into peace, fear into strength, hate into love. Being “a lover of what is,” to borrow a phrase from Byron Katie, is accepting the truth of a situation, and finding peace in that. I’m reading her book, Loving What Is, in preparation for Life Coach Training, and it’s been transformative in my thought process so far. But we’re humans, and we need constant practice and patience to change ways of thinking that have been at work within us for decades.

I was first introduced to this concept a few years ago when I was getting life coaching from someone I truly admire, Kathleen Shannon. She still offers coaching, and if you’re interested, I’d say go ahead and get in contact with her. She’s an amazing person who probably doesn’t even realize the impact she’s had on my life. I don’t truly understand why, but it seemed that I wasn’t ready or willing to accept the truth that our exercises were leading me to, and so this concept of “Is it True” didn’t take hold of me as much as it has now. I’m not sure about you, but I am driven and stubborn and ruled by my emotions sometimes more than I wish.

So, this concept of truth really dulls the sharp feelings that have a hold over my body and mind. Yes, I realize this sounds kind of spiritual, and it is, but it’s also super simple. The intent of this exercise is to lessen the grip of these negative (and just plain untrue) thoughts and live in reality, which I’ll tell you, feels pretty amazing.

Let’s just take an example from my own life. Very often, I feel plagued by the thought: I’m not a good boss. I’m going to lead you through an inquiry process that lessens the grip of this thought on my mind. Using Byron Katie’s Inquiry: The Four Questions and Turnaround, I’ll share with you how I move beyond this feeling and into truth.

  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  • How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  • Who would you be without the thought? AND Turn it around, and find three genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in your life.


  • Is it true that I’m not a good boss? Probably not.
  • Can I absolutely know it’s true that I’m not a good boss? I can’t absolutely know that it’s true.
  • When I believe that thought, I feel horrible.
  • Without that thought, I would be excited to take on the task of being a boss.
  • The turn around: I AM A GOOD BOSS.
  • Three genuine examples of how I am a good boss:
    1. I’m a good boss because I care about my employees happiness.
    2. I’m a good boss because I take them out to celebrate their victories once a month.
    3. I’m a good boss because I think about how I can be a positive force in my employees daily work lives.

These questions aren’t meant to change reality, they’re merely there to confirm reality. The beliefs that we have about ourselves end up finding their way into our actions, relationships, businesses and life. When I believe I’m a good boss, I act like a good boss because I actually live that truth fully, rather than let my untrue thoughts determine how I behave. I’ll be getting more into this Life / Business Coaching stuff as I read all the books and listen to all the podcasts that go along with the training.

If you’re interested in learning along with me, I’m offering discounted Life Coaching while I’m still learning.  I always offer Brand & Business Coaching for my creative clients, so if you’re interested in that, reach out to me via email here:  stephanie [at] indiefoundry [dot] com. And if you’re just not sure, but you’d like to find out more, send me an email and I’ll get you a PDF of what it is that I do and how I could help you build that Dream Business & Life that brings you purpose.

Have a great day, friends!

xo, S

Joni Mitchell // Happy Friday

Friday, July 24, 2015

I love this video and song by Joni Mitchell. It’s especially helpful and chill while I DO ALL THE TAXES. Oh, Quickbooks, you’re super annoying. Love, Steph.

When bad shit happens.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

lisa congdon print

Hand-lettered & illustrated quote by writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, by Lisa Congdon.

It’s pretty amazing how life can change from bad to good, from good to bad, from good to great overnight, or even in the blink of an eye. You only need to wait a moment for possibility to turn into disaster, or sure disaster to turn into the best decision you’ve ever made. Such is the life of anyone who is truly living. Making mistakes, finding fortune and being brave are all equal parts of the journey. You can’t escape these lessons, and even if you try, you might just be missing out on all the spectacular moments that come along with facing your fears.

I don’t know about you but this up / down / left / right cycle of letting outside forces determine the inner landscape of my emotions can be really tumultuous and exhausting. One sure-fire thing to remember is that nothing good or bad lasts forever. It’s our interpretation of events that turn it from bad to good, or vice versa. Re-framing moments of struggle into learning experiences doesn’t always make them happier or change the fact that they happened, but it does allow us to be human beings who grow with each experience, learning more and more how to love our lives a little more and have compassion for ourselves and others.

I love this print above by Lisa Congdon, and the accompanying quote below, from her blog.

As with many of the hard realizations we make in life, we can either fall into a deep depression about the things over which we have no control or we can embrace them. And at that very moment, I took a deep breath and said, I am going to own this.

I’m wishing you all a spectacular day, full of living that dream life of yours.

xo, S


Today on Small Batch Dispatch, we’re joined by Craft Counselor, Anthony Trzaska. His focus is on Small Batch Artisan Legal Services, mostly within the food-based business community. His consulting business, Sonny Day Development is Business, Real Estate and Neighborhood Development, located in his home neighborhood of Slavic Village, though he works with creatives all over the city. He’s our attorney at The Cleveland Flea and Indie Foundry, and he’s here to chat about his own experience leaving his 9-5 to start his own dream job, what he does for creative businesses and also his focus to put Slavic Village on the map, by locating his office and efforts on the Fleet Avenue Streetscape Project (which is currently under construction) and the surrounding streets of one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods. He’s also a steward for the revitalization of The Nash on East 80th, a 97-year old Slovenian social hall and bowling lanes, located just off of Fleet Avenue. His motto is “The New Wave of The Old World” and he’s achieving this by weaving new craft businesses into the fabric of Cleveland’s original Market District. Join us today to learn more about what Anthony is passionate about and how he’s changing the landscape of Cleveland, business by business.

Redefining your role as BOSS.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

being boss

So, a little while ago, I was a freelancer. I planned my own schedule, only had myself to worry about (and clients, of course) even though I wanted to grow my business and brand, I never thought I’d be managing a team. Fast forward 3 years, and I now have hands-down the best team in town. It hasn’t been easy, but today I’d like to talk a little bit about going from freelancing to being a boss — what it feels like, what it looks like and how it’s transformed the way I do work every day.  So, let’s throw on our BOSS hats and tackle this tricky subject together.

Last week, I wrote about managing a creative team, which touches on what kind of boss I am, but today I’d like to dig a little deeper for you all, and share my struggles, lessons and triumphs with transitioning from freelancer to running the show. One of my biggest hurdles has been letting go of what I’ve built and trusting it in the hands of others. I guess we call this delegation, and I thought I’d be good at that, but I proved to be horrible at it. As recently as my trip to Morocco, which was in March of this year, I had an experience that proved to me that I needed to be better about getting what’s in my head out onto paper for my team to take and run with. We were planning our Kickstarter for The Flea, and I freaked out in Paris and put the stop on all of our design work.  Full disclosure, I made the call after having 2 glasses of Rose in a Latin Quarter bar and I had basically been on a full detox for two weeks in Morocco, so you know, I was not really myself 😉 When I returned a few days later (and still hungover from all the macarons / champagne), we had to jump right in to that Kickstarter script and get all the design moving.  Luckily I have one of the best content-creators in town on my team, who is also super patient with me, so we were able to really knock it out of the ballpark.

Also, some of the things you must do to be a good boss might not come naturally to you. For instance, getting my staff on payroll, deciding on all the budgeting for the year, creating HR policies, structuring job positions, figuring out how to increase revenue streams, moving us into an office, tackling the bookkeeping and even keeping everyone updated on design software are some of the duties that I now have, that are truly challenging to me. Doing all this while managing a staff, keeping tabs on projects, launching a new website, preparing for each monthly Flea and staying excited about my personal life certainly takes a toll on me.

Redefining my role within my team became crucial. It’s slightly vague, because anything big that comes up becomes my responsibility, and freeing up my schedule by allowing my staff to take over daily roles connected to clients and customers was super important. What I bring to the table is the energy and innovation of steering a business toward success, while instilling a work ethic and design aesthetic into our products and projects. I’m also not scared to do new things and fight for what I know is best. As much as it’s scary sometimes to be the boss, it’s a role that makes me feel alive, vulnerability and all.

Another great resource if you’re looking for support in your new roll as BOSS, is this amazing podcast put out by my friends / colleagues / designers Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon. It’s called Being Boss and I personally start my day with them almost every day, when I have the time, and it provides me with so much support and guidance while I tackle that big job of Being Boss.  I’m joining them in New Orleans this Fall for their Being Boss get together, and I couldn’t be more excited to bond with some more bad ass bosses!

Have a great week, friends!

xo, S


Hi friends.  Stephanie here. Today I’m talking a little bit about the business structure and team management we’ve established over the last few years. I went from running two creative businesses on my own, to incorporating interns, then staff. We’re quite a well-oiled machine these days, thankfully, but it took a lot of planning, talking, doing and trying things out to make that happen.  I feel really lucky to be surrounded by these creative bad asses almost daily.

At first, hiring help was terrifying, because I wanted to hold tight to EVERYTHING that mattered to me. Sarah describes it best.  She just hung around until we couldn’t do without her anymore! Haha, well it’s not exactly how that worked out, but it did kind of feel like that. Building a team was overwhelming. All of a sudden, training was taking over all of my time, and in the meantime, who was doing the work?? Sarah is our market manager, and I’ll lead you through how we managed to land one of our BEST employees over at The Cleveland Flea.

Reaching out & asking for what you need.

When I first began looking for interns (oh, I could RUN this thing by myself FOREVER, right?!?), I threw it out on Facebook. Employees seemed to be a far stretch for me, since I was really only looking to be a freelancer, not a boss. But the Flea grew to such proportions over such a quick time that my well-planned plan didn’t really work anymore. When I posted that The Flea was looking for interns, I gave some direction. I listed all of the things that I did from neighborhood planning to traffic directing, hoping to help the candidates move beyond the social media and marketing side that an event like ours tends to push out to the world. My biggest needs were on the operational, hidden side of things, not the fun instagramming and social media marketing side.


Once I had gotten some candidates, I sent them all an email (the same email) that included that long list of things that I do to run this Flea, and asked them to:

  1. Define their dream job (involving the list of items that I had provided)
  2. Name that dream job.
  3. Tell me why they wanted to work for The Flea.

Out of about 50 applications, only about 3 or 4 people chose to do this simple exercise. Sarah’s application rose to the top. It was obvious she was a strong writer, but also that she was willing to work within a non-traditional more creative business structure. Since I created my own dream job, I wanted to make sure my employees had their dream jobs, too.


My interviewing process consisted of me inviting the 3 candidates to the next Flea, and putting them to work. I needed help, and I wanted to know who was up for the challenge. I didn’t have time for interviews and meetings but I knew that I could gauge if people would work well by bringing them in closely to see if they were a good fit.


Once it became crystal clear that Sarah was the right fit, the tough task of training became our next step. This was excruciating for me. I don’t love planning (but Sarah is exceptional!!) and I didn’t want her to know that I didn’t know what to do. That is where vulnerability steps in and throws you for a loop. Just because you have a business doesn’t mean that you’re skilled in running a team, yet. So, Sarah just began to shadow me, and finally she took over where I left off. I made a list of all the things that I do, basically our operations manual, and then she made a list of the things that she would like to do. Just thinking about those early days gives me the chills, because Sarah was so close to all those things that I wasn’t good at yet, and I was terrified that she’d think I didn’t have my shit together and leave. But thankfully, she didn’t and she began to really have fun with her new job!


Honestly, I truly cared about what Sarah wanted her dream life to look like. I worked with Sarah like she was my client. We spent time talking about what she wanted out of her work life and how that could support her home life. We sketched out some things like, The Sarah Project, her own column on this blog, that would bring out her creative writing side. She’s super funny and I also wanted to hear more from her!


As time went on, it became necessary to pull back on Sarah’s column, because she’s been taking on so many more tasks, including training our new staff members. As hard as it can be as a boss, we’ve also had some chats about what I can do better, to make sure she’s happy, challenged and still growing. Also, I initially wanted Sarah to be really involved in our branding business, Indie Foundry, but it just wasn’t a good fit. She really shines in her current role, and that was a big lesson for me.


The early part of 2015 has been crazy for us. We added 4 new employees / interns and that was a total challenge until very recently. Figuring out how to pay everyone AND train them AND get work done still was a little exhausting and confusing. We’re in a pretty good groove now, but even as I’m typing this I realize I need to don my BOSS cap again this morning and get my own work done. I wouldn’t trade this life in for anything, though. These ladies bring me so much joy, and I do really love being a BOSS, though at times it can be scary and not fun.  But that’s life, right?

Have a great day, friends!



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