Friday Five - West Sheridan

Posted on November 10, 2017 by mckay | 0 Comments

You guys, we are onto the 5thconsecutive week of the Friday Five series and I am pumped! I plan to keep this as a regular feature on into the new year (as long as I have willing participants) although we will take a break over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. I hope you all will continue to follow along, and if you have an apron and would like to be featured, email me! (seriously, I love to hear from you guys and am planning the calendar in January now)

Ok! So on to this week’s interview! I got a chance to speak with Nicole Hance, the hilarious, kind –hearted woman who’s the driving force behind West Sheridan; a hand lettering and illustration company she started on a dream and a prayer back in 2013. She’s also one of my oldest online friends and has illustrated several of our Christmas cards, hand lettered prints in my home and created the recipe and Thank You cards for Oatmeal Lace. If you’ve received a package from me, you’ve seen her work!

1.     Can you tell us a little about yourself, your company, West Sheridan, and how you began exploring calligraphy?

I started this answer with my age but then deleted it - that’s not how I want to introduce myself! Ha! I’m a mom to two little kids (Ava is 6 and Drew is almost 2) and have been dating my husband for 20 years (married for 9).
West Sheridan was born in 2013, out of my fervent need to not have to work in a corporate cubicle anymore. On paper it was a perfect job - great boss and co-workers, flexibility, offered financial comfort, etc. - but I felt like I needed MORE. I needed more time with my little girl, more creativity, more purpose. I saw a blog post (I cannot remember where!) about ‘faux calligraphy’; I think if you scroll back REALLY far on my Instagram you can see my first attempts. They were really….ummmm… bad. But I practiced a lot and thought it was fun and eventually decided “Maybe I can do something with this…” So I gave it a shot with my first Etsy shop and social media.  When I was expecting our second child I took West Sheridan full time and it’s been great! I have LESS of that whole ‘financial comfort’ thing but MORE of the other things I really wanted.

P.S. Fine, I’m 37. I have no problem with that, but I feel like much less of a ‘grown up’ than I should in my late thirties.  :)

Um, I’m 38 and still call my mom with questions every day because CERTAINLY I can’t be that grown up?! Still blows my mind that I am responsible for the well-being of two little ones…
2.      What are some of your favorite tools/supplies?

My answer has changed a lot in the past year and a half! I used to live for fresh Sharpies, Microns, a stack of bright white paper, and my Wacom tablet. I would do all my work on paper (pencil sketch then ink final copy) and then scan it into my computer. From there I would clean it up in Photoshop and then vectorize in Illustrator. But then… For my 36th birthday my overly generous parents, brother + sister-in-law gifted me with a Surface Pro and I’ve barely looked back.  Now I letter + draw directly in Photoshop or Illustrator and it has been nice to skip the step of scanning in all my work.  Of course there are still some times when only a piece of paper and pencil will do - but even then I can take a picture of it with my computer and skip the scanning!
Image by Channing Photography
3.      What gets you up in the morning? (I hope it’s not early rising children like me!)

No, all three of us sleep through my alarm daily! But I will proudly let you know we have never missed the school bus! (yet)

I’m not sure if I should be answering this literally or figuratively, but I guess either way the answer is: Ava and Andrew.  Everything is for them, from caring for them directly (feeding, dressing, bathing etc.) to showing them how to navigate the world (love others, spend your time on things that matter, pray hard, work harder, and be grateful. That’s the short list.) One day I might have a larger list of reasons but I’m OK with them consuming this season of life. I know it’s short and I’m overwhelmingly thankful.
Image by Mastin Studio

4.     Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Practice, practice, practice, practice, PRACTICE. Just keep sketching, doodling, writing the same words over and over.  Keep making things, even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. One day your style will emerge and maybe it won’t be what you were originally going for, but it will be yours! And it will likely continue to evolve and improve forever.5.     What’s in your apron?
Oh my gosh, I just feel so fancy and OFFICIAL in my apron.  It is my uniform for craft fairs and shows, and I keep it stocked with pens, a receipt pad, business cards, scissors, and change.  I also wear it for on-site work, such as delivering + setting up wedding signs or lettering murals. For those occasions, I make sure the pockets have tape, scissors, a pencil, good eraser, tape measure, and twine.

I also have a 2nd one for my employee (just kidding, my husband) and I won’t lie, sometimes he wears his to grill when he’s off the clock.  I think he keeps gum, earbuds, and matches in his. 


Thank you so much for joining me this week, Nic. I’ve loved watching you from the beginning, both your business and your life as a mom…especially since our kids are so close in age and our stories of starting our companies feel so similar. Really looking forward to meeting you in person this February! 
Connect with Nicole:

Posted in calligrapher interview, calligraphy, friday five interview, oatmeal lace, oatmeal lace design, oatmeal lace vendor apron, west sheridan, what's in your apron

Friday Five - Rodeo & Co Photography

Posted on November 03, 2017 by mckay | 0 Comments

It's the first Friday of November, what?! Cannot believe we are here already, although it certainly feels like it in Chicago. I took down all of our Halloween decorations yesterday and almost pulled out our Christmas bins (you know, since I was already in the storage room) BUT decided I should show a tiny bit of least for another week or two, ha. I can see my husband rolling his eyes right now. :)

Excited to have Meg Hamilton, of Rodeo & Co Photography joining me today for the Friday Five series. She describes her photo style as 'honest & happy' and I have to agree. I shared a few of my favorite photos that I found of hers but there are SO MANY I could've gone on and on. Do yourself a favor and take a peek at her blog & instagram.

  1. Thanks for taking time to chat with me today, Meg. First, can you share a little bit more about Rodeo & Co and how you got started in wedding photography? I know I’ve read that you were an arson investigator & police officer. Please don’t skimp on details. :)
I had my heart & mind set on becoming an arson investigator & really broke the glass ceiling in that field to get my position. Once I attended a conference with over 200 men, and me. It was like real-life CSI, but also very depressing work…. I was also shooting weddings part time & was thriving…. then I was laid off from my fire investigator position… I sat down and did a pro & con list…. knowing that I wanted to eventually be a mom & have flexibility in my career AND do work that gave me JOY…. 15 years ago {today!} I shot my first wedding…. now I’m honored to be named one of Martha Stewart Weddings top photographers & my husband and I have the sweetest boys in New Hampshire…. I feel so blessed each time I connect with my couples to document their days & that {almost} every night I get to make a homemade meal for my family…. These two things are what makes my heart happy.

2. What do you enjoy most about living and working in New England?

I live in an itty bitty small town- and we have backyard chickens, honey bees, make our own maple syrup. My parents live a few miles down the street where we have horses, black angus cows & together with my dad we raise Berkshire pigs. Mornings, I get to go to the barn & take care of the animals….it’s a special, quiet, peaceful way to start my day. Photographing weddings in New England is a true blessing- ferry rides to Martha’s Vineyard,  the coast of Maine, in the heart of Boston, the preppy perfectness of Providence, Rhode Island...and the bulk of my work in the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.  Each place is unique and at the same time, still New England. And, like all New Englanders, I love the seasons, the Red Sox, and Tom Brady.

3. Do you have a tip or two for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?

Make sure you love the work that your photographer shows….sounds really basic, but if you don’t love the style that your photographer shoots, they won’t be a good fit. {I’ve had people contact me looking for dark & moody portraits, and I happily refer them to my friends that shoot in this style}. Look through a few complete wedding galleries to get an idea of how they document an entire day -rather than just scrolling the instagram highlight reel.

Image by Michelle Heath

4. Who would win in a fight: Spiderman or Batman, and why? (I’d like to know Marcus & Hank’s answers as well) :)

I’m a longtime Batman fan {because, I always had a crush on Robin!}... Hank {age 6}  says SPIDERMAN- because he'd shoot his webs around Batman and stick him to a wall…. Marcus {9} says it’s impossible because Marvel & D.C. are two separate entities….BUT...he would vote for Batman.
(Beckett said Batman too)

5. What’s in your apron?

Extra camera batteries, cell phone,  light meter, film, memory cards, a ring box, bits of ribbon, business cards, a lighter for candles, and who knows what else!

Thank you again for sharing, Meg! You have such a unique background and the attention to detail you had to possess with the arson work definitely shines through in your photography. You can see more of Meg's work, her travels & life in New England below.
Happy Friday, guys!

Connect with Meg:


Posted in friday five, new england wedding photography, oatmeal lace interview, rodeo and co photography, what's in your apron

Friday Five - Stephanie Shaul

Posted on October 27, 2017 by mckay | 0 Comments

Image by Blue Barn Photography

I can't believe we're already on to week THREE of the Friday Five series! I hope you all are enjoying learning more about some of the amazing wedding professionals that are out there (or discovering some inspiring ladies to follow in your own wedding journey!) This week I was able to interview Stephanie Shaul, of Stephanie Shaul Events. {sidenote: Stephanie got married earlier this year and her last name went from SCHOLL to SHAUL! How crazy/awesome is that?!} Anyways, I can't wait for you guys to learn more about this fun loving, joy-filled lady, so without further ado, here she is!
1. Tell us a little bit about Stephanie Shaul Events and who you love to serve.

Stephanie Shaul Events is a wedding planning, design, and styling company based in Raleigh, NC, planning grace-filled, elegant, joyful weddings with beautiful, meaningful details and design. I primarily focus on full planning, production, and design for my couples, and my job is certainly one of the greatest joys of my life. My business is rooted in legacy and strong marriages, kindness and gratitude, serving others wholeheartedly, intentional living, genuine community, and grace-filled love. My couples genuinely come to feel like family, and I adore working with them to create the wedding they’ve always dreamt of. I always aim to authentically make each wedding uniquely gorgeous and meaningful to my couple’s love story, and a wedding is the perfect opportunity to celebrate love and legacy, traditions, beauty, and joy that make up one’s life. Wedding planning can be a stressful and overwhelming process, and I want to take all of the worry and stress off of my couples so that they can fully enjoy their engagement and joyfully prepare for marriage. As a recent bride myself, I know firsthand how important that is and how wonderful marriage is!

Image by Jake + Heather Photography

2. How did you get started in the event industry?

I don’t think I ever pictured that I’d working in weddings until several years ago. I went to undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology, and I had planned on going to graduate school in my late twenties to get my master’s in social work. I did plan national conferences for the US Department of Education for several years at my first job in Washington, DC, right out of college. That knowledge has definitely come in handy, and I have long had a gift for organization and logistics.
I have always read lots of wedding magazines and blogs, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really grew to love weddings—and I’ve always just loved love and celebrating life and joy. I figured that starting a blog that focused on weddings (and lifestyle) would be a good way to get even more connected to the wedding industry. I followed a lot of wedding blogs and social media accounts and I realized over time how much I really loved every aspect of weddings. In my early-mid twenties, I also attended roughly thirty weddings in a three-year window of time (I am from the South, after all!). I had ten weddings, nine bridal showers, eight bachelorette parties, and six engagement parties in a six month window, which was crazy with tons of traveling, but it was so fun! I never once was annoyed or overwhelmed with the amount of wedding-related festivities in my life, and I threw so many of those showers and helped in little ways at the weddings. It was around then that friends and family—everyone I knew, essentially—kept telling me how talented and skilled at this I was, and why wasn’t I planning weddings yet? It truly was the constant support and encouragement from my family and friends that got me to even consider planning weddings.
I had a few close friends who were either recently engaged or knew they’d be getting married soon, and they assured me that they really wanted me to plan and design their weddings. I’m forever grateful to those close friends who let me plan and design their weddings with zero actual experience besides being a bridesmaid and a wedding guest dozens of times, having a good design eye, loving weddings, and being incredibly organized. Their trust and confidence in me meant the world and that’s how I got started - coming up on four years ago now! I have worked for myself full-time for 2.5 years now, and my business moved from Washington, DC to Raleigh, NC when I went full-time. This city and its surrounding area have been so sweet to my business, and it’s been a dream come true (with a lot of hard work, for sure)!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! What wonderful friends, giving you the gift of following your passion and navigating those first few steps into wedding planning with the knowledge that you have their full trust and support.

Image by Ally & Bobby 

3. What was the last gift you gave someone?

My husband’s birthday wasn’t too long ago, and I gifted him a date night together (with his favorite activities and foods), a new board game (we’re a sucker for playing games at night and hosting game nights), and a craft beer brewing kit. We have some home brewed beer coming up!

Image by Nancy Ray Photography

4. How would your best friend describe you?

Loving, loyal, encouraging, and definitely goofy! This is hard to answer, but I’ve continually been told that I’m optimistic, friendly, determined, and always up for something fun. I love life and people, and I think my personality reflects that. I am wildly passionate about genuine, deep friendships and cultivating those relationships!

5. What’s in your apron?

Everything - ha! I like to think my apron holds as much as Mary Poppins’ limitless magic carpet bag. I always have my timeline, floor plans/layouts, pens (including a nice one) and a Sharpie, floral pins, safety pins, my phone, a portable phone charger, a lighter (for all of those candles and sparklers), scissors (one can never have enough), tissues, and somehow, I almost always end up with a set of someone’s car keys by the end of the night!

Images by Blue Barn Photography / Sara Logan Photography
Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to share with me today. Such a pleasure! I so enjoyed learning more about you, especially the steps leading up to you pursuing this career. Wishing you all the best in the future.

Connect with Stephanie:


Posted in friday five, oatmeal lace, oatmeal lace design, southern wedding planner, stephanie shaul events, vendor apron, wedding planner interview, what's in your apron

Friday Five - Southern Sparkle

Posted on October 20, 2017 by mckay | 0 Comments

{Kelly Ginn Photography}
On to week two of the Friday Five Series! This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Krisy Parker Thomas, of Southern Sparkle. She is one of the sweetest ladies I've worked with and 
I'm so excited to introduce her to you all (if you aren't already familiar with her work.)

1.    Tell us a little bit about Southern Sparkle & who you love to serve.

Southern Sparkle is an award winning wedding planning team with locations in Nashville, Jackson & Memphis, Tennessee, with dreams of having additional locations all over the Southeast. Our team consists of Certified Wedding Planners certified through The Bridal Society. We plan all kinds of events from birthday parties to baby showers but wedding planning is where we thrive and what we really love doing. We were also recently named one of The Best Event Planners in Nashville by The Nashville Scene!

2.    How did you get started in the wedding industry?

I was in the banking industry right out of college and, although I was good at my job, I just wasn’t happy. For about a year my mom encouraged me to try wedding planning. She did her research and found The Bridal Society. She offered to pay for me to attend the conference but I counter offered and said I would pay for myself if she came and got certified as well. After attending the conference, I took everything we were taught to heart and hit the ground running. 1 year later I was able to quit my full-time job at the bank and put everything I could into Southern Sparkle. By year two I had to bring in additional team members and that allowed us to have Southern Sparkle all over the state of Tennessee and in year three I was named Wedding Planner of the Year by The Bridal Society.

3.    What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

I have a two year old son, Cortland, and he is the funniest person I know. So my son and I both love wrestling. Well, let’s be honest here, I love wrestling and I have basically forced this love to him as well. Our favorite wrestler is The Rock and we watch videos of him every morning as part of our morning ritual. Brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, watch The Rock…just a normal morning for us. The Rock has a catch phrase where he says “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” and tilts his head to the side and lifts his head up. Well one morning during our morning ritual, my son did this signature move while sniffing the air like he was literally trying to smell what The Rock was cooking. Luckily I caught it on my phone and can replay it over and over when I am having a bad day.

Love that you got that on video! Capturing the silly little moments with our kids is the best and I can totally relate to replaying them when I'm having a bad day (or am feeling frustrated with them in general). :)

4.    What keeps you inspired?

My amazing Sparkle Brides keep me inspired. When I think of how they are trusting me with one of the most important days of their life, I feel so humbled and honored. That trust makes me want to work even harder for them and keeps me going to try and be the best planner I can be for them.


5.    What’s in your apron?

People are always amazed when I start pulling out items from my apron. They hold so much!

   Cell phone

   Ink Pen

   Snack (usually a little pack of almonds)


   Walkie Talkie clipped on the apron

   Small pack of kleenex (always needed right as the family is about to walk down the aisle)

   Pins pinned on my apron

   Small bottle of water

   Business cards


It was such a pleasure talking to you, Krisy. Thank you so much agreeing to participate in the new series and for sharing with our readers. I hope to meet you in person someday soon!

Connect with Krisy & the Southern Sparkle team:


Posted in friday five, oatmeal lace, oatmeal lace design, oatmeal lace vendor apron, wedding planner interview, what's in your apron