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Archive of ‘Birmingham’ category

The Birmingham Jane: Carrie Rollwagen

 

bham jane nail art

Carrie Rollwagen is representing for the Birmingham Janes! Contribute to her Kickstarter campaign and she’ll represent for your blog or business too. She’s also offering a nail art workshop as a reward.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I have a long list of answers to this question: do a one-year blogging challenge, write and publish a book, strive to run a profitable small business, launch a Kickstarter campaign. But my list could be summed up with one statement: Be Carrie Rollwagen.

Rollwagen is a small business owner, a prolific blogger, a social media guru and much more. She also has the cutest nails in town. And now she’s about to add something else to her resume — published author.

Rollwagen, co-owner of Church Street Coffee and Books and the writer behind the Shop Small blog, is now about to publish The Localist, a book that’s all about shopping locally. Rollwagen decided to self-publish the book and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her project. She reached her fundraising goal in less than a month!

I had a chat with Rollwagen recently — at a locally owned coffee shop, of course — about her book project and her secrets to success.

Becoming a Localist

Carrie Rollwagen

Rollwagen’s interest in local shopping began when she managed a small book store in Mountain Brook. She believed that the camaraderie she experienced at that store was unique to locally-owned shops. But then she worked at Starbucks and found the same sense of community there as well. Rollwagen, a former full-time journalist, wanted to investigate.

“I’m a frustrated journalist,” she says.

And so in 2011 she challenged herself to only buy from locally-owned stores for one year. She launched the blog Shop Small to chronicle her adventure.

Rollwagen admits that she thought her “Shop Small” challenge would be extremely difficult and extremely expensive.

She was wrong.

“I spent far less money that year than I usually do,” Rollwagen says.

She explained that when you shop small there’s less of a chance for impulse buying. There are very few, if any, displays set up in locally owned shops to entice you to purchase things that aren’t on your shopping list. Furthermore, because local shops weren’t as easy to get to as big box stores, Rollwagen would often talk herself out of buying things. And she wasn’t eating any fast food.

Finding stores at which to shop was easier than she expected. She often found what she needed simply by asking friends or doing a quick Google search. Rollwagen was even able to go to the movies thanks to the Birmingham-based theater The Edge opening that year.

What was Rollwagen’s conclusion after this year of shopping small?

“Local is almost always better,” she says.

Rollwagen is a localist, but she’s also a realist and she makes no claims that small business owners are somehow better people than the owners of big box stores.

“It is in the financial interest of a small business owner to be a nice person,” she says. “Small shop owners have a better incentive to treat people well and build community.”

If you have a bad experience at Target most likely you’re going to go back to Target nonetheless and even if you don’t chances are the Target employee you had a bad interaction with doesn’t care. Small shop owners know that it’s good customer service and a sense of community and camaraderie that will bring you back.

While Rollwagen doesn’t recommend that other people take on her extreme shop small challenge, she does stress that we should all buy local as often as we can as this is a great way to improve your community.

As Rollwagen explains in her Kickstarter campaign video, for every $10 spent at locally owned stores four to seven dollars goes back into your community. When you shop corporately only three dollars, at the most, goes back into your city.

Think of the local place first, she says. Amazon doesn’t pay taxes in your state.

Deciding to Self-Publish

DIY Publishing

Rollwagen admits that she hasn’t been a fan of self-publishing in the past — and for good reason. As many avid readers know, a book needs good editing, good design and a good marketing campaign to be successful. Most self-published authors don’t have all these skills or the resources to hire someone who does.

But Rollwagen’s book is centered on Birmingham and she thought a book a that was this, well, “localist” wouldn’t appeal to traditional publishers.

“Just because it doesn’t have a national market doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist,” she says.

Rollwagen’s Shop Small blog was quite successful thanks to her fresh, informative content and effective social media marketing. But she knew she had more to say.

“I wanted to tell this story in a new way,” she says.

So she decided to write a book and self-publish it.

The book is part memoir, focusing on her life as a localist and even offering a few tips on how people can shift their own shopping habits to support small businesses more often.

The book is also a study of buying patterns — why you like big box stores, why they’re not all bad, and the effects of our shopping on us as individuals and on our communities.

The book also offers a behind-the-scenes look into Church Street Coffee and Books.

To ensure that her self-published book would be of high quality, Rollwagen launched her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to hire an editor and designer.

How to Rock Your Kickstarter Campaign

Rollwagen reached her fundraising goal of $5,000 in less than a month. Now she’s working on her stretch goal. She’s hoping to raise an additional $3,000 so she can go on a book tour to spread the localist gospel to other towns.

Rollwagen offered these tips on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign:

  • Apply the tips that Kickstarter gives you and look at projects similar to yours for promotion ideas.
  • Produce a great video and in it be sure to convince people that your project is something that you can actually do. Also, explain exactly how you plan to use the money.
  • Have enticing and creative rewards and be sure to include their cost in your project budget. One of Rollwagen’s rewards was nail art! For a donation of $10 or more, Rollwagen would decorate her nails with the name of your company. Nail art was a perfect way for Rollwagen to help promote her project because whenever someone would say “Oh, I like your nails!” she could strike up a conversation about her Kickstarter campaign.
  • But these conversations could only happen if she was out and about. So Rollwagen’s other piece of advice is to be sure to network during your campaign. And carry business cards that include a URL for your campaign.

 

The Birmingham Jane is a See Jane Write series of profiles on women in Birmingham who are making a difference in our city. If you know of a woman who is making a difference in Birmingham please send your nominations to javacia@seejanewritebham.com. And don’t be ashamed to nominate yourself!

Thank God for Women Business Leaders!

WBL

Women Business Leaders members Candace Phillips, Heather VacLav, Anna Threadcraft, Tommye Lambert, Laura Hudson and Cierra LaShay

 

If you know me outside See Jane Write you know that I’m a church-going gal. If you’ve known me for approximately five minutes you know I am extremely ambitious and that I consider empowering women my life’s work. For years I’ve felt these two passions of mine were mutually exclusive. In my Christian women’s small groups — with the exception of the ones I led or co-led — there were few conversations about career goals and instead a focus on family. Meanwhile, the women in my life who seemed to really understand and support my lofty aspirations were atheist or agnostic.

Then I discovered Women Business Leaders, a networking group for professional Christian women. According to the group’s Facebook page, WBL “provides fellowship and support among women in the marketplace, while impacting the community for Christ.”

Women Business Leaders meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month at the Vestavia Hills Library, 1221 Montgomery Highway.  The meetings feature speakers who cover topics such as how to put God and family first and still be a successful businesswoman, being a beacon of light on your job, and the importance of praying for colleagues and clients.

WBL is a non-denominational organization and members include women of all ages and all stages of life and career — from women fresh out of college to CEOs to women who are retired. And it doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, divorced, a working mom or happily childfree.

Women Business Leaders is the sister organization to Young Business Leaders, a national organization based in Birmingham designed to reach Christian businessmen.

From the first meeting I attended, it was clear to me that this group really is dedicated to empowering career-minded women of faith.

During that meeting a young mom in the group shared that she was feeling guilty about returning to work after having her baby because most of her peers are stay-at-home moms and were judging her for her decision to work outside the home. But her career is important to her, she said, and she doesn’t understand why the young mothers in her community believe she should give that up.

Another woman in the room boldly declared that the guilt she was feeling was not of God, especially since this young woman believed that her career was part of her life’s calling.

The woman quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

She then said, “That was written by Apostle Paul, but if it had been written by a woman, by Apostle Paulina, I think she would have said God has not given us a spirit of guilt.”

And with that I knew I was at home.

The next WBL meeting is Saturday, Oct. 4. and you can be sure I’ll be there. If you’re interested in joining me, email me at javacia@seejanewritebham.com.

Let’s Eat Drink Read Write with the Birmingham Public Library

EDRWBanner2014

It’s time for the Birmingham Public Library’s most popular event — the Eat Drink Read Write Festival! This year’s festival will be held October 3-10 and will feature the city’s best food and beverage offerings served with a literary twist.

On Friday, October 3, enjoy poetry paired with craft beer and soul food at a special Bards & Brews Poetry Slam featuring beer from Back Forty Beer Co. and J. Clyde and food from Full Moon Barbecue.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8 enjoy a literary cocktail competition with a Jazz Age theme at the Collins Bar.

On Thursday, Oct. 9, listen to food-inspired tales by the city’s best storytellers and enjoy latte art showcased by local baristas.

This year’s festival will conclude Friday, Oct. 10 with Birmingham’s Best Bites and the Instagrammys. This event will feature great food, an appearance by  Food Star Network Star finalist Martie Duncan, and the unveiling of the new Birmingham’s Best Bites cookbook, which is full of recipes and history of some of your favorite local restaurants and bars. Also, some of the best photos taken during the festival and posted to Instagram with the #EDRW and #InstagramBham hashtags will receive an Instagrammy award.

These events are just a small sampling of all the Eat Drink Read Write Festival has to offer.

For a complete schedule and more details on these and other events visit bplonline.org/eatdrinkfest.

A Conversation with Carla Jean Whitley

CJ Whitley

When The History Press, a small publishing company located in South Carolina, contacted Carla Jean Whitley and asked her if she’d like to write a book, she gave the answer most of us would — “Uh, YES!”

And with that Whitley set off on an adventure of combining her love for music and the South to write the book Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music. Whitley wrote this book while juggling her job as managing editor of Birmingham magazine and teaching college-level journalism classes.

At a recent See Jane Write members-only event, Whitley shared how she managed her time during this process and how she’s managed to successfully promote her book. Muscle Shoals Studio was released in July and is already in its second printing.

While writing her book, Whitley said she wrote before and after work every day. She set small daily goals for herself to make the task of writing a book less daunting and more manageable. But she said she also gave herself grace on those days when she don’t accomplish those small goals.

She also was careful not to forget about self-care. She made time to decompress by spending time with friends or doing things she enjoys like yoga.

Javacia and Carla Jean

Here I am with Carla Jean at her first book signing this summer!

Though the History Press is a small publishing company, Whitley has had the privilege of working with a publicist. Whitley raved about her publicist and recommended that all authors have one. For non-fiction writers, Whitley said it is especially helpful to have a publicist with connections in a field related to the topic of your book.

Whitley stressed, however, that you are your own best advocate, even if you have a publicist. You must promote yourself with book signings. Look for local businesses with which you can partner to host different types of events that will help promote your book.

Blogging is a great way to promote yourself and your book as well. Not only can you use your own blog to show off your writing and help potential fans get to know you, you can also guest blog for other people’s sites to expand your reach.

Leading up to the release of her book, Whitley wrote a series of guest posts for Church Street Coffee and Books’ blog.  Church Street now carries Whitley’s book and, thanks to those blog posts, many of their customers were eager to buy the book once it hit the shelves.

Whitley recommends having an email newsletter too.

Today Whitley is working on her second book which will be about the history of beer in Birmingham.

We can’t wait to read it!

Jane About Town: 3 Things You Should Do This Week

Image by Andreanna Maya Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons

Image by Andreanna Maya Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons

 

Women writers of Birmingham, break out your planners. Here are three events coming up this week you don’t want to miss.

How to Make Money From Your Website

On Thursday, Sept. 18, digital strategist and start-up marketing expert Andrea Walker will lead a free workshop on how to make money from your website. The session will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. It’s free but registration is required. Reserve your spot via Eventbrite. For more information check out this interview with Walker by See Jane Write member Chanda Temple.

Cupcakes and Conversation

This night of empowerment is hosted by motivational speakers Marla and Marcia Pruitte, better known as The Pruitte Twins. The last Cupcakes and Conversation event was held in June and I was fortunate enough to attend. As I mentioned in my blog post about the event, I left Cupcakes and Conversation feeling inspired to be bold and to dream bigger dreams. The next Cupcakes and Conversation event is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 at the Gracie Grove Venue, 1286 Oak Grove Road. You can order tickets here.

Toland Travels Live

Toland Travel Live is a night of storytelling organized by Brad Toland of the blog Toland Travels. Hear Birmingham storytellers share tales of their travels starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Urban Standard, 2320 2nd Avenue North. I know this is the same night that Beyonce and Jay-Z’s On the Run Paris show will premiere on HBO, but just set your DVR and go hear some great stories. Admission is free. Learn more here.

 

If you have an event you’d like to be considered for Jane About Town, email information to javacia@seejanewritebham.com

Belk Fall Fashion Preview for Style Bloggers



Last month I had the opportunity to join several local style bloggers at a fall fashion preview event hosted by Arlene Goldstein of Belk. Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction at Belk, was there to help us “find our fabulous,” which was the theme of the evening. She told us all about Belk’s style statements for the upcoming season and how best to rock these looks. The evening also gave me the chance to chat with a few Birmingham bloggers about their favorite fall fashion trends. 

If you’re a style blogger, here are three looks that should be on your radar for fall: 

Complex Simplicity 

This look is all about new proportions and shape shifts, Goldstein said. From oversized and boxy silhouettes to exaggerated sleeves and new age layering, this is an ultra modern look. Playing with textures is key while extreme coatings, metallic finishes, trapunto stitches, and new knits will ensure that your look is far from ordinary. Goldstein recommends sharpening this look with edgy accents, including statement jewelry in architectural shapes, structured handbags, sleek ankle boots, and the always-chic over-the-knee boots. 

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5 Reasons You Should Attend WordCamp Birmingham

wplogoblue

Jane needs a makeover.

In the next month or so SeeJaneWriteBham.com is getting a major redesign. Part of this website overhaul will include changing platforms: I’ll be moving See Jane Write from Blogger to WordPress.

For years I was fiercely loyal to Blogger. And even though last year I launched See Jane Write Magazine using WordPress.org and my portfolio website, Javacia.com, using WordPress.com, I still had a soft spot for Blogger. I couldn’t help it. It’s so easy to use and it’s the platform with which I started my very first blog.

Then I attended WordCamp.

WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences that cover various topics related to WordPress, the free and open source publishing software that powers over 75 million websites.

At last year’s WordCamp Birmingham, Sara Cannon — one of the event’s organizers and speakers — said something that was music to my ears: “You can do anything with WordPress.”

I was sold.

I have big plans for See Jane Write and most of those plans will rely on having an amazing website. And so I’m making the move.

This year’s WordCamp Birmingham is set for Saturday, August 16. I’ll be there, of course, and I would love to see some See Jane Write readers there too.

So I’m here to convince you to join me. This isn’t a sponsored post — WordCamp is paying me to sway you. I just really believe that whether you run your blog on WordPress or not, you could learn a lot from this event. (And you’ll get a cool t-shirt.)

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Hear Jane Speak on Biz Talk Radio

In the WAGG studio with Roy Williams recording my segment for Biz Talk 

Be sure to tune in to WAGG Heaven 610 AM today from 3 to 3:30 p.m. I’ll be on Roy Williams’ radio show Biz Talk discussing blogging, See Jane Write and the upcoming Bloganista Mini-Conference.

You can also stream the show at http://www.610wagg.com.

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, don’t delay. We have less than 20 tickets remaining.

You can get your tickets today at thebloganistaconference.eventbrite.com.

Check out Meet the Bloganistas to learn more about our speakers and read about our sponsors to learn what door prizes you could win at the event.

Jane About Town: To Kill a Mockingbird at the Alabama Theatre

Gregory Peck (center) as Atticus Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Set in Depression-era Alabama, Harper Lee’s novel follows the story of Atticus Finch as he defends a black man against a false rape charge and strives to shield his children, Scout and Jem, from prejudice and hate. 
As an English teacher I have the privilege and pleasure of leading a group of 8th graders through a reading of this book each school year. And after we finish the novel we watch the 1962 film adaptation of the book, which in my opinion, is a classic in its own right. 

This Sunday, July 13, from 2 to 5 p.m.,  I’ll have the chance to see To Kill a Mockingbird on the big screen at the Alabama Theatre as part of its 2014 Summer Film Series. 
Beginning at 1 p.m., author Beverly Crider will be in the Alabama Theatre lobby signing copies of her new book, Legends & Lore of Birmingham and Central Alabama.
Doors will open one hour before showtime. Tickets are $8 and will be available at the door or in advance through Ticketmaster.

Meet the Bloganistas

See Jane Write believes you, your life and your blog should be fabulous. And so we present to you our first mini-conference — The Bloganista Mini-Con, a partial day conference for fashion, fitness, and lifestyle bloggers. But don’t worry if you’re not a style blogger; this conference has something for everyone. Not only will our speakers and panelists discuss style tips and best blogging practices, but they’ll also cover ways to use your blog to land freelance writing gigs, speaking engagements and other opportunities. 

The mini-conference will be held 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 at the Homewood Public Library, 1721 Oxmoor Road. You can find a complete conference schedule and order tickets at thebloganistaconference.eventbrite.com

Now get to know our speakers and panelists. 



Alexis E. Barton is a style blogger and digital influencer whose commentary and fashion advice appears weekly on the popular blog SameChicDifferentDay.com, which she launched in September 2011. Her personal style tips have been featured in The Birmingham News, Skirt.com, Life and Style PR and on WBHJ 95.7 JAMZ. Alexis has appeared on ABC 33/30’s Talk of Alabama and on CBS 42’s Wake Up Alabama. She has worked with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, H&M, Girls Inc., Macy’s, Belk, and a number of other non-profits, businesses and brands to help make the world a more stylish place. Alexis has been named a 2013 Role Model by the Girls Scouts of North-Central Alabama and this year was named a Birmingham Trailblazer by The Birmingham Times. 





Heather Brown is the lifestyle blogger and social media and blogging consultant behind MyLifeWellLoved.com. She is a Birmingham native, has been married for 5 years and has been blogging for 4 years. She would love for you to connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram @MyLifeWellLoved.






Erica Bunker is from Hoover, Alabama and is the creator and editor of Erica B’s – DIY Style, a popular sartorial sewing and fashion blog that can be found at ericabunker.com. Erica is a wife, mother of three, grandmother of one and a soon-to-be empty nester. She is also a self-taught seamstress whose personal mantra and way of life is: “Why buy it, when you can make it!”




Megan LaRussa Chenoweth is the fashion stylist, image consultant and personal shopper behind Southern Femme, which is both a blog and a style consulting service. A Birmingham native, Megan moved to New York City to work for a famed trend forecaster and pursue a Master’s degree from Parsons School of Design. But the South wooed her back with its slower pace and picturesque landscape. Megan created Southern Femme because of her desire to educate her favorite women in the world, Southern ladies, on both high fashion and their everyday wardrobe. Megan has styled and produced fashion shoots for several magazines including Birmingham magazine, Alabama magazine, and Seventeen. 




Vanessa Culpepper of the blog BuddingFashionista.com is ready to step out in style no matter the time of day or occasion. As a producer of a morning news program, she doesn’t let her overnight shift keep her from putting a stylish spin on work-appropriate looks. She carries the same attitude toward her weekend wardrobe when she is off the clock and running around with two kids in tow! Vanessa does all this while stretching her budget to the max! She doesn’t claim to be the hottest fashionista around…she is just budding.



Dr. Bertha Hidalgo is a PhD-level genetic epidemiologist with a true calling and passion for fashion.  She began blogging in August of 2013 and has grown her brand to include daily “outfit of the day (#ootd) posts on Instagram. She is a mother of two boys, a wife, and loves attempting to find balance between family, work, and life as a fashion blogger.  Her blog is an extension of her day-to-day life, featuring posts on ways to dress fashionably on a budget; ideas for office-appropriate outfits; and how to score deals on designer duds.  She firmly believes that it should be socially acceptable for a woman to be both intelligent and fashionable, and that those two qualities should not be mutually exclusive.  She strives to show the world that a woman can indeed be both, one outfit at a time, on ChicInAcademia.com.  


Williesha Morris has been hustling gigs of the freelance variety since she graduated from the University of South Carolina with a journalism degree in 2001. Since 2012 she has been pursuing the dual title of administrative consultant/virtual assistant and writer. Having this title allows her to never get bored, along with helping small business owners and entrepreneurs get more done and show freelancers how to truly live a “free” freelance life. You can find her on Twitter – @willieshamorris. She created her blog MyFreelanceLife.com in 2013 and also blogs at nerdythirtysomething.wordpress.com


Tanya Sylvan of the blog All In Stride is a Jersey girl living in Birmingham who loves to run far and eat lots. Her real life and blog life collided recently when a long-time blog reader offered her a job doing marketing and public relations for an outdoor publications company. Now she can say that she really does eat, sleep, and breathe all things outdoors! You can find her blogging about running, recipes, and random life events at tanyasylvan.com.


Carla Jean Whitley is a writer, editor and teacher based in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is managing editor of Birmingham magazine. Her first book, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, is set for publication by The History Press on July 22. Carla Jean founded the music blog Birmingham Box Set, and has also written for BookPage, Paste, The Birmingham News, Sky and a variety of other magazines and newspapers. Carla Jean volunteers with literacy organizations and teaches journalism at the University of Alabama and Samford University. Her favorite yoga pose is bakasana and her favorite cats are orange. Connect with her at carlajeanwhitley.com.

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