The Truly Profiles: Meet New Favorite Blogger, Melissa of Simply Bohemian

We all have our favorite superstar bloggers. You know the type. The seasoned bloggers who have been at it for years, developed their skills to perfection, and accumulated the adoration of the masses. We love them and almost can't imagine a time when they weren't larger than life. But what if we knew them way back when, before they had years of experience under their belt, before they became a household name. Would we see the "it" in them or just pass them by. It's hard to say. But I'd like to think I could recognize a talent when I see one at any point along their career journey. Case in point, newbie fashion blogger, Melissa of Simply Bohemian hasn't been blogging long, but you can't tell from her captivating (I'm not exaggerating) Instagram pics and  pretty, understated blog posts. As you may tell from the name, her style is undeniably bohemian, and she captures it in such a pure, elegant way, it's hard not stare at them. In short, this girl's got talent. I wanted to interview Melissa because I felt it was the perfect opportunity to better understand how a creative talent just starting out, makes it all happen. So when I asked Melissa for an interview, I was happy she said yes, not just so I can introduce her to my readers, but so I could pick her brain and take a few nuggets for myself (I'm a little selfish like that).  You'll want to hear what Melissa had to say about starting a blog with fear and insecurities, and what inspires her. Read the full interview below along with her beautiful Instagram pics for your viewing pleasure.

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TB: Hey Melissa! I want to first start off by saying that I love your Instagram feed and blog. It really does reflect a simple bohemian lifestyle, and it's infused with so much beauty and personal style. I understand it took a while before you decided to start your blog. What were some of your reservations, and what made you decide to just go ahead and do it?

Melissa: Thank you so much, Sarah, for your kind words! Before I hit publish for the first time, I had lots of reservations. Did I have anything to say? Would anyone care? What if I couldn't do it? Silly, I know. My husband encouraged me greatly, and I finally decided to jump in and start. To do something for me, for us, and to not let insecurities rule.

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TB: I  love that. Where do you look to for inspiration?

Melissa: I tend to find inspiration in little moments— over a quiet cup of coffee with my husband, a slow sunlit walk with my dog, a piece of music, the way a dress falls, a pale pink wall, and flowers. Always flowers! Little adventures out of the house can really spark your inspiration!

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TB: Definitely. It's those non-stressed moments when inspiration flows so easily. Speaking of non-stress, your outfits reveal a relaxed approach to dressing with a keen attention to detail. What are some of your favorite places to shop?

Melissa: I love shopping at Free People and Anthropologie. Their displays are always thoughtful, beautiful, and inspiring. I love finding that special piece there! I also love Madewell for well done basics.

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Simply. Bohemian 10TB: It's easy to see that your Instagram pics are well curated. What is one thing you learned about photography since you started your feed?

Melissa: I'm still learning every day! I think the key is consistency. Constantly going out capturing the things that catch your eye, the moments you want to remember. Keep trying new things, new perspectives, new edits until you find you. I am always looking for how I can capture what I'm seeing and feeling in this shot. Always keep honing your individual perspective.

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TB: Great info. And what advice do you have for anyone who has been thinking of starting a blog, but doesn't know where to begin?

Melissa: Start. Just start. I didn't know what I was doing, (I still don't) and I was so nervous to hit publish on the first entry! Take time to think about what makes you excited, what inspires you. Think about how you can share that with others, and maybe even inspire them to capture the moments around them.♦

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I love what Melissa had to say about starting a new venture in spite of her insecurities and fears. It goes to show you that we all, no matter how talented, have fears to overcome, and it is in the overcoming that you get the confidence to push forward. Melissa, I wish you all the best as you embark upon your new career path. I'm sure we will all be hearing more of you in the future.

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All of the pics can be found on Melissa's Instagram here.♥

The Truly Profiles: Meet Psychologist, Author, and Etsy Shop Owner, Dr. Tiffany Tuttle

I've always wanted to pen a column. And for several years, I did. It was a quarterly column about research and its impact on practice for an esoteric psychology journal. Not exactly easy reading, but it worked for the journal. I got the chance to interview psychologists about the cool research they were doing, like relationship, design psychology, and creativity research. It was all part of my plan to develop my own research career. I figured while I was reviewing their work, I could hone my own research project and perhaps even collaborate with some of them. It was a solid plan. But after I made the decision to grow my business and blog, I stopped writing the column so that I could use the time to recreate one I'd be able share with the masses. One that would allow me to interview cool people, doing cool things. That's how The Truly Profiles was born (formally known as Truly Inspired By). My plan is to interview people with a wide range of interests and careers— the only requirement is that they must have a passion for what they do. So when I came upon the work of Dr. Tiffany Tuttle, I knew I was onto something. I was thrilled to find that she was a psychologist like me and still had enough time in her day to design products and run a shop, Spazz Happy Line Design. Her self-effacing humor sets her apart and reminds us all to relax a little and not take ourselves too seriously. When I reached out to her for an interview, she couldn't have been more inviting, and agreed to do the interview immediately! Read on to see what Dr. Tiff Tutt had to say about how she balances her roles as a clinical psychologist and creative entrepreneur. And I've included pictures of her book and designs for you to peruse while reading. Dr. Tiff Tuff book cover

TB: So you're a psychologist, blogger, shop owner, and author. Let me first start off by saying I think it's amazing you have been able to pursue so many of your passions. What motivated you to make it all happen?

TT: Thank you for the kind words, I feel the same way about you and all you seem to be juggling, with so much grace and style to boot! About pursuing multiple passions... I am able to do so because I have always enjoyed the process of creating + completion. Be it an idea, a drawing, a piece of writing, a degree, or even a batch of cookies, no matter how big or small, I genuinely derive meaning out of creating/doing and the process of completion. I'm not always fast at making things happen, and at any given moment I likely have 5 things on the burner and 3 up in the air, but being in process is part of the process, and I've learned to be patient. It was also modeled to me early on to not half-ass anything and to take pride in your work, so part of what makes "making" rewarding for me is that I take pride in and value my work. So my motivation is from the feelings of joy, value, fulfillment and validation I get when I am able to work hard, vest my energies into something, creating that "something," and completing my vision to the best of my abilities.

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TB: I totally agree. Like you, I spend a lot of time doing clinical work, and while I enjoy helping others, being able to create something for people to enjoy is really important to me. Your creativity is evident not just in your designs, but also in your writing, and you've described yourself as an atypical psychologist. Share a little about what that means to you and how it shapes your work?

TT: I often describe myself as an "atypical psychologist" because I'm pretty energetic and my language is not always PC. Not that I have a filthy gutter mouth all the time, but I am known to use some pretty vivid language when describing something, or offering a client an analogy. For example, I describe my latest self-help book as "taking the 'sigh' out of 'psychology' " and being "...a toilet of enlightenment that will teach you how to flush your problems away." I am goofy and I think that comes across as non-threatening to many. I mean yes, I have my doctorate and I know when to shut up and just listen, it's not like I'm doing stand-up comedy in my therapy sessions. I know it's not about me in there, it's about my client and the work which I can have some part in facilitating so that person can heal and grow. I find that using colorful language supports the client's process sometimes. Plus being quirky and goofy is who I am and I don't know how to be any other way!

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TB: Knowing who you are and what you're on about makes life so much easier, and it certainly inspires others to be themselves. I don't know many psychologists who also own a shop so you certainly are an inspiration. How do you balance your role as a psychologist with your role as a business owner? Do you find that you use your skills as a psychologist to run your business?

TT: Thank you Sarah, you are truly an inspiration as well! I find that my work as a business owner and psychologist blend well together. Since I like to "create" and "complete" as I mentioned earlier, being able to come home from a clinical day where you don't visually see tangible "results" so to speak (because growth and change happen gradually), and use my hands to make something feels good. It's also great because while I'm making my designs, I am still able to think and process ideas— creative ideas or just process things from my day. Everyday things that we all think about, family, friends, plans etc. And sometimes I just don't think about anything and I just make. Of course some thought goes into structuring my designs and mathematics are involved, but I've been doing it for so long now that many of my designs are stored as rote memory.

And yes, indeed my psychology background comes into play as a business owner because when you're in business you deal with people and all sorts of human behavior can come out! Being introspective and reflective of my own tendencies is certainly something that the study of psychology has helped me learn about. I am more aware of how to manage my own feelings when dealing with the different personalities of people who contact me. Having a handle on my feelings helps me manage questions— be they kind hearted or blatantly mean, in a respectful manner. And doing so makes me feel good. So being a psychologist has certainly enhanced my ability to manage a business, and helped me learn how to "think like a boss."

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TB: I've browsed through your lovely shop, and see that you sell everything from hanging planters, to frames, to holiday décor, all of which have a geometric, modern design. What inspired you to sell these particular products? Do you design them all yourself, and are they an extension of your personal style?

TT: My inspiration comes from the beauty of simplicity and minimal decor. I also love, as in totally LOVE, mathematics and geometry. Blending my adoration for these things helped me create all the various designs I fill my shop with. I love the clean lines, the negative space, and the shadows they cast as the sun goes down. Plus, as someone who constantly has loads of ideas swimming around her head— hence Spazz Happy (!), I've found that creating symmetrical designs instills a sense of balance. I find something very soothing about looking at a piece that captures symmetry with its balanced use of equal sized pieces. Those pieces are all precisely cut by hand by me, and they help to create a kind of mental peace and clarity. I do consider them an extension of my personality style, and having lots of variety for people to select from is definitely something I sought to do, because I like options myself!

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TB: That's awesome. And speaking of Awesome, Congratulations on your self-help book Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad. How did you come up with the idea for the book?

TT: Thank you! I wrote my book "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad" because I wanted to be able to reach, teach, and empower all people. Since it uses the kind of humor I referenced above (non-PC) it is tailored to someone who is open to the idea of learning more about themselves— in order to be the baddest assed version of themselves, and can also laugh at seeing the word "weenie" or "dweeb" in order to illustrate a point. My goal was to take some of the most relevant topics I cover in psychotherapy and condense them into a useful handbook to humanize psychology and self-help (ie, make it approachable and non-threatening). Whether you think therapy is great, or you're not impressed with it, this book is designed to help anyone willing to help themselves.

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TB: Sometimes when we have varied interests, we tend to believe we have to pick one career because we think no one can be a psychologist AND a shop owner, AND have a family AND... [fill in your and]. What is your advice to someone who may want to pursue multiple career interests?

TT: Great question, my advice for pursuing multiple interests is GO FOR IT! I am not totally delusional, I realize there are many things in our life competing for our time and energy, and that there are only so many minutes in a day, but I also know that life without art is dull! And "art" doesn't have to mean you went to art school. Art to me is the process of creating. Planting a garden, baking, taking a picture, and other things like interior design, sewing clothes, styling yourself, painting, welding etc., all qualify. You don't have to be the best at what you do, but I encourage you to do it because you derive meaning and happiness from it. It is important to stay creative, to stay hungry and to stay unique because losing track of these things can make life so mundane. I mean, vegging out and watching movies at home with my husband is certainly a great night in my opinion, but it's balanced out by the nights I spend up until 4 because I am in the mutha f*#%ing ZONE! And being in the zone is thrilling. Whether the world notices what I create or not, the meaning I get is from the process, and the process is from within. So don't ever stop being creative- it does a body good!

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TB: Woohoo! (virtual high-five). And if that doesn't make someone want to get out and make something, I don't know what will. Thanks Dr. Tiff for taking the time to share.

TT: THANK YOU so much for reaching out and taking the time to get to know me!

If you'd like to see more of Dr. Tiff Tutt's work, just click on any of the links below:

Shop: Spazz Happy Line Design Blog: TiffTutts Instagram: SpazzHappyLineDesign Book: Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad

*All photos can be found in Dr. Tiff Tutt's Etsy shop

When Religion Meets Style w/ Fashion Blogger, Typhanie Stewart

When it comes to religion and style, I’m very much inspired by this:

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And not so much this:

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You see, I grew up in a very religious family and have had quite a bit of time to think about this sort of thing. Being exposed to religion early on helped me to develop my faith. But I’ve also had to deal with a lot of restrictions when it came to fashion and style that were not my cup of tea. Still, I’m always intrigued by women whose dress is heavily influenced by religious beliefs. I’m really fascinated by Orthodox Jewish women in their long skirts, long sleeves, and wigs. There’s something refreshing about their modest attire. It’s a nice change from the scantily dressed women we’re accustomed to seeing. But I also can’t help but wonder which of the women just wants to break out and wear their own thing. Perhaps, one of them is wearing a sparkly spaghetti strap top underneath her black turtle neck sweater. Or maybe another one has a scandalous low cut black dress she only wears at home (ha! I digress).

Mostly, I just admire the way certain ladies are able to express their individual style within religious confines, and manage do so without crossing boundaries or causing an upset others will be talking about for days. (Well maybe they’ll still talk, but you can’t please everyone). Modest fashionistas is what I call these women. And I think we can learn a lot about fashion and style from them. Think about it—they have the arduous task of choosing modest pieces that appeal to their sense of style. This means they have to really edit themselves, and can’t just jump on any trend that comes along. Consequently, they develop a sharp sense of style and are sensitive to the message each piece conveys (such as slightly revealing but not over the top). If you ask me, I think we can all exercise our editing skills a bit to sharpen our sense of style.

Speaking of modest fashionistas, meet the lovely, Mrs. Typhanie Stewart. She's a modest dresser with an extreme sense of style. I came across her blog, My Garments of Praise, some time ago, and really enjoyed her style posts. When I first browsed through her blog, I didn’t realize even she was a modest dresser. I simply noticed her style, and this says a lot about her ability to express her individual style over and above any religious restrictions she may have. I reached out to Typhanie to ask her if she would answer five or so questions about her experience with religion and style, and she graciously agreed. Read below for her interview.

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1. TB: Hey Typhanie, first I want to thank you for agreeing to an interview. Can you briefly explain what prompted you to start your blog, My Garments of Praise, and what the blog is about?

 Typhanie: It’s my pleasure! Thank you for having me. Near the end of 2011, my husband and I fell into a significant transitional period, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I wanted to find a way to stay inspired and be consistent with my writing as a new freelancer while increasing my motivation to read the Word and share it with others. At the time, I was following a few fashion blogs and was blown away daily by their interesting posts and trendy outfits that were practical for the everyday woman. I then began to search for Christian fashion blogs... Unfortunately, I was beyond unimpressed.

I prayerfully started My Garments of Praise in 2012 after a group of young girls at my church expressed their frustration with finding modest clothing in the stores and feeling like they couldn’t express themselves in the way they dress due to our church’s guidelines. I wanted to use my blog as a tool to not only help others find modest attire at affordable prices, but also to show how to incorporate individuality and some of the latest trends into modest, wearable outfits. At the core of it all, My Garments of Praise is my way of expressing how my relationship with God influences my personal style.

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 2. TB: How would you describe your sense of style, and from where do you get your style inspiration?

Typhanie: I would describe my sense of style as classic, feminine, comfortable, and put-together. I try to invest in pieces that are timeless and incorporate trends here and there. I love feeling like a lady, and I have to be comfortable. I’m a firm believer in wearing an outfit and not letting the outfit wear me. I draw inspirations from everywhere, but mainly from church and fellow style bloggers.

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3. TB: How does your religion impact your sense of style? And what, if any, challenges have you faced putting together modest outfits?

 Typhanie: The blog name My Garments of Praise was inspired by Isaiah 61:3, “…to give unto them…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” In all that I do (even in getting dressed!), my desire is to do it with praise and joy, as unto to the Lord.

When it comes to style, most fashion bloggers and gurus will tell you that it's personal. I agree 100 percent. Every look will not work for everyone because personalities and lifestyles are different. Personally, my style is influenced primarily by my relationship with God and who I am in Him. I believe that my appearance is just as great of a witness as my words. Therefore, when I shop or get dressed, modesty is the best policy in guiding the decisions I make. I admit, I do hope to attract attention from the way that I dress... but it's the type of attention that I receive that sets me apart. Keeping up with the trends is fun, and I enjoy it. But I make an effort to find ways to do it while staying true to myself and Who I represent.

I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t faced any challenges while putting together modest outfits. What I have faced, though, are challenges to please everyone and their ideas of what modesty is. Some may think my skirts are too long, others think they’re too short. Some think being fashionable isn’t modest, some think fashion and modesty go hand in hand. Some people think the mere fact that I post outfits on a blog for the world to see is out of pride and the opposite of modest, and others think it’s brilliant and encourage me to continue blogging. As far as putting together modest outfits – that’s the easy (and fun) part of it all.

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4. TB: Do you agree that being a modest dresser has sharpened your sense of style? If so, how?

Typhanie: I do agree that being a modest dresser has sharpened my sense of style, and more importantly, it has helped me find my own personal style. Before I was saved, back in high school, I was considered one of the best dressed. I used to spend tons of money on the latest styles and wear things that I wasn’t comfortable wearing just to be a “crowd pleaser.” When I got saved, I got rid of 90 percent of my wardrobe and started from scratch to rebuild my closet. I still had a desire to be stylish, but I wanted to do so in a way that would be pleasing to God and true to who I am.

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5. TB: What is the most creative thing you’ve done to turn a not-so-modest-outfit into a modest one?

 Typhanie: Comfort and convenience are important to me, so I usually buy clothes that are ready to wear and aren’t in need of any effort on my end to make them appear modest. If I need to, though, some tricks of mine are to buy a few sizes up to meet my length requirement and then either get it altered or use a belt to make it fit my body better. I’ve also done some interesting things with scarves.

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For more of Typhanie's super cute pics, follow her on instagram. :)

Truly Honored to Present...Eden Organix

"Do you want some water or tea?" "Tea please."

Like a well-oiled machine, Valerie handed me the tea, took my sweater and scarf,  and gave me paperwork to fill out. I felt like I was at the doctor's office. But unlike my doctor's office, I had the luxury of waiting on a petite, modern sofa. To top if all off, the tea was perfectly warm and refreshing at 9 am on a brisk Saturday morning.

I wandered around the caramel-colored waiting area, feeling quite nosy. There were organic beauty products on the shelves and jewelry on display. Accolades and awards filled the walls, including Valerie's feature in Essence magazine, and her 40 Under 40 Business Award. I could have sat there and read them all. A very impressive collection for a business that's only been open for five years...

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That was the beginning of my experience at Eden Organix, an Eco-Conscious Spa & Salon. Founder and CEO of Eden Organix, Valerie Robinson, personifies inspiration. She left her comfy corporate job and started Eden Oganix out of a passion for natural organic beauty products. Her credentials include a degree in chemical engineering and an esthetics- skin care license. I sat down with Valerie to learn more about her experience running Eden Organix. Here's what she had to say:

Trulypsm:  What triggered the idea to start an eco-conscious beauty company?

Valerie: When I was at my corporate job, I was going to school part-time for my MBA at the University of Maryland. While there, I wrote a business plan for a spa, but I never did anything with it. When my daughter was born, she was allergic to so many things, and it affected her skin. I was at the doctor's office at least twice a week, but the doctors were never able to give me answers or prescriptions that worked— it was nerve-racking. Shortly after my daughter was born, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was then that I  started paying more attention to the ingredients in products, and was careful not to  put anything toxic on my daughter's skin. People started asking me where I was getting my products, and that was a motivating factor for me. I decided to review  the business plan I had written in graduate school, put some numbers to it, and started looking for locations.

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Trulypsm: I read that you did some research at MIT. What, if any, influence does that research have on the products you carry?

Valerie: I did research on surface cosmetics  in the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center at MIT. The focus of the research was surface tension which is basically studying the way different surfaces such as skin, are affected by various products. That experience made me more aware of different ingredients. Now I inspect the ingredients closely before I decide whether or not to  carry a particular product.  Chemicals like formaldehyde, propylene glycol, ethyl glycol, and sodium laureth sulfate are automatic no-nos. I usually refer to the list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to find out if a product is considered toxic. If it's on the list, I won't sell it here.

Trulypsm: What other features do you look for before you decide to sell a product in the store?

Valerie: Beside the ingredients, I like to look at the packaging. If it looks attractive to the customer, they're more likely to want to buy it. Another thing that's important is the type of marketing support the product company offers. I usually have the company give me samples of the product so that I can test it out on myself first. If I like it, then there's a good chance customers will too. Most of the products at Eden Organix I've tried out personally.

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Trulypsm: What skills from your corporate job do you use at Eden Organix?

Valerie: I would have to say my sales skills. I consider myself a people person, and enjoy talking with people. Marketing is also key and I'm always looking for different ways to market the company. Right now we are promoting our Trade-In Event which allows customers the opportunity to trade in their old, toxic make-up, and purchase new make-up at Eden Organix for a discounted price. Sometimes people like to wait until their make-up is finished before purchasing new stuff so that they don't feel wasteful. But if you give them new make-up at a discount, they are less likely to feel bad.

Trulypsm: Do you treat clients with severe acne or other more serious skin disorders?

Valerie: Yes, I do. I find that fifty percent of what happens with acne clients happens at home. If clients aren't following my prescription to a T, and  adding extra remedies their friend recommended, then it might not work.  Acne is also affected by diet. I recommend that my acne clients cut out certain foods such as dairy and gluten. For the most part, clients should be aware that they need at least a month to 6 weeks before they see a difference in their face. I think clients, particularly ones with acne, tend to be skeptical and  give up easily because they've tried so many different products. But it's important to be consistent with the products and spa treatments. You can't just say 'I'm going to get one treatment a year' and expect to see results.

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Trulypsm: I remember you telling me your plans for Eden Organix on your living room couch months before the plans were realized. What do you know now about building a business that you would have liked to have known at that time?

Valerie: There's definitely a  learning curve. When you own a small business, you have to do everything. I run operations, inventory management, human resources, and the legal aspects of the business. Looking back, I think I would have started with a smaller staff. I hired way too many people initially, and some did not have the necessary skills needed to run the daily operations of the business. One young lady helped me out a lot when I first started, but in hindsight I think I gave her too much leeway. On the other hand, I learned that you have to be patient with people because everyone has a different learning curve and skills. It's also good to use your friends as resources. I have  friends who are lawyers, some in HR, and others in marketing. They've all  been helpful to me.

Trulypsm: What direction would you like to take Eden Organix within the next five years?

Valerie: I'm actually starting a new program this week with Goldman Sachs called 10,000 Small Businesses. The program is for businesses that have been in existence for 4 to 10 years, and consists of a series of 10 hour trainings that occur every week for four months. I think the program will help me evaluate what direction I want  the company to take. I would love to create a product line and do commercials in the future. It will take some planning and I have to consider cash flow, of course. But I'm looking forward to networking with other business owners and talking with business advisors who can help me formulate a plan moving forward and provide me with feedback. ♦

Check out Eden Organix's online shop, and tell me what you think?