Sweet Mother of SWAG bags

As usual, our SWAG bags for the upcoming event runneth over with sweet, sweet, creative goodness. If you've attended our past events, you know that we like to give a little somethin' somethin' to our first 40 attendees. Not that we don't appreciate the rest of you who may in fact, be stuck in traffic across town or running maniacal-like, through the city to make it on a Thursday/ School Night. It's just that we've found that our contributors, who are mostly small designer/artist owned businesses, are more likely able to participate when we have a reasonable number.

That said, we'd like to take a moment to thank and give much credit to some of our participating SWAG bag contributors {with more to come}:
Chocolate Editions. is fine art for the senses. These beautiful chocolate bars, inspired by Pop Art, are hand crafted with the finest chocolates in gourmet flavors such as Neapolitan, Tangerine, Caramel along with the good old basics: Dark, Milk and White


Modern pop is a line of modern art prints and paper goods with a pop art twist for children and grownups. Founder Ryan Beshara, created the company in 2008 beginning with a line of witty stationary and calendars for adults. Modern pop has since grown to include prints, and personalized invitations for children. All prints are printed in-house using the finest watercolor papers and archival pigment inks.


Yep ARTS is a "super rad" print shop, in the Mission District of San Francisco, owned by artist Travis Weller. Specializing in providing commercial and fine art screen printing services, Yep ARTS happily uses a non-toxic and eco friendly process. Their work includes both paper jobs as well as tee shirt printing.


Little Gray Pixel is the on-line store front of artist Vanessa Morsse's arresting photographic prints. Falling in love with photography from an early age and using a little pink camera, Morsse has continued to shoot with the intention of outdoing the last capture. Her work can be seen on her flickr page as well as on her design blog, Little Gray Pixel.


Designer, Lindsey Cheney has taken her love for fabrics and crafting and combined it with her talent for design creating, The Pleated Poppy. Each fabric poppy pin has been lovingly created by hand and is the perfect embellishment to a garment, tote bag, or anything you can think of. The Pleated Poppy offers an array of beautiful blossoms and hand sewn fabric pieces for the home and your self.


Fossil Faux Studios, founded by artist/designer Marcia Stuermer is an innovative studio based in San Francisco that strives to create the highest quality artisanal resin work. The results are powerful, visual and conceptual statements that, like fossils captured in amber, are frozen in time. Because of its beauty and durability, this artisanal resin is the perfect application for everything from counter tops, feature walls to handrails and shower enclosures. Stuermer's work can be seen in some of the world's finest 5 star hotels, private homes and galleries.


Following the tradition of artisan tile studios, Filmore Clark offers the best in American art tile. Founder, Lee Nicholson has been in the tile business for over 15 years. Working in such a rich environment she began her love affair with handcrafted tiles and over the years had the realization that the American art tile maker is one of the best in world. Filmore Clark hopes to bring a new life to the custom tile election process.

With the belief that everything in your life should be pretty and chic....right down to your spiral bound notebooks and weekly planners, Pretty Chic San Francisco, offers a line of seven super chic styles to choose from. Slip it in your bag and scribble down dates, favorite restaurants, quick sketches or phone numbers. No more fumbling for an errant scarp of paper when you have a Pretty Chic notebook at hand. Each weekly view offers and inspirational quote as well. The perfect accompaniment for those of us iPhone and Blackberry users who still appreciate the written word.

SweetAmbs cookies, are the decadently beautiful epicurean work of artist Amber Spiegel. Each cookie is hand made with the finest ingredients and speciality flavor pairings. And if great taste wasn't enough, the intricate designs artfully created on every cookie, make it almost a crime to eat. Bespoke designs available.

Los Angeles based, stationary and greeting card company, Paper Pastries, offers "confections for your correspondence". You can email all day, but nothing takes the place of pen to paper, and with this, individually crafted paperwork with cleverly written copy, your personal correspondence factor just went up several notches.


And if you're not one of the lucky first 40, don't fret, we will be having a drawing for 5....yes FIVE, amazing products.

Blog Out Loud 5 Giveaways - YES!

2 x $50 gift cards up for grabs
Courtesy of Williams - Sonoma Design Trade Program

1 x Gold Tee
Courtesy of AphroChic

1 x Floral Bouquet
Courtesy of The Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb Gardens

We are thrilled to have some delicious giveaways for some lucky attendees of the 5th Blog Out Loud. And how do you win one of these goodies, you may be asking? Simply by attending out event, filling out a BOL card and enjoying the great discussion of our panelists.

For full event details, click here to check out the official BOL site.

RSVP to:
Rebecca lovinglivingsmall@yahoo.com
Megan beachbungalow8@mac.com

Blog Out Loud Interview
Kim Vallee

For our first Blog Out Loud interview of 2010, we are honored to have Kim Vallee of At Home with Kim Vallee and On The Web with Kim Vallee. Style expert and social media guru, Kim is definitely one to watch and to connect with. Kim has created a strong web presence and is one of the go-to people for style, design and social media. I personally have been following both of her sites for a long time and hope you get as much inspiration from Kim that I do. Let's hear what she has to say about defining your online voice, blog design and finding the time to get it all done.

You are a lifestyle and entertaining expert and offer incredible tips for the home on your popular blog, At Home with Kim Vallee. You also have a blog dedicated to social media and blogging tips that is full of engaging online ideas called On The Web with Kim Vallee. Plus all of your other projects, contributing to HGTV, interviews and more. Share with us how you started both your blog and how you created an editorial schedule.

I always wanted to the editor of a women magazine but I did not choose that as a career. It started when I ran a Web development company with my husband. He introduced me to blogging. I did it very casually for two years before launching At Home with Kim Vallee. This is when I got hooked.

I attend social media events every month for networking and to stay ahead of what is happening on social media. Plus, I am a presenter at “unconferences” three to four times a year. I also coach a few bloggers here in Montreal. Between and within these events, I needed a platform to discuss further what is happening in the blogosphere and how a blogger can use social media to grow their reach. I launched On the Web with Kim Vallee in December 2007. It was just before I migrated my blogs to Wordpress.

I prioritize one blog over the other. At Home is my main blog. I publish several posts a day on a typical weekday and I published one or twice during the weekend. I found that if you publish on the weekend, you will get more traffic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is no formal schedule for On the Web but I aim to publish once a week.

You have a great tone on your blogs. Share with us how you went about defining your voice and if, at all, it has changed as your blogs have grown.

What differentiates blogging from journalism is that the root of blogging is the way we are. We are aloud to share our feelings and can show our expressions. Plus, we write about what we are passionate about. This fact alone changes how you write as story.

Obviously my writing skill improved over the years. It is so much easier to write now. It is probably due to the fact that I found my voice. I also know my boundaries. Since my blogs have more than two years old, their scope is well-defined. I know what topics are appropriate and what I will not cover.

I shared lots of things about my taste, my ideal lifestyle, what I did, where I go, what are my dreams, up to what meal I cooked for dinner with my husband. But I also do not share our intimate life. I always been very conscious about that. What your question proves is that you can still share a lot of things about yourself and maintain a private life. This is what I mean by knowing what are my boundaries.

How important is social media when it comes to extending a company's voice? What tips would you give to a small business owner just starting out when it comes to setting up a blog and/or twitter?

Social media gives you a chance to show the world what you can do. It opens doors. But it is a long process. You build credibility one day at a time. When I started, I only dreamt on being paid to write an article for a traditional media. Last December, I wrote an article for the Toronto Star, one of the major newspapers in Canada. If I did not start my blogs, this would have never happened.

I found contracts for my husband’s business because I read the tweets of people looking for a supplier. If you connect with people on an authentic way, your followers will send you business opportunities when they see one. When you think about it, the cost of doing social media is a lot less than print advertising. Plus, it is easier to attract customers that fit within the culture of your brand.

After you opened your Twitter account, fill out your bio/description, and get familiar with the basics of Twitter. You need to figure out what you wish to talk about on Twitter. This will determine with whom you will connect. Then, you can write two or three tweets, follow like-minded people, and observe the conversation for a while. This way you will get familiar with the culture of Twitter. As soon as you get comfortable, start tweeting on a regular basis.

If you are willing to put the efforts, you can connect with the type of clients that you hope for. For it to work, you need to give advices to people, to be a problem solver, or to share informations about your market. In this mix, you can share on what projects you are working on. You could start with Twitter and then, you can add a blog to expand on the ideas that attract more attention. If you are present on social media, prospects get to know you and your products or services in a way that a corporate website cannot deliver. Many small businesses found that it can be best to build a blog with a few additional pages (contact, services/products, about) instead of a corporate Web site.

Your own blogs look amazing - very accessible, easy to read and full of content. There are so many blog templates available these days, what are your tips for picking a good theme? Also, how important is a well-designed blog?

Thanks, I am happy you like it. A blog design should be aligned with the culture of your brand and the audience. A well-designed blog conveys a sense of professionalism, which helps build credibility with new readers.

My blog is a very custom version of a Wordpress theme. I believe it saves you time to start this way. I worked with a developer and a graphic designer to get that result. Before you settle on a look, explore the supported features, google to see how well the theme is programmed, and ask people who used it if they had problems installing widgets or changing the headers.

I always check what a link to a post in Facebook looks like before selecting my theme. You aim to see the title of the post, an image of your post and an excerpt of your post. See more details on http://ontheweb.kimvallee.com/2009/04/design-your-blog-theme-to-show-your-post-on-facebook/

Thanks, Kim!

Follow Kim @KimVallee

And check out more of our past Blog Out Loud interviews right here.


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Announcing Our Panel...
The 5th Blog Out Loud | March 4th | San Francisco

Rick Klau
Business Product Manager

Dave White
VP of Publishing

Jenny LaVelle
Associate Marketing Manager
Real Girls Media / Divine Caroline

Jeanine Hays
Creative Director and Founder

Micaela Hoo
Design Blogger
The Drifter and The Gypsy

Hello Blog Out Loud friends!!

We are excited to announce our awesome panel for the 5th Blog Out Loud event that will be on March 4th in the lovely city of San Francisco!! Since Megan and I started Blog Out Loud last June, we've really seen social media grow and expand at an incredible pace. We want our events to inspire you to be your best business self and having a dedicated online presence is integral in 2010. The best part though - it's never too late to jump in and go!

Join us at our 5th event and hear from our incredible panel. We are so honored and proud to have these 5 people join the Blog Out Loud community. We will be having the event at Barrel House right in San Francisco. We'll be sending out the official digital flyer next week but if you already know you want to attend, send us a note!


We will be live tweeting the event so if you can't make it in person, tweet with us!!