I grew up being completely obsessed with New Kids on the Block. I remember I had this technicolor sleeping bag with all of their faces on it and it was my absolute favorite thing in the world at that time. Donnie was, and is, my favorite (hi haters)! It’s been cool to see the band come back in a way with their recent touring and I found out yesterday they’re doing a cruise out of New Orleans in October. If I wasn’t going to be out of town, that’s definitely where I would be. Anyway, I found this vintage tee at Dress No Evil – it’s got little tidbits on each of the boys, like their star signs and favorite foods. I clearly needed it in my life.
Kathleen Currie is the creator of Smoke Perfume, a New Orleans-based company offering natural products like body oils, salt and sugar scrubs, candles, and perfume. I love the products and clever packaging, and the scrubs are the perfect gift for anyone. Kathleen is a massage therapist by trade, studied holistic health in college, and runs one of my favorite Instagram accounts– she’s always so positive and has beautiful photographs of not only her products, but also her sourcing process, ritual inspiration, and more.
Read on for more info from Kathleen and a special discount code for readers!
So New Orleans being the small community it tends to be, I met you a long time ago, but was introduced to your product line last year at a local event. Since experiencing it up close and personal, I’ve been an avid supporter of your line and loved seeing you last holiday season at all the bazaars! Can you tell us a little about how you started Smoke Perfume?
I created Smoke during a time in my life when I was getting more and more into essential oils and aromatherapy. While I did not initially set out to create a perfume or have the goal of launching a line, I could not deny my growing interest in blending oils. Smoke was born of this exciting experimental time and has continued to grow organically!
Where do you look to, or what do you do, for creative inspiration?
Travel and time in nature are my favorite ways to gain inspiration and perspective. A healthy amount of alone time is also essential for my creative process. Continuing education in just about any form has been important to me, too!
I’m totally on board with all of those – especially travel and continuing education! What are your favorite rituals for recharging?
I love exercise, and it’s very important to me that I move frequently. I like to spend time alone in nature. Meditation and yoga are both great. Self-care is super important to me–if I don’t feel good, I really can’t offer much. To that end, I enjoy baths, incorporating herbal remedies, giving myself facials, cooking, relaxing, and receiving body work.
I need a lot of alone time as well and I can tell a big difference in my energy levels if I don’t take time for myself. That’s not to say it’s always easy to make it happen, though. How do you carve out time to take care of yourself when you’re busy juggling the demands of working and running your own business?
Self-care is critical for maintaining my schedule and stamina! Luckily, as a massage therapist, receiving massage therapy is considered continuing education for my professional license, and I also like to practice what I preach to my clients.
I guess the main thing that helps is to schedule healthy activities into your day as you would an important meeting, so you don’t have a reason to skip. Taking care of myself is the first thing to go when I’m too busy or stressed, so I struggle with making time for it, too. At the end of the day, it’s worth the effort to make the time. It’s important to manage stress in healthy ways!
As I said earlier, I love your Instagram account and find it very inspiring. What are your top 3 favorite Instagram accounts?
I really like following herbalists and enjoy @lala_earth and @herbivorebotanicals for their beautiful feeds and inspiring businesses. @yogagirl also has a great global perspective on life, yoga, and everything in between!
What is the last book you read that stuck with you and why?
Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore was wonderful! I learned so much about caring for my skin holistically, and some great DIY recipes are included! Highly recommend it for anyone interested in skin care.
I know you are committed to sourcing the ingredients you use locally and being very involved in the sourcing process.
Sourcing is a huge part of the process for me. I really enjoyed researching and sourcing local sugar companies for the Ritual Sugar Scrub. I drive to the Lafourche Sugar Corp on Bayou Lafourche for my sugar and have really enjoyed fostering that relationship!
I saw you mentioned in your interview with Be Clean that oils have taken your skin from acne prone to glowing. Can you expand on what your skin problems were and what oils have helped with those issues?
I have struggled with acne throughout my twenties – so frustrating!. It really changed when I took my herbalism course. Through that, I learned that you need to address skin issues by cleansing and nourishing your liver and kidneys. Incorporating liver toning herbs made a dramatic difference in clearing up my skin.
Also, oil cleansing completely changed my skin! I’ve been oil cleansing for about 5 years now, and its balanced things out. I started by making my own blend of castor oil and sesame oil; now I use one of my body oils (either the rose or cypress). Oil cleansing has the ability to balance those stubborn hormonal breakouts. Now I still have to manage breakouts, but they are much less extreme.
Stress wreaks havoc on my skin, so I also try to manage that.
What are your intentions for this New Year?
To be honest, I don’t really make any! My forever goal is onward and upward…to keep learning and growing in the best way possible, never stagnant, always forward!
Use promo code SMOKY at checkout for 10% off your purchase – good until midnight on 1/25/16! Thanks for reading.
All photos courtesy of Kathleen Currie.
Currently Listening To:
This week’s picks from me & Jenn; listen on Spotify here.
“The Kids Were Wrong” – Memoryhouse
“The Moon Song” – Karen O, Ezra Koenig
“I Found a Reason” – Cat Power
“I Wish I Was In New Orleans” – Scarlett Johansson
I’ve been freelance writing and editing for about six years now. Since my full-time job is in healthcare and is not very creative, freelancing has been not only a great supplement to my income but a good side hustle and a way for me to keep my brain engaged. I get to learn about new things when I’m researching topics, help clients effectively reach their audience (thus finally using my Marketing degree), and various other cool projects.
A few people have asked me about how I got into freelancing, so here is my little round-up of advice on how to get started.
Determine why you want to freelance.
First, let me say that freelancing is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of putting yourself out there and you may go long periods of time – hopefully you won’t, but it’s a possibility – without getting paid or without new work. Are you prepared for the worst case scenario? As I said above, I have a full-time job so I’m lucky to be able to explore freelancing without having the pressure of having to make a full-time income out of it. If you can do it, I think building up your freelance business while working part- or full-time is a great way to go. Or maybe you just want to add in some freelance work on the side and are not planning to leave your other job, which is also great.
Think about your brand.
I know many people hate thinking of themselves or their services as a brand, but for lack of a better term, I use it here. This is basically just the way you want to represent yourself – and it should be consistent. Streamline the way your sites look and make it easy for people to find you. For example, my blog is called Spirit Style and Scribe, but that’s not the easiest to remember, so I also have a domain called NikkiMCarter.com, which is easier to say, but it just points to the “Services” page on my blog so I can tell clients to visit that page and include it in my e-mail signature.
Put some thought into naming your business if you’re not just going to use your name. I really like this guide on how to name your blog or site if you need some help with brainstorming. You’ll also want to think about what will set you apart from other people offering your services – for me, it’s that I’m not only accurate but super responsive, which many people appreciate in the digital age.
Produce a high-quality body of work that you can show potential clients.
I believe it’s essential to have a consistent body of work, so I make a point to post on my blog at least once a week. This serves multiple purposes: it shows that I can produce original content, gives me a dynamic portfolio to show clients, and keeps me on people’s radar as a writer. I also get the added bonus of getting to interview and meet some very cool people on the blog! When I was just starting out, my personal blog was the only thing I had to show potential clients, and it was how I got my first “real” freelance writing gig.
You may want to consider volunteering or doing an internship in order to gain experience. I’ve written for several clients on-the-house in order to have some good work to add to my portfolio. If you can afford to do it, it’s a great way to build trust and long-term connections, and it may lead to paying work down the road. Of course you shouldn’t plan to always work for free, but sometimes it’s one of the only ways to get that first foundation of experience.
Determine your rate.
Think about what a fair hourly or per-project rate for your services will be. This is a complex topic and there are lots of resources out there on setting your rate. I asked a couple of people for their advice since I had no frame of reference when I was just starting out. I wanted to be sure I was charging enough that the work was worth my time, but that I was also still quite reasonable since I was just starting out.
My opinion is that your goal should be to move towards charging per-project so that as you become more efficient, you don’t make less money. For example, if you charge $100 for a blog post, you know you’re going to get that $100 flat rate. If you charge $50 an hour and it takes you 2 hours to write a blog post at first, you’ll probably get better and faster over time, which means you’ll make less money if you’re charging by the hour – even though you’re giving the client the same deliverable. Remember that when you charge a flat rate, you’re also including all of the non-tangibles like how fast you are, being available to your client – things like that.
Here is a Forbes piece that goes more in depth on setting freelance rates.
Join a networking group.
Being a member of a group will expose you to new opportunities. Look up groups for writers, freelancers, or entrepreneurs in your area. Make business cards that align with your name/brand and give them out at events. Try to go to in-person events and put yourself out there. It can be tough, especially if you have social anxieties, but you can forge important connections this way. I met one of my clients at a small event and ended up doing some work for her, and she also referred me to people she knew, so it can definitely pay off. Even if you don’t get business from these groups or events, hopefully you’ll benefit from meeting new people and getting different creative perspectives.
Research online freelance job boards and communities.
I like Dreamers // Doers, CloudPeeps, and The Write Life. There are a ton of Facebook groups for writers and editors. Searching “Freelance job boards” also yields good results. I don’t personally like sites like eLance or content mills because it seems like they tend to go with the lowest bidder and that stresses me out, but you can always browse their listings and see what you think.
Tell everyone you know that you’re freelancing.
You never know who your friends and family know, and they may hear about an opportunity down the road and recommend you for it. You can also reach out to people who are in the position that you want to be in and ask them for their advice; I find people are usually more than willing to help. I think it’s exciting and inspirational to also visualize who your “dream” client would be and then figure out the road map to get you working with that person or company.
Update your social media accounts to show that you are now freelancing and share/post the work you’re producing. I don’t share things I’ve edited or ghostwritten, of course, but if it’s an article or blog post, I always do.
Use a professional system for invoicing and accounting.
I love FreshBooks and can’t recommend it enough. If you want to sign up, use my code for a free month of service!
….Lastly, and this is just my personal motto, but in order to be a good writer, I believe you need to do at least three things: write constantly (of course), read voraciously, and get out there and engage with the world. Travel. Have experiences. Say yes to new things. All of these things make you a more well-rounded person, which in turn makes you a better, more adaptable writer.
Currently Listening To:
Here’s the weekly roundup from me and Jenn; listen on Spotify here.
“Ghostwriter” – RJD2
“A Little Ticker Tape Never Hurt Anybody” – Kinski
“Mike Mills” – Air
“Coastal Brake” – Tycho
“It Takes Time to be a Man” – The Rapture
“Any Emotions” – Mini Mansions, Brian Wilson
“Boyfriend” – Best Coast
“Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” – Stars
[wearing: Cloth & Stone tunic, Bella Luxx sweater, Lululemon pants, Adidas Gazelles] If I could live in yoga pants for the rest of my life, I absolutely would. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a pair that I can wear to Pilates class that don’t look like the traditional leggings, with bonus points given if it was animal print. I’m wearing this cheetah…
[wearing: thrifted jacket via Little Flea, Topshop lace-up shirt, Chan Luu horn necklace, UNIF Valen skirt and sheer socks, Prada shoes] Happy New Year! Here are some pictures from a day trip out to Lincoln Beach in New Orleans East. This was the site of a popular amusement park, swimming pool, and entertainment center for African-Americans in the time of segregation…
[wearing: Michael Stars beanie, Madewell flannel, Monrow tissue tee, Alo moto leggings, Fluevog Malcolm boots] There are so many cozy flannels at Madewell that even though I made a vow not to buy another one this year, I got this one in spite of myself. I love these Alo leggings because they’re so much more versatile than your typical yoga pants, although…
[wearing: Jen’s Pirate Booty “Salem” Dress, Steve Madden for Shoemint booties] I think I’ve said before that I’m really close to dressing all in black all of the time, and this dress brought me closer to making that a reality. I love the fringed bottom and that each one is handmade. It can be worn alone in the warm weather months and…
[wearing: Topshop mockneck crop top, Jen’s Pirate Booty skirt, Seychelles booties] Last week I turned 31, and I was sad to see 30 go. Before now, I would’ve said my favorite age was maybe 22 or 24, but 30 just blew it out of the water. Everyone kept telling me once I turned 30, I’d feel different, better somehow. It…
“Killing Monica” by Candace Bushnell “Society celebrated the self-made man, but the concept of the self-made woman hardly even existed. Probably because what society insisted defined a woman were her relationships to other people.” Candace Bushnell is probably best known for creating the characters of Sex and the City. I’ve read a lot of her work and at first glance,…
Part I: North & South Nodes This year I became interested in the concept of North and South astrological nodes. My understanding of these is that your South nodes are your comfort zone and what you may naturally gravitate to, while your North nodes are what you should be aspiring or working toward in this lifetime. Remember all those quotes…