Nourishing Notes

Panel Planning: 8 Tips From Our Etsy Evening by Julie Schumacher

crowd copy We'd been kicking around the idea of a panel for some time and on July 8 Forth we hosted our first public event. A sold out crowd of current and someday Etsy store owners gathered to learn from five Forth alum who are veterans in the world of Etsy and/or ecommerce.

Here are some panel planning things we kept in mind as we got our Etsy on.

signageChoose a topic that matters.

A conversation between some Forth alum in a Facebook group about some challenges of Etsy had us thinking that if they could have an exchange that dynamic over the internet there'd be some sparks and magic in person, and some very valuable information for interested parties. I've never had an Etsy store but even I was curious about what they were talking about. That, my friends, means people who are invested would be interested.

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Find people who know their stuff and have opinions and questions.

Our panels are opportunities for the women of Forth to showcase their talents. Each brought a unique voice and area of expertise. Before the event, we asked each to share some tips and from those gave each a topic to ruminate on more in depth. Being a panelist can be nerve wracking so letting them get their public speaking sea legs with a topic they were prepared to talk about made sense. Picking people who know their stuff and are curious about how other's are doing it means a natural flow to the conversation instead of an back-and-forth between the moderator and a panelist.

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Ask people what they want to know.

Because the panel was open to anyone, whether they owned an Etsy store or not, we wanted to be sure the evening had value for everyone who attended. Eventbrite allows you to contact people who've purchased tickets. By writing each of them and saying "Hi! What are you curious about?" we were able to generate some broad topics for us to talk about and let attendees know they were in for a good evening.

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Pick a space that inspires.

Finding a space is hard. You need it to be big enough but not too big. You need it to have a layout that makes sense for the evening's flow. We talk about spaces all the dang time when we're planning the private salons. Our space host, Design Cloud, had up (as they always do) an engaging and beautiful show. We couldn't have picked a better venue. (And if you are looking for a space to cowork from, they do that too!)

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Reach out.

I don't like to ask for rides to the airport, so asking people to pitch in or donate or support is hard. I was nervous asking the panelists because, heck, they are all busy and fabulous. Bolstered by their enthusiastic yeses we wrote Penrose, a new brewery in Geneva to see if they were interested in being a part of the night. And you know what? They were enthusiastic and excited and so ridiculously helpful, too. And the beer! We were lucky to sample some of the first bottles of Penrose's Proto Gradus and P2. The worst a business or organization might say is no. And, we found, they often say yes. If you can present your event's WHY clearly and articulately, share why it might be of value to sponsor, and be as accommodating as possible you too might have delicious beer a-flowing.

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Make it feel special.

This is kind of the key thing we do at Forth. Women sitting around a table talking is great and all...but what makes the salons different is that we plan for a beautiful evening from start to finish. Here was no different and here that mean some tasty snacks to pair with the beers. Chocolate and cheese go well with Belgian beers. It was a low effort, high yummy way to make the evening special.


Get butts in seats.

A panel without an audience is wildly depressing. We tried a few things to help get the word out, and some of it involved the "just ask" approach. We had the support of the 50+ women who've attended a salon. Many of them shared the event with their communities. It was another instance of asking. We asked the panelists to share in their networks and asked everyone we could think of to point us to potentially attendees. We wrote to local design and events blogs and asked to be added to the calendar. We drafted press releases and contacted people who sold at local art fairs and popup shops who also had an Etsy presence. It was a ton of work but the result mattered.

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Get out of the way.

I like being in front of an audience. A lot. But even I know there are limits to my charm. After a Q&A we gave people time to talk. To talk to one another or to seek . Building connections and community is what we're all about. So while I would have liked another 20 minutes of rapt attention, dedicating time to organic conversation is a very good thing too.


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Give folks something to take away.

We took the top three tips from each expert and Lisa prepared a nifty takeaway for guests. Efforts like that make a difference.

We're working on getting audio up and available, so stay tuned!

Curious about something? Have a panel you think our community could rock? Let us know.




4xForth: Julie Morelli of Letterform and Nourishing Notes by Natalie Pavela

Each Friday we’re highlighting one of the lovely women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago places and restaurants, hearing what websites she’s all jazzed about, and gaining some inspiration from destinations she’s dreaming of traveling to next.It’s 4 x Forth Friday and today we’re talking to Forth alum Julie Morelli who co-owns the graphic design studio Letterform with her husband Andy, and is also the chief creative lady at Nourishing Notes. Read on to learn all about what this lovely lady loves! 

Places I frequent in Chicago:

1. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits : What's not to love?! Everything is delicious, the space is so warm and inviting and their side yard is ADORABLE. As if that weren't enough, they have the friendliest service in town. I love it here.2. Mitsuwa Marketplace : A Japanese wonderland just outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights -you're right by it when you exit for the IKEA in Schaumburg. When you first walk in there's a paper goods section filled with all my favorite pens for my illustrations AND erasers shaped like sushi. In the actual food section you can find almost anything you need for a Japanese meal. BONUS : In the back there's a food court serving up serious bowls of ramen. You'll need an entire afternoon here and it'll be way more rewarding than IKEA.

3. Textile Discount Outlet : To be fair I was trying to find a spot I frequent that has nothing to do with food, this is as close as I got. A gigantic warehouse of a chaotic assortment of fabrics. I go here when I'm working on a new project (like our new aprons) to get an assortment of fabrics so I can go back to the studio and see what works best. It's a spectacle - the range of people shopping and working here are as fascinating as the range of fabrics. You'll probably get lost and lose cell phone reception so bring snacks and leave a crumb trail.

4. My backyard : My husband and I just moved to a new apartment in Logan Square and for the first time in eight years of living in Chicago, we have a backyard. We quickly filled it with all sorts of edible plants and it's my favorite spot to hang out.

Places I'll go someday:

1. Mallorca, Spain : Honestly, I know very little about this island other than I've read about a certain type of bread they make, which I would love to try. I travel for food and I have a feeling I would not be disappointed here. Plus I'd fly into mainland Spain first before island hopping, so I would have to eat my way through the whole country.

2. Acadia National Park, Maine : After watching the Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks, I want to go to all of our national parks but this one is way out there along the Atlantic Ocean and unlike anything I've seen before. I will obviously plan to go around prime lobster season.

3. Brazil : There are many reasons I want to go here, but let's be honest, I just want to try an authentic version of their national dish, feijoada. I have drooled over it on TV and in magazines but it's time I tried the real thing. I guess I would check out the beaches too, if there's time in between meals.

4. The Azores - Just look at where it is on a map! It's way out there in the middle of the ocean! I need to go. They make crazy amounts of cheese AND are surrounded by delicious seafood. A winning combo in my heart. If you can find the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain travels to the Azores, you'll fall in love too.

Best Bites in Chicago:

1. Old Fashioned Donuts : I'm old an old stick in the mud when it comes to my donuts. I want them to be classic, cheap, and not filled or topped with a million different things. This place has been around forever and understands the classics. Get the apple fritter and the buttermilk old fashioned donut. It's worth the drive. Seriously.

2. Middle East Bakery : I head straight to the back counter where it's overflowing with handmade meat and veggie pies. The parsley pie is deceptively delicious. Get a grab bag of everything at that counter, a tub of hummus, find a quiet spot in a park nearby, have a friend stop by with the wine… I can't think of a more perfect evening in Andersonville.

3. Beans & Bagels : ANY of their croissants. If I'm in a savory mood I go for the spinach. If I'm in a sweet mood it's a toss up between the almond and the chocolate, so I usually end up with both.

4. The Winchester : On weekends whatever they have dreamed up to pair with their amazing waffles…you WANT IT! One time my husband and I had a savory waffle (topped with poached eggs, bacon, kale, and apples) and followed it up with a dessert waffle (topped with fruit, lemon curd and happiness). It's unlike any other waffle you've ever had - the dough takes 16 hours to make!

Sites I lurve:

1. LTH Forum : The nerdiest Chicago food forum that ever existed. I don't eat anywhere without checking here first.

2. Chowhound : A more dressed up version of the LTH forum and with a national reach. Anytime I'm traveling I check here to see where / what people are eating.

3. Heritage Radio : Best podcasts! Check out "After the Jump", "Cherry Bomb", and "Sharp & Hot"

4. It's Nice That : So much great design inspiration from across the pond in the UK.

Thanks for sharing Julie! Bang Bang has my heart, Old Fashioned Donuts is 100% worth the drive south of the city, and a backyard full of plants sounds dreamy. Take us with you when you go to Acadia National Park!
You can find Julie on instagram, twitter, and facebook, or learn more about her work at Letterform and Nourishing Notes.

Forth Favorites From The Online Shops of Our Etsy Shop Owner Panelists by Natalie Pavela

You may have heard that on July 8th we're hosting a panel talk on the Ins and Outs of Etsy Shop Ownership at Design Cloud. Oh boy, are we excited! We're lucky enough to have some talented Forth alums who are also experienced Etsy shop owners. Four of these gals are going to be sharing their wisdom at the panel talk - Olivia Suchman Joffrey of Vigilante Paper, Johanna Winter Harper of JWH Designs, Julie Morelli of Nourishing Notes, and Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio. Today we're sharing a few of our favorite items from each of their Etsy shops.

Vigilante Paper is a purveyor of unconventional, colorful wedding invitations. Their collection marries hand-drawn illustration, pattern and lettering with the affordability and color of digital printing technology. We're loving this Mexican themed wedding invitation for a destination wedding and this sultry floral wedding invitation

Vigilante Paper Mexican Themed Wedding Invitation

Etsy Vigilante Paper Wedding Invite

JWH Designs creates whimsical dish towels, tea towels, and prints. We're swooning over the abstract layers flower sack dish/tea towel and the set of blue windmill flour sack napkins (perfect for jazzing up your table when dining alfresco!).

JWH Designs Abstract Design Dish Towel

JWH Designs Blue Windmill Napkin

Nourishing Notes makes letterpress printed greeting cards, art prints, screen printed kitchen towels. The preserve fruits and family recipes flour sack kitchen towel looks awesome when hanging on a blank wall in your kitchen. Julie's also got a great sense of humor, incorporating food into her messages for special occasions. We're especially digging the thank you berry much & cheese louise you're old cards. 

Etsy Nourishing Notes Towel

Nourishing Notes Cards

Le Papier Studio specialize in custom silhouette creations for young and old, fine art prints, silhouette jewelry, gifts for home, custom invitations and stationery. The father and son on swing silhouette printcouple on bikes gold foil print and gold foil birth announcement are a few beautiful ways to commemorate your loved ones.

Le Papier Studio Father and Son Etsy Le Papier Studio Goldleaf Print

Le Papier Studio Birth AnnouncementWant to hear more from these wise, wonderful women? And drink the first bottles of Penrose beer? We thought so. Seating is limited so get your ticket.