Samford University is home to six panhellenic sororities, one of which is Alpha Omicron Pi. The sorority is lead by an executive council that strives to make the chapter the absolute best it can be. Sarah McFarland, a junior accounting major from St. Louis, Missouri, has been the chapter president of Samford’s AOII for the past few months. Although McFarland enjoys binging shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends and eating far too many scoops of Edgewood Creamery icecream most of her time is spent serving with and for her fellow sisters. I got the chance to sit down her McFarland and ask her about her experience serving in such a crucial role and being a full time student.
Q: Where did your interest in aviation come from?
A: My dad does fly and I think that’s really what got me started with flying, you know just kind of being interested in that part of his life. So, he got me my first lesson (at Shelby County Airport). And after I took that first lesson, I was kind of hooked on it. It took me about a year of training to get my private pilot’s license which is the first license.
Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 but the history and idea behind the day is not commonly discussed. The concept for Earth Day was for the nation to focus on the environment for one day. Founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After seeing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and being ruled by the student anti-war movement, he related the public needed to be aware of the air and water pollution they were contributing. Nelson worked until the next year
Earth Day Network states that “on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” Learn more about Earth Day.
Meet Ashley Steiner, a junior at Samford University in Birmingham by way of Overland Park, Kansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas and Milton, Georgia. Steiner is a business major and actively puts her college studies to practice when running her own company, Ashley Ink & Paperie. Ashley Ink & Paperie prides itself with its faith based roots and offers a variety of products including: note cards, prints, custom stationery, invitations, calendars, and planners with handmade illustrations. When Ashley isn’t drawing or making , Ashley can be found sitting in a local coffee shop and engaging her local community. I asked Ashley a few questions about what it’s like running her own company while also balancing being a full time student. Ashley Ink & Paperie’s mission statement is rooted in Psalm 138:3, “He made me bold by strengthening my soul.” I had the chance to ask Ashley some questions about her experience running her own company and being a full time college student.
How long have you been running your own company and
how did you initially get into it?
I started Ashley Ink & Paperie in 2013 right before my junior year of high school. I have had a passion for drawing ever since I was a little girl. I could always be found making greeting cards for friends and family, but I never knew this hobby could turn into a business! During my sophomore year of high school, one of my classes assigned an independent study project. My mom gave me the idea for the project to research how to create my drawings into notecards and prints instead of giving away the original copies. My research evolved into how to start a business and it became something I really wanted to do! In August 2013 before my junior year of high school, I officially launched Ashley Ink, which grew into Ashley Ink & Paperie in 2016. In October 2013 I sold my first wholesale order to a retail store, and in November 2013 I opened the Etsy shop.
Why stationery/paper products?
Growing up, I always made greeting cards to give family for holidays and special occasions. My friends started noticing and wanting cards too, so I decided to make copies instead of giving away the originals! I believe there is so much power behind the simplicity of a handwritten note. In a world so driven by technology today, sending a tangible message is even more important. As my company has grown, notecards and stationery are just a portion of the products. Prints, calendars, and planners are also popular among customers.
Have you ever considered making other products, say (for example) t-shirts, posters, phone cases, etc.
Yes! I am currently in the process of expanding product lines…more information to come on that soon! 🙂
Is there anything else to Ashley Ink & Paperie besides your products?
Ashley Ink & Paperie has a blog at ashleyinkandpaperie.com. Besides selling online, the company wholesales to stores in various states around the country and participates in local markets. I have presented my company in a few business competitions with Entrepreneur Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and Region’s New Venture Challenge. I was so surprised and blessed to have won both competitions last year! My company also sponsors Samford Zeta Tau Alpha by creating promotional materials for chapter events and philanthropy.
How do you balance managing your company and being a full time student?
Balancing life, school, and a business is honestly a lot like organized chaos sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it for anything! Holidays, summer, in between classes, and weekends are the major times I work on Ashley Ink & Paperie. Being a business major has been such a blessing (even though it’s hard!!) because the business school has been an incredible support for my company. I’ve been given incredible opportunities such as competing in business competitions and having an overflow of resources to learn and grow as a business owner. I’m a member of the Incubator Program for startup companies – which means I have access to mentors and an office space in the business building. I’m trying to come up with some good answer on how it all works together, but honestly, I know it’s not my own doing! There’s no other way to explain it – the Lord has been so faithful in leading me through this busy season of juggling school with owning a company.
How have you seen your company and/or products change since being a student? Has it even changed?
My goal as an artist and business owner is to never stop improving my artistic style. Since I have been at Samford, I have found so much inspiration that has greatly evolved my product lines. I have also traveled to lots of different places throughout college, all of which have inspired new work and products! My business classes have definitely helped improve the business side of operating my company and have sparked ideas for growth.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being the single mind behind your business?
There are lots of rewards at the end of the day that stretch far beyond any challenge I face as a business owner. However, I must admit that I am not the only mind behind my company. I’m an entrepreneur and artist at heart, but there’s no way I could do it all alone! My friends and family-specifically my mom who works with me-are my biggest helpers and supporters.
There’s nothing quite like meeting a customer for the first time and watching them find joy in something as simple as a notecard. It’s a feeling I cannot describe, but it gives so much reassurance in what I’m doing! I find so much joy in someone recognizing my notecards in O’Henrys or picking up a calendar from the Samford Bookstore. It’s the little things! My company is the channel through which I’m able to use the gifts I’ve been given in a tangible form, so I love waking up and being able to do that everyday!
How do you engage the community with your designs?
Social media is the major platform and means for communication with customers. Instagram by far has the most engagement, and it has been a fun way to connect with customers! I love creating local-themed artwork as well. It connects with customers on a home team level, and some of these local products are the most popular! Getting out and meeting customers the good ole-fashioned way through markets is also a fun way to engage the community.
Has there ever been a moment when you’ve considered discontinuing your business?
Oh, definitely. There are always unforeseen bends in the road and times that I’ve wondered if all the work is worth it…but then I remember why I started my company. Its purpose is so much greater than any story I can tell myself, and its calling comes from gifts and passion the Lord has placed in my life. In challenging moments, I’m reminded that I can’t rely on my own strength to succeed. What a relief! It makes me think about one day last summer when I had a booth at a local art festival. I was so excited to be there, but the weather had other plans. A massive gust of wind and pop-up downpour carried my booth’s tent down the street! Yikes. Oh well. I learned that it’s okay for business things to not always work out the way I expect–sometimes you win, and sometimes you get wet! Through every hard time, the things I have learned in the end help shape me and my company even more.
What do you hope to see for the future of your company some day?
I am so excited for the future of my company! There are lots of fun things in the works as it evolves into a lifestyle company. More to come on all of that soon!
For more information about Ashley and her products…
Etsy shop: ashleyink.etsy.com
One of the best parts of my Samford experience has been all the creative people I’ve met during my four years here. One such example is Harrison Tarabella: a talented visual artist who got his initial training from professional National Geographic photographer. I sat down with Harrison to talk about where his passion comes from, his favorite experiences thus far and what’s next for him.
Answers have been edited for content and clarity.
We live in trying times. It seems that there is constantly so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. In a world where deadlines reign supreme and productivity is held in a place of honor, “procrastination” is shunned like a bad word. But, fret not! It is possible to put off doing that overwhelming task and still be productive. Cross something off of your to-do list with these great ways to procrastinate productively.
- Get organized. Take a moment to tidy everything up. Throw away the 45 coffee cups you’ve collected on your desk. Wash the dishes you’ve been pretending not to notice in the sink. Cleaning your home or workspace is a perfectly productive way to procrastinate; yes, you still haven’t finished that report your boss wants on her desk Monday morning, but at least you vacuumed. Besides, being surrounded by clutter hinders productivity, so clearing out all of that old junk might be the perfect way to get your mind ready to work.
- Feed your brain. If cleaning up didn’t do it for you, treating yourself to some brain food might help get your mind going. Start reading that book that has been collecting dust on your bookshelf. Learn a couple of new words in English … or maybe in Spanish. If you can’t force yourself to be productive, at least you can make yourself smarter.
- While you’re at it, feed your body, too. Let’s face it: You can’t work well on an empty stomach. When was the last time you ate something that was green? And, no, those St. Patrick’s Day-themed cupcakes don’t count. Consider preparing a healthy meal or snack to fill your belly before getting to work.
- Catch up on events in the world around you. Have you been ignoring everything going on in the world? Now is the time to catch up on all the current events you’ve been neglecting. Spend a couple of minutes reading or watching the news.
- Take time to focus on self-care. In this stressful, work-oriented world, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Don’t doubt the importance of maintaining good mental health when it comes to working. Self-care and self-love are important for productivity and an overall better quality of life. So, spend a little quality time with the most important person in your life: yourself! Treat yourself to a hot bath or curl up on the couch in your coziest pajamas and watch that episode of Game of Thrones you can’t believe you missed. Perhaps you could even go for a run to clear your mind or meditate to center yourself. Yes, you have work to do, but you know that you’ll get it done eventually. As much stuff as you have on your to-do list, you deserve a little break!
Have you ever felt like your creative freedom is stifled by your work environment? That you have no time for creativity in your work because you are constantly managing and maintaining your business?
One emerging business owner successfully crafted a solution.
Madison Whiteneck is the mastermind behind Keeping the Creativity, a business that manages busy work for companies so business owners can get work on what matters. They can get back to creativity.
Whiteneck graduated from Samford University in 2016 with a degree in journalism and mass communication and has turned her combined passions for creativity and organization into a business.
Her vision is to provide local creatives with services such as social media, product launch, inbox management and large-scale writing pieces. She achieves this through virtual assistant services, or management of the “little things,” which normally occupy the visionary’s brainpower and time.
Keeping the Creativity also provides freelance services including InDesign work and editing. The services range from daily assistance to passion projects.
When Whiteneck is not busy planning her own life, she is at work planning the lives of others. Her new website launched this month, and her network of creatives continues to grow.
In Whiteneck’s business venture, it pays to be creative. Here is a conversation with Whiteneck about how her ambitious idea helped launch Keeping the Creativity.
Where did the idea for Keeping the Creativity originate?
Keeping the Creativity originally started out as a blog. My 9 to 5 job right out of college was pretty limiting to my personal creativity and I wanted to “keep the creativity” alive, so I started blogging. I wrote about everything from DIY’s to local coffee shops and my latest favorite outfits. I offered freelance services at the time so I started to feature more of my projects on my website as well. When I left my first career job, interest in my blog turned business grew a lot so I started taking on full time clients and more freelance projects.
What is the most challenging part of starting your own business?
Finding and landing new and exciting clients. Having a local creative network has helped me a ton in gaining projects that I am excited to work on, but I always want to keep extending that network as much as possible. It takes a lot of work to reach out to others and turn it into business. Most of the time when I reach out to other creative, it just starts as a mutual interest in a project or idea and then it turns into a collaboration or working together, which I love.
What is a valuable lesson you have learned since starting Keeping the Creativity?
Don’t let other people’s negative opinions discredit your hard work. I have put in a lot of time and effort into building my business and I understand there can be a lot of competition out there, but I have to just be myself and do the best with what I’ve got.
What is your advice to someone dreaming up a large-scale business idea?
Take a serious look at the time you can devote to your idea. Also, look at your finances because you have to invest a lot in the beginning. This past year, I invested almost half of what I made into my business, but it has paid off. In the first two months of 2017, my income has already equaled all of what I made last year with Keeping the Creativity.
What is your vision for the future of Keeping the Creativity?
I would love to work with more creatives to help them execute their big brand ideas. It would be great if Keeping the Creativity could evolve into a creative consulting agency. Who knows?! I am keeping the door open on those aspects for the future.
Have you ever heard of some of the suburbs of Birmingham and wanted to visit, but weren’t sure what to do there? We here at The Local will take time over the next four weeks to take you to the most popular neighborhoods of Birmingham and highlight the best things to do there.
Homewood is a thriving suburb south of Birmingham that balances the world of commercial retail and local joints, making this city a unique place to spend the day touring.
When you first arrive in Homewood, shop around and get something to eat on the iconic 18th Street in downtown Homewood. The strip of diverse stores and restaurants will bring the small-town feeling to life as you pop in and out of the locally run shops.
Next, drive less than a mile over to Do It Yourself Crafts to immerse yourself in a creative and relaxing environment. From making pottery and painting to glass fusing and decorating ornaments, there are a wide variety of crafts you and your friends can make together. Classes are offered throughout the week and spaces are available for parties and group events.
Urban Air is the next stop, especially if you have kids with you. Let them get all their energy out at the indoor trampoline park as they jump on wall-to-wall trampolines, dunk
basketballs in super tall baskets, play dodgeball and flip into the huge foam pits. The family-friendly trampoline park hosts birthday parties for all ages.
When it’s time for dinner, the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood will satisfy your hunger. With all types of cuisines, it’ll be hard to choose what to eat.
Once you’ve finished up your meal (and ice cream from the local creamery) stroll down to Homewood Park, where you can play ball or watch the sunset.
Let us know how your day in Homewood was in the comments below.
- Christmas Tree
Whether it’s tall or short, nothing makes a home more in the Christmas spirit than a Christmas-lighted tree. Inexpensive, artificial trees are found cheap at Big Lots or Ollies stores. Small trees can be found for cheap at Salvation army!
- Garland and Christmas Lights
Many dorm rooms or apartments may already have Christmas lights hanging. What better way than to make the space feel more Christmas-like and the wrap garland around the lights!
- Hot cocoa in a Christmas mug
Nothing may feel more like Christmas than ending a long day on a chilly night with a cup of hot cocoa in your favorite Christmas mug!
- Peppermint candles
They may not be allowed in the dorms, but fill your home with Christmas air this holiday season!
- Spotify Christmas playlist
Nothing brings more cheer than filling your rooms with Christmas music for all to hear!
- Christmas movie night
Gather your friends and enjoy a cozy favorite Christmas movie!
As fall approaches, it is always so exciting to embrace all things orange and cinnamon. Today we have compiled a few different resources to get you ready to take on fall in full swing! We have included a few Do-it-Yourself projects to decorate for fall as well as some free fall prints that you can hang up!
G O L D S P R A Y P A I N T…. is your best friend!
Gold spray paint can make anything look cute! It also can live on into the Christmas and New Year’s seasons! Find a few things that you can add a touch of gold spray paint to. Our favorites were edging a few pumpkins, pine cones, and leaves! You can purchase pumpkins or you can just go for a walk and collect leaves and pine cones and minimize your cost to just the spray paint!
After collecting what you desire to spray paint, head outside with a few paper towels and tape them to the areas that you do not want spray-painted and have a few cute pieces for decor!
P I N E C O N E G A R L A N D ….scented!
Step 1. Gather about 12 pinecones
Step 2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
Step 3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the pinecones on top.
Step 4. Place in the oven for about an hour and then let them cool.
Step 5. Hot glue the ends of the pinecones to a blank inch piece of burlap- then hang!
T W I G H A N G I N G
Step 1. Find a twig outside and cut the branches to a size that fits the items you want to hang.
Step 2. Tie a string to both ends and hang with a thumbtack or nail. Place items on the branches!
F R E E F A L L P R I N T A B L E S
GIVE THANKS WITH A GRATEFUL HEART