Trade Secrets: Good Ideas Take Time

Painting Supplies : A Beautiful MessTrade Secrets- Good Ideas Take TimeHave you ever noticed that some ideas work out perfectly while others fall flat? We experience the same thing, week after week. What causes some ideas to blossom and others to lose steam? We think that a major factor is the time and energy invested. Good ideas take time. Sometimes they take a LOT of time. Here are a few ways to practice patience during the creative process…

1. Fill a page with ideas. 

If you're working on ideas for blog posts or a new etsy product, never settle for the first thing that pops into your mind. Instead, take the time to write a whole page of ideas and choose the best ones! Here's an example… When I design a new dress collection I want to make sure I am choosing the right designs. For a 10 piece collection I will fill a whole journal with sketches. This was I've thought about every dress with a variety of different details. I'm able to flip through the entire book and choose the strongest pieces. I love that! 

2. Let your idea sit till tomorrow.

Emma and I often get frustrated halfway through a DIY project. We had a good idea, we invested in supplies and then it just isn't coming out as we hoped it would. I've always been a project starter, but I only finish the ones I feel good about. We've developed the habit of letting the challenging projects sit overnight. The next day we come back, feeling fresh, and brainstorm solutions together. Many of our projects have turned out even better than we originally planned (like this one) because the first version was a fail. 

3. Choose quality over quantity. 

Over the years we've learned this lesson. Sometimes ideas have to be cut. It's painful, especially when you've invested time and money into an idea. If you've given an idea time and patience, but it's still weak consider moving on. Save your energy for other projects. Part of being a creative business person is realizing that some ideas just don't work out. If you consistently choose quality, you'll be able to look back at your body of work with a smile on your face. 

School Desk : A Beautiful MessXO. Elsie + Emma 

*Trade Secrets is a new weekly feature that we will be writing. We will share business, blogging and organizational tips mixed in with plenty of personal stories! What are some questions or topics you'd like to read about? 

  • Smart. It’s always good to remember that no one has 100% good ideas the first time at bat … Let them simmer a little bit!



  • I really enjoyed reading your blog basic design tutorial. I’m not sure how doable this would be, but it would be helpful to know how you create a more professional look for your blog (i.e. how do you make cool tabs and headers?). I think sharing information about how you first incorporated sponsors into your blogs would also be helpful.

    I love how you always talk about the importance of blogging because you love it (not because it will make you money) with any advice you give about blogging. It helps keep everything in perspective.

  • Yes! Tips of the trade would be AWESOME. I’d love some suggestions on when and how to approach possible sponsors, how to network effectively with other bloggers, and lots of photography tips.

  • great post! i can’t wait for the blogging tips either 🙂
    although all three topics sound great!
    xo, cheyenne

  • So glad you gals are going to be continuing this feature! I’d love to hear some tips (maybe “things you might not think about, but should!” regarding starting your own boutique. Thanks for all that you share with us! 🙂

  • such a cute desk, did you make it? i’d love to see more!
    also awesome feature, as a young scrapper i’m all ears to some advice, maybe about design or readership!

  • Hello, I’ve been reading you for a while now… i so interested in this business series, because i’ve always wanted to start a blog… but never quite feel like i have something “more” than other blogs to say about a specific topic… plus the idea of finding readers (many readers) kind of scares me …

    one of my main weakenesses is telling people that i know that i have a blog that’s worth reading … i fear that it’s like showing off (but i know that it’s not!) …

    anyway, i’m really looking forward to read this series, I especially love personal stories about that! 🙂

    ciao from italy!

  • I’m so excited about this feature! I love hearing you guys share tips and tricks, not to mention inspiration and creative ideas. Always makes me itch to just do something. 😀

  • Great Idea! I’d love to know more about your guys blog content brainstorming process. What’s your criteria for what gets chosen? And how did you build up to get so many viewers…besides the fact that this blog is just amazing 🙂

  • I’d really like some motivational blogging tips. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going with your blog when there’s zero reward. I want to stay true to my style but is that something people want to read about? Should I just shut it down or keep going? The internet is limitless and there are always more famous or professional sites out there.

  • I’m so excited for this series of posts. What a good reminder to only choose the best of the best out of your work…I am finding that I am a product + picture pack rat! And I must break this cycle, because I am a firm believer that you are only as good as your weakest link:). Thanks for the encouragement.


  • Re: your vintage school desk, your dad sounds pretty awesome! My dad is very handy (and also awesome), but I can’t imagine him helping me with creative projects. He’s the practical kind of guy.

    I’m looking forward to this series. I’d love to hear more about how your business has grown over the past few years. I admire you both so much, and I’m very curious about how it all evolved. Maybe you have tips about finding/making opportunities, or about how to tackle a big, intimidating new venture. I don’t mean that you have to spill all your secrets, just share a few of them 😉

    I’ve really enjoyed your photoshop tuts lately, and the blog design post by katrina… keep ’em coming!

  • Elsie, would you pretty, pretty please let us see some of your journal sketches for your dresscollections? I know I would love to see some!

  • I agree most with your quality over quantity tip. Having stronger designs, photograph, etc. will always be more effective than a ton of varying quality. – I’m excited for this series. – I’d love to read about networking tips for bloggers and even more photography tips, maybe on self portraits.

    – tianna 🙂

  • this is such a great idea! i do have a question…what advice/ tips would you give to a beginner blogger/shop owner to improve sales in the shop and grow the blog?

    xo. hollyerinn

  • I’d really love to hear from you guys any tips and tricks of owning an online clothing shop or business. How to make it blossom, advertising, marketing, ect.

  • This is a really great post. I am a new blogger, and have already started struggling with the “I need to post but don’t have any quality stuff” freakout. I have been told to not blog unless I’ve got something I really want to say, but it’s SO hard to balance a LOT of posts with quality posts.

    Looking forward to this weekly read!



  • I love this feature! Thanks for sharing your tips! How do you ladies balance running Red Velvet with maintaining A Beautiful Mess? It seems like being so constantly creative would be draining!

    Smiles and all the best,

  • I’m really happy about this new feature! The trade secret posts have been a favorite for me on this blog. You guys have a lot of practical advice, great tips, and real life lessons. Thank you!


  • You’re awesome, Elsie and Emma. ♡ Not a lot of successful people are willing to share their trade secrets. You’re starting the eternally admirable example of sharing! I’m so excited about this new feature!

  • Love this new series! As much as I like looking at pretty pictures (and I really do!), the main reason I regularly visit your blog is to get inspired by your entrepreneurial spirit and the wonderful way you balance creativity and business. Really looking forward to reading more posts in the series… Thank you! x

  • I really enjoyed this post and resonate with the idea of filling a page with ideas. One of my friends said to me once that our best ideas come when we get out all of what we think our “best” ideas are….totally true! The little desk photo is precious-it makes me want to paint little vignettes all over my desk right now. Thanks for always seeking and succeeding to inspire your readers!

  • I would love to know the nitty-gritty of what goes in to maintaining a blog that functions as a business. How do you get sponsors? Do they approach you, or do you approach them? How do you market yourselves, and is there a secret to getting followers or does it just happen naturally if you blog has the “it” factor? I would love to see any of these topics in future Trade Secrets posts. You girls have great creative advise!

  • Thanks so much for the tips! I start a lot of projects but rarely finish them… So hopefully I will now 😉


  • Great feature! Good to remember! I can’t wait to see what else you write about!

  • I love this new feature idea! As a rising junior in college, with one more year to go, and a passion for sustainability, fashion, food and sooo many other things, I’m wondering how do you narrow your focus and know where to start? I guess what I’m asking is: how did you find your “calling,” so to speak? That would be very interesting to hear about!

    Oh, I’m such a huge fan btw. You guys are very inspiring!

  • I would love to see more about your(Elsie, i believe) Binder with sticky notes. I am always trying to stay organized with blog ideas, new craft ideas and my school schedule. I would love to see more of your system of organizing.

  • Fabulous new feature! So generous of you to share and I look forward to more great tips!
    Happy weekend:)

  • I would love to read about the more technical blogging info. do you manage all of your pictures? Do you upload pictures everyday? How do you organize the photo folders on your computer? And more technical photo information, like which setting on the camera for picture size do you use? Do you take all of your pictures with the manual mode and change the iso and aperture or use auto? Thanks!

  • I have been going thru your dream job course and it is so inspiring. I recently took your advice and bought my .com address but I haven’t done anything with it and am still using my blogspot account, because I know nothing about setting a site up myself. I bought it thru GoDaddy and they offer web hosting for $5 a month. I wasn’t sure what the process was for setting up a site like that and about web hosting. I know that Emma did the coding and such for your site and I wasn’t sure if she had training in that or if it’s possible for a semi-tech savvy girl to figure out how to do it on her own. Help Ladies.

  • Just a suggestion…as I was reading your post, I had an”idea” that might help when things aren’t going so well on an intended project. Sometimes we just can’t make it work, but wouldn’t it be fun if you posted pics of a project that isn’t coming together the way you planned, and rather than wasting materials you have invested in, see if someone else’s eye might see something entirely different in the items you have started with. It could be very interesting to hear what they would do with it and maybe come up with something that would be doable albeit it different. Just a thought…..:)

  • Maybe you could throw some of your ideas to your readership– there are a lot of creative minds out there, & we are more in to sharing than strictly being taught! Allowing some of your “mistakes” to be thrown to the audience, so to speak, will re-humanize the blog a bit. I can’t imagine the stress you are under, trying to come up with new craft projects day after day–

  • Great post and just what I was in the mood to read right now. I’m really excited about this new series as I love hearing your advice on business and creativity. Something I would love to learn about would be how to get out of creative ruts/blocks because, currently, that is what I am experiencing. Another topic I would be interested in is self-promotion and how to get one’s blog or Etsy shop seen by the right target audience. Thanks, ladies!

  • Emma and Elsie, thank you for this great advice! Photographing, writing, and editing tutorials takes a ton of time, a lot more than people think, so it’s super frustrating when they just don’t work out. I’m not glad that I’m not the only one who’s had to give up on a project, but it’s comforting 🙂 Over the years I think I’ve definitely gotten more selective and willing to ditch something that just doesn’t live up to the idea in my head.
    I’m really looking forward to reading more of your Trade Secrets!

  • Yay! So excited to hear more from this series! As an aspiring future business owner, I’m exicted 😀

  • This series sounds great! I tend to have the problem of having too many ideas… I need to learn to weed them out better.

  • I love these features- thank you for being so generous with business advice and your personal experiences- it really helps! 🙂

  • I’m so excited about this new series – you always give such good advice! I think I’d like to hear some tips on work/life balance and productivity as it’s something I can struggle with (I’m a procrastinator and a daydreamer – not the best mix).

    Thanks, Lois x

  • I love this post! Very excited for future posts too 🙂 I’d like to see more blogging tips, and also organisation tips! Whether its for projects or even the home.

  • I’m a songwriter and I think it would be really cool to ask Jeremy his songwriting process and how he gets his ideas and how he overcomes writers block. Even though he isn’t necessarily a huge part of this blog I feel like many others would benefit!

  • Id love to learn how to produce a clothing line, where do you go to get it produced? whats the design process and how to successfully execute a well curated line. You guys seem to do it effortlessly and Ive heard it can be a very costly endeavor.

  • Yay! Oganization ideas are my favorite! I’d love to see more of those.You guys have such cool ideas, they always inspire me. I also just wanted to let you guys I know I shared a link on my blog to one of your DIY projects that I tried out. hope thats ok!

  • I am so excited about this new feature!! It will be fun to read what you ladies have to say about these topics. I guess I’d like to hear more about your brainstorming process. You always talk about journaling, and I’d kind of like to know what that looks like/what that process is.

  • Oh my god, I am so excited about that new weekly feature. I bought months ago BlogLove (ecourse) and it was really fantastaic. I worked hard and I decided to open my blog the first of august (its been already two weeks!). I’m having fun for sure but I know that I am a beginner, I need advices and tips and I think it will take long before I get a real active blog but I’m having fun and I think that’s the point. Anyways, thanks for those pretty tips and that beautiful picture!

  • Thank you so much for these tips! I think the creative process is so important for everyone.

  • Great article! I’m definitely a sucker for getting exciting over new ideas for a creative project and then losing steam for various reasons. So this was excellent advice for me!

    Very excited that you’ll be continuing articles in this category:)

  • This new feature makes me so happy. These tips are so simple and helpful. I can’t wait to learn more about blogging and inspiration. I have a really hard time starting and getting inspiration. Are you ever in a creative rut? What do you do to get out of it?

  • Great tips.. I can not wait to get more. Especially about blogging and building a readership. Looking forward to next week.

  • This is the best feature idea ever!

    I’d like to know more about blogging as well…particularly about finding readers. I even took your blogging course and it sort of skims over the subject of networking (read and comment on other blogs), but that concept is still so blurry to me. Where exactly did you find readers when you brand brand new?

    Also, more peeks into your journals are always welcome! It’s amazing to see how your simple sketches turn into beautiful works of art. I’m addicted. Especially peeks into your personal traditions. You talk about them a lot.

  • Oh, and one more. How about more trade secrets about vintage-picking. I know you’ve written tips about thrift shopping, but how do you know if you’ve found real vintage? What should you be on the lookout for?

  • Great advice, ladies 🙂

    I’m not super good at planning so this perfect for a scatter brain – like myself!

  • I love your organizing tips and often wonder how you organize your photos. With literally thousands of photos to choose from, I’m always delighted so see a photo added to a blog post that may have been taken a year ago. I always think to myself that you must have your photos über organized to be able to mix the new and the old so well, cuz I know you don’t have all day to sit around and search messy pic folders.

  • yes, pics of bad fails turned into something new and beautiful. I have a table I got for $10 and tried to remove veneer, and it was plastic and gooey, and then found another stuck on forever layer underneath. any ideas? I’m thinking the pic of the pallet table looks interesting. any tutorials on that one?

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