We’re live! Thanks for following us so far and please continue to follow us starting today on www.quarterlette.com.
Last weekend we wrapped up three days of wearing our directors’ hats with the final shot of our video - a Qlette Fiesta in Sheep Meadow (a large, playful lawn in NYC’s Central Park). Decked out with bright colors, comfy blankets, enough food for a feast and the extra touch of a piñata, the scene captures friends catching up over lemonade, cookies and basking in the sunshine (thank goodness!). It is meant to bring to life Quarterlette - the feeling of being in a cafe, bar or anywhere catching up with the girls, swapping stories, laughing, crying and laughing so hard they cry.
In our minds the party was a success with everyone devouring the treats, tanning (or burning, whoops) their skin, making new friends and even enlisting the help of the neighboring children to break the candy out of the piñata. The film we’ve had sneak peeks of shows this off proudly. There is more to this scene than meets the eye though. Woven through it is our branding in both the colors, setting and tone. Over the last year and a half, we have put a lot of thought behind the image of Quarterlette - voice, color palettes, logos, site layout - to ensure it properly reflects the brand and resonates with our reader. The site itself is clean and user friendly. The half printed/half scripted logo showcases the structured and playful, unpaved sides of our girl. Finally the colors are made up of black, grey and a powerful, bright pink (a specific pantone that we unofficially claimed as Quarterlette pink). Contrasted against the neutral colors, it brings brightness to the site making it pop while keeping it simplistic.
Having these branding basics settled, it is easy to go overboard with interjecting the bright pink touch anywhere and everywhere - and really you can put it anywhere. However, without much money in the bank we’re rather limited to what we can actually execute. Alas, dreams of hot pink sunglasses and beach balls aside, we’ve become inventive, especially for the final video scene. We wanted the shot to be bright with splashes of Quarterlette pink, so we staged it with pink balloons, watermelon, pink lemonade and a delicious batch of strawberry sugar cookies coated with an extra punch of bright pink sugar (whipped up by the one and only Wendy Wei). As the last cookie was plucked from the tin, someone suggested making these gooey, melt-in-your-mouth cookies the official Quarterlette cookies leaving us with a unique piece of branding to add to our style guide.
As a thank you to our followers, here is the standard Gooey Butter Cookie recipe with Wendy’s added twist!
-1 box Strawberry cake mix (any flavor cake mix works)
-1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
-1 stick butter, softened
-1 large egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tstp almond extract
-2 tablespoons strawberry jam
-Powdered sugar for coating
Preheat oven to 350. Cream together wet ingredients with mixer (butter, creamcheese, egg, vanilla, almond, jam) until well blended. Add in cake mix and beat until soft dough forms. Use tablespoon to spoon out dough and roll into ball and coat with powdered sugar. Bake on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 12 minutes. Allow to rest for 1-2 minutes and cool on racks.
*If you are using other flavored cake mix you can omit the jam
Be sure to make enough to share!
We may have never competed in the Olympic Games, but I can assure you all of our mothers saw an Olympian in each of us. Rather than preparing us for the cold swim lanes or high bar each morning, they dragged us out of bed (after humoring our pleas of just one more snooze), fed us the rightish foods and transported us from each and every activity we insisted on trying - all in an effort to allow us to explore the world.
Not being a mom, I watch this P&G Olympics commercial from the perspective of a daughter who is lucky enough to have her biggest fan be her mom. She’s an extremely patient woman who drove me to school when I missed the bus by a nanosecond, watched me play tennis quietly hidden from the sideline because she knew it made me nervous to have spectators, comforted my tears at my first job rejection and then celebrated my first job offer that closely followed - the support list goes on. Knowing Rachel and how tight she is with her own mother, I can assume her mom played a similar role in her life.
What our moms may find difficult is how they can help us in our lives today. They experienced a different kind of twenty-something. One where they married the loves of their lives early and then fell into jobs that suited and satisfied them - making it difficult to relate to our wanting more than “just a job” and continued pursuits of that nice guy. That said, they make all the effort to understand how we feel and why we believe Quarterlette will resonate with women like us. They take our daily calls to hear our victories and worries, and they give the advice they think is best. We may not always take it, but we always listen. We’re lucky girls to have them in our lives.
So, to our moms - Thank you for getting us out of bed, teaching us good values, convincing us the world is ours, acting as our on-call lawyer (Rachel’s mom) and accountant (my mom), and, finally, for always believing in us. We hope to return the favor. Happy Mother’s Day!
Hey guys. Sorry that we’ve been a bit MIA with the blog the past few weeks, but we do have a good reason. Things are starting to get pretty hectic around here because we FINALLY have a launch date and therefore we have a bunch of final details to figure out before we go live.
So a lot has happened over these past few weeks. Personally, I’ve been really busy with my side jobs in addition to Qlette. As many of you know, I left my job a few months back and have since been working on Qlette, babysitting and doing a little bit of freelance marketing work.
Many of you have inquired about this new atypical day-to-day life of mine, some asking about my finances and others mentioning that it seems like fun not having to go to an office every day. Well, here’s the story. I do enjoy creating my own schedule (besides my weekly babysitting commitments which does provide me with somewhat of a schedule). As for Qlette, I am pretty diligent about getting things done. If you’re the type of person who needs a lot of structure, this lifestyle is definitely not for you. I love that working on Quarterlette doesn’t seem like work. I know that I speak for Emily as well when I say that I often find myself working until midnight for fun, not by obligation…it’s a good feeling.
The difficult stuff: I’ll tell you what I miss. I miss having office friends, happy hours, etc. While I do enjoy my kids that I babysit for very much, I do walk home and feel a little envious of those enjoying an after work drink with co-workers. I also miss – and this one is obvious – financial stability. Every week I worry about my finances, dollar for dollar. I have to ensure that I get at least 1 extra babysitting job each week (weekend nights) or a freelance marketing project. So in addition to working on Qlette, I’m also sort of job searching for other part-time projects on an ongoing basis. While I don’t have the stress of reporting into a boss, I now have the stress of worrying about paying my bills, which I did not have when I was in my past marketing jobs. In the past, I wasn’t making tons of money, but I made enough to not have to worry. So this is quite different. And it’s definitely stressful. Especially when things happen out of your control, like when your television and cell phone both break in one week…as mine did last week…$$$.
But, back to Quarterlette.
Things with Quarterlette are really exciting. Our site (phase 1) is finished. We have a few months worth of content all ready to go. We’re partnering with amazing people who are so gracious and willing to help us out with projects ranging from SEO to filming a sizzle reel. Speaking of our sizzle reel- we’re shooting a short promo video for the brand. It has been so much fun preparing for that – we feel like film producers! From casting, to location scouting to creating storyboards and picking out royalty free music, it’s incredibly different than anything we’ve ever done before. That’s the thing about starting your own business. At a job, you typically have the same roles and responsibilities every day. Starting this business has exposed us to web design, web development (we’re learning to code), widget development, editing, public relations, social media marketing, SEO marketing, video production, accounting, business law, communication law, and more. It’s been an education to say the least.
However, even with all of this excitement, I’m not going to lie – I’m also pretty damn scared. What if people don’t like it? What if it doesn’t catch on? What if we make a mistake? I think this questioning is fairly normal. But I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself with everything in my life and this is no exception. That being said, I know that we have something special and I look forward to sharing that with everyone.
P.S. – To our special helpers out there, you know who you are. You have been invaluable already. And we haven’t even launched yet. You’re awesome.
If you are a girl in your twenties living in New York City (or any other major city), you’ve probably heard something about the new HBO show, Girls, debuting tonight, that will tell the story of four twenty-something women navigating through their lives in NYC. And, unlike its successful HBO girl-power predecessor, Sex and The City, Girls is claiming to be a more honest portrayal about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of women going through their post-college years.
Besides the fact that I’ve felt a void in my life since SATC went off the air years ago, the reason that I’m really looking forward to Girls is because I know that the writer, director and star – Lena Dunham – wrote the script loosely based on her own experiences. It’s apparently going to be a fairly accurate take on what life is really like for us during this stage…not some glorified, make-believe rendition. And for me, that’s important - because we’re trying to accomplish the same thing with Quarterlette.
As for the title of this post, Made For Us. Made By Us., it was inspired by a line in a recent New York Magazine article. The author of that particular article goes into a lengthy discussion about Girls and mentions that one of her younger colleagues believes that women of our age are excited about this new show because it’s FUBU: For Us. By Us.
Similarly, with Quarterlette, our goal is to present stories about the quarter-life years written (mostly) by those in their quarter-lives. While it’s definitely worthwhile to occasionally have insight from someone slightly older who has “been there,” we’re really striving to have writers who are in the same boat as the readers, sharing tales about life: the good, the bad, the really ugly, the surprising and the extraordinary.
Another part of the New York Magazine article that stuck with me was this quote by Girls’ actress, Jemima Kirke, talking about being able to relate to her own character on the show who, like other women of our age, is struggling to figure herself out. She says, “I think a lot of girls at that age start to…they get their personality confused with who they are.”.
In our Quarterlette Welcome Letter (you’ll see it once we launch) we similarly talk about the challenge of blending together who you think you should be and who you want to be with the reality of who you are. Finding that middle ground between the three can be tricky, challenging and ongoing. But we’re all figuring it out together.
As for Quarterlette – written for us, written by us – Emily, Shelby and I have been so impressed not only with the quality of writing from our writers, but also by how open everyone is with their stories. It’s real. Real is what creates powerful connections among people. Real is what provokes emotions. And real is what will allow our future readers to connect with each other in a truly authentic way.
And, obviously, to have a little fun at the same time. I’m really looking forward to our future Quarterlette Happy Hours.
Months ago, when Rachel and I were just getting started, I was introducing Quarterlette to a friend of mine, Kathryn, who is a huge fan of start-ups and was dabbling in her own project as a student at Wharton. While I was gushing over the details of where we had been and where we wanted to go, Kathryn interjected with a title to add to our reading list, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
In a nutshell, the two had started a successful software business and then wrote a book to rehash their experience. They break down how to simplify the start-up process, toss aside the formal rules of the game and walk the walk of creating the business you’ve always talk about launching. Tired of process and red tape we took a lot of what they wrote to heart - it confirmed us that there is no right way.
Whenever I lose sight of this and get caught up in what I think we should be doing or, foolishly, what others are doing, I re-read pieces of their wisdom. If I could share the book cover to cover here, I would, but for brevity’s sake here’s a long snippet:
1.) “Planning is Guessing”: Subsequently, they declare that business plans are really business guesses and rather than trying to predict the future you should do what makes sense at that moment. They suggest, “decide what you’re going to do this week, not this year. Figure out the next most important thing and do that.” and my favorite line, “just get on the plane and go.” While you should contemplate the future and where you want to take the business, you shouldn’t allow it to get in the way of actually making it happen.
2.) “Make a Dent in the Universe”: Part of the reason we’ve felt stuck is the gnawing sense that we could be doing more to leave an impact on the world. These guys hit that sense with saying, “To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference.” We love the reaction we receive to Quarterlette and being given a sense that this is a place women are seeking. Every time we overhear a fellow Quarterlette declaring her quarter-life crisis beside us in a bar, coffee shop or walking down street we nod in confirmation. We hope to make a difference.
3.) “Start making something”: Have a good idea? Don’t wait around leaving it in the conceptual stage. As they put it, ”Ideas are cheap and plentiful.” Want it? Make it happen. Now.
4.) “No time is no excuse”: The authors make a good point - “The perfect time never arrives. You’re always too young or old or busy or broke or something else.” We’re all over-scheduled and, as routinely pictured, New York City is a busy place. At any one time you could be choosing from attending a concert, playing football, dozing in the park or crawling through the city on an epic birthday bar tour - just to name a few. We learned quickly that in order to make Quarterlette come to life, we needed to start carving out time in our schedules that was completely devoted to the business. This was not an overnight habit, but over the last year we’ve willingly sacrificed social engagements and sleeping to pull out our laptops and work. While we could be out shopping or brunching, our team is often holed up at a West Village coffee shop crowded around our computers and discussing what’s next. And you know what? We live for it. An idea backed by energy and time will come alive. If you’re waiting for the right time or for life to settle it will never happen.
5.) “Outside money is Plan Z”: Ah, the age-old question of funding. Unless you have a manufacturing need or a similar technical roadblock, money may not be needed to get going. We’re self-funded, and our having some skin in the game is what keeps us motivated. We owe nothing to anyone beyond our gratitude to those who have given us their support and to the writers who have shared their stories. When every dollar counts we’re forced to be nimble, concise and focused leading us to a better product that is on target. This is not to say that we wouldn’t welcome some extra pennies in our piggy bank. Eventually we will need some kind of money tree to start the next chapter of Quarterlette (and pay our bills), but we’re striving to do it on our own first. Don’t let money holds you back from giving it a go.
6.) “Who cares what they’re doing?”: Comparing test scores? Discussing salaries? Examining your friend’s new apartment ? These are all simple forms of competition and comparing yourself can be damaging. Forget them. One of our competitors is doing fiercely well and often when we look at their growth we’re left feeling rather insecure and inadequate. Yet, at the end of the day I wouldn’t take a peek at their playbook if it were freely handed to me. They’re playing their game and we’re rocking ours - in a different way. If we chased after everything similar brands were creating, Quarterlette would be completely fragmented. Instead, we’ve found our position and are standing by it, proudly.
7.) “Decisions are Temporary”: Running a business forces you to learn how to make quick decisions, which are the key to keep it moving forward. Don’t be scared to make a choice in fear of the outcome. In most cases, there are no right answers. Even if you really flub, it’s likely fixable.
8.) “Do it yourself first”: We hired a web development (Wordpress) tutor when we first started to save the cost of hiring a developer. I was really jazzed about learning how to develop a website, but after a few unsuccessful attempts at navigating our way to a presentable site, we hired a developer. At least we tried.
9.)“Nobody likes plastic flowers” and “Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real. It’s why we like real flowers that wilt, not perfect plastic ones that never change. Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to sound and how you’re supposed to act. Show the world what you’re really like, warts and all.” Two words: Be you.
10.) “Launch Now”: Focus on what matters, pull the trigger and put it out into the universe. Then take it from there.
We’ve come a long way since Rachel asked me if I’d be interested in building a destination for women trying to figure out their quarter lives, and we still have a ways to go. That said, expect some exciting news in the next week or so. We may just be ready to let you under the tent.
I had a really great day last week sitting in a Tribeca café.
The night before this great day, I was trying to think of a fun place to do work in my neighborhood besides Starbucks- and I couldn’t think of anything. Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy the mass coffee chain, but there are, hmm, maybe 20 Starbucks locations all within a 5 block radius of my Midtown apartment and therefore, due to the undeniable convenience, that’s where I usually end up when I’m looking to do work.
But, anyway, I was bored with that and wanted something different.
So, I decided to take a little adventure down to Tribeca.
Tribeca is an area of the city that I’ve visited probably only 3 or 4 times in the 5+ years that I’ve lived in this city. It’s fairly far from my apartment and none of my friends live there, so it’s never on the agenda. So, I decided that I would go to Tribeca for the day to find a café with wifi to do my work.
The night before my Tribeca visit I planned out my route and even got out my New York City street map in preparation.
The next morning, I took the subway downtown and used my street map to navigate my way through the neighborhood. I felt like such a tourist in my own city and I loved it. I know that it’s lame to carry around a map when you are a New Yorker, but it’s was fun, especially down in that area of town where the grid system disappears and the streets twist and turn in all different directions.
Walking around the area was great because it felt like an escape from the norm. Tribeca is vibrant in a way that Midtown is not. And it felt European with the cobblestone streets, adorable restaurants and quiet corners devoid of the typical NYC chaos.
After walking around for a bit, I parked myself in a spot called Pecan café that had free wifi, the best Mocha I’ve had in years and delicious food. I stayed there for 5 hours. They didn’t seem to mind.
As I was sitting there working, I realized that the feelings I was having felt very similar to those feelings I get while on a vacation. Everything is new. You have to find your way. Nothing is entirely planned. And you get introduced to exciting things.
Life can be crazy sometimes so I think it’s always good to have a few ways to escape and recharge. Traveling is definitely one of my favorite ways to escape (as I’m sure it is for many people). But if you can’t afford a vacation or can’t take time off from work, go on a little adventure in your city…even if you go alone.
So how do you escape? If you want to write a story for our Escape section of Qlette, let us know!
Apparently my reflexes are out of practice because as the cup of coffee splashed over my new MacBook, saturating the screen and keyboard, there was nothing I could do but watch. It was in slow motion that I watched my boyfriend, Matt, sitting to my right, knock the cup over while trying to show his computer to my friend sitting on the other side of me, but it was in hyper speed that they both grabbed the soiled device and attempted to dump the liquid from it. The sweet guys from behind the counter at Doughboy, a West Village bakery we call our unofficial HQ, ran out with a roll of paper towels as another method of soaking up the liquid. I simply watched and then walked outside the coffee shop to avoid getting upset at anyone, the target of these emotions being obvious. After a minute I returned, scooped up the victim and marched off to the Apple Store which was luckily only a few blocks away - coffee continuing to run out of the outlets of the laptop leaving my coat, blazer and dress with a coffee soaked mark and my boyfriend keeping up beside me for moral support. I never yelled at him.
When I arrived at the Apple Store I was first informed that it would take 2 hours to be seen given it was Saturday afternoon and apparently the moment when the whole city wanted to have their Mac products reviewed. Secondarily, I was informed that Apple Care does not cover the liquid damage that had just torn through my computer and my business. Tears welling in my eyes, I turned to run down the stairs asking Matt to make a Genius Bar appointment for me. There I was in Meat Packing red eyed and bawling. I hope someone captured the moment for their NYC scrapbook.
The next two hours were spent confirming that my computer was not going to be salvaged and discussing the economic damage this accident was going to have on our bank accounts – Matt offered to pay for it, which I’ll likely let him do. Honestly, this was the least of my worries. My mind was going through what work was on there that had not been backed up or been sent over e-mail. Computers can be replaced, but ideas can be hard to remember and wording is impossible to get right again. The last time I had touched my external hard drive (I use a Clickfree hard-drive. Just plug it in. It does the rest) was to load the information from my former computer on to the new one – it was only 3 months old and not even fully paid off. My moral of this story is to back up and back up often. Being the queen of technical disasters (I am no stranger to the blue screen of death), I should have known that this was coming.
Another lesson to this story is for those of you with new computers: insure them. I was luckily in that I having been covering my roommates and myself with renters’ insurance for the past 5 years. To my surprise this wise choice covers not just fires and theft, but also clumsiness. The cost of my new laptop will only be the deductible, which is a blow much easier to bear. As for the data stored on my old computer, the jury is still out on whether or not I will get it back.
As I said before, I never did yell at Matt for destroying the most expensive piece of property I have ever purchased on my own. Accidents happen and in the grand scheme of life neither that moment nor the money to fix it will matter. I lost some business work, but it can be recreated and possibly made better. Releasing my frustration at him would not have made my computer turn on again. I was mad at the situation, not him, and it’s something I urge people to evaluate before taking your emotion out on others.
With all of this in mind, we established Back It Up Fridays. Go into your weekends ensuring all you created the past week is safely stored away and not having to think about going through any of the above.
For months the ONCE DVD sat on our coffee table and for the same amount of time I kept saying I was going to watch it, “tonight”. All the while my credit card kept collecting the monthly Netflix fee I was paying for this one disc to remain idle. Finally, out of sheer guilt I put it on one random night while working and not paying attention to anything beyond its amazing soundtrack. That one went back and the next in the queue came to face the same fate. There I was hosting dvds for $16.69 a month.
Looping back to my post about my dad’s retirement, I have spent some time taking a hard look at my finances and places to cut back in order to save. This Netflix line item on my monthly bill was a no brainer, but I kept telling myself I was going to focus on catching up on all the movies I had not seen (the list too embarrassing to make public). Luckily, for my savings account, I finally was able to admit to myself that there are just other things I would rather be doing (like watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the umpteenth time). So, with determination and my mind made up, I took the last unwatched dvd, placed it in the mailbox and said good-bye to Netflix.
We each have those unnecessary expenses taking up precious space in our bank accounts. They make us cringe when reviewing our monthly statement but then go forgotten until the next one. For some it’s the unused monthly gym membership and for others it’s simply the morning coffee that goes half finished on their desks. Rather than only focusing your spring cleaning on your closet, take a look at your bank statements and cut one wasted expense. A little can go a long way.
I saw this video clip yesterday on The Frisky and wanted to share it with you guys. Many people don’t know the story behind the “Keep Calm and Carry On” phrase which appears on branded products such as coffee mugs and notebooks (case in point- my day calendar that I often carry with me in my bag). I’m sure that those who have products showcasing this phrase enjoy the simplicity of the message, reminding them to keep moving forward (and to not go crazy) during life’s big or small challenges.
But I’m not going to lie- I’ve had people laugh at me (lovingly, I hope) when I take the little calendar out of my bag. Although having a notebook with that phrase might be considered a cliche, I don’t really care. I happen to like it. But, besides being a catchy phrase, there is much more significance behind those 5 words as discussed in the above video.
While there are definitely times when a short phrase is not substantial enough to ease a stressful situation, sometimes something as simple as a positive message (and smart marketing that encourages people, like me, to buy yet another pocket calendar to add to an already way-too-big collection), can help you carry on calmly as you navigate through your day-to-day - and occasionally chaotic - quarter-life.