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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Some Things Never Go Out of Style

We are living in a world where we tend to dispose of things as quickly as we get them. It used to be you bought a few really nice items and held onto them for a very long time and you rarely got rid of it. Today we have so many more options. With cheaper products available and stores catering to this "throw away" merchandise, it feels that we are constantly replacing items we just purchased. Quality of clothing, household wears and jewelry is not what it used to be and therefore we are finding ourselves shopping all the time.

In addition, new shopping options where we can easily shop consignment is a trend to encourage us to sell what we are not using and use that money to go back in the market and buy more stuff. Swap and ThredUp are good examples.

When I stopped working in the corporate world six years ago, I stopped purchasing high quality clothing items. I felt bad that I was not contributing financially so I just kept my clothing purchases to simple and cheap. Stores like Target & H&M became my go to and I found myself not enjoying the art of getting dressed up. 

This summer I started to think differently about this because I am taking HarpersLove back on as my passion and showing up in an Accelerator office during the week. It was time to take myself seriously again and I have been finding that I am blending my nicer items from those corporate days, with my simple "throw away" items that I have wearing as my stay at home uniform.

Today, I saw my old wrap dress from 18 years ago and put it on only to feel that it fits like a glove, still looks great and is very much in style. It is called classic fashion. It cost a little more than throw away items but it stays in my closet because it is timeless and will always be there for me.

I am discovering ta new joy of fashion by effortlessly combining these two worlds; the classics and the throw-aways. Now I need to go hunting in my older Jewelry Boxes to see what I have not been wearing.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The HarpersLove Life

The Harperslove Life

Entrepreneurship. Sounds cool and feels like a word implying some form of success. The fact is when you define your career as an entrepreneur, it suggests that you have created and lead a successful business at least once in your life. At least this is how I view it. However, I am not so sure I can use it to describe what I am currently doing.

In fact, I am pretty sure I do not have a word for what I am doing other than a phrase that goes something like this ... “aspirational entrepreneur”. Not so sure that is appropriate for my LinkedIn description but it feels like the best way to describe what I am doing.

What am I doing? Quick snapshot of HarpersLove. Starts something like this. Almost six years ago my corporate career came to a screeching halt for the first time in my adult life. At that time, I had a 4-month-old and 3-year-old child so I made a decision to take a break from the corporate world and do the stay at home mom thing. A conversation shortly followed about a what-if scenario leading to “I am doing this” and bam, a new company was formed. If only things were so easy.

Launching a company is a pure operational play and I know how to do that. Corporate experience taught me many project management skills and execution strategies so that was easy. After the beta version of everything is built, the marketing part kicks in and this is the tough part for any startup. Marketing was never on my resume and e-commerce was still very new to me. I spent the following couple of years trying many approaches with no funding to back me up. I made some money but mostly because I was able to sell to my network. Going beyond my network is where I hit a wall. No money to invest in good marketing programs and no experience in doing marketing lead to a major failure. 

At the 3-year mark of the website launching, we moved to Naples, Florida which is completely different from where we lived outside of NYC in West Orange, NJ. I made another life decision to invest in our new environment and take some time away from HarpersLove. I dove into school volunteering, teaching Zumba classes and our family life. It felt good not to have the emotional failure feeling every day which for me, was what comes with trying to make my start up successful.

Launching the first startup probably feels like falling in love for the first time. Not easy to let go or break-up. Like a stubborn mule, I could not let go and continued to day dream about the possibilities and fantasize about my future interview with Oprah where we discussed the pitfalls of starting a business and how to rise above. The two years away from HarpersLove taught me something. I am not done. Call me crazy. 

Am I a crazy person for wanting to keep doing this? I have learned so much since starting this five years ago but I have much more to learn. My dream is still the same but my commitment is far greater. My children are in school and older and my home is established. I have a far richer life filled with areas of passion now than I did when I launched HarpersLove, like teaching Zumba and volunteering in our community. There is just one more thing I need to figure out. HarpersLove.

Now what? This week I officially re-launch HarpersLove 2.0, already two weeks behind due to Hurricane Irma but I am here, with kids in tow and devoted to HarpersLove, once again. This version of HarpersLove 2.0 is re-launching at The Naples Accelerator, a working environment with other start-ups and our local government business support community. Just having an office space to go to makes this re-launch feel more valid.

The HarpersLove story will continue, after all.

I welcome connecting with others in the same boat, others who were in this boat and anyone else interested in HarpersLove. We need your help in getting our name out there but more importantly, we welcome your support. 


Instagram: @harperslovelife

LinkedIn: michellemullman

email: michelle@harperslove.com

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Enjoying a Lazy Summer

This summer, I have noticed many articles geared towards moms about learning to chill during the summer. That means, letting your kids get bored and enjoying the laziness of it all. Reading these blogs and essays to the old-fashioned summer experience has made me feel a whole lot less guilty for completely abandoning my business and not signing my kids up for any activities/camps/play dates. There… I said it … I am totally cool with the fact that we had no agenda for the summer what so ever.

Granted, we did move to a brand new state at the start of the summer so much of our experience has been an adventure but in between the newness, were afternoons of Minecraft, a few hours of SpongeBob and Teen Titans (the kids discovered the Cartoon Network), YouTube videos on the iPad and Lego playing. All of this, non-educational stuff helped me while I was focused on un-packing, decorating, analyzing every single email I received from Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Dot and Bo, One King's Lane, Joss & Main .. you name it. I studied them for ideas for our new home. In fact, I considered my new job this summer as being the Interior Designer of Casa Mullman and quite frankly, I loved it. Did I think about HarpersLove ... sure. Did I do one thing for HarpersLove ... no. And I am not sorry about this either.

When I launched HarpersLove, I had grandiose ideas of creating this amazing company and I dreamt of it becoming a really cool start up that would grow into a significant brand one day. My kids were babies so my time was limited but I worked during nap times and eventually got things up and running. The first few years of running this thing has been basically, one long "pilot". The business woman in me would look at this on paper and say, ROI is negative and based on what you have, you should probably quit. Enjoy the little ones, maybe start getting back to the corporate world. Stop wasting your time. FYI, you have not been able to contribute to your 401K in 3 years and it is time to get back to it. By the way, my mother has started hinting at this fact as well and has reminded me not to waste time on silly opportunities while at the same time, expressing her desire for me to be home when the kids get home from school. Is this not the issue of the modern SAHM? The mom who worked really hard at school, built her career then at some point, made the decision to stay at home while the babies were little with the idea of going back in when the kids were in school...

So back to our lazy summer. It was AWESOME!! Not only did my children love not being scheduled, I loved not thinking about how unsuccessful I have been as an entrepreneur. It is important to recognize failure but I have not failed yet. Starting a business is not about overnight success. You get what you put into it. So I know I have learned so much and have tried lots of ideas but so much more can be done. If I look back at my original idea and original goal, it was to:

1. create a business that would provide professional satisfaction, 2. creative satisfaction (and enjoyment), 3. financial success, and 4. the freedom to own my time as I wish

I need to get back to owning these goals again and not give up on the idea that I can be a successful mommy-prenuer.

This week, the kids went back to school and I have more time for "me" than I have had in my almost 4 years of being home. I am gradually getting back to it all and finding out how I want to achieve these goals. Lesson learned from this summer … I am all for lazy summers and I hope the kids and I have plenty more in our future.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wedding Wed-Day: the Honeymoon

Ah yes the Honeymoon, the most relaxing part of the wedding experience. A time to travel and do something completely new with your newly official, partner for life. Of all of the wedding traditions out there, the honeymoon is one of the most important. This is not solely based on the fact that I love vacation, and travel, (this doesn't hurt), but it is more based on the deeper bonds that are created when sharing moments out of the normal, everyday routine. Because yes, after the wedding and living together and working day to day, married life can get to be very routine (I suspect) so having a kick ass honeymoon will not only bring you closer, but will also create an expectation and reminder of how adventurous and fun you can be! 
So that leads me to where I am right now in my personal honeymoon planning: Location. Location. Location. How to decide where to go? It truly amazes me how many options we have in this great big world of ours, but also, how accessible those options are! 
Here are some tips to help decide: Where in the world?
  1. Do some causal reading. There are tons of magazines and blogs that share real honeymoon stories as well as offer information about booking and getting ideas for budgeting and cost of a honeymoon. There are also some pretty fun honeymoon quizzes to take online! This is the step where you just get yourself in the honeymoon mindset and get the juices flowing. 
  2. Talk it out. Find some quiet time with your partner and bounce ideas off of each other of places and types of honeymoon that each of you would like. Do you want a beach? City life? Adventure? Out of the country? Do you want to be relaxed and do very little, or do you want a jam packed itinerary? Remember this is a trip for the two of you and as marriage and relationships require compromise, so does honeymoon planning!
  3. Narrow it down to at least 2 locations each, so that you have 4 to chose from, and write them down. Too many choices may leave you overwhelmed, too little may leave you with less options. 
  4. Research. Here’s the fun part, now that you have some places and ideas of what activities each of you are interested in, take your list of 4 and see what is out there for you. Are there vacation packages that suit your needs? Would you need a travel agent? Would you be able to put it all together on your own? What are the costs looking like for each of the locations? Are there some that better fit you budget wise? This will probably take the most effort, but is essential in determining where you want to go and how much you want to spend to get there.
  5. Repeat step 2 and talk it out. Get together with your partner and go through each place on your list. Discuss budget, discuss what a sample itinerary might look like at each place. 
  6. Make a decision. Easier said than done right? If after you research and discuss, and you have still not come to an agreement, try the old pros and cons trick. With your partner compose a list of pros and cons for each place. Look to see which place has the most pros and viola! This is your honeymoon destination! 
With destination ready, now you can really get planning! Make the calls, find the costs, decide on a budget. Don’t forget: have fun! Planning can be stressful, but just imagine the outcome! 
What about my honeymoon you ask? My fiancé and I are ready to take our love Down Under! 
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

HarpersLove Real Weddings

Today I am writing to share with you about a real wedding that I recently attended in Riverdale North Dakota!
First of all let me give you a little info about the bride. I have know this girl since 2nd grade! Crazy right, but that is why I was able to drive myself for 9 straight hours, yeah you read that right 9 hours, to be by her side on the most special day of her life and it was totally worth it! This girl is the definition of glamorous! From her Victoria’s Secret runway hair, to her blinged out bouquet! Not only is she a total babe, but she is also one of the sweetest, most loyal women I have the pleasure of knowing and calling my friend! 
Okay let me give you the rundown. The morning of the wedding, the bride was very calm and in a slightly silly mood (love will do that to you). She somehow picked up an accent that made her sound like a Southern Belle, saying, “I do declare,”  and “well I never,” Then she realized she had better lose the accent before the ceremony! With hair and makeup perfectly in their places, it was time for the dress. What a dress it was, seeing the dress hanging up was breath taking, seeing it on, was another story. She was absolutely gorgeous.  


This girl brought her glitter and shine to Riverdale North Dakota and everything was sparkling. She made a risky move by asking her guests to wear formal white attire, which was slightly controversial, but ended up looking great! Plus it made it easy to figure out what to wear! The ceremony was beautiful and brought a tear to everyone’s eye. Her and her husband’s love was so apparent in that moment, and it was an honor to witness them commit to each other for life! They kissed, then they danced down the aisle, and then it was official, they were husband and wife, and it was officially PARTY TIME!
The reception. Now let me tell you, the venue for the reception was completely unique and original! It was an old high school that had been renovated into a lodge, with beautiful guest accommodations. The decor remained as if you were walking down the hall of a high school. Trophy cases, sports memorabilia, yearbooks and even a gym. The day before the wedding the gym was your ordinary high school gym. With the magic of the decorators, the gym was transformed into a glamours, glittery, cream, and gold ballroom. Everyone was taken aback by how perfect the space turned out!  
This bride thought of everything and she didn't even need a list! Dessert table deliciousness, kids table fun, dance floor, bar, and photobooth! I hope some of her calm, planning skills, rubbed off on me…The entire event was a great time and I had so much fun. I know that I wasn’t the only one! I love these two and wish them all the happiness in the world. 
The 9 hour drive home though…. I wouldn't wish that on anyone! 


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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dos and Don’ts from Real Brides

So according to The Knot app, there are 289 days until our wedding! That seems like a lot of time right? Right!? I have the magazines, the apps, the books. I’ve been reading blogs and getting inspired by so many many things, but the one thing that has been the most helpful for me, is talking to friends and others who have been here and done this. Their suggestions, thoughts, and tips have helped me to feel more confident in making decisions and understanding what is important for my Fiancé and I.  
Exhibit A:
“Do remember this day is all about you and your groom”
“Don't forget that it's a big day for your families as well and they have probably been dreaming about it as much as you, so make them feel just as special as you want to feel.” 
Finding the balance between my wants, and trying to make sure everyone else is happy as well, has been the biggest struggle for me so far. One bit of advice that I received from my fiancé’s Mother, was to remember that our wedding will be a memory that we hold on to forever, and to make sure we are ultimately happy with it. She said that our family and friends will all be happy as long as we are! That helps! 
Another do, that I have read a lot about and was reassured about from talking with my real brides was to spend a little more to have great photography and videography. 
“Think about what's important to you! I'm big on photography, so I was willing to spend money on a good photographer.” 
“I regret not hiring a videographer, looking back I would have hired one just starting out that needed experience. I have always loved the bride and grooms entrance to their reception, well I heard all of our wedding party was hilarious but of course I didn't get to see it myself. I was also big on the photographer.” 
“I would recommend a great video of the rehearsal, wedding & reception because it is a magical day and the excitement is so great, it's like a blur when it is over. I would also get someone who is great at fun, un-staged photos and candid shots.” 
Thanks ladies! 
My justification for making a little more room in the budget for video and photos was that in a bagillion years when aliens are excavating the ruins of Earth, they will find our photos and think (in their alien language of course) “Wow, these humans had a beautiful wedding!” That could happen right? 
When it gets down to it, the decorations will go away, and in some cases will be thrown away, the food will be digested, the dress will go to storage. When the day is over what will there be to look back on? The beautiful memory of the best day of our lives. We want to capture the happiness of friends and loved ones and have evidence of our great, crazy, unconditional love for each other!
Check in on Wed-day Wednesday for more dos and don’t from real brides!
Follow us here: 
Have a do or don’t? Share it here: 
with #harperslovewed or email me natasha@harperslove.com
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get to Know Us

Hello! My name is Natasha and I am the Official, Bride-to-Blog, for HarpersLove. This means I not only get to work with one of the coolest mommyprenuers out there, hey Michelle, but I also get to be a part of this custom, fine jewelry line, that is designed by the people who will actually be wearing it, you! Another rockstar thing about my position, is I get the privilege of writing the wed-day Wednesday blog to give tips and connect with other brides, wedding planners, people who know stuff, to share wedding information. At HarpersLove we love brides, and being a Bride-to-Be myself, will give me some insight into this wonderful wedding world.
My best friend, and the love of my life, Brian, proposed to me on March 15, of this year and I have been on cloud nine ever since! Well mostly…. Getting engaged is the fun part, it is a feeling that I will never forget! I still get butterflies when I think about the proposal! The wedding planning part…. I’m not going to lie, it’s fun too, just in a stressful, I wanna pull my eyelashes out one by one kind of fun, kind of way. I have about 10 months to go until our big day and I hope this can be a space to connect with others, learn some things, and share some things that I have learned too! I promise I will try to keep the venting to a minimum! 
Check out a few of our engagement photos done by the magnificent, dynamic duo: Brooke and Roy at Brooke Peterson Photography! (If you need a photographer in Montana, this is where it’s at!)
My fiancé was being shy…. 
I don’t think you want to know what he was saying! 
Even from the side he’s a cutie! 
We are both from Colorado and because of his job in the United States Air Force, we are currently living it up in Montana! (If you follow HarpersLove on Instagram, you may see some of my posts about our #MontanaAdventures!) It is a different world up here in Big Sky country, but it sure is beautiful! As some may say, “Home is where the heart is” my heart is most definitely with him, so whenever we are together, we are home! 
Okay that was mushy, but very true! Now that you know a little about me, we want to hear from you! Make sure to follow us across your social media sites and be on the look out for wed-day Wednesday posts as I may need advice about weddings, or just about life in general! There may even be hidden treasures, promos or specials that you can learn about for HarpersLove!
Looking forward to hearing from you!
LOL, (my mom thought this meant Lots of Love, that’s cute, I think I’ll use that as my sign off!)  
HarpersLove Retail Liaison I Social Media/Blogger I Bridal Ambassadress 
email me: natasha@harperslove.com
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Art of the Road Trip

It is summer and that means that families are on the move. As a kid, I had the fortune of traveling every summer to visit my family. One summer would be spent going to Italy and spending it in Naples, Italy. The next summer, my mother would take my brother and I on a cross-country road trip to visit my grandparents in Mississippi and along the way, she would chart out many adventures for us. These two destinations could not have been more different. These experiences were very special to me and they continue to make their mark on my life even as an adult. 
My parents met in Italy when my Dad was stationed there while in the Navy and when I was 3, we moved to the USA. The fact is, my parents came from two different worlds and settled in a new world together. They were both far from their homes and the annual family vacation was about connecting with their roots rather than going to Disneyworld. Visiting grandparents is always a very special moment and being able to explore their cultures and their experiences is even better. When we were little visiting our family in Italy, we spent time in the city doing city things and then we would spend several weeks camping Italian style along the Amalfi coast. When visiting my grandparents in Mississippi, we were working in my grandmother's store, or riding tractors, fishing, anything outdoors basically. We never even asked to go to Disneyworld because our summers were packed with awesome adventures.
When I was a kid, it was very common to pack your family up in a car and drive long distances because air travel was still out of the question for many families. Today, it feels like if you have to drive more than 3 hours with young kids, then families prefer to fly which makes me think that we are losing the love and art of the family road trip. The Art of the Road trip is simple; have a plan as to where you will be sleeping, pack your food (keep it simple), be open to changing schedules / take rest stops, love your GPS and have some entertainment for along the way. My mom made sure we had a pool at every HolidayInn that we stayed at and that we had plenty of beach stops where possible. We had the opportunity to learn about our country and history with my mom who was still new to this country and was learning about it herself. 
After many months of discussion and planning, I decided it was a good time for me to take my kids on their first long distance road trip. My husband, who is NOT a traveler at heart, could not join on this adventure and my mother had no desire since she had been there, done that. So it was going to be me and my 3 and 5 year old on the road to Mississippi for 9 days (NJ - MS is 21 hours straight! yikes) No problem for me because with careful planning and a very well organized system, my kids and I were not only going to survive this, we were going to have a blast. And a blast we did. We saw places that I would otherwise never go to (I mean these are not on my travel lists) and my kids loved hotel living. 
When we finally got to my grandparents home, they had an all new set of adventures by being in a very rural environment and enjoying a sense of freedom that they could not have up here. On our way back, I squeezed in a visit with my grad school buddy in DC and our kids both shared a new adventure. The last day of our road trip was spent in DC and my husband took the train in and spent the day with us. At this point, the kids had enough of me and my husband was pretty much the man for the day.  I was ok with it! In the end, we were all exhausted but it was a terrific feeling. 
This road trip was awesome and everyone keeps telling me how brave I was but honestly it was a natural thing for me to do. My little ones were on their best behavior and yes, thank god for iPads! So if you are contemplating a road trip, go the distance! Your kids will love it!!!
Happy Travels!
In the car
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wed-Day Wednesday - All About Cake

The best thing about weddings is that they are so personalized, and they truly give guests a glimpse into the couple's life and style. The personalization is seen in every detail of the wedding, even in the cake! Let's face it, some people go to weddings just for an excuse to eat cake! Okay, maybe that's not the only reason, but it helps! Of all of the things to decide and things to buy, wedding planning can be extremely stressful. So give yourself a break and have fun when choosing a cake for the big day! The tasting alone can be the best part! There are some people who aren't big fans of sweets, but for the rest of us, let us eat cake! With all of the fantastic flavors and combinations out there, there are many to choose from so try and try away! Once you have the inside flavor (or flavors) picked, then you can move on to the outside of the cake. This is where you get to be creative and let your personality show through! From traditional tiered cakes, to cupcakes, to the rustic, naked cake, or even to unique cakes made to look like castles or spaceships or whatever else your creativity can dream up, let your cake be another fantastic, customized, representation of you!

Let's Eat Cake

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

We Celebrate JLo Style

This year, my kids and I watched American Idol together and they have become little fans of Ms JLo. Lately she has been promoting her new album and is pretty much taking over the media. My kids love to see her and who can blame them? She is beautiful, charming and a strong lady with an amazing sense of style. I quickly did a google search for some of her looks this year and came up with these fashion moments that we can all be inspired by. 

Of course, we are going to say add some HarpersLove magic to these looks to get your style inspiration. Check out these combos for our Fashion Friday moment this week.

And J Lo, if you are reading this, we would LOVE to dress up your ears with any of our HarpersLove earrings!

Fashion Moment: Poppy Color or Orange / Red Theme

How amazing is this color? Perfect for the warm temps and super sexy. With nude shoes or gold strappy sandals to make it an outfit. Add our HarpersLove White Topaz Earrings with 14K Yellow Gold / Diamond Euro Back and there you have it. These earrings are great for everyday and dress it up moments. 







Fashion Moment: Sexy Black Dress

Cut up your dress and show some skin. You can make it a classy look but keep the cutups to a minimum, don't let the body parts hand out if you get our suggestion. Done right, this look can be class and sexy at the same time. See how JLo inspires us. Add these earrings for a night out. These are our Oprah Inspired Earrings.


Fashion Moment: Pink

She loves her hot pink color this year and so do we. Our favorite earrings, The Malena Earrings are are great look with any of these outfits and they take it the bold look and make it classy as does JLo. 

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