Posts Tagged ‘DC by Design’

Mother’s Day Tribute

Monday, May 10th, 2010

It was a working weekend for me and my husband so I didn't get to spend Mother's Day as I would like, plus it's a bittersweet celebration for me for me to remember from 2 years past — just seems like yesterday. Although, I did get to paint a painting in tribute to my mother. It is after one of the camellias in her New Orleans garden. I think it's name is Cherries Jubilee — how appropriately Southern. She's off traveling in Tunisia and fortunately she was able to see this before leaving. As we have it up now on the Casart coverings site as one of many new Botanical designs that we will be unveiling over the next weeks.

Casart_red_Camellia_casartblog

 

More can be found about camellias on the American Camellia Association's website.

Cherries Jubiliee via American Camellia Society

While I'm thinking of gardens, here's a delightful post on DC by Design regarding the Georgetown Garden Tour. I just loved that Georgian style gazebo at Evermay Estate. It's up for sale for only 29.5 million dollars!

Evermay-Georgian-Temple-001. Photo by Stu Estler, courtesy DC by Design blog

Meanwhile, in my peasant garden my peonies are popping and are just glorious. They are the most abundant and fragrant this year. I love it when flowers that I've planted bloom without me doing a thing. A maintenance free garden is blessing.

Peonies_ArtisEverywhere_blog

Peony_ArtisEverywhere_blog

Here's my take on a simplified peony for Casart coverings. Clicking on the peony below will take you to the casartblog post regarding ways to use flowers in design.

casartPeony1_casartblog_ArtisEverywhere_blog

Dantes-Rose_ArtisEverywhere_blog

My neighbor gave me this rose after Dante died and it blooms more beautifully each year.

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Social Media

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Social Media is related to art for me because it is how I discover new avenues in which to write about things in my blogs, meet others, and in doing so, help promote my business.

I hosted the EWES (Enterprising Women Entrepreneurs) — my business group last week. It had been rescheduled due to the snow. The fact that we had a large group despite the inconvenient travel means (the snow pile up is still limiting parking on my street) is a testament to how traditional networking is important and maybe folks were just going stir crazy being housebound. I didn’t fully count but there was a large group (for my house) of talented ladies in attendance, including Mary Douglas Drysdale and Jennifer Sergent (DC by Design), both of whom had not been to my home before so I was trying to be more tidy than usual.

After the introductions, where there was a lot of valuable feedback for what everyone was doing, there was limited time for me to give my talk on Internet Networking: Social Media and How it Can Help Your Business. Fortunately, I had notes and here they are summarized. Hopefully they will be a useful foundation to follow + in posting them here, this article also helps to link all of these avenues together. Making the connection is important. I will continue to update as we add more links.

Initial Steps to Internet Social Networking & Web Presence for Business:
• Think every bit of printed marketing material can go digital — Static (becomes) => Dynamic
• Actual physical presence through networking events => Social Online Networking through Social Media

It’s all about sharing, discovery, learning from others –>exposure
1) Business card=> website & pic wk portfolio, customer reviews > direct contact
2) Meet & Greet & Cocktail parties => Facebook Fan Page
3) Resume => Linkedin (professional Facebook)
4) Twitter for business (see below) — like blogging on speed
5) YouTube — way to be personal & instruct. demos — post your work in action

Within each of these TOP 5 online social media outlets, are tips for better social interaction, exposure, and larger marketing pools than just present physical networking provides.

––Using my website, blog, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. as an example for all these points below—-

1) Website (www.casartcoverings.com) + (www.ashley-spencer.com)
Google Services: Profile*, Local, Merchant Center, AdWords, AdSense, Alerts
Google Analytics — tracking and monitoring and SEO (search engine optimization => getting known on the Internet and getting first search ranking)

Slipcovers for Your Walls Blog (casartcoverings.com/casartblog)

Blogmakes your rather static website even more dynamic with a minimum of 3 posts or more a week to substantially drive and increase traffic to your site. This takes time and commitment, so don’t jump in unless you’re willing to do the research & commit. (Resource for first time bloggers  = About.com)

casart_social-butterfly_ArtIsEverywhere

• Brand yourself *with a favicon that shows up in the browser url icon (ours is a our blue butterfly)
• Tracking Plugins: Sitemeter, Alexa, Technorati, Blog Catalog (Blog Rankings), BlogTopSites — further track and help you monitor dynamic blog and increase SEO and help you get found through internal searches.
RSS feed so people can subscribe and also email subscription box
• Links to other blogs (Blogroll) + within posts thru text and pictures
• Use Trackbacks w/in each post to let others know you’ve linked them
• Comment on other blogs (using your blog url and website email)
Link Within installs software to link each posts to visuals of other posts
Sociable = icons or widget/ buttons that folks can click on to tag/post to be recognized on other Social Networking Sites (too many to list: StumbleUpon, Delicious, Kaboodle, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, Newsvine, Mixx, YahooBuzz, …..over 95+
Google Friend Connect — *uses a gravatar (avatar icon) to visibly follow blogs, get noticed, see who others are following, follow them; they will follow you
eBlogger account + others to show your gravatar (visual) when commenting

Being in the Interior Design Market we’ve also joined /added these Social Networking sites:

Houzz — Flicker for Interior Design Fanatics

Modenus — new site for Design Sources to Inspire. We’re under Brand for Wall & Window Decor

Olioboard — new site for expressive mood boards to design, discover, & uncover the mood of a space. We’re under the Wallpaper category

Archello — new site for your connection to Architecture

Curbly — DIY
Yelp — kinda like Angie’s List for nationwide businesses
Sample Board Online and Kaboodle — both allow interactive style boards and product tagging
Kudzu — like an Angies’s list for the home merchant market
ApartmentTherapy.com — Interior Design Commentary covering 6 markets:
Decorati — for Interior Designer match ups

Design Bump — bookmarking site for design

HomePros — yelp + decorati

Stylehive — Connecting Stylish people with Home & Fashion

Note: through my ArtIsEverywhere blog for www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/:
• a marketing co. in Chicago wants to hire me as their art agent for series of upcoming events for their hip client. Who knew they’ve been reading my posts?
• A lifestyle writer has contacted me to be a part of her book on murals.

2) Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/casartcoverings)

Our Group Page, on the other hand is fine but is outdated because we were primarily using our (FB) Fan Page for recent news http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=57790034921&ref=ts
• Need to have an account and personal and/ or business Page in order to administrate site. My sister, Casart coverings partner and Marketing Coordinator, set this up through her account and business page. I do not manage this, as I do not have a Facebook account. (There is just so much one person can do.)
• Where most folks will find you beyond Internet searches & Google
• Doing this allows anyone to become your “fan” and follow your posts
• The more fans the more popular and more people want to fan you
• Typically this is reciprocal — scratching each other’s backs
• Post photos and blog mentions + Twitter automatically — in one click–>Facebook
• When you fan other entities — all shelter magazines, you’ll hear news here 1st
• Way to get their updates and yours to them, as Facebook updates regularly

How to do it:
-Develop a FB Page NOT a Group. You want Fans not Members.
-A Page will allow fans a Group will not
-Suggest your Page to ALL of your friends
-Ask them to do the same with their friends
-Post as many pics as possible — visuals draw & keep interest.
-Fan other pages through your Page and they might reciprocate
-Respond to all comments left on your page => fans like this interaction
-Link your FB account to your Twitter account.
-Anything you post on FB gets tweeted => and saves time (Applications>Pages)
-Place an Ad on FB
-If possible use the gravatar/ icons for each social network. These visuals stand out + brand.

3) Linkedin
http://www.linkedin.com/companies/casart-coverings-llc
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyspencer
• Professional version of Facebook
• Create Individual and a Company profile
• Post job experience on personal page, make public (excludes contacts)
• Area to post what you’re working on + Facebook, Blog + Twitter posts
• Updates get sent to all contacts weekly
• Connect with others you know, get introduced to their contacts
• Search for others in your field
• Search and learn about companies
• Search and post jobs
• Join groups through other contacts’ info and searches and comment in & follow forum discussions — this has been the most beneficial resource. Through it, and requests to link, I’ve been connected to a wallpaper rep and distributor.
We had a surge in our website traffic recently due to 2 discussions, one on Architects & Interior Designers asking, “What part of the Design Industry are you in?” This thread was started in 2008 and has over 350 responses,  all responses that I can search for marketing and since I posted, they now know about us. 2nd discussion on Interior Design asked if anyone was using Twitter to post their links so we could all follow one another, which we are doing 77 comments in 2 months and still going strong. I get notices when anyone posts something new. I send these to my sister who follows them on Twitter and Facebook and is able to review their contacts through these vehicles.

4) Twitter (http://twitter.com/casartcoverings)
• Allows you to “tweet” short phrases & links to bring attention to your business
• You can “follow” numerous others and they can follow you — bringing popularity and curiosity and exposure to your business.
• You can tweet others, even those you may not know by commenting on their posts. This is a less formal way to get introduced, directly.
• You get up-to-the-minute mentions of others are doing — important for us learning about what is going on with magazines and designers. It’s the “inside scoop” to what may have been otherwise a private email or phone conversation between parties “in the know.”
• These tweets can be set up automatically so they are 16 character teasers to your blog, which then gets folks to your website.

How to do it:
-Sign up for an account
-Tweet at least every other day
-Post urls (website addresses: http://….)
-Follow many and they might reciprocate
-Don’t tweet meaningless things – followers will drop you
-Try and use your actual brand name in your tweets
-Retweet something that you like.
-This tweets another tweet that your followers would like to see.
-Accept ALL followers except those that are clearly not in your industry or are in the Porn industry.
-Some follow just for numbers so be wary

5) YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/CasartCoverings)
• Even bigger now that Google took it over
• Where folks go to learn and or be entertained
• Film and post demonstrations, interviews, humor — things to help explain and personalize your business.
• Folks will see in a search + put link on website
• Folks can comment on what they see and rate your videos if you choose
– option to review before these are posted
• Tracking to see how many folks watch, their dynamic (by what the watch) & from what location they watch your video — all helps with marketing

A few other social networking sites to mention/ how they work:
Good overview explanation video: http://socialcreeper.com/
1) Wikipedia & WikiAnswers — we answer questions and this gives our url link exposure
2) Issuu — interactive catalog viewing of files. We have used on our Press page where folks can comment/rate and bookmark for others to see.
3) Delicious — interactive bookmarking site:
4) Stumble Upon — works the same way but for any media and a great way to “stumble upon” new discoveries based on what you find and like in your tagged items and subjects of interest. Can connect with others this way as well
5) email circulation and eNewsletters can be shared. Use your website+ as your signature
7) Google Buzz w/gmail = their version of Facebook. Like twitter w/followers
8.  Surveys can be posted and encourage participation (survey monkey)

9) Digg — social bookmarking site

For my art business, I use:
1) ArtSpace through FauxForum = Like MySpace for artists
2) Photobucket = Sharing photo site and way to post these on ArtSpace
3) Slide.com = Videos from photos and to post on Artspace and share

Photos:
1) Picasa (Google based/ Casart photos)
2) Flickr (Yahoo based/ Casart photos)

Music:
1) MyFlashFetish — to search and add songs and share with others if you wish
2) SingingFish — same as above, another search vehicle and can post on ArtSpace
3) Fileden — has free storage for these MP3’s and feeds into ArtSpace
4) LastFM — great way to locate new music based on what others are finding
5) Pandora — another social media site for music lovers

Literary:
1) LibraryThing.com — way to save and share books
2) Amazon.com — writing reviews gains you exposure
3) Google Reader

Other Resources:
1) Social Media Tools 101: http://www.interactiveinsightsgroup.com/blog1/socialmediabeginnersguide/social-media-tools-101/
2) About.com (blogging section)
3) ProBlogger.net
4) Consider using Social Creeper — catch all for social media management.

© C. Ashley Spencer
Check results by googling Casart, Casart Coverings ArtIsEverywhere, Ashley Spencer (not the porn star or actress) :-0 !

Feedback is welcome. Have a blog?, please comment.

Note: With all these measures, our website traffic has increased over 75%. Hey, we’re patting ourselves on the back because we did all this without a marketing company. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but you can do it too. It makes marketing fun and a way to meet new people and learn new things. Discovery happens daily.

Finally, I’ll leave you with these popular YouTube videos by Socialnomics author, Erik Qualman about the Social Media Revolution and how it’s changing business marketing + I like the song, Right Here Right Now by Flatboy Slim. They are great examples of viral videos. Enjoy!

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Painted Cakes & CityZen

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I wish I was a food writer so I could describe the most incredibly delectable meal my husband and I experienced at CityZen at the Mandarin Hotel. It was pure food-as-art perfection, even with the sea urchin, which I can happily say I’ve braved that but won’t be having again. What Chef Eric Ziebold did with it was extraordinary, serving it with a garlic flavored flan that was divine, but even though it looked cooked, the texture was so slimy that I thought I had eaten something on the Survivor challenge and passed. When discussing this with our waitress, it was confirmed that we should have chopped it up and mixed it in with the flan. Well, now I know but no next time. Despite this, the entire dining experience was exceptional from ambiance, to delicious food and wine pairings, to outstanding wait staff and service to even the music. I couldn’t believe they were playing Raidohead, a band Peter and I find so personal we just looked at each other and toasted. Someone in the kitchen really knows their food and music and had a great iPod playlist for us all to enjoy.

We had taken our son, Piers, to Sou’Wester, Ziebold’s other restaurant to celebrate his 21st birthday. It was kind of surreal that he could order a cocktail with us. The food was good there too but being from New Orleans, I’m a pretty big critic regarding “Southern” food and it didn’t quite past muster with me. Granted they were only a week old at the time and Ziebold’s Midwestern roots may have explained a lot. We could see CityZen through the glass doorway, since the two restaurants shared the same restroom facilities. We had been longing to go there for a while.

We finally dined there this past Friday. When we arrived a signed birthday card from the chef and all the staff was waiting for me at the table, which happened to be the best seat in the house — around the corner from the main dining room, in the wine alcove. There were only a few other parties so it was pretty private. The birthday card was a nice touch because it wasn’t over the top or embarrassing. We had a choice of the Tasting Menu or the A la Carte Dinner Menu. It was a hard choice and honestly that sea urchin for the first course almost made me choose the other side, but I’m so glad we went with the Tasting Menu and the Wine Pairing — a pretty penny — almost as much as Citronelle where we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and we figured we were spending about $100 an hour! Ouch, but both of these are so worth it. If you have an opportunity to celebrate a special occasion, please consider CityZen, for it will be one of those meals you will always remember. No wonder, CityZen never fails to have the highest rating on the annual restaurant guide and is considered one of the best dining experiences in the entire DC area. I wholeheartedly agree.

cityzen-restaurant -- our table in the corner

When we left, they had the Tasting Menu and Wine Pairing lists packaged for me in an envelope so I can always remember. They must have known I treasure these things for the memories they bring.

This has been a three day unexpected blitz of a birthday. My drinking buddy girlfriends took me out Thursday at Cheestique. A fun neighborhood place we like, with it’s hip bar area in the back, beyond the deli style cheese case and the gourmet shop in front. Luckily, my friend Patsie got confused and thought my birthday was on the 18th (hey, this happens when you get older, we just toasted to it), and Peter and I went out Friday with good friends before having a fabulous meal, and then out again for lower-key, comfort food with more friends on Saturday. I view these get-togethers as bountiful presents, enhancing my extended celebration. Honestly, if I didn’t have such great friends and a loving husband and family, I probably would have forgotten my birthday but I guess it’s worth celebrating the big ones every five years.

Birthday Flowers & Cards. Art Is Everywhere blog

Coincidentally, as I was going through mounds of papers to throw away, before my business group descended upon my house last Thursday, I came across this beautiful painted cake by Kendall. I looked at the name again, and realized I had been saving this clipping for over a year and Kendall is my good friend, Liza’s cousin. I’ll have to try one of her cakes, although this one looks too good to eat, like ruining a Chagall masterpiece.

Cakes by Kendall. Photo by Renee Comet for the Washington Post

I should mention a bit of icing that topped off my birthday. Since I’m going backwards in my description, the day started with a blog posting by Jennifer Sergent in DC by Design about my business group meeting and Casart coverings. Many thanks, Jennifer, that was a great post! I’ll be writing about this on Wednesday.

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