Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Resolutions...

Well...we're ten days are you doing with your new year's resolutions? Mine are going well right now, mostly because I only made them yesterday, haha!

Part of my resolutions are business related of course: I am always trying to improve my store Flourish Boutique, and  However, this year many are personal too!  In 2013, Flourish will turn five years old.  I have spent five years, unabashedly obsessed with being a boutique owner and being committed to making my business grow and....flourish!  That hasn't changed in some ways, but as the store has really taken off, I have found a renewed passion in making sure I have balance in my life.

To me that balance includes having a strong faith and of course a full family life too.  As any working woman knows, keeping all of these balls in the air, is really hard to do.  However: I find that the harder I work at it the more energized I's when I left the balls all drop that I feel most discouraged and exhausted.  Funny, as you would think it would be the other way around.  But really, it's anxiety or stress when I feel like I am doing a bad job that gets me down.  The more plugged in I am to my work, and faith, and family: the more I get done, and the better I feel.  

For me, getting plugged back in though when I have fallen off the wagon of living a balanced life and on schedule is really hard.  If I start to fall apart and let the day just get the better of me, I can end up feeling like I never got to important things business wise or personal wise.  I can end up feeling so exhausted I don't have it in me to go to the grocery which case I dont have the right supplies to make my son's lunch and he has to get school lunch.  I know it makes him feel loved for me to make his lunch, and I like to do that.  But once I start failing, it's easy to keep failing at all I have to do, and start feeling guilty, anxious, and overwhelmed.  To me, there's only two ways out of that downward spiral of anxiety: first compassion and love from the Lord, and then a personal commitment to try again and work off of a schedule.

Here's a scripture passage that speaks to this:

"God met me halfway; He freed me from my anxious fears" (Psalm 34:4)

As far as a schedule goes, the free spirit in me hates this.  But I find it basically mandatory that I adhere to the schedule... Otherwise the day will always overtake you!  A million things will come at you, trying to get you to abandon that plan and schedule, and thereby your resolutions...but if you can stick to it: then at the end of the day you will have made serious progress on all your to do's and feel like you touched each part of your commitments and responsibilities.  So with that, I am off to stick to mine, and I encourage you to make one for yourself too!  It's never too late:)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rust Factor!

As many of your fashion lovers know, Coral was a big color for spring and summer 2012.  As we transition to Fall 2012, the emphasis on coral easily shifts to RUST.  Rust is in the same family as coral...kind of a softer version of orange...but rust is autumn friendly.  It looks great with navy, camel, and brown...and as such it will look great with denim or with your fave brown fall boots.

At Flourish, we are loving the look of this new rust dress by Ya Los Angeles.  The pretty ruffle makes it feminine and it really can be worn by any complexion. 
Rust Factor Dress, $55:

Love the front ruffle

Cute from the side too!
Of course you can keep it simple as we have shown above: wear just a bit of jewelry and wear with some brown summer sandals.  But come cooler weather, here is how you could style it too:

To see other styles by Ya Los Angeles at Flourish: click here:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vacation ...a Victory!

So many people say to me..."It must be so nice to be your own boss and make your own hours".  There's some truth to that, as I do try to plan my days around my son's school and soccer schedules.  But, the reality is usually more that my work, as a boutique owner, keeps me so busy that I don't really plan my own hours.  In fact the hours and the needed work often plan my day for me, with business issues and work "fires" seizing me from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall into bed. 

Here's my secret though: I like it that way!  I love being busy, and I love the challenge each day brings as a business owner.  Have you ever seen that commercial for Staples?  The one about Dave? He is a small business owner, and when any problem arises the answer is always to call Dave.  I have an incredible team of people and they all make tons of decisions, but ultimately each person ends up with several questions for me every day, and combined with vendors, customers, emails, phone calls, voice mails, bookkeeping issues, etc: my every day is full of answering these questions and solving these problems.  When I see the Staples commercial I get a good laugh.  I can completely relate!  If you're a small business owner, you can watch it below and laugh along with me:)

The best part of my job, like Dave's, is that there is never a dull moment.  I always feel busy and fulfilled.  The flip side of this is that it is hard to have relaxation and to get away.  My husband and I have always tried to make 2 vacations a year a priority as weekends and evenings are mostly spent working for both of us.  We need that time to recharge.  In fact, I find I do my best work and creative thinking either on the way home from vacation or within my first few days back at work after some time off.  One challenge though is that ever since around the time I started Flourish, our personal finances (both from the costs of starting a new business and because of the recession effecting his work in real estate) have kept us from truly getting away.  For example, while taking a trip up into Michigan two summers ago, we cancelled a day trip to  Mackinac Island last minute because the money just wasn't there.  And, another example, we would go places with water but not have enough money to get out on the water in any way because we couldn't afford a boat rental or anything of the sort. 

For someone who grew up with a lake house, a boat, and jet-skis, it was strange to be grounded during vacations.  Growing up, my family had always worked incredibly hard owning their own small business, but we also played hard and had the financial blessings that hard work provided.  The recession though taught me that you can work just as hard, be just as intelligent, offer the same services, and try as you might you cannot 100% control everything.  That being said, we made our own fun on the vacations from 2008-12 and overall focused on the things we could still enjoy. Some of our top things to do while we were broke but on vacation included:

1. Going to a pool: though we didn't have the recourses to go to big amusement parks or out on the water in boats and jet skis.  We always seemed to be able to find a way to get to a pool.  Sometimes even our budget hotel or home rentals had access to one or you can often go to some type of community pool for very reasonable.  This helped it still seem like summer vacation and our son loved it
2. Getting drive through food and taking it to a picnic table on the beach.  Gone were the days of sitting out on patios at nice restaurants to watch the sunset while enjoying dinner...but we found a way!
3. Going to a thrift shop and buying old games and puzzles.  You can buy old games and puzzles for sooo cheap at places like Goodwill and things of that nature: we did this several times and had a lot of fun in the evenings playing family games.

During these times, I learned that family vacation really is all about family.  Sharing a meal is about WHO you share it with and not where.  Enjoying a "drive in" strawberry shake can taste just as good as a gourmet strawberry shortcake and so on. 

Slowly, over time, with the Lord's help, combined with discipline Stephen and I used in adapting the debt free policies of Dave Ramsey, and persistence on both our parts to make our businesses successful: we have pushed through the hard times and have both turned corners in our careers.  Flourish continues to grow and is now experiencing growth and success online too.  And, my husband's real estate career is going crazy.  He is now currently number two in our county for the year in real estate and he has been blessed with lots of new business coming down his pipeline right now too.  You can check his Facebook page out here in fact.   

This summer, our vacation is the first time I have taken time away and felt truly peaceful in over 4 years.   For the first time, I knew that we could take the time we needed to recharge without feeling guilty over not working.  I am so thankful to the Lord for his blessings to allow this time away and I am so thankful to my family and my husband for making it possible too.  We made our vacations during the past few years as fun as possible, but there is something about this trip that is returning my heart and soul to a place it not has been in a long time.  Mostly it's a feeling of peace.

Today, in what seemed almost like a symbol of freedom and victory, my dad rented a boat, and our whole family spent the whole day back on the water: tubing, boating, swimming, and in the beautiful sun.  We may not have a lake house anymore, or own the boat anymore  (these were all sold during the recession) but we have our family and that's whats important....and today we had the blessing to get out on the water and have a blast.  For us, it was a real victory and marked a turning point, from which we will hopefully leave the Great Recession behind us. 

Me, Vanessa, feeling grateful and peaceful on vacation!
 And, to top off one of the best days ever, we had dinner at a great waterfront local restaurant.  The sun set while we were eating and the sky was filled with beautiful colors, including a FLOURISH pink that made me smile.  It was twilight when we were winding down, and I snapped this photo below of our clan all relaxed and with a vacation glow.  So, with that, I am off to go read a little, relax a lot,  and enjoy a vacation evening.  I hope your summer is filled with the love of family too.      Much Love, Vanessa

The Cooreman-Smith clan enjoying dinner together

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sweet Summer

I think it's officially safe to say that it is SUMMER!

I LOVE summer colors in fashion.  Bright pink, coral, turquoise, yellow, and of course red/navy combos!  So much color and so fun!  See below for an outfit I designed on which is a great example of my favorite summer colors! 

coral and turquoise combo

You can buy the 'Wrap is Poetry Dress in Coral" at our website by clicking here!

I think part of why I like these colors so much is that they remind me of summer days gone by and wonderful memories; I look at this outfit above and I think of evening dinners at local, seaside restaurants...and the colors alone make me think of the beach, pools, sunsets, music floating in the open air, summer weddings, and more.  So somehow, getting an outfit this year in these colors helps me feel connected to past summer bliss and also makes me feel excited about the new summer memories surely around the corner.

Here is another example of great summer colors....and we love them worn with white denim!

a nod to mod outfit

You can purchase this chevron dress in navy by clicking here or going to
What are some of your favorite summer colors? 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Graduations, Engagements, and Other Evolutions....

This time of year, Flourish is always filled with women shopping for special events like bridal showers, weddings, engagement photos, graduations, and more!  It's always fun to help them find dresses and outfits for such monumental occassions, and we love seeing the photos of them wearing their special Flourish purchases too! 

This year, though, the season of change and occassions has been felt first hand at Flourish. Shelby, our sweet, youngest team member at Flourish graduated high school this year.  Here is a photo of her looking absolutely stunning and wearing Flourish of course!  In fact you can purchase this dress here:

Shelby, one of the Flourish girls, rocking the Gabrielle Dress in hot pink for her senior pics!
Nicole our store manager has three, yes three, children graduating this year!  Two sons from high school and one son from 8th grade. My own son graduated from kindergarten too!  Sarah, our team member who is on leave had a sweet baby girl last week.  And, Brianne, one of our Flourish girls graduated from Saint Mary's College, my alma mater, just a few weeks ago....only to get engaged just last night as well (also wearing Flourish of course, although this dress recently sold out, so sorry!)

Brianne, and her fiance Pat, on the night of their engagement!
So, needless to say, in addition to helping everyone else find cute outfits for those big moments, we Flourish girls have been joining in the fun as well!  As a result, the idea of change and evolution has been on my mind a lot....I can't stop thinking about those liminal moments in life where you cross over from being one thing to another....from dating to engaged....from just you to being a mom......from being a busy parent to being an empty nester.....from being single to married.....from being a student to a graduate, and so on.  These moments stand out in our memories and nowadays in our facebook timeline too...

It seemed only appropriate that Flourish too, undergo a graduation of sorts...or an evolution so to speak. Flourish will turn 4 years old in just a few weeks.  This is hard to believe in some ways.  It seems like only yesterday it was my dream instead of my reality.  Now, we have been in business for the same amount of time someone goes to highschool or college.  Flourish has certainly done it's own growing up and changing...we've moved to a better location, we've expanded, we've added a dynamic website store, and much more....when I think back on all these steps I feel like a proud momma watching a slideshow of memories. 

Here I am on the very first day Flourish was opened: July 8, 2008: Sure has changed a lot!
This past week though I have been brainstorming and thinking about ways to continue to perfect and make Flourish even better.  I met with some consultants down in Indianapolis this week to get some outside ideas and opinions. Some of their ideas really jumped off the page to me and will push me to really take the store to the next level.  Some of the suggestions are as simple as ways to improve our accounting and book-keeping.  Other suggestions though were to carry larger stocks of best selling items so that people get a better chance of getting their size and making all the work to put something on the website be more worth our time and energy (often times things are selling out so fast that we only have an item up for a day or two).  This will help save us time and resources but it will also make your shopping experience more enjoyable at

There were many more wonderful ideas that I cannot wait to nurture.  I take so much joy in our is my passion and my ongoing, evolving dream.  I hope you all are finding similar joy and having your own life changing, special times....  that's what this life is all about:  drinking in the moments with our loved ones,  and following and manifesting our dreams!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Show Me the Fashion

Show me the...FASHION!

It's no secret I love fashion!  I am a boutique owner, but I have always loved fashion even as a little girl.  When I played Barbies, all I did was dress them all up for a special event, only to start over, rarely even enacting anything with them.  I also spent hours hand drawing dresses and outfits for my paper doll collection.  I didn't even care much about the pre-manufactured was all about designing things myself.

In college, I felt torn between my love for fashion and art and a desire to stay close to my Midwestern family.  I knew if I pursued the fashion industry as a career most of the jobs were in cities like New York or LA.  For me, moving away from my family and my long time boyfriend (now hubby) was not an option.  I was always a family person.  It was my dad who tore out a newspaper article on a boutique in our community and suggested it might be a career that could work for me down the road.   He also made me stop and talk to the boutique owner and ask for a job.  She graciously gave me one, and I quickly fell in love with the job and the boutique environment. 

I tend to do things in extremes too, so only 4 years later, still in my mid 20's I took the plunge to open my own store.  What seemed like an adventure to me, probably looked crazy to my parents and family. I was young, lacked experience, and had a 2 year old to care for at the time.  Plus, only months after I opened my store in July 2008, the economy took a nosedive into the Great Recession.  However, what I lacked in experience and financial backing, I made up for in passion, faith, and determination. And, through serious hard work and perseverance my adventure has become a dream come true; I am blessed to have a growing, successful store.  I am super thankful to the Lord for helping me achieve this success.  I attribute basically everything to Him, as ultimately I believe that my hard work and determination were just ingredients in His plan for me and the blessings he has bestowed.  Flourish is His store not mine in many ways.

Flourish Boutique, home of I find myself 4 years later, settled into a career in fashion and therefore a career I was born to do.  I love, and I mean love fashion.  I can't get enough....I work all day at the store, come home and after the rest of my family is asleep start working again: editing photos, creating blog posts, email blasts, and doing online buying.  And I wake up every morning, ready to dive back in.  When I am on vacation I find myself, googling other boutiques, constantly on the hunt for merchandising ideas and new lines to discover for the store!  In fact some of my vacation boutique hunting has resulted in some of my favorite lines at Flourish like Mystree, Papilllon, and Judith March

For some reason, I was truly made to love Fashion and I believe called to open a fashion business.  To some, working in fashion might seem like a superficial career choice.  But I believe that there is a reason I love it so much and have been designed to be in retail.  I guess I am figuring that reason out day by day.  I don't have it all figured out yet.  My question for you though is...what is your "fashion"?  And what I mean by that is: what are you born to do and simply love?  I think so many people make career choices based on what they THINK they should do, what someone else thinks they should do, or what makes the most money...but I believe God calls us to pursue what he designed us to love.  I think we are supposed to work hard, but do it with our hearts beating fast for our work.  My dad once gave me this advice: "Do what you love and the money will follow"  What he meant was not to squander our time and resources in order to have fun, but more that if you carefully and purposefully plan your career around your passion, your drive and love for your work will carry you far and help you excel....such that money will follow.  It's almost impossible to work hard and with excellence when you dread work each day.  Almost every industry and career niches to discover to make money in...but the key is lining yourself up with those opportunities by pursuing what you love.  I encourage you to pursue what makes your heart beat fast!  Life is to short to be defined by a career you despise.  Seek your passion...start small if you have to, but start now and figure out a realistic way to do what you love.  Be wise and be responsible, but go after your dream!  Instead of saying "Show me the money...say show me the [fashion]."  (you fill in the blank!).