Discovered  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lately I have been snooping the internet and finding some really beautiful things. I thought I would share a few things that are on my wish list right now. I always love finding new shops and products. So here are a few that really strike my fancy lately.

From left to right, top to bottom:
Vance Top from Hackwith Design House  
Cloud Scarf from Dear June Shop
Ecuador Sandal from Nisolo
Hanging Airplant Holder from MudPuppy

Solid Oak Platform Bed by Hedgehouse
Soy Candle from Ville Marie
White Rattan Chair from Anthropologie
Rahua Rainforest Shampoo from Anthropologie
Miles Lamp from School House Electric

What are you loving right now? Is there something that you have found recently that really caught your eye?

To the Dunes…

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

One of my favorite things about Northern Michigan this time of year are the long days. The sun shines till 9 or 9:30 every night, which means you can work all day then cut out around 4 or 5 to head out for an adventure. Taylor is currently in town with us for the next week and a half and so we felt that during our first full day together we needed to get her to the dunes. So, after work we headed out for a run, hike, and swim along the lakeshore.

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

One of our favorite hikes through the dunes is in Glen Haven. This small canning town, which was once a ghost town about 7 years ago, has now become a fairly popular tourist destination. The great thing is that the dunes span for miles, so don’t worry, you can get away from the mini vans and hoards if you know the right places. For now I will leave those up to you to find on your own because we need to keep some places quiet enough so we can still enjoy it even in these busy months.

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

The dunes in Glen Haven are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; therefore, they are perfectly preserved and one of the most special landscapes you will ever see. The dune grasses and the old weather worn trees are my favorite. The rippling sand that is untouched is something to see if you ever get to the dunes. It is so special to see how the Earth moves the sand and how different the landscape is simply because of the dunes. Just feet away you have lush forests full of ferns and moss. It is pretty amazing.

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

From this hike you can see the North and South Manitou islands on the horizon, and sometimes when the wind blows in a certain way you can even hear the beeping of the lighthouses out on the islands.

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we made our way down to the water, we convinced Taylor that there was nothing better than a cooling swim in Lake Michigan. Thankfully the water has warmed up in the last few weeks to a point where you can wander around in the shallow areas, and if you can will yourself, you can dive under in the deeper parts of this majestic body of water. In the bays it is far warmer, but last month when I jumped in to the open lake I had never been colder in my life. Thankfully we were sweating and hot enough from hiking on an 80 degree day in the beating sun that the cold water sounded like the best thing in the world.

To the Dunes  |  The Fresh Exchange

Once our bodies adjusted, we spent a good 30 minutes swimming around in the 4 foot water till we decided to make the last leg back to the car through the dunes. It was a perfect evening and truly why I love being up here this time of year. Every day I am reminded by how numbered our days are up here, so I am trying hard to enjoy it for all that it is worth. Soon enough we will be knee deep in renovating a house and life will look very different I think. Live in the moment my friends. Soak it up.

Happy Weekend! I hope you enjoy every minute of it!!!

What is in Our Productivity Tool Box

What is in our Productivity Tool Box  |  The Fresh Exchange

Owning a business for the last 5 years, Mike and I have been able to use programs through trial and error to help us be productive. Running a business as a creative is not always easy because creatives are not the best at staying organized (especially me). As you know we are big believers in doing what you love, but doing what you love still comes with tasks that are not super fun. We want to get through those tasks in a quick and smart way so we can get back to doing what we love, which is living and gathering inspiration. Thus, I thought today I would give you a list of the apps and processes we use to stay productive and get everything done.

If you are a mobile creative that is constantly changing locations or even a creative that is at an office everyday, you need to be using Evernote. As a creative team we use it everyday to communicate between each other about ideas or upcoming projects. We use it to plan editorial content, write up concepts for an up and coming brand’s social strategy, and to share our day-to-day tasks and productivity reports. The options here are endless. The best part is that you can also record conversations and meetings. You can even connect it with Feedly and other web and desktop apps. It is a brilliant thing that you can be using everyday for free.

Google Calendar:
No matter how hard we have tried other programs and calendar systems we have found this to be the best platform for us. We develop calendars specific to projects, areas of business, and individual members of our team. From there we can share them with our team and/or clients very easily. It is super awesome and simple to integrate into your mobile devices.

Though Mike and I are not money minded WHATSOEVER, we have learned quickly that we need to be smart about it. We have worked with great accountants and had amazing business savvy friends who have shown us the ropes on how to use Quickbooks. Though it has been an investment to get some training we now feel very happy with this program. We still work monthly with an accountant to help balance things out because we don’t always have the time. We are big believers in learning something but that doesn’t mean you need to do it. Our time is best spent doing what we do best so we stick to running invoices and paying employees and freelancers. Everything else is run by an accountant through Quickbooks, but that was after spending 2 years running it ourselves so we knew if something wasn’t right. It is important as a creative to find a program to manage your money so you know from where things are coming in and out. For us Quickbooks is that, plus it is free online.

Have you seen this app? I know there are a ton out there but we have been big fans of Buffer for a while. Basically, we use it to shorten our URLs and to share via all social channels. From there it helps us track how a specific post or tweet did. This is great when we run a campaign for the blog or we are working with a brand and want to help them with building the highest reach. Also, you can schedule tweets and Facebook posts at the best times for your audience based on the analytics they have gathered on when your followers are the most active.

Ever since Google Reader disappeared in to the internetverse we have all been mourning the loss of our daily read. Sure there have been a lot of great apps that have surfaced to help make our world of reading blogs possible, but none of them have reached the level of awesome as Feedly. We have been big fans of this app since it surfaced right around when Google announced that they were pulling reader. So, why is Feedly so awesome? I could go on and on, but here are just a few reasons we love it around here: ease of socializing posts (which is a huge plus to bloggers), the multiple formats of reading, the organizations, suggestions for new reads, the amazing design, and the fun and easy to use apps. We use this to help find bloggers and publishers who our brands should connect with and also to keep up on what is happening in the creative world.

Just over a year ago one of our freelance designers introduced us to this project management software. We had been using Basecamp on various projects but always felt as if it was missing something. When we began diving in to Podio we fell in love. Now we use it to collaborate with our freelance employees and current employees as well as work with those we are working on specific projects with. There are not many things I have found wrong with Podio to be honest. The ease of use is great as well as being able to customize projects with various widgets. Currently, we are using it to work with people all over the US. The best part to me is the integrated messenger system where you can have chats going on with those you are working with, thus your iMessage and Inbox are not being swamped. Also, there are mobile apps for free so even on the go you have access to the project info. Not to mention Podio is based out of downtown Raleigh at the Citrix headquarters, so we love supporting a local company.

I would love to hear from you what some of your favorite productivity apps and programs are as business owners or even what you use for your blog! There are so many out there and hearing your feedback would be great!!

In My Tote: Summer Essentials with FashionABLE

In My Tote: Summer Essentials  with FashionABLE  |  The Fresh Exchange

With summer in full effect around here, I have recently become pretty attached to a few things. So, when FashionABLE asked me to share what I would carry in their brand new Mamuye Leather tote this summer, I was totally game! This tote is my new favorite go to bag. I am a big fan of well-crafted leather (especially in the bag department) because of the wear and tear it can take. Also, who doesn’t love a well-aged tote after a year or so of use? There is nothing cooler in my mind. What I love about the Mamuye is that this little lady not only packs in the style and simplicity, but it also represents a great cause and vision. See, FashionABLE partners with female artisans in Ethiopia to hand craft gorgeous high-quality pieces with materials sourced from the area. The goal is to help Ethiopian women have the necessary means to support their families, to pursue an education, and to live well . I love nothing more than owning a product that has a story deeper than the shelf on which it sits.

Since I have lived out of one suitcase for nearly four months this summer, I have become aware of my essentials-especially the essentials that will be in my tote that I carry each day.

In My Tote: Summer Essentials  with FashionABLE  |  The Fresh Exchange

These are a few items that have been essential to my summer thus far.

In My Tote: 
Mamuye Tote from FashionABLE:
You always need a good one to have for the beach, to swing around the farmer’s market, or to simply carry your drinks to the boat.

Ex-Boyfriend Shirt from Madewell (similar):
This shirt is an essential wardrobe piece in my life. End of story. In the summer it is my side kick that I throw on after a swim or lounge in in the morning while drinking coffee. I basically throw it on over everything.

Lace-Up Espadrilles from Soludos:
Sure, you can have sandals but these espadrilles are the perfect shoe on a warm day. They are super comfy and keep the hot sand away from your feet.

Favorite Sunnies from Rowley Eyewear:
Yeah, I don’t need to tell you why these are essential.

Recycled Cotton Travel Journal from Raven and Lilly:
I never leave home without a journal. I always have one in order to capture my ideas, doodles, and so on. This one has a fun pattern for summer.

The Skinny Dipper from White Whale Bold Mixers:
If you want a simple great drink for summer The Skinny Dipper is it. Serious. I am having a hard time drinking any other cocktail this summer. Tequila, Mango, and Lemon…that’s all you need to know.

Eden Scarf from FashionABLE:
This scarf has been everything during the past four weeks. I wear it all the time and have also used it for a beach blanket. It is seriously the perfect weight, and the colors are perfect!

In My Tote: Summer Essentials  with FashionABLE  |  The Fresh Exchange

Isn’t summer awesome? Clothes are lighter, your skin is tan, and the warm days make you want to jump into the water no matter how chilly it may be. 

In My Tote: Summer Essentials  with FashionABLE  |  The Fresh Exchange

Lastly, to make your Tuesday better, FashionABLE wanted to share a 15% code with all of our readers! So, head on over to the shop and help support what they are doing by using the code, FRESHSUMMER to get 15% your entire order. If you spend over $80 you will also receive free shipping. 

Hope you have an amazing day! I would love to hear what y’all have in your own tote this summer? What are your own summer essentials that you don’t leave home without?