Category: mentoring

2019 Ayres Photography Client Gift Boxes

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As we round out this amazing 2019 wedding season and enter into the holidays and the season of giving, we thought it’d be the perfect time to finally share all of the surprises that our couples found inside this year’s gift box with all of you! This year we took our boxes in a slightly different direction than we have in the past. We chose the “quality over quantity” route which allowed us to include not one but TWO personalized gifts! And we’re so glad that we did!! While yes, it meant having to say goodbye to a few of our tried and true past vendors (honorable mention goes out to Zandra Beauty and her incredible Big Balm – we will definitely bring you back again in the future because you are SO loved!) – it also meant that we could put a little more money and energy into the fewer, very carefully chosen items this year! Our couples absolutely loved what we created for them this season, and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the incredible vendors who participated this year. But before we dig into the contents of 2019’s gift box, we want to take just a minute to remind everyone why it is so important for us to be able to deliver these unique love boxes to our couples every year…

If you’ve been following along with our gift box unveilings each year then this part is not news to you. For the new readers out there or for anyone who needs a refresher on exactly WHY we drive ourselves crazy during the first few months of every year, wracking our brains trying to come up with the most perfect gift items, scouring the internet for the most perfect makers, carefully piecing the boxes together and spending a pretty darn good amount of dollars investing in the amazing items and shipping them all across the country… it’s this: because without the incredible couples who trust us every year to document the most important day of their lives, we simply wouldn’t exist. Ayres Photography would not be Ayres Photography without our beautifully unique couples, and it’s unbelievably important to us that these amazingly wonderful humans fully understand just how much we appreciate them. So yes, we dig deep into researching our chosen vendors. We take the time to hunt down high quality items made by high quality people. We spend hours upon hours driving around the city to pick up our handcrafted items, perfectly placing them in hand assembled boxes, and carefully tucking them in and securing them for their long and treacherous journeys across The States. And when our couples come home to the surprise of finding a little box of love waiting for them on their doorstep, and they open it up to discover a handful of specially curated items just for them, and they smile because they know that their wedding day is absolutely going to be in the best hands possible… THAT, my friends, is why we do what we do. :)

So, without further adieu, our 2019 Ayres Photography Client Gift Boxes!!…

  1. A little bit of living, breathing life. We love all things nature here at Ayres, so including a sweet little succulent plant in our gift boxes this year was a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t get excited to see such an adorable little plant on their shelf every morning?? And since succulents are so easy to care for, they made for the perfect earthly offering, ready to be shipped all over the country to couples with and without green thumbs alike. When it came time to track down the provider of said little plants, we happened to come across Life is Succulent on Instagram, and were thrilled to find that a brand new brick and mortar shop was to be opening just in the nick of time right in Amherst, NY!! We reached out to the owner, Kristin, and she was just as excited about the gift boxes as we were! She even included beautiful little succulent note cards for each of our couples. It was a match made in social media heaven! If you’ve yet to pop into Life is Succulent, you best get your butt over there! Kristin is full of kindness and light, and her shop perfectly reflects those very things! Plus, it smells really amazing in there.
  2. Custom venue drawings. This was a tricky one to pull off, but once the idea was put into our heads, we knew we needed to do whatever we could to make it happen. We dug deep into the world wide web for multiple reference images for each and every venue we’d be shooting at this year (trust us when we say – this was no easy feat). Once we knew that we had them all accounted for, it was time to hunt down a talented human to make our drawing dreams come true. All we can say is thank God for Etsy! We came across Anitra Edney’s shop, which featured the most perfect little custom pen and ink drawings of homes. Her style is realistic with a touch of whimsy, just how we like it. We reached out to her, fingers crossed and breath held, to present our idea and see if she was up for the challenge of hand drawing over 20 different venues for us. Lucky for us she was totally on board, and pumped out those little cuties in record time! When we received them on our doorstep just a week later (what?!) we were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how amazing they were! They were even better than we had imagined they would be! Each little 4×6″ drawing somehow perfectly captured the essence of each venue (despite some of the less than ideal reference images we sent over). Anitra’s attention to detail was truly astounding. Each drawing was completed with the couples’ names and wedding date underneath. We knew that if they made us smile that big, then the smiles on our couples’ faces would be even bigger. Mission accomplished!!
  3. Custom designed pennants from Oxford Pennant. This idea came to us from a friend, and we were so grateful for the suggestion!! Oxford Pennant was absolutely wonderful to work with. The owner, Dave, let us completely design a 100% never before made pennant specifically for our 2019 Ayres couples. Our studio manager, Rachel, set to work on the design, and we really love what she came up with! Perfectly on brand, unmistakably Ayres, and the most adorable addition to this year’s boxes. When we finally got to see our design in real life, we couldn’t believe how great they turned out! We’re so proud to be able to have gifted these high quality beauties to our couples this year. We even had one couple display theirs at their wedding reception!
  4.  We’ve decided that an Ayres gift box just wouldn’t be an Ayres gift box without Pop Tarts from our favorite little Buffalo bakery, Butter Block. These delectable confections have been with us for the entirety of our gift boxing journey, and we certainly weren’t ready to retire them just yet. In past years we’ve let owner Colleen make us an assortment of unique flavor combinations, but this year we opted for the classic: strawberry with white icing and rainbow sprinkles. Is there a human on the planet who does not love these things?! If you’ve never had a Butter Block Pop Tart, you’re going to need to make that happen ASAP. Trust us on this one.
  5. And last but certainly not least, another Ayres gift box tried and true, handmade soy candles from Linwood Candle Co. There’s something about Amy’s candles that allows them to absolutely fill an entire room with the most intoxicating aroma. In years past we went with her Sweet Grapefruit scent every time, because we simply could not get enough of how refreshing it is! This year, however, we were ready to try a new scent. We wanted something that was not too feminine and also not too masculine. Something that everyone could enjoy! Amy suggested Mission Fig, and it was perfect! Fresh and light and earthy and cozy all at the same time! And they made our boxes smell oh so nice upon opening :)

So that’s a wrap on the 2019 season! Did you receive one of these little love boxes this year?? If so, what was your favorite item?? If you weren’t one of our 2019 couples, what item would you have been most excited to receive?? Do you have any suggestions for next year’s gift box?? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Want to see what little treasures we sent out in 2018?? Click here!

goal chunking: my secret weapon for 2018

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For someone like me, who struggles daily with staying focused on tasks, having systems in place is the only way I will ever accomplish anything. I’ve learned that about myself over the years. If I don’t write it down or map it out, it just isn’t going to happen. Last year, I set very lofty goals for myself, and I thought I did a pretty great job of mapping them out, but I only accomplished 50% of what I set out to do, so I know my systems need work. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things I was able to check off my goals list were HUGE and deserve to be celebrated, but only for a quick minute; I’m all about looking for ways to improve and move forward.

When I took a close look at the goals that I set but did not accomplish, I realized that they all had one thing in common: soooooo many action steps. There were so many things that needed to be done to reach those goals and I didn’t do a good enough job of mapping out the steps. I needed a more clearly defined plan! Another thing I noticed with those goals that required a ton of steps was that if I shifted my focus to working toward another goal, I kind of lost all momentum and never went back to the really big ones. So, this year, I’m really excited to give goal chunking a whirl. I think it’s going to be a better fit for the way my brain works. :)

Goal chunking is basically just mapping out each goal with clear action steps and then focusing on accomplishing all of those steps before moving onto a new goal (within reason, of course; like, my day to day business tasks such as answering emails still take priority). It will take serious discipline for me to train my brain to work this way, but I think it’s really going to be a game changer for me.

Okay, so this is the template I created for goal-chunking, and an example of how I’m using it to map out a really big goal that I’d like to accomplish this year:

The box at the top of the page is where I write in my goal, and the lines below are all of the steps I have to take to achieve it. For example, one of my really big goals for 2017 was to launch my pet photography website. Well, actually, I’m just gonna go ahead and be real here…I’ve been “working on ” this goal for like 5 years, lol. It has been on my list every single year and it never happens because there’s so many steps involved and I lose interest and get distracted. Using the template forces me to give serious thought to what I really need to do to make this goal happen and map it out in a way that is easy to keep track of. Each step is like a mini goal, and I can check them off as I go. Without breaking it down this way, my goal “Launch Pet Photography Website” would be an abstract concept that would literally NEVER happen. This method makes me feel like there’s actually a chance of it happening for the first time ever, and I’m pretty excited about it. :)

What do you think of goal-chunking? Do you think this template would be super helpful for you, too??  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!