Why God Invented Wine

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Hey you.

Ya, you. Feeling a little down?

What is it with this season? Every entrepreneur I know is major struggling right now. Like, we need to have a major vent sesh over some wine. Preferably on a patio, with twinkly lights and no babies and where the wine is free. Because, to be totally honest, we are all feeling broke as a joke. And no, this is not a joke.

Here’s the thing: we get the ebb and flow of business ownership. Highs are super high, and awesome, and usually really productive and most often turn a nice little profitable paycheck at the end. But then we hit that low… when we feel like we’ve officially run out of ideas, energy and money.

You at a low? Ya, me too. So are my friends.

Rach said today, “Let’s just build a compound where we can self-sustain and create things, together!” I agree. But it’s not feasible. We know that, you know that, and God didn’t teach us to run away and hide from our problems.

Though to be honest, I’m totally down for a neighborhood full of my best friends and where we could all walk to a collaborative studio right down the street and our kids could all play in the court and we’d have intellectual conversations over cheese plates on the front porch.

#tangent. Whatevs. It’s a nice daydream.

There is no answer. I would love to be able to write a blog post that has all the answers, that contained enough motivational words of wisdom to pull us all out of this funk and prove to us that we were MADE to do this.

There is no proof, either. We are trusting God, the universe or whatever higher power you believe in that what we are doing is the path that was laid for us. Our prayer today is simply “Isn’t it time for some proof?”

We haven’t earned anything. There is no magic equation that equals “you did this, so you get this as a reward.” Everyone goes down their own path, has their own journey. Some are similar, some feel parallel, and some feel so different from one another that we wonder if there is a possibility that we aren’t both human.

My only tidbit of knowledge is this today: you are not alone. There is no need to sit on your kitchen floor eating mac and cheese and drinking wine, alone. Worst case, at least call me so I can do that with you. Best case, remember that there is someone else out there (eh hem!) doing the exact same thing.

Oh, one more tip. Some great advice that was once given me. Don’t quit when you feel like giving up. You know the saying, “When you’re going through hell, keep on going.” You will make a much more rational, educated and clear headed decision later. It’s ok to quit (or so I’m told, it’s a hard concept for me), just do it with a clear head on your shoulders. Not crying on the couch while watching Chip and Joanna wishing you could be them.

And also (see, I wasn’t done), don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t feel like a fraud. Trust us, our doctors, therapists, mom’s cell phone and now this tribe all know us well. Your bank account balance is not a representation of your success, and neither is your current email inbox.


Nicole & Co. | A Rising Story

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Let’s be real about this.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everyone has a struggle, a strife, an inspirational experience that is worth sharing.

Everyone has risen up from the rubble.

Not too long ago, I realized that some people fall well, and some people rise well. Some of us prefer to find motivation while we are falling. Like the saying, “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds wings on the way down.” Or, on the contrary, some of us (like myself) fall off of said cliff, hit the dirt, and then decide to build a barrier so it doesn’t happen to someone else.

I am not quick witted. I am not really very funny. In fact, my husband would “quick wittedly” tell you that I am actually kind of non-observant and aloof. It takes me a long time to understand jokes, and I often Google things that were talked about over dinner later in the car on the way home. This makes it somewhat hard to “fall well.” I am not nearly quick enough to think about how to save myself from falling. With that said, I coincidentally tend to fall hard. I easily get caught up in the moment, and things tend to hit me all at once. My body likes to get sick when I have been working too hard; I get anxiety attacks more than I’d like to admit; crying is part of the most-everyday routine. I have been told that I feel too much, or that I’m oversensitive. This all may be true, but I like to consider this instead : I just don’t fall well.

Face down in the dirt is not my favorite place. Not that I think it’s anyone’s “favorite” place, but I really, really, really despise it. When I’m down, I almost always just break down. I cry, I kick and scream (or in mommy terms, I throw a tantrum), I reach blindly for help up, and worst of all, I am just straight up pissed off that I got my clothes dirty.

Most of all, I hate the feeling that I know I will be there soon. I can recognize when I’m falling almost immediately. And instead of trying to figure out how to stop falling, I always, always start thinking about how to get up.

I fall hard. But here’s the thing : I rise really well.

I am a strategic risk taker. I don’t mind falling if I have a plan to get back up.

Example : once (okay, wayyy more than once), I was riding a young horse who I knew was eventually going to buck. It’s usually on cold, foggy mornings after a few weeks of time off, and he’s fresh and giddy and has some energy he needs to burn. When I feel this horse hump up, I ALWAYS look for the safest place to land. The muddy puddle is usually a safe bet, soft landing and he probably won’t run over me. I strategically don’t go uphill, as I know downhill means speed which means energy which in turn, usually means bucking. You get my gist. I know I’m going to fall and instead of preventing the fall, I’m just working on how to get back up.

I do this all the time. With everything. A lot of it probably has to do with experience. A lot has happened in these last 28 years.

Which leads me to this. So many stories are told about the fall. Most of the story time is taken up with blind anticipation of an exciting incident. It’s funny how little time it takes to fall, but how much time is spent talking about it. It’s even more peculiar how it takes so much time to rise up, but so little time is spent talking about that part.

It’s time to tell my rising story.

Sure, I’ll have to spend some time on the fall, but that’s not the helpful part.

Experiences teach you things. But more importantly, what you do with those experiences MAKES you who you are. You can choose how to react to situations, and you can learn from your own, and from others’.

If you’re one that falls well but has trouble rising, I’d like to help. If you’re one that falls badly but rises well, well, call me. We should drink wine together.

So what does this mean? Ya, I’ve totally rambled on for way too long. There’s a point, I promise. Well, a few points, actually.

  • This year, I’m proud to announce that I will be writing and publishing my first book. It will be the first glimpse into my rising strong story (thanks, Brene Brown – you have officially coined the coolest term ever). My goal is to have it written by early fall and in the publishing spectrum before the end of the year.
  • But further than that, I am launching a lifestyle brand. This business will be focused on helping others rise – in life, in business, in God, on purpose. Nicole & Co. will be socially focused, reaching an audience through blogs, social media platforms and speaking engagements.
  • Finally, Nicole & Co. will be spending much more time on sharing what I know. Be looking for a fun little online shop, casual and quirky Insta stories and blog posts, behind-the-scenes of my days and oh-so-many collaborations with my favorite people.  

I hope you’ll follow along, share and engage with me. My goal is to be a small part of your life, and for you to be a big part of mine.

More details to follow. Rise well, my friends.

“And in the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus.”


Taxes for the Weary

So, let's talk about something that no one really wants to talk about. 


But really, everyone deals with them at some point in their lives. And here's what I'm finding:

There are tons of blogs about taxes and how to pay them, deduct for them, track them, plan for them, and emotionally prep yourself for what you'll be dealing with. But if we are completely honest with ourselves, how many of these posts are actually true life situations that young people share with the world?

Money is uncomfortable. More than that, telling other people about your money is uncomfortable. And terrifying. I feel like I want to throw up a little even when discussing it with my mom. 

I'm going to put myself out there for a minute today and tell you my money story. My only hope is that it helps someone else out there when they get to a point in their business when money is not only scary, but it's something they will deal with every day, whether they want to or not.

I started my business almost 5 years ago. My first year, I grossed something like $6,000 total. Living was difficult, but hey, we've all been broke at one time or another. My second year got a little better - I rented an office, started to actually make a living and not live off noodles, and had a reputation beginning to build.

I have more than doubled every year since. Doubled, meaning gross income, net profit, contracted service costs, hours worked, clients served, equipment needed, sleep lost, and the list goes on. 

Don't be deceived by those who claim they have increased at such and such a percent over the years - they may mean money, but really, that success comes with an increase in everything.

Included in those things is KNOWLEDGE.

I cannot tell you how much I've learned in a very short amount of time about money. Never, ever, in a million years, did I think I needed to understand money like I do now. And I anticipate it only means I will learn more as I grow up. I'm astounded already, what my brain will hold in knowledge, simply about this subject, by the time I teach #babyandreini about it. Our bodies are amazing, aren't they?

But back to money. I nearly fainted the first time my tax bill was over $1,000 at the end of the year. And it wasn't that far into my business. I knew and understood that the more I made, the more taxes I paid. But silly me, I kind of attributed that ratio to be the same as my business grew.

I was wrong.

Unless you're a business or accounting major, you don't learn the tax code. And let me tell you people, it's gnarly.

Here are some things I heard that were supposed to put my heart and mind at ease when I thought about taxes and money (but be forewarned, I should NOT have listened):

  • Getting married and filing jointly will give you tax break.
  • You get to write off all that interest you pay on your new home, and what you pay is mostly interest that first year.
  • A growing business means growing deductions.
  • Your new baby is a write off.
  • Your spouse has his taxes taken out of his paycheck already, so you only have to worry about yours.
  • His return could be used as part of your tax payment.
  • If you file early, you'll have lots of time to prepare for the April 15th deadline.
  • Send your taxes to an accountant. They will be done more accurately and you'll pay less in the end.
  • Pay your estimated taxes and you'll have a nice small, if not eliminated, tax bill at the end of the year.

Shall I continue?

Though all these statements are true, they did not help me.

Here are my list of tips, re, what I think the list above should have said:

  • Getting married and filing jointly MAY give you a tax break. However, as an entrepreneur, it may be beneficial to consult an advisor on ways around this. Key - you have self employment tax. Since you're married, it's not as simple as filing as an individual. And now your income is combined. If you both grow in worth, your tax bill grows, too.
  • Yes, you get to write off your interest. However, there is a flat deduction that most accountants file for a married couple. Find out what this is, look at your end of year mortgage statement, and make sure your accountant has all the information to make sure you get the highest deduction. 
  • A growing business DOES NOT mean a perfect ratio of deductions. Let me explain: My business grew by 62% last year. In 2014, I made 1/3 of what I made in 2015. However, my cost of doing business did not increase by 62%. Which means that though my deductions were more, they were not nearly THAT MUCH. As a creative business owner, there are only so many computers I can buy and miles I can drive... there's a tipping point, and I hit it. Hard. 
  • As far as the baby, ya, we'll see. I don't trust it, though. We are planning for that deduction to just simply not exist, then maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised when our tax bill is a little lower than expected.
  • This is the biggie - your spouse and their retained earnings. EVEN WHEN you think they are withholding enough, withhold more. Find the bracket that spouse falls into, and MAKE SURE they are taking that percentage out of their paycheck. And if that amount, nevermind if you're married to a self employed creative like myself and have COMBINED INCOME, is not being withheld every month, you will owe taxes at the end of the year. Goodbye the days of tax returns. 
  • Which leads me to this point - if there is no return, there is no help. If you're lucky enough to get a return, yes, it may be used as part of your tax owed. But most likely, it won't be enough.
  • No matter how early or how much you prepare or think you understand your finances, you'll never really be prepared. Tax is spooky... it comes out of nowhere...
  • Yes, send your book keeping out for review and have an accountant do your taxes. But then, if you feel like you need it, REVIEW THEM YOURSELF. And maybe even get a second opinion, too. This will prevent any mistakes, and more importantly, you're much less likely to go crazy trying to do them yourself.
  • Finally, the estimates. Sure, pay your estimates. Just remember that those estimates are based on the previous year. If you plan on growing, they won't cover what you need to pay. Or, if you're getting married, or buying a house, or have any major life changes coming your way, they don't take those into account. Tell your accountant about these plans, and have them adjust your payments accordingly. And then pay them. Really, pay them.
Granted, this is just my experience and things that I have learned the last 5 years. It may or may not apply to you, and it is definitely not coming from an accountant, who would probably scold me for providing tax advice. But, as I was in inconsolable after our tax bill got delivered last week, of course I went online to find another creative's story on how to deal. I couldn't find one, and it made me wonder why.

Hence, this story. It's true, it's raw and it's not pretty. It's not something that is easily shared, whether it's because we are scared to share our story, uncomfortable getting this personal, or afraid that the tax gods are going to come after us for telling the truth. 

I encourage you all to be honest about your money, be open with other business owners and spouses of entrepreneurs about your experience, and then maybe we can all help each other emotionally deal with this. 

Money is the worst thing to fight about. It's also the worst thing to deal with alone. And trust me, it feels like a huge weight is lifted when it's understood and shared with someone else.