My Three Best Career Decisions of 2017

2017 was a big year. We finally opened the business and I proceeded to get a crash course in running a small business, ready or not! What ensued was sheer joy and a looooot of learning experiences. Speaking of, below are the three most impactful career-minded decisions I made last year…

1. Working with a Business Coach… I’d met with a business coach a couple of times during a particularly rough patch of the Y&Y build out, not having had a particularly wonderful experience. And although I knew they could be game changing for business owners, I never pursued one again after that early less-than-stellar experience. It wasn’t until I attended a small meet up of like-minded business owners and met Megan that I opened up to the idea again. I immediately felt a connection with Megan, an ease. I felt instantly, almost too-good-to-be-true, comfortable with her. I decided to do a free consult session to talk about what types of things I wanted to work on and was hooked right away. I’ve just finished my first six-month stint with her and cannot say enough good things.

My main reason for wanting to work with her was, on a high level, wanting to be the best possible boss/leader/manager/business owner I could be. I know in every fiber of my being that I know what’s best for the direction of You & Yours …but all the other stuff that comes along with running a customer-facing business, I’m still learning. Managing a team of eight employees, all of which are older than you, several of which have far more industry experience than you, is hyperrrrrrr intimidating and challenging. At the time Megan and I met, this is what I was struggling with the most, and now, six months later, I feel so much more confident and capable in managing and leading my team.

I also found it incredibly beneficial just to have someone to vent to. Now most of us probably vent about work to our spouse or roommate or significant other, but when all three of those people happen to be your business partner too, it doesn’t always work out so well! #Lollll. And on a related note, I don’t always want to go to my partner with every little thing that’s bothering me. He runs his own business too, on top of being involved with me on Y&Y, and taking his time away from those two things to bitch about some random annoyance just doesn’t always feel right. SO, spoiler alert, I found myself occasionally venting to or unloading on the wrong people… namely my employees, and that’s just never a good idea.

Working with Megan allowed to funnel all of those annoyances, all of those fears and struggles and random little chips on my shoulder into one neutral, safe space where not only was I being heard, but actively coached on how to deal with them AND recognize them next time so they don’t keep being a thing. This, my friends, is HUGE. Imagine zero workplace drama, silky smooth employee-manager-boss relationships, and a massive uptick in energy and motivation. That is what working with Megan has created for me and I guarantee you can also have all those things too! And if you need help getting there, I suggest you give her a call!

2. Hiring an Admin… There was a time last year when I was spending, no joke, 60-70% of my time fielding event and partnership inquires. What felt like ALL of my free time was spent on correspondence/logistical back and forth with clients, event planners and potential brands or organizations that wanted to partner up. While I’m incredibly grateful for every email and inquiry that comes our way, managing this side of the business was not and is not my strong suit. I was doing work that I was not really that qualified to do, nor was I particularly passionate about. Working with a business coach helped me realize that if I found the right person to take over this area of our business, I would be free to direct my time towards A. work that is more productive given my strengths, and B. work that actually lit me up instead of drained me.

The main thing that kept me from hiring an administrative role (besides our payroll budget) was the fact that it it felt too self-important. I felt guilty for wanting to pass off these (what felt to me like the. most. soul-crushing) tasks and not just putting in the work myself. Not to sound like a broken record here, but Megan (see decision #1) helped me nip that dumb thought train in the bud real quick. 

Not only did I end up hiring an ‘Events & Admin Manager’, but I hit the actual jackpot with who filled the position. She’s a rock solid, organized gem of an event planner who just so happens to live close to the distillery AND has a very fitting design and marketing background. Does is get any better?! And since adding her to our team, I feel like the freakin’ Queen of strategic delegating. I’m almost too good at it now, seriously. Not only am I free to work on what I want to work on, but the other stuff is getting executed to a WHOLE other level I would have never been able to provide myself. Game. Changer. 

3. Working with a Stylist… This might sound a bit over the top but hands down one of the best career-minded decisions I made last year was working with a stylist, specifically local wardrobe stylist Conni Jespersen.

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{ Conni, helping me pick out an outfit for an upcoming panel! }

A while ago, before I fell in love with distilling, there was a time where I thought a career in fashion might be fun! I’ve always loved to sew and modify patterns and even took a special career-focussed track in high school to study fashion design and merchandising. This is all to say that I looooove getting dressed. I LOVE putting looks together, styling things and perhaps most of all – dressing my friends. Ask anyone who knew me in high school – half my closet was perpetually “out on loan” amongst my besties. Putting the perfect outfit together for an outing or celebration makes me giddy. But once I started the business, time to leisurely put looks together and get dressed at my own pace were things of the past.

Along with this sharp degradation of my free time came a rapid uptick in mandated professional “appearances,” let’s call them. Important meetings where I needed to impress, speaking engagements, photoshoots, on-camera interviews, sales appointments, meeting with other industry professionals, attending industry functions, and so on and so forth. Where my closet used to only have two jobs: “probably working from my dining room table” and “date night,” my wardrobe as a whole now had seemingly endless functions it needed to satisfy.

After attending a few of these aforementioned work things feeling less than dressed-to-impress, I decided to bite the bullet and reach out to Conni. I’d met Connie through my old boss, Cecelia (owner and proprietress of my favorite SD shopping spot – Vocabulary Boutique!) and had been following her journey on Instagram for years. What ensued was such. a. cool. experience.

First we went through my ENTIRE closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, flatter, make me happy to wear, or appear to be in good condition. Through that process, we identified pieces or staples I lacked, pieces I wanted to replace with higher quality or updated versions, and pieces I may not naturally gravitate towards but could probably benefit from having.

Then Conni started doing what – in my opinion – Conni does best… STYLING STUFF I ALREADY HAD IN NEW, TOTALLY F-ING COOL WAYS I WOULD NEVER THINK OF BUT STILL FELT LIKE ME! Seriously, it was like I threw out half my stuff but suddenly had an entirely new wardrobe. WTF. MAGIC! Then she’d photograph those looks and put them in a BINDER for me to reference later! I’m blissfully unaware of the severe airplane turbulence I’m experiencing right now drafting this post just thinking about that blessed binder.

But perhaps my favorite perk of all you get with working with Conni was – speaking of airplanes – her help PACKING FOR TRIPS!. Y’all. I legit went to New Zealand for 9 days with nothing but a f’ing CARRY ON thanks to her. She also put together every single look I wore on the vacation I ended up getting engaged on and for that I will always be especially grateful, lol. Packing is now so soooo easy and best of all, I NEVER overpack. It’s such an underrated game changer for someone like me who looooooves to travel, often plans trips last minute, and wants to look put together no matter what, whether the trip be mostly work or mostly play.

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{ ^^ another perk: Conni helping Luke & I coordinate our engagement shoot looks! }

Phewww! Now that this post is officially a mile long, what about you!? What are the best career decisions you’ve made in the last year? I’d love to know!

Spirit Review: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin

 

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Product: Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Flavored Gin

Category: Flavored Gin

Distillery: Four Pillars Distillery, Australia

ABV: 37.8% or 75.5 proof

Price: fluctuates based on market but typically found between $36 and $40

Tasting Notes: grassy, earthy, tea, chamomile, gentian, bitter

Ideal Cocktail Pairings: My favorite way to use this spirit is in place of Sweet Vermouth or pretty much anytime a cocktail calls for an Amaro. The shiraz grapes give the gin a ton of bitter, tea-like notes that remind me of an Italian-style bitter liqueur so that’s where my mind goes first.

It’d also be an obvious replacement for Sloe Gin in a Sloe Gin Fizz, or in place of whiskey in a New York Sour! I also love just topping it with a splash or two of sparkling water or your favorite Lacroix flavor for a quick and easy spritz.

Similar Products: Sloe Gin and other Gin liqueurs.

Final Thoughts: A really fun product to play around with, with a ton of applications, regardless of season. I’m a huge fan of Sloe Gins and Sloe Gin-style Gins in theory, but have had a hard time finding one that’s pleasantly balanced, so with this Shiraz Gin, I feel like I’ve finally found something within that realm that I actually like.

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One Year.

fullsizeoutput_3{ a fitting signamazing spread from our One Year Anniversary party! }

Where to begin!

I’m smiling as I write this, thinking about all the fun we had at our one year anniversary party last Thursday night! It was so humbling and inspiring to see all the familiar faces at the distillery, everyone there to celebrate this huge milestone with us! I feel so fortunate to have made it this far and to have accomplished so much in just twelve short months. It’s the best feeling.

Although it feels like both just ten days and ten years since we finally opened our doors last year, I wouldn’t trade the last twelve months for anything. The first year sure had it’s challenges – seemingly endless construction woes, a lawsuit, the inevitably high turnover rate of hospitality industry employees, learning how to build and manage a team, and a crash course in both supply chain management and production logistics.

For all the lessons learned though, we had a hell of a lot of wins too! Nailing down distribution within our first six months, solidifying over 100 (and growing!) accounts across the state, bucket list blog and media features, releasing a third spirit, dozens of cocktail menu placements, hiring our first full-time sales rep, and perhaps most exciting of all, purchasing a semi-automated bottling line! It’s the little things, lol. For more of my favorite moments from last year, read this post

Since I’m too excited to put any more coherent thoughts together (and in Kaua’i for our friends’ wedding!), I thought I’d answer a few questions about what we have in store for the year to come!

What else are you releasing this year? Coming up we have our Old Tom Gin releasing sometime in May (rich, malty, slightly sweet and spicy), Summer Gin in June (my version of a Hendrick’s-style gin: Meyer lemon, cucumber, lemongrass and mint!), and an Italian-style Amaro later on in the fall.

What’s next for the tasting room? We’re building out our outdoor patio so you can enjoy our flights and cocktails in a sunny, outdoor setting! Aaaannnnddd we’ll be squeezing in a small kitchen in the back (somehow, lol) so that we can finally offer some proper small plates to go with those delicious cocktails. Think Southern-inspired tapas and elevated bar food favorites featuring local San Diego ingredients.

Plans to expand? Why yes, I’m glad you asked! We’ve got our eyes on a 5000 sq. ft warehouse just a few blocks away from our existing location, where we’ll be able to store raw materials, finished product, and eventually, increase production with a new still! Stay tuned for a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but please leave any other questions in the comments, on Facebook, or DM me on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

The Bishop’s Wife at Madison on Park

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Madison on Park is the ultimate combination of sophistication and charm. Nestled on the quaint main drag of University Heights, this baby blue gem of a restaurant & bar offers a truly exceptional bar program complimented by an inspired food menu. Upon entering, you’re transported by the chic indoor/outdoor space, complete with high vaulted ceilings and colorful geometric shapes. This funky yet minimalistic spot is a must for date night or a quick cocktail with friends.

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Bar Manager Danny Kuehner runs the ship, turning out everything from perfected classics to one-of-a-kind creations. For those looking for a romantic sip, The Bishop’s Wife is a perfect pink cocktail that’s bound to hit even the non-gin drinker’s spot. It’s no surprise that the Wife is our favorite, as it perfectly compliments You & Yours Distilling Co.‘s Sunday Gin with cranberries, Genepy and lemon. Served in a crystal-inspired coupe and garnished with a pop of fresh cranberries, it’s both eye catching and delicious. 

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As for their cuisine, Madison’s food is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful — make sure to order the Tuna Tartare if you’re looking for a fresh starter, and the Pork Chop won’t disappoint as a main. The watermelon stack & roasted cauliflower gratin are amazing additions to the table as well! 

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All photos by Lindsey.

Two Ingredient Lacroix Cocktails

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

Now that we’re all done with Whole30 and “reintroducing” booze back into our lives (jk, I did NOT do Whole30 HAH), here a few waayyy better-for-you cocktail ideas. But in all seriousness, whether it’s for health purposes or because I’m just plain lazy, I love me a good two ingredient cocktail! Just combine your favorite spirit and an accompanying flavor of fizzy sparkling water and you’re good.to.go. If you want to be an over-achiever (you all know who you are) you can add a squeeze of citrus, a dash of bitters and/or a simple garnish of some sort.

The formula is the same across the board… 2 oz of booze + 2-3 oz. of Lacroix to taste. Stir gently over good ice cubes in a collins or highball glass and enjoy!

1. Vodka & Cran-Raspberry Lacroix // optional add-ons: lime wheel + fresh cranberries

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2. Sloe Gin & Berry Lacroix // optional add-ons: plum bitters + wedge of lime

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3. Tequila & Grapefruit Lacroix // optional add-ons: grapefruit twist

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours

What are your favorite spirits to pair with Lacroix? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or DM me on Insta (@LauraKayJ).

2018 Travel Plans & Bucket List

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For the first time in a few years, we’ve got quite a bit of travel lined up for 2018! The last few years have been all go-go-go, keeping our heads down, with opening You & Yours and all, but now that we’re rocking and rolling and have an epic team in place, we’re incredibly excited to hop back into our travels. Both for work and play. Here’s what we have coming up!

February – A Bachelorette trip to Cabo, then leaving for New Zealand a day later (pray for me). Luke is from NZ and we haven’t been able to make it back in a couple of years. We finally made the snap decision to pop down for a week to celebrate his father’s 65th birthday and hang out with friends and I couldn’t be more excited!

March – TWO Weddings… one in Kauai, HI and one in Jacksonville, FL.

April – A quick work trip to Cleveland (squeezing in a Cavs game!) then Miami for another bachelorette party!

May – Tel Aviv! This will be my very first Forbes 30 Under 30 global summit and I am so stoked! I’ve always wanted to check out Tel Aviv so I’m trying to swing this trip any way I can! Haven’t quite firmed up plans yet but will keep you posted. Also, my Mom’s request for her birthday this year is a trip to Santa Barbara later in the month. It’s one of Luke & I’s favorite places to visit to so we were more than happy to acquiesce.

June – Back to Cabo for another wedding!

July – December… No set-in-stone plans as of yet for the latter half of the year, but planning on heading to the UK at some point for a mixed business/pleasure jaunt. Also hoping to pop back down to the Bahamas for a little wedding planning reconnaissance!

Other trips we’re hoping to squeeze in…

  • Dying to get back to the South – Nashville, Charleston, etc., even if just for a long weekend.
  • Still need to check Montana off my list!
  • At least an SF trip or two. Two of my dearest friends now live there, which is a great excuse for a work trip too. And vice versa! Ha!

Where are you traveling to this year?! Have you been to any of the places we have planned? If so, PLEASE leave a comment or drop me an email – LKJ@Distillerista.com – Would love your recs!

Valentine’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

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I’m admittedly not much of a Valentine’s Day fan… I struggle to think of anything less appealing than braving crowds for an over-priced prix fixe menu just to celebrate a somewhat meaningless holiday. Ever since we’ve been together, Luke and I opt instead for a quiet meal and great bottle of wine at home, which is pretty much my ideal date night. However, what I AM a fan of is any excuse for a romantic little gift exchange! Hopefully this gift guide inspires you to treat someone this Valentines Day, fancy dinner reservations or not.

1. Art of The Bar Cart, a gorgeous new coffee table book, photographed by one of my favorite cocktail bloggers.

2. I FLIPPED out when I saw that Hangar 1 released this Rosé Vodka. My bottle just arrived and I can assure you it tastes as gorgeous as it looks, which is really saying something!

3. A GOLD SWAN PUNCH BOWL! Just ordered two for the distillery, but one mayyyyy end up sneaking home with me ;).

4. A teeeeeensy bit of a departure from our usual distilling/cocktail content, but I’ve been LIVING in this FP Bra and you totally need one too.

5. A Distillery Tour, duh. No matter where you live, just search your city and “distillery tour” and I guarantee you’ve got a craft distillery nearby. And if you live in San Diego, come on down to You & Yours!

6. This sweet Cherry Blossom Matcha Set is perfect for your matcha-obsessed bestie.

7. Use Bloody Shiraz Gin (actually a liqueur!) in place of Sweet Vermouth in a Negroni or mix with Berry Lacroix for a fun, low ABV spritz.

8. A chic Rose Gold & Leather Bar Cart – at a great price point, no less – would be the perfect companion gift to idea #1.

9. Heart Shaped Ice Molds are a sweet gift for your co-worker or whiskey enthusiast s/o.

10. Love these Blush Pink Rocks Glasses …or a better yet, grab a set of vintage glasses from local San Diego retailer Collins & Coupe.

11. And last but definitely not least, tickets for two to a Cocktail Making Class! Enjoy expertly made craft cocktails while learning how to whip them up at home yourself on those cozy date nights in.

Greens Gone Wild

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This time last year I created three healthier cocktail recipes for those trying to go a little dryer in January, each based on a different fresh pressed juice. (Check them out here, here and here!) This year I’m doubling down by partnering with local San Diego juice company, Suja, on not only a healthy cocktail recipe, but a fun event too!

Come on down to the tasting room this Sunday, January 21st, for our event: GIN & JUICE. You’ll get to try this cocktail AND learn how to make it at home! The event is free to attend and runs from 12 noon ’til 2 pm with the healthy cocktail-making demo kicking off at 1 pm. Plus free snacks and Suja juices! RSVP here and preview the recipe below. See you Sunday!

Greens Gone Wild. Created by Tom Burnett.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Sunday Gin
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • .5  oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, combined gently over low heat)
  • 1 oz Suja Uber Greens
  • 2 dashes Serrano bitters
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds. Double strain into a footed rocks glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber and lime. Enjoy!

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{ Photos by Ellis }

LKJ FAQ

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Happy 2018, friends! One of my goals for 2018 is to devote more time to Distillerista, so I’m attempting to kick the year off right with a new post each week. The start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to re-introduce myself so here are a few FAQs, fun facts and other random things you may not know about me!

  1. What’s your morning routine? I try to roll out of bed by 7 am and take 20 minutes or so to plan my day, sans phone & computer. I’ll write out a rough schedule, including blocks of time for emails and to-dos, while having coffee (Nespresso pod plus almond milk creamer & collagen!). Once I feel like I have a good game plan for the day, I usually open my laptop and take a few minutes to read the blogs I still follow religiously! Then I’ll tackle emails first thing. It’s probably not the healthiest (or most efficient) habit, but I can’t jump into projects unless my inbox is clean (or at least well-tended to).
  2. What’s your favorite non-alcoholic beverage? Tangerine Lacroix.
  3. Why do you love spirits so much? It’s twofold really… I think part of it is the rich history behind distilling and how far back culture surrounding distilled spirits goes. The other half is the creative opportunities the distilling process provides.
  4. Who is your professional role model? Giada, Christina Tosi, Ina… they’ve all created massive empires around what they love to do, which I hope to do as well.
  5. Why did you choose San Diego over Texas to launch You & Yours? Short answer, I wasn’t really interested in moving back. Long answer: San Diego has a very loyal, locally-minded culture that I felt would be very welcoming of You & Yours.
  6.  Besides Gin & Vodka, what’s your other favorite spirit? Rye! Or Rye-heavy Bourbons. OR Wheated Bourbons.
  7. What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? Nothing beats a Gin gimlet.
  8. What’s your favorite cocktail to make? Some sort of Manhattan or Boulevardier variation with whatever I have lying around my liquor cabinet.
  9. What’s the biggest cocktail trend that you anticipate for 2018? Not super into trends but I’m loving low ABV cocktails and cocktails with salt.
  10. What was your design inspo for the tasting room? Comfortable, approachable, pleasing to the eye.
  11. Advice for women trying to get into the beverage industry? Document everything you do related to the industry! Put it out there in the universe, for all to see, that you are interested in this industry and that you have a place in it.
  12. What would you do if you weren’t a distiller? Maybe a writer of some sort? Or perhaps a bar/cocktail program consultant. Whatever it would be, definitely still lurking somewhere in the wine & spirits/hospitality industries!
  13. Where do you want to travel in 2018? Stateside: Montana; Abroad: Tel Aviv!
  14. What are three things you’d never travel without? A book, my Away carry-on and plenty of snacks!
  15. If deserted on an island, what would you make sure to have with you? Assuming help is on the way, Champagne, a football and a good pair of sunnies. 😉

Top 5 Moments of 2017

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2017 was a big year. Full of some of the most rewarding and challenging moments of my life so far. I was thinking back on where I was mentally and emotionally this time last year and the tears came flooding. I remember waking up on Christmas morning 2016 with no joy. Just in the trenches. Feeling anxious and stressed and overwhelmed. It’s incredible to think how much has changed this past year. It felt so good to actually look forward to celebrating the holidays… And now I’m crying again! Read on for the top five moments of my 2017.

1. Opening You & Yours! I’m sure it goes without saying this was my proudest moment of 2017, and of my (professional) life thus far! We worked so hard for soooo long (almost three years!) to get the place open and finally doing so was the single greatest feeling in the world, though there were some lingering issues we had to navigate in those early days. Getting our production floor fully up and running a few months later was icing on the cake. Making that first official batch of Sunday Gin in my own still, on my own premises was a moment I’ll never forget… And as 2017 comes to a close, I’m happy to report our only “issue” is the fact that we’re quickly outgrowing our space! *knocks on wood*

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2. Forbes 30 Under 30 This was a total curve ball! Never in a million years did I honestly think I’d be named Forbes’ 30 Under 30… especially just mere months after opening the business. HOWEVER, fun fact: I had three (lofty) You & Yours-related goals for 2017 and nabbing a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 was the only one I actually checked off the list! Haha! I’ll take it.

Equally as rewarding as making the 2018 list was traveling to NYC for the launch party and meeting other list makers. Having conversations with others who’d been through similar struggles and could relate to how hard you work, what things you sacrifice while building a passion-fueled business, etc. was incredibly refreshing. It gave me a re-energizing sense of validation that has me super excited to dive into new projects next year.

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3. Launching our 3rd spirit & new cocktail menu. Although it took us a little longer than I’d hoped, we finally released our third offering at the distillery – our Winter Gin! We threw a party to commemorate the occasion and the amount of support we felt was overwhelming! We are so fortunate to have such a supportive hospitality community here in San Diego.

Along with the Winter Gin release we debuted a completely revamped cocktail menu. The entire front of house staff chipped in this time around and I love that everyone behind the bar is represented on the menu in some way. It was so much fun to design the concepts and work as a team to execute them. Every time I look at the menu or see a cocktail snap pop up on Instagram, it brings a huge smile to my face.

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4. Taking a real vacay… Another big moment for me more recently was finally feeling like You & Yours has a ROCK solid team in place. One that can allow for me to take a (baby) step back from day-to-day tasting room operations if/when necessary. Coupled with the fact that Luke’s business also hired some key support this year, it allowed us to take some real time off, just the two of us, and leave the laptops at home. We’re feeling so grateful this holiday season for the people we get to work with and the time we get to spend together because of them!

For my birthday a few weeks ago, we took off for a little over a week to the Exumas, a small island chain in The Bahamas. This area is one of my favorite places in the world, as my family and I have been traveling there for over 20 years! It’s also the first place Luke came on vacation with me when we started dating, so it’s super special. It’s also a place that didn’t require any learning curve upon arrival or much planning beyond just booking flights and accommodation, seeing as we’re already super familiar with the area and activities, etc. This was a big plus seeing as all we wanted to do was relax and recharge! See more pics on my Insta!

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5. Getting engaged! As a surprise to perhaps no one but me (hah!), Luke popped the question while we were on vacation. I didn’t think Staniel Cay could be a more special place to me/us, but it sure is now! After almost seven years together and some huge personal and professional milestones under our belt, the timing felt so right. Beyond ecstatic for what 2018 has in store for us both!

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