Have you ever been curious how or what to gift a client as a small business owner? I have! While at the MEO Retreat in January we had Liz share a presentation on how to pick the perfect gift, and the power of a sentimental gift, during the retreat and I had to bring the same conversation to the podcast. Liz Sieger, MEO and Founder of Sketch And Sentiment, is a truly thoughtful and caring person. That's why episode 117 of the Moments with an MEO podcast is all about choosing the perfect sentimental gift for clients or employees, with Liz.
In this episode, Liz shares with us the importance of a gift being both functional and pretty, and the power that comes with the sentiment. She also shares actionable steps to find the perfect gift on a budget!
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Liz Sieger 0:00
I've realized through refining my message and wanting these products to really give to other people, that I have to take care of myself too, especially after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, that is not for myself, that is something that I'm doing entirely for my clients. So I have to put it in my planner that I'm going to take a bath on this day, I have to put it in my planner that 15 minutes every evening is set aside for personal development and reading. Because I can't pour from an empty cup, I have to be able to pour into myself to continue giving to my clients.
Well, hi, Liz, it's so exciting to chat with you today on the moments within me yo podcast. How are you?
Liz Sieger 0:50
I'm good. Thank you for having me. How are you?
I'm doing so well. And I'm really excited because this is something that I've struggled with in my own business as far as who do I gift and why should I gift and what kind of price limit should I put on gifting. And so I know we're going to talk about sentimental gifting today. And I know it's really going to resonate with our listeners who are probably asking themselves the same thing. So I'm very thrilled to have you on the podcast, I met you actually at the MBO retreat, which is a great place to start and to connect. So we're basically best friends. But let's just start for those who aren't best friends with you, and just chat about who you are.
Liz Sieger 1:36
My name is Liz, I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. I like to say I am a lifelong crafter and entrepreneur. I am a wife of an Army veteran, a mom of two. I just love to craft and create. And I got into my business through handmaking gifts.
Now, how did you meet your spouse,
Liz Sieger 1:59
we met online, which I feel like is the most boring thing ever. So instead, I'll tell you the first time we met in person, which I came from a background where the most recent person my family who served in the military was my grandfather. So really not recently military affiliated, no military background, in my lifetime. So my husband and I met online, we lived two and a half hours away from each other. He took the day off work to come drive up to Dallas from Fort Hood. To meet me, I got to the bowling alley where we were going to have some drinks in bowl for our first date and 20 minutes into the day we got our drinks, we're chatting, it's going great. He looks at his phone and says, Oh my gosh, I have to drive two and a half hours back to Fort Hood. I'm so sorry. But I have to leave now. It turns out that his commander needed him to come back and deal with some AWOL soldier issues. And it was just a huge Wow, welcome to the military life things change. So thankfully, he was able to come back to Dallas two weeks later, and we went to the zoo and bonded and then he left for NTC for a month long distance dating, military dating. It is what it is we learned very quickly, how to date through the military when he deployed two months after that. Oh my gosh, it's been from the very beginning and adventure.
Yeah. And so you were with him when he was still in the military? What was it like for you going from civilian, not really connected to the military in any way to all of a sudden lots of long distance and trying to figure out okay, what's my life gonna look like now that I've fallen in love with this guy.
Liz Sieger 3:51
It was so interesting, just learning about the whole military world that I had no idea about. And I'm so thankful that the wives of all his friends in the military were welcoming and people who I really wanted to spend time with. I actually went back to Fort Hood every weekend that he was deployed, to hang out with my new army wife, friends, it was just really welcoming. I love the community. It was a nice balance of feeling like I still had the freedom to go travel and work. I had a corporate fashion design job at the time. So I was able to keep my career while he was deployed in training and all of that, but I could still come on post for you know, the garden party and hang out with the wives and all that fun stuff. So even though it was a really abrupt beginning to learning about the army with him just up and leaving several times. I feel like it was a really nice way to accomplish the career milestones that I wanted to before we got married. And then once we got married, I you know gave it all up, I moved from Dallas down to Killeen, Texas and really devoted my time to be in the army wife.
I've heard that what's even worse than reintegration after deployment is reintegration after your service member separates from the military. What was your guys's experience separating from the military? Do you still feel connected to the military, even though he's a veteran now and it's not like you guys have to be dedicated to a base.
Liz Sieger 5:29
We do feel connected, he has stayed in more of the blue collar industries. So he feels like, you know, he's still working with the same crowd of people. Many of his coworkers are veterans, so he's been able to stay connected to them. Plus, you know, some of those girlfriends that I met from the very first time I went to Fort Hood, I'm still friends with so I feel like we've made lifelong connections. As far as actually separating from the army. I think it was really hard that that was all he knew. He went to a service academy and straight into the army life. So up until he was about 28. All he knew was how to be a soldier. Yeah, we actually didn't know where he would be working, where in the world until the day before our lease was up in Killeen. So we had just been we got a storage unit in Austin, we really weren't focusing our job search on staying in Texas because we loved it. His family is scattered throughout the country minds focused in Cincinnati, Ohio. So we got a storage unit. We planned on just spending the rest of the summer with my family in Ohio. He finally found out Yes, I got this job. It's right here in Austin, Texas. So we went and spent a month with my family while all the job stuff and the house search came together. And then finally settled in Austin for a few years. It was really tough, trying to find where he fit in and what he wanted to do. He ended up starting grad school to get his MBA in 2020. It was part of our family pivot at the time, because the pandemic changed everything. I had him hold up the sign on the front porch with his backpack, you know, first day of school, what do you want to be when you grew up? And he was like, Well, I don't know why I already did it. All I ever wanted to be was a soldier. So the last few years have really been learning for us about where we want to be in life priorities for our family, what he actually wants to do and who he wants to do that with. And I think we finally found it. So now we have settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, hopefully in our forever home for a while. And I think we're finally getting to a place where you know, this is this is life.
Yeah. For any military spouse, kind of staring down the barrel at this pivot that's coming. Do you have any advice or encouragement that you would offer somebody who's about to go through the experience that you guys have been through the last few years,
Liz Sieger 8:09
our priorities were what is going to be best for our family? A big part of that was finding where's our village? If the worst happens if the job that you really finally decided you wanted, didn't come through? Do we have support. So with all of the great friends that we made through the army scattered around the country, we realized our village was centralized in Cincinnati. And that's where we needed to be to raise our family and to have the support that we needed. So look for the helpers.
I love that so much. That is so insightful. Now I know that before we hit record, you were talking about how you got into sketching sentiment. But because we hadn't hit record yet. Let's just chat about what was the main inspiration from going from the job that you had before you knew your husband to what you do now.
Liz Sieger 9:06
When we got married, like I said, I had to move from Dallas to Killeen, which if anyone has been near Fort Hood, you know, there's not a lot of fashion design jobs, a true army town. So I had decided I would go freelance as a freelance graphic designer. And I thought, I've always been a crafter. Why don't I just while I have a portfolio website, add an E commerce shop to that. And I thought a lot about what I would want to make. When my husband was deployed. Like I said, it was a great balance of I'm living in Dallas, I'm working my career. I'm still single, I can travel. I was going back to Fort Hood quite often to visit my army wife friends. And so because snail mail is just the best especially when you're deployed because it makes your day I was sending him mail all the time. I wanted to gather postcards from everywhere. I was Traveling, but I couldn't find a lot of really cool collectible modern postcards, especially for the army bases. Everything's from the 1960s. So I thought, why don't I make my own, I started drawing military bases. And I realized this is something that that we could collect. For each place we've been in each place, we're gonna go and hanging in our house. And it's a testimony to what we've been through, and how we've grown. So that really became the foundation for sketching sentiment, taking simple illustrations and turning them into sentimental gifts.
And your shop has also pivoted as has your life. And I'm gonna ask you about that later. But you mentioned something so important about turning just something so simple, just this drawing into something so sentimental. And I believe that that's truly the power of a gift, like a candle as a candle until it's gifted to you, and then it's something special. So why would someone gift either their customers if they are a product based company, or their clients, if they are a service based company,
Liz Sieger 11:12
there's a few reasons that I think we should all be gifting each other number one is to say thank you, whether a customer has purchased a product from your business, or a client has invested in you for a service like a graphic designer, or a web designer or photographer, you want to say thank you, I mean, they've invested funds that they've worked hard to earn into you, they believe in you. So that's number one is is just to say thank you. And number two is that of course, we want them to come back and use our services again, or buy our products. Again, we want to establish a relationship. So when you've been given something by someone, it endears the giver to you. You think of them and you think, wow, they really thought of me, they wanted to add something special to this. So you're going to remember them and you're going to want to come back for more. Lastly, we want them to share their experiences with their friends and family. Have you ever gotten a package that you've opened up in even just the packaging itself is so beautiful, you want to take a picture, everybody sharing everything online, right now, we want to create an experience and giving a gift can be part of that experience that they share and say to their friends or their family. This was such a positive experience for me, I want you to experience that too. Lastly, beyond that, we want them to know that we're supporting them, especially for service based businesses. I think that a lot of times we get caught up in our own business and wanting to spread the word about it and having good intentions for spreading the word about it by giving them a notepad with our logo on it, or a pen with our logo on it. But what we should really be celebrating is our client. So can you give your client a sticker of their logo or a pen with their logo on it, or something that relates to their experience celebrating the milestone of going full time in their business, or making their first sale? That just adds to the endearment for them.
I love that you mentioned the pens, because, you know, I had never thought about it before. But when I'm given a pen with like USAA is logo on it, for instance, and I'm not slamming USAA we love them. But when I get a pen of that I'm like, oh marketing, like that's my first instinct. It's not, oh, well, thank you for this pen, right? Because it doesn't have that sentimental value behind it. And when it's just their stuff, you can tell they just want you to use it in front of other people. And then maybe somebody else will see that logo and want to use their services. Like it's not, it's not a gift with the receiver in mind. And that's something that really resonated with me when you gave your presentation because, and I hadn't ever thought about it before. But in social media, we really want to put the receiver or the person reading our audience first. So you want to use words like you and yours. And you know us collectively we and the same I feel like it's kind of with gifting where you want to put the receiver the audience in mind instead of putting it it's not i It's not me, it's you. And I love that. So what makes a gift sentimental? And we've kind of touched upon this with the logo thing, but like, can we go a little bit deeper?
Liz Sieger 14:46
Sure. It's just those personal moments. When you're working closely with a client building their logo learning about their business. It's not just a transaction, you're talking to them about their values, their mission, who they They are in what they're celebrating as a business. So maybe there's a book that they mentioned that they wanted to read, you don't have to go over the top and get custom design 100 notebooks with this one person's logo on it and give them you know, the world, you could grab a book for them to read that was part of the mill soapbox gift at the MBO retreat that was wonderful was a book to read to continue our education, you may have bonded over a motivational quote, you could give them a sticker of that quote, or print of that quote, so that they can hang it in their office. And not only feel motivated, but then remember that you were the one who gave it to them. I think it's so easy to just go on to Vistaprint, you know, any of those basic websites, upload your logo and get a huge discount on 100 pens. But like you said, when you receive someone else's logo on a pen, it's, well, that's great, I can use it, and then I'll throw it away. It doesn't mean anything to me. So finding those, you know, sentimental moments, those personal touches, really makes a gift, something that someone's going to want to keep.
Absolutely, there was a gift that you gave to all of the Mao retreaters afterwards. And it was in reference to a game that we played the whole retreat, which we loved. And so you actually created this sticker and sent it to all of us. And so I'm bringing this up, because first of all, I loved it because I knew what it meant and somebody else looking at this little narwhal not know, you know, they just wouldn't get it, they wouldn't know why it says special but us for did because we all experience the same thing. And I think bringing in those experiences, you've mentioned the word experience a few times, but I just want to reiterate that bringing in those experiences can be so huge, because the vast majority of reviews, if you go to Etsy, if you go to any review platform, Yelp 96% of all reviews are actually about the experience, not the actual item, you go to Yelp and it's not about the meal, like Yeah, the food was great, but you're given two stars, because the staff was rude or whatever. You go to Etsy, and it's like, man, you know what, my, my order got lost in the mail, but they were so good about it and send it to me. Like it's about the experience. And I think that that's so valuable to keep in mind. So what are some examples of some pretty basic, as far as you know, not a whole lot financially thrown out there. But like, what are some basic gifts that people might want to start with, if they've never done gifting before, they've got a tighter budget, because they're new to this. And they're like, I don't know what to gift. What would be some examples of that.
Liz Sieger 18:02
I like to focus on things that are both functional and beautiful. So something like a pen, even though we've talked about it and maybe more of a negative way. Something like a pen could be great. Something like a sticker, you know, you can put it on your notebook, you can put it on your computer, your water bottle, some people are weird about stickers, I have one, the narwhal sticker is stuck with a magnet onto my whiteboard, because I can't commit to one location for it. A journal would be great and art print that someone's can hang up or again, tuck into their journal or move around a water bottle itself. It kind of depends on your budget, maybe think about setting up some tears for pricing. But think about things that are functional, you don't have to go order 1000 of something. I think there are so many small businesses now getting into wholesale like myself, that can do smaller batch orders. So if there's one quote that you love, and you live by and you maybe you share that quote with your clients, while you're working through a problem and say, This really helps me, then go ahead and make a sticker or a magnet of that quote, it may not have come from them. It may have come from you. But it's still something personal that you've bonded over. That's not a huge investment.
I love that. So let's chat real quick about the pivot that your business went through. And that'll lead perfectly into how people can connect with you. So you started out by making bass prints but looking at your website, there's a lot more there. So do you want to talk about what that experience was like for you pivoting and how you found your true presence and your true influence through your company?
Liz Sieger 19:50
Sure, I've mentioned before that I like to focus on things that are functional, and most of my products well, not most all of my products Some are created through trying to solve a problem in my own life. So when I found out that I was pregnant with a little boy in 2019, after being one of three girls growing up, and my first child being a girl, I thought, yay. Now what the heck am I going to do with a boy. So, I was looking at all these antique GI Joes that my family members were offering me and thinking, those are not baby friendly. I started creating the plush daddy dolls, Catholic saint dolls and things just kept evolving. I got into baby swaddles with meaningful inspiration from Christianity that I wanted to wrap my babies in. And remember, you know, why I'm doing what I'm doing. And art prints and home decor that reminds me to stop and pray throughout the day. So all of these things were kind of created through my own need for them. And I thought, if I'm going through this, another mom or another woman is probably going through this themselves and needs to slow down, remember to pray, remember, to make their home a place of peace, and happiness. So really, I've been trying to hone in on my mission as a Christian and welcoming prayer into our daily lives.
And I know that you recently got some really positive customer feedback that your products were also allowing them to lean further into their faith. And I think that just goes to show that when you lean into your calling, when you lean into the influence that you are meant to lean into that good things come. And so knowing that even as a product based service, I feel like a lot of times a lot of my product based clients are like, you know, well, I don't really have an influence, I don't have an impact. You know, trying to create a mission statement for a product based company can be very challenging, but you are making an impact, and you are making a difference in your customers lives and in what they do day to day. And I think understanding that is huge. Do you have any advice for another product based business who's like, Man, I feel so left out like these service based businesses have it made? And I feel so lost? Sometimes.
Liz Sieger 22:21
It's hard, just focus on your mission? How are your products going to help somebody or add to their life? It's really scary, especially when you've started doing one thing and you want to get into another I started with military products. And now I'm getting into Christian and Catholic products. And we talked about it a lot during the annual retreat. And thank goodness, you and everyone else were supportive, like no, you're you're good at this, you can do this. And just been afraid of what if my core audience of everyone you know, who was following me when I started these military pieces, doesn't like what I have to say, well, this is where I'm being drawn. So be confident in, you know where your work is taking you and just go for it. setting aside time for myself to pause and reflect and focus on my mission each week. And what I want to be telling people and how I want them to be involved with my product has been a game changer.
I love that. Where can people connect with you if they want to learn more about you if they want to purchase from you or if they just want to hang out where you're hanging out.
Liz Sieger 23:38
I sell on spouse Li and Etsy as sketch and sentiment. I'm also on Instagram, sketch and sentiment with an spelled out. And my website is sketch and sentiment.com.
Perfect. And we're going to have all those links in the show notes. So anybody can just go to the show notes, and click on you there. Now in season three, I'm really leaning into the message that as entrepreneurs, no matter what stage or what year of entrepreneurship you're at, we're constantly learning and constantly developing. So what is one thing personal or business that you're learning right now?
Liz Sieger 24:15
I gotta tell you, I don't know if I can narrow it down to one. I feel like 2022 my word of the year was refine. And so far, it's so true. A lot of different moving pieces for this business and my personal life are coming together. So the thing that I'm learning most I think is to slow down. I don't have to get the new design done and posted and posted on Instagram and listed on the website and sold today. I need to slow down I want to refine my website. I want to refine like I mentioned my own schedule and taking time to slow down. Reflect to think about what I want to be telling people each week through my social media post to think about each product that I designed, keeping it purposeful, functional, and beautiful. And something that inspires people in their day to day lives. That's a lot of things, but summed up by learning to slow down, soak it all in, do business the right way, I want to set up my website, I want to plan out my social media content, and just get this, all these moving pieces under control and on schedule.
And I think there's beauty in the refinement that comes with slowing down, right, if we're just rushing, it's not usually our best work. And so when we can slow down, take the time to you know what, I'm gonna walk away from this and come back tomorrow and look at it again, with fresh eyes, I feel like there's so much more meaning that we can pack into it, when that happens. And it's just that refinement, that really just like filtering it through again, and again and again. And just opening the doors for that creativity to come for that message to come through I think is huge. So I love that that's something that you're learning. I think a lot of us are learning that I know I still am. And I'm not that good at slowing down. I've been reading recently, and just having to sit down and pause and not look at anything except a page in a book for 15 minutes a day is really hard for me, it is slowing down that much is hard. So that's something that I'm learning and and I love that you're learning it too, I feel less alone.
Liz Sieger 26:37
My business has always been a creative outlet for me. And something that was for myself. But I've realized through refining my message and wanting these products to really give to other people that I have to take care of myself to, especially after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. That is not for myself, that is something that I'm doing entirely for my clients. So I have to put it in my planner that I'm going to take a bath on this day, I have to put it in my planner that 15 minutes every evening is set aside for personal development and reading. Because I can't pour from an empty cup, I have to be able to pour into myself to continue giving to my clients.
I love that so much. Now, how are you embracing being an M E L?
Liz Sieger 27:32
A big thing for me is just introducing myself as my name is Liz, I'm the CEO and founder of my own business. I was at a Bernie meeting my husband's boss and his coworkers a couple months ago, they asked what I did for a living and I said I stay home with the kids. And I didn't mention my business at all. And the rest of the night was like I am a freak. Why did I double life? I'm not ashamed of my business. Why didn't I want to talk about it? And I think it's just that a lot of people here. I have my own small business as Oh, cute. She has a hobby. So leaning into the MBO for me is saying, I am the CEO and founder of a thriving, growing business.
I love that it's almost like removing the word small. And actually taking yourself seriously and being like, you know what, this is it and you can judge me if you want, but this is where I'm coming from, and this is who I am. And I've truly feel like you know, you hear like, my first instinct is like thinking about movies, right? And you hear movies, all these people. They're not saying, oh, you know, I've got this like little thing like, oh, that's nothing. You know, they're like, Yeah, I'm a business owner. Like this is my business. And so I'm thinking of like, Hallmark movies, but apply. I think when you take yourself seriously, other people are going to take you seriously too. That's beautiful. Well, Liz, I just want to say thank you so much, because this conversation was sentimental to me because we got to reflect on past experiences together. But also because these types of conversations are the types of conversations I want to be having. I want to be talking to the new or newer business owner who's looking for that next step. Like what is it? And I truly feel like you brought out the next step for a lot of both service but also customer based businesses through through gifting. So thank you so much for this conversation. I really appreciate it.
Liz Sieger 29:42
It's always a pleasure hanging out with you