The Big Reveal – We’re Starting a New Company

Author: Kissa  :  Category: business, Career

I’ve been bursting with excitement the past month. In July, Charlie and I made some big changes that we’re going to officially launch in November after the wedding. Because of this huge change in our lives, it has forced us to really think about our future TOGETHER (which makes me so happy!). Yes, we’re excited for the wedding but we’re even more excited about what lies ahead for us.

In 2005, I started my event planning business: Daydreamer Events. We specialized in the planning and execution of social events, mainly weddings. In 2007, Charlie and I formed Inked Print & Graphics with the goal of creating a graphic design agency for small businesses. While DE was my focus and Inked was his, we saw ourselves crossing paths and sharing business responsibilities for both businesses. After attending MTH in November of 2010 it dawned on me, we should combine the businesses!

While this might not be a clear connection for some, it was clearly the right move for us. Both being in the creative field, Charlie and I came from FIDM with Graphic Design degrees (hence our Inked company). During college I held 2 jobs in the wedding industry which introduced me to my love for the business (which led to my creation of DE). Throughout the 4-6 years we were in business something just felt “off.” I knew that we had jumped into our businesses very quickly with no clear plan when we started. We were a very typical start up, one with lack of planning. As time went on and I learned more, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the way to go about a business. I then tried to set up a business plan for both businesses while trying to tackle our clientele but it still wasn’t working. I was finding that there were things that were already in motion that I later discovered I didn’t want to pursue.

During this time, I realized that I wanted to start fresh. I realized that I wanted to pursue something creative, both in the wedding and graphic design industries. I loved creating concepts for events and executing them. Showcasing the personality of each client through art, functionality, and aesthetic. Weddings should be about the couple, and I knew the goal of my company was to showcase just that. Every wedding we did from then on had 1 theme and objective – to showcase the couple through design. That’s when it hit me, branding and graphic design has the exact same objective as events. Our goal is to showcase the personality of the owners and what the company stands for through design. It was like a lightbulb that went off in my head!

Charlie came up with the name: Charlie Ortega and Carissa Ortega: Creative Cartel (CO: Creative Cartel). We decided to have 2 branches of this company, one for branding and graphic design and the other for event styling. We’ll be offering logo design services, marketing collateral design and printing, business card design and printing, web and blog design, among other things. The event styling company will be specializing in custom pieces. We’ll be offering comprehensive design services on-site as well as create custom lines that people can order from online. Our online shop will consist of different products with a design concept that people can purchase and give to their designer. Vases, cake toppers, hanging decor, wall decor, etc.

So when, do you ask, will all this be available? We’re planning on our official launch on Nov. 8, 2011. We’ll have our website up and ready to view. Soon after, our blog and online store will be available as well. We have a lot of fun things in store for people to be able to access online. And slowly, we’ll be revealing little by little prior to the launch what we’ll be up to. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates!


My Thoughts on Paper – A Written Journal of my Personal Fears and Triumphs

Author: Kissa  :  Category: Personal

Source: Personal Photo

There’s still something to be said about hand-writing something. A card, a journal, a letter…There’s just so much of your personal self that goes into it. The way your handwriting shows emotion is fascinating to me. Where you press harder and lighter with your pen, the way you cross your t’s and dot your i’s…it’s art in itself.


Through the years I’ve tried to keep a journal of my personal thoughts, favorite quotes, etc. It helped me to not just clear my thoughts, but also to get things off my chest that I felt no one in the world could understand. It gave me a sense of freedom, honesty, and security. It’s not that I have deep dark secrets, I’m actually a pretty open book. It’s more of having the fear of telling people about my fears, insecurities, and vulnerability. Writing it down makes it seem more real and concrete. Once it’s down on paper it’s as if I admit that it’s true and it helps me to accept it, talk to others about it, and grow/make it better.

Since the beginning of this year, I was lucky enough to find my writing style: a little prayer at the top and then what I call “buzz words” down at the bottom. This allows me to talk freely, let my hand move, and see what happens. It has helped me gain so much clarity and it has helped me to realize that there is a safe place for me to be personal. But what’s even better is after it’s written down, I’m not scared of it any more.



The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Author: Kissa  :  Category: Personal

Things have been pretty wonderful lately, and I am so grateful. Wedding plans are coming along nicely, lots to do, but that’s expected. Honeymoon plans have begun, shopping for airfare now and can’t wait for the sweet moment when we land on that beautiful island. I’m beginning to find balance in my career and personal life. Though I’m still building, setting a good foundation for success, and working through the details, I am beginning to find peace amidst all the “distractions” and “negativity” that come around here and there. Do I choose to let the negativity get to me? No. Do I choose to dwell on a situation I can’t control? Not anymore. I just let all the sadness out and cry to myself (or to Charlie) for a bit and let it go. Why? Because thanks to God I can see the world in a brighter light. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But it sure is peaceful up here. :)

So why am I writing this personal post? Once again, it’s to hold me accountable. I’m not willing to go back to where I used to be or be who I used to be. I don’t want to go back to uncertainty, feeling lost, overwhelmed, and all those things that put knots (bad knots) in my stomach. I don’t want to be chasing something knowing that in my gut, I should be focusing on something else. And I have to admit, the past years of my life have been just that. But I’m going to stop, and start chasing what I really want out of life. So here you go, internet, this is what I need you to hold me accountable for:

1. Learn to say no. Simple and clear.
2. Filtering out the negativity in my life – people and things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for everything I’ve experienced and everyone that I’ve met, it has brought me to this very moment (In fact, sometimes thinking about the series of events that lead you up to the present is a fascinating topic for me. But that’s another post all in itself.). But things change, people change, the world turns, and I have to move on. Not for spite, to burn a bridge, or to forget – no. But because I want to experience continued positivity, challenge, and happiness. The people and things I want around me are the people and things that are going to make me better. Challenge me to learn more, inspire me so I can inspire others, make me want to be a better person so I can give more…those are the things I want in my life.
3. Believe in myself. I have the hardest time accepting who I am now. So much so that I seek assurance and acceptance from others. While that’s called for some times I know that I need to make my own decisions for myself and if it sits right with me then I should at least try. I always wish I was doing something else, but really, how is that a way to live? Today, I will build the blocks to be happy with what I have and who I am now while trying to better myself and achieve my goals for the future.

Ok, let’s leave it at that for now. The last thing I want is to overwhelm myself. Ok, I have to admit. I’m a little nervous to share this post, but I have to. I know it’ll be for the best. So here we go, Internet. Who wants to help me stay accountable for these things? :)


A New Roof – The Intro to my Goals as a Woman, Entrepreneur, and Future Wife

Author: Kissa  :  Category: business

Well hello, Internet! Long time no see. Forgive me, everyone, it’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged and read blogs. But I promise it’s for a good reason. :)

The countdown continues! Charlie and I are getting married in 4 months. Check out our wedding blog here. Since the beginning of June, we’ve turned the dial on Wedding Mode onto HIGH. Decoration projects, payments, more deposits, more vendors, more guests…more More MORE! Honestly, Charlie and I just can’t wait to be married. We’ve been waiting for this day to come for a long time so we are more than excited for this day to come already. If I could forgo all this planning, I would! (Ironic, I know)

I truly feel that this wedding will mark the day of an extreme change in the both our lives, personally and professionally. I know most of my posts on here have been pretty casual and personal lately, but I assure you that the working wheels in my brain are still turning. Business is what I love, business is what I do..and no matter how many personal things I have going on business will always be a passion of mine. That being said, I think I’ve come to learn a thing or 2 about where I want to take my career from here…

1. My personal and professional life are forever intertwined. It’s not a “job” if you love what you do.
2. I’m passionate about art, design, and creativity – especially when it comes to weddings.
3. I’m passionate about helping people.
4. I love evoking emotions through sight.

Though I’m not ready to reveal what’s going to happen, all those things above are going to be incorporated under a whole new roof. Oct. 8, 2011 is going to mean even more than it has before. It’s going to be such a life changing day and the closer the day comes the more excited I am for what’s going to happen after it.

God has truly blessed me. He’s given me this time to really reflect on my goals as a woman, entrepreneur, and my future goals as a wife. He’s slowly revealing what I know is my destiny and my life’s purpose. As Oct. 8 begins a new life for Charlie and I, it also begins a life full of love, happiness, success, and passion.


Patience is my Biggest Struggle

Author: Kissa  :  Category: advice, Personal

Well hello, Internet. It’s been a while. Let’s cut to the chase, I don’t really feel much like beating around the bush.

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been going through a personal journey. At times things were good, at times they were a struggle. At times I felt like I found “IT” and then at other times I felt lost. This personal journey has effected every aspect of my life. Personally (of course), professionally, and spiritually. So, why am I saying this? What makes this post different from every other post I’ve written since they’ve all been about struggle, balance, busy work, personal triumph…

Today I realized 2 things - something life changing. 1: Patience is my biggest struggle. It’s something I don’t have, but something I need. I can’t have all the answers right now, it doesn’t work that way. I understand that now. And before today, I demanded those answers. I needed those answers. But now, I see that I don’t. Those answers will reveal themselves to me when it’s the right time. And until then, I will pray for those answers and try to continue to remind myself that patience truly is a virtue.

2: I realized that this journey I am on will never end. And now I’m okay with that. There may be victories and defeats throughout the  journey, but it’s going to continue. The puzzle will only continue to grow bigger with more pieces to add to the final product. And before today, I thought that once I reached the short and long term goals I set for myself then this journey for me will end. Why? Because then I’ve arrived. But no. It isn’t going to end. It isn’t going to end because I know when I get there, I’m going to push for more. I not going to settle for my goals because I know God knows where I am supposed to end up. The goals that I set for myself are only within the hopes and dreams I am capable of understanding. But He knows more, He knows all. And He is what I want to live for. Because He will help me become what I was meant to be, and help me to discover my full potential.

So what are my hopes in sharing this on my blog today? I hope that others will also realize this for themselves. Those that struggle as I do with anything in their life, I hope this helps them some how. And for those that do, don’t be afraid. We’re not alone, we’re in it together. And though our struggles may be different, we all struggle together. Your journey makes you unique, as does mine. And I hope that you find that special instead of a burden.


Redefining my Businesses

Author: Kissa  :  Category: business

When I started Inked and Daydreamer Events, I had no idea where I would end up. I was a young girl with a dream of being a business owner. Thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of both my parents, it was inevitable. I was going to own my own business. Let’s just back track a little bit in time…

Honestly, I didn’t want to own my own business. I remember telling my mom and dad when I was younger, “I don’t want to have to work on the weekends!” All the way up until my last year of college, I was sure that a 9-5 job was my destiny. Until one day, I can’t even remember what led me to this decision, I decided to start a wedding planning business. 2 years later, Charlie and I opened up our partnership – Inked.

Though there were (and are) times that I wonder if it was the right decision to be a business owner rather than working a regular job, I always find passion in my businesses. I was on the verge of closing them down many times, but something just kept me from doing so. Today, I’m so glad that I chose not to.

My business has evolved through the years. Being a newbie at starting a business allowed for me to start with a completely blank slate…COMPLETELY blank. I let people guide me to where I thought I wanted my business to be, which was good and bad. It helped me to really dip my feet into different aspects of my business which led me to really refine my plans. Plans that speak more of what I want to accomplish…not just in business but in life. I have finally let go of all the expectations of others and have now stepped into a door where I have a clear picture of what I want to accomplish, not what is expected of me.

For those that might feel they are in the same place – wanting to redefine your business to be a clear description of you.

1. I sat down and wrote all the good and bad since I started the businesses.
This is harder than it looks. I had to be really honest with myself. Writing down the good was the easy part. Writing down the bad, now that was tough. I had to be open to the fact that there were mistakes, there was failure, there was a learning curve. When I wrote them down, it made it real. But after reading it, it was kind of like a sigh of relief. Knowing that I’m not perfect and I don’t ever have to be, knowing that I did experience it and it has helped me to become the person I am today, knowing that if I share it with others like me I can help someone.

2. After I let that sink in for a day or so, I started to evaluate my life (personally and professionally) to figure out what I REALLY want out of all this.
This isn’t just short term, but for the long run. Where do I want to be next year, in 3 years, in 5 and 10 years? Thinking about this in a personal and professional stand point instead of just one or the other helped me gain real perspective on my life. Sometimes my goals personally didn’t match with my business goals and vice versa. This led to making decisions I didn’t (and don’t) want to make, but I know it’s for the best. And that gave me the strength. This is an ongoing task that everyone should always continue to work on. Sometimes there are changes in life that will give you the need to reevaluate and update as you go. This is a great thing!

3. Now this is the hardest part of all. Putting all my lists into ACTION!
It’s one thing to write all about what you WANT to do, but it’s another thing to actually DO it. We can all talk about the great ideas we have, the plans we are making, our hopes, and our dreams. But until we actually work (work hard) at it…that’s exactly what it is: TALK.

So much has changed in the span of 5 months. Things will continue to evolve and I am so grateful for everything that has happened, good and bad, so far. Without these things happening, I wouldn’t have built the character, personality, morale, faith, and want that I possess today.



Weigh in for March – dun Dun DUN!!!!

Author: Kissa  :  Category: Personal

Here we go again. Another month has gone by and I don’t feel confident about my weigh in. I always have this pre-conceived vision in my head about what I’m expecting and that always leads to a let down. But anyway, more on that later in the post. Here it goes….

There was no change. :( NONE. I am so disappointed in myself.

BUT, I can’t keep feeling sorry for myself. I only have myself to blame for this. So, I’m going to pick up the pieces and move forward. This is a learning curve right? What I know is, I stopped calorie counting. That needs to start again. I need to increase my workouts. Though I said I would go 3 times a week last month, I didn’t. So this month, it’s going to happen. It WILL happen. I have 6 more months until my wedding, so I have 6 more weigh in’s to go. I need to make them all count.


My Opinion on Websites

Author: Kissa  :  Category: advice, Career, Web Design

A lot has changed since I started coding websites. From what started as a hobby doing Geocities and Angelfire sites turned into an area of study and now a career. I am by no means an expert in all things web (which makes me want to brush up on different branches of web design)but I know what I like and don’t like. Working with small business owners, a lot of people are looking for a good central website that is an online representation of their business. But not just that anymore. They want websites to do much more now. They want it to generate traffic, bring in new customers, sell items, be a resource…they want it to shoot through a hoop of flames! And the best part is websites CAN do it. It’s absolutely amazing!

A lot of clients ask me what my take is with all the options out there for web. And my advice is simple – we need to figure out what you want to accomplish with your website. Do you want to have a blog? Do you want it to be interactive? Do you want it to be informational? Do you want to be able to edit the site yourself? Do you have time to stay up to date? Do you want to sell items on your site?

As a web designer here are my takes on the most common types of websites:

Exhibit A: Flash. I needed to put this first and say that I. DON’T. LIKE. FLASH. Yes, I know, hate me now. But I just think that a site made only on flash is hindering to any business’s internet potential for 1 simple reason: it is HORRIBLE for SEO. I think flash is great to implement on a regular site but otherwise, it’s just not logical for business. Flash sites are image based, search engines can’t pick up key words from images. They can be beautiful for personal sites, but if you’re trying to promote something or you want to have unique visitors come to your site, I just don’t recommend it because it’ll be harder for them to find you.

Ok, enough with the rant. :) Let’s move on.

Exhibit B: HTML. Geez, it has grown so much since I started working with websites. From tables to CSS to DHTML to XHTML to Java to PHP to HTML5…. It’s actually growing much faster than many can keep up with, including me. But, needless to say, the possibilities are practically endless. The great thing, in my opinion, is that HTML is the most basic form of language on the web. Why is this great? Because whatever your preference from the options of coding from above, it all starts with this language and grows from there. It’s like a tree with branches. As technology soars and more and more innovation is created with web-based development there is so much to choose from. Ok, so the main question probably is, “So what does this have to do with my business?”

As I said at the top of the post, it all comes down to 1 thing: what do you want to accomplish with your online presence? Simple. As. That. Based on the wants and needs of your company, your web designer should know what best suits your budget, time constraint, and goals.

A huge trend that I am seeing now in small business is many people wanting to edit their own sites after someone makes the initial template for them and publish it. My suggestion for this: WordPress. WordPress sums it up into 3 letters for me, w-o-w. There is so much that can be done with this platform. But the best thing that clients find so appealing is that they can log in and edit content, pictures, etc. as they see fit. Many end users are now using WordPress for not only blogging but their main sites as well. They’re able to create pages, link to their social media, and share information in an easy way.

So, you might be asking, “What type of websites do you use?” I love the flexibility and ease that WordPress provides (PHP based). I use this for 2 of my sites, this blog and He Said She Wed. Though these are both blog based websites, I have used WordPress in integration of actual websites as well which worked out nicely. I also love to stick with what I know, CSS. These 2 platforms have proven well for me, while I throw in a little Java here and there. This can be seen implemented on both my Inked websites, and But I do know that being in this industry sticking with what I know is never good enough. So we’ll see where the industry takes me in the next few months and years. :)


‘It’s Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies’ – My Struggle with Balance

Author: Kissa  :  Category: Personal

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3:5,6″

These past few weeks have been…what’s the word – EVERYWHERE. I hate when I have to admit this, but I feel like I’ve been off balance, not in my zone, going through the motions…just NOT where I want to be. On the outside I feel like I’m put together, or at least I try to look like I am. But internally I feel like I’m ripping my hair out.

It’s been getting to me. I’ve been really hard on myself to get to work, but for some reason I just haven’t had the strength within me to get up off my butt and do it. At the end of the day, my dialogue goes something like this, “It’s 6 pm, and you haven’t done sh*t. What’s wrong with you? The more you put off the work, the more overwhelming it will be when you decide you need to catch up. You’re being lazy, you’re not being productive, you’re just digging yourself into a deep hole. Get up tomorrow and stop being so lazy!”

But today, I feel a slight turn of events. I went to visit the Making Things Happen Tumblr today and found a post by Gina that completely spoke to me. After reading her post, I know what I have to do. I have to re-write my inner voice. I have to let myself be me, in whatever way, so that I can in turn be productive. Me sitting at my desk and going through the motions while doing 1 task on my to-do list every 2-3 hours isn’t going to cut it. Especially if I’m going to be so hard on myself for “not doing enough.” So I decided, I need to change the way I think and work.

Yesterday I realized something very important about myself which is helping me push to be better today. My personality operates like a row of dominos. Each domino represents a facet of my life: family, friends, love life, work #1, work #2, etc. When all the dominoes are standing in a row and 1 is off balance even the slightest bit, all my dominoes crash. This is where my problem lies. When there’s one small slip up, my whole world comes crashing down.

Image Source

My work to change this starts today. Step 1, address the issue – CHECK. Step 2, evaluate each facet of my life and figure out where I stand with each one. Am I behind, am I actually doing pretty well, am I ready to push myself a little further in that area, etc. Step 3, create my action plan to find balance again. Step 4, pray for guidance and let God lead me where I am supposed to go.

Have you struggled with finding balance or putting too much pressure on yourself?


For Japan With Love

Author: Kissa  :  Category: Personal

From the moment I was introduced to the wedding industry, I knew I’d be hooked. I knew in my heart of hearts, this is where I belong. And today, I write about yet another reason why I love what I do – the people I work with and meet.

The wonderful ladies at Ever Ours and Utterly Engaged came together and started a fundraiser for those victimized by the earthquake in Japan called For Japan with Love. At this moment they have surpassed their goal and are still raising money! The efforts these ladies have made to spread the word about their fundraising and the response they received from the wedding community is beyond moving. Definitely heart warming to see people come together to help for the better good of others and not themselves.

On Friday, they are offering a Blogger’s Day of Silence to acknowledge the devastation happening on the other side of the world. If you have a blog and would like to participate, please contact them and let them know you will be and join us!

To those that would also like to make a donation, you can do so at or simply click on the image below.