how to establish partnerships

I have a fear of asking for help--whether it be for tasks or financial or just some encouragement. It's hard! 

But we all need help. That's just the way it goes.

We can't do life alone (nor were we intended to).

The best way to explain how to establish partnerships is to tell you the stories of how Belong came to partner with Mixbook, Alaska Air, Evy's Tree, The Contract Shop, and The Magic of Motherhood for ISSUE 08. 

mixbook /

I first encountered Mixbook at AltSummit. Mixbook had a well-decorated booth at the summit showcasing paper products in addition to photo products--both of which piqued my interest. I didn't stop my first time by because I'd never heard of Mixbook and well.... I just didn't (introvert anyone?). 

When I saw that they were hosting various bloggers at their booth to do demos and share their collaborations, I was "in". The mocktail calendar (above) by blogger Jeran at Oleander and Palm was so well done and made me wonder why more bloggers and creatives were talking about Mixbook

That's when Raffi of Mixbook (one of the few males in a mass of females at the summit) and I started our chat. Together, we wanted to show bloggers and female entrepreneurs the opportunities available to them by collaborating with Mixbook which is what we hope we did by showcasing five talented women they've worked with and their collaborations. 

You can find this piece in ISSUE 08 featuring Oleander + Palm, Amy Tangerine, Francois et Moi, Design Improvised and Going Home to Roost.

From canvases to cookbooks, cards to calendars, Mixbook offers creatives a place for their work to shine.

But wait! It doesn't end there...

issue 08.jpg

I am always looking for creative ways to add more value for our partners, and way for you to see Mixbook at work in real life seemed like a great opportunity to do just that. Raffi and I worked together to create a print (card) with a hand-lettered design by Amy Tangerine (see photo above) that was created just for Belong to gift to our subscribers and online orders. And it turned out amazing--plus, it has all of MIxbook's info on the back so that you know who to contact when you're ready. 

(If you haven't already, we've still got a few of those cards left to include with ISSUE 08 orders placed on our website HERE.)

You can also read the blog post that Raffi shared on our blog HERE.

Photo by David Sowers / @dasophoto

Photo by David Sowers / @dasophoto

evy's tree /

My sister-in-law has been collecting these cute sweatshirts for years. She had been telling me about them repeatedly and encouraged me to reach out to the company as she thought that it would be a "good fit" for Belong. I'm not a big sweatshirt girl, so I just listened and nodded my head.

At Create & Cultivate ATL in the fall of 2016, I got in the backseat of a rental car and was introduced to Amy of Evy's Tree who was driving us all to Starbucks--clearly she had a problem just like me (wink wink). After spilling coffee on myself twice that morning, I put it all together and realized that this woman was the founder of the sweatshirt company my sister-in-law had been raving about forever (or what seemed like forever). 

Over the course of the day (and it's a long day), I got to talk a bit with Amy and Vanessa from Evy's Tree--not just business, but life--real life. The ups and downs and even further downs and how our faith affects our businesses. That time was such a blessing to me.

I even went home and bought a sweatshirt! (the style pictured above is my favorite--the Anne Marie)

I kept in touch with Vanessa (who handles some of the marketing side of things for Evy's Tree) and we came to a point when it made sense to them on the pages of the magazine, to share Amy's story and to share their great pieces which are ideal for so many entrepreneurs who work from home--be in your sweats and still look adorable!

But most importantly, I wanted you to meet Amy Miraflor, the owner and woman behind all that has become Evy's Tree. She is grounded, honest and has a heart to serve the women she creates for and those that work for her.

If you don't know her, you're really missing out. Find the Evy's Tree feature in ISSUE 08 and read about a routine day for Amy in a blog post HERE.

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alaska air /

Though I never met the marketing team from Alaska Air that was at the AltSummit in Palm Springs, I knew the moment we got a box from them that had SugarFina champagne gummy bears inside, it was meant to be. (Have you had them? They are unreal!)

Obviously, it's not that simple. Since I didn't have a chance to physically chat with the team, I reached out after the summit via email with some ideas to partner together.

A partnership with an airline that works with bloggers seemed magical!

And they don't just fly around in Alaska, silly! They fly all over the US, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba. 

Though it didn't look like it was going to work out, I was pleasantly surprised when I was offered the opportunity to put in a proposal for a print ad placement which was accepted. Alaska Air is experiencing rapid growth which is allowing them opportunities to partner with bloggers and social media mavens to showcase all they have to offer. Win win! 

And that is how it came to be that we partnered with Alaska Air and why they appear on the back cover of ISSUE 08.

And that is also why we hope that you'll consider them when you're booking your next adventure OR when you are have an idea you want to pitch that involves travel. 


The Magic of Motherhood book /

I have to be honest, I don't really remember how I came to work with HarperCollins/Zondervan, but Belong has partnered with them on several books--books written by female bloggers primarily. 

When I was approached with the opportunity to partner in promoting The Magic of Motherhood book, there were two things that immediately appealed to me:

  1. The Magic of Motherhood is not a schmaltzy book about how becoming a mom is the most beautiful moment in one will ever experience or tips on how to get your baby to sleep through the night. It is a book collaboratively written by mothers who were willing to be real. That was not something I encountered personally when I was a new mom, and it was very discouraging to me. This book could be an encouragement to other women just like me.
  2. The author of the book (or main author, I suppose), Ashlee Gadd, was first and foremost a blogger (of the blog Coffee + Crumbs) which is something that I think is appealing to the Belong readership--turning a blog into a book really is doable. 

In addition to these two things, I learned that Ashlee was also willing to share the story behind the book with our readers--a story of how a collaborative blog turned into friendships.

It is an encouragement to those of us who spend our time connecting online--it really is possible to have friends through those connections.

You can find this story of a how a collaborative blog turned into collaborative friendships by Ashlee in ISSUE 08.

I purchased the book myself and can attest to its authenticity. If you're a mom, you should check it out too. You can get it here.

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the contract shop / 

After having a large legal issue that created so much anxiety I almost quit Belong, I have been very diligent about the legal aspects of my business. Contracts and copyright are a big deal in my biz, but so hard to navigate on my own.

When Christina Scalera reached out about her new venture, The Contract Shop, I knew it was an ideal fit.

But this wasn't the first time that I had spoken with Christina. I first saw her on a Rising Tide Society webinar. Last year, she and her co-host Reina Pomeroy interviewed me for their podcast, The Creative Empire. Christina has written for Belong Magazine on a couple of occasions as well as on the Belong blog. Needless to say, we'd crossed virtual paths many times.

Knowing Christina and her expertise and knowing that many creative entrepreneurs do not have the legal structures in place that they need, partnering with The Contract Shop was a no brainer. 

Whether you're a photographer, graphic designer, florist, independent contractor--there is a contract for you in the shop.

But there's also so much more--such as terms and conditions that are necessary for every website (do you have them on yours?). The Contract Shop is such a great resource. Check it out--you'll be benefiting your business as well as supporting another entrepreneur. Once again: win win!

how to establish partnerships /

All of that is a lead into how to establish partnerships. From my experience, this is what I've learned:


Networking is key. Meeting people face-to-face makes a big difference. If you're able to attend conferences, those are ideal. And there are so many good ones for female creatives and entrepreneurs (see this post I wrote about my 13 favorites here).


Partnerships are about more than making money but about forming a relationship. Relationships take time to establish and develop. And if you haven't had the opportunity to meet a company face-to-face, it may take longer. 


You have to ask. This is the hardest part for me. It can be awkward and stressful. But you don't get what you don't ask for. (I talk about "the big ask" in this blog post.)


Be patient. You may have to wait and ask again. That's ok. Sometimes the time is just right, so don't give up. 


Execute a contract so that both parties are on the same page. (Perhaps The Contract Shop has the contract that you need?)

SIX / 

Follow-up to thank your partner for their support and collaboration--send them a small gift, a handwritten note, etc... We all want to be acknowledged and appreciated. It simple but thoughtful thank you can go a long way.

So there you have it! My two cents and then some. I'd love to hear how about your favorite partnerships, how you established them and why they were so successful to you! Please share in the comments!

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