I'm Kayla. A millennial obsessed with makeup, planner decorating, and board games. Working towards a more organized, simplified life one post at a time. #catlady




How I Decide What Goes into the Oh, Hello Box Every Month

The Oh, Hello Box is six months old! Putting together the box every month is one of my favorite things about my job. Sure there are a few boring parts like budgets to deal with, but it's mostly just a whole lot of fun.

When planning what goes into each of the boxes, I first look at current trends and any particular seasonal factors for each month. The summer is usually filled with grilling, travel, and lots of sun, so it makes sense to create boxes around those ideas rather than cuddling up with a nice book. I keep a running list of theme ideas in a notebook whenever something pops up in my head. So I look through that and decide on a theme before doing anything else.

Next is deciding on the budget and number of boxes for that month. We have a set budget for each box to guarantee we're making good enough margins for the box to be sustainable. Plus we want to make sure we have enough boxes for growing demand.

Now comes the fun part. Once I have the box theme in mind ( I get to run with it. I'll flip through countless promotional item catalogs my husband Alex keeps for his business. Of course there are a ton of items that would fall under the travel category, but I like thinking out of the box and seeing if I can incorporate items that don't necessarily fall into the category on their own. That's where designing comes in. I'm always on the lookout for practical items people will actually use rather than having stuff that'll just take up space. The great thing about the box is how shareable it is. If there happens to be something you just aren't crazy about, you can easily pass it along to a friend or wrap it up for a gift.

After my list of products has been roughly outlined, I start figuring out what I want on them. This is the point where the box really starts to take shape. A "meh" item can be turned into the most popular thing in the box if it has a really awesome quote or great design on it. I need to know what the items are before I start designing to make sure the designs make sense with each item and can work cohesively to the theme.

Honestly having a husband in the promotional products business makes assembling the box every month a complete breeze. I'm fortunate to have someone who is constantly up on the most popular items and coolest gadgets that we can share with all of you.

If you have any questions about what it's like to put a subscription box together every month, drop them in the comments!
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My Journey to Depression Medication

Let's be honest. I never thought I'd have the ovaries to write a post like this. Here I am just airing out all my personal laundry for the world to see. But you know what? It's important. It's so important to me that I allow myself to be vulnerable and share these usually kept secret things. Because we are all going through something in some shape or form. And we all could use a post saying that we aren't alone. My hope is that when I truly need it, I'll find a post like this one to help me through a tough time. So I hope this post can do that for you too.

I've talked a bit about my anxiety journey in videos before, but I haven't really unpacked the baggage that is my depression. Mostly because it took me a while to realize that's what I was. Depressed. I thought I couldn't possibly be. There's nothing "wrong" in my life. I'm in a happy marriage, have family and friends who love me, and have a rewarding job. And yet despite all the surface things, I still felt like shit. I slept a lot. I stopped caring about work. I didn't have the drive or interest to hang out with people. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and just...NOT. Yet despite all the signs, I couldn't possibly believe that I, Kayla Benda, was in fact, depressed.

I chalked most of my feelings up as symptoms of my anxiety. And sure some of them might have been, but most of them weren't. During this time I started taking medication for my anxiety when I started to feel a panic attack coming on. Still in denial about my depression, I went to a doctor's appointment to discuss how the anxiety medication and I were getting on. As I waited for the doctor, a nurse handed me a survey to fill out. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most days, how often do you feel hopeless? How frequently do you have trouble staying focused? How often do you feel worry that things will never get better?

Before I knew what was happening, I was in tears. This form literally described me to a tee and the flood gates opened. My doctor consoled me and suggested depression medication to see if that could curb some of these feelings. I left with a prescription I didn't expect to receive that day.

I started taking depression medication back in October and kept it between my husband and myself for months, not comfortable sharing with even my close knit family out of embarrassment. I felt like a failure for needing help to "feel better." But as the medication began to really kick in over the next few months and regulate the chemical levels in my brain, it became incredibly obvious how much I truly needed some help. 

So here I am almost eight months later and feeling like myself again. Now I know the medication route is not for everyone, but it's definitely for me. I'm hopefully that one day I may be able to ween off of the prescription, but in the meantime, I'm completely happy with the assistance. I'm also more than aware that you can't be "cured" of depression. It's something I'm sure I'll be living with and navigating my entire life. But there's comfort in knowing that there is a way to feel better. Whether it's therapy, medication, or a nice long hiatus to Sweden, there are things out there to help. 
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Why I'm Doing More Solo Travel This Year

Although 2018 felt packed with travel and conferences, 2019 is already shaping up to blow last year away. Before my trip to Las Vegas for Go Wild a few weeks ago, I hadn't traveled alone in years. The itch to push myself out of my comfort zone is real these days as I actively work towards challenging my anxiety and depression. It just seems like the next step to tackling apprehensions and looking fear in the face and saying, "Watch me do it anyway."

 My profession has opened up a bunch of opportunities to travel and teach workshops at planner events. It's definitely an unexpected side effect of my business, but I've completely embraced it with thankful and open arms. Who knew this introvert could get so much joy out of teaching workshops, but you don't know until you give it a go, right? Usually my husband Alex tags along with me, but his promotional business has been really taking off and giving him a lot of travel opportunities as well. So we're doing what any two-business couple has to, divide and conquer.

The Vegas trip although brief, showed me a lot about myself. I transferred flights, took my first Uber ride alone, and navigated hotel registration all on my own. I've always just relied on Alex's extroverted personality to handle things for me. But I did them. And you know what? I barely even broke a nervous sweat in the process.

So I want to do even more solo travel this year. Why? Just because I want to see if I can do it. It's so easy to fall into a routine of taking the easy way out and letting Alex do all the social interactions, but if Vegas taught me anything it's that I'm more than capable to do it on my own. And that's a pretty empowering feeling.

So if you're unsure about travelling alone, try to really figure out what you're so nervous about. Is it finding your gate at the airport? Is it navigating a ride from the airport to the hotel? Once you figure out what exactly you're worried about, then you can actively work to put things in place so you won't be anymore. Ask the front desk which gate you're supposed to be at. Schedule an Uber ride ahead of time or take a taxi from the taxi line. And don't let the fear of solo travel keep you from doing it. You'll be surprised at how smoothly it'll go.
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The Shift in the Sticker Shop Industry | My Predictions

Back in 2014, the planner sticker industry felt like the wild west. Shops were few and far between and every idea worked. I'm ashamed at some of the low quality items I sold thinking they were gems. Here we are five years later and it's definitely a different world. New shops pop up every day and there's been a noticeable shift in the sticker shop world that will continue to change in the next few years.

I predict that by the time 2020 rolls around, a lot of shops will start closing. Whether they just lost interest or aren't making the income they expected, a lot of shops are going to turn the metaphorical closed sign for good. The sticker world isn't an easy one. Competition is stiff and margins thin to the point that a good amount of people will likely throw in the towel rather than hang on. The competition will only get worse as box stores continue to try and get their share of the planner cash cow.

We've already started to see more established shops going after bigger fish like Michael's. The gap between smaller, start up shops and larger shops will continue to grow wider as time goes on. Even Oh, Hello has its eyes on bigger things than just making stickers. 

But amidst all the competition and closed shops, creativity is really going to shine. You can't stick with the norm and expect things to sell anymore. I cannot wait to see the amazing, creative products my fellow business owners come up with in the coming years. 

So yeah. The sticker world isn't what it used to be...but you know, what? Good. Planner addicts deserve amazing products to help make their lives more organized and colorful and tough competition will lead to just that. Oh, Hello doesn't plan on going anywhere anytime soon either.
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Go Wild Memory Journal Flip-Through + Tips and Tricks

It's alarming to think that it's already been a week since I came home from Las Vegas. My first Go Wild Conference could not have been more amazing (and of course I filmed the whole thing) and I wanted to document it better than I ever have before.

This is my first attempt at a memory book and I've learned a ton of tips and tricks in the process of putting this one together. I'll lay those on ya as we go through some of my favorite pages.

If you take any advice away from this post, it should be this. Bring adhesive with you. I LOVE this adhesive runner from Tombow because it makes everything super easy without making a huge mess. It made attaching room keys, postcards, and random odds and ends incredibly simple.

I also brought my Polaroid Zip along with me to print photos at the end of each day. I'm the type of person who forgets things easily, so I wanted to make sure I took the time to document each day to remember all the fun details.

A small pair of scissors also proved to be quite useful to cut washi and trim up photos. I didn't really have any sort of plan when I started this book either. I just put things down as I went along and I loved the freedom of just throwing things into it as I got them. No stress.

Sticker contact cards are the popular way of sharing Instagram names and contact info at planner events these days. I received quite a few within just the first few hours of the conference and I wanted to make sure I had a way to capture them all. I took a few stickers off of every sampler and put them on a couple of different collage pages. I love how it looks when it's finished and I feel like I'm not wasting stickers I may not use.

Anything I thought I could remotely use in the book, I snagged up. I took brochures at various hotels and maps from help desks. I didn't use many of them, but I am obsessed with this map of the strip and of course the little llama sticker to mark the conference location.

Our swag bags included a roll of conference washi tape so I disregarded my usual "meh" opinions of washi to create this dashboard on one of the pages. When in Rome right? Or in this case...Vegas...

I do a full flip through of my memory journal in this video if you want to get a better look at all the pages! Do you keep memory books? What are some of your tips and tricks?

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Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

It's the most wonderful time of the year for planner addicts. It's safe to say that it's a bigger deal than Christmas. The annual Erin Condren launch of new planners is just around the corner (May 8 my friends!) and I got an early peek at everything coming our way in just a few short days. If you want to see a side by side comparison with this year's current player, check out my video or head to the bottom of this post. 

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

This year's first big change is the pattern. Kaleidoscope?! Count me in. I haven't been this excited about a pattern well, ever. This one definitely ticks all the aesthetic boxes for me. EC has gone away from the zipper pockets and introduced a new planner box where you can store you planner. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the box for storage purposes, but I'll definitely be keeping it around as a gift box.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The planner pages have quite a few changes from previous additions and I have some serious mixed feelings. The goals page from the front of the planner is more or less unchanged, but there's a new quote and the addition of lines.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The monthly dashboard page is a completely new addition to this year's planner. And I must say, I'm not a fan. I know a TON of planner addicts will love this, but I miss older renditions that didn't have so much structure. I'll give it a go though and see if I'm just being a grandma about it and not welcoming change. 

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The monthly view also has me a bit "meh." I already miss the full color header and hate the tiny pattern strips. The new pattern is so gorgeous so why is it so tiny and unimportant on the monthly page? Plus there's a colored sidebar (shown in more detail in the video) that has me not thrilled.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The weekly view definitely makes up for a lot of what the monthly view lacks. Sure I don't currently use a weekly view, but this has me feeling the itch to go back. I love the date in the corner, the rounded edges, and the colored bottom boxes.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

I mean just look at that pastel goodness.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

Near the back of the planner is a new page that instantly gives me InkWell Press vibes. This page is unlike anything I've seen the EC team produce and I'm not quite sure what the point of it is. Goals? Tracking? I'm looking forward to seeing what other planner people have in mind for this one...

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

With the new planner comes a whole slew of new accessories to go along with it. There is a larger pack of markers (four of which are brand new), a new sticker book, and a new planny pack.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

There are new clip in bookmarks as well.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

But my favorite new launch has to be this gorgeous ballpoint pen. I'm a bit worried about the price of it (yet to be announced when I wrote this post), because it's such a gorgeous pen that I don't want to have to spend an arm and a leg each time I want a new one.

Overall I think this new launch is good, but it just doesn't blow me away. There are quite a few design choices that I'm just not a fan of, despite completely loving the new pattern. 

Be sure to check out the video if you want to see a side by side comparison to the current planner as well as all the accessories that are launching May 8th.

In celebration of the Erin Condren launch I'm giving away a bundle of new accessories! To enter, fill out the form below.

What do you think about the new planners? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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Easy Ways to Adopt a More Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle

I'm a self described modern day hippie and I could not be more proud of the title. Sure I still shower and maintain a sense of grooming, but I've been taking big steps toward a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. And honestly, it's been so easy to make the switch. One of the biggest hurtles to becoming more eco-friendly is the inconvenience, but these few steps make it way easy to reduce your footprint, save the turtles, and feel a lot better about yourself. 

I said goodbye to plastic straws first. I wrote about the experience in a post a few months after I started, but it's been over a year now of actively giving back straws through drive-thru windows and toting around metal straws with me. I estimate that I've reduced my straw usage of about 300 straws in one year. That's a lot of straws that won't be bothering the poor sea turtles.

Another easy switch is to take reusable bags to supermarkets. Sure you can bring back plastic bags to the store to recycle, but it's just so much easier not to get them in the first place. I keep a few in my car, a few in each of my bags, and some where I grab my keys. That way I always have a bag no matter when I decide to pop into the store.

If you're a frequent Starbucks groupie like I am, their reusable cups are a must. They'll give you $0.10 off your drink order when you use the cup, and the ones at the register cost only $2. Anything to reduce the guilt of hitting up the Starbucks drive-thru for the third time this week, right?

Now if you're really down to help the Earth, let's talk about composting. I recently got a Lifetime Compost Tumbler from Costco (this one is similar) and have started to make my own compost. This video I saw on Facebook made it look so easy that I finally took the plunge and purchased one. So far we've been putting in food scraps and collecting leaves. It feels so good to not throw away scraps from cooking. We still have quite a while until we have any compost, but it's been a fun process. Plus Starbucks sometimes has coffee grounds for free you can add to your compost or use in your garden.

It hasn't once felt inconvenient to bring a reusable bag or hand back a plastic straw I won't be using. I finally feel good about my involvement in helping the environment. It's so easy to think "it's too big of a problem for little old me to do anything." But with the environment that's just not true. There is so much we can do every day that you'll feel ridiculous waiting so long to start.
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Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

It's about time that planner turmoil struck again, right? One of my favorite parts about the planning experience is finding a new planner that shakes things up and makes me question my routine. Enter Clever Fox planners.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Clever Fox has a ton of different planner styles and covers to choose from. I'm showing you the PRO Weekly in Maroon*, but each style comes with a variety of soft-cover options. Plus it comes with stickers...what's not to love?

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

There's a whole flip through of the planner in today's video, but let's cover some of the highlights. This 12-month planner is undated so you can start, stop, and resume to your heart's content. All of the monthly views are grouped together at the front of the planner with the weeklies in the back.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Each month has a review section filled with reflective questions and this amazing little pie chart. I love this to visually see exactly where I'm spending most of my time and what sections I could improve on.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

The weekly view is filled with prompts, goal setting, and opportunities for self improvement. The PRO does a fantastic job at guiding thought processes and looking at life/work balance in ways work-a-holics like me desperately need.

I mentioned the awesome sheets of stickers, right?

Be sure to check out the video for a full flip-through of the planner. It's a fantastic planner for people with a somewhat consistent schedule that want to focus on goal planning and work/life balance. It's a super simple and functional layout that needs color and stickers to liven it up, but that's part of the fun of planning. It's at a solid price point and available on Amazon too so you don't have to wait long to grab yourself one.
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Friendships in My 20s | Three Types

It's no secret that making friends as an adult is hard. You're no longer surrounded by the same people every day in class, and if you work from home, it's even harder to meet people. At the start of my 20s, I had friends few and far between. I felt lonely, unlikable, and just plain down on myself (I'm sure un-diagnosed depression didn't help either...) I actively had to start seeking out friends in the planner community, in my neighborhood, and beyond. Keeping in touch became more important than ever. It's taken a few years, but I've learned that not all friendships are going to be the same. As I get deeper into my 20s three types of friendship types seem to keep popping up.

The old school BFF. This is the friend that's been around pre-puberty and holds all your most embarrassing secrets. The type of friend who you've known since childhood and still keep in touch with even if you haven't seen them in ages. Yet when you finally get back together, it's as if no time has passed. I'm fortunate enough to have three people who fall into this category. The older you get, the more exclusive this category becomes. 

The budding friendship. I read somewhere that it takes around 200 hours to become close friends with someone. With busy work schedules, kids, and significant others, it takes way more time to get to 200 hours than it did when we were kids. There are a few women in my life that I've met a year or two ago and seem like they could be amazing friends over time. We have a ton in common, but it takes a lot of planning to find time to get together for coffee or a night out. This category of friend has a lot of promise, but it's not going to happen overnight.

The comer and goer. When I first moved into our neighborhood I made a bunch of fast friends. Over time they've faded away as I've found other people I have more in common with and shared interests. And you know what? That's totally ok. There are going to be people in your life who come in for a certain amount of time and then move on. I find these friends incredibly important, but I've also learned when to let go. 

When I finally started to understand that not all of the friends in my life will reach "old school BFF" status I became a lot more relaxed. The pressure lifted to become best friends overnight. Now I have friends I see maybe once a month, and others I talk to on a daily basis. Not all friendships are created equal, and it's about time I started realizing that it's ok.

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Coffee Shop Vibes | April Oh, Hello Box

April Oh, Hello Box

Is it fair that I feel like I get to celebrate Christmas every month? Is there such a thing as too much excitement? I may die from it if that's the case. Building the Oh, Hello Box every month is literally my favorite part of my job these days. So thanks for that, planner friends.

April Oh, Hello Box

This month's theme is Coffee Shop Vibes. I wanted a box that contained things you would usually see, do, and use while at a coffee shop. Of course a large coffee mug topped the list of things I had to add. Motivational quotes are my jam and nothing starts a day off better than a quote reminding you that it's a good day to have a good day.

April Oh, Hello Box

Of course I had to sprinkle in my love of plants into the box with this rubber key chain as well as a blossom kit where you can grow your own poppy flowers!

April Oh, Hello Box

Probably my two favorite items in this month's box are the tartan tote and the coffee cup dangle enamel pin. I love how classy the tote feels while still giving off serious oh, hello vibes. Plus the enamel pin is just so cool. I mean come on, the spoon dangles. Witchcraft I tell ya.

April Oh, Hello Box

There are a ton of other products I haven't highlighted in this post, so if you want to see them all be sure to watch the video! This box will be available Saturday, April 6th all the way through the month or until they sell out. Each box has over $100 in lifestyle and planner items and costs $44.95 with a flat shipping fee!

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On Butterflies and Breaks

A week or so ago my husband Alex and I took half the day off to go to Frederik Meijer Gardens for their annual Butterflies in Bloom event. In the three years we've lived in Grand Rapids, we've never been. We of course have talked about it, but always found some excuse as to why we were just too busy to go.

Now my mental health journey is no secret to regular readers around these parts. And in an effort to actively work on bettering my mental state, I've taken a lot more care with myself. More breaks, more understanding, and more love. 

It was so easy to push aside whatever work we had that day to go see the butterflies. A lot easier I think than either one of us expected. We're so consumed by work that we barely come up for air. The break felt more than just a break, it felt like a rediscovery of what really matters.

Alex and I bought ourselves a membership to Frederik Meijer so we can go back anytime we want throughout the year. We're making a conscious effort to put our mental health and relationship at the forefront, rather than constantly pushing them aside for more work. 

I guess the point of this post is to act as a reminder to take a break, do something you've talked about doing but haven't made the time for it yet, and remember what really matters. It's something I think we all have to actively work on...and you can bet that I am.

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My Tips for Getting into Planner Stamping

My Tips for Getting into Planner Stamping

Alright. I admit it. I've become addicted to planner stamping. You know it must be true if there's a blog post about it, right? I'm sure there's a video to follow at some point. This girl just can't help but share her latest obsession with whoever is listening on the internet. But I digress. 

One of the biggest reasons it's taken me so long to get into stamping is how overwhelming it all seemed. I didn't have the slightest clue where to begin, most stamp sets felt overly expensive to me, and I didn't even know if I would like it. So here are my tips if you're interested in giving stamping a go, but don't know where to start. Don't worry, I've done all the fumbling around so you don't have to.

1. Don't buy everything at once. Give it a go first to see if you even like it. It's so easy to want to purchase everything out there or what you see someone on YouTube using in a tutorial. Save your pennies until you know whether or not stamping is even for you. If you happen to be at a planner meetup or event, check the destash table for any unwanted stamps left behind (I've found quite a few there myself) or buy a variety set from Erin Condren (like the ones in the photo) or Amazon (this is a set I've been looking at). You'll have to pick yourself up an acrylic block as well as ink pads, but to test out stamping shouldn't cost you more than $25-$30. 

2. Practice on things you don't care about messing up. This is a big one. If you're a planner perfectionist like me, you'll want to practice on scrap paper to get the hang of it before diving into your precious planner. It took me quite a few tries to understand pressure and how much ink to put on the stamps. 

3. Be open to mistakes. It's part of the process. Regardless of how much you practice, there's still a good chance you'll mess up. I've "messed up" literally every time I've stamped in my "good" planner and yet that's part of the charm. I weirdly love how a slightly imperfect stamp looks in my planner now. If I want perfection, there's a sticker. If I want a little personality, I'll stamp.

4. Look for variety ink sets like this one on Amazon or these from Erin Condren to make switching colors easier. It really helped to keep costs low when getting started while still giving me a ton of freedom of different options.

5. Clean off your stamps after every use. I use these wipes from Erin Condren, but any technology alcohol wipe should do. Cleaning off your stamps makes them last longer and stay in good condition so you can stamp away without worrying about residues or damaged stamps. Get into the practice now when you're just getting started.

Of course, I'm still a stamping novice myself, so any stamping experts out there, leave your tips in the comments!
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