A few months ago the last you heard about was us getting our business up & going with the dream of relocating to the sea. Well, guess what.. WE DID IT! (We actually… did it.) We decided to sell most of our bigger ticket belongings, donate the rest and pack what was left of our life into countless boxes to hit the road to our favorite place. The gulf coast of Florida on the 30A panhandle. Donny had made the long (long, long, LONG… lol) drive first with our dog Bella, a moving truck and his best friend. Myself and our kids flew to meet him 5 days later. And it was a BIG reunion.
If it can happen, it will…
We have been officially Floridians since October. With in our first 2 weeks we had been baptized by fire through car trouble, horrible red tide and then Hurricane Michael which was a catastrophic CAT4. We were spared – unfortunately our neighbors to the east were not. I am extremely proud to be apart of a community who without hesitation helps their neighbor in the darkest of hours. Despite all of these immediate hardships we pushed through and are now sitting at present day. The time between has been filled with nightly exploring, photography, documenting our journey, chasing sunsets, going to the beach, spending time with friends, experiencing our first holidays alone and putting our heart and soul into our business, Preston Belle Designs.
Ashley & Donny Jenkins
photo by: Lindsay Havlicek Bell
The future of Preston Belle Designs
We have met incredible people! I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to network, reach out and build partnerships with other artisans and jewelry shops here along the gulf coast. The people we have met are the nicest and most kind, caring and like minded individuals. Especially in our industry! The future of Preston Belle Designs relies on the business partnerships we have established in jewelry repair (and will continue to establish) and also in Donny’s very unique and one of a kind artistry of hand engravings and jewelry making! I have to say the future is looking bright! This is why we came here. To be among those who are just like us. The dreamers, the doers, the entrepreneurs,the risk takers, the artisans, the photographers, the writers and the creative souls who are the heart beat of the Emerald Coast. We are both very much looking forward to the future!
photo by: Lindsay Havlicek Bell
photo by: Lindsay Havlicek Bell
If you have any questions about our experience thus far don’t forget to reach out and give a shout!
The last time you may have read our blog we had just came back from our first family trip to Gatlinburg TN! Since our return it has been nothing short of strictly business. When you decide to leave the corporate world of the 9-7 grind to pursue your own ambitions, dreams, goals and business ideas you are in a euphoric state of endless hopes and possibilities. Eventually — the very real hardness of what it is that you set out to do and accomplish becomes more like climbing a freezing mountain and less like an easy target. You enter a world of the good, the bad and all the struggles in between. You wake up every day and you trek that mountain. You brave the storms, the falling rocks and the exhaustion of fighting like hell to make all of your hard work come into fruition. Its a journey only a select few can understand. I really admire those who have climbed this Everest before us. Because with out you – my fellow entrepreneurs, dreamers and visionaries, this path would seem utterly impossible.
The Good: Over the past few months we have had the ability to connect with some really amazing customers and incredibly helpful & kind like minded people in the jewelry biz. Friends of ours have also helped to spread the “word” and send business our way (Thank you!) And if it wasnt for the support of each other – pushing one another to give our all every single day and show up to pour our hearts into this business – I’m not really sure what.. Its no secret that we are beach people and have the dream and relentless drive to move our family to the sea. Two of the connections we have built over these past three months have been in the location we are going towards in the Gulf of Mexico along the beautiful Emerald Coast. We are people of faith and truly believe that those placed in our lives are not always just by a friendly coincidence – but rather for a very real purpose along our journey by the Man upstairs. OR… It really IS a coincidence and a hell of a good one! Either way, we feel so happy and blessed to have connected. With Donny as long time professional bench jeweler and artisan it is our goal to build lasting relationships to be able to serve other businesses through design and repair and people in our communities to the best of our ability. Jewelery after all – is not just a noun. It is a feeling, an emotion and a memory to cherish forever.
The Bad & All the Struggles In Between: Man. Oh man, the bad. “Sure! We are totally fine!” The lie we so easily catch ourselves saying to those around us more often then not. Or – perhaps its not a lie afterall and it’s our own way for us to cope through all of the financial strain, stress, pressures, fear and unexpected speed bumps along the way. No one said climbing this metaphorical entrepreneur mountain was going to be easy. We just have faith that when we reach a higher altitude, breathe that air and look down at how far we have fought to come it will be worth it. For Donny. For me. For our two children. For us all. It is hard to go from working a day job and still financially struggling ( you know.. making barely enough to survive yet too much to get help. The boat so many of us have been in or are currently living now) to still struggling but in more ways then before with even more on our plates. It takes a lot of grit, hustle, hope, faith and the DESIRE for more to survive this. And I know we will! You see – People like to mask the hard shit. The struggle. The ‘behind the scenes’ of a high light reel. You don’t often see the blood, the sweat and the tears. The sleepless nights full of worry or the bandaged hands behind the fight. It’s important to us to be raw and honest with you about our journey. From the beginning to the end. The good, the bad and all the struggles in between. And one day the view from the top of that mountain, our Everest.
We have two of the best reasons in the world to never give up. And why you never will see us do so! Life is short. We have experienced many hardships together. And every day together is something that we are so grateful for. Then, now and always.
If you have made it this far reading our blog and have any questions please dont hesitate to ask!
“Do you wanna just…. pack up and go? Tell no one and hit the road?” – YES.
A few weeks ago we decided to take a 3 day trip! We booked our hotel, packed and hit the road the very next morning. We love to travel and crave a lifestyle of adventure so we were excited for a very spontaneous trip out of Ohio! I thought I would share with you a little about our trip, where we ate and things to do!
The hotel we stayed in was called the Black Bear Inn & Suites. This hotel was at the tail end of the Gatlinburg strip close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Even though our trip was chilly it was a beautiful change in scenery. This was our first family trip together to the mountains and 9 years since Donny and I visited for our honeymoon! So within our tiny window of two and a half days we crammed in as much fun as we possibly could!
Our first half day was mainly just our check in, taking in the views, unloading and finding food! We ate, walked, swam in the hotel pool and planned our next full day which included getting up early for ME to have a minor heart attack on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway. The view to the top of the mountains were breathtakingly beautiful. Looking out you would see gorgeous snow-covered mountain tops that were back-lit by golden sun rays. Unfortunately, somewhere over the course of the past 10 years I have developed a fear of heights! So to the elderly gentleman who stood next to me as we rose to the top while Final Destination played on repeat in my mind – THANK YOU for laughing and telling me I was going to be okay. And I am also sorry for being that random woman fighting her urge to get down on all fours and hold the floor for comfort LOL. But seriously….. #Iprobablypoopedmypants
Once we got off of the Tramway onto the mountain we were greeted by games, Ice Skating (which we also did!), over priced pizza and to us, the high light of our entire trip; this view from taking the Gatlinburg Sky Lift. When we finally reached the top our 15 minute sky lift to the view above it made everything worth it. The drive, the traffic, the fear I felt inside of the tramway – everything. This was not just the highlight of our trip but was also a major highlight of our lives. When you’re standing at the top you are engulfed in a special silence only heard in the mountains. That alone silence is filled with only the distant sound of birds and crisp air passing through the tree tops. You feel so small just standing there in all of Gods glorious masterpiece. I don’t think we spoke for the first 5 minutes because we were in awe just processing these feelings and this once in a lifetime view. But alas.. we have kids (haha) so after those precious 5 minutes of silence it was broken with all of the “I’m hungry’s, Can we have hot chocolate’s, and the Im cold’s” (hee hee)… So back down we went a few moments later to that over priced pizza I mentioned above and to some warm hot cocoa! I should also mention that one of the view finders here is one of the only ones in America made for those that are color blind to be able to see in color. And a special thank you to Ronnie who works at the top for his stories and his recommendation for the scenic bypass drive .
On our last day we went to across the street from our hotel and had one of the BEST breakfast at this restaurant called, Crockets Breakfast Camp. When you walk in you feel like you are transported back in time into a log cabin with a roaring fire. There are sticky buns and fresh baked bread in the window for you to drool over while you wait. (Which we did drool over, of course) I got the White Oak Eggs Benedict with cured ham and potatoes. IT WAS AMAZING. Our daughter got a Dutch Baby pancake about 2 inches thick, our son the french toast and Donny enough bacon and candied apples to make him happy for life! So, if you’re ever in the area you will not be disappointed! And the portions are mountain-man-grizzly sized. (Is that even a thing?) No complaints from us!
We made a final stop at our favorite candy factory to pick up some fudge, honey, jams and goodies at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. I am so attracted to this place because of where it is located in the Villiage Shops and the entire feel of the whole store! The chocolate-on-chocolate truffles are delicious! (Especially with that PB&J moonshine 😉
The last and final thing we decided to do as a family before leaving was taking a scenic drive through the Gatlinburg Bypass to catch some last minute mountain views. There really is not a bad seat in the house. ❤
I hope you enjoyed this little blog post about our recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlingburg Tennessee! If you have been here and also have recommendations Id love to hear them!
Natural Kingman Turquoise Hand Made Sterling Silver
Kingman Turquoise Pendant
Rings, rings, RINGS!
“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be”
Hello April! The first week of this month we kicked off our shops first natural turquoise collection. Hours upon hours of craftsmanship went into each individual unique one of a kind piece. Nothing was pre-fabricated and every detail was 100% HANDMADE. I think that is something really special, don’t you?! Feel free to take a closer look at our current shop listings here at prestonbelledesigns.bigcartel.com/ or here at Etsy on our second shop! https://www.etsy.com/shop/PrestonBelleDesigns
We are looking forward to our next shop update AND blog post about our recent trip to the mountains for a quick get away full of inspiration!
So.. I bet you’re scrolling through the Gram’ stumbling across pictures on social media feeds that make you think, “HOW DID THEY DO THAT!?” Well my friends, if this is you, then you are in good company because that was me too! I still get super inspired when I feel that same way. I have learned so much from other bloggers, you tubers and IGer’s (Is that even a thing? lol) that has helped me find my style and learn how to plan a cohesive feed of my own. Everyone’s editing style is different, unique and there is no wrong or right way to do it. It is a process that is all to personal taste. I am in NO way an expert. I’m just a gal who loves photography, creating and editing who wants to pay it forward! Through this blog I am simply sharing what works for me. I love to read editing blogs and I find them so helpful and interesting! So, I thought maybe some of you would, too! Lets get into How I edit my photos & plan my feed for Instagram! PLUS the tips and tricks you’re dying to know.
We can’t begin without the basics. The equipment that I use is either my DSLR Canon Camera or my iPhone 8 Plus. Most of the time for Instagram im using my iPhone. To me there is something so personal about “in the moment shots” that only a mobile can produce. I love being able to quickly give an insight into my life and have an almost instant sharing ability that is very convenient and portable. (Note that for my professional photography services ALL imagery is taken with my DSLR and edited in Adobe LightRoom. But this post is about the Gram’ – So back to it!)
APPS That I Use
The main two apps that I solely use for editing my pictures is Facetune 2 for whitening + the detail tool and VSCO. I do keep Snapseed and Lightroom around for very specific editing needs such as de-saturating a small area or removing unflattering yellow lighting which I’ll go into later with examples of both!
1.The very first step of my editing process is looking at my image and deciding If I need to bring it into Facetune 2. If there is anything that needs brightened up such as white dinner plates, mugs, table cloths or even concrete I may do that then select the detail tool to bring out my desired areas of focus. I like Facetune 2 vs Facetune Classic because of the ability to have intensity sliders with what you are doing.
2. My second step is adding my filter! And the MAIN thing people seem to want to know the most is what filters I use and which are my favorite! I have tried so many different ones from other apps – but I am a VSCO filter lover, hands down. They are pleasing to my eye and range from subtle film like tones to those that are vibrant or clean. My personal favorites are 05, A6, (All of the A series is wonderful), M5 and HB1. I use some that are free and the rest I did purchase. I always begin my editing process filter first. Again this is just personal preference. When you open your VSCO interface – this is what it will look like!
3. The next step in my editing process always begins with a crop at a 4×5. This is the MAX size that Instagram will allow and takes up the most space, which is good! Most images will automatically go to IG in a 1×1 format. Once I choose my filter that I think looks the best I will adjust my exposure, Contrast, Straighten my image, sharpen, temp etc until it is pleasing to my eye. Lately I have been adding a touch of grain at a +2 to +7 to give it a more authentic film look since VSCO filters and presets are based off of classic film tones. Here are a few examples of a before and after!
4. My next step after editing my images to my liking is pulling up my UN UM app! This app is the bees knees because it allows you to add, place and move all of your photos around so you can see visually what your feed will look like before ever posting it! This app also helps to keep track of what content you are putting out. For example making sure you don’t have two side by sides of the same thing in your Instagram Grid. Think of your Instagram as your own mobile magazine. I used to use Planoly as well – but I only use this app to store my preset hashtag lists or to auto schedule if its a business post!
5. POST IT FOR THE PEEPS! This is literally all I do for my editing process. Now lets see some examples of tips and tricks with the whitening tool, what selective de-saturation looks like, and some food and product photography tips!
Facetune 2 Whitening & Detail Before and After
Facetune 2 OR Snapseed for Selective De-saturation of colors or distracting objects
Food and Product Photography tips!
Ever wonder how food and product shots are taken? STAGING! It’s all about the natural light baby and details. Let’s hear it again in the cheap seats: NATURAL LIGHTING AND DETAILS. One of my big photography passions is food and product shots for Preston Belle Designs! For me each shot begins with the setting and adding in a scene that draws your audience’s attention to your image. I set up a mock table with props! Great props to use are old sheet pans, cutting boards, measuring spoons, wood boards, paper, cooking utensils etc. Really this is limitless and you can use ANYTHING that you want to set up your ideal scene. I love a good coffee pour myself! For food photography I use my DSLR quite often and I also use my phone for these from time to time. Make sure to move near bright windows or natural light and try to avoid direct harsh sunlight. Setting up foam boards as a light reflector can do wonders! For smaller product shots a black box or white box works wonderfully and tones down unwanted highlights which make editing much easier!
Steps Used: Facetune 2, VSCO, UNUM (if needed to look at feed) then POST.
Tricks: Whitening tool in Facetune 2. Remove yellow lighting with selective tool in snapseed or brush tool in snapseed OR with the black and White tool in Facetune 2. Details tool in Facetune 2 if you want to add to a specific area.
Favorite Filters: A series, 05, Hb1 and M5
I hope you found this blog insightful and helpful for you! I enjoyed making this and if you have any questions please feel free to ask! I am happy to help!