How about a Spring Fling?

Recently, Keli of Colette Paperie invited me to be part of a spring group discount event she was coordinating, and I of course said yes! Some of my pals, including Larissa Loden and Michelle Brusegaard, are also participating in the sale. Get their awesome wares at a discounted price!


You have until Sunday, March 24, to snag these exclusive deals, including 26% off any order of two or more State Icons from redshoes26 design! To nab the deal, just email me your choices for State Icons, and I’ll send you a link to get your discount. Be sure to include the coupon code SPRINGFLING2013 when you email me.

To see what the other talented artists in this sale are offering, check out Keli’s blog.


Help MN Makers Succeed

hamms event

Join redshoes26 design in supporting HAMMS (Help A Minnesota Maker Succeed), which is organized by Becky Sturm of StormSister Spatique and 3waybeauty and Sairey Gernes of Irely Intimates and TowelTopper. The HAMMS event is a one-day shopping celebration of unique Twin Cities-based artisans and crafters. Mark your calendars for April 20. I will be showing my State Icons and sharing a booth with the always fabulous Larissa Loden!

Held in the former Hamm’s Brewery shipping dock on the East side of St. Paul, Minnesota, the event will house a number of “mini shops” that will offer a collection of items, including beauty and grooming products, leather goods, cosmetics, letterpress products, artwork, jewelry, lingerie, pet products,and home accessories. HAMMS will be a fun, intimate shopping experience designed for men, women, and their four-legged friends.

Saturday, April 20, 2013, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Former Hamms Brewery
713 East Minnehaha Avenue (top floor)
St. Paul, Minnesota 55106

For more info about HAMMS, visit

What didn’t fit : Kathy Hanson

I met Kathy Hanson (above), founder of Backpocket Strategy, a couple years ago when she headed up the CRAVE Minneapolis/St. Paul guide that redshoes26 design appeared in. I really connected with her, and since then, I’ve grown to respect and admire her tenacity, intelligence, enthusiasm, and humor. I recently learned that both of her kids studied overseas for a year after high school as Rotary International ambassadors, in France and Finland. So, it seems that hard work, intelligence, and enthusiasm run in the family!

Kathy Hanson

Kathy Hanson, founder of Backpocket Strategy

Hey Kathy! Tell us about you.
I went to NYC right out of college, and worked at 1 Park Avenue as a graphic designer for a magazine. I loved every minute of being in NYC.

I returned to Oregon to get my MBA at the University of Portland. I worked full-time while going to grad school, then had the chutzpah to march into a fantastic, local high-end printing company and tell them they needed a sales manager! I took that company from $2 million to $4 million in four years.

I was hired away to do exciting freelance project-manager work for Hewlett Packard out of the Bay Area, which made me realize immediately that I loved being my own boss. I did that for five years and then moved to Minneapolis with my husband and two small kids. I told myself that if I ever wanted to open my own business, now was the time.

We bought a 110-year-old farmhouse on 3 acres in Deephaven, and I opened a retail space out of my 110-year-old huge red barn, where I sold vintage homewares and clothing. It was called Pickets. My husband and I refurbished everything we sold, and we made our barn look like Anthropologie met Shabby Chic met vintage hip! I made money immediately, was on the cover of Country Home Magazine within a year, had my own segment on HGTV, and was voted Best Of by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine for Pop Up Shop/Occasional Sale. I loved every minute of it.

But due to extenuating circumstances outside of my control—all sad and depressing—I had to stop the business. In a fortuitous turn, a friend gave me a copy of CRAVE, a guide to all the best women-owned businesses in Portland to get me inspired.

Being Kathy Hanson, I called the publisher of CRAVE and asked “Why is there not a guide to Minneapolis/St. Paul?” to which she replied “MSP is not hip enough.” I told her I’d prove her wrong.

I produced the only CRAVE guide to sell out its first edition. Not only that, but my MSP guide was the only guide in the history of the publishing company to be curated in less than a year, all while making a profit! I promised the women in the first edition I would do a second edition, and I did. In the meantime, I was hired by the publishing company to oversee six other cities because my model worked better than the other 35 city guides.

My second edition of CRAVE was the only guide in the history of the publishing company to be curated by the same person as the first edition (it’s ridiculously hard work to put together a book like this) in less than six months (beating my old record), and to be delivered in time for the women in the guide to sell their guides for the holidays. [Editor’s Note: you can find redshoes26 design on page 186 of this second edition.]

This experience lead me to see clearly how many women entrepreneurs need help, outside expertise, and support. Most female business owners operate in a silo with only themselves or their spouses and friends to give advice and counsel. Most often, it’s not objective or educated advice. I was asked so many times to give advice and strategy, and often told, “I wish I had you in my back pocket all the time!” And my business name was born.

In essence, I’ve been a business strategist for 25 years, and I also have 25 years of experience as a married mother of two (my kids are now ages 18 and 20) while running my own business. So I know the trials and tribulations of trying to balance it all.

Tell us about Backpocket Strategy.  
I help male and female entrepreneurs. It can be lonely and frustrating to run your own business, and I give business owners an objective perspective to their particular issues. Not everyone can be good at everything—my clients hire me to fill in the gaps for what they aren’t good at, and to give them confidence in areas in which they need help. Entrepreneurs can’t afford a staff of experts, so my clients count on me to give them expert advice on issues they face with employees, marketing, capturing new business, finances, life/work balance…whatever issue they are struggling with at that moment in time.

Sometimes I work with clients to simply figure out what they should be working on and focusing on. Our spouses/partners/friends/parents are not objective. I am an objective voice of reason and I have your best interests in mind, and I will honestly tell you the best course of action to take.

Why do you do what you do?
I absolutely have a conviction to let women know they are not alone, they should not expect to be able to do it all themselves, they cannot possibly do it all themselves, they cannot possibly do it all themselves well, and there are ways to make their jobs easier!

Who have you helped over the years? 
I’ve worked for and with Fortune 100 companies, small businesses, and individuals. They all served a different piece of my ego. The big companies fed my bank account and my ego because I made a huge difference financially for the businesses that hired me to fix or manage a problem. Working with small businesses is more fulfilling because I hear such personal stories from my clients, and I know firsthand that I’m actually saving someone’s sanity! I have husbands thanking me because their wives won’t listen to them or, more commonly, their wives only talk to them and they’re going insane listening to the drama about their wives’ businesses.

Tell us about your videos.
Two TV producers saw me at a conference where I was helping women business owners pitch their ideas to leading industry experts—textiles, cooking, paper, blogging—and they pulled me into a room and told me I was the next Suze Orman with my expertise and my wild-eyed enthusiasm for helping women entrepreneurs! Those two wonderful, giving producers have been filming my weekly two-minute videos for the past year for free. The three of us are currently trying to pitch ideas to the networks and to independent channels to prove that because of the success of Shark Tank, there are millions of entrepreneurs who could use help every day, not just asking for money from the Sharks.

We shoot six videos at a time, which is really tough, and they continue to encourage me to be more “Kathy”: more irreverent, more direct to my viewers. I’m finally getting the confidence to just “be Kathy,” so watch out for my next batch!

The weird thing about my videos is that I rarely get feedback after they go out into the universe. [Editor’s Note: They’re fabulous, so check them out here and spread the word!]

What do you wish more people would do?
Realize that they cannot possibly do it all well. It’s very arrogant to think you can be left brained, right brained, great with money, and great with employees. No one is good at everything.

Also, I wish every single person on earth who runs their own business would understand that they are not alone in their struggles. It’s very tough to work for yourself and have no one to vent to about what you find frustrating.

What kinds of collaborations have you done?
I’m asked to speak to groups of entrepreneurs all the time. I’m passionate about letting business owners know how to make well-informed decisions about their businesses. By speaking about my, my clients’, and my peers’ experiences, [I show] business owners that they aren’t alone, and that they have resources available to get answers. There is no excuse to operate in a frustrating vacuum.

What makes Backpocket Strategy different?
My 25 years of experience in the trenches as a woman in business, as a woman who owned my own successful business and as a woman who has had more than 100 business owners as clients. I bring a unique and real-world perspective to my clients that means I “get it.” I understand the challenges and I know how to resolve common issues.

The other way I’m different is that most everybody who meets me thinks I inject Red Bull into my veins, and [I hear often that] my fierce passion for helping people is infectious.

Who do you love to work with and why?
Anyone who is curious and willing to work on achieving a better life for themselves in business. That may mean making more money, it may mean working less hours and making the same, or it could mean growing their business in a way that means they can successfully manage their limited resources of time, energy, and money. I love working with people who need an objective opinion on how to run a better business.

What’s next for you and Backpocket Strategy?
More exposure for my weekly two-minute videos, so I can reach more business owners. More speaking engagements so I can let more business owners know they aren’t alone. And more seminars so I can teach more business owners smart strategies for running their businesses more effectively.

This weekend : Unglued: Craft Fest


Poster design by Amy Jo, courtesy Unglued: Craft Fest

Will you be in the Fargo, North Dakota, area this weekend? If so, swing into one of the coolest events in the Midwest, Unglued: Craft Fest. I’ve created some new North Dakota Icons just for the show, and I’ll have tons of Icons representing other states as well, plus giclee prints and greeting cards (all cards will be half off!).


Minot Air Force Base – North Dakota Icon by Christy Johnson, redshoes26 design

The 50-plus vendors will also include Larissa Loden, Michelle Brusegaard, The Elixery, Amy Jo, and Vandalia Street Press. There will also be craft demos and other entertainment. The first 150 people in the door get killer swag bags, too!

Bundle up and come see us!

Unglued: Craft Fest

Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota

Friday, Feb. 22, 5-8 p.m. (get tickets here for the gala this night…your only way in!)

Saturday, Feb. 23, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (free to the public!)

What didn’t fit : Leslie Paster Fhima

This month I’m introducing you to my friend Leslie Paster Fhima, who has a diverse background, and currently teaches about 20 fitness classes each week, plus private clients. She’s also a mom to Zack (26), Chloe (21), and Eli (19).

I met Leslie more than a year ago, when I happened to take her Zumba class one evening. I fell in love with her from the moment she started moving to the music, and I’ve been obsessed with her and her class ever since. She’s my four-times-a-week therapy session, thanks to her getting my heart rate up while my mind goes to its happy place. Leslie says she hates talking about herself, but my Zumba friends and I are always bugging her for more info because she’s a fascinating person who has lived an incredible life. And there’s even more to come! Read on about this gem of a woman.

Leslie Paster Fhima

Leslie Paster Fhima in action, and in a rare moment of non-movement….

Hey Leslie! Tell us about you.
I grew up in St. Louis Park, and graduated from St. Louis Park high school in 1977. I skated every day starting at age 8, and I also loved to dance. My dream was to be a professional figure skater.

How did you end up where you are today? 
I auditioned for the Ice Follies while still in high school, and got hired. I left home a week after graduation for my new career. I skated professionally for three years, and made lasting friendships. I also gained life experiences and lessons you can only get while being out in the world. While in the Ice Follies, I took up running, which kept me healthy and in good shape. The show hired me to work people out before nightly performances. I even got to work with Peggy Fleming.

After I got out of the show, I decided to open up an “aerobics studio,” as it was called back then. I opened Leslie’s Shape Shop in the early ’80s and went on to win an aerobic competition, which led to to many things, including exercise videos and commercials. My studio was very successful and, of course, an amazing experience.

During this time, I was also starting to run marathons, and went on to complete 10, including the Boston and New York City Marathons.

Of what are you most proud, career-wise?
Winning the National Aerobics Competition and making the videos were highlights of my career.

Leslie leads her Zumba class in a heart-pumping jam!

What keeps you motivated?
The people I teach every day. I work with everyone from pre-school kids to adults, and I can truly say I love my job. I am rewarded each day by the people I teach. It makes me so happy to know I make a difference in their lives, no matter how small.

I think hard work and perseverance has really helped me in my career. I’m not lazy, and I love to work out, so it’s a good combination. Being with my children is also one of my favorite things. I took up snowboarding 14 years ago so I could spend more time with my then 13-year-old son.

As if you weren’t busy enough teaching 20-some classes each week, what else have you been working on?
Besides teaching Zumba, spinning, Pilates, and Barre classes, I’ve also been building my new business. I’ve invented a product called PowerBark. My dog Sadie was my inspiration. I take her with me everywhere I go, so sometimes she misses her meals when she’s with me. Five years ago, I was eating my protein bar and I thought, “Why isn’t there something like this for dogs?” Fast forward to today and, voilá! PowerBark is launching next month!

What words of wisdom can you leave us with?
I never lie about my age. I’m 54 and I think I’m a good role model for women my age. Exercise is the key to life. I can attest to that. 

In My Shoes : Texas Twosome

I’m starting a new feature on redshoes news 2.6, called In My Shoes. As a rabid shoe collector, I’ve racked up quite a collection (as anyone who has seen the inside of my closet or has helped me move can attest). Lots of times, my shoes have a “story,” whether it’s where I got them, or a place I wore them, or the history I’ve had with them. Sometimes I just love the way they look and want to talk about them! Yep.

I thought it might be fun to not only show off my shoe collection, but in doing so, let you get to know a little bit more about me as well. In the past, I’ve talked in this blog about redshoes26 design, art, being an entrepreneur, and what shows I’ve got scheduled. But I am my business, so I want you to get to know me a little more, too. So along with the familiar content, I’m adding a bit more. I hope you like the inside peek.



So. My first In My Shoes entry revolves around these snappy leopard-print flats I got while in Austin, Texas, for the Renegade Craft Fair in late November. I went on the trip with my friend Larissa Loden, and we spent a couple extra days in Austin, exploring the city and the food and anything else we could squeeze in.

One day whilst shopping at the most wicked outlet mall I’ve ever been to–on Black Friday, no less (this wasn’t planned, it just happened that way…and it was an incredible, happy accident)–I suggested to Larissa that we go into a shoe store that looked from the outside to be one of those “comfy shoe stores” where typically the shoes may be comfy, but they suuuure aren’t pretty. She’d been looking for a new pair of leopard-print flats to replace some uncomf ones she had, and we’d struck out at a few cool shoe stores so far during the trip. So we thought, what the hell, we have nothing to lose. I spotted (pun intended) some right away, and they were perfect. If you’re anything like Larissa and me, you understand what I mean about the “perfect” leopard print. So much animal print stuff out there is hideous and tacky. I can’t even describe to you what I mean about the “perfect leopard print,” I just know it when I see it. And it’s rare.

Anyway, she tried the shoes on, and we noticed that they were on super sale, thanks to it being Black Friday, so I, being the reckless shoe lover that I am, tossed on a pair on as well. I’d recently been thinking of adding some animal print to my wardrobe because I’m a super solids-and-stripes girl. I have some polka-dots, and some crazy-ass patterned shirts/dresses mixed in, but no animals as of yet. I also don’t normally wear flats, since this girl loves her heels. But once those shoes were on my feet, I realized they were going to start my foray into the wild side (yep, I did it again). Plus, as anyone who’s gone shoe shopping with me knows, if I like a pair of shoes and I put my foot into one of them, they usually go home with me. I know this, so sometimes I just won’t even try a pair on, if I can’t afford them, or don’t “need” them, etc.

Torture. Truly.

I did mention it is an addiction, right?

So, short story long, Larissa and I are shoe twinsies. We’ll have to check with each other whenever we go out to see if the other is going to wear her leopard flats. But it’s a small price to pay to have such a fun shoe in my collection.

They are also perfect for wearing to art shows because they’re flat, and they came from one of those “comfy shoe stores,” remember? So I guess the moral of this story is to never judge a shoe store by its, uh, comfy-shoe-store name, I guess. Because we hit the jackpot with these babies.

Thanks for reading! What’s your goofy addiction? What do you think of animal prints? Do you like my shoes (I won’t be offended if you don’t!)?

Celebrating two (full-time) years–with a sale!

Happy anniversary to redshoes26 design! Today marks two years that I have been at this full-time. This past year, especially, was very incredible, business-wise, and I want you all to know how thankful I am of your support and generosity toward me, my business, and my brand.

Looking forward, I’m planning on making some changes to the business. To start, I’m phasing out my greeting card line, at least for now. As of today, all of my greeting cards will be 50% off on my redshoes26 design online shop and my Etsy shop. Watch for the prices to drop as the day goes by.

You're My Type card by redshoes26 design

You’re My Type card by redshoes26 design

I’ll soon be selling my inventory of envelopes as well, so keep your eyes peeled for that announcement and for those listings to pop up on my online shops.

Thanks again for all of your encouragement and enthusiasm these past two years and beyond. I appreciate it more than you know.