Golden Sunrise

Driving in that late winter, early spring time and the sun doesn’t come up until 7 a.m. or later — I’m coming over a rise and off to the right is a glowing greenhouse nestled in the snow.

YES — hard right-hand turn!

I pulled into the driveway of the Chippewa Valley Growers and snapped some photos. The whole time there are people driving by on the road, and I’m hoping that no one takes that hard right and finds me parked there in the way.

It was a magical morning.

You can find this work at Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire, WI

Old Man, what are you thinking?


Old Man ($80) — I wonder what you are thinking. He’s thinking, “Wow! $80 for a framed art piece like that!” (Yep, I asked.) This piece is approx 11×14 and the black frame really sets it off.

This drawing on toned paper is the one that everyone remarks about. Tomorrow at the end of the day, I will be hanging it at the Eau Claire County Courthouse on the 3rd floor. Go check it out (AFTER 01/21/2020) and see if it would be a great addition to your collection!

Shipping Additional.

Place-Making, Chippewa Valley Style

Eau Claire’s Confluence Project is changing the Chippewa Valley by making it a special destination of its own. Surrounding areas are responding in kind with their own projects. What does it mean if Eau Claire becomes an art mecca?

Phoenix Park has a gorgeous pavilion on the water in downtown Eau Claire. It has long been a center of activity for music and the farmers market. Now, the Confluence Project takes that amazingness and amps it up with a new outdoor space connected with the Phoenix Park area as well as 2 buildings that will have space for theatre, the arts, and retail (the possibilities are awesome).

The Confluence is a Major Development that will be working with the University of WI, Eau Claire as well as the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center.

We want more!

Even if you’ve been half-snoozing during the evening news, you know that Menomonie is building a pavilion for their own Farmer’s Market. The City of Chippewa Falls has also decided to invest in a large city park on the edge of downtown. Perched at the end of the bridge, it will give Chippewa Falls a huge helping of curb appeal.

There’s also a TON of hotels going up. The possibilities for the area are going up along with the multi-story buildings.

What’s next?

The Confluence has only just begun its build, so I expect to see more and more investment in Eau Claire and the surrounding area. There will be more business opportunities, and perhaps local wages will go up as well as the demand for skilled workers increases.

In prior years, it was almost like we were advertising that ‘Hey, we’re close to the Twin Cities!’ as a reason to move here. *yawn* That just wasn’t cutting the mustard. We’re not close enough for that to be the reason to move here.

NOW, we are place-making.

Several years ago, I and my husband JP found ourselves travelling to historic downtown Hudson, WI. Several times over the course of a summer, we found ourselves walking the sidewalks, enjoying meals, drifting in and out of shops and talking. The downtown area was historically beautiful, walkable, open to the water for recreation, and full of lovely shops.

Finally, on one of the trips back to Eau Claire, I exclaimed ‘THIS is what we need in Eau Claire! Why, oh, why don’t we have something like this?’ As my husband loves to encourage me, he listened for the next 45 minutes as I went on about how this could and should happen.

It’s more than music,

(but we’ll take that, too.)

Music has been a draw for several years in Eau Claire. The Eaux Claires festival, Rock Fest, Country Fest, and Country Jam all bring crowds – not to mention all of our local talent.

Place-making is personal.

When public spaces have this level of draw, it’s personal. When you’re designing (when I’m designing), I think of everything dependent upon how you view the space. If you’re driving by, things are much different than if you’re walking. Likewise, if you’re looking down from an upper story.

Creating walkable spaces in a downtown makes it personal. That means stopping and considering everything not only from a car but even more importantly — from the sidewalk.

The advantage of my years of experience as a residential landscape designer is that I am well-versed with the personal interaction of landscape. Walk-through a beautiful space, and you will see what I mean. If you’ve been to a downtown that resonates with beauty and fun, it stays with you — think San Antonio’s Riverwalk.

If the downtown is to have that magnetic draw that is required for this level of amazingness, expect to see and feel something magical when you get out and walk around.

I am looking forward to all of what Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley will be offering in the coming years. We’re adding a revamped downtown as well as a huge infusion of the arts – my only question is ‘What’s next?’



How to Get a Step Ahead

Aside from working your butt off, cultivating your inner gladiator, and letting out a motivational roar every Monday, how can you get a step ahead of the competition?

Public speaking.

I’ve worked in many industries where competition is strong — engineering and the construction trades. Frankly, when they see me coming, they do their best to run me over. I’ve noticed. Don’t worry — I’m tough. It’s a fun and challenging dynamic.

One time, I went to a seminar in Menomonie regarding upcoming regulations for the landscaping industry. We were paired up with other attendees (IOW, other business owners and the competition). Our task? To design a landscape that would comply with new watershed regulations.

We had a few minutes to prepare, and the other 2 members of the team verbally tried their best to assert their own ideas. Then, it happened. We were asked to present our ideas.

Immediately, both men volunteered me to present.

They were nervous to present their ideas — even though it was really informal and not a big deal. In my brain, a bell rang. Why not develop the one area where other people scramble to get away from?

Consider — if you want to get ahead, instead of running with the pack, check to see what they’re running FROM.

Heidi Schreiner is a public speaker. She has spoken on topics such as leadership, culture, and marketing presentations for organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, writers groups, and Toastmasters. Want to know  more? Contact me, and let’s chat!

Design Differentiates

I know of a guy who actually spent thousands on a bicycle. That concept to me is way out there, but, hey, he bikes a LOT. Thing is, the major decision for him of WHERE to purchase that bike (he bought locally – YAY!) came down to the company website. Simple as that.

He found a local bike seller, but didn’t like their website, so he moved on to option #2 (different local bike seller). How many times does this happen?

Every single day.

Design does this. Too, too many times as a designer, I found those who KNOW the value of design. They understand. Here it is in a nutshell – it’s there, whether you invest time and finances into it or not. It communicates to your clients what you are really like – whether you say anything or not.

If you are a photographer, hopefully your website is modern and beautiful, so that a visitor (potential client!) will know that you understand that visuals are important. THEN, they can relax and look at your photos which should communicate the same – that you understand visuals and how to put them together.

Design is everywhere.

It’s all around us – in our homes and how the rooms are laid out. In our coffee cup. Our clothes. Even the glass jar that our salsa comes in.

When you’re a small business, you absolutely have to be different than every other business. If you are a commodity, you are giving your customers permission to shop only based on price. AAarrgh!

THAT is a losing game, peeps!

If you are doing what many businesses do and cutting pricing down to the bone or giving tons of discounts off your costing, you are sending the wrong message – that you are cheap, just like everyone else. That’s BAD!!

Instead – whether you are a window washer, electrician, or dog groomer – you must differentiate. Be different.

HOW do I do that, you say?

Design does that. If your branding is nailed down and well thought out, branding will communicate what nothing else can. If you have a killer logo, business card, and website, your customers will many times choose you over the guy whose branding is stuck in the 80’s or just icky (or branding that communicates the wrong message).

Also, think about other things you can do to be different. If you visit clients’ homes as a contractor, are all of your vehicles newer, so they don’t drip oil on their driveways? Do they have extra mirrors for safety? Do you have a 24 hour emergency service policy? It might seem simple, but each of these things can make you BETTER than your competition!

If you have any of the above policies or items – like safer vehicles – make sure that you plan how you will communicate this to your potential clients.

You KNOW that you are better than your competition, so how will you SAY that?

In case I didn’t communicate it clearly enough before – be different.

Design differentiates.