Free Desktop Download and ALT Summit recap

Happy Friday friends! In 2013 I mentioned that I like to do themes for each year (you can catch up on a few from the past here). I like theme’s because they are easy to remember and can guide my goals, motivations and decisions throughout the year (particularly when I might forget that ever ambitious and inspiring list of goals I made early January). I know people who even pick one word to guide through the year. I think this is pretty cool too.

For me, this year, I decided to pick the inspiring quote from David Allen, a productivity specialist, “You can do anything, but not everything”. And I’m sharing a free motivational graphic for your desktop should you want to keep this message on your radar as well! Just click the image below to download.


This message was also one I shared on my Collaborations panel at ALT Summit a week ago. I always enjoy my time at ALT. Particularly meeting up with and learning from other inspiring ladies. This year I spoke on a panel with amazing creatives Emily Meyer of Tea Collection (favorite kids clothing line made even more awesome by getting to know the completely amazing lady behind it all – seriously love her), Nancy Soriano, (former editor of Country Living Magazine – super smart lady who was responsible for making Country Living a favorite mag for someone like me who used to shy away from anything “country”), and Brittany Watson Jepson, fellow collaborator, friend and all around AMAZING creative behind The House that Lars Built (who needs no introduction…you all know and love her as much as I do).

ALT Summit Collaborations Panel

If you’re someone like me, a creative do-it-yourselfer, you might start out trying to do everything yourself. And at first, this is perfectly fine, especially as you try to grown your brand and get to know your readers and build relationships. But as you grow you might find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps your inbox is filled to brim and you just can’t keep up, your editorial calendar is behind or all over the place (or you don’t even have one…which of course I’m sooo not guilty of), perhaps your personal life is feeling out of order and yours and or your family’s health is in flux. If so, you might be ripe and ready for some healthy collaborating.

I mention in this post how crucial collaboration was for me in making my upcoming book, PLAYFUL, a success. There is seriously NO WAY I could have made it as amazing as it is by myself. For an artist and illustrator, who has been used to working alone in her studio for years, it’s been so nice to work with others. Hard at first to give my “babies” over to others to work with, but SO worth it.



I mentioned a number of things in my panel that help to make collaborations successful but the few that I want to touch on in this post are these:

  1. First and foremost, make sure your own PERSONAL BRANDING IS STRONG. You need to know who you are, what you have to offer and what others come to expect from you. And, well, quite frankly it needs to be goooood.
  2. Secondly, when you are ready to collaborate, you need to CHOOSE THE VERY BEST people to work with. This can vary depending on what your brand and your project needs are. Evaluate those needs, go back to your brand, and see who you want to bring on. For me it generaly means, creatives and or brands that are like minded and that have very high levels of aesthetic. Meaning they don’t compromise when it comes to taste (which generally means I like to work with people who are better than me).
  • These could be friends you know and respect or strangers work whom you have admired from afar. Both are valuable.
  • They could be other bloggers who have a great brand and following themselves that you gravitate to and want collaborate with. Or they could be friends, artists, designers, etc. that are creating great work but don’t necessary have a blog. Seriously don’t discount these associations. Big online followings are not the only thing you want to grade your collaborations on (at least for me they’re not. it always comes back to beauty and taste level for me).

I also shared a bit more about steps for a successful collaboration


  1. Identify a need and then decide what project/collaboration would fulfill that need
  2. Evaluate your budget and or resources – basically what can you bring to the table to make it worth it for others to collab with you
  3. Pick your collaborators – which creatives or brands best fit your project
  4. Collaborate – once you have picked the best, shared your concept for the project with mood boards, etc. you really need to step back and let your collaborators do what they do best. This is crucial I think for magic to happen (of course do what you need to do to keep things on track/brand but don’t micro-manage, basically).
  5. Follow Up – was the collaboration successful? What worked, what didn’t? And what would you differently next time?)

I then summed it all up with this message: You COLLABORATE to ELEVATE.MerMagALTCollaboration=Elevate


So remember, you can do ANYTHING, but not EVERYTHING. And happy collaborating in 2014!

(oh and if you ever wanted to collaborate with me, just shoot me an email! Chances are it just might work perfectly for something I’m wanting to work on! And no matter what, I want meet you and know about the amazing things you do and are you’re working on!)



  1. Reply


    January 31, 2014

    Thank you much for sharing the highlights from your talk. I was Alt but I didn’t make to your talk and I heard it was amazing! I wish we could have met, maybe next year! I can’t wait o buy your book, so exciting!

  2. Reply


    January 31, 2014

    Loved reading this: I totally recognise trying to do everything myself. Not that you shouldn’t try, but collaborating is a beautiful thing. Focussing on everyones strongest points in order to create something even better. Can’t wait for your book also, will it be available in Europe? Thank you!

    • Reply


      January 31, 2014

      so true Leyla. And yes, my book should be available in Europe as well!

      • Reply


        January 31, 2014

        Thanks for letting me know, can’t wait! ^^

  3. Reply


    February 1, 2014

    I love, That’s a powerful quote.
    For years, I wans’t able to choose which media to work with. I made sculpture, photomanipulation, painting,..
    It’s important to focus our energy. Thanks for sharng this. I need to remermber.

    • Reply


      February 1, 2014

      it’s so hard not to do everything right? and I think as we’re finding our “place” or our “craft” we have to try it all for bit, don’t we? But eventually we need to hone in a what it is exactly that is most important to us. Then if we dabble in other things, it will only enhance the strong foundation of what we’ve already built. At least that’s what I’m hoping :). xo Mer

  4. Reply

    lyndsay // coco cake land

    February 2, 2014

    merrilee, thank you for sharing such valuable notes from your talk!! that quote rules. i saw it on instaG (maybe it was on yours? probably!!!) and thought… “yeah.” it’s really true too that one can’t go at it alone entirely, either – and collaborations and working with like minded creatives is so FUN!

    seriously can’t wait to check out PLAYFUL, as your work is some of my very favourite on the internet and such a great example of a strong, highly designed and developed but playful aesthetic!! xo

  5. Reply


    February 6, 2014

    You are so sweet, just so genuine seeming. Thanks for sharing this great tip. Some great advice!

    • Reply


      February 7, 2014

      thanks Chelsea! you’re so sweet. xo mer


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