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I'm Kari. I am passionate about pretty, dedicated to details, and enamored with adventure.

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Packing for the Beach

Hi, friends!

Well, chilly weather has finally descended upon New York City this week. I know, I know—it’s the second week of February and we’ve had such a mild winter. A little cold weather was bound to show up at some point. And, just in time for the cold weather, I am headed to the beach for a week!

I can’t wait to put my toes in the sand, read a great book, and see a little color return to my white legs. I am SO READY for some beach time!

One of my favorite parts of planning a beach vacation (or any vacation, for that matter) is to plan what to pack. A vacation is always a great time to try to justify some new purchases, right? And, since I’ll be hanging at the beach for nearly a week, I snagged some new coverups to throw over my swimsuit. I thought I’d share my top four favorite beach coverups that look just as great on the beach as they do with a pair of white jeans or a skirt for a casual dinner—as well as the one swimsuit that I think everyone needs to buy.



Let’s start with the swimsuit. J.Crew’s Underwire One Piece Swimsuit is, in my opinion, one of the most flattering suits EVER. It comes in great colors and is available in Regular, Long Torso, Short Torso, D-Cup, and DD Cup options. I have an abnormally long torso (and, sadly, very short legs) and, usually, I need to look for a tankini situation in order to find a suit that covers my long torso well.  The Long Torso option is so great for me. The suit covers well without being matronly and the underwire top both supports well AND lends a modern edge to a classic silhouette. This swimsuit also comes with strap options: You can wear it with shoulder straps either straight or with a criss-cross in back, you can wear it strapless, or you can wear it halter style. I love, LOVE this suit and I have NEVER loved a swimsuit.

(I’ve included links for each of these items, but instead of adding photos of the items, I’ve drawn these items. Remember playing with paper dolls as a kid?)

Now, let’s talk coverups:


I have four cover ups shown. They are all different in style and price point, so there is something here for everyone! Although, I have to say that each of these options looks great on me and I do not have a forgiving figure—I am curvy with that long torso and those short legs—so I have to think that each of these would look great on just about anyone!

Let’s start with the white coverup in the upper left corner and then we’ll go clockwise…

  1. This might actually be something you have in your closet already. I love, LOVE to pack a white button-down tunic shirt to use as a swimsuit coverup. I especially like this Crisp Tunic Softened Shirt  from Loft. I’m a big fan of things that can do double-duty in my suitcase, and packing a long white button down is a great piece. Over your swimsuit: roll up the sleeves to a 3/4 length, pop the collar, and button it—or not. After you are finished with pool time, pair this shirt with leggings or skinny jeans for a casual dinner. If your tunic shirt is long enough, belt it, wear it with sandals, and call it a dress. Classic!
  2. Coverup #2 is this Tropical Palm Tunic from Anthropologie. I love the pink palm print on this coverup! It’s great over your swimsuit, of course, but it’s also really cute with skinny white jeans, a pink or black cami (or tank top), and strappy sandals. Again, I love a piece that can go from the beach to pre-dinner cocktails!
  3. Next up is the Pom-Pom Beach Tunic from J.Crew. This is another coverup that works great over white jeans! It’s also really cute half-tucked into shorts (I’m partial to J.Crew’s shorts, too—lots of inseam lengths to fit lots of body styles).
  4. Lastly, this black and white coverup is a total steal. It’s under $15.00 on Amazon! This chiffon coverup is striped in the front and sheer black in the back. It’s a fun, modern slouchy style that looks so effortlessly chic thrown over a swimsuit. And, as I like my suitcase items to really work for me, I also like this piece over a black cami and black skirt. You can do a half tuck if you’d like, but it’s kind of cute over a a body conscious black dress (or the cami and skirt option). Or, wear it over a black cami and white jeans.

Are any of you headed somewhere warm and tropical? If so, I’d love to hear what your beachwear essentials are!


Kari Joy


On Core Values and Instagram…


Hi, dear friends!

Happy Monday! Is anyone else freaking out that it’s already the ninth of November? We are having really amazing weather in New York City and while I can’t complain one bit about that, I will admit that it’s difficult for me to reconcile Thanksgiving being a couple weeks away with the fact that I’m still dashing about town in short sleeves. Anyone out there already finished Christmas shopping? I’ve been working on quite a few custom Christmas designs and have been impressed by how on-the-ball so many of my clients are regarding the holidays.

There are a lot of things in the works behind the scenes over here, but I thought it might be a good time to pop back in on the blog and explain a little about the Kari Joy business. Specifically, let’s chat about core values.

A couple years ago, when I attended my very first Stationery Academy, I was introduced to the idea of core values in my business by the imitable Whitney English. Whitney passionately explained that knowing the core values of oneself should be the starting point for a business and a brand. She told us that we should not begin the branding process without understanding the core values that should drive that brand. This made sense to me. I had recently observed several fellow creatives going through the constant process of rebranding. Many of them would excitedly come out with a great new logo and a new look to their website. There would be a lot of fanfare with this “new brand” and then, about a year later, they’d do it all over again. Sometimes it was because the logo was “too trendy” and had become dated rather quickly. Usually, though, it was because the creative at the helm of that ship was being fickle and was constantly being wooed by the idea of newness.

The constant rebranding, though, was taking its toll on these small creative business. It was difficult for clients to connect to a brand that was constantly changing—it made those businesses seem disconnected with a target audience. People are hesitant to trust a brand that really doesn’t know what it wants to be. At the heart of this was a misunderstanding of what a “brand” really is. Changing your logo and website every six months to a year is time-consuming and confusing to your customer, but even worse is thinking that doing such things is rebranding. That’s really missing the mark altogether.

Whitney warned against any attempts at branding until we knew what five or six things really made us tick. These things, she explained, should be at the center of our respective brands. CORE values. Once we understood those core values, we could make decisions about our business and begin building a brand. This immediately resonated with me. I needed a compass for my business; there are too many interesting and trendy and pretty things out there. Without a real understanding of who I am, I would likely be a trend-follower and miss the opportunity to build a business as unique as I am.

Going through the process of getting down to my core values took some time and brain power (perhaps in another post I’ll share more about that process), but in the long run, I believe this saved time. When it came time to think about the things that would direct my brand, I could always use these values as a rubric. If it doesn’t fit the rubric, it can’t be a part of my business or brand. I honestly wish that more creatives would start here—we’d see so much more unique authenticity! (And I mean REAL authenticity, not the contrived variety we are constantly subjected to by well-meaning folks trying to sell seats at conferences. I feel like we need a new, more meaningful word for “authenticity” in the creative world.) I mean, I think gold glitter and pink tutus and Kate Spade polka dots are are just darling. However, if everyone’s business aesthetic revolves around such elements, we start to grow weary of seeing the same thing.

(Which reminds me—not long ago, I needed to put some content on Instagram. I mentioned this to a friend who recommended I go down to the corner market and get a pink donut with sprinkles because, as we all know, photographing a cute donut is ALL THE RAGE on creative instagram accounts. There were two problems with this. First, the donut photo would not fit into my core values well at all and I do try to post only content that relates to those values. Second, I really dislike donuts. Most of the people who know me well know that I can’t be tempted by a donut AT ALL. So, how silly would it be to have a sprinkled donut with a pithy saying on my instagram just because it’s “all the rage?”)

So, back to my core values. I was able to hone in on six words that define my values. They are:

Grace, Family, Joy, Creativity, Beauty, Adventure

Every photo I post on my instagram account must fall under one of these values. Sometimes it might not be overtly obvious. For instance, “family” doesn’t only refer to those who share my blood. I have some friends who are like family, and I am a member of God’s Family, so there are things that get posted in that manner, too. “Adventure” usually ends up being travel-related but sometimes it refers to a risk of another kind. “Joy” is a pretty broad one—if you know me well, you know that I find joy in a lot of little, otherwise mundane things. “Beauty” can also be broad, but tends to be a lot of posts on gardening and flowers (like the photo above). I mean, aren’t flowers the most beautiful things?! The list goes on and on, but the point is this: These six words inform my business decisions and my social media presence.

Narrowing down and understanding my core values has also helped in another way—a way that has let me give grace to myself. There was a time when I would get very discouraged by “losing followers” on social media. Even though I knew in my heart that that number of followers has no bearing on who I am as a person, it felt like a failure in business when people would decide not to follow me anymore. Having those core values established has given me a much better narrative about this. When I lose followers, I can say, without worry, “I guess my core values didn’t resonate with that person. I hope they are enjoying other positive accounts on instagram!” I can say that and mean it and not worry about whether or not my photo was pretty enough. My core values will not resonate with everyone. It’s okay. It’s actually a better way to connect with my real customer. This is a good thing and I can relax about it. This has especially softened the sting that I have felt when posting something under the “grace” value: I have a deep faith in Jesus Christ. I have been rescued, redeemed, and made radiant by Him! However, not everyone is in the same place as me with this belief and I always lose instagram followers when I am very open about my faith. That used to really sting and I was tempted to pull back and post more “safe” things about my beliefs. However, I need to stay true to my core values and if you know anything about Grace, you know that it is certainly not safe. :)

In summary, if you are a creative business owner, I’d love for you to be encouraged to dig deep and define your core values before you do anything else in your business. You’ll find that it is a great way to be able to relax—you won’t feel compelled to chase every fad and you will be able to confidently demonstrate who you are to your clients. Trust me, clients respond well to this because it establishes trust.

If you aren’t a creative business owner, I hope this helps you understand a little about the Kari Joy brand! I’d love to see you join me on instagram (@KariJoyHodgen) where I share a lot about what inspires me. I also always share my sneak peeks for new products on instagram, so you’ll be the first to know!

Thanks for checking in, friends!


Kari Joy


Three Cheers! Introducing the Kari Joy Shop…


Hi, friends!

Today is the day. The Kari Joy Shop is finally live. Hooray!

I’m so excited to share some of the things I’ve been working on illustration-wise. Today, there are 25 products in the shop to choose from. In the next couple weeks, however, that number will grow as I add quite a few new things for the holidays AND add offerings for some illustration projects. If you like what you see, I would sure appreciate you sharing my site with a friend or two. There is no better compliment AND it sure helps out a small business (and I am a very, very small business).

As I settle into this Shop thing, I’d LOVE to know what kinds of things you would like to see in the shop. Larger print sizes? More art prints? More Christmas cards? More party invites? I am constantly drawing—what kinds of illustrations do you want to see? I’d love to hear! And, while I make no promises that every suggestion will be implemented, I will promise to listen and consider how those requests might make their way into the Shop.

As I sign off today, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a big THANK YOU to the friends and family who have been so encouraging as I get this Shop up and running. Also, to the friends who dashed to their computer this morning to place an order in the Shop: you’re the best. It feels awesome to know that I’ve created something that another person enjoys.

Have a lovely day, each of you, and thanks for checking in!


Kari Joy