Wednesday 19 December 2012

Quiet Book Closure...LITERALLY!!

Hi there! I'm feeling rather satisfied right now. I have done what I have been meaning to do for a whole year. It's a little rough. It's far from perfect. But it is DONE! My daughter's Quiet Book cover. Completed in time for Christmas 2012. Huzzah!

Saturday 15 December 2012

eNewsletter Giveaway

I have got to say, last night's BrisStyle indie Twilight Market was the best market I have ever been to. There was such a great festive vibe, and plenty of people coming through. I got to share a table with the lovely Sharyn from Gutsy Girl Art. And to top it off, I was not expecting to see any on my friends outside of the BrisStyle community, but saw quite a few after all! Including a lovely friend of mine from high school who came and hung out for the last hour or so, and even helped me close a few sales. (Thanks, Karen!)

Thanks to all who made purchases, it is truly exciting to see things I've designed and created going to new homes. But do you know what satisfied me most of all? Watching people's reactions as they walked past the stall. Of course, plenty of people walked straight past, but there were many who stopped and squealed with delight - either at the rain cloud brooches, or the dress brooches, or even the embroidery hoop art pieces. I just loved seeing those reactions! I loved the exclamations of, "Oh, that is SO CUTE!" and "KAWAII!!" and seeing people do a double take for a second look...I loved seeing people smile in reaction to my little pieces of wearable art. So thank you, to all of you, for making my night so memorable!

Okay. Down to business. Another GIVEAWAY!! You can win...drum roll please...drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...a Dress Up Doll Brooch with four outfits - entirely custom made just for you! You can be in the running just by signing up to my brand new eNewsletter here. You get to choose the doll's hair, skin, and eye colour, as well as each of her dresses -  style and colour! Feel free to share the news with your friends.

Good luck! Perhaps you will win! (Giveaway open internationally, and will be drawn mid January)

Thursday 6 December 2012

The Green Eyed Monster Strikes Again

One thing I have noticed in this online game - blogging, selling on Etsy, being on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest...the Green Eyed Monster is always lurking, reading to pounce. Have you noticed it? It looks something like this...

Scenario 1: Sitting at your laptop, doing the first online check of the day. Log on to Facebook, Etsy, email, etc. Facebook...Oh, wow, look at that. [Friend]'s child is already [insert activity that your child is not yet doing]. Good for her!

And at first, you genuinely mean it. You are truly happy and uplifted by the sight of cute little tot doing cute things. But then that Green Eyed Monster pounces and you feel just a bit blah. If you're good at the whole meta-cognition thing, you might notice yourself thinking "Why does her kid always do things [sooner/better/faster/neater/with more flair] than mine?" which might lead to "What am I doing wrong? Am I a bad mother? I don't spend enough time with my kids. I'm just not good enough!" Sound familiar?

Scenario 2: Looking at Instagram on your phone. Scanning through food photos, sunrise photos, kids doing funny things photos...then you see it. Oh. My. Gosh. [Another online seller] is posting off 15 parcels today? Wow! Good on her, she must be doing well! 

Again, you do genuinely feel happy for her. But it's not long before the Green Eyed Monster starts gnawing at your insides. "She is ALWAYS posting items off. Why does she sell so much and I try so hard but can't seem to make more than a sale or two per month? I mean, I know her work is really lovely, but I think mine is too!" which might lead to "What am I doing wrong? Is my stuff just rubbish? Does nobody truly like my work? Am I wasting my time? Maybe I'm just not good enough!" Come on, be honest and tell me, does this ever happen to you?

Have you ever noticed the Green Eyed Monster sneaking up on you while you trawl the world of Social Media? What do you do about it? Have you ever noticed that comparison seems to reap nothing but dissatisfaction and self-doubt? How do you navigate the online world without giving way to the Green Eyed Monster?

  1. For me personally, I know that self-awareness is a big first step. Acknowledging [like I am in this post] that I struggle with this. 
  2. Secondly, reminding myself that comparison that leads to the old "I'm just not good enough" story is not very helpful. There are helpful ways of comparing myself, but I must be very wary to ward off the Green Eyed Monster. 
For example, I can choose a few shops that I see as successful shops to learn from. I can look at their business practices, their use of social media, their way of marketing their products, and from looking, I can see what is working for them. Of course, the goal of all of this observation is not to copy, but to learn the principles that are working and adjust them to suit my own personal business, style, and time constraints.

This is important to note. I LOVE the embroidery work of Dandelyne, for example. Sonia, the lovely woman behind the store, is vivacious, charismatic and a little bit wacky! She does a wonderful job of creating quality pieces, and her brand strong and style is unique and recognisable. She is one that I absolutely marvel at, when I see on Instagram that she has 56 orders to get out. But when the Green Eyed Monster threatens to start on me, I remind myself that there is no way I could possibly begin to handle 56 orders before Christmas!! Her kids are at school, and while that presents different challenges, it does allow more time, so she is able to take on more work. I just physically cannot do that much at this point in time, and there is no point wishing I could! 

And back to the friends of Facebook scenario...I have found for myself that rather than comparing myself with my friends (or my kids with my friends' kids), it is much more useful for myself and for my friendships that I ask my friends directly what they are doing, and how they are doing it. Not to make myself in their image, but to learn from them if there are skills I am lacking, and to recognise the differences that are just circumstantial, personality-based, or values-based. We are all different, and that's the way it should be. 

God tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice,  and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). We can't do that if we are too busy being consumed by what we think they have that we want. The Green Eyed Monster is a master of illusion, and usually has us tricked into seeing things very differently than they actually are.

So when I notice that Green Eyed Monster sneaking up on me, I can throw it off the trail by:
  • celebrating differences
  • doing something special for that particular friend
  • asking my friend about how she is managing - and really getting to know her for who she is
  • looking at my own life and thinking about where my own behaviours are vastly different from my values, and focusing on what I need to do to change that (with God's help)
  • praying for my friend - for absolute and total blessing over every area of their life
  • surrendering my feelings of jealousy to God and asking Him to replace them with love
I know several of my strategies are faith-based ones, which may not resonate with you personally. I'd love to know how you deal with this issue? What strategies do you use? 

Christmas Markets

Hi lovelies!

Just a little reminder for those of you readers who actually happen to live in the Brisbane, Queensland, Australia area (my stats show you are in the minority here). Two BrisStyle Christmas Markets are coming up in the next two weeks.

Firstly, the BrisStyle indie Designer Markets this Saturday, 8th December at St. Augustine's Church at Hamilton. All the details, including market line-up here and the Facebook event page here.

Secondly, the BrisStyle indie Twilight Markets next Friday, 14th December at King George Square, Brisbane City. Details here and Facebook event page here.

There will be plenty of lovely, quality handmade goodies to get your hands on in time for Christmas. You can do all your Christmas shopping in one place, and support local handmade makers in the process. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Latest Kids' Artwork Embroideries

The recent kids' artworks that I have transformed into embroidered hoop art.

This first one was drawn by my customer when she was three - she is giving it to someone close to her as a gift.

This second one was the first recognisable drawing of a people done by a little friend of my Miss Three. It's a picture of her (the draw-er) and her Daddy. It is to be a gift for said Daddy for Christmas.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Embroidered Dutch Houses

Recently, my hubby and I had a little kid-free overnight getaway. The cute little cottage we stayed in had this great crockery set with gorgeous illustrations on them.

They inspired me to sketch a little design to embroider. I of course chose red linen initially, then the lovely Jane of Planet Joy asked if I would do one for her on a blue fabric. I am rather happy with how that one turned out too. What do you think? Which do you prefer?

(Available on Etsy or at the upcoming BiDM this weekend or BiTM next Friday)

Sunday 2 December 2012

Let's Meet: Becca Koopmans of Wear Love Now!

Hi friends! I've got a lovely treat for you today! An interview with a lovely and talented artisan that I "met" through Etsy. I'm excited to share her story with you today. Enjoy!

Please introduce yourself and a tell us a little about what you do:

I’m Becca Koopmans. I’m a stay-at-home-mum of four kiddos in the midwest of the United States and I run a little cottage industry of upcycled clothes called Wear Love Now.

 How did your Etsy shop get started?

My heart was pregnant with a lot of different ideas and issues when Wear Love Now was born. Some of the contributing factors were the image issues that I had struggled with finally coming to rest in my own personal style. As a busy mum of four I often struggled just to get a shower, let alone put on an outfit that matched. This frustration took me to my faith in God, where I learned wearing love was way more important than wearing clothes in vogue. “Regardless of what you put on, wear love...” Colossians 3:14, became my daily dress code. Other factors included good stewardship with thrifting, a creative outlet with sewing and a flexible family schedule.

How did you get started with your sewing skills?

This is a bit embarrassing to admit. Though I come from a heritage of pattern followers and excellent seamstresses...when I was in middle school home economics, I stapled the hem to my final dress project and transferred to woodworking shop...where I scored an A+ (probably because I was the shop teacher’s babysitter). All that to say, my art has always been there in various forms...but, sewing skills I had to learn as an adult. When I became excited about upcycling clothes, my Dad bought me a sewing machine and I asked an outstanding seamstress in our area to give me some private lessons. Whenever I would hit a glitch in my vision versus skill she came to my rescue. And now, I’m quite proud of my set of skills that make my art come alive.

What do you love most about your job?

One of the biggest surprise gifts of selling my clothes on Etsy is the friendship factor. I pursued selling on Etsy following a difficult health crisis of our youngest daughter who has a progressive neurological disorder. My normal venue for interaction and friendship became more and more limited as her medical needs increased. I never anticipated the treasure house of friends in Etsy sellers (especially Homespunsociety Teammates) and in Etsy buyers...literally around the world.

I also love that when I sit and sew, or pin something, or sort through one of my baskets, one or more of my kids are right next to me...humming, drawing, or sewing a button on a bookmark....I love that. I also love creating the’s like art with my sewing machine for me...pure joy.

What inspires you?

Good artwork, especially by French Impressionists; beautiful music; nature, well-written books; friends; family; strong coffee; inspiring conversations; history; vintage style; bohemian style; designers creating outside of the box and my faith in God.

Could you please describe how the artistic process flows for you...from initial concept design to completed product?

The process varies with different pieces of clothes, but, typically it begins with the main item I want to use. I purchase items for their quality, possibilities and versatility. And then I set the top ones, the ones I’m most excited to use next, on a table and start putting lace out, material on top, twisting seams in various places, etc. Usually the longest part is gaining the inspiration...and it also is the most exciting, because I choose to wait until I get the ‘aha’ idea for each piece. Then, once I get my ‘aha’ idea, I consider the best plan for tweaking each piece and begin the cutting and pasting, so to speak...also a very fun stage as I get to see it come together. Then I let it set a day and come back to it for any last adjustments or additions. Finally, I take pictures using a barn door my husband put up for me in our backyard.

What’s the biggest challenge for you in the artistic process?

Probably my biggest challenge is balancing my to-do lists for my family and my shop. And another is, when my heart is heavy with some issue or another, creativity can’t be forced.

What does an average day look like for you?

My days begin early...I love to get up and exercise and then spend some quiet time reading and praying before all the breakfast chaos begins. My husband and kids are typically happy that’s a great thing in our home. Mari rides a small handicapped bus to school with her wheelchair, our twin boys, Steven and Schyler, ride with my husband on his way to work and then I walk my oldest daughter, Liesel, to the bus stop.
Usually I check my shop early in the morning before for the kids are up or after they get off to school to see if any packages need to go out, any questions need to be answered or anything updated. Often, I go into my sewing spot and work on a few items. Depending on each day, I pick Mari up early from school, she goes an hour to a few hours. Then, she and I spend time reading and playing and then she takes a rest while I work on home life, sewing or Etsy teamwork.

When the other kiddos get home...homework, supper and life take a front seat with my time. I’m not a night person, so I’ve learned the hard way, with a seam ripper, that sewing after the kids are in bed isn’t a good idea, but I still check in on Etsy.

Any advice for those thinking of pursuing their artistic dreams?

Dreams are really important in life. Hang onto your dreams...but, realise they may take a different form or fruition timing may be different than you picture...and that’s usually best in the long run. Listen to those who love you when you consider your dreams...including God....he’s made a lot of mine brighter and bigger than I ever imagined!

Where can you see more of your work?

Thank you so much, Becca, for sharing with us!


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