The other day I went to the mall and felt pretty nauseated by it. Too many people, too many sales, too much materialism. With the holidays approaching (cough, Black Friday, cough) I think it's important to think about shopping local and supporting small businesses. It's like that one quote goes "when you support a small business there's a human doing a happy dance for every purchase".
I have so many talented friends who have little online stores and create their own amazing products, the holiday time is perfect for supporting them. I figured I'd put together a little gift guide with a few of my current favourites.
Being self-employed I often times feel like a freelance worrier instead of warrior. Aiming for the latter I created these tall notepads to make you feel boss as you write down your daily tasks and to-dos. Cause being organized and crossing things off of my to-do list, now that makes me feel like a warrior! Excited to have finally launched my mini etsy store with this notepad, and also a "getting shit done" one.
I am obsessed with all of Alexa's photography work and recently had a chance to design the catalogue for her brand new Solstice Series collection. This is a limited edition collection available until early December so you can get all your holiday orders in. The above solstice print is definitely my favourite and I only wish I had more wall space to buy it for myself!
Chipper Things is a super fun online store by my friend Becky Simpson. I have quite a few of her prints hanging throughout my house and select thank you, wedding and birthday cards of her's handy for whenever an event comes up. This "nope" tote is my top pick from the store, it's large and my go-to when I'm heading out of the house. And just because I can't share just one product from Chipper Things, make sure you also check out these amazing modest pinup girl card set.
This is a biased pick, since I was the designer behind this product! The Focus Journal is designed to increase productivity and help you achieve your goals while balancing work, happiness and well-being. All journals are currently in production and shipping out in December, just in time for the holidays. Plus, who wouldn't want a brand new task-focused journal to start off the new year as productive and organized as possible?
The Five 15 is another local store and I've bought more products than I'd want to admit from her, both for myself and friends! Her selection of pins, patches, keychains and more make the perfect gift or stocking stuffer. I proudly wear my All The Feels pin around town!
I feel like I don't wear necklaces too much anymore, but my Marlowe Beads piece has been a consistent go-to piece throughout the past year. I love the colour combinations Fiona comes up with and how the necklace can easily be worn to dress up even the plainest of outfits. Perfect for gift giving and I believe she may even make custom orders!
I didn't mean to post two journals in one gift guide round-up, but when I saw the design for this new moon journal I got kind of excited. I don't really know much about mooon phases or zodiac signs, but I am in luck! This journal is perfect for both the moon-curious and the seasoned moon-enthusiast alike.
How cute is this little elephant mama and baby? I have two of the paper lamps myself, a penguin and a turtle, and am super happy with them. Especially during the darker winter days they make my living room feel much livelier. These origami-inspired paper lamps are shipped flat, as DIY kits. Yes, that means you have to put together your own product, but it's super fun and makes it feel extra special.
I first discovered Uno+Ichi on instagram and fell in love with their little nina y chico planters, available in two sizes. As an aspiring potter myself I loved the detail the girls were putting into their various products. I also have to say that watching their instagram stories is the best thing ever. The girls are super down to earth, hilarious and silly, with super contagious laughs. Besides recommending their shop I'd say you should definitely follow them on instagram as well.
Just in time for the holidays Emma has launched her little online shop with a bunch of beautiful handmade products. All are either hand-lettered or painted patterns on tea towels, cards, and prints. I'm especially loving the patterned tea towels, they look much nicer than my current ikea ones, plus, you could creatively wrap a present in it! Win win win!
Hope these little online shops inspired you to support small businesses this holiday season. Keep in mind that christmas is right around the corner so you'll want to get your orders in soon. What are some brands that are inspiring you or you are enjoying lately? Where will you be doing your holiday shopping this year?
(alternate titles for this post…)
How to improve your Pinterest Profile
From 4000 to 120000
How to get a Pinterest Following
Pinterest! Gimme Followers!!!
20+ easy steps to get more Pinterest Followers
Pinning in Style
Grow Your Brand on Pinterest
or my personal favourite….
Pin like a Bad-Ass
I’ve always enjoyed Pinterest. It’s a great (as well as sometimes dangerous) tool. I’d spend hours gathering inspiration and finding super-duper awesome stuff, only to come back to it a few weeks later and have no idea where I had pinned stuff or seen it. At this time I only had about 9 boards, most of them way too general and with random quirky names. Since I use Pinterest a lot for work related stuff, aka design goodness, I figured a more organized approach, as in more detailed design boards, might be a good thing to explore. I went in, created a few design specific ones, such as branding, poster inspiration, layout, typography, hand type and web. I also finally decided to get rid of the quirky names and stick with names that made sense and would be easy for other pinners to find. I spend a few evenings moving some stuff around from the old to the new boards and getting organized.
Things finally made sense! By having everything in it’s proper pin-drawer I could easily navigate through them and know where to find that super duper awesome image I had seen that I really wanted to share with my new client. I continued happily pinning and suddenly noticed my follower number was going up. At this point I was at roughly 4500 followers. Excited with the visible growth, I went through all my boards, not just the design ones, and rearranged everything. I figured if I was already spending all this time on Pinterest, I may as well do it right! My design section now had 11 distinct boards, photography got broken up into an additional 3, collage finally had it’s own home, separate from illustration work. Noticing a significant increase in followers I decided to make Pinterest my new pet project. I looked around to some of my fellow design idols and bloggers, checked how many followers they had and decided I wanted just as many. It was pretty arbitrary but I just needed some sort of concrete goal to work towards. Sometimes a little friendly competition is all you need!
A year later, I now have 120000+ followers, with a very strong design presence. By actively doing certain things, and avoiding others, my following started growing. Pinterest isn’t a one-time thing, you need to keep going at it, but once I reached a certain amount of followers it sort of kept growing consistently on it’s own. If you do any sort of creative work, have a blog or portfolio, or sell products Pinterest can be a huge traffic driver. Although I don’t blog a lot and therefore don’t have too much content that links back to me, I do get quite a bit of daily traffic coming through to my site from Pinterest, which is awesome. You can get a great feel of someone’s style by scrolling through their feed, which is great for us visual people. A potential client may come across your feed and reach out to hire you just because of your strong Pinterest presence.
A few months ago some of my friends who had noticed my recent Pinterest spurt wanted to know how I got there so I figured it was about time I sat down and listed some of the things I did to get there. I did some research and checked out what other people did to increase their following and decided to include those as well. It’s a long list and I myself don’t always do all of these all the time, however I find it helpful to read over all of these key points to keep in mind for future pinning-sprees.
- Organize! You know how you can easily change the name of your boards? Well guess what, you can change the order of them too, by simply dragging them around. Why is this awesome? My strongest and most active boards are my design ones. By re-arranging them and bringing them to the top it is the first thing people see on my profile. My weaker boards that I don’t use a lot, such as my cooking inspiration and recipes is at the very bottom.
- Know what’s inside. Make sure your boards reflect what is inside. If your board is called “interior inspiration” I will expect to see exactly that. Do you notice yourself pinning other things, such as architecture to it every so often? Maybe it is time to create a separate board for that. Keep your boards clean.
- Keep the name simple. Like I previously mentioned, it may be fun to to have a quirky name for your board. “A to z” could be fun for a typography board, but how effective is it? By having simple and straightforward names on your boards they are more likely to show up when someone searches for it.
- Categorize similar boards together. Since I have several design categories I decided to name them cohesively. Each design board has the tag “design” in it, for example “design: branding + logos”, “design: layout + editorial”, “design: typography”…
- It’s all about the visuals. In order to make your Pinterest page look more tidy change your board covers. Although I go crazy over colour I am more of a black&white person most of the time, so I decided to change all my board covers to something primarily black and white. You can do anything you like here and come up with your own theme or even upload custom board covers. Don’t be afraid to switch up the featured imagery every so often. Keep it fresh!
- Don’t let it collect dust. When creating a new board don’t forget to populate it! You don’t need to go nuts and add 100+ images to it right away, but keep growing it. If you have it sitting around with 5 images for the longest time maybe it’s not worth having around. It’ll just serve as a distraction to some of your better boards.
- Stay true to you. When making new boards and pinning, don’t got crazy and just pin everything. Keep your own brand and identity in mind and make sure it is reflected across all your social channels.
- “Like” a pin as a pending place. Not sure if a certain pin reflects your brand? You can always “like” it, which will add it to your profile but not send it out to your followers. You can easily revisit your “like” page and either leave them there, un-“like” them, or finally commit to them and officially pin them to one of your boards.
- Pin accurately. If you are really excited about your new blog post don’t pin it’s image to all your boards to increase your chance of a click through. Pin it to wherever makes sense. I do occasionally pin one image to two boards, if I feel like it could easily go in either one, however I don’t really encourage you to do it very often. It can easily start feeling spammy, especially if they are product driven.
- Be descriptive in your pin description. It’s easy to just re-pin something with the default copy, but pay some attention to it. Sometimes people pin things with their personal opinion written underneath. You may look back at some point and notice some pins that say things you don’t agree with. Again, by having a proper and accurate description, you are more likely to be picked up in searches
- Looking for something? Is there something you often times look for on Pinterest and have a very hard time finding? Create your own board for it! I’ve always had a soft spot for editorial and layout design. I could easily find web mock-ups and site layouts but struggled finding actual printed pieces. That’s how my design: editorial + layout board came to be.
- Follow individual boards as opposed to entire profiles. At one point I noticed myself getting a little bored with my own Pinterest feed. I was following too many pinners/boards who were showcasing imagery I wasn’t interested in or cluttering my feed with products. If you noticed this go in and unfollow a bunch of stuff. I cleaned up my feed and actively went out looking for more interesting design boards to follow.
- Follow who they follow. If there are certain followers you like go in and peek at who they follow, chances are you will be into the same boards/people and you may discover some new hidden treasures.
- Don’t just be a re-pinner. Get off of Pinterest and get pins from outside of Pinterest. My home feed can easily get repetitive so I go searching for inspiration elsewhere.
- Vertical wins. As everybody knows, generally vertical images work better then horizontal ones as they show up larger. If you notice a collection of both on someones post, maybe go ahead and pin the vertical one instead.
- Don’t flood. I am really guilty of this since I often times pin while I am taking a break from work or in the evening while watching TV. Try to somewhat space out your pinning so you are not flooding your followers feeds.
- Automatically populate a pin description. If you highlight copy in an article before clicking the little browser “Pin-it”, the highlighted text will automatically pop into your pin description.
- Where does it go to? One thing no one pays attention to is where these pins lead back to. Especially if you are pinning for a company, be very careful with this. Someone I know was pinning for a wedding blog and was looking through nice pictures of couples to add to one of the brand’s boards. What she didn’t realize is that the image lead through to an article with very strong feelings towards same-sex marriage. One blog reader noticed this and send them a very nasty e-mail. The blog didn’t agree with anything the article said but because it linked to it, with a pretty image, they were sending out the wrong message. I am not saying you need to click on every single pin, but it’s just something to be wary of.
Lastly a few more specific things to make sure all this Pinterest-pinning also leads back to your own site…
- Make sure your URL is in your Pinterest profile.
- Make sure you are pining from your own site!
- When pinning from you own site, add a short description and your URL to it.
- But also make sure you don’t just pin your own stuff.
- Don’t forget, vertical usually wins!
- Make sure the pins link back to the accurate page.
- Add images to your blog posts so you can pin something.
- Feel free to go through some old posts and either improve or add images.
- If you sell products or do very nice illustrations, consider having a board dedicated solely to your work.
- Add a “pin-it” option to the images on your site.
- Check out your Pinterest analytics every so often, they might bring in some great insight. Also see who is pinning what from your site by going to http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com
- Include your Pinterest metrics in your media kit.
- Take advantage of the seasons and create new boards every so often to keep things fresh.
- Get creative and collaborate with a fellow bloggers and make a group board.
- Last but not least, make sure people know you are on Pinterest! Have a link on your portfolio/blog/shop and let your followers on your other social channels know.
Once you reach a decent amount of followers don’t get too excited, thinking you can start charging all your favourite retailers for pinning their products. Pinterest actually has a lot of rules in place about getting paid for pinning stuff. They want to make sure Pinterest remains a creative and inspirational hub, without turning into a traffic and commission based platform.
I hope you are able to adapt some of these tid-bits to your own pinning habits and slowly start growing your own following. Keep in mind that Pinterest also has an app for iPad and iPhone. Sometimes a cup of tea, your favourite TV show and Pinterest on your iPad can make for the perfect winter evening.
I have to point out that these are things that worked for me personally and helped me gain a great following, however it is by no means a guarantee to immediate Pinterest popularity.
A few weeks ago I finished up my wheel throwing class. I had so much fun exploring creativity outside of the computer and getting my hands dirty with clay. I won’t lie, the learning process of wheel throwing can, as anything that is new to you, be a bit frustrating. It takes a lot of practice to get the right feel for it. First up you need to be able to properly centre your pieces on the wheel. Then you need to be able to bring it up evenly. If you’ve kind of managed those first steps you still need to form your piece and later on trim it. It wasn’t always easy and I am by no means a pro at it but I enjoyed it. I’m busy planning a few summer weekend get-aways so wheel throwing number 2 is on hold, however I am hoping to take another class in the fall.
One of my favourite parts of the class was actually the glazing process. The glazes you apply to your clay actually end up looking COMPLETELY different once they get fired. Although you can look at samples and attempt to plan a little, the results will definitely be a surprise. I love the different effects you can achieve, depending on how long you dip your pieces for and how you overlay them onto each other.
Here are a few pictures of some of my favourite little awkwardly shaped mugs and vases. They are totally useable such is awesome, just a little small! When I take this class again I am hoping to get a few decent sized coffee mugs going. Sorry the last picture is blurry. It was the only one I had of that vase and I didn’t want to go out and re-shoot it again, in different lighting. I especially love the colour combo of the neutrals underneath the blue.
I’ve dedicated a whole Pinterest board to pottery and ceramics pieces if you are looking for some inspiration!
The lovely Eimy from Eimy & Co had me over on her newly designed blog this week for a little coffee date. We talked a little about how I best like my coffee and what has been inspiring me lately. Click on over to read the whole thing here.
I feel like my work-routine changes along with the seasons. Winter was a tough one because it was so cold and grey out. Now that the days are longer and brighter I find it a bit easier to get out of bed in the morning. Although I am not a morning person, mornings are 100% my productive time and I am fully using this to my advantage. After I wake up I often have breakfast and go straight to work, pjs included! Usually halfway through the morning I give myself a quick break to shower and actually get dressed.
I usually don’t fuel up on coffee till later in the morning or at lunch time. Coffee kind of gives me that boost I need after my morning work pow-wow to help me get through the rest of the day. It feels so good to finally settle into a routine that works for me.
One of my challenges for myself this year was to get away from my computer more and explore new creative outlets. A few weeks ago I joined a wheel throwing for beginners class and it’s been pretty awesome. I had tried it out once very briefly while visiting a studio a few years ago and knew that it was not going to be easy. Just like anything else there is a bit of a learning curve but you slowly start getting into the swing of it.
I’ve been gathering a ton of pottery inspiration lately and came across Small Spells on Instagram. Small Spells is located in Brooklyn, NY, and operated by the talented Rachel Howe. I was immediately drawn to her quirky designs, simple patterns and highly recommend you follow her on Instagram, her feed does not disappoint. If you want to see more of Rachel’s work hop on over to her shop here.
I look forward to finishing up this wheel throwing class and hopefully sharing some of the results with you. I am a total newbie so my bowls and mugs look nothing like the ones shown below. In the meantime you can keep up with my inspiration on my new pottery + ceramics Pinterest board.
The days are starting to get longer and the sunshine is coming out more often, but nonetheless it’s still cold, windy and even rainy outside. I always feel like February is the hardest month of the year. You sort of put up with winter from October-December. January rolls around and you’re distracted by the fact that it’s a new year and you focus on a bunch of new resolutions. Suddenly you look at your calendar, it’s February, and you realize summer is still not in sight. Luckily March is just around the corner, I am hoping it will bring lots of sunshine and warmer days with it.
I recently bought some tubed watercolours, as opposed to the solid palettes. It’s definitely a different feel and I am having fun experimenting with it (see above). Nothing like a little bit of watercolour art-therapy to lift your spirits, right?
A few months ago I took the Personal Branding e-course with the lovely ladies over at Braid Creative. The course is all about defining that magical middle ground for creatives where your personal and your business persona meet. I learnt a bunch of little things I can do to bring more of “me” to my business and vice versa. One of the little exercises we were asked to do was to define our personal fashion style. The way you look and present yourself says a lot about your personality, and therefore, also a lot about your business.
Over the past few years I have fully embraced my artsy side, buying brightly coloured items and patterned whimsical shirts to add to my closet. Lately though, I feel a lot more attracted to the simple things. There is definitely a trend towards “simplicity” happening. My pinterest is being showered with both minimalist graphic and interior design and a bunch of bloggers are talking about minimizing their lifestyle and wardrobe. For once it’s a trend I am very happy to be following along with.
I now like to define my style as simple, with neutral and versatile pieces, with a tiny bit of edge/badass-ness (aka boots!!) or an artsy accessory. I’ve slowly started streamlining my closet and everything is starting to fit together much easier. I have not fully given up on colours and patterns, but instead of wearing a bright and busy shirt I am bringing colour into my wardrobe through a smaller statement pieces or accessory.
I’ve never been a huge shopping gal, but now especially I like to really think my purchases through. Does a certain item match the style I am trying to move towards? By minimizing my closet and no longer impulse-shopping I am very happy to spend more money on higher quality pieces, as opposed to buying lots of cheap and low quality pieces. Quality over quantity!
Above are a few pieces that have caught my eye lately that I feel are very much inline with my new personal brand I am building for myself. If you are digging this new trend make sure to pop on over to Cuyana and read through their Lean Closet Movement series. I am about halfway though myself and loving all the insights.
I’ve been keeping my eyes open for design/blogging/web conferences lately, hoping to attend at least a few. I’ve had my eyes on Alt Summit for a while now. As much as I’d love to attend I’d have to pay for the conference itself, travel fair and accommodation. I know the knowledge I’d acquire and the connections I would make would be worth it, but it still felt like a big chunk for my brain to plan out.
Late april, on my way home from work, I was sitting on the bus scrolling through my twitter feed and came across alt for everyone. It’s alt but it’s online. Yes, you can attend alt no matter where you are AND you can wear your pjs. Perfect. Without much hesitation I paid the (surprisingly low) fee and got excited for my weekend of learning.
I got extra giddy when I found out that Joy Cho from OhJoy would be doing the keynote speech. I’ve been following OhJoy for a few years now and am a big fan of her blog, design work and books! As was to expected Joy’s keynote speech “The Art of Being a Goal Getter” was incredibly inspirational and motivating. Joy shared her details about her entrepreneur past – from age thirteen when she attempted to start her own calligraphy business and failed miserably – to now – a successful blogger, author and designer. Here are a few of the things I learnt from Joy
- YOU CANNOT WAIT AROUND FOR IT.
- You have to want it.
- Set your goals.
- Do your research.
- Put together a presentation that shines.
- “No” is not the end of the world.
The only person who will make your dreams come true is you.
Tell me what you want. What you really, really want. (the Spice Girls were totally onto something with this tune)
Even if they seem crazy, the higher the better.
Who or what will be the best fit to accomplish your goals? Surround yourself with the people that support you.
How will you show your ideas & convince someone of them? People won’t know what you can do for them until you show them.
You won’t always get what you want but it will pave the way for something else (Maybe even something better).
Inspired and ready to go tackle my goals and dreams I got my designer glasses on and made a graphic of my favourite tidbit from Joy’s speech (see above). One light, one dark I decided to make these downloadable wallpapers available for your desktop as well as your ipad and iphone. Simply select your device below, right click and save to your computer.
Working from a home office can get kinda lonely. I am usually blasting music or have tv shows playing in the background to keep me company. I would love to work at a coffee shop but…I’m pretty sure I would get way too distracted people-watching.
I was just browsing through Jess Lively’s blog who posted a perfect solution to this problem. It’s called coffitivity. Click play and you instantly have a subtle and non-distracting coffee shop in your house. Well, minus the coffee that is.
It’s late on a sunday night right now and the last thing I want to do it work but I can’t wait to try it during the week. Random yet awesome idea.
Do you guys listen to music while you work? What do your tunes sound like?
I took the above photo during my latest Portugal trip. Now that’s a country with good coffee!
I was reading an article about the history of pantone and how the whole concept of creating a universal colour system even came to be. Fun little read on The New York Times website.
The article also talks about how pantone decides what the pantone of the year is going to be. Lisa Herbert, daughter of the pantone founder, explains: “We travel the world and shop the trade shows and look at awards shows and what’s coming down the runway. We also track the sales of our swatches to designers — so we know about the popularity of the colors.”
Emerald 17-5641 is the winner for 2013; elegant, radiant and harmonious. Although not an exact match it gets pretty close to that light minty colour we have all been seeing so much of lately (including my recently re-design business cards). In celebration of this years pantone I cruised through Etsy and picked out a few of my favourites (you can shop the links below).
If your craving a little something yummy check out these edible pantone tarts, what delicious tart-topping would emerald be? Maybe something minty?
My boyfriend is taking an online Canadian literature class as one of electives…boring. He had to do a “class presentation”, which basically means writing a long essay, adding a few pictures and publishing it online for the other students to read and review. He needed to publish it somewhere to we made a hidden page on my site.
Since publishing it I’ve noticed that my site has been getting a lot of search hits for Morley Callaghan and his story Watching and Waiting. I figured I’d move it over to the blog to make it more accessible and so that whoever may be interested could comment or give feedback.
If you happend to have read the story Watching and Waiting it’s actually pretty interesting, so feel free to have a read through and enjoy. (above photo was taken by me in Cranbrook a few years ago)
I have a good handful of blogs I am in a committed relationship with; they post daily, I read them daily. And then there are a ton of other blogs I follow.
In the past I just hit up my fav finds by memory, but as I started finding new blogs I needed to get a system in place. I tried bookmarks but…they got out of hand way too long ago. I used to bookmark sites whenever I thought they were remotely interesting, so as you can imagine I have a gazillion links in my bookmarks.
I found myself with two choices:
- clean up my current bookmarks disaster
- or start from scratch
I choose the lazy route and gave bloglovin a shot. Bloglovin is an amazing alternative blog reader. It’s so simple to use, easy navigation with a clean and neutral design. It’s great to now have all recent blog posts displayed in one organized feed.
The other awesome part is that you can create folders for the different blogs you follow. Every morning I check out my “daily blogs”. Throughout the morning I scroll through the “design blogs” I follow, and later in the day I go through any of the other folders that are intriguing me.
If you have a blog yourself you can add it to this growing community and assign it to a bloglovin category for increased traffic.
I recently watched The Royal Tennenbaums. It was one of those movies where, after I watch it I love it so much I wonder why it’s taken me so long to watch it in the first place…..And how awesome is the vivid zebra wallpaper on this umbrella which Bri has.
I’ve signed up for a few classes at Langara College to get my Web Marketing Certificate. Very excited to get back to school. I’m going to be a total nerd.poster, photo
I absolutely loved this video from The Australian Ballet, it even gave me chills. Beautiful cinematography, details and sound.
I found this amazing video on We See Rainbow’s Blog. I don’t actually know Alex but I feel like we would be good friends if we did meet. Her and I are instagram buddies and she’s made some awesome DIY contributions for Design Love Fest, make sure you check them out!
Ok, so that was cheesy.
Last year Oskar and I started taking on clients who need websites. I wouldn’t call myself a super-fancy-pants-web-pro but the amount of web skills I’ve acquired even impress me.
I re-designed my portfolio site and got sick of my blogspot blog. Getting more comfortable with coding and the ways of wordpress I decided to re-do my entire blog.
So yeah…..this is my blog now. Not going to lie, I’m not going to be blogging like every day now but if I come across something cool I’ll share it and I’ll keep posting recent photography and design work so come and check back every now and then.
Image: Jill Greenberg “Glass Ceiling” paintings