Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eye Candy - Liselotte Weller's happy pictures

A few years ago, I chanced upon Liselotte’s website and fell in love with her bright and happy illustrations right away. They are so quirky and full of beans that you’ll wish you could dive right into the pictures and live out your life in full colour and cute stories.

Liselotte Weller has been designing since 1984, and for over 10 years, been working as a Sign Language Interpreter during the day. “In the evenings I have been working with the love and passion of my life - the interpretation of words and emotions with colors and shapes.”

Married with two children, she lives in Aalborg, Denmark, and loves to bake, cook and fly kites in her free time. 



Fuzzy, woollie



Images: Liselotte Weller

Eye Candy - The Red River's new collection

There is so much prettiness all around. And, there are so many people, who are living their dream, creating these pretty things and helping others. Kakoli Das of The Red River is one such person. Ebullient and enthusiastic with oodles of chutzpah, this young entrepreneur with her feisty team runs a company that works with the weavers of Assam, creating an exclusive range of home furnishings and organic jewellery. She retails online as well as from a store in Bangalore

People…you gotta see their latest collection. Aptly named Alice in Wonderland, the hand woven and embroidered cushion covers are an absolute treat for the eyes. In candy pink and sunny yellow, with motifs of Lil girl frocks, these gorgeous babies are ready to go home.

"Alice in Wonderland, our latest offering, is Red River's reflection of her longing for the springtime of life... O how she wishes to dress up again like an angel, stroll through the greens picking violets and innocently drown in her wonderland!!"


Sun fields

Strawberry crush


Images: The Red River/Namrata Baruah

q & a with Kalyani Ganapathy

Bangalore-based Kalyani Ganapathy’s niche venture, Kye (which means ‘hand’ in Kannada), is about dollops of handmade happiness and homemade goodness. She paints, embroiders and screen prints her whimsical ideas on bags, purses, and cushion covers. Started in September 2008, the business, which specialises in handmade fabric products, gives her the much-needed break from the “giant screen” where she freelances as a graphic designer.

q. Please tell us about your background and childhood years.

a. All my school years were spent in the Nilgiris. I spent most of my school years at The Lawrence School Lovedale. I then moved to Bangalore to study advertising and graphic design.

q. What were your initial years in the workforce like? Where did you work?

a. While still at college I interned at an ad agency and soon found myself detesting the job. After college I worked at a design studio, my initial few months were spent just learning on the job. The best part of it was that almost every thing I worked was a challenge of a different kind.

I worked with various graphic design studios before freelancing and teaching.

q. Please tell about the ideas, work and creativity that goes into thinking up new stuff and creating them from scratch.

a. I find myself constantly thinking, be it when I am walking my dog, reading, or even shopping. I seek inspiration from things around me. I like to paint in the form of stories. What may seem like one story to me may not seem like that to anyone else. I believe that art is subjective and is best left open to interpretation.

 The tougher challenge is making these ideas workable to paint and stitch on fabric. I think it is attention to detail and the hours of laborious work in the pursuit of perfection that make ‘kye’s’ products unique.

q. What are you working on these days?

a. My focus at the moment is ‘custom made’ furnishing and accessories. Apart from this, I am thinking about larger collections for retail.

q. Would you like to share an important lesson that you’ve learnt as an entrepreneur?

a. My biggest learning is to keep persevering and never let the downside of business get to you.

q. What do you enjoy most about running a creative business and what are the things that give you a tough time?

a. I enjoy waking up to a new challenge everyday. I enjoy the fact that the work does not get repetitive. And most importantly I get to meet and interact with so many interesting people whom I never would have met sitting in an office.

q. Would you like to say something to all those vibrant, creative people out there, who would like to become self-employed but somehow cannot quit their jobs or take that plunge?

a. The creative life looks very glamorous from the outside, no one realises the kind of effort that goes into a simple job. My advice to all the creative people out there is to stand your ground, dream big and believe. There is nothing more satisfying than going to a job you love.

q. Any message you’d like to include here?

a. It may seem a little preachy but I think it needs to be said:

Support your local artisan, be it your local potter or the girl next door who makes hand crafted products. It would be very sad to see such a large part of our heritage wiped out by mechanisation.

Thanks a tonne for your time!

Images: Kye

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dreams in my pocket - Jessica Constable

I can't get enough of good blogs and strong coffee. A few months ago, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, while rifling through blogs, I came across Jessica Constable's inspirational blog Make Under My Life. As I read, I came to know that Jessica is an entrepreneur, who runs her own jewelery brand called Jess LC. She's just the kind of woman I love to read about...yes, you got it. I love reading about women who have the courage to chart out their own career path and choose to start businesses instead of work the 9-to-9 shift.

So people...let's catch up with Jessica Constable over coffee.

I am…. 
I’m a jewellery designer in Chicago, Illinois
My business name, Jess LC, comes from my name and initials. But I have to admit, in 1999 the company was originally named Starlette Jewelry. As a 15-year-old living in Rochester, Michigan, I taught myself to make “totally rad” star ankle bracelets at a local pool. While making these beaded ankle bracelets, four women bought them from me on the spot. These unintentional sales changed my professional life forever. Inspired to earn my “fun money” selling jewelry rather than baby-sitting, I soon learned new jewelry techniques and sold my designs to teachers, students, and stores across Michigan. When I graduated high-school, my jewelry was sold in 12 boutiques.

In 2003, I began college at the University of Michigan and studied Business Administration at the Ross School of Business. While struggling through operations management and corporate finance classes, I continued selling jewelry and re-named the business Jess LC. My junior year, I interned in New York City at Macy’s Merchandising Group within Product Development. Though the experience was great, I found myself wanting to make changes to the designs, pricing, hang-tags, even the LOGO. Needless to say, as an intern these changes were beyond my control. So I resolved to take a CEO position after graduation… at Jess LC. When I graduated I was also named “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Which sounds impressive, until you find out that I was the only student with a business, and therefore the only nominee. Ahem.

After graduation in August of 2007, I moved to Chicago and started Jess LC full-time. Setting up shop in a small studio apartment as a one-woman show was challenging (read: really hard). But I had faith and persisted. By the end of 2008 Jess LC was sold in over 100 stores nationwide. At that point I also had a lovely team of interns, part-time help, and awesome sales reps.

I write… 
I write about designing a life with intention. It is my purpose in life to help people reflect on what they are meant to do with their lives and then help, encourage, and inspire them to then "design their life" around those intentions. The blog topics I cover which relate to this effort include lifestyle, home decor, thinking with intention, and designing a business with intention. 

My bread-butter-n-jam… 
My life is designed around doing what I love- as I've pursued my purpose through the blog the jewelry business has blossomed into a fun, exciting, and challenging endeavor. I am constantly getting inspired to design jewelry based on inspiration from my passion: interior design. I love translating the trends I see in home design into jewelry. It's also amazing to reach out and interact with customers via Jess LC and readers via MML (the blog). More and more often, those customers are now readers and vice versa. Being able to be known for not only jewelry design, but also as someone who helps people pursue their purpose is fantastically rewarding.

What inspires and invigorates me… 
Reading blogs and books about business, life purpose, and interior design get me fired up to do what I do everyday. 

I enjoy… 
I enjoy iced tea, beautiful throw pillows, Westie puppies, traveling, watching HGTV, journal writing, and graphic design.

Instant perk-me-ups… 
Prayer, running, coffee with friends, phone calls while running errands, walking along the beach, doing my nails. 

What counts…
Learning to separate my ego from my spirit, family and friends, and fearlessly pursuing my purpose. 

The important lessons of my life… 
I've learned that the more you actually go after what you are meant to do, the more opportunities arise to help you get there. It's really about taking those baby steps to make it happen and to stick with the path you've chosen. I've also learned that there are two voices inside my mind: my ego and my spirit. My ego wants to control the future, fears the unknown, and generally gets me caught up in unnecessary worry and pride. My spirit on the other hand is a calm, cool well of knowledge that is always at ease and trusts in the future being bright regardless of whether I know where the path is heading at this point in time. The more I've been able to recognize these two perspectives in my life, the better I've been able to let go of a lot of unnecessary drama, pain, and fear.

Let me share… 
I have two mantras which have helped me change my life: The first is, "You get in life what you have the courage to work towards." The second is a quote by Michelangelo who said that he could carve such beautiful statues from pieces of stone because he saw the potential within the rock and simply removed the layers that were hiding that potential. I believe our lives are like those pieces of stone: the more we remove, the more we uncover our purpose and potential. 

I'd also say that the most transformational book which has helped guide the course of my life is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Dreams in my pocket - Nancy

Hiya! It's been some time since I posted anything. I've been dividing my time between work, embroidery, long walks and books. And this week onwards....a lot of work!

Well, time now for another interesting blogger. Please welcome Nancy of Wolf and Willow. She loves everything vintage and her beautiful online scrapbook of words and delicious pictures will have you smiling in no time. So guys...take a break from whatever you're doing and all the busy moments, to take a sneak peek at Nancy's blog and what she has to say here...

I am….
A dreamer with a wild imagination. A lover of vintage children’s books and fantasizing about the past. Growing up I travelled all around Australia with my parents, from the chilly Victorian coast to the tropical Whitsunday islands and back again. I loved writing and illustrating books. When I grew up, I spent five years at university studying all sorts of interesting arty things like archaeology and literature, then settled on being a graphic designer. Now I work as a freelance writer, designer and illustrator for books, magazines and blogs.... I spend any spare time sewing, cooking and playing with my dog.

I write… 
Wolf and Willow. I nickname it “Project Pretty”, because really, it’s a visual diary of pretty things! I post free sewing patterns from time to time, or write about vintage icons, etsy finds, fashion, illustration and decor. I have a little Field Journal section where I post about personal stuff like childhood memories, family photos and projects I’m working on.

My bread-butter-n-jam… 
I’m a freelance designer, illustrator and writer. I specialise in publishing (design, illustration and copywriting for books and magazines); interface design (blogs and websites) and surface pattern design (textiles, packaging, paper goods).

I sometimes work in-house at companies around Melbourne, which is nice, because I meet great people and get away from the daily distractions at my own studio. But I also love working from home because my dog curls up under my desk.

What inspires and invigorates me…
Sunshine. I can’t get enough. If it’s sunny, I like to take a picnic blanket and read a book under a tree, go running, ride my bicycle down to the local shops... anything outside. I also love to play 80s music and have a dance when no-one is watching... that always invigorates me!

I enjoy… 
Drinking tea of all kinds, collecting pretty teacups to drink it in, reading books, trying out new recipes, hot porridge, cuddling my dog, watching movies on the ‘life raft’ with my husband (an inflatable boat we put in the lounge room and fill with pillows – it’s like floating on a cloud!), cycling around the suburbs admiring the pretty gardens and weatherboard houses, sewing, writing.

Instant perk-me-ups… 
Raspberry and white chocolate muffins, fruit salad, phoning my mum for a good long chat, cuddling my dog.

What counts…
Being kind and cheerful and generous with your love, time, knowledge, compliments... whatever you can give, give it! Life is hard enough without us making things worse for one another, so why not try to make life better for others by being nice, even if it’s just a smile or a kind word?

The important lessons of my life… 
Be grateful for what you have every day (make a list if you have to!) and never take anything for granted. If something is really making you miserable, change it. When your life is over, you don’t get to pack a suitcase, so forget about material possessions and money, seek to be rich in love and happiness instead.

Let me share… 
A recipe for the best breakfast smoothie ever! Blend 1 cup milk (soy if you wish), 3 ice cubes, ½ handful blueberries, 1 banana, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ handful of walnuts, 1 teaspoon of honey and a sprinkling of goji berries... delicious!