Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!

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Friends, Favours and a Photo Shoot

I recently became aware of Shh by Sadie’s work, as a fellow Wellington designer I noticed she was stocked at many of the same shops that I am. I liked her stuff; it’s stylish, current, fun and playful. But what I noticed most about her work was how professionally it was photographed. She had models wearing it, in a ‘proper’ fashion shoot environment. I realised this was what was missing from my work, it seems like such an obvious step, I mean jewellery is meant to be worn, and when buying it it’s important (if you can’t try it on) to be able to see how it falls, hangs, or its size in relation to a person wearing it. Nothing gives you an idea of scale like seeing it worn; measurements on a page just aren’t the same.

Treasure Huntress from Shh by Sadie

Treasure Huntress from Shh by Sadie

Something about having my own photo shoot seemed too big and scary though. I mean where do you even start? How much would it all cost?! Eeep! The extent of my photography skills (although improved since I started) weren’t going to cut the mustard. So I decided the first step, like with everything else I set out to do, I sent an email. To Sadie (via her facebook page), asking her how she did it. I crossed my fingers that she would, living in my home town, be down to earth and happy to help out a fellow creator, and lucky for me she was! She broke down how easy it was if you were clever about it, looking around for Photographers who were keen to work cheaply or for free in exchange for having work to add to their portfolios… tips that that I hadn’t thought of. I had put photo shoot into the too hard box and as a result hadn’t thought of the solutions, I was too stuck on the problems. Then I did a bit of Pinterest searching for possible feels, compositions, clothing options, and before I knew it I had the majority of what I wanted in front of me. I had ideas for my current origami range, for a range I’m just about to launch –Ex Libris and for one I have made the jewellery for but haven’t launched or photographed yet – Major Tom. Before the overwhelm could get to me I singled out Ex Libris and decided it would be a good one to start with, to launch it right…

Genevieve, the face of Ex Libris (modelling a pair of blue book earrings)

Genevieve, the face of Ex Libris

The first step for me was going through my Facebook friends to look for the right face for my brand. I also know a couple of quite talented photographers and had one in mind… I asked him, and was over the moon when he said yes.  After doing a bit of research and discovering this article, I asked a friend who is quite talented in the art of make-up (both Halloween and beauty, although the former wouldn’t be needed on this occasion) if she would be my make-up artist. A make-up artist, now that is professional.  I couldn’t believe it, it was all getting so real. The main hitch to my plan was that my preferred model was travelling around Europe and wouldn’t be home for several weeks… But she was so perfect I asked her anyway, once I got her face into my head she was my brand, I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it.

Gen’s European absence turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as up until a fortnight before the shoot I only had four items to photograph. Originally the collection was book earrings and book necklaces in two colours (black and brown). They looked great, and I was proud of them, but after all the organising I realised I would be insane to go ahead with a full on photo shoot for only two items, so added cuff links and brooches to the mix and rounded it out by adding colours (five colours for each item in leather and one animal conscious vinyl option). I’m so glad I did and I’m so proud of the results.

Genevieve modelling a pair of blue Ex Libris earrings

Genevieve modelling a pair of blue Ex Libris earrings

Adding cuff links to the equation also added a new element… a male model! Going for the 100% free approach I asked my handsome husband and was very lucky he said yes, as usually he doesn’t like having his photo taken! We also photographed the brooches on both models as they are a unisex item.

My handsome husband modelling a black Ex Libris brooch

My handsome husband modelling a black Ex Libris brooch

In the end my make-up artist friend was unavailable but Gen did a great job of her own make-up and it all worked out on the day. Funny that having the jewellery, model and photographer didn’t make me feel professional enough till a make-up artist was on board.

Looking back over the process the hardest bit was narrowing down the 766 photos to a manageable *ahem* hundred… I’d highly recommend the process and I plan on repeating it with the Imogen Wilson origami range and the upcoming Major Tom collection… I just need to find ‘the face’ of each… Now that I have these delicious photos I’m one step closer to releasing my new range, hopefully this week, watch out world… it’s coming!


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Sick Day Blues

Travel Posters for Lazy People by H. Caldwell TannerI have always been quite a sick person. As a child I had every cold, flu and ailment known to mankind. Sniffles were regular, sore throats common. If it was out there, I caught it. As I grew up, sadly nothing much changed in that department, and as a result sick days were commonplace, such a normal part of life they weren’t worth mentioning. However all that changed this year.

Perhaps because I’m happier? Perhaps because I come into contact with less people, after all I worked retail or hospo for as long as I’ve worked, both people saturated industries. Despite the change, the crazy amounts that went on and that I organised and have achieved I have been sick a total of twice this year, a record in my books! The second time snuck up on me, and hit just last week.

I had started to feel I was out of ‘firsts’ when it comes to the crafty self employment game. Although as soon as I typed that I realised what a silly thing to say that is, I’m so new, there are a million ‘firsts’ waiting. Perhaps it’s more correct to say I have become complacent about all the firsts I achieved before quitting my 9-5, things I already know how to do now that it’s my full time gig.  But last week was a definite first, my first sick day(s) where there was no one to answer to except myself. No one to call, to make my excuses, no matter how real or fake…

That’s something I always hated about the inevitable sick day phone call, no matter how real it was, no matter how close to death I felt, I always felt racked with guilt. It was never guilt about them having to get someone to cover me, or about not being there to do my job. Even though I was genuinely ill, I was always terrified they wouldn’t believe me. This has been true of every sick call I have ever made, in every job I have held.  Although there was the simple beauty of after ‘the’ call putting the phone down and that being it, back to bed, no more guilt, no more responsibility… time for more sleep, and healing of whatever sort.

sick days actually sick imogen wilsonWhat I discovered last week was although I could wake up, feel like crap, and go back to sleep instantly (without having to drag myself to the phone for a split second of acute guilt). The trade off was three days spent in bed with the dull thudding ache of guilt in the back of my head. I had one of those flu’s. The ones where you can’t achieve anything. Scrolling through Pinterest makes your head spin to the extent where you think you might throw up. Where you can’t concentrate on reading, where TV makes your brain strobe and eyes hurt.  So all I could do was lie on my back, with my eyes closed, hoping for sleep but instead thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was well.

One of the things I didn’t have the brain strength for, through the snot fog and brain throb, was writing my blog. I don’t write it a week ahead, or even a day ahead. I write it the Monday I post it, perhaps something I need to change as my Monday posting was thrown out the window totally last week.  Luckily the only person who brow bashed me for being out of action was me… the customers who’s orders were postponed a day or two were very understanding, and my lovely husband picked up the slack where he could…

Now to put a couple of practices in place to cover me in case it happens again… I’m off to write next week’s blog, in draft form, just in case, although knowing me next week I’ll probably start from scratch on a whim…

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I Blog Therefore I Am


What an odd and wonderful thing blogging is. I was first introduced to the wonders of blogging in 2010 when I left NZ for six months and travelled around the U.S & Europe alone. It was a good way to upload photos and tell of my adventures without sending out the dreaded group email. I loved that people could read up on my comings and goings if they wanted to, when they wanted to. There was also little to no pressure on me, although I was always aware of my bad spelling and grammar (something I am cursed with to this day) I figured my family and nearest and dearest were my target market, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought.

Of course, if you are reading this you probably will know that my blogging aim has now changed. When I started writing ‘watch this space’ it was for exposure. Not to make money through ads featured on my blog, just to push my Etsy & Felt shops to the top of search engines (or give them a small push anyway) and to make me more searchable. Promote, promote, promote, that was the idea. It’s a bit depressing when I look at it like that… but luckily, although that was the original purpose, it feels like much more than that to me now.  It was a pleasant surprise that I enjoy writing it so much, and other than last week (where I went back two days after publishing it and deleted large chunks and edited it) I am generally pretty proud of the results.

to blog or not to blogI discovered on Pinterest yesterday a ‘Grow your blog’ pin and made the mistake of scrolling down to the ‘People who have pinned this also pinned’ section. It was, as you can imagine, promotion of a different kind.

Blog for passion, Blog for profit, Blog advice from your favourite blogger, 50 online tools to better your blog, Build a better blog, Blogging and the road to traffic, Time management tips for bloggers, How to make your blog stand out, How to make $ with your blog, Build your following, Traffic tips- how to drive people to your blog, Promotion, Tips, Build, Sell, Tutorial, Ideas.

It was overwhelming. It was unnecessary, surely? I opened several of them in new tabs, then closed them all without reading them. It was all a bit too bigger, better, faster, stronger for my liking.

Then it struck me. I know why I write this blog, what I get out of it. It chronicles my journey, my achievements, my struggles. Writing about the things I do and why I do them is very cathartic; it’s a bit like weekly therapy. I think it has also improved the way I communicate, the way I write and had helped make me more aware of the importance of the Oxford comma, and my incorrect usage of your & you’re. But I’d like to know what kind of blogs YOU like. Do you tend to look at glossy, photo heavy blogs? Or do you prefer blogs heavier on text content? Perhaps you prefer to read about specific topics so stumbled on this because of a keyword, that’s fine too, but I’d love to know! Do you like that I write once a week, and it’s usually a weighty length, or would you prefer short & sweet, but more often?

I’d love to hear why you read blogs and how you read them, please leave a comment below and have your say!

Ok, I don't actually like tea... but you get the idea. Thanks for reading, for whatever reason...

OK, I don’t actually like tea… but you get the idea. Thanks for reading, for whatever reason…

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Make Do and Mend

Being self employed a lot of the success (or failure) I feel, sadly, has money at the root of it. Have I made enough this month for X, Y, Z? Have I spent too much on new supplies? Have I put myself out there enough to reap the benefits next month? (Plus always the niggling, have I written it all down to make tax time easier for myself?) Luckily for me I have always been thrifty. I don’t like wasting money, and if I have to spend it I like to shop around. Some would call it cheap… I call it sensible. I like to re-use things, packaging, wrapping paper, things I might be able to give second life to, or re-purpose as part of one of my creations. I’m one of those people who keep things ‘just in case I need it later’. This has been especially handy if I have an off month, money wise, I’m not like this because of self employment, or being a bit poor, it’s ingrained in my being. I’ve always been this way.

My proud ‘I knew I could find a use for it’ moment of the week was re-purposing this spoon collecting/ display rack. I found it by the side of the road around six months ago. After a good scrub I ferreted it away till I could think what purpose it could possibly provide. I thought maybe a fair display but was unconvinced. Then it hit me, chain separation! As I buy chain in giant spools and make necklaces out of it myself, I’m always looking for ways (that don’t involve a million plastic bags) to keep it separated and untangled so I can have it on hand and ready to go.  Simple, effective, free.

Rack of many uses. Spoons need not apply

Rack of many uses. Spoons need not apply

make do and mend

Another reason I’m like this, I suppose, is my rejection of the common ‘throw away’ attitude that seems to be at the root of our culture. If something breaks, I’ll give fixing it a shot. The effort that goes into buying a replacement component and fixing it myself is far less than the strain on our resources as a planet than just buying another one, no matter how cheap it might be financially to replace (usually with a nasty product of low quality from China that will brake soon after it’s bought anyway). It wasn’t so long ago that ‘Make do and Mend’ wasn’t a catchy slogan, but a wartime way of life.

I like to think that, in life, this attitude has served me well. But now that I rely on the things I make (and sell) to live I’ve been finding it harder, not easier. It’s important to only put out into the world my best work. Damaged things, things that aren’t ‘quite there’ just won’t do. This means waste… I find it so hard being tough with myself, as quality control is so important… and so is not wasting. It’s a constant struggle. So I pour all of my ‘make do and mend’ into my personal life instead!

On my recent trip to Japan I found a shop that sold shoe heels. Having always been someone that values a pair of good shoes and pays an arm and a leg (it’s not cheap, sadly) to get them re-soled I bought two packets. The kiwi ‘do it yourself’ attitude that has always been part of me kicked it… how hard could it be? The answer is, HARD. Of course I didn’t practice on any old pair of shoes, I did my favourite pair. The first step, of course is to wrench off the old soles, at which point there is no going back. It was after doing this that I realised what a mistake it had been. All in all the main reason this was so difficult is I didn’t have the appropriate tools, but oh did I give it a good try! The first one was so tricky it took me a week to pluck up the courage to do the second one… They are all finished now, and I’ve never been prouder that I gave it a go myself, however next time I’ll be going to a professional…

Week one, sole one. Week two... sole two...

Week one, sole one. The week after I tackled the second shoe…

It’s all about doing what we can, with what we have. The answer to some of my origami related waste was solved with a simple, clever (if I do say so myself) solution. If you see me at a fair, I usually have a small bowl of origami on my table with a ‘free’ sign above it. This is my small, inconsequential answer to waste. The kids get something to take home for free and I don’t have to feel bad about putting more than necessary in the bin. It’s win, win! It only scratches the tip of the iceberg… but it helps me sleep at night.