Kanzashi, kimono, seasonal motifs, handmade finds and cooking!

Brighton Etsy Team Bloghop

My local Brighton Etsy Team, which I am part of are running a blog hop where members each make a post answering a set of questions and nominate each other to join in with the bloghop. I was nominated by Anna Liversidge  – Thank you for nominating me Anna! :D I am loving reading all the background stories for everyone!

 

What inspired you to start your business or Etsy shop?

I originally did Fine Art at University, but left my degree feeling really negative and low in self-confidence about doing anything creative. I then went into working with Deaf adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, which was a great experience in many ways because I have a huge love of learning languages, and learning a visual language like BSL was incredibly exciting to me.  But as a result of this I completely abandoned any art or creativity in my life. I  didn’t really have the time or energy for anything else other than my job.

I loved the people who I supported and met through work, but I think when I look back now I realise that I was pouring so much of myself into the role that I was reaching burn out, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I think that doing care work with a sign language interpreting element,  you are always trying to leave yourself out of the picture, so as to make what you are doing all about the person you are supporting. This left me feeling a bit like a non-entity. I don’t know if I would ever have left my job voluntarily as I believed so strongly that it was a really important job, but in the end I hurt my back at work, probably from pushing myself above and beyond what I was really capable of doing.

I spent over 6 months off sick, in agonizing pain, experiencing terrible panic attacks on a daily basis and pretty much feeling like the world had ended. During this time, I really needed something to focus on and keep myself occupied, so I started making kanzashi. Eventually I realised that I would never go back to support work, and that I would have to find something else to do with my life. Friends had already been encouraging me to sell them, but it wasn’t until I met Marine from Hello Marine at a party, while wearing one of my hair flowers , and getting some encouragement from her, that I even thought of selling them online.

At first my goal was just to get a little bit of money back so I had more to spend on materials, but as time went on, I raised my sights and really wanted to make this something I could live off.  By the time I got pregnant in 2012, I was starting to feel that through a combination of Etsy sales, custom orders, wholesale, workshops and craft fairs I would one day be able to make this dream a reality.

We’re looking at goals in the Brighton Etsy Team this month (you can follow along with #btnetsygoals!) Can you share one of your goals for your shop for the next six months?

In 2013 I had a little baby girl called Etta, and although my Etsy shop has been open since she was 3 months old, I haven’t really had the time or the brain space to focus on my business as much, so it has been somewhat on the back-burner since then. She is now nearly 2 and has finally started sleeping a little bit better, so I finally feel like I have the energy to pursue my creative/business goals again.

I feel that now is the time to take stock of what I really want my business to be doing. One of my main goals is to kickstart my business again post-baby by pushing myself to make more, posting more frequently on social media, making more connections with other makers and finding some wholesale opportunities.   Because I sort of fell into kanzashi making, I also want to explore some other creative areas, and not limit myself to one type of creative process, just because that is what I started my shop with. I really want to reassess why I am doing what I am doing, truly find ways to do what I love in a way that is authentic to who I am, and find ways I can make my business fit in around raising Etta. Two main sources of income pre-baby – workshops and craft fairs – are something that pretty much always run during weekends, and I am not sure if I want to give up time with my family at the moment to  do those things. However, I love the in-person connection with a local community of makers that you get through doing events, so I really want to find ways I can retain that.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on lots of one-off pieces, as I find designing new pieces the most exciting part of making. There are some subtle fascinators inspired by curling fronds, using the same fabrics and colour scheme as these pieces (I should really have named that collection!), which are nearly ready to sell.

And (what I hope will be) a ‘proper’ collection of bright and crazy colourful pieces related to goldfish and waterlilies that I will launch nearer Spring/Summer.

I recently started making some origami paper brooches, which were super fun to do and added a more budget end to my shop.

 

At the moment I am working on lots of one-off pieces, as I find designing new pieces the most exciting part of making. There are some subtle fascinators inspired by curling fronds, using the same fabrics and colour scheme as these pieces (I should really have named that collection!), which are nearly ready to sell.

And (what I hope will be) a ‘proper’ collection of bright and crazy colourful pieces related to goldfish and waterlilies that I will launch nearer Spring/Summer.

I am experimenting with adding some graphic design pieces to Society6, which I loved  designing and seemed to have got quite a positive response.

I am a keen gardener and a person who loves to experience and appreciate the changing seasons, and I recently got inspired after looking at the website What You Sow. I am now developing a small range of pieces inspired by British plants, throughout the seasons. The first piece from this range is my Snowdrop Brooch, which I have been really buoyed up by the response to.

I also really want to rejuvenate my blog, so I am  planning how I can give it a slightly different focus, one that really reflects more of my life and interests at the current moment.

If you could give other sellers or someone looking to start their own design/craft business one piece of advice, what would you say?

Aargh, there are so many different things I could say here. Feel the fear and do it anyway. There was once a time when I was SO terrified of doing a craft fair. I’m not terrified of that anymore, because I’ve done lots and lots of them, and I almost feel a bit ridiculous for admitting that it used to scare me so much. Now I’m scared of approaching people to wholesale to, but hopefully one day there will come a time when I feel ridiculous that I was ever scared of that. The more you push yourself to do the things you are scared of, the less those things have a hold on your thoughts, and the less they hold you back.

 

Okay, now its my turn to nominate….I’m going to nominate Ellen from BMillinery and Amandine from fleurdecarotte to join the bloghop (if you want to!)!

August and September Kitsuke

It has been a really long time since I wore kimono. What with having a baby, who is now a toddler, and what with toddlers being quite full on, I rarely have the time to put on a kimono anymore. Recently the Immortal Geisha forum, where I used to get a lot of my information on how to wear kimono correctly, became a Facebook page, and this has meant I am seeing kitsuke and kimono daily on my feed. You can find the new Facebook page . It has really inspired me to get wearing my collection again. So over late August and early September I managed to wear kimono 4 times! It has shown me how rusty I am with my dressing skills, that is for sure!

I won’t go into too much detail of each of my coordinations except to say that none are quite right in terms of seasonality – I still have many gaps in my collection and in my knowledge.

I would really like to identify what season the obi I am wearing in 2 different ensembles is right for. A lovely contact on Flickr identified the motif as Crape Myrtle . This flowers in summer, and the fabric seems to have a ro-like set of holes all through it , all of which point to it being a summer item. BUT it is lined and overall the material is quite thick, heavy and generally not very summerlike. If anyone has any ideas which season it should be worn in, then I would love to know! For now I am treating it as a summer piece.

Upcoming Event: Quaint Queer Weird Wedding Spectacular – Wedding inspiration for alternative brides in Brighton and Sussex – not just your average wedding fair!

I am very excited to announce that on Saturday 15th March, I am going to be exhibiting at Quaint Queer Weird Weddings , an amazing new wedding fair, that is a little out of the ordinary! aside from the fact that all the exhibitors at this fair are handpicked to represent Brighton and Sussex’s more eccentric side, this wedding spectacular is so much more of an event than your typical bridal fair. Featuring cabaret entertainment and burlesque performances throughout the day, you’ll want to attend this event whether or not you have an upcoming wedding planned!


I am very excited to announce that on Saturday 15th March, I am going to be exhibiting at Quaint Queer Weird Weddings , an amazing new wedding fair, that is a little out of the ordinary! Aside from the fact that all the exhibitors at this fair are handpicked to represent Brighton and Sussex’s more eccentric side, this wedding spectacular is so much more of an event than your typical bridal fair. Featuring cabaret entertainment and burlesque performances throughout the day, you’ll want to attend this event whether or not you have an upcoming wedding planned!

I’m even a little sad that as I’ve already had a wedding, I won’t be able to use some of the vendors at my own nuptials! Here is a sneak preview of some of the vendors I am most excited about seeing, to give you a little flavour of this unique event.

Tentario stunning tipis for hosting your event in

Tentario
stunning tipis for hosting your event in


Oh My Honey Dresses  - Unique and unusual dresses

Oh My Honey Dresses
- Unique and unusual dresses

Leon Simmonds  - celebrant. The book bursting into flames says it all really. How exciting!

Leon Simmonds
- celebrant. The book bursting into flames says it all really. How exciting!

Pyromaniacs  - fire based entertainment!

Pyromaniacs
- fire based entertainment!

Dig for Victory  - retro style handmade dresses

Dig for Victory
- retro style handmade dresses

Crown and Glory  - Kitsch and crazy bridal accessories

Crown and Glory
- Kitsch and crazy bridal accessories

Me, Cuttlefishlove Kanzashi !  image by Ali_Haikugirl

Me, Cuttlefishlove Kanzashi !
image by Ali_Haikugirl

Etsy Treasury: Neon pastels for summer 2013

I decided to make an Etsy treasury focusing on this summer’s neon pastel trend- inspired by Simone Rocha’s neon lace dresses and perspex neon bags. Put together an on trend summer look using pieces from unique designers and makers on Etsy! What do you think of the trend?

My favourite pieces from this treasury are the pink satchel by Titina Store neon Art Deco bib by Fab Parlour , which manages to combine the current Gatsby-related fad for Art Deco with the more up-to-date neon thing. Hmm, could Gatsby be the inspiration for the next trend-related treasury I do, I wonder?

‘Neon pastels for summer 2013′ by cuttlefishlove

inspired by Simone Rocha and Sister by Sibling, this collection features neon pastels, lace, pattern and perspex


1950s party dress / bright n…
$59.82

Neon Art Deco Bib Statement …
$40

Pastel Geometric Pouch,Hand…
$19.5

Neon lace earrings – Poison …
$30

Abstract art print – Mosaic …
$29

Neon Pom Pom Trio Necklace /…
$30

Spandex Bandeau Spandex Biki…
$23

neon pastel pink cross body …
$48

Hand Made Neon Fluoro Orange…
$29

Brooch. Scarf Pin. Recycled …
$35

Tie Up Hairscarf Headband Li…
$14

Neon Pastel Striped Earrings
$32

Neon Geometric Earrings ,La…
$10

vintage neon pink lace camis…
$18

OrangeTattoo art earrings
$28.9

Aqua Blue Wood Geometric Ba…
$15

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Cherry Blossom Houmongi, Peony Obi

In this outfit:

Synthetic purple cherry blossom houmongi

Green maple and peony obi

Mustard yellow and brown obiage

Deep Blue Obijime

Yellow and pink rose paper fan

White tabi socks

Nude patent flats

Vintage kimono hairbow by Ribbonreal

Another quick-grabbed kitsuke in between Etta’s feeds! This time I planned the outfit a bit better, but it was still a rush getting in and out of it without causing screaming from the baby!

Cherry blossoms are only just blooming here despite it being mid-late May, so decided I could still get away with wearing the motif even though officially cherry blossom season is over.

I bought this obi last year, and have been itching for peony season to arrive so I could wear it. It is really nice and long, which is definitely needed now I have a post-pregnancy tummy. I still have problems with my obi being too loose- I wonder if I need to use obi clips to keep it in place while tying it to prevent that?

Doing kitsuke post-pregnancy has made me wonder about how to breastfeed in kimono. I looked in the Immortal Geisha forum discussions and apparently it is done via the gap in the sleeve at the armpit, so from the outer edge of the kimono. I am uncoordinated and clumsy at the best of times, so not sure if I dare attempt it!

Vintage Fairs and Open Houses

At Betty and Friend's open house

At Betty and Friend’s open house

We’ve been to about four private views now with Etta, for the Brighton Artists Open Houses in the Brighton Festival, which runs all through May. I love this part of the festival and its a great opportunity to catch up with all my arty, crafty friends and see some really exciting art and craft too. Sadly I took zero photos of art at the events as was so busy passing Etta round to everybody and trying not to get squished by the crowds of people! It was slightly overwhelming taking a baby to the private views! Betty and Friend’s Open House is at 20a Springfield Road. I also recommend going to see 45 Preston Drove, Hummingbird Studio, 3 Surrenden Road, The Cake House, The Pink Bird House and Polish and Pin if you get a chance!

I also went to Pop-Up Vintage with her and went mad at Ribbonreal’s stall where I bought all the things in the world (and still wanted more).
Here is my haul:

My haul!

My haul!

The ball has a bell inside and is from Big Tree Little Moose Etta is loving playing with it!

Can’t wait to go to one of these events again as it was really buzzing, and had a great mix of both vintage and ‘made with vintage’ handmade! I am thinking about expanding my vintage kimono range (not yet available online, but soon to be launched!) and applying.

What exciting events have you been to this month?

Etsy Treasury: Japanese seasonal kimono motifs: April

‘Japanese seasonal kimono motifs: April’ by cuttlefishlove

swallows, cherry blossom, bamboo, willow, deer, peony


Hand drawn swallow, vintage …
$5

Cherry Blossom Box Pink and …
$17.5

Pin up tattoo style red stri…
$13

Vintage Retro Kimono Pillow …
$34.99

SALE Cherry Blossom Cuff Bra…
$15.95

Dr Seuss Birthday Baby Headb…
$13

Silver Round Blue and Red De…
$10

Tangerine and Navy Origami B…
$40

Japan Cotton Fabric- Colourf…
$9.5

Handmade willow leaf porcela…
$16

Baby Blue and Red Deer Head …
$122

Mens Necktie – Aqua & Poppy …
$28

Red Peony fascinator, brides…
$120

Business Card Holder, Credit…
$18

Cherry Blossom Hair Pins For…
$30

TURQUOISE PUSSY WILLOW Potte…
$35

Treasury tool supported by the dog house


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