Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Getting stuff done

I had two days off my day job to do various life admin stuff, some of which included getting things finished that I'd been working on for ages.

Some handknitted baby blankets that I planned to donate to a different charity in London (but ended up sending to Woolly Hugs because they sent me their mailing address in double time, before I could lose the email, which is what happened the first time around when I know I saw a link for where to send them on facebook but couldn't find it again by the time I'd woven in all my ends).

My Oh Comely care package is on its way to Liverpool in the post.

I took part in the Inver Cottage craft fair on Sunday (I had the fish and chips).

I even went to see a gig last Wednesday night in Edinburgh, by Public Broadcasting Service.  It was one of the most intense and entertaining gigs I have ever been to (and in my previous life as a music journalist, I've been to a lot).  I enjoyed it so much, I almost had a review drafted out in my head on the way home in the car, I may work it up if I get five minutes in the next couple of weeks.  But for now, I'll say that it was a very good time, and the people watching was as much fun as the show itself.  And I was able to impress with my newfound t-shirt printing knowledge to point out to my friend which shirt was the best value for money i.e. the most expensive to produce but still priced the same as all the others.  I love me a bit of insider information!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Is it November already?

I can't believe I haven't blogged in two whole months.  They have been two whole super-busy months, mind you.  Here's a catch up on what you missed while I was missing in blogging action.

I started a new business, and had a bit of a crowdfunding adventure.  If anyone wants to hear more about our experiences, let me know and I'll blog about it.  It's going pretty well, and it's been great working as part of a team with a fellow creative person, and a supporting cast of fantastic designers.  We are launching our online shop any day now, and the first batch of orders will be sent out very soon - they are being finalised by the printer as I type!

I took more than 50 orders at www.girlindustries.etsy.com - a large percentage of which were custom orders for a combination of last-minute and forward-planning brides.  This kept me busy!  November has been quiet so far, so if you wish to order a package of envelope seals/custom stickers, multiple packs of confetti for your big day, or other elements of table decoration or packaging, now is a good time to get in touch about your requirements.

I've been working full time in my day job, and have had to scale down my freelance working at least until Christmas.  I am not sure what the new year will bring, but for now I can take on short-life projects like online shop support and proofreading/editing work and usually turn these around within 48 hours.

I have been continuing to destash my craft room and although you can't really tell to look at it, I have made a serious dent in the level of supplies I've been holding on to.  I still have a long way to go, but plenty of projects underway to help me with it.  Now the room has to be even more multipurpose than ever, I need to use the space more flexibly and in a more organised way.  I can feel another eBay binge coming on, I hope they have a free listings day soon!

I've signed up for two fun swaps over the Christmas period.  The first is organised by Oh Comely magazine and I have been partnered with someone who is going to be so fun to make for.  A mum-to-be with a love of all things vintage.  I have the perfect gifts in mind.  The second is a decoration swap organised by Laura over at Dropstitchblog.  I have no idea what I'm going to make, but you can still sign up for the swap until midnight this evening, I think, so get involved!

I've been reading Posie gets Cozy a lot and feeling inadequate, so I try to only read it now and again, and treat it a bit like a made up world.  I do love that blog (and I loved making Maggie Rabbit, and A enjoyed helping and seeing Miss Maggie come to life) and I'm grateful to Alicia for sharing her life.  It also reminds me of being on honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest, of real seasons and time to sew, knit and cook to my hearts content.

I've also been a bit more sociable lately, and have been to craft fairs, meeting up with friends, having family days out, and this week I'm even going to a gig.  Which will no doubt make me feel super old, and I will be driving, and trying to cope with an early morning the next day, so possibly not the best idea ever but I am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Keeping busy

So this is why I've been so busy lately - working on a new project with Jo of StellaMyStar.  Nearly ten years ago now I had a conversation with a fellow crafty type about creating a line of children's t-shirts, but I couldn't create the necessary artwork myself (no skillz) and the artist I first approached to collaborate with didn't see how their work would translate to a t-shirt format, or how someone could sell t-shirts outside of a traditional clothing store setting - why sell online?  Won't people need to try them on first?  Well luckily the independent handmade sector in the UK has changed a whole lot since then!

Fast foward a few years and suddenly everything fell into place.  After many years of running my own businesses and a few more years of working with crafters, artists and designers in Glasgow and beyond, I was in the right place to get started.  Jo and I put our heads together last July and we started planning - it's been a long time in the pipeline, but somehow time speeded up on itself last week and all of a sudden we were ready to launch - and to make sure our t-shirts will be ready to post by the start of December!  Up until the middle of last month, only our designers and our immediate family knew what we were planning, and now we are ready to shout it from the rooftops.

You can find out more about the project, and how to buy from our first collection of t-shirts at the Mimi and Will website at mimiandwill.com and you can pre-order from our first collection here - the best part is you don't even have to choose which shirts you want straightaway, which is great because we have lots more shirts lined up to release before the end of October.  Please share our links with anyone you know who has children or might need child-shaped Christmas presents!

and p.s. - Girl Industries isn't going anywhere - so shop with confidence!

Friday, 9 August 2013

All change!

I'm having a huge sale in my Etsy shop right now to clear inventory and let me make room for lovely new things from September onwards.  As more of the older stock clears, I'll be adding a few surplus supplies I have to my Etsy shop.  I have big things planned for the shop!  I'm planning to continue with stickers, tags and more paper goods but I want to work in my favourite colour palettes and work more on a themed basis, in tune with the seasons, and with trends.  I'll still be keeping it as upcycled, green and eco-friendly as I can, but I want to make my range more stylish and more coherent.  I want to work towards bringing my customers a great visual shopping experience while retaining the quality of a great product and the price of a great buy.

I'll be discontinuing my current envelope range, but you can always ask about custom orders if there's something you'd like me to make for you.  I'll keep the zines in my shop too, and I have a new one drafted up that I just need to typeset and choose the cover for, and we're good to go!  Oh, and I still do work to proofread and edit listings, and remotely manage a range of online marketplace accounts, so get in touch if you'd like to talk about those services.

The main reason I'm scaling back on the Girl Industries shop is that the other work I have on at the moment (full time day job, a carefully built up freelance portfolio from when I did not have a full time day job, and a new additional business venture on the horizon) is becoming too much to manage alongside such a diverse mix of products and supplies - not to mention trying to fit in a home and personal life.  By scaling it back a little, I can cut myself some slack, I hope, and try to find more of a balance between everything.  Every purchase you make from the shop will help me towards that goal, so if there's something you've had your eye on for a while, there's never been a better time than right now to pick it up!

I know a lot of my crafty pals and readers are in a similar boat at the moment, so what are your top tips for finding balance in your life?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fun days out

For a couple of weeks in the summer we were able to spend time together as a family and do a few day trips.  These included:

Blue Peter Garden at Media City while I was staying with my folks in Salford

A close encounter with some ducklings at Tebay services on our way home

Strawberry picking (and more besides) at the fantastic Cairnie Hill farm, near Cupar

Fun with meercats, penguins and some pretty terrifying tigers at the Blair Drummond Safari Park

A day at the beach at Burntisland, Fife

 Yes, those are hundreds of people on a tiny strip of sand all going shades of lobster in the 30 degree Scottish summer sunshine.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

On holiday

So back in the olden times, I'd have cleverly researched, drafted, got photo clearance and scheduled some fascinating blog posts to tide everyone over if I was ever took soon time out for myself over the summer.  Well, times have changed and I'm super busy and needed a real, proper, break so here I am with an update on where I've been, instead.

First up, I went to see my old school for one last time before it gets knocked down.  The old sports hall (which was opened to great fanfare during my time there) had an amazing exhibition of old photos from over the years - including a few of me on stage in various productions.  I kind of wish I'd stuck with the acting but my parents weren't so keen on anything extra curricular, preferring me to concentrate on the academic side instead, so I dropped it shortly after being offered the role of Viola in Twelfth Night in 6th Form.  The role went instead to someone who's now a very very very well known theatre director.  Just like if I'd stuck with the radio alongside my old co-host (who's now a very very very well known Hollywood movie editor with an Oscar nomination under his belt) or my old student journalism chum... who just wrote the Guardian's lead article on the new Alan Partridge film.  Can you see a theme here?

Anyhoo, in the interests of being a bit more extra curricular, I'm super-busy with all kinds of improving activities.  I just took on an extra role (and an extra day) at my day job.  I'm working hard to focus and rationalise my Girl Industries range - more on that in a blog post still to come.  I'm also working on a freelance basis giving support and providing practical services to a number of online outlets, which has been really interesting work and is definitely something I'll be sticking at.  I also have a brand spanking new venture which I was spending all my Fridays on when I wasn't working in my day job on Fridays.  This new venture should be up and running in the next couple of months, and it's something I really really can't wait to share with you.  And did I mention I have a 2 year old and a long-suffering husband...?

And all this comes from one photograph on the wall in a disused sports hall.  I always come out in those psychometric tests as a 'text' person and not an 'images' person, but maybe my increased attempts to broaden my horizons are proving to be an instant success!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy 4th!

Patriotic buttons by ThisOnesMineDesigns on Etsy
I thought I'd help celebrate what I just heard described as 'the day the UK and America had a break-up' by doing the blog equivalent of 'drunk-dialing' to reminisce about old times.  Sorry for the lack of photos - you'll have to go clicky on the links.

Here's the first half of a list of my top ten places to visit in the States, and why I like them...

Fannette Island

I took an afternoon cruise around Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe back in July 1999, and was told about an English eccentric who built a castle on the island and had her butler row her out there every day to take afternoon tea.

With a little investigation, this lovely vignette turns out to be somewhere on the scale between borderline and absolute CLAPTRAP but it's a great story and the real information behind the place is just as interesting.

Lake Tahoe is on the border between Nevada and California, and my friend Jo and I were actually there to see Tom Jones. We weren't disappointed! Although the flight into town from Las Vegas, over the mountains in a single engine plane, was pretty hairy.

Lost River Caves, near Bowling Green

Apart from playing a key role in the American Civil War, and also being the rumoured hideout of outlaws like Jesse James, the best thing about this place is the fact that it was used as an underground (literally and perhaps figuratively) nightclub back in the 1930s. A bar area is hewn into the rock and there's a substantial dancefloor area too. Our tour guide when we visited (me and Jo again, but this time in July 2007) told us that the advent of air conditioning alongside laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol did for the bar in the end, but it's great that it's been restored and kept so well - a really interesting day out.

The Intersection of 1st and 1st, East Village, New York

Before I even noticed this wonderful hidden gem, this particular intersection has some great memories for me. These are mainly to do with shrugging off hangovers on the way to the 2AV station to catch the ever-useful F train, drinking coffee outside in snow or heat to wake me up for a day's shopping or sightseeing or trying to fortify myself for a day out with family! It's just around the corner from the storefront radio station, EVR.com where you can see Mark Ronson, Andy Rourke and other well-known musicians broadcasting all day every day. I've spotted everyone from Moby to Chris Klein and overheard all sorts of bizarre conversations right here - 'you've lived in New York your whole life and you never ate felafel? We're going for felafel RIGHT NOW' - three club kids heading into SoHo at 6.30am, presumably heading for home but with breakfast first. I also had to chuckle to myself as I overheard a girl chatting to her dachshund, Nathan - great name for a sausage dog! And you know where the F train goes... Coney Island! I think that's synchronicity (or something...)

Mount Hood, Oregon

I think I've probably mentioned this place to everyone I know at least one time too many, now, but I can't recommend it highly enough! On our honeymoon, the husband and I drove up the first 6000ft of the mountain, as I'd heard about the brunch at Timberline Lodge on the internet and wanted to give it a try. As soon as we arrived, we changed our plans, we were going to stay! After the super-helpful reception staff gave us a mini-tour of the rooms available that night, we splashed out on a lovely little room near the bar bwah ha ha. Best spur of the moment decision ever. The scenery, the facilities (outdoor swimming pool!), the staff, the restaurant, the bar, the brunch (wow, the the bloody mary here is excellent), the history (and I'm not just talking about the exterior shots for The Shining, or Roosevelt's visit in the 30s) and if I hadn't pretty much ruled skiiing out of my life when I realised quite how accident prone I am without the added bonuses of snow and sheer drops, I'm sure I'd love the outdoor pursuits available almost year round, too.

Roosevelt Island
Okay, so like many of my working days in midtown, I'm back to the F train. I spent New Year's Day 2006 exploring Roosevelt Island with my cousin and his wife (who just had a baby daughter on Monday - hooray!). All of us had worked in midtown only blocks from the island, but none of us had ever made the trip across on the tram (or cable cars, as I would call them). At that time, gentrification was just beginning, and new apartment buildings were springing up or being sold off plan. We walked a full circuit of the manmade island, and managed to spy plenty of cool sights, like an abandoned and empty swimming pool (this photo by Alex Guidouk is so much better than the one I took), the former hospital at the south end of the island that was used in the creepy Dark Water movie, and even managed to fit in some time for delicious lemon meringue at a diner, yum yum.

So those are my first five....

More to come!