Monthly Archives

August 2008


What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

August 26, 2008

Hello everyone I am Mel Lim, a Malaysian born Chinese designer based in San Diego, CA. I moved to the U.S. when I was 19 to attend the Art Center College of Design. After working as a designer doing mostly commercial retail spaces and corporate branding for 8 years, I became an entrepreneur. In 2005, I launched a brand of design-driven lifestyle products called JOY by Mel Lim. JOY today covers home accessories, paper goods, organic baby and fashion accessories. Holly has talked about my work a few times on decor8 so you may know who I am.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

My designs are inspired by nature, travel, food and of course my Chinese heritage. My beliefs in Feng Shui, coupled with old Chinese habits and superstitions have created a set of design rules for me, believing that colors play a key role in design, be it on paper or space. Every element has to have a meaning. Every placement has to create harmony. Every design has to inspire good, joyful living.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Our design studio has 3 main colors, with red and black being my lucky colors and black and white being my husband?s. When used appropriately, it is believed that colors can enhance your luck in business, career, love and marriage.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Lately, I have been obsessed with yellows and browns. It must be all the chocolate bars with golden wrappers that I have been eating. I travel with my mini sketchbook that has tons of drawings of foods and animals.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

A packet of instant beef ramen inspired my fall collection. The colors of curry noodles, brown sauce and chili peppers gave life to wraps, totes, placemats and pillows.

Coming up with a design idea is really the easy part of my business. Finding the balance between running a business and being the designer has been my biggest challenge and inspiration. I am sure any designer who just started their own studio or line of products goes through the same ordeal; we have to think about sales, marketing, pr, production, pricing, trade shows, the day-to-day struggles of a small business owner at tough economic times like these.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Over the years, many aspiring designers have emailed me to ask how to run a business and do trade shows. This has inspired my husband and I to launch a blog called BACE ? Business & Creative Exchange. In this blog, we provide answers to questions that many fans over the years have emailed us; how to do a trade show, how to price items, how to get things manufactured etc. No B.S., just an honest discussion. Our goal is to assist and inspire other designers and offer them insights to real problems faced by small business owners. We?d figured that we may not have the money to help (yet!) but we have many blunders and successes we can share to instill awareness. We simply just want things to be easier for others than it was for us!

Thank you for joining me today here on decor8. If you have any questions about my business or running a small business in general, please comment here and I will gladly reply!

(all images and text by mel lim)

Events + Markets

Amsterdam Meet and Greet: September 5th!

August 26, 2008

Hi everyone! It’s me Holly checking in to say hello and to ask for a small favor. On Friday, September 5th I will be in Amsterdam and some of my online friends and fellow design bloggers will meet with me there for the evening to relax, have a few drinks, and to simply meet face-to-face and establish new contacts. I’ve had a terrific response by many who would like to attend, so I’m investigating possible places to host a small group for a few hours (after dinner, between 8-10 PM).

Amsterdam Meet and Greet: September 5th!

A cafe is fine, or even a small retail shop or gallery space, but since I’m not familiar with Amsterdam at all I’d greatly appreciate suggestions if you have them. My hotel is in the center of Amsterdam near the Singel Gracht and the floating flower market, so nearby to this location is preferred (or at least a short train ride away, also fine).

You can comment below with your tips or contact me directly here.? And if you are in Amsterdam on September 5th, set some time aside to join us. All are welcome to attend – ladies and gents! Once a location is confirmed, I will post details on decor8 so stay tuned if you are planning to join us.

Thank you friends! :)

(photo by jaar haar)

Decorating Tips

Nicole Balch Office Redux Under $200

August 26, 2008

Hello there! It’s me Nicole again from Making it Lovely. I’m transforming my so-so house into a lovely home, and I thought I’d share a little of my process with you while Holly’s away!

My office was one of the first rooms I finished when my husband and I moved into our home last year. As you know, I own Pink Loves Brown and I work from home, so I needed my office to be functional as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t put all that much thought into the design of it. It’s really not that bad, but I’m ready for a change.

Nicole Balch Office Redux Under $200(photo by Evan Thomas, from my Apartment Therapy House Tour last year)

Here’s my office as it is now:

Nicole Balch Office Redux Under $200

The basics of the room will be staying. That means I’ll be keeping my desk, chair, bookshelf, lamp, and several other items. I’m even keeping the paint color! Normally, paint would be the first thing to go because it’s such an easy way to change a room for little money, but I think the color will work really well so it’s staying!

Nicole Balch Office Redux Under $200

I’m only changing four things. That’s it! I think it will make enough of a difference to keep me happy for a while though.

I can make the curtains out of Robert Kaufman’s Purple Utopia fabric for about $50 and then splurge on a Thomas Paul Flourish violet linen pillow for $100. I’ll attempt to make a slipcover for my desk chair (around $10), and then I’ll pick up a new Helmer drawer unit in white from IKEA for $40. The red one I have now could be spray painted if I wanted to do this all for even less, but I actually need another draw unit in my studio so I’ll just bring the old one up there.

So with two purchases, two sewing projects, and $200, I can have a whole new look! That is unless I change my mind and go with something else first. It’s been known to happen. ;) So what do you think about my office ideas? What are some quick changes you’ve made to spruce up your home office lately?

(images linked to sources above, layout and text by nicole)

Interviews, Stationery

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

August 25, 2008

Hello everyone! It’s Holly stopping in for a moment… Remember me? (smile) I thought I’d say hello and let you know that soon I’ll be back here blogging full-time on Thursday, August 28th. I’ve really missed you but I’m having a wonderful time in Germany and our new vacation apartment is coming together so nicely so this time off has been beyond helpful. I hope that you’ve been enjoying all of my guest bloggers, I check in daily to read their posts and think they’ve done quite a lovely job filling in for me. It’s always hard to trust your blog to others, but it was good for me to let go a little and I’m so glad that I did.

Today I thought I’d pop in for a moment to share a special person with you, along with a mini chat that we recently had about her life as a stationery designer. Are you ready to meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT and see her pretty home and studio? Of course you are! We all love Tara!

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

Tara tell us, where do you live?
I’m in upstate New York in a town called Fayetteville, but I was born and raised in southern Connecticut.

And what do you do for a living?
Design, Illustrate, Teach Yoga – And run INK+WIT!

That’s all? (Just kidding). How did you get started?
I envisioned having my on business during college. My dad was an independent contractor for many years and I grew up around him having flexible hours and a steadfast work ethic. I had a solid idea to go freelance with design 4.5 years ago while working at a design agency in Syracuse. It was going nowhere. Not to be negative but my art was really put on hold and I was just standing still at this job everyday. It became a job, a paycheck. Right around the time I started practicing yoga consistently I got the courage to go freelance from my design job. I was in the midst of conceptualizing INK+WIT and how it would function. Fortunately, I had submitted some designs to Great Arrow Graphics in Buffalo, NY for licensing and they accepted four of them! This really gave me the confidence to keep building my idea.

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

How did it finally come together?
It was all very hard to figure out and at one point I just stopped trying and it came together. I remember networking like crazy and making more and more designs. I was showing them to friends and family and getting many positive responses which told me to move forward. Soon, a few local stores bought wholesale orders and I got more experience at how to order, stock, and promote INK+WIT to larger audience. It was not easy at all but I would not do anything differently. It was through constant research, evaluation, and long nights that this all came together.

What do you love about owning your own business?
The personal dialog and connections established with clients. I get to choose how to utilize my voice and vision. And, waking up on my own time sometimes does not hurt either. It is nice when you are having a day that you need not call in to report. However, I appreciate the time I worked in a design agency and web company. The design team was tight and I truly made some of my best friends at those two professions.

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What do you dislike about having your own business?
It is a huge responsibility and you always need to be ‘on’. I have learned that it takes 150% to make a small business work and function with integrity, speed, quality, and delivery. It can be exhausting but I stay focused on the goal and the goal is built with positive intentions. It drives me and gets me through the busy times.

Where do you find inspiration in Fayetteville, New York?
Lately, my backyard and also CNY Yoga Center, where I practice and teach yoga. The Erie Canal also runs near my house and there are great trails with lots of deer, woodpeckers, and fish.

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What is your favorite local shop?
We do not have any here, seriously! So, it is the Syracuse Real Food Coop where I buy fresh produce from local farms and my favorite drink, Kombucha.

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What’s on your wish list?
More travel, an Eames plywood chair, a guitar, and a horse.

Where do you find inspiration?
During meditation and travel.

Describe your work space…
In progress… I moved 7 months ago around the holidays and I am still trying to mold it – but it is playful, simple, warm, and functional.

Who do you admire most and why?
My husband, for his honesty and sincerity.

What do you like to do on the weekends?
Lately work, haha! yoga, gardening, small road trips.

If you could have any job in the world, what would you do?
Make documentary films.

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

3 Places You’d Love to Travel to…
Provence, Tuscany, and Tasmania.

Who would you like to have dinner with?
My mom (she has been ill for some time now and it would be nice to enjoy a meal with her).

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What is your favorite food?
Vegetarian Thai Thom Kha Coconut Soup.

What is your most treasured belonging?
My spiritual knowledge.

Best advice you’ve ever heard?
Everything is perfect and nothing is permanent (Dharma Mittra, my yoga teacher and dear friend).

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What are some of your goals in the next 5 years?
I am researching more animal sanctuary’s to raise money for through creating specific letterpress prints like the one I illustrated for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary where part of the proceeds will help rescue and nurture animals. I’d also like to create eco wallpaper for children’s rooms. Possibly a few sculptural objects like mobiles as well. I want to create more art and design that will be functional and uplift people. Oh and play guitar, a long overdue goal!

Meet Tara Hogan of INK+WIT

What are some of your favorites websites/blogs to visit?
decor8, designsponge, creature comforts, indie fixx, freshly blended, domino magazine, hive modern, poppytalk, bloesom, crafting a green world, Rachel Jones, dwell magazine, new york times art section online, treehugger, hostess with the mostess, Cool Mom Picks, Cuteable, Coochicoos, {frolic!}, Oh Joy!, Fawn & Forest, Maharam, little paper planes, nahcotta, pure food and wine, dharma mittra yoga, sfgirlbybay, Emigre, herman miller, bholu, lekker, architonic, pushmepullyou, centre pompidou, and Pentagram.

Whoa! That’s some round-up of reads! Thank you so much Tara for stopping in to share your work, inspirations, and your studio space with all of us. We appreciate seeing the more intimate views of designers we follow, so many thanks for giving us a peek into your world.

Readers: If you have a question (or ten!) to ask Tara in regards to small business ownership, design and illustration, or anything else that you can think of please comment and she’ll reply either today or sometime during the week depending on her schedule.

Note: If you are interested in her products you may also visit her Etsy store in addition to her website mentioned above.

(images from tara hogan)

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