Hello lovely friends, I’m on a roll with posts today so you’ll have to forgive me… :) I thought that since I am a contributor to the Matthew Mead Summer Issue that I’d help him spread the word and yes, I know that I already shared a huge sneak peek of the issue with you already (here)… But because I’ve already seen the entire spread of stories and noticed that everything is so nicely done that I think you may enjoy a few more glimpses of what he has in store for you with his second issue. As I told you already, Leslie Shewring and I teamed up to produce a 3 page story about creativity that you will find in this issue which is quite a delight for us to have our first collaboration in print. We hope that you like our story!
To purchase Matthew Mead Summer, please click here.
Congrats Matthew to another winning issue!
(image: matthew mead)
I was thrilled and honored when nearly 1,200 decor8 readers entered to win a signed copy of my new book, Decorate (UK version)! A big hug and a mighty thank you to everyone for participating. As promised, there are 3 winners and I’d like to share those names with you now. You will be contacted today with a request for your complete mailing address so that your book can be sent. Please allow up to a few weeks for it to arrive, depending on where you live.
T H E W I N N E R S A R E
#1006, Krystal Schroder
#11, Jorissa van Ginkel
Many, many thanks for entering this contest — for those who didn’t win, here is a list of many large retailers worldwide who stock the book, however lots of smaller shops carry it too. I am waiting for Chronicle, Murdoch and Jacqui Small Publishing to send me lists of where it is sold so I can give all of the shops a huge shout out on decor8 so when I have those lists I will share the stocklist with you. If you want a signed copy, Liberty online carries a few and Selfridges in London (in their book section on the lower floor has a few left) along with both London Anthropologie locations who carry signed copies for a limited period so visit their stores in London for those.
I appreciate all of your love and support regarding my first book, this was a huge step for me but the love and support in this community has been overwhelming and delightful — you’ve made it such a special time of my life and a great way to always remember this blogging era as I refer to this period when we are all online, blogging, connecting and meeting up. Who knows where blogs will be in twenty years, but personally this book will forever mark this time period as I’m sure it will for you as well. When you author a blog, so much is read and enjoyed but then forever stored in the archives — I have thousands of posts that some of you may never find as they are buried and long forgotten. That is why this book is such a special collection of my thoughts, tips, Joanna’s ideas, Debi’s gorgeous images that I love — and it’s all in one place so that others who like decor8 can have a little slice of it in book form.
Oh I have to thank you — I sooooo appreciate the many reviews that you are leaving on your blogs, amazon, other websites, etc. about Decorate — I’m linking all of them on the Decorate fan page on Facebook but if I’ve not seen or linked yours there yet, please run over and link it on that page and also on the decor8 fan page so everyone can see what you wrote!
And again — a big warm congratulations to Krystal, Krissy and Jorissa! I hope that you will enjoy your signed copy of Decorate from me to you. It is the UK version, so it will be in British English with the cover showing designer/writer Rita Konig’s New York City living room with her gorgeous sofa (shown in photos above). I hope that you enjoy it!
(images: holly becker for decor8)
(image: holly becker)
Hello friends and happy Friday! This is going to be a massive post so grab a cup of tea and spend some time as I have a ton of fun highlights to share from my recent week in London and my book launch party for Decorate. I have so many lovely things to tell you about and since I could go on and on and ON detailing every little moment, every dinner, every this and that so I’ll just share key highlights and photos mostly shot by my cherished friend, Seattle-based photographer Tiffany Kirscher-Dixon, from the launch party so that you can feel included in the festivities. (Tiff you’re amazing!) So! Okay, now where to begin?
First of all, I didn’t expect to have LIBERTY, iconic, magical, dreamlike Liberty, to be at all involved in launching my first book. I mean, hello!? I don’t know if I’m naive or what but I assumed I’d have a small party at home or in a small restaurant or shop in London where the publisher in the UK is based. I imagined it would be intimate and mostly close friends would show up along with some blogger friends. But then another part of me thought, why not go for something larger and more grand, because you never know who will come?
That’s when I took a leap of faith and started brainstorming locations.
When I thought of the top three places that I’d like to have a launch party in London, Liberty was on that very short list of three. But again, I felt Liberty was aiming high as they usually only host events for high profile people, do lots of fashion-related events, it was a risk but I thought we should at least ask. Ask we did and YES was the answer!
Seems Liberty wants to support both emerging and established brands, designers, authors and I think after this event they really understand the power of the internet and the tribe of people who follow design/craft bloggers much more than before — and that these communities are much different than other communities — we are a large tribe of friends online who really look out for one another and who desire to be in the company of our community leaders and members whenever possible, especially in person. At least that is my impression of the internet and the blog world – we truly love to meet those who are inspiring us each day online, and why not, right? It’s fun! I guess this knowledge made Liberty very receptive to the idea of doing a launch party for Decorate in-store in the first place – they knew about decor8 and they also saw the book and felt that the content tied in to their store and “vibe” there so it was a great marriage.
You may be interested to know of the beginnings… When we first approached them to host an event, they expected maybe 35 people to have an interest in coming so they decided to hold two events where I could come and speak to the press and fellow bloggers and then, talk to their customers and some of my readers, followed by a brief styling demo and then a signing. But things changed… When I announced the launch party on decor8 they had over 400 people contact them to attend and were pleasantly surprised. I was surprised as well, simply because I really didn’t realize what an amazing bunch of people lived in the UK and followed blogs like mine. I mean, wow – what an honor! After such a big response, they decided to have me speak at a few talks on Wednesday, do a styling demonstration and then a signing and then they added a second day to the event so I gave two more talks, a signing and two abbreviated tabletop demonstrations.
When they mentioned a demonstration, I immediately phoned up Leslie Shewring and Sania Pell, both dear friends, and said, “Hey there, want to do a styling demo with me at Liberty?” and they happily agreed (we were all so honored!) and so we started to brainstorm as to what we wanted to talk about and show exactly. I flew up to London a week before the event and spent 6 hours with Sania and her assistant Polly in Liberty deciding on the things that we’d use, then we spent a second day in her craft room coming up with ideas, making things, and determining what would work best. Our goal was to show how we could use Liberty products but also how to use Liberty fabrics in fresh, new ways so together we threw all our ideas into a pot so to speak and then determined what we’d end up keeping. I couldn’t have done this without the talent and hard work of Leslie, Sania and lovely Polly along with Tiffany shooting such lovely photos and Jo Packham, from Where Women Create magazine, for flying out to support the event and cover it for an upcoming issue of her fabulous magazine. I love all of you wonderful friends and felt so loved having them around me.
As I showed you a few weeks ago, this was our jumping off point — the palette and the fabrics shown below. We laid everything out on the bed in her spare room and then I made a mobile mood board so I could then come back to Hannover and start crafting and buying things that I needed to make stuff for the demo.
After we worked together in person, I flew home and Sania also went to work making things in her London studio and we were exchanging phone calls and emails as we finalized the “look”. Leslie, who lives in Los Angeles, kept in contact as we built out the idea – offering her suggestions as well. In the end, the table looked like this when our guests arrived at Liberty:
Wow, right?! That’s what I said. It was so beautiful. I realized later that in our excitement we forgot to add glassware to the table, so I had a good laugh at that and hoped no one would notice but by the time I’d noticed it was too late. It’s funny how you get so caught up in a moment that some things are forgotten. I guess that’s what makes us human and throughout the project Sania kept telling us that we needed “something wrong to make it right” as she is a huge believer in adding something almost unfitting to a perfect look to make it feel more approachable, grounded and to look a bit more interesting. So in the end I think having no glasses on the table was, in a totally unintended way, that bit of wrongness! ha!
For those of you not at this event, here is a run down of the table – what we used, made, etc.
1. The tablecloth is a fashion fabric from Liberty, so it was very lightweight. We chose gray as it would ground the look without it looking too sweet. To give it some bulk, we bought just under 3 meters of inexpensive linen from a fabric store and layered the Liberty fabric over it as our table cloth. We didn’t hem the edges, only frayed them and trimmed the edges with scissors to ensure the fraying was kept straight and neat.
2. The placemats and napkins from London designer Lisa Stickley, sold at Liberty, looked great against the gray. The dots and dash of hot pink on the napkins gave the look that bit of wrongness – in fact adding neon to this feminine palette, along with gray, definitely made it look much more grown up.
3. Around the napkins, flowers were cut in different sizes, ribbons sewn on, and buttons sewn into the centers. On the back was a safety pin. We thought these would be nice and easy to show during the demo because you don’t need to be an expert crafter to make them – they are really quite simple. The idea is that guests could wear them or bring them home to use in decorating or to pin to a curtain or anything really…
Inside – We removed the flowers in the upper left hand corner. Sania remarked that they looked a bit too perfect and I told her that was a result of being raised around lots of Martha Stewart crafts.
4. Under the napkin were small books shown above. We purchased small (4×6) soft cover books from Muji and using Japanese crafting table, vintage dictionary book paper and papers purchases at Liberty, the covers were each embellished in a different way and then we opened them and place the book directly beneath each napkin on the plate. Those pages showed an image from Decorate on the left page with sweet little paper, ribbon, fabric and paper embellishments around it. If you have a party, you can make books like these and instead of a picture from my book (ha ha), you can add a photo of the person whom you want to sit in that seat or a little menu card, a poem, anything really. Guests can take their book home and use it to record their memories of the evening or to use it for something else entirely. It’s a sweet gesture and very inexpensive, I think they were under $2 each to make!
5. Vintage silverware (mismatched) was found at a flea market – 6 sets for under $20 – then polished and placed on the table tied together with scrap Liberty fabrics. Easy but a pretty touch.
6. Beneath each set of silverware, cards were made from wallpaper and other things like Japanese tape. One side of the card was made to be pretty enough to almost look like a small piece of art that the guest could bring home to frame or tack to their mood board or message board. On the other side, a sweet message to the guest was left from the hostess.
7. For the flowers, we went with a casual look. Using vintage and new things, books were stacked (because this was a book launch so a sweet tie-in), cake trays were used as they introduced some height to the table, and several different containers were used to hold the flowers from French white porcelain to small vintage baking forms.
8. Above the table, a vintage lampshade found at a flea market for $5 was stripped down to the frame and then Liberty fabric was cut into long strips and wrapped tightly around the frame and secured in places with glue. Tiny faux flowers were added here and there and some ribbons as well. In the center, we used a disco ball because we didn’t have the means to use a real lightbulb and thought the disco ball would be quirky but also the light it reflects would make it shimmer a bit to appear as a light source. Silly but fun and we loved it!
9. Gorgeous garlands made from ribbon, iron-on adhesive and Liberty fabrics were hung above the table cascading out from the lampshade. Neon ribbons added that bit of wrongness that made it right. Both the shade and garlands were hung using that transparent fishing wire – it’s strong but invisible, and fastened to the ceiling using eye bolts.
10. In the end, we loved our table. It was sweet and pretty for a ladies lunch, but also inspiring because the materials we used were so affordable and some handmade so it really worked nicely with the theme of Decorate which is also about making a home personal and pretty.
I met so many people and signed so many books — I felt excited and motivated — it was very encouraging to a debut author for sure. To think I imagined having an event where no one would show up… I mean, I figured we’d have a good turn out based on other events I’ve had in the past but this was by far the big sha-bang! What a way to launch a first book!
And so there I was in London all last week planning for the Liberty launch for the first few days, celebrating each night with friends, and then actually attending the Liberty events. On Wednesday, I spoke to the press in a packed out room of about 45-50 people, then another group of readers for a standing room only talk for around 50-60 people as well. Then we did a styling demonstration powered by stylist/author Sania Pell, stylist/photographer Leslie Shewring and me. I have to add that those two ladies are nothing short of inspiring, amazing and creative – they are super talented and as a team we really blossomed. I would love to work with them on future projects where we make things for stores or do windows or displays of some sort – it was thrilling because everyone loved the display and even customers strolling through the store who were not part of the event loved seeing what we had done. How nice!
So after the demonstration, a line formed in front of my signing table and as I walked over to take my seat, I felt an urge to cry happy tears. I felt so moved by the experience of being surrounded by so much love and support – the air was alive with such a positive spirit – I was really “in” the moment and enjoyed each second of it. As I sat down and my first guest arrived asking me to sign her book, I felt this wave of, “Wow, this is really happening”, rush over me and I felt so calm and present, it felt very natural to be there meeting so many new friends and I felt honored that so many came to the event.
You see, when I was little I would hand write 10-15 copies of the same book and then pass them out to my dolls and bears, which I lined up on my bed, and then I’d rearrange them on the floor in a line in front of my desk, which was my “signing table”, and I’d sign each copy and hand it back to them. When you do this at 6 years old and then you are a grown woman in your thirties doing it before a live audience, it’s surreal and can be quite emotional for sure. I wanted to write a book ever since I was so little but many things happen in my life that prevented me from feeling able to do so — from a father who left us when I was 17 (we never saw him again) to other somewhat tragic events, I was so consumed by my day job and life in general that my dream was put on hold for many years. I wondered, even as I went to work each day, if I’d ever be on the shelf of a book store.
In fact, I would go to book stores in my teens and twenties and imagine my book on a shelf and feel somewhat fixed on making that come true though I had no clue how that would ever happened. I told my friend Paris over many after work outings that I was working on a novel – a “chick lit” story about a girl who lived in Beacon Hill, Boston. I made it to the 7th chapter and gave up but still kept the dream alive in my heart, tucked away for a future moment when writing a book felt right to me. Then this blog happened and here I am with a decorating book. I’m writing all of this because seeing my book for the first time in a book store made me a believer that if things are meant to be, that they will happen at some point in your life. The key is that you have to believe in them and do what you can to keep them alive and work towards a goal. I didn’t set out to write a book when I launched decor8, but after some time it made sense and the book that I was supposed to write first is the very one that I have written. Amazing.
But back to London. The next day, on Thursday, I returned to Liberty to give two smaller talks and two styling demonstrations which were very casual and fun — I got to really talk to my readers who came and since Amy Butler was also in-store, I introduced everyone to lovely Amy and had time to hang out with her as well. On Thursday, the group was much more intimate, which was nice because I had the chance to connect with so many who are dear to me that I’d only known online up until that point. Even some of my students from Blogging Your Way came to see Leslie (who teaches it with me) and I. I couldn’t believe it.
I was flattered and honored to meet so many…. And I loved seeing my team again who worked so hard on Decorate like the publisher Jacqui Small along with co-author Joanna Copestick, photographer Debi Treloar and our editor Sian Parkhouse. I was so honored to meet Amy Butler, in fact we ended up spending Saturday in Notting Hill shopping – we clicked instantly and I loved Amy. What a “real” lady, authentic and talented in every way.
Of course, I was delighted that my husband was there to share these events with me, along with Livingetc magazine, House Beautiful magazine and some other publications as well, including lots of lovely bloggers… I loved meeting my blogger friends! I also was able to talk to Emily Chalmers and was so pleased that she came, and I met Selina Lake, one of my favorite stylists. Many more were there, including some of the homeowners in Decorate, but my signing table was busy so I didn’t get to say hello. If you are reading and I didn’t get to meet you, I’m sorry for that!
I never in my life imagined this amount of love, having fans for me is another way of saying having friends. My gift to you is my book, and although you have to purchase this gift (I wish I could give them all away), at least it’s something you can have on your shelf for years to remember this time period in your life when you loved blogs and followed them. For me, whenever I buy something, there needs to have meaning and so perhaps owning a copy of Decorate makes this “blog era” a bit more special to you as it does to me. It feels good to have a book after writing on decor8 for over five years pouring out my heart each day.
You know what? I have to share a secret with you about my writing and even decor8. I often wondered if anyone would care, would listen, and I wondered if anyone would think my voice mattered? Have you ever felt that way about your blog? But you know, I slowly built my confidence and courage the more I put myself out there and I’ve learned that if you are passionate and consistent people respond. And so thank you all for coming to the Liberty event (those who came) and to those who will come to future events that I have (next one is in Amsterdam on June 25th – details here), and to those whom I may never meet but who can own Decorate — thank you from the bottom of my heart!
So yes, London… What can I say, the entire two days at Liberty was wonderful but then I had a bonus — on Friday, I was invited to the Kings Road Anthropologie to sign a cart of books for the store. I thought I’d sign a few copies so imagine my surprise when they rolled out a three-tiered cart with tons of copies of Decorate on it, wow! So I signed them all and then the store hired a car and brought us to the next Anthropologie location on Regents Street to sign more books in their “reading room” upstairs. I felt very much a queen for the day. After both Anthropologie signings, I then went to Selfridges on Oxford Street to sign stock there as well. I felt so honored to have been invited by both Anthro and Selfridges to sign my book for their customers.
Throughout the week, I definitely made time to shop but mostly high street stores so I didn’t get to roam the little shops that I love so much. John Lewis is always fun though, I bought this crazy red raincoat with puddy cats and hearts all over it by Avoca and some yellow shoes by FLY. I also noticed their delightful stationery department and the very nice Designers Guild tissue paper. I did get to shop the Portobello Road market and thanks to a friend who works for Anthropologie, I was told to walk to the very end and turn right onto Golborne Road (loved Bazar Furniture, 88 Antiques and Arban Interiors!) and there I’d find great shops and things along with a little “Morocco” and I did. I really liked the vibe down there and found lots of great home stores with French and Belgium furniture that I loved. Sania Pell, Amy Butler and I particularly loved The Cloth Shop on Portobello – great trims and delicious linens, vintage Welsh blankets… it was amazing in there. We had lunch at the Golborne Deli which had very fresh salads and delicious lemonade, I highly suggest taking a quick break there to refresh and relax. Also on Portobello Road we found some great vintage cloth stalls beneath the overpass that had some great jewelry and clothing, handbags, scarves — lots of fun things from mostly the mid century.
London treated me so well – I’ll never forget the friends I made and how wonderful it was to work with Liberty – an honor! I hope that you enjoyed reading my little essay on my time away and the book launch! :) Now it’s time to plan for the US mini tour for Decorate. I’m scared to fly over alone, but I’m coming, I’m coming! I am so motivated to meet my online friends in person so I’ll be coming over this summer to hit a few cities over in the US. I can’t wait you guys!!!! :)
You can find more photos and info about Decorate here.
(images: most are by photographer tiffany kirchner dixon, a few from my husband and I.)
I’d admit, this is a rather out of place topic for a decorating blog but considering it does tie-in to decorating as it’s about my own signing last week for Decorate at Liberty, I thought I’d share some ideas. I’m no book signing expert but I know lots of you who will soon author books and some have already sent me emails asking how signings work so I thought I’d lend some friendly advice based on my signing. Whether you are a new author or an old pro, these tips may spark some ideas for you — I didn’t read up on how to sign books 101 or anything… but I went with my gut instinct as I was clueless about how signings worked, and well, everything went well thanks to Liberty, my dear friends Sania and Leslie and so many others who are mentioned and linked below.
1. Place a stack of your business cards on the signing table so your new friends can take one home with them and so they can stay in touch. Mine were designed by my dear friend Tara Hogan from INK + WIT (see image below). She did a beautiful job and they are letterpressed with gorgeous deep impressions so everyone loved the feel of them (as do I!). They are also double-sided which makes them quite pretty I think.
2. Define your “signing table” with a sign, pretty things hanging above it, flowers, things that make your signing table feel cozy. It also will photograph nicely if you put some thought into it. Also make sure the area has good lighting!
3. If you have access to one, sit on a bench instead of a chair. That way, your friends can sit with you for photos and it’s nice because you are shown seated side-by-side vs. one hunching down over the other for a photograph which can be awkward. Plus it’s easier to have photos together and you don’t have to keep standing up for pictures either as I imagine after the 100th photo you could be quite exhausted!
4. Make sure you keep bottled water by your side at all times. You wouldn’t believe how much water you’ll need to keep your voice — you talk to so many people!
5. Have at least a few friends OR a few friends and one professional photographer, on hand to shoot the event. Tell them in advance what you want, unless of course they know what you want as most friends instinctively can figure it out. It’s a big deal to sign a copy of your book for fans. You want to have photos to remember the occasion by for years to come. My friend, Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon, is a professional photographer who flew out from Seattle to shoot the event. My husband was also there shooting, along with Leslie’s husband Dan, Julie Cove, and Sania’s husband Mark. Between them all we got some nice photographs. You won’t have a moment free to take photos yourself, trust me, so don’t even think you can swing it. :)
6. Talk with everyone as they approach your table, don’t quickly sign and shuffle them off. It may be the way for rock stars, but those of us who are writing books and have a connection to our readers will want to reach out and know them better. Speak warmly and show your appreciation. Spend a few minutes with each person — even if your queue is long, it’s important that everyone feels welcome. A word of caution though: don’t spend too much time or you won’t get to sign all of the books! And don’t give more time to some over others, it can make others feel left out.
7. Bring name tags and ask everyone to put their name on them and their twitter handle/blog/website, etc. It’s a great way for them to network at your event but also great for you — you don’t have to worry about getting the spelling wrong as you are signing books! The name tags we used were designed by Wolfie and the Sneak (see above images). Renee Garner did a wonderful job, everyone loved them!
8. Try to write a special message in each book that you sign. “To Leslie xo, Holly Becker” is nice, but I wanted to go the distance so I wrote a sentence or two in each copy that I signed – a different message in each book. I felt like nowadays, with so many people reading online that having an actual book that is signed and dedicated to you makes books feel different, special, and the memories that you attach to that book through the kind words of the author will surely be remembered each time the book is opened. That means something.
9. Use a black smudge-proof unscented sharpie that drys instantly! It’s the best. Don’t use a ballpoint pen, a pen that smells up the entire room (and makes you high in the process!) or worse, smears all over the place and gets on your clothes and marks up the facing page in their book.
10. Why not bring a book for THEM to sign? That is what is shown in the top photo of this post laying on my work table. I never in my life heard of this idea but I wanted to do it ever since I first imagined signing books. Leslie bought a fantastic softcover notebook for me that I ended up using for this purpose. That way, as I signed a copy of my book for my guest, they would in return sign (and often write sweet thoughts to me) in my “guest” book on my signing table. I remember that same evening, in my hotel room, sitting in bed on cloud nine as I flipped through each page reading each and every note. I vow to bring my book to each place that I roam on my book tour (and since it’s lightweight and softcover, I can) with the goal to fill each page with notes from my friends from all over. I’ll cherish it forever, that’s for sure.
Oh! And something I didn’t do — freshen up now and then — a dab of lipstick or gloss can make a world of difference in photographs so don’t forget to take mini breaks. :) I know, it seems shallow to say that but it is true! :)
Have you ever done a signing before? Do you have tips to share? If you have attended signings in the past (this was the first I’ve attended and it was my own, ha ha!) do you have any thoughts on how an author can make those at their event feel comfortable and appreciated? I think other authors reading this may find your tips helpful so please comment if you’d like to share your thoughts.
By the way, Liberty saved some signed copies from the event if you’d like one. They are offering free shipping within the UK and are very limited so click here if you’d like one. :)
(image: holly becker for decor8)