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Meet the creative mind of Instagrammer @cestmaria

If you love creative and cohesive instagram accounts, beach scenes, melty ice cream, balloons and lots of dreamy pastels, Maria Marie is one to watch — Such a great eye! My friend Leslie Shewring taught a styling and photography workshop last month in Mexico and returned with wonderful stories to tell of adventure and the people she’d met, including her wonderful students. One immediately interested me because I’d been following her surreal-ish pastel playground on Instagram (@cestmaria) along with 40K others, and was pretty convinced she had been working in a creative field for many years.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8

That’s why when Leslie told me Maria Marie is 27-years-old and not even doing what you see in her photos for a living, I was amazed and had to learn more because those who are working day jobs and filling their creative cups at nights and on the weekends totally inspire me and I’m sure, so many of you out there. Would you like to meet Marioly Vazquez, known online mostly as Maria Marie? That’s her above – so cute!

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


Hi Marioly! It’s nice to “meet” you here. can you tell me how you are using the internet to share your creativity?
MM: Yes, of course. I don’t formally blog, although I would love to someday. I am microblogging though using Instagram and Tumblr because I love how fast and intuitive their interfaces are and it is so easy to stay in touch with everyone, share instant moments, and report in on the current projects I’m working on. I also have a website here.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
MM: Currently I live in Monterrey, an industrial City in the North of Mexico with beautiful mountains in its surroundings. I’m currently working at a museum and a foundation, I love being involved in multidisciplinary projects related to art and culture which supports society’s development. Although my days are quite busy, I always find time for my real passion, photography and styling, which I do as a freelancer. I’ve had the opportunity to work with diverse clients for different campaigns, and I’ve done some editorial work too.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


What do you love about photography?
MM: The possibility of saying a million things with just one image. Being able to provoke different emotions in people and leave them with a feeling of peace and happiness, is one of the most gratifying things. More than just taking photographs, I also love creating the perfect moment and scenario, being playful and capturing it. More importantly I love how photography gives me a sense of peace and purpose and I hope I can transmit that in my work.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


What inspired your passion for photography?
MM: My father used to be a hobby photographer and he used a film camera, it was a lovely Canon AE-1. He photographed my brother and me during our holidays, family vacations, or any other milestone event. I remember being so captivated by the sound of the shutter, I instantly wanted to get my hands on the camera. So my father very patiently started teaching me the basics of photography. I got so excited picking up our developed film, it was always an amazing feeling not knowing what would come from the pictures we took together. After several years I received my first digital camera (2.0 megapixels back then!) and that day everything changed. I took my camera with me everywhere, I loved shooting whatever captured my eye. What I loved the most about digital cameras was that I didn’t have to spend so much time caught in technicalities, and was able to focus on the composition and concept of my images instead.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


When and why did you begin styling?
MM: This started as a necessity, I’m such a wanderer, always imagining worlds, places, moments and beautiful color combinations. I would go out on weekends always trying to discover new places or pretty things to capture, but I never found places I imagined inside my head, and that’s when I discovered and started styling. There is no better feeling than giving life to your ideas and imagination. I started drawing and putting together my ideas on paper which helped me conceptualize and organize my projects better. Once I had a complete idea, that’s where the fun part began, prop searching! I started creating vignettes in my kitchen, backyard, bedroom, anywhere I could find beautiful light. Since then, styling and photography are things I enjoy and love to do.


Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


You recently took a class with Leslie Shewring, what did you do there and what was your takeaway?
MM: Yes I took her photography and styling class in Baja. Leslie is amazing, and she is so talented and creative. She has a very beautiful aesthetic that is very coherent in all of her work. We learned to work under pressure while styling — for instance, we did a photo shoot with different popsicles under the sun and also took photos of a giant ice cream, which believe me, in those conditions every second counts. I also learned how to take advantage of all the things you have on hand in that moment and to work in very different situations which you did not have in mind. One thing I also enjoyed very much was visiting Patricia Larsen’s home for an interior styling photo shoot. I learned a lot about etiquette when you photograph a stranger’s home. It is amazing how you learn to see things in different perspectives, it is very fulfilling when you are working with people, and everyone can capture the same moment but each with their very own point of view. That made me understand very well what makes a good photographer and stylist; Leslie’s creativity, imagination, eye for the detail and a unique perspective.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


What do you ultimately want to do with all of your creative talent?
MM: There are lots of projects I want to do, I’ve always been so fascinated by beautiful homes and spaces and would love to style interiors, and design sets for photo shoots someday. I wish to continue creating and experimenting either for my personal projects or for a client. I love working and collaborating with different creative people, because you always end up nourishing your head with fresh ideas for new creative and artistic projects, campaigns or editorials. I want to keep collaborating also with different magazines, publications and agencies and eventually publish a book with all my pictures and creative processes inside.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8


Where do you turn when you are not feeling creative?
MM: Talking about creativity is a really complex subject for me, but I love it. Normally it is creativity that finds me at the most unexpected moments! I’ve ended up writing my ideas on concert tickets, napkins or even in the palm of my hand. Now that we have cellphones it is obviously easier to take note of whatever comes to my mind. When I have specific projects and I’m not feeling that much creativity it always helps me to just listen to some good music, get away from the computer, grab a beautiful illustrated book or just simply change my perspective. This helps me get away the pressure of creating something instantly and it relaxes my mind and eventually ideas flow. Also a great source of inspiration is Pinterest and Issuu, but I risk on spending too much time on them and not creating, so I limit the time I spend.

Marioly Vazquez from Maria Marie @cestmaria on decor8

Thank you so much Marioly (and also Leslie!) for this chance to get to know more about you. I hope to see a lot more of you online and wish you heaps of success today and onward!

(images: Marioly Vazquez)

Posted in interviews on December 17, 2014

10 Questions + Studio Tour With Fine Artist Emily Jeffords

Looking for artistic inspiration? Feel the need to make something with your hands? How about a studio tour and some advice from a fine artist for those of us who want to try our hand at painting? I first found out about fine artist Emily Jeffords (and blogger) through Minted – I was shopping their site for work to install in my home and came across these. And swoon. It was love at first sight.


Then a funny thing happened. Out of the blue, Emily contacted me about possibly appearing on my blog. Fate? I’m not sure how many of you know this about me, but I grew up on the coast in South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. Finding out Emily was a SC girl too (she’s in Greenville) sealed the deal – I had to learn more! So I asked her for an interview and studio tour and well, that’s exactly what I’m about to share. I found this interview particularly inspiring for mothers with careers and aspiring painters. Let’s get started.

1.  Hi Emily! First, a little about yourself…
I am an artist and mother of two, working in a 100-year-old light-drenched studio & gallery called the White Whale in Greenville, SC. I create impressionistic landscape oil paintings on canvas featuring lively colors and slightly abstract skies.  My desire is for viewers to be reminded of sweet times past while bringing some beauty to life in the present. I began painting as a child and never stopped! Something about the creative process lets me say things that I cannot say with words – expressing feelings and emotions is so exciting to me.



2.  Were you classically trained or self-taught?
I graduated with a BFA in 2D fine art, which was so helpful and gave me the confidence to officially call myself an “artist”. However, one of the most helpful things for my artistic career has been doing painting-a-day challenges. The discipline and challenge of creating consistently has taught me SO much about myself and about art.



3.  What was an advantage of studying fine art and what is your advice for those who didn’t study but want to become a working artist?
It helped me think about creativity in a whole new way. However, I really don’t think you have to go to college to achieve that. In a way, all artists are self-taught. No one can train your eyes or your hands. That’s all on you. If you’re interested in becoming an artist (sans school) here is what I would do: try everything, test out new tools and materials, study the masters, attend workshops taught be professional artists, and soak up as much inspiration as you can!


4.  What do you love about being a mother and also working as a painter?
Having my girls in my studio brings life and joy to my space and to my work. I can see their influence on my color pallete, subject matter, everything. They make me stop, notice, and enjoy life a little more.



5.  What do you find challenging about having kids and a career?
My girls have grown up in my studio and around artwork, so they understand the ebb and flow of the creative process. But, they are young, and they are normal kids! When I create, it is so easy to slip into a wonderful focused “headspace”: I block out the world, getting lost in the movement and motion of the process. That’s a little hard to do while also parenting.



6.  How did you handle that challenge?
When I moved into a studio outside of our home I really wanted to be sure that my girls felt like this is their space to learn and create as well. When they feel involved in the creative process they’re on my side. I talk with them about my ideas and deadlines and in return they tell me about theirs! — we have “mini art” shows pretty frequently and they’re always working on a painting for someone special. ;)


7.  How do you balance family/work –what is a day in your life like?
Oh goodness, no day is the same … but, if I were to mash them together and come up with an average: mornings spent with my girls at home, some days their tutor comes to the house, others they come with me to the studio, but either way, I head to the studio around 11 am where I spend about 2-3 hours painting. In the afternoon my intern and studio manager might join me, we’ll package prints, mail goodness, send emails, keep all the wheels turning… We have dinner together as a family as often as possible, the girls go to bed and my husband and I relax and do a little more work. Work/life balance is a myth. It’s more of a juggle. The key is communicating with the people in my life, coordinating our needs and finding ways to support each other as often as possible.



8.  How have you marketed your work?
My “marketing strategy” feels incredibly natural and organic. I simply make an effort to share my artwork and process consistently. I’ve found that people want to take part in creativity – even if they cannot create it themselves every day.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 10.16.38 PM

9.  What is your greatest achievement so far as a painter and what goals do you have for your work going forward?
I think the process; the days all stacked together are my greatest achievement. There are highs and lows and many days in between, but maintaining my passion throughout the journey is something I am super proud of. I would love to collaborate on some more artistic collaborations with some dreamy brands and fashion designers over the next couple years to create products that mix fine art with everyday objects. Having people interact with art in every day ways is super exciting to me.



10.  What advice can you give those who want to paint but are too scared to “mess up”?
The scariest thing is to start a painting, or anything, really, telling yourself that this thing must be Perfect. It won’t be. Every painting is a practice. Some are going to please you more than others, but the process is the art. Giving yourself space to practice and to try new things is so healthy for your creativity.

Beautiful! Inspiring! Now I want to paint! That’s what a great interview and studio tour does I guess. Motivates.

Tip: Check our Emily’s photos on Instagram here. And you can purchase her work in her Minted shop here.

(images: emily jeffords // paige french)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, interviews on November 04, 2014

Shop Tour & Interview with Shelter 7

Hi again! Next, I want to share this incredible homewares shop called Shelter 7 that I found through Tara Pearce, a brilliant photographer who wrote in earlier this week about Shelter 7, since she recently shot it and hoped I’d be open to sharing it on decor8. Of course, I said YES!

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Styled by Sami Johnson, this shop shoot came out so nice! I thought though that I’d go above and beyond sharing her amazing visuals and so I made contact with the shop owners to learn more about who they are and what they do. I’ve included my interview the Shelter 7 founders, husband and wife team Rebecca and Terry Meyer, below.



For a jumbo-sized view of the above image, click here.

First of all, where are you located?
S7: We’re at 131 Ryrie Street, Geelong, Victoria Australia

How did you come up with the name Shelter 7?
S7: The name took a long time to come up with. We wanted an original name to capture the essence of where we live, so we went back to basics and came up with Shelter 7.

Can you tell us about your shop – the inspiration behind it?
S7: The shop is very much an extensions of mine and my husband’s love of unique and inspirational pieces. A combination of travel and vintage pieces sourced across the globe and some unique and very clever Australian designers.



For a jumbo-sized view of the above image, click here.

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Describe your style in a few words:
S7: A combination of old, new, unique and well designed.

What are some popular brands in your shop?
S7: Pony Rider, Kip & Co, and La De Dah Kids for children’s toys.



For a jumbo-sized view of the above image, click here.



For a jumbo-sized view of the above image, click here.

shelter7 - Photographer - Tara Peace_-11

Tell us about La De Dah Kids because I heard that this is also your company. What do you design?
S7: La De Dah Kids is our toy and kids accessories brand and our own unique designs. We design two ranges a year with the aim to design quirky and unusual pieces, with an ever-present emphasis on both affordability and quality. For our niche product range, we use old school making techniques such as knitting and crocheting. Our products are all made from the finest 100% cotton yarn and produced ethically in the comfort of our producers homes enabling them to work around their family needs such as child care etc. Our La De Dah Kids products are not only our own unique designs but are also made with love. They are tailored towards both children and the child at heart, lovers of the quirky and unusual, and anyone who reaches out to the amazing world with imagination, wonder and creativity.

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The bicycle print over the stairs – can you tell us more about that?
S7: This is created by Australian designers Pony Rider. They create versatile and inspiring pieces that look great thrown across your sofa, bed or hung as an artwork in the home.

Can you tell us about the shop space – it looks old and interesting. Did you have to renovate?
S7: The space had amazing light – but needed a huge amount of work to bring it back to life. It previously had been a costume shop for about 10 years. After a long 3 months of renovating and many late nights we found that we had uncovered the beauty and old character of the building. This gave our collection of sourced products the perfect home.

What challenges do you face as a shop owner?
S7: The work life balance is a big one and something that we have to constantly reassess.

S7: We know that whilst the business is in it infantile stages this is difficult to overcome. So being aware of these problems and planning ahead the best we can.

What advice to do you have for others who want to launch a shop, whether online or brick and mortar?
S7: Ensure that you have a strong product line and strong and unique imagery that sets you apart from all your competitors.

shelter7 - Photographer - Tara Peace_-13

Can you tell us more about the candles with the rifles on them? I want one!
S7: These are amazing aren’t they? This is a beautiful boutique brand in Sydney called Pigeon and Weasel. Their Triple scented soy wax candles are hand poured here in Australia into recycled glass beer bottles that the two co-founders collect from there local drinking hole. The scents are beautiful.

shelter7 - Photographer - Tara Peace_-2
Can you tell us about the textiles on the hooks and the pillows? I’m in love!
S7: These are created by the very talented local Australian girls Kip & Co. They make the most beautiful bedlinen, towels and now rugs. Their designs are very unique and inspired by unique, wild, and brave art and nature, soaked up on their backpacking adventures around the globe.

Who makes the big pillow shown above?
S7: Again this is another of the lovely Pony Riders designs. These cushions are perfect for lazing around on a slow sunday afternoon.

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Where do you source products for your store?
S7: We source products all over — from local designers here in Australia. We produce our own kids range and next year we will launch our adults line of homewares under the Shelter 7 brand.

Where do you go online for inspiration?
S7: Pinterest, photographers and decorating blogs are my biggest inspiration for the home.

Do you find blogs helpful in promoting your work and shop and if so, why?
S7: Blogs are very helpful in promoting our work on a global platform and also for finding shops. I know before I go on holidays I often research my favourite blogs for the “go-to” places and bloggers definitely do a great job of keeping us up to date on new and interesting places to visit.

Thank you so much, especially for sharing your gorgous shop and tips on new and inspiring products, with us today. Have a great weekend!

(images: tara pearce with permission)

Posted in interviews, Shop Tours on November 08, 2013

Meet Stylist + Author Emily Chalmers

Hello friends! Today I have a special interview with London-based stylist and author Emily Chalmers. But first, I hope that your day is going well for you. We just signed on our new apartment about an hour ago and the renovations begin next week (already!), so I’m living fast and crazy at the moment. The baby is doing so well too – I’ve entered my third trimester and my 29th week begins on Monday. I heard his heart beat again today at my appointment and he’s kicking as I type this, so he’s a feisty and strong little fellow. Pregnancy feels fun (finally) and though I still deal with nausea, I’m over the hard part so I’m living more normally again. Yay for that! Ok, so let’s get started shall we? Let’s meet Emily Chalmers!


I recently had a friendly little convo with London-based stylist, shop owner and book author, Emily Chalmers and you are invited to listen in below. Her books and life in general are so interesting to me, and she became a first time mom not too long ago and this made me want to chat with her even more – to see how she’s managing everything! Since she had her baby, she’s been traveling with her little bundle to some really inspiring places like Japan, so I wanted to tap in to her energetic and bohemian mother goddess self. I still feel quite clueless about the road ahead with my baby due and so many people tell me that you have no life once you have kids but I want to think that I still can have my own identity so chatting with women like Emily make me feel very positive and encouraged! Let us begin…


Hi Emily! Okay, so you recently moved – where are you living in London these days?

Emily: We’ve lived in the same area of London for years now – we love the East End! After 8 1/2 happy years in an old warehouse space in central Shoreditch we’re now just 3 years in to a “proper” house (with internal walls and central heating this time!) very near Columbia Road area, a few minutes walk from the old place. I love this spot – we have parks and a city farm near by, the canal’s not far away, and excellent transport links to anywhere else we might want to go. We’re also under a minute away from the vibrant market that takes place every Sunday on Columbia Road itself. Live music, good food, bric-a-brac and masses and masses of fresh flowers and plants. What a treat!

You also closed up shop but I understand you reopened it at home or? And how are your running it, by appointment only?
Emily: In the year following our house move I was due to move the Caravan shop premises as our lease had come to an end on Redchurch Street and the building was due for extensive renovation. I’d known this was coming up, of course, and had kept an eye out in the locality. Coincidentally I’d seen an available space very near our future new home and for some reason I kept going back to it – it was smaller than the previous shop and in a very different sort of location, tucked away under a block of flats in a much quieter area on the outskirts of Shoreditch and very near Columbia Road. We’d only been in our new home for a few months when I discovered I was expecting a baby. Suddenly everything fell into place and the premises around the corner became the perfect spot for Caravan! That Spring I secured Caravan’s next home – it hadn’t been used as a shop for a long time and with the help of a trusty builder we stripped it out and created a light and airy simple open space to make room for the 3 floors-worth of bits I’d managed to accumulate at Redchurch Street. I spent the following months editing stock and turning my attention to our online store. Baby Bunty arrived that winter and I then gradually built up a shop floor again whilst getting to grips with my new life as a mother too.

How is shop ownership with a toddler working out?
Emily: It’s been an interesting time, Bunty has moved from pram to playpen to playhouse in the shop next to me each day and it’s an extension of home to her now. We’re only a few steps away from our front door and always going back and forth, a good server system and a trusty laptop allows me to work from any location – it’s this flexibility that has allowed me to enjoy my time with the baby while keeping the business running. Customers visited by appointment while I was working out of the new space piled floor to ceiling with boxes. Even though we’re more organised now, this system still works best as I can remain hands-on in every aspect of the business and we can plan around Bunty’s schedule too. Seeing customers by appointment also adds a far more personal touch – it’s like having a visitor every time someone pops by and means I can be prepared for them.


What kinds of things do you sell?
Emily: The Caravan inventory has always been a mixed bag! We sell mainly home decoration, cushions, candle holders, wall sconces, mirrors, lighting, etc. alongside eclectic and unusual ornaments and gifts, such as little knitted dogs, baby shoes and tea towels. We also offer a few pieces of jewellery and some very lovely gold and silver leather clogs, so there are things to wear too. Our signature pieces are our vintage fabric covered cushions, vintage silk scarf drapes and a beautiful pineapple wall sconce that is produced especially for the store.

You still have an online shop, are you running that mostly full-time now?
Emily: The online shop continues 24/7 and is an area of the business that fits in very well with family life. I can pack parcels any time of the day and night – and often do! I am an established interiors author and stylist and I’ve always continued to produce features for magazines alongside running the shop. When I was fitting out the shop floor I made sure everything can be moved easily – I’ve kept the space very flexible too so that we can shoot there and work on other projects.

What are some current decorating trends that you’ve spotted in London lately?

Emily: We are surrounded by decorating trends here in London, especially in the area I live. There seem to be so many trends around – it’s lovely to see that everything goes nowadays. What I have noticed is that everything seems very much more considered than it did a few years ago. It’s as if people are just more aware of interiors generally. I’ve always been a fan of a more eclectic bohemian approach and this is definitely still a strong look generally.

What other things are you involved in – do you do styling jobs on the side or is your daughter and shop enough at the moment?
Emily: I do manage the odd styling job on the side and it tends to be in my shop or home. Bunty and Caravan are probably enough to be getting on with, but much of what I do crosses over, so it all works out somehow.


You are a new mom, how old is your daughter and what has motherhood taught you?
Emily: Bunty will be 2 years old next month. In a strange way, time has flown by but I’ve also managed to savour every moment. Ooooh, motherhood has taught me so much – I don’t even know where to begin with this question! Motherhood has helped me appreciate my life more too, it has helped me to simplify things and concentrate on what works best for me at this point in time. It is full of challenges and then, of course, of achievements. I love it!

Do you think that having a child changes a woman, and if so, how has it changed you?
Emily: Yes, I do think having a child can change a woman. Perhaps not every woman though, it depends on how you approach it. Like everything in life! I’m not sure how it has changed me but it has certainly developed me.



Have you noticed whether or not your daughter has a creative knack yet like you do and if so, in what ways?
Emily: Children are incredibly imaginative. I see this in Bunty and it’s a joy to nurture that quality and create a safe and secure environment so you can stand back, give enough space, and allow it to grow. Seeing Bunty setting out her little tea set in her playhouse in the shop is wonderful! The other day she gathered up three crows (we sell ornamental crow figures at Caravan), set them down in a neat row and put little pots in front of them and then said “crows having water” – I thought that was particularly creative seeing as she’s not even been on this earth for 2 years yet!

You author a few of my most precious and beloved books – you have really inspired me over the years. Do you have plans to do more books?
Emily: What a wonderful thing to say, thank you Holly, to hear my books have inspired is the highest compliment. I will definitely be doing more books in the future and I should imagine they will always be decorating related in some way – that’s my raison d’être!






What do you love about living in London and where are your favorite, inspirational haunts from cafes to shopping?
I love living in London – I love the spirit and vibrancy here and how you can find whatever you need or want, somewhere. I love the cultural mix and the creative energy, the fact that new things pop up all the time, alongside the good established, old things. I love the shopping opportunities and most of all the markets – there are many around London but those in my home area never cease to keep me interested and inspired – Brick Lane, Columbia Road, Spitalfields Antiques Market, Broadway Market and so on. There are some great cafes around – my local favourites have to include the Towpath Cafe on the Regents Canal and a new local favourite is Stories on Broadway Market where they won my heart by giving Bunty her own tiny fruit shake in a little milk bottle with a straw, when I’d only ordered one for myself and was planning to share it. It’s the extra thoughtful touches like that that make a place more special.




And finally, tell us where you go online for inspiration – who do you read, where do you shop for things, etc.?
Emily: I go online for inspiration far less than I’d like to say I do. I’m surrounded by inspiration in my busy day-to-day life so any extra found digitally is always a treat! Having Bunty has allowed me to discover the wealth of and occasionally dip into beautiful online shops for children. I also enjoy finding things on eBay for her. What I tend to do is miss the daily reads and instead I catch up with favourite blogs from time to time. Running a business around a little one means more often than not I spend my evenings working though occasionally I’ll plan an early night and will find time to have a proper blog surf, going from one to another, catching up on what you’ve been up to at decor8 and pouring over sites like Etsy too. What joy!


Some of my favorite things from Emily’s online shop are shown above: 1. LouLou 2. Trunk jug set 3. Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers 4. Metal storage box 5. Ceramic container 6. Gold beakers 7. Ceramic bell lamp 8. Poodle lamp.

Thank you Emily for sharing your world with decor8 readers, it’s a pleasure to meet with you!

(Top 4 photos: Debi Treloar, all others: Emily Chalmers)

Posted in interviews on November 07, 2013


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