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Travel

Creative Flats

June 29, 2011

Goodness! I have so much to write about this week that I almost wish I had a team of writers that I could just assign all of these stories to because it’s hard to cover all of the stuff that I’ve been finding lately. I’m so inspired by a lot at the moment, my cup is flowing over. I think it has to do with summer and all of the people I’ve been meeting on my recent trips  – and even here in my own city there is so much to explore and do that keeps me energized to write. I’m going to keep you busy for the next few months with all of my finds so I hope that you enjoy what I have to share in the weeks to come. Are you ready to drool over this amazing business idea and these great flats? Because the company I’d like to share is called Creative Flats and the concept is brilliant.

Creative Flats

Though these flats are only based out of Montreal (too bad I don’t visit there each year as I once did when I lived stateside), the idea of having creative, beautiful resting spaces on vacation, a home away from home, isn’t a new idea but also isn’t so common even despite all of the traveling that creative people do to promote their work or to simply gain inspiration.

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

Creative Flats

The idea behind Creative Flats, which launched 11 years ago, is to serve style conscious clientele who want to stay in high-end beautiful apartments vs. cracker box ho-hum hotel rooms for the same price. Creative Flats is owned by decorator Nathalie Bouchard and stylist Annie Horth and together they bring that Nathalie/Annie charm to each apartment for a stylish, authentic and even home-y feel. I love how they mix objects from different periods and how detail-oriented they are. They’re a little Domino meets Vicente Wolf which is the best of the best really. Clean, modern, fresh.

I just stayed at a hotel and though it was nice, there was no attention to detail, security or comfort. I think the idea of Creative Flats is a great one – you have your own apartment, you can enjoy space to spread things out, everything is taken care of for you so you are completely comfortable. The more I travel, the more I crave comfort and convenience. I want extras, in fact, I expect them if I’m paying a good amount for the room. I want to enjoy beautiful surroundings but even more, I want to feel secure and taken care of and though it seems odd to say this, I want to feel like I am a special guest – I like that.

What do you look for in hotels and apartment stays away from home? Have you ever stayed in an apartment vs. a hotel? I have a few times, and some were hits and others definite misses or shall I say, “Run Screaming!” misses because they were that horrible. I wonder what your travel experiences have been most recently at hotels and apartments? Care to share?

(images: creative flats)






Travel

Meet The Blogger Recap

June 28, 2011

Hello everyone! I’ve finally sorted through a bunch of photographs and made some time to pull together a few images from our Meet The Blogger event in Amsterdam this past Saturday. I have a million photos in this post to share, but there are nearly 200 more in this flickr album… First of all, it was a huge success and exceeded my expectations as I think was the case for all who attended. The space was packed with stylish, inspiring lifestyle bloggers from various parts of Europe so together we had over 120 (mostly ladies) gathered to listen to lectures, eat cupcakes and have a glass a wine but the focus of course, was to mix and mingle and walk away feeling confident and ready to take on the world! How did Meet The Blogger come to be? I’d had meet ups in Europe before in places like Berlin, Stockholm, London and Amsterdam but hadn’t hosted a meet up in awhile and wanted to do one again now that I’m living in Germany. I just needed a little push… And wasn’t sure where to even begin as I’m in the midst of so much right now in my life.

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

But then, out of nowhere, that push came from the lovely and organized Lise, who has a job in corporate by day but who blogs by night over on the Urban Style Vibes blog in the Netherlands, and she too was dreaming of pulling together a meet up for bloggers. I’d not known Lise until she contacted me so I had no idea we shared a similar dream to host a blogger’s event. She was a bit farther ahead in her dream than I, she already had chosen a name (Meet The Blogger) and talked about the idea to hold the first event in Stockholm or maybe Amsterdam. I guess we can call this kismet because she had heard about the launch of my book, Decorate, and so she emailed me to see if I wanted to get involved in something she had only just started to plan called Meet The Blogger. I had no clue what it was about, but she told me some of her ideas and then I shared some of my own and Lise had a logo created and started to set the whole thing into motion because I wanted to do another book launch party and a blogger’s meet up combined, only this time in Amsterdam since my book is sold there in English at the American Book Center.

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Since then, Lise and I have talked a lot since February to work out how this event would run – it didn’t come together overnight! She was so easy to work with though at times it was tricky as we had to do everything by phone and email. That’s why when Lise flew up to London to meet me in person at the Decorate Liberty launch party in April, the whole idea of working with her made me much more comfortable. I thought it was very kind of her to connect with me so personally. While Lise and I were busy behind-the-scenes planning Meet The Blogger, we decided to pull in some sponsors so our guests wouldn’t have to pay for the event and we thought a goody bag would be a nice incentive to get everyone there – who doesn’t want free stuff?

As our ideas grew, Lise connected a fellow blogger, Janneke Romijn, who got involved — she happens to be a writer and publicist. Janneke is another amazing woman. I got to know more about her recently and she really inspired me with her personal story, she is such a determined woman and very strong and I admire this so much. So between Lise, Janneke and I this dream to host a blogger’s event started to take shape.

I worked on finding a location for the event, at first Lise found something outside of the city but my eye was on doing it in the city to encourage people to come. The location sort of fell into my lap because The American Book Center wanted to get involved and since they are friendly with Hotel V thanks to Rick Lightstone (Rick you’re the best!), they were able to get us that space for the event at no charge to us. Great!

Once we had the location it all felt very real and exciting and Lise and Janneke met with the hotel to work on the details while I made it my mission to tell everyone about the event so that we’d have lots of people invited and involved — who wants to host an event and have no one show up? So I literally told the whole entire internet. And people responded and before we knew it, we had sold out and had to actually turn people away as the space couldn’t hold everyone comfortably otherwise.

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

As one domino fell, effortlessly pushing the next, we started to pull together our sponsors. In the end, British designer Kelly Hoppen sponsored all of our drinks (sadly, she wasn’t there but her lovely publicist came) and Lily’s Cupcakes kept us all saturated in sugary sweet goodness. Flavourites came to talk about their blog and business and we had Dutch designer Mariska Meijers give everyone a lovely bookmark for their very own copy of Decorate (placed in our goody bags) and Dutch interiors magazine 101 Woonideeën gave everyone a few copies of their magazine and talked about the event on their blog too (here). The name tags that everyone wore came from Wolfie and the SneakThe American Book Center gave away a few copies of Decorate and co-author Joanna Copestick, also attended which made me so, so happy as she was such a huge part of making Decorate come to life and though she’s shy about attending signings, I’m just so happy she flew in from London to be a part of it all. I even got her to sign some books with me not only at Meet The Blogger but at The American Book Center later that day. 

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

I was personally thrilled to have VTWonen as an official sponsor, their editor-in-chief, Monique de Ruiter, attended Meet The Blogger and that really impressed me and I enjoyed meeting her very much. VTWonen so generously gave us our own photographer, Jurriaan Hoefsmit, for the day to shoot the event and they gave everyone a copy of VTWonen as well. They also announced the event in their magazine before the event and gave us a wonderful shout out on their blog yesterday, which we are so grateful for. My husband, Thorsten Becker, also took photos which was great.

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

The event was so wonderful, I really enjoyed meeting so many bloggers in this part of the world and it really impressed upon me the need to get bloggers over here together again in the future because they certainly are interested in these events and many asked us when the next blogger’s networking event will take place! That’s exciting! I’ll announce something on decor8 in the near future as I’m looking at BERLIN, GERMANY for an event in October and that one will really rock as I love Berlin and already have a few great sponsors on board for that one. Yay for bloggers in Europe, what an inspirational bunch of people who came out on Saturday, it was so encouraging and lovely for me but also for all – the buzz in the air was contagious and the vibe was so positive.

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

Meet The Blogger Recap

If you missed this event I hope that you’ll come out to Berlin in October for another blogging event to network and learn — the date will be announced on decor8 sometime this summer so you can get it on your calendar. It will also be in conjunction with Callwey Verlag, a huge German publishing house who will be releasing Decorate in German around that time with the title, Lust auf Wohnen, so I’ll have copies of it available in German at the next event which will be really fun for me to share!

By the way… I wanted to add captions to all of the photos with everyone’s names but I just cannot remember all of the wonderful people I met so I decided to not list anyone because some I do know but I felt like it would be unfair to list them without listing everyone. I hope that you understand. If you are shown in any of the photos above, please comment and say hello so people know who you are!

And well finally I need to point out the real reason behind a mix + mingle for blogger’s like this. I want people online to make lasting connections. I’m a connector, and through my online Blogging Your Way class that I teach along with Leslie Shewring and Thorsten Becker, I’ve always taught my students to not be scared of taking risks and to try to meet up with fellow bloggers in their own cities from time-to-time just to solidify those online relationships. I believe that relationships can only deepen when people take their virtual friendships offline for a bit to share, connect, laugh and run around with their cameras snapping a zillion photographs as you simply cannot get two blogger friends in the same room without cameras click, click, clicking!

I love sharing my book with everyone, I’ve had so many ask me to share it and sign their copies and events like this allow me to connect with people, which I love. It means a lot to me to be part of your life, offline too, as a personal friend and even a bit of mentor because I want to encourage women to just go for it when it comes to realizing their dreams and I want to help them to see a way out if they are currently stuck. So I hope this blogger’s event, the book signings that I do, classes that I teach both on and offline, continue to encourage and motivate people to connect, mingle, share and to learn and grow together.

To conclude this super long post, I want to thank all of our sponsors and also to my partners-in-crime, Lise and Janneke. I’m happy that together we were able to put Meet The Blogger into motion! We love you Amsterdam!

Update: A VERY special thank you to our volunteers for helping us to set up the event and for registering our guests as they arrived: Kate Baxter, Carole King, Jantine Vaartjes and Caroline Sleijffers.

(Photography: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Thorsten Becker and Holly Becker.)






Travel

Postcards From Amsterdam

June 27, 2011

I thought that today, because I’m still unpacking and settling into my usual routine, that I’d share a few postcards from Amsterdam with you. They are not really postcards, but shots that I took on my iPhone using Instagram and I decided to upload them to my MacBook so that I can share a few impressions with you now. I will talk more about Amsterdam and the amazing Meet The Blogger + Decorate book signing event there, and I have photos of me decorating the shop window at the American Book Center there as well as lots of photos from the event itself… but for now I simply want to share a few inspirational impressions from the road along with links that you may enjoy. Make sure you click on the music links below from my playlist, I have some fun videos for you to watch.

Postcards From Amsterdam

Me on the train and some shots of Amsterdam. I listened to Sia, Adele, The Smiths, Jordan Knight, Ellie Goulding, Florence & The Machine, Eliza Dolittle, BT, Amy Seeley and The Ting Tings on the ride there from where I live. It takes about 4 hours on the high speed train, a direct train from door-to-door, which I loved. When I think of that Amsterdam I imagine flowers, canals, train rides, bicycles and beautiful architecture. What do you think of when Amsterdam comes to mind? Now I wonder…

Postcards From Amsterdam

Here’s another view of the same waterway using a different photo filter. And then you can also catch a glimpse of the full house we had at the Meet The Blogger + Decorate Book event, it was packed! You can also see a spot where I enjoyed a smoothie break at Lite/Dark and a fabulous dinner with friends at Roots.

Postcards From Amsterdam

The Hotel V is where I stayed and where we had the event. The light looked like a disco ball above our bed, which made me smile just a bit as I have a thing for them. I really liked this corner ice cream shop but cannot recall the name of it but found it almost as sweet as the frozen pleasures that awaited inside… I ate at the Italian-owned Uliveto cafe shown above with all of the containers of olive oil against the wall on industrial metal shelving. In fact, I ate there several times, with friends and without, since it was 2 blocks from our hotel. And of course, to prove I was there in Amsterdam, you have a kooky self portrait. For fun, I decided to try to take one of myself that wasn’t posed or of me looking directly at the camera. It’s a challenge to look to the side and take a good photo of yourself, you should try it if you’re looking for a fun creative challenge, you’ll see!

Postcards From Amsterdam

Lots of people made my stay in Amsterdam special. I wish I had thought to use my iPhone to collect photos of all of them, and it inspired me to do that next time when I uploaded all of my photos from this trip and noticed that I didn’t photograph those I wished I had. The next time I travel I’ll make it a plan to photograph every person I share a meal with, everyone who makes an impression on me at all… because it’s the people who make a place and not the place itself. Nice cafes, pretty canals, gorgeous buildings may be what Amsterdam has but those things are not the soul of the city, or any city, but it’s those whom you mingle with while there and those who make an impact on you that forever shapes your view of a place.

Above you can see my sweet husband Thorsten with my friend Yvonne, Rick Lightstone from the American Book Center and my c0-author Joanna Copestick. I also spotted a hotel with a brilliant name, Thorbecke. I thought that if Thorsten Becker, my husband, owned a business, this could very likely be a great name for it. The place with the red awning was taken from my hotel window, it’s a pub called Cafe Kale (great food by the way and make sure to buy the local brew produced in a real windmill). I got to share meals there with my husband a few times and then, since Victoria from SFGirlByBay was in Amsterdam, we had drinks and snacks at Cafe Kale together as well.

Postcards From Amsterdam

You can see a glimpse of the shop window that I decorated with pages from Decorate. If you walk by the American Book Center in Amsterdam between now and mid July, you will see the Decorate window that I made. I hope you like it and I do hope that if you see it live, that you’ll tell me and even share a photo of it with me on my wall over on my Decorate Facebook page. It was my first window ever so I felt really shy about it but when I was finished I felt really proud of myself. Funny how that happens! I also enjoyed shopping at a beautiful interiors store called Nunc and of course, hanging out in cafes. Many of them. And aren’t the lights over the canal tunnels so lovely at twilight? I spotted a swan beneath the tunnel just seconds later… gracefully floating by creating ripple effects in the water that gave me a slight chill to see it. There is something so magical about swans, twilight, canals and twinkle lights and before that moment, I’d not known of that magic before…

Postcards From Amsterdam

Many other lovely buildings and shops that I visited, one shown above is Sissy Boy Homeland. I felt so charmed by the many streets of Amsterdam and while my hotel wasn’t in the best location to explore my favorite part of Amsterdam, the Jordaan, I made the best of it and tried to find things local to Hotel V that were nice still.

I didn’t get photos of Fifteen where I had lunch, but it is the restaurant that belongs to Jaime Oliver and the interior was quite nice and very large. Other links of places I’d visited: The Handbag Museum, Leuk (great clothing), DR Wonen and the Athenaeum book store with its tons of many amazing magazines! Of course, I popped into a million random places that I didn’t have time to snap a photo of, but when you’re traveling for mostly business it’s hard to spend that quality time shopping as one would like.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed a few of my postcards from Amsterdam today. When I travel I rely on my iPhone more and more these days to freeze moments in time into simple snapshots made pretty thanks to the Instagram app or Photo+ on the iPhone. It’s fun and effortless and well, it’s a nice way to remember everything you’d seen once you are back home and ready to blog your travels.

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Books + Magazines, Travel

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

April 22, 2011

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?

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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:

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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…

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

Outside

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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!

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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!

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights(Above: Emily Chalmers, Jo Packham, Tiffany Kirchner Dixon, a lovely friend signing my guest book, Sania Pell, Leslie Shewring, Julie Cove and me.)

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.

Liberty Styling Demo + Launch Party Highlights

(Above: Julie Cove, Amy Butler, me and Tiffany Kirchner Dixon)

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.)

 






Books + Magazines, Travel

Time To Go To London To Launch My Book!

April 11, 2011

Well my dear readers and friends, it’s time for me to hop on the plane and go to London for my official book launch party + signing on Wednesday, April 13th at Liberty London. I’m so excited that I’m about to burst — and I promise photos and a recap! I can hardly believe this is really about to happen and I’m very, very excited about it. Here is my schedule for the week in case you’re interested. I’ll be tweeting from the road all week so please follow me on Twitter if you’d like to follow along. :)

Time To Go To London To Launch My Book!

Today I’ll arrive in London and then work with Sania Pell and Leslie Shewring to run through our demo together and do a bit of crafting. Can’t wait to be with Sania + Leslie again — such dear, sweet ladies!

Tuesday: I’ll be tied up at appointments all day, including a meet up over at Liberty to give merchandising our display that they’ll need to install before Wednesday. Fun! On Tuesday evening, a dinner with friends.

Wednesday: I’ll meet Leslie and Sania and we’ll pick all of the flowers that we need for our demo from the gorgeous Liberty flower shop on the first floor. Then it’s time to prepare the table for our demo and do the flower arrangements. At 4pm I have a private press event followed by a video that Liberty will shoot of me in their store. After that, I will do a customer talk at 6:00 to a private group as well. Then at 6:30 in the new Liberty Dining Room on the 3rd floor I will be there with Sania, Leslie and anyone who would like to join us to present a 20 minute styling demonstration along with some decorating tips. After the demo, there will be a signing and my co-author Jo Copestick will be there as well along with a mix + mingle until the store closes! Come one, come all! Lots of bloggers will be there so I’m very excited to meet many of my colleagues.

Thursday: I will return to Liberty again since they decided to add a day to my schedule to accommodate more of their customers and friends of decor8, so at 5:30 pm and at 7:00 pm I’ll do two more talks and signings (but no styling demo) so you’re welcome to attend either event but you’ll need to email my publicist, Liz Somers, to get on the guest list for Thursday (liz [dot] somers [at] aurumpress [dot] co [dot] uk). Come if you can!

On Friday, well… I can’t tell you much about Friday yet but I’ll fill you in on Twitter – fun stuff for sure! And on Saturday I’ll be in Notting Hill to shop and then returning back home in the evening. A very full week.

If you are coming to the Liberty launch party + demo on Wednesday or to the special talks at Liberty on Thursday, I can’t wait to meet you and share a special evening with you and so many other lovely Decorate contributors who will be there including photographer Debi Treloar. I can’t wait to see Virginia Armstrong, Emily Chalmers, Debi Treloar, Selina Lake, Abigail Ahearn, Yvonne from Yvestown and some others who contributed to Decorate. It will be a memorable occasion for sure. See you at Liberty!

Book fan page – Links to reviews, event dates, etc. I’ll be going on a mini US tour in July to Boston, New York, Philly, Atlanta, Chicago (may

Order on Amazon.co.uk

Book Depository

Amazon.com, Anthropologie (online and now in stores nationwide and in the UK like Selfridges), Barnes + Noble online, Chronicle.

The book just released in the UK on March 25 but Anthropologie has an exclusive on it so only they can sell it in advance of it’s US release date on April 20. That means you can go to your nearest Anthro store and pick up a copy now in the US and in the UK. After April 20th you can find it in stores in the states and online where books are sold.

I can’t wait to see you at Liberty on Wednesday and/or Thursday — and if you cannot make it, I’ll be in the states in July so perhaps I’ll be able to meet you then because I’d love that. This is a very exciting time in my life, I am thrilled, scared, excited, emotional (very emotional) and I’m really savoring each moment of this. We all have those moments in life, whether it is launching a book, having a baby, buying a home, getting married… they are all very big events so you must be able to relate to the emotions I’m feeling right now – it’s a crazy mix for sure. I can’t wait to be “in the moment” this week and to meet so many who have been such an inspiration to me — and of course, I will share lots of great photos the moment I return. Enjoy your week… I’ll catch up with you very soon again.

xo, Holly

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Travel

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

February 17, 2011

It’s Thursday, almost the weeeeekend! Yay! How are you? I’ve been working on a few projects which includes a little book tourand launch party so that has consumed lots of my time recently. It feels surreal to be a debut author and to be able to take it to the streets very soon. I’m not sure where or when yet, but as soon as I know more about my mini book tour I will be posting about it on decor8 (and on the Decorate fan page over on Facebook) and inviting each on you to come play! Now let’s talk stylish commercial spaces.

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

I don’t write alot about commercial spaces because most of them don’t do it for me if you know what I mean. Seems lots of places follow very specific formats when it comes to bars, cafes, shops and though I understand why I often wish some designers could still follow codes to the letter yet manage to bend the rules ever so slightly to develop a few new concepts. That is why, when reader Mia sent me a press release announcing the fabulous Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen located in the heart of Vesterbro (I love it there) and I had to share it on decor8 the moment I saw the photos. It opened last May and looks fantastic, wow!

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

Mikkeller is one of the world’s best microbreweries known for experimental brewing and they recently teamed up with Danish design agency Femmes Regionales to create an elegant, charming spot to socialize and grab a beer in the center of Copenhagen.

“We found the contrast between the classical pub interior and something more modern really interesting,” says Caroline Hansen, one of the founders of Femmes Regionales.

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

Mikkeller Bar In Copenhagen!

The bar is a casual, quirky and yet sophisticated space with wooden tables and benches, a shiny wall of black tiles and gold details found in lighting and hardware. They wanted to make the setting a bit tranquil so the crowds that it draws would chill out vs. bang their fists on tables and behave like your typical sports fans that you find in most pubs. “We like to demand something from our audience – beauty generates beauty”, Caroline explains. This pub is one posh place to grab a glass of ale! We need this in my city of Hannover! I love the fresh green and yellow accents, definitely not what I’d expect to see in a pub and is a very refreshing change for sure.

(images: mikkeller bar)






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