This past weekend I teamed up with DaWanda to create Make It! Shop It! Blog It!, an event to celebrate blogging and small business! (You can click here to get a taste for what we did and I will show you a bag that I made in the video or watch the video over on YouTube here).
We had around 130 attend from Berlin and other parts of Germany and the weather was perfect for what we had planned: Two speakers indoors (Nicole and I) and a screenprinting workshop outside given by Nadja of Smil and Britta from Bloody Bunny (they are hosting another workshop next week for a fee if you’d like to attend, more info here in German.)
After we spent the afternoon indoors mingling, eating, listening to Nic and I, everyone then had a chance to step outside for a screenprinting workshop. All could select between three motifs: bees, clouds, or a sailor bear and each were given a cotton tote to screenprint on and to keep at no extra charge. I selected the bear, you can see my finished bag in this video. It’s really cute, thank you Britta and Nadja for the great workshop. Everyone loved it.
I was scheduled to speak first and was given a two hour time slot and I was a bit scared because I had no idea how I would speak for 2 hours straight from a podium before a sea of strangers. I was a bit scared but I didn’t want to appear nervous because that would only make the DaWanda team feel stressed and I saw no need to do that. I didn’t even write a speech, I only had a few notes that I had scribbled down on the train ride there. I guess I didn’t expect a stage, a microphone, so many people to REALLY show up. When I arrived and saw the huge room full of chairs I became a bit tense! Lucky for me, I have a technique for calming my nerves which I used many times before going up on stage and they worked because the moment that I started speaking I was completely myself and felt like I was before friends. I couldn’t believe all of the smiling faces as I looked out at so many, men and women together, all there to learn more about blogging and how they can use a blog to expand their business. Yay!
Nicole from Luzia Pimpinella during her lecture on blogging and how she uses her blog to connect with customers and grow a small business as an independent designer.
I observed many taking notes which made me want to keep talking because everyone was really focused on what I had to say. I was so impressed by that, it gave me the courage to continue. Funny thing is, I wasn’t alone because I asked the audience a lot of questions so it became more like the way I operate this blog — a discussion — I throw ideas out here and then all of you jump in and comment. My talk was structured in a similar format. This is how I love to approach public speaking — getting as many in the audience included as possible because it helps steer the topic in the right direction so that I was able to spend time on points that the audience truly wanted to hear. I once gave workshops and lectures when I worked in the corporate setting but that was several years ago so I wasn’t sure if I could still draw from past experience and count on it to see me through… but public speaking must be like bike riding because if you have done it before and stop for awhile it seems like doing it again isn’t such a problem. Funny how my background helps me out now as a small business person. That’s why I never doubt the path I’ve followed in my life because all roads brought me to the point where I am today just like so many of you and so one cannot regret past career decisions. It seems a skill from an old job, no matter how much you thought you’d never use it again, can be a valued and needed skill a long way down the road.
What did I talk about? Well for one, I gave tips on blogging and promoting products through a blog, from writing on a regular basis, keeping your content fresh and positive, putting your store widget on your blog, the importance of responding to comments left on your blog, sharing your inspirations with readers, how to handle days when you have nothing to blog about, visiting other blogs to leave sincere comments, not letting the copycats (people who copy your products) get you down, being patient and not sticking too closely to your stat counter, approaching larger blogs to see if they’ll talk about your work, sticking to a theme (don’t veer off of your blog topic too much), carry business cards to promote your business and your blog, and the importance of taking crisp clear photos of your products that are true to color to post on your blog. You have to know that these tips are truly new and exciting to many in attendance because blogging in Germany within the craft community is still new and maybe it’s at the stage where American craft blogging was back in 2004ish. It felt exciting to speak to a crowd that was so enthusiastic and excited about breaking into the world of blogging.
We also discussed a bit about photo copyrights, and I was so pleased when my husband Thorsten raised his hand to share the research he has done on the topic being a photographer himself. Thanks, Tee!
Note: For all those who are interested in learning more about blog photography and copyright law in both the U.S. and Germany, Thorsten pulled together his research for you in a PDF file that you may download here. It contains plenty of links and should answer your questions on this topic.
I also mentioned to everyone that I would provide a list of some of the larger blogs that you may want to contact to see if they’d be interested in writing about you and your business. I have so many in mind that I do not know where to start, but since I mentioned Apartment Therapy in my lecture I’ll begin with them. A few others that I personally have had write about me in the past that I also read and respect are: Creature Comforts, Oh Joy!, Bloesem, Style Files, Emmas Designblogg, oh and perhaps this may be a great resource: Check out the international design blog slideshow that I pulled together for Domino magazine online. You can contact those lovely bloggers, too!
I want to thank DaWanda for teaming up with me, accepting my offer to do an event like this in Germany in the first place, and for giving me an opportunity to meet many creative and lovely new people. I have had this dream of pulling together a function like this in Berlin for over two years now so to see it come to life for me was a huge dream come true and meant SO MUCH on a deeply personal level. I also must thank and recommend the Gotischer Saal for events if anyone is looking for a place to rent in Berlin for a function. The building is beautiful and the couple who run it couldn’t be sweeter.
For those not in attendence, DaWanda taped both of the talks and will turn them into a podcast so when those are finished I will blog it with a link so you can listen in.
(photography by thorsten becker)
Good morning! Many of you asked if I would share some of the home products that I’m finding here in Germany as I furnish my apartment, so this post will introduce you to some that I frequently find in local shops. Of course, this isn’t to say that this is ‘the’ style in Germany, it’s not, but it is pretty common to find the items on the below list in small design shops or even larger department stores in northern Germany.
If you are interested in learning about where you can find these products in your country, please visit the websites linked below and click around… you are sure to find a store locator on each site. Here’s a quick list of what I’m seeing in shops and what is inspiring me right now. I think these things are also hot in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Norway too as I read design magazines from all of these countries and have noticed some or all of these things contained within their pages.
1. Aluminum or hand painted boxes (with lids) from India. My aluminum ones are from a little shop near my house for only 20- Euros each but they can go as high up as 100- Euros elsewhere.
2. Poufs. Very popular. In all sizes and shapes, leather, fabric, you name it.
3. Lampions and rice paper pendants (round). P.S. Someone in the U.S. seriously needs to order and sell the Orike Muth collection of lights and pillows, she is a local designer from Hannover and is hugely popular. If you are a shop owner you have to check her out and bring her goods to America.
4. Colors: Berry tones and gray. White and black. Lots of lilac, fuchsia, and gray.
5. Folksy design (see the box I found in Amsterdam above for an example) and Asian motifs (lotus flowers for example). Lots of Russian nesting dolls too.
6. Wallpaper is still pretty hot here.
7. Ethnic inspired lighting, especially pendants with cut out patterns.
8. White porcelain also with cut out motifs. See my Pol’s Potten lamp below from Le Souk as an example of this.
9. Roman blinds and white sheer curtains or brightly colored gauze or cotton curtains with tie or tab tops. Think Morocco or India. Relaxed but vibrant. Little pattern on the windows, solid hues are in.
10. Wood floors kept natural or painted in a bold color or white. I don’t see a lot of high gloss black floors here. Lots of pergo (affordable and durable).
11. Wall decals, mostly florals.
12. Baskets, like these from Rice via Car Mobel, in bold berry tones.
13. Tin mirrors.
14. Party lights around mirrors or windows, no party necessary. :) I put mine around a simple mirror from IKEA in my living room. Note: My living room is only 6 weeks old and still in progress so this is not the final view of the space.
15. Mid century modern furniture paired with modern or ‘country’ style. IKEA is everywhere, but mixed in with vintage flea market finds or Jugenstil-inspired furniture.
16. Topiary trees on windowsills. I see this fairly often when I’m walking around my neighborhood. I have a small Myrtle Tree myself. Rosemary is another good one to use.
17. “Cute” design, like Barbapapa, colorful accents from RICE, crochet coasters, plastic lace placemats, fun magnets, small toys on shelves, plastic deer toys, items with personality. I picked up this Barbapapa in Amsterdam and placed in my cabinet until I find a better home for him.
18. Natural minimalism with lots of wood, white, silver. I usually see lilac as the accent color or medium gray.
19. Wooden cabinets in white or black with glass doors. I have one in white.
20. Plastic floor mats, usually found in the hallway or kids room. Rugs from RICE are very popular. Cotton stripe rugs are also popular. I like the one shown above with the cutie squirrel trim. :)
21. Plastic melamine trays for serving guests.
22. Moroccan tea trays as coffee tables like these from Le Souk or small round wood tables of varying heights arranged in front of the sofa painted in gray, white, black, etc.
23. Natural wood stools placed near the bathtub for stacking towels.
24. Orchids as houseplants. I see them everywhere!
25. Moroccan lanterns in white, black, or silver metal.
26. Turkish towels with tassels. I love them! Le Souk has them (where I purchased mine) but you can also find them at shops like Zara Home or in this Dutch shop called Zester.
Now for some popular brands that I find in small shops locally:
- Rice. Not the kind you eat, rather the Danish company that you wish you could eat as everything is so sweet looking. I find their products in many shops here in northern Germany and on various German online shops. They’re a real hit here.
- Sia. When I first saw their label I thought of one of my favorite singers from Australia but this Sia is different, it’s a home fashion brand based out of Trier, Germany. I find many of their products locally, too. Pillows, dishware, etc.
- Kokon. This is a company based in Munich with a large store there as well, but I am finding their products in shops around here too. I just picked up a gorgeous embroidered floor pillow from them last week at a local shop called Looms. I like the Kokon aesthetic very much.
- TAJ Wood & Scherer is another shop with goods all over Germany, found mostly in fine home shops. The pillow on my sofa is from TAJ. I find their products very colorful, detailed, and unique — I don’t know of any U.S. based companies with similar wares, which is nice! I especially love their They happen to have an online shop and it’s in English in case you’d like to purchase some things for your home. They ship worldwide, too!
- UK designer Cath Kidston and her romantic girly prints and patterns.
- House Doctor – I’m truly in love with this company. Flip through their online catalog to see what I mean.
- Green Gate – More feminine florals and bright colors. Browse their online catalog for Fall/Winter 2008/09 here.
- Nordal – Lots of ethnic inspired design, another brand I love.
- Lisbeth Dahl
- …and if you’re shopping here for baby you’ll go crazy! Things here for children are SO DARN CUTE. You’ll want babies if you don’t already have them when you come to northern Europe. I love how kids dress here and absolutely adore all of the Anne-Claire Petit stuff I see in stores.
Of course, these brands above are not the only ones around! They are many more but my focus above is on what I’m finding in the smallish boutiques that I shop at.
(images from vtwonen, rice, and of course my own photos taken at home)
I know, I know enough Amy Butler already. But I really do fancy her work and now that she’s released eco paper products including gorgeous gift wraps I thought it couldn’t hurt to at least tell you about it… :)
I know… How pretty. Wrapping paper can be used for so many DIY projects it’s simply the best for adding pattern to almost anything on a budget. I like an idea I saw recently in Country Living Home magazine where art director Matthew Mead used wrapping paper to create a mat for a framed picture of a family member. It looked great and what an inexpensive and easy project. You can knock something like that out in under 15 minutes.
(images from amy butler design)