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Amsterdam Meet and Greet: September 5th!

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

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

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

Thank you friends! :)

(photo by jaar haar)

Posted in etsy, textiles, uncategorized, what to do on August 26, 2008
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What To Do… Meet Heather Moore {Skinny LaMinx}

I can’t believe we’ve finally reached the end of our discussion, What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do. I hoped that it helped our dear friend Nathalie over at Design Undercover, the inspiration behind this series, along with Marisa at Creative Thursday and our friend Erin at Design For Mankind and of course, readers out there that may have wondered how creative types find their calling in the design world. It’s a tricky topic and there’s no easy answer. It’s been a lot of fun for me to read all of the submissions from creative types who so willingly offered to help build this series. So a big thanks to everyone for participating!


To conclude the What To Do… series, I’ve asked Heather Moore, a surface pattern designer and writer from South Africa who also goes by the name Skinny LaMinx to offer her insights. This lady has a huge fan base from all over the world, people really seem to respond to her handmade designs that she sells on etsy and many flock to her blog daily to see what she has to talk about next. She also blogs for Elle Decoration South Africa. So with that, let’s chat quickly with Ms. Moore, shall we?

How do you think a person can find their spot in the world of design — your true calling?

I think the first thing to do is to find out what you like and why you like it. This is quite fun because it’s like window shopping, but with a degree of self-awareness. So take note of your own reactions, seeing what it is that attracts you, and start to understand this. By doing this, you’ll get a sense of where you belong in the world of design, and the kinds of other people who will like your things. When I was very attracted to comics, I used to often copy the work of artists that I liked. It was just for my own amusement, but often helped me understand what it was about their lines and shapes that I liked so much, and it improved my own practice enormously. Copying is not encouraged in a professional capacity (obviously), but it can help you grow.

Any other tips?

The next thing is to trust yourself and the things you make, and to stop second-guessing your own decisions. I used to do this, but the point at which I gained the confidence to make my own way was when my husband told me that my first ideas were usually my best. This passing comment made me realise I could trust my decisions and my own sensibility, and through this, my confidence in my own designs grew. Confidence builds on confidence, and the more positive reaction I get to the things I make help me feel like I can take more risks with my designs. It’s a very exciting feeling! Oh, and the other thing is to take risks. I was too scared to spend money on making things happen at first, but when I broke that barrier, it was fantastic, and immediately led to more exciting things.


Do you feel that you found your calling and if so, how did you get there?

I spent so many years doing illustrations for schoolbooks, feeling desperately unhappy about the work I was doing, largely because the final product was almost always cut-rate and shoddy (in my humble view!). Now that I’m able to spend my time making things that I know to be high quality and pleasingly made, I feel a lot more fulfilled, and happy with what I do all day. It’s so hard to answer this question about design being a “true calling”. My Protestant upbringing and living in Africa makes it hard for me to think of this fairly frivolous occupation having such a lofty title! Nonetheless, it is true that my own design work gives me loads of satisfaction and seems to make other people happy, so maybe it is my true calling (although I do still dream of starting a community veggie garden!)

Add any other thoughts that you think may help others?

Finding your spot in the world of design will involve helping others do the same. I have found the experience of others to be so useful to learn from, and am always happy to share my small experience with others. Blogs are one of the most generous media I’ve ever experienced, both in terms of friendliness, helpfulness, and also in the way people share their process and discoveries.

Thank you, Heather!

If anyone would like to ask Heather any questions, please do so by commenting below.

{If you’d like to read words of wisdom from our creative panel, you can click here — I can assure you that the time will be well spent because if you’re searching for your creative calling I think you’ll have a better idea as to how to find it after reading the What To Do… series. I’ll follow up later on with a quick summary highlighting some tips collected from everyone’s entries in case you’d like to hang onto it for your own self-discovery.}

(image top: altered by me, original photo by Ez at Creature Comforts, bottom image from skinny laminx)

Posted in interviews, what to do on April 28, 2008

What To Do… Paola Thomas

I’m still feeling a bit groggy from all the meds I’m on, but I can’t stop thinking about you and your many emails and comments that continue to wish me a speedy recovery. Thank you so much for your caring words but it’s just a virus, nothing major really! :) I thought that since I’m not up to blogging at my regular Holly speed, I will post a few things today and tomorrow to keep you inspired until I’m back on Monday. Since I have a few more posts from the What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do series, I think I’ll start with these…


Today we’ll hear from creative lady Paola Thomas who is a Seattle-based mother, wife, blogger, and online shop owner of MirrorMirror. She, alongside Velocity Art & Design, just recently launched a creative meet up in Seattle called The Lab, too. Busy lady! Let’s talk to Paola, shall we?

How do you think a person can find their spot in the world of design?

Take a long hard look at yourself and what you can do and what you enjoy doing. What do you really LOVE to do? I guarantee the business you end up doing will not be the one you envisaged, so don?t wait for something fully formed to drop into your lap, start experimenting with something TODAY and then watch it unfurl and grow. Do a new thing to your baby business every day, and grab every opportunity with both hands. You can always stop and change direction if you?ve made a mistake.

Let’s say a person found what they love to do, is there more to it than creating pretty things?

Oh yes! Be truly honest with yourself and also focus on what you CAN’T or don’t want to do. emember if you want a real money-making business that there’s an awful lot of selling and marketing and networking and finance that needs to be done. You can hire people to do some of those things if you’ve got the money, but you have to at least be able to manage those people. I happen to love that side of things, but if you don’t, then I really would think long and hard about whether you want to turn your creative passion into your business. I’ve seen people end up hating their passions. Instead have a job that pays the bills and develop outlets for your creativity in your spare time.

One thing I’ve heard a million times over is to see if there’s a market for your work. Just how important is this?

One should think seriously about whether there?s a market for what you do. Just doing what you love is not enough. Keep testing and experimenting to see what will get you an audience. If you make stuff, get an Etsy shop; if you take photos, get on Flickr; if you want to write, start a blog. If can get an audience in these challenging environments, then maybe you have the beginnings of a business.

Great advice. Speaking of blogging, I met you in 2005 long before you had a blog. Can you tell us how that came about?

I find my blog tremendously useful for exploring ideas. It started as a marketing tool for my shop, but has now become a way for me to experiment with ideas, practice my writing and photography, and act as a platform for the things I like doing such as cooking, knitting, decorating etc. I doubt very much I?m going to make money out of these things, but having that outlet for my personal creativity is enough. For example when I started my blog I didn?t possess a digital camera. Now photography is a huge part of the blog and of my life.

Do you feel that you’ve found your ‘calling’ as a web shop owner and blogger?

I’m definitely going in the right direction but I’m nowhere near where I want to end up. My background is in finance and business development ? I worked for many years as an investment banker and then management consultant, before losing my job at a small Internet company in the dotcom crash. I realised then that I liked cushions and colour more than spreadsheets and legal docs and started combining some freelance journalism with doing a home study course in interior design. I soon realised that I don?t think spatially enough to be a great designer (and I want to be great at what I do) and also really missed the commercial side ? I love marketing and I love the Internet. Which is why I decided to set up a business that’s actually primarily all about selling and marketing and the Internet, but focused on a market I really understand (women like me) and brings me into daily contact with beautiful things and creative people. And along the way I’ve had to write a business plan, get a bank loan, manage the building of a complex e-commerce website, run a customer database and PR list and pay sales tax etc. It?s not all about cushions.

You mentioned you lost your job and launched your web shop, but how can one afford to do that?

The upside for me is that my husband’s salary has been enough to support us in this ?experimental? phase ? every penny the business makes gets put straight back in – though we have far less money than we used to. The downside has been that I’ve been combining it with being at home with a baby/toddler, so am only doing this stuff very part time so far. But I love what I do, I have created myself a ?job? where reading design magazines counts as work, so therefore I’m happy.

Thank you Paola! If anyone has questions to ask Paola about running a web shop, etc. please use this as your opportunity and ask some questions in the comments section below…

Posted in what to do on April 24, 2008

What To Do… Fernanda Bourlot

My friend is a Boston-based interior designer, product designer, and boutique co-owner who is originally from beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her name is Fernanda Bourlot and her company is called Simplemente Blanco and I just adore her aesthetic and everything about her handmade wares, made right here in New England (read my interview with her here if you’d like).


I recently asked her if she could share some advice for decor8 readers on the topic, What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do and she gladly accepted. I’d like to share her insights with you today.


How did you find your calling in the world of art and design?

I just can speak by my own experience which is just mine, and I think it would be good not be taken as an exact science theorem for all the others goodness and safety! But what I think about all of this is that for me knowing what I wanted to do or to be was kind of clear because I always felt in my heart that art or design was my field. It was difficult in my society at those times to be able to follow that road because those kind of things were considered banal or hobbies. That is why I made the big mistake of trying to impress my parents saying that I was going to be a doctor. Obviously that was not my calling because the very first day at school at my first anatomy class I felt that I was going to die, so I went back home and said to my mother I am not going back there never ever more! Of course it was a big family drama. I was 18 years old at that point and that day I firmly decided: I am going to be what I want to be. Period.

The lesson behind this is never never do something that you do not want to do just follow you heart what you feel is right for you no matter what, no matter what others, including sometimes your parents, think or say.

How do you think others can find their calling?

The only way to find it is being very honest with yourself. I found it because I just knew that this is what I wanted to do and put my heart, my soul, and all my energy to make it happen knowing that there is always going to be a bumpy road but I made myself the promise that I am always going to fight it and keep going. I tried different things but always in the same field just to realize which were my strengths and my weak points and then tried to improve them. I think for others it’s helpful to write a short list of things you think you would like to do and get information on them, either reading or talking to people in these fields so you will start to get a sense about each and then you will naturally start seeing what you like more and what you are less interested in as you explore it. You can start repeating the process filtering IN the things you like and filtering OUT the ones you don’t until getting to that one that is the one you want to start trying in real life.

Thank you Fernanda for sharing your views with decor8 readers today!

Posted in what to do on April 18, 2008

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