15 Mins With.... The Creators of #SlowLiving_

In the last 2 podcasts, I've been exploring the theme 'Capture' and gathering stories from creatives who record and share their creativity using a rich variety of media. In exploring this word, I've thought a lot about Instagram and the many makers I've discovered thanks to community hashtags. It made sense to invite Melanie and Danielle onto the blog today to share their Slow Living Project. You can find Melanie as @geoffreyandgrace and Danielle as @hippieindisguise

My own Slow Living inspiration

My own Slow Living inspiration

Please introduce yourselves and your online spaces

Hello, I am Melanie, the mother behind the lifestyle blog Geoffrey & Grace. I wanted to create an online space that would be a home for wholehearted and creative living, as they are two things that are fundamental to how I live my life. I am a writer and maker and have a big love for photography. Along with three other makers I co-created Margot, the beach hut makery.

D: And, hello, I’m Danielle. I am a mother of two, working full-time as a government advisor, pursuing my artistic interests on the side through photography, blogging and creative collaborations. My website is Hippie in Disguise, where I focus on art and adventure with my children, with a slow, eco and minimalist focus. I like to share stories, interviews with inspiring parents, minimalists, creatives, small brands and shops. The space is also home to my nature-based creative projects, like my Mother Nature leaf dress. In addition, I’m currently on the editorial team at Enfants Terribles Magazine, a European children’s fashion magazine focused on play, creativity and imagination. Basically, I don’t sleep.

Image via @hippieindisguise

Image via @hippieindisguise

How did you both meet?

We found each other on Instagram. When I had the beginnings of the idea for a slow living project, I knew I wanted to collaborate with someone, and Danielle was the first person I thought of. I thought the project would be just her sort of thing, and I had a feeling I would enjoy working with her. 

D: Like so many friendships, we met online, through Instagram, as Melanie said. Social networks have been an amazing source of inspiration for me, but also a new way to connect with people who share my interests. I love that social networks enable us to connect with people regardless of geographic location.

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

For those who have not discovered it, what is your Slow Living hashtag?

It’s a year long project with the aim of helping others (and us) think about how they can have a piece of ‘slow living’ every day. Each month we choose a different theme to focus on, for example the first month looked at exploring the world around you (#slowliving_explore), and this month we are celebrating the change of the seasons with the hashtag #slowliving_bloomandharvest. We want the hashtag to help people think about those precious moments of stillness that are there every day, but we are sometimes in too much of a rush to see. 

D: Melanie said it well, the Slow Living Project, as I like to call it, is about bringing people together and inspiring each other around the notion of slow living. For me, slow living is really about presence, about living in the moment, fully, wholeheartedly, without that time travel forward and back that our minds are want to do. There are monthly themes, for example, in September we focused on ‘create’. Over the course of the year we want to look at all the different ways we can bring a slow living approach to our lives, through the seasons and holidays, in the home and outdoors, with family and friends.

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Why did you choose to collaborate in this way? 

To me Instagram is all about those special little moments that are captured and shared. Plus, photography is one of the things that helps me slow down and find some stillness. It therefore seemed obvious to use Instagram as a way to create a community (through the hashtag) and disseminate some slow living. This seems kind of obvious to write, but when we slow things down, there is the opportunity to be more wholehearted and present with the moments we have. I think it’s those wholehearted, connected moments, that keep us all going.

D: Both Melanie and I are very visual people, we love to capture moments visually and to view others’ images for inspiration. We thought sharing slow living moments visually would work really well and would attract people, it also sets aside any language barrier that might come with capturing and sharing moments through the written word alone. Even though not everyone can read our blog posts, as the hashtag travels through the Instagram network others can pick up on it through context and by viewing the images under the hashtag gallery, and then join in.

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

What have you enjoyed the most about people's contributions to the hashtags?

It’s so lovely to have a glimpse into other people’s lives through the photos they share and the captions they choose to write. I am continuously inspired by the community that is growing as a result of the hashtag. I also love that the slow living hashtags are continuing to develop and be used even when we have moved on to another theme.  

D: Well, obviously, there is the visual and intellectual inspiration the images provide. But, what I’ve loved most is seeing the many ways people interpret the same word. Each theme has captured people’s imaginations in different ways, and this has translated into a beautiful range of captured moments. I underestimated the variety we would see, it has been a lovely surprise.

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Finally, how do you like to capture the month's theme and bring everything together before moving on to another month's focus?

We have a list of words that we are hoping to use throughout the year. Each month though, we think about what the following month means for us, and what it might mean to others. We then talk about a suitable word that will capture people’s imaginations and inspire them to want to get involved.

Danielle and I got to meet last month through FaceTime and it was great to be able to talk face to face. Otherwise, lots of emails are exchanged as we both have been struggling to select the photos that are our favourites for the month. There are so many beautiful images shared in the gallery, and we always have a very long shortlist. We do a monthly ‘blog round up’ about the project on our blogs, and between us we aim to convey the spirit of the community over on Instagram as well as the wonderful creativity that is present in the gallery.

D: We each take our own approach and individually choose our favourites from the contributions and then compare notes to see which we have in common. These common favourites are shared through Instagram in a grid of 4. Then we each post our individual favourites to our blogs -- which usually requires a lot of further trimming down, as we usually have 30 favourites each! So, it’s always a nice surprise to see what Melanie posts and how she strings the selections together. I like that we take our own approach to selecting and curating the images. For me, I tend to choose images that reflect a diversity of interpretations of the theme, I’m also a little biased toward images that had a particularly insightful caption or images that capture children through the theme. We like each month to have a fresh focus, so based on how the month develops and what we see in the gallery we choose a new theme from our brainstormed list of ideas that will allow people to expand their thinking around slow living and capture something new.

15 Mins with..... Fall for DIY

A new feature just for the blog!

For a long time, I've been pondering how to share more stories of people who inspire me. I host 2-3 interviews a month on the podcast but have always been a little sporadic about doing so on the blog. I think I felt more at ease with interviewing in 'real time'. 

Well, that's about to change and my first '15 Mins with' guest is the perfect person to help me launch this new feature. 15 minutes with Francesca had me itching to make, create and cheerlead others who do too. Francesca couldn't be more perfect for today's playful moment if she tried. She's just launched a kickstarter to encourage everyone to get creative and she gave me 15 minutes to find out what the We Make Collective is all about:

Fall For DIY's Francesca

Fall For DIY's Francesca

Please introduce yourself and what it is that you create.
Hello! I’m Francesca. I write the DIY/Crafts blog Fall For DIY which is place to explore my hands on side and my life long love of making. I have always believed in combining craft with design to create something that is desirable and useful, and this ethos is a recurring theme throughout my blog. I create anything and everything from jewellery, fashion and accessories to easy artwork, furniture and interior DIY’s. I’ll try my hand at pretty much anything and I’ll always find a way to write about it on Fall For DIY!

We Make Collective

You have founded the 'We Make Collective', what is the idea behind it?
I decided to start We Make Collective after meeting far too many people that don't believe in their own creativity. Creativity is something we practice and learn. Not something we're gifted with. This idea is one that many of my readers also feel strongly about, so in response to this need for easy access to skills, materials and inspiration I am launching the We Make Collective - a site to share what we do and what we love online and in real life. We Make Collective will bring together: the bloggers, the makers and the dreamers. Anyone with just the glint of creativity in their eye in a new way to boost each other’s creative journeys.

Fall For DIY Quote Banner

How are you collaborating with other women and supporting them in their making?
We Make Collective is all about collaborating and working together to increase creativity. We’ll be collaborating with independent businesses to stock the materials kits. Our first box of goodies comes from two indie businesses run by incredibly creative women. Working Clasp is a laser cutting service and Rebecca makes off the rack jewellery as well as bespoke pieces. We’ve worked together to design and create a travel loom for the first kit. We’re also working with Kim Smith from Alterknit Universe in Bristol. We’re hoping to include some really interesting recycled yarns to use on the loom. It’s all very exciting! As well as working with other women to create the kits we’re enlisting the help of some of my favourite bloggers to inject masses of creativity into the site. Each kit will include exclusive access to tutorials created by these amazing women to encourage ideas and experimentation. 
The site is also going to include a section to share links to how you have used the kit. Whether you write a blog post about it or just take a photo on Instagram you can share with our community and help inspire others. I really want to create a hub of ideas that we can all work from and interpret in our own ways which will hopefully help more people find their creative voice. 

Raw Stone and Silver necklace (a  Fall for DIY tutorial )

Raw Stone and Silver necklace (a Fall for DIY tutorial)

What have you learned through establishing this collective?
We’re just getting started and I’m sure I will have so much yet to learn, but so far to biggest thing I’ve learnt is that so many people are scared of getting started. I can really connect with this feeling. Even during this project there are times I have put off jobs because I’m scared of the results. But the more I put myself and We Make Collective ‘out there’ the more positive feedback I receive. I hear more ideas that can make the Collective stronger and I find better ways to help others make those initial steps. 

What can we expect to see from the collective? How can people join in?
We’ve just launched our Kickstarter campaign to welcome on board the early adopters! Everyone who signs up here is guaranteed to receive one of our limited edition, first ever material kits. They will also be sent their kits a week earlier than everyone else with full access to the We Make Collective project site before anyone else. Once the Kickstarter has finished we will be selling a very small amount of kits to anyone who missed their chance. We will need a cut off point so that our partners have time to put together all the beautiful materials in time for sending out!
We completely understand that some of you might want to source your own materials - which is totally fine of course! Once the site goes live for everyone will have access to a few of tutorials for free and if you want even more there is the option of paying a small subscription to get full access to the whole site!

Fall for DIY

You have such a strong voice from your online home, Fall For DIY, how has your making and sharing your projects with the world helped you develop that? 
I’ve been blogging now for almost five years in total. For a long time I was terrified each time I pressed publish on a blog post. I always loved sharing the projects but I was scared people would think I wasn’t good enough. Over time I started writing more and my readers started commenting more on the posts. This really helped me realise that even though it was scary to do, opening up and showing my personality was the best way to reach out to and connect with my readers. Even though I still find it difficult I try to write each post from a personal place.

What does the term maker mean to you?
To me, the term maker means anyone with an idea. You don’t need to be well practiced to be a maker you just need to start making! Everything else you learn along the way.  

Wips and Blooms- July 2015

It's been a month since I committed to this creative challenge on Instagram and I have really enjoyed the results. Nothing fills me with joy more than being tagged to a picture of someone's happy moment. This month was a riot of seasonal colours and a few cooling moments ducked inside away from the summer heat in the northern hemisphere. I loved it. 

wips and blooms July 2015

wips and blooms July 2015

Here's a round up of just a few of my favourites- it was really hard to limit myself to just five! I particularly liked the strawberries in korutumi's and the crisp white linens in the background from Daniela. I feel so summery just looking at these pretty pictures. 

wipsandblooms July 2015

Top left: @devonsunyarns

Top Right: @korutumi

Middle: @docksjo

Bottom Left: @danielaknits

Bottom Right: @melliferamel

Thank you to everyone who joined in. I coast by the hashtag regularly as a little breath of fresh air on busy days. It makes my heart glad to see so much appreciation of the seasonal colours around people as they work. It feels like a special sort of mindfulness to craft and take note of the change around us. 


Want to join in? It's simple. Snap a pic of your favourite blooms with your current work in progress and share with the hashtag #wipsandblooms. If you can tag me (@aplayfulday) that would be even better because I'm sure to know you're playing along when I get a notification. Also, it means other people discover that this is happening and want to join in- more pretties for us to feast our eyes on and be inspired by!

I'm not fussy, it can be any of your making and any bloom. Show me what's making your days playful and I'll be back next month with another round up of my favourites!

Happy creating!