This episode, I'm in conversation with Ysolda Teague, knitwear designer, business owner and co-parent to my little girl. Ysolda was first on the show 3 years ago and so we are settling in for a conversation about putting you personality into your brand, speaking your truth and visibility.Read More
So it turns out I'm headed to Ireland in May to teach A WHOLE WEEKEND OF WORKSHOPS.
*breathes into a paper bag*
First up, let me share those details before I clean pass out and then I'm going to reassure you all why it's going to be ok. There will be 3 workshops for anyone looking to improve their writing, photography and social media skills. The dates are 13th-14th May and tickets are selling, now. This is a weekend focusing on making the best of what you put out there in the world whether you're a blogger who really wants to take better photos or a business owner determined that you're going to nail online marketing. I'll be hosted by the good folks at This Is Knit, based in Dublin. I hear there will also be some sort of partying and such. This pleases me enormously.
So now you know the details, let's get back to that paper bag moment. Putting yourself out there, whether it's online or in real life, can be pretty scary. You tell yourself all kinds of lies that one day, it will be easier. You tell yourself a magic number of Instagram followers that will mean you've made it. You tell yourself that when that blogger snaps herself clutching your product, you'll find marketing a complete breeze. Landing a feature article in that magazine you love so much? Oh it will all be so, so much easier to be out there because by then, you will be A Thing.
I hate to break it to you but that's not a thing really. Some of the most insecure people I've worked with are some of the most prolific, talented, well known and respected people. We are all still working at it and trying to make it through the day without digitally falling flat on our face. Heck, I'd settle for just not spilling coffee down my front most days.
So you know what? I'm saying I'm going to be in a room full of people who feel just like me and my paper bag and that's going to be great for all of us. I'm going to be listening to what really makes people tick and what makes them feel they can't ramp up. In return for that, I'm going to be sharing all my experiences as a blogger but also as a brand manager and freelance journalist. It is hard. We can make it easier to feel less vulnerable when we share online and I'd even say, feel good when we do.
Just know I'm right there, still working at it too.
(Then come book those tickets because that helps immensely in getting this feel good out there. Here's those workshops again: Discover Your Writing Style; Telling Your Story Online & Getting to Grips with Visual Storytelling).
This episode I'm thinking about our online community of makers, small business owners and independents. I'm talking about the benefits of shopping local and with your favourite small businesses this Christmas.
I began the year with my own commitment to reflecting on my craft practices through ‘The Maker’s Year’. It was a guiding theme for the podcast, my blog, Instagram and all my making this year. The idea was to reduce any environmental impact I could by sourcing locally and seasonally, as well as increasing my own skills to enable me to do that. I’ve loved seeing every entry in #themakersyear hashtag and so many of you who used it to evaluate your making at home too.
Anyone who has listened to this podcast before will know I love to celebrate maker businesses, people who are innovative in their field of expertise and enriching communities and the economy through their skills. So today I’m combining these two passions and sharing my goal this year for Christmas: Shop Small.
One fact I love is that research has shown that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business. It’s been investigated by local authorities and the figures seem to support this. That means more for our local communities! It's not just about the local economy though! Small businesses are innovators. I love to shop local for the level of expertise and skills I find in that business and their commitment to both the product and the customer.
Plus it’s more environmentally friendly- things like a lack of air freight and reduced packaging are a definite bonus. A lot of the maker businesses I order from are really committed to reducing their global foot print and have more control over sourcing their packaging while still keeping an eye on their margins. I also read that local producers are much more likely to source local themselves which was interesting to me.
This year, it felt important to actively choose businesses that represent diversity and individual flair. I want that voice to be celebrated and have been more than a little alarmed by some of the aggressive advertising I’ve seen from bigger brands in national media whose views I don’t agree with. There’s been a strong reaction to the Stop Funding Hate campaign and a number of large businesses won’t be getting my hard earned pennies this year because they’ve stated they’ll continue to advertise in this manner. In fact I’ve opted for presents from some makers purely based on the fact they’re supporting charities with profits from purchases.
Some of my favourite UK based independent businesses:
- Newton and Pott- aka The Modern Preserver.
- Lolahoaddesign- Prints and Christmas Cards
- Katie Robins Ceramics- Beautiful nature inspired vessels keep my plant babies happy
- AR Ceramics- Textured ceramics such as homewares
- Pip Wilcox Ceramics- Ceramic vases and vessels
- The People Shop- Hand made garments that are slightly oversized and handmade
- The People Tree- Slow fashion and sustainable production.
- Oh My Clumsy Heart- Clean, minimal jewellery
- Tatty Devine- Probably best known for their Perspex fun and colourful pieces such as a gin range that I’m coveting but they work with a lot of different materials such as wood and fabrics.
- Afro Deco- Prints that are heavily influenced by Art Deco and the bold colours of African textiles.
- Mooshpie- Illustrations both in print form and her embroidery have a slight celebration of childhood feel but grown up. This is so cute and quirky!
- Andsmile Studio-Colourful watercolour designs.
Music is 'Christmas Time' by Hill and Hale via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
"When you get so many enthusiastic minds in one place, it's amazing what they can come up with." - Jessica Forbes, Co Founder of Ravelry.
"We realised we were going to have to abandon [Ravelry] or make it A LOT bigger" - Casey Forbes, Co Founder of Ravelry.
It feels good today to be sharing a conversation I sought because when I think of the word family, it goes beyond blood and that intimate home space. For me, I see layers of support and one of those layers has undoubtedly been my favourite online space, Ravelry. Ravelry was created with a community’s needs in mind first and foremost and a result has presented a level a playing field for everyone who uses it.
Jessica and Casey created Ravelry with such genuine hearts and today they share the story of what it means to run a website that grew rapidly to over 6 million highly engaged members. This is a large family and a family has needs to be fulfilled. Hearing how Jessica and Casey have navigated this is fascinating.
I was also charmed to hear the humble start of their business ideas. Their entire business strategy was to work with many small businesses to support Ravelry rather than larger businesses that might start to shape and change the community for their own marketing purposes. It’s limited them in what they can achieve but has protected a community that looks after each other and themselves.
Music is Cobblestone by Ethansroom via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
"We want to have a little more heart and soul in what we consume and what we make"- Kirsty Hartley
This interview felt like a great follow on conversation from last week’s chat with Anthony Peters. The tricky balance of fitting in personal creativity, finding your identity within your career and feeling fulfilled in your ambitions featured last week and does again this week. When I chose the topic of family, I suspect I sensed this tricky balance for myself both before and after having a child so I wasn’t surprised that it developed as a theme. What I love is that it’s led to reflections on how we learn and work best in our communities.
Kirsty Hartley is an extremely talented designer whose maker business stole my daughter and I’s hearts a few years ago. Kirsty has an amazing intuition for what makes children and parents tick. Simple shapes, study clothes that can be played in and colour makes me glad to dress her in Wild Things dresses and my daughter’s imaginative play goes through the roof when she’s dressed as a little bear, penguin or flower.
A joyful little video to demonstrate our love for Wild Things Dresses:
Music is Crash by Trella via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
"Documenting and sharing in this way has enabled me to have an amazing job that I have designed for myself" - Emily Quinton
In this episode I’m sharing a second featured conversation with someone who has had a huge impact on the way I document my every day life since meeting her a year ago. I’ve invited Emily Quinton of Makelight to join us at A Playful Day to help get us thinking about how we document our creativity.
Before we start a quick reminder that the A Playful Day podcast is powered by listeners. If you like what you hear and would love to be a part of this podcasts growth, please consider pledging support via Patreon where you’ll find me as a creator, A Playful Day. Patreon subscribers got a special preview of next week's episode with this week's mail out, I would love for you to join us!
You can find Emily in the following places online:
Makebelieve (Emily's family blog)
I do hope you enjoyed Emily’s passion for photography and perhaps this week you will join us in documenting your making using #themakersyear hashtag or Emily’s #makeseasonallight this month.
If you’ve been enjoying the new feel to APD, please consider leaving your review on itunes- it really does help move the podcast up the charts so others can find us and join the conversation.
Outro music featured is Find my Way by Brooke Annibale via Noisetrade
Show produced and edited by Chris Muldoon.
It's Sunday and once again I'm sat, music on (today Nina is telling me birds are flying high for those interested) and I'm gathering my thoughts. I've realised I always want to blog on Sundays lately. It's possibly because I take most of my photos at the weekend and have time to think outside of the frantic busy pace of the working week. I can't help but feel there's something else at play here though. There's something to be said about giving yourself time to think about what you want to share with the world.
That's what got me thinking about Slow Blogging. Slow Blogging is a movement to reclaim these online spaces and share thoughtful posts that we feel more invested in. When you blog or work in an industry that exists predominantly online, it can feel like you must keep up with the fast pace with which your creations are consumed. Bigger follower numbers, regular blog posts, new images and quick fire Twitter chats seem vital to your continued success. The level of burn out I see from people who lose themselves to beating the stats is so heartbreaking.
Yet, I've noticed something lately that gives me cheer. The content getting the deepest interaction and engagement, is the content telling the most heartfelt stories. I'm not necessarily talking about huge emotional moments, more a sense of investment from the person publishing the blog post or image. I sense that the online world has started to hit 'Peak Click' and now we are looking to root our experiences in real life too. Events and gatherings springing up from online hangouts are happening with more frequency. Also I'm fairly sure that the posts that go viral lately are those which speak to us as people not consumers.
Is it just me?
It's meant that I'm really looking forward to the next workshop I'm teaching in a week at A Yarn Story in Bath. We'll be exploring how to tell your story online if you're a creative business owner or blogger. There's a few spaces left and I would love to sit and hear what makes you tick as a creative person and then help you to get that story online.
It's not about stats and it's time we stopped being consumed by them. I understand it's frustrating to feel there's a vast echo of nothing when you post and believe me, I've caught myself feeling like I need to churn out content for the sake of keeping my voice heard. What I'm advocating is a gentle storytelling combined with some serious reflection about what you truly want to achieve. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. My own experience has been that Slow Blogging builds an audience much more effectively. I love to see regular commenters and chat on Twitter with people reacting to what I've chosen to share. It feels more like a flow of conversation between long distance friends.
If you would like to join us to think about how you're presenting your story online, you can join us at 10 am on Saturday 6th February 2016. All details can be found on A Yarn Story's website here, including tickets.
If you want to read more about what others have to say about the Slow Blogging movement, you can find some thought provoking posts pinned on my Pinterest board, Love your Blog. If it has struck a chord, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This episode is brought to you with the kind support of this month's sponsors (please click on the banner for more information:
This week I am chatting to Kari- Helene Rane, the principle designer at the field to fashion business Purl Alpaca Designs. Kari-Helene shares her story of studying design and her experience of applying her high fashion background to hand knit garments and accessories.
Designs Kari-Helene mentions include:
Music provided by Noise Trade
Fly, fly, fly by Adrina Thorpe
More than December by Jetty Rae