Heartmade Blog

heart to heart

Heart to Heart: Bernardo from Your Great Life TV


I browse the web. A lot. I call it “research”, but we all know it’s not really LOL. Luckily for me, while “researching” the blogosphere I found via the lovely Amanda at Kind Over Matter a guy with a funky Spanish accent. I felt at home right away.


His name is Bernardo. His smile + uplifting spirit is pleasantly contagious. He makes you feel like you’re visiting a life long friend. He really has that impact on you. His blog, Your Great Life TV is filled with inspiring + core shaking videos. So real, like I hadn’t seen in a long while. I’m sure you’ll feel it too.


So, since we’re all about empowering creative hearts here, I decided to bring Bernardo on board for a mini interview, but on steroids.


Here are just a few highlights from our heart to heart:

  • How to keeping yourself honest.
  • How to build a legacy.
  • How to really be happy.
  • How to deal with pain + suffering.
  • How to leverage the power of video blogs.


Experience a tsunamic burst of joy + passion + excitement + purpose + love + direction by visiting Your Great Life TV.


You’re gonna wanna follow Bernardo on twitter too @yourgreatlifetv, he’s like a happy pill, but better.



Mayi Carles

Interview with Renae Bradley from Benzie


I’m beyond thrilled to bring home the lovely Renae Bradley from Benzie Bazaar + Benzie Handmade. I believe Renae was one of my first online contacts I made. WAO that makes me super nostalgic + appreciative of the digital times we live in. Goosebumps are in order. I meet her, or let me rephrase that, I hunted her down after nights of insomnia looking for the perfect felt supplier for my oh so tiny, but empire in the making eco-friendly boutique.


What I didn’t know at the time is that I hadn’t only found the world’s best felt supplier (yes, that lovely felt that you adore so much from my boutique all comes straight from Renae) + but a good friend. It’s true, Renae is a total sweetheart + delight to work/chat with. Every time.


So evidently I had to hop her over here to give her a proper introduction + do a mini rock + roll Q+A sesh’.


Let’s get the party started, yo’ (and by yo’, I really mean “you lovelies”)!



1. Who is Renae?

I’m practical, a perfectionist and quite the homebody. Luckily I left the house often enough to find a wonderful husband who makes breakfast for me every morning and even empties the dishwasher! And there’s more! I also got two great kids out of the deal and often have them assist me in my endless creative ventures -currently using them to sort and stack Felt-fetti circles.



2. Who is Benzie?

Benzie is the name given to my creative endeavors. Most popular being a supplier of beautiful merino wool blend felt, currently with more than 70 fabulous colors! I’m in love -it’s truly the most versatile and vibrant fabrics available. Of course I couldn’t stop there -the handmade side of Benzie offers garlands in every color of the rainbow and Felt-fetti to match!



3. Favorite part about running a creative business?

First, I love having a platform that enables me to share the great products that I fall in love with. It’s been so rewarding to see what Benzie customers create with such a versatile fabric -I’m amazing by their creativity! And second -it’s a job that isn’t work at all! My mind is always exploding with ideas for new supplies or new projects and it’s exciting seeing those projects come to fruition -from an idea in my mind, then to prototypes, to photography, and to the packaged item getting ready to be sent off. I love all the details that make handmade so attractive.



4. What are the not so fun parts?

Not having enough time to develop the creative vat of ideas swelling my brain! Really it’s about finding the balance between my business and family life and developing priorities based on that. I haven’t come up with any great solutions yet but finding that balance seems to get easier with time.



5. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs?

Just do it. Many times the one thing that you don’t want to do is the one thing that is keeping your business from growing. Stop daydreaming, stop researching, stop comparing and just do!



6. Any other interests or hobbies?

I would have to say that I’ve tried almost every craft related tool, fabric, dye and medium -with the most recent ending up in a book “1000 Ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies and Cakes” in which I contributed several sugar confections. I second Mayi’s love for the cupcake!



7. Any important links we should know about?

Felt shop: www.benziebazaar.etsy.com

Benzie Handmade: www.benzie.etsy.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/benziedesign

Twitter: twitter.com/benziedesign


First, I’m gonna go buy myself this 1000 Ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies and Cakesbook, like right this second. Sounds like it would be a perfect addiction, pardon me addition to my pastry collection.


Second, I want to thank you (Renae) so so much for being so kind + opening up to this family called heartmade. It really means so much to me.


Third, I would love for you (lovely readers) to show Renae some lovin’ in the comments below + by sharing this with your peeps. I know Renae would so much appreciate it + I would too. Yayyy for spreading handmade goodness!



Mayi Carles

Heart to Heart: Hillery Sproatt


You know what makes me really really happy? When I get a submission in my inbox that totally knocks my socks off. That’s how I felt when Hillery Sproatt from Specks & Keepings first contacted me. In a sea of e-mails, her note stood out from miles + miles away. Felt so good.


So of course I had to open up space for her to hop on over here + give us a heartfelt scoop inside her world of creativity + magic. Are you ready?



1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Los Angeles, California in a pink and purple house with my mom and two younger sisters. Our home was filled with treasures, at least I thought they were treasures. To someone visiting, it may have looked a bit more like stuff. My mom was always thinking up wonderful projects for all of us to do together. I remember having so much fun making little felt dolls and marbled paper when I was a small girl. I have always felt so thankful for my mother. She is such a beautiful person and she imparted to me her love of objects, things made by hand, and intuitive making.

As I got older, my mom and I enjoyed day dreaming about all the things we hoped to do together, and we were both very impulsive. So one day we got a business license and started Rebe, a women’s handbag and apparel company. Our first few collections looked very different from the collections today, but we had such a wonderful time designing, playing with materials and sourcing fabrics. We always attempted to design with ourselves in mind, so we made beautiful things we wish existed but could never find. Although I am no longer a designer for Rebe, I am very proud of Rebe. I think Rebe provides women of all ages an opportunity to feel beautiful and comfortable in clothing that is as special as they are. I probably wear something Rebe almost everyday.


These days, I spend most of my time working on my embroidered dolls and mobiles in my studio. I am very pleased to announce that I just launched my new shop, Specks & Keepings. Specks & Keepings is a small shop filled with handmade and collected objects and design. It is a showcase of thoughtfully made goods that aim to inspire a simple lifestyle that is carefully shaped and chosen. The shop currently features my work along with handmade clothing, artwork, and items for the home by Anschtecka, Adam Wolpa, Eric Stiner, Karen Thurman, Kotoa & Rebe. To see what pieces are currently available for sale, visit specksandkeepings.com.



2. Where do you create?

I have a studio in the top floor of our little row home in Baltimore, Maryland. It is nothing fancy but I have everything I need. Most of the furniture in the room was made special by my boyfriend, so as to fit in the small space.


3. What makes you heart beat?

I am a collector of small things found and made. I like to believe little worlds exist in even the smallest of things and I love the way objects begin to shape our experience of a space or person. I try to surround myself with objects that I feel are special as I believe things are always more beautiful when they mean something to us. I love overhearing bits of strangers’ conversations, the good ones sound like beautiful ramblings or found poems. I am always overcome with delight upon finding a lost grocery list on the street and I enjoy chatting with strangers when walking my dog.



4. Tell me one thing that you think you’re best at.

This is a hard question for me. I think it can be very difficult to see yourself. I would probably have a much easier time compiling a list of things that I am no good at. I think I have an interesting sense of imagination. Perhaps because I have a terrible memory for facts, I am always having to re-imagine and invent. Too often I do think my imagination overshadows reality, which at times can make for quite an enchanting and magical existence.


5. What’s your kryptonite?

Hmmm…I am not sure. This is very difficult for me as well. I often think real life is supposed to be more like movies and I get disappointed.



6. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs?

I am quite new to this so I have still lots more to learn myself. I do think it is very important to believe in what your are making and selling. If you love what you do, that is always contagious.


7. Tell us something we wouldn’t expect.

I am scared of almost everything…even silly things and I cry much too hard at very bad movies.



8. Any important links we should know about?

You can visit my new shop, Specks & Keepings at specksandkeepings.com, where you can sign up for the free newsletter to learn about new arrivals, sales and exciting events. I post about my daily makings and inspiring finds on my blog at hilleryrs.blogspot.com and you can visit my personal website at hilleryrs.com.


Such a treat to have Hillery on the site. Please do leave all your loving’ below. I’m sure it will mean a whole lot to Hillery.



Mayi Carles


Image Credit

Copyright + Courtesy of Matthew Yake

Interview: Valeria from The Red Balloon Photography


Meet the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Valeria! I call her the queen of portrait photography, because her images take me to a majestical dimension. I feel like I’m transported to a far far away land of storytelling + timeless magic + whispers + vintage ephemera. I mean, could it possible get any better than this?


You have actually seen Valeria’s work parade the site, but today I’m beyond thrilled to be able to formally introduce her to you! So are you ready for today’s Q + A? Let go!


1. Who is Valeria?

I’m a Mom to two amazing little girls and a wife to the love of my life. I’m a photographer, I’m a girl that can not live without friends. I’m a very passionate person. I’m originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina and have been living in the US for about 10 years now. 3 in Colorado and 6 in Seattle. I’m a vintage goods lover. I always try to imagine the story behind each piece. Chocolate, balloons & polka dots make me happy. I love the color aqua, and the smell of gardenias. I could keep adding stuff about me but don’t want to bore people.



2. Where do you create?

I do my post processing at home in a corner where my Imac seats. I don’t have an office or studio yet, but hopefully soon. I create all the time, just in my head. I could be driving and suddenly an idea comes and I start imagining the whole process, from the location that I want to hold the session to the model, styling, and post processing that I would want to give to the image.



3. What makes your heart beat?

My husband, my daughters at all times but one of my favorite moments is right when they wake up and they have their sleepy eyes and their hair is all crazy and they are just happy that the day is just starting and I am happy to wake up to them. Many other things such as the early morning of late afternoon light (magic light), I love back-lit images, they are so magical when done right. The color aqua, really it does. One thing that really makes my heart beat happily is being able to translate an idea exactly how it was imagined to a final print. Hearing that someone loves what I do or that they get touched by my art makes my heart beat and sing.



4. Tell me one thing that you think you’re best at.

Hmmm… don’t know if I’m the absolute best but my flan has a very good reputation between my friends. People talk about it…, lol.


5. What’s the most rewarding part of running a creative business?

Working in something that is my absolute passion, doing that every day, loving what I do. Working with my heart.



6. What are the not-fun parts + how do you handle them?

The business side, the papers, all that boring stuff. How do I handle it?… my husband helps me a lot, he’s my rock!


7. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs?

To do their thing without trying to follow what others are doing. It’s always better to innovate and be your own than to copy.



8. What inspires you?

The magic light, my daughters, vintage art, vintage posters, book covers. A coat, photos form when I was a little girl, the clothes that my mom had saved from when I was younger. Balloons, certain combination of colors, the styles from the 20’s through 50’s, and I could go on forever…



9. Tell us something about you we would never expect.

For a few years I thought I was done with photography and quit taking pictures all together. I kind of lost the passion for a while but it also was during a time of many huge changes in my life. Now I’m more passionate about that I have ever been before.


10. Any important links we should know about?




Website (currently under construction, but will be ready soon).



This was beyond fantastic + inspiring. Can you know see why I call Valeria the queen lol?


Well sweetie pies, when you come down from your fairy tale cloud, please let’s show Valeria some lovin’ in the comments below!



Mayi Carles


PS: Psstt… this ain’t over yet. Valeria + I are teaming up to make some awesomeness together, so the real fun is yet to come. Stay tuned for more info.

Interview: Anna Denise from The Yellow Umbrella


Since I took a mini freebie day yesterday, today we’re spicing things up an extra notch! To start, I want you to put your hand together for the fabulous Anna Denise – rockstart art journalist + superstar blogger behind The Yellow Umbrella. You’ll soon see why I’m so enamored with everything she does!


1. Who is Anna Denise?

Anna Denise is a Dutch girl of 26 living in Brussels with her boyfriend Ashwin and her cat Meneertje. She, ehm I (I feel weird talking about myself in the third person, haha) studied art history and art management and policy in The Netherlands and at UC Berkeley and currently work full time as a program officer in a cultural institute in Brussels. I work a lot, but most of my free time is spent drawing in my journal, painting, working on commissioned designs and illustrations, blogging, and teaching art journal classes. I also love to travel and visit my friends and family, so needless to say I don’t sleep much, but I don’t mind.



2. Where do you create + blog?

When we moved to Brussels almost two years ago, we rented a place with a guest bedroom for our friends and family from Holland to come over whenever they wanted. We also decided to build me a small studio there, so I now have a lovely desk and shelves set up there. I do most of my drawing and blogging there. I blog about my art journalling, work and life here at www.annadenise.com and I keep a daily blog about artists, crafters, illustrators, bloggers, etc. at www.theyellowumbrellablog.com



3. Tell us a little bit about what The Yellow Umbrella is all about.

The Yellow Umbrella is a daily blog about art, art history, craft, illustration, design, fashion, etc. It started out of a personal need. I had bookmarked so many blogs, pinned so many illustrations, favorited so many items on Etsy, I felt I needed a place for all of them to go. On TYU I try to open up a narrative about the role art plays in my life and the things that inspire me. Art and creativity is so important to me and I want to share the joy this brings me with others and show them ways you can look at art, without making it seem to hard or elitist. I work in the contemporary art field as a program officer, but I notice that so often the kinds of art and illustration that I find on the internet and have come to love, doesn’t have a place yet in these institutions. I am not sure I’ll be able to change that, as the current voices in contemporary art and institutions are important as well, but I think it’d be good to show the immensely talented artists out there on the internet and that something big is happening!



4. What makes you heart beat?

The stories in art, beauty and creativity. Both being creative myself as well as enjoying the beauty others have created. Taking in what I see and love and turning it into something I made.


5. What inspires you beyond belief?

I’m going to sound like such a dork, but sometimes I wish I could just marry the internet. There’s so many talented artists out there and I’ve met so many great people online, it’s amazing. Yay for the internet and for websites like Flickr, Etsy, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the awesome bloggers out there!



6. What advice would you give to other creative entrepreneurs?

Never ever underestimate or undervalue yourself, but be realistic about the things you’re not so good at. You’re probably amazing at what you do, about putting yourself and your work out there, about showing the world your voice and your colors – that is the most important and the most valuable thing you’ve got. Focus on that. It’s your strength. But there’s no shame in accepting that perhaps you’re not the right person to, say, go about setting up a financial structure, or set up a website, or sell your own work. Ask someone who does know about these things to help you. I think if you keep your message clear and you’re persistent, people will be drawn to your energy and will want to help you.



7. Tell me one thing that you think you’re best at?

I think I’m pretty good at spotting great artists. I am a very visual person and react very strongly when I see something I love and I can explain what I like about it.


8. What’s your kryptonite?

The constant brain-chatter coming in waves of to-do lists. Sometimes I feel I cannot do nothing. I always feel so responsible and there’s always a million things going on. Turning that noise down can be a problem. Especially when working in my art journal or on my blog becomes another thing on the mental to-do list, I can sometimes feel trapped by my own expectations of myself.



9. What do you to do recharge?

I stop all the things I think I need to do. I don’t blog. I don’t draw in my journal, I don’t answer my phone. I’ll rebel and watch an entire season of Gossip Girl in a row, buy a gossip magazine, or eat an entire bag of candy in one sitting, go out with my friends and dance like a maniac and drink too much and stay up way too late, knowing I’ll be tired on Monday morning. Usually one evening like that pretty much fixes it.



10. Any important links we should know about?

Personal Blog

The Yellow Umbrella Blog


Facebook Fanpage for The Yellow Umbrella Blog


The biggest hug in the galaxy to Anna Denise for being such a sweetheart + opening her heart to us + an invitation to all you lovely folks at home/office to leave your love in the comment area below to show our guest today how we roll around here!



Mayi Carles