Heartmade Blog

heart to heart

Interview: Natalie Jost from Olive Manna

 

There are just a few things that are certain in life. For starters I love my mom. That’s ain’t changing, rain or shine. I love cupcakes. That’s pretty much tattooed in me for life. Know what else is rock solid? I L-O-V-E Olive Manna!!! But I’m sure you already knew that, right? Ever since I started this blog I’ve been parading Olive Manna products because I’m simply addicted. There should be a help group for this, lol.

 

Anyhoo, today I’m bringing in the lovely Natalie Jost, mastermind + heart behind Olive Manna to share with us some sweet backstage insides that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. So please grab a cup of tee + pull up a chair + hold down tight, because you’re in for a ride with today’s Q + A!

 

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hmmm… I’m tall, about 5’ 10”, Mexican-Irish, grew up in California, moved to Indiana after becoming a Christian in 2000. I love mexican food and movie theater popcorn, and I’m just learning to cook at age 33.

 

2. How long have I been an designer?

I’ve been designing (imagining things and making them a reality) since I was a toddler, my first creation being a Christmas ornament I fashioned from my hair ties when I was five. My professional career came when I was working in customer service in 2003 and saw that my company’s website needed an overhaul. It was my first major website design and really launched my career as coworkers and friends began to hire me.

 


 

3. When did you decide to turn your talent into a business?

After my twins were born I discovered web design to be too risky to do with little ones demanding my attention all the time, so I decided I’d sell some of the design elements I had developed over the years: templates, Photoshop brushes and patterns, etc. Then quite a few people, my non-designer blog readers, began asking for my designs to be on physical objects they could buy. So it all kind of snowballed from there.

 

 

4. Where do you create?

My ideas come from everywhere, but implementing those ideas takes place in my basement studio, which has been remodeled a couple of times to now include the entire back third of the floor. I also do a lot of work in the dining room, kitchen, and living room in and around the kids when I can. It’s sometimes the only time I can, and it’s also fun for them to see what I do because they may carry on the business someday!

 

5. Describe your creative process.

I’ve tried to answer this question so many times and I always feel so cliche when I do. I really don’t have a “process” I don’t sit down to design something, I just do it. It seems to come to me by accident. Mostly I find a need for something in my own home and I get an idea to make it myself. In doing so, I generally go through a few different concepts to find the one I like best and then if I think others will find it useful as well, it is fairly cost-effective, and it fits with Olive Manna, I add it to the shop.

 


 

6. What is your favorite thing about being an designer?

I am totally tickled by the fact that people like my stuff and buy it. It’s just amazing to me that I can have an idea I think is cool, and instantly find out if others think so too. Sometimes they don’t and it doesn’t sell, but that’s good too. I learn something about people every day. And of course, the extra income is nice too, so we can have things like Internet, our large two-bedroom home, and an occasional pizza on a Friday night.

 


 

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

a. Train yourself right away to believe about yourself what you would have others believe about you. A woman I know (I’ll call her Jane Jones) was afraid to sell something with her name on it because she didn’t think it would mean anything to anyone. But I told her, “If you let word leak that there’s a “Jane Jones Bag” available, people will want to know who Jane Jones is and why they don’t already know about her. They’ll have to have her bag, simply because she’s Jane Jones. Of course it’s not as instantaneous as that, but it does happen, people do think that way. Take pride in what you do and others will see that and want what you have.


b. Don’t think that because someone else is successful selling something that you will be too. Do what you love first, not what you think will sell. There are a LOT of people all over Etsy who seem to build their entire shop around what someone else is doing. A few in particular I see a couple times a year with a new product set that is different from a few months ago because they’re clearly seeing a trend and trying to go with it. Trouble is, at the same time they’re copying ideas, they’re trying to compete in price so they price themselves too low and chances are, after a few months they’ll be on to something else again because they’re not making any real profit. Do what you love, price to make a living, and move on.


c. Be prepared for wholesale inquiries before you think you need to be. I wish I had been! Have a price list, a simple spreadsheet will do. In fact, Google Docs is amazing for this. I have a spreadsheet of all of my products with suggested retail and wholesale minimums. I publish it (click SHARE in the top right corner and choose “Publish to web…”). No one sees it unless I give them the web address to the file, but it’s there when I need to. I add to it or change it, then re-publish it. Then when someone asks, I can give them the link, OR, from that same “publish” window, you can actually give them a link to a PDF version of the spreadsheet, which is even more secure and professional. Some folks will ask for a catalog, so it’s nice to have something like that if you can, which again, you can do with Google docs. Make a new document or presentation with photos and details of your products, then save it as a PDF. Very smooth, and all online, so not a file on a hard drive somewhere, which is nice.

 


 

8. What inspires you beyond belief?

Everyone around me. I’ve always been a “people watcher”. Wherever I go, I watch people live their lives and I imagine their lives, the homes they live in, the family they have, the feelings they have. I listen to people talk about things that bother them or things they love and it inspires me to make things to make their lives easier and more beautiful. I also read blogs and watch people on twitter–not in a creepy way at all. I pay attention to the things people want and try to give that to them, without compromising what I like of course, because I have a long-standing rule that if I don’t like something or won’t personally use it and find significant value it in, I can’t ask anyone to buy it from me.

 


 

9. What’s your favorite handmade possession?

My grandmother made me a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls when I was little. She embroidered the body right where the heart would be, with a message to me from her, on Ann and Andy. They’re really special to me. She also made a TON of barbie doll clothes for me too, including a matching set for me. I don’t think I have my outfits anymore, but I hope my mom still has the barbies and Ann & Andy in the attic, because I’ll be back for those one day!

 


 

10. In 10 years, where do you want to be?

I would love to have an Olive Manna shop, the brick and mortar kind, but my small Midwestern city isn’t great for something so niche. Maybe if I can convince my husband we need to move to a small town on a coast, somewhere a trendy niche shop would fit… but realistically, I’d like to see my girls more involved in running the shop (my twins will be 13, AJ will be 18). Then I can simply dream things up and let them run with them. That would be great.

 


 

11. Any important links we should know about?

Olive Manna Website

Natalie Jost Website

Olive Manna Twitter

Natalie Jost Twitter

 

Natalie, this was amazeballs! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for opening up to us + for being the world’s best supplier + an amazing friend + for being a tsunamic source of inspiration. I’m so blessed to have met you on this creative journey!

 

Now, let’s show Natalie some support in the comment section below + some social media lovin’!

 

Psst… if you saw something you liked, don’t forget to use your special heartmade reader coupon code “MAYICARLES” upon checkout to get 10% knocked off from your Olive Manna purchase. Sweet stuff, right?

 

xo,

Mayi Carles

Interview: Laura Simms from Create as Folk

 

Today it’s going to be a very unique Q + A episode. I’m bringing in the lovely Laura Simms from Create as Folk, who’s on a mission to help creatives do their thing + “non creatives” (or “incognitos” as she likes to call them) find theirs. Isn’t that neat? I just find the notion that creativity is everywhere, in all of us, fascinating.

 

I first came across today’s superstar on twitter. One of my personal mentors + role model, Tara Gentile retweeted something she said + I immediately had one of those “ahaaa, I get it” moments. It didn’t take me long to discover this girl is up for something remarkable, so of course I had to connect + bring her here for ya’ll to see + grow!

 

So without further ado. Let’s dig in deeper to learn more about Laura + her creative revolution.

 

 

1. Who is Laura Simms?

Creative Coach. Actor. Animal Lover. Wife, Daughter, Sister. Simms. In my family there’s a real sense of what being a Simms means, and I love that.

 

2. Where do you create + blog?

I enjoy working in my studio, but I gotta switch it up sometimes. The kitchen table is the runner-up because it’s right by the heater and my 2 house rabbits, Ewok & Henry, like to sit underneath. Hard to resist!

 

 

3. Tell us a little bit about what Create As Folk is all about.

Create as Folk is my website, blog, and creative coaching practice. The core idea is that all people are creative, and that we can use our creativity for our own fulfillment and to make a meaningful contribution to the world. It’s about waking up, taking action, and reaching creative goals, whether they are personal or professional.

 

4. What makes you heart beat?

Oh…otters. They almost make my heart stop. They are hilarious and wonderful to me, and I love watching them play. They are so smart and playful and affectionate. When I’m feeling off my game, I plan an otter watching trip. Pure magic.

 


 

5. What inspires you beyond belief?

Witnessing someone make an idea come alive; seeing someone create the life they want. That’s what keeps me coming back to Twitter–it’s a gathering place for people who do and make, and I love the dailyness of that. Creating can feel quite mundane, but amazing things happen when you keep at it. Anne Bogart talks about creation as a violent act. Creating is not for weenies, and I love seeing people succeed. It makes me want to do more and be more.

 


 

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

Follow your gut. Always. Go where your heart is, the experience will come. Know who you’ll work with and who you won’t. Pay for good design.

 

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

I hear between the lines. I’m a good listener and read people well, and I often hear what’s not said as clearly as what is.

 

8. What’s your kryptonite?

Malted milkshakes, for sure! That, and I’m one of those people who forgets to eat. 1 pm comes around, and my serious calorie deficit and I are feelin’ it. I’m working on it 🙂 In fact, maybe I should have a vanilla malt right now…

 

 

9. What do you to do recharge?

A change of scenery is a great boost for me. That can mean taking a walk in my neighborhood, going camping, or leaving California altogether. It’s so easy for me to stay holed up working on stuff, but getting out and about refills the tank.

 

10. Any important links we should know about?

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

This was so much fun! Thanks for coming over to heartmade Laura. What a pleasure!

 

Now lovelies, it’s your turn. Any more questions you would like to toss for Laura? Let’s keep the conversation going below.

 

xo,

Mayi Carles

Interview: Jenny Meilihove from Be Happy Now

 

You know what makes me really really happy? To discover an artist that totally shakes my universe beyond belief + makes my heart beat faster than Christmas morning! That’s how Jenny Meilihove from Be Happy Now + Toy Dream is making me feel. Jenny’s world of imagination + vibrant colors + magic + scribbles + doodles, is like no other. And today I have the very special opportunity to let you inside. Are you ready?

 

 

1. Who is Jenny Meilihove?

I was born in Russia. When I was 11, our family moved to Israel. Here I studied in Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, in Jerusalem. I was studying Visual Communications, and majoring in Illustration. Currently, I am living in Tel Aviv, in a small room with a big table and two big windows where I can see a piece of sky and trees, sometimes a cloud passing by… sometimes a bird. I am a freelance illustrator, and most of the time you can find me drawing or making tiny dolls.

 

I want my artworks to bring happiness to everyone. I want people to forget about all the troubles they have, and emotionally participate in pleasant situations I capture in my works. I think that in order to be happy, we don’t need much. The tiny uplifting things that each of us can easily find in our daily life can make us very happy, if we think seriously about for just a moment, and without any effort (like giving a big big hug to a tiny cat, or to imagine your dream comes true)… We just need to remember to dream, when we still do another and important things.

 

 

2. Where do you create?

I work at my home, I live in a very old and beautiful building, in the center of Tel Aviv. Some times I am going out to the “Rothschild Boulevard.” It is very long, with a lot of trees and benches and some coffee shops. Many people walks there, and the variety is large, young couples, old folks, children, dogs, bicycles , beautiful and ugly people, shy ones, weird, freaks, musicians, famous and so on… I live nearby and almost every day you can find me there drawing in my sketchbook.

 


 

3. When did you decide to turn your talent into a business?

In my last year of studies in Bezalel – Academy of arts and design, I opened my shop Be Happy Now. After a year I got enough money to live from this shop, and it was the only thing I really wanted to do. To make art, every day, all the day!

 

4. What makes you heart beat?

MUSIC!

 


 

5. What inspires you beyond believe?

I am mostly inspired by the real life, the sun in the morning, the stars in the evening, holidays when all the happy people walking on the streets, romantic couples walking, tiny boys ride on the bicycle. And also emotions are very important to me, when I feel very happy or sadness or melancholy I am trying to translate it into a painting or write a story about it.

 

 

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

To do the thing they are really love and to to it all the days and nights.

 

 

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

Sleeping, I am really good on it!

 

8. Any important links we should know about?

My Website

Art Shop

Toy Shop

Flickr

Facebook

 

 

Oh my! I got goosebumps from today’s Q + A. Thank you so so much Jenny for opening your your heart to us. We loved having you here. So much inspiration to absorb + dreams to imagine!

 

Now let’s show Jenny some lovin’ in the comment section below,

 

xo,

Mayi Carles

Interview: Haley from Haley By Hand

 

Say hello to the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Haley from Haley By Hand – home to sweet owl softies + playful kid clothes + totes + accessories + more! Your heart will instantly melt when seeing this cuties + meeting Haley, she is a doll! So, like we do every Wednesday, let’s sit back + relax + embrace Q + A time.

 

1. So, who is Haley?

I am a maker from Canada. When I’m not busy trying to wrangle my two crazy kids you can find me tinkering away on one crafty thing or another. I am proudly carrying on the tradition of handmade in my family. You see my grandmother taught me to sew when I was just small and it is her gentle voice that guides me through every stitch I make.

 

 

2. Where do you make + create?

I have a small workshop in my home where all the making happens. (I like calling it a workshop – it sounds more elf-ish.) At our old place my work was spread from one end of the house to the other, so it has been great to have a space to finally call my own.

 

 

3. When did you decide to turn your talent into a business?

I took the leap about four years ago, doing local craft fairs and farmers’ markets. It had gotten to the point where my creations were piling up all around us and it just seemed like a natural progression to start selling them. I remember showing up to my first indie craft show and not wanting to take out my stuff. Here were all these amazing crafters that I admired and who was I anyway? So I let myself feel that way for a few seconds and then began to set up my display. Within minutes other crafters were coming over admiring my work and welcoming me into the community. That was my first lesson in confidence, and from that day forward I’ve been fearlessly releasing my work out into the world!

 


 

4. What makes you heart beat?

Honestly? The sound of the mailman coming up the steps when I know he’s got new fabric for me! Well, that and music. At least once a day I lay down the needle and thread and pick up my guitar and sing. Even if it’s just for a few moments I can then go back to my other work fully recharged and free of mental clutter!

 

 

5. What inspires you beyond believe?

Being around other creatives. Musicians, crafters, you name it. Seeing people do what they love, and do it well motivates me to keep going along this path. Craft shows are great for this. Sure, they are a lot of work and they can be super tiring, but being around that much collective creativity is so good for me.

 

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

Well, I know everyone says: “Take great pictures,” and you should totally do that okay guys? But I think my best advice is something that I am constantly working on myself. Don’t be afraid. Be bold. If you have a dream- go live it! I am not always a shining example of these sentiments, but I’m working on it. It can be hard to go against the grain and it takes time to achieve your goals. But guess what, it will take a lot longer if you don’t just go for it already!

 

 

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

Well I think, (hope) that it’s conveying happiness through the things I make. I want to see people smile when they come across my work. I have seen grown men at craft shows pick up my owls and start giggling, asking if it’s okay for them to buy one for themselves. Well of course they can! My work is all about adding a little bit of cheer to your everyday!

 

 

8. What’s your kryptonite?

Oh that’s easy, Mr.Procrastinator gets me every time. He is the worst guy ever. He storms into my workshop all the time and makes me go watch Oprah instead of completing important tasks. Seriously, I don’t know what his problem is.

 

9. What is your favorite handmade possession?

I am the proud, proud owner of a very old quilt. Completely hand stitched by my great grandmother Nell Haley,(Haley was her maiden name.) This year I’ll be writing about my journey to restore this family heirloom, and share stories about the woman who created it over on my blog, feel free to follow along 🙂 here.

 


 

10. Any important links we should know about?

Shop

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Flickr

 

Haley this was so so much fun! We loved getting to know you more, up close + personal! Makes us adore you even more!

 

So sweethearts out there, let’s spread the love by sharing this amazing interview with your network + by leaving a comment below showing your amazing support! Because that’s how we roll here at heartmade… it’s all about the loving’.

 

xo,

Mayi Carles

Interview: Paola of Le Chou Chou Bijoux

 

Lovelies, let’s welcome Paola, the mastermind behind Le Chou Chou Bijoux, the sweetest of handmade jewelry shops (you’ll see for yourselves in just a minute what I’m talking about). So let’s sit back + grab a cup of tea + relax because you’re in for a sweet treat with today’s interview.

 

1. So, Paola please tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Paola, I’m a graduate metalsmith and jewelry designer. I’m born in Italy near the city of Naples, which has a great tradition of artisanal jewelry and miniatures (yes, this is the famous city of the San Gregorio Armeno street, the “street of cribs”).

I’ve always been a person with logistical problems: this pushes me to make “portable” and reduced to essentials all that I have. Jewels are one of the smallest (in terms of size of course) existent art forms.

I studied jewelry design at the largest jewelry center in southern Italy (the “Tarì” of Marcianise, near Caserta); but I had my first encounter with this world so fascinating when I was a child, during an archaeological exhibition where I saw the jewels found under the ashes of the Vesuvius. They are survived not only to people, but also to most of the artworks and buildings: having a great symbolic and economic value and small size, they were the principal objects that all the people took while were fleeing. A jewel for me is “portable art”.



 

2. Where do you make/create?

I recently moved into a new home, at this moment I have only a table in my drawing room, I’m finishing to decorating my new workroom at the second floor of my house, and I think I will enjoy it during these holidays! This is why I have not yet photos.

 

3. When did you decide to turn your talent into a business?

Immediately! I sell items created by me since I was a child, to my classmates.

 


 

4. What makes you heart beat?

My french bouledogue Amedeo!

 

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

Be original! This is my first rule.


 

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

Solve problems! I’m like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Call me Winston!

 

7. What’s your kryptonite?

Hunger.

 


 

8. Any important links we should know about?

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Flickr

 

Oh my! I had so much fun with this one! Thank you so so much Winston, excuse me Paola 😉 for sharing some of your magic with heartmade. We loved having you here.

 

Now let’s show Paola some lovin’ in the comment section below,

 

xo,

Mayi Carles