Thursday, December 2, 2010
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Tania McCartney, the author of Handmade Living: A Designer Collective.
Handmade living is a unique and beautiful hard cover book showcasing the talents of handmade designers, artisans and craftspeople from all over Australia. Over 70 projects and 100 designers are featured in this beautiful book.
Today, the beautiful Tania will show you how it is possible to Combine a Cottage Business with Raising a Family.
The cottage industry in Australia is booming. Thanks to the internet and a bevvy of beautiful online stores, blogs and marketplaces, handmade talent is firing up their kilns and baking up a market stall of gorgeousness to be enjoyed the world over. Never before has handmade been so chic and accessible – and Australia certainly has something to brag about when it comes to hot handmade product.
Handmade Canberra has been supporting local handmade talent for two years now via its quarterly market and retail store, and with the imminent release of its first publication – handmade living: a designer collective – handmade aficionados will rejoice at the collection of designers offering projects and inspirational ideas that can be made at home.
Most of the designers found in handmade living are women – often stay-at-home mums – and the success of their businesses and demand for their product has necessitated a juggling act akin to circus performers… how on earth do they sustain such quality and demand while raising children and running a family home?
Stephanie Phillips of mon petit poppet and Caleena Edkins of Caleena Edkins know a thing or two about circus acts – both are talented seamstresses and creators of beautiful items for children – and both offer several gorgeous projects in handmade living. Here, they tell us how they combine an overwhelming desire to create – with a deep love of family.
Stephanie from mon petit poppet
Crafting and creating has become a way of life for me. Something that makes me who I am and keeps me from going slightly batty whilst embarking on the greatest adventure of my life… motherhood.
Not a day goes by when I don’t make something with my hands. No, it’s not always at the sewing machine… I have come to appreciate the pleasure in day-to-day creating. Baking bickies with my girl perched on the bench top next to me. Choosing a colour for our renovation in progress and liberally splashing it onto walls. Dreaming up magical and stimulating activities for my little girl. Who ever knew that playing with a sink full of bubbly water could be so stress relieving?
Voraciously reading craft books (such as the brilliant, soon to be released, holding my breath in anticipation, handmade living!) has become somewhat of an addiction and I justify this rather expensive habit because it feeds my soul, inspires me, makes me sit down even for just a few minutes…and doesn’t harm my lungs nor liver!
Having a craft basket with projects I’ve got on the go gives me a chance to create when a snippet of time comes hurtling my way. These times are few and far between when my honeybee is buzzing around but I like to be able to squeeze every last second out of them when they do magically appear.
And before you say, “I bet she’s got a huge craft room with floor to ceiling storage, separate cutting table, and a butler named Barnaby… think again! I have one cupboard in the spare bedroom and I schlep my overlocker and sewing machine down into the garage every day as soon as Bijou’s head hits the pillow.
Not ideal circumstances (would Chanel put up with such conditions, I ask you?) but I make the most of it. My cupboard is stacked with labelled boxes for each of my mon petit poppet items which makes packing for a market a breeze. And everything is labelled… it’s the teacher in me. My ‘studio’ has a cheap carpet rug on the floor, an iPod dock and room for a big mug of tea. It ain’t the Taj Mahal but it works just fine!
But how do I juggle the role of Mumma and that of entrepreneur in training? I make lists… oh my, I make lists. I’m even one of those sad cases that adds things to my list after I’ve done them just so I can get the satisfaction of crossing them off!
I set aside either a Sunday evening with a glass of wine or early Monday morning before Bijou wakes. Armed with hot cup of tea and a big sheet of paper, I set about planning my week, jotting down all I need (and would love) to achieve.
I’ve found grouping things under certain umbrellas such as errands, home, craft/me time, renos, et cetera helps keep me focused during the week. I even use coloured pens to make it less like a schedule and more like a positive guide.
I try to keep on top of things by doing jobs when they need doing to avoid visiting such iconic landmarks as the Leaning Tower of Ironing. I make weekly menus, add things to the shopping list as soon as they get used up and do my main grocery shop online (the person who invented online groceries should be knighted!). And then I polish my halo vigorously!
And when I’ve got a big market looming, one wholesale order too many, and a poppet who insists on generously hurling every imaginable sea creature bath toy at my feet whilst I try in vain to slash through the hairs on my legs making me resemble the abominable snow man… I just breathe… drink in those impossibly blue eyes of hers... and smile.
Wouldn’t trade it for a bazillion dollars. Life is grand!
Caleena of Caleena Edkins
Can we combine motherhood with a home business? I think so, if we do so at home. I know I wasn’t very happy when I tried to do things the other way around. Having had my own business running a bridal couture store in Sydney, it was very busy, lots of commuting, long hours, stressful clients (often cranky from crash diets) and the boredom factor of always doing white and pastel dresses,
When my first son came along, I tried to juggle it all. Three days at work, three at home and Sunday being our family day. I constantly felt like I wasn’t doing a good job anywhere. I spent my life in the car and really just wanted to be with my baby.
By the time I had my second child, I thought I had it all sorted out – just be a mum. I sold my business and reveled in my babies, but after a while I missed my creativity. I wanted to MAKE things.
After selling my clothes in a few cool stores, all of a sudden I had a busy label and two toddlers. Not a good mix! I learnt the hard way again that I couldn’t do it all unless I wanted to either invest a lot in the business financially and have no time with my kids again.
Around this time, some small online handmade stores started popping up, like etsy.com and made.it.com in Australia. This was my solution! I can now make up small runs of a design in whatever fabrics I choose and sell my designs directly to my customers, My only limitation is my own creativity!
Things began slowly for me but over the last year I have noticed a steady increase in both exposure and sales, I now have a great balance in my business of on-line sales, some wholesaling, about six markets a year and time to develop small projects for a few select clients.
At first it was hard to get the balance right… was I a mother or a designer first? Do I complete an order first or tend to my child?
I always remind myself that in my life, motherhood is king and all other work gets prioritized after that. I like being at home and managing both careers. I find I get enough verbal and mental stimulation, and best of all I can enjoy my babies and be there after school for my big kids.
I have found the best way to achieve a balance is to involve your kids as much as possible. My babies play on the floor of my studio with my button jar, ribbon jar and scrap box. My older kids like to make things with me and are invaluable with their opinions and ideas.
When the kids are sleeping or at school, I try to do my crocheting or trimming and finishing (my husband calls me Nanna because I always have a craft bag with me). I also do all my computer work at night, surf the net in peace and catch up with all my favourite blogs. I set out a day for photographing all my stock about once a month and upload things gradually.
I am not the tidiest, most organised mum in the world but I am fantastic at multitasking
and have a lot of projects on the go at once to stop me from getting bored. I am no saint; there have been many days my children have been late or gone to school with odd socks on because I am just finishing off something. Lunch orders are my saving grace!
I keep reminding myself my kids will remember our crafty, messy, fun house filled with love and creativity over a vogue entertaining house with floors you can eat off. They may live to resent me and my crochet hooks, but I can only do my best. Crafting and motherhood are a great mix.
Click here to see the handmade living blog tour!
If you would like a copy of this book you can place your order here.
Tania, it's been so fun getting to know you! I'm honored to be part of your blog tour!
Another fantastic post,I feel very lucky to be involved in such a fantastic book