I recently took part in the Virtual Designer Market. It is a fabulous online market night full of amazing bargains! I told myself I would not look through the hashtag #virtualdesignermarket… I was not permitted to purchase any bargains! That is right, even if it was an absolute bargain I could not buy it.
Well, guess who looked through the hashtag and guess who saw the necklace of her dreams? Yes, me!
A gorgeous neon yellow and marble necklace was looking at me, practically begging for a home. I told myself I could live without it… but it was yellow, and bold, oh and did I say it was yellow? Plus it was the lucky last one in this style! I didn’t want to miss out! I just had to make this beautiful necklace mine.
The necklace was by a Melbourne maker named Tina, of Glisten Designs who makes vibrant luxe fashion jewellery. My parcel (dream necklace) arrived super fast and carefully packaged. It is even prettier in real life and also very well made. My husband even complimented me on it! (It must be a stand out piece!)
I have been wearing it non stop and it brightens up every outfit especially dull Winter jumpers. I am not much of a Winter person so this necklace adds the pop of colour I need!
I have since checked out more of the current work of Tina from Glisten Designs.
How adorable are her statement cord necklaces?
Oh and not forgetting her dreamy new Marble Luxe Collection… There are no words to describe it…
I love my Neon Nights necklace. I look forward to seeing more of Tina’s wonderful creations and also adding some more of her work to my budding Glisten collection!
Right from the time I could draw, paint and simply just CREATE my everyday has been filled with making.
However when I started making for my little Etsy shop I had no idea about making for a shop. First of all, would people like the things I made? I knew I loved my headbands and also the matchy matchy handbags and skirts I was making at the time. But would other people appreciate my crazy , colourful and co-ordinated style? I really wasn’t sure. Don’t get me wrong I had full confidence in myself and cray cray ideas but I honestly didn’t know if my style would be appreciated by others.
So, I started small and made everything to order. Every single thing.v I would cut and sew the chosen fabric to order, cut and sew the linings to order, run the bobbin to order (depending on the colour cotton I needed!) I even went as far as to make my own packaging and hand cut business cards. Yes, every single part of the process was made to order and with lots of love and care.
The problem was when you are working in time blocks (sewing at any available time possible even if it is just for 30 minutes) and are the only person making, searching and ordering new supplies, doing admin, marketing, packing orders and dashing off to do the post run this is not always so practical. Sure it is fine when you are first starting out but I soon realised it would be far better to ‘Production Line Sew’.
Production line sewing is actually quite a lot of fun. For me it doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of sewing and I don’t believe it makes anything seem any less ‘handmade with love’. It makes me feel organised and it is wonderful when I can see how much fabric I have cut up or linings I have made. It also makes the ironing easier as I can iron everything at once rather than in bits and pieces.
I come from a hospitality industry background so production lines are second nature to me. I remember organising 100 dessert plates. Each one would have a pretty swirl of raspberry sauce; 100 swirls completed in a row. Then the cake would be placed on the plates; 100 in a row. Then a big dollop of whipped cream carefully scooped into a pretty round ball; yep you guessed it 100 in a row! I think this previous experience really helped me adapt to production lines in my own making process.
In order to adapt a mini production line to your work schedule you will need to look at your process and write down the steps needed to make your items.
I usually spend a day cutting linings (in my available time blocks of course) and then a day of sewing those linings. This is followed by another day or two cutting new headbands… which is then followed by an evening of ironing. I haven’t even completed a headband yet, let alone turn it inside out and top stitch! But at least I am nearly ready to finish those headbands.
I do sometimes put aside some fabric for made to order items and special requests. I often get asked for specific lengths so some fabrics I do leave out of my mini production line.
Also if a fabric doesn’t seem to be as popular I might only make a small quantity to start and make to order the rest. However majority of headbands are popped into my little mini production line! I am not a sweat shop. I am one person making everything by hand. Every item is still made with love, just in a more organised manner.
It may feel that you are achieving very little at first as nothing is made immediately which you might be used to but the hard work pays off once you see what you have made in advance.
Try to apply some of these production line techniques to your chosen craft.
It will help you make the most efficient use of your precious crafting time.
Today I am talking to Megan who is the owner of the online fabric boutique Dolly Henry. I first came across the beautifully curated fabrics of the Dolly Henry boutique when my lovely friend Rhiannon bought some of the fabrics for my Birthday. I was amazed that I had never come across the quilting fabrics that Megan curates and so my love of this little boutique began!
Hi Megan. I very much appreciate you taking the time to join me on the blog today. Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi Alana, Thank you so much, I am so excited and delighted to be here! A bit about
me…right! I’m a young designer, blogger, maker and business owner. I live on a farm in Queensland, with my family and (many) pets. My adventure into the creative jungle started in my late teens with a handmade clothing business which took a different turn last year when my health could no longer sustain the demanding hours required of a fulltime seamstress. I opened a fabric destash shop on Etsy to help pay the bills and one thing lead to another as it so often can, and before long I was the owner of a little online fabric shop!
Who is ‘Dolly Henry’ and how did you come up with this catchy name for your boutique?
Hmmmmmm….well it seems I have a knack for naming things after the animals around here! They have such funny personalities and are a big part of my life so I guess that might be why my last business was named after my pet chicken of all things. This one is a little dearer to me though. Dolly Henry was the name my sister (also a young blogger/maker) and I chose when we decided to try having a handmade label together. However, because we were already running our own businesses on top of that, and had just opened a popup shop, Dolly Henry kind of just remained in a box, waiting to be rediscovered. That happened late last year when I was trying to come up with a name for my blog to share my new creative adventures and as we had already registered the domain name for Dolly Henry I just went with that….it was a very casual decision! The name itself comes from our two dogs we got them together as puppies. Mine is called Henry and my sister’s dog is called Holly, but is so often called Dolly. They are little shih tzu crosses and are probably more ‘furbabies’ than dogs…pretty sure Henry thinks he is a people!
How has your business evolved over time?
Oh it’s always evolving and going places that I never expected. For me, one business has lead to another….not sure if I have a problem there or not lol! It started off as a very creative market stall based business, which developed into my more serious fashion label which in turn, out of necessity, became what it is today a small fabric shop and creative blog under the new name Dolly Henry. I have had different business names throughout time, but this one really feels right to me because of it’s namesake. The funny thing is, I feel like I am doing a full circle right now and am coming back to where I started…and at the same time, have a real sense of finally being in the right place, with the right mix of things. I am very passionate about creativity, it’s so important and the world wouldn’t even be the teeniest bit the same without it. Small business is an adventure you have to be prepared to evolve as your life and customers change, otherwise you are in danger of becoming a bit of a dinosaur…and we know how that worked out!
You find the prettiest fabrics Megan! Do you have a method for curating your fabrics or do you follow your heart?
Oh thank you so much! Is there a method to my madness…hmmm.. Lol. Yes and no and maybe all at the same time. If you mean method by being super organized with a notebook beside the bed for capturing late night ideas, inspiring mood boards dotted on the walls and a daily appointment in front of the computer to do Pinterest and coffee….then no. It sounds good in my imagination but in reality, my head is in a constant spin cycle and I hardly write or sketch anything down. I am prone to making split second decisions so I guess I am a very much go with my heart type of girl. I definitely try to stay to my taste because while I am aware that everybody has different tastes and you need variety, I have had a lot of experience buying/patting/stashing/staring at fabric and I kind of know what will be popular now. It makes sense I guess to buy a whole collection of fabrics, but I don’t often do this because you can guarantee there are prints that just don’t sell that well. So as a small business in particular, I prefer to be really choosy about what I do get, stay very true to me and my colours. I do try and make sure my range coordinates and I have a ‘brand’ idea for Dolly Henry revolving about somewhere in that scatter brain of mine that I do try to adhere to. There is something for everyone out there, so I try to remember that all I need to be is me because there is always someone, somewhere who will share your taste in style!
Now I could talk about pretty fabrics all day long so I must ask what is currently your favourite fabric?
Oh gosh!!! That question is SO hard. There are just too many amazing designs and styles out there and on any one day, it can be different. I confuse the buttons out of everyone I know because one day I’ll be Vintage, then next Nautical, then Geometric modern…and so on. Consistently, I love tiny florals, mixed with naturals like linens. I love gold, pink and aqua as a rule and it shows up most often in my decorating/colour choices. I also love Bambi deer! But really, I just love any fabric that is done really well and the colour combination is on point. I am really fussy about colours going together well!
You are also a seamstress, which makes complete sense considering you curate gorgeous fabrics. What sort of things do you sew and do you sell your makes?
I know…it makes so much sense, right? (cue more excuses for hoarding, I mean stashing a few nice fabrics) I sew everything from the fun to the practical. The practical being when I had to whip up some pouches quickly for an abandoned wallaby joey we found in our paddock. I am just dabbling in patchwork type items and I know it’s obvious, but it is such a different way of using and putting together fabrics than when you are garment sewing. The two are poles apart and I have started making little projects not only because they are quick and relaxing but I also realized early on in the fabric shop adventure, that while I had garment knowledge downpat, I really needed to understand how people use fabrics in quilting so I could help my customers in the right way, and also curate the fabric accordingly. What is dreadful for a dress can be just perfect in a hexagon and vice
versa. Personally, I still really enjoy designing and making the little girl’s clothing I
just don’t get the same thrill from patchwork that I do from creating a sweet outfit.
As I mentioned earlier with the whole ‘full circle’ thing, I am in the process of designing a party dress line for little girls, which I will sell through an Etsy shop. This time I am going to focus on creating more high end, one of a kind pieces that are really special. I spend a lot of time trying to get the tiny details right and everything perfected, so it makes more sense for me creatively to make more exclusive pieces than running myself into the ground again producing a clothing line that really requires a whole factory of people!
What social media platforms do you prefer for connecting with other creatives and customers?
Instagram! Need I say more? I encourage anyone who is in the creative way of things to get on there. No it’s not just for selfies, teenagers, celebrities and hashtags incase that’s what the word conjures up for you. It’s got some seriously talented, amazing, and generous crafty people on there and it’s such an easy, inviting little platform to not only connect with others but show off your own makes. You can connect and chat with customers, make new friends, participate in craft swaps…heaps of amazing stuff. Get onto it if you haven’t!
What has been the greatest challenge since starting your creative business and how have you overcome that obstacle?
Is it undignified to say the financial end of things? Would Lady Violet from Downton Abbey tuttut? Balancing time and money are probably some of the biggest obstacles we all face in small, creative businesses. It requires ingenuity and many, many hours in the think tank. It’s definitely been an obstacle to me, but I might be crazy but I don’t really listen to the ‘no’ word. I turn it around and around in my head until I can come up with a solution and I give things a go. I honestly still have no idea how we managed to hold a popup shop! And if I can’t afford to do it, I start working on ideas as to how I can work with what I have, to raise the funds to eventually get to my goal. Strangely, it’s quite fun when I leave the stressful part out. It’s exciting and satisfying to really have to work at something and develop ways to defy the odds. I do make sacrifices, I don’t go out much, buy much or have holidays but I am actually really happy as long as I can create, so it’s not a hardship. You choose a small business because you want a different life, so trying to fit into the nine to five conventional system while being very unconventional just seems pointless to me.
Describe a typical ‘Dolly Henry’ work day?
Typically, I get up around seven, I try to avoid touching a digital device until later in the day so I have a cup of tea and take Henry for a walk or help feed the chickens. I might pet a calf or two along the way. Then back inside around nine/ten and often I cook a breakfast/lunch before continuing with the day. If there are orders to pack, I get them done ready for the post office run in the afternoon. If I am having a ‘free’ day, I might do some creative time in the form of crochet or sewing, dreaming up a blog post or two. I also might make some new fat quarter bundles. The afternoon is usually a good time to take some photos outside on the verandah, I normally batch do them for instagram or my blog post as it’s more time efficient. Somewhere in my day I have checked and replied to emails and posted/socialized on Instagram, and I try to do some blogging when inspiration strikes. Honestly, there is no typical Dolly Henry day, every single day is different. Recently, because I was feeling so overwhelmed with trying to get it all done, I cut back on my social media time and got stricter with my email routine it doesn’t take that long when you just get on and get off. I also wrote out a weekly schedule, not because I think I will be able to adhere to it life on a farm can be quite unpredictable but I have found it has helped me not have to think about what I should be doing and just do it! At the end of the day, I have a sense of getting something accomplished. I have done the fast and furious way of business and then spent months upon end burnt out. These days, I have a plod along approach, getting it all done but in a more consistent, sustainable way bit of tortoise and the hare scenario. I’ve also just put a ‘maker’ day into my schedule where I DON’T even turn on my iphone, emails or Instagram all day or at least until the very end of the day. I don’t get disrupted by notifications this way and get a lot more made/done. It took a bit of reasoning with myself to do this, but in reality, no-one is going to have to wait more than a day for a response from me anyway, so it’s been a good move!
I love a good trade! It is a wonderful way to acquire new accessories without feeling guilty for spending money. Plus a girl can never have too much handmade jewellery!
When my lovely instagram friend Ali from Behind the Door asked if any makers were interested in doing a trade I raised my hand straight away ‘Pick me! Pick me!’
However as Ali had already purchased from me not too long ago I wasn’t sure if she would want to add anymore headbands to her ever growing According to Alana collection so soon. I was over the moon when she agreed to do a swap as I have had my eye on her pretty sparkly handmade jewellery for sometime.
Now for those who don’t know of Ali she makes the most gorgeous sparkly glitter stud earrings for her jewellery label Behind the Door which is based in Adelaide, South Australia. Ali has the most stunning collection of glitters which she uses in her jewellery making. The earrings she creates with her glitters always look so pretty in photos and are not like anything else I have ever seen. It was a tough decision but I chose the Blue Mermaid Stud Earrings and Tequila Sunrise Stud Earrings both in 12mm round size.
When my gorgeous Handmade Happy Mail arrived I was amazed by my new earrings. Is it possible for something to look even more beautiful in real life? Well, my gorgeous super sparkly earrings definitely did and they were crafted to perfection! I couldn’t wait to wear them. I chose the Blue Mermaid Stud earrings first as I tend to wear a lot of blue.
They are definitely the sparkliest stud earrings I own. The 12mm size is perfect for my ears and the blue is a real pop of sparkly colour! I wore these earrings morning until night and they didn’t hurt or irritate my ears one little bit.
Oh and how amazing are the Tequila Sunrise Glitter Stud Earrings?
They are highly original and unlike anything else I have seen in the handmade marketplace.
I am always keeping a lookout for makers who are authentic and find their own niche in the handmade world and Ali has definitely done just that with her beautiful handmade accessories.
These sparkly stud earrings have been a wonderful addition to my handmade jewellery collection.
Today I am talking to Marayna who is the owner and heart and soul of Kenzie Collective.
Hi Marayna! Thank you so much for joining me on the blog today! Now due to our love of bright colours you and I found each other quite early on through Instagram! For those who don’t know you or your label can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hey, Alana! Thank you so much for inviting me. Yes, we stumbled across each other oh so long ago. I can still remember the mirrored Unicorn badge that you purchased from me, when I was only selling on Facebook. Oh gosh, how time flies! A little about me, well….I am a Primary school teacher who went on maternity leave at the end of 2013 and has never returned! Let’s just say, things have gotten a little crazy since then. I am a mother to a beautiful little 2 year old, named Mackenzie and I am also the proud wife to my husband Drew, who serves in the Australia Defence Force. Due to the nature of Drew’s profession, we move around a bit but that doesn’t phase me at all. Life’s too short to be boring and stay in one place.
Where and how did the ‘Kenzie Collective’ journey begin?
I have always been a lover of colour, quirkiness and handmade! Always one to search that little bit longer to find the perfect accessory item to set me apart from the crowd. Not one to follow trends, or be told what I can/can’t wear, I felt the creative urgency and desire to do things a little ‘differently’. I have always ‘wanted’ to run my own business but at the time, teaching consumed so much of not only my life but my creativity and drive, as well. Once I went on maternity leave, I had all of this ‘time’ (huh, what mother says that!) to devote to my #1 passion and that is how it all begun.
How has your business evolved over time?
My business started as ‘Kenzie’ where I sold my own accessories (earrings, dangles, necklaces and rings) both online and at markets, in my home town of Townsville. When we moved to Toowoomba in 2014, things took a huge turn. I decided to branch out and start stocking other Australian labels. At first, I introduced the labels slowly, starting with about 6 designers. After attending my first few markets in Toowoomba, and selling online via my website, things grew quite rapidly. Now, we stock over 30 Australian designed labels, all of which I personally love, admire and wear/use ALL the time. Our business has recently undergone a huge re-brand where our name evolved to ‘Kenzie Collective’. A great representation of all the amazing labels we stock. The online store has grown from strength to strength and I currently attend roughly 3-4 markets/month within the Towoomba region.
One of things I love most about your online store kenziecollective.com is that it is a one stop shop for fashion and homewares. What has been the response to your fantastic concept?
The response has been extremely positive. I think the one factor that sets us apart from the rest is the fact that we have always stayed true to our love of colour, patterns, uniqueness, diversity and individuality. We love to stand out from the crowd and encourage our customers to do so, as well. One thing I like about shopping is being able to do it in the 1 spot. Now that Mackenzie is 2, shopping online is an absolute godsend! That’s where I do pretty much all of my shopping. I like to think that ‘Kenzie Collective’ is a place where you can come to purchase a variety of different accessories and homewares without having to worry about paying a ridiculous amount for postage. Don’t we just cringe at postage charges? I do! It’s also a place where you don’t have to worry about fashion rules. If you want to wear spots and stripes, wear spots and stripes! If you want to wear a statement neck piece with statement dangles, DO IT! No one is stopping you. Actually, we strongly encourage it!
You also sell regularly at markets too! Do you find it is a great way to connect with local customers?
My market customers know that I love a chat! I love talking about each and every label that I stock. I love talking about each labels journey, who they are, where they are from, how they started. It is something that is really important to me. Don’t get me wrong, having a 2 year old and a husband who is away a lot, things get tough! That is why I made a promise to myself to put 110% into every single event. It’s time away from my family but it is time for me to do what I love to do!
Where do your creative business ideas come from?
You know what, they come from the inspiration of so many wonderful things! I am the type of person who always needs to carry a pen and paper. It is not uncommon for me to come up with an idea, whilst walking down aisle 4 of Coles. I am so very fortunate to be surrounded by a fabulous and positive group of people. Whether it be family, childhood friends or friends from the wonderful land of Instagram, positivity is something that I hold close to me. I also try to keep an open mind. Not every idea is going to work. Geez, at least half of them fail but, it is what you do after those failures that the most important factor.
You sometimes make custom orders and collaborate with people too. What’s been the most fun project you’ve been asked to do?
Oh gosh, Liona from ‘Poesie Handmade’ and I have been Instagram buddies for soooo long and have had the opportunity to work with each other on a number of occasions. We have been secretly working on our next collaboration for about 3 months (she is going to kill me for talking about this!) and we are so excited to share it with everyone. When you collaborate with people who know, admire and look up to, everything falls together so easily. That what I love about collaborations.
How would you describe your style and what has been the biggest influence?
You seriously need to ask my husband that question. He pretty much looks at my outfit every single day, with a raised eye brow and says ‘Marayna, really? Does that go?’ My response, ‘Who cares? I don’t!’. If I am confident in wearing an outifit, I will wear it. Most of the time I am dressed head to toe in colour, prints, patterns however, on so many occasions you will find me dressed all in black wearing the biggest accessory collection in the world! My wardrobe is full of Gorman, Country Road, Obus, Sportsgirl, Bonds and ASOS. I also have a very healthy slogan tee collection. Let’s just say, my staple ripped jeans + slogan tees + Converse, get a good work out!
Describe a typical ‘Kenzie’ work day?
Each day is so different. My work day revolves around Mackenzie’s routine. She is my number #1 priority and work comes a very healthy #2. Let’s just say, when she is asleep, I work like an absolute CRAZY woman! I am the world’s biggest multi-takser. I also have the world’s most understanding husband. He has taken on the role of ‘Senior Gluer’ and spends his nights, tucked away, gluing 100’s of earrings, all without complaining. I am very lucky to have what I have and I thank my lucky stars every single day! ‘Kenzie Collective’ is a family affair (which is why I refer to the business as ‘us’) and that’s why I feel so passionately about it. It’s my life!
You can find more Kenzie Collective at the following links!
Marayna is one of my favourite colour loving and bold fashion accessory makers. She certainly provides me with plenty of inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and hopefully it has given you some creative inspiration too!
One of the main reasons I purchase handmade goods is the fact that it is a unique piece that has been made with such love and care and not something that can be easily replicated as most items are when purchased though the fast fashion industry.
Whenever I purchase from Samantha at Deluxe Creations I always receive an amazing parcel filled with love and I got exactly that when I recently adopted Eddie the Squirrel!
Now, Eddie is a brooch and is one of the most fabulous retro inspired brooches I have come across. I actually named him Eddie too… He totally looks like an Eddie to me!
One of the things that stands out about Eddie is his colours. He is a mix of the perfect ‘Squirrel Brown’ and pearlescent gold. I notice that he shimmers different shades of brown and gold depending on the lighting. He has also been polished to perfection which is also something to look out for with resin jewellery.
I could not wait to wear him once my handmade happy mail arrived so I pinned him to my cardigan immediately!
Samantha from Deluxe Creations is a talented maker from Western Australia and an absolute expert at her craft. She creates very well made vintage inspired jewellery with lots of sparkle and shine. Resin jewellery making is not for the faint hearted. It is a difficult skill to master. I actually took part in a resin jewellery class nearly 2 years ago and saw first hand how much work goes into bringing to life each resin jewellery piece from the casting all the way to to the polishing.
If you pop by Samantha’s store you will become an instant fan of her work. I already have a ‘Deluxe Creations’ box dedicated to my Deluxe collection!
I am so glad that Eddie the Squirrel has joined my collection!
Today I am talking to the lovely Mim who is the creative force behind SewInTheMoment handmade sock dolls and learning all about her new and amazing project Hero Happy Mail.
Hello Mim! Thank you so much for joining me on the blog and being my very first interview. You and I have known each other through the Instagram crafting community for quite some time but for those who don’t know you can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello Alana. Thank you so much for having me. I am a Sydney girl who loves designing sock dolls and patterns. I am a wife to a wonderful man and mother to two terrific teenagers. I believe in being involved in the community. I love that I have found a way to do that in our wonderful IG community. The relationships I have made there have really blessed my life both in my personal world and that of my business.
You recently started Hero Happy Mail. What exactly is Hero Happy Mail?
Hero Happy Mail is a kindness revolution. It is about connecting children who have suffered from illness or tragedy in my local community with the wonderful world of people who want to make a difference from around the globe.
Being involved is easy. You put together some Happy Mail, which could be a letter, card, drawing or gift and send it to Hero Happy Mail P O Box 4301 Castlecrag NSW 2068 Australia. When I receive the mail and share it on IG and then every Sunday I deliver it to our hero for the month.
“Hero Happy Mail is a kindness revolution. It is about connecting children who have suffered from illness or tragedy in my local community with the wonderful world of people who want to make a difference from around the globe”
It sounds like a wonderful concept! What inspired you to bring this great initiative to life?
It has been on my heart to help children suffering with illness for a few years now. I started making hair free dolls for children who have lost their hair as a result of chemo or surgery. I wanted to create a doll that they were able to relate to. Friends started asking me to make them for children in their world, but I wanted to do more. Then I saw an account on IG that was collecting mail for children suffering from illness. I thought it was brilliant. I knew so many of the world’s sweetest and kind-hearted people and knew I could connect them with children doing it tough.
What has the response been like towards Hero Happy Mail from your Hero of the month, Instagram followers and family of the Hero participating?
The response has been overwhelming from all involved. My first hero Will, who was a three year old suffering from seizures of an undiagnosed origin, was over the moon with receiving mail. He was so happy. His mum didn’t have the words to express how touched she was that so many people would reach out to her son. This month’s hero has been lifted from the depression of realising that his beloved mother is not coming back. She passed just before Christmas and it is hard for him, his brother and Father to come to terms with how to do life without her. They called me just the other day to make sure I was aware of what a difference the Happy Mail was making for Aidan.
So in answer to your question. My heroes have felt like heroes, their families have been overwhelmed with the love and our IG community has been blessed by giving. They often write to me and share how their hearts have been touched. How they have been able to teach their children to be loving, generous and concerned for others. It is a real win/ win situation.
Personally. I am humbled every time I empty the PO Box and my local posties have started to marvel at the good in the world and constantly ask me how things are going.
It sounds like there is a real sense of community amongst your Hero Happy Mail Instagram followers. It must really make your heart sing to see something you have invested so much of your time into is making a real difference to the lives of children who are dealing with illness or tragedy. Do you have a vision of how you would like Hero Happy Mail to grow in the next year?
As a long term kind of girl, yes I do see others starting this movement in their own local communities. However right now I am fine tuning my system so that I can better connect the community and the Heroes with each other, in a way that helps them both.
I want the Heroes to receive Happy Mail that is tailored to them. I want the community to feel like they can easily support their heroes, because they understand them and their situation.
You also create a gorgeous personalised sock doll which is inspired by the monthly Hero as your happy mail contribution. What things can people contribute as happy mail?
Happy Mail could be as simple as a card or a picture that you drew. My definition of Happy Mail, is mail that when it is opened will make the recipient smile. My IG community of #herohappymailfriends are brilliant at ideas for the Heroes. Each month I am asking them about ideas of what to send. I like the idea of flat parcels, but I know our last two heroes have loved the fat parcels full of goodies. If you check out the account, I post pictures of what everyone sends. I am sure you will find it both inspiring and humbling to see what #herohappymailfriends send.
“Happy Mail could be as simple as a card or a picture that you drew. My definition of Happy Mail, is mail that when it is opened will make the recipient smile.”
I have no doubt that there is a lot of work involved in keeping Hero Happy Mail rolling. What does a day include for your SewintheMoment and Hero Happy Mail commitments and how do you juggle it all?
I am blessed to have a supportive family who believe in what I am doing. They will empty the post office box for me if I get stuck. For me I don’t see it as work or burdensome. I am seriously moved to tears each time I use my Ninja opening skills to open a parcel. It is important to me that I keep our Heroes safe. So I open every parcel to insure it is age appropriate and safe. I then take the opportunity to share the mail with the IG community. Then I pack it like it has never been opened to give the heroes the opening experience themselves.
How do I balance both? The secret is passion. I love what I do, I’m seriously living my dream. None of it feels like work. I set myself a daily routine and stick to it. I try and do extra tasks outside of making and designing hours (9am – 3pm) eg. blog interviews. If I get stuck or things get tiring, I will change tasks and return to it when I am fresh again. When you run your own business there are always things to do.
What keeps you motivated?
Again… definitely passion #changingtheworldonedayatatime and people too. I am a words girl. So I love the IG community. It is the most amazing place for experiencing support and encouragement.
What has been the biggest highlight since you started Hero Happy Mail?
Just the other day when I emptied the PO Box the post man had decided that I get so many parcels that don’t fit in my box that he was going to give me one “you’ve got … x 5” parcels waiting slip instead of giving me a separate slip for each one. I felt like I am playing with the big boys now.
Thank you for for taking to the time to chat about Hero Happy Mail Mim! What is the best way for us to keep up to date with your creative work you do with SewInTheMoment and your community work with Hero Happy Mail?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my heart and my passion sweet Alana. You can always email me at sales@sewinthemoment or reach me at:
My name is Alana and welcome to my colourful world full of #matchymatchy fashion.
Colour and creating has filled my world since I was a child. Growing up I dreamed of being an artist or an actress but I soon learnt I was most content whilst I was making.
When I was a teenager nothing made me happier than going to a fabric store. I am quite sure I spent more pocket money on fabric than I did on clothes!
I am a self taught sewer. There was a lot of trial and error especially in my early sewing years. I relied on books for knowledge. There were no online tutorials when I started out. I still love scouring second hand shops for vintage sewing books and patterns. You never know what gem you will find!
I dabbled in making glass bead necklaces around 2005 and 2006. I proudly wore everything I made but did not attempt sell any of it. At the time I wasn’t convinced there would be a market for my crafts. But fast forward a few years I could never imagine how much easier it would be to reach so many lovers of handmade through Etsy and social media.
I started making fabric handbags in 2014 after realising it was increasingly difficult to buy accessories made in Australia in the specific fabric prints I desired. I wanted something to match my clothes and I was also passionate about it being made locally. So I set about making my own bags from op-shopped and new colourful fabrics. Then I made the huge leap to opening an Etsy shop selling my handmade pieces.
I also began to make matching skirts and headbands. As time went on I found it easier to to reduce my range and focus solely on headbands which I continue to do. All headbands are made by me with lots of love.
I am all about co-ordination! Yes! #matchymatchy is a big part of who I am. I have a lot of wonderful help from fellow makers who design and create matching accessories for my shop or co-incidently sell pieces that match my favourite fabrics. It has been wonderful to work with so many talented people.
According to Alana you ask?… Well it is fashion according to me! Alana.
I read an article about fashion designer Alannah Hill a good 15 years ago and was inspired by the article title, ‘The World According to Alannah’ At that time I had never seen many people in Australia dress so boldly and beautifully. Plus she had a variation of my name. I kept ‘According to Alana’ in the back of my mind. It seemed the perfect name to describe who I am and my love of unique fashion.