Sweetgum Handbags is Kim, a twenty-something grad student who works on her PhD in ecology by day, and runs her sewing machine at all hours of the night. She learned to sew from her talented mother Chris, and from the tried and true method of trial and error.
Favorite materials include denim, corduroy, canvas, woven suede, and repurposed upholstery samples. Custom orders are more than welcome. The business is based in the lovely town of Durham in the fabulous state of North Carolina, USA. All Sweetgum bags are designed to be functional, pleasant to look at, and to last you a very long time.
If you’ve been keeping up with my posts the last few weeks, then you know this New Year is all about revitalization for me! With that, instead of trying to quit bad habits – I instead decided I wanted to try new things and to live more fully. [2011 Calendar from The Must Stash]
So far so good! But one tough thing is keeping it all organized. I’ve added a couple things to my routine (which I’ll share about in a moment), and that seems to be upsetting the apple cart (in a good way)! It’s also asking me to more carefully shape my priorities, and I’m so happy for that.
Weekly Planner from Little Otsu.
Throughout this post you’ll find some beautiful handmade items – all of them will help you become more organized. If you’re like me, you love it when the things around you are fun to look at, it makes staying on track all the more enjoyable.
So, back to me! One thing to know about me is that on top of being a wee bit of a computer nerd, I also love documentaries. Thanks to Netflix coming to Canada I’ve been truly getting my fix the last little while. The husband and I are planning to watch Food Inc together soon. I heard about the movie from friends a while back, but wasn’t ready to watch it for some reason. I was worried it would just discourage me (I’ve been known, when busy with work, to eat take-out 4 out of 7 nights a week and I’ve always loved processed foods), and now I’m glad that I waited.
Custom Organizer from Bubbo.
I did watch the episode of Oprah when the director of the film was on the show, and for some reason he got me thinking about fruit and vegetables. And that I wasn’t eating them very often… Then at the start of the New Year, instead of starting a diet or vowing to watch what I eat, I instead asked myself – are you drinking 8 glasses of water a day, are you eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day? And I issued myself a challenge to do so. I now have a tracker on my desk, and most days I’m eating 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables and 4 or 5 glasses of water. Can I tell you something? This coupled with yoga and a bit of light cardio, and I feel energetic, full, and my cravings for unhealthy food have diminished big time. Because this is hard to keep track of I actually keep the tracker out on my desk where I can note down my intake and if I’ve exercised too.
Printable Recipe Cards from Little Paper Dog.
I have a feeling that when I sit down in a week or two to watch Food Inc. I’m going to be nodding my head in agreement with a lot of what’s said. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve already seen the movie, or your experiences with healthy lifestyle changes!
The Sewn Natural shop is owned by a mother-daughter team specializing in sustainable eco-design, and vintage-inspired styling for children. This shop is chock-full of brilliant color and sweet vintage style. Toys. Blankets. Clothing. Accessories. It’s a one-stop source for stocking up on amazing gear for your baby or child.
For instance, this colorful matryoshka doll crib bumper. It’s simply luxe. It’s created from a lovely retro (and out-of-print) Anna Maria Horner fabric, and has a matching quilt also for sale.
I was so delighted to see this cute messenger bag, recycled from men’s khakis and featuring vintage fabric and lace, and a beautifully embroidered high-wheeler bicycle. Just wonderful. What child wouldn’t love this sweet little bag as he goes about his day, hunting for treasures?
These adorable little summer gnome dolls are part of a whole gnome series sold in the shop. The dolls are safe for infants, but would be a much-loved gift for an older child. They’re made from beautiful vintage fabrics and are all hand-sewn and embroidered.
This beautiful little dress is one of many finely-constructed, made to order, children’s garments. They range in sizes from 12 months to 5T, depending on the style.
A child’s hanging mobile in colors sophisticated enough for an adult’s creative office space or bedroom? I think we may have found it here. This modern mobile is hand-sewn and needle-felted, and hung from a piece of found driftwood. It’s so beautiful in its simplicity.
This lovely little momma bunny doll is made entirely from organic materials. She has family members, a baby, Willow, and two other children, Spruce and Sierra, each are sold separately. I particularly love that she, and all of her kiddies, have little hearts on their chests. A nice touch.
Drop by the shop and see these, and other darling items for your little darlings.
Don’t be a cog in the machine, use the machinery of the man to adorn your bad self instead! Wear it close to your heart and live each day knowing someone cared enough to make this just for you. By Round Rabbit.
Sandra is the designer-maker behind Tea and Ceremony, selling unique paper goods, pins and tote bags inspired by her love of stationery. “I have always had a penchant for paper and as a child I was very fond of the stationery sets that contained an exercise book, ruler, pencil and rubber,” says Sandra. “I had a Mr T set, Streethawk and my favourite, Knight Rider!”
Sandra continues, “I have been crafting ever since I can remember. I had always enjoyed drawing as a child and I distinctly remember my mum showing me how to draw a three-dimensional roof and house when I about six or seven. I taught this to my class mates in school and they were amazed by it.”
“I studied art and design throughout school, college and university. My technical background is quite varied and I have experienced everything from textiles and bookbinding to oil painting and screen printing. I do have days where I decide that I want to print tote bags or sew needle cases and then others where I just want to sit at my computer all day and design a set of greetings cards.”
Applying her training and expertise to crafting, Sandra stumbled across the ideal venue for selling her products in 2008. “I came across Etsy and had never seen anything like it. It was really exciting to see all the amazing things that people can make with their own two hands. Seeing that so many other people were trying their hand at selling gave me the confidence to try and sell my own designs.”
As Sandra has a day job away from crafting, selling online offers her a convenient and manageable way of maintaining her ‘shopfront’. “Once you sell your first item, you realise that there is a market for your ideas and you are actually okay at what you do. And when you start getting positive feedback, that spurs you on to create more. The only downside of Etsy is that is American based and I feel that US buyers are a little put off by shipping costs.”
“Google Analytics is a fantastic tool to help you understand your market. Looking at visitor statistics for my shop, UK residents spend the longest time browsing my store so you cannot rely on catering to countries such as the US for high volumes of sales. I have just started selling on notonthehighstreet.com, which I am quite excited about so I am hoping that I will be able to generate more online sales through that particular marketplace. I am also just beginning to receive requests for wholesale.”
Sandra gathers inspiration from a wide range of sources. “I am quite changeable and my inspiration changes daily although I generally like bold design, for example Scandinavian, Forties wartime and folk design are probably my favourites at the moment. I also currently like the work of Swedish graphic designer Olle Eksell as there are some lovely illustrations in his work.”
Like many handmade sellers, Sandra is spurred on by the global reach that selling online offers her, as well as the support given to the handmade community. “It’s a nice feeling to know that somebody is Japan, Sweden or anywhere else in the world has something you have created in their home or passed it onto someone they care about. I think that people who buy handmade items are genuinely appreciative of the time and effort that has gone into making an item.”
“I think that the handmade scene is definitely growing in the UK and it does provide a wonderful alternative for consumers who are tired of the same stale mass produced items. There is a lot of support within the crafting community and there are schemes and grants available for business start-ups although I find that these tend to be for those crafts deemed to be more ‘traditional’, such as ceramics and jewellery making. Turning your craft into a profession is a risky business so I think that there is still some reluctance to financially support a designer-maker.”
Sandra’s items are varied but she ensures that each reflects her personal tastes and styles. “I’m a bit of a scatter brain and jump from one thing to another and I dislike the idea of creating things in one style. This can be a problem if people struggle to recognise your work but I think that versatility is an asset. You need to adapt and evolve to keep you on your toes. I can’t imagine churning out the same things over and over again. It may work for some people, but not me.”