Etsy Craft Party - Durban

29 May 2013

Let's Celebrate Craft
Hello Readers and Friends
I am so excited to be hosting the Durban Etsy Craft Party! Hooray! Durban crafters and creatives please join me and let's craft together! The Etsy Craft Party is a one-day celebration of meeting and making. Share your passion for craft, art, and design within your community. The amazing thing is that it's a global celebration with people taking part around the world!

Date - 20 June
Time - 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Where - Durban (venue to be confirmed)
What - An evening of crafting, making friends and having fun
Cost: R100 to cover craft supplies and refreshments
The RSVP form on Eventbrite doesn't allow for rand values, but you can pay at the door.

Please RSVP super soon! Just click here.

If we have 25+ RSVP's by tomorrow - Etsy will be sending us a supply kit for the party!
Update - Etsy has extended the deadline to 2nd June and luckily, we have already reached the qualifying total! Thanks to all of you who have signed up!

Let's share all that Durban has to offer!

If you would like to assist, contribute, sponsor or just help out - please get in touch!

Simply Crochet Magazine

27 May 2013

Beautiful Creative Inspiration
I've had my eye on Simply Crochet magazine for quite a while, but couldn't quite justify buying a crochet magazine when I haven't ever attempted the actual craft. Their website is however, quite lovely to peer at and they offer a range of creative projects as well as a peek into the magazine. Luckily to look is for free, so no guilt there. I would love to learn how to crochet and will definitely be adding it to my list of creative musts. Enjoy browsing the site - it's a visual treat.

I hope you Monday is off to a positive start!

Creative Business Tips

23 May 2013

Short and Easy Creative Business Tips

Today's tip is a fun and interesting one, it has been created to allow you to find inspiration that will help you to move your business forward and stay ahead! This is also a tip that can really help you to understand trend within creative business and to shape your innovative thought process. Remember to take part in the previous tips and tasks as you shape your creative business.

We become complacent in our thought process, whereas finding inspiration and ideally changing the way you think about thinking (yip, I just said that) will help you to form interesting and new business ideas, products as well as keep you ahead of competitors.

Be Innovative
What is Innovation: The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. (Source)

This might sound very clinical and straight down the line, so let's explore it from a creative point of view. It can be quite a difficult process, to create unique thoughts and be innovative within your creation process. Innovation doesn't only refer to what we make, but also to how we make it. Innovation can be introduced into your systems and processes, as well as your actual products, services or designs. We are consistently bombarded by information and some of it can inspiration, but you need to filter through things and be inspired, but also unique. Goodness, that sounds like a task and a half! 
Here are a few tips for cultivating innovation within your thought process and in-turn within your business:

Dedicate Time to Research: This doesn't mean that you need to sit with a text book, taking notes and trying to cram potentially useful things into your brain. Instead, it means you need to find forms of inspiration that will allow you to come up with new and innovative ideas. The key idea behind this research is finding different sources and relevant information. We often think that the internet is our only option, but you need to vary your exposure and have a well-rounded range of influences. This can range from books, magazines, trying a new radio station or chatting to your customers. Research is about learning, improving and growing.

Take Time Out: You might feel that in order to be innovative you need to be busy, looking at things, making notes and developing ideas, but taking a break or doing something different can inspire you too. As I mentioned we are consistently bombarded by information and stepping away from the internet, Twitter, even your desk and going for a quiet (technology free) walk can clear the clutter and get those thoughts going. Reading a book, meeting up with someone unusual or just stepping out and experiencing something can all lead to a new level of thinking. I can't stress enough how important it is to step away from the technology even just for 20 minutes, if that is all you can bear. 

Find your Muse: Find the people that inspire you to do more and be more. It might be a blogger or fellow creative business owner, or an empowered woman, it might even be your mother or sister. It doesn't matter who it is or what they do, the main thing is that they inspire you. I have several people who inspire me in different things. Within my work I look towards fellow creatives, in life I look towards friends and family members. Sometimes it even goes as far as thinking about my relatives who survived captivity in the Anglo-Boer War. When I am struggling with something I think - this is nothing compared to their struggles. It keeps me focused and reminds me to stay strong no matter what! Find a variety of people who inspire you.

Keep an Ideas Journal: As ideas form we are often tempted to get going on them straight away, discarding our current to do's and responsibilities. By keeping a journal you can write them down, illustrate them or jot them out without the fear of that award winning idea getting lost. You won't necessarily pursue all your ideas, but ideas tend to create more ideas and once again it is about training your mind to become more innovative.

Set Time Aside: Take some time to follow-up on ideas or concepts. I love the idea of Heather Moore's 'Making Friday', as it allows her to come up with new products or to just to exercise her craft muscles. Find time to just create, draw or craft without the pressure of market preparation or deadlines. 

Start your Ideas Journal and start incorporating some the above concepts into your business and life. I specifically want you to take some time to research, read some blogs of people who inspire you and get working on shaping an innovative thought process. It is something you can actively work on and over time you will really notice how your thoughts and ideas are growing.

My Reading List:
I enjoy reading these blogs to help me feel inspired:

DesignLoveFest: Bri's blog has handy tips, great layouts and she is an all round creative Wonder Woman. I strive to as creative and inspired as she is.

Decor8: Holly inspires me to be crafty and also how to run a well-rounded creative business. She writes from the heart and shares tips and inspiration.

Alt Summit: I always harp on about my dream of attending the summit. Their blog is a treasure trove of handy facts and keeps me focused on my dream.

I also like looking at magazines, the topics they share and their layouts as those can inspire blog content and blog post designs.

I love listening to new things especially TEDTalks, which is widely used, Monocle 24 Radio and interesting music. I also daydream or think of the future of my business as this helps me to come up with ideas I can put in motion now in order to make those dream a reality. Just don't daydream too much and never actually do anything about it - make a start!

Off you go - get thinking and build your own innovation!

Before you dash off - here are some new workshop dates! The other thing you need to know is that I will be coming to Cape Town and Joburg in September and October to run the workshops there. I have also had a request to do the workshops in Pretoria. I am open to doing them wherever there is a need, but I need to know how many people would like to take part and then I can work out if it is possible. Email me to get added to the mailing list, so that you can be the first to know when bookings open, also let me know if you are interested in the beginners or intermediate workshop. You can also get in touch if you would like me to come to your town or city - let me know, let your friend's know too as it will depend on how many people would like me to visit and share the workshops.

New Dates:
Beginners Creative Workshop: 8 June
Intermediate Creative Business Workshop:  22 June

Read more here or book now.

Seven Things: May

21 May 2013

A Few of my Favourite Things this Month

Sorry for not posting yesterday - I like starting the week off with a post, but things are quite busy at the moment, so I just had to keep my head down!

So...we are kicking off the week on Tuesday with a Seven Things post!

1 >  Something Special: As you know last week was Mother's Day. We celebrated at my parent's house and my little sister cooked a really lovely meal! It's always great to wrap something for my mom as she really appreciates the effort plus I got to use my new ohhellofriend tape (more below)!

2 >  My Office: As I mentioned in last week's Organised Spaces post, I have been working on my office space, but it's still very much in progress. This is one of my favourite features and feels just right!

3 >  A New Mug: I am so fussy when it comes to mugs. Silly, considering I don't drink coffee and only have about one hot drink a week! None the less, this beauty caught my eye at Boardmans from a brand called Top Choice and as per usual the packaging was one of the selling points!

4 > More Office: Just a small collection of mostly pink things. This is another feature I quite like as the grouping is pretty and most of the items are vintage or vintage inspired so they live together happily.

5 >  Home: I was randomly taking snaps last week to play around with the A Beautiful Mess app. R7.99 well spent! This snap shows the collection of pictures, that sits on a little window seat area next to our front door and is made of up of mostly gifts so each piece is really special.

6 > ohhellofriend Tape: Danni from ohhellofriend is my creative hero so when I spotted the message tape, she created, I had to have it! The package and wrapping didn't fail to make me super happy and she included a lovely calendar and cute card which are now taped to my office wall!

7 > Creative Workshop: This past Saturday, I hosted an intermediate workshop and it was a really lovely day! This is just a quick snippet of the craft table. More photos to follow soon or check out this post via Sew Long!

Sending luck and love your way, for a really wonderful and productive week!

Creative Business Tips

16 May 2013

Short & Easy Creative Business Tips

I hope you enjoyed the market set-up tips, showcasing your products in the best possible way is very important! Onto more tips today with Creative Business Tip #5! Remember to catch up and to follow on in the series - click here for tips #1, #2, #3 or #4. The tips are created to work in conjunction with one another so keep integrating them into your routine as you build your business.

Press & Features:
Many creative business owners dream of being featured in their favourite publications and they often think that it's a dream that might not come true. However, by working on your press kit and having a strategy you can get featured and start building a press portfolio. Press features are positive as they are free and give you a stamp of approval. It's also a great confidence booster and it means you are on the right track with your creations or service.

Press Kit:
Don't sit back and wait for publications to approach you, be proactive about getting in touch with them and letting them know about your business. Take a professional approach and work on a press kit. One of the main things you will need are good photos to represent your products. If you offer a service you can send photos of your space or process, think of a creative way to show what you offer. I know that some businesses are not at a point where they can afford a professional shoot, but don't let that get you down. I am by no means a professional photographer, but I find that these tips for taking your own photos really help and you can apply it to your blog content too:

Good Natural Light:  Find a space in your office or home, which has good natural light. This might be in the morning or afternoon, but test and see when it's best. I often find 2pm - 4pm to be the best for my shots as the light is still bright, but softer. If you are uncertain take a few shots at different times of the day and then compare them, be aware of shadows and how you arrange items. Develop your eye to inspect your photos and to compare and pick the best from the batch.

A Clean Surface & Background:  I like using a white surface, but colours work well too. White cardboard is a great option and you can set-up a mock infinity curve. Sheets are popular too, but please iron or steam them. A creased background is not an option. Keep shots clear of background clutter. 

Practice: Like most things we become more skilled when we practice. Even basic digital cameras have different settings, practice taking photos and as I mentioned develop your eye to spot what makes a good shot.

Find Inspiration: I am a big believer in inspiration on all fronts and in photography, even when an amateur you can still be inspired by the photos of your favourite bloggers or photographers. Look at their photos and understand what it is that you like - is it the styling, the light, the way it is edited or is well balanced? 

Pic Monkey: Yes, good old Pic Monkey which I love, recommend and refer to so often. Many people think they need Photoshop or a similar program to get going and the answer is yes, when you reach a certain level, you do need it. In the meantime use this free site to resize photos and brighten them up.

Okay...let's chat about what else should be in your press kit?
Essentially, the kit is digital so you can email the photos and facts. Make sure your photos are resized to under 1MB so that you don't clog up any inboxes. Secondly, you need some positive facts about your business to include in the email and perhaps a short bio. Lastly, create a list of potential magazines to email. Look at their websites, Facebook or Twitter accounts for contact details. You will be surprised at what you can find when you actively begin to work on this. Remember last week's tip about your online presence, I suggest including a link to your blog or Facebook business page, but make sure you are presenting the best that you can.

Be Professional:
In all correspondence be professional and polite, but let your personality shine through. Check grammar and spelling and don't be afraid to touch on some positive aspects of your business.

Don't Give Up:
So... you mailed them once, they didn't reply - are you going to give up and retire? NO! Of course not - try again, stay professional and try a different avenue like sending them a Tweet and asking for the correct contact. Keep it polite though, as what you say is a direct reflection on your brand. No ranting or how dare you not reply to me messages! Eventually, if you don't get anywhere with that publication, cross them off you list, move on and make sure you are continually looking at people who you can add to your contact list.

Press Packs:
These can be sample products that you package up creatively and send to editors, magazine staff or bloggers. Make sure your press pack showcases your best, include an introduction note rather than a letter, keep it short and sweet, but factual and personal and remember your all important branding. Make sure you aim to get the right contact person to send the package to and make sure you courier to the magazine's offices. No editor wants to stand in a post office queue to collect a package from a stranger. Keep it creative and include a call to action, where you mention why you are sending it, but again keep it professional and not too demanding. For example - invite them to visit your blog or online shop (don't forget the link on your business card or on the note).

Start your own press kit with product photos, facts and start working on an email to send to publications. Work on a list of contacts - research their details. Keep it personal, don't send a mass email hoping for the best. You can keep the structure of your email and content similar, but send the mails one at a time and personalise them, where possible. Remember this task is about growth and also about evolving as business owner. Make it a goal to work on your press kit, to update it and to finesse your correspondence.

Read More:
Approaching the press and composing emails is something that I offer in my one on one consulting sessions and we work on this during the Intermediate Workshops that I run. Get in touch if you would like help with composing the perfect email or even further guidance on researching publications.

I want to know how things are going?  If you have questions or something to share then please leave a comment or send me an email. Or...if you are a journalist or features writer who has some additional tips - please get in touch!

Market Stand Display Ideas & Tips

14 May 2013

A Few Tips for Showcasing your Products
I got a lovely email from a reader in response to the Creative Business Tip Series...

I am sure this is something that affects more readers than just Alison of Buggaluggs, so I thought I would create a post to outline some market stall set-up ideas, tips and must have items.

It's important to pick a theme or mood for your table. It's key that this is lead by the style of your products as to create a coherent and well pulled together look and feel for shoppers. For example, if your products are vintage inspired, why not use vintage or old fashioned items like saucers, old cups, crates or displays that speak of yesteryear. Take a look at your product range and decide what palette will best suit and highlight your products. It's also good to  select your tablecloth, display details and all the elements that pull your table together to match this theme or feel.

Product Range:
Make sure you have a range of products. It's best to streamline what you can make and then to work on those items. Creatives are often tempted to make as much as possible, but I suggest picking your best products and producing a few of each, that way as one sells you have more to restock with. By focusing your creative efforts you can get a more well rounded selection instead of too many one off items.

Danni from ohhellofriend is really great at building her product ranges and stock. Her stand set-up is also an inspiration! She is a regular on the market and fair scene in the States, she has honed her craft skills with practice and creative planning!

I like to always look at the stalls and stands of others to help me come up with new and interesting ideas. I do, however always say - be inspired, but don't copy even if what you are admiring belongs to that of an overseas seller. It's great to develop your own creative thought process through analysing inspiration.

Key Points to Keep in Mind:
Dimension:  Displays work best when you add different levels and heights to your products. The higher levels at the back and the lower ones in the front. Upside down crates, cake stands and boxes work well for creating dimension and levels.

Variables:  Try to find out where your stand or stall will be. This will help with your planning. Keep in mind that weather conditions change at outdoor markets or lighting in halls and venues can differ for indoor shows. Do you need additional lighting and are you near a plug point? Try to be aware of the unknown variables and plan as best you can to be adaptable and flexible.

Showcase you Products:  The whole reason of the market is that you want to sell your products, therefore the outcome of your stand set-up is to showcase your products in the best possible way. Think of ways that show-off your items. Stands, boxes, card holders...look at things from the point of a potential shopper and make it easy for them to access and view products. If you sell accessories like necklaces are they easy to view and try on? Or if you sell stationery like pens, do you have a tester available? We are all consumers and customers at some point, use the knowledge of what you like or need to assist in your layout planning. 

Packaging & Interesting Displays:  Creatives love beautiful packaging and it definitely helps to sell products. Make sure your packaging or tags are the best that they can be. Group similar products together. You can use various things to hold them. I particularly like how Olive Manna used baking tins, which they sprayed white to hold these stationery items. Their packaging is simple, yet effective. Be creative and scour second hand shops for interesting and unusual display items. Look around your home, many decor items can be great for displaying too. Shopfitting stores often sell second-hand stands or interesting baskets which are great. In Durban I always visit Shelve Master in Umgeni Road, as they have loads of older, unique display pieces. Remember things like egg cups, muffin trays, wire baskets, cute containers and empty drawers are all handy!

Practice: Over time you will know just how to display your products best. Keep at it and always evolve and grow. As you are learning, don't be afraid to set-up a mock market table at home in order to see what will work best.

Here are a few more great examples...
Also... take a look at the Renegade Craft site!

Don't forget to have the name of your business on display as well as your business cards!
Love this fun display with sweets for customers! (Image via The Print Blog)

1 / Crates: Great for stacking and displays
2 / Baskets: These are useful for a collection of similar things. Wire or metal baskets are perfect too.
3 / Cutlery Dividers: Ideal for smaller items and grouped products.
4 / Chalk Board: To display prices or facts.
5 / Cake Stands: They add dimension and levels.

Lastly, keep on researching and be unique. Pinterest is full of ideas and boards from creatives who are also planning for markets and fairs!

Take a look at these...
Jeanee from a brand called Dirty Laundry wrote a downloadable book about craft show set-up.
I particularly enjoyed this Pinterest board from Ginger Kelly Studio.
Here is a post on Six Tips to Become a Craft Show Superstar.
Another post showing tips and inspiration on  a blog called Maiedae.

You too can share your creative business question - just email me and let's all learn together!

Organised Spaces

13 May 2013

A Few of my Favourite Office Spaces
I am currently working on my home office and getting it to be just so! I have always loved my office, but I feel there are some grown-up touches that need doing, so that I can feel assured and confident when inviting clients over. It has to be super creative and true to me and my business of course, but at this stage it's still a work in progress. I love looking all over Pinterest for inspiration and have gathered a lovely batch of office spaces that inspired me to be more organised and dedicated to sorting out my own space! Enjoy these...

12 / 3 / 45 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10
More on my Organised Spaces Pinterest Board.
Happy browsing and happy Monday!

Creative Business Tips

10 May 2013

Short & Easy Creative Business Tips
I hope you have had a creative and productive week! I also hope that you have been working on your creative business dreams! So far we have covered Making a Start, Being Accountable and Streamlining your Brand. Today, I want to chat about your Online Presence! You will notice that although the tips are divided into segments, they all flow together and influence each other. For example, the things on your starting list from Tip #1 should include your branding covered in Tip #3. The best way to make these tips work for you is to follow on from week to week, and to continually reflect back to what we have covered and check up on yourself or make yourself accountable as we discussed in Tip #2. Okay...let's delve into this week's tip and task.

Online Presence:
Being online is a crucial aspect of your marketing strategy and business plan. It isn't about the most expensive or flashy website, but rather about the best that you can afford for your business right now! Budget plays a huge role and is often the excuse used for not being online. The other excuse is that creatives confuse over-sharing on a personal level with sharing and communicating about their business on a positive level. Today, I want to banish those stereotypes and really focus on inspiring you to be online with a purpose. The purpose is of course to share, communicate and market your business.

Why Should my Business be Online?
We live in a world where we no longer rely on phone books or the Yellow Pages to find a service or product. Instead, we Google what we are looking for or we rely on word of mouth and recommendations from friends. Your online presence is there 24/7 for people from around the world to find your product or service. An online world where you don't need a passport to travel across borders or stay up 24 hours a day to market your business. The point is if people don't know about you and they can't find you - then how do you expect to grow and shape a successful business. Imagine having to run around consistently handing out business cards, or making announcements on street corners - it wouldn't work. Being online allows you to communicate about your business, to share new products or ideas and to tell potential customers where you are going to be selling your wares. It also allows for an easy point of contact when someone would like to order something, find out facts or get in touch with you directly.

Analyse Your Budget:
Don't use a lack of budget as an excuse to not be online. Remember Facebook is free and easy to use and it's better than not being online at all. If you already have a blog - is it the best you can possible afford and are you managing your online platforms effectively? Start small and graduate to the next level. It's no use you spend money you don't have on a website, rather use the budget that you do have to invest in the best possible platform for the current stage of your business. Remember to add this to you goal list, save and progress as your business changes and grows. 

Plan your Content:
Planning is of course essential. Spend some time thinking about what to say and how to say it effectively. What sets your business apart, is there an event or special holiday coming up? Think about sharing with a purpose of communication and sharing useful information, not just random updates. 

Building your Online Community:
Don't feel discouraged if you have a small following, rather focus on growing it. Also, please, please,  please remember that Facebook likes don't necessarily equal loyal followers, sales or feet through the door of your business. Rather build a smaller community who have a true interest in your business. Facebook likes are a dime a dozen, but a loyal following is what we are aiming for! Make sure your main online platform is listed on your business card and used in your branding. It could be as simple as having a stamp to add to all your packets, so each time you sell something the shopper walks away with that address. Tell clients and customers that you are online and give them the address so that they can visit the space. People like to know what is happening within brands that they like - so tell them a little about what you share online. It's no use putting a Facebook or Twitter icon on a card or banner if there is no reference to the link or profile name. If you want to use those icons, give them a purpose. It's great knowing you are on Facebook, but what is your page called, how lovely that you are on Twitter, but what is your handle? This is a common mistake - don't make it.

Essential Online Elements:
Regardless of whether you have the best blog in town or just a neat Facebook business page, make sure it has the relevant details on. Contact information, images of what you sell or make, a list of stockists and so on. Give this some thought and make sure you are using that platform to the max! 

Handy Tools:
Pic Monkey allows you to design a Facebook Timeline Cover. You can also read my post on Facebook Timeline and a few thoughts on designing your cover.

This post I wrote has a few tips on free things to do for your business. Good grammar and spelling is a free and professional way to give your brand credibility online.

Analyse your online platforms and update them to be the best that they can be. Does your Facebook page have contact details listed, does it show your work? Are the platforms listed on your business card?

If you have no online presence for your business, I suggest starting a Facebook page for it today. Take your time, do it properly and make sure it has all the right information on.

Further to this task you can start focusing on planning your content for your online platforms.

Read More:
Read the Creative Business section of my blog or book a consulting session if you want me to assist you.  I do these on a one on one basis in Durban or via a Skype call. I also setup business Facebook pages for clients in a professional and affordable way. On top of that don't forget about my creative business workshops - there is a beginners workshop on the 8th of June. Email me for more info.

I want to know how things are going?  If you have questions or something to share then please leave a comment or send me an email. 

Pretty Wrapping on a Budget

08 May 2013

The Thrifty Girls Guide to Wrapping on a Budget
I often get told that it's easy to be creative when you have a big budget, large creative collection or endless supplies. I'd like to disagree with this thought as creativity is a state of mind, rather than a state of money. I am very fortunate that over time I have built up a good collection, but you need not feel down if you don't have one. With Mother's Day on our doorstep, I thought that these handy thoughts would inspire you in your wrapping. The great thing is that these ideas can work for any type of wrapping or gifting.  With some imagination, a small budget and a few supplies, which are easily available you can get your craft on! You will also note, that there is no washi tape, special supplies or expensive things in this post! 

Where to look when wrapping on a budget?
Supermarkets:  I love to check out the stationery aisle of my local Checkers or Pick 'n Pay and every now and again I discover a gem. Look closely, take your time and think of alternate uses for things. An ugly hardcover notebook can be transformed with some TLC or a pen can take on a new life with glitter and modge podge.  Have an open mind and get hunting. The plus point is the items will be undiscovered by most and the price will be cheaper than a hobby supply store.

Magazines:  South Africa can boast with some beautiful publications, which means the spreads are eye-candy deluxe! Cut out cute patterns or items. It's unique, bright and will be one of a kind.  You can mount the magazine paper on some white or coloured paper and write your message on it.

Random Stationery Suppliers:  Give that poky corner shop a chance! Some of my favourite bits and pieces have been collected from stationery suppliers, who don't have the most crafty things in stock, but something of interest instead. Old fashioned paper clips, old photo corners, faded brown paper, all of these things can be converted into something cool and useful.

Fabric or Craft Stores:  This one might make you think - duh, we know that, but we often so focused on what we are looking for that we don't take time to look around and see what inspiration we can find from other crafts. Mosiac tiles might work if stuck on a card or hung as a small glinting mobile, fabric pens can transform plain, boring ribbon and scrapbooking paper has a multitude of uses.  It can all be very tempting, so think ahead and plan what you would like to do so you don't spend those precious pennies on wasted supplies.

South Africa has long had a shortage of really great creative supplies, but that has inspired a movement of DIY and lead to many creative folk having a job in the first place. Local designers make and create wonderful stationery and cards and we are improving every day. Durban and some of the smaller towns still have a shortage of regular supplies, but keep you eyes peeled and you will be surprised what you might find.  

Markers:  Fabric markers can work on ribbon or coloured markers are great for adding a bright message written on brown paper.

Found Objects: An old key works for a house warming gift or a random shell as a bon voyage gift topper. Second hand shops often have odd collections of small, but useful items.

Packaging:  Some novel products come with cute additions. For example the pink crown in the photo came with an Easter egg, I am saving it for a little girl's birthday - to tie onto the gift. 

Old Accessories:  Did that cheap charm bracelet or set of earrings break? Take a look and see what you can salvage. Charms work well when tied to a card or gift with string. 

Paper Clips:  The office staple can be converted to a pretty clip with some ribbon, felt cut-outs or a paper shape. Cheap and really easy to find.  

Brads:  These are traditionally for scrapbooking, but their much bigger cousin the split-pin is sold at Waltons and most other suppliers. To add some colour top it with a lick of nail polish. They work really well for creating dimension or putting together a bunch of keepsakes.

Double-Sided Tape:  No longer for putting up your bathroom mirror, this tape is perfect for giving a card or tag dimension and adding layers of pretty paper on top of one another. It adds instant visual interest.

Paint:  Craft paint is sold quite widely, even at CNA and some hardwares. It's super handy for changing the colour of things. Don't have the right button - paint a white one in the colour of your choice.

Sponges:  Those little white sponges that always pop out of medicine are quite annoying, but you can use them to make great patterns and textures on plain white paper.

Grease-Proof Paper:  You know that wrap you use in the kitchen for baking - well, it doubles as white wrapping paper. Add some patterns with your sponge and paint - DIY, one of a kind gift wrap. 

Magazines:  I have already mentioned these, but they really are beyond useful. The tags in today's post are all cut from magazines. I used an old tag I had spare as a template. See below...

Here are a few more options and ideas:
A white button can be painted and then dipped in glitter. The glitter was super cheap at only R8!

As I mentioned above you can create your own wrapping paper with paint and a roll of grease-proof paper. I used a sponge from my vitamins to create the circles and the tag is just one of the circles cut out and tied with embroidery thread.
More of the grease-proof paper used as plain wrap this time. The tag is painted with the craft paint and I used some fabric scraps to make its little tails. The bambi is a magazine cut-out on some double-sided tape. For unique tag shapes - find an online template and trace it out in a paper of your choice.

Happy wrapping friends! I hope you found this post useful!  Feel free to leave a comment and share your thrifty tricks.

Merissa Cherie

06 May 2013

A Swoon Worthy Blog
You know those blogs which are just so inspiring that you keep flicking through every post and each one just gets better? That's how I felt with the blog of Merissa Cherie!  A girl after my own heart, with a wonderful creative eye and love of packages, this blog is a true inspiration!  She lives in Hawaii and has a paper and stationery penchant to rival my own. Kick off your Monday morning with some delicious images, stationery and packages.  

Happy reading and good luck for your week!

P.S: Want to see even more amazing and pretty things - take a look at my latest pins, I found a treasure trove of colourful stationery and inspiration to pin, pin, pin!

Weekend Reading & Gazing

03 May 2013

A Few Links to Inspire You
Today's inspiration and reading post has a distinct floral and 'vintagy' feel to it. I hope you have some lovely weekend plans! During your couch time...enjoy these pretty links!

Ingthings:  This blog is in Dutch, so through a bit of Google Translator I was able to figure out just what was going on. Ingrid, the author likes unusual things regardless of whether they are pretty, small, imperfect or used.  She takes beautiful photos of the treasure she discovers.  The ideal read for an endless array of colourful photos and retro inspiration.

Bloomsbury & Co:  Swoooon! A site full of home accessories and other delights. I decided to not look into their shipping details.  Best not to know, just in case they do ship to our shores...before I know it I will be checking out with an endless supply of coffee tins!

Pretty Things:  Bloggers love a good freebie and Keren's blog offers an abundance of crafty projects and downloadable digital decor.  This blog suits floral fiends who know their Cath from their Orla.

Cottage Industry:  Pretty Things lead me to this site. They specialise in general beautifying of spaces.  Great inspiration and interiors!

Happy weekend and happy reading!

Creative Business Tips

02 May 2013

Short & Easy Creative Business Tips

We are well into week three of the creative business tip series and today's tip is about creating a brand that works as one. Remember to catch up if you haven't made your start! Click here for Tip #1 or Tip #2.

Streamline your Brand:
Branding is often misunderstood by creatives. It seems like something that might only be important to large brands or corporates.  This is of course - WRONG!  If you have a product, which you make or a creative business of any sort, then you need a brand to support it. This concept might seem simple, but with all the varied platforms that we use ranging from, Facebook to selling at a market or shop, branding often gets lost in the process.  Branding allows for your product to become known under the name of your business and we all deserve recognition for our creative work.

Let's Keep in Mind...
You need one identity to flow throughout your business, on all your platforms.  This means your business card, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest and any additional platforms or elements all need to reflect the same brand in unison.  One name, one logo, one visual interpretation of your business.

You need to invest in branding.  Branding a business and having a professional identity designed can be expensive, but it has to be done.  Good branding will have longevity and last.  By spending money on it, you are actively investing in the future of your business.

Branding can be fun and creative!  It needs to reflect the best of your business through your logo and other visual elements.  There is a wonderful feeling about sealing up an order with all the right elements like a branded sticker and card.

A business card should be number one!  Yes...lots of talking about ONE!  I often visit markets and creatives don't have a business card or have run out.  You card is your first step in being perceived as a professional.  Don't head out into the world without one.

I don't have any coherent branding - what now?
Decide on the name of your business, if you haven't already.  You can't have a brand without a name.

Gather inspiration and create a mood board or Pinterest board to keep your ideas together. This will help you to see a common link. Finding brands that inspire you, is also key, but remember to use them as inspiration rather than directly imitating their concept.

Find a designer.  This is easier said than done.  You need a designer who understands creative businesses, aesthetics as well as how to create a good, well rounded identity flowing into your brand.  Ask to see their work and ask for a quote and what packages they can offer.  If this all seems a bit daunting - email me, I help my clients to get all this done!

If it's too expensive - keep looking or start saving.  Once again as I said this is an investment.  Add it to your list discussed in Tip #1.  Alternatively, start simple - create something basic, using a creative font, but make sure it is legible.  Begin your saving and evolve to the next stage of hiring a designer or creative consultant like me.

Current Task:
Assess your branding.  Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have one consistent brand reflected across the various platforms that I use?
Do I have a business card with all the relevant details on it?
How can I improve my branding?

Remember:  You need to take action.  The task will only work for you if you actively make a change, invest or focus on what is needed!

Read More:
Read the Creative Business section of my blog or book a consulting session if you want me to assist you.  I do these one on one in Durban or via a Skype call.

I want to know how things are going?  If you have questions or something to share then please leave a comment or send me an email.