Pretty in Pink Kitchen Tea

30 January 2014

One of the main reasons for my December Cape Town trip was to celebrate with my best friend Sam - as it was her kitchen tea, hen's party and wedding. As a bridesmaid it was part of my duty to work on the creative elements for the 'Pretty in Pink' (our favourite colour) themed party. You might spot a few of my usual favourites - namely the Consol jars, books and doilies which I often incorporate in my workshop decor. I packed a box and took it along in order to create the perfect scene for our bride. It was such fun arranging the flowers and using something a bit different. My favourite feature was the Steri Stumpie ice bucket - a girl can't live on champagne alone. It was an honour to celebrate with Sam and work with the other bridesmaids to create the day. We had a few stressful moments, plenty of happy moments and several moments on high chairs hanging lanterns from the ceiling (all worth it). We kept the rest of the decor quite simple with balloons and lanterns dotted around the garden, as well as picnic blankets beneath the trees. The menu of quiche, salad and lots of sweet things went down a treat. 

DIY with Skinny laMinx

28 January 2014

Getting Crafty with Up in the Air

I recently had some fun with the lovely Up in the Air fabric from the Up, Up and Away range by Skinny laMinx for Cloud9 Fabrics. As you know I am a HUGE fan of Heather's creativity and I was inspired by her 'Making Friday' to create a few of my own projects to share with you. 
This mood board idea was super easy. I only needed a few pins, scissors, a sheet of polystyrene and ribbon. I cut the fabric into a square and wrapped it around the sheet - much like wrapping a gift, but I used the pins to secure it tightly to the back. It's a fun and quick DIY to add a bold print to a room or to match other decor elements like cushions. I hope to use this one somewhere near our front door for quick notes, reminders & coupons or important receipts.

With all the snail mail correspondence I have been taking part in lately, I have been searching for an appropriate and creative way to showcase South Africa. Sadly, many store bought postcards don't depict our creative side. What better way could there be to share a bit of SA with my faraway friends than a fabric Skinny laMinx envelope. This project was once again ridiculously easy. I unglued a paper envelope and pinned it to the fabric and just cut around it. I then folded it and ironed it into place. I avoid sewing where I can as my skills leave much to be desired, but if you are skilled with a needle and thread this can take on so many more dimensions. I can now proudly send off something with my packages that is quirky and creative.
I often send small papery elements and buttons with letters and often search for cute or pretty packets to send them in. I decided to create this little pouch bag. I used my trusty glue gun to secure the back and bottom and added an array of bright cards and buttons to send off to a very special friend.
These clips were a treat to make and all I needed were buttons to cover which I found at a craft shop and two bobby pins plus a bit of glue. I covered the buttons and made a little set and once done I fitted the clips through the button hole on the back and added a little bit of glue to ensure they were sturdy. During my December trip to Cape Town I picked up a few postcards from the Skinny laMinx shop, I added a message and the clips to the cards and wrapped them in some tissue paper - which is also from the shop. This is a small, crafty and affordable gift with a personal touch.
This year I have made a point of going back to books and not only reading via the Kindle app. What I love most about papery books is the addition of a bookmark. I created this one with a bit of cardboard, string, thread, double sided tape and the fabric. The cardboard served as a base which I added the fabric to. Once again an easy and inexpensive project which took me about 20 minutes including the tassel.

I hope these easy projects inspire you to spend a few minutes getting creative. I found that using an iconic designer's fabric like that of Skinny laMinx added not only to the quality of my projects, but also to the value. Heather reflects the best in local design and what better way to share it than through craft!

You can view more Skinny laMinx fabrics and products via the site or view the Skinny laMinx and Cloud9 Fabrics here.

Meet Free Monday #6

27 January 2014

27th January: A Day at HQ
I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Last week was quite a challenging one. It started off fairly well, but as far as staying on top of things it ended in a muddled heap. Those of you who follow me on Twitter would have seen my updates about our power failure which started on Tuesday. The power came on again for a few brief hours, but after that it stayed off for days despite help from the Corporation. To make a very long story short - it turned out that there was an electrical fault in our home. It was so frustrating. Luckily, on Saturday it finally got fixed and we were back in business. What did I learn from last week? Appreciate electricity when you have it! Onward and upward for this week. Today's post picture also had to be snapped with my iPad as my camera is flat as expected! Okay... time to get organised.

The Working Week: 
Catching-up is the name of the game this week. Most of last week's goals were not reached as I was too busy doing damage control and speaking on the phone to get the problem sorted out. I am still working on a few blogs  and I have several consulting sessions booked this week. I can't wait to meet a bunch of new creatives and hear more about their challenges. I have also worked on some new themed blog posts which will be great to share with you. This week I need to do the final date planning for the next set of workshops.

Things I'm excited about this week:
My office clean-out is very close to being finished! It has taken a ridiculous amount of time, but secretly I enjoyed it! Everything is organised to the max (and labelled of course). Our Creative Coffee Council is also meeting this week and I'm excited to catch up with the ladies as I haven't seen them in months. Lastly, I'm in the process of organising a fun thrift sale - watch this space.

What will challenge me this week?
Staying focused and working systematically through my to do list in order to keep stress at bay. Last week's challenges taught me that I can't be in control 24/7, but I can adapt my outlook.

Personal Thoughts:
In last week's Meet Free Monday post I mentioned my Typo planner - I caved and started using it. So far I'm loving it! I'm still working on my personal goals and I need to focus on exercise this and including it in my list of priorities.

How is your week looking?

P.S.: I'm still working on what to share in these posts. Let me know if there are specific things / details you would like to know more about.

A Check List for Creatives: Is 2014 your Year?

22 January 2014

A few things to work on before you quit your full-time job
I often meet creatives who are juggling full-time jobs with their real passion for creating or crafting. Having been in the same situation just a few years ago – I can empathise and relate. It’s by no means an easy task and on top of it all many of you are still fulfilling your other roles of wife or mother. Many creatives dream of a day when they can leave their full-time corporate job and lead a life as a creative business owner. In today’s post I share a few things to be aware of as you plan your escape. At the end of the post there’s also a consulting session special.

Living out your dream and being your own boss is the goal, but there are some crucial elements that can’t be overlooked. Focus on them with determination, rather than treating them as reasons to not fulfil your dreams. 

*Please note I’m by no means saying you should march into your boss’s office and shout ‘I QUIT because Nadia said this is MY YEAR’, but rather I am sharing some check points that you can implement so that you can succeed and establish the business of your dreams.

Start Saving:
Build up some ‘capital’ for your business. When you leave full-time employment there might be several months where your income is very little as you build your business to full capacity. It will also allow you to feel more secure in your decision.

Start Planning:
What’s the vision for your business and how can your current products / services range grow? Start working on plans, ideas and product or services to bulk up your offering. 

Get Help:
Build your business to the best level you can, but get help where needed. For example assistance with financial planning or a consulting session here and there. This will help you to understand what needs work, where your strengths lie and how you can improve.

Envision your Future:
What do you envision for the rest of you life or at least for several years from now? Think ahead and understand how you can achieve that vision of success.

Keep a Record:
Keep track of everything your business is earning as well as how you are spending that money. Many creatives use money from their full-time salary to buy stock or materials and when their sale earnings come in they treat those as pure profit. Be sure to understand what your business is earning. 

Find Support:
Very often people won’t understand why you’re leaving a comfortable job, but don’t let them get you down. Find someone in your life who understands the challenges of being a creative business owner. For example a few of us in Durban have a ‘Creative Coffee Council’ we meet and chat through our unique problems and we support one another.

Work on a Marketing Plan:
You have to get your business out there and share it with the world. Start implementing clever and affordable ways in which you can share your products or services in order to generate more income.

Do your Research:
Is your product trend driven and how will you evolve as trends change? Don’t let this scare you off, but be aware of what your next steps are.

Be Patient:
The most difficult of all! Bide your time and keep working at it. Put goals in place in order to manage your time. Build up your business and leave your full-time job when you are most ready. I can’t say leave when you are comfortable as that might never happen. There are benefits to earning a monthly salary, but having your own business out ways it!

Be Realistic:
Oh dear – realism, the killer of dreams! To a certain extent you have include it in order to understand how your business earns and works. For example if you rent a space for your business – how much should your be earning daily to afford it? When I first took on my business full-time I found myself being hit with a big dose of reality, but I managed to deal with it. I want to help you deal with it too and that is why I have created this post.

Time is Money:
Your time is worth a certain amount of money and that needs to be factored into pricing. This is something many creatives really battle with – book a consulting session with me and we can chat through your costings.

Take the Leap:
When you feel that you have sufficiently done all you can – a point will come when you have to make that huge, scary leap! Don’t panic, focus on what you have planned and worked on already. Your hard work will pay off.

Tough Facts:
  • Having your own business and being your own boss is the most difficult job you will ever have. 
  • Your days will include admin, working with clients and several financial elements – not only being creative and making pretty things.
  • Routine is essential. At first you might feel as if you have hours and hours of free time stretched out in front of you, but plan your time and check in with yourself. You technically need to be doing something each day that earns money. This will be different for various products or types of business, but don’t fool yourself by feeling busy when in fact you are not doing relevant business tasks.
To kick off the year I am offering a special consulting deal. Email me this week to book your session and you will receive a discount:
  • One on one sessions will be R275 (R100 discount) for two hours.
  • Skype / Facetime sessions will be R200 (R100 discount) for two hours.
The deal is only valid if you book and pay for your session this week. Your session, however does not have to take place this week. *Deal open until close of business on Friday (24 Jan).

Meet Fee Monday #5

20 January 2014

20th January: A Day at HQ

It's time for the first 'Meet Free Monday' of 2014. There's no denying that the weekend is over and although I don't mind a new week - I do feel that this year is already going too fast. I'm still trying to slowly ease into a new routine and continued work on my 'Summer Purge'. I have to juggle it between life and work. It's taking so much longer than I expected. My parents moved late last year and all the 'memories' I had in storage in our childhood home had to be packed up and shipped out... to my office. It hasn't been an easy task to look through memories, toys and odd things which I seem to have kept from the age of four. Anyway, I'm getting there - slowly, but surely. I hope you will enjoy today's post - it really helps me to gather my thoughts with a new week ahead. The posts also help me to share more personal thoughts which can be often be difficult.

This Working Week: 
This week I aim to continue working on a new and improved routine. I'm hoping to finish the blogs of two lovely ladies, plan the next batch of workshops and continue to brainstorm ideas for 2014. There are a few emails I must get down to writing - in fact I should go and do them right now.

Things I'm excited about this week:
I'm really looking forward to finishing my office project and working in a tidy, organised environment. At the moment it's so lovely to be at home, cook dinner and just get back to a slightly less hectic lifestyle. The idea of it excites me - you can laugh if you like.

What will challenge me this week?
I don't want to go on and on about it, but the organising and tidying is a challenge. I do enjoy it, but I just want to complete it. 

Personal Thoughts:
On the personal front I need to focus on continuing to live out my proposed life changes. I'm battling with the 'not the comparing one'. From a health point of view I got back to running last week and I'm really focusing on eating at the right times of the day. I have also put personal projects on hold - like writing in my new Typo planner (it's similar to a Filofax) and any postal replies. These will be my reward once I finish the organising.

The week at a glance:
I hope it will be a calm work week. I'm holding back slightly on the work front to get my head straight before I take on too much. Last year really taught me to take it a bit slower. It should be a positive week with just enough work to challenge me rather than cause excessive stress.

What do you have planned this week?

The Best of 2013

17 January 2014

With 2013 truly behind us - I thought it would be a good idea to round-up a few of the best posts that graced the blog. As I've mentioned before working on good original content is no easy task and each post was created with love. I hope you spot a few of your favourites or discover something new. Let's take a look... (I have linked to all the posts below - just click on the pink words)

2013 was an exciting year! One of the highlights was the launch of my Creative Business Workshops which started last year February. See the details and post here.

I went London and goodness me what an amazing adventure that was! I invested in my Cambridge Satchel which I still love. I also met Orla Kiely at her London Fashion Week Presentation - a personal highlight. During this time there were some great and informative guest posts about blogging and business from Roxy and Fathima.

Decorex invited me to speak at the event and I used my twenty minute slot to share a list of free things you can do for your business. I was so nervous the first day, but it got better and better.

I shared one of my favourite pin boards (I have a few) and loved showing you the trinkets and details I keep on it. I also shared my quick and easy washi tape DIY pin board.

In June I hosted the Etsy Craft Party. It was a wonderful, crafty night and it was an honour to bring some Etsy inspired fun to South Africa.

Filofaxes came to my attention via Instagram and I shared an inspiration post showing a few of my favourites. This post doubled my blog traffic in a month - thanks to traffic via Pinterest. It was amazing to see how a pin could really pull in new readers.

The six part Creative Business tip series was another winner. I loved compiling it and it really seemed to be of worth to business owners. I already have a few great series planned for this year.

Fair Lady magazine popped in for a visit and photographed my office for a feature. There were a few other press features too.

I took part in some fun package swaps and met new friends via 'penpalling'. This was really a personal highlight as I never quite realised how much I enjoyed wrapping and putting parcels together. My love for stationery only grew and I decided to share my DIY stationery tray with you.

I received a special request for a post on market display ideas. I also shared my essentials when packing for a market and a few tips on seasonal product prep.

I felt the need to share a personal post about the truth behind being a business owner. I loved the fact that this post hit home for many other ladies who felt the same.

I rounded-up a few business tips from other bloggers. It was a handy list with some practical examples too. The post about what to share on social media was another useful one.

Thank you for reading my blog in 2013 and thanks for the support and comments. Happy reading and have an amazing weekend!

Paperless Post

15 January 2014

A Fun Way to Spread Cheer

I'm a big Kate Spade fan. I was actually after their latest set of paper clips and discovered Paperless Post - a company who specialise in online invitations, cards and communication. The exciting thing is the Kate Spade range of online cards, which are available to send. This pretty concept sure beats e-cards in the traditional sense. It's fairly easy to use and you can select a range of things from stamps through to fonts. I sent one to a friend (you can see the example here) and found the site quite user friendly. Once you have signed up you are awarded 25 coins to use ($5) for free. Certain edits are worth a certain amount of coins. For example I wanted a different stamp for my envelope which cost 1 coin. I will most certainly be using them sparingly. You can purchase more coins should you wish and there are so many amazing things to edit including an array of envelopes! The great thing is there are freebies too, but not in the Kate Spade range. This is an awesome site to use for that special touch or a fabulous celebration. Be sure to take a look at Oscar de la Renta and Jonathan Adler too.

Joburg Workshops 2013

13 January 2014

All the Pretty Details
As you might know or recall late last year I hosted my Creative Business Workshops in Joburg for the first time. They went wonderfully and exceeded my expectations. It was also a personal challenge that I undertook as I had not taught the workshops outside of Durban. The biggest thing that weighed on my mind was the fact that I had to drive around Joburg on my own - something I had never done before. I am happy to report that all worked out perfectly and I was proud of myself (and a bit amazed too). Prepare for a photo overload - I have so many details I want to share with you.

The next batch of workshops will take place in Durban, followed by Cape Town. Email me if you wish to be added to the waiting list.

The workshop was attended and photographed by the talented Mariaan of MStudio - a creative I really admire. Heaps of other equally wonderful ladies attended the three workshops and I truly enjoyed getting to know them and learning more about their personal business needs.

I really enjoyed the challenge of arranging the flowers. I usually have a sponsor who takes care of this or my very talented mom - Ellen who handles this aspect, but this time round it was my responsibility.
Goodies galore for all the lovely ladies in attendance.

Concentration faces!

A few incredible sponsors helped to make the workshops exceptional through their sponsored items.

I would like to thank:
Anna Louise Sleepwear: For four sets of beautiful PJ's.
Feral Goods:  Simone supplied the cutest kitty dish which went home with a fellow cat lover.

Typo: Each attendee received a bright folder to keep their ideas together. A few of the decor items also came from Typo.

Love Letter Stationery: One of my favourite suppliers who always takes care of all the workshop pencils which allow attendees to capture their ideas.

Consol: I am so grateful to have this wonderful local business behind me. They kindly supplied Grip & Go drinking bottles, jars for flowers and decor, plus a Solar Jar as a giveaway prize.

Washi Bug: Jaime and team are always ready to help. Thank you for the goodie bag tapes and the MT tape giveaway.

In Good Company: As if their amazing shops are not enough - the wonderful ladies at In Good Co supplied several of the decor items including the small drawers, cake stands and bell jars.

Elephantshoe: I am in love with this business. Thank you so much for the goodie bags and the straws.

M Studio: For capturing the day and the exciting and delightfully wrapped giveaway items.

MillaMae: One lucky attendee walked away with a 2014 diary, new notebook and wrapping goodies - all thanks to these lovely ladies.

Happiness Is: My creative partner and friend is always so happy to help. Each attendee received a calendar and postcard from Fathima.

Other items included where notebooks, name tag stickers and a few other giveaways - such as an issue of Molliemakes and Frankie. Almost everyone was able to win something.
Another thanks to the blogs who featured the workshops:

So... don't forget to email me if you wish to be added to the mailing list and to find out about the next round of workshops.

My 2014 Personal Life Changes

07 January 2014

I think I might sound and feel like the rest of you at this point in the new year. 2013 and my holiday flew by in a crazy flash. It almost feels as if it never happened and I can no longer transfer 'to do' list items into the 'next year' pile because here we are in the NEXT YEAR! Yikes! This year the blog turns five years old. How exciting and what a reminder of how time flies. 

Technically, I am taking this week off too as I am in dire need of a spring clean or shall I say summer / new year purge! I love tidying and organising (not cleaning) and I am excited to delve into cupboards, throw out, donate and rearrange. I feel as if 2014 really needs to be a different year, one in which I make all the positive changes needed. I will feel more prepared with a clean home and office to back me up. I believe in resolutions, but I like to work on them from an attitude change point of view. Some of this year's changes and life updates include:

Balance: Work takes over at times (usually always) and some parts of my life suffer especially when it comes to healthy meals and exercise. Two things I actually really enjoy. This year I have to kick my own butt out the door and away from the computer and ever increasing emails and go for a walk or run more often. I also really need to look after my health - mental and physical.

Better Bedtimes: I am quite good at not taking my work to bed in the physical sense. It's a laptop free zone, but that doesn't mean my brain listens to that rule. It just keeps ticking and it gets worse the later it gets. This year I have to dedicate certain evenings to work and others to an early night's rest. There will be several things that contribute to this - for example balancing my workload, saying no to certain things and delegating. Sounds easy, but the reality is slightly more challenging.

Entertain More: Once I get in the work zone all else stands on the sidelines (as mentioned). This year I want to use some of the beautiful crockery, little bowls, pretty cups and kitchen paraphernalia that I own. I also have to remind myself that a simple meal cooked with love is good enough. I am often put off as I think my cooking and entertaining skills are not 'Martha Stewartish' enough. Letting go of silly pressures and inviting people in even if they get macaroni cheese for dins (and wine of course) has to become a way of life. (*Disclaimer - if you get invited you are not allowed to judge the dust on top of the TV or the affordable plonk on offer).

Less Worrying: I can't say stop worrying all together as I know that won't happen, but I am working on banishing stupid worries. I am making sure when they pop up that I just refuse to succumbed to them. This is a tough one.

Take Breaks: When I go on holiday I often map out a myriad of activities, meeting people, shopping, seeing things and so on. This year I want to book short getaways where there is nothing to do except read and relax. I don't need much - just two nights away from the humdrum and technology.

Fulfill Promises: How often do we say things like 'we must do dinner /coffee / Skype"? How often do we not get round to planning that dinner or making that call. The other thing we do is commit time to people who are not as invested in us as we are in them. My aim is to not say things that I don't intend or want to fulfill. If I say something regarding plans or taking care of something - I want to really mean it and commit to it. Sometimes all you need is a thirty minute coffee break or a short call. I hope by only committing to people that I want to invest my time in - will mean that I can have fewer things to attend to, but more time for the people who really matter.

Spend Less Money: I am not a splurger, okay sometimes I am (always when it comes to stationery). I have trained myself to be quite good at asking myself a range of questions before I buy something. The other thing I have learnt is to enjoy using items - even the expensive ones. I am not one to keep soaps and bubble bath for twenty years! None the less, I have some really wonderful material possessions for which I am truly grateful. Besides a few things here and there I don't actually lack anything. I want to build more savings, keep my money in the bank and stick to using and finishing items before another one is bought. I want my inner thrifter to shine! (Don't worry everyone will still get nice birthday pressies, but some might be handmade.)

Don't Compare: There will always be someone with more than me... a bigger house, more money, nicer legs, glossier hair, awesome job etc. I want to ensure I am grateful for all I do have and enjoy it without the pressures of the next best thing. My circumstances are different to yours, my car might be your worst nightmare and my home might be humble, but I need to be grateful, regardless. We are all really good at comparing and complaining, let's remember how blessed we are and stop thinking about the next thing that we think will make us happy. Let's live life and be happy right now... today!

Those are a few of the main things I want to work on this year - on a personal level. Do any of these sound like changes you want to make or do you have other things that you are committing your energy to? I would love to hear more as I am sure we can inspire one another to really stick to them.

*Picture from Cuptakes