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Oh My! Maker's Retreat, Hollyhock, Cortes IslandThis month a small band of movement makers gathered at Hollyhock for a week of sharing why making matters and to lay the foundation for community gatherings at our Maker’s Retreat. There were no schedules or panels of speakers and yet our days were filled to the top with story telling and skill sharing set against the magical backdrop of Cortes Island and the handmade Hollyhock campus. We all took turns as leaders, teachers, students, and makers of our own experience to co-create the retreat with a loose structure based on the transformative PYE Creative Community model.  Our week together proved that when you do away with the swag, sponsors, and trappings of what you ‘should’ do at an event and break the rules creatively it is easy to get down to the real work of making community together. Without all the distractions simple goodness is abundant and connections unfold with grace. We’ll be sharing stories from our retreat and ways you can be part of making the next October gathering after everyone has had a chance to settle back into our lives and reflect on the adventure. Here are just a few snapshots of moments from our week of community and creativity with more to come!

Oh My! Maker's Retreat, Hollyhock, Cortes Island

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Oh My! Maker's Retreat, Hollyhock, Cortes Island

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Even though we were a small group each of us brought exactly what was needed for our time together: Christina, Arianne and Karen led us in conversations about business, ethics, community and making a living by breaking the rules while Genevieve took us on a wonder walk to collect inspiration in nature, showed us how to mix wool in primary colours, and dye our own yarns. Tara helped us make a glorious mess with papier mache and an evening calligraphy session involving wine, lots of laughter, and lovely lettering. Rob was our resident Renaissance man fitting in meditation, yoga, ocean swimming and a hot tub all before breakfast then surprising us all with his generous offering of his many stories, skills and spells.

Woven in through our days were visits from children, a presenters evening where we got creative with other Hollyhock participants + staff, and lots of time for quiet companionship and island adventures (including a trip to the dump and Free Store). Each of us took turns teaching and being taught which was everything we’ve talked about creating for OMHG over the last four years, not only did it work but we could have used more time together! Uncertainty and unscheduling can be stressful for some people but the most wonderful thing is that when you make space for goodness it creates a container big enough to fill up with what matters most at the time. Next year we’ll take what we learned from our first event to make it more accessible and gather an even more diverse group of us to continue developing our open community led gatherings and a movement that reminds us we already have everything we need to make meaningful connected lives and kinder more creative communities.

Thank you to Janine of Uppercase Magazine for supporting our event and sending magazines and beautiful notebook sets for collecting our thoughts and to Colleen Attara for sending us a box packed full of her salvaged words to use in our collage night.

Hooray for making our own agendas, deciding our own enough & crafting a movement of simple goodness with our heads, hearts, and hands! Be sure to mark your calendars, our next Hollyhock gathering is October 9-13 2015, we’ll be working on it in our community starting now and are planning to bring our family friendly hands-on cooperative gatherings to other areas soon, where should we visit next? 

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Andsmile Interview - Craft is in my blood

The Getting To Know series features interviews with makers, artists, designers and small business owners at all different stages of their careers. I’m always interested in how other adventurers in the world of creative entrepreneurship run their businesses, get inspired and how they got started in the first place.

Like quirky illustrations? Think Wes Anderson is a genius? In need of some visual inspiration? Then you will love Andsmile! Viktorija Semjonova, the super-talented artist behind the brand, is a must-follow on Instagram and deserves piles of Etsy hearts. Let’s get to know her:

Victorija of Andsmile

Hi Viktorija! To start with, I’d love to know a little bit about you and your business.

My name is Viktorija and I’m the person behind Andsmile. I’m a Latvia-born and London-based illustrator and maker. AndSmile is a quirky brand, specialising in novelty brooches and paper goods (prints & postcards), and also offers custom illustration services.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an illustrator? 

Since I was a small child, all I wanted to do was draw, make stuff and imagine things. But at the age of 14, I was reading a book by one of my favourite authors, E.T.A Hoffmann, and saw the most beautiful illustration. It moved me so deeply that all I could think about was that I wanted to become an illustrator.

Andsmile Brooches

What’s the story behind the name “Andsmile”?

I find it very hard to express myself in words and using my name for a brand was out of question (it’s too complicated and people rarely remember it) so the only idea I had was that I wanted to make people happy, to make them smile when they would see quirky brooches and colourful drawings, so hence the name.

Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations and products?

A lot of my illustrations are based on popular culture – Wes Anderson films, some tv shows, artists and musicians. Also, a big part of my work features my imaginary friends – like Party Fox or Panda with balloons, they all have stories, hobbies, families and their own lives.

Andsmile Watercolour

Do you have a favourite medium to work with?

Watercolour is my absolute favourite! It’s so much fun and a little unpredictable.

Andsmile Frida Brooch

What’s your best-selling item? Do you have a favourite?

My absolute best-selling item is the Frida brooch. She’s travelled all over the world! My favourite item is always the one I am working on, I get very excited about current work.

What does your typical work day look like?

My work day starts with a cup of delicious, gorgeous coffee, while I write down my to do list for the day. Then I pack orders, reply to emails, do a post office run and get busy with commissioned work, wholesale orders, working on new products or whatever else needs to be done that day. Plus some social media squeezed in between (I am not very strict with planning though).

Andsmile Studio

What do you love about running your own business?

The freedom to say no. The opportunity to stay true to yourself and your values.

What do you find the hardest?

Taking time off. There is always another thing which needs tweaking, something else which needs to be done, another email to be answered…

Andsmile Sketchbook

How do you feel about social media? Do you have a preferred platform?

I am an instagram addict, I love this visual platform so much! It’s a perfect place to share and to meet people. I really enjoy using all social media outlets but instagram in particular. Probably because so much of my time is spent working alone in the studio, I enjoy it even more and treasure the opportunity to connect with like minded people!

Your products can be found in online and brick & mortar shops around the world. Do you have any tips for getting started in wholesale?

My main tip would be to make sure your pricing works, that you are getting your fair share and making money and that your fabulous stockists are getting a good percentage for all their hard work.

Andsmile Shrink Plastic

Do you have any secrets to balancing business and life while working from home?

Absolutely not! I really would love to but I find it very hard. However, I am working on improving my life/work balance. This year I am taking at least one day off a week and trying to treat my body to occasional exercise, both of those things boost creativity, help me to think more clearly and be more productive.

What would your perfect day off look like?

Waking up to a cup of coffee and freshly baked cinnamon roll, then take a forest or beach walk/cycle, visit an exhibition/book/stationery shop or have a market stroll, warm food, a nice magazine/book/film and some snuggles with my partner. So pretty much all things nice in one day please!

Andsmile Motivational Prints

If you could give someone just starting out on their creative business journey some advice, what would you say?

I wish I was in a position to give someone advice but I feel that I’m in the very beginning of this creative journey myself! But if I could give advice to myself in the past, I would say – do what you love, believe in yourself and stay positive, keep going no matter what, and (very important) be nice to people!

Treat Yourself To Some Andsmile

Andsmile Shop

Connect With Viktorija

Instagram – @andsmilestudio

Twitter – @andsmilestudio

Facebook – Victorija’s Illustration

Blog – Andsmile Blog

Pinterest – Andsmile Studio

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Oh My! MakerMail 2014 Gifting Edition

We’ve all been there: staring at the collection of knickknacks in the store, trying to find the perfect little gift for a friend or loved one. Finding a gift with a personal touch is difficult, especially in a marketplace full of things designed with profit first in mind. Enter MakerMail: a delightful new way to connect you with Makers across the globe via sweet moments and beautiful handmade objects. Each delivery comes straight from its Maker with a handwritten note, to create a precious and singular connection.

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MakerMail is a collaborative project entirely created by the OMHG community of makers. We took an idea thrown around at an #OMHG chat and turned it into a beautifully-crafted movement directly connecting makers to buyers. Each item is handmade with love & shipped from the Maker to you, a series of sweet little goodies arriving to brighten your day & connect you with our community! We want your MakerMail to feel like a gift from a dear friend, so each package comes with a personal handwritten note.

There are two lovely options to choose from for the 2014 Gifting Edition:

Sign up for Letter Mail and 3 of our makers will send 3 flat mailers of pretty little paper goods, like prints and notecards, to your recipient (or you!).

Sign up for Packages and 3 of our makers will send beautiful handmade objects, wrapped for giving, right to your mailbox.

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2014 Gifting Edition Makers

Your MakerMail products will be chosen at random for a sweet surprise at your door! More on our makers & how MakerMail works here

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MakerMail packages ship November 19th with plenty of time for seasonal giving. Signups close November 10th and we have limited numbers of letter mail and packages available. Click the buttons below to choose your MakerMail and join our movement of moments.

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