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  1. *shared stories* (36): Emelie Rota and Denise Duffield-Thomas


    Today’s *shared stories* come from coaches Emelie Rota and Denise Duffield-Thomas


    Emelie Rota

    I know what it’s like in the darkness. It’s lonely even in a crowd. It’s terrifying and your universe of fear feels vast and mariana-trench deep.  It’s how I felt not long ago.  I went to bed at night with nightmares of the work ahead, dreading the morning and hitting snooze snooze snooze until I couldn’t avoid my life anymore.  Then… one day I woke up.

    I realized that maybe [just maybe] I am the patchwork that can help piece together the crazy quilt of our broken economy.  Just maybe, I can be the change.

    Thanks to Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Crush It!, I came up with a seedling of an idea in February of this year.  I hatched it on my blog, The idea was new, a little tiny spark that set down in my creative garden and ruminated in the rain of my depression… the soil needed to be turned and tilled and infused with nutrients that I didn’t yet possess.  But the seed was patient. Strong. Fertile. It started with a dream of empowerment… I envisioned a community of unique women entrepreneurs who would find their stories in mine; who would find illumination and inspiration on the often rocky path of change. I wanted to be a beacon of truth, a breakwater to cull the storm.

    First, I had to fertilize and cultivate. Learn from the master gardeners of online marketing. I had to balance the pH of my message and tone down the acidity of my disgust with corporate greed.  I had to embody myself. Distill my story. And then reflect that inner essence out into the world so that my tribe, my beautifully symbiotic soul-sister clientele could find me amid the chaos.  I got an education. I found my inner fire. I lit myself up.

    And then I quit my job.

    Now, the seedling of Revellish has roots AND wings… it’s the makings of a new-old growth forest. She is strong and sturdy, blossoming and attracting the right bees to pollinate my future. My dream, Revellish, has morphed into a place where holistic brands are fostered and grown. I’m patching the holes in our economic model by helping build brazen, brave, authentic women-owned businesses that are empowered to thrive. I’ve learned what will grow in my soil conditions and am flexible with what I plant. I want a vibrant garden.

    I want a beautiful life.  And now, it’s mine for the picking.  I’ve harvested an amazing career out of the ashes of who I was.  And there is no reason you cannot do the same. It is possible for anyone to wake up one morning and choose to change the world.  And then do it.  And thrive.

    Come and play in my garden. It’s humming drumming thrumming with life and you are welcome there anytime.

    [Images by Karen Christensen. Find out more about Emelie and how she helps light up brands on her website]


    Denise Duffield-Thomas

    I was a born entrepreneur but it doesn’t mean I was naturally good at it.

    When I was 9, I had a fluoro bracelet business. The trouble was that I sold them for the same price as the cost of my materials which meant a zero profit. When my school teacher pointed that out, I felt ashamed, whereas before I was just thrilled by the pure joy of selling and making my own money.

    That year my mum gave me an electric typewriter for Christmas and it was the best present ever! After dabbling with writing newsletters and short-stories, I went into the forgery business, selling ‘personally signed’ letters from Kylie Minogue for $5 a piece by claiming she was my cousin.

    At twelve, I organised a club for my friends, inspired by the Baby Sitters Club, but we called it ‘The Cool Kids Club’ (we even had a song!). We worked on a random variety of projects that we never got around to finishing, like selling horse manure and organising garage sales. I’m great at the ideas, less on the follow up and eventually my mum made us throw out everything we had accumulated. Manure included.

    In my teens, I came up with this concept of ‘being brave’ with my close girlfriends. We encouraged each other to get involved in ‘scary’ school projects like the debate team or running for school council. We watched Oprah together and talked about our dreams. It was my first ‘mastermind’ experience.

    Undoubtedly from a young age I exhibited clear signs of being a creative entrepreneur, a dynamic life coach (although I didn’t know that was even a job) and an enthusiastic (though occasionally unethical) writer and communicator.  

    These are all the things I do professionally now, but why on earth did I spend my twenties denying my natural talents and doing everything from waitressing to event management – a total of over 50 random and often very unfulfilling jobs?

    Why does anyone waste time living small just to pay the bills?

    Don’t tell me you don’t know what you’re ‘meant to be’. I’ll bet there were just as clear signs in your childhood as there were in mine.

    When I left my small town to go to University, suddenly I was in a much scarier pond, very far removed from growing up with a struggling single mum in a low-income area. I didn’t realise that people would look down on me, because most of my friends back-home had the same.

    I allowed myself to feel ‘less than’ everyone else. In consequence, I failed most of my degree and often felt depressed and frustrated.

    So, rather than being the vibrant kid who had zero doubt of her capabilities, I drifted from job to job, trying to find the ‘thing’ when it was completely obvious. I allowed self-worth issues to block that which would have fulfilled me. I sabotaged easy success.

    Recently I went back to my old high school and spoke to 25 of the school’s most promising students. Like me, some of them came from struggling backgrounds and had limited imagination to what was possible out of our town.

    Here’s what I told them -

    Work with your natural strengths

    Life is so much better when you give yourself permission to live in your brilliance. Don’t feel guilty because it’s easy and feels good. Better yet if you can find the sweet spot between your natural strengths and your passions. Every combination you can think of is possible.

    Believe you’re good enough

    I didn’t get this until my late twenties and then some of my natural enthusiasm and creativity came back with a vengeance. Nobody else was holding me back except for me. Give that gift to yourself and be in your own corner.

    Continue to set big goals for your life

    I’ve seen that any crazy dream is possible, but nobody is going to track you down and say ‘YOU – you must share your talents with the world!’ You have to be clear on what you want.

    I wish I could go back in time to meet the little hustling entrepreneur I was at 9 and say ‘keep going – you’ll get there’. But it was my journey and I can honestly say that finally, I’m in a place where I can say – I LOVE what I do.

    [Images courtesy of Denise Duffield Thomas. Denise helps is a success coach and author of ‘Lucky Bitch’. Find out more on her website]


    See here for more inspiring *shared stories*


    Only two weeks to go until The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design featuring Rachael Taylor begins!

    Have you secured your place yet? Register here

  2. Weekend Book Club: Paper

    For a while I have been meaning to share some of my favourite books with you.  I literally have hundreds, kept in every room in the house.  I have decided to split them into themes, and share a different theme each weekend, to share some of the delicious papery works of genius and inspiration I have discovered.  I will archive there on the sparkly new Weekend Book Club page here.

    To begin with for this week, one of my favourite topics: PAPER…

    Perfect Paper by Adeline Loh

    Features stunning art works crafted from paper.  Love the tactile cover…


    Washi no aru kurashi (Living with Japanese paper)

    A beautiful collection of unique papery objects for the home, along with features on the makers

    Masukingu teepu de collage (Creating adorable collages with washi tape)

    Inspired ideas for crafting with delicious washi tape

    Paper Yarn by Uta Donath & co

    Lots of fun ideas for crafting with paper yarn


     Only a couple of weeks to go before The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design kicks off!
    Have you secured your place yet?  Register here

  3. Beautiful world

    I was just checking something on Vimeo when I stumbled across this and was absolutely transfixed.  It is one of the most stunning videos I have seen in a long time.  And to think that this happens every year with hardly a soul to see it  

    (Film by Norwegian filmmaker Terje Sorkjerd, music by Marika Takeuchi)

    And then I found this one, which made me shiver at its pure beauty

    (Film by Norwegian filmmaker Terje Sorkjerd, music: Gladiator soundtrack “Now we are free” )

    And a third, from the same talented filmmaker…

    (Film by Norwegian filmmaker Terje Sorkjerd, music ‘Nuvole Bianchi’ by Ludovico Einaudi)

    Filmmaker Terje Sokjerd says ” I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide, Spain´s highest mountain @(3718m), one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.  The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.  A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April (​g3tsDW) and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.  Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.”

    Stunning, don’t you think?



    Only a couple of weeks left to register for The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design featuring Rachael Taylor.
    Are you in yet? Register here



  4. Holed up


    The skylight of my attic office is open and I can smell the rain which is thundering down outside. 

    I have Jazz FM playing in the background and am sat at my desk with another cup of tea, surrounded by stuff. 

    I feel like I haven’t moved for days. 

    Sometimes there is so much to get done, the only thing to do is to get on and do it. 

     So I am holed up at the top of my house and I’m not going anywhere until it’s done. 

    I know I am going to look back on these few weeks as a crazy time, and probably wonder how everything got juggled without dropping those spinning plates.  For now I just need to keep on spinning them, and stay grateful to understanding friends and family who I haven’t seen for far too long…

    Do you ever feel like that?



    Coming soon… The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design featuring Rachael Taylor… Register here

  5. Print & Pattern exclusive! (+ lovely giveaway)

    So excited to announce that megablogger Marie Perkins (aka Bowie Style), the writer and designer behind leading blog Print & Pattern, will give a rare and exclusive interview in Module 1 of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design featuring Rachael Taylor (which starts on November 14!). 

    Marie is author of pattern authority books ‘Print & Pattern’ and ‘Print & Pattern2′ (just released).  Her blog was named in the top 15 best design blogs in the world by The Times, and she has her own contemporary design label Inkjet Designs.

    Marie shares her insight into pattern trends, what makes a pattern stand out, and how to get featured on her influential site.  Not to be missed!  If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for?  It is going to be fabulous…  Register here 

    PS One lucky person who signs up by 4.30pm tomorrow UK time (that’s 26.5 hours from now!) will win $100 worth of gorgeous products designed by Rachael Taylor, including the apron below.  Find out more here 


  6. Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

    Jill Shaddock

    Spent a lovely afternoon at the weekend discovering all the crafty talent at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.  Here are a few of the lovelies I discovered:

    Bekx Stephens

    Tone von Krogh


    Lara Aldridge

    Jodie Edwards



    Lucentia Design (image credit: Stella Corrall)


    Jill Shaddock

    While at the show I sneaked behind the counter at Hannah Nunn’s lighting stand and got a sneak peek of the proofs of her gorgeous book ‘Illuminate’ (with her permission of course!)  The book is due out next year, and profiled stunning lighting designs from all over the world.  Cannot wait to get my hands on a real copy!



    Have you heard about my collaboration with surface pattern designer Rachael Taylor?

    The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design is open for registration now! Find out more here

  7. *shared stories* (35): Christina Rosalie


    Today’s *shared story* comes from soulful writer and mixed media artist Christina Rosalie


    Christina Rosalie

    This is what I love to do: Make sparks. Stalk wonder. Stir ideas. Start conversations. Inspire action. Ignite joy. And while I have always known this, I spent many years preoccupied with doing what was expected of me, what was sensible, reasonable, and made other people happy. Out of college I became an elementary teacher, even though my heart was full of wanderlust, my head full of images, my notebook full of words.

    It took seven years as a teacher, losing my father, the birth of my two sons, economic collapse, starting to freelance, ending my teaching career, extreme financial strain, synchronicity, uncertainty, and the willingness to reinvent everything, to even consider the wild possibility of being what I have always longed to be: An artist.

    It took the kind of urgency that occurs at the storm to make me realize that the work I was doing in my scant snippets of free time -writing, painting, connecting, communicating, sharing – was the work that I wanted to be doing every single minute of the day.

    This leap towards doing what I love began with asking for help, palms open to the universe. Which I did, on the spur of the moment, two years ago. And now I am here, on the brink of publishing Life In The Present Tense: A Field Guide To Now, and in my second year of graduate school; moving each day closer towards making a career with creative work at its center.

    This is what all the uncertainty and turbulence, heartache and adventure of the last seven years as taught me: There will never be a better time. Tomorrow is never assured.  If you want to do what you love, take action now.

    Say it out loud. Start with anything. Learn to fall, and get up, and start again. Trust the universe to respond. Leap. Make it real.

    I have this quote by Goethe taped to the wall in front of my desk:

    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

    There are no truer words.

    [All images courtesy of Christina Rosalie. Christina  is a writer and mixed media artist. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Emergent Media from Champlain College. Her first book, Life In The Present Tense: A Field Guide To Now will be published by Skirt! Books in September, 2012. Find out more about her on her lovely site ‘My Topography’ here]


    See here for more inspiring *shared stories*


    Have you heard about my collaboration with surface pattern designer Rachael Taylor?

    The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design is open for registration now! Find out more here

  8. Being a tourist in your own town


    I have recently been to taking myself on a series of mini-adventures around the city in which I live (Leeds, in the north of England), and on my travels I discovered the architectural gem that is Kirkstall Abbey, which dates back to the 12th Century.  I wandered slowly through the ruins, ran my fingers over the walls, sat on a bench by the canal watching birds kissing and made myself do nothing for an entire afternoon.  As someone who is always on the go it wasn’t easy but it was oh so good for me.  (Excuse the photo quality – I didn’t even take my camera, and just snapped these on my ipod!)


     Have you been a tourist in your own town lately?

    NB: I have shared my thoughts from this place in ‘Wandering through stories’ for my monthly column over on Gypsy Girl’s Guide.  And if you want to find out more about Leeds, check out my guide to the city over on design*sponge


    Everything you need to know about The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design  in one place.  Register now!

  9. Do What You Love interview: Emma Dolan

    Emma Dolan is a Leeds-based contemporary textile artist who creates adorable teacups and saucers from iconic fabric known as ‘Harris Tweed’.   Her unique cups won the ‘Best New Product’ award at the Scotland Trade Show, and Emma will be teaching a teacup workshop at the V&A in London next month. I was fascinated by her creations, and went along to her studio – in a lovely converted mid 19th Century schoolhouse – to find out more.

    Tell me about your creations

    I make dainty tea cups from Harris Tweed.  They are purely for decoration, and are inspired by a variety of traditional tea cup designs – from Charles Rennie Mackintosh through to Wedgewood. Mass-produced cups and saucers used to be based on the designs of tea dress fabric, so I love the circular idea of these tea cups being made out of fabric.

    Emma has extended her range to include funky lampshades like the one above

    How did you get into this very niche area?

    To be honest, when my children had gone to school, I was determined to avoid doing something I didn’t love.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I was clear about what I didn’t want to do.  And just around this time, the idea for my business came to me.

    The island of Harris in the Hebrides, home to Harris Tweed (image courtesy of Emma Dolan)

    I have been visiting the Hebrides in Scotland for many years.  Mackintosh imagery is everywhere, and Harris tweed is the fabric of choice there. I am a collector of china, and one day my love of ceramics, and of the island of Harris, and my design experience seemed to come together into this sudden urge to make a fabric teacup!  Although I am a surface pattern designer by training, I hadn’t done any designing for 10 years, and I surprised myself by how clear an image I had in my head of what I wanted to create.   And so my first Mackintosh-inspired teacup was born!

    Your studio is full of retro toys, old furniture and nostalgic knickknacks.  What has inspired you to gather it all?

    I love mid 20th Century design, and am a bit of a hoarder.  I collect things – homewares, packaging, everyday objects and like to surround myself with them.  And I use the furniture to display my creations.

    My image of Harris Tweed was a heavy thick fabric, usually grey or brown, that my granddad would wear.  How have you worked with it to create something so delicate-looking?

    I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work with white Harris tweed, but it is extremely rare.  In order to be authentic ‘Harris tweed’, the fabric must be woven in a weaver’s home on the island of Harris. 

    Traditionally the weavers have always been men, and every length of fabric they weave has to be quality approved by the Harris Tweed Authority.  So I took myself on a research trip to Harris to source this fabric, and called in at one particular mill there. 

    Emma was captivated by the beauty of Harris, in Scotland (image courtesy of Emma Dolan)

    Quite by chance I stumbled into the middle of a business meeting where the Mill Director was present.  I explained what I was looking for (and why) and to my delight he gave me a roll to experiment with.  It is about £25 per metre so this was a very generous gesture.  The woman in that meeting was my very first customer.  I had no idea how much to charge her, so I asked for £14.  She gave me £40 instead, and in that moment taught me to value my work properly.  We are still in touch now.

    Emma in her studio – a converted schoolhouse dating back to circa 1870

    What is your favourite part of your job?

    I love the making part.  The business side is necessary, but I would rather someone else did my admin!

    Where do you sell your work?

    I sell it directly via my website and through high-end retail outlets (such as museum shops), and I also take commissions.


    How do you juggle work and family life?

    My studio hours fit around school hours.  I do the admin side of things at home, and concentrate my time in the studio on making.  Given the nature of my creations I can pick up where I left off – with cutting or sewing etc – and am not limited by the kind of time constraints (firing, drying etc) that are associated with traditional ceramics.  This flexibility is a real benefit of working for yourself.

    Emma and her family visiting Harris in Scotland (image courtesy of Emma Dolan)


    What is your next big dream for your creative business?

    To drive across America with my family teaching teacup workshops.

    To find out more about Emma visit her website here.  To register for Emma’s workshop at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, on November 12, click here.


    Interested in getting your designs on homewares, stationery and all sorts of other lovely products? 

    Then The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design featuring Rachael Taylor is for you!

    It starts on November 14. Find out more and sign up here

  10. Excitement is building…

    Image by the lovely Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon

    Excitement is bubbling up across the world… Anticipation for the revolutionary Business Soul Sessions: Where passion meets profit (with Kelly Rae Roberts) is building – here is what people are saying about it…

    Lilla Rogers, Agent (representing 30 leading illustrators internationally)/mentor/teacher/ artist/trendsetter/mother 

    “I wish I had had this a billion years ago when I started.  What a gift you are offering people.  I myself would love to take it!  And I just might.  Truly.  Because it’s always great to sort through one’s priorities and goals, especially seeing as I am running a few businesses that keep me very busy and need constant steering.  But every creative person always has more ideas than can possibly be tackled.  So goals, priorities, and soul are something one must continuously examine. I encourage your readers – and really, every creative business person – to sign up.”

    Andrea Scher, jewellery designer and founder of Mondo Beyondo

    “I believe in success, in abundance and in making a difference in the world. I also believe that how we get there matters. This course is exciting to me because I know that as we infuse more soul into the process of growing our business, the more rich, satisfying and SUCCESSFUL the business will be. The revolution has begun! I’m thrilled this class exists and look forward to learning how to create more financial abundance while staying true to what inspires me and energizes me.”

    Tracey Clark, Photographer and founder of Shutter Sisters and the ‘I am enough’ project

    “I believe that business and soul are perfect partners. When your business reflects the kind of authenticity that is unique to your passion and soul, it becomes more fulfilling for you and more meaningful for your clients.  It then becomes a true win-win venture. I’m so thrilled to see an e-course that addresses how very possible it is to have this win-win situation.”

    Are you ready?  Hear from more participants and join them by registering here