I am not one who is big on words, images are how I like to communicate. As a true introvert I like to sit back and observe, read body language and understand the feelings behind the conversation. I believe there is much to learn by reading a room. I think this is one of the reasons that I enjoy meeting other artists and artisans, even if we don't speak the same language. I feel that we are able to communicate through the craft and an occasional smile and laugh.
Goods with intention, not only applies to myself as a creative, spending my days reveling in my craft, but also working with other creatives who's livelihood depends on their craft.
In September of 2016 I took a trip to Guatemala where I had the fortune of meeting some wonderful artisans. This meeting was followed up by 9 months of back and forth communication and has all culminated in our WOVEN collection. We believe in building long term relationships with our partners, ensuring trust and sustainability for their families.
5 years!!! 5 years!!! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here typing up a blog post celebrating 5 years as as an entrepreneur, maker, boss, creative, woman, mother, wife... My life plan was finish high school, go to college, get married, get a job, have kids and live happily ever after. Fairly typical for a gal born and raised in norther Minnesota. None the less, I followed that path for 27 years until things came to a screeching halt in 2009 when the housing marked crashed and my job was lost. I ended up back at the beginning, no job, no house, 2 kids...
If you know my story, this is when I began Wind & Willow Home which 4 years later became, what it is now Willful. The name change and my dreams changed a little over a year ago when I realized, I wanted more. I started this business because I couldn't find another and felt forced into creating some type of income for my family. But once this business became Willful, renamed for our family motto, "If there's a will, there's a way." (which truly got put to the test) it became a part of me. My mission to truly live my dreams of designing and creating beautiful products, energized by connecting with artisans near and far on the same mission I was on, to simply create a better life for my family.
So, what have I learned?
- Plans are good but they WILL change and how you react to those changes are what can make or break you.
- To create something that is of yourself, is the hardest job in the world.
- What separates those who are out there following their dreams is a matter of persistence and luck.
- It's hard to give up when others believe in you.
- Looking at other's success as a means of motivation did not work for me.
- Study, read, listen and learn as much as you can about your industry then take the pieces that resonate with you and implement them
Thanks for 5 years friends! We are just beginning!
Okay friends, the kitchen is a room that truly has my heart and well, you know how I feel about color (insert all of the heart eye/kiss emojis). It's hard to infuse personality into such a hard working space so, as a former kitchen and bathroom designer and current chromatophiliac, I have rounded up 8 of my favorite ways to add color & personality to your kitchen.
1. ART: Framed or unframed, a bold art print can energize your space and add tons of personality for small $$.
via House To Home
2. PAINT: Color, Color, Color, just about any will do. For the cost of about $30 and a half day of work, you can completely transform your kitchen from ordinary to Yasss!
3. ACCENT CABINETRY: Whether you are painting old warn cabinetry to buy some time or ordering a custom piece, I love the use of a few colorful accent pieces. No need to go overboard but the right tone in the right place and you have a statement kitchen.
4. TILE: It's functional AND beautiful! Today there are millions of options for backsplash tile. From a classic subway to a masterpiece mosaic, the space between the countertop and the cabinets is the perfect place to show off.
5. APPLIANCES: I mean... Have you seen all of the options out there? From blazing orange ranges to warm pink refrigerators it's worth the investment to pick a piece that you love because you will be cleaning it EVERY DAY, amIright?
6. DISHES: Open shelving has been a trend for quite a few years now and I think it's here to stay. There is no better way to add a low commitment pop of color to your kitchen in the form of your favorite serving pieces. Arranging them in rainbow order, you can't go wrong!
via. Oh Happy Day
7. RUGS: With so many cold hard surfaces in your kitchen a warm vibrant rug is a great way to add warmth to your space. A vintage runner or a couple modern throw rugs can infuse tons of personality and make your space a bit more comfortable.
8. LIGHTING: Pendants!!! From glass to metal there are a plethora of amazing pendants available. The great thing about a pendant is it draws your eye up from the countertop to the ceiling creating height and depth. They are most definitely the jewelry of the kitchen.
GREAT, right?! I just love a pop of color in the kitchen. What is your favorite way to add color? I have added a bunch of my favorite kitchens over on my Pinterest page. Check 'em out!
I don't know about you but it's January, it's cold and after the holiday decorations come down I am in full on wanderlust mode. From the glowing shores of East Africa to the sun drenched architecture of Northern India there is so much to see and so many reasons to book a design inspired flight out of this town :)
Here are my top 5:
#1 Melbourne, Australia
With a ton of my art and design inspiration based in cool, graphic color, Melbourne has an abundance of amazing designers and artists with incredible homes to match! The Design Files is one of Australia's most popular design blogs, I could spend hours during through the images and I have, spend hours following the rabbit hole that is a never ending web of design genius, from one instagramer to the next! You're on my bucket list Melbourne!
#2 Marrakech, Morocco
Color, Texture, Sunshine, oh my! Morocco has long been on my travel list only second to Tanzania in Africa but it has quickly crept up the list with my following of IG accounts like fine_moroccan-rugs and babasouk to drool over. The neon colors mixed with traditional weaving techniques leave me dreaming of extra suitcases filled with woven goods galore.
#3 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Imagine a city with boundless culinary options and mind blowing beaches. It's impossible not to come away with a head overflowing with inspiration. With birds and scenery so bold and beautiful, it's no surprise that their textiles are equally striking and adventurous.
#4 Antigua, Guatemala
After traveling to Antigua in September for New World Craft I must go back! The beautiful people, stunning surroundings and incredible artisans happily practicing ancient Mayan weaving techniques make this the best of all worlds. I look forward to sharing our new line of goods from our partners in Guatemala SOON!
Fine attention to detail and (one last time) COLOR! Jaipur has a long history in handicrafts from block printing to weaving, paper making to pottery. This city is a color junkies dream not to mention it is nicknamed the "Pink City" for its distinct building colors. Craftsmen in Jaipur are stated to commit their whole life just into making handicrafts for the city and developing the city one step ahead in art and craft form.
I am searching discount flights right now! What's on your bucket list? Which city do you look to for design inspiration?
- Communication: Blog once per week sharing inspiration and aspiration
- Design: Design and produce 10 completely new products
- Aspiration: Form 2 new licensed design partnerships
- Balance: Do not compare myself or business to anyone else
- Intention: Help build and support 10 new artisans around the world
- Skill: Learn how to efficiently use Illustrator
- Personal: Produce more personal Art
How about you? Do you set yearly, mostly, weekly goals? How do you celebrate when you reach them? When you don't?
Aaghhhh, it's coming... the biggest shopping weekend of the year, BLACK FRIDAY, SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY, CYBER MONDAY, GIVING TUESDAY!!! Truthfully, it really just gives me anxiety. While I like a good deal, I hate the hype. I am more of an intentional shopper, seeking out the products that I really need and expecting that I am paying a fair price for the quality and craftsmanship. So, this year we are staying true to our purpose of intentional giving. This year, for every purchase, in store or online, we are going to donate 10% of our profits to one of our favorite organizations, the American Refugee Committee.
In this season of giving thanks and showing gratitude, we want to put our focus on those who are doing great things for people in need and The American Refugee Committee has impacted people all over the globe not to mention their fantastic work with Somalian refugees right here in Minnesota.
Beginning 9am Friday, November 25th and continuing until 10pm Monday, November 28th, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to help ARC in their purpose,
"Bringing an abundant world of amazing people together to work on the toughest problems."
We hope you will join us in our mission to give with intention.
Goods with intention...when I changed the name of my company from Wind & Willow Home to Willful this February I had a dream to build my business along side artists who are depending on their skills to support their families. Like myself, not only are they looking for a sustainable steady income, but an opportunity to build a sustainable path to becoming independent upon their artisanal gifts.
Last week, I was able to take my first trip to Antigua, Guatemala to meet the artisans that I am supporting. Despite the little Spanish that I know we were able to communicate through color and texture. It was humbling to learn about their process and why they are still crafting beautiful products for more than 5 decades the same way their mother taught them, and the same way her mother taught her and using these age old techniques to support their families.
The city of Antigua is incredibly inspiring, with its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets and abundance of textiles.
I picked up some amazing goods (as much as I could fit in my suitcase) and these beauties are available HERE. Keep your eye out for a full line of goods from my collaboration in the near future.
All images by Araya Jensen