Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Calling all Arm-chair Anti-Capitalist/Anti-Globalisation and Fair Trade Campaigners! Support Local

Do you quietly boycott the multinational global brands in a bid to make the world a better place?  Perhaps you even take to the streets?
Do you try and support Fair Trade wherever possible?
Are you concerned about the global financial collapse, carbon foot-prints and environmentalism?

If you do - you will probably also have some nominal notion about the importance of shopping local. Of supporting local crafters and ensuring they get a fair wage for the quality products they make.  If you do - you will believe in supporting people at a time of financial austerity as opposed to paying massive prices on items that aren't worth it.  You will resent paying way above the manufacturing cost just so you can get to see an advert about it on TV that will try to persuade you to buy more.  Adverts that proclaim luxury and quality whilst the company has workers tied (sometimes literally) to the   sewing machines - as demonstrated by my son!

I am therefore calling on all moralists, anyone with some form of social concern and desire to rectify this sorry, jaded and false consumerism to take a stand.

I'm not asking for much but I am asking for action.  Action that requires you to click that little left button on the mouse a few times to register your support for crafters - people to make things, the manufacturers located in your own homes, towns and villages that we so often overlook.  People struggling to get by because they love what they do as opposed to worrying about trying to gain that prestigious and luxurious prize of a "minimum wage".

I'm asking you to wage a war against the capitalist multi-nationals in a bid to support your friends, acquaintances and  yes, even that odd old lady(kindly demonstrated by Carla) down the road that is really quite a recluse but who faithfully knits scarves to sell in order to raise funds for an orphan in Africa (better that then actually send the thing!)

For the first week of September I am asking you to spend a few minutes each day working in support of Craftfest: clicking, supporting, liking and tweeting lovely little items that you find on this on-line craft market.  Craftfest runs a few times a year in a bid to create an online community craft market where sellers can work together to promote and share each others wonderful creations.  It gives fellow crafter's the sense of being part of a bigger community, of supporting and encouraging one another and promoting each others work to their own client base.

Most of us register in a bid to try and sell a few more items and make a little extra wonga...

But in reality Craftfest is much more than that.  You see even the on-line world is dominated by a multinational: google and specifically, google ads.  Other search engines all work the same way.  BIG on-line companies pay for space that dominate the top pages of any search.  Whilst the search engine's claim to work democratically there are ways to promote your work on-line.  You must word items in specific ways, tailor it to specific items and make sure you edit your descriptions so google doesn't treat it as spam.  This all makes sense to an expert but to a novice crafter - the on-line world is daunting.

One solution to this is to make a little noise on the net.  The more noise you make then the likelier it is you will get noticed by search engines such as Google.  If you create enough noise you may even get the wonderful chance of having something going viral.  The only way of doing this is by using Social media.

Herein lies the genius of Craftfest.  The craftfest community is about a market stall - but it is so much more than that.  It is fundamentally a means of creating noise on the internet.  The sheer fact that the 200 stall holders will be working our butts off all week tweeting, blogging, pinning etc. each others work is all in the hope that the favour will be returned.  If returned that means you have up to 200 more people tweeting and commenting on your items at the one time.  200 people taking one hour to tweet and re-tweet just may get noticed but if they can also recruit people to campaign with us on our behalf then we could really up the anti!

If each crafter brought with us another 1 or 2 people to campaign with us then we can up this number to 600 people liking, tweeting and pinning at once.  If we get 10 each - 2000 and so it goes.

What do you get out of it?

Many of the crafter's don't have cash and can't offer discounts (the barely make enough money as it is).  That's the point.  This is a campaign.  This is you taking the high ground.  You may not be able to purchase - and to be honest that is fine (sort of) but perhaps more importantly you can help us get noticed to buyers.  That is awesome.  Why do it?  Well... its because you believe in it.

I'm a firm believer in Organic, in fair-trade and in ethical shopping - but the reality is that most of this helps people abroad.  Shopping local is an idea but its been difficult to see it become a reality.  By helping to promote the people of Craftfest - you are doing your bit to change to world.  To change the focus from the global, to the local.  From the mass-produced to the hand-made, custom orders that the people of Craftfest specialise in.

So what do you say?  Are you in?

It runs from the 1st - 8th Sept.

We will be tweeting, FBing and blogging many things over the next week and we would love you to play a part.  Share, like, pin, tweet, talk about us to anyone and everyone.  Do it a few times a day at different times in the day.  Sure we love you sharing about us at any time - but this week is special - its about creating some noise!!!!!

So lets raise the warrior cry for our crafters!  Lets give some artisans our support - lets stick our tongues out to the people that brand us and define us and say "ENOUGH!"  We will do our own thing - thank you very much.

Feel free to pin, share and like this to your hearts content - lets get craftfest out there!

My stall:

My other details:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Promotion Promotion Promotion

And then there was LU

Few have managed to work harder for Craftfest than LU.  She is tirelessly looking at ways to promote Craftfest and each others work.  She's on Twitter, Facebook, Etsy, Luulla, Folksy, Wanelo, Linkedin, Pinterest, pinerly and some I've never heard of - all with the sole aim of getting people onto the Craftfest site to view and perhaps purchase some products.

Always good to have a sense of humour - and Lu has that in abundance.

She is also talented.

Don't believe me?  Check out this...

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Where do these people get time?

Lu - I wish you well for Craftfest!


There is always something that grabs your attention at the craftfest stalls and today's winner was definitely Jen Edgerton with her Cute Pet Gear Stall.  I'm not renowned for being an animal lover (anaphalatic allergy to horses and mild one to dogs) but I have to say some of these items just make me smile.  I think they are gorgeous.  Almost a worth a life-time on anti-histamines!!!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Cushions are the In Thing!  Personal Space Interiors has already been mentioned as has Kooshka.  The next on this blogs list are those creations belonging to Charlotte Hingston.  I should point out that Charlotte has more than just cushions.  There are some beautiful banners and pictures also on her stall.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Wreathes don't often bring me happy thoughts - but mixed with a collection of pillow boxes and clothes-pegs these wreathes came in as a wonderfully pleasant surprise.  I could really get hooked on the clothes-pegs though.  Cola Creations and Amy Mortimer have definitely got me re-thinking my approach to laundry chores!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

... and words fail me for this next stall.  How do you even go about starting to make the cloaks and capes that Paige Damien undertakes?  Each one hand-made and completely stunning!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

And finally,  How about some soap?  A welcome selection from the wonderful Cottage Soap Company.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Who is behind this thing called craftfest?

So who exactly is behind this little festival called Craftfest?

Anna is the name of the person with whom the buck seems to stop with - and its not just for Craftfest.  This woman seems to single-handedly attempt to rule the the Crafter's World.  All of this in the name of raising respect and worth to those able and gifted in the arts.

The UK has a fabulous history with art, fashion and hobbies - but truth be told it lost its way many years ago to the likes of America, Brazil, Australia and South Africa.  For some it was the pioneering spirit that meant craft became a haven - for others it was a way to while away the day as the servants did the work.

In the UK - it came fowl of the Mother's Union!

Now I am a big fan of the Mother's Union - but their generosity, love and charitable spirit meant craft was effectively free.  It became downgraded as a fundraising mechanism and not as something that had intrinsic value or sentiment.

Anna has sought to change this.

She is the :

Editor of Creative Crafting Magazine
Founder of Creative Connections
Founder of The Professional Crafters Guild
Chief Organiser of CRAFTfest
Creator of Healing Gemstone Jewellery at Mystic Earth

She is also a mother of two (three if the husband is included)!

And she makes these:

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

One might ask where she finds the time.  I suspect like the Lilac Team leader has suggested it comes pretty much from sleep deprivation.

Now I haven't as yet seen how Craftfest functions, nor how effective it can be... but I do like transformers.  People who seek to raise the bar a little, people who seek to bring a little bit of metamorphosis to those around them.  People who do not give up in their radical pursuit of being the change they want to see in the world.

I think Craftfest may have just found themselves victim to one such person!  So be prepared, be very prepared as you join the gang in September in the promotion of each others work.  If Anna's vision is anything to go by - it will be both an interesting and rewarding time!

The Second person to mention is Bead Bounty Sal

Sal runs a bead supply stall at Craftfest - but she is more than that.  She epitomizes the spirit of the event.  A group of people willing and able to work together to promote each others work.  A friendly, good-spirited crowd who want to establish an on-line community who function not only to market one another but encourage one another.  You see people like Sal pop in regularly for a little chat on the creative connections website, willing to lend a hand, offer advice or even join-in in some in-house jokes.  Sal is just one of many people to make the community aspect of the project so effective.  And there are others... Its just that I did promise this spot to her.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Lilac Lovelies Number 6

So the first few of today's posts are bright and cheery.  Just what you need when you feel the grey and bleak summer has taken its toll on you!

Have you ever heard of a Plushee?  No, nor me.  Still I have been put right now with some amazing Plushee's from Plusheze.  I absolutely adore some of their stuff.  There is a monkey I am particularly fond of. They are bound to do well at Craftfest.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

From Plushee's To Crafty Chics a great place to stop by for some scrapbook supplies!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

I mentioned elsewhere that I don't wear much jewellery.  If I did wear jewellery I believe this store would win me over.  I certainly need to start thinking of some adoptive children I could start purchasing these for.

These are bright, cheery, beautiful and full of colour.  Just what you need for a wet, dreary Irish Summer.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

For further therapy after this dreadful summer you might wish to go for some colour indoors.  What about some Kooshka cushions?  All I need to do now is light the fire-place and I'd feel almost prepared to settle in for winter.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Now this one is going to be interesting.  Sara has decided to leave us all a little bit curious about her stall.

We only have a little glimpse of what is due to be an interesting stall at Craftfest.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Monday, 20 August 2012

Lilac Lovelies Number 5

Scrapbooking is perhaps Carla's favourite pass-time.  It is massive in Brazil and I know Carla will be profoundly jealous of Melanie Barns.  We chose to take the avenue of soap-making and occasionally throw in the odd bit of scrap-booking now and again but I think full-time scrap-booking would be a dream come true for Carla!  Still, the competition is rife out there... Just look at some of Melanies stuff!

I would be lying if I told you that I am big on jewellery - I'm a bloke who doesn't even carry a watch and has lost his wedding ring - It was made of wood and I took it off to wash my hands in the cinema a few years ago.  It was too expensive to replace with a similarly meaningful ring, so I'm biding my time until I can afford a new one!

I'm not sure I have even heard of knitted wire jewellery - but I have now thanks to Pollyanna.  This store has taught me lessons in jewellery I didn't even think I needed to know!

Find more photos like this on Creative

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

And finally,  I'm not entirely sure who Janie is - but I can tell you that Marva Quash definitely seems to have been!...  A stall making its debut appearance all the way from the USA

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

More Lilac Lovelies

So its time for some more lilac lovelies...

The team has grown somewhat since my first post.  I've since discovered another 18 people with stalls in the Lilac Team.  Thought it high time to start looking around to see what I might fancy.

A fellow stall holder from Ireland is the only proper place to start.  Siog Designs, I thought, made jewelry - but having just scouted out the stall I was most pleased to see the hats and bags that featured in the latter part of the stall.

Its the first big event for Mandy and I want to wish her all the best - It is also ours but we have had the privilege of a longer run-up!  Mandy, its over to you....

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Second stall today is that of Gill (Personal Space Interiors).  To be honest I am not sure how she missed out on my first blog as she was one of the first people I connected with in the run up to Craftfest.

Like the rest of the experts she has gone fore more than one stall.  There is the vintage stall and the "Home" stall.  I surprised myself but I've decided to feature her wonderful "home" stall.  I saw far too much that I fancied.

So Gill, Scentcosmetics "likes" you!....

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Finally for this post is Juliet Rogers

Tag'e'line is a small craft business creating colourful and playful unique baby and young children's blankets and accessories.

Juliet's aim is to create colourful, texturally interesting and beautiful tag-e blankets which babies and toddlers alike will enjoy playing with. If only Tobin was a few months younger!...
Frustrated by the predominantly pink, blue and neutral colour choice of clothes, toys and nursery items, Juliet tries to make products in a range of colour combinations - but she is not biased, she offers the standard colours too!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections
For some of her stuff check out this album:
So Craftfest is rapidly approaching....

I signed up to this online craft stall in July thinking I had loads of time to get stuff ready, prepared, connect with other people on the stall and just generally get ready for the much anticipated September Craftfest.

How wrong was I?

There is much more than could possibly meet the eye.  Photo uploads, descriptions, featuring people in blogs, being featured, interviews, treasuries, connecting with people.  Even worse when you need to face doing it all again when, at the last minute you change your packaging and prices!

Its a big task, but it is even bigger for those who lead the teams!

To make the event manageable - those people who register for Craftfest are assigned teams.  To each team there is a team leader.

Let me re-introduce you to the Lilac Team Leader.  I've featured Lilac stalls before - but realised as I was looking at the list of people I wanted to feature that it is extremely easy to miss those ever so crucial team leaders.  We think of them as experts, people who know what they are doing and are indeed so well versed in the goings on of Craftfest that they need no further promotion.

Truth is, I have no idea how the team leaders do it.  Some of them, if not all, have a job, a family and are fellow crafters.  On top of this they add literally hundreds of hours registering new recruits, helping people out via on-line chat, e-mails, editing photos and promoting peoples' blogs. They are in my estimates "Superhuman".

Flick is one of those "Superhumans".  As if the above wasn't enough Flick has also registered three stalls for craftfest in Sept.  She has the Supplies shop and two craft shops.  She says it is achieved through sleeplessness - but still.

So Flick.  One post with the single aim of saluting you!

You are amazing!

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Oh and a little side note....  Big Congrats to Tania of Cola Creations - featured elsewhere in this blog.  She has just signed herself up for the next Craftfest in Nov.  Glutten for punishment!

A family business!

Now, do you remember all that proudly breastfeeding mother thing?
Cuddling visit with Tobin
I have to say - breastfeeding can be as tiring as stopping it.
This week we have some very needy babies driving daddy mad while mother is soap making but I have to say it is a great blessing to be able to work and still breastfeed my baby and have time with my son and husband as we make our produce from our glass "lab" in the back of the garden. Now and again when all the work is finished and I need a little help tiding up I get some help from Eli or a visit for a cuddly time with Tobin. Then I have the love of my life calling me for lunch our coffee breaks.
And this makes my day!
painting with left overs
Mamãe, coffee is ready!

But family business involves more then just a couple and their children.

We are honestly thankful for the help of friends and family who are dedicating their talents, investiment and time to help us out with our enterprise.

Nana Sharon & Tobin
Jenny, Tobin & Wilma 

We have a gang of women whom we call "The girls" and they come to see us every week to help with the children, Ironing, cooking and lovely coffee with conversation around the table. They are the just some of the "other women" in Garreth's life -  his mother Sharon, aunt Wilma and Jenny.

Nigel and Eli having a serious talk
Nigel Smith has been also an amazing friend sharing his divine creativity and time to help us with design and great ideas. He took beautiful photos of our soaps, designed our logo and business cards and made a fun train track for our son out of a paper box (it count as business too: children happy, parents happy, business happy!). among other tings he does to help us (and they are many!) he also looks after the children when he has helpers around (Like Cameron and Kate!). Thanks, Nigel!
Robert with his boys at his 60th Birthday lunch

Robert Falls (our own Bob the Builder!)  doesn't just let us live in this beautiful place but also makes our moulds, cutters, displays and whatever else we ask (including delicious soup!).

Another hero in our family is Nicky Kells who brings joy, laugh, lots of play, coffee, wine and so much more to our lives. Nicky has been so amazing that Eli already set aside a towel in the bathroom for her so she understand she is part of our family.
Eli & Nicky baking together
The girl just loves the kids (and is a little bit found of the parents too!) and the Fallses just love this girl back!

This is quite a long post but we can't go on without saying a BIG THANK YOU to this wonderful people !
You are all "God's gifts" to our lives!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cleaning the ScENT way!

For any regular readers of this blog you may well be aware that men have come under some feminist abuse over the last few posts.  It hasn't been contained to the blog - it has spread into the chat-room of Craftfest...  Ladies, you know who you are!

Men being objectified and at the same time being ridiculed for talking about doing the washing, the cleaning, the drying.  As if?!

Well, well then - let me tell you a story about how we got into soap-making...

(by the way - for any sensitive types out there) no offence was taken!

Having left community/charity work here in Ireland we went away to Brazil for a few months to be with family.  I was struck by the entrepreneurship demonstrated so readily in Brazil.  People with no money and in deep poverty trying to make things to sell in order to make a living.

One thing that really struck me was the ability of people to make their own cleaning products.  I got curious. Candles and Soaps I knew could be made at home - but how on earth did a person go about making cleaning products?

As an anti-capitalist I have always resented spending money on big brands that make massive profits so they can advertise and sell more.  I've always supported fair-trade and justice.  I began to see potential ways to undercut Procter & Gamble, Lever bros and make things for myself.  Surely if poverty stricken people in Brazil could do it - so could I?  Perhaps we could even sell the products and make an income?  Become self-employed?  I began thinking of different ways to create a social business that may involve cleaning products.

This was the beginning of ScENT!

And here are a few of the things we make.   Mostly for ourselves but sometimes to sell.  We make everything from floor cleaner to detergent, scouring powder to granite cleaner and much more to the side.
I'll name a few:

Lemon and Pine - floor cleaner
Peppermint& lavender laundry powder, (and softener)
Frankincense, cinnamon & bergamot granite cleaner
Lavender and Rosemary all purpose cleaner
Lavender & tea-tree all purpose cleaner
Grapefuit & Clove mildew spray
Peppermint & eucalyptus shower spray
Lemon Scrub and scouring powder

In the last year I have become an expert in how to use Bicarbonate of Soda, Cornstarch, Soap, Vinegar, Lemons and essential oils among other things in such a way as to create an environmentally friendly cleaning range that uses both fairly traded and organic ingredients.

I haven't needed to buy a laundry powder in over 2 years - and we use washable nappies!!!  The stuff works.

 A word of caution though to the novice.  The internet is full of recipes that don't work.  Made by people who have obviously never tried making them.  Anyone that suggests putting castile soap together with vinegar is a Looney Tune!  It simply creates the most awful scum!

Now granted - cleaning products aren't quite as an attractive idea as say, soap.  Carla makes beautiful soap, but one of the purposes of the soap-making is to generate enough income to kick-start social business'.  We want Scent to offer employment opportunities to the disadvantaged, work with people who suffer disabilities or perhaps those seeking re-habilitation from prison.

One possible avenue we are pursuing is the idea of making cleaning products for schools, offering classes in justice, organics, enterprise and health & hygiene.  The pupils then make some of the products and we sell them as a fundraiser for the school.

All this is in its infancy but we are currently looking at whether or not it is viable.

So, not only do men do the cleaning - but whilst cleaning we dream.  Dream of changing the world.  Dream of creating change, dream of the day when we can work with people rather than clean my house (although) I may not be able to do much about the latter dream.

So there you have it - the dangers of becoming a house-husband!