Tag Archives: inter[view]

behind the business / BRIKA ( + a killer giveaway! )

When Jen and Kena, the ladies behind the fabulous new online store BRIKA, reached out to me to collaborate, I was beyond excited! ( Check out my feature on their What We Love page this week! )

I just know you’ll fall in love with them as much as you will fall in love with the beautiful pieces sold in their store.

Jen Lee Koss and Kena Paranjape just recently launched BRIKA on November 20, 2012. Since then, the brand has exploded in popularity. They’re clearing doing something right! Be sure to enter the amazing giveaway after you learn from these lovely, business savvy women!

behind the business / brika ( + a giveaway! )

Tell us your story before BRIKA. What brought you to the place you’re at now and what was the inspiration for starting anonline store that celebrates A Well-Crafted Life?

Jen: At the most basic level, I’m Korean-American, I grew up in New Jersey, studied very seriously as a cellist growing up, went to school in Boston, went to more school in England, and I moved to Toronto right after graduating from business school to be with my husband. I spent my professional career in management consulting, investment banking and private equity mostly focused on the consumer retail space. I have always been fascinated by what drives purchasing behavior, trends and brands.

I met Kena because of her blog–her creative outlet from her corporate career! I built up courage and reached out to her randomly and asked her out for a coffee, and the more we talked, the more we both realized that we would make great partners in something entrepreneurial. We started very close to home by thinking of a place we wanted to shop for amazing and unique items made by makers with a story to tell. We searched high and low and couldn’t find anything that really spoke to us in a voice that we wanted to be spoken to. We held some focus group, we talked to our friends, and ultimately, we knew we were on to something…

We believe so strongly that everyone has the ways, means and tools to build a beautiful life. Hence, our tagline: A Well-Crafted Life! Kena and I are truly living this out in what we are building with BRIKA.

Kena: I’ve spent my career to date in retail and specifically merchandising and buying.  Just prior to launching BRIKA I managed a beautiful eco-friendly lifestyle retail concept in Toronto where I had the opportunity to develop close relationships with many of the makers we purchased from (read more of the story here).  I was so inspired by their passion for their craft and admired the incredible quality of their products.  When I saw how the customer who came in reacted to such beautiful things and the stories behind them, Jen and I thought – how can we make this happen on a much larger scale?   And the seeds for BRIKA were planted….

behind the business / brika ( + a giveaway! )

How did the two of you decide to go into business together? And, for anyone thinking about going into business with a friend, what advice would you give them?

Jen: The first time we met was in a coffee shop here in Toronto (read more of the story here). I think I intuitively knew after meeting Kena that we were going to do something creative together. I know that may sound, hokey, but were were both in a place in our lives where we wanted to pursue our passions in a real way, do something entrepreneurial and take a risk. We are really a very balanced team. We have very complementary skill-sets, and as I say to people, I am the ying to her yang.

I think a very interesting part about our partnership is that we weren’t friends before we started BRIKA, but we are developing as we go along! Undoubtedly, when we first met, there was a feeling that we had been old friends in past life…

Kena: I have always, always wanted to be an entrepreneur.  There were some conditions around my dream though: 1) I needed to have an idea I was so passionate about that I couldn’t NOT do it 2) the timing had to be right and 3) I had to have an AWESOME partner to do it with.  When Jen and I met, I felt it was truly the universe telling me, “Do it, NOW!”

I think it is absolutely key that you are friends with the person you go into business with.  You have to have an underlying trust when so much rides on your partnership.  Luckily, I felt I had that with Jen pretty much as soon as I met her.  Beyond friendship, I think it is important to be able to communicate openly, understand each others strengths and weaknesses, and have clearly defined roles.

 

It seems that BRIKA was an instant success, but that has to be a product of a lot of hard work. What were the first steps you took to get the word out about your new site?

Jen: We knew that we wanted to launch BRIKA before the holidays to ensure we caught the momentum of the gifting season. It was around that time that we noticed that Rena Tom, of the Makeshift Society, started following us on twitter and facebook. We couldn’t have been more excited! The MS was a place we thought was just amazing. It really speaks to BRIKA’s core values.

We reached out to Rena cold (it’s a common theme in my life…read here), and when we connected we realized–our DREAM was to do an event at the MS. So prior to our launch, we flew over to San Francisco, invited a bunch of people we loved, admired and respected and had a little party. I think it was really this event that got a some buzz going for us. It hasn’t stopped since then!

behind the business / brika ( + a giveaway! )

All of the products on BRIKA are a work of art. Is there a curation process that you go through when choosing makers for the site? How do you go about saying “no” to those that don’t get chosen?

Kena: First of all, thank you, we think so too!  The makers we work with are so incredibly talented.  We are inspired by them every single day.  For a product and maker to be featured on BRIKA we consider a few things: 1) the product itself must be beautiful, high quality and fit into our unique aesthetic point of view of modern craft.  The techniques and processes our makers use are hundreds or even thousands of years old, but the products they create are contemporary and fit into our 21st century lives.

 

You must need killer self control to refrain from purchasing every item that is sold in the store! Do you have any products from BRIKA decorating your office right now?

Jen: We have had a few office moves already! We started in a shared work environment with two little offices in the basement, and we are now in a bustling shared office with four other start-ups. We haven’t landed on somewhere permanent yet–we’re still looking! One thing that HAS traveled with us on our journey is an absolutely gorgeous watercolor of our logo that one of our Makers who we launched with, Shana Frase, made for us. It is so beautiful and it is so special to us as it was presented to us in person.

 

Thank you, Jen + Kena for sharing so much wonderful information with us! 

Continuing their generosity, it’s time for an amazing giveaway!

brika giveaway

TO ENTER: leave a comment + tell us your definition of a well-crafted life!

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: 
1. like BRIKA on facebook
2. share the giveaway on your facebook page and tag BRIKA and CLC
+ please leave a separate comment for each entry to be counted!

DETAILS: Giveaway ends Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at midnight EST. One winner will be chosen at random and notified by email the following day.

 

behind the blog / the curtis casa

It’s been a while but Behind the Blog is back! And who better to bring it back than the lovely Whitney Curtis of The Curtis Casa!? This sweet girl has some great things to say and share about blogging!

behind the blog / the curtis casa

So what’s your blog all about?
Short version: The Curtis Casa is a home, garden and lifestyle blog.
Long version: Part of what I love about blogging, is that it flows with your life. If you happen to be redesigning your bedroom or remodeling your kitchen, your blog reflects that and your readers can follow along and complete the journey with you! All the while, you’re allowed to experiment and grow your own style and sharing new projects!

When did you start blogging + what made you decide to go for it?
I started blogging in May 2010 to keep in touch with family and friends who were far away. I really started “going for it” and taking it seriously when I realized I was spending hours and hours in the evenings and on weekends documenting our projects and our life to share on the blog. I realized I wanted to be like the professionals I’d been reading for so long!

behind the blog / the curtis casa

Walk us through your typical day. How much time per day/week do you devote to your blog?
Well, my typical day has recently changed – significantly! I’m transitioning from quitting my 9-5 (in the non-profit/fundraising world) to blogging and freelancing. I was pretty unhappy at my old job so the fact that I get to stay at home, doing what I love is incredible! Right now I’m working on designating a schedule for projects, writing and social media. It’s all a mess right now!

How do you manage your time + stay organized?
Eek! I don’t! I’m trying really hard to start managing my blogging time better. I’m pretty organized – I have files for everything! – but the time easily slips away if I get distracted on Pinterest! ;)

How do you keep your imagination flowing + get past creative funks when they do sneak in?
I need to clear my head every once in a while when working on a project. Usually, if I get frustrated, it’s because I’m hungry! So I’ll break for snack time or take the dog for a walk and that usually clears my head.

behind the blog / the curtis casa

Do you have any quick + easy post ideas for those days when you’re short on time or inspiration?
I really love to show original content on my blog, photos of our house or diy projects I’m working on, so if time is short and I don’t have any projects I’m working on, I fall back on inspiration boards or style boards. I’m always ready to think up a fresh outfit!

What are a few business/blogging resources ( online or offline ) that have been beneficial for you?
The app and website TeuxDeux (by the brilliant Swiss Miss) basically saves my life every day.
I really loved the book Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho.
And I actually really enjoy HooteSuite for my social media managing and such.

behind the blog / the curtis casa

Do you consider your blog a business or just a creative outlet?
I’m right smack dab in the middle of this conundrum. My blog is definitely a business, I’m just trying to make it a full-time one.

How has blogging influenced your life + relationships?
Oh my goodness, I could probably write a book on this topic. Blogging has changed my life. Blogging has opened my eyes and allowed me to see the world in a different way. Blogging has opened my heart to some tender stories and some heartbreaking truths of my dear internet friends. Blogging has encouraged me to challenge myself, redefine my style and reconsider what I value in this life. How’s that for influence? :)

behind the blog / the curtis casa

How much of your life offline do you share on your blog? How does this effect your readers’ ability to connect with you?
This is a tricky question! I love getting personal with my readers, but building a business of a blog is also a professional thing. I had a funny realization about this recently – I had just posted about quitting my 9-5 and I had a business meeting a few days later. Of course they read my blog to prepare before our meeting, but I didn’t expect that they’d ask me about it in the meeting! I always try to be careful and professional, but sometimes the line between sharing personal stories with your readers and being professional is a bit blurry.

What has been the key to success for you as a blogger? Especially when you were new to the blog world.
I think you have to define what success is for you first – not for anyone else, but for you. I consider myself successful when I post a great blog post with original content and it inspires someone. When you’re new to the blog world it’s easy to get discouraged, but if you stay confident in yourself and your abilities, and don’t compare, you’ll feel successful – no matter how big or small you are.

Any further advice for fellow bloggers?
Fake it ’til you make it!

Thanks, Whitney!

  connect with whitney: blog / twitter / pinterest / facebook / instagram

  read more behind the blog posts

behind the blog / pinegate road

As usual, I’m crazy excited about the blogger featured in today’s behind the blog post: Kelsey of Pinegate Road! This is super exciting for me because I recently got to meet Kelsey in person when she came to Jacksonville on a little Christmas break vacay. Let me tell you – she is just as precious and wonderful as you’d think from her blog!

Thanks for sharing your tips with us today, Kels!

behind the blog / pinegate road

So what’s your blog all about?
Short version: My daily musings in creative curiosities.
Long version: Pinegate Road is really a place for me to place all of my creative ventures, my inspirations, and my likings and lovings. It’s named after the road I lived on growing up as a metaphor for my personal creative journey. It doesn’t specifically cover any one topic, and it has a tendency to meander into different subject matter beyond just art and design—like health and exercise or recipes I’ve been experimenting with. Nothing has really been defined, but I hope that through my own journey it can inspire others to look further into their own creative processes and inspirations from daily life.

When did you start blogging + what made you decide to go for it?
I started journaling online about twelve years ago. Back then I was scouring the internet through websites like diaryland and live journal sharing intimate stories of my teenagerdom for all to see—weirdo alert! While I took a break from that when college hit, I believe this background was why I reached out to blogging as an output for my creative process when I started grad school. After a year of intense study and being completely over-saturated with design theory, I needed a creative outlet that was for me and my process alone. Then, a little over a year ago Pinegate Road was born. I didn’t have much of a premise for the start of Pinegate Road other than to keep it focused around things that inspire me and to have an outlet for creative ventures. It’s treated me well.

behind the blog / pinegate road

Walk us through your typical day. How much time per day/week do you devote to your blog?
Oh wow, well my typical day has been anything but typical lately after being on break from the holidays! I start school again this week, and now my typical day starts around 6:30AM or 8AM—depending on that morning class I’m taking. I always start the day with a cup of coffee and a green smoothie. I’m the designer for my school’s athletics program, so on any given day I’m probably off to the office for a couple hours, heading back home to work on the blog or some homework, or off to another class. I try to fit in a long walk around Forsyth park every day, but that doesn’t always happen. Walking seriously helps keep me sane, and it helps to give me some time to reflect on blog posts or a project that I’m working on. I’d say I try and devote about 10-15 hours a week to blogging when I’m on my game. It doesn’t always happen, and sometimes I work a lot more on it—it all depends on how my work flow is going.

behind the blog / pinegate road

How do you manage your time + stay organized?
I have been using the Day Designer by Whitney English for a couple months now, and it has seriously been saving my butt. Here’s a review that I wrote about it and all the reasons why it has helped me so much as a creative. My new years resolution is to start saying no—or really reviewing my boundaries when it comes to saying yes to new things. As a semi-noobie designer I want to try and take on everything so that I can have as many experiences as possible before I head out into the ‘real world.’ I’m finally realizing at what cost taking on too much has done to living my life the way I’d like to, and saying no is really helping with staying organized in all facets of my life. My best advice for this is to take on too much, go crazy, and then reevaluate. Life’s a journey, and we’re all going to find our own paths and ways to our particular balance.

How do you keep your imagination flowing + get past creative funks when they do sneak in?
Walking. There is just something about repetitive, almost mediative behaviors and the creative flow. I’m realizing as I write all this I sound a lot more zen than I am or feel in real life. Please don’t let all this jabber fool you, I’m generally running in about twenty different directions all at the same time. I’ve come to the conclusion with my blog that when a creative funk hits, I just don’t blog. It hasn’t been worth it to me to post when I’m feeling uninspired. I’m sure as the blog grows this mind-set might have to change, but while I’m still in school and working, I’m thinking this is ok for now. When I’m working for clients or on a project at school, creating word association maps and mood boarding usually always help to get me out of a creative funk and help me see something in a new light. Oh, and research. Intensive research is always helpful, even if it’s obscure and about world war two razzle dazzle ships—you never know how that might change your perception on a pattern you’re trying to create. True story.

behind the blog / pinegate road

Do you have any quick + easy post ideas for those days when you’re short on time or inspiration? 
The color studies column I have always comes together quickly, so it’s nice to have when I do lack that inspiration. Sometimes I’ll find an inspiring photo on pinterest that corresponds with my current frame of reference, and I’ll just write about what’s going on in my life. I try not to get too personal, but I think a little behind-the-blog action is necessary once in a while.

What are a few business/blogging resources ( online or offline ) that have been beneficial for you?
I read everything that Jessica Hische writes. I think she has been through exactly where I hope to head one day, and it’s been great to read about those experiences and her advice for art students. I love reading columns of the business of design by other bloggers like Breanna Rose and Design Love Fest. I’m also in the middle of reading Blog inc., and I’ve been recommending this to friends who are looking to start blogs. I also love attending Blog Brunch when I’m free on those Saturdays.

Beyond having a space to share my inspirations and creations on a regular basis blogging has helped me connect with other creatives in ways I never thought imaginable.

How has blogging influenced your life + relationships?
Beyond having a space to share my inspirations and creations on a regular basis blogging has helped me connect with other creatives in ways I never thought imaginable. I’ve made so many new connections that I can now call friends through blogging. Ms. sappy-pants over here—you guys are great :) I’ve even been able to kindle some real-life friendships through blogging—like last month when I went to Jacksonville and met Jordan in person! How cool is that? Blog world is out of control awesome. It’s also helped me connect with a lot of friends from the past. I’ll hear from people on Facebook that I haven’t talked to in a while, and they’ll tell me they made one of my recipes, or really like a certain column I do—I’m constantly amazed at how blogging has helped me make deeper connections with people and my surroundings.

behind the blog / pinegate road

How has your blog impacted your business?
In every way possible. While I was doing a little freelance before blogging, it’s now become a steady source of income that I can contribute entirely to my blog. While I’m taking a little break to write my thesis this quarter, blogging has given me the confidence to follow my dreams in design. I have a lot of plans for the future, and I know that starting Pinegate Road set the stage for what I have in store.

How much of your life offline do you share on your blog? How does this effect your readers’ ability to connect with you?
I’ve been struggling with this since I’ve started blogging. Right now I try to keep my readers in the loop about the general happenings in my life but I stray away from daily details. I share more about my personal life on twitterinstagram, and facebook so if readers want to learn more about me beyond the blog they have the opportunity to follow along there. In a recent post I made nods to my love life, and that was something I’ve never done before. I think this is something that I definitely have to play around with to test my own limits. I hope that by opening up more my readers will be able to see me beyond my design and the blog.

behind the blog / pinegate road

What has been the key to success for you as a blogger? Especially when you were new to the blog world.
Reaching out. After having a few months of posts under my belt, and a design I was proud of, I started reaching out to bloggers to see if I could guest post / be featured / or help out in any way possible. While I can be shy at times, I’m a firm believer in the fact that you can’t get what you don’t ask for. I reached out to Erin Leochner at Design for Mankind when she announced that she was pregnant and needing some help on the blog, and then next thing I knew I was contributing a bi-weekly column on typography. It’s all about putting yourself out there and being confident in what you have to offer. Even if you’re turned down—and I have been plenty—you’re one step closer to building the blog you want to build and getting experience under your belt.

Any further advice for fellow bloggers?
Experiment. Blogging is a personal—or communal in some cases—journey, and experimenting with different content, columns, etc. will push you further in your abilities.

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connect with kelsey: blog / twitter / pinterest / facebook / instagram

read more behind the blog posts

design elements by CREATE LIKE CRAZY design studio

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry ( + a giveaway )

We’re starting up a new CLC series ( to go along with the behind the blog series ) getting to know the people behind the businesses we love. Today Taylor is taking us behind the local business, Claire Sommers Buck Jewelry. ( don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post! ) 

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

I met up recently with Claire ( at CLC’s favorite coffee shop ) to discuss her jewelry line as well as her creative spirit. I was touched by how open she was. She shared lots of information with me and opened my eyes to the process that goes into everything she creates.

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

Claire learned her craft after attending a weekend workshop in Texas. She was given a lot of initial information about materials and was shown how to cut and hammer metal. She was so blown away that she took it on more and more. Friends and family started to say “I want one of those!” when they saw her work. She later attended Penland School of Crafts, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, for more formal training. A teacher there, Amy Tavern, helped her learn how she could turn her craft into a business. This experience encouraged Claire to jump out there and gave her the confidence to know she could really do it.

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

When Claire returned to Texas, she longed to travel abroad like her friends were. Her mom encouraged her to pursue her business instead, and offered her a small loan to help.  She immediately rented a space at a small jewelry studio in Austin and began her journey. While she wasn’t going to a far off place, she was traveling down a road that many people never go down, and it has lead her to the inspiring place she is at today.

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

CLC: Who or what has influenced your work the most? Do you find that changes from time to time? 
CSB: Probably my parents, in fact, definitely. They are so supportive. They made their craft (pottery) into a business and have been at it for 30 yrs. They always encourage me in the arts. They also just lead by example; they’ve done it and they’ve been successful. I think their dedication and sticking with it has taught me a lot.

CLC: What would we find in your studio if we looked at it right now?
CSB: You would find a huge mess! I try to keep things organized, but then when I do, I can’t find anything! I have a traditional jeweler’s bench which I got from my grandfather, who was a jeweler. Unfortunately he passed away before I really got into jewelry making; he mostly did fine jewelry casting and had a jewelry store. I got a lot of his tools. I have a couple chalkboard for my to-do lists, my jewelers torch, an inspiration board…it’s a cool space.

CLC: Do you have a time of day that you like to work in your studio best?
CSB: I like the mornings, although I don’t always get in there but the light in the morning is great in there. I like it best when it’s quiet…so early in the morning or late at night.

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

CLC: Do you ever get a creative block?  
CSB: Yes, for sure!

CLC: How do you get past them? ( creative blocks )
CSB: Most of my designs, I don’t really plan them out. I try to draw certain things but they really come to form when I work in the material. I made this custom ring for example; I designed it out on paper first and when it came to actually working with the material I realized it wasn’t actually what I wanted.  I like to look at some ethnic jewelry books for shapes and other design elements and then just grabbing some material and just playing with it works too. Even if it’s a material I’ve already approached before I will cut it again and see what I can do differently. Usually getting out of the studio helps too. I like The Cummer a lot.

**Claire recommends the African Photography exhibit that is going on now through Dec 30th at The Cummer. 

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

CLC: What is your favorite piece you’ve made in your collection and why?
CSB: I really like the turquoise shield ring – it’s pretty big and I got the idea from an African jewelry book. It comes over your knuckle and looks like a shield. It’s pretty hard to make! But it’s good cause it challenges my skills. With production jewelry, it’s hard for me to spend too much time on one particular thing because time for an artist is pretty valuable. To sell things as a production jeweler you essentially sell them at a wholesale rate. Some that take much longer have to have the price adjusted because of the time it took to make it.

CLC: The girls at CLC are extremely supportive of handmade and local small businesses. Name a few of your favorite artists whose work you love or businesses you support!
CSB: Crystal FloydRed Met Yellow CreativeVioletFeather HawkJohn Comey and Tony Amaros (jewelry at RAM)

CLC: Do you have any advice for people like yourself who want to pursue their creative desires as a profession?
CSB:Stick to it, work hard, and seek others doing similar things. Get advice from other people who are also pursuing a craft as a career. Then you create a community and can bring more awareness to the handmade world”

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

behind the business: claire sommers buck jewelry / interview + giveaway

Giveaway: one pair of handcrafted earrings by from Claire Sommers Buck

TO ENTER: leave a comment + tell us who you’d give these lovely earrings to as a christmas gift.. or if you plan to keep them! ( we wouldn’t blame you )

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: 
1. like Claire Sommers Buck Jewelry on facebook ( say hello while you’re there! )
2. like Create Like Crazy on facebook
3. share the giveaway on your facebook page ( please leave a link to the post in your comment )
+ leave a separate comment for each!

DETAILS: Giveaway ends Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at midnight. One winner will be chosen at random and notified by email on Wednesday.

GOOD LUCK!

A huge thank you to Claire for generously sharing her time and talents with us!

_____________________________________________________________________________

portrait of Claire by Red Met Yellow Creative )

product photography by Taylor Laura Photography for create like crazy )

check out claire’s site

read other CLC interviews

design elements by CREATE LIKE CRAZY design studio

inter[view] / 06

Happy Monday! I’m super excited to have Amanda of Hey, I Love You Photography sharing a peek into her life with us today! She lives in Jacksonville and I’ve never met her. This needs to change! Looks like we have the same happy place too…
inter[view] with photographer amanda lenhardt of hey i love you photography

inter[view] with photographer amanda lenhardt of hey i love you photography

inter[view] with photographer amanda lenhardt of hey i love you photography

connect with Amanda: website / blog / twitter / instagram

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read more inter[view] posts here

guilty / wishlist / other images by Amanda )

design elements by CREATE LIKE CRAZY design studio

inter[view] / 05

It’s time for another inter[view]! The super talented photographer Alexis Mire is back. This time to share a little bit behind the scenes!

interview with photographer alexis mireinterview with photographer alexis mireinterview with photographer alexis mire

connect with Alexis: website / flickr 

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read more inter[view] posts here

( guiltywishlist / other images by Alexis )

design elements by CREATE LIKE CRAZY design studio