Hey guys! So happy to share that I’m now a teacher on Skillshare! Earlier in the summer, they contacted me to see if I’d be interested in teaching a class on pattern design and I’ll admit that at first, that sounded a little bit daunting. But I’ve tried to adopt the philosophy ‘if it scares you, you should do it’ and with that in mind, I got on board. And man, am I glad that I did! It’s so invigorating to push yourself to new places and for me, one of those places was video. The idea of being filmed was kind of nerve-wracking. But with lots of planning and practice, and the luxury of being able to work with a videographer, Carlos from Kinetic Form, that I knew personally, it was actually a totally rewarding experience. And he was able to edit out all the awkward
When I started creating repeat patterns of my own, I didn’t know where to start, and I fumbled my way through the process, teaching myself. I eventually picked up some books that were helpful to me and the more patterns I did, the more that I refined my method. In my Skillshare class, I walk through my process from start to finish, from gathering inspiration, creating mood boards, drawing and digitizing, and then bringing it into illustrator and assembling each piece of the pattern with love. We also touch on collections and creating production-ready artwork. If you’re interested in patterns and want to try it out, or are a designer looking to see another designer’s process, check it out. The class is built to go at your own pace and the lessons themselves are under an hour in total so it’s not daunting.
PLUS: We’re doing a giveaway! Enroll and submit a final pattern and the person who submits my favourite pattern will win an Elizabeth Olwen Prize Pack, with products from Madison Park as well as a bundle of fabrics from Wildwood, my next Cloud9 fabrics collection!
Check out my promo video and sign up HERE to take the class!
Last week I wrote a post about the local Toronto love for Nuvango, and I’ve got more local love to write about, in form of an event coming up in a few weeks here in my city! I am so very, very pleased to announce the Canadian Launch event of Wildwood, my next collection with Cloud9 Fabrics on September 26-28! Wildwood is my second fabric collection with them and I’m so super thrilled about it. I got my advanced yardage of it and it turned out absolutely beautifully!!
The event is being presented by Warp & Weft (a local online retailer of beautiful fabrics – Canadian fabric lovers rejoice!) as part of their Warp & Weft Weekends series. Hosted by Re:style Studio, a beautiful space in the city for upholstery workshops! With an Afternoon Tea Workshop to create this beautiful Forest Glen Satchel with the super-talented Thread Riding Hood!
The weekend is built around Wildwood’s theme, and will have fun little british twists. Friday night will begin with a Maker’s Talk and social event (RSVP here) — I’ll be talking about my inspiration behind the collection and sipping on cocktails with all of you lovely folks that can attend. The Afternoon Tea workshop (register here) will be on the Saturday. And Sunday will be open house. You are all welcome to come at any point during the weekend as we’ll be doing a pop-up shop with lots of my products, fabrics from Warp & Weft and Re:style’s collection as well.
I’ve shown some images below but if you’re interested in hearing more about the event, check out this incredible post Sherri from Thread Riding Hood put together about the event.
Visit the Warp & Weft Weekend website to RSVP/register by September 17th! I’m so hoping to see a bunch of you there
Hey guys! You know when you hear that something good is happening in your town or city, and you just get that extra little feeling of pride? And you know when you hear that something AMAZING is happening in your city, you want to shout it from the rooftops and spread the word and want so much for them to succeed? Well that’s how I feel about Nuvango.
Nuvango is the company formerly known as Gelaskins, and they largely produced tech cases. But seeing that they’ve got an ever-expanding range of products (like playstation covers! genius!) I think the rebrand was a great idea (plus I love the new logo). I met Cale from Nuvango at Surtex this year it turns out that I live a neighbourhood away from their offices here in Toronto. Cale invited me to their office to check out how they work and I was just so impressed. I left with a full heart, feeling like I was just so happy and proud to see that they are absolutely killin’ it in terms of what they do and how they do it. They’ve got super efficient processes set up so every tech-case order that comes in leaves the building in 24 hours (gotta say, that’s much better than Society6 which often takes up to 3 weeks!), their products are done beautifully and everyone was super friendly and it was just a great experience. They currently make tech cases of all sorts, stretched canvases, and their art prints & framing were gorgeous! They’re also expanding into all sorts of fun new product categories (like home decor) so stay tuned for fun stuff. I was blown away.
So it’s with pride and pleasure that I launch my Nuvango shop! As some of you know, my next fabric collection (Wildwood) launches this month! So I thought it would fun to launch my new shop with a line of iPhone cases in Wildwood patterns. Check’em out! And thanks for reading.
Hellooooo! Just wanted to share some fun new products that are available exclusively with online retailer (and Toronto-based) Brika! A few months ago, Brika got in touch with me to see how we might be able to work together. I’d been contemplating developing some kind of tangible product myself for a while, and had been playing around with a lot of quotes and type-meets-image, and voila — the Olwen-Brika partnership was formed! The prints are available exclusively through Brika and I wanted to share them with you.
The prints are beautiful, matte archival art prints that I had printed at a fabulous giclée shop in my neighbourhood in DundasWest in Toronto. They’re 8×10 and there are 8 different prints available, some based on my patterns and some based on some of my favourite quotes. They sell for $25 and once they’re gone, they’re gone, so get ‘em while they’re hot!
Hey guys! Well it’s been a whirlwind summer full of exciting new opportunities and I can’t wait for another year to tell you about them! Haha so true. But the good thing about it is, if you keep things going steady, you have something to look forward to sharing when the time comes. Which brings me to this post. About a year ago, I was invited by a new client of mine to go to South Carolina (some of you might remember that I posted about it here) and got to stay in a completely amazing estate — it was an experience I will never forget. At the time I couldn’t share what the opportunity was all about, so I’m thrilled to finally be able to share!
I was invited down by my fabulous client Springs Creative (the sweetest, loveliest people ever) who manufactures all sorts of textile-based goodies, including fabrics for stores like Joann Fabric & Craft. I’m so excited to finally tell you that it’s official — I’ve got fabrics in Joann stores as of now! We don’t actually have Joann in Canada but when I went into one in South Carolina last year my jaw dropped. It was AMAZING and full of a beautiful fabrics and notions and trims and it was heavenly for a person who loves to sew.
The fabrics are part of a modern quilting line they’ve been developing. The first of which, Jenny Eliza, was by Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom and was gorgeous. There are two collections, Fairytale Gardens (the pink/grey/mustard palette) and Retro Morocco (the red/blue palette), and both collections were featured on the recent quilting catalogue Joann put out. I’ve shown a few pics of them below and will share more as I have more time to sew them up into goodies. The fabrics are super soft and feel so good under your fingertips. You can see them in use on the front of the Joann catalogue shown below, don’t they look lovely?
The fabrics are in stores this week so ask in your local store! They are also available online but are pretty tricky to find right now so check back in a week or follow me on Twitter and I’ll post when I have direct links to buy them online. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!
Hello out there! It’s been a bit since I posted anything but I’ve been busy working away on great new projects in my studio, one of which I’m super excited to FINALLY share. About a year ago I was lucky enough to connect with the lovely folks at Land of Nod, and I cannot tell you how excited I was when I started working on a bedding collection with them! I think a lot of young surface designers make a list of dream clients and hope one day to see the dreams become reality. For me, Land of Nod was one of those at the very top of the list. So the whole thing kinda blew my mind. And after I sat, wide-eyed and trying to process what was happening, I did a happy dance. And for the past year, I’ve felt like I was going to burst because I wanted to tell everyone how excited I was about it.
We designed a baby bedding collection that was themed around the idea of the nest, which I think is an adorable theme for wee humans and is aptly named the Well Nested collection. The designs feature acorns, branches, berries, feathers and all sorts of other cute motifs from nature. They also rolled it out to toddler bedding and kids bedding AND get this — the kids designs are available in double and queen size! And while I know the bedding was intended for kids, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep myself from getting some (of my own sheets) of my own.
It’s been so amazing working with Land of Nod, and I’m soooo stoked that we actually have more products coming out together for fall (like this super cute pavilion) and for the holiday season too. You know I’ll be sharing them when the time comes. As always, thanks for following along! xoxo
Hellooooooo!! Writing this post is extra special because I got to meet so many of you at Surtex this time around! Honestly, I had no idea so many of you have been following along on my little art journey. I work in a bubble, as many of us do, and my main connection to other designers is through the internet. So was so nice to meet so many of you in real life. Surtex this year was amazing! I was so happy with how everything went and all the amazing folks I met — both clients, artists and new friends. And let me tell you, It was so much easier the second time around! I was far more relaxed about the whole thing, and while I had my momentary freak-outs and bouts of nausea, overall I was able to take things as they came this year and trust that I’d done as much as I could do. Here are some of my post-show thoughts on the second time around.
The Surtex Cheerleading Squad
I really want to thank you guys for stopping by and being so ridiculously sweet! It felt so special to have people come up to me and say that I’d had some effect on their journey, or that my work had inspired them in some way, or had given them a push to get moving and follow their dreams (*wipes tears*). All business things aside, I came home with a full, full heart, and I thank you all so much for that. Surtex can be scary. You’re putting it all out there, and you can’t help but have your moments of doubt and feel overwhelmed. The week before Surtex I was convinced it was going to be a flop! All of your hugs and words of support and good energy really relaxed me and gave me that extra boost. It was surreal and amazing and just… wow.
Second time around
Leading up to my first Surtex, I heard from many people that manufacturers wouldn’t give you a shot the first time around. They wanted to see you year after year to see if you’re serious about it. Last year I thought things went really well and felt that people were totally open but I did feel vulnerable and hopeful and all ‘please please please work with me’. This year, going in with a bit more experience and some clients under my belt, I felt it made a difference. Clients did seem happy to hear it was my second time exhibiting. The playing field was a little more even, and I felt like the vibe was all about a mutual collaboration. I’m really happy about the companies I met and can’t wait to see what happens this year. I also felt that people this year were willing to meet me in the middle when it comes to licensing — last year it seemed like everyone was looking to buy outright. Could just be coincidence, but I’ll take it.
It’s okay if you’re not for everyone
Surtex draws people from all sorts of companies, and honestly, most of them are not going to be looking for the type of work you do. For me, I would guesstimate that less than 10% of the people attending Surtex would be looking for the *type* of work I do, and an even smaller proportioned would like my work. (I could have skipped the part where one particular guy walked by and snarkily said loud enough to hear “oh, everyone is doing that” (whatever “that” means). But what I figured out this time around was that that’s okay — because there were also people that would walk up with eyes full of wonder (so touching)! The thing is, I don’t want to work with companies that don’t get me. I don’t want to have to stretch so far out of my comfort zone that I’m not myself anymore. I’m looking for great, solid, reciprocal partnerships that I can feel good about and get behind and want to share with the world. My holiday patterns will not punch you in the face with red-and-green festive Santa spirit, because that’s just not me. Plus, there are other people out there that are really good at it. I’ve come to realize what people respond to most with my work, and it’s the stuff that I feel best about too. At the end of the day, I’m a lofty artist chasing her dreams and dream clients, and I’ve gotta to stay true to myself. That whole ‘integrity’ thing. (Side note: I did get a lot of holiday requests though… I had some, but I fully admit that I should do more… in my style!)
He’s Just Not That Into You
Did you ever read that book? Sadly, I did. It would have said that if someone doesn’t write you back, they’re just not that into you. But the licensing world doesn’t work that way. Last year, I followed up with my contacts after Surtex and a few times after that… but honestly, I got very few replies. Just like when you submit artwork and never hear anything back, it can be discouraging. Am I annoying these people? Do they even want to get these emails? Should I stop? This year, it was encouraging to have people stop by and say they’d gotten the emails and liked my work — even if they never replied to me, it helped me understand that they see this stuff, they’re just busy. It’s so hard to be patient but people who walk the show aren’t *necessarily* looking for artwork at that exact moment in time but they will be a few months (or a year! or two!) down the road. So if you don’t hear back right away, it doesn’t mean they’re not into you.
Social media – it works!
I always figure that the more avenues I have to get in front of people, the better. And this proved to be beneficial this year. I met people who’d seen my video, my feature in Uppercase, listened in on my webinar, saw my Look Book, followed on Facebook or Instagram, or saw my work on Pinterest… Creating lots of pathways equals exposure, equals opportunities!
Art Crush Central
I was so happy that I got to meet sooooo many amazing people and some of my biggest art crushes too! Highlights were meeting Grace Bonney from Design Sponge (if I were to include exclamation marks, you would never get to the end of this post), Lisa Congdon, Ashley Goldberg, Helen Dardik, Carolyn Gavin, Flora Waycott, Sarah Watson, the girls from Dotty Wren and Forest Foundry, Victoria Johnson, Ana Victoria Calderon, Ana Davis, Jennifer Paganelli… I could go on!
An Annual Business Meeting
I also got the chance to meet with some of my favourite clients outside of the show — an all-too-rare occurrence. I’ve come to look at Surtex as a sort of ‘annual business meeting’ where I actually get to see my clients face to face. It’s invaluable to have that human connection. You get such a better understanding of what’s happening in their world (and your part in it) when you can sit, have a glass of wine, and have a good old fashioned chit chat. I’m so lucky to have such awesome clients… some of which I can’t tell you about quite yet, but I’ll be able to soon! I’m terrible at keeping secrets!
A gigantic thank you
First, a big shout out to the amazing and incredibly sweet and helpful Anna London. Anna and I met online and she’d been wondering about exhibiting at Surtex, and we worked it out so she would come help with setting up my booth and could walk the show and get the experience first hand. Anna was amazing! And so easy-going and crazy helpful and was such a generous trooper. Her help was invaluable and she put up with me and my scatterbrained direction and met it all with a smile. Thank you, Anna!!!!
And finally… to my amazing friend Sam, who you would have met if you stopped by my booth. This is her 2nd time helping me at Surtex and she is such an incredible, supportive, generous sidekick. You know you’ve got a true friend when she will give up a week of her busy life running her own Interior Design business to come and be by your side and help in any way she can. To be genuinely HAPPY for you when good things happen and share in your excitement, to be a cheerleader and believer. Whole-hearted supporter. Endlessly patient. Expert note-taker (my own personal Joan Hollaway). Amazing friend. Sammy, I cannot thank you enough!!!!!!! I hope we are all so lucky to have the kind of people in our lives that will do that for us. (*wipes more tears*)
I can’t believe it’s over for another year! But hopefully this life-consuming event will lead to more fabulous opportunities this year — so far, so good. My follow-ups are taken care of and I’m going to try and sneak in a much-needed staycation now that the sun has arrived and do all the things I couldn’t get to for the months before Surtex. And enjoy the feeling of relaxation until it’s time to do it all over again.
Thanks for reading!!! I’ll leave you with some pics from my booth, which felt just like home.
My booth! I got a corner booth this time and loved it.
And it was soooo awesome having real life products this year!! And it really did help when meeting with clients. It seemed easy for them to envision products with my patterns having seen real life examples and seeing that I’ve worked with other companies already.
Surtex is just around the corner — it’s only 16 days away, which is the blink of an eye when there’s much to be done. Last year, for my debut at Surtex, I did an online Look Book that got such an amazing response from people, that I simply had to do it again. It may seem as though I’ve gone look book crazy (I recently did one for my Grey Abbey fabric line with Cloud9) but hey, they just make sense! So, without further ado… my Surtex 2014 Look Book! Fake it till you make it, right?
So Surtex is just about 2 weeks away. I have butterflies just writing this — so exciting, so scary! I think back to last year when I was exhibiting for the first time and have to say that I’m a million times more chilled out about everything this year… once you have the experience, you know what to expect and it’s a lot less scary. So, I thought I would share a few last minute tips for new exhibitors! Things that would have comforted me last year had I known, things that could come in handy, and a little reassurance. For the record, I am by no means a pro at this, like the fabulous Surtex guru Tara Reed, who is responsible for holding my hand last year via her super-informative Surtex e-books — but I think the first time is the hardest time, and seeing that it still feels quite fresh, I thought this might help someone out there.
Print your forms!
Okay, this is important — make sure you bring documentation of everything related to the show (or if you have access to it on a mobile device, that’s fine too). Everything is probably going to go smoothly, but you just never know when something pops in and tries to mess with your flow, and you just want to make sure you’re prepared. The show is run by GLM/Surtex, but the facilities are outsourced to the Javits — so there is a little room for error. Example: last year, I ordered a tall table (vs. the shorter table) for my booth, but when I arrived there was a short table at my booth. I thought, no problem — I’ll just go find someone to replace it. But the Javits staff, while friendly, said their instructions showed I should have a short table. They said that they would swap it out for me, but that if I didn’t have a record showing I’d booked the tall table, I would be charged a labour fee which was something crazy, like $300 or something. A bunch of people ran into this situation and LUCKILY, I had printed the confirmation and hopefully everyone else had too. Basically what I’m saying is, it never hurts to cover your arse. If you ordered shelves or special furniture — bring the confirmation, and the placement form for where you’d asked for things to be installed. Your registration badge confirmation — bring it. Basically any confirmations you received — bring it with you!
3M is your friend
So many Surtex exhibitors *swear* by 3M command strips, and I am one of them. They are incredible. I used 5 small command strips per banner and they weren’t going anywhere. Plus, they’re easy to pull off at the end and leave no markings — something to keep in mind, because you are responsible for leaving the booth walls in the same condition as when you started.
Bring cleaning supplies!
You’ve probably already thought about this, but it’s a must! Last year I ordered shelves for my booth and they were in fine condition, but they were *filthy*. But they cleaned up just fine with some of those cleaning wipe thingies.
Last year I read that you couldn’t stand on the chairs to hang banners, as a safety concern. And a legit one at that. But coming from Canada on a plane, I was wondering how the heck I was going to manage bringing a stool or ladder with me — I am short, so a small foot stool wasn’t going to cut it for me. In the end, I left it at home and it all worked out just fine. Those chairs are sturdy… but please don’t quote me on this.
This was another great tip from Tara Reed. If you’re at your booth and starving, you don’t want to be pulling out a big dish of spaghetti from under your booth to sneak a bite when nobody is looking. I had a few friends helping me last year, letting me go for lunch breaks and things, which was extremely helpful so I didn’t really have to eat food at my booth. But sometimes after 5 hours of standing there, you’re going to need to shove something in your mouth. I had some easy-to-eat snacks under my table, like nuts, dried fruit, crackers, grapes, small easy-to-eat things. It’s like on Top Chef when they have to cater a gala and are told to prepare an amuse-bouche. If you must eat at your booth, you don’t want to be caught eating awkward food.
Be prepared with your terms
Try to go into the show with your terms figured out — do you sell artwork or only license? Are you willing to do flat-rate licensing agreements or are you strictly about royalties? What are you willing to budge on for the right client? Last year, I had a ton of people ask if I sold my artwork outright and I was so new to the game that I wanted to make everyone happy and just didn’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone. I still don’t, and I will always try and make it work if it’s someone that I want to work with — but if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. If you aren’t particularly interested in the product category or don’t see that working with a company will bring value to your business, don’t back down and sell artwork. You’ve gotta look out for yourself. Don’t compromise if you’re not going to be happy with the deal. Try and go in with a clear vision of what you’d like to do and do you best to stick to it. It’s good to think about this before the show so you’re not caught off guard!
Be right back
This might be obvious, but just in case you didn’t think of it (there are a million other things to think about). If you have to leave your booth to run to the washroom, and you don’t have anyone there helping you, at least leave a sign saying you’ll be back in 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose out on that dream client who stopped by at an inopportune time. I swear, last year, every time I left my booth some awesome client would stop by and I’d curse the timing of it all… so it can happen.
I haven’t heard much about this but I think they do it every year — last year they had a happy hour thing after the show on Monday. Free drinks and the chance to chat with some other exhibitors. Also, there are usually some social events for Surtex exhibitors so keep your ears open in case there are. Last year I missed it but Monica Lee had hosted an event and lots of exhibitors went. A nice way to actually be able to chat with people — not so easy during show hours.
You made it! You really made it!
It was such a surreal experience walking into the Javits centre with all my booth supplies last year, trying to find the booth that I would call home for 3 days and had the opportunity to be a game-changer. Be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge, for getting there, for all of your super hard work. And enjoy it, savour every second. Greet every person that walks by with a welcoming smile. And remember to keep your chin up — there will be some slow periods, and your work won’t be the best fit for every client that walks by, but keep your eye on the prize and focus on the good connections you’ve made. And the new friends you’ve made. And the fact that you made it to NYC and competed in an international marketplace for something that you’re passionate about!
And then breathe…
I relied on adrenaline to keep me going through the show and keeping my energy levels up. Last year, I felt very much alive and excited about everything until 5pm on the last day, when the show officially closed, and I literally just dropped behind my booth and burst into tears. This might sound crazy, but it was just the whole experience coming to a close — a mix of joy and exhaustion. I was so happy, but I also felt my body breaking down and giving in. Give yourself a nice relaxing evening, a low key and healthy dinner, a good dose of vitamin C, and a good night’s rest. And hopefully you have some time to enjoy the city before you ship out.
Best of luck at the show everyone! Looking forward to meeting you all, so soon!!
(I’m at booth 741!)
*****I got a few emails with other questions today so I thought I’d add them to the mix! *****
I didn’t get electrical for my booth. I used an iPad to present my portfolio, and as long as I charged up the batteries before I left for the show in the morning, mine lasted all day long with no issue. Tara Reed mentioned that if you run out, you can use the exhibitor centre upstairs to grab some power if needed. But again, I didn’t need it! But on the same topic… Last year I needed to iron some things, and had posted on the Surtex Linkedin group to see if there would be outlets. I was assured there would be some for us to use, but when I got there, the power source mentioned wasn’t there. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find power and was told by the Javits staff that we weren’t supposed to use it. We ended up sneaking around to make it happen, but this year, just to be safe, I’m just going to iron everything at the hotel!
Ahhhh, the eternal issue of flameproofing! I don’t think anyone is clear on this! But this is what I was told last year when I asked, and it’s the same explanation this year. Basically, if you have fabric in your booth and it has your artwork on it — then you’re all set. No need to flameproof. BUT if you have linens in your booth that don’t have artwork on them, those should be flameproofed. Honestly, the rationale doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me — fire doesn’t exactly discriminate — but I suppose it would be tricky for people to only show products that were flameproofed so they’ve made concessions. If in doubt, there are apparently special flame-proofing ‘dips’ you can use to dip your fabrics in and it flameproofs them but I didn’t have luck tracking them down. But if the fabric has your artwork on it, you’re good to go.
Hey guys! I’ve been having a ton of fun with my new fabrics with Cloud9 — so much that I thought we should put together a little look book to show you, and hopefully inspire you to get sewing yourselves half as much as it inspired me.
I grew up sewing… My mum always used to sew clothes for us when my sister and I were kids and they always felt so special. She had tons of old sewing patterns that she’d kept from the 60s and 70s — I’ve always loved things from those years. Patterns for groovy baby doll dresses and bellbottoms, butterfly-collared tennis dresses, fun little mini skirts… I mean, I would wear all of those clothes even now. And so when I was about 12, I started sewing myself, and was sewing well into my 20s. I even had my own sewing business in my University dorm. My “clients” ranged from 19-year old guys who didn’t know how to sew a button on, to girls who spent their loan money on expensive jeans and needed them hemmed, to my favourite client who was a raver guy and wanted to make a statement in the club scene. I sewed him a pair of gigantic orange fun fur pants, and another pair of silver vinyl pants with yellow racing stripes. I have no idea how he could dance in them, fun fur and vinyl aren’t exactly breathable fabrics, but hey, that was none of my business. As life got busier and jobs took over my spare time, sewing took a back seat. But I’ve always known I’d go back to it. And what better motivator than to be able to sew with my own fabrics?
So, I’m happy to share with you my Grey Abbey Look Book. I had so much fun sewing! I’d like to give a shout out to the other awesome people that helped me put this together! First, Cloud9 Fabrics, who designed the super sweet tech cover, and the amazing quilt!! Next, a lovely sewist named Anne-Rose, who is an 80-year old Austrian lady that my mum introduced me to, who sewed all of the ladies dresses that I’m wearing (can’t wait to show them off at Surtex!). And a big thank you to my amazing and talented friend Nicole Winer, who sewed up some darling dresses for her adorable daughter Frankie. Nicole is one of the most talented people that I know. She is a knitwear designer and all around crafty lady, and she never ceases to amaze me. So, a big giant thank you to them!
Take a look at the full look book, and I also included the pictures below it in case you wanted to Pin them to your sewing boards! Thanks for reading!