Friday, 17 October 2014

Catching Up With Zoe Howard from Cushionopoly

With winter now officially done and dusted (with the exception of a few days here and there!) and the pretty blossoms of spring still popping up all over the place, its once again a good excuse to open the windows, move some furniture around and add some fresh fun colour to your home. 

Today in our catching up with series, Im excited to have Zoe Howard, founder and creator of one of Australia's up and coming interior homewares business, Cushionopoly.

Cushionopoly is an Australian owned business proudly located in Melbourne.  Zoe's designs are fresh, fun, affordable and becoming very popular (you may have seen some of her cushions in the Block Shop!) . I love the combination of a gorgeous classic linen fabric with a contemporary feel of the colour and pattern range.

So, without wasting any more of your precious time, here is lovely Zoe, sharing withus a bit about herself and her wonderful business.

1. A quick summary about you and why you started Cushionopoly.

I grew up in a beachside suburb in Perth, one of four kids – middle child. While studying for my journalism degree I worked at a newspaper in media sales which saw me fall into a career of advertising media sales instead. My passion for travel kicked in and saw me travel to London for a stint of work and play. My husband and I met while working at a magazine which was popular for travelling Australians and New Zealanders – TNT Magazine. After a bit more travel we ended up moving to Melbourne in 2005 and I moved into marketing. 

Three years ago after the birth of my son Gus, I was off on maternity leave for 12 months. Naturally being a first time mother I spent a great deal of time at home with much of it staring at all the improvements I wanted to make (ours was a renovators delight!). Unfortunately being on one wage for a year my budget was somewhat lacking. Being a homewares nut this did make me very frustrated and I looked to simple ways to make updates. So I started out trying to source cushion covers as this was the easiest, most affordable and environmentally friendly way to update what I already had. I looked high and low and just couldn’t find the style, colour or range I had in my head.  Everything was way too expensive or the quality wasn’t there. My mother-in-law is a keen crafter and she helped me re-establish my sewing skills and I started making my own.   When friends would come around to visit they would comment on the cushions and couldn’t believe that I had made them myself. A few friends put in custom orders!

So when Gus was about six months old I started to put a plan in place to build on this idea of creating handmade, beautiful and fun cushions but making them affordable too.

2. Describe your style.
I would say my style is vibrant and fun with clean and simple designs that catch the eye and bring a smile to the room.

3. An average day for you entails…
My day starts when Gus wakes up somewhere between 5am – 6am and then he gets into bed with me for a cuddle while I check out instagram J then it is dropping off Gus to daycare (he is in three days), going to the post office and sending off the previous days orders. I usually drop in and grab a takeaway coffee (sometimes a morning treat) from my favourite local cafĂ© Pure Italian and then it is back to the studio and I begin to go through my emails and orders and get back to new stockists and plan any social media I might be putting up that day. Lunch is whatever is in the fridge and then usually wait around for couriers to pick up wholesale orders in the afternoon while ordering supplies, working on any new designs and sewing up cushions. Then back to pick up Gus and get dinner started.  

4. Favourite  designers you take inspiration from?
 I work in a very inspiring community of people from fellow designers, makers, crafters, bloggers and instagrammers. I take inspiration froma so many places and images its almost impossible not to these days.

5.The room you love most in your home?
 I love my kitchen! We have renovated our 1960s home over the past year and we went for almost seven weeks without a kitchen (those of you who have kids you might understand that being without a kitchen, especially a sink, is a special kind of hell). So when it was finally installed I have never been more in love with a space then my new kitchen. Close second is my living room which does get all new cushions on the couch probably every three months.

6. Tea or coffee?
Tea definitely! My mum is British so I grew up always starting the day with a cup of fresh brewed tea (no tea bags for my mum and dad!). I love love love Earl Grey tea strong with a dash of milk.

7. What do you love most about having your own business?
I love the idea and feeling of endless opportunity and a sense of freedom to my life. To be able to get out of your business the hard work I put in is so very rewarding.

8. Favourite country destination?
My favourite country destination is Tasmania. My in-laws are poppy and sheep farmers from Cressy just out of Launceston. I spend a lot of my holidays in Tasmania and even launched my first screen printed range The Dark Horse there at Agfest.

9. Favourite colour combinations at the moment?
Peach and mint! It feels so fresh and summery.

10. Three items you can't currently live without?
Family, iphone and chocolate. 

A very big thank you for Zoe popping by and sharing with us her wonderful business.
All images courtesy of Cushionopoly.

And if your having a spring cleaning moment and looking for a easy, affordable and cheerful room makeover, click over to Cushionopoly's online store and check out their gorgeous cushion's. 

You can also find them at the Finders Keepers Markets in Melbourne held tonight and tomorrow.

Stay up to date by following on Instagram (@cushionopoly) and on Facebook.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Introducing……The Pink Paddock Store!

So, Im back again….this time with a glass of champagne in hand as I type.

Why, you may ask??? Well this afternoon I finally launched my new business- Pink Paddock Store.
Today has been filled with mixed emotions…stressed and anxious trying to get website finished, tired from a late night sorting and packaging cards, nervous about pressing that go LIVE button on site, and then extreme excitement as my first order came through only 20 minutes later! And not from a family member or friend either, I might add. Although I now consider Erin a good friend! Thank you Erin!!
Not long after a few more orders trickled through and I have to say its been overwhelming the support Ive had on the PPS Facebook page and Instagram feed. Thank you all so much x

But some info on Pink Paddock Store…..

Pink Paddock Store is a small boutique online stationery store, selling gift cards designed by me and printed by one of our local (and amazing) printers! Im proud to have a product that is made in rural Australia and supports local industry.

 Watermelon Card- Found here.

The current range is small and new designs will be added in the next few weeks. I also will have gift tags and (dare I say….) Christmas cards arriving soon too!
My aim is to beable to stock a good all round range that enables 'one stop' shopping and where you can browse through and find something that suits. I also want them to be colourful and fun! Afterall, receiving a card in the post always makes one smile!

The boxed sets are great value and will mean your stationery cupboard is stocked. I also love that they can be framed as well or just simply taped on the wall next to your computer for some fun and inspiration!

So, if you are a paper lover like me, and have a spare moment…I would love for you to pop over and visit my new store. There are some individual cards available, as well as postcards, box sets and some A4 Prints. Im also running a Promo until next Sunday the 19th October, 2014. All online purchases over $30 will receive a free A4 print (valued at $14.95). Conditions Apply- only valid for Australian postal addresses and the print is one pictured and is unframed.

If you would like to stay up to date with any Pink Paddock Store news you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

And if you feel like some online shopping this weekend I would love you to stop by!!!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Finding My Spring, Getting organised and a homemade Calendar!

Hello again…..!!! Its been a while I know. I got a little lost in winter and have only just found the energy to emerge again. 

Spring is by far, my favourite season. I love the blossoms and new green growth on all the trees. Everything starts to come alive again and that smell of 'bubblegum' can be smelt on those warm afternoons as the scent of new blooms waft through the air. I love that feeling of opening up all the doors and windows letting light and fresh air into the house. Jumpers and long sleeved tops are swapped for t-shirts and a wrap, the kids head outside earlier to play in the garden and Im not too fussed about whether they have shoes on or not. Slowly pockets of colour are appearing in the garden which make for perfect pickings for little vases inside. Spring brings back that bounce in my step that often gets lost towards the end of winter.

Which is kind of what happened….Back in July I suddenly felt tired and lacked the energy to keep on blogging. Im not quite sure why. At first I thought I would take just a week off, but a week turned into a month and a month turned into two! I read this post written by Janelle from the blog, A White Farm. It really resonated with me and probably explains where Ive been and why I needed this little break. The last few months have been busy nonetheless. The children are at a very busy age and there is always something happening. It gave me the chance to just hang out with the kids without the pressure of putting a 'post' together. As much as I enjoy this blog, the reality is, it does take time to prepare each post and then find the time to sit down and put everything together. I managed to get some pre spring cleaning done which is always a great feeling. Small clothes swapped for bigger clothes, winter for summer and storage boxes sorted through and tidied. My head had been feeling cloudy, and this tidy up certainly helped clear some air!

I had also been lucky enough to squeeze in a few fun things. In mid August, my lovely friend Mel, who lives up in Northern NSW invited me to join her and some girlfriends to attend Anneka Manning's Bakeclub Class which was held at Sophie Hanson's (Local is Lovely blog) Venison Farm in Orange. It was such a wonderful day and so worth the 14 hour round trip driving up to Orange. You can read more about the class here on Sophie's gorgeous blog. I can highly recommend Anneka's classes. Not only is she an amazing cook, but she is a great teacher and such a lovely, incredibly friendly and generous person. It was also lovely to meet Sophie, who is a fantastic host and made everyone feel so welcome at her gorgeous farm kitchen. If ever up near Orange, you must try and book in for a lunch at their farm. The class we did was all about pastry baking and I have to say I came home and made pastry every day for a week (slight overkill, but nothing beats homemade pastry, when it works!). My favourite recipe given by Anneka on the day was the Roasted Vegie Tart on a parmesan shortcrust pastry- just heavenly. We were also treated to a delicious lunch which Anneka and Sophie prepared for us during the class which included Blue Cheese & leek tarts, Chicken, Potato & thyme Pie, Vension Stout Pies, Spinach & Ricotta Pie and a Chocolate Pecan Tart. All amazingly delicious…..x
For anyone interested in attending a food styling and photography course being organised by Sophie this November….find more details here. This is definitely on my wishlist but I think Ive had my fun for the year! Im hoping she runs more next year….it sounds FANTASTIC!!!!

The other workshop I attended was at my friend Lisa's Flower School afternoon here in Echuca. 
A fun afternoon playing with flowers and meeting some lovely ladies.

Something else I was hoping to get on top of during the last few months was being more organised. I used to be organised, and then I had children! Normally these skills are supposed to improve but mine have got so bad of late. I love writing lists but dont always get everything ticked off at the end of the day. I have a diary which I have always used but for some reason I kept misplacing it and as a result not using it. I missed a few appointments, was late paying some bills and got a few dates mixed up, so I decided to go back to the old trusted calender system which I could position clearly in the kitchen and see what was going on- today, next week and all month.

I usually order calenders online through Shutterfly at the beginning of each year but this year…it just didnt happen. I also always fill the calender with our favourite photos of the kids taken throughout the previous years. Its always nice to reflect on what they looked like twleve months earlier. But as I was, um, dare I say, unorganised…and a tad time poor….I decided to change the theme of this years calender. I chose some photos I have taken and popped on instagram. Photos around the house- some of the garden, baking, etc. Its certainly no Country Style mag, but it brightens up the wall. And most importantly, I am feeling so much more organised because I see what we have on, when bills are due, when school holidays start and finish, preschool duty, playdates, visitors, etc. Another job ticked off the list!

There are lots of different companies you can choose to have calenders made with. In fact, the photo labs down at your local photo shop, K-Mart, Big W, Officeworks, etc all offer similar services too. Its a personal preference who you might like to use.

I have used Shutterfly the last 3 years and really happy with the price and quality. Loading photos takes a while so it pays to work out which ones you want to use and pop in a seperate file that you can easily upload. They have lots of themes and templates to choose from. Im very boring and just prefer a whole pic to page but if you feel the need for colour and patterns, there is plenty on offer. The other time consuming bit is entering in birthdays, annisversaries and other significant days. But once you have popped in your dates, as you have set up an account, it is remembered for future orders. Very handy!!! It is an american company so I did spend some time taking out the american holidays and adding the aussie days plus daylight savings, etc. This calender cost about $20 (with discount coupon) and was printed and delivered within the week. It really is a great service. I also adjusted the months so this calender started in July 2014 and goes through to end of June 2015. Yes- it caters for very unorganised folk like myself! These make great gifts for extended family especially at Christmas time, and especially ideal for those gifts that need posting! Just a thought….

On other news, Ive been working on a new business venture. Something I can do from home and juggle family as well as hopefully make a little bit of money. Im hoping to launch this new business in the next 2-3 weeks but will keep you all posted with whats going on. As a result, there will be a few changes with this blog. Actually, a complete makeover is the plan…but more of that in another week or so.

In the meantime, Thank you to everyone and anyone who has continued to follow my blog whilst Ive been underground. I hope to try and write a few posts a week but that will depend on family and home commitments…until next time xxx