MOONRISE meets the Makers

MOONRISE MAKERS Q&A

There is power in hand crafted gifts - they are made thoughtfully, slowly, and lovingly by hand with purposeful intent. We feel the true essence of these gifts through their slight imperfections and we identify with their flaws and embrace those imperfections.  

Makers use their hands as tools to continuously produce their wares using a methodical process to reproduce  - no two items look the same and imperfections add pure beauty to their goods.  This process is fascinating, takes time and patience.  Ironically this slow movement which has been dubbed with hashtags such as #slowliving and at times #livingauthentic, comes at a time when the world is moving at an abnormally fast pace - with technology being the catalyst.

The  maker movement is infectious, compelling, persuasive - we at Moonrise Creative are drawn deeply into it.  The handmade gifts we receive and the gifts we make all come from a common place- loving hands that create!  We want to touch those hands, get to know those hands and hear their stories of being, living and creating! We hope you'll follow us on our journey to Meet the Makers. 

At Moonrise we are passionate about handmade goods and the people "the makers" that make them - we encourage, support and form community. We created the Moonrise Makers Market as place to share those beautiful goods, bring together makers, our community and create an atmosphere of slow living. This past November we gathered in a beautiful studio with 20 artisans that are passionate about their craft and who love to create thoughtful hand made goods.  The Moonrise Meet the Makers series highlights some of these artist, crafters, creatives, makers -we share their stories about their business, craft and lives.  We hope you enjoy

Moonrise Q and A

WITH Marla Ebell - owner of Hold General

 

Marla Bell photo  credit Kelly Brown

Marla Bell photo  credit Kelly Brown

 

Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to open Hold General Store?

A general store has been on my mind for a very long time. I remember first chatting with my dad about the idea while I was in high school. I used to do marketing for my grandparents vegetable farm. After long harvest days, I would stay up all night before markets bundling vegetables in paper and string. I didn’t want the food my grandparents and I had grown and harvested with so much thought and intention to be sold in plastic bags and twist ties. Around that same time I studied holistic nutrition and herbal medicine and I would translate all my notes into books of illustrated monographs after class. I really loved making morally beautiful products and ideas aesthetically attractive in order to engage with a wider audience. 

I eventually ended up studying design in Melbourne Australia. While I was there fell further into love with all things well made. The whole time I was in school there I was literally only doing homework or filling endless craft paper notebooks full of illustrative shop designs.  

There are beautiful rustic design elements in this space. What techniques did you use to create them?

I really enjoyed renovating Hold. My family has a incredibly beautiful wood stash from salvaging over the years and a fairly diverse set of skills, we worked together to build simple pieces with elements we had connections to. One of my closet friends Bryce built a set of four salvaged maple tables that come together for a harvest table. He also helped me create a earthen plaster wall with clay I brought back from a favourite remote beach North Island. 

I feel so lucky to have spent all the time I have with my Dad over the last few months, he has pushed me to build as much as possible on my own, teaching me along the way. 

photo credit Kelly Brown

photo credit Kelly Brown

 

I know that you love nature and grew up in a idyllic area of B.C.  How did your upbringing influence your career and design choices?

We moved around a lot as I was growing up, but all within Vancouver Island.  A lot of our summers where spent in Clayquot Sound. We lived on a retired fish boat called the Nina J. My dad did remote environmental restoration projects durning this time and we would anchor near by and explore with my mom while he worked. I think it was a combination of the endless hours of mom reading books to us,  and the need to constantly make our natural surroundings into something fun and exciting that lead to the creativity that both my brother and I seem to have. I guess my love for the simple and calm probably came from these kind of days too. 

photo credit Kelly Brown

photo credit Kelly Brown

 

What has been the toughest thing about starting a business? Have you had any failures if so what have you learned from them?

There are so many ups and downs. I think the hardest part for me will always be allowing myself to not think about the store sometimes. Right now it really is my everything, and I don’t want it to be otherwise yet. My career, my heart and my hobbies are all right here. 

I don’t think I can afford the mindset of believing in failures during this time. Its one day at a time and one foot in front of the other. 

Proudest Moment?

When someone walks in and tells me they feel at home in here it always melts my heart.  

Where do you see your business in the next two years?

I have lots of ideas but am really looking forward to allowing the community around Hold to shape it into something of greater value. My grandparents are turning 90 in the next year, It will be interesting to see how the family farm will change and how Hold will fit into that. 

Any advice for the makers community?

Keep your personal voice strong and be kind, the right opportunities always seem to come from authentic relationships and genuine support. 

 

You create stunning natural dye baby blankets? What drew you to natural dying? What are some of your favourite plants to work with?

I feel in love with indigo a few years ago after experimenting with fallen pears from my Grandpas orchard and some very vague advise. It feels like magic. Ive only recently gotten into other natural dyes. I took a 6 day course though Maiwa in Vancouver and came away from it so inspired about the potential to create change though a sustainable textile industry. 

What are three things you cant live without?

Good food, a full heart and wildflowers 

What is your mantra ?

Really simply love. 

photo credit Kelly Brown

photo credit Kelly Brown

 

Who has been your biggest influence in your life?

Both my parents. My Mom has taught me gentle reverence for everyday. And my Dad has shown me that strong enough passion can make almost anything a reality.   

And one last thing - most recent read?

Im currently reading The E Myth, I’ve been told by so many to read it over the years .. but the cover and title is just so awful. I was finally gifted it with force by a friend, Im half way though and its already changed my life. 

 

Moonrise Q AND a

with KATE cAMPBELL

Kate Campbell and her daughter Charlotte photo courtesy of Kelly Brown

Kate Campbell and her daughter Charlotte

photo courtesy of Kelly Brown

 

Who/what inspires you?

People inspire me to create stationery they can share with their loved ones. The act of sending a greeting card is a thoughtful act. An intentional sharing of feelings, wishes, gratitude…love. Buying stationery is buying something to give away. Other kinds of stationery I make are made to make life more beautiful, and to make people feel a little more special. Place cards to let your dinner guests know they are happily expected, menus to make the necessity of eating feel special, invitations to gather people together for an event, prints for the wall to encourage or entertain, paintings to make homes cozy and unique.   The objects I make are used to celebrate and honour people and their life events, big or small. How awesome is that?

What led you to calligraphy?

I have always loved words. The shapes of letters, combinations of letters to form words, meanings and origins of words, phrases, sentences, stories…

I go too far with lettering in my life, and write on everything.  Calligraphy on the pantry door, on the stair risers, on envelopes to school…it's always too much, and it's never enough!

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

 

Tell us about your greeting card business? How did you get started? 

In my early twenties, I owned a stationery shop called Getting it Write. For a couple of years I was the only stationery store in my neighbourhood and business was busy.  Then, within a few months of each other, two card shops opened up within two blocks of my shop.  One in particular took a lot of my business; it was on a main street and it thrived. My business dropped, so my cash flow dried up a little. Business was flailing. Failing. I started making greeting cards to fill empty card slots in the walls of my store…just something to have there while I waited for my cash flow to get flowing,  so I could order more cards!  The greeting cards I made sold really well.  I made more and more until eventually I had my own

"card spinner" full of cards.  Some days I would sell more cards off of my one card spinner than I did from all of the walls in the store.  I knew I was on to something good.

My husband and I had been talking about having a baby, and I wanted to sell the shop so I could stay home with this future child. I wanted to sell the shop, and work from home.  So that's what I worked for.  I hired a sales representative to sell my cards in Victoria and Vancouver, and then Calgary and Edmonton…eventually I sold them all over Canada, and then started selling them to American Greetings in the United States.  There are more people in California than there are in Canada; my sales volumes grew exponentially. Now my cards sell throughout North America, and the UK.   Mine is an age old story of turning lemons into delicious lemonade.

I have an awesome team of people who help me package the cards for shipping, including a team of brain injury survivors, who train with me, to get used to working again post injury, and get back into the work force.  I love this connection to people in the community I wouldn't necessarily meet in my day to day life. My team appreciates the work…that it's a real job, with real expectations and deadlines, and I appreciate their good work. Win, win.

What are some sacrifices you have made in starting your business?

I sacrificed my free time in the beginning of Kate and Campbell.  I worked hard…lots of hours in the shop and then working late when I got home, designing greeting cards, building relationships with customers, designing advertising, travelling to trade shows, making custom stationery for customers...really putting my heart in to my work.

When I first started making wholesale cards, I wrote each one by hand. Wedding invitations, too…I loved to hand letter invitations, so nothing I did was mechanically printed.  

The last year I made hand lettered greeting cards en masse was 1999. I had a customer who ordered 700 Christmas cards to send out to clients. Each card took me about 3 minutes to write, so the card order took about 35 hours to hand letter.  I still had my stationery shop, and before Christmas is the busiest time of the year. I was spending all day in the shop, and lettering the cards for most of the night. 

By the time the last custom Christmas card was lettered I could hardly hold my pen…my swollen, purple fingers, limp hand, and swollen wrist.  Enough. 

After that order I decided to make originals of images, and have them reproduced by printing. I found a fantastic print company to work with, Hemlock, in Vancouver.  I still partner with Hemlock all of these years later; they print my greeting cards.  I still love doing small, hand lettered orders for customers, but limit the quantity. 700 is too, too many!

Have you had any failures? If so, what insights have you gained? 

Insights from failure: Don't stop. Think "okay, that didn't work, what am I gong to do next?"  The end of one thing is the beginning of another.

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

Any advice for someone starting their own business?

Do it! Time will pass whether you take a risk and are doing something you love or not, so you might as well start. Also, don't let people get you down. You're stronger than you know. When I first started filling large wholesale orders,  a customer asked me "Are you sure you'll be able to fill this big order, Sweetie?"  Sweetie?!! Grrrrrr.  No! I wasn't sure I could do it, but I was hell-bent on not letting him know that! I worked day and night to get the order finished and shipped on time. After that order, I strategically added an 'and' to my my name, calling my wholesale business  "Kate and Campbell".  I thought people like the man mentioned above would assume there were two people in the company;  Kate was the artist, and Campbell was all business. (No one has ever asked me again whether or not I could fill an order) Also, I know I can make myself 'bigger',  and be more capable, than I think I can be.  You can do it!

Proudest moment ?

Coretta Scott King had me make hand lettered Thank You notes for her to send out from her Martin Luther King Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and to send as personal notes from her home once she retired, and passed control of the Center to one of her children.

What do you see for your business in next two years?

I'm in such a good groove with my work; my job is enjoyable to me, gives me purpose, income, and a creative outlet. I work from home, and am by myself for most of most days. I've started teaching Calligraphy Workshops again, and will definitely do more of them. So nice for me to get out and interact with people!  And I have always wanted to make a pretty calendar, and a set of playing cards. I think I'll make those products next. 

Your illustrations are beautiful -where do those ideas come from? 

My ideas come from seeing simple, every day objects as art; there is so much beauty everywhere, in details...I like to record what I see, in a style that is my own. 

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

photo courtesy of Kristy Westendorp

 

Do you go through a period of feeling uninspired or get creative block? If so, how do you overcome this? 

Definitely every artist has a 'process' they go through to 'get' ideas, and I do, too.

I find I have to sit and sketch, draw, write…for hours.  Like for at least three hours.  For the first 2.75 hours I will crumple up my papers and throw them into a loose pile on the floor…sketching, drawing, lettering…and then all of a sudden

I'll get three or four good ideas and images I love.  It's like I have to be working and quiet so the ideas can come to me. Through me. Like me, lots of creative people when working on a piece, go through similar steps to these:

1. Off to a good start. Love this piece! It's beautiful!

2. Uh oh, this piece is not good. 

3. This piece is awful.

4. I am awful! Why do I think I can make art?!

5. This piece might actually turn out okay...

6. This piece is beautiful! I love it!

What are some helpful insights you would give your maker community?

Go through the steps  Make a product or service that you love. Use the best quality materials you can find, and make something you're proud of. Be brave and put yourself out there!

What are some of your favourite things, a few items that describe who you are? I love big laughs with great people, gathering together for family meals, playing Squash games...being loud.  I love drawing, painting, cooking, a sparse calendar, a too hot daily bath…being quiet.  I love lots of time in, on, and around the ocean. I love daily dog walks by myself, with friends, or with family, picnics, travel, exercise, cashmere, linen, ink on paper, using my Great Gramma Annie's bread bowl in the kitchen, music, volunteering, homemaking (creating a cozy & pretty place for me and my daughter to be).                             

What are 3 things you can't live without?

My daughter Charlotte, salt water (epsom salt baths, ocean, happy tears), my daily acknowledgment of the good in life…focussing on being grateful.

What's your mantra? 

People say "Life is short",  and for sure it can be.  My husband, John, died,  in 2010,  only 68 days after being diagnosed with having cancer. I had always admired John's ability to find the fun in life, to have a positive attitude, to get great enjoyment out of each day. To work hard and play hard. John taught me that 'love' is a verb, and he was so good at loving…he nurtured his personal and business relationships so well.  And yes, life can certainly be short. On average, though, life is long! Life is too long to just survive through it. We need to fill our lives up with enjoyment, adventure, trust, kindness, beauty, hope, comfort, connection, learning, and love. My mantra? Hmmmm…I like the thought that we remember moments, not whole days. My mantra would be something like "Make daily life comfortable, beautiful, fun, and meaningful; appreciate perfect moments, to be able to pull them out of a whole lifetime, and remember them.

photo courtesy of Kelly Brown

photo courtesy of Kelly Brown

moonrise makers Q&A

with julie cove

 

Certain food groups are considered acidic, alkaline or neutral.  Research shows that the foods we eat can affect the acidity in our bodies and our general health.  These days there are many different diets and lifestyles that one can choose to take to live a healthier life.  We had the pleasure of getting to know Julie this past year, and hearing her story that led her to change her diet and adapt an alkaline lifestyle - her passion in creating, desire to educate and live a healthy life are infectious.  As we were preparing this interview, her new book published by Penguin Random House titled Eat Better Live Better Feel Better launched.  The book is beautifully designed with thoughtful lay-outs, stunning photos, and full of delicious recipes which are easy to make.  It was a dream of hers ever since she succeeded in healing herself with an alkaline lifestyle to write a book about her journey.  The book provides a 4 step program to help you choose where and how you begin alkalizing, has a chart that helps you with your food choices and is filled with recipes all created for living an alkaline lifestyle.  We are so excited for Julie as we know how passionate she is about this project and sharing her recipes.  

On the day of her launch Julie wrote a message which resonated and motivated us to carry on with our own ambitions and dreams.  She said her life Moto is "if there's a will, there's a a way."  She rarely stops at no.  She said  "never stop believing in the power of YOU!  Be it your health, a life goal or your passion.  The more you focus on your dream the clearer and closer it gets until it's in your grasp!  That's how its done, if you're unwell, focus on your well-being not the illness.  Your body is amazing and is capable of more than you know.  I did this book for you!  I knew I had to shout my Alkaline message from the mountain tops, so everyone could hear and they too could find optimal well-being with this incredible lifestyle!"  We had the pleasure of having Julie at our Moonrise Makers market, where we heard her story and tasted her yummy recipes.  

 

moonrise.market-119.jpg

Who/what inspires you?

I feel incredibly inspired when I hear of peoples health challenges because it fires me up with the desire and the growing need to share my wisdom in order to help people regain their health.  I’m also very inspired by wise Women who live life to the fullest, follow their dream and take really good care of themselves - I want to be surrounded by them!

 

Can you share with us a little about your background and it's influence on your writing?

As a designer and a creative maker for over 25 years and now a holistic nutritionist for 4 yrs, I am able to combine these skills to invent healthy recipes, style and photograph them and then write from my heart and my health journey about the nutritional & alkaline benefits.  It’s as though my life’s journey thus far has lead me here.  

 

You just about to publish your first book - how exciting and what a great accomplishment! Tell us how that came about?

You may giggle but I followed my dream with the full support of the Universe!  I knew I was going to publish a book within months of having seen the benefits of my lifestyle shift improve my health which was over 7 years ago!  I started blogging way back in 2010 and as that grew I realized that an education in holistic nutrition would help me reach my goal. So throughout my studies I focused many of my projects on publishing a book since my goal was to have a book deal by the time I graduated. And sure as heck...I got my book deal on the very last day of school in July of 2012!! The Universe delivered!

 

Julie Cove's new book just launched this past week, and we are so thrilled for her great accomplishment!

Have you always been passionate about an Alkaline diet? How has this way of living influenced your life?

It was 9 years ago when I was in excruciating pain with a herniated disc that had me pretty much confined to my bed for over 4 months and nothing, I mean nothing worked to relieve or heal the pain. I began seriously alkalizing my lifestyle with the guidance of an alkaline coach and it was like a miracle!  Within 3 months I was completely out of pain!  I was told by the neurologist that a massive, invasive back surgery was the only way to heal but that I would never pick up my one year old daughter again afterward so I opted to skip that route of course. Instead, I regained incredible health and well being and in turn lost over 40 lbs in the process of alkalizing my body which is now a forever lifestyle!  

Learning how to heal my body with alkalinity was incredibly profound.  It inspired my journey which involved the closing my retail store of 20 years which led me to study holistic nutrition. This has lead to a much less stressful life of sharing this knowledge with others. It’s been especially valuable in educating my family so that I can be assured that they will know how to avoid illness and disease while learning to one day teach their future children the same. The cycle of poor health and disease and has got to stop! 

What are some sacrifices you have made to get to where you are today? 

I would say that my level of income has been lower thru the process of creating my book.  Publishing a book is a passionate process but is also a bidt of a gamble and doesn’t always lead to big money like some may think--this is important to consider so it’s best to be prepared. Of course, you never know where it may lead and it could become a good source of income and spin off work and potentially more books if it’s meant to be.

Have you had any failures? If so, what insights have you gained?

Most certainly I’ve had failures, we all do of some sort, big or small. As long as you learn from them and don’t fret over them too much you will go on to do meaningful things versus dwelling on your failures and not growing from them.  I love a challenge thus working out how to overcome failures is exciting for me so I welcome them and usually end up turning them into something better than I originally intended.

Proudest moments? 

okay there’s two....When I see my kids conscientiously making healthy alkaline choices it makes me so glad I had a terrible herniated disc to overcome, all so that I could inspire them!

...and of course, When my baby, my book.... the bound preview copy….three years of hard work... landed on my doorstep this past December! Yay! It finally felt real.

What do you see for yourself in the next two years?

Hmmmm.....it’s a journey that isn’t quite clear right now since I really don’t know what to expect with a published book as it’s still not due for release til March 1st, 2016.  I’m currently working out what I truly love and what part of this process brings me the most joy to work on that will allow me to continue to inspire an alkaline lifestyle.  I’ve begun teaching nutrition workshops in my studio to see how that feels. But there’s also podcasts, cooking videos, online cleanses and interviews etc. that provide so many options to choose from so we’ll just have to see what feels right and that I can create an income stream from. 

What knowledge /experience did you have before you started writing your book? 

I think once my publisher read my blog, he recognized my ability to create unique alkaline recipes, style and photograph them (I love this part!!) and then share the benefits of this healing lifestyle.  I can’t say I’m an amazing writer because I have never studied to be one but I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and thoughts which is why I started a blog. But thank goodness for my amazing editor who was able to turn my chicken scratch into a clear and concise manuscript.

Do you go through a period of feeling uninspired or get  creative block? If so, how do you overcome this?

I definitely have uninspiring moments from not knowing what recipes to invent, to not being sure how to hone my thoughts and avoid just rambling on.  I have an awful lot to say on the alkaline subject and the problem is often more about how to say it in fewer words with clear concise steps that anyone could navigate without confusion.  I may have overwhelmed my publisher with my initial submission of way too many words!!  But I believe it’s better than not enough words.

To overcome my lack of recipe inspiration I totally get lost on Pinterest, share creatively on Instagram, read books, collect style props and then shop the local farm market! 
Then I just play around in the kitchen and taste a lot! and then play with my style props and take hundreds of photos! -it is the most fun!

What are some helpful insights you would give your maker community? 

If you feel called to do something don’t ignore it!  I believe we are all here to do something that honors our being and that we should be open to exploring it to see if we can find the joy to help or inspire others on this planet, thus leaving our creative mark. If you are thinking of writing a book don’t be shy about it. You don’t have to be a journalist or a perfect scholar to write. You just have to have something valuable to say. The world wants to hear your story!

What are some of your favourite things, a few items that describe who you are?

I love pretty things and I love veggies! If you saw my studio and my fridge you’d understand. That pretty much sums it up! 

What are 3 things you can't live without? 

My juicer, organic vegetables and of course my family :)

What's your mantra?

I have always said....”If there’s a will, there’s a way." and it has served me well to follow these words. Never ever give up on your dreams.

May I add one last thing....my favourite recent read?

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a ‘must read’ for all creative makers! 

Thank you so kindly for asking me to share, it’s been a pleasure! 

moonrise Makers q&A

with Lauren MyCroft

 

It's exciting to see someone so gifted excel at what she loves to do - paint.  Lauren Mycroft was born to paint. Raised in what she describes as a "Creative Environment" - her dad is a water colour painter, photographer and furniture maker and her mom a seamstress, that sketches and experiments in collage.  Lauren is an accomplished artist, with a BA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design and has years of experience expressing her vision in various forms.

We've had the pleasure of getting to know Lauren through the Weaving Workshops we've hosted and at each workshop we garnered a glimpse of her creativity and talent. There were always plenty of ohh's and  aah's in the room after her beautiful weaves were finished.  We have true admiration for what she creates and how she has developed as an artist --- also she is truly a beautiful being!

The past year has been an extremely busy one for Lauren  --she is in high demand from designers wanting to collaborate with her on creative projects as well as working on special commission work for clients.  We were so happy that she found time to participate this past fall in our Makers Market and that she wanted to be part of our Q&A series.

Who/what inspires you?

Who/what inspires you? Colour is a big one, artists past and present, light/shadows, creative accidents… the list goes on. 

Tell a little about your background?

Both of my parents were quite creative so I've always been around art in some way. Growing up, I never considered doing anything else.  Around the time I was finishing my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr, I dealt with a major life event which led me to another career that I believed would provide me with more meaning in my day to day work. Being immersed in a 9-5 public service job, it took me a while to get back to painting and to build my confidence as an artist; however, I now more closely align myself with being an artist than anything else. Today, painting provides me with more meaning than it ever has simply because of how much fulfillment I gain from the process and how happy it makes others. 

What are some sacrifices you have made in becoming an artist?

As I'm still balancing my day job with doing art as my sole income, time is a huge one. I paint a lot, which means I don’t have as much time as I’d like for my relationships. Other than that, painting in solitude isn't ideal for a social person so finding ways to fuel that side of me is pretty major. I'm still working on how to make a healthy transition from the traditional work world to being a full-time artist, without getting cabin fever. 

Do you have mentors/ mentor or someone that has made an impact?

I am lucky to have several uber talented friends who are self-employed in a creative field and I’m always picking their brains. As for specific painting mentors, Zoe Pawlak: wildly talented and an amazing businesswoman. Also, a little obsessed with Heather Day. 

Have you had any failures?

If so, what insights have you gained? I have definitely had experiences that I wish I'd handled differently. I've never associated creativity with qualities like organization, communication, and time management, but when you run a business, it's all part of it. Boring, but I've had to invest some energy in these areas and I'm a stronger artist for it. 

Proudest moment?

If someone told me 10 years ago that I had to paint a mural in a commercial building, I would have had a panic attack, so the fact that I’ve overcome my fear of painting large scale in public spaces, and actually really enjoy the process, is pretty cool. It’s a good feeling to stand back and look at a piece of art you've created, integrated into the landscape, that people walk by every day. 

 

You have so many opportunities coming at you.  What do you see for your business in next two years?

I see growth and more collaborations with my art and design community. There's a whole lot of fun on the horizon! 

Do you go through a period of feeling uninspired or get a creative block? If so, how do you overcome this?

Of course, but I think being in the habit of painting and creating regularly helps me work through this. I find inspiration in what emerges naturally on the canvas so if that isn't happening, I take a break or work on something else for a while. I trust in the process and myself enough not to get too worked up about it anymore. 

What are some helpful insights you would give your maker community?

Know and believe in your worth. There have been several times that I've taken a job I'm not excited about, like painting sailboats and in the end I don't feel good about it. For a while, I took anything that came my way, often for less than I typically charged, because I wanted to build my connections and get my name out there; however, in the end, if the project doesn't line up with what I’m passionate about and what I feel I should be earning, I'm devaluing my worth. 

What are some of your favourite things, a few items that describe who you are?

I have a pair of sculptural wooden candlestick holders that were my mom's that I'm quite fond of. Initially, I thought they were kind of hideous but someone told me I might like them one day so I held on to them. Now they're one of those things I can't imagine getting rid of. Most of the possessions that I'm attached to hold sentimental value of some kind, whether from family or friends, traveling, or furniture my boyfriend and I have worked on together. 

What are 3 things you can't live without?

My people, my dogs, and the ability to be creative. Also, chocolate. 

What's your mantra? I think a lot about walking in the direction of my fears. Whenever something comes up that's out of my comfort zone, aside from painting sailboats, I make myself do it. I'm always better for it. 

What's your mantra? I think a lot about walking in the direction of my fears. Whenever something comes up that's out of my comfort zone, aside from painting sailboats, I make myself do it. I'm always better for it. 

Colours, texture, and beauty flow effortlessly from Lauren's art, and leave us wanting more. We can't wait to see whats next and the journey she takes in pursuit of her art.

MOONRISE MAKERS Q&A  

WITH AUTHOR LAURA BRADBURY

Writers hold a passion to communicate through the written word, and they use words eloquently and thoughtfully to convey emotion that grasp readers in the stories they write. This passion to communicate lies at the core of their being, and the diversity of the words and stories they tell come forward in the pages they write.  The diversity of the story and their unique vision lies in their artistic expression.  For some of us its hard to properly convey a message or feeling, to use words in a context that best defines our point of view.  Then there is Laura Bradbury, not only is she able to use words to create sentences, paragraphs and chapters beautifully but she draws us into the story with such force that its hard to let go.  

An award winning best-selling author, an astute business woman, a loving mother and wife, an attentive friend and inspiration to so many people only scratches the surface in describing Laura.  She is a deeply driven, extremely kind and generous, vastly supportive, and an exceptionally humble being.   A chat with Laura Bradbury is fascinating, motivating and truly inspiring.  As a friend, she encourages us to live life fully and motivates us to be creative ---she prompts us to be strong and take on challenges.  As an author, she is able through the written word challenge us to take risks, to be adventurous, take new paths and discover new things.

We had the opportunity to host a writers workshop with Laura last year, and currently are in the process of organizing another one for this spring--- her story is motivating, inspiring, authentic and full---we are so thrilled that she was willing to share her inspirations, challenges and the route that led her to self publishing.

 

You truly are an inspiration to us at Moonrise Creative.  Tells us a little about who or what inspires you? Where do you get your inspiration to write?

Writers who write books which allow me to escape into another reality – to me they have always been the most powerful sort of magician. Reading is an endless source of inspiration. 

My three daughters – Charlotte, Camille, and Clémentine. They are all so different from one another and so unapolagetically themselves. They inspire me to continue to become the most honest version of myself. 

My husband Franck – if you read any of my “Grape” books you’ll know why. 

My amazing friends who paint, weave, start kick-ass companies, move to the other side of the world, or just steadily beat as the living heart of their families…also, my writer tribe who keep me sane, are always there to cheer me on and give me good advice, and who love me enough not to block me on twitter even when I keep posting my daily word counts.  

Your background and journey is rich and textured, tells us a little about your background and the journey that led you to writing?

I always wanted to write but was terrified of being a failure at this one thing that I cared so much about. Writing wasn’t just something I wanted to do. It was, in the deepest depths of my soul, what I wanted to be

I am a perfect study in how to use achievement as an avoidance / procrastination tactic. I graduated from high school, did an undergrad degree in English and French Literature at McGill, a law degree at Oxford, then I renovated four houses in Burgundy, France with my husband to turn into vacation rentals. 

I finally began writing when I was thirty, shortly after having my second daughter Camille who basically gave both Franck and I nervous breakdowns because she screamed non-stop for the first two years of her life. My timing for starting my writing career was less than stellar (two children under two) but more and more I am convinced that there is no such thing as the “perfect time” for anything. Thus began a decade of starting and bringing several novels to about 75% completion before abandoning them to jump ship to a shiny, new, seemingly “better” writing project. 

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with a life-threatening auto-immune liver and bile duct disease (PSC) in May 2012 that I made the decision I was going to be a finisher. I started writing My Grape Escape the morning after I received my diagnosis, finished after nine months (while still working full time), and self-published it despite the fact I had zero experience self-publishing. The day after I hit the “ publish” button I began writing the second book in my “Grape” series, My Grape Village.   

You have written and published 3 books in 3 years- what an amazing accomplishment! How did you get started? What motivates you?

Frankly, the sword of my own mortality that is constantly hanging over my head because I live with a life-threatening disease is a huge motivator. From the moment I was diagnosed, all of a sudden the fear of being a failure at writing was replaced by a much more powerful fear – the fear of dying with my words still inside me. 

The thing is I’ve realized is that in fact we are ALL in the same boat. We are all going to die, and none of us knows how much time we have left on this earth – one more day? One more year? Fifty more years? It’s just that for me and the many other people I know with serious health challenges we no longer entertain the illusion that we have infinite time. 

The day after I was diagnosed I could hardly get out of bed. My entire life had been turned on its head and all of a sudden I was in a fight for my life. Without fully realizing what I was doing I managed to get up and stagger down the stairs. I flipped open my laptop, grabbed a pad of post-it notes, scribbled “FUCK YOU. I”M NOT DEAD YET” on one, stuck it on the side of my computer screen and began writing My Grape Escape. I didn’t stop until I hit “publish.” 

My love for stories, books, and the craft of writing is another one of my creative engines. I realize now that I can immerse myself for the rest of my life in the writing world and never get bored or run out of things I thirst to do and learn. This is how I define a passion.  

Lastly, my three daughters are a huge motivator. My books so far are stories that I really wanted them to know. Ironically, none of them have actually read any of my “Grape” books yet, but the books are there should they ever feel the inclination. I also want to set an example for them of diving deep into my passions. I love Cheryl Strayed’s quote “I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts I have given my children is the example of a mother who pursues her passions like a motherfucker.”  

 

What are some sacrifices you have made as a writer?

Some people around me didn’t understand why I would expend so much time and effort with my writing when I was also needing to take the best care of myself as possible in light of my health issues. What they didn’t understand was how writing saved me again, and again, and again and continues to do so on a regular basis. I couldn’t make them see how writing was truly a lifeline for me and how without it I would be sitting on my couch with all sort of destructive thoughts churning around my brain. This created some misunderstandings, but at a certain point I just had to accept that not everybody was going to understand and approve. 

Making a commitment to creativity can destabilize the very people you care about, especially in the initial stages. A lot of people are prone to making snap judgements based on partial or misinterpreted information. I think creating can make other people uncomfortable for many reasons - it can put them face to face with their own unfulfilled creative urges, they have other ideas about how you should be spending your time, or they are worried they’ll end up in your book, to name a few…I think we so often wait for someone else to give us the “green light” to create but ultimately that "green light" can come from only one person – ourselves. 

Have you had any failures? If so, what insights have you gained?

I would definitely say my decade of not finishing any writing projects was a failure. However, like all failures that experience taught me a lot of important lessons. Perfectionism is the enemy. Teach yourself to care less about other people’s opinions and more about the intrinsic value of your own creative journey. Honour your work by finishing it – crappy but finished is far preferable to brilliant but incomplete. We all have a limited amount of time on this earth - don’t waste it. If you yearn to create, go out and create. Start today.

Any advice for someone starting out as a writer? Any advice for someone wanting to get published?

First of all, I would start calling yourself a writer and thinking of yourself as a writer.  Stop waiting around for anyone else to crown you as a “writer” - you have to crown yourself (I highly recommend plastic tiaras from the dollar store or a homemade twig crown for this purpose). 

Reading about writing and taking courses about writing is great, but the one thing that distinguishes writers from non-writers is that they…well…WRITE. There is no way around that. Make getting words on paper your first priority in regards to your writing - everything else comes after that. 

Give yourself a realistic word goal per day – mine is 2000 words Monday to Friday– either new ones or rewritten / edited words if that is the stage of a book I am at. I usually fall short of this goal – instead of 10,000 words a week I usually clock around 8000 because sick kids, Pro-D days, my grumpy liver, and other stuff happens. Be disciplined but flexible. I don't have a word goal on the weekends but if I have a window to get some words in I grab it.

For publishing the first thing is DO NOT worry about publishing until you have actually finished your book-fretting about publishing before you have a finished book often be the Wolf of Procrastination in Sheep's Clothing. Find other writers who are approachable and have been published and ask them how they did it....I could go on about tips like this forever, and will in my Moonrise workshop on March 6th.

You self published-why did you chose to this route?  Would you say that the business of authorship and publishing are changing?

I consider myself extremely lucky to be living in a day and age when us writers have so many options for sharing our work.  I believe that some books and authors are better suited to traditional publishing, and others are better suited to self -publishing. There is also a third category that is growing rapidly- this is authors who use a mix of both traditional and self-publishing and are starting to be known as "hybrid authors" (there are also "hybrid agents" emerging these days, but that is a whole separate topic).

For me, self-publishing was the best fit because I am: 

  • entrepreneurial by nature
  • independent-minded (some would say stubborn as a mule- this would not be entirely inaccurate)
  • Impatient

I had enough on my plate dealing with health challenges, I did not need the added stress of working to anyone else's     expectations or timelines. The idea of working for myself was extremely appealing to me.

Also, my books deal frankly with my anxiety and panic disorders.  I had several agents interested in My Grape Escape but who wanted me to remove any mention of this aspect of my journey.  They reasoned that "Peter Mayle"s readers didn't want to hear about all the mental health stuff." I thought about this and concluded that removing all mention of my panic attacks, which were a big obstacle in my life at that time, would by inauthentic, not to mention to disservice to the large chunk of the population who also struggles with mental illness.  Self-publishing meant I had total editorial freedom.  Many, many readers have written to thank me for being open about my anxiety and showing them through my story that it is entirely  possible to have depression or anxiety and still live a rich, fulfilling, adventurous life.

What would you say is your proudest moment?

Hitting #1 on Amazon always gives me a thrill, but probably the proudest moments are holding each of my books in                paperback for the first time after they have been published.  Never gets old.  

     You have accomplished so much in the last three years.  What do you see for yourself in the next two years?

I would love to have  a successful liver transplant and a new, healthy liver version 2.0 so that I can write more, beachcomb more, travel more, and above all, spend more time with the people I love. As much as I am grateful for every day, I am fed up with this Russian Roulette of waiting to get sick enough to qualify for a transplant (but not so sick that I become ineligible or die). I want to campaign to have Canada adopt a better organ donation system - the current one is completely dysfunctional.  

I have a goal of getting on the New York Times bestseller list (either for e-books or print, or pourquoi pas, both!) and I would also love to see my stories adapted to either movie or TV (currently at the early stages of working on this at the moment). As far as writing projects I have a few lined up; finishing My Grape Wedding (currently almost ready to hand over to my content editor), finishing my paranormal romance I began writing 13 years ago, write My Grape Paris, write a series of essays to be compiled in a book about transcending life’s challenges via creativity (I already have the title for this one - The Grit in the Oyster)…I don’t think I’ll ever run out of potential writing projects.   

Do you go through periods of feeling uninspired or get creative block?  Periods where you may not want to pick up a pen or pencil and write? If so, how do you overcome this?

Yes! About 75% through my first rewrite I always develop an intense aversion to my book. I can almost set my watch by this pattern. This is where, in the past, I gave up and jumped ship to a shiny new project. Going through the various rounds of edits can honestly be a slog – it is damn hard work – although it is punctuated with the occasional glimmer of joy when you find the right word or sharpen up some snappy dialogue or add a scene that makes the whole book work better.

I have a few tricks to get past these blah / uninspired periods. I find myself a gift that I’m going to reward myself with when I publish the book (in the past, a pair of Frye boots, a Laura Harris painting, and a pair of moonstone earrings…). I dangle that carrot in front of myself frequently. I visualize how it will feel when I hold the finished book in my hands. I dig deep and try to revel in the grit that is required to bring a big creative project to completion and actually try to cultivate a grim appreciation for the creative pain. Also, taking a gander at my most recent mortgage statement never fails to light a fire under my derrière.  

What are some of your favourite things, a few items that describe who you are?

Besides my family and friends, I would say:

  1.  My beach glass collection. I try to spend time at the beach every day and the tide tables are one of the first things I check every morning. Beach glass is a metaphor for so many things in life…actually, I need to write a series of essay about this too....      
  2. My collection of Georgette Heyer novels. Whenever I am feeling particularly stressed, scared, or overwhelmed I pick up one of these books and it is like spending time with most brilliant, hilarious, comfortable friend. My sister Suzanne introduced me to "Georgette" and I will be forever grateful.   
  3. My scarves-I feel naked without a scarf- the result, I think, of my many years spent in France.  I have an incredible collection- so many beautiful colours and textures.

What are 3 things you can't live without?

Again, besides family and friends, who I truly could live without:

  • Coffee- it gives me superpowers and thankfully they are discovering it is extremely good for liver health. I don't think I could get out of bed in the morning if it weren't for the promise of coffee.
  • The beach and the ocean-it is a therapist, my meditation, my inspiration, and my friend
  • Writing- When I don't write I miss it terribly.  It is hard work but at the most random moments you have these moments of transcendence where you feel like you tapped into some greater force.  It can be magical. I could never give that up.
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What's your Mantra? 

I have two actually: "Done is Better than Perfect" and Winston Churchill's "Never, Never, Never give up.

Moonrise Makers Q&A

with Melissa McFarland owner of State of the Heart

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We love hand crafted goods and appreciate the work that goes into making them--from the initial idea to the end product, the time it takes to make something from hand is extensive.  Melissa owner of State of the Heart recognized that there is a huge market for thoughtfully made goods and this past December she launched her well curated online store featuring locally sourced products.  With e-commerce sites like Etsy growing in popularity, the ability to source handmade goods has been made easier but can be daunting with the number of options.  State of Heart offers a well curated product offering, with thoughtful items placed in island-based wooden gift boxes.  We had the pleasure of having Melissa display her beautiful boxes at our Moonrise Makers Market- see them here, along side her thoughts on starting a business, inspirations, challenges and opportunities for creatives. 

 

What / Who inspires me?

The circle of strong women in my life never cease to bring me inspiration. They ground me, question me, provoke change in me and ultimately, guide me to be the best creative version of myself.

Poppy, my daughter. There is something to be said of motherhood lighting a fire in you and bringing perspective to the creative avenues you choose to follow. I want to show her by example that you can remain true to yourself and lead a fulfilling life by pursuing your dreams - no matter what it looks like, anything is possible and there is beauty in that.

Will, my husband and best friend. He gives me the freedom to explore myself and approaches life alongside me with openness. I have been down many creative paths in our time together, but he never ceases to amaze me at how supportive, non-judgemental and visionary he can be. He gets behind me and helps me in any way he can, such as the State of the Heart website, which he built for me!

I find the height of my creative energy comes from being fully immersed in the art of others. Film, music, food blogs, online art collectives, textiles, architecture, in general being surrounded by creative humans and the things they make. It’s an ebb and flow - exploring this art until an idea emerges and its manifestation over time.

Where did your business name come from?

When I was pregnant, I knew I was closing a chapter in my career but didn’t have much clarity on the next one. As I entered my nesting phase, I found I cared more and more about the idea of home and the journey of making one.  I also wanted to be a part of a community of likeminded individuals. The name State of the Heart is rooted in this love and desire for a creative and physical home in this vibrant community.


What are some sacrifices you have made in starting your business?

Shortly after Poppy’s arrival a year and a half ago, I felt a drive to see my vision come to fruition. So I dove headfirst into it, as I tend to do, and it seemed like whenever Poppy was sleeping, I was working. It was manageable most of the time but there were also periods where it had me run down and was putting my life out of balance. I often questioned if that balance was the sacrifice it would take to make State of the Heart successful and how that could affect my family in a negative way.

In the spring we moved to a new home, and Poppy started really moving too. Between that and the turn in the weather, I decided to relax my work ethic and take a break. I had some re-evaluating to do - how to maintain balance while still wanting to see the full potential of State of the Heart realized.  In the end, I found through being mindful, balance was attainable.

 

Have you had any failures, if so what are the insights you have gained?

I wouldn’t describe anything I have experienced to date as a failure, however I do feel like I’ve learned the importance of remaining present in one’s work. About a year ago, I went through an extended period of not updating the website. That made it hard to come back, it felt like I had given up on it.

Some advice I was recently given that has helped me is that if you have a passion, it is important to make it a part of your everyday life. Think on it daily, take one step at a time, even if it is just planning - only good things will come from that intention.

I am now careful to not cross the line of having my work invade every moment of my life. I’ve learned to be more aware of when it is appropriate to share, or when it’s more rewarding to just be in the moment. Personally, I want to enjoy those flapjacks on Saturday morning without having to document the process.

Proudest moment when creating your business?

My proudest moment has been hosting the State of the Heart & Friends Pop-Up this past November. It was rewarding to put myself out there and show people a tangible representation of what I am going to be doing. I was floored by the reception and how people rallied. It blew me away and gave me that last boost of energy I needed to push the online shop out and focus that much more on my goals.

 

What do you see for your business in the next two years?

I think my biggest goal is to really be out there connecting with and supporting the flourishing community of creatives, makers and entrepreneurs.  To be open to take every opportunity that comes across my path and to see where that leads. There are a lot of creatives out there like myself, working at home, punching the keys; I would love to play a role in facilitating more sharing, interaction and collaboration within that circle in real life.

I am also focusing on the online shop and finding more makers that fit its vibe. It all comes together in my island-based gift boxes. I will be putting all my energy into that, because it highlights our strong community of local makers and shops.

 

What knowledge/experience did you have before starting your business?

I always knew I wanted to be involved in product conceptualization and design. I started that journey in a Vancouver art & fashion school and spent some time treading water, trying to understand what exactly it was that I wanted to be doing.  At the end of the day it wasn’t in fashion solely - I loved my training with textiles and I took much of what I learnt there with me. It all applies to other areas I have worked and am working in.

After a bit of travel and play, a friend shared an ad with me she’d found for a job at a tile shop. My dad built homes when I was younger, so I had already spent my early years face planted in Architectural Digests. I loved a short course I had taken in art school on interiors so I jumped at the opportunity.

About six months in, myself and a now-close friend were headhunted to join another company and take on more of a thorough design role, utilizing multiple surfaces in soft finishing design. We immersed ourselves in it and spent three happy years working alongside one another.

After that chapter ended, I was asked to assist a start up in the same field. I worked on that project up until my pregnancy in 2014.

Do you go through a period of feeling uninspired or get a creative block? If so, how do you overcome this?

Yes, absolutely. I think everyone does and we simply need rest every once in awhile.

Ultimately, it is important to really understand how you are inspired and surround yourself with that environment. Some people need bare white walls to work, I am not like that at all. I need to be assaulted with inspiration, be that from the internet or my physical surroundings - ideally both. I have always been a very cluttered creative. It took me the majority of my twenties to learn how to rein it in!

 

What are some helpful insights you would give your maker community?

Find your voice, a way to contribute to the community that is original and feels authentic.

Team up with others with a similar approach and help each other out. You’ll find inspiration and drive from working together.

You don’t need to have everything all figured out, just start doing and putting yourself out there. It will all unfold as you go.

What are some of your favourite things, a few items that describe who you are?

I am a very sentimental collector. I love to have meaningful objects that I use in my daily rituals.

A few years ago I was gifted an artist’s objects who was going into long term care with no family. The turkish rug in my living room is hers, the skillet I use daily is hers, so many of my favorite things are hers. I think of her everyday and she knows that I cherish her items. That means so much to me.

A crystal a girlfriend gave me represents good creative energy when I started State of the Heart. I like to have it present while I work, it’s important to remember that others believe in you.

My headboard - my father and I built it together from wood used as table runners from my wedding.  

The Wild Hill Botanicals Organic Coconut Milk Bath! I am a big bath person, it makes my skin feel heavenly and is definitely a new favourite.

What are 3 things you can't live without

My community (family & friends), dance (& music), and good food! These make up a great life to me.

What's your mantra?

“JUST BE.”

There is something to releasing all of yourself, your energy, anxiety and fears to the universe. When you give yourself over to that kind of freedom and say “fuck it” to everything else, you can really start living.

I used to experience a lot of anxiety about who and what I was going to become. At night before drifting off, these thoughts would cycle endlessly in my mind. One day I decided to switch those thoughts to “just be” and my whole perspective changed. All of a sudden there weren’t all these obstacles in my way, just many different paths and endless opportunity.