Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Branding Workshop Sneak Peak

This Saturday Stitching Stories will be hosting its first craft branding workshop. A handful of specially invited crafters will be treated to a morning of tea, treats and surprises, while at the same time getting equipped to take their brands and their businesses to the next level.

This little Russian doll is the symbol and inspiration of the morning, as the crafters will be learning that like a Russian doll, each one of their businesses is unique to its core, and that they need to look to their hearts and essence to build strong, original brands. 

The workshop will cover the following: 
  • The findings from my research on branding craft businesses 
  •  An introduction to branding
  • How to build a strong craft brand, from brand identity to brand communications
  • The importance of contact planning
  • Craft business marketing tools
Each crafter will also get personal attention for their own specific brands.

As for myself, I am bursting with excitement and simply can't wait to shower the crafters with branding loving!

Monday, 24 September 2012

I Love Pop Up Store

Last week I visited the I Love Pop Up Store with my family.

This space showcases jewelry, clothing, decor, toys, fashion and more, all made by local businesses.
It was great to see the creativity and authenticity on display and I will definitely be visiting them again as they have extended their lease until December- yes please! I'm thinking Christmas shopping?

Here are some snapshots of the day

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Craft Theory: the Magic of Making

From plans to product, there is something magical in the making of craft products

Whenever I sit down to work on a craft project, I get a thrill of anticipation. With an idea of what I want to create in my mind, I survey my materials – my felt, my embroidery thread and my glass jars filled with ribbons and trinkets and buttons that I have collected –and pick out what I need to my project. I gather up my treasures and lay them on the kitchen table, admiring the colors, patterns and textures before me. I pause for a moment, my hand's poised and ready, and then I dive in. 

As I work I can feel myself relaxing and thinking at the same time, constantly changing and altering my craft as I go along. This process is full of challenges, triumphs, frustrations and elation, but I can safely say that the joy and satisfaction that I get from making my crafts exceeds that which I derive from the completed product. And it turns out that I am not alone – through my research I found that some very clever people have a lot to say on the act of making things with one's hands.

I began by looking at theories that emerged at the time of the Industrial Revolution, when machines were beginning to replace people in the process of production. The work of a philosopher called John Ruskin began to reveal to me the individual and psychological importance of making. He was appalled by the "mechanization of labour" that the Revolution brought about because he felt that factory labour separated the intellectual from the physical work, limiting workers to mindlessly and repetitively performing one small part of the process. He felt that this robbed people of their ability to create whole works, and therefore robbed them of the ability to express themselves, diminishing them from being creative agents to mere tools. He saw the need in people to create works that, even if imperfect, could be invested with the personality and humanity of the maker. 

This opinion is echoed by David Gauntlett in his recent book Making is Connecting (2011) where he says,
Making things shows us that we are powerful, creative agents – people who can really do things, things that other people can see, learn from, and enjoy. Making things is about transforming materials into something new, but it is also about transforming one’s own sense of self
Gauntlett's work led me to the writings of Richard Sennet, who explores the experience of crafting in his book The Craftsman (2008). He emphasizes that working with one’s hands enables simultaneous making, thinking and feeling, while fostering self-identity and citizenship. 

And then I had a little epiphany: crafting goes beyond merely taking some raw materials and making something out of them. It is a personal experience where the crafter is able to express a part of themselves through their work. Holistic in nature, it unites the intellectual, the emotional and the physical in the act of creation, engaging with the most human and personal elements of the maker.

Looking at this, it is of little wonder that in a world where everything has become disengaged, less personal, and less human – from digital communication to impersonal, mass-produced products – we are once more yearning for and returning to that which contains a human spark. 

So I will continue to make, to benefit from the joys of crafting, while hopefully sharing this joy with others as they too begin to participate in the magical act of making.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

We Got Featured on Southbound Bride!

I loved my wedding. Apart from getting to say yes to spending the rest of my life with my best friend, I got to celebrate and dance with all the people closest to my heart! A lot of love and preparation, and crafting, went into the day and it was worth every effort.

My bridesmaid Sherrie made the bunting, Sue Lichter from Soft Hearted designed the invitations, my mom-in law helped with the runners and the flowers, and Chev and I made the favors, hand-crafted pinwheels:)

The best thing about my wedding is that I have been able to enjoy it long after the day has passed as it has been featured in The Wedding Assistant directory, and now on the beautiful Southbound Bride blog. Thanks Thea from Think Photography for taking such stunning pictures that have captured my happiest day forever!


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Rose, lace and pearls: the perfect combination

Yesterday I made my first purchase from Keep Thrift, an up and coming local business. They sell vintage clothes in a fresh and original way, stocking their store with beautiful treasures at reasonable prices.

In preparation for me entering into the business world next year (eek!), I am starting to put together my work wardrobe and this blouse has been my joyful first addition! Thanks Keep Thrift, you have made my week!

Monday, 3 September 2012

On Studying Crafting

Am am in the process of completing my Honours Degree in Brand Leadership at the Vega School of Brand Leadership in Durban. The year has not been without its challenges, but I have loved how through them I have grown and learnt so much, about branding and myself!

When I was told at the beginning of the year that I could choose any topic for my thesis, as long as I related it to branding, it didn't take long for me to settle on the topic of crafting. I wanted to look deeper into the reasons behind craft's comeback. Why are people choosing to buy handcrafted products over mass-produced goods? And what does this mean for craft business owners? Craft business are unique from other business in so many ways, surely this impacts on the ways they should be branded? So I decided to do an in-depth study of one crafter's business in order to discover what the best ways to brand craft businesses are.

My research project is titled "Handmade Branding: exploring how the nature of creating craft products informs the branding craft businesses" and the journey that it has taken me on has been one of revelation, contemplation and delight.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you the tastiest treats from my findings, from theories of craft, to why craft is making a comeback, to tips on how to effectively brand your craft business. Feel free to comment on these posts, I would love to hear what you have to say:)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Local is Lovely: Ode to the Milk Tart

This week's Local is Lovely feature I am taking a look at one of my true loves – the milk tart.

image by world baking day

This traditional desert is a creamy mixture of cornflour, cinnamon, vanilla and milk and has been a favorite treat of mine for years. Sadly I have not yet succeeded in baking my own perfect milk tart. My last attempt ended up with a texture so rubbery it bounced when I dropped it! So if you have any good recipes please send them my way and I'll let you know which one turns out best!

Despite my milk tart failure, I have mastered a delicious adaptation, milk tart cupcakes. I'll be posting a recipe with step-by-step pictures in the near future.

And here are some more twists on the classic:

Milk tart shooters by Ideas Magazine

Milk tart cake by Simply Delicious