blondieheader
Show

Have More Fun // Meet Blondie Apparel

According to the women behind Blondie Apparel (our sponsors for the 2017 Etsy Made in Canada show!) I could also title this post “How to Operate a Business via Text Message.”

Because that’s how Blondie co-owners Brodie O’Connor and Michelle MacGillivray roll.

They don’t take things too seriously when they don’t have to.

And when they do, they get down to business…and get back to having fun doing what they love as soon as possible.

I sat down with the girls in the back of Brodie’s shop doree’s habit for a quick chat about all things Blondie Apparel.

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These two met approximately 5 years ago when Michelle approached Brodie in her clothing store doree’s habit to discuss the possibility of selling her line of clothing.

They became fast friends and, shortly thereafter, business partners.

Brodie is like me.

An entrepreneurial spirit through and through.

So when she met Michelle and saw that they shared the same aesthetic and attitudes, her brain just starting ticking with ideas on the things they could create together.

“I asked Michelle if she’d be open to collaborating on a line of clothing. I had ideas, but not the pattern making or sewing skills.” Brodie tells me.

Michelle had been running her own clothing business vandentillaart clothing for a few years at the time and, despite a great deal of success, she was finding it a bit isolating.

“After making my own way in the fashion industry for a while, I liked the idea of a collaboration. It’s always easier to be creative with someone to bounce idea off of.” says Michelle.

The two decided to start small and developed a line of scarves for their first project, aptly named “col.lab.o.ra.tion” to be sold in Brodie’s retail clothing shop doree’s habit.

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“One of the first scarves we made was called ‘the Lenny’,” laughs Brodie, “Because when we were making it Michelle grabbed the bolt of fabric and wrapped it around her neck like she was Lenny Kravitz.”

“You mean like this?” I ask, and show them a picture I’ve just pulled up on my phone.

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“Exactly!” laughs Brodie.

The two sewed the line of scarves (which quickly expanded into tank tops, arm- and leg-warmers, ponchos+++) themselves in their home studio (whenever possible, on the porch!) until it became apparent that they had a good thing going.13322001_1709730495967126_8418409429433101236_n

They had so much fun creating that first line together, and were so inspired by the response that they decided to make co.lab.or.ation an ongoing affair.

And so Blondie Apparel was officially born.

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“We started just by selling here at doree’s and at craft shows, then on Etsy. Now we also have a website and a list of more than 20 Canadian stockists that we wholesale to.” says Michelle.

“Basically we were getting more orders than we could keep up with.” says Brodie “I hardly ever even have our items in my own shop!”

Retailer demands, web sales, Etsy and a growing number of craft shows (including Etsy Made in Canada and the beast that is the One of a Kind Christmas show) meant they had to look for help.

And though they still do a lot of their own sewing, they have begun to outsource some of their production to keep up with demand.

“We employ a small number of sewers based in Toronto now,” Michelle tells me. “It took us a while to find a Canadian manufacturer who could compliment our brand and offer the level of quality we pride ourselves on, but we finally found them.”

It’s important to Blondie Apparel that all of their items are made here in Canada.

“So many clothing makers claim to be Canadian made, but really they’re just Canadian designed and made elsewhere.” says Michelle. “Our prices reflect not only the quality of the product we make, but also the fact that they’re made here by seamstresses who are fairly paid and work in ideal conditions. That’s not something we’re willing to compromise on.”

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Michelle and Brodie in their booth at their first One of a Kind Show.

Michelle is a graduate of Fashion Design at LaSalle in Montreal.

She’s also Dutch which, when I asked her the significance of that little tidbit she replied, “I’m not a huge risk taker. When we make a new piece and we know it’s going to go into production, I’ll be like ‘Let’s order…a dozen.’ and Brodie will be like “Whhhhhaaaat? No. We need a hundred. At least!”

A literal truck load of East End sweaters.

A literal truck load of East End sweaters and ponchos.

I ask Michelle if, now that they have some proven success, she has a bit more guts when it comes to purchasing larger quantities.

“Nope!” she laughs.

Both women agree that it’s this balance in their relationship that makes things work. And although there are some ways in which they couldn’t be more different, at the end of the day you begin to wonder if they’re separated at birth. And not just because they’re both blonde.

They have fun.

“Yeah. We have a lot of fun.” says Michelle.

In fact, having MORE fun is what Blondie’s latest line is all about. (Maybe it should be what we’re ALL all about.)

Their line of for Fall/Winter 2017 will be showcased at the Etsy Made in Canada Ottawa show. (They’ve even designed our swag bags!) Blondie’s newest creations include a range of beanies and a hoodie that I KNOW is going to become a new staple in a lot of women’s closets.

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Their versatile Poncho is back, and the perfect travel accessory.

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The long sleeved Riverbend Tunic is essentially the most amazingly comfortable and versatile dress I’ve ever owned.

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I can dress it up with some boots and some accessories, or throw some leggings and a denim jacket (or better yet, a Trinity vest!) over this baby and I’m golden.

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For me, the best part about Blondie Apparel is that all of their pieces work together. I’ve long contemplated the idea of creating myself a capsule wardrobe to make the morning get up and go easier (not to mention to finally quit it with the wasteful spending on disposable clothing!) and Blondie is the first place I’d start.

As sponsors of this years event (and participating as vendors for their fourth consecutive year), Blondie will have a larger dedicated space to accommodate the hoards of loyal customers that are looking forward to seeing them at the Bell Sensplex.

Etsy-13 I ask them what they think it is that makes their customers special.

“Honestly, they are SO loyal it’s crazy.” says Brodie. “It’s not uncommon for our clients to purchase the same sweater in multiples.”

“I think also, that we are super honest with our customers. We always tell them what looks good, and what doesn’t, and genuinely want them to love our clothes. I think they really trust us at this point.” say Michelle. “We don’t make anything we wouldn’t wear ourselves.”

“And we are also super excited when people put our stuff on and it looks good.” she adds laughing. “Like we say ‘yay!!!’ a ton.”

“Yeah. We say ‘yay’ a LOT.” adds Brodie. “And yippie! Most of our texts are just long strings of ‘Yay!’s and ‘Yippee!’s. Because we’re really are so excited to be doing what we love to do, and making people happy.”

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The Blondie girls having more fun. :)

So let’s talk about mistakes.” I say wryly. “I don’t want people to think this maker stuff is always easy. Tell me something that you messed up…and maybe learned from.”

The two look at each other and shrug, until I see a flicker in Brodie’s eye.

“Pyjamas.” she says.

“Oh yeah. Pyjamas.” Michelle groans.

“We made this line of pyjamas a couple years ago and they just never took off.” explains Brodie. “Because they were handmade and we chose good fabrics, they were priced to reflect that. But not everyone wants to spend a lot of money on something they don’t wear out of the house. Those pyjamas were a perfect example of us trying to do something we THOUGHT people wanted, instead of sticking to the script.”

“We are so much better at that now.” Michelle chimes in. “We know our brand and our aesthetic and what our customers keep coming back for. We try new things, sure, but we never deviate from what we are good at.”

I ask them what they’re good at.

How they would sum up the Blondie aesthetic.

They have trouble answering.

Not because they don’t know I don’t think. But because it’s become so intrinsic in the way they create that they don’t have the words for it.

But I do.

Because I am a Blondie Apparel enthusiast.

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I own the East End Sweater in three colours.

I have a Trinity vest, a pocket tee, a floral AND a striped Cross-Front AND a long sleeved tunic. I even have some leg warmers which, admittedly, I’ve never worn, but I enjoy owning nonetheless.

I didn’t actually realize HOW much Blondie Apparel I have in my closet until I started this inventory exercise.

What Blondie Apparel is to me is easy, ready-to-wear fashion. It’s all functional, but with thoughtful cuts and elements that make the pieces flattering and stylish. They’re the type of clothing items that you go to every time you reach into you closet because you know you look cute, you feel good, and you’ll be able to do whatever it is you need to do that day in them.

Honestly.

Whether I’m running to the gym, or working in the shop, picking up a half ton of candle wax or meeting a friend for lunch, I can do it all with the same outfit pieces.

I literally wear East End sweaters so often they’ve become my signature tops. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve left one behind at the gym, or at a party, only to have it immediately returned to me because the person “knew it was Emily’s sweater”.

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There’s something about that that makes me feel good.

I thank the girls for our chat, and leave the shop the continue on my day of planning for the weekend’s event.

I DO hope you’ll join us, and the 149 other incredible Etsy makers we are showcasing at the Etsy Made in Canada OTTAWA show this weekend. Introduce yourself to Blondie Apparel while you’re here, and come give me a hug!

(I’ll be the one huddled in the corner praying nothing goes sideways :)

In the meantime, you can check out Blondie Apparel on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy.

Join the Etsy Made in Canada Facebook Event HERE for all the details or find the Made in Canada event closest to you HERE!

xo Em

 

    cheerleaderpost
    Shop

    Calling all Cheerleaders // We’re Hiring

    I’ve been avoiding this inevitability.

    After a solid 2 years of stability in the staff department, Cheerfully Made is losing TWO of our best cheerleaders to higher education.

    I literally could NOT be more jealous of the adventures they’re both about to have.

    I might even be persueded to give up both my first AND second born to be able to go back to the days of having my own shitty little apartment with sarongs and twinkle lights hanging from the ceiling… and meeting new lifelong friends… and learning new things…and thinking life was soooooo stressful when, oh lawwwwd what I wouldn’t give to have that exact amount of stress right now.

    But I digress.

    We’re hiring. And, no bones about it, here’s what we’re looking for:

    YOU ARE:

    – Naturally cheerful. (Because, seriously.)

    – Creative and also totally ok with constructive criticism. Like, I want you to make suggestions for new window displays, but I also want to be able to tell you if they stink without making you cry.

    – Sharp and quick witted. You would be SHOCKED at what customers will ask sometimes. Shocked.

    – Someone who takes both direction and initiative. I want to be able to drop off a box of new products and be confident that, if I don’t have time to do it, you will figure out a solution for how to display it instead of just leaving it for me on Monday. Because done is usually better than perfect and I can edit it later if I’m feeling micromanagerial.

    – Able to lift heavy things like boxes full of candle wax, or Unicorn Fart lip balms. We order that crap by the bushel full.

    – Able to troubleshoot basic computer issues. For example, the WiFi is a necessary evil and a constant disappointment.

    – Happy to work evenings, weekends and holidays. Ecstatic even.

    – Passionate about Almonte. A big part of our job here at Cheerfully Made involves tourism. It’s important that our employees know and care about Downtown (and uptown!) Almonte and are able to share that knowledge with our customers. What you don’t know, we’ll teach you!

    – A flexible team player. It is not uncommon that I ask my staff to help me out at extracurricular activities like craft markets, workshops, late night shop events and more. I am looking for someone who is happy to take on additional tasks and shifts (for pay, obvs) and is keen to help out in a pinch. This works both ways and I am always happy to accommodate when life gets in the way as well.

    – Comfortable talking on the phone (God forbid).

    – Someone who actually wants to work. I have heard the phrase “no one will ever care about your business more than you do” more times than I can count and, although it’s entirely fair if that’s true, I would sure love to hire people who could meet me half way. I have a lot of experience and ideas to share and I would just be so so sooooo excited to work with someone who is interested in learning a thing or seven about small business ownership and customer service.

    I’ll stop now. 😉

    THE TITLE: Sales Associate

    Roles and responsibilities include:

    Opening and closing the shop / Offering extraordinary and enthusiastic customer service / Managing and balancing the till / Receiving and inputting new product into our system / Merchandising /

    We are looking for two part time staff members to share the load of the following shifts:

    Weekdays 3pm to 6pm / Saturdays 10am to 5pm / Sundays 11am to 4pm / and occasional holidays.

    This job is perfect for students or the young at heart looking for retail work with the potential for growth. I am SUUUUUPER fun to work for. Ask anyone. Almost anyone.

    INTERVIEWS

    We will be setting up brief, 10 minute interviews Monday August 21st and Tuesday August 22nd between 11:30am and 1pm.

    If you wish to be considered, please send an email along with your resume and interview availability to hello@cheerfullymade.com and we will book you an interview time.

    If you have already sent us a resume, still email us. We can dig it up from our files and books an interview!

    xo Em

     

      stillwatercottages
      Life

      Our Summer Getaway // Stillwater Cottages

      A few weeks ago we embarked on our first ever group cottaging adventure to Huntsville Ontario. My friend Kim stayed at a little place called Allen’s Landing (now Stillwater Cottages) with her family 2 summers ago, and since then has been insisting it’s the perfect place for us all to bring our families.

      She wasn’t wrong.

      Stillwater Cottages is a small cluster of 4 simple cottages on Clear Lake in Perry Township.

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      View from the laneway as you enter the property

      Owners Clarence and Ingrid Dykstra live on the property in a larger home, and just in front of their spot sit 4 sweet little cottages that you can rent for approximately $1000 for the week. We decided that if we were going to rent, then we should try to rent all four cottages so that we’d know everyone on site.

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      Clarence and Ingrid’s Home

      Brad and I claimed one, and the others were occupied by our friends Kim and Pete (and their two boys), Josie and John (and their two kids), and my sister Meghan, her husband Jeff and their four kids.

      Between the four families we had 10 kids and 8 adults.

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      The whole crew. Still smiling on the last day!

      Ages ranged from 6 months to 40 years young…and thankfully the younger generation never did do the math required to figure out they had us outnumbered.

      The week was amazing.

      The space had a great waterfront with multiple docks, a lillypad, 3 kayaks, 2 paddle boats and a small beach. We had a fire pit, a climbing structure which the kids basically lived in (and on), a swing set and loads of toys. The kids just played played played.

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      Boys digging for God knows what at the beach.

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      Treehouse of dreams.

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      “Mom! Check out my cape. I’m going to jump!”

      There was even this amazing waterslide which no child was too small to fly off of.

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      John takes CeCe for a wee rip

      This is our normally super cautious, over-thinking, “what if?” Clementine hurling herself off the wrong side of the slide, and knee boarding for the first time.

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      My heart explodes.

      Besides the littlest girls, Clem was a woman among goofballs and had no trouble rising to the occasion, leading the charge in games made up as she went along.

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      “Ok boys. Here’s the challenge. Everybody grab a ball and try to get it in this bucket without falling off the playhouse. Kay? “

      I think, for me, the best part of being a parent is witnessing my kids having experiences like this. I know they won’t soon forget how much fun they had, and so so many memories were made.

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      Kids ruining a perfectly good game of bocce ball.

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      S.P.U.D!

      Spending this kind of time with their cousins was especially awesome.

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      Cousins pondering life. Cohen and Griff.

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      Cousins chillin’ like villains. Griff and Olie.

      I don’t remember the last time I spent more than a few days with my sister and bro in law (not to mention my friends!) and getting to hang with my nephews and niece with zero agenda was just something really special.

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      View from Cabin 2.

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      Two of my best besties. Josie and Kim.

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      Melissa, John and Isla. Mixing things up and sharing the parenting load.

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      Auntie Lou with CeCe, Isla and Hanky Joe.

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      The magic hour. Aka time for s’mores.

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      Henry experiments (unsuccessfully) with marshmallow eating methods.

       

      Watching this guy relax was pretty special too.

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      Brad reading approximately 1.5 pages of his book before being interrupted.

      We made a couple of day trips into Huntsville to visit Deerhurst Resort (perfect solution to a rainy day at $20 per family for unlimited swimming, playing and arcading. Clem won the jackpot!) and the famous Kawartha Dairy (note to my future self: go for the kiddie cone) but other than that we were more than happy to stay put on our little compound away from reality.

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      Olie showing the early signs of Bubble Gum Ice Cream overload.

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      Our attention starved son, Olie, Rory, Clem, Cohen and Henry.

      I was honestly prepared to be staying in less than ideal conditions. Because, generally speaking, that’s what cottages are. Cobwebs and sand in your bed sheets basically.

      But Stillwater Cottages, is everything you need and more.

      We rented Cabin #2.

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      Our home for the week. Cabin 2.

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      Front door to our cabin

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      Screened in porch

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      Dining space

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      Our cabin had two bedrooms.

      One master with a queen and a second with a double bunk bed that slept 3.

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      Master with queen.

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      View from Master doorway.

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      Kids room.

      The place had electricity (WiFi!), running water (drinkable!!), a shower and flushable toilet. We brought our own sheets, but you can rent them for only $15 a room or something super reasonable. I can’t remember, but I know it was worth it.

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      The kitchen was small but all you’d ever need and came fully equipped with dishes and cutlery (like corkscrew AND cheese grater equipped!), fridge, stove, coffee maker and microwave.

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      Living room with tv

      Though we had a “no electronics” rule for the week, it sure was handy for me to be able to check emails, and in the evenings we made a mutual agreement to let the kids pass out in front of a movie so we could better enjoy adult time by the fire.

      And enjoy it we did.

      The BEST part about this place is that we get first right of refusal on booking the same week next year. I really hope that we can come again.

      I dunno know though.

      We’ll have to ask Griffin and see what he thinks.IMG_1986

      Until next time Stillwater Cottages!

      xo Em

        birthday
        Life

        Birthday Thoughts // Giving all the F*cks

        It’s my birthday today.

        I’m 38 years old. (I wish I could tell you I’ve never kissed a girl, but there are too many witnesses and anyways, who hasn’t?)

        I’ve just spent my weekend with old friends and new kids, thinking about how lucky I am to live in a world where, on your birthday, your Facebook blows up and, as a result, people honk as you walk down the street screaming “happy birthdayyyyy!!!” out their car windows.

        Where friends come over for a bonfire and bring everything needed for a sleepover.

        Just in case.

        Where neighbours come by with handmade presents and thoughtful cards, and someone from high school with a shared birthday (who you haven’t seen in ages) sends a beautiful message at midnight because it’s officially our most auspicious day.

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        Adding to my collection of original artworks by Sarah Jaynes. Love you SO much Sarah.

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        Midnight messages from an old friend.

        Where your aunt invites you to dinner because your folks are away, and your husband makes you a G&T without asking simply because it’s 4 o’clock. And it’s your birthday.

        I am SUPER ok with being 38.

        Like so okay it’s not even funny.

        I am so proud that it’s taken me ONLY 38 years to accumulate SO many wonderful people in my life.

        Everywhere I go I am lifted up by someone.

        There may be bad moments in my days but there are no bad days. Because people are generally amazing and thoughtful and giving with their love and their time and their energy.

        I keep seeing people write about how being in your forties is especially awesome because that’s the decade you can stop “giving all the fucks” (pardon the French) and just “do you”.

        But I’m not really interested in giving less fucks.

        I’m over here feeling pretty darned dedicated to giving as many fucks as possible because I believe that giving “all the fucks” is what makes the world go round.

        Giving all the fucks shows people you care about them and want them to succeed. I feel like people give me loads of fucks every day. Loads of them.

        You know what I mean.

        I’m grateful.

        And I’m not going to stop caring about what people think. I may not internalize everyone’s own personal drama like I have in the past, but I’m still going to care. A lot.

        Because caring makes us better. And it’s contagious. And it’s my birthday for like 7 more hours so you kinda have to.

        xo Em

         

         

          EtsyResolution
          Life, Make, Show

          Write a New Story // Etsy Resolution 2017

          We are well into January and I’m still thinking about resolutions.

          It’s something I kind of do all year really, always striving to do more, do better.

          It’s a curse, and I know I’m not suffering alone with it either.

          I feel you out there. Making plans, maybe even purchasing a few tools to get them going, and then letting life get in the way of actually setting aside the time it’s going to take to launch.

          Generally speaking I’m actually quite good at accomplishing the things I set out to do, but there are still a many many areas of that need some work.

          Because I think I am seen to be a bit of a “do-er” however, I get asked often how I get so much done. I get asked questions like “How did you know that would be a good idea?”, or “What made you so confident it would work?”, or “How did you know where to start?”.

          I’m going to tell you something right now that would shock a lot of bank managers.

          I didn’t. I don’t know. I just started.

          Here’s my secret.

          I have been blessed with the blind confidence that if I put my mind to something, I can make it happen. I dunno. Maybe I’ve watched Field of Dreams so many times, there’s a whispery little cornfield in my ear repeating “If you build it, they will come”  so often it’s become my mantra.

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          I get an idea, I tell myself I can do it, and I. Just. Do. It.

          Sometimes I try it on for size by actually telling people about what I AM doing, even before I AM doing it. Then I kinda HAVE to do it, and so I DO.

          Is that nuts?

          That’s a bit nuts, but by golly Miss Molly that shit works.

          And that’s what I mean about “your story”.

          Those little things you tell yourself, or others that, good or bad, eventually become reality. Some call it “self fulfilling prophecy”, and I’m here to tell you it’s the real deal. The only problem is, more often than not we are telling ourselves the wrong things to be successful. We start writing the wrong stories.

          Stories like “I’m not a morning person”, or “I’m so disorganized”, or (and this is one of the worst) “I can’t do that”.

          The key to being a successful person, and reaching your goals is to flip the switch on this crap talk. I can’t make you a morning person (I’m not one either, but I sure can fake it), but I can help you become a “I am really productive between the hours of 1pm and 6pm” person.

          “I’m so disorganized”? Flip that sucker on it’s bum and bing bang boom, we’ve got “I use tools like scheduled reminders and label makers for keeping my life in order.”

          And “I can’t”? Well there are just SO many ways of dealing with that one.

          My personal favourite is to just remove it from my vocabulary, but I know that’s not easy. I believe that everything can be tackled when broken into bite sized bits.

          “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time” (Creighton Abrams).

          For me, that means research and lists.

          When I first began thinking about opening the shop, I got super excited, followed almost instantly by totally overwhelmed. But I knew I wanted to do it so I had to chop that baby up into tiny little nuggets. Location, Funding, Staff, Product.

          And then I broke those nuggets into smaller nugettes like store front on Mill Street, Line of Credit/Family Loans, Tamara/Friends, Local Makers I know, and 3 months later I opened the doors to Hello Yellow (now Cheerfully Made Goods + Markets).

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          Opening day at Hello Yellow, July 2013

          So what do you want to do differently this year?

          Write it. Say it. And start making a conscious effort to banish any negative talk from your mind.

          You are so powerful.

          You’ve just gotta start using that power for good and good will come.

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          Me, happier than a pig in sh*t on opening night.

          A lot of you seem to have “grow my business” on your list, and some have already begun asking me about upcoming craft shows, specifically Etsy Made in Canada. We WILL be hosting the show again this September (get on our mailing list and stay in the know!) and if this is something you have been dreaming about applying to, I’m going to give you a great tool to DO IT.

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          Shopper among the crowds at Etsy Made in Canada / Ottawa

          It should be noted that you do NOT have to have an Etsy shop to participate in every one of our shows, but for the Etsy: Made in Canada, you do. If you’re not especially savvy with technology, opening up an Etsy shop can feel overwhelming. Not to worry, you’ve got lots of time.

          In an effort to help all of us, Etsy has come up with a series of steps and tutorials to help you launch and/or perfect your Etsy shop. It’s called Etsy Resolution and this is the 2nd year in a row they’ve run it.

          All you have to do is visit www.etsy.com/ca/resolution, enter your email address, and beginning January 27th your inbox will start receiving little bite sized steps, tips and tricks to both launching, and killing it on Etsy.

          No, I am not being paid to endorse the program.

          Yes, I have done it myself and, as a result, can attest that it’s exactly what you need to get off your wee crafty tush and start selling.

          So there you go.

          This year’s story is going to be different because you’re going to take action one step at a time. Whether it’s growing your business, or spending more time with your family, or making new connections, or ALL of those things. You can DO it.

          I’m here if you need me.

          xo Em