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Taking Better Pictures // I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends

I’m trying to take better pictures.

I’ve got this great little shop full of awesome stuff. I spend tireless hours merchandising and making everything look beautiful, and then I take crappy, dark images of everything and post them to social media.

It would be impossible to capture the actual feel of the shop in 1 dimension, but I can’t help but think I could be doing a slightly better job.

Because I know that you can’t be good at everything (Oh, I try…oh lawwwwwd how i try), I believe that asking for help is always a super great idea.

So today, in a fit of frustration at simply NOT being able to achieve what I want to with my photos, I contacted my friend Justine McNeely and asked if she could come see me in the shop, have a closer look at my Instagram feed, and give me a diagnosis/recommendation for improvement.

Best thing I did all day. All week even. (And I did some good stuff this week).

The first thing we agreed upon is a lack of cohesiveness in my social media feeds.

Personally, I think my followers like that I’m not striving for any sort of perfection. And that it’s pretty obvious that I’m capturing moments as they occur without worrying too much about composition and lighting…but there are some editing features I could certainly be taking advantage of.

Justine’s diagnosis? Pick a lane and set a few rules for myself.


When possible shoot products on one of 3 backgrounds in the shop so that viewers are taken TO the shop when they see the pics. Rather than having items on a boring old white background.

I believe Justine’s words were “Walmart shoots on a white background.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with a white background (obviously) but it doesn’t really speak to what makes Cheerfully Made special. If that makes sense.FullSizeRender

Group products together by layering on top of one another and don’t be afraid to have them cropped within the picture.

Shoot in the square so things don’t get too disrupted when uploading to social media.

IMG_6789Brighten everything up a bit to make everything a little more “cheery”. Adjust shadows and saturation, but not too much. Keep it real. Just not ugly real. Leave that for the kid pics :)

FullSizeRender (1)

Already things look better.

Not perfect, but better. I’m not trying to pretend I’m a photographer, but it’s always fun to tweak a skill and get the perspective of someone who knows her stuff.

Those three pics were taken just on my iPhone, but I did have Justine take a few product and shop shots because I think it’s the balance I’m missing. Toss more professional shots in the mix and I’ll give off a more polished look online.


IMG_8594  Look at this adorable place.IMG_8597



Stay tuned for a post about that wicked sign. Made by this guy.


Don’t follow me online yet?

Check me out on Instagram and Facebook to see how things are going to evolve around here.

I mean theoretically. Good to have goals.

xo Em

Shop, Show

Reinventing the Brand

When I opened Hello Yellow in the summer of 2013, I couldn’t have anticipated any of what was to come over the course of the following two years. All I had really wanted to do was be part of the evolving downtown Almonte scene again, and create a new vehicle for the hand-makers I’d met over my years organizing the Handmade Harvest Craft Show.

What began as a small little shop filled with handmade items from across North America (mostly local) rapidly grew into something much more. I quickly learned that by purchasing products from actual people instead of faceless importers, I was connecting with individuals who became immediately invested in my success. And bonus! They all had Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Some of them knew how to work with retailers (ie wholesale, package and brand their product), and some of them needed guidance, but despite the obstacles I came across originally, working with them was so rewarding, and improved my brand’s reach tenfold.

But what was my brand? I had Hello Yellow, Handmade Harvest Craft Show and I had recently begun working with Etsy Canada as a brand ambassador here in Ottawa. I had multiple websites and email addresses, and keeping up with all of that communication was becoming an increasingly daunting and confusing chore.

I longed for cohesiveness, and simplicity while still having the flexibility to grow.

Continue Reading

Make, Shop

Spring Windows // Win a $25 gift card!

One of the best best best things about having a brick and mortar retail shop is the merchandising.

Specifically the windows. I love perusing Pinterest for inspiration (I have a whole board dedicated JUST to windows), trolling second hand shops for props, and turning nothing into something.

Sadly, because I’m so run-off-my-feet busy these days, windows are taking a back seat on the ole priority list.

Thankfully I have two GORGEOUS staff members who are pretty darned keen to pick up my slack.

This month, I tasked my girls to each tackle a window display.

I gave them a $60 budget and free reign to interpret spring as best they could. I dangled the reward of a gift card to the shop, but the truth is, I can’t pick so everybody wins this round.

I think they did a pretty amazing job, but you tell me.

I’d love to know which is your favourite.


Since it’s always sunny in Almonte (I shit you not), my windows are nearly impossible to photograph, but here goes nuthin’.

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Life, Shop

Giveaway // Oh Susanna

As the main sponsor for Almonte’s incredible Folkus Concert Series, one of the perks is I get to go to all the shows. Sadly, this month, I won’t be in town for, what I think, is going to be THE best show of the entire season.

Oh Susanna



“Suzie Ungerleider began performing as Oh Susanna in the mid-1990s, crafting a persona that matched the timeless qualities of her music, sounds that drew from the deep well of early 20th Century folk, country and blues, yet rooted in her finely-honed storytelling skills.

This Canadian songstress has a voice that can pierce a heart of stone. Her superbly crafted songs often tell stories of troubled souls who rebel against their circumstances to attain a quiet dignity.
Opening for Oh Susanna, Danny Albert (violin) and Max Donaldson (piano) are a couple of old pros disguised as teenagers. Locals who have watched their talent blossom over the years will be pleased; first-timers will be delighted and amazed. Their modern take on traditional instrumentals is dazzling.”*


Folkus concerts are something to behold. They take place at the historic Almonte Old Town Hall. It’s an intimate setting in the heart of town, and the acoustics are encroyable. Also, there’s a resident bat. Which is slightly creepy/gross, but definitely adds to the experience.

Oh Susanna takes the stage this Saturday March 28th from 8pm to 11:30pm with opening act Danny Albert and Max Donaldson.

Wanna go?

I have FOUR tickets. Two pairs.

You could have dinner first. Ooo! That’d be nice! Maybe a wee shop at Hello Yellow or some of my other Mill Street Pals.

To be entered to WIN simply comment on this post!

Draw will be held at 8pm on Thursday March 26th.


*taken from the Folkus website



Your Ass is Mine Valentine

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day my friends!

I know, I know. Half of you are all like “Blargh, Valentine’s Day was invented by the good people of Hallmark Emily. We’re not buying.”

The other half of you are “Ooooo! Love! We LOVE love!”

Whatever camp you fall into, I’m pretty confident I’ve got just the card.

Because when it come to Valentine’s Day (or any occasion really) Emily McDowell knows just what to say.

For example:

224C_PresenceInMyPants_1024x1024 208-c-look-at-my-phone-card_1024x1024 225C_LoveYouWearingThat_1024x1024227-c-new-red-love-shit-card_1024x1024

All of these cards, and many more are available in store AND online right now (go!).

Order by February 9th for guaranteed delivery.

I love you.