Meet Kirsten of Striped Pear Studio

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We were lucky enough to chat with the beautiful Kirsten Sevig, owner of Striped Pear Studio, about herself, her business, and her amazing artwork! Kirsten is an accomplished illustrator known for her feel-good, eco-friendly watercolor prints and products (stationery, fabrics, wallpaper, and gift wrap). Her growing company is a stunning reflection of her compassion to share art that makes people happy, and we are excited to share her thoughts on business, life, and inspiration.

Why did you decide to start Striped Pear Studio?

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I wanted to try something different. I had been a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for years. I had been working for other companies and clients, putting my work on products for others and using my ideas to sell entities apart from myself. When asked why I didn’t just have my own business, I always said I wasn’t good at promoting myself or being my own boss, but I knew that was an excuse. I had never really given it a solid try. During a particularly dry spell in my freelance career, I started a daily art practice that was really healing and soothing, and by the time I developed the courage to start Striped Pear Studio, I had a body of work to use and a fairly cohesive, colorful brand, too. I guess I wanted to prove my doubting self wrong and see if this was really something I could do.

 

Where do you find inspiration?

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Everywhere! I can find inspiration anywhere. I could go on indefinitely about where I find inspiration, because I am never lacking in ideas or sources of inspiration. I think exploring and getting out to new places is really inspiring, and I would encourage anyone who feels stuck to go outside and walk around somewhere, whether it is your neighborhood or someplace you have never been. Really looking around and noticing new things can be very inspiring. And you can always notice something new if you really look.

 

We love that you print all of your artwork locally! What is your process for choosing your paper or finishes?

I always want my customers to feel that they are getting a good value, so I strive to select papers that give the best quality prints, getting as close to the originals as possible. When it came time to select a paper stock for my stationery line, I wanted my products to really reflect the originals in the texture, matte sheen, and color of the watercolor paper I created the originals on.  Equally important to me was my desire to print my cards on 100% recycled paper using vegetable-based inks. I was thrilled to find 100% recycled paper that had a great texture and the right tone of white, too. I was giddy when I felt the paper that met all of my criteria, and my printer who found the paper can attest to that. It felt like a great value in my hands, and it aligned with my values, too. Win win!

 

We know you are launching Striped Pear Studio's first organic quilting cotton collection with Windham Fabrics this April. What has that journey been like?

It was a really great learning experience. I learned how to strike a balance in this collaboration between my artistic vision and what Windham Fabrics wanted from me. There were some requested changes to my patterns that I was unwilling to make, and thankfully they really respected my artistic integrity when I stood my ground, but there were some changes I agreed to make because they know their market better than I do and have a better understanding of what a quilter is looking for when it comes to scale and patterns. It was a challenge for me to know when to say yes and when to say no, but a challenge that helped me grow and learn. I also have a much better understanding now of how fabric is printed, how colors are separated onto different screens, and the possibilities and limitations in fabric design. I definitely look forward to creating more fabric collections in the future! And I am so excited to see what people create using my Paint the Town fabrics!

 

We are seeing a trend of brides and grooms incorporating beautiful illustrations to different aspects of design for their big day--such as invitations and place cards. Do you have any favorite trends for 2018?

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I typically don’t pay much attention to trends, but I happened upon a random list that mentioned plants with patterned leaves are a trend for 2018?!! Now that is a trend I can get behind. I love striped leaves and polka-dotted leaves, so I hope that I see patterned plants popping up everywhere this year. Talk about inspiration!

 

We adore all of your illustrations. Do you have a favorite subject to paint and a favorite color palette?

I love painting patterns that I make up as I go because they are so relaxing and meditative for me. In particular, I love to make up plants because anything goes when it comes to plants! At times I have painted something thinking it was far fetched, only to discover later that something like it really exists.

I definitely have a favorite color palette, too. Interestingly enough, it is a physical palette. My 12 color travel watercolor set is my favorite color palette. Once I swapped out a few of the colors it came with, I had my favorite color palette that I can take with me anywhere! The colors are:

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White (Gouache)
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Yellow Ochre
Viridian
Indigo
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine
Quinachridone Red
Cadmium Red
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Cadmium Yellow Pale


What is your creative process when beginning a new design?

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When I am “making it up as I go,” my process is really intuitive and consists of a series of small decisions that guide me to my next decisions. I start with a warm beverage, typically… a cup of tea or a sweet chai. (I take a sip and alternate between painting and sipping.) I open my watercolor journal to a blank page, choose a color that I’m wanting to see on that page, and I begin to paint a shape. Sometimes I have no idea what I am going to make and I really discover it as I am going along, but other times I have an idea in mind before my brush touches the paper. Once I have put the first shape on the page, it helps determine the next shape I paint and so on. I play a lot with negative space (the blank spaces in between things) and color combinations to create compositions that are pleasing to my eyes, and I do that pretty automatically and subconsciously, but sometimes I intentionally try something that I know might not work. Part of my process is to take risks, too, and to make “mistakes.” I put mistakes in quotation marks, simply because in art, mistakes can be somewhat intentional and really helpful learning tools. One only knows when to stop, for example, by taking a piece three steps past the ideal stopping point. I love that my paintings are contained in this portable book, and that I can always turn the page and start anew. My watercolor journal feels like a really safe place for me to explore and try things out and make mistakes, and all of those things have helped me to continue to grow as an artist.

Do you enjoy creating any other types of art?

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Yes! My background is actually in musical theater, so I love to dance and sing and perform. That is a very different type of art, of course. I am an extroverted artist who is self-aware enough to know that I still crave applause, but thankfully Instagram has given me a platform and an audience that is kind and supportive of me and my work. There are many other types of art I want to try, too! I really want to get into ceramics. I have many ideas for pottery I would love to be able to make. For now, however, my dream is to write and illustrate my own children’s book. I’m working on improving my skills this month, challenging myself to illustrate people everyday and work towards that goal. I have illustrated books for children, but never illustrated my own story, so I am looking forward to making that dream a reality.

Your book is the physical representation of happiness and joy. Why did you decide to create it, did you learn anything during the process, and can we look forward to another book in the future?

Aww! Thank you so much! That is music to my ears! An editor at Countryman Press was kind enough to reach out to me about creating a gift book with them. The challenge for me was to come up with a book proposal. I had a lot of colorful artwork to use, but I needed to figure out what I would write to go along with it. People gave me suggestions, like hand lettering quotations about happiness, but that isn’t something I would do unprompted and didn’t feel like a genuine expression coming from me. I really hadn’t considered myself a writer, but after looking back at my Instagram posts, I found that when I shared my work, I often shared more in my captions about how I was feeling or what I was thinking, and because I wasn’t trying to sound one way or another, it was really sincere and it was my voice. That was how my book idea came about. I wanted to create my book from that place of sincerity and generosity. I wanted to make a book that could fit in someone’s pocket, lift someone’s spirits, put a smile on someone’s face, and remind someone of something they themselves really love or perhaps needed to hear.

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I learned a lot during the process! For example, it became crystal clear to me after receiving some sample spreads with my words and illustrations laid out by another designer that I really needed to have creative control when it came to the layout and design of my book. Though my artwork can be cute and cluttered, my design aesthetic is organized, modern and minimal, and that pairing is really pleasing to me. Thankfully my editor was happy to let me do my own design and layout work. I am thrilled with how it turned out because it is me through and through!

(You can buy Kirsten’s book, Striped Pears and Polka Dots: The Art of Being Happy, on Amazon!)
 

What would be your number one piece of advice for someone looking to start their own business from the ground up?

My number one piece of advice for anyone doing anything is to be genuine and generous. It doesn’t sound like business advice, because when we think about business we think about how to make money from what we do, but I believe in being self-aware and principled in everything I do, including business. People want to support and help people who are genuine and generous. Nobody wants to be exploited. Really think about what makes an exchange fair. Think more about what you can give than what you can receive. How can you help? I think these are the important things to keep in mind that will make any venture more fulfilling. It isn’t all about money (at least, it isn’t for me). It’s about creating an exchange where everyone wins.

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Lastly, this isn’t so much a piece of advice as something to keep in mind…

Nobody has it all figured out. Learning, figuring it out, asking for help, making mistakes, and failing as you try are all worthwhile. That is how you can become more resilient. We are all just making it up as we go along. Everyone is afraid. Other people may appear to have it all, but they really don’t. Don’t be fooled and try your very best not to be jealous of what you perceive to be perfection. You don’t ever know someone’s full story or what was in the margins of that perfectly cropped photo someone is sharing. That is why it is not fair to compare yourself to others. Be more considerate and kind to yourself. Life can give us stumbling blocks or lucky breaks. We aren’t given the same opportunities and privileges. Rather than comparing yourself to someone who appears to have it all figured out, define success for yourself. If you measure success differently, and you can always be successful.
 

Giveaway!

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If you’re as in love with Kirsten’s prints as we are, head over to Instagram to enter our giveaway for the chance to win one of Kirsten’s prints or her new book! You can find Kirsten on Instagram at @kirstensevig and through her online shop!

Congratulations to our winners of Kirsten's beautiful work!

Meet Jaime of Vintage Metal Co

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We were lucky enough to chat with Jaime, busy mom and owner of Vintage Metal Co. to hear about her thriving business, how she keeps the balance and so much more! We love her beautiful signs and know that you will too. Be sure to check out her shop and use our code INSPIRED25 for 25% off your order!

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PI: We absolutely love your story. Where do you draw your inspiration for new designs from?

JB: When we first started the business I had the idea to have brand reps on a two month rotation so that we would get to work with new ideas at a regular pace. Having brand reps has pushed me to try new things that I didn't know possible. I also continually add custom pieces that I think other customers would love.

Every time I see a new photo from a customer or brand rep I think, “This is my favorite!”
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PI: How do you balance being a homeschooling mom, wife, and successful business woman?

JB: We have homeschooled our two children  for eight years now. I have it kind of easy in that our girls are only one grade apart. The only subject we do separately is math, and all of the other subjects we are able to do as a group, which saves us a lot of time because we aren't doing two of every single subject. We always do school first thing in the morning since it's the first priority, and my kids learn best in the morning anyway. It helps that we are all early risers! My husband and I have some family guidelines that we live by and it helps keep everything in order. We try to never ever work past 4 pm and we have dinner together as a family every night. Weekends are for fun, rest, and family. I always put work into perspective of being something that adds to our lives, but doesn't control our lives.

PI: You have such a wide variety of styles and colors in your shop! What’s your favorite piece?

JB: Oh gosh, this is a HARD question! Every time I see a new photo from a customer or brand rep I think, "This is my favorite!" Ha ha! I have several pieces up in my own house. My favorites always seem to be the special, custom pieces because I love to see them come to life.

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PI: What would be your number one piece of advice for someone looking to start their own business from the ground up?

JB: I would say to go all in! It can be scary, but it has been the biggest blessing to our family. One of the best parts are the relationships that you will build along the way. Find a mentor, and learn from someone who is willing to teach you. Join The Rising Tide Society (it's FREE!) and meet other local entrepreneurs at a Tuesdays Together monthly meeting in your area. You will learn a new aspect of business every month and it is completely free.

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Want your company to be featured on Parsimony? Email us at editorial@parsimonyvintage.com for more information!

Meet Mallory of Ellucy Stitches

We were lucky enough to sit down with Mallory Bailey, owner and founder of the adorable etsy shop Ellucy Stitches, to discuss her booming success, how she got started, and her tips for anyone looking to start their own business. Ellucy Stitches is a one stop shop for anyone who loves embroidery -- purchase a handmade hoop, a kit to create a hoop on your own, or even just a pattern!


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PI: We absolutely adore your work! Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your shop?

MB: I am so flattered! I am 26 years old and I live in Richmond, Virginia with my boyfriend and our two cats, Ellie and Lucy. (Get it? Ellucy Stitches?) By day I am an office manager for a local electrical testing company (most boring job ever). In March of 2017 I opened my Etsy shop, Ellucy Stitches. I make and sell modern and colorful hand embroidery pieces, patterns and kits!

PI: How did you get started with embroidery?

MB: I actually bought a pattern in January of 2017, ran to the local craft store to gather supplies and got to work! After a few minutes I was hooked! I am completely self-taught and there are things that I am still learning. I fell in love with the entire process. Creating something from my brain onto paper and then onto fabric just stuck! I absolutely love the process of stitching. It gives me an opportunity to bring my ideas to life.

PI: Where do you find inspiration for your patterns? We love how youthful and fun they are!

MB: I have a running list of ideas on my phone. Whenever something comes to me I make sure to take note of it. Sometimes I’ll see a certain color palette and a design will take off from there! I try to stay original and make things a bit different than what I’ve seen. It’s pretty funny because if you met me, I tend to wear very neutral colors and my embroidery is much brighter and more colorful than my own personal clothing style.

PI: What’s your favorite item in your shop?

MB: I would have to say my kits. I put in so much time and attention to those. I tried to create something that I would have loved when I was just starting out. Something simple and easy to follow, but also beautiful. I am constantly trying to find the best quality products I can for my kits. I also absolutely adore seeing my customers progress pictures and helping them along the way!

 

PI: Do you like to embroider other items in addition to your home decor pieces?

MB: I haven’t started to do that quite yet, but I have been toying with the idea of embroidering t-shirts and pillows. I would love to add a little pop of color.

PI: Are there any new, exciting things we should be keeping an eye out for?

MB: I am currently working on making some new and interesting floral hoops. My goal is to make something I haven't really shown my customers yet, something different. I am also toying with the idea of small custom table numbers for weddings. I just want to grow my brand and make it as DIY friendly as possible. I try to offer a pattern of most hoops I make, so I'll keep adding those as well!

PI: What tips do you have for someone looking to start their own business?

MB: JUST DO IT! I was nervous starting mine, but I have learned SO much along the way. I’d definitely say that there is NO such thing as being too organized. Save receipts, keep a notebook, keep lists on your phone- just do anything that helps you remember all the little pieces that come up throughout any given day. Never be afraid to say that you’re overwhelmed. I am one person running my shop, so most evenings after work I am stitching or putting kits together and taking things to the post office. There are times where I just simply cannot keep up. When this happens, I put some items on vacation until I can catch up. It’s completely okay to work at whatever pace YOU need. Remember that we are all learning as we go and that it’s okay to ask questions!


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Aren’t you in love?! Head over to Instagram for a giveaway of one of her beautiful embroidery hoops! You can find Mallory on Instagram at @ellucystitches and at her Etsy shop, Ellucy Stitches.

Want your company to be featured on Parsimony? Email us at editorial@parsimonyvintage.com for more information!

Vendor Spotlight: the American Farmhouse

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We sat down with Meghan Ashman, the owner and creator of The American Farmhouse, where she creates handmade, custom signs for your home. Meghan weighed in on style influencers, favorite items in her shop, and advice for anyone looking to start their own Etsy shop. Be sure to take a peek at her gorgeous shop!

 

 

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What inspired you to start The American Farmhouse?

I started The American Farmhouse in the beginning of 2013 when I was in school and trying to make a small side income while doing something that I loved. At the start in 2013, my small business wasn't signs, but repurposing furniture (dining room sets, hutches, dressers, etc.). Last year after my daughter was born, I was blessed with the opportunity to stay home with her and thought it was the perfect time to re-open The American Farmhouse! I jumped in with new styles, a new logo, less furniture, and more home décor signs!
 
What's your favorite item in your shop?

My favorite signs are my large custom song lyrics signs. Most people use them for over the bed. They can customize the lyrics from their weddings, special Bible verses in their life, etc. It really gives me the joy to see something so special to someone!

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Who are your biggest style influencers?

There are so many amazing people I look to for style! Some of the top ladies I can think of on Instagram that I look to daily for "inspo" are Liz Marie Blog (@lizmariegalvan), Erin at Cotton Stem (@cottonstem), and Sarah at Dreaming of Homemaking (@dreamingofhomemaking).

What would be your number one piece of advice for someone just starting up their own Etsy shop?

My number one piece of advice for someone would be to just not be afraid to start and jump all in! Starting a new business, whether a brick and mortar store or an online store can be extremely nerve wracking! You always have the thought in your mind like "what if people don't like my stuff?" Once you jump in and get a feel for things, then you start to feel comfortable branching out, learning more, networking, and so on. Networking is the best tool for your business! Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., the more people you are connecting with, the better your business will be.

My number one piece of advice for someone would be to just not be afraid to start and jump all in!

Want to win one of Meghan’s gorgeous signs?! We’re giving away this lovely Home Sweet Home sign to one of our readers. Head over to our Instagram account for all the details!

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Interested in having your own sponsored post? Contact us at editorial@parsimonyvintage.com for more information!