Indie Biz Spotlight: Halloween Edition

Hello!
We’re officially in October now which can mean only one thing. Halloween is coming! I don’t know about you but I love Halloween. Wednesday Addams is my pretty much my spirit animal. I love spooky, dark things, getting dressed up and throwing spooky themed parties. You also know how much I love indie businesses too. I started my own one for goodness sake! So it will come as no surprise to you that I love to champion and show off other people’s indie businesses too. Well, that’s exactly what I’ve done in this blog post. Kick back, relax, peruse through this list of Halloween inspired products from UK indie businesses and be ready to get your spook on.


1. Hey Pumpkin Print - Print Perfect UK
This super cute print is available in A5 and A4 from Emily at Print Perfect UK. I just love pumpkins and this gorgeous watercolour effect print is perfect for adding a piece of Autumn to your home.

hey pumpkin.jpg


2.
Hocus Pocus Illustrated Print - Lost Plots Shop
Hocus Pocus is such a classic Halloween film and this beautiful print encapsulates all of that. Based on Lisa’s original pen and ink illustration, this A4 print is perfect for adding a splash of spookiness to your Autumnal decor.

hocus pocus.jpg

3. Black Cat Print - Aimee Marie Art
This stunning art print conjures up all feelings of the supernatural and everything thats great about Halloween. I highly recommend checking out all of Aimee’s prints, I fell in love with pretty much all of them after coming across this print. If you like the weird and the wonderful, go check a girl out.

black cat.jpg

4. Hand Painted Jack Skellington Glasses- Helen’s Bespoke Glass
I saw these on Etsy and you all know how much I love The Nightmare Before Christmas! I just thought that this cute little set of 4 hand-painted glasses with different Jack expressions would be perfect for a spooky dinner party.

jack glasses.jpg

5. Handpainted Ghost Teapot -Hand Drawn World
I thought this hand painted teapot was absolutely adorable! It’s perfect for younger children or for spooky dinner party or Halloween party. There is a choice of two sizes for the teapots (450ml and 1.1L capacities) and each one is hand drawn.

ghost teapot.jpg

6. Halloween To The Moon T-shirt - Earth Delight
I just love how unique this T-shirt design is! This striking pumpkin space design is right up my street. All their T-shirts are printed on organic cotton and unisex.

halloween to the moon.jpg

7. 3 Eyed Doll Statement Necklace - Jawline Jewellery
If you love statement jewellery pieces and odd things, you are going to love this shop! Full of pieces perfect for the Halloween season. This statement necklace has retro doll eyes, complete with lashes. This style design is available as brooches, earrings and more.

eye necklace.jpg

8. Eyeball Pins - Rock Cakes
This is the first of many enamel pins on this list! Eyeballs are inherently spooky anyway, plus these ones from Rock Cakes are bright green and pink which are perfect Halloween colours, but perfect for those of you that don’t like just black.

eye ball pins.jpg

9. Hanging Bat Earrings - Neat Eats
Hands up if you love bats! I find bats to be so cute and these earrings are even cuter! The bats are hanging upside down in hanging silver plated earrings. The bats have lovely detail that are perfect for a cute pop of Halloween this season.

hanging bat earrings.jpg

10. Bat Enamel Pin - Darwin Designs Cards
I may have a thing for bats, it would seem from the last two finds! I just love how sweet and detailed this enamel pin is. It makes for a perfect pop of spooky just in time for Halloween. The pin comes in soft enamel and with a choice of three metal finishes.

bat pin.jpg

11. Black Witches Cat Enamel Pin - Glitter Punk Jewellery
As well as bats, it seems this post may have a lot of black cats too! How gorgeous is this black cat in a Witch’s hat pin from Glitter Punk Jewellery?! This is a 40mm gold hard enamel pin with beautiful purple shaded flowers.

witches cat.jpg


12.
Black Cat Castle Sweatshirt - Hello Dodo
I’m a sucker for anything from Hello Dodo, I have most of their products on my wish list. This gorgeously Halloweeny sweatshirt celebrating the beauty of black cats is definitely on there. Wonderfully screenprinted by husband and wife duo Ali and Jam, with a little help from their pug Hero

hello dodo 2.jpg

13. Frida Sugar Skull Pin - Corazon Pom Pom
Any Frida fans in the house? I love how Cat from Corazon Pom Pom has made the classic Frida look Day of the Dead inspired with this Mexican Sugar Skull design. Plus she’s even got little hanging earrings! How cool is that!

frida pin.jpg

14. Glittery Cat Brooch - Hello Sunshine
I own several of Hello Sunshine products and this gorgeous glittery cat brooch is on my lust list. So I can shout from the rooftops about the quality of the goods from this lovely lady. To me, there’s nothing that screams Halloween to me more than pumpkins and black cats, plus this one is sparkly!

cat brooch jo.jpg

15. X-Ray Cat Brooch - Birch please HQ
How gorgeous and unique is this brooch from Birch Please?! I love anatomy and science, so this beautiful cat X-ray brooch is perfect. You’ll be sure to get compliments on this whenever you wear it.

xray cat.jpg

16. Eyeballs Collar Clips - Midgardian Treasures
Eyeballs! Collar clips! That’s a win win in my opinion. Made from Ellie’s original drawings, these collar clips have lapel pin backs and are attached by a 14cm gunmetal chain. Perfect from adding to your Halloween outfits or adding some spook to your everyday outfits.

eyeball clips.jpg

17. Skull Print - Dots and Ink Pots
How could I do a Halloween Indie business spotlight and not mention one of my own prints?! One of my favourite anatomy prints is the Skull. It was the first design I ever did when thinking about designs for my shop and it holds a special place in my black heart.

skull print.jpg

18. Halloween Stickers -Peach Panda Studio
How cute are these Halloween stickers from Rachel at Peach Panda Studio? The vinyl sticker packs contain 21 spooky stickers featuring her own illustrations. These would be perfect for your planners, BuJos, laptop, phone cases or whatever you need to make spooky!

halloweeen stickeres.jpg

19. Flower Ghost Enamel Pin - Nutmeg and Arlo
The lovely fellow Elle from Nutmeg and Arlo has so many gorgeous spooky themed pins that it was so hard to choose. I just loved how cute this little flower ghost was, I mean look at its little face!

flower ghost.jpg

20. Yappy Halloween Button Card - Hey Hi Hello Art

This cute card combines my two favourite things: dogs and Halloween! This lovely design features real buttons which can be customised with certain colours and there are five dog designs to choose from!

yappy halloween.jpg

21. Autumn Sticker Pack - Eves Forest
How cute are Laura’s stickers? They are based on her original gouache paintings of the wonders of Autumn. You get five lovely stickers in the pack too. My favourite is the pumpkin.

autumnal sticker pack.jpg

22. Halloween Sticker Pack - Hey Hey Ginger Shop
Halloween and puns? YES PLEASE! Kate at Hey Hey Ginger has suggested that these adorable stickers are perfect for decorating your pumpkin with this year instead of carving it! Why not give them a go?

halloween sticker pack.jpg

23. Halloween Edition Marshmallows and Vegan Chocolate Orange Fudge - The Whimsical KItchen
Whilst I have to wait for The Whimsical Kitchen to finish developing the perfect Vegan marshmallows, she does wonderful non-vegan Halloween edition marshmallow kits. What us Vegans can have though, is her deliciously sounding Vegan Chocolate Orange Fudge. Yum, Yum, Yum!

vegan fudge.jpg
halloween marshmallows.jpg

24. Acrylic Bite Me Necklace - Bonnie Bling
How about this for a statement necklace piece! This stunning laser cut acrylic Bite Me necklace screams all the Halloween vibes but you can definitely wear it all year long.

bite me.jpg

25. Ghost Sticker Set - Katnipp Illustrations
I love watching Catherine’s vlogs over on her Youtube channel and in one of her recent ones, she showed you how she designed and made these gorgeous ghost stickers which are available in a set! Perfect for sticking on your laptop, in your bullet journal or on your phone case.

ghost sticker.jpg

26. Embroidered Ghost Black Sweatshirt - Pom Pom Stores
Sticking with the ghost theme, this hand stitched ghost jumper is perfect for everyday spookiness. Plus this jumper is unisex so it’s perfect for slouchy, autumn days.

ghost sweater.jpg

27. Sparkly Pumpkin Coin Purse - PupTart
Pumpkins, Pumpkins. I love pumpkins. This hand produced sparkly coin purse by PupTart is beautiful and perfect for stashing cash and an extra supply of sweeties.

28. Halloween Orange Spider Dog Bow Tie - Knot Just Bow Ties
Let’s not forget about our furry doggo pals on Halloween! If you don’t want to dress your dog in a full costume, adding a cute little spooky bow tie is the perfect touch!

dog bow tie.jpg

29. Toddler Spider Maxi Dress - Witching Hour Baby

This is perfect for any parents with young children. If I had a child, I would put her in it every day. I most definitely would have a goth baby!! With a screen printed white spider, this dress couldn’t get any more perfect for your little ones. Oh wait. It has POCKETS!

witching hour spider.jpg

30. Skeleton Skull Mouth Cup and Saucer - Illustration by Jones
If you know me, you’ll know that I love anatomy and Pathology - I sell anatomy prints for goodness sake! So you’ll know how much I adore these beautiful ceramics with her hand illustrated designs on. This skeleton skull cup and saucer would be a conversation starter at any Halloween party. I’d have it on display all year round.

skull cup and saucer.jpg

31. Personalised Witches Brew Mug - Nikki Moksha Designs
Perfect for sipping on your brew of preference, with the added bonus of being able to personalise the mug with any name! The mug is dishwasher and microwave safe and is based on Nikki’s watercolour paintings.

witches brew.jpg

Well there you have it! 31 spooktacular Etsy finds that will be perfect for upping your Halloween game as well as supporting independent businesses and artists.

Community over competition
Elle x

Autumn To Do List

Autumn is here!

Get ready for an influx of pumpkins, burnt orange and hot chocolates, because they’re coming!
In honour of my favourite season and my love of writing lists, I have composed a list of my favourite Autumnal things to do to make sure you make the most of the best time of year!

1. Pick Your Own Pumpkin - Nothing says Autumn to me like going to a pumpkin patch, looking for the biggest one you can possibly find and then trying to carry it all the way back to pay for it.

2. Make Pumpkin Pie - I made my first ever Pumpkin Pie a couple of years ago and I loved it. It’s definitely on the list again this year.

3. Crisp Sunrise Walks - This is something I would love to do this year and take some lovely photos around town. Make sure to wrap up warm though!

4. Wear Cosy Jumpers - I don’t know about you but I would much rather be cold than too hot. At least if you’re cold you can wrap up warm and cosy. It makes sense then that 90% of my wardrobe is thick, cosy, soft jumpers.

5. Hot Chocolates - I haven’t had a vegan hot chocolate yet but I’m planning on warming some Oat Milk in a pan and whisking in a big scoop of the new Vego Chocolate spread. Mmmm.

6. Halloween Parties - Halloween is my absolute favourite holiday! I’m a dark soul at heart and being able to be surrounded by creepy/ spooky things and adding some to the home decor makes me very happy.

7. Watch Halloween Films - I’m not a fan of scary movies but if you are, now is the perfect time to watch them! My all time favourite Halloween film is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Plus it doubles up as a Christmas film!

8. Have A Bonfire - If you can’t have one in your garden, there are normally places around town that organise community bonfires for Bonfire/Guy Fawkes Night. This is primarily a UK tradition on the 5th November to commemorate a failed assassination plot on King James I by Guy Fawkes and others. The plot was foiled and to celebrate that the King survived, people lit bonfires around London - hence the tradition. Nothing beats sitting round the warmth of the fire in coats and scarves.

9. Roast Some Vegan Marshmallows - This year I want to roast Vegan marshmallows on the bonfire! Sandwich them in between some Digestive biscuits and you’re on to a winner.

10. Watch The Fireworks - If you don’t want to get hold of your own fireworks, there are normally loads of firework displays held around town so even if you don’t want to leave your house, you can probably see some from your window. There’s something about sparklers and a crowd of people snuggled together in big coats watching the lights that is magical.

11. Mulled Wine or Mulled Cider - I tried mulled wine a year ago and it’s growing on me. It’s a classic Autumn/Winter beverage and the sweet cinnamon spices make it a great warming drink.

12. Stew and Dumplings - This is a classic Autumn/Winter dish for many in the UK. I’m looking forward to making my first Vegan stew this Autumn. Big, hearty dishes are my absolute fave in cold weather.

13. Ghost Walks - I’m yet to do one of these but as the darker evenings draw in they look to be a great Autumn activity, especially around Halloween.

14. Carve A Pumpkin - I absolutely love carving pumpkins so I try and do it every year. I have plans to paint some pumpkins as well this year so i’m looking forward to that. Carving can be messy but good fun is normally a bit messy!

15. Toffee Apples
- Apples coated in toffee is a perfect Bonfire treat or on a Halloween party table.

16. Lighting Festive Candles - I am a huge lover of candles and apple cinnamon smells are the best so being able to light festive smelling candles are a great part of Autumn/Winter. Plus they make any space super cosy.

17. Putting Fairy Lights Everywhere - I personally like to fill my house with as many fairy lights as possible. I like my kitchen to channel Nigella vibes as I dream of baking at night by the light of loads of fairy lights. There’s just something so magical about loads of twinkly lights.

18. Eating Cinnamon Swirls
- I just recently made some Cinnamon Swirls and I had to wonder why I hadn’t made them sooner. They were super easy, delicious and incredibly festive. Cinnamon is just the best festive smell.

19. Making Apple Crumble/ Apple Pie - Warm sweet fruit desserts are always a winner for me and again there is that cinnamon! I love baking at this time of year, there’s just something so cosy about it.

20. Apple Bobbing - A typical Halloween/Bonfire activity. No party is complete without it!

21. Make Your Christmas Cake -
I used to make Christmas cakes for the family before I was Vegan and I would normally start them in late August/early September in order to be able to feed them long enough with Brandy. They were always a hit, so I’m excited to be able to do a Vegan one this year. Christmas cake is the epitome of festive smells.

22. Take Long, Warm Baths - Baths are my favourite at this time of the year, although taking your clothes off to get in the bath is the worst bit when it’s super cold, the warmth of a long soak is worth it. Especially if you get some candles going on and a glass of wine. Perfect.

So, there are 22 of my favourite things to do in Autumn. I hope you like them, I’m slowly working my way through the list! Nothing says Autumn to me, quite like being cosy, lots of baking and Halloween.

Elle x

Tips For Working From Home - 1 Month Update!

If any of you follow me on Instagram you will know that I recently left my full time day job in order to start Uni this month. I’ve been very vocal about how i’m finding the transition so far over on my socials, plus it’s been approximately a month so far, so I thought it would be a perfect time to tell you about how it’s been.

I left on a Thursday and had the Friday to relax and process the emotional event that was leaving a job I had worked in for 3 and a half years. Then it was the Bank Holiday weekend so I was preoccupied with that, meaning that I officially got in the swing of it on the Tuesday. I think it was a mixture of being incredibly emotional at such a big change in my life and routine and not really knowing where to start that meant that I felt weird and unproductive for at least the first week and a bit.

Going from working a full time job in the day and working on your business in the evenings and weekends to having all day to work on your business, I found quite strange. At first it was as if my brain wasn’t as motivated to do everything because it was used to having barely any time and now it had loads. So I was used to having to cram all my work in to tiny amounts of time and now that it had all of the time, it was struggling to cope. I think from speaking to other creatives that have made this leap, there is a real transitional period that people don’t really speak about. I had the assumption that I would leave my day job and would be able to go straight into working from home because when I would have days off from my full time job, I was super productive. I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be that way when you don’t have a regimented job for someone else to do.

I understand now that it was always going to take time to adjust as you are going from working for someone else and putting your business and dreams on the side burner to now being in charge of you work, your productivity and having your business centre stage. I asked on Instagram for tips for working from home and I began to try out a few to see how they would make me feel.

1. Getting dressed - People always say to make sure that you get dressed properly in order to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable and lazy with your working. I tried it for one day in jeans and a shirt and that day was more productive but I’ve switched to comfy leggings and a shirt to compromise. I found jeans were too restrictive for me to sit comfortably at my desk all day so I’m comfy on the bottom but business on top and I find that works well for me.

2. Eat away from your desk - I am very guilty of eating most of my meals at my desk as I normally watch a Youtube video or something whilst I do it. I tried eating my breakfast, lunch and snacks at my dinner table for a whole day and I did find it was actually quite helpful. I was able to designate food time with browsing my phone, which meant that I was less inclined to use my phone at my desk when I should be working. It also allowed me a clear separation between eating and working which meant I actually gave myself lunch breaks rather than the time it took me to eat and that’s it. This meant that my productivity was actually better as I had clear breaks to re-jig my focus.

3. Listen to music or podcasts
- As I said before I usually watch Youtube videos when I work and sometimes it works but I am the sort of person that puts something to watch on in the background and I find myself watching it more than working. I’ve discovered that working for yourself means finding what works best for you and doing that as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that I can’t watch programs in the background whilst I work it just means that I should limit it when I want/need to actually get work done. I have found that listening to music and podcasts works best for me when I’m writing blog posts, drawing or packing orders. There’s nothing I can get distracted by watching and it allows me to focus, be motivated or be happy depending on what I’m listening to.

4. Set achievable to do lists and write Done lists
- I found that during my first couple of days I would end the day feeling quite disappointed with myself because I hadn’t achieved all the tasks I had written down, even though I did do lots of work. So I came up with the idea of writing Done lists at the end of the day because the work day can throw up unscheduled tasks. This means you’re still busy and have been productive but because it wasn’t on your original list, it looks as though you’ve not been working, when you have. A Done list has been working well for my own motivation and self-esteem, so I think I will definitely carry it on.

5. Allow yourself to rest and lie in if needed
- When I was working full time and I had a day off it was so easy to wake up at 7am or earlier so I would have as much time as possible to work on my business. When I left my job and could have as much time as I wanted to work on the business, waking up at 7am became a lot harder. It could have been that now the sun rises later, my body clock was adjusting but I think that I punished myself for waking up at 8/9am for the first week more than I should have. I was still processing the big emotional change, was still feeling overwhelmed with it all and I should have allowed myself the flexibility without feeling as though I was failing. One day I allowed myself to sleep until 9am because my body needed it and I felt so much better and ultimately was more productive that day because I was less harsh on myself. As I am writing this (14th September) I have been waking when my boyfriend wakes up 6:30am and I have been finding it a lot easier this time round. From this, I have learnt that whilst I am more productive in the morning and I’m easily a early bird, I need to allow my body the rest that it needs. If I wake up an hour later, it’s not the end of the world. I need to work smarter rather than for longer.

6. Get some exercise in / get active
- When I began to give myself designated lunch breaks I found that going for a walk to the shop etc was such a boost to my productivity, fitness and mental space. It’s not always possible everyday to get outside, if it’s raining I find it hard to go outside if I don’t have to but I try and do some form of exercise most days. If it’s not a little walk, I like to do Yoga when I can. It pays to be a little bit active, especially if you’re working from a desk all the time. Due to this I am looking to invest in an adjustable height desk after Christmas. Being able to adjust my desk from sitting to a standing position will mean that my back and blood circulation will be better and I can mix up how active I am for different tasks.

7. Give yourself frequent breaks
- Regardless of whether or not you have an adjustable desk, making sure you take regular breaks to get up and walk around is important. It can allow your brain to refocus and the rest from screen time is beneficial. Spending long periods at my desk is something I’m guilty of and I’m trying to improve. I find I’m easily distracted if something else is messy or needs doing. For example if the dishwasher needs emptying and reloading, I’ll use that as a break incentive. Once I’ve done some work, I’ll go and do that task so it doesn’t distract me plus it means I’m up and away from my desk.

8. Use apps or extensions that block certain sites or apps that distract
- When my phone is nearby I am frequently guilty of picking it up when I hear a ping and then end up scrolling for periods of time. No one is perfect at not scrolling through their phone but I am getting better at realising when I am aimlessly scrolling and stopping myself. There are blocking apps you can get for your phone or extensions for your browser that block access to your frequently used social media sites to help improve your productivity.

9. Allow your mood to dictate what tasks you do
- I write a to do list for each day of tasks that I would like to do and I put the most time sensitive ones at the top so that I can focus on them and then allow my mood to dictate what ones I would like to do after that. I find that doing the most laborious or tedious tasks first can help your productivity as you have the more fun tasks to look forward to afterwards.

10. Find when you’re most productive and utilise that time
- As I said before I am 100% an early bird, I love getting up early as I feel so more productive in the early hours of the day, when it’s quieter. I feel like I have so much more of the day to work with and I can get so much more done. I think it stems from working late for a few years at a music venue, my sleeping patterns were so all over the place because I wouldn’t get to bed until 4am and would then sleep through the day. I don’t ever want to have to go back to that pattern so I embrace and relish in being a morning person now. Therefore I am more productive and have more energy first thing in the morning and I can lull in the afternoon. I do my most important tasks in the morning and then take it slower in the afternoon.

I am by no means saying I have all the answers and that what works for me is the only way to do things. I am writing this post to say that it’s 100% okay to have a transitional stage when you leave a full time job to work for yourself and that it will take time to work out what works for you. No one really mentions a transitional stage, especially when you’re on social media it can seem as though people have their shit together and that you’re somehow failing because you’re working at different speeds. Everyone has bad days, good days, in between days. All that matters is that you are taking each day as it comes, always trying to move forward, finding out and trying different things that work for you. It’s important that if you do have unproductive days or feel unmotivated that you allow yourself to accept them for what they are, evaluate why you’re having a bad day and look for ways to improve that in the future. All feelings are valid feelings. No one has their shit together or perfect productive days 100% of the time.

I hope that this post may have helped some of you that are just starting to work from home, been working from home for years or are just considering it. We are all winging it and all anyone can ever do is try their best each and every day.

Elle x


August 2018 Round Up
20180913_115142_0001.png

Hello,
So, September is here which means Autumn is upon us! I thought it would be the perfect time to round up what happened in August both in my personal life and for Dots and Ink Pots.

1. Bye Bye Full Time Job!
At the end of the month, I left my full time day job in order to start university in September to study Digital Marketing. It also means that I have more time to focus on my business and do the things that I want to do. Since starting my business, I have enjoyed the creative world of business so much that I knew this lifestyle was for me. I know that I work more efficiently and I am happier when I am working on my own schedule on things that I am actually passionate about. I always thought I would be able to work for other people’s dreams when I was younger, but since opening the business, I now know that if I’m going to work my ass off, I want it to be for my own dreams rather than for a big company that doesn’t appreciate you or can drop you if it needs to the put business’ needs over yours. Basically, I want to work and make myself indispensable by cultivating digital skills, business experience and putting my creative talents to use. I am so excited to get started!

2. Christmas Card Designs
My Christmas card designs are in full swing! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you would have seen my work in progress snaps and hopefully be getting excited! To give you a clue, they are fluffy, have toe beans and woof. Any ideas?! You’ll have to head over to Insta to see if you’re right! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to drawing these magnificent creatures and I can’t stop! There’s so many I want to do, that I’m definitely going to have to add more each year. I didn’t manage to make any Christmas designs last year as I had only just opened so I am really excited to release these upon the world.

3. 1st Business Birthday
As I’m sure you would have seen Dots and Ink Pots celebrated it’s first business birthday on the 1st of August this year. I can’t believe it’s been a year already but what a first year it’s been! I have 3 product ranges out (prints, cards and notebooks), I’ve been interviewed for the lovely Confessions of a Small Bis Owner podcast, had a few commissions and nearly hit 50 sales!
I am so excited to continue this business journey and see what the next year brings! I already have so many plans for next year that I can’t wait to delve into.
HOLD ON TO YOUR METAPHORICAL HATS PEOPLE!

4. The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon
This is technically September but I’m going to include it here. This book is amazing. I highly recommend reading it if you are a creative, indie business owner, a person who is unsatisfied with their job or the working world. It busts all the archaic myths and oddities about the working world and how it is so behind with the changes in society. If you feel that you need a change with your working habits, want to take the plunge on your own business, work on your own terms and be more open with money, this book has it all. I really can’t recommend it enough. Everything Emma says is truth and left me fist pumping the air, wanting to jump off of the sofa and get crafting my own empire.

Thanks for reading this teeny August round up, I didn’t want it to be too long but I still wanted to capture what happened in August for me on the blog. Did you like this round up? Would you like me to do them for each month? I really enjoyed looking back on the month and seeing how it has been for me.

See you in the next one!
Elle x
 

DIY Workspace Makeover

Hello! 
If you follow me on Instagram @dotsandinkpots, you will know that I like to share photos of my workspace quite often. It's bright, colourful and reflects my tastes and personality. It also normally receives quite a lot of engagement, with comments stating how much people like my workspace, even stretching to workspace envy and admiration. I know Instagram can make it seem like everything is perfect and idyllic, but my workspace hasn't always been that way! 
So I thought I would go back in the photo archives and take you on a history tour through the different stages of my workspace.

I started my Instagram account back in March 2017 and this was the look of my desk. Dark wood corner desk, with bare walls and limited items on the desk top. It was simple and minimalist and it would be nice in other people's homes but I just wasn't happy with it. The corner where my desk is means that it doesn't get too much light and the dark wood wasn't doing any favours.

IMG_9969.jpg


Here in this photo, you can see how I tried to add colour to the space with a huge wall calendar for 2017 and some business cards. Although I tried, the area was just looking like a big light vacuum and all I could see was a dark, dingy workspace shoved in a dark corner.

DSC_0139.jpg

Now the excitement kicks in! I could only last a month with my desk like that before I had to do something. I searched online to find something cheap and easy that would transform the desk and the whole area. I was on the B&Q website for all of 5 minutes before I found these gorgeous marble self-adhesive vinyl rolls. PERFECT!

I ended up buying way too much but better safe than sorry! The peel and stick application process was really easy and although I could have done it on my own, my boyfriend was around so was able to help. Again a normal sized desk would have been easier, but of course my desk was a funky shape so it took some logistics to make sure we didn't waste too much vinyl. Ensuring you smooth the vinyl down and pop any air bubbles was crucial as once the vinyl was applied, it took a little while to fully set. 

IMG_0245.jpg

This photo was taken directly after we'd applied the adhesive and you can see that it really made such a difference! The light colour of the self-adhesive really helped to lift the desk from dark and drab to a bright work space. It also meant that adding pops of colour would now accentuate the space and not get lost in the dark wood. 

IMG_0337.jpg

Here was where the fun began! Once I saw what a dramatic change the self-adhesive had on the space, I ran with it! The colourful bunting was from Flying Tiger, the elephant light was from Primark, the copper lamp with marble base was from Marks and Spencer, the Pen Den was from We Are Paper Plane and my walls are covered in art from indie businesses! This was from later last year and it's updated more since then.

IMG_20170806_100754.jpg

Finally, here is the most recent picture I have taken of my workspace. I don't normally have that many flowers or pancakes on my desk but it was taken on my first day working from home on my business after leaving my job! I've included my Pingame banner from Nikki McWilliams to put all my indie pins on, prints from Indie Roller boxes, In Colourful Company walks and more prints from indie businesses. I also have my mac propped up on a vintage Scrabble box, as you do.

IMG_20180828_102139.jpg

So that's it! That's my workspace tour through the ages. I hope it shows you how one simple DIY can change the whole look and vibe of an area and how it can snowball into wonderful things.
I also hope it shows you that any workspace is a valid workspace and just because someone else's looks nice, it doesn't mean yours is any less beautiful and can't be what you want it to be.

Elle x

Why Genuine and Organic Instagram Growth Is Best For Your Business

Hello!

I've recently seen a rise in article and posts advocating that people buy followers and even poach their competitors followers. Personally, I think buying followers is an instant no no as it's quite easy to tell when people have. If your audience find out that you have, it can be a turn off as people will think that you're shallow or all about the money/numbers. As for poaching your competitors followers, there is a clear line. Using it as a way to connect to artists and small businesses can be useful but just going down someone's follower list and following everyone is not the right way. I had this recently where I noticed a follower of mine, who does similar things to me had followed a large portion of my followers. This is the thing, not only the artists and businesses as just mentioned but my own personal friends. Personally, I think this is crossing the line, although maybe I shouldn't be so precious in this day and age with the accessibility of social media. Each person's moral compass is different to your own. Stepping beyond that line is something I would never do but again it harks back to the point I am about to make about being genuine online.  So, here are 5 reasons why I think obtaining Instagram growth organically and authentically is the best option for growing your business.

1.  Engagement

Chances are if you're in it for the numbers and you poach other people's followers, randomly follow people in the hopes that they will follow back, you won't get the engagement you're after. Simple.  At first look, Instagram appears to be all about the number of followers you have, with this determining how successful and "big" you are. However, Instagram's algorithm is mainly based on engagement. It's not enough to have thousands of followers anymore, people actually have to engage with your post in order for your posts to be more visible to them. Chances are if you've poached a load of followers and you haven't bothered to genuinely connect with them and establish them as friends, they're not going to bother to engage with your post. This also applies to buying followers from certain companies. You may get promised anything from hundreds to thousands of followers "overnight" but the truth is most of those are bots that are rarely going to engage with your posts. For me, a massive benefit of curating an genuine, engaged community is cultivating feedback and insight. For example, I often use Instagram to ask for people's opinions on a certain product idea or colour way or design. This is a huge advantage that you would massively miss out on if a large portion of your followers were bought or didn't connect with you.  

2. Authenticity

One reason someone might decide to follow you besides liking your work, is because they like your personality, your brand vibe, your feed or your lifestyle. Another big reason would be because they feel that you're an authentic, genuine person that they can trust. Being authentic in your business and you're approach to marketing has more of an impact on your audience than you might think. For example, you might like a person's Instagram because they seem to genuinely care about how their business effects the environment but if you found out that they had bought thousands of followers, you would think that all they care about is popularity or money. 

People don't want you to be "salesy" all the time. So you need to create content that you like and is genuine but that also reflects what your followers are interested in. If you have the majority of bought or poached followers, they are not going to give you that feedback on what they like. They'll just like everything or randomly. You need to use this wonderful engaged community to your advantage and help them, help you.

3. Traffic

If you pay for followers or follow someone else's followers without checking if they are your target audience, that's a huge chunk of your audience that won't be likely to ever head to your website or buy your products. A recent study by Fohr Card found that 8% of the estimated 600 million Instagram accounts were fake, which equals 48 million potential bots! That's a large percentage of accounts that don't have a human being behind them. Yes you will have loads of followers but you have to ask yourself - what's the point? If they are bots, you're essentially  standing up on your soap box, speaking to no one.  All that time and effort that you put into your content and for what? For it to look like it's well liked but actually not many people have clicked through to read your blog post because most of the people that liked the post are "AI".

Back to the engagement point real quick, if you create genuine connections with your organic followers, they have the potential to pass on your work via word of mouth or on their own social media platforms. Bots and people who you haven't connected with won't do that.  One of the biggest benefits of creating an engaged community is that you can build mutual respect and admiration for people. Again, you shouldn't create those friendships with the intention to exploit them, but genuine friendships can often lead to connection and shows of support in multiple ways. Be it a purchase from your shop, a motivational support boost, a share on their page, a mention on their blog or a lovely comment on your post. These sorts of relationships can't be created with bots and people that don't have a connected interest in you. Marketing is the biggest part of running a business and most marketing is off putting as it is done in an aggressive way. Unexpected, genuine marketing can be the loveliest and have the most impact. Besides, everyone is more likely to trust a brand and purchase from them if they have good reviews, right? 

4. Focus on your own lane

Constantly searching through your competitors followers and scouting out what they are doing, leaves you with less time to concentrate on your own work. You know the saying, stay in your own lane? This very much applies to that. Work on developing your own brand, your style, your portfolio and creating a place where people will want to be.
"If you build it they will come." 
"Your vibe attracts your tribe."
These phrases are popular for a reason. Because they're true. By trying to copy someone else, you lose some of your authenticity and what the people who followed you originally liked about you. You will probably end up doing things you think other people will like and less of what you and your original followers like. If you're not enthusiastic and love what what you're creating, other people won't love it either.

5. Brand Integrity

Just as with most things, good things take time. Building trust with your followers and consumers is something that can't happen over night. No matter how many bots you buy or how many of someone else's followers you try and steal for yourself. It's not just a case of they follow my competitor so they're going to follow me. They might follow your competitor for a whole host of reasons and I'd bet that one of them is because of their authenticity and integrity. Quality content takes time, expertise and a real effort to obtain an organic social community.

So, that is why I think being genuine and growing your following organically is the best approach for your marketing strategy. It may be slower and as we live in a society that is all about instant gratification, it is easy to get lost in the numbers and focus and obsess about looking good online. In honesty, looking good online comes from being genuine. Building that genuine connection with your followers and providing them with interesting, tailored content that they love and want to engage with. At the end of the day, that is where the progress and trust lies. It's like the lesson you learn after school - "I would rather have a small group of close friends than thousands of friends who don't talk to me." You can have thousands of friends and still feel lonely. The world around us and our new and constantly changing online business world revolves around engagement.  

Community over competition.
Communication is key.

Elle x

1 Year of Dots and Ink Pots

Hello! 
So, the 1st August marks a very special date! It's my 1 year business anniversary! *dance party*
It's snuck up on me so quickly that it doesn't even feel like a whole year yet. I have a giveaway planned over on my Instagram page, so head over to that to enter to win a space bundle! There is also a 20% off coupon for my Etsy shop in order to celebrate the occasion. Finally, I thought I would write a post on my blog to sum up my first year in business. Everything I've learnt so far, my honest feelings, business milestones and hopes for the future. 

Things I've Learnt:

Do the things that you're obsessed with. Create the things you love, not just what you think will be popular.
This lesson happened fairly recently, thanks to Tiffany Han's opening keynote at Blogtacular. When I first opened I sold just prints of hand drawn pointillism pieces such as anatomy and animals. In the space of a year I have evolved so much and gone into digital pointillism illustration and created things that were out of my comfort zone but that I am passionate about. I am taking this motivation and new outlook on the things that I make for all of my future projects. I'm already using it to create a Vegan collection, something that I wouldn't have done a year ago, because I was still thinking that I had to be less experimental with what I was creating in order to appeal to people.

Take risks in what you're doing.
Following on from the last point, taking risks is something I have started doing more recently. Prints were my comfort zone, they sold relatively well but they weren't my best seller. I started to want to expand my product range within 5 months of opening up shop, the urge was just too strong! First came cards (which are now my best seller), I've just launched notebooks and I am already looking to expand even further before the end of the year. Once you start taking risks and step outside of your comfort zone, it's super addictive. 

The creative community will be so important to you. 
One thing I found out as soon as I set up my Instagram page back in March  2017 was that the creative community is the best thing on Earth. Once you start cultivating a strong community on any social media platforms, it literally changes your business life in so many ways. I go to them for advice, support, help, inspiration and motivation. Being able to talk to other creatives and small business owners was something I didn't truly understand the power of before. Genuine connection with real people is all I care about when it comes to social media. I'm not here to obsess over numbers and how many followers I have. Obviously when I hit milestones, I am thankful and I will celebrate, but genuine connection and engagement is what i'm about.

Don't overestimate your stock.
This was something I found out relatively quickly after opening my business. After initially worrying about how many of each print to order, my boyfriend made me realise that I had planned to print too many and that it would be a big expense and investment in a lot of stock. I had planned 75 of each of my starting 6 prints, which would have been 450! I can't believe that I had even considered that straight off the bat! I settled on 20 of each print in the end and i'm very glad I did. Buying in bulk is often the way to go to save a bit of money, however it can be a lot of money to invest, especially for new items or when you're starting out.  I've found it's better to buy a smaller test amount, see how that goes and if it sells well you can always buy in slightly larger, bulk numbers when the initial stock gets low.

Don't underestimate your worth, your time or your value. 
I feel like every artist, creative and small business owner will struggle with pricing and valuing the time they spent on their work. It's something I struggle with daily. I often think that I am underpricing my work, especially with commissions. After a year of working on my business, I feel that it is something that we will never truly be content with, we'll just get better at improving it step by step. That's okay too. As long as we are always taking steps to better value ourselves, we should never feel that we are ripping ourselves off. Stemming on from that, we must be paid for all work we undertake. I know full well how easy it can be to work for free. This can be through free competitions for exposure, speculative work, payment in exposure or anything but money. Whilst some opportunities might be good for your business, you need to make sure you research the company, their terms and conditions, if their audience is the same as your target market and if their reach makes it worth it for. Otherwise, you'll be making a potential loss for your business, your time and it devalues the worth of other illustrators, artists and creatives in your field that refused to work for free. 

MIlestones:

Now I've talked about all the things i've learnt thus far, I thought for the interest of documentation and for me to read back in a few years time, I would detail all the milestones I've managed to hit this year!

-I was interviewed as part of Ashleigh from Bert Shop's "Confessions of a Small Business Owner Podcast". In my episode we discussed starting your own business, overcoming imposter syndrome, just going for it and working out the minefield of manufacturers. I never dreamt that I would be interviewed for a podcast, especially within my first year and alongside super amazing business babes.

-I managed to hit over 40 Etsy sales and bag my first 2 commissions. I am planning to open up my commission books again by the end of the year, after the launch of my Vegan Collection coming in November.

-Although the numbers aren't that essential to me, I am proud of the community i'm cultivating on Instagram, I'm currently approaching 900 Instagram followers and I love the help and encouragement they give me. 

-As of writing, I've entered into 3 product areas - prints, cards and notebooks. I've got plans to enter more by the end of the year and 2019 is going to be a big year for me! Watch this space.

So, that's it! That is my round of my first year in business. Did you like this post? Let me know in the comments below if you did and if you would like me to talk more about my business advice. if there's anything in particular you would like my advice on, just let me know. I'm more than happy to share my advice, tips and tricks with you. Sharing is caring and community is better than competition.

Speak soon!
Elle x
 

What I Learnt From Blogtacular 2018
20180617_105542_0001.png

Hello!
I have finally finished writing about Blogtacular 2018. Yay! So, this marked my first ever Blogtacular experience and it was definitely interesting and informative. Instead of writing the standard blog post afterwards explaining how the event went in a diary format, I'm going to share with you my takeaways from the event. Because, my goodness, I learnt A LOT! Not all of this was learnt on the day, in the two weeks since I've been able to reflect and learn from things that happened on the day as well.

1. Tiffany Han's Keynote.
This keynote was the bomb. Full of SO many inspiring, motivating and kick-ass tips and lessons. Having not heard of Tiffany or been to Blogtacular before, I was unsure of what to expect. This keynote shot my expectations out of a cannon at great speed and exploded them into the sky in a series of fireworks. Before it was even half way done, I wanted to jump up, leave the room and work on my business. 

My top 3 takeaways from the keynote were:
1. Work on whatever you find exciting. If you're bored with what you're working on, your audience is going to be bored.
2. Do the things that won't leave you alone.
3. Be in front of the evolution.

2. Insta Stories Talk by Laura Jane Williams and Carrie Santana Da Silva
This was another fab talk that was funny and informative. I had never thought about my Instagram stories that much but this talk highlighted to me how important it is to be true to yourself and your brand. Laura asked us to think of three words that describe ourselves and create content that embodies them. My three words were: Passionate, True and Kind.
It helped me to narrow down my content, narrative and my brand and it's really helped me to look at the bigger picture.

3. Overall Feelings
I was very nervous before and during the event as I had never attended a conference of that size before and imposter syndrome definitely set in. Looking back, I feel that even though it was a perfectly normal feeling, I am pretty annoyed at myself for not being more proactive in starting conversations. At the time I made excuses for myself by saying "they look deep in conversation" or  "I don't want to leer nearby or be rude." Although it's perfectly valid to feel that way, I know deep down that I could have handled those situations, I could have broke the ice but instead I stuck to people I knew and on my own. Coming away from Blogtacular has given me the oomph and drive to go to more social and networking events and be the best and most confident version of myself that I can be.

Would I go back? Yes.
Tips for next time? Make more of an effort to network. Everyone is there to connect with people. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Blogtacular experience. There is no conference next year, but there is one in 2020. I'm so excited to attend that one! I'll be three years into my business and with the reflections from this one, it should be my most confident one yet.

Elle x

World Environment and Oceans Days - Beat Plastic Pollution
IMG_20180607_172042 (1).jpg

This week it is World Environment and World Oceans Day. Each year they pick a theme to focus on and this year they have both picked "Plastic Pollution." World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to honour, help protect and conserve our world's shared ocean. Whereas the UN's World Environment Day encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.

The ocean is important as it generates more than half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs the most carbon from it, it helps feed us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, offers a variety of medicines and contains a whole ecosystem of marine life.

However, there is an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic that end up in our oceans each year. This ranges from plastic bottles and plastic bags to microbeads. Due to the plastic travelling on ocean currents, it is ending up all over the world, even trapped in Arctic ice. The impacts this is having on marine life is devastating. Most of us will remember the harrowing scenes from Davd Attenborough's Blue Planet series of the Albatross dead with plastic inside their stomachs or the Whale carrying her dead calf around with her after it died from drinking her pollution contaminated milk.

Although the majority of plastic bottles are technically "recyclable", most of them don't actually make it to the recycling plant. However, plastic doesn't actually biodegrade, it photodegrades, which means that the plastic breaks down into smaller, more toxic fragments which then pollutes the land and ocean. This then leads to them being ingested by animals, which can then be eaten by humans, or it can kill them.

                          THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP - PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES

-Use tote/canvas bags instead of plastic ones
-Invest in a glass/steel straw and say no to plastic ones in bars
-Invest in reusable coffee cups and water bottles and take them with you to coffee shops.
-Shop in bulk food stores - bring your own containers, household cleaners, pasta, lentils etc.
-Buy fresh bread in bags
-Buy fresh fruit and veg loose and bring your own bags
-Buy bar soaps instead of bottles - lush do some great packaging free products.
-Stop using cling-film and use reuseable tupperware.

There are obviously many more ways we can help reduce our own plastic consumption and I have shared some of these links below.

Greenpeace
Mother Nature Network
Friends Of The Earth
WWF

Also I don't claim to do all of these methods, but I am slowly working towards reducing my plastic consumption as much as possible, which is all anyone can reasonably do.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post and you are leaving feeling inspired to ditch the plastic!

Elle x

Vegan Inspired Etsy Finds

Hello!
Many of you may know that I have been Vegan since March 2017 and it is something that is very important to me. I myself have been designing and working on some Vegan inspired products for you all but until they are ready I thought I would gather together some of my favourites from other Etsy sellers.

World's Okayest Vegan Jumper - Warya Tshirts - £17.10

This jumper is a perfect statement piece. I love the slogan for those days where you feel less like buddha bowls and more like Oreo's and vegan ice cream.

world's okayest vegan.jpg

Not your Mum, Not Your Milk Tee - The Goose and Rabbit - £18.19

This wonderfully illustrated design shows the exploitation of the dairy industry in a striking and artistic way. It's cute, yet informative and is simply gorgeous.

not your mum, not your milk.jpg

Vegan Tattoo Mug - All Glamour No Guts -  £10.00

I do not have enough mugs. This is one I definitely NEED. This Vegan tattoo style heart design is perfect on this mug. Simple, straight to the point and stylish, this mug is a win.

vegan mug.jpg

Avocado Boob Tee - Cactus and Spoon Prints £14.50
This screen printed t-shirt design is made using a hand-printed lino cut design. This cheeky t-shirt is sure to be a fun and casual way to show off your Vegan pride, or just your love of Avocados.
 

avo boobs.jpg

Vegan Badge Pack - Hello Treacle £5
These 38mm Vegan pin badges are designed, printed and handmade by Hello Treacle. The illustrated designs are perfect for popping onto bags, clothes and accessories. Plus the products and packaging are made from recycled materials where possible. Check the listings for further information.

vegan badge.jpg

Vote With Your Fork Print - The Creative Toucan £12
I love the Vegan prints by The Creative Toucan so much that it was hard to choose between them. My favourite design is the Keep Calm and Become Vegan print. Although this design is perfect for your kitchen walls. These prints are beautifully designed and illustrated and make the perfect vegan statement.

vote with your fork.jpg

Plants are Friends Jumper - Tme Printing £13.29
This screen printed jumper design is wonderfully illustrated and quirky. The company also operate a "Tees for Trees" initiative in that for every item they sell, they will plant a tree on your behalf. This is carried out with their partners at "Trees for the Future." So not only are you getting a great piece of clothing, you're also helping the environment in the process. Win Win!

plants are friends.jpg

Those are my first 7 picks! I really enjoyed coming up with this list and I still have SO many items saved in my Etsy favourites, so let me know in the comments if you would like to see another one in the future! I hope you go and check out these wonderful Etsy sellers and their great Vegan inspired items.

Elle x