Tips on planning for a New Year

Hey,

I hope you’re all settling in to January by now and the post-Christmas lull is almost over. January is a great time to plan and prepare for the year ahead. If you are not ready to plan yet or it’s not for you, that’s cool. You do whatever you feel is best for you, i’m not here to tell you when and what you have to do. There isn’t a right way to do something, everything is different depending on the person. But if you’re looking for some tips on how I like to plan for a new year, then you’re in the right place. Take what serves you and leave the rest.

Plan Quarterly
I’m trying to break time down into quarters and plan for every quarter. I used to try and plan everything for the whole year and whilst it’s useful to have a general overview of the most important goals for the year, your priorities will probably change throughout the year. That way if you plan each quarter, you give yourself flexibility to change your goals to reflect your change in priorities. It also means it’s not as overwhelming for you when you sit down to plan. It breaks it down into more manageable and easier to digest chunks.

Key Dates
I try to write down key events, dates first then I can plan projects around them depending on how much time I have and when deadlines would be. This is particularly handy for me when i’m trying to work out when designs need to be done by and especially with uni work now, it’s helpful to see when essays need to be due and what can be slotted in in my spare time. It also allows you to not overload yourself, which is something I can be guilty of when i’m too excited about lots of ideas. By visually seeing what time you have available to you, you can make better plans around them and not get carried away.

SMART Goals
I always try to set “SMART” goals, which means (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound). I find that adding measurable attributes to my goals really helps me visualise what needs to be done. Measurable attributes mean specific numbers or ways in which you can determine whether the goal has been met. For example, one of my goals for this year is to hit 200 sales on Etsy by the end of 2019. By specifically selecting 200 as my target number, the goal is measurable. If I was to just say I want more sales by the end of 2019, it wouldn’t be measurable and I wouldn’t know if i’d explicitly met my target or not.

Done Lists
I like to create “done” lists as well as “to-do” lists. This stems back from writing out long to-do lists of everything I could think of doing and then not achieving all of them because life gets in the way and unplanned tasks crop up. This then would mean that I hadn’t achieved all of the goals i’d set at the beginning of the day and I would then feel like I hadn’t achieved anything. So I decided to write done lists at the end of the day of everything I had actually got done, including household chores or errands and it made me realise that I had had a productive day, just not the one I planned.

This really sums up my main tip and vibe about planning and that’s that you can’t plan everything. Life happens and all you can do is try to adapt and be flexible enough to try and do what you can. There’s no foolproof way of planning and what works for one person, might not work for you. All you can do is try, try and try again until you find what works for you.

Elle x

New Years Resolutions 2019

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful celebratory time and you’re ready to kick start this fresh, new year. I’m always unsure about New Year’s resolutions as they get such a bad rep for being extravagant, often unachievable changes that try to change who you are as a person, as if you aren’t enough as you are. Although at the same time, they can be great for making small changes in your habits and routines to try and improve your practice.

So with that in mind, here are some of my small New Year’s resolutions that I’m going to try and implement this year in order to make 2019 the best it can be.

1.To be more organised and efficient with my time
In 2018, especially with the introduction of university work, I found that I struggled to make time for my business. The time was there, but I struggled to organise it efficiently which meant that my business suffered and I wasn’t able to do everything that I wanted for it. So in 2019, I want to be more organised, work more efficiently and plan my time better in order to work smarter, not harder.

2. To not spend as much time on my phone
This stems back to the previous point, I want to try and spend less time on my phone this year. Part of the reason why I struggled to organise my time and get as much done as I wanted to last year was because I spent way too much time on my phone, either claiming it was for business or aimlessly scrolling. Whilst I do have to use my phone for business, I’m going to try and give myself dedicated time to use my phone and try and use apps for  periods of focus. I’ve used the Forest app before but only halfheartedly, so I’m determined to try and have more productive, phone free work blocks next year and have less phone screen time.

3. To pre-plan and prepare as much content as possible ahead of time
This is the key one for me. As I’m now so busy with uni work, my plan is to pre-plan and have blocks of content for my blog and social media planned and written or photos taken in advance as much as possible. I’m not going to plan every single thing on socials but having photoshoot days when i’m free so that I have nice photos to post will be helpful to avoid long, dry spells. For the blog though, I have planned the majority of my blog posts for the year and will try and write and schedule big batches of them, when I have the time. This is so there is always something ready so that I feel more organised and am still focusing on my business. See, that working smarter not harder thing is coming in again!

4. To try and get out of the house to work more
I love being at home, i’m a real homebody so I do most of my work from home. This year i’d really like to take my work to some coffee shops and work in different environments. After the break in, I feel like it’d be very easy for me to become a bit reclusive in my habits and i’d like to change that this year. Plus working in different environments is supposed to help mix things up and fire up that elusive creativity bug, so i’d like to experiment and see what that does! It’d also just be nice to people watch and be surrounded by chatter and buzz.

5. To try and go on a long walk at least once a week
Again with the getting out of the house thing and doing most of my work indoors, I haven’t been getting out as much as I would have liked to last year. So, this year I’m going to try and get out of the house and go on nice long walk in nature somewhere at least once a week. This will probably end up being maybe once a fortnight, but if I can’t get out to a forest somewhere each week, then at least a nice walk around the seafront will do. I don’t appreciate the seafront as much as I should do, considering how close we live to it. That’s another sub resolution for this year. Spend more time by the sea.

6. To spend more of my money in independent and local places
Since becoming a small business owner, I’ve been trying to shop mindfully and spend the majority of my money in local and independent places as much as I can. I try and buy all my cards from indie designers and eat in independent local businesses but this year I want to try and increase that amount even more. I want to do all of my gift giving this year from indie businesses and make more of my purchases from local businesses too.

7. To continue doing yoga each day
This is a relatively new one for me and at the risk of sounding like one of those people who have their shit together and do yoga at 5am everyday, I never thought I would enjoy yoga. (If you do have your shit together and do yoga at 5am, good for you btw).  I’ve tried to start yoga a few times in the past but i’ve never really stuck to it long enough to really get into it. However, over the Christmas break i’ve had from uni, I started a 30 days to yoga video practice and i’m really getting into it. I realised I was getting into it when I stopped checking how long was left of the video and actually started to be sad when it was over so quickly!! It’s quiet time with myself and i’m finding it’s actually helping with relaxation and inner calm. Fingers crossed I can continue it in 2019.

8. To try and express more gratitude and thankfulness
I am generally an optimistic person anyway, at least I try to be as much as I can but there is always room to try and do better, so that’s what I want to do this year! Consistently try and spin even the worst of times so that I can be thankful. Of course it doesn’t just apply to bad times, I want to try and practice being thankful at the end of each day for things that have happened that day. Perhaps I should get a gratitude journal. If you know of any, please comment them down below!

9. To try and help more charities and people in any way I can
I try to be as charitable as I can. For my birthday last year, I had friends and family donate to Chester Zoo’s Elephant virus research foundation to try and find a cure for a deadly virus that kills young elephants. I try to donate small amounts whenever I can, mainly to animal charities but sometimes to others. This year I really want to try and donate either through money or time to more charities and campaigns. I think if you’re in a position to do so, even the smallest of donations can mean the world to these charities and it always feels good to give something back to the less fortunate in the world.

10.  To practice more self-care
I know this phrase gets bounded about a lot but it really is important and it’s something I don’t do enough of. I realised this over Christmas when I found it so hard to just sit and watch films or actually relax. I find passive activities really hard to do, I always feel the need to be doing something. I’m really going to try harder this year to take more time for myself, yoga will help with that, and give myself time to do the things I enjoy and aren’t for uni or work.

So, there are my ten resolutions for 2019! Although it would be nice to achieve them, i’m not going to worry too much or beat myself up if I don’t complete them all. Nobody is perfect a human being and all we can ever do is try to improve, learn from our mistakes and create better habits. These things take time though, so go easy on yourself.

Have you made any resolutions this year? What are they? Let me know in the comments below and i’ll see you soon!

Elle x


Bumper End Of Year Art Sale

Hey everybody, IT’S SALE TIME!
I thought I’d drop by to let you know exactly what is going to included in the bumper sale. It’s going to be the biggest sale I’ve ever done, with lots of items included and some items at 50% off.

I’ve made the decision to discontinue certain prints, including all of my A3 ones. Honestly, the A3 prints were never my biggest sellers anyway and I think they may be too big for people to spontaneously decide to buy. Also, all of my plans for my business in 2019 and beyond, place less of a focus on prints, especially A3 size. So, I have made the decision to discontinue a large number of my prints for now. Some of my most popular A4 prints may still come back at some point if people want them, but i’m going to focus most of my time on new things.

So without further ado here are all of my prints that are going to be in the bumper sale!

A3 Heart Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Brain Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Ribcage Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Pelvis Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Moon Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Skull Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Alice In Wonderland Print Version 1 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Alice In Wonderland Print Version 2 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A3 Moon Phase Print 50% OFF WAS £25 NOW £12.50

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A4 Turtle Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Butterfly Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Hand Print 30% OFF WAS £!4.99 NOW £10

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A4 Allosaurus Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Space Mountains Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Dragonfly Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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A4 Bee Print 30% OFF WAS £14.99 NOW £10

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So that’s the round up of sale items! I’m going to let newsletter subscribers be the first to know when the sale goes live so if you want to get first dibs, sign up on the homepage.

Happy shopping!

Elle x

Look Back on 2018

It’s almost the end of the year! I hope you are all having a wonderful festive period, maybe some of you are back at work or maybe you’re off until after New Year. Either way, I hope you’ve all had some chance to sit back and relax with loved ones and indulge in a few Bailey’s! Now is the time of year where we naturally start to feel reflective and want to look back at the year and see our highs and lows. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do today.

I always like to sit and reflect on what’s been good and not so good in the year before the new year arrives so that I feel prepared and ready to go into 2019 with a clean slate and clear mind. It provides a great opportunity to assess why things happened, what you can do more of and what you can change in order to make the new year better for yourself. Not necessarily making resolutions or any drastic life overhauls (unless that’s your thing, in which case, go for it) but more so little changes that hindsight allows you to make.

So, in no particular order, here is my look back at 2018!

I launched two batches of space cards

This seems like such a long time ago that I didn’t even think it happened this year! I launched a range of Valentine’s cards and then they were so successful that I decided to launch another selection covering various Mother’s, Father’s day, birthdays and thank yous. The cards were a real turning point for me in regards to my business. They made more sales than my prints put together at the time and it helped to confirm to me that there was potential for a future with this business and I needed to make life/career choices to maximise that potential.

I completed two pet portrait commissions

This was a pretty big one too!  I took on my first ever paid commission, which then lead to the happy customer deciding to recommission straight away. I love drawing animals/pets and I’ve drawn a couple in the past just as gifts, but actually having someone pay me to draw their pets is such a nice feeling. I love getting intricate in the details and trying to make the dots look like fur. Like most creatives and freelancers, I always struggle with pricing. I think it’s such a hard thing for us all, not wanting to overcharge or undercharge but still wanting to put value on your work and not scare customers off. Having two paid commissions this year was a great opportunity for me to work out my pricing and reaffirm that people would be willing to spend money for my art and that this isn’t just a pipe dream.

My 1st Vegan Anniversary on April 1st

This year was my 1 year Vegan anniversary and it’ll be 2 years in April, which was a big milestone for me personally. Up until this point, I hadn’t really thought about how much Veganism had impacted my life and it hadn’t even crossed my mind to take it to my business. However, writing this now, it was this anniversary that kickstarted hours and hours of planning about how to take my business in a more Vegan and environmentally sustainable direction. I have plans of new products and designs I would love to create in 2019 in order to spread the Vegan message and further establish myself as a vegan brand. Watch out for that next year!

I celebrated my first year of small business

Again, it seems hard to believe really but I’ve not been in the small business game for very long. I celebrated my 1 year business anniversary in August this year, which is crazy. It’s hard to remember a time when Dots and Ink Pots wasn’t in my life. The first year is always the hardest and most daunting but also equally exciting. Daunting because everything is new and my gosh is it a steep learning curve! But exciting because everything is new and you absorb so much information, everything is a new opportunity and experience and it’s great to just soak it all in. As a business owner, especially a relatively new one, I am looking forward to my second year of business to reflect on how the first year went and learn from my experiences.

I left my full time day job in August

This was one of the “career/life choices” I made this year. I made the decision to leave my full time job in order to pursue a career centralising around my business. This was such a defining moment of 2018, as making such a massive career change was something I only ever dreamed about. Plus leaving a job that was so secure in order to start from the “bottom” again so to speak is quite daunting. But I am so glad that I finally, after debating a creative career for so long, took the leap to quit my job.

I started uni in September

Stemming on from leaving my job the month before, in September I started my first uni degree! In order to help further my business and be able to forge a career in the marketing side of business, I decided to start studying Digital Marketing. It was a big leap to go back to education after working full time for so long but I think it was the right decision. It’s taking a bit of getting used to and next year will require a bit more pre-planning in order to keep the business and content going all year round but I’m excited to see where it takes me. I’m already learning key things that I want to implement into my business plan and strategy, so I think I made the right decision.

I completed 17 days out of 31 for Inktober

I managed to complete 17 out of 31 days of Inktober this year and even though I didn’t completely finish it, this year was the most I’ve ever done. I think deciding to do Inktober a month into starting university was probably a bad decision as I wasn’t prepare for how much work there would be, but I’m glad I gave it a go. Preparing was a key factor in how I was able to complete so many in advance so next year I’m definitely going to use my summer break to get a head start on them, so that all I have to do is post them to socials!

I launched my first range of Christmas cards

Perhaps one of the most exciting things that has happened this year was the release of my first range of Christmas cards! Not only Christmas cards but they had festive doggos on them too. I’d wanted to design some pointillism dogs for a long time but hadn’t got round to finding the perfect product, until these bad boys came along! They’ve been received so much better than I could have hoped for and that’s without that much promo. I’ll give you a heads up, the doggos will be expanding next year, onto more festive things and they want to bring their feline pals too. You heard it here first!

Overall, I think this year has been fantastic for my business and I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way this year, allowing me to grow in confidence and make more strides towards the creative career I want. University is full on though, so 2019 is going to be about planning and preparing as much as I can so that I have things and content ready to go. So this Christmas break, I’m writing as many blog posts as I can for next year. Got to be prepared!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at 2018 with me and I hope you are able to find time to reflect on your year so that 2019 will be the best yours can be.

Have a great New Years, eat, drink and be merry! See you in 2019!

Elle x


Veganuary 2019

Hey! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive break. It’s January in a few days, can you believe it?! January not only marks the start of an exciting new year but it is also Veganuary.

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Just incase you don’t know, Veganuary is a challenge where people try going Vegan for the whole month of January. 168,542 people signed up to take part in Veganuary in 2018 and as of this post one person is signing up every 8 seconds for 2019. With Veganism hitting the mainstream this year and 2019 being proclaimed as the year of the Vegan, there has never been a better time to consider researching it and giving it a go!

Why take part?

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Going Vegan has a wide number of benefits. It is the most effective way to help our planet, with animal agriculture being the leading cause of climate change, not funding the dairy, egg or meat industry is the biggest way you can help save the planet. This is because eating a plant-based diet can cut our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution and water usage, prevent deforestation and save wild animals from extinction .

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Going Vegan can greatly improve your health. Cholesterol is the leading contributor of heart disease. With cholesterol only being found in animal products, going vegan means you considerably lower your risk of heart disease alongside other health benefits. Plus Vegan food is increasingly tasty with new alternatives being brought out all the time. The only way to fund new innovations in Vegan food is to create demand.

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Going Vegan helps reduce animal suffering. Animals are sentient beings who have the capacity to feel happiness and pain and eating meat, dairy and eggs causes them to suffer and be killed just to be eaten. No life should be valued less than your taste buds. For a cow to produce milk, they must be pregnant. Unfortunately, the most efficient way to do this is to artificially inseminate them. Then when their baby is born, for humans to drink the milk, farmers take the calf away from the mother. If the calf is female, it is raised to produce milk again and if it is male, the calf is either killed as it’s too expensive to raise or kept in small cages to produce veal. If this was something that happened to humans, society would not stand for it. So why should it be any different because it happens to an animal?

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Eating meat, dairy and eggs is a completely unnecessary action, when we can survive and thrive on a plant-based diet. Why do we decide to love cats and dogs yet pay for innocent animals to be killed because that’s “the way it’s always been”? You can’t love one, yet pay for the other to be mistreated and killed. We in the West have such anger when we see people in Asian countries kill dogs for meat, yet continue to eat cows and pigs without making the connection. Every animal deserves the right to live and there’s no way to humanely kill an animal that does not want to die.

Veganuary provides you with such an abundance of help, support, recipes, tips and resources when you sign up to take part that you will be guided every step of the way to make trying veganism as easy as possible. With so many vegan food items and products readily available now and so many being brought out all the time and by major brands and retailers, going vegan has never been so easy.

Here are a list of resources/further information that I recommend if you’re interested in Veganism:

Obviously www.veganuary.com for more information, resources and to sign up.

Eating Animals Book by Jonathan Safran Foer

How Not To Die Book by Dr Michael Greger

Earthlings Documentary - Graphic, more of an animal perspective

Cowspiracy Documentary - More of an environmental perspective

Forks Over Knives - More of a scientific and research based perspective.

What The Health Documentary - More about the nutrition benefits

So, if you’ve made it this far that you’ll consider researching veganism a bit more and even give the 31 day challenge a go. After all, it’s only for a month and if you try it and don’t like it, that’s fine, maybe it’s not for you right now. If you try it and enjoy it or feel better for it, then hey, that’s a wonderful thing! You can decide to carry it on!

It’s a win win.

Elle x


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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