Monday, 19 August 2013

Pinch River Lampshades

Quite some time ago I started dabbling with the idea of adding lampshades to my product range... I actually thought I was going to make these myself... and took a one-on-one class with a lady in Newcastle (when I was still living up the coast) who had been in the industry for well over 40 years. I then had some frames custom made and had a go at making some myself.

Having finally focused my attention back to the lampshade quest earlier this year I decided it was silly to think I could make these and set about having some professionally made. Ta da... and here they are! (Truth be told, they have actually been sitting in my studio for a while as I have been wanting to also offer them as lamps, with bases... but the base quest is still in progress and then the business name change came along and I just kept putting off sharing them but finally got impatient and decided I didn't want to wait anymore :)

I love, love, love my lampshades and am sure you will too...

Wattle Bird in the Bottle Brush (C2) - large oval drum lampshade
Wattle Bird in the Bottle Brush (C2) - medium tapered oval lampshade
Wattle Bird in the Bottle Brush (C1) - large oval drum lampshade
Wattle Bird in the Bottle Brush (C2) - small drum lampshade
Flower of Life (C1) - small drum lampshade (pair)
Honeycomb (C1) - large oval drum lampshade
Honeycomb (C1) - medium tapered drum lampshade
Corduroy Pathway (C1) - medium rectangle lampshade
Kangaroo Paw (C2) - medium rectangle lampshade
Kangaroo Paw (C1) - medium rectangle lampshade

The initial selection of lampshades, for table lamps, will be for sale via my website shop once it is all up and running but in the meantime I have sold a few so not all will be available but I will be having more made up soon. If you are interested in any of these and don't want to wait for the website to be up and running then feel free to contact me for pricing.

I wanted to offer contemporary shapes, that may also be slightly different to the standard, to mix things up a bit (another reason I want to also offer bases to suit). I will also be offering drum shapes and ceiling shades, however, if you have a specific shape in mind I can have them custom made so please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss the details.

It's been a long time coming (I can't believe how long... that's what happens when life gets in the way)... but I'm so happy to have found the talented and lovely people who make them for me and so happy with the finished product! More images over here.

Fabric update

I had my last batch of fabrics printed up under the stilelemente label a couple of months back. I did share them on the blog after I listed them in my Blue Caravan store for sale but I have now put the store in holiday mode as I move everything over to Pinch River (and may not set up shop there again but will instead be using my own e-commerce solution on my website). I usually link to my Flickr Photostream when I share new fabrics and products here but I forgot to do that last time... so you can see more of the fabric shots here.

I won't be selling any current fabric as yardage because it all has stilelemente on the selvedge (but if you really want some then contact me). I'm going to re-work some of the designs (e.g. the Wattle Bird in the Bottle Brush) but not sure if I'll be printing all of them again as there will be some new designs once I have everything else up and running... but printing will be probably not happen until later in the year or even early next year as I still have the other two big projects in the pipeline that I should be starting soon and will absorb me for quite some time... BUT I will be making plenty of products from the current fabrics very soon for the Christmas trade which is rapidly approaching... so you'll have to grab some before they run out for good :) I'll let you know when they are ready.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Another busy day here getting Pinch River up and running...

Today's project was transferring all my issuu catalogues over from stilelemente to Pinch River. In the months since first publishing the catalogues (under the stilelemente banner) I received 144 reads, 1629 impressions and 6 downloads. I'm pretty happy with those stats but just sad you are not allowed to change the url which meant having to leave all that behind and start afresh...

There will be more catalogues in the near future but first I have to make a batch of products with the new fabrics... though still lots to do before I get to have fun making.

The website will be going offline soon, I've asked the developers to do this at their earliest convenience... so I will let you all know when it is back online after the move over to its new domain.

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Plans and preparations - project 1

The other day I posted about 3 self-initiated projects that I'm working on and I'm here to share project 1... to share some very exciting news!

I'm changing my business name and branding!

It's something that has been on my mind for quite some time and after a recent conversation with a business professional it kind of cemented the need to do this... and there is no time like the present.

In all honesty I have a huge knot in my stomach right now because it is all in a bit of a mess while I transition and I guess I'm not the sort of person who likes loose ends... but I know it will take some time to work through each necessary avenue and transition it all from stilelemente to Pinch River.

The primary reason for the change is I wanted a name that better reflects the essence of Australia that I am capturing in my designs. It simply didn't make sense to me to have a German name for an Australian label... even though I loved what stilelemente stood for - elements of style, it just didn't truly express what I wanted. In my experience with stilelemente I also found that people found it quite hard to pronounce correctly and more so it was a mouthful to spell out over the phone!

Why Pinch River?

The Pinch River is a perennial river of the Snowy River catchment and is located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia. Having lived in the Snowy Mountains for a few years when I first left home, I enjoyed spending time exploring the local area, including the Pinch River. The area is one of absolute natural and unspoilt beauty, the essence of Australia that inspires the designs... it is one place that I have experienced first-hand that really enchanted me... much like my beloved Audley along with a handful of others places.

Australia is so many things, it is our red centre, it is our pristine beaches, our coral reefs, our bushland, our hinterland, our snowy mountains... The Pinch River is just one small part of the beauty that is Australia but remaining virtually untouched it truly represents the landscape, flora and fauna that is the main design inspiration for my label.

As many things about the business will stay the same I have been changing names and url's where possible rather than starting from scratch. I have built up a small but lovely following which I hope to grow and I didn't want to lose that. The one thing that impressed me about Facebook is that they allow a one-off page and url change if you have less than 200 likers... so I have already transitioned the Facebook page without losing any of the lovely likers! I have also transitioned Pinterest so I don't lose any of my lovely pins and will update product info once the website has transitioned. Unfortunately you cannot change url's for flickr but I have changed my screen name and will set about the laborious task of updating the info for the relevant images once I've sorted the bigger stuff out... it is just too much of a job to start over on flickr and I love everything I have created there so it is what it is. 

Needless to say there is SO much involved behind-the-scenes, the bank account (which can also be changed by the way, rather than starting over), MYOB (which can also be changed), the insurance (I'm waiting to hear back), business stationery, product labels... the list goes on and it will all take some time to fine tune and get right so please be patient and when I am back online I will be super organised! This will be the last post from the stilelemente blog... you can find the Pinch River blog here, it is just an empty shell at the moment but it is one of the projects I'll be working on first to get it all set up and avoid too much down-time.

The website is probably the one thing that will be down the longest... I have to migrate it over to its new domain as well as make some other minor changes and finally get the online shop along with the wholesale and trade log-in area up and running. I will be closing all other online shops, i.e. Madeit and Bluecaravan (and I may not go down this path again when I'm up and running but will see what happens when the time comes).

I'm going to leave you with some images from the beautiful Pinch River... taken many, many years ago on a picnic with friends. Unfortunately they are the only photos I have and nice as they are I would have liked to have more of just the landscape and river, sans people but back then my photography was more about people than nature... and they are pre-digital, so are scanned from photos, hence the image quality but nonetheless they give an idea of how beautiful it is:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Spoken from experience - women in business (part 2)

Continuing on from yesterday's post I wanted to share some more insights from the book 'heels in motion'... from the chapter 'the heart versus the head' which I believe is particularly relevant to women. I may have liked this chapter the most and Kim Ellis' response really resonates with me.

Sibylla Hess-Buschmann (refer yesterday's post for more details about her).

"Women are classic heart decision makers in the beginning of their career, irrespective of outcomes. Women are smart and learn very quickly when to make a heart decision that does not compromise their business or themselves. I believe intuitive heart decisions are an asset to running a business as long as the decision is not based on a need to please, serve or be the good girl." (p34)

Leigh Bryant is the owner of Scorpion International Freight Services - an international freight forwarder and customs broker, which assists importers and exporters to win international market share, manage their exports more profitably and adopt a global business philosophy. (p67)

"At times, yes. I'm human and a woman. What else would you expect?"

Helen Davis - after nineteen years in hospitality and events, in 2003 Helen Davis launched Oh de Toilette, a unique business that provides decoration, accessories and attendants to powder rooms and washrooms for events and venues. (p73)

"I am getting better at seeing the potential for my emotions to take over and in delaying my reaction until I have had time to talk my thoughts over with someone else, or at least processing what is going on for a little while longer. I do think you need to listen to your gut instinct though, which can be a heart related feeling."

"Wrestling with a decision means emotion is going to play a part, so I find it helps to ask myself some basic questions like 'Will this bring more sales in?' 'Will this be profitable?' 'Will this cost me more?' And even more basic 'Why do I want / not want to do this?' It doesn't always work but predominantly it does. (p34)

Kim Ellis (refer yesterday's post for more details about her). This is my favourite because it is exactly what I believe!

"I've always steered away from mass-produced imported items because I've believed that we have a great skill base in Australia that is under-utilised. It's under-utilised because most overseas products are so cheap to import and you can resell it and make a big profit. Of course most companies are going to go down that path."

"Business people need to show leadership in the area of social integrity and building the financial future of Australia. Business people need to start caring about the environment, their community and the situation across the world. Business people need to find their heart and care for the businesses and communities around them." (p35)

Kirrily Dear is the founder and development director of Eyes Wide Open, a management consultancy that specialises in small business. (p73)

"I now trust my intuition implicitly, particularly when selecting the type of staff, projects and clients we work with. There have been times in the past when I have ignored my intuition and taken on projects purely because of the financial pressures of the time. I've always ended up regreting it and I don't ignore my instinct anymore."

"My personal values also strongly drive my decision-making and the direction of the business. There have been opportunities for me to make money quickly, but going down that path would mean turning the business into an organisation I don't want to be part of."

"Some of our competitors use fear tactics to convince business owners that they're going to fail without them, and people are creating mega empires using that sort of stuff. From a strategic perspective though, I know these get-rich-quick tactics are not necessarily sustainable and I don't want to be part of a business like that. It is pointless building a business that is out of step with your own ethics, you may as well go work for someone else." (p35)

I hope you find these insights as interesting as I have. Sometimes it's nice to know you are not alone in the way you think, for me, reading this book as been really enjoyable because I know now that others have similar ideas and beliefs to me.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Spoken from experience - women in business (part 1)

I came across a little book yesterday titled 'heels in motion' by Julie Scott* & Vicki Brown and although it was published in 2008 it still has some relevant information and advice for women in business.  
*Julie Scott was then the Executive Director, Small Business Development for the NSW Government

At the time it was published the statistics were as follows: Women currently account for a third of all small business operators in New South Wales, with many more working as partners in family businesses. 'Around 529,000 women operate a small business nationally, which represents 32 percent of all Australia small business.'
The book is essentially made up of a series of responses by women from their own personal experiences in business - the table of contents gives you an idea of what the topics are about:
- Sisters doing it for themselves
- Technology - friend or foe?
- The secrets of success
- Relationships
- Support from Family and Friends
- Role models and influences
- The heart versus the head
- The new girls' network
- Exporting - beyond your backyard
- A vision for the future
- A meaningful legacy
- Competition is not a dirty word
- Childhood dreams
- What inspires you?
- A good day in the office
- Lessons learnt
- Mentor and mentoree profiles

In this post I want to share some of the responses from the 'secrets of success' chapter that I found interesting:

Sibylla Hess-Buschmann (sadly passed away on May 28th this year) was the Managing Director of Australian Rainforest Products a company that specialises in growing, processing and marketing native Australian foods, herbs, spices, fruits and essential oils (heels in motion p69)

"Today's successful small business owner is reaping the rewards of past investments in time, effort and learning." (p18)

Skye Davis is the owner of the photographic business Sky Rocket Studio (the website seems out of action but here is the Facebook page).

"You need to plan, you need to dream, you need to plan some more, then research and dream some more. Then it all has to be written down."

"In the beginning most search their souls to see if they have the guts and determination to make it on their own. Success requires working ridiculous hours for not enough money, and having your whole life consumed by the business." (p19)

Kim Ellis owner of 'edible marketing, gift and promotional solutions' business Damn Delicious (p76)

"Never give up, never give up, never give up - a quote by Winston Churchill in an address to a hall of university graduates. That's it."

"You are going to have some days where you wonder why you bothered to get up! Count each mistake as a business lesson, some cost more than others, but remember you are not your business and mistakes are all about learning."

"And at the end of the day, you've got to be happy enough with your wins to take the bad days in your stride." (p19)

What I loved about reading through this book was getting to know about some amazing Australian businesses and the women behind them.

I'll be back to share more tomorrow from the chapter 'the heart versus the head'.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Plans and preparations...

Acacia Podalyriifolia / Winter Wattle
So... it's been a bit quiet on the blogging front... but, just like this gorgeous winter wattle, ideas have been blooming behind the scenes.

I always miss my blog when I haven't been here for a while and I know I will never abandon it, as some have done, for other social media, like Facebook, Pinterest or others but it does get a bit hard to keep up with it all don't you think... though I like to be across the handful I choose (out of the multitude available) because I like them each for what they offer, however, it can kind of get to be social media overload... so I just seem to take these breaks from it all every now and then, from the computer in general actually... and not only that, but when I'm in the midst of projects I get totally absorbed in what I'm doing and don't want to break from that and so I disappear off the social media landscape for chunks of time at time...

Behind the scenes I'm always working on projects that are business related in one way or another, all of them will take time to evolve and each will evolve at different stages. More often than not the ideas are not new, they have been patiently waiting, sitting in the back of my mind as I gave them more thought and research and while I worked on other things.

In saying that I will be the first to admit I have been lost with it on more than one occasion... for the most part I have the answers, I have direction and although these periods of clarity are usually more prominent and prolonged than those of self doubt I do believe they flow from that place... the place of not knowing, of questioning and this might not necessarily be all about self doubt, it can also be just part of the process of starting a business from scratch and wanting it to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Finding your way, finding what you want, in terms of supplies and materials can be an arduous task but I usually find once I have found it it's in place, it's another building block of the foundation and slowly and steadily they are all being put in place.

The other day I posted a quote on my Facebook page by American poet Theodore Roethke "I am learning by going where I have to go"... it really just sums it up.

The further along the business gets the more clarity I have and though I may well suffer with occasional, random self doubt in the future I feel I'm definitely heading in the direction I want... having researched, contemplated, decided and acted on many avenues for this business to exist, operate and grow I feel I have established good foundations on which to move forward and I'm really excited about the future! I think periods of being lost are not necessarily a bad thing because from that place of quiet and questioning come the answers and direction.

How about you - are you working on exciting things too?