Is Your Business In a Slump? Or Are You? This Method Can Help...

Do you currently feel like your business, your ideas, YOUR LIFE, IN GENERAL, is in a slump? I totally can relate as a business owner/entrepreneur who has been working independently for 13 years - I get into these slump periods too. I have decided that they are healthy and good - we can hibernate and go inward for a short time, only to emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. That's okay.

However, slumps can last sometimes for longer than is productive. A bear cannot hibernate until summer. There is a period of rest, then there is a period for action. If you have felt like your slump period has lasted beyond what you feel is healthy or productive, then I have the perfect solution for you. But first...

Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

A little background... I started this blog in January 2006, nearly 13 years ago. I had NO CLUE what blogging was, so little of them existed and we didn't have this term, "Social Media", and we didn't have iPhones and apps and Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Back then, you started a blog as a passion project, you couldn't yet earn money from it. I started my blog because I was working in design and wanted to segway into writing for design magazines and constantly got rejected by editors since I lacked sufficient experience. I started my blog to write about my passions and to hopefully, get in front of some editors and show them that I could write and that I had opinions.

Needless to say, it worked. :) I've done a lot of things I'm proud of, and some things I regret (decisions, mostly monetary ones because I always thought money wasn't important until I made decisions that showed me the truth!)... And I have had periods when I felt really sick of blogging and tired in general of showing up consistently, daily, on my blog or somewhere on social media, to "perform". 

Despite the down days, or the moments of mumbling swear words beneath my breath, I've maintained a consistent positive vibe. I've maintained a lot of good energy for my profession and the field I'm in overall. I still am really amazed by what people have accomplished - my peers and even new ones who are starting in this field daily. I am so curious by nature, so I just love the design that I'm consistently seeing and meeting - all of the new designers, the ones who are known as the trendsetters, the leaders... It's all interesting to me to watch and to actively participate in. 

Yet there are still phases where I want to pull the plug and open a design shop/cafe on the beach in the south of France and just BE DONE WITH IT. You know? Like just wear flipflops all day and white linen dresses with spaghetti straps, listen to great tunes, and sell pretty things and make coffees. Meet travelers and watch my son surf. I have these visions and think that maybe it's common for people so deeply involved in online media like me - to imagine these scenarios of unplugging and living life as it was when I was a little girl in the 80s - wild, free and not an iPhone in sight.

THEN REALITY CALLS. And the reality is - I LOVE FAIRS, PUBLISHING MY THOUGHTS, SHARING, BLOGS, MEET UPS, TRAVEL, SOCIAL MEDIA, COMMUNICATING, CONNECTING, MY BUSINESS and my LIFE in the city here in northern Germany. And I am super motivated to keep going in this forward motion and pursue my dreams in this industry because, well, why not?

However, slumps and down times and feelings of OMG I WANT OUT lurk in the hearts of all creatives and all who are making a living doing what they love because it's only human. You can also bet that even me as the shop/cafe on the beach owner would have days when I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't want to open up and make 100 coffees, or I'd feel sick or bored with being a shop owner. No matter what we are doing in life, there are always greener pastures. There is always MORE.

Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

That is why I decided to teach my RISE Method to others because it's how I've stayed sane and inspired and how I've kept going, stayed profitable and accomplished all that I have in the past 13 years. I'd never really realized that I had a method to my madness, but I do and I sat down over the summer and really thought it through and imagined how I could help others and RISE was born, which stands for R= Reassess, I= Invigorate, S= Strategize, and E= Execute your plans and goals.

Now, for the GOOD PART. You can join me and a small group of students online where, for 3 weeks, from September 14 - October 8, 2018, you can get into a new groove - a new, positive, "I CAN DO THIS" state of mind. Our fun, self-paced online class will teach you the RISE Method.

R: With Reassess, we will teach you how to tap in to your energy, take care of yourself first, identify your strong points, and find the weak places in your business to stabilize and strengthen them. We will also cover how self-care is not selfish and why. This will be a super positive series that will jump start you right away.

I: With Invigorate, we will show you concrete ways in which you can organize your workflow, computer and office along with ways to get more positivity in your life, how to deal with downtimes and creative ruts, the importance of developing a strong support network (and how), and ways to develop courage and strength to rise up and power through. Self-confidence is key, so we'll help you with that before moving on to the next step...

S: For Strategize, it's time to set a plan. How will you do the things you want to do? We'll show you how to put together a solid plan of action, how other business owners do it with interviews and case studies, how we do it and lots of tips and ideas for planning using Milanote, basic organization, and follow through.

E: And finally, Execute. No more worries, no more excuses. This is where you will learn how to execute your plans fearlessly and with courage, how to market effectively on social media platforms, understanding SEO and how to use it to boost your business and get more eyes on your website/blog, various apps we love and our favorite things from the best newsletter apps to invoicing software, Instagram Stories apps we love, and more!

Bottom line: I want to help you to get the courage and energy to climb out of your current rut (or if you're just beginning a new business endeavor, this class will help you, too!) and work on your business and goals with tons of support from us, encouragement, tools and help along the way. The magic is inside of you already - we are going to show you how to tap into it, pull it out and use it.

You can register easily below. Hope to see you in class, it will be nice to work with you personally and you can also make new friends and network in our private student-only forum - which I encourage.

 

See you!

Love,

Holly

 

Q+A With Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

I first found American ceramicist Vivian Shao Chen on Instagram and immediately knew that I needed to reach out to her to learn more. I asked her for a little interview and some photos from her studio in Brooklyn and she happily agreed and so we set up a chat. Please follow along below for a little Friday inspiration that will hopefully take you into the weekend feeling good.

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics on Instagram

What made you get into ceramics?

I come from an architecture / design background, which is often more cerebral than it is about making. Though materiality is very important to architects, we are always one step removed from it since we aren’t the ones who actually build our designs. Making objects with clay is a totally different design process than I was used to. My favorite pieces are those that happen while I'm throwing on the wheel, intuitively. What I like is finding the subtle nuances in shape and detail that are results of physical gestures. Those are what make a piece interesting and beautiful. These are things I could never design on my own with pencil and paper, because it results from the process itself. I guess that is what got me into ceramics. I think people are drawn to ceramics and pottery because it has a quality that makes them slow down, to feel the weight and texture, see the depth in the glaze. I love the freedom of thought that clay allows me, and I work to make that clarity translated into the final products you see and hold.

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics
Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics
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How did you learn your craft?

Through practice and failure. You can take classes and learn from others for sure, but in the end, I learn the best from actually making. Ceramics is a very humble and humbling craft. Mistakes and accidents are always happening, even when I think I did everything 'right'. I try to think of failing as a learning experience (after a good cry if it was a particularly epic fail of course).

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Who inspires you in the world of ceramics?

So many people!! I’m inspired particularly by those that dig up up wild clay or find ways to use found, natural elements in their work. Sarah Jerath, Mitch Iburg, Mark Rose and Maya Santoso of Magnolia Mountain, Melissa Weiss, just to name a small few. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What do you love about your space?

I love the windows in the space and the light they let in. Most of all, I love that it is a space that is just my own. I feel much more in control of my work environment now, and it makes me more efficient. 

Is your space at home or in a separate location?

It is in my home. It’s quite useful to be able to check on a pot just before going to bed to make sure they are keeping their moisture level. They really are my pot babies. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics
Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics
Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What are some challenges with working as a small business?

One challenge is time- there never seems to be enough. There are so many ideas I want to try, and so many skills I want to develop. Another challenge is outreach and exposure. I’m working on being more confident and trusting myself and my work. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’m always inspired when I meet self-assured small business owners. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

Where do you sell your work?

Mostly through Instagram currently. I used to sell through my previous shared studio, which was great because I met many of the people that bought my work. I miss those interactions and am considering some holiday markets. I’m also working on getting an online shop up and running. I’ll be announcing the opening through an email newsletter, for which you can sign up on my website. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What are some goals you have for your small business?

On the making side, short-term goals include fine-tuning my plate and bowl designs and production techniques, refining my glaze palette, while still giving myself time to experiment and play with materials. On the business side, I would like to get the webshop going and be able to convey a really clear sense of what my work is about. 

Long-term goals would be to learn more about natural and wild clays and to rely a little less on what is commercially available. It can feel overwhelming when I think of what I want to accomplish, but I can’t help but feel grateful when I think to myself, “Remember when you wanted what you currently have.”

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What would you like to buy for your studio that you can’t yet afford and why do you need it?

I don’t have a kiln, and it would make the biggest difference in my studio. Having my own kiln would allow me to mix all my own glazes (I mix some and buy others currently) and my lead time for production would become much shorter. I’d also love to have a large slab roller to make handbuilding a faster process. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics
Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What are your favorite mediums other than ceramics?

I love to cook, bake and sew. I think the functional aspect of all those mediums motivates me. 

Vivian Shao Chen Ceramics

What do you listen to when you are working, who is on your playlist?

I usually listen to nothing when I’m working. I love having silence, only interrupted by the wind or rain. 

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Thank you Vivian for being a guest here today with us on decor8. I loved learning about your process and also, your passion for making and enjoyed seeing glimpses of your restful studio space as well as learning about some of the challenges you have as a small business owner. Thank you for openly sharing a part of your world with all of us.

Love,

Holly

8 Must-See Interior & Lifestyle Finds For August

Ready for some must-see interior lifestyle finds? Hi guys, it’s me Allan, with my faves. The month of August ends today, so I thought I'd bring you what I've collected throughout the month with hopes that you like what I have to share below. I hope you all have had a wonderful summer! I'm very busy lately with press events, busy days and lots of work.

 1 // FURNITURE:

First it was all about the daybed, then the time came for a simple, open shelving system, and now the need has come for a shelving and cupboard system with doors. A couple of my favorite furniture pieces at the moment are listed below. They all look amazing, and would suit any interior, but most importantly they all store some of the stuff you don’t want to display, but still have within reach.

Geist

A/ The newly launched Lines by Afteroom for Reform

Skagerak

B/ The all-new Sceene from Gejst

Reform Copenhagen

C/ And the not even out yet (in stores in September), Jut Cabinet from Skagerak.

2 // ART:

I have shown sculptures here before, and I’m obsessed with these face sculptures created by Simon Vendin. Each face with a different expression, personality, and the charm is that they were made by hand. For me it’s the personal details that makes an interior interesting, and Simon’s sculptures are a perfect quirky detail to add.

Simon Vendin
Simon Vendin

3 // DECORATE:

Okay, these might be a bit similar to the faces I just had above, but I see these new smaller figurines from Kahler to be more decorative than actual art, might just be because of the price point. In any case, they are all new, designed by sculptor Malene Bjelke, and in stores very soon. The collection is called Character. Each figurine tells its own story, depicting plain, uncomplicated everyday thoughtfulness in a simplified, naturalistic universe and celebrates specific human traits. The reason why I wanted to include these this month, is because, I really like the clay figurine trend that’s happening right now, and with these new figurines, you can try it out with blowing the bank.

Malene Bjelke for Kahler
Malene Bjelke for Kahler

4 // SLEEP:

With Highway 1 open all the way from LA to San Francisco again, I want to share a must stop halfway spot. In Big Sur in the middle of the woods you’ll find Post Ranch Inn, right on the coast this might be the most unforgettable, romantic place you’ll ever encounter. You can choose a house with stunning views right on the cliffside or go a bit more rustic, but just as great with a tree house. The grounds are amazing, with a tucked away chef’s garden, heated infinity pools perfect for sunsets and star gazing, and walks through the forest. All in all very chill and as I said, the perfect pitstop on your bucket list highway drive.

Post Ranch Inn
Post Ranch Inn

5 // PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

I actually just only recently come across these oval mesh shelves from the newly launched Stockholm-based design studio Aska. I really like them when hung vertical with the small added shelf inside.

Aska
Aska

6 // GROOM:

I am actually not sure if this product would be a grooming product per say, but it’s my column, so I’ll choose what goes. I want to talk about something that I think many men are dealing with, hair loss. Ever since my mid-20s my hairline has just crawled up little by little, which I have pretty much have come to terms with.

On my recent trip to LA, I came across a new subscription service called Hims, who address the fact that men’s heads get less hairy. And based on the amount of Internet chatter we've seen, it seems to be working.

The best thing about Hims, I think, is that you have access to these drugs at a no-BS price. They’re roughly 50-80 percent cheaper than the retail cost of the brand-name versions, making ED pills and balding treatments much more affordable to the average guy. It super simple to use, basically I wash my hair with their DHT blocking shampoo every day, which should help on the overall hair health, add a few drops of the Minoxidil on my forehead to promote hair growth (it relaxes blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow to your scalp, shedding old hairs and replace them with new ones) and finally I chew on a B7 vitamin gummy bear every day, which is full of Biotin, a natural supplement that strengthens the hair, nails and even promotes healthier skin. Yay.

I have been using the product for about a month now, it’s a very simple morning routine, and I feel like I can see and feel a result, my hair seems stronger, I have not yet grown a full mane yet, but they do say you need to keep using the products for at least 3 months before you’ll see a change. So, I’ll expect to see my 20s hairline back by Christmas.

Hims Hair Loss for Men

7 // INTERIOR CRUSH

Speaking of creating a home with personality, now that’s something the founder of Artilleriet (one of Holly's favorite stores) masters to perfection. The mastermind behind the store is Christian Duivenvoorden and he lives with his husband just outside Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast. It’s no surprise that before opening the store Christian worked as a set designer, he clearly has an eye for details and really knows how to build perfect small moods in every corner of the house.

8 // FOLLOW NOW:

Lene Ostenfeldt, Copenhagen, Denmark. Lene is a Stylist and Creative Director with a gorgeous Instagram you should definitely follow now!

Lene Ostenfeldt

This will be my last column on decor8, but it was nice to be here and I hope that you will all continue to follow me on my own blog, Bungalow5. Holly decided she wants to get back to her roots on her blog and author it mostly alone, but it was nice to be here and I had fun meeting you all!

[Editor's Note: All grooming products are gifted as part of reviewing for this column in partnership between Allan Torp and the brands. This review is provided by Allan Torp for decor8, any collaborations are his own. All words and opinions are his own.]

 

My Favorite New Designs From Muuto

Hi everyone! I was just in Copenhagen and was able to meet up with Muuto while I was there and really enjoyed pursuing their showroom in the city center. A big bonus was that I was able to see all of the new designs for Fall/Winter 2018/19 before anyone else. Here are a few of my favorites from the collection, which haven't been blogged yet until now. FIRST, my favorite RUG of the moment, my favorite leather sofa, and these gorgeous chairs - all new from Muuto.

Check these out:

New furniture and rug from Muuto

New furniture and rug from Muuto

Below are some more new offerings from this brand, which still has its roots in Denmark but is now owned by American firm KNOLL and so, if you live in North America, you can easily get anything you see here from the states now. Isn't that great!?

New accessories from MUUTO

New accessories from MUUTO

New lamp from Muuto which can shine up, down, or both simaltaneously - and it can swivel, too!

New lamp from Muuto which can shine up, down, or both simaltaneously - and it can swivel, too!

New stone leather swivel chair

New stone leather swivel chair

Also in green metallic.

Also in green metallic.

This is my sweetheart, this stone leather sofa - never have I lusted after a sofa before like this one...

This is my sweetheart, this stone leather sofa - never have I lusted after a sofa before like this one...

Sofa with a high back, which is great for offices and loft spaces, don't you think? Or small studio apartments?

Sofa with a high back, which is great for offices and loft spaces, don't you think? Or small studio apartments?

More of the gorgeous Pebble rugs that I love. The dark orange is my favorite.

More of the gorgeous Pebble rugs that I love. The dark orange is my favorite.

Rug detail....

Rug detail....

Do you see anything that you love? The rug and the stone leather Outline sofa are my favorites for sure. I can't stop looking at that sofa. It's really amazing, the lines and color, and it's also so comfortable to sit on. But I have a young boy in the house, who is a wild animal at times, and I can only imagine owning the sofa and then he spills apple juice all over it. Most likely, my dream sofa will be in my living room once he's off to college someday. Until then, the Muuto Outline in a fabric option may suit my lifestyle best.

But what do you do when your heart says STONE LEATHER and your reality/lifestyle says DARKEST FABRIC POSSIBLE?

(Photography: With permission from Muuto)

Formland: The Most Inspiring Nordic Design Fair

Meet me soon at Formland! Yes, I'll be back again this year after attending for my first time last year as their keynote speaker. I also gave some lectures and covered the fair on my social media, which was really exciting and we all had a great time together. I really love Formland, it's very unique in that it's large enough to be inspiring so you can take away a lot of great new ideas and meet great people, but it's small enough to not feel exhausting and overwhelming. I find that really large fairs that take days and days to see are of course, lovely, especially Salone in Milan, but I need the smaller fairsin between too in order to REALLY let everything that I see - to let it all sink in and to thoroughly experience things in a much deeper way. I like the feeling of not having to "rush" through a fair and I love how a smaller fair gives you a chance to make connections with real people offline. Formland is well attended, but it's not loaded with wall-to-wall people so you can actually breathe and enjoy what you're seeing.

Below are some photos from my participation in their fair last year, here is blog post where you can find the brands, too.

Formland really won my heart last year, I'm so happy I was invited back again and this year, I'll be giving two lectures on STYLING (weeeee!) and moderating TWO panels. I am quite excited to be a moderator once again at a fair. It's my newest passion - my first time moderating was at a fair I was on earlier this year, it felt really natural for me after years of public speaking. I was terrified at first, but it quickly felt "right" as I stood up and looked over at my lovely line up of experts sitting on stage, smiling back at me. The energy was fantastic and it inspired me. After 5 minutes, it was like the audience had disappeared and it was just me and my panel together in my living room talking about what we all have total passion for - design and social media.

I love the idea of getting together a bunch of smart people on a stage again, this time in Denmark, and to just chat very casually - and encourage an open and honest dialogue. Nothing scripted or overly rehearsed, just straight from the brain to the mouth - it's often best that way and gives a fair such an edge when they are providing educational lectures that are also fun to listen to, dynamic and totally engaging.

I've sat (I mean slept) through many lectures at design fairs in the past, so I'm determined to never be THAT kind of speaker. Let's hope not, anyway! I will really try to keep the energy high and get the audience involved too - as time allows. Also, I'm not the kind of speaker who exits the stage and disappears. Come up to me, talk to me, let's grab a coffee. I'm totally interested in making new friends and connecting in that way - if I have time, I will make it.

If you want to come to Formland to see me and my friends, Swedish Trend Expert Stefan Nilsson of Trendstefan, Danish Trend Expert and TV Presenter Mads Arlien-Søborg, Danish Interior Designer/Stylist and Blogger Laura Trøstrup from The Sweet Spot, and Danish Trend Expert Anette Eckmann from Eckmann Studio, please do! One of our panels, at the end of the day on Saturday, will be How social media and networking can make your business grow. The other, which is on Friday, will cover current interior and lifestyle Trends & Tendencies where we will, as a group, call out the current trends. The full schedule is here on this page.

Brands I loved to see last year at Formland in Herning, DK.

Brands I loved to see last year at Formland in Herning, DK.

At Formland this year, there are MANY stands that I want to visit, but I'm particularly looking forward to the HOUSE OF FREAKEBANA trend zone (last year it was truly incredible by the two ladies behind STUDIE FLYHELSTED), and to experience a new trend cafe - this year it is a Japanese cafe called MA by Atelier CPh who have worked on styling projects for Kinfolk magazine, Notem, The Poster Club and more. I truly can't wait!

Will you join me at Formland?

I will be there from opening day until Saturday afternoon, I'll leave after my final lecture so around 4:30/5:00. I hope you will look for me. Also, when you're at Formland, make sure to check out the trend hallway where you can find the curators the fair invited to show their current favorite things. You can see mine there as well.

See you in a few weeks!

Love,

Holly

Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Swedish style is known not only for its clean lines but also for its bold fabric designs, both working so well in highlighting the other. Hi guys, this is Mel, and I'm back this month reporting live from Stockholm to introduce you to Ulrika Gyllstad, a textile designer here whose graphic patterns are created with nature and architecture as its muse and with a strong environmental conscience. 

Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Recently I paid Ulrika a visit to her studio and was greeted with a warm smile followed by a chat, the good Swedish way –  over fika (a typical Swedish coffee break). Here she told me about the early days of her career, working as a pattern designer for H&M and GANT after graduating from Beckmans College of Design. “I really enjoyed working and learning much from these fashion companies, but I always felt the pull towards my love of interior textiles.” She moved in that direction in 2006 before founding her own company, Gyllstad in 2014. 

Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Ulrika not only created a brand with her own designs but being fully aware of the undesirable footprint many traditional textile companies have left thus far, she began to explore ways in which she could create not only a beautiful product but something that is as environmentally friendly as possible. This has become somewhat a passion of hers and she has gone on to ensure that her fabrics are certified organic and that the designs are pressed with traditional screen technology using certified pigments. “This helps me sleep at night,” she says. I told her that from a consumer point of view, I have to say that this kind of a commitment from a maker or company is a huge plus for me. 

Nature and architecture are Ulrika’s biggest inspirations and whether it’s the lines and form of a leaf, the perfection of a cut kiwi, or the twirl of a spiral staircase, she always has a collection of photo books on these subjects on hand to find her next motif. She then gets sketching, and I was surprised to learn that all of her designs are done in freehand.  

Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

All of the fabrics are weaved here in Sweden, another feat in the environmental commitment by keeping things as local as possible. The other advantage of having this done in locally is that Ulrika has been able to work closely with Swedish artisans to experiment with new weave structures for some of her cushion covers in solid colors that will sit beside and compliment her striking bold designs.

Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad
Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad
Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad
Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad
Tour The Studio of Swedish Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad
Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Textile Designer Ulrika Gyllstad

Looking through her collection, it’s hard for me to find something that I wouldn’t love in my home. Her fabrics are designed to mix and match and her cushions are an easy way to inject some new life into a room and her fabric, sold by the meter, can be made into a tablecloth. Patterned tablecloths are very popular here in Sweden and something that I had never considered until living here. It brings so much warmth and cheer to a table don’t you think? - Mel x

 (Text/Photography: Mel Chesneau)