I met the lovely Jolanta of Jola V. Designs on Twitter, and then at the OOAK Vancouver show last December. Not only is she on the “tall girls” team with me, but she also has a bag called the “Sarah”. Match made in heaven!
The Sarah bag, like all of Jolanta’s pieces, is made using leather that is pre-cut, overstock, repurposed or liquidated. I appreciate that the hides she uses are being being turned into beautiful bags rather than shredded or sent to landfill. This means that Jolanta often has limited (but fabulous) colour runs for her bags, making them that much more special.
Having seen Jolanta’s super-soft bags in person, I love the extra special details (the ruffles, the braided strap, the added knot of leather) and the way those are incorporated into very functional and roomy construction.
She has also recently added canvas totes to her line, which are adorable (no surprise there!). These would add a little fun to your travel or beach wardrobe, or fill it up at the local farmers market!
So, do you love them?! Here’s some good news – Jola V Designs is celebrating 2 years in business, and Jolanta is offering a chance to win one of her popular Sarah bags – drop by the Facebook page and comment here for a chance to win!
You can also find Jolanta on Twitter, and all of her bags are available on her website at JolaVDesigns.com. If you’re an Etsy fan, you can visit her shop there, too but it is a limited selection – check her website for full range of colours and styles!
I am so, so, SO ready for spring and Alberta is still buried under snowbanks that are almost as tall as me (and I’m 6’0 tall, folks!).
This pillow, designed and printed by Jenna Rose in her Hamilton studio, brought a little of that summer-y warm feeling into my heart today.
Originally from Guelph, Ontario (my hometown! Cheers to Guelph!), Jenna now works out of her studio space in Hamilton’s James North area. From her website:
Jenna illustrates each design by hand, drawing inspiration from daily life. Each piece is screen-printed in house using non-toxic water-based pigments and natural and organic materials.
The tote above was recently spotted in the fabulous new online design, travel and food magazine Dabble. A highly recommended new read that I’ve definitely enjoyed browsing.
Jenna will be at the Toronto One of a Kind show this spring so be sure to stop in and say Hi if you’re headed there later this month. You can find more of her work on Etsy as well as follow along on her photography-filled blog and her website.
As many of you know, I have recently returned to my “outside-the-home” job after maternity leave with my little munchkin. This also means, among other things, a return to planning and packing lunches. So far I have managed to get something together every day and avoid starvation (or a desperate McDonalds’ run). However, usually my lunch has ended up thrown into a big ugly shopping bag. So what’s the big deal with that? Nothing really, but picture this: Me, attempting to look “professional” and “put together” (ha!), carrying my purse, baby’s daycare bag, and a grocery bag lunch, while balancing the baby on my hip and fishing my keys out of a pocket. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So, while it might not be a huge deal to have a stylish and pretty bag to carry my lunch, I think it will make a difference in how I feel about myself each day as I dash off to work. Enter: Urban Harmonie Designs. I think these eco-friendly, reusable, and super-chic lunch and snack bags are fantastic!
These bags are made with laminated cotton, and are free of all the nasty stuff that normally accompany most plastic items. Even better: you can just wipe them clean with warm soapy water! Vicki (aka Urban Harmonie) has a love for all things vintage, so her fabric choices often have a retro feel. Her bags are all handmade in her Vancouver studio.
Now if only I could be as inspired about what to put *in* the lunch bag!
A good bag or purse can be more than just a way of carrying around all those little items that a woman needs to have nearby at all times. It can be portable art or a hand-held billboard to showcase your style and mood. Also: it’s just really fun to have a selection of fabulous bags to pick from at any time! The ones catching my eye lately are these colourful clutches from Kimberly Jones Designs. I am already picturing the outfits that would be perfectly accented by some of these great pieces!
Not only is there an incredible selection of clutches to choose from, there are even sweet little coin purses and eyeglass cases. It is so much fun to browse through all the great pieces, I just wish I could take them all home! I guess I would need a bigger closet though…
Kimberly will gladly do custom orders, so if you have something you have been trying to find, just ask! If you are getting married this summer, how great would these be in your bridal colours as a bridesmaid’s gift? Or maybe someone you know is graduating or embarking on a new career, and the perfect clutch could be just the confidence booster they need to take the working world by storm. Or maybe, like me, you just want something new and great, for no other reason than to admire it’s beauty.
Want to see more? The Etsy shop has everything your little heart could desire. Now, if I could just get that walk-in closet I’ve been dreaming about!
Every girl understands the value (and necessity) of a good handbag. The right one can tell the world about your personal style and what’s important to you. So I am seriously kicking myself that I didn’t find out about Kitty Empire until it was too late to ask Santa for more room on my Christmas list! These vegan friendly bags are made with vinyl and vintage fabrics, and the graphics are modern but earthy. Erin (or should we call her the Empress?) gets her inspiration from her collection of ceramic woodland animals, as well as art and literary characters.
Not in the market for a whole new bag? Maybe your wallet has seen better days? There are some very cute little wallets that might just be calling your name! I am particularly fond of the little deer, or this wise old owl:
Kitty Empire is a member of Etsy for Animals, and 5% of this month’s sales will be donated to Farm Sanctuary, so animal lovers can feel extra-jolly about their purchases!
You can find Kitty Empire on her Etsy shop.
I’m not sure why it is, but it seems to me (through very unscientific observational methods) that many woman return to their creative roots after they become mothers. Maybe these days it’s the desire to stay with our babies and not go back to the office grind, or maybe it’s simply a function of those maternal instincts kicking in. Whatever it is, I think it’s pretty amazing that so many women are running their own businesses and pursuing their creative talents – Stacey from nisse.works is one of those women. After the birth of her daughter, she revived her childhood sewing skills and turned a hobby into a growing business.
From her home in Brandon, Manitoba, Stacey creates lovely little bags and pouches, all with a touch of hand embroidery and sweet details – perfect stocking stuffers, or gift bags for a small token of love (boys, if you’re buying your lady something sparkly, these would make a cute package!)
For the sewing enthusiast, these little needlebooks and pincushion pairs are pretty adorable!
Stacey’s graphic design roots are showing up in her shop, too – she has some animal alphabet and desk calendar printable files that you can download and print out yourself. No excuse to be without a calendar when she makes it this easy. I think I like the “Leavings” design the best, and each month is slightly different.
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve already purchased one of Stacey’s little tote bags for my daughter for Christmas and it is really adorable!
I have to admit, I am a bit of a word nerd. As a kid, I would hide novels inside my textbooks and read during class (maybe why I am terrible at math to this day??). I would stay up late reading under the covers,and pass entire day-long car rides without noticing, caught up in the world at my finger tips. As a mom to a busy little 10 month old, I don’t have a whole lot of time for reading these days. Whenever I do get a chance to sit and read, I treasure those moments now more than ever.
When I discovered Retrograndma on Etsy the other day, it really took me back to those carefree days lost in the pages of my favorite stories. From her home in Saskatchewan, Retrograndma creates one of a kind purses from her favorite hardcover books and record covers. What a fun way to carry a special memory with you every single day!
I was also a little bit giddy when I discovered that Retrograndma makes book safes! Just like in so many mysteries, where important things or clues are hidden on a bookshelf in a hollowed out book, you can have one of your very own! (Yes, my husband did mock me tirelessly for my unbridled glee, but I am not ashamed, this stuff is cool!).
Want even more retro stylings? Check out the great clocks made from upcycled records:
“Good books are like old friends, they never let you down”
What can make you smile, even when you are paying for a cart load of groceries? Yes, that bag of brownies might do the trick, but even better than that would be a really cute wallet. A pretty, unique wallet has way less calories than the brownies, and is just one more way to express your own sense of style and personality each and every day. Enter: Bliss by Heather. These handmade fabric wallets have a slightly retro feel, and lots of space to keep your daily life organized.
There is also a whole line of carriers to help keep any “personal hygiene products” discreetly (and stylishly) stashed away.
A little bit of bliss can go a long way. If you want to see more, or pick up a piece to hang out in your favorite purse, head over to the Bliss by Heather Etsy shop or visit her blog. You’ll be glad you did.
So, I was at Big Box Technology Store the other day looking for an accessory kit for my iPad. While there, waiting for someone (anyone! please!) to answer my question, I noticed an entire wall of vinyl and plastic iPad cases. Knowing there had to be better choices, I came home and did some searching and look what I found! Boutique ID is one of Isabelle Dansereau’s 3 Etsy shops, and it’s full of cute gadget cases and backpacks made out of felt and fleece. This wise owl made me smile, but the penguin is also a favourite!
Isabelle’s shop is in Saint-Bruno, near Montréal, and her products definitely have a sense of humour. I love the little gadget cases that would fit a cell phone, mp3 player or even a small digital camera. For the young at heart or for your tween or teen’s back to school gear? Fun!
For the even younger kids, or someone who wants to stay a kid for a little longer, her fleece and minky backpacks are just so sweet. I love the flower pack below, and if our baby could reliably walk without losing her balance, or our oldest daughter didn’t already have her pre-school backpack, I’d be snapping this one up!
Not everything in her shop has a face or a cartoon esthetic – check out this gadget case, or this iPad messenger bag made of industrial felt and leather in her other shop. Felt comes in a myriad of colours, too, so she’s got some really fantastic options. Magnolia pink? Kiwi green? Yes, please!
I have weird hair. It’s true – it’s kind of curly, but not really. Often, my solution is a really cute hat. Which is why I quickly bookmarked this shop!
Sparky Jones is more than just cute hats, though. The force (and I mean force!) behind the shop is Jemima (aka JJ), and she’s got some pretty solid ideas about what she wants from her life and her business. Her philosophy is
Reuse resources + Recycled what you have + Reduce Impact + Refuse to be disposable
All the Sparky Jones products are made using upcycled fabrics, the hangtags are printed on recycled cardstock by a local Vancouver printer and every little scrap is turned into something new and wonderful. On her Etsy site, JJ shares that she only has one small bag of waste from her workshop each month. Fantastic! You can read more about her environmentally conscious practices here, including the name of her green bicycle that she rides to the post office!
I really love the different textures and colours that are featured in the Sparky Jones collection – bright, beautiful and unique pieces. I definitely love the cute hats, but the bags are a conversation starter. Check out the Mama Jones diaper bag below – no other Mom in your playgroup is going to have a bag quite this cool!
I’m also loving her Waste Wonderful pocket wallets, using up the scraps from her days creations she ends up with a lovely little card wallet. The larger Bujetta Jones wallet is chock full of features, with zippered pockets and card slots to keep us all organized.
You can find the BC-based Sparky Jones on Etsy, but also over at Cosa Verde (a new marketplace for me, I must admit!) where the shops all have a focus on handmade + environmentally friendly products, on her personal site at SparkyJones.ca, or on her blog. If you visit her blog, you’ll see that she’s super-creative, with gorgeous flower headbands and new hats & wallets posted that don’t seem to make it to her shop before they’re snapped up!