interview

Inspiration Interview: Lily Jones from Lily Vanilli.

Lily Jones, Baker in London

I discovered Lily Vanilli bakery while visiting Columbia Road Flower Markets, one of my favourite places in London. After checking out their shop online, I fell in love with their beautiful cakes and got in touch with bakery owner Lily about our wedding. She made us the most delicious lemon sponge cake with white chocolate buttercream frosting for our special day - I can't wait to share pictures. Everyone was raving about it! Lily's cakes are absolutely gorgeous, often decorated with edible flowers and berries from her garden. It's no wonder she's been hired by high end clients like Elton John and the V&A. But what I find most inspiring is that Lily embodies the "choose yourself" mentality. When the recession made it difficult to work in the field of graphic design, she forged her own path and created a successful business doing something she loves.

How would you sum up what you do? I have a small bakery and make bespoke to order cakes for weddings, birthdays, any day. We always bake seasonally for the shop and decorate our cakes with things that taste as beautiful as they look. I grow a lot of the flowers we use & we source as much as we can locally. I write recipes, books and consult for other bakeries and businesses but above all I'm a baker.

What unconventional career path brought you from there to here? I was working as a graphic designer in Australia for the Greens before returning to the UK in 2008 and finding the country in recession and work hard to find. I started selling my baking just to make ends meet and have been happily baking ever since.

Where does your inspiration come from? From old books, films, nature, friends.

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality? Keep focused on developing your skills and your craft, spend all the time and money that you would on advertising & pr working at becoming that best at what you do - the rest will take care of itself....and make sure you have Instagram...

To see Lily's most recent creations, follow her on Instagram and Twitter. But be warned: it will make your mouth water.

Love, red currents, & glitter blueberries,

Inspiration Interview: An Interview with Kelsea Echo.

Kelsea, 27, Owner & Jewelry Artist at Kelsea Echo in Seattle, WA, USA

Kelsea and I have been commenting on each other's blog for a long time now, so I was really excited to see that she'd quit her full-time job to start a jewellery business, Kelsea Echo. I'm certain you'll be inspired by her colourful style and no-nonsense approach to making her dreams come true. Plus, she was kind enough to send me a few pieces from her shop so you'll see photos of how I styled them interspersed throughout the interview. Take it away, Kelsea!

How would you sum up what you do?

Kelsea Echo is all about converting the rainbows, fantasy creatures, pictures, glitter, and stories inside my head into unique, wearable art that's both pretty and practical.

What unconventional career path brought you from there to here?

People have a hard time believing this when they see my bold, colourful pieces, but I actually began as an accountant! I'll warn you now... this story is a long one!

I fell wholly in love with polymer clay at a young age, happily mixing colours and sculpting for hours on end. After clay, it was beaded and wire jewelry, friendship bracelets, CDs decorated with Sharpie designs, ceramics, card-making, illustrated story books, and memory books. The one thing that remained constant was that I almost never made anything for myself, preferring to give everything away to friends and family.

Despite my clear love for art and making things for others, it wasn't until the end of college that it occurred to me to turn that into a living. I was studying in Prague for my last quarter of college and had signed a contract with one of the Big Four public accounting firms. It seemed too late to change courses, so I decided to start a side business. The summer between college and work was spent holed in my apartment, happily and madly cranking out polymer clay and mixed media jewelry for my fledgling Etsy shop (now closed). I swore I'd make time for my business, buy supplies with my corporate earnings along the way, and someday be ready to go full-time.

Then I began working long hours (up to 17-hour days) and studying for the five-part CPA (certified public accountant) exams. Free time and energy were hard to come by. I eventually switched to a less demanding job, but even so, the dream was drifting further from reality.

One day, my boyfriend (now fiancee) asked me why I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do. I told him I was - I wanted to get experience with leadership, become a manager, and move up the ladder. He asked me what had happened to my dreams of owning a jewelry business. I said that dream was dead - I had given it up long ago. "No, you haven't," he said. "If you had, you wouldn't spend every minute of free time you have talking my ear off about all of the collections you're going to make someday. When is 'someday'? Let's make 'someday' happen this year."

A few months later I had trained my replacement, said goodbye to my coworkers, and was starting my preparations for Kelsea Echo.

What measures did you take to prepare for leaving your job and working on your jewellery full-time?

First, I made sure to make the transition as easy as possible for my work team. I gave my boss two months' notice and spent that time teaching coworkers how to perform my work functions. If at all possible, it's really worthwhile to leave on good terms. The massive emotional support my coworkers offered through well wishes, goodbyes, and thank yous helped me through a lot of the lonely months afterward. And my boss told me that if I ever wanted to work there again, she'd find me a job in the department, even if her team didn't have an opening. Given my risk averse nature, hearing that was quite a relief.

My boyfriend and I also sat down and took a serious look at our finances. I estimated how much I'd need to spend on start-up costs like packaging and software and saved up a hefty chunk before quitting. I did my research on the cost of individual insurance. By the time I left, we were fairly confident that we could manage even if it took years to become profitable.

What does self-love mean to you and what role does it play in your life?

This is actually very relevant to something I've been discussing recently with one of my best friends. I was very confident at my old job. I worked hard, led extracurricular teams, was happy with the work I produced, and received plenty of recognition. I thought that confidence would translate to starting my own business, but it turned out that confidence as Kelsea, Accountant, didn't translate to confidence as Kelsea, Jewelry Artist. Without the external recognition and assurance that I was good at my job, I had to generate it on my own... and it was harder than I thought it would be.

My friend, on the other hand, had never before been accused of laziness. She has worked at many jobs over the years, sometimes two simultaneously, others while attending college. Recently, she quit to become a housewife, and discovered how much our society looks down on anyone who is not currently employed.

We've both been learning that self-love really is just that. It comes from yourself. You can't get it from your friends, your boss, your family, acquaintances, or even your partner. And it's about truly loving who YOU are, not just feeling validated by your title, your awards, or your accomplishments. It's knowing that you are valuable, that you have something to offer, and that it's okay to be happy with yourself, whether or not you fit someone else's definition of success or societal worth. It's something I'm actively working on.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I kid you not when I say everything and everywhere. I can find inspiration in a novel, a jewelry supply, a photograph, the park, a season, a candy shop, or a colour. The biggest problem I have is trying to whittle those down into collections that make sense!

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality?

Former accountant speaking here: take a good look at your finances. Try your hand at estimating a budget. If your dream requires a big investment or substantial initial loss of income, you might need to scale back your lifestyle for a while or build some savings before you start. Not only will it help ensure you don't go broke in two months, but the preparation will help you feel less stressed and allow you to focus more on your dream rather than worrying about money constantly. And if you're risk averse, like me, don't try to fight your nature - just have a backup plan! A friend of mine has been thinking about quitting for years. She asked me how I finally got the push to go for it and we talked finances. Once she crunched the numbers, she came up with a financial projection and back-up plan for herself. I'm happy to say that earlier this year, she quit her office job to run her business full-time!

Break down the steps you need to take into a list. "Start a jewelry business" is fine for an overall goal, but it's too vague and overwhelming to be your catalyst. Write down everything you can think of to do in Excel or Google Spreadsheet and put them in order by priority/time sensitivity. Ask friends and family for help where their skills match up. Then... dive in!

All of that aside, let go of those fears! Don't worry too much about 'failing' and what people will think of you. People are going to think you're incredibly brave for following your dreams. If something's not working, you can always tweak it along the way or take that as an opportunity to implement your next big idea instead. The biggest loss you can take is not trying in the first place!

Thank you so much, Kelsea! Your story is so inspiring and I had so much fun styling your jewellery. I love that they had a pop of colour and playfulness to any outfit. Although I have to admit, they make me a little hungry. ;)

To see more of Kelsea, check her out on FacebookInstagramTwitter, hop over to her shop, and be sure to read her blog.

And tell me: who's been inspiring you lately?

Lots of love,

Photographs of Kelsea by Jess Juergens

Inspiration Interview: Sophie King from Crown & Glory.

Sophie, 27, founder of Crown & Glory in Cornwall, UK

Sophie (the lavender-haired beauty above) is the genius creator behind Crown and Glory and as many of you know, I'm a Crown & Glory addict. I bought my first piece from them around Christmas 2013 and now I have an entire collection. There's a 3-tier cake stand in our bedroom stacked with all manner of glittery ears, sequinned crowns, bejewelled hairbands, and seasonal clips. Along with her partner Gareth, Sophie designs and creates everything in-house. They've truly built their company from the ground up to become a favourite among bloggers and quite a few notable celebs. To say she's inspiring is an understatement!

How would you sum up what you do? I design, manufacture and source off the hook hair things from my home in Cornwall, UK.

What unconventional career path brought you from there to here? Crown and Glory started as a hobby when I was in my final year of university in 2010. I was studying Photographic Art, and the final year resulted in one final body of work, which was a long and arduous process compared to the smaller, 8 week long project we’d been used to. I turned my hand to creating accessories for myself as a means to keep the artistic fire alive and to be able to have something more immediate than the other creative works I was producing. Coupled with my love for fashion and for always wearing something in my hair, the first piece I created with a headband of cascading, hand painted feather butterflies. Soon, friends and peers started requesting that I create pieces for them, and a dear friend who had been selling jewellery online for a while suggested I set up an online store. I’ll be forever indebted to her for giving me that first push!

What does self-love mean to you and what role does it play in your life? To me, self-love means allowing myself to grasp the very best opportunities that I can manifest. To remind myself that my path is different to the person next to, above, and below me, and so I shouldn’t judge myself according to their successes. To base every decision on happiness; my happiness, the happiness of my loved ones, the happiness I can bring to the world. To ignore my inner bully and go for the things that scare the living daylights out of me. To remember to take time to take care of myself; with good food, exercise and enough rest. I try working on these areas every single day.

Where does your inspiration come from? Cliched and contrived it may be, but my inspirations are from a vast array of sources - street style, high fashion, couture - people, stylists and designers who aren't afraid to be a little different and have a lot of fun.

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality? One of my favourite quotes of all time is a lyric from a Jimmy Eat World song; “if not now, then when?” There will never be a better time to start working towards your dream. This doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind and going hell bent for leather without a real plan; but sitting there thinking about what you want without making any steps towards achieving it is counterproductive. Same as waiting until everything is ‘perfect’; perfection is a myth. The perfect opportunity is not going to get handed to you on a plate, waiting until your project is absolutely perfect until you launch it doesn’t guarantee it’s success. Try not to worry too much about sticking to a strict and regiment plan though; sometimes this can make you blinkered towards potentially amazing opportunities coming your way. And if it doesn’t work? Fail quickly, and move on. It might be gut-wrenchingly, soul-destroyingly mortifying right now, but this too shall pass.

As you may know, I'm a member of Sophie's subscription program, The Glitterati. For £23.95 (£26.95 internationally) each month you receive a bounty of mystery Crown and Glory goodies worth over £50. Usually there's a fun theme, so you'll have the best-dressed head whatever the holiday or season. Sophie is now doing a fantastic referral program, too. If you sign up and use my name, you'll get a £10 voucher to Crown and Glory, and so will I. If you've been on the fence about joining, now is a great time to try it out.

Or, for other ways to get more Crown & Glory in your life, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Thanks so much, Sophie! It's so wonderful to hear from someone who is making their dreams come true each and every day.

Love, gold confetti, & glittery bunny ears,