Archive for April, 2012

Blue or Pink? Moments That Change Everything

This weekend we find out if we are having a boy or girl. It’s been a crazy week and one that has barely allowed us any free time to actually process what this weekend will mean… but, this is one of those moments that changes everything.

When we first found out we were pregnant we found ourselves constantly saying; “We just want a healthy baby”. But one night as we were laying in bed Cale revealed that he was just saying that because it’s the “politically correct” thing to say. In all honesty he really wants a boy.

So… since then we have been saying we really want a boy. :)

But, we just checked the Chinese Gender Predictor (that is over 700 years old) and it says we are having girl?! All I can think about is that part at the end of Sleeping Beauty when the two fairy Godmothers keep changing her dress… “Make it blue… No, make it Pink!”. Does anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I have no doubt we will welcome whatever gender God has given us, but the battle wages on in my head. What is this Little Noodle (that is what Cale calls it) inside of me? Ultimately, we are excited to know either way. 24 weeks and counting!

Here’s to a weekend full of BIG events! ;)

From the Farm

 

PS Keep up with our nursery inspiration by following Meg’s Pinterest Board: I Have a Thing for Whales
PPS Whale image from Room29 on Etsy. It’s only a $1.00 to download and you can transfer it onto anything of your liking!

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Lesson #4: Have an Orginal Idea

lesson-#4-Original-Idea

I think for creatives, for anyone really, the hardest part is coming up with that truly “original” idea. But, sometimes it doesn’t take a truly “original” idea, it’s just looking at something that has been done before and finding a way to make it better and make it your own. How can you take a tea towel and customize it to your design aesthetic? Are there products that you love, but that you wish came in a certain pattern or function? Our entire Kitchen Line was started with a need for a modern Mixer Cover Design. When I couldn’t find the style of prints I wanted I decided to make and sell my own. I can’t tell you how many handmade stories I have read where entire businesses were started from an absence of a specific product someone was looking for.

To help define if your idea is original you have to be able to look at your product and/or service and answer the following questions (be honest now!):

  • How can we make our products/service more original and uniquely our own?
  • How can we make our products better and different than our competition?
  • How can we make our products/service harder for people to copy just from seeing a photo or sharing a bit of our process?

For us the process of answering the above questions developed as we walked through the following phases in our product development: Phase 1: Materials, Phase 2: Production, and Phase 3: Value.

PHASE 1: Materials: While it’s ok to start with what you have it’s also important to think about the type of materials you are using, what do they say about your brand, the over quality they add to your products, and their availability? Stores want to sell and customers want to buy a product because of it’s unique materials and style. If you have to change your product depending on the materials available it can be harder to establish brand recognition and in turn see a consistent profit.

Originally we started creating our concrete jewelry out of materials we had found like: rope from the old pull windows we took out of our house, recycled wire, carved bones, found buckles in an old shed, and metal casings we purchased at a local craft store. All these materials worked great until we sold out of that particular style of necklace and people wanted more! It was at that point we felt stuck because we didn’t know if we could re-create a similar design without those exact materials. We decided to think of our first initial jewelry set as a sort of “test” round. Taking a step back we did lots of research and established new relationships with vendors that were reliable and could provide an unlimited quantity should we need to order large batches in the future. By slowing down our production and taking time to find quality materials that were available at our disposal we were ready to meet the need we had created within our own market, felt confident about the materials we were using, and also opened up the doors for both consignment and wholesale retailers.

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CNY: Tim & Erin [Pippin + Pearl & CooperHouse]

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Ever since I met Erin, a few years back, I have been inspired by the way she balances her full-time mom and creative career. Erin’s resume includes a wide list of experiences as a handmade shop owner, an artist, a blogger; Pippin + Pearl, and last but certainly not least she also runs a design studio with her husband Tim; CooperHouse.

“We’re a two man (or man/woman, if you prefer) creative studio that specializes in web development and branding for creative businesses. We’re learning that there is a creative side to almost every business and we definitely don’t discriminate, however most of our clients are designers, artists, bloggers, interior design industry etc. I handle all the art direction/design/project management and Tim handles all the development/accounts/hosting/maintenance.”

Together, from the comfort of their home, they take on clients from all sizes and still maintain time with their two daughters, date lunches, and vacations to see family on the West Coast.

Q1) What was the inspiration behind starting your own business?

A1) Tim was the first to strike out on his own. when the agency he was working for in Colorado closed its doors 8 years ago, he felt it would be a good time to try his hand at freelance web development. He worked on his own for a few years before luring me away from my design job to be his partner. I was inspired by his vision, but was also just really craving some independence after spending 8 years working in the Air Force design department. We both have always wanted autonomy in our careers and the freedom to work from anywhere, so that is the main reason we started CooperHouse.

Q2) How are your personalities alike and how they are different?

A2) We are both creative types. I’m a painter, he’s a sculptor & musician, so I think we understand each other very well on that level especially. I’ve never worked with anyone who is as respectful as he is of my creative process and the effort that I put into my design. I spent years learning Web design and so I also have an appreciation for his abilities. I know that this company needs both of our skills and talents in order to function well. Also, I think our personalities started out as more opposite and have grown to be a little more similar. I’ve mellowed a bit, and he’s become more social. I think our strengths are helpful in our business… Good Cop vs. Bad Cop and all that. ;)

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A Week of Garden Guest Posts at Curbly

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This week we are excited to announce that we are posting a week of gardening advice at Curbly! Last January Meg met Chris, the editor-in-chief, at ALT Summit, and hit it off immediately. With a love for creating homemade design to personalize his home and life Chris is a maker, writer, and crafter in the most manly of ways! We joked about how it’s ok for real men to wear pink, love musicals, and still know how to swing a hammer! ;)

“Curbly is a Web community for people who love where they live. Curbly is the best place to share pictures of your home, find design ideas, and get expert home-improvement advice.

Everyone should have a happy, beautiful home. With the right tools and know-how, every person can create a place that fits their personality. Curbly helps you bring out the best in your home.” – Curbly About Page

Here is a sneak peak of the topics we will be covering. Check back cause we’ll be updating the links throughout the week and/or look for our garden post header with the set of three plants (at the top of this post) at Curbly.

It’s time to get inspired, get outside, and get gardening! You can do it!

  1. How to: Choose the Best Spot for Your Garden
  2. Good vs. Bad Soil: How to Prep Soil for Your Garden
  3. Top 4 Things to Consider When Picking Plants for Your Garden
  4. DIY Upcycled Garden Weed Block
  5. Roundup: DIY Trellis Ideas

The first post is already live so hop on over and tell the Curbly crew we said hello! ;)

From the Farm

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STUFF: Alpaca Farm Fashion from Adrienne Antonson

alpaca-adrienne-antonson

Ok, ok so I know that spring is “here” and summer is on it’s way, but have you been in Oklahoma lately? It’s cold! My baby filled body doesn’t know if it needs to get ready for hibernation or bare feet on the grass.

And then I saw these felted alpaca hats… remember our Everyday Design post featuring the amazingly odd bugs made out of human hair? Well it seems that artist, Adrienne Antonson, is up to more great creative goodness. In between these fantastic felted alpaca hats and the chilly spring I kinda want too crawl back into my winter hole and curl up with a cup of tea (raspberry of course!) and a nice warm fire (comfy house shoes included).

From Farm to Fashion with Adrienne Antonson from Seattle magazine on Vimeo.

After watching this beautiful video about her farm inspired creations she seems like a reasonable person (not someone who would collect human hair and spend hours sculpting them into tiny bugs). And of course I can’t help but be completely intrigued and yet captured by Adrienne’s locally produced clothing line…

“Now, we’ve known that line as NuBe Seattle; but because Antonson has left her digs on Vashon to be closer to family in North Carolina, the line has been renamed State. As Antonson tours with her artwork, she’ll collaborate with other designers, artisans, and friends around the states (hence the name) and scour thrift stores and antique shops for gorgeous threads to put back into premium circulation.” - SeattleMet by Laura Cassidy

So here I am stuck in between winter and summer and enjoying the “cool” Oklahoma spring days for as long we have them! Adrienne I can’t wait to see what else you have up your “remaker” sleeves! Winter or summer I’m definitely figuring out a way to incorporate your wonderful pieces into my wardrobe!

From the (Oklahoma) Farm

All images are from Adrienne Antonson’s Blog. Check it out!

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Around Here: Easter Weekend

spring-BBQ-2012

Two weekends ago Cale worked at the Architecture firm till late on Friday and all day Sunday.

Two Saturdays ago Meg’s ankles swelled up for the first time (21 weeks and counting!) from cleaning out the milk barn all day and, helping Cale cleanup the yard and flowerbeds from a long winter.

BUT this Saturday, we had our first big bonfire with friends.

This Saturday we got lost under our favorite tree (in front of our house) playing old school yard games.

Killed about 300 301 Mayflies (RIP). :(

Took the tops off our cold frames and built a third raised bed (bring on the hot weather plants)!

Went to our first Easter Sunday service with Little Noodle (Meg cried).

And added venison to our fall menu (taken from a friends night cam on our family property)! :)

It was a beautiful weekend and just what we needed to remind ourselves what all this “work” is for. There are a lot of people who love the idea of owning land, but it’s also a lot of work! Your weekends are full maintaining and updating the property, on top of working a full-time job, running a home based business, staying on top of household chores, and all that other stuff you have to do as an adult. There are small moments we relish the idea of a city plot where mowing takes 30 minutes (with a push mower), but then we have weekends like these and we’re reminded just why we could never live anywhere else.

Here’s to many more summer nights under our favorite tree, slow Sundays with family meals, and wondering how it will all be different next year when we have a little one running around.

Happy (late) Easter Weekend everyone!

From the Farm

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2012 Garden Checklist: April

Garden-Checklist-Free-Download-4.2012

If your plants are anything like mine your cool weather greens are going crazy in this wonderful spring weather. Good amounts of rain and cool afternoons have made for some amazing growth in my asparagus and broccoli, even my radishes (a new attempt in my garden) are growing in leaps and bounds. But with this wonderfully gradual spring we are already seeing the first blushes of summer. So here’s what we need to do to stay ahead of the heat and on course for harvest.

Click HERE to download our 2012, April Garden Checklist!

I hope these little tips help make your gardening a little easier, and greener this year. I know I’m headed out this weekend to mark some of these very items of my list. So here’s to lush gardens, great harvests and green thumbs!

From the Farm

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Lesson #3: Start With What You Have

old-milk-barn

When launching any business it’s easy to get frustrated with inadequate resources. Don’t get me wrong, there are some occupations where expensive equipment is needed but when Cale and I started Green Couch Design we knew we had to build a business with the resources we had on hand. We started with what we had.

Nearly two and half years ago, on an October Monday, we met up from our corporate design jobs for a quick lunch date. We had been talking for years about running our own design firm, but it was time to draw a line in the sand and just go for it. We decided then and there that unless we felt a blatant “no” within our spirits we would quit our jobs come the first of the year. That was Monday. On Thursday Cale was laid off from his Architecture job. Obviously this was not the plan we had figured out in our heads, but we saw this as an opportunity and a definite sign that it was time to pursue our dream of establishing a business around our home life.

At that time I continued working full-time while Cale started up the business from home. Because of my employment at that time we could not offer any kind of graphic design services. We had to come up with another way to make a living; an original idea that would allow us to show off our design skills in a creative way. With no savings, not even a printer for our computers, and an income that barley covered our monthly living expenses we had to design products using the materials we had on hand.

For us, that was an extra bag of concrete found in our old Milk Barn.

Once we narrowed down the materials we had available we began asking the following questions:

  • What products have been made with this material before?
  • What products can’t be made with this material?
  • What are the type of products that people want to buy on a regular basis?
  • Are there everyday items that are typically seen in a gift/retail shop that you could put a unique spin on?

When starting your own business it’s easy to get intimidated by the lack resources that are available. Don’t get me wrong there are things that are needed to start a business, but you cannot let a lack of resources stop you from moving forward! In the beginning when we found ourselves in need of extra overhead to produce products we would look around the house and see what we could sell off? We sold all kinds of stuff from old windows we replaced in the old farm house to a quesadilla maker! Ultimately, we refused to let lack stop us from moving forward.

We didn’t know at the time that a bag of concrete would help launch and establish our little business, but out of it grew a series of concrete jewelry, candle holders, and pots! Obviously we don’t sell all these items today, but that bag of found concrete gave us a starting place to hone in on our craft, experiment, and find a niche that is truly original to what Green Couch Design is today.

Who knows, maybe it’s your lack of resources that will be the thing to force you out of your box and into an idea that is uniquely your own! :)

Are you having a hard time getting started with your home based business? What resources do you feel like you are lacking? What resources do you have access to that you may not have considered before reading this post? Have you or do you know of someone who has come up with a new idea or spin on a product due to their lack of resources?

From the Farm

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High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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