Why I feel called to craft

Why I feel called to craft

It all became much more relevant when our writing intern, Rachel, found the book Craftfulness, which we then selected as our book club book for this month. It’s a perfect fit! In fact, it was the book I’ve been thinking about writing for the last couple of years, but didn’t know existed (it was published just one year ago, so I guess that’s fair!). I’ll be writing more about the importance of crafting and making things with your hands, but first, I wanted to write about my journey to the handmade and how I’ve felt called to do so.

Yes, I know “called” is such a hot word right now and with all this self-motivation, “go live your dreams” time we’re living in, I would prefer to call it something different, but now that I’ve had quite a few years of seeing things in hindsight, I can’t call it anything else.

I’ve addressed it a number of times at lectures I’ve given or conferences, but I realized I hadn’t discussed it outright here on the blog when I received this message:

Fair enough 🙂 I will try to do just that!

Here goes.

The history of Lars

I was pursuing a master’s degree in interior design and started The House That Lars Built on Blogspot.com for a residential design class. The project first started when I created a fictitious family for the house I was designing. I named the dad Lars and then the story just kind of spilled out from there pretty naturally (you can read more about that here). I didn’t overthink it because well, I never intended it to become anything other than a school project. Once the class was over, I kept it up as a receptacle for my school work, a visual portfolio if you will, and would offer it as a resources for potential internships and future employers.

Studying and living in Denmark

The following year I studied textile design in Copenhagen, Denmark where, yes, I met Paul, who is now my husband. We got married in 2010 and my mom, sister, and I created a craftacular wedding made up of oversized paper flowers. You can see some of the pictures here. Mind you, this was before Pinterest and Instagram and all that jazz, but people started to come to Lars and request tutorials from the wedding. At that point I was living in Copenhagen with Paul and I couldn’t get a job while awaiting my immigration status so I had plenty of time to oblige. It kept me busy at a time when I could have just remained with my back to the radiator all winter, which I also did.

Before moving abroad, my dream was to work for Martha Stewart and lead the city life. I had gotten a taste of the Big Apple during my internships and I LOVED IT. Everything about it (besides being so poor!). I had built a good network when I lived in both Washington, DC and NYC but I lost it all once I moved to Denmark (as well as friends and community, etc–It was a tough time!) But that’s a pity story for another day.

I hadn’t ever thought of pursuing DIY or crafts professionally because…well, I was now a trained interior designer and really, besides Martha, it didn’t really exist in the way that it does today with anyone being able to take their own stab at. Had I known what I know now, I would have dug in deep then so I could have spared a few years of standstill.

Being Fearless

While I was in Copenhagen I read all the great design magazines and noticed that they included the direct phone numbers to all the editors. Cha ching! I started calling them up and asking if they needed any help. No, of course they didn’t need a newly graduated American interior designer, they said! They have the best designers in the world, silly! But, I was pretty fearless and reached out cold to anyone whose contact I could find in any design capacity. I identified designers whose work I liked and emailed them. I met ONE friend this way but she was wonderful and took me to Formland, Denmark’s annual gift fair every year that I lived there so we can stake out the latest design trends. Through her I also assisted on a few photoshoots and she hired me to make props.

My work in Denmark eventually led me to working more on The House That Lars Built due to ummm, lack of things to do. And I knew that this time would probably never happen again in my life so I treated it as a special time to dig into Lars. Eventually, I got a studio (read more about it here and check out my pixie–ha!) in downtown Copenhagen with a few photographers who are wonderful and I love them so much. I started writing for a few other blogs and websites as a craft contributor and writer and learned a lot (you can read about some of it here). Yet, I still didn’t identify as a crafter or DIYer. It was just something to do in the mean time.

No one would take me – ha!

Paul and I decided to move back to the US, Provo, Utah in particular, where he would go to school and I would provide for our family. I suspected my time with Lars was probably going to come to an end soon. I started putting in applications EVERYWHERE and you know what?! I received a job offer within 2 days of arrival! At a company that I thought was going to be a great fit!

They sent me the salary and it was extremely low, but I was willing to work with it after a little negotiating. Instead, I never heard from them again.

Truly! To this day I don’t know what happened. I mean, I’m kind of left to think that they weren’t used to women negotiating for a higher salary, but I guess I’ll never know.

And you know what the weird thing is? This happened to me TWO more times. I would receive a job offer with a salary and then never hear from them again. Well, the second one I did 6 months later, but yeah, not a helpful road to employment.

But it was for a reason

ANYWAY, all throughout this job hunting I kept on working on Lars and started getting paid for this and that and then more of this and more of that. I was hustling to get jobs and people were responding positively to the projects I was putting out into the world. Again, I was pretty fearless about reaching out and not afraid to put in the overtime (Paul might say that’s all I did). After a couple of years it took my dad coming to me and saying “It looks like things are working out for you” to make me realize, “Oh, I think you’re right. Maybe I should stop looking for a full time job.” I mean, at one point I was applying for banking jobs. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Could you imagine? What a nightmare they would have been in for!

The ah-ha moment

Cut to a few years ago when I was sitting in a blogging conference for women of my faith (I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have been known as “Mormon”) and I came across this scripture:

For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

I received a profound impression that day that this is what I am supposed to do and how I’m supposed to spend my time right now. And I take it quite literally, to increase the beauty around me through teaching people how to do that in their own lives. The way has been paved to make that happen for me, though I didn’t always understand why–from not getting jobs for who knows what reason to people coming into my life to help me accomplish this goal (I owe a lot of this to my business partner, Mary who came on board 5 years ago), and now a team who shares this vision with me.

This mission does not come without its share of struggles and challenges of course, but it does keep me focused when I question why I should keep on doing what I’m doing even when I…don’t get paid enough…or I could get paid so much more if I went and got a job somewhere else or…the list goes on and on (and it’s now always about money 😉

As you can see, my journey to making a life from crafting/making is a bit different than most because I was hustling to make ANY sort of living for our family. And then the making, the handmaking rather, became the avenue by which to accomplish it. It came naturally to me and people, you, responded well to it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. And now that I’ve been in it professionally for about 11 years, (or about 5 if we could the time I came to terms with it!) I’ve learned a lot about it.

There’s more to this story and I will be sharing it next week in part 2. Stay tuned! 

Top photo by Chaunte Vaughn from Craft the Rainbow

Becoming Loria Stern

In 2011, Loria Stern started attending adult education classes entitled “Medicinal and Edible Plants” where she learned about foraging and the power of plant medicine. She started combining her culinary skills with the knowledge she was learning about botanicals. All the while she was posting her bespoke creations on Instagram. In 2016 her work was highlighted in Vogue Magazine and she received over 30,000 followers overnight. Fans were asking where they could purchase her treats so she started selling them on her website. The first day she posted her treats, she received over 20 orders. Since that day, her business has grown into a successful baking operation where she employs 4 helpers with living wages. She’s still growing her business, writing a cookbook and pitching a TV show. Exciting things are in store for this hardworking woman!

Loria is wearing a floral dress and standing in a kitchen surrounded by colorful produce.

Meet Loria Stern

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, baker, business person, educator, etc.?

Well, I consider myself all of these things but more so one than the other depending on what day of the week we’re talking about. I would say I started out as an artist and maker, and then became a baker and now my daily tasks are more of a business person and educator. 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now? 

I grew up in Ojai, CA, a small quaint town nestled in between large mountains but just a 20 minute drive to the beach. The town had a lot of nature–my childhood neighborhood streets were lined with tall oak trees. There was and still is a huge element of health consciousness and spirituality in Ojai and I think those elements absolutely influenced what I do now and the person I’ve become. 

Loria stands with her back to the camera. She's surrounded by fresh cut flowers and she's wearing a straw hat, and there are misty mountains in the background.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger? 

Of course I wanted to be a professional tennis player! That dream ended around 14 years old and then I wanted to be an artist. I guess that dream has come true except through a different medium (culinary arts vs. the visual arts).

Rolled out cookie dough with colorful pressed flowers pressed onto each round circle of dough.

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path? 

Not really one single person, but more so a number of different friends who loved eating the foods I cooked and baked for them and encouraged me to follow this path.

What sparked your interest in edible flowers? 

I’ve always loved flowers (who doesn’t?!) but it wasn’t until I started learning about the medicinal properties of botanicals in my 3 semesters of the adult education classes that my love for combining edible flowers + botanicals with cooking and baking, really opened up an entire new craft for me. 

Rolled out cookie dough with colorful pressed flowers pressed onto each round circle of dough.Brightly colored flowers pressed onto sugar cookies on a wooden background.

What are three words to describe your style? 

Creative, happy and cool.

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career? 

I graduated with a BA from college and spent my last year painting and drawing. I was in an art show in my final year of college and sold several pieces. As noted earlier, I also took 3 semesters of adult education classes post college– “Medicinal + Edible Plants” and learned a lot about treating ailments naturally with wild, edible plants. I also attribute my dedication as a competitive tennis player to my strong work ethic, which I think is the most important aspect of my current success. 

Loria sits cross-legged on a teal blanket surrounded by pressed flowers in books and a cup of tea.

Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now? 

I did not really have a career after graduating college in 2006–I more so worked a bunch of odd jobs to pay the rent–teaching tennis, nannying, working as an assistant, etc. It was not until 2010 when I worked my first job as a prep chef that I really learned my love for the culinary arts and that I wanted to make this a career.

What inspired you to become a baker/florist/gardener? 

My love for nature, working with my hands and discovering new alchemic combinations.

Brightly-colored flowers pressed onto green matcha cookie dough.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why? 

I love making tall tiered wedding cakes and delivering them to the venue. It is always so rewarding.

Tall wedding cake frosted with white frosting and purple and yellow flowerscake frosted with blush pink frosting with purple, yellow, and white pansies pressed onto it. It's styled in a pink draping fabric with a vase of flowers.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

In nature first and foremost. 

How do you make social connections in the creative realm? 

Many via Instagram, I’ve met some of my best friends and have found a beautiful, supportive community of my work there.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present? 

Gah, there are so so many! Truly too hard to just pinpoint a few.

Horizontal photo of Loria wearing a floral dress and holding a tray of baked cookies. Flowers are pressed onto the top of each one.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days? 

My father was a jazz clarinetist and music pervades much of my childhood. I love all types of music and have found there is a time and a place for every genre of music. I love documentaries and listening to podcasts. But I try to stay away from negative media as it definitely affects my mood.

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto? 

Work hard and always do your best. Hold yourself and others accountable. Treats others how you’d want to be treated.

Horizontal photo of Loria measuring sugar into a yellow mixing bowl. She's in a kitchen and surrounded by flowers and a turquoise kitchenade mixer

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

I moved to Los Angeles from Santa Barbara just one month before the pandemic began. I had to find a new commercial kitchen and employees within that time and it was extremely difficult to say the least. Looking back, I feel so grateful for the commercial baking space and my LA helpers. 

Loria stands in a field of zinnias wearing a white dress and a straw hat. She's holding a basket full of flowers.

How do your surroundings influence your work? 

So much. I realized I am creatively motivated by my physical space. I love natural light and need to be close to nature. 

Loria bends down to pick wildflowers in a meadow. She's wearing a white dress and a straw hat.

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump? 

Exercise is always a good idea and I have found it to be the number one cure for all sorts of slumps. 

What is a typical day like for you? 

I enjoy waking up early. I drink coffee first thing in the morning, then I’ll mosey around my backyard garden with coffee in hand. I’ll stroll up to my home office, check business and personal emails, and then the day is off and running. I usually pick edible botanicals from my garden then meet my team at the bakery. We start cranking our baking orders and then before I know it, it’s 6pm! Then I’ll come home, meet up with my boyfriend and we’ll cook dinner and watch a show.

Loria decorating a pan of focaccia with flowers and vegetables. She's shaped them into a floral scene.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

To learn as much as you can about the hobby / skill. There is so much readily available information that one can learn online that school is not necessary as long as there is curiosity, dedication and a strong work ethic.

Loria standing at the head of a banquet table full of food and flowers. It is sunset and there are mountains in the background.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on? 

I’d say tennis is my secret talent for those who are just meeting me now! Otherwise, I’m working on learning how to surf but it’s extremely hard!

Two pans of botanical cookies with pressed flowers. The ones on the top are a vanilla shortbread and the ones on the bottom are pink.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business? 

Gah, I am still trying to figure that out. I have not accepted investment from outside sources however am currently looking into it to grow my business!

A plate of baked floral shortbread stacked up. In the background there are lots of flowers scattered.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

I’d like to become more well-traveled. I want to visit Japan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Sweden, and the list continues! I want to visit these places and learn about new ingredients and cooking techniques and share those with an audience so that they can live on and evolve into our current day’s food. 

A film photograph of Loria walking away from the camera through a field of wildflowers. She's wearing a white dress and a straw hat and there are trees and mountains in the background.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years? 

First and foremost, I hope to remain healthy! Secondly, I hope to open up a physical commissary kitchen with a retail space, classroom and on-site edible flower garden so that I can teach my botanical infused culinary arts to the greater community. There is so much information that I find so inspiring and interesting, I am sure others will as well.

Loria sitting on a bed with teal bedding and flowers in a bowl. She's wearing a beige jumpsuit and there's low, moody lighting.

Can’t get enough of Loria Stern?

We don’t blame you! Follow Loria’s work on her Instagram @LoriaStern and don’t forget to check out her website, where you can buy her delicious, beautiful creations!

Years ago we wrote a post about using edible flowers, and I hope that this interview with Loria Stern makes you even more excited to incorporate beautiful botanicals into your meals (like this edible flower pot).

Read more Becoming interviews here to keep the inspiration flowing!

Loria walking through a meadow of flowers wearing a white dress and a straw sun hat. She's holding a basket of flowers and the sky is blue.

All photos are courtesy of Loria Stern.

2021 Planners To Make Next Year Everything You Hoped 2020 Would Be

Even if you’re not into planners, you will be after looking at the fun 2021 planners we’ve picked out. Last year we had so much fun choosing different planners for everyone.

In John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” he included the famous line from Allen Saunders’ in a 1957 issue of Readers Digest: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Nothing could be more true of this past year, 2020!

And yes, the things we plan for don’t always pan out, but planning ahead gives us a sense of organization and accomplishment.

2021 Planners For Creatives

 

  1. For the Minimalist
  2. For the Botanicals Lover
  3. For the Busy Mom Who Likes Pretty Things
  4. For the Goal Setter
  5. For the Student
  6. For the Neutrals Enthusiast
  7. For People Motivated by Stickers
  8. For Working from Home
  9. For the Classic Planner
  10. For the Planner on the Go
  11. For the Designer
  12. For the Maximalist
  13. For the Optimist
  14. For Self-Reflection
  15. For the Journal-Keeper
  16. For the Detail-Oriented Planner
  17. For the Ticket Stub-Saver
  18. For the Overachiever
  19. For the Entrepreneur
  20. For the Dreamer

2021 Planners Accessories

 

For some other great planners companies, check out our guides from 2020 and other years past.

Pin this!

2021 planners for creatives

Becoming: Louise Pretzel from the Lars Print Shop

I’m so excited for you to meet Louise Pretzel, an illustrator extraordinaire and our newest addition to the Lars Print Shop!

Louise Pretzel is an illustrator inspired by vintage kitschery and the styles of yesteryear. Formally trained in the art of graphic design and traditional illustration, Louise brings a fresh take on a range of subject matter with favorite themes including decadent desserts, foraged wildflower bouquets, and nostalgic mid century oddities. She currently lives in the midwest with her husband and two fluffy dogs, where she works out of her home studio.

Meet Louise Pretzel!

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.? 

When I was first starting out my career, I considered myself solely a designer. As of today I definitely consider myself an illustrator as well!

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

Hmm, definitely not an illustrator! I think at one point when I was trying to figure out what I should be, I thought being an anesthesiologist or radiologist sounded like viable career paths without actually considering the fact that I was terrible at math and science, lol. It wasn’t until about my junior year of high school where I realized that I could pursue what I actually enjoyed doing as a hobby (art and design) as a full time career. 

Louise Pretzel sits at her desk painting. The desk has paper flowers and a framed illustration of a rabbit on it.

Where did you grow up? Are there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born and raised in Southern California. Probably the biggest thing that influenced me to follow a path into art and design was actually practically living out my childhood on Neopets and Myspace, spending countless hours blinging out my pages with graphics made on a pirated bootleg version of Photoshop. Those were the days! Another big aspect that influenced my illustration style and aesthetic was going thrifting and antiquing with my mom and sister. Looking back now, since moving to the Midwest, I can say I was a bit spoiled with such easy access to so many great vintage and flea markets like the Rose Bowl.

What sparked your interest in illustration? What attracted you to this field?

Growing up I was always on the artsy side and took traditional illustration classes in high school and college. I ended up pursuing graphic design in college, since that seemed to be the “financially viable” path to take as an artist. I actually didn’t even consider being an illustrator, or even realize it was something I could be! But I would say that spark and interest in illustration was something I always had ingrained in me, but I just needed the right opportunity to allow myself to fully embrace and explore that path professionally.

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

My first job out of college was a graphic designer role, doing layouts for stationery and home decor items. We actually had two in-house illustrators, but at some point they both quit which ended up sort of forcing the graphic design team to take over the illustration duties. From there I had a lot of opportunities to create new original art, which really sparked my passion for illustration, and also provided me a space to experiment with different styles and methods of creating which was so great! That ultimately gave me the confidence to start creating illustrations on my own outside of my 9-5. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's elephant leans against a pink wall with wooden tree toys in front of it.

What are three words to describe your style?

Kitschy, whimsical, random? Haha. I am the worst at describing myself! I’d be more interested in finding out how other people describe my style!

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

Probably the most helpful advice that was instilled into me throughout my life came from my dad. He is a financial banker-type of guy, and he always encouraged me to negotiate, know your worth, and to walk away if the offer isn’t right. That has been essential advice to me as an artist, and has helped me walk away from a few opportunities with no regrets. And without fail, when I have walked away from those opportunities, a better one came my way! 

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

Having pursued graphic design in college, I think has really helped me as an illustrator. It gave me a lot of the technical know-how in terms of actually applying my art to products, knowing the essentials of typography and layouts, and being able to fully understand the printing process for setting up my files for clients. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Rocking Horse leaning against a gold wall with pastel wooden blocks in front of it.

What are some stereotypes of your job that you wish to break?

I personally have trouble sticking to one style, it’s probably the biggest stereotype for an artist to be successful that you need to have a signature style. Maybe that’s true! But in that case maybe I don’t want to be successful. Lately I have been trying to just stick true to what brings me true joy as an artist, and a lot of that comes with trying new styles and experimenting with ways of creating. I think about having to stick to the same style for all of eternity… that sounds a bit boring! 

What is a typical day like for you? 

I usually wake up when the sun rises, fix myself a cup of coffee, and let my two little white fluffy dogs outside. My mornings are usually spent cuddling with my dogs on the couch, and catching up on email and social media. From there I pretty much just go into work mode with some breaks throughout the day! I love to take an afternoon break with some tea and cookies. Later on in the day I might do some gardening, take the dogs on a walk, fix dinner, and end with watching a movie or episode of whatever I’m currently binging with my husband. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

I actually bought and moved into my home during the pandemic, so I was able to set up my home office knowing that I would be spending a lot more time in it than I probably would have otherwise! I’ve surrounded myself with most of my vintage poodle collection, as well as plenty of art prints and paintings I’ve created over the years. Probably my favorite thing in my office is a vintage 1960’s student drafting table that I picked up from FB Marketplace which I promptly painted pink, and now use as my painting and crafting table! 

A collection of vintage poodles and other fun kitchery.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

Actually, probably the spring garden print I created for the Lars shop! I love all the fun garden critters hiding within the flowers and foliage. I was actually inspired by my own garden for this print, which I made during the height of my tulip garden blooming, so it also feels a bit personal. This was actually my first year of being a homeowner, and subsequently, my first foray into gardening in a yard of my own. It was so exciting to see all the tulips pop up from the bulbs we planted in the Fall. I think the garden print captures that feeling of magic and excitement of seeing things begin to blossom in early Spring. 

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

I absolutely feel most inspired after a day of thrifting and antiquing. I always have my phone out taking pictures of the weirdest & kitschiest items I can find, as well as any amazing vintage color palettes, patterns, and typography. 

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

Historically, I look up to painters and textile print artists, often from the 50’s and 60’s. Artists like Tammis Keefe, Paule Marrot, and Vera Neumann to name just a few! Present day, I absolutely love the work of Emily Isabella, one of the artists in the Lars Shop! Her work is just absolutely splendid. I actually feel a bit honored to be sharing the same digital air-space as her in the shop! 

Louise sits at a desk painting a pink pretzel.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I just finished bingeing the last season of Shrill and I am pretty devastated it’s over. While I work on illustrations and client work, my go-to background noise is Married At First Sight. I’m also gearing up for the next season of the Bachelorette. Me and my friends always get together and do a fantasy league (of which I am currently the reigning champion). It’s the perfect excuse to get together, drink wine and eat more cheeses than anyone ever should in one sitting! Much needed after a year of quarantine. 

What is the most challenging part of your work? How have you, or how do you, overcome those challenges?

For me, the biggest challenges I face are finding the motivation to create new work and also imposter syndrome. I feel like those two feed into each other and create a cycle of self doubt. But when I find a moment of inspiration and I sit down and just make something that I love, I look back on those negative thoughts and I’m like “what were you thinking?! You’re amazing!”. It’s definitely a cycle of major highs and lows! 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Grasshopper leaning against a light blue wall with wooden rainbow and tree toys in front of it.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

My secret talent is that I can yodel (poorly). But I always thought it would be cool if I could harness that skill (anyone know any professional yodel instructors out there? lol). As for skills I am working on, I only recently started illustrating more on my iPad, so I love learning new tips and tricks and experimenting with new brushes.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

In terms of my illustration career, I don’t know what will come next! It’s actually only been about a year since I started doing my own illustration work as a daily practice and “putting myself out there” which essentially all began at the beginning of quarantine, so in that regard I feel like my journey as an artist is only just beginning, which is exciting! Outside of illustration, I have grand ideas of being able to someday move to a more rural area where I can have some chickens. 

Shot of Louise sitting at her desk from behind. The image is symmetrically composed and a corkboard with colorful notes and drawings hangs against the wall.

What is your long-term goal?

Aside from the chickens, I’d love to just keep illustrating and see where it takes me. Quite honestly, I have little to no expectations that this will bring me any great success. What is most important to me is that I keep the passion and joy of creating, always. If I can continue that, then I will consider myself wonderfully successful! 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

Just do it! The hardest part (at least for myself) is getting that initial spark or motivation to simply begin, so I understand how it feels to be nervous about starting something new. I think the greatest advice would be to just begin and then keep moving forward, even if you think it’s terrible during the beginning, I think you often are surprised at the final result. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Pull Duck Toy against a gold background. Pastel wooden block toys are arranged in front.

More to Love

If you loved reading about Louise Pretzel’s trajectory as an illustrator and creative, you’ll love looking at her work! You can find her prints for the Lars Print Shop here, her website here, and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @LouisePretzel.

In addition to Louise Pretzel’s interview, you can read about more of our lovely Lars Print Shop artists and illustrators we’ve interviewed! Here’s an interview with Julie Marabelle, Becca Stadtlander, Cat Seto, Libby VanderPloeg, Amelia Giller, Justina Blakeney, Rachel Kiser Smith, and more!

Stay tuned for more Becoming interviews, coming soon. 

Winter 2021 Creative Internship Call

Winter 2021 Creative Internships at The House That Lars Built

The House That Lars Built is a creative design studio and website focused on artful living through beautifully produced original content. Our goal is to help empower its readers recognize and fill your life with beauty while also providing skills that you can take with you to your next job! We create daily blog content, content for other brands, products, a YouTube channel, and are constantly seeking new ways to create an artful living. We are looking for interns in the following categories:

  1. Illustration
  2. Graphic Design/Marketing (3 different positions: Pinterest, Newsletter, Instagram)
  3. Shopping
  4. Crafting
  5. Business
  6. Content Writing
  7. E-commerce (product development and Shopify)
  8. Sewing/Embroidery 
  9. Marketing
  10. Art Curation
  11. Creative Director assistant

Click here for in-depth descriptions of what each internship includes!

What’s in it for you?

Here at The House That Lars Built, we are passionate about internships! Brittany herself has completed many internships all around the world, and her experiences are what set her up to turn what started as a graduate project into a full-time growing business.

Things like our top 7 tips for nailing your internship will help you stand out in your field. An internship can (and should) be the gateway to the rest of your creative career. Whether or not your personal brand or your future plans align perfectly with the Lars Brand, your experience writing, designing, or illustrating for an existing brand will build your skills, portfolio, and resume.

As an ever-evolving company, while working with The House That Lars Built you will have hands-on opportunities to adjust what you have studied in a new market and changing economy. Working with a small team will allow everything you do during your internship to be seen, and your impact will be felt and noticed. You will have opportunities to utilize the skills you already have and improve in new areas.

Many of these internships listed above have a long legacy here are the House that Lars Built! Lars Alumni are part of a creative, passionate, and inspired community working to make the world more colorful! As a part of the Lars team, you will instantly have networking opportunities at your fingertips that can be vital to your career in a creative field.

In addition to our long standing internships, we are so excited to have some brand new focuses available! More specific internships such as art curation, newsletter marketing, and e-commerce were created to help you narrow down which direction you want to go in your long-term career. Click here to read more about what these new internships include.

Details on all internships

Interns will specialize in their respective category but all are expected to participate in the following:

  • Assisting on photo shoots
  • Helping with the general maintenance of the studio
  • Running errands and complete shipping tasks
  • Writing and brainstorming activities
  • participating in training meetings
  • assistant duties

Internships are unpaid, but can be used for university credit, in fact we highly encourage this. The applicant will need to work with your university to get it approved.

You must be able to work a minimum of 10 hours per week. We expect a full commitment to the position once you’ve accepted the position. The internship will last from late January 2021-April 2021. Exact days can be flexible.

How to apply

Please email hello@thehousethatlarsbuilt.comwith the subject line INTERN and the desired position. Include your resume and portfolio (can be online, photos, basically anything to help us understand your proficiency and skills) and a cover letter. We will email you back to invite you in for an interview.

Please don’t hesitate to apply! Many of our internships can be specialized to fit both our current needs and your amazing skills!

Craft the Rainbow Giveaway

Craft the Rainbow Giveaway craft book for creatives

Win a Complete Craft the Rainbow Set

How to enter:

1. Follow @houselarsbuilt and @houselarsbuiltshop on Instagram

2. Sign up for our newsletter here

3. Comment on this Instagram post and guess how many pairs of scissors are hidden throughout Craft the Rainbow!

Craft the Rainbow Giveaway craft book for creativesCraft the Rainbow Giveaway craft book for creatives

As you can see above, the pages of Craft the Rainbow are filled with scissors in every shape, size, and of course, color! Take a guess at how many pairs of scissors fill the book! (Hint: It’s a lot!)

Giveaway ends 4/1.

Whoever guesses correctly first, or gets the closest to the correct answer will win the full Craft the Rainbow set, which includes: A signed copy of Craft the Rainbow, My Life in Color (guided journal), Marble blank journal, and our Striped blank journal.

Winner will be announced 5/2 on Instagram!

For other rainbow inspiration

Explore our other Craft the Rainbow month posts here!

2 years of Craft the Rainbow! – Read all about the story behind my first book!

Free Phone and Desktop Wallpaper Downloads from Craft the Rainbow

How to publish a book: Part 1 – Read along as I go in depth on my journey to publishing a book. Part 2 will be out soon!

Quarantine Creativity: Paper Weaving from Craft the Rainbow – Don’t have your own copy of Craft the Rainbow yet? Try out a simple and family-friendly tutorial from the book here!

Loungewear in every color of the rainbow – It wouldn’t be Craft the Rainbow month without a way to wear the rainbow! Click the link fo find our favorite loungewear choices to make working from home more fun and colorful!

How to make writing in your journal fun and creative – Read about our guided journal My Life in Color which is the companion to Craft the Rainbow

Creative challenge to do with your kids at home – Teach your kids about color theory and the rainbow with this simple at-home challenge inspired by Craft the Rainbow

Maybe we’ll never have this time again…

Ten years ago, I had just graduated from graduate school in Washington, DC. I had started The House That Lars Built a couple of years earlier for a class assignment. It turned into my portfolio, which I took with me to internships and jobs and beyond. This was before Pinterest so I was also sharing beautiful pictures that inspired me.

Paul and I got married in the fall of 2010 and I moved to Denmark, where he was from and living. I had spent the previous summer in Copenhagen, where I had met him, and had had a ball in my textile design program, biking around the city, meeting new people, going on adventures. When I moved there permanently, things were different. I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t really have a network. Danes are notorious for taking a long time to warm up to newcomers. It was September and the days were becoming shorter and the weather cold so I found myself inside without much to do.

We were assured that the process for becoming a resident of Denmark would be a quick and speedy process, but for some reason, it took much longer than anticipated, almost a year. During that time, I couldn’t work, get a phone, a credit card, etc. While there were some miserable aspects of this stage in my life, I also knew that I probably would never receive this opportunity again–to do nothing!

Because the thing is…I didn’t do nothing! On one hand, I explored Copenhagen REALLY well. While Paul was at work, I would walk around down town and visit all my favorite shops (and not actually shop because $$$$) and museums. I got to know the metro system extremely well as well as the roads on my bike. In hindsight it was a lovely time in some ways.

When I wasn’t exploring the city I was working on The House That Lars Built as if it were my job even though it most certainly wasn’t. I didn’t even know that you could make money from blogging yet. Because our paper flower DIY wedding got featured on a few different wedding sites like 100 Layer Cake and Pinterest had come out at around the same time, it went bananas and I was asked to create tutorials for various sites and soon became a permanent contributor to Brooklyn Bride and Oh Happy Day. Though I wasn’t getting paid too much, it was soon enough to pay my student loans and I was pretty thrilled about that!

I started to realize that I really liked sharing projects and sharing about my life and happenings in Denmark so I shared a bit more . That said, I’ve always been somewhat of a reluctant blogger. I’ve always been cautious about the implications of putting your life out in the public. In fact, I didn’t even mention my first name for years! Ha! Overtime I realized that the strength of sharing your story is being transparent so I’ve become a bit more open, though the hesitancy ALWAYS exists!

Once my Danish residency was official I went to town applying to various jobs in Denmark. In fact, I even called up the editors in chief of various design magazines because their phone numbers were in the mastheads! I applied to dozens and dozens of jobs during my years in Denmark and guess how many jobs I heard back from? None! Not one single one. Ha!

In the mean time, I continued to work on The House That Lars Built and treating it like it was my job.

When we moved to Utah, the same thing happened! I applied to a few jobs, got a few offers, and for whatever reason, the jobs never worked out. It was always a devastating blow, especially since I was to be the breadwinner while Paul was going to school. Once again, I continued working on The House That Lars Built. Soon, I started to get sponsorships and a few more freelance writing jobs and was able to pay the bills. We were scraping by, but at least something was working. I kept on applying to jobs with the same results–nothing.

It took two full years before I realized that Lars was actually working, much to my surprise, and maybe I didn’t need to apply to other jobs. It had become my job! I hired my first design assistant and then got a business partner and we’ve been plowing full steam ahead ever since.

I can see my experience much more clearly these days and now know that the reason The House That Lars Built worked was because of my road blocks. In an alternate reality, I would have gotten a job and wouldn’t have had time to work on it or wouldn’t have been SO desperate to have it work out. There just wasn’t any other option that was working out!

I’m beginning to see this time of quarantine in a similar light though I don’t know how it will turn out yet. There are certainly some pros to being stuck at home. For one, I’ve never been able to spend so much time with my son. It’s showing me what it could be like to be a stay at home mom (though perhaps not an entirely accurate depiction as I’m still working full time).

Because of this, I thought it would be nice to create a bucket list. Who knows when we’ll have the opportunity to spend so much time with our families, or do projects on our own, or whatever our situation is. So we might as well take advantage of our time!

Here are some things that we brainstormed as a team that could be fun to add to the list:

Social Distancing Bucket List

  1. Conference Call Group Workout
  2. Karaoke over zoom
  3. Re-read favorite childhood book series
  4. Trunk picnic in parking lot
  5. Distance picnic-family on own blanket
  6. Group apps : psych
  7. Clean out closet (what do you love, what fits, what doesn’t need mending)
  8. Organize pantry
  9. At home spa
  10. Full round of monopoly with housemates
  11. 500 piece puzzle
  12. 1000 piece puzzle
  13. Create window art
  14. Sidewalk chalk mural
  15. Zoom movie night with friends
  16. Order from local takeout
  17. Create a WFH space
  18. Recreate “it’s a small world” with youtube + diy boat
  19. Drive by party
  20. Drive in movie
  21. Online shopped for a necessity
  22. Online shopped for a  luxury
  23. Watch highlights/vintage reels of fav sport (or olympics)
  24. Send snail mail to graduate
  25. Buy  something off a wedding registry for a quarantined wedding
  26. Buy something off a baby registry for a newborn baby
  27. Run your own 5k/13.1/26.2 because yours was cancelled
  28.  Order cotton candy and play/make carnival games
  29.  Create indoor museum of favorite artist
  30. Makeup free week
  31. No jeans/slacks for a week
  32. New wardrobe completely based off of pj’s/lounge wear/yoga pants
  33. Create vision board/travel plans/research city guides for where you’ve always wanted to go 
  34. Turn bathtub into hottub with jets
  35. Garden starts/indoor herb/ “victory garden”

You can find the printable over at our shop here.

I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR bucket list. Or how this experience is going for you. Spill it!

Our commitment to giving

How COVID has affected our small business

About a couple of weeks into the pandemic in 2020, I realized that as a company, we wouldn’t be the same. I had already had to make some pretty drastic decisions about our small team, which, unfortunately, meant lay offs and other sad decisions. I was unsure about our future and it was the only thing I could control.

Picture Hope Coloring Book

Then the idea of a collective coloring book came to me in the form of Picture Hope: The Social Distancing Coloring Book. 60 artists contributed a coloring page to form this amazing book (yes, I proudly admit that it’s amazing!). I had had this idea of a collective coloring book for some time but it seemed like it would have the most impact if we could do it for a purpose. And it was! We were able to donate about $12,000 to various charities who have been hit hard by the pandemic! Incredible!

Ways to donate as a small business

As you can see, it literally took a catastrophe to get me comfortable with the idea that our small business could give to charity. I had always read about the benefits of donating even when you don’t think you can “afford” it so I knew I could somehow work it out, but it just never felt feasible. On a personal level, I give a percentage of my income away so you would think I would have learned that concept, but I just didn’t know what approach to take.

Witnessing that our tiny company had the support from our community to contribute $12,000 with our coloring book gave us the encouragement to keep on going. Yes, as a company we could have used every penny coming our way during such an uncertain time, but we knew that we needed to give and we were very much buoyed up by the support we were receiving to make it happen. There are so many people needing our help and we feel the responsibility to pitch in and give.Art for Coronavirus

Our Print Shop Artists who are giving

We were pumped when some of our Print Shop artists also wanted to find ways to contribute in their own way. Erin Jang, a NYC based designer, created this beautiful print and donates the profits from those sales to NYC based non-profits like the NY Food Bank. We are happy to use our platform and shop in order to make that happen and ended up matching those donations.

Amanda Jane Jones continues to contribute the profits from her Yum, Yummy, Yuck collection to charities. Additionally, she creates beautiful products on her own channels and contributes the profits to charities that she is passionate about.

The organizations we give to

During the holidays we teamed up with Love for our Elders, a non-profit focused on alleviating loneliness for the elderly. We committed to give a portion of our profits from our sales of Picture Hope for that month and were able to give $1440. According to Jacob Cramer, its founder and executive director, “This donation will help us so much as we continue to serve seniors and fight social isolation throughout this pandemic and beyond.”

Build a Nest

We were also able to contribute to Nest, a non-profit that 1) increases the supply and demand of the hand-craft industry 2) improves conditions for the women in these industries 3) preserves the culture and techniques of these hand-crafts. As a company who encourages people to make with their hands and celebrate the maker, this one lies near and dear to our hearts. Again, we were able to give $1440.

Neighborhood Art Center

Lastly, we got to hand out another check for $1440 from the sales of our kids’ art course, Great Artists! to an organization that hits close to home, literally. The Neighborhood Art Center is a local place where kids and parents can create, appreciate, and experience art. Their founder, Tallis Feltis said,

“Because of their generous donation we were able to make and hand out free Martin Luther King Day kits to our community, even though we couldn’t have a party this year we are so grateful they made it possible for children and their families to celebrate this important holiday together. We were also able to use their donation to offer another set of very low cost art classes for kids on Fridays, and we have loved being able to teach kids about so many amazing artists every week. @houselarsbuilt made a huge impact on the programming we were able to provide to the community and we are so grateful, thank you so much!!”

As you might imagine, I was in a puddle of tears upon learning about this news. It’s one thing to give money blindly and it’s another thing to hear how it’s directly affecting their organization. Jasper is now old enough to participate and we can’t wait to get more involved on a personal level.

Loveland Foundation

As a team, we’ve come to see the tremendous results from giving, which is why we are trying to incorporate it more into our work and flow. For example, for Martin Luther King Day we released a print that reads “Only in the darkness can you see the stars” and all the profits go to the Loveland Foundation, a charity that gives to people of color, particularly Black women and girls.

How We’re Helping Texas

Additionally, with the power outages and lack of water, food, and proper shelter in Texas, we are putting our Picture Hope Coloring Book donations to Kid’s Meals Houston. This non-profit delivers a meal to a family of a child for every $2 donated. Please consider making a donation for this very current need.

Black History Month

And now, lastly, for the rest of the month of February, Black History Month, we are providing our Alma Thomas class from our Great Artists! course at $10 (regularly $25) and donating the profits to The Ellington Fund. Our hope is to make this class accessible to more people because Alma Thomas should be a household name!
The Duke Ellington School in Washington, DC, where Alma Thomas lived for the majority of her life, was a couple of blocks away from my graduate school, Corcoran College of Art and Design. I passed it every day on my walk to school in Georgetown and always heard tremendous things about the talented students. The aim of this fund is to “support, promote, and empower the next generation of emerging artists, global citizens, and critical scholars by investing in their futures today.” This is truly something we can get behind.

How we’re giving going forward

This past year we discovered the ways in which we can serve and we are committed more than ever to continue. How? We plan on continuing to promote our Picture Hope Coloring Book as COVID continues to affect us. Additionally, because we have an in-house design team, we can continue to create products with specific charities in mind. We also have a new course coming out later this year and much like Great Artists! we plan on dedicating profits to it. Additionally, we can’t wait to become more hands on as COVID lets up and we have the ability go serve in person as a a team and individuals.
Some claim that giving is mainly to make you feel good, and while yes, it feels amazing to give, there’s just so much need right now that it feels impossible not to do it. I’m proud of my team who has been so on board to making this happen and constantly thinking about more ways to give back. And a huge applause for our accountant, Kerry, who has the tricky task of calculating a lot of numbers!
THANK YOU for being on board. We can do all of this because of you. It takes a community of supportive people to create a successful business AND support others on their way. We value you. Now, let’s keep on moving!
Quick links:

Becoming: Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

I’m so glad that I found Sarah Cambio’s business, Flower Lane! Her work is so high-quality, beautiful, intentional, happy… I’m not about to run out of adjectives describing how much I love what she does. I loved getting to know her a bit better, and I hope you do too!

Sarah Cambio is the founder of Flower Lane; a small shop that handmakes embroidered linen crowns. Inspired by all things whimsical and nostalgic, Flower Lane delivers keepsakes that can be cherished forever. Sarah immigrated from Germany to the US when she was 11 years old. Not knowing how to speak English, she spent that summer learning before jumping into school. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. 

A light grey linen kids birthday crown with the phrase "May you find a muddy puddle to splash in wherever you go."

Becoming Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I think I see myself as a hybrid between a designer and maker, but slowly learning how to be a business person. I love making things with my hands but also really enjoy the business side. There is so much to learn and I love that! 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Germany and immigrated to the US when I was 11 years old. I grew up in what many here know as a Waldorf type setting and I think that has always inspired me. When I think of Waldorf I think of whimsy things, traditions, and seeing the beauty of childhood. 

Handmade linen kids birthday crowns in pink, yellow, mint, orange, and blue.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

So many things! I never had my heart set on just one thing and thought it would be so cool to be everything from an FBI Agent, a teacher, or social worker. 

What sparked your interest in making kids birthday crowns? 

I was inspired by crowns made from felt and wanted something similar for our daughter’s 3rd birthday. I taught myself how to sew and added my own twist; using linen, adjustable ties, wooly pom poms, and embroidering the child’s name. 

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

I graduated from High School with a full scholarship, attended college for 2 semesters, dropped out, and a decade later completed my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. I volunteered as an EMT for about 2 years and quit because Flower Lane was taking off–a complete 180 from what I pursued my education in.

A grey linen kids birthday crown with rainbow pom poms and the name "tillie" embroidered on it. It's on a pink background.

What inspired you to start a business?

I’ve always dreamed about having my own business and felt so inspired by those around me who were running theirs successfully. It wasn’t until we got pregnant with our 4th that I decided that this is it! 

A few months prior I taught myself how to sew with a $20 Facebook Marketplace sewing machine. It took me forever to figure out how to sew in a straight line and a circle was basically impossible! I purchased patterns and jumped right in and learned how to sew clothes while teaching myself how to use my machine at the same time.

A handmade rabbit doll on top of pink kid's clothes.
Sarah made this rabbit and these kid’s clothes when she was first learning to sew.

Once I understood patterns, sewed straight lines, and learned about fabric, I began making stroller clips because that’s what I wanted for my baby. A cute little toy that clipped onto the canopy of the stroller. 

During this time we lost our baby. I felt alone and depressed. There was a lot of grieving. I went back to sewing clothes as a way to work through my emotions.

linen clothes in neutral colors against a wooden backdrop 

In September of 2020 I opened my Etsy store with the stroller clips I worked so hard on. They were a complete failure. I took a month long break and almost quit but something was telling me to keep going. 

A waldorf-inspired handsewn doll wearing a pink linen dress. The doll has brown braids, pink cheeks, simple features, and is on a beige background.
One of Sarah’s first projects

This is when I shared my birthday crowns. Something I was holding in my back pocket until that coming January – our daughter’s 3rd birthday. They sold out the same day I posted them! 

I continued sharing, updating, and building a small Instagram community the rest of 2020. This was also the same time my best friend mailed me her embroidery machine and I started customizing crowns with the child’s name. 

Handmade Flower Lane birthday crowns

This business has been such an emotional journey for me and I’m so grateful for all the good that has come from Flower Lane. 

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I’m really proud of how much my husband and I have learned in such a short period of time. We both come from non business backgrounds and it’s not a walk in the park. We have to be a team and work together to run Flower Lane every day while also juggling a busy family. 

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

If only there were a few more hours in each day! The one thing all of my ideas have in common is that they are inspired by childhood and family traditions. I want to make something that can be used again and again and brings back a feeling of nostalgia. 

Two kids wearing linen birthday crowns and playing. A girl is wearing a pink dress and white crown, and a boy is wearing a blue sweater, yellow shorts, and a grey crown. They're in a light-filled room.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

This question had me a little stumped because I couldn’t think of any artists, specifically. I look up to people in my life not for being an artist but for the person they are. I’m inspired by people who create and live a purposeful life. 

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I love getting lost in a good fiction book, enjoy watching The Walking Dead, and listening to 80’s rock. 

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

I have missed out on  many opportunities and wasted so much time because I never believed in myself. Either I wasn’t qualified or my work wasn’t good enough.  Stop seeking permission from others to do what you feel you are called to do. Be confident in yourself and don’t wait. The right time to start is now!

Two hands tying a bow on the ties at the back of a linen kids birthday crown. There are a few other crowns along the top of the image, and the background is blue.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

It’s so important to surround yourself with things that inspire you. I have a hard time working when there’s chaos. I like for things to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Flower Lane has taken over a large portion of our lower level and we had to really think about how to make the most use of our space. 

Sarah Cambio's workspace. There's a big wooden island, open wooden shelves filled with materials, and a fiddle leaf fig. Sarah's daughter is wearing pink and sitting by the shelves at a computer.
Sarah’s daughter sitting in her workspace

What is a typical day like for you? 

My day always starts with a cup of coffee, breakfast for our youngest, and checking emails. This is also when I check on our chickens; Emily, Annie, and Betsy!

Our youngest goes to daycare a couple of times a week and those are very busy work days for me. On the days she is home, she plays in her play area in my office. Lots of breaks get taken on those days. 

Our oldest two are helpful and my husband puts in a lot of hours during his off time. It’s not the most ideal schedule but it actually works for us! 

We have lunch around noon and before we know it it’s time to take our older two kids to their activities. One plays hockey and the other does MMA. We’re busy around here! 

During the summer months, dinners and bedtimes are late. Once our youngest is in bed my husband and I work a little more and then watch a show or two before bed. 

Every day is a little different here! 

two flower lane embroidered birthday crowns on a blue background

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

How to sew! It’s such a useful skill to have in your toolbox. Our oldest daughter learned how to sew at the same time I did and I love that. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

We have so many resources these days to get started on a new hobby and skill. Watch YouTube, practice, and learn from others in the field you’re interested in. Stay inspired and surround yourself with what you want to learn.

flower lane crowns in orange, yellow, pink, blue, and light blue on a yellow and pink background.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

Finding a rhythm between family and work. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 12 years and this is new to all of us. Learning to prioritize and understanding that I can’t do it all myself is something I’m working on.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

I’m a big believer in not acquiring debt and knowing your numbers. Focus on one thing at a time and use that profit for growth. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

I would love to write a book someday, to be an author! I also have this random idea of owning an ice cream truck. Like a really cool one that serves waffle cones and scoops of the best ice cream. I miss the ice cream shops in Germany and I feel like we need that here! 

Jasper's yellow Flower Lane crown in a field of daisies.

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

Business wise I have big dreams for Flower Lane and one of those includes moving the business out of our home. We already work with talented individuals in our local community to create these sweet crowns and I would love to see us all together in one space someday. I would also love for my husband to join me full time.

Personally, I dream of finding our forever home. A place where we can gather with our children and grandchildren someday, make memories, and hang stockings from the mantle. It’s such a simple goal but I think that’s ultimately what drives me and keeps me inspired. 

Jasper sits in a field of daisies wearing a yellow Flower Lane crown and a striped yellow shirt.

More Inspiration

Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram @shopflowerlane and look at her website here! You can buy our Lars x Flower Lane crowns on our shop here.

If you want to read about more inspiring creators, business women, and designers, you can look for more of our becoming essays here!

Our new collection of cell phone cases! (and discount code)

New cell phone cases from The House That Lars Built

I was gifted a yellow cell phone case a year or so ago from Casetify and and it is seriously the best. Super protective, plus a fun color. I’m unintentionally very harsh with my case and it protects it so well. (I paired it with this adorable socket from our shop and it’s extra cute.)

Bright and colorful retro vibes

I loved Casetify’s cell phone case quality so much so I was stoked to partner up with them with our first collection. I wanted to do some designs that are super current but also super Lars so lots of color of course combined with the ever trending checkerboard (we’re keeping it around as long as we can!), flowers in fun shapes, colorblock, waves, marbling and more!

Here are some of my favorite cell phone cases:

You might have guessed that the colorblock flowers cell phone case is my absolute favorite. It has that quilt thing going on that you know I’m in love with right now. But really, I might need to have a case of the day because they are all that cute.

I also love the “Call Me” in chunky letters and abstract shapes above. It’s subtle yet serves a purpose 😉

Some of the cases are transparent so that the color of your phone can shine through. Mine happens to be yellow so I love the idea of that peeking through on this one below:

Customizing your phone case

Casetify allows you to customize your cell phone case in dozens of ways. You can change the border color, the transparent color, the type of case you want, and so many other details that make it so good.

There are so many more AND AND even apple watch bands and AirPod cases. I can’t wait for you to take a look and let me know what you think.

Casetify Discount code

Casetify is giving Lars readers 15% off their order with promo code THLB15 at checkout.

If you get one of our cell phone cases, tag us with #Larsforcasetify. Would love to see them! 

If you like this post, you might also like our laptop covers post! 

Why I feel called to craft: Part 2

Why I feel called to craft

The stories my mom would tell me about my grandparents and great grandparents, etc, shaped my narrative and formed my identity. My great-grandmother, Marilla Zatelle, painted porcelain, sewed her own clothes, and was truly a force of nature–it probably helped that she was 6′ tall. I remember visiting her in the hospital before she passed away at age 97 and knowing that I was Danish stock like she was.

From left to right: Dorothy, me, Carl, Zatelle, my mom Kim

Her daughter, Dorothy, my grandmother, even though she has passed on continues to be my artistic muse and great human being icon. She was pretty much an angel on earth with a wicked sewing room in Los Angeles, California. I dedicated my book, Craft the Rainbow, to her and even wrote an entire article about her and Carl, my grandfather, in volume 3 of Kinfolk Magazine about their wellness routine. They are legendary for their subdued natures, gentle kindness, endless generosity, and health regimen (no sugar! though I remember Grape Nuts in all natural apple juice as a real treat).

Dorothy at her piano. This was definitely in the 90s.

This is Dorothy and my sister, Caitlin. 

Going back to the beginning

But let’s get back to that sewing room. Dorothy and Carl built their house in 1951 in Bel-Air. That’s Bel-Air before Fresh Prince, so the houses weren’t Kardashian proportioned or bedazzled. Dorothy was infamous for protecting her newly done hair with a grocery bag when it rained and other such resourceful tricks that come when you’re a product of the Depression. She taught me to sew and whenever we’d come up to visit from Orange County, sometimes for days at a time, I’d churn out all sorts of doll clothes for her Shirley Temple dolls. For one Christmas I sewed her a green drawstring bag with lace tied at the ends and filled it with all sorts of nuts…because that’s what I could get my hands on. She said she loved it, but I still cringe at the thought of nuts from who knows where.

Her sewing room consisted of fabrics that she had collected from all around the world piled in a beautiful yet simple armoire. I remember feeling in awe of her collection. And her ribbons! Gah! And buttons?! They were extraordinary. Thinking about her sewing room now, I can see how it’s MUCH easier to make thing when you have a designated place to create. I’m working on that concept for my own house.

Dorothy sitting on the first platform.

My mother

Now, let’s talk about Dorothy’s daughter, my mom, Kim. She and her two sisters and brother grew up in LA, but the way she describes it seems much more of a quaint village than a major city that happened to make movie magic. For example, Dorothy played the violin for Hollywood music scores, my aunt and uncle were in TV shows and films, and their friends were in this show and that. My mom attended the Academy Awards with a friend. You know, stories like that that I only find out as an adult.

But their real talent was dancing. My mom and her sisters all left home when they were 16 to go dance at the School for American Ballet and the subsequently, in the New York City Ballet. The long story short is that my mom got injured after about a year and moved back to LA where she started a modeling. She says she walked into Seventeen Magazine and walked out on the cover of the January 1969 issue. Again, quaint neighborhood vibe? I don’t know. It’s hard for us to understand that mentality now that everyone and literally their dog aspires for fame.

Fast forward to her career in interior design, calligraphy, music and more to when she becomes a mother of four in five years. I’ve mentioned it before, but this magnet on our fridge growing up really does describe my mom the best: “A creative mess is better than tidy idleness”. And thus, we grew up in constant messes. My mom let us try all the things and would encourage us to think differently. How is everyone else doing something? Then do something else.

My childhood

Our school reports were pretty epic. There wasn’t a three ring binder in sight. We figured out clever ways of binding the books according to what the subject was. For example, for my report on Claude Monet (another artistic hero to this day), I made a cover out of cardboard and cut it out to make it look like a painter’s palette and secured it together with a paintbrush. I mean, it did get to the point where I was jealous of those three ring binders, but I see the magic of it all now.

When I was in kindergarten or first grade, Mom opened a beautiful shop called En Provence on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar and it was one of my first experiences off all encompassing magic. A true wonderland. Like old houses in Provence, she plastered straw into the walls and hand painted everything! It was a gift and furnishings shop and I think it must have been the most well-curated experience. The furniture was made and painted by my uncle, Dean Bradshaw. You can see a glimpse of it in the picture above of my grandmother. That bed was created by him as well as the paintings. But life became a bit much with four kids and so she closed up shop after 4 years.

My first Craft Club

When I was about 10 or 11 and I started a club called Crafts for Holidays. I’m not so much proud of the name, but what can you do. The club was modeled after my mom’s church group where they would get together monthly and make or do something. So, for Halloween we made can tin pumpkins. We sponged on paint in a variety of oranges and painted on faces. Then for Thanksgiving we appliquéd  turkeys onto corduroy pillows. For Christmas we turned a string of pinecones into reindeer complete with a red pom for Rudolph. I don’t know if my friends were into crafting, well I know they weren’t because the club didn’t last too much longer.

ANYWHO, I tell all this because it makes more sense how I arrived at what I do now knowing who I come from. I mean, I wasn’t aching to start a craft-based business at first. In fact, I never would have entered my brain. I was much more involved in music (I played the cello growing up) and tennis (I was on my high school tennis team) than I was in the arts. I wouldn’t even say that I did it as a hobby at that point because I was really into getting good grades. But because my childhood foundation was laid out in making, just like that industrious lot who came before me, I can see NOW how it happened.

This is my grandfather Harvey Sessions, who I didn’t mention at all here, but the photo is so good I had to include it. 

And because of that I’m very interested in continuing my grandmother’s legacy and carrying out the mission that I’ve identified along the way. I’m compelled to do it and I find a great need to do so, especially since we are more addicted to screens than ever. There is power in handmaking. It connects us to our bodies and souls and for me, my family.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week! 

16 Podcasts for Curious and Creative People

Career/Finance/Business Podcasts for Creatives

How I Built This (business): Guy Raz of NPR chats with “innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists” about how they got to where they are, and trust me, where they are is pretty impressive. The most recent episodes feature Christina Tosi (founder of the incredibly popular Milk Bar bakery), Cotopaxi founder Davis Smith, Michelin-star chef José Andrés, and more. If you are just curious, looking to start your own thing, or looking to put some pep into a project of yours, take a listen!

Creative Pep Talk (creative): These guys talk about how to build a creative career, and they cover issues such as: tapping into your creativity when it feels dried up, creating a brand that won’t make you want to roll your eyes, Instagram tips, and more. After that, you’ll feel ready to take on whatever challenges working from home throws you way.

podcasts for creatives Creative Pep Talk

The Goop Podcast: How to manage money through a crisis (episode). You know Gwyneth Paltrow – she needs no introduction. Goop’s podcast on personal finance tips is incredibly relevant, especially right now. The full team at Lars listened to this episode a little while ago, so it comes with an additional stamp of approval!

Proof to Product: If you are a creative type in a creative industry trying to figure out how to make the business side more functional and less nightmarish, take tips from Proof to Product! The hosts are small business owners and have first hand experience grappling with the challenges no one tells you about. 

Star-studded podcasts to inspire you

Off Camera with Sam Jones: interviews with interesting people, such as, hit-comedian Jenny Slate (you might know her as Mona Lisa in Parks and Rec), pulitzer-prize winner Tracy Letts (writer for Ladybird, Ford vs Ferrari), Broadway-phenom Josh Gad (Olaf of Frozen), Hollywood-hero Jeff Bridges, funny-man Jake Johnson (Nick from New Girl) and more. I don’t feel like I need to sell this one – just looking at the list of interviewees makes me want to tune in!

Awards Chatter: is alllll about Hollywood. Listen to interviews with big big names like Zoey Deutch, Mark Cuban, and Jewel.

UnStyled: by Refinery29 is such a fantastic listen. Fashion-fiends, look no further. Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder Christene Barberich interviews icons like Jane Fonda and Molly Ringwald and Priyanka Chopra about everything from finding a personal style, to feminism in a changing world. Dive in!

Podcasts about creativity

Creative Processing with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt: You know him, you love him. In fact, we love him so much he become one of our embroidered Celebrity Crush pillows last Valentine’s Day. Ha! Yes, I have had a crush on good ol’ Joe since I saw 10 Things I Hate About You decades ago. However, I promise, there is more to this podcast than a fantastically exciting, witty, and hunky host. Joseph gets down to business with the best creative professionals as they discuss everything from creativity, attention, to folk music.

A Beautiful Mess: is my podcasting dream come true. Crafts, design, DIY, style tips, recipes – they’ve got it all! Adorable sisters Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson have some great repartee that makes me miss my sister! Their most recent episode is all about how to #WFH (work from home), which these girls have been doing for years now with huge success.

Clever: Ahhhh. You know how good design makes you feel relaxed, engaged, and elevated all at the same time? Amy and Jaime at Clever talk about design in a way that makes you feel that same way. Both ladies work in design and are pros in their own right. They chat with other industry greats and together, excite all the most curious parts of creative minds! They have even interviewed one of our Lars Print Shop artists – Lisa Congdon! (Episode 108) 

Podcasts for creatives Lisa Congdon Clever podcast

The Design Files: is a creative podcast channel from Australia, and they cover everything from textile design to contemporary architecture to reality TV interior design. If you feel intimidated by the Design Big Leagues, The Design Files is a great and comfortable place to join the conversation! You can hear them interview another one of our Print Shop artists – Beci Orpin, in this episode

More podcasts for right-brained people

Revisionist History: Confession – I love Malcolm Gladwell, NYT best-selling author and all around cool person. In his podcast, Gladwell covers topics you think you know about, like french fries, the Vietnam War, why country music makes you cry, stuff like that. However random the topics, his work is presented in startlingly vivid, honest, and clever tones.

99% Invisible: consider this podcast your virtual newsletter about, well, everything. Their schtick is that most people know next to nothing about everyday things, like the origin of those inflatable flappy guys at car lots, why concrete has a certain smell after rain, homelessness during a pandemic, and more. Their categorization makes finding something you’ll like easy.

Ologies: You might know the host Allie Ward from the Netflix show 100 Humans. She does deep research and interviews real experts, then arranges her findings in a really funny way. On a road trip I listened to her talk about quantum physics for an hour and I actually: 1) stayed awake 2) laughed till I cried, and 3) understood the material. I’m just as shocked as you are. She covers everything from the study (ology) of bread baking to marriage to scat to (you get the idea).

Stuff You Should Know: Hosts Josh and Chuck are a real pair of lads! They break down topics as big as the chaos theory and expand your knowledge of little things too. (They made an episode on zippers that is actually entertaining – who’d have thought? Zippers).

Jen Gotch is OK..Sometimes: in the “about” section on this podcast, Jen says part of her goal here is to help people “feel less alone.” If you’re in need of a new virtual-friend, check her out. Jen is the founder of Ban.do, a brand we love so much! Her book The Upside of Being Down is a prefect read for Mental Health Awareness Month. Above all, from her awesome podcast you can learn about developing emotional intelligence. In addition, you’ll get other good book recommendations, and hear some great business tips, too.

Podcasts for creatives Jen Gotch is OK sometimes

I hope that you have oodles of fun listening – I have! Afterwards, for even more podcast ideas you can find our original post here. In addition, if you love any other podcasts we should add to our list, comment them below!