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!

The House That Lars Bought: Interview with Paul and Brittany

Working with Meta

Meta and I met when I first moved here almost 8 years ago. We were basically wearing the same type of dress and crown braids and it was like looking at a mirror. Over the years, we’ve bonded over our shared love of design. Somehow our styles are super similar. But whereas I focus on Lars with all the crafts and such (even though I studied and practiced interior design in the past), she is OBSESSED with interiors and spends every waking hour thinking about it. I’ve never seen anyone so passionate about it.

Here we are in the Bahamas where we were teaching some styling classes on a cruise ship. Ha! Just typing that makes me LOLZ.

Why are we working with a designer?

This is precisely why we’re working with her. She knows the current designers, processes, local artisans and contractors, trends, classics, lingo, vocabulary, history. It really is the perfect marriage.

Before we get started designing, like her other clients, she sent us her questionnaire and here’s how it went:

I can’t wait to share more with you this week. We’ve already got our eyes on the first room. Stay tuned!

You can learn more about Meta Coleman:

@MetaColeman_ on Instagram
Meta Coleman Portfolio

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Our Favorite Women-Owned Businesses

Today we’re paying special attention to some of our very favorite women-owned businesses, from fashion to home goods and more. Explore the list below and click any of the photos to discover ways to support these boss babes! I know this is far from being an extensive list, but here are just a few.

This National holiday – American Business Women Day fell on an extra special time as we have spent this week remembering the wisdom, boldness, and amazing example of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was a college intern at The National Museum of Women in the Arts when I attended a lecture with the indomitable RBG and fell in love with many things about her. Her work affected women in so many ways and it is an honor to learn from her life.

Women Owned Brands: Fashion

Doen

Shop Doen was founded by two sisters who saw a need for more women-owned businesses. Their why: “Study after study has shown that when women-identifying individuals have positions of power and leadership in companies, there is more focus on equality policies and practices…” The ethereal dresses, flowy blouses, and billowy-sleeved sweaters at Doen have a cult following. These timeless pieces are heirloom-quality and oh so beautifulsee for yourself!

Nicole Saldana 

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Not to be dramatic or anything, but I would die for these shoes. Made by hand in Portugal, this shoe brand has only grown in popularity since Rihanna was spotted wearing them at New York Fashion Week in 2017.

Nikki Chasin

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Whenever I discover a brand like Nikki Chasin, I can almost hear my wallet saying “Noooo!” Sorry. Can’t help it. Can you even handle these prints though? These clothes have a mid-century modern feel I can’t stay away from.

KkCo

Take a quick scroll-stroll through KkCo Studio’s website and you’ll get a major 90s vibe. Don’t forget your mask! KkCo’s collection includes this darling seersucker number that will add a cheerful pop of yellow to any dreary day this winter. You can also check out our other favorite face masks here

Shop Peche

The women-owned business Shop Pêche is based in Brooklyn, NY. The word “pêche” translates to peach, and wouldn’t you know it, but in French, “peach” is a feminine noun. The beautiful staples in their collection can round out any wardrobe. Would you look at that vest? I’m swooning. 

Roam

Roam’s founder, Kay Sides, created her brand when she recognized a need for cool and comfortable shoes that were versatile enough for active lifestyles and everything in between. She says, “I wanted a far reachsomething I could rock in NY, LA, Hawaii, Tokyo, Africa, Paris….around the world…socks in the winter, with sweats or a dress…couldn’t find one for years…so decided to create them!” As the queen of comfort disguised as fashion, I am in full support of this. 

Susan Alexandra

I have to admit, when I first saw these bags, I gasped out loud! They’ve got that trendy 70s look, and honestly who wouldn’t want to carry one of these around? 

 

Tamara Malas

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Tamara Malas is a beautiful clothing brand founded by and for plus size women. This brand strives to offer high-quality, unique pieces ethically made that “you won’t find at any other plus size label.”

I love what owner and founder Tamara says about self-love: “One morning I asked myself, “What if I were to love myself exactly the way that I am today?” No longer allowing cultural conditioning to dictate the standards of beauty in my life, I poured that energy into creating something which manifested itself in my brand, TAMARA MALAS. I create from a place of inspiration and design with plus size bodies (including my own) in mind.”

Our Second Nature

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The colorful abstract prints reminiscent of terrazzo tile make this an “instant add to cart” brand for me. In fact it was so hard to choose just 3 dresses to feature, so run don’t walk and check them out now!

Oh, and they have kids clothes, too, so you can live out all your matching dreams! 

Truss

These Oaxacan-made handbags showcase their origin city’s amazing color scheme. Tote  your Oaxacan chocolate as you hunt for colorful walls!

Women Owned Brands: Home Decor

All of the artists featured in our Print Shop are amazing women! I love being able to help spread the work of women I know and love personally, or have gotten to know through their work! Find a piece to hang in your home here.

Heather Taylor Home

Nothing we love more than a women-owned business collab! These gorgeous, high-quality tablecloths and napkins would elevate any Thanksgiving table from good to great.

Jungalow

The Bohemian brand Jungalow, founded by Justina Blakeney, covers all your decor needs, from the most beautiful pillows to woven baskets, plant holders, and more. Every item is dripping with color and artistic thought. The Jungalow even features limited edition art prints from women artists around the world! I’ve been a big fan of Justina for years and even interviewed her here! Her work has also been featured on Lars here and here.

Otherland

I’ll put it this way—Otherland candles are otherworldly. They sell five core scents, plus a rotating Limited Edition collection when you want to try something new. Otherland’s founder, Abigail Cook Stone, used to be an art buyer for Ralph Lauren, and she used her artistic background to create heavenly candles.

The Yo! Store

One look at the Yo! Store website, and you’ll fall in love. Based out of Portland, OR, the Yo! Store is a women and children brand offering a smorgasbord of both vintage and contemporary pieces, including clothing, beauty products, and art.

Mimi Ceramics

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Mimi Ceramics hand-makes their amazing mugs, cups, and planters to order. The dreamy technicolor designs are so popular, you have to sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss a new drop!

Women Owned Brands: Craft Supplies

Recently, almost all of our energy has been directed towards releasing our Great Artists! kids course. This course was created to be a resource for parents who have suddenly found themselves trying to work from home, run at home school, and/or a million other things – many of whom are women! Being able to provide resources to help working women in this way is a passion of our entire team.

The women-owned businesses below offer quality craft and art supplies that can make your creative projects even better!

Natural Earth Paint

Need a good boredom-buster? Who am I kidding, right now if you’re not bored you’re crazy busy…there is no in-between. For those of you homebound and needing an activity to do with the kids, I love these Natural Earth Paint kits. They even sell natural face paints—perfect for a certain upcoming holiday…

Ann Williams

The Ann Williams Group brand was founded by a mom, and the name actually comes from her two kids (Amelia Ann and Owen William)! It started with award-winning ideas like the Loopdeloo and Craft-tastic, and the rest is history. For every kids item you buy from Ann Williams, they donate one to The Toy Bank, which gives toys to children in need.

Women Owned Brands: Kids 

Masionette

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Founded by two Vogue veterans, the children’s brand Masionette is filled with endless dreamy options for clothes, toys, and kid’s room decor. We reference them often in our roundups of favorite places to buy kid’s clothing, rainbow toys, and more. And you better believe I’ll be shopping there for boy #2!

Doddle & Co.

One of my favorite women-owned businesses is Doodle & Co. Doddle & Co makes cute and innovative pacifiers and teethers for your little ones. The Pop® pacifier pops into a protective shell when your baby drops it on the floor. No more frantically washing it off and wondering how many germs are still lingering on it! 

Women Owned Brands: Beauty

Olen

Olen Skincare makes high-quality, safe skincare products for you and your children. The kids sunblock and tinted sunscreen for mom are my personal faves.

EighteenB 

Remember EighteenB? This woman-founded skincare brand has been featured on the blog before. I adore their science-based skincare products, created by founder Lindsay Wray (a scientist with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering!) EighteenB is one of our all-time favorite beauty brands, and it has been a joy to work with them!

Other ways to support women

Take the time today to celebrate and support women by shopping from one of these women-owned businesses, including our own! Check out our Women Who Work Series by Libby VanderPloeg in the House That Lars Built Print Shop! In addition, you can also check out our series of interviews with working women – here.

With Halloween coming up, consider dressing up in one of our influential woman costumes! I even dressed up as RBG one year, and maybe I need to bring that costume back this October.

Please share any women-owned businesses you love to support below! We would love to continue to add to our list. Happy American Business Women Day!

Becoming Interview: Stacey Fraser from Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser of Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser is the founder and creative director of Pink Chicken and worked in the fashion industry for 15 years before taking a break to be with her kids. In the meantime, she started sewing the most adorable clothes for her girls and herself, and before long, people were asking her where she got them. Thus, Pink Chicken was born! 

Psst…we dare you to look at the amazing textiles on their website without wanting to buy them all!

Here’s Stacey:

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, etc.?

I think mostly a designer.  That is how I started Pink Chicken, my love for designing textiles and kids clothes… the business side I have grown along the way.

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

Well, both of my grandmothers were in the fashion business.  Mimmers was a wedding dress designer, but growing up I would go to her sewing cabin in NC and help her with anything she was working on.  And Mimi, had a women’s clothing store in OH.  I would spend a few weeks there every summer.  I loved to be in the store, sit in on buying appointments in the back and see the customers!

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur? Did you go to business school?

I started my career working for big corporations in designRalph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap… it was the best training ground for me. In all of those places, I learned the business side of fashion and how to build a brand.

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

All of the women in my lifemy grandmothers, my mom and my sisters.

What sets Pink Chicken apart from other brands?

We like to think of ourselves as a joyful brand!  Our clothes are no-fuss, always stylish and our dresses put a pep in your step.  We design all of our own fabrics and/or work with artists… so we have original patterns in joyful colors. We care so much about what we do here and I think our community can feel it.  We also pride ourselves in great quality so the dresses can start as a dress, end up as a tunic, and get passed down to little sis.

Was starting your own business always your ultimate plan?

No, not at all. I was taking a year off of work after my second daughter was born and started making dresses for them during their nap times. People used to stop me on the street and ask where they were from. I thought then maybe I was onto something.

What does your daily routine look like?

Well, that has definitely shifted because of Covid. When I open my eyes in the morning, the very first thing I think about is my iced coffee.  Once I’ve downed that, I make breakfast for my daughter and husband.  Not having to rush to the office every day does have it’s silver linings.  We have started going back one day a week to collaborate on our fabrics and designs in person.  It has been so great to get back.  And for dinner lately, we have been going out most nights to support our neighborhood restaurants. In NYC right now all restaurants have outdoor dining permits and it’s been really great. 

What is inspiring you lately?

So much really. My girls, their resiliency during this crazy time.  My oldest daughter was a senior when Covid hit… she missed a lot, including graduation.  Of course, she was disappointed but had a great attitude about it… also my team! Our little Pink Chicken team is like a family. I am so proud at how everyone has transitioned to working from home and still has the dedication and passion to their work every day.  I’m grateful for both.

What is on the horizon for you and Pink Chicken in the remainder of 2020?

We have our Holiday Collection that launches mid October!  We are so excited about it. The Holiday dresses have become a flock favorite!  We LOVE seeing holiday pics of families in our dresses.  Ultimately, the very best part of what we do!  And we are bringing our favorite gifts that we have in store online to our website for a killer Holiday gift guide!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business?

It has to come from the heart, from your passion.  That will get you through the ups and downs.  I think being your authentic self gives you the ability to connect with people in a meaningful way and that goes for your brand too.  And then also—think about what are you doing that is different from what is already in the market?  What is your point of difference?  It could be your product, your giving back mission, how you run your company and the people you employ.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Yes. I always dreamt of living in NYC, being a clothing designer and having a family. I am a hard worker and hustle every day, but I am living the life I always dreamed of and am so grateful. 

Thank you, Stacey!

You can find Stacey and Pink Chicken here:

Pink Chicken website
Pink Chicken on Instagram

Look out for a giveaway with Pink Chicken later this week on our Instagram!

A Life Well Lived

A Life Well Lived

Clearly I’m not Matt Damon nor am I on any track to becoming a movie star, but saying yes has not been on my agenda for quite some time. To be fair, how could it? The last year and a half has brought out a lot of no’s. No to public outings, no to gatherings, no to civil discourse. And just when we thought we could start saying yes we were stuck with COVID in July and then the air quality was so bad in Utah that we couldn’t even go outside. Certainly not on the path to a life well lived.

living joie de vivre
Perhaps my team has noticed the shift because I recently took them on two spontaneous field trips. Here we visited the new Harmony store here in Provo, which is a real gem.

In other words–I’ve been feeling STUCK! Physically, emotionally, mentally…all the ways. You too? It doesn’t feel good. Doesn’t feel like living.

Feeling stuck as a new mother

Now, I’m also a new mom to a 9 month old. Any one with a new baby might know the feeling of being stuck. Sometimes you’re physically stuck at home nursing on a schedule or waiting on naps or just hanging out waiting on their every move. It’s constant and exhausting. It’s also emotionally draining and your hormones are playing a game of kickball inside your body. Well, sometimes it’s also a game of pool or kickboxing. Definitely some type of martial arts.

Getting outside your comfort zone to experience a life well lived

So, when I heard Matt Damon talk about saying yes I thought, THAT’S IT! THAT is a life well lived! I need to say yes more because life is too short to say no! And when even did I get trapped in my comfort zone?! And when did my life start taking the shape of a cross stitched life motto?!

As I’m typing this out, I’m realizing that I was actually really good at getting outside my comfort zone and experiencing a life well lived in my 20s and early 30s. And because of it I’ve had some really awesome opportunities…and some more frightening moments. But all experiences that made me grow.

a life well lived
The other was going up to Salt Lake to see one of our own, Gwen’s art show.

For fear of waxing nostalgic I’ll stop there and just say, it’s time to get outside of that comfort zone again. Somehow. Ha! I don’t know how that’s going to happen quite yet because we’re still in a pandemic and I still have a baby, but I am willing and more focused on living more intentionally.

Joie de Vivre means more than just a life well lived

The term joie de vivre keeps on coming back to me–I think about it all the time. I think it’s because I had a friend who told me a story of how her mom once gave a lecture to one of her siblings for not displaying enough of it. Can you imagine?! Joie de vivre! An “exuberance for life”, an “exultation of spirit”! There are few words or phrases that capture the human spirit more than joie de vivre and who wouldn’t want to live life to the fullest?! That is the essence of a life well lived!

Ideas on living a life well lived

Basically what I’m saying is that I want to feel joie de vivre EVEN THOUGH I can’t just drop everything and travel the world or whatever it is that I haven’t yet dreamed up yet. Perhaps a life well lived is experienced in the little things right now? Maybe making a little extra effort to go to a fantastic spot for a walk or hike. Perhaps it’s setting one responsibility aside to focus a bit on something that brings joy. I don’t know! Clearly I’ve got some brainstorming to do or maybe you have ideas for me? Would love to hear them!

Tell me about your life well lived. Are you living it now? If so, I want your tips. If not, what’s the road block? I bet I could join you 😉

Becoming: Interviewing Romy-Krystal Cutler from Sew Like Romy

Meet Romy-Krystal Cutler from Sew Like Romy

Romy is a full-time mum to two little ones and an energetic, colorful maker. Unafraid to defy mainstream fashion trends, Romy picked up her needle and thread and became a self-taught sewer five years ago. You can find all of her whimsically wonderful sewing creations at Sew Like Romy and @sewlike on Instagram. Deviating from her professional career in the marketing field, Romy, with the support of her husband and best friend, Jason, and her Aussie spunk, found her passion in the creative community But, Romy’s journey isn’t over just yet as she is still on her journey to becoming her best self, seizing every opportunity and dream that come her way!

Here is our interview with Romy!

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger versus what you do now? 

I had two main dreams growing up: to be a track athlete, specifically the fastest female in the 400m, and to be a health professional working with kids with mental disabilities. Now, I’m a stay at home mum who creates pretty clothes in her spare time. 

What do you consider yourself? Example: Creative, artist, fashion designer, maker, marketing professional, business person, etc. 

First and foremost, I consider myself a mum but with a smidge of sewing hobbyist on the side. Honestly, though, I feel like being a mum includes all of the above titles and then some, but the pay isn’t great. Just kidding! In a creative sense though, I do consider myself a part-time “maker” in the sewing community.

What sparked your interest in sewing? Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path? Did you ever feel pressured to pursue a certain profession?

My interest was sparked by necessity. Fashion trends dictate what’s in store, and 5 years ago, that wasn’t what I wanted to wear. After having a good, long complaint to my husband, Jason, he just looked at me and asked “Don’t you know how to sew?” Answer: I’d made a little purse in school once, and that was it. But, those words definitely planted the seed, and then, that Christmas I got my first sewing machine. I guess you could say the rest was history, but really it was filled with tears, tantrums, and lots of googling. So, that being said, my husband was the most influential and still is.

In terms of pressure, gosh, I feel it all the time. While what I do right now is my passion, it doesn’t pay the bills, and my family often asks when I’ll return back to work in my professional field – marketing (before I became a stay-at-home mum.) For now, that answer is unknown, but I’m super thankful to have a husband who provides both financial and motivational backing for all my sewing endeavors.

What initially attracted you to the marketing field, and why did you decide to switch trajectories? Are there aspects of the field that you incorporate into what you currently do?

I actually just fell into the world of marketing straight out of college. I specifically dealt with data and how we could connect the right people to the right product. As an avid shopper, that appealed to me at the time. I hated getting spammed on the internet to buy this and that, so I saw this as being helpful to consumers. Funnily enough, the marketing field and the social media game are pretty similar, but rather than marketing a product you’re marketing yourself. When I switched trajectories it wasn’t conscious. I was just home with my firstborn, and my mind was bored. You can only watch Little Baby Bum so many times before you start to go crazy. So, I started sewing again as an act of self-care. I haven’t combined the two fields yet, but maybe in the future! You never know! 

You were born and raised in Australia. How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

I was indeed. My childhood has definitely influenced me. Sydney is super multicultural. I grew up surrounded by multiple nationalities and cultures within the city. Being exposed to so many different lifestyles, cultures and influences helped me appreciate and embrace differences and contradictions. I think this has manifested itself in my eclectic approach to creativity and fashion and has helped me remove unnecessary boundaries. Then, when you combine all that with the laid-back Aussie approach to life adjacent to the hustle and bustle of Sydney City, you get my full personality of hyper-organized mixed with friendly chill. In other words, my childhood turned me into a super-colourful, accepting, loving, overly-friendly workaholic who likes to sleep in too much.

Did you have anyone along the way that was instrumental in the trajectory of your life?

Oh gosh, all my family really. There’s always been one or all of my family members that have been there, but if we’re talking about who’s got the most points on their tally that would have to be Jason, my husband. The man, the myth, the legend. He’s always there and will always be there. In fact, my Instagram and blog mainly exist because of his persistent belief in my talent! 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the pandemic? 

Yes! My workspace up until recently was the kitchen table. I would unpack my sewing machine and notions when I would put the kids to sleep and then pack it up when I was done. I did that almost every night. Then, we moved during the pandemic! Now, I have the cold storage behind our garage as my “sewing dungeon.” It’s called the dungeon because there are no windows; hence no natural light, but to me, it’s everything! One side is filled with all my makes to take pictures of, and I have a couple of tables with my machines and cutting mat. The other side is my notions and random boxes of junk, and then. behind my sewing chair is a newly built industrial five-shelf storage rack to accommodate my extensive fabric buying addiction.

Where do you find inspiration for new sewing creations? 

I draw inspiration from everywhere. I love observing my surroundings and what’s happening online. So, usually, it’s a combination of the Pinterest board in my brain that I’ve added to mentally for as long as I can remember, and then, combining that with what I see on actual Pinterest, in the online sewing community, and from my family and friends. Also, sometimes I just see something on TV or randomly on the internet and get so fixated on creating it that I can’t move on with other projects until I get it out of my system.

Now that you live in Provo, UT, does its lifestyle and culture influence your work? 

Most definitely. The community here is filled with talented creatives and you just can’t escape the creativity especially in the Harmony Provo community, created by Laura and Rachel Harmon. It’s a safe place for anyone and everyone that loves making! This community has encouraged me from the beginning – even before I moved down here. They gave me something I can never thank them for enough: Confidence. Confidence to be me and to make what speaks to me. I mean, truth be told, one of the reasons we were comfortable moving to Provo was because of the prospect of being closer to Harmony and the maker community down here. 

Here is a photo Romy took in front of our Lars Mural located near out studio in Provo, Utah!

What is a typical day like for you? 

Our days have definitely changed due to the pandemic. So, this is what it looks like now: I get woken up by my husband. He’s working from home, so he’s with the kids when they first wake up and I get a little extra sleep. I’m then with the kids when he starts work. We do different activities and watch TV shows or a movie until it’s lunchtime. After lunchtime, it’s nap time for the kids. During this time, I do a little cleaning up and then start or resume a sewing project. I do this until they wake up (usually anywhere from 1.5 – 2 hours).

We then play with playdoh or kinetic sand until Jason finishes work. Once Jason’s off work, we spend time as a family. What we do specifically changes every day. It’s then dinner time, and shortly after it’s bedtime for the kids. Once the kids go down, I sew for another 2 hours and then spend time with Jason until it’s time for our bedtime routine. The day usually ends with us looking at pictures we’ve taken of our kids throughout the day…or me talking to Jason about my sewing extensively while he gives me encouraging, but confused nods mixed with the occasional “riiight” and “okay.” 

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

When my husband and I were dating there was this slogan at my university that I really identified with: No limits. I told him about it, and it became our thing. Over the course of the 11 years we’ve been together, we’ve reminded each other of it on multiple occasions. Still to this day, we believe that there are no limits to what you can achieve. 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering making a career transition, as you did?

I’d say get out of your head and follow your passion. I’ve always been a critical thinker, and I have the tendency to think of every possible scenario or combination before I even try something. However, my husband is the opposite, he goes for it. He’s more spontaneous than me, which has helped me unlock that inside of me, and I’ve never looked back. 

How has social media influenced your work?

Social media has influenced my work by introducing me to the online sewing community that I didn’t previously know existed. It connected me with indie pattern designers, amazing fabric stores, and incredible creative accounts. These all influence my work and ideas. However, there are times when I need to pull myself back out. Like any community, there are trends, and if you’re not careful, you can start to lose a sense of yourself in there. 

What artists and creatives do you look up to? Both historical and present.

Historically, I grew up loving Frida Kahlo. Learning about her in Spanish school was always a highlight (in Australia, if you’re a native speaker, you can go to school on Saturdays that are in your language.) She was unapologetically herself, and I loved that and still do!

Present-day, the artists I’m influenced by are Monika Forsberg, Ellie Whittaker, Ellen McKenna, and Jennifer Bouron. The Instagram handles of some of the creatives in the sewing community that inspire me at the moment are @emilynatsai, @burieddiamond, @caramiyamaui, @thecornyrainbow, @sewitcurly, @theravelout, @therealalexisbailey, @inannaapparel.

I could keep going and going, but it’s constantly changing, and I’m always finding new and amazing sewists out there. But, without trying to be corny, one of the first accounts I started following, and one of the most in-line with my style, is The House That Lars Built, so being featured is kind of a dream-come-true.

Here Romy poses in front of another fun Provo mural. Check out our full mural guide here!

What has been inspiring you lately? 

Funnily enough, my inspiration lately has been coming from all the ideas I’ve shelved in the past. In the pandemic life we all live now, the isolation and social distancing have allowed me to pick up things I’ve always wanted to do but have been a little scared to approach. At times, I have held myself back for fear of wasting time on things that may not be as “on-trend” or a little too experimental. So, in a weird way, it’s actually been super freeing, creatively, to be left alone to ferment in my own ideas and see what funky things I come up with. 

How has COVID 19 affected your work and aspirations? Are there additional personal or professional interests you’d like to explore?

COVID 19 hasn’t really affected my work because I’m a homebody that loves to sew. Staying home is what I do, it’s kind of my jam. However, the extrovert tendencies in me miss socialising, seeing people dressed up when they go out, all of which usually influence my creativity. In the future, personally, I’d love to collaborate more. It’s one of my favourite things to do. I love the mixes that can come from different points of view. That’s where the magic happens. Professionally, I’m not sure yet; I just love doing what I love and letting opportunities present themselves, and giving 110% of myself to whatever comes my way. It seems to be working, so why fix what isn’t broken? 

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

Keep going and keep balanced. You are going to encounter so many obstacles as you learn. Sometimes it will feel easy and you feel like you are getting into a groove, and other times, you’ll feel like you can’t connect the dots and even the simple things are difficult again, and that’s ok! I’m still learning and have so much to learn. I have my fair share of meltdowns mixed with triumphs. It’s important to keep pushing forward when it’s difficult, but it’s just as important to know when you need a break and need to step away. 

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

In general, I want to become the best version of myself. There are a few paths that I can go down and it changes every day depending on which one I want to take or if I want to go down a couple at a time. I’d love to level up with my sewing skills and learn pattern drafting. I’d also like to go back to university and get a master’s degree in data analytics or possibly specialise in the health sector (I graduated in health sciences/human resources and industrial relations). Whatever I choose, I know now that I don’t have to choose one or stick to just one. Life is meant to be lived, and you should never be too focused on the one goal because you may just miss out on other fun projects and opportunities along the way! 

Where to Find Romy

Instagram 

Her Blog: Sew Like Romy

Check out the quilt coat Romy sewed for me here!

If Romy has inspired you to try out sewing…

Check out our sewing patterns here! And our guide to fabric we love here, to get started on a fun new project!

This post is a part of our Becoming Series, where we interview creative women we admire. Click here to explore more interviews from this series!

Our New Baby Bonnets Collab With Briar Baby

Our Colorful Collaboration with Briar Baby

Inspired by our Great Artists! Kid’s Course, the new baby bonnets we designed with Briar Baby are bursting with color, cheer, and love! We designed these to be a refreshing pop of color during the bleak winter months. You know I love color and pattern, and that certainly doesn’t stop when it comes to my kiddo’s wardrobe. Each bonnet is topped with a pom-pom, I love it! With a new little one on the way, I am so happy to add these bonnets to his collection and yours too!

Baby Bonnets Inspired by our Great Artists! Course

Our mission has always been to create “an artful life.” This collaboration is a great way to start new life in an artistic way! I love seeing nods to fine art in everyday life. So much of the inspiration for our projects here on Lars comes from a lifetime of enjoying masterpieces from all around the world. Seeing the thoughts and ideas of a talented artist inspire something as simple as a baby bonnet is SO inspiring to me. It makes me feel like my life is a piece of art, down to even the cozy fabrics I wrap my sweet babes in.

Each bonnet in our collaboration is inspired by an artist we admire. Your family can learn more about the artists below through the DIY tutorials, video lessons, and printable activities in our jam-packed 6 week long Great Artists! Course. We choose these artists with care, to represent multiple styles, mediums, backgrounds, and cultures. The course is a great way to introduce your children to the vast creative world while helping them find their own unique style too. Click here to find out more about our course!

Alma Pom Bonnet

“Alma Thomas was an exuberant colorist, abstracting shapes and patterns from the trees and colors around her.” – Smithsonian American Art Museum

Wow! I want to raise my kids as “exuberant colorists!” I can’t wait to complete the Great Artists! projects with Jasper when he is just a little bit older. With me as his mama, he has had his fair share of crafting experience already, ha! I want to transition that into more and more art history learning together. And with these artists inspired bonnets even Jasper’s new baby brother can join in!

Click here to shop the Alma Pom Bonnet.

Andy Pom Bonnet

“Andy Warhol was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art” – Tate

Make Baby’s wardrobe POP with this Andy Warhol-inspired accessory. Andy is quite literally the poster child for colorful artwork, with his poster-style pieces. Of course we had to include him in this color-blocked collaboration!

Click here to shop the Andy Pom Bonnet.

Claude Pom Bonnet

“Claude Monet employed seemingly spontaneous brushstrokes to capture the ever-changing effects of light and atmosphere.” – National Gallery of Art

When I watch my ever-changing little boo grow up, I just want to capture every moment in time as keep it in my pocket! I am so excited to pass down some of Jasper’s baby clothes to our new little boo due next month (wow!) And I definitely plan to keep this new bonnets in the family for as long as possible.

Click here to shop the Claude Pom Bonnet.

Rembrandt Pom Bonnet

“Compelling descriptions of light, space, atmosphere, modeling, texture, and human situations.” – The Met

I know the “human situations” Rembrandt painted were far more grand than most I’ve experienced. But when I am in the middle of my own situations – with spilled cheerios everywhere, legos creating quite the hazard in my living room (Paul’s legos mind you, not Jasper’s) and my craft projects still unfinished – small pops of beauty make the mundane worth it. For me this especially applies to baby needs. If I can invest in pretty and high-quality items for my children, it does not stress me out when they are left in plain sight.

Click here to shop the Rembrandt Pom Bonnet.

Click here to see all of the baby bonnets!

Start your baby’s creative learning young with these Great Artists! inspired bonnets.

Briar Baby Has Masks Too!

Briar Baby has not only been featured in all of my favorite baby clothing roundups, but recently in our list of favorite masks! Their masks are made from the most gorgeous fabrics. Plus your mask could match Baby’s bonnet! A dream, really. And for each mask sold, Briar Baby donates $5 to Baby2Baby – an organization that provides children living in poverty with all the basic necessities that every child deserves.

I still scour the internet regularly for new fabric masks to add to my collection. Using masks has been such a part of my everyday life now, it has been nice to invest in some I really love wearing. I mean it! Having some mask options you love makes it feel like an accessory not only a kind gesture and safety precaution. Click here to explore our team’s favorite masks out now.

Can’t wait to hear how you like the collection! 

Becoming: Nadia Cates

Meet: Nadia Aguilar Cates  

Nadia is the Founder of Casa Palomí and Ella Rises and a proud mother of 6. Nadia’s passion for her home country has shaped her professional pursuits. With Casa Palomi and her culinary background, Nadia shares her love for Mexican cuisine (especially tamales!) through virtual cooking lessons. After relocating to Mexico for several years, she found a deep connection with her heritage, which has inspired her to empower Latina youth to connect with their roots through Ella Rises. In honor of Día de Los Meurtos, we are excited to have Nadia share how her rich culture has influenced who she has and continues to become. Because we all come from somewhere and somebody.

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, activist, etc.

  1. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I also consider myself a creative. I love to take concepts and bring them to life. For example, Casa Palomí’s pan de muerto class – an amazing Mexican sweet bread – that I did last week. I’ve never done that before but it’s live now and a success with those who have taken it!

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

My childhood has very much influenced who I am. I was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. I became a U.S. citizen in grade school. For a long time, I carried shame around my story because people made fun of me and others with similar backgrounds.

I am no longer ashamed of where I come from, and I can honestly say that my story and heritage empower me. I’ve reclaimed a call to uplift and empower those with a similar story.

There’s a quote by Gloria Anzaldua about this that resonates with me. In her words, “I am from the land of the North and the land of the South. Indigenous blood runs through my veins. It calls me, and I honor it. What I once saw as disadvantages, clearly defines me, strengthens, and empowers me.”

What aspects of your Mexican culture have most inspired your work? 

Mexico has such a deep, rich, and consistent cultural heritage. I’m inspired by all of it, but especially the music, food, and textiles. When I can, I meet and work with artisans. I learn about the history of the places I visit and return to them or remain in contact with the people as often as possible because that connection is what inspires me the most.

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur?

I think the reality of many entrepreneurs is that you ‘fail into success.’ I’ve tried and continue to try different things. When learning opportunities have appeared, I have taken them – most recently, with successful entrepreneurs and women, who I admire, offering mentoring classes!

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

There’s so many, but closest to my heart have been my parents, sisters, my husband, and each of my children.

What is a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

I’ve always had different guiding statements that have inspired me. They’ve evolved and changed over time, but they’ve helped empower me. A couple I like right now are  “There has to be discomfort to change” and “If we don’t heal the wounds of the past, we cannot expand to our full potential; we can learn from it and be empowered by it.”

What sets your work apart from other brands? 

My work is designed to connect you with the beauty of Mexican heritage and reflected in that you will hopefully see your beauty and strength at the same time.

Was starting your own business or taking on entrepreneurial projects always your ultimate plan? Did you always know that you wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into your work?

Such great questions. I’m a mother of 6, and that’s the most important work in my life right now. But deep within me, there was always a desire to create, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was … until I moved to Mexico. It was then that I knew whatever I did, it would be to preserve our heritage.

What does your daily routine look like? 

Routine? What’s that?

My oldest is 12, and my youngest is 10 months. You could say I’m a slave to my kids’ schedules. I work during nap times and at night. When we have big projects with Ella Rises or Casa Palomí, I always find help. My husband is pretty good at loading up the kids and taking them somewhere when necessary.

What is inspiring you lately?

The Ella Rises girls and the challenges they face. And the female leaders and artists who are participating with Ella Rises. See the second to last question.

Tell us about your current project(s).

At Casa Palomí, we share our heritage with the community through food. We’re currently offering a virtual pan de muerto class for Day of the Dead, and friends from all over the world have signed up for our class! Follow @casa_palomi for more details.

Ella Rises is an initiative to empower Latinas in high school through virtual art and mentoring classes taught by Latinas. This historic project has never been done before, and 125 girls registered for Ella Rises 2020! We meet every Monday and Thursday in October. For more details, check out EllaRises.org

You’ve done culinary school, tamales, catering, all sorts of things. Tell us about your journey!

You know, it is all rooted in my continued journey to discover where I came from and the culture around all of that. Check out @casa_palomi on Instagram –  it’s visually captured there. I think you could say I’ve been on a journey to becoming for a few years now. And, I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet.

What designers/creatives/entrepreneurs do you look up to from the past or present?

Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, came to my mind. I love his work! I often turn to it for inspiration, and I love his use of color and thoughtfully-curated spaces.

My culinary school maestros, Yuri de Gortari and Edmundo Escamilla, still inspire me today. They ignited a spark of love and reverence for my heritage, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

I am also inspired by Mexican artisans. I’ve been building relationships with weavers and embroiderers. Their names may never go down in history, but I know them and love them.

What is on the horizon for you and your work in the remainder of 2020?

Casa Palomí and Ella Rises are thriving, and I hope we continue to do so through the end of the year. We’re connecting and reaching individuals who seek a space of love, respect, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds. Follow @casa_palomi or @ellarises and join our journey.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business? 

I turn to a higher power for direction. If seeking divine direction resonates with you, I’d recommend praying, meditating, going out in nature, and reconnecting with our creator. Then, create a statement of what you want to be, look like, and do. Rewrite it in the present tense, start repeating it daily, and keep seeking divine guidance.

What is the best advice you’d give to a businesswoman on determining her brand’s mission? 

When someone asks me for advice, I try (not perfect at it) to just listen to what they have to say. I believe that we often have or already know the answers to our questions.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Katie Richardson, the creator of the Puj Tub, once told me “You’re right where you need to be.” I’ve taken that and ran with it. So, to answer your question, “I’m right where I need to be.”

Is there anything more you’d like to “become?”

Definitely! I embrace myself fully with where I am, but my journey of growth and progress continues. A millionaire would be nice too since I would love to invest more in my wildest ideas to help people. 🙂

Day of the Dead

For this feature, we worked with Nadia on creating this portrait, honoring both her, this unique time of year with the face mask, and the catrina in honor of Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday typically involves friends and family coming together to pray and remember those who have passed on. It is seen as a festival of celebration rather than mourning. Ofrendas, or offerings, are often set out with pictures of ancestors and tokens that represent them. Thank you, Nadia.

You can find Nadia

Casa Palomi
Ella Rises

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. 

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

My new advisory board role: Part 1

Nepal

As you might imagine, Internet was spotty, but also crucial for my job, so when the connection went down on the construction site, I hiked with a couple of others to the next mountain (people who know me now are like…what?!??!?!? hiked?!?!?! YES, HIKED!) and plugged in at the phone tower. In order to get up there, I passed a number of small houses complete with mini farms–chickens, goats, luscious hydrangeas. It was so beautiful. It was also typhoon season, which brought on spectacular views AND a constant thread of crazy rain storms. (I wish I could find my hard drive from 10 years ago with all the pictures!)

We must have made a scene because we were soon joined by a few villagers. Through a translator or hand gestures, I can’t remember, we got to talking and they shared their beautiful handiwork with me. Handmade pewter plates and textiles and more. I was floored. Their work was exquisite.

At the time I was super interested in manufacturing so I was trying to come up with ways to work together. But, like I mentioned, I was fresh out of graduate school and had recently gotten married and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark so I wasn’t in a spot where I could feasibly make too much happen, both financially or logistically–I, myself, was trying to navigate a new country, social system, network, not to mention everything that comes with marriage. I couldn’t take on too much more.

Women Makers in Nepal

What I learned in those weeks was how crucial women were to the building and heart of the the village. In fact, these women, young and old, were the ones who traveled up and down the mountain with huge baskets on their backs full of heavy rocks, the building material of the memorial that was being constructed. There was also a community center designed for the women of the village to host their individual business like nails, micro blading, and making these really cool pom pom blankets and I got to spend some time there. They even dressed me up in their traditional clothing and I felt like a super model because my normally average height in the US was now considered very tall. Ha!

The business origins

Oftentimes the origins of their businesses started from places of sorrow. For example, the owner of the micro blading business began her venture after her husband left her and she could no longer fall back on her family because they had disassociated themselves from her, which is common for the culture. They became enterprising because of the need to survive. Witnessing it for myself instilled in me a desire to be involved somehow, someday, but I didn’t know how to do so when I was also at a point in my life when I also needed to be enterprising.

Kathmandu

After the memorial was dedicated, we spent some time in Kathmandu, which was truly an out of this world experience. It was my first time in Asia and everything felt so foreign, but SO exciting–the colors, the pace, the smells. One highlight of the trip was visiting a rug factory where some of the luxury rug companies that you might be familiar with are made. They showed us how they dyed the yarns and how they turned those yarns into the intricate weavings that become full rugs. Women and men sat atop scaffolding that can lift them higher or lower depending on the size of the rug.

Family involvement in factories

What I found most interesting of this factory visit was how the children would gather in the work space after they were done with school. Sometimes they would sit right next to the parent. My memory is now fuzzy, but I want to say that I recall someone nursing their baby while working. As one who currently works from home and nurses her 7 month old baby, it feels like a privilege, but also super complex. But that’s a story I want to dive into at a later date.

10 years later

As you might know, over the years I continued to work on The House That Lars Built, the blog I had started in 2008 for graduate school (you can read more about it here). It has grown into a multi-person company where we encourage people to make things with their hands. We believe that there is a project and a time frame for every person because making something with your hands has the power to transform your well-being. And when you get in touch with your hands you tap into your soul, which is very powerful connector to your identity and culture.

Knowing this, and witnessing first hand how important the handmade economy is around the globe and even more so now than it was 10 years ago, I’ve found an organization that I have invested time and money into and will now be working with as an official advisory board member: Nest, a non-profit that supports women makers in the handmade economy.

Nest and the handmade economy

I became familiar with Nest a couple of years ago when we joined in on their 25 days of Making. Later that year we worked with 18b to donate profits from our shops for Giving Tuesday, which continued to last year. Most recently, we shared how they’ve been involved with helping some of the quilt makers from Gee’s Bend put their beautiful work onto their new Etsy shops.

As an advisory board member, I wholeheartedly support the organization in the fulfillment of its mission, vision, and strategy. I will be sharing more about the organization next week and an exciting project we are working on together. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can read more about our partnership and learn how to donate here.

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!