Dream ~ Create ~ Inspire

The question is often asked of me: “Why do you sell at markets when your online store is doing so well?” The simple answer to that is; “Contact with people, both the customers and fellow market stall holders!”

Working for yourself from home can mean many hours spent in solitude, while it’s lovely having conversations with customers from all around the world through my online store those conversations do not include body language, facial expressions and other people joining in the conversation. I choose to work from home not because I don’t like being around other people, my decision to work from home has been based on so many reasons, some financial, some practical and although it may seem idyllic to some, spending all that time alone and being completely in charge of your own time, the reality is that at times it can also be very lonely. Of course, I could just step outside my studio, grab a coffee down the street, venture into town and meander through our local boutiques, attend yoga classes and catch up with friends, all of which I  do. While these interactions are lovely they are often brief in the grand scheme of events over the course a week’s work and there is still the need to earn an income to contribute to our families needs… which requires actual work to take place. Trading at markets however, means that while we’re unloading the car, setting & packing up our stalls, in between engaging with customers during quiet periods, there is the opportunity talk to fellow stall holders (fellow artisan’s) and to get to know other people earning a living in similar way to me. Trading along side each other enables us to get to know each other on a deeper level, rather than if we were to simply visit markets as a shopper.  One such couple I have met and become friends with through trading at markets is Wendy Lees & Anthony Hoy trading as Vetro e Metallo. We have traded along side each other regularly at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston, ACT. Anyone who knows me in person will know I am a huge fan of their work and wear many of their pieces of jewellery daily.

Two special pieces of my Vetro E Metallo jewellery collection

Here are two very special custom made pieces from my Vetro e Metallo jewellery collection

Over the last few years, we’ve shared stories of what led us to trade at markets, the challenges we’ve faced being self employed, dealing also isolation, buying our own homes… etc. We’ve also discovered that our shared interests extend beyond trading at markets but also into a way of living, growing food, cooking, a love of animals, recycling materials not just for our work but our homes.

Recently we visited their new home, a magnificent old building in Braidwood which was originally a cordial factory and eventually became a mechanics workshop… their large block in the middle of the town also has two to very large sheds (now their workshops and storage space) and enough grounds to establish a garden and outdoor sanctuary. They had only been in their new home for three months when we visited and I was absolutely amazed at the transformation they had made to this building, and in such a short period of time. With the assistance of trades people they have taken this workshop and converted it into an amazing home. Stripping back the layers of oil built up on the timber floors, installing a kitchen, wood heater, bathroom and a collection of stunning copper light fittings, including one made by Anthony himself.  It should’t have÷ surprised me, their talents and skills demonstrated in their business should have been enough of an indication of their capabilities in anything that they would turn their heads, hearts and hands to. They are the perfect example of artisan living and what passion, drive and dedication can enable people to achieve.

Anthony & Wendy with Chugga

Anthony, Wendy & Chugga in their spectacular new home.

So even though some trading days at markets may be slow, there is always something to be gained from being there, such as the chance to build on the friendships developed with other market stall holders… these friendships are worth so much more than money. So when I say trading at markets is not all about making money, I really mean it. When you set your own career path and do not fit into any moulds, it can at times feel like you have three heads, so meeting other people who are just like you, but in their own individual way is so very comforting. Meeting people like Wendy and Anthony, witnessing their journey is extremely inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to seeing what their new home will evolve into as they add the additions they spoke so passionately about that day… in the mean time I will continue to take inspiration from what they already achieved through these few snap shots and I hope that they inspire you too! (pics below)

Vetro e Metallo have a stall at four different markets regularly, three of which they trade at each week, so be sure to check their website for market details.

Below is a quote I came across via Instagram, which seems rather fitting:










dream ~ create ~ inspire

<<= by marie-nicole =>>


DSC_9533 Wendy Lee & Anthony Hoy Handcrafted by Anthony Hoy

All images in this post are by marie-nicole copyright 2015


Local currency ~ Local economy

Last weekend our neighbours got together for a street bonfire. This was our first neighbourhood get together and the first time that we met some of our neighbours properly. So this was a pretty important get together for our family. Getting to know your neighbours is important, but even more so in a small village. So the night kicked off with lots of introductory chatter and as the bonfire burnt down to a beautiful large bed of glowing coals and night’s sky was alight with the sparkle of stars, the conversation stemmed into deeper more meaningful topics. We discovered over the course of this gathering that our new neighbourhood attracted many like minded residents even though we were all from different backgrounds with different journey’s through life. Yet here we were, our paths colliding in this little village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, and with similar aspirations.

My hubby, who is a Geography teacher at the local high school, came across an article on transition towns in his research for a class. He read it to me one night while I was making dinner in the week leading up to this neighbourhood get together and we then discussed the possibility of introducing a local currency in our region… the idea of which seems quite plausible in our opinion when you consider the range skills and talents that reside within our region. So on the night of the bonfire as conversations progressed and common interests were discovered we brought up this idea of a local currency and as a group we discussed how we thought this could work, along with how a barter system would benefit our community. There was much laughter and joking about unlikely fictitious scenarios of how this could work, but there was also a serious side to the conversation about how ideas that instigate long term change often commence in situations such as this, in a social setting.  This discussion went deeper and continued for much longer than we could have foreseen and at the end of the evening we walked away feeling chuffed about our fellow community members and the like mindedness of our new found friends.

The next day however, I found myself wondering where I fitted into this picture… amongst the contributors to this conversation by the bonfire was a teacher, a tradesman, a police officer, an architect, a farmer & me… an artisan. What need would the others have for an artisan in their community? How foolish of me to even think that really, especially after running this business for 7 years now to be doubting the need for my skill set was completely unnecessary, but occasional self doubt is the nature of being a creative type. After thinking on this a little more I managed to talk myself back into thinking that everyone has a purpose in a community.

The more I thought I about this the more I realised that all of us had these occupations in our current system but what if we operated in a different way, in a way that our skills and interests were what contributed directly to our community. Would we all offer different services & products to what we do now in our current occupations which we use to earn our income? The participants in this conversation also had sideline interests such as growing food & preserving the harvest, raising livestock of the feathered, furry & bristly kind, restoring vintage cars, restoring batteries, writing children’s stories and more. So if we were all to contribute to our community’s needs as a matter of survival each one of us could bring a series of skills in various fields that could provide for the needs of our village.

Our neighbourhood bonfire was a great example of how everyone can contribute with their own skills and resources. One person  hosted the bonfire on their vacant block, another brought a bobcat to gather more firewood from surrounding farmland and push the pile up together for greater burning power, another brought their ute to assist with the gathering of wood… our boys assisted by opening and closing gates and unloading the ute, while others contributed by making food to add to the buffet… ourselves included.

As an artisan who focuses on minimising waste, using resources for more than one purpose to the point of using the entire resource, this way of being can be translated into many areas of life… we as a couple also have a many ideas of how we’d like to contribute to our community. Engaging in this discussion around the bonfire with our fellow villager’s left us feeling encouraged about what the future could hold for our children & our children’s children. The transition town movement is already in place which says that there are people willing to make it happen. As a human race, steward’s of the earth, it up to us to care for this world not just watch it slowly diminish and claim no contribution to its demise. And as individuals we are each born with a gift and special talent unique to each of us that we first need to discover, recognise, hone in on and then utilise to for the benefit of our local and global community… not just ourselves.

So I’d like to encourage you to think about your skills and interests and consider how you could contribute to your community.

<<== by marie-nicole ==>>


Ps. For inspiration on making the most of your ‘inner legend’ as Regena Thomashauer puts it, head on over to the Marie Forleo website and watch the espisode “The Art of Creation Through Your Desire

How to make a newspaper gift bag

On our recent road tripping adventure I bought two beautiful woven cotton floor mats for Cécile (our vintage caravan) from a lovely little shoppe in Melaney called The Industree…. I was delighted when the shoppe keeper handed me my purchase in this gorgeous handcrafted newspaper bag.


It inspired me to make gift bags for thank you gifts we’d bought for the lovely people who cared for our beloved pets while we were away. I made their bags out of a local paper we’d collected along our travels… so they too could share in our journey through the local community news, as well as through the tastes of the delectable delights we’d bought them.

Someone on Instagram asked if I had a pattern for the bags that I could share. So I thought I’d do a little image tutorial of how I made my version of the bag and share it with all of you!

IMG_2822 IMG_2823 IMG_2824 IMG_2825 IMG_2826 IMG_2827 IMG_2828 IMG_2829 IMG_2830 IMG_2831 IMG_2832 IMG_2834 IMG_2835 IMG_2836

A couple of little pointers to accompany the images:

=>> I made my bags using two layers of newspaper.

=>> In the photo of positioning and taping down the handles you’ll notice I have the stapler inside bag, this helped keep it open while positioning the handles.

=>> Lastly, I used decorative washi tape as both a little feature and to cover the sharp ends of the staples.

If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to ask… I’m more than happy to help.

This would be a fantastic crafting project to do with kids, but of course you could simply enjoy making them on your own. It would not take long to make a batch in a range of shapes and sizes, then flatten them to store for when you need them.


Happy crafting… creating … recycling!

<<= by marie-nicole =>>


Rejuvenation Required

The wanderlust spirit inside of me is stirring… The yearning for another road tripping adventure has been building… It is time to rejuvenate, each member of our little family is feeling it. So in a couple of weeks we will be hitching our vintage van Cécile onto the back of Maxx and hitting the open road, leaving our little piece of paradise, furry, feathered and bristly friends in the care of trusted hands. We really need to reconnect with ourselves and each other, step away from our day to day commitments… and just be!

wanderlust adventures await

But before we go there is much to be done around here. My workbench is covered in rescued and repurposed goodness in the process of being transformed into statement pieces just waiting to be enjoyed by many valued customers. Many new items are also in production some of which will be listed online in the next few days, the rest will make into the store shortly after our return. Temporary Store Closure Dates: Tuesday June 30 – Sunday July 12, 2015 (Australian time) You will be able to share some of our adventure with us through my Instagram and Facebook feeds. Wishing you too some time to rejuvenate… be it in the form of a wanderlust adventure or a little daily ritual, time that you set aside for yourself. This post Meet Yourself Halfway by Sadie Rose via the Bohemian Collective Blog is a beautiful example of doing just that. Live ~ Love ~ Laugh <<= by marie-nicole=>> xx

The solution is within you…

Recently I read an article which had a line in it that really stuck with me – “The solution is within you.” I wish I could remember exactly where I read it and who wrote the article so I could share it with you… I vaguely remember a friend sharing it on social media but cannot seem to locate it. This quote can be related to so many aspects of life, but today I would like to focus on it in terms of doing what you love to earn a living. Especially since I often hear people say; “I would love to do something like… but I can’t!” Which instantly makes me think… why not?

“Your desire for change must be greater than your desire for things to remain the same.”

~ unknown

If working for yourself is something you would dearly love to do but you have no idea how to go about it, then keep in mind that there will be no advertisement for this position, no job interview process, no set wage, hours or even a job description. You set the rules!

As an artisan earning a living working from a home based studio it is completely up to me to set the expectations and meet them. So how do you do this when there are no guidelines to follow? How I have approached this over the years is to look at my expectations for living over all, from a lifestyle perspective, as well as a monetary one. After spending many hours on the road and away from my family as a portrait photographer it was important for me to be able to earn an income while being available for my family. At the time that I started this current business I had a new baby and a child just starting school so I worked within the constraints of that and set realistic expectations for what could be achieved. Back then what I expected to be able to earn income wise was a lot lower than I expect now. For the mere fact that my situation was different, I focused on building the foundation for my business, using the little free time I had to establish my business without it costing our family more than our budget could allow.

As I grew, my business did too, so with both children in school my expectations changed and I reached a point where I was able to set myself a reasonable annual income amount to achieve. I then broke that amount up into a minimum monthly income figure, allowing for two months off over the Christmas/New Year school holiday period. So looking at this based purely from a financial return perspective it is important to know what you expect to earn each month and what costs you will incur in order to earn it. For me the establishing of an online store with a global reach enabled me to work in and around my family and reach my customers while we slept. But selling in person at markets was equally important as it meant that I could speak to customers face to face, plus having to create a number of items for one event helped establish my production processes. The two combined worked beautifully in meeting my expected annual income.

Recently my husband and I realised one of our biggest dreams; buying our own home, with some land that we can live off, in our quest to live more self sufficiently. Having reached that goal my daily routines have changed a little. So this year I adapted my expectations once again. It is important to be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to the different aspects of life and know your limits. Being aware of what is really important to you as an individual as well as for your family and to be adaptable. When you work for yourself from home, and are trying to live off your land, other activities become a part of your ‘work’. I now dedicate time in the morning to maintaining order in our home and caring for our livestock before even heading into the studio to commence a days work. The fact that I don’t spend a lot of time driving to and from my work place enables me to do this. Add to this, the fact that the costs I incur in order to earn my living are extremely low in comparison to someone who spends a good portion of their income on fuel, train or bus fares, work attire, parking fees, coffee, lunches and after school & holiday care for the children. The more I contribute to our family saving on everyday expenses the less I really ‘need’ to earn, and in turn I get to spend my days doing what I love to earn a living. Aside from this though, working from home enables my family to enjoy this lifestyle too. So, instead of commuting to a job, my morning routine on a regular day looks like this:

~ Preparing school lunches filled with homegrown goodness.

~ Sitting down to a breakfast of homemade pesto or chutney alongside an egg laid by our feathered friends. Yes, we sit down for breakfast as a family, albeit briefly somedays, but we still do our best to sit and eat together before everyone departs.

~ Help my boys get out the door on time, then clean up after the morning madness.

~ Do pilates or yoga.

~ Put my overalls on over my clothes to feed the pigs without having to change again due to them rubbing their sweet muddy noses up against me in the loving way that they do.

~ Check the paddock for duck eggs as the new layers tend to lay them in plain sight of crows & the older layers like to hide theirs so each morning is like a treasure hunt.

~ Feed the chickens scraps and let our young Rooster Lucky into the paddock with the ducks until we get him some hen friends of his own… his father King George is a gentlemen, he is not prepared to share his girls 😉

~ Then give one or both of our beautiful cats a cuddle.

All this takes place before heading in to the studio to respond to email enquiries, fulfil orders, work on new designs, list products online, plan for future growth and share my experience through social media. After a days work the afternoon/evening routine commences…

Weekends these days are now rarely spent travelling to trade, this has now become something I do occasionally… instead they are often spent sharing this new lifestyle with my family, working in the garden to grow our own food, preserving our harvest, planning/building housing for future livestock, designing our future landscape, maintaining our property, restoring furniture for our home etc… that is of course, when we are not entertaining guests, visiting friends or off on an adventure. The irony is this year, even though I have spent a lot less time out on the road travelling to trade at markets than in the previous three years, I have increased my income significantly! At the same time as increasing my duties and responsibilities around our home. Which has always been the plan… to live a lifestyle we believe in, while earning an income from home… made possible for me only at this stage, by planning, adapting and refining things along the way.

Every now and then we find ourselves assessing where we are and where we want to be in another five years time, defining exactly what that looks like. This usually starts to happen around a time that we have reached another stage in getting closer to our bigger picture goal. It is important to recognise this once each stage is achieved, rather than simply looking at the desired destination. I truly believe we will reach that bigger picture goal because of what we have achieved so far. Earning an income while working within the constraints of my family did not just happen to me, just like buying our own home on a little land did not just happen to us. We have dedicated ourselves to making these things happen, because we truly believe in a way of being!

Having a clear vision in your mind of what your goals look like gives you the guidelines you need to make decisions that will enable you to reach those goals and solve the problems you will face along the way. Your vision for a way being will not be the same as mine/ours, so the rules and expectations you set for yourself will be different too. If you really want to earn a living doing what you love, imagine what that looks like and then make it happen. Take it from me, it will be worth it!

“The solution is within you!”

<<== by marie-nicole ==>>


Ps. Upon completing this post, I went across to Marie Forleo TV to catch up on recently missed episodes, timely that this was what I watched: Why You Lost Your Business Passion – And How To Get It Back. It compliments this post perfectly. I highly recommend you watch it if turning your grand ideas into a reality suddenly feels unachievable. As always, Marie shares a great quote during the episode

“You won’t have to push yourself to keep going if you have a big enough vision to pull you ahead.”

– Marie Forleo