Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Little Hands Australia // Winter collection // Baby & Todler home textiles and fashion




A few months ago we finished up a new series of designs for My Little Hands Australia that is now finally for sale! Yeah, we do not have a lot of patience when it comes to waiting for the end result but it was very much worth it...

My Little Hands is an online shop, a place to find all things beautiful for your little one’s including bedding for babies and children, clothing, floor rugs and room decor including wall art, garlands and wallpaper.

The Australian company is run by the gorgeous Emma Colombera. She has a heart for true designs and asked me to create a range of products for her shop. We started out with a series around the water colored foxes. A cute simple repeat of these yellow creatures is now available on cute blankets and other MLH items.

For this season we created a series of Bohemian Feather designs for both girls and boys including the Sleep little one & Buonanotte pillow case. Some cute framed artwork for your little ones nursery and well, many more cute things are available in the online shop. Check their online shop to see the entire new Winter collection or visit the My Little Hands Facebook page to see what's new.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A designing process // A brief step by step // New Indian Summer Boho feathers



I love the summer season. I would love to move to a climate in which the temperature is a plus 20 degrees all year long. As some of you might know, my joints are terrible during the colder season so I love focusing on summer. During the winter most of the summer designs take shape. During spring we can see the first sales and see what our most trending themes are.

This year the Indian Summer Feathers were one of our hot selling designs. From Australia to South Africa, this Boho print is now everywhere! But the summer season is not over yet and since nowadays our production process doesn't take 6 months we can add new designs and adept to what's happening quite easily. So this week it was time to add some new feather designs.

Designing on screen can be very annoying. I don't like the digital process all that much but of course, designing on screen is a lot quicker and gives a design a completely different look and feel. I love to create things by hand and need a pencil or brush in my hand at least once a week. Our feather collection contains hand drawn ink illustrations, designs that are completely created on screen but there was no feather print made with watercolors yet. I love using a sharpie to draw but I am too much of a perfectionist to actually like my drawings. Somehow they never seem good enough. By using a brush, a lot of things can happen that are not under your own control. The ink can drip and make little circles, the hair of the brush all go there own way. The end result is a lot more spontaneous and not as crispy clean as an ink pencil drawing.



A brief step by step
To create a pattern the first step is making the first illustrations, paintings or shapes. For the new Boho Feather design I painted a series of different feathers on several pieces of paper. I love to mix lot's of water with the, in this case, black ink to creates shades of gray that make the design more layered. After painting I let things dry for a few hours. The paper can be soaked so I make sure everything is all dry before scanning the artwork.

First I clean the glass plate of the scanner to make sure no extra dust or speckles are scanned. I create a .jpg file that I tweak a little in contrast and color to make the white paper background a crisp white and have a contrasting deep black. I use Photoshop for those little tweaks and adjustments. Usually after that I would trace the image in Adobe illustrator. But since I love the raw touch of the brush, it is hard to convert the image to vector and not loose this particular element I like so much, so for this design I use Indesign. First I cut out every single feather and shape and put them in all in separate documents. That way I can place the image and scale and rotate all feathers separately from one another. By using Indesign it is also quite easy to repeat the print, make it seamless and change the colors. Eventually I export a .pdf document which I check and open in Photoshop and then save as the file needed for production.

So now we have a final digital file. The design is now uploaded into our Shutterstock and Spoonflower libraries and will soon be available on European market as well. Wanna have a piece? Follow us via Facebook and stay up to date about new things that are happening or follow our Instagram feed where you can find some DIY inspiration.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

HOW TO // Sew a Quilt



On the Spoonflower blog you can find a lot of fun inspiration for DIY projects. If you are looking for some great sewing ideas check out the Spoonflower blog. This photo was past of the 'How to make a quilt' post. Curious about the final result? Here you can find the finished home blanket with our cool Little Smilemakers Geometric Clouds design.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // July 2015



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from United Kingdom, Australia and United States. This is our new July selection. If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.

Soft sole squirrel
These adorable soft sole baby shoes are made by Sharie who uses lot's of Little Smilemakers Studio designs in her Little Pitterpat Etsy shop. Some of these soft sole baby shoes even have matching hats. Adorable! All items are made by hand in Sharies studio in Montana. These cute shoes make a great baby shower present. So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these. Or keep follow Little Pitterpat on Instagram. Right now she is having a well deserved break but don't worry, it is worth a little wait. She has over 200 items to choose from.

Baby Bandana's & Headbands from Down Under
Ollie & Coco is a small starting company from Australia and makes adorable baby bandana's and bibs. They bring you beautiful products made for your little ones, their nursery and your home. Ollie & Coco will also add a new range of products to their cute and fresh collection soon, even more reason to have a little look on their website and follow this fun brand on Instagram.

Summer season coat
It has been a while since the last Little Smilemakers collection for Veritas hit the shops. Sometimes we see finished products in magazines like Ottobre, Knippie and La Maison Victor and can not trace back to their origin. This cute coat was made by a Veritas customer. And what a great job. If you are the maker of this creation please contact us so we can give you some proper credit for your work.

Unicorn dream girly shorts
We love love love these little tiny shorts that were made by Isis that runs a cute shop with apparel and accessories for baby and toddlers. All items are hand made. Whatever legging, romper of pair of little shorts you pick, your girls will feel like a little princess. Go take a look and browse through her shop or follow her feed on Instagram for some fashionable inspiration for your little one.



Fun storage bags for your home
We are big fans of One Pennie, a little shop from Perth. These cute garlands are made with one of our most popular Spoonflower design: our plus sign fabric. We love the black and white style with a little hint of color here and there. These clever bags to store your pencils or keep your plants safe and pretty are available on their website.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back to school // ABC Fabric on Spoonflower



In a few week the new school year will start. If you are looking for some cool back to school ABC fabric check out the Spoonflower blogpost with cool Alphabet fabrics and DIY inspiration for kids. Would you like to use onw of out own Little Smilemakers designs? Check out our back to school inspired designs in the Spoonflower shop.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Berlin // treasure hunting // top 5 places to visit // Romantic decay & hidden gems



It has been a long time since I have been to Berlin so when I knew the Bread & Butter show was coming up I planned a trip to one of my all time fave cities. I guess what attracted me most, when I visit Berlin 10 years ago, was the calm and relaxed atmosphere. The city itself did not have a booming economy and lot's of creatives settled here and it was still easy to find a cheap place to live.

But a lot has changed. Since Berlin was featured in the New York Times as one of the 'go to' places the city now has a crazy amount of tourist flushing the streets during the warmer season. Even though locals might not be too happy about it and prices have gone up like crazy, they have to admit: this new cash flow was very welcome.

Romantic decay
During summer 6 years ago was the last time i visit this city before going back this summer and I can see so much has changed. The damaged old buildings have been renovated and covered in a layer of fresh new paint. New modern architecture is popping up around the eastern part of town and near the Spree river. And I am quite happy to only have seen one junkie shooting up during my trip. That is a little progress right?

Berlin always has been a melting pot and the city has a complex history which is very visible to the eye up until today. So what is it that makes this city unique? The way it bounces back from everything that has happened? Berlin is in fact very different from other cities in Germany that I visit and this raw creative energy is very much part of it. Hopefully some of it will stay.

Bread & Butter
So this year I decided to join the Bread and Butter show where fashion start ups and shops find there annual dose of inspiration. Where buyers collect new items for their shop and designers present their new work. It is always fun to see what is happening in fashion and print. What influences new collections. The Bread and Butter show location is an experience by itself: the old Tempelhof airport building, that was open for public up until 2008, is a beautiful piece of architecture. After a brief meeting I was able to have a good look around and enjoy the beautiful and hot summer day out in the sun, overlooking the old airport.

Berlin, It never ceases to amaze me. The city has a raw urban edge but is also a great place to visit with small kids since parks and playgrounds are everywhere. So of course with every trip I stumble upon places I really love and I am happy to write down a few of the Berlin gems I discovered while cycling around town on my bike. So here is a top 5 of places to see and experience.



1 // Blain Southern
This contemporary art gallery is located in the old press building and offers a huge canvas to artists. This summer the gallery has an impressive exhibit of Morellet. You can see his paintings and also his later work: neon installations. His work was influenced by artists like Piet Mondriaan and Max Bill. You can see some similarities in the movement and the composition but using materials like neon, concrete, metal, and leaving out color were considered to be quite modern back then and still make his work very unique. What I love about the gallery itself is that it has a huge main area with one high sealing stretching up into the sky. The canvas for the work makes the art even more astonishing.

2 // Café Strauss
This time I was renting a small studio near the Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg. A perfect location to visit the Bread and Butter show that was held at the old Tempelhof airport. This area has lot's of restaurants and bars but if you want to have a sweet break or little brunch I would recommend Café Strauss that is a little further west and located on a graveyard. Does not sound too appealing right? Sit down and eat with the dead? Well, it is an experience to have a bite here. The place itself has great baked goods, heavenly cheesecake, but you can also eat the more traditional pretzel and butter. Try it out!



3 // Neue Heimat
Most people visit the East Side Gallery when they visit Berlin. These remains of the wall that once divided east and west is one of the cities main attractions. But there is lot's more to see and to do around the eastern part. If you walk a little more north you can visit a small reggae place with food and drinks and art exhibits: YAAM. But one of the places that for me is a typical Berlin experience is the Sunday flea market down Revaler Straße. Neue Heimat. This area remains a little shady but on sundays the old factories east of the train tracks houses a vivid vintage and flea market. You can enjoy some street food, have a drink and enjoy live music in typical Berlin style. During the night this place turns into a club. So if you're up for a night out check out what's going on via their website.

4 // Schee
I am a big fan of one German shop in particular: Kauf Dich Glücklich. And while visiting this fave of mine I found this little gem next door: Schee. A place where you can find small home decor items and a great collection of graphic prints. Seriously great! If you can appreciate illustration, photography, typography and design; this shop has it all. You can buy an original screen print for under €50. So go take a look, and even if you are not looking for anything to spice up your wall, it is a great place for some colorful inspiration.



5 // Kauf Dich Glücklich
Just so you know, I am not a big fan of shopping. But this place has it all for me. The shop has locations all over Germany so I always make sure to have a little peek before I leave for home. They have some Scandinavian fashion labels and also have jewelry, shoes, bags and book. Great books about travel and art. Boy that is one awesome mix of books! I know! So if you get a chance to visit Germany, check out the nearest KDG shop and buy yourself some happiness.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer cactus swimsuit girls



Sometimes we stumble upon one of our prints in the wild, or someone sends us a link of what they find while shopping online. Usually these are prints purchased via Shutterstock where we have a huge library full of artwork you can also purchase with a commercial license. Even though there are some strict guidelines (please read the enhanced license agreement before you purchase).




The girl in this image is the very talented Australian based DJ Tiger Lilly. We are very happy to see her in one of our creations. She looks awesome with this cactus & mermaid hair combo, doesn't she? The photo was made by Melbourne photographer Shevin Dissanayake. Follow this photographer via Instagram @shevindphoto.



Yuka is a LA blogger and is wearing this cute desert theme with some crazy cool sunglasses to coachella. We love the color scheme of this photo. Follow her on Instagram @yukasaur and check her fashionable blog for daily fashion inspiration.

We love how companies are exited to use our designs and always tag us in their posts. Kudo's for all amazing peeps creating such joyful things with Little Smilemakers designs, fabrics, wallpaper and paper goods. Your tags and credits are very much appreciated. So again: Thank you to all creators and followers. If you ever stumble upon one of our designs. Please tag us @littlesmilemakers!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's celebrate pink / 5 reasons why we all adore this color of positivity and optimism



Colors have a strong but also subconscious effect on our everyday lives. During my design studies, studying color was our most demanding and time consuming subject. As a visual artist I was taught how to influence and effect others with my use of the color spectrum.

Pink is the color of compassion, optimism and love. Pink is soft and warm and often used for feminine related subjects. With a little hint of red this is a passionate color that will give you a calm balanced energy and triggers positivity. Studies have shown that when you are surrounded by pink, negative influences have lower impact. All though nowadays society sees pink as a gender related color, a color of feminism and romance, there is a good reason to celebrate pink for all of us.

1 // I love pink personality
After blue, pink is the most beloved color of the spectrum. It works soothing and is associated with our nurturing side. Is pink your favorite color? It will probably reflect in your personality. People that prefer pink over any other color are usually a little more sensitive to the needs of others. Do you have a need to protect and take care of others? Do friends see you as warm and easy to approach? The color represents a nurturing part in us.

2 // Pink & branding
Pink logo's are usually made for feminine businesses. Such as beauty parlors and massage salons, fashion brands and glossy magazines. To attract more female clients this is the color to use for your brand. It is soft, warm and open. A good combination to attract people to your business. To add a little more professionalism and sophistication pink is usually combined with a strong gray or black. To keep it light, youthful and fresh, on younger female market, pink is usually mixed with whites and pastels that enhance the softer side of the color.



3 // The color of motherhood
It is impossible to give birth to a daughter an not receive pink gifts. But even though we see pink as a female gender color match, it is the softness, warmth and nurturing effect that drives us to make things pink. It might be why pink is mostly represented on the market even though blue is the most favored one.

4 // pink & business
Are you the girl boss just like me? Do you have people working for you or are you manager in a big firm? Studies have shown that powerful woman wearing pink are seen as more approachable, warm and calm. Most female CEO's wear strong colors and are seen as superior.

5 // Girls & boys
Of course whether it is subconsciously or because we were brought up in a world of pink, we woman all feel a little more girly when we are dressed in pink or decorate our house with a hint of pink in there. But I personally think we now are at a point in time when we all want to let go of the little girl boy box too. Woman might be a little warmer, softer and maybe have an instinct to nurture, all of that is also part of men. And no, not only gay people have a softer side there. Pink is not a color to separate from gender. Think about all the romantic gestures that are related to love and also marriage, pink is also a color of romance that brings people together. Embrace the softer side.

Fun fact: traditionally pink was a color used for boys in Belgium

Pink has been a girl-only color for a long time but there is a more conscious trend going around. We all have the need to get back to nature, eat more healthy, purify our lives, consume less. So if we talk about pink it is usually from the nurture point of view. Do consumers really want pink for there girls or are we taught to choose pink over any other color? Pink will be battling between nature and nurture. But it is good to see a blossoming gender neutral market. Even in our business we see a growing demand on gender neutral themes and colors.



But what if you don't like pink?
Usually a strong reaction on color comes from a subconscious level. Of course you can dislike a color but if you really feel like you hate the color pink it might relate to a disbalance within. Did you grow up in a safe environment where you felt nurtured and taken care of? Do you woman feel feminine?

I never necessarily liked pink much and if I see it from a psychological point of view, yes this strong reaction might have something to do with me on a more personal level. I see that designer colleagues and friends that run there own businesses all have a little thing against this crazy popular color. Is it because it is forced on us woman to relate with everything pink? Or are we out of touch with our feminine side? Or just quirky designers that take a prefer a different approach?

Nevertheless pink works for me personally but also in our Little Smilemakers design business. Our pink designs are most popular, people are crazy for pink! And working on a market for new borns is kind of awesome. Yes, that triggers our warm, motherly sides too. I wonder if you can relate to this topic. Do leave a comment if you have something to say about this topic.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Little Smilemakers Studio in Stella Magazine // June 2015



Have you seen this months issue of Stella Magazine? We are proud to say we are featured on there Inspiration page. Stella is a thinking woman's magazine from the Pacific Islands. The magazine celebrates the indigenous voice of Pacific Islanders covering fashion, health, travel, arts, and life across our region. Following publishing trends from across the globe, Stella shares uplifting stories across the region in all walks of life. Challenging stereotypes and share good ideas. This modern magazine is an exciting platform for the creative talents of the Pacific region, by the people, for the people. We are proud to be featured in there.

Want to be inspired by us too? Follow us on Instagram Click here and stay in touch!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Munich // Amazing streetart // Late night Biergarten // Top 5 things to do in this Beautiful capital of Bavaria



Of course if you are visiting Europe from another continent other cities might pop in to your head first while planning your trip. But there are many hidden gems, smaller cities that have a little extra something. Munich is one of those places having it all. Great night life, parks, the Alps are around the corner and the city has an historic center and lot's of cultural sights to visit.

First of all I am a back fan of German cities. I haven't been in a city in Germany I didn't like yet. During summer people are outside and celebrate the warmer weather. There are lot's of things to do all around the city. here are a few of my favorites. Munich is a city located in the southern part of Germany and has a great cultural heritage. I am a big fan of German cities with their broad streets, rivers and amazing old architecture. We all know Munich is the center of the famous Oktoberfest but Munich also is a city with high class top notch museums and fun coffee places. I must say I love that combination! Here is a little top 5 of things to do and places to see spending a day in this Bayern city.

1 // University Rooftop Bar
Are you a fan of heights? I always love to visit one of the cities taller buildings and the first thing I do when I visit a city is go look for a rooftop bar. Munich has a student bar that is open for public. Cafe Vorhoelzer is located inside of the Architectural faculty of the University and from the bar you have a great view over the city. When the sky is clear you can even see the Alps. The bar itself is packed with students and usually a place on a location like this is crazy expensive but the prizes for drinks and food are very okay. Drink a coffee and have a fresh Panini or try out one of their very refreshing cocktails.

2 // Street art tour
All along the old train tracks, old industrial area's and outskirts you can find some amazing street art. Somehow there is always room for these forms of creativity in Germany. I am always amazed by the great works of art that turn all German cities into open air museums. And Munich actually promotes street art. They say Munich is the city where street art in Germany began in the eighties and it was the first city in the country where graffiti was legalized in some parts of the town. This way Munich street art became a true respectable form of art. There is so much to see when you hop on a bike and just cycle around town. You can also join an organized graffiti sightseeing tour. Be amazed!



3 // Long biergarten nights
If you talk about Munich of course there must be a little something about beer. Every year this city turns into madness: it is the Oktoberfest Walhalla. Every fall the city transforms in a festive beer drinking party, they even have created an entire park to celebrate all the craziness. If you don't visit Munich during Oktoberfest there are enough places to drink a beer like Bavarians do. Biergarten are the place people hang out during warm summer nights. Some have open air movie nights, other have a little playground for kids, or little food trucks where you can get traditional Bavarian snacks and finger food. It is not just a place to drink bier, it is part of the countries social tradition.

4 // The Ivar River
On a hot summer day nothing is so refreshing that a little dip in the river. The Ivar river is east from the city center and a popular place for peeps to hang out. You can reach the river by metro or rent a bike and have a little ride along the green Ivar Trail. It is a great place to meet up with friends over a little BBQ or get a little tan, there is also a nudist area. It is green and lush and a great escape from the hot city center. So if you want to get out of the busy hot summer streets this place is a great afternoon gettaway.

5 // Museum Brandhorst
Pop art and contemporary pieces. I love a good Art Museum. And thankfully every mayor European city has a place worth visiting. Of course you can visit the Pinakothek Museum but the Brandhorst Museum also has a great package of modern art, paintings and sculptures. The Brandhorst Museum was built in 2008 and even the building itself is worth a little peek. It has a colorful clean cut facade that looks amazing in sunlight! Sometimes a Museum can be an overwhelming place but Brandhorst is not too big. Spending two hours inside is enough to see it all that is why it is a great place to visit if you will only be in town for a day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // June 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

I love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from United Kingdom, Australia and United States. This is our new June selection, this month with a colorful cripsy clean theme. If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.



Adorable owls home decor
If you take a close look you can see this owls fabric is part of a large owl pillow. So cute! This cuddly owl was made by Andrea who owns a the All Things Owls Big Cartel shop where she sells her cute cuddly owls and fun kids fashion. She also attends local markets so if you are living in Australia, I know, it is huge, check dates and locations where she will be selling her owls on her Facebook page. Take a look in her webshop, maybe you can find something for your little one!

Summer dancing ice cream-ballet
Look how adorable this little tiny dancer looks in her ice-cream print. We haven't seen a lot of finished products made with this print but we love this Little Cowboys and Indians leotard. If you are looking for some original ballet fashion for your little one check out their Etsy shop. There are also some amazing rompers and cute shorts in Brittany Kleiss shop. We totally love her quirky prints and cool style.

Little Lady Bug Nappies
Bambino Mio is a company that specialized in baby goods and last year we collaborated for their first patterned Miosolo reusable diaper series. After launching four Little Smilemakers Studio designs last year we were asked to add another batch of designs to their adorable baby range. This spring four new designs were launched. This is still one of our personal favorites: The Lady Bugs. The photo was made by one of Bambino Mio's happy customers. Would you like to get more info about re-usable cloth diapers or shop new nappies? Go visit the nappie shop!

Cactus garden soft soles
When Europe prepares for summer, Australia is looking forward to the colder season. This month we discovered another great soft sole brand. OhBoeys is an online store based in Melbourne, Australia that features locally designed handmade products for all little ones. The motivation and inspiration for all these tiny creations in this little shop came from Sylvia's boys. Each product is unique and meticulously created with lots of care and love. Their fabrics are sourced from all over the world. Wanna grab one of these cuties? Check Oh Boeys gorgeous website.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Knippie Magazine June // Rainbow Love fabric summer dress



One of our Spoonflower customers sent in this adorable photo of a girl in her little summer dress made with Little Smilemakers Studio fabric. The final result was selected for Knippie's June issue.

Knippie is a Dutch DIY Magazine in which you can find sewing tips and tricks, new trends and fun fashion patterns for your little ones. For this new June summer issue the Rainbow dress made by one of our customers was selected as part of the "rainbow children" photo shoot. It has been a while since we were featured in a Dutch Magazine. Fun to see our designs a little closer to home too.

Want to make this dress for your little girls yourself? Check out the Knippie website and order a copy. If you would like to use this Rainbow Love fabric for one of your sewing projects you can take a look in our Little Smilemakers Spoonflower shop and order your piece. This design in available in three different scales. Don't forget to send us your creations once your done! We are curious what you create with this dreamy fabric.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Botanics and Wild life - All about green



I have to admit I do not only draw all day. Half of my work is researching markets all over the world. Doing so I get inspired most by what is happening in Brazil and other tropical markets right now. I am a big fan of the minimal Scandinavian designs but I adore the lush green tropical influences finally coming our way in mainstream fashion and home decor. Much more character!

So why not have a little feature about fascinates me most: Nature. I grew up in a place where we forget how to live in harmony with trees and whenever I travel I find myself a little more at ease when I am surrounded by nature. Culture fascinates me, but come on, the diversity in wild life and plants.

There is of course a serious green trend going on in every aspect of life for a while now. People get more conscious about their health, their environment and about what they eat.



Last year tropical prints were already introduced into the western fashion world. The pineapple made a come back, cactus themes and large green leafs. And with this year's spring entering the country there is finally room for plants. There is a trend going on in home decor as well. Lush branches, large retro plants decorate the living room again and colors of the tropics find their way into our interiors again. Even on minimal markets like in Scandinavia and central Europe. So yes, nature is back and we love it!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top 5 things every starting creative should know // Starting your own design business

I was drinking my coffee at one of my favorite lunch spots here in the city and realized a lot of waiters are just creatives in disguise. Nowadays it is so hard to find a job, even after doing master after master and a great amount of unpaid internships all over the world, graphic design business and other creative business in general do not have a lot of 9 to 5 job openings. But if creating is in your genes a Barista job will eventually wear you out so lot's of newbees try to start their own business and struggle, since doing business is something completely different than creating things.

There are so many designers in this world. Why did I ever think this could be a way of making ends meet? Well, it is possible. With the right mind set, eagerness to learn new skills and flexibility you can come a long way. If you are a designer yourself and don't know where to start keep reading! Here is my personal top 5 priority list. Things that I think can really help you out while starting your own creative business.



Create a solid business plan
I never started out with a clear business plan but working in the design industry for almost 10 years made it very clear what I did and did not want for my own company. When I myself started Little Smilemakers Studio it was not to get rich and make lot's of money. It takes a good steady foundation to built something solid.

The most important thing, the one to start off with is setting clear goals. Be realistic and humble. What would you like to do? Make a description of your workflow and plan your days. What clients would you like to work with? How much time would you like to work? What is most important? What sacrifices are you willing to make or not make? Could you work from your home office and save money or would you like to have a studio? Where would you want to be a year from now?

I schedule a little time to reflect ever quarter. What can I improve? What is going well? Where there any major issues to deal with? It is important to make time to overlook what you are doing. Sometimes there is so much to do you loose track of what is important to you. The one thing that being an independent designer should always keep in mind: Am I doing what I love? You can always go back being a Barista without all the responsibility of running your own business.



The art of social Media
The first thing you should know: Social Media is your new best friend. And as your friend it needs frequent attention and now and then some critical input. I know lot's of designers that do not have their own website. We live in a very visual world and you can reach a lot of new potential business partners via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram. Before posting and oversharing make a plan about what you think is representative of your business, be honest and only share things that reflect your skills and set a light on what you do best. Don't be afraid to delete old posts, comments and images that seem to lack quality if you at it later on.

Be visual. As a designer there is no better tool to present your portfolio to the world than on the internet. And we are working a in a very visual business, that is a big pro! But always be critical. Try to avoid posts that are too informal, no one wants to see your pet four times a week. Of course you can stay a little human too, but try to make the balance 20/80 when you post via Twitter or Instagram.

"Social Media is your new best friend. And as your friend it needs frequent attention"

Make sure your image is of good quality. If you want to post a finished product make sure you use with some good lightning that really improves image you put out there. Stay away from harsh lightning and mid night flashes. Just wait for the next morning and use natural light as much as possible. Research shows that light colored photography and visuals attract 80% more traffic than dark images. Something to keep in mind.

Create a Facebook page for your business. This looks very obvious but it needs a lot of work and make sure you upload frequently. By not posting anything for a few weeks your hits will drop and people might think you are out of business or just traveling the world. I always like to plan my posts, you can schedule posts if you are out of the office for instance so your page will stay active. I post things that I am working on, finished products and projects (tag your clients pages) but also try to come up with themed posts around the holidays and seasons. Variety is key here. Try to inspire your audience with everything you put on there and make sure all designs and creations are yours.

My favorite type of social media is by far Instagram. It is easy to post, tag and comment and that way your work will be found easily and lowers the threshold for people to get in touch with you and your work. Keep things interesting and inspiring. Keep in mind who you want your audience to be and connect with them by using tags. For instance I create a lot of designs very suitable for wallpaper and fabric, textile and home decor companies will study their market by searching by tag. So if you make patterns add 'Fabric' and 'Pattern' to your post. If you create typefaces add 'type' and typography etc. The right people will know where to find you. I have had several companies contacting the studio after getting connected over Instagram first.

Twitter is a great way of getting some attention too. Make sure you follow business related people and companies and keep a flow of communication going. I only use Twitter for current topics, design news, tips about online education and design courses etc. Keep in mind your potential clients are watching you. Don't get too involved into politics and off topic issues and mind your language. And always check your spelling!



Earn passive income
Making money as a designer is challenging but a true creative knows how to use their skills and make them into at least some money. I mainly create patterns and illustrations nowadays but started out as a graphic designer making brochures and logo's. I grew into creating things i love to create most and have the ability to focus on one thing now. But that can take years to accomplish. And you know, even designers, they got to eat.
On the internet you can earn a loaf of bread or two by selling your work via stock or Print on Demand websites. For instance I started out selling my photo's via Shutterstock, they were just there soaking up all this space on my computer and they were good enough for print and magazines so I started uploading my travel photography and themes that are popular in stock: food images and conceptual situations. I never earned a lot from selling my photo's, since I am not a very good photographer, I do not have the right technical skills to be a pro but from there I realized that I could just sell my illustrations there too. Even nowadays if I am not working on a project I still pass time creating new work for my stock portfolio and Society6 shop.

If you have no projects to work on and like to create things every day just keep in mind you can earn passive income with illustrations. photo's, musical compositions, paintings, video. There are many websites on which you can put your artwork into t-shirts or bedding for instance. But you can also start a blog and add advertisements to your page. Create video tutorials, typefaces or design templates. There are a lot of ways to earn some passive income. Research what works best for you and your business and once you have a decent portfolio and get the hang of it you will see the work will pay off. And don't forget to share your products via Social Media!



Join design organizations and connect to a creative network
Ah yes networking. It might be my least favorite part and I am so lucky I don't have to depend on other people too much. But working by yourself can be lonely, but also can keep you back from improving your skills, creative or business wise. If you are starting as a designer it is probably a good idea to consider attending meetings where people come together and can talk about similar experiences as a designer. I think networking is my weak point. But you simply can not do everything yourself. Keep creating, representing yourself to the world, learning new skills, researching wold markets, stay on trend and on top of that stay critical about your designs. Networking is a way to stay up to date and get feedback which is very important.

There are always people that have better skills in some areas in which you could use some extra. It is better to focus on what you can do though. I have a designer friend that is amazing with software, printing techniques and new features. If not for him I would just get a new computer plug and play without taking care of the right presets and things like that. Some people have more experience in doing business overseas, some have good knowledge of the producing side. It is good to have these people under your speed dial when things get complicated.

In Holland there is a design organization called BNO. Joining a design organization like this gives you access to legal information but also is a way to represent yourself as a legit designer. You can have a face to face with people but you can also join an online creative network. Whatever works for you. Do some research, there are several design organizations in each country.

Be honest & humble
If you don't have any colleagues to tell you "this header is a little off" you have to make sure you be critical about what you create all the time. Be honest about what you can and can not do. If a client approaches you and asks you to create a website and you are technically unexperienced don't prove yourself you can do it. Learn some skills first before taking your business for a test ride.

People always ask me "how does it feel to see your designs in shops world wide." I like to see how my designs pop up everywhere but it is still my job. I know my skillet, I know what I am good at and I see a lot of things that could use a little improvement too. Just because I am a designer that is creating prints for a famous brands and thus visually out there doesn't mean I am a good teacher or art critique. Some designers have this diva attitude which doesn't look very attractive on anyone to be honest. And I think literally people should mind their own business.



"Learn some skills first before taking your business for a test ride"

Be honest about your skills and trust your own creativity. Don't envy competition and don't try to be that competition. Work on your own skills and your own handwriting will convince people to work with you because you are unique and different from anyone else. Stay true to who you are.

You will have to work together with people and simply have to come up with a solution to their problem: company needs design. Know your skills and rather than lose patience in the process, give step by step feedback why you think your design would meet their needs. I have worked with a designer that had a complete lack of overview, made things that simply weren't practical and were not at all meeting the clients expectation. Keep communicating during the entire process. Instead of going back and forth meet each other half way. Stay in touch after you finished a project. Letting go of your creation can be hard and sometimes a client is persistent and really doesn't see what you see and it is hard giving up your baby. But it is true: kill your darlings.

Keep in mind, things worth your while are never easy. Stay on to of your game, set clear goals and work hard. For me it meant working 70 hours a week which is all right since I do not have a family or husband who need time. I am always looking for things to improve, stay on top of my numbers and after more than three years I can finally say I kind am getting the hang of it and can take a little step back in hours and if I travel it is not only for business anymore.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // May 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

I love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Canada, Poland, United States and Russia. This is our new May selection, this month with a little soft pink theme.
If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.



Geometrics and Ballet
We love the photo styling here. The cute little triangle shirt was made by Posh and Cozy. Danielle makes fun kids and baby fashion she also sells via Etsy. Don't you love the combination of the cool triangles shirt with the soft pink voile ballet skirt? She just received another batch of new Little Smilemakers fabric so stay tuned!

The vintage cabinet project
Ferpie and Fray is a blog where you can find all sorts of up cycling projects. The old vintage cabinet was painted in warm soft pink and the drawers were covered with Pastel Feathers wallpaper made by Little Smilemakers Studio. You can find the step by step process on their blog together with other inspiring home decor projects.

New born soft soles
The feathered baby shoes by Titot were made with Little Smilemakers feather series via Bebé Casa. These soft soles keep you little ones feet warm in the fresh spring breeze. Marta is based in Poland and started our with only leggings and shoes but now you can also find: headbands, scarfs, bandanas, blankets and many more for children and mammas in her easy shop. Everything is made with love for fabric and sewing and with greatest care. So take a look at her shop.

Bows and birthdays
Some Little Smilemakers designs people just can not get enough of. But some more simplistic designs stay in the shadows of the hot sellers. Seeing finished projects of those designs rarely used for kids fashion is always fun.
This cute bow legging was made by a Russian costomer. Petite Princesse is a small kids fashion brand in Moskou and they sure know how to represent themselves. We love the quirky photoshoots and props in their images. Good job!

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Yay it's May // Studio filled with new energy



This post is dedicated to a person that is very dear to me. May always starts with a little knot in my stomach, a trip down memory lane. This year it has been six years ever since my stepfather past away, on the same day as Dutch Momorial day. Right after memorial day the country turns into one big party: Liberation Day.

For me Memorial day will always be a day to remember my stepdad. And every year I buy myself some flowers, he used to bring me those whenever he came over to visit. These flowers remind me to fill my days with joy. Do what I love and bring a fresh energy into the studio. So let's start May by enjoying life to the fullest. Remembering moments we spent with our loved ones and create new ones in this breezy spring air.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Well hello summer // Pineapples and Ice Cream Cones // This year's hot selling fabric // Summer 2015



Preparations are in order! Just two more months and we can give a warm welcome to summer 2015 and customers are already creating entire new collections of cute summer fashion for themselves and their little ones. Our head is already celebrating summer but first a little feature about this year's hot selling Little Smilemakers Designs. And so many adorable items to choose from!

This year we have some oldies that have been hitting the charts like mad. Most popular designs for this years summer have been made a while ago, some designs are made years ago. We always try to make sure to be ahead and on trend. This year all fabric hot sellers are from our Little Smilemakers golden collection. Two most popular themes: Pineapples and ice cream cones. It doesn't get more summer than that!

Brazilian influences are introduced a few years ago, not only in home decor, they now also make their way into fashion more and more. Last year tropical florals were hot sellers. Green lush and tropical flowers. Now the botanical garden and cactus theme is one of our best selling designs on fabric for this year but tropical fruit is selling like mad too this year, maybe the fruits will top the cacti heaven? We'll see. But we sure love to see all these cute items you make with our designs.



The pineapple. We have seen fluorescent and ceramic pineapples pop up in home decor magazines for the last three years and finally one of our favorite designs is picked up. This hand drawn doodle pineapple, featured here, was drawn three years ago and part of a summer garden surface pattern collection then. Two years ago the design was put on the market as fabric and this year all mom's seem to wanna have this print for their little one's shorts, leggings, head bands and tops. Since it has been our spring hot seller we have decided to add five more color schemes to the summer collection, introducing gender neutral and boy versions. So take a look!

Have you seen the Twisted Knot shorts with pineapples and water melons? They are adorable. But our most popular design this spring is the colorful ice cream cone. We have created a few different versions to choose from. Have you seen the geometric cones? You can also mix and match these ice cream illustrations with other summer prints in the same color palette. Take a look in the shop and choose your favorite print for this summer and show us your creations!

Leggings with pineapples and ice cream that are featured here can be found in the Yay for Handmade shop. The Water Melon & Pineapple shorts are made by The Twisted Knot and can also be found online.

Photography via Fotolia

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Orange // Spring in Holland // Celebrating Kingsday // How to survive as a tourist? // Here are some tips:



In about five days' time the entire country will turn orange while Dutch people celebrate Kingsday. On the 27th of April Holland celebrates the birthday of our King. All show windows, supermarked candy and fashion boutiques show off their orange collection this week. Slowly everything will turn into orange. If you are visiting Holland during this period for the first time make sure you know what to do, how to behave and what to wear.

Fleamarkeds and under age street musicians
Kingsday is the day to get rid of old junk. It is the only day of the year where you can get rid of old toys and worn down clothes and actually make money. Street musicians are everywhere sometimes 5 year old kids are playing in the street earn a little something and small games and activities are created to bring in some change to spend on candy the next day. During Kingsday most of the shops are closed. It is the biggest and most celebrated holiday of the country so businesses are shut down so everyone can celebrate this quirky day. Even the entire Royal family is out in the town to celebrate, have a drink and take part in typical Dutch games.

Beer & Orange
If you decide to celebrate Kingsday make sure you don't walk the streets on a empty stomach. Beer is served everywhere but you can see groups of people in the streets and parks drink from their own stash too, they will offer you drinks and before you know it you are struggling to stay on your feet even though it's only 2 in the afternoon.
If you like to be ridiculed on the street you should not wear orange. You will be the joke of town. Make sure you add something orange to your wardrobe. Groups of drunk Dutchies can be very enjoying when they decide you are not wearing enough of this national color. Spray paint your hair, add some orange lipstick or get yourself a cheap orange t-shirt that can be bought in every single clothing shop in the days leading to this party. If it is not over the top orange, it is not good enough!

Where to go?
Kingsday is celebrated in every city and every small town. If you are up to big parties do celebrate this day in Amsterdam. One huge mass of people will turn the city into one giant party. If you like a party but want a little escape go celebrate Kingsday in the South, Brabant. My all time favorite place in Breda. The city center turns into a dance party around noon and if you like to escape the people you can walk to the city park, do some vintage (junk) shopping and grab a drink just outside of the city center where terraces are a little more quiet.
Not good with masses of people? Go visit a small town and see how locals entertain themselves with typical Dutch games and activities on the street. Here are some very typical and interesting activities you might bump into.

Koekhappen - Cookie biting game
Your hands will be tied on your back and without any help you will have to eat and finish this traditional dutch baked cookie that is hanging on a rope just above your head. If you win, finish the cookie first, well, it is all about the honor...

Spijkerpoepen - Nail pooping game
As a kid this was my favorite game. A string holding a nail will be tied around your waist. The nail will be hanging from your back in between your legs. You will have to try and get the nail into the narrow neck of a bottle. It sounds easy but it's hard work!

Zaklopen - Walking the bag
This game is very popular among kids. You will have to crawl into an empty potato bag and run track. Walking in a bag is not easy and can be very painful and I won't recommend it. I sure don't want to break a leg during Kingsday but if you want to take the challenge, I did warn you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Japan // Land of the rising sun // top 5 things to do // a little teaspoon of creativity



My biggest source of inspiration are my travels. I love to explore new foods, cultures and dig deeper for an in dept experience of a country. Japan has been on top of my list for ages. Land of the rising sun, girls dressed up as animation characters, strict rules in public. But I wanted to experience Japan first and foremost because of it's eclectic and vivid visual culture.

Japan is a heaven for the creative eye. Fashion, architecture, graphic design, it is all very distinguished and a feast for the eyes and ears. Everything is covered with a little layer of cuteness and happy. So yes, it is about time to post a little something about this trip. Here is a top five of things to do if you would visit this amazing country.

1 // Sushi Time
I love to eat local specialties and quirky foods that other countries have to offer. Japan can be challenging for some and veggies won't be having a rich food experience here since almost every dish contains fish. You will have visit some more modern and western style restaurants to find a dish without fish or meat. But the fish is excellent. My very favorite: Tuna Sashimi. It's tender and dissolves softly on the tongue.

If you are open for new things take a risk and enjoy a piece of shark or sea cucumber. Go to a fish market where you can get small bites local merchants prepare for customers walking by. But maybe that is too big of a challenge and a sushi lunch is more your style. Take a seat in a sushi restaurant and see all delicious pieces of fish come by on ceramic plates. Enjoy a free cup of fresh green tea with your meal or drink some warm sake on a chilly day. Japanese cuisine is at times interesting but pure and delicate and so pretty on their plates. Enjoy!



2 // A night out in Tokyo
Tokyo is a city of diversity. You can find modern clubs, gay bars and of course a dozen of karaoke bars. If you'd like a night out start with a visit to the Akihabara neighborhood where you can test your luck in a game room or visit a musical performance. Then visit a karaoke bar with some friends.

If you are not the clubbing or partying type you can also visit an Onsen. A traditional Japanese spa, usually hot springs but can be artificially made too. Here you can get yourself a relaxing massage or enjoy the typical Japanese bathing ritual.

3 // Modern design & architecture
Japan offers a great mix of interesting architecture, colorful graphic design and modern fashion. You don't have to visit an art museum to get a dose of creative inspiration, it's simply everywhere. Packaging, adds, everything is colorful, illustrated and with a little touch of naivety. Logo's are usually little tiny animal characters. Instead of photography, illustrations are used to send out commercial messages. Even the food is styled and pretty.

But Japan has a rich art culture. Tokyo has some amazing art museums that are worth a visit. There are some neighborhoods where you can find some amazing street art. Creativity is everywhere.

If you are interested in modern architecture get yourself a wallpaper book about Osaka and plan a day of architectural sightseeing. Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by Japanese art, you can visit one of his structures in Tokyo: The Imperial Hotel, where you can see his love for Japan in his design. If you are curious about his love for Japan check out the documentary that was made: Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese Art by Director Ken Love.

If you are not afraid of heights you can visit Japan's tallest structure in Osaka that was opened to the public in 2014. You can visit the top of the 300m high Abeno Harukas building and watch the sunset behind the Osaka Skyline.

If you visit Tokyo visit the Ginza area and see the amazing buildings that house large western brand such as Dior and Gucci. These shops are gorgeous from the outside. So enjoy them without spending any money.

4 // Fashion. Kimono's and unicorn pants
Everywhere you go you bump into girls dressed up in kimono's. Sometimes they wear the traditional wooden footwear but I have also seen the occasional comfy sneaker under these beautiful Japanese floral textiles.

Japan has an interesting sense for fashion. On the one hand there is the traditional formal Kimono wrapped tightly in the Obi that is also used to carry belongings. And somehow every Japanese girl know how to make a Munsuko, the bow on the back. I tried but never reached a perfect knot.

During work days there is also a trick dress code. A dark suit for men and a skirt and long coat for woman. But during the weekend every outfit transforms into something unique. It is like walking the streets of Milan. Every woman looks groomed and shows off her own individual style and taste in fashion. Hello Kitty pops up everywhere and grown men carry around colorful video-game-character patterned bags. If you would like to see Harajuku Girls go visit Takeshita Dori, a pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques where you can find typical Harajuku style clothes, candy shops, cafes and restaurants.



5 // Cherry Blossom, mountains and national parks
Japanese cities are amazing and can be very crowded so if you have some time to travel around go hike in the mountains. Fuji is just around the corner of Tokyo and there are several National Parks that are worth a visit too. During April you can also see the famous cherry blossom bloom.

Japanese vegetation is like no other. There are numerous garden's which you can visit inside and outside of the cities. Usually temples and palaces are surrounded by lush green gardens and pastel colored cherry blossom in spring. It is breath taking and you can see Japanese people also enjoy these amazing gardens and parks to the fullest.

I had the opportunity to visit a small village near the old postal route. The homes are more traditional, the people are friendly and it is a breath of fresh air that is very welcome after inhaling the moist atmosphere in the subway tunnels while visiting the cities.

Nara National park is not so much a hike in nature but a green lush park with temples. The main attraction is the Todai-ji temple where the largest wooden structure even built houses an enormous Buddha statue. Know that this is a very popular place that is packed with the sacred deer that will eat your green tea ice cream when you look the other way. It is funny to see all tourist struggle with these spoiled animals.

Of course we are already working on Japanese inspired artwork. New Mother's Day postcards, new Geisha fabric. Stay tuned and follow our Little Smilemakers Facebook Page.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // April 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing. Look at our new April selection here. This is our top five for this month.



We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. This month we made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs and head bands. So much to choose from!

If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. The penguins are made by Sharie who has a few more Little Smilemakers Studio designs in her Little Pitterpat etsy shop. Some of these soft sole baby shoes even have matching hats. Adorable! So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these.

It is almost bikini time! Spring has kicked in and we are all looking forward to the summer season. The cactus print has been one of our best-selling designs this year. Looking for a quirky swimsuit? Check the Batoko shop.

And what about these hot pink pineapple head bands. Want to match your outfit with your little one? These head bands are available for both babies and their mommies and are made by Krystle Dawn. Her collection is fresh, colorful and fun. Visit her adorable shop and look what other cute designs she has to offer.

We are already working on a third batch of designs for My Little Hands Australia but we were big fans of this stylish bedroom with the beautiful white Kartell bedside table and adorable bunny that was styled by L'Amour Kids. And yes, we still love our minty clouds blanket. Looking sharp!



Our favorite this month must be this mustard colored deer dress made by Eva Dinis. We came across this finished sewing project when she tagged us on Instagram. Look at this gorgeous woman modeling our deer print. Of course we love the typical Lisbon tiles in the back. Bright, sunny and colorful. She did an great job! Hope to see more Little Smilemakers creations made by this talented girl.

All featured designs are also available via Spoonflower. Some are scaled and slightly different in detailing. Looking for one of the featured designs? Here are the links:

Cute penguin owl illustration pattern
Cactus cacti garden botanical green pattern
Hot summer pineapple pink trend
Geometric pastel sleepy blue sky cloud pattern
Cute uni kids reindeer antlers deer