Fleecydale Farm
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This house is where my creative journey began - even before I knew it.

I was always the kind of person who would learn anything if the occasion called for it. Particularly at my old job at a women’s high end luxury boutique, where I managed every single creative endeavor, decision, or back of house procedure that operated out of that building. We need a new website? Great, I’ll build it. You want email blasts? I’ll learn how to code HTML. You need a photographer? I’ll get a camera and figure it out. I still live like this pretty much, but I love it. It makes me feel like I am capable of anything, and I always love to learn.

My first photoshoot ever was at this house. A dear friend’s parents’ home in Carversville, PA. It’s a winding labyrinth of rooms and historic charm. This isn’t Joanna Gaines’ farm house (sorry Jojo), this is the real deal. This is it. They just don’t make them like this anymore. The bones of this place are as real and genuine as the people living inside. Caretakers of a historic gem. It was my honor to spend some time capturing the charm of this house.

Margaret Perkins
Sticks and Stones Jewelry
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I was enlisted by Blonde & Blue Boutique to photograph this creative endeavor the other weekend right here in our beautiful city with Sticks Stones Style jewelry.

We ran around the city to all my favorite spots to shoot several looks with these bold jewelry pieces. I pulled clothes that would convey the sophisticated side of the brand, while still being true to its edgy and alluring protagonist. I had several items in my wardrobe that I knew we absolutely had to use for this shoot. The piece I was most excited about was this gorgeous watercolor slip dress from Vince. I’ve worn it to countless weddings and events, and while I’m not much for prints, it as an allure that constantly keeps me coming back to it.

@alyssanichele, our model, was a total natural. A beauty, and a pleasure to work with on and off set. She made my job so so easy, and was willing to do anything we asked.

@madmakeupofficial and @cswope425 absolutely nailed the hair and makeup look for the day. They perfectly executed a smokey, sultry sophistication. I wanted to be Alyssa so badly, looking fierce and effortlessly cool - she looked better in my clothes than I did!  

I made us a brunch reservation at Wm. Mulherin’s, a moody modern spot around the corner in Fishtown. Next was Suraya, I knew the back garden would be empty because it was a particularly cloudy, chilly day. After a quick pit stop to change outfits, I took the crew over to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I had been there the previous day to scope it out, and find the perfect spots for the shoot. I loved the colors of the exterior, the Versailles like flooring, and the odd creatures carved into the fountain. It had enough negative space, without taking away from the overall impact that would come out of the photographs. The lighting was perfect, the columns were vast and lonely. And that slip dress needed a moment.

Locations in order:

Wm. Mulherin’s & Sons | Philadelphia Museum of Art | Suraya | Jinxed

Featured Designers: Sticks and Stones Jewelry | Watercolor slip dress - Vince | Boots - Saint Laurent | Trench coat - Helmut Lang

Margaret Perkins
Lindley Gray Jewelry | Still Life Shoot
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It’s amazing how the creative community brings people together. Lindley found my postcard at a local shop we both sell to. We met for coffee. We started talking about her brand, her vision, and her goals, and the rest came together so naturally. It’s such a blessing finding like minded, creative individuals who appreciate your vision, and share an aesthetic. These photos are the product of our still life shoot that Lindley and I did in her apartment. Her jewelry is unlike anything I’ve seen on the market. You can see the woman behind the design, and each piece of jewelry is made for women who take the time to be their own best friend.

You can find more about Lindley and her luxury jewelry here.

Margaret Perkins
New Hope Cottage
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My first product shoot and first collaboration happened at this charming cottage in New Hope, PA. It’s a very special place for so many. One simply needs to gaze upon its exterior to be completely transfixed. The inside is even more spectacular, each detail in every corner carefully considered. While small, it is significant. The beans on the ceiling, the stone work around the fireplaces, the wide floor boards.. all lend to its splendor and charm.

These photos were possible with the staging and styling of Tina Vaughn. Photos by Margaret Perkins of Haus of HIraeth.

Margaret Perkins
Still Life with Cocktails
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One evening I scoured through my mother’s glassware. Gifts that were given to her at her wedding, family heirlooms, things she saved for when she was young and had her first apartment. Simple, clean, and elegant. The beehive was a gift from a friend, and a treasured item in my home.

Margaret Perkins
An English Dinner Party Playlist
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A new season and new inspiration calls for a new playlist! This photoshoot evoked all the countryside vibes, so I created the perfect playlist to embody the day.

Head over to the playlist on Spotify and have a listen to my 'English Dinner Party' playlist. It's got all the harpsichord and merry country violins. Think Mozart, wigs, Mr. Darcy, Downton Abbey, and all the aristocratic goals.

Creative director: Ali Conn, Blonde and Blue Boutique

Pastry: Annalise Crespo

Location, Styling, Photography: Haus of Hiraeth

Margaret Perkins
Welcome to Haus of Hiraeth
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Welcome to Haus of Hiraeth, my friends!  After much debate and inner turmoil, I decided it was best for me to go with a name that best suited me and my business.  I had been wanting to change the name of  my business for a while, but having to get new business cards, post cards, a new url, change alllll my Pinterest pins, and such held me back for a bit, but happily there are no regrets, and I am excited to embark on a new journey with a new name!

One thing I never expected to do in my life was to start a business.  Can anyone else relate!?  I was always a "play it safe" kind of person, happy to go with the flow, clock in, clock out, repeat.  However, I kept envisioning this other version of myself, a 'dream life', and the path I was on was not going to get me from point A to point B.  

I needed to stop waiting for others to take care of me, and realized that I had to make my dreams happen.  One of my favorite quotes to this day is by Mark Duplass, a horror film director.  He sums up this entire notion into one simple moment of clarity…

 "The calvary isn't coming".  In other words, nothing will happen unless I make it happen.  No one will make my dreams come true.  No one will hand me the life that I want.  No one will value me, unless I value myself.  

I naively lived my life waiting for someone to come along and give me my big break, or offer me their coattails that I could ride into safety and security.  But when I heard Mark Duplass say that, it hit home and made me stand up, and take charge of my destiny for the first time in my life.      

My journey started with a shop.  A small shop, making things I knew I could make well, and selling them.  After a brief stint in that world, I knew that this wasn't what I wanted to do full time.  

The act of practicing a craft or making something by hand is one thing, but getting out there and selling it is a whole different experience.  My experience with craft shows has been, well, sadly not so pleasant I’m sorry to say.  

I would leave shows feeling defeated, completely drained, resentful, and feeling extremely small.  Not understanding why my beautiful things didn’t sell, or having to justify my prices to complete strangers who weren’t my ideal client anyways.  

I knew I had more to offer... a different part of my creativity that needed to come out, and so I knew I needed to make a change.  

I noticed the way people responded to my photography, more than the actual pieces themselves.  My photos sparked emotive responses from people, and I found myself dreaming of photoshoots rather than craft shows.

So, what will I be doing!?  I will be servicing other small businesses in the Philadelphia/Bucks County/Central Jersey area, helping them grow their businesses with photography, graphic design, social media management, branding, and so much more!  

That being said, hit me up if there’s something I can do for your or if you’d be interested in working together.  Even if you need to sit down over a cup of Earl Gray and hash some things out and bounce ideas around, feel free to contact me here.  You may have also noticed that I have listed my Photography and Services here online, so feel free to have a browse on those as well and contact me if you see something you like!

XO,

Margaret

Margaret Perkins
How To Ace Your Next Interview

Guys... I get it.  You’re burnt out.  You need to make a change.  Maybe you know exactly where you want to work and what you want to do.  Maybe you just NEED to get out of your current work situation, but you’re unsure of what you should be doing next. 

I was there.  I was burnt out at a job that I felt like I didn’t belong in anymore.  I felt that I had given it all I had, and there was nothing left.  I didn’t know what I wanted, I just knew what I didn’t want, and I knew what I could do, which for me was the first step in moving on.  That was motivation enough for me to brush up my resume, and start searching. 

I spent years interviewing around, looking for my perfect fit.  I’ve been elated and then let down so many times.  I would always get my hopes up when I saw a beautiful office building, or envisioned myself at a beautiful desk that I walked by on the way to the conference room. 

On top of the emotional roller coaster that is job searching, I’ve also made many silly mistakes that I'm sure were a contributing factor to not getting the job 9/10 times.  But I've learned a lot from those mistakes, and luckily learned them just in time to find the dreamiest job and to actually get that job! 

So now I’m here to help YOU get that job, and put your best foot forward as you begin your job hunt journey.  I’ve complied a massive list of everything I’ve learned in my years of job hunting.  These are all things I've learned the hard way.  Some of these things are common sense, but other things often times didn't hit me until after the interview like a ton of bricks, and then send me into a downward spiral of despair and self loathing. 

I am a person who is just naturally bad at interviewing.  I am awkward.  I am self conscious.  And for a while, it showed!  And to be honest, a lot of my experience in nailing interviews just came with time and practice.  However, I wish that someone had told me all these things BEFORE I went into the interview room.  It probably would have saved me a lot of time and heartache.  But fear not, I'm here to tell you all of the job-landing things.

Please keep in mind that these are merely suggestions, and one size doesn’t fit all.  Not all of these rules apply for every position that you may come across, but all of these suggestions can be tweaked and tailored to suit you, your personality, and be applicable to the career field of your choice.  Keep on reading, there's a free resume template download in here to help you get started!

DO

1.  Do make a bundle for your interviewer to hold on to containing:

          A Resume - keep to one page!  Duh, right?  We've all heard that one before, but I can't tell you how many 2, 3, even 5 page resumes I've come across in my short little working life!  Your resume should be clean, easy to read, no crazy fonts or bright colors, and as professionally unique as it can be.  I've included a link to download a FREE resume template here, just to help you get started!  You can change it up, customize it, and make it your own by changing around the fonts and colors.  

          References - You should have at least 5, solid. professional references that your prospective employer can contact.  Include name, relationship, their position, company they work for, email, and phone number.  Remember, ALWAYS ask someone's permission to list them as a reference before giving out their contact info.  There is a references page template in the free download here.

          Cover letter - Your cover letter should be no more than one page.  Better yet, make it half a page.  People are busy, and you need to get to the point with an eye catching, easy to read cover letter that briefly describes yourself, your qualifications, and why you are an ideal candidate for this job.  I've included an example cover letter in the free download, here.

          Business card - You should always have a business card handy, and especially at an interview.  Even though you already have your resume with your contact info on it, it can never hurt to throw in a beautiful, striking business card.  

2.  Do follow up by sending a ‘Thank you’ email THAT DAY. 

It doesn’t have to be the moment you get home, but make sure you send it before the end of the day.  It could give you a bit of an edge over other applicants that may wait a day or two before saying thank you.  A few ‘Thank you’ email subject lines I like…

  • Inspired. Thank you!

  • I enjoyed our conversation today, thank you!

  • Thank you, [name]!

3.  Do Make an ‘Art Card’ to send in the mail

Now this isn’t applicable to everyone, but if you’re a designer, illustrator, or any kind of creative, it’s a good idea to make an ‘Art Card’, AKA a post card with some of your work on the front of it to mail to your interviewer after your interview.  Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note.  They will definitely appreciate the effort, and they may hang on to it to pin on their mood board or desk if they like the design on the front!  I guarantee you will most likely be the only person they interview that will send an original, beautiful hand written card as a thank you for their time.  Win win.

4. Do be ready with a solid answer for the awful “So tell me a little bit about yourself” icebreaker that they always start with

And don't just talk about your career and education.  Show a little more of yourself!  Let them see how cool you are, and why they should bring you into their company culture!  Here's example...

"I'm Margaret, I grew up in Titusville New Jersey, and currently live in Northern LIberties in Philly.  My passion for lived space and architecture came from my dad, who is an architect and designed the house that I grew up in.  My interest for interior design and lived space was recognized at an early early age, but I also loved art, fashion, photography, and so many different avenues.  I decided to study textile design in college, as it seemed to merge all of my interests into one field.  After college, I grew into a graphic design/marketing/ecommerce position for a fashion company, and realized it wasn’t for me.  It's taken a lot of personal growth to make the decision to change my path and try something new, but I am taking it head on and am so excited to be here today!  In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, ballet, and I have a thing where I only can use white post it notes.  I also have a fat, black cat named Liam who is salty and perfect.

5.  Do prep yourself by practicing answering some interview questions that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. 

I always do this exercise before an interview.  It's a good way to stretch the muscles on questions you may think you know the answer to, but when you're face-to-face with another human you may stutter or stumble over them.  Here are some examples of questions employers may ask during an interview:

  • What are your strengths?

    • What are your weaknesses?

    • Why are you interested in working for [company] ?

    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

    • Why do you want to leave your current job?

    • What can you offer us that someone else can not?

    • What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

    • Tell me about some accomplishments you are most proud of, personally and professionally.

    • Tell me about a time you made a mistake, and what you did to make it right.

    • What is your dream job?

    • What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

    • Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.

    • Why should we hire you?

    • Why are you looking for a new job?

    • Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

    • Give an example of a luxury experience?

    • What is your favorite [said company] core value?

    • What are some of your personal core values?

    • How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?

    • Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

    • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.

    • How do you handle pressure?

    • What are your career goals?

    • What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?

    • If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he/she say?

    • Are you a leader or a follower?

    • What is your favorite website/brand/influencer/designer?

    • What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?

6.  Do get a manicure (if you’re a lady OR a gentleman too!)

Clean hands and clean feet are a necessity for life.  Un kept fingernails say a lot.  It’s a subtle detail that goes a long way.  No matter what you do, DO NOT show up with chipped nail polish.  Bare nails are better than chipped nails.  And if you're a lady, and you plan on wearing open toe shoes, GET A PEDICURE.  Gentlemen, do not wear sandals to an interview - ever.  It is probably just best not to show feet at all, some people are weird about feet.  

7.  Do plan your outfit the night before

Steam it.  Give your shoes a good shine, make sure there’s no mud caked on the heel of your pumps, or stains on your clothes.  Un kept clothing also says a lot about a person.  If your dress or pants are wrinkled, or your sweater is pilled, or even if you’re outfit is just ill-fitting, it’ll make an impression that you definitely don’t want.  Especially if you’re interviewing for a job which puts you in front of people, or meeting with clients.  Don’t pooh pooh this – clothes and tidiness can make or break a first impression.  Also make sure you're comfortable in whatever you're wearing.  When I'm not 100% confident in what I'm wearing, it affects my entire mood 

8.  Do show up early

If you’re more than 10 minutes early, hang out at Starbucks.  Finish up a podcast in your car.  Just don’t be late!

9.  Do look them in the eye

I know I have a hard time doing this especially when I’m super nervous, but practice on a friend or your husband/wife the night before.  Strong eye contact shows confidence and gumption.  Dodgy eye contact is also a tip off to an interviewer that you may not be entirely honest about something, and you certainly don't want to give that impression! 

10.  Do be honest – tastefully honest

“My biggest weakness is that I work TOO hard”.  Pssshh… you’re not fooling anyone.  If someone said that to me during an interview, I would 100% not hire them.  BE HONEST!  If someone asks you what your biggest weakness is, tell them, but follow up with what you have done / what you’re currently doing to better yourself in that department.  Example: “My biggest weakness is that I take things too personally.  It’s something I’m still working on, however I’ve really done a lot of work on myself internally to recognize that I’m not perfect, and that the constructive criticism is coming from a good place, to help me not to hurt me.  I want to better myself, and be a strong link for the company I work for and represent, and I know now that I won’t achieve my goals unless I receive help from my superiors.  I also realized that quite often, the time I spent obsessing over how a situation made me feel, when I could have been spent rectifying the situation and moving on from it.”

11.  Do Come prepared with questions

NOTHING looks worse to a prospective employer when you have zero questions for them after the interview.  Here are some basic, but solid questions you can ask when they hit you with that dreaded, “So, do you have any questions for me?”

  • First, have I answered all of your questions?

  • Who is your ideal candidate, and how do I compare?

  • Who would I report to? What is the pecking order?

  • How has this position evolved and how to the people who hold this position evolve?

  • How would you describe the company's culture?

  • What do you like most about working for this company?

  • What are the challenges of this position?

  • If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?

  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

  • What's one of the most interesting projects or opportunities that you've worked on?

  • Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?

  • Can you tell me one fun fact about how this company got started?

12.  Do research them, and the industry to death

There have been times when I've been asked to name some companies related to my field that I liked for their aesthetics, but I didn't research them well enough before hand to know that they had bad ethos/business practices etc.  Do your research, especially if you're applying to be in any kind of creative field or position.  Also, keep in mind that creative industries are extremely close knit, and that everyone knows practically everyone.  Refrain from badmouthing another company or CEO.    

13.  Do remember that people want to work with people they like.  

This is a big one.  At the end of the day, people want a person who is a team player, easy to get along with, generally pleasant, and probably with a good sense of humor too.  With that in mind, it's time to slap on a smile, leave the attitude at the door, along with any arrogant or entitled feelings you may have, and just be yourself.  I know this is hard to do when you're nervous.  But if you can let them see the real you, on top of all your qualifications, it's a slam dunk.  However, if they just don't like you, that's fine, and it is probably for the best anyway.  

DON’T

1.  Don’t Say ‘like’, ‘um’, or any other filler words

I was called out on this by someone that interviewed me and it stung when I heard that.  However, it’s the best advice I ever received.  It scared me sober, so to say.  I used to say ‘like’ wayyyy too much.  It was such an embedded habit that I didn’t even know I was doing it.  It’s something I’m hyper conscious of now, and it’s also something I notice in other people too.  To put it bluntly, it sounds uneducated, it sounds immature, and it just sounds unprofessional.  Here’s a few videos I watched to help me kick that bad habit.  I hope this helps you rid filler words from your vocabulary once and for all! 

2.  Don’t give any indication that you may be unsure whether or not you want this job

One of the worst mistakes I ever made was telling an interviewer that I wasn't sure if I'd take the job if I got it.  It sounds so obvious when you say it out loud, but hear me out.  Sometimes we give subtle clues to prospective employers that we may not be digging the position, the office space, the pay, the whatever.  Be careful of your body language and facial expressions when they say something you may not want to hear/like.  Do your best to remain enthusiastic and positive throughout the interview.  If they give you the job, you can always politely decline.  However, you may have blown an amazing opportunity by giving the impression that you're above the position, or that it's too low paying, or whatever ruffles your feathers.  

3.  Don’t look at your phone

Even while you’re waiting.  Don’t even touch it.  And pleaseeee make sure you turn your phone OFF before going in to the interview.

4.  Don’t say, “No, I don’t have any questions!” When they ask that at the end

Trust me, they will ask.  And trust me, you do NOT want to tell them you don’t have any questions to close the interview with.  If you end the interview without asking them any questions, this always tells the future employer that you didn’t research them.  Or that you don’t care.  Or it will really make it blatantly obvious that you’re nervous and can’t wait to get the hell out of that conference room.  (I posted some example questions earlier in the blog post!  Scroll on up.)

5.  Don’t lie

Of course we want to make ourselves look good to a perspective employer, and we may stretch the truth justttt a tiny bit on some of our experience.  Like Excel (I still watch YouTube videos on how to do formulas).  But don’t lie about circumstances, don’t make up stories, don’t say you know how to use InDesign if you don’t.  Our body language when we lie is blatantly obvious, and a really intuitive person will be able to pick up on that and know that you’re not being 100% truthful.  It will also just give the interviewer weird vibes about you, and you don’t want that.  So just be honest, and resist the urge to stretch the truth on certain topics.  You also have no idea who knows who.  So just be careful.     

6.  Don’t bash your previous or current employer

It’s in bad taste.  Even if the person interviewing you is totally cool and would probably understand, just resist the urge to be transparent in that regard.  Talking sh*& on your previous employer just puts a bad taste in people’s mouths and could give the impression that you could be untrustworthy by giving this kind of info during a first meeting.  

7.  Don’t shy away from telling them what you want in terms of salary and benefits -  If they ask! 

IF THEY ASK YOU, don’t say, “I’m negotiable”, or “I’m not sure, what do you normally pay someone in this position?”  I KNOW that talking dollah billz is uncomfortable, and trust me we all hate it.  But going in confidently knowing what you want, and not being shy to let them know what you need is going to serve you well in the end.  

If they do not ask what your salary requirements are, don't panic.  It's not a bad sign, it's just usually more of a 2nd or 3rd interview question.  The first interview is a hand shake, the second or third interview is getting serious.  I asked about salary during a first interview once and the guy looked so taken aback I thought I had just insulted his mother.  It didn't occur to me that I was out of line, or asking anything unreasonable, but it just wasn't the right time.  So resist the urge to ask about it until a later interview.  If they bring you back for another interview, you know that they like you, and are serious enough to talk money and benefits.

Whew!  That was a lot of info.  But I hope that some of this information can be useful.  Most of these things are blatantly obvious, but sometimes we all need a good reminder from time to time.  Interviewing has never come naturally for me, and I envy people who can just breeze on in and confidently talk about themselves!  In my case, I had to practice that in order to land my dream job - the one I currently have!  And I wasn't perfect in that interview at all - but I was definitely well prepared. 

I probably wouldn't have gotten it if I came in trying to wing it.  So I encourage you to practice answering questions, brush up your documents, find that perfect outfit that you'll be comfortable and confident in, and just speak your truth and be your best, authentic self.  Because you're pretty cool!  In case you missed it, don't forget to download my FREE resume, cover letter, and reference template package to help you get started!

Good luck, you got this!

*Disclaimer: this information is not professional advice, and I also cannot guarantee any kind of success or gain from this information.*

Margaret Perkins
Self Love

Stop Criticism

Criticism doesn’t change anything about your present circumstances, or when an event has occurred. Accept yourself. Everybody changes throughout their life, but adding criticism into the mix makes the change negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

Don’t Make Yourself Anxious

Terrorizing yourself with your thoughts only leads you further down a dark, twisted path. Especially if you’re worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. Instead, do things or think things that bring yourself comfort, and switch out the scary thoughts with pleasant, centering ones.

Give Yourself Grace

You don’t have to be a vision of grace all the time. Absorbing people’s content online and via Instagram so frequently can make us feel less-than, or that we need our entire lives to reflect our highlight reel. Remember that no one’s life is perfect, and that you are more than your Instagram feed.

You Are Not a Number

You are not the number in your bank account, or the number of followers you have on Instagram. Remember that.

Support Yourself

Keep your friends closer. Reach out to them, and to family when things get tough. It shows strength to ask for help. Do what you need to do to help yourself. Unfollow that person on Instagram that is making you feel less-than. Spend less time with people who suck you dry. Surround yourself with things that bring you peace.

Mirror, Mirror

Look into your own eyes often. Learn the behaviors and emotions that your face embodies. Say ‘I love you’.

Margaret Perkins
9 Ways to Elevate your Space
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1.  Build a Gallery Wall

Rip out some pages of an old book, frame your favorite photographs, make a collage, or frame some beautiful sketches, or hang some found objects. 

My gallery wall is a combination of photography I love, some found objects I’ve saved, and some art that I’ve picked up from flea markets and estate sales. 

Images left to right: Jersey Ice Cream Co., Unknown/Pinterest, Havenly, Unknown/Pinterest

2.  Use Appropriate Sized Rugs

It’s better to have no rug at all than to have one that doesn’t appropriately fit your space.  There’s nothing worse than seeing a rug that just barely fits under the coffee table it’s paired with, or a runner that’s too small to make sense for the space it’s occupying.  If it’s a matter of money, save up for the bigger size, and don’t go with the smaller size to just save $50.  It’s so worth it in the end, and really makes a huge impact on a room.

Images left to right: Jersey Ice Cream Co., Unknown/Pinterest, Havenly, Unknown/Pinterest

3.  Get Proper Drapes

Time to throw away those dinky little Target tension rods and the curtains you had in your college apartment.  Window treatments are the jewelry of the room, and drab curtains can really put a wet blanket on the whole vibe of your space.  Heavy drapes, or layered curtains and sophisticated hardware help make the space look more thoughtful and mature. I feel like the art of good drapery has been lost of late, and I think it’s time to revive it!

Images left to right: Unknown/Pinterest, Unknown/Pinterest, Unknown/Pinterest, Ashli Mizell

4. Step up your Lighting Game

Lighting becomes increasingly important as you begin to dress your nest! Investing in statement pieces for your home will bring years of enjoyment, and will have a large impact on the overall feeling of your space. Spend some time researching some local makers or small businesses that create hand crafted lighting. There may be a long lead time since most small businesses create things by hand and are made to order, but believe me, it’s worth it! For so many years I hung on to lamps I had from Ikea or Target that I got in college just because they were there and they got the job done. But after looking at them, I realized I REALLY didn’t even like them! I’ve been slowly adding some more refined lighting to my home.

Images left to right: Natalie Page, Lostine, Jenny Wolf Interiors (Robert True Ogden lamp), Lindsey Adelman

5.  Display your Kitchen Tools

Utility meets provincial life when you display your cookware and cleaning supplies! I love a good storage solution, so I would recommend getting some pot racks, peg racks, a ladder, a wall organizer, or something that can easily hang on your wall and provide ultimate storage!  Here are some ideas to get you started. 

Images left to right: Jersey Ice Cream Co., Dehn Bloom Design, Marjorie Skouras, Beth Kirby

6.  Mix High and Low

Not everything in your home needs to be by Eames or Nakashima, but it shouldn’t all be Ikea either.  Hold out for a few special pieces, or ardent finds at an antique store that are really special, and then use the rest of your budget to fill in the cracks.  For example, maybe you have a beautiful, basic couch from Wayfair or Joss & Main, but you have a few really nice throw pillows, an antique coffee table, or a gorgeous Moroccan rug.  Mix things up!  You don’t want your space to feel too cheap and generic, yet you don’t want it to scream “I’m trying too hard” if everything you have is brand name or on the higher end side of the spectrum.  Trust me, nothing screams desperation (and dare I say bad taste!) than decking out your home with all brand names.  It totally has the opposite effect. 

Images left to right: The Aesthetic Eye/Lucie, Unknown/Pinterest, Khoury Vogt Architects, Garden & Gun

7.  Add Texture

Have a few fantastic throws, some Icelandic sheepskins, leather accents, or some fiber wall hangings in your space. 

Images left to right: Shade Degges Photography, Unknown/Pinterest, The Hiraeth Collection, Farmhouse Pottery



8. Paint or Wallpaper

A coat of paint can do WONDERS for your home.  I recommend white, black, gray, or a neutral color, but you can have fun with blues, greens, and pinks as well. Plaster is also having a moment. It can be pretty expensive to have it done, but Benjamin Moore makes one that you can do easily at home yourself with a few coats. If you’re not allowed to paint if you’re renting, like me, I love using adhesive wall paper to spruce up a space.  Here are some of my favorite ideas!

Images left to right: Leone Design Studio, Jersey Ice Cream Co., Jersey Ice Cream Co., John Saladino

9.  Update your Hardware

Hardware is a simple solution to add a little more personality to a space.  It’s such a subtle but significant detail. Give your old dresser a bit of a makeover, or add some personality to your kitchen cabinets or bathroom.  Change out the switch plate on your wall, or add some hooks that are functional, yet beautiful. If you’re renting, just save the old hardware and be sure to put it back before you go.  Here are some of my favorite options!

Images left to right: Lostine, Uni,, Jeron Van de Gruitter, Matureware

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Perkins
A Hygge Holiday Gift Guide
Margaret Perkins
5 Lies That Held me Back from Starting my Business

1. There’s already so many makers

I was haunted by something I heard back in college by a fashion designer I shall remain nameless.  They had said that it would be impossible for young people to break into the design world, because all good design has already been pioneered, and that it would be suicide to enter into a creative field as a designer, because everything we make will be a copy of a copy. 

I believed this to be true for a long time, until I opened my eyes and realized that this notion is utter rubbish.  You know what I say to that fashion designer? 

BRING IT.  Bring me the challenges.  Bring me the difficult design decisions.  FORCE me to be innovative. 

Dealing with an oversaturated market actually enables me to pioneer and generate good, original work.  I think that most people these days are afraid of young people, because we are basically forced to figure things out for ourselves in every aspect of life, and we are pretty darn good at it.  ( Especially since millennials are getting screwed over every which way, but that’s another rant for a different day).  

2.  I can’t afford it

While this is certainly valid, and it did keep me from starting for a very long time, I’m not letting this stop me now. 

It was very hard to not go hog wild in the beginning and buy all of the things once I had an EIN because you can “expense that”.  (Ok, well, maybe I DID buy a few props for styling my shoots).  However, I did have to start my business off in the red.  And while that’s not fun, I have no regrets about it. 

When you make product, it’s almost near impossible to not start out with a little debt.  I’m not justifying it by any means, but you can be smart about it.  Smart enough to not let it hold you back.  I started my business with a very clear vision and plan to break even the first year, and turn a profit the second year.  I had savings that I put towards it, and I have a separate savings account that I contribute to every single week that is solely for my business.  I make sure I pay my business credit card off every month.  In full.  So if you’re looking to start any kind of business, keep these 3 things in mind:

  • You do not need everything, right at the beginning. It’s SO tempting to buy all the things when you’re starting out.  A new desk chair, a brand new camera, “props”, a new outfit for your Instagram profile picture… believe me, I get it!  And I can justify any purchase all day long.  But that’s how debt happens.  Debt that can take years to come back from.  And trust me, that new outfit is not worth it.  So start small.  Start with what you have.  Invest where it matters, and you can always upgrade later. 

  • Cover your bases. It’s important to make sure that you are making enough or have enough saved to cover your basic needs, like insurance, your LLC, your product costs, craft show costs, your website domain, etc.  (AKA, your fixed expenses).  If you have any left over, think about investing it back into your business before buying something fun. 

  • Save, save, save. I play a game with myself that my savings account has to be an even number.  Every week, I deposit my paycheck into my bank account, as well as a portion of everything I sold that week online, or at craft shows.  If after all the deposits have been made, let’s say my new savings balance is $1,852.91 (arbitrary number).  I will then deposit an additional $47.09 so that my balance is an even $1,900.  It’s the little bit that adds up.  Over time, you’ll be surprised how much you can save just by rounding up! Believe me, you can still save money and start a new business.

3.   I’m not smart enough

This is the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself.  And I think it’s the biggest lie you may be telling yourself too. 

I never saw myself as someone with a “head for business”, and so I just never thought I was cut out for it.  I was very happy working for other people, and doing what I was told, because it was easier.  It is way easier to show up at 9, do what you’re told, leave at 5, and not have to think about it again until 9 the next day. 

After a while I realized that this way of life didn’t fill my cup.  I kept dreaming about what I would do if I had my own business, and that’s when it hit me, I can do this

I paid a visit to Magnolia Market last year in Waco, TX, for their annual Silobration.  Yes, I am a complete Fixer Upper fan girl, even though I don’t love shiplap or rustic décor, I have always admired Chip and Joanna for what they have accomplished and who they are as people. 

I stood on the grounds there in Texas on a hot October day and I thought, “If they can do this, I can do this”.  I still believe I can do this, and I prove to myself every single day that I can. 

Self doubt still creeps in and tells me that I’m in over my head and that I don’t know what I’m doing.  Quite frankly, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.  But, there’s the internet and Youtube for the things I don’t know how to do, and there’s an amazing community of creatives that I’ve chosen to surround myself with that lift each other up and help each other get through it all. 

#risingtidesliftall

4.  I don’t have the time

Do I wish there were more hours in the day?  Abso-freakin-lutely. 

However, I was able to change my mindset surrounding this notion that I “couldn’t possibly” run a business, work full time, meal prep, spend time with my boyfriend, see my friends, work out, and keep my house clean.

It all sounds pretty overwhelming when you think about everything you could be spending your time doing.  I get it.  But what helped me eventually get over that hump was when I decided to make my business a priority, but also not let it rule my entire life. 

The world won’t implode if I don’t post on Instagram today.  If I want to take a day off to have some me time on the weekend, or go to New York for the day with Jon, or go see my family, I’m going to do that. 

Conversely, I can’t always go home after work and be a couch potato, no matter how much I want to.  But nothing will happen unless you make it happen.  The Calvary isn’t coming.   

5. I’ll never “make it”

…is the biggest lie because..

1) There is always room at the top, and

2) no one started there. 

Also, “making it” looks different for everyone.

 

Margaret Perkins
A Ghoulish Gathering Playlist
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It’s finally October. Nothing helps me get in a cozy mood more than moody, creepy, and nostalgic tunes. I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite moody and spooky music that I play constantly during the fall, even beyond Halloween! It’s a good one, go ahead and give it a listen here.

Margaret Perkins
Curating Your Dream Instagram Feed Without The Stress
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The IG struggle is real.  The side hustle is real.  I hate the word hustle, but you know what, it’s very real. 

Did you know that our human brains only have enough bandwidth to make 120 crucial decisions a day?  Many people decide to eliminate some of that by wearing the same thing every day, (i.e. Steve Job’s with the closet full of black tees), or creating a daily routine and planning ahead so that you don’t have to scramble yourself together later on. 

I decided I was going to tackle my Instagram feed and make it actually fun, and not another added stress that I didn’t need! 

Instagram is a valuable tool, but it shouldn’t consume you, cause you stress, or make you anxious.  Period.  So to make my little IG life easier, I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to planning out my feed.

1. Post Only Your Best

My first rule of thumb is to post only my best work.  And sure, I’m still learning, and my best isn’t perfect, but I get better and better with each post and learn so much every time I snap my camera. 

There have been so many photos that were great contenders for the gram, but did not end up there, simply because they aren’t amazing, in my opinion. 

These days everything is so saturated, that photos need to really wow me in order to make me stop scrolling and "tap-tap" a photo. 

I need a wow factor in order to make me really engage with a photo, but I need a photo to SPEAK to me, in order to make me want to hit the purchase button on a product. 

You don't get a dollar for every follower, but your photography is an investment worth making in the long run.    

 

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2. Pick a Pattern

I use a “grid” system when planning out my photo, making every other photo either light or dark to create a nice balance when you’re scrolling. Since most of my photos are dark to begin with, I make sure every other photo is black, or very very dark, compared to its two neighbors.

 

3. Discover and Define your Style

I hone in on a particular style and stick to it.  This is key especially if you’re curating products for a brand. 

I love mid century design personally, but that doesn’t really tie in to my brand at all.  I love so many different styles of design, photography and art, but I decided on really simplistic, natural, antiqued, emotive, and provincial decor, locations, and content, that services Hiraeth in the best way. 

To help me stay inspired, I am always scouring Pinterest for beautiful interiors, vignettes, and colors that really speak to me.  

4. Choose a Palette

I have a palette for my feed that I never deviate away from.  My palette is black, gray, white, and blue, with flashes of blush pink, green, copper, brass, and sometimes a little yellow candlelight. 

If a photo I take doesn’t only contain these colors, it doesn’t go on my feed. 

I may use that photo on my website for a product description, in a blog post, and on Pinterest, so it definitely doesn’t go to waste! 

I tend to alternate between posts with pops of color, and more monochrome photos to help balance out the feed.

Here's some examples of photos I've taken that have intentional pops of color

And here's some photos I've taken that are a bit more monochromatic, but still align with my base and accent colors so that my feed stays cohesive.  

  

5. Plan it in Advance

I use Planoly to help me figure out exactly how I want my feed to look, and I can plan and schedule IG posts weeks in advance so that I don’t have to have the, “What do I post today?” and “What do I say”? conversations with myself. 

Planoly has been a huge game changer for me and my business.  I would not be able to achieve the visual impact that I want to without it.  

*not sponsored at all, I genuinely adore Planoly and couldn't run my business without it*

6.  Be Selective

I share just enough.  For now at least. 

It really helps me when I’m struggling for a caption or content to write about. 

I am a HUGE fan of Jenna Kutcher, and her “Jenna Kutcher Five” method really helped me hone in on what to post about. 

How it works is that you pick 5 aspects of your life that you choose to share on your business platform.  For her, it’s Wedding Photography, Education for female entrepreneurs, Marriage, Yoga Pants, and Mac & Cheese. 

For me, it’s Handmade goods, Interior Design, Ballet, My Childhood Home and My Family, and Slow Living in the City. 

These five topics aren’t set in stone.  Maybe I’ll decide to change it up sometimes, but for the most part, my content sticks to these 5 principals, just so I don’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for content ideas.  

Your Turn

Start defining your style today, and take a moment to think about your brand's style and aesthetic.

Palette - Pick 3-4 base colors, and 3-4 accent colors that best highlight you and your products.

Temperature - Most feeds are either cool, warm, or neutral.  Mine is cool!

Mood - Is it bright and airy?  Is it dark and moody?  Is it elegant and whimsical, or colorful and poppy?

Props - Decide on some solid props that you can easily style in your shots.  Flowers, ceramics, table linens, a favorite antique...

Voice - Is it down to earth?  Funny?  Poetic?  What would best describe you?

Your "FIVE" - What is it about you that you'd like to share with your audience?  Showing facets of your personality, quirks, and unique self is what is going to help you stand out and help people relate to you in a more personal way!  My five are: Handmade goods, Interior Design, Ballet, My Childhood Home and My Family, and Slow Living in the City.  What are yours?

 

 

 

Margaret Perkins
Edit your Photos like a Pro
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Ever since the spring show season ended, I’ve basically been a total vegetable. 

Working full time and prepping for these shows has been a lot for me emotionally, mentally, physically..  I’ve honestly been enjoying just coming home after work every day, cooking dinner, and watching Office re-runs or Brian de Palma movies on the couch with Jon. 

It’s been lovely.  My laziness was completely necessary, I really think I needed it!  But applying for fall shows this week got me so excited and motivated again.  

In the midst of this “maker sabbatical”, I’ve been doing a lot of BTS work on Hiraeth. 

Blogging, photography, free guides, you name it.  Most of which I can do from the couch or my bed, so I haven’t been completely dormant, but you get me. 

Today, I’m really excited today to launch my FREE guide to Lightroom Editing, which explores the basics of editing if you’re just getting started in photography and really want to take your photos to the next level. 

You can download the guide below, and you’ll also get access to 5 free Lightroom presets that I created just for you to get you started! 

The guide takes you through a step-by-step process of editing a photo in Lightroom, start to finish.  The free presets eliminate a lot of the leg work that it takes to edit a photo from scratch, with just a few tweaks here and there.  I really wanted you guys to get the full scope of what is possible in Lightroom, and the potential your photos have.

Most of what I learned in Photoshop and Lightroom has just been from pure play and trial and error. 

I studied textile design in college, but only had half a semester of Photoshop.  THAT’S IT.  In order to even execute any of my projects, I had to teach myself a lot, and rely on help from the other ladies in my program that were all in the same boat as I was.  We really helped each other out so that we could all get our projects done on time, and done well. 

That creative community is something I miss terribly about college, but that’s another story for another day! 

All that being said, I wanted to give you this resource to help you out too.  Maybe you didn’t go to school for photography, or graphic design, or art, but you still need to photograph your product, or represent your brand well. 

Well guess what, I didn’t go to school for photography or graphic design either, yet, here I am, creating logos and doing photographs as my side hustle.  It took a lot of time and effort, but I've really enjoyed my creative ride, watching my work grow and improve, and toiling around in Lightroom has been a huge part of that.

So if you want to up your photo game and dive into all that Lightroom has to offer, click here to get BOTH the guide and the presets today!

Margaret Perkins
What I Learned from my First Craft Show Season
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My first craft show season has come to a close.  I feel completely exhausted, relieved, inspired, and excited to begin again in the fall.  This spring season was a huge eye opener for me.  I tried to have little-to-no expectations going into my first craft show season, just so that I wouldn’t feel disappointed or let down in any way.  That didn’t exactly pan out, of course, because I am a dreamer, and when I think of my products, I daydream about who’s buying it, where it’s going in their house.  I imagine them cuddling up with one of my blankets, or lighting one of my candles and serving their guests on one of my trays.  It’s hard not to dream up those little vignettes of your ideal client’s life. 

But on the other side of the coin from all the daydreams and romance is a lot of hard work.  It’s schlepping, planning, putting out A LOT of dough, and working late nights and weekends to prep. However, when push came to shove, I just winged most of the shows.  I definitely think that most of what I learn/will continue to learn will just come with time and experience, trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn’t.  That’s the long haul, but I’m in it for the long haul.  Gotta risk it to get the biscuit, my friends.

I wanted to take a moment and summarize my first show experience, not only for myself, but for everyone who may be wanting to start going down the craft show rabbit hole.  There were some highs and some lows, but over all it was a learning curve that I’m grateful to have experienced this spring. 

Your Ideal Clients Are Not at Every Show

I’ll be completely transparent – being out in public with my products for the first time was absolutely terrifying.  I had anxiety all week before my first show, didn’t sleep a wink the night before, and felt perpetually nauseous the morning of.  It was not only the idea of physically watching people engage with my work, but also the fear of the wrong customer reacting to my work, and how that would affect me.  I knew that there would be some people who were enthusiastic about my stuff, and some people not as much – and that’s ok!  I took great care to try and prepare myself for that.   But what I didn’t prepare for was my responses to people’s questions, criticisms, and exclamations whom of which are not my tribe/clientele.  I’ve only done two different craft shows, and the clientele of each have been drastically different.  I am queued up to do a few different markets this fall, so hopefully by the end of that run I’ll be able to know which markets will work best for me and my product, and discover where my tribe is hanging out.

Pricing is Crucial

While I took great care to price my items intentionally to cover my costs, overhead, and have a small profit margin, people love even numbers at a craft show.  It’s so simple for someone to whip out $5, $10, and $20 bills for the things that they love!  I definitely am going to be thinking more in advance for fall about items I can use this structure for so that it’s easier on the customers who are not paying by card!

Educate Your Customers

This is definitely something I need to improve upon.  Lack of education = a missed opportunity for engagement, conversation, and sales.  I am an awkward person, so this is something I’ll definitely need to practice in the mirror for beforehand like a weirdo, but I’d rather do that than miss the opportunity to share valuable information about my products and brand with someone! 

I’ll give you an example.  This past spring, I brought a huge basket exploding with beautiful wool dryer balls for sale.  I assumed (wrongly, I might add) that everyone knew what dryer balls were and what they did.  Since I assumed that it was obvious what it was, I wasn’t prepared for people to ask me about them.  I wasn’t prepared to tell someone why they are an excellent household essential, can reduce your drying time by 30% therefore saving you money on your electric bill, and also that a set of 6 will be a lifetime purchase that will eliminate having to buy dryer sheets ever again.  I’m sure I lost so many opportunities by not having an explanation prepared!  Don’t make the same mistake.  We all make things that can bring value to someone’s life, right?  Let them know why!

Know Your Products Inside and Out

I can’t repeat this enough.  There were so many times that I fumbled over my words because I forgot the dimensions of my blankets, and other useful info that people will definitely want to know!  I recommend (for myself as well) to make a little cheat sheet containing all those little details, in case someone asks!  There was one woman who wanted to buy one of my blankets, and I gave her the wrong dimensions.  She didn’t buy it because she didn’t think that it would fit over her queen sized bed.  When I got home and double checked the dimensions, I realized it would have fit.  And she probably would have bought it.  I was hitting myself over the head for days about that.  But hey, I probably wouldn’t have learned that lesson unless I learned it the hard way. 

Find a Way to Bring Them Back

Give them a coupon code to come back and shop online.  Do a give away in exchange for their email address.  Have some business cards in multiple spots all around your booth.   I have a basket of free match boxes right at the front of my booth that have my logo and website on them.  I’ll tell you, after every show, the basket was empty.  People were picking them up every other minute!  I have to shout out to my boyfriend, Jon, for that idea.  He loves collecting matches from bars and restaurants all over Philly, and he was like. “Hey, you sell candles, why not have some free matches for your customers so that they can use them in their home?”  Genius. 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Perkins
Life as a Maker: Some Things I've Learned
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March has come to a close and spring is finally peeking through the storm clouds.  While my little black heart loves winter more than anything, spring holds the promise of new beginnings.  Clarity even.  As the gray slush melts away, and the daffodils start to wake up from their wintery sleep, so do we.  It's suddenly time to rub the crusties out of our eyes, blink them open, and start to see things a little differently than we did in our wintertime haze.  Slow living in the winter is so different from any other time of year, and dare I say, easier?  It's easy to be slower when the weather is bad, and you want to be cozy at home.  It's easier when it gets dark early, and our bodies are telling us to rest.  Now that it's spring, I've had to really evaluate what Slow Living with a business actually looks like.  Slow living, while very important to me, always seems slightly out of reach.  It is not all about journaling and candles and long walks down a lush green lane.  It's about saying no to a lot, so that you can allow time for a very select, few yeses.  As a maker, it's so easy to put self care, time with loved ones, and other many important things on the back burner.

This new season of my life and my business has brought on a lot of realizations and lessons.  I am preparing for my first slew of craft shows this spring, and while I am beyond excited, but my little rabbit heart is going a million miles a minute – consumed with questions, doubt, optimism, fear, joy, anxiety, ideas, and everything in between.  In an effort to have some kind of sanity, I wanted to share a few things that I’m dealing with creatively, personally, financially, etc.  It’s easy to feel alone when you’re starting out, but I’m sure if I’m having these thoughts, most likely, some of you are too!

Making with Intention

I have so many new product ideas swarming around in my head of different things pieces and crafts I want to tackle.  I know that I need to pace myself, and not get carried away in the land of the beautiful.  I’ve got my whole life ahead of me, after all!  While 'Elevated Wabi Sabi' continues to be the aesthetic I hone in on, I’m finding that there’s things I want to make for The Hiraeth Collection that expand beyond that aesthetic.  When I find myself going in a million different directions, I pause and ask myself three questions:

1. Is this true to my brand? 

2. Is this serving my audience? 

3. Does this item just look good on its own, or does it contribute to the aesthetics of my table?

These are all check points I’m constantly asking myself to keep me grounded, and stay true to my brand.  Which is REALLY hard when I love so. many. things.  And even harder when I'm so drawn to other aesthetics that aren't my own!  

That Dirty Word – Money

Another thing I am trying to stay on top of is my pricing, and to really make a conscious effort to price my items intentionally, rather than getting caught up in the comparison trap.  I am also trying to prepare myself and my little rabbit heart for the “UGH that’s too expensive” feedback that I KNOW I’m going to experience.  How do you handle that?  How do you explain to someone that yes, while this is more than what you’d pay at Home Goods, I’d love to ask those people,

“Well, may I ask you how valuable is your time?” 

Or do you stay silent and let them go?  I feel a little twinge of responsibility to inspire/educate people on the beauty of the handmade, but I know not everyone will care or understand.  Let me expand…

I’m definitely guilty of going into stores in the past and naively exclaiming “ugh, why is this so expensive? I could make that”.  Sure, I could make that.  But will I?  Will I take the time to find the perfect materials, and set aside 6-10 hours of my own time to make it?  Probably not.  Not then at least.  Now that I actually have started to make these things that I’ve never seen but only dreamt of, I have really put myself through the ringer of finding good quality materials at a decent price.  That cutting board that I looked at in a shop so long ago and went, “Ugh, that’s so expensive”, was made from solid maple, from a single piece of wood, without any glued on parts or extra additives.  While it reads as simple to some, it was a labor of love for the artisan that actually made it.  (Making something from one solid piece of wood is not an easy task, I would know).  Maybe this artisan does this for a living, and needs to put food on the table.  It’s not their expensive hobby, it’s their livelihood.  And for them to follow the call to be creative and put these beautiful pieces out into the world, at the risk of losing their livelihood, is something that I am willing to buy into, because THAT means more to me than buying some mass produced piece that a machine cranked out in a few minutes.  If we stop buying handmade, then these talented folks will go get a job somewhere else and stop adding beauty to the world. 

I always generally appreciated handmade things, but not nearly as much as I do now that I’ve started to create things from scratch.  Cutting a piece of walnut wood is HARD WORK.  Turning that piece of wood is even harder.  Once it’s dreamed up, the products have to be sourced, then they have to be cut, it has to be sanded, then it has to be finished, styled, photographed, edited, uploaded, meta-tagged, posted on social media, pinned, and blogged about.  Yes, those wooden planters you see at my craft table may be simple logs with holes in them, but I hand picked each piece of wood in the forest behind my house.  I cut it with a table saw.  I turned it on a lithe.  I hand-carved the bottom with an old knife.  I drilled these holes myself.  This beautiful slab of cherry wood is completely unblemished and 2" thick.  This roving yarn is 100% merino wool from a farm in North Carolina.  My shibori dye is made in the USA.  I love handmade products.  I love products with a soul.  I love products with character, flaws, and history.  But not everyone does, and that’s ok.

I’m not trying to sound like a snob, or that I know better, or that I have better taste than the average Joe.  I’m really not.  I just know what is important to me, and what’s important to me is that I have a few, very nicely made items, rather than a lot of inexpensive items with a short shelf life.  Could I find a factory somewhere that would turn 200 candlesticks for me on the fly?  Absolutely.  But why would I do that?  I don’t get enjoyment from it, I don’t feel I can stand behind my work, and it’s just not special.  #buylesschoosewell.

On the flip side of being a consumer, the amount of money I’d spend on a good cutting board, sure, I could use to buy 100 little tchotchkes at Home Goods, but for me, I’d rather not.  Those tchotchkes take up too much room in my home and life, and I don’t have the time/space/mental bandwidth to host these items that I know I’ll be sick of in a few months.  So, this is why I always opt for quality over quantity.  I want things I can look at day after day and not tire of.  I know if something is “me” within a split second of looking at it.  If I have any hesitation, it doesn’t go in my house, or in my closet.  Period.  I know we’ve heard this a million times, but it really couldn’t be more true – quality over quantity.  #buylesschoosewell.  I used to think that quantity equaled worth and wealth, and it’s just simply not the case.  Our culture is really moving away from mass consumerism and honing in on local, which is amazing, considering how much we are constantly being sold to every. single. day.  Knowing how to style your life, spend your money wisely, and living intentionally… THAT to me, is worth more than all the tchotchkes Home Goods and Target have to offer.  (Although I am a sucker for a good Target run…. If you wanna go to Target, hit me up). 

I’m trying to remind myself that the people that question whether or not a handmade item is worth their money, that don’t appreciate the handmade, are not my ideal clients.  And hey, I am not for everyone, and neither are my products, and that’s ok!  I’m not trying to be vanilla.  I’m not trying to appeal to a mass market.  However, by nature I am a people pleaser, and have a history of taking criticism really, really hard.  So as I prepare for my shows, and being in public with my product for the first time, I am trying to take extra care to guard my rabbit heart against the fear of what other people think.  

Guarding Your Heart, Finding Support, and Building your Tribe

“It’s a skill to know who and what to let into your heart and who and what to let out.  You may not master it, but you do get better at it” - Bruce Adler

This quote from Bruce Adler couldn’t be more true.  Ever since starting my business, I have received so much encouragement and support from other makers, friends, and family.  But in the same vein, I’ve also received a lot of unwelcome negativity and judgment from people who I didn’t expect.  While I’m sure most of that hostility stems from insecurity and other personal issues that have nothing to do with me, it still isn’t a pleasant feeling, especially when you’re new to something/just starting out.    

In response to the backlash, I began the desperate search for other creative and likeminded individuals.   I started connecting with other creative people in my area.  I compare small businesses on Instagram to like being a freshman in college.  We’re all starting out on this big scary adventure, we don’t know anyone, and we all want to find our niche.  I started connecting with people I through a collaboration here, a swap there, and reaching out to old friends that I knew were killing it creatively.  Turns out, everyone was feeling the same way I was!   We decided to form a little “Called to be Creative Tribe” of about 8 or so women in the Philadelphia area that do all sorts of different things.  We have a photographer, antique dealer and stylist, floral fossil artist, knitter, interior designer, wood burning artist, and seamstress.  We have decided to get together once a month to have a little creative round table and discuss all things business, community, and to be each other’s support system.  The idea is to create a safe space for everyone to voice their dreams, goals, struggles, and not be afraid to do so.  

We had our first meeting this month.  We drank champagne with sorbet.  We shared a cheese board.  We laughed, we shared our struggles, our dreams, and really just spent the evening getting to know each other.  

We’re bound to have some incredible discussions, and I want to share some of the things we talk about here on the blog.  Maybe a podcast someday?  Who knows.  Either way, I know that this group is all kinds of goodness and I can’t wait to see where it all goes. 

If you’ve actually read all this, I am eternally grateful, and I applaud you.   I’d love to do more posts like this, about my journey as a maker and business owner, and how I’m navigating through it all.  Thanks so much, I have some exciting new items coming to the shop, as well as some free downloads for you all, so check back in soon!

Xo,

Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Morning Blueberry Pancakes
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I grew up eating blueberry pancakes on Saturdays for most of my childhood.  I would hear the clanking of the cast iron skillet, and the sound of the whisk hitting the bowl as I came down the stairs, and I knew it was the weekend, and that pancakes were happening.  The recipe for these ‘from scratch’ pancakes has been on a ragged old recipe card that was passed onto my mom from my Grandma Mary Lee, my dad’s mom, who passed when I was about 6. 

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It’s treasured and sacred, and it’s a ritual I intend to carry on.  I regret not treasuring those mornings more at home.  I regret not making time to go blueberry picking at 6:00 AM in high summer.  I remember being little and having stained hands from the blueberry bushes, filling my pail with as many blueberries as my grubby cherub hands could grab.  I remember there was this one snot-nosed little boy in our blueberry picking group that would purposefully tip over our pails, or reach his dirty hands inside our carefully collected batch of blueberries and get his germs all over them.  But I also remember having these blueberries out on the table in a bowl for us to pick from, and storing the rest in the freezer that would later turn into pies, muffins, and of course, pancakes.

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Blueberries are such an underrated fruit.  They’re SO simple, and small, yet pack so much sweetness and flavor.  They’re quiet, lovely, and soft.  One bite of a blueberry instantly neutralizes me and reminds me of sweet adolescent summers in Titusville.  (Oh, to be a kid again…) The blue reminds me of my mother’s kitchen. And blueberry pancakes remind me of home. 

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Here is the recipe.  Simple, no frills, fool proof.  Get rid of that store bought mix, you already have all of these things in your pantry!  Just go get a carton of beautiful blueberries, (or even frozen will work in a pinch, I’ve done it!)

Saturday Morning Blueberry Pancakes

Yield: 8 medium sized pancakes

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking 

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

1 cup milk (keep extra on hand, you may need it to adjust the consistency later)

2 tablespoons salad oil or vegetable oil

1 pint blueberries

1 tablespoon butter

DIRECTIONS

Heat your cast iron skillet or non stick pan on high heat, set aside while you assemble the batter.

Sift together dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients one at a time, whisking together continuously until the mixture is smooth, but not too runny.  If the mixture is too thick, keep adding milk until it becomes more of a batter.  Fold in the blueberries.  

Your skillet should be hot.  Turn the heat down to medium, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter onto the skillet.  Pour in your batter.  When underside is nicely browned, and the top starts to bubble and puff up (about 2 minutes) , flip your pancake.  Cook on the other side for about 2 minutes.  Once you are finished, top with a beautiful maple syrup, some preserves, honey, or whatever else you fancy.

 

 

 

Margaret Perkins
Slow Living Is Not Dead
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Despite the hash tagging and blogging out there right now, Slow Living is not over saturated.  It’s not over hyped.  It is important.  Now more than ever!  We are living in a society where everyone is trying to scream to the masses.  We want to be noticed, and we don’t want to be left behind.  We constantly find ourselves saying, “If only I had THIS bag, my life would look like that blogger I follow”.  Or, “If only I were her size, I could be getting all these vacations and taking amazing photos and living my best life”.  I’ve told myself these lies for so long, and when I discovered the art of Slow Living, I knew it was time to stop the “I’m not ____ enough” talk I’ve been telling myself FOR YEARS.

Slow Living is possible for anyone, no matter how old you are, your season in life, or where you live.  Whether you live in the city, or in the rolling hills of the countryside.  Whether you’re an employee, an employer, an entrepreneur, a parent, a student, whatever!  It’s not about the perfect breakfast of rolled oats that have been cooking for five hours.  It’s not about the perfect cups of tea you pour, or the hours of free time you have.  I live in the city, so my version of Slow Living isn't me strolling through a cow pasture in my Hunter boots and a perfect chunky sweater.  (Although, that sounds lovely!) For me, it usually looks like sitting down and have a frozen Eggo waffle alone in my kitchen without my phone, and that makes me happy.  It’s all about how you use your time, and use it intentionally to slow yourself down, and slowly whisper to yourself, “You are enough”.  

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Everyone always says “YOLO” and “Live each day like it were your last day”!  Very true,  you do only live once.  So if I’m going to live once, I’m going to spend a few more minutes sitting around the fireplace with my family on the weekends.  I’m going to put my phone away at dinner with my boyfriend and enjoy our night together.  I may walk a little further down the beach, or the trail, or city street, and keep my head up and absorb what it is around me.  I may spend a few extra minutes in the shower even, without any distractions, alone with my thoughts.  This incredible Croque Madame I’m eating at a restaurant, I’m going to chew it a little more slowly instead of inhaling it like a monster.  (I'm a fast eater).

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s the little things that matter most.  And yes while it’s amazing to take that dream vacation, go sky diving, walk The Great Wall, or whatever it is on your bucket list, I encourage you to pause in the stillness, and be in the moment.  Slow Living is so important, and it’s something that I am intentionally choosing to practice more this year. 

Less is more.  Time is precious.  Life is amazing.  People are incredible.   Say YES to more precious moments with your loved ones.  Say YES to self care.  Say YES to creating more time for what matters to you.  Say NO to things that aren't serving you.  Say NO to relationships that are stale, that are toxic, or do not serve you.  Say NO to things that rob you of your time, money, and sanity.  Slow Living means saying "NO" sometimes, and that's ok!  Because "NO" is a full sentence, and "NO" is the magic word that will set you free.  

I'd love to know what does Slow Living mean to you?  What changes have you made in your life to live a little bit slower?  Leave a comment below!

The Easiest Bread Recipe Ever
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Who doesn't love bread?!  I've literally never met someone who didn't love it, but I'm sure there's some of you out there that don't like it.  I know there are so many who can't have bread, which is so incredibly sad.  In which case, you may not be interested in this ground breaking recipe.   

My latest obsession is The Great British Baking Show.  However, I'm always left feeling a conflict of inspired and frustrated after I binge a few episodes.  Now don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but baking has always been a struggle for me.  It’s so scientific and exact, AND time consuming, that I usually throw in the towel and give up on whatever it is I’m making - unless it comes from a mix or a box (sad!)  However, my momma’s simple, country white loaf bread recipe is my saving grace.  It’s so incredibly easy it’s ridiculous.  It’s perfect for lazy bakers, like me!  

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Easy Country White Loaf

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon yeast

1.5 cups warm water

Extra salt for seasoning

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and water until you start to see the dough form.  Cover with cling wrap, and let it sit in a dry, room temperature environment to proof for 12-24 hours.  (I leave mine for 24 hours, just to give it extra proof time!)  

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, you can begin to turn out your dough.  Once the dough has proofed, take about 3 tablespoons of flour and sprinkle over your work surface.  Begin to turn out the dough, covering with flour as you go.  The goal is to remove the "stickiness" of the dough as much as you can.  Rest for 30 minutes. 

In the meantime,  place whichever pan you're using to cook the bread inside the preheated oven.  You can use a cast iron skillet, a bread pan, whichever you desire!  Let the skillet or pan rest inside the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Slash an "X" on the top of the loaf with a knife.  After the skillet/pan/whatever you chose has been heated, place your dough on a piece of parchment paper, and put it right in the already heated skillet, inside the oven.  If parchment paper isn't your thing, make sure that your pan is coated well oiled so that the bread doesn't stick.  

Bake your loaf in the oven for 30 minutes, covered with tinfoil.  Uncover after 30 minutes, bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until it starts to brown.  Cool, slice, serve, enjoy!

Margaret Perkins