Cambridge Creatives Photowalk Spring

Back in April (how is it June already?!), Jo and I were wishing for sunshine for the second Cambridge Creatives Photowalk. The first walk took place in September 2016, when 15 of us splashed through puddles to explore the city a little more.

We created our Facebook event for the Spring walk, packed our goody bags and to our surprise around 80 people turned up from all over the country. There was even someone from Denmark! I was pretty overwhelmed to see all the colourful folk congregating on Parkers Piece at the beginning. Before organising these walks, I had always just mooched around the city on my bike taking photos of my own (see them in my Tourist in Cambridge blog series).

Cambridge Creatives Spring Photowalk The BacksJo created another amazing map for the day, which many people have since asked her for as a print following the event!

Cambridge Creatives Spring Photowalk Map

I do have a slight confession to make. I knew that the wisteria on the edge of Orchard Street would be in bloom and of course be the spectacle most would want to photograph. So, on the morning of the walk, I cycled there alone and took a moment to literally stop and smell the flowers and to talk to a passer by about how awesome Cambridge is in the Spring.

Wisteria&Bikes Wisteria-Hysteria Photowalk-Friends The next stop was to meet Jo and Kate to pick up some lovely bags from The Cambridge Satchel Company who have kindly supported each photowalk. Cambridge-Satchel-Company-ShopThe summer collections had just launched so we had neon bags aplenty to choose from. So much colour! Picking out the bags was not an easy task!Cambridge-Satchel-Company-Summer-Collection Claireabellemakes-SunshineJo

Photo by hahonlineCambridge-Creatives-Photowalk-Spring

We had colourful balloons for everyone to carry which was a great thing for keeping up with the group. With 80 people walking around the city it was quite hard to see the front and the back of the group at times. People chatted, made friends and some met in real life for the first time after being Instagram friends for a while. Bikes-and-wisteria-CambridgeObviously did some bike spotting. It’s only right! And we stopped in the market square to enjoy ice cream from the new Jack’s Gelato shop.Bikes-Spotting-CambridgeI was so grateful to be hanging out with so many wonderful creatives and to show my home city to people who hasn’t visited before. PhotowalkersWe ended the day with a picnic to chat and get to know everyone a bit more. There were some serious bakers in the group (brownie and tiffin!) and lots of pin swaps and chats taking place. Balloons-and-PhotowalksWisteria-and-doors-CambridgeOne of the best things for me aside from hanging out with so many cool people, was organising the event with my besties. Jo and Kate make my creative life in Cambridge so worthwhile and I honestly feel like I am better person for knowing them.
Yellow-Cambridge-SatchelI’m not going to lie though, it was a pretty exhausting day! I think I flopped on the sofa for at least 3 hours afterwards. The next day, Jo and I met up with Rosie and Anna from Independent Oxford for a chinwag and lunch. It’s always so great to chat with people that get what you do and understand a creative life. Go check out their website to learn about their new book which has just launched.Claireabellemakes-Cambridge-Photowalk

Photo by Wendy

We had an amazing time and it’s been busy ever since! Hence why it’s taken so long to write this post. You can check out all the images shared on the day by looking at #CambridgeCreativesPhotowalk on Instagram. Almost 500 of them and so many good ones! This group one is a brilliant moment in the day too!

And if you fancy coming along to one of our photowalks yourself, we have already released the date for the Autumn one here!

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Bank Holiday Happiness

Well would you believe it, it’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun is shining! I’m looking for positivity this weekend after a tough week for our country. I’ll be spending time with friends, having a date night with G who has been away this week for work, and of course working on some new goodies for the shop!

This weekend I’m also having a sale in my Etsy shop yay! Just use the code MAYBANKHOL for 15% off everything. A great time to stock up on cards and gifts or maybe even a treat for yourself.SHOP- Bank Holiday sale & giveawayALSO I HAVE NEWS OF A GIVEAWAY! I have teamed up with the lovely folks at Sew Magazine for a big giveaway and I’m thrilled about it. There are 10 of the SEW necklaces up for grabs in their competition. All you have to do is complete this form to be in with a chance of winning one.
SEW-NecklaceWhat are you planning to do this weekend to stay positive? I better run, I’ve got to get to the post office and send out your lovely orders and of course grab a coffee to start my day. Happy weekend!

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What’s Happening Around Here?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking about the business and what direction I want to take it in. Thinking about what I value in life and who I want around me. Thinking about all the drama that has been surrounding blogging and social media. I thought I’d share what has been happening around here because I’ve come to some conclusions and it’s always helpful for me to write them here on the blog – my online journal if you like.

YOUGOTTHIS Biscuits

I want to do less to get more

I have decided to refocus Claireabellemakes to bring it back to what it originally was in 2012! Rather than doing all.the.things, I’m going to focus on products and the blog. That’s it. I’ve ended freelance contracts and finally made the decision to retire Cambridge Craft Parties. I did feel sad at first (because how much fun were they and who doesn’t love buying party supplies and creating with others?!), but I know it’s the right thing to do. They needed a lot of work to make them more profitable and in my heart I was more drawn towards designing products. That’s not to say I wont run workshops in the future, but it was time to say goodbye to the parties.

I’m not giving up freelance work all together, I’m just being way more selective and only working on things I really believe in and enjoy. I’m not going to lie, this part has been scary. Especially as it has meant letting go of income when the landlord just increased our rent!

Workspace-Wednesday

I don’t want to stress about social media

There has been a lot of drama about social media lately (Instagram bots, algorithms, etc) and I kind of don’t care about it. I did join an Instagram pod because I was curious to see what would happen (I like experimenting), but actually I now use it to keep connected with my favourite creatives and I really don’t care about numbers or engagement anymore. I care that people enjoy my posts online and that maybe they will like my designs enough to purchase something. I care that I am part of a community that supports one another – I certainly don’t care about getting on the Explore page of Instagram or getting  a ‘blue tick’ to become verified. After all – what does that really mean? My main goal is to enjoy social media without analysing. It’s always been fun for me and I want to keep it that way.

I know why I am doing this and what I am now

Being reflective these last few months has reaffirmed why I want to have a creative job like this. Ultimately it’s to live a happy life and to make money. That’s it. I’m not looking for validation or for anything else – I just want to be creative and live a nice life. Pretty simple really.

I now feel like a designer maker. For years I didn’t want to use the term for myself and that’s OK. The imposter syndrome has left the building and I finally feel confident to tell people “I run my own business designing products and writing a creative blog”. Self doubt still happens every now and again, but it’s way less often now.

YAY Necklace

So what’s next?

I’m working on new designs. I’m streamlining the business as well as my physical ‘stuff’ in the studio. Doing fewer things means I can do them really really well. I’m working on wholesale plans. I’m working on a new website design with a shop. I’m meeting creative friends regularly. I’m creating community and attending face-to-face meet ups where I can.

In a physical sense, I’ve probably got less to show for my business since I quit my full-time job last Autumn. However, in an emotional sense, there is more clarity than ever. I just needed the head space and time to figure it all out.

I’m grateful I have had the chance to try so many things. It has helped me determine what I want my brand to be and I’ve learnt a lot. Letting the business evolve from nothing has been so valuable and I’m ready for the next steps now!

Wish me luck…..and thanks for reading my brain dump today 😉 What’s new with you?

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The Best Pen Storage For Stationery Addicts

This one’s for the stationery geeks! I’ve been working on organising the studio and all my supplies lately (literally the longest project ever) and came across this pen storage.

I shared it on Instagram and the amount of messages I received about it showed me that it was worthy of a blog post and video. Turns out, it’s not just me that finds neatly organised pens in rainbow order satisfying.

Pen-Storage-Case

The zip up case is about A5 size, but it has 4 sections so can fit TONS of pens. I’m sure I had something like this as a kid too for pencils and all sorts.

Pen-Case-For-Papermate-Flairs

Since I started Bullet Journaling this year, I have been using a greater selection of pens from gel pens to fine liners, to sharpies. I’ve linked them all below so you can see which ones are my favourite.Pen Storage Now I always know if I need a pen, it’s here or in my pencil case. No more scrabbling around on my desk to find them!Zip-Up-Case-For-Pens

And because people seem to love a stationery video, I shared a little more on my YouTube channel too. Watch it here! Thanks for letting me indulge today 🙂

Pen Storage Case

PaperMate Flair Pens
Artline Stix Brush Pens
Uniball Glitter Gel Pens
kikki.K Fineliners
Staedler Fineliner Pastel Pens
Frixion Clicker Pens
Sharpie Fine Point Markers

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

April Favourites 2017

Wow April was full of colour! I usually start my monthly favourites post by sharing the best experience of the month. April was filled with some craft parties (possibly the final ones!) and the Cambridge Creatives Photowalk. Both amazing opportunities to connect with creative people!

The photo walk was overwhelming in an amazing way. I felt on a high for a week after and so so grateful that people believed in our event again. I’ll write a separate post soon, in the meantime, enjoy this wisteria shot as a taster….

Wisteria-Photowalk

I decided to wear pink for the photowalk (we all dressed colourfully) and purchased a new phone case just for the occasion. Just a bit of fun!

Strawberry-Phone-CasePlanning the walk with Jo was just brilliant. A couple of weeks ago she gifted me this adorable illustration which I need to frame. I love it.  You can order your own custom ‘sunshine’ on Jo’s website.

Sunshine-Jo-PortraitThis month I was thrilled to be included in Caboodle magazine again for their Spring/Summer edition. Caboodle Magazine Cover I had some fun with a Christmas present this month – Scrabble cookie cutters! What shall I spell out next?Scrabble-Cookie-Cutters

I chatted to Imogen Owen on the photo walk who has just released her Modern Calligraphy Workshop book. It’s BEAUTIFUL with practical tips for lettering with a nib, as well as brush and chalk lettering skills. I took one of Immie’s classes last year and loved it.Modern-Calligraphy-Book-Imogen-Owen As most of you know by now, this year I’m enjoying bullet journalling and have been testing out some different pens for doodling and note taking. Uniball contacted me to share their new sparkling gel ink rollerball pens with you. I was not disappointed – they are the sparkliest gel pens I’ve come across yet!

I have also discovered some awesome new pen storage, but I’m planning on making a separate video for my You Tube channel about it, so stay tuned.Uniball-Signo-Glitter-Gel-Pens Since I quit my full-time job last year, I’ve been trying to spend less money. It was pretty tricky at a car boot this weekend when I saw a mint green typewriter for £15 let me tell you! However, I managed to resist and have been enjoying swaps with fellow creatives as a way to mix up my pin and patch collections without spending money.

This little haul is from a Lucky Dip Club swap event I participated in on Facebook. It was so much fun. Keep an eye on their website for a relaunch of the Lucky Dip Club boxes soon!

Oh and the patches I got have been ironed or stitched onto something which I’m planning to share soon 🙂LDC Swap

Some new pins this month include Ip Dip Designs (got these for a few pounds in the seconds sale!), Corazon Pom Pom and Elhorno who has just released his first pin. I couldn’t resist taking a snap of the pins I wore for the photowalk too, all designed by makers in the East of England! (Hello Sunshine, Daphne Rosa, HAH).Enamel-Pins-Claireabellemakes-Collection

And the final thing I was completely blown away with this month was a kind gift from Doodle Bug and Co. Lou used to live in Cambridge and said she has enjoyed following my Instagram for a little reminder of ‘home’. I can’t believe how beautiful this embroidery of Florence is. Just finding a frame for it now, but I was so touched.

Florence-Bike-Embroidery

So lots of lovely things to appreciate this month as well as time with friends and family and some sofa/TV sessions when I’ve been poorly. As always, I have Jimmy Fallon on repeat, but I’ve also been watching Girl Boss on Netflix. What do you guys think? I’m unsure so far – her business story just seems so cut throat and not how our creative community really works, so it’s hard to relate. Maybe things were different 10 years ago and more competitive/less supportive?!

What have you been loving in April?

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.