Monday, 27 February 2017

A year to make and break habits?

Following on with my 'late to the new year' theme going on so far, I thought I'd carry on with my writing roll (while it lasts) and share a little post about the year ahoy for me personally - a more business focussed post will come later. In the past I've called stuff like this resolutions, goals, mini missions etc and have always been quite specific about things I want to achieve or aim for but this year I want to try something a bit different.

I tend to freak out when I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things so this year I'm trying to put a different spin on it all. This year I'm going to lay out a little personal tick list for myself (because I bloody love a good list) and in the same way I enjoy ticking off little daily tasks I'm hoping I will enjoy trying to tick things off this one too. 2017 is the year I'd like to create myself some new habits... and in the process actually break some naughty ones... maybe!

less and more list of mini objectives to consider
image : Pinterest link

So here is my little list for you to see (and feel free to hold me accountable for these at any point in the year!) Some might seem a bit predictable or a bit silly but for me, I know they will make a difference - even if I just try, let alone if I actually keep them up!

D R I N K  M O R E  W A T E R
Swap water for tea and I'd already win at this hands down but my skin and energy levels suffer when I don't drink the clear stuff enough. I know this and need to get in to the habit of filling my water bottle several times a day to sip on (I'd say glass but they always end up with a cat in them!).

Cat glass, full of water, with a cat in the glass!

It might actually help reduce the amount of caffeine I must consume too, which has to be a good thing. Oh and while we're reducing things let's throw in drinking less booze too as it's become far too easy to relax with a glass of vino in the evenings and this is not a habit I need to stick to.

W I W T  D O O D L E S
I used to do these regularly a few years ago (and even had one published in a book - I wrote about the excitement of it here).  I loved doing them, for no other reason than a bit of me time, a bit of fun doodling and just to capture a little snapshot of the month. For one reason or another, mainly time, I stopped drawing these back in 2013.

However! 2017 is going to see them return, in a slightly different style and one that will help me keep up with them each month too! YAY! I shared a peek at the end of January when I started them again and here it is again...

Cartoon style illustration of Jo Want, Hello Sunshine

...February has just been finished, and before the end of the month tomorrow (wtf! where did that month go?!?) I'll be adding it to the shiny new What I Wore Today 2017 album over on the Facebook Page too. They make me happy for many reasons so here's to more happy-jo-time each month!

W E D D I N G  P L A N N I N G  T I M E
I think this may be a pretty handy joint plan we've decided on this year, mainly to help keep things moving and so I don't get too overwhelmed with everything. So once a week Will and I are going to make sure we talk big day schiz, I mean otherwise we won't do it and I'll just keep putting things off and we'll never pick a date! Plus it's a nice excuse to have a bit of a date night once a week too.

Jo & Will Marmite jar

B E D  T I M E  R E A D I N G  
I'm sure I'm not the only one guilty of staring at their phone before getting in to bed, even if it's just a cheeky check on Instagram to reply to some comments or catch up on pretty snaps. It affects how quickly I fall to sleep and can heavily influence the craziness of my dreams sometimes too! Last year I tried to read a bit before bed each night (it only lasted a few weeks), granted it was mainly comic books but it really made a difference to how calm I felt before bed as I often feel anxious at night.

Black cats and comic books

So this year I'm trying my best to do it even more, every night would be ideal but there are some evenings I just can't keep my peepers open - even for phone peeking let alone reading!

G E T  O U T D O O R S
I mentioned this is my little review of 2016 and it's a super important habit to keep up... I will take my ass outside at least once a day! I realise this sounds crazy because I guess lots of people have to get up and out for work, school runs, dog walks etc. Don't get me wrong, generally I'm pretty active when it comes to getting out and about - I go a bit crazy if I don't and with all the little adventures we plan it probably looks like we're always outdoors!

snapshot from a bike ride last summer to a yellow field in Horningsea village

However when the busy times of year take over or I feel a bit lost in my little black rain cloud days I can often find myself working through the day and late into the evening having not left the house. Not this year though, even if it's just a walk to the post box I will be outside every damn day!

C L I M B I N G 
Will is a big climber, he used to go a helluvalot more before he moved to the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, and as limited as the climbing around here is he still used to go a lot before he met me. So, another joint plan for the year... when we have a weekend that we're both at home without full on plans (rarely happens but there's hope!) we have agreed to spend a morning climbing together at Milton Keynes.

La Sportiva Jeckyl climbing shoe - all the gear no idea!

It's a bit of a drive but we did it this weekend and made the most of the time in Bedfordshire by having a picnic lunch at Sharpenhoe Clappers afterwards... there's also an Ikea mighty close by too!

For me, it's so I can improve my confidence as currently I daren't go climbing through fear of everyone laughing at me and for Will, it's so he can get more out of something he loves - climbing and me! haha!

After nearly 6 months Enid and I are friends! (Enid is the VW Golf who replaced our Smart Car last Summer). I realise this might sound bonkers but I don't drive often at all and since moving to Cambridge I only drove Smarty Smart a few times and that was basically just a big go-kart! So when Will bought Enid I was a bit nervous about driving her as she seemed much bigger. As time went on I managed to freak myself out more and more about driving her to the point I just didn't - I mean I barely need to drive here anyway so that didn't help!

Aaaanyway... last week I smashed my stupid insecurities and fears by driving down the A14 to Tesco AND on Saturday night I drove us all the way back from Nottingham. WOO! So here's to getting in the habit of driving more and getting my confidence back - after all I will want to drive my dream Campervan when they day comes!

...because it shouldn't be this hard to do it daily! I feel very lucky in that the dentist often compliments my teeth and how healthy my mouth is but I ALWAYS get told off for not flossing, especially when I moan about the tea stains that build up between my teeth because... yup, you guessed it... because I don't floss.

Take care of your teeth and floss

So...floss harps at the ready, I will get into the habit, even if it's just a couple of times a week! Oh and yes, floss harps are a must for me because embarrassing as it is, I always get in a mess with that bloomin' floss string you pull from a box!

So there you have it a few of the habits I'd like to pick up over the year... feels good to write them all down and hopefully I'll feel even better if I manage to keep them up.

Have you set yourself any goals, habits, new years resolutions? Or do you have any new routine goals maybe? Either way I'd love to know if you'd like to share in the comments below and Good Luck with what you may have set yourself... I'm off to floss now!


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hello 2017... sorry I'm late!

It may be a little late now but... HAPPY NEW YEAR! Did you miss me? Nahhhh I'm sure you've all had plenty going on to miss the odd bit of blogging I do, right? heehee

So, how has 2017 treated you so far?

I don't know if it's the colder weather, S.A.D, world affairs or just a general feeling of bleurgh over January but I've been struggling to find the 'umph' to write this year (and it's not like I've ever had lots of umph to write!) Usually, by now at least, I would have done a few hello and mini update posts to kick off the new year and towards the end of January I would have done my refection post on the previous year and a little bit of goal setting. As you can see from the lack of posts though, none of that has happened this year! OOPS!

BUT I do enjoy writing when I get in to the swing of it and I think it's important (even if nobody reads this) for me to review 2016, reflect on the good, the bad, the ugly and ponder those goals I set myself.

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?"

No, I don't want to take over the world (I'm more in the "NARF!" camp), so don't panic, but I would like to take a bit of time to look at the things I told myself I would focus on for 2016 and think about what I got out of it all. So let's start from the top and look back at the little list I laid out at the end of my 'A little time to reflect' post last January....

W O R K   G O A L S  :  H E L L O  S U N S H I N E

T R A D E  S H O W
I started 2016 being excited and full of ideas for my first trade show and as April came around I was so proud and pleased with all the planning and work we had done (we being me and my sunshine team, who I wrote about last May).

Hello Sunshine listing in BCTF directory

With a brand new website, new wholesale catalogue and shiny new set of product and lifestyle photography, not to mention all the new jewellery designs, display items and printed materials I had organised, I was all set. I was absolutely thrilled once my stand was set up and received a lot of lovely comments, feedback and interest over the three days I was there, I also met many new faces and had the chance to catch up with a couple of creative friends who were also exhibiting there.

Display of Hello Sunshine acrylic laser cut jewellery

Now, don't get me wrong, the experience of being there, what I learnt as a trader and the stockists I've gained since has made it worth while in the end but there are a couple of reasons that I am still undecided about whether to return this year.

The main reason, and I have to be blunt here is the money. I spent A LOT to take part in and prepare for the trade show, as I'm sure a lot of businesses do for these events, but sadly I didn't get enough interest or orders from the weekend or following that to make it worth while. It was a huge hit to my business and made the rest of 2016 mega tough, which resulted in a tearful meeting with my accountant and left me wondering if leaving my job at Boots was a good idea only one year on from making a go of 'full time sunshine'.

Birds eye view of laser cut jewellery and yellow notepad

The other doubt in my mind is to whether or not I picked the right event but with it being my first trade show, one of the more budget friendly ones and with it having come highly reccommended to me, I thought it was the best place to start. And you never know until you try, right? I'm a HUGE believer in giving things your all and taking risks to follow your dreams (cheesy but true!) Sometimes it sucks and things don't pay off BUT that's still a good thing because you LEARN and I certainly learnt a LOT!

Please don't take this as me moaning about failing or sulking because I didn't come away rolling in orders, it's not about that, I just want to be honest. This experience certainly hasn't put me off trade shows, I know it takes time to build up relationships and trust as an exhibitor at these events BUT at the same time I just don't have the funds to do it again just yet so it means that I am going to have spend 2017 saving and just visiting other trade shows, to research new options before committing to another one.

Overall, it made me proud to see my work on display in such a different way and I have to say - I learnt so much in terms of pricing and paperwork that has helped me no end with current and new stockists since. The experience has given me a bit more confidence in not only dealing with but also approaching stockists and has helped me understand what I need to focus on in the wholesale world.

Jo stood in front of jewellery stand at BCTF

N E W  J E W E L L E R Y  D E S I G N S
The first half of the year saw the introduction of some shiny, new collections, including...

C H E E S E P L A N T  D A V E

Cheese plant, Monstera laser cut acrylic jewellery

G R A N D A D  H A P P Y ' S  C A N A R I E S

canary aviary themed laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery

L I T T L E  B R O W N  B U N N I E S

Rabbit wood and acrylic laser cut jewellery

..and the second half of the year brought along some fun, limited edition collections such as;

E G G S  and  B A C O N

Laser cut acrylic, hand painted, mis-matched bacon and egg studs

L I T T L E  Y E L L O W  C A R S

VW beetle inspired car, laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery


VW beetle inspired car and christmas tree, laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery

I was thrilled by everyones reaction to the new collections as they were released (THANK YOU!) but my favourite and possibly most exciting new addition to the Sunshine portfolio has to be...

P R O J E C T  V A N

VW campervan inspired jewellery, laser cut wood and acrylic

VW Campervan, memories from my childhood

In short, Project Van is fuelled by a life long obsession with VW Campervans and started with trips to Attenborough Nature Reserve in my Nanna and Grandad's beaut of a van when I was teeny tiny. I won't waffle on about it too much as I wrote a post last year (Project Van intro) but basically it is my dream to have my own Sunshine VW Campervan and by creating a range of goodies I am hoping to raise funds to make this dream a reality! Big dream huh? I might be a bazillion years old by the time I make enough money but I don't care because the project fills me with so much joy and excitement when I work on it and you guys seem to LOVE the work too, which makes my heart happy!

Colouring in pages for all ages based on illustrations of Campervans by Jo Want

Last but not least by any means, I can't possibly leave out the shiniest, best selling newbies that hit the shops last year... PINS!

H E L L O  S U N S H I N E  P I N G A M E

Black cat and tabby cat enamel pin set by Hello Sunshine

Yup, that's right! I jumped on the enamel pin band wagon as fast as I could when I realised I could turn my designs into the kind of pins I have collected since childhood. Now, along with pins collected from school trips, chocolate bar wrappers, charities and holidays, I have my very own selection of Sunshine pins!

Cheerful Sunflower enamel pin by Hello Sunshine

Sunshine Van enamel pin by Hello Sunshine

Christmas car, Snowflake, Jumper, Festive Van, and Elf enamel pins by Hello Sunshine

Red VW Campervan enamel pin - limited edition

It's been such a great year for pins and there are so many creatives making such amazing shinies that I have also added so many to my personal pin collection! I even had a Christmas Tree full of pins this year!

Cork board full of enamel pins in the shape of a Christmas Tree

I'm excited to see what 2017 brings to the pingame world and can't wait to design, make and collect even more this year!!

Oh how ironic! I wanted to use my blog more to talk to you lovely lot this year and although I kept the posts going, I think overall I actually posted less than in 2015 and just look how well 2017 is going so far... OOPS!

Although I posted less overall, a super exciting and all round awesome trip to Blogtacular last Summer certainly helped me to focus my content a bit more and I certainly enjoyed writing some juicier posts throughout the year.

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

Below are just a few of my faves if you fancy a read (don't worry they won't take you that long, haha!) :

Hello Sunshine Adventures : Colorado and Utah
My Sunshine Team
Supper clubs, origami, sushi and wetsuits
Popping my Blogtacular cherry

2016 saw lots of lovely Sunshine commissions including, families, newlyweds, engagements and pets of all kinds! I'm sure I don't need to remind you how much I LOVE drawing, especially when each one is so unique and personal to the customer! Below are just a few of my faves from last year but you can see more in the ever-growing Sunshine albums over on my facebook page too.

As well as my regular digital Sunshine portraits, I had the absolute pleasure (and slightly terrifying experience) of taking my doodling skills back to The Malt Cross for Handmade Nottingham's Winter Market to do LIVE PORTRAITS! Eeep!

I was so scared, not only do I hate people watching me work but the fear or not being good enough with watercolours and ink was enough to keep my hands shaking for most of the day. However, I can honestly say that the kindness of the people sitting for their portraits, the smiles on their faces after they received their portrait and the overall fun of the day was just THE BEST experience ever!

I enjoyed it so much that I've agreed to go back again in the Spring for Handmade Nottingham's next Market and I'm genuinely excited! You may have already seen a few practice portraits popping up on my Instagram and I can't wait to meet new faces and spend the day drawing on the 19th March again.

P E R S O N A L   G O A L S

When I wrote my post last January, I was still fairly new to Cambridge but was already falling in love with the place. Almost 18 months after moving I am head over heals and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring my new home and all it has to offer, including:

Riverside rambles to and from the post office or in to town. The river became my favourite place to train for my very first Marathon too!

Cycle rides on Pi and Clarice, from quick trips in to town down the river to longer rides with the beard across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire. No hills makes me happy but then again does nothing for actual training... I really struggle up the teeniest of hills on my bike now!

A mighty fun photowalk with the best bunch of local creatives provided the perfect excuse to meet new faces and design a pretty map - which also helped me no end when it came to finding my way around.

Photo credit : Samantha Claridge

You can read a bit more about the fun we had on the Cambridge Creatives photowalk this post and you can see LOADS of everyone's snaps from the day by searching for the #CambridgeCreativesPhotowalk tag on Instragram.

Speaking of people, I have honestly met the NICEST, MOST KIND, CREATIVE & FUN folk since moving here. Namely Claire of Clairebellemakes! Now I'm sure I've mentioned Claire in a few of my blog posts, she invited me to lunch when I first moved here and since then we must have chatted every day. I can honestly say that I can't imagine life here without her now and feel like we've known each other forever! (sorry Claire, I promise not to gush any more!)

I was alway so worried about not being able to meet new people when I moved - working from home and on your lonesome makes it tough, but with the magic of social media I have met a fantastic bunch of lovelies through Claire, the Cambridge Etsy team, the Cambridge Creatives FB group and various other FB & Instgram pods. Social media is social!

I am also super lucky to have three of my primary (one nursery!) school friends in the local area too. We chat regularly and try to get together as often as we can, with busy lives getting in the way it's sometimes tough but it's so nice to have them and almost 30 years of friendship close by too!

.I suppose I can't really leave out another rather LARGE part of my Cambridge discovery and something very close to my heart.... ALL the food here!!

There are SO many amazing places to eat and drink in Cambridge town and I'm sure it's no big secret how much a LOVE my food and how often we take advantage of the many food vans and traders here. One of my favourite personal projects from last year was drawing the vans we visit and the #fattybumbumdrawsvans collection grew quickly...

I feel super lucky to say there have certainly been a fair few of these! Whether they've been mini adventures around town, visiting new restaurants, local events, weekends away, day trips or full on jollidays - I think it's safe to say 2016 saw A LOT of fun in between the day to day goings on!

I started to try and capture my adventures with Will by creating little Sunshine doodles of us both, it started off well in the first few months:

...but I must confess I still have a few more to catch up on (which I am determined to finish!) but until then here are a couple of cheeky jolliday snaps instead...

We ended 2016 with another adventure over New Years which involved Camping, Glamping, a whole lot of walking, beautiful scenery and even some snow!

Starting the new year waking up in our little cabin too was the perfect way to welcome 2017 and with our new National Trust membership I'm pretty sure the adventures will continue this year too! YAY!

The mental side of this goal was always going to be a challenge to me, it still is and may be it always will be but you know what, that's OK and for once I feel at ease saying that. Everyone has their demons and everyone deals with them in their own ways.

I might not post about my struggles on here or social media but that's not because I'm trying to hide them. It's because I don't often have the right words and when I do have that little black rain cloud over my head it's scrolling back through my instagram feed, blog posts and everyone's comments that helps bring the sunshine back again. That and a nice cup of tea with loved ones or cuddles with the kitties.

I will always open up and honestly discuss mental health and any anxiety struggles or trouble with anyone though so please, if it's something you'd like to hear about from me more, let me know!

On the physical health side of things I did indeed start running and cycling more and I set myself the MAHOOSIVE challenge of running a full Marathon. The training was hard, it was hot over Summer and I didn't stick to my plan or train nearly enough but once I found a way to control my negative mind gremlins I decided I would do it no matter how long it took me...

...and on September 25th 2016 I ran, albeit mighty slowly, 26.1 miles in under 6 hours! Granted I haven't done a lot of running since then but my goodness am I proud of myself for actually getting to the starting line and pushing through to the end. Seeing my parents, the beard, my sister and little niece at the finish line was enough to make my heart burst too, it was a truly emotional experience all round!

As well as training for the marathon I also told myself I'd make the most of each day by getting outside. Whether it was a short walk to the post box or a hike up a mountain on one of our adventures, I enjoy being outdoors so much and it really does do wonders for my mind and body!

Rather than set solid goals and force myself into having to do exercise, last year I realised I just need to get out there and do whatever I want to. It doesn't matter if it's a marathon, paddleboarding, hiring a surf board or just a little walk down the river - if it feels good, just do it and have fun.

Ooft! Well there's my big-little round up of what 2016 brought in line with some of the goals I'd set myself but as I'm sure most of you will appreciate - that's not all that 2016 delivered! I mean, I can't possibly go into the detail of everything that I'd like to share with you but I thought the next best thing (which may also be easier on your reading eyes!) would be to share some highlights. So following on from some of the fun things I've already written about, here are 10 more experiences I thought might be worth mentioning...


1. Ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado : (blog post here)

2. Designing Clarence the Corgi for the Royal Yacht Britannia : (blog post here)

3. Rekindling my love of watercolour painting and taking part in INKtober

4. Meeting and working with the brains behind Copper Boom Studio, Jenny Hyde. I have absolutely loved working on lots of projects with Jenny and her team in their beautiful barn location, including creating this exciting range of Gilmore Girls pins, which also appeared on BuzzFeed! YAY!

5. Being featured in one of my FAVOURITE magazines, Caboodle! EEP!

6. Spending time with my family and friends when they visit me in Cambridge!

7. Meeting the lovely folk who run Cambridge Eagle Labs and learning to use a laser cutter myself!

8. Being able to support and see my folks start up their very own business. The Workbench Shop is all about providing handcrafted wood solutions for the home and creative community, from custom made gates and shelving solutions around the house to bespoke display items and props for creatives.

I loved helping them with the beginning of their branding journey and I'm so proud, pleased and excited to see where they take the Workbench Shop in 2017!

9. Having the rather surreal experience of seeing my face on a double page spread in a local magazine! Eek! I was honoured to be interviewed by Cambridge Magazine as part of the Handmade Christmas special, both exciting and cringeworthy all at the same time!

10. And because it's the biggest, bestest, most mentalist highlight for me, I've saved it for last... the beard gave me a yellow canary diamond and asked me to BE HIS WIFE! Yup! We got engaged on Christmas day and it was the BIGGEST surprise ever! If you're interested maybe I can write a mini post about how it all happened?!

Aaaaanywho... on that MEGAEXCITINGNEWS I think I'll end my one and only blog post of 2017 so far! I promise it won't be the last time I write but I won't be making you any promises or setting any blogging expectations myself just yet either.

Usually I'd leave you with some thoughts and goals for the year ahead but I'd quite like to mix up the format of these end of year posts and try to keep my blog a bit more fluid and natural. That may mean huge gaps of quietness, or random burst of excitement and information, it may mean there will be the odd essay or just some nice photos now and then but something tells me 2017 is going to bring a lot of exciting times with a wedding to plan and many adventures to be had!

One thing you can be sure of though are regular snaps and posts on both of my Instagram accounts - yellow and more business-shaped updates will continue to fill my Hello Sunshine feed (@Sunshine_Jo), while more random snaps of food, cats and day to day ramblings will appear over my personal account (@jo_want). So make sure you're following if you'd like a regular dose of Sunshine and Jo-shaped randomness!

I hope you've enjoyed the read if you got this far and if you'd like to leave a comment or send me an email please do - I'd love to hear from you and know what you think of these little waffly updates! Until the next time though, I wish you all a happy, healthy, fun-filled year ahoy!

Keep smiling and thank you for being there for me through so much over the years, I still pinch myself regularly that this is my job and I wouldn't be here without YOU guys supporting me. True story.