There are all kinds of reasons for blogging. I’m sure that a quick web search on why should I blog would come up with a whole heap of information.

Still, I have had to explain why I write my thoughts online to say many people. Family and friends don’t always understand the desire I have to write articles and share photographs. Sometimes, I don’t fully understand it either.

I was writing my ‘About’ section this past weekend and I realised that I just couldn’t really explain why I write this blog, or why I felt compelled to start blogging in 2005 (!) through MSN. Over the years, I have had a wide span of blogs, some public, some anonymous. I’ve dabbled in different subjects and reasons. I have learned a lot about what to put online, what not to put online and how to manage my own expectations when it comes to blogging.

So, yesterday, I sat down and wrote out my reasons for wanting to blog.

Blogging provides an outlet

There are many beneficial purposes to blogging. For me, The Lemon Hive provides a space for me to be creative, to share images, art work and design. It allows me to practice and share my skills, connect with like minded people and write. Writing used to be really important to me and I stopped doing it. Now it provides a cathartic outlet for me to type out my feelings, experiences and document my life.

Staying connected through my blog

I wanted to stay in touch with people, to share information with the people in my life. That is why I first started blogging in 2005. In 2010, things got real! I started to look toward moving to Canada, far away from all the relationships I’d built up over a lifetime. Leaving England meant that I would miss an incredible number of awesome people but that it would be increasingly difficult to keep them all updated on my doings as I acclimatised to a new culture.

When we moved to Ontario, I also wanted a way to stay in touch with my Albertan friends, to keep them informed of where I was in the world and what I was doing. It’s the little things that keep relationships strong. I love that my friends and family read this because it means that when we do talk, I get to listen to their stories, we save time and I’m not constantly repeating myself. It makes for much better and improved conversations. Streamlined, ya might say.

Blogging helps my creativity to grow

I used to love writing, drawing, painting and using computers but one day, I just stopped. In 2010, I decided to try being creative again. I started reassessing my skills with technology and started considering my photography as  a real hobby and my desire to learn web design as more than a passing fad. The progress was slow. Finally, I found my rhythm in 2013 and I needed somewhere to share it. It provided a way of documenting all the little things that I do and The Lemon Hive was born from that.

The Lemon Hive helps me to stay positive

I am a pro at hearing other peoples’ stories and seeing the positives hidden within them. I am so proud of my friends and family members who achieve goals and great dreams. However, I’m also brilliant at not applying my own advice and being unable to see the silver linings in the dark parts of my own story. I am a mastermind at looking at other peoples’ lives and seeing only to how brilliant they are in comparison to my own. Blogging has allowed me to document my life in a way that I had never done before. It holds me accountable. I have to share the positive moments, the accomplishments the battles I have fought and in doing that I create my own record of my life, which is equally vibrant and rich.

Life is so quick to become a chore, to become tired. Documenting my story allows me the opportunity to rewrite it, to see those chores and daily bores in a different light, and to reminisce about the small things that make life so bloomin’ fantastic.

Blogging allows me to document my growth

I already said that blogging allows me to grow creatively, but I failed to mention that The Lemon Hives mere existence means that I compare one year to the next. Every time I post something I am left feeling a little more confident in my ability to be creative. Confidence is key and that key is found, partly, through my ability to share and receive feedback.

It can be difficult to maintain a consistent attitude toward blogging, especially when it can seem embarrassing or awkward to have one. I mean, what’s the point of pouring yourself into it?

It can be scary pouring yourself into something because when you do that you risk failing. This is why I find it important that you pour yourself into something with reasons that encourage your growth. That way, even if it doesn’t work out you finish it off and you still win!

Why do you keep a blog? What are your reasons?

A few months ago, I came up with the brilliant idea that I should paint my walls in the style of Alisa Burke, the woman that is, to me, the definition of artistic bravery. Hand painted walls have always appealed to me. Ask my parents, they were rather perplexed when I used water paints to draw what was (in hindsight) a rather dreadful flower on my bright yellow bedroom wall. I loved it at the time, my dad did not when, years later, he had to do use three to four coats to cover it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to do trial runs aka I am not as brave as Alisa Burke. If I’m honest, I’m not convinced I’m ever going to get around to completing this project. I hope I do! In the meantime, it was a useful motivational tool to get me to practice drawing flowers.

This one (the long picture above) was drawn on the back of a cereal box (I am nothing if not resourceful!). I used permanent marker simply because it was on hand. I also had to do it in stages because, actually, those fumes are lethal!

 This one I did with paints as I spoke to The Canadian about his day. This one is on the back of a pizza box. I didn’t enjoy how it soaked up the paint colours but I did enjoy how messy it was.

 I have been on such a recycling kick at the moment too! My friend bought be a gift in a pretty orange paper bag and now that paper bag has a painting of flowers on it. I discovered pretty quickly that I should draw more than I think I’ll need because once you fill in the background the foreground quickly becomes sparse.

 This final one was never completed. I got tired of breathing in sharpie marker fumes. It’s amusing to me how quickly I jump from one medium to another. One week it’s paint, the next it’s sharpies. Oh, my flighty mind!

After all of this I got a little brave and painted directly on the basement wall…I was really into it as well until I realised there was a grumpy spider watching me. That quickly put an end to any big aspirations I had.

Would you ever consider painting directly onto a wall? With the price of wallpapers it seems to be the only affordable option to having pretty walls.

mendhi inspired patterns and line drawing on the lemon hive

A while ago a friend requested I draw up a wedding card for her neice’s ‘fusion’ wedding. She gave me a copy of a thank you card her niece had sent her and told me the colours that she would be wearing as Aunt-of-the-bride.

turquoise, yellow and purple mendhi inspired painted patterns on the lemon hive

For most of my teens I was obsessed with the middle eastern, Indian and Pakistani design. I loved watching friends write Arabic and if the opportunity for Mendhi came up then I was there. The intricate designs and time consuming pattern appealed to me. I even spent the vast majority of my time absorbing as much as I could about the religious and cultural aspects of the countries, including the histories. Needless to say, I was really honoured and excited to be asked to design this piece of work.

These designs are all rough sketches and experiments with colours and patterns, but I am pleased with the results. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure that comes from re-visiting topics, cultures and art that reignites passion and drive.

What do you think of these?

I love Pinterest. It has been a great place for me to keep track of my changing tastes, as well as an endless source of inspiration.

Recently, patterns and texture has provided the main source of pleasure. I just love patterns! Especially those with ikat and geometric inspired print. In my opinion, the brighter the colour the better.

So, here are my top 7 pinterest boards that provide a great source of pattern inspiration:

Kimokame: Textiles, Surface and Pattern

This board has over 26k pins, and 510 pinners. It’s forever being updated and filled with patterns, texture inspiration and fashion pieces. It’s a great place to start, and, if you’re new to group pin boards, this  board is for you. They welcome new pinners often.

Laura Bolter: Patterns 

This board is regularly updated, with beautiful patterns and art inspiration to encourage your creativity.

Hannah Teej: Design: Patterns and Texture

Over the past year, I have worked hard at developing a board of patterns that I love! When I first started drawing and painting again, I was often stuck with where to start or what to do. Emulating patterns in creative ventures is one of the best ways to practice. They don’t take up as much time as detailed drawings and can be really useful for practising new styles and exploring your own tastes. It’s also one of the many boards I look over when I just need some eye candy. Bonus, because it’s very low in sugar!

Myro Doodles: Inspiration

I love Myro Doodles Pinterest. It’s the ultimate happy place. Her boards are overflowing with design, pick me ups and general feel good moments. Most of her pattern choices are inspired by Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Indian-esque traditional design.

Ana Sender:Pattern

Ana is a fan of intricate pattern. I love looking over her board and getting lost in the complexity and detail. Definitely not something that I can use as inspiration (yet!) but her board is a reminder of what I aspire to be able to do.

Erin Dollar: Patterns

This board is completely different to Ana’s. It comprises of print, pattern and texture with tonal colours. The simplicity of the board is amazing. As an added bonus, Erin has includes examples of ‘pattern in action’, in the home, on clothes and in the workplace.

Kiriki Press:Pattern Inspiration

Patterns are simplistic, colourful, cheery and cute. It’s the sort of board you want to look at for a pick me up. Amazing.

I also love these boards for pattern and creative inspiration. These ones are not necessarily limited to pattern but they’re still really fun:

  • Celi Valiño has some really awesome graphics and patterns collected on this board. I am also in love with the super awesome ceramic one as well.
  • Camila Barreto has a collection of doodles and icons and, although not really about pattern, it is a great source of clean cut images and simple design. Her journalling board is filled with great writing inspiration and great examples of how to apply pattern into creative and personal development.
  • Charuca‘s boards are filled with colour, design and just general brilliance. I love the colours and the prettiness. I spent a long time purusing through these.

Does anyone else have a pattern board on Pinterest or is it just me? Leave links to your boards below! There is nothing better than a colourful, bright, exuberant and bright pattern Pinterest feed when you log in.

Emeli Sande lyrics on hand drawn patterned wedding card by the lemon hive

Weddings are one of my favourite things to celebrate. I love that wedding cards are one of the most intimate and special items that can be given at a wedding. Most people keep their wedding cards to review time and again and it provides the perfect opportunity for me to really invest time and effort into the card and leave a lasting impression.

I loved spending the time on this detail and, for many months, it was blank. Then a friend in Edmonton told me that she was getting married and incorporating an old, vintage theme into her decor. This card took about 2 hours to complete and, I knew instantly, that I wanted her and her, now husband, to get this card. After listening to various love songs and came across this one by Emeli Sande. Her song seemed to fit their relationship perfectly.

Her album later came to inspire a whole host of art projects for the remainder of the autumn. I love it when a plan comes together.

I think this style would make a brilliant congratulations on your engagement, job promotion, graduation. I just love the potential that white on black offers.

Is it just me that keeps special and memorable cards, or do you too?

Christmas is drawing to a close and my attention is fast changing to focus on the new year and resolutions. As 2013 draws to a close, I am reflecting upon my goals and what I want my 2014 path to look like. I wrote about my feelings of uncertainty and direction over here and I have spent a lot of my December taking time to think about me. Although my plans are not yet set in stone, I know that I am inspired to be more constructively creative and active in my life. As soon as I plan it out more, I will be sharing.

In the meantime, I’ve been developing an awesome friendship with Pages Matam, who spoke here earlier this month. We’ve been talking about creativity, purpose and direction, all the things I’ve been struggling with lately. He kindly offered to share some of his tips on how to start being creative and focused.


When did you become interested in poetry and teaching?

I first was interested in poetry in middle school. I fell in love with teaching may be about two years ago working for Split This Rock building the LTAB-DMV Youth teaching and empowerment program. Seeing the way these kids were impacted by not just my work with them, but how they found their voices and used them to grow not just as writers/artist but people it is so beautiful. Those kids inspire me to do and be better.

When did you realise that your work was making a difference?

After the first time a young boy came up to me after I did a poem about a friend of mine
committing suicide, saying that he wants to do and be better with his life and being a good
kid to his mother. The kid must’ve been no older than 10 years old. A few moments after,
the boy’s mother came up to me and confessed on how she was ready to give up on life
and call everything quits, and how her poem inspired her to keep pushing and going forward.
At that time, i was may be 16/17. But something clicked in me, on how art can be a  source
of healing and inspiration, and that words hold such power and can make a huge difference.

What does your son think of your poetry and work?

He is only 6 years old, he thinks it’s fun…he is not really into poetry though, he just likes being able to stay out late and be at venues with lights and he gets to eat all the food and hear adults say crazy things.

Tell me a little bit about why art heals and words have power.

Art heals because there is something about Art that allows to manifest healing. It allows you to use your imagination to express whatever darkness you may be going thru, but also it gives what a lot of people tend to lack in that time of darkness – power and control: whether it is over their own bodies, their minds, their feelings, the outcome of a situation. With your imagination you can create any outcome that you so desire. And that in itself is powerful and can provide such a great step in healing. With that said, words are extremely powerful. There is energy in the things that we say and how we act upon them. knowing how to navigate the world with that energy, how they can empower or hurt people, how they can give or take away, is extremely important.

6 Tips for Increased Creativity and Staying on a Creative Path

  • Just write. No matter what it is. Whether a single word or a thousand paragraphs, write. Allow the words to spring forth on their own, don’t force them.
  • Read. Watch and listen to other work too, but also read. I could not be where I am without having read/watched/seen such a diverse array of work from writers/artists from all around the world and from all walks of life.
  • Find a trusted person/mentor and loved ones that you can share not only your work but yourself with. It’s important to have people you trust in your life. 
  • Be authentic and genuine. Your work will reflect it.
  • Be open minded and receptive of change, especially in competitive slam. Bad scores don’t mean your work is bad, but it doesn’t mean that you’re better than anyone else either. They’re just a reflection of other people’s opinion.
  • Remember always why you do what you do. The purpose in your work and keeping a clear sigh of it. Be fierce and unrelenting in that notion. Don’t let anyone take that away from you, no one.

What do you do to stay creative, inspired and confident?

Pages Matam is a multidimensional national touring artist, residing in the D.C. metropolitan area, but originally from Cameroon, Africa. He is a Write Bloody author, playwright, and award winning slam poet (2time DC Grand Slam Champion, 2013 Southern Fried Champion) with passions in the field of youth, activism, and education. Along with his greatest accomplishment, being a father, he is also a proud gummy bear elitist, bowtie enthusiast, professional hugger and anime fanatic. As he takes stage – as a poet, educator, or host – be prepared to be taken on an experience of cultural, socially conscious, and personal discovery unapologetic in its silly, yet visceral and beautifully honest in its storytelling.

This post contains reference to topics that are of a sensitive nature.


To the man on the bus I overheard in conversation, tell a woman, presumably a friend…

The words starting simply, slowly built with intensity to an unheard rhythm, leaving a harrowing echo and adrenaline coursing through my body. This is the talent of Pages Matam and the power of his poetry.

Pinata hit the internet through Upworthy a few weeks ago, making Pages a star in the way only a viral video can. The poem is a dark commentary on societal views and beliefs about rape and abuse. It left me dumbfounded, it left me intrigued.

I sought out Pages’ work; my research leading me to discover that not only is Pages a talented creator but he is also dedicated to his craft and the improvement of society. The 2010 and 2012 Grand Slam Champion, co-host of the GraffitiDC Slam series and winner of the Write Bloody New Author Award for his newly released book: “God Circus”, he is not without major success.

A few weeks ago, I sat down to have a chat with man who had left me speechless. A far cry from the 11 year old with little English, Pages has developed a strong relationship with words and is diligent with their presentation. Within minutes of our chat, he explains the energy and power that words have, ending by sharing that he is wary that once words are out there’s no taking them back. Having spent the last few years developing workshops for all generations to pursue their passion of creative writing, he now offers sessions on the healing power that words and creativity can create.

Art gives you access to your unknown self, forcing you to face your truth

To Pages, words, poetry and being creative are the best way to actively listen to yourself. With an outlook like that, it’s hard not to feel goosebumps when you consider that his personal history has not been the easiest. It is through writing poetry and using it to reflect, that Pages has been able to combine the power of therapy and self-awareness to overcome addictions and abuse. However, it’s only in recent years that he has started pouring parts of himself into his published work. For years, he ignored reflective pieces in favour of commenting on the world and neglecting the issues impacting his personal life the most. A seemingly innocent conversation with his son made him turn inwards, leading to his first personal history piece, Cancerous Growth. Since then, he has started discussing broader truths, moving away from love poetry, which, he assures me, were really very bad and beginning to build his own balance between personal history and commentary on the society he is most passionate about. He has joined Split This Rock and developed a passion to fight social injustice and promote positive culture change through creativity.

Bringing the truth to power through words…

It is clear that Pages has a great passion for change, creativity and politics and he seems to have found a balance between them all. I asked why creativity had a place in the realm of social awareness and the campaign for social change and he went quiet. Slowly, he told me a story of what it is like to be an immigrant with a memory and understanding of one culture but the socialisation and habituation of another, one that does not always recognise who you are. His story weaves through and around topics of ethnicity, gender, and belonging, acknowledging but not forgiving the problems society has created around them. Stereotypes, he explains, are difficult, because you cannot challenge them without feeding them and encouraging their growth. He continues on, explaining that expressing yourself creatively, providing a platform that anyone, regardless of background can relate to, is one of the many ways safe discussions about social injustice can occur.

Just write, I started writing love poems; they were dreadful things…you can be a doctor or a banker but you need to be creative

At this point, my 30 minute conversation has fast morphed into 40, 45, and, eventually, 60 minutes. It is easy to become wrapped up in conversation with Pages, he is intelligent and relaxed. He tells me about his dreams to build a school that focuses on the importance of creativity. Why, I wonder, is creativity so important? “…because it forces you to face your truth”. He tells me stories of his youth and the dedication of his mother to ensure that he had creativity in his life. It doesn’t matter what field you end up in, you could be a doctor or a banker but creativity is going to help. You need to know how to deal with emotion, you need to know it’s ok to feel and that feeling a particular emotion is neither bad nor good, it just is. It’s what you do with it that counts and this, Pages says, is where creativity plays a role.

It’s ok to be angry and guilty, even if they’re useless emotions

I cannot leave without asking him about the Pinata success. He is surprised by it, he didn’t really think that so many people would be interested in it. He tells me that he has received messages from men and women all over the globe, Pakistan, England, Canada, US, the middle east… Most, he says, are messages of support, promotion or relation. What makes Pinata so special? At first he’s unsure, but then he quotes something his friend told him “you’re giving a voice to the voiceless”, he elaborates further, not taking credit for representing other peoples’ experiences but instead highlighting the importance of speaking about pain and using it to heal. Your story, he says, is your story. But you never know how it will resonate with other people.

Your story is your story but you don’t know how it will resonate with other people

We speak a little longer and eventually call it a day. I leave our conversation feeling inspired and refreshed. Some how, I feel like I have just left a particularly good therapy session where previously uncovered truths were revealed. Pages has a funny way with words and is definitely someone to keep watching.

If you’re interested in following Pages Matam’s journey, reading his work or learning more about him check out the links below. Over the next two weeks, I’ll have a question and answer session from Pages and 6 step guide on how to get creative. It’s going to be fabulous!

Pages Matam is a multidimensional national touring artist, residing in the D.C. metropolitan area, but originally from Cameroon, Africa. He is a Write Bloody author, playwright, and award winning slam poet (2time DC Grand Slam Champion, 2013 Southern Fried Champion) with passions in the field of youth, activism, and education. Along with his greatest accomplishment, being a father, he is also a proud gummy bear elitist, bowtie enthusiast, professional hugger and anime fanatic. As he takes stage – as a poet, educator, or host – be prepared to be taken on an experience of cultural, socially conscious, and personal discovery unapologetic in its silly, yet visceral and beautifully honest in its storytelling.

I love writing cards and letters but knowing where to start can be really difficult, even for those who love words.

Embarrassingly, it took 6 months to post out our thank you letters following our wedding. Dreadful etiquette, I know. Really bad. Some of that guilt lifted when I realised many people don’t even send a thank you tweet let alone a card after their big day, but I digress.

Thank you notes are important. Whether they are sent verbally, through Facebook or through the mail, saying thank you is what makes the world a nicer place to live in and it makes you feel better.

Verbal Gratitude

This is, hands down, the best way to say thanks. It is fraught with awkwardness and the necessity of showing sincerity, two things that are not easy to do.

To sincerely thank someone in person, or, by stretching it, over Skype or Face Time, just remember these simple rules:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Be sincere. Don’t make jokes or diminish the gratitude. If you must joke, save it until the end.
  3. Start by saying that you’re grateful/thankful/incredibly happy for XY and Z. Express how it made a difference, why you enjoyed the act and how much the gift meant to you.

For example:

“I am really grateful that you spent last night talking with me after my break up with So-and-So, it meant a lot to me knowing that I still had a great friend.”

“I love you for cleaning the house on your day off, it means so much that you cleaned the areas I hate and that you did this for me! Thank you.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful wedding gift. It is the perfect, as Husband and I had decided to become healthier before the wedding. Your juicer will definitely make it easier to consume all those exotic fruits that we’re not sure what to do with”

Hand Written Gratitude

Writing a thank you card or letter is really awesome. Especially if it has to go through good old fashioned snail mail. There’s something delightful about receiving mail thats only purpose is to iterate how fabulous you are.

I have a tendency to be incredibly flowery when I write thank you cards, ask any one of my friends anywhere and it is likely they will have received note cards with both inside pages filled with squished writing and gushing words of love. Sometimes, there are drawings. When I feel particularly creative, I will limit words and just make little people express my intention through stick figure dance.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a thank you card, although I would leave the more wordy and elaborate ones for close friends and family.

As a general rule, follow the formula below.

Thank you for + specific action / item + what impact it has on your life / how you will use it

A written card has more impact if its sole purpose is to convey thanks, so leave out the updates, further requests for money and gossip. Just write thank you.

If you want your card to be a little fuller and more ‘robust’, you could elaborate in my detail, focusing on feeling and expressing sincerity.

“Thank you for your friendship over these past years. It is amazing to me that even though we are literally thousands of miles away, you and I have maintained a strong relationship. I know that often we go weeks, and sometimes months, without talking to each other but it always feels as though no time passed at all. You are truly wonderful etc. etc.”

Electronic Gratitude

Ok, so I debated putting this one in. Does saying thank you electronically even count as anything?

I’d like to think it does. Although it’s definitely not conventional and doesn’t have the impact of a handwritten note or verbal expression of thanks, it’s still good for reconnecting, reaffirming gratefulness and connecting with those who you are close with to those who you’ve just met.

Sending a thank you message through any electronic medium is really very easy and should be used as a minimum.

Choose your format properly. E-mail is a safe bet generally, but you could use Facebook/Twitter etc.

E-mail allows you take anything from an informal to formal approach, whereas Facebook and Twitter do mean that some informality is expected. Don’t send anything important via social media, saying thank you for your job interview through FB just sends a bad message. Don’t do it. Just send the physical thank you note card and skip electronic altogether.

What are your go to thank you guidelines? Which way do you prefer to express thanks?

I have been working away like a fiend on my Etsy shop and it is now officially ready for Christmas and holiday business.

With these brand new features:

Now you can buy all your favourite cards from the lemon hive for even less! Each card is an original, hand painted or hand drawn notecard. These are not prints! They double up as art and look fabulous in a frame and they are individual. As unique as you and the recipient. Basically, they are a gift in themselves.

Why did I start creating hand painted cards?

Having moved to Canada and having left all of my friends and family behind me, I was finding it difficult to afford sending them gifts all the time. It wasn’t the gift itself but more the postage costs. I wanted to give them something they could frame, that would bring them joy when they picked it up at the post office or when it landed in their letterbox. It was frustrating not knowing where to start. So, eventually, I started making my own cards. Writing great words in them and expressing my gratitude for their continued existence in my life and for their friendship and love.

I received wonderful feedback about these cards. They became my go to for letting my loved ones know that I still missed them even if I couldn’t afford to send large fancy parcels of maple syrup.

I started working on my art technique and dabbling in different styles and it’s fair to say that now I definitely have a rhythm and a definitive style.

What makes the Lemon Hive Etsy Shop special?

Customisation. I will tweak, add to, make and design cards for you. I just completed a 130 Christmas card order for a bride in London. She wanted to have greetings cards at her reception that doubled up as place cards. It was a brilliant experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in action.

I put customer service as a priority, with a 10 day turn around. It was intense but she received the cards within 2 weeks of ordering them.

Writing the cards is another service I offer. I am very mushy gushy by nature but I know this isn’t for everyone and it can be difficult to think of the write words (see what I did there? right/write?). I  am happy to chat with you about the recipient and pop it all into the card, posting directly to the person you miss. It saves you an extra postage cost and makes for a really awesome experience for the person receiving it.

How has been an expat affected your take on notecards?

I must admit, I didn’t really ‘do’ notecards before moving. Then my friends started sending me beautifully written notes and postcards. It was then that I realised I genuinely looked forward to ‘just because’ mail. I started decorating my envelopes and writing beautiful sentiments. I never throw a card away. They are all here in a, once little but now big, box in my office. Every now and then I look through them.

Expressing gratitude and greetings cards

Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about gratitude, what it can do for you and what it is. For those who are familiar with the 5 love languages, mine is words of affirmation. I like to express my love for others through telling them what they mean to me and why I think they’re fabulous. Being able to put this in something pretty and offer them a gift at the same time is part of what makes The Lemon Hive store so special. I want to broach that gap and be able to offer a great gift regardless of cost.

They’re also a great choice for secret santa gifts and they pair up nicely with a bottle of wine!

It’s no secret that I love Etsy. It’s fast becoming my favourite place to create mood boards (like Pinterest but with things I can actually afford) and exploring other creative talents that are out there. 

I ended up having a chat with Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl a few weeks ago. Her jewellery is fantastic and I am in love with how she documents it in her shop. I am absolutely smitten with these earrings

After getting to know Rhi a little bit, I was super excited to find out more about her creative process. It’s one thing to see the end product, it’s another to understand what goes into it.

I am so excited to have Rhi from Rhinestone and Pearl with us today. I first came across Rhi on Etsy. Rhinestone and Pearl is a wonderful store. I loved that when I visited her shop, I was met by beautiful photographs and rich colours. Absolutely stunning and definitely not your average handmade jewellery. I was really happy when Rhi decided to pop on over to The Lemon Hive and talk about her jewellery and her creativity.

Over to you Rhi!

I’ve loved sparkly jewelry for as long as I can remember. My Gran always wore rhinestone brooches and I remember looking at them and thinking that they were so pretty. She would let me wear one sometimes when we went out for dinner and I felt so special and grown up. Now, 40 years later, I get to play with rhinestones every day, and they always remind me of her. As for the pearls……well, who doesn’t love a strand of pearls? They go with everything! I have 12 pearl necklaces. Some handmade, some store bought, but all beautiful. 

Growing up with a passion for jewellery and sparkly pieces fed your desire to start making it, but it can be really daunting when you decide to sell it and at the same time open yourself up to the public. When did you decide that your products were good enough to sell? 

Actually, some days I still wonder if my hand made pieces are good enough. I second guess myself a lot. I can’t even count how many times I’ve finished a piece and then torn it apart and started all over again because I didn’t think it was good enough.

I’ve been making jewelry for about 20 years, but only selling it for about 10. My style has changed over the years (and improved a lot). I’ve finally settled on a style that I love, and enjoy making and offering to my customers.

After 10 years of selling you’ve surely found a rhythm for producing and selling. What does your average week/day look like?

My day usually starts at around 5AM. I read through the Etsy forums while I drink coffee and fully wake up, or process overnight orders to ship out. Sometimes I wake up with a new design idea rolling around in my head. On those days, I get started on creating right away. Some days my creative muse decides to sleep in. When that happens, I work on the shop- listing new items, processing photos, working on titles/tags/SEO, promoting (all the not-so-fun behind the scenes things). The shop takes up the majority of my time. I spend a few hours with the hubby in the evening, then fall asleep in my recliner. That’s my schedule just about every day.

What happens when your creative muse sleeps in, how do you wake it up and keep it fresh? Have you always been a creative person?

I have always been creative. I joke that I have crafting A.D.D. I’ve done so many different creative and/or crafty things, but none of them made me as happy as the jewelry…..well, maybe cooking and baking. I do regret that I wasn’t able to learn to sew. My Mom is amazing at sewing! She used to make almost all of my clothes when I was little, and my dolls always had matching dresses. She did try to teach me, but after the sewing machine needle went through my thumb, that was it for me.

This might sound strange, but to keep my creativity fresh, I buy new beads and rhinestones. I look at them and get ideas on how to put them together to make something pretty. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

Absorbing yourself in creativity and trying new things is all part of the experience. It can take a while to find your creative footing, so what advice would you give to someone that wants to start out on Etsy or wants to start enhancing their creativity and crafting skills


Learn as much as you can to improve your craft. The Etsy forums contain a wealth of information, youtube has videos on making all sorts of things, Google is your friend! If you don’t know something, ask. There is bound to be someone who knows the answer. I learn something new just about every day. The talent on Etsy is AMAZING!


 After someone has tried a new skill and thinks ‘yeah, this is the one for me’, what’s the next step? Where would you find the confidence to put yourself out there? 

You’ll never know until you try. Start small and work your way up. You don’t have to have 50 or 100 items to open a shop. I’ve seen shops with only 1 or 2 items that can be remade and sold over and over again. Every single Etsy shop was a “newbie” at one time. The ones that are still around 6 or 7 years later put in the work and time to make their shops a success. Each small victory gives you more confidence. I still do a little happy dance with every sale! 

It’s such a rush to have a new sale, I still get butterflies and wonder whether it’ll be good enough for the client and, you’re right, every sale is a small victory. Like you said, a successful small business is a slow process, what would you say is key to starting your own small creative business?

The ability to function on little to no sleep, being able to keep going when you just want to quit, tenacity, determination, drive, hunger……see the theme here? You have to WANT to succeed, or you won’t. Having a supportive partner/spouse/family is very important too, because you are going to spend a LOT of time on this venture. It’s not something you can just put on auto-pilot, then expect to rake in the cash. Running a small business is a lot of work. 

If you were starting over again, would you do anything differently? If so, why would you change it? 

Oh gosh yes!!! I would learn so many more things before starting. I’d learn more about SEO, promoting, social media, get a better camera, and start working with rhinestones a lot sooner. I’d also take metalsmithing classes. That’s my next goal! I want to make gemstone rings and work with metals.  

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from the items I work with- the rhinestones, pearls and beads. I can look at them and get ideas for color combinations or designs. Recently, the inspiration came from a custom order from one of my lovely customers. She had bought a few of my bracelets and asked me to do a certain color combination for her. She left the design up to me. It turned out so well that I started a new line from that bracelet.

Where would you advise people to go to find their inspiration and why?

I think inspiration comes from a different place for everyone, so I would just say to look around you and think of the things that make you happy. Maybe it’s the medium you work with, or nature, or music, or your family, or any number of things. I can’t speak for anyone but myself.

Who are your biggest supporters?

My family. They cheer me on and constantly have to put up with me asking if a piece looks ok, they help me haul everything to shows and stick around to keep me company. The kids have also been known to do a bit of promoting for me, since I’m not as good at the social media thing as they are.

What is the best source for promoting your handmade products? 

I don’t know if it’s the best, but I use business cards and I tweet new items. My daugher in law wears the jewelry I’ve made for her and hands out business cards when people ask about it.

Small business ownership seems like a whole heap of hard work, but there must be an upside, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. So, what is the best part about owning your own handmade business?

That it’s all mine! If I want to work at 2 in the morning, in my pyjamas, listening to 80’s hair band music, I can. Try that at an office job *grin*.

I can totally relate to dancing around the office at 2am listening to music! Is that just me?!

Anyway, I digress. You should definitely go check out Rhi’s shop and Pinterest page.

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