Easter Bank Holiday Weekend 2013

It was cold…so cold that I had to make an emergency trip to Marks and Spencer to buy thermals for the children!

That said, Easter Weekend 2013 has been a lot of fun and rather than write about it, I thought I’d show you…so here you go, hope you like it!

 

 

 

Me, my business and I…

My blog posts often make reference to my business, Calonogi, but I realised that I’ve never formally introduced you to what I do or why I do it.

So how did it all begin? Well, I worked for the same large organisation from the time that I graduated until very recently, moving from one role to another as promotions came about. In the early years, I viewed it very much as a career; I was motivated to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as I could and basically thrived on building a good reputation for myself. Then came the children…and everything changed.

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After PFB (Perfect First Born) came along, although my life changed, having a child didn’t really affect the way that I viewed my career. I still applied for promotions and whilst PFB was in toddler mode, I was promoted into the most demanding and pressurised job that I’ve ever had. It didn’t bother me that I worked long hours, or did work on weekends or late into the night, I just wanted to do make sure that each task was completed to the best of my ability. And it was whilst I was doing this job that PSB (Perfect Second Born) decided to make himself known…

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Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll realise that PSB is quite a mischievous little thing and causes some kind of trouble on a daily basis; his 9 months of “cooking time” was no exception. It was a difficult pregnancy and one that was fraught with problems…I knew he was going to be trouble from the very beginning! And it didn’t end when he made his grand entrance either as my health continued to suffer (much like it is now actually, but that’s another story!).

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Going back to work was never going to be easy and what with two little ones to ferry around to breakfast club, crèche, football training and swimming lessons, it was hard. I felt that my life was not my own anymore. So I decided to do something about it and do something for myself for a change. I’d always loved to sew, it was a gift inherited from my grandmother, although both my grandmothers were quite crafty in fairness. Now, I’m not one for technical sewing and I have trouble following patterns; I love to be a bit more “freestyle”.  I like to think of my talent as creating art on fabric. So creating my bespoke fabric crafts business was a no-brainer really!

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So for a while, I did my crafty-thing, albeit only making things for friends and family at this point, alongside my 9-5 job…yes, I was completely insane to think that I could juggle everything and I had to come to the conclusion, that I, multi-tasker-extraordinaire, couldn’t do it all and live to tell the tale: this was a sad day. There were days that I would leave my desk, pick PSB up from crèche, collect PFB from after-school club, dash home, feed them both, change PSB into his pyjamas, take PFB swimming twenty miles away, come home, feed them again, put them to bed, get the sewing machine out and finally get to bed at around 3am. Not exactly a sustainable lifestyle I think you would agree!

Cue some difficult decisions and lots of heartache BUT, this did lead to my decision to establish my business and make a go of it. It’s been hard, it’s still scary, but I love every minute of it. It’s exciting when I see the orders come in and I love spending entire days making gorgeous pieces of fabric art for my customers and spending evenings sketching out designs ready for the following day. I could never call it a job, or a career, come to think of it…it’s an extension of me. This is what I was meant to do.

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It makes me laugh when I think back to my school days: deliberating over which subjects to do at GCSE, agonising over which A-Levels to take, which university to go to. Today it all seems so insignificant and irrelevant. I’m doing something that I don’t need any of those qualifications to do…unless you can think of a way in which a joint honours degree in Politics and English is relevant to making a coastal scene cushion?!

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So that’s where I am at the moment…self employed and loving it! Now for a bit about the business itself, Calonogi. I’m not one for making the same thing over and over again. I want everything I make to be unique to the person who commissions it…and I’ve had some great commissions! For me, it’s all about bespoke: if you can’t think of it, I can make it (and I’ve never said “no” to an idea to date). I work predominantly with fabric, with a bit of wood and clay thrown into the mix on occasion, just to keep it fresh! I make cushions, fabric frames, doorstops, bunting, children’s baking bags and everything in between…and they’re all personalised in their own unique little way, whether it be as  brazen as putting someone’s name across a cushion or slightly more subtle such as co-ordinating a doorstop to the colours of a customer’s living room. And then of course, there are the more unusual commissions…take a look at my facebook page to see some of my creations www.facebook.com/calonogi.

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So at the moment, my business is 75% “virtual” with orders pouring in through the Calonogi website and facebook page; the other 25% of my orders come through Calonogi displays on other retail premises. Breaking news for this week is the brand spanking new display at O&F’s Coffee Shop in Carmarthen. I was really excited to put his together as I had a particular concept in mind for the display. I didn’t want it to look like just a bunch of things for sale, so I went with the vision of “breakfast before travelling” complete with breakfast tray, travel ticket and vintage suitcase. So if you’re visiting the cobbled streets of Carmarthen in the near future, why not call in for a delicious latte and see what they have on display at O&F’s (the Italian leather handbags are to die for!) http://www.olioefarina.com/en/carmarthen

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There we go, insight into me and my business duly completed. It may be small scale at the moment…but I’m working on it!

See it all for yourself at www.calonogi.co.uk.

Over and out…

Today…a photo diary

I have been so manically busy this week; I’m really not exaggerating, it’s been borderline “losing my mind through stress” territory. I could use twenty thousand words to tell you about my week, using the thesaurus to find suitable three hundred suitable alternatives for “stress”, “pressure” and “losing the plot” but I thought I’d make it a bit more interesting. So here is a snapshot of my week: today…a photo diary.

The day started with work and a visit to Gwendraeth Valley Fine Foods who kindly host my products. You could say that it’s the physical version of www.calonogi.co.uk! So a quick restock and some new products added and then a bit of time spending my profits on the wonderful food stuffs on offer.

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I am a total advocate of and supporting local producers and the content of my shopping bag was the epitome of high quality local produce. Even my shopping bag is a product of a local company…CaBW is based just ten minutes from Calonogi HQ.

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A short drive home and I was soon in my kitchen preparing the food for the Mexican buffet that I’m making for friends. You see, I have my first craft fair of the year tomorrow, so there was no way in the world that I could have prepped and cooked everything tomorrow. The ingredients look so colourful, I can’t wait to cook them. The menu is as follows:

  • Mexican Chilli Beef
  • Spicy Chicken Enchilladas
  • Veggie Enchiladas
  • Nachos with all the trimmings
  • Mexican style potatoes

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Before I knew it, the school run was calling and on a Friday, this is swiftly followed by PFB’s (Perfect First Born) guitar lesson. Here he is with his Spongebob Squarepants guitar (I still find it funny that in Welsh, the name of the spongey yellow character is “Spynjbob Pants Sgwar).

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The walk from the car park to Cadno Music Shop is always eventful and today was no exception; PFB insists on carrying the guitar himself. Today, he bashed at least three adults, almost knocked over a small child and narrowly avoided totalling an entire shelf of glass olive oil bottles.

So from the music shop back to the car we go, stopping half way to wrestle the guitar from PFB after he hit an old lady with it whilst pirouetting through the town centre. A swift journey home and it was then my chance to mock up my display at the craft fair tomorrow morning. At the craft fairs that I’ve previously attended, my display has been absolutely gorgeous but after the fourth two-hour long set-up, I’ve streamlined it somewhat. Cue the delivery of an exceptionally large box of wicker baskets, and here is the final configuration…simple yet effective (well, I think so anyway!)

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I then put the finishing touches onto a new product that I’ve been working on. A few weeks ago, I planted some Spring flowers to put outside the front door, but it still seemed as though it was “lacking” something. So this is a Spring Wreath by Calonogi, designed to brighten your front door at any time of year…who said that wreaths were only for Christmas time?

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Today’s “courier delivery of loveliness” award goes to this striking vintage suitcase that I bought from Ebay. I’ll be using it in the very near future for Calonogi purposes and that’s all I’m telling you! I’ll be blogging about it next Friday, so stay tuned.

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So with the display sorted and loaded into the car (I know, super-organised today), it was time to make a delivery of these lovely Calonogi Easter Jars to a very lovely customer and then back to the kitchen for some baking.

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I’ve been so busy this week that baking has taken a bit of a back seat, so it was nice to get the Kitchenaid working again. And the spoils of my baking bonanza? These obscenely rich, heart shaped, gold dusted chocolate fudge cakes that will serve as dessert tomorrow.

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I did get a very nice surprise during my baking as I had a visit from the Little Black Hen fairy. These freshly laid eggs were left on the doorstep which shall be used for tomorrow’s breakfast at Calonogi HQ…I think I’ll need a hearty start to the day to keep me going!

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And so here I am, ending the day by writing this blog. True, I haven’t had any tea yet, but it’s all in a good cause…your reading pleasure! Now you can’t say that I don’t make sacrifices for you!

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Have a good weekend all.

Over and out…