30.7.10

Happy weekend!

friends

It's going to be a friendly kind of long weekend here. My best friend is in town with her man and I've persuaded them to stay Chez Bess et Big Chuck. This means that every moment they're not at the Osheaga festival I will have them all to myself (bwa ha ha ha!). Also, another great friend from high school will be visiting Montreal this weekend as well as Big Chuck's buddy from university!

Oh - and last night I had dinner with these über talented and lovely ladies, Marie-Eve, Kate and Davina. What a hoot! (I know nobody says that anymore, but it really was.)

I hope you have a friendly weekend too,
x bess

image via Xanthe Berkeley

29.7.10

Is this real life?

I didn't manage to get my T'do list on the blog yesterday afternoon, or do a regular Perfect Pairs post today because we got some troubling news from our vet yesterday. It seems our little dog, Tyke, has some issues with his liver :( We went for an ultrasound this morning and while it isn't cancer (giant phew!!) we're still not sure what's going. I'll have to head back to the vet this afternoon to have more blood drawn. Hopefully it's something that can be treated with a course of drugs because surgery or more costly tests are going to be hard pills to swallow. It's a difficult situation to be in for sure, when your animal is sick and you have to weigh the costs of treatments against the benefits to his health.

tyke_reallife

Currently he's feelin' good though. The doctor gave him a little something to take the edge off.

Hope you are having a chilled out Thursday,
Bess

ps. if you haven't seen the "is this real life?" kid, check him out.

28.7.10

Small Business, Small Steps: What's in a name?

name

Lately I've been playing around with some new names for my business. In the beginning, when my focus was to create a line of educational products to help children learn English, the name English Muffin seemed like a perfect fit. However, as my business has evolved and grown, it seems to be headed in a bit of a different direction. I'm no longer teaching English in Vienna, but working on expanding my line to nursery decor and clothing for babies and children. Also, now that we are living in Montreal, there's the whole French/English thing in Quebec to consider, and I wouldn't want to shoot myself in the foot because the word English is in the name of my company (and French is a much lovelier language anyway!).

So, to change the name of one's business? Good idea? Bad idea? And the bigger question, what to change it to?

In terms of operating a business, if you do it under your legal name it saves you the time and cost of registering it with the government. I was thinking if I operated under "Bess Callard Designs" then each of my lines could have it's own name. For example, the onesies could be called "X" and the prints and posters could be "Y" and so on and so on. Does this get too confusing though? And then I'll just have to think of that many more names... hum.

In other news, the onesies are coming along (slowly but surely). I'll have my updated T'do list on the blog by the end of the day.

Have a great Wednesday!
Bess

27.7.10

Canadiana: Bookhou

bookhou1

four. pinecone

I've featured the Toronto based shop bookhou on the blog before, a couple times actually. I'm so drawn to the work of designers Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth, and love stopping by their store (albeit virtually) to check out what they've been working on.

My Picks:

Hello beautiful triangle tea towel, you will look so lovely in my new kitchen once the spending freeze has been lifted. I love these animal onesies, especially the moose, is there anything cuter than a baby wearing a moose onesie? Don't think so. The child's felt stools would make perfect little side tables, or night stands, or foot rests, while they wait for the time when my future little kids could actually use them as they were intended to be used. And finally, I love the simplicity of the illustrated pinecone, and the fact that it's letterpressed, so perfect.

Have a great Tuesday!
Bess

images via bookhou

26.7.10

Music Monday: Martha Wainwright

marthawainwright

Last Sunday afternoon we grabbed some smoked meat sandwiches and headed over to have a little picnic in La Fontaine Park. On the ride there I decided to put on Edith Piaf's album La Vie en Rose in the car. The windows were rolled down, the warm summer air was blowing in our faces and we (ok, mostly just me) were singing (and conducting to) all our favourite Piaf songs.

My mom used to play Edith Piaf for us when my sister and I were kids, so I pretty much know all the words, and make up the ones I don't. I told Big Chuck that we should only play french musique in the car on the weekends, an ode to our new city. He disagreed, but that's not important, because this past weekend when we were on our way to Home Depot (for the 3rd time that week) we were listening to CBC Radio One and heard Martha Wainwright singing this enchanting, and heart wrenching song...



Martha Wainwright's tribute album to Edith Piaf, 'Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, A Paris', was recorded live in New York and features 15 of Piaf's works, some classics and some lesser known.

I haven't downloaded the whole album yet, But if it sounds anything like her cover of "Une Enfant" I think it's going to be perfect Sunday afternoon musique.

Have a great Monday!
Bess

23.7.10

Say cheese!

I follow the UK shop Present & Correct on facebook, and this morning, thanks to the fun picture below, got lost in the archive of awesome photos that they regularly post to their fb stream.

p&c_friday

I love how they take ordinary objects and create extra-ordinary images. It's a skill, fo' sure, one I'm not so sure I possess. I've been struggling with photo styling the English Muffin products, I'd love to have some great pics to showcase on my website but have trouble setting up the shot / creating the look. I am pretty certain that in the near future I'm going to have to call in the pros. Good photography is so important to running a successful web-based business that it will definitely be money well spent.

In the meantime I'm still compiling my "styling" folder, filling it with images like these ones from Present & Correct.

p&c_styling

How about you? Any styling inspiration you'd like to share?

Happy Friday!
Bess

22.7.10

Perfect Pairs

pairs1
1. Large Bottle Trio 2. Ruler Notebook





pairs3
1. Custom Luggage Tags 2. I Heart Birkin Tote


Something a little lighter for you today, after all the text heavy posts of yesterday. I hope you're enjoying your own perfect pairs this week, here are mine...

diy inspiration + willing and able fiancé to do the heavy lifting
summer heat + thunderstorms!!
bbq + chicken

Have a wonderful Thursday :)
Bess

ps. Thank you for all your kind comments about the onesies! So very appreciated.

21.7.10

T'do

As promised, here is the first post in a series designed to get my butt in gear. Working on my own, I can get lost in the land of procrastination. This weekly t'do list is my attempt at holding myself accountable to the goals and tasks I need to accomplish to move my business forward.

I thought before I went straight to my t'do list, I'd show you what I've been working on, and what I'm hoping will the next step for English Muffin, onesies!

onesies

To get these babies off the ground I need t'do the following:

• Get quotes from screen printers. Email is passive so I've got to get on the phone.
(Hey Montrealers - any screen printing contacts?)

• Source the onesies. I want them to be organic, have found a few options. Would you pay a higher price for them if in addition to being organic they were also made in Canada?

• Start to sketch out packaging. Labels, tags, shipping boxes, etc...

I won't include the daily t'do tasks like doing a shipping supply order, answering emails, or post office runs. It's the big stuff that I'm having trouble getting to.

I'd love to hear your feedback on the onesies. I know they are kind of baby boy-ish at the moment and I'm hoping to make some more girly versions.

Wow, double post day - those don't happen very often.
See you tomorrow!
Bess

Small Business, Small Steps: I promise not to whine

PY11

I started writing this post, oh.... about 2 hours ago. I had a good idea for a topic I wanted to tackle and proceeded to do a little additional research on the web to beef up my content. Of course, one thing led to another and before I knew it I'd spiraled down the rabbit hole and didn't emerge for a good long while. Sometimes the internet can eat up so much of my time. On one hand, I've found a ton information out there that has been invaluable to my business, and my sanity, and all that surfing has definitely paid off, but on the other hand, the amount of stuff out there makes it way too easy to whittle away hours that could have been spent on actual real life tasks.

Procrastination is a big enemy of mine, so I've decided to impose some deadlines on myself. Here's the tricky part though; I could ask Big Chuck to hold me accountable to them, but it's too easy to tell him to please be quiet and mind your own p's and q's - running a business is hard work and I am a perfectionist, thank you for your interest though. (Of course I'd say it just like that, and would never ever use a whiny voice).

So, dear internet, this is where I do a fancy reverse maneuver and make you a tool for good, helping me to eliminating my bad procrastinating habit.

Starting today, I am going to (in addition to the regular SBSS posts) post my goals for the week, questions I am wrestling with and peeks into the design process as it evolves as I (trumpet sound please...) take English Muffin full-time. For a long time I've wondered exactly how much of the behind the scenes of my business aches and pains to share, should I keep projects top secret until they are all pretty, perfect and ready to be launched? Do you really want to hear me say for the millionth time this week "What am I doing with my life?" I'm going to go with, no.

But... I think the SBSS posts have helped me a lot in terms of working out my own business ideas and issues by writing, reflecting and best of all listening to what you, my peers, have to say. To keep the momentum going, I'm ready to take it one step further and invite you into the process a little more.

So, dear readers, my first deadline:

By 6pm today I will have the first installment of ___________ (name yet to be determined) up. A peek into my personal procrastination underground lair.

Stay tuned! And please won't you join me?! Post your own to do list in the comments, on your blog or on your fridge - whatever works.

Happy Wednesday,
Bess

image: peterbaker

20.7.10

Canadiana: Erratum

erratum


For my first official Canadiana Tuesday post from Montreal I thought it only fitting to feature the work of Québécois design team Frederic Galliot and Vincent Hauspy. Together the two industrial designers make up Erratum, an innovative brand under which they showcase their elegantly simple and utilitarian designs at shows like SIDIM, Montreal's International Interior Design Show.

My Picks:
Big Chuck and I were looking for legs similar to the BAMBI ones last night, they would be so perfect for our kitchen table project (more on that later). The PFFFIT bottle opener is one I would always leave on the counter, no hiding that one in a drawer somewhere. I need a black board in our new place, and the TODO would be just perfect, I also love the product photography - "I will not drink anymore tequila". And finally, how cute is the snowshoe logo? Very, I'd say.

Have a great Tuesday!
Bess

images: Erratum

19.7.10

I'm back!

chelseamini
My sister watching the fireworks outside our kitchen window in Montreal.

Hello!

I know I've been gone for a while but trust me, big things have been happening!

No. 1 - We're in Montreal!
Big Chuck, Tyke and I arrived safe and (somewhat) sound on July 2nd with a truck load full of stuff (expertly packed by Big Chuck and my sister's boyfriend PB). The trip from Toronto to Fenelon Falls to Montreal was pretty well uneventful, no cargo lost on the highway, no break downs for our new/old car on her maiden voyage from T.O. to Mtl., no one complained that it was too hot or too long or too boring. Everything was going just swimmingly until we hit the Autoroute 720 into Montreal and Big Chuck and PB went one way through the tunnel while my sister and I in the cargo van went another. Lost in our brand new city at night it didn't take long for panic to set in. The gas tank was on empty, the iPhone gps kept leading us back to an onramp that was closed due to construction (something not uncommon during the summer in Montreal) and the world seemed to suddenly be made up of one way streets. I'm not going to lie, I though we might die there, poorly parked on the side of the road with my directionally challenged sister, a crying dog and me.

Luckily everyone put on their thinking caps and thanks to that handy iPhone, we made it out alive and onto our fabulous new apartment.

No. 2 - We're getting married!
Big Chuck and I have decided not to wait any longer, and tie the knot on Labour day long weekend :) That means in a month and a half we'll be heading down to city hall in Toronto to say I do, followed by a reception with some of our favourite people at a friend's cafe.

So far I've got my dress (50% percent off - thank you summer sales) and the invitations have been sent out (we did them via email and they looked great). My stress level is good and I'm so happy that we decided to do something more low key. I'm approaching the whole thing like it's just a big party, it's also been a big help that the cafe we're having the reception at is owned by a friend, and a more laid back chilled out guy you could not meet - thanks Rob!

I'll keep you posted as fun wedding things come up.

No. 3 - Big Chuck is Dr. Big Chuck!
That's right, the guy we all know and love is now a doctor. Which, once we're married, will make me the good doctor's wife. (I would not mind if you referred to me that way)

No. 4 - English Muffin's growing!
You may remember I told you a while back then once in Montreal I'd try to make a real go of English Muffin as a full time job. Well the wheels have been turning and I see a bright future for my little company. There are some new projects I'm hoping to launch in the coming months as well as the possibility of a sister company to English Muffin to explore some other areas of design I'm interested in. Of course, keeping an eye on the blog is a great way to hear about the latest developments, but you can also follow me on Twitter to make sure you're always in the loop.

So that's a pretty good overview of what I've been up to for the past few weeks. I've definitely missed blogging and I'm really happy that we've been reunited :)

See you tomorrow!
Happy Monday,
Bess