creative community 04 | Nichole of Smartlee Handmade
We've known Nichole for a while now and time spent with her is always a treat. This gal seems to be able to take on any creative endeavor with skill and grace and then can turn around and teach it. She truly loves to create things and has impeccable taste from her wardrobe to her home decor (it only seems right to mention that her husband is a designer, too, so double the good taste). She's a full time designer, a fabulous mama, has a fantastic collection of all things Abraham Lincoln and owner of one looming business, Smartlee Handmade. (Nichole's woven goods made their inaugural appearance at our Made With Love Pop-Up shop and sold out!) This month we got to peek inside her at-home studio where all the looming magic happens and she gave us insight into her creative world.
HH: We are very interested in how creative folk balance work + family. You have a full time job, your own business, a great husband and the cutest little boy, how do you manage time for all?
NIC : I do most of my weaving at night, after our son goes to bed. Since we share an office, being creative in the evening is something my husband and I can do together. I try to take a "Me Day" every month or two. I take a personal day from work, but still send our son to school for most of the day. Then I cram as much stuff as I can into 4-5 hours. I really love those days.
Memories of being creative as a kid?
I'm a compulsive project starter. I was always trying to make something with what little supplies we had around the house. There was never enough Scotch tape or popsicle sticks. I learned to sew early, around age 8, through my 4-H club. That opened a world of possibilities for me.
Where are you gaining inspiration currently?
Right now, I'm really loving vintage Amish quilts. They are so graphic and the color is bold. The solid colors make them feel so modern and timeless at the same time.
How does working in textiles affect the way you see the world?
I think it makes me notice craftsmanship in everything I encounter. I can see past the object and visualize the process. Process is so satisfying.
Being your own boss can be a tricky thing. What is your favorite thing about having your own business?
Nobody else knows when I mess something up. I can just sweep it under the rug and move on.
What has been challenging and how are you overcoming those challenges?
The hardest thing for me about venturing into self-employment is knowing when to play it safe and when to take a risk. My business is still in its infancy and it's still unclear when it will be ready to thrive on its own.
Your pieces are one of a kind beauties, how can we get our hands on them?
When is Hart & Honey having another pop-up shop? (wink) Right now, you can email me at email@example.com. Custom orders are always welcome. I'm hoping to have a website up sometime soon.
Was there ever a point in your career when you wanted to throw in the towel? Can you describe how you overcame that time and kept going?
I tend to get really discouraged when I see other businesses just nailing it. It makes me doubt what I'm doing or if I have what it takes to compete. The best way to shake it is to turn off my social media.
How do your friends/family encourage you?
My husband is an artist also, so we take turns giving each other studio time. Having a partner
that understands the creative process is priceless. My friends have been so excited about my work, which just blows me away every day.
What yarns or colors gets you most excited?
I love linen yarn. It's so organic and timeless. Also, the yarn selections at Purl Soho and Habu Textiles make me weak in the knees. My favorite color is Harvest Gold, 70's style. Pretty nerdy, huh?
How do you take your coffee/tea?
With lots of cream. No Fat-Free, please.
Most productive place to work?
Wherever my supplies are--I'm not picky about space as long as I have what I need. That's pretty obvious when you see the tiny office that my husband and I share. I wind my yarn on the back of the bathroom door.
Favorite place to visit for rest?
I'm a country girl. I like fields and mountains over the beach any day.
How do you unwind from the busyness of daily life?
My Smartlee work is restful for me. My day job is not that exciting or creative, so being able to sit down and work on the loom really restores my spirit. I also love to knit while my husband and I watch movies.