Monday, November 20, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // November 2017



We love to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from around the world. Sweden, Australia, United States. All over the world our designs are used for the most wonderful items. We have some cute Polar Bear leggings, Indian Animal Rompers, Soft Sole baby shoes and some cool kids accessories. This is our top 5 selection for November.

1 // Bean Sprout
Bean Sprout must be one of our favorite webshops using our Spoonflower fabric. Hiedee has a great eye for unique and bespoke designs and we love her style and gorgeous clean photography. Bean Sprout has a pretty big collection of Little Smilemakers fabrics, all turned into the most adorable baby and kids fashion accessories like baby bibs, book bags, summer hats and nappy wallets. For this months Made With post we selected one of our favorites: the reindeer book bag. Perfect accessory for your kids winter school days. But we also featured our cool monochrome dashes fabric that was turned into a cute baby bib. Wanna see more? Take a look into her gorgeous shop for all wonderful handmade creations.

2 // Maxomorra
The new Autumn Winter ’17 Plus Collection is a new design project, risen from their curiosity to explore Maxomorra outside the box. The new Plus collection contains eight prints in a limited selection of styles, all made by Little Smilemakers Studio. With a few extra details to the prints and a brand new and beautiful color palette. To create complete outfits, there is also a small basic collection with solid colored jersey and velour available. As always, pick your favorites, mix and match, and go out and be fabulous. There are t-shirts, leggings, hats and so much more to choose from. But have some patience, the collection will be released for autumn and isn’t in shops just yet.



3 // Oh Boeys
We were doing a little happy dance when we saw this perfect pair of Christmas pine tree soft soles in our Instagram feed. We love this fabric and are so happy to see these turned into this cute pair, so cute! Oh Boeys is an Australian webshop selling bows, bibs, soft sole baby shoes and blankets for your little one. They have a colorful range of products and you can also customize your own pair of soft soles. Go take a look and see for yourself and see what else they have!

4 // La La Loop Baby
Lorraine is based in the UK and has a background in knitted textiles and fashion design and started her La La Loop range with cashmere fashion and interior accessories. After her twins were born she was inspired to pick up sewing and an entire new collection was launched. She now has some of our all time favorite fabric available as rompers, leggings and baby & toddler accessories. Her items are flying off the shelves so make sure you place your order in time for the holidays! Go take a look into her Etsy shop.

5 // Roostery Home
Roostery Home is an accessory and interior decoration brand that collaborated with Spoonflower. All of our designs that are available via Spoonflower are also available via Roostery Home where you can find all sorts of fun home decor items and interior accessories. From tea towels, bedding and pillows to chairs and wallpaper. Just order your favorite print on your product of choice and add some Little Smilemakers designs to your home. Perfect for the not so talented sewer like me. Our designs were also featured on the Oh Joy blog and Spoonflowers winter catalogue. Take a look if you are curious and order quickly to be in time for the holidays. You can find over 50.000 products just with Little Smilemakers designs on them. Crazy!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Column // New NS train design fail

With her Dutch roots complaining is in her genes. Every month she writes a little piece about things that keep her busy. Things that make her wanna scream “Nooooooooooo”




This week I attended the annual Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. And it is always a delight to see so many brilliant minds at work. Projects about sustainability, small footprint living. Social interaction. All topics I love and care about. It is wonderful to see new design solutions making our society safer, cleaner, more efficient and more playful. But this week NS, our Dutch railway company, decided to also take part in Dutch Design Week. They were eager to show the new train.

As a designer I usually work around a theme and I can understand if a designer gets carried away by their own passion. This is a story about a designer that loves bouldering. I think.

I entered the new train and immediately noticed the climbing wall in the hall way. I was thinking ‘wow they actually have come up with something cool to kill time in the train. I love a little 'play' in public spaces, making simple things a little more enjoyable is part of a good design. It was a surprise element, a fun solution for a daily commuter! Of course I wanted to try it out but the NS ‘sales man’ told me the wall was not supposed to be a real climbing wall and I was not allowed to climb it. “It is placed on the restroom door, it could never hold an actual person” he said. Say what? Giving me candy and then taking it away? No! I see climbing hold, I want to get in there!

The wall was just ‘inspired’ by a climbing wall and the holds were actually hooks to hang coats and bags. In the hall way. Hanging coats. Where there is no place to sit. Hang your belongings. People! This is not how your customer uses a train! They see a climbing wall: their going to climb. And if people are in fact looking for a place to hang their stuff it won’t be near the exit or on the toilet doors (hygiene alert!) they won’t be leaving their stuff unattended. They might want a hook next to their seat. Maybe?

For me this new interior showed how functionality was completely secondary in developing a public space. So embarrassing. The climbing holds producer might have had a sweet deal with NS during this design process. Probably the only party that does benefit from this... The user of the end product should always be priority. Design solutions are only solutions if they are solving a problem. Understanding the needs of your customer is key. These are the first steps to take in a design process. NS, if you ever need some more insight about functional design by an experienced traveler, and understand what they would love to see incorporated into the train interior, please contact me. The outcome now is, well, an unfortunate bad design. Embarrassing at the least.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thinking design // making design strategy for your business a priority

In a highly saturated surface design market we see a decrease on non-exclusive and royalty free design sales. More and more companies begin to recognize the importance of design within the process of product development. With strong competition in the textile industry, adding similar designs to a new collection than your competitor is not a way to profile your business. It even makes your customer doubt your intentions. The climate is changing and design strategy is becoming a must.

Honest business
The first year I was working as an independent designer I already noticed the harsh games businesses play in the textile industry. At one point I made a series of exclusive designs for one customer and another one of my customers, only licensing non-exclusive designs, payed it’s producer to give him the information what was going through their printers, designs their competition was printing at the same factory. They bought the info about the exclusive range and then behind my back downloaded similar designs through royalty free partners of mine. Well, you can imagine, some businesses need a little lesson or two about how to work with other human beings. They actually had the nerve to ask me to work for them on an exclusive base. No thank you, I do not work with people that are dishonest. Be kind, and your customers will notice. Stealing others idea’s and designs is also something they will notice.

Customers are getting more critical each day, with todays technology and information present at any time it is easy to track and check businesses and their story. Are they selling the truth or is it just a story? Stories can be fictional so just coming up with a story is not the way to engage customers to your brand. You’ll have to earn trust, tell your story, and back it up in all you got, your traces, your production developments and process, your communications. This is essential for your trustworthiness.



Visual priority
With the need of more transparency and more customers asking questions about the products they spend their money on we can see there is more need to prioritize designs within companies. Their visual language should be one unified message carrying out the brands philosophy. When companies use print designs they need a more distinctive print language, that has a connection with their overall visual identity. The demand of non-exclusive designs in textile, fashion, home decor and other commercial market places is declining. And it is time to prioritize design. More and more companies choose to license our exclusive prints and choose quality over quantity. Something that is highly appreciated by their customers creating more engagement, a clear message and trust. The past two years we have been working with several companies, guiding them through this process.

Design strategy
With a large portfolio with non-exclusive designs and quarterly exclusive collections we try to serve both small start up companies and large textile and commercial retailers. What suits your business most? Is there a mission, a story to tell? What impact does a print design have for your product? Does it sell the product? Or is the design secondary to your product and are these print designs or illustrations only used as detailing only? What does the design reflect? Does it have a connection to the brands philosophy or story? Can we make a connection? Creating an overall visual language? The importance of the design needs to be determined. All these ingredients should reflect your design strategy. Most companies have prioritize their product strategy, developing and improving their product, but forget about the importance of the design. Designs should always support the product. We can help you with this process of prioritizing designs and create a strong unified message in print design reaching out to the more conscious customer. If you would like to get more information about design strategies and how they can built a strong visual identity for your business just reach out and send us a message.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 3 black and white designs // October 2017



We love to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from around the world. We have some cute pineapple bloomers, ice cream leggings and of course our top seller: our black and white cactus fabric in watercolors. This is our top 3 selection for October.

Itty Bitty Kawaii Ice Cream leggings
Itty Bitty Leggings has been one of our most loyal customers. Monica is one of our frequent Spoonflower customers, she has a range of Little Smilemakers designs up in her shop every season. She makes wonderful leggings from her Salt Lake City home while she raises her two sons. This shop is perfect if you have some gentlemen to dress. Because she has a fun range of cool boys stuff in there. For this months post we selected our black and white ice cream kawaii fabric. One of our most popular prints this year. Monochrome fabric is trending! Suitable for both boys and girls. She also has some other gender neutral Little Smilemakers designs and more girly items too. They're lovely! With her fun stylish eye her collection is always on trend. Go take a look!

Lulu & Gunner cactus joggings
Our watercolors cactus fabric must be one of our favorite fabric designs this year. We were so thrilled to see Becca’s creation pop up in our Instagram feed. With a great passion for sewing she created fresh and fun kids apparel, tops, bottoms, one pieces and accessories are available in her shop. Becca named her online boutique after her son and daughter and on her website you can see some adorable photo’s of her precious family. We really love to give this lady a little shout out. Shop these cactus bottoms or one of our other prints in her online shop!

Sparkles ’n Studs bloomers
Gaby is a mother of 5 and started making kids accessories as a hobby. This hobby quickly turned into a business and she now creates all kinds of cute items for your little one. Rompers, leggings and headbands can be found in her shop. We loved these adorable bloomers made with our pineapple fabric. She has some other black and white picks in her Etsy shop too. So take a look if you are looking for some cool gender neutral items!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sources of inspiration // Vienna: grandeur, cafe culture and art // Top 5 things to do and fun places to visit for creative souls



Vienna has been top of my list of European cities to visit for a long time. I have only crossed the city a couple of times in transit, just passing through while traveling east or south. But I never got around to actually explore this beautiful city up until this fall, when my friend Monika, author of a book I was featured in, invited me to join her.

The first thing you will notice about this city is it’s elegance. It’s respect for history and it’s grandeur. There are so many places to see and explore, whether you visit this city as a shopaholic, an architectural geek, foodie, or as a creative like me, there is something to see and do for everyone. This city is diverse and surprising. With a raw city edge like most European cities have but also the contrasting wealth, the grand architecture is a reminder of Vienna’s rich yesterdays. One of Europe’s hidden gem’s definitely.

Vienna has a rich history of performing arts, musicians, composers, dancers, and was Europe’s breading soil for mid-century painters. The city is buzzing with creation. I was lucky to visit this place during Vienna’s Design Week. And during my stay I also found out I was visiting during their annual Museum Night. So there could not be a better time to visit and explore Vienna’s cafe’s, museums, galleries, botanical gardens and wonderful architectural sights. Here is my personal top 5 of places to visit.

1 // Polaroid & Letter Press at Supersense
If you interested in photography and typography this cafe and store is heaven! Supersense located in a beautiful corner building on the Praterstraße. It pretty much is super for my senses, so the name is pretty accurate, at least to me it is. This beautiful coffee house used to be a thrift store. It now houses a great place to have a drink; grab a coffee, eat some Viennese cake but it also houses a shop that is just one big designer heaven. Typography books, custom letter press printing, a smell bar, toy camera’s and design and photography gifts. All things I just looove to get my hands on as a former typography student and photo freak. This cafe is run by the man who saved Polaroid. So you can see a great selection of old Polaroid camera’s, books and prints but you can also stock up on new stuff if you want to expand your collection In the back you can find the music section with some instruments and music gear. Just yes!

2 // Botanical Lovers
The Viennese Palmenhaus is a definite must see. One of Vienna’s most beautiful places to have a bite. Located within the museum quarter, this place is an oases. The original late 19th century structure is such a delight to visit, with it’s glass walls and roof, it’s enormous palm trees stretching out from the front to the back, this is a great location to have a decent dinner and look out over the Burggarten. I am a sucker for plants and just love to enjoy these kind of places. If you are a true botanical fan like me you can also take the subway to Schönbrunn that houses an authentic botanical garden. The place is truly magical. Do not forget to also take some time to visit the park and it’s surroundings and hop into the palace. You have to visit at least one palace in Vienna!



3 // Viennese cafe life
Vienna must be one of the most convenient places to work as a freelancer. Cafe’s can be found all around the city and Vienna has a strong coffee house culture. It is serious business. The waiters are dressed in suits, and those interiors! Oh! Whether you want to meet up with friends, have a productive day with your laptop or just want to read the newspaper, the cafe’s are buzzing and going out for a drink and a torte, a cake, is part of the Viennese culture. People meet up in coffee houses rather than at home and this is why so many cafe’s are still in business. If you have some time it is definitely worth stopping by the most authentic and fun Viennese cafes. My favorites so far were Café Prückel with it’s amazing pastels and retro furniture. Loved the interior! NENI a little place on the Naschmarkt. From their heated terrace you can enjoy the crowded market life. Café Savoy, for all my gay friends. A classic place with a mostly gay clientele and very kind staff. Justizcafé, located in the beautiful Palace of Justice, this cafe on the 5th floor has an amazing view over the city and as you might already know: I love a little top view. Have a peek into the mail hall, (it is gorgeous!) and take the elevator to the 5th and stare over the city.

4 // Museum Night & Design Week
I was lucky enough to actually visit Vienna during Design Week. During this week art and design students and design graduates are invited to show their works in galleries all over the city and talk about their philosophy and goals. Functional industrial design, porcelain, installations. Oh how I love art! On Saturday night I was also able to enjoy the city’s annual Museum Night. During this night Vienna’s museums open their doors and for only €15 you can visit all mayor museums. But there is so much to see. get the most our of your night and plan a route, with over 130 museums it is a must. Instead of visiting my usual art museums, alright I did visit some: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Museum, with a wonderful expo about water life, the building it’s self is worth a little peek too though. Palace Liechtenstein with it’s crazy murals and ceilings. But I mostly tried some more out-of-the-box ones that are unique to Vienna. The Contraception and Abortion museum, very popular and crowded during Museum night. It is such an insightful place for young peeps that are discovering their own sexuality. It has tons of information about the female reproductive system. We paid a visit to the Schnaps Museum with an endless chat about alcohol, all in German, I had absolutely no idea what that was all about but the old brewery, tanks, bottles, the interior was wonderful. And of course we tasted some of the brews.

5 // Architecture
Vienna has a rich history and the old architecture is a great reflection of it’s wealthy past. Even though I haven’t seen too many modern structures I did enjoy the city hall, old mansions, villa’s, palaces and botanical houses. I was also amazed by the beauty of their public transport buildings. The patterned tiled floors, metal framework, the green color. Very classy. I loved the hidden Jugendstil places near the Naschmarkt. But the most beautiful old buildings must have been around the museum quarter. If you can appreciate these old gems just wander around these Viennese streets and hop in every building you get a chance to enter. I personally love the library with it’s flamboyant interior. Painted ceilings, golden details and books stretching from the floor to the roof. Breathtaking!



Whatever you decide to do in Vienna, you will notice the mix of old and new. With room for traditional culture and for new and modern. have yourself a great stay and be inspired by all great artists who once were roaming those cafe’s and streets of Vienna. You can still feel that creative buzz. I left this city with a whole bunch of new ideas and a new fresh creative energy. And I am sure it will do the same for you! So do boost this city on your "Places To Visit" list. Curious about all places I visit? Check the Little Smilemakers FourSquare list for a links and locations.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Hello Miami Beach // The Abstracts // A design process



We are very proud of our newly launched Miami collection over at Spoonflower. This summer we created a whole bunch of new abstracts inspired by Miami’s beaches and streets. In this post you can read a little something about the process of creating this range of abstracts.

For this collection I started with some expressive shapes. When I create abstract designs the process of creating the shapes is linked to how I feel. I usually make abstract art when there is lot’s of drama to deal with, it is a way to transform my emotions into creation without having to think to much about the final result, color palette or proportions of an illustration.

A hell of a ride
Throughout the year there have been several things I needed to deal with. A partnership that resulted in a dramatic ending. It turned out I was the only one invested in this colab, a romantic relationship that ended very sudden, uhm yeah, I sort of invested in that too. Some family ties that needed my attention. Lot’s of things have happened this year, shaking me to the core and rethinking my entire self. When I go though real lows I create. There is no other way I know to deal with these things. I have been making things ever since I was a little girl, and most of my designs are targeting kids, that is not a coincidence. Getting in touch with my fundaments, my pure self is all I can rely on. And that basic emotion gets translated into my artwork.

Soft edges
When I am angry I create raw, high contrast designs. I use a dry brush, black ink. It is very obvious you can tell something needs to get out. But this summer I was not angry, I was mostly hurt. And when I feel hurt I do not need to get into the ‘raw’ as much. For the new Miami series all designs and elements were made with markers and ink resulting in rounded geometric shapes. Using a large marker and large brush make the details and shapes a little softer, there is no raw edge like other abstract designs have had. This soft touch represents the vulnerability I did not want to avoid or ignore. But I felt vulnerable after all the events that happened this year. And I was not going to run from it. I decided to face it, and am still facing it. Creation transforms but does not take away the pain. it is a process.

There is nothing more soothing for me than to turn my illustrations, and for this series, my abstract shapes, into patterns. I think you have to be a little crazy making 2000 patterns a year. But turning these shapes into repeats is so fulfilling! It is like sleeping under fresh crisp sheets, or the scent of raindrops on the hot summer pavements. Well, I don’t expect you to understand but making patterns puts my mind at easy. There is no better way of meditating for me than staring at my own seamless repeats.

This too shall pass
The entire Miami series is about being vulnerable. Therefore the colors are soft with a warm blush pink and a light ice blue, and a contrasting whiskey brown for a little character. I am not much of a drama queen usually so when I finished my 15+ designs I felt like a huge weight fell off my shoulders. I can truly say making art is like cleaning my soul, at least get rid of a big pile of dirt. Creation, how I love you!

Every single design needs a name. When I started creating these basic shapes I did not work around a theme. I just noticed some shapes reminded me of the city and some reminded me of the beach. And I knew this series had to be named after Miami with it’s sunny sea side and busy streets, the art deco architecture. Naming these prints took away the serious and turned this collection into a fun range filled with humor. I had so much fun coming up with the names; cocktails, salt, derby. The bling, obviously. The food prints: fries, taco’s and hotdogs. The names of the designs tied them all together as a collection.

Now the entire collection is available on fabric and wallpaper via Spoonflower. Most of the designs are still available for licensing too. So take a look and enjoy the new abstracts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Uitagenda 10 years // Kunsthal Exhibit



Here is a little story about my first steps toward being a designer. When I was a graphic design student I had to do an internship in my third year of studying. And I was the lucky girl that was hired as a graphic intern at one of Rotterdams best theaters. During my time there I worked with just one designer colleague who taught me the technical aspects of prepping work for the printer, checking the press, thinking in concepts, designing new campaigns for cultural festivals. I loved it. Being dropped into this cultural melting pot and working with so many creative people within the theater was amazing and such a good prep for the real deal. I had a shitload of responsibilities as an intern and I love the freedom of it all.

10 years later I bumped into my intern colleague when my college was having an open house and we met up for coffee later. it was so much fun to catch up after all this time and while we were sitting down, discussing all the things that happened in those 10 years he also invited me to participate into a new project. At that time he was working for a cultural magazine that needed a cover for the new cultural season kick off. I created a cover and I also created a bunch of illustrated patterns for their kids section. A year long my work was spread throughout Rotterdam. And as you might know already, I have a soft spot for that city. A great project to work on.

That same magazine is now celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary. And they are properly celebrating! All covers made on those 10 years are now part of a Kunsthal exhibit. Last week was the grand opening during the kick-off of the new cultural season, of course. You can now see a beautiful overview of covers; photography, illustration and typography. A wonderful mix of graphic designers and illustrators who have created something unique. I am pretty ecstatic to be on the Kunsthal wall, one of my all time fave museums, in my fave city.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // September 2017



We love to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from the UK, United States, Holland and Australia. This month we selected a our top 5 Spoonflower creations, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those cacti swim suits? There was so much to choose from! This is our top 5 September selection.

Wild Child Headbands
Headbands are so handy during those warm summer days, to keep your hair our of you face while doing chores, warm your ears in winter. They come in handy in lot’s of situations and Wild Child has them for all seasons. Beautiful and practical. Wild Child is located in Florida and they do not only sell fun head accessories but they also have some cool jewelry in their shop. We love their fun and stylish photography too. New designs are coming up, but we already wanted to share this dreamcatcher headband with you. Check their website for more fun designs.

Lucie June
This Australian based shop makes vibrant girls clothing, focusing on whimsical individuality, designed to be beautiful and practical for the start of life as a little lady. We love Lucie June and their handmade rompers. And wanted to give them a little extra attention with the warmer season coming up Down Under these are great additions to your little ones spring/summer wardrobe. We love our watercolor cacti print on their handmade pieces. We call it stylish bohemian. Curious about the rest of their collection? Tale a look on their website.



Bean Sprout
Bean Sprout must be one of our favorite webshops using our Spoonflower fabric. Hiedee has a great eye for unique and bespoke designs and we love her style and gorgeous clean photography. Bean Sprout has a pretty big collection of Little Smilemakers fabrics, all turned into the most adorable baby and kids fashion accessories like baby bibs, book bags, summer hats and nappy wallets. For this months post we selected our abstract rain drops print that was turned into a cool boy bib. For this months Made With post we selected one of our favorites: the bunny bookbag. Wanna see more? Take a look into her gorgeous shop for all wonderful handmade creations.

Wildflowers
Early this year Samantha reached out to license some of our prints for her new Wildflowers collection. This September our Sew Happy print was released and their new fall collection was launched. We love how her colorful bohemian style is a great mix and match of patterns and just wanted to share some of the new items in her collection. For the new collection she selected two of our designs. The Sew Happy design that is available on skirts and dresses and our Poppy Flower. Curious to see more? Check their website for the entire collection and stay up to date and follow their blog.

Mistral Home
We love to see our designs in the home. Most of our fabric is being used for clothing and accessories so we wanted to shed a little extra light on this new range of bedding available via Mistral Home. Our Feathers and Reindeer Love were used for their new collection of bedding that is now available in stores in Holland and Belgium. Wanna see more of their items, check out their website.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wildflowers Clothing // Colorful bohemian girls fashion // Fall 2017 collection



Early this year Samantha reached out to license some of our prints for her new Wildflowers collection. This September our Sew Happy print is released and their new fall collection was launched. We love how her colorful bohemian style is a great mix and match of patterns and just wanted to share some of the new items in her collection.

For the new collection she selected two of our designs. And one of these two hold a special place for Sam and has a fun back story. And as you might know we love to tell stories. It was inspired by this place Denise and Sam used to work together, late at night and early in the morning. It was when they knew they’d be alone, left to our devices. They could design in silence or laugh their butts off from the nonsense earlier in the day. They could fight over ‘the good scissors and hide bolts of fabric from each other – because they HAD to use it first. They would build little “maps” of designs to show the local seamstress where each print should be sewn.

While they never really sewed together, they spent a lot of time with all the elements that create a piece of clothing. From the first time Sam held “the good scissors,” she knew she had to be a part of the process of making clothes—in any capacity. And when she saw our Little Smilemakers, she knew it had to be a part of her first collection. And we are so happy to be part of this process.



“For months, each style has been dressed on mannequins, pinned and trimmed until the fit is just right – and at the photoshoot all that hard work pays off. Seeing that first twirl, jump, or skip across a field is like crossing the finish line to me.”

The print is a reminder of where Sam came from, where she truly learned to mix and match colors, playfully add trims and buttons that never really seemed to go together; to create something original and so pleasing to the eye. A reminder of those long mornings and late nights the seamstress print on the Sew Happy Top is a special piece of our Wildflowers story. if you are curious about the rest of this new girls collection take a look at their website. if you purchase a Wildflower item you also support Seeds of Hope. By supporting their Education fund, you will be able to empower children all over the world with the educational tools they need to end the vicious cycle of poverty and rise above their deplorable living conditions. A great thing to support!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Let's celebrate purple / 5 reasons why we all adore this color of power, independence and ambition



Colors have a strong but also subconscious effect on our everyday lives. During my design studies, studying color was our most demanding and time consuming subject. As a visual artist I was taught how to influence and effect others with my use of the color spectrum. After covering yellow, pink and blue, let's talk about the color purple.

1 // Lilac and history
The color purple used to be a royal color. Due to the rare occurrence of indigo and purple in nature, dying with this paint was very expensive and for a long time, the color purple was to be considered the color of luxury. Purple was sacred. So back in the day, royalty were one of the few people that could afford this color in fashion and home decor. Did you ever visit one of those European Palaces? If you look at the decoration, wallpaper, carpets, portraits on the wall, purple is always there. And because of the psychological effect, it is a not too obvious choice for decorating, but back in the day it was all about showing off your wealth. And up until today it is still associated with value and money.

2 // I love purple personality
The color purple is a combination of a calm blue and an energetic red. A mix of two that is associated with power and ambition but also extravagance (due to it’s historic use), creativity, pride, mystery and magic. If you adore this color you probably have a little bit of a curiosity toward spirituality. You are calm, balanced but also energetic and passionate. With a hint of extravagance, individualism and independence. You like to be a little different from anyone else, a little unconventional. A soft lilac and lavender represents beauty, delicacy and femininity. Also the color of adolescence. But most of all, if you favor this color, you are compassionate and kind, you love to take care of others and don’t ask for much in return. Well, you are welcome!



3 // Purple and branding
Understanding the basics of color is very important within a design process. Color can trigger a reaction, mood, calm us down, fuel us with energy. My design studies contained years of studying color. All hues and shades. Purple is a very interesting one, it has both warm and cold ‘effects.’ Due to this mix the color can cause unrest and discomfort. it can effect your mood in a negative way. The color is not very popular in branding but it does have a few characteristics that might be interesting, making purple a pretty good option for your logo. Due to this warm and cool mix, purple is a good communicative color. Calming nerves, it is uplifting and supports creativity. It is a gender neutral pick and the color is still associated with wealth and value. Therefore the color is great for general targets; young and old, male or female. And an interesting pick for corporate identities that represent both serious business ethics and creativity. If you want your branding identity to represent luxury and quality, this is a great pick.

4 // A little moody
You might remember those wizards from childhood, wearing purple. This color is associated with spirituality and painting your room in a lilac, violet or lavender will increase creativity; it stimulates the imagination. Purple is the color of magic. But too much exposure to purple can also lead to depression. So if you have a tendency to pick up energy easily, stay away from this color. Be careful decorating your home with this color. You don’t want to get moody in the bedroom right?

5 // Lilac and trend
Purple is a color that is constantly clashing. Warm and cold, calming and energizing. Therefore a middle purple is a tough color on the market. When purple enters the trend waves it usually is in a warm or a cold hue. All natural colors are in fact pretty popular at the moment. Soft and delicate lilac and violet. Purple flowers and veggies are very hot in the food industry right now. An interesting trend to follow and a fun way to make your plate a little more special.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Fabric Collection //Kawaii Breeze



We have been working on three new collection this year and one of these brand new series of designs has been launched on fabric this week. Our Kawaii Breeze collection was inspired by our trip to Japan. With a candy sugar color palette and typical kawaii detailing this must be one of our favorite design collection we worked on so far.

Two years ago I visit Japan. The country had been on top of my bucket list for a while but since it is quite the travel, a full day in the clouds, I only wanted to visit if I had enough money to actually see everything I wanted to see. I have always been inspired by this quirky country that is so different from where I come from. it is colorful and I noticed while traveling, everything has a cute face on it. Everything is Kawaii. the postal service has a Kawaii logo, public transport regulations are all illustrated with cute little characters and even more corporate advertising was all about cute. Such an inspirational trip. I ended my trip in Tokyo, where I visit the Takeshita Dori, a street full of Harajuku, comic book and kawaii inspired shops. Everywhere I looked I saw beautiful pops of color. Unique color palettes everywhere. But when I got back, I started working right away. I did not have time to create and turn my inspiration into new designs up until spring of this year.

The new Kawaii breeze collection is a combination of what inspired me during my trip and on trend themes. We created some seasonal prints with summer fruits and seasonal botanical influences. We created some cool food designs, cat cupcakes and breakfast ingredients. I had a huge ice cream cone in Tokyo, so I could not leave out the ice cream. And we made some christmas designs as well. So you can create something in this style all year long. The entire collection is now available on fabric, cotton, faux suede, modern jersey, knit, canvas and satin. And we also added them to our range of wallpaper to create some adorable Kawaii walls for your baby nursery.

Since not everyone knows it’s way around a sewing machine, (oh I can tell you I don’t!) we also added some of these new Kawaii breeze designs to our Society6 portfolio. You can score some cool back to school items, for both boys and girls. Backpacks and notebooks and all sorts of cool accessories. So take a look if you are curious and of course don’t forget to tag us in your posts and creations!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // August 2017



We love to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from the UK, United States, New Zealand and Australia. This month we selected a our top 5 Spoonflower creations, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those cacti swim suits? There was so much to choose from! This is our top 5 August selection.

Batoko
The cactus swimsuit is one of Batoko’s hot selling pieces and has been available in their shop for over a year already. They just keep on producing them and they keep running out of these quirky summer beauties. We love this fabulous swimsuit and they now also sell tiny versions for your little ones. And we keep getting cute images showing babies wearing our cacti swimsuit. So cute! So mommy daughter mix and match! Our best selling cactus print is now available again over at Batoko. Wanna look fabulous on the beach? Get yours in the Batoko shop!

Bean Sprout
Bean Sprout must be one of our favorite webshops using our Spoonflower fabric. Hiedee has a great eye for unique and bespoke designs and we love her style and gorgeous clean photography. Bean Sprout has a pretty big collection of Little Smilemakers fabrics, all turned into the most adorable baby and kids fashion accessories like baby bibs, book bags, summer hats and nappy wallets. For this months post we selected our bunny print that was turned into a fun book bag, and we selected some hair ties made from all different left over fabric she uses for her products. Wanna see more? Take a look into her gorgeous shop for all wonderful handmade creations.



Handmade by Monica
Monica’s business is located in London and she currently has a day job to keep up with the rent. However crafting is her passion and she hopes to make it a full-time pursuit one day. She turned a spare room into her workspace. She loves creating unique bunting designs that are quirky, colorful and perfect as a gift or for parties, to brighten up your home. Monica is a big fan of and heavily influenced by all things bright, cute, quirky and fun. With an interest in Japanese culture (Kawaii in particular!) since she was a child. For this months “Made with” we selected her colorful squirrel creation made with our retro animals fabric from Spoonflower. Curious to see more? Check out her fun shop over at Etsy.

Hiku Designs
Aga Wells is a British mum of two and creates modern baby, kids and interior accessories, such as baby bandana bibs, super soft baby blankets, natural wood teethers, fabric toys, kids cushions and luxurious baby gift sets. As a mum, she understands that baby products must not only be super cute but they also need to be practical and safe. Her designs are finished with great care and attention to detail, ensuring that each item will last through many squeezes, cuddles and washes. For this monthly post we selected our ice cream cones, one of many Little Smilemakers designs in her shop. Wanna take a look and see more? Visit her webshop.

Howl and Hound
Our fabric has been used for all sorts of things but seeing these cool dog bandana’s really made our day. We love a stylish pup! And this pet accessory boutique based in Brooklyn, New York made some cool ice-cream bandana's. Looking for some cool pieces to add to your doggies wardrobe? Check out the Howl and Hound webshop.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New Collection // Maxomorra // Fall & Winter '17



Founded in 2008, Maxomorra is a children’s clothing brand from Sweden. Their clothes are characterized by functional design with playful colors and patterns, produced using ecologically and socially responsible textile processes.

The new Autumn Winter ’17 Plus Collection is a new design project, risen from their curiosity to explore Maxomorra outside the box. The new Plus collection contains eight prints in a limited selection of styles, all made by Little Smilemakers Studio. With a few extra details to the prints and a brand new and beautiful color palette. To create complete outfits, there is also a small basic collection with solid colored jersey and velour available. As always, pick your favorites, mix and match, and go out and be fabulous. There are t-shirts, leggings, hats and so much more to choose from. But have some patience, the collection will be released for autumn and isn’t in shops just yet.

Conscious
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed through a collaboration by leading standard setters with the aim of defining requirements that are recognized worldwide and that ensure the organic status of textiles from harvesting raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labelling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.
Maxomorra has been using GOTS certified cotton since 2008 and is a GOTS certified brand since 2011. So if you are looking for some new conscious baby and kids items to fill your shop with contact Maxomorra and ask for their new Autumn Winter Plus collection. Here are three of the designs that will be available next fall.

Monday, July 31, 2017

New Collection available // Karla Cola Australia



A few months ago we licensed some of our monochrome designs to Karla who owns a fashion label in Adelaide, Australia. She creates beautiful, vibrant, unique original accessories as well as clothing pieces for woman. And we are so much in love with her tiny boutique we wanted to give her a little shout out.

Karla has a serious eye for style and her shop is filled with wonderful retro style fabric. Large organic shapes, popping colours and basic monochromes set the tone. All mixed with exquisite accessories, making her creations bold and unique. She mixes class and color with confidence and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of our prints in her future collections. I sure love what she has made with our designs so far; tunics, dresses and headscarfs. if you are curious to see all of her fashion pieces click on the link to her shop.

Shop Karla Cola Designs

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Memphis Style // July 2017



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Russia, The Netherlands and the United States. This month we selected a our top 3 Memphis products, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those baby booties? There was so much to choose from! We have selected some cute baby shoes, shirts, leotards. And we have a link to our Society6 shop, if you would like to add some Memphis to your home. This is our top 3 July selection.

1 // Tiny Little Cactus - Adorable Baby Booties
Krista visit our shop in The Hague to get her hands on some of our Memphis fabric. She became a fan of our designs and a week later she ordered a whole lot more of our fabric via Spoonflower. When we asked her to tag us in her social media posts, because we are curious what peeps make from our fabric, the most wonderful items popped up. We love anything cute and love this local webshop filled with crafty stuff and everything Kawaii. For this months “Made with” we selected her adorable little baby booties in our trending white Memphis print. Soft sole shoes, perfect for your little ones tiny feet. Seriously, things don’t get much cuter than this! We love these fresh colorful booties, but if you prefer our darker Memphis designs: She also has the black Memphis designs available in her shop. If you are looking for some baby shoes or if you are a big Kawaii fan like we are check our her website. Such a perfect new born or baby shower gift!



2 // Mami’s Little Muse - Baby & Toddler fashion
We haven been following this shop for a couple of years already. Isis is one of our regular customers and has made some cute fashion items for little ones over the years. For this month’s post we selected some of her newest rompers and leotards made with our Memphis fabric. We love how she mixes and matches colors and prints. Isis started her little shop after giving birth to her preemie daughter. She could not find any clothes to fit her tiny new born baby girl. Her little muse Kaili inspired her to start dreaming about sewing a whole wardrobe full of clothing for her. And her husband, sensing her determination, came home one day carrying a brand new sewing machine. With all it bells and whistles, it wasn’t long before Isis preemie was the most stylish kid in town with a dressed overflowing with handmade outfits in all the colors of the rainbow. Now she has expanded her collection by adding cool boy designs too. her shop is fresh, fun and colorful. And her items all have a little something special. if you are curious just take a look into her Etsy shop.

3 // LU Kids - Cool boys and girls
Our Memphis designs haven been travelling all over the globe and even in Russia you can find a cool range of kids wear. LU Kids offers trendy fashion items and accessories. This Moscow based shop offers shirts, pants, shoes, everything for your little ones wardrobe. But they have also reated some cool accessories. Shoes, hats, backpacks. An entire series of back to school Memphis prints is released this fall. For this new collection LU Kids has used organic cotton and eco-friendly printing, water-based inks on natural and synthetic fiber textiles. No additional chemicals are used in the printing or preparation process. That is something we just love to hear! Many of our customers are choosing a more conscious approach so we really wanted to list them in our top 3 this month.
Curious about their new stuff? Visit their webshop.

Home decoration & Accessories
We usually only feature handmade items and licensed products in our monthly Made With post. Because this month is a little different that our usual posts we also wanted to add a link to our Society6 shop. Where you can find fashion accessories, bedding, and als sorts of fun items to decorate your home with. If you want to add a little Memphis to your home. Go take a look. We have a whole bunch of other designs to choose from too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sources of inspiration: Iceland // Landscapes, textures and delicious food // Top 5 things to do and places to visit while traveling this amazing island



Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. When I booked my trip to Iceland I needed an easy getaway, staring at lagoons and endless lava landscapes seemed like the perfect vacation. The perfect break from all the chaos, heartbreak and loss. I never travel to colder places, but I usually don’t book a trip during summer so I decided to go North and visit this beautiful island full of amazing landscapes. Adventure was  waiting once again!  

I woke up and was starring out of the plane window 10 minutes before landing and the glance I had over the landscape instantly gave me a little peace of mind. The roads and the landscapes under me where completely empty. Such a relief after all the rush and chaos I had been in for the past months. My first stop was Reykjavik, from here I would travel the Golden Circle and then after a few days it was time to have a little road trip and go east. 

The weather quickly changes and in Iceland they have a saying “just wait 5 minutes.” So when the rain comes, chances are it will be gone in 5 minutes. Definitely something to keep in mind when you arrive at that waterfall and it is pouring. I was lucky with the weather, out of 8 we had 4 days of sunshine, but I did need lot's of layers. Make sure you pack enough clothes! Make sure to pack warm clothes and proper water resistant hiking boots are a must if you want to experience this Island’s raw nature.

Iceland only has a small population and most of the people you will meet are tourists themselves. Therefore the country is focused on serving that tourist majority, the food, the shops, you will find fries and hamburgers and 50% of all shops are selling souvenirs. This is what hell looks like for me, I am not a big fan of the American food culture and I don’t like to buy things, but if you get out of Reykjavik and travel around the country you can dodge this consumerism a little bit. Leave the mass behind and soak up the peace and quiet of this amazing country with snowy tops and black beaches, lava landscapes, waterfalls and geysers. Here is a little short list of things to do and some tips to enjoy this place to the fullest. 



1 // Reykjavik 
The old city of Reykjavik is definitely worth a little peek. I loved the colorful wooden buildings and the city is pretty small, easy to do it all in a day or two. Personally I am a big fan of modern architecture and I love to see how old places are renovated and get modern interiors. The Hafnarhús Art museum is both an interesting building and a great place to visit if you love modern art. A ticket to the art museum is also your entry for two other museums: The Asmundarsafn sculptures and Kjarvalsstadir that houses the works of Iceland’s most influential artist, Jóhannes Kjarval. So if you are an art loving creature like me, this is what a perfect afternoon looks like. 
In the harbor the modern glass concert hall Harpa is definitely worth a glance. This brand new building is a beautiful contrast with it’s surroundings. Take the elevator up to the top story, stare into the reflecting textures, take a look at the ocean view and have a coffee in the lobby after you walk your way down the pretty stairway in this amazing building. Don’t forget to look back. it is such a delightful piece of architecture.  
Although the main shopping street is one big souvenir avenue, there are some nice places where you can find some more authentic memorabilia. Reykjavik still has some record stores where you can get your hands on some original LP’s and they have a great collection of Icelandic music and movies. If you rent a car to make a road trip you can buy your soundtrack in one of these places. I am a big fan of Icelandic music and have made a playlist in my Deezer account for those who want to listen to the landscapes. 

2 // Icelandic cuisine 
On my first day in Iceland I had a terrible meal and as you might know already, food is important to me, so I was not very happy to eat shitty. Iceland is very popular among American, Canadian and British tourists and unfortunately most restaurants serve hamburgers, hot dogs and fried things like fish and chips. While traveling around the country you will notice the donuts and unhealthy take away options when you stop to fill up your tank. Eating out is pretty expensive on the Island but if you want to eat a proper meal it is best to spend just a little more on your dinners. With a little extra you can eat so crazy good! You will thank me for this tip, seriously! The fish on the island is amazing and so are the typical Icelandic dishes where hamburgers are left off the menu. My top 3 restaurants in Reykjavik were Matwerk, Sushi Social and Rok. The last one has small dishes to mix and match and was definitely my number 1. Iceland has some typical local dishes on their menu. Whale can be found in big touristy places but since the whale hunt is up for debate, the more sophisticated restaurants don’t put it on their menu. Reindeer and puffin however are not endangered, if you want to taste Icelandic meat, this is your chance.  

I was surprised Iceland has so many local beers to choose from. If you are a beer lover you can eat your heart out! But it’s expensive. A proper beer will cost you around 1400ISK choose your beer wisely! Wine is just as expensive, but they do have a standard of good wine, not like here in Holland where the wine can be extremely bad sometimes. Not sure how that works, bad wine.  

3 // Walk over water 
Iceland is an amazing country and has lot’s of amazing places to visit. One of the highlights of my trip was a glacier walk, at the Jökulsárlón-Glacier. Maybe also because I am a little challenged doing hikes with my rheumatic joints and I was pretty proud completing an afternoon of hiking over ice, but I am sure it also has something to do with the amazing views, colors and the knowledge the ice won’t be there forever, you can hear the water flowing under you, the melting ice you are standing on. if you are afraid of heights this activity might be a little challenging. The black lava peaks, the gaps between the ice, the textures, the view over the glacier and the ever changing landscapes. It is breathtaking. You can also make a short boat trip on the glacier lagoon and see the blue reflection in the ice caps. The colors are amazing. You won’t be needing any meditation before going to bed that day i promise you!



4 // Chasing waterfalls 
Iceland has over 30 amazing waterfalls, enough to accidentally find some along the way, go off the beaten track and find one of these hidden gems around lunchtime. The perfect way to have a little break from driving and enjoy your lunch. Make sure you are equipped if you want to visit the main waterfalls: protect yourself from the water or get soaked. The Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss and the Gullfoss are Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, they attract a lot of tourists so these are not the best places for a lunch stop but they are worth the visit. The Seljalandsfoss has a path that takes you on the other side of the water. You can see the water drop 50 meters from the cave behind the waterfall. The water comes from Iceland’s notorious Eyjafjallajökull volcano. If you walk up and follow the track you can find another three waterfalls. You can either climb up and go down through the water of enjoy these forces of nature from the main track.  

5 // Geyser watching 
Most households in the city of Reykjavik get hydropower and households are heated with geothermal water from the surrounding springs and is the only country that solely uses renewable sources. Hot water is everywhere and so are hot springs, one of the most famous one is by far the Blue Lagoon. It is also the most expensive and crowded one. There are some little less touristy hot springs scattered throughout the country. If you travel by car you will bump into a few that are more natural and less crowded. The water is important to Iceland and the steam of hot water rivers and geysers turn the landscape into magical sceneries. Water comes in so many forms. The one thing I really wanted to see with my own eyes were the geysers. A rare phenomenon you can only see near active volcanic area’s and one of the worlds famous geyser is the Icelandic Strokkur where you can see the active geyser erupt every 10 minutes. It is truly spectacular. 

These are just a few things on my trip that were spectacular and I really wanted to share. Do some research and explore this amazing country. Make sure you pack a camera and some proper lenses to spot wild life. Puffin, whales and seals. And whatever you do in Island, take your time and respect nature. Don’t go off road or walk into the lava fields, respect and don’t impact and most of all take your time to look. And take in the spectacular views of snow topped mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, green canyons and wild ocean waves. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Handmade faves // June 2017



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some world wide creations from Canada, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the US. This month we selected a whole bunch of clean Scandinavian themed designs, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those cute cuddle cloths? There was so much to choose from! We have selected some cute lions that make a perfect gender neutral baby shower gift, leggings, bibs and pillows. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our June selection.

Rosa Deco
This Dutch shop has a wonderful collection of new born accessories all handmade by Sabine, shop owner and passionate sewer. These fun gift boxes make perfect gifts for a mom to be or the conscious mommy who is looking for organic pieces for their little one. Teething rings, baby cloths, take a look into her shop and check out her fresh style.



Wild Littles
This shop creates modern handmade quilts & bedding for teeny tiny humans. Designed and handmade in beautiful Victoria, BC, each quilt is professionally designed, pieced and free-motion quilted. The very nature of being individually crafted by hand means that there will be slight variations and no two quilts are the same. The quilts make a wonderful, thoughtful gift for an expectant or new mom and are perfect to drape over the side of a crib and easily transition to toddler bedding. Plus they can be used as a play mat for the floor or tummy time, spread out for a picnic or for cuddling and snuggling. These baby quilts are designed to stand the test of time and are sure to be a favorite heirloom to last for many years to come. Go check out the shop!

Bean Sprout
Bean Sprout must be one of our favorite webshops using our Spoonflower fabric. Hiedee has a great eye for unique and bespoke designs and we love her style and gorgeous clean photography. Bean Sprout has a pretty big collection of Little Smilemakers fabrics, all turned into the most adorable baby and kids fashion accessories like baby bibs, book bags, summer hats and nappy wallets. For this months post we selected our abstract rain drops print that was turned into a cool boy bib. Wanna see more? Take a look into her gorgeous shop for all wonderful handmade creations.

Itty Bitty Leggings
Monica is one of our frequent Spoonflower customers, she has a range of Little Smilemakers designs up in her shop every season. She makes wonderful leggings from her Salt Lake City home while she raises her two sons. This shop is perfect if you have some gentlemen to dress. Because she has a fun range of cool boys stuff in there. For this months post we selected out abstract grid fabric. One of our most popular prints this year. Monochrome fabric is trending right now! She also has some gender neutrals and more girly items too. They're lovely! With her fun stylish eye her collection is always on trend. Go take a look!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Creative Business & Infringement // About design ethics and copy cats // How to protect your designs



Something needs to get off my chest, that is why I decided to write this piece. As an artist I have been working in the creative industry for over 12 years now and I have seen things change and shift over time. I love using social media such as Instagram to show what I am creating, new designs I launched and to give my followers a little insight about what I am doing. Get feedback and discuss work. A lot of it is very helpful to running a creative business. But the downside is that my business is a very visual one. I need to show my designs in order to sell them and over the years it has gotten more and more common to see ‘Little Smilemakers Inspired’ designs pop up. So with it is not about creating only, it's about being clever and work smarter. I have grown to tackle quite some problems over the years, maybe this could also help you a little.

Your designs are my inspiration
“Who inspires you” is a question that is often asked to artists during interviews. And to me too. Inspiration to me is something that itches. Something that triggers an emotion, something that creates a response. Shows things in a different light. Confronts, stirs up. It can be a walk on the beach. The perspective of a child. Joy, grief, pain, it is all converted into creation. And therefore very personal. But the interviewee usually refers to another artist, style or brand. And this is why they are so wrong. Inspiration is not something you can copy, it is a trigger, a mood, an energy that gives you power and drive to create. If you are an artist and have your own handwriting you are not highly influenced by other styles. Somehow being inspired has turned into copying that style and handwriting. And it is not ok.

The people I approach that copy my designs usually think it is okay to copy that handwriting instead of contributing to the world, finding their own ‘voice’ in their own unique way. They forget all about staying close to their own strength and choose to disrespect the artist by making a rip off version of a product or in my case a print. I find copied work almost every day. And it saddens me. Today I run across another ‘interpretation of a little Smilemakers concept’ and usually I just feel bad for a second, eat chocolate and get on with it. But some days it is just too much and I reach a point of thinking “shall i just stop doing this” a couple of times. I make things but what people don’t seem to realize is that it is my livelihood. My bread. I spend over 60 hours a week working my ass off. Things don’t just happen. Most importantly I create from the heart, designing is a very personal process and I can see the difference between ‘inspired by’ and copied, I know why I make a certain shape, toss elements a certain way, because the design is me. I am the designer, I know.

Everyone’s a designer
When I started working as a graphic designer 12 years ago, creating things on a computer was done by a selected, talented, few. But more and more software was made, printed media was turned into mostly digital pieces and more recently it became a lot easier to get your hands on cheap software and apps to create your own ‘whatever’. So I changed my graphic ways and started to create illustrations and patterns. Serving another niche of clients. But the past year this business has gotten more and more saturated. Not because of an increase awesome new artists that entered the business. Unfortunately it is the copy cats that seem to thrive nowadays.

My work has been copied by Etsy selling housewives and big multinational businesses. When I confront people that copy my work that are individuals, mostly housewives with Etsy stores claiming to be artists, it is a different story than approaching businesses. They have no idea how copyright works, since they usually never attended any creative business classes, they don’t have any legal insight. Neither do they have any ethical thoughts about copying creations. I started to realize these woman really have no idea how disrespectful it is and how wrong they are. Today I confronted someone I noticed putting up a new design via Spoonflower, the same person already added another design similar to mine a few months earlier. I was stunned. If you have several designs similar to another artist up for sale on the same website it is not dumb luck they seem similar. It is not ‘inspired by’. It is called fraud. Design infringement. When you pick the same shapes, same composition, same theme in the same colors it is not an ‘interpretation of a concept’. Unfortunately somehow I can not get my point across to these people. There is not an easy way to prevent this. Trust me I have tried. We all have to think global and the problem is every country has it's own regulations about copyright. And I am curious how other designers deal with this.

If you are a true artist no one can take away your own uniqueness.

Everyone’s a designer so it seems. But there is a difference to a skilled professional and a copy cat. A professional approach will lead and not follow. If you are also dealing with this kind of nonsense know that a true creative heart always ticks, always creates. Rely on your own creativity, find your own voice, your own style, your own handwriting and don’t focus on others. Do not focus on the negativity and try to let go of the heaviness in your heart when you bump into copy cats and copied work. If you are a true artist no one can take away your own uniqueness. Trust yourself.

Business to business
With all visual exposure from social media it is getting harder and harder to earn a living with my designs. And every few months I work on exclusive designs behind the scenes. Within a few days copies pop up when I put something on Instagram I am working on, or add new designs to my Spoonflower shop, so I choose to keep these exclusive prints private until they are send out to a selected few. When I present my exclusive designs business to business, it’s a given one of them will add the same themes and colors to their collection next season while turning my originals down. This is of course a problem. With my thorough market research, experience and skills it is not only the design I send out. It is weeks of researching the market and target group, scaping upcoming themes, color schemes and trends into new designs. It is not just the print but a whole lot of other information too they are handed before pay out. It took me a long time to resolve this matter but when last year’s batch of spring designs became worthless I knew I had to do things differently.

Last year I made a presentation that was send out to a select few customers. One of them, I had worked for before, shared my work to a company that has stolen my designs before. The customer I send the designs to asked me to prepare a license for three designs that were part of a collection containing 10 other designs with the same theme, concept, colors and elements. However, that same customer did not get back to me to confirm these licenses. After turning down several other companies interested in the prints, I finally got in contact with them and they told me they did not want to buy the designs any more. A few weeks later, the same theme, same colors, same elements…. copies of my designs popped up in their shop. I was curious where they came from: Nooteboom, they said. Which had copied my work before. My entire collection became worthless and I could not sell any of the designs I put weeks of work in. I knew, this was the last time this was ever going to happen.

Working in the fabric industry is shady business. When I visit fabric fairs it only takes me a few seconds to find copied work. It is crazy. So yeah, I learned a lot from my 6 years of making designs for the fabric industry but it still surprises me, the lengths people will go to not pay the artist. To resolve the business to business exclusive design issue I now make customers sign a binding agreement of not adding same themes and elements to their new collection for at least a year after receiving my collection of new designs to choose from. Invest in some legal assistance every now and then. This way your ideas and heard work are at least a little more protected.

It is not much and I am sure there will be another person or company trying out something new here. But do protect your work, add a little business mindset to running a creative business and I hope this piece can prevent you from making the same mistakes I have made so far. I haven't by far figured everything out yet, being an entrepreneur means setting new goals, make mistakes and learn from them. I am working on a top 10 of mistakes, things to think about as an artist while doing business. Things to consider to protect your artwork. So stay tuned!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // May 2017



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Canada, Germany, The Netherlands and the USA. This month we selected a whole bunch of fresh blue colored fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those baby booties? There was so much to choose from! We have selected some cute baby shoes, leggings, blankets and a cool babynest. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our top 5 May selection.

Hen House Apparel - Umbrella Leggings
Nicole is a mother of two boys living in sunny California who runs a small etsy shop with organic materials and unique prints. You can find a small selection of our designs in her shop, mermaids, guitars, polar bears and our cool umbrella rain design that is featured in this months post. With our umbrella print she has made some cute boys leggings and these are also available in her shop in different sizes. Take a look and enjoy her fun collection of leggings, shorts, head bands and more.

LoveBird BabyNests - Blue hedgehogs
LoveBird BabyNests was founded by Ashley, an adventure seeking, outdoor enthusiast, nutrition and fitness passionate, loving mother of 4 beautiful children. While she was pregnant she decided to take on a sewing project creating a little baby bed that turned out to be a cute little baby nest. After her son was born she it became clear she couldn’t live without it and started making custom BabyNests on request for friends and family. Her business grew and now Ashley has a wonderful little online shop. For her small collection of BabyNests she selected some of our favorite Little Smilemakers fabric. Our hedgehogs is one of this years hot selling fabric and available via Spoonflower. Not having any sewing talent? Don’t worry, you can order a custom BabyNest via her webshop.



Tiny Little Cactus - Blue Baby Booties
Krista visit our shop in The Hague to get her hands on some of our Memphis fabric. She became a fan of our designs and a week later she ordered a whole lot more of our fabric via Spoonflower. When we asked her to tag us in her social media posts, because we are curious what peeps make from our fabric, the most wonderful items popped up. We love anything cute and love this local webshop filled with crafty stuff and everything Kawaii. For this months “Made with” we selected her adorable little baby booties in our abstract pink dashes print. Soft sole shoes, perfect for your little ones tiny feet. Seriously, things don’t get much cuter than this! If you are looking for some baby shoes or if you are a big Kawaii fan like we are check our her website. Such a perfect new born or baby shower gift!

Cover Up Baby Studio - Dino Blankets
Did you know Spoonflower also has a very soft minky fabric which is perfect for nursery blankets?
Mary, who is grandma of two, runs a small Etsy business from her home in Michigan selling fresh and unique new born baby swaddle blankets. We love what she made with our blue dinosaur fabric and love her style which is fun and colorful. Take a look into her shop if you want to get your hands on one of these adorable items.

Glitzerpüppi - Blue Garden Fabric
For this German shop we made this cute blue garden fabric that popped up on our Instagram feed a couple of weeks ago. This print is also available via Spoonflower and we love this cute little new born set: a baby romer and a matching headband was made for this little one. Curious about their own fabric production and available fabric? Take a look into their shop and get your hand on some of our exclusive prints.