Monday, March 19, 2018

New Work // Milovia cloth nappies spring 2018 launch

Have you seen the new monkeys over at Milovia? We are very proud to be part of their newest collection once again. It has been a while we have made some new designs for this fun cloth nappy brand.

We started working together when they were rebranding their business. Cloth nappies were not all that common 5 years ago and their business took off and grew rapidly. From a small Polish company they grew into an international brand selling their products world wide and the company was in need of a more international name, appealing to their global customers. So they changed their name from Male me to Milovia and we have been making print designs for them every now and then.

Last year they expanded their collection with home decoration and accessories. We love seeing those pillows and blankets! How perfect is that? Your favorite prints are no longer limited to your babies bum. We are very happy to give them a little shout out here on the blog and of course we really wanted to show you this new Monkey print we made. We love seeing the end result. We hereby want to congratulate Milovia with another fresh collection. Curious and want to know more about cloth diapers? Check out their website for more info and products.

If you would like to license on of our designs for your products? Send us a quick message! Click here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to take care of your Spoonflower fabrics // soft and gentle care

3 Tips for prepping your Spoonflower fabrics

1 // Wash your cotton or polyester fabric before use. Unfold your fabric and wash with a phosphate-free detergent in cool or warm water using a gentle or delicate machine cycle. Wash separately or with like colors for best results. Use of phosphates in detergent is highly regulated in the USA and many other countries and is relatively uncommon. However, we encourage you to double-check your detergent prior to use.
2 // Special note for cotton fabrics: As these fabrics are surface printed with water-based inks, there is a chance of some fading (especially on darker colors.) Front loading washers are the worst offenders due to increased tumbling action during cleaning. Fading can be minimized through the use of cool water and gentle wash cycles.
3 // Tumble dry before use. Indulge your fabric in a cozy tumble dry on a low temperature.

3 Tips for ironing Spoonflower fabrics

1 // Cotton fabrics: Iron our 100% cotton fabrics using standard settings for cotton. Always iron with the printed side down for best results. Steam may be used to remove wrinkles. You'll want to avoid spraying the fabric with a water bottle while ironing because this can lead to unexpected staining.
2 // Special note for Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra: High temperature settings may cause discoloration or crushing of linen, so we recommend you use synthetic settings and a light touch.
3 // Polyester fabrics: These tend to be wrinkle resistant, but if necessary, iron with a light touch on the unprinted side of the fabric using a synthetic setting only. Do be careful with the heat as higher iron temperatures may result in color transfer and, in extreme cases, melting of fabric.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 3 March 2018

We love sharing your creations on our blog and social media feeds. Every month we make a selection of finished creations made by our Spoonflower customers. Our hearts make a little jump for joy every time our studio gets tagged in your posts too.

Most of the creations we see pop up are made by small home based businesses selling their projects via places like Etsy and they share 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 United States, New Zealand and from the beautiful Paris. For this months March post we selected three shops run by moms. A little extra attentions for these three ladies!

1 // Ty Mom Studio
Charlene is based in Paris and has a great eye for thinking in collections. Her fabric choices have a steady ‘feel.’ She has a fun collection of on trend gender neutral fabrics and she is working on a big collection for her webshop launch. Even though her webshop is not quite open yet, we wanted to share some of her cute pineapple and cacti leggings and those gender neutral rompers with you. For now you will have to try and have a little more patience until she opens up her shop you can follow her on Instagram. I already have my eye on these cool cacti leggings. Click here is you want to follow this brand new small business.

2 // Bean Sprout Store
We love everything Hiedee creates. Her style is quirky and clean and she makes fun kids accessories such as book bags, hair ties and what do you think about these mustard cloud hats? She works together with Krystle Photography and together this New Zealand team of power ladies take it up a notch when it comes to small business marketing. Her photographs are amazing and make Hiedees creations pop! Take a look at her shop and see all new gender neutral creations made with our new spring fabric. Click here to take a look in her shop.

3 // Woodbean
Lisa is mom of 5 so you can imagine she has a lot on her plate with those tiny humans running around. Even so she makes time to build her business. Her style is comfy and cool. We love how she mixes prints and uni colors, these combinations make all her products one of a kind. Lisa has used some of our abstract designs in the past and for this months post we wanted to share her cool purple baby shirt where she mixes two of our most recent abstract designs. Her shop is currently closed for a bit while she is moving house. But stay in the loop and follow her Instagram account to see what she’s up to. So you can order one of her fashionable pieces as soon as she opens up her shop again mid-April. Follor her on Instagram here.

Most of our Spoonflower fabric gets purchased by mom’s who love to make something cute for their little one. But some of them take things to a whole other level and open up their own handmade shop with the most wonderful creations. So inspiring! We would love to give all of you hard working mommies a little shout out but we cannot share all your wonderful creations, unfortunately. If you would like to be featured in one of our Monthly ‘Made With’ posts. Just reach out and send us your fabric creations!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Behind the Scenes // Creative Business // Create a passive Income / Top 5 websites for artists

When I was still working as a graphic designer for a local design agency I started to upload my images on stock websites. I always loved to make photo’s and back in the day, we are talking 15 years ago, I was always carrying a camera. My archive of random street photography and abstracts was pilling up and I wanted to put those images to good use. While I was working as a graphic designer I use websites like Getty Images and iStock Photo and up until today I will have a steady base income from royalty platforms.

Passive income is very important. Without this chunk of income I would not be able to built my business. If you are starting out as an independent artist trying to monetize your work there are lot’s of places to turn to. Some websites are only looking for on trend creations, some you are welcome to sell your own original handwriting. Some just are too chaotic and you have to invest way too much time to prepare work in order to sell. I have tackled quite some websites in the past and am now happy with my small list of passive income companies I do business with. Here is a top 5 of my favorite websites to earn some extra cash.

1 // Spoonflower
If you are a surface pattern designer this website is a great way to showcase your work. You can upload your designs as .jpg files and the website is easy to navigate. You can add tag words, a short description and you can easily scale your designs, so you don’t have to worry too much about the quality you upload. Of course working with a high quality .jpg works best, that is obvious to proper designers, but you don’t have to add other scales manually. You can do that in their own system. Starting out Spoonflower can be a little bit pricey. You will have to order your own fabric samples and do a quality check and that can get a little costly. I started out selling my work through Spoonflower around 5 years ago. So my portfolio was built gradually. Seeing your first samples come in on organic cotton or silk is amazing though, and there is a lot you can do with those samples. For me this website is my number one pick.

2 // Society6
Society 6 is a website where you can sell wall art, clothes, iPhone cases, home textiles, accessories… there is so much to choose from. I love the quality of their iPhone cases and always order one of my own prints to protect my phone, a great way to start a conversation about your work, since your phone is always with you.
You can set your own price and I love how easy it is to navigate the backend. You can just prepare one file and use it for all products or you can customize your products. Whatever works best for you.

3 // Creative Market
As an artist I know creative Market is the obvious pick when it comes to passive income. I do not have a whole lot of experience with this website yet. I just started selling designs a year ago. But if you are a graphic designer it is a great way to showcase your work and get in touch with potential clients. You can upload logo designs, photography, website templates and more traditional graphic design products. You can also set your own process on this website. I love that you can have the option since some designs take a lot more effort to create then others. I would really recommend using Creative Market when you are starting as an independent designer. It is probably one of the most famous websites to purchase creative work. So your work will be exposed to people all around the globe. I see chances!

4 // Zazzle
This website has so many products listed it is madness. You can place your designs on products that will be printed by Zazzle. Since I have been selling here for a while I know all ins and outs but all those product choices can be a little bit overwhelming and you will have to invest quite some time to get some traction here. The overall style of the website is a little messy and looks a little cheaper than the clean Society6 website or stylish Spoonflower design. iI can understand this would be a no go. The website does represent your work. Something to consider. The fun thing about Zazzle is that some products are also used on tv series and in films. I found my owl iPhone case in a How I Met Your Mother episode. That sure was awesome! if you are based in the US this website is a great place to upload your content. If you are based in Europe like me you will also have to deal with tax forms and international trading laws. So inform yourself on these things before you start selling and notice it is not giving you any proper revenue due to tax regulations.

5 // Skillshare
Everyone has something to tell and something they can teach. When i hired an account manager this month I noticed all those things I could do on automatic pilot were not at all obvious for her. I had to sit down with here and while I was talking things over I realized running a creative business has let me to some skills other people are looking to learn from. Skillshare is a website where you can share those skills. You can make tutorials and monetize your creative wisdom. Talking about forms of media, targeting new clients to using Instagram for business, how to pick the right brush, creating watercolor flowers, there is so much we can all teach others. Make a list and write down all the things you need to do in order to run your business and also add your creative process. I bet there is a lot you did not realize is worth a little explanation. Teach art. Sounds like a great experience right?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New Collab // Dollhouse Bandits by Tiny Little Cactus

With a new year came a new fun product launch. Tiny Little Cactus has created a new range of tiny dollhouse furniture with fitted bedding and interior textiles for your little ones tiny home.

When I was a little girl I had this amazing three story wooden dollhouse. But I didn’t like the furniture that was available in the eighties: all plastic and too big to fit into my perfect dream house. I remember being frustrated that my interior was a mix and match of style. Well, more of a mix and mis-match. When Krista approached me to help her on her new collection I just had to say yes. I love a well thought out interior design. And this seemed to be it!

You might know Tiny Little Cactus from last year’s fabric collab: BabyBooties. Adorable soft sole baby booties, all handmade with soft and on trend fabrics. This year they added a fun new range of products and for this we have created some custom print designs in Kawaii style. Clouds, bunnies, stars and some of our abstract designs have been used for the bedding for these tiny beds. These small blankets and pillows are now available in all Tiny Little Cactus palette colors. So if you have a little one and want to surprise her with a little bedroom ‘make over’ choose your favorite Dollhouse Bandit.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 February 2018

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection 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 for some kids fashion 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 Mexico, India, USA and The Netherlands. This month we selected a whole bunch of hot selling fabrics, turned into beautiful items. We have some cool kiwi bird backpacks, FU prints and fun woodland bears. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our February top 5.

1 // Zippy Jamz
This US company changes how babies and parents experience their new lives together through high-quality, simple and intuitive products. ZippyJamz’ patent-pending design combines two zippers in a single garment. The first, along the front makes dressing easy; the second, along the inseam, makes diaper changing super convenient. Your baby stays warm during the changing and keeps them in a state of sleep making the nights a little less challenging.
Curious about these genius onesies? Check out their webshop and experience these easy to unzip pieces for yourself.

2 // Cucu Baby
We have been licensing our designs to this baby accessories company for over a few years now and the most recent prints are now launched and available on their website. Their collection is colorful and joyful. With clever diaper bags, blankets, accessories and toddler school bags they offer a wide range of high quality products that are unique on the Mexican market. We love seeing how small businesses develop and grow with us and we hope to create even more fun pieces together in the future.

3 // Dollhouse Bandits
We love clever small businesses and this on one of them most definitely. The Dutch based business Tiny Little Cactus creates the most adorable nursery items and has now launched a new range of doll house furniture, bedding, characters and decoration. We love seeing these adorable items pop up in our feed and it makes me all nostalgic. I used to have a big dollhouse with three stories but never got around to decorating it, my parents thought it was too expensive to actually get doll house items, and they were back then. Dollhouse Bandits is affordable, on trend and perfect as a gift for your little one. Check out all cuteness on the Tiny Little Cactus website.

4 // Daily Objects
We started working for Daily Objects right after our second trip to India. I was all awe about the country and said yes to this collab immediately, which is not something I usually do. There is some research and proper conversation before the ‘yes’ usually. But working together has not been disappointing. Four years ago the company made phone accessories and I started selling Little Smilemakers designs on cases and laptop covers. Now they expanded their range with office supplies, notebooks and home decoration and we love seeing our new prints added to their collection. Take a look and see if there is something you like!

5 // Baby Online Boutique
Of course we had to feature one of our handmade mommy at home businesses. Baby Online Boutique has the most adorable baby and toddles sets. Leggings and matching hats, sweet little jumpers, playsuits and more. We features little Harper in our Grizzly print. Check out this US business online for all fun items.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daily Objects // New designs on iPhone cases, office supplies and home decoration

For over four years now we have been working together with Daily Objects. The company started out selling phone cases and accessories but has grown into a full trendy lifestyle brand. They have expanded their collection with stationary products, tote bags, pillow cases and so much more cool stuff. So as you can imagine it was about time to post a little piece about this company before the holiday craziness kicks in.

Global & On Trend Phone Cases
DailyObjects works with over 70 designers from around the world and offer a fun selection of graphics. Abstracts, comics, Scandinavian inspired prints… enough to choose from. They use advanced printing technologies to ensure that your cases and other items not only look fantastic but are also durable, they even offer a lifetime warranty on their products. Their amazing collection of designs have been carefully selected from artists across the globe, now offering designs from over 70 artists from 28 countries. Watercolorists, surface pattern designers, illustrators, they are all part of the Daily Objects collective and they are still expanding. So much fun to be part of this rapidly growing business.

Tote Bags & Pouches
Daily Objects offers a small range of leather goods, key chains, leather wraps and notebooks. But now they also launched a new collection of tote bags and pouches in different sizes with beautiful high quality leather detailing. We love those new totes! They make a perfect gift for Christmas. In Holland they have banned plastic bags, a cool shopper is a must. Oh yes and of course Daily Objects offers world wide shipping on their products too.

Ok as a designer I am pretty much a paper lover by heart. So when we found out Daily Objects was also making Notebooks we got super excited. We love those notebooks. I am a pretty neurotic list keeper so I can never have enough notebooks in stock. These notebooks have a soft matte finish. Perfect for some classroom notes or scribblings.

Cushion Covers
As a print designer my couch is filled with cool pillows. Daily Objects now offers cushion covers too. These cushions are a great gift for your BFF’s birthday or as a sweet house warming present. Many of our Indian themes are selected for their pillow range. There are some abstracts and Scandinavian inspired designs to choose from too. Take a look and smile up your new home!

Oh and don't worry they still sell over a 100 different cell phone case versions, protective cases, transparent cases and wood cut cases. Also they have some cool laptop sleeves and leather items. So for all you guy shoppers out there looking for a cool present for your girlfriend; check out their cool accessory collection for more manly stuff. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Finished work // Theater Rotterdam

Last fall the studio received an email from an exciting new client. Actually it was the first company I worked for as a graphic designer while I was doing an internship, when I was still eager to become a designer and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, most of the time… I was working here for 6 months.

Theater Rotterdam contacted me to license some illustrations for a kids production ‘Crazy but True’ by Ant Hampton performing in their theater mid-December. An interactive performance magnifying how kids can form their own reality. The flyer and posters were designed to show random facts using typography supported by illustrations.

We are very happy with the lovely result of these graphic items. The typography and illustration color palette with a deep blue, soft pink and white are a strong combination, fresh and fun without getting ‘too young’. We love the result. And we also love performance art, so hopefully there will be more exciting things to work on for Theater Rotterdam in the future.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Finished work // Bubblebubs Australia

This Australian nappie brand was created in 2004 co-incinding with the birth of Vicki’s daughter Abbi. Not long after Vicki started making nappies for Abbi and she had friends asking her to make them nappies and from there Bubblebubs was born.

With 10 years experience in this industry Vicki and her team know what they're talking about. You don't stay in business for that long unless you have great products, designs and great customer service and most importantly great customers! Bubblebubs philosophy is to treat a customer like royalty.

Sustainable Nursery
Sustainability is more and more important. We are happy to see a new trend of conscious consumers. Mommies want to know their baby products are honest. Throughout the years the Bubblebubs products have gone trough many changes and improvements. In 2009 they produced their first batch of One Sized - All in Two Nappies, outsourcing production overseas. These nappies became very populair and are a perfect fit from new born to toddler. Now Bubblebubs offers over 20 different products, from different types of reusable nappies to wipes and wetbags. All you need for your sustainable nursery.

For this high quality product we were delighted to work together on some new designs for their nappie range. Over the past months the new designs have been introduced and they are now available in the Bubblebubs shop.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 January 2018

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection 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 for some kids fashion 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 Australia, Slovenia, Ukraine, USA and The Netherlands. This month we selected a whole bunch of hot selling fabrics, turned into beautiful items. We have some cool hedgehogs, kawaii prints and trendy abstracts. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our January top 5.

1 // Hiskarija Notebooks
Hiskarija is a Slovenian brand that creates hand-made notebooks for kids and colorful recipe paper goods. Each item is carefully chosen, functionally designed and manufactured with plenty of love in an eco-friendly manner. Wanna get your hands on one of these fun notebooks for your little ones new school year? Check out the website and select your fav prints for the new season. They have some cool Little Smilemakers penguins, hedgehogs and a few abstracts to choose from. Hope you like them as much as we do!

2 // 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 summer season Down Under these are great additions to your little ones summer wardrobe. We love our watercolor cacti print and our monochrome geometric design on their handmade pieces. We call it stylish bohemian. Curious about the rest of their collection? Take a look on their website.

3 // Tiny Little Cactus
You might have seen the Tiny Little Cactus booties here on the blog. Krista has launched her new range of doll house items this month. Under the name of Dollhouse Bandits she created tiny furniture for your little ones dollhouse. She also made matching bedding and accessories for those tiny little rooms. Check her website for her fun kawaii and abstract collection of fashionable doll bedding.

4 // Ripka Store
Oksana is based in Kiev and creates adorable sleep suits and baby rompers she sells via her Etsy shop. Her eye for clean monochromes make this shop stylish and trendy. Perfect to browse around! For this months “Made With” post we selected one of her monochrome creations: our hot selling hedgehog fabric. This print has been turned into notebooks, baby nappies, bedding, socks, but this sleep suit, so adorable! We wish her all the best with her fun shop.

5 // Mila Mea Handmade
We were contacted by Debbie through Spoonflower where she send us some links of her new burb cloths creations. Deppie has been a loyal customer of our fabrics and offers tons of Little Smilemakers prints in her Etsy shop. Looking for a cute new born present? She has lot's of fun combo's. Colorful, abstract, monochromes, enough to find something suitable. Check our her online store.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Top 5 Hot Sellers // Love inspired fabric for Valentine’s Day

We are half-way January and blue Monday has come and gone so it is time to focus on the year’s best holiday: Valentine’s Day is around the corner an our loooooove sales are going well. I think everyone is excited to spread some love and we see some new cool Love themes come up in our trend overview. So here is a little top 5 of this years most trending Valentine themed designs on fabric. And of course love is always an option, so no need to limit the use of these designs to one day of the year.

1 // Lollipop Love
This prints was inspired by the naive pop culture trend. We see food and candy pins pop up in fashion and we love these retro style illustrations influence new fashion collections. This designs is a simple illustration of heart shapes lollipops combined with black dots making the design fresh and quirky. Perfect for Valentine.

2 // Monochrome Love Typography
We adore monochromes and this style is still growing strong. A simple black and white print, you cannot go wrong. Small hearts with hand drawn love typography. A cool combo making this print on trend and very useful for gender neutral creations. Create some cool fashion pieces or use this print as wallpaper for your home. I’d love to see this design used in a baby nursery. So cool!

3 // Textured Hearts
This design has been around for a little while. The mint and peach combo is still trending after three years. The textured hearts are matching our inky texture collection. A collection of designs that have been licensed throughout Europe, United Stated and Australia. But it is also available on fabric and wallpaper via Spoonflower. So if you are looking for a more contemporary love themed design, this one might be just what you’ve been looking for.

4 // XOXO Sweet hearts
The monochrome nursery is very popular. And this soft pink xoxo design is perfect for your little girls bedroom and wardrobe. A raw abstract ink print with xoxo and heart shapes. The designs is a basic repeat with minimal shapes making it perfect as a secondary design or for large scale use like curtains and wallpaper. Curious to see some finished results with this one!

5 // Love Hearts
Black and whites with a hint of color are it this year. And this design is perfect for both boys and girls. For your little one or for your own fashion items or home textiles. The pattern is made with hand drawn heart shapes and the random placed shapes make this print playful yet stylish due to it’s color use. You can never go wrong with a strong basic black and white.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Collab // Maxomorra // New Spring 2018 Collection

Founded in 2008, Maxomorra is a sustainable 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 Spring ’18 Plus Collection is part of 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, cute boxers, leggings, hats, adorable onsies and so much more to choose from. And there is even more to come this year!

Spring Favorites
Our fave of the new spring season collection must be the Watermelon Love design. And the super cool Arrow Monkey and Indian Animals. We love how the prints turned out on Maxomorra’s range of kids fashion items. Hope you enjoy the new launch just as much as we do!

Cotton can be a shady industry. Maxomorra chooses to only use sustainable certified cotton. And we are proud to work together with this socially conscious Scandinavian brand. 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 Plus collection.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sources of Inspiration // Vietnam // Blue waters, magnificent caves and delicious cuisine // Top 10 travel tips

Like every year, December is a time to take a break and make some new memories. Travel, explore new places and soak up all the inspiration I need to start the new year all fresh and full of renewed energy. This year I traveled to Vietnam. A country with a horrific and complicated past. A country with glorious beaches and beautiful mountains, caves and rivers.

After a month of traveling from the North to the South experiencing unexpected cold weather, crazy bus trips and lazy taxi drivers, a typhoon coming our way, animals in our room and being constantly lost in translating we did also manage to enjoy ourselves too. So here is a little piece about the things that were actually pretty enjoyable. And it was a lot! So instead of a top 5 I turned it into a top 10 for you guys. If you ever visit any of these places I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

1 // Hanoi - Pearl of the North
The capital city of Hanoi is located in the North of Vietnam where we started our month of traveling. This city has an old center which is buzzing and filled with local bars, street food and boutiques. And very important: Proper coffee! Hanoi is a little hipster. Wandering around the streets you get a good impression of what once was. The city still has a lot of French influences, you can see it in the old quarter, the well preserved architecture and buildings take you back to colonial times. But Hanoi is a modern metropole. It is a fast developing city, a great hub from which you can visit the Northern part of Vietnam: Sa Pa and Ha Long are just a few hours away. I loved the easy atmosphere and starting our trip from this city was great: the people were friendly and welcoming. It was easy to navigate the streets and get a glimpse of the Vietnamese culture. Art Galleries, street art and small fashion boutiques. It was making my creative heart all warm and fuzzy! Asian cities can be overwhelming but Hanoi was fun.

2 // Sa Pa - Green Oasis
The North of Vietnam is simply breathtaking. We traveled from Hanoi to visit Sa Pa with a sleeper bus. It takes only a few hours to get there so if you are traveling North I can recommend taking a bus in which you can actually sit. The sleeper bus is way too tiny for our western sizes. Safe yourself the backache! It was a pretty funny experience though. So many people packed in a tiny bus is always very amusing.

A home cooked meal
The village of Sa Pa is one you can skip. There is not a whole lot to do. If you visit Sa Pa make sure you book a place in the green ease Sa Pa is. We stayed in a small eco lodge, which wasn't very eco but the food was delicious and we had a tiny cabin overlooking the rice field. A beautiful view to wake up with. From the lodge we took a short hike to the small town of Lao Chai. Together with our Sa Pa guide we walked through the rice fields up to her family home where she and her sister-in-law made us a delicious lunch. Sa Pa is definitely a place to visit. Unfortunately we visit Sa Pa in the winter when it was all foggy and crazy cold. If you plan on going North, keep in mind that it can be extremely cold and rainy during winter time it is probably not the best time to visit. So happy we had an electric blanket to warm up during those cold evenings!

3 // Rice fields and mountains
Ninh Binh Provence is a great place to recharge. With it's karst mountains, caves and rice fields it is a great destination to take a little break and recharge. We had a tiny home stay lodge in a valley surrounded by rice fields. This area is a beautiful place for a hike or you can get around by bike to explore the wonderful landscapes. From here we cycled through the rice fields. And we also visit the Caves of Trang An by rowing boat. A three hour trip will take you through canals and caves leading to beautiful temples and pagoda’s.

4 // Magnificent caves in Phong Na National Park
I love being surrounded by nature. For me it is the ultimate way to recharge so I was a little sad when we only got to see some caves while visiting Phong Na National Park. We were, well, let’s call it ‘unlucky.’ The weather was too shitty to actually do all the things we wanted to do. This UNESCO world heritage park is lush and green and you can do all sorts of activities, take a dive within the caves, go climb the mountains or hike through the jungle. When I visit this National park, me and my friend could only do a day tour which meant we had to pick only two caves to explore. We did not have any more time and the weather limited our options. But nevertheless, what we saw was magnificent!

Phong Nha
All trips within this park were organized so we took a small boat with 4 other tourists to visit the Phong Nha cave. With our small boat we entered the magical underground cave river from where we could enjoy the cave in all it’s glory. The colors and shapes. The spectacular textures created by nature over time. Within the cave we got off the boat for a small hike climbing the grottoes and following the passage we walked until we saw daylight. Such a wonderful experience. But we still had another cave to see.

Paradise Cave
The Thiên Đường Cave, better known as the Paradise Cave. This cave has a length of 31 kilometers! Only 1 kilometer is open for tourists, but it gives you more than enough to see. The entrance is located high up the mountain and on a hot day the climb will definitely be a challenge. So bring some water and protect yourself from mosquitos while going up hill. When you enter this cave and have a first glimpse of the magnitude of this gem you will forget the struggle going up right away. The boardwalk will take you up to a kilometer in, and every few meters the cave changes in color & texture. Small pools of water reflect the pastel colors and the soft acoustics turn this cave in a magical unearthly landscape. Hopefully one day I have the chance to see more of this National Park. But the two caves were crazy mind blowing already. So if you want to see nature at it’s best, this is a must see place when you travel through the Northern parts of Vietnam.

5 // Street Food
Vietnam has a strong street food culture. Breakfast and lunch are mostly eaten on the street where little carts and stalls offer simple one dish meals that are cooked right in front of you. Every new day the little stools and tables are carefully installed near parks, crossings and along the busy roads. Small street corners turn into little outside restaurants and locals are sharing a meal and conversation before heading home around 9PM when everything get’s cleaned up again.

One of the reasons to visit Vietnam for me personally definitely is the food. I love the mix of herbs and spices they use and during our trip we couldn't get enough of it! The Pho noodle soup, the fresh spring rolls, shrimp dumplings. And of course the Bahn Mi. Every place you visit has it's own local specialty and we tried a whole bunch of them. What I didn't expect was the amount of meat Vietnamese eat.

For veggies Vietnam can be pretty difficult since all dishes are either based in meat or fish. When you order a veggie version they use a lot of tofu. Most dishes have a base of fish sauce, so if you order a dish and leave out the meat or fish to go veggie they also miss the base ingredient. I would recommend ordering lot's of vegetable side dishes so you can mix and match so your meal won't be too dull.

Vietnamese faves
The most famous meal of the Vietnamese must be the Pho Bo. Noodle soup with raw chunks of beef. This is considered to be a proper breakfast and we never skipped a day without a Pho Bo. There are super tasty ones with fresh herbs and veggies and more dull versions that only have noodles and beef. They are never the same. 

One of my other faves is the papaya salad. With lots of greens we simply don't have in Holland. Mustard leaves, lettuce, shrimp, sprouts, sesame seeds and peanuts form the base of this fresh salad. So delicious!

In Nimh Binh we stayed in a tiny town where goat meat was considered to be their specialty. I did not try it though, those burned full body animals presented on food carts on the side of the roads did not look very appealing to me. I am not a big meat eater so this was an easy one to skip. But Vietnamese food is very meat & fish based. It was hard to avoid both meat and fish. In Huè we first tasted shrimp pancakes. Definitely another high light food wise! With a fresh salad and cilantro and mint this dish was definitely one of my faves up until I tasted the Hoi An pancakes with similar ingredients but with a thin and crispy crust. Super yummy!

6 // Hoi An
We visit Hoi An after our second week in Vietnam after visiting the Northern part. During the first two weeks we managed to avoid the messy tourist places and actually thought we wouldn't be seeing many tourists for the weeks ahead. So when we entered the ancient city of Hoi An we were stunned. It felt like all tourists were centered in the small streets of this city. Mass tourism at it’s best. But it wasn’t all bad, the old town has quit a charm with it’s colorful lanterns and small alleys. And with tourists comes proper coffee. That’s a plus! Hoi An has a great street food culture and you can snack on every corner. It has a buzzing night market where you can find the local food: Vietnamese Pizza and ice rolls. Yum!

Made in Vietnam
And the city is famous for it’s tailored fashion. Shoes, wedding dresses, bikini's..., what is in your closet you wish you had another piece from? Let the Hoi An tailors recreate your fave pieces. I fell into the trap and found a girl who could make me the leather backpack I was looking for. I love handmade leather goods and carry my brown leather backpack everywhere. I was looking for a replacement but couldn't find one back home. With some small tweaks she created the perfect black backpack. There are some places that are just worth the trip even though it is packed with tourists and Hoi An is one of those places. it is easy, fun and there is lot's to see.

7 // Boat trippin’ - Cat Ba & Ha Long Bay
You have probably heard of Halong Bay, one of the most gorgeous bay's in the world. But it is also packed with tourists and we decided to go off the beaten track and visit the bay from Cat Ba Island. A small island south of Ha Long from which you can take a boat trip through the bay. The village of Cat Ba has lost it's glory, it is not the most inspirational place but a good alternative destination from which you can also visit the Cat Ba national park. A small hike leads you to one of the mountain tops from where you have a 360 degree view over the lush Cat Ba mountains. 

8 // Cooking class
Of course a great way to learn a thing or two about local cuisine is to take a cooking class. My friend and I took a class while staying in Hoi An. With a local cook we visit the food market in the heart of the city. We walked through the aisles and I was amazed by the amount of fruits, veggies and fish I had never seen before. We collected our ingredients for the day and took a bike ride to a small village outside of Hoi An to start cooking. It was fun to make some typical Vietnamese dishes, we prepared squid, spring rolls and pan cakes. Unfortunately I already forgot the recipes. Hopefully my friend still has them written down somewhere. I am such a sloppy student! Always have been.

9 // Mekong river and coconut islands
South of Ho Chi Minh City you can find the beautiful Mekong Delta. Most tourists visit the crowded My Tho area but after two days of Ho Chi Minh madness I needed a break from the chaos so we decided to go a little more South to avoid more masses of people.

Ben Tre
We stayed a little South from the Ben Tre village and from there we made a wonderful bike trip to a small island. We took the local ferry to visit an island filled with palm trees, mangroves and coconuts. The lush palm leaves protected us from the burning sun. And every few minutes we stopped to capture the beautiful plants, butterflies and flowers. Exactly what I needed!

Explore the Mangroves
You can also take a boat trip through the mangroves. Oh I am such a sucker for mangroves. What is not to love about trees and water? We visit the bee farm and visit a coconut farm and got to try some fresh honey tea and coconut candy. The Mekong huge and some area’s are packed with tourists. Vietnam tourist is very ‘stubborn.’ And it can be difficult to get off the beaten track but try to make your own path anyway. It is lovely to see the more remote area’s and dive into the real Vietnamese experience.

10 // Vietnam for hipsters
It took us a while to figure it out but Vietnam is pretty hipster. By 2020 Vietnam wants to be a developed country and you can see the country is working hard to meet those expectations. Everywhere you go new buildings are rising and modern concept stores, small fashion labels, art galleries, coffee shops and cocktail bars are popping up in dodgy area’s and old, crumbling buildings.

Preparing for the future

The young generation knows what’s going on and influences Vietnams progressive out look. In the cities you can find a proper latte and craft beer is on the menu. We visit the Pasteur Street brewery in Saigon and had a little beer tasting. It doesn’t get any more hipster than that! Times are changing and so is Vietnam. It is a wonderful mix of it’s complex past and inescapable future.

Whether you choose to visit Vietnam during winter or summer, the country is divers and there is so much to see and do. We were a bit surprised about the crazy cold Sa Pa nights and were not at all prepared for two weeks of cold weather. The climate change is also effecting Vietnam so pack warm clothes! I loved the green and easy North and traveling South we noticed the difference in culture and customs. Making the Southern part very different from the North. I am curious which part you like most. Drop a line of two if you have any comments and if you’d like to share your experiences with this surprising country.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2018 // Top 10 illustrated new year's resolutions // 10 things to add to your life to make it a little more joyful and fun

A brand new year! Hopefully you have had an amazing NY eve, did some partying, cocktail drinking with friends or cuddle up with your family or loved ones. After weeks of making lists and taking time to reflect on the past year it is now time to make room for a new year. Make plans, start new beginnings and of course: new year’s resolutions!

I know every year I have a bunch of silly ones. Luckily enough I am pretty content with my life so usually my new year resolutions are not very strict, life altering or sudden. For this year I have made a series of illustrations to remind myself to stay close to who I am and what I want. They say visualizing your goals makes it easier to work towards them right? The past months have been pretty hectic, so many new things, a demanding new business, to worry about, I have to keep reminding myself to be a little more kind to myself. Add some things, remove some habits, balance my time. Here are some of my favorite new year resolutions for this year.

1 // Create something every day
As a designer this might be a little obvious but the past 6 months my days were filled with contacting customers, searching for the right people for our studio renovations, being busy learning new things to set up a new business, meeting with lawyers, trying to get money back on fabric orders, trying to resolve a ‘water’ issue, fighting for justice with a company who is handing out my designs to anyone. Well, I can go on for a while. But all this meant creating was not an option. An artists day only has 24 hours so for the new year I need to sit down and create again. Do what I love most. Start my day with a pencil in my hand. Definitely my number one resolution for the new year.

2 // Don’t work for assholes
Well, as I already mentioned above, working as an independent artists means having to deal with shitty things sometimes. Every year I try to let go of those who take advantage, are disloyal or just behaving like complete ignorant assholes, mind my vocabulary. I am pretty easy going and if you do something stupid and apologize I am pretty forgiving. Unfortunately saying sorry is a little hard for some companies. I have to remind myself: I will be fine without the drama. I rather work with people that have a heart. Bye bye!

3 // Travel
The most important thing in my life is my freedom. Starting a new business might come with some extra strings but I have to remind myself to take time to travel, soak up some new impressions. I am a worthless human being when I am trapped in a routine. I want to experience new things, challenge my own perspective. It keeps me sharp, clear, focussed and most important: inspired to create new things.

4 // Eat more ice-cream
I know right? Such a great goal! No, I don’t want to lose weight, or eat healthier. I pretty much exercise twice a week and eat pretty healthy home made food, fresh veggies, start the day with smoothies, you name it. But this past summer I went out for ice cream once! Seriously! So I do need to eat more ice-cream, treat myself a little. Don’t forget to spoil yourself sometimes!

5 // Write more
I love creating, I am not a very good writer though but I like how it organizes my thoughts and experiences. We do not take enough time to let things in. To experience to the fullest. I love writing down things to sit down and reflect. It is like taking pictures of moments. They will stay with you a little longer. I love sitting down to write blogposts but I am too busy to make them as in dept as I would like. So yes, write more, and take time to write.

6 // Go for walks
I don’t spend enough time in nature. And I love wandering around the forest, take a walk on the beach. Go out and clear my mind. So important! I do not have a significant other special peep to talk about and share my day with over dinner and I know that my mind will go get busy if there is no room to digest things. A walk in the park can do wonders. I should. I will go for a walk. Once a week. With or without company. So doing this!

7 // Smile to strangers
Don’t you hate it when someone looks at you and they try to ignore seeing you? they cannot look away any faster. Especially irritating when they know you personally. What the hell? Such a weird way of treating someone. Sometimes I can feel very lonely, I walk down a busy street. No one interacts with one another. That is definitely not me. I started smiling at strangers, just a second, a short connection can make a day a whole lot lighter. A simple smile makes such a difference. It even releases endorphins, natural painkillers people! Let's give it a try!

8 // Eat more Cheesecake
Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure. I used to meet up with my best friend over cheesecake to talk about life, and love and everything that would keep us busy. Eating more cheesecake means: spending more time with loved ones. Sit down and listen. Quality time with friends. Let's make it a priority again!

9 // Quit buying shoes
And suddenly I was and accidental shoe addict. I don’t like shopping, I don’t like trying on clothes, I don’t like brief trends and I am not someone you’ll catch shopping on a Saturday afternoon. But as a human being I kinda have to cover myself, with clothes. Somehow I always go home with new shoes. I should definitely stop buying shoes instead of clothes!

10 // Get a new kitty
Or make some room in my life for something cuddly. I have had a cat for 22 years and I miss a soft purring creature that makes my house a home. But I am also a little anxious to commit. I might have some issues with commitment nowadays. Hmmm. Get a new kitty might be the first step to healthy commitments again.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Holidays // Merry Christmas and an awesome 2018 // Warm wishes from our studio

It is that time of the year again. While the snow is falling, making the streets white and soft a quiteness falls over me. It is the time of the year to reflect on what has happened. And it has been a lot. Are you ready for a new year? While the media is making 'best of 2017' lists we are reminiscing over a fruitful year ourselves and closing up for a well deserved break.

The year started with a renovation. Decorating and opening a shop with Little Smilemakers fabrics and products was a dream come true. I never thought having a shop would be so much fun! People dropping in giving feedback, seeing those smiles on those customers faces. And I got to travel again, work on new exciting projects with clients from all over the world. New designs, new in depth researches and new trend reports. In September we found a new place and moved the studio, getting a bunch of new colleagues to work with. So much fun!

I have met some amazing new people this year while I was part of the creative hub of The Hague: Makerskwartier. Being part of a street full of creative entrepreneurs is so uplifting! All walking the same path, building a creative business from scratch. So much fun! So much has happened this year, business wise but also personally. Looking back 2017 has been a challenge but it hasn’t been half bad. It was a rollercoaster with unforeseen bumps in the road that only lead me to a clearer path and adventures to come.

There are a whole bunch of new plans for the future. We will be starting a search for a new account manager in January. And I will be exploring new ‘waters.’ But first it is time to celebrate and enjoy Christmas time with friends and family. Have a good toast to the new year and leave 2017 with a big bang. See you all in the new year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 December 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 the US, Australia and India. This month we selected a whole bunch of winter and seasonal inspired fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and home and interior decoration, so much to choose from! We have selected some cute tote bags, leggings and soft sole shoes. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our December top 5 selection. 

1 // Daily Objects 
Next to phone accessories, laptop cases and notebooks, Daily Objects now also launched a new collection of tote bags and pouches in different sizes with beautiful high quality leather detailing. We love those new totes! They make a perfect gift for Christmas. In Holland they have banned plastic bags, a cool shopper is a must. They also added some cool home decor to their range of products. Our prints are now also available on pillows. Oh yes and of course Daily Objects offers world wide shipping on their products too. Click here for their collection.

2 // Le Petit Bouton 
Lisa Gillies a young mum and the owner of Le Petit Bouton. Like many new mums, she was madly searching for items for her little girl that were unique, on trend, and made with beautiful fabric and she was getting frustrated at not being able to find exactly what she wanted. That is why she decided to start her fun shop, stocking gorgeous little girls hair clips, hair ties and headbands using beautiful designer fabrics and organic knits. Our little reindeer girls have also been added to her webshop for this holiday season. Her products are perfect for special occasions, party favors, birthdays, baby showers, new arrivals, school, stocking fillers...the list goes on! Baby skyler is modeling her fun products. Such a cute little girl! Take a look at her shop if you want to get your hands on one. 

3 // Olive the Things 
For our seasonal ‘Made with’ post we selected a cute reindeer sweater. One our our personal favorites for this jolly season. This Utah based shop offers a great selection of soft sweaters, hoodies, shorts and other cool kids items. of you are looking for some cozy pieces for your little one, this is the place. take a look at their Etsy shop and check all fun mix & match pieces.

4 // Hazel & Holly 
We love these cute Origami Santa leggings. Perfect leggings for the holiday season right? And suitable for both boys and girls. This Washington based shop offers handmade kids clothes has a wonderful collection of seasonal fashion for kids. We have created some new Christmas themes that were selected for her new range. Leggings, skirts, beanies. Check them all in her Etsy shop.

5 // Little Pitterpat 
Every month a new set of soft soles pops up in our feed. Little Pitterpat has been using our designs for over two years now and we keep loving the way our fabrics are turned into the most adorable baby and toddler shoes. These soft soles baby shoes are made by hand in Sharies studio in Montana. For this months 'Made with' post we selected their Grizzly Bear Ski Slope print. One of our fave designs suitable for both boys and girls and we know how handy those gender neutral items can be. Looking for a baby shower gift? These cute shoes make a great present. So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these. She has over 500 different items, yes lot's of different prints as well, to choose from. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Sources of inspiration // A playful mind in business

As you know Little Smilemakers Studio targets their designs on the children’s market mainly. Most of our designs are triggering those little ones fantasy and we love to see the joy on our tiny customers faces when they get to wear on of our designs or see our prints in their home and on daily products.

It is not a coincidence our prints are attracting those mini humans. Play is one of our biggest inspirational triggers. Whenever you are playing with your son or daughter or playing a board game with friends or dancing around the living room butt naked singing along with some terrible cheesy song; being playful is the fuel for creation. It opens up other possibilities, views and perspectives.

Choose a crazy color of lipstick instead of sticking with your regular tone. Commute on a skateboard instead of taking the bike. Try hanging upside down next to your kid on the playground. Try new things, new places, new food, and open up your senses to explore to the fullest.

Unfortunately most playful things are targeted on kids, but keeping an element of play present throughout your busy day will keep you energized and focused. At least that is what it does for me. It opens up new possibilities because my mind get’s distracted from my stressful studio life. Playing keeps you happy & healthy.

Play is getting more important. It is a way to reduce stress but also a way to engage. Customers choose to spend money on new experiences and making memories instead of spending their cash on stuff. It is another opportunity to reach customers and think out of the usual box. We see shops turn into concept stores with room for surprise and incorporating spaces to experience, grab a coffee and meet up, an mix of commerce and hospitality. The boundaries fade and the story behind a brand gets more important, it is not about quantity any longer. So we try to tell stories with our designs, trigger these creative souls in a playful manner. Curious to know more about how we can incorporate play into your brand? Just reach out and send us a message. We are also very curious to hear what you have to say about play. So let’s chat!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SOAPBOX // Column // Cotton Mafia

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

While I am preparing to close up the studio and finishing up all work to end the year I am daydreaming about this year’s holiday destination. Christmas and New Year’s are the perfect time of the year to travel if you are a small business owner like me and I love traveling to Asia, it is warm, the food is delicious, the people are welcoming and it is rich of culture, that gives me a great boost of inspiration.

Black Friday mayhem
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming and going I have been shocked to see the immense craziness involved with buying. Consumerism is something I am guilty of as well, but I do not like spending money on unnecessary things. I consider the source before buying anything new and it frustrated me how non-transparent brands and their products are. I want to buy something honest but the past year, building up a fabric production for the studio, I learned the cotton industry is shady business.

Cheap countries
Last year I visit Cambodia and traveled around the country. Going from one place to another I noticed an enormous amount of trucks passing our car coming from the other side. I asked my guide where these trucks stashed with woman and children was coming from. “From the Chinese clothing factory.” he said. And I watched these trucks pass us for half an hour. I started counting half way through and counted over 60 trucks. Carrying people, at least 30 people per truck. My guide told me about the Chinese companies relocating into Cambodia and subcontract for large fashion brands like Zara, H&M. After witnessing this I felt physically ill. The amount of people necessary to make cheap clothes in the poorest and most desperate corners of the world.

The Certified Cotton fairy tale
Most companies I work for are certified. Source their cotton from American cotton fields but the problem with cotton and therefore the fashion industry is that there is so much money involved. getting certified is simply applying and paying for the certificate. From there it is easy to outsource to cheaper factories, leading towards higher profit and low prices for consumers that love to shop in mass production shops like Ikea, Action or Primark.

When I started Little Smilemakers Shop my mission was to produce eco conscious fabric. Sourced, manufactured and printed in proper conditions. While starting up the production I noticed how naive I was, asking questions always led me to a dead end: “We can not tell you where the cotton knit manufacturer is located”. While hiring a print factory they told us they were certified, but they outsourced the printing. When I asked OEKOTEX and GOTS, two leading certifying companies, how this could then still be a certified, checked and approved process they told me they had never heard of this issue before. Leading me to believe these certifications don’t mean anything. Companies pay for the certificate. The main factory is checked and approved but all sub contractors are off the grid. I am a critical one, I don’t want to step into something so very shady and support this exploitation.

The conscious mindset
Because I am traveling to Asia again, not for the cheap prices, I wanted to get this off my chest. Whenever I travel I see the impact the, mostly Western consumerism has on these beautiful countries. With Zara in the news, factory workers sewing in labels crying for help, this is such a relevant topic directly related to my own business. I hope for the next year things within the textile industry will get more transparent leading to honest work. I hope there will be more awareness and saving money won’t be a priority over humanity much longer. Check your labels, buy local and if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Especially in the upcoming weeks leading to Christmas. Care a little.

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. For this month we selected out monochrome crosses designs that was turned into bedding. 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

SOAPBOX // 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 keeps 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.