Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Hello! I got the chance to ask Ashley Henderson of Zella Woods some questions about her creative work- and boy, was I blown away by the passion and creativity with which she handles her business. I also found it intriguing that each piece of jewelry she crafts holds a different message- to different people and also has a special significance in Ashley’s creative process. Read on to discover the world that is Zella Woods- and thank you, Ashley, for such interesting and honest answers!

 Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Please tell me a little bit about yourself. 

I am Ashley Henderson – a Southern California native, living and loving in Austin, Texas. I am the lucky wife to one very selfless husband, the mommy to one very strong-willed 4-year-old daughter, and the owner // designer // maker behind Zella Woods Designs (zellawoods.com).

I have been fortunate to travel a lot at a young age and even live abroad in college. However, the list of places I want to go and see gets longer every day. This exposure to travel has heavily influenced the way I see things creatively and is the foundation behind my jewelry designs. I am inspired by foreign cultures and their craft, I tend to love everything vintage and I am a firm believer in supporting handmade makers as often as possible. The same heart that lives in them lives in me.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

How do you maintain the balance between regular life and your work?

I may not always get this part just right, but I sure try. One of the things I miss about working in an office is the idea of checking in at 9am and checking out at 5pm. When you’re the boss and the only one behind the business that just doesn’t happen. It’s really hard to turn work off when it’s in your home and all on your shoulders.

But it’s also really great to be the only one making decisions, getting to do things your own way and not having to answer to anyone else. So it’s a learning process. I have had to learn to identify over the years when work is consuming my every thought and unplug. Take healthy breaks – whether it’s a real lunch break or a week off. I’ve learned a better routine of setting boundaries. It helps too when kids get to school age because it sets a designated work window.

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What was the hardest part while starting your business?

The hardest part for me is, and always has been, talking about myself. Promoting what I make and myself doesn’t come natural to me. It’s very stressful, personally, to contact bloggers or shops and ask them to feature / carry my work. It’s something I’m still not great at I’d say, but something I have definitely worked hard to improve on over the last year specifically and it’s paying off.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

 

What makes you the happiest in your creative process?

The passion behind my business is rooted in love – my love for family, love for travel, love for design, and above all love for God.

My grandmother had passed away before I was born, but she has always been with me. She is Zella Woods – the original inspiration and namesake for Zella Woods Designs. She was an immaculate lady in a generation that valued the idea of always looking and wearing your best, even if you spent your days in the kitchen at home. Seeing her in pictures throughout the 1950-60’s is how I’ve developed a nostalgia for all things mid-century vintage. When I work to salvage pieces of jewelry from that time period, or design new items using original parts from that era, it reminds me of her and the affinity you feel for family.

When I use materials ethically sourced from other countries, it reminds me of the whimsy and naivety when being totally immersed in a foreign place. Somewhere totally unknown, where the language isn’t understood and the culture are beyond my wildest imagination. That sense of being totally outside my comfort level; that’s where true adventure lies, and you never forget the feeling.

When my daughter came along, she was named after her great grandmother too. That sparked a totally new chapter of creativity. Now when I make custom pieces for mommies that remind them of their littles, it tugs at my heart. When I have women fighting cancer that order custom bracelets with phrases of affirmation or words of strength, that stuff means so much more than the words I inscribe. These things speak so deeply to my soul and the purpose God has put on my heart to fulfill with my hands.

My ultimate hope is to live a quiet life and work with my hands to make jewelry that people treasure like memories – timeless pieces that speak to the individual rather than the masses.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day at work?

I feel like my average day never has a typical rhythm. Sometimes it starts with a tea party and mommy duties before replying to emails and getting my social media game on. Other days it’s straight into the grind – making product, fulfilling orders, sketching new design ideas and photographing product for the website. No two days are ever the same. Which is how I like it. One of my favorite parts about my job is that I can flex my schedule around my daughters needs. If she wants to play dress up or cowboys and indians around the backyard for an hour, I can press pause on work and soak up those memories. Other times she’s right there beside me pretending to make jewelry and learning to use my tools. It’s a beautiful thing to see her creativity blossom behind what I call work. That alone makes my heart full most days.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

What qualities are needed to keep up and also enjoy running a creative business? 

Determination. It’s a must. There are days where things are totally overwhelming. I’ve heard myself saying I just can’t do this anymore and then I remind myself why I do what I do – I love it. My husband helps remind me of that all the time to, it’s impossible without support.

When you make something you love into work, you have to be ready to fight for it when things get hard. If I hear myself saying something that I wouldn’t want my daughter telling herself (like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not as good as so-and-so with 50k followers”) I shut it down, immediately. I dive into the Bible or a devotional and refocus. God has me right where I am supposed to be. I’m not going to doubt that for a second more than I’d allow her too. You have to have a strong conviction that this is what you were made for and know what will keep pointing you back to that truth so that when times get tough you can turn to that for encouragement and refuge.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Where do you see yourself in a few years? 

We have another little one on the way as of 2016. Knowing there will be two kids calling me mommy means work will have to look a little different. For years I have wanted to incorporate the craft of other artisans around the world in impoverished regions, and this is the year I want to start making that a reality for Zella Woods. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like yet, but I know God will lead us. In the past I have featured some fair-trade items handcrafted in India where a portion of the proceeds went back to orphan care in that region. Something along those lines is where I’d like to see the business grow- in a direction that is still featuring my own original designs in collaboration with the traditional craft of other artisans that will empower and enable them to thrive.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

What is the main inspiration behind your lettering engraved on your jewelry pieces?

Scripture most often inspires them. Every time I open the Bible, work through a group study or listen to a sermon, I’m sketching something and taking notes. The word of God never fails to open new chambers of my heart, breath new life into my weariness or humble me in awe of how He loves us. It’s endless inspiration.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

How long has jewelry making been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

I had made my own jewelry for ages. I never thought about making a business out of it until I got married. I had made pretty much everything for our wedding – from the table numbers and napkins, every announcement, invite and program, to bridesmaid accessories and my own feather and rhinestone hair piece. I had fun doing it all. But when my husband heard how many compliments we got he started nudging me into thinking of it as a business. Plus I hated my office job at the time and thought very seriously that a piece of my soul may die if I stayed there any longer, so when I had Zella it was time to quit and dive in head first to small business ownership.

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Just for fun: What are your favourite colour, flower and animal? Do you think you’ll incorporate other elements in your jewelry style like these favourites?

My favorite color is impossible. If we are talking clothes, it’s neutrals like navy, white or black. If we are talking strictly jewelry it’s turquoise – every single time. I’m obsessed with genuine turquoise. It’s stunning and wears well with everything.

Favorite flowers would be peonies, hands down. And favorite animal is kind of tough. I’d say the wildest animal I have seen in it’s natural habitat (that literally took my breath away) would definitely be the giraffe. They have a grace about them that you would never expect from this rather awkward looking animal. I guess I can relate to that somehow, always feeling like a rather awkward human but being told by others I have a strong sense of style and air of confidence that I don’t necessarily see in myself. If that makes any sense 😉

My favorite colors will always play a role in my designs. They’ll change over time, no doubt. But color is a great source of creative inspiration in my work. As for my favorite flower and animal, outside of the way they inspire my aesthetic senses, I’m not sure I see them in future jewelry designs of mine. But you never know.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

I adore your clean workspace- the combination of white and wood is so clean and refreshing! How do you keep it clean and organized?

I clean it up like that after I’m done making orders. Every time. Because it feels so much better walking in to a clean slate. When I’m in the midst of making stuff though it’s pretty much covered in tools and supplies. Haha!

I think the best advice for organizing a workspace is start with the basics. My dad and I built that workbench together. I knew I needed a standing height work surface so we started with that. All the cabinets, desktop and storage slowly came piece by piece after that, depending on my needs as I learned to run things like a business and grew. Then it’s just a matter of tweaking things here and there to make stuff as accessible and organized as possible.

 Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

A lot of the components in my space are from Ikea. They’re mostly solid wood pieces that will last a long time and are easy to customize. The white cabinets under my desk are my favorite because they are shallow drawer storage, which is essential for maximizing a small space!

Hope that helps! Thanks for complimenting my space 🙂

Thanks Ashley for this amazing interview! It’s very inspiring to see people shape their vision of something so intangible at first, to something so wonderful.

 …
Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

 

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Through the Lens: Nora’s World

    Through the Lens: Nora's World

Another Feature from the Inspiration Series! Today, it’s all about photography. I had the opportunity to talk to Nora, who I discovered on Instagram. It’s really great that she is so creative and has her own website exclusively for her photography..and she is only 13! I adore finding people of all ages who take up a hobby with passion and interest, and Nora is a such a great example! Read on to hear what she said about her creative process in the wide, wide world of photographing human subjects and more.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Nora Powell. I’m 13. I fence, act, debate, and own my own photography business. I love to share my work on Instagram and have people view my work.

 What is your creative process like? 

Honestly, it’s not very professional as it could be. I don’t really sketch out ideas or plan very far in advance. I don’t post the photos I take for my clients on Instagram because I don’t use contracts with them, and I’m not sure they would be comfortable to have their photos on social media. I do post them on my website. For my Instagram, I just make plans with my friends and go to a nice location near me, and shoot. I don’t really plan those in advance at all. For all of my photos, my editing process is pretty simple. I just adjust saturation, contrast, sharpness, and other quick-fixes, depending on the photo.

Through the Lens: Nora's World
What are the things that inspire you the most?

The locations that I shoot at definitely inspire me. Other photographers are also a great source of inspiration. Some of my favorite photographers are Isabella Madrid (@isabellamadrid), Neville Caulfield (@nevillle), and Brittney Borowski (@brittneyborowski).

 How did you get started with photography? What keeps you motivated? 

I got started taking pictures on a trip with my dad to Bar Harbor, Maine. I took them on a small, orange, point and shoot camera. The location was so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist taking pictures. I fell in love with taking pictures, and have been doing it since then. Staying motivated in photography isn’t a problem for me. I love taking pictures, and that is all the motivation I need.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

What would your ideal day be like?

My ideal day definitely involves photography. It would probably take place in the UK. I love London and the British countryside is so gorgeous. I’d probably get a private plane, so I could travel around the countryside and take pictures in London. I would take pictures of the most in-demand models at the time, and have them featured in Vogue.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

  In the midst of creativity and life, how do you keep yourself focused?

Staying focused on different parts of my life can sometimes be challenging. I just try to do the appropriate things at the appropriate times. I focus on school at school, fencing at practice, and photography during editing seasons and photoshoots.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

 What’s the part in your creative process that makes you the happiest?

I love going out on location, and shooting. Editing can get very tedious, so I prefer shooting.

Just for fun: what is your favourite food and ideal outfit?

My favorite food is probably sushi, and my ideal outfit is a wine colored shift dress with a v-cut neck and black or grey heeled booties.

Through the Lens: Nora's World
What are three things that are key to taking a good photograph?

The first thing for me is to defy the “set” rules of photography. If you get a great shot, ignore the rule of threes or any composition rules. The rules can make a shot better, but they aren’t essential to getting a great photograph. The next component to a great photograph for me is to make sure you are enjoying yourself while shooting. If you are’t happy/ ready while taking pictures, you definitely can’t get your best/most creative shots. The third tip is to review photos while shooting. It’s very important not to take photos blindly, so you can make sure you are getting the shots you want and correct your mistakes before the shoot is over.

 What are your go-to tools and equipment you use? 

I currently use the Canon Rebel t3i with a Canon 50mm 1.4 or Sigma 24-70mm lens.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

What’s the easiest (and hardest) part about photography?

The easiest part about photography is probably taking family shoots outside. The hardest part is the editing process after an event. It can get very grueling and tedious.

Do you want photography to be your career? What type of photography are you interested in? Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I’m probably not planning on going into photography for a career. I’m very focussed on academics, and would probably like to go into a field like law or business. If I did go into photography for a career, I would definitely like to go into fashion. In a few years, I hope to be going to Stanford, on my way to business or law school.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

Could you imagine a series of perfect photographs and describe them? 

I would love to take photos on some of the beautiful landscapes on the 17 Mile Drive in California. I wouldn’t want it to be overly cold or foggy at the time of the day/year I take the photos. I would love to take pictures of a variety of models, male or female, and of all ethnicities. I would like the clothes to be similar to the ones that were shown at the Atelier Versace Couture Show.

Through the Lens: Nora's World
 It’s inspiring to see you focused on your creativity at such a young age. Who encouraged you to take up photography and continues to encourage you every step of the way?

My friends and followers on Instagram are my biggest encouragements to continue photography. I started photography because I was inspired by the beauty around me.

Through the Lens: Nora's World

Thank you Nora for giving us a glimpse in your photography journey! Wishing you all the best!

Find Nora here:

Website: http://www.norapowell.website/
Instagram- Photography @efflorescing  Personal- @norapowell_ 
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMavDyQXQKRBqYua6-ls55Q

Nora Powell / Photographer
norapowellphotography@yahoo.com
Nora Powell Photography
http://www.norapowell.website/
404-490-6527

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Inspiration from Flavourknit

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

Hey everyone! I had the opportunity to talk to Masha of Flavourknit- who makes lovely crotchet and knitted dresses, dream catchers, earrings and more. I absolutely loved the cool vibe of their work- along with the detailing. Masha was kind enough to answer all these questions about her creative process and how she integrates it along with managing a business. Read on to find out more!

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Masha and I’m an owner of Flavourknit. There are 4 of us working on this project – I and 3 knitters / crocheters. All of us love knitting and can’t imagine our lives without it.

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

What is the hardest (and easiest) part of a creative business?

The hardest part of a creative business is to launch it and the most important thing is not to give everything up at the beginning. It’s also not that easy to run a business on your own without much experience. Although, there are always people who can help you;  it’s still very hard to make your own decisions, especially when everything is at stake.

 Inspiration from Flavourknit-

What inspires you the most?

I get a huge inspiration from nature, from photography, art and other projects. Now because of the crisis, more and more people are starting their own projects in Russia. I can see that from time to time when participating with Flavourknit in Moscow markets. And all of them inspire me more than everything else. They are strong, smart, intelligent and kind. They all have their own dream. And it makes them absolutely marvellous.

Since you live in Moscow, has the place inspired your designs in any way?

Sure. Moscow is huge and there are around 12 million people living here. It can effect or affect you in both ways, but still I love how people look in Moscow, especially these last years.

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

I absolutely love your dreamcatchers and cute accessories! Where do you come up with your ideas?

I don’t know how does it work, but all my ideas come really accidentally!  As for the dream catchers – I just came across some beautiful pictures on Pinterest and finally decided to create my own dream catcher. It took some hours to understand how to make it real and cute. All my fingers, table, clothes were covered with feathers and glue – but after all that, the final result really surprised me! Now I can’t stop making them, and have already carried out some workshops 🙂 And this is something that I’m proud of. I have never thought I’d teach people to make these things…I’m so happy!

Inspiration from Flavourknit- 

Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I know this question is very important but I really don’t know. I guess i can move somewhere to the seaside, but not sure. However, we never know what the future brings! 5 years ago I planned to become a famous lawyer and now I knit and make dream catchers.. Who knew?! 🙂

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

How did you start your business? 

I was always looking for something interesting and creative…And then I just did it. I mean just found a team, made some trial orders and created my first collection. It wasn’t easy – it took some time to arrange everything but somehow it all worked out.

How long has crotchet and knitting been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

I started to knit when I was just 10-12 years old. After that I was too busy with my school and uni.. And only this year I decided to start over again. And I’ve never knew this hobby will anyhow be converted to the business like that…

 Inspiration from Flavourknit-

Just for fun: What is your favourite outfit and food?

Hmm maybe i should say dresses as we have more than 80% of dresses at Flavourknit. But still I really like skirts 🙂

I’m a fan of Italian food. And I like sweets! All kinds 🙂

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

Could you describe a typical day at work?

Unfortunately, it’s not that romantic as it could be since i have to work as a foreign trade manager 5/2. That’s why it’s started at 7 a.m. when I wake up for my first full time job. Btw, I like working in the office. I think everyone should try it. It really disciplines you, make you more organized and serious, Haha, yes, I like to be creative too, but can’t imagine my life without this experience! I’m working on Flavourknit every evening. Every weekend. Every holiday. In other words when I don’t go to the office.

Now it’s getting harder since I really need some more time to do everything I want. And Flavourknit becomes bigger and bigger, but as I said we never know what the future brings. Let’s see what we’ll do next – anyway our ’15-16 collection is taking more time than I’ve expected. Maybe I should retire finally 🙂 Will see!

Inspiration from Flavourknit-

Thank you Masha for a glimpse into the world of Flavourknit! All the best to your future and keep knitting!

Follow Masha and Flavourknit here:
Instagram: @flavourknit
Inspiration from Flavourknit-
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Inspired to find Inspiration

Finding Yourself

I got a new computer. So..even though I’m clicking a lot of pictures; I have to install the camera processing etc on the computer..and. I haven’t got around to doing it yet. Still, I feel compelled to write, just write.

I went out for a day trip, and it was a nice, peaceful trip to a farm which had shades of everlasting green and pops of colours- yellows, lavenders, pinks and purples and sunny oranges. Love it. The worst part? I forgot to pack my notebook that I carry around with me practically everywhere…and I didn’t think of carrying my little art sketchbook at all. I was just so bummed…here in this beautiful place with the breeze, the fresh smell of grass, cats and florals..and I didn’t have any of my ‘tools’.

Due to a lack of planning? Maybe, yeah. And some of that blissful ignorance. The trip was planned pretty fast, and I just found out we were going to a ‘farm’ somewhere far, far away. How was I to know it wasn’t a dingy, brown red terrain with squelching mud and rows of crops? It was green and clean and flowery and modern. Yup, it was a modern farm, which specialised in seed production and natural products. No nasty chemicals and fertilizers lying everywhere. It was more like a green resort- and back to the point- I love, love sitting down in nature and writing down ideas and plans and just notes about anything that’s on my mind.

Yet here I was, without a pen, book or anything to note down my thoughts. I suppose I could have asked a farmer (or the interns roaming around-yes, modern farms have interns too) but then I thought-

Leave it.

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I’ve been working pretty hard the past few weeks, with my pen and paper at hand pretty much all the time. Maybe this had happened so that I could just..relax and get inspired. By not thinking about any work related thing. At all.

And I didn’t think about anything. I didn’t even take the sneaky way out by writing notes on my phone. So over that. I just walked around the different plants that were growing, snapped pictures of flowers and trees looming high up in the air, picked cherries and played with the friendly cats and dogs in the farm, fed rabbits, watched ducks waddling, cows ploughing the golden brown fields, drank lemonade and picked and avoided ants getting in my food.

It was good, to say the least. And sometimes, really not thinking about something is the best way to get inspiration for it. I’ve been  spending so much time on my phone and computer lately and today, I practically forgot about them. (Except, of course, I’m typing this up now on the computer. But I’m not just surfing.) And it was great to not think, just feel that inspiration is there.

And that’s kind of inspiring.

 

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Why I blog

Why I blog: For the love of Blogging via Opinion9.comThis post is the first post from a series called ‘Essays’. Plenty of firsts this week; stay tuned.

WHY I BLOG. It’s hard to say why I blog. And terribly easy at the same time. Let’s start with some reasons that are at the top of my mind right now:

1// I blog because I love writing.

2// I blog because I love seeing my work published anywhere and everywhere.

3// I blog because it gives me an opportunity to write. And write.

4// I feel a sense of accomplishment when I blog.

5// I blog to practice and sharpen my photography skills (over at Surely Simple)

6// Other bloggers who have been perfecting their art for years now inspire and motivate me to blog.

7// I blog because it’s just the most wonderful feeling. Even now as I’m writing this, the music’s playing, and the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard adds to it; just the best time.

8// I blog because it gives me direction. I love creativity and expressing my self anyway I want to; whether it be in words, illustration or photography is amazing. Really it is.

9// I blog because I’m the boss of my own life. Or aiming to be anyway. This little blog in the vast land of the internet is my space to say whatever I want. And I love that.

10// I blog because I interact with so many people. Indirectly or directly. Like you, for instance. Thank you for reading this.

Well, here are some reasons why I blog. I’d write a longer post (which is what this ‘Essay’ series is all about, but now I’ve got a little creative project to dream up for Surely Simple. Blogging is hard work, you know! Especially right at the beginning. I know. Because I’m standing right there.)

I’d love to know why you like to blog. Or would like to start to blog. Or just read blogs. Anything related to blogs, really. Tell me in the comments below!

-Aaria

 

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