A Fine Design, Blog News, The Business of Making

Free Graphic Design Services from DesignEgg

DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ Design Egg: Good Design for Great Ideas }

I’m excited to announce the launch of an innovative new initiative, for which I am extremely honored to play a small part. Crowdfunded through one of Kickstarter’s most popular design campaigns, DesignEgg is a one-year, traveling program offering free graphic design services to worthy artists, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations in need across the US. Over the next year, $25,000 worth of DesignEgg credits will be awarded! Yeah, $25,000 worth of free graphic design!

the DesignEgg team: Pickle, Andy Wickstrom, and Jess Mott Wickstrom

 { Andy, Jess, and Pickle in their new home for the next 11 months }

This amazing project is the brainchild of Andy Wickstrom and Jess Mott Wickstrom (with help from Pickle, I’m sure). This dream team’s many talents include studio art & photography, curating, arts management, rock-climbing, being all-around amazing individuals, and, of course, expert graphic design skills. Since 2003, Jess and Andy have been working with artists, arts organizations, small businesses, and record labels, including The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, and The Ravi Shankar Foundation/East Meets West Music, to name but a few, and developing a notable portfolio through their graphic design business, Wickstrom Design.

inside the DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ inside the freshly renovated DesignEgg trailer }

I was thrilled when Jess and Andy asked me to be part of the DesignEgg selection committee and quickly humbled when I saw the intimidatingly impressive group of arts, education, and business professionals I would be joining. Luckily, I managed to overcome a brief bout of impostor syndrome and told them that OF COURSE I would join their committee. Who wouldn’t?

interior redesign of the DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ Pickle approves of the scamp re-design }

So my friends, family, and kind readers, if, after learning about DesignEgg, you thought to yourself, “Hey, I could really use some free graphic design services,” then don’t hesitate. Apply now! The application process is pretty simple (just answer a few questions and explain your graphic design needs), and the DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 1.

mountain view from the DesignEgg travels

{ DesignEgg travels through Colorado }

You just can’t help but be inspired by these fine folks! Follow the scamp as Andy, Jess, and Pickle traverse the US in their beautifully renovated trailer — climbing mountains, meeting talented individuals, exploring admirable organizations, and taking breathtaking photos of this great country! Join the DesignEgg newsletter to stay up to date (e.g. application reminders), follow the duo on Instagram/Twitter/their Blog, and help spread the word!

DesignEgg visits Anderson Ranch with Pickle, their pit-bull mix mascot

{ a visit to Anderson Ranch }

beautiful adventures by DesignEgg

{ DesignEgg journeys to Utah }

DesignEgg adventures

{ DesignEgg, 100% cage-free since 2014 }

A Westervin Wedding, Blog News

Three Years Down, Forever To Go

sprinkle donuts for the Westervin's 3rd wedding anniversary

Guess what?! On September 3, we celebrated our third anniversary! This was a pretty exciting anniversary because we realized a new anniversary tradition that we really should have thought of before. Anniversary doughnuts!

bag of fresh doughnut holes for the Westervin's 3rd wedding anniversary

We didn’t have cake at our wedding, we had doughnuts, so of course we should eat some doughnuts every year! How did it take us three years to think of this? Oh well, we still have a lifetime ahead of us, so I guess it’s never too late.

a sprinkle doughnut with candles for the Westervin's 3rd wedding anniversary

This year’s doughnuts came from the Donut Palace here in Fort Smith. We caught them just before they closed and snatched up some tasty sprinkled and glazed doughnuts. The friendly staff there even threw in a free bag of doughnut holes, which we nearly finished off before getting back home…

champagne saucers to celebrate the Westervin's 3rd wedding anniversary

Before heading off to dinner and a movie that evening, we shared a little bubbly.

Westervin Wedding: handmade leather wedding ring bands with arrow design

And, of course, what Westervin anniversary would be complete without some new rings? This year, in reverence to our “leather anniversary“, we picked out a pair of leather rings that keep the arrow motif of our original wedding band set. While a little higher maintenance than metal rings (we have to be very careful not to get them wet), we think they turned out beautifully. They were handmade by Cassandra Silva of Oil Rose Collection. According to Cassandra, the arrow motifs represent friendship and protection.

Sarah was also inspired this year (because she doesn’t always take her own advice about staying motivated in her creative practice) to make a more modern/interesting list of anniversary gift recommendations for us to loosely follow in the future. You can follow along with us!

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West 2013-2014

I’d say our third year of marriage was one of the most interesting ones yet. Sarah finished school, started a business, and we moved to Arkansas! Let’s hope four can compete.

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Summer 2014

If you’ve wondered where Brian and I have been all summer, well, let me tell ya.

Sarah West Ervin graduates from Columbia College Chicago and moves to Arkansas

1. I graduated! In May of 2014, after three long years of evening classes and weekend papers, I donned my billowy gown and square cap to receive my masters hood and my Master of Arts Management degree in Arts Business and Entrepreneurship from Columbia College Chicago.

2. To celebrate, Brian and I spent a nice weekend with his parents and sister and a few of my classmates-turned-best-friends. We laughed. We cried (from laughter). We drank a lot of margaritas!

3. THEN WE PACKED UP OUR LIVES AND MOVED TO ARKANSAS. That’s right, folks. If you haven’t heard, we’re living in Fort Smith now, and we plan to be here for the next two years.

4. Arkansas, the land of fried-foods-a-plenty.

the new Arkansas home of Sarah West Ervin and Brian West

5. We’re living in this beast of a house, which is just a short walk and an evener shorter bike ride from the downtown strip and the Arkansas river. The house belongs to my mother, and Brian and I are doing our best to fix it up for her while she and my little brother live near my grandmother in Louisiana. This will be an adventure.

6. As an historic home—close to 100 years old, I believe—it’s full of old timey charm and interesting quirks. More on that to come…

7. My favorite part? The house is big enough for me to have my very own studio! It’s a dream come true. It’s all a bit of a mess right now as we search for furniture and storage solutions, but I can’t wait to show you the progress.

8. We also love having our own outdoor space, complete with a porch swing and our little herbs. Pictured above are Umberto, the chocolate mint, and Dilly, our sweet baby dill plant.

Sarah West Ervin's new haircut and birthday fun

9. Not long after we got here, I decided to get a haircut. Yup, I had it all chopped off!

10. This is Sugars! We found her on our porch during a rainstorm. She was near death, so we rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, got her some medicine and nursed her back to relative health over a few days. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep her, nor could we find anyone to adopt her. In the end we had to take her to the Humane Society, where they said they’d take good care of her and find her a happy home. It broke my heart to say goodbye to her tiny precious face, but our own two cats (the little rascals) are about all we can handle.

11. I turned 28! My birthday celebrations were just perfect and included many beautiful handmade presents, breakfast in bed, flea market fun, digging in the mud for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, and a picture-perfect picnic. I’m so grateful to everyone who called, texted, visited, and sent happy wishes in the mail!

12. We didn’t find any diamonds, but we did find a lot of mud!

Brian West and Sarah Ervin attend the weddings of Sarah and Patrick Staub; Carolyn Sybesma and Ali Porter

13. We got to travel to Miami for the wedding of Brian’s very nice cousin Patrick and his sweet bride Sara. The guests were warm and friendly, the food was delish, and music was lively. We had a blast!

14. After the wedding, the Wests took a family vacation to Key West. Man, oh man, was it a perfect trip.

15. & 16. A week later, we got to travel back to Chicago to be a part of the wedding of two of our dearest friends, Carolyn & Ali. I even got to be the flower girl! It was so nice to spend time with our besties again in Chicago. I miss you all already!

 

Westervin Handmade Shop Update

17. & 18. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been busy as a bumble bee making some new items for the Westervin shop.

19. & 20. And I’ve been making plans for selling at craft fairs this holiday season. Brian helped me whip up some booth displays.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. Now that our lives have settled down a bit, you’ll be hearing more from us regularly. Stay tuned!

Blog News

Sarah’s Writing for Bustle

Hey guys and gals! Just popping in to share a bit of news. You can now find me over on Bustle.com! I’ve written a few articles for the women’s interest site, sharing my take on red carpet fashion, affordable art, and handmade goods.

Having another opportunity to connect with like-minded women and share my interests these past few weeks has re-invigorated me and challenged my creative skills in new ways. I hope you take a peek at what I’ve created over there and find other diverting entertainment and news from the TONS of talented, smart, witty, and stylish women who write for Bustle.

Sarah West Ervin writes for Bustle

{ screenshot of my profile page on Bustle }

Who Are You Pairing? Kiernan Shipka paired with Tali Yalonetzki

 { from my Who Are You Pairing? article with Kiernan Shipka }

Spring Showers Ethical Shopping Roundup

 { from my spring-inspired ethical product roundup }

 Kerry_Washington_and_Erin_Flannery2

 { from my Who Are You Pairing? article with Kerry Washington }

 

 

A Westervin Wedding, Blog News

Put a Ring on It, Part 2

handmade wedding ring set

You may recall that way back in September we celebrated our second anniversary. However, we forgot to tell you about our rings! Each year we get a new set of rings to celebrate the ever changing married life we lead…and for fun. If you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out our original rings as well as our first anniversary rings.

oxidized silver wedding rings

For our second anniversary Sarah picked out three different rings that go together as a set, two of which are oxidized silver. I have a simple oxidized silver ring that goes along with hers. It’s one big happy ring family!

set of handmade silver wedding bands

Clockwise from Top Left: {Epherielle } { Patrick Irla Jewelry }  { Lady Faye Jewelry }  { ANDYSHOUSE }

 

Blog News, The Business of Making, Westervin Shop

Some Thoughts on Crafting a Business and a Westervin Shop Update

Boy howdy have I been busy lately! You’ve probably heard the news by now: I’ve decided to start a career as a maker. In case, you haven’t noticed, however, I’ve opened the Westervin shop, with a yacht-load of help from Brian. I’m in love, ya’ll. I’m in love with being a maker.

Until now, I haven’t shared much insight into my recent leap into self-employment. If you’re interested, I’m ready to share a little about my motivations, aspirations, and expectations, as well as an update on how the shop has been progressing over the last two months.

New Gold Scissors!

{ My new scissors! Sarah West Ervin on Instagram }

Many of our readers might think of me as a blogger first and foremost. Brian and I have been writing here for over four years now, during which time I’ve mainly focused on finishing graduate school while working full-time in a couple different administrative-type jobs. This left little time for crafting, so instead, I filled this blog with the art- and craft-works of others, which is fun but requires less of an investment.

For many years before Westervin (the blog), however, I would have considered myself mainly a craftsperson. In high school, I didn’t have a regular job. Instead, I made extra cash making clothing, jewelry, and purses and selling them to my classmates. Then in college, I started an online shop—again, with tons-o-help from Brian—selling vintage clothing as well as fine art and crafts, made by myself and other students and local craftspeople. It was pretty successful, too! I even placed 2nd in our school’s business plan competition and got a little interview in the school newspaper (thanks to Rosemary!). But then Brian and I moved to Chicago after graduation, and our little shop fizzled out. It was too difficult to maintain here in the city, without all the free resources we had on campus (free models!) and the lower costs of doing business in Arkansas (MUCH cheaper vintage there). So we put the business aside and decided to focus on getting “real jobs.” Sadly, I also slowly stopped all the creative activities that I felt defined me: sewing, knitting, drawing, photography, making jewelry.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover's Red

{ Crocheted Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover’s Red }

And then one day, not but a few months ago, I had something of an epiphany while sitting quietly by myself at the hair salon, waiting for my color to set, with no phone or magazine to distract me. That epiphany, as you’ve probably guess by now, was realizing what I really want out of my professional life. I need to make things. I need to be creative, I prefer to work for myself, and I have a particular set of skills and experiences—in both art and business—that will help me become a successful full-time maker. It seems obvious now, but it took a few years to accept this idea as a truly viable career path and let go of the stability and comfortable routine of regular, full-time employment. Finally accepting it has been so freeing! I no longer feel like I’m on the outside looking in when blogging about the handmade works of others. I’m also looking forward to handmade exchanges with other makers!

So within a month of my epiphany, I was working at home, refining my crochet skills, and crafting up a line of hats for my debut launch of the Westervin shop.

My first month after opening the Westervin shop was a whirlwind. The timing—just a few weeks before Christmas—couldn’t have been better. I celebrated my first order within a few days, and the sales kept steadily rolling in over the next few weeks. Some customers bought more than one hat, because they seem to make great gifts! And all the amazing press & promotions I received that first month was just a dream! I was featured in the Dallas morning news, and my hats were liked, purchased, and shared by several Etsy admin. And more than a few hats were featured on the Etsy trending pages. Oh my lucky stars! I had to pinch myself.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloth Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream }

But then Christmas came and went and business slowed down. My inventory depleted more quickly than I had anticipated, more quickly than I could recover from, so my shop looked a little dismal for a while. Then I was quickly met with the challenges of the creative process. I struggled for weeks, trying to make new and different pieces, but nothing seemed good enough. The highs of my early success were later balanced by blinding frustration when my creative skills kept falling short of my aesthetic standards. This is something I’m sure many people can relate to.

I also struggled with the inevitable uncertainty and risk that comes from starting any business, let alone a creative one. I know my current business model lacks the potential for long-term sustainability. Different ideas for diversifying my revenue streams (business school, much?) have been percolating in the back of my mind, but I keep searching for a unifying thread to make all my ventures consistent.

All of this is made even more complicated by the sudden life change. It’s not just my daily routine that’s completely shifted but also my identity and goals for the future. I’ve gone from full-time employee and part-time graduate student to maker/business owner/housewife/grad student/blogger. And then there’s the guilt! The guilt of making a huge personal decision that has huge effects on someone else’s life—my husband’s—is a difficult thing to rectify, regardless of how completely supportive and encouraging he is. Actually, his selflessness only makes me feel worse! Geez. I’m terrible at juggling. I still haven’t found the right balance.

Oh, and one other thing. A note to all you hard working, organized, perfectionists out there. You may think that you could maintain your internal motivation and detailed scheduling system if you were to suddenly find yourself working from home or for yourself. I certainly did. But trust me—when you no longer have an office outside your house to go to, when you don’t have a boss near you, when you don’t absolutely NEED to wear pants… You will find yourself tested to your limits. And you might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink }

In the last few days, however, I’ve started to find a little more peace, a little more structure amid the madness. I’ve added a few new items, which you see here, to the shop. My skills are improving, and I’m enjoying the variety in my work. I think my inventory is a little more well-rounded, but I’m still focusing only on crochet for now. I still have a few hats for sale, though I’ve sold almost all the ones from my first batch!

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Stone Necklace in Teal

{ Crocheted Charcoal Gray Stone Necklace in Teal }

Though I still struggle with all the uncertainty and frustration of starting something new, I know that I’ve made the right decision for both myself and my family. If I never tried, than I’d always regret it. And boy am I so much happier now! I feel like myself again–optimistic, creative, independent. I’ve got a big, beautiful vision for the future, so I hope you’ll stick around to watch or even be a part of the journey! In the short-term, Brian and I will be making some updates to the blog, making it and the shop more cohesive in look and content. I think you’ll appreciate the coming changes…

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam }

Oh, and one final note. I’ve received a bit of feedback lately that’s been incredibly reinforcing. The positive reception from my friends, family, readers, and new customers has been overwhelming. Thank you to the moon and back! It’s an addictive high when someone else loves what you create.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloths in Oyster, Cream, and Navy

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Oyster, Cream, and Navy }

I’m so grateful that I’m able to make things with my hands, but the creative process is made a thousand times more rewarding when my creations are loved by others. Here’s a message from a recent satisfied customer:

“Sarah, the hat arrived today, and I wanted to tell you that, “YOU MADE MY HEAD SO HAPPY’.” 99% of the time I love what I buy on Etsy, and 1% of the time I am OUT OF MY MIND WILDLY IN LOVE WITH WHAT SOMEONE MADE FOR ME ON ETSY. The hat is in that 1% spot. I knew it would look nice–I never imagined the texture and colors would surprise and please all my senses in such a big, beautiful way. Thank you so much. You may now consider me a regular customer. Perfectly sweet in the way a woman of any age can feel fun all over!!!” — Carol

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom

{ Crocheted Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom }

Wow. Can we talk about that quote for a minute? So many things! Joyful and sweet and genuine and a little quirky! Now, I know I have a few Westervin readers of the creative variety—craftsters and makers and Etsy shop owners… maybe even a few who are hoping to start selling their work. Tell me what you’re up to! I’d love to know where your creative adventures have taken you, and any advice you can offer this newby maker would be much appreciated.

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Westervin Shop Now Open!!!

peach and gray handmade pompom hat by Westervin

Hello dear readers! We’ve been quiet here lately because we’ve been transitioning through some big changes. I’m no longer working full-time, and I’ve finally decided to embrace my creative, entrepreneurial aspirations. These hands were made for crafting!

After a few (too many) years of school and a short career in business administration/marketing, I’m finally following my crafty fingers to a more fulfilling life as a maker and craft-focused blogger. Leveraging what I know and love, I’ve just launched my shop on Etsy as an extension of our blog, creating crochet accessories and home goods. I hope to soon add other textiles-based goods using embroidery, quilting, and dyeing as I expand my fiber arts repertoire.

Check out the Westervin shop!

AND take advantage of our Cyber Monday Sale: FREE SHIPPING on all orders worldwide placed Monday, December 2. Use coupon code: CYBERSHIP13

mint and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin

teal and maroon pompom hat handmade by Westervin

teal and brown handmade pompom hat by Westervin

Blog News

Two Years Down, Forever To Go

Today is a pretty darn exciting day for the Westervin’s. It’s our two year anniversary! Although two years doesn’t really seem like very much time, and it sure has gone by very quickly, we wanted to take a little look back at what we’ve been up to since our last anniversary. It’s been a great year, and it’s already on to the next one.

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin 1st Anniversary 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin October 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin with Megan Harper, Grace Steinel Jones, and Ben Jones

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin Thanksgiving 2012

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West on a gorilla sculpture at the St. Louis Zoo

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West at Christmas 2012

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin New Year's 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin May 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin at the City Museum in St. Louis

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin all dressed up in June 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin in July 2013

Brian West and Sarah West Ervin in New Orleans in March 2008

Sarah West Ervin and Brian West in Chicago in August 2013

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Blog News, Craft Contexts

Westervin Recently

Screengrab: SarahWest Ervin's Ochi Shop Picks

{ My curated collection for Ochi Shop }

It’s been a grand week! Westervin and I have been featured in a few places around the internets recently, and I thought I’d share these happy mentions. First up, I’ve made a lovely new e-friend in Pauli Ochi, a jewelry designer from Sun Valley, Idaho who runs Ochi Gallery and Ochi Shop. After I discovered her amazing jewelry via Pinterest, Pauli found her way to Westervin then reached out with the friendliest email. In the end, Pauli invited me to guest curate some picks from Ochi Shop and kindly agreed to answer some of my questions for a Maker’s Remarks post here on Westervin. Stay tuned for the interview going live next Monday, but for now, check out my Ochi Shop picks!

Screengrab: Sarah West Ervin Interview with Alistair Porter on Marginalia

{ My interview on Marginalia }

Also this week, my friend and former classmate Ali Porter interviewed me for Marginalia, the graduate student blog at Columbia College Chicago. Check it out to learn a little more about me, my job at Lillstreet Art Center, and my experience as a graduate student in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management MAM program at Columbia.

Screengrab: Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist

{ Westervin mentioned on LoganSquarist }

In other local crafty news, my recap of the recent Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival got a little shout-out on the LoganSquarist, a blog covering our Chicago neighboorhood, Logan Square. They liked some of our pics from our visit!

Screengrab: Westervin featured on Mint Design Blog

{ Westervin mention on Mint }

Now, this final feature isn’t actually from this past week. It’s from last summer, but I only just stumbled upon this nice little surprise. If you’ve been around for a while, you might recall that the save-the-dates Brian and I made for our wedding were included in the book Design: Paper. Well, another person whose work was included in the beautiful book, Ellie Snow, blogged about it and included a snapshot of our save-the-dates. Her blog, Mint, is so lovely and she seems to be a very talented designer, so we’re super flattered to think that she was impressed enough with our handicraft to include a mention in her post. Thanks, Ellie!

Blog News

Keeping Busy

As some of you no doubt know, Sarah has been a pretty busy lady. Not only is she heading into finals week in her grad program, but she also just started a big, new job at Lillstreet Art Center! A lesser person probably couldn’t take it, and though Sarah has recently come down with the flu, she’s pushing on through. Needless to say, with all that work, one doesn’t get to indulge in too many diversions. When you do, you’ve got to make it count. This music video counts.

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