career | predictions of failure

When I have an idea for a blog post, I make a note of it on my phone. Today, out of curiosity, I scrolled all the way to the bottom. There it said:

Fine Arts Speech for new entrants last week: Gave examples of how I am still in the arts field - though I graduated three years prior. So scared that being pregnant means that no one in this field will hire me now. My insistence on working in the arts will fail - but not for lack of trying. 

Here's the thing - that's exactly how it went down. I would love to say that my worries amounted to nothing and that I found my dream job as a curator while seven months pregnant. Instead, from September 2013 to January 2015 I applied for almost 50 jobs. I received two interviews and one part-time position at a gallery I had worked at before, in a role I had done before (lesser actually, than the level I left at). I didn't know if I would ever see the light at the end of this search.

That's awkward for me to write. It makes me feel useless, and unworthy. So let's look at the variables - what was different from before when I was able to find jobs I loved?

I was in a new location.
I was pregnant.
I had a newborn.

That being said, it's not like I was advertising these facts in my cover letter. I wonder sometimes if maybe I wasn't trying that hard because of the latter two. But I was! I was nervous about how I would make it work, but I wanted each of those positions equally, and with gusto.

I've just begun work with an amazing organization called Craft Ontario. They enhance the visibility of contemporary craft for their members and create engaging events that invite the public to explore craft. It's a contract position in which I plan their annual craft show and fundraiser. I could hug them for seeing how capable I am and how perfect this position is for me.

I don't think I'll ever figure out what happened in the last year and a half (career wise, though I'm still trying to figure out babies). Luckily I had my work for Ted Harrison, my paper shop, and a lengthy stint of support from the government. Hopefully this new position leads to new and wonderful things for me - because if I've learned anything during this time at home; it's that having creative projects is an absolute must for me - something else I predicted correctly.


craft | finding space

The style of my current bedroom closet is standard. There is a lot of empty space, then a rod, and a shelf at the top. I fill the empty space with storage containers that have drawers. This allows me to pull out and place in objects with ease (mostly...pretty much...that's the idea anyways). But up on the shelf, where I have to stand on my tippy toes to reach, I pile things.

I stack packs of paper, uncut greeting cards, boxes of stationery seconds, paper bags...and a cashbox, which is forever falling onto my head. This pile of things (all useful and vital), is the bane of my cramped existence. I've never wanted to live in a large home (especially since more room usually equals more stuff - not something I want). However, I do desperately want a studio/workshop/craft space where I can stretch out a bit and put things away in a proper home.

In my dream world this space is above ground, with a large window and lots of natural light. The walls would be white, cupboards would abound, and I would have a large flat-top in the middle of the room for packing, wrapping and creating.

Here's a secret: I love our son, and the nursery we created for him is absolute perfection. But his room would make such a great studio! I'm sometimes very jealous of him and imagine what it would be like if the space belonged to me. The light is always perfect in there. Check-out it:

There may be a three bedroom home for us on the horizon. But in the meantime I am dreaming about this... (all images can be found on my craft room pin board)



photography | iphone baby photos

yesterday my son walked right across the room. it was more steps than i had ever seen him take. i sensed that he was going to do it so i pulled out my phone, put it on video mode and hit record. of the ten steps he took, i recorded a total of one. why? because my phone is so full of photographs (mostly of him!), i didn't have enough memory to take a video.

 i'm actually pretty ruthless as it is about narrowing down an impromptu photoshoot to the best one (i wrote a post about baby photograpy here). but clearly i'm not being quite as cutthroat as i need to be. i know what you're thinking - "why doesn't she just upload the photos to her computer?" well first of all: my computer is ancient and can't take that kind of baby cuteness overload. but also, most of these photos just aren't "the best"...so why am i saving them?

these are some examples of my baby photo streams. i followed my rules:

blurry? delete it
cluttered? delete it
emphatically not cute? delete it (this is a toughie! he's so cute!)

and after that it's just about finding the one. sometimes it's a picture of jack's face, or sometimes it's an image from behind. it's the photo that makes me say "awwwwwwww. perfection."


isavirtue | ordering product internationally

Living as close as I have to the United States is kind of like someone putting a cake in front of you but telling you you're not allowed to eat it. I grew up (and live now) in the Greater Toronto Area - just an hour long car drive to the Niagara border (and not that much farther to New York). For five years, I also lived in Victoria, part of an island in British Columbia that actually dips into the States and is just a short ferry ride to Seattle.

Despite this, when I order something from New York or California, I pay outrageous shipping costs. We are neighbours in theory, but neighbours who charge each other exorbitantly for a cup of sugar. I've only been ordering product in bulk and in wholesale for about a year (though purchasing online for much longer) and I've noticed most american companies offer free shipping to their fellow compatriots.

When I decided I wanted to start selling supplies in the isavirtue shop, I was torn. I have searched far and low in canada for the same type of amazing products I know are available in the states (and for the same great prices!). In some cases I've had luck. But mostly, I want that cake...and I want to eat it too!

Enter the freight forwarder - A company I debated working with for a while. Freight forwarders allow international businesses to order product to their country in a seamless way. They also take 8% of your product value on top of the cost of the product. That's a big hit! I crunched the numbers pretty hard to decide if it was worth it but in the end the upsides won out. A freight forwarder can help you get product or an account with new companies. They'll put in orders for you. Plus they repack everything and try to find one reasonable shipping price for just one delivery!

It was all a bit scary at times and the process has been expensive (with no promise of return!) My freight forwarders were pretty great (overseas operations in california) If it makes sense financially - I hope to use their services again! And in the meantime, I'll keep my eyes peeled for amazing Canadian suppliers :)


isavirtue | rebranding my business


In all honesty, I've never truly thought of my stationery shop as a business. I think of it as a hobby; a creative outlet. A place where I can hawk my goods so that I'm not forcing them on friends and family, or piling them in my closet (well, ok, I'm still piling them in my closet but at least they have the potential of a future home).


For about a year now I've been playing with the possibility of selling gift, stationery and snail mail supplies. I talked to a friend about opening a separate shop like that together - but unlike me she has a full time job and cherishes the lack of pressure in her spare time (i thrive on pressure!). So I put the idea on the back burner until last fall. I decided that, although I love creating things, I don't feel as though I am giving enough time to my baby throughout the day. Let's put it this way, he already knows the meaning of "independent play."

With a supply shop, most of the work is in the beginning. Once the goods are ordered, the accounts and shipping navigated, the products wrapped and listed...all I have to do is work with customers, ship out, and order more in. I'll add products of course, and try new things - but hopefully this type of set up will allow me to have more time for my son and a "real" job, in addition to feeding my creative, entrepreneurial side.

I am still going to stamp and emboss envelopes, writing paper and greeting cards. For the envelopes though, I'll be decorating pre-mades (did you know it takes me an hour to make only 5-10 envelopes by hand?). I love designing text and making an otherwise blank product unique so I'll punch up my supply shop with those items. I'm completely phasing out images that aren't my own design however.


Oh right! The best part! As of now I plan to sell goody bags, doilies, engraved pencils, tissue paper, gift wrap, labels, envelopes, shipping tags, rubber stamps, washi tape and baker's twine. oh my! all in the most beautiful hues and metallic.


This is the first creative project I haven't planned and executed within a frighteningly short amount of time. Everything has been in the works for months and months (a lot of that has to do with a new branding design! More on that later). I usually dive head first into projects - often creating personal crafts or commercial products in just days or weeks. You know, like that time I read a blog post about how to make a wall weaving and two days later I had constructed a loom, purchased extra yarn and completed my first one.

I'm excited to talk more about the process of this venture. I always struggle to be more forthcoming because I'm afraid it will ruin that big "ta da" moment. But some of my favourite creators and entrepreneurs discuss what happens behind the scenes. So stay tuned!


mail | send a letter "i just know you can do it"

january 8 to 14 is international letter writing week - so today is the last day! but don't worry, there is one more writing prompt for you.

today, write a letter to someone who could use some encouragement. my brother just got a new job - and although i'm sure he's totally not nervous at all, i'm going to mail him a little note of encouragement that sums up today's theme: "i just know you can do it." follow me on instagram to see the mail before it's posted.

today is the last day to get my stationery at 25% off - just use the coupon code LETTERLOVER. happy international letter writing week!


mail | send a letter "via air mail par avion"

january 8 to 14 is international letter writing week! every day i'm posting prompts here (which really, could be used, any day, year round). today's prompt is "via air mail, par avion." it's a term used on air mail stickers that includes both french and english (that's not just a canadian thing is it?).

try writing to someone who lives very far away. i mean, you could technically write someone in your own country a letter and it might travel by air - but bonus points if your recipient is on another continent.

i actually have two friends that live in england. strangely enough they both have the same name (i always found that to be a funny coincidence!). i'll write to one of them today - my old roommate from university. follow me on instagram to see my mail pieces before i send them out!

and don't forget - all stationery is 25% off until january 14th with the coupon code LETTERLOVER.


mail | send a letter "hello (i just wanted to say hi)"

january 8 to 14 is international letter writing week. this means taking the time to write and post some happy mail!

today's theme is "hello, i just wanted to say hi." pick someone who might not expect a random hello from you in the mail. the goal is to have them feeling delighted and surprised!

i am going to write to an old university roommate who is just coming home from a long trip away. she's sort of a migrating bird right now and doesn't have a solid address so i'll send it to her father's house and hope that it makes its way to her. i imagine it will be a nice surprise to come home to. follow me on instagram to see my mail pieces.

everything in the stationery shop is 25% off until january 14 with the coupon code LETTERLOVER. enjoy!


mail | send "i appreciate you/that thing you did"

january 8 to 14 is international letter writing week. but wait! it gets better! today is international thank-you day! some of my favourite letters to write and mail are thank-you notes. because if there is anything better than receiving a letter, it's receiving one that sings your praises.

since moving back to ontario i have been in a constant state of appreciation. having a baby really brings out the generosity in others. this is perfect during a time when you are taking care of another human being and you have nothing left to give yourself. while i just finished a series of thank-you notes to those family members who gave jack a christmas gift, i am going to send one more to one of his new caretakers. follow me on instagram to see my mail.

here is a post i wrote on how to write a thank-you note. it really covers everything! and here is another article about thank-you notes to bring the point home. if you are looking for some nice stationery to keep on hand, everything in my shop is 25% off until the January 14 with the coupon code LETTERLOVER.


mail | send a letter "tmi too much information"

january 8 - 14 is international letter writing week. today's letter writing prompt is: "tmi too much information." write a letter to that person that you can tell anything too!

some of my favourite letters are rambling "stream of consciousness" diatribes from my closest friends. i'm going to write a letter to my best friend who just had a baby. i'll admit i'm hoping for a TMI letter in return about her entrance into motherhood!

find TMI and other acronym products in the shop for 25% off this week with the coupon code LETTERLOVER.