March 2015 | The Yellow Spectacles

Dogs and Doodles: Jo Chambers: Pet Illustrator

March 23, 2015

Jo Chambers
Meet Jo Chambers--she is a posh pet illustrator from across the pond--Oxford, England to be exact on the map. This talented Brit is all over social media. Her Instagram page alone is flooded with followers who get a daily does of her pet portraits dressed in vintage clothing. 

Aside from her queen social media status, Chamber's is so successful, she is able to make a living off her Etsy Shop, under the name, Studio Legohead. This is where she sells her textile patterns, dog/cat portraits, and flower power prints. She also takes custom orders too. 

Chamber's pet doodles are different than you'd expect--she puts a fairy tale spin on her creations by making her subjects styled in vintage garments. This usually consist of a scarf, hat or flower collar embellishment making her finished sketches look like one-of-a-kind whimsical master pieces. 

The Yellow Spectacles has featured illustrators before, but never one who merely focuses on animals and flowers. Here is what Jo Chambers has to say about art, animals, success, and the future:

The Yellow Spectacles:Can you tell me a little why you draw pet portraits? What's the motivation behind it?

Jo Chambers: I started drawing canines and felines while having a creative block after finishing my MA in Textiles. I'd always been more floral based, but one day I saw a dog in a hat and loved the character it had. I began drawing and before I knew it I had a whole sketchbook full.These then translated into embroidery and I had an exhibition "Best In Show' which was embroidered dog portraits, sashes and trophies.

TYS: Tell me about owning/operating an Etsy Shop? 

JC: I love having an Etsy shop, it's what got my business to grow in the beginning. I had a range of greeting cards that's main subject was dogs in vintage clothing. I began e-mailing blogs and websites that I thought might like my work and it snowballed from there. I've had so many nice features that have led to sales and further work. I think it's always important to have nice photographs of your products, always reply to customers quickly and always be a nice person to work with.
@studiolegohead on Twiter

TYS: Are drawing pets and designing textiles your full-time gig?

JC: This is my main job, but I also teach at a university on the Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors. I studied a combined course of Art and Textiles at university, so I love being able to work in that environment. It's always full of surprises and so nice to see others doing what they enjoy.

"Being a freelance illustrator/textile artist it means you have to love what you do, as you are your own boss. Generating sales, commissions, creating new work etc. It never gets boring, and I really like that no day is the same" -Jo Chambers. 

TYS: Who are your primary clients?

JC: My main clients are dog lovers and flower lovers. Anyone that loves color and pattern and has a sense of humor. I don't like taking myself too serious and always want there to be an element of fun to my work. I think that is what draws people to it. That and they are bonkers about their four legged friends

TYS: Do you have a favorite portrait?

JC: I think my favorite portrait is still one of my early ones, Pooch In Pucci. It's the main image on my website and shows a dachshund wearing a Pucci headscarf. So it shows both my love of canines and pattern.

TYS: Are you planning anything new for your art and business?

JC: I will be releasing more fabrics and patterns based on my florals and canines as well as a few products, but I need to keep them under wraps for now.

TYS: Deep quesion: Dogs or Cats?

JC: Well, I love both, but I always used to be a cat person as there were more in my life growing up. But, I would so like to have a dog in my life now, the more I draw them, the more I love the characters and different shapes and sizes they come in. 

I think it is safe to say--dog or cat person--Chamber's designs are the cat's meow. #Woof

Erin & Allie: A.K.A NorthEast Nutmeg

March 2, 2015

Whether you're relaxing in the bathtub, enjoying an evening dinner, or chatting with your gal pal across the table odds are that there's a candle illuminating your thoughts, feelings, and spirits. No matter the event--big or small a candle is needed to set the mood.

Think about it. There's romantic occasions, festive celebrations, vigilant ceremonies, holidays,calls to worship, birthdays--even the few cherished seconds to ourselves we feel the need to strike a match & light a candle.

Not only is there a daily reason to light a candle, but there is a scent for each too. Meet Erin & Allie--or by their Etsy page--"Two local nutmeggers." Erin & Allie are both owners of the Connecticut based handmade, soy candle business called, NorthEast Nutmeg. This start-up candle business is on fire (excuse the pun) as they continue to grow, make, and sell their 100% soy based products locally supporting their hometown and local jobs.

Photo Cred: Northeastnutmeg IG

You'd be surprised to learn that making and selling their 'fly-off-the-shelves' creations isn't a full-time job. No, Allie is going back to school to become a K-12 science teacher and Erin works as an embryonic stem cell biologist with a focus in neurobiology --both women hold Master Degrees in  BioMolecular Science.

So these gals are indeed both smart and creative--how'd they get into the candle business? Erin was able to sit down with the Yellow Spectacles to explain it all.

These two nutmeggers got their start in November of 2014--and it was by mistake. Erin explains, saying,

"Allie and I have been BFFs for a while and near every week we'd have Pinterest parties on Saturdays. We shared a pin board, pinned crafts we wanted to do, picked the craft that interested us both, and then picked out a recipe to try out at the next party" She continues the story, explaining, "We have made candles together before...We started to make them as Christmas gifts for family and friends, but quickly realized it was something that people might want to actually purchase. We started our Etsy page that weekend!"

Really, the candle start-up's success has been quick out of the gate with their popular scents like Birthday Cake, Unicorn Farts, and Muffin Top to (namedrop a few). You and I may know of NorthEast Nutmeg through Etsy--however, that is not the only place where these ladies sell their goods. Erin explains,

"While Etsy is a great resource it is not the bread and butter of our business. Connecticut is FANTASTIC state for small businesses...our products are featured in 5 different Connecticut businesses and we hope to expand on that over the next year. "

Okay, so you got the gist of what makes these candles standout from others, but we have the skinny on some candle q & a's that you'd love to know.

The Yellow Spectacles:What is your most unique candle scent?

Erin: Unicorn Farts. It's a cotton candy scent-so its not for everyone. We feel like the name and look really sell this candle. It's exclusive to one business in Connecticut--a small bakery called, Get Baked! We do have plans in the works to get it in our Etsy site very soon. So everyone can enjoy it!

TYS:  Easter and Mother's Day is nearing. What do you recommend people fill their gift baskets with?

Erin: We have new scented tea light sampler packs and wax melts that we think are PERFECT for gift baskets. Grab a cute tart warmer or a tea light holder. Also, skip the bottle of wine for a hostess gift--grab a 12 oz candle instead!

TYS: Advice that you may have for beginning entrepreneurs?

Erin: Our No. 1 piece of advice is to network locally. Get in with the movers, growers, and shakers in your area! Barter with people who are good at things you are just ok at and help each other out. Other small business like ourselves have been instrumental in our growth.

TYS: What's next for NorthEast Nutmeg?

Erin: GROWTH. We hope to even be able to create a job for someone in Connecticut  to help us with popup markets and shows! To be able to give back to a state that has done so much for us would be wonderful!

No matter--goods things (and scents) are sure to be on the horizon for these two crafty nutmeggers and their side business, NorthEast Nutmeg. We all can't wait.

Follow the sweet smells of Northeast Nutmeg on Instagram too.


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