There lived a creative tribe.
A family of dreamers and makers named Chan in Singapore. Granddad had apprenticed to a tailor, daddy dreamed up and made amazing lantern designs – ones that could roll on the floor 😍 that he would sell during the mid-autumn festival in Chinatown. Mommy held her own: sewing dresses and kimono-styled nighties for her children, four lively girls, on a Singer treadle sewing machine. She had even sewn her own wedding dress!
The said lively girls were, of course ☺️, my sisters and I. We loved drama, amusing ourselves play-acting and singing in mum’s lovingly made kimono night dresses. And we grew up creative people, loving design and working with our hands – like our parents.
One Busy Sloth, an oxymoron
In her own words, my sister, Jo, “was the laziest person when growing up”. Doing as little as possible, like a sloth. These days, as a mother of two, she could not be more different. Productivity is the rule of the day; she would have ants in her pants if she had to sit around doing nothing 😮. So she is now One Busy Sloth!
The Creative Soul
Like many makers who ventured into starting a small creative business, Jo started out happily dabbling in all kinds of crafts; starting with scrapbooking, card making, then jewellery making. One fine day, Jo found herself staring at her Ikea easy chair and the tired looking cushion cover peered sadly back at her. She decided it was time to learn to sew. It was dad, who taught her how to sew on a sewing machine, on her next visit home. Jo bought her first sewing machine 3 months later, a 2nd hand 1970s Husqvarna. Then she was just unstoppable.
One Busy Sloth: beautiful bags for practical souls was born 3 years later. Jo handcrafts every single item from both her MadeIt store and her Etsy store. From the shopping for fabrics (which she finds terribly addictive!) to the sketching and design of a new range for her brand – that could take weeks or months to tweak, to seeing the finished product: each process brings joy, challenge, and a satisfaction so immense that dear Jo simply cannot put into words.
Community and Joys of the Creative Life
Apart from the joy of handcrafting all her gems from a little studio amongst the gum trees, with the sounds of kookaburra laughing (in a beautiful suburb of Sydney), her business has introduced her to an amazing new world of creative souls out there, some of whom Jo is privileged to call friends. She is now a long time member of the Handmade Cooperative: a collective of like-minded business women working together to celebrate the best in handmade for kids. Last weekend, Jo was delegated to attend the Etsy Captain Summit in Melbourne, a two-day workshop where she was overjoyed to connect and bond with fellow leading Etsy entrepreneurs and administrators as they discussed ways to thrive and grow their businesses together.
“A creative life is an amplified life” as Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear quipped. “It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life … Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”
Sharing this creative, enchanted life with Jo are her wonderful husband, two vivacious kids, and her very grumpy but gorgeous old cat, the Dowager! (Not forgetting the cockatoos and kookaburras too.) I must add here that my family and I have been the happy and grateful recipients of many of her hand-made gifts: from Christmas cookies, cards and jewellery back then, to bags, quilts, purses, and pouches now. Yipee! 😜
Here’s wishing you reader, a great start to the week! I hope you were inspired in some way to live your own creative life too, so what’s your creative outlet? Leave me a comment.