Swell Made Co. | Modern Paper Goods, Home Decor and Gifts

Keep it Simple, but Significant

4 Swell Years + 4 Things I've Learned

Small Business, EntrepreneurLesley PocklingtonComment
swell-made-co-birthday-cake.jpg

It’s been 4 years since Swell Made Co. was “born” and I am so happy to be celebrating with all of you. Thank you for your continued support of this little passion project turned small business. Thank you for buying small, following along and sharing with friends. Thank you for words of encouragement and inspiration. I am so proud of what Swell Made Co. has become in 4 years and I am eternally optimistic (and grateful) for what the future holds.

Today, I am celebrating with family and friends and YOU, of course. The best part, there’s CAKE. The cake shown above was created from scratch just for Swell Made Co.’s birthday by my talented friend, Natalie Raponi of HeckYes. So, as we celebrate, I am looking back on the past 4 years and want to share the top 4 things (there are SO many more than 4) that I have learned so far about running a small business. Take them for what you will, because in the end you are designing your very own life and businesses (or projects, careers, families, adventures, etc.).

I could also tell you what NOT to do, and perhaps that’s a future post. Such as, get on the ‘gram before you launch, don’t launch a business a few weeks before the holiday season, don’t receive shipments of merchandise at your home office to be left on your porch (and free for the taking). Oh, I could go on after learning the hard way, but that’s just part of the ride. I’m still holding on and enjoying every minute.


what i’ve learned after 4 years in business

  1. Work at Your OWN Pace
    When building a business, go at your own pace. Whether that’s fast or slow, it’s up to you. There’s no shame in only taking on what you can handle, because this is not a race. It’s real life. I started Swell Made Co. as a side hustle, with 2 kids under 3 and all the regular stresses of life. To keep it real and sustainable, I had to start slow and constantly adjust and iterate as time went on. And that’s okay. I still operate from slow to full hustle, depending on what life throws my way.

    This approach doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s been a guiding principal for my business since day one. Sure, you’ll see other businesses fly past you (sometimes out of the gate); but it doesn’t matter because you got into this for YOU. Not them. Don’t ever forget that.

  2. Get Help and Build a Team
    When you first start a business on your own or even with a partner, you’re going to be bootstrapping it in ways you never imagined. Over time, though, you’ll start build a team that will help see you through the swells of business life. While, I’m not specifically suggesting you hire a full staff (unless that’s what your business needs) — you should build a team, tribe or community that will guide you.

    This includes bookkeepers, virtual assistants, writers, photographers, suppliers and manufacturers, accountants, collaborators, designers, and so many more. There is a community of like-minded entrepreneurs out there who are experts in their fields and ready to serve you, just like you serve your own clients and customers. Work together to build each other up, because when you’re ready; you won’t be able to go it alone anymore and that’s a good thing.

    You’ve grown leaps and bounds, so choose (wisely and thoughtfully) the help you need to get to your next goal. If you can work directly with a mentor, even better. Mentors will help see your business in a whole new light.


    At some point (whether you’re starting or expanding), you’re going to need financial help too. Help also comes in the form of grants and loans to help you scale your business. Seek them out in your own city, networks and country. Grants are designed to help entrepreneurs thrive, because when you succeed, so do those around you. This past year, I completed the Starter Company Plus grant program to expand my business. This program is funded by the Ontario Government and is available in various cities across the province. The experience alone was invaluable with guidance from business advisors, mentorship, a new community of businesses, new perspective and focus and of course, funding (the icing on the cake - yum).

    There are programs for investing in employees, mentorship, accelerator style, operating a business with a positive environmental or social impact, industry specific (hospitality, medical, fashion, retail), etc. The list goes on and on. Don’t overlook these resources when starting or growing your business.

    Here are a few more. Some are for women in business in particular:

    Pitch for the Purse - Pitch your business for $25K to finance your business.
    Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards - A global funding program for women entrepreneurs.
    #Angels - A group of women that act as angel investors for women in tech.
    Women Entrepreneurship Strategy - A program from the Federal Government.
    Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant - Funding for women-owned businesses.
    Futurepreneur - Canada-wide mentorship and business funding.
    Community Futures - Canada-wide grants and loans for business operating in smaller communities.
    Bon Temps - $1K in funding for demonstrating #timewellspent. What are you passionate about?

    Our friends at Mamas & Co. recently wrote about this as well. Give it a read.

  3. Alright Stop, Collaborate and Listen
    Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. It’s another way of building your communities and tribes together and developing some of the most rewarding (and fun!) projects you’ll work on. Working together fosters the recipe for success — community over competition.

    When you’re solely focused on the day-to-day operations of your own business, it’s easy to become shortsighted. When you collaborate with others, you’ll be inspired, learn from each other and solve problems together in a whole new way. You’ll see your own business differently and that’s also a good thing.

    Over the past 4 years, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on some fun projects and they have been some of my favourite moments of running a business. I look forward to more in the years ahead.

  4. Hustle, Rest, Repeat
    Yes, running a business is hard. Probably a lot harder than you thought it would be, because you never truly turn off; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s crucial, actually. Hustle, rest, repeat.

    Invest in your body and mind like you would for your business, because without caring for yourself, you’ll burnout. Or worse, get sick. And that’s bad for business. Trust me. This year, I have been dealt a few lemons when it comes to health and it’s motivated me to be healthier than ever (I thought I WAS healthy), so I can continue to be my best self when it comes to family (above all), personal growth and my business.

    Just like you would with your business, fiercely carve out time for YOU. Find new ways to make your body and mind run optimally and don’t feel bad about it for a second. Just as you design your life and business, be sure that designing a way to stay healthy is top priority too. Whatever that looks like for you, advocate for yourself always. There will be unforeseen things you can’t control, but there are a lot of things you can (diet, exercise and sleep). Learn from experts around you and build a healthier future for yourself and your family.

That’s it! Here’s to another swell year with you by my side. Thank you for being here. If you have anything you’d like to share about running a business, I would LOVE to hear it. Please share!

How To | No Carve Pumpkin Round Up

DIY, Round Up, HolidayLesley Pocklington3 Comments
  No carve pumpkin round up by Swell Made Co.

No carve pumpkin round up by Swell Made Co.

Whoah, what?! Halloween is next week. Cue the blood curdling screams because I need to get it together before October 31. Are you a procrastinator, or do you have everything ready to go? To keep things simple (because that’s kind of our thing), I have rounded up my favourite no carve pumpkins. They’re minimalist, so they might appeal more to the adult crowd; but that’s okay. They’re easy and who says big kids can’t have fun too?

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll remember the first pumpkin (shown above) was one we created back in 2015. If you like, head to that post to you’ll find everything you need to create a black and gold six letter sentiment pumpkin. Boo, boo! The following pumpkins come from a few of our favourite blogs and they can be found on Pinterest as well.

  DIY Cute Faced Mini Pumpkins by    HomeyOhMy

DIY Cute Faced Mini Pumpkins by HomeyOhMy

This sweet little DIY from HomeyOhMy is perfect for adding some cute Halloween (or fall, Thanksgiving) decor to your home. All you need is a Sharpie and some eucalyptus. You don’t even have to paint the pumpkins! Just buy white ones. Cute faces. Scary faces. You decide!

  DIY Brushstroke Pumpkin by    The Merry Thought

DIY Brushstroke Pumpkin by The Merry Thought

This stylish by The Merry Thought DIY just requires craft pumpkins (or real), and some acrylic paint. Start with a flat colour and then add brushstrokes in a contrasting colour. Voila! Simple and beautiful.

  DIY Paint Splattered Pumpkins by    HomeyOhMy

DIY Paint Splattered Pumpkins by HomeyOhMy

Another great DIY from HomeyOhMy and one that could be combined with the DIY above (similar steps and complementary styles) are the paint splattered pumpkins. Start with a base coat on craft (or real) pumpkins and then splatter with a contrasting colour. So chic and so simple.

  Terrazzo Pumpkin DIY by    JoJoTastic

Terrazzo Pumpkin DIY by JoJoTastic

Finally (any my favourite), is this terrazzo pumpkin by JoJoTastic. Okay! It’s not technically “no carve”, but it can be. If you skip the carving portion of this DIY, it would still be beautiful; but maybe just a less magical than the one shown above. Either way, this pumpkin play with one of our all-time favourite decor trends that’s still going strong.

That’s it! Now that you’re inspired, grab some wine (and candy) and start painting those pumpkins. Happy Halloween, swell friends.

Do Good | International Day of the Girl

Do GoodLesley Pocklington2 Comments
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October 11 marks the International Day of the Girl. Declared by the UN in 2012, this day celebrates girls around the world in an effort to create an equitable future. While progress continues to be made every year, we still have MUCH work to do for our girls. In light of the current events, it feels more important and urgent than ever to advocate for girls who will become tomorrow’s future leaders and change-makers.

At Swell Made Co. we celebrate girls everyday with 5% of our sales going to Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl project. Thank you for supporting this cause when you make a purchase. As a mother of a daughter and son, this issue is close to my heart. This year on October 11, Swell Made Co. will be donating 100% of our sales to this cause*.


The Reality for girls

Globally, girls face double discrimination because of their age and gender. In many parts of the world they face challenges, such as:

  • Barriers to education and opportunities to make a living. 130 million girls between ages 6-17 are not in school.

  • Early and forced marriage. An average of 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year.

  • 16 million girls aged 15-19 will give birth each year. 2 million girls under age 15 will become pregnant every year. Many of these girls will die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

  • Violence. Every 10 minutes a girl loses her life to violence.

  • Poverty. Globally, millions of 1.1 billion girls worldwide face poverty on a daily basis and throughout their lives.

These issues require specific, urgent and consistent attention. By making progress in these areas, girls will have the tools to create a better life for themselves and to help lift entire nations out of poverty. Here’s why*:

  • For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 15 to 25%.

  • A woman who is educated will marry later and have fewer, healthier children.

  • Women invest more of their income in their families than men do.

Globally, girls have too few women to look up to in positions of leadership. In Canada, for example, only 15% of CEO positions are held by women. Female leaders represent fewer than 10% of the UN’s 193-member states. This must change.

How You Can Help

  1. Get involved with (or donate/sponsor) organizations with projects dedicated to supporting girls. In Canada, Plan Canada’s Because I am Girl project has tremendous support from the Federal government and people, like you. With a variety of global programs to address these specific challenges, 82% of donations goes directly to supporting programs benefiting children and families. The remaining 18% provides administration, operating and fundraising costs.

    Other organizations include the Malala Fund, Girls Not Brides, The Period Purse, She’s the First, Day of the Girl and many more. These organizations take on single or many specific issues including child marriage, menstrual health, sexual harassment, gender based violence and education. Choose a cause that’s important to you and act. Next, share that cause and become an advocate.

  2. Join the conversation and spread the word about girls issues. This year, Plan Canada is challenging the global community to #DefyNormal. Rather than accepting the challenges girls face as “normal”, they’re asking for us to step and defy the status quo. Talk about these issues with your family, friends, and community. How can we support girls today (and always)?

  3. Support girls in your own communities. Today, and everyday, remind girls that they're powerful, they matter, and they're a critical part of our future. Work together to put those words into action, because it's up to us to create a better world for all girls.

If you would like to help our world’s girls reach their full potential, you can challenge yourself to #DenyNormal and donate to Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl project today on the #DayofTheGirl.

Statistics from Plan Canada and the World Bank.
*Sorry! Excludes wholesale orders.


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Confessions of an Entrepreneur | How to Support Small Business

Confessions, Entrepreneur, Small BusinessLesley Pocklington2 Comments
  Confessions of an Entrepreneur | How to Support Small Business + Why It’s SO Important

Confessions of an Entrepreneur | How to Support Small Business + Why It’s SO Important

With the busy retail season fast approaching, it’s a good time to stress and confess why it’s SO important to support small business while sharing easy ways we can all become advocates. I confess, I am a small business advocate (and owner) and proud of it.

Small business helps local communities and families thrive. Money spent within our own neighbourhoods and cities impacts local economies, giving more people the opportunity to succeed over a few at the top. I don’t want to sound naive, big business has its place in our communities as well. I’ve worked for some in my past life and my husband works for one too. They too, provide local jobs and impact communities in positive ways by giving back. When it comes to buying from big companies; we as consumers need to seek (if not, demand) those that offer sustainable practices and equitable working conditions. In 2018, it’s expected.

Back to small business. Small businesses allow people to follow their dreams while creating choice and diversity for their customers. Small businesses thrive on offering niche products in small batches, and taking risks that big companies just can’t. You could say, growth and innovation is their jam. Small businesses provide their communities with unique local identities and character, and often establish these communities as destinations. This social impact is invaluable as businesses operate as partners and collaborators to support success and positive change. Small businesses are often the first to step up and give back or provide mentorship in their communities.

Most importantly, you know who you’re buying from when you support a small business. That personal touch probably keeps you coming back, right? It’s a better customer experience overall. Small businesses truly value every single customer. You can provide instant feedback and they can adapt to your needs. Plus, it feels good to know a small business owner is able to continue their dream, provide for their families and give back to their communities. Thanks to your support. Here are some ways you can support small business too. The fact that you’re here reading this, already says a lot about you.


1. When Shopping, Think Small First

When you’re in need of something (pretty much anything), think small first. Of course, we all need to shop at big stores too; but before you head out the door (or online) to check items off your list, think about where you can find those items from a small business. For instance, if I need new shoes, I head to my local (and awesome) shoe shop first. I know the shop owner has badass style, is a local change-maker and has a young family at home. It’s a no brainer. I get a fabulous pair of shoes, she gets a sale and a loyal customer. Win, win.

The same goes for gifts, flowers, stationery, baked goods, wellness goods, jewelry, books, home decor, furniture, clothing. Really, I could go on and on. You get the picture. All of these types of business (whether brick and mortar or online) proudly offer you one of a kind products and work hard to to operate sustainable practices.

Are in you in the market for a service? Same thing goes. Service based small businesses thrive on local support too. Experts in their fields, they’re going to give you the one on one service you deserve.

2. Head to Your Local Cafes

I’m feeling pretty great about those new shoes (as mentioned above). I am going to celebrate with a coffee. A simple pleasure. I’ll skip a trip to the large coffee chain and walk around the corner to my local coffee shop. Coffee shops, cafes and restaurants are wonderful places to support local, meet your neighbours (including the owners) and enjoy goods that are lovingly made by hand. Plus, you can soak up the ambiance and unique personality that each coffee shop offers. These are our community gathering places. Support them and meet a friend face to face. It feels good.

3. Support Your Local Markets

One of the most grassroots ways to support small business, is by visiting your local markets. Fresh products are abundant and diverse, it’s a nice way to spend your day, and it’s easy to work into your regular routine. You always need fresh food and goodies, and local always tastes better (and it’s better for you). That goes for wine too.

4. Spread the Word

If you love a small business or brand, spread the word. A lot of small businesses and services rely on word of mouth. So, tell everyone you know or write a glowing review. As a small business owner myself, hearing your feedback still makes my heart skip a beat.

If you get social online, snap a photo on Instagram or Facebook and tag your favourite businesses. Spreading the love is one of the best ways to support your local businesses. Even if you can’t buy from a local business, supporting them through your comments, likes and shares is encouraging. For small businesses, it’s the little things that have a big impact.

5. Be a Small Business Advocate

Did you learn something by reading this post today? Or, maybe you have some ideas to share too. Please do! Share everything you know about supporting small business with your friends, family and community. Encourage people to become small business advocates, just like you. We are better together when it comes to creating change in our communities.

Thanks for reading and for supporting small businesses, like Swell Made Co. Your support of businesses like my own, is truly life-changing and for that I am forever grateful. As Swell Made Co. approaches its 4th year in business, I am so happy to continue living this dream come true (with hard work, of course). This comes direct from my entrepreneurial heart, but also from our suppliers, shop owners (stockists) and collaborators as well. We take so much pride in working with and being inspired by this community of small business.

The future is local. Thank YOU for being a part of it!


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Love It | Mystical Moons

Love ItLesley PocklingtonComment
  Love It | Mystical Moons by Swell Made Co.

Love It | Mystical Moons by Swell Made Co.

September 22 brings the Fall Equinox and September 24/25 brings the rise of the full Harvest Moon. In celebration of the change in seasons we’re declaring that we’ll never be over the moon (see what we did there?). Of course, we’re over the moon for moons and always have been. Remember this Moon Phase LOVE IT list? We the love moon so much, we even have a collection dedicated to it.

So, what do all of these lunar changes have in store? The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of shorter days until Winter Solstice in December. With less sunlight, we’ll start to see the true signs of autumn in Canada with vibrantly hued leaves and cooler temperatures. And what about the Harvest Moon? This year it will appear to be orange as it shines bright (although it’s not really orange). The Harvest Moon is a reminder to do just what the name states. Harvest all that this bountiful season offers (cheers from the pumpkin and apple lovers). As the chaos of summer and new routines dissipates, the Harvest Moon gives you the opportunity to relax, slow down and reflect. Depending on your sign, that may be easier said then done ;) Enjoy autumn, swell friends.


Here are a few of our favourite ways to bring moons into your space to help you celebrate lunar abundance year-round:

  1. Moon Phases (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Our best-selling art comes in rich black or crisp white with gold foil moon phases to remind of you of the night sky throughout the year.

  2. Cypress Body Oil by Smoke Artisan Perfume Co. Notes of green cypress leaves and woody mix with bright notes of lavender, clary sage, and bergamot to deliver a nourishing body oil to remind you of the outdoors.

  3. Lunar Curve earrings by One Story. Handmade brass earrings with gold plated, nickel free earring posts. These curves remind us of a crescent moons.

  4. Confetti Candle from Buk & Nola by Paddywax. Confetti or night sky? You decide. Brighten your home with this art-inspired, porcelain votive with metallic accents. Available in multiple fragrances and colours, but we love the simplicity of black.

  5. Inquire Within Deck by Worthwhile Paper. New from Worthwhile paper, we are swooning over this mystical deck that reminds of you of the magic you already possess. Each card is a meaningful phrase, reminder, word or prompt to help bring guidance and comfort to everyday life. Self healing requires a willingness to explore deeply, to ask yourself questions – to inquire within.

  6. Moons Canvas Pouch by Swell Made Co. A canvas pouch that is made for anything (cosmetics, school supplies, devices or lingerie), but coveted by the moon lover. Made in Canada.

  7. Crescent Moon Mirror from Urban Outfitters. Add a little lunar luxe to any space with this crescent moon mirror. Perfect as a functional decor piece in a living room or bedroom. Available in gold and silver.

  8. Half Moon Raffia Coasters from Leif Shop. Made using all natural, local materials, this coaster set is woven by hand using raffia, which is then naturally dyed and woven by local women artisans in Uganda.

  9. Love by the Moon (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Available in rich black or crisp white with gold foil to create a dreamy space.


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Crystals for Beginners

Inspiration, Collaborations, How ToLesley Pocklington1 Comment
  Crystals for Beginners by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration.

Crystals for Beginners by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration.

For many, fall brings a sense of routine and ritual that we happily let go of (even if just a little) during the summer months. As seasons change, I am embracing a new ritual that I have always been curious about. Crystals. I'll be honest, I have been mystified by crystals, gems and stones since childhood; but was equally confused and dubious. Until I discovered the magic of stones and their innate abilities to heal through Breathing Inspiration. I'm still navigating this simple, but complex world so I've paired up with friend and collaborator, Abby Rozen of Breathing Inspiration to break it down for us beginners. Whether you believe crystals are powerful, or not; you can't deny their beauty. And they're fun. So, come on a mystical journey with Abby and I. 

Abby Rozen is the creator behind Breathing Inspiration. Her line of meditation bracelets are made with healing crystals. Abby is an certified crystal master, potter, and psychotherapist. She worked with stones for many years, finding herself drawn to their energy. After discovering and learning about the significance behind each stone, and seeing the value that intention setting through stones brought to her life, Abby started Breathing Inspiration. You can see our collaborative bracelet here


  Healing crystal bracelets by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration. With black tourmaline and howlite stones.

Healing crystal bracelets by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration. With black tourmaline and howlite stones.

How Healing Crystals Work

Similar to other forms of holistic healing, crystals manifest their energy, through subtle, but deep and long term magic. Just like other healthy habits (meditation, exercise, eating well and taking vitamins), you might not notice and instant transformation; but over time you will notice a shift. When working with crystals it's important to keep your heart and mind open, set intentions and observe what manifests within (and around) you.

Through their unique vibration, colour and talisman (the magic) each stone brings its own beautiful energy and physical appearance. Each stone holds and transmits energy differently by vibration, which is determined by symmetrical crystal latices. While, our bodies respond deeply on a metaphysical level to colours. Our chakra is activated by specific colours. 

How to Use Stones in Your Life

Bringing crystals into your daily life can be as simple as having them as decor in your home, to more complex rituals. You can where them as jewelry, sleep with them under your pillow, soak with them in your bath or carry them in your pocket. It's really up to you. Working with crystals (like other forms of self-help) is meant to support you in becoming the clearest, inspired and grounded version of yourself. Your crystals will guide you and determine what's right for you.

When choosing stones, many let their intuition and hearts guide them to those that feel right for them in that moment. Often, there will be a connection between the power held in the stones and energy one is seeking or in need of. The power of the stones, combined with your intentions will bring the right energy into your life.  

If you're just starting a collection of crystals, these are a great start and you can add new stones that you are drawn to as you continue your practice. 

Rose Quartz - The Lover

Rosy pink in colour, this crystal is all about love, love, love. One of the most nurturing crystals, it opens our hearts to compassion, forgiveness, attracts new love, heals heartbreak and most importantly, encourages self love. We could all use more love, and this heavyweight crystal strengthens love in all its forms. 

Clear Quartz - The Healer

Clear quartz can be found all over the world and, as a matter of fact, in many of the modern things you own like clocks and electronics. This crystal is a master healer and connector making it "easy" to put it to work for you. It's a tireless, flexible and and powerful guide. Plus, it works so hard it will amplify the other crystals in your collection. 

Citrine - The opitmist

If sunshine were a crystal, it would be citrine. Did you know citrine is actually amethyst that was treated at a high temperature to give it its sunny colour? Natural citrine exists, but is very rare. If you have a dream, goal or even a to-do list, this stone will help you bring them to life and follow through. Perfect for workspaces or wherever you create, citrine will help keep creative ideas flow brightly and abundantly. 

Amethyst - The Protector

One of the most revered crystals in history and today, amethyst is the protector crystal. A stone of transformation and enlightenment, it's talisman reminds us to treat our bodies well and disconnect from unhealthy attachments (and even negative or addictive patterns). It protects people and spaces, making it a perfect choice for home with its ability to promote connection and communication. 

Black Tourmaline - The Grounder

Black tourmaline is an energy heavyweight and powerful in its ability to keep you grounded. You could say it likes to keep it real. Physical reality that is. An essential part of any crystal collection, black tourmaline works to protect your personal boundaries and ward off negative energy.

We hope you beginners loved learning about crystals! Are you excited to start your collection and see where your crystals guide you? A great guide for beginners can be found by Yulia Van Doren in her book 'Crystals - The Modern Guide to Crystal Healing' and anything written by Judy Hall. 

If you're a seasoned crystal collector, what are your favourite stones. We'd love to hear about your journey. Thanks for reading!

Abby and Lesley,
Breathing Inspiration and Swell Made Co.

  Essential crystals for the beginner collection. Citrine, clear quartz, amethyst and rose quartz. And don't forget black tourmaline.

Essential crystals for the beginner collection. Citrine, clear quartz, amethyst and rose quartz. And don't forget black tourmaline.


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5 Ways to Live a Simpler Life

Inspiration, Tips, How ToLesley Pocklington2 Comments
  5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

Life is complicated. It just is. But it can be less so with small, but significant changes. Living a simpler life (or minimal) is not about deprivation, it's actually the contrary. It's about being intentional and making room for the important things in life. Here are some ways you can embrace simplicity too. If you're like me, it may be a slow and steady process with the challenges of family, careers and relationships. Even an ongoing one, but once it becomes habit you'll see a huge changes in your life. Because it's the little things that have a big impact.


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris

1. Declutter

The first way (and one of the hardest ways) to embrace simplicity is to declutter. In all aspects of your life. Physically (stuff, stuff, stuff) and emotionally (yup, that baggage). For the last 15 years, I have been practicing minimalism in a way that works for me. It's truly different for everyone. No, I don't have stark white home. Yes, I still struggle with having "stuff" because I have a family of 4; but I am intentional and thoughtful about what comes into my home and have mastered lettings go of things that serve no purpose or bring no joy. I haven't read any best-selling books about it (although, I'm sure they're great). I just put it into practice whenever I can. Moving many times and living in efficient spaces (small) will force you to really consider what's worth having around. Take it one step at a time until it becomes second nature.

Start with one room and work toward the whole house. When buying things, ask yourself if you really need something. Think about how your choices influence your own peace of mind, but also the greater world around you (ethically and environmentally). Less is more. Quality over quantity. All of those things are true. Having less stuff makes space for gratitude and focus.

Once you practice decluttering in a physical capacity, you can apply that same mindset to your emotional space. This one is much harder for me. Letting go of old habits and relationships that are toxic to your well-being requires a lot more strength than letting go of physical things. Often because this type of clutter has been taking up space for far too long. So long, that it clouds judgement and the respect you have for yourself. It's okay. The same concept applies. If anything (including things) evokes negative emotions or makes you cringe, let that shit go. You'll thank yourself. Good vibes only, right?

2. Get Outside + Move

Get outside! It's one of the simplest way to disconnect from the complications of life and reconnect with nature. Being in nature has been proven to provide benefits for our physical and mental health. From the physical activity involved to the clarity and focus it provides for your mind. Trees and fresh air have the power to bring a sense of comfort and calm and restore our energy in the simplest way.

Once it becomes habit, you'll crave being outside to just be. To breath and to listen to nature (and yourself). There is so much beauty in our own backyards, we just need to seize the opportunities to enjoy it. You can walk, run, meditate or do yoga. Do nothing or anything, but try it outside. Find the things that move your body and heart and stay with them. It might be a struggle at first, but pushing through to see the benefits is well worth it. 


"Simplicity makes room for the important things in life. It's up to you to determine what's truly important. Then, let the rest go."
- Lesley Pocklington

3. Eat Well

Another simple way to be kind to yourself is to fuel your body by eating well. It doesn't have to be complicated. Some of the most delicious meals have only 5 ingredients. There are tons of cookbooks and blogs out there that tackle this fresh and simple approach. Keep it simple when it comes to nutrition and eat what truly makes you feel incredible. French fries make me feel incredible for about 5 minutes, it's true; but filling my body with nourishing food most of the time is a habit I just can't give up. 

4. invest in real life

This is another one that's hard for me. When I moved from a big city to a smaller one, I had a bit of an identity crisis and loads of FOMO (fear of missing out). Once I realized that simple human connections were far more important to me than visiting the next Instagram worthy restaurant (spoiler alert - the food is never as delicious as the cool wallpaper), all was well in the world. As much as I like to visit new places, I'd rather keep it simple and have an honest and real conversation with a pal over coffee or wine. It's that simple! Trust me, your heart and mind will be far more grateful for genuine experiences. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the world of social media when you view life from an unrealistic lens. Step back and see what's real and truly important to you and invest your energy there instead.


"Out of clutter find simplicity."
- Albert Einstein

5. Slow down

Being busy all the time is overrated. We all know that, but somehow (like social media) it's easy to get caught up and pack your days full of appointments and activities. Even multitasking (which I used to be the "queen" of) has been proven to be ineffective and bad for your mental health. It's not an intentional or enjoyable way to live. So, slooow down and give yourself and your mind some space. Savour the moments and simple things that make life good.

That's why I love stationery so much. The slow, intentional act of writing a note is so rare and special these days. If you feel good about sending a note, just think about how the person on the other end feels. Just as good, I bet! 

Whatever brings you joy, you should do more of that instead. If you're feeling over committed, it's okay to simply say "no". In short, practicing simplicity is to not do anything, own anything or be around anyone that you don’t love. If it makes you feel bad (or not good) it has no place in your mind or life. Once you practice this kind of kindness towards yourself, it will flow into everything else. It's a process and a journey, but so worth it. Thanks for reading!

Swell Made Co. was created out a desire to simplify, but enhance my own life back in 2014. Since then, I have made a commitment to slowing down and making sure intentional choices flow into my business and personal life. Have you found ways to simplify your life? I'd love to hear them. Feel free to share in the comments or get in touch!


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The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home

Tips, Plants, DecorLesley Pocklington1 Comment
 The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

Plants make people happy and do us good. It's true! Actually, it's scientifically proven. If you're an urban dweller like me, plants are a simple way to connect with nature on a daily basis. Houseplants bring beauty into our homes by elevating spaces, but they also help us feel creative and rejuvenated. Best of all, common indoor plants are capable of cleansing the air in your home.

NASA's Clean Air Study suggests that plants are capable of naturally removing common toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia and benzene (found in paints, glue and other household items). While it might seem like magic, the higher oxygen levels naturally provided by plants have been proven to improve health and well-being. So, which plants are best for cleansing the air in your home? While, any plant will do, here are some of my favourites that are easy to love and care for if you're not a green thumb. If you're a plant killer, perhaps you should check out our Plant Lover collection. 

 The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co.

The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home:

  1. Snake Plant
  2. Boston Fern
  3. Dracaenas
  4. Bamboo or Lady Palm
  5. Philodendron

There are many more air cleansing plants out there. Just ask when visiting your local plant shop or florist, these are great to get started and can be found commonly. Keep reading below to learn more about each variety.

 Snake Plant - The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

Snake Plant - The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Chantelle Watt Photography.

1. Snake Plant

The snake plant (sansevieria) has incredible air-cleansing qualities removing four of the five most commonly found household toxins. The snake plant (also called mother-in-law's tongue) is super low maintenance. It requires low to moderate light and low water making it a breeze to care for. Ridiculously easy.

2. Boston Fern

Hang this dramatic fern (nephrolepis exaltata) in bright light and it will happily help cleanse the air in your home. Large and leafy this beautiful fern does require quite a bit of moisture even though it's considered easy-going. From this list, this plant requires the most care. Just give it regular mists and you'll both be happy!

3. Dracaenas

There are 40 different kinds of dracaenas plants, so they're easy to come by. Red-edged and cornstalk are well known vareties. Another power houseplant, it removes four of the five most common toxins found in the home. Place it in a spot with bright to indirect light and water moderately. Keeping the soil moist, but not soggy is key to caring for this plant. 

 Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant (#plantgoals). The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Lauren Mancke.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant (#plantgoals). The Best Air Cleansing Plants for Home. By Swell Made Co. Photo by Lauren Mancke.

4. Bamboo + Lady Palms

Bring the Bamboo or Lady Palm into your home for a bohemian or tropical vibes and some serious air cleansing plant power. With a penchant for formaldehydes, benzene and carbon monoxide, these plants are more than just pretty. Plus, they are natural humidifiers as well. Easy to care for bamboo or lady palms require bright to indirect light and moderate watering. They can grow quite large given the space (larger pot) to grow.

5. Philodendron

A common variety of the philodendron plant is the sweetheart plant with its adorable heart-shaped leaves. There certainly is much to love when it comes to this plant, with it's cleansing abilities and it's super low-maintenance nature. It can trail and creep around your spaces, which makes it even more endearing. Like most of the plants listed here, it requires bright to indirect light and moderate water.

All of the plants mentioned above thrive best with well-draining soil, so the roots don't drown/rot. Happy houseplant hunting and loving!


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