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Inspiration

April is Card & Letter Writing Month

How To, Inspiration, DIYLesley PocklingtonComment
Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

April is Card & Letter Writing Month (and also my birth month — how fitting for a stationery lover). It’s April 8th, I know; but it’s never too late to send a card or letter. Did you know? The U.S. Postal Service officially designated April National Card & Letter Writing Month in 2001 “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

In a world of non-stop of texts and emails, nothing says you care like taking the time to write a handwritten card or letter. You can read more about why I love writing and how it's not a lost art in this past post. Today, however; here are 5 simple things you can say in a card right now. Like, RIGHT NOW. No excuses. I've even given you a few prompts. Grab a pen and card or paper and get writing this month (or any month for that matter) to celebrate. There's always something to say that will help you connect with those you care about. Happy Card & Letter Writing Month!


5 simple Things to Say in a Card

Thank You

At this very moment, I'm sure you can think of numerous people you'd like to thank. Think of the people who support you in your day to day life. From the neighbour who collected your mail while you were away, to your barista, to a friend that gave you a thoughtful gift. When expressing gratitude be just as generous and write a handwritten note. A thank you note should recapture the moment where you were on the receiving end (the smile, maybe the hug, the warmth). Mention what you're thanking the recipient for, but keep it short and simple. Over exaggerating comes across as insincere and don't say "you shouldn't have". It's similar to taking a compliment. Just say thank you.

Congratulations or Words of Encouragement

There's always something to celebrate! Moments big and small should be congratulated with a handwritten note. New jobs, babies and homes all deserve a “HOORAY!”. Maybe your friend or family member reached a goal. If someone did something awesome, tell them. If someone needs some encouragement to get to that goal, tell them. Never underestimate the power of your words of encouragement or congratulations. It literally means the world to someone and those notes often become keepsakes to remember life’s milestones.

I Love You (or, I Like You)

When surveyed, 50% of adults in the United States said they preferred to hear "I love you" with a handwritten note. Can you blame them? I’m a hopeless romantic and apparently a lot of us are. Expressing affection can be as simple as dropping a note in your child's lunch, telling your partner or a friend how much they mean to you for no reason at all. You don't need to an occasion to tell someone you love them. The simplicity of your genuine words goes a long way. Especially if they’re spontaneous.

I'm Thinking of You

Similar to expressing affection, you don't need a reason or occasion to tell someone you're thinking of them. Texting or emailing someone is quick and passive. Take some time to slow down and let someone know you're thinking of them by recalling a sweet memory you shared together. Share a book, song, quote, recipe or even a Netflix series. Share a funny story or a great idea. Pay someone a compliment. Maybe you forgot to tell them something during a conversation. Surprise with a note when you remember. These are all simple ways to connect with someone you care about. Nothing is too silly or insignificant.

I'm Sorry

Saying sorry is never easy. Sending a handwritten note is the best way to let someone know you're sorry when something bad happens. This entire post could be dedicated to ways to express sympathy with nuance; but the most common are a death, a disaster (divorce, illness, etc.) and an apology after someone has been hurt. No matter the circumstance, the goal of the note should be to recognize and validate the source of pain, let the recipient know they are not alone, strengthen your connection and give utmost respect. If you have experienced a similar circumstance as your recipient, let it guide you in choosing the right words. If you don't have a shared experience, it's okay. Try your best and be incredibly thoughtful with your words.

Finally. Don't stress! Keep it simple, keep it casual and write in your natural voice. Take note (pun intended) of how you feel once you've taken a few minutes to handwrite a thank you, a compliment, a memory or a silly story. It all matters and I can guarantee it will produce a smile and all the feels on the other end. Happy writing, swell friends.


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Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

Printable, InspirationLesley Pocklington3 Comments
Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

2018 was a good year. Like any year, it had its fair share of challenges, but I’m grateful for those life lessons too. The highlights include: taking necessary breaks to spend time with my family and friends and take care of myself too, rekindling a mad love for hitting the trails and running outside, finding new perspective and focus for Swell Made Co. through the Starter Company Plus Expansion program and being awarded a grant to grow my business in its fourth year, working with a community of small businesses that constantly inspire me and help me grow, doing good through working with Plan Canada and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, having our home featured in Apartment Therapy at the tail end of the year (a way to confirm, we’re home at last) and continually finding new ways to keep things simple and delight YOU. Wonderful you! Thank YOU.


Simple  Goals for 2019

I typically recalibrate a few times a year (do you?), but there’s nothing like finishing off the year with gratitude for the past and optimism for what lies ahead. Setting goals and intentions for a new year is, simply put, refreshing. No matter how big or small. Complex or simple. As 2018 comes to a close, I’m staying true to myself and keeping it simple with these 5 things. The best part? To thank you for your continued support and another incredible year, this art print is printable and free. If these 5 things resonate with you and your intentions for the new year, you can download it and print it for your own spaces. Available in two sizes - 11x14 or 16x20, all you have to do is download it, print it at a local or online print shop and frame it.

Eat Plants

Is there nothing the humble plant can’t do? From healing and nourishing our bodies, to calming our minds (that refers to the houseplant variety that you don’t necessarily eat), 2019 is about finding even more ways to bring more green into everyday life over here. Including buying more plants in addition to eating them.

Keep Moving

Whether it’s moving our bodies, or finding ways to move forward personally and professionally; 2019 is the year to keep moving. Especially when faced with a block or challenge. Physically moving your body will help you get through it and move the mind too. Fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. Just. Keep. Moving.

Write More

Not only is pen to paper therapeutic, it’s an effective way to track goals, dreams, ideas, lists and gratitude. Less screen time and more thoughtful time spent writing (and reading) is a way to keep ideas flowing and moving in 2019.

Let It Go

If it has no place or purpose in 2019, it can stay in 2018. From self-doubt to toxic habits and relationships. Anything that doesn’t serve in the past year is staying behind as we channel our inner Elsa. See yahhh! Less is more, right?

Be Grateful

As always, expressing gratitude is an intention for the new year because when you look around, there is SO much to be grateful for. Even when faced with a challenge, there’s always something to learn and ways to change and do better. It’s the simple things that matter most.

Eat plants, keep moving, write more, let it go and be grateful. Simple goals for 2019.

Eat plants, keep moving, write more, let it go and be grateful. Simple goals for 2019.

What else is in store for 2019? To start, we’re making some simple changes to make your experience even more swell. We’ll be offering more printable art (and tips for printing, framing and styling) in addition to our exisiting collection of art prints. At the tail end of 2018, we launched our 6 and 12 card stationery subscriptions.

In light of the recent Canada Post strike, we’ll be introducing new faster and reliable shipping options. You’ll also be able to find Swell Made Co. in more shops across Canada and the USA.

A dream from Swell Made Co.’s inception in 2014 to work with more textiles will be unveiled this year, and we have fun collaborations in the works. As always, new products (and ways to make existing products better) will continue to roll out throughout the year.

What would you like to see from Swell Made Co. in the new year? We’d love to know. Watch for ways to let us know, or feel free to get in touch anytime. We’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year to you, friends! Thank you again for being so swell.


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Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

Read It, InspirationLesley Pocklington2 Comments
Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

During the winter months, I love to curl up with a good book. Don’t you? Why not share those books with you. Introducing READ IT — mini book reviews that cover all kinds of books. Business, lifestyle and wellness and maybe even a cookbook. If you have any reading suggestions, I would love to hear them. Feel free to comment below or contact us.

First up, The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd. This feels like a timely book. The holiday writing season is upon us and with writing becoming a lost art, what better time of year to get back to simplicity than winter? With a love for all things simple and slow living (and paper goods, of course), it felt like this was a good choice for thinking about how to “reclaim civilized communication”. The way it once was and the way it can be now.


Margaret Shepherd’s book beautifully defends the practice of writing notes which essentially comes down to protecting the time it takes handwrite and keeping it simple (from stationery choices to what you write). The book is filled with reasons why you should write; but explains them in a very practical way. It pushes you to stop making excuses not to write and even provides writing prompts to get you started. From thank you notes to notes of regret, Margaret covers many of life’s sentiments. While I love this little book, it is definitely more traditional. Personally, I prefer a more casual approach to writing; but there are suggestions for that too. Here are my takeaways as a modern stationer and lover of the handwritten note and WHY we should write more of them.

Notes deserve attention

We live in a world where we’re constantly consuming information, it’s no wonder it’s so difficult to cut through the clutter and get anyone’s attention. The handwritten note’s rarity heightens its appeal. As your recipient sifts through the junk mail, a hand addressed envelope immediately captures their attention because they trust it will repay their attention. And while it immediately captures attention, it doesn’t immediately demand it like the the incessant phone calls, texts or emails we have become accustomed to. Recipients can enjoy the anticipation of opening it when they choose and they can reread it at their leisure. The slow and intentional act of reading a note is just as lovely as writing one. Which takes us to…

Notes make us feel good

When you carve out time to sit down and thoughtfully write a letter, it just feels good. The act of slowing down (as mentioned above) and simply putting pen to paper can be therapeutic. Science has linked writing to better mood, reduced stress and improved overall sense of well-being. This includes journaling too. It’s also inspiring and increases creativity with its ability to put us into a flow state. You’ll find yourself using words and expressing yourself in a way you just can’t with tapping. Unplugging to connect the mind with the hand is a rare, but simple, yet powerful sensory experience.

If note writing makes you feel that good, just think of how the person on the receiving end will feel. You send an meaningful message when you write down your thoughts by hand, physically deliver your note to a mailbox and wait for someone to receive it. The smile and gratitude on the other end is well worth the effort. Talk about boosting morale on both ends.

Notes are personal

From the stationery you choose to what you say, your note is a reflection of the one and only you. Exclusivity is certain; no one else is receiving exactly the same note. It doesn’t get much more personal and unique than that. Choosing to write by hand in the first place means you care a great deal about connecting with people. Add the elements of materials (stationery), your own handwriting and choice of words — you have yourself a simple work of art.

Notes are also private. Concealed in an envelope and addressed specifically with a person (or persons) in mind, means you words are safe until they meet the recipient’s hands. That’s personal.

Are you inspired to pick up a pen this holiday season and beyond? Give it a try and see what opportunities come from the simple act of writing a note. You might just be surprised and you’ll certainly feel good doing it.


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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 Optimist

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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