Love It | Warm Terra Cotta
LOVE IT | Warm Terra Cotta with Swell Made Co.

LOVE IT | Warm Terra Cotta with Swell Made Co.

We’re taking a break from the holiday buzz and optimistically looking forward to 2019. What’s in store for home decor? Trends such as our non-stop love for terrazzo, and all things green (plant lovers, your plants aren’t going anywhere) will continue into the new year; but what’s “new” is a love for warm terra cotta hues. Combining Scandinavian minimalism with the decadence of warm colours, earthy textures and a little bling (brass, gold and copper) is going to keep everyone cozy for the winter ahead. Combine terra cotta with deep greens and rich inky blues to brighten your home. Neutrals are just as nice and remind us of the Wabi Sabi trend of 2018.

Pantone also just announced its colour of the year for 2019 - Living Coral. While, not terra cotta; it definitely has similar attributes of warmth and connection with nature. Living coral takes its inspiration from the depths of the sea. Laurie Pressman from the Pantone Color Institute says, “we’re looking for colors that embrace us with warmth and reassurance in our continually shifting environment”. In 2019, it sounds like we could all use a big HUG and crave a sense of hope for our political and environmental worlds. Much like Greenery from 2017, there is a pervasiveness of cheerful shades that call for optimism and positive human connections. So, here’s to bright and earthy hues in 2019.


Here are a few of our favourite ways to bring terra cotta into your space to help you feel connected to nature and its warmth:

  1. These Are The Golden Days (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, it’s nice to be reminded that “These Are The Golden Days” because they truly are. Live in the moment.

  2. Love One Another Natural Pendant Light by CB2 x Fred Segal. Laid back bohemian style with natural textures combined minimalist touches make for a space that connects and embraces. Even the name of this piece is optimistic.

  3. Flange Terra Cotta Vases by Blu Dot. Simple in form, but rich in texture and warmth. Perfect vessels for your spaces.

  4. Pampas Grass. Carrying through from 2018, pampas grass will soften your space naturally and is the perfect complement to the warmth of terra cotta.

  5. Iridescent Copper Tray by Bloomingville. Complementary to terra cotta’s matte and raw texture are iridescent trays and vases to bring a decadent, yet minimalist shine to your space. These opposites blend together to create a bright space.

  6. Iridescent Vases by Bloomingville. See above.

  7. Iridescent Vases by Bloomingville. See above.

  8. Beetle Dining Chair from Gubi. Inspired by beetles in nature, this chair with a shaped and rigid exterior and soft inside provides form and comfort. Designed in 2013, you can customize the Beetle Chair with fabric/texture and base options to make it your own.

  9. Stay Gold (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Another golden reminder for your space to stay true to yourself in the year ahead and always.

Pssst - We snuck in an optimist keytag above as well. For all you glass is half full (or refillable) types. We’re eternal optimists at heart and we could all use a little more of that vibe in 2019.

And if you’re still craving more terra cotta, visit Pinterest to see our favourite spaces. Or, click the ones below and prepare for your jaw to drop. Thanks for reading and happy holidays! And almost new year.


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Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note
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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4 Swell Years + 4 Things I've Learned
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!


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