[ETSY] FACTORY TWENTY-ONE

Rustic furniture with recycled, reclaimed materials has taken the UK by storm. Whereas ‘rustic’ can sometimes refer to furniture displaying a distinct lack of craftsmanship, this is clearly not the case for one inspiring woodwork designer and his crafts, which use a large amount of recycled materials – mainly English oak or old pallet wood. Am honoured to sneak 5 questions in with the designer himself! Read on.

⚓️FACTORY TWENTY ONE

Who: Christopher Berry

What: Sussex-based Home Accessories – rustic, retro furniture, interior decor, prints and posters

🏠: ETSY! | Factory Twenty One | Facebook

We ❤: Wooden wall-planters in gorgeous colours

WhereFactory Twenty One, Unit 10 & 11, Alfriston Road, Berwick Court Farm (UK)

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Started by Christopher Berry and inspired from a background of medieval furniture and a degree in furniture and product design, Christopher set out to create affordable, easily shipped and eco-friendly house-hold products.

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“Factorytwentyone’s aim is to create original items, available to everyone. With a mix of traditional manufacturing techniques and modern processes, our collection of products ranges from lamp shades to coat hooks and clocks to key hook and mail organizers. You’re sure to enjoy the quality and playful side that goes with each design.”

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5 QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER BERRY @ FACTORY TWENTY ONE

VJ: Why ETSY?

Etsy has been a fantastic opportunity to show and sell my designs around the world. There’s a lot of work that they put in on social media and through local etsy teams. It’s a real community and everyone’s keen to help each other. It’s free and there’s a low rate of commission charged on sales. This was perfect when facatorytwentyone started out and as we’ve grown we’ve seen etsy grow too.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I began working with my father doing Tudor, Elizabethan, & Georgian period replica furniture and at the same time studied furniture and product design at university. With an interest in modern design and the skills I had from work and university I decided to invest these in starting up factorytwentyone creating products that are inspired from my past.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy?  How did you overcome these challenges?

Looking back I would say getting together the right tools and machinery, and the space to put it together. Luckily I was fortunate that my father had this in place already. But this would be a large outlay for someone starting out. Also getting the products in front of the right people, this is where etsy has helped.

VJ: With so many online stores, was branding an issue in setting up on Etsy?

Not really. I wanted to do something different.  I was keen to have a good brand but the most important thing was that the products spoke for the brand .

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business!! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

Factorytwentyone is run by me so I’m involved with everything from accounting through to the manufacture and distribution. I love everything design and im consistently looking through blogs and magazines in my spare time reviewing trends and inspiration. To relax and refresh my mind I like to mountain bike, thankfully the workshop is at the base of the South Downs in Sussex.

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Be sure to check out his workshop at Berwick Court Farm!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] MILKCART – DESIGNER FURNITURE

Our Etsy journey continues with husband-and-wife duo from The MILKCART, a Sydney-based designer woodwork store. Inspired by simplicity of Danish furniture and light filled interiors of Australian homes, the duo’s great eye for detail has produced gorgeous, inspiring hand-crafted woodwork. Today we get up-close and personal with the creatives behind The MILKCART store.

⚓️MILKCART

Who: Ryan & Marnie McKnight

What:  Handcrafted, upcycled furniture

🏠: ETSY! | The Milkcart | @milkcart | Facebook

We ❤: The Dolly Collection, Skinny Betty…

Perks: Free delivery Australia-wide; SAVE $50 by picking up from their workshop in KIRRAWEE. Enter the discount code ‘Workshop’ at the Checkout.

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Trinity Console
Clean lines and precise woodwork at a fabulously affordable price – there’s so much to love about MILKCART. The store refreshes its collection every now and then to keep things interesting for returning customers.

MILKCART’s vision is to breathe new life into old ideas, creating original furniture with a vintage industrial feel. Each item is practical, beautiful and unique, complementing any decor or style. We know there is a place in your home for one of them!

5 QUESTIONS WITH MARNIE @ MILKCART

VJ: Why ETSY?
Etsy was the first platform we used to sell our furniture. Not only was it easy to use, it was also inspiring, innovative and really supportive of us as we developed our brand. There are great community groups within Etsy which helped answer our newbie questions and advise us on selling techniques. The local team also included us in an Etsy Pop Up event, which took us out from behind the computer and face to face with our customers, which was a scary, but ultimately rewarding and we haven’t looked back since.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
After moving house, we found that there was very little designer furniture within our budget, and more specifically, nothing to fit those narrow spaces and awkward corners of your home. We made a couple of pieces for our home, and then decided that if we liked them, others might too. What began as a hobby in the back shed is now a full time job for both of us, with a large workshop and plenty of helpers!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
The hardest part, I believe, is making your product stand out. I think that photography is key in an online environment, and I am constantly trying to improve my pictures to represent our products and brand. Luckily, everyone has smart phones now, and that is really all that you need – a phone and some practise! Also, finding out who your target audience is, really helps so you can aim your key words towards that demographic.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
With the photos, I just keep trying! I would love to take a quick photography course, but honestly don’t have the time! I am happy with the overall feel of the pictures, and will update them as I get better. The keywords are also an ongoing project for me – trial and error as we work out who is drawn to what, and why. There is more research and computer work involved than I thought, but I am amazed at how much I have learnt and how much support there is online to help you when you are stuck.

VJ: We like to know more about the person behind The MILKCART! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
Milkcart is made up of myself (Marnie) and my husband Ryan. We work together in every project, both online and in the workshop and studio – every single items passes through these four hands. Outside of work, we also have to live with each other, so luckily we get on pretty well! We have three kids, a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and crazy ambitious dreams – most of which are already coming true! We are huge believers in visualising your product or brand, or any single thing in your life, and working towards that with a positive outlook. That way, anything is possible!

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Scarecrow Lamp

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Black Betty

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Concrete Puddles

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Skinny Betty

Our pieces are fully designed and handcrafted by us in our Sydney workshop – each passing through our four hands – a real human touch, separating us from the mass produced items flooding the market. We really wanted to incorporate pieces with simplicity and practicality, and inspired by a quote from a Brooklyn furniture design company, ‘Perfect Imperfection’ has become our motto.

For more of their gorgeous work, check out the links above, or their main store at

MILKCART
4/29-33 Waratah St,
Kirrawee NSW 2232, Australia

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] POPOV LEATHER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Lately I’ve been obsessed with all things leather. Black jackets over lace dresses, a denim top and synthetic leather jeans –  a whole new world of possibilities are out there with made-to-last durables. As travellers we all need a trusty, durable wallet that is able to withstand the harsh elements we may encounter. A solid leather piece can provide excellent protection for cash and documents. Whilst it may prove difficult to source for leathers of high quality, fine texture and minimal odours, it’s good to keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, quality leather goes through much longer and complex processes than low-grade ones. Look no further for premium leather:

⚓️POPOV LEATHER

Who: Ryan Popoff

What: Handmade leather wallets crafted in British Columbia, Canada.

🏠: ETSY! | Popov Leather | Instagram @popovleather | Facebook

We ❤: Popov’s Field Notes Covers and customised leather wallets in gorgeous colours!

Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “VIKTORIA” at checkout!

Shipping: International; free shipping for orders >$75 to USA and Canada

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“Our personalized leather wallets are guaranteed for life and backed by a satisfaction guarantee. Nothing leaves our studio unless we know you’ll love it.”

Based in British Columbia, Canada, Popov Leather is a small leather fabrication studio dedicated to 100% hand-made goods, inspired by contemporary aesthetics and functional, minimalist design. Popov’s leathers are sourced from Horween (USA) whose timeless vegetable-tanning process, a technique which hasn’t been updated in a hundred years, has been exclusively supplying leather for NFL footballs.  All of Popov’s products are sewn by hand with imported Tiger thread, and nothing leaves their studio unless the owners know you’ll love it. True enough (as our conversation below reveals, on top of positive online reviews), the company’s reputation and customer rapport is enhanced through a conscientious system of brand credibility  – they all love shopping with Popov Leather.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH RYAN POPOFF @ POPOV LEATHER

VJ: Why ETSY?

When I first started leatherwork as a hobby, I used Etsy to validate my work. Etsy is great because they focus on bringing customers to their site while the sellers can focus on their crafts. I focused on my work, learning as much as I could about the trade and each sale pushed me further and further. It took a long time to get to where we are today. I quit my day job in November and I’m currently building a new home and workshop to support the business. Without the support I had from Etsy in the early days of learning leatherwork, I don’t think I could have ever gotten to where I am now today.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I worked as a night auditor at my university for two years, in the nights on my days off I would stay up very late (to not ruin my sleep pattern) and leatherwork was a hobby I could do in my home. I spent many late nights, on my days off, trying to hone my skills and develop patterns for wallets, etc. At work I could watch YouTube videos and read leatherworking forums during my breaks, so it worked out nicely.

I wanted something I could do with my hands; most of my life has been spent in front of a computer or in an office-setting. I really hated it. You get no satisfaction from spreadsheets – making a wallet, mailing it and getting a kind review from a customer is so fulfilling. I run this business 12-14 hours every day and I never feel like I’m really working.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

I think the hardest part is realizing what’s important. A lot of people will tell you that having 100s of products on Etsy will get you sales; this isn’t true. Up until this year we had about 12 items for sale and did just fine. You have to figure out how to grab a shopper’s attention in a sea of other makers’ products.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

To get recognized on Etsy, the two biggest factors are: relevance and photography. Understand how Etsy’s relevance system works by researching titles, tags, and SEO. There are a lot of great articles in the Etsy forums as well as on their blog and in the Etsy seller’s handbook. After you figure that out, work on your photos every single day. What makes a good photo stand out? What do your competitors do? In our case, we saw that a lot of sellers used a plain white background to showcase their products, so we did the opposite and used a burlap textured background. We stood out and I think that helped a lot.

After that, customer service is a huge. I try to answer all my emails within minutes of getting them. Customers love that. We really try to go out of our way to make sure everyone is happy with their product. We offer satisfaction as well as lifetime guarantees on all our products. Handmade products really allow you to quality control your goods, so we’re confident that we can stand by these guarantees.

Finally, hard work and having a tough skin. Jill and I are at this pretty much all our waking hours. You have to be prepared for long hours as well as handling tough feedback from customers. There are times where you can’t please everyone, don’t take it personally. Learn from that experience so you can equip your business to handle or prevent that same situation in the future.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

I graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria – shortly after that I worked at the University and discovered this hobby that turned into my business. I recently moved to Nelson, British Columbia with my partner Jill to build a home and workshop. I hope to learn how to Kayak soon!

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Watch other Popov Leather reviews on YouTube:

Feeling as inspired as I am from all these entrepreneurial stories? Stay tuned for more Etsy features and discount codes from notable Etsy stores.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] GRAPHICS FEATURE: HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

Customised wall art concepts has become all the rage in contemporary Asian homes following a rise in hipster worshippers. Whereas this trend has been around in the West for quite some time, the idea has only recently been adopted in modern Asian interior design. Popularised by Etsy’s legion of talented graphic designers, it’s now really easy to purchase typography prints online and have them delivered to your home. True enough, for apartment-owners looking to individualise their homes, possibilities are endless with typography and prints. Running short on gift/decor ideas? We’ve got one right here:

Today we get up close and personal with an admirable stay-at-home mom turned small business owner. Read on for her Etsy business journey.

⚓️HopSkipJumpPaper

Who: Jeanne DeFauw (Graphics Designer)

What:  Typography and Wall Art Decor

🏠: ETSY! | HopSkipJumpPaper | @hopskipjumppaper | Facebook

We ❤: Her signature “I love you …” series

Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “TRAVEL” at checkout!

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(I could use one of these as a cheer-me-up as I down my daily cuppa!)

What you’ll find: Nursery art, alphabet prints, digital illustrations, zen and humorous art. You name it.

Well, perhaps it’s just me, but there’s something comforting in waking up to an inspiring quote, or a saying that strikes you particularly hard. There’s solace in reading a big strong reminder of how your life can or should be. And I found some graphics I really loved on HSJP.

Travel art is perfect for your loved ones living far away or to commemorate an anniversary or special vacation. Coffee prints are perfect gifts for that caffeine-addicted friend. Why not say “I LOVE YOU” with a customised greeting card? Whatever the occasion, you’re sure to find something special! HSJP offers modern typography wall art prints, posters and greeting cards for travel, sports, children’s rooms, weddings, and home decor.

As if her work isn’t evident enough, HSJP’s designs have also been featured and positively validated on Apartment Therapy, BabyTalk, Babble, BuzzFeed, DailyCandy, and SmarterTravel.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH JEANNE @ HOPSKIPJUMPPAPER

VJ: Why ETSY?

My name is Jeanne. I’m a work-at-home-mom of two very active little boy. I’m also a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising. After I had my first son, I left my corporate job and started to look for a creative outlet. I stumbled onto Etsy and have since had three shops. I closed the first one because it focused on custom graphics and I found I didn’t have enough time for custom work.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

The second shop, HopSkipJumpPaper, began with mainly nursery art since that’s where my life was focused was at that time. My husband and I traveled extensively before having children. I would often ask him: How much do you love me? And, he would answer: From Here to Vanuatu (or some other crazy-sounding location far away). I decided to try some travel prints in my shop. They sold quickly and I added more. Now my shop is focused more on travel-related items.

I recently opened my third shop, Ramble Print Co, for instant download – printable art. I’m slowly working on building inventory. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

My biggest challenge is feeling overwhelmed. It’s not easy balancing a business, small children and life.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

Prioritizing is key! I wish I had more time to design, but need to spend most of my time printing, packaging, responding to messages, researching, keeping on top of Etsy changes, etc. Running a business takes lots of work. Reading the Etsy forums, networking with other sellers, and reading blogs and articles help.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

I love travel, reading, playing with my kids, hiking and living in Colorado.

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“My new Etsy shop is www.etsy.com/shop/RamblePrintCo

Find me at: HSJP

Check out my pins and posts!
Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr “

How not to love these artsy, creative prints? Don’t forget to use that discount code when you checkout!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[NEW YORK] EAT. SHOP. REPEAT

“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”
Rick Riordan

Eat, shop, dream, repeat! was all we did in New York during the winter. In early February, 0°C felt like much less, thanks to bone-chilling winds and an insufficient wardrobe. We had 3 days to spend right smack in the city, where you could literally shop all day and stay up at Times Square without realising it’s already midnight, and not even subzero temperatures could deter them creatures of the night.

Rick Riordan’s quote rang true when I realised literally anybody could dress up in anything and sell their crafts/ideas on Times Square. I forgot how many Big Birds, Cookie Monsters, Madagascar Penguins, Mickey Mouses and Eeyores I’ve seen accosting strangers in the streets, handing out pamphlets or just attempting to sell you something. Nobody found it weird and the reverse is true. The ones wearing them don’t feel judged at all.

Checking into The Paramount Hotel at Times Square felt like entering a club – dim lights, velvet couches, a DJ spinning on the console and bar drinks in the corner.

Straight off our flight, we headed for Koreatown in search of piping hot and spicy Korean food! Decided on New Wonjo because it looked spanking clean and boasts a really strong heater (we felt the emanating warmth just by walking past). Not once during our entire meal did we regret our choice. We had an amazing meal: Bean paste stew (된장찌개), Spicy Tofu Stew (순두부찌개), Short Rib Soup (갈비탕), Beef Glass Noodles (잡채), Rice Cakes (떡볶이), and Seafood Pancake (해물파전 ). Daresay this was one of the best Korean restaurants I’ve been to outside of Seoul.
    

During the trip I had one of the best Thai dishes in NYC too! New York’s melting pot of culture gives rise to an international array of good cuisines within the city centre. Yay me, who’s not a big fan of fast food. This was Thai green curry chicken from Pongsri Thai, a hip diner tucked between Broadway & 8th Ave, bringing you awesome Thai food since 1972.

The sweet-tooth in me jumped for joy at MAGNOLIA BAKERY, NYC’s very own vintage cupcakes store! This is one patisserie that I would seriously cry with happiness if it ever makes its way to Singapore…and guess what!! I just read this on their webpage:
In addition to our current locations, Magnolia Bakery is continuing to franchise internationally and will soon open in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

OH LORD I’LL SHED REAL TEARS OF JOY. Let me show you why:

Day One: Red Velvet Cupcake and Banana Pudding.
I’ve always been a huge fan of red velvet, but this is a whole new level of velvety goodness. It was so soft and creamy, that there was nothing cake-y about it at all. Just melt-in-your-mouth smooth satiny velvet, made red with cocoa, vanilla and “a little southern mystery”, topped with  special whipped vanilla icing and chocolate chips.
  

I’ve never eaten a banana pudding, and my first was pure orgasmic. I totally get why this is Sex-and-The-City-approved! Layers and layers of banana and melted vanilla wafers in a cup blended in rich vanilla mousse… this is helluva showstopper. Omg, so good I swear!

Banana-pudding-and-kindle kinda night

Day Two: Lemon Cheesecake and Magic Cookie Bars
Lemon cheesecake was my breakfast, and it was so totally amazing, I wanted to trudge back to the store in freezing winter just to get another. I love how moist their cupcakes are in the grand scheme of how cupcakes tend to be, and it’s sweet without being sinfully so (or at least they don’t taste sinfully sweet like a pure bar of sugar)
Curious about Magic Cookie Bars and just how magic they were, I tried one, and went to cookie heaven. Still wasn’t sure what was in them until I went over to their page:”Graham cracker crust with chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut topped with sweetened condensed milk then baked.  

Enough talk about food, moving on to the shopping part of my whirlwind stay. For me shopping is the main activity in the States. Without driving to outlet stores, NYC has a convenient selection around our hotel and down the streets. Big names are all listed on city maps designed with easy-to-navigate grids. Sephora awarded me their VI(B) thanks to my patronage every time I’m in the States.

We went into the Lego Store! – always such an innocently happy place. Larger than life-sized figurines such as the Statue of Liberty and Lego Movie characters were made of lego blocks only. I applaud the makers’ patience and their eye for details. This was where we took most of our shameless selfies that must have prompted many to judge us overenthusiastic Asian girls.

In the day, Times Square is incredibly, vividly lit. In the night, it’s not so different. Shopping from late evening on, I didn’t even notice that daylight was gone because the billboards were so intensely bright that they lit up almost the entire sky if you were to stand right in the middle of the streets. I’m reminded again of why NYC is the City that Truly Never Sleeps.

When it was time to go, I was just incredibly sad ): But knowing that I’ll be back someday makes me incredibly excited to explore new parts of the state and venture beyond the city centre!

Of course my bag suffered the brunt of my shopping.

 

Till next time,

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] TRAVEL JOURNALS & DESIGNER POSTCARDS

As much as the following designers were excited to share their works of art, I’m excited to share their story of how these creations came to be! These are amongst the most exciting travel paraphernalia I’ve seen in a long time: (i) LAGO DESIGN’s scratch off post-cards from Seoul, Korea – scratch off however you want to make your own unique photos; and (ii) TRAVELEGE’s designer travel journals from Hong Kong. Bon Voyage!

⚓️ LAGO DESIGN

Who: Sung-Yong Ha and Team (S.Korea)
What: Unique design products inspired by travelling the world
Where: ETSY! | Lago Design KR | instagram @lago.design
How to locate them:
2F 446-59 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea | +82 10 9101 6855
What we love: Scratch Nightview Postcard Series!

LAGO DESIGN’s tagline captures the essence of their creations:”‘Life is a great adventure.” We hope you have a great adventurous day!”.
Artfully re-creating notable landmarks from the most high-profile cities in the world and turning them into remarkable gift ideas, the designers at Lago have outdone simple notions of ‘postcards’ by making them an outlet for creativity.

For a limited time, Lago Design is offering FREE worldwide shipping for all Scratch Night View and Scratch Landmarks Postcard series!
Take a first-hand look at these beauties:

(i) SCRATCH LANDMARKS POSTCARD SERIES

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(ii) SCRATCH NIGHTVIEW POSTCARD SERIES

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5 QUESTIONS WITH HWANG WON @ LAGO DESIGN

VJ: Why ETSY?
It’s easy to make well-organized listings in Etsy compared to others. (amazon, ebay)
Most of all, we like how we can decorate and create our own shop page.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
The idea of the Scratch series came from our CEO & Creative director, Sung-Yong Ha.
He said he was inspired by scratch drawings he used to make with crayons in childhood.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy.
To overcome fear of failure (about being unsuccessful or getting consumers’ attention), and to be fully confident about our products were the biggest challenges for us.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
As you know, design is a very subjective.
Therefore we believe a design should be for all (not for few) in order to be competitive.
We try to listen to others as much as we can, so that we won’t be too one-sided.
We think these kind of mind helped us get over the challenges, and led us where we are now.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
We are a group of 8 (young, active, and enthusiastic!) people.
Although we have gathered not so long ago, all of us have been put a lot of effort to make this community one-of-a-kind.
Our ultimate goal is to become a community where every member can grow together, and where everyone can really be a part of.

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With such beautiful creations, it won’t take long for LAGO’s design community to grow. Check out other lovely creations from the LAGO Team at their homepage, Lago Designs.

⚓️TRAVELEGE

Who: Kin Tse, Frances Que and Team (Hong Kong)
What: Travel Journals & Maps for Passionate Travelers
Where: ETSY! | TRAVELEGE | Facebook

How to locate them:
134A, InnoCentre, 72 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Words from the Owners:
“From designing every page to sourcing all the materials all over the world, I spent more than a year on getting my idea realized and perfecting everything in it. The perfect travel journal was finally born, with all my passion and sweat!”

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Logging down those travel inspirations ultimately enhances your travel experience and what better way than to use these beautiful travel maps and intricate travel journals. Travelege is definitely a companion to help you make your journeys alive. Never stop exploring!

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5 QUESTIONS WITH FRANCES @ TRAVELEGE

VJ: Why ETSY?

Simply because those people value the start-up’s stuff and it’s easier to reach the customers who like to try new things and have the travel spirit at the same time. And We also got a lot of encouragements from them about our travel journal and travel world map. It’s all worthwhile afterwards.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

It’s Kin’s idea that he wanna make a perfect travel journal after traveling for a year. And actually, at the very beginning, he just wanna have a try and see how it goes.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy.

Dealing with the travelers all over the world. They would have different questions to ask about our travel journal. And at the same time, it’s nice to exchange ideas with all the global citizens who love traveling (most of them are indie travelers). Sometimes they will give some useful comments about how we can improve our travel journal or what they want to add in the travel journal and travel map.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

Time can solve all these challenges. We don’t really have to overcome it, it just takes some time to handle it. : )

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business! Tell us more about yourself 🙂

The Travelege crew includes me (Frances), handling the travelers’ matters and logistics (and of course, I am a travel addict too.), Kin who deals with the production, and several other members who assists for the design work, marketing stuff and updating of the travel journal.
Check out more photographs of Travelege at their homepage Travelege.com.

You’ve seen their products, but do you know their story? Follow more stories of gutsy, artsy-fartsy Etsy Entrepreneurs by following my updates! Discount codes are coming your way.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] PASSPORT COVERS IN ALL CUTS AND COLOURS

Jetting off into the great unknown? Keep your travel documents safe with these personalized passport covers and travel organizers, handmade with extreme skill and care, and also ready to send off as gifts for your friends and loved ones. On our feature list today: (i) Red Leaf Leather and (ii) Bin’s Creations.
Ready, jet set, go~

⚓️RED LEAF LEATHER

Who: Kelsey Roberts
What: Custom leather products that are completely handmade and crafted to ensure you’re purchasing the most personalized and customized leather around.
Where: ETSY! | Facebook
What we love: Custom leather passport covers, especially ’em bright spotty ones!

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The Red Leaf Leather experience adds an element of fun to online shopping with a colour chart for picking out your desired colour. Essentially you can customise every single product from handmade wallets to passport covers, which makes travelling oh-so-exciting when you’re off to your next big adventure with a brand-new passport skin! The products are shipped internationally from Utah, United States. Oh, and the owners also do frequent giveaways on their Facebook Page so do keep your eyes peeled!

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5 QUESTIONS WITH THE OWNER @ RED LEAF LEATHER

VJ: Why ETSY?
When I was first thinking of starting a business making leather products I thought Etsy would be a great place to start selling my products because it has a great audience and people go on knowing what they’re looking for and what they want so I didn’t have to invest in building a website, doing SEO, etc. It’s a great way to start up a business!

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
After moving back to Utah from South Carolina I didn’t have a job lined up, and then my dad, who is a chiropractor, had 2 employees quit so he said he needed my help. I had worked for him for about 5 years previously so I was planning on just working until they hired 2 new people and I would train them, then I could quit and do my own thing. The time came and went and before I knew it I wasn’t working for him and none of the jobs I had applied for had called me to interview! Over the next 6 months I applied for hundreds of jobs and only had a few interviews, which turned into nothing more than that. I knew I preferred not to have a “normal” job as I call it, a normal 9-5 job where you punch in, punch out, and at the end of the day don’t feel satisfied with what you accomplished. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own hours, create my own work environment, and do something I looked forward to each morning! What that was I had absolutely no idea, but I knew I wanted it! So I decided I could either continue looking for a “normal” job or I could find something that I could turn into a business for myself. One night my sister took me to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and in the movie he receives a gift – a custom wallet with a quote on the inside. I thought how cool that would be, to be able to give such a personal gift to someone you care for and I thought “I could make those!” I had no previous knowledge in leather work and literally knew nothing about leather, except that it came from cows 🙂 I headed to my local leather store (didn’t know those existed until after I decided to make wallets!) and asked what I needed to make a wallet. I purchased the recommended supplies, went home and watched several YouTube videos so I could know how to stamp the text into the leather, dye the leather, stitch the leather, etc. And 2 weeks from when I had the idea I opened up my Etsy shop!

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
The biggest challenge, for my shop specifically, is that there are hundreds and hundreds of leather wallets on Etsy! How in the world were my amateur wallets going to stand out against all these other professional wallet makers?

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
I think I was just kind of lucky, to be honest. I looked into the most popular wallets sold on Etsy and I noticed that most of them either didn’t provide any option for customization, or the customer could customize, but only up to 5 characters or so. I think the thing that really makes my products stick out from the crowd is that they are completely customizable! You can put your own personal message, your favorite quote, initials, or you can leave it raw. It’s completely up to you what you want to put on there and I think that is really unique!

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Red Leaf Leather. Tell us more about yourself 🙂
I have lived in Utah for the vast majority of my life, and my passion in life is traveling! I traveled to Europe for the first time when I was 15 and have been addicted ever since 🙂 I love exploring and discovering the unique beauty of the world and seeing that although things are different, they’re beautiful in their own way. I love spending time with my nieces and nephews and making fun memories. My favorite thing in the world is enjoying a cool summer night in Utah 🙂

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I personally felt inspired reading Kelsey’s response to our questions, that she was brave enough to carve out her own career from an interest and skill. (had such great fun speaking to you over email Kelsey!)

Visit her ETSY store for more details on ordering!

⚓️BIN’S CREATIONS

Who: Binny Anthony
What: Custom leather products that are completely handmade and crafted to ensure you’re purchasing the most personalized and customized leather around.
Where: ETSY! | Bin’s Creations
What we love: Custom leather passport covers! Chock-full of ideas at Bin’s Creations.

From the words of the creator herself, “Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved making things; crafts of all kinds. Having my own store was my dream. I put my heart into making custom leather gifts for any occasion and put love and passion into every piece that I make. With over 12 years of custom design experience, I can take your ideas and suggestions to create your own very unique and memorable custom leather pieces. I can handle the simplest designs to the most intricate.”

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With travel organizers like these, you’re never going to lose any of your travel documents again. Keep them tidy in these neat little pouches!

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5 QUESTIONS WITH THE OWNER @ BIN’S CREATIONS

VJ: Why ETSY?
I got involved with Etsy, because one of my family member recommend it few years ago. I started a website to sell jewelry http://www.binscreations.com

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
I have mentioned the reasons abvoe. Definitely an interest, would like to expand and be successful.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
I am still learning about Etsy. I opened a Jewelry shop in 2011 with Etsy and I was not selling that much and was getting disappointed. Not having any ideas to sell online was an obstacle to my success. Having a contact person for advice would be very beneficial for the Vendors.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
Finally I Started to read about the sellers handbook and learned few ideas about how to improve the traffic to my shop.

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind your business! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
I am the sole Owner of this business and working full time at the same time. Most of the items are created at my spare times. I enjoy doing this and hopefully I can give up my full time job and run my business full time. (That’s my dream).

Bin’s Creations offering custom design gifts and party favors for any occasions. Please contact the owner and create something unique just for you.

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Definitely looking out for this one here. Check out her website for more information!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ETSY] TRAVEL BAGS YOU’LL LOVE

June is finally here! What are everyone’s plans for the summer? My ideal vacation for a summer lovin’ getaway – somewhere tropical, exciting and close to sea.

This month ViktoriaJean gets up close and personal with ETSY Entrepreneurs brilliant at their craft, zooming in on travel-easy products which will make your travelling infinitely easier. Watch this space also for exclusive discounts when you purchase with special discount codes only for our readers!

The beach and the sea must be beckoning as you ponder your next getaway. Well, since a lot of you would be heading to the coasts, today’s feature includes (i) a couple who’re amazing at making incredibly gorgeous surfboard bags and beach totes, and (ii) a self-made, self-funded entrepreneur who makes lovely bags, such as the 8-in-1 tote perfect for travelling.

⚓️THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

Who: Joe & Tasha Chapman
What: Durable hand crafted goods for the ocean – loving life. Created by a couple of salty folks by the sea
WhereETSY! | ChapmanAtSea
What we love: The Palm Leaf Collection

 photo ChapmanAtSeaEtsy3.jpgChapman at Sea is a collaboration between husband & wife team Joe & Tasha Chapman. Tasha is an artist & illustrator, while Joe is a commercial diver. They both like surfing, traveling & spending time by the sea.

Chapman at Sea began with a vintage army duffle and the need for some surfboard bags. Tasha inherited the duffle from her grandfather. It was a tough old thing that had traveled the world and gotten better with use. This bag held a lot of stuff, but it wasn’t big enough for a surfboard. Sometime in the middle of 2012, Joe & Tasha needed some board bags for themselves. Nothing offered locally really fit their style, so they decided to make them on their own, taking inspiration from the army bag. Tasha’s artistic skills, paired with Joe’s real life marine experience & a knack for always knowing how to raise the quality of a thing, came together to create a good looking bag that’s made to last.

Crafting the bags carefully & by hand turned out to be really satisfying, so the couple kept on making them. Later on, Tasha created a line of smaller beach bags & totes from the same classic materials and Joe introduced rope dog leashes that use sturdy sailor’s knots. Joe & Tasha hope these creations will go out into the world & travel all over it, becoming a part of as many adventures as the old army bag has.

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5 QUESTIONS WITH THE OWNERS @ THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

VJ: Why ETSY?

Etsy is such a great place for makers. I do have my own website ChapmanAtSea.com but I wanted to have an Etsy shop as well because I knew it would let me connect with people I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. A lot of people are in the market for special, handmade things, but don’t really know where to go to find them. Etsy makes it so easy for them to hop on and discover new things. It’s also a fun, vibrant community that I’m happy to be a part of.

VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?

I love the ocean and I love to surf. The business came from necessity – I needed some surfboard bags and couldn’t find anything that fit my style so I decided to create them myself, inspired by a tough old WWII army bag I’d inherited from my grandfather. At the time I was working as an illustrator and the artistic side of me knew what I wanted it to look and feel like. My husband Joe is a commercial diver, is in a marine setting every day, and knew what had to be done to made it durable. He focused on the function, I focused on it’s good looks, and together we made the kind of surfboard bag we thought ought to exist.

They were received really well and it was so much fun that I just kept designing things. Whenever I needed something in my own life I’d think if I could make it better myself, in my own style. The result has been a whole line of products: beach bags, totes, dog leashes, bike bags and we’ve just released a new collection of wooden handplanes for body surfing. They’re all made from our simple, classic materials and all designed for a life spent by the sea.

VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy

It takes a good amount of time to get everything going – photo, stories, everything involved in setting up a shop. It’s a little bit daunting in the beginning. I also think a lot of sellers get discouraged because after they do all of this it’s still a challenge to be “discovered.” You have to get your shop to pop up in search results so people can see your awesome creations.

VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.

I just worked at it little by little until it was ready. It was actually a lot of fun creating my store exactly as I wanted it to be. I guess I had a vision for what I wished it would be. As far as getting found once it was up, I’m still not sure how that happens! I just believe if you put something out there that you’re passionate about it will show and eventually people will come. Patience is important!

VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind The Atlantic Ocean! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
My name is Tasha. I’m an artist, surfer & maker living by the sea in Boca Raton, Florida. White is my favorite color, coconut is my favorite scent and my perfect day is one spent in the ocean.

What’s hot right now: The Atlantic Ocean’s Palm Leaf Collection
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Well, if you ask me, I’m definitely getting one of those Palm Leaf totes for beach getaways.
For more information or further enquiries, visit ChapmanAtSea. Happy shopping.

⚓️APROPOS by Judith Anne Nelson

Who: Judith Anne Nelson
What: Uniquely patented bag changes into 8 classic bags every woman needs, and has the luxe appearance every woman wants!
WhereETSY! | AproposBag
What we love: The 8-in-1 chic bag!

The owner’s story:

“It took me many years of trial and error, then patent submission, trademarks, etc., to get to the point where I found the right idea. Now I just need to find the right market!

Mine is definitely one-of-a-kind! I used to speak at conferences, and was continuously hampered by never having the right bag at the right time. I needed a roomy tote for the plane (to carry my laptop, iPad, water, etc…not to mention purse stuff), but was invariably in a mad dash to get to my meeting. Often I couldn’t even wait for my luggage to be brought to the room, so I was stuck with my tote for the day, which never looked quite right. There were luncheons when I would have preferred a smaller, sleeker bag, surprise quick shopping breaks (which I really longed for a backpack or messenger bag for hands-free retail therapy), a dash out for coffee (when I didn’t need my whole bag, just my wallet and phone), then somehow I never got a chance to go back to my hotel before my day drifted into drinks and dinner. I never seemed to have the right bag at the right time! I searched and searched, but there was no bag anywhere that could do it all. What were my choices? I couldn’t take an armload of bags with me everywhere I went…and I would NOT give up being chic for the comfort of an old tote or backpack. When I exhausted my searches, I decided I would have to make one myself.

It took me endless trial and error sessions pinning tissues, then moving to fabric, until I hit the “ah-ha” moment. Fortunately, I was a good seamstress and was able to make my prototypes. I had discovered that, with strategically placed grommets and removable handles (plus great looking materials), I could actually create a bag that could, not only LOOK different, but change size and shape so that it became all the different bags I needed. My dream was to carry one bag (really, only one bag!) with me wherever I traveled, or even throughout my daily routines. My favorite bags heretofore had been the Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM, the Goyard St. Louis PM, and the Bottega Veneta Intrecciato woven leather tote. But none of them did it all. I modeled the initial size of my Apropos bag after the size and shapes of the LV and Goyard bags, then the look and some of the functionality of the Bottega Veneta. I found that my bag was always Apropos! It began as a stylish tote with elegant woven round shoulder handles, and could then easily convert into a messenger bag, hobo, bucket, backpack, “A”-shape (a la BV), dressy smaller and sleeker bag, and cross-body, wristlet, or shoulder pouch—this last one perfect for quick trips out for coffee when you don’t need your larger bag. The zippered pouch is large enough to keep a long wallet and phone snug and secure—either clipped into any of the bag’s conversions with the handles, or worn on its own with one of the handles as a wristlet, shoulder pouch, or small cross-body bag.

I knew that with the LV and Goyard bags I felt the need to purchase custom bag-bottoms, so the bags wouldn’t sag and bottom out. I decided my bags would have to come with a finished removable bag bottom. Then, although I and seemingly most women prefer open totes, I decided to put a magnetic closure at the top edge, so that it could be closed when needed, but still easily opened. “Apropos” seemed like the right name, because… I made samples of the bag, tried it along with my friends, and we loved it! For the first time ever, my suitcase was freed up for overspending on other things wherever I went—I took just the one bag, and it worked!

When others began wanting the bag, I was unable to keep up with making them myself, so I enlisted the aid of a very small family company here is Colorado, who hand-made environmentally friendly things. All this has been very expensive for me—just getting the patents (I have 11—one utility and 10 design) took several years, and many hundreds of dollars. Sourcing the materials here in the US has also been quite expensive—low quantities command high prices. But I found what I believe is the perfect fabric—woven-look soft and luxurious faux leather that looks and feels almost exactly like my $3,500 Bottega Veneta bag! I haven’t been able to work up the steam and the necessary presentation for a crowd funding project, but I will really need to do that in order to be able to meet an increased demand with a less expensive product. I found that purse organizers are the perfect addition to my bag, in that you simply lift out the contents in the organizer when you convert to another style, so I have been including a limited number of those with the purchase of the complete bag.

While on my Bottega Veneta kick (after all, is is the ultimate is luxurious stealth chic), I became fascinated by their woven key rings, priced at over $200 each. I used some of my round woven handle cord and made a larger version, one that could be worn over the wrist when you walk the dog, go out for a run, or down to get the mail, and just need the keys—no bag. Mine can clip conveniently onto the bag’s handles for easy access when in the bag, or worn on the wrist when out and about—to me it’s a huge improvement over the pricey BV key ring!

We’re now at 8 styles from the same bag, but friends have already suggested even more styles.
I say, it’s your bag–how will you wear it?”

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It’s crazy how a bag can be carried so many ways! Name an occasion you can’t carry this 8-in-1 to, and perhaps the talented designer would be able to solve your problem. Definitely handy when you’re out on the road with limited options or intending to travel light, as I’m always inclined to. For more information, visit here or the official website.

Hang tight for more exciting features! Meanwhile, if you’ve got something to share, or would like to be featured, drop me a note at viktoria@viktoriajean.com

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

cracked perfection

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“I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.

And I will not be afraid
of your scars.

I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.”
— Clementine von Radics

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

My Pink Leopard Manicure

2014 Bucket list item #24:
Get manicured in pretty pink leopard prints – check!

Read Nora Roberts’ old classics at Spinelli’s while waiting to have dinner with Annabelle. Spinelli’s is so underrated in comparison to the coffee chain monopolies Starbucks and Coffee Bean. Perhaps I’m just sick of Starbucks at the moment – I used to drink it everyday but now I avoid them like plague! Spinelli’s Rumberry Twist has cranberry pieces blended into a yummy mix of espresso, rum and vanilla, and it really agrees with my tastebuds. Pretty soon I would have tried all of Spinelli’s beverages! Which is hands down, way more appetizing and creative than Starbucks’.

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Headed for Copenhagen tomorrow evening.
2014 is looking way up up up!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o10.Lamai Beach Samui

Samui Asian Girls Beach

Ever taken a day from work to stroll all morning along the calmest beach on Koh Samui? I love how my traveling job makes it all easy to find myself on an entirely different city from day to day. Yet it makes me appreciative of nature’s beauty on a minuscule scale. I’m all excitement and “let’s take more pictures!”, even when all that’s truly picture-worthy are a row of colourful beach houses, or teeny-tiny pretty sea shell on the beach. Hell, if you’re not noticing these little things, you’re missing out on a whole lot in life.

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] oo7.Black Moon Party

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

This is Koh Samui’s very own Black Moon Party at Chaweng Stadium on a Friday Night. Thailand’s offshore islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are best known for their Full Moon, Half-Moon and Black Moon parties. Us party-goers were a good mix of Caucasians, Chinese and Japanese tourists, as well as the local Thais, filling the stadium for just 200Baht per entry. Thai artists were offering to decorate our body parts in neon body paint for a 100Baht but we managed to get ours for free! Also enjoyed the awesome spinning by the island DJs and the crazy neon party lights in the house.

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Girls

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Thailand

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Drinks

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Girls

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Chaweng Stadium Koh Phangan Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Full Moon Party Samui

Party Samui

Dark Moon Party Thailand

Island Thailand Full Moon Party

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Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

We’re gonna make it for the Full Moon Party for our next trip, definitely! Partying’s always fun and safe when you’re with the right mix.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Soi Reggae, Chaweng Beach,
Chaweng, Koh Samui, Thailand

Shoe-Porn Ahead: Sole Superior SG

CAPTAIN AMERICA KICKS. How can anyone fricking resist not oogling at that beauty! Sole Superior 9

Helped out at Straatosphere for Sole Superior SG, Singapore’s first sneakers convention, where I had a major case of sneaker lust! This really opened my eyes to all the retailers and brands out there, as well as the people who come for events like this.

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Caps, oversized teeshirts, big shades, bling-blings, customised kicks and autographed shoes… they make me miss hardcore dancing and all kinds of high-top sneakers I would have put to good use! Or rather, shoes that I would have abused with over-use. Spent some time ogling at gorgeous Adidas, Nike, Reebok and New Balance kicks! Also got to know some obscure but nonetheless awesome limited edition brands. Since I’m heading to Houston for Christmas, I could wait till then to get my Vans, wedge-sneakers and boots for my brothers!

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Daniel and I won this Jeremy Scott x Adidas Forum Multi-Tartan High-Tops via crazy spontaneous totally-impromptu means! Also, we won an additional Adidas Tee. Had great fun traipsing in the shoeporn lying around the Zouk nightclub all afternoon…we should have more of these local events in Singapore, seriously!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean