[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

[L.A.] FOOD SNAPS IN LOS ANGELES

Tribute to all the food-snaps I take that go un-posted as soon as the physical item gets devoured / forgotten. Here’s a post to say, you’ll always be remembered. Tralala.

I love you, Los Angeles.

▷ Breakfast @ Denny’s for the first time and I liked it! Western portions are way too generous. With a selection like this it won’t be anytime soon for us to taste it all. A tad bit greasy on the side of mashed/fried potatoes but all else’s good.

All American Slam, French Toast Slam, Peanut Butter Cup Pancake Breakfasts
Breakfastception

▷ Late post-shopping lunch with the elder folks was Seafood Port Chinese Restaurant on Hawthorne Blvd Torrance

As much a visual feast as it was physical! Curry crabs and the works, totally Chinese through and through
Highlight of the evening
Managed to get my fortune told

▷ Sneaked in a pizza at Sbarro, Del Amo @ Torrance Bay. Nothing like salad, carbs and mozzarella to complete your trip to the States.

▷ Dining in near pitch-black darkness at Santa Monica Pier Restaurant, whilst chilling to the strong sea breeze at the restaurant’s namesake. Food’s amazing. Mojitos were cray.            

▷ Santa Monica Pier in all its midnight glory. America is gorgeous.  

▷ Too much to eat, too little time and space.

 

 

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

[SINGAPORE] Privé Grill @ Keppel Bay (& other tantalizing eats)

Disclaimer: This throwback post contains images of food, coffee and good people having a good time.
Do not proceed if hungry.

The Privé Grill and Privé Cafe are amongst my favourite haunts, especially since the cafe’s pretty zen on weekday afternoons when I need my caffeine most. The coffee is above-average but not the best since I’ve had better lattes for less (just had a really good ice latte not long ago at The Plain!), but definitely the view of docked yachts, calm seas and expats’ properties definitely beats the  scene at the central business district.

This afternoon, sometime back, was a weekday brunch at the grill. My friends from Thailand finally tasted the famous Privé meats, cooked to perfection using the acclaimed “Spanish imported Josper grill”. According to the extensive all-day brunch selection, Privé Grill also features tantalizing appetizers, mouth-watering mains and decadent desserts.

          

Sometime back too, was this insanely good catching up over coffee with a university senior from the good old days. Ogopogo at the Bussorah Street near Haji Lane (aside from its renowned night scene) offers really good flat white, and amazing old-school knick-knacks. Throwback to the ’90s, anybody?      

I miss humongous and insanely yummy cakes from the Cheesecake Factory in the States. I guess one of those places on this sunny little island with portions, quality control and taste that actually can be compared to the cheesecake giant, is Lady M. Of course, without the crazy waiting time. In the States, we had to make reservations and wait for up to 1.5hrs for a seat at the Cheesecake Factory. Whereas the Lady M is much classier and serves up a mean millefeuille. Bon appetit.  

This is the last of my dessert reminiscences, I swear! Tiong Bahru Bakery brings back really good memories, not just for its good coffee – every time I get TBB I’m reminded of the first person who ever brought me for TBB croissants, black smoked salmon sandwiches and latte. Cheers to good ol’times. One unfortunate thing about this place happens to be their iced lattes – they seriously don’t taste as good when cold.

Privé
2 Keppel Bay Vista, Singapore City 098382
Phone:6776 0777

Ogopogo
73 Bussorah St
Singapore 199486

Tiong Bahru Bakery @ Eng Hoon
56 Eng Hoon Street
#01-70
Singapore 160056

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o19. AFTER YOU DESSERT CAFE 

If you could only make one dessert pit-stop in Bangkok, it has to be AfterYou Dessert Cafe! In the absence of distractions (animals, excessively hipster embellishments) the establishment focuses on a competitive menu  and plain awesome desserts! Since Taiwan’s Dazzling Cafe experience and toasty good times in Korea’s trendy coffeehouses, I’ve not had good toasts in a while. Until Shibuya Honey Toast and Ferrero Icecream Toast came into my life at AfterYou and my life is worth living again. Teehee. Scroll for toastporn, millefeuille and photos of the cozy cafe interior, featuring the ChaiArmy up to our usual shenanigans, this time in Thailand for Red’s birthday celebrations (all pictures taken with my old iPhone 5 because 6+ had to stay home, in case it decides to stay in Bangkok and to never come back)

                  

 

Just waiting for the day that AfterYou comes to Singapore too, like all other high-profile franchises.

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

[VENICE] HOW TO EAT AND DRINK LIKE A LOCAL IN…

Couple of days back, I chanced upon this interesting site that arranges professional gourmet food tours in Italy. The foodie in me was jumping for joy! I wish I had done more research before my trip to Venice (2014), which led to sub-par pastas and touristy rip-offs (although you never go wrong with seafood risottos). Venice is a perfect locale for sightseeing, but at the same time the hustling-bustling city is bound to overwhelm you unless you come prepared with a solid list of where to go and what to do. Loads of pizzerias and pasta houses would lure unsuspecting tourists into their midst and serve up mediocre cuisines, tricking you into believing that this is the best you can get in Venice.

There’s this Italian saying, “Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.” – literally translated as “not all donuts come with a hole”, metaphorically alluding to things not always turning out as we expected. I’d projected all Italian restaurants to be fantastico. Truth is, locals have got way higher expectations than the average tourist, so it turns out you can actually hire a tourguide to bring you around for the best cuisines! Next time round probably I’ll be engaging tours – what better way to pamper your belly than Emilia Delizia’s filtered list of delis, chosen through personal samplings from the native Italians themselves. Way too cool!

Where: Emilia Delizia

Who: Experts in food and wine travel in Parma, Modena and Bologna

What: Holiday planning to various Italian destinations in your native language (Russian, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, you name it)

What I love: Cicchetti Crawl
The same question popping up in your head right now was in my own, the first time I read about cicchetti. What’s that?

Well essentially they are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. According to Emilia Delizia, a cicchetti adventure should begin at bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve such simple, traditional snack foods: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. However modern cicchetti can be much more elaborate, and can even be dinners in miniature. Also what better way to sample the best local wines than to get locals to drink them with you! The Italian vocabulary for wines is amazing: did you know, ombra are small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot), and also nicknamed ‘shade’ after wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. I remember having an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink to whet my appetite) during my trip, and was awed by the wine selection. Due to our language disparity, unfortunately, the Italian wine connoisseur could not express what was in the aperitivo – I think it had something to do with sparkling wine and bitters. Which is why a food tour would be extremely helpful, and could save you a lot of trial and errors in the Venetian food-maze.

I should probably warn you not to read Emilia Delizia on an empy stomach…I got so hungry after reading their gourmet descriptions. I needed no further proof that these guys know their stuff. Popular cichettis include “tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta”, and “squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp”, and “tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) made from special, soft white bread, stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna”. Tramezzini. What a mouthful.

Where To Go: Rialto Fish Market
The best seafood based bacari and osteria are in San Polo, where they serve “swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style” and “hearty plates of polpette (meatballs) served with an aioli sauce, topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms”. Honestly, I never knew these existed till I read this off E.D.!

Venice, I’ll be back for you with a hearty appetite!

P.S. All pictures are my own, circa 2013

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o18. SALA AYUTTHAYA


Sala AyutthayaThailand might be most famous for vernacular and religious buildings, but its modern-day architecture has surpassed world-class standards. We hunted down this structural wonder, with the luxury of time and an inexplicable need for coffee, situated across the famed Wat Phutthaisawan, along Chao Phraya river.

Sala Resort’s boutique accommodation in Ayutthaya features 26 guest rooms (all uniquely designed) including a duplex river view suite and a pool suite, a small art gallery as well as a signature restaurant with a splendid view of Chao Phraya (reservations required, but helluva beautiful place to sit and ponder about life). I loved their deconstructed wave-inspired bricked buildings that were impressively designed to capture a play of lights. Sala Ayutthaya SIgnature Curved Staircase Sala AyutthayaArt Sala Ayutthaya ThailandArt Gallery Thailand Seaview Dining Sala Ayutthaya Thailand Seaview Dining Thailand Ayutthaya Coffee and canapés. In Thailand sauce maketh a meal complete.Crispy Rolls Thailand Sala Resorts Thailand Coffee Latte Thailand Sala Ayutthaya Sala Ayutthaya DiningDesigner living spaces and boutique serviced apartments are increasingly receiving its share of love in the land of smiles, even in city-centred resorts away from beaches and the sea. Interestingly, ‘photogenic’ qualities plays a big part nowadays as holidaymakers want to take incredible pictures for their social media platforms on top of collecting snapshots as memories. The deciding factors of holiday accommodation are as much about concept as they are about prices, location and people factors.

Food for thought. Happy holidays, people!

Sala Ayutthaya Resorts
Thanon U-Thong
Pratuchai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: W6 Garden Centre Café

“This is our way of celebrating the great city we live and work in. Where others see nothing but debris and stone, we see the possibility of a truly life-enhancing experience.”
– W6 Creative Director Paul Holt.

I was pleasantly thrilled to be amongst privileged writers notified of the grand opening of W6 Garden Centre Café. This gem of a coffeehouse takes centerstage under the rail arches of Ravenscourt Park tube station, promising a soothing experience that will whisk you away from the trains running just metres above, by bringing a piece of old London back to life.

Judging from this hearty menu, the cafè can expect a long list of returning patrons. Nuala O’Connor, who previously worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe, helms the kitchen. To quote her directly, ”I want to see the cafe become established as a favourite for local people and a lovely discovery for new customers. We already serve fantastic coffee; I would like to match that with simple but delicious fresh food made with great ingredients, some of which we are even starting to grow ourselves in our herb garden.”

Yes, from a luxuriant herb garden, no less than a foliage in the interior to potted ferns on your dining table – these little green details makes W6 a perfect place to get in touch with nature. Just looking at snapshots of the greenery brings a sense of peace – who would not love these lush overhanging plants and walls of mossy bricks?

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West Six Garden Cafe, Ravenscourt

West Six Garden Cafe Cappuccino

Our Cafe Interior 20.11.14Cafe Seating 20.11.14

Getting super excited by these photographs courtesy of David from W6 (thank you). I don’t usually write about cafés which I haven’t personally been, but this is too lovely not to share!

Am definitely adding this to my bucket-list on my next trip to London!

W6 Garden Centre Café
West Six Garden Centre & Cafe Ravenscourt Avenue
London W6 0SL
Opening hours: 
Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.00pm 
Sat & Sun: 9.30am – 6.00pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o17. AYUTTHAYA – OF RECLINING BUDDHAS AND WISHING WELLS

Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.

In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.

The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.

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Gold Flecks on the Reclining Buddha

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It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods. IMG_6665

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Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.

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Wishing well for the weary – only by conquering a treacherous flight of stairs could you be deemed eligible to cast your wish

If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MACAU] oo4. THE ISLAND IN 20 PICS

Let me take you on a tour of the nondescript: things you won’t see unless on foot, plowing through the city.

“It all takes time and lessons and places, but I’m learning to listen to my restless heart, telling me to “go, go, go!”
― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories

Macau directions
Quintessentially Macau signboards in green and yellow
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Back alleys and winding roads. Grilled balconies.
Breathtaking views
Breathtaking views
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Narrow meandering lanes
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Faded walls
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More beautiful from behind bars
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Schools, cathedrals
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Lush green overhanging trees
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Underpopulated
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Kitty Kindergartens
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Pretty neighbourhoods
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Tinted with Baroque influences
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Tall street lamps
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Intimidating names
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Quaint white architecture
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Royal cathedrals
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As homely as it is holy
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Pops of orange
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Mad bloggers on the loose
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Road signs you don’t know how to react to

There you go friends, Macau for you

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MACAU] oo2. RUINS OF ST. PAUL’S | MUSEUM OF MACAU

Tourists are so darn easy to sniff out. If you’ve been to Macau, you’d know the Ruins of St Paul’s (大三巴牌坊) but a one-sided wall, completely demolished and naked in the back. So the first-timers (like us) would still clamour for pictures with the famed 16th-century complex, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. 68 steps would lead you to the southern stone façade, behind which lies the remains of the original pillars and a shrine. A wee bit of secret: the locals would tell you it’s customary to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, for good luck.

From here, you can spot the stone façade, far left. Pretty deconstructed huh?
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As we got closer, I realised it was just a one-dimensional wall. Didn’t stop me from my touristy shots!
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Way to the ‘top’ – 68 easy-peasy steps! And so crowded on a late February weekday, we had to jostle a few elbows outta our way. Since this wall’s one of ’em things you’ve got to check off your Macau Bucket-lists, we made it to the top and beyond. DSCN6352
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THE TOP

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The best entitlement of a tourist is not being taken for a fool at stupid pictures. Here I am receiving a scroll from…some great Chinese scholar! (My bad, I can’t even remember names of half of my university Professors.)
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I CAME IN LIKE A CAAAANON-BAAAALLL (way before wreckingball became a thing)

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Next best tourist entitlement: you don’t get judged for meaningless hand gestures in awkward I-don’-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands shots.

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“Look, it’s a road, in Macau”

Signboards Macao St Pauls

Not far from the Ruins of St Paul’s is the Museum of Macau, filled with relics from the time Macau was part of Portuguese empire, and also most importantly these were sacred and holy relics of art. Read: Museu De Arte Sacra = Museum Of Sacred Art.

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The Museum of Macau is located in the famous Monte Fortress, in the heart of the city where the Portuguese first set foot. Being a fortress from where battles were fought and Macau defended, actual live cannons were left behind.

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My hands! were not awkward at all

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I had a hard time saying goodbye to the cannon I grew so fond off. They made a good war relic, and a decent sunbed.
Herein lies the footpath from midlevel (outdoors) to the top of Museum of Macau. Great weather, amazing scenery and good company makes for a fantastic walk.plague museum de macau DSCN6397 Museum of Macau Winding steps Museum of Macau DSCN6400 DSCN6401 DSCN6402
Right at the top is where you see a grand entrance to the Museum. Conventionally, you’re meant to enter from the ground floor. The top floor consists of a garden, a small still fountain, and the fortress formation in which cannons are still located.DSCN6403 Lake Museum of Macau DSCN6406

So the view from the top stole my heart! I loooove the vantage point, though ought to have been scared shitless standing so close to the edge. All I really wanna do is get close to the heart of the city.

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Every city I go, I try to get the bird’s eye view. Much like the Eiffel of Paris or Burj Khalifa of Dubai. It pretty much lays the city out at your feet for a much clearer picture than any map will provide you.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S Don’t miss [MACAU] OO1. OF EGGTARTS, GRAFFITI AND ALL THINGS YUMMY

[MACAU] oo1. OF EGGTARTS, GRAFFITI AND ALL THINGS YUMMY

“I looked to the ceiling and told God, “God, next time I want an adventure, strike me with lightning. You have my permission.”
― Kristen Ashley, The Gamble

We were crazy for adventure and found our answer in Macau. The idea came like a flash of lightning. So with one day to spare we grabbed a pair of ferry tickets and bopped our way to the land of egg-tarts, casinos and tea-houses. I expected a whole new environment much like the gambling sitcoms we occasionally glimpse channel-surfing, but Macau is really an amalgam of new world Hong Kong with traditional Portuguese influences. What really amazed us – casinos were entities made of everything shiny, glazed with glamour and all that glitters that is actually gold.

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Starving, we stuffed our faces with the island’s most traditonal Portuguese egg-tarts (or so every store says)
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best portuguese egg tarts

Then meandered the streets of Macau on foot. The air tingles with hope, because most people there were keeping their dreams alive. Making it big at the gambling den, or simply making it out alive.

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Look what we found! Art in the heart of the city.
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macau graffiti

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awesome graffiti macau

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God knows who created these art but they are pretty darn amazing.
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wall have eyes

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colourful graffiti

In Macau, basically, you can find hand-made pastries and cookies every-damn-where. It’s like stores fight for business. It’s what this place is known for, and all tourists are suckers for. We all want to bring a piece of Macau home. Almond biscuits, pork-floss crisps, handrolls. As traditional as it gets. I love their almond biscuit and egg-rolls which are out-of-this world. I have never gone for another bakery’s eggrolls ever since. Especially since Koi Kei makes the best egg-white egg-rolls, ooh lala.

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food in macau

My favourite is still Koi Kei – never have I gone home empty-handed from Hong Kong and he’s the reason why.
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So since we’re on this topic, more food-talk and less sight-seeing! Sharetea in Macau is actually a cafe. The bustling cafe scene in Macau isn’t hipster at all…this is as hippie as it goes. Traditional teahouses, or cha-chan-teng 茶餐廳, which are known for eclectic dishes from Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong Western fusion cuisine, are more prevalent.sharetea macau cafe macau

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Grabbing a selfie moment
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Coffee in a twisted cup
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Fried chicken
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A waffle with smoked salmon, salad and potato wedges

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Food’s always the start of an adventure, as Anthony Bourdain puts it well: “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”. Every culture has its food norms. Anyone else finds it interesting MacDonalds’ caters to every country’s needs? Here’s a Red Bean pie from Macau. I still miss it.

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Part One here was all about what we ingested plus wall murals we caught (well if I could inhale and live off devouring art I would but unfortunately graffiti is not food). The next one and thereafter’s all about the view, and what essentially keeps people coming to Macau. The mystery of the casinos maybe… I for one enjoyed walking through the Portuguese cemetery, reading headstones of all who’s walked the land and had the means to buy themselves a place here after death. #morbid

Cheers!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean