The Monocle Guide to Good Business


Here’s something you don’t see very often: a business book that’s so good-looking that you actually want to keep it in plain sight. Sure, business books can be attractive and well-designed, but the Monocle Guide to Good Business takes it to another level. The book itself is an object to admire. With its natural linen cover with gold typography, and matte pages bursting with sunlit photography, it’s just asking to be displayed in your office. It’s the Kinfolk of business literature.

Monocle started as a British magazine in 2007 and has developed into a full lifestyle brand with a radio station and a shop for men’s goods. This book is full of inspirational small business success stories from across the globe, musings on quality of life as a business owner, and ideas for building a successful brand. A manifesto of sorts about creating a business that has purpose and passion as its foundation. If you have an entrepreneurial itch to build a business but you don’t know where to start or what you might do, the Monocle guide would be a worthwhile place to start when you’re in the daydreaming phase. At the very least, it will look amazing in your office and will probably be a conversation-starter. If you already have a business up and running, this guide will probably seem kind of silly, and it certainly doesn’t have any groundbreaking wisdom or reliable instructions about creating a cash flow worksheet or reporting your taxes. A lot of the advice seems a bit idealist and also elementary. Not a must-have, but if you want a pretty prop for your office and a little inspiration, the guide could strike your fancy.




February Waxwing Updates and Biz Progress!

Hi everyone! February is halfway over, which means things are looking up, and spring is right around the corner. I figured now is a good time to share what’s been going on behind the scenes so far with Waxwing Mercantile. In the first two months of the year, I’ve made quite a bit of progress toward building the business. So far I’ve filed for my business license and completed all of the necessary legal and financial paperwork, rented a PO box (if you have any mail to send me, address is below!), acquired a new camera and related accessories, created a new email address, and of course, gave the blog a new look. I have also registered to attend two trade shows where I will be meeting artisans and preparing to purchase goods wholesale: New England Made and the Boston Gift Show. I’m looking forward to working with a designer to create a branding package for the shop. I haven’t selected a designer yet, but I have a short list of folks who do stellar work and I think would be a good fit.

When I announced my plans to open a shop, I switched over all of my social media to Waxwing Mercantile, and for once in my life, I’m happy to just have one Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and blog, all using both my real name and my business name. I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years under different monikers (most recently, Folkloriat, and before that I had a few different blogs), but I was always timid about being myself and also sharing my name. I think that’s because I never really was 100% invested in what I was doing and felt self-conscious about sharing my “real self” online and really owning it. Lately, I feel more confident and am hugely relieved to just be myself. Which reminds me of a quote I saw on Pinterest: “Let’s just all be who we really are.”

In addition to all of these to-dos I’ve checked off my list, it’s also been fun to start exercising “Biz Owner” independence as I plan and make progress. For example, I researched and figured out how to transfer my old blog URL to my new one without losing followers and through creating a subdomain, which was all pretty complicated to do. Two months ago, I didn’t even know what a “subdomain” was. But I figured it out because that’s what you do when you’re in charge. I was pretty pleased with myself for doing it on my own (and not enlisting my husband who is more tech-savvy than I am to do it for me). It’s also kind of fun to make decisions without having to go through anyone else. I just weigh the pros and cons, mull them over, and then go with my gut. I’m sure I’ll make some wrong calls and some right ones, but at least they’re my own to make and that feels pretty darn great. I bet all of you out there who run your own shops, studios, eateries, etc. can relate!


New mailing address:

Waxwing Mercantile

P.O. Box 1088

Scarborough, ME 04070


New email:

Botanical Lotions and Potions from Formulary 55

Day-Dream-SoapFormulary-55-Day-DreamFormulary-55-soapFormulary 55 is a small-batch natural bath and body products company based in Pueblo, Colorado. Pictured here are their shea butter soaps and a packet of oat facial scrub. This particular scent of soap is called “Day Dream” and is supposed to be reminiscent grass, violet leaf, rose de mai, jasmine, orange blossom with black pepper and amber. I think it smells like springtime, which is feeling pretty uplifting in the middle of February. Formulary 55 also makes candles, lotions, bath salts, balms, and other botanical apothecary concoctions. Their packaging is really fetching; all of the soaps are wrapped in a white paper printed with nature drawings and interesting words, reminiscent of an old-fashioned herbal recipe book or field guide. The miniature-sized soaps are fabulous for party favors at a girlfriends get-together, bridal shower, etcetera!

Valentines that will make you swoon

Banquet-You-are-the-Bird-for-Me Banquet-Neon-Heart Banquet-Bouquet-Card  Banquet-ValentinesLittle-Bigs-Valentine-CookiesValentine-tulips

Aside from handsome gentlemen, nothing makes me swoon quite like pretty paper. If you’re in the same boat, here are a selection of Valentines from independent stationers that you will love. The ones pictured above are all by Banquet Atelier & Workshop, which is a paper goods and design studio located in Vancouver. They describe their work as “creating quality goods celebrating the natural world and the animals that inhabit it: water birds, northern wildlife, forest creatures and under the sea.” I love their colorful designs and the fact that the cards are all printed on recycled paper.

There are plenty of people who would appreciate a handwritten Valentine, some pretty flowers to perk up their winter, or a decadent bar of chocolate– your best friend, your grandma, your mom, your secret lover, or your sweetheart.

Swoon-worthy Valentines:

You’re the Bird for Me, Neon Print Heart, and Bouquet by Banquet (these are the three pictured above)

Wolf Howling Hearts by Lark Press

True North by Smock

I Love You More than all the Stars in the Sky by Hello!Lucky

You’re My Sweetheart by Parrot Design Studio

Happy Valentine’s Day by Rifle Paper Co.

Je T’aime by Morris & Essex


Side note: The cookies are from Little Bigs. If you live near Portland, Maine, you should get yourself over there STAT. Good people making amazing treats.

How do you make it through the winter?

eb-white-quoteWinter can be rough here in New England. Some days, the high temperature is 2 degrees. The ice and snow piles up. In a one-week span this month, we got over 40 inches of snow. The cold months this year have been so much better for me than last year’s winter, which was brutal. Realizing the stark contrast got me thinking, what makes the difference between an enjoyable winter and a miserable one? Since we can’t all hibernate like bears, are five tips for getting through the darkest months of the year. What are your own tips for making it through?

1. Find wonder in nature.

Snow is stunning when you take the time to look at it. The individual snowflakes, the way the powder sparkles in the sunlight after a storm, the cardinals flitting in the pine trees, the squirrels scurrying around. The way the light changes with the seasons…in the winter, it looks blue to me. Each season has its own beauty when you look for it. Even better if you can find a way to be active outside— building snowmen, sledding, snow-shoeing, skating, etc. One thing that made winter really interesting for me is learning more about what happens to flora and fauna during the coldest months. The book Winter World was a riveting introduction.

2. Dress warmly.

This sounds really obvious, but it makes a huge difference. I used to get tense during the winter every time I had to go outside. Then I smartened up and invested in a long, puffy coat, which when combined with some warm mittens, a wool scarf, and a hat that covers my ears. When you’re dressed appropriately, you can focus on the beauty around you and the people you’re with, rather than your cold self. Also key to dressing well are warm socks. Frozen feet are sure to ruin an otherwise good day. I also like to start my mornings with a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea to warm me up.

3. Keep busy and avoid binge-watching television.

Last winter at the worst of my bad days I was watching way too many murder mysteries on Netflix. I think I watched shows and knit scarves every night for all of January 2014, and boy was that a bad choice. The days all melded together into one depressing blob of a month. Keep busy and try new things. Cook some hearty winter stews in your crockpot. Spend some quality snuggle time with your loveable pets. Plan a fun adventure with your bestie or your sweetheart. Start a new project, a new journal, a new workout routine, a new book, etc. Whatever gets you excited to wake up in the morning.

4. Be good to yourself.

Dry skin, cold hands, poor circulation, lack of fresh produce and greenery. It’s easy to just give up during a cold snap. Instead, be really good to yourself. Do a face mask and then slather yourself with a luxe botanical body oil, take a hot bath, make a winter fruit salad of citrus, pear, and pomegranate seeds, take yourself to the gym for a fitness class, buy yourself some tulips, book a massage or a spa day. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, you’ll be more apt to spread the love to others in your life as well.

5. Cut yourself some slack.

If you’re doing all 4 things listed above or finding your own combination of winter pleasures, let the rest go. There’s no need to go to every social event if you want to stay home by the fireplace. No need to go to the gym every single day if you want to stay home and sip tea. As long as you’re taking care of yourself and your loved ones, sometimes that’s the best you can do, and that’s okay. If there’s ever a time not to overachieve, it’s definitely January and February. Everything is going to be fine. Breathe. Come spring you’ll be ready to go places.


I’ll be back next week with some pretty Valentines!

Eat Pretty, a book about nutrition for beauty, inside and out

Eat-Pretty-book Eat-Pretty-Jolene-Hart


I’ll be the first to admit that I judge a book by its cover. I think a lot of folks who appreciate design can relate. An eye-catching cover or pretty illustration makes a book all the more enjoyable to keep on your nightstand. Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out by Jolene Hart first attracted me because its fetching cover, especially since the color palette reminds me of Valentine’s Day, which is just around the corner. The artwork is by Vikki Chu, an illustrator I have written about before.

The premise of Eat Pretty is that if you eat healthy foods, you will have a healthy glow and feel good inside and out. Jolene Hart has a point. Beauty products can make us feel better about ourselves, but nutrition plays just as large a role in appearance. For example, if you have acne you can cover it up with concealer, but you can also try cutting sugar, dairy, or other foods that can exacerbate skin troubles, and are also on Hart’s list of foods to avoid. For most people, it may not be realistic to completely eliminate all of the “no-no” ingredients on her list, but if for example you use plant milk instead of cow’s milk, replace white sugar with maple syrup or honey, coffee with herbal tea, etcetera, those are small changes that can make a difference in how you look and feel.

Hart reviews vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function, their benefits, and what types of whole foods contain them. This part was interesting to read and made me think about how I can add more fresh ingredients to my diet and how they impact my health. After she covers the basics, there is a chapter for each season, containing recipes and ideas for how to incorporate healthy, seasonal ingredients. Hart finishes with a chapter about habits for well-being, such as getting enough sleep and lowering stress. Feeding your body well is also a reflection of self-love.

I think I would have liked the book more if it was about overall wellness rather than under the umbrella of outer beauty, but I enjoyed how it focused on certain foods and their specific health benefits. It inspired me to try some new things. For example, I tried making Crunchy Chia Energy Bites because Hart turned me on to the Omega 3s in chia seeds. The whimsical illustrations combined with the organized design made it a pleasurable read as well. I particularly enjoy reading books about health and nutrition before bedtime. It helps me to unwind and relax to read about something different rather than my to-do list. This book was especially great for that purpose!