mayBE 2015: twelve.

Today I am featuring Rowena, an inspiring entrepreneur, who runs the etsy shop Paper + Cloth.  Technically we have known each other for a very long time, maintaining a casual acquaintance as we travel the periphery of shared family and friends.  Lately our paths have crossed more online, a feeling of kindred spirits and mutual admiration for each other’s creative endeavours.  Maybe the kinship arises out of her affinity for a streamlined design aesthetic, her obsession with washi tape, or perhaps it’s from the feat of raising five children while maintaining a creative life…


Hello : )

I am a small business owner of online shop Paper + Cloth, retailer of choice paper and fabric products for creative folk. If you love to make, diy, journal, scrapbook or use a planner, there is likely something in the shop for you. And if you love to sew, well, there will be more items coming in for the sewer to play with too. I am also a busy mother of 5 ranging in age from 17 months to 22 years – and no matter how often I say that, it still boggles my mind to this day. It’s a life full of adventure, struggle, (re)discovery and joy and it’s taken me a long time to learn to appreciate it all.


My foray into starting my own business was a recent one. Up until last year, I enjoyed a fortunate career in the apparel industry, from designing clothing to managing design departments, to managing product for various companies. I traveled extensively and met many great people and what I learned was invaluable.

p+c_other WIP

p+c_other WIP 3

But eventually as I grew my little family, giving the best to my work life began to conflict with giving the best to my family life. Long story short, I made the decision to take a risk (and a leap of faith) to start my own business(es). In many ways this new endeavor has meant EXPONENTIALLY more work but the rewards! Oh boy, they are countless. I am exploring creativity again in a way that was lost to me over the years and there are many exciting new projects on the horizon.

p+c_Messy Shipping Table

Expressing creativity in different aspects of my life
As a mother and sole proprietor, creativity has become a means for survival.
How to make chicken interesting for the 3rd day in a row? How to keep the kids from dying of boredom on those cold, rainy days? How to write compelling, interesting copy for the 200 new items in the shop?
These are some of the questions that run through my head on the daily and creativity has always been the answer.

Dealing with a creative rut
For me, there is nothing that stifles creativity more than comparing yourself to others. It’s a fine line from looking to others for inspiration to all of a sudden feeling that your work is not good enough, pretty enough, or original enough. It would be paralyzing and induced feelings of disappointment, frustration and failure. But creative ruts happen to the best of us and the solution that always worked for me was to put the paper/pen/fabric/scissors/glue down, step away and remember not to take myself so seriously. Sometimes a break is all you need, whether it’s an hour, a day or a week.

Creative Inspiration
Depending on the project I am working on, creative inspiration comes from many different sources. Outside of nature, I also draw inspiration from:

· My kids – young children have the uncanny ability to create without the boundaries of self-doubt or fear of failure. They see the world with a fresh eyes and create with abandon – a purity that allows for deliberate strokes – always beautiful (to them) and without mistakes. It a quality that I hope to capture (back) one day

· Fabric – I’ve worked in the product design for over 15 years. Fabric was central to my work and like a blank sheet of paper, was full of possibility. No fabric could pass through my hands without my further exploration. Fabric has been a first love and will always be a source of inspiration for me.

· There is no shortage of artists and people doing/making/living amazing things/lives on Pinterest, Blogs and IG and sometimes it can awaken a dormant seed of an idea that has been waiting for the right conditions to sprout.

p+c_Kids working on MayBE

Creative Process
It always begins with pen and paper for me. I vomit pour thoughts and to do’s, questions and doodles onto paper until something significant emerges. Sometimes the result is the compulsion to pull my sewing machine out, sometimes it’s booting up Illustrator and sometimes I just keep on writing. I feel I am successful when I see a project through and failure when I start a project that I don’t finish – which is more often than I’d like to admit. But I believe you learn something with every failure so it’s not something I’m afraid to do (well not always).

p+c_Taking photos for the shop

p+c_Resulting photo

On Creativity
I can’t count the times I hear from friends and family that they couldn’t possibly do this or that because they aren’t “creative”. I’m guilty of judging myself this way at times. – but I believe creativity is in all of us. It’s a point of view and there is beauty in its expression. Creativity is like a muscle, it needs to be used, trained and flexed to grow strong.

p+c_The Office



This project is an easy one and for those who feel that they aren’t “creative”, I find that this exercise is quick to boost confidence in experimenting with one’s creativity because it brings instant gratification.

Grab a white crayon or pencil crayon, watercolour paints + brush and some paper (watercolour paper works best).

p+c_Prompt 1

Write down a favourite word, quote, doodle or sketch (apply some pressure). It’s okay if you can’t really see what you’re writing, that’s part of the fun. Take your watercolours and drag washes across the page.

p+c_Prompt 2

Watch your sketch come to life as the watercolour wash repels from the crayon. Experiment with the washes. Create colour blends and ombre’s. Go over the crayon with a q-tip to brighten it up your sketch and make it pop!


Thank you Rowena for sharing your story and creating this fun and easy prompt!

And one more thing…if you shop at Paper + Cloth during the month of mayBE, you will receive a 20% discount off your purchase.  Enter the discount code: MAYBE20

Paper + Cloth:

facebook  *  IG  *  Pinterest  *  Twitter

etsy  * web (launching summer 2015)  *  blog (coming soon summer 2015)


FYI:  I do not receive any monetary compensation for any of the businesses that I promote during mayBE.  I feature products and people that I support and whose stories are amazing examples of creativity in action.  Any books that I recommend with an Amazon link, I get a small fee which you can read about here.

You can leave a comment below or join my top secret life explorers group on Facebook if you want to share any discoveries or explorations.  Friend me  and I will send you an invite!  You can share your thoughts or your creative expressions there.  You can also post on Instagram using #may_BE2015  


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