Interview with Janina Rossiter {children’s book author}

Tovi The Penguin

A while back Janina contacted me and introduced me to TOVI. Tovi is a penguin and the star of a {beginning} series of children’s books.I was very impressed when I heard how Janina started and thought it would be a good moment to do a little interview. Where did the journey start and why is it Tovi and and and… have a look here:

1. Please tell us a little about yourself {where you live, with whom etc}/ intro

My name is Janina Rossiter, I’m a graphic designer/illustrator who lives just outside of Paris with my British husband and my young daughter. I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany, where I lived most of my life but have also spent time living in Louisiana and in London. I met my husband in London but rather than settling down there, we decided to give each of us a fresh start and picked a new destination somewhere in between. That was Paris.


2. What inspired you to write your first book?

An image I drew for my husband’s cousin’s wife, which was of a Penguin riding a Buffalo. I had previously illustrated a few penguins for a job I was working on and she saw them and told me she’d always wanted an illustration of a Penguin riding a Buffalo. So I said I’d do it. Once it was finished I thought it was a shame it was just one image, as it had so much to say. I already had a whole story swirling in my head now, so I just started illustrating a whole story and that’s how the first Tovi book came alive. I haven’t published that original story yet since I didn’t see it as the best one for opening the Tovi series with, but I’ll certainly get it out one day!


3. Do you see writing as a career?

I’m a creative person. I love to create stories and illustrations and if I can live from that one day, I would love to have it as a career. But I have to say that I am also very pleased with my current career as a packaging designer, as I love my job.


4. Who illustrated the books?

I have done all the illustrations myself and also write the stories for each of my books.


5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is to be your own critic and not settle with the story and illustrations once you’ve theoretically finished. From the point where all the illustrations and story are completed, I will probably end up re-editing it another 10 times before the final version is ready. But I do get a little impatient sometimes… So I guess that in the end the hardest part about writing a book is having the patience to make it even better than that first attempt!


6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I certainly learnt that all the hard work it worth it in the end, when I see the finished book! Also, having children laughing and smiling at the story you wrote certainly makes it worthwhile!


7. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I have a full-time job and a baby daughter, so it is sometimes hard to find the time. I tend to illustrate in the evenings, on the weekends or whenever I can find the time. Although last summer I took 2 months of from work just to write and continue the stories.


8. Where do the your ideas come from?

My ideas tend to come about from different situations or experiences. For the Christmas book, for example, the general idea came from the way we celebrated Christmas at home the year before and I put a lot of that into the story. The London book I wanted to do, because my husband is British and it’ll be a great way to explain to my daughter where her roots are from. So yes every book has a different inspiration that comes from somewhere in my life or experiences I’ve had, but sometimes it can also just be a creative idea that popped up in my head that I think would make a good story.


9. What is your favourite kids book {apart from your own}

I adore Emily Gravett and I love all her books, although her book “Cedric the Dragon” is definitely our favourite one! But the book I know by heart and that we tend to read to my daughter most nights is “Henriette Bimmelbahn” by James Krüss and Lisl Stich.


10. And for grown ups?

I like a lot of different books. Ones I particularly enjoyed recently were “My little Paris – the best kept Parisian secrets” and also “Warum französische Kinder keine Nervensägen sind” (Why French children don’t throw food) by Pamela Druckerman. I’m currently reading “Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer” by Vicki Lesage which is highly entertaining and very funny. All three of them are about Paris, so I can certainly relate to them.



. : : Tovi website & shop : : .




Good Boy Friday

Good Boy Friday
Good Boy Friday
Good Boy Friday High Res
Good Boy Friday
The wonderful and so talented Kellee Bachour from Good Boy Friday answered a few questions about her boys label.

How did you come up with the name?
I was reading and there was a story titled Guy Friday, I thought it was clever and it stuck with me. I thought, what about Boy Friday? – a day for boys, a day to celebrate the gift of little boys. I wanted it to be more personal so I added “good” since my Good Boy is: Gideon Bachour. Gideon’s initials are part of the name.

What is your brand’s mission statement or purpose? Why do you design the way you do?
I wanted to create clothes that are tailored but as comfortable as sweatpants and knit tees. I created an exterior adjustment that looks great and functions well reduces bulk around busy toddler waists and is easy for boys to pull up and down during potty training years.
My focus was also on color. Walking into the boys department always seems dark and limiting, I wanted color, lots of color. Half his closet was dark blue. I believe boys don’t need to be limited in color choices.

Do you have any specific inspirations or motivations in your design? Colors? Other clothing styles? Is there a style decade that you are inspired by?
Every season is inspired by something. It could be a piece of vintage children’s clothes I found or even a children’s book. My eyes and ears are always open; I love feedback from other moms. I’m inspired by the colors of California and the innocence of European children’s clothes.

How did you get started in this industry?
I think I have a story like most mamapreneur’s pursuing children-related businesses.
Pre-baby I worked for a major ad agency but left it to start a family. Two years at home and I was anxious to go back to work. I decided to brush up my resume and took classes from Parsons in fashion in NYC. Looking for work and Gideon started school…I’m obsessed with dressing him and couldn’t find what I was looking for or it wasn’t comfortable to wear or the fit was wrong…. it started with a sketch, then a pattern, a prototype and it just kept going.

How long have you been in the industry? How long has your brand been in the industry?
My son would say one and a half years – don’t forget the half!

What do you have coming up in the future involving your brand that you are excited about?
We just signed with a wonderful showroom in Dallas, so we are looking forward to dressing kids in the south and about to send an order to France to introduce good boy friday to Europe as well as growing our market in Australia.
The line will grow in total styles offered as well as the size range.

Thank you Kellee and I can tell you those skinny pants are ace, my son has them and he looks so cool.
Another must have are the “salopette” shorts – the cutest!

To get here!


Interview with Julie from Famille Summerbelle

Hi Julie, please tell us a bit about you and your family!

Well, I am of French origin and my husband is English. We live just outside of Paris and spend most of our time working between Paris and London. I studied Fine Art in Paris, moving to the UK to study Theatre Set Design at St Martins. We started Famille Summerbelle three years ago following the arrival of our first child Ophelia. It is in every sense a family business.

How did you come up with the idea of Famille Summerbelle?

Famille Summerbelle was created by a combination of desire and need. While pregnant with Ophelia I decided that a career in Theatre Set Design might be problematic with a young family (long unsociable hours), so decided that I needed to do something where I could create from home – and in my own time! As I was spending an increasing amount of time at home, I felt more and more inspiration in designing for the space around me – in particular creating an interesting and stylish space for Ophelia. So it started there…

And how do you combine family life and running your own company? What is the biggest challenge?

It’s very difficult – particularly now that we have two. I have become very skilled at extracting the most out of snatched half hours! The greatest challenge is to find time for thinking, inspiration and creating. Most of my spare time over the last year has needed to be focussed on just running the business. Something we’re going to change this year.

What are the future plans for Famille Summerbelle?

More products! I want to spend more time designing, and we have a whole bunch of new products that we’ll be introducing throughout the year. We‘re also going to launch a French site this year.I saw some pictures of your home on your blog/ website? Do you like to decorate and what inspires you?

I’m obsessed with interior design! My mum – who has a fantastic sense of style – has been a huge inspiration, plus I get a lot from our travels, magazines and of course the blogging community. My big ambition is to build my own home – something we’d like to do sooner rather than later…

You write a blog as well, how does it support your business?

Our blog – being part of that community – is absolutely vital to our business. We spend almost nothing on advertising, preferring by far the honest, supportive, collaborative relationships we’ve built through the blog. It also encourages me to find new products, styles and designers, who we then feature.What is your favourite book?
I really don’t have one in particular. I read so many design books – my favourite right now are the Japanese design books published by Edition Paumes.

Thank you Julie!

{by the way… I would not mind a little house swap with the Summerbelle family…hihi}


Meet Joel Henriques

Made by Joel is one of my favourite blogs. Lots of inspiration. Simple yet surprising.
If you follow the blog you surely noticed that Joel is a very busy man with lots of projects.
As I like to feature blogs, the people who write them and great ideas on my own blog I did a tiny tiny mini interview with Joel.

P & P: You are a very busy man with a blog, your art, a book and lots of projects for various brands and shops… wow…. And in the beginning you were a “stay at home dad” who had a few hours to keep on with his art… how is that now? How do you do it all? Ok, lots of Qs in one but really… what is the recipe?

J: In short, I work really fast. Also, a lot of the “work” I do involves the kids; making toys with them etc. So it’s nice that I get to play with them and work at the same time.

P & P: What are YOUR plans for the future?

J: Just keep making more art, toys, music… – I love all of it.

P & P: I guess that a lot of toys in your house are *Made by Joel*, do you go out and buy toys as well? Please chare your favourite toys!

J: We do buy a lot of art supplies. My daughter loves to paint. Also, we buy a lot of Lego. I have a good collection from when I was a child, and it’s also my son’s favorite thing to do. So yes, we buy lots of paint and Lego.

Thank you very much Joel! Looking forward to see what you have for us in 2011.

Last week I made these cool Nesting dolls I found on the blog. Fun and so easy that even my sewing skills were enough. KleinA loves them, actually he cannot stop laughing when I take them out, which means I take them with me when we go out. Just in case… my emergency helper now. And KleinR likes to play with them and see her brother laugh.

Made by Joel.

Made by Paul & Paula.


Interview with Mandy from Belle and Boo

Being a big fan of Belle and Boo, I am very happy to share an interview I had with Mandy.
Mandy set up Belle and Boo in June 2007 (same month my daughter was born) in a tiny one bedroom flat in London (same city – not place – my daughter was born). In 2008 her good friend Kate joined her to do the business part of the ever growing company.
In case you do not know Belle and Boo yet, see their website including shop and/or check their etsy shop as well.
Be careful… everything is so cute and charming you cannot resist… I bet!

A little intro please !
Hello my name is Mandy.I run a business called Belle and Boo with my friend Kate. I think the best way to describe it is a children’s lifestyle brand, we sell art prints, clothes, cushions, stationery etc featuring my illustrations of children.

Who inspired you to do what you do? Maybe somebody from your family?
Probably my dad. He is a brilliant technical drawer and always helped me with my art projects at school. Once he came in and helped my primary school class all make elephant masks, they were really amazing I remember feeling very proud.

What is the biggest challenge in your profession ?
Finding time to do new art work & art work that I want to do specifically, the busier and more successful the business becomes the more other non creative work is generated. I do have a team of people to help with this but your opinion, input is still needed, I find myself at a lot of meetings!

What influences your work?
Life, I see children doing sweet stuff all the time, from stories my friends tell me about their kids, from my favourite books, the internet and day dreaming.

And what are your current inspirations?
I love finding new illustrators, that are actually old illustrators if you know what I mean, vintage illustration is my biggest influence & I love discovering a new artist.

You write a blog as well, how does it support your business?
I think/hope it shows a little about my personality, I try to keep it very upbeat and positive, but I assure you I have bad, boring days like everyone else. It promotes new products and lets people know about events Belle & Boo will be attending. It also keeps me in touch with like minded people.

Where would you like to live?
Anywhere I am up for offers!

What are the future plans for Belle & Boo, I know you started with some cute dresses and there is more coming for this Autumn/ Winter season… what else would you like to realize?
Our next big project is a Belle & Boo story book, well actually a series of them and then if they are successful, Belle & Boo animations.

Do you remember your first sale? What was it and how was the feedback?
My first sale was about 10 mins after I uploaded my first picture onto Etsy, I thought I had done something wrong (computers not being my strong point at the time) and was so excited when I realised it had disappeared from the shop because it had been bought. The feedback was great and the customer still shops with Belle and Boo to this day 4 years on.

Which trend annoys you?
I am not a big fan of personalisation.

Thank you so much Mandy, a big honour to have you on my little blog and share your words with my readers!

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