Coolest Rooms Ever!

Need a moment of distraction? Here are some of the coolest rooms ever to start your week off…

Best Bedrooms For Grown Ups (well kind of…)

Seems to be a bit of an obsession going around of bringing water into the bedroom….

aquarium bedroom

And then there is the ultimate mix of grown up and childishness hiding within it – just nuts!

waterslide bedroom

 

Love the idea of a swing in the bedroom – great spot to read!

swing in bedroom

Best Bedrooms For Kids

Honestly, what more could you ask for as a kid?

boat bed kids

Or maybe we could just bring outside, inside!

treehouse bedroom kids

Best Bathroom

As we mentioned, there is a bit of a pool obsession happening at the moment…

pool bathroomOr you could just have a very creative bathroom sink…

fish tank sink

But we think this one is definitely stand out!

round tub

Best Kitchen

This one has to take the prize – it’s like having a bar in your house.

circular kitchen

And for the ultimate in good use of space – a vertical herb garden!

herb garden

Best Home Office

Got a bit of space to work with? Then here’s something to create an awe inspiring workspace!

library office

If you’re short on space, this close the door and forget about it home office will make you feel a little bit special.

closet office

Happy Friday!

Need an Adventure? 5 Super Cool Out-of-the-Way Places to Add to Your Bucket List

1. Cycle in Death Valley, California

It’s hot. It’s dry. And you’d have to be a little bit insane to do it. But we know some people who have and loved it.  Take a trip to somewhere completely off-the-beaten-track and ride a bike. No, we’re not joking. We probably should be. In Death Valley, you can take yourself below sea level (one of the few places in the world you can do this where you’ll actually sweat instead). A definite adventure that is not for the faint hearted.

2. Lose yourself in the Yukon, Canada

With a population of around 30,000 and an area of land about the size of Spain, this is one place you don’t have to be concerned about bumping into someone you know. You’re more likely to be worried about bumping into, well, anyone. One of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, take a dog sled ride or experience 24 hour daylight. Definite must visit, if for only the sake of saying you’ve been there.

3. Take a cruise to Antarctica

First thing – it’s not cheap. Second thing – it’s damn cold. Third thing – how super cool would this be?? Imagine getting to see, in person, an environment relatively untouched and witnessing nature up close. This is a trip that you’ll talk about forever. You could probably even put it on your CV it’s that good. Oh, and did we mention you can go on a diving expedition? If you really have to take it to the extreme level, the option is definitely available!

4. Visit a Volcano in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia

Well, for those of you that prefer warmer climates, this might just be something bordering on crazy! Mount Merapi is the most active of all of the volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire and did some serious damage a few years back. Now, however, you can get up (relatively) close and personal via a 4 wheel drive tour so it’s on our list as a definite possibility.

5. Go on the Saami Reindeer Migration, Norway

No, Santa is not coming. But you certainly can attend! If you’re lucky of course – only 12 people get to go on this insane journey every year with a team of herders – you’ll find yourself completely self sufficient armed with your skidoo and sledge working as part of the team to get the reindeer to their summer grazing area. What an experience!

In the Best Light – Taking Brilliant Product Photos

Got a great product? You know you do, but how do you show it in the best light? Here are some tricks of the trade to get your product photos from good to great – and not too much hard work required! No need for a professional photographer here! With a few tips and tricks, the Gouniq how-to guide will have you taking brilliant shots in no time…

white tripodStep 1: Get a white trifold
What’s a white trifold you ask? Put simply, it’s a piece of white cardboard folded in three. This will help bounce the light off. White is the best background to use with most products because it helps your product really stand out.

If your product is a home décor item, a piece of clothing or jewellery, take photos in their natural environment (eg: prints in frames hanging on a wall) as well as on their own. This will give the viewer an idea of how the item will look in their home/on their body as well as a good indication of how it will look when they unwrap it. No surprises!

Step 2: Take photos in daylight
Using a flash is a no-no. It can change the colors of your product, wash them out and often give your photos a slightly blue tinge, which is exactly what you don’t want.

Step 3: Use a tripod to hold the camera
Using natural light means that the shutter speed on your camera will need to be slower. This being the case, it will take longer for the camera to focus and you’ll find it difficult to stop your hands from shaking. So, a tripod is the solution.

cameraStep 4: Set the camera up properly
You’ll need to explore the functions of your camera so if you’ve filed your manual away, do try to dig it up! A couple of this to consider here:

  • Use the auto setting (on some cameras, this is the ‘P’ setting)
  • Turn the flash off – Set it to a detailed setting (generally called ‘fine’ on most cameras)
  • Adjust the shutter speed (the most light comes through when set at 1)
  • Adjust the aperture (this allows more light in – best settings for product photos are F8/F11/F16)
  • Set a timer (2 seconds should do it)
  • If you have a camera with multiple lenses, use a lens that has a narrower view (50mm)

P.S. If you can’t find the manual, do a search online – most manuals have been uploaded by the manufacturer or someone who couldn’t find theirs either.

Step 5: Take multiple photos at different angles
This will give the viewer the chance to really get a good idea of the product and show the detail at varying angles. It will also allow you to pick and choose those photos that show your product off. Don’t forget to take some close ups too! You might not like to have them of yourself, but your products will love them.

Step 6: Get some photo editing software
There are plenty of free photo editing software options available online. A couple of examples are Irfanview and Picassa, although if you’re willing to shell out for it, Lightroom 5 is a really good tool too. You’ll be able to modify your photos easily and quickly to get them looking fabulous and ready for upload.

And there you have it! An easy guide to taking some brilliant shots that will help show your products in the best possible light. Happy snapping!

Make This Your Pretty Year! Current Trends For Your Wardrobe

Fashion 2014 is shaping up to be the year of pretty, any way you look at it. Here are some key looks that will give your outfits that perk up they desperately need, and see you stepping out in style. Sometimes all it takes is adding a few new pieces to your wardrobe to bring it hurtling into the 21st century.

fazane malikThe slim cut top

Gouniq’s Fazane Malik has nailed this. It’s about simplicity and a good cut that can take you from day to evening in a flash. Finally, a versatile (and dare we say it, functional) wardrobe item! We’re talking about luxurious fabrics here, like this stunner in silk, a slight detail and block colours that go well with just about everything. Simplicity is key, ladies!

Current trends: soft, feminine with slight detail.

fazane malik trousers

The classic trouser

We love the classic trouser. Pair it with flats or heels, a fabulous slim cut top and you’re ready to go! They don’t have to be ridiculously fitted (no one wants to see EVERYTHING…), just well tailored. Whether they’re black or print, a block colour on top will make for a truly elegant look.

Current trends: elegant, tailored cut

navy box pleat skirt

The box pleat skirt

This lovely beauty cuts off just below the knee and works well for most body types. That being said, just be careful it’s not been cut for a 6ft model otherwise it goes from subdued sexy to sadly frumpy in a flash. Never a good look so it’s something to look out for. Who knew navy blue could be so sexy!

Client London pencil skirt

If you really know that this look is not going to work – stick to the tried, true and always stunning pencil skirt. It works for pretty much every body shape and will have you feeling like you belong on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, not that overcrowded rush hour train. This Client London number will be a perfect fit.

Current trends: navy, subdued patterns and sparing florals

And the finishing touches?

Well… we just have to complete the outfit with a key piece of jewellery. And since we have so many fabulous pieces on Gouniq, it’s a hard task to choose which works, but when you do, choose something that reflects the real you. It will make your outfit truly yours.

Current trends: own the outfit with a bit of bling that fits your style!

 

I’m Sorry, You Want to Buy Something from Me?

Continuing on with our third post to help you turn your creative outlet into a business, it’s time to turn your attention to your potential market. These are the buyers who will be looking for those fab products you create so it’s a good idea to take a moment to think about them as individuals and groups so you can figure out the best way to get your creations in front of them.

When thinking about your potential market, there are 3 key questions you should think about when setting up online:

  1. Who are they?
  2. Where are they?
  3. How can I reach them?

1. Who are they?

Trying to figure out who your potential buyer is can seem like a daunting task. It’s not! Sometimes, there may be several potential buyers you want to target so it’s important to sit down and try to understand them a little bit better. To do this, we create a buyer persona, a profile of sorts that can assist in learning a bit about them, their likes and dislikes. Once you have this information, you focus on figuring out where you can find them online.

Here is a list of some of the information you may wish to put together to form a buyer persona:

  • Age range
  • Profession
  • Likes
  • Interests

Putting it simply, this involves putting yourself in their shoes. It’s a chance to be creative, to step outside your comfort zone and really try to understand them. Use your imagination! This is a great opportunity to try to figure out a bit about them and try to understand what they’re interests may be. Ask yourself these questions: What are they searching for? What are they interested in? Where would they be looking? When creating your buyer personas, the list above can help you get started but remember, there are lots of other elements that you’ll find as you go. This is about getting to know your customer so you can figure out the best avenues to pursue to help them find your product.

2. Where are they?

So armed with your buyer persona (or multiple) the next task is to jump online and figure out where you can find your potential customer.

Some suggestions include:

  • Forums
  • Groups
  • Social networking sites eg: Facebook, Twitter
  • Blogs
  • Social media sites eg: YouTube

There are heaps of other options to explore in the real world environment too. Markets, for example, are a great way to gauge interest and see the types of people first hand who are attracted to your product.

Searching for networks relevant to your buyer personas can give you a good idea of where your target market is looking for advice and direction to find products like yours. This will allow you to see how they use online communities to access information while discovering more about their interests.

By adding this information to your buyer persona/s, you will have a more complete picture of your future customer. Remember, this is an evolving process, and as new technologies come into play, you can alter them accordingly.

One tool that is particularly useful is the hub and spokes model which we’ve included a diagram of below. This presents a clear picture of how everything links together so you can visualize the available options. Those included aren’t all that are available and every product is different so your model may very well look different to the one we’ve shown. Regardless, it’s a very useful tool for visualizing all the different avenues you might venture into.

Hub and spoke model

One suggestion though – don’t limit yourself. You should use multiple avenues to showcase your product – you’ll have a better chance at getting in front of people by utilizing a range of avenues.

3. How can I reach them?

Next up, its time to think about the approach. No one likes being hounded for a purchase so its important to try to find a way to get in front of people without being too pushy. How do you do this? Add value. By adding value, you are teaching your potential customers a skill, providing them with something they need without the expectation of getting something in return. And that is great for developing your reputation as both knowledgeable in your field and as someone who is willing to lend a hand. This is about building a relationship. When you don’t throw in the sales, people are more receptive of the information you provide and more likely to keep you in mind when the need for a product like yours arises.

Adding value can be achieved through avenues such as forum participation, creating a blog with helpful hints, creating ‘how-to’ videos – there are a multitude of possibilities.

Every business is different, every product is different. As your work changes, so will your potential buyers so don’t forget to revisit the personas and add as required. Like your work, they are evolving!

So now we have the foundations! That’s the difficult part taken care of – next up, we’re putting it all together so you have a useful and practical plan that you can implement and get your product out to the masses (or at least the niche you are trying to access!)

Got specific questions? Let us know – we’re here to help! We are passionate about creativity, uniqueness and sometimes it’s useful to bounce ideas so feel free to drop us an email at Amanda@gouniq.com and we’ll help steer you in the right direction.

Decluttering time? You bet it is!

Still got boxes in the garage since you moved in? Yeah, we know that feeling. Feel like your house has become a replica of one of those Storage Wars sheds? No, we haven’t read your mind! The change of season brings with it a time for decluttering and we at Gouniq want to help you get a handle on your out-of-control need for saving EVERYTHING and turn your home into the haven you’ve always wanted it to be. So here’s your essentials guide on undertaking a mass cleanse of your home and starting fresh…

Start with the Worst Room in the House

It can only get better if you start with that one room that really drives you nuts, the one you shut the door on in hope that the cleaning fairies will take a shine to you in the night and fix this baby for you!storage boxes Sorry to inform you, but they don’t exist. It’s probably time to accept the fact that you are going to have to deal with those boxes, that clutter, all those items you hold so dear to your heart that you can’t bear to part with them (really? You need that second copy of that Maeve Binchy book??).

Our suggestion: pick the room that does your head in so much you have tried to forget it exists.

Be Ruthless

Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, you may start to tear up when you see your 4th grade photos and remember your crush on that kid in the second row. But seriously, if they saw the state of this room, they’d run the other way anyway – so what do you have to lose???

You can have a little fun with this. It is possible. If you haven’t looked/needed/thought about something for a year, you probably don’t need it. If you haven’t for 3 years, you definitely don’t. That means throwing out those mix tapes you made in high school and accepting the fact that Run DMC is now available on MP4 or some variation. And you don’t even own a cassette player. You’re not going to get one. Admit it. You’ll feel better.

Another thing to remember – you don’t need multiple of things. One is usually enough! Unless you have a twin unknown to you, you’re going to be okay throwing one set of something away. If for some strange reason, you find yourself needing it 10 years down the track, you can make a duplicate. Chances are, it’s not going to happen.

Humans are strange creatures. We associate memories with material objects. This is the point where you let go of the artwork you created at age 4 and concentrate on what you’re creating today. Unless you want to frame it and hang it on your wall, you can let it go.

Our suggestion: see this as a cleansing exercise. This is you, today, not five years ago, not ten years ago. Live in the moment.

Go Slowly

This stuff has been piling up for years. If you try to get through it all at once, you’ll walk away and leave it for another time – probably in three years time when you decide you’ve outgrown your space. We’re talking about getting through the task slowly. Take a moment to walk to your calendar. For every second Sunday afternoon for the next two months, block out some time to get the next stage decluttering done. You’re more likely to finish the job if you space it out and give yourself a chance to digest the emotional loss you may be experiencing at parting with items you’ve considered to be family for such a long time. Plus, it will give you a chance to see the change slowly taking place which, in turn, will make you want to get back into it to get the job done. Oh, and your trash bin will now be empty so there’s plenty of room for a fresh batch of stuff to be disposed of.

Our suggestion: Take your time, it’s not going anywhere. Just make sure it gets done.

Have a Yard Sale

So you feel less like you made a bad purchasing decision (you’re going through enough already on yard saleaccount of this decluttering process, no need to berate yourself further!), consider putting aside items that could be passed on and holding a yard sale at the end of the decluttering process. This will give you a chance to recoup some of the moving costs you incurred shifting this stuff from the last place you lived. Not to mention it might make the whole ‘letting go’ process more bearable if you know that someone else may treasure something you held so closely to your heart for such a long, long time.

Our suggestion: Share the love with your neighborhood and hold a yard sale.

So there you have it – some hints and tips to get your home back to the spacious, bright and airy space it was when you viewed it before your stuff arrived. It is possible, with a little bit of commitment and a ruthlessness towards hoarding of items you really don’t need. Sometimes its easier to think about an item from another’s perspective – how would they see this chipped teacup? As a reminder of that time you hit you head on the dining table at your future mother-in-law’s trying to pick it up after you spilt the tea on your favourite sun dress? You be the judge….

 

Happy decluttering!

Snapshot – Karin McKay, English Rose Cosmetics

 

ER logo

Born out of necessity, English Rose Cosmetics is the perfect example of a brand created to fill a need – both in terms of market and creator Karin McKay’s search for a new, fulfilling career. With a background in cosmetic manufacturing, Karin found a way to bring her ideal product to life. With glamorous packaging and a product that actually works, English Rose Cosmetics is one brand you really need to watch out for! Gouniq had the chance to speak with Karin to see how it all began…

Gouniq: So, how did you get started in this business?

Karin: Back in December 2011, I was at a crossroads. I needed to figure out where I wanted to take myself next which, as anyone knows, is no easy task. I’d spent a large chunk of my life working in the cosmetics manufacturing industry and I was looking for a new beginning.

ERC006 Helena__1397481398_76.67.99.19The whole thing happened like that proverbial flash of lightening. I was browsing in a cosmetic and perfumery shop, and I got to thinking how uninspiring the packaging was. I mean, these were high-end brands and the packaging was as dull as all get up! Then it came to me. I had all this knowledge about skin physiology, what ingredients work, so I thought, why not create a product that works and looks fabulous on your dressing table? So, I sat down and got to work. Then, in August 2012, I took my first products to Spitafields, a London market.

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Gouniq: You’ve obviously worked really hard to develop your brand. Can you tell us a little about why you chose this theme?

Karin: During the 1940s, Britain was at war and life was really tough. Women had to band together to keep everything going with most of the men away. Despite this, and because of this, there was asense of positivity, with everyone banding together for the larger cause. I really wanted the English Rose Cosmetics brand to reflect this period and so I created a young woman whom I called ‘Rose’, typical of this period. The idea of Rose is her typical English Rose girl next door type who was trying to make the most of her looks with limited resources.

The product had to look glamorous, be affordable, and most of all, do what it claims to do! In 1940s war time Britain, anything other than the basics for living were luxury items. So the product had to reflect this.

Gouniq: Tell us a little about your product.

Karin: My focus is to create a product that looks great on the dressing table in your room but actually works! That’s where my prior knowledge comes in. I know all about ingredients, about skin physiology, the chemistry of it, so I work hard to make sure the English Rose Cosmetics products
really work.

Pro ERC002

I wanted to take women back to when cosmetics products were a luxury. Where you felt special and treasured these ‘treats’. And since cosmetics products are abound, it had to stand out in its own right, look the part on your dressing table and I am adamant that the contents of each package fulfils everything it says it does.

Gouniq: What do you love most about what you do?

Karin: I love hearing the feedback from customers. It really is a great thing when someone tells me how much they love the product, the packaging, how it makes them feel like they have a little pot of gold in their collection. A bit of luxury reminiscent of the positivity that existed throughout this difficult period in time.

Gouniq: And the most challenging?

english rose

Karin: That would definitely have to be the packaging! If you’re not ordering on a massive scale,sourcing packaging you can access on a smaller scale is a difficult task. I like to think I’ve chosen the best I can from what is available. I’ve spent a great deal of effort on creating the look of the product and while it was a challenge, I love the end result. Most importantly, I know my customers do too!

Gouniq: Creating a brand is a rather overwhelming task and often there is a steep learning curve. Was there anything during the creation of your brand that required you to dig a bit deeper and develop new skills?

Karin: First and foremost, self-belief, motivation and an ability to communicate your vision of the brand effectively are necessary skills that you must develop. Without them, it just do

Pro 1-4 (1)

esn’t work! Wearing lots of different hats is also required – you can’t spend all your time on just one element of the product. This means being organized is one of those things that can’t be avoided – you need to learn how to most effectively use time.

I believe it’s also really important to connect with the customer and I chose the avenue of attending markets and vintage pop up shows so I could reach potential customers that way. It also gave me a chance to promote my product. For me, this worked really well as customers who purchased English Rose Cosmetics at these venues then found me online and made further purchases.

Also, I’ve had to learn how to use social media to reach new customers. This is definitely a continuous learning process!

Gouniq: Where do you see your brand heading into the future?

Karin: I’d love to branch out into other products and really develop the English Rose line. I have a few ideas I’m playing with although these are further down the track. In the meantime, my goal is to increase the number of products within the English Rose Cosmetics line and continue to grow my brand.

We know we’ll see great things from Karin and English Rose Cosmetics. To see her full product range, visit her store at EnglishRoseCosmetics and add a bit of glamour to your dressing table!

A huge thank you to Karin for taking the time to participate in the Gouniq Snapshot interview.

Got something we should be talking about? Email amanda@gouniq.com and let us know!

Mother’s Day – Be the Apple of her Eye

Okay, so she’s there for you. She’s probably been the one constant in your life and while you know you’ve said you love her, sometimes that standard bunch of flowers from your local florist just doesn’t cut it. Do something special for that lovely lady this year and think outside the box! We’ve prepared a Mother’s Day gift guide full of fabulous products to really show your mum what a great job she’s done with raising you – you’re creative, thoughtful and for the first time ever – turn up on Mother’s Day with something other than the usual floral arrangement hastily put together. Believe us, it will look like your siblings didn’t even show up…

las senoritas

The Kitchen Goddess

Some mums just love to feed you. If yours does, show your appreciation with one of these fab aprons from Cherry Pie Couture to make her feel like the sassy and fun lady she still sees herself as. You’ll surprise her with your newly found grown up ability to see her as a human being, not just a laundry attendant.

Wood-stirring-spoonsFor some tools of the trade, check out the Forest Treasures range of kitchen utensils, designed for a lifetime and show your appreciation for her ongoing efforts to produce high quality menus…

restylegraphic

If you think her kitchen could do with a shift into this current century (but obviously can’t tell her directly) one of these unique prints from ReStyleGraphic will definitely do the trick.

 

The Budding Interior Designer

Aqua polyresin pineapple

Does your mum walk into you home and mentally redesign it? Yes, it can be a painful experience (tastes do differ after all) and the constant stream of ‘you could do so much with this space’ does, over time, wear thin. Show her your flair for style with Senay Studio cushions

Senay Studio - Wisteria

featuring fabulous unique designs that will have her telling her guests repeatedly how much her child takes after her…

3f0a3e2604369f307e9a0481ab4c4adff1af970dFor something to surprise her with (if getting an actual present this year isn’t enough),one of these stylish yet functional clocks from Asymmetree will become her most prized piece.

Does your mum love colour? Surprise her with a gorgeous piece from Escape to Paradise! Bright and lively, they will definitely put a smile on her dial.

 

The Queen of Accessories

jet empirestudio duarteIf your mum is one of those lovely ladies with a penchant for bling, then we have some fabulous pieces to make her look sensational. Depending on her style (and take a moment to think about this – does she love color, is she a little more subdued and prefers something simple but unique) Gouniq has a huge range of unique earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces to put a smile on her face and warm her heart (yes, you can take the rest of lunch home for dinner).

wood and colour

These stunning pieces from Jet Empire will definitely please her and go from day to night in a flash. For something subdued yet unique, this gorgeous necklace from Studio DuArte is the perfect piece. Or maybe something really out of the ordinary like this Myfaunaflora necklace.

 

english rose

The Beauty Expert

Take her back a time where glamour and beauty were the epitome of style. English Rose Cosmetics brings a level of femininity to her cosmetics counter – and the product is brilliant too! A chance for you to treat her to something really special.

upliftIf you’re mum is one of those lovely ladies who is always taking about antioxidants, vitamins and so on, check out the Uplift Skincare range, made with flower essences and other lovely nature based extracts.

So grab your calendar and surprise your mum this Mother’s Day by remembering Sunday May 11. Believe us, she’ll even bypass forgetting to buy the card…

 

Snapshot – Daniel Cohen, the Arts Market

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When we shop we’re looking for an experience right? With stores abound, we’re spoilt for choice and these days, we’re a little more selective. Whether it’s online or real world, we want the experience, we want access to unique products and we want to browse in our own time without some sales assistant breathing down our neck. That’s where Toronto’s Arts Market comes in.

During our trip to Toronto, Gouniq’s Amanda Gaal caught up with Daniel Cohen, founder of the Arts Market to talk about how he made it work, what he’s learnt and how he managed to create a unique space for artisans to display their work and make it accessible to the Toronto market.

A Bit of Background…picture 1
The Arts Market was started back in 2011, with a warehouse space in Leslieville. After many years of travel, Daniel returned to Toronto and was seeking a place where he could sell his work. While a few existed, the focus of these markets wasn’t on the artist, and they were always considered side issues, never the full focus. Realizing that there were other artists in the same boat, Daniel created the Arts Market, where artists can have their own space to show their product and get their work out to the people of Toronto. With a recent second store opening on the other side of town, Daniel has managed to create something special at the Arts Market.

Gouniq: So how did you get started in this?

Daniel: A while back, I lived in Sydney for just under four years and during that time I really started to work on my art. I found the Glebe Market which was a great avenue to get my product out there and make some sales doing what I love. For an artist, it was a very valid option. I spent seven years travelling the world and everywhere I went, I found there were always similar avenues available to sell my art. When I returned home to Toronto, I couldn’t really find any similar opportunities where the artist was the focus. Where as an artist, you really fit. For what is available, they’re not consistent and no one can survive on two events a year. And so I decided to start the Arts Market.
picture 3Initially, the Arts Market was set up as a weekend market. It worked really well, but what I found was that it wasn’t enough to keep the artisans busy and generate enough sales. The local community also expressed their interest in the Arts Market and made comments like ‘we need you to be open more, I can’t get the chance to get in to see you’. Listening to the feedback from artisans and hearing the neighborhood ask for more, we changed the Arts Market model. And we’ve not stopped changing. Within the Arts Market, the artist manages the space, how it looks, and how much effort they put into making it look attractive to the buyer. Essentially, they run their own business and we assist with their sales. We’ve tailored the Arts Market to make it sure that it works for Toronto, our local community and our artists. When a new artist comes on board, we sit down together to get to know each other. I find this is crucial in building an honest relationship – it helps us understand each other and so the process is transparent.

Gouniq: Any start up is difficult. What were some of the difficulties you faced and how did you manage them?

Daniel: I grew up in a house where my dad was an entrepreneur so when you’re in that environment, you naturally pick up skills. I watched him at work and this has really helped me with the Arts Market. I don’t have a formal background in business, so my experience comes from life itself and I picture 2make sure I utilize this experience to the fullest. I am very fortunate to have a great support group around me, my family, my friends, the artists and I’ve definitely put in a lot of work to get it to where it is today. So it hasn’t been easy. There has been a great deal of work involved but its something I am passionate about so believe me, I’m very happy to do it.

I am surrounded by a number of great artisans and they provide me with feedback on how to improve the business. I make sure I accept this feedback and implement changes as they need to be. By doing this, I am utilizing their life experiences and the resources around me and I’ve found this has really helped to make the business run more smoothly. So I definitely have a big network of people helping me. It’s a collective effort.

Gouniq: Being able to accept feedback as a positive is not something everyone can do…

Daniel: I’m fully in this and sometimes when you’re so into something, you develop blinkers. So I tell the artists, let me know when there’s something wrong, let me know if there is something that can be improved. I want to make this a success and I’ve learnt that the only way to do this is to be flexible and pay attention to what the artists are saying, to what the public is saying.

picture 5Things can go wrong when you start to shut out suggestions. I realize I need to continue improving both myself and the business, growing and learning. Just because you’ve got a model that appears to be working well doesn’t mean you should become a roadblock to change. I make a conscious effort to make sure I don’t do that. I want to change and grow and see the Arts Market flourish and our artists flourish and this can only happen when you listen and take on board suggestions that others make.

In business, someone is always going to have a suggestion, a better idea, or another way of doing something that may be helpful and I make sure I listen. An example of this is a mural I had painted on the front of our building. I was so excited that I was able to do this however, 2 months in, I was getting feedback that people were struggling to find the building. Definitely not good for business so as much as I loved it, it wasn’t working so I changed it. And there’s been no problem since.

Gouniq: How did you get the Arts Market out to Toronto?

Daniel: For us, its all about the local community so we concentrate all our efforts on making sure our neighborhood knows who we are and that we’re here. I am part of the local community network, and we work hard to ensure The Arts Market is a welcoming environment. There’s no pressure to purchase, and we make sure that people enjoy browsing in their own time. If you buy something, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too. Regardless, we want people to have a great experience while their here.

Through my involvement in the art world, I also make connections that way. We’ve also been fortunate enough to have been written up in a few Toronto publications and that has certainly helped to increase our network and the knowledge that we’re here.

For us at Gouniq, we love that the Arts Market is about creating a community atmosphere and provides an opportunity for artists and designers to show their work as part of a collective, operating in an honest way that is always evolving. It’s a team effort and it’s great to see this alive and thriving.

picture 6So if you’re here in Toronto, we recommend you make the trip to the Arts Market. You’ll love the feel of the space – it’s a good eclectic mix of unique creations and the space really lends itself to creating the right atmosphere to sell the product. At the Arts Market, Daniel has managed to create an environment that is both edgy and comfortable. Make sure you put it on the list of places to visit. It’s well worth a look.

A big thank you to Daniel for taking the time to chat!

You can find the Arts Market at:
Leslieville: 1114 Queen St. East
College: 846 College St at Ossington

Repurpose – the New Way to Recycle

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door building

At Gouniq, we’re big believers in creativity. Repurposing, which is basically adapting an object for a different purpose, is a trend that is taking on a life of its own. It’s an expression of creativity – the ability to see something in an alternate way with a functional undertone. So we sat down, had a bit of a search and found some fabulous ideas where people from all around the world are taking the old and changing it up into something new.

Repurpose is a way of bringing some unique character to your home. Yes, it will probably challenge the standard perceptions and ideas people have but it will definitely be a talking point! Surprise them all with your ability to see outside the perimeters of life and become a visionary of sorts…

tobagganThis is one of our particular favorites – something we’d never thought of doing but it really has potential to bring character to your kitchen while being functional at the same time. Plus, it’s a really cool way to store your pots and pans and free up some cupboard space.

number plates

Number plates go on cars right? Apparently they’re not just reserved for cars. Coming out of Texas is this brilliant idea of using number plates as roof tiles. Now we don’t think you’ve got a stash of these hiding in the back of your garage, but it is seriously clever so we felt the need to share it!

cycle gateAnd most of us have an old bicycle lying around but we bet using it for something like this has never crossed your mind! This is a real work of art.

Here’s a whole slew of possibilities…old skateboards as stairs, leather belts as flooring (hate to imagine how long that took!), window shutters as ceiling features, bicycle fencing, reclaimed wood lounger. There are so many!

repurpose

There’s never been a better time to visit that storage room a.k.a. the garage, basement, attic or shed, see what’s lying about and have a bit of a think about how you could use it in a different way. You never know, your future bedside tables may be right in front of you! All you need is a little creativity…

Creative Workspaces

 

Ever walk into your office or studio and think ‘I really could do more with this space’?. Today we’re looking at a range of different ideas to really help you get the creative juices flowing as soon as you vintage 2step into your workspace. There really are some clever solutions to organizing yourself to help you to be the most productive – you’ll probably surprise yourself!

For those of us obsessed with organisation, this kind of workspace is exactly what we need. Everything in its place so we can find it in a moment, without any need for racking your brain trying to remember where you put it last. Welcome to workspace paradise!

short on spaceWorking with a restriction on space? This is a great idea to get yourself a separate space to work and the best bit is you can shut the door on it and no one would even know!

pink

 

 

Love color? We do too. This one is a sensory treat – bright and lively and definitely designed to maximize creativity.

 

Your office need never look like that dump room in the house again. It is possible, with a Sunday afternoon and some creativity, to turn your workspace into a haven. Think of how much easier it would be to find those tiny bits and pieces and important papers, how all those gorgeous keepsakes and pieces will look when they’re showcased in a clear way. They also add that bit of colour and character too so you’ll never need fear inviting people into your studio again! In fact, you’ll be sending out the invitations…

Creative-Workspaces

 

Your Creative Career – You Are What They See…

This is the second post in our series on turning your creative outlet into a business. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to sit down and really brainstorm your ideas. Getting them down on paper can be really difficult to start with, but it is well worth the effort. You might have found that your ideas are crystalizing – that’s the plan! You can start to get a picture of where and how you might fit, what your niche is, how much it costs to create your product and what potential it may have within the creative marketplace.

Your Brand and Logo

PantoneColorChart_highres

Next up, we should take some time to talk about your online identity. We all know that in the realworld, how people perceive you is really important. That also applies in the online world. Right down to the font you use. We’re not saying that your color palette needs to be conservative, boring and just like what’s already out there. Quite the opposite actually! You need to stand out but you still need to look professional. You can do this yourself too. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to create a logo – use one of your favorite products! With so many tools available online, you can certainly have a go at creating it yourself.

The idea is to create an identity that fits around how you want to be perceived. Have a look at what other people creating similar products have done to both get an idea of what others are doing, and to figure out how you will make yours stand out. What colors can you see that are commonly used? What fonts seem to be prevalent? That will help you to choose something that will show you off. And remember, while the idea is to create something that stands out, it is important to ensure it still looks professional. This is about creating your online identity in the first glance stage.

Putting it into Words

Next, lets turn to your niche market. Where do you fit? In the previous post, we asked you to have a look at others creating similar products. What is it that is so special about yours? Do you have a product that appears to be of a higher quality? Is the level of detail or the design of your product something special? Do you source fabrics that are unusual? The idea here is to find out why someone would buy your product rather than someone else’s. You know what’s great about your product, but you need to educate the viewer to understand what this is. They won’t always know by looking at them on their screen (particularly when you sell online). This is where you throw in the line of ‘each item is lovingly made by hand with the highest attention to detail to ensure the uniqueness of each creation’. Use words that highlight specific details of the product. For example, if you source your materials from France, let your potential buyer know.

Taking Photographs

Then we get to taking professional and polished photos. Unless you have super skills at using your camera phone and are highly proficient in Photoshop, find a digital camera, get the lighting right (use your desk lamp if you need to) and bring out the best in your product. Take photos from various angles. Again, you don’t need to hire someone to do this. Try it out yourself. Spend some time getting it right and it will pay off.

Getting it all Straight

Then put together what you could call a product specification page. For each item, note down:

-       The photos

-       The materials you used

-       The measurements, the weight and size of the item

-       A detailed description of the item

-       How much it cost you to make the item

-       The sale price you’ve decided on

-       How long it took you to make it

This will allow you to keep track of your products and ensure that you have a quick and easy reference guide that you can refer to later on for the details. It might seem like a little extra work, but think of it as a portfolio of sorts. This is a record of your collection, built over time and evolving. It will also allow you to look back at your work and see how your skill has developed over time.

The goal here is to set up the foundations – Post 1 and 2 form a large part of your business plan and work to get you to focus more clearly on your potential business. The next post will help you think about your market and the avenues you could take to access them.

After that, we will look at putting it all together, creating a well rounded strategy to get you started using all the information you’ve put together so far and start to get going on implementing it to take your creative product to the world.

Got specific questions? Let us know – we’re here to help! We are passionate about creativity, uniqueness and sometimes it’s useful to bounce ideas so feel free to drop us an email at Amanda@gouniq.com and we’ll help steer you in the right direction.

One of a Kind Show 2014 Wrap Up

Think carved wooden plates, hand crafted cards, printed cushion covers, lovely scented balms and lotions and all sorts of creative goodies and you’ve got the One of a Kind Show Toronto. It really fabulous to see so many wonderful creations in one place!

With so many great stores (there were around 400 presenters), it was a bit overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, so we began with aisle A and by the time we were at aisle C, we were down $300 but had a few little gems that we’re definitely stand out. Well worth it! After speaking to quite a few sellers, we were trying to figure out why Canada has so many talented and creative individuals and the most common answer – the long winters! With such a brutal winter just past, it’s not surprising there were so many great products on show. So a long winter definitely doesn’t slow creativity!

OOAK-collage

Our standout favorites from the show:

  • Definitely our own Senay Studio  who was receiving a huge amount of attention with her fabulous cushions
  • A gorgeous girl named Christine with her Sugar Soul range of flirty hats in a huge array of colours and designs
  • Artwork by Michele Rose (love the colors, for some reason they make you feel happy!? Weird, yes, but they do)
  • Our new ginger and lemongrass balm from Olive Authentique (smells divine)
  • Art by Noelle Hamlyn (books in frames which look incredible)
  • Some brilliant photographic artwork on wood by Kristensen Smith
  • Jewellery by Cheryl Seung (really unique pieces)
  • Colorful and fun kids clothing by Just Jill
  • From the Blue House soaps and butters (loving the Cocoa and Orange butter)
  • Bowties from Handsome and Lace (seriously, you will look the part)
  • Velvet backed cushions by Phaulet in prints with colors that are bold and fun
  • Leikey Designs with her handmade toys for babies and toddlers
  • Morning Dew Cards featuring unique photos taken by their creator
  • Mitani kids, very cool kids bed linen and accessories

There were so many! For us, it was just like heaven….

 

And We’re Off!

So one lucky Gouniq team member is about to embark on a trip across the seas to Toronto – a gruelling 26 hour process but definitely well worth it! Bags packed – check. Passport – check. No liquids greater than 100ml – you bet. And the lucky winner is…Amanda, our Media guru (or so she likes to think…we’re too scared to tell her otherwise…).

The Gouniq Toronto adventure begins this coming weekend at the One of a Kind Show where we know we’ll be seeing some fabulous creators with unique products. After that, Amanda will be heading out to interview some really cool people who know a lot about art and the creative world and we’ll be bringing you these interviews as they happen on our blog. Never know what you might learn!

The trip progress will be posted on Facebook and Twitter so don’t forget to check in!

 

 

Express Yourself! Taking art to the streets

 

child

While we all know that creativity comes in all forms, street art can often be subject to the eye of the beholder. What works for you, might not work for someone else. Then again, that’s what makes us unique and at Gouniq, we’re all about celebrating that uniqueness. It’s what makes life fun and interesting, after all.

fence view

Today’s blog is a snapshot of street art we can’t argue about – they really are works of art. We think it’s amazing that people can create such depth in their work on uneven surfaces, in those difficult to reach places (think Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – no wonder he put so many angry faces on those angels, he had a sore neck!) and bring their art to the masses. What do we get from these works of art? The element of surprise, color to inspire you on a cold, grey day, and a real sense of community that highlights the talents of the residents. Pure gold…

pianostreet

While not all as controversial as Banksy, street art provides many artists with an opportunity for self expression and a chance for others to be exposed to their work and particularly where the medium is not a traditional one, this can be a pretty difficult task to achieve. The solution…take it to the streets!

The only question this poses though – okay, so you’ve put in countless watering girlhours getting your piece completed, and your work is about to be subjected to the onslaught of that a-law-unto-herself Mother Nature – why do street artists still do it??! There could only be one reason – for a love of art. Although the transient nature of it could also be part of the appeal – a fleeting moment to make an impression on someone that they carry with them, beyond the lifespan of the art…

frog

So the next time you walk past a building featuring a great piece – take a photo! The only certainty is that it may not be there tomorrow so capture the moment.  Oh, and say a little prayer that it doesn’t rain too soon so more people can enjoy it…