The Creative Stories Project: Hello 2016!

Vik, Iceland. 09/2015                                                                                 

Vik, Iceland. 09/2015                                                                                

How is it 2016 already? I still can't believe it. As much as I wanted to share another duo of immense talent, I felt that I had to reserve January's post for a reflection on the past year, and my hopes for the next. 

2015 was a good year for me-- I traveled more, my business grew, I met interesting people, I finally started this project after letting it swim around in my head for months, and grew more confident as a result. The Creative Stories Project was purely a personal endeavor when it first popped up because I desperately wanted to meet other creatives. To learn about how they tackled the life of entrepreneurship (and sometimes while juggling a day job, like me) or the creative process, where they saw their work in the world, what their hopes and dreams were, how they competed in the world of small business when it can be so overwhelming.  And while it certainly still is a very personal project, I'm hoping that you, the reader, will also learn something, find inspiration (or your next favorite maker), and enjoy meeting people who put so much into their work. 

I'm not one for resolutions but I do have many goals for the year, both personally and professionally. I want to see even more of the world. I want to write a letter to someone I love each month of the year. I want to start exercising because sometimes when you're cramming work into every hour of the day it falls by the wayside (and the snugness of my pants will prove it). I want to be more present. And I definitely want to focus on taking on more photography work that brings me the most joy and happiness but also challenges me. This project is going to give me that and I'm so grateful I have readers who care and creatives who are willing to give me some of their precious time. So, thank you!

Here's to a kickass 2016!

*I am always looking for creatives to feature, so please please please send over information on makers/movers/shakers you think should get the spotlight treatment here (note: they must be presently residing in (or around) the Chicago or Atlanta areas). Shoot me an email at: or click the Email Me tab above. 

The Creative Stories Project: Hearth and Hammer in Batavia/Chicago, Illinois

The second installment of The Creative Stories Project is up! I'm so excited to announce December's makers and Land of Lincoln natives, Annie and Andy of Hearth & Hammer, a duo of crazy talent, and creators of  literature-inspired scented candles. Not only do Annie and Andy have the cutest house (just wait!), they also have killer products and awesome personalities to match. They were nice enough to let me come to their home and learn about the process to share here, so enjoy! 

December's Spotlight: Hearth & Hammer

Upon my arrival at Annie and Andy's little bungalow in Batavia, Illinois, I was immediately welcomed with smiles and offerings of fresh coffee from the french press. Annie and Andy are easygoing, soft spoken, and full of midwestern hospitality. Good people, end of story. 

Annie gave me a tour of her studio while we chatted about the events that led to the creation of Hearth & Hammer.

 Annie started making candles while dabbling in a whole lot of DIY for her wedding to Andy, her high school sweetheart (cue the awws), a few years ago. Homemade candles, she said, were the favor of choice for guests even though she didn't know much about the process. After a realization that she really enjoyed making them, she began experimenting with new scents to gift to friends and family. Wanting to be unique, Annie decided to create scents based on her favorite classics, thus combining her love of literature and candle making. Once she saw some success, she moved onto selling at a vintage and craft market of sorts in her hometown and Hearth &  Hammer was born.

Annie works in a small room on the ground floor of their home. It's sparsely decorated, except for small prints for inspiration and an old door that's been crafted into a desk. The space is light and airy and conducive to productivity.

Andy, a graphic designer by trade, is the brains behind H&H's beautiful branding. From the logo, to the site display, to each individual candle label, Andy's your man. Seriously, he's good. Just take a look at their website: Swoon worthy. What's more, you can see the branding is 100% authentic and reflected in their home/work space, with rooms elegantly furnished with the perfect vintage goods and old books obtained during their travels around the midwest. It's a brand I absolutely want to get behind. 

Small town charms. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with Annie and Andy and strongly encourage readers to procure some of their limited edition holiday scents before they're gone. For a complete list of stockists, visit:, and pick one up for everyone you know (Christmas IS just around the corner). 

Shop Hearth & Hammer: