I've been thinking a lot lately about the direction of both this blog (which actually needs a direction!) and the business. And of coarse myself. So much has changed since I moved back to Toronto, and to be perfectly honest with you, it's not all good. So I took some time to find my direction again, to find myself again, to fall back in love with my life. This is that story. Not a story about Trolls (I'm sorry but that is coming later), but a story about hitting the pause button and rebranding a life and a business, not in a new direction but in it's proper direction. (and as I now actually finish I realize how freaking long it is so I've broken it into 3 parts - seriously who knew I had so much to say on the topic)
But before I share the new thunderpeep, you should probably know a bit about how it all started. Let's start with this awesome photo at the top. Because it's a glimpse into the core of this story, the moments in time that brought us to today. This is also a glimpse into one of my truly nerdy habits. I'm a planner. But not a daily schedule kind of planner. I'm a large scale, take over the world kind of planner. Epic plans. Like the journal in the photos.
I remember sitting on that train between Turku and Tampere, thinking about all I'd taken in the past 2 days. I found Turku to be one of the most creatively inspiring places I've been. Yes they have a great art gallery there, but it's the creative culture that inspired me. This trip was before Etsy really exploded, so the idea that creative makers could do their own thing and make a living of it was still a pretty foreign concept to me. But in Turku this concept seemed to be thriving. They encourage it, they teach it, it's a part of their long history. A creative business isn't a foreign concept there. We all know and love Marimekko, but in Turku there was a handful of adorable smaller shops along one of the main shopping streets in the downtown that were also 100% Finnish designers. Aarikka and Klo Design were 2 of my absolute favourites. They both embodied that clean, organic and functional Finnish design sense that I loved. And while they are also on the international scene, they are still deeply rooted in their culture, they are still very much Finnish companies, designing and producing in their own country. I was in love with this concept. Of designing, and constructing and creating and bringing it all together under one Canadian roof. They weren't just jewellery shops or bag shops or clothing shops. They were houses of design. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to design around all the weird little stories in my head and make them into something that made your life happier, without a massive imprint on the planet. Just because an item has a function, doesn't mean it has to look boring (you all know IKEA, this is the same concept just way better - sorry IKEA, I do still really like you)
I always loved the scandinavian celebration of Midsummer and the mythology of those long dark polar nights with the aura roaring high overhead. So I built my first thunderpeep collections around those 2 events. Those first 2 illustrations - Midsummer Dreams and The Ice Castle are still pretty popular sellers too. I imagined these 2 collections a year, with illustrations and stories playing out over all sorts of materials. Paper goods were the easiest medium to start with, so there were prints and cards and a wee selection of fabric goodies.
At this point I was only selling online, I was missing the shop local component of my first vision. Then a year in my daytime life halted and changed direction as I made the decision to move back to Toronto. Not because I didn't love Vancouver, but I had just lost the job I loved thanks to the crumbling newspaper industry and was motivated to make a go of my business. Toronto seemed like a natural fit. I had grown up here, so already had a built in support system of friends and family. Toronto is a big business city. Toronto is an Arts Loving city. Toronto is where you go to make it. All the things I had run from when I moved out West. But I loved coming back to visit Toronto, it was always so full of life. So vibrant. Instead I found myself in a new city, where my quirky nature loving stories weren't really as relevant. Stories of mountain trolls were received with blank stares and changes in conversations. (I'm not actually kidding, that has actually happened a couple of times)
But those cards with silly and ridiculous sayings. Everyone, everywhere can love them.
You can already see where this story is heading, right?
You can read part 2 here