Mother’s Day Stories

With Mother’s Day getting closer, I’ve had many customers shopping for gifts for their Mum.

Last weekend, I had a lovely gentleman come in to buy a notebook for his mother.  He told me she was 92 years old and still quite active, walking 5km every morning as well as riding an exercise bike and lifting small weights at home!  He spoke of her so fondly and it was such a lovely and inspiring story to hear. She sounds like an amazing woman.

Then there was the little girl who told me how much her mother liked to draw and sketch, and then shooed her mother out of my stall so she could pick out a notebook to give to her on Mother’s Day!

It’s stories like these that are the reason I love my work so much. It’s not about the books themselves, but about how they’ll be used, and the way they help to connect people.

Focus on the good

There has been a lot on social media recently about what a horrible year 2016 was.  I’ve tried not to buy into any of it.

Yes, some horrible things happened, but there were also a lot of good and positive things too.

handmade gratitude journal

For me, personally, 2016 was a wonderful year. I had some challenges, sure, but it was the most successful year ever for Little Deer Studio and I have much to be grateful for.  This is what I choose to focus on.

This year marked a turning point in my business and I will forever remember 2016 fondly for that.

Tonight when you celebrate the new year, don’t just kick 2016 heartlessly to the ground. Remember the good things that happened to.

I want to thank each and every one of you who have helped Little Deer grow this year and I hope that 2017 brings you many joys and things to be grateful for.


What will be your story?

A handmade book may look beautiful on the outside but it’s the stories that fill its pages within that really give it a soul.


The words don’t need to impress, the drawings don’t need to be perfect.
What matters is that you write the words, that you sketch those drawings. What matters is that you are creating. Expressing yourself. Recording your story. Giving life to your dreams. It doesn’t have to be for anyone else. It can be just for you. And then it is honest and unique. It has a soul all its own.

What will be your next story?

#ctmonthinthelife Day 30 – Treasured

This photo of me was taken back in August 2008.

Photo 29-08-2016, 15 44 58

I was setting up for my first ever market stall. This was before I quit medicine. Before I had any notions of starting a business. Before I made the commitment to myself to only use recycled and tree-free papers in my craft.

I sold handmade greeting cards made from ordinary scrapbooking paper and embellishments.

This is the only photo I have from that day.  I really had no idea what I was doing and I was nervous as hell but I just wanted to give it a go.

I did pretty well that day and I think that was when the little spark inside me was lit.

I keep this photo pinned to the noticeboard in my studio as a reminder of that first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and of how far I have come since then.

#ctmonthinthelife Day 27 – Learning

The past 5 years have been one huge learning curve for me, learning about the zillion things you need to know to run a business.  When I look back over that time, I’m proud of the fact that I taught myself how to do so much. But I think the thing I am most proud of is how I learned to use Filemaker Pro to create my own database program to manage my business.

It was certainly a challenge, but I now have an awesome program that lets me keep track of product inventory, manage my orders, email invoices, record expenses etc as well as generate reports that let me track how my business is going.  It works so well and I’m pretty pleased with myself for creating it.

Photo 26-08-2016, 20 15 34

#ctmonthinthelife Day 23 – Why

There are many reasons why I do what I do. Why I make what I make. Why I gave up my old life to start my own business. But this is the core of it.


Little Deer Studio core values

I value these things above all else.

I want the freedom to live life the way I choose.  To be my own boss. To spend the short time I have on this Earth doing something I love. I want to earn a living doing something meaningful and enjoyable. To combine my love of creating with my love for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. To connect with people who share the same values.  To inspire and encourage others to reconnect with the things that are most important to them and to make a positive impact on the world around me.

This is my why.

#ctmonthinthelife Day 22 – Goal

I have many goals when it comes to my business – some big, some small.  I’m working out the parameters for another goal today – getting the list of items I need to get made in the next few months to stock my market stall in the lead-up to Christmas.

Some of these numbers are a bit scary!  Meeting this goal will be a challenge that’s for sure!

Photo 22-08-2016, 16 57 45

#ctmonthinthelife Day 17 – Photography

This is my trusty DSLR that I’ve had for almost 12 years now!

It has travelled to some amazing places with me, from the Amazon to Antarctica, and has survived some pretty rough handling.  It is basically enjoying retired life now, since I tend to use my iPhone for most pics these days, but it gets called back to service when I need to take product shots for my shop.

Canon DSLR camera

#ctmonthinthelife Day 15 – Rest

Today’s prompt is rather appropriate as Monday is my day off. I do markets every Saturday and Sunday now which both involve 3am starts, so I’m usually pretty tired when Monday comes round. It’s not always easy having a day away from the studio as there is usually something I want to be working on, but I force myself to do it because I know how important it is to rest and take care of yourself.

And on my rest day, this is usually where you can find me – in my veggie garden.

And even though I’m “working” – pulling weeds, making compost and planting, it’s a completely different kind of work from the work I do for my business, and I really enjoy it.

I love being out in Nature, getting soil under my fingernails, watching the bees and the little skinks and the birds that come to eat grubs. It is immensely satisfying eating food that you have grown yourself and I find that I am always most at peace in my garden.

Photo 15-08-2016, 15 58 06

By the way, if you want to see more pics of my veggie garden, you can follow me on my other Instagram account @littledeerdyani

#ctmonthinthelife Day 13 – Post Office

Most of the time, when I venture out to my local post office, it’s to send off customer orders.

But it was around this time, four years ago, that I sent off something else quite significant.

That was the day I cancelled my registration with the Australian Medical Board. The day I officially stopped being a doctor.  My business was only a year old at the time, and I had no idea whether it would survive another year, let alone four, but I knew this was the life I wanted and that I would never want to go back to medicine.

And I have not once regretted that decision.

Photo 13-08-2016, 07 59 31

#ctmonthinthelife Day 12 – Favourite

This is my favourite part of the studio, and one of my favourite things about my work.  It’s the place where I store all my paper scraps and all the used paper that folks have given me, before I turn it into new handmade paper.

It makes me happy to think that I can turn what other people see as waste, into something beautiful and functional. Sure, I could put it in the council recycle bin, but it would probably just end up as toilet paper or paper towel.  These scraps are destined for a much grander reincarnation!

And yes, the wall is painted purple – it’s my favourite colour!

Photo 12-08-2016, 15 28 51

#ctmonthinthelife Day 11 – Assistant

I don’t have any human assistants.  Everything at Little Deer Studio is designed, created, photographed, packaged and shipped by me!

But I could not run my business without my trusty Mac.

I spend literally hours on my computer every day, processing emails, updating websites, editing product photos, using social media, book-keeping, completing market applications and so much more. This little machine is almost 7 years old now and pretty much runs 24/7 but has never once let me down. Some days I think it works harder than I do!

Photo 11-08-2016, 10 05 10

#ctmonthinthelife Day 2 – Hands

My hands aren’t pretty. Long, perfectly manicured nails wouldn’t last long in studio (or in the veggie garden!) and I don’t really go in for that sort of thing anyway.  And I’m starting to get arthritis which makes stitching books a bit hard sometimes, especially in Winter, but keeping them warm while I’m working seems to help.

But I don’t mind how my hands look, because they work just fine and I couldn’t do what I do without them so I am grateful for them every day.

Photo 2-08-2016, 11 03 08

Create & Thrive #ctmonthinthelife Instagram Challenge

Do you follow me on Instagram?
Fellow Brisbane creative Jess Van Den from Create and Thrive is running her “Month in the Life” Instagram photo challenge this month and I thought I would join in the fun.

The daily prompts relate to different aspects of an artist’s life and there are lots of folks all over the world taking part so if you want to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like for everyday folks running a creative business, be sure to follow the hashtag #ctmonthinthelife

ct challenge prompts